Tag Archives: Revelation

Bahá’í view on Essential Relationship “The Individual and Society” Saturday Sept 23, 2017

Continuing with our efforts of raising awareness about the Bahá’í Faith and Bahá’u’lláh the founder of the Bahá’í  Faith , Ajax Bahá’í community would like to welcome our neighbors to another event this time focusing on some insights from the Bahá’í Faith . A presentation is planned as a public events on Saturday Sept 23, 2017,  from 2-4 PM, at the Ajax Main Library (Rotary room). The program includes a short presentation and viewing of very short documentaries and then an open floor discussion and sharing of thoughts about this essential relationship “The Individual and the Society”.

“The fundamental purpose animating the Faith of God and His Religion is to safeguard the interests and promote the unity of the human race, and to foster the spirit of love and fellowship amongst men.”— Bahá’u’lláh

Realization of the principle of the oneness of humanity is at once the goal and operating principle of Bahá’u’lláh’s revelation. Bahá’u’lláh compared the world of humanity to the human body. Within this organism, millions of cells, diverse in form and function, play their part in maintaining a healthy system. Similarly, harmonious relationships among individuals, communities, and institutions serve to sustain society and allow for the advancement of civilization.

 

The Individual and Society 

We are living today in a unique period in history. As humanity emerges from childhood and approaches its collective maturity, the need for a new understanding of the relationships between the individual, the community, and the institutions of society becomes ever more pressing.

The interdependence of these three protagonists in the advancement of civilization has to be recognized and old paradigms of conflict, in which, for example, institutions demand submission while individuals clamour for freedom, need to be replaced with more profound conceptions of the complementary roles to be played by each in building a better world.

To accept that the individual, the community, and the institutions of society are the protagonists of civilization building, and to act accordingly, opens up great possibilities for human happiness and allows for the creation of environments in which the true powers of the human spirit can be released.

One Human Family 

The conviction that we belong to one human family is at the heart of the Bahá’í Faith. The principle of the oneness of humankind is “the pivot round which all the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh revolve”.

Bahá’u’lláh compared the world of humanity to the human body. Within this organism, millions of cells, diverse in form and function, play their part in maintaining a healthy system. The principle that governs the functioning of the body is cooperation. Its various parts do not compete for resources; rather, each cell, from its inception, is linked to a continuous process of giving and receiving.

Acceptance of the oneness of humanity demands that prejudice—whether racial, religious, or gender related—must be totally eliminated.

Public Event Sept 23, 2017, at Ajax Main Library

We are looking forward to seeing you at the event.

(Material referenced from the www. Bahai.org)

“Bahá’í view on The Life of the Spirit and Power of Prayer” Presentation Sunday Aug 20, 2017

 

Continuing with our efforts of raising awareness about the Bahá’í Faith and Bahá’u’lláh, Ajax Bahá’í community would like to welcome our neighbors to another event this time focusing on some insights from the Bahá’í Faith . A presentation is planned as a public events on Sunday Aug 20  from 2-4 PM, at the Ajax Main Library (Rotary room). The program includes a short presentation and viewing of very short documentaries and then an open floor discussion and sharing of thoughts about the Bahá’í view on The Life of the Spirit and Power of Prayer.

“Wert thou to attain to but a dewdrop of the crystal waters of divine knowledge, thou wouldst readily realize that true life is not the life of the flesh but the life of the spirit…”— Bahá’u’lláh

Baha’u’llah’s Revelation affirms that the purpose of our lives is to know God and to attain His presence. Our true identity is our soul, whose free will and powers of understanding enable us to continually better ourselves and our society. Walking a path of service to God and to humanity gives life meaning and prepares us for the moment the soul separates from the body and continues on its eternal journey towards its Maker. 

The soul has its origin in the spiritual worlds of God. It is exalted above matter and the physical world. The individual has his beginning when the soul, coming from these spiritual worlds, associates itself with the embryo at the time of conception. But this association is not material; the soul does not enter or leave the body and does not occupy physical space. The soul does not belong to the material world, and its association with the body is similar to that of a light with a mirror which reflects it. The light which appears in the mirror is not inside it; it comes from an external source. Similarly, the soul is not in the body; there is a special relationship between it and the body, and together they form a human being.

There is a very special relationship between the soul and the body, which together form a human being. This relationship lasts only the span of a mortal life. When this ceases, each one returns to its origin, the body to the world of dust and the soul to the spiritual worlds of God. Having emanated from the spiritual realms, created in the image and likeness of God, and capable of acquiring divine qualities and heavenly attributes, the soul, after its separation from the body, progresses for all of eternity.

