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Memories of Nine Years in Akka

by Youness Khan Afroukhteh

translated by Riaz Masrour.
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Chapter 8

[page 369]


He is the Most Glorious!

Arrival at Beirut

'Abdu'l-Bahá's counsels on how to attract divine confirmations (presented in the last part of Chapter 6) left such an indelible impression on my otherwise confused and muddled memory that even now, after thirty or forty years, their highlights still endure in my thoughts. At the time they were imparted to me, they illumined the horizon of my future. Yet remoteness from that Threshold was very difficult to bear, especially when the inspectors were interrogating a number of people, some of whom had provided testimonies to please the Covenant-breakers, while others, forced to comply, signed whatever the Commission had already concluded. A troubled heart, an anxious nature, and a confused mind did not leave me many resources to resist the onslaught of such agonizing hardships, and so I found solace in undamming the river of my tears. As it is said:

Tears are the cure for the incurable pain, A weeping ye is the fountain of God's grace.

From friend and foe horrifying news continued to pour in, for the doors of direct correspondence and communication were closed, and people repeated whatever they had heard. It was rumoured that these tyrants of the earth [the Commission] had been summoning individuals from every class of people

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-Muslims, Jews, Christians, Easterners, Westerners and ever a number of 'Akka's political prisoners-and were preparing depositions against the Beloved of the world. Many people had signed these testimonials without a second look, while those who had refused to sign had been thrown into prison. A number of the friends who had not complied with 'Abdu'l-Bahá's many warnings to leave 'Akka, or who had failed to act quickly enough and had been left behind, had been arrested. Aqa Mirza Jalal, the son of the King of Martyrs, who had delayed too long, was arrested on the road on his way out of 'Akka.

The exalted Mirza Abu'l-Fadl, that renowned veteran teacher of the Faith, the products of whose mighty pen have adorned the pages of Bahá'í literature and whose words and deeds had prompted the conversion of many Western believers, had returned to Egypt, having completed his teaching work in the United States of America. 'Abdu'l-Bahá had then invited him to move his residence to 'Akka, so that he might live out the remaining years of his life at that sanctified threshold near the Holy Shrines, forsaking the arduous task of speaking in order to engage himself in the rewarding work of disseminating the Holy Writings.

He had been living in 'Akka for some time, but now the prevailing unstable and chaotic conditions rendered any further stay dangerous. The Master therefore sent him to Beirut, which was relatively a safer place, and subsequently charged me with the honourable task of attending to him in that city. This bounty became a blessing for the entire community of friends at Beirut as well, since for a few days wonderful, spiritual gatherings were arranged. But before long, an urgent command was received from 'Abdu'l-Bahá , advising caution, "so that you may be safeguarded in the face of the hatred of the Ottoman tyrants". In a short Tablet in his honour sent in my care, He wrote about the harshness of the conditions: "To depict the severity of the situation, suffice it to say that the Arab grocer nearby, who refused to give testimony against Me, has been put in prison."

[page 371]

In brief, Abu'l-Fadl departed from Beirut, which increased my solitude. In those lonely times my days were spent in the study of medicine, but my thoughts were so utterly occupied by the events in the Holy Land that even attending classes brought me sorrow and pain. At night the uneasiness of worry and anxiety allowed me no sleep; past events, and the infinite bounties and blessings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá unfolded before my mind's eye. My thoughts were so confused that at every minute-nay, every second-I was entertaining the idea of considering other alternatives and taking some action. When I envisioned the loving-kindness of the Master I told myself. I will go back to 'Akka no matter what. But when I remembered His parting words, including His promises of reunion, I heartened myself by reciting the verse:

It is true that nothing is more difficult than remotness from the Beloved, But if there is hope of reunion then it can be endured.

When I became utterly hopeless, I beheld that heavenly Being before my mind's eye and recited to myself.

My day passes in pain and my night in wonder, How unbearable is the passing of time without You.

In brief, all the verses of poetry I had ever memorized in my life -both Bahá'í and non-Bahá'í-passed through my thoughts. The poet Adar Tusi has written about separation:

Afflicted with the pain of separation, it is better to die, None knows the cure for this illness better than I.

