March 8, 2016

Tahirih - The only woman ‘Letter of the Living’

The Letters of the Living were the first people who, each individually, and without help from others, recognized the promised One, the Báb, in 1844. They became His first Disciples and they are known to posterity by the title bestowed on them by the Báb! All but one of them were men. Tahirih was the only woman among the Letters of the Living. Here is the story of how she found the Promised One and the incredible role that she played in proclaiming His Message to the world.

Tahirih lived in Persia over one hundred and seventy years ago. In fact, she lived there at the time when the Báb began teaching His message and she became one of His first followers.  She was the only woman among the first special nineteen followers to believe in Him who the Báb named ‘The Letters of the Living’.

One day, while Tahirih was visiting her cousin, she found some books that interested her very much. They were written by a holy man of Persia called Shayk Ahmad, who had been preparing for a long time for the coming of a new Teacher from God. Shaykh Ahmad was sure that this was the time when such a great Prophet would appear and he had written many books about it. These were the books that Tahirih had found. She borrowed them from her cousin and spent most of her time reading and studying them.

February 15, 2016

Brothers and Sisters for Twinkle

Ever since Mary Ann Snow was a wee baby her eyes were so big and twinkly, that her father called her "Twinkle" and so did everyone else. When she was eight years old she was a pretty little girl with soft brown hair and pink cheeks. Her feet were dancing feet and her hands were clapping hands whenever she was happy. She lived in a nice white and green house in the country with her father, her mother and her Grannie. She should have been a happy child most of the time but I am sorry to say that sometimes she was sad indeed. Why was she sad, you ask? Well, because she had no brothers or sisters and there were no children nearby.

There were many pets: Rufus the big white cat; Blackie the little black dog; Chee-Chee, the yellow singing canary bird; and Do-Re-Me, the three gold fish in the bowl on the window seat near Daddy's favorite chair. These were Twinkle's very own pets and she loved them dearly. She would talk to them and they would talk back to her in their own special way.

Then there were birds in the trees outside; hens and baby chicks in the hen yard; there were ducks and ducklings in the pond; cows in the pastures, some with tinkling bells around their necks; there were horses in the barn that loved to lick sugar off of Twinkle' s hand and would sometimes take her riding; sometimes garter snakes slithered past Twinkle in the tall grass and Twinkle loved them all , second best to her in-doors pets. She counted them all as her friends, yet they belonged to the animal kingdom and Twinkle was lonely for children, belonging to the human kingdom like herself and Mother and Daddy and Grannie and Katy who worked in the kitchen and Tom and Ken who worked in the fields. So each evening Twinkle would pray for a brother or sister and then she would fall asleep and dream about them.

January 10, 2016

The Lost Kitten

Calla was a kitten that nobody wanted. She was a little grey and white kitten with blue eyes. She was not fat and frisky like most kittens because she had no home where there was milk in a saucer on the floor. She just wandered about trying to find something to eat but being such a baby kitten, she did not know exactly where to look for food. Usually the big cats found it first.

Calla followed many different people, mewing in her sad little voice as she ran after them. She seemed to be coaxing to· be taken home. But usually the people would hurry along paying no attention to the homeless kitten, scampering after them. Sometimes a person would stop and say, Scat!, which scared Calla and made her run away.

"Oh Jerry," said Mother, "put that dirty cat down."

"I want to take it home, "Jerry answered." She is a hungry kitten I know."

"But," replied Mother, "we do not have much food at our house."

December 20, 2015

‘Abdu’l-Baha’s temporary separation from Baha’u’llah

‘Abdu’l-Baha was with His Father, Baha’u’llah, all the time and they loved each other very, very much. But one day Baha'u'llah had to go away into the mountains and did not come back for two long years. ‘Abdu’l-Baha was about nine years old.

Missing His Father so much, ‘Abdu’l-Baha sometimes cried. He read the books of the Báb and prayed and helped the Family as much as He could.

There was a bad uncle who was living in their house. So afraid of being arrested as a Bábí, he would lock the main gate of the house and would not let the children go out to play. During this sad time many of the Bábís in Baghdad forgot the good teachings of the Báb and began to quarrel among themselves.

Then one day Baha'u'llah returned! His clothes were made of rough cloth, His hair and beard were long and His face was brown from being so many months outside in the wind and sun. ‘Abdu’l-Baha fell to the ground and kissed His Father's feet, and tears fell from Baha'u'llah's eyes as He looked at His beloved Son.

November 15, 2015

The little girl who saw ‘Abdu’l-Baha

There was once a little child who saw ‘Abdu’l-Baha. She lived in America, and her story is rather strange, for she knew about Him before she actually saw Him. He was far across the ocean when she said to her mother one day, “Mummy, if Jesus were here what would you do?”

Her mother answered, “I would go to Him as fast as I could!”

“Well, Mummy, He is here in the world somewhere,” she told her mother.

“Now Precious, what do you mean? How do you know?”

Her little girl then said," He told me so Himself, so He must be here."

The mother was puzzled because her daughter was so sure, and the mother prayed that she would know what it all meant.

The next day, the child asked her mother why she had not gone to see Lord Jesus." He's told me two times that He is here," she insisted.

September 13, 2015

Theresa makes Baha’u’llah’s Birthday a special Day

The little girl lay in her bed under soft covers. As the light of dawn slowly filled the room, a small bird flitted onto a tree outside and began to chirp. In the barnyard, the rooster crowed loudly and Theresa stirred in her sleep.

Her brown eyes opened. Her first thought was: "Today is a special day. It is Someone's birthday - Someone important. It is Baha'u'llah's Birthday." Theresa jumped out of bed, eager for the day to start. Birthdays were one of her favorite things. There were always fun things to do - candle-lit cakes and parties and friends. How she did love it all!

She stood before her closet. Mother had said that she did not have kindergarten today because it was a Holy Day. So Theresa did not choose a schooldress to wear. After slipping into some play clothes, she went into the bathroom, where she brushed her teeth and hair until they shone.

Mother was cooking breakfast in the warm kitchen. She set a plate in front of Theresa, who drew in a deep breath of the sweet pancake smell. Mother kissed the top of her head and told her it was like kissing the ebony wings of a bird. It was very nice to think that her black hair matched the color of a bird's feathers. She liked birds. In fact, she felt close to all of God's animal creatures.

August 15, 2015

The Horse Show

Carrie Willis stood at the wooden fence surrounding the pasture, and brushed the flowing blonde mane of her palomino mare, Lady. Her large eyes filled with tears as she said good bye to the horse she had raised from a colt. "Oh, Lady, I'm going to miss you so much. Any minute someone will come and take you away and I may never see you again."  

Carrie still remembered the pain she felt when her father first told her they had to sell Lady. "Winter will be coming soon," he had said, "and we cannot afford to buy hay and grain this year. I wish there was some other way, Carrie. But I am afraid we must sell her."

She tried talking her father out of it. She even offered to get a job after school to help buy Lady's feed. But her father would not hear of it. So the next week, Lady was sold to the Lion's Club. They were going to give her away as a prize at the annual Labor Day horse show.

So, engrossed in her thoughts, Carrie did not hear the truck and trailer pull into the driveway. Only when the doors of the truck slammed shut did she awaken to see two men walking toward her.  

"Hello there, miss," said the tallest man. "Is this the horse that is going to the fair grounds?"  

Carried nodded.  

"She sure is a beauty," said the other man, busily tying a rope into a lasso. "I would like to win her myself."  

July 12, 2015

Waiting for the Master

One day, behind the hot stone walls of the prison city of 'Akká, Bahá'u'lláh said, "I have not gazed on verdure for nine years." It had been nine years since He had rested His eyes on green and growing things. 'Abdu'l-Baha knew how much His Father longed for the countryside. He was determined to gain for Him His heart's desire.

First, it seemed impossible to get permission for a prisoner to leave the city. However, Bahá'u'lláh had lived among the inhabitants of 'Akká for nine years. He had already won them over with His love and good will. Even the governor, longed to see Bahá'u'lláh happy and comfortable. Eventually, he said that Baha'u'liah was free to pass beyond the prison walls whenever He wished. He could find a home in the countryside nearby.

