Daily Reflection – 8 Bahá (Splendor)

Morning:

“The Lord of the universe hath never raised up a prophet nor hath He sent down a Book unless He hath established His covenant with all men, calling for their acceptance of the next Revelation and of the next Book; inasmuch as the outpourings of His bounty are ceaseless and without limit. (Persian Bayán 6:16; SWB 87)

Evening:

“Out of this pitch blackness there dawned the morning splendor of the Teachings of Bahá’u’lláh. He hath dressed the world with a garment new and fair, and that new garment is the principles which have come down from God.

“Now the new age is here and creation is reborn. Humanity hath taken on new life. The autumn hath gone by, and the reviving spring is here. All things are now made new. Arts and industries have been reborn, there are new discoveries in science, and there are new inventions; even the details of human affairs, such as dress and personal effects—even weapons—all these have likewise been renewed. The laws and procedures of every government have been revised. Renewal is the order of the day.”
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of  ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, 205)

Segment 20: The Covenant of Abdu’l-Baha: His Will and Testament – by Brent Poirier

The Covenant of Abdu’l-Baha: His Will and Testament.pdf

The Covenant of `Abdu’l-Bahá

We can get a glimpse of the importance of the Will and Testament of Abdu’l-Baha by seeing the remarkable language of Shoghi Effendi in describing it. Shoghi Effendi refers to the Most Holy Book as “the brightest emanation of the mind of Bahá’u’lláh” and as “the Charter of His New World Order.” (God Passes By, p. 213) He uses the identical language to refer to the Master’s Will – the “brightest emanation” of the Master’s mind (God Passes By, p. 325) and “the Charter of Baha’u’llah’s New World Order” (God Passes By, p. xv, and “The World Order of Baha’u’llah” p. 144)

The Master’s Will was in an envelope addressed in Abdu’l-Baha’s own handwriting to the “Ghusn-i-Mumtaz,” the “Chosen Branch,” Shoghi Effendi (“The Priceless Pearl,” p. 41. As the Guardian’s secretary wrote on his behalf:

“The ‘Kitáb-i-‘Ahd’ is, as you know, Bahá’u’lláh’s ‘Book of Covenant’… The manuscript was in the possession of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá all through His ministry, and after His passing it was found enclosed in His own will. These two precious documents, namely the book of Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh and the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá have both been carefully preserved and are now in the possession of the Guardian.” (From a letter on behalf of Shoghi Effendi dated 25 September 1934, “The Light of Divine Guidance” Vol. I, p. 62)

This physical oneness of these two documents – Baha’u’llah’s Will and Testament enclosed within the Master’s Will, and both of them inside the envelope addressed to the beloved Guardian – symbolizes the oneness of their contents. As Shoghi Effendi wrote, “they are one Will”. (“The World Order of Baha’u’llah,” p. 22)

He also wrote of the close connection of the twin Covenants, in a letter written by his secretary on his behalf:

“The Guardian considers the existence of two forms of Covenant both of which are explicitly mentioned in the literature of the Cause.  First is the covenant that every Prophet makes with humanity or, more definitely, with His people that they will accept and follow the coming Manifestation who will be the reappearance of His reality.  The second form of Covenant is such as the one Bahá’u’lláh made with His people that they should accept the Master.  This is merely to establish and strengthen the succession of the series of Lights that appear after every Manifestation.  Under the same category falls the Covenant the Master made with the Bahá’ís that they should accept His administration after Him….” (From a letter on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer dated October 21, 1932; Bahá’í News #80, January, 1934, pp. 5-6)

We have a touching description of the passing of `Abdu’l-Bahá and of the reading of His Will, from Mr. Saichiro Fujita who was residing in the Holy Land at that time. His exact words and phrasing are retained, from a voice recording made of him by Sylvia Ioas.

