May 26, 2010

Being in the presence of Baha’u’llah when Tables are revealed -- recalled by Haji Mirza Haydar-‘Ali

Once I requested to be in Baha'u'llah's room when He was revealing Tablets. This request met with His approval. As I entered His room, I heard streams of words sweeping along in a torrential flow from His lips. It seemed that the atmosphere, the floor, the walls, and every atom in the room was filled with perfume. Only those who have had this indescribable experience can ever imagine what I mean. The flow of revelation continued for about five minutes. Then Baha'u'llah said to me, "You have on several occasions been here when the revelation of Tablets has taken place. Should the people of the whole world wish to be present and hear the words of revelation, We would permit them. But since We have approved courtesy and ordained it upon men, we are reluctant to display this power publicly." 
- Haji Mirza Haydar-‘Ali  ('The Delight of Hearts')

May 23, 2010

Shoghi Effendi received his first Tablet from ‘Abdu’l-Baha

Dr Zia Baghdadi, an intimate of the family, in his recollections … tells us the story of Shoghi Effendi's first Tablet from 'Abdu'l-Bahá. Dr Baghdadi states that when Shoghi Effendi was only five years old he was pestering the Master to write something for him, whereupon 'Abdu'l-Bahá wrote this touching and revealing letter in His own hand:

"He is God!
O My Shoghi, I have no time to talk, leave me alone! You said 'write' - I have written. What else should be done? Now is not the time for you to read and write, it is the time for jumping about and chanting 'O My God!', therefore memorize the prayers of the Blessed Beauty and chant them that I may hear them, because there is no time for anything else."

It seems that when this wonderful gift reached the child he set himself to memorize a number of Bahá'u'lláh's prayers and would chant them so loudly that the entire neighbourhood could hear his voice; when his parents and other members of the Master's family remonstrated with him, Shoghi Effendi replied, according to Dr Baghdadi, "The Master wrote to me to chant that He may hear me! I am doing my best!" and he kept on chanting at the top of his voice for many hours every day. Finally his parents begged the Master to stop him, but He told them to let Shoghi Effendi alone. This was one aspect of the small boy's chanting. We are told there was another: he had memorized some touching passages written by 'Abdu'l-Bahá after the ascension of Bahá'u'lláh and when he chanted these the tears would roll down the earnest little face. From another source we are told that when the Master was requested by a western friend, at that time living in His home, to reveal a prayer for children He did so, and the first to memorize it and chant it was Shoghi Effendi who would also chant it in the meetings of the friends. (Ruhiyyih Khanum, The Priceless Pearl, p. 8)

May 17, 2010

An Account of the meeting between Siyyid Kazim and the Bab (prior to His formal Declaration) – seen through the eyes of one of Siyyid Kazim’s students

Shaykh Hasan-i-Zunuzi, who later became one of the secretaries of the Bab, related to Nabil, the great early historian of the Faith, a fascinating account of the first time he met the Bab – which occurred before the Bab’s Declaration on May 23rd, 1844. It happened in the city of Karbila, which is located about 55 miles southwest of Baghdad on the Euphrates. This city is viewed as a Holy city by Shi’ih Muslims since Imam Husayn was martyred and buried there. It is considered in Islam to be one of the two “supreme shrines”, the other being Najaf.

At the time of their meeting, Shaykh Hasan-i-Zunuzi was in the company of his teacher and master, Siyyid Kazim, who was one of the two forerunners of the Bab. Siyyid Kazim was preaching about the advent of the Qa’im [the Promised One of Muslims, Whom the Bab later claimed to be]. Mulla Husayn and a number of others who would later embrace the faith of the Bab, were among the students of Siyyid Kazim at the time of his death on December 31, 1843.

