Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Spirit of Protection -- The Watchful Eye of Loving Kindness


The individual Baha'i shares the responsibility to protect the Cause of God. Abdu'l-Baha praised the believers who are faithful to the Covenant and protect the Faith:

"All-praise to Him Who, by the Shield of His Covenant, hath guarded the Temple of His Cause from the darts of doubtfulness, Who by the Hosts of His Testament hath preserved the Sanctuary of His most Beneficent Law and protected His Straight and Luminous Path, staying thereby the onslaught of the company of Covenant-breakers, that have threatened to subvert His Divine Edifice; Who hath watched over His Mighty Stronghold and All-Glorious Faith, through the aid of men whom the slander of the slanderer affect not, whom no earthly calling, glory and power can turn aside from the Covenant of God and His Testament, established firmly by His clear and manifest words, writ and revealed by His All-Glorious Pen and recorded in the Preserved Tablet."
(The Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 3)

In other verses in His Will, He also calls on the individual believers to protect the Faith:

"O ye beloved of the Lord! The greatest of all things is the protection of the True Faith of God, the preservation of His Law, the safeguarding of His Cause and service unto His Word."
(The Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 3)

“Guard ye the Cause of God, protect His law and have the utmost fear of discord."
(The Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 19)

"Hence, the beloved of the Lord must entirely shun them, avoid them, foil their machinations and evil whisperings, guard the Law of God and His religion, engage one and all in diffusing widely the sweet savors of God and to the best of their endeavor proclaim His Teachings."
(The Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 25)

His sister, the Greatest Holy Leaf, wrote:

“... He [Abdu'l-Baha] trained and with His own hand fostered a number of souls who would stand as a mighty fortress protecting the Cause, and as armour-plate for the Ark of the Covenant. With awesome power, these would scatter the forces of illusion, and with heavy blows, strike down the false rumours of the people of doubt. God be praised, that labour bore fruit, and the meaning of those toilsome efforts became plain. Those blessed souls rose up in all their loyalty, and with their steadfastness and long-suffering they served as shining examples for the children of salvation.”
(Bahiyyih Khanum, p. 153)

Dear friends! A great obligation of every Bahá'í is vigilance to protect and shield the stronghold of the Faith from the onslaught of the enemies.
(Bahiyyih Khanum, p. 164)

“Truly that which you have done is appropriate and the way you have reacted is highly fitting and proper, because in the Will and Testament primary emphasis has been laid on guarding and protecting the Cause of God. Thus it has been revealed: 'O ye beloved of the Lord! The greatest of all things is the protection of the true Faith of God, the preservation of His Law, the safeguarding of His Cause and service unto His Word.' Praise be to God that those blessed and enraptured souls who are enkindled with the fire of His love have been graciously assisted to preserve and shield the Faith of God.”
(Bahiyyih Khanum, p. 214)

THE SPIRIT OF PROTECTION

What is the spirit of protection of the Cause of God? A prominent attribute of many of the protectors of the Faith is their great kindness. In particular, this has been true of the Hands of the Cause of God.

In one of His prayers, Abdu'l-Baha expresses this wonderful trait, when He calls upon God to protect the loved ones of God with the “watchful eye of Thy loving kindness.” This is a signal trait of the protectors – a unique blending of loving-kindness, and watchfulness. It is not a reproaching protection—the protector looks over the believers with loving kindness.

THE LAW OF UNIVERSAL LOVE

As can testify the millions who met them, the Hands of the Cause were extremely kind-natured, and very effective protectors. This is in keeping with this guidance:

“O people of Baha! Ye are the dawning-places of the love of God and the daysprings of His loving-kindness.” (Tablets of Baha'u'llah, p. 129)

“O ye beloved of the Lord! In this sacred Dispensation, conflict and contention are in no wise permitted. Every aggressor deprives himself of God's grace. It is incumbent upon everyone to show the utmost love, rectitude of conduct, straightforwardness and sincere kindliness unto all the peoples and kindreds of the world, be they friends or strangers. So intense must be the spirit of love and loving kindness, that the stranger may find himself a friend, the enemy a true brother, no difference whatsoever existing between them. For universality is of God and all limitations earthly. Thus man must strive that his reality may manifest virtues and perfections, the light whereof may shine upon everyone. The light of the sun shineth upon all the world and the merciful showers of Divine Providence fall upon all peoples. The vivifying breeze reviveth every living creature and all beings endued with life obtain their share and portion at His heavenly board. In like manner, the affections and loving kindness of the servants of the One True God must be bountifully and universally extended to all mankind. Regarding this, restrictions and limitations are in no wise permitted.” (The Will and Testament of Abdu'l-Baha, p. 13)

The Hands of the Cause, the great protectors of the Faith, showed this wonderful spirit
.

Hand of the Cause of God Dr. Rahmatu'llah Muhajir (fourth from left)
with some Baha'is of The Gambia during a visit he made to the country.
Copyright 2006, Baha'i International Community, used by permission.


Hand of the Cause of God Enoch Olinga,
with a local baby, on a visit to the Solomon Islands.
Copyright 2006 Baha'i International Community, used by permission.



