“It is incumbent upon you to ponder in your hearts and meditate upon His words, and humbly to call upon Him, and to put away self in His heavenly Cause.” -‘Abdu’l-Baha
Baha’u’llah was born in a beautiful mansion lined with trees and flowering bushes. As a young boy, He spent His summers in a palace set among green mountains and valleys. But when He grew older, He was made a prisoner in a small dark cell with two narrow windows. For two years, Baha’u’llah walked back and forth in His prison cell. Baha’u’llah then moved into a little white house, and for six more years, His only exercise was to pace the floor of His room. He did not gaze at trees and flowering bushes. He did not look at green mountains and valleys. He paced back and forth, back and forth, over and over again. When the prison doors opened, Baha’u’llah was free to live in a mansion with lovely trees and oranges like balls of fire.
In those free years, Baha’u’llah often asked to see His grandchildren before they went to bed. “Let the dear children come in, and have some dessert,” He would say. Some nights He would tell His grandchildren, “Now children, tomorrow you shall come with Me for a picnic to the Ridvan.” On those nights the children’s hearts were so filled with joy, they could hardly sleep. Ridvan was a garden filled with flowering shrubs, sweet-smelling herbs, orange trees, and a splashing fountain. Together with His family and followers, Baha’u’llah would go to Ridvan and walk among pomegranate trees, white rosebushes, and bright red geraniums. He rested on a bench under the shade of a mulberry tree. One day you might see the spot where Baha’u’llah sat on the bench under the mulberry tree. It is covered with beautiful potted plants. You might imagine Baha’u’llah sitting on the bench, surrounded by His grandchildren, saying, “Now children, tomorrow you shall come with Me for a picnic to the Ridvan.” (From Central Figures: Baha’u’llah, Vol 1, pp. 38-39).
If you have been on pilgrimage, share what you remember from your experience with the rest of the class.
Spiritual Teachings of Baha’u’llah
Sanctity of the Family (From the Garden of Baha’u’llah, pp. 84-85)
“…the importance of marriage lieth in the bringing up of a richly-blessed family, so that with entire gladness they may, even as candles, illuminate the world…. According to the teachings of Baha’u’llah, the family being a human unit must be educated according to the rules of sanctity. All the virtues must be taught the family….” — Abdu’l-Baha
The Main Thought
Marriage is important. Marriage makes a blessed family. The family is like a candle. It lights the world. Baha’u’llah teaches that the family must be educated. It must learn sanctity. It must learn virtues.
Mankind is made up of families. To unite mankind each family must be united. Baha’u’llah has taught that the family is sacred. Each family must learn to serve God. What children learn about the world, they learn in their families. The most important job of a family is to raise children to know and to serve God. Parents must educate their children. Children must be obedient and respectful toward their parents.
- What do children learn in their families?
- How can your family become more united?
A Story about ‘Abdu’l-Baha
‘Abdu’l-Baha, as well as Baha’u’llah and the Bab, had the power to perform miracles, especially in healing the sick. Although Baha’is do not teach their religion by telling about these miracles, here is one which we tell just for the sake of interest:
One day early in 1916, ‘Abdu’l-Baha and His faithful coachman took a trip from ‘Akka to Nazareth. The Master was tired, so they stopped at the home of the headman of a small village. There ‘Abdu’l-Baha had a simple meal and slept for about an hour. Then He came to sit with the headman and the notables of the place who had gathered to meet Him. He spoke to them and gave them wise advice on many problems and difficulties they had in the village. After the talk, the headman thanked ‘Abdu’l-Baha for His advice and for paying him the honor of a visit. He said, “Your visit will bring heavenly bounties and help to all the people in this village. Now, I have one more request to make of you.” “What is your request?” said ‘Abdu’l-Baha. “It will be a happiness for me to grant it, if I have the power.”
The headman said, “I have only one child, a girl of fourteen, who has had tuberculosis for two years. All the doctors have told me that she will never be well. Day after day her mother and I and our relatives can do nothing but shed tears and moan. God has not given us another child. If your Holiness would pray for the health of my child, I feel that new life would be given to her. We feel sure that your prayers are acceptable to God, and we know that ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s-bounties shower on all men, regardless of whether they deserve it or not.” At this point, the headman burst into tears. ‘Abdu’l-Baha immediately rose from His seat. “Where is your daughter?” He asked. “In the other room,” the headman answered. ‘Abdu’l-Baha found the girl lying on a bed on the floor. The mother and the members of the family were seated all around her. Some were acting as nurses, others were only crying. ‘Abdu’l-Baha walked to the head of the bed and sat down beside her. He took the little hand and felt the pulse. Her temperature was very high. The child seemed to cough without stopping, and she spat up blood. She was like a creature of skin and bones, and was completely helpless. ‘Abdu’l-Baha laid His blessed hand upon the child’s forehead and caressed it. Then He asked someone for a cup of tea. When the tea was brought ‘Abdu’l-Baha drank some of it and prayed for about five minutes. Then He gradually poured the rest of the tea with a spoon into the girl’s mouth. Twice He placed His hands on her forehead. Once more He prayed, this time for about ten minutes.
