Collection 1

February 19, 2020

One of Baha’u’llah’s granddaughters remembers His loving nature…

Even though Baha'u'llah and His Family lived as prisoners, He tried in every way to make them happy.

When Tuba Khanum was a child, she and her sisters had a difficult time. The only time they had with their loving and wonderful Father, Abdul-Baha, was at tea early in the morning. He was always so busy taking care of the hundreds of people who came to Him for help. But at tea He would chant prayers and tell them wonderful stories of the Lord Christ and His Mother, of Muhammad, of Moses and the other Prophets. They loved Him very much.

Later when they attended school from seven in the morning until five in the afternoon, they had a little reading and writing but no play time and only a little to eat at noon. Mostly they listened to someone reading but who never explained anything.

When the children needed someone to listen to their troubles and difficulties they always went to their grandfather, Baha'u'llah. He took an interest in everything about them. Tuba says in her letters; "We children looked upon Baha'u'llah as another loving Father. . . He used to send to Beirut every year to buy stuff for our clothes. Baha'u'llah would then call for us to choose which we liked best for our frocks. . . He was always punctual, and loved daintiness and order. . . and liked to see everybody well-groomed and as neatly dressed as possible." You can imagine that this was not easy, as prisoners cannot go wherever and whenever they wish.

January 15, 2020

A lesson in forgiveness…

One evening 'Abdu'l-Baha was talking to a group of the friends who had gathered around Him, warmed and comforted by His love.

Suddenly a stranger came into the room, and, without a word, threw himself down at 'Abdu'l-Baha's feet. 'Abdu'l-Baha knew who he was, though. He introduced the man to the others as "one of My old friends," and embraced him.

Now, where do you suppose He had met the man? Wouldn't you think that this person must have been very good to 'Abdu'l-Baha to be greeted so warmly? Well, here is the story behind the story:

Years before this night, when 'Abdu'l-Baha was a prisoner along with many others--some of them children—this man was one of the soldiers who guarded the prison gate.

Now, in order to get water the prisoners had to walk two miles to a well. There they filled their jugs and carried them back to the prison. This soldier waited until the prisoners came back into the prison yard with their heavy jugs. Then he struck at the jugs with his gun and broke them!
(Adapted from a story told by Mr. Faizi, Hand of the Cause; Child’s Way magazine, March-April. 1972)

December 16, 2019

The Servant of God

Abdu'l-Baha aboard Cedric
New York April 11 1912
When His Father was alive and dwelt outside the city of Akka among the mountains, 'Abdu'l-Baha frequently visited Him. Though the journey was rather long, He usually walked. His friends asked Him why He did not save time and effort and go on horseback. "Over these mountains, Jesus walked on foot," He said, "and who am I that I should ride where the Lord Christ walked?"

Once when he was older and rode in an ordinary stagecoach to return to His home, the driver thought that for a man of His appearance and bearing that He should be riding in a private carriage. 'Abdu’l-Baha insisted on using the stagecoach. At the end of His ride, He was stopped by a poor man who pleaded for a few coins. Turning to the driver. He said, "Why should I travel in a carriage when such as he needs money?"
(Adapted from the Baha’i World, Vol. IV; ‘The Child’s Way’ magazine, July-August 1971)

November 8, 2019

The road

A man had been traveling for many days looking for the town of Happyville. He had walked many miles in search of the wonderful town. Late one afternoon he came to a fork in the road. At the exact point where the road divided there was a rock, a very large rock. On top of the rock a young boy was seated playing a musical instrument.

The man went over to the boy and asked, "Can you please tell me which road I should take to get to Happyville?"

The boy stopped playing and said, "You can take the road to the left which is the long but short way; or you can take the road to the right which is the short but long way."

The man became angry, "You speak in riddles, all I asked was how to get to Happyville. What do you mean long but short, or short but long?"

The boy went back to his guitar and explained once again, "You can take the road to the left which is the long but short way, or you can take the road to the right which is the short but long way."

By now the man was even angrier than before. "I cannot stand your foolishness; I am going to take the road to the right which is short but long."

The man started down the road to the right. When he went a very short distance he came upon a river with the town of Happyville clearly on the other side. The man looked all around but he could not find a way to cross over the river.

