1. THIS SERVANT, after that grievous event and great calamity, the ascension of His Holiness 'Abdu'l-Bahá to the Abhá Kingdom, has been so stricken with grief and pain and so entangled in the troubles created by the enemies of the Cause of God, that I consider that my presence here, at such a time and in such an atmosphere, is not in accordance with the fulfillment of my important and sacred duties.
2. And in this fervent plea, my voice is once more reinforced by the passionate, and perhaps, the
last, entreaty, of the Greatest Holy Leaf, whose spirit, now hovering on the edge of the Great Beyond, longs to carry on its flight to the Abhá Kingdom, and into the presence of a Divine, an almighty Father, an assurance of the joyous consummation of an enterprise,1 the progress of which has so greatly brightened the closing days of her earthly life.
3. GREATEST HOLY LEAF'S IMMORTAL SPIRIT WINGED ITS FLIGHT GREAT BEYOND. COUNTLESS LOVERS HER SAINTLY LIFE IN EAST AND WEST SEIZED WITH PANGS OF ANGUISH, PLUNGED IN UNUTTERABLE SORROW. HUMANITY SHALL ERELONG RECOGNIZE ITS IRREPARABLE LOSS. OUR BELOVED FAITH, WELL-NIGH CRUSHED BY DEVASTATING BLOW OF ABDU'L-BAHÁ'S UNEXPECTED ASCENSION, NOW LAMENTS PASSING LAST REMNANT OF BAHÁ'U'LLAH, ITS MOST EXALTED MEMBER. HOLY FAMILY CRUELLY DIVESTED ITS MOST PRECIOUS, MOST GREAT ADORNING. I, FOR MY PART, BEWAIL SUDDEN REMOVAL MY SOLE EARTHLY SUSTAINER, THE JOY AND SOLACE OF MY LIFE. HER SACRED REMAINS WILL REPOSE VICINITY HOLY SHRINES. SO GRIEVOUS A BEREAVEMENT NECESSITATES SUSPENSION FOR NINE MONTHS THROUGHOUT BAHÁ'Í WORLD EVERY MANNER RELIGIOUS FESTIVITY. INFORM LOCAL ASSEMBLIES AND GROUPS HOLD BEFITTING MANNER MEMORIAL GATHERINGS, EXTOL A LIFE SO LADEN SACRED EXPERIENCES, SO RICH IMPERISHABLE MEMORIES... ADVISE
1 Construction of the House of Worship in Wilmette, Illinois.
HOLDING ADDITIONAL COMMEMORATION SERVICE OF STRICTLY DEVOTIONAL CHARACTER AUDITORIUM MASHRIQU'L-ADHKÁR.
4. GREATEST HOLY LEAF ASCENDED ABHÁ KINGDOM. OUR GRIEF IMMENSE, OUR LOSS IRREPARABLE. INFORM LOCAL ASSEMBLIES COMMEMORATE BEFITTINGLY SACRED EXPERIENCES SO RICH, SO SUBLIME, SO EVENTFUL A LIFE. MAGNITUDE OF OUR SORROW DEMANDS COMPLETE SUSPENSION FOR NINE MONTHS THROUGHOUT BAHÁ'Í WORLD EVERY FORM RELIGIOUS FESTIVITY. HER MORTAL REMAINS LAID VICINITY HOLY SHRINE.
5. O ye who burn in the flames of bereavement! By the Day-star of the World, my bereaved and longing heart is afire with a grief that is beyond my description. The sudden, the grievous and calamitous news that the Most Exalted, the pure, the holy, the immaculate, the brightly shining Leaf, the Remnant of Bahá, and His trust, the eternal fruit and the one last remembrance of the Holy Treemay my life be offered for the wrongs she sufferedhas ascended, reached me like live coals cast into a frail and afflicted heart. The foundations of my serenity were shattered, and tears of desolation came like a flood that carries all away.
she ascended to her Lord, her Master, and when her delicate body was placed in the tomb. Not mine that honour, that high privilege, for I was far away, deprived, bereft, excluded.
His servants, O sweet scent of His garment, shed across all created things!'
Most Wondrous. Blessedness be thine and a goodly abode; glad tidings to thee and a happy ending!'
