To be called by God to be His Messenger must be an awesome event. The person so called must be completely empty of self, in order to allow the Voice of God to speak through Him. Bahá'ís believe that Bahá'u'lláh is the Messenger of God for today, and this leaflet attempts to describe His experience, drawing from His own writings.
The Call of God
Bahá'u'lláh, Whose name means "the Glory of God", was born into a wealthy and powerful family in Persia in 1817. He gave up all his wealth and possessions in order to serve God.
"I was but a man like others, asleep upon My couch, when lo, the breezes of the All-Glorious were wafted over Me, and taught Me the knowledge of all that hath been. This thing is not from Me, but from One Who is Almighty and All-Knowing. And He bade Me lift up My voice between earth and heaven, and for this there befell Me what caused the tears of every man of understanding to flow."
Giving up the Self
The Messengers of God are pure souls through Whom the power of God flows to all mankind. They must be completely humble and self-effacing:
"O My Well-Beloved! Thou hast breathed Thy Breath into Me, and divorced Me from Mine own Self."
"Know verily that whenever this Youth turneth His eyes towards His own self, he findeth it the most insignificant of all creation. When He contemplates, however, the bright effulgences He hath been empowered to manifest, lo, that self is transfigured before Him into a sovereign Potency permeating the essence of all things visible and invisible."
"Think ye, O people, that I hold within my grasp the control of God's ultimate Will and Purpose? Far be it from Me to advance such a claim."
"By the righteousness of God, my Well-Beloved! I have never aspired after worldly leadership. My sole purpose hath been to hand down unto men that which I was bidden to deliver by God, the Gracious, the Incomparable, that it may detach them from all that pertaineth to this world, and cause them to attain such heights as neither the ungodly can conceive, nor the froward imagine."
Suffering for the Sake of God
Because of His Faith, Bahá'u'lláh was bastinadoed (beaten on the soles of the feet), imprisoned in a dungeon in chains, exiled from country to country, and imprisoned again for most of the remainder of His life. He accepted all this because of His love for God and His desire to serve Him. He never ceased to proclaim the Message He had been given, the Message of peace and love and brotherhood between all people and all nations.
"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."
"I have, all the days of My life, been at the mercy of Mine enemies, and have suffered each day, in the path of the love of God, a fresh tribulation. I have patiently endured until the fame of the Cause of God was spread abroad on the earth."
Contentment with the Will of God
Despite His sufferings, Bahá'u'lláh was happy because He was doing the will of God and bringing happiness to others through the news of God's Revelation for this age.
"I sorrow not for the burden of My imprisonment. Neither do I grieve over My abasement, or the tribulation I suffer at the hands of Mine enemies. By My life! They are My glory, a glory wherewith God hath adorned His own Self. Would that ye knew it!"
"How sweet to my taste is the bitterness of death suffered in Thy path, and how precious in my estimation are the shafts of Thine enemies when encountered for the sake of the exaltation of Thy word! Let me quaff in Thy Cause, O my God, whatsoever Thou didst desire, and send down upon me in Thy love all Thou didst ordain. By Thy glory! I wish only what Thou wishest, and cherish what Thou cherishest. In Thee have I, at all times, placed my whole trust and confidence."
Bahá'u'lláh's life was always in danger, but he said that if He were killed, God would raise up another in His stead.
"Dost thou imagine ... that I hold within My grasp the ultimate destiny of the Cause of God? Thinkest thou that My imprisonment, or the shame I have been made to suffer, or even My death and utter annihilation, can deflect its course?"
"Know ye that I am afraid of none except God. In none but Him have I placed My trust; to none will I cleave but Him, and wish for naught except the thing He hath wished for Me. This, indeed, is My heart's desire, did ye but know it. I have offered up My body as a sacrifice for God, the Lord of all worlds."
Bahá'u'lláh not only sacrificed His entire life to the cause of God, he gave up His younger son too. This son, at the age of 22, when in prison with his Father, was severely injured by a fall. Bahá'u'lláh would surely have been able to save him, but the son begged to be allowed to offer himself as a sacrifice so that Bahá'u'lláh could be freed and the world could hear His Message. The following is from Bahá'u'lláh's prayer at this time:
"Glorified art Thou, O Lord my God! Thou seest Me in the hands of Mine enemies, and My son bloodstained before Thy face, O Thou in Whose hands is the Kingdom of all Names. I have, O My Lord, offered up that which Thou hast given Me, that Thy servants may be quickened, and all that dwell on earth be united."
Soon afterwards, Bahá'u'lláh was released from the prison and placed under house arrest. Then He was able to continue His letters to the Heads of State, monarchs and religious leaders of the world, telling them of His Message, and urging them to make peace with one another.
Towards the end of His life, Bahá'u'lláh was visited by an English professor, who left us this description of Him:
"The face of Him on Whom I gazed I can never forget, though I cannot describe it. Those piercing eyes seemed to read one's very soul; power and authority sat on that ample brow...No need to ask in Whose presence I stood, as I bowed myself before One Who is the object of a devotion and love which kings might envy and emperors sigh for in vain!"
A Prayer of Bahá'u'lláh
"Grant, I beseech Thee, O Thou Who art the Everlasting King and the Sovereign protector of all men, that I may be enabled to manifest that which shall cause the hearts and souls of men to soar in the limitless immensity of Thy love, and to commune with Thy Spirit. Strengthen Me through the power of Thy sovereignty, that I may turn all created things towards the Day spring of Thy Manifestation and the Source of thy Revelation. Aid me, O My Lord, to surrender myself wholly to Thy will, and to arise and serve Thee..."
Bahá'u'lláh suffered until the end of His life in His efforts to acquaint the world with the Message which will solve its ills. We have only to accept the Divine Guidance he brought, and live in accordance with His teachings, in order to be happy ourselves, to bring happiness to those around us, and ultimately to the whole world.
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