4

Trustees of Bahá'u'lláh

Among all those who attained the presence of Bahá'u'lláh while He was in the barracks, the first two were Hájí Sháh-Muhammad-i-Manshádí, entitled Amínu'l-Bayán (Trusted of the Bayán), and Hájí Abu'l-Hasan-i-Ardikání, entitled Amín-i-Iláhí (Trusted of God). The former was the first trustee* of Bahá'u'lláh, and the latter was appointed to the same position after the death of Hájí Sháh-Muhammad in 1298 AH (AD 1881). Both men were from the province of Yazd.

In the early days of the Faith Hájí Sháh-Muhammad embraced the Cause and became an ardent believer. He first attained the presence of Bahá'u'lláh in Baghdád. As a result of this he became a new creation on fire with the love of Bahá'u'lláh, a love that sustained him throughout his life and enabled him to render notable services to His Cause.

He owned some farm land in his native village of Manshád, but it did not earn him enough to live on, so he engaged in cattle dealing. He used to buy cattle in the province of Fárs and sell them in Yazd. But after embracing the Faith he gave up this work. He gave a portion of his estate to each of his four daughters, sold the rest, and faithful to the specific injunction of the Báb† to his followers to offer priceless gifts in their possession to 'Him Whom God shall make manifest', he

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* One who acted on behalf of Bahá'u'lláh on matters related to Huqúq'u'lláh (the Right of God), which is prescribed in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas. It is one of the ordinances of Bahá'u'lláh not yet implemented in the West and involves those whose possessions reach a certain value. For more information see Synopsis, p. 60.

† Bahá'u'lláh abrogated this injunction and absolved the believers from the obligation.



[Huqúq'u'lláh] The Kitáb-i-Aqdas note 47
presented the proceeds of the sale to Bahá'u'lláh whom he had recognized as 'Him Whom God shall make manifest'.*

This action, prompted by the purity of his heart and the intensity of his devotion for the Faith, evoked the good pleasure of Bahá'u'lláh, who, while accepting the gift, handed it back to him, conferred upon him the title 'Amín' (Trusted One), and appointed him as His Trustee. In this way, it was made possible for the believers to fulfil their spiritual obligation of Huqúq'u'lláh through him.

Hájí Sháh-Muhammad used to travel frequently from Persia to attain the presence of Bahá'u'lláh and receive His instructions. He would then set out to carry them out on his return.

As the years went by he discovered in Hájí Abu'l-Hasan-i-Ardikání (Amín-i-Iláhí) a zealous and devoted co-worker. So, as he became older, he took Hájí Abu'l-Hasan with him on his journeys as an assistant.

It was soon after Bahá'u'lláh's arrival in the Most Great Prison, around the same time that Nabíl-i-A'zam was denied admittance to 'Akká by the authorities, that Hájí Sháh-Muhammad, accompanied by Hájí Abu'l-Hasan, entered the city. The two had bought a few camels on the way and disguised themselves as Arabs seeking to sell their merchandise which was carried on the camels. This was a common scene in those days. They were not suspected of being followers of Bahá'u'lláh and were admitted.

They succeeded in sending a message to Bahá'u'lláh informing Him of their arrival and expressing their eagerness to attain His presence. Bahá'u'lláh allowed them to see Him in the public bath,† but they were advised to show no sign of

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* For more information about 'Him Whom God shall make manifest' see vol. 1, ch. 18.

† As there were no baths in houses in those days, practically everyone had to go to a public bath. These were similar to what is known in the west as Turkish baths--warm with a steamy atmosphere. People would be partly-clad in a cotton towel, as nudity was considered immoral. People often spent hours washing and relaxing in public baths. Certain days of the week were allocated to men and certain days to women. The gathering of people in one place created a social atmosphere, and it was possible to meet one's friends and acquaintances there.

recognition. On the appointed day the two men entered the public bath. But no sooner did Hájí Abu'l-Hasan behold the majestic person of Bahá'u'lláh than he was seized by such emotion that his body shook, and he stumbled and fell to the ground. The floor being made of stones, he injured his head very badly and had to be carried out with blood pouring on his face and body.

