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

Monday, June 17, 2013

June 17, 1913 Egypt: A golden network of correspondence!

We don't have to be too sad about His departure from Europe, when we can visit Him in Egypt, for awhile: 

Earl Redman writes (in Abdu'l-Baha in Our Midst):


‘Abdu’l-Bahá arrived in Port Said on 17 June 1913. One of the first things He did was to send a telegram to Haifa, instructing the many pilgrims awaiting his return to come to Port Said. His hotel proved too small for the great crowds that appeared to see Him, so a large tent was erected on the hotel roof.
            ‘Abdu’l-Bahá also wrote to the Greatest Holy Leaf saying, ‘My eagerness knows no bounds. I have not seen thee for such a long time. My coming to Haifa is somewhat delayed. If possible, come soon to Port Said’. 
            The Master was very tired after almost three years of travelling. He stayed in Egypt until December, a span of five and a half months, trying to rebuild His physical strength before returning to Haifa, where a large amount of work awaited Him. It appeared He had little rest because ‘. . . pilgrims arrived constantly and had to be accommodated and entertained. He was never alone or free from demands. He could never refuse one who came to Him for whatever purpose’.  
            In spite of His exhaustion, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá continued to meet anyone who came. The pilgrims from Haifa occupied much of His time and His ever-increasing volume of correspondence consumed most of what was left. Ahmad Sohrab wrote about the Master’s endless letter writing:

The many difficult problems of the Bahai world are solved by him. Now he writes to Persia on how to hold an election, then to far-off America on how to rent a hall. One Bahai desires to know whether she should cook food for her child; another person asks how to proceed to buy a piece of land. There are some misunderstandings in this assembly to be removed; the feelings of some person are ruffled, and must be smoothed down. One man’s mother or father is dead, he requests a Tablet of visitation, another desires to have a wife. To one a child is born, she begs for a Bahai name; another has taught several souls, he asks for Bahai rings for them. This man has had business reverses, he must be encouraged, another has fallen from a ladder, he implores for a speedy recovery. One has quarrelled with his wife, and he wants advice on how to be reconciled; another supplicates for blessings upon his marriage. The Master goes over these one by one with infinite patience and with his words of advice, creates order out of chaos. The sorrows of the world troop along in review before him, and as they pass, lo, the transformation happens! The sorrowful becomes joyful, the ill-tempered good-natured, the lazy active, the sleepy one awakened. With magical words he transmutes iron into gold and darkness into light. At last he rises from his seat and for a while walks to and fro, still dictating Tablets to the philosopher and to the simple; soaring toward the empyrean of spirituality, giving us a vision of sanctity, and of the roses of Paradise, and for a while we roam, guided by him, in those delectable gardens of Abha, intoxicated with the fragrance of God; and then we find ourselves in the streets, walking home upborne on the wings of light.

But not all of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s correspondence was about personal desires. One day Ahmad Sohrab brought a large quantity of letters from Bahá’ís in America and Europe and the Master quite happily began dictating His replies. Ahmad described how ‘Abdu’l-Bahá dictated:

. . . the words of wisdom like unto a sparkling stream flowed from his blessed mouth, he was a transfigured person. He sat immovable on the sofa, his eyes most of the time shut, but his heart a waving ocean of revelation. Now he revealed a Tablet to a believer in Constantinople, and again to a friend in Rangoon, India; Stuttgart and Switzerland, London and Paris, New York and Honolulu, Washington and Boston were represented. How wonderful and significant appears to me this golden network of spiritual correspondence, reaching to the different parts of the earth! This correspondence is not based upon any commercial or material scheme. It is the eternal plan of God, to diffuse the fragrance of the spiritual rose and scatter the rays of the Divine Sun! Every day an ideal Congress of religions and nations is held in the rather small room of the Beloved and he presides over the proceedings with a dignity and wisdom that is nothing short of miraculous . . . Toward the end, the Master was so moved that he got up from his seat and began to walk to and fro while continuing dictation. I tried to keep up with the rapidity of his uttered words. When I mentioned the name of one of the believers, his whole countenance changed, and he was very happy, saying that he loved him, because he was very sincere in the Cause.
Wouldn't we love to change the countenance of the Master--as a result of our own sincerity!  And isn't that a wonderful image--a golden network of spiritual correspondence! 

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