On 23 May, 1844, in Shiraz, Persia, a young man known as the Báb announced the imminent appearance of the next Messenger of God, Bahá'u'lláh, awaited by all the peoples of the world. Although Himself the bearer of an independent revelation from God, the Báb declared that His purpose was to prepare mankind for the coming of Bahá'u'lláh.
Swift and savage persecution at the hands of the dominant Muslim clergy followed this announcement. The Báb was arrested, beaten, imprisoned, and finally on 9 July, 1850 was executed in the public square of the city of Tabriz. Some 20,000 of His followers perished in a series of massacres throughout Persia. Today, the majestic building with the golden dome (picture above), overlooking the Bay of Haifa, Israel, and set amidst beautiful gardens, is the Shrine where the Báb's earthly remains are entombed.
The Bahá'í Faith is the youngest of the world's independent religions. The Founder, Bahá'u'lláh, is regarded by Bahá'ís as the most recent in the line of Messengers of God that stretches back beyond recorded time and that includes Abraham, Moses, Buddha, Krishna, Zoroaster, Christ and Muhammad.
The central theme of Bahá'u'lláh's message is that humanity is one single race and that the day has come for its unification in one global society. God, Bahá'u'lláh said, has set in motion historical forces that are breaking down traditional barriers of race, class, creed, and nation, that will, in time, give birth to a universal civilization. The principal challenge facing the peoples of the earth is to accept the fact of their oneness and to assist the processes of harmony and unification.
Bahá'u'lláh was born in Iran in 1817. He lived a life of exile, imprisonment and persecution, but also one of great influence. Read more about the Life of Bahá'u'lláh
From earliest childhood, the eldest son of Bahá'u'lláh, `Abdu'l-Bahá (picture below), shared His father's sufferings and banishments. Bahá'u'lláh appointed Him the one authorised interpreter of the Bahá'í teachings and as Head of the Faith after His own passing. In `Abdu'l-Bahá was seen a perfect example of the Bahá'í way of life.
While `Abdu'l-Bahá was still a prisoner of the Ottomans, the first Bahá'í pilgrims from the western world arrived in Acre in 1898. After His release in 1908, `Abdu'l-Bahá set out on a series of journeys which, in 1911-1913, took Him to Europe and America. There He proclaimed Bahá'u'lláh's message of unity and social justice to church congregations, peace societies, the members of trade unions, university faculties, journalists, government officials, and many public audiences.
`Abdu'l-Bahá passed away in 1921, having consolidated the foundations of the Bahá'í Faith and greatly expanded its reach. The northern rooms of the Shrine of the Báb (picture above), where He is interred, are a place of pilgrimage for Bahá'ís.