October 16, 2019

Baha'u'llah - The King of Kings

Mansion of Baha'u'llah's father
This story is about a boy Who grew to be the latest Prophet of God. He came to the world as promised by God to Abraham, to Moses and to Jesus; also, to Muhammad, Krishna and Buddha.

We all know that a king is someone who is in charge of a whole country, much like a father who looks after members of his family. Today, in most countries, we have democracies. A democracy is governed by all its people instead of by a king. But a hundred years ago kings were so strong in many countries that they did as they pleased, without thinking about what would be good for the people in their land. This story will tell about Husayn-'Ali, later called, Baha'u'llah, Someone God sent to tell the kings and rulers of the world how they should behave toward the people.

As Husayn-'Ali was growing up, everyone knew He was no ordinary child. When He was a boy of thirteen, He used to talk with the wise and learned men who visited His father's house. They had studied religion for many years and although He had not gone to school, He was able to understand what they were talking about and even explained difficult questions to them.

What surprised the learned men as much as Husayn-Ali’s knowledge was His politeness. He was always mild and courteous and His father’s friends wanted to keep on talking to Him.

August 13, 2019

Badí – the messenger of Baha’u’llah


A long time ago there lived an old man in the town of Nayshábúr in eastern Persia. He made a living by selling turquoise stones and pure wool. He was Hájí ‘Abdu'l-Majíd.


Hájí ‘Abdu'l-Majíd had a very clever and intelligent son named Buzurg. The Hájí was a great mullá (Muslim priest). The people loved and respected him. His son, Buzurg was also well-known because he could recite the Holy Qur’an by heart and explain its teachings by the time he was eleven years old. 

May 21, 2019

Time Capsule: - Lord Buddha

It might sound strange to say that Silly was not silly. In fact he was the cleverest boy in his class. His name was Silapachai and his friends and classmates lovingly called him Silly because his original Thai name was too long. 

So it was Silly's turn and he entered the Time Capsule and pressed the buttons that would take him to the little Himalayan Kingdom Kapilavastu.

Childhood
On the brightened screen appeared the beautiful marble palace of King Sudhodana. In the court of the king stood two boys. One carried a bow and some arrows and the other an injured swan. Before the King were also his ministers and noblemen. They had come to hear the dispute of these two young men over a swan.

One was Devdutta who claimed that he had shot down the bird; and the other was Prince Siddhartha, son of King Sudhodana. His claim was that he had saved the life of the bird and so it was his. Both young men pleaded and argued before the king and noblemen and eventually it was decided that the bird would belong to the one who had saved its life and not one who had attempted to kill it. And so Prince Siddhartha won a point and taught the first great lesson. This was the very nature of Prince Siddhartha. From his youth he was very gentle, kind and loving to all people as well as to all animals.

People heard of the Prince's wisdom and recalled the strange dream Queen Maya had had before his birth. In the dream she saw a beautiful white elephant flying from the sky and entering her body. She narrated her dream to the King, and the two of them called wise men to give the meaning of the dream. The wise men said that the Queen would have a son who would be a special child, and he would be a great man, certainly greater than the King himself. This pleased King Sudhodana very much for he wished to have a son who would be a mighty ruler and who would expand the boundaries of his tiny kingdom in the north of India.

February 5, 2019

An example of 'Abdu'l-Baha's forgiving nature...

Some of the Governors of ‘Akka were very kind to 'Abdu'l-Baha, but others listened more to His enemies than to His friends and did very cruel things. For instance, some enemies of ‘Abdu'I-Baha at one time started a rumor that 'Abdu'I-Baha had left 'Akka and gone to Haifa. With the help of His many friends, they said, He was building a strong fort on Mount Carmel. Very soon, He would take over all of Palestine and Syria, and the Turkish Government would be driven out.

It was true that 'Abdu'l-Baha had moved to the fresh air of Haifa with His family, and it was true that He had many friends of all nationalities, but the so-called fort He was building was really the sacred Shrine of the Báb. The Governor, however, believed the stories the enemies told, and 'Abdu'l-Baha's family was brought back to the prison-city of 'Akka once again.

