Ridvan: Suggested Prayers and Readings
See also The Ridvan Tablet “The Divine Springtime Has Come.”
Inhale the fragrances of the Ridvan from His roses and be not of those who are deprived. Appreciate the bounty of God upon you and be not veiled therefrom – and, verily, We have sent Him forth in the temple of man. Thus praise ye the Lord, the Originator of whatsoever He willeth through His wise and inviolable Command!
Verily, those who withhold themselves from the shelter of the Branch are indeed lost in the wilderness of perplexity; and are consumed by the heat of self-desire, and are of those who perish.
Hasten, O people, unto the shelter of God, in order that He may protect you from the heat of the Day whereon none shall find for himself any refuge or shelter except beneath the shelter of His Name, the clement, the forgiving! Clothe yourselves, O people, with the garment of assurance, in order that He may protect you from the dart of doubts and superstitions, and that ye may be of those who are assured in those days wherein none shall ever be assured and none shall be firmly established in the Cause, except by severing himself from all that is possessed by the people and turning unto the holy and radiant Outlook. (Baha’u’llah, The Tablet of the Branch – from BWF)
The Festival of Ridvan is come and the splendour of the light of God is shining from the invisible horizon of His mercy. The overflowing grace of the Lord of oneness is pouring down copiously from the unseen world and the glad-tidings of the Kingdom are coming in from all countries. The resplendent morn that betokens the advancement of the Cause of God and heralds the exaltation of His Word is dawning in every region.
Praise be to God that the fame of the Ancient Beauty — may my life be offered up for His loved ones — has been noised abroad in the world and the glory of His Cause is spread far and wide throughout the East and the West. These joyous developments will indeed gladden the hearts of His loved ones.
(Compilations, Bahiyyih Khanum, p. 112)
So it was that Khurasan became the grove of the lions of God, and a nesting-place for the birds of the Ridvan Paradise. The Ancient Beauty singled out that blessed land for special favour, extending to it uncounted blessings and gifts. Now in wondrous and most sweet voice, again with the tracings of His exalted pen, and on the head of each one of the beloved in that bright region, He set a crown of imperishable glory, and He robed each one with His bestowals and grace, and wrapped each one in a mantle of spiritual perfections. Of them all He spoke the highest praise, and to all He gave abundant blessings, as is proved by the text of His scrolls and Tablets. And whenever that sacred King of all the world would speak of Khurasan, His being would stir for joy, and His luminous face would grow still brighter with exceeding gladness. His bounties never ceased, and from clouds of grace His favours continually showered down upon that land.
Then came the era of the Covenant, and that full cup was passed from hand to hand, and the Sun of the Covenant rose up, shedding abroad on the horizon of unity the rays of servitude and thraldom, and lighting up the hearts of humankind. New life was breathed into the body of the world, and into the human soul came a fresh measure of delight. The hearts of the people of Baha rejoiced to hear the glad-tidings from the Abha Kingdom, and the minds of those who had sought shelter under the 152 Tree of holiness were illumined with beams of fidelity and faith. Once again, the loved ones in that region were inebriated with the wine of the Primal Covenant, and in their firmness and steadfastness and loyalty they led the field. They showed forth such constancy as to astonish the mind, and they manifested such power and endurance as to raze the piled-up doubts of the doubters to the ground. (Compilations, Bahiyyih Khanum, p. 150)
He is God!  [1 This prayer was revealed by 'Abdu'l-Bahá for the Consort of the King of Martyrs.]
