May 29 marks the anniversary of the Ascension of Baha’u’llah, the founder of the Baha’i Faith. The day is one of nine holy days on which Baha’is suspend work and school.
Baha’u’llah died after a brief illness in 1892 in the mansion of Bahji outside Akka, in what is now northern Israel. After spending most of His life in exile, He was able to live his later years at Bahji in relative tranquility. He was buried in a small stone house adjacent to the mansion. This Shrine is the holiest place on earth for Baha’is, the place toward which they turn in prayer each day.
Six days before His death, Baha’u’llah gathered his followers and family members and delivered what would be His last address to them:
“I am well pleased with you all. Ye have rendered many services, and been very assiduous in your labors. Ye have come here every morning and every evening. May God assist you to remain united. May He aid you to exalt the Cause of the Lord of being.”
About a year prior to His passing, Baha’u’llah revealed His Will and Testament, which named His eldest son, Abdu’l-Baha, as His successor.
For a week after Baha’u’llah’s death, writes Shoghi Effendi, the grandson of Abdu’l-Baha, “a vast number of mourners, rich and poor alike, tarried to grieve with the bereaved family. . . Notables, among whom were numbered Shí’ahs, Sunnis, Christians, Jews and Druzes, as well as poets, ulamas and government officials, all joined in lamenting the loss. . .”
In 1992, on the centenary of Baha’u’llah’s passing, several thousand Baha’is from more than 200 countries gathered to pay homage to Him at His shrine outside Bahji. The following November, approximately 27,000 followers assembled in New York City to celebrate the anniversary of the inauguration of Baha’u’llah’s Covenant, which has preserved the unity of the Baha’i Faith since its inception
Baha’u’llah’s ministry came to an end in 1892. He left to humanity a priceless heritage of spiritual and social teachings, which He claimed would lead humanity to true and abiding peace. He endured decades of suffering to accomplish this mission. As he says In His own words:
“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!