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

July 29, 2016

1844: A New Manifestation of God in Persia

In 1844, when Bahá'u'lláh had almost reached the age of 27, a new Messenger of God (Manifestation of God) by the name of the Báb (the Gate) declared His Mission to humanity in Shiraz, Persia. The Báb announced that He was the Gate and Forerunner to an even greater revelation, Whose advent was close at hand, by Whose will He moved, and in Whose path He longed to sacrifice His life. He also announced that He was the Qa'im - the Messenger of God promised in the Qur’an Who would usher in a new age of righteousness. In the late summer of that year Bahá'u'lláh received the news of the Báb’s Declaration through Mulla Husayn - the Báb’s very first disciple. 
(Adapted from ‘Call to Remembrance’, by Geoffry Marks)

July 26, 2016

Bahá'u'lláh took responsibility over His father’s large family

Shortly before Bahá'u'lláh’s father passed away he was forced to go through an exceptionally unfair treatment due to the machinations of Mirza Aqasi, the Prime Minister, during which time he basically lost all of his wealth in the capital city Tihran. Mirza Buzurg also had the added misfortune of losing the better part of the palatial mansion which he had built and richly furnished in the village of Takur, by the descent of floods upon the town. As a result of all these Bahá'u'lláh’s father had moved in with his third wife in a house that she had inherited from her father close to the entrance of Masjid-i-Shah in Tihran. Baha’u’llah, on the other hand, rented the house 'near the Gate' of Shimran, and took His mother, His wife, His other step-mothers and the rest of His brothers and sisters to live with Him. This rented house remained His residence for the remaining years He spent in Iran. It was near the Madrisiy-i-Mirza Salih, the theological college where Mulla Husayn would stay when bearing the message of the Báb to Tihran. The children of Bahá'u'lláh and Asiyih Khanum - 'Abdu'l-Bahá (the Most Great Branch), Bahá'íyyih Khanum (the Greatest Holy Leaf) and Mirza Mihdi (the Purest Branch) - were all born in this rented house. 
(Adapted from ‘Bahá'u'lláh the King of Glory’, by H.M. Balyuzi)

July 20, 2016

After the death of Bahá'u'lláh’s father the Prime Minister of Persia schemed ways to possess a village that belonged to the family of Baha’u’llah

After the death of the Vazir [Mirza Buzurg], Haji Mirza Aqasi [the Persian Prime Minister] continued to show the utmost consideration to Bahá'u'lláh. He would visit Him in His home, and would address Him as though He were his own son. The sincerity of his devotion, however, was very soon put to the test. One day, as he was passing through the village of Quch-Hisar, which belonged to Bahá'u'lláh, he was so impressed by the charm and beauty of that place and the abundance of its water that he conceived the idea of becoming its owner. Bahá'u'lláh, Whom he had summoned to effect the immediate purchase of that village, observed: 'Had this property been exclusively my own, I would willingly have complied with your desire. This transitory life, with all its sordid possessions, is worthy of no attachment in my eyes, how much less this small and insignificant estate. As a number of other people, both rich and poor, some of full age and some still minors, share with me the ownership of this property, I would request you to refer this matter to them, and to seek their consent.'

Unsatisfied with this reply, Haji Mirza Aqasi sought to achieve his ends through fraudulent means. As soon as Bahá'u'lláh was informed of his evil designs, He, with the consent of all concerned, immediately transferred the title of the property to the name of the sister of Muhammad Shah, who had repeatedly expressed the desire to become its owner. The Haji, furious at this transaction, ordered that the estate should be forcibly seized, claiming that he already had purchased it from its original possessor. The representatives of Haji Mirza Aqasi were severely rebuked by the agents of the sister of the Shah, and were requested to inform their master of the determination of that lady to assert her rights. The Haji referred the case to Muhammad Shah, and complained of the unjust treatment to which he had been subjected. 

July 16, 2016

Families of Bahá'u'lláh and Ásiyih Khanum possessed great wealth – their daughter recalls

I remember dimly very happy days with my beloved father and mother, and my brother 'Abbas, who was two years my senior.

My father was Mirza Husayn-'Ali of Nur, [Bahá'u'lláh] who married my beautiful mother, Ásiyih Khanum, when she was very young. She was the only daughter of a Persian Vizier, of high degree, Mirza Isma'il. He, as well as Mirza 'Abbas Buzurg, my paternal grandfather, possessed great wealth.

When the brother of my mother married my father's sister, the double alliance of the two noble families roused much interest throughout the land. "It is adding wealth to wealth," the people said. Ásiyih Khanum's wedding treasures were extensive, in accordance with the usual custom in families of their standing; forty mules were loaded with her possessions when she came to her husband's home.

