In a tender-hearted letter Baha’u’llah wrote to a woman whose children had died, he comforts her by telling her that God is her heir.
“Better and more exalted than what thou desirest is that which thou possessest, yet thou dost fail to recognize it. Please God, shouldst thou become conscious of it, thou wilt know the greatest felicity. Thus hath My Pen spoken forth as a token of grace unto him who beareth My name. Verily, thy Lord is the All-Bountiful, the Ever-Forgiving, the Most Generous. Say: ‘Glorified art Thou, O my God! I beseech Thee by the inheritors of Thy Kingdom and the protectors of the house of Thy Cause to ordain for me an heir who shall inherit me through Thy bounty and Thy favor. Thou, in truth, art the Best of heirs. Praised be Thou, O Best-Beloved of the knowers, O Desire of the world, O Glory of the hearts of the devoted!'”Letter of Baha’u’llah to a bereaved mother, translated by Adib Masumiun
I think this is remarkable. In Baha’u’llah’s Book of the Covenant, which is his will and testament, he addresses his believers as his heirs. He explains that he has not left them material wealth, but a “priceless heritage“. The context of a will is the usual place you’d expect to find an heir, where someone is leaving all that they have to their child.
But in the short prayer above, Baha’u’llah says “Thou, in truth, art the Best of heirs”, suggesting that God is an heir to the bereaved mother. In this situation, God is playing the role of the heir, not the mother playing the role of the heir as a believer. Baha’u’llah does a similar thing in another prayer he wrote for someone who was wanting a child. In this prayer, he quotes Qur’an 21:89: “O my Lord, leave me not childless, even though there is no better heir than Thyself.”
How can Baha’u’llah be our heir? It is one of those questions that has an infinite answer. But I find it a profound idea. The grace of God has given itself to me in the form of a child who will be my eternal support, companion and family member. And what a child Baha’u’llah turns out to be! He is very devoted. What a richness he brings into our lives. I guess that’s why he says he is the best of heirs. In fact, in both the letter to the mother and the other prayer, Baha’u’llah plays right down the importance of having children, saying something like: yes, it is lovely to have children, but keep your eye focused on the real prize, which is me.
“Thou hast attained, in this Day, to a thing more significant and enduring than a hundred thousand children… The purpose of children is that favorable mention, righteous deeds, good repute, and the like may live on through them—and if God, exalted be His glory, should graciously deign to adorn those children with the ornaments of worthiness, virtue, and piety, the mention thereof would soon cease with the passage of time. The mention of the Most Glorious Pen, however, shall remain for as long as God’s most excellent titles persist. Cleave thou to this if thou be of the people of Bahá.”Letter of Baha’u’llah to a bereaved mother, translated by Adib Masumiun
Finally, I wanted to comment on this glorious sentence: “I beseech Thee… to ordain for me an heir who shall inherit me through Thy bounty and Thy favor.” As I understand it, Baha’u’llah has set up here a mirroring of the heir concept: “an heir who shall inherit me”. The mother is to have an heir (Baha’u’llah) who will inherit her. In other words, the mother has an heir in him and he has an heir in her. I think that is gorgeous. It is so characteristic of Baha’u’llah to be delightfully gracious.