Celebrating the upcoming bicentenary of Bahá’u’lláh’s Birth: 1817-2017

- - an introduction to the life & ministry of Bahá’u’lláh, the Prophet founder of the Bahá’í Faith

Special Features

November 4, 2016

The news of Bahá’u’lláh’s immediate response to the Divine Message, to the vigorous campaign which He had boldly initiated in Núr, and to the marvellous success which had attended His efforts, cheered and gladdened the Báb.

Mullá Husayn, as soon as he had won to the Cause such able and devoted supporters, decided to address a written report concerning his activities to the Báb. In his communication he referred at length to his sojourn in Isfáhán and Káshán, described the account of his experience with Bahá’u’lláh, referred to the departure of the latter for Mázindarán, related the events of Núr, and informed Him of the success which had attended his own efforts in Khurásán. In it he enclosed a list of the names of those who had responded to his call, and of whose steadfastness and sincerity he was assured. He sent his letter by way of Yazd, through the trustworthy partners of the Báb’s maternal uncle who were at that time residing in Tabas. That letter reached the Báb on the night preceding the twenty-seventh day of Ramadán, [1] a night held in great reverence by all the sects of Islám and regarded by many as rivalling in sacredness the Laylatu’l-Qadr [2] itself, the night which, in the words of the Qur’án, “excelleth a thousand months.”  The only companion of the Báb, when that letter reached Him that night, was Quddús, with whom He shared a number of its passages.

I have heard Mírzá Ahmad relate the following: “The Báb’s maternal uncle himself described to me the circumstances attending the receipt of Mullá Husayn’s letter by the Báb: ‘That night I saw such evidences of joy and gladness on the faces of the Báb and of Quddús as I am unable to describe. I often heard the Báb, in those days, exultingly repeat the words, “How marvellous, how exceedingly marvellous, is that which has occurred between the months of Jamádi and Rajab!” As He was reading the communication addressed to Him by Mullá Husayn, He turned to Quddús and, showing him certain passages of that letter, explained the reason for His joyous expressions of surprise. I, for my part, remained completely unaware of the nature of that explanation.’”

October 27, 2016

Bahá’u’lláh comments on His days in Nur and the receptivity of its people to the New Message…

God knows that at no time did We attempt to conceal Ourself or hide the Cause which We have been bidden to proclaim. Though not wearing the garb of the people of learning, We have again and again faced and reasoned with men of great scholarship in both Núr and Mázindarán, and have succeeded in persuading them of the truth of this Revelation. We never flinched in Our determination; We never hesitated to accept the challenge from whatever direction it came. To whomsoever We spoke in those days, We found him receptive to our Call and ready to identify himself with its precepts. But for the shameful behaviour of the people of Bayán, who sullied by their deeds the work We had accomplished, Núr and Mázindarán would have been entirely won to this Cause and would have been accounted by this time among its leading strongholds. 
- Bahá’u’lláh   (Words of Bahá’u’lláh  to some pilgrims and a few resident believers who were admitted into His presence on January 8, 1889, quoted by Nabil in the ‘Dawn-Breakers, translated and edited by Shoghi Effendi)

October 22, 2016

The province of Mázindarán and the district of Núr in particular become the first to eagerly embrace the Divine Message of the Báb

Bahá’u’lláh’s visit to Núr had produced the most far-reaching results, and had lent a remarkable impetus to the spread of the new-born Revelation. By His magnetic eloquence, by the purity of His life, by the dignity of His bearing, by the unanswerable logic of His argument, and by the many evidences of His loving-kindness, Bahá’u’lláh had won the hearts of the people of Núr, had stirred their souls, and had enrolled them under the standard of the Faith. Such was the effect of words and deeds, as He went about preaching the Cause and revealing its glory to His countrymen in Núr, that the very stones and trees of that district seemed to have been quickened by the waves of spiritual power which emanated from His person. All things seemed to be endowed with a new and more abundant life, all things seemed to be proclaiming aloud: “Behold, the Beauty of God has been made manifest! Arise, for He has come in all His glory.” The people of Núr, when Bahá’u’lláh had departed from out their midst, continued to propagate the Cause and to consolidate its foundations. A number of them endured the severest afflictions for His sake; others quaffed with gladness the cup of martyrdom in His path. Mázindarán in general, and Núr in particular, were thus distinguished from the other provinces and districts of Persia, as being the first to have eagerly embraced the Divine Message. The district of Núr, literally meaning “light,” which lay embedded within the mountains of Mázindarán, was the first to catch the rays of the Sun that had arisen in Shíráz, the first to proclaim to the rest of Persia, which still lay enveloped in the shadow of the vale of heedlessness, that the Day-Star of heavenly guidance had at length arisen to warm and illuminate the whole land. 
- Nabil  (‘The Dawn-Breakers’, translated and edited by Shoghi Effendi)

