The Baháʼí Faith is a religion founded in the 19th century that teaches the essential worth of all religions and the unity of all people. Established by Baháʼu'lláh, it initially developed in Iran and parts of the Middle East, where it has faced ongoing persecution since its inception. The religion is estimated to have five to eight million adherents, known as Baháʼís, spread throughout most of the world's countries and territories.
The Baháʼí Faith has three central figures: the Báb (1819–1850), executed for heresy, who taught that a prophet similar to Jesus and Muhammad would soon appear; Baháʼu'lláh (1817–1892), who claimed to be that prophet in 1863 and had to endure both exile and imprisonment; and his son, ʻAbdu'l-Bahá (1844–1921), who made teaching trips to Europe and the United States after his release from confinement in 1908. After ʻAbdu'l-Bahá's death in 1921, the leadership of the religion fell to his grandson Shoghi Effendi (1897–1957). Baháʼís annually elect local, regional, and national Spiritual Assemblies that govern the religion's affairs, and every five years an election is held for the Universal House of Justice, the nine-member governing institution of the worldwide Baháʼí community that is in Haifa, Israel, near the Shrine of the Báb.
According to Baháʼí teachings, religion is revealed in an orderly and progressive way by a single God through Manifestations of God, who are the founders of major world religions throughout human history; Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad are noted as the most recent of these before the Báb and Baháʼu'lláh. Baháʼís regard the world's major religions as fundamentally unified in purpose but diverging in terms of social practices and interpretations.
The Baháʼí Faith stresses the unity of all people as its core teaching and explicitly rejects notions of racism, sexism, and nationalism. At the heart of Baháʼí teachings is the goal of a unified world order that ensures the prosperity of all nations, races, creeds, and classes.
Letters and epistles by Baháʼu'lláh, along with writings and talks by his son ʻAbdu'l-Bahá, have been collected and assembled into a canon of Baháʼí scriptures. This collection includes works by the Báb, who is regarded as Baháʼu'lláh's forerunner. Prominent among the works of Baháʼí literature are the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, the Kitáb-i-Íqán, Some Answered Questions, and The Dawn-Breakers.