February 15, 2010

An example of Baha’u’llah’s high sense of justice

When Baha’u’llah along with His family and a number of His companions were travelling from Baghdad to Constantinople an incident took place near the city of Mardin which provides us with a wonderful example of Baha'u'llah's high sense of justice, a principle greatly stressed in His Revelation.

The caravan had encamped for the night at a small village below the town. “There, during the night, two mules, belonging to an Arab travelling with the caravan, were stolen. The owner was beside himself with grief. Baha'u'llah asked the official who accompanied the caravan to try and find the missing animals. Other officials were called in, but no animal was forthcoming. As the caravan was on the point of departing, the poor Arab went crying to Baha'u'llah. ‘You are leaving,’ he moaned, ‘and I shall never get back my beasts.’ Baha'u'llah immediately called off the resumption of the journey. ‘We will go to Firdaws [a nearby estate] and stay there’, He said, ‘until this man's mules are found and restored to him.’ (King of Glory, by Hasan Balyuzi, pp. 187-8)

“. . . The Mutasarrif [local Governor] threatened the headman of the village, where the mules had been stolen, with imprisonment if the animals were not found. The headman offered a sum of money in lieu of the mules. But Baha'u'llah insisted that the Arab was entitled to have his beasts restored to him. On the second day the headman came with a promissory note guaranteed by higher officials, offering to pay 60 pounds within a month, the value of the two mules. But Baha'u'llah refused this offer too. Then the headman realized that the game was up, sent for the animals and gave them to their distraught owner. People were amazed, for such a thing had never happened before. No stolen property had ever been retrieved, nor restitution made to the rightful owner. Aqa Husayn-i-Ashchi, in his reminiscences some four decades later, recalled that various officials went to Baha'u'llah to speak of the part they had played in retrieving the beasts and received suitable rewards. The Mutasarrif was given a costly cashmere shawl, the Mufti an illuminated copy of the Qur'an, the head of the horsemen a sword with bejewelled scabbard.” (ibid)

“The purpose of the halt at Firdaws achieved, Baha’u'llah ordered the resumption of the journey on the third day. And what was seen then was also an event of rare splendour. The road lay through the main street of the city of Mardin. Government cavalry with flags flying and drums beating preceded the caravan; then came the caravan escorted by the Mutsarrif himself with other high officials and notables. And the whole town had come out, thronging the streets to hail and see the passage of the caravan. It was a slow descent from the mountain-top, and then Baha'u'llah bade farewell to the escort and told the men to go back to their town; while the caravan went on its way, moving all day long through copses and over lush meadows, until a halt was called at the end of the day, in a verdant spot beside running water." (ibid)

As apparent from the above incident, other travellers would join the caravan from time to time, either for protection or companionship or both. 
(Adapted from 'Baha’u’llah the Prince of Peace, A Portrait', by David Hofman)