November 6, 2007

[Mr Erfanian]:

“This story, my father told me on his death bed.


In 1984 Afsaneh Javad was on her Youth Year of Service at the World Centre. On one very warm and enticing May night, she had decided to pray alone in the Shrine of the Báb until very late, maybe 2am. As she walked on the bushy path towards the Pilgrim House she was accosted by a man who sexually assaulted her.


Luckily a gardener, who had been praying late at the Shrine of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, came upon them. He tackled and then managed to subdue the rapist with a blunt wooden gardening implement that he was carrying. Afsaneh implored him to ring my father who was serving on the House.


My father hastily arrived and was aghast at who he saw there. The rapist was none other than the covenant breaker Ahmed Afnan, the great, great, grandson of Bahá’u’lláh.


My father inquired into Afsaneh’s state and health and asked what she would like to do. The police? The hospital? Afsaneh didn’t want any of that but wanted to go home. My father said to the gardener that it would be best for all concerned to comply with Afsaneh’s wishes and that he (the gardener) should eject this criminal and leave him to his own devices. My father accompanied Afsaneh home and did his best to comfort her.


Regrettably, about two months later, Afsaneh, in a very distressed condition, approached my father and confided in him that she was pregnant. It was a very difficult situation. Afsaneh would be humiliated in front of the Bahai’s at the World Centre, her family and the whole world. There could be no option except that she would be sent home in disgrace. My father, full of empathy for Afsaneh, contacted the only other faithful party to the sordid incident, the gardener Graham Parkin. He discussed Afsaneh’s situation with him. He suggested to him that, due to his almost divinely guided intervention, he already had a bond with Afsaneh that was stronger than that which held together many marriages. Graham, without hesitation, arose and declared himself more than willing to stand with Afsaneh, to marry her. When my father put forward the option to Afsaneh, she was overjoyed and, in tears, embraced my father tightly.


With my father introducing the joyful news to both sets of parents, the Baha’i law of gaining their permissions was promptly satisfied. The pair wed at the Baha’i World Centre that very weekend. Of course Layla was born early the next year. The daughter of a covenant breaker or a direct descendent of Bahá’u’lláh, whichever view you take, conceived in criminal circumstances near the Shrines on Mount Carmel. May God guide and protect us all.“


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