But I did not agree with this poem; I liked the one by Sa'di better. His words speak from the depths of the heart:

To die in the path of search for the Beloved is easy, It IS living that IS difficult.

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I was not the only one burning in the fire of separation from Him; many of the friends in other parts of the world were faring much worse. When communication between even 'Akka and Haifa, a distance of no more than an hour, was cut off, it should be clear how terrible must have been its impact on the friends in far-off cities of the world. At the beginning of the upheaval, the late Haji Siyyid Taqi Manshadi was responsible for receiving and sending the mail. In accordance with the Master's instructions, he informed the Bahá'í world that any pilgrim who was on his way to 'Akka should suspend his travel and postpone his journey, and either stay wherever he was or return home. In the days of the Blessed Beauty incidents of this nature had also taken place, and in accordance with His instructions the pilgrim's journey changed into residence at whatever place he had reached. However, in those times the pilgrims did not come in large numbers, but now there were two or three in every city whose travel came to a halt. In Badkubih, Tbilisi, Istanbul, Egypt and Beirut a number of individuals bided their time in fear and anticipation. In Beirut this painful dart of separation had afflicted two people. One was that renowned teacher of the Faith, Mirza Tarazu'llah Samandari. Much distressed, he was waiting out his time in pain and misery in a room at a local inn. Sometimes I visited him to cheer him up. I would tell him:

Come, all you heartbroken ones, let's console each other, For only the heartbroken knows the pain of a broken heart.

To comfort him I recounted the glad tidings and promises that I had heard from the lips of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, using all my eloquence, and yet:

I heard a sweet word from the old man of Canaan, Separation from the Beloved cannot be expressed in words.

How does a man look who has received a thousand horrifying

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pieces of news during the day and has not slept a moment all night? That was exactly what I saw in the face of Samandari. For a time things continued in this vein, but then we received a hopeful bit of news from Mr. Manshadi communicating a message from 'Abdu'l-Bahá: 'A good end is the reward of the pious." This news brought relief; little by little tranquillity and peace were restored to 'Akka; Mr. Samandari was summoned; and after a time the cannon blast of divine confirmation was heard and communications between this city and 'Akka were reopened. But I must add:

It IS true that the fruit of the tree of separation is reunion, Yet I wish the eternal Farmer had not such a seed sown.

What sort of place was Beirut? The city of Beirut was at that time not only the centre of learning in the Ottoman Empire, but also the centre for the most important collection of educational institutions in the Middle East. There were numerous schools and (in today's terminology) two universities, one French and one American; these were attended by a large number of students. While the population of the city did not exceed 125,000 Souls (25,000 Muslims, 100,000 Christians and a few Jews), yet its political importance was such that its Governor was more powerful than the governors of other provinces. During 'Abdu'l-Bahá's journey to Beirut in the days of the Blessed Beauty, the Muslim religious scholars of that city had developed such devotion and affection for the Master that they continued to express these sincere and heartfelt sentiments in their later correspondence. The people in general, and all the Muslims in particular, considered 'Abdu'l-Bahá to be Master and Lord, the possessor of spiritual powers. The various Christian denominations, whose religious beliefs could not countenance the idea of ascribing to the Master the position of Messiah-as had been done by some du'l-Baha nevertheless admitted without hesitation the greatness of Bahá'u'lláh

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and the magnanimity and generosity of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, whose name they praised. All this was due to 'Abdu'l-Bahá's journey to Beirut.{222}

The Persians and other Shi'ites in the city, despite their hatred for the Faith while in Iran, here in Beirut as well as in other cities of Syria referred to 'Abdu'l-Bahá with great respect. The officials of the Ottoman government, whether high or low, regarded the Master as one of God's apostles in the field of spiritual knowledge and personal detachment, and thus considered assistance to His followers to be a religious duty. For example, in the majority of the Customs' offices there, whenever they discovered someone to be a follower of 'Abbas Effendi they treated him with perfect courtesy.

