Founders of the Divine Religions
Section Ten:

Part One:

by NJB

“So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth.”
(“Gleanings”, p. 288)

Index to this page:

Childhood and education [index]

Mírzá Husayn-‘Alíy-i-Núrí, Whom the world knows as Bahá’u’lláh (Arabic for the “Glory of God”), was born at dawn on the 12th of November 1817 AD (2nd of Muharram 1233 AH), in Tihrán, the capital of Persia (modern day Irán). He came from a noble and respectable family in Mázindarán, and was descended from the pre-Islámic monarchs of Persia. His father was Mírzá ‘Abbás-i-Núrí, who came from the village of Tákur, in the district of Núr, in the province of Mázindarán. He came to be known as Mírzá Buzurg-i-Vazír. This was because the Sháh (king) was one day shown a piece of beautiful handwriting from a celebrated calligrapher. He wondered if any living person could produce something that would match it. Mírzá ‘Abbás’s name was mentioned. He not only copied the original piece of work but also added to it and his work was presented to the Sháh. He thus became a vizier to the twelfth son of the Sháh. (see: Hasan Balyuzi: “Bahá’u’lláh - the King of Glory”, pp. 8-12)

Mírzá Buzurg had seven wives, three of whom were concubines. Bahá’u’lláh was the son of his second wife, Khadíjih Khánum. As a child, Bahá’u’lláh was a cause of astonishment to His mother. He never cried or showed restlessness. Mírzá Buzurg soon realised that Bahá’u’lláh was not like his other children. As a child, Bahá’u’lláh had a dream in which huge birds flew overhead and tried to attack Him, but they could not harm Him. Then He went into the sea and was attacked by fish, but they could not cause Him any harm. His father sent for an interpreter of dreams. He was told by the dream interpreter that the sea was the world and the birds and fish were the peoples of the world attacking his Son, because He would teach something of vital importance to the world. But they would not be able to harm Him, because He would triumph over them all. (see: Balyuzi, p. 13, 19-20)

He was given only the most basic of education. Members of noble houses were taught riding, handling a gun, wielding a sword, calligraphy, classical poetry and a reading knowledge of the Qur’án. They were taught by tutors who were paid for by their parents in order to teach them proper manners. Bahá’u’lláh said: “The learning current amongst men I studied not; their schools I entered not.” (“The Summons of the Lord of Hosts”, p. 36) As Bahá’u’lláh grew up fame of His keen intelligence and benevolent nature spread. He showed acute understanding, absolute mastery of argument and exposition and tremendous patience and compassion. His only occupation was assisting the poor and needy. He spent His time roaming the countryside and enjoying nature. (see: Balyuzi: pp. 20-21, 39)

Breaking of the Dawn [index]

Then the dawn broke and a new Revelation from God spread its light upon the world. Siyyid ‘Alí-Muhammad, known as the Báb (Arabic for “Gate”), declared that He was the Promised One of Islám. He was the Mahdí, the Qá’im of the House of Muhammad. Muslims had for more than a thousand years longed for the day of His appearance. But as Muhammad and His Imáms (the successors of Muhammad) had predicted, the people of the day would reject Him and deny His Cause.

The Báb declared His Mission on the evening of the 22nd of May 1844 AD (5th of Jamádíyu’l-Avval 1260 AH). His first eighteen disciples began to teach the Message across Persia. The most important theme in the Writings of the Báb was the coming of “He Whom God Shall Make Manifest”. This Promised One was to bring an even greater Revelation than His own. Shí‘ah Muslims expected the Return of Imám Husayn and Sunní Muslims expected the Return of the Spirit (Jesus Christ). This was the One Whose advent the Báb had come to announce. The Báb was like John the Baptist, announcing the good-tidings that the Messiah was about to come. However, unlike John, the Báb Himself was an independent Manifestation of God Who brought a new holy Book (the Bayán) and teachings.

Bahá’u’lláh says:

“John, son of Zacharias, said what My Forerunner hath said: "Saying, repent ye, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand. I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He that cometh after Me is mightier than I, Whose shoes I am not worthy to bear." Wherefore, hath My Forerunner, as a sign of submissiveness and humility, said: "The whole of the Bayán is only a leaf amongst the leaves of His Paradise." And likewise, He saith: "I am the first to adore Him, and pride Myself on My kinship with Him."” (Bahá’u’lláh: “Epistle to the Son of the Wolf”, p. 158)

The first disciple of the Báb was named Mullá Husayn, who was present when the Báb declared His Mission. When the Báb departed for Mecca, He entrusted a special mission to Mullá Husayn, to deliver a message to the capital city of Tihrán. The Báb said: “Beseech almighty Providence that He may graciously enable you to attain, in that capital, the seat of true sovereignty, and to enter the mansion of the Beloved. A secret lies hidden in that city. When made manifest, it shall turn the earth into paradise. My hope is that you may partake of its grace and recognize its splendour.” (see: Balyuzi: p. 33)

