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October 20 Birthday of the Bab

This is one of the nine major holy days of the Bah 'i faith, a religion with six million followers worldwide

Outline script for assembly leader

It all began one May day in 1844 in Persia (now Iran). A young merchant called Mirza Ali Muhammad began to preach that a new world of peace and justice was at hand. He gave himself the title of B b, an Arabic word meaning gate. He said that, just as John the Baptist had announced the coming of Jesus, he was preparing the way for someone far greater than himself.

The B b had been a Muslim and at first he continued to follow the Muslim faith. Gradually, his teachings grew away from Islam. This offended the Shi'a Muslims of Persia and he was persecuted, eventually being executed by firing squad in 1850. One of his closest followers, known as Baha'u'llah was arrested and imprisoned. On his release, he fled to Baghdad. In 1863, he announced he was the prophet the B b had promised and he became the leader of the religion now known as the Bah 'i faith.

Baha'u'llah wanted to bring peace to the world, uniting all races. He believed all religions are like chapters in one book and that their leaders (including Krishna, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad) are all equal, like the rays from the sun. Bah 'is believe that God will send more such prophets in the future.

He taught that "The earth is but one country and all mankind its citizens."

Besides working for peace Bah 'is believe in the equality of men and women, care for the planet's natural resources and those in need.

They also work for an end to prejudice and the elimination of extreme wealth and poverty. The religion's followers are still persecuted in Iran, but in other countries the faith has grown rapidly in recent years, despite the fact that Bah 'is never seek converts.

Follow-up More information about the faith can be found at www.bahai.org On October 20 Bah 'is wish each other "peace and joy". Design greetings cards for the festival, which express one of Baha'u'llah's teachings.

A Bah 'i magazine for children, called Dayspring, is available by visiting www. dayspring-magazine.org.uk

For more information about Bah 'is visit the BBC website www.bbc.co.ukreligionreligionsbahaiindex.shtml

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