Tag Archives: Baha’u’llah Revelation

Bicentennial of the birth of Bahá’u’lláh, 22nd of October 2017

In recent years, the Bahá’í world received instructions from their administrative head (The Universal House of Justice) to start using the “Badi calendar” for the celebrations of their Holy days. This changes things…some dates now fluctuate year to year; kind of like Easter. For instance, most notably the Birth of The Báb and Bahá’u’lláh are now TWIN HOLY DAYS! That means they are celebrated on two consecutive days. These days will range over the next 10 years between mid October to mid November. Other holy days like the New Year, the Intercalary Days, the Festival of Ridván, and the 19 Day Feasts also change but they only fluctuate a little from being a day forward or a day earlier depending on when the New Year was celebrated on that year.

Now, this post is about the Bicentennial of the Birth of Bahá’u’lláh, the Manifestation of God for Today. It’s a big deal. He was born in Tehrán on November 12th 1817 – 200 years later, we are going to have celebrations ALL OVER THE WORLD!

I am just very excited about these events and I am sure lots of creative mids will be at work to make something uplifting and dignified. Make sure you check out where the celebration nearest to you will be next year 🙂

For those not yet very familiar with Bahá’u’lláh’s life, you can read about His life here and from His Pen here. He is the Manifestation of God for today and the attributes of His Blessed Person can be clearly seen and distinguished through the accounts and history of His life.

Photo credit: Adib Roy

Photo credit: Adib Roy

 

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Bahiyyíh Khánum – Bahá’u’lláh’s daughter, also known as The Greatest Holy Leaf.

What a woman.

I have just finished reading a book about Bahiyyíh Khánum, the beloved heroine of the Baha’i Faith, daughter of Bahá’u’lláh and Asiyyíh Khánum (please note that the term khánum means a woman of rank or position especially in Turkey and Iran*1), and it was amazing.

When I was growing up, I would hear about this great personage and throughout my life, I have met a lot of women named after her. It seemed quite obvious that she was a special person in the Baha’i religion but it wasn’t until recently that I discovered the magnitude of her contributions to her Father’s Cause as well as her importance in the establishment of the Bahá’í Faith throughout the entire world. There is so much to be said about her and I will do my best to give a brief summary that conveys the love and admiration I feel for this incredible woman.

Young age portraitFrom a young age she suffered poverty, need, banishment, imprisonment and all the torments her Father and family were subjected to. There are lots of letters and writings of her own describing these sad and extremely difficult times. If one pays attention, she very rarely expresses her own feelings and her own sufferings. Even as a young child she was her mother’s helper, her brothers’ carer and her Father’s dedicated servant. If you have visited the Bahá’í Holy places in Israel, there are numerous relics belonging to Bahá’u’lláh that we are lucky to have thanks to His beloved daughter.

Here is an excerpt from a Tablet He wrote to her:

“Let these exalted words be thy love-song on the tree of Bahá, 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.”*2

Portrait

Servitude to her Father and His Faith was not limited and did not come to a halt after His passing. Once Bahá’u’lláh designated His eldest son ‘Abdu’l-Bahá as his successor, and the head of the Baha’is at the time, Bahiyyín Khánum dedicated all her efforts through loving support and great sacrifice to her brother. Both her Father and Brother loved and admired her dearly and held her in great esteem. Here are some quotes from letters of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá addressed to or in mention of His sister, the Greatest Holy Leaf:

“O my well-beloved, deeply spiritual sister! Day and night thou livest in my memory. Whenever I remember thee my heart swelleth with sadness and my regret groweth more intense. Grieve not, for I am thy true, thy unfailing comforter.”

“Dear sister, beloved of my heart and soul! The news of thy safe arrival and pleasant stay in the land of Egypt has reached me and filled my heart with exceeding gladness. I am thankful to Bahá’u’lláh for the good health thou dost enjoy and for the happiness He hath imparted to the hearts of the loved ones in that land.”

“To my honoured and distinguished sister do thou convey the expression of my heartfelt, my intense longing. Day and night she liveth in my remembrance. I dare make no mention of the feelings which separation from her has aroused in my heart, for whatever I should attempt to express in writing will assuredly be effaced by the tears which such sentiments must bring to my eyes.”*3

Aren’t these the most beautiful letters you have ever read a brother send to His sister? Their love trascended the limits of this world and family life. Their bond was completely spiritual, of mutual support and utmost love and respect.

