This is the changeless faith of God, eternal in the past, eternal in the future. – Bahá’u’lláh.
The inscription, an invocation in Arabic meaning “O Glory of Glories,” is a reference to Bahá’u’lláh.
Throughout history, God has revealed Himself to humanity through a series of divine Messengers, each of whom has founded a great religion. The Messengers have included Abraham, Krishna, Zoroaster, Moses, Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad.
The latest of these Messengers is Bahá’u’lláh, who brings new spiritual and social teachings for our modern age. He taught that there is only one God, that all of the world’s religions are from God, and that now is the time for humanity to recognize its oneness and unite.
The photographs that follow give a glimpse into the extraordinary life of Bahá’u’lláh, known to the worldwide Bahá’í community as the latest “Manifestation of God.” They present His story in pictures: His birthplace, the cities of His exile, the cell in which He was confined for two years and His final resting place. Here, too, are examples of His handwriting, relics of His remarkable life, and photographs of the beautiful gardens in the Holy Land which His life inspired.
What is not here is a picture of Bahá’u’lláh Himself. For Bahá’ís, the station of Bahá’u’lláh is such that even His photograph is very precious. It should, therefore, only be viewed with the utmost reverence and respect and not displayed openly, even in the private homes of Bahá’ís.
Photos: The entrance to the tomb of Bahá’u’lláh. The inscription, an invocation in Arabic meaning “O Glory of Glories,” is a reference to Bahá’u’lláh.
The life of Bahá’u’lláh and the events associated with the birth of a new revelation from God unfolded in the 19th century in the Islamic world of Iran and the Ottoman Empire.
The stern control of those two central powers dictated Bahá’u’lláh’s movements His entire life, starting in what was then called Persia, where He was born.
The city of Tehran, Iran, where Bahá’u’lláh was born.
The childhood of Bahá’u’lláh
Bahá’u’lláh, a title that means “the Glory of God” in Arabic, was born on 12 November 1817 in Tehran, Iran. His given name was Husayn Ali, and He was the son of a wealthy government minister, Mirza Buzurg-i-Nuri. The family could trace its ancestry back to the great dynasties of Iran’s imperial past. Bahá’u’lláh led a princely life as a young man, receiving an education that focused largely on calligraphy, horsemanship, classic poetry, and swordsmanship.
His son, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, said this concerning His childhood: “… Bahá’u’lláh, belonged to the nobility of Persia. From earliest childhood He was distinguished among His relatives and friends.… In wisdom, intelligence and as a source of new knowledge, He was advanced beyond His age and superior to His surroundings. All who knew Him were astonished at His precocity. It was usual for them to say, ‘Such a child will not live,’ for it is commonly believed that precocious children do not reach maturity.”
An early experience
In a letter Bahá’u’lláh recalled as a child seeing an elaborate puppet show about war and intrigues in the court of a king and the riches of those in authority. After the performance, Bahá’u’lláh saw a man come out from behind the tent with a box under his arm. “What is this box?” Bahá’u’lláh asked him, “and what was the nature of this display?” “All this lavish display and these elaborate devices,” the puppet master replied, “the king, the princes, and the ministers, their pomp and glory, their might and power, everything you saw, are now contained within this box.” Bahá’u’lláh then recalled: “… Ever since that day, all the trappings of the world have seemed in the eyes of this Youth akin to that same spectacle. They have never been, nor will they ever be, of any weight and consequence, be it to the extent of a grain of mustard seed.… Erelong these outward trappings, these visible treasures, these earthly vanities, these arrayed armies, these adorned vestures, these proud and overweening souls, all shall pass into the confines of the grave, as though into that box. In the eyes of those possessed of insight, all this conflict, contention and vainglory hath ever been, and will ever be, like unto the play and pastimes of children.”
Bahá’u’lláh as a youth
The family of Bahá’u’lláh had several houses, including one in Takur in the province of Mázindarán.
