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

Sunday, August 25, 2013

A stream of visitors, including Bahiyyih Khanum and Shoghi Effendi; astonished at His vitality

More on Egypt, from the words of Earl Redman: 

Other westerners also arrived, including Mrs Stannard from England, and Dr Joseph de Bons, a Swiss dental surgeon who lived in Cairo, and his wife Edith, who had been the first to accept the Faith from May Maxwell in Paris. The brother of the Khedive of Egypt, ‘Abbás Hilmí shá, and the Khedive’s chamberlain, Uthmán shá, who was devoted to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, also paid the Master visits. The stream continued with deputies from the Turkish Parliament and some of the teachers and students from the Syrian Protestant College (later the American University of Beirut).

            On 1 August  Shoghi Effendi arrived with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s sister, the Greatest Holy Leaf, Bahíyyih Khánum. Their arrival would have lifted ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s spirits immensely. Bahíyyih Khánum’s feelings were described by Shoghi Effendi:

She was astounded at the vitality of which He had, despite His unimaginable sufferings, proved Himself capable. She was lost in admiration at the magnitude of the forces which His utterances had released. She was filled with thankfulness to Bahá’u’lláh for having enabled her to witness the evidences of such brilliant victory for His Cause no less than for His Son.

The Greatest Holy Leaf spent several weeks in Egypt with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.

            Two days after Shoghi Effendi’s arrival, Ahmad Sohrab arrived at ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s house. As they waited for the Master, he heard Shoghi Effendi chanting ‘with pathos and sweetness’. When the prayer was finished, Ahmad heard the Master ‘teaching Shoghi Effendi how to chant and how to control his voice under various expressions’. 

            Shoghi Effendi told a story about one event that happened when he was with his Grandfather. Shoghi Effendi, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and a Pasha had rented a carriage to go from Alexandria to Ramleh. When they arrived, the Master asked the driver how much He owed. The driver, a very big man, demanded an exorbitant fee, which ‘Abdu’l-Bahá simply refused to pay. The burly man became extremely abusive to the point of grabbing the sash around ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s waist and yanking Him back and forth. This was very upsetting and embarrassing to both Shoghi Effendi and the Pasha, but it didn’t seem to bother the Master at all. When the bully finally released Him, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá paid Him exactly what He owed, telling the bemused driver that his actions had cost him his tip.

            ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s health slowly improved over the summer, but reversed in the autumn, in part due to the activities of two of His recent travelling companions. Tamaddunu’l-Mulk, who had been with the Master in London and Paris, was attempting to split the Bahá’ís in Tehran while Amin Fareed was defying His orders. By the middle of the next year, Fareed was in open defiance of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and was travelling through Europe trying to raise money for himself using the name of the Faith. He arranged one such meeting in London which was prevented by the efforts of Lotfullah Hakim. Mason Remey and George Latimer also toured Europe to counter Fareed’s activities. Fareed’s appetite for money, which began in America with his efforts to pry money from Phoebe Hearst and Agnes Parsons, led to his expulsion from the Faith.

            Slowly, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s health continued to improve. At about 6 o’clock one morning, He went to the house where His secretaries stayed. Even though He had already done considerable work, He arrived to find every one of them still quite asleep.

Visit from Lua; doors of confirmation; glorious Light beckoning

 I need to go back to catch up on a few major events during 'Abdu'l-Bahá's time in Egypt.  Earl Redman writes: 

Lua Getsinger arrived at Port Said on 23 July and was followed shortly by her husband, Edward. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had asked Lua to go to India and said a man should go with her. She asked if her husband, Edward, could go with her. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s words to Lua on 19 August, writes Velda Metelmann, ‘can be accepted as a goal for all those who would serve their Lord’:

