Bahá'u'lláh's Declaration (Ridván) Sources



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1923 - Bahá'u'lláh and the New Era (Esslemont)

Summons to Constantinople


After much negotiation, at the request of the Persian Government, an order was issued by the Turkish Government summoning Baha'u'llah to Constantinople. On receipt of this news His followers were in consternation.

Ridvan Garden


They besieged the house of their beloved Leader to such an extent that the family encamped in the Garden of Najib Pasha outside the town for twelve days, while the caravan was being prepared for the long journey. It was during these twelve days (April 22 to May 3, 1863, i.e. nineteen years after the Bab's Declaration) that Baha'u'llah announced to several of His followers the glad tidings that He was the One Whose coming had been foretold by the Bab - the Chosen of God, the Promised One of all the Prophets. The Garden where this memorable Declaration took place has become known to Baha'is as the "Garden of Ridvan," and the days Baha'u'llah spent there are commemorated in the "Feast of Ridvan," which is held annually on the anniversary of those twelve days. During those days Baha'u'llah, instead of being sad or depressed, showed the greatest joy, dignity and power. His followers became happy and enthusiastic, and great crowds came to pay their respects to Him. All the notables of Baghdad, even the Governor himself, came to honor the departing prisoner.

To Constantinople and Adrianople


The journey to Constantinople lasted between three and four months, the party consisting of Baha'u'llah with members of His family and twenty-six disciples. Arrived in Constantinople they found themselves prisoners in a small house in which they were very much overcrowded. Later they got somewhat better quarters, but after four months they were again moved on, this time to Adrianople. The journey to Adrianople, although it lasted but a few days, was the most terrible they had yet undertaken. Snow fell heavily most of the time, and as they were destitute of proper clothing and food, their sufferings were extreme. For the first winter in Adrianople, Baha'u'llah and His family, numbering twelve persons, were accommodated in a small house of three rooms, comfortless and vermin infested. In the spring they were given a more comfortable abode. They remained in Adrianople over four and a half years. Here Baha'u'llah resumed His teaching and gathered about Him a large following. He publicly announced His mission and was enthusiastically accepted by the majority of the Babis, who were known thereafter as Baha'is. A minority, however, under the leadership of Baha'u'llah's half brother, Mirza Yahya, become violently opposed to Him and joined with their former enemies, the Shi'ihs, in plotting for His overthrow. Great troubles ensued, and at last the Turkish Government banished both Babis and Baha'is from Adrianople, exiling Baha'u'llah and His followers to Akka, in Palestine, where they arrived (according to Nabil) on August 31, 1868, while Mirza Yahya and his party were sent to Cyprus.

Abdu'l-Baha


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He [Abdu'l-Bahá] never attended any school or college, His only teacher being His father. His favorite recreation was horseback riding, which He keenly enjoyed.

After Bahá'u'lláh's Declaration in the Garden outside Baghdad, Abdu'l-Bahá's devotion to His father became greater than ever. On the long journey to Constantinople He guarded Bahá'u'lláh night and day, riding by His wagon and watching near His tent. As far as possible He relieved His father of all domestic cares and responsibilities, becoming the mainstay and comfort of the entire family.

During the years spent in Adrianople, 'Abdu'l-Bahá endeared Himself to everyone. He taught much, and became generally known as the "Master." At 'Akká, when nearly all the party were ill with typhoid, malaria, and dysentery, He washed the patients, nursed them, fed them, watched with them, taking no rest, until utterly exhausted, He Himself took dysentery, and for about a month remained in a dangerous condition. In 'Akká, as in Adrianople, all classes, from the Governor to the most wretched beggar, learned to love and respect Him.


1925 - Ashchi (Aqa Husayn Ashchi)


Translated Ahang Rabbani - http://ahang.rabbani.googlepages.com

Baha'u'llah's Banishment from Tihran and the Role of the Russian Government


And the reasons for His blessed departure and travels in exile are recorded in important histories. At the conclusion of His incarceration in the Most Great Prison [Siyáh-Chál], the Ancient Beauty and the Most Great Name [Bahá'u'lláh], accompanied by Iranian guards and watchmen appointed by the Russian Consulate in Tihran, left for Baghdad, and in the utmost health and wellbeing ascended the throne of majesty [in Baghdad].

Russian Pessure in Siyah-Chal


During that period, the Russian Consul exerted great might and influence in support of the Blessed Beauty. He attained the presence of Iran's monarch and spoke sternly in support and protection of the Ancient Beauty, "If a hair is lost from His sacred Head, Iran's future will be in ruins, the flames of war will rage, and they will burn even the stones and the bricks!" The reason for this [protest] was that some of Bahá'u'lláh's relatives worked in the Russian Consulate.

Mírzá Musá Chased


One day, Á[qá] Mírzá Musá Kalím entered the [Russian] Consulate. [However, on his way to the Consulate], the enemies had chased after him, intending to injure him. When Á[qá] Mírzá Musá reached the Consulate's entrance, those chasing after him robbed him of his 'abá. When the [Russian] Consul heard of this incident and learned that the Blessed Beauty was persecuted and subjected to utmost cruelty and ill-treatments in the prison, he immediately mounted the steed of action. He went before the Shah of Iran and insisted on the urgent release of that Sanctified Being [Bahá'u'lláh].

