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Have you ever wondered why different numbers can have different levels of significance to you? You may notice how some numbers seem to appear more in your life than others and consequently feel more attached to them. Or you might feel more connected to a certain number because of the symbolism it has in your family, culture, or religion.
People interested in numerology believe the number 9 symbolizes completion — the finality of one cycle and another’s possible beginning. It’s also a number that many Baha’is feel especially connected to because of its spiritual significance.
The Spiritual Meaning of the Number 9 in the Baha’i Faith
The Baha’i writings say that the number nine is “the number of perfection” and “the highest digit, hence symbolizes comprehensiveness, culminations.”
Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Baha’i Faith, wrote that nine “is considered by the Bahá’ís as sacred, because it is symbolic of the perfection of the Bahá’í Revelation which constitutes the ninth in the line of existing religions, the latest and fullest Revelation which mankind has ever known.”
That’s why one of our symbols for the Baha’i Faith is the nine-pointed star because it represents the unity, truth, and oneness of all religions. In fact, every Baha’i temple in the world has nine sides to it. For example, the Baha’i House of Worship in Wilmette, Illinois, one of only nine continental Baha’i Houses of Worship in the world, has nine entrances, nine surrounding gardens, and nine verses above the doors and alcoves.
Shoghi Effendi added that, “the reason it is used in the Temple’s form is because 9 has exact numerical value of ‘Bahá’ (in the numerology connected with the Arabic alphabet) and ‘Bahá’ is the name of the Revealer of our Faith, Bahá’u’lláh.”
A letter written in 1932 on Shoghi Effendi’s behalf explains, “In the Semitic languages — both Arabic and Hebrew — every letter of the alphabet had a numerical value, so instead of using figures to denote numbers they used letters and compounds of letters. Thus every word had both a literal meaning and also a numerical value. …As the word Baha also stood for the number nine it could be used interchangeably with it.”
In addition to showing up in our symbols and temples, the number nine is also reflected by the number of people who are elected to serve on Baha’i spiritual assemblies. The local spiritual assemblies in each community, the national spiritual assemblies in each country, and the Universal House of Justice — the global governing body of the Baha’i Faith — each consist of nine Baha’is who aim to be a source of love, encouragement, and support to the Baha’i community.
The Significance of Number 9 in Other Religions
The number nine also has spiritual meaning and significance in many other faith traditions. In Buddhism, the Buddha was believed to have nine virtues.
According to the Bible, there are nine “fruits of the spirit,” which are specific attributes — love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control — that are said to be the result of the influence of the Holy Spirit in a Christian’s life. In addition, Jesus died at the ninth hour. Matthew 27:46 recounts: “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”
In Hinduism, nine is the number of Brahma, the creator. And Ramadan, a time of fasting and spiritual reflection for Muslims, is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar.
Of course, the number nine shows up in our lives in a variety of ways. We watch a woman go through pregnancy for nine months or watch nine innings in a baseball game. It’s beautiful how the number nine can mean so much to so many different people, which really speaks to how unifying this number can be.