The Bahá'í Faith (
Persian: بهائی Bahā'i) is a religion teaching the essential worth of all religions, and the unity and equality of all people. Established by
Bahá'u'lláh in 1863, it initially grew in the
Middle East and now has between 5 and 7 million adherents, known as Bahá'ís, spread out into most of the world's countries and territories, with the highest concentration in Iran.
The religion was born in
Iran, where it has faced ongoing persecution since its inception.
 It grew from the mid-19th century
Bábí religion, whose founder taught that God would soon send a
prophet in the manner of
 In 1863, after being banished from his native Iran, Bahá'u'lláh announced that he was this prophet. He was further exiled, spending over a decade in the prison city of
Akka in the
Ottoman province of
Syria, in what is now
Israel. Following Bahá'u'lláh's death in 1892, leadership of the religion fell to his son
`Abdu'l-Bahá (1844-1921), and later his great-grandson
Shoghi Effendi (1897-1957). Bahá'ís around the world annually elect local, regional, and national
Spiritual Assemblies that govern the affairs of the religion, and every five years the members of all National Spiritual Assemblies elect the
Universal House of Justice, the nine-member supreme governing institution of the worldwide Bahá'í community, which sits in
Haifa, Israel near the
shrine of Báb.
Bahá'í teachings are in some ways similar to other monotheistic faiths:
God is considered single and all-powerful. However, Bahá'u'lláh taught that religion is orderly and progressively revealed by one God through
Manifestations of God who are the founders of major world religions throughout history;
Muhammad being the most recent in the period before the
Báb and Bahá'u'lláh. As such, Bahá'ís regard the major religions as fundamentally unified in purpose, though varied in social practices and interpretations. There is a similar emphasis on the
unity of all people, openly rejecting notions of racism and nationalism. At the heart of Bahá'í teachings is the goal of a
unified world order that ensures the prosperity of all nations, races, creeds, and classes.
Letters written by Bahá'u'lláh to various individuals, including some heads of state, have been collected and canonized into a body of
Bahá'í scripture that includes works by his son
`Abdu'l-Bahá, and also
the Báb, who is regarded as Bahá'u'lláh's forerunner. Prominent among Bahá'í literature are the
Some Answered Questions, and