Baha'i(redirected from Bahaist)
Also found in: Dictionary.
See S. Effendi, The Promised Day Is Come (rev. ed. 1980); P. Smith, The Baha'i Religion (1988).
Baha'i(religion, spiritualism, and occult)
In 1844 a Muslim named Ali Muhhamad Shirazi declared himself the spokesman for the twelfth Imam, or prayer leader, anticipated by some Shi'ite Muslims ever since the ninth century. Calling himself Bab-ud-Din, the "Gate of Faith," he introduced sweeping reforms into Islam, such as raising the status of women. A group of followers gathered around him, calling themselves Babis, "followers of the Bab." Although Bab-ud-Din was executed in 1850, he believed he had prepared the way for another who would found a worldwide religion.
A follower who escaped after the execution believed himself to be the predicted one. Mirza Husayn Ali took the name Baha'u'llah, "Glory of Allah," in 1863, and those who followed him became known as Baha'is.
Imprisoned in Acre, Turkey, Baha'u'llah was still able to receive guests and write. After his death in 1892, his son Abdul Baha took over the movement, traveling and lecturing extensively, eventually even receiving knighthood in England for his work promoting world peace.
Now, having moved far away from Islam, Baha'i is recognized as a separate religion.
Baha'u'llah's emphasis was on unity. He believed his religion to be the culmination of all the religions of the world, though he didn't seek to overthrow any of them. He taught that the Qur'an should be interpreted allegorically and was equal to the scriptures of all other religions. He did not believe in the existence of angels or spirits, and he felt that heaven and hell are symbolic conditions of the soul, not literal places.
He taught his followers that all religions come from the same source, and that divine revelation is continuous and progressive. Messengers of God, according to the teachings of Baha'u'llah, include Moses, Zoroaster, Jesus, Muhammad, and the Buddah. Baha'u'llah was the most recent, the Manifestation of God for the New Era. His was one of the first world religions to preach the unity of the whole human race and to teach that all religions are the work of one God.
Communal worship takes place in members' homes, consisting of prayer and readings from various scriptures and Baha'u'llah's writings. The Baha'i vision is positive and world-embracing, seeking the elimination of war and armaments and the formation of a world tribunal for settling disputes.
Some five million followers carry the vision throughout the world.