Eventually he came to meet a theological student named Mullá Muhammad-i-Mu‘allim. Mullá Husayn asked him his name and city of origin. He said:

“‘My name,’ I replied, ‘is Mullá Muhammad, and my surname Mu‘allim. My home is Núr, in the province of Mázindarán.’ ‘Tell me,’ further inquired Mullá Husayn, ‘is there today among the family of Mírzá Buzurg-i-Núrí, who was so renowned for his character, his charm, and artistic and intellectual attainments, anyone who has proved himself capable of maintaining the high traditions of that illustrious house?’ ‘Yes,’ I replied, ‘among his sons now living, one has distinguished Himself by the very traits which characterised His father. By His virtuous life, His high attainments, His loving-kindness and liberality, He has proved Himself a noble descendant of a noble father.’ ‘What is His occupation?’ he asked me. ‘He cheers the disconsolate and feeds the hungry,’ I replied. ‘What of His rank and position?’ ‘He has none,’ I said, ‘apart from befriending the poor and the stranger.’ ‘What is His name?’ ‘Husayn-‘Alí.’ ‘In which of the scripts of His father does He excel?’ ‘His favourite script is shikastih-nasta‘líq.’ ‘How does He spend His time?’ ‘He roams the woods and delights in the beauties of the countryside.’ ‘What is His age?’ ‘Eight and twenty.’” (see: Balyuzi: pp. 35-36)

Mullá Husayn gave Mullá Muhammad a scroll wrapped in a piece of cloth and asked him to give it to Bahá’u’lláh at the hour of dawn. He was met by Mírzá Músá, the brother of Bahá’u’lláh. He presented the scroll to Mírzá Músá, who laid it out before Bahá’u’lláh. Bahá’u’lláh unfolded the scroll, glanced at its contents and began to read aloud some of the passages. Having read a page of the scroll He turned to His brother and said:

“Músá, what have you to say? Verily I say, whoso believes in the Qur’án and recognizes its Divine origin, and yet hesitates, though it be for a moment, to admit that these soul-stirring words are endowed with the same regenerating power, has most assuredly erred in his judgement and has strayed far from the path of justice.” (see: Balyuzi: p. 36)

Bahá’u’lláh became a Bábí (follower of the Báb) and arose to promote the Cause of God. His first journey was to His homeland of Mázindarán. There the Faith quickly spread but also received hostility from the Muslim clergy. (see: Balyuzi: p. 39)

The Conference of Badasht [index]

Bahá’u’lláh arranged a gathering at a small hamlet named Badasht to consider the means of emancipating the Báb from His imprisonment in Chihríq. This was a subsidiary purpose and was not meant to succeed. In reality, this Conference, unprecedented in the annals of religious history, was intended to establish that the Bábí Faith was a new religion, not a sect of Islám, and that it must make a dramatic break with the past. The priesthood, the traditions and ceremonials of Islám were all superseded by a new Revelation of God. Bahá’u’lláh rented three gardens: one for Hájí Mullá Muhammad-‘Aliy-i-Bárfurúshí, the last of the eighteen Letters of the Living (the first disciples of the Báb); one for Qurratu’l-‘Ayn, the only female Letter of the Living and one for Bahá’u’lláh Himself. There were eighty-one Bábís gathered at the Conference. Bahá’u’lláh gave each person a new name. Mírzá Husayn-‘Alí (Bahá’u’lláh) was henceforth known as Bahá. He gave the last Letter of the Living the name Quddús, and Qurratu’l-‘Ayn was given the name Táhirih (the Pure). (see: Balyuzi: pp. 43-44)

It was Táhirih who made the boldest move in the Conference of Badasht. For more than 1,200 years Middle Eastern women were forced wear the veil. Womens’ heads were covered and they were regarded as being inferior to men. Women were disadvantaged across the world. The concept of the equality of men and women had not yet been revealed by God. And then, at this Conference, in the summer of 1848, Táhirih appeared before the Bábís with her veil removed. Fear and confusion spread among some of the believers. One of them even cut his own throat and rushed from the Conference. Quddús was furious, but she addressed the Conference with matchless eloquence. At last she uttered a quote from the Qur’án:

“Verily, amid gardens and rivers shall the pious dwell in the seat of truth, in the presence of the potent King.” Immediately after, she declared: “I am the Word which the Qá’im is to utter, the Word which shall put to flight the chiefs and nobles of the earth!” The emancipation of women had begun. (see: Balyuzi: pp. 43-45)

