April 14, 2010

The amazing story of how ‘Abdu’r-Rahim entered the presence of his Lord in the barracks of the prison city of Akka during the early days of Baha’u’llah’s incarceration


‘Abdu’r-Rahim, whose original name was Ja’far, was a native of the town of Bushru'iyyih in northern Persia – the same town that was the birthplace of Mulla Husayn, the first to believe in the Báb.

Before his conversion to the Faith, 'Abdu'r-Rahim had been a fanatical Muslim. Having noticed the growth of the Faith, he once sought guidance from a local clergyman as to what his attitude should be towards the Bahá'ís. The clergyman told him that 'to fight them is as meritorious as taking part in a holy war”, and that “to kill them is praiseworthy in the sight of God”!

“These words provoked in 'Abdu'r-Rahim a strong urge to kill some Bahá'ís. Armed with a weapon, he one day confronted an old believer by the name of Haji Baba, and told him in no uncertain terms that he had come to take his life because he had strayed from the path of truth and had embraced the Faith of the Bahá'ís.

Faced with the threat of death, Haji Baba displayed unruffled calm and spoke with tenderness such words that the heart of 'Abdu'r-Rahim was touched. Soon his mood changed. Instead of being an enemy intent upon killing, he now wanted to investigate the truth.

Haji Baba conducted 'Abdu'r-Rahim to the home of the sister of Mulla Husayn where the friends often held their meetings for teaching the Cause. That meeting with 'Abdu'r-Rahim lasted one day and one night, during which time he was most assiduously involved in discussion. At the end of that marathon meeting he recognized the truth of the Cause and became filled with such a new spirit of faith and enthusiasm that he could not rest in his native town any longer. Knowing that the Supreme Manifestation of God was on this earth he could not resist the urge to go and see Him face to face. So he set off on the long journey to attain His presence.

For six months 'Abdu'r-Rahim travelled on foot until he reached the abode of his Beloved -- the prison city of 'Akká. He arrived in the early days of Bahá'u'lláh's incarceration in the barracks when no visitor suspected of being a Bahá'í was permitted even to approach the vicinity of the prison. His arrival coincided with the period when Nabil-i-A'zam (the great Baha’i historian and the author of Dawn-Breakers) was attempting in vain to get a glimpse of his Lord. Nabil poured out his heart to 'Abdu'r-Rahim and lamented over his own inability to achieve his purpose. But 'Abdu'r-Rahim, undismayed, proceeded to attempt to circumambulate the prison.

Before undertaking such a holy mission, he decided that he must wash his clothes which were unclean, as they had been worn throughout the journey. He washed them in the sea and waited until they were dry. When he put them on, however, he looked very odd and shabby as the clothes had shrunk and were torn.

With the utmost devotion and a heart overflowing with the love of Bahá'u'lláh, 'Abdu'r-Rahim approached the prison and began to circumambulate it. Then to his surprise he noticed that a hand from a window of the prison was beckoning him to come inside. He knew it was the hand of Bahá'u'lláh summoning him to His presence. He rushed to the gate of the prison which was guarded by soldiers. But the soldiers seemed to him to be motionless and without life; they appeared not to see him. They did not even move an eyelid as he went through the gate.

Soon 'Abdu'r-Rahim found himself in the presence of His Lord, overwhelmed by emotion and carried away into the world of the Spirit, communing with the One who was the object of his adoration and love. Bahá'u'lláh told him that through the hands of power and might He had temporarily blinded the eyes of the guards so that he might attain His presence as a bounty on His part.

It is not clear how many days 'Abdu'r-Rahim remained in the prison. However, Bahá'u'lláh revealed a Tablet for him while he was there. In that Tablet He confirms that He had closed the eyes of the guards so that 'Abdu'r-Rahim could enter His presence and witness the glory of His countenance. He calls him by the new name Rahim (Compassionate), showers His blessings upon him, and urges him to recount the experience of his pilgrimage to the friends on his return home.

Before leaving, Bahá'u'lláh entrusted 'Abdu'r-Rahim with Tablets to be delivered to some believers in Persia.” (Adib Taherzadeh, ‘The Revelation of Baha'u'llah’, vol. 3, pp. 58-60)