Skip to content

First Day of Ridván

For official Baha’i sites see Baha’i International Community (BIC) www.bahaullah.com, www.bahai.org, The Bahá’í Reference Library

Melanie's Rose for Ridvan CC

Melanie’s Rose for Ridvan CC

In 1863 on the First Day of Ridván Baha’ullah announced his claim to prophethood and his departure from Baghdad, then a part of the Ottoman Empire – the beginning of 40 years of exile for Him, His family and a small group of followers, from His native land, Persia.

Shoghi Effendi began the chapter entitled “The Declaration of Bahá’u’lláh’s Mission and His Journey to Constantinople” in God Passes By Pages 151-55with these words.

The arrival of Bahá’u’lláh in the Najíbíyyih Garden, subsequently designated by His followers the Garden of Ridván, signalizes the commencement of what has come to be recognized as the holiest and most significant of all Bahá’í festivals, the festival commemorating the Declaration of His Mission to His companions. So momentous a Declaration may well be regarded both as the logical consummation of that revolutionizing process which was initiated by Himself upon His return from Sulaymáníyyih, and as a prelude to the final proclamation of that same Mission to the world and its rulers from Adrianople.

In the chapter entitled “The Declaration of Bahá’u’lláh in Adib Taherzadeh’s 1976 publication entitled (1976). The Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh, Taherzadeh described in detail the historical events surrounding the Festival of Ridvan.

In 1863 Najíb Páshá, one of the notables of the city of Baghdád placed his garden-park, Najíbíyyih Garden, at the disposal of Bahá’u’lláh and His followers. The Najíbíyyih Garden was situated on the outskirts of Baghdád, across the river from the house Bahá’u’lláh had occupied.(Taherzadeh 1976:259)

Before crossing the river on the First Day of Ridvan, Bahá’u’lláh addressed His companions who had gathered around Him,

O My companions, I entrust to your keeping this city of Baghdád, 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.(cited in Shoghi Effendi. God Passes By page 149).

Bahá’u’lláh was “ferried across the river with three of His sons: ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Mírzá Mihdí (the Purest Branch) and Muhammad-‘Alí, who were eighteen, fourteen and ten years of age, respectively. With them also was His amanuensis, Mírzá Áqá Ján.”(Taherzadeh 1976:261)

“‘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 Ridván.”(Taherzadeh 1976:262)

Taherzadeh continued(Taherzadeh 1976:277),

The Declaration of Bahá’u’lláh in the Garden of Ridván may be regarded as the climax of ten years of His Revelation and the consummation of the first phase of His ministry. On that day the Hand of Omnipotence removed a ‘myriad veils of light’ from His countenance, vouchsafing to men a glimpse of His power and glory, and opening before them a new chapter in their life on this planet. Bahá’u’lláh has stated that on that day ‘the breezes of forgiveness were wafted over the entire creation’, and ‘all created things were immersed in the sea of purification’.(Taherzadeh 1976:277),

In the Tablet just quoted (pp. 274-5) Bahá’u’lláh extols the glories of the Festival of Ridván and describes its significance in these terms:

Verily, We have caused every soul to expire by virtue of Our irresistible and all-subduing sovereignty. We have, then, called into being a new creation, as a token of Our grace unto men. I am, verily, the All-Bountiful, the Ancient of Days.

In one of His prayers revealed in Adrianople, Bahá’u’lláh refers to this new creation in these words:

How great is Thy power! How exalted Thy sovereignty! How lofty Thy might! How excellent Thy majesty! How supreme is Thy grandeur–a grandeur which He Who is Thy Manifestation hath made known and wherewith Thou hast invested Him as a sign of Thy generosity and bountiful favour. I bear witness, O my God, that through Him Thy most resplendent signs have been uncovered, and Thy mercy hath encompassed the entire creation. But for Him, how could the Celestial Dove have uttered its songs or the Heavenly Nightingale, according to the decree of God, have warbled its melody?

I testify that no sooner had the First Word proceeded, through the potency of Thy will and purpose, out of His mouth, and the First Call gone forth from His lips than the whole creation was revolutionized, and all that are in the heavens and all that are on earth were stirred to the depths. Through that Word the realities of all created things were shaken, were divided, separated, scattered, combined and reunited, disclosing, in both the contingent world and the heavenly kingdom, entities of a new creation, and revealing, in the unseen realms, the signs and tokens of Thy unity and oneness.