1 The numerical value of the letters composing 'Hin' indicates 1268 AH or 1851-52 AD.
mischief, the focal centre of hateshe bore, with complete resignation and acquiescence, uncounted ordeals. She forgot herself, did without her kin, turned aside from possessions, struck off at one blow the bonds of every worldly concern; and then, like a lovelorn moth, she circled day and night about the flame of the matchless Beauty of her Lord.
the All-Glorious, and with the influence of her pure loving-kindness, transformed the implacable, the unyielding, into impassioned lovers of the celestial Beauty's peerless Cause.
I dare make no mention of the feelings which separation from her has aroused in my heart, for whatever I should attempt to express in writing will assuredly be effaced by the tears which such sentiments must bring to my eyes.'
O Liege Lady of the people of Bahá!
That my tongue, my pen could thank thee were a hopeless task, nor can any praise of mine befit thine excellence. Not even a droplet of all thine endless love can I aspire to fathom, nor can I adequately praise and tell of even the most trifling out of all the events of thy precious life. In the courts of the Almighty, for this frail being thy sacred spirit intercedeth, and in this darksome world, the sweet memory of thee is the succourer and friend of this lowly one. Thy comely face is etched for ever on the
tablet of my grieving soul, those smiles that refreshed my life are forever and safely imprinted in the innermost recesses of my stricken heart. Let me not be forgotten by thee in the glorious precincts on high; leave me not despairing, nor excluded from the never-ceasing reinforcements that come from the living Lord; and in this world and the Kingdom, help me to reach what thou knowest to be my dearest hope.
6. Brethren and fellow-mourners in the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh!
Only future generations and pens abler than mine can, and will, pay a worthy tribute to the towering grandeur of her spiritual life, to the unique part she played throughout the tumultuous stages of Bahá'í history, to the expressions of unqualified praise that have streamed from the pen of both Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá, the Centre of His Covenant, though unrecorded, and in the main unsuspected by the mass of her passionate admirers in East and West, the share she has had in influencing the course of some of the chief events in the annals of the Faith, the sufferings she bore, the sacrifices she made, the rare gifts of unfailing sympathy she so strikingly displayedthese, and many others stand so inextricably interwoven with the fabric of the Cause itself that no future historian of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh can afford to ignore or minimise.
suddenly lost their earthly possessions that within the space of a single day from being the privileged member of one of the wealthiest families of Tihrán she had sunk to the state of a sufferer from unconcealed poverty. Deprived of the means of subsistence her illustrious mother, the famed Navváb, was constrained to place in the palm of her daughter's hand a handful of flour and to induce her to accept it as a substitute for her daily bread.
exiles which had settled in Adrianople and whose fortunes seemed then to have sunk to their lowest ebb! It was in this period of extreme anxiety, when the rigours of a winter of exceptional severity, coupled with the privations entailed by unhealthy housing accommodation and dire financial distress, undermined once for all her health and sapped the vitality which she had hitherto so thoroughly enjoyed. The stress and storm of that period made an abiding impression upon her mind, and she retained till the time of her death on her beauteous and angelic face evidences of its intense hardships.
she paid to the everyday needs of her Father, or in the traits of generosity, of affability and kindness, which she manifested, the Greatest Holy Leaf had by that time abundantly demonstrated her worthiness to rank as one of the noblest figures intimately associated with the life-long work of Bahá'u'lláh.
to question the intensity of her emotions or to belittle the range of her sympathies. In the school of adversity she, already endowed by Providence with the virtues of meekness and fortitude, learned through the example and exhortations of the Great Sufferer, Who was her Father, the lesson she was destined to teach the great mass of His followers for so long after Him.
appointed as the Centre of His Covenant and the authorised Expounder of His Word. Her venerated mother, as well as her distinguished paternal uncle, Áqáy-i-Kalímthe twin pillars who, all throughout the various stages of Bahá'u'lláh's exile from the Land of His Birth to the final place of His confinement, had demonstrated, unlike most of the members of His Family, the tenacity of their loyaltyhad already passed behind the Veil. Death, in the most tragic circumstances, had also robbed her of the Purest Branch, her only brother besides 'Abdu'l-Bahá, while still in the prime of youth. She alone of the family of Bahá'u'lláh remained to cheer the heart and reinforce the efforts of the Most Great Branch, against Whom were solidly arrayed the almost entire company of His faithless relatives. In her arduous task she was seconded by the diligent efforts of Munírih Khánum, the Holy Mother, and those of her daughters whose age allowed them to assist in the accomplishment of that stupendous achievement with which the name of 'Abdu'l-Bahá will for ever remain associated.
