Who was Baha’u’llah?

Shrine of Baha'u'llah in Bahji, Israel
The resting place of Baha’u’llah in Bahji, Israel

Baha’u’llah was born a Persian nobleman. He lived in Iran in the 1800’s. He was born to wealth, power and privilege. Baha’u’llah joined the followers of the Bab and was a natural leader to that community. When He became a Babi, He chose His name, Baha’u’llah, which means ‘The Glory of God. When the Bab was martyred, the followers of the Bab turned to Baha’u’llah for guidance and encouragement. They recognized that Baha’u’llah had great spiritual presence and wisdom. For being a Babi, Baha’u’llah lost all His possessions and was thrown into a terrible prison.

It was in these most horrific prison conditions that Baha’u’llah received a revelation that He was the Promised One about Whom the Báb had prophesied, and that His time had at last come. Baha’u’llah later wrote of the experience, “One night, in a dream, these exalted words were heard on every side: ‘Verily, We shall render Thee victorious by Thyself and by Thy Pen. Grieve Thou not for that which hath befallen Thee, neither be Thou afraid, for Thou art in safety. Erelong will God raise up the treasures of the earth — men who will aid Thee through Thyself and through Thy Name, wherewith God hath revived the hearts of such as have recognized Him.’” (ESW, p. 21). Several years after His release from prison, Baha’u’llah declared His Mission. The Babis quickly accepted His station because Baha’u’llah had shown them such perfection in His character, such knowledge, and such spiritual dignity.

Baha’u’llah was banished from Iran, to Iraq, to Istanbul, to Egypt, and finally to Israel where He was imprisoned for decades. As His religion spread, His followers were often hunted down and killed all throughout the Middle East. But this persecution could not stop His Message. Soon it spread to India, to Europe, to America and beyond.

The message of Baha’u’llah is simple: that God had sent His Promised One at long last to bring all of humanity together in a single family. Baha’u’llah claimed to be the fulfillment of Christian, Muslim, Judaic, and many other traditions. He claimed to bring the New Jerusalem in the form of His unique new religious system. He promised that His Cause would transform the planet into a heavenly kingdom. Baha’u’llah sacrificed His life of comfort and ease for a life of persecution, imprisonment, poverty, abuse and banishment; just to bring His Message of peace, justice, and unity to humanity. Baha’u’llah wrote of Himself, “The Ancient Beauty hath consented to be bound with chains that mankind may be released from its bondage, and hath accepted to be made a prisoner within this most mighty Stronghold that the whole world may attain unto true liberty. He hath drained to its dregs the cup of sorrow, that all the peoples of the earth may attain unto abiding joy, and be filled with gladness. This is of the mercy of your Lord, the Compassionate, the Most Merciful. We have accepted to be abased, O believers in the Unity of God, that ye may be exalted, and have suffered manifold afflictions, that ye might prosper and flourish. He Who hath come to build anew the whole world, behold, how they that have joined partners with God have forced Him to dwell within the most desolate of cities!” (GWB, p. 99)

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