In the middle of the last century, one of the most notorious dungeons in the Near East was Tehran's "Black Pit." Once the underground reservoir for a public bath, its only outlet was a single passage down three steep flights of stone steps. Prisoners huddled in their own bodily wastes, languishing in the pit's inky gloom, subterranean cold and stench-ridden atmosphere.
In this grim setting, the rarest and most cherished of religious events was once again played out: mortal man, outwardly human in other respects, was summoned by God to bring to humanity a new religious revelation.
The year was 1852, and the man was a Persian nobleman, known today as Bahá'u'lláh. During His imprisonment, as He sat with his feet in stocks and a 100-pound iron chain around his neck, Bahá'u'lláh received a vision of God's will for humanity.
The event is comparable to those great moments of the ancient past when God revealed Himself to His earlier Messengers: when Moses stood before the Burning Bush; when the Buddha received enlightenment under the Bodhi tree; when the Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, descended upon Jesus; or when the archangel Gabriel appeared to Muhammad.
Bahá'u'lláh's experience in the Black Pit set in motion a process of religious revelation which, over the next 40 years, led to the production of thousands of books, tablets and letters that form the core of the sacred scripture of Bahá'í Faith. In those writings, He outlined a framework for the reconstruction of human society at all levels: spiritual, moral, economic, political, and philosophical MORE>>>>
The Báb, Forerunner of Bahá'u'lláh
"His life is one of the most magnificent examples of courage which it has been the privilege of mankind to behold..." The object of this tribute by the prominent French writer A.L.M. Nicolas was the nineteenth century prophetic figure known to history as the Báb.
Millenial fervor gripped many peoples throughout the world during the first half of the nineteenth century; while Christians expected the return of Christ, a wave of expectation swept through Islam that the "Lord of the Age" would appear. Both Christians and Muslims envisioned that, with fulfillment of the prophecies in their scriptures, a new spiritual age was about to begin.
In Persia, this messianic ferment reached a dramatic climax on May 23, 1844, when a young merchant--the Báb--announced that He was the Bearer of a long- promised Divine Revelation destined to transform the spiritual life of the human race. "O peoples of the earth," the Báb declared, "Give ear unto God's holy Voice...Verily the resplendent Light of God hath appeared in your midst, invested with this unerring Book, that ye may be guided aright to the ways of peace..." Against a backdrop of widescale moral breakdown in Persian society, the Báb's declaration that spiritual renewal and social advancement rested on "love and compassion" rather "than force and coercion," aroused hope and excitement among all classes, and He quickly attracted thousands of followers. MORE>>>>
'Abdu'l-Bahá: the Center of the Covenant
My name is `Abdu'l-Bahá [literally, Servant of Baha]. My qualification is `Abdu'l-Bahá. My reality is `Abdu'l-Bahá. My praise is `Abdu'l-Bahá. Thraldom to the Blessed Perfection [Bahá'u'lláh] is my glorious and refulgent diadem, and servitude to all the human race my perpetual religion... No name, no title, no mention, no commendation have I, nor will ever have, except `Abdu'l-Bahá. This is my longing. This is my greatest yearning. This is my eternal life. This is my everlasting glory. MORE>>>>