The Covenant-breakers, however, from the onset of their rebellion and the dissemination of their despicable literature, their provocation and inciting of the local populations of various cities against the Faith, their correspondence with the Islamic religious scholars of those regions ascribing to the Master a variety of charges, even presenting a long list of grievances and pleading for justice (as previously described under the title or pumpkin bowl?"), made every effort to confuse the minds and hearts of the population with such deceptive practices in order to attract their sympathy and assistance. In the face of all these trials and tribulations, 'Abdu'l-Bahá's expressions of kindness and love towards those scholars did not diminish, nor did His customary practice of bestowing gifts and granting favours , which was one of His natural qualities. In fact, if anything, such bestowals of kindness increased.

From the time the Commission of Enquiry arrived in 'Akka (when I had already reached Beirut), and especially in the course of those few days when a number of meetings were arranged in the presence of the exalted Mirza Abu'l-Fadl the agents of the Covenant-breakers like birds of the night came to Beirut in the guise of businessmen. They said they were hoping to trade with the Iranian merchants, some

[page 375]

of whom were the guardians or sponsors of Iranian students. In making such contacts they created an atmosphere of apprehension and mistrust with regard to the Faith of God. They also hoped to mislead and deceive the young students by sowing the seeds of discord and dissension. It is interesting to note that up to that time no followers of Yahya had attended any of the schools. Now, however, a couple of them appeared during the course of my studies. Now let us see what the advice and admonitions of 'Abdu'l-Bahá would do for me.

The conditions of this servant in Beirut

In a collection of memoirs such as this, compiled with the purpose of contributing to the teaching work by acquainting the friends with the events of yesteryear, no space should be allotted for any description of the conditions of this unworthy servant. However, since everything that happened next in fact fulfilled 'Abdu'l-Bahá's promises and manifested the power of the admonitions of that loving Master, it deserves to be mentioned, as it will surely be of interest to any believer who wishes to gain a deeper understanding of the words of that sanctified personage regarding present and future events. For example, had I not paid close attention to His words when He mentioned, either in passing or in a quick reference, that a certain event would happen and gave advice as to how it should be encountered, when the event came to pass my disregard of His admonitions would have surely spelled the loss of a lifetime of work. One must therefore consider that in each divine utterance there exists a world of significance, as it is said: "One single utterance contains an ocean of meanings." In brief, as described in the last section of Chapter 6, I arrived in Beirut filled with gloom and in a state of despair and hopelessness. With all the confidence that I had in the promises of the Master when His counsels and advice were uppermost in my mind, the past with all its divine blessings

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seemed like a bright and radiant day, whiIe the future looked dark and sombre. So whenever I pondered this sombre future I would recollect one of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's promises, and through that narrow opening I was able to behold a bright and brilliant world. So, after finding a place to live and getting properly settled, I embarked on my study of the sciences. While the means of continuing my education was quickly provided, yet whenever I reviewed the curriculum and compared its requirements with my abilities and talents, I said to myself, 'Alas, between love and attainment there are thousands of miles." I wondered about the seemingly endless distance between me and the mastery of A these sciences. But then, whenever the demon of despair spread its shadow over my head, I searched for deliverance in the utterances of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, until the light of hope shone with such power that my eyes were blinded by its intensity, and my being was thrilled by such joy and delight that I would spontaneously jump up from my seat. Since I was constantly preoccupied with my past life in 'Akka, many of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's words uttered over the course of several years stood out clearly in my mind. Therefore, whenever I encountered problems or found a door closed to me, I was able to find the key in those utterances. At the same time, I was aware that to remain idle, awaiting the descent of divine confirmations, was sheer heresy, for the Master had on many occasions explained the meaning of this concept in emphatic terms: "Confirmation revolves around action, confirmation revolves around action." So I never shirked action and was never deprived of heavenly grace. For example, although I had been away from the academic world for many years, and at the age of thirty-five had lost the patience required to deal with mathematics and its applications to chemistry and medical physics, yet my progress was so rapid that before long I found a number of pupils, and in the preliminary examinations in the medical sciences I almost achieved first place. In examinations in