October 18, 2016

A young dervish recognizes Bahá’u’lláh’s station in 1844

While Bahá’u’lláh was spreading the Divine Message of the Báb in the district of Nur in northern Iran in 1844, an amazing incident took place which Nabil recorded:

One day, in the course of one of His riding excursions into the country, Bahá’u’lláh, accompanied by His companions, saw, seated by the roadside, a lonely youth. His hair was dishevelled, and he wore the dress of a dervish. [1] By the side of a brook he had kindled a fire, and was cooking his food and eating it. Approaching him, Bahá’u’lláh most lovingly enquired: “Tell Me, dervish, what is it that you are doing?” “I am engaged in eating God,” he bluntly replied. “I am cooking God and am burning Him.” The unaffected simplicity of his manners and the candour of his reply pleased Bahá’u’lláh extremely. He smiled at his remark and began to converse with him with unrestrained tenderness and freedom. Within a short space of time, Bahá’u’lláh had changed him completely. Enlightened as to the true nature of God, and with a mind purged from the idle fancy of his own people, he immediately recognised the Light which that loving Stranger had so unexpectedly brought him. That dervish, whose name was Mustafá, became so enamoured with the teachings which had been instilled into his mind that, leaving his cooking utensils behind, he straightway arose and followed Bahá’u’lláh. On foot, behind His horse, and inflamed with the fire of His love, he chanted merrily verses of a love-song which he had composed on the spur of the moment and had dedicated to his Beloved. “Thou art the Day-Star of guidance,” ran its glad refrain. “Thou art the Light of Truth. Unveil Thyself to men, O Revealer of the Truth.” Although, in later years, that poem obtained wide circulation among his people, and it became known that a certain dervish, surnamed Majdhúb, and whose name was Mustafá Big-i-Sanandají, had, without premeditation, composed it in praise of his Beloved, none seemed to be aware to whom it actually referred, nor did anyone suspect, at a time when Bahá’u’lláh was still veiled from the eyes of men, that this dervish alone had recognised His station and discovered His glory. 
- Nabil  (‘The Dawn-Breakers’, translated and edited by Shoghi Effendi)
[1] Poor one, Religious mendicant, Islamic mystic

October 13, 2016

Bahá’u’lláh paid a visit to the chief divine of Nur “to enlighten… [him] regarding a new and wondrous Message, divinely inspired…”

…Bahá’u’lláh, accompanied by a number of His companions, proceeded immediately to the village of Mullá Muhammad, the chief divine of Nur, whose two trusted envoys had already become followers of Bahá’u’lláh. Mullá Muhammad most ceremoniously received Him. “I have not come to this place,” Bahá’u’lláh observed, “to pay you an official or formal visit. My purpose is to enlighten you regarding a new and wondrous Message, divinely inspired and fulfilling the promise given to Islám. Whosoever has inclined his ear to this Message has felt its irresistible power, and has been transformed by the potency of its grace. Tell Me whatsoever perplexes your mind, or hinders you from recognising the Truth.”

