May 31, 2012

What shall I do to please God? – a story by ‘Abdu’l-Baha quoted by Juliet Thompson

“There was once a disciple of Muhammad who asked of another disciple, ‘What shall I do to please God?’ And the other disciple replied: ‘Do not kill. Do not steal. Do not covet,’ etc., etc., etc. A great many ‘do nots.’" the Master laughed. "He asked still another, ‘What shall I do to become nearer to God?’ And this one said: ‘You must supplicate and pray. You must be generous. You must be courageous,’ etc., etc., etc. Then the disciple went to ‘Alí [the first Muslim Imam]. ‘What do you say I should do in order to please God and to become nearer to Him?’ ‘One thing only: be truthful.’”

“For,” continued the Master, “if you are truthful, you cannot commit murder. You would have to confess it! Neither can you steal. You would have to confess it. So, if one is truthful, he possesses all the virtues.” (The Diary of Juliet Thompson, pp. 332-333)

May 21, 2012

American believers made a cake for ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s 68th birthday

While the Master was in Boston, the Bahá'ís arranged a magnificent feast to commemorate the Declaration of the Bab as well as the birthday of ‘Abdu’l-Baha on May 23rd. They were in a state of utmost happiness and joy to have ‘Abdu’l-Baha in their midst for these two significant occasions to be held at the home of Mrs. Alice Breed.

Earlier that day the Master had gone to the town of Worcester, located about 50 miles from Boston. There He spoke to more than one thousand university students, faculty and others. Upon returning to Boston in the automobile especially provided for Him by the chancellor, the Master went directly to the home of Mrs. Alice Breed to join the friends in their commemoration of the Declaration of the Báb.

When ‘Abdu'l-Bahá arrived, He rested for awhile and then joined the gathering of the friends, illuminating the meeting with His presence. With joyful and shining faces, all eyes were directed towards the Master. The freshness and verdure of that gathering was like a flower garden and was proof that the Tree of the Cause of God has been firmly rooted in American soil and that it has produced leaves and blossoms of the utmost beauty.

The Master spoke briefly about the greenery of the surrounding countryside, the magnificence of the city of Boston, as well as the university. He then gave an account of the life of the Báb that gladdened the hearts and cheered the souls.

While tea, drinks and sweets were being served in another room Mrs. Breed brought before the Master a birthday cake with 68 candles, representing His age. At her request, He lit the first candle and then each of the friends in turn lit a candle, each person like a moth burning with the fire of love. When the cake was cut, each guest took a slice as a sacred relic.

Mrs. Breed, indeed, lit the candle of servitude and steadfastness that evening and, in doing so, became the recipient of bounty from ‘Abdu'l-Bahá's presence. (Adapted from Mahmud’s Diary)

May 10, 2012

An example of how the Guardian was impelled by forces which so mysteriously animated all his decisions -- a trip to England during the Second World War: Recalled by Ruhiyyih Khanum

At the time my father was invited by the Guardian to come and live with us in the Holy Land, after my mother's unexpected death in Argentina in March 1940, Shoghi Effendi decided, for reasons of his own, to go to England. For those who were not in the Middle East-European theatre of war, it is almost impossible to convey any picture of the infinite difficulties involved in such a move at such a moment in history. In spite of the prestige and influence of the Guardian, the fact remained that no visa for England could be granted by the authorities in Palestine and our application was therefore forwarded to London. Shoghi Effendi appealed to his old friend Lord Lamington and requested him to use his good offices in ensuring a visa was granted, but by the time it became imperative for us to leave at once for England if we were ever to reach there, no answer had yet been received by the Palestine authorities and Lord Lamington's reply was long delayed in reaching us.

Impelled by the forces which so mysteriously animated all his decisions, the Guardian decided to proceed to Italy, for which country we had obtained a visa. We left Haifa on 15 May in a small and smelly Italian aquaplane, with the water sloshing around under the boards our feet rested on as if we were in an old row-boat. A few days later we arrived in Rome and I went to Genoa to meet my father who arrived on the last sailing the S.S. Rex ever made as a passenger ship. As soon as we returned, the Guardian sent my father and me to the British Consul to inquire if our visa had by any chance been transferred from Palestine. But there was no news and the Consul said he was absolutely powerless to give us a visa as all authorizations had to come from London and he was no longer in a position to contact his government! We returned with this heart-breaking news to the Guardian.

May 1, 2012

Corinne True with ‘Abdu’l-Baha at Chicago Temple Site Dedication

The day after Davis's[Corinne True’s son] death Corinne was present at the Temple site at the corner of Linden Avenue and Sheridan Road in Wilmette. Being there was difficult. Her last son - gone. Would the human tragedy that seemed to stalk her ever cease, she wondered. But Corinne had to be there forthe dedication ceremony, not because of its historical significance, but because ‘Abdu'l-Baha was coming. It was a cool, cloudy and windy day, not the kind of day one expects on the first day of May. Nearly 400 people were waiting for ‘Abdu'l-Baha's arrival. He was to dedicate the Temple site in the tent behind the crowd. Some in attendance were surprised to see Corinne, for Davis had died the previous day. It simply wasn't customary to do something like that. But those who knew Corinne well weren't surprised. Certainly the Master wasn't. When His taxi drove up, a Persian stepped out of the vehicle, asking for Mrs. True. In a few minutes she appeared and was ushered into the car, the guest of her Beloved. The car didn't go far, only to the bridge on Sheridan Road that spans the canal bordering the Baha'i property. Why the Master singled her out isn't officially known. Was it because He wanted to see the new bridge and canal locks at the end of Wilmette harbor? Or to inspect the Temple site's boundaries? He didn't need Corinne with Him to do that. Surely it was an act of compassion considering her loss of Davis the previous day. But was it more than that? Was it also a demonstration of faith in Corinne True, directed at those who questioned, even openly criticized, her ability to work on the Temple project? Though the trees on the site prevented the crowd from seeing what was happening on the bridge, a group of children playing behind the gathering spotted ‘Abdu'l-Baha and Corinne walking toward the back entrance of the tent. He greeted them warmly, gently patting all of them.