October 22, 2017, WORLD, Millions of Baha’is around the world celebrate the bicentenary of the birth of Baha’u’llah, the founder of their religion. His teachings embrace the unity of Mankind and of religion, precepts that do not appear to flourish in two countries central to the faith – Iran and Israel.
Baha’i is banned in Iran, where Baha’u’llah and co-founder Bab, established it. Iran’s Baha’is make up the country’s largest non-Muslim minority. Foreign Policy magazine reports that scores of members of the faith sit in Iranian prisons. The charges against seven prominent members include “corruption on earth,” “insulting religious sanctities,” “espionage for Israel,” and “propaganda against the system.”
Israel, founded as a Jewish state, and at odds with other religions over Jerusalem’s holy places, inherited its resident Baha’is. The country hosts the Baha’i headquarters near Acre and the Shrine of the Bab and its gardens on Mount Carmel in Haifa. The association with Israel dates to an accident of history. In 1868 Baha’u’llah, his family and a small group of followers were banished from Iran to Acre, then a penal colony under Ottoman rule. Followers come from all over the world to serve for specified times at the headquarters and shrine.
Baha’i is one of the youngest of the world's major religions. Unusually for a faith, it is a monotheism that embraces all major religions, positing that God enlightened humankind over the ages by sending prophets — Abraham, Zoroaster, Krishna, the Buddha, Jesus and Muhammad. The Bab and Baha'u'llah were the latest in the chain. Baha'is revere marriage, family, public service and both science and religion, since both seek truth.
Baha’is Prepare for Bicentennial in 2017 (Huff Post Dec 2016)
No Mercy for Iran's Baha'i (Foreign Affairs (May 2017)
Introduction to Bahá'í beliefs and God (BBC Sep 2009)
Iranian Jews, Christians, and Baha’i Stuck in Iran (Daily Beast Jan 2017)
The Little Religion That Persists: The Baha'i in Israel (Time Jul 2011)