Baha’u’llah– (ba há ool lá), n. (Mirza Husayn Ali), 1817-92, founder of the Baha’i Faith.

The founder of the Baha’i Faith, the newest of the world’s great religions, Baha’u’llah lived a tumultuous and inspirational life. His Faith now followed by millions in every corner of the globe, Baha’u’llah suffered tremendously for bringing the world a new, progressive, peaceful belief system.

Named Mirza Husayn Ali when he was born into a noble and prosperous family in the early 19th Century in Persia, as a young man Baha’u’llah became known throughout his country as the Father of the Poor, for his extensive philanthropic work to alleviate hunger and suffering. Raised in his father’s Islamic faith, Baha’u’llah broke away from those traditions by becoming a Babi, the revolutionary new belief that promised the advent of a messenger from God who would unite the world’s peoples, nations and religions.

Imprisoned and impoverished himself for those beliefs, Baha’u’llah, his family and his followers suffered through a series of subsequent banishments, repeatedly exiled by the Ottoman government from Tehran to Baghdad to Constantinople to Adrianople and finally to Akka, a prison colony in Palestine. Baha’u’llah spent the last forty years of his life, from 1852 to 1892, in prison or under house arrest.

While enduring torture and privation, Baha’u’llah gradually revealed the mystical teachings and spiritual principles that formed the Baha’i Faith—the oneness of humanity, the essential unity of all religions and the love of one God for the entire creation. Baha’u’llah also taught the equality of men and women, the agreement of science and religion, and the core Baha’i concept called progressive revelation, which links all of the great Faiths throughout humanity’s history in a chain of continuous guidance from God.

The Baha’i Faith spread rapidly. Despite opposition to its modern, progressive teachings from fundamentalist clergy and governments, it quickly expanded across the globe, attracting millions and becoming the world’s second-most widespread religion at the end of the 20th century. Baha’u’llah’s teachings continue to compel Baha’is everywhere to work for unity and peace.