The Most Recent among the World's Religions
Baha'is believe in the Oneness of God. This leads them to believe in the Oneness of Religion, the "changeless Faith of God, eternal in the past, eternal in the future." In this sense, the Baha'i Faith is related to all past religions. Its roots however, are in the religion which immediately preceded it, Islam. This relationship is analogous to that between Christianity and Judaism. This has led sometimes to the inaccurate perception of the Baha'i Faith as a sect of Islam.
Before we go any further, it should be stated that the Baha'i Faith , unequivocally, and without any hesitation, teaches and asserts the divine origin of Islam. It affirms that the Holy Qur'an is God's revelation, pure and unaltered, and that Muhammad (PBUH) is God's Servant and Messenger and the Seal of the Prophets. People from every religious and ethnic background who embrace the Baha'i Faith, embrace this belief.
The Baha'i Faith however, has its own Founder (Baha'u'llah), its own holy Books, and its own laws and principles.
The independent nature of the new Faith was first proclaimed during the Conference of Badasht in 1848 when a group of the followers of the Bab (the Herald of the Baha'i Faith), gathered in the hamlet of Badasht in North East Iran to discuss the nature of their new Faith.
As the new religion first spread in countries predominantly Muslim, many of it's followers maintained the strong ties they had with their Muslim families and friends. Objections, however, often arose in those countries to many of the everyday life observances such as marriages and funerals which were conducted according to Baha'i laws. Because of these objections, Baha'is for example were refused burial in cemeteries which belonged to followers of other religions.
Resulting from one such case, the highest religious court in Egypt, confirmed in 1925, the decision of one of the lower courts, and officially declared the Baha'i Faith as a separate and independent religion which (according to the court) could not be reconciled with what followers of Islam, of the different schools of thought, believe in:
"The Baha'i Faith is a new religion, entirely independent, with beliefs, principles and laws of its own, which differ from, and are utterly in conflict with, the beliefs, principles and laws of Islam. No Baha'i, therefore, can be regarded a Muslim or vice-versa, even as no Buddhist, Brahmin, or Christian can be regarded a Muslim or vice-versa."
It follows that both Baha'is, and the Islamic court agree that the Baha'i Faith is not a sect of Islam.