For six months before the marriage a jeweller worked at her home, preparing jewellry -- even the buttons of her garments were of gold, set with precious stones. (These buttons were destined to be exchanged for bread, on the terrible exile journey from Tihran to Baghdad.) 
- Bahiyyih Khanum  ([Bahá'u'lláh’s daughter] quoted by Lady Blomfield in ‘The Chosen Highway’)

July 12, 2016

Ásiyih Khanum: Bahá'u'lláh’s wife – their daughter recalls many years later

I wish you could have seen her as I first remember her, tall, slender, graceful, eyes of dark blue -- a pearl, a flower amongst women.

I have been told that even when very young, her wisdom and intelligence were remarkable. I always think of her in those earliest days of my memory as queenly in her dignity and loveliness, full of consideration for everybody, gentle, of a marvelous unselfishness, no action of hers ever failed to show the loving-kindness of her pure heart; her very presence seemed to make an atmosphere of love and happiness wherever she came, enfolding all comers in the fragrance of gentle courtesy. 
- Bahiyyih Khanum  (Quoted by Lady Blomfield in ‘The Chosen Highway’)

July 10, 2016

Baha’u’llah sought neither government position nor prominence and gave abundantly to the poor

He was most generous, giving abundantly to the poor. None who came to Him were turned away. The doors of His house were open to all. He always had many guests. This unbounded generosity was conducive to greater astonishment from the fact that He sought neither position nor prominence. In commenting upon this His friends said He would become impoverished, for His expenses were many and His wealth becoming more and more limited. "Why is he not thinking of his own affairs?" they inquired of each other; but some who were wise declared, "This personage is connected with another world; he has something sublime within him that is not evident now; the day is coming when it will be manifested." In truth, the Blessed Perfection was a refuge for every weak one, a shelter for every fearing one, kind to every indigent one, lenient and loving to all creatures.
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (From a talk, 18 April 1912; ‘The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by 'Abdu'l-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912’)

July 8, 2016

1839: Bahá'u'lláh’s father passed away when He was twenty-two years old

When Bahá'u'lláh was twenty-two years old, His father died, and the Government wished Him to succeed to His father's position in the Ministry, as was customary in Persia, but Bahá'u'lláh did not accept the offer. Then the Prime Minister said ‘Leave him to himself. Such a position is unworthy of him. He has some higher aim in view. I cannot understand him, but I am convinced that he is destined for some lofty career. His thoughts are not like ours. Let him alone.’
- 'Abdu'l-Baha  (Quoted by Esslemont in ‘Bahá'u'lláh and New Era’)

July 5, 2016

Bahá'u'lláh’s father experienced extreme difficulties towards the concluding years of his life

About the time of Bahá'u'lláh’s marriage, His father, Mirza Buzurg, fell upon hard times. A year earlier, the King of Persia, Fath-'Ali Shah had died and been succeeded by his grandson, Muhammad Shah. Muhammad Shah’s Prime Minister, Haji Mirza Aqasi, was a vain and vengeful man whose later outrages against the Bab caused Shoghi Effendi to denounce him as "the Antichrist of the Babi Revelation." When Haji Mirza Aqasi learned that Mirza Buzurg was horrified at the Haji's role in murdering his predecessor, he retaliated by stripping Mirza Buzurg of his governorships, cutting off his annual allowance, and engineering his divorce from Fath-‘Ali Shda's daughter, whom he had married a few years earlier. Thus, in addition to losing his income, Mirza Buzurg faced a costly divorce settlement. When his ex-wife sent thugs who beat him daily in an effort to extract the money, he was forced to sell his complex of homes in Tihran and many valuable furnishings hurriedly and at a very low price. A few years later he passed away. Despite Haji Mirza Aqasi's antagonism toward Mirza Buzurg, he held Bahá'u'lláh in high regard, extended to Him every consideration, and spoke to Him as if He were his own son. 
- Geoffry Marks  (‘Call to Remembrance’)

June 25, 2016

1835: Bahá'u'lláh’s Marriage with Asiyih Khanum

In about October 1835, at the age of eighteen, Bahá'u'lláh married Asiyih Khanum, described as remarkably intelligent, winsome, vivacious, and exceedingly beautiful. She was the younger sister of Bahá'u'lláh’s brother-in-law, who had married His older sister Sarih Khanum about three years earlier. Asiyih Khanum, like Bahá'u'lláh, came from a noble and wealthy family. It is reported that her wedding treasures were so extensive that forty mules were needed to carry them to His home.

