December 20, 2018

Mírzá Músá: Bahá’u’lláh’s faithful brother, also known as Áqáy-i-Kalím – a brief account of his life by 'Abdu'l-Baha

Jináb-i-Mírzá Músá was the true brother of Bahá’u’lláh, and from earliest childhood he was reared in the sheltering embrace of the Most Great Name. He drank in the love of God with his mother’s milk; when yet a suckling, he showed an extraordinary attachment to the Blessed Beauty. At all times he was the object of Divine grace, favor and loving-kindness. After their distinguished father died, Mírzá Músá was brought up by Bahá’u’lláh, growing to maturity in the haven of His care. Day by day, the youth’s servitude and devotion increased. In all things, he lived according to the commandments, and he was entirely severed from any thoughts of this world.

Like a bright lamp, he shone out in that Household. He wished neither rank nor office, and had no worldly aims at all. His one supreme desire was to serve Bahá’u’lláh, and for this reason he was never separated from his Brother’s presence. No matter what torments the others inflicted, his loyalty equaled the cruelty of the rest, for he had drunk the wine of unadulterated love.

Then the voice was heard, crying out of Shíráz, and from a single utterance of Bahá’u’lláh’s his heart was filled with light, and from a single gust that blew over the gardens of faith, he caught the fragrance. At once, he began to serve the friends. He had an extraordinary attachment to me, and was at all times concerned for my well-being. In Tihrán he occupied himself day and night with propagating the Faith and gradually became well known to everyone; habitually he spent his time in the company of blessed souls.

December 19, 2018

Táhirih proclaims “the Day of Resurrection” – ‘Abdu’l-Baha describes the circumstances

In Badasht there was a field with a stream running through it and gardens to either side. Quddús remained concealed in one of the gardens, and Táhirih resided in the other. A tent had been pitched for Bahá’u’lláh on that field, and the other believers were also housed in tents erected on the same field. In the evenings Bahá’u’lláh, Quddús, and Táhirih would meet. Bahá’u’lláh made a solemn agreement with them that the truth of the Cause would be proclaimed at Badasht, but no specific day was designated.

Then, by chance, Bahá’u’lláh fell ill. As soon as he was informed, Quddús emerged from his concealment and entered Bahá’u’lláh’s tent. Táhirih sent a message saying: “Either bring Bahá’u’lláh to the garden where I reside or I will come myself.” Quddús said: “Bahá’u’lláh is unwell and cannot come”, which was a signal. Táhirih, seizing upon the opportunity, arose and, unveiled, came forth from the garden. She proceeded towards the tent of Bahá’u’lláh crying out and proclaiming: “I am the Trumpet-blast; I am the Bugle-call!”—which are two of the signs of the Day of Resurrection mentioned in the Qur’án. Calling out in this fashion, she entered the tent of Bahá’u’lláh. No sooner had she entered than Bahá’u’lláh instructed the believers to recite the Súrih of the Event from the Qur’án, a Súrih that describes the upheaval of the Day of Resurrection.

November 5, 2018

How one of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s translators became fluent in Arabic – without studying it

In this brief talk, Ali-Kuli Khan recalls how in early 1900 he was able to go on pilgrimage to the presence of ‘Abdu’l-Baha and become one of His translators. Though he only knew Persian, he explains how the Master bestowed upon him the ability to read and understand the Writings in Arabic so he could translate them.

October 10, 2018

Roses from ‘Abdu’l-Baha

The next morning while I [Ali Kuli Khan] was in our room with my family [in Akka, during their pilgrimage in 1906], a gentle rapping attracted me to the door. There I found 'Abdu'l-Bahá standing with a large white handkerchief full of flowers. He said, "Give these flowers to Florence Khanum [American wife of Ali Kuli Khan] and bring me back the handkerchief." This I obeyed instantly. To our joy and delight, we found the flowers to be no other than a bridal bouquet of white roses. In them I found another small bouquet. It was easy to see its significance! All can imagine our joy upon receiving that blessing! My wife burst into tears of joy; for in this lovely act of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's she found the fulfilment of a prayer she had offered for a long time. The prayer was that she might receive a rose from the hand of 'Abdu'l-Bahá. 
- Ali Kuli Khan  (Notes of pilgrimage during 1906; published in ‘1906 Pilgrim Notes of Ali Kuli Khan’)

September 18, 2018

The story of two brothers - “two most blessed souls”: their virtues are praised by ‘Abdu’l-Baha

...Among those who left their homeland were two carpenters, Ustád Báqir and Ustád Ahmad. These two were brothers, of pure lineage, and natives of Káshán. From the time when both became believers each held the other in his embrace. They harkened to the voice of God, and to His cry of “Am I not your Lord?” they replied, “Yea, verily!”