Bahá’u’lláh says:

“And now concerning thy question regarding the soul of man and its survival after death. Know thou of a truth that the soul, after its separation from the body, will continue to progress until it attaineth the presence of God, in a state and condition which neither the revolution of ages and centuries, nor the changes and chances of this world, can alter. It will endure as long as the Kingdom of God, His sovereignty, His dominion and power will endure. It will manifest the signs of God and His attributes, and will reveal His loving kindness and bounty.”

 Bahá’u’lláh says:

“The purpose of God in creating man hath been, and will ever be, to enable him to know his Creator and to attain His Presence. To this most excellent aim, this supreme objective, all the heavenly Books and the divinely-revealed and weighty Scriptures unequivocally bear witness. Whoso hath recognized the Day Spring of Divine guidance and entered His holy court hath drawn nigh unto God and attained His Presence, a Presence which is the real Paradise, and of which the loftiest mansions of heaven are but a symbol … Whoso hath failed to recognize Him will have condemned himself to the misery of remoteness, a remoteness which is naught but utter nothingness and the essence of the nethermost fire. Such will be his fate, though to outward seeming he may occupy the earth’s loftiest seats and be established upon its most exalted throne.”

Prayer helps us to advance towards God and not lose sight of our special destiny. This is why we should pray constantly that through the love of God our souls may develop and be strengthened, and that we may firmly walk the path of eternal happiness with steadfastness.

From the Baha’i writing we get a deeper appreciation for prayer here are few quotes:

There is nothing sweeter in the world of existence than prayer. Man must live in a state of prayer. The most blessed condition is the condition of prayer and supplication. Prayer is conversation with God. The greatest attainment or the sweetest state is none other than conversation with God. It creates spirituality, creates mindfulness and celestial feelings, begets new attractions of the Kingdom and engenders the susceptibilities of the higher intelligence.”

“In the highest prayer, men pray only for the love of God, not because they fear Him or hell, or hope for bounty or heaven … When a man falls in love with a human being, it is impossible for him to keep from mentioning the name of his beloved. How much more difficult it is to keep from mentioning the Name of God when one has come to love Him. … The spiritual man finds no delight in anything save in commemoration of God.”

“If one friend loves another, is it not natural that he should wish to say so? Though he knows that that friend is aware of his love, does he still not wish to tell him of it? … It is true that God knows the wishes of all hearts; but the impulse to pray is a natural one, springing from man’s love of God.”      Abdu’l-Bahá

Since our purpose is to know God and develop our capacities through the teachings and guidance provided by His Manifestations and Divine educators who appeared at various times in the history of mankind, it becomes our duty to investigate and recognize the Divine Educator of our time. We also need to pray with absolute sincerity for God to show us the right path. Bahá’u’lláh  declared that He is that Manifestation of God, that Divine Educator which was promised in all the scriptures of the past and all prophecies were fulfilled by His coming and his teachings and guidance are the remedy needed so desperately for the world today.

We are looking forward to seeing you at the event.

“Bahá’u’lláh – And The Baha’i World View ” Presentation Sunday July 30, 2017

Continuing with our efforts of raising awareness about the Bahá’í Faith and Bahá’u’lláh, Ajax Bahá’í community would like to welcome our neighbors to another event this time focusing on Bahá’u’lláh and the Baha’i World View . A presentation is planned as a public events on Sunday July 30,  from 2-4 PM, at the Ajax Main Library (Rotary room). The program includes a short presentation and viewing of very short documentaries and then an open floor discussion and sharing of thoughts about this theme.

Only a comprehensive vision of a global society, supported by universal values and principles, can inspire individuals to take responsibility for the long-term care and protection of the natural environment. Baha’i­s find such a world-embracing vision and system of values in the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh – teachings which herald an era of planetary justice, prosperity and unity

Bahá’u’lláh enjoins His followers to develop a sense of world citizenship and a commitment to stewardship of the earth. His writings are imbued with a deep respect for the natural world and for the interconnectedness of all things. They emphasize that the fruits of God’s love and obedience to His commandments are dignity, nobility and a sense of worth. From these attributes emerge the natural inclination to treat one another with love and compassion, and the willingness to sacrifice for the betterment of society. Bahá’u’lláh also teaches moderation, a commitment to justice, and detachment from the things of this world – spiritual disciplines which enable individuals to contribute to the establishment of a prosperous and united world civilization. The broad pattern for such a civilization and the principles on which it should be based are set forth in Bahá’u’lláh’s Revelation, a revelation which offers hope to a dispirited humanity and the promise that it is truly possible both to meet the needs of present and future generations and to build a sound foundation for social and economic development. The inspiration and the vision for this civilization are captured in Bahá’u’lláh’s words: “The earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens.”

