- Oct 2013
- Glenwood, Queensland, Australia
In the book compiled by Kiser D. Barnes, entitled Stories of Bahá’u’lláh and Some Notable Believers the story is related of the time when ‘Abdu’r-Raḥmán Páshá was going to arrest the believers as they opened their shops. Many, if not all, will know the story, or at least the gist of it. The story is posted here, but note that the bolding is my own, highlighting purposefully regards leaving matters in God's Hands, and how God assists even the evil doer as it suits His Magnificent Purpose for his created creatures. This is story 56 in the volume:
With most warm greetingsDuring the time that Bahá’u’lláh resided in the house of ‘Abbúd, His fellow exiles had fully settled down in the city of ‘Akká, and most of them were successful in their humble professions. During the governorship of Aḥmad Big Tawfíq, they enjoyed relative peace in their work. But with the arrival of a new Governor, ‘Abdu’r-Raḥmán Páshá, the situation changed. For he proved to be one of the most hostile Governors towards Bahá’u’lláh and His companions. He was very covetous and when his designs to extract money from the company of exiles failed, he submitted an inflammatory report to the authorities in Istanbul. He complained that instead of imprisonment, all the Bahá’ís in ‘Akká were free and working. The response from the Sublime Porte—the office of the Grand Vizir in Istanbul—was that the edict of the Sulṭán must be obeyed, that they were prisoners and had no right to work.
Ḥusayn-i-Áshchí has given a detailed account of this episode in his memoirs. It must be noted that Áqá Ḥusayn was at the time serving a sentence in prison because of his part in the slaying of three Azalís in ‘Akká, but through the goodwill of some of the authorities, he was allowed to go every morning to the house of Bahá’u’lláh where he used to work as a cook and return to the prison at night. The following is a summary of his notes:
When ‘Abdu’r-Raḥmán Páshá received the note from the Sublime Porte condemning the exiles to imprisonment, it boosted his arrogance. He decided to use it as a means of extracting some money for himself …Having failed to do this, one evening he called on Shaykh ‘Alíy-i-Mírí, the Muftí of ‘Akká (the religious leader of the city who usually wielded greater influence and authority than a governor) who was an admirer of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, and shared with him his plan of arresting the Bahá’ís in the morning. His plan was to arrest them as they came to open their shops and send them to prison. He also planned to restrict ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s freedom of movement in the city. He solicited the support of the Muftí in this plan …That same night the Muftí went to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, told him the news and strongly urged the Master to bribe the Governor, as otherwise everyone would be arrested in the morning. Disapproving the Muftí’s solution, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá assured him that God was compassionate and merciful, and that He would leave this matter in the hand of God. He advised him to go home and to rest assured of the outcome. It was late and Bahá’u’lláh had just retired. Nevertheless, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá went to Him and gave Him the news. Bahá’u’lláh ordered that the believers be advised not to go to work in the morning. Everyone was informed and they all assembled in the reception room of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in the morning.
I was, at the time, confined to prison … but each morning was permitted to go to the house of Bahá’u’lláh where I worked as a cook and at night I returned to prison. On that morning, on my way, I noticed that the shop of Áqá Muḥammad-Ibráhím, the coppersmith, was closed and so were other shops belonging to the believers. I was very surprised and wondered what had happened. I hastened to the house of Bahá’u’lláh where I found all the shopkeepers assembled in the reception room. I was told the news and went into the kitchen to work. It was approximately two hours after sunrise when a man pushed aside the curtain in front of the door with his walking stick. I looked up and it was Iskandar Effendi, the head of the telegraph office. He was in great haste but signs of joy could be detected in his appearance. He wanted to see the Master who was upstairs at the time. I went up and found that He was in the presence of Bahá’u’lláh. I told the Master that Iskandar Effendi had come to see Him and he was in a happy mood. The Blessed Beauty smiled and said ‘Go downstairs, Áqá! He has good news. No one can frustrate God in His purpose.’
‘Abdu’l-Bahá went to the reception room where He was shown a telegram just received containing the order of dismissal of ‘Abdu’r-Raḥmán Páshá. After a few minutes He went hurriedly upstairs. Halfway up, I asked Him if he could tell me the news. He smiled and said in a loud voice, ‘God has struck a severe blow at the Páshá.’ He then went to convey the news to Bahá’u’lláh.
As to ‘Abdu’r-Raḥmán Páshá, in the morning, accompanied by a few soldiers, he went to arrest the believers at their shops and send them to prison. To his surprise he found their shops were closed. At first he thought the late opening was perhaps due to the month of Ramaḍán when people were going late to work. Soon after, he went to the Police Station where he waited for the shops to open up. During this time he was unaware of God’s intervention … The above telegram was addressed to Shaykh ‘Alíy-i-Mírí, the Muftí of ‘Akká, who communicated its content to the Páshá … The Muftí had been truly astonished by this event. For it was late in the evening when the Governor’s scheme had come to light, and in the morning the telegram arrived. He considered this incident to have been a miracle. He said to the Master, ‘I am almost on the verge of losing my mind over this episode. Please tell me, what did Bahá’u’lláh say late that evening when you informed Him of the plot?’ ‘Abdu’l-Bahá responded by saying that the Blessed Beauty ordered the believers not to open their shops in the morning and advised them to leave their affairs in the hand of God. Bahá’u’lláh also declared that when a person leaves his affairs to God, he ought not to take any other measures himself, otherwise he could frustrate the plan of God.
In a Tablet Bahá’u’lláh describes ‘Abdu’r-Raḥmán Páshá as an embodiment of Satan, one who ruled over God in ‘Akká. He asserts that God assisted him in his evil schemes for some time, until suddenly He took hold of him with might and power. Admonishing the ousted Governor, Bahá’u’lláh states that he was unable to prevent God from executing His will, and reminds him that men greater than him did not succeed in frustrating His purpose. He also refers to the fate of other hostile governors and officials who were either dismissed or stricken with disease through the power of God.