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Great Videos for Ridvan

Listen to the Nightingale’s Song

 How often in the Bahá’í Writings do we read references to the song of the nightingale?  Yet how many of us have ever heard this bird?  I thought I’d start with it, so you would know what it sounds like and can imagine it, in the Garden of Ridvan.

Thus hath the Nightingale sung with sweet melody upon the celestial bough, in praise of its Lord, the All-Merciful. Well is it with them that hearken.  (Baha’u’llah, The Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 70)

 


 

Twelve Days in the Garden of Ridvan by Rob Belcher

This song was written by Rob Belcher, a dear Canadian Bahá’í friend. Rob passed away several years ago, but left a legacy of beautiful songs that he always sought to share.

Festival of Ridvan

A short musical slideshow that was put together for the Celebration of Ridván

 

The Festival of Ridvan

This video commemorates the Baha’i Holy Days of Ridvan. The audio tracts excerpts are from the Baha’i World Congress Choir CD.

 

 About the Ridvan Garden outside of ‘Akka’

Explained by Hand of the Cause Mr. Faizi – Introduction by Hand of the Cause Mr. Khadim

 

Bahá’ís Celebrating Ridvan:

 

Tablet of Ridvan (Paradise) by Bahá’u’lláh

 Recited in English

Arabic Chant of the Ridvan Tablet

 Click here as more videos on Ridvan are uploaded

12th Day of Ridván – a Program for the Holy Day

 

As you come in to the celebration, listen to the nightingale’s song and imagine yourself in the Garden of Ridvan . . .

 

The Story of Baha’u’llah’s Exile from Start to Finish

By David Merrick

Note:  Suggestion to readers – use the headings as a natural break, but they don’t need to be read.

Release from the Siyah-Chal

One day Bahá’u’lláh’s brother was being chased by a gang hoping to injure him. As he made it to the entrance of the Russian Consulate, they robbed him of his cloak. When the Russian Consul heard about this and then learnt of Bahá’u’lláh’s brutal imprisonment in an underground reservoir, he straight away rose up before the Shah, and by using his great influence and pressure, brought about Bahá’u’lláh’s release. Iran moved Bahá’u’lláh far away, to Baghdad; the Russians appointed guards to protect Him along the way, threatening that if a hair should be lost from His head, war would follow and burn Iran to cinders.

Bahá’u’lláh in Baghdad

Bahá’u’lláh stayed in Baghdad for ten years; He shone before all men and spread the Call of God, every day inspiring life into the community of the Báb, and causing every heart to tremble with wonder.

Decision to Remove Bahá’u’lláh from Baghdad

Baghdad was very close to Persia and several of its shrine cities – a crossroads for Iranian pilgrims, and a haven and hotbed for political exiles. News of Bahá’u’lláh’s extraordinary popularity with everyone poured endlessly into Tihran, and the authorities feared Bahá’u’lláh would influence their pilgrims, and perhaps use His rising prominence to threaten the Persian government. In their meetings and gatherings, they tirelessly searched for ways to bring about Bahá’u’lláh’s expulsion, and the remorseless picture they built up filled the Shah with fear.

For three long years, they tried every plot, persuasion and pressure to cause Istanbul to hand Bahá’u’lláh over to them, or to drive Him away; they then sought other governments to do the same; but Istanbul stood solidly by Bahá’u’lláh. Arranging for learned scholars to expose Bahá’u’lláh as ignorant, they walked away wholly satisfied. They incited gangs and hired assassins to have Bahá’u’lláh killed violently, but Bahá’u’lláh faced them unarmed, without fear or harm. The Persian Ambassador became so frustrated at their lack of success, he cut off all connection to that government and refused to see the Sultan’s ministers, until, at last, Istanbul found no alternative but to yield and move Bahá’u’lláh away. The Shah asked the Sultan to wipe out Bahá’u’lláh’s influence and make sure He was moved very far away. They made a deal, and a telegram was sent to Baghdad directing His move out to Istanbul.

Conveying the Message

The Governor of Baghdad admired Bahá’u’lláh immensely. When he received this telegram, he was quite unable to convey it, and had to be ordered a great many times; he responded that Bahá’u’lláh had lived there ten years, and no fault was ever seen in Him. News of this telegram could not be contained however, and inevitably it began to spread.

Tablet of the Holy Mariner

Bahá’u’lláh was encamped with His followers in an open area outside the City to mark the new year, and after a few days His secretary came out from His tent, and with Bahá’u’lláh’s companions all gathered around him, he began chanting to them the Tablet of the Holy Mariner . The friends had never before felt such overwhelming sorrow, as they realised the period of Baghdad was just about to close. He finished chanting, and then Bahá’u’lláh Himself spoke, comparing all the tents to the distractions of the world: that they are no sooner spread, than they are rolled back. Saying this, He immediately ordered them folded up, and requested everyone return to the City.

Messenger

The tents were still being put away, when a messenger arrived with an invitation to a meeting at the Governor’s headquarters. He handed it to Bahá’u’lláh, Who accepted it; Bahá’u’lláh, however, made it known that His mission was not with rulers and officials, and therefore had no cause to meet at the Court House. Instead, He suggested meeting the next day, in the mosque, just across the street from the Governor.

Tumult

A great tumult quickly seized and spread amongst Bahá’u’lláh’s companions. Refusing to sleep or eat, many resolved to end their lives the moment they were parted from Him. Bahá’u’lláh with His loving-kindness gradually drew them away from their course, and resigned them to His good-pleasure.

Meeting at Mosque

The appointed hour came, and the Governor arrived at the mosque. He felt too ashamed of his task, and sent in his deputy to pass on the order exiling Bahá’u’lláh to Istanbul, the capital of the Empire. The order was presented to Bahá’u’lláh in the mosque, and, as was the custom, made His own choice. Bahá’u’lláh gave His decision to go there, and the government provided Him with money to make the journey. Bahá’u’lláh accepted it, and immediately distributed the money to the poor.

When Bahá’u’lláh was summoned before the magistrates, Abdu’l-Bahá stepped forward and declared his firm desire to go in Bahá’u’lláh’s place; but Bahá’u’lláh prevented this, and went Himself. Great numbers of people assembled about Bahá’u’lláh’s house, and when they saw Him leave, they were one and all thrown into a most visible grief, feeling He might never return to them.