Now, after the passing of their Father, things did not come easy especially from those individuals who stirred conflict and refused to recognize ‘Abdu’l-Bahá as the Center of the Covenant as it was explicitly written by Bahá’u’lláh in His will. Both Bahiyyíh Khánum and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá made great sacrifices that included cutting ties with members of their own family. As you can imagine, this took a great toll on The Greatest Holy Leaf’s loving heart, but she endured all calamities for the love of God. During ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s travels to Europe and North America, it was her, Bahiyyíh Khanúm who was left in charge of the affairs of the Faith in Israel. During this time she did not let the conventions of her gender or the criticism of the ill wishers to stop her from fulfilling this most great task. Amazing thing is that it was the first time in the history of religion that a woman had such a responsibility, – where she is publicly and openly given the same rank as her male counterparts. Equality of men and women at its best! And during that time and in that part of the world!! Isn’t that something?

Shoghi Effendi spoke very highly of this great aunt and he loved her dearly. As you may be aware, it was him who was appointed as ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s successor after the latter’s passing. This time was one of great difficulty and several times he had to find strength in some absences from Haifa. Bahiyyíh Khánum was his support and companion in tests and difficulties, and in those moments of absence, it too was her who was left holding up the standard of the Faith and maintaining the unity of the Bahá’í world. Yes, the whole Baha’i world. Again, the individual who was temporarily holding it all together was a woman, a woman in a time and from a culture where women were not seen as equal to men; where little is known of their lives because they were spent in anonymity.

She was extraordinary. Not only did she dedicate her whole life to serve God; not only did she communicate extensively with institutions and individuals; not only did she build relationships to protect her Father, brother and great grandson; not only did she encourage the building of the Temple in Chicago, USA; not only did she manage the Holy household and hosted the pilgrims; above all, she was the archetype of every Baha’i believer.

To further show you the amount of love and admiration as well as Shoghi Effendi’s reliance on her, here is part of a letter to his great aunt:

Shoghi Effendi with Bahiyyiíh Khaánum

 

“O my sister in the spirit, and the companion of my heart!
God willing, the climate of Haifa hath proved favourable. I hope that out of the bounties of the Ancient Beauty thou wilt gain a measure of peace and health. I bring thee to mind both night and day. Just recently I had hoped to come to Haifa to visit thee, but various problems and the pressure of work have left me no time; for I want to see the travellers off, and every one of them presented a long list of names. God be thanked, I have written to them all.
Kiss the fresh flower of the garden of sweetness, Shoghi Effendi.”*4

 

After her passing, Shoghi Effendi really felt the loss. Her remains are buried on Mount Carmel, in the area called “The Arc” where Bahá’í administrative buildings exist today. Her resting place was established at the center of this significant mountain on purpose, and there is a beautiful meaning to the design of her monument. We might talk about that in another post 🙂

If you would like to know more about The Greatest Holy Leaf, you can read one of the many books written about her. The one I read is called “Prophet’s Daughter” by Janet A. Khan. There is also mention of her on Book 8 of the Ruhi Institute.

Whatever you study, I hope you enjoy, admire, thank and fall in love with her just like we did.

 

REFERENCES

*1 Definition on the Merriam-Webster dictionary

*2 Bahíyyih Khánum, the Greatest Holy Leaf: A Compilation from Bahá’í Sacred Texts and Writings of the Guardian of the Faith and Bahíyyih Khánum’s Own Letters, Bahá’í World Centre, 1982 edition, Page 231

*3 Bahíyyih Khánum, the Greatest Holy Leaf: A Compilation from Bahá’í Sacred Texts and Writings of the Guardian of the Faith and Bahíyyih Khánum’s Own Letters, Bahá’í World Centre, 1982 edition, Page 231

*4 Bahíyyih Khánum, the Greatest Holy Leaf: A Compilation from Bahá’í Sacred Texts and Writings of the Guardian of the Faith and Bahíyyih Khánum’s Own Letters, Bahá’í World Centre, 1982 edition, Page 231

 


Mírzá Mihdí – The most Pure Branch

Mirza Mehdi Mírzá Mihdí (Mehdí) was Bahá’u’lláh’s youngest son. Born in Iran in 1848, he was a gentle child that loved his Father very much. From a young age, he accompanied his Father on His exile without complaints or requests.

His life was the perfect example of complete detachment and unconditional love.

“To the galling weight of these tribulations was now added the bitter grief of a sudden tragedy — the premature loss of the noble, the piousMírzá Mihdí, the Purest Branch, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s twenty-two year old brother, an amanuensis of Bahá’u’lláh and a companion of His exile from the days when, as a child, he was brought from Tihran to Baghdad to join his Father after His return from Sulaymaniyyíh. He was pacing the roof of the barracks in the twilight, one evening, wrapped in his customary devotions, when he fell through the unguarded skylight onto a wooden crate, standing on the floor beneath, which pierced his ribs, and caused, twenty-two hours later, his death, on the 23rd of Rabi’u’l-Avval 1287 A.H. (June 23, 1870). His dying supplication to a grieving Father was that his life might be accepted as a ransom for those who were prevented from attaining the presence of their Beloved.

In a highly significant prayer, revealed by Bahá’u’lláh in memory of His son — a prayer that exalts his death to the rank of those great acts of atonement associated with Abraham’s intended sacrifice of His son, with the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and the martyrdom of the Imam Husayn — we read the following: “I have, O my Lord, offered up that which Thou hast given Me, that Thy servants may be quickened, and all that dwell on earth be united.” And, likewise, these prophetic words, addressed to His martyred son: “Thou art the Trust of God and His Treasure in this Land. Erelong will God reveal through thee that which He hath desired.”

After he had been washed in the presence of Bahá’u’lláh, he “that was created of the light of Bahá,” to whose “meekness” the Supreme Pen had testified, and of the “mysteries” of whose ascension that same Pen had made mention, was borne forth, escorted by the fortress guards, and laid to rest, beyond the city walls, in a spot adjacent to the shrine of Nabi Salih, from whence, seventy years later, his remains, simultaneously with those of his illustrious mother, were to be translated to the slopes of Mt. Carmel, in the precincts of the grave of his sister, and under the shadow of the Báb’s holy sepulcher.”

(Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 188)


Baha’i Faith: 29th of May – Ascension of Bahá’u’lláh.

On the 29th of May, Baha’is all over the world commemorate the ascension of  the Promised One of all religions and Messenger of God for today: Bahá’u’lláh. He was a prisoner and exile for 40 years of His blessed life. Throughout there were victories and crises but the Truth of His Revelation shone even brighter after every effort to eradicate its light.

Here is the story of what happened before His Passing, extracted from God Passes By, p.222-223:

Already nine months before His ascension Bahá’u’lláh, as attested by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, had voiced His desire to depart from this world. From that time onward it became increasingly evident, from the tone of His remarks to those who attained His presence, that the close of His earthly life was approaching, though He refrained from mentioning it openly to any one. On the night preceding the eleventh of Shavval 1309 A.H. (May 8, 1892) He contracted a slight fever which, though it mounted the following day, soon after subsided. He continued to grant interviews to certain of the friends and pilgrims, but it soon became evident that He was not well. His fever returned in a more acute form than before, His general condition grew steadily worse, complications ensued which at last culminated in His ascension, at the hour of dawn, on the 2nd of Dhi’l-Qádih 1309 A.H. (May 29, 1892), eight hours after sunset, in the 75th year of His age. His spirit, at long last released from the toils of a life crowded with tribulations, had winged its flight to His “other dominions,” dominions “whereon the eyes of the people of names have never fallen,” and to which the “Luminous Maid,” “clad in white,” had bidden Him hasten, as described by Himself in the Lawḥ-i-Ru’yá (Tablet of the Vision), revealed nineteen years previously, on the anniversary of the birth of His Forerunner.

Six days before He passed away He summoned to His presence, as He lay in bed leaning against one of His sons, the entire company of believers, including several pilgrims, who had assembled in the Mansion, for what proved to be their last audience with Him. “I am well pleased with you all,” He gently and affectionately addressed the weeping crowd that gathered about Him. “Ye have rendered many services, and been very assiduous in your labors. Ye have come here every morning and every evening. May God assist you to remain united. May He aid you to exalt the Cause of the Lord of being.” To the women, including members of His own family, gathered at His bedside, He addressed similar words of encouragement, definitely assuring them that in a document entrusted by Him to the Most Great Branch He had commended them all to His care.

The news of His ascension was instantly communicated to Sulṭán ‘Abdu’l-Ḥamíd in a telegram which began with the words “the Sun of Bahá has set” and in which the monarch was advised of the intention of interring the sacred remains within the precincts of the Mansion, an arrangement to which he readily assented. Bahá’u’lláh was accordingly laid to rest in the northernmost room of the house which served as a dwelling-place for His son-in-law, the most northerly of the three houses lying to the west of, and adjacent to, the Mansion. His interment took place shortly after sunset, on the very day of His ascension.