Thou seest, O my Lord, the assemblage of Thy loved ones, the company of Thy friends, gathered by the precincts of Thine all-sufficing Shrine, and in the neighborhood of Thine exalted garden, on a day among the days of Thy Ridvan Feast — that blessed time when Thou didst dawn upon the world, shedding thereon the lights of Thy holiness, spreading abroad the bright rays of Thy oneness, and didst issue forth from Baghdad, with a majesty and might that encompassed all mankind; with a glory that made all to fall prostrate before Thee, all heads to bow, every neck to bend low, and the gaze of every man to be cast down. They are calling Thee to mind and making mention of Thee, their breasts gladdened with the lights of Thy bestowals, their souls restored by the evidences of Thy gifts, speaking Thy praise, turning their faces toward 176 Thy Kingdom, humbly supplicating Thy lofty Realms. (Abdu’l-Baha, Memorials of the Faithful, p. 174)
Thou didst wish to celebrate the Day of Ridvan with a feast, and to have those present on that day engage in reciting Tablets with delight and joy, and thou didst request me to send thee a letter to be read on that day. My letter is this:
O ye beloved, and ye handmaids of the Merciful! This is the day when the Day-Star of Truth rose over the horizon of life, and its glory spread, and its brightness shone out with such power that it clove the dense and high-piled clouds and mounted the skies of the world in all its splendour. Hence do ye witness a new stirring throughout all created things.
See how, in this day, the scope of sciences and arts hath widened out, and what wondrous technical advances have been made, and to what a high degree the mind’s powers have increased, and what stupendous inventions have appeared.
This age is indeed as a hundred other ages: should ye gather the yield of a hundred ages, and set that against the accumulated product of our times, the yield of this one era will prove greater than that of a hundred gone before. Take ye, for an example, the sum total of all the books that were ever written in ages past, and compare that with the books and treatises that our era hath produced: these books, 112 written in our day alone, far and away exceed the total number of volumes that have been written down the ages. See how powerful is the influence exerted by the Day-Star of the world upon the inner essence of all created things!
But alas, a thousand times alas! The eyes see it not, the ears are deaf, and the hearts and minds are oblivious of this supreme bestowal. Strive ye then, with all your hearts and souls, to awaken those who slumber, to cause the blind to see, and the dead to rise. (Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 111)
[2 The year 1290 from the proclamation of the mission of Muhammad was the year 1280 of the Hejira, or 1863-64 of our era. It was at this epoch (April 1863) that Bahá'u'lláh, on leaving Baghdad for Constantinople, declared to those who surrounded Him that He was the Manifestation announced by the Báb.
It is this declaration which the Bahá'ís celebrate by the Feast of Ridvan, this name being that of the garden at the entrance of the city, where Bahá'u'lláh stayed during twelve days, and where He made the declaration. 45 (Abdu'l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, p. 44)
Wert thou to reflect upon that which We have revealed unto thee, thou wouldst undoubtedly grasp Our purpose in this utterance and discover that which We have desired to impart unto thee within this paradise. Perchance thine eyes may rejoice in beholding it, thine ears take delight in hearing that which is recited therein, thy soul be enthralled by recognizing it, thy heart illumined by comprehending it, and thy spirit gladdened by the fragrant breezes that waft therefrom. Haply thou mayest attain unto the pinnacle of divine grace and abide within the Ridvan of transcendent holiness. (Baha'u'llah, Gems of Divine Mysteries, p. 43)
Arise, and proclaim unto the entire creation the tidings that He Who is the All-Merciful hath directed His steps towards the Ridvan and entered it. Guide, then, the people unto the garden of delight which God hath made the Throne of His Paradise. We have chosen thee to be our most mighty Trumpet, whose blast is to signalize the resurrection of all mankind.
Say: This is the Paradise on whose foliage the wine of utterance hath imprinted the testimony: "He that was hidden from the eyes of men is revealed, girded with sovereignty and power!" This is the Paradise, the rustling of whose leaves proclaims: "O ye that inhabit the heavens and the earth! There hath appeared what hath never previously appeared. He Who, from everlasting, had concealed His Face from the sight of creation is now come." From the whispering breeze that wafteth amidst its branches there cometh the cry: "He Who is the sovereign Lord of all is made manifest. The Kingdom is God's," while from its streaming waters can be heard the murmur: "All eyes are gladdened, for He Whom none hath beheld, Whose secret no one hath discovered, hath lifted the veil of glory, and uncovered the countenance of Beauty." 32
Within this Paradise, and from the heights of its loftiest chambers, the Maids of Heaven have cried out and shouted: "Rejoice, ye dwellers of the realms above, for the fingers of Him Who is the Ancient of Days are ringing, in the name of the All-Glorious, the Most Great Bell, in the midmost heart of the heavens. (Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 30)
Unto Thee be praise, O Lord my God! I entreat Thee, by Thy signs that have encompassed the entire creation, and by the light of Thy countenance that hath illuminated all that are in heaven and on earth, and by Thy mercy that hath surpassed all created things, and by Thy grace that hath suffused the whole universe, to rend asunder the veils that shut me out from Thee, that I may hasten unto the Fountain-Head of Thy mighty inspiration, and to the Day-Spring of Thy Revelation and bountiful favors, and may be immersed beneath the ocean of Thy nearness and pleasure.
