Pages 19-21


From the Writings of


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.
      For this reason, unable to do otherwise, I have left for a time the affairs of the Cause both at home and abroad, under the supervision of the Holy Family and the headship of the Greatest Holy Leaf until, by the Grace of God, having gained health, strength, self-confidence and spiritual energy, and having taken into my hands, in accordance with my aim and desire, entirely and regularly the work of service I shall attain to my utmost spiritual hope and aspiration.

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.


1 Construction of the House of Worship in Wilmette, Illinois.




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 Tree—may my life be offered for the wrongs she suffered—has 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.
      Alas, that I was prevented from being with her at the close of her earthly days, at that moment when


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.
      O brothers and sisters in the spirit! In this solemn hour, from one direction we can hear the sounds of loud weeping, and cries of mourning and woe, rising out of the throats of the people of Bahá throughout this nether world, because of their separation from that rich mine of faithfulness, that Orb of the heaven of eternal glory—because of her setting below the horizon of this holy Spot. But from another direction can be heard the songs of praise and holy exultation from the Company on High and the undying dwellers in Paradise, and from beyond them all God's Prophets, coming forth to welcome that fair being, and to place her in the retreats of glory, and to seat her at the right hand of Him Who is the Centre of God's Mighty Covenant.
      The community of Bahá, whether in the East of the world or the West, are lamenting like orphans left destitute; fevered, tormented, unquiet, they are voicing their grief. Out of the depths of their sorrowing hearts, there rises to the Abhá Horizon this continual piercing cry: 'Where art thou gone, O torch of tender love? Where art thou gone, O source of grace and mercy? Where art thou gone, O symbol of bounty and generosity? Where art thou gone, O day-spring of detachment in this world of being? Where art thou gone, O trust left by Bahá among His people, O remnant left by Him among


His servants, O sweet scent of His garment, shed across all created things!'
      O ye who loved that luminous face! The oil within that shining lamp was used up in this world and its light was extinguished; and yet, in the lamp-niche of the Kingdom, the fingers of the Lord of the heavenly throne have kindled it so bright, and it has cast such a splendour on the maids of Heaven—dwelling in chambers of red rubies and circling about her—that they all called from out their souls and hearts, 'O joy upon joy!' and with shouts of, 'Well done! Well done! Upon thee be God's blessings, O Most Exalted Leaf!' did they welcome that quintessence of love and purity within the towering pavilions of eternity.
      At that time, as bidden by the Lord, the Protector, the Self-Subsisting, did the heavenly Crier raise up his voice and cry out: 'O Most Exalted Leaf! Thou art she who did endure with patience in God's way from thine earliest childhood and throughout all thy life, and did bear in His pathway what none other hath borne, save only God in His own Self, the Supreme Ruler over all created things, and before Him, His noble Herald, and after Him, His holy Branch, the One, the Inaccessible, the Most High. The people of the Concourse on High seek the fragrance of thy presence, and the dwellers in the retreats of eternity circle about thee. To this bear witness the souls of the cherubim within the tabernacles of majesty and might, and beyond them the tongue of God the One True Lord, the Pure, the


Most Wondrous. Blessedness be thine and a goodly abode; glad tidings to thee and a happy ending!'
      To one who was reared by the hands of her loving kindness, the burden of this direst of calamities is well nigh unbearable; and yet praised be the God of glory that her fragile frame has escaped from the prison of continual ordeals and afflictions which, with an astonishing forbearance, and for more than eighty years, she accepted and endured. Now is she free; delivered from her chains of care and sorrow; safe from all the suffering and pain, released from the ills of this nether world. She rolled up and packed away the years of longing for her mighty Father, and for Him, her loving and well-favoured Brother, and departed to her abode in the midmost heart of the Heavens.
      This heavenly being, during all the turmoil of her days, did not rest for a moment, nor ever did she seek quiet and peace. From the beginning of her life, from her very childhood, she tasted sorrow's cup; she drank down the afflictions and calamities of the earliest years of the great Cause of God. In the tumult of the Year of Hin,1 as a result of the sacking and plundering of her glorious Father's wealth and holdings, she learned the bitterness of destitution and want. Then she shared the imprisonment, the grief, the banishment of the In Beauty, and in the storm which broke out in Iraq—because of the plotting and the treachery of the prime mover of