This was a time when Siyyid Kazim, realizing the approaching Hour of the Bab’s Declaration, was exerting his utmost endeavor to “remove gradually, with caution and wisdom, whatever barriers might stand in the way of the full recognition of that Hidden Treasure of God.” For instance, he hinted at the presence of that Promised One in their very midst, but for fear of causing danger to His Blessed Person, refrained from identifying him clearly. He would tell them: “‘You behold Him with your own eyes and yet recognize Him not!’ To his disciples who questioned him regarding the signs of the Manifestation, he would say: ‘He is of noble lineage. He is a descendant of the Prophet of God, of the family of Hashim. He is young in age, and is possessed of innate knowledge. His learning is derived, not from the teachings of Shaykh Ahmad [their previous master before Siyyid Kazim], but from God. My knowledge is but a drop compared with the immensity of His knowledge; my attainments a speck of dust in the face of the wonders of His grace and power. Nay, immeasurable is the difference. He is of medium height, abstains from smoking, and is of extreme devoutness and piety.’”

May 9, 2010

The Beauty of His Face -- A western believer recalls being in the presence of the Master in the Holy Land

"It is very difficult to remember much of what of He said. Indeed, it was almost difficult to listen! I wished only to look and look at the beauty of His face! For that was what impressed me first, the exquisite beauty of the Master. It was like the most beautiful picture we have of Him, with life and color added. His is a face of living silver – the wonderful silver of hair and beard, and the blue of His eyes. The side face is majestic and sweet and loving. It was that which we saw most of the time. The full face is more dignified; to me it seemed more awe-inspiring. And yet, when He smiled, it was most exquisitely friendly, and human! But He looked very, very tired …and yet the weariness was not, I think, a weariness of spirit. I cannot tell why I feel that way, partly because He can reach, as no one else can, the infinite sources of spiritual strength.

"I had no desire to speak to the Master; there was nothing that I could say. I do not know what happened in my mind and heart. There was no shock, no surprise, no sadness, no thought of my own faulty past. But I came to understand that for one who has been long in His presence, there can be no desire except to serve Him; that one's life would be happy only as one pleased Him; that one would be sad only as one grieved Him. I felt then that I had begun to learn -- that the will to serve was becoming greater as I had prayed that it might.. ." (The Baha’i World 1963-1968, pp. 326-328)
Please see Baha'i Heroes and Heroines for a brief description about this beleiver.
To see some pictures of the Master please visit Portraits of 'Abdu'l-Baha and 'Abdu'l-Baha Visits the West.

May 2, 2010

Account of the conversion of an American lady in ‘Abdu'l-Baha's presence in Akka -- recalled by Dr. Youness Afroukhteh, 'Abdu'l-Baha's secretary and translator

Another of the anti-religious visitors who entered the House of ‘Abdu'l-Baha as an implacable adversary of the whole concept of spirituality, and yet left it after having declared her belief in the Cause of God, was an American lady who arrived quite suddenly, and accepting no excuse almost forced her way to the biruni reception room on the upper floor. In her Arms she held a dog of an unsightly colour and with a hideous snout, which she petted incessantly.

Her first question to 'Abdu'l-Baha was this: "I have heard a lot in America about your greatness. They tell stories about you but I really have not understood the reality of the situation and I want to know what the truth of the matter is."

Of course, I do not recall the opening questions and answers, I just remember that 'Abdu'l-Baha, using Baha'i terminology, uttered a few words regarding the unity of God and gave proof of His existence with great eloquence. Suddenly she laughed and said, "I am astonished that you can compose so spontaneously, and with such eloquence and fluency, such sophisticated verses of poetry in proof of an imaginary thing. What does 'God' mean? It is truly a pity."

I immediately realized what she meant by the words "eloquence and fluency" and "sophisticated verses of poetry". 'Abdu'l-Baha had not spoken in the simple vernacular of this woman, but had used the literary expressions of the Faith; moreover, I had not shown any understanding of the situation and had translated the words parrot-like in the same manner. As the poet says,

I was taught the parrot's art by the Master divine,
Parrot-like I repeat His words, yet none that is mine.

And so this woman, being unfamiliar with these expressions had thought the eloquent utterances of 'Abdu'l-Baha to be merely verses of high-flown poetry.