Born in Shiraz, Iran on 20 October 1819, Siyyid Ali-Muhammad would become known to the world as the Bab (meaning “the Gate” in Arabic). The Bab was the symbolic gate; it was His mission to herald the coming of this promised Manifestation of God whom we know to be Baha’u’llah. In the Baha’i calendar, the Birth of the Bab and the Birth of Baha’u’llah are celebrated one after the other in one festival referred to as the “Twin Holy Days”.
Mirza Husayn-Ali, who is known to the world by His title, Baha’u’llah, was born in Tehran, Iran on 12 November, 1817. Baha’u’llah means “Glory of God” in Arabic and He is the Prophet-Founder of the Baha’i Faith. The anniversary of the day He was born is celebrated alongside the Birth of the forerunner of His Revelation, the Bab. These Twin Holy Days are celebrated annually as one festival where the closely interwoven missions of these two Divine Luminaries are remembered together.
This year, for the first time in the history of the Baha’i Era, the Birth of the Bab and the Birth of Baha’u’llah – also known as the Twin Holy Days – will be celebrated at the same time by Baha’is all over the world (in 2015 the Twin Holy Days fall on November 13th and 14th).
In honour of this historic occasion, the Universal House of Justice released three newly translated Tablets: one celebrates the Birth of the Bab, and two are dedicated to the Birth of Baha’u’llah. These tablets, all penned by Baha’u’llah, will be included in a volume called Days of Remembrance which will be available later next year.
The tablet in honour of the Birth of the Bab is a joyful tribute for the glorious day on which He was born. It opens with this clarion call, this trumpet blast of exultation:
In the name of the One born on this day, Him Whom God hath made to be the Herald of His Name, the Almighty, the All-Loving!
This is a Tablet We have addressed unto that night wherein the heavens and the earth were illumined by a Light that cast its radiance over the entire creation.
Blessed art thou, O night! For through thee was born the Day of God, a Day which We have ordained to be the lamp of salvation unto the denizens of the cities of names, the chalice of victory unto the champions of the arenas of eternity, and the dawning-place of joy and exultation unto all creation.
Baha’u’llah also writes:
On this night the fragrance of nearness was wafted, the portals of reunion at the end of days were flung open, and all created things were moved to exclaim: “The Kingdom is God’s, the Lord of all names, Who is come with world-embracing sovereignty!” On this night the Concourse on high celebrated the praise of its Lord, the Exalted, the Most Glorious, and the realities of the divine names extolled Him Who is the King of the beginning and the end in this Revelation, a Revelation through whose potency the mountains have hastened unto Him Who is the All-Sufficing, the Most High, and the hearts have turned towards the countenance of their Best-Beloved, and the leaves have been stirred into motion by the breezes of yearning, and the trees have raised their voices in joyful reply to the call of Him Who is the Unconstrained, and the entire earth hath trembled with longing in its desire to attain reunion with the Eternal King, and all things have been made new by that concealed Word which hath appeared in this mighty Name.
The tablet ends with the Blessed Beauty stating that He is incapable of describing the Bab’s greatness:
How, then, can I depict that which all created things are powerless to describe? And yet, I swear by Thy glory, were I to proclaim that wherewith Thou hast inspired me, the entire creation would pass away from joy and ecstasy, how much more then would it be overwhelmed before the billows of the ocean of Thine utterance in this most luminous, most exalted and transcendent Spot! Absolve, O Lord, this faltering Pen from magnifying so august a station, and deal mercifully with me, O my Possessor and my King.
Baha’is who read Persian and Arabic may already be familiar with this tablet. It is included in Ishraq Khavari’s compilation about Holy Days called Ayyam-i-Tisih. All three newly translated tablets were released to the Baha’is well ahead of the Twin Holy Days so that they could be studied and translated into other languages. It is exciting to know that this year, these precious and sacred words will stream from the lips of Baha’is in varying languages all over the planet.
The tablet that celebrates the Birth of Baha’u’llah from the Maidiy-i-Asmani is similarly jubilant. Baha’u’llah states:
This is the month wherein was born He Who beareth the Most Great Name, Whose appearance hath caused the limbs of humankind to quake and the dust of Whose footsteps the Concourse on high and the dwellers of the cities of names have sought for a blessing. Whereupon they rendered praise unto God and cried out in joy and exultation. By God! This is the month through which all other months have been illumined, the month wherein He Who is the hidden Secret and the well-guarded Treasure hath been made manifest and hath called aloud amidst all humankind. All dominion belongeth to this newborn Child through Whom the face of creation hath been wreathed in smiles, and the trees have swayed, and the oceans have surged, and the mountains have taken flight, and Paradise hath lifted its voice, and the Rock hath cried out, and all things have exclaimed, “O concourse of creation! Hasten ye towards the dawning-place of the countenance of your Lord, the Merciful, the Compassionate!”
The tablet celebrating the Birth of Baha’u’llah from the Ayyam-i-Tisih is remarkably different in tone. It is a call to action on the part of Baha’is. It calls on us to be detached, to teach the Cause, and to humbly turn towards God. The tablet also speaks of the power of His revelation. Baha’u’llah states:
Say: We have celebrated this Festival in the Most Great Prison at a time when the kings of the earth have risen against Us. Yet the ascendancy of the oppressor can never frustrate Us, nor can the hosts of the world dismay Us. Unto this doth the All-Merciful bear witness in this most august station.
Say: Should the quintessence of assurance be dismayed before the clamour of the peoples of the world? Nay, by His beauty, which sheddeth its radiance upon all that hath been and all that shall be!
I am thankful to be able to celebrate the Twin Holy Days with these divine words. They eloquently remind me of the sacredness of this festival but also insist that I remember the true purpose of the Baha’i Revelation is not to sit idly, but to affect a transformation in my community, little by little, day by day.
If you haven’t already seen the Tablets, we’ve made them available for download below:
In her innermost heart, Sonjel is a stay-at-home parent and a bookworm with a maxed out library card but professionally she is a museologist with a background in English Literature. She currently lives on Prince Edward Island, an isle in the shape of a smile on the eastern Canadian coast. Sonjel is a writer who loves to listen to jazz when she's driving at night.