Monday, September 13, 2010

This photograph was made in Paris in the autumn of 1911. Abdu’l-Baha stayed in the city for nearly two months, near the Trocadero Gardens adjacent to the Avenue de Camoëns. After over 50 years of exile from his native Persia, and imprisonment for espousing the universal ideals of the teachings of his father, Baha’u’llah, he had left, by steamer ship, the prison-city of Akka where he had been under house arrest since the age of 24, and embarked on a journey to the West. First London, then Paris and eventually New York City hosted his visit as he sought to create new bridges between the peoples, cultures, religions and ideals of the East and West.
In this photograph, we see Abdu’l-Baha standing at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, with the Champ de Mars visible in the hazy background. He wears the traditional aba, and is surrounded by Frenchmen and various Persian and Eastern travel companions, most wearing contemporary Western fashion, outfitted for what must have been a crisp fall day. Their pose is no different than group snapshots that we make today—everyone has lined up and holds their position while the camera exposes the film. The photographic image stands in as a record of the event, as an aid to memory, a signpost to ‘those days we passed together,’ and as an indicator of what happened long ago.


Foreword to 'Abdu'l-Baha in America: The Diary of Agnes Parsons

(ed. Richard Hollinger, [Los Angeles: Kalimat Press], 1996)

foreword by Sandra Hutchinson

In 1912, `Abdu'l-Baha `Abbas (1844-1921), recently liberated by the Young Turk's Revolution from his forty-year long confinement in the prison city of Akka, set sail for America. He came, in the twilight of his years and on the eve of world war, to promulgate universal peace, a central teaching of the new religion for whose cause he had been imprisoned and at whose head he stood: the Baha'i Faith. During his sojourn in the United States, poets and leaders of thought sought his counsel in private interviews, and seekers of all races and classes attended his public talks. Journalists, struck by his charismatic personality and by the modernity of his teachings, described him as a "Prophet from the East" and an "Apostle of Peace."
For the small community of his American disciples, however, `Abdu'l-Baha's visit had a significance far beyond that ascribed to it by an eager public and in the newspaper reports of the day. A few American Baha'is had been able to make the arduous and costly journey to the Holy Land to attain his presence, but for most, `Abdu'l-Baha's visit to their country offered a first and probably an only opportunity to meet the leader of their faith, the one appointed by its founder, Baha'u'llah, to be the interpreter of his teachings after his passing. `Abdu'l-Baha's presence amongst them fired the imaginations of the Baha'is about the teachings they had embraced as he, "the Perfect Exemplar" of those teachings, demonstrated first-hand their application to daily life.
But the fealty of the American Baha'is to `Abdu'l-Baha was inspired by more than a recognition of his station. To them, he was "the Master" -- a loving teacher who had nurtured them from afar through scores of letters and a Christ-like figure about whom they had heard numerous tales from returning pilgrims to the Holy Land. In fact, many of the early American believers believed that he, not Baha'u'llah, represented the return of Jesus as prophesied in the New Testament, and it took numerous reiterations to disabuse them of this notion: his only station, he told them, was the station of servitude and the name he wished to be called by was `Abdu'l-Baha -- the "Servant of Baha."
Today `Abdu'l-Baha's travels in the United States hold an unrivalled place in the spiritual heritage of the American Baha'i community. This legacy is honored by the reverence paid to the places associated with his travels, some of which have become sites of regional pilgrimage, and by the ardent study of the transcripts of hundreds of talks he delivered during his sojourn in America. Another way in which this legacy is celebrated is by the frequent repetition of anecdotes about `Abdu'l-Baha's encounters with the diverse array of people he taught and counselled in the course of his journey. In fact, so important a place do such stories hold in the collective imagination of the American Baha'i community that they have taken on a life of their own, forming an oral tradition about the sayings and doings of the Master.