Removal to Baghdad


It was then that the Blessed Beauty was removed from prison and, by instructions of the government of Iran, journeyed to Baghdad. For this reason, the Russians appointed two guards so that no harm would come to the Ancient Beauty en route.

The Consul had secured an agreement from the government [to the effect that] "Upon reaching Baghdad, the Blessed Beauty would write me a letter expressing His approval of the manner and services of the Iranian guards, so that I would be assured [that they did not mistreat Bahá'u'lláh along the way]". Therefore, the Iranian authorities had given firm instructions to the guards, and the journey was conducted in the utmost joy, delight and ease until they reached their destination [Baghdad].

In truth, under such circumstances, this great service was rendered by the subjects of the mighty and distinguished Russian government. It was the authorities of the esteemed Russian government who won the choice trophy in the field of service in protection of the Divine Temple [Bahá'u'lláh], and placed this jeweled crown on her head. For the rest of eternity Russia could proudly say to the whole of humanity that she was able to win such a service, and was confirmed and sustained in this exertion. Of certainly, the authorities of the distinguished Russian government and the servants of that celestial monarchy will perceive in succeeding epochs and ages the great honor placed [on that country], and will protect the young tree that they planted in the highest celestial paradise from the whims of the world's ill-intentioned. With the water of recognition and firm conviction, they will nurture the tree planted in the wondrous heaven, until it bears luscious fruits, and many would take shelter beneath its shadow and dwell within its protection.

The author, within his own abilities and limitations, wishes to express his thanks and gratitude for the cherished service rendered in the path of humanity by that distinguished government and nation, and their benevolence to these wronged ones of the earth. On every occasion, she [i.e. the Russian government] has protected the divine friends from the onslaught of the wicked, has sheltered God's party, and the entire government has investigated and comprehended the depth of truthfulness, trustworthiness and well-wishing of the people of Bahá, and provided humanitarian support and means for the propagation [of the Cause] in that land. Through divine bounties and clemencies, I cherish the hope for that luminous land to spread the feast of sustenance for the entire horizon of humanity and, through the confirmations of divine bounties, to transform the surface of the earth into a radiant paradise. "And this is not possible except by God, the Almighty."


Bahá'u'lláh in Baghdad


At any event, in the Abode of Peace [Baghdad] the Ancient Beauty spoke for twelve years, to the old and young, of the ascendancy and sovereignty of the Divine Cause. The prestige and might of His blessed Person became evident unto all, in such wise that fear and trepidation of His sacred Self quivered in every heart.

At that time, there were no more than forty believers, and according to the testimony of 'Abdu'l-Bahá – may the spirits of both worlds be a sacrifice to His services – the most courageous among them was Áqá Asadu'lláh Misgar ["the coppersmith"], brother of Khalí Mansúr Káshání, upon whom rest God's Mercy. The influence of the Blessed Word was most evident, and as manifest as the majesty, greatness and sovereignty of a monarch.


Decision to Remove Bahá'u'lláh from Baghdad


Through diverse routes, news [of Bahá'u'lláh's ascendancy in Baghdad] had reached Tihran, where several meetings and gatherings were held to consult on the issue of the Ancient Beauty's removal from Baghdad. The greatness and prestige of the blessed Cause were mentioned before Iran's monarch, Násiri'd-Dín Shah, either through the Consulate in Baghdad, or by prominent personages, such as princes or khans who had visited Baghdad and had attained the blessed Presence [of Bahá'u'lláh] and had then returned to Tihran and informed the government. The authorities in Iran recognized that [Baha'u'llah's] influence was like the sun at noontime, and it greatly added to their envy and caused them to be deeply perturbed.

Since the senseless objective of these people was to quench this Cause and extinguish its vigorous flame through the removal of the Ancient Beauty from Tihran to Baghdad, and since they saw that the flames of the divine fire burnt more brightly in Baghdad, they decided to send the Blessed Beauty elsewhere. As Baghdad was a crossroads of Iranian pilgrims, fear seized the authorities that because of this, heralds of the field of mystical sovereignty would pursue those pilgrims, and aid the thirsty fish of the sea of certitude to reach the shore of spiritual life, and the gazelles of the wilderness of unity to be gathered and allowed to dwell in the Kingdom and attain the great bounty of everlasting life.

Therefore, Iran's monarch, the illustrious Nasiri'd-Dín Shah, asked the Ottoman monarch, 'Abdu'l-'Azíz Khán, to relocate the Blessed Beauty from Baghdad to another location – a spot that would be far from the coming and going of Iranians – and to extinguish this divine flame. In complete agreement, the Ottoman Sultan and the Shah of Iran made a pact. 'Abdu'l-'Azíz Khán sent a telegraph to the Valí of Baghdad, Námiq Páshá, instructing that the Blessed Beauty
should be moved with the utmost dignity from Baghdad to Istanbul.

The Valí of Baghdad was a distinguished and wise man, and completely humble and submissive before the Sanctified Presence [of Bahá'u'lláh]. Consequently, Námiq Páshá sent a message to Bahá'u'lláh, "I wish to attain Your sanctified presence to submit a particular matter." This news [i.e. Bahá'u'lláh's new banishment], however, spread [throughout the city] before the Valí could present it to the Sacred Presence. The Ancient Beauty told the Valí's messenger, "Very well; we will meet in the Baytu'lláh[13]," and as such, granted permission for this meeting and fixed its date and time.

