October 24, 2010

The Holy Family enters the prison in Akka – recalls the Greatest Holy Leaf, Bahiyyih Khanum

The Greatest Holy Leaf told me that they were marvelously happy in the barracks, and that the second night they were there, they got laughing so hard Baha'u'llah came to the door and told them to stop, that He was afraid the guard would think they had gone crazy to be so happy in such a place.

I then asked the Greatest Holy Leaf if she would give us some of the incidents of her early life with Baha'u'llah and if she was with Him at 'Akka in the Barracks. She said that when they were coming to the 'Akka Prison they landed first at Haifa, seventy-two in number. They were kept in a little house here for a few hours and then put in sailboats. They sailed across the bay to 'Akka, and as there was no place to land, they were placed in chairs, carried by two men and taken to shore. Everybody had come to the shore to watch their arrival because everyone was interested to see what kind of people these prisoners were.

There was a line of soldiers from the shore to the Barracks and first the women were taken up and put in a room, and locked, and then the men. They had no furniture but a few rugs and no food but fragments of bread. They got very hungry and upon hearing the cries of the children, the guards brought them some partly cooked rice. This they could not eat, but gave a little to the children to appease their hunger and quiet their cries. The small amount of bread was given to Baha'u'llah but He ate only a very little. Fortunately, they were very tired and soon fell asleep.

The next day, the guards allowed one man to leave the barracks for one hour to buy a little food for them.

The Greatest Holy Leaf and her mother had the room beside Baha'u'llah.

She also said that her mother's grief was very terrible when the Pure Branch passed away. With all her trouble and sorrow, she was happy, but this seemed almost too much. She could not, for two years, even know where he was buried.
(Ruth Randall quoting the Greatest Holy Leaf during her pilgrimage to Haifa in November, 1919; ‘William Henry Randall, Disciple of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’, p. 170)