1 The numerical value of the letters composing 'Hin' indicates 1268 AH or 1851-52 AD.


mischief, the focal centre of hate—she 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.
      In the heaven of severance, she shone like the Morning Star, fair and bright, and through her character and all her ways, she shed upon kin and stranger, upon the learned, and the lowly, the radiance of Bahá'u'lláh's surpassing perfection. Because of the intense and deep-seated sorrows and the manifold oppressive trials that assailed her—never failing spring of grace that she was, essence of loving-kindness—in the Land of Mystery1 her lovely form was worn away to a breath, to a shadow; and during the Most Great Convulsion, which in the years of 'Stress' made every heart to quake, she stood as a soaring pillar, immovable and fixed; and from the blasts of desolation that rose and blew, that Leaf of the eternal Lote-Tree did not wither.
      Rather did she redouble her efforts, urging herself on the more, to servitude and sacrifice. In captivating hearts and winning over souls, in destroying doubts and misgivings, she led the field. With the waters of her countless mercies, she brought thorny hearts to a blossoming of love from

1 Adrianople.


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.
      Yet another wound was inflicted on her injured heart by the aggressions and violations of the evil-doers within the prison-fortress,1 yet another blow was struck at her afflicted being. And then her anguish was increased by the passing of the Adrian Beauty, and the cruelty of the disloyal added more fuel to the fires of her mourning. In the midst of that storm of violation, the countenance of that rare treasure of the Lord shone all the brighter, and throughout the Bahá'í community, her value and high rank became clearly perceived. By the vehement onslaught of the chief of violators against the sacred beliefs of the followers of the Faith, she was neither frightened nor in despair.
      In the days of the Commission of Investigation, she was a staunch and trusted supporter of the peerless Branch of Bahá'u'lláh, and a companion to Him beyond compare. At the time of His absence in the western world, she was His competent deputy, His representative and vicegerent, with none to equal her. In a Tablet from the pen of the Centre of the Covenant, addressed to His consort, are these words referring to His brilliant sister: 'To my honoured and distinguished sister do thou convey the expression of my heartfelt, my intense longing. Day and night she liveth in my remembrance.

1 'Akká.

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Bahíyyih Khánum, circa 1895
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Bahíyyih Khánum, 1919
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Bahíyyih Khánum circa 1931
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Relics of the Greatest Holy Leaf preserved in the International
Baha'i Archives. The ring on the marble block at the left of the
mirror is set with a stone bearing the symbol of the Greatest Name;
the ring on the small tray, centre, is the seal of her own name, Bahíyyih.


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.'
      After the ascension of 'Abdu'l-Bahá to the realm of the All-Glorious, that Light of the Concourse on High enfolded me, helpless as I was, in the embrace of her love, and with incomparable pity and tenderness, persuaded, guided, and urged me on to the requirements of servitude. The very elements of this frail being were leavened with her love, refreshed by her companionship, sustained by her eternal spirit. Never for a moment will her kindnesses, her favours, pass from my memory, and as the months and the years go by, the effects of them on this mourning heart will never be diminished.

O Liege Lady of the people of Bahá!
Broken is our circle by thy going—
Broken our circle, broken too, our hearts.

      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.
      O faithful friends! It is right and fitting that out of honour to her most high station, in the gatherings of the followers of Bahá'u'lláh, whether of the East or the West, all Bahá'í festivals and celebrations should be completely suspended for a period of nine months, and that in every city and village, memorial meetings should be held, with all solemnity, spirituality, lowliness and consecration—where, in the choicest of language, may be described at length the shining attributes of that most resplendent Leaf, that archetype of the people of Bahá. If it be possible for the individual believers to postpone their personal celebrations for a period of one year, let them unhesitatingly do so thus to express their sorrow at this agonizing misfortune. Let them read this letter, this supplication, in their memorial gatherings, that perchance the Almighty will lighten my burden, and dispel the clouds of my bereavement; that He will answer my prayers, and fulfil my hopes, out of His bounty, His power, His grace.


