Forgiveness - God's

At one time enemies of the Master, Covenant-breakers who lived in the Mansion next to the Shrine, offered one of Bahá’u’lláh’s cloaks and a pair of His spectacles to the governor of Haifa. They encouraged him to go and visit ‘Abdu’l-Bahá with the cloak on his shoulders and with the glasses. When he came, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá realized that he was wearing things which had belonged to His Father, and He was deeply grieved. However, He did not say a word and treated the man with His usual extreme courtesy and love. That day passed, but the time came when that same governor was put in prison and in chains. It was ‘Abdu’l-Bahá who hastened to help and liberate him. After receiving such unexpected kindness, he begged for forgiveness saying, ‘It was not my fault. Your enemies misled me into taking such a grievous step.’

Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 91

I spend much of my time travelling, visiting many countries and meeting Bahá’ís and their friends. Very often we will sit and talk about the teachings and about prayer. It is often a surprise to me how some of the friends say they don't pray. One devoted believer told me that Bahá’u’lláh had said work is worship, that he works so many hours in a week for the Faith he has no time left to pray. Others say they don't understand prayer, they don't see why they should pursue it. It seems to me these friends are missing a priceless pearl. A few weeks ago, while I was on a tour, a fine young man asked me if I could give him some comfort, which he said he needed badly, and he explained that he had been living the kind of life that he was sure God could never forgive him for. He asked me, "How can I possibly square myself with God?'' My heart ached for him, he was so sincere, and yet I was so glad to be able to assure him that he had already been forgiven, that God is the All-Knowing, the All- Wise, the Ever-Forgiving, the Ever- Loving, the Most-Merciful. Me said, "How I wish I could believe that." I happened to have a quotation from the Qur'an in my hand where Muhammad had said, "Prayer is a ladder by which everyone can ascend to heaven." He seemed to be comforted by that assurance that everyone can ascend to heaven.

A certain shaykh became very jealous of the respect which he saw given to the Báb during the voyage and daily grew more envious. He made himself objectionable to all the passengers on the boat , molesting and trying to quarrel with everyone, but he singled out the Báb as a particular victim of his abuse and cruelty. The Arab captain of the boat became so exasperated by this man’s behaviour that he ordered his sailors to throw him overboard. When the Báb heard of this, He pleaded the shaykh’s cause with the captain. The captain listened but was still determined to rid himself of this troublesome passenger. When the Báb saw the sailors preparing to hurl the man into the sea, He hurled himself at the shaykh and held on to him, begging the captain to forgive him. The captain was astonished, for he knew that the Báb had suffered more than anyone else on the boat from the insolent behaviour of the shaykh. The Báb explained to the captain that this quarrelsome man was hurting himself far more than he was hurting others by his behaviour and that therefore, they should all be tolerant towards him.

Mary Perkins, Hour of the Dawn: The Life of the Báb, p. 60-61

Alas for the sin of disobedience! He had said "Go and rest." But we were so anxious to write down His words while they were fresh in our minds that we stayed in the dining room until late, and -- shameful to confess after our day in Heaven! -- began to argue about the New York Assembly: as to whether or not it was united! Mr Kinney declared that it was. I said it was not. I even went so far as to mention the breeder of the discord, to condemn her destructive work! But when X and I crept off to the room we were temporarily occupying -- crept through the black, vaulted halls and rooms, over the old stone floors, to the rear wing of the house -- a feeling of guilt such as I could hardly bear consumed me. Next morning when I met our Lord outside the dining room door, in the sunny little court I so love because it is associated with His footsteps, with the benediction of His Presence, looking with eyes that ... forgave? ... no, that understood ... deep, deep into my eyes, He put out His hand and took mine in a clasp of love.

Diary of Juliet Thompson

At the Annual Bahá’í Convention held in Chicago in 1923 Jinab-i-Fadil told the following story: A woman went to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, received His teachings and blessings, and asked for a special work. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said, ‘Spread the law of love. Live in accord with love, reciprocity and cooperation.’ She answered, ‘I want something special. All Bahá’ís are asked to do this.’ ‘Abdu’l-Bahá answered, ‘Very well. Come tomorrow morning, when you are about to leave, and I will give you the special work.’ She was very happy all that day and night, in anticipation. The next day ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said to her, ‘I am going to give you my son that you may educate him physically, mentally and spiritually.’

She was surprised, and was made happy at this. But her surprise gave way to wonder when she reflected that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had no son. What could He mean? ‘Abdu’l-Bahá asked, ‘Do you know this son of mine?’ Then He told her: In her city there had lived a man, her worst enemy. He had died leaving a son, who no one to take care of him: this was now her task. When she heard this she was overwhelmed. She was spiritually reborn. She wept and said, ‘My Master, I now know what the Bahá’í Cause means.’

Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 106

In His almost off-hand brushing aside of a cruelty, in the ineffable sweetness with which He ignored it, it was as though He said: Forgiveness belongs only to God. 'An example of this was His memorable meeting with the royal prince, Zillah Sultan, brother of the Shah of Persia, Muhammad 'Ali Shah. Not only ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, but a great number of His followers, band after band of Bahá’í martyrs, had suffered worse than death at the hands of these two princes . . . One day Zillah Sultan came to him. In describing the scene later, the European said: "If you could have heard the wretch mumbling his miserable excuses!" But ‘Abdu’l-Bahá took the prince in His arms. "All that is of the past," He answered. "Never think of it again. Send your two sons to see me. I want to meet your sons." 'They came, one at a time. Each spent a day with the Master. The first, though an immature boy, nevertheless showed Him great deference. The second, older and more sensitive, left the room of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, where he had been received alone, weeping uncontrollably. "If only I could be born again," he said, "into any other family than mine." 'For not only had many Bahá’ís been martyred during his uncle's reign (upwards of a hundred by his father's instigation), and the life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá threatened again and again, but his grandfather, Nasiri'd-Din Shah, had ordered the execution of the Báb, as well as the torture and death of thousands of Bábís. 'The young prince was "born again" -- a Bahá’í.'

Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 51