In 1844 Siyyid ʻAlí-Muhammad of Shiraz proclaimed that he was the “Báb” (Arabic: “Gate”), after a Shiʻa religious concept. His followers were therefore known as Bábís. The Báb’s writings introduced the concept of “He whom God shall make manifest“, a Messianic figure whose coming, according to Baháʼís, was announced in the scriptures of all of the world’s great religions.
Baháʼu’lláh claimed that his mission as the Promised One of the Báb, was revealed to Him in 1852 while imprisoned in the Síyáh-Chál in Tehran, Iran. After his release from the Síyáh-Chál, Baháʼu’lláh was banished from Persia, and he settled in Baghdad, which became the centre of Bábí activity. Although he did not openly declare this prophetic mandate, he increasingly became the leader of the Bábí community.
Baháʼu’lláh’s rising prominence in the city, and the revival of the Persian Bábí community, gained the attention of his enemies in Islamic clergy and the Persian government. They were eventually successful in having the Ottoman government summon Baháʼu’lláh from Baghdad to Constantinople (present-day Istanbul).
Before Baháʼu’lláh left for Constantinople, many visitors came to visit him. To allow his family to prepare for the trip, and to be able to receive all these visitors, he decided to move to the Najibiyyih garden across the Tigris river from Baghdad. He entered the garden on 22 April 1863 (31 days after Naw Rúz, which usually occurs on 21 March) accompanied by his sons ʻAbdu’l-Bahá, Mírzá Mihdí and Mírzá Muhammad ʻAlí, his secretary Mirza Aqa Jan and some others, and stayed there for eleven days.
After his arrival in the garden, Baháʼu’lláh announced his mission and station for the first time to a small group of family and friends. The exact nature and details of Baháʼu’lláh’s declaration are unknown. Bahíyyih Khánum is reported to have said that Baháʼu’lláh stated his claim to his son ʻAbdu’l-Bahá and four others. While some Bábís had come to the realization that Baháʼu’lláh was claiming to be the Promised One through the many remarks and allusions that he had made during his final few months in Baghdad, it appears that most other Bábís were unaware of Baháʼu’lláh’s claim until a few years later while he was in Edirne.
For the next eleven days Baháʼu’lláh received visitors including the governor of Baghdad. Baháʼu’lláh’s family was not able to join Him until 30 April, the ninth day, since the river had risen and made travel to the garden difficult though lasting only nine days was a comparatively mild flooding of the river. On the twelfth day of their stay in the garden, Baháʼu’lláh and his family left the garden and started on their journey to Constantinople.