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

September 24, 2016

Baha’u’llah’s amazing success in Nur alarmed His uncle

To inquiries from Nuri notables about affairs of the court, Baha’u’llah 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 Bab 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 Babi, following the lead of his older half-brothers. This youth had been taken under the special tutorship of Baha’u’llah, 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 Babi 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.

August 6, 2016

The First Letter of the Living is given the assignment to bring the Message of the Báb to Bahá'u'lláh

Once eighteen believers had recognized the Báb, each independently of the others, the Báb called them the ‘Letters of the Living’, and one by one sent them “with steadfast feet and sanctified hearts” on perilous specific tasks to proclaim the new Message.

To Mulla Husayn, His first Letter of the Living, the Báb pointed to the north, saying: “Grieve not that you have not been chosen to accompany Me on My pilgrimage to Hijaz. I shall instead direct your steps to that city [Tihran] which enshrines a Mystery of such transcendent holiness as neither Hijaz [a region in Saudi Arabia containing the holy cities of Mecca and Medina] nor Shiraz can hope to rival… Visit, on your way, Isfahan, Kashan, Tihran and Khurasan… The hosts of the invisible Kingdom, be assured, will sustain and reinforce your efforts. The essence of power is now dwelling in you, and the company of His chosen angels revolves around you. His almighty arms will surround you, and His unfailing Spirit will ever continue to guide your steps…” (‘The Dawn-Breakers’)

Of his mission to Tihran, the Báb presented an exciting prospect, saying: “A secret lies hidden in that city. When made manifest, it shall turn the earth into paradise. My hope is that you may partake of its grace and recognize its splendor.” (‘The Dawn-Breakers’) 
(Adapted from ‘Robe of Light, vol. 1’, by David Ruhe) 

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 23, 2016

Bahá’u’lláh recounts about His father

The late Vazír, My father, enjoyed a most enviable position among his countrymen. His vast wealth, his noble ancestry, his artistic attainments, his unrivalled prestige and exalted rank made him the object of the admiration of all who knew him. For a period of over twenty years, no one among the wide circle of his family and kindred, which extended over Núr and Ṭihrán, suffered distress, injury, or illness. They enjoyed, during a long and uninterrupted period, rich and manifold blessings. Quite suddenly, however, this prosperity and glory gave way to a series of calamities which severely shook the foundations of his material prosperity. The first loss he suffered was occasioned by a great flood which, rising in the mountains of Mázindarán, swept with great violence over the village of Tákúr, and utterly destroyed half the mansion of the Vazír, situated above the fortress of that village. The best part of that house, which had been known for the solidity of its foundations, was utterly wiped away by the fury of the roaring torrent. Its precious articles of furniture were destroyed, and its elaborate ornamentation irretrievably ruined. This was shortly followed by the loss of various State positions which the Vazír occupied, and by the repeated assaults directed against him by his envious adversaries. Despite this sudden change of fortune, the Vazír maintained his dignity and calm, and continued, within the restricted limits of his means, his acts of benevolence and charity. He continued to exercise towards his faithless associates that same courtesy and kindness that had characterised his dealings with his fellow-men. With splendid fortitude he grappled, until the last hour of his life, with the adversities that weighed so heavily upon him. 
- Bahá’u’lláh  (Quoted by Nabil in ‘The Dawn-Breakers’, translated and edited by Shoghi Effendi))

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’)