On 29 May, Canadian Baha’i communities will mark the 122nd anniversary of the passing of Baha’u’llah, the Founder of the Baha’i Faith. “Baha’u’llah” is a title meaning “the Glory of God” in Arabic. Baha’is consider Baha’u’llah to be the latest in a line of Divine Messengers that includes Krishna, Buddha, Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed, Who have brought divine teachings for the spiritual education of humankind.
Baha’u’llah passed away in the early hours of 29 May 1892 in His home outside of Acre, a fortified city that once served as a notorious prison of the Ottoman Empire. Unlike the suffering and turmoil He experienced for most of His adult life, His last moments were peaceful.
Born into a noble family in Tehran, Iran, Baha’u’llah rejected a life of relative ease and luxury in the royal court for a life dedicated to helping the poor. Known as “The Father of the Poor,” Baha’u’llah was deeply loved and respected for his virtuous character and wisdom. However, for accepting the teachings of the Herald of the Bahai Faith, known as “The Bab,” Baha’u’llah was among those persecuted by civil and clerical Persian authorities, who feared social change brought about by the progressive teachings of the Bab. This persecution intensified as Baha’u’llah began to share His own teachings: that there is only one God, that all of the world’s religions are from God, that unity and peace are now possible for the peoples of the world through the recognition of the oneness of humanity, and many others.
Fearful of losing their influence over a population that was increasingly attracted to Baha’u’llah and His revelation, the authorities exiled Him, first to Baghdad by the authority of the Persian government, and then as a prisoner of the Turkish Empire, to Constantinople (Istanbul), Adrianople (Edirne), and finally to the city of Akka (Acre) – then part of the Ottoman Empire and now in Israel. Baha’u’llah and His companions first arrived in Acre in 1868, 15 years after the beginning of their exile from their Persian homeland. Although in 1879 the authorities permitted Him to live outside the walls of the city, Baha’u’llah would remain a prisoner until His passing in 1892, having spent almost 40 years in exile.
Today, Baha’u’llah’s teachings are His legacy to the five million Baha’is around the world. His burial site, adjacent to the home where He lived during His final years, is a shrine considered by Baha’is to be the most sacred spot on earth. The Shrine of Baha’u’llah, in the vicinity of the city of Akka, is surrounded by magnificent gardens that are open to the public.
Baha’is will commemorate the Ascension of Baha’u’llah with devotional programs and reflections on His life and teachings. Baha’is observe this commemoration as one of nine holy days during the year.