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A Journalist’s Guide to the Baha’i Faith
Official Baha'i Websites

‘Abdu’l-Baha: (“Servant of Baha”) (1844-1921):
Eldest son of Baha’u’llah. Designated by Baha’u’llah as the authorized interpreter of his father’s writings. Born Abbas Effendi; also known as “Centre of the Covenant,” “Most Mighty Branch,” and the “Master.”

Ablutions: A ritual washing of hands and face Baha’u’llah required as part of the daily obligatory prayer.

Administrative Order: all the institutions that administer the affairs of the Baha’i Faith. Created by Baha’u’llah and developed by ‘Abdu’l-Baha, Shoghi Effendi and the Universal House of Justice.

Akka: The one-time prison city in present day Israel where Baha’u’llah was kept for the last 20 years of His life. He died while still a prisoner, and is buried on the outskirts of Bahji.

Ascension of ‘Abdu’l-Baha: November 28, a Holy Day when work is not suspended.

Ascension of Baha’u’llah: May 29th a Holy Day when work should be suspended.

Auxiliary Board: an appointed administrative body created by the Universal House of Justice. Members are appointed on the basis of their wisdom, maturity, and experience and act as advisors to Local Spiritual Assemblies and individuals in their areas. Assists the work of the Continental Board of Counsellors.

Ayyam-i-Ha (The Days of Ha): A four day period (five in leap year) of gift exchange. Also known and Intercalary Days (February 25-March 1) immediately before the period of fasting.

Bab, the (the Gate): (1819-1850) Siyyid ‘Ali-Muhammad, the Prophet-Founder of the Babi Faith and “Herald” of the Baha’i Faith. His ministry ended with his public execution on July 9, 1850 in Tabriz, Persia.

Baha’i Calendar: A solar calendar consisting of 19 months of 19 days, with four intercalary days.

Baha’i Era: The period since the declaration of the Bab until the next manifestation of God.

Baha’i World Center: At Mount Carmel in Haifa (Acre) Israel. Home to the seat of the Universal House of Justice, the Shrine of the Bab and other buildings. Also close to the Shrine of Baha’u’llah.

Baha’u’llah (Glory of God): (1817-1892) Mirza Husayn-‘Ali, the Manifestation of God for this day. He spread the message of unity and peace, and authored over 100 volumes to form the core of the Baha’i holy writings. He spent his 40-year ministry in prison and exile.

Bahji: The area where Baha’u’llah spent his final years (1879-1892). Baha’u’llah is buried in a shrine at Bahji, the holiest spot on Earth for Baha'is.

Bayan (Book of Laws): The major work of the Bab.

Birth of the Bab: October 20th, a holy day when work should be suspended.

Birth of Baha’u’llah: November 12th, a holy day when work should be suspended.

Center of the Covenant: A name given to ‘Abdu’l-Baha.

Continental Board of Counsellors: An appointed administrative body created by the Universal House of Justice. Members are appointed on the basis of wisdom, maturity, and experience and primarily act as advisors to National Spiritual Assemblies in their areas.

Covenant: An agreement between God and humanity. Baha’is believe in two covenants: The “Greater Covenant” is the belief that God will continue to send manifestations of the divine to Earth. The “Lesser Covenant” is specific to the Baha’i Faith and involves Baha’u’llah’s assurance that the unity of his followers will be maintained.

Dawn-Breakers: The account by Nabil-i-Zarandi of the life of the Bab and the development of the Babi religion. It was edited and translated into English by Shoghi Effendi in 1932.

Day of the Covenant: November 26, a holy day when work is not suspended; a celebration of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s unique position in the Baha’i Faith.

Declaration Card: A card that is filled out by someone wanting to become a Baha’i. Though the true definition of a Baha’i is anyone who believes in Baha’u’llah, signing a declaration card is the formalization of that belief. The declaration then registers the new Baha’i as a voting member of his or her community.

Declaration of the Bab: May 23, a holy day when work should be suspended.

Deepening: Studying the holy writings and sometimes other religions as well.

Fast: Baha’is fast for a period of 19 days starting March 2nd in the last month of the Baha’i calendar. During the fast, adult Baha’is refrain from eating and drinking between sunrise and sunset. Children, the elderly, pregnant and nursing mothers and the ill are exempt.

Feast: The Baha’i Feast is held every 19 days. The Feast consists of three portions: devotional, administrative, and social.