The magistrates respected and loved Bahá’u’lláh, and having found themselves unable to stop or change the exile, they apologised with great sorrow. Bahá’u’lláh remained in conference with them all day, yet there was no way to prevent the decree.

Initial Reaction to the News

His followers were still gathered about the house when the news arrived, and their hearts sank to the depths. The fierce natures of many Arabs present, billowed to the surface with violent declarations, and they implored Bahá’u’lláh not to desert them, feeling that without Him as their shepherd, they would die. Although desiring to go alone, His family wept and insisted so intensely that they accompany Him, He in the end agreed they could, and named those who would stay behind. He said they must prepare to set out on the exile in two weeks’. However, the next day they utterly overran the house, and no preparations were possible.

Progressive Allusion

Gradually Bahá’u’lláh began to convey to His future followers what was approaching. His festive, soul-entrancing poems and writings, the conversations He held and the change in His manner, were full of hints of the prophetic office and leadership He was about to take on. Exaltation and sadness would flood His soul, and a boundless ecstasy filled His lovers’ hearts.

Tablets Chanted

In the night time, His secretary would gather them all together in his room, close the door, and under the light of many fragrant candles, he would chant for them the newly-revealed poems and Writings in his possession. Immersed in the realms of the spirit, they would become oblivious of the world around, and forgetting entirely the need for food, drink or sleep, would suddenly discover night having passed, and the sun approaching noon.

Preparations to Leave

The next few weeks were exceptionally busy. Bahá’u’lláh revealed a personal Tablet for every one of His friends in Baghdad, adult and child alike, writing for them with His Own hand; He received innumerable visitors, and made the practical preparations necessary for the caravan journey. The arrangements required for the journey were exceptionally demanding.

Decision for Ridvan

Bahá’u’lláh suggested moving across the River into the garden of one of His friends, and there with Abdu’l-Bahá receive the visitors, freeing the house from the turmoil of people and allowing the family to pack. The Master made the arrangements for Bahá’u’lláh to go to the Garden, and in every way he could, shielded Bahá’u’lláh from the pounding insistence of the world around.

This suggestion of moving out from the house was repeated amongst the friends and quickly became distorted, until a rumour circulated that Bahá’u’lláh was being taken away alone, and everyone came pouring in in masses, wild with grief and unable to be calmed.

Preparing the Garden

Provisions were moved into the Garden; a tent was set in the centre for Bahá’u’lláh, and other tents were ranged throughout the Garden, forming a little village.

The Garden was blooming with bright red roses, colourful flowers, tulips, and luxuriantly green trees. A pool of water stood in the middle of Bahá’u’lláh’s tent, and everywhere outside, streams of water flowed in all directions. Everyone was devoted to making the Garden more beautiful than it had ever been.

Departure for the Garden – 22 Apr

On the appointed afternoon, in the nineteenth year of the Faith, the 22 April 1863, Bahá’u’lláh emerged from the inner room of the House, and set out with Abdu’l-Bahá toward the Garden that lay over the River, ten minutes from the City gate. On His head He now wore conspicuously a taj, a tall, beautifully-adorned felt hat that He from that moment on would wear throughout His ministry.

Gathering for Bahá’u’lláh

People of every rank, nationality and walk of life gathered from all quarters of the City and thronged the approaches of His house: men and women of every age, friends and strangers from every social class, the poor, the orphaned and the outcast, merchants, notables, clerics and officials, the vast majority unconnected to the Faith of the Báb, the Bahá’í ladies congregating together in the courtyard; all waited, amazed, heartbroken and apprehensive.

Stepping Outside

As Bahá’u’lláh stepped outside, a rush of people poured forward from all directions, humbling themselves before Him, weeping greatly. Bahá’u’lláh stood for some time amidst the weeping and the lamenting hearts, speaking words of comfort, and promising to receive each of them later in the Garden. When He had walked some way toward the gate, amid the crowds, a child of just a few years rushed forward and clung to His robes, weeping aloud, and begging in his tender voice that He not leave. They were 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 the refuge and guide for all.

Into the Street

As He descended the steps from the courtyard into the narrow street, just before it joins the main road, the entire area was thronging with people, both believers and others, and all movement was impossible. Friends could not be distinguished from strangers, and the sound of lamentation and grief rose up everywhere from all alike. Suckling babies were cast under Bahá’u’lláh’s feet. He raised those infants tenderly, one by one, blessing them, and gently and lovingly replaced them in their sorrowing mothers’ arms, charging them to bring up those dear flowers of humanity to serve God in steadfast faith and truth. Men threw themselves in His path, hoping that His feet might touch them and bless them as He passed. It took Him some minutes to place each foot upon the ground.

One man had an only child, which had come to him late in his life, and he stripped the clothes from the child’s body and placing it at Bahá’u’lláh feet, he cried, “Naked I give you my child, my precious child, to do with as you will: only promise not to leave us in distress! Without you, we cannot live.”

Everyone was crying, pressing in to approach Bahá’u’lláh, to hear His words, touch Him or receive a comforting glance, howling and weeping at their loss, seeing no more value in life. Bahá’u’lláh bade each person farewell, caressing and soothing everyone.

Such grief they had, that all those who were to accompany Bahá’u’lláh sorrowed along with those to be left behind.

Toward the River

The streets and housetops all along His way were crowded with Bahá’u’lláh’s friends; such a commotion, Baghdad had rarely seen. Upon the way, and with an open hand, Bahá’u’lláh provided to the poor He had so faithfully befriended, uttering words of comfort to the disconsolate as they pleaded with Him on every side, until, at long last, Bahá’u’lláh managed to reach the banks of the River Tigris. As He prepared to cross, He entrusted the city of Baghdad to His devoted friends, that through their deeds and conduct, the flame of love would continue to glow within the hearts of its people.

Crossing the River

Bahá’u’lláh boarded a small boat waiting for Him; the people pressed all around Him, wishing to be in His Presence for as long as they could.

The boat pushed off, and ferried Bahá’u’lláh across the water, in company with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the Purest Branch , another of His sons, and His secretary, and the companions on the bank all watched with sorrowing hearts as He receded into the distance.