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philosophy and literature, which are the natural talents of every Bahá'í, I excelled to the point of becoming well known among my peers. Entrance to the Medical School required certain other obstacles to be overcome. For example, the submission of a high school diploma and a copy of a birth certificate, which were not customary documents in Iran, were major prerequisites. For the high school diploma I presented as supporting documentation the licences I had acquired from the International Bank, and postponed the issue of the birth certificate with a promise to provide it as soon as I received a copy from Iran. The other problem was that while the number of applicants was many, the Medical School would only admit the few who were capable of passing the entrance exams -just as it says in the Bible: "Many are called but few are chosen." I, however, was accepted with great deference. In fact, although I was a Persian and a Bahá'í, which in the opinion of certain opponents of the Faith was unacceptable, yet praised be God, during the entire course of my studies the grace and bounty of Bahá'u'lláh were so overwhelming that I was accorded perfect courtesy and cooperation in all matters and affairs. Why do you think that was? First, because I had set out to study medicine by the will of the Beloved of the world of existence: "When it is God's will, He saith 'Be', and it is." Secondly, during the entire period of my studies I constantly strove to live in accordance with each and every guideline imparted to me, and this truly was another heavenly blessing for which I can never find adequate words of thanksgiving. Another problem, which by comparison was more difficult and critical, and which no powers of initiative or action could resolve, was the expense associated with the cost of the Medical School, as well as my living expenses in Beirut. When I left 'Akka, 'Abdu'l-Bahá had given me the equivalent of ten French liras; this was spent in a few days, and then I found myself faced with a problem which I did not seem to be able to resolve. The situation was clearly critical. Conditions in Iran were even worse. After the passing of my father some

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two years before, troublemakers and thugs had crowded around the house in order to take possession of the body and set it on fire. He had, therefore, been buried within the confines of the house. Furthermore, the aftermath of the uprising associated with the Constitutional Revolution had added to the problems. The only remaining alternative was what 'Abdu'l-Bahá had frequently advised: 'Ask whatsoever thou wishest of Him alone; seek whatsoever thou seekest from Him alone,"{223} and so I recited this prayer: "Open unto me the doors of ease and comfort, free me from the world, and supply me with Thine unheralded gifts from heaven."{224}

One day the late Aqa Muhammad Mustafa Baghdadi, that intrepid believer whose outstanding services have illumined the annals of the Cause, and who was housebound because of his semi-blindness, summoned me to his presence and with great persistence asked me to do a favour for him. After I had accepted, he proposed to open a checking account for me at his business, at an interest rate of nine per cent for a number of years. It was agreed that the same rate would apply to whatever funds I might receive from Iran and deposit in that account. In the end, the account was opened and the issue of my living expenses was resolved.

A few months later I received a letter from my brother Mirza Fadlu'llah, informing me that in the two years since the passing of our father the neighbours had made a lot of trouble, protesting that if the house eventually turned into a holy shrine for the Bahá'ís, the Muslims would flee the area and property values would fall. This had led to an uprising with the intent to attack the house and dig up and destroy my father's remains. The remains were, therefore, exhumed at night and removed to the Muslim Cemetery. The house was then sold and the funds transferred to me in Beirut. I was able to put this money into the checking account, and it supported me for several years. Some years later, after my return to Iran, Tehran's golestan-i-javid{225} was constructed and with the help of the same gentlemen who had removed my father's remains to the Muslim Cemetery, we transferred them to the golestan-i-javid.

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That grenade that missed the breast of Sultan 'Abdu'l-Hamid struck the liver of the Covenant-breakers

The above narrative has distracted our attention from the main theme, so let us return to the story. The news of the attack on the person of the Sultan by a group of political partisans, which 'Abdu'l-Bahá had humorously referred to as the "cannon blast of divine confirmation", at last reached Beirut. But as some of the pilgrims who had been biding their time in various cities in an agonizing state of wait-and-see were gradually granted permission to travel, it became clear that while those horrible events which had been rumoured among the friends had not come to pass, yet the banishment of 'Abdu'l-Bahá to the Fezzan Desert in Libya, though not destined to come about, had nevertheless been ordered. The Master frequently made mention of this point. However, now that the Covenant-breakers' last dart had missed its target, they realized that they were both inwardly and outwardly defeated. As their last hopes of a possible recovery were dashed, they crept back into the deep recesses of oblivion, and thus those birds of the night lost any hope of further flight-nay, of any movement at all.

Ordinarily, whenever the Covenant-breakers' attempts against the Faith ended in total failure, they would bide their time for a while in quiet contemplation, and then putting their heads together they would emerge with a fresh approach and a new trick. Now we have to see if this story of Gog and Magog{226} would be repeated.

