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November 12: Birth of Bahá’u’lláh

November 12, 2014
DSC2713Bahá’u’lláh, the key figure of the Bahá’i faith, was born in Persia (Iran) on this date in 1817. The religion for which he served as prophet, with between five and seven million adherent worldwide, has its governing centers in Israel: its Shrine of the Báb and its gardens were built in 1953 on Mount Carmel in Haifa, and its Shrine of Bahá’u’lláh is near Acco (Acre), where Bahá’u’lláh died at age 74, under banishment by the Ottoman Empire’s authorities. Some 700 Bahá’is can be found in Israel at any given time, volunteers from dozens of countries who live there as tourists or temporary residents, in keeping with a Bahá’i prohibition against doing missionary work in Israel/Palestine that dates back to Ottoman times. Bahá’i teaches the unity of God, of all religions, and of humankind. Its governing Universal House of Justice in Haifa is elected every five years. Religious observance take place in monthly community meetings (the Baha’i calendar has nineteen months with nineteen days in each). Followers of Bahá’i have been severely persecuted in numerous Islamic countries, notably in the prophet’s native land. Iranian Jews, writes Moshe Sharon, “were among the first to convert to the Bahá’i faith, already in the seventies of the 19th century. In Hamadan the Jewish converts were particularly numerous, and it is estimated that at least one quarter of the Jewish community in the city adopted the new religion.” “[T]he situation of the Jews in Hamadan was particularly bad. Persecutions, pogroms, and forced conversion to Islam occurred repeatedly during the 19th century.... Bahá’is in Hamadan lived in or near the Jewish neighborhoods, and sometimes one suffered because of the persecution of the other. However, much sympathy was shown by the Jews to their Bahá’i neighbors, and common danger brought them together.” —Moshe Sharon