When you call on the Mercy of God waiting to reinforce you, your strength will be tenfold. -`Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p.39
Bahá’u’lláh grew up and married a woman called Navváb, who, like him, came from a noble and wealthy family. She was kind, loving, and very beautiful. They had three children. When Bahá’u’lláh was 22 years old, his father died and the government offered him his father’s position. But like Buddha and Zoroaster, Bahá’u’lláh had no interest in worldly things, so he rejected the offer. Instead, he spent his time in prayer and meditation and serving the poor. His charitable works earned him the title “the Father of the Poor.” Bahá’u’lláh was 27 when he became aware of the Báb’s message through another individual and immediately joined the new religion. Two years after the Báb’s death, two young Bábís angry that the King of Persia had been responsible for the death of the Báb, decided to take revenge and kill the King. The assassination attempt failed and resulted in the death or arrest of hundreds of the Bábís.
Bahá’u’lláh was among those wrongly accused of involvement in the assassination plot. He was arrested and thrown into an underground dungeon in Tehran called the “Black Pit.” In this dark and dirty dungeon, Bahá’u’lláh was imprisoned with murderers and thieves. Heavy chains were put around his neck, chains so heavy he could not lift up his head. Bahá’u’lláh suffered four terrible months in this dungeon. One night, while a prisoner, Bahá’u’lláh had a vision. A beautiful angel (the Maiden of Heaven) appeared to him and told him that he was the new Prophet of God. Once again, God had appointed a new messenger. This time, it was Bahá’u’lláh who was chosen by God to help bring about the Promised Day. In all of the religions and their holy books, God had promised a Day in which all the people of the world would put aside war and learn to live together in peace and harmony (From the Story of the Prophets, pp. 39-41).
- What was the name of Bahá’u’lláh’s wife? Can you describe her?
- Did Bahá’u’lláh accept His father’s position that was offered to Him after His father’s death?
- How did Bahá’u’lláh spend His time?
- Why was His title “the Father of the Poor”?
- At what age did Bahá’u’lláh join the Babi religion?
- Explain the reason for the assassination attempt and its outcome.
- What happened to Bahá’u’lláh as a result of the assassination attempt?
- What is the “Black Pit”?
- How long was Baha’u’llah in the “Black Pit”? Can you describe His condition there?
- Explain Bahá’u’lláh’s vision of the Maiden of Heaven. Why is this vision important in the history of the Baha’i Faith?
Teachings of Baha’u’llah
The oneness of mankind
There are people of many different colors, shapes and sizes in the world. But, we all live on the same planet and worship the same God. We all cry and we all laugh. Bahá’u’lláh has taught that it is time for us to stop fighting and hating. It is time to work together for the good of all (The Garden of Baha’u’llah, pp. 82-83).
- Why is unity so important?
- How are people the same and different?
The Joy of Children –A Story about ‘Abdu’l-Baha
When ‘Abdu’l-Baha first visited England, He stayed with a friend in a small village near London. There, He saw many poor people, and in such a wealthy country. It distressed him greatly. When he walked along the village streets, wearing His white turban and long Persian coat, people would stop to look at this strangely dressed Holy Man from the East. Of course, the children were also attracted to him. Children were never afraid of ‘Abdu’l-Baha. Here, these poor children followed him, pulled at his coat, or held onto his hand. Then ‘Abdu’l-Baha would hug each child, and then put into their small hand a shilling or a sixpence. Most had rarely ever seen a silver coin, so the delighted children would run home and tell their parents about the generous stranger, who seemed to have an endless store of shiny sixpences. Soon, more and more children crowded after him. From His deep pockets, He gave out so many sixpences that the friend in whose house ‘Abdu’l-Baha was staying became alarmed. He discussed it with some of his other guests. “It is a shame!”, one said, “He accepts nothing from us, but gives to our people all the time. It must not go on!”