When Bahá'u'lláh arrived at the mosque, the Valí was present already. He stated, "The Sultan of Iran, Nasiri'd-Dín Shah, has asked Sultan 'Abdu'l-'Azíz Khán to transfer your honored residence from Baghdad to somewhere else, and the Ottoman monarch assented to this request. As such, an official communication has been received that in whatever way meets with Your august approval and by whatever means You may wish, You, our esteemed Guest [i.e. Bahá'u'lláh], should be relocated to Istanbul."[14]

With utmost resignation and acquiescence, the Ancient Beauty consented. The decision to take the journey was entirely with Bahá'u'lláh and of His will.


Plans to Leave Baghdad


By the divine will and confirmations, the necessary supplies for the journey were arrayed, and a message was sent to the Valí: "We are ready." At Baha'u'llah's instructions, such provisions as a kajavih ["howdah"] and multiple tents were prepared, and the manner of His departure, with the greatest majesty, dignity, might and brilliance, became evident in fulfillment of the sacred verse, "That will be the day of Resurrection."[15]

Departure for the Ridvan Garden


When the appointed date arrived, Bahá'u'lláh emerged from the andarún[16] in the afternoon and, before leaving [the city], took His residence in the Garden of Najíb Páshá, outside of Mu'azzam City-gate, located about ten minutes distance from Baghdad – a distance similar to that of 'Akká from the Garden of Ridván[17], perhaps less. Those who were entrusted to assist with this move, transferred all the provisions and raised the tabernacle of God's mighty sovereignty in the midst of the Garden, and firmly planted the ropes of all tents throughout the Garden.

At that time the Garden was filled with red roses, colorful flowers, divers tulips and green and verdant trees. With the utmost refinement, purity and gracefulness, a pool of water was situated in the middle of [Bahá'u'lláh's] tent; and outside, everywhere streams of water flowed in all directions. Every believer was thoroughly devoted to ensuring utmost order and grace in all affairs in such wise that the Garden had never seen such beauty in all its days.

At the time of [Bahá'u'lláh's] departure from Baghdad, people gathered from all corners. The Bahá'í ladies had congregated by the afternoon in the House's courtyard and were wailing and crying, and were casting their young babes at the Blessed Beauty's feet in such wise that it would take Him several minutes for each step. Each person was bidden farewell and with His blessed hands He would caress and sooth them a way that is indescribable. In truth, each step witnessed a thousand renewals.

When thou stroll with such beauty and height,

Each step will cause a myriad of resurrections.

What else can I say? In this manner, when the Ancient Beauty stepped outside [of the inner apartments], the people rushed forward from all directions. He descended the steps from the courtyard of the Blessed House into the narrow street before it joined the main road. The entire area was thronged with people, both believers and otherwise, in such a way that movement was not possible. Friends could not be distinguished from strangers. The sound of lamentation and grief was raised in all directions. Suckling babes were cast under His feet – indeed, it would take half an hour for His foot to reach the ground. Everyone was crying. The Iranians were saying, "O God, we have been orphaned! We are dying! Our bright days have turned dark!" Their howling and weeping had reached the highest pitch. And the Arab friends, whether believers or otherwise, similarly were crying and sobbing, "O Master, O Siyyid! What are we to do when separated from Thee, O our Master?" Wailing, crying and lamentation reached the highest pinnacles.


The Garden of Ridvan


From the direction of Jámi' Mu'azzam [the Sublime Mosque], the Blessed Beauty made His way with the utmost difficulty to the waiting boat which conveyed Him to the Garden of Najíb Páshá. It was late afternoon when the Garden was honored by His footsteps.

On that first day of Ridván festivities, He manifested [His station] to the world as a brilliant sun. Bahá'u'lláh stayed in the Garden for twelve days and during the entire period, the eminent rulers, 'ulamá and jurists attained His blessed presence in a raised tabernacle and asked complex questions and received conclusive replies which resolved their perplexities. Some of the friends were engaged [in service] and those whose residence was in Baghdad would come during the day and return home at night, and yet return to the Garden the next morning. This lowly one was among those servants [in the Garden] who was engaged in carrying out whatever he was instructed.

When the twelfth day concluded, Bahá'u'lláh announced that He would leave on the afternoon of the thirteenth day. This news reached Baghdad. The Valí and government authorities came, bid farewell and returned.

I heard that it was remarked by the Valí, "According to solar reckoning, the hour of departure coincides with a [zodiac] sign which is not propitious for departure. That is, according to popular saying, it is an ominous hour." Through this comment, he had thought that perchance the Blessed Beauty would forego His departure. In wondering about this, he had ordered that a cannon should be fired at the moment that the Ancient Beauty mounted His steed so he could determine the zodiacal sign for that instant. When the cannon roar signaled the blessed departure [of Bahá'u'lláh], he calculated the horoscope for that moment and noticed that sun had moved beyond the limit of that zodiacal sign, thereby rendering that moment, and the journey, auspicious and favorable. Through this, he grew more confident and assured that the Ancient Beauty was not oblivious of anything – a fact that added to his wonderment and increased his astonishment over the sovereignty of the Blessed Person.