“You know, before `Abdu’l-Baha passing away, it was on a Friday, we went visit the mosque in Haifa, Friday morning. That day return from mosque, He had to walk up the step. He says “I am tired,” went into the room. Then Friday, Saturday, Sunday! Three days. Sunday night, He passed away. Those days we had many American pilgrims there. That Mr. and Mrs. Hoagg, Boschs were there. I heard the cry, deafening noise. So immediately I went up this gate, there’s many collected and mourning, the Eastern believers very demonstrative, you know. I said “What is it?”  “It’s `Abdu’l-Baha has passed.”  So immediately I come back to Pilgrim House, informed them. And some of them come out, come now. That day. It’s one o’clock, and all the family are all together there. Can’t help. Doctor just left, Dr. Habib, that Christian Arab, that’s their family doctor. Then from that room we had after few days, the day in Mount Carmel. I went there myself, making a place. ( ) called, ah, Ramatullah, he’s very strong man, he carried casket way down. Ramatullah lived a long time ago, he was caretaker, gardener, very nice man. He had a big family, but years ago. All the notables from Haifa and Jerusalem, all were collected here, ah, for funeral. Even Herbert Samuel, walked right up, passing Master. Just out from this room, Number seven, and go around, Rahmatu’llah turn corner, in front of center of church, then go up, up, up, up, up to the Shrine. Everybody carrying casket up to the resting-place. Then up memorial day, we had biggest service here in Number 7. Then we had biggest dinner, luncheon served in, ah, Number 9. That one of the daughter’s family, Ruha Khanum. Will of, ah, `Abdu’l-Bahá read in Number 7. In the center of the hall! That room! Oh, we had the biggest, ah, meeting there. All sitting on floor. A prominent Baha’i, from Egypt, he read the Will, right in the corner, and everybody faced, and everybody sat around, even the Nakazeen, some of the Nakazeen was among us, violator. Very touching ceremony. Oh, from early in morning, we had a meeting, ah, to go some time, to circulate all the Will of `Abdu’l-Baha. Every time mention, ah, Shoghi Effendi’s name, everybody arise. Very respectable, very. That’s why the Shoghi Effendi is be Guardian of the Cause. That day. ( ) family, back in that tea room now. See, the gentlemen and the ladies are all segregated. They know, behind the curtain, they all know. The Will of `Abdu’l-Baha was read, everybody consented, Shoghi Effendi is the Guardian of the Cause. That’s final, nobody object, and then after the passing `Abdu’l-Baha, the reign of Guardian, Shoghi Effendi.”  (From an interview of Sachiro Fujita by Sylvia Ioas, in the House of `Abdu’l-Bahá, Number 7 Haparsim (“Persian”) Street, Mount Carmel, Haifa, November 24th, 1965) Interview of Sachiro Fujita – by Sylvia Ioas, 1975

The Will and Testament of `Abdu’l-Baha was described by Shoghi Effendi as:

“amazing in all its aspects”:   “ . . . the remarkable revelations of the Beloved’s Will and Testament, so amazing in all its aspects, so emphatic in its injunctions, have challenged and perplexed the keenest minds. . .” (Shoghi Effendi, Baha’i Administration, p. 50)

It is highly advisable to study the entire text of the Will and Testament of `Abdu’l-Bahá, one of the most important of all of the Bahá’í Writings.

Here is Shoghi Effendi’s summary of the Master’s Will:

“The Document establishing that Order, the Charter of a future world civilization, which may be regarded in some of its features as supplementary to no less weighty a Book than the Kitáb-i-Aqdas; signed and sealed by `Abdu’l-Bahá; entirely written with His own hand; its first section composed during one of the darkest periods of His incarceration in the prison-fortress of Akká, proclaims, categorically and unequivocally, the fundamental beliefs of the followers of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh; reveals, in unmistakable language, the two-fold character of the Mission of the Báb; discloses the full station of the Author of the Bahá’í  Revelation; asserts that “all others are servants unto Him and do His bidding”; stresses the importance of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas; establishes the institution of the Guardianship as a hereditary office and outlines its essential functions; provides the measures for the election of the International House of Justice, defines its scope and sets forth its relationship to that Institution; prescribes the obligations, and emphasizes the responsibilities, of the Hands of the Cause of God; and extols the virtues of the indestructible Covenant established by Bahá’u’lláh. That Document, furthermore, lauds the courage and constancy of the supporters of Bahá’u’lláh’s Covenant; expatiates on the sufferings endured by its appointed Center; recalls the infamous conduct of Mírzá Yahya and his failure to heed the warnings of the Báb; exposes, in a series of indictments, the perfidy and rebellion of Mírzá Muhammad-`Alí, and the complicity of his son Shu`a’u’llah and of his brother Mirza Badí’u’llah; reaffirms their excommunication, and predicts the frustration of all their hopes; summons the Afnán (the Bab’s kindred), the Hands of the Cause and the entire company of the followers of Bahá’u’lláh to arise unitedly to propagate His Faith, to disperse far and wide, to labor tirelessly and to follow the heroic example of the apostles of Jesus Christ; warns them against the dangers of association with the Covenant-breakers, and bids them shield the Cause from the assaults of the insincere and the hypocrite; and counsels them to demonstrate by their conduct the universality of the Faith they have espoused, and vindicate its high principles.  In that same Document its Author reveals the significance and purpose of the Huququ’llah (Right of God), already instituted in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas; enjoins submission and fidelity towards all monarchs who are just; expresses His longing for martyrdom, and voices His prayers for the repentance as well as the forgiveness of His enemies.” (Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 328)

