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)


Mel Allen Silva: A Preacher and the Persian Girls

Mel Allen Silva: A Preacher and the Persian Girls

Mel Silva is right of the person with the black shirt and behind the person holding the left-side of the banner. (our left)

It was April 1981 when I found myself, once again, on the island of Antigua Leeward Islands. I had celebrated my 18th birthday on the island just a few short years before. I recall carrying a note in my pocket from my mother giving me permission to travel outside the United States on my own.  On that day, I took the note out from my pocket and deposited it into the garbage, whereby declaring myself a free man. That was a magical trip, of which I will write about at another time.


There had been an appeal from the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the Virgin and Leeward Islands for Baha’is to come and help with the formation of a new national jurisdiction of the Windward Islands autonomous from the Virgin Islands. At the time, I was serving as a pioneer to Puerto Rico. A fellow Puerto Rican pioneer by the name of Bob Bolta and I traveled to Antigua to aid in the election of the Local Spiritual Assemblies of the island.


Ruhiyyih Khan

In order for there to be a separate national jurisdiction there had to be a minimum number of local assemblies formed and reformed by Ridvan of 1981. Amatu’l-Bahá RúhÍyyih Khánum (Hand of the Cause of God and wife of the Guardian, Shoghi Effendi) was to attend the National Convention on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, so you can imagine there was no pressure to achieve these goals.


For the most part, everything went very well. We met with the Baha’i communities beforehand and planned a time and place for the election of the various Local Spiritual Assemblies.


Afsaneh Mouzoon, Mahvash Musaghi, Seema Aidun and Mel A. Silva (not in order)

There were two wonderful Baha’i Pioneers to Antigua by the names of Afsaneh Mouzoon and Mahvash Musaghi, who had pioneered to Antigua just after the revolution in Iran in 1979. These two angelic young women could light up any gathering with their love of the Baha’i Faith as well as any seeker they came in contact with.


The three of us had been working in the various villages around the island.  I must say, being in the presence of such remarkable servants of Baha’u’llah, to this day, brings a tremendous smile to my face and the realization of this splendid bounty rewarded too few.


One afternoon, we had finished with our work in the villages on one side of the island and were on our way to the other side of the island, so we took the liberty to stop in St. John’s to have lunch at a restaurant that we all liked; it was just a couple of short blocks from the National Baha’i Center. In particular, I love their papaya milkshake. As a kid coming from an Indian reservation in Southwest Colorado with no papaya to be found, it was like an exotic manna from heaven.



St. John’s, Antiqua

We entered the restaurant and found a table, and immediately placed our order, including papaya milkshakes and conch chapatti. The family who owned the restaurant were East Indians who we had become very good friends with and we always enjoyed their company. By now, it was a little after lunchtime, so there were only maybe three tables of customers – all West Indians except for us.


What a great memory to think back to a time when we were so young and so full of love for our Faith. I still remember that day being in the presence of these two remarkable Servants of Baha’u’llah, I remember it as if it was yesterday, their beauty surpassed only by their spiritual radiance.


We talked and laughed and enjoyed the wonderful day of service that we were afforded by the Blessed Beauty.


All of a sudden the girls looked down and turned their faces away; it was quite shocking and I asked what’s the matter. They immediately said, “Don’t say anything, don’t talk to him!” I asked, “who?” They turned their eyes towards the door and said, “Don’t say anything”. I looked towards the door and saw a nondescript middle-age West Indian man coming through the door. Under their breath they told me, “He’s a minister of a church and he always attacks us, so don’t say anything to him!” The man walked up to our table, gave us a harsh look, and then sat down at the table nearest to ours. He looked at me and he asked me, “Are you a Baha’i?” I took the cue from the girls and decided not to engage him. I looked at him and responded in Spanish. He immediately jumped out of his seat and said “Oh, so you don’t speak English”; then he launched into a diatribe against the Baha’i faith, jumping up and down shouting at the top of his lungs all sorts of ridiculous lies about the Faith. Everyone in the restaurant began to look at him, and from the looks on their faces they thought he was Looney Tunes.


