Birth of Baha'u'llahBahá'u'lláh was born on November 12, 1817, two years before the Báb, Whose revelation set the stage for His own. As with the Báb, there are no elaborate traditions surrounding His birth. He was born Husayn Alíy-i-Núrí in Tehran. His father was Mírzá Abbás Núrí, also known as Mírzá Buzurg, a prominent and wealthy man who had been a minister at the court of Fath-'Alí Sháh and subsequently the governor of Burujird and Luristan. When Fath-'Alí Sháh died in 1834, his son Muhammad Sháh executed a government purge in which Mírzá Buzurg was stripped of his title and his government salary but retained the Núrí family estates.
Bahá'u'lláh's early life reflected his well-to-do circumstances. He received the education typical of a child of the minor nobility: riding, calligraphy, and Arabic (so as to be able to read the Qur'án). Yet unlike many privileged children, He developed no attachment to wealth and ease.
As with Jesus and the Báb, a few stories have been handed down regarding Bahá'u'lláh's childhood, stories that indicate He was no ordinary boy. A number of these were compiled by Hand of the Cause of God 'Alí-Akbar Furútan in his book, Stories of Bahá'u'lláh. One parallels an old Christian tradition about the infant Jesus:
"The mother of [Bahá'u'lláh] was so enthralled with Him that she could not contain her amazement at His behavior. 'This child never cries,' she would say; 'He is so unlike other babies who cry and scream and are forever restless while in the nursing stage..."
Bahá'u'lláh developed a fine sense of justice and fairness at a very young age. Throughout His life He would display these qualities, but perhaps one of the most remarkable demonstrations of this came while He was still a child. He witnessed three confrontations between His father and a tax collector who was "in a cruel and unjust manner" demanding payment. Incensed, Bahá'u'lláh rode to Tehran, a journey of two days, and sought the dismissal of the "tyrannical" tax collector. Incredibly, He was successful in His quest.
The youthful Bahá'u'lláh's wisdom and spiritual insight were also often remarked. It was said that He could resolve problems nobody else could, and His deep knowledge of the Qur'án and the Hadíth astounded many learned men. The well-known scholar Shaykh Muhammad-Taqí, once asked a gathering of about a thousand students to explain a particular saying from the Hadíth. None were able to reply until Bahá'u'lláh, who had received no formal education, gave an explanation that left the great man silent. The next day he berated his students, who had had twenty-five years of instruction, for failing to explain what Bahá'u'lláh had elucidated so well.
His generosity was also noted. Indeed, as a young man He became known as "the Father of the Poor" for His extraordinary generosity and regard for the impoverished. It seemed that the trappings of wealth held little importance for Him, even though He had grown up surrounded by them. The things of the spirit were always His main focus in life.
That life, as it turned out, would be very much like his childhood dream. He embraced the Báb's new religion immediately upon reading the Báb's letter to him, relayed by Mullá Husayn. Although He never met the Báb, He became one of His foremost followers and suffered a brief imprisonment and torture as a result. After the Báb's execution in 1850, Bahá'u'lláh Himself was imprisoned on false charges. His property was declared confiscate and His house sacked by a mob. He was released from prison only to be exiled to Baghdád in Iraq. His revelation, born in the prison in Tehran, would be publicly declared ten years later as He was preparing for a second exile to Constantinople. That exile was followed by forced transfers to Adrianople and finally to the distant prison-city of Akká, in the Holy Land near Mt. Carmel. Throughout these 40 years of imprisonment and exile, Bahá'u'lláh would be beset by enemies in the government, the clergy and even within His own family. Several attempts on His life would leave their marks upon Him. Yet through it all, He remained as He had been in His childhood: a person of deep spiritual insight and wisdom, dedicated to justice and integrity, full of goodness and generosity. In short, He was One through whom the light of God illuminated the world.
For Bahá'ís, the Birth of Bahá'u'lláh is a Holy Day celebrating the rebirth of the world through the love of God, just as Christmas is for Christians. We invite everyone to join us in this joyous occasion.