The Ascension (Passing) of Bahá'u'lláh (Sources)

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Hájí Mírzá Haydar Alí

Full Text : Stories from the Delight of Hearts: Memoirs of Haji Mirza Haydar--Ali

When I was in Yazd, I lived in the house of Jináb-i-Afnán. During the summer, because of the intense heat, people would sleep on their roofs. Early one morning, when I descended from the roof, I found Afnán sitting immersed in thought. Because of the deep sadness on his face, I knew that something serious had happened. I did not dare to approach him, since I was still in my sleeping garment and not suitably dressed to attend the presence of such a venerable person. He withdrew, but sent a sealed envelope to me. When I opened it, I found the Tablet of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá announcing the ascension of Bahá’u’lláh.

I was so stunned that I could not even cry. The friends gradually gathered in the house of the Afnán. They were so stricken with grief that no one talked. In the midst of this intense sorrow and bewilderment, Jinab-i-Afnan joined us. He wept openly, and all wept with him. He addressed us, saying, "It was decreed that He would one day rid Himself of the endless suffering of this world. It was written that He would one day return to the Source of His glory. Praise be to God that He has left His sorrow-filled friends One Who will guide us. This is no less a person than the 'Mystery of God.' We must hold fast to the hem of His mercy and arise to serve the Cause of God and be His true servants, sacrificing all that we have to uphold our beloved Faith."

After hearing these consoling words, we again read the Tablet of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and decided to hold memorial meetings for nine consecutive days and nights where all the friends would gather together.

The news of His ascension spread everywhere and, though the population of Persia was at that time in the grip of a merciless attack of cholera, the people made merry and rejoiced and ridiculed the Bahá’is.

A week after the news of His ascension had reached us, the friends received a copy of the Kitáb-i-'Ahd (The Book of the Covenant). Emphatically and explicitly, He had appointed the beloved Master as the sole Interpreter of His Word. When the friends received this great news, they were calmed, and, with hearts full of hope, they arose to raise the banner of servitude and uphold it with their utmost strength.

The ministry of Abdu’l-Bahá began so vigorously that Bahá’i communities everywhere were overwhelmed. Letters from the Master poured into every village, town, and country like the drops of the rains of spring. The friends were cheered and enamored

by His life-giving words. Whoever received a Tablet would make many copies and send them as precious gifts to friends throughout the length and breadth of the East. This opened a new field of activity, that of regular and informative correspondence amongst all the believers.

'Abdu’l-Bahá explained to the Bahá’is that the physical body of the Prophet of God is like a cloud which covers the sun and which prevents its rays from reaching the earth. Because of their physical limitations, the Prophets of God must live by the rules of physical existence. For this reason, many people are tested. They will say, "What kind of Prophet is He? He sleeps and eats and walks the streets like everyone else." But when the cloud is removed, the rays of the sun reach the people directly, and the whole of creation is resuscitated by their life-giving light.

The friends became aware of their opportunities and bounties. Therefore, they arose in unprecedented numbers to proclaim the Faith and teach the Cause. Gradually, more enthusiasm, unity. and activity developed on every level of Baha’i life. In a short time lethargy, indifference, and coolness were replaced by intense teaching activities.

Such manifestations of zeal and ardor encouraged me also to act. At the urging of the Afnán, I wrote an open letter to the ‘ulama proclaiming the truth of this Cause. I then began fresh teaching tours in the days of the Covenant.

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