Suffer me not, O my Lord, to be deprived of the knowledge of Thee in Thy days, and divest me not of the robe of Thy guidance. Give me to drink of the river that is life indeed, whose waters have streamed forth from the Paradise (Ridvan) in which the throne of Thy Name, the All-Merciful, was established, that mine eyes may be opened, and my face be illumined, and my heart be assured, and my soul be enlightened, and my steps be made firm.
Thou art He Who from everlasting was, through the potency of His might, supreme over all things, and, through the operation of His will, was able to ordain all things. Nothing whatsoever, whether in Thy heaven or on Thy earth, can frustrate Thy purpose. Have mercy, then, upon me, O my Lord, 5 through Thy gracious providence and generosity, and incline mine ear to the sweet melodies of the birds that warble their praise of Thee, amidst the branches of the tree of Thy oneness.
Thou art the Great Giver, the Ever-Forgiving, the Most Compassionate. (Baha'u'llah, Prayers and Meditations by Baha'u'llah, p. 3)
In the Kitáb-i-Aqdas Bahá'u'lláh establishes the festivals of Ridvan (on the first, ninth and twelfth days of which work is to be suspended), the Declaration of the Báb, the Birthday of the Báb, the Birthday of Bahá'u'lláh, and Naw-Ruz. (Baha'u'llah, Synopsis and Codification of the Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 62)
Verily, all created things were immersed in the sea of purification when, on that first day of Ridvan, We shed upon the whole of creation the splendours of Our most excellent Names and Our most exalted Attributes. This, verily, is a token of My loving providence, which hath encompassed all the worlds. Consort ye then with the followers of all religions, and proclaim ye the Cause of your Lord, the Most Compassionate; this is the very crown of deeds, if ye be of them who understand. (Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 47)
This is a reference to the arrival of Bahá'u'lláh and His companions in the Najibiyyih Garden outside the city of Baghdad, subsequently referred to by the Bahá'ís as the Garden of Ridvan. This event, which took place thirty-one days after Naw-Ruz, in April 1863, signalized the commencement of the period during which Bahá'u'lláh declared His Mission to His companions. In a Tablet, He refers to His Declaration as "the Day of supreme felicity" and He describes the Garden of Ridvan as "the Spot from which He shed upon the whole of creation the splendours of His Name, the All-Merciful". Bahá'u'lláh spent twelve days in this Garden prior to departing for Istanbul, the place to which He had been banished. The Declaration of Bahá'u'lláh is celebrated annually by the twelve-day Ridvan Festival, described by Shoghi Effendi as "the holiest and most significant of all Bahá'í festivals" (see notes 138 and 140). (Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 212)
This passage establishes four great festivals of the Bahá'í year. The two designated by Bahá'u'lláh as "the two Most Great Festivals" are, first, the Festival of Ridvan, which commemorates Bahá'u'lláh's Declaration of His Prophetic Mission in the Garden of Ridvan in Baghdad during twelve days in April/May 1863 and is referred to by Him as "the King of Festivals" and, second, the Báb's Declaration, which occurred in May 1844 in Shiraz. The first, ninth and twelfth days of the Festival of Ridvan are Holy Days (Q and A 1), as is the day of the Declaration of the Báb. The "two other Festivals" are the anniversaries of the births of Bahá'u'lláh and the Báb. In the Muslim lunar calendar these fall on consecutive days, the birth of Bahá'u'lláh on the second day of the month of Muharram 1233 A.H. (12 November 1817), and the birth of the Bab on the first day of the same month 1235 A.H. (20 October 1819), respectively. They are thus referred to as the "Twin Birthdays" and Bahá'u'lláh states that these two days are accounted as one in the sight of God (Q and A 2). He states that, should they fall within the month of fasting, the command to fast shall not apply on those days (Q and A 36). Given that the Bahá'í calendar (see notes 26 and 147) is a solar calendar, it remains for the Universal House of Justice
to determine whether the Twin Holy Birthdays are to be celebrated on a solar or lunar basis. (Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 224)
In God We put Our trust, and to Him We cry for help, that haply there may flow from this pen that which shall quicken the souls of men, that they may all arise from their beds of heedlessness and hearken unto the rustling of the leaves of Paradise, from the tree which the hand of divine power hath, by the permission of God, planted in the Ridvan of the All-Glorious. Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Iqan, p. 19)
