SUNSET SATURDAY, MAY 28: It’s the beginning of a quiet holy day for Baha’is tonight, as devotees observe the Ascension of Baha’u’llah. On May 29 at 3 a.m., Baha’u’llah died peacefully at the Bahji Mansion, at age 75. Still, his condition at death was hardly an indication of his life circumstances: Baha’u’llah spent decades in prison, was exiled four times and saw the martyrdom of thousands of his followers. (Planet Baha’i has more.) Despite an early life among the wealthy of Persia, Baha’u’llah left his riches behind when news of the Bab reached him. Several years later, in 1852, Baha’u’llah was sent to another prison—where he received a revelation from God that he was the Promised One. (View a devotional video at New York Baha’i.)
Today, the world’s 6 million Baha’is honor Baha’u’llah’s ascension with prayer, devotional programs and visits to his burial site outside Acre, Israel. Many Baha’is regard Baha’u’llah’s burial site as the most sacred spot in the world. The grounds surrounding Baha’u’llah’s grave are arranged in a striking, complex garden that is intended to represent the order of the world in the future.
Baha’is in Iran still face persecution, centuries after Baha’u’llah’s death and ascension: As was reported by a newspaper last Monday, Iran arrested several Baha’is for running an online Baha’i university. (Google News has an article.) The Iranian government claims the website promoted Baha’ism; the site states that it was founded “in response to the Iranian government’s continuing campaign to deny Iranian Baha’is access to higher education.”
Originally published at readthespirit.com, an online journal covering religion and cultural diversity.