In this connection, let us recall one of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's utterances. Some four years earlier, while at the dinner table He had spoken on the topic of misfortune and adversity, as well as the tyranny and rebellion of the Covenant-breakers. I was quite moved and saddened by His words, and so I asked, "Will these Covenant-breakers continue to thrive in this world?" "What are you saying?" retorted 'Abdu'l-Bahá, seemingly

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astonished at my question. "They will be finished in four years. Mirza Badi'u'llah himself told me: 'Master, we are done for."' Then He added, "But a trace of the followers of Yahya will remain." The words "four years" which 'Abdu'l-Bahá had used as an example could have been understood to mean any length of time, even up to ten times that figure. I nevertheless took it to heart. At the end of the four years this prediction was entirely fulfilled. Moreover, a few months after the episode of the "blast of divine confirmation", when I was in 'Akka at the threshold of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, He spoke one day in the pilgrim house about the unseen Hand and heavenly power. In conclusion He said, "The attack made on the Ottoman Sultan, and consequently his being forced to ignore the report made by the inspectors of the Commission of Enquiry, were both part of the blast of divine confirmation." As soon as I heard this, I told myself, "That dart of fate, which missed the breast of the Sultan, struck at the very liver of the Covenant-breakers."

Another look at Beirut

It had been some years since the honoured Muhammad Mustafa Baghdadi, together with his sons (Husayn Iqbal, 'Ali Ihsan, and Zia Mabsout) had established a substantial business venture in Beirut with a branch in Alexandria. This respected family had been an example of service to the Cause and was always recognized in that capacity. Their services to the Faith were so numerous, especially during the Ministry of the Centre of the Covenant, that they had aroused the hatred and jealousy of the Covenant-breakers who called them "the fathers of apostasy". There were many other friends residing in Beirut at that time, whose names I can no longer recall. From the time when the Iranian students arrived in the city, the Faith began to thrive. In the meantime, the Covenant breakers sent their own teachers to the city in order to confuse the minds of the Muslim population.

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After their defeat and the frustration of all their hopes, communications between 'Akka and Beirut were restored and news began to arrive every day. I used to spend the summer months of each year in 'Akka engaged in writing. The summers of the last two years, however, were spent in Haifa, in the proximity of the Shrine of the Bab. Some of the Bahá'í students whom I can remember from that time are Dr. Zia Mabsout Baghdadi, Valiyu'llah Khan-i-Varqa, Dr. Mu'ayyad, Mirza Badi' Bushru'i, Mirza 'Abbas Tahiri, Dr. Muhammad Salih from Egypt, Riaz Salim from Egypt, and Jinab-i-Bashari, along with a few Bahá'ís from Tabriz. Every week on Sunday afternoons we came together in a large meeting in a corner of the gardens of the American School, which we referred to as Mashriqu'l-Adhkar. The school authorities were sympathetic towards the Bahá'í youth and encouraged such meetings.

The everlasting disgrace of the Covenant-breaker was simultaneous with the removal of Sultan 'Abdu'l-Hamid

In the days when the violators of the Covenant had lost all hope of success for their seditious plans, had crept into their dark hovels and sunk into the abyss of misery, Sultan 'Abdu'l-Hamid their last hope and refuge, was beset by an endless array of misfortunes and disasters. The "blast of divine confirmation" was followed by other setbacks. Defection and rebellion were rampant everywhere. The effect of the incident in Yemen grew stronger, weakening the already ineffective government.{227} From every clime was raised a new cry of opposition to the Ottoman Caliphate. The flame of civil war became a blazing fire as neighbouring governments began hostile action, taking advantage of the internal chaos. The bitterest of these enemies was the Emperor of Austria who, although a member of the alliance of the four great powers-the Ottoman Empire, Germany, Italy and Austria-took the offensive and conquered vast tracts of Ottoman soil, namely Herzegovina and Bosnia.{228}

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A great upheaval ensued. The Ottomans, enraged by the sudden attack, boycotted the wearing of the fez, the Ottoman headdress and a symbol of their national heritage, because it was manufactured in Austrian textile mills. Removing them from their heads, they hurled them to the ground and replaced them with Iranian and other unusual headgear. This was followed by angry demonstrations of protest in every Ottoman city. But all this was of no avail; that part of the Empire was lost forever.

