Archive for June, 2009

Supply us with every good thing ordained in Thy Book

The Shrine of the Báb

 

I pray Thee, O Thou Who causest the dawn to appear, by Thy Name through Which Thou hast subjected the winds, and sent down Thy Tablets, that Thou wilt grant that we may draw near unto what Thou didst destine for us by Thy favor and bounty, and to be far removed from whatsoever may be repugnant unto Thee. Give us, then, to drink from the hands of Thy grace every day and every moment of our lives of the waters that are life indeed, O Thou Who art the Most Merciful! Make us, then, to be of them who helped Thee when fallen into the hands of those Thine enemies who are numbered with the rebellious among Thy creatures and the wicked amidst Thy people. Write down, then, for us the recompense ordained for him that hath attained Thy presence, and gazed on Thy beauty, and supply us with every good thing ordained in Thy Book for such of Thy creatures as enjoy near access to Thee.

                                                                                                                             Bahá’u’lláh

Obedience to the Will of God: Hájí Muhammad-i-Yazdí

A photo of the mansion at Mazra’ih, a short distance north of Akká.  Following more than two years incarceration in the prison city of Akká, a place without verdure of any kind, Bahá’u’lláh was permitted to depart from the city and make His residence a short distance away at Mazra’ih, which ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had rented for Him.  Here, he was able to enjoy nature’s greenery, which He loved, and His followers were given much greater freedom to attain His presence.

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Glorified be Thy name, O Lord my God! I beseech Thee by Thy power that hath encompassed all created things, and by Thy sovereignty that hath transcended the entire creation, and by Thy Word which was hidden in Thy wisdom and whereby Thou didst create Thy heaven and Thy earth, both to enable us to be steadfast in our love for Thee and in our obedience to Thy pleasure, and to fix our gaze upon Thy face, and celebrate Thy glory.

                                                                                                        Bahá’u’lláh

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 Obedience to the will of God, whose will is expressed through His Manifestation, is a virtue. Here is a story of the importance of complete, exact, and instant obedience to that Will. It is from The Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh, Vol. 4, by Adib Taherzadeh.

The story of Hájí Muhammad would not be complete without referring to one of his noble qualities, namely, his utter obedience to the Centre of the Cause. There was a time when Hájí Muhammad had a business concern in ‘Akká. One day he was sitting in his office when the Master arrived with an urgent instruction from Bahá’u’lláh that Hájí Muhammad should immediately proceed to Jaddih (Jiddah) in Arabia. He asked ‘Abdu’l-Bahá if he could be permitted to attain the presence of Bahá’u’lláh before departing for Jaddih. The Master told him that there was no time, for the boat was leaving at any minute. Hájí Muhammad at once closed the office, and without even paying a visit to his family boarded the ship which sailed away almost immediately. Once on board, he realized that because of the extraordinary rush, he had not even thought to ask the Master the purpose of his trip to Jaddih. But now it was too late, and he knew that Bahá’u’lláh would guide his steps when he arrived in that city. This is the best example of instant, exact and complete obedience to the command of Bahá’u’lláh.

The journey was fraught with danger because the sea was unusually stormy. The danger of the ship sinking was in everyone’s mind except for Hájí Muhammad, who was sure that it would sail safely to its destination because God had given him a mission in Jaddih, the nature of which was as yet unknown to him. Soon after disembarking from the ship, he heard two people speaking in Persian among the crowds. When he approached them he soon found out that they were Bahá’ís. They were Hájí Mírzá Haydar-‘Alí, that illustrious follower of Bahá’u’lláh, and his fellow prisoner Husayn-i- Shírazí who had been set free from their ten-year imprisonment in Khartúm and were on their way to ‘Akká. They were in need of help and guidance, for this was their first journey to the Holy Land. Hájí Muhammad knew then   that the purpose of his mission in Jaddih was to assist these two souls to go to ‘Akká, a task which he then carried out ably. 

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Want to buy this book? Go to http://www.grbooks.com/ or http://www.bahaibookstore.com/.

Courage & Sacrifice: Rúhu’lláh, son of Varqá

Rúhu’lláh and his father, Varqá, in prison in Tehran shortly before their martyrdoms in 1896. Photo courtesy of  Médiathèque Baha’ie Francophone www.bahai-biblio.org.

Mírzá ‘Alí-Muhammad Varqá and his son, Rúhu’lláh, were two of the outstanding servants of Bahá’u’lláh. A brief account of their remarkable and devoted lives can be found in The Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh, Vol. 4, by Adib Taherzadeh.  Here is an excerpt from that book about Rúhu’lláh and his complete devotion to the service of God.

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Truly, Rúhu’lláh was no ordinary child. He was an inspired being and acted as a spiritual giant. At a young age he wrote beautiful poetry which clearly demonstrates how deep was his love for Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, how vast his knowledge of the Faith and how profound his understanding of the real purpose of life. He used to speak about the Faith in gatherings of divines and men of learning with such eloquence and knowledge, and produce such irrefutable proofs of the truth of the Faith that many were confounded after hearing him. His answers were profound yet simple and very compelling.

There are some delightful stories related to this indefatigable child-teacher of the Cause of God. To cite an example: Although only twelve years of age, Rúhu’lláh attended with his father several meetings in Zanján at which the divines of the city were present. The Governor of Zanján, ‘Alá’u’d-Dawlih, had especially arranged these meetings in order that Varqá might confront the divines in defence of his Faith. Hájí Mírzá Haydar-‘Alí has written about this in his celebrated book of reminiscences, the Bihjatu’s-Sudúr:

Varqá . . . was prepared to prove, by the power of divine
assistance, the authenticity of this most great Revelation   
which is promised in all the heavenly Books, and to establish the
validity of the basic principles, laws both spiritual and physical,
and even secondary matters in the Faith using the Qur’án as the basis
of his argument . . .

This prompted ‘Alá’u’d-Dawlih, the Governor of Zanján, to convene
several meetings. He ordered the divines of Zanján to attend, and
arranged for Bahá’í books and Tablets to be taken to these meetings.
After reading some of these, the objections of the divines were
adequately answered sometimes by Varqá and sometimes by Rúhu’lláh. The
answers, which were all supported by the verses of the Qur’án, were
convincing and irrefutable.

Since the defeat of the divines in their argument became evident to
the Governor, who was a powerful and courageous personality, the
divines did not dare to label Varqá as an infidel and issue his death
warrant. In these meetings ‘Alá’u’d-Dawlih often permitted the twelve-
year-old Rúhu’lláh to speak with the divines. He used to prove the
subject with amazing courage, eloquence and profundity. His talks were
so sweet that the Governor admitted that the proofs which that child
had adduced were a great miracle in his sight . . .

Another story goes like this: Once Rúhu’lláh and his older brother were walking in town. A Muslim clergyman tiding on his donkey spotted the two boys and from their appearance he knew they were strangers in Zanján. So he went to them and said, ‘Who are you?’

Rúhu’lláh answered, ‘We are sons of Varqá, a native of Yazd.’ ‘What is your name?’ the clergyman demanded. ‘My name is Rúhu’lláh,’ came the answer. ‘That is a great name,’ said the clergyman. ‘Christ was Rúhu’lláh and He used to raise the dead and give them life.’ [‘Rúhu’lláh’ literally means the ‘Spirit of God’, a title of Christ mentioned in the Qur’án.]

‘Sir, if you slow down the pace of your donkey,’ Rúhu’lláh declared with great enthusiasm, ‘I too shall raise you from the dead and give you a new life!’  

The clergyman hurriedly left saying, ‘You two must be Bábí children!’ [For many years in Persia Bahá’ís were known as ‘Bábís’.]

The full story of the circumstances which led to the martyrdom of Varqá and his twelve-year-old son Rúhu’lláh is beyond the scope of this book. Both of them were engulfed in a series of arrests and imprisonments. They were transferred from prison to prison weighed down with chains, their feet placed in stocks. As a result they suffered much hardship and torture until at the end Varqá was martyred when in a rage Hájibu’d-Dawlih, the chief steward in charge of the Prison of Tihrán, pierced his stomach with a dagger. Rúhu’lláh saw his father fall to the ground, and then his body was cut into pieces. A short while later, refusing to recant his faith and earnestly wishing to join his father, that noble and heroic child was strangled to death. This was in May 1896.

~

Want to buy this book? Go to http://www.grbooks.com/ or http://www.bahaibookstore.com/.

Love Me, that I may love thee.

 

O SON OF MAN!
I loved thy creation, hence I created thee. Wherefore, do thou love Me, that I may name thy name and fill thy soul with the spirit of life.

O SON OF BEING!
Love Me, that I may love thee. If thou lovest Me not, My love can in no wise reach thee. Know this, O servant.

                                                                                                                                       Bahá’u’lláh

 

O God! Refresh and gladden my spirit. Purify my heart. Illumine my powers. I lay all my affairs in Thy hand. Thou art my Guide and my Refuge. I will no longer be sorrowful and grieved; I will be a happy and joyful being. O God! I will no longer be full of anxiety, nor will I let trouble harass me. I will not dwell on the unpleasant things of life.

 O God! Thou art more friend to me than I am to myself. I dedicate myself to Thee, O Lord.

                                                                                                                                   ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

 

Photo by John K. Slone

Be Thou their supporter and their helper

 

O Thou incomparable God! O Thou Lord of the Kingdom! These souls are Thy heavenly army. Assist them and, with the cohorts of the Supreme Concourse, make them victorious, so that each one of them may become like unto a regiment and conquer these countries through the love of God and the illumination of divine teachings.

O God! Be Thou their supporter and their helper, and in the wilderness, the mountain, the valley, the forests, the prairies and the seas, be Thou their confidant – so that they may cry out through the power of the Kingdom and the breath of the Holy Spirit.

Verily, Thou art the Powerful, the Mighty and the Omnipotent, and Thou art the Wise, the Hearing and the Seeing.

                                                                                                            ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

From The Tablets of the Divine Plan

Photo by John K. Slone

Early Tacoma Bahá’ís – Jim Locke

 James Stephen Locke

 

            Jim Locke embodied the truth that the real quality of a person lies in his spiritual excellence and in the quality of his character, not his knowledge, wealth, sophistication, or worldly accomplishments.  Those who knew him for 20 years or for only the last few months of his life testified to his richness in the former, although he lived a life with few of those material benefits that make this transitory life comfortable. 

  

             He lived a simple, devotional life. After serving in the U.S. Army band as a saxophone player, he turned to the service of Christ when he found the Christian ministry Agape Force in Denver, Colorado, in the last 20 years of his life. He served with Agape Force in a missionary team working in the mid-west, moving from town to town and carrying sleeping bags for bedding. Jim was an excellent saxophone player. He would begin playing the saxophone in the evening, playing tunes like “When the Saints Go Marching In” and attract an audience, and then play more religious music once a crowd had gathered.

 

            He lived and served on the Texas ranch of Agape Force for many years. He would pick up trash along the side of the road. One friend remembered seeing him doing this one day, standing by himself and speaking to a snake, telling the snake “Leave me alone – I’m just here to pick up trash. You go your way and I’ll go mine.”   He helped sell fruit in the local market, arriving at 4:00 a.m., carrying his Bible with him and talking about Jesus. He enjoyed the simple chores, like carrying the hay to the horses and watching them eat. Sometimes Jim would go into the woods, alone with his saxophone, and commune with God in this way. He loved playing the Pink Panther song.

 

            One day, a friend of his on the ranch asked Jim to bring him a plate of food from town when Jim returned in the evening, about 7:00 or 7:30, explaining that this would be his only food that day. He told Jim not to forget. About 4:30 that afternoon, Jim arrived at his friend’s place, carrying with him only a small plate of food. The friend was initially disappointed by the small amount of food, but Jim explained that he did not want him to wait all day to eat, so he brought him something early. Jim had walked, alone, 10 miles from town, carrying the plate with the food. It was a humbling experience for Jim’s friend.

 

            Jim enjoyed living and seeing other people enjoy themselves. His friends remember him as good-natured and laughing and creative, warm and gentle and kind and happy. He did his work cheerfully and faithfully. He did not complain about working outdoors in the cold. He would give a straight answer in conversation.

 

            Jim Locke formally registered as a Bahá’í eleven months before he passed away. He worked at the local Goodwill store and lived alone in a small apartment that had very few things in it. He was humble and uncomplaining about his life. Friends would regularly pick him up and give him a ride to Feast, Holy Days, and other occasions. When a saxophone was provided to him at the monthly Devotional Meeting, he would display to all his musical talent. He was a quiet and peaceful presence at Bahá’í occasions, and pleased to be present enjoying his association with his new friends. At this late time in his life, he had great trouble walking, shuffling his feet and moving slowly, but it never prevented him from getting out and doing those simple things that he loved.

 

            Jim was at work on Thursday, December 23rd, 1999, when late in the morning he suffered a heart attack and was taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital. His soul ascended that morning to God’s most glorious kingdom. No family could be found to participate in the funeral. His mortal remains were laid to rest by his friends the morning of Friday, December 31st at Mountain View Memorial Park cemetery with a graveside Bahá’í service that included recorded saxophone music. The grave stone, placed by his Christian friends, shows a saxophone playing music and reads “a simple Jesus lovin’ man”. 

 

  

 Photo of Jim courtesy of The News Tribune