On one occasion an unfriendly Governor who hated the Baha'is decided to take over their shops and leave them with no means of making a living. So he gave orders to the police: "There are fifteen shops owned by Baha’is; go tomorrow morning early, lock them up, and bring the keys to me."

'Abdu'l-Baha called the Baha'is to Him that same evening and said, "Do not open your shops tomorrow, but wait and see what God will send us."

The next morning, the Governor waited for the keys. The police came to him and said that the shops were closed. The Governor sent the police out again, and said, "See if the shops are open now." The police returned and said that the shops were still closed. They waited and waited. At ten o'clock the shops were still not open, although they were usually open for trade at seven in the morning. However, the Governor knew that the shops must open sometime, so he waited.

November 7, 2018

At the Prison Gates

'Abdu'l-Rahim was a fanatical Muslim. He was alarmed. The Baha'i Faith was growing in his town in Persia and he decided that it was time to ask the advice of a Muslim clergyman. Being a fanatic, as many were, the clergyman assured 'Abdu'l-Rahim that to kill the Baha'is would certainly please God.  

'Abdu'l-Rahim then decided that he would kill some Baha'is. Not only would he rid the world of these infidels, he thought, but he'd gain a place in heaven as well. So, one day he armed himself with a weapon and went to confront an older believer whose name was Haji Bábá.  

"I've come to kill you, Haji Bábá, because you are a Baha'i. You are a disgrace to Islam!"  

To 'Abdu'l-Rahim’s surprise Haji Bábá did not seem the least upset. Instead he replied calmly and lovingly. It was certainly not what 'Abdu'l-Rahim’s expected. He wanted to kill at least one Baha'i, but instead he found himself listening to the words of the old man. Quite against his will, 'Abdu'l-Rahim became interested.  

After a while, Haji Bábá took 'Abdu'l-Rahim to a meeting. It was in the house of Mulla Husayn's sister. (Perhaps you remember that Mulla Husayn was the first to believe in the Báb.) You have been to firesides I suppose? Well, this one lasted one day and one night! At the end of this meeting, 'Abdu'l-Rahim was not only a Baha'i, but a Baha'i who was on fire with the love of God. He was so charged that he could no longer bear to stay in his town. He had learned that the Manifestation of God, God's Prophet for this age, was actually on this earth and 'Abdu'l-Rahim longed to see His Face.  

'Abdu'l-Rahim set out for the prison of Akka on foot. He walked weary miles on foot. He walked weary miles with a glad heart. He walked through cold and heat, rain and snow. He walked for six months. Finally, he arrived at the city of his heart, the dusty, parched city of Akka, where God had placed His Most Glorious Treasure, Baha'u'llah.  

Unfortunately, 'Abdu'l-Rahim arrived in the early days of Baha'u'llah's imprisonment. The gates were watched carefully and anyone suspected of being a Baha'i was turned away. Outside the city 'Abdu'l-Rahim met the celebrated, long suffering Nabil, who many times had tried to get in to catch a glimpse of that Beloved Face. But Nabil had failed and was patiently waiting for a time when he might enter.

August 15, 2018

Stranger in the Mountains

Background:
[Baha'u’llah left Baghdad to travel alone in the mountains of Kurdistan for two years. He did not tell anyone there who He was. There were others in Baghdad who wanted people to believe that they were the Promised One. Baha'u’llah left so that He would not hurt even the ones who wanted to be His enemies. You can read about His journey in ‘God Passes By’, by Shoghi Effendi, pp. 120-126, or in Baha’u’llah: The King of Glory, by H. M. Balyuzi, pp. 115-122. Here is a story from that time.]

Story:
The boy was sitting on the hillside crying bitterly. He could see the mountain village below which was his home. He wanted to go home but was afraid. He had been punished at school and would be punished again at home. So instead, he ran to the hills and cried.

A stranger, who did not live in the village, heard his crying. Coming closer the stranger asked the boy why he was crying. The boy looked up. There, coming toward him, was a dervish, a man without a home who spent his days wandering the countryside praying and thinking about God.

The boy answered, "Oh, sir, my teacher has punished me for writing so badly. I can't write nicely and now I've lost the lesson he gave me to copy. I can't go back to school without it or I will be punished even more. And I can't go home for my parents will be ashamed."

