Bahá'u'lláh is the Messenger of God for all of humanity in this Day. The corner-stone of His Teachings is the establishment of the spiritual unity of humanity. He has revealed a system of laws and ordinances to guide humanity to its spiritual maturity. He teaches that Krishna, Moses, Zoroaster, Buddha, Jesus, Muhammad and Abraham are all Divine Messengers progressively revealing God's Divine Plan to bring about the Kingdom of God on Earth.
Bahá’u’lláh was born in Persia (modern day Iran), in 1817 into a wealthy family. His father was a government minister. In His youth, Bahá’u’lláh was known as the “father of the poor” for His deeds of kindness. From an early age He displayed marvelous faculties of intellect. Although passionately interested in social justice, He was not attracted to political life. He chose not to follow in His father’s footsteps, and turned down offers to serve in the government.
In 1844, at the age of 27, Bahá'u'lláh became a follower of the Báb. The Báb was an independent Messenger of God and the Forerunner of Bahá'u'lláh. He announced the imminent advent of a Prophet greater than Himself, Who would fulfill the prophecies of past religions regarding the establishment of God's Kingdom on Earth.
Bahá’u’lláh and the other followers of the Báb were persecuted for their beliefs because the priests and rulers of Persia wrongly charged them as heretics.
In 1852, in Teheran, Bahá’u’lláh was imprisoned in the Black Pit (Siyáh-Chál), an underground dungeon. It was there, under “the galling weight of the chains” and oppressed by “the stench-filled air,” that He received a revelation from God that He was the Promised One foretold by the Báb and all the Manifestations of God who had come before Him. He describes the experience in these words:
"I heard a most wondrous, a most sweet voice, calling above My head...I beheld a Maiden--the embodiment of the remembrance of the name of My Lord...Pointing with her finger unto My head, she addressed all who are in heaven and all who are on earth, saying, ‘By God! This is the Best-Beloved of the worlds, and yet ye comprehend not. This is the Beauty of God amongst you, and the power of His sovereignty within you, could ye but understand."
Bahá’u’lláh was released from prison and exiled from His native land. His wealth and land were confiscated by government decree. He spent the remaining forty years of His life in exile and imprisonment.
Those forty years saw an outpouring of spiritual revelation unprecedented in religious history. Hundreds of books, tablets and letters were revealed, which today are the sacred Scripture of the Bahá’í Faith. In these Writings He presented a blueprint for the reconstruction of human society at all levels and for the spiritual regeneration of the human race.
The first years of exile were spent in Baghdad, followed by periods in Istanbul and Adrianople (modern Edirne). In 1868 He was exiled to Akká, a prison city in the Ottoman province (now Israel). He lived there until His death in 1892. Despite the fierce opposition of the priests and rulers of Persia and the Ottoman Empire, and their persecution of His followers, Bahá’u’lláh fearlessly announced His mission and directed His followers to carry His teachings throughout the world. He also sent letters from prison to the kings and rulers of the day, informing them of His mission and calling on them to band together in the pursuit of justice and peace.
Bahá’u’lláh never rebelled against His oppressors. He endured sacrifice and imprisonment in order to raise the standard of a new era of unity and justice for humankind. About His purpose, he said:
“By the righteousness of God! It is not Our wish to lay hands on your kingdoms. Our mission is to seize and possess the hearts of men. Whoso followeth His Lord, will renounce the world and all that is therein.”
Here, in His own words, is Bahá’u’lláh’s statement of the redeeming power of His life of persecution and sacrifice, which all the Manifestations of God before Him endured as well:
“The Ancient Beauty (Bahá'u'lláh) 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. This is the mercy of your Lord, the Compassionate, the Most Merciful. We have accepted to be abased, O believers in the Unity of God, that ye may be exalted, and have suffered manifold afflictions, that ye might prosper and flourish. He Who hath come to build anew the whole world, behold, how they...have forced Him to dwell within the most desolate of cities!”