Bahíyyih Khánum on the Clarity of the Covenant

Some teachings are enclosed in symbols and beautiful imagery, and are endowed with a variety of meanings and applications. On the other hand, for the sake of the unity of the Cause, the language of the Covenant is clear and explicit. The Greatest Holy Leaf wrote:

       It appears from your letter that you had written prior to the receipt of the Will and Testament of the Centre of the Covenant.  You have certainly perused it by now.  This Text is His decisive decree; it constitutes the very life of those endued with understanding.  In it the Pen of Bounty has set forth in the most powerful, comprehensive, clear and detailed manner the obligations devolving on every stratum of the Baha’i community, and has hacked out the tree of violation by its root, and has caused the centre of it to be forlorn and disgraced.  He has specifically named the centre to whom all must turn, thus solidly fixing and establishing the foundations of the Covenant, and has clearly appointed the centre, to whom all the people of Baha must direct themselves, the Chosen Branch, the Guardian of the Cause of God.  This great bestowal is one of the special characteristics of this supreme Revelation, which of all Dispensations is the noblest and most excellent. Goodly be this to the steadfast, glad-tidings to the staunch, blessings to those who win the day.

       Praise be to God, you have arisen to serve Him, and are actively teaching and spreading His Faith.  Such a bounty merits thanks a thousand times over, and praises forever, in the hallowed sanctuary of the one Beloved.”

       Convey my Baha’i salutations to all the faithful.

(From a letter of the Greatest Holy Leaf, Bahíyyih Khánum, p. 122)

Segment 18: Bahiyyih Khanum: Actions Undertaken Upon the Death of ‘Abdu’l-Baha (Her Appointment as Headship of the Cause by Shoghi Effendi) – by Alfredo Ancheta​

Bahiyyih Khanum: Actions Undertaken Upon the Death of ‘Abdu’l-Baha.pdf

Segment 2 of ‘The Greatest Holy Leaf’

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,
Shoghi
(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)

Segment 17: Bahiyyih Khanum: “The Immortal Heroine” – by Alfredo B. Ancheta

Bahiyyih Khanum: “The Immortal Heroine”.pdf

Part 1 of The Greatest Holy Leaf

“We have elevated thee to the rank of one of the most distinguished among thy sex, and granted thee, in My court, a station such as none other woman hath surpassed.”

(Compilations, Bahiyyih Khanum, p. 3)

“He is the Eternal! This is My testimony for her who hath heard My voice and drawn nigh unto Me. Verily, she is a leaf that hath sprung from this preexistent Root. She hath revealed herself in My name and tasted of the sweet savours of My holy, My wondrous pleasure. At one time We gave her to drink from My honeyed Mouth, at another caused her to partake of My mighty, My luminous Kawthar. Upon her rest the glory of My name and the fragrance of My shining robe.”

(Compilations, Bahiyyih Khanum, p. 2)

“Let these exalted words be thy love-song on the tree of Baha, O thou most holy and resplendent Leaf: ‘God, besides Whom is none other God, the Lord of this world and the next!’ Verily, We have elevated thee to the rank of one of the most distinguished among thy sex, and granted thee, in My court, a station such as none other woman hath surpassed. Thus have We preferred thee and raised thee above the rest, as a sign of grace from Him Who is the Lord of the throne on high and earth below. We have created thine eyes to behold the light of My countenance, thine ears to hearken unto the melody of My words, thy body to pay homage before My throne. Do thou render thanks unto God, thy Lord, the Lord of all the world.”

