Lecture Abstract by Dr. Ron Hershel

BAHA’U’LLAH

With the systematic decimation of the Bab’s followers, including the Bab’s own execution and those of His most cherished disciples, the Islamic and government authorities believed the last hope of the nascent Babi Faith had been extinguished. Instead, the flame that began with the Bab’s declaration nine years earlier was to re-ignite in a dark dungeon deep below the city of Tehran, the capital of Iran. It was in this dungeon that Baha’u’llah, laden with chains, received His Mission.

Ten years later while in exile in Iraq, Baha’u’llah made public His claim as the Manifestation of God for this age, fulfilling not only the Bab’s prophesies but those of all religions. He announced an era of fulfillment in which the evolutionary phase of mankind would attain adulthood and the Kingdom of God would appear on earth as it is in heaven, as promised by the prophets of old. He was then exiled to Turkey and later to Akka, Palestine where He remained under house arrest until His death in 1892.

This lecture explores Baha’u’llah’s vision of a new world order, organized around the spiritual principles first enunciated by the Bab and later supported by newly revealed divine institutions. This vision unfolds in Baha’u’llah’s writings over His forty-year ministry. A few of these are the “Seven Valleys” which embodies Baha’i mysticism; the “Book of Certitude” which contains fundamental doctrinal elements and the symbolic meanings of past scriptures; and the “Most Holy Book” which reveals the spiritual and social laws for a thousand years, until the next Messenger appears.

This lecture briefly examines the Covenant of the Baha’i Faith, unique in all religious history. This Covenant includes the appointment of Abdu’l-Baha, eldest son of Baha’u’llah, as the infallible interpreter of His Writings, the subsequent appointment of Shoghi Effendi as the Guardian of the Baha’i Faith in 1921, and the election in 1963 of the Supreme Baha’i administrative body, the Universal House of Justice. In lieu of a clergy, Baha’u’llah created a system of elected and appointed institutions to perform the required administrative and educational functions with appropriate checks and balances.

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