November 5, 2020

An example of the Báb’s honesty and fairness in business dealings while in Búshihr

A certain man confided to His [the Báb’s] care a trust, requesting Him to dispose of it at a fixed price. When the Báb sent him the value of that article, the man found that the sum which he had been offered considerably exceeded the limit which he had fixed. He immediately wrote to the Báb, requesting Him to explain the reason. The Báb replied: ‘What I have sent you is entirely your due. There is not a single farthing in excess of what is your right. There was a time when the trust you had delivered to Me had attained this value. Failing to sell it at that price, I now feel it My duty to offer you the whole of that sum.’ However much the Báb’s client entreated Him to receive back the sum in excess, the Báb persisted in refusing.

- Hájí Siyyid Javád-i-Karbilá’í  (Quoted by Nabil, ‘The Dawn-Breakers’, translated and edited by Shoghi Effendi)

September 3, 2020

An example of the operation of the Will of God

One day, when the Báb had dismounted close to a well [on His way to Mecca] in order to offer His morning prayer, a roving Bedouin suddenly appeared on the horizon, drew near to Him, and, snatching the saddlebag that had been lying on the ground beside Him, and which contained His writings and papers, vanished into the unknown desert. His Ethiopian servant set out to pursue him, but was prevented by his Master, who, as He was praying, motioned to him with His hand to give up his pursuit. “Had I allowed you,” the Báb later on affectionately assured him, “you would surely have overtaken and punished him. But this was not to be. The papers and writings which that bag contained are destined to reach, through the instrumentality of this Arab, such places as we could never have succeeded in attaining. Grieve not, therefore, at his action, for this was decreed by God, the Ordainer, the Almighty.” Many a time afterwards did the Báb on similar occasions seek to comfort His friends by such reflections. By words such as these He turned the bitterness of regret and of resentment into radiant acquiescence in the Divine purpose and into joyous submission to God’s will. 

- Nabil  (‘The Dawn-Breakers’, translated and edited by Shoghi Effendi)

July 10, 2020

The story of ‘Abdu’l-Baha – Part 1: 1844-1908

The life of 'Abdu'l-Baha is very significant among the lives of the past heavenly educators. If we study the history of the former manifestations of God we realize that the first portion of their lives has been free from anxiety and persecution, while the life of 'Abdu'l-Baha from the day of His birth has been one of vicissitude, trial and painful ordeals.  

Moreover, the enemies and foes of ‘Abdu'l-Baha, never ceased to plan and scheme to persecute and bring about his exile and banishment, and to annihilate His Revelation. And these people had more general power than the enemies of the former prophets.  

One of the Divine Allegorical incidents was that 'Abdu'l-Baha was born in Teheran the same night upon which the Báb proclaimed His Mission in Shiraz - that is, May 23rd, 1844. Baha'u'llah gave the name of His father to 'Abdu'l-Baha. This name was Abbas but He always called Him Master – “Aqa” - even when He was a little child.   

The first few years of the life of 'Abdu'l-Baha were spent amid the most tragic and dramatic events of the life of Baha'u'llah. He was the center of the movement, every tragic event revolved around Him and His home was the rendezvous of all the Baha'is. All the news and all that transpired in the Cause was brought to Him. His home was well known as the headquarters of the Movement and often groups of rowdies would throw stones and try to hurt the inmates. When 'Abdu'l-Baha was a little child groups of urchins would surround Him and try to stone Him. Even at the early age of eight or nine years 'Abdu'l-Baha had already witnessed the plotting of the enemies and had seen the friends martyred and guillotined. Up to this age He had seen many headstones of heroes and heroines who had gone to their death with radiant acquiescence.  

Most of the time Baha’u’llah was absent from home traveling in the interest of the Cause, and visiting the friends in prison. His property was confiscated and both day and night His household was in danger, so there was no opportunity for 'Abdu'l-Baha to go to school and learn the things which other children have to learn.

May 18, 2020

‘Abdu’l-Baha’s surprising response to two believers trying to identify the most acceptable form of martyrdom – recalled by one of His secretaries

Some thirty years ago when 'Abdu'l-Baha was surrounded by His bitter enemies; when they were instigating the Turkish Government to illtreat Him; when in His confined place of 'Akka He had a very small group of true and faithful Baha'is, 'Abdu'l-Baha always expressed great joy and happiness at the thought of being martyred like unto Jesus Christ and His disciples, and like unto thousands of faithful followers of the blessed Báb and Baha'u'llah.

