Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Baha’i Fast -- How To, Part III

Photo © Baha’i International Community

“Since Thou hast adorned them, O my Lord, with the ornament of the fast prescribed by Thee, do Thou adorn them also with the ornament of Thine acceptance, through Thy grace and bountiful favor. For the doings of men are all dependent upon Thy good-pleasure, and are conditioned by Thy behest. Shouldst Thou regard him who hath broken the fast as one who hath observed it, such a man would be reckoned among them who from eternity had been keeping the fast. And shouldst Thou decree that he who hath observed the fast hath broken it, that person would be numbered with such as have caused the Robe of Thy Revelation to be stained with dust, and been far removed from the crystal waters of this living Fountain.” – Baha’u’llah

Brief excerpts from the
Writings of Baha’u’llah
wherein He is speaking explicitly of the Fast

The heading in bold print below is an arbitrary and subjective designation; the numbering is also arbitrary and has no significance other than for referencing within this site.

How To Fast

1. “…those who have observed the fast for love of Thee…”

2. “I have fasted for love of Thee…”

3. “…and in pursuance of Thine injunction…”

4. “…Thy servants who have turned towards the precincts of Thy court and the sanctuary of Thy presence, and have observed the fast for love of Thee.”

5. “For Thine ardent lovers Thou hast, according to Thy decree, reserved, at each daybreak, the cup of Thy remembrance…”

6. “…they forsake their couches in their longing to celebrate Thy praise and extol Thy virtues…”

7. “…and flee from sleep in their eagerness to approach Thy presence and partake of Thy bounty.”

8. “Abstain from food and drink from sunrise to sundown…”

9. “…beware lest desire deprive you of this grace…”

10. “…have broken my fast with Thy praise on my tongue and in conformity with Thy pleasure.

11. “…give me to drink of the wine of Thy mercy…”

12. “…and of the pure beverage of Thy favor…”

13. “…that I may so fix my gaze upon Thee and be so detached from all else but Thee, that the world and all that hath been created therein may appear before me as a fleeting day which Thou hast not deigned to create.”

14. “…Cause me to taste, O my Lord, the divine sweetness of Thy remembrance and praise.”

15. “I beseech Thee to grant that I may be assisted to observe the fast wholly for Thy sake, O Thou Who art full of majesty and glory!”

16. “Empower me, then, O my God, to be reckoned among them that have clung to Thy laws and precepts for the sake of Thee alone, their eyes fixed on Thy face.”

17. “…whose wine is all that hath proceeded out of the mouth of Thy primal will, whose pure beverage is Thine enthralling call…”

18. “Observe ye the commandments of God for love of His beauty…”

19. “…and be not of those who follow in the ways of the abject and foolish.”

20. “Cling firmly to obligatory prayer and fasting.”

21. “Blessed be the one who soareth with their aid in the heaven of the love of God, the Lord of all worlds.”

22. “Be not neglectful of obligatory prayer and fasting.”

23. “…observe the most great and exalted Fast, which is to protect one's eye from beholding whatever is forbidden…”

24. “…and to withhold one's self from food, drink…

25. “…and whatever is not of Him.”

26. “Fast ye for the sake of your Lord, the Mighty, the Most High.”

27. “…for the love of My Beauty…”

28. “Restrain yourselves from sunrise to sunset.”

29. “Cling ye to the cord of God's laws…”

30. “…him who hath fasted out of love for Thee and for Thy good-pleasure – and not out of self and desire, nor out of fear of Thy wrath…”

31. “I beg of Thee by Thy Name, the All-Glorious, to accept the fast of those who have fasted for love of Thee and for the sake of Thy good-pleasure and have carried out what Thou hast bidden them in Thy Books and Tablets.”

32. “We have observed the Fast in conformity with Thy bidding and break it now through Thy love and Thy good-pleasure.”

