The Bahá'í Faith is the newest of the world's major religions. In 1844 the Persian prophet The Báb (Bab--"Gate" in Arabic) established a new religion, Babism, distinct from Islam. One of the Báb's primary teachings was that he was merely preparing the way for "Him whom God shall manifest", a prophet greater than himself whom would come to Persia in only a few years time. This prophet was Bahá'u'lláh , who formally announced his revelation to his family and a small number of followers in 1863, in Baghdad, Iraq.
Bahá'u'lláh's primary teachings are these: that there is but one supreme deity (God), that there is but one humanity--the distinctions of race, gender, etc. are but distinctions of facade, not innate character or ability, and all are equal in the sight of God; and that all the world's great religions receive their inspiration from the same divine source.
Today, there are more than six million Bahá'ís spread throughout nearly every country, island, and territory in the world. The 2002 World Almanac lists 133,500 in the USA and 28,500 in Canada. Bahá'ís actively promote issues of social justice and spirituality wherever they are found, holding the concept of the unity of mankind as the standard for their actions.
Bahá'u'lláh promoted the concept of international governance, and hence Bahá'ís have actively supported the United Nations. The Bahá'í International Community has consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council and UNICEF, and has undertaken joint development programs with United Nations agencies. (See further information on the relationship between the Bahá'í International Community and the United Nations.)
Usage note: The correct orthographies are "Bahá'í", "Bahá'ís", "Báb", and "Bahá'u'lláh". Because of typographic limitations, the forms "Bahai", "Bahais", "Bab", and "Bahaullah" are often used (for example on Wikipedia).
Brief Chronology for the Baha'i Faith:
May 23rd, 1844 Declaration of the Bab in Shiraz, Iran.
July 9th, 1850, Martyrdom of the Bab in Tabriz, Iran.
Jan 12th, 1853, Exile of Baha’u’llah from Tehran to Baghdad after four months of imprisonment in an underground dungeon.
April 23rd, 1863, Declaration of Baha’u’llah in Garden of Ridvan on the eve of his exile to Constantinople.
Aug 31st, 1868, arrival of Baha’u’llah into the Prison-city of Akka in the Holy Land.
May 29th, 1892, Ascension of Baha’u’llah.
1893 First newspaper mention of the Baha’i Faith in United States.
1898 First pilgrimage by Western believers, including Pheobe Hearst and the first African-American beleiver, Robert Turner, to the Holy Land.
September 1908, ‘Abdu’l-Baha is released from prison and is 64 years old.
Apr. 1912 – Dec. 1912, Travels of ‘Abdu’l-Baha in North America.
1914-1918, World War I. ‘Abdu’l-Baha writes the Tablets of the Divine Plan.
April 27th, 1920, ‘Abdu’l-Baha is knighted by the British Empire in recognition of His humanitarian work during WWI.
Nov. 28th, 1921, Ascension of ‘Abdu’l-Baha in Haifa
(This date marks the close of the "Heroic Age of the Baha'i Faith" and the opening of the "Formative Age.")
1937, Shoghi Effendi launches the "Divine Plan" for the diffusion of the fragrance of the Cause.
1944, Publication of "God Passes By" by Shoghi Effendi.
1951, Eleven functioning National Spiritual Assemblies.
1951-1957, appointment of 32 additional "Hands of the Cause" by Shoghi Effendi.
Nov. 1957, passing of Shoghi Effendi.
1957 – April, 1963. Faith is guided by 27 remaining Hands of the Cause.
April 1963, Election of first Universal House of Justice by representatives of 56 National Spritual Assemblies gathered in Haifa.
This chronology taken from website http://www.mindspring.com/~lmno/vinsa6.html
Houses of Worship. There are currently 8 Bahai Houses of Worship around the world. There is one each at: Willmette, Illinois, USA; Sydney, Australia; Apia, Western Samoa; Kampala, Uganda; Panama City, Panama; New Delhi, India and Frankfurt, Germany. Temple services are held to worship God - there are no collections, there are no sermons, the Bahai Faith has no clergy and there is no ritual. Only the Word of God is uttered within the Temple, with readings from all the Holy Writings of the earth. The only instrument used is the human voice - the choir in any Baha'i temple sings without instrumental accompanyment. The name used in the Bahai Texts for the Temple is the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár (the Dawning-place of the Praise of God).