Who was `Abdu'l-Bahá, and why did He come to the West?

Saturday, March 30, 2013

March 30, 1913 Stuttgart

Anne Corcoran translates: 

30 March 1913
Departure from Paris to the city of Stuttgart in Germany, then on 9th of April he continued to Budapest (Hungary) and Vienna (Austria).  ‘Abdu’l-Bahá returned to Paris on the 1st of May, he would stay there until 12th of June (at the Hotel California, Avenue Kléber)

Rowshan Ma3vaddat Extract from Bahá’í France no 15, winter 1988  Sur les pas de ’Abdu’l Bahá a Paris.   Paris deviendra un Jardin de Roses   p 53                            
(In the steps of ‘Abdu’l Bahá.  Paris becomes a Garden of Roses) Librairie Baháí 1998   Produced for the centenary of the Baháí Faith in France in 1998

Earl Redman writes:  

On 30 March ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, along with Siyyid Ahmad-i-Báqiroff, Mírzá Mahmúd, Siyyid Asadu’lláh and Ahmad Sohrab departed for Stuttgart. In a change, the Master told His companions to switch from Eastern clothing to Western and not to wear their fezzes. They reached Stuttgart at 8 p.m. on 1 April and proceeded directly from the train to the Hotel Marquardt. Before their arrival, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá told His attendants, ‘This is the best thing; we will arrive in Stuttgart, take our rooms in the hotel, settle down and call up the friends. How surprised they will be! Is this not a fine plan? We are going to surprise them. Then when they come they will find us in their midst, and knowing nothing about it at all. Yes! This is the best plan’. 
            That same evening ‘Abdu’l-Bahá sent for Wilhelm Herrigel, Mr Eckstein and Alma Knobloch and arranged with them that the friends would be able to meet Him during the mornings while afternoons and evenings would be reserved for more formal meetings. During His first afternoon in Stuttgart, Mr Herrigel took the Master for a drive through the Royal Park. Later, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had two meetings with the friends at Mr Herrigel’s home, and said, ‘How attracted and enkindled are the German Bahá’ís! How full of love they are! Love does not need a teacher’.

Isn't it fun that the Master decided to surprise the friends there! (Wouldn't we love such a surprise!)

Alma Knobloch

           One of the three dedicated Knobloch sisters, Alma Knobloch was destined to ‘take the Glad-Tidings of the Advent of Bahá’u’lláh to the soul of the German people’. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had approved her going, to help Dr Edwin Fisher, an American dentist and the first Bahá’í in Germany, writing, ‘she must stay as long as possible’.
            Arriving in Stuttgart in 1907, Alma began to hold meetings and travel tirelessly to teach the Faith.
           Soon many young people in Stuttgart, Leipzig, Hamburg, and other cities, visited by Alma, arose  . . . The Bahá’í Faith took root in the hearts of these religiously educated souls, and through the effort and constant study Local Spiritual Assemblies were formed in Stuttgart, Esslingen, Zeffenhausen, Leipzig, and Gera . . .The way was not always easy, and Alma, in her fine, soft voice and well-bred manner, fought many a mental battle . . . One could see the Bahá’í spirit at work in her, when some learned gentleman discussed, in not always a gentle way, the different aspects . . . Never once did Alma lose patience, and never once did she falter in her answers . . .
When war was declared in 1914, Alma joined in the sufferings of her German brothers and sisters, descended into the damp cellars with them, hungered and froze with them, renounced her American citizenship . . . in order to be free to travel in the service of our beloved Master; and indeed, the need for spiritual food was great at that time. Many evenings at the fireside meetings, the spiritual food was the only kind of food the friends had that day.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá spoke highly of Alma Knobloch. When George Latimer was on pilgrimage in 1919, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said of Alma, ‘Consider the power of God. Such a small woman! She is confirmed in service. She is greatly assisted. When a person compares her success with her physical body, a hundred people will not be so assisted as she – this woman is so short. That is why the confirmations of God are necessary . . . Miss Knobloch has attracted the people. There is a large man, Mr Herrigel, very large. She converted him’. 
            In 1920 Alma returned to America, where she passed away in 1943.

*    *    *

Saturday, March 23, 2013

More on Naw-Ruz, Paris, 1913

Anne Corcoran has again provided a translation of yet another account 
of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's Naw-Rúz in Paris!

