November 12, 2010

An exceptional example of spiritual ecstasy and joy felt by some early believers in a devotional gathering

Nabil [1] has recounted in his as yet unpublished narratives the story of a gathering held one evening in the house of Bahá'u'lláh in Baghdad, sometime before His Declaration. He considered that gathering to have been one of the most memorable of his life.

That night a wonderful feast had been arranged and 'Abdu'l-Bahá, then eighteen years of age, was acting as host. His youthful and radiant personality added distinction to the assembly. A number of believers from Baghdad and Karbila were present, among them some eminent personalities such as Haji Siyyid Javad-i-Karbila'i, [2] Shaykh Sultan [3], and Sayyah [4].

After partaking of food they began to chant the Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, and soon the atmosphere became deeply spiritual. Hearts were filled with divine love and souls were illumined by the light of the New Day; so when the poem of Az-Bágh-i-Iláhí[(From the Garden of Holiness) -- a Tablet of Baha’u’llah. For a brief explanation about it please visit Baha’i Historical Facts] was chanted, its mysteries became apparent to them, revealing thereby the approaching hour of the unveiling of Bahá'u'lláh's divine station. Every sincere soul in that company experienced ecstasy and joy, and the atmosphere became alive with excitement and rapture.

An interesting incident occurred during the chanting of this ode. In one verse Bahá'u'lláh condemns the unfaithful among His companions. When this particular verse was chanted the believers all turned to look at Siyyid Muhammad-i-Isfahani [5]. Although embarrassed, he arose and to the amusement of some and the amazement of others, performed a dance of rapture in an attempt to dispel their suspicion.

Then without warning the door opened and Bahá'u'lláh entered majestically, holding in His hand a small glass vessel of rose-water. He greeted them with the salutation 'Allah'u'Akbar',[Literally, 'God is the Greatest'. With these words the followers of the Báb greeted each other] and bade them not to arise or disrupt their meeting. He had felt the spirituality of that gathering, He said, and so had come to anoint them with rose-water. [In those days it was considered a gracious act for the host to anoint his guests with rose-water.] This He graciously did, going to every person in the room, after which He left.

It was a mighty climax and the highlight of the evening. No one was able to sleep that night, so intoxicated were they with the wine of His presence. 'The like of that night', Nabil writes, 'the eye of creation had not seen.'
(Adib Taherzadeh, The Revelation of Baha'u'llah v 1, pp. 219-220)

[1] The author of The Dawn-Breakers, Bahá'u'lláh's "Poet-Laureate, His chronicler and His indefatigable disciple.", Shoghi Effendi, ‘God Passes By’, p. 130]
[2] He was one of the outstanding disciples of Siyyid Kazim-i-Rashti, and in his early youth had met the renowned Shaykh Ahmad-i-Ahsa'i … He was distinguished by his learning and knowledge, his piety and uprightness. He was reserved in his speech and very gentle in his manners, and had a dignified bearing which endeared him to people (Adib Taherzadeh, The Revelation of Baha'u'llah v 1, p. 220)
[3] The father-in-law of Bahá'u'lláh's faithful brother Mirza Musa (Adib Taherzadeh, The Child of the Covenant, p. 65)
[4] He had been the courier of the Báb and at one time His personal attendant. (Balyuzi, Baha'u'llah - The King of Glory, p. 247)
[5] Referred to by the Guardian as “the Antichrist of the Bahá'í Revelation” (Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 164)