Bahá’ís have regular meetings for worship and social and educational activities for children, youth, and adults, open to all. Bahá’ís gather in study circles to explore in a participatory manner Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings. There are also activities for service, observances of Bahá’í holy days and other events to which all are welcome. Informal gatherings, sometimes referred to as “fireside meetings,” provide an open setting for asking questions and learning more about the Faith for oneself.
A person becomes a Bahá’í by recognizing Bahá’u’lláh as the Messenger of God for this age and accepting to follow His laws and teachings and the administrative institutions He established for the unification of humankind. People enroll in a Bahá’í community by signifying such belief and commitment, orally or in writing, to the responsible Bahá’í institution.
The Bahá’í community’s collective life is administered by nine-member consultative councils that are democratically elected, without nomination or electioneering, at the local, national and international levels. These are Local Spiritual Assemblies, National Spiritual Assemblies, and the Universal House of Justice. Additionally, appointed advisors assist and counsel local and national communities and institutions in their development. There is no clergy in the Bahá’í Faith. Local Bahá’í communities meet every 19 days for a “Feast,” a gathering that includes consultation on community activities as well as devotional and social portions.
There is no clergy in the Bahá’í Faith. Bahá’u’lláh taught that in an age of universal education, there was no longer a need for a special class of clergy. Instead, He provided a framework for administering the affairs of the Faith through a system of elected councils at the local, national and international levels.
The Bahá’í World Centre is established in the Haifa/’Akká area of Israel, the location of Bahá’u’lláh’s exile in 1868 and His death in 1892. The area is today the site of the Faith’s most sacred shrines—the resting places of Bahá’u’lláh and His Forerunner, the Báb—and the seat of the Faith’s international governing body.
Bahá’u’lláh taught that extremes of wealth and poverty are not conducive to a just society and must be eliminated. Bahá’ís understand that with the development of a proper culture of work as service to humankind, supported by such means as just governance and universal education, the problem of poverty will be resolved.
Bahá’ís take their civic responsibilities seriously and uphold the authority of established governments through loyalty and obedience to the laws of their country. Bahá’ís, in whatever country they reside, are prohibited from holding membership in any political party or faction. While participating in elections for their government, they abstain from partisanship. Bahá’ís may serve their government in administrative posts but do not accept political appointments or run for elected office. Such service reflects the practice within the Bahá’í community, which holds elections for its administrative councils that are entirely without nominations or campaigning.
Bahá’ís’ vision of the future derives from a fundamental understanding that human beings have been created to “carry forward an ever-advancing civilization.” This advancement is impelled by the coming of the Messengers of God from age to age. Bahá’u’lláh proclaimed that the time has arrived for humanity in all its diversity to realize its potential to live as one united people, empowered through His Revelation to establish a world civilization based on justice and peace.
The family is the basic unit of social life, and the progress of society depends on soundly functioning families. Monogamous marriage between a man and a woman is the foundation of family life. Bahá’u’lláh described matrimony as “a fortress for well-being and salvation” and identified the rearing of children as the fundamental, though not the only, purpose of marriage.
No. The Bahá’í Faith is protected from division by a Covenant established by Bahá’u’lláh. Instituted to preserve the unity of His followers and prevent schism after His passing, the Covenant calls on all Bahá’ís to turn for guidance to His eldest son, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the appointed interpreter of His teachings, then to Shoghi Effendi, Guardian of the Faith until his passing in 1957, and subsequently to the Universal House of Justice, the elected international council. Those who do not, or cease to, observe these provisions of the Covenant cannot legitimately claim to be Bahá’ís. Despite efforts by individuals to divert authority to themselves, the Bahá’í community is a single, organically united body, free of schisms or factions.