July 29, 2010

The Marriage of ‘Abdu’l-Baha

It was in the summer of 1873 that 'Abdu'l-Baha [then 29 years old] was married to Munirih Khanum, the niece of two brothers who were devoted followers of Baha'u'llah in Isfahan [six years later they became King and Beloved of the martyrs] She had been brought to 'Akka by Baha'u'llah in early 1873, at a time when the situation was very difficult due to the murder of the Azalis and all other Baha'i pilgrims had been told to stay away. 'Abdu'l-Baha himself had been reluctant to marry, although a number of spouses had been proposed to him over the years. He felt he could serve his father better if he remained single, as indeed did his sister Bahiyyih Khanum who never married. Although he had turned down the other spouses who had been proposed to him, he was attracted to Munirih Khanum and agreed to marry her. The marriage was put off for a few months however because the tight accommodation in their place of residence meant that the couple could not have a room to themselves. llyas 'Abbud, their neighbor who lived in the other half of the same building and who had been so fearful of the Baha’is earlier, had by this time been won over by 'Abdu'l-Baha. Bahiyyih Khanum [‘Abdu’l-Baha’s sister] went to the wife of Ilyas 'Abbud and told her of the problem. When he was informed, 'Abbud immediately opened up a doorway between his residence and Baha'u'llah's and gave ‘Abdu'l-Baha a room in his house for his use. Once this happened the marriage was able to proceed.

July 19, 2010

An example of God’s wrath when followers of a religion became totally attached to dogmas and blind imitations and gave up the essential foundation and reality of their religion

… when the Jews became fettered by empty forms and imitations, the wrath of God became manifest. When they forsook the foundations of the law of God, Nebuchadnezzar came and conquered the Holy Land. He killed and made captive the people of Israel, laid waste the country and populous cities and burned the villages. Seventy thousand Jews were carried away captive to Babylon. He destroyed Jerusalem, despoiled the great Temple, desecrated the Holy of Holies and burned the Torah, the heavenly book of Scriptures. Therefore, we learn that allegiance to the essential foundation of the divine religions is ever the cause of development and progress, whereas the abandonment and beclouding of that essential reality through blind imitations and adherence to dogmatic beliefs are the causes of a nation's debasement and degradation. After their conquest by the Babylonians the Jews were successively subjugated by the Greeks and Romans. Under the Roman general Titus in A.D. 70 the Holy Land was stripped and pillaged, Jerusalem razed to its foundations and the Israelites scattered broadcast throughout the world. So complete was their dispersion that they have continued without a country and government of their own to the present day [1912].

From this review of the history of the Jewish people we learn that the foundation of the religion of God laid by Moses was the cause of their eternal honor and national prestige, the animating impulse of their advancement and racial supremacy and the source of that excellence which will always command the respect and reverence of those who understand their peculiar destiny and outcome. The dogmas and blind imitations which gradually obscured the reality of the religion of God proved to be Israel's destructive influences, causing the expulsion of these chosen people from the Holy Land of their Covenant and promise. 
(Abdu'l-Baha, from a talk, 'The Promulgation of Universal Peace')

July 14, 2010

“Bahá'u'lláh upraised the standard of His Cause in prison ... -- a prisoner and an exile advancing His Cause and spreading His teachings broadcast so that eventually He became powerful enough to conquer the very king who banished Him.”

Inside prison walls He wrote Epistles to all the kings and rulers of nations, summoning them to arbitration and universal peace. Some of the kings received His words with disdain and contempt. One of these was the Sultan of the Ottoman kingdom. Napoleon III of France did not reply. A second Epistle was addressed to him. It stated, "I have written you an Epistle before this, summoning you to the Cause of God, but you are of the heedless. You have proclaimed that you were the defender of the oppressed; now it hath become evident that you are not. Nor are you kind to your own suffering and oppressed people. Your actions are contrary to your own interests, and your kingly pride must fall. Because of your arrogance God shortly will destroy your sovereignty. France will flee away from you, and you will be overwhelmed by a great conquest. There will be lamentation and mourning, women bemoaning the loss of their sons." This arraignment of Napoleon III was published and spread.

Read it and consider: one prisoner, single and solitary, without assistant or defender, a foreigner and stranger imprisoned in the fortress of 'Akká, writing such letters to the Emperor of France and Sultan of Turkey. Reflect upon this: how Bahá'u'lláh upraised the standard of His Cause in prison. Refer to history. It is without parallel. No such thing has happened before that time nor since -- a prisoner and an exile advancing His Cause and spreading His teachings broadcast so that eventually He became powerful enough to conquer the very king who banished Him. 
(‘Abdu’l-Baha, from a talk, 'The Promulgation of Universal Peace')

July 13, 2010

Dr. Ugo Giachery is appointed by the Guardian, Shoghi Effendi, as his personal representative for all the work in Italy associated with the erection of the superstructure of the Shrine of the Bab on Mr. Carmel

Ugo Giachery, born and educated in Palermo, Sicily, pursued a widely varied course of studies, receiving from the Royal University of Palermo a doctorate in chemistry, in which subject he engaged in teaching and research and published a number of papers. He served with distinction in the First World War. After living in the United States for some years, he and & wife returned to Italy in 1947 as pioneer teachers of the Baha'i Faith. From then on his career was one of continuing distinguished services.

In 1948 Dr. Ugo Giachery was appointed by Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Baha'i Faith, as his personal representative for all the work in Italy associated with the erection of the superstructure of the Shrine of the Bab on Mr. Carmel. It was this service which brought him the immortal honour of having the south-western door of the original Shrine named after him as 'Bab-i-Giachery'. In 1951 Shoghi Effendi appointed Dr. Giachery Hand of the Cause of God, and in 1952 'Member at Large' of the international Baha'i Council, the forerunner of the Universal House of Justice. In 1953 he became chairman of the first National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Italy and Switzerland.

Dr. Giachery was the Guardian's 'special representative' at the Intercontinental Conferences in Stockholm in 1953 and Chicago in 1958, and for a number of years was Baha'i Observer to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations in Geneva. He also translated Baha'i literature into Italian and is the author of several articles on the Baha'i Faith. In 1954, work began on the Baha'i International Archives building on Mt. Carmel, and once again Dr. Giachery became the Guardian's personal representative in Italy. The completion of the building in I957 brought much satisfaction to Shoghi Effendi in the last months of his life. 
(Back cover of the book ‘Shoghi Effendi, Recollections by Ugo Giachery’)

July 7, 2010

Exceptionally cold weather during which Baha’u’llah and His Family were exiled to Adrianople

Pursuant to the peremptory orders issued for the immediate departure of the already twice banished exiles, Bahá'u'lláh, His family, and His companions, some riding in wagons, others mounted on pack animals, with their belongings piled in carts drawn by oxen, set out, accompanied by Turkish officers, on a cold December morning, amidst the weeping of the friends they were leaving behind, on their twelve-day journey, across a bleak and windswept country, to a city characterized by Bahá'u'lláh as "the place which none entereth except such as have rebelled against the authority of the sovereign." "They expelled Us," is His own testimony in the Suriy-i-Mulúk, "from thy city (Constantinople) with an abasement with which no abasement on earth can compare." "Neither My family, nor those who accompanied Me," He further states, "had the necessary raiment to protect them from the cold in that freezing weather." And again: "The eyes of Our enemies wept over Us, and beyond them those of every discerning person." "A banishment," laments Nabil, "endured with such meekness that the pen sheddeth tears when recounting it, and the page is ashamed to bear its description." "A cold of such intensity," that same chronicler records, "prevailed that year, that nonagenarians could not recall its like. In some regions, in both Turkey and Persia, animals succumbed to its severity and perished in the snows. The upper reaches of the Euphrates, in Ma'dan-Nuqrih, were covered with ice for several days -- an unprecedented phenomenon -- while in Diyar-Bakr the river froze over for no less than forty days." "To obtain water from the springs," one of the exiles of Adrianople recounts, "a great fire had to be lighted in their immediate neighborhood, and kept burning for a couple of hours before they thawed out."

Traveling through rain and storm, at times even making night marches, the weary travelers, after brief halts at Kuchik-Chakmachih, Buyuk-Chakmachih, Salvari, Birkas, and Baba-Iski, arrived at their destination, on the first of Rajab 1280 A.H. (December 12, 1863) 
(Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 161)

July 6, 2010

Baha’u’llah Reveals the Station of ‘Abdu’l-Baha – the Suriy-i-Ghusn (Surih of the Branch)

It was in Adrianople that Bahá'u'lláh revealed a Tablet the significance of which cannot be over-estimated. That Tablet was the Suriy-i-Ghusn (Surih of the Branch) addressed to Mirza 'Ali-Riday-i-Mustawfi, a Bahá'í of Khurasan --that province in eastern Persia famed in the Bábí Dispensation and to which some momentous prophecies of Bahá'u'lláh specifically apply. Mirza 'Ali-Rida was a high-ranking official in the service of the government, and his brother, Mirza Muhammad-Rida …also a follower of Bahá'u'lláh, was the Vizier of Khurasan. In the Suriy-i-Ghusn, Bahá'u'lláh thus extols His eldest Son: