Gathering of faithful will honor founder

Paul Huber, caretaker and administrator of the Bahai Center at the Wilheim Estate in Teaneck, prepares for an upcoming event.

When one of the founding fathers of the Bahai religion spoke in 1912 to followers in North Jersey, he declared that the event would be commemorated for years to come.

He was right.

On Saturday, Bahais from across the country will hold their annual unity feast at the Roy Wilhelm estate in Teaneck, marking the 96th anniversary of the visit by Abdul Baha to what was then West Englewood.

"This instills in us why we are Bahai," said Paul Huber, who lives on the estate and helps maintain the grounds. "It's a gathering of people from all over. People are breaking bread together. You look and you see this sea of faces of all races and all nationalities."

Baha was the son and chosen successor of the prophet Baha'u'llah, who founded the Bahai religion in 19th-century Persia. Baha's North Jersey visit was one stop on what Bahais regard as an epochal journey through the West to spread the faith.

{josquote}We are not like the Catholics or any other faith that says 'this is it, you have to follow this or you are out of our church,' It's nothing like that at all.{/josquote}

Bahais, who number about 5 million worldwide, describe their faith as the youngest of the monotheistic religions. They believe that the major world religions build on one another to form a continuum through which God reveals himself to mankind. They regard Baha'u'llah as the most recent in a line of prophets that includes Moses, Buddha, Jesus and Muhammad. And they believe that other prophets and writings will emerge to help mankind in the future.

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