Mirza Mihdi, the Purest Branch
Mírzá Mihdí was the youngest child of Baháʼu'lláh and his wife Ásíyih Khánum. When his family were exiled to Baghdad, the family thought it necessary to leave Mírzá Mihdí in Persia as a result of his health. He was left to the care of his maternal great-grandmother and his paternal aunt. The separation was hard for his family, especially his mother.
Shoghi Effendi writes of him:
"Mírzá Mihdí was taken to Baghdad to join the Family in the year AH 1276 (circa AD 1860). It was in that city that this pure and holy youth, noted for his meekness, came in touch with the Divine Spirit and was magnetized by the energizing forces of Bahá’u’lláh’s Revelation. From that time on, he devoted every moment of his life to the service of his heavenly Father. He was Bahá’u’lláh’s companion in Baghdad, Adrianople and 'Akká, and served Him as an amanuensis towards the end of his life, leaving to posterity some Tablets in his handwriting. The last ten years of his life were filled with the hardship and suffering inflicted on Bahá’u’lláh and His companions in the course of the three successive banishments from Baghdad to 'Akká. The Purest Branch resembled 'Abdu’l-Bahá, and throughout his short and eventful life he displayed the same spiritual qualities which distinguished his illustrious Brother. The believers loved and venerated him as they did 'Abdu’l-Bahá. - Shoghi Effendi
Whilst rapt in prayer, chanting the Ode of the Dove (a prayer revealed by Baha'u'llah during the period in Kurdistan) and pacing on the rooftop, Mírzá Mihdí fell through a skylight, and the wooden crate that he fell onto pierced his ribs and injured his lungs. Baháʼu'lláh was horrified and asked for a physician to attend his son. However, by this time it was too late.
To the galling weight of these tribulations was now added the bitter grief of a sudden tragedy—the premature loss of the noble, the pious Mírzá Mihdí, the Purest Branch, `Abdu'l-Bahá's twenty-two year old brother, an amanuensis of Bahá'u'lláh and a companion of His exile from the days when, as a child, he was brought from Tihrán to Baghdád to join his Father after His return from Sulamáníyyih. He was pacing the roof of the barracks in the twilight, one evening, wrapped in his customary devotions, when he fell through the unguarded skylight onto a wooden crate, standing on the floor beneath, which pierced his ribs, and caused, twenty-two hours later, his death, on the 23rd of Rabí'u'l-Avval 1287 A.H. (June 23, 1870). His dying supplication to a grieving Father was that his life might be accepted as a ransom for those who were prevented from attaining the presence of their Beloved. In a highly significant prayer, revealed by Bahá'u'lláh in memory of His son—a prayer that exalts his death to the rank of those great acts of atonement associated with Abraham's intended sacrifice of His son, with the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and the martyrdom of the Imám Husayn—we read the following: "I have, O my Lord, offered up that which Thou hast given Me, that Thy servants may be quickened, and all that dwell on earth be united." And, likewise, these prophetic words, addressed to His martyred son: "Thou art the Trust of God and His Treasure in this Land. Erelong will God reveal through thee that which He hath desired." After he had been washed in the presence of Bahá'u'lláh, he "that was created of the light of Bahá," to whose "meekness" the Supreme Pen had testified, and of the "mysteries" of whose ascension that same Pen had made mention, was borne forth, escorted by the fortress guards, and laid to rest, beyond the city walls, in a spot adjacent to the shrine of Nabí Salíh. . . . - Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By 188
The death of the Purest Branch must be viewed as Bahá’u’lláh’s own sacrifice, a sacrifice on the same level as the crucifixion of Christ and the martyrdom of the Báb. Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Faith, states that Bahá’u’lláh has exalted the death of the Purest Branch to the 'rank of those great acts of atonement associated with Abraham’s intended sacrifice of His son, with the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and the martyrdom of the Imam Husayn…’ In another instance, Shoghi Effendi states that in the Bábí Dispensation, it was the Báb himself who sacrificed His life for the redemption and purification of mankind. In the Dispensation of Bahá’u’lláh, it was the Purest Branch who gave his life releasing thereby all the forces necessary for bringing about the unity of mankind.
- Taherzadeh, The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh 3:211
Prayers Revealed by Baha'u'llah in Honor of Mirza Mihdi, the Purest Branch
Lauded be Thy name, O Lord my God! Thou seest me in this day shut up in my prison, and fallen into the hands of Thine adversaries, and beholdest my son (The Purest Branch) lying on the dust before Thy face. He is Thy servant, O my Lord, whom Thou hast caused to be related to Him Who is the Manifestation of Thyself and the Day-Spring of Thy Cause.
At his birth he was afflicted through his separation from Thee, according to what had been ordained for him through Thine irrevocable decree. And when he had quaffed the cup of reunion with Thee, he was cast into prison for having believed in Thee and in Thy signs. He continued to serve Thy Beauty until he entered into this Most Great Prison. Thereupon I offered him up, O my God, as a sacrifice in Thy path. Thou well knowest what they who love Thee have endured through this trial that hath caused the kindreds of the earth to wail, and beyond them the Concourse on high to lament.
I beseech Thee, O my Lord, by him and by his exile and his imprisonment, to send down upon such as loved him what will quiet their hearts and bless their works. Potent art Thou to do as Thou willest. No God is there but Thee, the Almighty, the Most Powerful.
- Bahá'u'lláh, Prayers and Meditations 34—35
Upon thee, O Branch of God! be the remembrance of God and His praise, and the praise of all that dwell in the Realm of Immortality, and of all the denizens of the Kingdom of Names. Happy art thou in that thou hast been faithful to the Covenant of God and His Testament, until Thou didst sacrifice thyself before the face of thy Lord, the Almighty, the Unconstrained. Thou, in truth, hast been wronged, and to this testifieth the Beauty of Him, the Self-Subsisting. Thou didst, in the first days of thy life, bear that which hath caused all things to groan; and made every pillar to tremble. Happy is the one that remembereth thee, and draweth nigh, through thee, unto God, the Creator of the Morn.
- Bahá'u'lláh, qtd. in Shoghi Effendi, Guidance for Today and Tomorrow 73