Bahá’u’lláh had a verse from the fifty-sixth súrih of the Qur’án (“the Terror” or “the Event”) read before the assemblage of Bábís:

“When the event that must come shall have come suddenly,
None shall treat that sudden coming as a lie:
Day that shall abase! Day that shall exalt!
When the earth shall be shaken with a shock,
And the mountains shall be crumbled with a crumbling,
And shall become scattered dust,
And into three bands shall ye be divided:
Then the people of the right hand — Oh! how happy shall be the people of the right hand!
And the people of the left hand — Oh! how wretched shall be the people of the left hand!
And they who were foremost on earth — the foremost still.
These are they who shall be brought nigh to God,
In gardens of delight... ”

Then the faithful Bábís who remained realised in these words that the Day of Resurrection had come to pass. The conflict between Táhirih and Quddús had been a God-sent test to distinguish the true believer from the false. The Author of this great event was none other than Bahá’u’lláh Himself. The mountains of accepted traditions and beliefs had been shaken to dust and a new life was given to the faithful. (see: Balyuzi: pp. 45-47)

The Martyrdom of the Báb [index]

In December 1848, Bahá’u’lláh set out with a group of Bábís to visit Shaykh Tabarsí, where the Bábís were besieged by government forces. By this time the government had gone out of its way to exterminate the new religion. However, Bahá’u’lláh and His companions were arrested only nine miles from Shaykh Tabarsí. When it was discovered that Bahá’u’lláh was a follower of the Báb, the priests said that He should be bastinadoed (beaten on the feet). The Deputy-Governor was embarrassed by the divines and said that only Bahá’u’lláh’s companions should be punished. Bahá’u’lláh intervened and requested that the punishment be inflicted on Him instead. (see: Balyuzi: pp. 56-60)

Bahá’u’lláh described this imprisonment: “While confined in the prison of the Land of Mím (Mázindarán) We were one day delivered into the hands of the divines. Thou canst well imagine what befell Us.” (Bahá’u’lláh: “Epistle to the Son of the Wolf”, p. 77)

The Báb was imprisoned in the fortress of Chihríq. An officer was sent to bring Him to Tabríz, where He was to suffer martyrdom at the hands of the oppressors. Nabíl in his narrative relates:

“Forty days before the arrival of that officer at Chihríq, the Báb collected all the documents and Tablets in His possession and, placing them, with His pen-case, His seals, and agate rings, in a coffer, entrusted them to the care of Mullá Báqir, one of the Letters of the Living. To him He also delivered a letter addressed to Mírzá Ahmad, His amanuensis, to which He enclosed the key to that coffer. He urged him to take the utmost care of that trust, emphasized the sacredness of its character, and bade him conceal its contents from anyone except Mírzá Ahmad... Ere he departed, he informed us that all he could divulge of that letter was the injunction that the trust was to be delivered into the hands of Jináb-i-Bahá in Tihrán.” (Nabíl: “The Dawn-Breakers”: pp. 370-371)

Jináb-i-Bahá was the title of Bahá’u’lláh at that time. The Báb had delivered these precious objects to His Beloved. The Báb’s mission was now ending, and the mission of Bahá’u’lláh was going to begin. The Báb was martyred at noon on Sunday, the 9th of July 1850 AD (28th of Sha‘bán 1266 AH). (see: Nabíl: p. 377) The remains of the Báb and His companion were secured by Hájí Sulaymán Khán, and, under Bahá’u’lláh’s direction, were brought to Tihrán and concealed. They are now buried in the Shrine of the Báb on Mount Carmel, in Haifa, Israel. (see: Balyuzi: pp. 65)

The Black Pit [index]

There was a group of eccentric Bábís who felt that the Sháh was responsible for the Báb’s death and plotted to kill him. A group of three Bábís made an attempt on the Sháh’s life. Their only weapons were short daggers and pistols that fired pellets. On Sunday, the 15th of August 1852, the three assassins tried to drag the Sháh from his horse and inflicted minor pellet wounds on him. When the Sháh’s retinue reached him to protect him, one of the assassins was cut into two. Another of the companions refused to speak under torture, so molten lead was poured down his throat. The third was also killed. There was an outcry in the capital and the Bábí Faith as a whole was blamed for the attempted assassination. Eighty-one innocent Bábís were arrested and thrown into the notorious Síyáh-Chál, the Black Pit. (see: Balyuzi: pp. 74-77)

Bahá’u’lláh was in Tihrán at the time and was warned of the danger facing the Bábís, but He remained calm and composed. His friends offered to hide Him, but instead, He actually rode towards the royal quarters. The Sháh immediately ordered His arrest. On the road to Síyáh-Chál a large crowd gathered. They insulted and jeered Him along the way as He proceeded to the terrible dungeon. The crowd pelted Him with stones, and an old woman who couldn’t keep up called out, ‘Give me a chance to fling my stone in His face.’ Bahá’u’lláh turned to the guards and said: ‘Suffer not this woman to be disappointed. Deny her not what she regards as a meritorious act in the sight of God.’ (Balyuzi: pp. 77-78)

Bahá’u’lláh speaks of His arrest and confinement:

“By the righteousness of God! We were in no wise connected with that evil deed, and Our innocence was indisputably established by the tribunals. Nevertheless, they apprehended Us, and from Níyávarán, which was then the residence of His Majesty, conducted Us, on foot and in chains, with bared head and bare feet, to the dungeon of Tihrán. A brutal man, accompanying Us on horseback, snatched off Our hat, whilst We were being hurried along by a troop of executioners and officials. We were consigned for four months to a place foul beyond comparison. As to the dungeon in which this Wronged One and others similarly wronged were confined, a dark and narrow pit were preferable. Upon Our arrival We were first conducted along a pitch-black corridor, from whence We descended three steep flights of stairs to the place of confinement assigned to Us. 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 foul-smelling and gloomy place!” (Bahá’u’lláh: “Epistle to the Son of the Wolf”, pp. 20-21)

For four months He was confined in the Black Pit, a subterranean dungeon. Few survived in that dark, damp and dismal place. All the Bábís that could be found in the capital were herded together and chained. Around Bahá’u’lláh’s neck was placed an extremely heavy chain. Its weight bent His whole body. (see: Balyuzi, p. 79)

Bahá’u’lláh describes these chains:

“Shouldst thou at sometime happen to visit the dungeon of His Majesty the Sháh, ask the director and chief jailer to show thee those two chains, one of which is known as Qará-Guhar, and the other as Salásil. I swear by the Day-Star of Justice that for four months this Wronged One was tormented and chained by one or the other of them. "My grief exceedeth all the woes to which Jacob gave vent, and all the afflictions of Job are but a part of My sorrows!"” (Bahá’u’lláh: “Epistle to the Son of the Wolf”, p. 77)

His body was to forever bear the marks of that cruel torture. Qará-Guhar weighed 51 kilograms. (see: Peter Smith: “A Concise Encyclopedia of the Bahá’í Faith”, p. 323)

Bahá’u’lláh, quoted in Nabíl’s narrative, speaks of those days:

“We were all huddled together in one cell, our feet in stocks, and around our necks fastened the most galling of chains. The air we breathed was laden with the foulest impurities, while the floor on which we sat was covered with filth and infested with vermin. No ray of light was allowed to penetrate that pestilential dungeon or to warm its icy coldness. We were placed in two rows, each facing the other. We had taught them to repeat certain verses which, every night, they chanted with extreme fervour. ‘God is sufficient unto me; He verily is the All-Sufficing!’ one row would intone, while the other would reply: ‘In Him let the trusting trust.’ The chorus of these gladsome voices would continue to peal out until the early hours of the morning. Their reverberation would fill the dungeon, and, piercing its massive walls, would reach the ears of Násiri’d-Dín Sháh, whose palace was not far distant from the place where we were imprisoned. ‘What means this sound?’ he was reported to have exclaimed. ‘It is the anthem the Bábís are intoning in their prison,’ they replied. The Sháh made no further remarks, nor did he attempt to restrain the enthusiasm his prisoners, despite the horrors of their confinement, continued to display...

“Every day Our gaolers, entering Our cell, would call the name of one of Our companions, bidding him arise and follow them to the foot of the gallows. With what eagerness would the owner of that name respond to that solemn call! Relieved of his chains, he would spring to his feet and, in a state of uncontrollable delight, would approach and embrace Us. We would seek to comfort him with the assurance of an ever-lasting life in the world beyond, and, filling his heart with hope and joy, would send him forth to win the crown of glory. He would embrace, in turn, the rest of his fellow-prisoners, and then proceed to die as dauntlessly as he had lived. Soon after the martyrdom of each of these companions, We would be informed by the executioner, who had grown to be friendly with Us, of the circumstances of the death of his victim, and of the joy with which he had endured his sufferings to the end.” (Nabíl: pp. 462-463)

The Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh [index]

It was in that tormenting abode that the Bahá’í Revelation was born. It was in that terrible darkness that Mírzá Husayn-‘Alí became the Light, the Splendour, the Glory of God, Bahá’u’lláh. The prisoners of Síyáh-Chál were condemned, one by one, to death. The Bábí Faith seemed to be close to extinction. It’s Author had ascended to His heavenly abode and they were left without a direction. And at that time the one Whom the Báb had prophesied arose, ‘He Whom God Shall Make Manifest’, Bahá’u’lláh. Moses had seen the Burning Bush, Christ the Dove of heaven and Muhammad had seen the Archangel Gabriel. Unique in the religious annals of mankind, Bahá’u’lláh Himself described this holy event:

“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." ...

