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Hippolyte Dreyfus-Barney, the first Baha’i in France met ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in [[Marseille]] in 1911 when the Master first reached Europe. Dreyfus-Barney brought ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to Thonon-les-Bains, on the Lake of Geneva. This is an excerpt from a compilation by Annamarie Honnold entitled Vignettes from the Life of Abdu’l-Bahá published by George Ronald in 1982.

In 1911 the Master spent a few quiet days in the French Alps, presumably to rest, before continuing to London. Here took place a remarkable encounter which illustrates the universality of His love, even towards those whose hearts ran hostile to Him and to His Father’s Cause. Juliet Thompson tells us the following about this occasion which she herself witnessed: “Monstrously sinned against, too great was He to claim the right to forgive. In His almost off-hand brushing aside of a cruelty, in the ineffable sweetness with which He ignored it, it was as though He said: Forgiveness belongs only to God.

‘An example of this was His memorable meeting with the royal prince, Zillah Sultan, brother of the Shah of Persia, Muhammad Ali Shah. Not alone Abdu’l-Baha, but a great number of His followers, band after band of Baha’i martyrs, had suffered worse than death at the hands of these two princes. When the downfall of the Shah, with that of the Sultan of Turkey, set Abdu’l-Baha at liberty, Abdu’l-Baha, beginning His journey through Europe, went first to Thonon-les-Bains, on the Lake of Geneva. The exiled Shah was then somewhere in Europe; Zillah-Sultan, also in exile with his two sons, had fled to Geneva. Thus Abdu’l-Baha, the exonerated and free, and Zillah Sultan, the fugitive, were almost within a stone’s throw of each other.

‘In the suite of Abdu’l-Baha was a distinguished European who had visited Persia and there met Zillah Sultan. One day when the European was standing on the balustraded terrace of the hotel in Thonon and Abdu’l-Baha was pacing to and fro at a little distance, Zillah Sultan approached the terrace. Abdu’l-Baha was wearing, as always, the turban, the long white belted robe and long aba of Persia. His hair, according to the ancient custom of the Persian nobility, flowed to His shoulders. Zillah Sultan, after greeting the European, immediately asked:

‘“Who is that Persian nobleman?”’


‘“Take me to Him.”

‘In describing the scene later, the European said: “If you could have heard the wretch mumbling his miserable excuses!” But Abdu’l-Baha took the prince in His arms. ”All that is of the past,” He answered, “Never think of it again. Send your two sons to see me. I want to meet your sons.”

‘They came, one at a time. Each spent a day with the Master. The first, though an immature boy, nevertheless showed Him great deference. The second, older and more sensitive, left the room of Abdu’l-Baha, where he had been received alone, weeping uncontrollably. “If only I could be born again,” he said, “into any other family than mine.”

‘For not only had many Baha’is been martyred during his uncle’s reign (upwards of a hundred by his father’s instigation), and the life of Abdu’l-Baha threatened again and again, but his grandfather, Nasiri’d-Din Shah, had ordered the execution of the Bab, as well as the torture and death of thousands of Babis.

‘The young prince was “born again” – a Baha’i.’ Honnold. 1982. Vignettes from the Life of Abdu’l-Bahá page 51-2

Forgiving Others

“Do not look at the shortcomings of anybody; see with the sight of forgiveness. The imperfect eye beholds imperfections. The eye that covers faults looks toward the Creator of souls.”(Abdu’l-Baha, “5 May 1912, Talk at Children’s Meeting, Hotel Plaza, Chicago, Illinois, Notes by Marzieh MossPromulgation of Universal Peace, p. 93)

Prayer for Families

“Glory be unto Thee, O Lord my God! I beg Thee to forgive me and those who support Thy Faith. Verily, Thou art the sovereign Lord, the Forgiver, the Most Generous. O my God! Enable such servants of Thine as are deprived of knowledge to be admitted into Thy Cause; for once they learn of Thee, they bear witness to the truth of the Day of Judgment and do not dispute the revelations of Thy bounty. Send down upon them the tokens of Thy grace, and grant them, wherever they reside, a liberal share of that which Thou hast ordained for the pious among Thy servants. Thou art in truth the Supreme Ruler, the All-Bounteous, the Most Benevolent.

O my God! Let the outpourings of Thy bounty and blessings descend upon homes whose inmates have embraced Thy Faith, as a token of Thy grace and as a mark of loving-kindness from Thy presence. Verily, unsurpassed art Thou in granting forgiveness. Should Thy bounty be withheld from anyone, how could he be reckoned among the followers of the Faith in Thy Day?

