At a time of rapid change in the world today, humanity needs, more than ever, a unified vision of the future and purpose of our lives and of the future of our society. Such a vision unfolds within the writings of Bahá’u’lláh, the Prophet Founder of the Bahá’í Faith.
The Bahá’í community of the Switzerland is exploring Bahá’u’lláh’s spiritual teachings with people of all backgrounds and is learning how this vision of the oneness of mankind, best expressed by the principle of unity in diversity, can be translated into action for the betterment of the world.
What Bahá’ís Believe
Throughout Switzerland, the teachings of the Bahá’í Faith inspire individuals and communities as they work to improve their own lives and contribute to the advancement of civilization. Bahá’í beliefs address such essential themes as the oneness of God and religion, the oneness of humanity and freedom from prejudice, the inherent nobility of the human being, the progressive revelation of religious truth, the development of spiritual qualities, the integration of worship and service, the fundamental equality of the sexes, the harmony between religion and science, the centrality of justice to all human endeavours, the importance of education, and the dynamics of the relationships that are to bind together individuals, communities, and institutions as humanity advances towards its collective maturity.
This area of the website provides a summary of the origins of the Bahá’í Faith, including brief descriptions of the lives of the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh. It gives an overview of the vision of Bahá’u’lláh for the world. It finally introduces the Universal House of Justice and the organisation of the Bahá’ícommunity.
To gain a fuller appreciation of Bahá’í beliefs you may wish to visit the Bahá’í Reference Library where you can read the Writings of the Báb, Bahá’u’lláh, and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá as well as volumes written by Shoghi Effendi and a selection of statements and communications of the Universal House of Justice.
Transforming Individual and Collective Lives
Bahá’u’lláh’s vision of the oneness of humanity can best be achieved through the transformation of both our individual and collective lives.
In Switzerland, and throughout the world, Bahá’ís, together with their friends and neighbours, are engaging in acts of service that seek to contribute to the transformation of society. Together they work to improve their neighborhoods, their cities and their country through programmes aimed at developing the capacities and capabilities of children, young people and adults.
Central figures of the Bahá’í Faith
Bahá’u’lláh, which is a title that means “the Glory of God” in Arabic, was born in November 1817 in Tehran, Iran. As a young child, he displayed signs of grandeur and wisdom.
After the death of His father, a minister in the court of the Sháh, Bahá’u’lláh declined the ministerial career in the government that was available to Him. Instead of pursuing a life of power and leisure, He chose to devote His energies to a range of philanthropic and charitable actions which earned Him, by the early 1840s, renown as “father of the poor.”
Throughout His life, both before He arose to proclaim His Cause, and after, He faced many tribulations: He was first imprisoned in Tehran; following that, He was exiled four times. His last place of exile was in Akká, a prison-city in Palestine, governed by the Ottoman Empire. His life was one of suffering, exile and prosecutions.
All the efforts made by the governments to silence Bahá’u’lláh were in vain. The further He was exiled, the more people were attracted to His teachings, power and majesty. Despite being persecuted, Bahá’u’lláh revealed the Word of God for forty years and brought love and spiritual energy to the world.
Bahá’u’lláh passed away in 1892. For Bahá’ís, His Shrine is the holiest spot on earth. It is located near Akká.
In 1844, a young merchant announced that He was the bearer of a message destined to transform humanity. At a time when His country, Iran, was undergoing widespread moral breakdown, His message aroused excitement and hope among all classes, rapidly attracting thousands of followers. He took the name “The Báb”, meaning “the Gate” in Arabic.
With His call for spiritual and moral reformation, and His attention to improving the position of women and the lot of the poor, the Báb’s prescription for spiritual renewal was revolutionary. At the same time, He founded a distinct, independent religion of His own, inspiring His followers to transform their lives and carry out great acts of heroism. His mission, which was to last only six years, was to prepare the way for the coming of Bahá’u’lláh.
The Báb was born in 1819, and His revolutionary message caused the anger and persecution of civil and religious authorities. He was martyred in 1850 by a regiment of soldiers. His followers retrieved his remains, hid them and kept them safe for several years. He was finally buried on the slopes of Mount Carmel, at the spot designated by Bahá’u’lláh Himself.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the eldest Son of Bahá’u’lláh and born in 1844, became the Bahá’í Faith’s leading exponent at the death of His Father, renowned as a champion of social justice and an ambassador for international peace. Bahá’u’lláh in His Writings ensured that His religion would never suffer the same fate as others that split into sects after the deaths of their Founders and that unity was upheld. He instructed all to turn to His eldest Son, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, not only as the authorized interpreter of the Bahá’í Writings but also as the perfect exemplar of the Faith’s spirit and teachings.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s extraordinary qualities of character, His knowledge and His service to humanity offered a vivid demonstration of Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings in action, and brought great prestige to the rapidly expanding community throughout the world. He devoted His ministry to furthering His Father’s Faith and to promoting the ideals of peace and unity. He encouraged the establishment of local Bahá’í institutions, and guided nascent educational, social and economic initiatives. After His release from a lifetime of imprisonment, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá travelled to Egypt, Europe and North America. Throughout His life, He presented with brilliant simplicity, to high and low alike, Bahá’u’lláh’s prescription for the spiritual and social renewal of society. He passed away in November 1921, a century ago.