For a time they stayed on in their own country, occupied with the remembrance of God, characterized by faith and knowledge, respected by friend and stranger alike, known to all for righteousness and trustworthiness, for austerity of life and the fear of God. When the oppressor stretched forth his hands against them, and tormented them beyond endurance, they emigrated to ‘Iráq, to the sheltering care of Bahá’u’lláh. They were two most blessed souls. For some time they remained in ‘Iráq, praying in all lowliness, and supplicating God.

Then Ustád Aḥmad departed for Adrianople, while Ustád Báqir remained in ‘Iráq and was taken as a prisoner to Mosul. Ustád Ahmad went on with the party of Bahá’u’lláh to the Most Great Prison, and Ustád Báqir emigrated from Mosul to Akká. Both of the brothers were under the protection of God and free from every earthly bond. In the prison, they worked at their craft, keeping to themselves, away from friend and stranger alike. Tranquil, dignified, confident, strong in faith, sheltered by the All-Merciful, they happily spent their days. Ustád Báqir was the first to die, and some time afterward his brother followed him.

These two were firm believers, loyal, patient, at all times thankful, at all times supplicating God in lowliness, with their faces turned in His direction. During that long stay in the prison they were never neglectful of duty, never at fault. They were constantly joyful, for they had drunk deep of the holy cup; and when they soared upward, out of the world, the friends mourned over them and asked that by the grace of Bahá’u’lláh, they should be favored and forgiven. These two were embosomed in bounty, and Divinely sustained, and the Blessed Beauty was well pleased with them both; with this provision for their journey, they set out for the world to come. Upon them both be the glory of God the All-Glorious; to each be a seat of truth in the Kingdom of Splendors. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (From a talk; ‘Memorials of the Faithful’)

August 17, 2018

What happened to the regiment that executed the Báb

Aqa Jan Khan-i-Khamsih who carried out
the order for the execution of the Báb 
The circumstances pertaining to the execution of the Báb provide us with many lessons to reflect on.

As we recall, the Armenian regiment that was ordered to perform that heinous task of executing the Báb and His companion Anis by firing squad on July 9th, 1950 didn’t succeed at their mission. This was because before carrying out their order their Christian commander Sam Khan had some doubts about that assignment. To him, the Prisoner looked kind and compassionate. He wondered for what crime was He to be put to death? Unable to still the voice of his conscience, Sam Khan had approached the Báb and confessed that as a Christian he entertained no ill against Him, but that he had to carry out his assignment. He told the Báb: ‘If your Cause be the Cause of truth, enable me to free myself from the obligation to shed your blood.' To this request the Báb had told him: 'Follow your instructions, and if your intention be sincere, the Almighty is surely able to relieve you from your perplexity.'

Having received this assurance from the Báb, Sam Khan ordered his regiment of seven-hundred and fifty soldiers to carry out their duty. They positioned themselves in three rows and fired seven-hundred and fifty bullets. When the smoke of the gunpowder settled they discovered to their amazement that the two captives were completely unharmed. Their commander, Sam Khan, witnessing this miracle refused to order his soldiers to make a second attempt. Another regiment was therefore brought in. Their commander was Aqa Jan Khan-i-Khamsih. Whereas the first regiment was composed of Armenian Christians, the soldiers belonging to the second regiment were Muslims. They were known as the Nasiri regiment.

July 24, 2018

An example of how the Guardian lived frugally and simply – by Hand of the Cause Furutan

Throughout our pilgrimage [1941] we visited the Shrines of the Báb and 'Abdu'l-Baha in the company of the beloved Guardian. He would chant the Tablet of Visitation in the Shrine of the Báb and then in the Shrine of 'Abdu'l-Baha.

