Facts and Figures

Who is Bahá’u’lláh?

Bahá’u’lláh is recognized by Bahá’ís as the Messenger of God for this age and the Founder of the Bahá’í Faith. Born in 1817 to a prominent family in Iran, He was an unusually knowledgeable child although he did not attend school. He devoted Himself to improving the conditions of the poor and to upholding the cause of justice.

His name was Mírza Husayn ‘Alí, but was given the title of Bahá’u’lláh, which means “Glory of God” in Persian. Because of His revolutionary teachings, He was exiled and imprisoned for 40 years. This banishment took Him to the Holy Land, which was part of the Ottoman Empire at the time. It was there He passed away in 1892.

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What is the Bahá’í Faith?

The Bahá’í Faith is an independent world religion based on the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh. With more than 5 million followers, residing in virtually every nation on earth, it is the second-most widespread faith in its geographic reach. Bahá’ís reside in more than 100,000 localities around the world and come from over 2,100 ethnic, racial, and tribal groups.

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Is the Bahá’í Faith syncretic?
No. The Bahá’í Faith is not syncretic, meaning that it is not composed of elements of other religions. It is an independent religion with its own scriptures, laws, teachings and calendar. It does, however, recognize the divine origin of all major religions.

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What are some basic teachings of the Bahá’í Faith?

While affirming the basic spiritual teachings brought by all Messengers of God, the Bahá’í Faith brings new teachings and principles appropriate to the needs of today’s global society. These teachings include the fundamental oneness of humanity, the equality of men and women, the abolition of all forms of prejudice, the essential harmony of science and religion, universal education, the need for a universal auxiliary language, and the elimination of extremes of poverty and wealth. The Bahá’í Faith has no clergy, and the administration of community affairs is conducted by democratically elected institutions at the local, regional, national and international levels.

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Who is the Báb?

Bahá’ís believe that the Báb (1819–1850) was an independent Messenger of God, Whose mission was to inaugurate a new cycle in the spiritual development of humanity. His writings prepared the way for the mission of Bahá’u’lláh. The Báb was executed in 1850 at the insistence of fanatical Persian clergy who believed that their position was threatened by His teachings.

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Where and when did the Bahá’í Faith originate?

The Bahá’í Faith dates from 1863, when Bahá’u’lláh announced His mission in Baghdad, during the early stage of His exile from Iran.

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I've read in different places that the Bahá’í Faith began in 1844 and in 1863. Which is correct? 
Both years are significant. In 1844, the Báb announced the imminent coming of Bahá’u’lláh. The Báb is considered an independent Messenger of God who played a role similar to John the Baptist in preparing the people for the coming of Jesus Christ. In 1863, Bahá’u’lláh announced that He was the Promised One foretold by the Báb. Most often, Bahá’ís point to 1844 as the inception of the Bahá’í Faith, but it was not until after the declaration of Bahá’u’lláh in 1863 that the followers of the Báb became known as Bahá’ís.

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How many Bahá’ís are there?

There are currently more than 5 million Bahá’ís living in some 100,000 localities in every part of the world. The Faith is recognized as the second-most geographically widespread religion after Christianity.

Does the Bahá’í Faith have an international centre?

The Bahá’í World Centre was established in the Haifa and ’Akká region of Israel, the area of Bahá’u’lláh’s exile in 1868 and His death in 1892. The location is the site of the Faith’s most sacred shrines — the resting places of Bahá’u’lláh and His Forerunner, the Báb — and the seat of the Faith’s international governing body, known as the Universal House of Justice.

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Who is the head of the Bahá’í Faith?

Bahá’u’lláh called for the creation of a system of democratically elected governing bodies at the local, national and international levels. The head of the faith is the Universal House of Justice, a nine-person international council elected by secret ballot by the members of all of the national councils.

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How many Bahá’ís are there in Canada?
There are more than 30,000 registered Bahá’ís.

Where do Canadian Bahá’ís come from?
The community comprises both Francophones and Anglophones, and more than 18% of its members come from First Nations, Inuit, and Métis backgrounds. Another 30% of Bahá’ís were born outside of the country.

Why are there Bahá’ís from Iran in Canada?
The Iranian Revolution of 1979 set off a resurgence of persecution against the Bahá’ís in Iran, the land of the religion’s birth.

The Canadian government made it possible for a few thousand Bahá’í refugees to settle in Canada. The government has subsequently been outspoken in defence of the persecuted Bahá’í community in Iran, tabling and cosponsoring resolutions condemning those persecutions over the past three decades, first at the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (prior to it becoming the Human Rights Council), and then in the General Assembly of the United Nations.

How long has the Bahá’í Faith been in Canada?
The Bahá’í Faith arrived in Canada in the late 19th century.

In 1898, Edith Magee, a youth from London, Ontario, was the first person to become a member of the Bahá’í Faith.

The first Bahá’í group was established by May Bolles Maxwell and William Sutherland Maxwell in Montréal in the early 20th century.

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Are there indigenous Bahá’ís in Canada?
Yes. Indigenous Canadians have been part of the Bahá’í community since the 1960s. They have participated in its development, serving on local and national administrative bodies.

Who is the head of the Bahá’í Faith in Canada?
The head is the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Canada, a nine-member body that is elected annually. The international head is the Universal House of Justice, which is based at the Bahá’í World Centre in Haifa, Israel.

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Does the Bahá’í Faith have a national centre?
Yes. The national administrative centre is located in Markham, Ontario, at 7200 Leslie Street, Thornhill, L3T 6L8.

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