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This is much more than a birthday party, though. When Baha’u’llah was born at the hour of dawn on October 27th 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 began teaching the newly-revealed Baha’i Faith in the spring of 1863. His revelation promised that the religious, racial, and nationalistic hatreds dividing the peoples of the world would soon be overcome. He said the violence, war, and fanaticism that separated human beings was obsolete. He asked humanity to transcend their prejudices and forget the things that keep 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.
For those profound reasons, and many more, the global Baha’i community enthusiastically and joyously celebrates this day every year – the Birth of Baha’u’llah, the second of the Baha’i Twin Holy Days.
Of course, every religion recognizes the birth of its founder. In the same way that Buddhists celebrate the birth of Gautama Buddha on Vesak each 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 mark Baha’u’llah’s birth with joy and happiness.
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.
In any age, the birth of a new messenger of God represents hope and joy and the coming of a spiritual springtime, when the whole world begins to awaken to that beautiful new divine message. 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, the one who brings the unity of all peoples, the fulfillment of the age-old promise of the kingdom of God come to Earth.
Born more than two centuries ago in the capital city of Persia, Tehran, Baha’u’llah grew up as the son of a government minister and nobleman. 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.
However, you won’t find a sense of triumphalism among the Baha’is, because Baha’u’llah taught that no distinction of station exists between any of the messengers 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 previous messengers. In fact, Baha’is view all of the messengers and prophets of God as one.
Baha’u’llah proclaimed that his message is for every human being, intended not for one people or culture, one language or nation, but meant for all peoples. He announced that the coming of age of the human species, the time when the human race has the potential to recognize itself as one, discover its fullness and its common humanity, has arrived.
So the Baha’i Twin Holy Days mark the first universal holy day to be vouchsafed to everyone by a loving God – a shared world celebration.
This is the first day in human history that can be celebrated as sacred by all peoples, no matter what their background. In Baha’u’llah’s birthday 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 and the birth of the promised Qa’im. The Zoroastrians can rejoice at the birth of their king, the Shah Bahram; Buddhists can find the Maitreya Buddha, the supremely enlightened One. Hindus can recognize in Baha’u’llah the return 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!