Lauded be Thy name, O Lord my God! Thou seest me in this day shut up in my prison, and fallen into the hands of Thine adversaries, and beholdest my son (The Purest Branch) lying on the dust before Thy face. He is Thy servant, O my Lord, whom Thou hast caused to be related to Him Who is the Manifestation of Thyself and the Day-Spring of Thy Cause.
At his birth he was afflicted through his separation from Thee, according to what had been ordained for him through Thine irrevocable decree. And when he had quaffed the cup of reunion with Thee, he was cast into prison for having believed in Thee and in Thy signs. He continued to serve Thy Beauty until he entered into this Most Great Prison. Thereupon I offered him up, O my God, as a sacrifice in Thy path. Thou well knowest what they who love Thee have endured through this trial that hath caused the kindreds of the earth to wail, and beyond them the Concourse on high to lament.
I beseech Thee, O my Lord, by him and by his exile and his imprisonment, to send down upon such as loved him what will quiet their hearts and bless their works. Potent art Thou to do as Thou willest. No God is there but Thee, the Almighty, the Most Powerful.
(Bahá’u’lláh, Prayers and Meditations by Bahá’u’lláh, p. 34-35)
AT last came a day, four months after the death of the Purest Branch, when the movement of troops in the Ottoman domain compelled the authorities to have access to and make use of the barracks of ‘Akká. The gates were flung open and the exiles were sent to other accommodation within the city walls. Bahá’u’lláh and His family were moved to the house of Malik, in the Fakhurah quarter, in the western part of the prison-city. The majority of the companions were lodged in a caravanserai, called Khan-i-‘Avamid, close to the sea-shore. But a number of them found separate homes. Aqay-i-Kalim and his family went to live in a house within the compound of the caravanserai. The Khan-i-‘Avamid or Khan al-‘Umdan was built by Ahmad al-Jazzar using pillars brought from Caesarea. Its clock tower is a more modern structure, having been built to commemorate the jubilee of Sultan ‘Abdu’l-Hamid. It served as the first pilgrim house of the Holy Land and many eminent Bahá’ís, including Mishkin-Qalam, Zaynu’l-Muqarrabin and Haji Mirza Haydar-‘Ali, resided there. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá frequently entertained the pilgrims there and it is probable that Bahá’u’lláh also visited it.
(H.M. Balyuzi, Bahá’u’lláh - The King of Glory, p. 313)
During those days one hundred years ago Bahá’u’lláh was enduring His imprisonment in the Barracks of ‘Akká. Upon the tribulations which weighed Him down was heaped the fatal accident which befell His young son, His companion and amanuensis, Mirza Mihdi, the Purest Branch, whose dying supplication to his Father was to accept his life “as a ransom for those of His loved ones who yearned for, but were unable to attain, His presence.” In a Tablet revealed in that grievous hour Bahá’u’lláh sorrows that “This is the day whereon he that was created of the light of Bahá has suffered martyrdom, at a time when he lay imprisoned at the hands of his enemies.” Yet He makes clear that the youth passing has a far profounder meaning than His acceptance of the simple request, declaring that “Thou art, verily, the trust of God and His treasure in this land. Erelong will God reveal through thee that which He hath desired.” In a prayer revealed for His son He proclaims the purpose underlying the tragedy: “I have, O my Lord, offered up that which Thou hast given Me, that Thy servants may be quickened, and all that dwell on earth be united.” Thus upon a youth of consummate devotion who demonstrated such beauty of spirit and total dedication was conferred a unique station in the Cause of God.
(The Universal House of Justice, Messages 1963 to 1986, p. 168-169)
To the galling weight of these tribulations was now added the bitter grief of a sudden tragedy—the premature loss of the noble, the pious Mirza Mihdi, the Purest Branch, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s twenty-two year old brother, an amanuensis of Bahá’u’lláh and a companion of His exile from the days when, as a child, he was brought from Tihran to Baghdad to join his Father after His return from Sulaymaniyyih. He was pacing the roof of the barracks in the twilight, one evening, wrapped in his customary devotions, when he fell through the unguarded skylight onto a wooden crate, standing on the floor beneath, which pierced his ribs, and caused, twenty-two hours later, his death, on the 23rd of Rabi‘u’l-Avval 1287 A.H.
