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When you think about how religions celebrate the birth of their founders, Christmas or Mawlid or Vesak might come to mind. But what about the Baha'i Faith and Baha’u’llah?
Baha’u’llah’s birthday, that day when Baha’is believe the means for the establishment of the long-awaited unity of the entire human race came into being, definitely qualifies as a joyous celebration.
Baha’is celebrate because 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. Baha’u’llah asked humanity to transcend their prejudices and forget the things that kept them apart. He opened the way for lasting world peace and justice based on a new spiritual foundation. He raised the great call for the unity of all peoples and cultures, all nations and religions, which the prophets of old had promised would one day occur:
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.
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 during Vesak; in the same way that Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus every year on Christmas; in the same way that Muslims observe the birth of Muhammad during Mawlid; the great Faiths annually commemorate the birth of their prophets and founders, the divine luminaries who light the world’s collective consciousness. Baha’is celebrate the birth of Baha’u’llah in that same spirit, knowing that the dawning of a new religious revelation in the world has enormous positive ramifications for all humanity:
Even as the visible sun that assisteth, as decreed by God, the true One, the Adored, in the development of all earthly things, such as the trees, the fruits, and colours thereof, the minerals of the earth, and all that may be witnessed in the world of creation, so do the divine Luminaries, by their loving care and educative influence, cause the trees of divine unity, the fruits of His oneness, the leaves of detachment, the blossoms of knowledge and certitude, and the myrtles of wisdom and utterance, to exist and be made manifest. Thus it is that through the rise of these Luminaries of God the world is made new, the waters of everlasting life stream forth, the billows of loving-kindness surge, the clouds of grace are gathered, and the breeze of bounty bloweth upon all created things. - Baha’u’llah, The Book of Certitude, pp. 33-34.
So for Baha’is, Baha’u’llah’s birth represents hope and joy and the coming of a spiritual springtime. Baha’is believe that Baha’u’llah, the most recent messenger and founder of a global Faith, represents the latest channel of God’s grace to humanity. He brings the promise of world peace, the long-awaited unity of all peoples, the fulfillment of the age-old promise of the Kingdom of God come to Earth.
Born and raised 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 his attention to a life of service to the poor and needy. He sought no position or prominence, and as a young man 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 foretold by the Bab—God’s messenger for humanity’s dawning golden age of unity and peace, promised in all the world's scriptures:
A trusted messenger hath arrived and hath, in the world of the spirit, delivered a message from God's loved ones. This auspicious courier bringeth fragrances of great ardour and wafteth the life-giving breezes of the love of God. He maketh the heart to dance for joy and filleth up the soul with an ecstasy of love and rapture. So intensely hath the glory of Divine Unity penetrated souls and hearts that all are now bound one to another with heavenly ties, and all are even as a single heart, a single soul. - Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, p. 19.
After his declaration in 1863, Baha’u’llah taught that no distinction of station exists between any of the prophets of God. He asked the Baha’is to view all of the messengers and prophets of God as one. So Baha’u’llah’s message is intended not for select peoples or cultures, a single language or nation, but is meant for all peoples.
Baha’u’llah’s advent announced that 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. The Baha'i Twin Holy Days, then, signify the first universal celebration given to everyone by a loving Creator: “These two days are accounted as one in the sight of God.” -Baha’u’llah, The Most Holy Book, p. 105.
So today marks the first time in human history which all people can celebrate as sacred, no matter what their background. Jewish people can discover the birth of the Messiah, and Christians recognize the return of Christ. Muslims can 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.
The Baha'i teachings say that the twin birthdays of the Bab and Baha’u’llah represent the first event in human history that people of all traditions and all cultures can claim, commemorate and celebrate as their own.
Happy Birthday of Baha’u’llah!