On one occasion an unfriendly Governor, hating these peaceful, honest Baha’is, thought of a plan for destroying their means of livelihood. He gave orders to the police: “There are fifteen shops owned by Baha’is; go tomorrow morning early, lock them up and bring the keys to me.”
The Master called the Baha’is to him that same evening and said:
“Do not open your shops to-morrow, but wait and see what God will send to us.”
The next morning the Governor waited for the keys… “Go,” he said to the police, “and see if the shops are open.” The police announced that the shops were closed.
He waited and waited; at ten o’clock all the shops were still unopened, those shops which were always accustomed to open and be ready for trade at seven o’clock. The Governor was greatly perplexed. His plan did not seem to be working as he had schemed.
The Mufti (the chief mulla) came to the Governor whilst he waited.
“How are you?” said the Governor.
“Quite well,” was the reply, “but very sad; because of a telegram from Damascus, I am full of sorrow.”
“Show it to me,” said the Governor.
To his consternation he saw that the telegram was from the Vali of Damascus, deposing him from his place as governor, and directing that he be conducted by the police to Damascus.
In fear, sorrow, and amazement he went to his own house to make such preparation as was possible for the hurried and unlooked for journey.
The shops of the friends were saved.
Abdu’l-Baha, hearing of the misfortune which had befallen the Governor, went to visit him.
“You must not be sad because of this; everything in this world changes. Can I do anything for you?” He asked of the erstwhile Governor.
“Now that I am being taken away from them, there will be none to care for those I love. My dear family will be sad, lonely, and helpless, with nobody to counsel and aid them in their sore need.”
“Do not be filled with grief, but tell me where you wish your family to go.”
“If only they could go to Damascus?”
“Now, trust in me, and let your heart be lightened of its distress; I will gladly send an honourable escort with your wife and children to Damascus; you will find that they will be there soon after your own arrival.”
The Master sent the family with a trustworthy escort, providing mules and everything needed for the comfort of the journey — quite a formidable undertaking in those days. The command was worded: “Take these persons safely and with great respect to join the Governor at Damascus.” A telegram was despatched after they had set out: “I have sent your family to Damascus. They will very soon arrive in safety.”
When they arrived in Damascus the Governor, being greatly rejoiced, enquired of the escort as to the cost of the journey.
“It is nothing; I am but obeying the command of the Master.”
The Governor then wished to give the escort a present for himself.
“I desire no recompense: I am but obeying the Master’s command, I can accept nothing.”
When invited to stay the night for rest and refreshment, the reply was:
“I obey the Master’s command to return without delay.”
“Then I pray you take a letter, which I will write at once to the Master.”
“O Abdu’l-Baha,” the letter read, “I pray you pardon me. I did not understand. I did not know you. I have wrought you great evil. You have rewarded me with great good.” – The Chosen Highway, pp. 137-139.
This Christ-like behavior, repeated again and again throughout Abdu’l-Baha’s life, resulted in enormous respect and love from former opponents and enemies. Abdu’l-Baha’s powerful deeds of forgiveness set a high bar for everyone:
Beware lest ye harm any soul, or make any heart to sorrow; lest ye wound any man with your words, be he known to you or a stranger, be he friend or foe. Pray ye for all; ask ye that all be blessed, all be forgiven. Beware, beware, lest any of you seek vengeance, even against one who is thirsting for your blood. Beware, beware, lest ye offend the feelings of another, even though he be an evil-doer, and he wish you ill. Look ye not upon the creatures, turn ye to their Creator. See ye not the never-yielding people, see but the Lord of Hosts. Gaze ye not down upon the dust, gaze upward at the shining sun, which hath caused every patch of darksome earth to glow with light. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 73.