The two Amíns remained in 'Akká for some time. Hájí Sháh-Muhammad was there when Áqá Buzurg, entitled Badí',* came to 'Akká and as we shall see later, the two met on Mount Carmel as directed by Bahá'u'lláh.

Hájí Sháh-Muhammad rendered notable services to the Faith as the Trustee of Bahá'u'lláh. One of the major missions with which Bahá'u'lláh entrusted him was the transfer of the casket containing the remains of the Báb when its whereabouts in Persia, for several years unknown to the mass of the believers, became public knowledge. The dangers in such a situation were apparent, for the enemies of the Faith, once informed of the casket's location, could have attacked and destroyed it. This transfer of the remains of the Báb from place to place in Persia, covering a period of no less than fifty lunar years, and finally laying them to rest on Mount Carmel is an eventful and moving story.†

In the year AH 1298 (AD 1881) Hájí Sháh-Muhammad was caught up in a massacre by the Kurds of the people of Míyánduáb and fatally wounded. His assistant Hájí Abu'l-Hasan, who was accompanying him as usual, was shot in the leg but managed to escape. It was after this event that Bahá'u'lláh appointed Hájí Abu'l-Hasan as His Trustee, and conferred on him the title 'Amín' (Trusted One), in place of Hájí Sháh-Muhammad, Amínu'l-Bayán.

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* see pp. 182-3 below.

† see Appendix I.

Of Hájí Sháh-Muhammad we have the following eulogy from the pen of 'Abdu'l-Bahá:

Amín, that is, Sháh-Muhammad, was honoured with the title of the Trusted One, and bounties were showered upon him. Full of eagerness and love, taking with him Tablets from Bahá'u'lláh, he hastened back to Persia, where, at all times worthy of trust, he laboured for the Cause. His services were outstanding, and he was a consolation to the believers' hearts. There was none to compare with him for energy, enthusiasm and zeal, and no man's services could equal his. He was a haven amidst the people, known everywhere for devotion to the Holy Threshold, widely acclaimed by the friends.1
We have already stated that Hájí Sháh-Muhammad and Hájí Abu'l-Hasan were the first believers to succeed in entering the city of 'Akká and attain the presence of Bahá'u'lláh in the public bath in the early days of His confinement in the Most Great Prison. Hájí Abu'l-Hasan--or Hájí Amín, as he generally became known--is one of the Apostles of Bahá'u'lláh whose life of self-sacrifice and utter dedication to the Cause has left a shining example for posterity to follow. In his youth he was a staunch Muslim. His parents arranged his marriage to the daughter of a merchant in his native town of Ardikán, Yazd. The merchant, who had six sons and one daughter, insisted that Hájí Amín, instead of living in the house of his father as was the custom, should live in the bride's home so that she would not live away from her parents. Hájí Amín's parents agreed to this request and he took up residence in the home of his father-in-law.

As a result of living in that house, Hájí Amín soon discovered that his brothers-in-law were all Bábís. His wife, like himself, was a devoted Muslim and was unaware of her brothers' faith. After lengthy discussions at gatherings of the Bábís, Hájí Amín became aware of the truth of the Cause of the Báb and embraced His Faith. He then taught his wife who also became a believer.

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1. Memorials of the Faithful, p. 46.
Some time later he recognized the station of Bahá'u'lláh and this brought about a mighty transformation in his life, a life totally and completely dedicated to Bahá'u'lláh. So thorough was this transformation of spirit that it is very hard, if not impossible, to attempt to fathom the depth of his dedication to his Lord, or describe in words an adequate appreciation of his outstanding and selfless services to the Cause he loved so much.

