September 14, 2016

A young dervish recognizes Baha’u’llah’s station in 1844

While Baha’u’llah was spreading the Divine Message of the Báb in the district of Nur in northern Iran in 1844, an amazing incident took place which Nabil recorded:

One day, in the course of one of His riding excursions into the country, Bahá’u’lláh, accompanied by His companions, saw, seated by the roadside, a lonely youth. His hair was dishevelled, and he wore the dress of a dervish. [1] By the side of a brook he had kindled a fire, and was cooking his food and eating it. Approaching him, Bahá’u’lláh most lovingly enquired: “Tell Me, dervish, what is it that you are doing?” “I am engaged in eating God,” he bluntly replied. “I am cooking God and am burning Him.” The unaffected simplicity of his manners and the candour of his reply pleased Bahá’u’lláh extremely. He smiled at his remark and began to converse with him with unrestrained tenderness and freedom. Within a short space of time, Bahá’u’lláh had changed him completely. Enlightened as to the true nature of God, and with a mind purged from the idle fancy of his own people, he immediately recognised the Light which that loving Stranger had so unexpectedly brought him. That dervish, whose name was Muṣṭafá, became so enamoured with the teachings which had been instilled into his mind that, leaving his cooking utensils behind, he straightway arose and followed Bahá’u’lláh. On foot, behind His horse, and inflamed with the fire of His love, he chanted merrily verses of a love-song which he had composed on the spur of the moment and had dedicated to his Beloved. “Thou art the Day-Star of guidance,” ran its glad refrain. “Thou art the Light of Truth. Unveil Thyself to men, O Revealer of the Truth.” Although, in later years, that poem obtained wide circulation among his people, and it became known that a certain dervish, surnamed Majdhúb, and whose name was Mustafá Big-i-Sanandají, had, without premeditation, composed it in praise of his Beloved, none seemed to be aware to whom it actually referred, nor did anyone suspect, at a time when Bahá’u’lláh was still veiled from the eyes of men, that this dervish alone had recognised His station and discovered His glory. 
- Nabil  (‘The Dawn-Breakers’, translated and edited by Shoghi Effendi)
[1] Poor one, Religious mendicant, Islamic mystic

August 5, 2016

How the second “Letter of the Living” recognized the Báb…

Shiraz, circa 1841
This is the story of Mulla Aliy-i-Bastami, one of the Letters of the Living, "the first to leave the House of God (Shiraz) and the first to suffer for His sake…" (The Báb, quoted by Shoghi Effendi, ‘God Passes By’) He was “one of the foremost disciples of Siyyid Kazim…. He was endowed with such vast learning, and was so deeply conversant with the teachings of Shaykh Ahmad, that many regarded him as even superior to Mulla Husayn.” (Nabil, ‘The Dawn-Breakers’)

Following the death of their leader, Siyyid Kazim, Mulla Ali and twelve other followers of Siyyid Kazim decided to follow the example of Mulla Husayn and begin their search for the Promised One – as they were instructed to do so by Siyyid Kazim. Mulla Husayn had just started his spiritual preparation in retirement by praying and fasting for forty days. On several occasions Mulla 'Ali approached Mulla Husayn to ask him where he was going and what his destination would be. Every time he neared Mulla Husayn, he found him so deeply wrapt in prayer that he felt it improper to venture a question. Mulla 'Ali decided to retire in a like manner from the society of men and prepare his own heart for the quest. His companions followed his example with the exception of three who acted as their personal attendants.

As soon as the forty days were up, Mulla Husayn decided to leave Karbila at once for Persia where he felt his search should begin. His brother and nephew also accompanied him. An inner prompting led him to Bushihr on the Persian Gulf. Though he could feel the sweet savors of His holiness the Báb in Bushir something suddenly turned him like a compass needle to the north. He set out at once on foot for the city of Shiraz. When he arrived at the gate of the city, he directed his brother and his nephew, who had accompanied him, to go to the prayer-house and await his return. "Something draws my heart into the city," he said, "but I shall meet you for evening prayers." A few hours before sunset, Mulla Husayn's eyes fell upon the Báb and received an invitation to His House and became the first believer in the Bábi Dispensation.

Shortly after Mulla Husayn had left Karbila, Mulla ‘Ali accompanied by twelve companions also followed him towards Persia.

July 10, 2016

The story of how Baha’u’llah’s Father received the title of “Buzurg” - “the Great” – from the King of Persia

Specimen of the calligraphy of Mirza Buzurg
The father of Bahá'u'lláh was Mirza 'Abbas-i-Nuri. His family lived in the district of Nur, in the northern Persian province of Mazindaran.

One day during the reign of Fath-'Ali Shah, (the king of Persia from 1797 to 1834), the king was shown a masterpiece of calligraphy made by a very celebrated calligrapher who had passed away. Marvellous was the beauty of that piece of handwriting, and Fath-'Ali Shah wondered if anyone living in Persia could match its excellence. One of his sons mentioned the name of Mirza 'Abbas-i-Nuri. Thereupon king sent his representative to the District of Nur to show that masterpiece to Mirza ‘Abbas (Baha’u’llah’s father) and challenge him if he could to produce its like.

Upon receiving that masterpiece, Mirza 'Abbas first produced a piece like the original and then added some additional lines of his own, had them suitably illuminated and presented to Fath-'Ali Shah.

The Shah's admiration was boundless. A royal decree bestowed upon Mirza 'Abbas the name Mirza Buzurg, [the ‘Great’] and invested him with a robe of honour - a garment which the monarch himself had worn. At the same time the Shah exempted the people of the village of Takur, Mirza Buzurg’s home, from the payment of taxes. A few years later, Mirza Buzurg was appointed vizier to the twelfth son of Fath-'Ali Shah, who was the chief of the clans of the Qajar tribe, to which the royal family itself belonged.

Mirza Buzurg prospered in the service of the State, until the days of Muhammad Shah (reigned 1834-48), when he encountered the ill will of that monarch's notorious Prime Minister, Haji Mirza Aqasi, and lost his position and much of his considerable wealth.  
(Adapted from ‘Baha’u’llah, The King of Glory’, by Balyuzi)

June 27, 2016

An example of how Baha’u’llah during His younger years chastised a famous religious leader for showing disrespect towards Christ

Mirza Abu'l-Fadl, a famous Baha’i scholar, relates in one of his works what he himself heard from a divine. 

In a gathering where Baha’u’llah was present a famous high-ranking Sufi religious leader who was highly esteemed by Muhammad Shah, was holding forth on the station that a human being can attain. Referring to himself, he said, 'Should my servant come to me and say that Jesus the Christ was at the door, asking for me, my detachment is such that I would express no wish to see Him.' Some of those present kept silent, while others out of flattery murmured assent. Only Baha’u’llah spoke up. He turned to the boastful divine who had expressed such disrespect for a Manifestation of God, and said: 'You are very close to the person of the sovereign and he is very devoted to you, but if the chief executioner with ten of his men were to come to this door and tell you that the monarch wanted to see you, would you take it calmly or would you be perturbed?' The arrogant religious leader paused for a while before replying, 'In truth, I would feel anxious.' 'In that case,' said Baha'u'llah, 'you should not make such an assertion.' 

Baha'u'llah's authoritative statement, according to Mirza Abu'l-Fadl, left them all speechless. 
(Adapted from “Baha’u’llah, The King of Glory’, by H.M. Balyuzi)

June 17, 2016

A mujtahid’s dream about Baha’u’llah during His youthful years – recalled by ‘Abdu’l-Baha

'Abdu'l-Baha has described how His own grandmother, who lived in Yalrud (a village near Takur) went one day at dawn to the house of a famous mujtahid to pray. This mujtahid (a doctor of Islamic law) was Shayk Muhammad-Taqi, a distant relative of the family. After the morning prayer he told ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s grandmother that he had some excellent news for her. He had had a dream in which he had found himself outside a house which no one was allowed to enter, because, said the door-keeper, within it the Qa'im of the House of Muhammad (the Promised One of Shi’ih Muslims) was closeted with Mirza Husayn-'Ali of Nur [Baha’u’llah]. At first the mujtahid had expressed his surprise that the son of a vizier should be so privileged; but on remembering their distant kinship, he had ascribed the privilege to this fact. 
(Adapted from ‘Baha’u’llah, The King of Glory’, by H.M. Balyuzi)

June 14, 2016

An example of Baha’u’llah’s great sagacity and insight as a youth

In the village of Yalrud which is near Baha’u’llah’s ancestral home in Takur, in northern Iran, there lived a mujtahid by the name of Shaykh Muhammad-Taqi who was well-famed throughout the land. He had a thousand scholars of divinity around him, whom he taught and, from time to time, presented with a complex question to resolve.

Whenever Baha’u’llah returned to His home in Takur, He would usually stop for a while in Yalrud, and here He would visit the mujtahid, who was distantly related to His family.

During a visit to Yarud, when Baha’u’llah was sitting in the company of Shaykh Muhmmmad-Taqi and other scholars and divines, He was asked to resolve a question they had been unable to answer to the mujtahid's satisfaction.

The problem was this:

An Islamic tradition states that ‘Fatimih is the best of the women of this world, but for the one born of Mary’. But since Mary had no daughter, what did this conundrum mean?

Baha'u'llah replied that the initial statement emphasized the impossibility of its alternative, since there could be no other woman comparable to Fatimih. It was like saying that a certain monarch is the greatest of the kings of this world, except for the one who comes down from Heaven; since no king has or will come down from Heaven, the uniqueness of that one monarch is stressed.

Baha'u'llah’s explanation left the great mujtahid silent, but next day he upbraided his disciples for having let him down badly. 'I have taught and trained you for years on end,' he complained, 'but when the need arises, I find you wanting in understanding, whereas an unturbaned youth has brilliantly explained the problem I had presented to you.' 
(Adapted from ‘Baha’u’llah, The King of Glory’, by H.M. Balyuzi)

May 14, 2016

An example of how the Báb changed unseemly business practices while He was a merchant in Bushihr, Persia – related by ‘Abdu’l-Baha

During His stay in Bushihr, the Báb achieved extraordinary things and thoroughly demolished the foundation of people's corrupt practices. The merchants of Bushihr had a custom that after a deal had been concluded they would renege and barter to receive a considerable discount.

Some of them came to His Holiness, negotiated purchase of indigo dye, and bought a very large quantity. After they had sealed the bargain and moved the lots of indigo to their own office, they returned to renege and bargain. His Holiness did not accept and said, "You made a bargain, signed papers, and the transaction has been completed. I will not give a discount and will not renegotiate." They insisted. He replied. "What I said is final." They pleaded: "It is the custom of the country." He responded: "Many of these customs are wrong and will soon be abolished." No matter how much they insisted, He would not agree. The merchants were obstinate, and at last He said, "[If] the price is high, return the merchandise as I will not barter." They insisted: "It is the custom here." He replied: "I wish to put an end to this custom." They insisted: "If a merchant has bought commodities and moved them to his warehouse, and then returns them, he will forfeit his standing with merchants." "It is your choice," He told them, "accept the terms and refrain from renegotiation.” Again they insisted: "But this is the custom of the realm." Yet again, He reminded them, "I am ending this custom." Eventually, He [the Báb] ordered the merchandise brought back to His shop and did not yield to their efforts at bargaining.

He changed many of their unseemly practices during the period He was a merchant in Bushihr. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (Words of 'Abdu'l-Baha, quoted by Mirza Habibu’llah Afnan in ‘The Genesis of the Bábi-Bahá’í Faiths in Shiraz and Fars’, translated and annotated by Ahang Rabbani) 

April 23, 2016

An example of Baha’u’llah bestowing physical healing upon a believer

There was a believer by the name of Shaykh Ṣádiq of Yazd. He had emigrated from Persia to Baghdád during the time of Baha’u’llah. ‘Abdu’l-Baha has described him as “a man esteemed, and righteous as his name, Ṣádiq. [truthful, loyal] He was a towering palm in the groves of Heaven, a star flaming in the skies of the love of God.”

Here is the story told by the Master:

“It was during the ‘Iráq period that he hastened to the presence of Bahá’u’lláh. His detachment from the things of this world and his attachment to the life of the spirit are indescribable. He was love embodied, tenderness personified. Day and night, he commemorated God. Utterly unconscious of this world and all that is therein, he dwelt continually on God, remaining submerged in supplications and prayers. Most of the time, tears poured from his eyes. The Blessed Beauty singled him out for special favor, and whenever He turned His attention toward Ṣádiq, His loving-kindness was clear to see.

On a certain day they brought word that Ṣádiq was at the point of death. I went to his bedside and found him breathing his last. He was suffering from ileus, an abdominal pain and swelling. I hurried to Bahá’u’lláh and described his condition. “Go,” He said. “Place your hand on the distended area and speak the words: ‘O Thou the Healer!’” [Yá Sháfí]

I went back. I saw that the affected part had swollen up to the size of an apple; it was hard as stone, in constant motion, twisting, and coiling about itself like a snake. I placed my hand upon it; I turned toward God and, humbly beseeching Him, I repeated the words, “O Thou the Healer!” Instantly the sick man rose up. The ileus vanished; the swelling was carried off.” 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (‘Memorials of the Faithful’)

February 21, 2016

Tablets of the Divine Plan changed the lives of an American couple

In 1919, 'Abdu'l-Baha, The Center of the Covenant of Baha’u’llah, sent Tablets (letters) to America outlining a great plan for a spiritual divine civilization for the whole world. A copy of these Tablets were sent to two Baha’is in California – Mr. and Mrs. Hyde Dunn.

Upon reading these Tablets they felt overwhelmed with a desire for service. They prayed humbly: "Lord, here I am! Lord, here I am!”

A deep urge came to them to carry the Glad Tidings of the Baha'i Cause to Australia and New Zealand.

They worked and economized and finally landed in Australia with barely fifteen dollars. Mr. Dunn, who later became known as “Father Dunn” was taken ill, but “Mother Dunn” (Mrs. Dunn) went out to earn for those first few weeks. Then Father Dunn gained strength and went out and found a position.

“He who ariseth to serve the Cause of God verily the doors of might and power shall be thrown open before his face!” He just needs to ARISE in faith first.

For four years these two pioneer teachers, Mr. and Mrs. Hyde Dunn, traveled throughout Australia, earning their living, and both telling the dear Australian friends about the Baha’i Cause for world peace.

January 10, 2016

"...thousands of worlds of incomparable splendor were unveiled to my eyes…”

Mirza Aqa Jan embraced the religion of the Báb when he was about sixteen years old and became instantly “aflame with devotion.” He was neither learned nor rich and made his living in his hometown of Kashan making and selling soap. Soap-making was a humble trade in those days, often carried out at home by people who were not well educated.

Mirza Aqq jan was also a seeker of truth who had seen the Báb in his dreams and believed in Him. He had also read the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh and felt the urge to attain His presence. He left his home in Kashan unexpectedly and traveled to Iraq.

When he reached Baghdad, he learned that Bahá’u’lláh was visiting the Babís in the neighboring town of Karbila and where He was the guest of one of the resident Bábis. This was before Baha’u’llah’s Declaration in the Garden of Ridvan. Mirza Aqa Jan followed Baha’u’llah to Karbila.

Bahá’u’lláh liked to spend the hot summer nights on the flat roof of the house, as people often did. There He chanted His prayers under a canopy of stars and slept in the fresh night air.

One night Bahá’u’lláh invited Mirza Aqa Jan who had just arrived in Karbala to join Him on the roof. Bahá’u’lláh was already sleeping when Mirza Aqa jan spread out his bedding nearby on a carpet and lay down for a brief rest.

Many years later, Mirza Aqa jan related the following amazing account to the great Baha’i historian, Nabil:

November 8, 2015

Mulla Husayn’s first assignment

Before Mulla Husayn met the Báb and became His first believer, he was a disciple of Siyyid Kázim, one of the two forerunners of the Báb – the other was Siyyid Kázim’s teacher, Shaykh Ahmad.

