When Baha’u’llah was born at the hour of dawn on this day in 1817, Baha’is believe the means for the establishment of the long-awaited unity of the entire human race came into being.
Baha’u’llah, when he began teaching the Baha’i Faith in the spring of 1863, promised that the religious, racial and nationalistic hatreds dividing the peoples of the world would soon be overcome. He said the fanaticism that separated human beings was now annulled. He asked humanity to transcend their prejudices and forget the things that kept them apart. He opened the way for lasting world peace based on a new spiritual foundation. He raised the great call for the unity of all peoples and cultures, all nations and religions, which all the prophets of old had promised would one day appear.
Those profound reasons, and many more, inspire the global Baha’i community to enthusiastically and joyously celebrate this day—the Birth of Baha’u’llah, the second of the Baha’i Twin Holy Days—every year.
In the same way that Buddhists celebrate the birth of Prince Siddhartha every year; in the same way that Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus every year on Christmas; in the same way that every great Faith annually commemorates the birth of its founder, Baha’is view the advent of their prophet as a major turning point in the world’s evolution:
The Revelation which, from time immemorial, hath been acclaimed as the Purpose and Promise of all the Prophets of God, and the most cherished Desire of His Messengers, hath now, by virtue of the pervasive Will of the Almighty and at His irresistible bidding, been revealed unto men. The advent of such a Revelation hath been heralded in all the sacred Scriptures. – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 5.
Baha’u’llah’s birth represents hope and joy and the coming of a spiritual springtime, when the whole world awakens to the beautiful message he brought. Baha’is believe that Baha’u’llah, the most recent messenger and founder of a global Faith, is the latest channel of God’s grace to humanity. He brings the unity of all peoples, the fulfillment of the age-old promise of the Kingdom of God come to earth.
Born in the capital city of Persia, Tehran, Baha’u’llah grew up as the son of a government minister and nobleman—but rather than pursuing his father’s career, early in his adulthood Baha’u’llah turned to a life of service to the poor and needy. He sought no position or prominence, and accepted the religion of the Bab, which subjected Baha’u’llah and his family to terrible privation, persecution and imprisonment. Thirteen years after the government’s execution of the Bab in 1850, Baha’u’llah announced that he was the one heralded by the Bab—God’s messenger for humanity’s golden age of unity and peace, foretold in all the world’s scriptures.
Baha’u’llah taught that no distinction of station exists between any of the prophets of God. No Baha’i claims that the stations of the Bab or Baha’u’llah are superior to the stations of any of God’s messengers. In fact, Baha’is view all of the messengers and prophets of God as one.
Baha’is believe that Baha’u’llah’s message is intended not for one people or culture, one language or nation, but is meant for all peoples. The coming of age of the human species, the time when the human race might recognize itself as one, discover its fullness and its common humanity, has arrived.
That’s why the Baha’i Twin Holy Days mark the first universal holy day to be vouchsafed to everyone by a loving God.
Today marks the first day in human history which can be celebrated as sacred by all peoples, no matter what their background. Jewish people may discover the birth of the Messiah, and Christians recognize the return of Christ. Muslims might celebrate the reappearance of the Hidden Imam or the birth of the promised Qa’im. The Zoroastrians can rejoice at the birth of their king, the Shah Bahram; the Buddhist can find the Maitreya Buddha, the supremely enlightened One; the Hindu recognize the reincarnation of Krishna, born to reestablish righteousness on earth.
So this, the Baha’i teachings say, is the first event in human history that people of all traditions and all cultures can claim as their own. Happy Birthday of Baha’u’llah!