When all this was finished, He rose to His feet and turned to the parents. In a loud voice and with great authority He said, “Be assured that God will grant a complete cure to your daughter. Do not be unhappy, neither weep nor moan. Nurse her with complete confidence. Before long she will be in perfect health.” He returned to the guest room for a short while, then He said goodbye to the headman and his guests, walked out of the house and stepped into the carriage. That night the girl perspired a great deal, and gradually her temperature came down. According to the word of the village headman, within two months his daughter was once again in perfect health, and in the year 1922 she was married to a government official of ‘Akka and became the mother of three healthy children. The father of the girl told this story many times in ‘Akka, Haifa, and in Nazareth, and he always ended his story by saying, “My daughter was given back to me by His Holiness ‘Abdu’l-Baha.” (Stories about ‘Abdu’l-Baha, pp. 10-12).
A Journey across a Desert: A story from the life of Bahiyyih Khanum, the Greatest Holy Leaf
If you crossed a hot, dry desert with little to drink, think how happy a cool fountain at the end would make you. This is how happy ‘Abdu’l-Baha says Baha’is should feel when they meet each other. Baha’u’llah’s daughter, Bahiyyih Khanum, understood this.
When Bahiyyih Khanum was young and living in Persia, her Father was put in prison because of His religious beliefs. No matter how hard life was, Bahiyyih Khanum and her family followed and served Him. When Baha’u’llah died, Bahiyyih Khanum did all she could to help ‘Abdu’l-Baha. When ‘Abdu’l-Baha died, she looked after Shoghi Effendi. They often called her by the title Baha’u’llah gave her, the Greatest Holy Leaf. The Greatest Holy Leaf didn’t just look after her Family—or even just the Baha’is. She knew that Baha’u’llah wanted her to think of everyone as one family.
Once some Baha’is traveled many hundreds of miles to the Holy Land. The Muslim wife of one of the Baha’is went, too. Even though they traveled by car, crossing the Syrian Desert took days. Everyone was tired and grumpy, and some of them were rude to the woman. She felt sad but said nothing. Finally they reached ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s house. The women were eager to visit Baha’u’llah’s daughter. They found her waiting outside to greet them, but she did not lead them right in. She was waiting for someone else.
Nervously, the Muslim woman stepped forward. Bahiyyih Khanum hugged her, took her hand, and led them all inside. She seated the Muslim woman beside her, and she gave her own ring to her special guest. The woman never forgot Bahiyyih Khanum’s kindness. And the Baha’is never forgot their lesson: We are all one family ((From Central Figures: Baha’u’llah, Vol 1, pp. 100-101).
Truth Saved the Life of the Man in the Basket
‘Beautify your tongues, O people, with truthfulness, and adorn your souls with the ornament of honesty.” – Baha’u’llah
King Solomon was a truthful man. One day a person sought his protection: he wanted Solomon to safeguard him against an enemy who was on his track. Solomon happened to be carrying a large basket on that day. He told the man to get into the basket and the man did as he was told. Then Solomon put the basket on his head. Soon the man’s enemy came to Solomon and asked him if he had seen the man. Solomon said, ‘Yes, he is in this basket on my head.’ The enemy said, ‘Come on, man, this is not a time for joking.’ Solomon responded, ‘The truth is what I have told you.’ The enemy did not believe him and resumed his chase. Then Solomon told the man that his enemy was gone and that he could come out of the basket. The man said, ‘By the Almighty, O Solomon, I almost expired from fear. Why did you tell him that I was in the basket on your head?’ Solomon said, ‘Deliverance is in truthfulness. Had I told him differently, he would not have believed me and would have probably killed both of us (From Stories Told by ‘Abdu’l-Baha, pp. 12-13).
Virtue of the week: Obedience
It is incumbent upon everyone to observe God’s holy commandments, inasmuch as they are the wellspring of life unto the world. – Bahá’u’lláh
He that keepeth the law, happy is he. -The Bible
If ye love me, keep my commandments. -The Bible
By understanding the meaning of what one has learnt and practicing accordingly one… attains (supreme) happiness.” – Buddhist Holy Texts, Suttta Nipata II. 4
- To whom do we owe obedience? Why?
- What would happen in school if rules were not obeyed?
- What would happen if no one obeyed the traffic laws?
- What would happen to our social system if no one obeyed the laws of the country?