April 7, 2017

circa 1848: Baha’u’llah’s first imprisonment

Baha’u’llah’s first imprisonment took place in Tihran when He was informed of the plight of a number of companions and supporters of Táhirih who were brought as prisoners to the Capital from Qazvin. They were falsely charged with the murder of Táhirih’s father-in-law, while Táhirih herself was placed in the strictest confinement in the house of her father in Qazvin. Bahá’u’lláh was at that time residing in Ṭihrán.

Nabil explains:

As He [Baha’u’llah] was already acquainted with the kad-khudá [alderman] in whose home they [the companions and supporters of Táhirih] were incarcerated, He decided to visit them and intervene in their behalf. That avaricious and deceitful official, who was fully aware of the extreme generosity of Bahá’u’lláh, greatly exaggerated in the hope of deriving a substantial pecuniary advantage for himself, the misfortune that had befallen the unhappy captives.”

“They are destitute of the barest necessities of life,” urged the kad-khudá. “They hunger for food, and their clothing is wretchedly scanty.” Bahá’u’lláh extended immediate financial assistance for their relief, and urged the kad-khudá to relax the severity of the rule under which they were confined.

The kad-khudá consented to relieve a few who were unable to support the oppressive weight of their chains, and for the rest did whatever he could to alleviate the rigour of their confinement. Prompted by greed, he informed his superiors of the situation, and emphasised the fact that both food and money were being regularly supplied by Bahá’u’lláh for those who were imprisoned in his house. These officials were in their turn tempted to derive every possible advantage from the liberality of Bahá’u’lláh. They summoned Him to their presence, protested against His action, and accused Him of complicity in the act for which the captives had been condemned.

April 2, 2017

The Furutan family's first pilgrimage during WW II

Hand of the Cause Mr Furutan 1953
Early in 1941, during the Second World War, means were miraculously provided for me and my family to go on pilgrimage. In the company of my mother, my wife, and my eight-year-old daughter, together with other pilgrims, we set out on our journey. Passing through Qazvin, Hamadan, Kermanshah and Qasr-i-Shirin, we reached Baghdad.

We stayed for two days in that historical city, holy to Baha'is, and met with the friends there. Then via Rutbah, we arrived at Zemakh, which was then on the border of Palestine. Our luggage was inspected at the border, and since we carried two very expensive silk rugs, which were the gift of a believer, we were asked to pay a considerable amount of duty. However, when we explained that these rugs were brought for the House of 'Abdu'l-Baha, they were released without charge.

The director of Customs, who was Christian and a handsome and courteous man, happened to travel in the same bus with us to Haifa, and asked me about the value of the rugs. I said that I did not know as they were the gift of another believer. He offered to pay me an equivalent amount for an identical pair if I would promise to buy and send them to him in Zemakh on my return to Iran. I had to excuse myself from accepting this responsibility while the War was continuing, explaining that I had no experience in these affairs. He said that he would trust me with such a large amount only because I was a Baha'i and could not understand why I refused his request. I replied that I had to excuse myself precisely because I was a Baha'i! When we reached Haifa we parted as friends.

March 14, 2017

Mullá Husayn finds “God’s hidden treasure” in Mázindarán

In about 1848, four years after recognizing the Báb and becoming His first believer, and receiving the title of Bábu’l-Báb (the Gate of the Gate), Mulla Husayn left the city of Mashhad, in the province of Khurasan, north-east of Tihran, where he had lived since 1844. Desiring to see his Lord Who was imprisoned in the castle of Mah-Ku in the province of Adhirbayjan, north-west of Tihran, he told his friends: “I have vowed to walk the whole distance that separates me from my Beloved.” (a distance of about 900 miles). “I shall not relax in my resolve until I shall have reached my destination.”

His friends offered to arrange for a more conventional and comfortable mode of travel for this long and arduous journey, but Mulla Husayn declined their help. Upon his insistence, he finally allowed one of his friends to accompany him and to act as his servant throughout his pilgrimage to Ádhirbayján. On his way to Tihran, Mulla Husayn was enthusiastically greeted by the believers in the towns through which he passed. They too offered him the same assistance and received from him the same reply.

When Mulla Husayn arrived in Tihran he was visited by many believers. Nabil, the great Baha’i historian, recorded what he heard from Áqáy-i-Kalím, Bahá’u’lláh’s faithful brother, about Mulla Husayn:

“When Mulla Husayn arrived at Tihran, I, together with a large number of believers, went to visit him. He seemed to us the very embodiment of constancy, of piety and virtue. He inspired us with his rectitude of conduct and passionate loyalty. Such were the force of his character and the ardour of his faith that we felt convinced that he, unaided and alone, would be capable of achieving the triumph of the Faith of God.”

February 15, 2017

An example of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s ability to see the light of the spirit of a human being at a considerable distance – narrated by the Master

In the days of Bahá’u’lláh, during the worst times in the Most Great Prison, they would not permit any of the friends either to leave the Fortress or to come in from the outside. … [two Azalís] lived by the second gate of the city, and watched there at all times, day and night. Whenever they spied a Bahá’í traveler they would hurry away to the Governor and tell him that the traveler was bringing in letters and would carry the answers back. The Governor would then arrest the traveler, seize his papers, jail him, and drive him out. This became an established custom with the authorities and went on for a long time—indeed, for nine years until, little by little, the practice was abandoned.

It was at such a period that the Afnán, Hájí Mírzá Muhammad-‘Alí—that great bough of the Holy Tree [1] — journeyed to Akká, coming from India to Egypt, and from Egypt to Marseilles. One day I was up on the roof of the caravanserai. Some of the friends were with me and I was walking up and down. It was sunset. At that moment, glancing at the distant seashore, I observed that a carriage was approaching. “Gentlemen,” I said, “I feel that a holy being is in that carriage.” It was still far away, hardly within sight.
“Let us go to the gate,” I told them. “Although they will not allow us to pass through, we can stand there till he comes.” I took one or two people with me and we left.

At the city gate, I called to the guard, privately gave him something and said: “A carriage is coming in and I think it is bringing one of our friends. When it reaches here, do not hold it up, and do not refer the matter to the Governor.” He put out a chair for me and I sat down.

January 4, 2017

Language barrier...

In a talk about our need for an international language, given at the Esperanto Society in Edinburgh, Scotland, on January 7, 1913, ‘Abdu’l-Baha cited the following funny incident to demonstrate how language barriers could cause misunderstandings:

I recall an incident which occurred in Baghdad. There were two friends who knew not each other's language. One fell ill, the other visited him, but not being able to express his sympathy in words resorted to gesture, as if to say, "How do you feel?” - with another sign the sick replied, "I shall soon be dead;” and his visitor, believing the gesture to indicate that he was getting better, said, "God be praised!” 
(Star of the West, vo. 4, no. 2, April 9, 1913)