and his despicable supporters basely resorted, upon the agitation which their cleverly-directed campaign of misrepresentation and calumny produced in quarters directly connected with Sultan 'Abdu'l-Hamíd and his advisers, upon the trials and investigations to which it gave rise, upon the rigidity of the incarceration it reimposed, and upon the perils it revived. Suffice it to say that but for her sleepless vigilance, her tact, her courtesy, her extreme patience and heroic fortitude, grave complications might have ensued and the load of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's anxious care would have been considerably increased.
phases of her career, so great a measure of admiration and love.
describe. She was astounded at the vitality of which He had, despite His unimaginable sufferings, proved Himself capable. She was lost in admiration at the magnitude of the forces which His utterances had released. She was filled with thankfulness to Bahá'u'lláh for having enabled her to witness the evidences of such brilliant victory for His Cause no less than for His Son.
days the high water-mark of her spiritual attainments. Few, if any, among the unnumbered benefactors of society whose privilege has been to allay, in various measures, the hardships and sufferings entailed by that Fierce Conflict, gave as freely and as disinterestedly as she did; few exercised that undefinable influence upon the beneficiaries of their gifts.
which the hand of 'Abdu'l-Bahá had helped to fashion, which no one among the remnants of His Family can rival.
of sorrow could becloud; a quiet and unassuming disposition that served to enhance a thousandfold the prestige of her exalted rank; a forgiving nature that instantly disarmed the most unyielding enemythese rank among the outstanding attributes of a saintly life which history will acknowledge as having been endowed with a celestial potency that few of the heroes of the past possessed.
recognize the serenity of thy kindly face. I can still gaze, though the shadows of the grave separate us, into thy blue, love-deep eyes, and can feel in its calm intensity, the immense love thou didst bear for the Cause of thine Almighty Father, the attachment that bound thee to the most lowly and insignificant among its followers, the warm affection thou didst cherish for me in thine heart. The memory of the ineffable beauty of thy smile shall ever continue to cheer and hearten me in the thorny path I am destined to pursue. The remembrance of the touch of thine hand shall spur me on to follow steadfastly in thy way. The sweet magic of thy voice shall remind me, when the hour of adversity is at its darkest, to hold fast to the rope thou didst seize so firmly all the days of thy life.
whose conduct has been moulded by the inspiring example of thy life, and whose imaginations are fired by the imperishable evidences of thy lively faith, thy unshakable constancy, thy invincible heroism, thy great renunciation.
7. ENTREAT SORROW STRICKEN AMERICAN BELIEVERS NEVER ALLOW CONSCIOUSNESS THEIR AGONIZING LOSS PARALYZE DETERMINATION PROSECUTE AN ENTERPRISE ON WHICH ADORED OBJECT OUR MOURNING CENTRED HER BRIGHTEST HOPES.
8. YOUR MESSAGE ALLEVIATED LOAD MY AGONIZING SORROW. NOTHING LESS INFLEXIBLE RESOLVE CARRY OUT HER DEAREST PARTING WISH HOLD FAST CAUSE HER ALMIGHTY FATHER CAN LIFT ITS CRUSHING BURDEN.
9. PRAY ASSURE AMERICAN BELIEVERS BEHALF HOLY FAMILY MYSELF ABIDING APPRECIATION NUMEROUS EVIDENCES THEIR VALUED SYMPATHY. OUR SORROW-LADEN HEARTS MUCH RELIEVED FILLED WITH GRATITUDE. OUT OF PANGS OF ANGUISH WHICH BEREAVED AMERICA EXPERIENCED IN HER SUDDEN SEPARATION FROM ABDU'L-BAHÁ ADMINISTRATION GOD'S MIGHTY FAITH WAS BORN. MIGHT NOT HER PRESENT GRIEF AT LOSS BAHÁ'U'LLÁH'S PRECIOUS DAUGHTER RELEASE SUCH FORCES AS WILL ENSURE SPEEDY COMPLETION MASHRIQU'L-ADHKÁR THE ADMINISTRATION'S MIGHTY BULWARK, SYMBOL OF ITS STRENGTH AND HARBINGER ITS PROMISED GLORY.
