“So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth.” — Bahá’u’lláh  

A Season of Celebration: 200 Years since the Births of Bahá’u’lláh and the Báb


This year, people around the world are celebrating the 200th anniversary of the birth of Bahá’u’lláh, Founder of the Bahá’í Faith and the Divine Educator for this age. Although many have not yet heard the story of this Divine Messenger, the echoes of His rich spiritual and social teachings reverberate around the globe.  

Bahá’u’lláh envisioned a future where all of humanity operates as one family. He taught that every human being has a unique purpose to help bring about a unified world, that justice enables each of us to fulfill this potential, and that the inequalities between women and men, black and white, rich and poor, East and West must dissolve.  

Bahá’u’lláh's mission of unity and justice was foretold by the Báb, an equally important Divine Messenger, Who prepared the way for Bahá’u’lláh. The bicentennial of His birth will be celebrated in 2019. The Báb’s teachings encouraged the spiritualization of society, urged all to seek truth with independent hearts and view their fellow human beings as beautiful creations of God worthy of respect.

We invite you to learn about the lives of these two Divine Messengers, explore their teachings, and rejoice in celebration with us. 

A Season of Celebration: 200 Years since the Births of Bahá’u’lláh and the Báb


This year, people around the world are celebrating the 200th anniversary of the birth of Bahá’u’lláh, Founder of the Bahá’í Faith and the Divine Educator for this age. Although many have not yet heard the story of this Divine Messenger, the echoes of His rich spiritual and social teachings reverberate around the globe.  

Bahá’u’lláh envisioned a future where all of humanity operates as one family. He taught that every human being has a unique purpose to help bring about a unified world, that justice enables each of us to fulfill this potential, and that the inequalities between women and men, black and white, rich and poor, East and West must dissolve.  

Bahá’u’lláh's mission of unity and justice was foretold by the Báb, an equally important Divine Messenger, Who prepared the way for Bahá’u’lláh. The bicentennial of His birth will be celebrated in 2019. The Báb’s teachings encouraged the spiritualization of society, urged all to seek truth with independent hearts and view their fellow human beings as beautiful creations of God worthy of respect.

We invite you to learn about the lives of these two Divine Messengers, explore their teachings, and rejoice in celebration with us. 

Recordings of Devotions and Concerts at the Baha’i House of Worship in Wilmette, Illinois

"Light to the World"


Light to the World: a film about the Life and Teachings of Baha'u'llah, as told through the voices of Baha'is around the globe.

72 Hours of Celebration


From October 20th to the 22nd, Baha'is joined a global celebration, honoring the 200th Anniversary of the Birth of Baha'u'llah and the enduring legacy of His Teachings on the oneness of humanity. From dance parties in the Bronx to traditional Navajo sand painting in Albuquerque, engagement theater in Atlanta to youth conferences and children's programs in Chicagoland, the festivities are as diverse as their participants! For more details, please visit our album on Flickr.

Light of Unity Festival: Celebrating the 200th Anniversary of the Birth of Baha'u'llah

We’re Celebrating Because


Tributes and proclamations from dignitaries across the United States

I'm rejoicing because I want everyone, the whole wide world to know that 200 years ago a huge event happened in the world. An event that is stunning in its light. 

— Mitra, Southern California 

Mitra Celebration Story

“His teachings have served like a beacon to guide me. It’s like a framework for living.”  

— Ron, Chicago


“I’m grateful for Bahá’u’lláh, because His message is so timely considering the worldwide chaos.”  

— Judy, Chicago

“It’s our time to celebrate and share this message of unity and justice, love and service, and be joyful...It's very humbling.”  

— Valentina, Washington, DC 

“I focus on one thing...to battle for justice, because [Bahá’u’lláh said] ‘The best beloved of all things is justice.’” 

— Ava, Chicago

We’re Celebrating Because


Tributes and proclamations from dignitaries across the United States

Mitra Celebration Story

I'm rejoicing because I want everyone, the whole wide world to know that 200 years ago a huge event happened in the world. An event that is stunning in its light. 

— Mitra, Southern California 

“His teachings have served like a beacon to guide me. It’s like a framework for living.”  

— Ron, Chicago


“I’m grateful for Bahá’u’lláh, because His message is so timely considering the worldwide chaos.”  

— Judy, Chicago

“It’s our time to celebrate and share this message of unity and justice, love and service, and be joyful...It's very humbling.”  

— Valentina, Washington, DC 

“I focus on one thing...to battle for justice, because [Bahá’u’lláh said] ‘The best beloved of all things is justice.’” 

