Pin It
Sunday, April 21st, 2013

Ridvan: April 21 – May 2

By
Ridvan-incultureparent/ flickr.com

Almost 150 years ago, Baghdad experienced a spring such as the city had never seen before and has not seen since. In the last week of April, a wind blew that lasted for days. In the Najibiyyih Garden, in Baghdad’s Rusafa district on the banks of the Tigris River, roses bloomed in profusion as the nightingale sang without restraint. But the spring of 1863 was memorable not only for its physical beauty. Today, it is remembered by Baha’is the world over for the historic declaration of Baha’u’llah, an exiled Persian nobleman, to a handful of friends and family members that he was the Promised One of all the religions, the one whose mission it would be to usher in the era of peace spoken of in all the holy books. His declaration marked the beginning of the Baha’i faith and is commemorated by Baha’is as the 12-day Festival of Ridvan (Paradise), celebrated each year from April 21 to May 2.

Baha’u’llah had lived in Baghdad for a decade, having been exiled from his native Iran by officials who feared his growing popularity might be a threat to their own hold on power. He would next be exiled to Constantinople, today Istanbul. But in the spring of 1863, Baha’u’llah camped in the Najibiyyih Garden, where his friends had erected a tent so he could receive the crowds who thronged him, seeking an opportunity to bid him farewell. His followers begged to accompany him on his exile and many wept at the thought of separating from their beloved. To all, Baha’u’llah offered words of comfort and encouragement, for he, especially on these God-intoxicated days, was keenly aware of the nature of the yearning of the lover for the Beloved. As the historian Nabil reports, as Baha’u’llah walked among the roses one night, he was heard to say:

Consider these nightingales. So great is their love for these roses that sleepless, from dusk to dawn, they warble their melodies and commune with burning passion with the object of their adoration. How then can those who claim to be afire with the rose-like beauty of the Beloved choose to sleep?

Today the Najibiyyih Garden has been replaced by a complex of teaching hospitals, but the memory of that epoch-making spring almost 150 years ago still lives in the minds of those who have accepted Baha’u’llah’s claim. In a city under assault, Baha’u’llah’s vision of peace might seem, to some, a chimera. But for Baha’is, who believe that the old world order must be dismantled before a new one can be established, his vision of peace serves as a beacon of hope. As Baha’u’llah proclaims, “Soon will the present day order be rolled up and a new one spread out in its stead.” The horror of war fuels the yearning for peace; and as the inadequacy of the old methods of resolving conflict becomes painfully and repeatedly revealed, we inch ever closer to choosing new ones that rely on the arts of consultation and negotiation. So during the days of Ridvan, the Baha’i community remembers that spring in Baghdad when humanity understood, once and for all, that the peace of the world was not only possible but inevitable.

© 2013, Sandra Lynn Hutchison. All rights reserved.

More Great Stuff You'll Love:


Overheard on the Beijing Subway When People Don't Think I Speak Mandarin

The awesome stuff I overhear like what these two Chinese women think of foreigners.

An Islamic Perspective on Child-Rearing and Discipline

Does Islam's reputation for severity and harshness apply to how Muslims raise children?

Are Germans Really Rude?

This German dad shares his thoughts

Breastfeeding in the Land of Genghis Khan

Colleague drank your breast milk from the work fridge again? Tales of breastfeeding in Mongolia

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Sandra Lynn Hutchison is the author of two books: a book of poetry, The Art of Nesting (GR Books, Oxford: England, 2008) and a memoir about living in China in the prelude to the Tiananmen incident, Chinese Brushstrokes (Turnstone Press, Winnipeg, 1996). Her poetry, stories, essays, and reviews have appeared in a wide variety of publications, including the Oxford anthology of stories about China, Chinese Ink, Western Pen (Oxford University Press, 2000). She serves as poetry editor for Puckerbrush Review. She lives with her husband and daughter in Orono, Maine, where she teaches English Literature and Creative Writing. They are raising their daughter Baha'i.

Leave us a comment!

1 Comment
  1. CommentsBren   |  Monday, 30 April 2012 at 3:45 pm

    Beautiful description of the Najibiyyih Garden. I can hear the nightingales and smell the roses!

    Thank you.









Notify me of follow-up comments via e-mail.
Or leave your email address and click here to receive email notifications of new comments without leaving a comment yourself.

Get weekly updates right in your inbox so you don't miss out!



A Children's Book for Raising Global Citizens

Every life is a story. It’s easier to understand someone when you know their story.

Why I Travel 13 Hours Alone with My Kids Every Chance I Get

Travelling with children, while definitely more of a mission, contradicts the old saying that “life is about the journey, not the destination.”

A Diverse Book for Preschoolers in Celebration of Multicultural Children's Book Day

A book that honestly and simply celebrates the every day diversity that children experience.

Why My African Feminist Mother Gave Me the Identity of My Father's Tribe

She gave me an identity so different from her own.

2 Children’s Books about Jamaica

Explore Jamaica with your child.

Costa Rica with Kids: Two Weeks of Family Travel

Two weeks of Pura Vida in a country with so much to offer families.

Should I Worry about My Child's Accent in Her Foreign Language?

See why Dr. Gupta takes offense to this question and where children learn accents from

How to raise trilingual kids when exposure to Dad's language is limited

My kids only get 1-2 hours of the minority language per day-help!
Unfortunately, the school and community are no longer there. The farm is being sold and there are tentative plans for a new iteration to be set up in Costa Ric...
From How I Moved to Thailand with my Family on Less than $1000
HI! I love your website! Just read your review of books that teach about culture and food! I can't wait to try some of the recipes you've share...
From Armenian Recipe: Apricot Tart
Please, refrain from using "western /western society" for anglosaxon countries. Western can be Mexico and Spain as well, anything on the west side of the world is western ...
From The West’s Strange Relationship to Babies and Sleep
We've tried to make use of, but It doesn't works by any mean...
From African Parenting: The Sane Way to Raise Children
I'm back. Sorry, I stopped caring for this magazine for a while and forgot to discuss the meat of the matter. This article, as well as the linked article from 2011, fails to discuss cultural norms ...
From What Confused Me Most about Brits
Fascinating. I have been to Germany and met this guy who was soo rude! This article explains everything!! Since all Germans are so terribly rude it should come as no surprise that I should have met ...
From Are Germans Really Rude?
@ Josep. How could you possibly comment on how Germans treat people if you have never even been there? A three-day stay in Berlin and a one day stop-over in Frankfurt was enough for me to see the ut...
From Are Germans Really Rude?
I am trying to find a Sikh triangular Nishan Sahib flag and haven't found one. Do you know where I can find on...
From Vaisakhi Craft: Make a Flag
I have tried to buy a Sikh triagular Nishan Sahib flag and had no luck. Do you know where I can find on...
From Vaisakhi Craft: Make a Flag

More Global Celebrations