A Short Introduction to the Bahá'í Faith by Moojan Momen
The magazine of the Bahá'í International Community
Uplifting Words A good site for beginners
The Bahá'ís Magazine of the International Bahá'í Community
The National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the Netherlands has its seat in The Hague (Riouwstraat 27, 2585 GR). Bahá'ís live in 180 communities in the country. → Website
The first Local Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'í was elected in Amsterdam in 1948. On a regional scale the Netherlands fell under the Spiritual Assembly of the Benelux until 1962.
The first traces of the Bahá'í Faith in the Netherlands date from the years 1912-1917 when the Theosophy Publishing Society in Amsterdam translated and issued a few booklets and brochures about this new religion from Persia. Very little is known about the Bahá'ís who lived in the Netherlands then. In those days there was no form of registration at all. In the wake of Theosophy and its universal vision on religion, the Bahá'í Faith got, in 1913, its first Dutch followers.
In 2002 the Rotterdam ophthalmologist Dr. Jelle de Vries received a Ph.D. in Theology from the Catholic University of Brabant with his thesis, The Bábí Question You Mentioned…; the origins of the Bahá'í Community of the Netherlands, 1844-1962. He reported that the first news about the birth of the new religion from Persia was a dispatch in the edition of the “Nieuwe Rotterdamsche Courant” of 16 October 1852 about the failed assassination of the Persian King, Nasr’id-Din Shah, by disgruntled followers of the Báb. Agents of the Persian Trading Company J.P.C. Hotz & Zoon were, after 1869, the first Dutchmen to receive texts of the new faith. With these and other texts, the Leiden orientalist Michael Jan de Goeje (1836-1909) was able to publish an article in 1893 in “De Nieuwe Gids” about the Bahá'í religion.
The new faith received some recognition when, in 1920, two Persian Bahá'ís brought a letter from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to the Central Organization for a Sustainable Peace in The Hague. The centre dealt with the earlier Hague conventions on the pacific settlement of disputes between states. There followed the first polemics against this “Eastern Unity religion” by Christian antagonists. Included in the handful of Bahá'ís before the Second World War were some German immigrants. The Nazi regime had forbidden the supranational and race-unifying Bahá'í faith in Germany. In 1946 (mainly) American pioneers of the Faith began the systematic formation of a Bahá'í organization in Europe, including the Netherlands.
The election of the first National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the Netherlands took place in 1962. A year later the nine members of this Assembly were included in the number of delegates from all parts of the world who, in Haifa, Israel, elected the first Universal House of Justice, the Bahá'í world administration.
On the history of the Bahá'í faith in the Netherlands by the Dutch-Canadian sociologist, Wil C. van den Hoonaard.
The first Bahá'í who put a foot on Surinam soil was the American Leonora Stirling Holsapple. In October 1927 she gave a lecture in the "Loge Concordia" centre in the capital Paramaribo. On 22 October 1927 an article appeared in the evening newspaper “De West” in which she was called “an Apostle of Peace”. Surinam in those days was still a Dutch colony (Netherlands Guyana). In 1975 the country became an independent republic and has its own National Spiritual Assembly. The Bahá'í Centre can be found in Paramaribo on Dr. J.F. Nassylaan 27.
In September 2009, given the search word “bahá'í”, Google found 1,3 million locations in 0.21 seconds on the Internet. In some cases search machines produce sites of non-Bahá'í groups, who misuse the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh. In general these sources may be recognizable by the tone they adopt and the unserious choice of subjects.
The authentic Writings of the Bahá'í Faith are in the Persian and Arabic languages. Major parts are published in authorized, English translations. For the first time in the religious history a Revelation has been documented in the Bearers’ handwriting or sealed Tablets,
The Bahá'í teachings emphasize the creative power of the divine word, but there is no holy language in this modern faith. The accent lies on the personal understanding of the teachings by the individual. Individual interpretation or preaching of the Writings is not binding for anybody.