For a full week a vast number of mourners, rich and poor alike, tarried to grieve with the bereaved family, partaking day and night of the food that was lavishly dispensed by its members. Notables, among whom were numbered Shí’ahs, Sunnís, Christians, Jews and Druzes, as well as poets, ‘ulamás and government officials, all joined in lamenting the loss, and in magnifying the virtues and greatness of Bahá’u’lláh, many of them paying to Him their written tributes, in verse and in prose, in both Arabic and Turkish. From cities as far afield as Damascus, Aleppo, Beirut and Cairo similar tributes were received.

The next paragraph illustrates the day when ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was appointed as His successor.

Thus simply and serenely did Bahá’u’lláh pass the evening of His life on earth until, after an attack of fever, He passed away on the 29th of May, 1892, at the age of seventy-five. Among the last Tablets He revealed was His Will and Testament, which He wrote with His own hand and duly signed and sealed. Nine days after His death the seals were broken by His eldest son, in the presence of members of the family and a few friends, and the contents of the short but remarkable document were made known. By this will ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was constituted His father’s representative and the expounder of His teachings, and the family and relatives of Bahá’u’lláh and all believers were instructed to turn to Him and obey Him. By this arrangement sectarianism and division were provided against and the unity of the Cause assured. (Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era p. 286)

Room where Bahá’u’lláh passed away


Ridván is here! What is it and why is it celebrated by Bahá’ís all over the world?

 

The “Most Great Festival” (Ridván) is the biggest celebration for Baha’is. This festival marks the Declaration of the Founder of the Baha’i FaithBahá’u’lláh.

It is written in the Most Holy Book (p.254) that: …the Festival of Riḍván, which commemorates Bahá’u’lláh’s Declaration of His Prophetic Mission in the Garden of Riḍván in Baghdád during twelve days in April/May 1863 and is referred to by Him as “the King of Festivals”.

Bahá’u’lláh spent most of His Blessed life in prison and exile. When He got exiled once again, He stayed for 12 days in a garden outside Baghdad. This garden is known as the Ridvan garden. It was there where He announced to those present that He was the One, the Messenger of God they had all been waiting for, and the One that The Báb had been preparing them for. Here is a more accurate explanation by Shoghi Effendi in the book God Passes by (p.412):

The arrival of Bahá’u’lláh in the Najíbíyyih Garden, subsequently designated by His followers the Garden of Riḍván, signalizes the commencement of what has come to be recognized as the holiest and most significant of all Bahá’í festivals, the festival commemorating the Declaration of His Mission to His companions. So momentous a Declaration may well be regarded both as the logical consummation of that revolutionizing process which was initiated by Himself upon His return from Sulaymáníyyih, and as a prelude to the final proclamation of that same Mission to the world and its rulers from Adrianople.

All the Messengers of the past had been announcing His coming and in diverse Holy Scriptures we can find mention of Bahá’u’lláh’s Dispensation. For instance, Jesus Christ said He would return in the Name f the Glory of the Father – see how Bahá’u’lláh means “The Glory of God”. Shoghi Effendi in God Passes By (p.412) wrote:

He Who in such dramatic circumstances was made to sustain the overpowering weight of so glorious a Mission was none other than the One Whom posterity will acclaim, and Whom innumerable followers already recognize, as the Judge, the Lawgiver and Redeemer of all mankind, as the Organizer of the entire planet, as the Unifier of the children of men, as the Inaugurator of the long-awaited millennium, as the Originator of a new “Universal Cycle,” as the Establisher of the Most Great Peace, as the Fountain of the Most Great Justice, as the Proclaimer of the coming of age of the entire human race, as the Creator of a new World Order, and as the Inspirer and Founder of a world civilization.

To Israel He was neither more nor less than the incarnation of the “Everlasting Father,” the “Lord of Hosts” come down “with ten thousands of saints”; to Christendom Christ returned “in the glory of the Father,” to Shí’ah Islám the return of the Imám Ḥusayn; to Sunní Islám the descent of the “Spirit of God” (Jesus Christ); to the Zoroastrians the promised Sháh-Bahrám; to the Hindus the reincarnation of Krishna; to the Buddhists the fifth Buddha.

Baha’is all over the world not only celebrate the 20th or 21st of April as the beginning of this 12 day festival but the 9th day and the 12th day also are observed as Holy Days which means we take permission from work/school and celebrate this momentous occasion. Furthermore, it is then when the Local and National Spiritual Assemblies are elected every year and when the Universal House of Justice is also elected.

