January 29, 2010

Sutherland Maxwell’s conversation with Abdu’l-Baha about God

In 1909, May and Sutherland Maxwell made a pilgrimage together to the Prison City of 'Akka, to visit 'Abdu'l-Baha. Sutherland was not yet a convinced Baha’i. One day at table, he said to 'Abdu'l-Baha: "The Christians worship God through Christ; my wife worships God through You; but I worship Him direct." 'Abdu'l-Baha smiled and said: "Where is He?" "Why, God is everywhere," replied Sutherland. "Everywhere is nowhere," said 'Abdu'l-Baha. He then went on to demonstrate that such worship was worship of a figment of the imagination and had no reality; we must worship God through something tangible and real to us, hence the role of the Manifestations. Sutherland bowed his head in acceptance. The real seed of his faith germinated from that hour… 
(The Baha’i World 1950-1954)

January 28, 2010

Shoghi Effendi – News of the birth of Abdu’l-Baha’s first grandson and His successor

Since 'Abdu’l-Baha didn’t have any surviving sons so apparently when the news of His first grandson being born reached the West “a believer in America had written to Him that in the Bible is mentioned that after 'Abdu'l-Bahá ‘a little child shall lead them’ (Isaiah 11:6) and does this mean a real, live child who exists?” (Ruhiyyih Khanum, The Priceless Pearl, p. 1) This question was answered by the Master in the following Tablet that was sent to this believer:

O Maidservant of God!

Verily, that child is born and is alive and from him will appear wondrous things that thou wilt hear of in the future. Thou shalt behold him endowed with the most perfect appearance, supreme capacity, absolute perfection, consummate power and unsurpassed might. His face will shine with a radiance that illumines all the horizons of the world; therefore forget this not as long as thou dost live inasmuch as ages and centuries will bear traces of him. Upon thee be greetings and praise. Abdu'l-Bahá Abbas” (Ruhiyyih Khanum, The Priceless Pearl, p. 1)

Since “there was practically no contact between the Bahá'ís of the West and East in those days and Tablets were circulated among the American friends by copy or word of mouth” (ibid, p. 1), the existence of such an important Tablet was not known to the believers in the East. It should also be noted that, as Ruhiyyih Khanum explains: “Many years before His passing, in answer to a question from some Persian believers as to whether there would be one person to whom all should turn after His death, 'Abdu'l-Bahá had written:

January 25, 2010

The Shah sent his special envoy to meet with the Bab and investigate the truth of His claims

Before long, news about the young man Who called Himself the Bab --"the Gate” -- traveled as far as the court of Persia's ruler, Muhammad Shah. The fact that so many of his people were drawn to the Cause of the Bab made the shah both curious and concerned. He decided he must find out more about the Bab and His claims. To investigate on his behalf, he called on the one man acknowledged throughout the land as the most brilliant of religious scholars. At whatever gathering he spoke, no matter how learned the participants, all others would choose to sit in respectful silence and listen to him. Knowledgeable and wise beyond all others, he was also a man of integrity, truthful and trustworthy. His name was Siyyid Yahya, but he would become known as Vahid, meaning "the Peerless One."

The shah commanded Vahid to meet with the Bab in Shiraz and there investigate the truth of His claims, then return to Tehran and report his findings. Vahid was pleased to obey. He, too, had heard of the Bab and His Cause and wished to satisfy his own desire for more information. On the journey from Tehran to Shiraz, he thought of the many questions with which he would test the Bab. Vahid did not plan to make the interview easy, but thorough and demanding. The truth deserved no less. Little did the brilliant Vahid know that nothing in his previous experience had prepared him for what lay ahead.

January 20, 2010

Story of Haji Abdu’llah and His conversation with ‘Abdu’l-Baha

Haji Abdu’llah is a Baha’i of eighty years of age. He has lived fifty years in Egypt and has ever been a devoted Baha’i; and a sincere believer. He is dressed in Eastern robes and has a long gray beard. Although advanced in age, he is vigorous and in good health. He has seen Egypt become most prosperous through the opening of the Suez Canal. He lives in one of the small towns in the interior of the country and having heard about the arrival of the Master has come to see him. Today he received permission to return to his work. He had a conversation with ‘Abdul Baha.

‘Abdu’l-Baha asked him how old he was. He said he was over eighty years old.

Well! He had lived a good long life and now he looked younger than ‘Abdu’l-Baha!

It was through the Favor of Baha’u’llah, voiced the old veteran.

It was true! ‘Abdu’l-Baha told him, and wished to know whether he desired to live much longer.

Haji Abdu’llah gave an affirmative answer.

‘Abdu’l-Baha was surprised. What? Was this life so sweet to the old man's taste for him to long for an extension of it? Why was this? As to ‘Abdu’l-Baha he was ready to leave this ephemeral world. It contained no attraction for him. ‘Abdu’l-Baha likened himself to a man who has heard that he must travel twenty days before reaching his destination. Having traveled already fifteen days, he is eager to hasten his trip and arrive at his goal. He is anticipating the eternal union with the Beloved at the end of his journey; therefore he is impatient!