Shoghi Effendi in his chapter on “The Declaration of Bahá’u’lláh’s Mission and His Journey to Constantinople” in God Passes By Pages 151-55described the significance of the First Day of Ridvan.

As to the significance of that Declaration let Bahá’u’lláh Himself reveal to us its import. Acclaiming that historic occasion as the “Most Great Festival,” the “King of Festivals,” the “Festival of God,”

He has, in His Kitáb-i-Aqdas, characterized it as the Day whereon “all created things were immersed in the sea of purification,” whilst in one of His specific Tablets, He has referred to it as the Day whereon “the breezes of forgiveness were wafted over the entire creation.” “Rejoice, with exceeding gladness, O people of Bahá!”, He, in another Tablet, has written, “as ye call to remembrance the Day of supreme felicity, the Day whereon the Tongue of the Ancient of Days hath spoken, as He departed from His House proceeding to the Spot from which He shed upon the whole of creation the splendors of His Name, the All-Merciful… Were We to reveal the hidden secrets of that Day, all that dwell on earth and in the heavens would swoon away and die, except such as will be preserved by God, the Almighty, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise. Such is the inebriating effect of the words of God upon the Revealer of His undoubted proofs that His pen can move no longer.” And again: “The Divine Springtime is come, O Most Exalted Pen, for the Festival of the All-Merciful is fast approaching…. The Day-Star of Blissfulness shineth above the horizon of Our Name, the Blissful, inasmuch as the Kingdom of the Name of God hath been adorned with the ornament of the Name of Thy Lord, the Creator of the heavens…. Take heed lest anything deter Thee from extolling the greatness of this Day–the Day whereon the Finger of Majesty and Power hath opened the seal of the Wine of Reunion, and called all who are in the heavens and all who are on earth…. This is the Day whereon the unseen world crieth out: `Great is thy blessedness, O earth, for thou hast been made the footstool of thy God, and been chosen as the seat of His mighty throne’ …Say … He it is Who hath laid bare before you the hidden and treasured Gem, were ye to seek it. He it is who is the One Beloved of all things, whether of the past or of the future.” And yet again: “Arise, and proclaim unto the entire creation the tidings that He who is the All-Merciful hath directed His steps towards the Ridván and entered it. Guide, then, the people unto the Garden of Delight which God hath made the Throne of His Paradise… 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. The hands of bounty have borne round the cups of everlasting life. Approach, and quaff your fill.'” And finally: “Forget the world of creation, O Pen, and turn Thou towards the face of Thy Lord, the Lord of all names. Adorn, then, the world with the ornament of the favors of Thy Lord, the King of everlasting days. For We perceive the fragrance of the Day whereon He Who is the Desire of all nations hath shed upon the kingdoms of the unseen and of the seen the splendors of the light of His most excellent names, and enveloped them with the radiance of the luminaries of His most gracious favors, favors which none can reckon except Him Who is the Omnipotent Protector of the entire creation.” (Shoghi Effendi God Passes By pages 154-5)

Bahá’u’lláh described a vision that He had in the Ridván Garden:

“One day of days We repaired unto Our Green Island. Upon Our arrival, We beheld its streams flowing, and its trees luxuriant, and the sunlight playing in their midst. Turning Our face to the right, We beheld what the pen is powerless to describe; nor can it set forth that which the eye of the Lord of Mankind witnessed in that most sanctified, that most sublime, that blest, and most exalted Spot. Turning, then, to the left We gazed on one of the Beauties of the Most Sublime Paradise, standing on a pillar of light, and calling aloud saying: ‘O inmates of earth and heaven! Behold ye My beauty, and My radiance, and My revelation, and My effulgence. By God, the True One! I am Trustworthiness and the revelation thereof, and the beauty thereof. I will recompense whosoever will cleave unto Me, and recognize My rank and station, and hold fast unto My hem. I am the most great ornament of the people of Baha, and the vesture of glory unto all who are in the kingdom of creation. I am the supreme instrument for the prosperity of the world, and the horizon of assurance unto all beings.’ Thus have We sent down for thee that which will draw men nigh unto the Lord of creation (Bahá’u’lláh. Epistle to the Son of the Wolf 1892).”

