Column: The bicentenary of the birth of religious leader known as BahÃ¡'u'llÃ¡h
This year is the bicentenary of the birth of Baha'u'llÃ¡h.
In Sheffield, the Bahá’í community is celebrating the 200th anniversary of the birth of Bahá’u’lláh, the founder of the Bahá’í Faith.
These celebrations are taking place all over the world and represent a time in which thousands of diverse communities are giving creative expression to Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings on world unity.
“The conviction that we belong to one human family is at the heart of the Bahá’í Faith”, explained Anisa Haddad, a medical doctor living in Sheffield and a member of the Bahá’í Faith.
“Bahá’u’lláh compared the world of humanity to the human body, where millions of cells cooperate to maintain a healthy system. Every individual is a member of the body of humanity and this means that prejudice – whether racial, religious or gender related – must be totally eliminated if we are to advance the principles of unity, equality and justice in our world.”
Some other of Bahá’u’lláh’s spiritual and social teachings include: Oneness of God; Oneness of religion; Independent investigation of truth; Harmony between science and religion; Equality of women and men; Abolition of the extremes of wealth and poverty and Universal education.
Bahá’u’lláh was born in 1817 in Tehran, the capital of Iran.
In these 200 years, the Bahá’í Faith has become the second fastest growing religion in the world. “Bahá’u’lláh was the son of a distinguished minister in the court of the Shah and, from childhood, showed extraordinary qualities and wisdom”, explained Mahshid Golzar, an Iranian PhD student at the University of Sheffield.
“Instead of accepting the same high position in court as his father, he dedicated his time to helping the oppressed, the sick and the poor and soon became known as a champion of justice. He continued to devote himself to uplifting and the education of all people until the end of His life.”
Bahá’u’lláh, who Bahá’is believe is the messenger of God for today and the fulfilment of the prophecies of past religions, proclaimed the oneness of the world of humanity and taught that all are created by one God.
He explained that all religions are from one source and are progressive in nature; the teachings from God for today are suited to the conditions and needs of a humanity that is now approaching maturity.
The kings of the east and the priesthood of Iran arose against Bahá’u’lláh and he was persecuted and put in chains.
He was banished from Iran to Baghdad, then Turkey, and finally he was imprisoned in the prison-city of Akka, Israel (part of the Ottoman Empire at that time) where He passed away in 1892.
While people made every effort to lessen his greatness, Bahá’u’lláh’s fame and influence grew day by day.
He suffered without recompense and his teachings of love, peace and transformation continue to embrace millions upon millions of the earth’s inhabitants. Bahá’ís and their community-building efforts are to be found in every single country of the world.
“The Sheffield Bahá’í community has been growing since 1950”, explained Philip Croft, a longstanding member of the Sheffield community, “and we are learning to use Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings to bring peace to our communities”.
Today, community activities across Sheffield involve working with people from all walks of life – regardless of their religion, or age, or ethnicity, or gender – for the spiritual and moral education of children, the empowerment of youth, for spaces of worship and prayer, and to develop the qualities, attitudes and skills for service to our community.
These activities are open to everyone, with their purpose being to raise the capacity of more and more people to take charge of their spiritual, social, and intellectual progress.
At a time when political, social and religious tensions are hardening, the crucial need facing humanity is to find a unifying vision of the future of society and of the nature and purpose of life.
The 200th anniversary of Bahá’u’lláh’s birth is an invitation for everyone to collaborate to bring about unity in our communities, animated by His teachings that “the earth is but one country and mankind its citizens”.
If you are interested in learning more about the Bahá’í Faith and its activities, you can contact the Sheffield Bahá’ís at 07477799482, visit sheffieldbahais.org.uk and/or [email protected] email address.