Bahá'u'lláh (1817 – 1892)
Bahá'u'lláh, an Arabic title meaning the ‘Glory of God’ was born in a noble family on 12 November 1817 in Tehran, the capital of Persia current day Iran. He showed signs of greatness, displaying extraordinary knowledge and wisdom from an early age. By the time He was a youth, His greatness increasingly manifested and despite this He never sought position or prominence. Bahá'u'lláh had no care for the titles and positions of this world but rather laid His interest in defending the poor and protecting the needy. He married Àsíyih Khánum at age eighteen and their home became a shelter to all with ever-present hospitality.
Bahá'u'lláh announced in 1863 that He is the Messenger of God for this age. His teachings and sacred Writings are the basis of the Bahá'í Faith.
The Báb (1819 – 1850)
The Báb, also an Arabic title meaning ‘the Gate’, was born on 20 October 1819 in Shiraz, a southern city of Iran. He belonged to a distinguished and noble family that traced its ancestry to Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam. On May 23, 1844, He announced to be the Herald of a new Revelation from God with the mission of preparing the people of the world for the arrival of a new Divine Educator. He referred to this Promised One as the Qá’im meaning “Him Whom God shall make manifest”. The Dispensation of the Báb lasted only nine years.
Abdu'l-Bahá (1844 – 1921)
‘Abdu'l-Bahá, meaning the ‘Servant of Bahá’ was the eldest son of Bahá'u'lláh born in Tehran, Iran on the same night as the Báb declared His mission. In His Will and Testament, Bahá'u'lláh appointed ‘Abdu'l-Bahá to be the Centre of His Covenant. As such, He was the Head of the Bahá’í community and the authorised and infallible interpreter of Bahá’u’lláh’s Writings. ‘Abdu'l-Bahá shared His Father’s suffering and exiles from earliest childhood and dedicated His life for selfless service to humanity.
Shoghi Effendi (1897 - 1957)
Shoghi Effendi, the eldest grandson of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá was appointed to be the Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith and interpreter of its teachings after the passing of his Grandfather. Shocked at the responsibilities shouldered on him, Shoghi Effendi served until his death in 1957 devoting his energies to the development, deepening and strengthening of the Bahá'í community. He 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.
The Universal House of Justice (1963 - Present)
The Universal House of Justice, ordained by Bahá'u'lláh as the legislative authority in the Bahá'í Faith, came into existence in 1963. It is a nine-member body elected at five-year intervals by the entire membership of the national governing institutions of the Bahá'í world. The House of Justice directs the spiritual and administrative affairs of the Bahá'í international community. It serves, as well, as custodian and trustee of the Bahá'í Holy Places and other properties in the Holy Land (Isreal). Endowed by Bahá'u'lláh with the authority to legislate on all matters not specifically laid down in the Bahá'í scriptures, the House of Justice is the institution that keeps the Bahá'í community abreast of an ever-changing world.