A Prayer For Gavin Welch

He is the Most Glorious!

O Lord my God!  Thou knowest that this servant is aflame with the fire of Thy love, dazed in the wilderness of longing for Thee, drawn onwards by the wondrous lights of Thy beauty, and making mention of Thee.  Make him soar with the wings of holiness to the kingdom of Thy verses, aid him with the confirmations of Thine invisible spirit, give him to drink of the cup of eternity from Thy sanctified hands, and let him attain the radiance of the rays shining forth from Thy beauty.  Verily, Thou art the Mighty and the Powerful.

Baha’u’llah, Ad`iyya Mubaraka, 60.  For my friend, Gavin Welch, who died yesterday.

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Why Some Prayers for Healing Are Not Answered

You have asked why these people have died, despite reciting supplications and reading prayers of healing for them.  Know that these prayers and supplications for healing affect a contingent fate, not a fixed, irrevocable fate.  Fate is of two kinds: contingent and irrevocable.  An irrevocable fate cannot change or alter.  If every sick person someone prays for were healed, no one would leave the elemental form and ascend from this world to the next to progress there because each time someone became sick, supplications would be made and he would be healed.   This contradicts the divine and consummate wisdom.  Rather, the purpose of asking for healing is to be protected from a contingent fate and to be guarded from a destiny that is not irrevocable.  For example, notice that this lamp has a known amount of oil and when it is completely consumed, it will certainly go out.  There will be no change or alteration.  However, benevolent prayers and asking for healing is the glass that protects the lamp from contrary winds so it is not extinguished by a contingent fate.

`Abdu’l-Baha, excerpted in Muntakhabati az athar hazrat `Abdu’l-Baha, 3:20.

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When Husayn b. Sayyab al-Basha was the governor of al-Ahsa’, the Arabs plotted against him.  Muhammad Al `Uzayr came and (his men) surrounded the Basha, fighting the Ottomans. They seized al-Ahsa’ and Muhammad Al `Uzayr ruled it.

After he died, his son `Ali Al Muhammad ruled al-Ahsa’.  His brother Dujayn Abu `Ar`ar killed him.  The place where `Ali was killed is near `Ayn al-Hawar and he is buried there.

When I was around age five, if I passed his grave I would say to myself, “Where is your sovereignty?  Where is your power?  Where is your courage?”

When he was alive, according to what they say, he was the most courageous person of his time and the strongest physically.  When I recalled his circumstances, I wept intensely for the changing circumstances of the world and for their shifts and reversals.

Such was my state.  When I was with children, I played as they did.  When I was alone, I contemplated and reflected.

Shaykh Ahmad al-Ahsa’i, Sira Dhatiyya (Autobiography).  Excerpted in Shams Hajar, 39-40.

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The True Torah

As for the story of Lot and his daughters and the apostasy of some of the prophets recorded in the Torah and the Psalms, these confused dreams are the words of historians among the People of the Book for which God has revealed no authority.  Know, then, that the Torah is only what was revealed in the tablets to Moses (peace be upon him) and what he was commanded to observe.  As for the stories, this is a historical matter.  They were written after Moses (peace be upon him) and the proof is that the final book records and reports on events that happened after Moses.  This is clear, unassailable evidence that the stories were written after Moses (peace be upon him).  Those words, which are stories and tales, are not dependable.  God revealed no authority for them because that noble Book and grand oration consists of the tablets that Moses came down the mountain with and the words he addressed to the tribe of Israel in a conclusive text of laws.  Therefore, do not be scandalized by the stories that issued from the pens of the historians who came after Moses because they are not the verses clearly set down in the scriptures and tablets.

`Abdu’l-Baha to Yusuf Bek Khusafi, excerpted by Ishraq Khavari, Muhadarat, 1:342.

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Reflecting on Ruins

I was often contemplative during my childhood.  If I was with other children, I played with them just as they played.  But everything was an occasion for contemplation, in which I excelled them.  If none of the children were with me, I would begin to contemplate and reflect.  I would gaze on ruins and crumbled walls and meditate on them, saying to myself, “This used to be a building, then it was destroyed.”  I wept when I recalled its inhabitants and how they had prospered.  I wept a great deal.

Shaykh Ahmad al-Ahsa’i, Sira Dhatiyya (Autobiography).  Excerpted in Shams Hajar, 39.

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Imams’ Words Keys to Understanding Shaykh Ahmad’s Allusions

If you want to know the truth, contemplate what I have said to you.  Do not turn to your rules or to the sciences of the people with which you are familiar; rather, contemplate my words with the gaze of the people of truth–your imams (upon them be peace) and God’s proofs to you and to all creation.  As for Sufis, philosophers, and theologians, they are neither God’s proofs to you nor to His creation, and they are not your imams.

Shaykh Ahmad al-Ahsa’i, Jawami` al-Kalam, 1:329.  Excerpted in Shams Hajar, 185-6.

I have frequently restated phrases and made repeated hints and allusions so that what I am trying to teach you will become clear.  It is possible that you have no familiarity with my intentions because your mind is familiar with the terminology of the people.  Most of their terminology differs in meaning from the path of the people of infallibility (upon them be peace) and the keys to understanding my intentions is their path (upon them be peace).

Shaykh Ahmad al-Ahsa’i, Sharh al-Masha`ir, 3.  Excerpted in Shams Hajar, 186.

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Changing Pronouns and Dropping “Say” in Prayers

In some of the revealed prayers and supplications it is written, “and make him.”  Is it considered interpolation if one recites, in a passage of entreaty, “and make me,” which is an addition by the speaker?  He replies that this does not constitute interpolation and both are permitted.  Likewise regarding the blessed words, “Say:  O Lord my God!” and “Say: Praise be God!”  It is correct to both drop “Say” and to pronounce it: pronouncing it on account of the sacredness of the blessed word, which issues forth from the mouth of the King of Oneness; and dropping it is permissible inasmuch as the appearance servitude and specificity is most evident in that mode.

Baha’u’llah, through his amanuensis Khadim Allah.  Excerpted in Amr va Khalq, 4:28.

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Hidden Substance That Can Destroy the World

No soul has or will ever comprehend the essence of divine wisdom.  In reality, the rational mind is a most great sign in humans and blessed are those who realize (its potential).  But despite its high station and lofty rank, it is evident that the rational mind is unable to comprehend most things because its awareness depends on the testimony of sight.  If the eye sees a palm tree, the rational mind does not comprehend the world of fruits, leaves, trees, branches, and twigs (hidden) in its seed.  How, then, could the rational mind, before seeing it, comprehend that a thing will be found in the world, a particle (dharra) of which can consume the whole planet and turn it to ashes, obliterating it entirely?

Baha’u’llah, quoted in Ma’idih-yi Asmani, 8:100-1.  This is similar to his statement in the Words of Paradise: “Strange and astonishing things exist in the earth but they are hidden from the minds and understanding of men.  These things are capable of changing the whole atmosphere of the earth and their contamination would prove lethal.”  It is also echoed by `Abdu’l-Baha, speaking to a Japanese ambassador in 1911:  “There is in existence a stupendous force, as yet, happily, undiscovered by man.  Let us supplicate God, the Beloved, that this force be not discovered by science until spiritual civilization shall dominate the human mind.  In the hands of men of lower material nature, this power would be able to destroy the whole earth.”

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Baha’u’llah’s Innate Nature

Among the people is he who opposes God publicly.  If the verses of God are recited to him, his face grows dark and he returns to his people as one despised.  And among them is he who claimed that they were not revealed through (my) innate nature (fitra).  Say:  By God!  Innate nature was created by a single letter of those verses and what streams from my holy and wondrous pen bears witness to that.  And among them is he who slandered against God and said that this is nothing but a magician bewitching people.  What passed his lips destroyed his deeds.  He denied the prophets and the messengers and rebelled against the religion of God.

Baha’u’llah, Lawh al-Tuqa (Tablet of Piety), soon after his break with his brother Mirza Yahya in Edirne.  See Lambden for additional background and an alternative translation. For original, Athar-i Qalam-i A`la, 7:349.

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Fool’s Gold

One day in the outer part of the Blessed House (in Baghdad), one of the travelers from Tehran respectfully asked the Presence (Baha’u’llah), “How large of a stipend and expenditure does the Sadr A`zam (chancellor) allot you every month such that all the expenses which arise are completely taken care of?” (Baha’u’llah) said, “I should give the likes of the Sadr A`zam a salary, not them bestow it on me.  My affairs are with God and not in the trust of others.”

Someone else among the Tehran friends said, “During the days of your stay in Tehran you gave liberally and generously to all kinds of people. How is it possible that you do not give these kinds of gifts to the souls that are (now) around you?”  In answer, (Baha’u’llah) said, “If I behaved as I did previously, all would say that these souls are turning to the world because of this Cause and some would think that they possess the process of the elixir [i.e. that they know alchemy].”

Among those souls was Zayn al-`Abidin Khan.   Even though he had a lot of wealth, he lost his riches in search of the elixir in past years.   Those days he was in Baghdad and, greedy to take the elixir from the Blessed Beauty, he acted sincere and was friendly with Aqa Mirza Musa Kalim [Baha’u’llah’s brother].  Whatever Kalim tried, it was not possible to dissuade him. Zayn al-`Abidin Khan believed that the carpet of the glory of Abha was unfolded on account of the aforementioned work [alchemy] and that Kalim came to know the terminology (of the alchemical process) when he was a child in the presence of his father, who had conversed with those learned in this science. Because of (Kalim’s reticence), Zayn al-`Abidin Khan swore and said to him, “You know this process and are hiding it from me!”  Kalim knew the aforementioned process was impossible and jokingly said so to him.

(Zayn) became more obstinate in his belief until one day he showed Kalim the treatise of Jabir, which was written about the specification of the philosopher’s stone, and swore, “The smallest parts of this process are not hidden and I have made all of the symbols plain.” He swore that the symbols of the book were manifest to him.   Kalim, one day in the afternoon, obtained the treatise.   Unexpectedly, he heard the Blessed voice (Baha’u’llah) ask, “What are you busying yourself with, Kalim?” He arose, saying, “(I’m busy) with something that is sheer fancy and fiction.”   (Baha’u’llah) said, “Perhaps Zayn al-`Abidin Khan gave you the treatise of Jabir so that you would inform him of the hidden stone.” He said, “Yes, that is so.” The Abha Beauty set forth a detailed exposition on that process.

From that time, many questions have arisen from all sides and for each one there issued a Tablet concerning the aforementioned science. One time he said to Kalim, “Each person that says, ‘I have this process,’ his own soul proves his loss and lies.” By virtue of this, he prohibited busying oneself with it and working with these kinds of sciences, including divination (jafr) and geomancy (raml), was forbidden in most of the Tablets. (This was done) so that a deceiving person could not display himself in the cloth of trustworthiness and not exceed the limitations of himself, like Karim (Khan Kirmani), as addressed to him in the Iqan:  “We cherish the hope that either a king or a man of preeminent power may call upon him to translate this science from the realm of fancy to the domain of fact…”

Nabil Zarandi’s unpublished history, excerpted in Mazandarani, Zuhur al-Haqq, 4: 227-8.

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