SUNDOWN THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 11: It’s time for a birthday party tonight! Baha’is around the world will begin celebrating the birth anniversary of Baha’u’llah at sundown today, and tomorrow will be one of nine official holy days on the Baha’i calendar. (For the past 40 years, Baha’is in the area of Washington, D.C. have been throwing an enormous birthday bash on Nov. 11 of 12 each year. Read more on this celebration at Bahai.us.)
According to tradition, Baha’u’llah founded the Baha’i faith and, despite being born to a wealthy family, he went on to embrace the writings of the Bab and fulfill a divine destiny. In fact, the name “Baha’u’llah” even translates to “the Glory of God.” (Wikipedia has details.)
Baha’u’llah was born in modern-day Iran 193 years ago, and from an early age, he chose to help the poor instead of work with his wealthy father. The Bab, who is regarded by Baha’is as a Manifestation of God, foretold the coming of Baha’u’llah. When Baha’u’llah began communicating with the Bab during his life, he was thrown into prisons and exiled. It was during his times of trial, however, that Baha’u’llah experienced revelations and wrote the more than 100 volumes of divinely inspired passages that Baha’is treasure today. According to some sources, the fact that Baha’u’llah composed his writings in Arabic—despite having a limited knowledge of the Arabic language—is proof in itself that his writings were divinely inspired. (One author and Baha’i convert shares her reasons for writing about his prophet’s birth at Bahai.us.)
Baha’is take their cue today from Abdu’l-Baha, the son of Baha’u’llah, who instructed that they should “rejoice together to increase the unity of the community.” Since Baha’u’llah supported all religious prophets and encouraged unity as a path to peace, Baha’is today recall his birth with this in mind.