It was all I could do to keep from laughing out loud. The girls kept their face turned away from him, as I stared at him with a smirk of what must’ve been disbelief, and with a sense of – this can’t really be happening.


He continued ranting and raving against the Faith, jumping into the air, waving his arms and pointing his fingers.  Then, he said something that was totally unacceptable to me and proved just how far away I still was from achieving a Baha’i perspective. He pointed his finger at the girls and said, “…and these Baha’i girls sleep with the West Indian man in order to turn them into Baha’is”. I came out of my seat, took two steps towards him and said in perfect English, “You can say anything you want about the Baha’i faith, but if you say one more word against these girls you’re going to deal with me!” He immediately took two steps back and I could see that he was frightened to discover that I understood everything he was saying. The girls came out of their seats and jumped on me, one on each side, holding my arms down and pulling me backwards. Thank God for their Baha’i behavior.



Now, I can tell you that it would have been very bad for me to beat up a minister of a Christian church on the island of Antigua. In that community, it would have taken 15 minutes for everyone on the island to know that Baha’is beat up Christian ministers.


As the girls held me back while begging me to stop and to let it go..a young West Indian, sitting with his girlfriend a couple of tables away, stood up and walked over to the minister. He told him, “Why don’t you leave these people alone! They haven’t done anything to you”. The minister started yelling at the young man, telling him how bad the Baha’is were. The girls seemed to have been given superhuman strength.  All I wanted to do was teach this guy a lesson, but I could not get loose from them. The preacher launched a myriad of insults at the young West Indian, and told him he was going to go to hell for sticking up for the

1981 First convention Leeward Islands: Mel Silva, Back row, second from the left.

Baha’is. The young West Indian man took his glasses off and set them on a nearby table, once again telling the preacher to shut up or else. The minister began to insult the young man and wave his hands in his face. The young man then stepped forward and threw one punch, knocking the minister unconscious.


The girls were beside themselves and tried to rouse the preacher. The young West Indian man told us we should go. I thought that was a good idea, so I took each of the girls by the arm and escorted them out.



Ruhiyyih Khanum and Violette Nakhjavani courtesy of

We spent the rest of the day on the other side of the island raising the requisite number of Assemblies to form the new national jurisdiction.


A few days later, we accompanied Amatu’l-Bahá RúhÍyyih Khánum and Mrs. Violette Nakhjavání (wife of Ali Nakhjavání, member of the Universal House of Justice between 1963 and 2003) back to Puerto Rico, after successfully forming a new national identity. Sometime later, I asked the girls if they had experienced any more trouble from the minister, and they told me – not a peep.