Fireside: A small meeting held in someone’s home for the purpose of educating people about various aspects of the Baha’i faith. Non-Baha’is are welcome.

The Guardian: Official title of Shoghi Effendi, the great-grandson of ‘Abdu’l-Baha.

Haifa: The administrative centre of the Baha’i Faith, located in Israel. This is also the location of the resting place of the Bab.

Hands of the Cause of God: A designation given by Baha’u’llah, ‘Abdu’l-Baha, and Shoghi Effendi to some 43 individuals in the history of the Baha’i Faith whose role has been to inspire and enlighten Baha’is in the application of the Faith’s teachings in their daily lives.

Hidden Words: A work composed by Baha’u’llah in 1858. It consists of 71 Arabic and 82 Persian sections. Each section consists of an aphorism on an ethical or spiritual topic.

Holy Days: See individual entries.

Holy Land: Refers to Israel, specifically the Haifa, Akka, Bahji area. It is considered holy because it is home to the resting places of the Bab, Baha’u’llah, and ‘Abdu’l-Baha.

Pioneer: A Baha’i who leaves his or her home and takes up residence in another area to spread Baha’u’llah’s teaching.

Kitab-i-Aqdas: The “Most Holy Book” of Baha’u’llah. Composed around 1873 and contains the main laws and ordinances of the Baha’i faith.”

Kitab-i-Iqan: (Book of Certitude): Composed around 1873 and contains the main laws and ordinances of the Baha’i faith. It consists of interpretation of biblical and Quranic terms, images, and prophecies, and contains many ethical and spiritual exhortations.

Knight of Baha’u’llah: The first Baha’i to travel to a country or territory.

Lesser Covenant: Baha’u’llah’s agreement with his followers that in exchange for their obedience to his laws and institutions, he will protect the unity of the religion.

Local Spiritual Assembly: Elected body that administers the local affairs of a Baha’i community.

Lote Tree: In the Writings of Baha’u’llah, the Lote Tree generally means the Manifestation of God, which ordinary humans can never be.

Martyrdom of the Bab: July 9th, a Holy day when work should be suspended.

The Master: A title for ‘Abdu’l-Baha, given to him by Baha’u’llah.

Manifestation of God: A term for the founders of the major world religions, who are seen as messengers of divine revelation and examples of a divine life.

Mirza Husayn-‘Ali: The given name of Baha’u’llah.

Mona Mahmudnizhad: One of 10 young Baha’i female martyrs who refused to recant their faith in Shiraz, Iran on June 18, 1983.

Most Mighty Branch: One of the names given to ‘Abdu’l-Baha.

National Spiritual Assembly: The elected body that deals with the affairs of the Baha’i Faith at a national level.

Naw Ruz (New Year): First day of the Baha’i New Year, March 21, when work should be suspended.

Obligatory Prayer: A special prayer required by religious law. Baha’u’llah specified three obligatory prayers, one of which Baha’is choose to recite each day.

Progressive Revelation: The Baha’i belief that God has sent successive revelations in order to uplift and educate humanity.

Qiblih: The Shrine of Baha’u’llah at Bahji; the direction in which Baha’is turn when reciting the obligatory prayer.

Regional Council: An elected body of nine Baha’is who assist in the growth of the community at a regional level. It lies between a Local Spiritual Assembly and the National Spiritual Assembly.

Ridvan, Festival of (“Paradise”): Twelve-day festival celebrating Baha’u’llah’s public declaration of his mission. The first, ninth and twelfth days of Ridvan are holy days when work should be suspended.

Secret of Divine Civilization: A work composed by ‘Abdu’l-Baha in 1875 detailing the role of religion in social reforms that Iran should implement in order to become a modern nation. It serves as one of the Baha’i Faith’s major treatises on social reform.

Seven Valleys: A major mystical work composed by Baha’u’llah between 1856 and 1862.

Shoghi Effendi: (1896-1957) Great-grandson of Baha’u’llah, appointed by ‘Abdu’l-Baha as the Guardian of the Baha’i Faith.

Shrine of the Bab: Shrine in which the Bab is buried, located on Mount Carmel in Haifa, Israel.

Siyyid ‘Ali-Muhammad: The given name of The Bab.

Tablet: A letter (epistle) written by the Bab, Baha’u’llah or ‘Abdu’l-Baha.

Universal House of Justice: The supreme administrative institution of the Baha’i Faith.

Writings: The holy works of The Bab, Baha’u’llah, and ‘Abdu’l-Baha.

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