Bless me, O my God, and those who will believe in Thy signs on the appointed Day, and such as cherish my love in their hearts—a love which Thou dost instill into them. Verily, Thou art the Lord of righteousness, the Most Exalted.” – The Báb

“If some one commits an error and wrong towards you, you must instantly forgive him.”

“You must manifest complete love and affection towards all mankind. Do not exalt yourselves above others but consider all as your equals, recognizing them as the servants of one God. Know that God is compassionate towards all, therefore love all from the depths of your hearts, prefer all religionists to yourselves, be filled with love for every race and be kind cowards the people of all nationalities. Never speak disparagingly of others but praise without distinction. Pollute not your tongues by speaking evil of another. Recognize your enemies as your friends and consider those who wish you evil as the wishers of good. You must not see evil as evil and then compromise with your opinion, for to treat in a smooth, kindly way one whom you consider evil or an enemy is hypocrisy and this is not worthy nor allowable. No! You must consider your enemies as your friends, look upon your evil-wishers as your well-wishers and treat them accordingly. Act in such a way that your heart may be free from hatred. Let not your heart be offended with any one. If some one commits an error and wrong towards you, you must instantly forgive him. Do not complain of others. Refrain from reprimanding them and if you wish to give admonition or advice let it be offered in such a way that it will not burden the heart of the hearer. Turn all your thoughts towards bringing joy to hearts. Beware! Beware! Lest ye offend any heart. Assist the world of humanity as much as possible. Be the source of consolation to every sad one, assist every weak one, be helpful to every indigent one, be the cause of glorification to every lowly one and shelter those who are overshadowed with fear. In brief, let each of you be as a lamp shining forth with the virtues of the world of humanity. Be trustworthy, sincere, affectionate and replete with chastity. Be illumined, be spiritual, be divine, be glorious, be quickened of God. Be a Bahá’í.”[41]” Portals to Freedom

“No one knows his own end.”

“No one knows his own end; therefore, we should forgive others and not feel superior towards them.”

Attitudes that characterize personal relationships to other people such as forgiveness, differs from those of LSA, NSA, UHJ

“… it should be realized that there is a distinction drawn in the Faith between the attitudes which should characterize individuals in their relationship to other people, namely, loving forgiveness, forbearance, and concern with one’s own sins, not the sins of others, and those attitudes which should be shown by the Spiritual Assemblies, whose duty is to administer the law of God with justice.” Universal House of Justice, Messages from the Universal House of Justice, p. 110

“The greatest need it seems everywhere inside the Cause is to impress upon the friends the need for love among them. There is a tendency to mix up the functions of the Administration and try to apply it in individual relationships, which is abortive, because the Assembly is a nascent House of Justice and is supposed to administer, according to the Teachings, the affairs of the community. But individuals toward each other are governed by love, unity, forgiveness and a sin-covering eye. Once the friends grasp this they will get along much better, but they keep playing Spiritual Assembly to each other and expect the Assembly to behave like an individual.”Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, LOG, p. 77

Instantly forgive others

“If some one commits an error and wrong toward you, you must instantly forgive him.” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, PUP, 2nd ed., p. 453

“If a person commit a crime* against you, you have not the right to forgive him.” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 154
* crime a: an act … that is forbidden … by a public law of a sovereign state and that makes the offender liable to punishment by that law in a proceeding brought against him by the state … an offense against public law (as a misdemeanour, felony …) providing a penalty … b: an offense against the social order … that is dealt with by community action rather than by an individual…. Merriam-Webster unabridged, 1971

“If the community and the inheritors of the murdered one were to forgive and return good for evil, the cruel would be continually ill-treating others, and assassinations would continually occur. Vicious people, like wolves, would destroy the sheep of God…. So if, at present, the law of pardon were practiced in all countries, in a short time the world would be disordered, and the foundations of human life would crumble. For example, if the governments of Europe had not withstood the notorious Attila, he would not have left a single living man.” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, SAQ, pp. 269-270

Justice and forgiveness

“The canopy of existence resteth upon the pole of justice, and not of forgiveness, and the life of mankind dependeth on justice and not on forgiveness.” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, quoted in ADJ, p. 28

“… I have pledged Myself not to forgive any man’s injustice.” Bahá’u’lláh, Hidden Words, Persian #64

On Being Forgiven

Pray to be forgiven, O people, for having failed in your duty towards God…and be not of the foolish. (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings, p. 105)

…O my Lord…I have made haste to attain unto the ocean of Thy forgiveness, and have sought shelter beneath the shadow of Thy most gracious favor. (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings, p. 114)