Mullá Muhammad disparagingly remarked: “I undertake no action unless I first consult the Qur’án. I have invariably, on such occasions, followed the practice of invoking the aid of God and His blessings; of opening at random His sacred Book, and of consulting the first verse of the particular page upon which my eyes chance to fall. From the nature of that verse I can judge the wisdom and the advisability of my contemplated course of action.” Finding that Bahá’u’lláh was not inclined to refuse him his request, the mujtahid called for a copy of the Qur’án, opened and closed it again, refusing to reveal the nature of the verse to those who were present. All he said was this: “I have consulted the Book of God, and deem it inadvisable to proceed further with this matter.” A few agreed with him; the rest, for the most part, did not fail to recognise the fear which those words implied. Bahá’u’lláh, disinclined to cause him further embarrassment, arose and, asking to be excused, bade him a cordial farewell. 
(Adapted from ‘The Dawn-Breakers’, by Nabil, translated and edited by Shoghi Effendi)

October 8, 2016

Village of Afchih

Afchih in Lavasan district, an orchard village, property of Baha’u’llah’s father. It is located at the end of the mountain track of Nur Valley and Takur. Riders came down the valley at upper right, passing through the village en route to Tehran 40 miles southwest. (Adapted from ‘Robe of Light’, by David Ruhe)

October 2, 2016

The chief divine of Nur sent two trusted envoys to challenge Bahá’u’lláh

Mulla Muhammad, the chief divine of the district of Nur asked his two trusted sons-in-law, Mulla 'Abbas and Mirza Abu'l-Qasim to meet Baha’u’llah and determine the true character of the Message that He had brought. He pledged his unreserved endorsement of whatever conclusions they might reach.

On being informed, upon their arrival in Tákúr, that Bahá’u’lláh had departed for His winter resort in Darkala, the representatives of Mullá Muhammad decided to leave for that place. Darkala is located north of Takur, closer to the Caspian Sea. It has a milder, rainy weather. Baha’u’llah’s father had a winter house in Darkala for the use of his extended family who didn’t live in Tehran. The two envoys had to travel over the mountains to get to their destination.

September 27, 2016

Mirza Músá – Bahá’u’lláh’s faithful brother

Surnamed Aqay-i-Kalim, he was a younger brother of Bahá’u’lláh who remained devoted and faithful to Baha'u'llah and served Him to the end of his life. After the Martyrdom of the Báb, Mirza Músá, at Bahá’u’lláh's instructions, hid the casket containing the remains of the Báb in the Shrine of Imam-Zadih Hasan in Tihran. Mirza Músá accompanied Bahá’u’lláh into exile and often served as His deputy in meeting with government officials and religious leaders, until 'Abdu'l-Baha took on this function. Shoghi Effendi designated him one of the Nineteen Apostles of Bahá’u’lláh. Mirza Músá died in 'Akka in 1887. 
- Wendy Momen  ('A Basic Baha'i Dicionary') 

September 24, 2016

Bahá’u’lláh’s amazing success in the district of Nur alarmed His uncle

To inquiries from Nuri notables about affairs of the court, Bahá’u’lláh turned disinterested answers, instead converting the questions into opportunities to present the Bábi Message in terms befitting each inquirer, while persuasively pointing to the immeasurable benefits which the new Faith would bestow upon them and upon Iran. That a young nobleman should be deeply concerned with religious matters was startling enough, but how surprising that no mulla was able successfully to challenge His theses, so ably did He expound the ideas of the new Cause. The Nuris were also compelled to reluctant admiration at his zeal but also at his self-effacement despite the depth of the thoughts presented with such verve.

Among the first converts of His salutary expositions of the Cause of the Báb were Mirza Muhammad Hasan, His half-brother, and also Muhammad-Taqi Khan, a close relative. But His uncle Mirza 'Azizu’llah fiercely opposed these heretical new views; traveling to the village of Sa'adat-Abad, he personally appealed for immediate intervention against his Nephew by Mulla Muhammad, the chief divine of the Nur district, saying:

'O vicegerent of the Prophet of God! Behold what has befallen the Faith. A youth, a layman, attired in the garb of nobility, has come to Nur, has invaded the strongholds of orthodoxy, and disrupted the holy Faith of Islam ... Whoever attains his presence falls immediately under his spell, and is enthralled by the power of his utterance. I know not whether he is a sorcerer, or whether he mixes with his tea some mysterious substance that makes every man who drinks the tea fall a victim to its charm.' (The Dawn-Breakers)

