Archive for June, 2009

How ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was thoughtful to others

 

 

‘Abdu’l-Bahá

The Center of the Covenant

 

 

 

 

 

Photo courtesy of Médiathèque Baha’ie Francophone www.bahai-biblio.org

~

Another eyewitness has related the following story of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Dublin [New Hampshire, U.S.A.]. Early one morning, when He was in the grounds of the Inn dictating to a secretary, an old man, obviously a tramp, came shuffling along the street.  ‘Abdu’l-Bahá noticed him and told His secretary to go and call him in. He took the old man’s dirt-crusted hands in His, and spoke to him with love and affection. It was as if He had known this weary, dejected tramp all His life. And then He saw how filthy and torn the old man’s trousers were. At that hour of the day no one was about. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá walked towards the porch of the Inn, wrapped His long-flowing ‘aba round Himself, took off His own trousers, gave them to the old tramp, and told him: ‘May God go with you.’ (In the Holy Land, many a time did He invite a passing bedouin or a shepherd to come and sit beside Him and share His meal.)

 From ‘Abdu’l-Baha – The Centre of the Covenant, by H.M. Balyuzi

~

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

Early Tacoma Bahá’ís – Eugene & Melba King

                                                                  

 

Eugene and Melba King

 

Source: Alaska Bahá’í News

                             September/October 1999   Number 429

 

    Bahá’í Tlingit Elder Eugene King 1918-1999

 

Eugene King was born on September 25, 1918 in Haines, Alaska and died at the Mount Edgecumbe Hospital on September 20,1999 at the age of 80.

 

His parents, Charles King, Sr. of Angoon, and Gladys James King of Sitka, his three brothers – Charles, Richard, and Roy, and two sisters – Ida and Pearl all preceded him to the next world. Mr. King was a Tlinget of the Eagle Tribe, Kaag-Wam-Taan Clan, Wolf House.

 

Melba King in Tacoma in 1958

 

After the passing of his mother, Eugene went to the Haines House Orphanage in 1917 through 1921, and then was raised by his aunt, Ruth Hayes of Juneau.  He then went to Sheldon Jackson from 1929 to 1937.

 

Eugene was twelve years old when he enrolled in the Sheldon Jackson High School, and stayed at that boarding school until his graduation.  There he worked as the early morning fireman, took courses in vocational g in Machinery and Plumbing, and worked in the school’s hydroelectric plant with diesel oil burners.  Eugene took part in the usual occasions such as the Easter Sunrise Service, and was in the Church Choir, often singing at the Sitka Pioneer Home.  He was an avid student of the Holy Bible, often pondering the mysterious questions of the Bible.  He always participated in Field Day events, the Sheldon Jackson Fellowship activities, the school band, and the midweek Prayer Services.  He played Varsity Basketball as well as Track, and held the record High Jump at 5’10” for many years.  He also played Soccerball, Football and was in Amateur Boxing.  He earned good grades with hopes of going on to college.  Eugene graduated in May 1937.  In 1938, Eugene began – working on the Sheldon Jackson Presbyterian missionary boat, the Princeton Hall where he took a beginner’s course in Navigation.  They traveled constantly, held meetings in small communities, sometimes helping in repairs and maintenance of community churches, picking up students to attend Sheldon Jackson, delivered groceries to ministers in outlying communities, and ran mercy missions where they would pick up people needing hospital attention.

 

Eugene began having problems with his eyes about 1938 or 1939 and he began losing his eyesight in 1942.  In 1945, likely due to Tuberculosis in the eyes, he was diagnosed with only 2% vision.  Eugene said losing his sight never really concerned him He always had the idea that it was for a reason, so it never really bothered him.

 

Eugene worked for Northwest Sheetmetal Works at Kent, Washington during the War until work began winding down when he went to Seattle to find work and attended the Washington Training Center for the blind.  He found work as a weaver, making baby blankets and neckties.  There he met Melba Call of Kotzebue.  Melba was blind from birth.  She had just returned from New Mexico, teaching newly-blinded adults.  They were married in September 1944.  She taught him how to use a cane, how to maneuver around Seattle by bus, and some Braille., which she knew very well. At that time, Melba taught him the Bahá’í Faith.

 

In 1952, they moved to Tacoma where they attended many Bahá’í social activities and public meetings. Eugene began to think of those unanswered questions he had stored up from the Bible and began studying the Bahá’í Faith.  Eventually, he could not disprove what he learned while attending Sheldon Jackson.  He told his wife, Melba, “You know, I think I believe in this, I think I would like to be a Bahá’í.” That was on November 30, 1954.

 

A few days before that, Eugene had a dream.  He said he “got up one night and went into the living room and moved to his right.  The whole living room was aglow, then the walls, the ceiling and floor were all covered with leaves of gold, with a bright light toward the left where he saw a robed man with a black beard and. a long robe standing with a kindly look,” and He looked at Eugene as if he could see right through him.  The next night he was to meet with the Spiritual Assembly of Tacoma, and he was seated at the same place he stood the night before.  The Spiritual Assembly asked him some questions about the history of the Bahá’í Faith.  Eugene said he didn’t know much, but he believed in Bahá’u’lláh.  There he signed a Declaration card.  He said this was his physical act of a spiritual transformation.

 

Eugene gave his first talk on the Bahá’í Faith about Life after Death six months later.  He was elected Vice-Chairman of the Spiritual Assembly of Tacoma that same year and the following year he was elected Chairman, serving in that post for several years.  Eventually, they returned to Seattle where he also served as Chairman for many years.

 

Eugene and Melba moved to Douglas, Alaska to teach the tenets of the Bahá’í Faith to the Native people under the guidance of the National Spiritual Assembly of Alaska.  He traveled to Hoonah during the late 1950’s to early 1960.  He also went to Angoon, Fort Yukon, Fairbanks, Anchorage, Nenana, Southeast, Cordova, and Valdez.  He was elected to the Spiritual Assembly of Douglas and that year was elected a delegate to the Bahá’í National Convention, then in 1970 he was elected to the National Spiritual Assembly.  He served on that body in 1970-71.  Eugene and Melba moved back to Seattle for health reasons in April 1972.  Eugene returned to Juneau, Alaska in November 1979 after Melba passed away and was once again elected to the National Spiritual Assembly from 1980 to 1991, when poor health forced his resignation.

 

 

 

 

                                        

Early Tacoma Bahá’ís – Inga Wilson

 

         Inga Wilson in Tacoma in 1944

 

INGA CAROLINE WILSON

 

February 11, 1895 to September 5, 1984

 

From an interview with Judge Jack Tanner

 

I knew Inga Wilson since I was 10 or 11 years old.  She and Emmerson were married in 1916 – 3 years before I was born.  My father was best man at their wedding.  I worked for Emmerson for a time installing sprinkler systems in Lakewood.

 

When I was a child, there were Alice and Inga (Inga Wilson’s two daughters) and my older sister and me – four children in two families.  I was very found of Inga.  I felt like a son to her, and she considered me as her son, and a part of her family.

 

Inga followed my career.  I know she followed my career up to the time she died – I know this because Elizabeth Johnson would clip out all the news articles and send them to her.  I know Elizabeth very well.  She and Inga were always arguing.  Always!  Yet they were always the best of friends.  I never understood that.  They were always arguing over who was smartest: Norwegians or Swedes.  They would keep us rolling in the isle with laughter.

 

Inga was the most compassionate, thoughtful, and loving person I have ever known.  She didn’t have a prejudiced bone in her body.  She felt no prejudice with regard to race, religion or color.  If ever there was a person who practiced her faith, it was she.  A lot of people just go to church on Sunday.  She was not like that: she lived it and loved it and practiced her faith every day.

 

[Author of the above sketch is unknown.]

 

Obituary

            Inga Wilson, 89, a former Tacoma resident, died Sunday in Las Vegas where she had lived the past several years.

            She was born in Bergen, Norway, and came to Tacoma about 50 years ago. She lived in California before moving to Las Vegas. She was of the Bahá’í Faith.

            Survivors include two daughters, Mrs. Nick (Alicia) Georgiade of Las Vegas and Mrs. Richard (Inga) Jay of Tryon, N.C.; a  sister in Norway; and three grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

            Buckley-King Downtown is in charge.  

               

            (Tacoma News Tribune, Thursday, September 6, 1984)

 

Comment:

Inga Wilson’s funeral service was held in Tacoma on September 10, 1984.  Judge Jack Tanner spoke at her funeral.

 

 

Federal District Court Judge Jack Tanner

Photo courtesy of www.blackpast.org 

 

 

 

 

How ‘Abdu’l-Bahá treated His enemies

 

 

 

‘Abdu’l-Bahá

The Center of the Covenant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘Abdu’l-Bahá is shown writing, perhaps a letter to a Bahá’í.   

Photo courtesy of Médiathèque Baha’ie Francophone  www.bahai-biblio.org

 

Here is a story about how ‘Abdu’l-Bahá treated his enemies.