“During the days I lay in the prison of Tihrán, though the galling weight of the chains and the stench-filled air allowed Me but little sleep, still in those infrequent moments of slumber I felt as if something flowed from the crown of My head over My breast, even as a mighty torrent that precipitateth itself upon the earth from the summit of a lofty mountain. Every limb of My body would, as a result, be set afire. At such moments My tongue recited what no man could bear to hear.” (Bahá’u’lláh: “Epistle to the Son of the Wolf”, p. 21-22)

“While engulfed in tribulations I heard a most wondrous, a most sweet voice, calling above My head. Turning My face, I beheld a Maiden—the embodiment of the remembrance of the name of My Lord—suspended in the air before Me. So rejoiced was she in her very soul that her countenance shone with the ornament of the good-pleasure of God, and her cheeks glowed with the brightness of the All-Merciful. Betwixt earth and heaven she was raising a call which captivated the hearts and minds of men. She was imparting to both My inward and outer being tidings which rejoiced My soul, and the souls of God's honoured servants.

“Pointing with her finger unto My head, she addressed all who are in heaven and all who are on earth, saying: By God! This is the Best-Beloved of the worlds, and yet ye comprehend not. This is the Beauty of God amongst you, and the power of His sovereignty within you, could ye but understand. This is the Mystery of God and His Treasure, the Cause of God and His glory unto all who are in the kingdoms of Revelation and of creation, if ye be of them that perceive. This is He Whose Presence is the ardent desire of the denizens of the Realm of eternity, and of them that dwell within the Tabernacle of glory, and yet from His Beauty do ye turn aside.” (Bahá’u’lláh: “The Summons of the Lord of Hosts”, pp. 5-6)

Exile to ‘Iráq [index]

Bahá’u’lláh’s family made every effort for Him to be released. But Násiri’d-Dín Sháh had decided that He should be imprisoned for life. The secretary of the Russian Legation in Persia was Mírzá Majíd-i-Áhí, who was married to a sister of Bahá’u’lláh. He urged the Russian Minister, Prince Dolgorouki, to press the Government to come to a decision and release Bahá’u’lláh. Some of those involved in the plot to assassinate the Sháh admitted their guilt and completely exonerated Bahá’u’lláh. Eventually, the Sháh agreed to let Bahá’u’lláh go. He was released after having languished in horrible conditions for four months; His body enfeebled and bent by the weight of the agonising chains. He was taken to the Grand Vizier. Bahá’u’lláh advised him to cease persecution of the Bábís. (see: Balyuzi: pp. 99-101)

He said: “Command the governors of the realm to cease shedding the blood of the innocent, to cease plundering their property, to cease dishonoring their women, and injuring their children.” (Shoghi Effendi: “God Passes By”, p. 105)

Bahá’u’lláh was ordered to leave the country in one month, but He was too ill to leave at once. He couldn’t return to His home, which had been wrecked and pillaged, so He had to stay with His half-brother, Mírzá Ridá-Qulí. On the 12th of January 1853 (1st Rabí‘u’th-Thání 1269 AH), Bahá’u’lláh and His family left Tihrán for ‘Iráq, then a part of the Ottoman Empire. With no real possessions and already having endured great physical hardship, He and His family, accompanied by two faithful brothers, Mírzá Músá and Mírzá Muhammad-Qulí (a half-brother), and representatives of the Persian and Russian Governments, left their native land. He was never to return to the land of His birth. (see: Balyuzi: p. 102)

After a difficult winter journey of three months through the mountain passes of western Írán, in an age without cars or aeroplanes, Bahá’u’lláh reached Baghdád on the 8th of April 1853 (28th Jamádiyu’th-Thání 1269 AH). He proceeded three miles north to Kázimayn, which was inhabited chiefly by Persians. The two Kázims, the seventh and ninth Imáms (hereditary successors of the Prophet Muhammad), are buried there. The Sháh’s representative suggested that it would be better for Bahá’u’lláh to take up His residence in Old Baghdád. He rented a house in the old quarter of the city and took up His residence there. (see: Shoghi Effendi: p. 109)

Bahá’u’lláh had a half-brother named Mírzá Yahyá who was intensely jealous. Bahá’u’lláh’s fame spread in Baghdád and He became well-respected. Increasingly He became a source of hope for the Bábís, and wellspring of guidance. Some, such as Mírzá Áqá Ján even recognised Bahá’u’lláh Station, though this remained secret. One Bábí asked Mírzá Yahyá for a commentary on the Qur’ánic verse: “All food was allowed to the children of Israel except what Israel made unlawful for itself.” Mírzá Yahyá was then the nominal leader of the Bábí community, but he had spent most his time hiding and trying to conceal his identity. He wrote a commentary and replied, though he was afraid because the Bábís of Naráq had discovered his whereabouts. His commentary was unsatisfactory and an affront to the inquirer’s intellect. Then he asked Bahá’u’lláh, Who replied by revealing the Tablet of Kullu’t-Ta‘ám (All Food). (see: Balyuzi, pp. 111-112) Shoghi Effendi says:

