The greatest attainment in the world of humanity is nearness to God.
`Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p.147
When Bahá’u’lláh’s innocence was proven, he was freed from the dungeon but ordered by the government to leave the country with his family. They were sent to Baghdad (in Iraq) in the bitter cold of winter. Bahá’u’lláh, Navvab, and their young children had to travel hundreds of miles during this long journey that took three months. They finally reached Baghdad, but that was not the end of their suffering.
When Bahá’u’lláh arrived in Baghdad, there was already a small community of Bábís living there. Soon, Bahá’u’lláh noticed that the leaderless community of the Bábís in Baghdad had sunk to depths of degradation. He decided to help them, but he soon became the object of the envy of others who sought leadership within the Bábí community.
To prevent disunity among the Bábís, Bahá’u’lláh decided to leave Baghdad for the mountains of Kurdistan. There, he stayed in a small cave for about a year and lived on very simple food. Just like the Buddha meditating under the Bodhi Tree, Zoroaster living in a cave on Mount Ushidam, Jesus living in the desert for 40 days, and Muhammad meditating in the cave on Mt. Hira, now Bahá’u’lláh spent this time in prayer and mediation. After a year in the mountains, Bahá’u’lláh was seen by a Muslim mystic in the area who invited him to move to a nearby city in Kurdistan. Bahá’u’lláh accepted the offer and stayed in the city for another year. Eventually, Bahá’u’lláh’s family, who were desperately looking for him, found some clues as to his whereabouts. They sent an intermediary after him who succeeded in convincing Bahá’u’lláh to return. In Bahá’u’lláh’s absence, it had become clear to the Bábís that they needed his leadership to survive. Soon, Bahá’u’lláh’s fame and reputation as a great religious teacher spread throughout Baghdad and other cities of Iraq and many came to him to listen to his words. This made his enemies very jealous and they asked the government to send him away, this time to the city of Istanbul (in Turkey). The government agreed (From the Story of the Prophets, pp. 39-42).
- Where did the government of Iran send Baha’u’llah and His family after His innocence was proven? How long did this journey take them?
- Explain some of the problems Baha’u’llah faced in Baghdad.
- Why did Baha’u’llah decide to leave Baghdad for the mountains of Kurdistan? Where did He stay? How long did He live there?
- Did Baha’u’llah eventually return to Baghdad?
- Who sent Baha’u’llah to Istanbul? What was the reason for His exile?
Spiritual Teachings of Baha’u’llah
Universal Auxiliary Language
Today, there are over a 1000 different languages spoken in the world. When two people do not speak the same language, they cannot understand each other. So Bahá’u’lláh has taught that the nations of the world should choose one language that will be taught in all the schools along with the native language. In that way, when we speak to someone from a different country, we will understand each other. This will help bring about world peace.
- Why is a universal auxiliary language important?
- How will it help bring about world peace?
A Story about ‘Abdu’l-Baha
Two days before ‘Abdu’l-Baha was to leave Paris, a woman came rushing into a gathering at His home. She said, “Oh, how glad I am to be in time! I must tell you the amazing reason of my hurried journey from America.” And while several people listened, the lady told her story:
“One day,” she said, “my little girl astonished me by saying, ‘Mummy, if dear Lord Jesus was in the world now, what would you do?’ ‘Darling baby,’ I said, ‘I would feel like getting on the first train and going to Him as fast as I could.’ ‘Well, Mummy,’ she said, ‘He is in the world.’ I felt a strange feeling come over me as my tiny one spoke. I said, ‘What do you mean, my precious? How do you know?’ ‘He told me Himself,’ she answered, ‘so, of course He is in the world.’
“Full of wonder, I thought to myself, ‘Is this a sacred message which is being given to me out of the mouth of my babe?’ And I prayed that it might be made clear to me.
“The next day my child spoke to me again, as though she could not understand why I hadn’t done anything about her message. ‘Mummy darling,’ she said, ‘why isn’t you gone to see Lord Jesus? He’s told me two times that He is really here, in the world.” Tiny love,’ I said, ‘Mummy doesn’t know where He is, how could she find Him?’ ‘We see, Mummy,’ she said. ‘We see.’
“That same afternoon I took my child out for a walk. Suddenly she stood quite still and cried out, ‘There He is! There He is!’ She was trembling with excitement and pointing at the window of a shop where there was a picture of ‘Abdu’l-Baha. I bought the paper, found this address, caught a boat that same night, and here I am!” (Stories About ‘Abdu’l-Baha, p. 31)
William Sears- Hand of The Cause of God
Does God have a wife? Where is His house? Can He speak Chippewa Indian? Does He really love everybody? Why did He make mosquitoes?
William Bernard Patrick Michael Terence Sears VII asked these questions, and many more, when he was growing up in Minnesota. He was very interested in God and wanted to know all about Him. On September 20, 1912, when William was one and a half years old, he dreamed about a “shiny man.”
He told his parents that the shiny man had called him “Peter.” Peter was a fisherman in the Bible, the first person who followed Jesus.
William dreamed about the shiny man several times. When his grandfather heard about the dreams, he encouraged William to find out what they meant. “Don’t you quit asking questions and searching for what’s in your heart,” he told William, “or your dream will never come true.” William listened to his grandfather and learned. “When I grow up,” William said, “I’m going to find out all about everything, then I’m going all over the world and tell people so they won’t hurt each other anymore.” When William was a young man, he became a sports announcer on the radio. He was very good at his work and ended up on television in very popular program called In the Park. William starred with a chipmunk puppet named Albert. He and Albert asked and answered lots of questions, because William played a man who could talk to animals.
Meanwhile, William found out answers to some of his childhood questions. He met a woman named Marguerite Reimer. Marguerite told William about the Baha’i Faith. He was interested, but he wasn’t convinced that the Faith was for him. When William dreamed about the shiny man after they were married, Marguerite showed him a picture of an old Man with a white beard and silvery hair. “This is the Man,” William said. “That, “ said Marguerite, “is ‘Abdul-Baha.” William began to read everything he could find about the Baha’i Faith. A short time later, he told Marguerite, “I am a Baha’i.”
William not only believed in Baha’u’llah, he started writing books for people searching for the Faith. One of the first ones was called Thief in the Night, or The Strange Case of the Missing Millennium, a mystery story about religion. In 1953, Shoghi Effendi made an appeal for people to leave their homes to teach the Faith. William gave up his job with CBS television and moved to South Africa with his family to start a new life on a farm. These were the happiest and most exciting years of his life as a pioneer. The Searses raised peacocks, grew fruits and vegetables and attracted many neighbors to firesides and study classes. They prepared food from their farm produce and lit hearts on fire with love for Baha’u’llah.
When Mr. Sears was 42 years old, he went to Haifa on pilgrimage and met Shoghi Effendi. “I watched the Guardian with rapt attention and ever increasing devotion. This was as close, in our day, as man could come to the direct source of the power of God, His Majesty, His Justice, His Mercy, His Love. I felt them all flowing from the Guardian.” His service to the Faith, already immense, increased.
Four years later, Mr. Sears was appointed a Hand of the Cause of God (The Hands of the Cause of God, Hands of the Cause, or Hands (informally) were a select group of Bahá’ís, appointed for life, whose main function was to propagate and protect the Bahá’í Faith) by Shoghi Effendi. His work as a Hand took him around the world 20 times.
He memorized parts of the Sacred Text and used them in his loving, energetic talks. He loved the Baha’is and joyously urged them to arise to teach. Even when he suffered from diabetes and arthritis toward the end of his life, he was full of energy when he stood before the Baha’is to speak. There was always a warm spot in Mr. Sears’s heart for children. He claimed all the Baha’i children as his grand-children on the music album Happy Ayyam-i-Ha. When you listen, you can hear the love and joy in his voice. In 1992, three days before his eighty-first birthday, Mr. Sears passed away. The world misses this loving grandfather and Hand of the Cause of God. Luckily, he has left books and recordings behind, so that we can read and listen to his stories and ask lots of questions.
- What was William Sears’s dream?
- What was his TV show? Who were the characters?
- Who was his wife?
- Who taught him about the Baha’i Faith?
- What made him join the Baha’i Faith at last?
- What is Thief in the Night?
- What do you know about his life in South Africa?
- What else have you learned about the life of William Sears, the Hand of the Cause of God?
Virtue of the week: Kindness
Be ye sincerely kind, not in appearance only. Let each one of God’s loved ones center his attention on this: to be the Lord’s mercy to man; to be the Lord’s grace. Let him do some good to every person whose path he crosseth, and be of some benefit to him. Selections of the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p.3
Anas and Abdullah reported God’s Messenger as saying, “All [human] creatures are God’s children, and those dearest to God are those who treat His children kindly. -Islam. Hadith of Baihaqi
- What are some of the things we might do to show kindness to our family members?
- What are some of the things we might do to show kindness to our friends? To strangers?