Bahai celebrations

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TODAY, November 12th, the Baha’i community of Lewis and their friends will join with similar celebrations in over 100,000 localities around the world to celebrate the 194th anniversary of the birth of Baha’u’llah, the founder of the Baha’i Faith.

Speaking to Edward Granville Browne, the Cambridge University scholar who interviewed him in 1890, Baha’u’llah said: “We desire the good of the world and the happiness of the nations, that the bonds of affection and unity between the sons of men should be strengthened… what harm is there in this? … these fruitless strifes, these ruinous wars shall pass away, and the ‘Most Great Peace’ shall come.”

These words provide an outline of the aim of Baha’u’llah’s teachings and the work of the Baha’i community today.

In an island such as Isle of Lewis, it is always beneficial for people of any or no religious background to learn a little more about the founders of the world’s religious systems. Such knowledge helps one better understand his or her own belief as well as connect with others.

Islanders will find learning about Baha’u’llah to be particularly interesting because, in addition to restating the moral teachings of the founders of all the world’s great religions, he also wrote about global issues such as international language, global governance and others.

Born in Tehran in 1817, Baha’u’llah received a prophetic intimation in 1852 while being a religious prisoner in an underground dungeon.

After being released from four months in this dungeon, he was exiled to several cities in the Ottoman Empire: Baghdad, Constantinople and Adrianople, before being finally sent to the prison-fortress of Akka in what is now Israel.

He wrote over 100 volumes of teachings, mostly in Persian and Arabic.

Quite a few of his writings have been translated into English and are available for free on the Web or in audio format on ITunes. Of particular interest may be his letters to specific rulers of the late nineteenth century, including Queen Victoria, Napoleon III, Kaiser Wilhelm I, Pope Pius IX and others.

Wherever Bahais are celebrating around the world, Baha’is will hold a place in their hearts for over one hundred Bahais in Iran – who will be celebrating this day in their prison cells.

They will, no doubt, recall the words of the Russian writer Leo Tolstoy who became familiar with the Baha’i teachings late in his life. He said: “We spend our lives trying to unlock the mystery of the universe, but there was a Turkish prisoner, Baha’u’llah, in Akka, Palestine, who had the key!”