“Have Mercy on Yourselves and on Those Beneath You” 1

“LAY NOT ASIDE THE fear of God, O Kings of the Earth,” Bahá’u’lláh wrote in 1868, “and beware that ye transgress not the bounds which the Almighty hath fixed. Be vigilant, that ye may not do injustice to anyone, be it to the extent of a grain of mustard seed. Tread ye the path of justice, for this, verily, is the straight path.”

During ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s time in America, he spoke frequently of his father’s incarceration, and how this prisoner had addressed the rulers and kings of the earth. “If we study the historical record,” Abdu’l-Bahá noted, “we will find that none of the Prophets of the past ever spread His teachings or promulgated His Cause from a prison.”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá was only eight years old when Bahá’u’lláh was imprisoned in the Síyáh-Chál, Tehran’s notorious underground dungeon. The family would endure a lifetime of imprisonment and exile, first in Baghdad, then in Constantinople and Adrianople, and finally in the Ottoman prison city of ‘Akká in Palestine.

New York City 2

The friends from the West Coast who could not travel to the East to meet Abdu’l-Bahá sent telegrams beseeching Him to come. In July some of the Californians came in person asking Him to visit them.

On July 17, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá chanted a prayer at the marriage of Harlan Ober and Grace Robarts, at which Howard Colby Ives officiated.

It is impossible that a tree should not wither or that life should not end in death 3

‘Abdu’l-Bahá returned to New York to find a large group gathered at His home, waiting for Him. At the meeting the Master shone as a lamp and burnt away the veils of superstition. One eminent woman, a doctor, asked him: ‘What is the cause of all these calamities and troubles in the world of creation?’ He replied:

Calamities are of two kinds. One kind results from bad morals and misconduct such as falsehood, dishonesty, treachery, cruelty and the like. Surely, misdeeds bring forth evil consequences. The other kind is the result of the exigencies of the contingent world, of consummate divine law, and of universal relationships, and is that which is bound to happen, as, for instance, changes, alterations, life and death. It is impossible that a tree should not wither or that life should not end in death.

Answering questions from the audience, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá explained that God is holy beyond comprehension, appearance, ascent and descent, ingress and egress, thereby correcting the erroneous notions of some philosophers and ascetics. The Master’s explanations were long and very convincing.

A wonderful meeting was held in the evening. Two very dear friends, Mr Harlan Ober and Miss Grace Robarts were married. Besides the many friends, many others were present, including a very devoted Christian minister [Howard Colby Ives]. The Master had instructed that the wedding be performed according to the law of Christianity and it was performed by the minister. After the ceremony, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá rose and chanted a prayer, blessing the marriage of the two devoted believers. Congratulations were given and everyone praised the ceremony.

  1. Sockett, Robert. “‘Have Mercy on Yourselves and on Those Beneath You.’” 239 Days in America, 17 July 2012, https://239days.com/2012/07/17/to-the-rulers-and-kings-of-the-earth/. [return]
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 111. [return]
  3. ’Abdu’l-Bahá, and Mirza Mahmud-i-Zarqani. Mahmúd’s Diary: The Diary of Mírzá Mahmúd-i-Zarqání Chronicling ’Abdu’l-Bahá’s Journey to America. Edited by Shirley Macias. Translated by Mohi Sobhani. Oxford: George Ronald, 1998. https://bahai-library.com/zarqani_mahmuds_diary&chapter=5#section114 [return]