Even more ominous, the German Emperor, who had up to that point been a close and friendly ally of the Ottoman Sultan, sent a telegram of congratulation to the Austrian Emperor complimenting him on his conquest. All these perilous events took place one after the other and were shortly followed by the uprising demanding a constitutional government. The Young Turk Party struck a bargain with the army, seized the Sultan and imprisoned him. Tripoli was snatched by Italy, as the World War began which resulted in the loss of all the countries of the Empire and the abolition of the Islamic Caliphate. Thus the Covenant-breakers lost the support of the Caliph whom they had served, and contrite and despairing met their ruin. Bahá'u'lláh's words are illuminating: "I fear lest, bereft of the melody of the dove of heaven, ye will sink back to the shades of utter loss, and, never having gazed upon the beauty of the rose, return to water and clay."{229}

When did Satan ever give me a chance?

My life in Beirut was filled with joy and excitement, as all the means for a happy and joyful life were readily available. First, communications between 'Akka and Beirut were well established, the bountiful tidings of the Beloved of the world were continuous and ever-flowing, and unseen confirmations streamed forth unabated. Spiritual affairs proceeded to my utter satisfaction and matters related to the material aspects of everyday life were in perfect order.

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However dark and sombre the future had seemed in the initial months of my arrival, my enthusiasm and the excitement generated by success in my studies filled me with such hope and confidence in the ultimate attainment of the desired goal that suddenly that bleak future began to appear a hundred-fold brighter. The four-month-long summer vacations, which were spent at the sanctified threshold of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, were in themselves a source of joy and gladness. Moreover, I was blessed with the companionship of a group of loving friends, all of whom were devoted to the teaching work, and with whom spiritual gatherings were held twice a week. There were also a number of interested and sympathetic seekers who regularly attended our firesides. These associations created an atmosphere of understanding, sincere devotion, and happiness. But what could I do? When did Satan ever give me a chance to serve?

As has been previously mentioned, there were a few Azali students{230} who had broken into the circle of the young Persians, some of whom had become quite enamoured of the teachings of the Faith. Since the Iranian Constitutional Revolution was now at its height, these Azalis had taken up the cause of patriotism and had under its guise dismissed religion as superstition; and so they endeavoured to deceive our sympathetic seekers. Among the Bahá'í youth there was a student who was related to a Covenant-breaker. His presence added to the already existing tension and led at last to disunity and conflict. Their animosity and jealousy towards me ultimately brought about the disruption of our community. The more advice I gave them, the fewer were the results. Despite my sharing with them 'Abdu'l-Bahá's counsels and advice imparted to me at the time of my departure from 'Akka, I failed to discover a cure for the malady. With the coming of the summer holidays I travelled to 'Akka, and on my arrival I had in mind to bring the matter up to the attention of 'Abdu'l-Bahá at an opportune moment. One day as He walked in the streets of 'Akka, talking to me with great gentleness about the manners one should observe in dealing

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With people, His voice suddenly rose to a higher pitch as He revealed the following: "You must conduct yourself in such a way that your silence will serve as your highest reproach of any opponent." This utterance of 'Abdu'l-Bahá cured all my ills. I discovered that the giving of advice to my friends had been due to my inexperience, and that those words had reached the ears of the enemies and increased their enmity and rancour. The following year on my return to Beirut, I put the Master's advice into practice, and during the rest of my stay in that city the world was my paradise. I have thus brought back this story with me to share it as a gift with my esteemed readers.

Manufacturing a dream with the intention of slandering the Faith of God

The effects of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's words were often so over whelming that His listeners actually experienced the realization of His promises and prophecies at that instant even though the physical fulfilment of those events might take several years to emerge. For example, He had counselled the virtues of patience fortitude as response to the hostile actions of the Covenant-breakers, as described in Chapter 6 of these memoirs. When He admonished me, "If you hear with your own ears that they are insulting me, do not allow into your heart any hatred for them," at that very moment I was certain that such an unpleasant event would take place and so I implored God to confirm me in my obedience to 'Abdu'l-Bahá's instructions. The details of the subsequent events are as follows.

