All posts by Matthew Brand. Browse Other Authors

Matthew Brand is a Baha'i Blog contributor.

Dawn-Breaker: The Story of Nabil-i-Azam

Muhammad-i-Zarandi, surnamed Nabil-i-Azam. Photo from The Dawn-Breakers.

Nabil-i-Azam was a poet, his eloquence a “gift like a crystal stream,” his native genius “pure inspiration.” This is how Abdu’l-Baha described the famous chronicler of Baha’i history, renowned for his narrative of the early days of the Baha’i Faith, The Dawn-Breakers.

But what do we know about the life of this “man of mettle…on fire with passionate love,” counted by Shoghi Effendi as one of the 19 Apostles of Baha’u’llah?

Nabil was born Muhammad-i-Zarandi on July 29, 1831. As a boy, he learned the Qur’an and would travel more than 400 miles with his father from Zarand to the holy city of Qom, to listen to religious discourses. Working as a shepherd, the young Nabil tended his flock, praying and chanting the holy verses. At night, he would lie on the ground, contemplating the heavens. His was truly a poetic soul. Continue reading

Ethel Rosenberg: Remembrance and Reunions

Ethel Rosenberg (August 6, 1858 - November 17, 1930). Photo courtesy of the Baha'i International Community.

Almost 100 years ago, on the night of Friday 2 December 1921, an English woman boarded a train in Port Said, Egypt, to make the 200-mile journey along the Mediterranean coast to Haifa. As Ethel Jenner Rosenberg settled into her first class carriage, she hoped perhaps to sleep a little before an eagerly anticipated reunion that was ahead of her— a reunion with Abdu’l-Baha.

She had last seen the Master some nine years previously in London. There, as a result of His presence, thousands of people had been touched by the light of the Baha’i teachings. It was a far cry from those early days when she and Mrs. Thornburgh-Cropper had been the only two women in England to have embraced the Cause of Baha’u’llah. In the intervening years of the Great War, Ethel had struggled on heroically. As bombs rained down upon London, she strove to share her deep knowledge of the new Revelation with a handful of souls who longed to set their sights on the coming of a universal peace. Although Abdu’l-Baha’s life had been threatened by Ottoman forces, and her own fragile health almost prevented her from carrying on, she had maintained her profound spiritual connection with the Master. Now the prospect of attaining His incomparable presence was but one night’s train journey away. Continue reading

An Introduction to The Promulgation of Universal Peace

On April 11, 1912 in New York City, Abdu’l-Baha commenced 239 unforgettable days traversing the North American continent with this warm greeting: “How are you? Welcome! Welcome!” How typical it was of His generosity of spirit that He should be welcoming His devotees as His own guests!

After arriving today, although weary with travel, I had the utmost longing and yearning to see you and could not resist this meeting. Now that I have met you, all my weariness has vanished, for your meeting is the cause of spiritual happiness.

This long voyage will prove how great is my love for you. There were many troubles and vicissitudes, but, in the thought of meeting you, all these things vanished and were forgotten.

Abdu’l-Baha’s loving words of encouragement and guidance continue to ring out more than a century later, inviting readers today to follow in His footsteps through the pages of The Promulgation of Universal Peace, the indispensable collection of talks and discourses He gave during His North American sojourn. Continue reading