O my brother! Take thou the step of the spirit, so that, swift as the twinkling of an eye, thou mayest flash through the wilds of remoteness and bereavement, attain the Ridvan of everlasting reunion, and in one breath commune with the heavenly Spirits. For with human feet thou canst never hope to traverse these immeasurable distances, nor attain thy goal. Peace be upon him whom the light of truth guideth unto all truth, and who, in the name of God, standeth in the path of His Cause, upon the shore of true understanding. (Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Iqan, p. 43)
Great God! When the stream of utterance reached this stage, We beheld, and lo! the sweet savours of God were being wafted from the dayspring of Revelation, and the morning breeze was blowing out of the Sheba of the Eternal. Its tidings rejoiced anew the heart, and imparted immeasurable gladness to the soul. It made all things new, and brought unnumbered and inestimable gifts from the unknowable Friend. The robe of human praise can never hope to match Its noble stature, and Its shining figure the mantle of utterance can never fit. Without word It unfoldeth the inner mysteries, and without speech It revealeth the secrets of the divine sayings. It teacheth lamentation and moaning to the nightingales warbling upon the bough of remoteness and bereavement, instructeth them in the art of love's ways, and showeth them the secret of heart-surrender. To the 60 flowers of the Ridvan of heavenly reunion It revealeth the endearments of the impassioned lover, and unveileth the charm of the fair. Upon the anemones of the garden of love It bestoweth the mysteries of truth, and within the breasts of lovers It entrusteth the symbols of the innermost subtleties. At this hour, so liberal is the outpouring of Its grace that the holy Spirit itself is envious! It hath imparted to the drop the waves of the sea, and endowed the mote with the splendour of the sun. So great are the overflowings of Its bounty that the foulest beetle hath sought the perfume of the musk, and the bat the light of the sun. (Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Iqan, p. 58)
To this testifieth that which hath been witnessed in this wondrous and exalted Dispensation. Myriads of holy verses have descended from the heaven of might and grace, yet no one hath turned thereunto, nor ceased to cling to those words of men, not one letter of which they that have spoken them comprehend. For this reason the people have doubted incontestable truths, such as these, and caused themselves to be deprived of the Ridvan of 106 divine knowledge, and the eternal meads of celestial wisdom. (Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Iqan, p. 105)
Such is the binding force of the Word of God, which uniteth the hearts of them that have renounced all else but Him, who have believed in His signs, and quaffed from the Hand of glory the Kawthar of God's holy grace. Furthermore, how numerous are those peoples of divers beliefs, of conflicting creeds, and opposing temperaments, who, through the reviving fragrance of the Divine springtime, breathing from the Ridvan of God, have been arrayed with the new robe of 113 divine Unity, and have drunk from the cup of His singleness! (Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Iqan, p. 111)
Nay, were man to gaze with the eye of divine and spiritual discernment, he will readily recognize that nothing whatsoever can exist without the revelation of the splendour of God, the ideal King. Consider how all created things eloquently testify to the revelation of that inner Light within them. Behold how within all things the portals of the Ridvan of God are opened, that seekers may attain the cities of understanding and wisdom, and enter the gardens of knowledge and power. Within every garden they will behold the mystic bride of inner meaning enshrined within the chambers of utterance in the utmost grace and fullest adornment. (Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Iqan, p. 139)
Ponder this in thine heart, that the sweet gales of divine knowledge, blowing from the meads of mercy, may waft upon thee the fragrance of the Beloved's utterance, and cause thy soul to attain the Ridvan of understanding. As the wayward of every age have failed to fathom the deeper import of these weighty and pregnant utterances, and imagined the answer of the Prophets of God to be irrelevant to the questions they asked them, they therefore have attributed ignorance and folly to those Essences of knowledge and understanding. (Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Iqan, p. 149)
Inhale the fragrances of the Ridvan from His roses and be not of those who are deprived. Appreciate the bounty of God upon you and be not veiled therefrom - and, verily, We have sent Him forth in the temple of man. Thus praise ye the Lord, the Originator of whatsoever He willeth through His wise and inviolable Command!