6.   Brethren and fellow-mourners in the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh!
      A sorrow, reminiscent in its poignancy, of the devastating grief caused by 'Abdu'l-Bahá's sudden removal from our midst, has stirred the Bahá'í world to its foundations. The Greatest Holy Leaf, the well-beloved and treasured Remnant of Bahá'u'lláh entrusted to our frail and unworthy hands by our departed Master, has passed to the Great Beyond, leaving a legacy that time can never dim.
      The Community of the Most Great Name, in its entirety and to its very core, feels the sting of this cruel loss. Inevitable though this calamitous event appeared to us all, however acute our apprehensions of its steady approach, the consciousness of its final consummation at this terrible hour leaves us, we whose souls have been impregnated by the energising influence of her love, prostrated and disconsolate.
      How can my lonely pen, so utterly inadequate to glorify so exalted a station, so impotent to portray the experiences of so sublime a life, so disqualified to recount the blessings she showered upon me since my earliest childhood—how can such a pen repay the great debt of gratitude and love that I owe her whom I regarded as my chief sustainer, my most affectionate comforter, the joy and inspiration of my life? My grief is too immense, my remorse too profound, to be able to give full vent at this moment to the feelings that surge within me.


      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 displayed—these, 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.
      As far back as the concluding stages of the heroic age of the Cause, which witnessed the imprisonment of Bahá'u'lláh in the Síyáh-Chál of Tihrán, the Greatest Holy Leaf, then still in her infancy, was privileged to taste of the cup of woe which the first believers of that Apostolic Age had quaffed.
      How well I remember her recall, at a time when her faculties were still unimpaired, the gnawing suspense that ate into the hearts of those who watched by her side, at the threshold of her pillaged house, expectant to hear at any moment the news of Bahá'u'lláh's imminent execution! In those sinister hours, she often recounted, her parents had so


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.
      And when at a later time this revered and precious member of the Holy Family, then in her teens, came to be entrusted by the guiding hand of her Father with missions that no girl of her age could, or would be willing to, perform, with what spontaneous joy she seized her opportunity and acquitted herself of the task with which she had been entrusted! The delicacy and extreme gravity of such functions as she, from time to time, was called upon to fulfil, when the city of Baghdád was swept by the hurricane which the heedlessness and perversity of Mírzá Yahyá had unchained, as well as the tender solicitude which, at so early an age, she evinced during the period of Bahá'u'lláh's enforced retirement to the mountains of Sulaymáníyyih, marked her as one who was both capable of sharing the burden, and willing to make the sacrifice, which her high birth demanded.
      How staunch was her faith, how calm her demeanour, how forgiving her attitude, how severe her trials, at a time when the forces of schism had rent asunder the ties that united the little band of


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.
      Not until, however, she had been confined in the company of Bahá'u'lláh within the walls of the prison-city of 'Akká did she display, in the plentitude of her power and in the full abundance of her love for Him, those gifts that single her out, next to 'Abdu'l-Bahá, among the members of the Holy Family, as the brightest embodiment of that love which is born of God and of that human sympathy which few mortals are capable of evincing.
      Banishing from her mind and heart every earthly attachment, renouncing the very idea of matrimony, she, standing resolutely by the side of a Brother whom she was to aid and serve so well, arose to dedicate her life to the service of her Father's glorious Cause. Whether in the management of the affairs of His Household in which she excelled, or in the social relationships which she so assiduously cultivated in order to shield both Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá, whether in the unfailing attention


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.
      How grievous was the ingratitude, how blind the fanaticism, how persistent the malignity of the officials, their wives, and their subordinates, in return for the manifold bounties which she, in close association with her Brother, so profusely conferred upon them! Her patience, her magnanimity, her undiscriminating benevolence, far from disarming the hostility of that perverse generation, served only to inflame their rancour, to excite their jealousy, to intensify their fears. The gloom that had settled upon that little band of imprisoned believers, who languished in the Fortress of platitude contrasted with the spirit of confident hope, of deep-rooted optimism that beamed upon her serene countenance. No calamity, however intense, could obscure the brightness of her saintly face, and no agitation, no matter how severe, could disturb the composure of her gracious and dignified behaviour.
      That her sensitive heart instantaneously reacted to the slightest injury that befell the least significant of creatures, whether friend or foe, no one who knew her well could doubt. And yet such was the restraining power of her will—a will which her spirit of self-renunciation so often prompted her to suppress—that a superficial observer might well be led


