Established in Iran in 1844, the Baha'i faith preaches that the founders of the world's main religions -- Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Buddha, Muhammad and Krishna -- are "divine messengers" tapped to disclose revelations of one God, and that their religion's founder, Baha'u'llah, is the latest divine messenger. Despite (or because of) this accepting approach to all faiths, Baha'i leaders and followers faced persecution from the outset, particularly in their native country [sources: Baha'i Topics, UNESCO].
Viewed as heretics to the Islam religion, roughly 20,000 Baha'i followers – including a prophet called the Báb – were killed across Iran in the mid-1850s. After wandering Turkey, Iraq and Egypt for 15 years, Baha'u'llah came to Western Galilee in 1868 as a prisoner. He remained in the area for the last 24 years of his life, drafting and compiling the scriptures that now serve as the religion's foundational texts [sources: Baha'i Topics, UNESCO].
Two of the Baha'i faith's most important holy places -- the Shrine of Baha'u'llah in Acre and the Shrine of the Báb in Haifa – were erected in the 1950s in what's now Israel, and are visited by thousands of Baha'i pilgrims each year. Still, the twin shrines and their meticulously kept meditation gardens face the threat of rising waters from the nearby Mediterranean Sea [sources: UNESCO, IOP Science].