Night Vigil – the Sun of Baha has set

shrine of baha'u'llah the sun of baha has set

At 3.00 am on 29 May 1892, Bahá’u’lláh left this mortal world. He had lived 75 years. Abdu’l Baha, his eldest son, immediately sent a telegram to the Ottoman Sultan Abdu’l Hamid:  “… the Sun of Baha has set“.

On the night of 28 or 29 May, depending on the Baha’i calendar, Baha’is around the world, gather in the middle of the night to commemorate the Ascension of Bahá’u’lláh: a vigil offering prayers and reading passages memorialising Bahá’u’lláh’s life and passing.

Most of Bahá’u’lláh’s life was full of hardship – of deprivation – exile and imprisonment. As a young man he was heir to a fortune, being a nobleman of Persia. When he died – he left no material possessions to his heirs.

THE Ancient Beauty hath consented to be bound with chains that mankind may be released from its bondage, and hath accepted to be made a prisoner within this most mighty Stronghold that the whole world may attain unto true liberty. He hath drained to its dregs the cup of sorrow, that all the peoples of the earth may attain unto abiding joy, and be filled with gladness.[1]

Bahá’u’lláh’s life’s work saw the emergence of the Baha’i Faith as an independent world religion.

From 1852 when he first received his earliest revelations in the darkness of a dungeon, until 1892, when he passed away, Bahá’u’lláh had been engaged in promulgating his teachings of the oneness of humanity — and all the implications of that principle.

By his passing, his Faith – still small and fragile — had reached as far as India in the East, to Russia in the north and was present in Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Palestine, Syria and Egypt.  In 1893, a year after Bahá’u’lláh’s passing, the words of Bahá’u’lláh were publicly spoken for the first time in North America, by Reverend Henry Jessup at the World Parliament of Religions.

That all nations should become one in faith and all men as brothers; that the bonds of affection and unity between the sons of men should be strengthened; that diversity of religions should cease and differences of race be annulled. What harm is there in this? Yet so it shall be. These fruitless strifes, these ruinous wars shall pass away, and the ‘Most Great Peace’ shall come. Do not you in Europe need this also? Let not a man glory in this, that he loves his country; let him rather glory in this, that he loves his kind.[2]

By his passing, Bahá’u’lláh’s writings constituted a large corpus of works. They have since been translated into hundreds of languages. In them are contained a coherent body of teachings for the reform and emancipation of the human condition and for the fostering of human welfare.

Now, almost 200 years since Bahá’u’lláh’s birth, his teachings are known around the world. Those who have devoted their lives to promoting his teachings, number in the millions. His Faith is the second most widespread faith in the world, after Christianity.

Bahá’u’lláh’s body was interred in a small room near his last home – the Mansion of Bahji outside Akka. It is now a sacred shrine surrounded by a beautiful garden.

In the closing years of his life, Baha’u’llah wrote:

We, verily, have not fallen short of Our duty to exhort men, and to deliver that whereunto I was bidden by God, the Almighty, the All-Praised.[3]

And, in the Most Holy Book, his book of laws, Bahá’u’lláh spoke of his own passing.

Let not your hearts be perturbed, O people, when the glory of My Presence is withdrawn, and the ocean of My utterance is stilled. In My presence amongst you there is a wisdom, and in My absence there is yet another, inscrutable to all but God, the Incomparable, the All-Knowing. Verily, We behold you from Our realm of glory, and will aid whosoever will arise for the triumph of Our Cause with the hosts of the Concourse on high and a company of Our favored angels.

O peoples of the earth! God, the Eternal Truth, is My witness that streams of fresh and soft-flowing waters have gushed from the rocks through the sweetness of the words uttered by your Lord, the Unconstrained; and still ye slumber. Cast away that which ye possess, and, on the wings of detachment, soar beyond all created things. Thus biddeth you the Lord of creation, the movement of Whose Pen hath revolutionized the soul of mankind.[4]

Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings are now in humanity’s hands.

It is incumbent upon every man of insight and understanding to strive to translate that which hath been written into reality and action.[5]

Image Credits: Shrine of Baha’u’llah Copyright © Bahá’í International Community

(This article is the 52nd in a series of what I hope will be 200 articles in 200 days for the 200th anniversary of the birth of Bahá’u’lláh. The anniversary is being celebrated around the world on 21 and 22 October 2017, The articles are simply my personal reflections on Bahá’u’lláh’s life and work. Any errors or inadequacies in these articles are solely my responsibility.)


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