August 14, 2012

A day When the Faithful Rejoiced – by Hand of the Cause Abu’l-Qasim Faizi

A gigantic container of pearls and jewels with multifarious forms and hues was the Albert Hall [1963, London, England] when more than 6,000 Baha'is assembled to celebrate the centenary of Baha’u’llah's Ascension to the Throne of Glory.

To give the full account of that memorable event is beyond one man's power and capacity. It is a task to be fulfilled by the collective activity of many friends around the world.

This is only to give some highlights of the Congress in the shade of historical events and stimulate our imagination to correlate the early events of the Cause with the fruitful results of today's achievements.

First of all our precious pioneers - those luminous souls who forsook their homes and friends and scattered far and wide and settled amongst people of many kinds - after all the years of separation from their friends, kith and kin, now once more came together.

Like unto sailors who, after many dangers and perils, found themselves safely ashore, they were ready to tell the wondrous stories of their travels and inspire the friends to do more.

Like unto lamps, shattered in parts and empty of fuel, once more in that atmosphere of love and unity they were refilled and were ready to return with more vigor and hope to their lonely and solitary posts.

As they sat in that hall and gazed upon the old familiar faces and the faces of their many new brothers and sisters from all over the planet, they remembered the many, many unendurable hours which they had suffered. Their shoulders were then lined with the garlands of the grateful appreciation of the Baha'i world, tears of joy, tears of profound memories of their years of loneliness filled their eyes, but the King of Heaven and Earth wiped their tears away.

My eyes feasted upon the faces of many of them and found them all full of vigor and enthusiasm, but the one which impressed me most was that of our valiant pioneer to one of the islands off the shores of Africa. She is the oldest believer of the United States and has given in the path of God all that God had graciously bestowed upon her. Alone with trembling hands and frail body she kept the standard of the Faith unfurled for all these years in that solitary island. With eyes wide open she looked at me and said, "Now I am at rest and am going to my pioneering post and am ready to welcome death with joy and peace."

Now let us go back to the first year of the Baha'i Era. There was no other topic to be discussed throughout the length and breadth of Persia except the advent of a certain young man who claimed to be the Promised One.

To create fear and wrath in the hearts of the people, the governors, hand in hand with the religious authorities, decreed the demolition and confiscation of properties of all who even appeared to be adherents of the new Faith.

One day crowds of people gathered in the streets of Shiraz to watch a procession. The cruel and impious ruler of the town had reviled and cursed three men, stripped them of their clothes, burned their beards, scourged one of them with one thousand lashes, and pierced their noses and through the incisions cords were passed with which the three men were led through the town. These three heroes were: Quddus, Mulla Sadiq Muqaddas and Mulla Ali Akbar Ardestani.

Now what has this to do with our story?

The daughter of no less a person than Mulla 'Ali Akbar Ardestani was amongst the 6,000 friends who attended the Congress. Though extremely old and frail, and very weak in her eyes, she attended all the sessions. Though she did not understand a word of English, she sat there from morning till evening feeling exalted and happy beyond description by just being in that atmosphere so much imbued with the love of a Faith for the promulgation of which her father suffered so greatly.

What visions passed her mind and what waves of joy covered her aching heart when she sat in that hall?

The noble and graceful image of her illustrious father amidst vicissitudes, tribulations and painful humiliations, appeared in the far off horizons shedding light on the blissful course of love, well trodden by the lovers of God, and suddenly the quickening spirit of that Congress changed all the wild clamors of the mobs and the scornful laughter of the streets of Shiraz into the most penetrating chanting of the Greatest Name by our dearly beloved friends of Africa.

Then she remembered that not long ago the irresponsible farmers of a certain village near Tihran attacked most ferociously the apple of her eye, her most beloved son, and tore him into pieces. No voice was raised against these atrocities and no signs of justice were ever manifested in the whole country. Through the torrents of tears shed in remembering the sad, sad hours of bereavement and silent sufferings, she witnessed the supreme legislative body of the Baha'i World give new light to the whole of the world. Those nine precious and valiant souls stood there like unto a fortress in the heart of which the Cause of God would forever remain protected. "Do you see your grandson?"[1] her daughter whispered in her ears. "Do you see him there, one of the nine members of the Universal House of Justice?" A faint smile appeared on her lips and a sigh of relief took away the burden of one century of suffering from her loving heart. Verily it was the day when the faithful rejoiced. (Baha’i News, February 1964, reprinted from Baha'i Journal, the publication of the NSA of the British Isles, June 1963)

[1] Hushmand Fath-i-'Azam is the great grandson of Mulla 'Ali Akbar Ardestani, and his wife Shafiqih Khanum is the great granddaughter of his fellow sufferer, Mulla Sadiq Muqaddas.