Baha Ullah

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Bahā'u'llāh (1817–92) (Arab., ‘the Glory/Splendour of God’), Religious title adopted by Mīrzā Ḥusayn ʿali Nūrī, the prophet-founder of the Bahā'ī Faith. Born into a wealthy landowning family in N. Iran, he chose to follow a life of religious involvement rather than that of a courtier. In 1844 he became a Bābī. Imprisoned in the Black Pit of Tehran in 1852, he experienced a number of revelatory visions, and after his exile to Ottoman Iraq withdrew to the mountains of Kurdistan where he lived as a pious ascetic. Returning to Baghdād in 1856, he soon became the leading figure in a revival of Babism. Although he demanded that his followers should abandon militancy, the Iranian government was alarmed, and sought his removal from Iraq. Accordingly in 1863 he was summoned to Istanbul, and thence dispatched to Edirne (Adrianople) (1863–8) and then to the prison-city of Akka (Acre) in Ottoman Syria (1868–92). Immediately before his departure from Baghdād he apparently made the first declaration of his claim to be a new messenger from God, the promised one foretold by the Bāb. In Edirne this claim was made openly (1866), that he was ‘he whom God shall manifest’; and the Bābī community soon became divided between the followers of Bahā'u'llāh (Bahā'īs) and those of his half-brother Ṣubḥ-i Azal (Azalīs). Turning over much of the task of organizing the movement to his eldest son and eventual successor, ʿAbbās Effendi (ʿAbdu'l-Bahā), Bahā'u'llāh devoted his final years to his writings. These were now all regarded as revelations from God, and besides thousands of letters to his followers, included a number of lengthy books and ‘Tablets’ (alwāḥ). In his Most Holy Book (c.1873), he formulated the basis for a distinctive Bahā'ī Holy Law, and in a number of final works he delineated his principles for social reconstruction in a new world order (Tablets of Bahā'u'llāh). He died in the vicinity of Akka on 29 May 1892. His remains were buried at the Bahjī, which is now a shrine for pilgrims, and the direction of prayer for believers (qibla).

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Baha Ullah or Baha Allah (bähä´ ŏŏl´ä) [Arab.,=glory of God], 1817–92, Persian religious leader originally named Mirza Husayn Ali Nuri. One of the first disciples of the Bab (see Babism), he and his half-brother Subhi Azal became the leaders of the Babi faith. In 1863, shortly before being exiled to Constantinople, he declared himself the manifestation of God, the Promised One, as fortold by the Bab. He then founded the Baha'i faith and wrote its fundamental book, Kitabi Ikan (tr. The Book of Certitude, 1943). He spent most of his adult life in prison or under close surveillance. He died in Acre; his tomb there is one of the monuments of Baha'i.

See J. E. Esslemont Bahaullah and the New Era (3d rev. ed. 1970).

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Bahaullah (1817–92) Name adopted by Mirza Husayn Ali Nuri, Persian religious leader and founder of the Baha'i faith. He embraced the Babi faith in 1850 but broke away in 1867, proclaiming himself Bahaullah (‘The Glory of Allah’), the Promised One foretold by Bab. His Katabi ikan (Book of Certitude) is the Baha'i holy book.