After I returned from 'Akka and began my studies again in conformity with the guidelines of the Master, it was not long before my old friendships were renewed, the friends came together and the gatherings of fellowship began again. The breezes of love and faithfulness began to waft and the non-Bahá'ís found in us ready companions, as dissension and conceit disappeared.

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As teaching work began to make substantial headway, the envy of the hateful came to the surface again. When their actions—intended to create disunity among the friends - met with defeat, they conspired to invent a dream and then ask this servant to interpret it, so that they might find a pretext to level the harshest of insults at the Centre of the Covenant. The dream was described to me in the presence of several people, all of whom anticipated a reaction of outrage from me and a possible scandal in the making. But instead, I suddenly and spontaneously began to laugh. This was not mocking laughter, but rather the result of extreme joy and gladness, for I was mentally seeing the blessed figure of Abdu'l-Bahá and hearing His admonitions ring in my ears. Those present became contrite and tried to make it appear as though something else had been intended, playing with words and changing the subject.

The person who initiated that episode is today an eminent statesman who is both inwardly and outwardly sympathetic towards the Cause.

I consider such words to be meaningless

During my stay in Beirut I sent to the holy presence of Abdu'l-Bahá a few individuals who had shown themselves to be sincerely interested and sympathetic, or who had unreservedly accepted the Faith of God. They all received His boundless blessings, and on their return spread the breezes of His love among the people. Once I took with me to Akka a man of prominence, and he too became utterly enthralled by Abdu'l-Bahá's loving-kindness.

One of those young men, Mr. Ghulam-Husayn Karagozlu, was a libertine—a freeloading, bold individual who was also the ringleader of the group of the young students. When he travelled to Akka I was confident that he would return utterly intoxicated with the wine of the love of God. Yet I wondered how he would be able to handle his close friends and cronies, and tolerate their boisterous abuse and

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conduct. The week that Ghulam-Husayn returned he was so spiritually on fire that he was hardly conscious of his surroundings. When his friends visited him, he spoke fearlessly and with great love in a manner that astonished everyone. One day they decided to embarrass him, so one of them asked, "Ghulam, if we say something insolent against Abdu'l-Bahá, what will you do? Will you be upset with us?"

"Of course not. God forbid!" he replied. "Why is that?" they asked. "Not a day goes by without all of you using the foulest language to describe the Holy Ones of your own Faith," he replied. "You don't even spare each other from words of abuse, so if you speak any such words against 'Abdu'l-Bahá, I shall consider them to be just as meaningless as all the others." This wise yet frank and unassuming reply crushed those gentlemen and cut short their experiments in abuse. From then on they spoke with extreme respect and reverence. Ghulam later returned to Tehran and taught his own mother, and I once heard that he was sent by 'Abdu'l-Bahá to Egypt on an assignment which he completed successfully.

Conclusion of Chapter 8

The major theme of this chapter has been the actions of the last of the Covenant-breakers, and how they as well as the other faithless ones became the target of their own last strike which they had initiated against the Centre of God's Covenant. Not long after this defeat, Sultan 'Abdu'l-Hamid too received his own chastisement for his actions. All these events were the manifestation and fulfilment of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's promises and assurances foretold over the years.

During my five-year stay in Beirut I attained the Master's presence three or four times each year, and during that time the communication links remained intact, except for the first year when the door of correspondence was closed to all. All the information presented in this chapter is reflected in the various written and telegraphic communications received in

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Beirut, or in the stories that I heard first hand from the lips of 'Abdu'l-Bahá. Readers need not, therefore, entertain any doubts as to their veracity.

One significant event which took place after the downfall of the Covenant-breakers was the transportation of the casket containing the remains of the Blessed Bab to His Shrine. This most exalted and sanctified Shrine was already a holy place for pilgrims even before the sarcophagus, which had been brought from India, was placed in it. The Covenant-breakers' efforts to prevent the purchase of that property which had been selected for the site of the Shrine have already been described in Chapters 2 and 3 of this book. These actions caused much torment and agony to 'Abdu'l-Bahá. It finally reached a point where Mirza Aqa Jan, that notorious enemy, had told the other Covenant-breakers, "Don't oppose the Master on this issue, for the establishment of this Shrine was prophesied thousands or years ago and is recorded in the Bible: 'Now He who is known as the Branch shall entomb the body of the Lord on Mount Carmel.'"{231}

So as the structure neared completion the Covenant-breakers proclaimed it to be a fortress and an ammunition dump, in the hope that the Ottoman government would demolish the building and raze it to the ground. When the inspectors came to investigate the allegations, they asked the workers on the site how many basements had been built underground, for the Covenant-breakers had spread the rumour that arms stores were kept in the lower basements.