(June 23, 1870). His dying supplication to a grieving Father was that his life might be accepted as a ransom for those who were prevented from attaining the presence of their Beloved. In a highly significant prayer, revealed by Bahá’u’lláh in memory of His son—a prayer that exalts his death to the rank of those great acts of atonement associated with Abraham’s intended sacrifice of His son, with the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and the martyrdom of the Imam Husayn—we read the following: “I have, O my Lord, offered up that which Thou hast given Me, that Thy servants may be quickened, and all that dwell on earth be united.” And, likewise, these prophetic words, addressed to His martyred son: “Thou art the Trust of God and His Treasure in this Land. Erelong will God reveal through thee that which He hath desired.” After he had been washed in the presence of Bahá’u’lláh, he “that was created of the light of Bahá,” to whose “meekness” the Supreme Pen had testified, and of the “mysteries” of whose ascension that same Pen had made mention, was borne forth, escorted by the fortress guards, and laid to rest, beyond the city walls, in a spot adjacent to the shrine of Nabi Salih, from whence, seventy years later, his remains, simultaneously with those of his illustrious mother, were to be translated to the slopes of Mt. Carmel, in the precincts of the grave of his sister, and under the shadow of the Báb’s holy sepulcher.
(Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 187-189)
During the few years of his adult life, Mirza Mihdi had acted as an amanuensis of his Father, and Bahá’u’lláh’s Tablets in his distinguished handwriting are extant. According to Aqa Rida’s testimony, who had seen him grow up to young manhood, he was a pillar of strength amongst the companions, from the days they came out of Baghdad to the day a tragic mishap brought his short and unsullied life to its conclusion, sitting with them at their gatherings, reading to them of that which flowed from the Supreme Pen, teaching them the lessons of courtesy and patience, of dignity and radiant submission to the will of God.
(H.M. Balyuzi, Bahá’u’lláh - The King of Glory, p. 313-314)
In your recalling the bereavement of Bahá’u’lláh upon the loss of His loved son, and honouring a highly significant event in the Faith, we leave it to the discretion of the Assemblies whether they choose to hold special gatherings of prayer. In the Holy Land at the World Centre on Mount Carmel there will be an observance at the grave of Mirza Mihdi, at which time his pure example and sacrifice for all mankind will be remembered through the words of his glorious Father.
(The Universal House of Justice, Messages 1963 to 1986, p. 169)
Aqa Husayn related that Shaykh Mahmud (whose wondrous story we shall shortly come by) told the Most Great Branch that he desired the honour of washing and shrouding the body of the Purest Branch, so that the guards should not lay their hands on that which was holy, and his offer was accepted; whereupon a tent was pitched in the yard, inside which the body of Mirza Mihdi was laid, and with the aid of some of the companions (one of whom was Ashchi himself), who brought water and other accessories, Shaykh Mahmud prepared the body of the martyred son of Bahá’u’lláh for interment. The Most Great Branch, sorely stricken by the death of His dearly-loved brother, His grief, Ashchi remarks, imprinted on His visage, was during that period walking outside the tent with rapid paces, keeping watch. And Aqa Rida says that the notables of ‘Akká joined the funeral procession. The Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith further writes: After he had been washed in the presence of Bahá’u’lláh, he ‘that was created of the light of Bahá’, to whose meekness’ the Supreme Pen had testified, and of the ‘mysteries’ of whose ascension that same Pen had made mention, was borne forth, escorted by the
fortress guards, and laid to rest, beyond the city walls, in a spot adjacent to the shrine of Nabi Salih [the Prophet Salih], from whence, seventy years later, his remains, simultaneously with those of his illustrious mother, were to be translated [in December 1939] to the slopes of Mt Carmel, in the precincts of the grave of his sister, and under the shadow of the Báb’s holy sepulcher. (H.M. Balyuzi, Bahá’u’lláh - The King of Glory, p. 313-314)