Then the boy began to cry some more. The stranger gently asked him to stop crying. He then offered to write a lesson and to teach the boy to copy it so that his teacher would be proud of him.

From his clothes the stranger took out a pen and paper and wrote beautiful letters. Then he showed the boy how to copy them. The boy copied the writing again and again. After a time he could do it so well you could hardly tell the difference between one writing and the other.

May 16, 2018

Being Good and…

Elizabeth was a Good Girl. Everybody said so. Grandpa David said she was his Little Princess; Mummy said she was Good as Gold; and even Mr. Barkowski, the mailman, said she was the Perfect Child. Everybody said she must be so happy to be so good. And when her Grandma Molly asked, “Are you sure?” they all said, “Of course...”

For when she came to dinner she ate everything on her plate, even the sauerkraut. Heaven knows she never spilled her milk or had grease spots on her dress. She said please and thank you nicely and wouldn’t think of asking for seconds of dessert.

At school she was the Perfect Student. She did lovely sums and wrote ever-so-neatly. She never wiggled in her seat or spoke out-of-turn. Her teacher said she was a Little Angel.

When she went out to play she was Always Good. She didn’t get mud on her slippers and she was never rowdy. She always put her toys away. And when she stumbled and scratched her knee, not one tear appeared; she was so Brave.

But that was before Billie Sue. Billie Sue was Bad.

Elizabeth knew for sure Billie Sue was Bad. You could hear her racing down the street from a block away, she tooted her bicycle horn so. Her hair always flew out of her pony-tail in curly wisps and her knees were permanently green from grass stains. In school she always shouted “I know; I know!” before their teacher even hinted at the question, and her homework, though it was always in on time, was smeared with doggie paw-prints, melted popsicles, or last night’s spaghetti sauce.

February 16, 2018

Giving one’s material possessions for the sake of God

The following story, though it uses characters created by the author, is based on actual events in Yazd, Iran, in 1982.

In a little Persian town named Yazd, in a simple house on a narrow street, lived a man named Abbas. Every day, when it was time for his prayers, Abbas would go into his small garden, spread his rug, and offer thanks to Baha'u'llah for all his blessings.

For Abbas believed he had received many blessings. He had a fine house, though small, a good wife, a fine son, and a lovely daughter. What's more, Abbas had gifted hands. He was a carpenter and woodwright and, after he saw a chest or table or chair in his mind's eye, he could transform a pile of rough lumber into miracles. Every chair wrought by his hands was sought after by his neighbors and customers, tor it was sure to be sturdy, smooth as silk, and best of all, comfortable. Though he was not a rich man, Abbas' neighbors counted him as wealthy for the beautiful pieces of furniture, wrought by his own hand and carved with flowers and birds, even inlaid with mosaic made of ivory and teak, which filled his home. His work was truly his worship, for Abbas sought to glorify his Creator with each piece of furniture, and each chair or cabinet was like one of his own children, born of his love for the potential in the wood.

Abbas was a thrifty man, and he was steadily increasing his savings. Every payment he received for his work, he divided in three - one part for his family's needs, one part for God, and one part for his savings. His savings were there to protect against illness or misfortune and, if God was gracious, would someday be enough for him to make a pilgrimage to the Shrines of the Báb and Bahá'u’lláh in the Holy Land. This was Abbas' most heartfelt wish - to be able to make that journey with his wife and children.

January 19, 2018

Saving Stars

“Wow! That was some storm last night, Laura,” Kevin said as he kicked aside a broken piece of driftwood. He shielded his eyes against the bright sun. “Look at all of this junk that washed up on the beach.”

Laura bent down to pick up one half of a shiny clam shell. “I’ve never seen so much seaweed on land before,” she exclaimed. “There are shells, bottles, cork floats and driftwood everywhere. I feel as if I’m on a treasure hunt.”

“A smelly treasure hunt,” Kevin commented. He wrinkled his nose. “There must be some dead fish up ahead.”

“Let’s climb over the rocks on the point and check out the cove,” Laura suggested. “Maybe we’ll find out where the smell is coming from.”

Kevin and Laura picked their way around the objects on the beach. Wet sand crunched beneath their shoes. Beside them the blue-green ocean lapped gently at the shore as the tide continued to go out. Except for the mess on the beach, no one would have guessed that a huge summer storm had blown in and out just the night before.