Among the principles guiding the Baha’i­ approach to conservation and sustainable development, the following are of particular importance

  • nature reflects the qualities and attributes of God and should, therefore, be greatly respected and cherished;
  • all things are interconnected and flourish according to the law of reciprocity; and
  • the oneness of humanity is the fundamental spiritual and social truth shaping our age.

Baha’i­ Scriptures describe nature as an emanation of God’s will.

“Nature in its essence is the embodiment of My Name, the Maker, the Creator. Its manifestations are diversified by varying causes, and in this diversity there are signs for men of discernment. Nature is God’s Will and is its expression in and through the contingent world. It is a dispensation of Providence ordained by the Ordainer, the All-Wise.”                                                                Bahá’u’lláh

Understanding nature as a reflection of the majesty and an expression of the purpose of God inspires a deep respect for the natural world

“(W)hatever I behold I readily discover that it maketh Thee known unto me, and it remindeth me of Thy signs, and of Thy tokens, and of Thy testimonies. By Thy glory! Every time I lift up mine eyes unto Thy heaven, I call to mind Thy highness and Thy loftiness, and Thine incomparable glory and greatness; and every time I turn my gaze to Thine earth, I am made to recognize the evidences of Thy power and the tokens of Thy bounty. And when I behold the sea, I find that it speaketh to me of Thy majesty, and of the potency of Thy might, and of Thy sovereignty and Thy grandeur. And at whatever time I contemplate the mountains, I am led to discover the ensigns of Thy victory and the standards of Thine Omnipotence.”    Bahá’u’lláh

This attitude of respect is further reinforced by copious metaphorical references to the natural world woven throughout the Baha’i­ Scriptures. However, while nature is greatly valued and respected, it is not to be worshipped or adored.

Rather it is to serve the purpose given by God to the human race: to carry forward an ever-advancing civilization. In this regard, the Baha’i­ Faith promotes a world view that is neither bio-centric nor, strictly speaking, anthropocentric, but rather theocentric, with the Revelations of God at its center. Humankind, as it strives to carry out the Divine Will in this, the physical realm, is thus the trustee or steward of nature.

We are looking forward to seeing you at the event.
From the Bahá’í International Community website. Read more at: https://www.bic.org

Festival of Ridván Declaration of Bahá’u’lláh; Promised One of All Ages

Festival of Ridván is the twelve day period commemorating Bahá’u’lláh’s announcement of his claim to prophethood and his departure from Baghdad in 1863, observed from  20 April  to 1 May.

The first, ninth and twelfth days of Ridván are major Bahá’í Holy days on which work should be suspended. Bahá’í administrative elections are normally held during Ridvan as well. The name derives from the Najibiyyih Garden in Baghdad where Bahá’u’lláh stayed during this period and to which he gave the name Ridván meaning  Paradise.

On the first day  small group of followers and Bahá’u’lláh made it across the Tigris River and settled at the “Najibiyyih” garden where Bahá’u’lláh stayed for twelve days accompanied by His closest followers and friends before He departed to Constantinople (Istanbul) where He was being further exiled by the Ottoman Empire.

The closest friends and followers wept after giving farewell; after all Bahá’u’lláh had spend almost two years in Baghdad where He had won the love and respect of the citizens of Baghdad for His wisdom, guidance and exemplary character.

These twelve days are known by Bahá’ís the “Festival of Ridván” and it is celebrated all over the world with the same joy and happiness as the early believers did during those 12 days.  It is during this period that Bahá’u’lláh revealed to His followers and the world that He was the promised one of God foretold in all the Holy scriptures of the past. Bahá’u’lláh states: “He Who is the Desire of all nations hath shed upon the kingdoms of the unseen and of the seen the splendor of the light of His most excellent names, and enveloped them with the radiance of the luminaries of His most gracious favors – favors which none can reckon except Him.”

This is the Day  Baha’u’llah said where all the attributes of God have been cast over the entire creation; meaning, every human being is capable by the grace of God to mold his character and manifest the most sublimes qualities and attributes such as  justice, love, compassion and generosity.

For Bahá’ís this is an special occasion to show hospitality and love to their neighbors, friends and acquaintances; as they try to follow the beautiful example and the will of their beloved Bahá’u’lláh (The Glory of God).

As we go about our daily lives we remember the words written by Bahá’u’lláh before His departure commanding all of those who have recognized Him to attract the hearts of men through the word of God.    For that reason, Bahá’ís everywhere, invite their friends and acquaintances to small gatherings where they can to explore the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh and together built communities that can progress spiritually and materially.