The best wishes of the people of' Aká were in hand. 'Abdu'l-Bahá set to work immediately to find a suitable place. First. He was able to arrange for the Blessed Beauty to live at Mazra'ih, a lovely home surrounded by vegetable gardens and orange groves. But by 1879, two years later, that beautiful house was no longer big enough. Bahá'u'lláh’s family was large, and there were many pilgrims. 'Abdu'l-Bahá set out to find a bigger home. He discovered Bahjí, the beautiful palace that Bahá'u'lláh called the Lofty Mansion. At Bahjí, Bahá'u'lláh met with the believers and revealed His Writings. ‘Abdu'l-Bahá continued to live in 'Akktá. There He met with the many city officials and countless other people. He made sure that no one interfered with His Father's Revelation. No one was allowed to disrupt His peace and comfort. 'Abdu'l-Bahá was ever His Father's Shield. Bahá'u'lláh often said,"It is the Master who is able to endure all of these demands and still see to the comfort of the believers."  

June 7, 2015

One Meritorious Act

Sanam sat on a rooftop in a bed draped with a white mosquito net, not wanting to go to sleep.

"Tell me just one more story," she begged her grandmother. "Then I'll go to sleep. I promise."

"Get under your covers, then," her grandmother replied.

Sanam got under the covers while her grandmother sat on the edge of the bed and closed the mosquito net tightly behind her.

"When I was a young girl like you," her grandmother recounted, "I loved being with my grandmother, Naneh-joon, just as much as you love being with me.  

"Naneh-joon was a very devout Muslim. She got up to pray before the sun rose and went to bed after her midnight prayer. Even in her old age and poor health, she went to the mosque every day. She gave money to the poor and was kind to all.

May 17, 2015

The Black Rose

Do you know who ‘Abdu'l-Baha was? He was a very important person. ‘Abdu'l-Baha was the Son of Baha'u'llah. He was always very kind and good to others. He was a perfect example of what a Baha'i should be. This is a true story about ‘Abdu'l-Baha.

A long time ago, long before you were born, ‘Abdu'l-Baha came to America. While He was on His trip to America, He spoke to many different people ... men and women and children.

He went to many cities - to churches and temples and parks and meetings and houses to tell people about the Baha'i Faith. He spoke to young people and old people and black people and white people and tall people and short people and rich people and poor people...

He told them all about Baha'u'llah.

April 26, 2015

The Shepherd’s Dream

Siyyid Kázim was very happy. He not only knew that the Promised One had come, but He had seen Him and visited Him. What a joy it must have been to tell others about Him, even though he was not yet allowed to tell them His name.

But would you believe it? He found many who would not listen. You know it does no good to try to tell something to one who does not wish to hear. Not only that, but they were sometimes very cruel to Siyyid Kázim and his friends.

Siyyid Kázim and a few who were his close friends went on teaching just the same, for there were always some who were glad to listen. He read to them from the Qur'an the words which told that there would be two great Teachers. The One they were expecting would be the first, but there would be another soon after. And this last One would bring His Light to the whole world, not just to the country in which He lived.

One day at noon Siyyid Kázim was standing in the shade of a palm tree, waiting for the people to come from the noon-day prayer. Suddenly an Arab rushed up and threw his arms around him. An Arab, you know, is one who lives in or near the great Arabian Desert. And it was to the Arabs that Muhammad had come many years before and had given them the Qur'an.

Here is the strange story the Arab told Siyyid Kázim.

April 12, 2015

An example of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s very generous nature when He was seven years old

One lovely day ‘Abdu’l-Baha was enjoying riding His pony over the green fields and up the mountainside. He was on His way to visit some shepherds in the hills. The shepherds lived in a village owned by His Father, Baha'u'llah. All the houses, the fields and the sheep belonged to Baha'u'llah too. The farmers grew the corn and looked after the animals and Baha'u'llah gave them money and food and medicine when they were ill. They all loved Him very much.

‘Abdu’l-Baha was only seven years old and so a servant was looking after Him on His long ride to the hills. They soon saw the shepherds with the sheep and the servant told ‘Abdu’l-Baha that when the owner, or his son, came to visit the shepherds he should thank them for looking after the sheep by giving them a present.

‘Abdu’l-Baha thought hard. He had no money or food to give them. Then He had a lovely idea and smiled at the shepherds. "I'll give to each shepherd all the sheep in his flock," he said.

The shepherds were very surprised at such a generous gift. Later, when Baha'u'llah heard what His Son had done He was very pleased and said that one day ‘Abdu’l-Baha would give Himself away as well. 
(Adapted from ‘Stories of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’, by Jacqueline Mehrabi)

April 5, 2015

The Proud Helper

For many years of His life, 'Abdu'l-Baha lived in the Holy Land, in the city of Akka. For much of this time He was a prisoner and could not leave the city. But still, He did all that He could to help others.