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.
      Armed with the powers with which an intimate and long-standing companionship with Bahá'u'lláh had already equipped her, and benefiting by the magnificent example which the steadily widening range of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's activities afforded her, she was prepared to face the storm which the treacherous conduct of the Covenant-breakers had aroused and to withstand its most damaging onslaughts.
      Great as had been her sufferings ever since her infancy, the anguish of mind and heart which the ascension of Bahá'u'lláh occasioned nerved her, as never before, to a resolve which no upheaval could bend and which her frail constitution belied. Amidst the dust and heat of the commotion which that faithless and rebellious company engendered she found herself constrained to dissolve ties of family relationship, to sever long-standing and intimate friendships, to discard lesser loyalties for the sake of her supreme allegiance to a Cause she had loved so dearly and had served so well.
      The disruption that ensued found her ranged by the side of Him Whom her departed Father had


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-Kalím—the 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 loyalty—had 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.
      With the passing of Bahá'u'lláh and the fierce onslaught of the forces of disruption that followed in its wake, the Greatest Holy Leaf, now in the hey-day of her life, rose to the height of her great opportunity and acquitted herself worthily of her task. It would take me beyond the compass of the tribute I am moved to pay to her memory were I to dwell upon the incessant machinations to which Muhammad-'Alí, the arch-breaker of the Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh,


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.
      And when the storm-cloud that had darkened the horizon of the Holy Land had been finally dissipated and the call raised by our beloved 'Abdu'l-Bahá had stirred to a new life certain cities of the American and European continents, the Most Exalted Leaf became the recipient of the unbounded affection and blessings of One Who could best estimate her virtues and appreciate her merits.
      The decline of her precious life had by that time set in, and the burden of advancing age was beginning to becloud the radiance of her countenance. Forgetful of her own self, disdaining rest and comfort, and undeterred by the obstacles that still stood in her path, she, acting as the honoured hostess to a steadily increasing number of pilgrims who thronged 'Abdu'l-Bahá's residence from both the East and the West, continued to display those same attributes that had won her, in the preceding


phases of her career, so great a measure of admiration and love.
      And when, in pursuance of God's inscrutable Wisdom, the ban on 'Abdu'l-Bahá's confinement was lifted and the Plan which He, in the darkest hours of His confinement, had conceived materialized, He with unhesitating confidence, invested His trusted and honoured sister with the responsibility of attending to the multitudinous details arising out of His protracted absence from the Holy Land.
      No sooner had 'Abdu'l-Bahá stepped upon the shores of the European and American continents than our beloved Khánum found herself well-nigh overwhelmed with thrilling messages, each betokening the irresistible advance of the Cause in a manner which, notwithstanding the vast range of her experience, seemed to her almost incredible. The years in which she basked in the sunshine of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's spiritual victories were, perhaps, among the brightest and happiest of her life. Little did she dream when, as a little girl, she was running about, in the courtyard of her Father's house in Tihrán, in the company of Him Whose destiny was to be one day the chosen Centre of God's indestructible Covenant, that such a Brother would be capable of achieving, in realms so distant, and among races so utterly remote, so great and memorable a victory.
      The enthusiasm and joy which swelled in her breast as she greeted 'Abdu'l-Bahá on His triumphant return from the West, I will not venture to


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.
      The outbreak of the Great War gave her yet another opportunity to reveal the true worth of her character and to release the latent energies of her heart. The residence of 'Abdu'l-Bahá in Haifa was besieged, all throughout that dreary conflict, by a concourse of famished men, women and children whom the maladministration, the cruelty and neglect of the officials of the Ottoman Government had driven to seek an alleviation to their woes. From the hand of the Greatest Holy Leaf, and out of the abundance of her heart, these hapless victims of a contemptible tyranny, received day after day unforgettable evidences of a love they had learned to envy and admire. Her words of cheer and comfort, the food, the money, the clothing she freely dispensed, the remedies which, by a process of her own, she herself prepared and diligently applied—all these had their share in comforting the disconsolate, in restoring sight to the blind, in sheltering the orphan, in healing the sick, and in succouring the homeless and the wanderer.
      She had reached, amidst the darkness of the war