Hand of the Cause Abu'l-Qasim Faizi and Gloria Faizi in Australia around 1980.
Copyright 2006, Baha'i International Community, used by permission.

EXCEPTIONS TO THE LAW OF UNIVERSAL LOVE:
THE TREATMENT OF THOSE WHO CAUSE US TO DOUBT THE TRUTH OF THE COVENANT

And yet, in other instances, Abdu'l-Baha showed that even though the believers should express universal kindness, there are instances where a different approach must be taken:

“Therefore, you must read the Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh. You must read the Tablet of the Branch and regard that which He has so clearly stated. Beware! Beware! lest anyone should speak from the authority of his own thoughts or create a new thing out of himself. Beware! Beware! According to the explicit Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh you should care nothing at all for such a person. Bahá'u'lláh shuns such souls. I have expounded these things for you, for the conservation and protection of the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh, in order that you may be informed, lest any souls shall deceive you and lest any souls shall cause suspicion among you. You must love all people, and yet if any souls put you in doubt, you must know that Bahá'u'lláh is severed from them.” (Abdu'l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 323)

Another example of this carefulness is shown in this Tablet:

“O ye beloved of the Lord! The Kingdom of God is founded upon equity and justice, and also upon mercy, compassion, and kindness to every living soul. Strive ye then with all your heart to treat compassionately all humankind -- except for those who have some selfish, private motive, or some disease of the soul. Kindness cannot be shown the tyrant, the deceiver, or the thief, because, far from awakening them to the error of their ways, it maketh them to continue in their perversity as before. No matter how much kindliness ye may expend upon the liar, he will but lie the more, for he believeth you to be deceived, while ye understand him but too well, and only remain silent out of your extreme compassion.”
(Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, #138, p. 158)

And again, here:

“My purpose is to explain to you that it is your duty to guard the religion of God so that none shall be able to assail it outwardly or inwardly. If you find harmful teachings are being set forth by some individual, no matter who that individual be, even though he should be my own son, know, verily, that I am completely severed from him. If anyone speaks against the Covenant, even though he should be my son, know that I am opposed to him. Those who speak falsehoods, who covet worldly things and seek to accumulate the riches of this earth are not of me. But when you find a person living up to the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh, following the precepts of the Hidden Words, know that he belongs to Bahá'u'lláh; and, verily, I proclaim that he is of me. If, on the other hand, you see anyone whose deeds and conduct are contrary to and not in conformity with the good pleasure of the Blessed Perfection and against the spirit of the Hidden Words, let that be your standard and criterion of judgment against him, for know that I am altogether severed from him no matter who he may be. This is the truth.”
(Abdu'l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 455-456)

One of the wonderful souls who was a protector of the Faith was Mr. Aziz Yazdi, seen in this picture:


Aziz Yazdi with a group of Carib children and youth, Bataka, Carib Territory, Commonwealth of Dominica, West Indies, 1991.
Copyright 2006, Baha'i International Community, used by permission.

Mr. Yazdi was an International Counsellor, one of the first to serve on the International Teaching Centre. He was the essence of kindness; and a firm and devoted protector of the Faith.

How beautifully has Baha'u'llah written of these wonderful souls who guard the Cause of God, who are the fountains of His loving-kindness:

“Erelong shall God bring forth from His Temple such souls as will remain unswayed by the insinuations of the rebellious, and who will quaff at all times of the cup that is life indeed. These, truly, are of the blissful.
“These are servants who abide beneath the shelter of the tender mercy of their Lord, and who remain undeterred by those who seek to obstruct their path. Upon their faces may be seen the brightness of the light of the All-Merciful, and from their hearts may be heard the remembrance of Mine all-glorious and inaccessible Name. Were they to unloose their tongues to extol their Lord, the denizens of earth and heaven would join in their anthems of praise -- yet how few are they who hear! And were they to glorify their Lord, all created things would join in their hymns of glory. Thus hath God exalted them above the rest of His creation, and yet the people remain unaware!
“These are they who circle round the Cause of God even as the shadow doth revolve around the sun. Open, then, your eyes, O people of the Bayan, that haply ye may behold them! It is by virtue of their movement that all things are set in motion, and by reason of their stillness all things are brought to rest, would that ye might be assured thereof! Through them the believers in the Divine Unity have turned towards Him Who is the Object of the adoration of the entire creation, and by them the hearts of the righteous have found rest and composure, could ye but know it! Through them the earth hath been established, the clouds have rained down their bounty, and the bread of knowledge hath descended from the heaven of grace, could ye but perceive it!
“These souls are the protectors of the Cause of God on earth, who shall preserve its beauty from the obscuring dust of idle fancies and vain imaginings. In the path of their Lord they shall not fear for their lives; rather will they sacrifice their all in their eagerness to behold the face of their Well-Beloved when once He hath appeared in this Name, the Almighty, the All-Powerful, the All-Glorious, the Most Holy. (Baha'u'llah, The Surih of the Temple, The Summons of the Lord of Hosts, paragraphs 1.13-1.16, pp. 8-10)

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