Love

Bahá’u’lláh’s family were full of grief, they had not seen Him for almost two years. Even His jealous brother Mirza Yahyah wanted Him to return, but what could they do? There was no word of Him, they did not even know if he was still alive. His little son, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá longed to see his father again, longed and longed till his heart ached. One night he was so lonely he could not sleep, in the moonlight all through the night he prayed the same prayer, begging for his father’s return. Now, the very next day walking in the streets of Baghdad with his uncle, they heard a snatch of conversation, a dervish, of incomparable wisdom, was living in the mountains of Soolaymania, He had magnetised all with His love. It could be no-one but his beloved Father! Immediately they sent word to the nameless dervish, begging Him to return, and He agreed. What months of waiting followed! The gentle Navab called her little daughter to her. ‘Bahiyyiah, you and I shall make something for our Beloved’s return!’ And she took pieces of Tirmih, precious red cloth that was all that remained of her wedding treasures, and they started to stitch. Little Bahiyyah’s face a glow, imagining the joy of being together again, how she would hug her father, and hold onto His hands, and kiss Him, how beautiful her mother would look in the new red dress, and her brother would be happy once more. As they stitched through the red cloth, piecing it together but by bit Navab told Bahiyyiah how her wedding treasures had been loaded onto forty mules, how for six months before her marriage a jeweller had made exquisite treasures, for even the buttons of her garments had once been gold, set with precious stones. Bahiyyih saw that Navab’s hands, once soft and smooth, were now rough and worn with work. At last, at last! A foot fall, a face at the door. Bahá’u’lláh had returned! After the tears had fallen, the kisses kissed, the joy laughed out, the red bundle was brought, Navab had made no dress for herself, but taking the last thing of beauty she had, she had made a red aba for the shoulders of her Beloved.

Ruhi Book 4

Into the lives of those He loved spilled ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s love of flowers, which He often shared with others. On one occasion a ‘little floor maid emerged from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s suite, her arms filled with roses – beautiful roses – a gift to Him from some of the Bahá’ís. Sensing that we were friends of the Master,’ continued Ella Quant, ‘all formality fell away and with a touching gesture she exclaimed, “See what He gave me! See what He gave me!” She probably knew nothing of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Station as the Center of God’s Covenant and the Interpreter of Bahá’u’lláh’s teaching to a needy world; she perhaps did not know His name or title, but He had shown her His love.’

Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 97

Mary Bolles (Maxwell) took an early pilgrimage to the prison city. She heard that the food man eats is of no importance, as its effect endures but a short time. But the food of the spirit is life to the soul and its effects endure eternally. She heard ‘Abdu’l-Bahá tell the touching ‘story of the hermit’. Bahá’u’lláh ‘was traveling from one place to another with His followers’ and ‘He passed through a lonely country where, at some little distance from the highway, a hermit lived alone in a cave. He was a holy man, and having heard that Our Lord, Bahá’u’lláh, would pass that way, he watched eagerly for His approach. When the Manifestation arrived at that spot the hermit knelt down and kissed the dust before His feet and said to Him: “Oh, my Lord, I am a poor man living alone in a cave nearby; but henceforth I shall account myself the happiest of mortals if Thou wilt but come for a moment to my cave and bless it by Thy Presence.” Then Bahá’u’lláh told the man that He would come, not for a moment but for three days, and He bade His followers cast their tents, and await His return. The poor man was so overcome with joy and with gratitude that he was speechless, and led the way in humble silence to his lowly dwelling in a rock. There the Glorious One sat with him, talking to him and teaching him, and toward evening the man bethought himself that he had nothing to offer his great Guest but some dry meat and some dark bread, and water from a spring nearby. Not knowing what to do he threw himself at the feet of his Lord and confessed his dilemma. Bahá’u’lláh comforted him and by a word bade him fetch the meat and bread and water; then the Lord of the universe partook of this frugal repast with joy and fragrance as though it had been a banquet, and during the three days of His visit they ate only of this food which seemed to the poor hermit the most delicious he had ever eaten. Bahá’u’lláh declared that He had never been more nobly entertained nor received greater hospitality and love. “This,” explained the Master, when He had finished the story, shows us how little man requires when he is nourished by the sweetness of all foods – the love of God.”’

Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

Service to God, to Bahá’u’lláh, to family, to friends and enemies, indeed to all mankind – this was the pattern of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s life. He wished only to be the Servant of God and man. To serve – rather than being demeaning and unfulfilling – was honour, joy and fulfilment. This motivated His entire day from Dawn to after midnight. He used to say, ‘Nothing is too much trouble when one loves, and there is always time.’

Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 104

The Bábis were in a pitiful state. They were shattered, disheartened, grief stricken and bitter from the king’s persecutions. Bloodstained and bedraggled they followed Bahá’u’lláh to Bagdad, not knowing what else to do. He received them all with boundless love and gently revived them with His tender words. Hope blossomed once again.

Ruhi Book 1

There is no need to belabour the fact that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s every act spoke of love – a love for every human being, each created by God. His abundant love, universal and divine, transcended limited, ‘semi-selfish’ loves – loves often born of race or religion, colour or country, family or friendship. Because His love of God and Bahá’u’lláh ran deep, His love for human beings followed naturally and sincerely. He knew what it meant when He said: ‘When you love a member of your family or a compatriot, let it be with a ray of the Infinite Love! Let it be in God, and for God!’

He advised pilgrim Anna Kunz and her husband in 1921, ‘Just like a shepherd who is affectionate to all his sheep, without preference or distinction, you should be affectionate to all. You should not look at their short-comings. Consider that they are all created by God who loves them all.’

Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 95