Four portals of community development are offered as we try to build a new civilization: children classes, the junior youth program, devotional gatherings and the study circles. These are community building programs that essentially empower individuals to affect change by actively participating in the social transformation of their communities.

About the individual Bahá’u’lláh states:  “Regard man as a mine rich in gems of inestimable value. Education can, alone, cause it to reveal its treasures, and enable mankind to benefit therefrom.” Hence man is this inestimable gem that only through polishing will reveal its beauty. As a protagonist he is aware of himself; as he molds his spiritual life, he shapes its surrounding environment, as both are affected one by the other, that is the meaning of “worship and service”  in the Bahá’í Faith.

We are here in this plane of existence to carry forward an ever advancing civilization that can progress materially and spiritually.  Increasing capacity at the individual and community level is a way to build an equitable and just society avoiding the pit falls of “us” and “them” or the notion of “advantage” and “disadvantage” groups or individuals.

Revealing about the greatness of this Day Bahá’u’lláh said: “Verily I say, this is the Day in which mankind can behold the Face, and hear the Voice, of the Promised One. The Call of God hath been raised, and the light of His countenance hath been lifted up upon men. It behoveth every man to blot out the trace of every idle word from the tablet of his heart, and to gaze, with an open and unbiased mind, on the signs of His Revelation, the proofs of His Mission, and the tokens of His glory”.

Festival of Ridván May 1, 2017.
Festival of Ridván May 1, 2017.

We will be celebrating this great Festival on May 1, 2017. We  invite you to join us. Please drop us a line and RSVP by April 20, 2017.

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“Bahá’u’lláh – Manifestation of God for Our Time” presentation Sunday May 21, 2017

Continuing with the same theme of raising awareness about the Bahá’í Faith and Bahá’u’lláh, Ajax Bahá’í community would like to welcome our neighbors to another event this time focusing on the person of Bahá’u’lláh. A presentation is planned as a public events on Sunday May 21 from 2-4 PM, at the Ajax Main Library (Rotary room). The program includes a short presentation and viewing of very short documentaries and then an open floor discussion and sharing of thoughts on this theme.

Bahá’u’lláh (1817-1892) taught that there is one God Who, through a series of divine teachers, has revealed His immeasurable love for humanity and His will for human spiritual progress. These teachings have been the chief civilizing force in history. While the bulk of humanity has seen these successive divine revelations as separate, irreconcilable religious systems, Bahá’u’lláh taught that, in fact, they have all served the common purpose of bringing the human race to spiritual and moral maturity. The central theme of Bahá’u’lláh‘s message is that humanity is one single race and that the day promised by all the world’s religions for its unification into one global family has come. 

 “There can be no doubt whatever that the peoples of the world, of whatever race or religion, derive their inspiration from one heavenly Source, and are the subjects of one God.”                                                                   Bahá’u’lláh

Bahá’u’lláh was born a Persian prince, heir to great wealth and a position in the court of the shah. Because of His teachings, He was stripped of his title, tortured, imprisoned, and exiled from his homeland. Tens of thousands of the earliest believers were tortured and killed for believing that God had sent a new messenger to help humanity progress to a new level of spiritual development.  

Bahá'u'lláh's Exile- From Persia to Baghdad to Akka
Bahá’u’lláh’s Exile- From Persia to Baghdad to Akka

 

The persecution and sacrifices of those thousands drew the attention of the world, invoking admiration and comment from such contemporary figures as Leo Tolstoy and Sarah Bernhardt. During the forty years of his exile and imprisonment Bahá’u’lláh wrote over 100 volumes. These works constitute the foundation of the Bahá’í scriptures and the bedrock of the Bahá’í belief system. Bahá’u’lláh was eventually imprisoned in Akka, in what is now Israel.  

“The fundamental purpose animating the Faith of God and His Religion is to safeguard the interests and promote the unity of the human race, and to foster the spirit of love and fellowship amongst men.” Bahá’u’lláh

If we study the story of the “ascent of man” as recorded in the pages of history, it becomes evident that the leading factor in human progress is the advent, from time to time, of persons who pass beyond the accepted ideas of their day and become the discoverers and revealers of truths hitherto unknown among mankind. The inventor, the pioneer, the genius, the Prophet — these are the people on whom the transformation of world primarily depends.  

In the history of science, of art, of music, we see abundant illustrations of this truth, but in no domain is the supreme importance of the great person and his message more clearly evident than in that of religion. All down the ages, whenever the spiritual life of humanity has become degenerate and their morals corrupt, that most wonderful Prophet, makes His appearance. Alone against the world, without a single human being capable of teaching, of guiding, of fully understanding Him, or of sharing His responsibility, He arises, like a seer among blind men, to proclaim His gospel of righteousness and truth.  