33. “We have fasted this day, O my Lord, by Thy command and Thy bidding in accordance with what Thou hast revealed in Thy perspicuous Book. We have withheld our souls from passion and from whatsoever Thou abhorrest until the day drew to an end and the time arrived to break the fast.”

34. [How not to fast:] “How many those who keep the fast in the daytime, only to protest against the One by Whose very command the ordinance of the fast was first established!”

“Do not bring our fasts to an end with this fast,
O my Lord,
nor the covenants Thou hast made
with this covenant.”


Key to the Sources (Alphabetically)

IOPF – The Importance of Obligatory Prayer and Fasting
KA – Kitab-i-Aqdas
PM – Prayers and Meditations By Baha'u'llah
SLH – Summons of the Lord of Hosts

Quote: “Since Thou hast adorned them…” (PM, pp. 67-68)
1. PM, p.67; 2. PM, p.80; 3. PM, p.80; 4. PM, p.81; 5. PM, p.143; 6. PM, p.143; 7. PM, p.143; 8. KA, p.25; 9. KA, p.25; 10. PM, p.80; 11. PM, p.81; 12. PM, p.81; 13. PM, pp. 81-82; 14. PM, pp. 82-83; 15. PM, p.299; 16. PM, p.299; 17. PM, p.299; 18. IOPF, Part 1, I; 19. IOPF, Part 1, I; 20. IOPF, Part 1, IV; 21. IOPF, Part 1, III; 22. IOPF, Part 1, VI; 23. IOPF, Part 1, XII; 24. IOPF, Part 1, XII; 25. IOPF, Part 1, XII; 26. IOPF, Part 1, XIII; 27. IOPF, Part 1, XIII; 28. IOPF, Part 1, XIII; 29. IOPF, Part 1, XIV; 30. IOPF, Part 3, I; 31. IOPF, Part 3, II; 32. IOPF, Part 3, III; 33. IOPF, Part 3, VI ; 34. SLH, p.45
“Do not bring our fasts to an end…” (PM, p.84)

Friday, February 27, 2009

The Baha'i Fast -- Purposes, Part II

Brief excerpts from the
Writings of Baha’u’llah
wherein He is speaking explicitly of the Fast

The heading in bold print below is an arbitrary and subjective designation; the numbering is also arbitrary and has no significance other than for referencing within this site.

Purposes of the Fast

1. “…that the fire of Thy love and the heat produced by the fast enjoined by Thee may inflame them in Thy Cause…”

2. “…and make them to be occupied with Thy praise and with remembrance of Thee.”

3. “…the ornament of Thine acceptance…”

4. “…that through it they may purify their souls…”

5. “…and rid themselves of all attachment to any one but Thee…”

6. “…and that out of their hearts may ascend that which will be worthy of the court of Thy majesty and may well beseem the seat of the revelation of Thy oneness.”

7. “Cleanse Thou by its means the hearts of Thy servants…”

8. “…attaining unto that which Thou didst ordain…”

9. “…cleanse us from the noisome savors of our transgressions.”

10. [We get to ask God such as this:] “Do Thou accept all that we have done for love of Thee, and for the sake of Thy pleasure, and all that we have left undone as a result of our subjection to our evil and corrupt desires.”

11. “…We have ordained obligatory prayer and fasting so that all may by these means draw nigh unto God, the Most Powerful, the Well-Beloved.”

12. “…observe that which will draw them nearer unto Him Who is the Almighty, the All-Loving.”

13. “All praise be unto God, Who hath… enjoined on them the Fast that those possessed of means may become apprised of the woes and sufferings of the destitute.”

14. “…be acceptable in the sight of God.”

15. “…that which hath been and will be of profit to them.”

16. “Well is it with the one who fulfilleth My decrees…”

17. “Verily, He hath no purpose therein save to benefit the souls of His servants…”

18. “Blessed is the one who through the heat generated by the Fast increaseth his love…”

19. “…and who, with joy and radiance, ariseth to perform worthy deeds.”

20. “Purification and training are conditioned and dependent only on such rigorous exercises as are in accord with the Book of God and sanctioned by Divine law, not those which the deluded have inflicted upon the people.”

21. “Verily, I say, fasting is the supreme remedy and the most great healing for the disease of self and passion.”

22. “…to fulfill that which hath been decreed in the Book.”

23. “…serveth solely to benefit His friends and loved ones.”

24. “…Thou hast bidden to observe the Fast for the sake of Thy love and good pleasure…”

25. “There are various stages and stations for the Fast and innumerable effects and benefits are concealed therein. Well is it with those who have attained unto them.”

26. “I beg of Thee, O my God, by those who have fasted for love of Thee and have quaffed the living waters of submission from the hands of Thy bounty, to ordain for Thy loved ones, who under the blaze of the orb of Thy trials have clung to the cord of patience, all the good Thou hast reckoned in Thy Books and Thy Tablets.”

27. “I beg of Thee, O my God, by these mighty pillars, [fasting and obligatory prayer] to keep Thy religion safe from the mischief of the ungodly and the plotting of every wicked doer.”

28. “All glory be to Thee, O my God, for Thou hast graciously enabled me to fast during this month which Thou hast related to Thy Name, the Most Exalted, and called Ala (Loftiness). Thou hast commanded that Thy servants and Thy people should fast therein and seek thereby to draw nearer unto Thee.”

29. “The days and the months of the year have culminated with the Fast, even as the first month began with Thy Name, Baha, that all might testify that Thou art the First and the Last, the Manifest and the Hidden…”

30. “…and be well assured that the glory of all names is conferred only through the glory of Thy Cause and the word expounded only by Thy will and revealed through Thy purpose.”

31. “Thou hast ordained that this month be a remembrance and honor from Thee…”

32. “…and a sign of Thy presence among them…”

33. “…that they may not forget Thy grandeur and Thy majesty, Thy sovereignty and Thy glory…”

34. “…and may be well assured that from time immemorial Thou hast ever been and wilt ever be Ruler over the entire creation.”

More: The Baha'i Fast, Part Three, How To Fast

Key to the Sources

PM – Prayers and Meditations By Baha'u'llah
IOPF – The Importance of Obligatory Prayer and Fasting

1. PM, p.67; 2. PM, p.67; 3. PM, p.67; 4. PM, p.79; 5. PM, p.79; 6. PM, p.79; 7. PM, p.79; 8. PM, p.80; 9. PM, p.82; 10. PM, p.84; 11. IOPF, Part 1, I; 12. IOPF, Part 1, I; 13. IOPF, Part 1, II; 14. IOPF, Part 1, VI; 15. IOPF, Part 1, VI; 16. IOPF, Part 1, XIII; 17. IOPF, Part 1, XIV; 18. IOPF, Part 1, XV; 19. IOPF, Part 1, XV; 20. IOPF, Part 1, XVI; 21. IOPF, Part 1, XVII; 22. IOPF, Part 1, XVIII; 23. IOPF, Part 1, XVIII; 24. IOPF, Part 3, VI; 25. IOPF, Part 1, XIX; 26. IOPF, Part 3, IV; 27. IOPF, Part 3, V; 28. IOPF, Part 3, VI; 29. IOPF, Part 3, VI; 30. IOPF, Part 3, VI; 31. IOPF, Part 3, VI; 32. IOPF, Part 3, VI; 33. IOPF, Part 3, VI; 34. IOPF, Part 3, VI 10

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Baha’i Fast -- Descriptive, Part I


‘Were the mouth of Thy will to address them saying: “Observe, for My Beauty's sake, the fast, O people, and set no limit to its duration,” I swear by the majesty of Thy glory, that every one of them will faithfully observe it, will abstain from whatsoever will violate Thy law, and will continue to do so until they yield up their souls unto Thee, for they have tasted the sweetness of Thy call, and become inebriated with Thy remembrance and praise and with the words proceeding from the lips of Thy command.’ – Baha’u’llah

Brief excerpts from the
Writings of Baha’u’llah
wherein He is speaking explicitly of the Fast

The heading in bold print below is an arbitrary and subjective designation; the numbering is also arbitrary and has no significance other than for referencing within this site.

Descriptive of the Fast

1. “We have commanded you to pray and fast…”

2. “…this is ordained by God…”

3. “We have enjoined upon you fasting…”

4. “…during a brief period…”

5. “…the season of restraint…”

6. “…this grace that is appointed in the Book.”

7. “In truth, I say that obligatory prayer and fasting occupy an exalted station in the sight of God.”

8. “It is, however, in a state of health that their virtue can be realized.”

9. “…a service due to God…” [Baha’u’llah expands a statement of Muhammad to include fasting.]

10. “Fasting is illumination, prayer is light." [Baha’u’llah corroborates a saying or tradition.]

11. “…We are the Fast…” [Baha’u’llah quotes Imam Jaafar Sadiq, the sixth Shi’ih Imam. (83-148 A.H.)]

12. “…the ornament of the fast prescribed by Thee…”

13. “…Thou didst enjoin Thy servants to observe the fast.”

14. “With it Thou didst adorn the preamble of the Book of Thy Laws revealed unto Thy creatures…”

15. “…and didst deck forth the Repositories of Thy commandments in the sight of all who are in Thy heaven and all who are on Thy earth.”

16. “Thou hast endowed every hour of these days with a special virtue, inscrutable to all except Thee…”

17. “Thou hast, also, assigned unto every soul a portion of this virtue…”

18. “Fasting and obligatory prayer are as two wings to man's life.”

19. “Verily, the religion of God is like unto heaven; fasting is its sun, and obligatory prayer is its moon. In truth, they are the pillars of religion whereby the righteous are distinguished from those who transgress His commandments.”

20. “…that which He hath revealed in His Ancient Book.”

21. “Know thou that religion is as heaven; and fasting and obligatory prayer are its sun and its moon.”

22. “…that which they have been commanded in this Day.”

23. “…in accordance with His good-pleasure.”

24. “Fasting hath been decreed for you in the month of Ala.”

25. “Thus doth the Beloved of mankind instruct you as bidden by God, the All-Powerful, the Unconstrained.”

26. “We, verily, have commanded all to observe the Fast in these days as a bounty on Our part…”

27. “Say: By God! His Law is a fortress unto you, could ye but understand.”

28. “Even though outwardly the Fast is difficult and toilsome, yet inwardly it is bounty and tranquillity.”

29. “Whatsoever God hath revealed is beloved of the soul.”

30. “…that which is pleasing and acceptable unto Him.”

31. “The law of the Fast is ordained for those who are sound and healthy…”

32. “The days of fasting have arrived wherein those servants who circle round Thy throne and have attained Thy presence have fasted.”

33. “These are the days whereon Thou hast enjoined Thy chosen ones, Thy loved ones and Thy servants to observe the Fast, which Thou hast made a light unto the people of Thy Kingdom…”

34. “Since they are turning to the court of Thy good-pleasure, all their days are days of fasting.”

More: The Baha'i Fast, Part Two, Purposes

 Key to the Sources (Alphabetically)
ESW – Epistle to the Son of the Wolf
IOPF – The Importance of Obligatory Prayer and Fasting

KA – Kitab-i-Aqdas

KI – Kitab-i-Iqan
PM – Prayers and Meditations
By Baha'u'llah
TB – Tablets of Baha’u’llahOpening quote: “Were the mouth of Thy will…” (IOPF, Part 3, VI.)
[See also Gleanings CLX, p.337, where Baha’u’llah briefly quotes His own ‘Prayer of Fasting.’]