In such tales we often encounter a larger-than-life `Abdu'l- Baha, a figure who belongs more to legend than to history. Yet clearly, it is imperative to situate the events of `Abdu'l-Baha's visit to America within their historical context, if we are to understand their true significance. For example, `Abdu'l-Baha's warnings about the outbreak of a world-shaking conflagration, reiterated throughout his Western journeys, take shape as an ominous foreshadowing when compared to then current views of the Balkans' conflict, and his message of peace, equality, and justice acquires further cogency when set against the important political events and social trends of the day, such as the U.S. presidential campaign of 1912 and the movements for peace, women's suffrage, and racial harmony.
Nor does `Abdu'l-Baha's journey of peace appear in its truly epic proportions without reference to the turbulent history of the religious movement in which he was a central figure. Not unless we know the something of saga of religious intolerance that consigned `Abdu'l-Baha to exile and lifelong imprisonment, can we fully appreciate, in all its dramatic power, the mise-en- scene created by the placing of an aged eastern sage, a man who had never in his life faced a public audience, before a congregation of two thousand of the Jewish faithful at a synagogue in San Francisco for the purpose of asserting the truth of the prophetic missions of both Jesus and Muhammad.
`Abdu'l-Baha's visit to America acquires another kind of frame and a further richness when set against the personal experiences of the people he encountered--people whose lives intersected, however briefly, with his. Even the most devoted Baha'is, including those who travelled with `Abdu'l-Baha, were with him only for short periods of time. The Master's numerous social engagements and obligations made extended contact with him almost impossible. Moreover, the daily responsibilities of life inevitably pulled the Baha'is out of `Abdu'l-Baha's orbit and back into their own individual worlds of experience. However, the records kept of such daily experience provide for us today a illuminating context for the study of the impact of `Abdu'l- Baha's historic visit on American Baha'is and their contemporaries.
Like pilgrims' notes, diaries and memoirs of the Master's travels in the America possess the limitations common to all historical accounts. Consequently, they are not infallible records of `Abdu'l-Baha's words or even objective descriptions of what happened. Neither are they comprehensive in their documentation of `Abdu'l-Baha's activities. Still, they are important historical documents which provide a useful framework for understanding some of the talks recorded in The Promulgation of Universal Peace and other publications. Moreover, they provide information about certain daily aspects of`Abdu'l-Baha's journeys about which we would otherwise know little.
Such accounts also have significance as inspirational literature. Much like the gospels of the New Testament, which recount the events of the ministry of Jesus, accounts of `Abdu'l- Baha's activities during his sojourn in America tell us what his words and actions meant to those who witnessed them. Although such accounts may well contain historical inaccuracies, they form an intriguing body of sacred stories, stories in which those who had the privilege of coming into the Master's presence render their experiences of an event which, according to Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Baha'i Faith, marked the "culmination" of and was "the greatest exploit" associated with `Abdu'l-Baha's ministry -- his journey to the West.
The publication providing the most thorough documentation of `Abdu'l-Baha's tours of Europe and North America is Kitab-i Badayi`u'l-Athar written by Mahmud-i Zarqani, a member of the Master's entourage. Usually referred to in English as "Mahmud's Diary," this day-by-day account of the Master's travels appears to have been written after the author had returned to the Near East and is probably not, therefore, a diary in the true sense of the term. And although collectively they constitute an important body of source material against which to gauge the accuracy of Zarqani's account, other diaries documenting `Abdu'l-Baha's American journeys, such as those by Ella Cooper, Shahnaz Waite, Juliet Thompson, Mariam Haney, and Juanita Storch, generally coverthis day-by-day account of the Master's travels appears to have been written after the author had returned to the Near East and is probably not, therefore, a diary in the true sense of the term. And although collectively they constitute an important body of source material against which to gauge the accuracy of Zarqani's account, other diaries documenting `Abdu'l-Baha's American journeys, such as those by Ella Cooper, Shahnaz Waite, Juliet Thompson, Mariam Haney, and Juanita Storch, generally coverly coverits publication. The result is a quasi- literary work in which experience is distilled and shaped, a work perhaps more revealing of the sensibility of its author, an artist living in the bohemian milieu of early twentieth-century Greenwich Village, than it is informative of the specific details of the Master's activities in America.