In short, the afternoon of departure arrived. What am I to say?

When the pen wanted to describe this mood,

The pen broke and the paper was torn[18]

Departure from Ridván Garden


The believers who were to stay behind in Baghdad were weeping and wailing in such wise that from their lamentation most believers who were to depart with Bahá'u'lláh began to sob and cry as well, as were the denizens of the Exalted Tabernacle,[19] from whose eyes tears poured forth and the sound of weeping and wailing filled the air. In truth, each one like "a mother grieving over a lost son lamented and sobbed" to the highest pinnacles of heaven. The nonbelievers, including, the 'ulamá, jurists, rulers and commoners – in short, every person who was present – were all crying and weeping as well.

Amidst all this, the Arabian horse was brought, which caused a great outpouring of grief. It is evident what condition must have overcome His blessed Person [of Bahá'u'lláh]. The lamentation and anguish of the divine friends and the sorrow and mourning of the people were such that "No one knows those circumstances


save His own Self, the All-Informed, the All-knowing."

When His blessed foot reached the stirrup, the Arabian stallion bent his knees and lowered himself, which caused the people to lament even louder. To the Arabian horse, Bahá'u'lláh said, "O Steed! Even you have perceived that the Temple of God is about to mount you!" In truth, this remark burnt the hearts in such a way that everyone became unconscious of himself. The Ancient Beauty showered all with His words of consolation and waved farewell to all. When the steed moved, everyone shouted, "God is most Glorious! Upon Him rest Majesty and Splendor, and thus has the Resurrection come to pass and its pre-conditions! And that Hour which all servants were awaiting has come to pass. The whole of the earth are but His handful, and the heavens were rolled up in His right hand: Glory be to Him! High is He above the Partners they attribute to Him!"[20] Each would tell the other and would speak of the mysteries of this Manifestation. "If ye did not see the Resurrection, behold it now!"


The Journey to Istanbul


From the beginning of the journey until the very end, 'Abdu'l-Bahá was in the blessed presence [of Bahá'u'lláh]. When the Ancient Beauty and the Most Great Name [Bahá'u'lláh] placed His feet in the stirrup, the Most Mighty Branch ['Abdu'l-Bahá] also mounted His steed. The world was wonderstruck by that might and splendor when the seat of divine sovereignty was forced to be a wanderer and the confirmations and affirmations of the victorious host of the denizens of the Concourse rushed forth to surround the Ancient Beauty on this journey. "Exalted, immeasurably exalted, is His majestic gait; exalted, immeasurably exalted, is His beauteous carriage; sublime, infinitely sublime, is His power and divine sovereignty; high, immensely high, is his might and dominion. The angels cry out: to Whom does dominion and sovereignty belong? The Divine Responder from the Unseen Beyond proclaims: Dominion belongeth to God, the Single, the All-subduing! Praised be our Lord, the All-Glorious!"[21]

Behind [Bahá'u'lláh] were the following believers on mounts: Á[qá] Mírzá Muhammad-Qulí; Áqá Muhammad-'Alí Isfahání; Áqá Muhammad-'Alí Sabbágh; Áqá 'Abdu'l-Ghaffár Isfahání; Hájí Mírzá Ahmad Káshání; Siyyid Muhammad Isfahání (the latter two later became opponents [of Bahá'u'lláh]); Áqá Muhammad-Báqir Qahvih-Chí; Ustád Báqir Khayyát, in whose hands were the tasks of the samovar and the tea; and Áqá Muhammad-Sádiq Bázár-Harájí, the brother of Dádásh Ibrahím and Dádásh 'Alí, who until their last day resided under the divine canopy [i.e. were with Bahá'u'lláh]. Dádásh Ibrahím passed away in Haifa, and Dádásh 'Alí ascended to the eternal realm in 'Akká.

The caravan and kajavih always set out before Bahá'u'lláh departed. The Holy Household would then proceed along with some of the believers. The government had assigned a special Yuz-Bashi[22] with several cavalrymen under his command to provide protection for Bahá'u'lláh until He reached Istanbul.

After His departure from Baghdad, at a distance of two hours, Bahá'u'lláh [and the entourage] arrived at a garden known as Faríját. There was no room or building there, so the believers' tents were pitched outside the garden. The party tarried there for about two days and two nights. During these two days, some of the friends from Baghdad came and visited, and attained [Bahá'u'lláh's] presence.

The caravan then moved from that location [to another place] of which I do not recall the name. Bahá'u'lláh's tabernacle[23] was raised near the Tigris River[24], and approximately two nights were spent there.

It was there that the honored Á[qá] Muhammad-Hasan, the son of the martyr in the divine path Áqá 'Abdu'r-Rasul – upon him be the Glory of God, the Most Glorious – was summoned [by Bahá'u'lláh] since his lamentation and wailing over his separation from the Ancient Beauty had reached His ears. He was permitted to join the party, and was with the immigrants until Edirne. In Edirne, he stayed for three years. Also, his sister, the mother of Áqá 'Abdu's-Samad, joined the Household, because the blessed daughter[25] was pleased with her.

