The Birth of Baha’u’llah

Tehran, Iran, the Birthplace of Baha’u’llah, the Founder of the Baha’i Faith. (Photo taken by Effie Baker in 1930. Courtesy: Baha’i Media Bank)

194 years ago, on 12 November 1817 in Tehran, Baha’u’llah was born.

As followers of Baha’u’llah’s faith, we are familiar with the profound wisdom of His writings and the dramatic events of His life. But there is a mystery that remains around His early years.

This is true of all other Manifestations of God too. I often marvel at the images of “baby Jesus” that we see in the ubiquitous nativity scenes every Christmas. It’s difficult to imagine that the Manifestations of God, who revealed teachings that revitalised entire human civilizations and who suffered the greatest tribulations while demonstrating the qualities of God, were once children!

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The Ascension of Baha’u’llah

The Mansion of Bahji, in Acre, Israel, where Baha’u’llah passed away on May 29, 1892. (Photo by Kamran Granfar courtesy of Baha'i Media Bank)

In the early hours of the morning of 29 May, 1892, Baha’u’llah, the founder of the Baha’i Faith passed away.

The commemoration of His passing is called ‘The Ascension of Baha’u’llah’, and Baha’is throughout the world pay their respects with prayers and selected Baha’i Writings. It is also one of nine days in the Baha’i calendar year, where work should be suspended.

For almost 40 years Baha’u’llah suffered imprisonment and banishment, originally from His birthplace in Persia (present-day Iran), to Baghdad, and then to the Ottoman cities of Constantinople, Adrianople, and then finally to the infamous prison city of Acre (in present-day Israel), where He was held in a cold and damp cell. Continue reading

Stories of Baha’u’llah

A view of the Shrine of Baha'u'llah in Bahji, Israel. (Photo: courtesy of Chad Mauger)

In honour of the Birth of Baha’u’llah, I have been reflecting on my personal connection to Him. Shoghi Effendi described Baha’u’llah with these towering words:

preeminent in holiness, awesome in the majesty of His strength and power, unapproachable in the transcendent brightness of His glory.

There are many ways to connect the heart with Baha’u’llah and to begin to understand Shoghi Effendi’s words. For example, you can read and reflect on Baha’u’llah’s Writings, study the events of His life, or cherish stories about Him.  Continue reading

The Ascension of Baha’u’llah Is Everywhere

The “Is Everywhere” Collective, which brought us this wonderful online Naw-Ruz celebration, special programming for every day of the Festival of Ridvan, and a virtual celebration in honor of the Declaration of the Bab is also commemorating the Ascension of Baha’u’llah. In this video, they provide programming that includes music and readings from the Baha’i Writings.  Continue reading

The Significance of the Shrine of Baha’u’llah

The Shrine of Baha'u'llah (Photo: Baha'i World Centre)

The Shrine of Baha’u’llah (Photo: Baha’i World Centre)

At the hour of dawn on May 29th in 1892, Baha’u’llah, “transcendental in His majesty, serene, awe-inspiring, unapproachably glorious”, passed away in the Mansion of Bahji in what is present-day northern Israel. Shoghi Effendi describes the events that followed in God Passes By:

The news of His ascension was instantly communicated to Sultan Abdu’l-Hamid in a telegram which began with the words ‘the Sun of Baha has set’ and in which the monarch was advised of the intention of interring the sacred remains within the precincts of the Mansion, an arrangement to which he readily assented. Baha’u’llah was accordingly laid to rest in the northernmost room of the house which served as a dwelling-place for His son-in-law, the most northerly of the three houses lying to the west of, and adjacent to, the Mansion. His interment took place shortly after sunset, on the very day of His ascension.

With His burial, the home of His son-in-law became the most precious spot, the holiest of places, for Baha’is all around the world – a place to which we turn to daily when we recite our obligatory prayers and which we aspire to visit as a pilgrim at least once in our lifetimes. Continue reading

Who Are the Knights of Baha’u’llah?