Tricia Hague-Barrett: Meeting the Hands

Photograph was taken while living in Timaru around 1987

During my Bahá’í life, I have had the honor of meeting (being in the presence of) several Hands, if you could actually call it that, and would like to share some of my experiences.  The missed opportunities, the not fully understanding the functions of the Hands of the Cause of God, led me to be quiet and remaining in the background for the most part.  On becoming a Bahá’í, which was the best decision I have ever made in my life, I was literally thrown into the deep end the day I declared. It was 10:45 am on the 21 April 1973. 44 years ago in just a few minutes from now (a whole nother story), and was elected as Secretary of the Bahá’í Group in Palmerston North that same evening. Throwing 18 bottles of bourbon down the kitchen sink, I went cold turkey and tried to heal myself from my own miseries.  I took to secretarying like a duck to water, except in the drowning kind of way.  I became too busy to be able to think of drinking, although that would not be the whole truth, given the fact that for the first 4 months, I would undergo extreme torment as I experienced the DT’s and drying out.  I would plan to go to the pub and sneak out of meetings to do so, only to find that by the time I finished scheming and planning my escape, the pubs were closed.  Typing up the minutes of the regular meetings kept me so busy that I didn’t have time for much else.  I turned the minutes into hours you see.  When the next meeting came, the believers would have to sit through the full meeting of last week.  Hahaha.  The hard part, of course, was that I took things so seriously back then.  Having grown up with constant disapproval, proved to be a huge test for me in my new life.  The laughter of the community over the weird spelling errors was at times just a little too much to bear.  But bear it I did.  Oh well, I had a long way to go. Sitting up into the wee small hours after each meeting typing the minutes, I would pour myself between the sheets at some God forsaken hour, just to be woken by the kids to go to school the next morning.  
I deepened myself in the Writings with the friends, and read the books of Hand of the Cause William Sears, “Thief in the Night”, and of course “”Wine of Astonishment” and “Prisoner and the Kings” but I cannot ever remember reading any one of them all the way through to the last page.  I cried, I laughed, and I only got up to where I seemed to be reading something I had already read in some other book, so the current book was set aside and was never completed.  
My life was rather funny actually, as reading was not my number one activity.  The only real reading I got to do, was the Minutes for 6 organizations, and reading them out at their next meetings.  I did, however, read an odd book or two, if not completely.  I read parts of books, like Gleanings, Baha’i World Faith, and it was while reading “Prisoner and the Kings” in the bath one day, that I was completely converted to the Faith.  Naked as the day I was born, I was transported into the Heavenly Kingdom.   It was the spiritual awakening that left me feeling like I was floating in the air, and it all happened in the bath on that day of days.  I had by this time been a Bahá’í in my head, but not in my heart.  Still what I did believe, was enough to make me throw away an old life.  His precious book fell into the bath and I scrambled to towel it dry with tears rolling down my face.  The pages dried slowly, me too, and ultimately the book has since disintegrated.  My love of the Faith took on a new spirit that day, and I suddenly became on fire with this love.
It was around this time, that I told my spiritual father, Mac McLellan, that I wished I could tell the Universal House of Justice just how I was feeling.  He said “do it” and gave me the address to write to.  Yet I felt so unworthy.  Yet a few days later, I sat down at my typewriter and poured my heart out to the Governing Body of the Bahá’í Faith, in Israel.  I rushed to the Post Office to mail it before I could talk myself out of it.  It would be a few weeks until I received an answer, and it was certainly one I was not expecting.  According to my thinking, they would not have time for me.   I was wrong.  I received a most loving letter of acceptance into the Faith from them.  In my letter, I had said thank you to them for being there, and other things too, but alas, now forgotten.  Their letter arrived and I went to the mailbox and found an envelope with “Haifa” stamped on it.   “Oh my God!” I exclaimed and ran inside.  I rang every Bahá’í in the city and told them, “I’ve got a letter from God! I’ve got a letter from God!”  I was so excited, and the last person I rang was Mac and Barb’s house.   Barbara asked me “What does it say?” and I had to admit it had not crossed my mind to open it.  
When I did, the very words changed me, and with my soul in tears, suddenly I became aware of just how important the Faith was.
Unfortunately, I did not truly understand the role of a Hand of the Cause, and barely understood that there were Hands for Protection, and Hands for Propagation.  I never knew which ones were which.  It never occurred to me to read about their lives, finding out about them as I went.



Hand of the Cause of God, Mr Collis Featherstone


I was present at many gatherings with Hand of the Cause of God, Harold [Collis] Featherstone, and found him to be a wonderful person, full of a love of the Faith, and always ready to help our New Zealand Bahá’í Community.  There is no story to go with any of these events, unfortunately, as I never actually got to sit down with him and talk.  He came to New Zealand many times.  I learned since of course that He was born on 5 May 1913 in a place called Quorn in South Australia, and he passed away on 29 September 1990 in Kathmandu, Nepal.  There were a few opportunities for me to have some kind of communication with him, but I always felt that I was unworthy to speak to them.  Instead, I would sit back and let others have that contact.   In fact, although I had come off alcohol, I was still what they call ‘dry drunking’ (a term well known to alcoholics) and was, of course, feeling sorry for myself.  Sadly, there were many lost opportunities.   I am sad that I never got close enough to chat with him.  I was always worried about what people thought of me or my actions,





Hand of the Cause of God Dr. Rahmatu’llah Muhajir
Copyright © Bahá’í International Community

