Wedding - ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

Before His wedding day, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá made the necessary arrangements for the few guests. His mother and sister made a delicate bridal dress of white batiste. A white head-dress adorned Munirih Khánum’s hair, worn, as usual, in two braids. At nine in the evening she went with the Greatest Holy Leaf into the presence of Bahá’u’lláh, Who gave her His blessing. She then went to the bridal room and awaited the coming of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. The service was very simple. At about ten o’clock ‘Abdu’l-Bahá came, accompanied by the guests, and Munirih Khánum chanted a tablet revealed by Bahá’u’lláh. ‘Later, the wife of ‘Abbud recalled the sweetness of that chanting still ringing in her ears.’ There were no choir, decorations or cake – just cups of tea. Above all, a glory and a love there were more than sufficient to bless the happy event.

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

I remember when I was a girl the news came to Isfahan from Nabil that Jamal-i-Mubarak [Bahá’u’lláh] was imprisoned in the fortress town of `Akká, shut in behind iron doors, never going out! As I thought of Him in that poisonous climate - He Who loved the seas, the hills, and the plains, gardens, flowers and quick movement in the open air - my heart seemed broken, and I shut myself into my room alone, that I might weep river of tears. And now came the never-to-be-forgotten days, when Shaykh Salman arrived at Isfahan, bringing word from Bahá’u’lláh that He wished me to come to Him. I was beside myself with joy, that I should, whilst I lived, see my Lord! Even though the journey should be full of difficulty and danger, of suffering indescribable, of risks uncountable, none of these considerations weighed anything in the balance against the gladness of starting on a pilgrimage, with my face steadfastly set towards the presence of the Holy One.

Accordingly, I set forth with my brother and Shaykh Salman on the journey from Isfahan to `Akká. Extreme caution was necessary - we refrained from intercourse with any of the friends - especially we took care that, not through any word or action of ours, should it become known that the two devoted brothers, Mirza Hasan and Mirza Hasayn of Isfahan, were Bábís. These two dear first cousins of mine were always of great help to any of the friends who were in trouble, but that aid was necessarily given in strict secrecy, so terrible was the danger to property, limb, and life incurred by any, upon whom the suspicion of being a Bábí might fall.

These two brothers were the first to send material help to the exiles at `Akká, and the friends, sojourning at Mosul, were rescued from sheer starvation by supplies of corn and money, promptly despatched to them by these generous disciples.

The tragedy of their martyrdom in 1878, when they were given the glorious names of "King of the Martyrs" and "Beloved of the Martyrs," was indeed a work of evil, by base hands wrought; truly one of the "dark deeds without a name."

Shaykh Salman had brought directions from Bahá’u’lláh for our journey.

We gave out that we were going to Mecca.

On our return from the holy shine, we were directed to stay at Jiddah until all the twenty Bábís who had accompanied us had gone back to their homes, having accomplished the pilgrimage to Mecca; none of them being permitted, because of the perilous conditions, to proceed to `Akká. We waited at Jiddah, exercising the greatest circumspection; extreme danger surrounded all. Bahá’u’lláh was in strictest confinement.

We had grown accustomed to looking into the face of sudden death and numberless other perils, with the fortitude inspired by our gladness and heart of grace; for were we not pilgrims, making our ways to the presence of our beloved Lord at His own express command?

At length we left Jiddah; my brother and myself, Shaykh Salman, and one servant, such was the little party of four who were permitted to make this pilgrimage to `Akká. To describe all the incidents of that memorable journey would be to fill a great book.

My wonderful stay at Shiraz - my precious friendship with Khadijih Khánum, that gentle, sorrow-stricken lady, the widow of the Supreme Báb - all this you know.

Always exercising the greatest discretion we proceeded on our way. We embarked at Alexandria for `Akká; a telegram came: "Do not land until fetched."

Nobody came! We thought that our boat would depart with us still on board. At the last moment we saw a small boat coming swiftly towards us. "Shaykh Salman"! We heard the cry; our joyful hearts were singing glad songs as we climbed down into the tiny skiff. And we had arrived at `Akká.

Permission to enter the city was obtained in this way.

`Abbud, a Christian merchant, landlord of the 'little house,' as it came to be called, where Bahá’u’lláh and His family were then living, had stated that he expected some friends to visit him. As his friends we entered `Akká, and went straightway to his house.

The room prepared for me was that of which the door was eventually opened into the 'little house." This room was to become my bridal chamber, my nursery night and day, my sitting-room, my all! Glorious was my happiness! I am living it all over again in telling it to you, dear Ladyee, now.

In a few days I went to stay at the house of Mirza Musa, the brother of Bahá’u’lláh; here I remained for six months. My brother and I used to stand at a window and watch `Abbas Effendi swimming; such a strong and graceful swimmer. Every afternoon about five o'clock the wife of Mirza Musa would go with me to visit Bahá’u’lláh. I cannot describe the wonder and gladness and happiness of being in His presence. My soul was wrapt in an ecstasy of utter joy, and seemed to float in a celestial atmosphere of peace and loving-kindness.

Many beautiful daughters were offered from time to time by parents anxious that their child should have the honour of becoming the wife of the Master. He refused to consider any of them, until I arrived; we met each other once, and our marriage was arranged.

There was a delay because there was no room available in the "little house."

Now `Abbud, the landlord of the "little house," and of the larger one next to it, had become devoted to the Master, in whom he recognized qualities like unto those of the Lord Christ.

One day he asked to be received by Bahá’u’lláh, to Whom he said: "Wherefore the delay in the marriage?" Being told the reason, he exclaimed: "I can arrange about the room. I pray Thee, let me have the honour of preparing a place for the Master and His bride." He hastened to have the door opened through into an extra room, which he furnished simply and comfortably. "The room is now ready, O Master."

The next day, Bahá’u’lláh asked Khánum, His daughter, not to let their visitor (Munirih Khánum) return to her abode. Khánum brought a dainty white frock (which Asiyih Khánum and she had made for me of white batiste) and put it on to me, with a fresh white niqab (head-dress) on my head - and I was adorned for my wedding.

The guests were few, Asiyih Khánum, Bahiyyih Khánum, the wife of `Abbud, her three daughters (one of these wished to dress my hair more elaborately than usual, but I preferred to leave it in its two plaits), and the wife of Mirza Musa.

Bahá’u’lláh spoke wonderful words to me; "Oh Munirih! Oh my Leaf! I have destined you for the wife of My Greatest Branch. This is the bounty of God to you. In earth or in heaven there is no greater gift. Many have come, but We have rejected them and chosen you. Oh Munirih! Be worthy of Him, and of Our generosity to you."

If I were to try to describe my elation, my ecstasy of joy, "Mathnavi would become seventy volumes" (Persian proverb; "Mathnavi" a book of poems).

Oh that this hour had been everlasting!

Bahá’u’lláh had previously revealed a Tablet for us which the guests wished me to chant to them. "When the gates of the sacred garden are set open, and the holy youth issues forth, verily he hath come with a Message of great import.

"Great tidings! Glad tidings! "This is that holy youth who hath come, bringing the Message of great joy." (In Persian this is remarkably beautiful, and the guests were deeply touched by the poetry of the language, chanted by the lovely voice of Munirih Khánum.)

Bahá’u’lláh had said to the Master: "Come back early this afternoon, the wedding must take place today." Bahá’u’lláh chanted the prayers. Oh the spiritual happiness which enfolded us! It cannot be described in earthly words.

The chanting ended, the guests left us. I was the wife of my Beloved. How wonderful and noble He was in His beauty. I adored Him. I recognized His greatness, and thanked God for bringing me to Him.

It is impossible to put into words the delight of being with the Master; I seemed to be in a glorious realm of sacred happiness whilst in His company. You have known Him in His later years, but then, in the youth of His beauty and manly vigour, with His unfailing love, His kindness, His cheerfulness, His sense of humour, His untiring consideration for everybody, He was marvellous, without equal, surely in all the earth!

At the wedding there was no cake, only cups of tea; there were no decorations, and no choir, but the blessing of Jamal-i-Mubarak; the glory and beauty of love and happiness were beyond and above all luxury and ceremony and circumstance. For fifty years my Beloved and I were together. Never were

we separated save during His visits to Egypt, Europe, and America.

O my Beloved husband and my Lord! How shall I speak of Him? You, who have known Him, can imagine what my fifty years have been - how they fled by in an atmosphere of love and joy and the perfection of that Peace which passeth all understanding, in the radiant light of which I await the day when I shall be called to join Him, in the celestial garden of transfiguration.

Lady Blomfield, The Chosen Highway

The occasion of the wedding had one peculiar feature so characteristic of my brother that I will mention it. Our marriage service is very simple, consisting of the reading of a tablet and the exchange of promises by the contracting parties. It is usually followed by feasting and the entertainment of friends until late at night.

Our Master had made, personally and with great care, all the preparations for receiving and entertaining the guests. The ceremony was performed by the Blessed Perfection about two P.M. My brother then quietly withdrew without speaking to any one, and did not return until after the guests had dispersed.

It was not from want of consideration for the solemnity of the occasion or for his bride that he did this, for the tender affection which he has always shown for her disproves this; or for his guests, for his minute attention to the arrangements for their pleasure disproves this also. But it was his habit to spend this part of the day and the evening in visiting the poor and sick and explaining the Koran, he being frequently thus occupied until a late hour. He never permitted his own affairs to interfere with the discharge of these duties, and was unwilling to neglect them even on this occasion.

Myron Henry Phelps and Bahiyyih Khánum, Life and Teachings of Abbas Effendi, p. 91-92