Turn all your thoughts toward bringing joy to hearts. Beware! Beware! lest ye offend any heart. -Abdu’l-Baha
The Childhood of the Bab
On October 20, 1819, in the Persian town of Shiraz, a special Child was born. The Child’s father was Siyyid Muhammad-Rida and His mother was Fatimih-Bagum. The family lived in a modest home, and the father was a merchant. The birth of this Child was a most blessed event, a time for joy and celebration, because He was their only child. But something else made this event special. Both the mother and the father believed in their hearts that this Child would have a great purpose in life. Therefore, they gave Him a special name- Ali-Muhammad. They named Him Muhammad because the Prophet of their religion of Islam was named Muhammad. They named the infant ‘Ali after the first Imam or leader of Islam. And there was something else that would be special about the Boy’s name. The Boy’s father, Muhammad-Rida, was called a siyyid, a title that meant he was descended from the Prophet Muhammad. So when the Child came of age He, too, would have this title. He would be called Siyyid ‘Ali-Muhammad, and later, Siyyid-i-Bab.
The family was humble, and it was very spiritual. The Child’s mother and father were both descended from Imam Husayn, the third Imam or leader of Islam. Thus the name of the Child, Siyyid Ali-Muhammad was a sign of His close spiritual relationship to the Muslim religion. Because of the mission that God had given this Child, the Boy would grow up to become known as “the Bab,” which means “the Gate.” He would become known as “the Gate” because in 1844, at the age of 24, He would tell the world about the special mission God had for Him: He was supposed to prepare everyone for the coming of the Prophet who would change the entire world. This new Prophet was to be named Baha’u’llah, the same Prophet who became the Founder of the Baha’i Faith. But even while still a Child and later as a young Boy, ‘Ali-Muhammad was aware that He had a special purpose in life. Everyone around Him also knew He was special, especially His family. Sadly, when the Boy was nine years old, His beloved father, Muhammad-Rida, passed away. But His loving mother, Fatimih-Bagum, received help from her three brothers in teaching and taking care of her precious Child, especially from Haji Mirza ‘Ali who played the most important role in helping to raise the Boy. He was later one of the first to recognize the special mission that God had given his Nephew (The Central Figures: The Bab, Vol. one).
- When and where was the Bab born?
- What is the name of the Bab’s father?
- What is the name of the Bab’s mother?
- Did the Bab have any brothers and sisters?
- Who were Muhammad and Ali in the religion of Islam?
- What is the meaning of the title siyyid in Islam?
- What is the meaning of the word “the Bab” in our religion?
- At what age did the Bab lose His father?
- Who helped the Bab’s mother in raising the Bab after the passing of His father?
- What is special about the Bab’s uncle, Haji Mirza ‘Ali?
Spiritual Teachings of Baha’u’llah
The Oneness of the Prophets
God wanted to make Himself known to us. Once about every thousand years He sends one of His Messengers. God is like the Sun. These Messengers are like the rays of the sun. The rays bring the light of the sun. However, the rays are not the sun itself. The Messengers are not God Himself. The light each Messenger brings is the same light. It comes from the same sun. This light is the spiritual teachings each Messenger brings. The spiritual teachings of all the Messengers of God are the same. For example, there is one God; there is life after death; we come closer to God through prayer. Only the way each Messenger explains these spiritual teachings is different. The Messenger of God for today is Baha’u’llah (The Garden of Baha’u’llah, pp. 64-5).
Questions for discussion:
Why does God send us His Messengers?
- How is God different from His Messengers?
- What are some of the spiritual teachings that the Messengers of God bring to humanity?
- Who is the Messenger of God for our time?
The Black Rose- A Story about ‘Abdu’l-Baha
A long time ago, long before you were born, ‘Abdu’l-Baha came to America. While He was on His trip to America, He spoke to many different people … men and women and children. He went to many cities – to churches and temples and parks and meetings and houses to tell people about the Baha’i Faith. He spoke to young people and old people and black people and white people and tall people and short people and rich people and poor people… He told them all about Baha’u’llah.
