Birth of Baha’u’llah: Baha’is gather in community for a Messenger of unity

“We desire the good of the world and the happiness of the nations, that the bonds of affection and unity between the sons of men should be strengthened … what harm is there in this?”
Baha’u’llah, in an 1890 interview with Edward Granville Browne of Cambridge University

Formal home and gardens, Shrine of Baha'u'llah

The Shrine of Baha’u’llah near Acre, Israel. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. Note: In respect for Baha’i tradition, ReadTheSpirit will not post a photo of Baha’u’llah. Aside from pilgrimage, Baha’is believe a photographic image of Baha’u’llah should not be viewed in public or even displayed in a private home, as a sign of respect for Baha’u’llah

SUNSET MONDAY, NOVEMBER 11: Baha’is today celebrate the founder of their faith, Baha’u’llah, who was born on this date in 1817. Baha’u’llah proclaimed messages of unity as he wrote to many world leaders in the late 19th century, such as Queen Victoria, Napoleon III and Pope Pius IX. Since that time, Baha’is point out, the contents of Baha’u’llah’s writings on human rights have been mirrored in United Nations talks, at rallies and by advocates worldwide in the ongoing human rights campaign to help Baha’is inside Iran. That’s the very nation where Baha’u’llah was born and yet for many years Baha’is have suffered persecution in Iran. (Check out a few short meditations from Baha’u’llah at the Baha’i Library’s collection of “The Hidden Words.”)

Baha’is worldwide are quickly approaching the 200th birth anniversary of Baha’u’llah, who was born in 1817 in Tehran, the capital of Persia (modern-day Iran). The son of a noble family, Mirza Husayn Ali—who would later take the name “Baha’u’llah”—spent a childhood in luxury, before facing exile and imprisonment. (Learn more about the life, teachings and writings of Baha’u’llah at Bahai.org.)

In 1863, Baha’u’llah announced that he was the bearer of a new revelation from God—one that would bring unity to the world’s people. Baha’u’llah and the early Babis strongly believed that God sent divine messengers to humanity at intervals of 500 to 1,000 years, and that Baha’u’llah was the most recent in a line that included Abraham, Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha, Zoroaster and Krishna.  Today, millions of Baha’is across the globe agree with Baha’u’llah’s beliefs. (View a photographic narrative of his life at Bahaullah.org.)

‘TWIN BIRTHDAYS’ AND PRAYERFUL GATHERINGS

One of nine holy days of the Baha’i calendar, the Birth of Baha’u’llah is the latter half of the “Twin Birthdays”—the first of which, the Birth of the Bab, was observed in October. Few traditions exist for celebrating Baha’u’llah’s birthday, aside from prayers and community gatherings, although it should be noted that Baha’u’llah placed great importance on unity of the community. (Wikipedia has details.) Public gatherings will be held everywhere from Josephine Butler Parks Center in Washington, D.C. to the gardens in Israel that are the final resting place of Baha’u’llah, to small villages and massive localities across the globe. (The Washington Post reported on the D.C. gathering.)

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