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.
      Age seemed to have accentuated the tenderness of her loving heart, and to have widened still further the range of her sympathies. The sight of appalling suffering around her steeled her energies and revealed such potentialities that her most intimate associates had failed to suspect.
      The ascension of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, so tragic in its suddenness, was to her a terrible blow from the effects of which she never completely recovered. To her He, Whom she called 'Áqá', had been a refuge in times of adversity. On Him she had been led to place her sole reliance. In Him she had found ample compensation for the bereavements she had suffered, the desertions she had witnessed, the ingratitude she had been shown by friends and kindred. No one could ever dream that a woman of her age, so frail in body, so sensitive of heart, so loaded with the cares of almost eighty years of incessant tribulation, could so long survive so shattering a blow. And yet, history, no less than the annals of our immortal Faith, shall record for her a share in the advancement and consolidation of the world-wide Community


which the hand of 'Abdu'l-Bahá had helped to fashion, which no one among the remnants of His Family can rival.
      Which of the blessings am I to recount, which in her unfailing solicitude she showered upon me, in the most critical and agitated hours of my life? To me, standing in so dire a need of the vitalizing grace of God, she was the living symbol of many an attribute I had learned to admire in 'Abdu'l-Bahá. She was to me a continual reminder of His inspiring personality, of His calm resignation, of His munificence and magnanimity. To me she was an incarnation of His winsome graciousness, of His all-encompassing tenderness and love.
      It would take me too long to make even a brief allusion to those incidents of her life, each of which eloquently proclaims her as a daughter, worthy to inherit that priceless heritage bequeathed to her by Bahá'u'lláh. A purity of life that reflected itself in even the minutest details of her daily occupations and activities; a tenderness of heart that obliterated every distinction of creed, class and colour; a resignation and serenity that evoked to the mind the calm and heroic fortitude of the Báb; a natural fondness of flowers and children that was so characteristic of Bahá'u'lláh; an unaffected simplicity of manners; an extreme sociability which made her accessible to all; a generosity, a love, at once disinterested and undiscriminating, that reflected so clearly the attributes of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's character; a sweetness of temper; a cheerfulness that no amount


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 enemy—these 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.
      No wonder that in Tablets, which stand as eternal testimonies to the beauty of her character, Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá have paid touching tributes to those things that testify to her exalted position among the members of their Family, that proclaim her as an example to their followers, and as an object worthy of the admiration of all mankind.
      I need only, at this juncture, quote the following passage from a Tablet addressed by 'Abdu'l-Bahá to the Holy Mother, the tone of which reveals unmistakably the character of those ties that bound Him to so precious, so devoted a sister:
      'To my honoured and distinguished sister do thou convey the expression of my heartfelt, my intense longing. Day and night she liveth in my remembrance. 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.'
      Dearly-beloved Greatest Holy Leaf! Through the mist of tears that fill my eyes I can clearly see, as I pen these lines, thy noble figure before me, and can


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.
      Bear thou this my message to 'Abdu'l-Bahá, thine exalted and divinely-appointed Brother: If the Cause for which Bahá'u'lláh toiled and laboured, for which Thou didst suffer years of agonizing sorrow, for the sake of which streams of sacred blood have flowed, should, in the days to come, encounter storms more severe than those it has already weathered, do Thou continue to overshadow, with Thine all-encompassing care and wisdom, Thy frail, Thy unworthy appointed child.
      Intercede, O noble and well-favoured scion of a heavenly Father, for me no less than for the toiling masses of thy ardent lovers, who have sworn undying allegiance to thy memory, whose souls have been nourished by the energies of thy love,


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.
      Whatever betide us, however distressing the vicissitudes which the nascent Faith of God may yet experience, we pledge ourselves, before the mercy-seat of thy glorious Father, to hand on, unimpaired and undivided, to generations yet unborn, the glory of that tradition of which thou hast been its most brilliant exemplar.
      In the innermost recesses of our hearts, O thou exalted Leaf of the eyes Paradise, we have reared for thee a shining mansion that the hand of time can never undermine, a shrine which shall frame eternally the matchless beauty of thy countenance, an altar whereon the fire of thy consuming love shall burn for ever.