Wherever ‘Abdu’l-Baha went, many Baha’is went with Him. They were Baha’is of all kinds – Persians in Persian clothes, and Americans in American clothes, tall Baha’is and short Baha’is and rich Baha’is and poor Baha’is and old Baha’is and young Baha’is. And all colors – white and yellow and tan and brown and black. Once, while ‘Abdu’l-Baha was in New York, He went to a place where many poor people lived, to tell them about Baha’u’llah. This place was called the Bowery. Many Baha’is went to the Bowery with ‘Abdu’l-Baha. As they walked down the streets, some people stared at them because they were so different. Soon some of the children started shouting and laughing. They thought that it was funny to see so many different kinds of people together. And, of course, they didn’t know who ‘Abdu’l-Baha was. Some of the boys called names and some even threw sticks at ‘Abdu’l-Baha and the Baha’is as they walked down the streets.
Mrs. Kinney was one of the Baha’is with ‘Abdu’l-Baha. ‘Abdu’l-Baha was staying at her house in New York. It made her sad to see the boys laughing and shouting at ‘Abdu’l-Baha. So, she went over to speak to the children. She told the boys who ‘Abdu’l-Baha was. She said that He was a very Holy Man. He had spent many years in prison and had suffered very much, just because He told the Truth and loved all men. Now He was going to a meeting to tell poor people about Baha’u’llah. The boys were sorry for what they had done. “Can’t we go to the meeting, too?” they asked. “No,” Mrs. Kinney said that was impossible. But, since ‘Abdu’l-Baha was staying at her house, they could come there on Sunday to meet Him. She gave the boys her address, but she didn’t really think that they would come. When Sunday came, the children arrived at Mrs. Kinney’s house dressed up in their very best clothes. She was very surprised to see them. But, she was very happy that they had come to meet ‘Abdu’l-Baha. All the boys came into the house. They went up the stairs and walked into a large room. ‘Abdu’l-Baha was standing at the door. He was smiling and laughing because He liked children very much. He met each one of the boys as they came into His room. He shook their hands and put his arm around their shoulders. His smiles and laughter made them all very happy.
The last child to come into the room was a little black boy. When Abdu’l-Baha saw him, He was even happier than before. In a loud voice He said that here was a black rose. ‘Abdu’l-Baha said these words because he was so happy to see the last little boy. And, this made the little boy very happy, too. Now, there is really no such thing as a black rose. Most roses are red or yellow or pink or white. But, people say that if there ever were a black rose that it would be the most beautiful flower of all. You know that some children are red or yellow or pink or white, too. And, some children are brown or tan or black. All of them are like beautiful flowers. ‘Abdu’l-Baha loved to be with children of different colors. That is why He was so happy to see the last little boy who came into the room – because he was different from all the others.
When His visitors had arrived, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had sent out for some candy and now it appeared, a great five- pound box of expensive mixed chocolates. It was unwrapped and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá walked with it around the circle of boys, dipping His hand into the box and placing a large handful in the hands of each, with a word and smile for everyone. He then returned to the table at which He had been sitting, and laying down the box, which now had only a few pieces in it, He picked from it a long chocolate nougat; it was very black. He looked at it a moment and then around at the group of boys who were watching Him intently and expectantly. Without a word He walked across the room to where the black boy was sitting, and, still without speaking, but with a humorously piercing glance that swept the group, laid the chocolate against the black cheek. His face was radiant as He laid His arm around the shoulder of the boy and that radiance seemed to fill the room. No words were necessary to convey His meaning, and there could be no doubt that all the boys caught it. You see, He seemed to say, that he is not only a black flower, but also a black sweet. You eat black chocolates and find them good: perhaps you would find this black brother of yours good also if you once taste his sweetness.
Again that awed hush fell upon the room. Again the boys all looked with real wonder at the black boy as if they had never seen him before, which indeed was true. And as for the boy himself, upon whom all eyes were now fixed, he seemed perfectly unconscious of all but ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Upon Him his eyes were fastened with an adoring, blissful look such as I had never seen upon any face. For the moment he was transformed. The reality of his being had been brought to the surface and the angel he really was revealed.
Why did the children shout and laugh when they saw ‘Abdu’l-Baha’ and the Baha’is who were with Him?
- Where did ‘Abdu’l-Baha’ stay in New York?
- What did Mrs. Kinney say to the children about ‘Abdu’l-Baha’?
- Where did the children go on Sunday?
- What did ‘Abdu’l-Baha’ do when He saw the children on Sunday?
- What did ‘Abdu’l-Baha’ call the little black boy?
- What did ‘Abdu’l-Baha’ do with the box of candy?
Virtue of the week:
Deal ye one with another with the utmost love and harmony, with friendliness and fellowship. –Baha’u’llah
- What is co-operation?
- Why is co-operation important?
- In how many situations can we co-operate?
- In team games, what is one feature of the winning side?