September 20, 2016

Some of the places associated with the early years of Bahá’u’lláh's life

Map of northern Iran, showing Mazindaran, Tihran, and some of the places associated with the early years of Bahá’u’lláh's life. 
(Balyuzi, 'Bahá’u’lláh, The King of Glory')

September 18, 2016

Bahá’u’lláh’s first journey for the Báb

The first journey Bahá’u’lláh undertook for the purpose of promoting the Revelation announced by the Báb was to His ancestral home in Núr, in the province of Mázindarán. He set out for the village of Tákúr, the personal estate of His father, where He owned a vast mansion, royally furnished and superbly situated… Bahá’u’lláh had already, prior to the declaration of the Báb, visited the district of Núr, at a time when the celebrated mujtahid Mírzá Muhammad Taqíy-i-Núrí was at the height of his authority and influence. Such was the eminence of his position, that they who sat at his feet regarded themselves each as the authorised exponent of the Faith and Law of Islám…

When, in the year ’60, Bahá’u’lláh arrived in Núr, He discovered that the celebrated mujtahid who on His previous visit had wielded such immense power had passed away. The vast number of his devotees had shrunk into a mere handful of dejected disciples who, under the leadership of his successor, Mullá Muammad, were striving to uphold the traditions of their departed leader. The enthusiasm which greeted Bahá’u’lláh’s arrival sharply contrasted with the gloom that had settled upon the remnants of that once flourishing community. A large number of the officials and notables in that neighbourhood called upon Him and, with every mark of affection and respect, accorded Him a befitting welcome. They were eager, in view of the social position He occupied, to learn from Him all the news regarding the life of the Sháh, the activities of his ministers, and the affairs of his government. To their enquiries Bahá’u’lláh replied with extreme indifference, and seemed to reveal very little interest or concern. With persuasive eloquence He pleaded the cause of the new Revelation, and directed their attention to the immeasurable benefits which it was destined to confer upon their country.  Those who heard Him marvelled at the keen interest which a man of His position and age evinced for truths which primarily concerned the divines and theologians of Islám. They felt powerless to challenge the soundness of His arguments or to belittle the Cause which He so ably expounded. They admired the loftiness of His enthusiasm and the profundity of His thoughts, and were deeply impressed by His detachment and self-effacement. 
- Nabil  (‘The Dawn-Breakers’, translated and edited by Shoghi Effendi)

September 15, 2016

Bahá’u’lláh acknowledges that the Báb is “the Primal Point, through Whom the point of creation hath been made to revolve in both the visible and invisible worlds…”

Do Thou bless, O Lord my God, the Primal Point, through Whom the point of creation hath been made to revolve in both the visible and invisible worlds, Whom Thou hast designated as the One whereunto should return whatsoever must return unto Thee, and as the Revealer of whatsoever may be manifested by Thee. Do Thou also bless such of His Letters as have not turned away from Thee, who have been firmly established in Thy love, and clung steadfastly to Thy good-pleasure. Bless Thou, likewise, as long as Thine own Self endureth and Thine own Essence doth last, them that have suffered martyrdom in Thy path. Thou art, verily, the Ever-Forgiving, the Most Merciful.

Moreover, I beseech Thee, O my God, by Him Whom Thou hast announced unto us in all Thy Tablets and Thy Books and Thy Scrolls and Thy Scriptures, through Whom the kingdom of names hath been convulsed, and all that lay hid in the breasts of them that have followed their evil and corrupt desires hath been revealed, -- I beseech Thee to strengthen us in our love for Him, to make us steadfast in His Cause, to help us befriend His loved ones and challenge His enemies. Shield us, then, O my God, from the mischief wrought by them that have denied Thy presence, and turned away from Thy face, and resolved to put an end to the life of Him Who is the Manifestation of Thine own Self.
- Bahá’u’lláh  (‘Prayers and Meditations by Bahá’u’lláh’)

September 10, 2016

Northern Persia: A Summer Interlude Place for Bahá'u'lláh's Family

Murgh-Mahallih, the 'abode of the birds' in Shimran district, place of a summer interlude of the young family of Bahá'u'lláh.

September 5, 2016

Bahá'u'lláh arose to promote the Cause of the Báb

He [Baha’u’llah] was in the heyday of His life when the call from Shiraz reached Him. At the age of twenty-seven, He arose to consecrate His life to its service, fearlessly identified Himself with its teachings, and distinguished Himself by the exemplary part He played in its diffusion. No effort was too great for the energy with which He was endowed, and no sacrifice too woeful for the devotion with which His faith had inspired Him. He flung aside every consideration of fame, of wealth, and position, for the prosecution of the task He had set His heart to achieve. Neither the taunts of His friends nor the threats of His enemies could induce Him to cease championing a Cause which they alike regarded as that of an obscure and proscribed sect. 
(‘The Dawn-Breakers’)

August 30, 2016

Bahá'u'lláh acknowledges that the Báb is “the Primal Point, the Divine Mystery, the Unseen Essence, the Day-Spring of Divinity”, and the “Manifestation” of God’s “Lordship”

Magnify Thou, O Lord my God, Him Who is the Primal Point, the Divine Mystery, the Unseen Essence, the Day-Spring of Divinity, and the Manifestation of Thy Lordship, through Whom all the knowledge of the past and all the knowledge of the future were made plain, through Whom the pearls of Thy hidden wisdom were uncovered, and the mystery of Thy treasured name disclosed, Whom Thou hast appointed as the Announcer of the One through Whose name the letter B and the letter E have been joined and united, through Whom Thy majesty, Thy sovereignty and Thy might were made known, through Whom Thy words have been sent down, and Thy laws set forth with clearness, and Thy signs spread abroad, and Thy Word established, through Whom the hearts of Thy chosen ones were laid bare, and all that were in the heavens and all that were on the earth were gathered together, Whom Thou hast called Ali-Muhammad in the kingdom of Thy names, and the Spirit of Spirits in the Tablets of Thine irrevocable decree, Whom Thou hast invested with Thine own title, unto Whose name all other names have, at Thy bidding and through the power of Thy might, been made to return, and in Whom Thou hast caused all Thine attributes and titles to attain their final consummation. To Him also belong such names as lay hid within Thy stainless tabernacles, in Thine invisible world and Thy sanctified cities.

August 27, 2016

Impact on the family in Tehran

The house of Nuri relatives in Tehran must have buzzed with the realization of the dramatic injection into their family of a potent new religious message now supported by the family leader and genius. Not surprising then that a half-brother, Mirza Yahya, fourteen at that moment of Mulla Husayn's mission, should also have become a Bábi, following the lead of his older half-brothers. This youth had been taken under the special tutorship of Bahá'u'lláh, becoming His ward upon the early passing of his mother Kuchik, and already had been under His brother's instruction from his early years. He was grave, silent, courteous, modest, a solitary who was fond of the poems of the mystics and was later termed 'an amiable child ' by an older Babi. And perhaps there were even then others of the family also willing quietly to follow the dangerous, unconservative Bábi ideas which were sure to lead to trouble with the mullas. Ultimately, in addition to Mirza Musa, three other brothers and several sisters espoused the new Faith. 
(Adapted from ‘Robe of Light, vol. 1’, by David Ruhe)

August 25, 2016

Bahá'u'lláh acknowledges that the Báb “hath been sent down by the Will of the one true God”

We, verily, believe in Him Who, in the person of the Báb, hath been sent down by the Will of the one true God, the King of Kings, the All-Praised. We, moreover, swear fealty to the One Who, in the time of Mustaghath, [1] is destined to be made manifest, as well as to those Who shall come after Him till the end that hath no end. We recognize in the manifestation of each one of them, whether outwardly or inwardly, the manifestation of none but God Himself, if ye be of those that comprehend. Every one of them is a mirror of God, reflecting naught else but His Self, His Beauty, His Might and Glory, if ye will understand. All else besides them are to be regarded as mirrors capable of reflecting the glory of these Manifestations Who are themselves the Primary Mirrors of the Divine Being, if ye be not devoid of understanding. No one hath ever escaped them, neither are they to be hindered from achieving their purpose. These Mirrors will everlastingly succeed each other, and will continue to reflect the light of the Ancient of Days. They that reflect their glory will, in like manner, continue to exist for evermore, for the Grace of God can never cease from flowing. This is a truth that none can disprove. 
- Baha'u'llah  (‘Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah’)
[1] Literally, He Who is Invoked for Help. A term the Báb used to refer to the advent of the Promised One (Baha’u’llah) (Footnote in ‘Call to Remembrance, p. 23)