'Abdu'l-Baha often visited the poor people in 'Akka. If they needed food or clothes, He would bring them these things.

If they needed money, He would give it to them.

If they were sick, He would call a doctor or care for them Himself.

Almost every day, poor people in tattered clothes were seen around ‘Abdu'l-Baha's house. They waited to see ‘Abdu'l-Baha and ask for His help. He would always listen to their problems and try to help them. He was like a father to all the poor.

Many Baha'is from Europe and America came to visit 'Abdu'l-Baha in ‘Akka while He was a prisoner. They came to listen to Him and to ask questions. ‘Abdu’l-Baha taught them many things about the Baha’i Faith.

March 8, 2015

When Gran’pa was a tramp

George lay awake in bed for a long time. He was thinking about the story Gran'ma had told him and his elder sister Ann. The evening had been exciting. Gran'ma had told them about the days when 'Abdu'l-Baha had visited England. He had felt proud when Gran'ma told them that Gran'pa had met 'Abdu'l-Baha. But his mouth was left gaping wide open with wonder when they were told that at that time Gran'pa was a tramp.

'Gran'pa a tramp?!' He still couldn't believe it.

He turned and whispered, "Ann . . . do you think Gran'pa was really a tramp!'

Half asleep, she mumbled, "Oh, go to sleep George and Gran'ma doesn't tell tall tales like you do."

Gran'pa would call him 'little tramp' whenever he returned home from school shuffling along the dirt path bent under the weight of his school bag and covered from head to toe in dust.

George tried to picture Gran'pa as a tramp. An old hat much too small resting on a clump of overgrown hair. An unwashed face lost in a dense growth of beard. An over- sized coat multi-coloured by the numerous patches on it. Discoloured trousers held-up by a piece of string, baggy at the knees and short at the ankles. Oversized boots stiff with age, which had lost their identity beneath successive layers of mud. The picture was complete and the tramp began to walk with a shuffling gait, the shoulders bent under an unseen weight.

February 1, 2015

Faithful Isfandiyar

Before Baha'u'llah became a follower of the Báb, he had a home in the country, surrounded by many acres of land, and a palace in the city of Tihran which had beautiful gardens around it. To take care of all of this, many servants were needed, and one of these was an African by the name of Isfandiyar. He was very happy to work for Baha'u'llah and His family, and he did everything he could to please them. He was very fond of the children -- 'Abdu'l-Baha, who was then about eight years old; Bahiyyih Khanum, who was six; and the baby, Mirza Mihdi, who was only two. He was also devoted to Asiyih Khanum, the children's beautiful young mother.

When Baha’u’llah became known as a follower of the Báb, many people who had pretended to be His friends, but who really envied Him, turned against Him. They told the Shah that Baha’u’llah was his enemy, and that He was secretly planning to become King Himself. Other people were against Baha’u’llah because they thought that the teachings of the Báb were against their religion.

Finally Baha’u’llah was thrown into prison, although He had done nothing to deserve it. His palace was broken into, and most of the valuable furniture, rugs, pictures, and things were stolen. When this happened, all the relatives of the family and all of the servants ran away, for fear they might be attacked by the robbers, or that they might even be put into prison. The only one who stayed to help Asiyih Khanum and the children was Baha’u’llah’s brother, Mlrza Musa. He helped Asiyih Khanum to find a small house to rent in a different part of the city, where Baha’u’llah’s enemies would not be likely to find them, and they moved to it at night.

January 25, 2015

Moonshine & Nightshadow

Mother Earth, full with child, gently tossed on her blanket of fallen leaves and twigs. Soon her baby would be born. She groaned as the child struggled for life. Her thin, brown fingers clutched the dry leaves beneath her. Suddenly the sky moved and a mighty hush descended on the forest. A soft sigh broke the stillness, then all was silent more. Father Sun beamed down hotly on the land. The baby had been born.

Slowly Mother Earth reached for her child. She stopped, her face golden with delight. Her joyous laughter rang through the forest, for there were two babies, not one.

Mother Earth gently wrapped the shivering infants in her bearskin robe. One child was black as a raven's wing, while the other was pale as a crocus petal. Mother Earth stroked the fairy wisps of soft, baby hair. To her white daughter she said, "I will name you Moonshine." To her dark daughter she added, "You, I shall call Nightshadow." Her joy was complete.

As the seasons passed, the twins grew and became very different from one another. Moonshine was vivacious and lively, whereas Nightshadow was quiet and gentle. Although both daughters were silent talented singers, many admitted that Nightshadow had a higher, sweeter voice. Whenever another praised her dark sister, Moonshine would feel a hot, angry dart pierce through her. Sometimes she even wished Nightshadow had never been born.

January 18, 2015

‘Abdu’l-Baha and the Poor Man

During ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s visit to America, one of the Baha'i friends who was staying in the same hotel as ‘Abdu'l-Baha, narrated this story:

I had a room in the same guest-house where Abdu'l-Baha was staying. Once, when I was looking out of my window, I saw Him pacing and dictating to His secretary. At that moment a poor man in shabby clothes passed the guest-house. No sooner had ‘Abdu'l-Baha seen him, than he sent his secretary to bring the man to Him.

‘Abdu'l-Baha stretched His arms out and welcomed him most warmly. The man was very poor and his clothes were very dirty. Nevertheless ‘Abdu'l-Baha turning His shining face to the man, talked to him for a long time, trying to make him happy. In the end the poor man smiled and his face beamed with pleasure.

Then ‘Abdu'l-Baha gave the man a searching look and said something I did not quite hear. It must have been something like "This man's clothes are old and shabby - we must do something!"

It was early in the morning and the street was still empty of people. ‘Abdu'l-Baha took off His cloak and gave the garment to the poor man saying, "God be with you." Then He returned to His secretary and continued dictating, as if nothing had happened.

January 11, 2015

Two Pink Roses for a Little Girl

A lady in Akka told this story about ‘Abdu’l-Baha and her little daughter:

The Master came to visit her child when she was sick. With Him He brought two pink roses which He gave to the little one, and then turning to the lady He said in His musical voice so full of love: "You must be patient".

That evening the child passed away. When the mother asked ‘Abdu'l-Baha the reason, He said: "There is a Garden of God; human beings are trees growing that Garden. Our heavenly Father is the Gardener. When the Gardener sees a little tree in a place which is small for its development, He prepares a suitable and more beautiful place where it may grow and bear fruits. Then He transplants that little tree. The other trees are surprised and say. 'This was a lovely tree. Why did the Gardener uproot it?' Only the Divine Gardener knows the reason.

"You are weeping, but if you could see the beauty of the place where your child is, you would no longer be sad. She is now free, like a bird, and she is chanting divine, happy melodies. "If you could see that Sacred Garden yourself, you would not be content to remain here on earth. Yet, this is where your duty lies."
(Adapted from 'The Chosen Highway by Lady Blomfield; ‘Varqa Children Magazine’, vol. 1, no, 2, May-June 1981)

January 4, 2015

The Fire Temple

The way to Ashok's school led past a Fire Temple of the Zoroastrians and Ashok was first attracted by the fragrance of sandalwood from it. He wondered what was in this temple and why sandalwood was burned there. When he was early for school Ashok would stand at the entrance and watch Zoroastrians going in and out, wearing special caps. His school friend Jamshed, had told him that a big fire was always kept burning before which they stood and prayed. Ashok had become interested and very curious. Once he had asked Jamshed to take him inside the Fire Temple but Ashok was told that only Zoroastrians could go in. This made Ashok more eager than ever. And this was why he had decided to know everything about Zoroaster and His teaching through the Time Capsule.

Ashok had found that Zoroaster lived 3000 years ago in the land of Persia, now called Iran. So he knew now what keys to tap on the Time Capsule's keyboard. As the room darkened strange voices filled the room. As the screen lit up Ashok found himself in ancient Persia amid a fair people with dark hair who wore long robes. Even the soldiers of King Vishtaspa who ruled over them, wore long tunics and carried spears and shields.

Farmers brought their products for sale in the market loaded on donkeys. They appeared to be a friendly people, kind and simple. They were all talking about the sudden and strange illness of "Asb-i-siyah" the favourite black stallion, of King Vishtaspa. Many wise men and doctors had examined the horse and tried different treatment but none would cure it. The King had offered a high reward for anyone who could make his horse well again.