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Founding and Brief History of The Faith
The Baha'i Faith began in 1844 in modern-day Iran when Siyyid `Alí-Muhammad, now known as “The Báb,”--translated as “the Gate” from Farsi--revealed that a greater manifestation of God was coming. Nineteen years later, in 1863, Mírzá Husayn `Alí Núrí proclaimed that he was the manifestation that The Báb prophesied. He took the title of Bahá'u'lláh, meaning “Glory of God,” and founded the Baha’i Faith.
Bahá'u'lláh said that the people were at a time for all of mankind, across geographic boundaries, races, and religions, to unite and live as one global community. He taught that there is one God who has revealed himself to humanity throughout history with different messengers, or revelations of God, including Abraham, Krishna, Zoroaster, Moses, Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad. As a result, while religions differ in how they meet the needs of different times, places, and cultures, ultimately they all come from the same source, God.
Within the Baha'i community, including the Minneapolis contingent, the deeply held conviction of the oneness of religions is embedded in daily conversation, the spiritual education programs, and devotionals. Furthermore, Bahá'u'lláh's vision for the world, uniting all of humanity, is fundamental to the work done today by Baha’is in Minneapolis. (Junior Youth Groups, Youth Devotional)
Before Bahá'u'lláh died in 1892, he named his eldest son, `Abdu ́l-Bahá’, to carry on The Faith. On the divine authority of `Abdu ́l-Bahá’, Bahá'u'lláh wrote, “Whoso turneth towards Him hath turned towards God, and whoso turneth away from Him hath turned away from My beauty, hath repudiated My Proof, and transgressed against Me” (Quoted in The World Order of Baha'u'llah, p. 135).
Near the end of his life in 1921, `Abdu ́l-Bahá’, appointed his eldest grandson, Shoghi Effendi, to carry on the Faith. Similar to Bahá'u'lláh’s message, `Abdu ́l-Bahá’ wrote about Shoghi Effendi, “He that obeyeth him not, hath not obeyed God; he that turneth away from him, hath turned away from God and he that denieth him, hath denied the True One” (The Will and Testament of Abdu'l-Baha, p. 25).
`Abdu ́l-Bahá’ also mentioned an institute, the “House of Justice,” as a successor, saying, “All must seek guidance and turn unto the Center of the Cause and the House of Justice. And he that turneth unto whatsoever else is indeed in grievous error” (Will and Testament, p. 25). However, at the time of Abdu ́l-Bahá's decree, no House of Justice had actually been established. Therefore, when Shoghi Eggendi died suddenly in 1957, there was no logical way to continue the hereditay line of succession. In response, twenty-seven “Hands of the Cause of God,” that had been designated by Shoghi Effendi as “Chief Stewards” of the Faith, spent six years establishing the Universal House of Justice. In 1963, fifty-six national Baha’i communities elected the nine-man Universal House of Justice, which some Baha’is consider to be direct divine guidance.
The history of hereditary succession of Baha'i leaders serves to explain the importance of Bahá'u'lláh and `Abdu ́l-Bahá’ and Shoghi Effendi and the Universal House of Justice in the Faith. The writings from each of the leaders of The Faith, including the writings produced by Universal House of Justice, are of great significance in people’s lives. For the community in Minneapolis, `Abdu ́l-Bahá’s 1912 visit to Minneapolis was an historical event of huge importance. (The Writings of The Faith, Spread to Minneapolis)
Additionally, this history is often taught to young Baha’is in Minneapolis. The history of persecution in Iran and elsewhere is an important aspect of the history, as religious persectuion comes up often in conversation among some Baha’is.