Baháʼí Symbols and Their Meaning

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The Baháʼí religion may be only two centuries old but it has developed its fair share of deep religious symbols over the years. A religion that prides itself on being a continuation of all other religious traditions of the world and a unifying faith, the Baháʼí religion has drawn its inspiration, meaning, and symbolism from several different religions, languages, and philosophies.

What Is The Baháʼí Faith?

Developed in the beginning of the 19th century in Iran and in other parts of the Middle East, the Baháʼí faith was created by its first prophet Baháʼu’lláh. The core tenet of the Baháʼí faith is that all religions in the world show us different sides of the One True God and that all other prophets such as Buddha, Jesus, and Mohammad, were indeed true prophets.

What sets the Baháʼí faith aside, however, is the belief that no other religion knows God fully and that the Baháʼí religion is the next step in getting to know Him.

In essence, the Baháʼí religion aims to draw the followers of all other religions into its fold and establish one unified world faith. Whether we agree with that or not, there’s no denying that the Baháʼí religion’s symbolism is very fascinating in its multi-cultural inspiration.

The Most Popular Baháʼí Symbols

Lotus temple Bahai
Lotus Temple – A Bahai House of Worship in New Delhi

As a new religion, Baháʼí hasn’t incorporated many written symbols as “holy”. Additionally, it is largely inspired by Islam which is also a religion that doesn’t focus too much on symbols and symbolism. Nevertheless, there are a few symbols that are recognized by the Baháʼís or the followers of this religion.

1. Haykal – The Five-Pointed Star

Haykal Bahai symbol

The five-pointed star is the main symbol in the Baháʼí religion. Also called Haykal (from the Arabic word for Temple), the five-pointed star was especially elevated as the main symbol of this religion by Shoghi Effendi, the third leader of Baháʼí who led the religion into the 20th century.

The five-pointed star is meant to represent both the human body and form as well as the people’s faith in God. Báb, the first prophet and leader of Baháʼí , wrote many of his special letters and tablets in the shape of a five-pointed star.

2. The Greatest Name

the greatest name
Calligraphic rendering of the Greatest Name. Public Domain.

The Greatest Name is the other core symbol of the Baháʼí religion. It’s the Arabic symbol for the word Baháʼ which literally translates as glory or splendor. This symbol is called The Greatest Name in reference to an Islamic belief that God has 99 names and a special, hidden 100th name.

As the Baháʼís believe that their religion is the next step after Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and all other religions, they believe that Báb has shown the 100th hidden name of God – Baháʼí or Glory.

3. The Ringstone Symbol

Bahai ringstone smbol
Bahai ringstone symbol by Jewelwill. See it here.

Closely related to The Greatest Name symbol, the Ringstone Symbol is a popular design the Baháʼís wear on rings to denote their belief in Bahá similar to how Christian wear crosses.

The Ringstone symbol is comprised of two small Haykal stars on either side of a type of Bahá symbol. The Bahá symbol isn’t exactly the same as The Greatest Name but it is similar.

It consists of three curvy horizontal lines with stylized ends. The lower line is believed to symbolize humanity, the upper one represents God, and the short middle line is meant to represent the Manifestation of God or the Word of Revelation.

4. The Number Nine

The number 9 holds a special place in the Baháʼí religion – according to the Abjad (Arabic) numerical system of Isopsephy (a type of numerology), the word Bahá is numerically equivalent to the number 9.

Because of that, the number 9 can be seen in many different texts, teachings, and other symbols. As Shoghi Effendi once wrote:

“Concerning the number nine: the Baháʼís reverence this for two reasons, first because it is considered by those interested in numbers as the sign of perfection. The second consideration, which is the more important one, is that it is the numerical value of the word “Baháʼ…

Besides these two significances, the number nine has no other meaning. It is, however, enough to make the Baháʼís use it when an arbitrary number is to be chosen”.

5. The Nine-Pointed Star

Bahai 9 pointed star

Because of the Baháʼís reverence for the number 9 and the five-pointed star, they also hold the nine-pointed star in high regard as well. This symbol is used so often that people often mistake it as the main symbol of the Baháʼí faith instead of the five-pointed star.

As for its design, the nine-pointed star doesn’t have one “right” depiction. It can be portrayed in a variety of ways and in various designs.

Wrapping Up

The above symbols represent the ideals, values, and beliefs of the Baháʼis. For the Baháʼís, they’re reminders of the belief that there is only one God, that all religions come from this single creator, and that unity and peace are the most important objectives.