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“On the [day] of the first Naw-Ruz (1909), which He celebrated after His release from His confinement, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had the marble sarcophagus transported with great labor to the vault prepared for it, and in the evening, by the light of a single lamp, He laid within it, with His own hands—in the presence of believers from the East and from the West and in circumstances at once solemn and moving – the wooden casket containing the sacred remains of the Báb and His companion. When all was finished, and the earthly remains of the Martyr-Prophet of Shiraz were, at long last, safely deposited for their everlasting rest in the bosom of God’s holy mountain, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Who had cast aside His turban, removed His shoes and thrown off His cloak, bent low over the still open sarcophagus, His silver hair waving about His head and His face transfigured and luminous, rested His forehead on the border of the wooden casket, and, sobbing aloud, wept with such a weeping that all those who were present wept with Him. That night He could not sleep, so overwhelmed was He with emotion. The most joyful tidings is this,” He wrote later in a Tablet announcing to His followers the news of this glorious victory, “that the holy, the luminous body of the Báb … after having for sixty years been transferred from place to place, by reason of the ascendancy of the enemy, and from fear of the malevolent, and having known neither rest nor tranquillity has, through the mercy of the Abhá Beauty, been ceremoniously deposited, on the day of Naw-Rúz, within the sacred casket, in the exalted Shrine on Mt. Carmel… By a strange coincidence, on that same day of Naw-Rúz, a cablegram was received from Chicago, announcing that the believers in each of the American centers had elected a delegate and sent to that city … and definitely decided on the site and construction of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkar.”
(Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 276)
Image: The Baha’is of Mandalay, Burma, with the marble casket offered by them for the remains of the Bab, April 22, 1898.
“On the morning of March 21st 1909, the day of Naw-Ruz, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had the marble sarcophagus — gift of the Bahá’ís of Rangoon — carried up the mountain and placed in the vault. That evening He laid in the sarcophagus the wooden casket which contained the inseparable remains of the Báb and the disciple who had died with Him. A solitary lamp lit the scene, so poignant and yet so exultant. The Báb had been cruelly maligned, cruelly wronged, cruelly put to death. His torn and smashed body had had no home for many long years. Now the heart of Carmel was receiving it forevermore. Of this event Zechariah had written: ‘Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The Branch; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the Lord’. How mysteriously and indubitably had his prophecy come true. ‘The Branch’ had built ‘the temple of the Lord’, had raised His ‘tabernacle’ on His Mountain — on Carmel — the Mountain of God.”
(Balyuzi, ‘Abdu’l-Baha – The Centre of the Covenant’)
The Ayyám-i-Há holiday begins each year on the evening of February 25 and ends at sunset on March 1st. Of this period Bahá’u’lláh writes: “It behoveth the people of Bahá, throughout these days, to provide good cheer for themselves, their kindred and, beyond them, the poor and needy, and with joy and exultation to hail and glorify their Lord, to sing His praise and magnify His Name.”
A closer look at the history and background of Ayyám-i-Há can help us to value it even more for its unique spirit, resist any temptation to turn it into a “Christmas equivalent,” and discover some of its beautiful and mystical symbolic meanings. The Bahá’í calendar of 19 months of 19 days needs 4 days (5 in leap years) to equal a solar year. By definition such added days are “intercalary” days. In revealing this “Bábí” calendar, the Báb did not say exactly where to place the extra days. Some of the early Bábís included them as part of the Fast, others stopped fasting 4 or 5 days before Naw-Rúz (the new calendar year). Bahá’u’lláh named these days in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas and specified their place in the year:
“Let the days in excess of the months be placed before the month of fasting. We have ordained that these, amid all nights and days, shall be the manifestations of the letter Há, and thus they have not been bounded by the limits of the year and its months…and when they end–these days of giving that precede the season of restraint–let them enter upon the Fast. Thus hath it been ordained by Him Who is the Lord of all mankind.”
As in His prayer for Ayyám-i-Há, Bahá’u’lláh juxtaposes these “days of giving” with the Fast’s “season of restraint.” Ayyám-i-Há is intended partly as spiritual preparation for the Fast, a reminder of its approach, and a way of fostering the detachment from material things so necessary for the Fast.