Through an inscrutable wisdom, Áqá 'Alí was summoned from Baghdad by a telegram. After he attained the presence [of Bahá'u'lláh] and partook of that immense bounty, Áqá 'Alí and his wife, [who was] the mother of Áqá 'Abdu's-Samad, together with Áqá Muhammad-Hasan, Áqá Shaykh Salmán and Ustád 'Abdu'l-Karím Isfahání, returned to Baghdad as result of His [Bahá'ú'lláh's] blessed instruction.

In short, [Bahá'u'lláh's] sacred tabernacle was removed from the shore of the Tigris River, and the Ancient Beauty commenced His journey, until the caravan reached a location that was called Kafrí, near the road to Sulaymaniyyih. For about one night, or perhaps two, the traveling party stayed at Kafrí.

Whenever we were about one hour from our destination, this lowly one and the honored Amír Nayrízí[26] would quickly lead the mules carrying [Bahá'ú'lláh's] blessed tent [to that spot] so it would be ready and prepared upon His arrival. When the Ancient Beauty arrived, the tent would be ready and He would ascend the throne of sovereignty within the tabernacle.

In every location, upon reaching our destination [for the evening] and raising the tents, the people in the surrounding region, both authorities and ordinary citizens, would come to welcome us, expressing respect and admiration. Before the Ancient Beauty's arrival, the Yuz-Bashi would send official communications to nearby locations, stating, "An honored Guest, Who is a distinguished Personage, will arrive among you. Prepare to meet and welcome Him." Therefore, in every place, the Mutisarrif or the Qa'im-Maqam, and the governor, local nobility, 'ulamá, jurists and the majority of people would all gather. At night, he would assemble a large number from among nearby inhabitants to surround His blessed tent and guard and protect it until the morning hours. They would stay awake for this purpose and admonish each other to ensure none failed in his protective duty. As such, the Blessed Beauty, the Holy Household and the divine friends would all be able to sleep comfortably through the night.

During the journey, whenever the Blessed Beauty would ride in the kajavih, the Master ['Abdu'l-Bahá] would ride the Arabian horse: sometimes riding behind the kajavih, at times on the right, or the left or in the midst of the caravan. With a glance, He would survey everything. Necessary instructions for the order and progress of the caravan were issued solely by the Most Mighty Branch ['Abdu'l-Bahá]. Sometimes during the journey, the Blessed Beauty would summon the Master and would converse with Him.

When we were an hour distant from our destination [each night], the Ancient Beauty would emerge from the kajavih and mount the Arabian horse, and the Master ['Abdu'l-Bahá] would be seated in the kajavih of the Ancient Beauty and the Greatest Name. Such was the way from our departure from Baghdad until our arrival in Istanbul.

In some villages, the inhabitants or the nobles would send gifts. This occurred in places where there was a governor, like a Mutisarrif or a Qá'im-Maqám. In most instances, the believers would purchase necessary provisions, such as meat, oil and other things, in the villages.

Siyyid Husayn Káshí


En route, most of time Siyyid Husayn Káshí would cause situations that would bring joy, delight and laughter to the Ancient Beauty. Námiq Pasha had sent a horse as a gift for his son in Istanbul, and this horse was entrusted to the care and attention of Áqá Siyyid Husayn Káshí. He was admonished
to ensure that the horse of Námiq Pasha entrusted to him would not sustain any injuries and would arrive safely for his son in Istanbul.

One day, Áqá Siyyid Husayn Káshí entered the blessed tabernacle [of Bahá'u'lláh] and stated, "The Master gives barley to all horses, but He does not give any barley or hay to my horse." The Ancient Beauty summoned the Master. As 'Abdu'l-Bahá approached the tent, Á[qá] Siyyid Husayn Káshí ran away and quickly exited the tent. The Ancient Beauty laughed, "Why do you flee? Come here!" However, he ran further into the wilderness.

In short, the Ancient Beauty told the Master, "He had come complaining of You; that You withhold barley and hay from his horse. And now that You have come, he has run away."

He often performed such humorous acts before the Blessed Presence. For instance, when the Blessed Beauty mounted His Arabian horse, he would dance in front of it and mimic various gestures that would bring joy, delight and laughter to Bahá'u'lláh. He was with the blessed caravan until Istanbul. At the time of [the group's] departure from Istanbul for Edirne, he was dismissed together with some friends who had joined them along the way.

After he was dismissed, he made all the believers take an oath that, "Whenever mention is made of me in the presence of the Ancient Beauty, remind Him of some of my deeds, so they may bring a smile to His Blessed Self."

Travel Conditions


We were saying that two nights were spent in Kafrí and I was engaged in service. Many people came and attained the Presence [of Bahá'u'lláh] and asked question and received replies. Bahá'u'lláh [and the caravan] left Kafrí.

At times, we journeyed at night. This was especially the case when our destination was far and the heat of day would have caused harm. Therefore, we would rest during the day and travel at night. Sometimes we would reach our destination by morning, and at times before noon. When our destination was not far, we traveled under the sun and rested at night.

Some of the friends held to kajavahs as they walked, and at night would fall sleep along the way. While they were walking, they would dream that a brook was in their path, and like someone who is awakened and attempts to jump a brook, they would jump, fall and wake up.

One night I was very sleepy and decided to ride hard a little [and sleep along the path ahead] while the caravan was catching up. I went ahead and slept on the road, and when the caravan came, I woke up and joined it. However, I was actually still sleep, and because of that, lost my way and fell into a ditch. The travelers had thought that I was awake but perchance I had taken a different route than the caravan – otherwise, if they had known I was sleep, they would have called and awaken me.

At any rate, I slept in that same ditch until morning. When I woke up, I realized that morning had arrived and sun was high in the sky. I began to cry and weep and took to the road. I saw someone coming towards me. When he came near, I recognized him as the attendant of a person who had joined the caravan and was on his way to Istanbul. He, too, had fallen sleep. Together we proceeded and reached the summit of a hill. From afar, the tents appeared like a camp. Utmost joy and felicity came over us. With great haste, I ran to the divine tabernacle [i.e. Bahá'u'lláh's tent] and prostrated myself in thanksgiving. They had recently arrived [at that location], and had not been aware that I had been left behind on the road.

Several similar incidents occurred. The Ancient Beauty would send riders in all four directions to find the missing person and return him to the caravan.

One time the honored Áqá Muhammad-Ridá Qannád Shírází – upon him rest the Glory of God, the Most Glorious – fell sleep en route. When he woke up, greatly perplexed and agitated, he somehow found his way to the caravan and entered the divine tabernacle of clemencies. Bahá'u'lláh spoke kindly and lovingly to him. He would repeatedly say, "When I saw the blessed tabernacle, it was as though they had given me the entire world!"

The other thing that occurred often was that most of the friends who were riding would fall off their horses. The honored Áqá Muhammad-'Alí Sabbágh had sworn that he would not fall off and had forced his eyes open with both hands. Nevertheless, we found that he had fallen from his horse at one time, had placed his hands on eyes and yielded himself to slumber. They woke him up, and he was bewildered.

This story was often told by 'Abdu'l-Bahá, and His point was to emphasize firmness and constancy in God's Covenant and Testament, and that divine tests are ever-present. It is observed very often that individuals consider themselves steadfast, steady and faithful, but when overcome with negligence, they find themselves bereft of divine bounties. Therefore, a person must at all times supplicate and implore the Almighty, the Self-Sufficient God, for spiritual bounties and celestial blessings to be bestowed upon him, and that he may be immune from the harm of ego and self-indulgence.

Stay in Mosul


At any rate, from Kafrí to Mosul the roads did not have names. Sometimes along the way, we would hear Bahá'u'lláh's blessed melody.[27] Some of His sanctified utterances were recorded, but most were not.

Eventually we reach Mosul Hadbá'[28], and our tents and the tabernacle [of Bahá'u'lláh] were pitched near the city by the river Euphrates. The eminent citizens of Mosul, such as the Mutasarrif, the Mufti, the Qadi [judge] and several government authorities, came to welcome [Bahá'u'lláh]. When they learned [of our arrival], the concourse of the 'ulamá and the jurists came to welcome Him as well.

We tarried there for about twelve days. Each day, government officials would come and attain the presence [of Bahá'u'lláh]. Most of the people were met by 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Who provided conclusive replies to their questions. Some of the scholars and the 'ulamá presented very elaborate queries to the Blessed Beauty and received sufficient and complete answers, which deepened their wonder. In various gatherings and assemblies, they loosened their tongues to give praise and glorification [of Bahá'u'lláh]. Thus, the grandeur and splendor of His Blessed Person became evident everywhere. "Unto Him were all heads bowed and [in His presence] were all voices silent."[29]

In Mosul, two other events occurred that there is no time now to recount – over all else, the remembrance of the Friend is the choicest.

At any event, tents and the tabernacle were removed from Mosul. We traveled from Mosul for six stops until we reached a village whose name and particulars I once knew, but these have now been erased from my memory. In that village, a Damascene muleteer joined the blessed caravan. For his protection and safety, he was urged to camp with the caravan at night, as there was a danger of highwaymen and thieves. However, this man did not accept and stayed outside [the circle of] the caravan. His mules were stolen in the middle of night.

In the morning, we prepared to leave. The manner of departure was thus: At first, the luggage, tabernacle and tents would be sent


ahead. The kajavihs of the Household would be readied, and they would take their places therein. There was a small kajavih exclusive to the Blessed Beauty which would be readied as well. When His blessed tabernacle was dismantled, He would take seat in that kajavih. After the luggage and tents were sent ahead, then the kajavih of the Household would disembark and thereupon the kajavih of the Ancient Beauty would be brought for Him. There was a small stepladder that was used by the Blessed Beauty to ascend into the kajavih.

[On that morning,] as soon as His blessed foot reached the stepladder, the Damascene mule driver who had joined en route and whose mules were stolen, came forth and grabbed the helm of Bahá'u'lláh's garment and threw himself at His blessed feet, stating, "My mules were stolen last night, and I beseech You to help me regain them."

The Ancient Beauty commanded, "Return the kajavihs and call forth the Yuz-Bashí." When the Yuz-Bashi arrived, Bahá'u'lláh said to the Master, "Tell the Yuz-Bashi that he must locate the three mules belonging to this man." He responded, "[I swear to do so] on my eye!" Immediately, he sent for the village Kahya, that is, the Mukhtar [the headman], and when he arrived and heard that the three mules were stolen, he stated, "We repeatedly implored this muleteer to enter the circle of tents at night and be with other people, but he refused. He was told that this place had many thieves. We are not at fault. At a time pregnant with terror, 'Umar Pasha, the Valí of Baghdad was passing through this area and had a load of silk. However, with a battalion of soldiers, he could not recover his goods and the silk remained gone. As such, how am I to find these mules?"

The Ancient Beauty stated, "The influence of 'Umar Pasha was limited to his own sphere and did not exceed those bounds. However, My command must be fulfilled. Until now, I have not uttered a command that has not been fulfilled. Consequently, the Mukhtar yielded. At that time, in a distance of two hours were fortifications on the top of the mountain called Mardin, which was a town occupied by nobles.

Bahá'u'lláh ordered the Yuz-Bashí, "Place this Mukhtar before you on your steed and go towards Mardin, and We will come from behind." The Yuz-Bashí carried out His blessed instructions: he placed the Mukhtar, with tied hands, before him on his horse, and proceeded in haste towards Mardin. The Blessed Beauty ordered all the kajavihs and the Household to advance towards Mardin and the Ancient Beauty also went forward to Mardin. The luggage and the tabernacle were sent beforehand to Diyar-Bakr, where the tabernacle was raised in anticipation of His blessed arrival.

At any event, near Mardin, outside of the [town's] gate, was a large orchard. As the caravan was on the move, Bahá'u'lláh ordered all to enter the orchard, and He entered as well. From ancient times, this garden had been known as Bagh Firdaws ["the Garden of Paradise"]. However, none of us knew the name of the Garden, nor that it was called Bagh Firdaws. We tarried in that orchard for eight days.

The Pashá, Tabúr Áqásí, the Qadí, the Muftí and all the town's dignitaries came forth to welcome [Bahá'u'lláh]. After they had attained His presence, and had asked questions and received replies, the Blessed Beauty remarked to them, "The reason for Our coming to this location is that three mules have been stolen from this Damascene muleteer. These three mules must be found."

Once more, the Mukhtar and the noblemen offered excuses, saying, "This place has many thieves and to find the mules will be very difficult. We are willing, however, to pay for the mules." Bahá'u'lláh did not accept, stating, "Even if each of you were to offer one hundred lira, I would not accept. If you are unable [to find the mules], then I will telegraph Istanbul and will seek their intervention. The choice is yours."

Thereupon, when they realized that they had no choice, they sent mounted men with strict instructions to search intensely in every direction. When the equestrians saw that the Ancient Beauty was placing great importance on this matter, they departed on their mission with great purpose and determination. They covered a distance of eight days in four and found the three missing mules, returning them forthwith. They swore that they had found the three animals by the shore of the Araxes River, which was eight days journey. They had traversed this eight days distance in four.

The Damascene muleteer came forth and kissed Bahá'u'lláh's feet and received his mules. Tabúr Áqásí, who was the commander of the riders, stated, "I took this matter most seriously and did this and that." Bahá'u'lláh said, "Give him a fine, jeweled sword," which was given to him. Then the Mutisarrif came and said, "I, too, served this objective." He too was given an expensive silk shawl. The Muftí came and was given the choicest sweets, which he ate. An illuminated Qur'an was given to him as a gift as well. Then the Qadí and some of the officials each came and received a reward and tasted this bestowal. Noticing this generosity to others[30], the mule driver asked for the expense of these eight days and he was given two sheep, barley and hay for his mules that were reacquired through these blessed bounties. In sum, the gifts and charities of Bahá'u'lláh to various citizens exceeded the cost of the mules.


Final March to Istanbul


After the conclusion of these affairs, the Singular Beauty, the Master of the Day of Judgment[31], departed from Mardin and proceeded to Diyar-Bakr[32]. The tabernacle and the tents were already prepared. He stayed at Diyar-Bakr for almost eight days. The Pasha there was deeply fond of Bahá'u'lláh. Along with all the government officials, he would come each day and they all would attain the blessed Presence.

In Diyar-Bakr, the Sun of Godhead shone forth brilliantly from the horizon of Divine Might and burnt away every veil, destroyed every trace of vain imaginings and caused the night-bird of old traditions to flee from the shining brilliance of this Sun! Gradually, the divine friends were awakening from the slumber of negligence and beheld the Sun shining over a cloudless horizon. The Ancient Beauty proclaimed most resonantly the Might [of His Revelation], eliminating the word of negation and the letters of reversal and established the beginning of affirmation.

From there, we departed for the Port of Kharput.[33] The Pasha of that town had attained the blessed Presence in Sulaymaniyyih and cherished deep affection [for Bahá'u'lláh]. We remained there about four days. Each day, the Pasha would come and attain His presence. He would send rice and oil. Since it was warm, he would frequently send ice. Many gates of joy and felicity were thrown open at that location.

From there, we traveled, stage by stage, until the caravan and the caravan-master [Bahá'u'lláh] arrived in Samsun, the port of Istanbul. We boarded a ferry, which carried us to Istanbul.


Notes


[1] Since derivatives of Bahá are used, this appears to be a salutation to Bahá'u'lláh.

[2] A reference to the Báb.

[3] Áshchí was on his deathbed and unable to write the narrative himself.

[4] As noted earlier, if Áshchí was indeed 80 years of age in 1925 when he narrated this text and assuming that his reported age is based on lunar reckoning (which would be equivalent to 78 years of age by a solar calendar), then he must have arrived in Baghdad around 1860.

[5] Amr khayr is a Persian expression for a marriage proposal.

[6] As noted in the Foreword, every 5th page of the original text is marked in the present translation for ease of reference.

[7] Áshchí appears to have been unaware that it was 'Abdu'l-Bahá's aunt 'Izziyyih Khánum, who had sided with Mirza Yahyá Subh Azal, (Bahá'u'lláh's half-brother and rival for leadership of the Bábi community), who was the main instigator of the rejection of the marriage.

[8] The present translator is not certain what event this refers to, but it may have to do with Mishkin-Qalam's protests at the Ottoman royal court referred to later in this narrative.

[9] A redundant sentence has not been translated.

[10] The present translator is uncertain of the correct reading of this name.

[11] This verse echoes a similar phrase in 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Makátíb, vol. 8, p. 80, and appears to be based on Qur'an 26:79.

[12] An alternative, though less likely, reading of this phrase might be that Javáhirí had bequeathed the caravansary (as opposed to his entire wealth).

[13] Literally, the House of God, it is a reference to mosques.

[14] A variation of this event is given by 'Abdu'l-Bahá Who was in a better position to know the exact events (cited in H.M. Balyuzi, 'Abdu'l-Bahá: The Centre of the Covenant, p. 16):

The third day after Ramadan when, in observance of the festival, my uncle and I called on the Pasha, he expressed his eagerness to meet Him [Bahá'u'lláh]. The Pasha, however, wanted the meeting to be at his own house. He [Bahá'u'lláh] replied that He did not wish to go to the Governorate, but if the Pasha desired to meet Him, the meeting could take place in the mosque. He went to the mosque, as did the Pasha, but on entering it the Pasha turned back and went away. Later he sent his own vizier to Bahá'u'lláh's presence, with letters from the Sadr-i-A'zam (prime minister), and also this message: 'I came to the mosque, but was ashamed to broach such matters at the first encounter.' The vizier gave an account of all that had transpired. Then he said: 'What the Pasha asked to know was this -- whether you preferred not to leave. Should it be so, if you will write and inform the Sadr-i-A'zam, we shall forward your letter to him. But if you should desire to leave, that would be your own choice.' He [Bahá'u'lláh] replied: 'If the Government displays proper respect, I will choose, for certain reasons, to reside awhile in those regions.' Then the Pasha sent Him this message: 'I shall carry out your wishes and do what you say.'

[15] Qur'an 50:42. The full verse reads, "The day when they will hear a (mighty) Blast in (very) truth: that will be the day of Resurrection."

[16] The inner section of a house.

[17] A garden outside of 'Akká and acquired much later by Bahá'u'lláh, when He lived in Bahji, and named by Him after His name for the Najibiyyih Garden outside of Baghdad.

[18] A variation of Rumi's poem, "When speech wanted to describe this mood, Every pen broke and every paper was torn;" Rumi, Mathnaví, Fourth edition, Tehran: Javidan Publication, 1978, p. 12.

[19] A likely reference to Bahá'u'lláh's family who were traveling with Him.

[20] Modification of Qur'an 39:67

[21] The section in quotation is in Arabic.

[22] Captain, commander of a hundred men.

[23] The original text refers to Bahá'u'lláh's tent as sarápardih in counter-distinction from other tents. To maintain this distinction, the term tabernacle is used employed for this reference.

[24] The original text refers to the Baghdad River.

[25] Bint-i Mubarak (lit, the blessed daughter) is a reference to Bahá'u'lláh's daughter, mostly likely, Bahiyyih Khanum, known as the Greatest Holy Leaf.

[26] A survivor of the 1853 Nayriz upheaval, he devoted his life to the service of Bahá'u'lláh in the Holy Land. For his biography see Ahang Rabbani, The Bábís of Nayriz: History and Documents; Houston: eBook; 2007, available at: http://ahang.rabbani.googlepages.com/

[27] From the context and expression, it appears that Áshchí is referring to revelation of divine verses by Bahá'ú'lláh.

[28] The name of the city in Arabic means, the "linking point." Mosul has other Arabic names such as Um Al-Rabi'ain [The City of Two Springs], because autumn and spring are alike there. It is also named Al-Faiha (The Paradise), Al-Khadhra (The Green), and Al-Hadba (The Humped). The Assyrians called the city by its ancient name of Nineveh.

[29] This Arabic expression also appears in the writings of Shoghi Effendi: Tawqi'at Mubarakih (1922-1926); Tehran: 129BE, p. 295.

[30] The present translator is uncertain that he has understood the original phrase correctly.

[31] Qur'an 1:4; a title often used for Bahá'u'lláh.

[32] Today it is better known as Diyarbakir.

[33] There are discrepancies between Áshchí's account and the outline of Bahá'u'lláh's journey provided in God Passes By, p. 155.


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