The meaning of the number nine (9) in the Baha’i Faith – why is it special? A nine pointed star?

As some of you may know, the number nine (9) has special significance in the Bahá’í Faith…but….why?? Some interesting coincidences around the number 9 before we begin:

  • All democratically elected institutions in the Faith (Universal House of Justice, National Spiritual Assemblies and Local Spiritual Assemblies) have nine members.
  • The number 9 is the last single decimal number and in both the Bahá’í Faith and Hinduism is considered a symbol of completion or perfection.
  • In Islam, the moth of fasting (Ramadan), falls on the ninth month of the Islamic calendar.
  • Important rituals in Buddhism involve a total of 9 monks.
  • Nine years after the Bab’s Declaration in Shiraz, Bahá’u’lláh received His Mission in Tehran.
  • The Bahá’í temples have 9 sides and/or entrances.

Ok…so these are just some interesting things about the number nine…let’s explore this meaning in the Bahá’í Faith in line with science:

– There is something called the “Abjad Numerals”. This is a system in which each of the characters of the Arabic alphabet have a numerical value. This has been used since around the 8th century!
Now…an important word in the Baha’i Faith, according to the Abjad system add to the number 9!
Ok, so the word “Bahá” which means “Glory” in English and its numeric value according to this system is equal to 9: B=2, A=1, H=5, A=1; therefore: 2+1+5+1=9!

According to the Guardian (Shoghi Effendi) of the Bahá’í Faith, the number nine is of importance to Bahá’ís for two reasons:
1. First: because it is considered a sign of perfection by those who like numbers and
2. the “second consideration which is the more important one is that it is the numerical value for the word ‘Bahá’. (B=2, h=5, a=1, and there is an accent at the end of the word which is also = 1; the ‘a’ after the ‘B’ is not written in Persian so it does not count.) In the Semitic languages—both Arabic and Hebrew—every letter of the alphabet had a numerical value, so instead of using figures to denote numbers they used letters and compounds of letters. Thus every word had both a literal meaning and also a numerical value.” From a letter written on behalf of tShoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 19, 1932

He also moves on, and explains that: “Nine is the highest digit, hence symbolizes comprehensiveness, culmination; also, the reason it is used in the Temple’s form is because 9 has the exact numerical value of ‘Bahá’ (in the numerology connected with the Arabic alphabet) and Bahá is the name of the Revealer of our Faith, Bahá’u’lláh. The 9-pointed star is not a part of the teachings of our Faith, but only used as an emblem representing ‘9’. A Bahá’í temple has 9 sides because of the association of 9 with perfection, unity and ‘Bahá’.” From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 28, 1949.

So, although the 9 pointed star is NOT the symbol of the Bahá’í Faith, it is used by it’s followers in jewelry and other art pieces.

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4 responses to “The meaning of the number nine (9) in the Baha’i Faith – why is it special? A nine pointed star?

  • Tricia Hague-Blackford

    Plus all Baha’i Temples have 9 sides…. which means that no door is oposite another, and it is opened to all of humanity. Just another interesting fact.

  • 9 - Baha'i Forums

    […] is something interesting about the significance about 9 in the Baha'i Faith from a nicely written blog 95 Gems. […]

  • jdcaran

    “Strictly speaking the 5-pointed star is the symbol of our Faith, as used by the Báb and explained by Him.” Shoghi Effendi (Directives of the Guardian, p. 52)

    “We wish to point out that…the nine-pointed star…[is] not in any way the symbol of the Bahá’í Faith in the sense that the cross is the symbol of Christianity or the crescent the symbol of Islam.”
    (From a letter by the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, dated 22 August 1963)

    “In a letter to the Temple Guides Committee, dated 5 December 1944, the Guardian’s secretary stated on his behalf that the nine-pointed star [i]s not a symbol of the Faith in any special sense…”

    (From a letter on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, dated 30 August 1981)

    “The 9-pointed star is not a part of the teachings of our Faith, but only used as an emblem representing ‘9’. In telling people of the 9 religions of the world, that is existing religions, we should not give this as the reason the Temple has nine sides. This may have been an idea of the architect, and a very pleasing idea, which can be mentioned in passing, but the Temple has 9 sides because of the association of 9 with perfection, unity and ‘Bahá’.”

    (Shoghi Effendi, Directives from the Guardian, p. 87

    Good blog post. It may be wise to update it to reflect the fact that the number 9 is *not* a symbol of the Baha’i Faith. It could be sufficient simply to remove the claim that it is “the symbol of the Baha’i Faith.”

    Best regards,
    James

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