One of our visiting students noticed that some of the Baha’is she met wore jewelry with a nine-pointed star or a Baha’i ring-stone symbol.

Question: Is there some sort of meaning behind these symbols, similar to how the cross reminds Christians that Jesus died for our sake; or the Star of David represents the teachings of Judaism?

Nine Pointed StarBaha’is have informally adopted the nine-pointed star as a symbol for a number of reasons. The word “Baha” (Arabic for “Glory”) corresponds to the number nine in the Arabic system that assigns numerical values to letters, called the Abjad system. Also, it was nine years after the announcement of Baha’u’llah’s Forerunner, the Bab, that Baha’u’llah received His own revelation in a dungeon in Tehran (the Black Pit or Siyah-chal). Nine also symbolizes comprehensiveness and culmination, simply because it is the highest single digit number. Baha’i temples have nine sides, as well, which symbolizes the fact that everyone is welcome to come in and pray, regardless of what religious direction they come from.

Baha’is often use a nine-pointed star on tombstones where Baha’is are buried, but you’ll also see the symbol used in many different contexts in the Baha’i community. It symbolizes the essential purpose of the Baha’i teachings – to create one world, united under God.

Greatest Name Emblem

The Baha’i ring-stone symbol

The Baha’i ring-stone symbol, a calligraphic rendering of the phrase “Allah’u’abha”, means “God is most glorious” — but it also does something I think is truly lovely. It graphically depicts the relationship between God, His Manifestations, and Man. The top bar represents the world of God (the spiritual realm); the bottom bar that mirrors it signifies our world; and the line between them symbolizes the Manifestation of God (Christ, Buddha, Baha’u’llah, etc). The vertical line that connects all three planes of existence exemplifies the Holy Spirit. The two stars in the ring-stone symbol stand for The Bab (who prepared the way for Baha’u’llah) and Baha’u’llah. This beautiful symbol reminds Baha’is that we are connected to God through the Holy Spirit and the Manifestation of God.

Greatest Name

Greatest Name – “Ya Baha’ul Abha”

The last of these, which Baha’is call “the Greatest Name”, is an artistically-drawn calligraphy of the Arabic phrase “Ya Baha’ul Abha” meaning “O glory of the All-Glorious”. You may see this version, first drawn by a renowned 19th Century Baha’i calligrapher named Mishkin-Qalam (who was one of the earliest Baha’is), hanging on the wall in Baha’i homes. Rendered in the shape of an ark or boat, it can serve as a metaphor for how the Faith of God through the ages has preserved believers from the spiritual storm of this earthly life.

These symbols all represent ideas and concepts Baha’is revere: That God continually educates humanity through progressive revelation; that all religions come from one Creator; that the unity of humanity represents the highest and most spiritual goal of our age.

The opinions and views expressed in this article are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of BahaiTeachings.org or any institution of the Baha’i Faith.

