This is the next post in the series on the Bahá’í Faith. In the first post we discussed the situation of the Bahá’ís in Iran, and the subsequent post talked about some essential teachings of the Bahá’í Faith. Today’s post gives a brief overview of the life of its Founder, Bahá’u’lláh.
Bahá’u’lláh was born 12 November 1817 in Tehran as Mirza Husayn-Ali, into a family of a Mirza Buzurg, a high ranking official at the court of the Shah. Later, he assumed the title Bahá’u’lláh (Glory of God). Since His childhood, He possessed innate knowledge. He did not attend regular school, and only received some instruction at home. As a young man, he was offered a position at court, but He refused it, choosing to focus on charitable deeds.
There are two aspects of His life that serve as a framework for understanding of His personage. One is His suffering, and second, the influence He and His work had on other people. The persecution of the Bahá’í Faith in Iran traces back to this early history.
From the moment Bahá’u’lláh chose to proclaim the new religion, the authorities set out to extinguish the movement. First, they imprisoned Bahá’u’lláh and a number of other believers in a notorious prison in Iran, Siyah Chal (Black Pit). This was an underground dungeon without any source of natural light, or sanitation. The prisoners were chained to the walls, and every day, one of them would be taken to execution. Eventually, Bahá’u’lláh was released, but this was not the end to His imprisonment.
For the next 40 years, Bahá’u’lláh and His family lived in exile, and suffered different levels of imprisonment. First, they were exiled to Baghdad, next to Constantinople, Adrianople, and finally to Akko. Throughout this time, Bahá’u’lláh was producing writings that amount to approximately 100 volumes, written in Persian and Arabic. As the family traveled in exile, the message was also spreading. Many believers traveled to visit the family and were willing to undergo much personal hardship to be able to complete a visit. Some of the works written by Bahá’u’lláh are Hidden Words, a book consisting of brief verses describing the relationship between human beings and God, Kitab-i-Iqan (Book of Certitude) that talks about the nature of the Manifestations of God, and the lifecycle of religions, and Seven Valleys, a mystical and poetic work describing the soul’s journey. In many of His Tablets, Bahá’u’lláh outlined the administrative order of the Faith, and its principles. He also wrote many beautiful prayers and mystical poems.
Bahá’u’lláh passed away on May 29, 1892 in Bahjí, near Akko. The Shrine in which He is buried is considered by the Bahá’ís the holiest spot on Earth. Bahá’ís make pilgrimage to visit this place, as well as several other holy places in Haifa and the surrounding area. The World Center of the Bahá’í Faith is located on Mt. Carmel in Haifa. The Iranian government frequently accuses Bahá’ís of “spying for Israel,” but the reasons for the Bahá’í presence in today’s Israel predate its establishment.
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