The sacred remains of the exalted Bab, may my life be a sacrifice unto Him, which for so many years had been carried from one city to another, from one house to another and from one country to another, were finally laid to rest in that Shrine by the hands of the Centre of the Covenant Himself. Well, we have strayed from the main theme. My other purpose in writing this chapter of the book was to describe that period of time when I was sent to study medicine, and the counsels vouchsafed to me on how to attract divine confirmations These included advice on what to do in various

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situations whose emergence was foretold by the Master. All of these came to pass. Since there is insufficient space to present them all here, I have refrained from including them. Among the thousands of such experiences, I have presented those I remember best, in the hope that they will suffice for the study of young Bahá'ís, so that they may learn how to perform the most difficult of tasks with ease. For instance, if they wish to continue higher education at a mature age, the study of the instructions recorded in Chapter 6 of this narrative should suffice, as my five-year term of study was completed successfully by relying on the Master's promises and counsels.

Every year there were two major examinations. One was taken before the School examiners and the other before the Ottoman and French government examiners. Since the university belonged to the Pope, the atheistic French government did not pass the students easily; they had to prove that their competencies exceeded those of the students at the Paris Medical School. To the foreign students graduating from this School was granted the right to practise anywhere in France, whereas the Paris school did not bestow such diplomas.

The medical diploma from the [Beirut] School of Medicine entitled a foreign graduate to Practise medicine everywhere, whereas a foreigner graduating from the Paris Medical School could not practise in France; this is sufficient evidence of the degree of difficulty of the medical curriculum of this school. Praise be to God, with divine assistance and strict obedience to the counsels of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, I achieved complete success. Young people should read and reflect on these counsels, and never forget His utterance: "Divine confirmation is dependent on action."

And now, to complete this chapter I present one of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's Tablets{232} revealed in honour of one of the believers, at a time when the opposition of the Covenant-breakers was at its peak:

He is God! O thou who art attracted by the rays of the light emanating

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from the dawning place of mysteries! Hasten to attain true salvation; hasten towards the shining light; hasten towards eternal joy; hasten towards the wondrous grace; hasten towards the mighty Covenant. Verily the hearts of the heedless have been shaken by the convulsions of frequent calamities, by great tests and difficulties, and the horizons of their lives have been darkened by thick clouds of wickedness and rebellion. Thus the water of certitude dried up and in its place the boding waters of idle fancies and vain imaginings welled forth. Doubts and illusions spread, as they abandoned the authorized Centre of the Covenant and the solid edifice of the Faith of God, and followed instead every rash and heedless one, the speakers who hear not, and the guides who see not.

Do they think that they shall be left alone to their own devices? Nay! When the nightingale sings in the eternal paradise, and the dove of holiness warbles its melody in the groves of the realm of grandeur, and the rays of confirmation beam forth from the midmost heart of heaven, and the lamps of oneness shine brightly within the hearts of His chosen ones, and the way is prepared, and the path made straight, and the trumpet of ecstasy is sounded, and the bugle of eternal life is blown, and the hosts of the Abha Kingdom rush forth, and the angels of the Supreme Concourse spur on their chargers, and the standards of the Covenant are hoisted, and the sails of fidelity and harmony are unfurled-on that Day shalt thou see the steadfast ones abiding in the highest heaven, dwelling beneath His all-embracing shadow, occupying a glorious station, and partaking of His conspicuous favors, while the heedless shall be seen enshrouded in a black smoke, reduced to the seat of abasement, and fallen prey to distress, loss and sorrow, until the Day whereon they shall be raised again to life. 'Abdu'l-Bahá

He is God! O thou who art attracted by

the rays of the light emanating

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