He always removed his half-boots outside the doors of the Shrines. One day I noticed that the right wrist of the Guardian was in a white bandage and he had difficulty in moving it. I immediately thought that I should help remove his shoes. I bent down on my knees and started to undo the knots of his bootlaces. He was just bending down, and said very quietly, "Don't go to the trouble." I said, "Beloved Guardian, this is my honor." I removed his shoes, took my handkerchief from my pocket, and cleaned them. As I was cleaning his boots I noticed that one of them had a hole in it and the other one was repaired.

I was truly saddened. I knew that the Guardian lived frugally and simply, but I had not been aware of its extent.  
- Ali-Akbar Furutan  (‘Hand of the Cause of God Furutan’, by Iran Furutan Muhajir)

July 9, 2018

July 1850: Safeguarding the sacred remains of the Báb and His companion

Moat surrounding city of Tabriz, circa 1930s
On the evening of the very day of the Báb's execution, which fell on the ninth of July 1850…, during the thirty-first year of His age and the seventh of His ministry, the mangled bodies of the Báb and His companion were transferred from the courtyard of the barracks to the edge of the moat outside the gate of the city. Four companies, each consisting of ten sentinels, were ordered to keep watch in turn over them so that none of His followers might claim them.

On the following day the Russian Consul in Tabriz visited the spot, and ordered the artist who had accompanied him to make a drawing of the remains as they lay beside the moat. Nabil, in his chronical, ‘The Dawn-Breakers’, relates the following account from a believer by the name of Hájí ‘Alí-‘Askar who saw this drawing:

“An official of the Russian consulate, to whom I was related, showed me that same sketch on the very day it was drawn. It was such a faithful portrait of the Báb that I looked upon! No bullet had struck His forehead, His cheeks, or His lips. I gazed upon a smile which seemed to be still lingering upon His countenance. His body, however, had been severely mutilated. I could recognize the arms and head of His companion, who seemed to be holding Him in his embrace. As I gazed horror-struck upon that haunting picture, and saw how those noble traits had been disfigured, my heart sank within me. I turned away my face in anguish and, regaining my house, locked myself in my room. For three days and three nights, I could neither sleep nor eat, so overwhelmed was I with emotion. That short and tumultuous life, with all its sorrows, its turmoil, its banishments, and eventually the awe-inspiring martyrdom with which it had been crowned, seemed again to be re-enacted before my eyes. I tossed upon my bed, writhing in agony and pain.”

June 27, 2018

Tabriz, July 1850: Anís accompanies the Báb in facing the firing squad

Tabriz, 19th Century
[The day before His martyrdom]: Deprived of His turban and sash, the twin emblems of His noble lineage, the Báb, together with Siyyid Ḥusayn, His amanuensis, was driven to yet another confinement which He well knew was but a step further on the way leading Him to the goal He had set Himself to attain. That day witnessed a tremendous commotion in the city of Tabríz. The great convulsion associated in the ideas of its inhabitants with the Day of Judgment seemed at last to have come upon them. Never had that city experienced a turmoil so fierce and so mysterious as the one which seized its inhabitants on the day the Báb was led to that place which was to be the scene of His martyrdom.

As He approached the courtyard of the barracks, a youth [Mírzá Muhammad-‘Alíy-i-Zunúzí, surnamed Anís, meaning “companion”] suddenly leaped forward who, in his eagerness to overtake Him, had forced his way through the crowd, utterly ignoring the risks and perils which such an attempt might involve. His face was haggard, his feet were bare, and his hair dishevelled. Breathless with excitement and exhausted with fatigue, he flung himself at the feet of the Báb and, seizing the hem of His garment, passionately implored Him: “Send me not from Thee, O Master. Wherever Thou goest, suffer me to follow Thee.”

“Muhammad-‘Alí,” answered the Báb, “arise, and rest assured that you will be with Me. To-morrow you shall witness what God has decreed.”

June 10, 2018

Karbila, circa 1841: A meeting between the Báb and His forerunner Siyyid Kazim -- its profound and long-lasting effect on a disciple of Siyyid Kazim who was also present

Karbila, circa 1930s
In the following incident Nabil gives an example of Siyyid Kazim’s efforts to prepare his disciples to gradually remove the veils of age-old erroneous understandings and superstition, to become ready to recognize their Lord, the Báb:

In those days Siyyid Kázim became increasingly aware of the approach of the Hour at which the promised One [the Báb] was to be revealed. He realised how dense were those veils that hindered the seekers from apprehending the glory of the concealed Manifestation. He accordingly exerted his utmost endeavour to remove gradually, with caution and wisdom, whatever barriers might stand in the way of the full recognition of that Hidden Treasure of God.

He repeatedly urged his disciples to bear in mind the fact that He whose advent they were expecting would appear neither from Jabúlqá nor from Jabúlsá.’ [1] He even hinted at His presence in their very midst:

“You behold Him with your own eyes,” he often observed, “and yet recognise Him not!”

To his disciples who questioned him regarding the signs of the Manifestation, he would say:

“He is of noble lineage. He is a descendant of the Prophet of God, of the family of Háshim. [2] He is young in age, and is possessed of innate knowledge. His learning is derived, not from the teachings of Shaykh Ahmad, [his master] but from God. My knowledge is but a drop compared with the immensity of His knowledge; my attainments a speck of dust in the face of the wonders of His grace and power. Nay, immeasurable is the difference. He is of medium height, abstains from smoking, and is of extreme devoutness and piety.” 

May 18, 2018

An example of ‘Abdu’l-Baha drawing from “the power of Baha’u’llah”

One day after a meeting when, as usual, many people had crowded round Him, 'Abdu'l-Bahá arrived home very tired. We were sad at heart that He should be so fatigued, and bewailed the many steps to be ascended to the flat. Suddenly, to our amazement, the Master ran up the stairs to the top very quickly without stopping.

He looked down at us as we walked up after Him, saying with a bright smile, from which all traces of fatigue had vanished:

"You are all very old! I am very young!"

Seeing me full of wonder, 'Abdu'l-Bahá said: "Through the power of Bahá'u'lláh all things can be done. I have just used that power."

That was the only time we had ever seen Him use that power for Himself, and I feel that He did so then to cheer and comfort us, as we were really sad concerning His fatigue.

Might it not also have been to show us an example of the great Reserve of Divine Force always available for those of us who are working in various ways in the "Path of the Love of God and of Mankind." A celestial strength which reinforces us when our human strength fails. 
- Lady Blomfield  (‘The Chosen Highway’)

April 10, 2018

June-July 1849: The Báb’s immeasurable sorrow when the news of the martyrdom of Mulla Husayn, the heroes of Tabarsí, and Quddus reached Him

The news of the tragic fate which had befallen the heroes of Tabarsí brought immeasurable sorrow to the heart of the Báb. Confined in His prison-castle of Chihríq, severed from the little band of His struggling disciples, He watched with keen anxiety the progress of their labours and prayed with unremitting zeal for their victory. How great was His sorrow when, in the early days of Sha’bán in the year 1265 A.H., [June 22-July 21, 1849 A.D.] He came to learn of the trials that had beset their path, of the agony they had suffered, of the betrayal to which an exasperated enemy had felt compelled to resort, and of the abominable butchery with which their career had ended.

“The Báb was heart-broken,” His amanuensis, Siyyid Ḥusayn-i-‘Azíz, subsequently related [to Nabil], “at the receipt of this unexpected intelligence. He was crushed with grief, a grief that stilled His voice and silenced His pen. For nine days He refused to meet any of His friends. I myself, though His close and constant attendant, was refused admittance. Whatever meat or drink we offered Him, He was disinclined to touch. Tears rained continually from His eyes, and expressions of anguish dropped unceasingly from His lips. I could hear Him, from behind the curtain, give vent to His feelings of sadness as He communed, in the privacy of His cell, with His Beloved. I attempted to jot down the effusions of His sorrow as they poured forth from His wounded heart. Suspecting that I was attempting to preserve the lamentations He uttered, He bade me destroy whatever I had recorded. Nothing remains of the moans and cries with which that heavy-laden heart sought to relieve itself of the pangs that had seized it. For a period of five months He languished, immersed in an ocean of despondency and sorrow.”

