There is this story of a certain Mashadi Ali who was a great teacher of the Cause. I found it to be quite charming and funny. I particularly love the Masters sense of humor. This story has been circulating but unfortunately, there is no reference. So take it for what it is. For those who are interested in the Persian version, go to the end of this post. ——————————————————————————————————————————————————————

Story of Mashhadi Ali, the Coffee-Shop Owner

There was a faithful Baha’i, called Mashhadi Ali Qahveh-chi, who had a small coffee-shop in the halfway of the road between Tehran to Qazvin.  Some of the travellers would stop for a cup of tea at his coffee-shop and he used to teach the Faith to those he served.  There was a certain Mr. Sar-reshteh-dar who was the Quarter-Master of the Tehran-Qazvin Road.  He would often visit the coffee-shop. During these visits, he had many conversations with Mashhadi Ali and after some time, he embraced the Faith and became a Baha’i. During one of his after he had embraced the Faith, Mashhadi Ali saw him writing a letter. Mashadi Ali asked him what he was doing. Mr. Sar-reshteh-dar answered that he was writing a letter to Abdu’l-Baha. Mashhadi asked him to greet the Master on his behalf. The Master replied by revealing a Tablet addressed to Mashhadi Ali. This Tablet is indeed both humorous and interesting. Here is a rough translation.

He is God

Jinab-i Mashhadi Ali Qahveh-chi

He is the Most Glorious

O servant of the friends of God, O usurper of the right of Abdu’l-Baha! Serving the friends and servitude of the faithful is the eternal position and the never-ending mission of this Servant and thou hast usurped My position, bravely walking and moving about.  Be thou fearful of God! That’s My garment, why did you wear it, and that’s My crown, why did you put it on your own head?  Either pledge to represent Me and serve the friends on My behalf with utmost humbleness and put away any claim of being the main servant, or I will sue you by going to the judge of the city and the clergy of the mansion.  Praise be to God that the clergies are so many and if I break the covenant by bribing them, I can get any verdict against you! That’s all! Abdu’l-Baha Abbas

Mr. Ne’mat Ala’ee, a friend of Mashadi Ali and who often travelled on this road, used to visit the coffee-shop. After some time, Mashadi Ali closed his coffee-shop as the expenses were more than the income and he could not continue with his business. He went to Mr. Ala’ee that night and told him that he did not have a job or a penny to eat. Mr. Ala’ee gave Mashadi Ali some money and told him to come by his office the following day. Mr. Mr. Ala’ee, who was a deputy manager, arranged for Mashadi Ali to be employed the same firm he worked at.

Mashadi Ali started working and after a month, when he was paid his salary, he went to Mr. Ala’ee to pay him back.  Mr. Ala’ee advised him to save some part of his salary so he would build up some savings. One day, after three or four months had passed, Mr. Ala’ee saw Mashhadi Ali and asked him of how much money he had saved; Ali answered that he had saved nothing at all.  Surprised, Mr. Ala’ee inquired as to why and what he has done with his salary.  He said, “as soon as the work hours come to an end, I buy some sugar and tea and I have bought a big samovar.  I invite my friends, I teach them and some have even embraced the Faith so far.”

Mr. Ala’ee once said that during the two year period Mashhadi Ali worked there, more than a hundred people embraced the Faith.  After some time, the manager of the department heard of the teaching activities of Mashhadi Ali. One day, when the manager and his deputy, Mr. Ala’ee, were walking in the yard, they saw Mashhadi Ali.  The manager told him, “I have heard you make the people Babi here; why do not you come to teach the Faith to me?”  Mashhadi Ali told him right away, “If there was any hope for you, you would have become something during these two years that you have worked with Mr. Ala’ee!” The manager, who was a general, blushed and said nothing. Then he told Mr. Ala’ee, “did you see how he spoke to me sarcastically and I could not breathe a word?!” It showed how brave Mashhadi Ali was in teaching.

After some time, on a Friday [weekend in Iran], Mashhadi Ali went to Mr. Ala’ee’s home and said, “I will pass away this month; I’ll die.  You are the executor of my will.  My whole wealth is a Tablet in Abdu’l-Baha’ own handwriting, two vases of lilac flower and two lampas. I have brought all of them to you.  Do whatever you like with them.

Soon after, Mashadi Ali passed away.  When the Bahai Centre of Teheran was bough, Mr. Ala’ee gave the vases and the lampas to the Bahai Centre. He kept the Tablet in Abdul-Baha`s own handwriting until when he met the Hand of the Cause Mr. Ugo Giachery in Teheran.

The Persian version is right here The story of Mashadi Ali in Persian