1. KA, p.22; 2. KA, p.22; 3. KA, p.24; 4. KA, pp.24-25; 5. KA, p.25; 6. KA p.25; 7. KA, p.134; 8. KA, p.134; 9. TB, p.109; 10. KI, p.39; 11. ESW, p.113; 12. PM, p.67; 13. PM, p.143; 14. PM, p.143; 15. PM, p.143; 16. PM, p.143; 17. PM, p.143; 18. IOPF, Part 1, III; 19. IOPF, Part 1, IV; 20. IOPF, Part 1, IV; 21. IOPF, Part 1,V; 22. IOPF, Part 1, XII; 23. IOPF, Part 1, XIII; 24. IOPF, Part 1, XIII; 25. IOPF, Part 1, XIII; 26. IOPF, Part 1, XIV; 27. IOPF, Part 1, XIV; 28. IOPF, Part 1, XVI; 29. IOPF, Part 1, XVI; 30. IOPF, Part 1, XVI; 31. IOPF, Part 1, XXI; 32. IOPF, Part 3, II; 33. IOPF, Part 3, V; 34. IOPF, Part 3, VI

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Meditations on a Prayer for the Baha'i Fast

Ruhiyyih Khanum, 1940

From “The Prayers of Baha'u'llah”
by Ruhiyyih Khanum

'Not the least of the treasures which Baha'u'llah has given to the world is the wealth of His prayers and meditations. He not only revealed them for specific purposes, such as the Daily Prayers, the prayers for Healing, for the Fast, for the Dead, and so on, but in them he revealed a great deal of Himself to us. At moments it is as if, in some verse or line, we are admitted into His Own heart, with all its turbulent emotions, or catch a glimpse of the workings of a mind as great and deep as an ocean, which we can never fathom, but which never ceases to enrapture and astonish us.

'If one could be so presumptuous as to try and comment on a subject so vast and which, ultimately, is far beyond the capacity of any merely mortal mind to analyse or classify, one might say that one of His masterpieces is the long prayer for the Nineteen Day Fast. I do not know if He revealed it at dawn, but He had, evidently, a deep association with that hour of the day when the life of the world is repoured into it. How could He not have? Was He not the Hermit of Sar-Galu, where He spent many months in a lonely stone hut perched on a hilltop; the sunrise must have often found Him waiting and watching for its coming, His voice rising and falling in the melodious chants of His supplications and compositions. At how many dawns He must have heard the birds of the wilderness wake and cry out when the first rays of the sun flowed over the horizon and witnessed in all its splendor the coming alive of creation after the night.

View of the mountains where Baha’u’llah stayed in Sulaymaniyyih.
Photo by David Toeg -

'In this prayer it is as if the worshipper approaches the sun while the sun is approaching its daybreak. When one remembers that the sun, the lifegiver of the earth, has ever been associated with the God-Power, and that Baha’u’llah has always used it in His metaphors to symbolize the Prophet, the prayer takes on a mystical significance that delights and inspires the soul. Turning to the budding day He opens His supplication:

'“I beseech Thee, O my God, by Thy mighty Sign (the Prophet), and by the revelation of Thy grace amongst men, to cast me not away from the gate of the city of Thy Presence, and to disappoint not the hopes I have set on the manifestations of Thy grace amidst Thy creatures.” Who has not, in order to better visualize himself in relation to the Kingdom of God, seen his own soul as a wanderer, weary and hopeful, standing at the Gates of the Heavenly City and longing for admittance? The worshipper gazes at the brightening sky in the east and waits, expectant of the mercy of God. He hears the “most sweet Voice” and supplicates that by the “most exalted Word” he may draw ever nearer the threshold of God’s door and enter under the shadow of the canopy of His bounty—a canopy which is already spreading itself, in mighty symbolic form, over the world in crimson, gold and gray clouds.

