Baha’i: Baha’u’llah Ascension Creates Most Sacred Spot

Baha’u’llah spent the final years of his life at the Bahji MansionSATURDAY, MAY 29: Each day while in prayer, Baha’is turn toward the most sacred place on Earth, according to their tradition—the Shrine of Baha’u’llah—and today, the faithful observe the event that made this place most sacred: the ascension of Baha’u’llah. (Read all about last year’s observance at the Official Website of the Baha’is of the United States.) Baha’u’llah, the founder of the Baha’i faith, spent most of his life in exile but lived the last few, peaceful years of his life in the Bahji Mansion just outside of Acre, Israel. (View high-resolution photography of the entire property here.) It was also in this mansion that Baha’u’llah died, after a mild illness, in 1892. It’s recorded that people of all faiths gathered to mourn. As was written by Shoghi Effendi, official guardian of the faith from 1921 to 1957, “Notables, among whom were numbered Shi’ahs, Sunnis, Christians, Jews and Druzes, as well as poets, ulamas and government officials, all joined in lamenting the loss …” Many Baha’is are diligently faithful in their observances, too—just as Baha’u’llah is recorded as having passed around 3 a.m., many Baha’is communities hold commemorations at this early morning hour. (View the room where Baha’u’llah died, plus read an article, courtesy of the Baha’is of Washington, DC.)

Baha’u’llah was born into a Noble family in Persia, but left his luxurious life when he heard of a figure known as the Bab. Baha’u’llah became a devout follower of the Bab’s new religious movement—and for his faith he was imprisoned, tortured and threatened with death. It was in prison, however, while in the company of criminals and bound by scar-inducing chains, that Baha’u’llah reported experiencing a revelation from God. Baha’u’llah told his followers that God had revealed to him that he was the Promised One, foretold by the Bab. (Planet Baha’i has more on Baha’u’llah’s life.)

Numerous accounts of encounters with Baha’u’llah hold themes of love, gentleness and awe. (If you have a few quiet moments, view this reflective, commemorative video of an Ascension tribute, set to music and a Persian prayer, courtesy of New York Baha’is.) As was written by Edward Granville Browne, a scholar from Cambridge University, “The face of him on whom I gazed I can never forget, though I cannot describe it. Those piercing eyes seemed to read everyone’s soul; power and authority sat on that ample brow.”

(By ReadTheSpirit columnist Stephanie Fenton)

(NOTE: To see more short articles about upcoming holidays, festivals and anniversaries, click the “RTS Magazines” tab at the top of this page and select “Religious Holidays.”)

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