The following is reposted with permission from USENET's soc.religion.bahai: EARLY HISTORY In May of 1844, a young Persian by the name of Siyyid Ali Muhammad declared that He was the first of two Prophets promised by many of the religions of the past; to Shi'ah Islam He claimed to be the promised Qa'im, to Judaism the return of the "Prophet Elijah", and to Christianity the return of "John the Baptist", to the Zoroastrian Faith "Hooshidar Maah" or "The Morning Star". He took the title of The Bab (Gate). The Bab claimed to be the latest in a line of Manifestations (messengers) of God dating back to the time of Abraham and including Moses, Christ, and Muhammad. The Bab's mission was twofold: He first announced to the people of His native land His own station as an independent Messenger and He also prepared the way for the coming of another Manifestation, a Prophet who would announce His station soon after The Bab. The next six years marked a dramatic increase in both the number of persons who became followers of the Bab and in the energy spent by the Shi'ah clergy of Iran to stamp out this new religion. Eventually 20,000 Babis would be put to death for their beliefs. The Bab himself was imprisoned in the fortresses of Mah-Ku and Chihriq, and in July of 1850 was executed in the town of Tabriz. Many Babis were also imprisoned. Among them was a Man by the name of Husayn Ali, who was imprisoned in 1853 in Tehran for several months and then exiled to Iraq. It was in the city of Baghdad in 1863 that Husayn Ali announced to the world His station. He declared that He was the One that the Bab had prepared the way for and He took the title of Baha'u'llah (The Glory of God) given to Him by His forerunner The Bab. Baha'u'llah claimed to be the Promised One of many religions; the Return of Christ to Christianity, the "Lord of Hosts" to Judaism, the Imam Husayn to Shi'ah Islam, the "Spirit of God" or "the Return of Christ" to Sunni Islam, the Shah-Bahram of Zoroastrian Faith, the reincarnation of Krishna or manifestation of Kalki Avatar to Hindu Faith, and Maitrya-Amitabha or the fifth Buddha or to Buddhism. The majority of the Babis (the followers of the Bab) accepted Baha'u'llah's claim and became known as Baha'is (the follower of Baha). Shortly after His declaration, Baha'u'llah was again banished even further From His native land, to Baghdad, Constantinople and then to Adrianople. Finally in 1867, Baha'u'llah was exiled for the last time. He was sent to the prison city of Akka (Acre) in Palestine. He would stay in and around Akka until the end of His life in 1892. Before Baha'u'llah passed away, He appointed His eldest son, Abdu'l-Baha, to be the center of His Covenant and the interpreter of His writings Abdu'l-Baha was leader of the Baha'i Faith until His own passing in 1922. Although He is not considered to be a Manifestation of God like the Bab and Baha'u'llah, Abdu'l-Baha's decisions are believed to have been divinely guided and His writings (along with the Bab's and Baha'u'llah's) are considered a part of the Baha'i sacred scripture. After being released from the prison in Akka, Abdu'l-Baha made several journeys to the West, including a trip to America in 1912.