In the early years of their married life Bahá'u'lláh and Asiyih Khanum devoted themselves to charitable activities. Their daughter, Bahiyyih Khanum, recounts that they "took part as little as possible in State functions, social ceremonies, and the luxurious habits of ordinary highly-placed and wealthy families in the land of Persia." They "counted these worldly pleasures meaningless, and preferred rather to occupy themselves in caring for the poor, and for all who were unhappy, or in trouble." Their acts of service earned them widespread renown as "The Father of the Poor" and "The Mother of Consolation." 
(Adapted from ‘Call to Remembrance’, by Geoffry Marks, ‘Bahá'u'lláh – A Short Biography’, by Moojan Momen)

June 18, 2016

An example of how Bahá'u'lláh during His younger years chastised a famous religous leader for showing disrespect towards Christ

Mirza Abu'l-Fadl, a famous Baha’i scholar, relates in one of his works what he himself heard from a divine. 

In a gathering where Bahá'u'lláh was present a famous high-ranking Sufi religious leader who was highly esteemed by Muhammad Shah, was holding forth on the station that a human being can attain. Referring to himself, he said, 'Should my servant come to me and say that Jesus the Christ was at the door, asking for me, my detachment is such that I would express no wish to see Him.' Some of those present kept silent, while others out of flattery murmured assent. Only Bahá'u'lláh spoke up. He turned to the boastful divine who had expressed such disrespect for a Manifestation of God, and said: 'You are very close to the person of the sovereign and he is very devoted to you, but if the chief executioner with ten of his men were to come to this door and tell you that the monarch wanted to see you, would you take it calmly or would you be perturbed?' The arrogant religious leader paused for a while before replying, 'In truth, I would feel anxious.' 'In that case,' said Bahá'u'lláh, 'you should not make such an assertion.' 

Bahá'u'lláh's authoritative statement, according to Mirza Abu'l-Fadl, left them all speechless. 
(Adapted from “Baha’u’llah, the King of Glory’, by H.M. Balyuzi)

June 14, 2016

A mujtahid’s dream about Bahá'u'lláh during His youthful years – recalled by ‘Abdu’l-Baha

'Abdu'l-Baha has described how His own grandmother, who lived in Yalrud (a village near Takur) went one day at dawn to the house of a famous mujtahid to pray. This mujtahid (a doctor of Islamic law) was Shayk Muhammad-Taqi, a distant relative of the family. After the morning prayer he told ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s grandmother that he had some excellent news for her. He had had a dream in which he had found himself outside a house which no one was allowed to enter, because, said the door-keeper, within it the Qa'im of the House of Muhammad (the Promised One of Shi’ih Muslims) was closeted with Mirza Husayn-'Ali of Nur [Bahá'u'lláh]. At first the mujtahid had expressed his surprise that the son of a vizier should be so privileged; but on remembering their distant kinship, he had ascribed the privilege to this fact. 
(Adapted from ‘Bahá'u'lláh, The King of Glory’, by H.M. Balyuzi)

June 11, 2016

An example of Bahá'u'lláh’s great sagacity and insight as a youth

In the village of Yalrud which is near Bahá'u'lláh’s ancestral home in Takur, in northern Iran, there lived a mujtahid by the name of Shaykh Muhammad-Taqi who was well-famed throughout the land. He had a thousand scholars of divinity around him, whom he taught and, from time to time, presented with a complex question to resolve.

Whenever Bahá'u'lláh returned to His home in Takur, He would usually stop for a while in Yalrud, and here He would visit the mujtahid, who was distantly related to His family.

During a visit to Yarud, when Bahá'u'lláh was sitting in the company of Shaykh Muhmmmad-Taqi and other scholars and divines, He was asked to resolve a question they had been unable to answer to the mujtahid's satisfaction.

The problem was this:

An Islamic tradition states that ‘Fatimih is the best of the women of this world, but for the one born of Mary’. But since Mary had no daughter, what did this conundrum mean?

Bahá'u'lláh replied that the initial statement emphasized the impossibility of its alternative, since there could be no other woman comparable to Fatimih. It was like saying that a certain monarch is the greatest of the kings of this world, except for the one who comes down from Heaven; since no king has or will come down from Heaven, the uniqueness of that one monarch is stressed.

Bahá'u'lláh’s explanation left the great mujtahid silent, but next day he upbraided his disciples for having let him down badly. 'I have taught and trained you for years on end,' he complained, 'but when the need arises, I find you wanting in understanding, whereas an unturbaned youth has brilliantly explained the problem I had presented to you.' 
(Adapted from ‘Bahá'u'lláh, The King of Glory’, by H.M. Balyuzi)

June 8, 2016

Bahá'u'lláh was keenly affected by and opposed to all manifestations of injustice