In those days the doors were opened wide for the Oriental friends to enter heaven.[1] All the true believers prayed to God and yearned to be accepted for martyrdom. One day one of the pilgrims and I were discussing the best way of being admitted to sacrifice. My friend, M. Fazlullah, said that he preferred to be killed by Shamajeen like Suleiman Khan, who danced with joy during that terrible torture. (Shamajeen means decorated, grafted with candles.)

This is the way that Suleiman Khan was martyred. His body was cut through in several places and burning candles were planted in the wounds. In such a horrible state he was driven for several hours throughout the city to show the people the fate of a distinguished and honorable man converted to the new Faith. This was the way that the government, instigated by the clergy, punished the believers, in order to terrify those who desired to know about the new religion.

Now my friend, M. Fazlullah, preferred this way of being sacrificed in the Path of Baha'u'llah. But I did not choose this way. I preferred to be put to death by cannon shot, for that was the best way of propagating throughout the world the call to steadfastness. Several prominent people have been martyred in that way. This was the way that I had chosen, and I implored God to help me to attain to it. But I could not convince my friend that mine was the best way. He stuck obstinately to his own way. The discussion lasted a long time without being able to convince each other.

April 12, 2020

‘Abdu’l-Baha lived in the morgue of the barracks in Akka for two years

North-west building of prison complex
Akka 1922
The dear friends in this city [Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, May 7, 1912] engaged an apartment on the seventh floor of the Schenley Hotel and were exceedingly happy about it, because it looked like that of the Plaza Hotel in Chicago. Then during their private interviews, the friends, one by one asked the same question: "Master! how do you like these rooms?" His reply to all was also the same, "Khaili Khoob! Khaili Khoob!"meaning "Very good! Very good!"

When all had left His presence happy and pleased, He turned His smiling face toward this servant [Dr. Zia Baghdadi] and exclaimed:

"The friends here are anxious to know if I like these rooms! They do not know what we had to go through in the past. Imagine the conditions and surroundings when we were exiled by the Turkish Government and were imprisoned in the barracks of 'Akka; Baha'u'llah occupied one room; His family and several other families were forced to occupy one room.

"Aside from the severe illness that was raging, and the death of many among us prisoners - adults and children - on account of unsanitary surroundings and starvation, I noticed that my own presence in that crowded room was another source of torture to all of them. This was due to the fact that parents and children were suppressing and restraining themselves by trying to be quiet and polite in my presence.

"So, in order to give them freedom, I accepted the morgue of the barracks, because that was the only room available, and I lived in it for about two years. Now the kind friends here wish to know if I like these magnificent rooms!" 

(Star of the West [The Baha’i Magazine], vol. 19, no. 5, August 1928)

March 12, 2020

1969: The story of Saskatoon…

Saskatoon, circa 2020
For some time now the believers across the country [Canada] have heard the name “Saskatoon” appearing with increasing frequency. We hear of something like 70-80 declarations, almost all of them youth, in less than two years, of no “generation gap”, of new approaches and exciting happenings. Anyone who visits the Saskatoon community cannot help but feel that something momentous has taken place and is taking place there.

What is the Saskatoon story?

For a year or so, it has been suggested that the News tell the story of Saskatoon. Urgent pleas have gone out for an "on the spot” account, but to no avail. Finally a wandering member of the Editorial Board [of Canadian Baha’i News magazine] spent a delightful summer evening on the spacious grounds of the Rogers [Don and Barbara] family just outside Saskatoon at a Race Amity Youth Rally. Amid the ebbing and flowing of youth of all ages, she managed to extract from Assembly members some of the history. The difficulty of putting it into words soon became apparent. The growth of the community has demanded all the energy and attention of the Assembly. Furthermore, it seems almost impossible to describe adequately both the spiritual forces that are so obviously present, and the feeling that is Saskatoon.

For, more than anything else, it seems to this observer, Saskatoon is a feeling, a feeling of community — not just any community, but a community of purpose — the community of Baha’u’llah. One feels that here is a dynamic community made up almost entirely of believers under thirty years of age, a community in which everyone, no matter how conformist or non-conformist he or she may appear to be, has a sense of belonging and acceptance. As it becomes increasingly clear that today’s youth is crying out for the experience of community, one to really believe in, Saskatoon takes on even greater significance.

