Honouring the martyrs

I noticed, today, that Steve has more links down the left-hand side of his blog. One of the new links is called Baha'i Blog. It contains a lot of news about the events going on in the Baha'i world. One of the events I learned about was that a Baha'i was martyred in Iran in mid-December 2005. I didn't hear about it at the time. The man's name was Zabihollah Mahrami. He mysteriously died in his prison cell, after being in prison for 10 years. In 1996, the Revolutionary Court sentenced him to death for apostasy but, because of an international outcry, he was given life imprisonment instead.

God only knows what this man must have gone through in those 10 years. When I hear news like this, I am lost in wonder at how anyone could endure such treatment. The only way that I can understand it is that God creates each of us for a particular purpose and with a particular strength. This man's incredible endurance is a testimony to the fact that he realised the purpose for which he was created. God turned him into a new creation and he was able to show forth superhuman qualities; that is, divine qualities. We know that he will be grateful to God for the tests God put him through and that they will be his source of glory forever.

I'm in the process of reading the Epistle to the Son of the Wolf and, in there, Baha'u'llah makes an interesting comment. It bears on our responsibility to honour the death of this man and others like him. "Say, O friends! Strive that haply the tribulations suffered by this Wronged One and by you, in the path of God, may not prove to have been in vain. Cling to the hem of virtue, and hold fast to the cord of trustworthiness and piety. Concern yourselves with the things that benefit mankind, and not with your corrupt and selfish desires." (page 29) What struck me about this passage was Baha'u'llah's comment that we should not let the tribulations people suffer in the Cause to be in vain. If we ourselves are not truly recreated by the spirit of Baha'u'llah, then the sacrifice of others is lost to the world (although not to them).

Here is the much-quoted passage of the Guardian about the importance of our inner lives reflecting divine qualities. The inner transformation is the crucial thing. Without that, it's all just show:

"Humanity, through suffering and turmoil, is swiftly moving on towards its destiny; if we be loiterers, if we fail to play our part surely others will be called upon to take up our task as ministers to the crying needs of this afflicted world.

Not by the force of numbers, not by the mere exposition of a set of new and noble principles, not by an organized campaign of teaching - no matter how worldwide and elaborate in its character - not even by the staunchness of our faith or the exaltation of our enthusiasm, can we ultimately hope to vindicate in the eyes of a critical and sceptical age the supreme claim of the Abha Revelation. One thing and only one thing will unfailingly and alone secure the undoubted triumph of this sacred Cause, namely, the extent to which our own inner life and private character mirror forth in their manifold aspects the splendor of those eternal principles proclaimed by Baha'u'llah."

Shoghi Effendi: Baha'i Administration, p 66

Go to the original blog entry...