'The day waxes; the oncoming sun, in the prayer of Baha’u’llah, becomes the face of God Himself to which He turns, addressing words of infinite sweetness and yearning: “I beseech Thee, O my God, by the splendor of Thy luminous brow and the brightness of the light of Thy countenance, which shineth from the all-highest horizon, to attract me by the fragrance of Thy raiment, and make me drink of the choice wine of Thine utterance.”

'The soft winds of dawn, which must have often played over His face and stirred His black locks against His cheek, may have given rise to this beautiful phrase in His prayer: “I beseech Thee, O my God, by Thy hair which moveth across Thy face, even as Thy most exalted pen moveth across the pages of Thy tablets, shedding the musk of hidden meanings over the kingdoms of Thy creation, so to raise me up to serve Thy Cause that I shall not fall back, nor be hindered by the suggestions of them who have cavilled at Thy signs and turned away from Thy face.” How deep, how poetical, how sincere are His words! The playing of the strands of hair recall to Him the fine tracing of the Persian script, revealing words from God that shed a divine fragrance in the lives of men. But that is not all. In His communion all the love and loyalty in His heart is roused, He supplicates to be made of the faithful, whom naught shall turn aside from the Path that leads them to their Lord.

'The sun has risen, as if in answer to the cry of the worshipper to “enable me to gaze on the Day-Star of Thy Beauty…” And as he continues his prayer it seems as if all nature were moving in harmony with it: “I beseech Thee, O my God, by the Tabernacle of Thy majesty on the loftiest summits, and the Canopy of Thy Revelation on the highest hills, to graciously aid me to do what Thy will hath desired and Thy purpose hath manifested.” North and south the glory spreads, a faint echo of that celestial beauty visible to the eye of Baha’u’llah and which He says; “shineth forth above the horizon of eternity.” So deeply does it penetrate the heart that it evokes the desire to “die to all that I possess and live to whatsoever belongeth unto Thee.” The soul is moved; all earthly things pale before the vision which, as symbolized in the sunrise, it beholds in the inner world; God, the “Well-beloved” seems to have drawn very near.

'The winds flit over the land; some tree calls to the Prophet’s mind, as it shivers and stirs, the Tree of Himself that over-shadows all mankind: “I beseech Thee, O my God, by the rustling of the Divine Lote-Tree and the murmur of the breezes of Thine utterance in the kingdom of Thy names, to remove me far from whatsoever Thy will abhorreth, and draw me nigh unto the station wherein He who is the Day-Spring of Thy signs hath shone forth.” Bahau’llah puts the words into our mouths whereby we may draw nigher to God and receive from Him the heavenly gifts: “I beseech Thee…to make known unto me what lay hid in the treasuries of Thy knowledge and concealed within the repositories of Thy wisdom.” “I beseech Thee…to number me with such as have attained unto that which Thou hast sent down in Thy Book and manifested through Thy will.” “I beseech Thee…to write down for me what Thou hast written down for Thy trusted ones…”

'And finally, in words designed for those countless worshippers for whom He wrote this glorious Fasting Prayer, He asks God to “write down for every one who hath observed the fast prescribed by Thee, the recompense decreed for such as speak not except by Thy leave, and who forsook all that they possessed in Thy path and for love of Thee.” He asks that the silence of the good may descend upon them—both the silence and the speech of those who are wholly dedicated to that Divine Will which alone can lead men to their highest destiny. The last thought of all is that those who have obeyed the decrees of God may be forgiven their trespasses.

'This majestic prayer is composed of fourteen verses, each opening with the words “I beseech Thee…” and closing with the same refrain: “Thou seest me, O my God, holding to Thy Name, the Most Holy, the Most Luminous, the Most Mighty, the Most Great, the Most Exalted, the Most Glorious, and clinging to the hem of the robe to which have clung all in this world and the world to come.” The rhythmical emphasis on the thoughts contained in these words is not only very powerful but very artistic—if one may borrow the term for lack of a better one—and the sense that all creatures living, and those gone before into the invisible realms of God, are clinging to the skirt of His mercy, dependent on Him and Him alone, exerts a profound influence on one’s mind, particularly so when taken in conjunction with what one beholds at this hour of the day: The sky kindling with light, the brush of the wind gently over the face of nature; the whole world waking to the tasks of living on all sides; all things dependent on God; they always have and they always will be. This is a little of what this long prayer conveys to those who partake of it.'

(Ruhiyyih Khanum, from “The Prayers of Baha'u'llah,” The Baha'i World, Vol. IX, 1940-1944, pp. 792-94.)

Some forty years later, Hand of the Cause of God Amatu'l-Baha Ruhiyyih Khanum wrote another appreciation of the same
prayer, sharing fresh observations.

Ruhiyyih Khanum, 1980
'The long prayer for the fast grows on one all the adult years of one's life until in the end the blessing of keeping the fast and the blessing of saying this prayer with it become one great annual bounty, one special privilege of life. If one begins at about five minutes before sunrise one discovers that it seems deliberately to be synchronized with the rising of the sun: one finds oneself standing at "the gate of the city of Thy presence", awaiting God's grace; then come "the shadow of Thy mercy and the canopy of Thy bounty"--the differentiation of light from dark is taking place, the birds are singing; there follows "the splendour of Thy luminous brow and the brightness of the light of Thy countenance"--the sky is beginning to kindle with colour; the worshipper asks to be allowed "to gaze on the Day-Star of Thy Beauty"--the sun is rising! Next comes the full panoply of dawn, symbol of the Divine Springtime of God, "by the tabernacle of Thy majesty upon the loftiest summits, and the Canopy of Thy Revelation on the highest hills"; as one gazes upon the sun beginning to mount the skies one reaches the words "by Thy Beauty that shineth forth above the horizon of eternity, a beauty before which as soon as soon as it revealeth itself the kingdom of beauty boweth down in worship". All this takes place in the first half of the prayer. But what the worshipper is supplicating for is: to receive God's grace, to draw nearer to Him, to become attracted to Him and imbibe His words, to serve His Cause in such wise that he may not be held back by those who have turned away from God, to enable him to recognize God's Manifestation, to accomplish what God desires, to grant that "I may die to all that I possess and live to whatsoever belongeth unto Thee", to remember and praise God, to remove him far from whatever displeases God and enable him to draw near to the One Who manifests God's signs, to make known to this worshipper what was hidden in God's knowledge and wisdom, to number him with those who have attained to what God has revealed, to record for him what has been written down by God for His trusted and chosen ones, to write down for everyone who has turned unto God and observed the fast prescribed by Him "the recompense decreed for such as speak not except by Thy leave, and who forsook all that they possessed in Thy path and for love of Thee", and, last of all, to "cancel the trespasses of those who have held fast to Thy laws, and have observed what Thou hast prescribed unto them in Thy Book."

'Almost like a leitmotiv in a sumptuous musical composition, there occurs the same refrain over and over: "Thou seest me, O my God, holding to Thy Name, the Most Holy, the Most Luminous, the Most Mighty, the Most Great, the Most Exalted, the Most Glorious, and clinging to the hem of the robe to which have clung all in this world and in the world to come." When I repeat this I always visualize myself and my parents and loved ones who are dead, clinging all together to this symbolic celestial robe, and I feel very close to them. Truly a majestic prayer, containing metaphors of deep mysticism, a prayer that is a never-ending experience.
(Ruhiyyih Khanum, Desire of the World, Oxford, George Ronald, 1982, pp. 136-38)

More: The Baha'i Fast, Part One, Descriptive


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I Yield Thee Such Thanks

Praise be to Thee, O my God, that Thou hast revealed Thy favors and Thy bounties; and glory be to Thee, O my Beloved, that Thou hast manifested the Day-Star of Thy loving-kindness and Thy tender mercies.

I yield Thee such thanks
as can direct the steps of the wayward towards the splendors of the morning light of Thy guidance, and enable those who yearn towards Thee to attain the seat of the revelation of the effulgence of Thy beauty.

I yield Thee such thanks
as can cause the sick to draw nigh unto the waters of Thy healing, and can help those who are far from Thee to approach the living fountain of Thy presence.

I yield Thee such thanks
as can divest the bodies of Thy servants of the garments of mortality and abasement, and attire them in the robes of Thine eternity and Thy glory, and lead the poor unto the shores of Thy holiness and all sufficient riches.

I yield Thee such thanks
as can enable the Heavenly Dove to warble forth, upon the branches of the Lote-Tree of Immortality, her song: "Verily, Thou art God. No God is there besides Thee. From eternity Thou hast been exalted above the praise of aught else but Thee, and been high above the description of any one except Thyself."

I yield Thee such thanks
as can cause the Nightingale of Glory to pour forth its melody in the highest heaven: "Ali (the Bab), in truth, is Thy servant, Whom Thou hast singled out from among Thy Messengers and Thy chosen Ones, and made Him to be the Manifestation of Thyself in all that pertaineth unto Thee, and that concerneth the revelation of Thine attributes and the evidences of Thy names."

I yield Thee such thanks
as can stir up all things to extol Thee, and to glorify Thine Essence, and can unloose the tongues of all beings to magnify the sovereignty of Thy beauty.

I yield Thee such thanks
as can fill the heavens and the earth with the signs of Thy transcendent Essence, and assist all created things to enter the Tabernacle of Thy nearness and Thy presence.

I yield Thee such thanks
as can make every created thing to be a book that shall speak of Thee, and a scroll that shall unfold Thy praise.

I yield Thee such thanks
as can establish the Manifestations of Thy sovereignty upon the throne of Thy governance, and set up the Exponents of Thy glory upon the seat of Thy Divinity.

I yield Thee such thanks
as can make the corrupt tree to bring forth good fruit through the holy breaths of Thy favors, and revive the bodies of all beings with the gentle winds of Thy transcendent grace.

I yield Thee such thanks
as can cause the signs of Thine exalted singleness to be sent down out of the heaven of Thy holy unity.

I yield Thee such thanks
as can teach all things the realities of Thy knowledge and the essence of Thy wisdom, and will not withhold the wretched creatures from the doors of Thy mercy and Thy bountiful favor.

I yield Thee such thanks
as can enable all who are in heaven and on earth to dispense with all created things, through the treasuries of Thine all-sufficing riches, and can aid all created things to reach unto the summit of Thine almighty favors.

I yield Thee such thanks
as can assist the hearts of Thine ardent lovers to soar into the atmosphere of nearness to Thee, and of longing for Thee, and kindle the Light of Lights within the land of Iraq.

I yield Thee such thanks
as can detach them that are nigh unto Thee from all created things, and draw them to the throne of Thy names and Thine attributes.

I yield Thee such thanks
as can cause Thee to forgive all sins and trespasses, and to fulfill the needs of the peoples of all religions, and to waft the fragrances of pardon over the entire creation.

I yield Thee such thanks
as can enable them that recognize Thy unity to scale the heights of Thy love, and cause such as are devoted to Thee to ascend unto the Paradise of Thy presence.

I yield Thee such thanks
as can satisfy the wants of all such as seek Thee, and realize the aims of them that have recognized Thee.

I yield Thee such thanks
as can blot out from the hearts of men all suggestions of limitations, and inscribe the signs of Thy unity.

I yield Thee such thanks
as that with which Thou didst from eternity glorify Thine own Self, and didst exalt it above all peers, rivals, and comparisons, O Thou in Whose hands are the heavens of grace and of bounty, and the kingdoms of glory and of majesty!

(Baha'u'llah, Prayers and Meditations by Baha'u'llah, pp. 329-32)

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