Ayyám-i-Há means the “Days of Há.” “Há” is the Arabic letter corresponding to the English “H”, and one of the three Arabic letters which make up the word “Bahá.” Both Bahá’u’lláh and the Báb followed the Arabic tradition of assigning numerical values to letters, and of giving spiritual meanings to both. The numerical value of “Há” is 5, the sum of the numerical values of the letters in the “Báb,” and the maximum number of intercalary days.
“Há” is also the first letter of an Arabic pronoun commonly used in Arabic religious writings to refer to God, or “the Divine Essence.” “Há” by itself is used as a symbol of “the Essence of God,” and was the subject of many an Arabic essay on its mysteries. In Bahá’u’lláh’s Tablet of All Food the realm “beyond which there is no passing,” or the realm of the Divine Essence is designated as “Háhut.” In the Báb’s interpretation of the letter “Há” (quoted by Bahá’u’lláh in the Kitáb-i-Iqán), the Báb speaks of martyrdom in the path of God and warns “even if all the kings of the earth were to be leagued together they would be powerless to take from me a single letter…”
Bahá’u’lláh has designated the intercalary days “amid all the nights and days” as manifestations of the letter Há”–that is, as Days of the Divine Essence. These extra days stand apart from the ordinary cycle of weeks and months and the human measure of time. They are not “bounded by the limits of the year and its months”–just as the infinite reality of the divine Essence of God is unbounded and cannot be captured or comprehended within the cycle of time or any other human measurement.
Thus Ayyám-i-Há can be thought of as days outside of time, days that symbolize eternity, infinity, and the mystery and unknowable Essence of God Himself. Contemplation during these days of the timeless mystery of the Essence of God provides us the “joy and exultation” with which to “sing His praise and magnify His Name.”
*This article was (taken from an e-mail posting
I found this wonderful article by Homa Sabet Tavangar in the HuffPost this morning and wanted to share it with all of you. In a changing world deeply entrenched in rituals and traditions that shape its multitude of cultures, Homa shares her ideas and views of how to build traditions for her children in a faith with “virtually no rituals” – the Baha’i Faith. Hope you enjoy reading this as much as I did. Read the full article here.
The Bahá’í calendar, also called the Badí‘ calendar (badí‘ means wondrous or ), is a solar calendar with years composed of 19 months of 19 days each (361 days) plus an extra period of “Intercalary Days”. Years begin at Naw-Rúz, on the vernal equinox, coinciding with March 20 or 21.
The first year is dated from 21 March 1844 CE, the year during which the Báb proclaimed his religion. Years are annotated with the date notation of BE (Bahá’í Era). The year 174 BE started at the moment of the vernal equinox in March 2017, meaning that it falls on 20 March 2017.
To help you keep track of Naw Ruz, The Twin Births and Ayyám-i-Há, here is a downloadable PDF file that provides the Badí’ Date with the Gregorian Equivalent dates for the next 1000 years.
On November 29, 1921 at 9:30 am, the following cable reached Major Tudor Pole ‘s office address: “His Holiness ‘Abdu’l-Baha ascended Abha Kingdom. Inform friends.”
Greatest Holy Leaf
(See The Priceless Pearl, p. 39)
The Greatest Holy Leaf (probably with few members of the Master’s family) cabled on 21 December 1921: “Memorial meeting world over January seven. Procure prayers for unity and steadfastness. Master left full instructions in His Will and Testament. Translation will be sent. Inform friends.” (See The Priceless Pearl, p. 39)
The Greatest Holy Leaf announced to the Baha’i world the provisions of the Master’s Will and Testament on 7 January, sending two cables to Persia: “Memorial meetings all over the world have been held. The Lord of all the worlds in His Will and Testament has revealed His instructions. Copy will be sent. Inform believers.” and “Will and Testament forwarded to Shoghi Effendi Center Cause.”
