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Bahá'í symbols

The official symbol of the Bahá'í Faith is the five-pointed star, as mentioned by Shoghi Effendi:

"Strictly speaking the 5-pointed star is the symbol of our Faith, as used by the Báb and explained by Him.

There are also three other symbols used: the nine-pointed star, the ringstone symbol, and calligraphy of the Greatest Name.

Haykal (temple)

The haykal (Arabic for "temple"), a five-pointed star, was established by the Báb. He wrote many letters, tablets, prayers and more in the shape of a star. The haykal represents the (body of the) Manifestation of God, as described in the Súriy-i-Haykal, and is used in this way in the ringstone symbol. Also, many of Bahá'u'lláh's writings were written in the shape of a haykal.

Bahá’

The symbols of the Bahá'í Faith derive their significance from the Arabic word Bahá’ (بهاء), translated as "glory" or "splendour". It is the root word used in many other names and phrases:

  • Bahá'í (a follower of Bahá')
  • Bahá'u'lláh (Glory of God)
  • `Abdu'l-Bahá (Servant of the Glory)
  • Yá Bahá'u'l-Abhá (Oh Glory of the Most Glorious)
  • Alláhu Abhá (God is Most Glorious)

Bahá'u'lláh often referred to Bahá'ís in his writings as "the people of Bahá’", and in addition, the Báb sent a tablet to Bahá'u'lláh with 360 derivatives of the word Bahá’, fulfilling a Shi'i Muslim tradition that the Promised One would reveal the secret "hundredth name".

Along with daily prayers, Bahá'ís are encouraged to recite the phrase "Alláhu Abhá" 95 times in a form of meditation, sometimes using prayer beads.

Nine Pointed Star

The most commonly used symbol is the nine-pointed star. No particular design is more desirable than others, as long as it has 9 points. The star is not a part of the teachings of the Bahá'í Faith, but only used as an emblem representing "9", because of the association of number 9 with perfection, unity and Bahá’.

Arabic uses a system of Abjad numerals, which attaches numerical values to letters and words. The numerical value of Bahá’ is 9.

The number 9 also comes up several times in Bahá'í history and teachings.

On the significance of the number 9, Shoghi Effendi wrote:

"Concerning the number nine: the Bahá'ís reverence this for two reasons, first because it is considered by those who are 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 "Bahá’"…
"Besides these two significances the number nine has no other meaning. It is, however, enough to make the Bahá'ís use it when an arbitrary number is to be chosen.

Ringstone Symbol

Designed by `Abdu'l-Bahá, the ringstone symbol, as its name implies, is the most common symbol found on rings worn by Bahá'ís, but it is also used on necklaces, book covers, and paintings. It consists of two stars (haykal) interspersed with a stylized Bahá’. The lower line is said to represent humanity, the upper line God, and the middle line represents the special station of Manifestation of God; the vertical line is the Primal Will or Holy Spirit proceeding from God through the Manifestations to humanity. The position of Manifestation of God in this symbol is said to be the linking point to God.

This symbol can be found in the architecture of the Shrine of the Báb.

The Greatest Name

The Greatest Name, or more fully, the calligraphy of the Greatest Name of God, is an Arabic calligraphic rendering of "Yá Bahá'u'l-Abhá" (يا بهاء الأبهى usually translated as "O Thou the Glory of the Most Glorious!").

This rendering was originally drawn by the early Bahá'í calligrapher Mishkín Qalam, and later adopted by Bahá'ís everywhere. It is seen in most Bahá'í homes and is also laid out over the casket of dead believers during the Bahá'í funeral. It can commonly be found on rings as well, though other symbols are also used. This symbol refers more directly to the Name of God and of the Messenger of God, than any other symbol in the Bahá'í Faith, thus it is not generally used in a casual manner or to adorn the personal artefacts of Bahá'ís - unlike the ringstone symbol. Bahá'ís place no inherent spiritual value on such symbols, but reverence for the Name of God itself is an important aspect of Bahá'í beliefs.

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