Thou must be firm and unshakable in thy purpose, and never, never let any outward circumstances worry thee . . . Thou must enter that country with a never-failing spirituality, a radiant faith, an eternal enthusiasm, an inextinguishable fire, a solid conviction . . . let not thou heart be troubled. If thou goest away with this unchanging condition of invariability of inner state, thou shalt see the doors of confirmation open before thy face . . .
  . . . Look at Me! Thou dost not know a thousandth part of the difficulties and seemingly unsurmountable passes that rise daily before my eyes. I do not heed them; I am walking in my chosen highway; I know the destination. Hundreds of storms and tempests may rage furiously around my head; hundreds of Titanics may sink to the bottom of the sea, the mad waves may rise to the roof of heaven; all these will not change my purpose, will not disturb me in the least; I will not look either to the right or to the left. I am looking ahead, far, far. Peering through the impenetrable darkness of the night, the howling winds, the raging storms, I see the glorious Light beckoning me forward, forward. 


Saturday, August 3, 2013

Our film is being replicated!

Since it RELATES to the subject of this blog, I can happily announce that our long-in-the-works documentary film, Luminous Journey: 'Abdu'l-Bahá in America, 1912, is now being replicated!

It can be ordered through our own website: www.LuminousJourney.org

And we have a few screenings set up--see below--and one in Eliot, ME on Mon. Aug. 12.

  1. Saturday, July 27, 2013
  2. Friday, Aug. 16, 2013
  3. Sunday, Sept. 1, 2013
  4. Monday, Sept. 2, 2013
  5. Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013
  6. Sunday, Sept. 22, 2013
  7. Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013
  8. Friday, Oct. 11, 2013
  9. Saturday, Oct. 12, 2013
  1. San Antonio, TX
  2. Irvine, CA
  3. Chicago, IL
  4. Wilmette, IL
  5. Glenwood Springs, CO
  6. Denver, CO
  7. Lincoln, NB
  8. Richmond, CA
  9. San Francisco, CA
  1. 7 pm
  2. 10 pm
  3. TBA
  4. 6:30 pm
  5. 7 pm
  6. 7 pm
  7. 7 pm
  8. 8 pm
  9. 7 pm

This project has been interwoven with the research and blogging I've been doing since April 2011 and planning since 2009 and evolving toward since 1971, when I first heard of 'Abdu'l-Bahá.

The Journey is larger than any of us can grasp or understand--and it has been such a distinct privilege to be on it--and to be sharing parts of it with you.

Meanwhile, 'Abdu'l-Bahá is still in Egypt (in 1913), recounting His adventures and resting before returning to Haifa.  Yet, He says, "I am always a traveler to America."

Thus, the Journey never grows old. . . .

Thursday, August 1, 2013

July 30, 1913 A hair-splitting controversy; a healing

Earl Redman writes: 

On 30 July two mullás came to visit. One tried to begin a hair-splitting religious controversy, something they apparently enjoyed, but ‘Abdu’l-Bahá quickly silenced His visitors by saying that they should abandon such useless theological discussions because they produce no result. They should, instead, free themselves from any prejudices and search for the Truth. The Master spoke of His talk at Oxford University and His meeting of Alexander Graham Bell in Washington. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá concluded by saying that He was only there to rest from His long journey. The greatly humbled mullás begged His forgiveness and said that they had learned a valuable lesson.
            Emogene Hoagg was another American Bahá’í who wanted to see ‘Abdu’l-Bahá again. When she learned that the Master was in Egypt, she wrote for permission to visit. When the confirmation arrived, she was confined to bed with a severe illness, but left immediately. She was still weak when she arrived in Ramleh, so she asked ‘Abdu’l-Bahá for a remedy. He sent her two baked apples, with instructions to eat them at once. She ate them seeds and all then went to bed and slept soundly. The next morning she was quite well.

Don't you wish you had some of those apples! ah, for those days and the personal connection to the Master. And yet--He is with us, still. 

Even though the account above is sketchy, we can see how fondly 'Abdu'l-Baha is remembering His journey to America. 

"I am always a traveler to America," He said. The past, present, and future are blended in His reality. Oh, for a bit more of that perspective!