(See The Priceless Pearl, p. 47)
On January 16, the Greatest Holy Leaf sent a cable to the Baha’i world announcing the provisions of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s Will and Testament: “In Will Shoghi Effendi appointed Guardian and Head of the House of Justice. Inform American friends.” (See The Priceless Pearl, p. 49)
Although there was opposition to the appointment among a small minority of Covenant breakers, most Baha’is received the announcement with great enthusiasm and interest and pledged their support to the Guardian: “We long to assist the Guardian in every way and our hearts are responsive to the burdens upon his young shoulders…” (The Priceless Pearl, p 50)
The preceding events prompted Shoghi Effendi to select eight passages from the Will and Testament of Abdu’l-Baha and circulate them among the Baha’is. Only one of these briefly referred to himself: “O ye the faithful loved ones of ‘Abdu’l-Baha! It is incumbent upon you to take the greatest care of Shoghi Effendi. . . For he is, after `Abdu’l-Baha, the Guardian of the Cause of God, the Afnan, the Hands (pillars) of the Cause and the beloved of the Lord, must obey him and turn unto him.” (See The Priceless Pearl, p. 48) “Of all the thundering and tremendous passages in the Will referring to himself, Shoghi Effendi chose the least astounding and provocative to first circulate among the Baha’is. Guided and guiding he was from the very beginning.” (See The Priceless Pearl, p. 48)
Before Shoghi Effendi reached Haifa, the Greatest Holy Leaf had been obliged to cable America on 14 December: “Now is the period of great tests. The friends should be firm and united in defending the Cause. Nakeseens [Covenant – Breakers] starting activities through press other channels all over the world. Select committee of wise cool heads to handle press propaganda in America.” (See The Priceless Pearl, p. 49)
In a letter Shoghi Effendi “appointed a body of nine people to act tentatively as an Assembly” (See Priceless Pearl, pp.56-57) under the supervision of the Holy Family and headship of the Greatest Holy Leaf.
He is God!
“This servant, after that grievous event and calamity— the ascension of His Holiness ‘Abdu’l-Baha to the Abha Kingdom—has been stricken with grief and pain and so entangled in
the troubles (created) by the enemies of the Cause of God, that I consider my
presence here, at such a time and in such an atmosphere, is not in accordance with the fulfillment of my important and sacred duties. For this reason, unable to do otherwise, I have left for a time the affairs of the Cause, both at home and abroad, under the supervision of the Holy Family and headship of the Greatest Holy Leaf—may my soul be a sacrifice to her—until, by the Grace of God, having gained health, strength, self-confidence and spiritual energy, and having taken into my hands, in accordance with my aim and desire, entirely and regularly the work of service, I shall attain to my utmost spiritual hope and aspiration.
The servant of His Threshold,
(See The Priceless Pearl, p. 57)
On April 7, the Greatest Holy Leaf wrote a general letter to the friends. She first acknowledges the letters of allegiance they have sent and says Shoghi Effendi is counting upon their co-operation in spreading the message; the Baha’i world must from now on be linked through the Spiritual Assemblies and local questions must be referred to them. She then goes on say: “Since the ascension of our beloved ‘Abdu’l-Baha Shoghi Effendi has been moved so deeply. . . that he has sought the necessary quiet in which to meditate upon the vast task ahead of him, and it is to accomplish this that he has temporarily left these regions. During his absence he has appointed me as his representative, and while he is occupied in this great endeavour, the family of ‘Abdu’l-Baha is assured that you will all strive to advance triumphantly the Cause of Baha’u’llah. . .” The typewritten letter in English is signed in Persian “Bahiyyih” and sealed with her seal. (See The Priceless Pearl, p. 58)
In her work during the transition period, the Greatest Holy Leaf’s last act was to send members of the Guardian’s family to find him and ask him to return: “In the autumn of 1922 the Greatest Holy Leaf, deeply distressed by Shoghi Effendi’s long absence, sent members of his family to find him and plead with him to come back to the Holy Land. In the street of a small village in the mountains, as he returned in the evening from one of his all-day walks, Shoghi Effendi, to his great surprise, found his mother looking for him; she had come all the way from Palestine for this purpose, accompanied by another member of the Master’s family; with tears she informed him of the distress of Bahiyyih Khanum, the family and friends and persuaded him to return and assume his rightful place.” (See The Priceless Pearl, p. 63)