When you talk to the Baha’is of Iran, they completely break every social and emotional norm. They laugh, they continue to do their work and they hope. They have a very firm grip on hope despite all the attempts of the dark powers around them to make them feel hopeless and intimidated. Their love and patience challenges all anticipated norms. They smile, they laugh, they shower everyone with love, they stay calm and they observe as though they are sitting in the divine Titanic that knows no drowning and can never be defeated by the mountains of the ice of the vengeance and ignorance of the big powerful dark forces around them no matter how high. Where do they get this power from? How do they prove this conquest of love over wisdom? In His Hidden Words Baha’u’llah teaches,
O Son of Man, For every thing there is a sign. The sign of love is fortitude under My decree and patience under My trials.
The unquestioned fortitude and patience of the Baha’is of Iran reminds me of another amazing story from the early history of the Baha’i Faith. Some years ago at a youth conference in Phoenix Arizona I Listed to Mr. Aziz Yazdi telling us a story from the life of his father at the time of Baha’u’llah. The father of Aziz lived at the time of Baha’u’llah around 1880s. He lived a happy and comfortable life in Iran. In obedience to the decree of Baha’u’llah that God’s message of peace and oneness must be taken far and wide, Mr. Yazdi and two of his friends decided to leave Iran with their wives and gave up their well paying jobs to live and work in Egypt so they can share the Baha’i message of hope, oneness and progress with their Egyptian brothers and sisters. Aziz Yazdi said, his parents suffered many hardships as a result but they never felt abandoned. They were happy and full of hope. They made sure that the competitions common in the business world for money and power would never separated and divided the bonds of love and unity amongst them. Whatever money they made out of selling sewing notions during the day, they would put it all in one pot and then equally divide between the three families at the end of the day.
Years later, the father of Aziz Yazdi, obtained a small and empty shop in the Bazaar of the prison city of Akka mainly in the hope that he would get a glimmer of the radiant face of his Beloved Baha’u’llah.
One day, Abdu’l-Baha, the son of Baha’u’llah, who was in charge of the affairs of the family and the Baha’i friends in the prison City of Akka, came to Mr. Yazdi’s shop with the message that Baha’u’llah wishes him to get on board of the ship in the harbor which is taking the pilgrims to Jeddeh that day. Mr. Yazdi was delighted to be asked for a service and thought this might win him the chance to see Baha’u’llah before he departs. He asked Abdu’l-Baha if he can have the bounty of seeing Baha’u’llah. Abdu’l-Baha said no, Baha’u’llah wishes you to leave instantly, now. Mr. Yazdi, jumped immediately, closed his shop and rushed to the harbor realizing that the ship was ready to leave with a huge crowd of Muslim pilgrims on board. He jumped in and took his place standing and leaning on the rails as the ship sailed away.
Soon the sun was setting and the sea got rough and the crowded ship began to tilt this way and that way and the pilgrims began to scream with fear and loose whatever they had eaten the hours before. Mr. Yazdi observed with serenity and calm trusting in his Beloved’s wish for him to reach Jeddah to carry out a mission. He remembers saying to himself, why are these people so scared, what are they afraid of, don’t they see that I am on this ship and I am sent to go to Jeddeh?!
Finally the ship anchors and Mr. Yazdi gets off and starts to walk on the streets of Jeddeh. All of a sudden it crosses his mind that he does not know what he is supposed to do once in Jeddeh and he thinks; “my Beloved did not tell me what I am here to do.” For a second or two, he feels lost and then he corrects himself and says, Baha’u’llah has told me and I must know why I am hear and continues to walk. Soon he hears, in this Arabic speaking country, the voice of a man speaking in Persian right behind him. He turns around and to his great delight and surprise, finds himself face to face with his old and beloved friend Haji Mirza Haidar Ali. He knew Haji was in prison for over 14 years in Sahara and Sudan for being a Baha’i. The two friends hug and kiss and cry of joy finding each other again after so many years.
Mr. Yazdi feels grateful to Baha’u’llah for having given him this most special chance to rescue his old friend after years of imprisonment when he had no money and no shelter wandering the streets of Jeddeh. For years later, Mr. Yazdi used to say how grateful he was to God for having obeyed the command of his Lord, realizing that if he had missed the boat he would have never known what a God given opportunity he had lost because, to begin with, Abdu’l-Baha did not tell him why he must go to Jeddeh, only that Baha’u’llah wishes him to go.
Yes indeed as baha’u’llah says “The sign of love is fortitude under My decree and patience under My trials.” And the Baha’is of Iran are today a proof and a witness to the magnificent power of fortitude and patience under severe trials.
The Dart Wader of ignorance is lashing hard on every inch of their existence. The Islamic Republic Government takes their jobs, their homes, their fathers, their sons, their daughters, they liberty, their lives, banes their youth from attending university, raids their homes and home-schools, arrests the teachers, puts the nursing mothers and their babes in prison claiming they are spies, and yet the Baha’is show fortitude, smile, pray and they keep pushing forward with hope and expectation of a greater day for all humanity.
What kind of spiritual education produces such super heroes and heroins in such mass production? The Baha’is of Iran have manifested an ocean of forgiveness, a mountain of understanding, a never ending abundance of hope and trust in humanity’s ultimate victory of peace and oneness. They draw from the powers of love and friendship of each other, honesty and integrity beyond question, prayer, examples of the Central figures of their faith who were wronged but refused to do wrong in order to liberate humanity from the prison of its natural self.
The vengeful killing of Atta’u’llah Ridvani has served as an added straw to bend the back of the camel of patience of many tolerant people around the world as they watch the atrocities of Iranian Islamic Republic Regime and love and patience of the Baha’i communities in Iran and around the world as a response to it. How else can humanity understand this prolonged aggression aimed at the gazelles of the mead of love and peace and see them being cut and perish in the claws of the wolves of ignorance and violence who have had the rein over the meek to do as they please, but to believe and trust that the divine wisdom in His love for humanity desires to see the conquest of good over evil, light over darkness, Luke Sky Walker over Dart Wader?
The heroic perseverance and loving resilience of the Baha’i community in Iran and elsewhere is to be celebrated and applauded in the theaters of the hearts of all who are able to see their nobility and hear their cry.
In many religious traditions we hear that God has created man to know Him and to love Him. Love is a mighty claim and like all mighty powers and divine attributes cannot be proven just by claim. The Baha’is of Iran are placed on the altar of understanding and sacrifice for the sake of love of God and hooray to all of them for proving the powers of love so God can show His wisdom in liberating man from the idle fancies of division, vain imagination, arrogance, jealousy and blind obedience.
Throughout its 170 years of history, in response to violence and aggression, the Baha’i community of Iran has proven that you can only defeat the forces of darkness if you do not let go of your God given light.
Yes, this is the drama of the dance between love of the meek and wisdom of the almighty. This is the battle between the light of guidance and dark forces of ignorance and we all trust that the ending will be good for all humanity; a consolation to everyone’s heart.
I cannot help but to move into tears by their noble example. They baffle the common sense and fly the flag of love for God and all humanity way up high.