Newcastle upon Tyne shares a special connection with many of the celebrations of the bicentenary of the birth of Bahá’u’lláh that have recently been taking place around the world.
In the summer of 1886 a talented 24-year-old Cambridge natural sciences graduate, with an interest in oriental and middle-eastern affairs, and a flair for languages, and who was still also completing studies in medicine, was reading an 1866 publication in which its author, Arthur de Gobineau, provided eye-witness accounts of the gruesome persecutions faced by the followers of the Báb (the Prophet forerunner of Bahá’u’lláh) in Persia.
A reflection on the 200th anniversary of the birth of Bahá’u’lláh
Eleven days ago, Bahá’ís across the planet celebrated the bicentenary of the birth of the Prophet-Founder of our Faith, Bahá’u’lláh.
In every country where the law does not forbid such things, the Bahá’ís held local celebrations over the impact that Bahá’u’lláh has had on their lives, their communities, and the planet. It would take several pages to adequately summarise everything that happened here in Newcastle upon Tyne (UK) to mark this anniversary, let alone the celebrations across a whole nation or across the world, but a glimpse of the global celebrations can be viewed here – I am likely to write more about these celebrations in the coming days or weeks.
In the early hours of 29th May, 1892, Baha’u’llah, the prophet founder of the Bahá’í Faith, passed away. At 3am each year (4am with clocks adjusted for British summer time) Bahá’ís around the globe commemorate this event. In North-East England we have a tradition of doing so near St Mary’s Lighthouse along the coastline at Whitley Bay. This allows us, weather permitting, to witness the sun rising over the North Sea shortly after our programme of commemoration. Continue reading In the Early Hours of 29th May→
800 years ago today, on 30th September 1207, the mystical poet Rumi was born. Rumi’s wisdom on spiritual themes was widely referred to in Persian literature and literature from other parts of that region, his poetry has also become famous around the world and has more recently been incorporated into some pop songs, such as Bittersweet by Madonna in 1998. There is an article about Rumi’s birthplace here on the BBC News website.
Rumi is referenced several times in what Shoghi Effendi described as Baha’u’llah’s “greatest mystical composition”, The Seven Valleys, as well as The Four Valleys which is usually published along side The Seven Valleys. Both of these scriptural works offer mystical insights into themes of spiritual search and progress and were written in response to questions posed to Baha’u’llah.
A new volume of selected writings by Baha’u’llah, entitled “The Tabernacle of Unity,” has been recently translated and published in English.
This latest publication of the Baha’i World Centre contains five “tablets” – letters – written by Baha’u’llah to individuals of Zoroastrian background in the 1800s. As such, these tablets provide important insights into the interrelatedness of religion.
[…] While portions of these tablets have been previously translated, the volume represents the first time they have been presented in English in full.
For example, the well-known quotation, “Ye are the fruits of one tree and the leaves of one branch,” comes from the second tablet of the book which was addressed to Mirza Abu’l-Fadl, a famous early Baha’i scholar.
For the full story and a photo of the book click here
In the early hours of 29th May Baha’is around the world commemorate the passing of Bahá’u’lláh, the prophet founder of the Bahá’í Faith. At 3am (4am where daylight savings time is in force) Baha’is gather together and often turn toward Bahji, near Akka in Israel, where Bahá’u’lláh is buried in His shrine.
In a few hours I will be heading out to lighthouse near Whitley Bay on the east coast of northern england and looking out over the sea as the sun appears over the horizon while prayers are read aloud. The way in which the occasion is commemorated varies from community to community but as the hour strikes 3 (or 4 in our case) around the world in time-zone after time-zone the Baha’is commemorate that same hour in 1892.
A little background information on the occasion follows:
The title “Bahá’u’lláh” means “The Glory of God”. In 1863, Bahá’u’lláh declared Himself to be the Messenger of God for this day and age and the Promised One of all religions, the announcement was of little surprise to many who knew Him and were ready to follow Him.
Bahá’u’lláh suffered 40 years of torture, imprisonment and exile. He was exiled from Tehran in Persia (Iran) to Baghdad and then Turkey before being sent to ‘Akká, where the prison city had a reputation for having the foulest air and few were expected to survive. After some time He and His family were moved to Bahji, on the outskirts of Akka, where He was imprisoned in a mansion house for the remaining years of His life.
Nine months before His passing Bahá’u’lláh had started expressing His desire to depart from this world to his closest friends and family, increasingly preparing them for the event to come in the 75th year of His life.
On the evening of May 8th 1892 Bahá’u’lláh developed a slight fever which, though it worsened the following day, then seemed to improve. He continued to meet friends and visitors but it soon became evident that He really was not well.
Six days before Bahá’u’lláh passed away He called the Bahá’ís assembled in the mansion in which He was imprisoned to His bedside where He addressed the saddened followers for the last time, gently and affectionately, with these words: “I am well pleased with you all, Ye have rendered many services, and been very assiduous in your labors. Ye have come here every morning and every evening. May God assist you to remain united. May He aid you to exalt the Cause of the Lord of being.”
The fever had returned more acutely than before and Bahá’u’lláh’s physical condition steadily deteriorated until further complications eventually caused Him to ascend from this world at the hour of dawn on May 29th 1892.
News spread quickly on that day and large crowds came to mourn Bahá’u’lláh, from many different religions and backgrounds, including officials, priests and other leading figures at that time.
Bahá’u’lláh had already appointed His son, ‘Abdu’l-Baha to be the “Centre of the Covenant” to whom all Bahá’ís should turn after His ascension, thereby ensuring that the unity of the Faith could be maintained.