'O SON OF JUSTICE! Whither can a lover go but to the land of his beloved? and what seeker findeth rest away from his heart’s desire? To the true lover reunion is life, and separation is death. His breast is void of patience and his heart hath no peace. A myriad lives he would forsake to hasten to the abode of his beloved'.~ Bahá’u’lláh
'The Last Sleep of Arthur in Avalon' (detail) by Edward Burne-Jones
I find the return of King Arthur to be one of the most poignant of British legends. Apparently this tale of the King slumbering beneath the earth to awake in time of Albion’s peril was first related in the Twelfth Century work ‘Otia Imperialia’ by Gervase of Tilbury. It was a tale enthusiastically taken up by British folklorists in the Nineteenth Century along with the poets and thinkers of Romanticism, Medievalism, and the Gothic Revival.
At the same time as this resurgence of interest in the Arthurian legend in the West, in Iran in 1844 the Báb revealed his status as the’ Mahdi’ or ‘Guided One’ prophesised in the Qur’an- a prophecy often conflated with the return of the ‘Hidden Imam of Shia eschatology. I see the Báb and his followers as practicing an almost Arthurian chivalric code when faced by the tyrannical forces ruling Iran at that time. Bábi history is replete with martial imagery such as the unfurling of the black banner of the Mahdi in the Iranian province of Khorrassan and the chivalry of the Báb’s faithful follower Mulla Husayn Bushrui, his first disciple or ‘Letter of the Living’.
The Báb was cruelly martyred in Tabriz in 1850 but not before prophesising the return yet again of mankind’s eternal spiritual hero…
On 12th April- after more than two years of extensive restoration and conservation work- the Shrine of the Bab on Mount Carmel, Haifa was newly unveiled. In 2008, the Shrine was declared – along with the Shrine of Baha’u'llah near Acre – as a site of “outstanding universal value” on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
IT is better to guide one soul than to possess all that is on earth, for as long as that guided soul is under the shadow of the Tree of Divine Unity, he and the one who hath guided him will both be recipients of God’s tender mercy, whereas possession of earthly things will cease at the time of death. The path to guidance is one of love and compassion, not of force and coercion. This hath been God’s method in the past, and shall continue to be in the future! He causeth him whom He pleaseth to enter the shadow of His Mercy. Verily, He is the Supreme Protector, the All-Generous.
There is no paradise more wondrous for any soul than to be exposed to God’s Manifestation in His Day, to hear His verses and believe in them, to attain His presence, which is naught but the presence of God, to sail upon the sea of the heavenly kingdom of His good-pleasure, and to partake of the choice fruits of the paradise of His divine Oneness.
I am delighted to hear of the recent decision by UNESCO that the resting places of Bahá’u'lláh and the Báb should be considered as part of the cultural heritage of humanity. It is a tribute to the influence of these Divine Messengers that the two places of Bahá’í pilgrimage are to be added to a list which includes the Taj Mahal and the Pyramids of Egypt. They are the first holy places of a religious tradition revealed in modern times to be given such a status. I find this very poignant given the injustice meted out to these two noble souls in their lifetime. The Báb was martyred in 1850 in the city of Tabriz and Bahá’u'lláh spent much of His adult life unjustly imprisoned by the Ottomans in the prison-city of Akka in Palestine. From such suffering has emerged the ‘Divine Springtime’ of a new revelation.
As if the prospect of being held in the notorious Evin Prison was not bad enough, simply disappearing altogether is even more worrying . My thoughts and prayers are with my Baha’i brothers and sisters Behrouz Tavakkoli, Saeid Rezaie, Fariba Kamalabadi, Vahid Tizfahm, Jamaloddin Khanjani, Afif Naeimi, and Mahvash Sabet who have not been heard from since their detention in Iran last week.
‘Is there any Remover of difficulties save God? Say: Praised be God! He is God! All are His servants, and all abide by His bidding’!