In the middle of the last century, one of the most notorious dungeons
in the Near East was Tehran's "Black Pit." Once the underground reservoir for a public bath, its only outlet was a single
passage down three steep flights of stone steps. Prisoners huddled in their own bodily wastes, languishing in the pit's inky
gloom, subterranean cold and stench-ridden atmosphere. In
this grim setting, the rarest and most cherished of religious events was once again played out: mortal man, outwardly human
in other respects, was summoned by God to bring to humanity a new religious revelation.
The year was 1852, and the man was a Persian nobleman, known today
as Bahá'u'lláh. During His imprisonment, as He sat with his feet in stocks and a 100-pound iron chain around his neck, Bahá'u'lláh
received a vision of God's will for humanity.
The event is comparable to those great moments of the ancient past
when God revealed Himself to His earlier Messengers: when Moses stood before the Burning Bush; when the Buddha received enlightenment
under the Bodhi tree; when the Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, descended upon Jesus; or when the archangel Gabriel appeared
Bahá'u'lláh's experience in the Black Pit set in motion a process of
religious revelation which, over the next 40 years, led to the production of thousands of books, tablets and letters--which
today form the core of the sacred scripture of Bahá'í Faith. In those writings, He outlined a framework for the reconstruction
of human society at all spiritual, moral, economic, political, and philosophical.