Every year Baha’is gather to commemorate the Ascension of Baha’u’llah on 13 Azamat according to the Baha’i calendar. Customarily (although this is not a requirement), at 3 in the morning, following an evening of prayer and reflection, Baha’is stand and face Qiblih as one from amongst them reads the Tablet of Visitation.
It was early in the morning of May 29, 1892 (five minutes past 3, to be precise) that Baha’u’llah passed away in the mansion of Bahji outside Akka (present-day northern Israel), after a brief illness. Following His death, a vast number of mourners from all walks of life and religions, grieved with Baha’u’llah’s family and followers.
Baha’u’llah lived a life of hardship and persecution, bringing to the world teachings that were to usher in a new age of humanity and form the foundations of a new civilization.
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. This is of 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 that have joined partners with God have forced Him to dwell within the most desolate of cities! Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah
This is probably just a result of thinking too much about conversations I’ve had with friends in my Book 4 study circle recently but as I read the Tablet of Visitation with friends from my community yesterday, I found myself trying to imagine what it must have been like for the early followers who lived to see the Ascension of Baha’u’llah.
What must have it been like to have lived in the times of Baha’u’llah? What would it have been like to have walked near and talked to Baha’u’llah and to have been an early believer? What would it have felt like to have witnessed the passing of a Manifestation? Did the early believers understand the significance that Baha’u’llah’s teachings would have for humanity? And on that subject, do we – as relatively early believers – really understand the significance that Baha’u’llah’s teachings on unity will have for the world that our grandchildren and great grandchildren will live in?
I suppose these ruminations could go on endlessly. History is a fascinating thing. It’s not just about knowing the events that occurred but also about understanding the context in which these events took place.
What about you?
What accounts relating to Baha’u’llah’s Ascension have you read from the Writings? What do you imagine the world looked like on May 29, 1892? What did it mean to you to commemorate Baha’u’llah’s Ascension on May 29, 2011?
Share your thoughts with us in the Comments section below.
In her professional life, Preethi has dabbled in various combinations of education, community development and law. At heart, though, she's an overgrown child who thinks the world is one giant playground. She's currently on a quest to make learning come alive for young people and to bring the world's stories and cultures to them, with educational resources from One Story Learning