English is the global language of the Universal House of Justice, the highest authority of the Bahá'í world community. Bahá’u’lláh taught that mankind should vest in a living or constructed language as the common language of the world. Language is seen also as the key to the human heart. God speaks in human language through His Manifestations. In the Bahá'í Revelation the vernacular of the Prophets had been Persian, which is written in Arabic characters. Both the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh also revealed Writings in classic Arabic.
Searching the Writings (multilingual)
STUDY & RESEARCH
There are more than 5 million Bahá’ís in the world.
The Bahá’í Faith is established in virtually every country and in many depen
dent territories and overseas departments of countries. Most nations and a few territories have a National Spiritual Assembly elected by the Bahá’ís of that jurisdiction.
Bahá’ís live in some 100,000 localities around the globe. Thousands of these localities elect a local Spiritual Assembly each year.
About 2,100 indigenous tribes, races, and ethnic groups are represented in the Bahá’í community.
Members of the Bahá’í Faith are engaged in approximately 600 ongoing social and economic development projects, and several thousand smaller projects of fixed duration.
The Bahá’í International Community has been registered with the United Nations as a nongovernmental organization since 1948, it holds consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council and with UNICEF, and it has an ongoing working relationship with several other U.N. agencies.
There are currently seven Bahá’í Houses of Worship – in Australia, Germany, India, Panama, Samoa, Uganda, and the United States. The eighth temple will be in Chile. More than 100 sites for future temples have been acquired.
Bahá’í writings and other literature have been translated into more than 800 languages.
Each year, nearly 400,000 people visit the Bahá’í Shrine, terraces, and gardens on Mount Carmel in Haifa, Israel.
The country with the most Bahá’ís is India, with over a million Bahá’ís. The Bahá’í House of Worship in New Delhi is the most visited Bahá’í site in the world; it had 4.6 million visitors in 2007.
In Iran, where the Bahá’í Faith originated, there are now about 300,000 Bahá’ís, constituting the largest non-Muslim religious minority in that country.
The Encyclopedia Britannica Yearbook has listed the Bahá’í Faith as the second most widespread religion in the world (in terms of geographic reach), after Christianity.
In the Revelation of the Báb the numbers 9 and 19 have a special meaning. The calendar of the Bahá'í faith has 19 months of 19 days plus a holiday period of 4 to 5 days. (Years in the Bahá'i calendar are counted from 21 March 1844 CE, the beginning of the Bahá'i Era (abbreviated BE). The Bahá'í World Centre on Mount Carmel in Israel consists of 19 terraces.
The numerical value of 9 in the abjad system of the Arabic alphabet is the same as the four letters which form the word “Bahá”. “Bahá” is known as the Most Great Name of God. (b=2, h=5, á=1 and ‘ (hamza)=1, added together they equal 9) Also, 9 is the highest single digit and therefore symbolizes unity and universality, principles upon which the Bahá'í order lies. The elected administrative assemblies of the Bahá'í world have a minimum of 9 members. Bahá'í houses of worship have nine doors that are open for everyone. However, there are no “lucky” or “unlucky” numbers in the Bahá'í Teachings.
“Yá Bahá’u’l-Abhá” is, for Bahá'ís, a call to God, which is written here in calligraphy, the Greatest Name. “Bahá” translates from the Arabic as the Biblical expression “Glory”, and is seen in Islamic theology as the greatest of the many names of God. “Abhá” is the superlative OF “Bahá”.
“The call ‘Yá Bahá’u’l-Abhá’ is more productive for your soul than all scientific knowledge and all earthly riches. Speak it in your loneliness, call it out in your joy, murmur it in your pain, sing it in your weakest moments, and it will give you strength. It will bring the Concourse on High to the door of your life and place the love of God around your soul. It will open the heaven of mysteries, colors and riddles of life. It includes everything within it, surrounds everything, contains everything.” (Unauthorized explanation)
This loved symbol of the Bahá'ís is often engraved on rings. It forms a calligraphy of the Arabic letters B and H (bahá, glory), and depicts the levels of God, the Manifestation of God and mankind, bound together vertically by revelation. The two pentagrams indicate the Manifestations of God for this era, the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh.