November 30, 2009

‘Abdu’l-Baha knew the time of His passing

We have now come to realize that the Master, (i.e., ‘Abdu’l-Baha) knew the day and hour when, His mission on earth being finished, He would return to the shelter of heaven. He was, however, careful that His family should not have any premonition of the coming sorrow. It seemed as though their eyes were veiled by Him, with His ever-loving consideration for His dear ones, that they should not see the significance of certain dreams and other signs of the culminating event. This they now realize was His thought for them, in order that their strength be preserved to face the great ordeal when it should arrive, that they should not be devitalized by anguish of mind in its anticipation.

Out of the many signs of the approach of the hour when He could say of His work on earth, "It is finished,” the following two dreams seem remarkable.

Less than eight weeks before His passing the Master related this to His family:

“I seemed to be standing within a great temple, in the inmost shrine, facing the east, in the place of the leader himself. I became aware that a large number of people were flocking into the temple; and yet more crowded in, taking their places in rows behind me, until there was a vast multitude. As I stood I raised loudly the 'Call to Prayer.' Suddenly the thought came to me to go forth from the temple. When I found myself outside I said within myself, 'For what reason came I forth, not having led the prayer? But it matters not; now that I have uttered the call to prayer, the vast multitude will of themselves chant the prayer’."

When the Master had passed away, His family pondered over this dream and interpreted it thus :

He had called that same vast multitude - all peoples, all religions, all races, all nations and all kingdoms - to unity and peace, to universal love and brotherhood ; and having called them, returned to God, the Beloved, at whose command He had raised the majestic call, had given the divine message. This same multitude – the peoples, religions, races, nations and kingdoms – would continue the work to which ‘Abdu’l-Baha had called them and would of themselves press forward in its accomplishment.

A few weeks after the preceding dream the Master came in from the solitary room in the garden, which He had occupied of late, and said:

"I dreamed a dream and behold the Blessed Beauty, (i.e., Baha’u’llah) came and said unto me, 'Destroy this room!' "

The family, who had been wishing that He would come and sleep in the house, not being happy that He should be alone at night, exclaimed, "Yes, Master, we think your dream means that you should leave that room and come into the house.” When He heard this from us, He smiled meaningly as though not agreeing with our interpretation. Afterwards we understood that by the "room" was meant the temple of His body.

In the same week He revealed a Tablet to America, in which is the following prayer :

"Ya-Baha’u’l-Abha! (O Thou the glory of glories) [reference to Baha’u’llah] I have renounced the world and the people thereof, and am heartbroken and sorely afflicted because of the unfaithful. In the cage of this world I flutter even as a frightened bird, and yearn every day to take my flight unto Thy kingdom. Ya-Baha’u’l-Abha! Make me to drink of the cup of sacrifice and set me free. Relieve me from these woes and trials, from these afflictions and troubles. Thou art He that aideth, that succoureth, that protecteth, that stretcheth forth the land of help."

After lunch He dictated some Tablets, His last ones, to Ruhi Effendi. When He had rested He walked in the garden. He seemed to be in a deep reverie.

His good and faithful servant Isma’il Aqa, relates the following:

"Some time, about twenty days before my Master passed away, I was near the garden when I heard Him summon an old believer saying: 'Come with me that we may admire together the beauty of the garden. Behold, what the spirit of devotion is able to achieve! This flourishing place was, a few years ago, but a heap of stones, and now it is verdant with foliage and flowers. My desire is that after I am gone the loved ones may all arise to serve the divine Cause, please God, so it shall be. Ere long men will arise who shall bring life to the world.'

"Three days before His ascension whilst seated in the garden, He called me and said, 'I am sick with fatigue. Bring two of your oranges for me that I may eat them for your sake.' This I did, and He having eaten them turned to me saying, 'Have you any of your sweet lemons?' He bade me fetch a few. Whilst I was plucking them, He came over to the tree, saying, 'Nay, but I must gather them with my own hands.' Having eaten of the fruit He turned to me and asked. 'Do you desire anything more?' Then with a pathetic gesture of His hands, He touchingly, emphatically and deliberately said, 'Now it is finished, it is finished!’

"These significant words penetrated my very soul. I felt each time He uttered them as if a knife were struck into my heart. I understood His meaning but never dreamed His end was so nigh."

It was Isma’il Aqa who had been the Master's gardener for well-nigh thirty years and who, in the first week after his bereavement, driven by hopeless grief, quietly disposed of all his belongings, made his will, went to the Master's sister and craved her pardon for any misdeeds he had committed. He then delivered the key of the garden to a trusted servant of the household and, taking with him means whereby to end his life at his beloved Master's tomb, walked up the mountain to that sacred place, three times circled round it and would have succeeded in taking his life had it not been for the opportune arrival of a friend, who reached him in time to prevent the accomplishment of his tragic intention.

During the evening of Friday, November 25th, ‘Abdu'l-Baha attended the usual meeting of the friends in His own audience chamber.

In the morning of Saturday, November 26th, He arose early, came to the tea room and had some tea. He asked for the fur-lined coat which had belonged to Baha’u’llah. He often put on this coat when He was cold or did not feel well, We so loved it. He then withdrew to His room, lay down on His bed and said, "Cover me up. I am very cold. Last night I did not sleep well, I felt cold. This is serious, it is the beginning."

After more blankets had been put on, He asked for the fur coat He had taken off to be placed over Him. That day He was rather feverish. In the evening His temperature rose still higher, but during the night the fever left Him. After midnight, He asked for some tea.

On Sunday morning, November 27th, He said: "I am quite well and will get up as usual and have tea with you in the tea room." After He had dressed He was persuaded to remain on the sofa in His room.

In the afternoon He sent all the friends to the tomb of the Bab, where on the occasion of the anniversary of the declaration of the Covenant a feast was being held, offered by a Parsi pilgrim who had lately arrived from India.

At four in the afternoon being on the sofa in His room He said: "Ask my sister and all the family to come and have tea with me."

His four sons-in-law and Ruhi Effendi came to Him after returning from the gathering on the mountain. They said to Him: "The giver of the feast was unhappy because you were not there." He said unto them: "But I was there, though my body was absent, my spirit was there in your midst. I was present with the friends at the tomb. The friends must not attach any importance to the absence of my body. In spirit I am, and shall always be, with the friends, even though I be far away."

The same evening He asked after the health of every member of the household, of the pilgrims and of the friends in Haifa. "Very good, very good," He said when told that none were ill. This was His very last utterance concerning His friends.

At eight in the evening He retired to bed after taking a little nourishment, saying, "I am quite well."

He told all the family to go to bed and rest. Two of His daughters however stayed with Him. That night the Master had gone to sleep very calmly, quite free from fever.

He awoke about 1.15 a. m., got up and walked across to a table where He drank some water. He took off an outer night garment, saying, "I am too warm." He went back to bed and when His daughter Ruha Khanum, later on, approached, she found Him lying peacefully and, as He looked into her face, He asked her to lift up the net curtains, saying, “I have difficulty in breathing, give me more air."

Some rose-water was brought of which He drank, sitting up in bed to do so, without any help. He again lay down, and as some food was offered Him, He remarked in a clear and distinct voice:

“You wish me to take some food, and I am going?"

He gave them a beautiful look. His face was so calm, His expression so serene, they thought Him asleep.

He had gone from the gaze of His loved ones!
(Lady Blomfield and Shoghi Effendi, The Baha’i World 1926-1928)