20 Comments

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  • Stacyann Robinson
    Oct 19, 2017
    Thank you so much for such a simple explanations on the baha'i symbols
  • reza asl
    Jun 17, 2017
    Thank you, Maya for this great article. All the explanations on the significance of the number 9 are correct. May I also add that number 9, which as you mentioned, is the highest single digit number, includes in it, all the other single digit numbers.
    0 9 = 9
    1 8 = 9
    2 7 = 9
    3 6 = 9
    4 5 = 9
    Hence, 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 are within that number, uniting them all.
  • Martha Webb
    Dec 01, 2016
    Question on ringstone symbol; what is the reference that validates calling the vertical line ' holy spirit'?
    Thank you.
  • The five-pointed star, or haykal (Arabic: temple) is the symbol of the Bahá'í Faith as mentioned by Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith: "Strictly speaking the 5-pointed star is the symbol of our Faith, as used by the Báb and explained by Him." The five-pointed star has been used as the outline of special letters or tablets by both the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh.
    The number 9 also comes up several times in Bahá'í history and teachings. On the significance of the number 9, Shoghi Effendi wrote:
    "Concerning the number nine: the Bahá'ís reverence this for two reasons, first ...because it is considered by those who are interested in numbers as the sign of perfection. The second consideration, which is the more important one, is that it is the numerical value of the word "Bahá’"…
    "Besides these two significances the number nine has no other meaning. It is, however, enough to make the Bahá'ís use it when an arbitrary number is to be chosen."
    Please correct.
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  • Nov 03, 2014
    Thank dear Maya for this wonderful explanation of the Baha'i symbols. I would add, just for greater clarification, that the vertical line in the ringstone symbol may beautifully represent the Holy Spirit, yes, and it is also identical to the middle line of the Manifestation. It is the Manifestation that connects the world of humanity to the unknowable world of God, so in one sense, it is the Manifestation that perfectly reflects the Holy Spirit to us here in the world of creation...The realm of God, the top line will forever be unreachable and unattainable ...to the realm of creation, (us), so it is to the Manifestation that we focus our spiritual reality towards, they are the Sadrat'ul-Muntaha, the "tree beyond which there is no passing"...hugs
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  • John LeBonte
    Apr 10, 2014
    First of all, thank you for this page. I appreciate it. Also, I just want to correct your explanation of "Allah'u'Abha". it means God, the ALL-Glorious, not God, the MOST Glorious. There is a definite difference. *Hugs to you! :-)
    • Ŝarjíl Niŝáṭ
      Apr 11, 2014
      The word 'Abha' in Arabic means both 'All-Glorious' and 'Most Glorious'. When you read the Writings and compare with the original Arabic, you do see both. And "Allahu Abha" means both "God is the All-Glorious" and "God is the Most Glorious".
      • John LeBonte
        Apr 11, 2014
        I beg to differ {RESPECTFULLY}. I find it difficult to see how Allah'u'Abha means both, considering that Muslims
        say "Allah'u'Abka" which means God the MOST Glorious. And Baha'u'llah
        made it quite clear that the Baha'is are to say ALL-Glorious as opposed
        to those of the Muhammadan Faith who say MOST Glorious.
        • Ŝarjíl Niŝáṭ
          Apr 12, 2014
          My friend, I'm a first generation Baha'i of Muslim background. As a Muslim, I was taught to read and recite the Qur'an in Arabic. Muslims say "Allahu Akbar", which means "God is the Greatest" or "God is the Most Great". Also, they don't say "Allahu Akbar" as a greeting, but as an expression to describe God's greatness. Muslims greet each other by saying 'Salamu-`Alaykum', which means 'Peace be upon you'. They don't say "Allahu Abka", and I don't know where you got that misinformation. Also, the Arabic word 'Abka' is associated with weeping, crying, ...fretting, whining, etc. Shoghi Effendi translated the word 'Abha' as 'All-Glorious', 'Most Glorious', 'Most Luminous', etc., in various passages. Looks like you have little to no knowledge in the Arabic language, dear friend.
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          • John LeBonte
            Apr 12, 2014
            First of all, I mispelled it. I meant it as you said: Allah'u'Akbar. I spelled it as I pronounced it in my mind. Secondly, Abha should only be translated as meaning God the ALL-Glorious! He is too Powerful and Glorious to share It with anyone, ever! Are you implying that someone or something else is awesome enough to be glorious BESIDES Almighty Allah?? No way. God is not the MOST Glorious, Sarjil. He is the ONLY Glorious One. Forever and for Always, Eternally! Amen. :-)
            • Maya Bohnhoff
              Apr 23, 2014
              I have heard it said that when two people are arguing about religion, they are both wrong. I believe it was Abdu'l-Bahá who said it, with the intent that the wrong of arguing was greater than the wrong of being incorrect in an assumption.
              Where it pertains to the phrase Allah'u'abha, I think you are both correct, for the phrase "all-glorious" (which means God is glorious in ever aspect, not that He is the only glorious Being in the universe) certainly pertains to God. And "most" connotes that there is none more glorious than God. Also, Arabic possesses a ...number of words for which there are multiple English (and other) equivalents.
              In any event, we, as Bahá'ís cannot impose our understanding of scripture upon each other, nor should we let such things as names divide us. Still, Sarjil is a native speaker of Arabic. Perhaps it is wisest and most courteous to defer to his understanding that both "All-Glorious" and "Most Glorious" are appropriate renderings of the Arabic phrase.
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            • Ŝarjíl Niŝáṭ
              Apr 12, 2014
              John, I never said or implied that there's someone or something more glorious than God. I don't know what made you think and say that. Anyway, if you have issues with the way the words in the Writings are translated, you should take that up with the Research Department of the Baha'i World Center. Take care :).
  • Ŝarjíl Niŝáṭ
    Apr 09, 2014
    In the Súratu’l-Haykal, Bahá’u’lláh says that the Haykal/pentagram symbolizes the human temple, and the Manifestation of God (paragraphs 73-74; see also Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 214). It is ordained as “the source of all existence in the new creation” (13). It is the gatherer of all created things in heaven and on earth (18). It is a sign of God’s majesty, and an emblem of His Cause (36). It is a representative of God’s most excellent titles, august attributes, manifold virtues, grace and bounty (72).
    The Haykal is represented by members and limbs of ...the human body, and each symbolizing some attribute, feature or characteristic of God. Bahá’u’lláh mentions namely 7:
    • Eyes as God’s Beauty (19)
    • Ears as God’s Voice (20)
    • Tongue as God’s Name (21)
    • Hands as God’s Will and Command (31)
    • Feet as God’s Path and Cause (61)
    • Breast as God’s Mirror and Reflection (64)
    • Heart as God’s Knowledge (67).
    The word Haykal is composed of 4 Arabic letters: Há’ (37), Yá’ (38), Káf (39), and Lám (46). Their numerical values are 5, 10, 20, and 30 respectively. Há’ symbolizes the Arabic word Huwiyyah (Quintessence). Yá’ symbolizes Qadír (Almighty), of which Yá’ is the 3rd letter. Káf symbolizes Karím (All-Bountiful). Lám symbolizes Faḍl (Grace), of which Lám is the 3rd letter.
    "...He spoke of the Temple of His body." (John 2:21)
    "...your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God..." (1 Corinthians 6:19)
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