“Turning to Bahá’u’lláh and repeating his request, he was honored by a Tablet, in which Israel and his children were identified with the Báb and His followers respectively - a Tablet which by reason of the allusions it contained, the beauty of its language and the cogency of its argument, so enraptured the soul of its recipient that he would have, but for the restraining hand of Bahá’u’lláh, proclaimed forthwith his discovery of God's hidden Secret in the person of the One Who had revealed it.” (Shoghi Effendi: “God Passes By”, pp. 116-117)

“Turning to Bahá’u’lláh and repeating his request, he was honored by a Tablet, in which Israel and his children were identified with the Báb and His followers respectively - a Tablet which by reason of the allusions it contained, the beauty of its language and the cogency of its argument, so enraptured the soul of its recipient that he would have, but for the restraining hand of Bahá’u’lláh, proclaimed forthwith his discovery of God's hidden Secret in the person of the One Who had revealed it.” (Shoghi Effendi: “God Passes By”, pp. 116-117)

Fresh jealousy was aroused in Mírzá Yahyá’s heart. He was constantly being pushed by Siyyid Muhammad-i-Isfahání, the Antichrist of the Bahá’í Revelation, to oppose Bahá’u’lláh. Mírzá Yahyá began a campaign to discredit Bahá’u’lláh and spread wild rumours and innuendoes. The Bábí Faith was being threatened by controversy and division. In the midst of this turmoil, Bahá’u’lláh decided to depart into the wilderness. Thus would He follow in the footsteps of Moses, Who went out into the Sinai desert and Christ, Who wandered in the wilderness of Judća. And so Bahá’u’lláh departed from Baghdád. On the 10th of April 1854 (12th of Rajab 1270 AH), His family awoke to find Him gone. Like Buddha before Him, He had left without notice and became a wandering dervish (darvísh) in Kurdish ‘Iráq (Kurdistán). (see: Balyuzi: pp. 112-115)

Kurdistán [index]

Bahá’u’lláh describes this retreat to the wilderness:

“In the early days of Our arrival in this land, when We discerned the signs of impending events, We decided, ere they happened, to retire. We betook Ourselves to the wilderness, and there, separated and alone, led for two years a life of complete solitude. From Our eyes there rained tears of anguish, and in Our bleeding heart there surged an ocean of agonizing pain. Many a night We had no food for sustenance, and many a day Our body found no rest. By Him Who hath My being between His hands! notwithstanding these showers of afflictions and unceasing calamities, Our soul was wrapt in blissful joy, and Our whole being evinced an ineffable gladness. For in Our solitude We were unaware of the harm or benefit, the health or ailment, of any soul. Alone, We communed with Our spirit, oblivious of the world and all that is therein. We knew not, however, that the mesh of divine destiny exceedeth the vastest of mortal conceptions, and the dart of His decree transcendeth the boldest of human designs. None can escape the snares He setteth, and no soul can find release except through submission to His will. By the righteousness of God! Our withdrawal contemplated no return, and Our separation hoped for no reunion. The one object of Our retirement was to avoid becoming a subject of discord among the faithful, a source of disturbance unto Our companions, the means of injury to any soul, or the cause of sorrow to any heart. Beyond these, We cherished no other intention, and apart from them, We had no end in view. And yet, each person schemed after his own desire, and pursued his own idle fancy, until the hour when, from the Mystic Source, there came the summons bidding Us return whence We came. Surrendering Our will to His, We submitted to His injunction.” (Bahá’u’lláh: “the Kitáb-i-Íqán”, pp. 250-251 )

Bahá’u’lláh changed His name to Darvísh Muhammad. He took with Him nothing but a kashkúl and a change of clothes. He lived for a time on the mountain of Sar-Galú, a place so remote that it was only visited twice a year by peasants at seed sowing and harvest time. Sometimes He lived under a crude stone shelter and at others in a cave. A certain Shaykh of the village of Sulaymáníyyih, inspired by a dream of the Prophet Muhammad, sought Him out. He was eventually convinced to come and live in the village. He was extremely loved and respected by the inhabitants of the area. His innate and unsurpassing wisdom attracted the attention of the learned shaykhs, doctors, holy men and princes who were congregated in the seminaries of Sulaymáníyyih and Karkúk. (see: Shoghi Effendi: pp. 120-123)