Bahá’u’lláh set foot on the opposite bank and crossed into the Garden, just as the call of ‘God is the Greatest’ resounded throughout the district from the pinnacles of mosque, summoning the inhabitants to the late afternoon prayer, at two hours to sunset. Shortly after Bahá’u’lláh’s arrival, the River rose up, making it difficult to cross, and it was only on the ninth day that the whole of Bahá’u’lláh’s family was able to join Him.

Those Remaining on the Banks

An extraordinary exhilaration, a marvellous exaltation in the atmosphere filled the companions that day. As they remained watching on the bank, they were aware of this, yet unable to understand what in due time they were to learn.

Seeing the boat reach the other side and Bahá’u’lláh disappear in the distance, they started off on foot toward the main bridge floating on the River, they made their way to the Garden, where food was cooking and tea prepared for the friends.

The Garden of Ridvan

For twelve days Bahá’u’lláh stayed in the Garden, and would be found each day in the utmost joy, walking majestically in the flower-lined avenues and amongst the trees.

The friends living in Baghdad would come during the day and return home each night, whilst others would be engaged in service to those in the Garden.

Eminent rulers, clergy and jurists would come continuously to Bahá’u’lláh’s tent with their insoluble problems, and take their leave satisfied with their dilemmas entirely solved.

Day 1 – Mystery Manifest

On the very first day of the Ridván festivities, Bahá’u’lláh shone out to the world like the most brilliant sun. At that critical hour and without warning, amidst the unending multitude of interrupting visitors thronging His tent and the dangers such a news would bring to His exile, Bahá’u’lláh chose to lay bare the mystery surrounding His person, and assume the power and authority of the One promised by the Báb. He made known how the effulgence of the Eternal Truth had at that moment infused all created things with the life of every divine quality, immersing creation in the sea of purification; the sword was to be utterly cast from reach; and He made it known that the next Messenger would come to the world after a thousand years. In such a way, and through many signs, Bahá’u’lláh conveyed His position to those who were present, and announced with great joy the start of the Festival of Ridvan. Though on the threshold of His exile into great suffering in far-away lands, yet sadness and grief entirely vanished from everyone’s hearts, and was replaced with unclouded delight.

Daily

Each day in the Garden, before the sun had dawned, the gardeners would pick the roses which lined the four avenues and pile them up in the centre of the floor inside Bahá’u’lláh’s tent. So great would be the heap that His companions gathering to drink their morning tea in His presence would be unable to see each other across it. Bahá’u’lláh would entrust these roses with His own hands to the friends He would send out each morning, and on His behalf to be delivered to His Arab and Persian friends in the city.

Food was brought from the house of Bahá’u’lláh in Baghdad, where His family was still in residence, and also from another house. There was much wind for some days, and Bahá’u’lláh’s tent was swaying about. The friends took it in turns throughout the night and day to sit and keep the tent ropes steady in case it might be blown down, their whole happiness in so doing, being to be so nearby Bahá’u’lláh.

Bahá’u’lláh would summon a number of His companions to Him each day, and dismiss them in the evening. Those without family ties were allowed to remain for the night, with the remainder returning to their homes.

Every morning and afternoon, Bahá’u’lláh would speak of the Báb’s Cause and intimate His own; without any trace of sadness, He radiated forth the utmost joy.

The notables and ordinary devoted people of the City, yearning to visit Bahá’u’lláh, were unable to bear their separation, and would arrive from Baghdad each day in streams and a succession of waves, offering their last farewell, and would take their leave with feelings of profound sorrow.

Day 5 – Roses

On the fifth night, one of the companions was watching beside Bahá’u’lláh’s tent and keeping the ropes steady; as midnight approached, Bahá’u’lláh came out from His tent, and passed by the places where some of His companions were sleeping. He began to pace up and down the moonlit, flower-bordered avenues of the garden. The nightingales were singing so loudly on every side, only those nearby could make out Bahá’u’lláh’s voice. He continued to walk, and paused amidst an avenue. He observed how the nightingales were sleepless from dusk till dawn enraptured with their love for the roses, communing in a burning passion of melody. How, He asked, could those afire with the rose-like beauty of the Beloved, choose to sleep?

Day 5+ Visitors

For three nights the same companion watched and circled around His tent, and found Bahá’u’lláh wakeful at all times, whilst each day, from morning to evening, Bahá’u’lláh would be engaged in ceaseless conversation with the streams of visitors flowing continuously into His presence from Baghdad.

Day 9 – Family Arrive

On the ninth day, the River settled down and the flood-waters receded, allowing those in the old eastern side of the City to cross the boat bridge. The family of Bahá’u’lláh moved into the Garden, and the River overflowed a second time.

Day 12

The flooding subsided again on the twelfth day, and everyone went across the River to enter the presence of Bahá’u’lláh.

The day at last came to a close, and Bahá’u’lláh announced that He would be leaving the coming afternoon.

Day 13

This news spread; throughout the final day, visitors and the authorities of Baghdad thronged to the garden to present their final farewells.

Visitor – Alusi, the Mufti of Baghdad

A renowned jurist expert in the religious law was among the visitors. His eyes dimmed with tears, he heaped curses upon the Shah for bringing about Bahá’u’lláh’s exile from Baghdad, exclaiming in a play on the monarch’s name, that he was not the Helper but the Abaser of Religion.

Visitor – Governor, Namiq Pasha

The Governor himself, who in place of himself had sent a deputy to the mosque to convey the message of exile, crossed the river and visited Bahá’u’lláh. Expressing his utmost regret at the developments, he assured Bahá’u’lláh that whatever He chose to command, they would be ready to carry it out for Him. He handed a written order to the officer who would be accompanying Bahá’u’lláh, instructing the governors of the provinces near the exiles would pass, to extend them the utmost consideration. Bahá’u’lláh assured him that they had everything necessary, and all along the route, Bahá’u’lláh never permitted them to accept the exactions instructed by the Governor, always buying and paying for their own supplies. To the Governor’s insistent and repeated offers of service, Bahá’u’lláh said that he should keep in mind His loved ones and deal with them with kindness. The Governor assented with unhesitating warmth to this, and found good occasion to serve their needs and protect them from violent attacks.

