Posted by Misagh (184.108.40.206) on October 17, 2003 at 14:50:17:
In Reply to: Re: Baha'u'llah's Mansions posted by Stuart Gilman on October 17, 2003 at 08:53:47:
If only time were on my side, I could write decent and lengthy comments...
Re: Baha'u'llah spending the final years of His life in mansions. It should be re-emphasized that the edict of the Sultan against Baha'u'llah was never repealled. If Baha'u'llah were alive today and the Ottoman Empire still stood, he'd still be considered a prisoner of that empire. Also, it took a very long time (if I'm not mistaken, a year or more -- See Rev. of Baha'u'llah, vol 4) for Baha'u'llah to be convinced (both by the Mufti of Akka, Abdu'l-Baha, some of the Governors of Akka and likely several others) to leave the prison city and take up residence outside Akka. Most of Baha'u'llah's family, including Abdu'l-Baha, chose to stay in the prison city on His behalf. Indeed, in this way Baha'u'llah was given some respite to pen some of His weightiest Tablets, including the Tablets Revealed After the Kitab-i-Aqdas, The Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, etc.
Also, it should be noted that Baha'u'llah's family by no means lived a life of luxury. They lived in a mansion, not because they were able to afford it (it was purchased at a ridiculously low price due to an outbreak of illness in the area), but because the family (and extended family and well-wishers/admirers of Baha'u'llah) chose to live near Him. That's a lot of people. Also, if I'm not mistaken, the owner of the Mansion of Mazrai'ih (sp?) allowed Baha'u'llah and his family to rent that place for a time, so that after several decades of prison life, Baha'u'llah and his family could have some kind of rest and peacefulness. Baha'u'llah did not have any real material assets (as attested in the first line of His own Will and Testament). Most of the believers living with or near him were also poor, mostly living off the land or engaging in small trades and businesses in Akka. Also, Baha'u'llah often received pilgrims (not so much guests from the city, but occaisonally He did) and these people were always treated with hospitality and love and care.
Another point to ponder: Baha'u'llah is the Supreme Manifestation of God. It is not only a fulfilment of prophecy but also a fulfilment of His station that He triumph, both spiritually and in a sense, physically, over the oppressors of His day. In a sense, it is miraculous that after such a life of hardship, privation, exile, torture (both psychological and physical) that He was still able to show such love and such spiritual ascendency through His self and through His Pen that in the end, the Governor of Akka as well as the leading religious figure of the city were begging Him to take up residence outside the prison city! When one looks at it, it is truly astonishing! It is an example unparalleled in the history of religion.
Adib Taherzadeh, in his Rev. of Baha'u'llah series, makes an interesting observation. When contemplating the suffering of the Manifestations of God, Mr. Taherzadeh brings the following analogy. Suppose there was an island someplace, where a race of savage creatures lived. These creatures were used to stealing, lying, killing, all manner of wretched activity. Then, one day, a civilized, dignified person comes to live on that island. This person has come from a beautiful place, a spiritual place, where the standards are infinitely higher. When asked, who among all the inhabitants of the island, suffers the most, the most logical answer would be this dignified visitor. For, even if one of the savages of the island were to be murdered by another, this action would not be below what they are capable of, and would be a part of what they are accustomed to. However, for the visitor to the island, everything about the savages' way of life is a severe test for him/her. This analogy, I think, reflects quite nicely the lives of the Manifestations/Prophets of God. They are in a realm exalted above us, yet consent to live among us, be persecuted by us, for our own salvation. It's the purest expression of love.
When Baha'u'llah describes every day of His life as being full of tribulation, this isn't hyperbole: it's the God-honest truth. Think about it in terms of a simple example: how many times do each of us harbour ill/disturbing thoughts towards another person on a given day, even if it be only for a moment? Can we think that Baha'u'llah wasn't aware of the hearts of his followers as well as the hearts of all the inhabitants of the planet? What kind of an effect would even those simple yet brutal ill thoughts have on His person, esp. if they came from his followers? Nevermind all the other more tangible tortures that He and His loved ones directly encountered. Even when Baha'u'llah lived in the Mansion of Bahji, He was surrounded by those members of His family that were eventually to break the Covanent and arise against Abdu'l-Baha. What a severe test, especially when we consider (if we are even capable, as mere mortals) the loftiness of Baha'u'llah's Mission and Purpose!! Baha'u'llah kept these people close to Him, while Abdu'l-Baha, His dearly loved son, was in Akka, so as not to fane the flame of jealousy in His family's heart.
I could go on, but in the end, no matter what our assumptions or preconceived notions of Baha'u'llah are, the fact is that He is exalted above everyone and everything. Sometimes our own finite minds cannot understand the Sublime. It is through our realization of His station, through unprejudiced and prayerful meditation on His Writings, that we can become closer to Him and see a myriad wisdoms behind every nuance of His life.
If you've read this far, you're quite the trooper!
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