This post is about the Baha’i Faith, which is officially the last monotheistic religion. As a private tour guide in Israel, a must-see stop that is listed on all the guidebooks is the famous Baha’i Gardens in Haifa. But not many know about the relatively new religion that sprung in Persia in the 19th century. One of the private tours that I offer also includes a visit to the sacred sites for the Baha’i faith around Israel. For example, the Shrine of the Bab is located right in the center of the Gardens. You can’t really miss it since there is a big golden dome that decorates the structure. And not to mention the holiest spot for the Baha’i. Of course, I mean the Shrine of Baháʼu’lláh located near Acre. All of the above is recognized as A World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Now if you don’t want to dedicate the entire day learning about the Baha’i that’s OK. You can still get a nice photo on top of Mount Carmel while the Baha’i Gardens are serving as a backdrop. Usually, I combine it with my northern seashore private tour. This private tour includes Caesarea, Acre, and last is an amazing view on top of Mt. Carmel overlooking the gardens and the Bay of Haifa.
The Baha’i Faith
The Baháʼí Faith is a religion teaching the essential worth of all religions; and the unity of all people. Established by Baháʼu’lláh in 1863. It initially grew in Persia and parts of the Middle East. Where it has faced ongoing persecution since its inception. It is estimated to have between 5 and 8 million adherents, known as Baháʼís, spread throughout most of the world’s countries and territories.
To begin with, the Baha’i Faith has three central figures. First, the Báb (1819–1850) is considered a herald who taught that God would soon send a prophet in the same way as Jesus or Muhammad and was executed by Iranian authorities in 1850. Second, the Baháʼu’lláh (1817-1892) claimed to be that prophet in 1863 and faced exile and imprisonment for most of his life. And lastly, his son ʻAbdu’l-Bahá (1844-1921); was released from confinement in 1908 and made teaching trips to Europe and America.
Following ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s death in 1921, the leadership of the religion fell to his grandson Shoghi Effendi (1897–1957). Baháʼís 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 Baháʼí community; which sits in Haifa, Israel, near the Shrine of the Báb.
The Baha’i Teachings
To begin with, Baháʼí teachings are in some ways similar to other monotheistic faiths. First, God is considered single and all-powerful. However, Baháʼu’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. For example, Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad are the most recent in the period before the Báb and Baháʼu’lláh. Moreover, Baháʼís 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 Baháʼí teachings is the goal of a unified world order that ensures the prosperity of all nations; races, creeds, and classes.
God In the Baha’i Faith
The Baháʼí writings describe a single; personal; inaccessible; omniscient; omnipresent; imperishable, and almighty God who is the creator of all things in the universe. The existence of God and the universe is thought to be eternal, without a beginning or end. Though inaccessible directly; God is nevertheless seen as conscious of creation; with a will and purpose that is expressed through messengers termed Manifestations of God.
Baháʼí teachings state that God is too great for humans to fully comprehend. Or to create a complete and accurate image of themselves. Therefore, human understanding of God is achieved through his revelations via his Manifestations. In the Baháʼí religion, God is often referred to by titles and attributes. For example, the All-Powerful, or the All-Loving. And there is a substantial emphasis on monotheism.
The Baháʼí teachings state that the attributes which are applied to God are used to translate Godliness into human terms and also to help individuals concentrate on their own attributes in worshiping God to develop their potentialities on their spiritual path. According to the Baháʼí teachings the human purpose is to learn to know and love God through such methods as prayer, reflection, and being of service to others.
Baha’i Faith: Social principles
The following principles are frequently listed as a quick summary of the Baháʼí teachings. They are derived from transcripts of speeches given by ʻAbdu’l-Bahá during his tour of Europe and North America in 1912. The list is not authoritative and a variety of such lists circulate. First, the Unity of God. Second, Unity of religion. Third, the Unity of humanity. Fourth, Equality between women and men. Also the Elimination of all forms of prejudice. Another important principle is World peace and the new world order; which goes well with the Harmony of religion and science. Another important principle is the Independent investigation of truth. He also mentions in his writings the Universal compulsory education; and the obedience to government and non-involvement in partisan politics. Last, the elimination of extremes of wealth and poverty and the prohibition of slavery.
So what can I tell you after learning all that about this cool religion I can really relate to why it is so successful and widespread. It seems to me that this religion is very peaceful and tries to be as universal as possible. While writing this post I found myself more and more intrigued by this religion. So I am going to dedicate more posts about the founders and main ideas of the region. I am still curious how Mt. Carmel became so holy for them. I promise I’ll write about that in one of my future posts. Now as someone that offers private tours in Israel I need to tell you that I have the greatest spot on top of Mt. Carmel for a photo. But you can read all about that and more on my posts about photography.
Food Recommendations in the Area
Another tip I would like to add is where you can eat around Mt. Carmel. I would recommend going down to the German Colony. There you have lots of options but Fattoush is one of them for sure. Again I am not getting any kickbacks I promise. Truly the food there is just great. Personally, I am a fan of their Hummus. So good and creamy! What can you ask for more?