(Compilations, Bahiyyih Khanum, p. 2)

“How high is the testimony of the Sadratu’l-Muntaha for its leaf; how exalted the witness of the Tree of Life unto its fruit! Through My remembrance of her a fragrance laden with the perfume of musk hath been diffused; well is it with him that hath inhaled it and exclaimed: ‘All praise be to Thee, O God, my 4 Lord the most glorious!’ How sweet thy presence before Me; how sweet to gaze upon thy face, to bestow upon thee My loving-kindness, to favour thee with My tender care, to make mention of thee in this, My Tablet — a Tablet which I have ordained as a token of My hidden and manifest grace unto thee.”

(Compilations, Bahiyyih Khanum, p. 3)

Dearly beloved friends:

Moved by an unalterable devotion to the memory of the Greatest Holy Leaf, I feel prompted to share with you, and through you with the concourse of her steadfast lovers throughout the West, these significant passages [1] which I have gleaned from various Tablets revealed in her honour by Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.
[1 Included in Sections I and II.]

Impregnated with that love after which the soul of a humanity in travail now hungers, these passages disclose, to the extent that our finite minds can comprehend, the nature of that mystic bond which, on one hand, united her with the Spirit of her almighty Father and, on the other, linked her so closely with her glorious Brother, the perfect Exemplar of that Spirit.

The memory of her who was a pattern of goodness, of a pure and holy life, who was the embodiment of such heavenly virtues as only the privileged inmates of the uppermost chambers in the Abha Paradise can fully appreciate, will long live enshrined in these immortal words — a memory the ennobling influence of which will remain an inspiration and a solace amid the wreckage of a sadly shaken world.

Conscious of the predominating share assumed, in recent years, by the American believers in alleviating the burden which that most exalted Leaf bore so heroically in the evening of her life, I can do no better than entrust into their hands these prized testimonies of the Founder of our Faith and of the Centre of His Covenant. I feel confident that their elected representatives will take whatever measures are required for their prompt and wide circulation among their brethren throughout the West. They will, thereby, be contributing still further to the repayment of the great debt they owe her in the prosecution of a mighty and divinely-appointed task.

(Compilations, Bahiyyih Khanum, p. 57)

Your True Brother,

Shoghi
Haifa, Palestine
JANUARY 14, 1933
(Shared by Marcelina Duldulao, a Baha’i friend who works for Mr. & Mrs. Ali & Violet Nakjavani)

Segment 15: Mastery: The Unfolding (Abdu’l-Baha “The Master”) – by Dana Paxson

Mastery: The Unfolding (Abdu’l-Baha “The Master”).pdf

In the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, Bahá’u’lláh Himself directed humanity to turn, on His passing, to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá for understanding:

“O people of the world! When the Mystic Dove will have winged its flight from its Sanctuary of Praise and sought its far-off goal, its hidden habitation, refer ye whatsoever ye understand not in the Book to Him Who hath branched from this mighty Stock.”[1]

In a letter to some Bahá’ís in America, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá made clear His unique station and spelled out its purpose:

“You have written that there is a difference among the believers concerning the ‘Second Coming of Christ.’ Gracious God! Time and again this question hath arisen, and its answer hath emanated in a clear and irrefutable statement from the pen of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, that what is meant in the prophecies by the ‘Lord of Hosts’ and the ‘Promised Christ’ is the Blessed Perfection (Bahá’u’lláh) and His holiness the Exalted One (the Báb). My name is ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. My qualification is ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. My reality is ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. My praise is ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Thraldom to the Blessed Perfection is my glorious and refulgent diadem, and servitude to all the human race my perpetual religion… No name, no title, no mention, no commendation have I, nor will ever have, except ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. This is my longing. This is my greatest yearning. This is my eternal life. This is my everlasting glory.”[2]

One superior testimony to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s station and purpose is the staggering outpouring of His works, both before and throughout His service as the Center of Bahá’u’lláh’s Covenant from 1892 until His passing in 1921. This outpouring set forth the banquet of the Teachings of Bahá’u’lláh for the entire human world at all levels and in all capacities. One all-too-brief summary is that of Moojan Momen:

“`Abdu’l-Bahá’s principal writings are his correspondence with numerous Bahá’ís, well-wishers, government officials, and others. He wrote primarily in Persian and Arabic but there is also a small amount of material in Ottoman Turkish. The Bahá’í World Center currently holds over 27,000 letters of `Abdu’l-Bahá and he must have written many more… Although most of `Abdu’l-Bahá’s correspondence is with individual Bahá’ís, some of it is addressed to Bahá’í groups and communities. The most important of the latter category are The Tablets of the Divine Plan… , written in 1916-17 and addressed to the Bahá’ís of North America, which Shoghi Effendi calls the “Charter” for the propagation of the Bahá’í Faith[3] … `Abdu’l-Bahá also wrote to organizations, such as the Central Organization for a Durable Peace at the Hague, and occasionally to newspapers, such as the Christian Commonwealth.

“`Abdu’l-Bahá wrote three books: The Secret of Divine Civilization (1875), A Traveler’s Narrative(q.v., 1886), and Risáliy-i-Siyásiyyih (Treatise on Politics, 1892-3). Two of these were written during the lifetime of his father; in later years he had little time for such work. Many talks of `Abdu’l-Bahá have been published. Some of these, such as Memorials of the Faithful … and Some Answered Questions, were read and corrected by him prior to publication. `Abdu’l-Bahá also wrote a large number of prayers, some Tablets of Visitation for prominent Bahá’ís, and some poetry. Lastly, there is `Abdu’l-Bahá’s Will and Testament…, which is referred to by Shoghi Effendi as the “Charter of Bahá’u’lláh’s New World Order”[4] … There is also a large body of literature consisting of pilgrims’ notes about their visit to `Abdu’l-Bahá.”[5]

‘Abdu’l-Bahá was born on May 23, 1844, just as the Báb was first declaring His mission to Mullá Husayn. In 1911, as He began His journeys in the West, He was suffering from appalling afflictions both physical and mental that had assailed Him during His 67-year life.

He had survived childhood tuberculosis; the traumas of His Father’s imprisonments; the desperate hardships of repeated exile; the repugnant, destructive, repeated betrayals by nearly all of His own family members of His Father, Himself, and the Covenant; and the vicious, heartless persecutions of the Ottoman Empire.

Yet despite all this, and as evidenced by His vast, lavish, and glorious output of wisdom in all His works, He held perfectly true to His own testimony as quoted earlier: “Thraldom to the Blessed Perfection is my glorious and refulgent diadem, and servitude to all the human race my perpetual religion…”.

No matter what topic came into His attention, He filled it with light and insight in His commentaries, often settling and resolving differences that had formerly caused contention among even the wisest. Two such commentaries, one written in His young years and one in the late stage of His adult life, deserve mention here, even as contemporary scholars work to render them for modern readers. They stand as examples of the treasures bestowed on us by the Master.

The first of these He wrote in His teens, in answer to a query in Baghdad by ‘Ali Shawkat Pashá. It is a commentary on the well-known Islamic tradition “I was a Hidden Treasure and loved to be known. Therefore I created the Creation that I might be known.”[6]This tradition evokes two of the Hidden Words, revealed by Bahá’u’lláh in Baghdad:

“O Son of Man!  Veiled in My immemorial being and in the ancient eternity of My essence, I knew My love for thee; therefore I created thee, have engraved on thee Mine image and revealed to thee My beauty.”[7]

“O Son of Man!  I loved thy creation, hence I created thee. Wherefore, do thou love Me, that I may name thy name and fill thy soul with the spirit of life.”[8]

In ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s commentary on this single tradition, He selects just four terms for His comments: “Hidden Treasure”, “Love”, “Creation”, and “Knowledge”. The rich profusion of the knowledge He pours out in His commentary runs to over 35 pages in one provisional translation. In it He cites the Sufi mystics and poets, the traditions of Islam, and the Qur’an itself, concluding magnificently with His own poem introduced by these words (here translated provisionally) which are themselves evocative of Bahá’u’lláh’s Hidden Words:   

“Close the eye to all but the Friend and gaze upon the Beauty; purify the hearing from all utterance so that you may hear a wondrous tune from the flute of the family of David.”[9]

In the Hidden Words, Bahá’u’lláh wrote:

“… Blind thine eyes, that is, to all save My beauty; stop thine ears to all save My word; empty thyself of all learning save the knowledge of Me; that with a clear vision, a pure heart and an attentive ear thou mayest enter the court of My holiness.”[10]

The parallels of the words of Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá here are striking evidence of their coherence in the Covenant even before ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was named its Center. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá Himself can perhaps be seen now as a “Hidden Treasure” at the time he wrote this commentary.