10. Your valued message brought strength and solace to my aching heart. I deeply appreciate the sentiments of my invaluable fellow-workers, who have by their eminent, their unforgettable and unique services, contributed so powerfully in brightening the closing days of her precious life. The services each of you has rendered to our beloved Cause brought much joy and hope to her in the evening of her life, and are, therefore, highly meritorious in the sight of the Almighty. May He bless abundantly your work in the Divine Vineyard, and enable you to render still greater services in the days to come.
11. I deeply appreciate your sympathy. My loss is tremendous and my sorrow so profound. I will
pray that you, who have felt the power of her spirit at so advanced an age may be enabled to mirror forth its splendour and reveal its beauty to the world. I will continue to pray in your behalf. You are often in my thoughts. Rest assured and persevere in your devoted efforts.
12. I greatly value your sympathy in my cruel, my irreparable loss. My only comfort is the assurance of her devoted lovers to remain firm and steadfast in the Cause and to strive to follow in her footsteps. The example of her life is our solace, our inspiration and strength. May the Beloved aid you to follow in her way, and to perpetuate her glorious memory.
13. Your sweet and touching message imparted strength and solace to my heart. I value the sentiments you express and am deeply grateful. My grief is profound and my only comfort is the thought that her many lovers, East and West, are straining every nerve to promote those very ideals for which she suffered and toiled all the days of her eventful and sacred life. I will continue to pray for your welfare and success from the depths of my heart. Rest assured.
14. My great love for the Greatest Holy Leaf and my attachment to each one of you prompt me to add these few words in person and to express to you my gratitude for the expression of your valued sympathy. I greatly value your message, and will pray that the Almighty may bless your efforts in the service of a Cause for the sake of which our loved Khánum sacrificed her precious life.
15. The many evidences of your increasing zeal and activities in the service of our beloved Cause, have to a great measure, relieved my sorrow-laden heart. I will continue to pray for your unsparing efforts, and wish you to persevere, whatever the vicissitudes which this immortal Faith may encounter in future. Rest assured, and never feel disconsolate...
16. Your highly impressive and touching message brought much relief to my weary soul. I thank you from the depths of my heart. I greatly value the sentiments expressed on behalf of a local community, the members of which have, by their services, their devotion and loyalty, contributed, to so great an extent, to the joy and satisfaction of the hearts of both 'Abdu'l-Bahá and the Greatest Holy Leaf. My
great attachment to each one of you, as well as my immense love for our departed and beloved Khánum, have prompted me to add these few words in person. I will continue to pray for the success of your efforts, as well as for your spiritual advancement.
17. The passing of the Greatest Holy Leaf has filled my heart with unutterable sorrow. My comfort is the thought that the measure of success achieved, under your wise and able leadership, by the collective efforts of the American believers has brightened considerably the last days of her precious life. Would to God that the continued endeavours of this little band of her devoted lovers who have brought so great a joy to her blessed heart, may bring further satisfaction to her soul, and realize, at the appointed time, her dearest wish and fondest hopes for the Cause in your land. To complete the Temple, to clothe its naked dome, and terminate its exterior elaborate ornamentation, is the best and most effective way in which the American believers, the recipients of her untold favours, can demonstrate their fidelity to her memory and their gratitude for the inestimable blessings she showered upon them.
18. O well-loved friend, The emotions that have possessed my grieving
heart are such that they cannot be put into words, and tongue and pen are helpless to describe them. The one consolation of this servant is the steadfastness and the redoubled services of those dearly-loved ones in Iran, and the good news of energetic efforts being exerted by the friends in that land. This is what dissipates the clouds of my grieving, and dispels the darkness of my anguish, and quiets the flames that consume my very being, and casts a ray of joy across the darkened sky of my agonized and stricken heart.