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the Centre of the Covenant, recounts:

“In a short time Kurdistán was magnetized with His love. During this period Bahá'u'lláh lived in poverty. His garments were those of the poor and needy. His food was that of the indigent and lowly. An atmosphere of majesty haloed Him as the sun at midday. Everywhere He was greatly revered and beloved.” (‘Abdu’l-Bahá: “Promulgation of Universal Peace”, p. 26)

Return to Baghdád [index]

Meanwhile the Bábí Faith without Bahá’u’lláh’s presence had reached the verge of extinction. During this time Mírzá Yahyá did not cease his machinations. The time had come for Bahá’u’lláh, after two years in Kurdistán, to return. It became recognised in Baghdád that this Darvísh Muhammad could be none other than Bahá’u’lláh. At the insistence of His oldest son, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, then only twelve years old, and Bahá’u’lláh’s faithful brother, Mírzá Músá, a messenger was sent to implore Him to return. He arrived in Baghdád on the 19th of March 1856 (12th Rajab 1272 AH). He returned to find a dispirited and hopeless community of Bábís. (see: Balyuzi: pp. 121-22; Shoghi Effendi: pp. 126-128)

Under the guidance of Bahá’u’lláh, the Bábí community began to emerge, once more, characterised by the moral and ethical standards of the Báb. The seven years of consolidation which followed revived the Bábí Faith. Bábís patiently awaited the coming of ‘Him Whom God Shall Make Manifest’. The Báb had made significant allusions to the ‘year eighty’ (1280 AH) with reference to the advent of the Promised One. (see: David Hofman: “Bahá’u’lláh - the Prince of Peace”, pp. 85-86)

The government of the Sháh of Persia began to press hard for Bahá’u’lláh to be removed from ‘Iráq. He was too close to Persia and His influence spread far and wide. The Turkish government thus invited Bahá’u’lláh to come to the capital, Constantinople (Istanbul), in Turkey. The authorities showed great reverence to Bahá’u’lláh in the manner in which they presented the request. Bahá’u’lláh accepted the offer in the spirit that it was given. The Bábís of Baghdád were struck with sorrow at the news. (see: Balyuzi: pp. 154-155)

The Declaration of Bahá’u’lláh [index]

The time came for Bahá’u’lláh to reveal His glorious Station. The Bábí Dispensation, so short and momentous, was coming to an end. On a Wednesday afternoon, the 22nd of April 1863 (3rd of Dhi’l-Qa‘dih 1279 AH) He left His house for the last time and entered the Najíbíyyih Garden (designated by His followers the Garden of Ridván), where He stayed for twelve days. These twelve days are celebrated by Bahá’ís around the world as the Festival of Ridván (pronounced ‘Rezvan’). He declared His Mission in this Garden. (see: Shoghi Effendi: pp. 148-151)

Bahá’u’lláh speaks of that great Day:

“Verily, all created things were immersed in the sea of purification when, on that first day of Ridván, We shed upon the whole of creation the splendours of Our most excellent Names and Our most exalted Attributes. This, verily, is a token of My loving providence, which hath encompassed all the worlds.” (Bahá’u’lláh: “Kitáb-i-Aqdas”, p. 47)

“The Divine Springtime is come, O Most Exalted Pen, for the Festival of the All-Merciful is fast approaching. Bestir thyself, and magnify, before the entire creation, the name of God, and celebrate His praise, in such wise that all created things may be regenerated and made new. Speak, and hold not thy peace. The day star of blissfulness shineth above the horizon of Our name, the Blissful, inasmuch as the kingdom of the name of God hath been adorned with the ornament of the name of thy Lord, the Creator of the heavens. Arise before the nations of the earth, and arm thyself with the power of this Most Great Name, and be not of those who tarry. . . .

“This is the Day whereon naught can be seen except the splendors of the Light that shineth from the face of Thy Lord, the Gracious, the Most Bountiful. Verily, We have caused every soul to expire by virtue of Our irresistible and all-subduing sovereignty. We have, then, called into being a new creation, as a token of Our grace unto men. I am, verily, the All-Bountiful, the Ancient of Days.

“This is the Day whereon the unseen world crieth out: "Great is thy blessedness, O earth, for thou hast been made the foot-stool of thy God, and been chosen as the seat of His mighty throne." The realm of glory exclaimeth: "Would that my life could be sacrificed for thee, for He Who is the Beloved of the All-Merciful hath established His sovereignty upon thee, through the power of His Name that hath been promised unto all things, whether of the past or of the future." This is the Day whereon every sweet smelling thing hath derived its fragrance from the smell of My garment - a garment that hath shed its perfume upon the whole of creation. This is the Day whereon the rushing waters of everlasting life have gushed out of the Will of the All-Merciful. Haste ye, with your hearts and souls, and quaff your fill, O Concourse of the realms above!