Verily, those who withhold themselves from the shelter of the Branch are indeed lost in the wilderness of perplexity; and are consumed by the heat of self-desire, and are of those who perish.
Hasten, O people, unto the shelter of God, in order that He may protect you from the heat of the Day whereon none shall find for himself any refuge or shelter except beneath the shelter of His Name, the clement, the forgiving! Clothe yourselves, O people, with the garment of assurance, in order that He may protect you from the dart of doubts and superstitions, and that ye may be of those who are assured in those days wherein none shall ever be assured and none shall be firmly established in the Cause, except by severing himself from all that is possessed by the people and turning unto the holy and radiant Outlook. (Baha'u'llah, The Tablet of the Branch - from BWF)
O my brother, take the step of the soul, that thou mayest in a moment traverse the distant valleys of separation and remoteness, enter the Ridvan of union and nearness and in a breath attain to the divine Souls. These stages can never be travelled nor the destination reached by the step of the body. Peace be upon these who follow the truth in truth and stand in the path of command upon the shore of knowledge in the name of God. (Compilations, Baha'i Scriptures, p. 15)
Nay, if the spiritual and divine eye of man be opened, he will see that nothing exists without the appearance of the splendor of that Ideal King. For thou dost perceive that all contingent and created things express the manifestation and emanation of that Ideal Light, and dost behold the doors of the divine Ridvan opened in all things for seekers to enter the cities of intelligence and wisdom, and attained ones to pass into the gardens of knowledge and power. In every garden the bride of significances is seen seated in the chambers of words, with full adornment and grace. (Compilations, Baha'i Scriptures, p. 36)
To resume: It is evident and certain that all the Prophets are the Temples of the Command of God, who have appeared in different garments, and if thou lookest with an attentive eye thou wilt find all of them dwelling in one Ridvan, soaring in one sky, seated upon one carpet, speaking one speech and enjoining one Command. (Compilations, Baha'i Scriptures, p. 41)
For instance, consider the substance copper: which if it is protected in its own mine from super-abundance of dryness, will in seventy years attain to the state of gold — although some consider copper itself to be gold, which through super-abundance of dryness, hath become disordered and hath not reached its own state.
[1 Seventy years is equivalent to "three score years and ten," the life of man. This reference to copper and gold is symbolic, copper being human reason, while gold is spiritual illumination.]
To be brief: a perfect elixir, however, will cause the substance copper to attain the state of gold in an instant, and to traverse the seventy-year stages in a moment. Could it be said that this gold is copper or that it hath not attained the condition of gold, while the test is at hand to differentiate and distinguish the qualities of gold from those of copper?
