The Bahá’í World Community

The worldwide Bahá’í community may well be the most diverse and widespread of any organized body of people on earth. It is also among the most unified, a feature that is perhaps its most distinguishing characteristic. The Bahá’í community, comprising members of the Bahá’í Faith from around the world, now numbers some five million souls. They represent 2112 ethnic and tribal groups and live in over 116,000 localities in 188 independent countries and 45 dependent territories or overseas departments. Its membership cuts across all boundaries of class and race, governing itself through the establishment of local and national elected bodies known as Spiritual Assemblies. Haifa, Israel, is the site of its international centre and the seat of its world-governing council, known as the Universal House of Justice.

The Bahá’í International Community is a term often used to describe the Bahá’í community in its international work and its collaboration with other international organizations, including the United Nations. It is also a term that is sometimes used by the press and media to describe the worldwide Bahá’í community. The Bahá’í International Community has a number of agencies, including an Office of Public Information, located at the Bahá’í World Centre in Haifa, and the United Nations Office of the Bahá’í International Community, with its principal office in New York, where the Bahá’í International Community enjoys consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the U.N. These agencies represent the Bahá’í community in their various capacities under the direction of the Universal House of Justice, the head of the Bahá’í community.

Bahá’ís the world over come from all religious backgrounds: Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jain, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, Zoroastrian, animist, and non-religious. Yet they study a common set of sacred writings, observe a unifying code of religious laws, and look to a single international administrative system for continuing guidance.

Their sense of unity goes beyond a shared theology. It is expressed in an abiding commitment to a global programme for moral, spiritual, and social progress that represents many of the finest ideals of civilization.

The community’s primary goals include promoting equality of women and men, ending racial and ethnic strife, promoting economic justice for all peoples, and ensuring access to good education for all. It eschews all forms of superstition, emphasizes the importance of an unfettered search for scientific and religious truth, and sets for its followers the goal of meeting the highest moral standards. World peace and the establishment of a united global commonwealth have been and remain distinguishing concerns.
* Adapted from Bahá’í Topics, an information resource produced by the Bahá’í International Community.