“It is not for him to pride himself who loveth his own country, but rather for him who loveth the whole world. The earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens.”
The Bahá’í Faith is an independent monotheistic religion. It has its own sacred scriptures, its own laws, its own calendar and its own ceremonies to mark the important events in the life of the believer.
The independent status of the Bahá’í Faith has been recognized by many scholarly authorities including the renowned historian Arnold Toynbee, who wrote in 1959: “Bahá’ísm (sic) is an independent religion on a par with Islam, Christianity, and the other recognized world religions. Bahá’ísm is not a sect of some other religion; it is a separate religion, and it has the same status as the other recognized religions.”
Bahá’ís follow the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh, who lived from 1817 to 1892. Bahá’u’lláh is regarded by the Bahá’ís as the most recent in the line of Messengers of God that stretches back beyond recorded time and includes Abraham, Moses, Krishna, Buddha, Zoroaster, Jesus Christ and Muhammad.
In the words of Shoghi Effendi, the great grandson of Bahá’u’lláh and Head of the Faith from 1921 to 1957: “The fundamental principle enunciated by Bahá’u’lláh is that religious truth is not absolute but relative, that Divine Revelation is a continuous and progressive process, that all the great religions of the world are divine in origin, that their basic principles are in complete harmony, that their aims and purpose are one and the same, that their teachings are but facets of one truth, that their functions are complementary, that they differ only in the non-essential aspects of their doctrines, and that their missions represent successive stages in the spiritual evolution of human society.”
In addition to His Writings on spiritual and philosophical subjects, Bahá’u’lláh left extensive teachings about world peace, which He declared, is not only attainable but inevitable at this stage in history. Believing that peace must be founded on a universal consciousness of the oneness of mankind, He laid down a number of basic principles for society, including:
In its scriptures and in the diverse activities of its membership, the Bahá’í Faith addresses virtually every important trend in the world today, from the new emphasis on cultural diversity and environmental conservation to the decentralization of decision-making; from a renewed commitment to family life and morality to the call for the establishment of a “New world order.”