writings offer answers to the timeless theological and philosophical questions that have
plagued humanity since antiquity--such as Who is God? What is goodness? and Why are we
here? He also addresses the modern questions that have preoccupied 20th century thinkers,
discussing the basic motivations of human nature, answering whether peace is indeed
possible, and explaining how God provides for humanity's security and welfare.
In the middle of the last century, one of the most
notorious dungeons in the Near East was Teheran's "Black Pit." Once the
underground reservoir for a public bath, its only outlet was a single passage down three
steep flights of stone steps. Prisoners huddled in their own bodily wastes, languishing in
the pit's inky gloom, subterranean cold and stench-ridden atmosphere.
In this grim setting, the rarest and most cherished of
religious events was once again played out: mortal man, out-wardly human in other
respects, was summoned by God to bring to humanity a new religious revelation.
The year was 1852, and the man was a Persian nobleman, known
today as Bahá'u'lláh. During His imprisonment, as He sat with his feet in stocks and a
100-pound iron chain around his neck, Bahá'u'lláh received a vision of God's will for
The event is comparable to those great moments of the ancient
past when God revealed Himself to His earlier Messengers: when Moses stood before the
Burning Bush; when the Buddha received enlightenment under the Bodhi tree; when the Holy
Spirit, in the form of a dove descended upon Jesus; or when the archangel Gabriel appeared
"And since there can be no tie of direct intercourse to bind the
true God with His creation, and no resemblance whatever can exist between the transient
and the Eternal, the contingent and the Absolute, He hath ordained that in every age and
dispensation a pure and stainless Soul be made manifest in the kingdoms of earth and
Bahá'u'lláh's experience in the Black Pit set in motion a
process of religious revelation which, over the next 40 years, led to the production of
thousands of books, tablets and letters--which today form the core of the sacred scripture
of Bahá'í Faith. In those writings, He outlined a framework for the reconstruction of
human society at all levels: spiritual, moral, economic, political, and philosophical.
In the past, God's Messengers have for the most part
presented their messages to humanity by speaking or preaching; these outpourings have been
recorded by others, sometimes during the Prophet's life, sometimes later, from the memory
of His followers. The Founder of Bahá'í Faith, however, Himself took up pen and paper
and wrote down for humanity the revelation He received or dictated His message to
believers who served as secretaries.
Bahá'u'lláh addressed not only those timeless theological
and philosophical questions that have plagued humanity since antiquity--such as Who is
God? What is goodness? and Why are we here?--but also the questions that have preoccupied
20th century thinkers: What motivates human nature? Is real peace indeed possible? Does
God still care for humanity?
From His words, the worldwide community of Bahá'u'lláh
draws its inspiration, discovers its moral bearing and derives creative energy.
Bahá'u'lláh, whose name means "The Glory of God"
in Arabic, was born on 12 November 1817 in Teheran. The son of a wealthy government
minister, Mirza Buzurg-i-Nuri, His given name was Husayn-'Ali and His family could trace
its ancestry back to the great dynasties of Iran's imperial past. Bahá'u'lláh led a
princely life as a young man, receiving an education that focused largely on horsemanship,
swordsmanship, calligraphy and classic poetry.
In October 1835, Bahá'u'lláh married Asiyih Khanum, the
daughter of another nobleman. They had three children: a son, `Abdu'l-Bahá, born in 1844;
a daughter, Bahiyyih, born in 1846; and a son, Mihdi, born in 1848. Bahá'u'lláh 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 the Bábí movement.
Precursor to the Bahá'í Faith, the Bábí movement swept
Iran like a whirlwind--and stirred intense persecution from the religious establishment.
After the execution of its Founder, the Báb, Bahá'u'lláh was arrested and brought, in
chains and on foot, to Teheran. Influential members of the court and the clergy demanded a
death sentence. Bahá'u'lláh, however, was protected by His personal reputation and the
social position of His family, as well as by protests from Western embassies.
Therefore, He was cast into the notorious "Black
Pit," the Siyah-Chal in Persian. Authorities hoped this would result in His death.
Instead, the dungeon became the birthplace for a new religious revelation.
"This is the changeless Faith of God, eternal in the past,
eternal in the future." -- Bahá'u'lláh
Bahá'u'lláh spent four months in the Black Pit, during
which time he contemplated the full extent of His mission. "I was but a man like
others, asleep upon My couch, when lo, the breezes of the All-Glorious were wafted over
Me, and taught Me the knowledge of all that hath been," He later wrote. "This
thing is not from Me, but the One Who is Almighty and All-Knowing. And He bade Me lift up
My voice between earth and heaven..." continues