Bahá’u’lláh is recognized by millions throughout the world as the
Messenger of God for this age. The Bahá’í Faith is founded on His teachings.
Born in 1817 to a prominent family in Iran, He showed from childhood an unusual
intellectual precocity, although unschooled in the kind of learning prevalent
in 19th century Iran; He demonstrated, too, a particular devotion to relief of
the condition of the poor. His given name was Mírza Husayn ‘Alí,
but He identified Himself as Bahá’u’lláh, which means “Glory of God,”
a title by which He was addressed by His Forerunner, the Báb.
Because of His teachings, He was banished into an exile,
eventually lasting forty years, that took Him to the Holy Land.
It was there that He passed away in 1892.
Son of Bahá'u'lláh, designated His successor and authorized interpreter of His writings.
Named `Abbás after His grandfather, `Abdu'l-Bahá was known to the general public as `Abbás Effendi.
Bahá'u'lláh gave Him such titles as "the Most Great Branch," "the Mystery of God," and "the Master."
After Bahá'u'lláh's passing, He chose the name `Abdu'l-Bahá, meaning "Servant of Bahá'u'lláh."
The title, meaning "Gate," assumed by Siyyid `Alí-Muhammad, who was the Prophet-Founder
of the Bábí Faith and the Forerunner of Bahá'u'lláh. Born 20 October 1819, the Báb proclaimed Himself
to be the Promised One of Islám and announced that His mission was to alert the people to the imminent
advent of "Him Whom God shall make manifest," namely, Bahá'u'lláh. Because of these claims, the Báb was
executed by order of Náziri'd-Dín Sháh on 9 July 1850.
Shoghi Effendi Rabbání: (1897-1957)
The Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith after the passing of
`Abdu'l-Bahá in 1921, designated in His Will and Testament as His successor
in interpreting the Bahá'í writings and as Head of the Faith. Regarded highly for his writings.
Universal House of Justice:
Head of the Bahá'í Faith after the passing of Shoghi Effendi,
and the supreme administrative body ordained by Bahá'u'lláh in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas,
His Book of Laws. The Universal House of Justice is elected every five years by the members of
all National Spiritual Assemblies, who gather at an International Convention. The House of Justice was
elected for the first time in 1963. It occupied its permanent Seat on Mount Carmel in 1983.
National Spiritual Assembly:
The national administrative body in the Bahá'í Faith, ordained in the Bahá'í sacred writings,
with authority over all activities and affairs of the Bahá'í Faith throughout its area.
Among its duties are to stimulate, unify, and coordinate the manifold activities of Local Spiritual
Assemblies and of individual Bahá'ís within its jurisdiction. The members of National Spiritual
Assemblies throughout the world constitute the electoral college for the Universal House of Justice.
At Ridván 1998, there were 179 National or Regional Spiritual Assemblies.
Local Spiritual Assembly:
The local administrative body in the Bahá'í Faith, ordained in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas.
The nine members are directly elected by secret ballot each year at Ridván from among the
adult believers in a community.