Religion 101

Today (Wednesday, May 29), adherents of the Baha’i Faith will celebrate an important holy day. “The Ascension of Baha’u’llah” annually commemorates the anniversary of the death of Baha’u’llah, the founder of the Baha’i Faith.

The Ascension of Baha’u’llah is one of eleven holy days on the Baha’i religious calendar. Of those, work is suspended on nine of them; today’s holiday is one of those nine.

Baha’is, like Jews and Muslims, reckon “days” as beginning and ending not at midnight or at dawn, but at sunset. Accordingly, this year’s Ascension of Baha’u’llah holiday technically began at sunset last night (May 28), and will run through sunset today (May 29).

The Baha’i Faith is one of the youngest and smallest of the world’s religions. Founded in Persia (now Iran) in the 19th century, Baha’i has grown into a still relatively small but rapidly growing and already widespread global faith, with a worldwide population currently estimated at somewhere between five and seven million members.

Baha’i was founded by a Tehran-born monotheistic prophet known as Baha’u’llah (1817-1892), whose adoptive title is Persian for “Glory of God.” Claiming to be the latest in a long series of messengers from the Divine (a line which Baha’i regards as including not only Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad, but also Krishna, Buddha, and others), Baha’u’llah preached both the unity of all religions as well as the unity of all humanity, and in the name of such unity called for the establishment of global peace and universal justice.