Who was Bahá’u’lláh
Bahá’u’lláh was born in 1817 into the Persian nobility, heir to great wealth and a position in the court of the Shah. Because of His recognition of the teachings of the Bab (the forerunner of Baha’u’llah), and His own claim to divine revelation, he was stripped of his title and wealth, persecuted, tortured, exiled and imprisoned. Many thousands of His followers, as well, endured similar sufferings. After being exiled to Baghdad, Istanbul and then Adrianople, Baha’u’llah was finally banished to the prison city of Akka in 1868. He was eventually released in 1877 and, thereafter, lived in the area surrounding the city until His death in 1892.
During the forty years of his imprisonment and exile Bahá’u’lláh wrote the equivalent of over 100 volumes. These works constitute the foundation of the Bahá’í scriptures and the bedrock of the Bahá’í belief system. The major religious texts He revealed include: The Seven Valleys and the Four Valleys, The Hidden Words, the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, the Kitáb-i-Íqán, and the Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, as well as an estimated fifteen thousand Tablets addressed to individuals.
the life of Bahá’u’lláh
That night, as the mob approached, Baha’u’llah ordered His brother Kalim to open the door to the outer apartment and to let the Kurds in and serve them refreshments. Baha’u’llah then entered and spoke to them, transforming their anger and murderous intent into acceptance and affection. The Kurds left Baha’u’llah’s home having harmed no one.
When Baha’u’llah was in Baghdad there were a number of religious leaders who actively sought His destruction. They tried to have Baha’u’llah arrested. When that failed, they put a bounty on His head. When the hardened assassin lost his courage, the clerics (‘ulamá) then tried inciting mob violence against Baha’u’llah. All of these efforts came to nothing. Frustrated In their attempts to kill Baha’u’llah, the ‘ulamá decided to try to disgrace Him, by issuing Him a challenge that He could not meet.
“… the Persian ‘ulamá who were at Karbilá and Najaf chose a wise man whom they sent on a mission to Him; his name was Mullá Ḥasan ‘Amú. He came into the Holy Presence, and proposed a number of questions on behalf of the ‘ulamá, to which Bahá’u’lláh replied. Then Ḥasan ‘Amú said, “The ‘ulamá recognize without hesitation and confess the knowledge and virtue of Bahá’u’lláh, and they are unanimously convinced that in all learning he has no peer or equal; and it is also evident that he has never studied or acquired this learning; but still the ‘ulamá say, ‘We are not contented with this; we do not acknowledge the reality of his mission by virtue of his wisdom and righteousness. Therefore, we ask him to show us a miracle in order to satisfy and tranquilize our hearts.’
Bahá’u’lláh replied, “Although you have no right to ask this, for God should test His creatures, and they should not test God, still I allow and accept this request. But the Cause of God is not a theatrical display that is presented every hour, of which some new diversion may be asked for every day. If it were thus, the Cause of God would become mere child’s play.
The ‘ulamás must, therefore, assemble, and, with one accord, choose one miracle, and write that, after the performance of this miracle they will no longer entertain doubts about Me, and that all will acknowledge and confess the truth of My Cause. Let them seal this paper, and bring it to Me. This must be the accepted criterion: if the miracle is performed, no doubt will remain for them; and if not, We shall be convicted of imposture.” The learned man, Ḥasan ‘Amú, rose and replied, “There is no more to be said”; he then kissed the knee of the Blessed One although he was not a believer, and went. He gathered the ‘ulamá and gave them the sacred message. They consulted together and said, “This man is an enchanter; perhaps he will perform an enchantment, and then we shall have nothing more to say.” Acting on this belief, they did not dare to push the matter further.
This man, Ḥasan ‘Amú, mentioned this fact at many meetings. After leaving Karbilá he went to Kirmansháh and Ṭihrán and spread a detailed account of it everywhere, laying emphasis on the fear and the withdrawal of the ‘ulamá. “
Though there was absolutely no evidence that Baha’u’llah had been involved in the plot, He was thrown into the most terrible dungeon in Tihran known as the Black Pit (Siyah Chal). One of two chains weighing over 100 pounds was placed around Baha’u’llah’s neck during the entire time He was imprisoned in the dungeon. He bore the scars of these chains for the rest of His life. Of his experience in the Black Pit, Baha’u’llah writes:
“We were consigned for four months to a place foul beyond comparison. As to the dungeon in which this Wronged One and others similarly wronged were confined, a dark and narrow pit were preferable. Upon Our arrival We were first conducted along a pitch-black corridor, from whence We descended three steep flights of stairs to the place of confinement assigned to Us. The dungeon was wrapped in thick darkness, and Our fellow prisoners numbered nearly a hundred and fifty souls: thieves, assassins and highwaymen. Though crowded, it had no other outlet than the passage by which We entered. No pen can depict that place, nor any tongue describe its loathsome smell. Most of these men had neither clothes nor bedding to lie on. God alone knoweth what befell Us in that most foul-smelling and gloomy place!”
While imprisoned in the Black Pit, Baha’u’llah had a number of mystical and Divine experiences. Baha’u’llah designates this period as the beginning of His Mission and describes one of those experiences in this way:
“While engulfed in tribulations I heard a most wondrous, a most sweet voice, calling above My head. Turning My face, I beheld a Maiden—the embodiment of the remembrance of the name of My Lord—suspended in the air before Me. So rejoiced was she in her very soul that her countenance shone with the ornament of the good-pleasure of God, and her cheeks glowed with the brightness of the All-Merciful. Betwixt earth and heaven she was raising a call which captivated the hearts and minds of men. She was imparting to both My inward and outer being tidings which rejoiced My soul, and the souls of God’s honored servants.
Pointing with her finger unto My head, she addressed all who are in heaven and all who are on earth, saying: ‘By God! This is the Best-Beloved of the worlds, and yet ye comprehend not. This is the Beauty of God amongst you, and the power of His sovereignty within you, could ye but understand. This is the Mystery of God and His Treasure, the Cause of God and His glory unto all who are in the kingdoms of Revelation and of creation, if ye be of them that perceive. This is He Whose Presence is the ardent desire of the denizens of the Realm of eternity, and of them the dwell within the Tabernacle of glory, and yet from His Beauty do ye turn aside.’”
“All along the route, He was pelted and vilified by the crowds whom His enemies had succeeded in convincing that He was the sworn enemy of their sovereign and the wrecker of his realm. Words fail me to portray the horror of the treatment which was meted out to Him as He was being taken to the Síyáh-Chál of Tihrán. As He was approaching the dungeon, and old and decrepit woman was seen to emerge from the midst of the crowd, with a stone in her hand, eager to cast it at the face of Bahá’u’lláh. Her eyes glowed with a determination and fanaticism of which few women of her age were capable. Her whole frame shook with rage as she stepped forward and raised her hand to hurl her missile at Him. “By the Siyyidu’sh-Shuhada (the grandson of the Prophet Mohammad), I adjure you,” she pleaded, as she ran to overtake those into whose hands Bahá’u’lláh had been delivered, “give me a chance to fling my stone in his face!” “Suffer not this woman to be disappointed,” were Bahá’u’lláh’s words to His guards, as He saw her hastening behind Him. “Deny her not what she regards as a meritorious act in the sight of God.”