Memories of Young A. Achraf, Iranian Bahá’í Student in Paris                                  1913 the Return of ‘Abdu’l Bahá from America.
During the 2nd half of the month of March 1913, we received a letter of invitation from the Iranian Ambassador for Naw Rúz day. On Friday 21st of March, Mírzá Habíbu’lláh Khán Sahíhí and I left for Paris & headed for Saint Didier Street where Docteur Muhammad Khán lived.   The concierge led us to a hotel on 97 Loriston Street.  In the hotel restaurant we met Ághá Mírzá Ahmad Sohráb and Ághá Mírzá Ahmad Bágherov who were drinking coffee. In the meantime ‘Abdu’l Bahá had come down from the terrace and had situated himself in a private room, decorated with a central table on which were arranged specialties for the New Year, like oriental nuts and different confectionaries and Iranian & western sweets.  It was in this room that we had the honor of finding ourselves in the presence of ‘Abdu’l Bahá.  Ághá Siyyid Ahmad Bágherov was seated in front of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.  The Master wished us happy new year and told us to take our seats.  From his clean hands he offered us sweets and said “the Iranians eat, the Westerners only taste.  You are Iranian, you must eat.”  We obeyed without hesitation. Meanwhile Ághá Mírzá Mahmúd Zarqaní and Docteur Muhammad Khán entered.  After a few minutes ‘Abdu’l-Bahá left the room leaving Jinábi Zarqaní in charge of hospitality. Mírzá Jalál, Ághá Mírzá ‘Alí Adíb (son of Jinábi Adíb and Ághá Mírzá, Asadu’lláh arrived later.
            We got up because we were expected at the embassy, but near the door of the hotel we met Mírzá Husayn Quazvíní (not a bahá’í) who came to pay his respects to ‘Abdu’l and to tell us that the Embassy reception would take place only in the afternoon.  We couldn’t have asked for better and we rejoined the friends once more.  Mírzá Mahmúd Morshedzádih and ‘Iísá Sadíq who were students of pedagogy at the School of Versailles also arrived. At this moment the Master returned and we all followed him to the function room.  ‘Abdu’l-Bahá asked about the health of all the new arrivals and wished them a happy new year.
Then he spoke of the festival of Naw-Rúz Ághá Mírzá Ahmad Sohráb translated as he had a few English and French friends, in the audience, and also a distinguished non Bahá’í young man who having heard of the name of ‘Abdu’l- Bahá, read in the newspapers the news of his arrival in Paris and had asked permission to pay his respects.  All, bahá’ís and non-bahá’ís fixed their eyes on ‘Abdu’l- Bahá and listened to his words with delight.  Then before midday the Westerners asked to be excused.  ‘Abdu’l-Bahá went into the dining room.  Four of us got ready to take a break, when ‘Abdu’l-Bahá invited us to stay.  There were nine of us around the table: ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Entezámu’s-Saltanih, Docteur Muhammad Khán, Achráf, Issá Sádíq, Mírzá Husayn Quazvíní, Mírzá Mahmúd Morshedzádih, Agha Mírzá Jalál, and Ághá Mírzá Habíbu’lláh Khán Sahíhí.  ‘Abdu’l Bahá spoke about Iranian & western food and also on the theme of the traditions and customs of both cultures.  After lunch Ághá Mírzá Ahmad Sohráb presented ‘Abdu’l-Bahá with two bouquets of flowers offered by an English friend who had been present in the morning.  ‘Abdu’l- Bahá accepted them and then retired to rest.
            At mid-day we met up at the Iranian Embassy.  The Iranian bahá’ís who passed through or were resident in Paris, were obliged, by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to present themselves at the embassy.  Everyone arrived gradually, the students remained longer than others in order to tell their problems to the plenipotentiary minister Momtázu’s-Saltanih.  It was at that moment that ‘Abdu’l Bahá arrived with M. Dreyfus, into the large hall of the embassy.  The minister invited all the students to present themselves to ‘Abdu’l Bahá.  We placed ourselves all around the large hall.  There were about thirty of us.  ‘Abdu’l- Bahá extended his greetings and kindness to all, good wishes for the new year and praised them for their efforts in the road of commerce, science and learning.  He spoke in detail on the subject of historical antecedents of arab and european culture and affirmed that the latter had much of the former.  He described the transmission of science and learning from the Arabs to the Europeans through the Spanish intermediaries. He added     “You also, must learn from the Europeans and acquire the qualities and knowledge, which they have to offer, in order to offer them the gifts of Iran.  I pray for you that you will may be successful.”  All the audience listened in silence with the greatest concentration and the greatest respect.  At the end of ‘Abdu’l Bahá’s explanation, the minister invited him in to another room for tea. After a quarter of an hour the Master returned and we had the honor of seeing him once more before his departure with M. Dreyfus.
But before leaving M. Dreyfus announced to the Bahá’í students that there would be a party that evening at his home.  So having dined at a restaurant we presented ourselves at the home of M. Dreyfus.  There was a large gathering - western and Iranian bahá’ís.  ‘Abdu’l Bahá explained Naw-Rúz.  He covered the history of the creation of this holiday, from ancient times until the era of Bahá’u’lláh, and described the traditions and Iranian customs.  Dressing in new clothes, eating and drinking sweets, celebrating.  To conclude he compared the Festival of Naw Rúz with divine revelation and the inauguration of a new era.  He recalled the customs of the ancient kings which. In those days, consisted in planning and founding new buildings, works and institutions. He expressed the necessity of founding, at such a blessed time, charitable institutions, to lay the foundations of peace assemblies as  a memory of the holiday, so that people can say in the future, this work is the result of the festival of Naw-Rúz of such a year. ‘Abdu’l- Bahá spoke in Persian and M. Dreyfus translated.  When the Master finished his talk he shook the hands of everyone present and left the room.
This is the account of six meetings which I had the privilege of having with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. [‘The other accounts were about 1911 visit. A.C.]
Achraf Achraf Extract from” Payam-í-Bahá’í” july-august 1981.                                Translation Mahnaze A. de Silveira. [English translation Anne Corcoran.  Words of ‘Abdu’l Bahá are not exact]
Sur les pas de ’Abdu’l Bahá a Paris.   Paris deviendra un Jardin de Roses   p 53                           
 (In the steps of ‘Abdu’l Bahá.  Paris becomes a Garden of Roses)
Librairie Baháí 1998   A book produced for the centenary of the Baháí Faith in France in 1998.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Naw-Rúz Day, Paris 1913

