Welcome to the Month of Mercy 171
In this issue
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In a turn of fate that has often characterised Bahá’í history, the people who harmed the Báb’s Faith came to sorry ends themselves. The officers of the regiment who carried out the execution together with a third of its soldiers died in an earthquake the same year, when a wall collapsed on top of them. The other two-thirds of the regiment were all executed in front of a firing squad in Tabriz, just like the Báb, after a failed mutiny a few years later. Interestingly, the details surrounding the execution are well-documented in the official report of a military officer who watched the events.
The night of the execution, the mangled remains of the two victims were taken outside the city gates and dumped by the moat where they would be eaten by wild animals. To prevent the Bábis removing the bodies and giving them a dignified burial, a total of 40 soldiers kept watch by the bodies outside the city. But one of the Bábis, Haji Sulayman Khan, who was staying with a local mayor, was so determined to rescue the bodies and risk his life that the mayor enlisted one of his assistants for the job instead. In the middle of the night, the mayor’s assistant took the bodies from under the guards’ noses while they slept, and laid them in a specially-made wooden casket in a safe hiding place nearby. When Bahá’u’lláh heard about this development he instructed Haji Sulayman Khan to bring the bodies to a local shrine in Tehran and there they were hidden.
From then on, the Báb’s remains had to be kept a close secret to keep them out of the hands of the Faith’s enemies. Whenever danger threatened or word got out about their whereabouts, Bahá’u’lláh, or later ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, would have the casket moved to a new location. It was a full sixty years before the Báb’s body was finally laid in the ground. In that time the bodies were moved around over a dozen hiding places: under the floorboards of a shrine; between the walls of an abandoned temple; concealed within various Bahá’ís’ houses – a secret from even the Bahá’í community – until at last they were laid to a proper rest in Haifa in 1909, by a tearful ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá pictured a string of terraced gardens leading up the mountain to a shrine for the Báb and beyond to the mountaintop. Just under 50 years ago, Shoghi Effendi finished building the golden-domed shrine that now houses the Báb’s remains, and in May this year after ten years of work, the terraced gardens were finished.
Internment of the Ashes of the Báb on Mt. Carmel
One of the greatest privileges we had during our visit was to be present when the Ashes of the Bab were moved to their final resting place on Mt. Carmel. It is beyond me to depict the beauty and solemnity of that scene. Our Lord was indescribably grand. We saw Him for the first time without His fez (head-dress), His beautiful white hair falling in picturesque disorder upon His shoulders. He had thrown off His dark outer garment and was robed in a flowing garment of neutral blue.
When the huge sarcophagus was finally placed in position our Lord with the men believers grouped about Him, made a picture never to be forgotten. One of the believers held aloft a lamp, the light of which fell like a radiance upon the beloved Master’s form as He stood in the sarcophagus, and with tears streaming down His blessed Face, changed with His own Hands the Sacred Ashes from the casket which had held them many, many years, to the magnificent white marble sarcophagus which is a loving gift of the believers of India. When the marble cover was placed, our Lord threw Himself on the sarcophagus and wept aloud.
The believers who were with Him, as well as the ladies who were standing or kneeling about the entrance to the Tomb, wept with Him, and for Him too who made such a pathetic figure beside the Tomb of the One Who had proclaimed His Glorious Advent. Such a tumult of thoughts and emotions surged through our minds for it seemed as if all the miraculous happenings of the Cause from its earliest Dawn passed before our vision, flooding our souls with awe and wonder at the mighty works of God. When at last our dear Lord walked out of the Tomb He had an expression on His Face which is indescribable. The Power of the Spirit was so intense that we stood as if petrified until He had passed into another part of the building where a room was prepared for Him to rest in.
In the meantime the believers who had been working with the Master came out and stood in groups speaking together in hushed tones while they waited to accompany ‘Abdu’l-Bahá back to Haifa. Such a wonderful picture they made, especially the white haired, saintly looking believers in their Oriental costumes.
One believer had given up business and came and camped with his family near the Tomb for some weeks, during which time he had worked with pick and shovel to dig a hole in the foundation of the Tomb through which the sarcophagus had been passed. They could not employ skilled laborers for fear of drawing the attention of the Nakazeen.
Before we left that afternoon, mother and I had the privilege of drinking a cup of tea with our Lord, but as He was still very fatigued we soon excused ourselves and descended the mountain side with full hearts. (May Woodcock and A.M. Bryant, Letter to Mrs A.M. Bryant re interment of the remains of The Bab on Mt. Carmel)
Prayer to the Martyrs
O ye who have suffered martyrdom! O trustees of His Revelation! O distinguished men of virtue! O illustrious and noble ones May my inmost reality, my spirit, my entire being and whatsoever God hath bestowed upon me through His bounty and grace be laid down as a sacrifice for you.
I bear witness that ye are the radiant stars, the gleaming meteors, the resplendent full moons. the brilliant orbs in this wondrous Revelation. Well is it with you, O birds that warble in the gardens of divine unity; blessed are ye, O lions that roar in the forests of detachment; happy are ye. O leviathans that swim in the waters of His oneness. Verily ye are the signs of divine guidance. ye are the banners that flutter in the field of sacrifice.
I beseech God to bless me, through the breezes of holiness wafted from that glorious centre of sacrifice, and to quicken me with the reviving breath of heavenly communion blowing from that blessed region.
I beg you to intercede on my behalf in the presence of the ever-living, sovereign Lord that He may graciously suffer me to quaff my fill from the choice sealed wine, may grant me a portion from the unbounded felicity that ye enjoy and may exhilarate my heart by giving me to drink from your chalice which is tempered at the Camphor Fountain. Verily my Lord is merciful and forgiving. By bestowing the bounty of sacrifice in this realm of existence, He aideth whomsoever He willeth with whatsoever He pleaseth. And upon you rest the glory of the Most Glorious! (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Fire and Light, p. 30)
Gate of the Heart – Understanding the Writings of the Bab
In 1844 a charismatic young Persian merchant from Shiraz, known as the Báb, electrified the Shí’ih world by claiming to be the return of the Hidden Twelfth Imam of Islamic prophecy. But contrary to traditional expectations of apocalyptic holy war, the Báb maintained that the spiritual path was not one of force and coercion but love and compassion. The movement he founded was the precursor of the Bahá’í Faith, but until now the Báb’s own voluminous writings have been seldom studied and often misunderstood. Gate of the Heart offers the first in-depth introduction to the writings of the Báb.
Taking an interdisciplinary approach, the author examines the Báb’s major works in multifaceted context, explaining the unique theological system, mystical world view, and interpretive principles they embody as well as the rhetorical and symbolic uses of language through which the Báb radically transforms traditional concepts. Arguing that the Bábí movement went far beyond an attempt at an Islamic Reformation, the author explores controversial issues and offers conclusions that will compel a re-evaluation of some prevalent assumptions about the Báb’s station, claims, and laws.
Nader Saiedi’s meticulous and insightful analysis identifies the key themes, terms, and concepts that characterize each stage of the Báb’s writings, unlocking the code of the Báb’s mystical lexicon. Gate of the Heart is a subtle and profound textual study and an essential resource for anyone wishing to understand the theological foundations of the Bahá’í religion and the Báb’s significance in religious history.
The music of Canadian singer-songwriters Smith & Dragoman takes the listener on a sonic journey through stories of heroes and heroines in the Bahá’í Faith who chose to lead a life in accordance with their beliefs, but for which they were greatly persecuted. Beginning in early 19th century Persia and spanning over 100 years, the music touches on themes of love, courage, sacrifice, hope, loss, search, faith and the indomitable power of the human spirit.
With three CD’s and one Live in Concert DVD, listeners can enjoy an array of musical styles that can best be described as a fusion of many different genres and traditions. From larger cinematic compositions in songs like Divine Tapestry and The Purest Branch to more intimate three-part folk harmonies in songs like Prisoners and Land & Sea, we know their music will strike a chord with all.
In this month’s selection, we hear a beautiful and touching song about the Martyrdom of the Bab, called ‘More than a man’. It’s a story in song!
Keyvan Geula is a licensed marriage, family, and child therapist specializing in mindfulness approach in therapy, transformation and education. She received her Master of Science in Marriage, Family and Child Therapy from University of La Verne, in La Verne, California. She offers her services as a clinician, lecturer, trainer and supervisor to a global set of clients in person and online. In her clinical work she incorporates the wisdom of the Baha’i Writings, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy approach, Mindfulness techniques, and John Gottman’s approach in couple’s therapy.
To contact her: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Our Readers Write
The Benefit of Hope
I always look forward to reading your monthly editions. Regarding contentment, I would like to suggest another step which plays an important part in my own well-being: Something to the effect of replacing expectation with hope. Hard to be content when one has expectations, but not if one has hopes even tons of hope. Sorry I am not being eloquent, just wanted to share what has been very important in my own ongoing spiritual journey. Thanks. Robert Moshrefzadeh
Thanks so much for the note of encouragement, Robert! It’s comments like these which really keep me going!
I can really relate to your comment on hope! When I have no hope, it’s hard to be happy! I was in this dark place a couple of months ago, which prompted the theme on happiness in our last edition! 🙂