Vision of Bahá’u’lláh for the world
Manifestations of God: God’s divine Educators
Throughout history, God has sent divine Educators – known as Manifestations of God – to cultivate humanity’s spiritual, intellectual and moral capacities. Abraham, Krishna, Zoroaster, Moses, Buddha, Jesus Christ, Muhammad, and, in more recent times, the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh are a few of these beings. Bahá’u’lláh, the latest of these Messengers, explained that the religions of the world come from the same Source and are in essence successive chapters of one religion from God.
Vision of Bahá’u’lláh
Bahá’ís believe the crucial need facing humanity is to find a unifying vision of the future of society and of the nature and purpose of life. Such a vision unfolds in the writings of Bahá’u’lláh. Reaching to the roots of human motivation, Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings awaken in whole populations capacities to contribute to the advancement of civilization to an extent never before possible.
Universal peace: one of the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh
The teachings of Bahá’u’lláh are vast in their scope, exploring such themes as the nature and purpose of Revelation, the inherent nobility of the human being, the cultivation of spiritual qualities, and humanity’s interactions with the natural world. The Bahá’í Writings are also replete with references to universal peace—“the supreme goal of all mankind”—as well as explanations of the social principles with which this peace is associated.
Among these principles are the independent search after truth; the oneness of the entire human race, which is the pivotal principle of the Bahá’í Faith; the abolition of all forms of prejudice; the harmony which must exist between religion and science; the equality of men and women, the two wings on which the bird of humankind is able to soar; the introduction of compulsory education; the adoption of a universal auxiliary language; the abolition of the extremes of wealth and poverty; the institution of a world tribunal for the adjudication of disputes between nations; and the confirmation of justice as the ruling principle in human affairs.
Bahá’ís do not view these principles as mere statements of vague aspiration—they are understood as matters of immediate and practical concern for individuals, communities, and institutions alike.
Institutions and organization
The Bahá’í Administrative Order,
established by Bahá’u’lláh
The affairs of the Bahá’í community are administered through a system of institutions, each with its defined sphere of action. The origins of this system—known as the Bahá’í Administrative Order—are found in the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh Himself.
Today the Universal House of Justice is the central governing body of the Administrative Order. Under its guidance, elected bodies, known as Local Spiritual Assemblies and National Spiritual Assemblies, tend to the affairs of the Bahá’í community at their respective levels.
Service on a Bahá’í institution is viewed as a privilege, but not one that is sought by the individual. It is a responsibility to which he or she may be called at any given time.
Local Spiritual Assemblies
At the local level, the affairs of the Bahá’í community are administered by the Local Spiritual Assembly. Each Local Assembly consists of nine members who are elected annually.
The responsibilities of the Local Spiritual Assembly include:
- promoting the spiritual education of children and young people,
- strengthening the spiritual and social fabric of Bahá’í community life,
- assessing and utilizing the community’s resources,
- ensuring that the energies and talents of community members contribute towards progress
- organizing the Nineteen Day Feast.
To contact Bahá’ís in your locality write to: firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 031 352 1020.
The Nineteen Day Feast
The Nineteen Day Feast brings the friends living in a particular locality together once every nineteen days, at the beginning of every Bahá’í month; they pray and consult together, give suggestions to the Local Spiritual Assembly, and receive information from it.
Feasts are being organised, formally, in every locality that have a Local Assembly; in other places, such gatherings may informally also occur.
National Spiritual Assembly
At the national level, the affairs of the Bahá’í community are administered by the National Spiritual Assembly, a nine-member elected council annually. It’s overall mandate is to guide, coordinate, and stimulate the activities of Local Spiritual Assemblies and individual members of the Bahá’í community within a given country.
The responsibilities of a National Spiritual Assembly include:
- fostering the growth and vibrancy of the national Bahá’í community,
- channelling the community’s financial resources and supervising the affairs of the community including its properties,
- overseeing relations with government,
- resolving questions from individuals and Local Spiritual Assemblies,
- and strengthening the participation of the Bahá’í community in the life of society at the national level.
At the national and local levels, the Assemblies are elected each year by secret ballot. All Bahá’ís over the age of 21 are eligible to vote, and are asked to do so in a spirit of prayer.
Elections follow the basic Bahá’í electoral procedures: no nominations are permitted, campaigning is forbidden, electors are asked to give consideration to moral character and practical ability, and those women and men who receive the most votes are elected.
While the Local Spiritual Assembly is elected by all adult members of the local Bahá’í community, the National Spiritual Assembly is elected by delegates, who were elected in district or “unit” conventions. Each year, the delegates assemble at the National Convention, consult and share insights about the progress of the Bahá’í community, and vote for the members of the National Spiritual Assembly.
The members of all National Spiritual Assemblies are directly responsible for electing the Universal House of Justice every five years.
Other reflection spaces
In addition to the Nineteen Day Feast, other spaces are organised at the local and regional level to reflect on activities aimed to build vibrant communities. These gatherings are an opportunity to rejoice in the achievements of all involved, and make plans for the next cycle of activities.