While still young [possibly early teens], the Blessed Beauty [Bahá'u'lláh] watched as a government tax-collector, on three separate occasions, accosted His father and demanded, in a cruel and unjust manner, the payment of taxes. Unable to bear the injustice of it all, He, though still young, mounted His horse and rode for two days until He arrived in Tihran. There, He sought the dismissal of this unjust and tyrannical tax-collector. He succeeded in obtaining the necessary papers ordering the dismissal, and returned to His parents.
(Adapted from Memoirs of Dr. Diya Baghdadi, unpublished, reporting words heard from 'Abdu'l-Baha in ‘Stories of Bahá'u'lláh’, compiled by Hand of the Cause Ali-Akbar Furutan)

June 5, 2016

As a youth Bahá'u'lláh became well known for His unparalleled powers of exposition, yet He was courteous and non-argumentative

By the time Bahá'u'lláh was fourteen, His rare understanding, His complete mastery of argument, and His unparalleled powers or exposition were remarked in all circles. Yet He was never assertive nor argumentative; rather, always courteous and patient. Only one thing aroused His ire, and that was any disrespectful reference to the Messengers or God and His Chosen Ones. Even then He would admonish the offender with kindliness and calm. 
- Balyuzi  (‘Bahá'u'lláh, The King of Glory’)

June 3, 2016

The room Bahá'u'lláh was born in

This is the room Bahá'u'lláh was said to be born in, appropriately between dawn and sunrise, November 12, 1817. It was the main parlor of the house of His father in Tihran. Panes in the upper window are colored red, blue, yellow and green. (source: 'Land of Resplendent Glory', by the International Baha'i Audio-Visual Centre, 1971)

June 1, 2016

Seeing a puppet show at a young age and its marked effect on Bahá'u'lláh

In the Lawh-i-Ra'ís which was “revealed shortly after Bahá'u'lláh's incarceration in the citadel of 'Akká and includes a chilling denunciation of the character of the [Ottoman Prime] Minister”, Ali Pasha (The Universal House of Justice, Introduction to ‘Summons of the Lord of Hosts’), Baha’u’llah describes a puppet show that He saw during His older half-brother’s marriage and its effect on Him:

When I was still a child and had not yet attained the age of maturity, My father made arrangements in Tihran for the marriage of one of My older brothers, and as is customary in that city, the festivities lasted for seven days and seven nights. On the last day it was announced that the play "Shah Sultan Salim" would be presented. A large number of princes, dignitaries, and notables of the capital gathered for the occasion. I was sitting in one of the upper rooms of the building and observing the scene. Presently a tent was pitched in the courtyard, and before long some small human-like figures, each appearing to be no more than about a hand's span in height, were seen to emerge from it and raise the call: "His Majesty is coming! Arrange the seats at once!" Other figures then came forth, some of whom were seen to be engaged in sweeping, others in sprinkling water, and thereafter another, who was announced as the chief town crier, raised his call and bade the people assemble for an audience with the king. Next, several groups of figures made their appearance and took their places, the first attired in hats and sashes after the Persian fashion, the second wielding battleaxes, and the third comprising a number of footmen and executioners carrying bastinados. Finally there appeared, arrayed in regal majesty and crowned with a royal diadem, a kingly figure, bearing himself with the utmost haughtiness and grandeur, at turns advancing and pausing in his progress, who proceeded with great solemnity, poise and dignity to seat himself upon his throne.

May 28, 2016

Bahá'u'lláh’s remarkable knowledge and sagacity during His youthful years was acknowledged in all gatherings of doctors and scholars

…There was in Ṭihrán… a Youth of the family of one of the ministers and of noble lineage, gifted in every way, and adorned with purity and nobility. Although He combined lofty lineage with high connection, and although His ancestors were men of note in Persia and universally sought after, yet He was not of a race of doctors or a family of scholars. Now this Youth was from His earliest adolescence celebrated amongst those of the ministerial class, both relatives and strangers, for single-mindedness, and was from childhood pointed out as remarkable for sagacity, and held in regard in the eyes of the wise. He did not, however, after the fashion of His ancestors, desire elevation to lofty ranks nor seek advancement to splendid but transient positions. His extreme aptitude was nevertheless admitted by all, and His excessive acuteness and intelligence were universally avowed. In the eyes of the common folk He enjoyed a wonderful esteem, and in all gatherings and assemblies He had a marvelous speech and delivery. Notwithstanding lack of instruction and education such was the keenness of His penetration and the readiness of His apprehension that when during His youthful prime He appeared in assemblies where questions of divinity and points of metaphysic were being discussed, and, in presence of a great concourse of doctors and scholars loosed his tongue, all those present were amazed, accounting this as a sort of prodigy beyond the discernment natural to the human race. From His early years He was the hope of His kindred and the unique one of His family and race, nay, their refuge and shelter.
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (‘A Traveler’s Narrative’)

May 26, 2016

Bahá'u'lláh's ancestral home in Takur

Two views of Bahá'u'lláh's ancestral home in Takur, in the district of Nur, where He usually spent His summers as a boy.