Enemies’ Regret

The Governor remarked that in the face of such deep-seated devotion, sympathy and esteem from high and low, those who had so tirelessly sought the order for His banishment and then rejoiced at their success, were now bitterly regretting their act, and even more insistent that Bahá’u’lláh should now remain!

Governor’s Horse

The Governor also had a very beautiful horse, and wished to send it to Istanbul. He requested if Bahá’u’lláh’s men might look after it, and this Bahá’u’lláh granted.

Departure from Ridván Garden

After much time, the mules were loaded; eight or nine howdahs settled on them and closed up, and the ladies and children took their seats, some of these of the most joltering kind. Different people would be serving in different ways. A Turkish owner of pack mules was in charge of the baggage; the Master was on horseback, and with a number of others was watching the animals. One man stood in charge of supplies, for lending out any needed articles and seeing they were returned. All the young men, and others able to ride, mounted on their horses or rode on mules, and in the late afternoon of 3 May 1863, at the moment of the full moon, the company began upon its way, escorted by some Turkish soldiers, who behaved very respectfully to the exiles even though they were prisoners. So extraordinary was the influence of Bahá’u’lláh’s personality, that all who came within its lines of force were affected and offered their courtesy.

Horse Brought and Mounted

During His many years in Baghdad, Bahá’u’lláh had always chosen to ride a donkey rather than a horse. Towards sunset, amidst all the commotion, his lovers brought over an Arabian horse of the finest breed, the best they could afford. As Bahá’u’lláh’s foot reached the stirrup, the red stallion bent its knees, and lowered itself, causing the people to lament ever louder. Bahá’u’lláh spoke to the horse approvingly as it recognised Who was about to mount him, and this remark burnt the hearts of everyone, until they became wholly unconscious of themselves. Bahá’u’lláh showered everyone with sweet words of consolation, and He waved farewell to all. As He mounted and was ready to depart, there was a great outpouring of grief. The lamentation, anguish and heart-rending, unbearable cries of distress of the friends and the sorrow and mourning of all the people was such that no one can ever depict. Time and again the call, ‘God is the Greatest!’ rang out from amongst the crowd.

Those who were to remain

Those who Bahá’u’lláh had indicated were to remain behind stood in a row. They were so entirely overcome with sorrow, that they all burst into tears. Bahá’u’lláh drew back up to them, and consoled them. He assured them it was better for the Cause that they should stay behind. He said that there were some with a tendency for causing mischief, and He was therefore taking them with Him. One of the friends was utterly beyond all control of anguish and sorrow, and addressed the crowd with a poem, declaring, “Let us all rise, to weep like the clouds of Spring; when lovers become separated from their Beloved, you hear even the wailings of the stones!”

Bahá’u’lláh was so moved by this, remarking how the poem was for just such a day.

Those fortunate enough to depart with Bahá’u’lláh were sobbing and crying with them, their tears pouring out of their eyes. The clergy, jurists, rulers and commoners were all crying and weeping with them.

Bahá’u’lláh mounted His horse again. One of the friends placed a sack of coins in front of the saddle, and Bahá’u’lláh distributed the coins amongst the poor who were standing by and wailing. They broke out of their order, and rushed over to Him in an unruly way. He showered the coins out among them, saying, “Gather them yourselves!”

Cannon Fired

The Governor was anxious in case Bahá’u’lláh should leave at a perilous astrological time, and hoped He would abandon the departure. He arranged for a cannon to fire at the very moment Bahá’u’lláh mounted His horse, so he would be able to determine the astrological conditions. As Bahá’u’lláh departed, the cannon burst out, and in great astonishment he discovered the sun had just moved out from the ill-omened sign into a favourable one, leaving him quite stunned by Bahá’u’lláh’s effortless awareness of every detail.

On the Move

The steed moved, and everyone shouted, “God is most Glorious – Upon Him rest Majesty and Splendour!” That day witnessed for the first time Bahá’u’lláh’s splendid horsemanship. Heads on every side bowed down to the dust at the feet of His horse and kissed its hoofs; countless individuals pressed forward to embrace His stirrups. Many cast themselves in front of the horse, preferring death to separation. It seemed as if it were a heavenly steed passing over blessed bodies and pure hearts. Throughout the multitude was the murmur and cry that the tumult of the Hour of Gathering and Resurrection was unfolding before their very own eyes. Each would speak with his neighbour of the mysteries of this Manifestation.

The scenes of tumultuous enthusiasm were as spectacular and even more touching than at His departure for the Garden. Believers and unbelievers alike sobbed and lamented, and the chiefs and notables congregated there were struck with wonder, as no one escaped the all-encompassing emotions, rising up to such heights that no tongue could ever describe.

Among the bowing and fervent multitude of admirers, the affection and grief was visible all around. Through the power of God, Bahá’u’lláh rode forth from the Garden with such majesty and power as none could fail to acknowledge. The marks of homage and devotion continued to surround Him until He reached Istanbul.

Left Behind

Those left behind saw Bahá’u’lláh disappear from their sight toward an unknown destination, amidst the company of his family and twenty-six disciples. Sad at heart and utterly distressed in soul, as they returned empty-hearted and disconsolate to Baghdad, little did they know that Bahá’u’lláh was like the sun starting to rise towards its zenith; yet they felt unspeakable joy surging within them, overcoming all their bitter sorrows with a great and mysterious radiancy. The friends gathered together and encouraged each other to spread out and teach what had just been declared, and though actively serving the Cause, all their hearts wished for was to find their way near Bahá’u’lláh.

Following Bahá’u’lláh

Bahá’u’lláh made it known that anyone accompanying Him on the journey without permission would come to no good. Many of His friends chose to abandon Baghdad nevertheless and accompany Bahá’u’lláh in His wanderings.

One companion ran after Him for three hours. Bahá’u’lláh saw him, and getting down from His horse, awaited him. He told him with His beautiful voice full of love and kindness, to go back to Baghdad, and with the friends set about work full of energy and joy.

Bahá’u’lláh comforted him, saying He was leaving the friends He loved in Baghdad and would send them news of His welfare, and counselled them to be steadfast in their service to God and accept His Will, living in such peace as they might be allowed.

