April 9, 2011

Jamal Effendi - The spiritual father of India and Burma -- the first Baha'i teacher sent to India and Burma by Baha'u'llah in 1875

Sulayman Khan Ilyas, Jamal Effendi

The man whom Providence had destined to become the spiritual father of the subcontinent of India and of Burma was a nobleman of the same province of Iran which had been the home of the ancestors of Bahá'u'lláh. His name was Sulayman Khan and he was a native of Tunukabun. But when he set out in the world to serve the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh, he left behind the garb of a nobleman and attired in the garment of a humble man of the cloister travelled far and wide. 'Abdu'l-Bahá says that he 'was given the title of Jamali'd-Din'. He became known as Jamal Effendi. 

Sulayman Khan was the son of 'Isa Khan-i-Tunukabuni. 'Isa Khan was a man of substance and influence in his area of Mazindaran. But his son decided to try his luck in Tihran. It was in the capital city of Iran, the city in which Bahá'u'lláh was born, that Sulayman Khan had his tryst with fate. There he met his destiny, which was not to rise to high position in the temporal realm, but to scale spiritual heights. He gave his allegiance to Bahá'u'lláh, donned the garb of a dervish and took to the road. Forsaking his wealth, his earthly attachments, his position and station in life, and possessing an Ottoman passport, he roamed for a long time over the Ottoman domains, making his way to the Holy Land.

'Abdu'l-Bahá says: “Here for a time he rested, under the protection of the Ancient Beauty; here he gained the honor of entering the presence of Bahá'u'lláh, and listened to momentous teachings from His holy lips. When he had breathed the scented air, when his eyes were illumined and his ears attuned to the words of the Lord, he was permitted to make a journey to India, and bidden to teach the true seekers after truth. Resting his heart on God, in love with the sweet savors of God, onfire with the love of God, he left for India. There he wandered, and whenever he came to a city he raised the call of the Great Kingdom and delivered the good news that the Speaker of the Mount had come. He became one of God's farmers, scattering the holy seed of the Teachings. The sowing was fruitful. Through him a considerable number found their way into the Ark of Salvation... To this day, in India, the results of his auspicious presence are clear to see, and those whom he taught are now, in their turn, guiding others to the Faith.” ('Abdu'l-Baha, 'Memorials of the Faithful', pp. 135-6) (H.M. Balyuzi, 'Eminent Baha'is in the Time of Baha'u'llah', p. 118)