19. I wish to add a few words in person as a token of my deepfelt appreciation of your loving message of sympathy in the great loss the family of 'Abdu'l-Bahá and myself have sustained. My prayer for each one of you is that the Almighty may aid you to perpetuate her glorious memory, to walk in her footsteps and to transmit to future generations the tradition she has bequeathed to us all.
20. I am moved to add a few words with my own pen, to what has been written on my behalf, renewing my plea to you and through you, to each member of your beloved community, to prosecute, with undiminished vigour the enterprise which you have so splendidly inaugurated. The Greatest Holy Leaf, from her retreat of Glory, is watching over you, is interceding for every one of you, and is
expecting you to play your part in the great task, with which the prestige of her Father's glorious Cause is so closely associated. You have, while she lived amongst us, contributed to a remarkable degree to the brightening of her earthly life. By your persistent, your heroic endeavours you will, I am sure, bring added joy to her soul, and will vindicate afresh your undying loyalty to her memory.
21. The passing of the beloved deep felt has plunged me in unspeakable sorrow. What a gap she has left behind her! It is terrible to contemplate. Your message, which I greatly value, lessened considerably the burden of my grief as I am fully conscious of the extent to which you have, in so many different ways, contributed to her physical well-being, and to the joy and satisfaction of her soul. We are all indebted to you for the many evidences of your loving and unfailing solicitude for her welfare, and we can only pray at her grave that her spirit may intercede for you before the throne of her glorious Father, and aid you to accomplish still greater things for a Cause, in the path of which she toiled and suffered all the days of her precious life.
22. I greatly value the expression of your loving sympathy and am greatly relieved by the sentiments your message conveyed. I will pray that you may be assisted, individually and collectively, to follow her inspiring example, to bring happiness
to her soul, and to proclaim far and wide the purity of her life, the immensity of her love, and the supreme nobility of her character.
23. I wish to express to your distinguished assembly my gratitude for the action they have taken in reproducing in facsimile my humble tribute to the Greatest Holy Leaf. The hundred copies you sent me have been received and are splendid reproductions of the original. The finest and most enduring tribute which can be paid to her memory lies within the grasp, and constitutes the supreme opportunity, of the American believers. Her earthly life, as it drew to a close, was much brightened by the brilliant accomplishments of her devoted lovers in the American continent. May her pure angelic soul in the realms beyond derive added satisfaction from the uninterrupted progress and the eventual completion of an enterprise on which she had centered the one remaining joy of her life.
24. O ye who share my anguish and are my comforters in my distress and bereavement! In these past few months, from the day of the passing of that fairest fruit of the Undying Tree, of the setting of that wondrous Star in the heavens of endless glory, and of that bright Ray from the well spring of pre-existent light, ['Abdu'l-Bahá], the Ancient Beauty, the Most Great Namemay the spirits of
the Concourse on High be sacrificed for Himhas witnessed what has come upon me, whom she had surrounded at all times with her loving-kindness, her unceasing favours, and what a wound this loss has inflicted on my suffering heart. This parting from her has left my whole being in turmoil, burning with the fire of my love and longing for her. When, in the morning and the evening, I call her beloved face to mind, and let her smiles, that nourished the spirit, pass again before my eyes, and I think over all her bounty to me, all her unnumbered kindnesses, and remember that astonishing meekness she showed in her sufferingsthen the flames of yearning love are kindled yet again, and sighs come out of my heart, and tears flow from my eyes, so that all control is lost and I sink into a sea of anguish without end.
this only and solely for the sake of thy Lord and because of thy burning love for those, out of all of creation, who shared in thine ardour.
and to acquire the qualities, and to make manifest that which thou didst desire for the triumph of this exalted and exacting, this most resplendent, sacred, and wondrous Cause.
Abhá Beauty on purest milkexcept for these, no soul of this nether world has known or recognized thine immaculate, thy most sacred essence, nor has any befittingly perceived that ambergris fragrance of thy noble qualities, which richly anoints thy brow, and which issues from the divine wellspring of mystic musk; nor has any caught its sweetness.
but through thine intercession, that God may inspire us with His own patience, and ordain for us in the other life the reward of meeting thee again, of attaining thy presence, of gazing on thy countenance, and partaking of thy light.
to perpetuate her blessed memory, and extol her station, and out of love also for her incomparable beauty.