That same day, people also began arriving from neighboring villages, bringing their children to be blessed by The Holy Man’ and to receive the sixpences. At nine o’clock that evening, the ladies decided that no one else must see ‘Abdu’l-Baha. As they stood outside the cottage, a man walked up the path, with a baby in his arms and two other small children clinging to him. He asked to see ‘the holy Man.’ But they told him harshly, that the Holy Man was tired and had gone to bed. The man sighed and answered “Oh! I have just walked six miles to see him. I am so sorry. The hostess replied rudely that now he should go home, thinking that he had come only for the sixpences. The man sighed more sadly. He turned to leave, when suddenly, ‘Abdu’l-Baha walked around the corner of the house. He embraced the man and all three children with such love, that the hearts of his cautious friends melted. When at last, He bade his guests good bye, their hearts were full of joy, and their hands full of sixpences. The two friends looked at each other and one said to the other, “How wrong we were, trying to manage ‘Abdu’l-Baha.” Another time, when ‘Abdu’l-Baha was in Vienna, a number of children were brought to the hotel where He was staying. At the time He was weak from a serious chest cold, but the sight of the children revived Him, and gave Him great joy. Later that night, He said that He particularly loved children, because they were nearer to the Kingdom of God. ‘Abdu’l-Baha had often explained that children need more than just material education. He urged that children be raised in a spiritual way so they would be happy all their lives. If not, when they are older, they would have many sorrows and spiritual troubles. “For human happiness,” He said, is founded upon spiritual behavior.” -Star of the West, Vol. 2-4 p. 11
- What did ‘Abdu’l-Baha give the children? What was their reaction?
- What did the ladies say to the poor man with small children who had come to see ‘Abdu’l-Baha?
- What was ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s reaction?
- What did ‘Abdu’l-Baha say about spiritual education?
- What is spiritual education?
A Story of Generosity
The first Baha’i House of Worship to be erected in the world was in ‘Ishqabad in Turkmenistan. One of the Afnans supervised the construction and spent his entire fortune for the building. Many others, too, willingly made sacrifices and won the honor of helping to build the first Mashriqu’l-Adhkar in the name of Baha’u’llah. The women in Iran, for instance, sold their jewelry to com¬plete the last payment for furnishing the gilding (the process of applying gold leaf or gold paint) on the dome. Among the accounts which have been recorded is this: The Local Spiritual Assembly of Tihran decided that they should hold a large meeting for the friends and invite them to contribute towards the construction of the Temple in ‘Ishqabad. ‘Azizi, a young man with a flourishing business, requested the Assembly to hold the meeting in his house. Having obtained permission, he set about preparing his garden to receive the friends. He washed the trees and hung lights among the branches. Then he borrowed enough carpets from friends and neighbors to cover the ground, and placed comfortable cushions for the guests to sit on, as was the custom in those days. The place looked heavenly when the meeting started.
After prayers had been chanted and the speaker had explained the purpose of the meeting, ‘Azizi, was the first to make a contribution. He had already calculated everything he owned and divided it into, three parts. He now donated it all, with the utmost joy, in the name of his wife, his daughter and himself. At the time when he gave all he had for the Mashriqu’l-Adhkar/Azizi, could not have known that he was soon to become one of the richest men in Tihran.
Virtue of the week:
O you who believe! Eat of the good things that We have provided for you, and be grateful to God, if it is Him that you worship. – Qur’an 2:172
Ponder ye in your hearts the grace and the blessings of God and render thanks unto Him at eventide and at dawn. – Tablet of Baha’u’llah. P.26
The unworthy man is ungrateful, forgetful of benefits [done to him]. This ingratitude, this forgetfulness is congenial [suitable] to mean people…But the worthy person is grateful and mindful of benefits done to him. This gratitude, this mindfulness, is congenial to the best people. – Buddhism. Anguttara Nikaya i.61
Answer the following questions:
- What is thankfulness?
- How can we show our gratitude to God for his favors?
- How can we show our gratitude to our parents?
- How can we show our gratitude to our friends, relatives or anyone who is kind to us?
- List 5 things in your life for which you are grateful.