The central idea of the Bahá’í Faith is that of the unity of mankind.Bahá’ís believe that people should work together for the common benefit of humanity. Bahá’ís seek to remove barriers of race, gender, and belief. The Bahá’í Faith is the youngest of the world’s major religions. It was founded by Bahá’u’lláh (an Arabic title meaning ‘The Glory of God’) in Iran in the 19th century. Bahá’ís believe in one God. The Bahá’í Faith accepts all religions as having true and valid origins. The Bahá’í Faith teaches that humanity is a single people with a common destiny.
The Bahá’í Faith began in 1844 in Persia (Iran) when a young man, who called himself ‘The Báb’ (which means ‘The Gate’) announced that He was a Messenger of God. He said that he was the Herald for another Prophet, the Promised One of all religions. In 1852, imprisoned in a dungeon for his faith in the Báb, a Persian nobleman, now known as Bahá’u’lláh, was summoned by God to bring to humanity the new religious revelation of which the Báb had spoken.
Bahá’ís are the followers of Bahá’u’lláh. In just over 100 years, the Bahá’í Faith has grown from an obscure movement in the Middle East to become the second most widespread of the independent world religions. Embracing people from more than 2,100 ethnic, racial and tribal groups, it is probably the most diverse organised body of people on the planet.
“The well-being of mankind, its peace and security, are unattainable unless and until its unity is firmly established”. – Bahá’u’lláh
Bahá’ís believe that there is only one religion, ‘the changeless Faith of God’. Bahá’ís accept all religions and believe that all religions come from a single source. They see Bahá’u’lláh as God’s Messenger for today, the latest in a line of Prophets including Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad. They see this as an ongoing process of revelation and understanding.
Bahá’ís believe that all human beings have a soul that lives for ever, that all human beings are members of a single race, which will one day be united in a single global community, that all human beings are different but equal; and that there should be no inequality between races or sexes.
Bahá’ís believe Religion and Science are complementary – that they are different perspectives on reality. To Bahá’ís , religion without reason can become superstition.
Their faith believes equality between people, between the sexes and between people of all ethnic origins, is essential for the progress of humanity. They believe that world peace can only be built upon justice, including the economic justice needed for a sustainable world order.
Justice is one of the central principles of the Bahá’í faith, along with unity. The two are inextricably intertwined. Justice starts with the individual’s obligation to search out the reality of things for him or herself without prejudice and permeates every aspect of life.
“To be a Bahá’í simply means to love all the world; to love humanity and try to serve it; to work for universal peace and universal brotherhood.” – from the Bahá’í Scriptures
The authentic writings of the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh are regarded as Divine Revelation.
The Scriptures of other faiths, which include the teachings of earlier Manifestations of God – such as Buddha, Moses, Jesus, Muhammad – are also regarded as Divine Revelations.
Bahá’ís recognise the world’s great holy books – books from the Torah to the Qur’án and which include Hindu, Buddhist, Christian and Zoroastrian scriptures – as representing humanity’s record of God’s revealed Word. Bahá’ís believe that each new Revelation has two parts – it restates and extends our understanding of spiritual truths, and also brings laws and teachings appropriate for that stage of humanity’s development. The spiritual message has been universally the same – the love of God and obedience to His will, and love for humanity. The social teachings have evolved in line with the capacity of mankind.
For Bahá’ís, the Word of God is special – it can unlock the spiritual potential latent within every individual. “The Word of God is the master key for the whole world, inasmuch as through its potency the doors of the hearts of men, which in reality are the doors of heaven, are unlocked.” – Bahá’u’lláh
The first Bahá’í in Maidenhead was Mrs Helena Eliza Kempton. Then in her 99th year, Helena Kempton became a Bahá’í on July 9, 1962. Her enrolment marked the foundation of the Maidenhead Bahá’í community. She had come to know of the Faith through her daughter, Honor Kempton, another Maidonian, who had become a Bahá’í in San Francisco in 1939. Honor went on to help found the first Bahá’í communities in Alaska and Luxembourg, where she passed away in February 1981.
The first Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Maidenhead – the governing council comprising nine members elected in each locality each year – was elected in April 1978. The first Bahá’í marriage in Maidenhead took place a few months later. There have been Bahá’ís living in Maidenhead and the surrounding areas ever since.