March 18, 2018

‘Abdu’l-Baha tells a story about an incident during His childhood

[On another day, the Master gave them a story out of His own life:]

I was a child, nine years old. In the thick of those calamities, [Baha'u'llah was confined in the Siyah-Chal] when the enemy attacked, they stoned our house and it had filled up with stones. We had nobody to help us. There was only my mother, [1] my sister, [2] and Aqa Mirza Muhammad-Quli. [3] To protect us, my mother took us away from the Shimiran Gate to the Sangilaj quarter, where in the back lanes she found a house. In that house she watched over us and forbade us ever to set foot on the street. But one day the problem of how to get food became so urgent that my mother said to me: ‘Can you go to your aunt’s house? [4] Tell her to find a few krans [5] for us, no matter how.’

Our aunt lived in the Takyih [6] of Haji Rajab-’Ali, near the house of Mirza Hasan Kajdamagh. I went there. She tried everywhere and finally managed to collect five krans, which she tied up in the corner of a handkerchief and gave me.

On my way back through the Takyih, the son of Mirza Hasan recognized me. Immediately he called out, ‘This one is a Bábí!’ and the boys ran after me. The house of Mulla Ja’far of Astarabad was not far away, and I reached it and went into the entry. The son of Mulla Ja’far saw me but he did not put me out. Neither did he rout the boys.

February 25, 2018

Táhirih’s arrest in Qazvin and subsequent release through the intervention of Baha’u’llah

Táhirih was a woman of rare accomplishment. Most Persian women were not educated, but Táhirih's father had recognized early on that his young daughter was gifted with an especially keen mind. He loved her dearly and educated her the same way he educated his sons. Táhirih had grown into a woman as famous for her intelligence as for her beauty -- more than equal to any man in her knowledge of religion and in her ability to present strong, clear arguments. She possessed other talents as well. In a land where people had, for centuries, turned to their poets as often as their prophets for inspiration, Tahirih was known for the exquisite poetry she wrote. Her father, highly regarded among Persia's religious leaders, had taught his daughter well.

Still, she was a woman in a Muslim society. When men gathered in her father's house for religious discussion, Táhirih had to speak from behind a curtain, for women were not permitted to be in the company of men who were not members of their immediate family. She could never expect to be a spiritual leader, no matter how great her knowledge and skill. Some mullas even argued that women did not possess souls and ranked little higher than animals. How could they possibly understand religion?

"Would that she had been a boy," said her father, "for he would have shed illumination upon my household, and would have succeeded me."

Táhirih's marriage had been arranged according to the customs of the day, and she became mother to a daughter and two sons.

One day in the library of her cousin's house, she had happened upon the writings of Shaykh Ahmad, which captured her interest and led her into correspondence with Siyyid Kazim. Determined to study with him, Táhirih had traveled to Karbala, but ten days before her arrival Siyyid Kazim died.

February 1, 2018

‘Abdu’l-Baha recalls an example of Baha’u’llah’s majesty and power while officially still a prisoner

One day the government leaders, pillars of the country, the city’s ‘ulamás, leading mystics and intellectuals came out to the Mansion. The Blessed Beauty paid them no attention whatever. They were not admitted to His presence, nor did He inquire after any of them. I sat down with them and kept them company for some hours, after which they returned whence they had come. Although the royal farmán specifically decreed that Bahá’u’lláh was to be held in solitary confinement within the Akká fortress, in a cell, under perpetual guard; that He was never to set foot outside; that He was never even to see any of the believers—notwithstanding such a farmán, such a drastic order, His tent was raised in majesty on the heights of Mount Carmel. What greater display of power could there be than this, that from the very prison, the banner of the Lord was raised aloft, and rippled out for all the world to see! Praised be the Possessor of such majesty and might; praised be He, weaponed with the power and the glory; praised be He, Who defeated His foes when He lay captive in the Akká prison! 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (From a talk; ‘Memorials of the Faithful’)

January 18, 2018

circa 1850: Nabil, the author of Dawn-Breakers, took ‘Abdu’l-Baha to school one day

One day Mírzá Ahmad conducted me [Nabil, he was then about 19 years old] to the house of Bahá’u’lláh, whose wife, the Varaqatu’l-’Ulya, [the Most Exalted Leaf] the mother of the Most Great Branch, had already healed my eyes with an ointment which she herself had prepared and sent to me by…Mírzá Ahmad.