“Say: He it is Who is the Manifestation of Him Who is the Unknowable, the Invisible of the Invisibles, could ye but perceive it. He it is Who hath laid bare before you the hidden and treasured Gem, were ye to seek it. He it is Who is the one Beloved of all things, whether of the past or of the future. Would that ye might set your hearts and hopes upon Him!. . . .

“Arise, and proclaim unto the entire creation the tidings that He Who is the All-Merciful hath directed His steps towards the Ridván and entered it. Guide, then, the people unto the garden of delight which God hath made the Throne of His Paradise. We have chosen thee to be our most mighty Trumpet, whose blast is to signalize the resurrection of all mankind. . . .

“This is the Day whereon He Who is the Revealer of the names of God hath stepped out of the Tabernacle of glory, and proclaimed unto all who are in the heavens and all who are on the earth: "Put away the cups of Paradise and all the life-giving waters they contain, for lo, the people of Bahá have entered the blissful abode of the Divine Presence, and quaffed the wine of reunion, from the chalice of the beauty of their Lord, the All-Possessing, the Most High.’ . . . .

“Attract the hearts of men, through the call of Him, the one alone Beloved. Say: This is the Voice of God, if ye do but hearken. This is the Day Spring of the Revelation of God, did ye but know it. This is the Dawning-Place of the Cause of God, were ye to recognize it. This is the Source of the commandment of God, did ye but judge it fairly. This is the manifest and hidden Secret; would that ye might perceive it. O peoples of the world! Cast away, in My name that transcendeth all other names, the things ye possess, and immerse yourselves in this Ocean in whose depths lay hidden the pearls of wisdom and of utterance, an ocean that surgeth in My name, the All-Merciful. Thus instructeth you He with Whom is the Mother Book.

“The Best-Beloved is come. In His right hand is the sealed Wine of His name. Happy is the man that turneth unto Him, and drinketh his fill, and exclaimeth: "Praise be to Thee, O Revealer of the signs of God!" By the righteousness of the Almighty! Every hidden thing hath been manifested through the power of truth. All the favors of God have been sent down, as a token of His grace. The waters of everlasting life have, in their fullness, been proffered unto men. Every single cup hath been borne round by the hand of the Well-Beloved. Draw near, and tarry not, though it be for one short moment.

“Blessed are they that have soared on the wings of detachment and attained the station which, as ordained by God, overshadoweth the entire creation, whom neither the vain imaginations of the learned, nor the multitude of the hosts of the earth have succeeded in deflecting from His Cause. Who is there among you, O people, who will renounce the world, and draw nigh unto God, the Lord of all names? Where is he to be found who, through the power of My name that transcendeth all created things, will cast away the things that men possess, and cling, with all his might, to the things which God, the Knower of the unseen and of the seen, hath bidden him observe? Thus hath His bounty been sent down unto men, His testimony fulfilled, and His proof shone forth above the Horizon of mercy. Rich is the prize that shall be won by him who hath believed and exclaimed: ‘Lauded art Thou, O Beloved of all worlds! Magnified be Thy name, O Thou the Desire of every understanding heart!’

“Rejoice with exceeding gladness, O people of Bahá, as ye call to remembrance the Day of supreme felicity, the Day whereon the Tongue of the Ancient of Days hath spoken, as He departed from His House, proceeding to the Spot from which He shed upon the whole of creation the splendors of His name, the All-Merciful. God is Our witness. Were We to reveal the hidden secrets of that Day, all they that dwell on earth and in the heavens would swoon away and die, except such as will be preserved by God, the Almighty, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise.

“Such is the inebriating effect of the words of God upon Him Who is the Revealer of His undoubted proofs, that His Pen can move no longer. With these words He concludeth His Tablet: ‘No God is there but Me, the Most Exalted, the Most Powerful, the Most Excellent, the All-Knowing.’” (Bahá’u’lláh: “Gleanings”, pp. 27-35)

Bahá’u’lláh is the Word, which the Gospel of John describes (1:1-5): “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made. In Him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness and the darkness comprehendeth it not.” As Christ said (John 8.58): “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.” And (Revelation 22:13): “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and last.” Bahá’u’lláh is the eternal Christ that existed in ‘the beginning that hath no beginning’ and will exist until the ‘end that hath no end’.

Bahá’u’lláh says: “For this reason, from the beginning that hath no beginning the portals of Divine mercy have been flung open to the face of all created things, and the clouds of Truth will continue to the end that hath no end to rain on the soil of human capacity, reality and personality their favours and bounties. Such hath been God's method continued from everlasting to everlasting.” (“Gleanings”, pp. 68-69)