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...
      The celebration of Bahá'í festive anniversaries, I feel, should also be suspended during a period of nine months.

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 Name—may the spirits of


the Concourse on High be sacrificed for Him—has 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 sufferings—then 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.
      Bearing witness to this, at this very moment, is her own pure and radiant soul, her bright and sacred spirit, that soars in the atmosphere of the invisible realm, and gazes, from beyond the throne of the Most High, upon me and upon those others on earth who are enamoured of her well-beloved name.
      O thou Scion of Bahá! I weep over thee in the night season, as do the bereaved; and at break of day I cry out unto thee with the tongue of my heart, my limbs and members, and again and again I repeat thy well-loved name, and I groan over the loss of thee, over thy meekness and ordeals, and how thou didst love me, over the sufferings thou didst bear, and the terrible calamities, and the wretchedness and the griefs, and the abasement, and the rejection—and all


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.
      Whensoever, in sleep, I call to mind and see thy smiling face, whensoever, by day or night, I circumambulate thine honoured tomb, then in the innermost depths of my being are rekindled the fires of yearning, and the cord of my patience is severed, and again the tears come and all the world grows dark before my eyes. And whensoever I remember what blows were rained upon thee at the close of thy days, the discomforts, trials and illnesses—and I picture thy surroundings now, in the Sanctuary on High, in the midmost heart of Heaven, beside the pavilions of grandeur and might; and I behold thy present glory, thy deliverance, the delights, the bounties, the bestowals, the majesty and dominion and power, the joy, thine exultation, and thy triumph—then the burden of my grieving is lightened, the cloud of sorrow is dispelled, the heat of my torment abates. Then is my tongue loosed to praise and thank thee, and thy Lord, Him Who did fashion thee and did prefer thee to all other handmaidens, and did give thee to drink from His sweet-scented lips, Who withdrew the veil of concealment from thy true being and made thee to be a true example for all thy kin to follow, and caused thee to be the fragrance of His garment for all of creation.
      And at such times I strengthen my resolve to follow in thy footsteps, and to continue onward in the pathway of thy love; to take thee as my model,


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.
      Then intercede thou for me before the throne of the Almighty, O thou who, within the Company on High, dost intercede for all of humankind. Deliver me from the throes of my mourning, and confer upon me and those who love thee in this nether world what will remove our afflictions, and bring assurance to our hearts, and quiet the winds of our sorrows, and console our eyes, and fulfil our hopes both in this world and the world to come—O thou whom God hast singled out from amongst all the countenances of the dos Paradise, and hast honoured in both His earth and His Kingdom on high, and of whom He has made mention in the Crimson Book, in words which wafted the scent of musk and scattered its fragrance over all the dwellers on earth!
      O thou Greatest Holy Leaf! If I cry at every moment out of a hundred mouths, and from each of these mouths I speak with a hundred thousand tongues, yet I could never describe nor celebrate thy heavenly qualities, which are known to none save only the Lord God; nor could I befittingly tell of even the transient foam from out the ocean of thine endless favour and grace.
      Except for a very few, whose habitation is in the highest retreats of holiness, and who circle, in the furthermost Sanctuary, by day and by night about the throne of God, and are fed at the hand of the


Abhá Beauty on purest milk—except 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.
      To this bear witness the Company on High, and beyond them God Himself, the Supreme Lord of all the heavens and the earths: that during all thy days, from thine earliest years until the close of thy life, thou didst personify the attributes of thy Father, the Matchless, the Mighty. Thou wert the fruit of His Tree, thou wert the lamp of His love, thou wert the symbol of His serenity, and of His meekness, the pathway of His guidance, the channel of His blessings, the sweet scent of His robe, the refuge of His loved ones and His handmaidens, the mantle of His generosity and grace.
      O thou Remnant of the divine light, O thou fruit of the Cause of our All-Compelling Lord! From the hour when thy days did set, on the horizon of this Snow-White, this unique and Sacred Spot, our days have turned to night, our joys to great consternation; our eyes have grown blind with sorrow at thy passing, for it has brought back that supreme affliction yet again, that direst convulsion, the departing of thy compassionate Brother, our Merciful Master. And there is no refuge for us anywhere except for the breathings of thy spirit, the spotless, the excellently bright; no shelter for us anywhere,


