Monday, December 5, 2011

A Baha'i Rosary

A primary purpose of this blog entry is to describe a method for counting to ninety-five using one's fingers. Scrolling down below, you will find it highlighted by blue type. But first, some context:

"Attire thy temple with the ornament of My Name, and thy tongue with remembrance of Me, and thine heart with love for Me, the Almighty, the Most High."

The Summons of the Lord of Hosts, p. 69)

"...the remembrance of His Name is able to set on fire the hearts of all men, and burn away the veils that intervene between them and His glory."

Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, pp. 286-287

"Armed with the power of Thy name nothing can ever hurt me, and with Thy love in my heart all the world's afflictions can in no wise alarm me."

(Baha'u'llah, Prayers and Meditations by Baha'u'llah, p. 208)

"It hath been ordained that every believer in God, the Lord of Judgement, shall, each day, having washed his hands and then his face, seat himself and, turning unto God, repeat "Allah-u-Abha" ninety-five times. Such was the decree of the Maker of the Heavens when, with majesty and power, He established Himself upon the thrones of His Names."
(Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 26)

"Allah-u-Abha" is an Arabic phrase meaning "God the All-Glorious".
It is a form of the Greatest Name of God... In Islam there is a tradition that among the many names of God, one was the greatest; however, the identity of this Greatest Name was hidden. Baha'u'llah has confirmed that the Greatest Name is "Baha".

The various derivatives of the word "Baha" are also regarded as the Greatest Name...

(The Kitab-i-Aqdas, Notes, p. 180)

As seen above, Baha'u'llah enjoined repetition of 'Allah-u-Abha' ninety-five times daily. (He also integrated recitation of 'Allah-u-Abha' into the Long Obligatory Prayer in three placesthree times in each placeand into the Prayer for the Dead, where it is repeated six times.)
Losing count is potentially a problem in repeating Allah-u-Abha ninety-five times. Using a Baha'i rosary of beads or seeds is one means of maintaining the count. It is known that Abdu'l-Baha owned and used such strings of beads and sometimes gave them as gifts.

Another method for keeping track of the count is to use one's fingers. If you are like me, and persist in unintentionally breaking every rosary you've ever been given, this technique is a lifesaver. You're not likely to lose this bodily abacus, and for some it's even easier than using a string of beads. With this method one's own hands are a Baha'i rosary.

In either system, whether using prayer beads or using one's hands, counting is not required. Instead
, the tally is tracked by moving the fingers as one recites.

The following way of using one's hands was taught to me and others in a small session at Bosch Baha'i School in California in 1979 by Margaret Gallagher,
who then served as an Auxiliary Board Member, (she has since passed away, God bless her precious soul). She recounted that this method was taught to her while she was riding in the back of a van, as I recall, by the beloved Hand of the Cause Zikrullah Khadem.
Beginning with one hand, the devotee registers nineteen repetitions by touching in turn—using the tip of the thumb starting with the crease at the base of the little finger—the creases at the three joints, as well as the tip, of each of the four fingers, (each time beginning at that finger's base crease), and then—using the tip of the index finger beginning with the crease at the base of the thumb—the creases at the two joints, and then the tip of the thumb, to get a total of nineteen creases and tips.

Since 5x19=95, each series of nineteen 'Allah'u'Abhas' tallied on the one hand is registered by a digit of the other hand, until all four fingers and the thumb of that other hand are held out, signifying ninety-five repetitions.

Glory be unto Thee, O Lord of the world and Desire of the nations, O Thou Who hast become manifest in the Greatest Name whereby the pearls of wisdom and utterance have appeared from the shells of the great sea of Thy knowledge, and the heavens of divine revelation have been adorned with the light of the appearance of the Sun of Thy countenance.

I beg of Thee, by that Word through which Thy proof was perfected among Thy creatures and Thy testimony was fulfilled among Thy servants to strengthen Thy people in that whereby the face of the Cause will radiate in Thy dominion, the standards of Thy power will be planted among Thy servants, and the banners of Thy guidance will be raised throughout Thy dominions.

O my Lord! Thou beholdest them clinging to the rope of Thy grace and holding fast unto the hem of the mantle of Thy beneficence. Ordain for them that which may draw them nearer unto Thee, and withhold them from all else save Thee. I beg of Thee, O Thou King of existence and Protector of the seen and the unseen, to make whosoever ariseth to serve Thy Cause as a sea moving by Thy desire, as one ablaze with the fire of Thy Sacred Tree, shining from the horizon of the heaven of Thy Will. Verily Thou art the mighty One Whom neither the power of all the world nor the strength of nations can weaken. There is no God but Thee, the One, the Incomparable, the Protector, the Self-Subsistent.

(Baha'u'llah, Tablets of Baha'u'llah, p. 33)

"Thy name is my healing, O my God, and remembrance of Thee is my remedy."

(Baha'u'llah, Prayers and Meditations by Baha'u'llah, p. 262

Let all experience the spiritual enrichment brought to their souls by this simple act of worshipful meditation.

(The Universal House of Justice,
28 Dec. 1999, 'Further Application of Devotional Laws')