Amongst the Prophets some stand out with special pre-eminence. Every few centuries a great Divine Revealer — a Krishna, a Zoroaster, a Moses, a Jesus, a Muhammad — appears in the East, like a spiritual Sun, to illumine the darkened minds of men and awaken their dormant souls. Whatever our views as to the relative greatness of these religion-founders we must admit that They have been the most potent factors in the education of mankind.  

With one accord these Prophets declare that the words They utter are not from “Themselves, but are a Revelation through Them, a Divine message of which They are the bearers. Their recorded utterances abound, too, in hints and promises of a great world teacher Who will appear “in the fullness of time” to carry on Their work and bring it to fruition, One Who will establish a reign of peace and justice upon earth, and bring into one family all races, religions, nations, and tribes, that “there may be one fold and one shepherd” and that all may know and love God “from the least even unto the greatest.”  

nature_waterfall

Surely the advent of this “Educator of Mankind,” in the latter days, when He appears, must be the greatest event in human history. And the Bahá’í Movement is proclaiming to the world the glad tidings that this Educator has in fact appeared, that His Revelation has been delivered and recorded and may be studied by every earnest seeker, that the “Day of the Lord” has already dawned and the “Sun or Righteousness” arisen. Some on the mountaintops have caught sight of the Glorious Orb, but already its rays are illumining heaven and earth, and erelong it will rise above the mountains and shine with full strength on the plains and valleys too, giving life and guidance to all. Invitation Public Event May 21 2017

For further reading please go to http://www.bahai.org/beliefs/god-his-creation/revelation/manifestations-god 

 We are looking forward to seeing you at the event.

 

 

(Material referenced from various Baha’i sources)

Community Building Concept – A Baha’i Perspective Presentation April 2, 2017

All across Canada, individuals are engaged in a process to advance their spiritual, social and intellectual development and to contribute to the development of their communities.

The activities at the heart of this process are meetings that

Public Event April 2 2017, at Ajax Main Library
Public Event April 2 2017, at Ajax Main Library

strengthen the devotional character of the community, classes that nurture the tender hearts of children, groups that assist junior youth to navigate through a crucial stage of their lives, and study circles that foster the understanding and application of the Baha’i teachings to individual and collective life.

These activities are offered by Bahá’í communities around the world and they involve people of all ages and backgrounds, regardless of religion, who share a common purpose: to promote the welfare and wellbeing of the whole

“The Path Home” is a documentary film commissioned by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Canada to honour all those who have helped the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in meeting its noble purpose over the past six years.

 

"The Path Home documentary"
“The Path Home documentary”

 

The reflections in the film touch on spiritual insights that we offer with humility as a small contribution to furthering the processes of truth and reconciliation currently underway in Canada.

(Content from Building community website of Baha’i community of Canada)

“Bahá’í Vision of Society – Oneness of Humanity” Presentation March 18, 2017

This is one more in series of public events that our community is offering this year to our neighbors in Ajax.  The event is on Saturday March 18  from 2-4 PM, at the Ajax Main Library (Rotary room). The program includes a short presentation and viewing of very short documentaries and then an open floor discussion and sharing of thoughts on such a profound subject.

A fundamental teaching of Bahá’u’lláh is the oneness of the world of humanity. Addressing mankind He says: “Ye are all leaves of one tree and the fruits of one branch.”

“..In the eyes of the Creator all His children are equal; His goodness is poured forth on all. He does not favor this nation nor that nation, all alike are His creatures. This being so, why should we make divisions, separating one race from another? Why should we create barriers of superstition and tradition bringing discord and hatred among the people?

The only difference between members of the human family is that of degree. Some are like children who are ignorant, and must be educated until they arrive at maturity. Some are like the sick and must be treated with tenderness and care. None are bad or evil! We must not be repelled by these poor children. We must treat them with great kindness, teaching the ignorant and tenderly nursing the sick.

Public Event March 18 2017 at Ajax Main Library
Public Event March 18 2017 at Ajax Main Library

Consider: Unity is necessary to existence. Love is the very cause of life; on the other hand, separation brings death. In the world of material creation, for instance, all things owe their actual life to unity. The elements which compose wood, mineral, or stone, are held together by the law of attraction. If this law should cease for one moment to operate these elements would not hold together, they would fall apart, and the object would in that particular form cease to exist. The law of attraction has brought together certain elements in the form of this beautiful flower, but when that attraction is withdrawn from this centre the flower will decompose, and, as a flower, cease to exist.

So it is with the great body of humanity. The wonderful Law of Attraction, Harmony and Unity, holds together this marvelous Creation.