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.
      O thou Maid of Bahá! The best and choicest of praises, and the most excellent and most glorious of salutations, rest upon thee, O thou solace of mine eyes, and beloved of my soul! Thy grace to me was plenteous, it can never be concealed; thy love for me was great, it can never be forgotten. Blessed, a thousand times blessed, is he who loves thee, and partakes of thy splendours, and sings the praises of thy qualities, and extols thy worth, and follows in thy footsteps; who testifies to the wrongs thou didst suffer, and visits thy resting-place, and circles around thine exalted tomb, by day and by night. Woe unto him, retribution be his, who disputes thy rank and station, and denies thine excellence, and turns himself aside from thy clear, thy luminous and straight path.
      O ye distracted lovers of that winsome countenance! It is meet and fitting that in the gatherings of the loved ones of God and the handmaids of the Merciful in all the countries and lands of the East, these shining words and clear tokens from the Supreme Pen and His Interpreter's wonder-working hand—verses which were revealed for that priceless treasure of the Kingdom—should be repeatedly recited, most movingly with devotion and lowliness, and great attention and care, so as


to perpetuate her blessed memory, and extol her station, and out of love also for her incomparable beauty.
      May the honoured members of the Central Assembly of Iran circulate these Writings, immediately and with great care, to the countries of the East, through their Local Spiritual Assemblies; for this task is a great bounty especially set apart for the trustees of His devoted loved ones in that noble homeland. May God reward them with excellent rewards, in both this world of His, and in His Kingdom.

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.
      Impregnated with that love after which the soul of a humanity in travail now hungers, these passages disclose, to the extent that our finite minds can comprehend, the nature of that mystic bond which, on one hand, united her with the Spirit of her almighty Father and, on the other, linked her so closely with her glorious Brother, the perfect Exemplar of that Spirit.
      The memory of her who was a pattern of

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 words—a memory the ennobling influence of which will remain an inspiration and a solace amid the wreckage of a sadly shaken world.
      Conscious of the predominating share assumed, in recent years, by the American believers in alleviating the burden which that most exalted Leaf bore so heroically in the evening of her life, I can do no better than entrust into their hands these prized testimonies of the Founder of our Faith and of the Centre of His Covenant. I feel confident that their elected representatives will take whatever measures are required for their prompt and wide circulation among their brethren throughout the West. They will, thereby, be contributing still further to the repayment of the great debt they owe her in the prosecution of a mighty and divinely-appointed task.

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 Leaf—the last survivor of a glorious and heroic age—there 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.




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.
      Their resting-places are in one area, on an elevation close by the Spot round which do circle the Concourse on High, and facing the Qiblih of the people of Bahá—'Akká, the resplendent city, and the sanctified, the luminous, the Most Holy Shrine.
      Within the shadow of these honoured tombs has also been laid the remains of the consort2 of Him round Whom all names revolve.
      For joy, the Hill of God is stirred at so high an honour, and for this most great bestowal the mountain of the Lord is in rapture and ecstasy.

1 The remains of the Purest Branch and those of Navváb.
2 Munírih Khánum.


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.

1 Bahá'u'lláh's.
2 The Most Exalted Leaf.


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...
      These Edifices will, in the shape of a far-flung arc, and following a harmonizing style of architecture, surround the resting-places of the Greatest Holy Leaf, ranking as foremost among the members of her sex in the Bahá'í Dispensation, of her Brother, offered up as a ransom by Bahá'u'lláh for the quickening of the world and its unification, and of their Mother, proclaimed by Him to be His chosen 'consort in all the worlds of God'.

1 The International Archives Building.


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