Baha'i faith


The Baha'i faith is an independent world religion that originated in Persia (now Iran) in the middle of the 19th century. Its founder is called Baha'u'llah (Glory of God). Baha'u'llah announced that he was a messenger from God sent to help bring about a new age of global civilisation which would be characterised by unity and peace. Baha'u'llah was persecuted and finally exiled to Akka (Acre) in Palestine where he died in 1892. The spiritual and administrative centre of the Baha'i faith is thus in present-day Israel.

Some key Baha'i beliefs are that:

  • there is one God 
  • each person has a soul that lives on after death 
  • all religions have a common foundation 
  • men and women should have equal opportunity 
  • prejudice of all kinds should be challenged 
  • extremes of wealth and poverty should be abolished 
  • religious and cultural diversity should be respected. 


Attitudes to healthcare staff and illness

Most Baha'is have a positive attitude towards healthcare staff and are willing to seek medical help and advice when sick. As well as taking prescribed medication, Baha'is believe in the power of prayer in healing.


Religious practices

Baha'is must usually recite daily prayers. Although in illness Baha'is are exempt from these prayers, some may still wish to recite them, and would therefore appreciate privacy.


Baha'is have no specific dietary requirements. Some Baha'is may be vegetarian but this is a personal choice, not a religious requirement. The use of alcohol and habit-forming drugs is strictly prohibited except when prescribed by a physician. Smoking is discouraged.


The Baha'i fast takes place every year from 2-20 March inclusive; at this time Baha'is may not take food or drink from sunrise to sunset. Fasting is not obligatory during sickness or pregnancy, while breastfeeding or menstruating, during hard physical labour, or on long journeys, and people under the age of 15 or over 70 are exempt from fasting.

Washing and toilet

Washing and toilet present no unusual problems for Baha'is, although they prefer to have access to water for ablutions before prayers.

Ideas of modesty and dress

There are no particular points to be noted in this area and few Baha'is would object to being examined by doctors of the opposite sex.

Death customs

Baha'is treat the body of a deceased person with great respect. Baha'i law prescribes that burial should take place at a distance of no more than one hour's journey from the place of death. The body should not be cremated or embalmed. Funerals are normally arranged by the family of the deceased if available, or on occasions by the Baha'i Assembly (usually listed in the phone book). Baha'i relatives or friends will wish to say prayers for the dead. Autopsies and post mortem examinations are acceptable if necessary. Because they believe life begins at conception, a miscarriage is a great loss and the foetus should be treated with respect. Wherever possible the remains should be returned to the parents or local Baha'i community for burial.

Birth customs

The birth of a child is a time of joy and Baha'is may wish to express their gratitude to God with prayer; but they have no rituals associated with birth.

Family planning

Family planning is left to the personal conscience of a Baha'i, but please bear the following in mind. Irreversible sterilisation in either sex is discouraged unless there is a medical condition relevant to the decision, in which case the individual would seek qualified medical advice. Abortion is permitted only where there are strong medical grounds such as risk to the mother's life and health. Abortion is not regarded lightly and is not permitted as a contraceptive measure. Many Baha'is will not use the intra-uterine device for contraception as they regard it more as an abortive measure than a contraceptive. Artificial insemination and in-vitro fertilisation are permitted provided that the wife's egg is fertilised by the husband's sperm and that the child is born from the womb of the natural mother.

Blood transfusions, transplants and organ donation

Most Baha'is would have no objection to blood transfusions and may receive transplants or donate organs for transplant.