Likewise these would have traversed the earth-world in an instant through the divine Elixir, entered the worlds of sanctity, and in one step reached the divine placeless from the limited world of place. An effort is needed that thou mayest attain this Elixir which in an instant causes the west of ignorance to reach the east of knowledge, makes the gloominess of the dark night attain to the brilliant morning, guides the remote one in the wilderness of doubts to the fountain of nearness and assurance, and directs the mortal temples to the Ridvan of immortality. Now if it be true to declare this gold copper, it will also be true and justifiable to declare these servants to be the same as before they had attained to the Faith. (Compilations, Baha’i Scriptures, p. 43)
Thus have I been commanded to convey to you the Message of God, your Creator; and I have delivered to you that of which I was commanded. Whereupon, thereto testifieth God, then His Angels, then His Messengers, and then His Holy Servants.
Inhale the fragrances of the Ridvan from His Roses and be not of those who are deprived. Appreciate the Bounty of God upon you and be not veiled therefrom — and, verily, We have sent Him forth in the temple of man. Thus praise ye the Lord, the Originator of whatsoever He willeth through His wise and inviolable Command! (Compilations, Baha’i Scriptures, p. 256)
Ahmad in the Presence of Bahá’u’lláh
It was a breathtaking experience for a man like Ahmad who all through his life had been searching for this immense spiritual Fountainhead. When for the first time he glanced at the youthful countenance of Bahá’u’lláh – a Face full of charm, freshness of colour and penetrating powers, he was overwhelmed. He came to his senses only through the mirthful remark of the Ancient Beauty, “He becomes a Bábí and then hides in the tower!”
Bahá’u’lláh allowed him to remain in Baghdad and have his residence very close to the House. Ahmad immediately installed his small cloth-making machine and was the happiest man in the world. What else does one expect? To live at the time of the Supreme Manifestation of God, adore Him, be loved by Him and be so close to Him in heart and soul and even in residence.
When once asked about the events of the years he spent in such close proximity to Bahá’u’lláh, with tears in his eyes he said, “How innumerable, how great and how immensely mighty were the events of those years. Our nights were filled with memorable episodes. Joyful and at times sorrowful were our experiences, yet beyond the power of anyone to describe. For example, one day as the Blessed Beauty was walking, a certain government officer approached Him and reported that one of His followers had been killed and his body thrown on the river bank. The Tongue of Power and Might replied, “No one has killed him. Through seventy thousand veils of light We showed him the glory of God to an extent smaller than a needle’s eye; therefore, he could no more bear the burden of his life and has offered himself as a sacrifice.”
When the caliph’s decree was conveyed to Bahá’u’lláh and He had to leave Baghdad for Istanbul, He left the town on the thirty-second day after Naw-Ruz for the Ridvan Garden. On that same day the river overflowed and only on the ninth day was it possible for His family to join Him in the Garden. The river then overflowed a second time, and on the twelfth day it subsided and all went to Him. Ahmad begged Bahá’u’lláh to be amongst His companions in exile, but Bahá’u’lláh did not accede to this request. He chose a few people and instructed the others to stay to teach and protect the Cause emphasizing that this would be better for the Faith of God. At the time of His departure, those who were left behind stood in a row and all were so overcome with sorrow that they burst into tears. Bahá’u’lláh again approached them and consoled them saying: “It is better for the Cause. Some of these people who accompany me are liable to do mischief; therefore I am taking them with Myself.” One of the friends could scarcely control his anguish and sorrow. He addressed the crowd reciting this poem of Sa’di:
“Let us all rise to weep like unto the clouds of the Spring Season. On the day when lovers are separated from their Beloved, one can even hear the lamentations of stones.”
Bahá’u’lláh then said, “Verily this was said for this day.” Then He mounted His horse and one of the friends placed a sack of coins in front of the saddle and Bahá’u’lláh started to distribute the coins to the bewailing poor who were standing by. When they ran to Him and pushed one another, He plunged His hand in the sack and poured all the coins out saying, “Gather them yourselves!”