They watched Bahá’u’lláh disappear off into the darkness with sinking hearts, knowing His enemies were powerful and cruel, not knowing where they were all being taken. Weeping bitterly, they turned their faces sooner or later towards Baghdad, determining to live according to His command.

Learning of the Declaration

Whether journeying with Him or remaining in Baghdad, most of Bahá’u’lláh’s companions only began to learn of His momentous declaration once He had reached Edirne and begun to spread it publicly.

As this news reached every ear, the friends were transported into worlds of exultation and new insight that shone constantly in their hearts and guided them throughout the years.

Tablet of Ridvan, chanted in Arabic

 

9th Day of Ridván – a Program for the Holy Day

In the Garden of Ridvan

 


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, 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)


Click to Listen to Story here 


On the ninth day, the River settled down and the flood-waters receded, allowing those in the old eastern side of the City to cross the boat bridge. The family of Bahá’u’lláh moved into the Garden, and the River overflowed a second time.


Four days before the caravan was to set out, the Blessed Perfection called Abbas Effendi into his tent and told him that he himself was the one whose coming had been promised by the Bab – the Chosen of God, the Centre of the Covenant. A little later, and before leaving the garden, he selected from among his disciples four others, to whom he made the same declaration. He further said to these five that for the present he enjoined upon them secrecy as to this communication, as the time had not come for a public declaration; but that there were reasons which caused him to deem it necessary to make it at that time to a few whom he could trust. These reasons he did not state; but they are to my mind suggested by the subsequent events which I shall narrate farther on, and which I think he at that time anticipated, and in view of which he felt that he needed special protection. (Myron Henry Phelps and Bahiyyih Khanum, Life and Teachings of Abbas Effendi, p. 30)


Whilst He tarried in the Ridvan, the appointed time had arrived for the momentous proclamation. Bahá’u’lláh confided to the eldest son, ‘Abbas, the Master, that He Himself was “He Whom God shall make Manifest,” heralded by the Forerunner, the Bab. As the Master heard the soul-stirring words, and realized that His own beloved Father was He Who should educate mankind in universal conceptions, abolish prejudices, bring unity and the most Great Peace into the distracted world, establish the Kingdom of God upon this sad earth, by making religion again a healing spring for all woes of the world, He understood why the Manifestation had once again become the cause of evil men’s hatred and malignant persecution.

As these things were pondered by the Master, His mind, well-endowed with a peculiar receptiveness that was inborn, and strengthened by the education given to Him by His Father, saw, as in a radiant vision, the world of the future, when the divine Message, having become known and comprehended by “men of goodwill,” would change the heart of the world, and the Kingdom where God’s will shall be done on earth – for which we have been praying for nigh two thousand years – would be established.

Henceforth a new joy and increased devotion to His Father, Bahá’u’lláh (The Glory of God) took possession of Him. He consecrated Himself, body and soul and spirit, to the sacred work of the Bahá’í Cause, spreading abroad the new message of Love and Justice, that message which His Holiness the Lord Christ had brought to man, and which man had grown to disregard, forgetting his loyalty to the Lord of Compassion, and, as of old, worshipping the Golden Calf.  (Lady Sarah Louisa Blomfield , The Chosen Highway)


From the time when the declaration was made to him at Baghdad Abbas Effendi seemed to constitute himself the special attendant, servant, and body-guard of his father. He guarded him day and night on this journey, riding by his wagon and watching near his tent. He thus had little sleep, and, being young, became extremely weary. His horse was Arab and very fine, and so wild and spirited that no other man could mount him, but under my brother’s hand as gentle and docile as a lamb. In order to get a little rest, he adopted the plan of riding swiftly a considerable distance ahead of the caravan, when, dismounting and causing his horse to lie down, he would throw himself on the ground and place his head on his horse’s neck. So he would sleep until the cavalcade came up, when his horse would awake him by a kick and he would remount.  (Myron Henry Phelps and Bahiyyih Khanum, Life and Teachings of Abbas Effendi)


It took some time for the news of Bahá’u’lláh’s Declaration to reach the believers in Persia. In the first place, methods of communication were still primitive. Secondly, the dissemination of such important news had to be carried out with wisdom. Only the insight and devotion of Bahá’u’lláh’s disciples could bring this about, which is one of the reasons that Bahá’u’lláh sent a number of the ablest among them to Persia to teach His Cause there.  (Adib Taherzadeh, The Revelation of Baha’u’llah: Baghdad 1853-6, v.1, p. 286).


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)


About the Ridvan Garden outside of ‘Akka’ explained by Hand of the Cause Mr. Faizi – Introduction by Hand of the Cause Mr. Khadem

 


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)


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.”

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. 30-32)


Tablet of Ridvan

 

Ist Day of Ridvan – A Program for the Holy Day

In the Garden of Ridvan


God is My witness, O people! I am come to you with a revelation from the Lord, your God, the Lord of your fathers of old (The Proofs of Baha’u’llah’s Mission pii)


On the very first day of the Ridván festivities, Bahá’u’lláh shone out to the world like the most brilliant sun. At that critical hour and without warning, amidst the unending multitude of interrupting visitors thronging His tent and the dangers such a news would bring to His exile, Bahá’u’lláh chose to lay bare the mystery surrounding His person, and assume the power and authority of the One promised by the Báb. He made known how the effulgence of the Eternal Truth had at that moment infused all created things with the life of every divine quality, immersing creation in the sea of purification; the sword was to be utterly cast from reach; and He made it known that the next Messenger would come to the world after a thousand years. In such a way, and through many signs, Bahá’u’lláh conveyed His position to those who were present, and announced with great joy the start of the Festival of Ridvan. Though on the threshold of His exile into great suffering in far-away lands, yet sadness and grief entirely vanished from everyone’s hearts, and was replaced with unclouded delight.  http://www.paintdrawer.co.uk/david/folders/Spirituality/001%3DBahai/Ridvan.htm


He is God, Glorified be He;
Grandeur and Might are His!

On the morning of the blessed Friday we proceeded from the Mansion and entered the Garden. Every tree uttered a word, and every leaf sang a melody. The trees proclaimed: ‘Behold the evidences of God’s Mercy’ and the twin streams recited in the eloquent tongue the sacred verse ‘From us all things were made alive’. Glorified be God! Mysteries were voiced by them, which provoked wonderment. Methought: in which school were they educated, and from whose presence had they acquired their learning? Yea! This Wronged One knoweth and He saith: ‘From God, the All-Encompassing, the Self-Subsistent.’

