Building the global civilization envisaged by Bahá’u’lláh cannot be accomplished through the scattered efforts of individuals, no matter how devoted and well-meaning they may be. A community, unified in thought and action, has to come into being, grow, and move from strength to strength.
Each Bahá’í sees him or herself at once as a member of a local, national, and global community of adherents. Every effort is made to ensure that, at each of these levels, communities remain vibrant and open to all people; great care is taken to avoid the pitfalls of exclusivity. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá counsels us: “See ye no strangers; rather see all men as friends, for love and unity come hard when ye fix your gaze on otherness. … For each of the creatures is a sign of God, and it was by the grace of the Lord and His power that each did step into the world; therefore they are not strangers, but in the family; not aliens, but friends, and to be treated as such.”
The Bahá’í community came into existence gradually—from the handful who first heard the message of The Báb, to the enthusiastic band of followers of Bahá’u’lláh in cities and villages throughout nineteenth century Persia, to a global community of millions today, with members in more than 100,000 localities in virtually every country and territory around the world.
You can read more about the Bahá’í approach to community and community-building, on the open nature of Bahá’í community life, and on the relationships that Bahá’ís strive to forge between individuals, communities, and institutions, in the article titled “Community”, which is found within the “What Bahá’ís Believe” area of this website.