— Ava, Chicago

Who was the Báb?


A Stunning and Precocious Wisdom

Old city of Shiraz, Persia.

The Báb was born as Siyyid ‘Alí-Muhammad, on October 20, 1819 in Shiraz, Persia. His father died early, so He was raised by His maternal uncles, who were merchants.  

The Báb demonstrated a stunning and precocious wisdom as a child. At six years old, His uncles sent Him to a school taught by a local religious scholar. On His first day, He was asked to recite the opening words of the Qur’an. This was a common practice among his peers, even though they spoke Persian and did not understand the Arabic words of the Qur’an. When His turn came, the Báb instead explained the meaning of the verses, demonstrating both a dazzling understanding of the foreign text, and a unique independence of thought that later characterized His legacy.  

As a child, He preferred prayer and contemplation to games or sports. These spiritual leanings continued into adulthood. As a young man, He agreed to oversee His uncle’s expanding business, but closed up shop when His spirit felt called to undertake a months-long religious pilgrimage. He could be found standing for hours in mosques and shrines wherever He traveled. 

Concerned about His spiritual preoccupations, His mother, a practical woman, arranged for him to marry His childhood companion, Khadijih. Khadíjih had dreamt that the Báb was a man with an extraordinary calling, and agreed to the match. 

The Báb’s home in Shiraz, Persia.

Revelation

Shortly after marriage, in 1843, the Báb had a dream of His own -- one that would eventually incite a fervor throughout Persia. He dreamt He was communing with the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, and upon waking, said, “I felt the Spirit of God had permeated and taken possession of My soul. My heart was thrilled with the joy of His Divine Presence, and the mysteries of His revelation were unfolded before My eyes in all their glory.” In this dream, the Báb understood that God wanted Him to bring a message to the people of the world. It was then that He officially took the title ‘the Báb,’ which means The Gate, and set about laying the groundwork for the Promised One, still to come. 

A Movement Builds

In the 1840s, souls across the globe awaited the appearance of the Promised One. In North America, religious people believed the return of Christ was imminent, while scholars in the Middle East pinpointed Persia as the place of Muhammad’s return. This millennial enthusiasm inspired many souls into active search. Little wonder then, in the weeks following His revelation, eighteen people felt their hearts and spirits leading them to Shiraz, and directly to the Báb.  

Once assembled, He called these disciples, “the witnesses of the Dawn of the promised Day of God.” He clarified, however, that a messenger greater than Himself was expected, one who would be the unifier of humankind. He asked them to return to their home provinces and share this announcement with both conviction and kindness. “The path of guidance is one of love and compassion,” He advised them, “not of force and coercion.” The Báb then travelled to Mecca, the holiest city in the Muslim world, to make a public announcement of His revelation. 

Violent Opposition

Prison in Tabriz, where the Báb was incarcerated before being killed.

In the mid-1800s, Persia was ruled by a complex network of clergy and civil leaders. A few among them accepted the Báb’s message and saw signs of a Divine Messenger in Him. Most were angered, arousing violent mobs in nearly every city, and calling for brutal forms of torture against the Báb’s followers. At times, they even designed extermination plans that called for the killing of two Bábís each day. Eventually, the indignation of the clergy turned directly against the Báb. At high noon on July 9, 1850, He was lead through the streets of Tabriz, Persia, with a long rope tied to an iron collar. Crowds lined the roads and filled the public square as guards suspended Him from the wall. Seven-hundred-fifty rifles fired in unison, and ended the Báb’s life.  


The Shrine of the Báb in Haifa, Israel, is the Báb’s final resting-place and a point of pilgrimage for Baha’is.


Who was the Báb?


A Stunning and Precocious Wisdom

Old city of Shiraz, Persia.

The Báb was born as Siyyid ‘Alí-Muhammad, on October 20, 1819 in Shiraz, Persia. His father died early, so He was raised by His maternal uncles, who were merchants.  

The Báb demonstrated a stunning and precocious wisdom as a child. At six years old, His uncles sent Him to a school taught by a local religious scholar. On His first day, He was asked to recite the opening words of the Qur’an. This was a common practice among his peers, even though they spoke Persian and did not understand the Arabic words of the Qur’an. When His turn came, the Báb instead explained the meaning of the verses, demonstrating both a dazzling understanding of the foreign text, and a unique independence of thought that later characterized His legacy.  

The Báb’s home in Shiraz, Persia.

As a child, He preferred prayer and contemplation to games or sports. These spiritual leanings continued into adulthood. As a young man, He agreed to oversee His uncle’s expanding business, but closed up shop when His spirit felt called to undertake a months-long religious pilgrimage. He could be found standing for hours in mosques and shrines wherever He traveled. 

