The ascension of Baha' Ullah
To understand the basic beliefs of the Baha’i faith by considering the life and death of Baha’ Ullah and thinking about our own behaviour towards and attitudes about others.
by Jenny Tuxford
Suitable for Key Stage 2
Tounderstand the basic beliefs of the Baha’i faith by considering the life and death of Baha’ Ullah and thinking about our own behaviour towards and attitudes about others.
Preparation and materials
- Research the major points in the life and work of the Bab and Baha’ Ullah. (The Bab has been likened to John the Baptist, preparing the way for Jesus.)
- The Baha’i faith is one of the world’s youngest religions, yet it has more than 5 million followers.
- People of the Baha’I faith see everyone in the world as being part of one big family. They strongly believe in the idea of ‘virtues’ and the notion that people should live a virtuous life. To do that, people need to be good, by having kind thoughts and showing kindness in many different ways.
- Examples of virtues are love, honesty, generosity, kindness, truthfulness, consideration. The children should be able to think of others, but might phrase them as not calling people names, being kind to someone who is lonely, obeying their parents, trying hard with homework and so on.
- Like flowers, virtues bring joy and beauty to the world.
- There are some lovely ways of presenting these ideas to children in and around the assembly. For example, you could draw a candle and place a picture of the child on the candle. Every time the child demonstrates a virtue, light can be drawn emanating from the candle and the particular virtue can be written on that beam of light.
- Baha’is encourage children to talk about the virtues they demonstrate. For example, ‘I got full marks for my homework, for a poem that I wrote. Everybody loved it. My sister helped me. When others praised me, I told them that my sister helped me.’ This shows the virtues of honesty, humility, justice.
- Let the children know that you are going to talk to them about a great man called Baha’ Ullah, who was one of God’s messengers – the one whose coming was announced by the Bab. Although the two men had never met, Baha’ Ullah was a follower of the Bab.
- In 1817 a man called Mirza Hoseyn ‘Ali Nuri was born in Persia. His family was rich and he lived the life of a prince. He was very clever and wise. From an early age, he knew that his mission was to spread a message of peace and unity and the idea that everyone should work together for the good of humanity. This undertaking meant that he would say ‘Goodbye’ to all his worldly wealth, for the authorities stripped him of his wealth and property and banished him to Baghdad.
Mirza Hoseyn ‘Ali Nuri changed his name to Baha’ Ullah – or Baha for short. The name Baha’ Ullah means ‘the Glory of God’. Baha spent his life helping others. His work for charity earned him the nickname ‘Father of the Poor’.
Was everybody happy to listen to his ideas? No, they were not. That is because Baha’s beliefs were not the same as those of the Muslims who lived in Baghdad at that time. Besides, far too many people were listening to him – people from many towns and cities, drawn to him by his wisdom and holiness.
For his efforts to try and help his fellow human beings, Baha was thrown into prison more than once. He was tortured and narrowly escaped a death sentence when someone made up lies about him, saying that he had tried to kill the ruler of Persia. Even his own brother tried to kill him with poison.
While he was chained up in a terrible prison known as the ‘Black Pit’, he was surrounded by the worst criminals you can imagine, but it was here that he had two visions – sent by God, he believed – telling him that he was the ‘Promised One’. Here, also, he wrote 100 books.
Baha’ Ullah died peacefully on 29 May 1892, aged 75. He was still a prisoner then, but had been allowed to live outside the walls. Love and laughter were two of his great gifts.
Every year, on 29 May, Baha’is celebrate the ascension of Baha’ Ullah, when this remarkable man went to meet his God. He is buried in Bahji, in Israel, in a shrine surrounded by a stunning garden.
Time for reflection
Spend a little while remembering how Baha suffered because of what he believed to be the right way to live – in peace and kindness. How could we copy that example today?
Dear Father God,
please help us all to be as kind and loving as we can be, living with others in unity, a strong worldwide community.
We are plants of thine orchard;
The flowers of the meadow;
Roses of thy garden.
Let thy rain fall upon us;
Let the sun of reality shine upon us
Thou art the giver.
‘I’ve got peace like a river’ (Come and Praise, 143)