The second of the commentaries of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá mentioned here as an example was likely written in ‘Akká after the Ascension of Bahá’u’lláh. Written in Ottoman Turkish, it is a commentary on the Islamic tradition “God doth give victory to this religion by means of a wicked man”[11] The translator, Necati Alkan, notes:

“In his commentary on this ḥadīth, ‘Abdu’l-Baha seems to ignore its negative context – the fact that the Prophet Muhammad referred to this person, though fighting alongside the Muslims, as one of the people of hell-fire (i.e. a person destined for hell) – and puts forth a more positive interpretation of the words ‘Inna’llāha yu’ayyidu hādhā’d-dīn bi-rajulin fājirin’ – ‘God doth give victory to this religion by means of a wicked man’. ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s tafsīr [commentary] here is in the Islamic tradition of giving the inner meaning (bāṭin) of the words.”[12]

In His commentary, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has reached into what appears to be the darkness of condemnation and from it has drawn divine illumination. From reading a provisional translation of His Tablet, one sees the Master penetrating the meanings to reveal praise and redemption for those who show heroism in advancing the Cause of God, irrespective of their outward allegiances. An excerpt from the translation, concerning the person identified in the hadith as “a wicked man”:

 “…he is the manifestation of the holy verse ‘He is fearing not the blame of any blamer[13]…’

“It is an illustrious person who with divine power distinguisheth pious deeds from evil acts, goodness from unseemliness, knowledge from ignorance, faith from unbelief, trustworthiness from treachery, the accepted from the rejected, guidance from the state of being astray, light from darkness, reality from metaphor, truthfulness from lie, loyalty from cruelty, and the upright from the hypocrite.”[14]

In this way the unique Center of the Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh, on the opening threshold of a mighty Dispensation destined to last a half-million years, wafts away the clouds of past superstitions in a blaze of light, redemption, and fulfillment.

In this all-too-brief and inadequate segment, one hopes that some sense of the majestic, unprecedented, and unique station of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá emerges for readers. As He took a few words and phrases to unfold entire seas of wisdom flooding from His Father’s Dispensation, so we might consider immersing ourselves increasingly in these life-giving waters to elevate our beings, our lives, and the human world in general.

Our next segment focuses on the great journeys of the Master across the familiar seas of this world to open to all of humankind the far-greater seas of meaning of the infinitely-greater world.

 

NOTES

[1] Bahá’u’lláh, “The Most Holy Book” (Kitáb-i-Aqdas), para. 174.

[2] Quoted by Shoghi Effendi in “The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh”, p. 139.

[3] Shoghi Effendi, “Messages to the Bahá’í World”, 84.

[4] Shoghi Effendi, “God Passes By”, xv.

[5] From Moojan Momen, “’Abdu’l-Bahá”, VI. “Teachings and Writings of `Abdu’l-Bahá”, 2., at http://bahai-library.com/momen_encyclopedia_abdulbaha .

[6] One of the most-famous and beloved of traditions in Islam, this is considered a hadíth-i-qudsí, meaning a rendering of God’s words through Muhammad presented as a tradition.

[7] Bahá’u’lláh, “The Hidden Words”, Arabic No. 3.

[8] Ibid., Arabic No. 4.

[9] ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, ‘Commentary on the Islamic Tradition “I Was a Hidden Treasure…”’, Moojan Momen, translator, p. 34 just before the concluding verses, at http://bahai-library.com/abdulbaha_kuntu_kanzan_makhfiyyan .

[10] Bahá’u’lláh, “The Hidden Words”, from Persian No. 11.

[11] Taken from a lengthier narrative. In an article in Baha’i Studies Review 11 (2003) 53–57 offering the provisional translation, Necati Alkan notes, “The hadith (tradition) in question is from Ṣaḥīḥ Bukhārī, which is regarded by Sunni Muslims as the most reliable of the compilations of Islamic traditions.”

