Ruhiyyih Khanum: The Prayers of Baha’u’llah

“Not the least of the treasures which Baha’u’llah has given to the world is the wealth of His prayers and meditations. He not only revealed them for specific purposes, such as the Daily Prayers, the prayers for Healing, for the Fast, for the Dead, and so on, but in them he revealed a great deal of Himself to us. At moments it is as if, in some verse or line, we are admitted into His Own heart, with all its turbulent emotions, or catch a glimpse of the workings of a mind as great and deep as an ocean, which we can never fathom, but which never ceases to enrapture and astonish us.

 

“If one could be so presumptuous as to try and comment on a subject so vast and which, ultimately, is far beyond the capacity of any merely mortal mind to analyse or classify, one might say that one of His masterpieces is the long prayer for the Nineteen Day Fast. I do not know if He revealed it at dawn, but He had, evidently, a deep association with that hour of the day when the life of the world is repoured into it. How could He not have? Was He not the Hermit of Sar-Galu, where He spent many months in a lonely stone hut perched on a hilltop; the sunrise must have often found Him waiting and watching for its coming, His voice rising and falling in the melodious chants of His supplications and compositions. At how many dawns He must have heard the birds of the wilderness wake and cry out when the first rays of the sun flowed over the horizon and witnessed in all its splendor the coming alive of creation after the night.

 

“In this prayer it is as if the worshipper approaches the sun while the sun is approaching its daybreak. When one remembers that the sun, the lifegiver of the earth, has ever been associated with the God-Power, and that Baha’u’llah has always used it in His metaphors to symbolize the Prophet, the prayer takes on a mystical significance that delights and inspires the soul. Turning to the budding day He opens His supplication:

 

“‘I beseech Thee, O my God, by Thy mighty Sign (the Prophet), and by the revelation of Thy grace amongst men, to cast me not away from the gate of the city of Thy Presence, and to disappoint not the hopes I have set on the manifestations of Thy grace amidst Thy creatures.” Who has not, in order to better visualize himself in relation to the Kingdom of God, seen his own soul as a wanderer, weary and hopeful, standing at the Gates of the Heavenly City and longing for admittance? The worshipper gazes at the brightening sky in the east and waits, expectant of the mercy of God. He hears the “most sweet Voice” and supplicates that by the “most exalted Word” he may draw ever nearer the threshold of God’s door and enter under the shadow of the canopy of His bounty—a canopy which is already spreading itself, in mighty symbolic form, over the world in crimson, gold and gray clouds.”

 

“The day waxes; the oncoming sun, in the prayer of Baha’u’llah, becomes the face of God Himself to which He turns, addressing words of infinite sweetness and yearning: ‘I beseech Thee, O my God, by the splendor of Thy luminous brow and the brightness of the light of Thy countenance, which shineth from the all-highest horizon, to attract me by the fragrance of Thy raiment, and make me drink of the choice wine of Thine utterance.’

 

“The soft winds of dawn, which must have often played over His face and stirred His black locks against His cheek, may have given rise to this beautiful phrase in His prayer: ‘I beseech Thee, O my God, by Thy hair which moveth across Thy face, even as Thy most exalted pen moveth across the pages of Thy tablets, shedding the musk of hidden meanings over the kingdoms of Thy creation, so to raise me up to serve Thy Cause that I shall not fall back, nor be hindered by the suggestions of them who have cavilled at Thy signs and turned away from Thy face.’ How deep, how poetical, how sincere are His words! The playing of the strands of hair recall to Him the fine tracing of the Persian script, revealing words from God that shed a divine fragrance in the lives of men. But that is not all. In His communion all the love and loyalty in His heart is roused, He supplicates to be made of the faithful, whom naught shall turn aside from the Path that leads them to their Lord.

 

“The sun has risen, as if in answer to the cry of the worshipper to ‘enable me to gaze on the Day-Star of Thy Beauty…’ And as he continues his prayer it seems as if all nature were moving in harmony with it: ‘I beseech Thee, O my God, by the Tabernacle of Thy majesty on the loftiest summits, and the Canopy of Thy Revelation on the highest hills, to graciously aid me to do what Thy will hath desired and Thy purpose hath manifested.’ North and south the glory spreads, a faint echo of that celestial beauty visible to the eye of Baha’u’llah and which He says; ‘shineth forth above the horizon of eternity.’ So deeply does it penetrate the heart that it evokes the desire to ‘die to all that I possess and live to whatsoever belongeth unto Thee.’ The soul is moved; all earthly things pale before the vision which, as symbolized in the sunrise, it beholds in the inner world; God, the ‘Well-beloved’ seems to have drawn very near.