The passing of his beloved master, Shaykh Ahmad, brought unspeakable sorrow to the heart of Siyyid Kázim, who was his appointed successor. Inspired by the verse of the Qur’án, “Fain would they put out God’s light with their mouths; but God only desireth to perfect His light, albeit the infidels abhor it,” Siyyid Kázim arose with unswerving purpose to consummate the task with which his master Shaykh Ahmad had entrusted him. He found himself, after the removal of so distinguished a protector, a victim of the slanderous tongues and unrelenting enmity of the people around him. They attacked his person, scorned his teachings, and reviled his name.

At the instigation of a powerful and notorious shí’ah leader in Karbilá, Iraq, the enemies of Siyyid Kázim leagued together, and determined to destroy him. Thereupon Siyyid Kázim conceived the plan of securing the support and good will of one of the most formidable and outstanding ecclesiastical dignitaries of Persia who lived in the city of Isfáhán and whose authority extended far beyond the confines of that city. This friendship and sympathy, Siyyid Kázim thought, would enable him to pursue unhampered the course of his activities, and would considerably enhance the influence which he exercised over his disciples.

October 4, 2015

Ruhiyyih Khanum’s first encounter with Shoghi Effendi

Ruhiyyih Khanum often described her first encounter with the youthful Guardian [when she was 13 years old]. The day after their arrival in Haifa, [in 1923] she and her mother were in the old Pilgrim House opposite the home of 'Abdu'l-Baha on Persian Street, where they were staying, when a visitor came to the door. Mrs. Maxwell, who had suffered from insomnia on the voyage over, was finally sleeping after several broken nights, and Mary, in her concern for her mother, was determined that no one should disturb her. When the door opened a young man stepped into the hall and asked to see Mrs. Maxwell. Ruhiyyih Khanum recounts: 'I pulled myself up to my full height and said, "Mrs. Maxwell is resting; who is it who wants to see her?'"  

'I'm Shoghi Effendi,' was the young man's bemused reply - at which young Mary gasped and fled into her mother's room. Quite forgetting her concern to allow May an uninterrupted sleep, she dived beneath the pillows, 'like a puppy', as she always put it, and woke her up. When her mother asked her what on earth was the matter, Mary could only manage to say, 'He's here! He's here!' and, burrowing her head further into the pillows, point to the hall behind her. Upon realizing the situation, May said to her daughter, 'Now Mary, pull yourself together and go and tell him I am coming.' 
- Violette Nakhjavani  (‘The Maxwells of Montreal, vol. 2’)

September 10, 2015

During their time in Akka, ‘Abdu’l-Baha took every trouble upon Himself to allow His Father, Baha’u’llah, some relative peace and tranquility – Baha’u’llah recalled

In Baghdad We Ourselves would go and take a seat in the coffee-house to meet the people - friends and acquaintances, strangers and inquirers alike. We brought those who were remote near to the Faith, and led many a soul into the fold of the Cause. Thus We served the Cause of God, gave victory to His Word and exalted His Name. The Most Great Branch undertook the same task and served in the same way, to a much greater degree, in Adrianople, and then to a far greater extent and with greater efficacy, in 'Akka. The same hardships and afflictions which were Ours in the early days befell Him. In Baghdad We were not prisoners, and the Cause of God had not obtained even a fraction of the fame which it has gained today. At that time the number of its opponents and adversaries and ill-wishers was far less than today. In the Land of Mystery [Adrianople] We used to meet with some and let them come into Our presence. But in the Most Great Prison We do not meet the people who are not within the fold of the Cause. We have closed the doors of social intercourse. It is the Master Who has taken every trouble upon Himself. For Our sake, in order that We may have ease and comfort, He faces the world and its peoples. For Us He has become a mighty stronghold, a mighty armour. At first He rented the Mansion of Mazra'ih. We were there for a while. Then he secured for Us this Mansion of Bahji. He has arisen with all His power to serve the Faith, and confirmation crowns His effort. This work so occupies His days and nights that He is perforce kept away from Bahji for weeks. We consort with the Friends and reveal His [God's] Word. He, the Master, is the target and bears all hardships. 
- Baha’u’llah  (Words of Baha’u’llah recorded by Haji Mirza Haydar-Ali, quoted by Hand of the Cause Balyuzi in ‘’Abdu’l-Baha - The Center of the Covenant of Baha’u’llah’)

August 30, 2015

Lending a “shoulder” to ‘Abdu’l-Baha

On one of the occasions when the Master was in New York City in 1912 there were three automobiles awaiting Him and His party to take them from Hotel Ansonia to the home of Mr. and Mrs. Edward Kinney for luncheon. 'Abdu’l-Bahá stepped into the first one with two of the Persian friends. As there was a vacant seat next to Him one of the attendants beckoned John Bosch to come. John later told a friend that:

“As I reached the door, 'Abdu’l-Bahá seized me by the hand and pulled me into the car, seating me at His right. He seemed very tired. Immediately He put His arm around my waist, dropped His head on my left shoulder, and with a deep sigh went to sleep. During the entire hour's drive, while the friends in the automobiles looked at the sights, 'Abdu’l-Bahá slept.” 
(Adapted from ‘In Memoriam’ section of The Baha’i World 1946-1950: ‘John David Bosch’, by Charlotte M. Linfoot)

August 23, 2015

An overwhelming desire to see ‘Abdu’l-Baha...

When the news came that 'Abdu'l-Baha was on the way to America, John Bosch had such an overwhelming desire to see Him he started for New York on April 12, 1912. At Chicago, hearing that 'Abdu'l-Baha was in Washington, he went there instead, only to find that 'Abdu'l-Baha had not yet left New York. So he hurried on to that city, arriving very early on a cold and snowy morning. As soon as he had secured his room in the Hotel Ansonia he stole to 'Abdu'l-Baha's suite and was admitted almost immediately. Relating his experience to a friend, he said:

When I entered the room I had a pocketful of questions to ask 'Abdu'l-Baha, but when I saw Him I suddenly felt quite empty. I never took the questions out. Eventually 'Abdu'l-Baha told me all that I had wanted to ask Him. Foolishly I remarked that I had come three thousand miles to see Him, and He smilingly replied, "I came seven thousand miles to see you." I told Him that I, being a foreigner, had not the capacity of a speaker and that my work so far had been to circulate books and a few pamphlets. 'Abdu'l-Baha said: "You are doing very well; you are doing better than talking. With you it is not words or the movement of the lips; with you it is the heart that speaks. In your presence silence speaks and radiates." Then tea was brought in and after we had both partaken of it 'Abdu'l-Baha said: "You are now one of the family. You may come and go as you please." 
(Adapted from ‘In Memoriam’ section of The Baha’i World 1946-1950: ‘John David Bosch’, by Charlotte M. Linfoot)

August 19, 2015

‘Abdu’l-Baha’s visit to Montreal – Maxwell House

May and Sutherland Maxwell
Ruhiyyih Khanum explains that:

When 'Abdu'l-Baha consented to come to Montreal [in 1912] and arrangements were being made, my father [he wasn’t a Baha’i then] explained to Mother that though He would of course be their guest, he did not want to have the Master in his home but would engage a suite for him at the Windsor Hotel. All his sensitive Scots reticence shrank from the publicity and limelight that would be thrown on him as the host of such an attention-attracting guest as the Persian Prophet and His entourage would constitute. Mother was heartbroken, but she did not remonstrate, realizing perhaps that such things cannot be debated but must arise from the heart. The day before the scheduled arrival of 'Abdu'l-Baha, my father rushed into Mother's room, the largest bedroom, facing the garden and possessing three bay windows, and looking critically at her furniture declared: 'This is not good enough for ‘Abdu’l--Baha, I'm going right down to Morgans to buy a new set', and rushed off and immediately purchased and had delivered a bed, dressing table and chairs in white-painted Louis XV style. One can only imagine how great was her joy that her husband of his own accord should have felt the longing to have the Master under his own roof. He himself met the Master at the train and begged Him to accept the hospitality of his home. 
(Adapted from ‘The Maxwells of Montreal, vol. 1’, by Violette Nakhjavani)

August 10, 2015

The stone that became the “Cornerstone” of the House of Worship in Chicago

When the idea of constructing a Baha’i Temple in America was first proposed in 1903 there were very few Baha’is in the United States and Canada. By 1906 it is estimated that Baha’is resided in approximately 150 cities and that there were twenty-seven Spiritual Assemblies, including one in Honolulu and one in Montreal, Canada.

In preparation for this major undertaking, the Baha’is in various cities began holding meetings to increase support for the Temple, and several communities formed local treasuries to gather money for the project. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá continued to send letters of encouragement, expressing His wish for the friends to be united and supportive of this undertaking.

One Baha'i who made a unique contribution to the Temple project in 1908 was Esther Tobin, known to her friends as Nettie. She was a loving, humble woman who earned a meager living as a seamstress. After her husband's death in Detroit in 1892, she moved to Chicago with her two small sons, brother, and half-sister. Yet once there she could barely support her children; oftentimes she would buy groceries for the evening meal with money she earned during the same day. She had not attended school, which may account for her peculiar habit of using words out of context, a trait that often sent herself and her friends into fits of laughter. Paul Dealy, an early Baha'i, invited her to several Baha'i meetings, including those at the True home. It was in that home that she became a Baha'i, probably in 1903. Shortly thereafter, she was employed by Corinne True as a dressmaker and visited the True home one or two days each week.

Although Nettie Tobin worked actively as a member of the Women's Assembly of Teaching, she was troubled by her financial inability to contribute to the building of the Temple. After praying often that God send her something to offer as a gift, she reportedly heard a voice on several occasions that told her to find a stone. This is what she told her nurse Gertrude Triebwasser three and a half years before her passing:

August 6, 2015

The youthful handsome sage

Bahiyyih Khanum, the daughter of Baha’u’llah, recalled many years later that during their time in Baghdad ‘Abdu’l-Baha “was accustomed to frequent the mosques and have discussions with the religious doctors and learned men. They were astonished at his knowledge and insights, and he came to be known as the youthful sage. They would ask him, ‘Who is your teacher -- where do you learn the things which you say?’ His reply was that his father had taught him. Although he had never been a day in school, he was as proficient in all that was taught as well-educated young men, which was the cause of much remark among those who knew him. In appearance my brother was at this time a remarkably fine-looking youth. He was noted as one of the handsomest men in Baghdad.” 
(Adapted from ‘Life and Teachings of Abbas Effendi’ by Myron H. Phelps) 

July 25, 2015

The King and the Dervish

Whereas riches may become a mighty barrier between man and God, and rich people are often in great danger of attachment, yet people with small worldly possessions can also become attached to material things. The following Persian story of a king and a dervish [1] illustrates this:

Once there was a king who had many spiritual qualities and whose deeds were based on justice and loving-kindness. He often envied the dervish who had renounced the world and appeared to be free from the cares of this material life, for he roamed the country, slept in any place when night fell and chanted the praises of his Lord during the day. He lived in poverty, yet thought he owned the whole world. His only possessions were his clothes and a basket in which he carried the food donated by his well-wishers. The king was attracted to this way of life.

Once he invited a well-known dervish to his palace, sat at his feet and begged him for some lessons about detachment. The dervish was delighted with the invitation. He stayed a few days in the palace and whenever the king was free preached the virtues of a mendicant's life to him. At last the king was converted. One day, dressed in the garb of a poor man, he left his palace in the company of the dervish. They had walked together some distance when the dervish realized that he had left his basket behind in the palace. This disturbed him greatly and, informing the king that he could not go without his basket, he begged permission to return for it. But the king admonished him, saying that he himself had left behind his palaces, his wealth and power, whereas the dervish, who had preached for a lifetime the virtues of detachment, had at last been tested and was found to be attached to this world -- his small basket.