No doubt his first attaining the presence of Bahá'u'lláh in the public bath and in such dramatic circumstances as described earlier must have left an abiding impression on his soul and released the necessary forces for the making of one of the greatest spiritual giants of this Faith. His devotion to Bahá'u'lláh knew no bounds and because of this he was truly detached from this world. The flame of love for Bahá'u'lláh that burnt so brightly in his heart illumined the souls of the believers and burnt away the veils of blindness from the faces of the enemies.

He travelled extensively throughout Persia, went to the homes of almost every Bahá'í and poured out so much love and encouragement upon them that they all cherished his companionship. In their homes he was warmly accepted as a true father or brother, one who genuinely cared for the wellbeing and spiritual development of each. Knowing that he was an intimate and loving friend of everyone, parents (who in those days were in the habit of arranging marriages) often turned to him to suggest suitable partners for their sons and daughters.

Detachment from worldly things and utter self-sacrifice in the service of Bahá'u'lláh were among Hájí Amín's greatest qualities. Ever since he arose to serve the Cause as the assistant and confidant of Hájí Sháh-Muhammad, and later as the Trustee himself, Hájí Amín gave everything he had to the Cause. He kept not a penny for himself; he also made every possible effort to convey to the believers, by word and by deed, that man's most meritorious achievement in life is to

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offer up everything he has--his time, his labours, his substance and even his life--in the path of God. The Holy Writings fully confirm that there can be no loftier concept of life than this.

God has created two opposing forces within man, the animal and the spiritual. The animal nature inclines him to the material world; self and passion and attachment to earthly things are the characteristics of the animal nature. To subdue these powerful forces, the individual has to develop and strengthen his spiritual qualities so that they can dominate his animal inclinations. Within the human being there is a constant battle between these two forces. If it is left to nature, it is inevitable that the material side will dominate.

This is because the animal characteristics are part of his nature and without any effort on his part will drive him towards the material world. When this happens, man may behave in a manner even worse than an animal.

But the development of spiritual qualities is not controlled by nature. Although the soul aspires to spiritual things, the acquiring of spiritual qualities depends upon effort. It is in this domain that man has been given free will. This is very similar to a bird which in flight must use its wings to counteract the force of gravity. If it fails to do this, it will be pulled down instantly by this force.

The subduing of the animal nature through the ascendancy of the spiritual powers latent within man is the essence of detachment spoken of by Bahá'u'lláh in many of His Tablets. We have already discussed this theme in previous volumes and explained that by detachment is not meant poverty or the living of the life of a mendicant or an ascetic. To become careless of one's personal interests or the affairs of the world is contrary to the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh. Indeed, one may possess the things of this world and its riches and yet remain detached.*

To the extent that man can dominate his lower nature will he

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* For further information on this point see vols. 1 and 2, 'Detachment'.

become detached from this world. Not only has he to exert himself to acquire spiritual qualities, but also in subduing his self with all its manifold aspects, he must be prepared to go through pain and suffering and tests. This is only natural, for there is always a reaction when a force is suppressed. Man's material inclinations, when curbed by the dictates of his spiritual being, will undergo some form of deprivation and sacrifice. For instance, one may sacrifice his comfort and material means in order to help the poor and the needy. In so doing, one is rewarded spiritually, but has to give up something of material value instead.

This sacrifice, if carried out in the path of God and for His sake, is most meritorious. It enables the soul to become detached from the material world, and thus brings it closer to God. This is one of the fruits of sacrifice.

It was the realization of this important principle which led Hájí Amín to offer up everything he had to the Cause of God. Through the influence of the Word of God revealed by Bahá'u'lláh and the example set by Hájí Amín, the believers willingly poured out their substance for the promotion of the Cause. Being the Trustee of Bahá'u'lláh, he was the recipient of the friends' contributions. Although he exhorted the friends generally to sacrifice, he never solicited their giving to the funds, for such soliciting is forbidden in the Faith.

To give to the Bahá'í Fund is an act of devotion to God. It is voluntary and motivated by the desire on the part of the individual to sacrifice something of this material world and spend it in the path of God.

