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A brief biography of Bahá'u'lláh, the Prophet-Founder of the Bahá'í Faith








Bahá'u'lláh (pr. Ba-Ha-ul-Lah, lit. "the Glory of God" or "the Glory of the Lord") was the son of a leading minister to the court of the Sháh of Irán. As a child, His innate knowledge was so profound that his teacher returned Him to His father, confessing that the child's knowledge far surpassed his own. As a youth, His constant attention to the needs of the underprivileged led to their naming Him "the Father of the Poor." His father died when He was 17 and the Sháh was so impressed with the youth that he asked Bahá'u'lláh to take His father's position at court, which guaranteed tremendous wealth and great power, but Bahá'u'lláh respectfully declined. The Sháh was astonished at the refusal, but the Grand Vizier responded by saying that Bahá'u'lláh's thoughts were not like those of ordinary men and that He was destined for some great, unfathomable purpose.

In 1844, when Bahá'u'lláh was 27, He heard of the announcement of the Báb, Who proclaimed Himself to be the forerunner of the Promised One of all religions. Bahá'u'lláh immediately gave His support the cause of the Báb and directed all to seek out the Báb and to study His message and teachings. The Báb was denounced by the clergy and they, with the collaboration of the newly crowned Sháh, undertook a nationwide campaign of persecution and genocide against the Báb and His followers. Over 40,000 Bábís were killed, including the Báb, the circumstances of Whose martyrdom are described in some detail in the Book of Revelation.

Bahá'u'lláh, as the leading supporter of the Báb, was arrested and tortured. In 1852, innocent of any crime or wrongdoing, all of His possessions and property were seized, and He was sent to the notorious "black pit" of Tehrán, a subterranean, airless and filth-ridden dungeon, formerly a cistern for the royal baths, where the most notorious criminals were sent to die. With a 100-pound chain around His neck, Bahá'u'lláh spent four months there, during which time He received His revelation. His presence transformed the spirits of the inmates to such a point that their singing of spiritual verses could be heard within the royal palace.

As Bahá'u'lláh was nearing death, the authorities became fearful that if He were to die in such circumstances the reaction of the public would be severe. They released Him in December of that year and, without winter clothing, He and His family were forced to cross the snowbound mountains into Iraq, where He would live as an exile in the city of Baghdad. Upon His arrival, he was publicly denounced as an enemy of God, which engendered great hostility, but His presence transformed this enmity into respect and love.

During His decade in Baghdad, and Bahá'u'lláh spent a period of time alone in the mountain wilderness of Sulaymáníyyih in preparation for His mission. Meanwhile, the Faith of the Báb grew at an astonishing pace, which prompted the Iranian government to press the Ottoman Sultan to send Bahá'u'lláh even further away. The Governor of the city was so impressed by Bahá'u'lláh that he willfully ignored seven successive orders to banish Bahá'u'lláh before finally acquiescing.This message was given to Bahá'u'lláh by the Governor , who openly wept at having to deliver this news. In 1863, in a garden between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, Bahá'u'lláh announced His Station as "Him Whom God shall make manifest," as foretold by the Báb. From that point forward, His followers would become known as Bahá'ís. As Bahá'u'lláh departed from Baghdad, the streets were lined for miles by thousands of sobbing well-wishers.

This pattern of the growth of the Faith, followed by further exile was repeated until, in 1868, He was sent to the prison city of 'Akká in Palestine (referred to in the Bible as Acre or Accho). Known as the Devil's Island of the orient, and filled with the most dangerous criminals in the Ottoman empire, the pestilence there was so great that the local saying was that if a bird were to fly over it would die. As in His previous exiles, the intentional hatred stirred up by the persecutors of Bahá'u'lláh would be transformed into great affection, to the point that in 1877 the governor of 'Akka fell to his knees and took hold of Bahá'u'lláh's robe, swearing not to let go until Bahá'u'lláh, Who was still a prisoner, agreed to leave and take up residence in the nearby countryside. At one point, Bahá'u'lláh pitched His tent on nearby Mount Carmel, pointing out the spot where His Son, 'Abdu'l-Bahá, would one day build a shrine to the Báb.

As described in the Book of Micah, Bahá'u'lláh's exile took Him and His band of fellow exiles from mountain to mountain, from sea to sea, from fortified city to fortified city, from the fortress of 'Akka to the river Namayn. During this time, He wrote the equivalent of over 100 volumes, revealed His teachings, designed the structure of His global administrative order, urged mankind to recognize the oneness and sequential nature of all the great religions, and issued announcements to all the kings and rulers of the earth and summons to all of humanity to the cause of the Promised One of all ages and of all religions.

In 1890, two years before His passing, He received a visit from the distinguished British orientalist and scholar, Professor E.G. Browne, who wrote, "The face of Him on Whom I gazed I can never forget, though I cannot describe it. Those piercing eyes seemed to read one's very soul; power and authority sat on that ample brow.… No need to ask in whose presence I stood, as I bowed myself before one who is the object of a devotion and love which kings might envy and emperors sigh for in vain."

The Bahá'í Faith is the second most widespread religion on earth. Its sacred writings have been translated into some 900 languages and dialects. Its adherents, who represent over 2,000 tribes and ethnic groups, are a completely united global family, with no sects or schisms, all of whom are working together to assist humanity in its progress towards an ever advancing spiritual society.

"Call out to Zion, O Carmel, and announce the joyful tidings: He that was hidden from mortal eyes is come!"


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Bahá'ís represent 2,112 ethnic groups and tribes in 116,000 localities in 180 countries around the world.


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