Concerned about His spiritual preoccupations, His mother, a practical woman, arranged for him to marry His childhood companion, Khadijih. Khadíjih had dreamt that the Báb was a man with an extraordinary calling, and agreed to the match. 

Revelation

Shortly after marriage, in 1843, the Báb had a dream of His own -- one that would eventually incite a fervor throughout Persia. He dreamt He was communing with the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, and upon waking, said, “I felt the Spirit of God had permeated and taken possession of My soul. My heart was thrilled with the joy of His Divine Presence, and the mysteries of His revelation were unfolded before My eyes in all their glory.” In this dream, the Báb understood that God wanted Him to bring a message to the people of the world. It was then that He officially took the title ‘the Báb,’ which means The Gate, and set about laying the groundwork for the Promised One, still to come. 

A Movement Builds 

In the 1840s, souls across the globe awaited the appearance of the Promised One. In North America, religious people believed the return of Christ was imminent, while scholars in the Middle East pinpointed Persia as the place of Muhammad’s return. This millennial enthusiasm inspired many souls into active search. Little wonder then, in the weeks following His revelation, eighteen people felt their hearts and spirits leading them to Shiraz, and directly to the Báb.  

Once assembled, He called these disciples, “the witnesses of the Dawn of the promised Day of God.” He clarified, however, that a messenger greater than Himself was expected, one who would be the unifier of humankind. He asked them to return to their home provinces and share this announcement with both conviction and kindness. “The path of guidance is one of love and compassion,” He advised them, “not of force and coercion.” The Báb then travelled to Mecca, the holiest city in the Muslim world, to make a public announcement of His revelation. 

Violent Opposition 

Prison in Tabriz, where the Báb was incarcerated before being killed.

In the mid-1800s, Persia was ruled by a complex network of clergy and civil leaders. A few among them accepted the Báb’s message and saw signs of a Divine Messenger in Him. Most were angered, arousing violent mobs in nearly every city, and calling for brutal forms of torture against the Báb’s followers. At times, they even designed extermination plans that called for the killing of two Bábís each day. Eventually, the indignation of the clergy turned directly against the Báb. At high noon on July 9, 1850, He was lead through the streets of Tabriz, Persia, with a long rope tied to an iron collar. Crowds lined the roads and filled the public square as guards suspended Him from the wall. Seven-hundred-fifty rifles fired in unison, and ended the Báb’s life.  


The Shrine of the Báb in Haifa, Israel, is the Báb’s final resting-place and a point of pilgrimage for Baha’is.


Who was Bahá’u’lláh?


Over the course of His lifetime, Bahá’u’lláh endured imprisonment, brutal torture, exile on foot in the dead of winter, and multiple assassination attempts. Throughout these trials, He wrote over a hundred volumes of scripture and twenty thousand letters, detailing social and spiritual teachings that prescribed freedom from racial prejudice, the equality of women and men, harmony between science and religion, and the balancing of extremes of wealth and poverty.  

Early Life

Bahá’u’lláh’s family home in Tehran.

Bahá’u’lláh’s life did not begin in hardship. He was born in 1817, in a mansion on the eastern edge of Tehran, Persia’s capital city. His parents named Him Mírzá Husayn-‘Alí.  

Tehran was a bustling city, home to over a hundred thousand people — peasants, merchants, landowners, and the king. Bahá’u’lláh’s father was a well-regarded advisor to the king and eventually became governor of a province. Yet, as a young man, Bahá’u’lláh was not impressed with life at the royal court, seeing it ruled by envy, gossip, and corruption.

Bahá’u’lláh received the basic tutoring given to all aristocratic Persian boys: reading, writing, and lessons on Persian culture. But, like the Báb, He appeared to have an extraordinary wisdom. As a teenager, His father often found Him at the royal court, deep in conversation with thinkers, scholars, and legal experts. To many, it seemed natural that He would seek an official position once He came of age. 

The Father of the Poor and Mother of Consolation 

At 18, He married a woman of considerable wealth, named Ásíyih Khánum. Once married, they retreated to the family’s countryside estate, in a village called Takur. They hosted the poor in their home night and day, offering feasts to the hungry, and conversation for the lonely. They were known throughout the village as the Father of the Poor and the Mother of Consolation. This occupation suited Bahá’u’lláh and He declined to take a position of power in the government. 

Baha'u'llah's home in Takur.