Ahmad saw his Beloved disappear from his sight headed for an unknown destination. Little did he know that He was like unto the sun rising towards the zenith of might and power. Sad at heart and utterly distressed in soul, he returned to Baghdad, which to him seemed devoid of any attraction. He tried to make himself happy by gathering the friends and encouraging them to disperse and teach the Faith which had just been declared. Though actively serving the Cause, he was not happy. All that could keep him happy was nearness to his Beloved. (Faizi, Abu’l-Qasim 1969. A Flame of Fire). See Abu’l-Qasim Faizi’s A Flame of Fire digitized and hosted by the Baha’i Library.
The Tablet is Revealed
After a few years he once again left his home and work and set out on foot towards Adrianople, the city of his love and and desire.
When he reached Istanbul he received a Tablet from Bahá’u’lláh, now well known as “The Tablet of Ahmad.” He describes receipt of this Tablet as follows: “I received the Tablet of ‘The Nightingale of Paradise’ and reading it again and again, I found out that my Beloved desired me to go and teach His Cause. Therefore I preferred obedience to visiting Him.”
He was specially commissioned to travel through Persia, find the old Bábí families and convey to them the new message of the Lord. Hence such glorious reference to the Báb in this Tablet. The task was arduous beyond description and therefore such exhortations as, “Be thou a flame of fire to My enemies and a river of life eternal to My loved ones and be not of those who doubt.” The path to be pursued by him would be full of blood, thorns and hardships to be borne, but followed by such soul-stirring promises of victory as “And if thou art overtaken by affliction in My path, or degradation for My sake, be not thou troubled thereby.”
With this divine amulet in his possession – a small piece of paper which had been “invested by Bahá’u’lláh with a special potency and significance,” and clad in the simple garments of a mendicant, Ahmad made his way back to Persia. He entered the country from the district where the Báb had been imprisoned and martyred and crossed this region like unto the breeze of life. Many of the Bábís were thus enabled to see the sun then shining from Adrianople and even many of the Moslems embraced the Faith wholeheartedly. (Abu’l-Qasim Faizi, A Flame of Fire)
“Glad Tidings of the Nearness of God”
Ahmad became the embodiment of his own Tablet. Such persistence, undaunted spirit, tenacity and steadfastness as his are hardly to be found any annals of the Cause. When he found a contact, although he suffered afflictions and degradations, he would return again and again to finish that which had been left half discussed . . . . See Ocean (Abu’l-Qasim Faizi, A Flame of Fire)
See the complete digitized version “A Flame of Fire” Conqueror of Hearts which was scanned from the third printing (1973 23 pages), typed by Shirley Macias; spellchecked Robert Stauffer, formatted for the web by Jonah Winters (10/01) and is now hosted on Baha’i Library site.
The expressions of love and devotion for Bahá’u’lláh were not confined to the Bábí community in Iraq. The love and admiration of the people for Bahá’u’lláh was fully demonstrated on the day of His departure from His ‘Most Great House’ in Baghdad. Then His majesty and greatness were evident to both friend and foe. The news of His forthcoming departure for Constantinople had spread rapidly among the inhabitants of Baghdad and its neighbouring towns, and large numbers wished to attain His presence and pay their last tributes to Him. But soon it became apparent that His house was too small for the purpose. Arrangements were made for Bahá’u’lláh to proceed to the garden-park of Najibiyyih. This beautiful garden, designated by His followers as the Garden of Ridvan (Paradise), was situated on the outskirts of Baghdad, across the river from His house.
Thirty-one days after Naw-Ruz, on 22 April 1863,[*] in the afternoon, Bahá’u’lláh moved to this garden, where He remained for twelve days. On the first day He declared His mission to His companions.[**] These twelve days are celebrated by the Bahá’ís as the Festival of Ridvan.
[* Thirty-one days after Naw-Ruz usually falls on 21 April. Occasionally, as in the year 1863, when the vernal equinox takes place after sunset, Naw-Ruz is celebrated on 22 March.]
[** This is stated by 'Abdu'l-Bahá in a talk given at Bahji on 29 April 1916.]
The departure of Bahá’u’lláh from His house witnessed a commotion the like of which Baghdad had rarely seen. People of all walks of life, men and women, rich and poor, young and old, men of learning and culture, princes, government officials, tradesmen and workers, and above all His companions, thronged the approaches to His house and crowded the streets and rooftops situated along His route to the river. They were weeping and lamenting the departure of One who, for a decade, had imparted to them the warmth of His love and the radiance of His spirit, who had been a refuge and guide for them all.