“The twelve day period commemorating Bahá’u’lláh’s announcement of his claim to prophethood and his departure from Baghdad in 1863, observed from sunset 20 April to sunset, 2 May. The first, ninth and twelfth days of Ridvan are major Bahá’í holy days on which work should be suspended. Bahá’í elections are normally held during Ridvan. The name derives from the Najibiyyih Garden in Baghdad where Bahá’u’lláh stayed during this period and to which he gave the name Ridvan (Paradise) (Walbridge 1995).”

The Ridván Garden that we visit today, was the garden of Na’mayn, a small island, situated in the middle of a river to the east of ‘Akká. At first in 1875, it was rented by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and prepared for Bahá’u’lláh’s use. Some of the benches, including the one used by Bahá’u’lláh, had water flowing just below them.

“…. “When Bahá’u’lláh came to the Ridván Garden, He would often sit under the mulberry tree, with the water flowing by, and exult in the beauty of nature.” “For Bahá’u’lláh, the garden and the small building at the site provided a place of rest from the daily cares of His household and the pilgrims that thronged to see Him. The word “Ridván” means “Paradise.”

“During one period, Bahá’u’lláh stayed at the Ridván Garden for nine days, meeting with the pilgrim groups that came out each day from ‘Akká to see Him.” In 1881 the Ridván Garden outside ‘Akká was purchased for Bahá’u’lláh and He visited this garden many times during the latter part of His life. The gardens have been maintained since then and pilgrims from all around the globe visit the little house there for prayer and meditation. In September 1879 “‘Abdu’l-Bahá had rented a mansion that had been built by ‘Údí Khammár near ‘Akká. Named Bahjí (Delight), it was to be the home of Bahá’u’lláh for the remaining twelve and a half years of His life.”

Baha’u’llah decreed in the The Kitáb-i-Aqdas that

All Feasts have attained their consummation in the two most Great Festivals, and in the two other festivals that fall on the twin days: 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 Riḍván, which commemorates Bahá’u’lláh’s Declaration of His Prophetic Mission in the Garden of Riḍván in Baghdád 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 Shíráz. The first, ninth and twelfth days of the Festival of Riḍván 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 Báb 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.(Bahá’u’lláh. The Kitáb-i-Aqdas).

Notes

Najíbíyyih Garden

Though Bahá’u’lláh Himself practically never granted personal interviews, as He had been used to do in Baghdád, yet such was the influence He now wielded that the inhabitants openly asserted that the noticeable improvement in the climate and water of their city was directly attributable to His continued presence in their midst. The very designations by which they chose to refer to him, such as the “august leader,” and “his highness” bespoke the reverence with which He inspired them. On one occasion, a European general who, together with the governor, was granted an audience by Him, was so impressed that he “remained kneeling on the ground near the door.” Shaykh ‘Alíy-i-Mírí, the Muftí of ‘Akká, had even, at the suggestion of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, to plead insistently that He might permit 193 the termination of His nine-year confinement within the walls of the prison-city, before He would consent to leave its gates. The garden of Na’mayn, a small island, situated in the middle of a river to the east of the city, honored with the appellation of Riḍván, and designated by Him the “New Jerusalem” and “Our Verdant Isle,” had, together with the residence of ‘Abdu’lláh Páshá,—rented and prepared for Him by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, and situated a few miles north of ‘Akká—become by now the favorite retreats of One Who, for almost a decade, had not set foot beyond the city walls, and Whose sole exercise had been to pace, in monotonous repetition, the floor of His bed-chamber. Shoghi Effendi. God Passes By.

References

Bahá’u’lláh. Epistle to the Son of the Wolf. US Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1988.

Bahá’u’lláh. The Kitáb-i-Aqdas Bahá’í World Centre. 1992.

Bahá’í International Community (BIC). “The Declaration in the Riḍván Garden.”.

BIC. Timeline of Life of Baha’u’llah

Effendi, Shoghi. 1944 (1988) God Passes By. Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Bahá’í Publishing Trust. ISBN 0-87743-020-9.

Taherzadeh, Adib (1976). The Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh, Volume 1. Oxford, UK: George Ronald. p. 259. ISBN 0-85398-270-8.

Advertisements
No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: