November 30, 2009

‘Abdu’l-Baha knew the time of His passing

We have now come to realize that the Master, (i.e., ‘Abdu’l-Baha) knew the day and hour when, His mission on earth being finished, He would return to the shelter of heaven. He was, however, careful that His family should not have any premonition of the coming sorrow. It seemed as though their eyes were veiled by Him, with His ever-loving consideration for His dear ones, that they should not see the significance of certain dreams and other signs of the culminating event. This they now realize was His thought for them, in order that their strength be preserved to face the great ordeal when it should arrive, that they should not be devitalized by anguish of mind in its anticipation.

Out of the many signs of the approach of the hour when He could say of His work on earth, "It is finished,” the following two dreams seem remarkable.

November 20, 2009

Being in the presence of ‘Abdu’l-Baha – a pilgrim’s perspective

Dr Youness Afroukhteh, who was honored by the Master as the “Jinab-i-Khan”, served as ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s secretary, translator, envoy and physician between 1900 -1909. He has left the following account concerning the first time he entered the presence of ‘Abdu’l-Baha as a pilgrim:

About two hours after sunset, the pilgrims from Iran and Baghdad were taken individually into the presence of ‘Abdu’l-Baha. I was the second to be summoned. With a burst of excitement and speed I entered the room, and found myself before the blessed person of ‘Abdu’l-Baha. As I fell to my knees and placed my brow at His feet, my pent-up tears of joy and longing were finally released, and as I wept, His gentle hand helped me to my feet and into His arms. I was transported into another world, the highest paradise. And as my spirit soared in that spiritual atmosphere, He helped me to sit on bent knees just opposite Him as He began to speak to me. I did not comprehend a word…

November 13, 2009

First church in US visited by ‘Abdu’l-Baha

The Master went to the Church of the Ascension. This was the first church in America to be honored by the presence of the Master. He had previously received an invitation to visit this great edifice.

He entered the church from a special side door opening into a room in the church and rested for a while. The clergymen came in and expressed their warm gratitude for His presence. After prayers, the Master went to the podium from the upper door. At the insistence of the minister, the Master sat on the tall chair especially reserved for the Viceroy of Christ. After more prayers, the minister spoke about the history and teachings of the Cause and, with great courtesy and respect, introduced the Master. The believers attending the services were elated. The Master rose from His seat and gave a comprehensive talk on the meaning of divine civilization. He presented the Baha’i teachings and spoke about the Revelation of Baha’u’llah and the unification of humankind. The audience sat spell- bound like iguanas sitting in the sun, [1] overwhelmed by the Master's talk, especially at the end when the Master chanted a prayer in a most melodious voice. The prayer greatly affected the hearts of the listeners. As He left the church, group after group rushed towards Him. The Baha’is sang 'Allah-u-Abha and many asked for His blessings. From among the crowd a woman's voice was heard. Tears poured from her eyes as she held fast to the hem of the Master's robe. She was so overcome she could not speak. The Master showered her with His love and kindness and calmed her with loving words of assurance. It was a great day and a most impressive meeting. Not one of the two thousand people was disappointed and everyone left smiling in warm appreciation. 
(Mahmud’s Diary)
[1]That is, they were awe-inspired. This is an allusion to a Persian proverb. When the iguana hunts flies, it sits on s rock facing the sun. In Persian, an iguana is called aftab parast, ‘sun worshipper’]

November 10, 2009

Search for the Holy Grail – The Beloved Bab

This is the story of a modern search for the Holy Grail, the cup of everlasting life. It began in the land from which the three Kings came to Bethlehem guided by a bright star. It was now the nineteenth century, and there was another sign in the heavens, a great fiery comet. Many were awed, many were frightened, many were cheered, for both the East and the West were caught up in a millennial zeal. In Persia, home of the "three wise men," the excitement over the coming of a Messiah was greater than in any other land. In America and Europe, scholars wrote and spoke of the expected appearance of the promised Christ, but in Persia many people were actively searching for Him. They believed the Promised One to be already in their midst. Among these devout searchers was Shaykh Ahmad, a kindly, gentle man. At the age of forty, he left his home and kindred in one of the islands to the south of the Persian Gulf, and set out to unravel the mystery of the coming Messenger. An inner voice kept urging him on. Eagerly, he devoured everything written on the subject. He questioned the great religious and scientific authorities until he felt that at last he knew the truth.

November 7, 2009

Baha’u’llah’s amazement as a boy on pointless discourses by some clerics

Baha'u'llah ... records that on one occasion, when visiting his future mother-in-law, he listened to a cleric with a large turban expounding on whether the arch-angel Gabriel was the greater or Qanbar, the servant of the Imam ‘Ali. He writes that although he was still but a boy, he was astonished at the ignorance of these elders and when an opportunity came, he expressed his thoughts saying that since Gabriel is stated in Qur’an to be the one through whom the Word of God is revealed to the prophet Muhammad, then even Qanbar's master the Imam ‘Ali would not reach that station. Baha'u'llah states that some time later, he visited Qum and was dismayed to find the same cleric expounding the same sort of pointless and fruitless discourse.
(Moojan Momen, 'Baha’u’llah, A Short Biography')

November 3, 2009

Story told by 'Abdu'l-Baha about Baha'u'llah's younger days

From childhood He was extremely kind and generous. He was a great lover of outdoor life, most of His time being spent in the garden or the fields. He had an extraordinary power of attraction, which was felt by all. People always crowded around Him, Ministers and people of the Court would surround Him, and the children also were devoted to Him. When He was only thirteen or fourteen years old He became renowned for His learning. He would converse on any subject and solve any problem presented to Him. In large gatherings He would discuss matters with the 'Ulama (leading mullas) and would explain intricate religious questions. All of them used to listen to Him with the greatest interest.

When Baha'u'llah was twenty-two years old, His father died, and the Government wished Him to succeed to His father's position in the Ministry, as was customary in Persia, but Baha’u’llah did not accept the offer. Then the Prime Minister said ‘Leave him to himself. Such a position is unworthy of him. He has some higher aim in view. I cannot understand him, but I am convinced that he is destined for some lofty career. His thoughts are not like ours. Let him alone.’” 
('Abdu'l-Baha, quoted in Esslemont, Baha'u'llah and New Era)

November 2, 2009

Baha'u'llah sought justice as a child

While still a child, the Blessed Beauty (Baha'u'llah) watched as a government tax-collector, on three separate occasions, accosted His father and demanded, in cruel and unjust manner, the payment of taxes. Unable to bear the injustice of it all, He, though in early childhood, mounted His horse and rode fpr two days until He arrived in Tihran (the capital of Persia). There He sought the dismissal of this unjust and tyrannical tax-collectot. He succeeded in obtaining the necessary papers ordering the dismissal, and returned to His parents. 
(Mr. Furutan, 'Story of Baha'u'llah')