“… countless ills … are the consequences of the disunity afflicting the human family”.
The Universal House of Justice, Century of Light, p. 97
The Founder and Background:
The Bab faith was founded in 1844 by Ali Muhammad Shirazi in Persia. The faith is derived from the Shia Islam but it is not considered as a sector part of Shia Islam, it is an independent new religion.
Baha’ullah was one of the followers of the new religion in Teheran. Slowly he became a leading figure by the religion followers. The Bab faith was persecuted by the Iranian rulers and later, Baha’ullah was jailed and expelled to Kurdistan where he wrote some religious books. He goes to Baghdad and in 1863 he establishes a new religion, the Baha’i faith which is different from the Bab.
In his last years, he was a prisoner of the Ottomans and was kept in Akko. During his time in the land, he pointed out the place where the Baha’i center will be built on the Carmel Mountain which he considered as holy.
The Baha’i Faith:
the Baha’i faith is universal and pacifistic, they believe in one God which has sent many prophets along the history of human kind. From the known “classic” Mosses, Jesus and Muhamad, to Buddha Krishna and Zarathustra. They believe in harmony between science and religion, gender equality, and avoiding bearing arms or participate in any fighting force. Part of their belief is the idea of unity, they are promoting ideas of establishing a global government, use of one global language in the past they used Esperanto and today Lojban.
“So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth”.
Bahá’u’lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 14
Most important buildings to the Baha’i faith art located in Haifa and Akko, the temple, the universal house of justice (which is their world religious center) and the house of the founder. Despite those facts, there is no Baha’i community in Israel. Although the Baha’i faith is a preaching religion, according to their founder they are not supposed to preach in Israel.
There are Baha’i who lives in Israel to maintain the buildings and the gardens and take care of the Baha’i pilgrims, they come for short time and leave.
Bahá’í World Centre In Israel
Bahá’í World Centre is located in northern Israel. The religion supreme religious and administrative authority is located in the Cities of Haifa and Acre.
The holiest site fo the Bahá’í is located in Acre.
The Bahá’í garden and compound in Haifa
The compound in Haifa spreads over almost a kilometer on the slopes of the Carmel ridge. The compound was carved into the mountain and is made out of 19 terraces, 19 is a holy number in the Bahá’í faith.
In order to create a complete symmetry in the total appearance of the garden in the city and the surrounding, the municipality of Haifa moved the whole street beneath the gardens by almost 2 meters in order to make the street look as a continues part of the gardens. The gardens contain more than 450 types of plants and there are around 140 gardeners maintaining them.
Some of the buildings in the compound:
Shrine of the Báb
In the middle of the gardens lay the Shrine of the Báb. The shrine is the burial place of the remains of Sayyed ʿAli Muhammad Shirāzi (theBáb), the founder of the Bábi Faith and the forerunner of Bahá’u’lláh in the Bahá’í Faith. The shrine is the second holiest place for the Bahá’í faith after the burial place of Bahá’u’lláh himself in Acre.
The shrine is open for visitors each day except Wednesday until 12:00 pm.
The Universal House of Justice
The Supreme institute of the Bahá’í faith. the house has 9 members which are elected every 5 years. The house discusses laws and problems which the Bahá’í Faith encounter since the foundation of the religion and trying to adapt it to the modern life and keep the spirit of the founder Bahá’u’lláh.
The Bahá’í International Archive
The building holds books and scriptures that were collected by the Bahá’í faith since its foundation. the building is built as a Greek temple and was inspired by the Parthenon.
the underground facilities under the Bahá’í gardens include a volunteers center, offices, mess hall, a hall with 400 seats and more.
How Do I visit the Bahá’í Gardens?
- Remember that it is a religious place. modest clothes are required.
- bring water.
- Photography is allowed in the gardens but not inside the shrine.
- Eating, smoking, chewing a gum or drinking anything but water is not allowed in the gardens.
There are free tours of the gardens every day except Wednesday, no reservation needed. For the exact schedule and details check their website.
Besides the tours, you can visit the upper and middle terrace with the shrine at your own every day except Wednesday until 12 pm.
Remember! The English tour starts at 12:00, so if you want to visit the shrine, you’ll have to get to the shrine before the tour. The entrance to the shrine terrace is from Sderot Hatsiyonut street.
The Bahai garden tour
The tour starts at 45 Yefe Nof Street, and lasts 50 minutes, ending at the main entrance to the gardens on Hatzionut Avenue. English tour is at 12:00 pm.
To be honest the tours are not so good. you won’t get more info than on this page. The guides are not Bahai so their knowledge on the religion is quite limited.
The only advantage of the tour is that you get to walk through half of the gardens, from the top terrace to the middle one with the shrine. No access to the rest of the buildings.
Note that the tour starts at the upper terrace on Yefe Nof Street and ends at Sderot Hatsyonut street.
If you are short in time, I will recommend going early by yourself to the middle terrace with the shrine and it will be enough.