By contrast, Mrs. Parsons' diary gives the reader a lucid and relatively unembellished account of `Abdu'l-Baha's daily activities during the more than five weeks she spent with him in Washington, D.C., and in Dublin, New Hampshire. Agnes Parsons had made a pilgrimage to `Akka in 1910, at which time she had obtained a promise from `Abdu'l-Baha that he would stay in her home, if he came to America. `Abdu'l-Baha made three visits to Washington, D.C.: from April 20 to 28, from May 8 to 11, and from November 6 to 11. During the first visit he kept his promise by staying at Mrs. Parsons' home, and during the subsequent visits he held meetings there regularly. `Abdu'l-Baha also visited Agnes Parsons' summer home, Day Spring, in Dublin, New Hampshire from July 25 to August 15.
Because of the length of time Mrs. Parsons spent with`Abdu'l-Baha, her diary is one of the most important American sources relating to his visit. It is more extensive than any of the unpublished accounts of `Abdu'l-Baha's travels in the United States, and, with the exception of the journal of Juanita Storch, it is closer to a true diary than anything in print. However, it should be noted that this publication is based on a handwritten copy of the original diary made by Leona Barnitz, who served as a secretary to Mrs. Parsons in the late 1910's and 1920's; that this copy was lightly edited for style and annotated with margin notes, probably by Mrs. Parsons herself; and that in a least one place in the diary, part of the original account seems to have been deliberately omitted when it was copied. Moreover, aware that she was recording important historical events, Mrs. Parsons may have made a conscious effort to speak in a public voice in her diary in anticipation that someday others would read her account.
Agnes Parsons (1861-1934) was a wealthy Washington socialite with a family to whom she was devoted and a wide circle of prominent friends, a list2p of whose names would have read as a social register of the capital at the time. Her outlook and concerns were firmly rooted in the conservatism and elitism of the capital city's upper classes. Her social location, like that of Juliet Thompson, had an impact both on `Abdu'l-Baha's visit and on the record that was kept of it. In Dublin and in Washington, D.C., Agnes Parsons introduced `Abdu'l-Baha to politicians, artists, writers, professors, and other leaders of thought. Their encounters with the Master are documented here, as are his meetings with Baha'is in these places.
If it is important to know that `Abdu'l-Baha met with influential thinkers, it is equally important to recognize that such encounters did not compose the totality of his visit. `Abdu'l-Baha's meetings with persons of social prominence dominate the pages of this diary because these were what Mrs. Parsons witnessed and what she felt were most significant. But `Abdu'l-Baha also spoke with the servants in the households of the prominent figures he visited and held meetings with the poor and the working-classes during his American travels. The reader, therefore, should be aware of the limitations of this account and should not view it as a complete record of `Abdu'l-Baha's visits to Washington, D.C. or to Dublin, New Hampshire. Rather, the diary of Agnes Parsons should be seen as an important source which must be supplemented by other accounts of the Master's visits to these places if a complete and accurate picture is to be formed.
At the time Mrs. Parsons wrote her diary, Washington, D.C. was home to the most diverse Baha'i community in North America: it had within its fold the largest group of African-Americans, and virtually all social classes, from the working poor to the social elite, were represented in it. As part of the American south, Washington, D.C. was also a city in which racial segregation was a fact of life, and it was on the issue of racial equality that `Abdu'l-Baha was most uncompromising during his visit to America. On one occasion, which is mentioned briefly in this diary,`Abdu'l-Baha shocked some of the white socialites present by insisting that Louis Gregory, an African-American Baha'i and lawyer, be seated next to him at a society luncheon. In such a milieu, the Baha'is found it challenging to comply with `Abdu'l-Baha's instruction that they should hold racially-integrated meetings. Even locating a public site for a community dinner honoring`Abdu'l-Baha proved difficult, since no hotels in the city would allow an integrated meeting.
