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The Bahá'í writings state that human beings have a "rational soul", and that this provides the species with a unique capacity to recognize God's status and humanity's relationship with its creator.
Every human is seen to have a duty to recognize God through his messengers, and to conform to their teachings.
From these postulates stems the belief that God periodically reveals his will through divine messengers, whose purpose is to transform the character of humankind and to develop, within those who respond, moral and spiritual qualities.
Religion is thus seen as orderly, unified, and progressive from age to age.
Through recognition and obedience, service to humanity and regular prayer and spiritual practice, the Bahá'í writings state that the soul becomes closer to God, the spiritual ideal in Bahá'í belief.
When a human dies, the soul passes into the next world, where its spiritual development in the physical world becomes a basis for judgment and advancement in the spiritual world.
Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the religion from 1921 to 1957, wrote the following summary of what he considered to be the distinguishing principles of Bahá'u'lláh's teachings, which, he said, together with the laws and ordinances of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas constitute the bedrock of the Bahá'í Faith: The independent search after truth, unfettered by superstition or tradition; the oneness of the entire human race, the pivotal principle and fundamental doctrine of the Faith; the basic unity of all religions; the condemnation of all forms of prejudice, whether religious, racial, class or national; the harmony which must exist between religion and science; the equality of men and women, the two wings on which the bird of human kind 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; the exaltation of work, performed in the spirit of service, to the rank of worship; the glorification of justice as the ruling principle in human society, and of religion as a bulwark for the protection of all peoples and nations; and the establishment of a permanent and universal peace as the supreme goal of all mankind—these stand out as the essential elements [which Bahá'u'lláh proclaimed].
The following principles are frequently listed as a quick summary of the Bahá'í teachings.
being universal and endless, and a "Lesser Covenant", being unique to each religious dispensation.Conversely, certain general principles (for example, neighbourliness, or charity) are seen to be universal and consistent.In Bahá'í belief, this process of progressive revelation will not end; it is, however, believed to be cyclical.Established by Bahá'u'lláh in 1863, it initially grew in the Middle East and now has between 5 and 7 million adherents, known as Bahá'ís, spread out into most of the world's countries and territories, with the highest concentration in Iran.In 1863, after being banished from his native Iran, Bahá'u'lláh announced that he was this prophet.
In English-language use, the word Bahá'í is used either as an adjective to refer to the Bahá'í Faith or as a term for a follower of Bahá'u'lláh.