The Birth of Bahá’u’lláh, A Bahai Holy Day in November
November 14 marks one of the holy days in the Bahai calendar, the Birth of Bahá’u’lláh, the founder of their faith. Work is suspended on this day, while the Baha’is focus on their faith, worship, and family, much like Christians might on December 25 when they celebrate the birth of Jesus. Although the Baha’i faith is one of the youngest of the world’s religions, there are over five million Baha’is worldwide, with about 30,000 here in Canada.
Who Are the Baha’is?
In Persia (Iran) in 1844, the Babi religion began when the Bab announced that he had divine teachings for humanity to prepare for a greater messenger. In 1850, the Bab was executed. Just two years later, Bahá’u’lláh was arrested for his support of this movement, and later, he received the revelation that he was the chosen Messenger. He was exiled to Baghdad in 1852, and the Baha’i religion was born. Bahá’u’lláh is considered the return of Christ, the fifth Buddha, the reincarnation of the Krishna, and the Lord of Hosts that the Jews were promised.
It wasn’t until after his death that the Baha’i faith moved beyond the Middle East. In 1893, 11 years after Bahá’u’lláh died, the religion was publicly mentioned in North America for the first time. It was in 1902 when the first Canadian Baha’i group was formed in Montreal. In 1912, the son of Bahá’u’lláh arrived in Montreal as part of his North American tour. The home where he stayed is the only Baha’i shrine in the Western Hemisphere.
What Do the Baha’is Believe?
The Baha’is have a radical faith, revolving around social principles that promote and establish the oneness of humanity. All of the great religions come from the same source – God. Baha’is want:
- Equality for women and men
- Education for everyone
- Harmony of science and religion working together to advance humanity
- Abolition of poverty and wealth (financial equality)
- A universal system of weights and measures
- Removal of economic barriers
- Spiritual solutions for the world’s economy
- Human rights for everyone
- Elimination of prejudice
In addition, the Baha’i have a strict moral code, with prohibitions against extramarital sex, gambling, drug and alcohol use, and backbiting. Interestingly, Baha’is generally do not criticize those who do not follow the faith, but they do see their laws as advantageous for all to follow. They respect the laws of the land but abstain from partisanship. They may vote in general elections, but they probably won’t run for office or accept a political appointment. However, some serve the government in administrative posts. They generally won’t participate in aggressive debate, but they do want to work with others to build a peaceful and united world.
Facets of Faith
The Baha’i faith teaches that one must constantly refine inner character and provide service to humanity to keep improving. These two actions are mutually responsive, and one acts upon the other to mold the environment where you live. It’s not just a spiritual life, but a dedicated life of infusing the world with a devotional spirit. A Baha’i should deepen his or her own knowledge of the faith and share with others.
In addition, Baha’i are taught to resist their own egos while reversing the cultural tendency that glorifies self-gratification. Whatever walk of life, the Baha’i believe in social action to promote the well-being of all. Your beliefs and backgrounds generally do not matter to them. They want social equality in knowledge, wealth, security, and health.
If you know of any individuals who celebrate the birth of Bahá’u’lláh, show them that you understand. It is their spiritual springtime, reviving their commitment to the new faith and their spiritual oneness.