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

Friday, April 12, 2013

April 12–14, 1913 Budapest; Peace; Vambery

Earl Redman writes: 

The following morning, Alajos Paikert, the founder of the Hungarian Turanian Society, visited ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and invited Him to address his group a few days later. The talk, on 14 April, was at the former House of Magnates in the National Museum Building. Mr Paikert introduced the Master to the 200 prominent men and women. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spoke in Persian, translated into English by Ahmad Sohrab, then Leopold Stark retranslated His words into Hungarian. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spoke of the Turanian culture (one of the early tribes of the Avestan era, east of Iran) and noted that it had been destroyed by religious conflict. He then gave them a plan to create an enduring peace. Afterwards, someone asked where the centre of peace would be located. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá responded that it would be established in whichever country where peace was first established.[i]
            In the afternoon ‘Abdu’l-Bahá visited Professor Arminius Vámbéry, who was 82 years old and ill at the time. Vámbéry was one of the most erudite and interesting scientists and Orientalists of his time, ‘whom both Queen Victoria and King Edward of Great Britain distinguished for many years with their friendship’.[ii] In the Bahá’í Faith, the famous man found his heart’s desire. Before meeting ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Vámbéry had not believed in any religion, despite having travelled in and learned the languages of many countries. The Master quoted Vámbéry as saying, ‘Because of this, I am amazed and surprised, that I, Vámbéry have not the courage to and cannot mention the name of Christ with reverence in the churches of the Jews. But you have proved with such courage and power, in the synagogues of the Jews, that Jesus Christ was the Word and the Spirit of God’.[iii]
            Vámbéry tried to see the Master again the next day, going along the river from his house at 26 Quai Franz Joseph to the Master’s hotel in spite of very cold and stormy weather and his illness. But when he arrived, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was out and though he waited for a long time, Vámbéry was forced to return home unsatisfied. After ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had returned to Egypt, He sent Vámbéry a Tablet and a rug. In response, Vámbéry wrote back to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá:

I forward this humble petition to the sanctified and holy presence of Abdul-Baha Abbas who is the centre of knowledge, famous throughout the world and beloved by all mankind. O thou noble friend . . . Although I have travelled through many countries and cities of Islam, yet have I never met so lofty a character and so exalted a personage as your excellency and I can bear witness that it is not possible to find such another. . .
. . .every person is forced by necessity to enlist himself on the side of your excellency and accept with joy the prospect of a fundamental basis for a universal religion of God being laid through your efforts.
I have seen the father of your excellency from afar. I have realized the self-sacrifice and noble courage of his son and I am lost in admiration.
For the principles and aims of your excellency I express the utmost respect and devotion and if God, the most high, confer long life, I will be able to serve you under all conditions. I pray and supplicate this from the depths of my heart.[iv]

[i] ibid. p. 87.
[ii] ibid. p. 88.
[iii] Star of the West, vol. IX, no. 2 (9 April 1918), p. 24.
[iv] ibid. vol. IV, no. 17 (19 January, 1914), pp. 284–5.

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