Later, in His divinely inspired teachings, Bahá’u’lláh included instructions for the treatment of the poor: “O Children of Dust! Tell the rich of the midnight sighing of the poor,” and “O ye Rich Ones on Earth! The poor in your midst are My trust, guard ye My trust.

Accepting a New Faith 

City square of Tehran.

Though they’d never met, Bahá’u’lláh received a handwritten letter from the Báb in 1844. He read one page aloud and exclaimed that the Báb’s “soul-stirring words” were “endowed with the same regenerating power” of the Holy Books of the past. From that moment on, He joined the Báb’s followers in sharing the news of the coming Promised One. While His family was surprised at His involvement in the new and unfamiliar movement, some local leaders found themselves taken with His deepening spiritual wisdom and they relinquished ties with their own religious teachers.  

During the brutal persecutions against the Báb’s followers (the Bábís), Bahá’u’lláh became a vital support and comforter to His companions. He invited fellow believers to stay in His home and physically protected men and women from angry mobs. When Bábís were imprisoned, He used His connections in the court to plead their cases and deliver clothing and food to them.

Imprisonment

As time passed, His profile among the Bábís grew and His connections in the court became strained. Eventually, He was arrested and cast into an underground dungeon, known as the Black Pit. His home was ransacked and His family was stripped of their possessions. Upon His arrival to the Black Pit, guards led Him through a long dark corridor, wading through ankle-deep filth as vermin ran across the floors. He was bound to five of His companions by chains placed around their necks. The restraints weighed up to a hundred pounds. Every time one prisoner moved, the chains cut the necks of the others. He spent four long months in these conditions. 

The Black Pit of Tehran.

Revelation, The Promised One has Come 

While in prison, Bahá’u’lláh encountered the rarest of human experiences: a transformative vision that revealed to Him a Divine Message.  

While engulfed in tribulations I heard a most wondrous, a most sweet voice, calling above My head,” He later recalled. “Turning My face, I beheld a Maiden — the embodiment of the remembrance of the name of My Lord — suspended in the air before Me.”  

The Maiden made it clear He was the Promised One foretold by the Báb and destined to be the unifier of humankind:  

We, verily, have come to unite and weld together all that dwell on earth,” she said. “Strive, O people of God, that haply the hearts of the divers kindreds of the earth may, through the waters of your forbearance and loving-kindness, be cleansed and sanctified from animosity and hatred.”  

From that moment forward, He became known as Bahá’u’lláh, the Glory of God, and His life was moved by the divine spirit, “I find myself to be as a leaf, which lieth at the mercy of the winds of Thy decree,” He wrote.  

Exile and Growth of His Cause 

Unlike the Báb, Bahá’u’lláh was not executed for His claims. Instead, He was exiled throughout the Ottoman and Turkish Empires. Communities committed to His message of peace and unity grew in every place He was exiled. By the time of His passing there were Baha’is in Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Egypt and India. In 1892, He died of natural causes in the prison-city of Akka, along the northern coast of present-day Israel. Two years later, the first American Bahá’í community began to grow in Chicago.  

Today, millions around the globe are guided in their personal lives and social endeavors, by the teachings of this Divine Messenger Who “consented to be bound in chains that mankind may be released from its bondage” and accepted imprisonment “that the whole world may attain unto true liberty.” 

Guards outside the prison-city of Akka, site of Baha’u’llah’s final exile.


 The Shrine of Bahá’u’lláh near Akka, Israel, is Bahá’u’lláh’s final resting place and a point of pilgrimage for Baha’is.


Who was Bahá’u’lláh?


Over the course of His lifetime, Bahá’u’lláh endured imprisonment, brutal torture, exile on foot in the dead of winter, and multiple assassination attempts. Throughout these trials, He wrote over a hundred volumes of scripture and twenty thousand letters, detailing social and spiritual teachings that prescribed freedom from racial prejudice, the equality of women and men, harmony between science and religion, and the balancing of extremes of wealth and poverty.  

Early Life

Bahá’u’lláh’s family home in Tehran.

Bahá’u’lláh’s life did not begin in hardship. He was born in 1817, in a mansion on the eastern edge of Tehran, Persia’s capital city. His parents named Him Mírzá Husayn-‘Alí.  

Tehran was a bustling city, home to over a hundred thousand people — peasants, merchants, landowners, and the king. Bahá’u’lláh’s father was a well-regarded advisor to the king and eventually became governor of a province. Yet, as a young man, Bahá’u’lláh was not impressed with life at the royal court, seeing it ruled by envy, gossip, and corruption.