As with the whole, so with the parts; whether a flower or a human body, when the attracting principle is withdrawn from it, the flower or the man dies. It is therefore clear that attraction, harmony, unity and Love, are the cause of life, whereas repulsion, discord, hatred and separation bring death.

We have seen that whatever brings division into the world of existence causes death. Likewise in the world of the spirit does the same law operate.

Therefore should every servant of the One God be obedient to the law of love, avoiding all hatred, discord, and strife. We find when we observe nature, that the gentler animals group themselves together into flocks and herds, whereas the savage, ferocious creatures, such as the lion, the tiger, and the wolf, live in wild forests, apart from civilization. Two wolves, or two lions, may live amicably together; but a thousand lambs may share the same fold and a large number of deer can form one herd. Two eagles can dwell in the same place, but a thousand doves can gather into one habitation.

Man should, at least, be numbered among the gentler animals; but when he becomes ferocious he is more cruel and malicious than the most savage of the animal creation!

Now Bahá’u’lláh has proclaimed the ‘Unity of the World of Mankind’. All peoples and nations are of one family, the children of one Father, and should be to one another as brothers and sisters! I hope that you will endeavour in your lives to show forth and spread this teaching.

Bahá’u’lláh said that we should love even our enemies and be to them as friends. If all men were obedient to this principle, the greatest unity and understanding would be established in the hearts of mankind.”

(‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Paris Talks, Pages: 138-140)

 

Exile of Bahá’u’lláh

Exile
Map showing route of Bahá'u'lláh' s forced exile from His home
Map showing route of Bahá’u’lláh’ s forced exile from His home

Eventually, still without trial or recourse, Bahá’u’lláh was released from prison and immediately banished from His native land, His wealth and properties arbitrarily confiscated. The Russian diplomatic representative, who knew Him personally and who had followed the Bábí persecutions with growing distress, offered Him his protection and refuge in lands under the control of his government. In the prevailing political climate, acceptance of such help would almost certainly have been misrepresented by others as having political implications. Perhaps for this reason, Bahá’u’lláh chose to accept banishment to the neighboring territory of Iraq, then under the rule of the Ottoman Empire. This expulsion was the beginning of forty years of exile, imprisonment, and bitter persecution.

Baghdad-Tigris River
Baghdad-Tigris River
In the years which immediately followed His departure from Persia, Bahá’u’lláh gave priority to the needs of the Bábí community which had gathered in Baghdad, a task which had devolved on Him as the only effective Bábí leader to have survived the massacres. The death of the Báb and the almost simultaneous loss of most of the young faith’s teachers and guides had left the body of the believers scattered and demoralized. When His efforts to rally those who had fled to Iraq aroused jealousy and dissension, mountains-bahaullah_282He followed the path that had been taken by all of the Messengers of God gone before Him, and withdrew to the wilderness, choosing for the purpose the mountain region of Kurdistan. His withdrawal, as He later said, had “contemplated no return.” Its reason “was to avoid becoming a subject of discord among the faithful, a source of disturbance unto Our companions.” Although the two years spent in Kurdistan were a period of intense privation and physical hardship, Bahá’u’lláh describes them as a time of profound happiness during which He reflected deeply on the message entrusted to Him: “Alone, We communed with Our spirit, oblivious of the world and all that is therein.”

Only with great reluctance, believing it His responsibility to the cause of the Báb, did He eventually accede to urgent messages from the remnant of the desperate group of exiles in Baghdad who had discovered His whereabouts and appealed to Him to return and assume the leadership of their community.

Pen-of-Bahá’u’lláh
Pen-of-Bahá’u’lláh

Two of the most important volumes of Bahá’u’lláh’s writings date from this first period of exile, preceding the declaration of His mission in 1863. The first of these is a small book which He named The Hidden Words. Written in the form of a compilation of moral aphorisms, the volume represents the ethical heart of Bahá’u’lláh’s message. hidden-wordsIn verses which Bahá’u’lláh describes as a distillation of the spiritual guidance of all the Revelations of the past, the voice of God speaks directly to the human soul:

“O Son of Spirit!  The best beloved of all things in My sight is Justice; turn not away therefrom if thou desirest Me, and neglect it not that I may confide in thee. By its aid thou shalt see with thine own eyes and not through the eyes of others, and shalt know of thine own knowledge and not through the knowledge of thy neighbor. Ponder this in thy heart; how it behooveth thee to be. Verily justice is My gift to thee and the sign of My loving-kindness. Set it then before thine eyes. “
 
“O Son of Being!  Love Me that I may love thee. If thou lovest Me not, My love can in no wise reach thee. Know this, O servant. “
 
O Son of Man!  Sorrow not save that thou art far from Us. Rejoice not save that thou art drawing near and returning unto Us.…
 
“O Son of Being! With the hands of power I made thee and with the fingers of strength I created thee; and within thee have I placed the essence of My light. Be thou content with it and seek naught else, for My work is perfect and My command is binding. Question it not, nor have a doubt thereof.” 

