January 28, 2010

Shoghi Effendi – News of the birth of Abdu’l-Baha’s first grandson and His successor

Since 'Abdu’l-Baha didn’t have any surviving sons so apparently when the news of His first grandson being born reached the West “a believer in America had written to Him that in the Bible is mentioned that after 'Abdu'l-Bahá ‘a little child shall lead them’ (Isaiah 11:6) and does this mean a real, live child who exists?” (Ruhiyyih Khanum, The Priceless Pearl, p. 1) This question was answered by the Master in the following Tablet that was sent to this believer:

O Maidservant of God!

Verily, that child is born and is alive and from him will appear wondrous things that thou wilt hear of in the future. Thou shalt behold him endowed with the most perfect appearance, supreme capacity, absolute perfection, consummate power and unsurpassed might. His face will shine with a radiance that illumines all the horizons of the world; therefore forget this not as long as thou dost live inasmuch as ages and centuries will bear traces of him. Upon thee be greetings and praise. Abdu'l-Bahá Abbas” (Ruhiyyih Khanum, The Priceless Pearl, p. 1)

Since “there was practically no contact between the Bahá'ís of the West and East in those days and Tablets were circulated among the American friends by copy or word of mouth” (ibid, p. 1), the existence of such an important Tablet was not known to the believers in the East. It should also be noted that, as Ruhiyyih Khanum explains: “Many years before His passing, in answer to a question from some Persian believers as to whether there would be one person to whom all should turn after His death, 'Abdu'l-Bahá had written:

"...Know verily that this is a well-guarded secret. It is even as a gem concealed within its shell. That it will be revealed is predestined. The time will come when its light will appear, when its evidences will be made manifest, and its secrets unravelled." (Ruhiyyih Khanum, The Priceless Pearl, p. 1)

There are also two very interesting accounts that we find in the book called “The Priceless Pearl”, written by Ruhhiyih Khanum, the wife of Shoghi Effendi). She quotes two incidents recoded by Dr. Yunis Khan in his diary -- he was one of Abdu’l-Baha’s secretaries for many years. He was in ‘Akka during 1897, the same year that Shoghi Effendi was born. Dr. Yunis Khan mentions in his diary that he wasn’t aware of the existence of the above Tablet, and “wholly unaware of the background which might have brought about the question this friend now asked him to put to 'Abdu'l-Bahá; indeed he states in his diary that it was not until many years later he heard of this Tablet's existence.” (ibid. p. 2), when one day he received a letter from one of the believers in America about the birth of a child who would succeed Abdu’l-Baha. This letter came at a time when the “dark clouds of Covenant-breaking were gathering ever thicker about the Master.” This is how Ruhiyyih Khanum narrates it:

“Yunis Khan writes: ‘Abdu'l-Bahá was walking in front of the khan [the building where many believers used to stay in 'Akká]; I approached and told Him 'someone has written to me from America that we have heard the Master has said that the one whose appearance will follow me has recently been born and is in this world. If this is so we are answered, but if this is not so then -?’ After waiting a moment, with a look full of meaning and secret exaltation, He said: 'Yes, this is true.' Hearing this glad tidings my soul rejoiced; I felt assured that the Covenant-breaking will come to naught and the Cause of God triumph throughout the world and this world become the mirror of the heavenly world. However, to understand what He meant by 'appearance', as we Bahá'ís conceive its meaning, was very difficult for me, and remained in my mind a mystery; seeking further information I thereupon asked Him: 'Does this mean a revelation?' If He had replied with 'yes' or 'no' this would have created more complications and aroused more questions, but fortunately His answer was conclusive and such as to silence any questioner, and in even clearer words He said: ‘The triumph of the Cause of God is in his hands!' Yunis Khan then goes on to state that he wrote this answer to the believer in America but did not share it for many years with anyone and even in his own mind refused to contemplate its implications or ask himself if that child was in 'Akká or somewhere else. He explains this reserved attitude on his part as due to the words of Bahá'u'lláh in the book of His Covenant in which He says that all eyes must be focused on the Centre of the Covenant ('Abdu'l-Bahá), and to the defections, machinations and mischief which for two generations disrupted the family of the Manifestation of God.” (Ruhiyyih Khanum, The Priceless Pearl, p. 2)

The other incident that Dr. Yunis Khan has recorded in his diary concerns the first time he saw Shoghi Effendi when he was about only 4 months old:

"For many days the occupants of the Pilgrim House had begged the Afnan [Shoghi Effendi's father] to see Shoghi Effendi. One day, unexpectedly, this child of four months was brought to the biruni [reception room of the Master]. The believers approached him with joy and I too had this privilege, but I said to myself 'only look upon him as a Bahá'í child'. However I could not control my feelings because an inner force obliged me to bow low before him and for a moment I was bewitched by the beauty of this suckling child. I kissed the soft hair of his head and sensed such a power in him that I can find no words to express it, but only say he looked like the babe one sees in the arms of the Blessed Virgin. For several days the face of this child was before me, then gradually I forgot it. Two other times I had these same feelings, once when he was nine years old and once when he was eleven years old." (Quoted by Ruhiyyih Khanum, The Priceless Pearl, p. 3)