[12] Necati Alkan, “‘Abdu’l-Baha’s commentary on the Islamic tradition: ‘God doth give victory to this religion by means of a wicked man’ – a provisional translation and notes”, Baha’i Studies Review 11 (2003) 53–57, at http://www.academia.edu/1496185 .

[13] The Qurán, Chapter 5 (“The Table Spread”), from Verse 54. One is put in mind here of the marvelous passage from the Persian Bayán of the Báb, found in “Selections from the Writings of the Báb”, beginning: “Worship thou God in such wise that if thy worship lead thee to the fire, no alteration in thine adoration would be produced, and so likewise if thy recompense should be paradise. Thus and thus alone should be the worship which befitteth the one True God.”

[14] Alkan, op. cit.

Segment 14: Crisis: The Emergence (‘Abdu’l-Baha assumes His station) -by Dana Paxson

Crisis: The Emergence (‘Abdu’l-Baha assumes His station).pdf

On May 29th, 1892, Bahá’u’lláh the Manifestation of God passed from earthly limitation and existence. In the face of powerful and bitter opposition, first from within His family and then from the Ottoman Empire, His Son ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the Center of Bahá’u’lláh’s Covenant, assumed His station.

The crisis of this transition was profound and far-reaching:

“The immediate effect of the ascension of Bahá’u’lláh had been… to spread grief and bewilderment among His followers and companions, and to inspire its vigilant and redoubtable adversaries with fresh hope and renewed determination. At a time when a grievously traduced Faith had triumphantly emerged from the two severest crises it had ever known, one the work of enemies without, the other the work of enemies within, when its prestige had risen to a height unequalled in any period during its fifty-year existence, the unerring Hand which had shaped its destiny ever since its inception was suddenly removed, leaving a gap which friend and foe alike believed could never again be filled.

“Yet, as the appointed Center of Bahá’u’lláh’s Covenant and the authorized Interpreter of His teaching had Himself later explained, the dissolution of the tabernacle wherein the soul of the Manifestation of God had chosen temporarily to abide signalized its release from the restrictions which an earthly life had, of necessity, imposed upon it. Its influence no longer circumscribed by any physical limitations, its radiance no longer beclouded by its human temple, that soul could henceforth energize the whole world to a degree unapproached at any stage in the course of its existence on this planet.”[1]

Shoghi Effendi makes clear the forces at work in the family:

“The true ground of this crisis was the burning, the uncontrollable, the soul-festering jealousy which the admitted preeminence of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in rank, power, ability, knowledge and virtue, above all the other members of His Father’s family, had aroused not only in Mírzá Muḥammad-‘Alí, the archbreaker of the Covenant, but in some of his closest relatives as well.”[2]

 It seemed to these wayward souls that the opportunity for seizing control of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh was ripe. A child who loses a beloved, revered, and respected father in the everyday world suffers a deep wound of loss, confusion, and despair. For a steadily-growing world community of believers and sympathizers who saw Bahá’u’lláh as a Father far greater than any worldly parent, the wound of His permanent departure from their midst was overwhelming.

“Methinks, the spiritual commotion set up in the world of dust had caused all the worlds of God to tremble.… My inner and outer tongue are powerless to portray the condition we were in.… In the midst of the prevailing confusion a multitude of the inhabitants of ‘Akká and of the neighboring villages, that had thronged the fields surrounding the Mansion, could be seen weeping, beating upon their heads, and crying aloud their grief.”[3]

Nabíl himself, the esteemed author of “The Dawn-Breakers” and utterly devoted to Bahá’u’lláh, found himself beyond the reach of any comfort or consolation. Soon after writing these words he drowned himself in the sea near ‘Akká. Of him ‘Abdu’l-Bahá wrote:

“Throughout all his life, from earliest youth till he was feeble and old, he spent his time serving and worshiping the Lord. He bore hardships, he lived through misfortunes, he suffered afflictions. From the lips of the Manifestation he heard marvelous things. He was shown the lights of Paradise; he won his dearest wish.  And at the end, when the Daystar of the world had set, he could endure no more, and flung himself into the sea. The waters of sacrifice closed over him; he was drowned, and he came, at last, to the Most High.”[4]