Upon Our being seated, Rádíyih, (a sister of Munírih Khánum, the wife of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’), upon her be My glory, attained Our presence on thy behalf, laid the table of God’s bounty and in thy name extended hospitality to all present. In truth, all that which stimulateth the appetite and pleaseth the eye was offered, and indeed that which delighteth the ear could also be heard as the leaves were stirred by the Will of God, and from this movement a refreshing voice was raised, as if uttering a blissful call inviting the absent to this Feast. God’s power and the perfection of His handiwork could enjoyably be seen in the blossoms, the fruits, the trees, the leaves and the streams. Praised be God who hath thus confirmed thee and her.

In brief, all in the Garden were recipients of the choicest bounties and in the end expressed their thanksgiving unto their Lord. O that all God’s beloved would have been present on this day!

We beseech God, exalted be He, to cause to descend upon thee at every moment, a blessing and a mercy and a measure of divine grace from His presence. He is the Forgiving, the All-Glorious.

We send greetings to His loved ones, and supplicate for each one of them that which is worthy of mention and is acceptable in His presence. Peace be upon thee, and upon God’s sincere servants. Praise be to Him, the Lord of all mankind.  (The Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh, Vol. 4, (Oxford, George Ronald, 1987). pp. 15-16)


The Governor of Baghdad at this time was a relative of my father, but his enemy on account of differences in religious opinion and family misunderstandings. This man, rendered uncomfortable by the sight of my father’s increasing fame and influence, exerted himself to effect his removal from Baghdad. He caused representations to be made to the Shah of Persia that, whereas Beha Ullah had been driven out of Persia because of the harm threatened by his presence to the Mohammedan religion in that country, now he was injuring the religion even more in Baghdad, and still exerting his evil influence in Persia; and that therefore he ought to be removed to a place at a greater distance from that country, and one where he could do less harm.

These representations and suggestions he sent repeatedly to the Court of Persia, until at length the Shah was moved to use his influence with the Sultan of Turkey to have the Bábís transferred from Baghdad to Constantinople. An order to this effect was at length made by the Sultan.

When this news came to us, from which we inferred that my father would again be made a prisoner, we were thrown into consternation, fearing another separation. He was summoned before the magistrates. My brother imperiously declared that he would go in his stead; but this our father overruled, and went himself. Great numbers of his followers had assembled about our house, and these witnessed his departure with many demonstrations of grief, feeling that it was possible that he might not return,

The magistrates expressed great sorrow to my father; they said that they respected and loved him, that they had not instigated the order, but that they were powerless to suspend or modify it, and must proceed with its execution. My father remained in conference with them nearly all day, but could do nothing to avert the catastrophe. When he returned, he told us that we must prepare to set out for Constantinople in two weeks.

This report was like a death-knell to his followers, who were still gathered about the house. Many of them were Arabs; their fierce natures rebelled and they gave way to violent remonstrances. They implored the Blessed Perfection not to desert them. ‘You are our shepherd,’ they said; ‘without you we must die.’

The next day they so overran the house that we could not prepare for the journey. Then the Blessed Perfection proposed to go with Abbas Effendi to the garden of one of our friends and live there in a tent till the time of departure, that the family might be able to proceed with the packing. This remark was repeated and misunderstood, and the rumour circulated among the believers that the Blessed Perfection was to be taken away alone. Then they came pouring in by hundreds, so wild with grief that they could not be pacified; and when my father started to leave the house with my brother they threw themselves upon the ground before him. One man who had an only child, which had come to him late in his life, stripped the clothes from the child’s body and placing it at my father’s feet cried, ‘Naked I give you my child, my precious child, to do with as you will; only promise not to leave us in distress. Without you we cannot live.’

Then, as the only way in which to soothe his followers, the Blessed Perfection took all his family to the garden, leaving to friends the preparation of his household goods for the journey. Here we pitched tents and lived in them for two weeks. The tents made, as it were, a little village, that of my father, which he occupied alone, in the centre.  (Myron Henry Phelps and Bahiyyih Khanum, Life and Teachings of Abbas Effendi, p. 27-31)


The sun was westering on 22 April 1863 (the thirty-second day after Naw-Ruz) when Baha’u’llah walked, for the last time, out of the house that, for many years, had been His home in the city of the ‘Abbasids, and made His way to the bank of the Tigris, where a quffih awaited to take Him to the further bank, to the garden of Najib Pasha (known as the Najibiyyih). The thoroughfare to the riverside brimmed with people, men and women, young and old, from all walks of life, who had gathered to see Him go and bewail His departure. Baha’u’llah, as he walked to the bank of the Tigris, gave generously to the poor and the deprived, and consoled and comforted the people who were never to see Him again. But they were now so acutely conscious of their evident and grievous loss that words failed to console them.

And it must be remembered that the vast majority of them were men and women not in any way connected with the Faith of the Bab. Ibn-Allisi, a leading cleric of the Sunni community, was seen weeping over their plight, and he was heard to heap imprecations on Nasiri’d-Din Shah, who was generally held responsible for Baha’u’llah’s exile from Baghdad. ‘This man is not Nasiri’d-Din – the Helper of Religion; he is Mukhdhili’d-Din – the Abaser of Religion.’ Such being the reaction of men in high position not affiliated to the Faith of the Bab, one can better imagine the feelings of those Babis who, perforce, had to remain in Baghdad. Aqa Rida writes that so disconsolate were they that those who were to accompany Bahá’u’lláh sorrowed with them. ‘God alone knows’, he writes, ‘how those believers who were not to come fared on that day.’

It was springtime and the garden of Najib Pasha, henceforth to become known to the Baha’is as the Garden of Ridvan (Paradise), was aflame with the brilliant hues of roses, and their bloom was superabundant on that day. Those who have written of that April 22nd in the Garden of Ridvan linger particularly over the beauty of the roses and the bounties and blessings of nature. It was fitting for such a day, when nature was so gladsome and the hearts of men so weighed with sadness, that it should also bring the joyous tiding of the Divine Springtime. (H. M. Balyuzi, Baha’u’llah The King of Glory, p, 168-169)

 

 

The Divine Springtime is come, O Most Exalted Pen, for the Festival of the All-Merciful is fast approaching. Bestir thyself, and magnify, before the entire creation, the name of God, and celebrate His praise, in such wise that all created things may be regenerated and made new. Speak, and hold not thy  peace. 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. Arise before the nations of the earth, and arm thyself with the power of this Most Great Name, and be not of those who tarry.

