April 18, 2015

Bahá’u’lláh’s departure for the Garden of Ridván

The love and admiration of the people of Baghdad for Bahá'u'lláh was fully demonstrated on the day of His departure from His 'Most Great House' in Baghdad. Then His majesty and greatness were evident to both friend and foe. The news of His forthcoming departure for Constantinople had spread rapidly among the inhabitants of Baghdad and its neighbouring towns, and large numbers wished to attain His presence and pay their last tributes to Him. But soon it became apparent that His house was too small for the purpose. When Najib Pasha, one of the notables of the city of Baghdad heard of this, he immediately placed his garden-park, Najibiyyih, at the disposal of Bahá'u'lláh. This beautiful garden, designated by His followers as the Garden of Ridván (Paradise), was situated on the outskirts of Baghdad, across the river from Bahá'u'lláh's house.

Thirty-one days after Naw-Ruz, on 22 April 1863, [1] in the afternoon, Bahá'u'lláh moved to this garden, where He remained for twelve days. On the first day He declared His Mission to His companions. [2] These twelve days are celebrated by the Bahá'ís as the Festival of Ridván.

The departure of Bahá'u'lláh from His house witnessed a commotion the like of which Baghdad had rarely seen. People of all walks of life, men and women, rich and poor, young and old, men of learning and culture, princes, government officials, tradesmen and workers, and above all His companions, thronged the approaches of His house and crowded the streets and roof-tops situated along His route to the river. They were lamenting and weeping the departure of One Who, for a decade, had imparted to them the warmth of His love and the radiance of His spirit, Who had been a refuge and guide for them all.

April 5, 2015

The tragic death of Mirza Mihdi, “The Purest Branch”

A little under two years had passed since Bahá'u'lláh's confinement in the barracks, when suddenly a most tragic event occurred. It was the untimely death of Mirza Mihdi, entitled the Purest Branch, the younger brother of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, who was fatally wounded when he fell from the roof of the barracks.

In 1848, at a time when the followers of the Báb were engulfed by sufferings and persecutions, a son had been born in Tihran to Bahá'u'lláh and His illustrious wife Asiyih Khanum, entitled Navvab. He was four years younger than 'Abdu'l-Bahá and was given the name 'Mihdi', after a brother of Bahá'u'lláh who was dear to Him and had died a year before. Later the Pen of the Most High bestowed upon this son the title 'Ghusnu'llahu'l-Athar' (The Purest Branch).

Unlike 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Mirza Mihdi could not remember much of a life of luxury in Tihran, for when he was just over four years of age His father had been imprisoned in the Siyah-Chal, and all His possessions plundered and seized by the enemies of the Cause. During the four months that Bahá'u'lláh lay in that horrible dungeon, the Holy Family spent their days in anguish and fear, not knowing what would happen to Him. Often frightened and anxious, this child, tender in age and delicate by nature, found his only shelter and refuge within the arms of a loving and devoted mother. But Providence deprived him of this also. As the journey to Baghdad, undertaken in the severe cold of the winter, was laden with hardships and dangers unbearable for a child as delicate as Mirza Mihdi, he had to be left behind in Tihran in the care of relatives. For about seven years he tasted the agony and heartbreak of separation from his beloved parents.