Prayers/readings for study
“Verily, We have enjoined on every son to serve his father.” Such is the decree which We have set forth in the Book. (Bahá’u’lláh, Kitab-i-Aqdas, Q.104, p.138)
- Tell the story of Baha’u’llah’s family during the events of the Festival of Ridván; how they served Baha’u’llah in His upcoming exile and were reunited with Him in the Garden on the 9th day of Ridván.
- David Merrick put together an excellent resource, The Story of Ridván, which gives a detailed picture of the events surrounding Bahá’u’lláh’s Declaration.
- BahaiTeachings.org has a wonderful article explaining the significance of the 9th day of Ridván, which includes recollections from Bahiyyih Khanum about the events related to the Festival of Ridván.
- The stories entitled “Hunger”, “The Chase”, and “Money” from Stories of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá by Jacqueline Mehrabi dramatize an episode of the life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá while His Father was imprisoned in the Siyáh-Chál, describing the dangers He faced in bringing money home for His family to eat.
- Ask the children to think of ways that they have rendered service to their parents and family, such as their regular household duties, or another act of service that they rendered on a special occasion (for instance, making a special breakfast on Mother’s Day). Help them to choose a particular act of service and illustrate it on paper.
- Service project: As Bahá’u’lláh has enjoined upon all children to serve their parents, ask the children to think of realistic ways in which they can serve their parents, to celebrate the 9th day of Ridván and fulfill His command. You could start by reminding the children of the sacrificial efforts of Bahá’u’lláh’s family to pack up their household’s belongings before they all left for Baghdad. Then, ask each of them to pick at least one act of service, and write them down in a list on a piece of paper; during the week, each child will be expected to carry out the service he or she has chosen, as if they were members of Bahá’u’lláh’s household: with joy, radiance, sacrifice and reverence. At the next class, ask the children to talk about their experience and about how their parents reacted.
- Greeting cards for parents and family: These can take many shapes and forms, using a variety of different media: stickers, inks and stamps, collage, paint (tempera or watercolour), or just plain crayons and markers can be used. If a service project is planned, the cards can explain a little about the project and state the child’s commitment to the service he or she has chosen. Otherwise, the cards can simply say “I love you”, “Thank you (for being the best mom/dad/uncle/sister”), “Happy 9th Day of Ridván”, or whatever the children want to express.
Bahá’u’lláh left his house in Baghdad for the last time on the afternoon of 22 April 1863. He walked through crowds of friends, acquaintances and the merely curious down to the river where he took a small boat across to the garden. He was accompanied by his sons, his secretary Mirza Aqa Jan and perhaps others. He reached the garden just at the time for afternoon prayers. There for the next eleven days he received farewell visits from his friends, including the governor. The river rose soon after his arrival, so it was not until the ninth day, 30 April, that his family was able to join him. (John Walbridge, Ridván)
Blessed is the spot, and the house, and the place, and the city, and the heart, and the mountain, and the refuge, and the cave, and the valley, and the land, and the sea, and the island, and the meadow where mention of God hath been made, and His praise glorified. (Bahá’u’lláh, compiled in Baha’i Prayers)
The fruits that best befit the tree of human life are trustworthiness and godliness, truthfulness and sincerity; but greater than all, after recognition of the unity of God, praised and glorified be He, is regard for the rights that are due to one’s parents. This teaching hath been mentioned in all the Books of God, and reaffirmed by the Most Exalted Pen. Consider that which the Merciful Lord hath revealed in the Qur’án, exalted are His words: “Worship ye God, join with Him no peer or likeness; and show forth kindliness and charity towards your parents…” Observe how loving-kindness to one’s parents hath been linked to recognition of the one true God! (Bahá’u’lláh, Kitab-i-Aqdas, Q.106, p.139)
If love and agreement are manifest in a single family, that family will advance, become illumined and spiritual; but if enmity and hatred exist within it, destruction and dispersion are inevitable. How easily, where unity existeth in a given family, the affairs of that family are conducted; what progress the members of that family make, how they prosper in the world. Their concerns are in order, they enjoy comfort and tranquillity, they are secure, their position is assured, they come to be envied by all. Such a family but addeth to its stature and its lasting honor, as day succeedeth day. It is one of the essential teachings of the [Baha’i] Faith that unity should be maintained in the home. (Quoted in The Family – A Baha’i Perspective, a Statement to The Family As The First Community, a consultation sponsored by the New York NGO Working Group on the Family, p.1)