Man is born naked and when dead he is also naked. He brings nothing with him to this world, and when he departs he cannot take anything physical with him to the next. But whatever he has given to the Cause of God while on this earth, his time, his labours, his resources, as well as his services to his fellow human beings, these he can take with him to the spiritual realms. This is one way of transforming something which belongs to the world of matter into the spiritual worlds of God.

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The motive for contribution by the believers to the Huqúq'u'lláh or the Bahá'í Funds, whether in the days of Bahá'u'lláh or in any other time, has been and always will be their love for Bahá'u'lláh and His Cause. It is the love of the individual for Him that endows the offering, no matter how small, with a celestial potency through which the Cause of God can be propelled forward. This is why the privilege of giving to the Bahá'í Fund is exclusively vouchsafed to the believers. For the promotion of the Cause of God, whether through teaching or contributing to the Bahá'í Funds, is dependent upon devotion to Bahá'u'lláh and the performance of stainless deeds by the believers. These two factors bring victory to the Cause.

During the days of Bahá'u'lláh, the majority of the believers in Persia were poor, and some needy. But when Hájí Amín visited them, they had set aside through sacrifice small sums of money and were able to offer them for the Cause of God. It must be made clear that under Bahá'u'lláh's supervision the funds were spent for the promotion of the Cause, and very little, if any, for His own expenses or those of His companions. The history of the life of Bahá'u'lláh bears ample testimony to this fact. For during the forty years of His ministry He lived for the most part in the utmost poverty. There were days when a mere loaf of bread was not available to Him, and the garments He wore were the only clothes He had. The last few years of His earthly life, although relatively more comfortable, were nevertheless greatly influenced by the austerity that had characterized His life since the days of the Síyáh-Chál in Tihrán, when all His possessions had been confiscated and He had been deprived of the means to support Himself and His Family.*

Desire for wealth is non-existent in the person of the Manifestation of God. He abides in a realm which is independent of all creation. And he is detached from all earthly things. Bahá'u'lláh has stated in many of His Tablets that this

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* see vol. 1, p. 11.

mortal world is only a handful of dust and as utter nothingness in His sight. For example, in His second Tablet to Napoleon III, Bahá'u'lláh admonishes the monarch for his attachment to this world and states how insignificant this world is in His estimation. These are His words, uttered with authority and might:

He, for Whose sake the world was called into being, hath been imprisoned in the most desolate of cities ('Akká), by reason of that which the hands of the wayward have wrought. From the horizon of His prison-city He summoneth mankind unto the Dayspring of God, the Exalted, the Great. Exultest thou over the treasures thou dost possess, knowing they shall perish? Rejoicest thou in that thou rulest a span of earth, when the whole world, in the estimation of the people of Bahá, is worth as much as the black in the eye of a dead ant? Abandon it unto such as have set their affections upon it, and turn thou unto Him Who is the Desire of the world.2
And in His Will and Testament, the Kitáb-i-'Ahd, He has left us these exalted words:

Although the Realm of Glory hath none of the vanities of the world, yet within the treasury of trust and resignation we have bequeathed to Our heirs an excellent and priceless heritage. Earthly treasures We have not bequeathed, nor have We added such cares as they entail. By God! In earthly riches fear is hidden and peril is concealed. Consider ye and call to mind that which the All-Merciful hath revealed in the Qur'án: 'Woe betide every slanderer and defamer, him that layeth up riches and counteth them.' Fleeting are the riches of the world; all that perisheth and changeth is not, and hath never been, worthy of attention, except to a recognized measure.3
It must be pointed out that the same attitude of detachment from earthly things so permeated the souls of 'Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi, the two successive Centres of the Cause of
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2. The Proclamation of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 22.

3. Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 219.

Bahá'u'lláh, that it was against their nature to turn their affection to the things of this world. They both lived austere lives and followed the example of Bahá'u'lláh. Although they received large contributions from the friends, they authorized their spending strictly for the promotion of the Cause of God and did not have the slightest inclination to spend the funds for their own personal ends. Indeed, similar to Bahá'u'lláh, neither of them had any personal assets, whether monetary or of any other type.

When 'Abdu'l-Bahá travelled to the West to spread the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh and diffuse the divine fragrances in Europe and America, He had to use some of the funds which the Persian friends had contributed to Hájí Amín as Huqúq'u'lláh. But He observed such care in spending the absolute minimum for Himself that His companions sometimes felt concerned about the lack of comfort which often resulted.

The renowned chronicler of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's journeys to the West, Mírzá Mahmúd-i-Zarqání, His devoted secretary and companion, has recorded in his diaries (Badáyi'u'l-Áthár) that when 'Abdu'l-Bahá and His party were travelling across the United States, the train journey proved to be tiring--especially for 'Abdu'l-Bahá who was nearly seventy years of age. Yet in spite of this, He frequently declined to pay the extra small sum of money for sleeping accommodation on the train. Instead He would sit up all night on the hard wooden seats and close His eyes to rest. But, as demonstrated on that journey, He opened His purse and generously placed coins of silver and gold in the palms of the poor and needy wherever He found them. How different are the ways of God and man!

It was during those same epoch-making journeys that 'Abdu'l-Bahá demonstrated a magnanimity and detachment characteristic of God's chosen ones by declining with graciousness all offers of funds and gifts from friends and strangers.

In his famous diaries Mírzá Mahmúd recounts a story of

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'Abdu'l-Bahá when He was in New York shortly before His departure from the United States:

...that day some of the friends presented 'Abdu'l-Bahá with some funds, but He did not take them in spite of their persistently begging Him to accept them. He said: 'Offer it up to the poor on my behalf. It would be as if I have personally given to them. But for me the best gift is the unity between the loved ones of God, their service to the Cause, the diffusion of divine fragrances and their carrying out the teachings and exhortations of the Blessed Beauty.'

On such occasions the believers became very sad, because their offerings were not accepted by their Beloved. In spite of this the believers in New York, knowing that these were the last few days of His stay in the United States, gathered some presents for the members of the Holy Family*...some of the friends had vowed together that they would persist in their request for acceptance of the gifts, that they would cling to the hem of his garment and not leave His presence until He accepted their offerings. They presented their gifts and earnestly pleaded with Him to take them. He then spoke to them in these words:

'I am very grateful for all your services. Truly you have served me, offered hospitality, rendered your services day and night and persevered in the diffusion of divine fragrances. I shall never forget your devoted services, because you had no other motive but to attain the good pleasure of God, and had desired no station other than entry into His Kingdom. Now you have brought some gifts for my family. These gifts are very praiseworthy, but more exquisite than these are the gifts of the love of God which may be preserved within the treasure-house of the hearts. The former gifts are transitory, but the latter are eternal. These gifts are to be kept in boxes and upon the shelves and will eventually perish, but the other will remain eternally in all the worlds of God treasured within the heart. Therefore I

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* Including the wife of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, His sister, daughters and other female members of His household.

carry with me your love to them [i.e. The Holy Family] which is the greatest gift of all. In our house there is no room for diamond rings or other jewellery. That house is devoid of the vanities of this world.

'Now, I accept these gifts, but I entrust them to you to sell them and send the proceeds to Chicago for the construction of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár [Bahá'í House of Worship].'

The friends, with tearful eyes, were disappointed. 'Abdu'l-Bahá said: 'I want to take with me a gift from you which may remain till eternity, the jewels which belong to the treasure-house of the heart.'

In spite of much persistence and shedding of tears the beloved Master did not accept the gifts and asked the friends to spend them for the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár in Chicago.4

Returning to the story of Hájí Amín, he lived a long life and was Trustee of the Huqúq'u'lláh during the ministries of Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá and during part of the ministry of Shoghi Effendi. During his long and turbulent life he was a source of inspiration and loving guidance for all the believers. He often visited their homes and urged them to become detached from the things of the world and to follow the path of modesty in all aspects of life. He disliked extravagance, as it would lessen the ability of the believers to contribute all they could to the Cause of God. So much was he against extravagance that whenever the friends invited him to dinner, they knew that Hájí Amín would be most unhappy if they entertained him lavishly with various dishes at the table. He insisted that there be only one dish and that it consist of the simplest food. He often urged the host to add some extra water to the pot for his share of the food, and this recipe of adding extra water is widely known among the Persian believers as 'The soup of Hájí Amín'!

There are many heartwarming stories about the way he conducted his life and the sacrifices he made in order to serve His Lord. These stories, ranging from trifling anecdotes to highly interesting and instructive comments made by him are

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4. Zarqání, Badáyi'u'l-Áthár, vol. 2, pp. 395-7.
entertaining and popular, but must be left out here, because to appreciate them the reader needs to be familiar with the customs and way of life at that time in the Middle East.

Hájí Amín suffered many persecutions in his long life of service. Among them was his imprisonment first in Tihrán and then in Qazvín in the year AH 1308 (AD 1891) along with Mullá 'Alí-Akbar-i-Sháhmírzádí, known as Hájí Ákhúnd, one of the Hands of the Cause of God appointed by Bahá'u'lláh. These two heroes of God were imprisoned by the orders of Násiri'd-Dín Sháh and his son Kámrán Mírzá, the Governor of Tihrán. Their imprisonment in Qazvín lasted about eighteen months, after which Hájí Ákhúnd was released but Hájí Amín was transferred to a prison in Tihrán where he remained for a further year. During this period their feet were kept in stocks and their necks placed in chains. When in the prison of Qazvín, a photographer was specially sent to take their photograph for the monarch to see. This photograph, showing the two in chains sitting with absolute resignation and calm, is widely in circulation among the believers. It was placed by 'Abdu'l-Bahá in the hallway of His house opposite His room. He gazed upon it many times and rejoiced in His heart at beholding the faces of the two who were chained and fettered in the path of Bahá'u'lláh and were the embodiment of steadfastness and faith among the believers.

It was soon after the imprisonment of these two souls in Qazvín that Bahá'u'lláh in the opening paragraph of the Lawh-i-Dunyá* (Tablet of the World) referred to the prison of Qazvín as 'mighty prison' and revealed these exalted words in their honour:

Praise and thanksgiving beseem the Lord of manifest dominion Who hath adorned this mighty prison with the presence of their honours 'Alí Akbar and Amín, and hath illumined it with the light of certitude, constancy and
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* This Tablet was revealed in honour of Mírzá Áqáy-i-Afnán, entitled Núr'u'd-Dín. We shall refer to him and to the Tablet in the next volume.


Lawh-i-Dunyá
assurance. The glory of God and the glory of all that are in the heavens and on the earth be upon them.

Light and glory, greeting and praise be upon the Hands of His Cause, through whom the light of fortitude hath shone forth and the truth hath been established that the authority to choose rests with God, the Powerful, the Mighty, the Unconstrained, through whom the ocean of bounty hath surged and the fragrance of the gracious favours of God, the Lord of mankind, hath been diffused. We beseech Him--Exalted is he--to shield them through the power of His hosts, to protect them through the potency of His dominion and to aid them through His indomitable strength which prevaileth over all created things. Sovereignty is God's, the Creator of the heavens and the Lord of the Kingdom of Names.5

It is interesting to note that of the two mentioned in the Tablet, only Mullá 'Alí-Akbar had been nominated a Hand of the Cause of God by Bahá'u'lláh. However, Shoghi Effendi, Guardian of the Faith, conferred the same rank upon Hájí Amín posthumously. Hájí Amín passed away in Tihrán in 1928, leaving behind an imperishable memory among the believers. Upon his death Shoghi Effendi appointed Hájí Ghulám-Ridá (entitled Amín-i-Amín), who for several years had been Hájí Amín's assistant, to succeed him as Trustee of the Huqúq'u'lláh.

In appreciation of Hájí Amín's services, 'Abdu'l-Bahá named one of the doors of the Shrine of the Báb after him.

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