Central Figures

The three figures most closely associated with the birth and establishment of the Bahá’í Faith are the Báb, Bahá’u’lláh, and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. The Báb and Bahá’u’lláh are believed by Bahá’ís to be Prophets, Messengers, or Manifestations of God. These twin Manifestations of God were born in the early years of the nineteenth century in Iran, the Báb in 1819 and Bahá’u’lláh in 1817.

The Báb, the Herald of the Bahá’í Faith and the Founder of His own independent religion, announced in 1844 the inauguration of a new era in human history. As a result of his message, which urged religious and social reform and aroused enormous interest throughout Persia, the Báb was imprisoned and, in 1850, executed.

Bahá’u’lláh’s ministry was announced publicly in 1863 in Baghdad, where He had been exiled by the Persian authorities in 1853. After further exile in Constantinople, Adrianople, and finally the prison fortress of ‘Akká near what is now Haifa, Israel, Bahá’u’lláh passed away in 1892. During the more than 40 years of His imprisonment, exile, and persecution, Bahá’u’lláh’s Message of peace, unity of humankind, justice, and the personal and social requirements of global society in the future, written and transcribed in more than 100 volumes of books and tablets, had attracted a rapidly expanding community of followers.

Upon Bahá’u’lláh’s death, the leadership of the Bahá’í community passed to Bahá’u’lláh’s eldest son, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Though not a Prophet or Messenger of God, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá is revered by Bahá’ís for his exemplary life and is regarded as the authoritative interpreter of his father’s teachings. He passed away in 1921.

A fourth historical figure of enormous significance to Bahá’ís is Shoghi Effendi, the eldest grandson of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and the leader of the Bahá’í community from 1921 until his passing in 1957. Today, the Bahá’í community is led by the democratically elected Universal House of Justice.