They climbed carefully over the rocks and rounded the bend into the hidden cove.

Suddenly Laura stopped. “I can’t believe it!”

“No wonder!” Kevin added. “Dead fish. Thousands of them!”

“Those aren’t fish,” Laura said. “They’re sea stars! And, there are so many of them. They must have washed up on shore during the storm. Without water, they’ll all die!”

November 15, 2017

Thank you, Isfandiyar

When I was growing up, Halloween* was a great time, even for a kid in a wheelchair. I was actually famous in my neighborhood because I had the coolest homemade Halloween costumes - like one time I was a haunted semi-truck rolling along with headlights flashing wildly and scary sounds playing. Another year I was a soda machine that dispensed real (empty) soda cans! I think my favorite costume was when I was a washing machine and Dad recorded sounds of the big laundry downtown and I played those and flipped my lid. My most memorable Halloween, though , was the year I was a witch with long rubber worms for hair. It wasn't so much the costume - but that year was especially memorable because I met Isfandiyar.

Isfandfyar - yes, that was his amazing name - was my first real friend, and he truly changed my life. But, I should slow down with the story because I'm getting ahead of myself.

In our neighborhood, I knew most of the people, and everything was fine. So, most years, I'd go out by myself and I'd roll up to the door or porch and shout "TRICK OR TREAT!" like any other kid. But the really memorable year, things didn't go exactly like always. That year, I ran into some bullies stealing candy bags away from other kids. There were three of them, and they just stepped out of the dark when I was alone.

"Well, lookie here - a witch in a wheelchair! Ooooh, I am soooo scared."

"Hey, witchie, if you're so powerful, why don't you heal yourself?"

"Yeah, you must be a fake witch . .. let's see if you can stop me from taking your candy!"

September 10, 2017

Father of the Poor

Before Mirza Husayn-'Ali was called Baha'u'llah, before He was known as the Promised One of God, He was called by another title: "Father of the Poor." Mirza Husayn-'Ali was born into a wealthy family. His father was a mirza, a nobleman, who was so respected for his talents, wisdom, generosity, and courage that the Shah gave him the title "Buzurg," meaning "the great one," and made him governor.

Mirza Buzurg owned a vast estate, and many peasants worked the land and tended his livestock for him. Often young Mirza Husayn-'Ali walked or rode His horse through the countryside, stopping to speak with the peasants and learn about their lives and troubles. Believing that He would one day rule the estate, the peasants watched Him as He grew and were no doubt comforted by the understanding Mirza Husayn-'Ali showed.

When He was nearly eighteen, Mirza Husayn- Ali married Asiyih Khanum, the daughter of another wealthy nobleman. Asiyih Khanum had everything a young woman in Persia could hope to have. She was tall and beautiful, wise, gentle, and kind. The young couple started their life together with great wealth and comfort. A jeweler worked for six months fashioning her jewels, even creating gold buttons studded with gems for her clothing. Forty mules carried Asiyih Khanum's belongings to her new home. The couple would, everyone thought, enjoy a grand life of power and luxury, filled with parties and important ceremonies.

August 16, 2017

The Badasht Conference

It was the summer of 1848. The followers of the Báb, the Bábís, were fiercely persecuted in Persia, the birthplace of their Faith. They needed guidance and support. Bahá'u'lláh, Who, at that time, was a directing force among the Bábís, decided to meet with His fellow believers. A group of them gathered in the small village of Badasht in northern Persia.

Upon His arrival, Bahá'u'lláh rented three gardens, one for Quddús, another for Táhirih, and the third one for Himself. The main purpose of this gathering of Bábís, known as the Badasht Conference, was to consult about the future of the Bábí Faith. Tents were put up in the three gardens to house the eighty-one Bábís who had gathered at this most important event. From the day they arrived to the day they left, for twenty-two days, they were all the guests of Bahá'u'lláh.

Every day, Bahá'u'lláh revealed a new Tablet, which was chanted every morning in this memorable gathering of Bábís. Through these Tablets, Bahá'u'lláh discarded one after another of the established traditions of the past. The Bábís were dismayed as they saw the ways they had worshiped, and many of the teachings they had followed for so long, changed and discarded.