HAND OF THE CAUSE DR Rahmatu’llah Muhajir

Around 1975-6, another Hand of the Cause of God came to New Zealand.  Hand of the Cause Dr. Muhajir arrived in New Zealand at the height of a storm that hit the country. Dr. Muhajir came to my home while visiting NZ, at a time when I was recovering from surgery I think. He spent a little bit of time with me, and I felt very honored. Possibly around 1976. Not sure of the exact date though.  As Secretary, I found out about His arrival and not sure if his plane was diverted to Palmerston North because of the weather, or if the purpose for His visit was to come here anyway, for a holiday to see His family, which He did often.   There are two stories related to my meeting Him though, and share it I will.  
I was with Shirley Charters when we went to the airport to greet Him.   His plane was delayed and so Shirley and I sat around the airport waiting.  At one point, Shirley got an idea that we should do some teaching while we were waiting.  There was a man in the corner of the room, leaning back against both walls.  In front of him was a newspaper, held high up to his face.  Shirley said to me, “watch this” and she walked over to him.  I followed to see what was going to happen, and so I could hear what she said to him.  As I closed in on the two, I heard her say, “Excuse me, young man, Have you heard of Bahá’u’lláh?” Well, I was surprised, for one because we could not see if he was indeed a ‘young man’ and by the words that she uttered.  He too was surprised, and he very slowly lowered the newspaper to look straight into Shirley’s eyes.  “No,” he replied.  She stood her ground and said, “Well, young man, if you had been searching for the “Truth” you would have found Him by now.”  I was stunned, to say the least, and she walked away.  She didn’t repeat His Blessed Name so I was left wondering if he would even remember her words.   I never forgot her words at all.   We had been waiting for about 6 hours. 


I have another wonderful story about Hand of the Cause Dr. Muhajir that I would like to share,  but shall leave this for another time.


Hand of the Cause of God, Mr. Faizi


Hand of the Cause of God, Abu’l Qásim Faizí, I didn’t actually meet, but I attended a talk he gave at the National Office in Auckland many years ago. It was possible that it was during the first National Convention I ever went to, in 1973, and somewhere in my belongings, possibly in a box in the garage,  I have a photograph of the event, which was held downstairs in the Baha’i National Office which was in or near the inner city of Auckland.  There were many of the souls in attendance.   I remember how the believers at that time sat spellbound as Mr. Faizi gave talks about the importance of teaching children.  

It could just as easily been during the International Teaching Conference held between the 19-22 January 1977 at the Town Hall.  Sir Robert Muldoon, the then Prime Minister of New Zealand opened the Conference if my memory serves me well.  He wished us a very successful Conference and we all stood in respect during his arrival and departure from the stage.  Mr. Faizi may have represented the Universal House of Justice at that Teaching Conference.




I met Hand of the Cause of God, `Amitu’l-Bahá Ruhiyyih Khanum when She came to New Zealand at a Marae in Dunedin, but not sure of the actual date of that event. Possibly sometime in 1979.  When I was living in the south island, I attended a meeting with her, and there was only one seat when I arrived somewhat late. Ruhiyyih Khanum invited me by beckoning me to come and sit next to her. During the course of the talk, I was unable to concentrate on her talk as I was in extreme pain from what was thought to be an ectopic pregnancy. She must have sensed that something was wrong, for she reached around to my back and started rubbing up and down my back, the pain eased and when I returned to Timaru, the doctor said that all was well. She always knew when women were pregnant. There are lots of little Ruhiyyih’s (named after her) in many different countries.
I had been told that I would die if I had another child, after major surgery back in 1971 and so I wrote a will and went ahead with it. I did not believe in having an abortion, so I was willing to die if need be, to be able to have a daughter. I did, and she was born normally.  I named her Felicity Jane which means “Happiness is a gift of God.”  She was certainly touched by a Hand.


Throughout my Bahá’í life, I have listened to as many Hands of the Cause as I could, mostly on cassette tapes, cds, and of course now on YouTube and have been truly inspired by Their talks.  Each in their own way has created a passion within me to do heaps of teaching.  The first of these was by Hand of the Cause William Sears, called “What is a Bahá’í?”  

Ruhiyyih Khanum: The Long Prayer for the Fast

Ruhiyyih Khanum

‘The long prayer for the fast grows on one all the adult years of one’s life until in the end the blessing of keeping the fast and the blessing of saying this prayer with it become one great annual bounty, one special privilege of life. Read more

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