Death

Ridvaniyyih Khanum related that when her child was ill, the Master came and gave two pink roses to the little one, then, turning to the mother, He said in His musical voice so full of love: “Be patient.” That evening the child passed away.
"Ridvaniyyih,” said the Master, “there is a Garden of God. Human beings are trees growing therein. The Gardener is Our Father. When He sees a little tree in a place too small for her development, He prepares a suitable and more beautiful place, where she may grow and bear fruit. Then He transplants that little tree. The other trees marvel, saying: ‘This is a lovely little tree. For what reason does the Gardener uproot it?’ “The Divine Gardener, alone, knows the reason.
"You are weeping, Ridvaniyyih, but if you could see the beauty of the place where she is, you would no longer be sad. “Your child is now free, and, like a bird, is chanting divine joyous melodies. “If you could see that sacred Garden, you would not be content to remain here on earth. Yet this is where your duty now lies."
When my own mother made the “great change” from one world of God to another, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá wrote a very beautiful tablet to me, in which He spoke of my mother as being “in the garden of rejuvenation.” One day a friend, who had not yet heard of the tablet of the Master, told me of a vivid dream she had of my mother, whom she had known and loved. “I seemed to be in a marvellous garden, where every type of rare and beautiful flower was in bloom. Moving about among the flowers was a young girl. She seemed to be a in a state of inexpressible joy over the loveliness of her garden. Her voice, as she chanted, was full of the ecstasy of a complete happiness. She listened to the song of birds, and inhaled the odour of the flowers as though she were filling her soul with their fragrance. Suddenly she turned towards me, as though conscious that someone was there beside herself. The young girl facing me with an enchanting smile was your mother, in the full beauty of youth.”
(Lady Blomfield, The Chosen Highway, p. 216-217)


One day, Dr. Khan reminded Abu’l-Fadl that, day after day, he had offered service to the best of his ability and, in view of this, would Abu’l-Fadl answer just one question: What really happened to the soul after death? Abu’l-Fadl looked at Khan very thoughtfully – and changed the subject. A few days later, as they were nearing Washington, Dr. Khan repeated his question - “Please tell me - what does happen to the soul after death?” Abu’l-Fadl glanced at Khan and changed the subject. Finally they reached Washington and the day before Abu’l-Fadl was to return to Acca. Dr. Khan asked the question for the third time. Abu’l-Fadl smiled. and went away. Two or three years went by and one day Khan was sitting on a beach, looking at the sea. On the horizon was a ship, and as first the hull and then the sails slipped out of sight - suddenly, gloriously, Khan knew what happened to the soul after death. For, to those on board that ship nothing had happened - they were still on their familiar ship sailing the same sea. So, some time later when Ali Kuli Khan met Abu’l-Fadl in Acca he told him of this experience and added - “"Why was it you refused, when I first asked you, to answer my question? Abu’l-Fadl said, lovingly,
"If, my dear friend, you would have been able to understand my answer, you would never have asked the question.”
(Reginald Grant Barrow, Mother’s Stories: Stories of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and Early Believers told by Muriel Ives Barrow Newhall to her son, p. 8)


When the Master was in the Chicago area, he visited Oak Woods Cemetery, to be at the grave site of Davis True. He was accompanied by Corinne True and others. As well as reciting the Prayer for the Dead, He also prayed for all the other people who were buried there.
(Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 86)


The great kindness that was such a prominent feature of Shoghi Effendi’s character is shown in the manner in which he conveyed to Khánum the news of the death of her beloved mother, May Maxwell: The devastating news of May Maxwell’s passing in Argentina was a terrible shock to Rhíyyih Khánum. She often repeated the story of how she received this sad news from the Guardian. Four cables had arrived that day and she took them to Shoghi Effendi in his study. He opened each one and then looked up at Rhíyyih Khánum with a mixture of shock, love and compassion on his face. She said the look frightened her, and she started backing away until she reached the wall. She said she wanted to sink into the wall so deep was the fear engendered in her by that look. Shoghi Effendi went over to her, held her in his arms and broke the news to her with great tenderness. He told her ‘Now I will be your mother‘. Then he spoke of the high station of May Maxwell in the Abhá Kingdom, of her joy in at long last having reached her heart’s desire, of her nearness to her beloved Lord and Master, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Then gently, in order to dispel her shaking grief, he began to talk to Amatu’l-Bahá in a lighter mood, to describe her mother’s activities in the next world, where she was going and what she was doing in that sublime company. She would have been ushered immediately into the presence of Bahá’u’lláh first, of course, he assured her. And no sooner had she come there than she naturally asked permission to tell Him about her precious daughter. But she talked so much that Bahá’u’lláh had finally become tired and had passed her on to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Here again she did nothing but talk about her beautiful daughter, until at length, exhausted, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá passed her on to the Greatest Holy Leaf. And there she is still, said Shoghi Effendi laughing, there she is still talking about her beloved daughter, stopping every passing member of the Concourse with her opening lines, ‘Do let me tell you about my daughter ... !’ By the time he reached this point in his narrative, Rhíyyih Khánum was laughing through her tears. And so with infinite compassion and patience, he comforted her.
(Violette Nakhjavání, A Tribute to Amatu’l-Bahá Rhíyyih Khánum, p. 37-38)


When the Master was on the steamship Celtic, a woman came to Him with her problem: she was afraid of death. He said to her: ‘Then do something that will keep you from dying; that will instead, day by day make you more alive, and bring you everlasting life. According to the words of His Holiness Christ, those who enter the Kingdom of God will never die. Then enter the Divine Kingdom, and fear death no more.’ They spoke of the Atlantic Ocean—it was temporarily quiet. He advised: ‘One must ride in the Ship of God; for this life is a stormy sea, and all the people on earth—that is, over two billion souls—will drown in it before a hundred years have passed. All, except those who ride in the Ship of God. Those will be saved.’
(Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 59)


‘Abdu’l-Bahá had occasion to try to comfort a woman who had lost her beloved baby over twenty-one years before. He asked her not to cry. He told her, ‘I had a son who was four years old, and when he died I did not at all change My attitude. I gave My son to God as a trust, and so at his death I did not grieve.’ (Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 162)



Indeed he became free from the troubles of this world. No matter how long he might have remained here, he would have met nothing else but trouble. The purpose of life is to get certain results; that is, the life of man must bring forth certain fruitage. It does not depend upon the length of life. As soon as the life is crowned with fruition then it is completed....
(Words of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá about Thornton Chase, the first Bahá’í in North America (Star of the West III:13, 13 Nov. 1912, p. 14, quoted in “‘Abdu’l-Bahá in their Midst” by Earl Redman, p. 233.)


Two ladies had an interview with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in New York City. Ella Quant wrote about that occasion: ‘He told Margaret He prayed for her parents (who had passed into the life beyond some months before). Her eyes filled with tears and overflowed; mine then did likewise. The interpreter, perhaps at a loss, shook his head at us and said in an admonishing tone that we should never cry in His presence. It made Him sad. As I looked up, I saw that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s sadness was for us – not for Himself – for with hands outstretched to calm and protect us, like a mother bird hovering over her young in the next, He explained in English, Laugh! Laugh! I shall never forget that voice, vibrant and powerful beyond any words of mine to express. In that voice I have come to see the power of heaven to rout all negative forces of existence, and in arising to obey that command to find the eternal joy of life.’ The Master could call for laughter even at a time such as that – this need not seem strange when one realizes that He saw death as ‘a messenger of joy‘.
(Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 172)