August 17, 2016

Bahá'u'lláh instantly accepts the Báb’s spiritual authority

Bahá'u'lláh’s brother, Mirza Musa and Mulla Husayn’s messenger were both enraptured by listening to the sound of Bahá'u'lláh’s voice and the sweetness of its melodies as He recited a single section of the scroll that was presented to Him – a scroll from the Báb containing some passages from of the Báb’s Writings, the Qayyumu’l-Asma. They were startled when heard Him say to His brother:

“Musa, what have you to say? Verily I say whoso believes in the Qur’an and recognizes its divine origin, and yet hesitates, though it be fora moment, to admit that these soul-stirring words are endowed with the same regenerating power, has most assuredly erred in his judgment and strayed far from the path of justice” (‘The Dawn-Breakers’)

To that scroll fragment of the Qayyumu’l-Asma the hypersensitive Mirza Husayn-'Ali [Bahá'u'lláh] had responded as a chord plucked by the Divine Harpist. Cursorily acquainted as he probably was with the preparatory doctrines of Shaykh Ahmad and Siyyid Kazimim, His immediate recognition of the Bab's spiritual authority aligned Him with the new Cause. It was as though He were always a Bábi, so ready of spirit was He. Indeed, His inherent readiness for the new Truth assured instant recognition of the Báb, and thus He became another primary Disciple of the new High Prophet. In that moment, too, He began His own Mission from God.

Bahá'u'lláh’s perceptive brother Musa, also upon hearing the reading of a single long passage, almost simultaneously identified with this newborn Truth. 
(Adapted from ‘Robe of Light, vol. 1’, by David Ruhe)

August 12, 2016

The Báb’s messenger finds Bahá'u'lláh in Tihran and delivers the Message

In accordance with the Báb’s singular instructions of great promise, and carrying precious scrolls, Mulla Husayn set off on this first mission for his Master with his characteristically high spirit and persuasiveness, seeking out the Shaykhis en route. Isfahan, Kashan and Qum were essentially obdurate: in Isfahan he found only a youth, a sifter of wheat, and some five others destined for great service in the new Cause; in Kashan a single to-be-distinguished convert; in fanatical Qum none. But there was much planting of seeds along his route through his challenging words on the new Teachings.

Arriving in Tihran in late July or early August to discover the “Mystery of transcendent holiness” that the Báb had promised him, Mulla Husayn settled into a room in a religious college not far from the Shimiran Gate where Baha’u’llah’s rented house was located. There Haji Mirza Muhammad of Khurasan, leader of the Shaykhis of Teheran, welcomed his distinguished associate, but was skeptical of the new Teachings which contained such disturbingly convincing contents and were presented so vehemently. He even went so far as to rebuke Mulla Husayn for his failure to fortify the Shaykhi community in its doctrines. But to a young Shaykhi, a favored disciple of the leader and a priest-tutor, Mulla Muhammad Mu'allim [teacher] of Nur district, fell the signal honor of becoming the courier of Mulla Husayn.

The youth's room in the college was adjacent to that of his master, and he overheard the equivocal conversation with Mulla Husayn. Impressed by the great powers and passion of the visitor, he felt keenly the unsatisfactory behavior and cautious attitude of his master; moreover, he was attracted by Mulla Husayn’s vibrant personality. Awaiting an opportunity for private discussion, he knocked on Mulla Husayn's door that midnight, found him awake and seated beside his lamp. He was welcomed with such heartfelt warmth that he was impelled to discharge his strong feelings.