Into the sorrow, confusion, and lethargy of all those in shock paraded the opportunists led by Mírzá Muhammad-‘Alí. They wasted no time and overlooked no chance or weapon in their machinations. The list of their maneuverings and manipulations is too long for this brief segment, but mentioning three of these wrongs will give a general idea. Shoghi Effendi states, “these repudiators of a divinely-established Covenant arose, as one man, to launch a campaign of abuse and vilification which compared in virulence with the infamous accusations which Mírzá Yaḥyá and Siyyid Muḥammad had jointly levelled at Bahá’u’lláh.”[5] Later in the same passage, regarding Mírzá Muhammad-‘Alí, is this: “He it was who… had, while Bahá’u’lláh’s body was still awaiting interment, carried off, by a ruse, the two satchels containing his Father’s most precious documents, entrusted by Him, prior to His ascension, to ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá.”[6] And this: “He it was who, by an exceedingly adroit and simple forgery of a word recurring in some of the denunciatory passages addressed by the Supreme Pen to Mírzá Yaḥyá, and by other devices such as mutilation and interpolation, had succeeded in making them directly applicable to a Brother Whom he hated with such consuming passion.”[7]

The schemes gathered force and appeared to have major effects, generating considerable confusion, alarm, and schism among Bahá’ís and others alike. But ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, facing the pitiless onslaught against the Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh, against the community of steadfast Bahá’ís, and against Himself, withstood all the attacks and subversions, writing His first message to Bahá’ís all over the Ottoman Empire and beyond. In it we find this:

“The world’s great Light, once resplendent upon all mankind has set, to shine everlastingly from the Abhá Horizon, His Kingdom of fadeless glory, shedding splendor upon His loved ones from on high, and breathing into their hearts and souls the breath of eternal life.

“O ye beloved of the Lord! Beware, beware, lest ye hesitate and waver. Let not fear fall upon you, neither be troubled nor dismayed. Take ye good heed lest this calamitous day slacken the flames of your ardour, and quench your tender hopes. To-day is the day for steadfastness and constancy. Blessed are they that stand firm and immovable as the rock, and brave the storm and stress of this tempestuous hour.”[8]

In our taking-in of these lessons of history, we remember the costs to the Master, who spread His wings over us all. In His Will and Testament, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá draws back the curtain concealing the pain and anguish that afflicted Him throughout His life:

“Sore trials have compassed me round and perils have from all sides beset me. Thou seest me immersed in a sea of unsurpassed tribulation, sunk into a fathomless abyss, afflicted by mine enemies and consumed with the flame of their hate, enkindled by my kinsmen with whom Thou didst make Thy strong Covenant and Thy firm Testament, wherein Thou biddest them turn their hearts to this wronged one, to keep away from me the foolish, the unjust, and refer unto this lonely one all that about which they differ in Thy Holy Book, so that the Truth may be revealed unto them, their doubts may be dispelled and Thy manifest Signs be spread abroad.”[9]

We see today the results and effects of this crisis: the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh, its energies incomparably multiplied by the Ascension of its Founder, stands in lasting splendor, and the workings of its enemies lie in shards and ruins. Once ‘Abdu’l-Bahá took His place as the Center of Bahá’u’lláh’s Covenant, the world began to receive an unprecedented flood of divine knowledge testifying both to the uniqueness of His station and to the vast potency of His Father’s Revelation.

NOTES

[1] Shoghi Effendi, “God Passes By”, Chapter XV, p. 244. This entire chapter offers us a definitive account of the drama in the family of Bahá’u’lláh that was occasioned by His passing.

[2] ibid., p. 246.

[3] Nabíl-i-Azám, quoted in “God Passes By”, Chapter XIII, p. 222. Also found in H. M. Balyuzi, “’Abdu’l-Bahá: The Center of the Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh”, p. 48.

[4] ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, “Memorials of the Faithful”, pp. 35-36.

[5] “God Passes By”, p. 248.

[6] ibid., p. 249.

[7] ibid., p. 249.

[8] From ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, quoted in “’Abdu’l-Bahá: The Center of the Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh”, p. 48, taken in turn from Lady Bloomfield, “The Chosen Highway”, pp. 110-111.

[9] ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, “The Will And Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá”, from the first paragraph.

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