‘Abdu’l-Bahá toured Europe for three months in 1911 and visited a second time in 1913. He is shown here at Clifton Guest House, Bristol, United Kingdom, in September 1911.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá toured Europe for three months in 1911 and visited a second time in 1913. He is shown here at Clifton Guest House, Bristol, United Kingdom, in September 1911.

Central Figures of the Baha'i Faith

The Bab (1819-1850)

Founder of the Babi religion and Herald of Baha'u'llah

On May 23, 1844, in Shiraz, Persia, a young man known as the Báb announced the imminent appearance of the Messenger of God awaited by all the peoples of the world. The title Báb means "the Gate." Although Himself the bearer of an independent revelation from God, the Báb declared that His purpose was to prepare mankind for this advent.

Swift and savage persecution at the hands of the dominant Muslim clergy followed this announcement. The Báb was arrested, beaten, imprisoned, and finally on July 9, 1850 was executed in the public square of the city of Tabriz. Some 20,000 of His followers perished in a series of massacres throughout Persia. Today, the majestic building with the golden dome, overlooking the Bay of Haifa, Israel, and set amidst beautiful gardens, is the Shrine where the Báb's earthly remains are entombed.

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Baha'u'llah (1817-1892)

Founder of the Baha'i Faith. Read more about Baha'u'llah >>

'Abdu'l-Baha (1844-1921)

Appointed by His father, Baha'u'llah, to lead the Baha'i Faith after His death

From earliest childhood, `Abbas Effendi, the eldest son of Bahá'u'lláh , shared His father's sufferings and banishments. He took as His title `Abdu'l-Bahá, the "servant of Baha." Bahá'u'lláh appointed Him the one authorized interpreter of the Bahá'í teachings and as Head of the Faith after His own passing. In `Abdu'l-Bahá was seen a perfect example of the Bahá'í way of life.

While `Abdu'l-Bahá was still a prisoner of the Ottomans the first Bahá'í pilgrims from the western world arrived in Acre in 1898. After His release in 1908, `Abdu'l-Bahá set out on a series of journeys which, in 1911-1913, took Him to Europe and America. There He proclaimed Bahá'u'lláh's message of unity and social justice to church congregations, peace societies, the members of trade unions, university faculties, journalists, government officials, and many public audiences.

'Abdu'l-Bahá passed away in 1921, having consolidated the foundations of the Bahá'í Faith and greatly expanded its reach. The northern rooms of the Shrine of the Báb, where He is interred, are a place of pilgrimage for Bahá'ís visiting the World Centre of their Faith.

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The Guardianship

Shoghi Effendi (1896-1957)
Appointed by his grandfather, 'Abdu'l-Baha, to lead the Baha'i Faith after His death

'Abdu'l-Bahá in His Will and Testament appointed His grandson, Shoghi Effendi Rabbani, Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith and interpreter of its teachings. Shoghi Effendi served until his death in 1957. During these thirty-six years the Guardian translated many of the writings of Bahá'u'lláh and `Abdu'l-Bahá into English, expounded their meanings, encouraged the establishment of local and national Bahá'í institutions, and guided a series of plans aimed at diffusing Bahá'í ideals throughout the world.

In the Holy Land, the Guardian's enduring memorial is the magnificent setting he created for the World Centre of the Bahá'í Faith. The completion of the Shrine of the Báb was his work as was the construction of the International Bahá'í Archives building. It was also Shoghi Effendi who designed and laid out the beautiful gardens at Bahji and on the slopes of Mount Carmel.

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Read more:

The Báb
Forerunner of Bahá'u'lláh

Writings of the Bab
Selections from the Writings of the Báb

'Abdu'l-Bahá: the Center of the Covenant
Life story of 'Abdu'l-Baha

'Abdu'l-Baha's Writings
Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá

The Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith
Shoghi Effendi, as Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith

Declaration of the Báb, which took place in this room (pictured) in the Persian city of Shiraz in 1844.

Bahá’u’lláh’s room in His house in Takur, Mázindarán, Iran kept in its original condition. The house was destroyed by the government in 1981.

'Abdu’l-Bahá, the eldest son of Bahá’u’lláh, was appointed by his Father to lead the Bahá’í Faith after His passing.

Shoghi Effendi, known as the Guardian, led the Bahá’í Faith from 1921 until his death in 1957.