Bahá'í Faith’s founder was Bahá’u’lláh, a Persian nobleman from Tehran who, in the mid-nineteenth century, left a life of princely comfort and security and, in the face of intense persecution and deprivation, brought to humanity a new message of peace and unity.
Bahá’u’lláh claimed to be nothing less than a new prophet of God. Followers of Bahá’í Faith believe that his life, work, and influence parallel that of Abraham, Krishna, Moses, Zoroaster, the Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad. They also view Bahá’u’lláh as the most recent in this succession of divine Messengers.
The essential message of Bahá’u’lláh is that of unity. He taught that there is only one God, that there is only one human race, and that all the world’s religions represent stages in the revelation of God’s will and purpose for humanity. In this day, Bahá’u’lláh said, humanity has collectively come of age. Bahá'í Faith teaches the time has come for the unification of all people into a peaceful and integrated global society.
In the years since Bahá’u’lláh lived, the unification that he preached has not come, but the Bahá'í Faith sees strong steps in that direction. According to the Bahá'í Faith view, the traditional barriers of race, class, creed, and nation have steadily broken down. The forces at work, Bahá’u’lláh predicted, will eventually give birth to a universal civilization. The principal challenge facing the peoples of the earth is to accept the fact of their oneness and assist in the creation of this new world.
For a global society to flourish, Bahá’u’lláh said, it must be based on certain fundamental principles. They include the elimination of all forms of prejudice; full equality between the sexes; unity of the world’s major religions; the elimination of extremes of poverty and wealth; education for all; the harmonization of science and religion; a sustainable balance between nature and technology; and the establishment of a worldwide government, based on collective security and the unity of humanity.
As of 2007, The Bahá'í Faith claimed 7.7 million adherents and was the second fastest growing religion on Earth, only behind Islam. The Bahai World Center, the spiritual and administrative center of the Bahai faith, is located in the Israeli cities of Haifa and Acre.
This article was originally copied from http://www.bahai.org/faq/facts/bahai_faith, run by the Baha'i International Community.