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

Monday, December 2, 2013

Dec. 2, 1913 Departure for Haifa

Three years and three months, He has been away. . . . Today is the day He leaves Egypt and returns home. He will be on the ship for three days. What is the significance of the 3s? 

I am not sure how to feel. A peaceful end to a large cycle--though He will have much to do at home. The blog journey has tried to reflect His journey, and time and space have bent a little for me in my quest to be present with Him. But there is so much that I do not know! I still yearn for a time machine, and (more significantly) a more spiritually receptive heart. . . . 

Three days left to adjust to this final end of a magnificent sojourn--and to learn more! 

Earl Redman writes: 

At last, on 2 December, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá boarded a ship headed for Haifa. The ship stopped briefly in Port Said and Jaffa, near Tel Aviv, where He met the Bahá’ís. On the afternoon of 5 December He arrived in Haifa.
             Though His ship entered Haifa’s harbour at 2 p.m., ‘Abdu’l-Bahá did not debark until dusk. Emogene Hoagg described His arrival:

Abdul-Baha did not come ashore until dusk, although the steamship entered the harbour at 2 o’clock p.m. (Strange to say, as the steamer bearing the Lord of mankind entered port, two warships – one French, the other German – came in also. The Messenger of Peace was accompanied by ships of war! Quite a strange coincidence.) While waiting for Abdu’l-Baha, the holy ladies, the eleven Persian pilgrims, as many children, four American pilgrims, and many other Bahais – about forty in all – chanted prayers and Tablets, while the faces beamed with the happiness of expectation.

Rúhá Asdaq remembered that the main hall of the house was prepared and all of the pilgrims and members of the household had gathered there. When ‘Abdu’l-Bahá descended from His carriage, the Greatest Holy Leaf and His daughters all ran forward to embrace and greet Him.

            Emogene Hoagg described the homecoming:

The home coming of Abdul-Baha, after an absence of three years and four months, was a real festival. Such excitement and happiness as reigned in the holy household can only be imagined . . . In Abdul-Baha’s house, there is a very large central room around which are the other rooms, and in it Persian rugs were spread and tables placed upon which were fruits and sweets . . .
When Abdul-Baha’s voice was heard as he entered, the moment was intense – and as he passed through to his room, all heads were bowed. In a few moments he returned to welcome all. He sat in a chair at one end of the room, and most of the believers sat on the floor. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was tired so remained but a short time, and after a prayer chanted by his daughter Zia Khanum, went to his room.
Then the ladies vacated so that the men might enter. To see the faces of those sturdy, earnest men – faces that spoke the fervor of their faith, the earnestness and resoluteness of their purpose – was something to remember. I am sure not an eye was dry; old and young, with happiness filling their hearts, could not refrain from exhibiting their emotion. He welcomed them, and seating himself on the floor, spoke to them a short time, after which he retired . . . 

After an absence of three years and three months, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was finally home. The day after His arrival, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá ascended Mt. Carmel and went to the Shrine of the Báb. And the following day, the Centre of the Covenant went to ‘Akká for eight days to commune with His Father and the Source of His Spiritual Being.

            Shoghi Effendi wrote:

A most significant scene in a century-old drama had been enacted. A glorious chapter in the history of the first Bahá’í century had been written. Seeds of undreamt-of potentialities had, with the hand of the Centre of the Covenant Himself, been sown in some of the fertile fields of the Western world. Never in the entire range of religious history had any Figure of comparable stature arisen to perform a labour of such magnitude and imperishable worth. Forces were unleashed through those fateful journeys which even now . . . we are unable to measure or comprehend . . .

‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s historic journeys to the West, and in particular His eight-month tour of the United States of America, may be said to have marked the culmination of His ministry, a ministry whose untold blessings and stupendous achievements only future generations can adequately estimate. As the day-star of Bahá’u’lláh‘s Revelation had shone forth in its meridian splendour at the hour of the proclamation of His Message to the rulers of the earth in the city of Adrianople, so did the Orb of His Covenant mount its zenith and shed its brightest rays when He Who was its appointed Centre arose to blazon the glory and greatness of His Father’s Faith among the peoples of the West.


  1. thanks for posting such a poignant homecoming tale -- my eyes aren't dry, either.

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