25. Moved by an unalterable devotion to the memory of the Greatest Holy Leaf, I feel prompted to share with you, and through you with the concourse of her steadfast lovers throughout the West, these significant passages1 which I have gleaned from various Tablets revealed in her honour by Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá.
1 Included in Sections I and II.
goodness, of a pure and holy life, who was the embodiment of such heavenly virtues as only the privileged inmates of the uppermost chambers in the breathing Paradise can fully appreciate, will long live enshrined in these immortal wordsa memory the ennobling influence of which will remain an inspiration and a solace amid the wreckage of a sadly shaken world.
26. It was through the arrival of these pilgrims,1 and these alone, that the gloom which had enveloped the disconsolate members of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's family was finally dispelled. Through the agency of these successive visitors the Greatest Holy Leaf, who alone with her Brother among the
1 From the West, after the ascension of Bahá'u'lláh.
members of her Father's household had to confront the rebellion of almost the entire company of her relatives and associates, found that consolation which so powerfully sustained her till the very close of her life.
27. With 'Abdu'l-Bahá's ascension, and more particularly with the passing of His well-beloved and illustrious sister the Most Exalted Leafthe last survivor of a glorious and heroic agethere draws to a close the first and most moving chapter of Bahá'í history, marking the conclusion of the Primitive, the Apostolic Age of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh.
28. The Fund associated with the beloved name of the Greatest Holy Leaf has been launched. The uninterrupted continuation to its very end of so laudable an enterprise is now assured. The poignant memories of one whose heart so greatly rejoiced at the rearing of the superstructure of this sacred House [the House of Worship in Wilmette, Illinois] will so energize the final exertions required to complete it as to dissipate any doubt that may yet linger in any mind as to the capacity of its builders to worthily consummate their task.
29. BLESSED REMAINS PUREST BRANCH AND MASTER'S MOTHER SAFELY TRANSFERRED HALLOWED
PRECINCTS SHRINES MOUNT CARMEL. LONG INFLICTED HUMILIATION WIPED AWAY. MACHINATIONS COVENANT-BREAKERS FRUSTRATE PLAN DEFEATED. CHERISHED WISH GREATEST HOLY LEAF FULFILLED. SISTER BROTHER MOTHER WIFE ABDU'L-BAHÁ REUNITED ONE SPOT DESIGNED CONSTITUTE FOCAL CENTRE BAHÁ'Í ADMINISTRATIVE INSTITUTIONS AT FAITH'S WORLD CENTRE. SHARE JOYFUL NEWS ENTIRE BODY AMERICAN BELIEVERS.
30. O loved ones of God, These two precious and most exalted treasures,1 these two keepsakes of the sacred Beauty of Abhá, have now been joined to the third trust from Him, that is, to the daughter of Bahá and His remnant, the token of the Master's Remembrance.
1 The remains of the Purest Branch and those of Navváb.
31. His1 nine-year-old son, later surnamed the 'Most Great Branch', destined to become the Centre of His Covenant and authorized Interpreter of His teachings, together with His seven-year-old sister, known in later years by the same title2 as that of her illustrious mother, and whose services until the ripe old age of four score years and six, no less than her exalted parentage, entitle her to the distinction of ranking as the outstanding heroine of the Bahá'í Dispensation, were ... included among the exiles who were now bidding their last farewell to their native country.
32. ... as a further testimony to the majestic unfoldment and progressive consolidation of the stupendous undertaking launched by Bahá'u'lláh on that holy mountain, may be mentioned the selection of a portion of the school property situated in the precincts of the Shrine of the authorize as a permanent resting-place for the Greatest Holy Leaf, the 'well-beloved' sister of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, the 'Leaf that hath sprung' from the 'Pre-existent Root', the 'fragrance' of Bahá'u'lláh's 'shining robe', elevated by Him to a 'station such as none other woman hath surpassed', and comparable in rank to those immortal heroines such as Sarah, Asíyih, the Virgin Mary, Fátimih and Táhirih, each of whom has outshone every member of her sex in previous Dispensations.
33. The raising of this Edifice1 will in turn herald the construction, in the course of successive epochs of the Formative Age of the Faith, of several other structures...
1 The International Archives Building.