February 20, 2020

How Baha’u’llah managed to evade Prime Minister’s persistent attempts to take possession of one of His properties through fraudulent means and evil designs

One day, as he [Hájí Mírzá Aqásí, the Grand Vazír of Muhammad Sháh] was passing through the village of Quch-Hisar, which belonged to Bahá’u’lláh, he was so impressed by the charm and beauty of that place and the abundance of its water that he conceived the idea of becoming its owner. Bahá’u’lláh, whom he had summoned to effect the immediate purchase of that village, observed:

“Had this property been exclusively mine own, I would willingly have complied with your desire. This transitory life, with all its sordid possessions, is worthy of no attachment in my eyes, how much less this small and insignificant estate. As a number of other people, both rich and poor, some of full age and some still minors, share with me the ownership of this property, I would request you to refer this matter to them, and to seek their consent.” Unsatisfied with this reply, Hájí Mírzá Aqásí sought, through fraudulent means, to achieve his purpose.

So soon as Bahá’u’lláh was informed of his evil designs, He, with the consent of all concerned, immediately transferred the title of the property to the name of the sister of Muhammad Sháh, who had already repeatedly expressed her desire to become its owner.

The Hájí, furious at this transaction, ordered that the estate should be forcibly seized, claiming that he already had purchased it from its original possessor. The representatives of Hájí Mírzá Aqásí were severely rebuked by the agents of the sister of the Sháh, and were requested to inform their master of the determination of that lady to assert her rights. The Hájí referred the case to Muhammad Sháh, and complained of the unjust treatment to which he had been subjected.

That very night, the Sháh’s sister had acquainted him with the nature of the transaction. “Many a time,” she said to her brother, “your Imperial Majesty has graciously signified your desire that I should dispose of the jewels with which I am wont to adorn myself in your presence, and with the proceeds purchase some property. I have at last succeeded in fulfilling your desire. Hájí Mírzá Aqásí, however, is now fully determined to seize it forcibly from me.” The Sháh reassured his sister, and commanded the Hájí to forgo his claim. The latter, in his despair, summoned Bahá’u’lláh to his presence and, by every artifice, strove to discredit His name.

January 8, 2020

Bahá’u’lláh’s father’s dream about Him when He was a child and the soothsayer’s amazing interpretation and prediction

When Bahá’u’lláh was still a child, the Vazír, His father, dreamed a dream. Bahá’u’lláh appeared to him swimming in a vast, limitless ocean. His body shone upon the waters with a radiance that illumined the sea. Around His head, which could distinctly be seen above the waters, there radiated, in all directions, His long, jet-black locks, floating in great profusion above the waves. As he dreamed, a multitude of fishes gathered round Him, each holding fast to the extremity of one hair. Fascinated by the effulgence of His face, they followed Him in whatever direction He swam. Great as was their number, and however firmly they clung to His locks, not one single hair seemed to have been detached from His head, nor did the least injury affect His person. Free and unrestrained, He moved above the waters and they all followed Him.

The Vazír, greatly impressed by this dream, summoned a soothsayer, who had achieved fame in that region, and asked him to interpret it for him. This man, as if inspired by a premonition of the future glory of Bahá’u’lláh, declared: “The limitless ocean that you have seen in your dream, O Vazír, is none other than the world of being. Single-handed and alone, your son will achieve supreme ascendancy over it. Wherever He may please, He will proceed unhindered. No one will resist His march, no one will hinder His progress. The multitude of fishes signifies the turmoil which He will arouse amidst the peoples and kindreds of the earth. Around Him will they gather, and to Him will they cling. Assured of the unfailing protection of the Almighty, this tumult will never harm His person, nor will His loneliness upon the sea of life endanger His safety.”

That soothsayer was subsequently taken to see Bahá’u’lláh. He looked intently upon His face, and examined carefully His features. He was charmed by His appearance, and extolled every trait of His countenance. Every expression in that face revealed to his eyes a sign of His concealed glory. So great was his admiration, and so profuse his praise of Bahá’u’lláh, that the Vazír, from that day, became even more passionately devoted to his son. The words spoken by that soothsayer served to fortify his hopes and confidence in Him. Like Jacob, he desired only to ensure the welfare of his beloved Joseph, and to surround Him with his loving protection. 
- Nabil  ('The Dawn-Breakers, translated and edited by Shoghi Effendi)