The first one I met in that house was that same beloved Son of hers, who was then a child of six. He smiled His welcome to me as He was standing at the door of the room which Bahá’u’lláh occupied. I passed that door, and was ushered into the presence of Mírzá Yahyá, [Baha’u’llah’s half-brother] utterly unaware of the station of the Occupant [Baha’u’llah] of the room I had left behind me….

On another occasion, when I visited that same house, I on the point of entering the room that Mírzá Yahyá occupied, when Áqáy-i-Kalím, [Baha’u’llah’s faithful brother] whom I had previously met, approached and requested me, since Isfandíyár, their servant, had gone to market and had not yet returned, to conduct “Áqá” [‘Abdu’l-Baha] to the Madrisiy-i-Mírzá-Sálih [school] in his stead and then return to this place. I gladly consented, and as I was preparing to leave, I saw the Most Great Branch, a child of exquisite beauty, wearing the kuláh [hat]  and cloaked in the jubbiy-i-hizari’í, [A kind of overcoat] emerge from the room which His Father occupied, and descend the steps leading to the gate of the house. I advanced and stretched forth my arms to carry Him. “We shall walk together,” He said, as He took hold of my hand and led me out of the house.

We chatted together as we walked hand in hand in the direction of the madrisih [school] known in those days by the name of Pa-Minar. As we reached His classroom, He turned to me and said: “Come again this afternoon and take me back to my home, for Isfandíyár is unable to fetch me. My Father will need him to-day.” I gladly acquiesced, and returned immediately to the house of Bahá’u’lláh…

I… returned to the madrisih in time to conduct the Most Great Branch to His home. 
- Nabil  (‘The Dawn-Breakers’, translated and edited by Shoghi Effendi)

January 10, 2018

Quddús’ amazing ability to pen copious writings – their recital and tributes by Mulla Husayn provided daily spiritual food at Fort Tabarsi

We know from the Baha’i Writings that Quddus, in addition to being the last Letter of the Living and the chosen companion of the Báb during His pilgrimage to Mecca, has a high station. The Guardian elucidates on it in ‘God Passes By’:

“Quddús, immortalized by Him [the Báb] as Ismu'llahi'l-Akhir (the Last Name of God); on whom Bahá'u'lláh's Tablet of Kullu't-Ta'am later conferred the sublime appellation of Nuqtiy-i-Ukhra (the Last Point); whom He elevated, in another Tablet, to a rank second to none except that of the Herald of His Revelation; whom He identifies, in still another Tablet, with one of the ‘Messengers charged with imposture’ mentioned in the Qur'án; whom the Persian Bayan extolled as that fellow-pilgrim round whom mirrors to the number of eight Vahids revolve; on whose ‘detachment and the sincerity of whose devotion to God's will God prideth Himself amidst the Concourse on high;’ whom 'Abdu'l-Bahá designated as the ‘Moon of Guidance;’ and whose appearance the Revelation of St. John the Divine anticipated as one of the two ‘Witnesses’ into whom, ere the ‘second woe is past,’ the ‘spirit of life from God’ must enter” (Shoghi Effendi, 'God Passes By')

Here is an example of Qúddus’ amazing keenness of understanding concerning the manifold meanings of the Word of God: 

Following the conference of Badasht, Quddús was en route to his home town when he fell into the hands of his opponents and placed under house arrest.

Nabil, the great Baha’i chronicler, explains that while Quddus was in confinement in the home of a leading clergy of the town of Sari, Mírzá Muhammad-Taqí, the latter asked Quddús “to write a commentary on the Súrih of Ikhlas, better known as the Súrih of Qul Huva’lláhu’l-Ahad” (Nabil, ‘The Dawn-Breakers’, translated and edited by Shoghi Effendi).