Methinks that thou hast halted and movest not upon My Tablet. Could the brightness of the Divine Countenance have bewildered thee, or the idle talk of the froward filled thee with grief and paralyzed thy movement? 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 the earth. Preferrest thou to tarry when the breeze announcing the Day of God hath already breathed over thee, or art thou of them that are shut out as by a veil from Him?

No veil whatever have I allowed, O Lord of all names and Creator of the heavens, to shut me from the recognition of the glories of Thy Day — the Day which is the lamp of guidance unto the whole world, and the sign of the Ancient of Days unto all them that dwell therein. My silence is by reason of the veils that have blinded Thy creatures’ eyes to Thee, and my muteness is because of the impediments that have hindered Thy people from recognizing Thy truth.  Thou knowest what is in me, but I know not what is in Thee. Thou art the All-Knowing, the All-Informed. By Thy name that excelleth all other names! If Thy overruling and all-compelling behest should ever reach me, it would empower me to revive the souls of all men, through Thy most exalted Word, which I have heard uttered by Thy Tongue of power in Thy Kingdom of glory. It would enable me to announce the revelation of Thy effulgent countenance where through that which lay hidden from the eyes of men hath been manifested in Thy name, the Perspicuous, the sovereign Protector, the Self-Subsisting.

Canst thou discover any one but Me, O Pen, in this Day? What hath become of the creation and the manifestations thereof? What of the names and their kingdom? Whither are gone all created things, whether seen or unseen? What of the hidden secrets of the universe and its revelations? Lo, the entire creation hath passed away! Nothing remaineth except My Face, the Ever-Abiding, the Resplendent, the All-Glorious.

This is the Day whereon naught can be seen except the splendors of the Light that shineth from the face of Thy Lord, the Gracious, the Most Bountiful. 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.

This is the Day whereon the unseen world crieth out: “Great is thy blessedness, O earth, for thou hast been made the foot-stool of thy God, and been chosen as the seat of His mighty throne.” The realm of glory exclaimeth: “Would that my life could be sacrificed for thee, for He Who is the Beloved of the All-Merciful hath established His sovereignty upon thee, through the power of His Name that hath been promised unto all things, whether of the past or of the future.” This is the Day whereon every sweet smelling thing hath derived its fragrance from the smell of My garment — a garment that hath shed its perfume upon the whole of creation. This is the Day whereon the rushing waters of everlasting life have gushed out of the Will of the All-Merciful. Haste ye, with your hearts and souls, and quaff your fill, O Concourse of the realms above!

Say: He it is Who is the Manifestation of Him Who is the Unknowable, the Invisible of the Invisibles, could ye but perceive it. 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. Would that ye might set your hearts and hopes upon Him!

We have heard the voice of thy pleading, O Pen, and excuse thy silence. What is it that hath so sorely bewildered thee?

The inebriation of Thy presence, O Well-Beloved of all worlds, hath seized and possessed me.

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.”

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 cup of everlasting life. Approach, and quaff your fill. Drink with healthy relish, O ye that are the very incarnations of longing, ye who are the embodiments of vehement desire!”

This is the Day whereon He Who is the Revealer of the names of God hath stepped out of the Tabernacle of glory, and proclaimed unto all who are in the heavens and all who are on the earth: “Put away the cups of Paradise and all the life-giving waters they contain, for lo, the people of Baha have entered the blissful abode of the Divine Presence, and quaffed the wine of reunion, from the chalice of the beauty of their Lord, the All-Possessing, the Most High.”

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 splendor 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.

Look not upon the creatures of God except with the eye of kindliness and of mercy, for Our loving providence hath pervaded all created things, and Our grace encompassed the earth and the heavens. This is the Day whereon the true servants of God partake of the life-giving waters of reunion, the Day whereon those that are nigh unto Him are able to drink of the soft-flowing river of immortality, and they who believe in His unity, the wine of His Presence, through their recognition of Him Who is the Highest and Last End of all, in Whom the Tongue of Majesty and Glory voiceth the call: “The Kingdom is Mine. I, Myself, am, of Mine own right, its Ruler.”

Attract the hearts of men, through the call of Him, the one alone Beloved. Say: This is the Voice of God, if ye do but hearken. This is the Day Spring of the Revelation of God, did ye but know it. This is the Dawning-Place of the Cause of God, were ye to recognize it. This is the Source of the commandment of God, did ye but judge it fairly. This is the manifest and hidden Secret; would that ye might perceive it. O peoples of the world! Cast away, in My name that transcendeth all other names, the things ye possess, and immerse yourselves in this Ocean in whose depths lay hidden the pearls of wisdom and of utterance, an ocean that surgeth in My name, the All-Merciful.  Thus instructeth you He with Whom is the Mother Book.

The Best-Beloved is come. In His right hand is the sealed Wine of His name. Happy is the man that turneth unto Him, and drinketh his fill, and exclaimeth: “Praise be to Thee, O Revealer of the signs of God!” By the righteousness of the Almighty! Every hidden thing hath been manifested through the power of truth. All the favors of God have been sent down, as a token of His grace. The waters of everlasting life have, in their fullness, been proffered unto men. Every single cup hath been borne round by the hand of the Well-Beloved. Draw near, and tarry not, though it be for one short moment.

Blessed are they that have soared on the wings of detachment and attained the station which, as ordained by God, overshadoweth the entire creation, whom neither the vain imaginations of the learned, nor the multitude of the hosts of the earth have succeeded in deflecting from His Cause. Who is there among you, O people, who will renounce the world, and draw nigh unto God, the Lord of all names? Where is he to be found who, through the power of My name that transcendeth all created things, will cast away the things that men possess, and cling, with all his might, to the things which God, the Knower of the unseen and of the seen, hath bidden him observe? Thus hath His bounty been sent down unto men, His testimony fulfilled, and His proof shone forth above the Horizon of mercy. Rich is the prize that shall be won by him who hath believed and exclaimed: “Lauded art Thou, O Beloved of all worlds! Magnified be Thy name, O Thou the Desire of every understanding heart!”