Who were the Knights of Baha'u'llahWhen you hear the title ‘Knight’, different connotations come to mind. Historically speaking, a medieval knight was known for their steadfast honor, their allegiance to God, and their loyalty to their lords and ladies. Their lives were dedicated to religious faith and military action – for example, in the Middle Ages they set out to conquer the Holy Land in the name of Christendom. Shoghi Effendi did not choose his words lightly, and hence the title “Knight of Baha’u’llah” authored by Shoghi Effendi, was a title that was bestowed on those selfless souls who opened 131 specific virgin territories to the Faith during what was known as the Ten Year Crusade.

Even as a child with little knowledge of the development of the Baha’i Faith, the title of “Knight of Baha’u’llah” was connotative to me of the qualities of medieval knights, of spiritual battles and sacrificial heroism. This knightly demeanor is masterfully called for by Shoghi Effendi in a cablegram to the Baha’is of the world sent in 1952 in preparation for the coming Ten Year Crusade which took place between 1953-1963, and which I explain in a little more detail further on. Continue reading

Remembering the Ascension of Baha’u’llah

Every year Baha’is gather to commemorate the Ascension of Baha’u’llah on 13 Azamat according to the Baha’i calendarCustomarily (although this is not a requirement), at 3 in the morning, following an evening of prayer and reflection,  Baha’is stand and face Qiblih as one from amongst them reads the Tablet of Visitation.

It was early in the morning of May 29, 1892 (five minutes past 3, to be precise) that Baha’u’llah passed away in the mansion of Bahji outside Akka (present-day northern Israel), after a brief illness. Following His death, a vast number of mourners from all walks of life and religions, grieved with Baha’u’llah’s family and followers.

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Reflections on the Ascension of Baha’u’llah

On May 29, 1892, shortly before dawn began to break, Baha’u’llah passed on from this mortal life and His spirit was finally “released from the toils of a life crowded with tribulations.”[i] He was surrounded only by family members and a small but loyal band of followers. His body was laid to rest, reverently and without any extravagant ceremony, in one of the buildings of the property in Bahji, outside of Akka, Israel, where He had spent the last twelve years of His life. He died a prisoner, a captive of one of the many governments that had persecuted Him for the past forty years and exiled Him from Tehran to Baghdad to Constanstinople to Adrianople to Akka and finally to Bahji. In fact, of the countless themes which run through Baha’u’llah’s Writings, his imprisonment and suffering is one of the most recurring:  Continue reading

Stories of Baha’u’llah – The Dream

“Stories of Baha’u’llah” is a series of short videos produced by Clark Donnelly and Mary Darling of Westwind Pictures. You may have already seen their work, such as The Baha’is, or Tablets of the Divine Plan. In each video in this sweet and sincere series, a child tells us a story about Baha’u’llah.

This particular video is called “The Dream”, and it recounts the dream Baha’u’llah’s father had of a sea filled with light and the fishes that clung to Baha’u’llah’s long black hair.  Continue reading

Stories of Baha’u’llah – Oneness

“Stories of Baha’u’llah” is a series of short videos produced by Clark Donnelly and Mary Darling of Westwind Pictures. You may have already seen their work, such as The Baha’is, or Tablets of the Divine Plan. In each video in this sweet and sincere series, a child tells us a story about Baha’u’llah.

This particular video is called “Oneness”, we are presented with what oneness means in the Baha’i Faith and why it is so important.  Continue reading

Stories of Baha’u’llah – Generous Heart

“Stories of Baha’u’llah” is a series of short videos produced by Clark Donnelly and Mary Darling of Westwind Pictures. You may have already seen their work, such as The Baha’is, or Tablets of the Divine Plan. In each video in this sweet and sincere series, a child tells us a story about Baha’u’llah.

This particular video is called “Generous Heart” and we learn about how magnanimously selfless Baha’u’llah was in His generosity.  Continue reading

Stories of Baha’u’llah – Purity of Heart

“Stories of Baha’u’llah” is a series of short videos produced by Clark Donnelly and Mary Darling of Westwind Pictures. You may have already seen their work, such as The Baha’is, or Tablets of the Divine Plan. In each video in this sweet and sincere series, a child tells us a story about Baha’u’llah.

This particular video is called “Purity of Heart” and we hear about an early Baha’i who sent Baha’u’llah a letter that had nothing written on it.  Continue reading