By Skua Ullah Behai
This chapter was the last part of Shua Ullah Behai’s memoirs (the rest of which is reproduced as Chapter 30). Besides simply honoring his late father, the point of this description of the elder Mr. Bahai’s funeral seems to be to show that he was well regarded by many people, including some prominent religious leaders and intellectuals—perhaps intended by the author as an indirect rebuttal to the assertion in the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baha that Mohammed Ali Bahai had “sunk into a degradation and infamy that shall be lasting until the Day of Doom.”
The following is the announcement of [Mohammed Ali Effendi’s] departure made by the family to the friends throughout the world. The members of the household of Baha’u’llah inform you with the deepest grief and sorrow of the departure of their most beloved and revered leader— Ghusn-i-Akbar, the Mightiest Branch, Mohammed Ali Effendi— Who left this earthly world and departed to the Eternal Realm on the morning of Friday, December the Tenth, 1937, at Haifa, Palestine. The last services were held on the following afternoon and the sacred remains were carried by hand from the house to King’s Way, a distance of one mile, where the remains were placed on a vehicle and escorted with great honor to Acre, where again carried by hand to the last resting place at Bahji near the Sacred Shrine [of Baha’u’llah].
The procession was preceded by an escort of unarmed police detachment with their officers, followed by the members of the household, government officials, notables, and religious heads. Muslims, Jews, Christians, and Bahá’ís walked silently side by side in reverence to that great personage who lived the life of a saint, and who was the most ardent lover of peace and harmony and a real friend of humanity.
Memorial services will be held at Haifa on Tuesday, January the 18th, 1938. We humbly ask the friends throughout the world to join us in commemoration on that or any other convenient day.
In his memory we shall recite the following supplication revealed by the Supreme Pen of Baha’u’llah for His departed Branch:
The Greatest, the most Glorious
“O my God, verily this is a branch who hath branched from the firm and lofty tree of Thy Singleness and Oneness. Thou seest him, O God, gazing unto Thee and holding fast to the rope of Thy bounty. Therefore keep him in the shadow of Thy mercy. Thou knowest, O my God, that I desire him, as Thou hast desired him. Therefore assist him with the hosts of earth and heaven, and help, O my God, whosoever helpeth him, choose whosoever chooseth him, and assist whosoever cometh to him. Then forsake whosoever denieth him and desireth him not. O my Lord, Thou seest that while inspired my pen moveth though my limbs tremble. I ask Thee, by my longing for Thy love and my anxiety to manifest Thy cause, to ordain for him, and to those who love him, what Thou hast destined for Thy Messengers and the faithful of Thy divine inspiration. Verily Thou art God the All-Powerful.“
The sad news was broadcasted by the Oriental radio stations, also by the British Broadcasting Corporation, London, England. Messages of condolence reached us from all parts of the world. Memorial services were held at Haifa, which was well attended.
Many notables delivered memorial speeches and sermons. Among them the Muslim representative was Abdullah Bey Mokhles. The Christian leader, Bishop Hajjar who was [the late Mohammed Ali Effendi’s] personal friend for thirty-five years, delivered the most impressive sermon. His subject was “Virtue.” For nearly an hour he spoke on the “Excellence of Virtue,” ending each paragraph with this remark: “The departed soul was invested with all these virtues.”
Wadi Effendi Boustani the Arabian philosopher-poet and prominent advocate, recited his memorial poetry [i.e. in commemoration of the deceased]. Likewise the well-known poet known as “Abu Salma,” this being his nom de plume.
Among those who could not attend in person was Sheikh Ass’ad esh- Shukeiry, a well-known Muslim religious leader, who sent in his speech to be read at the day of the memorial.