When the Master came to ‘Akká there lived there a certain man from Afghanistan, an austere and rigid Mussulman. To him the Master was a heretic. He felt and nourished a great enmity towards the Master, and roused up others against him. When opportunity offered in gatherings of the people, as in the Mosque, he denounced him with bitter words. His name was Haji Siddiq Musalman (Muslim).

‘This man,’ he said to all, ‘is an imposter. Why do you speak to him? Why do you have dealings with him?’ And when he passed the Master on the street he was careful to hold his robe before his face that his sight might not be defiled.

Thus did the Afghan. The Master, however, did thus:

The Afghan was poor and lived in a mosque; he was frequently in need of food and clothing. The Master sent him both. These he accepted, but without thanks. He fell sick. The Master took him a physician, food, medicine, money. These, also, he accepted; but as he held out one hand that the physician might take his pulse, with the other he held his cloak before his face that he might not look upon the Master. For twenty-four years the Master continued his kindnesses and the Afghan persisted in his enmity. Then at last one day the Afghan came to the Master’s door, and fell down, penitent and weeping, at his feet.

‘Forgive me, sir!’ he cried. ‘For twenty-four years I have done evil to you, for twenty-four years you have done good to me. Now I know that I have been in the wrong.’

The Master bade him rise, and they became friends.

From ‘Abdu’l-Bahá – The Centre of the Covenant, by H.M. Balyuzi

 

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

Courage & Sacrifice: Martyrs of Hamadan June 14, 1981

 

The Shrine of Bahá’u’lláh at Bahjí, north of Akká in Israel

 

 

“Let there be no compulsion in religion.”   Qur’án (2:256/257)

 ~

 

We have made abasement the garment of glory, and affliction the adornment of Thy temple, O Pride of the worlds.

 

Thou seest the hearts are filled with hate, and to overlook is Thine, O Thou Concealer of the sins of the worlds.

 

When the swords flash, go forward! When the shafts fly, press onward! O Thou Sacrifice of the worlds.

 

                                                                    Bahá’u’lláh

From the Lawh-i-Qad Ihtaraqa’l-Mukhlisún (The Fire Tablet)

~

 

A video tribute: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c6LwbauCrG8

Husayn Motlaq Aráni    Muhammad Baqer Habibi    Dr. Násir Vafá’í

Husayn Khándil    Sohráb Habíbí    Tarázu’lláh Khuzayn    Hossein Mutlaq

This is a tribute to the seven Bahá’í martyrs of Hamadan, Iran who suffered imprisonment and endured cruel torture before finally sacrificing their lives for their religious beliefs on June 14, 1981.

The excerpts from letters written in their final moments of life provide us with only a glimpse of the deep love for the families they left behind and the profound courage and nobility arising out of the depth of their love of God and their faith in His Messenger for this age, Bahá’u’lláh.

The hauntingly beautiful music was composed in their honor by Farzad Khozein, a nephew of one of the martyrs. To simply be a Bahá’í in Iran is an act of courage in and of itself. We who are fortunate enough to live in relative freedom continue to send them our love and our prayers.

Video and comments received courtesy of Edward Widmer

~

 Here is a more graphic account of their martyrdoms.

On June 14, 1981, seven members of the Local Spiritual Assembly of Hamadan were executed by a firing squad. Their bodies were released to the Bahá’í community for appropriate burial. Examination of the corpses while the bodies were being prepared for the funeral revealed that six of these men had been physically tortured before their deaths. The body of the seventh was “riddled with bullets.”

 

Reuters published a detailed account of the men’s injuries:

The body of Husayn Motlaq Aráni showed no signs of torture but he had been shot nine times. Muhammad Baqer Habibi had a broken shoulder; Dr. Násir Vafá’í had had his thighs cut open as far as the waist and had been shot seven times; Husayn Khándil had had the fingers of one hand pressed and his back had been burned; Sohráb Habíbí had had his back burned and had been shot five times and Tarázu’lláh Khuzayn suffered a smashed chest and left hand and had been shot seven times.

 

Similar reports reached the Bahá’í International Community:

The ribs of Tarázu’lláh Khuzayn were crushed, and his hands were slashed. His legs and thighs had been pierced with a bayonet, and the injuries had turned his skin black and the tissues were swollen. [He was sixty-four when he died.] Suhráb Habíbí’s back had been branded with a hot ring – his own – and he had severe burns. The fingers of Husayn Khándil were slashed and his abdomen had been cut open. Dr. Na’ímí’s back had been broken and Dr. Vafá’í’s thighs had been cut open; Suhayl Habíbí’s shoulders had been broken and smashed. Hossein Mutlaq had not been tortured but his body showed the greatest number of bullet wounds.

 

Courtesy Iran Human Rights Documentation Center www.iranhrdc.org

 

A remarkable episode in Yazd: Bahá’u’lláh

 

Dhabihu’llah Mahrami died in a prison cell in Yazd, Iran on December 15, 2005, where he had been held in jail for 10 years solely because he was a follower of Bahá’u’lláh.  The causes of his death are not clear. He was named a martyr by the Universal House of Justice. Photo and information courtesy of http://www.bahai.us/.

 

 

 

 

 

 Bahá’ís do not disbelieve in accounts of miracles found in the holy texts of other religions or in the ability of a Manifestation of God to perform them, although some of these accounts are actually symbolic expressions or metaphors for important spiritual occurrences.  After all, who can find them convincing or persuasive other than eye witnesses? And what do they have to do with a Manifestation’s divine mission? Even Pharoah’s priests were able to turn staffs into serpents in the presence of Moses, so apparently this power is not confined to God’s Messengers. As a result, Bahá’ís pay little attention to the personal accounts of believers or others of miracles by the Báb or Bahá’u’lláh.  They are given no special attention in our literature, but they are there.  

 

The martyrs of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh are not alone at the time of their martyrdom. Here is a remarkable story of  Bahá’u’lláh being physically present in two places at the same time – Akká and Yazd. Yazd has been the scene of much barbaric cruelty toward Bábís and Bahá’ís for over 160 years. The episode is the martyrdom of seven Bahá’ís in Yazd in 1891.  It is told by Adib Taherzadeh in The Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh, Vol III.

~

But thousands of men and women who went to the field of martyrdom and joyously laid down their lives in the path of God must have experienced the presence of Bahá’u’lláh so vividly and with such real feeling that the giving of life became a joy instead of torture. To cite an example, the following is a story which Haji Muhammad-Tahir-i-Malmiri has recounted about Mirza Aqay-i-Halabi Saz who was a devoted believer and had had the privilege of attaining the presence of Bahá’u’lláh. He was a tinsmith and had a shop in one of the bazaars of Yazd. In 1891, seven Bahá’ís were put to death by the order of Mahmud Mirza, the Jalalu’d-Dawlih, the Governor of Yazd. They are known as the first seven martyrs of Yazd, the story of whose martyrdom Bahá’u’lláh wrote to The Times of London. The seven were chained together and conducted towards the bazaar amid scenes of jubilation, and at each major crossroads one of them was executed in a most barbaric fashion. The other believers who were shopkeepers or merchants were ordered to stay at their premises and were forced to join others in decorating their shops to celebrate the event.

Haji Mirza was sitting in his shop, his heart filled with grief owing to the tragic turn of events. Then came the tense moment when the few remaining of the seven, chained together, passed in front of his shop. The next junction where one of them was to be beheaded was not far away and could be easily sighted. Haji Muhammad-Tahir-i-Malmiri has recounted that Haji Mirza used to tell the believers in Yazd of his unusual experience on that occasion. He saw to his great surprise that Bahá’u’lláh Himself passed in front of his shop only a few hundred paces behind the martyrs-to-be and was walking quickly in order to reach them. Haji Mirza immediately stepped out of his shop to follow Bahá’u’lláh, who signalled him with the movement of His hand that he should return to the shop. From there, Haji Mirza looked out and saw that Bahá’u’lláh reached the party at the junction and at that very moment the executioner removed the chain from one man and executed him.

Of course, Haji Mirza knew that Bahá’u’lláh was in ‘Akká and not in Yazd, but he had no doubt that it was Bahá’u’lláh whom he saw in the bazaar. From this amazing vision he realized that the martyrs were not alone at the time of martyrdom, that their unparalleled courage and heroism was not entirely due to themselves, that Bahá’u’lláh strengthened them with His unfailing power and that those who had reached the pinnacle of faith and assurance were bound to feel the  presence of Bahá’u’lláh at their side. It is interesting to note that some years later, Haji Mirza himself was martyred in Yazd.

What Haji Mirza witnessed in the bazaar, although there is no way of proving it, was not mere imagination. The Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh is not a man-made, man-inspired cult. Any cult which the minds of men have created can only be expressed within the bounds of man’s experience by virtue of its limitations. On the contrary, the Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh has originated from God, it has released unimaginable potentialities, both material and spiritual, within human society and like other religions it has brought forth mysteries which human beings can in no wise fathom. The history of the Faith shows episodes similar to that experienced by Haji Mirza.

 ~

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