The old man was deeply moved and spoke in a tremulous voice. He did not want to live for himself. Looking back at the map of his life, he saw many barren years stretching before his eyes, for he had not been confirmed in the service of the Cause. Therefore he desired to do something. He was hoping against hope that he might yet be enabled to render a great service to the Cause. He knew that he was very old, but his hope was young, and his eyes were filled with tears.
(Related by Mirza Ahmad Sohrab, one of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s secretaries, ‘Abdu’l-Baha in Egypt)

January 18, 2010

The amazing way in which Shoghi Effendi wrote God Passes By - The touching history of the first century of the Cause

The method of Shoghi Effendi in writing God Passes By was to sit down for a year and read every book of the Bahá'í Writings in Persian and English, and every book written about the Faith by Bahá'ís, whether in manuscript form or published, and everything written by non-Bahá'ís that contained significant references to it. I think, in all, this must have covered the equivalent of at least two hundred books. As he read he made notes and compiled and marshalled his facts. Anyone who has ever tackled a work of an historical nature knows how much research is involved, how often one has to decided, in the light of relevant material, between this date given in one place and that date given in another, how back-breaking the whole work is. How much more so then was such a work for the Guardian who had, at the same time, to prepare for the forthcoming Centenary of the Faith and make decisions regarding the design of the superstructure of the Báb's Shrine. When all the ingredients of his book had been assembled Shoghi Effendi commenced weaving them into the fabric of his picture of the significance of the first century of the Bahá'í Dispensation. It was not his purpose, he said, to write a detailed history of those hundred years, but rather to review the salient features of the birth and rise of the Faith, the establishment of its administrative institutions, and the series of crises which had propelled it forward in a mysterious manner, through the release of the Divine power within it, from victory to victory. He revealed to us the panorama of events which, he wrote, "the revolution of a hundred years...has unrolled before our eyes" and lifted the curtain on the opening acts of what he asserted was one "indivisible, stupendous and sublime drama, whose mystery no intellect can fathom, whose climax no eye can even dimly perceive, whose conclusion no mind can adequately foreshadow."

January 15, 2010

A Story by 'Abdu'l-Baha concerning a finite mind attempting to explain the reality of Manifestation of God

It is said that once John of Chrysostom* was walking along the seashore thinking over the question of the trinity and trying to reconcile it with finite reason; his attention was attracted to a boy sitting on the shore putting water into a cup. Approaching him, he said, "My child, what art thou doing?" "I am trying to put the sea into this cup," was the answer. "How foolish art thou," said John, "in trying to do the impossible." The child replied, "Thy work is stranger than mine, for thou art laboring to bring within the grasp of human intellect the conception of the trinity." (Abdu’l-Baha, Divine Philosophy, p. 152)
[*] c. 347-407. The Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches honor him as a saint and count him among the Three Holy Hierarchs, together with Saints Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzus. He is recognized by the Eastern Orthodox Church and Roman Catholic Church as a saint and Doctor of the Church. Churches of the Western tradition, including the Roman Catholic Church, some Anglican provinces, and parts of the Lutheran Church, commemorate him on 13 September. Some Lutheran and many Anglican provinces commemorate him on the traditional Eastern feast day of 27 January.(Wikipedia on-line encyclopedia)

January 13, 2010

One of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s secretaries describes the Master’s recollection of time in the prison of Akka

'Abdul Baha spoke on happiness, saying that the soul of man must be happy, no matter where he is. He must attain to that condition of inward beatitude and peace, where outward circumstances can not alter his spiritual calm and joyousness. No one can imagine a worse place than the barracks of Acca. The climate was bad, the water no better, the surroundings filthy and dirty, and the deportment of the officials unbearable, while he and his family were looked upon as enemies of religion and destroyers of morals. The Government had given orders that no one should address them during their stay in Acca and that they should not be allowed to converse with each other.

Upon their arrival, the officials found that there were not enough rooms in the barracks to imprison them separately, so all were put into two bare rooms. The court had a most gloomy aspect. It contained three or four fig trees, in the branches of which several ominous owls screeched all night. Everyone became ill and there were neither provisions nor medicines.

January 9, 2010

An example of Christ's sin-covering eye

One must see in every human being only that which is worthy of praise. When this is done, one can be a friend to the whole human race. If, however, we look at people from the standpoint of their faults, then being a friend to them is a formidable task.

It happened one day in the time of Christ—may the life of the world be a sacrifice unto Him—that He passed by the dead body of a dog, a carcass reeking, hideous, the limbs rotting away. One of those present said: ‘How foul its stench!’ And another said: ‘How sickening! How loathsome!’ To be brief, each one of them had something to add to the list.

But then Christ Himself spoke, and He told them: ‘Look at that dog’s teeth! How gleaming white!’

The Messiah’s sin-covering gaze did not for a moment dwell upon the repulsiveness of that carrion. The one element of that dead dog’s carcass which was not abomination was the teeth: and Jesus looked upon their brightness.
(‘Abdu'l-Baha, 'Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Baha')

January 5, 2010

The story of how the Bab’s wife, Khadijih Bagum, became a believer

About a year after Ahmad's [the Bab’s son] birth and death, on the night of 22 May 1844, Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad declared to Mulla Husayn in the upper chamber of His house in Shiraz that He was the promised Qa’im. Khadijih Bagum's response to the Bab's claim is recorded in The Dawn-Breakers:

"The wife of the Bab . . . perceived at the earliest dawn of His Revelation the glory and uniqueness of His Mission and felt from the very beginning the intensity of its force." (The Dawn-Breakers, p. 191)

Through her close association with the Bab and her observation of every aspect of His life, Khadijih Bagum, long before His declaration to Mulla Husayn, had discovered her husband's extraordinary spiritual endowments. However she was unaware of the claim He was to make and the nature of His mission until she experienced something unique which confirmed her belief in Him. (Leaves of the Twin Divine Trees, p. 33)

In His historical manuscript, her great nephew, Haji Mirza Habibu’llah Afnan has recorded the following account which was related by the wife of the Bab, Khadijih Bagum: