A Brief History of the Bahá'í Faith (1844 to Present Day)
Bahá'í History can be divided into seven periods thus far. The first three periods form the Apostolic or Heroic Age. The first epoch centres around the youthful and gentle Bab [meaning the Gate, also known as the Forerunner of Baha'u'llah who told of His coming], The Bab's ministry in Persia was brief and tumultuous since it directly proved a challenge to the established order of Shi'a Islam. It prepared the way for the long-awaited coming of the promised Messenger of God as foretold in past religious writings.
The second epoch is centered about the majestic, powerful and awe-inspiring figure of Bahá'u'lláh [meaning the Glory of God, also known by the titles: The Blessed Perfection, The Ancient Beauty], the Promised One of all religions. Having given up a life of extreme wealth and ease, He promoted the Message of the Bab, only later to learn that He Himself was the Promised One foretold by the Bab and by the religions of the past. Enduring 40 years of exiles and imprisonments, and under nearly impossible circumstances, surrounded by enemies and their plots, lies and intrigues, He revealed God's Message for this Day.
The third epoch revolves around the ministry of 'Abdu'l-Bahá [meaning servant of the Glory, i.e. of the Glory of God] and eldest son of Bahá'u'lláh. Sharing His Father's exiles and imprisonments, 'Abdu'l-Bahá became the perfect example of His Father's Teachings and today is known as the Exemplar and Interpreter of the Bahá'í Faith, The Most Great Branch, The Master, and The Center of Bahá'u'lláh's Covenant.
The last four periods comprise the Formative Age.
The first epoch of the Formative Age "witnessed the birth and the primary stages in the erection of the framework of the Administrative Order of the Faith". "That epoch was characterized by a twofold process aiming at the consolidation of the administrative structure of the Faith and the extension of the range of its institutions."
The second epoch extended that twofold process, extending the range of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's Divine Plan and culminating with the election of the Universal House of Justice situated in Haifa, Israel, on the slopes of Mt. Carmel.
The third epoch, characterized by rapid growth, concluded with the beginning of the Faith's emergence from obscurity into the larger arena of public notice, fueled in no small part by the persecution of the Bahá'í's in the land of It's birth.
The fourth (and present) epoch began with the increased maturation of the administrative institutions from the local spiritual assemblies up to and including the Universal House of Justice which is now engaged in a vast expansion of the World Center. This epoch witnesses the complete emergence of the Faith from obscurity and vastly greater involvement in the social and economic development of the world.
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