 

“The winds flit over the land; some tree calls to the Prophet’s mind, as it shivers and stirs, the Tree of Himself that over-shadows all mankind: ‘I beseech Thee, O my God, by the rustling of the Divine Lote-Tree and the murmur of the breezes of Thine utterance in the kingdom of Thy names, to remove me far from whatsoever Thy will abhorreth, and draw me nigh unto the station wherein He who is the Day-Spring of Thy signs hath shone forth.’ Bahau’llah puts the words into our mouths whereby we may draw nigher to God and receive from Him the heavenly gifts: ‘I beseech Thee…to make known unto me what lay hid in the treasuries of Thy knowledge and concealed within the repositories of Thy wisdom.’ ‘I beseech Thee…to number me with such as have attained unto that which Thou hast sent down in Thy Book and manifested through Thy will.’ ‘I beseech Thee…to write down for me what Thou hast written down for Thy trusted ones…’

 

“And finally, in words designed for those countless worshippers for whom He wrote this glorious Fasting Prayer, He asks God to ‘write down for every one who hath observed the fast prescribed by Thee, the recompense decreed for such as speak not except by Thy leave, and who forsook all that they possessed in Thy path and for love of Thee.’ He asks that the silence of the good may descend upon them—both the silence and the speech of those who are wholly dedicated to that Divine Will which alone can lead men to their highest destiny. The last thought of all is that those who have obeyed the decrees of God may be forgiven their trespasses.

 

“This majestic prayer is composed of fourteen verses, each opening with the words ‘I beseech Thee…’ and closing with the same refrain: ‘Thou seest me, O my God, holding to Thy Name, the Most Holy, the Most Luminous, the Most Mighty, the Most Great, the Most Exalted, the Most Glorious, and clinging to the hem of the robe to which have clung all in this world and the world to come.’ The rhythmical emphasis on the thoughts contained in these words is not only very powerful but very artistic—if one may borrow the term for lack of a better one—and the sense that all creatures living, and those gone before into the invisible realms of God, are clinging to the skirt of His mercy, dependent on Him and Him alone, exerts a profound influence on one’s mind, particularly so when taken in conjunction with what one beholds at this hour of the day: The sky kindling with light, the brush of the wind gently over the face of nature; the whole world waking to the tasks of living on all sides; all things dependent on God; they always have and they always will be. This is a little of what this long prayer conveys to those who partake of it.”
(Ruhiyyih Khanum, from “The Prayers of Baha’u’llah,” The Baha’i World, Vol. IX, 1940-1944, pp. 792-94.)

Rúhíyyih (Khánum) Rabbani: Sorrow & Trial

There are two kinds of affliction in this life; one is essential, the other non-essential. Or let us say that one is our portion, deliberately given to us for our own good, the other is accidental, produced by a combination of circumstances….

 

 But the second kind of suffering, the form that chastens us, forges in the furnace of ordeal the bright sword of our soul, cannot and should not be eliminated. We must recognize that under duress, great things are born. Diamonds form in molten rock. The sweetest flowers of man’s spirit  have often been watered by tears. To struggle gives strength, to endure breeds a greater capacity for endurance. We must not run away from our heartbreaks in life; we must go through them, however fiery they may be, and bring with us out of the fire a stronger character, a deeper reliance on ourselves and on the Creator Who, like a good Parent, chastises us because He loves us and because He knows what can be made out of us and that the pain is worth the prize that can be won. 

 

This is indeed a power world. Great forces are at play – the sun, the wind, the rain, night and day – they are big things and do great things in nature. Electricity, gravitation, are strong forces that forge the earth, with all it’s beauty, its life, its growth. We human beings are subjected to strong forces too. Love, hate, passion, fear, sorrow, pain – they act on us and spur us on, they develop our qualities and give us colour and individuality. Why should we want to shun and abolish some of the factors that bring out the best in us, that temper our steel, that teach us to value happiness at its true worth? Can a man who has never been hungry in all his life know what a piece of bread means, savor all its sweetness, as can a man who has starved?   If we must go through life denying the existence of pain and suffering, or refusing to experience their keenness because we pad ourselves with foolish mental attitudes or psychological opiates, we shall grow to be a race lacking depth, lacking sensitivity, devoid of strong moral fibre.  The blades of our souls will become dull. 
(Ruhiyyih Rabbani, Prescription for Living, pg. 131)

 

Dorothy Baker: How to Pray

Photograph of Hand of the Cause of God, Dorothy Baker

The following recollection of Javidukt Khadem, wife of the Hand of the Cause Zikrullah Khadem, describes part of a road trip she took with Hand of the Cause Dorothy Baker. The story leads to a description of how Dorothy Baker prepared for obligatory prayer. Read more

Tricia Hague-Barrett: Meeting the Hand of the Cause, Dr. Rahmatu’lláh Muhajir (Part2)

Dr. Raḥmatu’lláh Muhájir (Arabic: رحمةالله مُهاجر‎‎‎; 4 April 1923 – 1979) was a prominent fourth-generation Bahá’í, born in ‘Abdu’l-‘Azím, Iran.  Following is a memory of Dr. Muhajir’s visit to my home in Palmerston North, New Zealand in the 1970’s.  

 

 

This quotation from Bahá’u’lláh always reminds me of this gentle soul.

 

“Whoso ariseth to teach Our Cause must needs detach himself from all
earthly things, and regard, at all times, the triumph of Our Faith as
his supreme objective. This hath, verily, been decreed in the Guarded
Tablet. And when he determineth to leave his home, for the sake of the
Cause of his Lord, let him put his whole trust in God, as the best
provision for his journey, and array himself with the robe of
virtue.
Thus hath it been decreed by God, the Almighty, the All-Praised.


“If he be kindled with the fire of His love, if he forgoeth all created things,
the words he uttereth shall set on fire them that hear him. Verily,
thy Lord is the Omniscient, the All-Informed. Happy is the man that
hath heard Our 
voice
, and answered Our call. He, in truth, is of them
that shall be brought nigh unto Us.”
 (Bahá’u’lláah, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 334)

 

My Story Begins
I do not remember collecting The Hand of the Cause, Dr. Muhájir,  from the airport in Palmerston North back in the 70’s, though I did pick him up. Nor do I remember how long He was in Palmerston North or anything about community meetings held during his visit with us.  I had married a man who was in opposition to the Faith, (unfortunately I was not aware of this before I married him). I was living at 220 College Street, Palmerston North, and across the road was the famous Hedge House, where several Bahá’í youth were resident.  I was forbidden to have anything to do with the Faith, was monitored on any phone calls about the Faith, and could not receive National Newsletters.  I was on the LSA, but could not attend meetings, however, what does stand out for me, was on the day that he and some other friends visited me at my home.  Out of the blue, they had picked him up and brought him to see me. During the course of the visit, he asked me, about my life, which I shared, and then he asked me a question.  “Is there something in this house that should not be here?” Apart from my husband, I could not think of a single thing for heaven’s sake, I was stumped for words for a few minutes. What on earth could He mean?  He repeated the question, and I was trying hard to think.

   
Suddenly I remembered. Oh gosh, How did he know?” I wondered. So, I related to him what I had done as Secretary to protect the Bahá’ís in our community. It seems I had indeed forgotten about it. So, as nervous as I was, I informed him, that about 6 months earlier, I had heard that there was a covenant breakers book donated to the Public Library. I figured that I would have to go and get rid of it. I rushed to the Library, and took the book off the shelf, checked it out with the Librarian and took it home without opening it.  I wrapped it up in several layers of old newspapers, cardboard, and wrapping the whole thing in a bit of old sackcloth, I tied it with string, in many different ways, and threw it under my bed where it could gather dust bunnies to its heart’s content, and hopefully be thought of no more. Now, here I was being asked about “something here that should not be here,” and I was terrified of being smacked over the knuckles for having done so. Instead, he asked me to go and get it, unwrap it, take it straight back to the Library, pay the fines, and leave it there.

 

The next day I did exactly that. With His words ringing in my ears, “More people will become Bahá’ís through that book, than any other,”  I returned it to the Library.   There was much more that he said to me, but alas, I cannot remember anything but this sentence. However, from my understanding, he implied, that people would soon see truth from error when they investigated further. I paid about $16 dollars in late fees, then left it in God’s hands, as obviously, it was not my job to protect the Bahá’ís from these insidious and disunifying forces.

 

For the following few weeks, things seem to be much easier for me; whether it was a direct result of having gotten “rid” of the book off my premises or not I can only surmise. Until I did this, however, I am now sure that it was the cause of much pain and suffering. Thank God I never read it.

 

Prayer for The Hands of the Cause

“Light and glory, greeting and praise be upon the Hands of His Cause, through whom the light of fortitude hath shone forth and the truth hath been established that the authority to choose rests with God, the Powerful, the Mighty, the Unconstrained, through whom the ocean of bounty hath surged and the fragrance of the gracious favors of God, the Lord of mankind, hath been diffused.  We beseech Him—exalted is He—to shield them through the power of His hosts, to protect them through the potency of His dominion, and to aid them through His indomitable strength which prevaileth over all created things.  Sovereignty is God’s, the Creator of the heavens and the Lord of the Kingdom of Names.” (Bahá’u’lláh, Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh, pg. 83, ‘Lawh-I-Dunyá’ [Tablet of the World])

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