March 24, 2015

A gift from Africa for the beloved Guardian

Hand of the Cause John Robarts recalled the following during his pilgrimage in 1955:

Audrey and I had brought a kaross to the Guardian from Bechuanaland [today part of South Africa] -- a mat made from the skin of a springbok, inlaid with designs in other animal skins, black and white. On our first evening we laid it out on the floor beside his chair. It was a lovely thing. He said, "That is beautiful! Beautiful! I shall put it in the mansion."

That was in 1955. He died in 1957, and then the Hands [of the Cause] met for the first conclave in the mansion [of Bahji], just after his funeral. The large conference hall has twelve rooms leading from it, one of which was Ruhiyyih Khanum's bedroom. I searched every room but that one. I told Audrey, "I don't think the Guardian put the kaross in the mansion." She said, "He must have. He said he would. It must be there."

A year later at the second conclave, I again looked for the kaross, and finally asked Ruhiyyih Khanum if Shoghi Effendi had brought it to the mansion. She said, "Yes, indeed he did. Come into my room and see it." There it was on the floor beside his bed. She said, "That was his prayer mat. He loved it." 

Hand of the Cause Mr. Collis Featherstone photographed it for me. I held it in front of me as high as I could reach, and all that can be seen of me are my fingers. How proud that springbok must have been in its exalted state!
(Hand of the Cause John Robarts, ‘A Few Reminiscences about Shoghi Effendi, taken from Pilgrim Notes of January 1955, from the Film Retrospective, and from  Some Other Words of the Beloved Guardian’)

March 21, 2015

An example of the effect of Baha’u’llah’s Teachings on early believers

An actual incident related by ‘Abdu’l-Baha:

A certain person violently molested and grievously injured a certain Bábí. The victim unclosed his hand in retaliation and arose to take vengeance, unsheathing his weapon against the aggressor. Becoming the object of censure and reprimand of this sect, however, he took refuge in flight.

When he reached Hamadán his character became known, and, as he was of the clerical class, the doctors vehemently pursued him, handed him over to the government, and ordered chastisement to be inflicted.

By chance there fell out from the fold of his collar a document written by Bahá’u’lláh, the subject of which was reproof of attempts at retaliation, censure and reprobation of the search after vengeance, and prohibition from following after lusts. Amongst other matters they found these expressions contained in it: “Verily God is quit of the seditious,” and likewise: “If ye be slain it is better for you than that ye should slay. And when ye are tormented have recourse to the controllers of affairs and the refuge of the people; and if ye be neglected then entrust your affairs to the Jealous Lord. This is the mark of the sincere, and the characteristic of the assured.”

When the governor became cognizant of this writing he addressed that person saying, “By the decree of that Chief whom you yourself obey correction is necessary and punishment and chastisement obligatory.”

“If,” replied that person, “you will carry out all His precepts I shall have the utmost pleasure in [submitting to] punishment and death.”

The governor smiled and let the man go. 
(‘Abdu’l-Baha, ‘A Traveler’s Narrative’)

March 9, 2015

The story of how Abdu’l-Bahá blessed May and Sutherland Maxwell with a child – Mary (Ruhiyyih Khanum)

The birth of Mary Sutherland Maxwell, on August 8th, in the Hahnemann Hospital, later known as The Fifth Avenue Hospital, in New York City, was the hottest news to hit the North American Baha'i community in the summer of 1910.

Ever since May Bolles had accepted the Faith of Baha'u'llah, she had been known and loved by all the early Baha'is as one of the foremost disciples of 'Abdu'l-Baha; her husband, Sutherland Maxwell, was a distinguished architect in Canada and their home in Montreal a place of culture and spiritual vitality.

When the Baha'is read the announcement: "A little daughter has come to bless the home of Mr. and Mrs. W. S. Maxwell of Montreal. Canada", in Vol. 1, issue 9 of the Star of the West on August 20th, it must have caused many flutters of excited interest amongst them. There must have been many who expressed their congratulations and sent their good wishes.

Seven months later May received a Tablet from ‘Abdu’l-Baha, the Center of the Covenant, in which He said:

“In the garden of existence a rose hath bloomed with the utmost freshness, fragrance and beauty. Educate her according to the divine teachings so that she may grow up to be a real Baha’i and strive with all thy heart, that she may receive the Holy Spirit.”

March 1, 2015

Meeting Shoghi Effendi in Paris during the Summer of 1920

In the ‘Priceless Pearl’ Ruhiyyih Khanum tells us how in 1920 ‘Abdu’l-Bahá sent Shoghi Effendi abroad for his studies, in the company of Lotfullah Hakim who was returning to England after his first pilgrimage to Haifa.

The Master had insisted that on his way to England Shoghi Effendi should first go to a sanatorium and take a good rest. It shows how solicitous for his health his grandfather was.  At that time Shoghi Effendi's nervous strength was largely depleted because of the intensity of the work he had performed in the Master's service and the strain caused by the long years of war and post-war recovery.

Shoghi Effendi took the rest that had been enjoined upon him in a sanatorium in Neuilly, a suburb of Paris. He was not ill, but run down; he associated with the believers there, played some tennis, went sight-seeing, becoming familiar with a city that is in itself so beautiful and houses one of the world's greatest museums, visited some Baha'is in the town of Barbizon, remained about two months and then proceeded to England in July. (Adapted from ‘Priceless Pearl’, by Ruhiyyih Rabbani)

It was during this time that one of the Persian believers who was on his way to Haifa to attain the presence of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá as a pilgrim met Shoghi Effendi in Paris. This believer’s name was Nuru’d-Din Mumtazi and the following is an excerpt from this his pilgrim notes: