Monday, August 31, 2009

August 31st in Baha'i History

1868: Bahá’u’lláh arrives in ‘Akká.
A sailing-boat took the exiles from Haifa, across the bay to 'Akká. Wild rumours had preceded them, and the inhabitants of the town were puzzled, curious, and certainly prejudiced, hostile and even contemptuous. Some of them were at the quayside to gape at 'The God of the Persians', and to jeer. It was the afternoon of 31 August 1868, corresponding to the twelfth day of Jamadiyu'l-Avval AH 1285, that Bahá'u'lláh, with His family and companions, entered the 'Most Great Prison' and were incarcerated in the strongly-fortified citadel.

(H.M. Balyuzi, Baha'u'llah - The King of Glory, p. 269)

1876: 'Abdu'l-Hamid II becomes Sultan, upon which the banishment decree of Sultan 'Abdu'l-Aziz is relaxed.

1912 – Abdul-Baha was in Montreal
In the morning, the pastor of the Unitarian Church came with several others to visit `Abdu'l-Bahá. The Master discussed with them the elimination of religious superstitions and prejudices, which are contrary to science and common sense and which are obstacles to the attainment of the foundation of truth of the divine religions.
A newspaper reporter was then announced. He had come to interview the Master about His life and the history of the Cause. `Abdu'l-Bahá gave a detailed account, which was recorded by the reporter.
The Master went to the dinner table. Mr Maxwell had come from the customs house and said that when the inspector opened the first suitcase and saw a picture of the Master, he asked, `Is this the picture of the prophet of Persia?' When he received an affirmative reply, the inspector said, `There is no need to inspect these goods' and released all the luggage.
Some of the newspapers accounts about the visit of the Master are full of reverence and praise.
In the afternoon, at the invitation of Mr Maxwell, the Master went for ride in the town. While in the carriage He remarked:
Every city in which the remembrance of God is raised is a divine city. `Akká was a despised city but when it became the center of the mention of God and the dawning place of His Light, it illumined the world.
When He saw some of the college buildings, `Abdu'l-Bahá said:
As only material education is imparted and only natural philosophy is taught, these universities do not produce highly talented scholars. When both the natural and the divine philosophies are expounded, they will bring forth outstanding souls and evince great advancement. The reason for the success of the Greek schools was that they combined both natural and divine philosophies.
As His carriage passed by the Unitarian Church, He said, `Tomorrow we will raise the Call of God in this place.'
The carriage reached the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Notre Dame. Everything was quiet and no one was in sight. The Master alighted and went in to see the huge building. With rapt attention, He gazed at the vast cathedral, its ornamentation and numerous statues and spoke of its grandeur and embellishments. Standing in an open space at the entrance, He addressed us saying:
Behold what eleven disciples of Christ have accomplished, how they sacrificed themselves! I exhort you to walk in their footsteps. When a person is detached, he is capable of revolutionizing the whole world. The disciples of Christ met together in consultation on top of a mountain. They pledged themselves to undergo all manner of hardships, to accept every affliction as a bounty and to consider all difficulties easy to overcome. `He who is tied to a family, let him arrange to leave it; he who is not should remain single. He should forgo his comfort and his life.' Consulting thus, they descended from the mountain and each one went a different way and never returned. It is for this reason that they were able to leave behind such achievements. After Christ, the disciples truly forgot themselves, and not merely in word. Hence, the Blessed Beauty cited:
Either be like women and indulge in adornment and pleasureOr like men, come out and throw down the gauntlet.

`Abdu'l-Bahá took His seat in the carriage again and told us:
On our way to Baghdád we had to put up with unbearable hardships. At one time a Turkish soldier of the Ottoman army appeared before us. Mírzá Yahyá, on seeing the soldier sitting on the horse with majesty and dignity, cried out with great grief and despair, `Oh! Where were we? Where are we now going? They say that all heads will bow. When shall it be?' I said to him in reply, `When the divine bounty attains perfection, persons greater than this soldier will bow their heads under the shadow of the Word of God.' Where is Mírzá Yahyá now? Let him come and see how the power of Bahá'u'lláh has so inspired humility in these Americans, who consider the Turks as nothing, that a person like Mr Maxwell, an American, is with deference serving Mírzá Ahmad, a Persian.

In the evening there was a well-attended meeting at `Abdu'l-Bahá's residence. He spoke, with good effect, about spiritual progress and the manifestation of divine virtues in human realities. Afterwards many requested private interviews. On receiving satisfactory answers to their questions, they expressed their heartfelt gratitude. Among them was the president of a socialist organization who invited the Master to his group. His request was granted. As it grew late in the evening and other people were waiting for private interviews, we suggested that since the Master might be weary, it would be better if the rest of those waiting came back in the morning. He replied, `No, this is the time to work. We must not think of our fatigue. Everyone is to be met.'

1983 – Announcement that 3 elderly Baha’i’s died in prison
Three believers who were advanced in age have died in prison and thus have joined the ranks of those who have laid down their lives in service to the Cause. They are: Mr Husayn Nayyiri-Isfahani, 64 years old -- imprisoned in Isfahan and died just as he was going into court for his trial on 29 November 1982. Mr Ahmad-'Ali Thabit-Sarvistani, 67 years old -- died in prison in Shiraz on 30 June 1983. Mr Muhammad Ishraqi, 81 years old, an Auxiliary Board member -- died in prison in Tihran on 31 August 1983.

(The Universal House of Justice, Messages 1963 to 1986, p. 605)

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