Reflecting on the Birth of Baha’u’llah
Today, Baha’is prepare to celebrate the Birth of Baha’u’llah—one of the most important days in our calendar. Baha’u’llah is the Prophet-Founder of the Baha’i Faith and was born in Persia in 1817. Across the world, Baha’is celebrate this day in different ways, but the hallmarks of our celebrations are often joy, reverence, and fellowship. Often we remind each other through songs, prayer, or presentations of Baha’u’llah’s childhood years or life in exile from Persia, and share uplifting stories. You can learn more about Baha’u’llah’s childhood here.
It’s also around this time of year that I find myself using Google to search facts about Baha’u’llah’s life—more than I usually would do. So during this time, I steel myself against something that I hope my search doesn’t return: a photograph of Baha’u’llah.
“For Baha’is, the station of Baha’u’llah is such that even His photograph is very precious. It should, therefore, only be viewed with the utmost reverence and respect and not displayed openly, even in the private homes of Baha’is.” – excerpt from Bahaullah.org
I think this feeling of reverence can be hard for some folks to understand—especially when representations of other Manifestations—or Prophets—of God are quite common in houses of worship, film, and even pop culture. But the thing is, I’m not irrationally afraid to see a picture of Baha’u’llah. I don’t think anything catastrophic like floods or famine will rain down on me if I happen upon an image online. But it feels disrespectful—and ultimately, when I place my belief in the Baha’i Faith, I am inspired to a whole new level of respect for Baha’u’llah.
Every day is another chance to refine my understanding of Baha’u’llah’s life and station. And I’ve got too many things to worry about to be too caught up in whether or not I might accidentally stumble upon a website displaying a picture of Baha’u’llah. And however disrespectful I might find it, who am I to say how disrespectful it is—if it’s any more disrespectful than the treatment that Baha’u’llah endured in His own lifetime. I know that Baha’u’llah remained patient and magnanimous in those situations.
For instance, in The Dawn-Breakers, there’s a story about an elderly woman who throws a stone at Baha’u’llah.
“As He was approaching the dungeon, an 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, 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 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.” p. 606-608
So, I guess that as I wish my Baha’i friends a happy holy day, I’ll keep in mind Baha’u’llah’s humility and sacrifice that He shared with all the world… whether we or not we can recognize the value. I’m certainly trying to get there little by little, day by day.
Have a happy holy day, friends!