According to the custom of that time, as the son of an influential government official, Bahá’u’lláh did not receive a formal education. Yet by the time He was fourteen, he became known for His learning. He would converse on any subject and solve any problem presented to him. In large gatherings he would explain intricate religious questions to the ulama (the leading religious figures in Islam), and they listened with great interest.
After the death of His father, Bahá’u’lláh declined the ministerial career in the government that was available to Him. When the prime minister was informed of Bahá’u’lláh’s decision he remarked: “Leave him to himself. Such a position is unworthy of him.…”(3)
Photo 4 of 12: Another view of the house of Bahá’u’lláh in Takur, Mázindarán.
“Father of the poor”
Instead of pursuing a life of power and leisure, Bahá’u’lláh chose to devote His energies to a range of philanthropies which had, by the early 1840s, earned Him renown as “father of the poor.”
A great love of nature
Bahá’u’lláh loved nature and spent much of His time in the outdoors. He remarked, “The country is the world of the soul, the city is the world of bodies.
Ardent supporter of a new religion
In 1844, a youth named Siyyid ‘Alí-Muhammad arose in Iran to proclaim that the great day of God awaited by all religions had come. He called Himself the Báb, which in Arabic means “the Gate.” His teachings shook the country to its core and spread rapidly among its most notable people. Bahá’u’lláh took one look at the writings of the Báb and proclaimed: “… Whoso believes in the Qur’án and recognizes its Divine origin, and yet hesitates, though it be for one moment, to admit that these soul-stirring words are endowed with the same regenerating power, has most assuredly erred in his judgment and has strayed from the path of justice.” Bahá’u’lláh immediately became one of the most active of the Báb’s followers.
Historic meeting at Badasht
At the village of Badasht, in 1848, Bahá’u’lláh hosted a gathering of the most eminent followers of the Báb, known as Bábís. The meeting established for the growing number of believers the independent character of the Bábí religion.
Bahá’u’lláh tortured in Mázindarán
In 1848, in Amul in the province of Mázindarán, Bahá’u’lláh was arrested and bastinadoed (beaten with a rod on the soles of His feet) for being a follower of the Báb. He had gone there on His way to visit some of the other Bábís, who were under attack at the fort of Shaykh Tabarsi.
Toward the end of His life Bahá’u’lláh wrote of this event: “While confined in the prison of the Land of Mim (Mázindarán) We were one day delivered into the hands of the divines. Thou canst well imagine what befell Us
Government orders Bahá’u’lláh’s arrest
The Báb was executed in 1850 and nearly all the leading exponents of His religion were killed by fanatical clergy and government troops. Bahá’u’lláh was spared the fate of His companions but was falsely charged, in 1852, with complicity in an attempt on the life of the Shah. He was at the village of Afchih, near Tehran, when a warrant was issued for His arrest and detention.
Bahá’u’lláh faces His accusers
Once the arrest warrant was signed, Bahá’u’lláh’s admirers offered to protect Him from the wrath of the Shah’s ministers who were intent on taking His life. Instead, refusing to go into hiding, He rode out to face His accusers.
Without shade, under a blazing August sun, Bahá’u’lláh was forced to walk to the place of imprisonment in Tehran. All along the route He was stoned and pelted with whatever came to bystanders’ hands and was vilified by the crowds flocking to the scene
A revelation from God
In Tehran, Bahá’u’lláh was cast into a dungeon known as the Black Pit, notorious for its foul air, filth, and pitch-black darkness. It was in this prison that He received the first intimations of a divine revelation within Him.
He later wrote: “I was but a man like others, asleep upon My couch, when lo, the breezes of the All-Glorious were wafted over Me, and taught Me the knowledge of all that hath been. This thing is not from Me, but from One Who is Almighty and All-Knowing. And He bade Me lift up My voice between earth and heaven.”
However, the time to publicly announce this revelation would be later.
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