So, if you are a Baha’i, you are already celebrating. If not, join us in celebration!! For this is a day of joy and gratefulness to God for all the bounties He constantly showers upon us.


Ascension of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá 28th of November

The Center of the Covenant, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was the eldest son of the Messenger of God for Today (Bahá’u’lláh).

'Abdu'l-Bahá as a young man

‘Abdu’l-Bahá as a young man

A few weeks ago I had the privilege to attend a weekend dedicated to styuding the life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá; most specifically, His travels to the West (Europe and the United States) and realized how little I knew about Him and how much he did for humanity. His life was indeed a life dedicated to everyone around him and I don’t just mean the people He knew and were close to Him but also random strangers He never met before!

This was way over me. How can one person radiate and give so much love? Well, that is the mystery of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá!

He lived a life of tests alonsdige His Father, accompanying Him during His exiles and in prison. He was a prisoner for 40 years! Nothing kept Him from showering everyone with love and compassion. He was truly an angel on Earth.

He was born the 23rd of May 1844 and passed away the 28th of November 1921 after sickness.

“‘Abdu’l-Bahá passed away in 1921, having consolidated the foundations of the Bahá’í Faith and greatly expanded its reach. The northern rooms of the Shrine of the Báb, where He is interred, are a place of pilgrimage for Bahá’ís visiting the World Centre of their Faith.”

Overall, I strongly suggest you read about His life whether you are a Bahá’í and already love Him or if you are not and just want to read the life’s story of an outstanding man that did nothing but spread the love of God to everyone and everywhere He ever went. This is a good start: CLICK HERE.

Please note that even though it is written that His passing was on the 28th of November, with the introduction of the Badí calendar, this date now varies. This year (2016) is celebrated on the early morning of the 27th of November.


Ridvan, the KING OF FESTIVALS. Declaration of Baha’u’llah.

A few days ago I wrote about this most wonderful festival, a gift from God…but realized that perhaps I didn’t emphasize the magnitude of the event that took place during this 12 day period: the Declaration of Bahá’u’lláh.
This post is dedicated exclusively to describe personal influences of the Baha’i Faith in my life as well as select Writings that glorify this Blessed Day.

Being a Baha’i is the most important influence of my life. I had the blessing to be born into a Baha’i home (both my parents were Baha’is) thus, got to know the Faith from a young age. Of course, as any human being, I had questions regarding God and religion. What fascinated me about the Baha’i Faith was that there really were logical answers to all my questions. I was given such clarity in matters of the spirit that after studying various other religions of the world, I decided to choose the Baha’i Faith as my personal path in life. From that day on, the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh definitely influence my everyday life and I will forever be grateful to God for this wonderful blessing.

Manions of Bahji where Bahá'u'lláh passed away. Photo by Kamran Granfar 2004, taken from the bahai.org website

The declaration of Bahá’u’lláh meant the beginning of the Cycle of Fulfillment. Ok, a bit complicated to explain on this post but will be coming up soon, promise! Bahá’u’lláh brought the Healing Message of God for this specific day and age. Each Messenger of God from Abraham to Jesus Christ, to Muhammad has done this according to humanity’s needs as well as capacity of understanding. Bahá’u’lláh in 1863 declared that:

“I am the One…Whom the tongue of Isaiah hath extolled, the One with Whose name both the Torah and the Evangel were adorned.”

The World order of Bahá’u’lláh, p.109.

Furthermore, every person has the capacity to know God, oh this Bahá’u’lláh states in the Kitab-i-Iqan, p.199-200:

When the channel of the human soul is cleansed of all worldly and impeding attachments, it will unfailingly perceive the breath of the Beloved across immeasurable distances, and will, led by its perfume, attain and enter the City of Certitude.
…That city is none other than the Word of God revealed in every age and dispensation…. All the guidance, the blessings, the learning, the understanding, the faith, and certitude, conferred upon all that is in heaven and on earth, are hidden and treasured within these Cities.

If there is only one true then with detachment from our idle fancies, vain imaginings and our pre-conceptions we can all attain this one truth.

The whole duty of man in this Day is to attain that share of the flood of grace which God poureth forth for him. Let none, therefore, consider the largeness or smallness of the receptacle. The portion of some might lie in the palm of a man’s hand, the portion of others might fill a cup, and of others even a gallon-measure.

Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p.7-9