It is incumbent upon thee to turn wholly unto the Kingdom of God, to enter entirely into this wonderful Cause, and to make thy thought, remembrance and effort confined to the education of thy character, the enlightenment through the Light of ABHA, and to guide the people to the Source of the mercy of thy Lord, the Clement, the Merciful. –‘Abdu’l-Baha
For much of his life, Baha’u’llah’s father was wealthy and comfortable. Still, he knew it was more important to be kind and help others. Because he was so wise, the Shah, the King of Persia, called him Mirza Buzurg, which meant the great one, and made him Governor of Luristan. One day, though, bad luck came to Mirza Buzurg. A mighty flood washed away his home in the village. Then cruel, selfish leaders came into power. Mirza Buzurg lost his job as governor and the money he had been given for his work. He was forced to sell his Tihran homes at low prices. Baha’u’llah bought back the homes for His father, but the leaders wanted to ruin Mirza Buzurg. The court unfairly fined him, and when Mirza Buzurg couldn’t pay the fines, he was arrested. When Mirza Buzurg died, friends hoped Baha’u’llah would become governor, knowing He would be wise and fair as His father had been. To their surprise, Baha’u’llah refused. “Leave Him to Himself,” the prime minister said. “Such a position is unworthy of Him.” None of them knew then that Mirza Buzurg’s son would help all people as the Promised One. (From Central Figures: Baha’u’llah, Vol 1, pp. 84-85).
- What do you know about Baha’u’llah’s father?
- What was his title? Who gave him the title?
- What was his position?
- Why did he lose his job?
- What did the prime minister say about Baha’u’llah?
Spiritual Teachings of Baha’u’llah
Three Fundamental Teachings:
The core belief of the Bahá’í Faith is composed of three onenesses. This is from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá:
“There is one God; mankind is one; the foundations of religion are one ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in London, p. 20
The Oneness of God
To the Bahá’ís, the universe and all creatures within it have been created by one single superhuman and supernatural Being called by different names in various religions. God’s essence is incomprehensible to man. In prayer, think about WHO you are directing your prayers to. Whoever that being is, GOD is sanctified from that. You are worshipping a product of your OWN MIND, perhaps without realizing it.
“The power of the understanding differs in degree in the various kingdoms of creation. The mineral, vegetable, and animal realms are each incapable of understanding any creation beyond their own. The mineral cannot imagine the growing power of the plant. The tree cannot understand the power of movement in the animal, neither can it comprehend what it would mean to possess sight, hearing or the sense of smell. These all belong to the physical creation. Man also shares in this creation; but it is not possible for either of the lower kingdoms to understand that which takes place in the mind of man. The animal cannot realize the intelligence of a human being, he only knows that which is perceived by his animal senses, he cannot imagine anything in the abstract. An animal could not learn that the world is round, that the earth revolves round the sun, or the construction of the electric telegraph. These things are only possible to man. Man is the highest work of creation, the nearest to God of all creatures.” – `Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, pp. 143-144
“The mystery of Divinity is sanctified and purified from the comprehension of the beings, for all that comes to the imagination is that which man understands, and the power of the understanding of man does not embrace the Reality of the Divine Essence. All that man is able to understand are the attributes of Divinity, the radiance of which appears and is visible in the world and within men’s souls. When we look at the world and within men’s souls, we see wonderful signs of the divine perfections, which are clear and apparent.” -‘Abdu’l-Baha
The Christian Minister and ‘Abdu’l-Baha
One day a Christian minister came to visit ‘Abdu’l-Baha to get information for a magazine article. It was obvious that the minister, who was quite old, was not really interested in the Baha’i Faith or in ‘Abdu’l-Baha. He did most of the talking himself and asked only such questions as would help him in writing his article. ‘Abdu’l-Baha answered his questions with short sentences, or with answers like “Yes” or “No”. He never lost interest in the interview, but it seemed that He was more interested in the questioner than in the questions. He sat perfectly relaxed. His hands in His lap with palms upward, as He usually did. He looked at the interviewer with an expression of understanding love which could not be described. His face was radiant with an inner flame.
The minister talked on and on. The other people with ‘Abdu’l-Baha became very impatient. Why did not ‘Abdu’l-Baha stop the interview? They thought. Did He not see that it was useless? This man was not really interested in anything but at last the minister paused. There was a silence for a moment, and then ‘Abdu’l-Baha began to talk in His softly resonant [vibrant] voice. Sentence by sentence the interpreter translated. He spoke of His Holiness Christ, of His love for all men, strong even unto the Cross, of the importance of the Christian ministry “to which you, my dear son, have been called”, of the need for clergymen to “characterize themselves with the characteristics of God” so that the clergy would attract the hearts of men to the divine life. He spoke, too, of the coming Kingdom of God on earth for which Christ had told us to pray and which Baha’u’llah had come to this world to establish, as Christ had promised.
Within five minutes, the questioner had become a different person. He was humble and, for the moment at least, a disciple at ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s feet. He seemed to have been carried away to another world, as were all those in the room. His face shone faintly as though he had received an inner light.
