Tag Archives: spiritual

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

 


The nine pointed star found on an algae? Very interesting!

Here below you can read the article published in the Journal of Cell Science, 16:3, page 552 Cambridge University Press, 1974-12; it was written by T. Cavalier-Smith and called Nine-Pointed star in microscopic images of the algae Chlamydomonas. We found it here. Enjoy!

These images are cross-section views of the flagella of the algae chlamydomonas. These are magnified by an electron microscope 120,000 times. They have a remarkable similarity to the 9-pointed star symbolic of the Bahá’í Faith, and further the tip of each star appears like the Arabic letter , familiar to Bahá’ís from the ringstone symbol.



Image one
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Image two
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Entire page
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Legend, from page 552:

  1. Transverse section through the distal part of the transitional region. That part of the annular connexion lying between the outer doublets and the membrane is not homogeneous but contains densities placed in pairs (arrows) opposite each doublet outer projection. x120,000
  2. Transverse section through the proximal part of the transitional region’s basal cylindar. Doublet outer projections and paired densities are present, and B-tubules knobs can be seen clearly in places (arrows). The flagellar surface coat is very well preserved. x120,000

This article and evidence makes me think of this part of a Bahá’í prayer written by Bahá’u’lláh:

Glorified art Thou, O Lord my God! My tongue, both the tongue of my body and the tongue of my heart, my limbs and members, every pulsating vein within me, every hair of my head, all proclaim that Thou art God, and that there is none other God beside Thee.


Prayer for the dead. From the Bahá’í Writings.

Death is a natural part of life. When a loved one passes onto the next world, we are reminded of how this fleeting world means nothing and how all our material possessions and worries are vain and irrelevant. Constantly remembering them in our daily prayers, undertaking charity work on their behalf and giving to the Bahá’í fund (for Bahá’ís only) on their name are just some things we can do while still on this Earth to help the souls of those that have departed progress in all the worlds of God.

This is a beautiful prayer from the Bahá’í Writings written by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá for the dead:

O my God! O Thou forgiver of sins, bestower of gifts, dispeller of afflictions! Verily, I beseech Thee to forgive the sins of such as have abandoned the physical garment and have ascended to the spiritual world.

O my Lord! Purify them from trespasses, dispel their sorrows, and change their darkness into light. Cause them to enter the garden of happiness, cleanse them with the most pure water, and grant them to behold Thy splendours on the loftiest mount.


Why as a Bahá’í I don’t celebrate Christmas the traditional way?

To me, the answer is very simple but once again, let’s go back in history and my beliefs a little.

Baha’is believe in something called “progressive revelation”. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said:

Religion is the outer expression of the divine reality. Therefore it must be living, vitalized, moving and progressive. If it be without motion and non-progressive it is without the divine life; it is dead. The divine institutes are continuously active and evolutionary; therefore the revelation of them must be progressive and continuous.

Religion is ONE and progressive. All Messengers of God have come from God and come praising the Last and the Next. They do not come to humanity and dismiss what has already been revealed; they rather come and exalt the position of the previous Messenger and His Teachings and Laws and build upon the spiritual laws (those that don’t change like killing is forbidden and God is one) and add more that are appropriate for our time and age as well as bringing to us changes to those social laws we are so in need of. Imagine we still lived by “an eye for an eye”!! There would probably be nobody standing! Therefore, the social laws are required to change according to the needs of the time.

Let’s think of this in a simpler way using the analogy of the school and its teachers. Think of the teachers as the Messengers of God and the students, humanity. All teachers have gone to school and university and are all endowed with the knowledge to teach everyone from grade 1 to the end. However, a teacher cannot teach year 8 maths to a 2nd grader! Imagine the confusion! Humanity is ever-advancing and so is our capacity of understanding. To state that one teacher is better than the other or that one teacher knows more or is superior is completely wrong.

“The Bahá’í worships not the human personality of Bahá’u’lláh, but the Glory of God manifest through that personality. He reverences Christ and Muḥammad and all God’s former Messengers to mankind, but he recognizes Bahá’u’lláh as the bearer of God’s Message for the new age in which we live, as the Great World teacher Who has come to carry on and consummate the work of His predecessors.” -J.E. Esslemont

And the reason I don’t have parties during Christmas is NOT because I don’t believe in Jesus Christ (I do) but because if I was to celebrate His birth then I would have to do the same for all the Messengers of God from the past! And that’s just too much partying if you ask me…


How to keep calm and show love to others under all circumstances?

Lately I have been faced with some difficulties.
I usually tend to have a very easy and peaceful life thanks to all the wonderful people around me so I am not that used to being in these situations.
It is easy to be happy and show love to everyone around you when life is easy and you don’t have any worries but when the road gets rocky, that is when most of us show our not-so-pleasant side. How do we refrain from hurtful comments and actions we are most likely to regret?
How did the early believers in Baha’u’llah (and for that matter, the early believers in all the previous Dispensations) manage to show love and compassion to everyone despite their attacks and aggression towards them? I cannot begin to imagine the spiritual state in which these blessed souls tread the Earth in order to be able to do this. I turn then to the Baha’i Writings which are the source of joy, happiness and guidance in my life and search for messages that can lead me to love everyone despite what their feelings toward me are.
After some reading, these quotes really stuck with me:

…the oneness of the world of humanity shall be realized, accepted and established. When we reflect upon this blessed principle, it will become evident and manifest that it is the healing remedy for all human conditions. All mankind are the servants of the glorious God, our Creator. He has created all. Assuredly He must have loved them equally; otherwise, He would not have created them. He protects all. Assuredly He loves His creatures; otherwise, He would not protect them. He provides for all, proving His love for all without distinction or preference. He manifests His perfect goodness and loving-kindness toward all. He does not punish us for our sins and shortcomings, and we are all immersed in the ocean of His infinite mercy. Inasmuch as God is clement and loving to His children, lenient and merciful toward our shortcomings, why should we be unkind and unforgiving toward each other? As He loves humanity without distinction or preference, why should we not love all? Can we conceive of a plan and policy superior to the divine purpose? Manifestly, we cannot. Therefore, we must strive to do the will of the glorious Lord and emulate His policy of loving all mankind. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

Easy then: God=loves us all, I love God, therefore: I love all because I love God.


Alcohol and the Baha’is…why did Baha’u’llah forbid the consumption of alcohol to His followers?

This is a very interesting topic to me. I was raised in Latin America where, as in most parts of the world unfortunately, large amount of youth find that fun is only achievable through alcohol consumption.
As a teenager, being a Bahá’í represented a challenge in regards to abstaining from following the crowd and participating in drinking alcohol. It wasn’t an easy task but thanks to the Writings of the Bahá’í Faith, I had the will power and answers when asked why I didn’t drink and why I thought that a “little” bit of alcohol does matter.

Bahá’ís are told not to drink…it is one of the laws we try to follow. It is not only limited to the consumption of alcohol but anything that affects the mind which also includes drugs. It might seem difficult to some of us to explain the reasons behind it if we are not familiar with the Writings but there are very good medical and spiritual reasons why we are told not to. For example, alcohol kills the only cells that do not regenerate (those in your brain), it damages your perception and your mind which differentiate us from animals (free will), and it damages the liver- among other parts of our bodies. And well, that’s not even mentioning the implications it has on our actions and the lives of others! ‘Abdu’l-Bahá explains that the reason for prohibiting the use of alcoholic drinks is because “alcohol leadeth the mind astray and causeth the weakening of the body.”

I have chosen some quotes from that can perhaps bring you the insight and guidance it has brought me. In one of His Tablets, Bahá’u’lláh states:

Beware lest ye exchange the Wine of God for your own wine, for it will stupefy your minds, and turn your faces away from the Countenance of God, the All-Glorious, the Peerless, the Inaccessible. Approach it not, for it hath been forbidden unto you by the behest of God, the Exalted, the Almighty.

And in regards to drugs and heavier substances than alcohol, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has written:

Regarding hashish you have pointed out that some Persians have become habituated to its use. Gracious God! This is the worst of all intoxicants, and its prohibition is explicitly revealed. Its use causeth the disintegration of thought and the complete torpor of the soul. How could anyone seek the fruit of the infernal tree, and by partaking of it, be led to exemplify the qualities of a monster? How could one use this forbidden drug, and thus deprive himself of the blessings of the All-Merciful? Alcohol consumeth the mind and causeth man to commit acts of absurdity, but this opium, this foul fruit of the infernal tree, and this wicked hashish extinguish the mind, freeze the spirit, petrify the soul, waste the body and leave man frustrated and lost.

There is a picture and article here on the damage alcohol consumption has on your brain if you are interested. Not a very glamorous activity now, is it?


The history of some of the Martyrs of the Baha’i Faith

In the history of the Baha’i Faith since its birth in 1844 there have been countless individuals that have arisen and joyfully given their lives for their beliefs.
In the next few posts, I will put up summaries of the lives of some of these blessed people. However, the reader must take into account that the details of the story I will write are clearly greater and victories in the course of their lives many more than I will recount. Most of my sources will be Baha’i books such as “The Dawn Breakers”, “Stories of Baha’u’llah” and several more. I will put the name of the books as needed.
Hope the readers will find these stories as uplifting and empowering as I do. You will realize the immensity of their love and devotion as you read on.
Enjoy!