“And shouldst thou recognize thy powerlessness, do thou rein in thy passions, and return unto thy Lord, that perchance He may forgive thee thy sins . . .” (Baha’u’llah: Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, page 83)

“I implore Thee by the blood of Thy true lovers who were so enraptured by Thy sweet utterance that they hastened unto the Pinnacle of Glory, the site of the most glorious martyrdom, and I beseech Thee by the mysteries which lie enshrined in Thy knowledge and by the pearls that are treasured in the ocean of Thy bounty to grant forgiveness unto me and unto my father and my mother. Of those who show forth mercy, Thou art in truth the Most Merciful. No God is there but Thee, the Ever-Forgiving, the All-Bountiful.” (Baha’u’llah: Tablets of Baha’u’llah, pages 24-25)

“Alas! Alas! My sins have prevented me from approaching the Court of Thy holiness and my trespasses have caused me to stray far from the Tabernacle of Thy majesty. I have committed that which Thou didst forbid me to do and have put away what Thou didst order me to observe. I pray Thee by Him Who is the sovereign Lord of Names to write down for me with the Pen of Thy bounty that which will enable me to draw nigh unto Thee and will purge me from my trespasses which have intervened between me and Thy forgiveness and Thy pardon. Verily, Thou art the Potent, the Bountiful. No God is there but Thee, the Mighty, the Gracious.” (Baha’u’llah: Tablets of Baha’u’llah, page 25)

“I am but a poor creature, O my Lord; I have clung to the hem of Thy riches. I am sore sick; I have held fast the cord of Thy healing. Deliver me from the ills that have encircled me, and wash me thoroughly with the waters of Thy graciousness and mercy, and attire me with the raiment of wholesomeness, through Thy forgiveness and bounty. Fix, then, mine eyes upon Thee, and rid me of all attachment to aught else except Thyself. Aid me to do what Thou desirest, and to fulfill what Thou pleasest.” (Baha’u’llah: Prayers and Meditations, page 22)

“O Thou forgiving Lord! Thou art the shelter of all these Thy servants. Thou knowest the secrets and art aware of all things. We are all helpless, and Thou art the Mighty, the Omnipotent. We are all sinners, and Thou art the Forgiver of sins, the Merciful, the Compassionate. O Lord! Look not at our shortcomings. Deal with us according to Thy grace and bounty. Our shortcomings are many, but the ocean of Thy forgiveness is boundless. Our weakness is grievous, but the evidences of Thine aid and assistance are clear. Therefore, confirm and strengthen us. Enable us to do that which is worthy of Thy holy Threshold. Illumine our hearts, grant us discerning eyes and attentive ears. Resuscitate the dead and heal the sick. Bestow wealth upon the poor and give peace and security to the fearful. Accept us in Thy kingdom and illumine us with the light of guidance. Thou art the Powerful and the Omnipotent. Thou art the Generous. Thou art the Clement. Thou art the Kind.” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

“I beg Thy forgiveness, O my God, and implore pardon after the manner Thou wishest Thy servants to direct themselves to Thee. I beg of Thee to wash away our sins as befitteth Thy Lordship, and to forgive me, my parents, and those who in Thy estimation have entered the abode of Thy love in a manner which is worthy of Thy transcendent sovereignty and well beseemeth the glory of Thy celestial power. O my God! Thou hast inspired my soul to offer its supplication to Thee, and but for Thee, I would not call upon Thee. Lauded and glorified art Thou; I yield Thee praise inasmuch as Thou didst reveal Thyself unto me, and I beg Thee to forgive me, since I have fallen short in my duty to know Thee and have failed to walk in the path of Thy love.” – The Báb

“O Lord! Verily we are weak, but Thou art mighty. Verily, we are poor, but Thou art rich, We are the seekers, and Thou art the One sought. O Lord! Have compassion upon us to forgive us; bestow upon us such capacity and the receptiveness that we may be worthy of Thy favours and become attracted to Thy kingdom, that we may drink deep of the water of life, may be enkindled by the fire of Thy love, and be resuscitated through the breaths of the Holy Spirit in this radiant century.” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

“. . if you seek immunity from the sway of the forces of the contingent world, hang the Most Great Name in your dwelling, wear the ring of the Most Great Name on your finger, place the picture of ‘Abdu’l-Baha in your home and always recite the prayers that I have written; then you will behold the marvellous effect they produce. Those so-called forces will prove but illusions and will be wiped out and exterminated.” Lights of Guidance

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