Then ‘Abdu’l-Baha arose. He lovingly embraced the minister and led him towards the door. At the door He paused. His eyes fell on a large bunch of beautiful roses which one of His friends had given to Him that morning. There were at least two dozen of them, perhaps three dozen. There were so many, and their stems were so long, that they had been placed in an umbrella stand as nothing else would hold them.
No sooner had ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s eyes lighted upon the roses than He laughed aloud. His boyish laughter rang through the whole room. He stooped, gathered the whole bunch of roses in His arms, and placed them all in the arms of the visitor. And there stood the minister — his round, grey head above that huge bunch of lovely flowers — so surprised, so radiant, so humble, so completely changed! Yes, ‘Abdu’l-Baha knew how to teach the Love of God! (Stories about ‘Abdu’l-Baha, pp. 16-19)
- Why did the Christian minister come to see ‘Abdu’l-Baha?
- How did the minister feel about the Baha’i Faith?
- How did the interview go?
- What did ‘Abdu’l-Baha tell the minister about Christ, the clergymen and the kingdom of God on earth?
- Did ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s words cause any change in the minister?
- What did ‘Abdu’l-Baha give his interviewer before he left?
Stories about Baha’i Funds (p. 10)
A Baha’i living in the Holy Land pledged to give two pounds for the construction of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkar in America. Later that day he contacted the friend in charge of the subscriptions and said he felt he had not given enough. He changed his pledge from two to five pounds. Before the day was over, he decided that he had to give still more. He sought out his friend once again and asked him to add another four pounds to his pledge. This Baha’i worked in the railways and he was in danger of losing his job, as railway employees were being discharged every day. In spite of this, he had listened to an inner voice and given nine pounds for the Mashriqu’l-Adhkar. The next day his employer sent for him. The man went expecting to hear that he was being discharged. To his great surprise, he was told that his salary had been increased by two pounds a week.
Stories about Becoming a Baha’i
Lecture Series (Ruth Alexander Foster)
By February of 1939, I was at a dead end in my five-year search for a religion that would have a working solution for the world’s problems and also offer personal consolation. One evening I went to an acquaintance’s house to return Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet. I was quite intrigued with it, and wished to discuss it with her, but as she was leaving for a lecture on comparative religions, I asked if I might accompany her. She said she would have to call as it was by invitation. I was invited.
The lecture was held in a little shop on the ground floor of the Columbus, Ohio, YWCA. About a dozen people were there when we arrived. Behind a long table at the rear of the room stood Olivia Kelsey. She had been a Shakespearean actress at one time, and had a dramatic, vibrant way of talking that held us all spellbound. Olivia spoke of the difference between religion and philosophy. In subsequent lectures she covered the lives and teachings of five prophets. The sixth lecture was on Muhammad and Islam. When I realized she was putting Muhammad at the same level as Jesus, my heart began to pound and my throat became dry. I was outraged! Being from a Protestant background, I looked upon Muhammad as an infidel, or worse. Only politeness kept me in my seat. I vowed never to return.
All the next week I argued with myself — to go, or not to go. Finally curiosity got the upper hand. I soothed my conscience with the thought that however wrong and misguided Olivia might be, she certainly seemed sincere. What’s more, she fascinated me. She created an ambiance of expectation and hope, which made us look forward to the next meeting. We had some grand discussions. The seventh lecture was about Persian history in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. She ended the lecture by announcing that there would be an important message the following week and we would miss the chance of a lifetime if we did not hear it.
On that momentous evening I met the Bab. I say met, because Olivia made him so real, such a glorious and tragic-Figure, that I believed I felt His presence in the room. She was so filled with love for the Bab that she transferred it to us. When I learned of His final days, I wanted to weep and my heart filled with anger toward His persecutors. It took me some time to get over the feeling that He was the most important Prophet.
The next few meetings were on Baha’u’llah (His station, exiles, excerpts from His Writings); ‘Abdu’l-Baha (His appointment, station, long life of servitude and travel, excerpts from His Writings, His Will and Testament); and the Guardian, Shoghi Effendi, and his ongoing work of establishing the Administrative Order.
The last evening she invited us all to a study class, passed out literature, and urged us to obey the principle of independent investigation of truth by reading the Baha’i Writings (there were not so many available then).
I felt it was all too good to be true, and that sooner or later in my reading, I would discover weaknesses. I did not. After much loving hospitality and infinite patience on the part of the Baha’is, I became a member of the Baha’i Faith…
Virtue of the week: Patience
He will certainly, repay all them that endure with patience and put their confidence in Him. -Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p.239
And be patient, for surely Allah does not waste the reward of the good-doers. -Qur’an 11:115
A man of quick temper acts foolishly, but a man of discretion [the power or right to decide or act according to one’s own judgment] is patient. –The Bible. Proverbs 14:17
- Can any worthwhile goal ever be achieved without patience?
- Why do we need patience?
- Can you think of a situation where you showed patience and your patience was rewarded?