“Say, O My people! Show honor to your parents and pay homage to them. This will cause blessings to descend upon you from the clouds of the bounty of your Lord, the Exalted, the Great…Beware lest ye commit that which would sadden the hearts of your fathers and mothers.” -Baha’u’llah
The Childhood of the Bab
When the students returned to the class, they had startled expressions on their faces. When the teacher asked them to tell him what had happened, they told him that to their surprise, they had discovered the Bab deeply immersed in His morning prayers and devotions. Now the teacher told the Bab that such a young boy not need to be so intense in his devotions, that he did not have to be so serious all the time. So it was that several days later when the Bab was late again, Shaykh Abid asked Him why He had come late to school. The Bab answered meekly that He had been in His Grandfather’s house.
The students looked perplexed—they knew the Bab had no living grandfather. At first the teacher was also confused. Then suddenly he understood what the Bab meant. When a descendent of Muhammad, a siyyid, refers to his “Grandfather,” he is sometimes talking about the Prophet Muhammad from Whom he is descended. The teacher knew that the young Boy was a siyyid, so he also knew the Bab meant that He had been praying, meditating, and communing with the soul of the Prophet Muhammad. The teacher thought this a marvelous answer, but he was still concerned that a boy of 10 should be so serious all the time. He looked at the Bab and said with a smile that a boy His age was also free to play, to have fun like other boys. The Bab looked back at the teacher’s smiling face and, once again startled him with His answer. “I wish to be like My Grandfather,” He said. The teacher was moved by the Boy’s reverence. What he may not have understood is that the Bab already knew that it would be His station in life to be a Prophet chosen by God. And all of Them are aware of this special mission from the beginning of Their lives.
For example, when Christ was 12 years of age, He went with His mother and father to visit the great temple in Jerusalem. After a while, Jesus became separated from His parents. At the end of the day when they were ready to depart, they became quite worried. After searching everywhere, they finally discovered Him in the Temple surrounded by the wisest Jewish scholars. He was discussing difficult religious questions with these learned men who were shocked that a Youth of 12 could know more than they. Later, when His parents asked Him why He had stayed behind, Jesus answered, “Know you not that I must be about my Father’s business?” Of course, Jesus was referring to God, His heavenly Father. For like the Bab, Jesus knew that He had been sent by God to earth to be a Teacher for all humankind (The Central Figures: The Bab, Vol. one).
- What did the Bab’s fellow-students discover when they went to His house?
- How did the Bab explain His tardiness?
- Why were the students and the teacher confused with the Bab’s response?
- What advice did the Bab’s teacher give Him?
- What was the Bab’s response to the teacher’s advice?
Spiritual Teachings of Baha’u’llah
The Twin Duties of Man
The Messenger of God is like the rays of the sun and His teachings are like a garden. If a man or woman wants to know God, they must first turn to the Messenger of God. They must know the Messenger of God and believe in Him. This is their first duty. Then they must work in the garden which the Messenger brings. They must obey all the Teachings which the Messenger of God brings. This is their second duty.
Baha’u’llah is the Messenger of God for this Day. If we fail to see the truth of Baha’u’llah’s teachings and to follow His laws, we have failed to know God (The Garden of Baha’u’llah, pp. 68-9).
Questions for discussion:
- What does it mean “to recognize the Messenger of God”?
- Is it enough to just recognize the Messenger of God? Why?
Giving Himself Away – A Story about ‘Abdu’l-Baha
Abdu’l-Baha’s generosity was natural to Him already in His childhood. A story is recorded the time when as a young boy went to the mountains to see the thousands of sheep which His father then owned. The shepherd wishing to honor their young gave Him a feast. Before He was taken home at the close of the day, head shepherd advised Him that it was customary under the circumstances to leave a present for the shepherds. He told the man that He had nothing to give. Yet the shepherd persisted that He must give something, whereupon He gave them all the sheep. When Baha’u’llah heard about incident, He laughed and commented, “We will have to protect Him from Himself. Some day he will give himself away.
In ‘Akka Abdu’l-Baha’s room often contained not even a bed He was continually giving His own to those more needy than He. Wrapped in a blanket, He would lie on the floor or even on the roof of His home. It was not possible to buy a bed in the town of Akka; a bed ordered from Haifa took at least two days to arrive. Inevitably, when Abdu’l-Baha went on His morning round of visits and found a feverish individual tossing on bare ground, He sent him His bed. Only after His own situation was inadvertently (accidentally) discovered did He receive another bed, thanks to some kind friend.
While Abdu’l-Baha was living in a Paris hotel, among those who often came to see Him was a poor, black man. He was not a Baha’i, but he loved Abdu’l-Baha very much. One day when he came to visit, someone told him that the management did not like to have him – a poor, black man – come, because it was not consistent with the standards of the hotel. The poor man went away. When Abdu’l-Baha learned of this, He sent for the employee responsible. He told him that he must find His friend and that he was not happy that he should have been turned away. Abdu’l-Baha said that He had not come to Paris to see expensive hotels, but to “meet my friends. I did not come to conform to the customs of Paris, but to establish the standard of Baha’u’llah.”
Then there is the story of a gift given to ‘Abdu’l-Baha from a poor Baha’i workman of Ishqabad. This man heard that a traveler was passing through his town on the way to London to join Abdu’l-Baha, and he longed to send a gift to Him. But he had nothing to give, so he begged the traveler to take his simple dinner, which he had tied up in a cotton handkerchief, and give it to Abdu’l-Baha as a token of his love.
Many days went by before the traveler reached London. He came to Abdu’l-Baha when He was about to have lunch with some guests, and faithfully presented the workman’s gift with the story of how it was sent. Abdu’l-Baha untied the handkerchief. In it was a piece of dry black bread and a shriveled apple. What did Abdu’l-Baha do with it? He broke the bread into small pieces and urged the guests to join Him in eating from the workman’s dinner. “Eat with me of this gift of humble love,” He said. And Abdu’l-Baha left His own lunch untouched.
- What did the head shepherd tell ‘Abdu’l-Baha at the close of the day?
- What was ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s response to him?
- What was Baha’u’llah’s reaction to ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s comment?
- Who did ‘Abdu’l-Baha give his beds to in Akka?
- What did the poor Baha’i workman of Ishqabad send ‘Abdu’l-Baha?
- What did ‘Abdu’l-Baha do with his gift?
- What do we learn from ‘Abdu’l-Baha in the above stories?
Martha Root was one of the first Baha’is in the United States and a fearless teacher of the Baha’i Faith. She was also a popular newspaper reporter in Pennsylvania. In 1918, Martha heard that Baha’is were needed to travel around the world to tell people about Baha’u’llah. She immediately packed her trunk with Baha’i books and her typewriter, and left for South America. Even though it was uncommon for a woman to travel alone in those days, Martha went anywhere and everywhere, no matter what the danger. When Martha arrived in Brazil, she decided to travel over the Andes Mountains. She had heard of the dangers ahead. Frozen fingers and toes were a possibility. So were slippery slopes, and fainting and nosebleeds caused by the high altitudes. Did this stop Martha Root? Absolutely not! She knew that there were people on the West Coast of South America who had never heard of Baha’u’llah. She was determined to go. Many years later, she wrote, “I wore three suits of woolen underwear, two sweaters, two coats and a steamer rug (a warm covering for the lap and feet especially of a person sitting on a ship’s deck), and then nearly froze to death.”
Through a winter storm that destroyed the road, past frozen waterfalls, over icy mountain peaks, down steep, narrow paths that frightened the mules, on went Martha Root. She finished the trek (a long arduous journey, typically on foot) just in time to meet the ship that would take her to a new adventure. None of her fellow travelers in the Andes knew each other when they started out. Yet, because they all shared so many difficulties, they became close friends. They welcomed Martha’s interesting stories about Baha’u’llah and His Teachings. Martha remembered the dangerous mountain journey as one of the happiest events of her life.
Martha Root loved to pray and think about Baha’u’llah. Sometimes, she would wake up at 3:00 in the morning and pray until 6:00 A.M. She said, “Whenever I enter a new city for the purpose of teaching the Faith, first, I say the Tablet of Ahmad, ten times.” The Tablet of Ahmad is a letter written by Baha’u’llah to one of His followers. Baha’u’llah promised that if the whole Tablet is said with “absolute sincerity,” God will remove the sadness and difficulties of the person who reads it. In this Tablet, Baha’u’llah mentions His “distress and banishment.” Because He brought a new religion, He suffered torture, prison, and exile from His home. Through it all, He remained loving, just, and understanding.
- Who was Martha Root?
- To which countries did she travel to spread the Message of Baha’u’llah?
- How did she pray each day during her travels?
- What was her favorite prayer?
Virtue of the week:
A simple explanation of faith:
The same way we are sure that the sun will rise tomorrow, we can be sure that God will continue to help us if we obey His laws and show by our deeds our love for Him.
The essence of faith is fewness of words and abundance of deeds. -Baha’u’llah
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. -The Bible
Rely upon God. Trust in Him. Praise Him, and call Him continually to mind. He verily turneth trouble into ease, and sorrow into solace, and toil into utter peace. –Abdu’l-Baha
- How can we show we have faith
- Can reading and contemplating the Words of God strengthen us in our faith?