Bahá’u’lláh received the basic tutoring given to all aristocratic Persian boys: reading, writing, and lessons on Persian culture. But, like the Báb, He appeared to have an extraordinary wisdom. As a teenager, His father often found Him at the royal court, deep in conversation with thinkers, scholars, and legal experts. To many, it seemed natural that He would seek an official position once He came of age. 

The Father of the Poor and Mother of Consolation 

Baha'u'llah's home in Takur.

At 18, He married a woman of considerable wealth, named Ásíyih Khánum. Once married, they retreated to the family’s countryside estate, in a village called Takur. They hosted the poor in their home night and day, offering feasts to the hungry, and conversation for the lonely. They were known throughout the village as the Father of the Poor and the Mother of Consolation. This occupation suited Bahá’u’lláh and He declined to take a position of power in the government. 

Later, in His divinely inspired teachings, Bahá’u’lláh included instructions for the treatment of the poor: “O Children of Dust! Tell the rich of the midnight sighing of the poor,” and “O ye Rich Ones on Earth! The poor in your midst are My trust, guard ye My trust.

Accepting a New Faith 

City square of Tehran.

Though they’d never met, Bahá’u’lláh received a handwritten letter from the Báb in 1844. He read one page aloud and exclaimed that the Báb’s “soul-stirring words” were “endowed with the same regenerating power” of the Holy Books of the past. From that moment on, He joined the Báb’s followers in sharing the news of the coming Promised One. While His family was surprised at His involvement in the new and unfamiliar movement, some local leaders found themselves taken with His deepening spiritual wisdom and they relinquished ties with their own religious teachers.  

During the brutal persecutions against the Báb’s followers (the Bábís), Bahá’u’lláh became a vital support and comforter to His companions. He invited fellow believers to stay in His home and physically protected men and women from angry mobs. When Bábís were imprisoned, He used His connections in the court to plead their cases and deliver clothing and food to them.

Imprisonment

The Black Pit of Tehran.

As time passed, His profile among the Bábís grew and His connections in the court became strained. Eventually, He was arrested and cast into an underground dungeon, known as the Black Pit. His home was ransacked and His family was stripped of their possessions. Upon His arrival to the Black Pit, guards led Him through a long dark corridor, wading through ankle-deep filth as vermin ran across the floors. He was bound to five of His companions by chains placed around their necks. The restraints weighed up to a hundred pounds. Every time one prisoner moved, the chains cut the necks of the others. He spent four long months in these conditions. 

Revelation, The Promised One has Come 

While in prison, Bahá’u’lláh encountered the rarest of human experiences: a transformative vision that revealed to Him a Divine Message.  

“While engulfed in tribulations I heard a most wondrous, a most sweet voice, calling above My head,” He later recalled. “Turning My face, I beheld a Maiden — the embodiment of the remembrance of the name of My Lord — suspended in the air before Me.”  

The Maiden made it clear He was the Promised One foretold by the Báb and destined to be the unifier of humankind:  

We, verily, have come to unite and weld together all that dwell on earth,” she said. “Strive, O people of God, that haply the hearts of the divers kindreds of the earth may, through the waters of your forbearance and loving-kindness, be cleansed and sanctified from animosity and hatred.”  

From that moment forward, He became known as Bahá’u’lláh, the Glory of God, and His life was moved by the divine spirit, “I find myself to be as a leaf, which lieth at the mercy of the winds of Thy decree,” He wrote.  

Exile and Growth of His Cause 

Guards outside the prison-city of Akka, site of Baha’u’llah’s final exile.

Unlike the Báb, Bahá’u’lláh was not executed for His claims. Instead, He was exiled throughout the Ottoman and Turkish Empires. Communities committed to His message of peace and unity grew in every place He was exiled. By the time of His passing there were Baha’is in Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Egypt and India. In 1892, He died of natural causes in the prison-city of Akka, along the northern coast of present-day Israel. Two years later, the first American Bahá’í community began to grow in Chicago. 

Today, millions around the globe are guided in their personal lives and social endeavors, by the teachings of this Divine Messenger Who “consented to be bound in chains that mankind may be released from its bondage” and accepted imprisonment “that the whole world may attain unto true liberty.” 


 The Shrine of Bahá’u’lláh near Akka, Israel, is Bahá’u’lláh’s final resting place and a point of pilgrimage for Baha’is.


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Explore this subject further

  •  Visit bahaullah.org to see a photo essay of His life. 
  •  See how communities around the world are preparing celebrations via the official Bicentenary Facebook group.
  •  Read a selection of writings from Bahá’u’lláh. Known as the Hidden Words, it consists of brief passages which Bahá’u’lláh described as the “inner essence” of all religious teachings.



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