Baha'u'llah bestowed a new name on every believer at Badasht without disclosing the identity of the person who had given those names. From this time on, He became known as "Bahá" (Glory), Quddús (the Most Holy) gained his title, and Táhirih (the Pure One).

The Bábís were in awe. They did not know the source of all these Revelations. They wondered: Who wrote the Tablets? Who gave them the new names? Some were guessing, each one to his own degree of understanding. Very few, if any, thought Bahá'u'lláh was the author of the changes that were so fearlessly introduced.

July 17, 2017

Koae

In the heart of the Pacific Ocean are some beautiful islands - points of green that arise from the dark blue depths. One of these islands is called Oahu which in Hawaiian means "the gathering place". It is well named for it is the home of many.

Among the people that lived on Oahu in times long past was an old man named Koae and his grandson Keola. Koae was a kahuna, a man of God, whose wisdom and love for others was well known. Koae loved many things - the sparkling curtains of rain falling on the dark green mountain valleys, and the roar of the rollers breaking over the reef, the bright orange and red hibiscus blossoms that framed the still brighter smiles of the graceful island women, and the sound of drums and chanting on quiet moonlit nights.

Most of all, Koae loved to sit on the beach with his grandson Keola, and as the sun set he would tell stories of long ago - stories that had been told by his grandfather and his grandfather before him.

The sun had dropped below the horizon, that distant place where sea and sky meet, but its rays still pierced the ocean's edges with beams of orange and crimson light.

"Look, my son," said Koae, pointing out beyond the reef. "It is Koae, the tropic bird, coming home from the sea. It is for him that I am named."

"Grandfather, please tell me of Koae," said Keola.

June 14, 2017

‘Abdu’l-Baha - the Knight of Light

When you stand in the gardens at Mazra'ih near 'Akka, you can see the mountains that hold the Druze village of Abu-Sinan, where the Baha'is of the Holy Land lived during the most dangerous times of World War I.

During this war, the British and the Turks were fighting to control the Holy Land. Because the enemies of the Faith had spread lies about the Baha'is to the Turkish military leader, Jamal Pasha, he had sworn to crucify 'Abdu'l-Baha and His family upon his return to Haifa. So 'Abdu'l-Baha moved the Baha’is and His family to the village of Abu-Sinan.

But He Himself had work to do. So, with Haji MIrza Haydar 'AIi, a courageous soul who feared nothing but the displeasure of God, He returned to Haifa. As it was impossible for 'Abdu'l-Baha to continue his correspondence with Baha'i's all over the world - there was no mail in or out of Haifa, and no pilgrims could travel to the war zone - He returned His energies to trying to ease the sufferings of the people of Haifa and 'Akka.

The oppression of the Turks and a plague of locusts had caused local famine, so in the tremendous heat of the season (which was enough to take one's breath away!), 'Abdu'l-Baha traveled to Tiberias [about 30 miles to Haifa] and supervised the raising of wheat on the fertile land around the Sea of Galilee. He maintained a system of distributing the wheat to the people of Haifa and 'Akka, arranged for its transport by camel, and devoted His time to caring for the victims of the war.

May 18, 2017

Attributes of God

Mr. Bustard took a triangular shaped bar of glass from his briefcase. “Does anyone know what this is?" he asked as the four children in his class examined it.

“Is it a mirror?" asked Anisa.

“No, it's not a mirror;” replied Mr. Bustard.

“It's a paperweight,” answered Nabil.

“No, it's not that. Do you have any idea what it is, Phillip or Sarah?"

They both shook their heads.

“This is called a prism. Can anyone guess what a prism does?"

Phillip raised his hand. “A prism is where they put people who break the law,” He giggled at his joke.

Mr. Bustard laughed too. “That's very funny, Phillip, but that's a ‘prison' not a ‘prism'." He spoke the two words distinctly so the children could hear the different sound. “A prism is used to separate light into different colors. Did you know that the light coming from this lamp contains all the colors of the rainbow?” He positioned the prism near the lamp and tilted it so it caught a ray of light. A rainbow of colors suddenly appeared on the opposite side. He held up a piece of white cardboard on which to reflect the different colors. The children were fascinated.