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
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
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--which today 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.
In the past, God's Messengers have for the most part presented their messages to humanity by
speaking or preaching; these outpourings have been recorded by others, sometimes during the
Prophet's life, sometimes later, from the memory of His followers. The Founder of the Bahá'í Faith,
however, Himself took up pen and paper and wrote down for humanity the revelation He received or
dictated His message to believers who served as secretaries.
Bahá'u'lláh addressed not only those timeless theological and philosophical questions that have
plagued humanity since antiquity--such as Who is God? What is goodness? and Why are we
here?--but also the questions that have preoccupied 20th century thinkers: What motivates human
nature? Is real peace indeed possible? Does God still care for humanity?
From His words, the worldwide community of Bahá'u'lláh draws its inspiration, discovers its moral
bearing and derives creative energy.
Bahá'u'lláh, whose name means "The Glory of God" in Arabic, was born on 12 November 1817 in
Tehran. The son of a wealthy government minister, Mirza Buzurg-i-Nuri, His given name was
Husayn-`Ali and His family could trace its ancestry back to the great dynasties of Iran's imperial past.
Bahá'u'lláh led a princely life as a young man, receiving an education that focused largely on
horsemanship, swordsmanship, calligraphy and classic poetry.
"Consort with the followers of all religions in a spirit
of friendliness & fellowship."