Monday, July 29, 2013

Anis - Or More on the Story of the Bab

You may recall my last article, about the two different guys who came up to my booth and began to tell me the story of the martyrdom of the Bab. It was very amusing, and inspirational. It made me realize that we are, after all, doing a fairly decent job of letting people know about the stories of our Faith. That's quite wonderful, it is. So, thanks. Your hard work is paying off.

Now, as you may know, nature loves a balance. That is, of course, the theory behind Brownian motion, and so many other wonderful scientific principles.

So, to balance things out, last weekend a number of Baha'is came up to my booth. You may wonder how I knew they were Baha'i. Well, simple, really. They told me.

And why, you may wonder, did they tell me? Well, they told me after they asked me if I was Baha'i. And the reason for that is also quite simple. They saw the Greatest Name and the 9-pointed stars that I have sitting there on my tables.

Of course, while they were there we talked about the Faith, teaching, and all sorts of other wonderful things.

One of the wonderful things we talked about was my last article, or more particularly I told them the story of those two guys telling me about the Bab, for I don't think of my article as particularly wonderful. I told them about how they shared their version of the story.

"And then", one of them asked, "you shared your version , right?"

"No," I replied, "I rarely tell my version to people who are not Baha'i."

"Oh? And what is your version?"

Don't you just love it when people pick up on a thread.

Well, I proceeded to tell them a story I shared here quite some time ago.

But then later, as I was telling Marielle about my day, and this follow up to last week, it got me thinking. Or she got me thinking. I'm not quite sure how that worked. Either way, by the time we got home, I was thinking.

I was thinking about Anis, the young man who was martyred along with the Bab.

Now please, before I continue, please read that previous story, about story-telling and the martyrdom of the Bab. It is very relevant here. (You can click on the link above. I'll wait. Oh, you can also click here for it.) (See? I try to make it simple for you.) (Go on. I'll still wait.)

Ok. Ready? You're familiar with the story, and the slightly different view I like to share? Great.

You remember the point about the smoke clearing away, and how he, Anis, is expecting to be in paradise?

Let's think about that for a moment. Try to put yourself in his position again. You have already shown such dedication that you remained firm in the Faith, even though your father imprisoned you. You ran away from your home the moment you heard that the Bab was in the area, completely trusting in the vision you had of Him telling you that you would be His chosen companion. You have already shown such steadfastness that you were willing to take His very life that previous evening, if that was what He wished. At which point He reaffirmed that you would be with Him. Your spirit was so close to the Bab that you likely no longer had any will of your own, preferring, instead, to do His divine bidding.

And there you are, head on His blessed chest, hearing that primal heartbeat, feeling your arms thrust upwards as the ropes pulled on you, unaware of anything except His divine presence.

And then the sound of the guns. Your arms are suddenly free. You have likely fallen to the ground, but that doesn't matter, for you are free of these earthly shackles, your spirit soaring in eternal peace, completely unaware of the bullets that probably shattered your body. You open your eyes in the clouds, and as they disperse, what goes through your mind?

What, Anis, is it that goes through your mind, at that moment, the moment you realize that you are still in the square, unharmed, in Tabriz, here on this planet?

'Abdu'l-Baha says that the spirits of those in the other world can inspire us, can communicate with us in a way, but not in a way that we are used to. And so, Anis, as one who longs to be inspired by your story, I ask you what went through your mind? How did you feel?

The Master also talks about the iron and the fire, and how when the iron is close enough to the fire it takes on its attributes. It goes from being cold and hard, dark and dull, to hot and radiant, glowing and, perhaps, even flowing. What, dear Reader, could the impact of that moment, later in the day, when the actual martyrdom did take place, what could have possibly been the impact on Anis' very soul?

Never, in all of recorded history, has any human being been in the presence of a Manifestation of God under such circumstances. Martyred at the same moment. Head on His chest, hearing that heartbeat. Killed in such a way that their very bodies fused into one.

I can almost imagine a spiritual supernova emanating from the Bab at that moment.

So what was the impact on the soul of Anis? Just how close was he to the Bab?

Obviously he did not become a Manifestation, just as that piece of iron does not become the fire, but how was his soul propelled forward in the next world?

Once again, this is far, far beyond my imagination.

But it is interesting to wonder.

And so I have been praying for Anis, and the progress of his soul, and asking him if there is any possible way that he can convey just a glimmer of what he went through at that supreme moment.

For surely such a glimmer can help inspire us who are still here on this planet, striving to put into action all that he gave his life for.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Two Stories of the Bab, or One Twice Told

There I was, standing at my booth, selling my chain mail jewelry and artwork, minding my own business, when a man came up to me. Now, I know this man. He sells Persian food at a stand around the corner from my booth, and we have talked in the past. He's a cool guy. And he's from Shiraz.

So anyways, there I am, when he comes over and sees the nine-pointed stars in chain mail that I have done, as well as the Greatest Name in Arabic calligraphy. He looks a bit shocked, and asks, "Oh, are you Baha'i?" This comes as a bit of a surprise to me, as we have talked about my being Baha'i in the past, and how he is not religious, but loves people of all faiths.

"Are you a Baha'i?" "Well, yes, I am."

And he proceeds to tell me about the Bab.

"There was a man", he begins, "who was born in my town, Shiraz: Ali-Muhammad the Bab. He was a fascinating man. Have you ever heard of him?"

It didn't matter what I answered, for he really wanted to tell me this story.

He went on to tell me a little bit about His life, and then began to tell me of His martyrdom. He spoke of His charisma, and how He was shot at by a number of soldiers to be executed.

Then he told me something new. He said, "Ali-Muhammad the Bab was siyyid, a descendant of Muhammad. And for that reason some people respected him. Why? Because of some...I don't know...holy sperm? I'm a siyyid, too, and they show me respect, even though they don't know me."

This seemed to upset him, for he believes that people should be respected for who they are, not who their ancestors were.

But there he was, from Shiraz, standing at a craft market in Victoria, Canada, feeling the strong urge to share the miraculous story of the execution of the Bab with me, a relative stranger.

It was very interesting to hear it from his perspective. I thought about it for some time.

And then, if that wasn't enough, when I was getting ready to pack it all up for the day, another man comes up to my booth. He was wearing a t-shirt with a very interesting geometric design, and he had a pendant on that was laser engraved with another design. He was obviously spiritual, and had focused a lot of his attention onto sacred geometry. And he loved my work. He was so intrigued by the Mobius Ball that he bought one, for which I was grateful and thankful.

Then he saw the stars.

"Tell me", he said, "why you have used the nine-pointed star here."

I began by saying, "Well, I'm a member of the Baha'i Faith..." At which point he interrupted me and said, "Ahh, Baha'i. Have you ever heard of the Bab?"

I kind of stopped what I was doing as he proceeded to say, "He was a very interesting man. Have you ever heard the story of his execution?" And he went on with the story, from another very different perspective.

When he had finished telling it to me he went off, and left me standing there in mute wonder at the incredible power of that sacred Being, the Primal Point: the Bab.

"Behold", says Baha'u'llah, "how great and lofty is His station!"