SUNSET TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 11: The birthday of Baha’u’llah—the founder of the Baha’i faith—is celebrated with excitement by the faithful. One of nine holy days in the Baha’i calendar, the Birth of Baha’u’llah is rapidly approaching a centennial: Baha’u’llah was born on November 12, 1817.
Baha’is were instructed by Abdu’l-Baha, the son of Baha’u’llah, to observe the holy day in community.
As Baha’u’llah’s mission was to foster universal peace, his birthday is an occasion for community prayers. Gatherings and programs are held in homes, at local and national Baha’i centers and at Baha’i houses of worship.
THE MAKING OF A FOUNDER
Mirza Husayn Ali was born November 12, 1817, in Tehran, Persia (now Iran). The son of a wealthy government minister, Baha’u’llah was born into wealth and prestige. His family’s lineage could be traced to the ruling dynasties of Persia’s past, and at the time of his birth, Mirza Husayn Ali’s family still exercised influence over the court of the Shah. (Learn more from Baha’i.org.)
From a young age, Mirza Husayn Ali was rumored to be “different” than his peers. The child was wise beyond his years, showed immense compassion for the poor and displayed an unusually alert mind. (Wikipedia has details.) Of his childhood, Abdu’l-Baha says, “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.”
Mirza Husayn Ali did reach maturity, though not without tumult. When he showed support for the Bab and the emerging Babi religion, Mirza Husayn’s life began to crumble. In 1863, Mirza Husayn announced himself as the One promised by the Bab, and became known as Baha’u’llah. As the years passed, Baha’u’llah was subject to exile, violence and imprisonment. (View photos of significant places in Baha’u’llah’s life here.)
BIRTH OF BAHA’U’LLAH: 2015 UPDATE
In questions submitted to Baha’u’llah after he wrote the Kitab-i-Aqdas, Baha’u’llah described his own birthday and the birthday of the Bab as “twin birthdays” that are one in the “sight of God.” Though the birthdays have been celebrated according to the solar calendar each year in most of the world—and Baha’u’llah’s birthday fixed on November 12—that will change in 2015.
The Universal House of Justice announced that from March 20, 2015 onward, the “twin birthdays” will be observed on the first and second days following the eighth new moon after Naw-Ruz. Therefore, from March 2015, the Birth of Baha’u’llah will no longer be celebrated on a fixed date, and will change annually.