The second of the two major works composed by Bahá’u’lláh during this period is The Book of Certitude, book-of-certitudea comprehensive exposition of the nature and purpose of religion. In passages that draw not only on the Qur’án, but with equal facility and insight on the Old and New Testaments, the Messengers of God are depicted as agents of a single, unbroken process, the awakening of the human race to its spiritual and moral potentialities. A humanity which has come of age can respond to a directness of teaching that goes beyond the language of parable and allegory; faith is a matter not of blind belief, but of conscious knowledge. Nor is the guidance of an ecclesiastical elite any longer required: the gift of reason confers on each individual in this new age of enlightenment and education the capacity to respond to Divine guidance. The test is that of sincerity:

“No man shall attain the shores of the ocean of true understanding except he be detached from all that is in heaven and on earth.… The essence of these words is this: they that tread the path of faith, they that thirst for the wine of certitude, must cleanse themselves of all that is earthly—their ears from idle talk, their minds from vain imaginings, their hearts from worldly affections, their eyes from that which perisheth. They should put their trust in God, and, holding fast unto Him, follow in His way. Then will they be made worthy of the effulgent glories of the sun of divine knowledge and understanding, … inasmuch as man can never hope to attain unto the knowledge of the All-Glorious … unless and until he ceases to regard the words and deeds of mortal men as a standard for the true understanding and recognition of God and His Prophets. Consider the past. How many, both high and low, have, at all times, yearningly awaited the advent of the Manifestations of God in the sanctified persons of His chosen Ones.… And whensoever the portals of grace did open, and the clouds of divine bounty did rain upon mankind, and the light of the Unseen did shine above the horizon of celestial might, they all denied Him, and turned away from His face—the face of God Himself.… Only when the lamp of search, of earnest striving, of longing desire, of passionate devotion, of fervid love, of rapture, and ecstasy, is kindled within the seeker’s heart, and the breeze of His lovingkindness is wafted upon his soul, will the darkness of error be dispelled, the mists of doubts and misgivings be dissipated, and the lights of knowledge and certitude envelop his being.… Then will the manifold favors and outpouring grace of the holy and everlasting Spirit confer such new life upon the seeker that he will find himself endowed with a new eye, a new ear, a new heart, and a new mind.… Gazing with the eye of God, he will perceive within every atom a door that leadeth him to the stations of absolute certitude. He will discover in all things the … evidences of an everlasting Manifestation. …When the channel of the human soul is cleansed of all worldly and impeding attachments, it will unfailingly perceive the breath of the Beloved across immeasurable distances, and will, led by its perfume, attain and enter the City of Certitude.… …That city is none other than the Word of God revealed in every age and dispensation.… All the guidance, the blessings, the learning, the understanding, the faith, and certitude, conferred upon all that is in heaven and on earth, are hidden and treasured within these Cities”

Though living in very straitened material circumstances, the exiles were galvanized by this vision. One of their company, a man called Nabíl, who was later to leave a detailed history of both the ministries of the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh, has described the spiritual intensity of those days:Many a night no less than ten persons subsisted on no more than a pennyworth of dates. No one knew to whom actually belonged the shoes, the cloaks, or the robes that were to be found in their houses. Whoever went to the bazaar could claim that the shoes upon his feet were his own, and each one who entered the presence of Bahá’u’lláh could affirm that the cloak and robe he then wore belonged to him.… O, for the joy of those days, and the gladness and wonder of those hours!

To the dismay of the Persian consular authorities who had believed the Bábí “episode” to have run its course, the community of exiles gradually became a respected and influential element in Iraq’s provincial capital and the neighboring towns.

