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

Sunday, June 19, 2011

June 18, 1912; The Filming of Abdu'l-Baha

Eliane Lacroix-Hopson in 'Abdu'l-Bahá in New York writes: 


      "During His stay at the Ansonia, a commercial movie company had requested to make a short film of 'Abdu'l-Bahá for its newsreels. The Master replied at once, "Khaili Khub" (Very good). Some of the friends were upset and explained to Him that this film would be scattered around the country and used in movie houses. He replied: "Besyar Khub" (Most good!)
      Consequently, one day, He appeared at the entrance of the Ansonia for the making of a short film. "It was a wonderfully impressive sight, for as He approached the camera, he was exhorting Bahá'u'lláh to bless this means for the spreading of the Heavenly Cause throughout the world."
      The friends arranged for a longer film to be made at the home of Mr. and Mrs. MacNutt on June 18, and they also made a recording of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's voice chanting "Glad tidings! Glad Tidings!"
"Rejoice! Rejoice! The Sun of reality has dawned!
Rejoice! Rejoice! The New Jerusalem has descended from Heaven!
Rejoice! Rejoice! The Glory of Carmel has shone on the worlds!"
      Although unskilled handling of the camera had 'Abdu'l-Bahá going out of frame and back again, this is a precious legacy, the record of the Beloved Master in action. The film and recording have been duplicated and sent out to all countries where Bahá'ís resided at the time.
      Seventy years later, the film has been incorporated into "The Quiet Revolution," a 58 minutes major film on the Bahá'í Faith, a 1985 BBC production released on English national television and in New York City in January 1986.
      At the end of this memorable day, 'Abdu'l-Bahá traveled 40 miles to visit a Jewish friend who was sick, returning home at night utterly exhausted."

Though these films are available now on the internet, it is generally felt that they should not be used except in rare and sanctified situations. We (my husband and I) are working on a documentary film project for the centenary, and the guidance is not to utilize that film footage.  Still, it is a thrill to see people actually shaking the hand of the Master--and the Master walking and so forth.  More on all of this, later. 

Mahmud writes a longer version of this saga, with more description of the films: 

"At the request of the friends to take a motion picture of Him, `Abdu'l-Bahá went to Mr MacNutt's home in Brooklyn. The first scene is a hurried one, showing a ride in an automobile and the respectful reception of the friends. The second scene shows the Master walking, moving gracefully about and talking with His servants, saying:
Observe the power of the Ancient Beauty and the influence of the Greatest Name through which He has united us with the people of America in this way. If all the powers of the world had joined forces, still it would have been impossible that hearts could be attracted to such a degree and that we should be assembled in a meeting such as this with so much love, loving one another heart and soul. See what the power of Bahá'u'lláh has done! He has made the people of the East and of the West love one another. But for His power, the holding of such an assembly would have been impossible. Praise be to God that we are united and that we are of one heart and soul.
In the third scene `Abdu'l-Bahá is shown walking alone, speaking in a melodious voice, saying: `His signs are manifest, His might is established, His bounty encompasses all and His mercy is infinite.'
A fourth scene shows the beloved Master sitting among the children of the American friends, both black and white, while the Persian friends stand near Him.
The fifth scene shows a public meeting as `Abdu'l-Bahá moves about addressing the audience. Then follows a scene of farewell, with the friends shaking His hand.
The friends were very happy at this large meeting. `Abdu'l-Bahá's address was this:
Rejoice! Rejoice! The Sun of Reality has dawned.
Rejoice! Rejoice! The New Jerusalem has descended from heaven.
Rejoice! Rejoice! The glad tidings of God have been revealed.
Rejoice! Rejoice! The mysteries of the Holy Books have been fulfilled.
Rejoice! Rejoice! The Great Day has come.
Rejoice! Rejoice! The banner of the oneness of humanity is hoisted.
Rejoice! Rejoice! The tent of universal peace is pitched.
Rejoice! Rejoice! The Divine Lamp is illumined.
Rejoice! Rejoice! The breezes of the Merciful are wafting.
Rejoice! Rejoice! The joyful tidings and promises of the Prophets have come to pass.
Rejoice! Rejoice! The Glory of Carmel has shed its effulgence on the world.
    Rejoice! Rejoice! The East and the West have embraced. 

    Rejoice! Rejoice! America and Asia like unto two lovers have joined hands.
After the meeting the Master went to visit a Jewish friend, a believer, who was ill at his home 40 miles from Brooklyn. He returned to New York at night exhausted."
There is also an account in SOW, v. 3, #10, pp. 2–4.

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