When Bahá’u’lláh appeared in the courtyard of His house, His companions, grief-stricken and disconsolate, prostrated themselves at His feet. For some time He stood there, amid the weeping and lamentations of His loved ones, speaking words of comfort and promising to receive each of them later in the garden. In a Tablet Bahá’u’lláh mentions that when He had walked some way towards the gate, amid the crowds, a child[***] of only a few years ran forward and, clinging to His robes, wept aloud, begging Him in his tender young voice not to leave. In such an atmosphere, where emotions had been so deeply stirred, this action on the part of a small child moved the hearts and brought further grief to everyone. [*** He was Aqa 'Ali, the son of Haji Mirza Kamalu'd-Din-Naraqi.]
Outside the house, the lamentation and weeping of those who did not confess to be His followers were no less spectacular and heartrending. Everyone in the crowded street sought to approach Him. Some prostrated themselves at His feet, others waited to hear a few words and yet others were content with a touch of His hands or a glance at His face. A Persian lady of noble birth, who was not herself a believer, pushed her way into the crowd and with a gesture of sacrifice threw her child at the feet of Bahá’u’lláh. These demonstrations continued all the way to the riverbank.
Before crossing the river, Bahá’u’lláh addressed His companions who had gathered around Him, saying:
O My companions, I entrust to your keeping this city of Baghdad, in the state ye now behold it, when from the eyes of friends and strangers alike, crowding its housetops, its streets and markets, tears like the rain of spring are flowing down, and I depart. With you it now rests to watch lest your deeds and conduct dim the flame of love that gloweth within the breasts of its inhabitants. [80 Bahá'u'lláh, quoted in ibid. p. 149. (God Passes By.)]
Bahá’u’lláh was then ferried across the river, accompanied by three of His sons: ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Mirza Mihdi (the Purest Branch) and Muhammad-’Ali, who were 18, 14 and 10 years of age, respectively. With them also was His amanuensis, Mirza Aqa Jan. The identity of others who may have accompanied Him, of those in the garden who pitched His tent and made preparations for His arrival, or of those who might have followed Him on that day, is not clearly known.
The call to afternoon prayer was raised from the mosque and the words ‘Allah’u’Akbar’ (God is the Greatest), chanted by the muezzin,[*] reverberated through the garden as the King of Glory entered it. There, Bahá’u’lláh appeared in the utmost joy, walking majestically in its flower-lined avenues and among its trees. The fragrance of the roses and the singing of the nightingales created an atmosphere of beauty and enchantment.
[*The one who calls to prayer.]
Bahá’u’lláh’s companions had, for some time, known the declaration of His station to be imminent. This realization came to them not only as a result of many remarks and allusions made by Him during the last few months of His sojourn in Baghdad but also through a noticeable change in His demeanour. Another sign which unmistakably pointed to this approaching hour was His adoption, on the day of His departure from His house in Baghdad, of a different type of headdress known as taj. (tall felt hat), which He wore throughout His ministry. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has described how, upon His arrival in the garden, Bahá’u’lláh declared His station to those of His companions who were present and announced with great joy the inauguration of the Festival of Ridvan. Sadness and grief vanished and the believers were filled with delight. Although Bahá’u’lláh was being exiled to far-off lands and knew the sufferings and tribulations which were in store for Him and His followers, yet through this historic declaration He changed all sorrow into blissful joy and spent the most delightful time of His ministry in the Garden of Ridvan. Indeed, in one of His Tablets He referred to the first day of Ridvan as the ‘Day of supreme felicity’ and called on His followers to ‘rejoice with exceeding gladness’ in remembrance of that day.
[81 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Risaliy-i-Ayyam-i-Tis'ah, p. 330.]
[82 Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings, p. 35.]
(Adib Taherzadeh, The Child of the Covenant, p. 69)