(Ref: part of statement prepared by the Bahá’í International Community Office of Public Information)

Birth of a New Revelation 

Birth of a New Revelation

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Bahá’u’lláh’s mission began in a subterranean dungeon in Teheran in August 1852. Born into a noble family that could trace its ancestry back to the great dynasties of Persia’s imperial past, He declined the ministerial career open to Him in government, and chose instead to devote His energies to a range of philanthropies which had, by the early 1840s, earned Him widespread renown as “Father of the Poor.” This privileged existence swiftly eroded after 1844, when Bahá’u’lláh became one of the leading advocates of a movement that was to change the course of His country’s history. The early nineteenth century was a period of messianic expectations in many lands. Deeply disturbed by the implications of scientific inquiry and industrialization, earnest believers from many religious backgrounds turned to the scriptures of their faiths for an understanding of the accelerating processes of change. In Europe and America groups like the Templers and the Millerites believed they had found in the Christian scriptures evidence supporting their conviction that history had ended and the return of Jesus Christ was at hand. A markedly similar ferment developed in the Middle East around the belief that the fulfillment of various prophecies in the Qur’án and Islamic Traditions was imminent. By far the most dramatic of these millennialist movements had been the one in Persia, which had focused on the person and teachings of a young merchant from the city of Shiraz, known to history as the Báb. For nine years, from 1844 to 1853, Persians of all classes had been caught up in a storm of hope and excitement aroused by the Báb’s announcement that the Day of God was at hand and that He was himself the One promised in Islamic scripture.

Humanity stood, He said, on the threshold of an era that would witness the restructuring of all aspects of life. New fields of learning, as yet inconceivable, would permit even the children of the new age to surpass the most erudite of nineteenth-century scholars. The human race was called by God to embrace these changes through undertaking a transformation of its moral and spiritual life. His own mission was to prepare humanity for the event that lay at the heart of these developments, the coming of that universal Messenger of God, “He Whom God will make manifest,” awaited by the followers of all religions. The claim had evoked violent hostility from the Muslim clergy, who taught that the process of Divine Revelation had ended with Muḥammad; and that any assertion to the contrary represented apostasy, punishable by death. Their denunciation of the Báb had soon enlisted the support of the Persian authorities. Thousands of followers of the new faith had perished in a horrific series of massacres throughout the country, and the Báb had been publicly executed on July 9, 1850.

In an age of growing Western involvement in the Orient, these events had aroused interest and compassion in influential European circles. The nobility of the Báb’s life and teachings, the heroism of His followers, and the hope for fundamental reform that they had kindled in a darkened land had exerted a powerful attraction for personalities ranging from Ernest Renan and Leo Tolstoy to Sarah Bernhardt and the Comte de Gobineau. Because of His prominence in the defense of the Báb’s cause, Bahá’u’lláh was arrested and brought, in chains and on foot, to Teheran. Protected in some measure by an impressive personal reputation and the social position of His family, as well as by protests which the Bábí pogroms had evoked from Western embassies, He was not sentenced to death, as influential figures at the royal court were urging. Instead, He was cast into the notorious Síyáh-Chál, the “Black Pit”, a deep, vermin-infested dungeon which had been created in one of the city’s abandoned reservoirs. siyah-chalNo charges were laid but He and some thirty companions were, without appeal, kept immured in the darkness and filth of this pit, surrounded by hardened criminals, many of them under sentence of death.

Around Bahá’u’lláh’s neck was clamped a heavy chain, so notorious in penal circles as to have been given its own name. When He did not quickly perish, as had been expected, an attempt was made to poison Him. The marks of the chain were to remain on His body for the rest of His life. Central to Bahá’u’lláh’s writings is an exposition of the great themes which have preoccupied religious thinkers throughout the ages: God, the role of Revelation in history, the relationship of the world’s religious systems to one another, the meaning of faith, and the basis of moral authority in the organization of human society. Passages in these texts speak intimately of His own spiritual experience, of His response to the Divine summons, and of the dialogue with the “Spirit of God” which lay at the heart of His mission. Religious history has never before offered the inquirer the opportunity for so candid an encounter with the phenomenon of Divine Revelation. Toward the end of His life, Bahá’u’lláh’s writings on His early experiences included a brief description of the conditions in the Síyáh-Chál.

We were consigned for four months to a place foul beyond comparison.… The dungeon was wrapped in thick darkness, and Our fellow-prisoners numbered nearly a hundred and fifty souls: thieves, assassins and highwaymen. Though crowded, it had no other outlet than the passage by which We entered. No pen can depict that place, nor any tongue describe its loathsome smell. Most of these men had neither clothes nor bedding to lie on. God alone knoweth what befell Us in that most foulsmelling and gloomy place!

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Each day the guards would descend the three steep flights of stairs of the pit, seize one or more of the prisoners, and drag them out to be executed. In the streets of Teheran, Western observers were appalled by scenes of Bábí victims blown from cannon mouths, hacked to death by axes and swords, and led to their deaths with burning candles inserted into open wounds in their bodies. It was in these circumstances, and faced with the prospect of His own imminent death, that Bahá’u’lláh received the first intimation of His mission:

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.”

 

(Ref: part of statement prepared by the Bahá’í International Community Office of Public Information)