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Baha’u’llah (1817 – 1892), meaning the Glory of God, is the Prophet-Founder of the Baha’i Faith. Baha’u’llah claimed to be the latest, not the last of the Messengers of God. He taught the principles of the oneness of God, oneness of the major religions (Hinduism, Buddhism, Zoroastriansm, Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Baha’i) as a system of progressive revelation unfolding to humanity as it evolves and the oneness of humanity. For these claims and teachings, He suffered 40 years of imprisonment and was exiled from Iran to ‘Akká, in the Holy Land, where He passed away.
The Báb (1819 – 1850), meaning the Gate, was the Forerunner of Baha’u’llah (Prophet-founder of the Baha’i Faith) much like John the Baptist was to Christ. He prepared the people for the coming of Baha’u’llah. The Bab declared His Mission in 1844 in Iran. After six years of suffering and imprisonment, He was put to death for His claim. Over 20,000 of His followers were also killed for their beliefs.
Abdu’l-Baha (1844 – 1921), meaning servant of Baha, the eldest son of Baha’u’llah, was appointed successor to the Baha’i Faith. Abdu’l-Baha travelled to Europe, the United States, and Canada (Montreal) in 1911-1912 to promote the message of the Baha’i Faith.
Shoghi Effendi (1897 – 1957), Guardian of the Baha’i Faith. After the passing of Abdu’l-Bahá, the leadership of the Baha’i community entered a new phase, evolving from that of a single individual to an administrative order founded on the “twin pillars” of the Guardianship and the Universal House of Justice.
The Universal House of Justice (1963 – present), directs the spiritual and administrative affairs of the Baha’i International Community. It protects the spiritual inheritance bequeathed to it by promoting “the attainment of those spiritual qualities which should characterize Baha’i life individually and collectively”; preserving the Baha’i Sacred Texts and safeguarding their “inviolability”; defending and protecting the Baha’i community and emancipating it from the “fetters of repression and persecution”; preserving and developing the world spiritual and administrative center of the Baha’i Faith; and safeguarding “the personal rights, freedom and initiative of individuals.”