Rejoice with exceeding gladness, O people of Baha, 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. God is Our witness. Were We to reveal the hidden secrets of that Day, all they 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 Him Who is the Revealer of His undoubted proofs, that His Pen can move no longer. With these words He concludeth His Tablet: “No God is there but Me, the Most Exalted, the Most Powerful, the Most Excellent, the All-Knowing.  (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 33-35)


While writers and chroniclers have left copious accounts of the throngs of people., their expression of sorrow., the excellence of the skilled work of the gardeners., nothing is said of how Baha’u’llah made His long-awaited Declaration. (H. M. Balyuzi, Baha’u’llah The King of Glory, p, 173)

In the words of the Guardian of the Baha’i Faith:

Of the exact circumstances attending that epoch-making Declaration we, alas, are but scantily informed. The words Bahá’u’lláh actually uttered on that occasion, the manner of His Declaration, the reaction it produced, its impact on Mirza Yahya, the identity of those who were privileged to hear Him, are shrouded in an obscurity which future historians will find it difficult to penetrate. The fragmentary description left to posterity by His chronicler Nabil is one of the very few authentic records we possess of the memorable days He spent in that garden. (Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 152)

Happy Ridvan to Everyone!

Bahá’u’lláh’s Declaration of His Mission

The greatest of Bahá’í festivals, the Festival of Ridván, is here. For a period of 12 days starting on April 21st, Bahá’ís around the world will celebrate Bahá’u’lláh’s public declaration of His mission, an event which took place on the eve of His departure from Baghdád for Constantinople. No less than three Holy Days are celebrated in the course of this time period, and elections for Local and National Spiritual Assemblies take place.

The significance of Ridván for Bahá’ís can’t be overstated. In 1844, the Báb had arisen to proclaim the coming of a great Messenger from God, the Promised One of all religions. During His six-year ministry, which culminated in His public execution on July 9, 1850, the Báb called the people of Persia to purify themselves in preparation for the arrival of “He whom God shall make manifest.” Bahá’u’lláh, one of the Báb’s foremost followers, was imprisoned in 1853 on false charges. While in prison, He experienced a revelation from God in which He learned that He was to be that Promised One. But upon His release from prison a few months later, He told no one of this experience. Indeed, for ten years, the entire duration of His exile in Baghdád, He kept silent on this matter. Even so, His character, wisdom, and deep spiritual insight affected all who came into contact with Him.

His growing influence prompted the authorities to seek to move Him to another place. Baghdád was an important crossroads at that time, and it was feared that the new religion might be spread far and wide if He were permitted to stay there, coming into contact with travelers from all quarters. Arrangements were therefore made to transfer Bahá’u’lláh and His party to Constantinople.

On the eve of His departure, Bahá’u’lláh took up residence in a garden which has since become known to Bahá’ís as the Garden of Ridván. (Just to confuse matters, there is also a Garden of Ridván near Mazra’ih and Bahjí, where Bahá’u’lláh spent His last days.) He spent 12 days there in preparation for the long journey ahead. Guests flowed into the garden, rich and poor, powerful and lowly, all paying respects to the great Personage whose influence had touched them all. Sometime during the midst of all this activity, Bahá’u’lláh declared to the gathered Bábís that He was the Promised One spoken of by the Báb.

“Ridván” means “Paradise”, from which we can gather something of what the atmosphere must have felt like during that 12-day period. In God Passes By, Shoghi Effendi recounts the tale thus:

Of the exact circumstances attending that epoch-making Declaration we, alas, are but scantily informed. The words Bahá’u’lláh actually uttered on that occasion, the manner of His Declaration, the reaction it produced, its impact on Mirzá Yahyá [Bahá’u’lláh’s half-brother, who later tried to usurp His position and made several attempts on His life], the identity of those who were privileged to hear Him, are shrouded in an obscurity which future historians will find it difficult to penetrate. The fragmentary description left to posterity by His chronicler Nabíl is one of the very few authentic records we possess of the memorable days He spent in that garden. “Every day,” Nabíl has related, “ere the hour of dawn, the gardeners would pick the roses which lined the four avenues of the garden, and would pile them in the center of the floor of His blessed tent. So great would be the heap that when His companions gathered to drink their morning tea in His presence, they would be unable to see each other across it. All these roses Bahá’u’lláh would, with His own hands, entrust to those whom He dismissed from His presence every morning to be delivered, on His behalf, to His Arab and Persian friends in the city.” “One night,” he continues, “the ninth night of the waxing moon, I happened to be one of those who watched beside His blessed tent. As the hour of midnight approached, I saw Him issue from His tent, pass by the places where some of His companions were sleeping, and begin to pace up and down the moonlit, flower-bordered avenues of the garden. So loud was the singing of the nightingales on every side that only those who were near Him could hear distinctly His voice. He continued to walk until, pausing in the midst of one of these avenues, He observed: ‘Consider these nightingales. So great is their love for these roses, that sleepless from dusk till dawn, they warble their melodies and commune with burning passion with the object of their adoration. How then can those who claim to be afire with the rose-like beauty of the Beloved choose to sleep?’ For three successive nights I watched and circled round His blessed tent. Every time I passed by the couch whereon He lay, I would find Him wakeful, and every day, from morn till eventide, I would see Him ceaselessly engaged in conversing with the stream of visitors who kept flowing in from Baghdád. Not once could I discover in the words He spoke any trace of dissimulation.”
(p. 153)

Many years later, Bahá’u’lláh would designate the Festival of Ridván “the Most Great Festival” and specify that the first, ninth, and twelfth days should be celebrated as Holy Days. The Bahá’í administrative year now begins on the First Day of Ridván with the election of Local and National Spiritual Assemblies as prescribed by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi. This is not accidental. The elections that renew the administrative order become part of the festivities.

Have a very happy Ridván!

by Dale E. Lehman
Appeared: 04/08/2000
Revised: 04/21/2001
http://www.planetbahai.org/cgi-bin/articles.pl?article=43