Anne Corcoran has graciously translated the following: 

March 21, 1913
It is the festival of Naw- Rúz and ‘Abdu’l Bahá is very happy.  He asks that the sitting room of hotel be decorated with bouquets of flowers.  Having received the greetings of the Bahá’ís present, he spoke of the importance of this holiday in ancient Persia, then, in the afternoon went to the ceremony organized on this occasion at the Iranian Embassy.

Rowshan Mavaddat Extract from Bahá’í France no 15, winter 1988  in                                      Sur les pas de ’Abdu’l Bahá a Paris.   Paris deviendra un Jardin de Roses   p 53                            
(In the steps of ‘Abdu’l Bahá.  Paris becomes a Garden of Roses)
Librairie Baháí 1998   Produced for the centenary of the Baháí Faith in France in 1998.

Below, the residence where 'Abdu'l-Baha attended a Naw-Ruz event. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Naw-Rúz in Paris, 1913

Anne Corcoran sent a copy of the photo of the residence where 'Abdu'l-Bahá attended a Naw-Rúz event. I am afraid I don't know any more about it--but perhaps some of you can read the French.  Can you imagine the Master attending our Naw-Rúz celebrations? But then--He is always with us!

Monday, March 18, 2013

March 18, 1913

Anne Corcoran translated this, especially for today! 

18 March 1913

“Although at present Paris may be asleep soon it will be in movement, because I have spent long nights soliciting divine confirmation.  I can neither sleep nor rest: I spend all the time in prayers and in tears.  Also, I hope that you will rise to spread the word of God.  Today the armies of celestial confirmations await to assist the pure men.  Everyone who arises will be victorious and every detached person will be glorious! . . . ”
As the rental period of the house where ‘Abdu’l Bahá and his companions lived had expired                                 they transferred their luggage to “Pension Hotel” Lauriston St, in the 16th district of Paris.
[Not exact translation of ‘Abdu’l Bahá’s words]

Rowshan Mavaddat Extract from Bahá’í France no 15, winter 1988 in
Sur les pas de ’Abdu’l Bahá a Paris.   Paris deviendra un Jardin de Roses   p 53                            
(In the steps of ‘Abdu’l Bahá.  Paris becomes a Garden of Roses)
Librairie Baháí 1998   A book produced for the centenary of the Baháí Faith in France in 1998.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Paris: Illumine this city!

Anne Corcoran translated this--sorry to be late in posting it. 

9 March 1913

During the public meeting, the major part of ‘Abdu’l Bahá’s talk were prayers for the inhabitants of Paris and for France.   Furthermore, he said that his stay here had been the result of contact with personalities and dignitaries from all over the world (who reside in Paris) and the openness of their eyes to the beauty of  teachings of Bahá’u’lláh.
After the meeting, he gathered in his room the Baha’is who had stayed on, and said to them; “I am going to leave Paris and I wish to leave you here as my trust, knowing that you are here, my heart will be eased.  Strive day and night to illumine this city and render souls heavenly….Know that if you rise as is needed. the divine confirmations will arrive like the waves of the sea!
I wish that there will be much love amongst you and that you will be companions to each other.  Gather together in your houses…..and guide the souls towards the divine teachings.  Be the cause of confirmations of hearts.  That is life and eternal happiness…

Sur les pas de ’Abdu’l Bahá a Paris.   Paris deviendra un Jardin de Roses   p 53
(In the steps of ‘Abdu’l Bahá.  Paris becomes a Garden of Roses)
Published for the Centenary of the Bahá’í Faith in France 1998 under the patronage of the NSA of the Bahá’ís of France      

Friday, March 8, 2013

March 8, 1913 New material re. Paris!

Our dear friend Anne Corcoran has translated the following. How fitting that I should receive it today!

Sur les pas de ‘Abdu’l Bahá a Paris (In the steps of ‘Abdu’l Bahá in Paris)
Librairie Baháí 1998   A book produced for the centenary of the Baháí Faith in France in 1998. 

8 March 1913
The beloved Master was suffering from the flu February 26 and wasn’t yet completely better because of his frailty and his tiredness.  When the friends met ‘Abdu’l Bahá said in substance:
“I wish very much to speak at length with you but my health doesn’t permit me. (. . .  In Paris my energies were weekend and unfortunately I wasn’t able to leave this city and I rested here.
I love you very much and I wish that during these days I could speak longer with you. It is necessary to say, however, that in this illness there is a wisdom, it is not without reason; later it will become known that I did not become ill in Paris without reason.
I have been travelling two and a half years, I haven’t been sick anywhere except here, so I have had to stay longer here. If I hadn’t fallen sick I wouldn’t have stayed more than a month in Paris.  There is however a wisdom in this. I am under the divine will and not under the law of nature.  It is not nature that dominates me, no, it is the will of God that does what it wishes.  It has been that way since the beginning of my life. All that has passed it is after one understands the wisdom.  I was, in Tehran, a child of seven years, when I contracted tuberculosis, without any possibility of cure.  It was later that the reason for that illness became obvious. In fact, if I hadn’t got sick, I would have had to stay in the Mazandaran region, and not in Tehran (. . . ) and then, at the moment of the “Blessed- Beauty”, I would not have been able to accompany him to Iraq.  At the right time my illness passed in spite of the fact that the doctors had confirmed the impossibility of my cure. . . . In my present illness, there is also a wisdom which will become known later”.  [Not exact translation of 'Abdu'l Baha's word]
In between, entire groups of people hurried to the door to see the source of these words, and to pay their respects.  Groups of Iranian students, Muslims and Bahá’ís, Jewish students, well known people, philosophers and writers (like Henri Bergson, Mr. and Mrs. Brown from Cambridge), eminent politicians (notably oriental) the diplomatic minister of Persia, who with the ambassadors secretary visited several times with invitations to visit him.  We must not forget also the Prince Zillu’s- Sultán – the arrogant eldest son of Nasir’d- Din Sháh – the governor of Isfahan at the time of the martyrdom of the illustrious Bahá’ís , the “King of martyrs”, and the “Best beloved of martyrs”.
No house in the world was as hospitable as that of ‘Abdu’l Bahá, who to all, without any distinction, a friend and a master.  No one could leave that house without joy in their heart.
Rowshan Mavaddat Extract from Bahá’í France no 15, winter 1988

In this article the sense of the Baháí words of ‘Abdu’l Bahá are reported. That is, the author has translated from Persian the essence of Abdu’l Bahá’s words.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Paris in March, 2013

I will have to look at the contents of "Paris Talks," but I don' believe there are talks given in Paris during these days.  So--for 30 more days 'Abdu'l-Bahå will be there--but what is He doing? 

One of the last recorded talks was in London, just after Christmas, which I will put below. Surely there are interviews, some informal talks at least, and other activities to know about--but a mystery surrounds this part of the journey.  Stay tuned!  Or send details--if you know any! 

From Paris Talks: 

97 Cadogan Gardens, London,
December 26th, 1912
‘Should Prayer take the form of action?’
‘Abdu’l-Bahá.—‘Yes: In the Bahá’í Cause arts, sciences and all crafts are (counted as) worship. The man who makes a piece of notepaper to the best of his ability, conscientiously, concentrating all his forces on perfecting it, is giving praise to God. Briefly, all effort and exertion put forth by man from the fullness of his heart is worship, if it is prompted by the highest motives and the will to do service to humanity. This is worship: to serve mankind and to minister to the needs of the people. Service is prayer. A physician ministering to the sick, gently, tenderly, free from prejudice and believing in the solidarity of the human race, he is giving praise’.
‘What is the purpose of our lives?’
‘Abdu’l-Bahá.—‘To acquire virtues. We come from the earth; why were we transferred from the mineral to the vegetable kingdom—from the plant to the animal kingdom? So that we may attain perfection in each of these kingdoms, that we may possess the best qualities of the mineral, that we may acquire the power of growing as in the plant, that we may be adorned with the instincts of the animal and possess the faculties of sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste, until from the animal kingdom we step into the world of humanity and are gifted with reason, the power of invention, and the forces of the spirit.’