Beneath the concern of Washington's upper classes to uphold long-standing social conventions regarding racial segregation were deep-rooted prejudices not easily overcome. Even Mrs. Parsons' husband once commented to `Abdu'l-Baha that he wished all the blacks would return to Africa, to which the Master wryly replied that such an exodus would have to begin with Wilber, the trusted butler of the Parsons household. While Mrs. Parsons herself would not have harbored such sentiments, having accepted the Baha'i teaching on the oneness of humanity, her social position would have made it extremely difficult for her to accept African-Americans as persons with whom she could have social relations as equals, and it may also have made her reluctant to advocate racial integration, even within the Baha'i community.
On this subject, the silences of this diary are perhaps more telling than what is recorded. For example, there is scarcely a mention of any of `Abdu'l-Baha's talks at the homes of Andrew Dyer and Joseph Hannen, both of which were sites of racially integrated meetings for the Washington, D.C. Baha'i community, or at African-American venues, such as the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church, presumably because Mrs. Parsons did not attend most of these events. Such activities were not part of the social world in which she lived. It is remarkable, then, that `Abdu'l-Baha subsequently chose Agnes Parsons to spearhead the Racial Amity campaign initiated by the Baha'i community and as remarkable that she transcended her social milieu in order to carry out this mandate.
Dublin, New Hampshire is the other location in which the events of Mrs. Parsons' diary take place. Originally an agricultural village near Monandock, the mountain romanticized by its mention in the writings of Emerson and Thoreau, by the late 1870's Dublin had become a popular rustic resort for Bostonians who boarded during the summer months with local farmers. By the turn-of-the-century, Dublin had become well established as a summer resort, and an artist's colony had begun to emerge there as painters, writers, academicians, and patrons of the arts acquired homes in and around the village.
Attracted to the quiet atmosphere and natural splendor of the region, the well-known naturalist painters George DeForest Brush (1849-1921) and Abbot Handerson Thayer (1855-1921) had relocated to Dublin in 1899 and in 1901 respectively, the latter drawing to the town art students who came to work under his tutelage. Those who owned or rented summer homes in Dublin included Isabella Steward Gardner (1840-1924), a well-known patron of the arts from Boston; Joseph Linden Smith, a sculptor who taught at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts School; and Raphael Pumpelly, a geology professor at Harvard and a famous world- traveller, who once entertained `Abdu'l-Baha in his Dublin home. In addition, there was a steady stream of visitors to Dublin, a list of whose names would read, as one historian has observed, like "a Who's Who of turn-of-the-century America."
By the time `Abdu'l-Baha visited Dublin in 1912, therefore, the town had evolved into an artists' colony and fashionable summer resort. Dublin was a place where the worlds of Agnes Parsons and Juliet Thompson intersected. Here the artist could come into contact with high society and vice-versa as bohemian and socialite alike sought refreshment and renewal amidst the beauty of the New England countryside. It was in Dublin that `Abdu'l-Baha met with some of the most important intellectual and cultural figures of the day, and the contacts he made there undoubtedly provided entrees into social networks that were drawn upon in arranging the subsequent segments of his journey

Abdu’l Baha the Seventh Angel!

identification of the Persian entourage
The doors of the Kingdom of God are open!
GOOD NEWS! GOOD NEWS! Armies of Angels are descending from Heaven!
GOOD NEWS! GOOD NEWS! The Sun of Truth is rising!
GOOD NEWS! GOOD NEWS! Heavenly food is being sent from above!
GOOD NEWS! GOOD NEWS! The Trumpet is sounding!
GOOD NEWS! GOOD NEWS! The Banner of the Great Peace is floating far
and wide!
GOOD NEWS! GOOD NEWS! The Light of the Lamp of the Oneness of Humanity
is shining bright!
GOOD NEWS! GOOD NEWS! The fire of the Love of God is blazing!
GOOD NEWS! GOOD NEWS! The Holy Spirit is being outpoured!
GOOD NEWS! GOOD NEWS! For Everlasting Life is here!
O Ye that sleep, Awake!
O ye heedless ones, Learn wisdom!
O Blind, receive your sight!
O Deaf, Hear!
O Dumb, Speak!
O Dead, Arise!
Be Happy!
Be Happy!
Be full of Joy!”
(Message to the London Baha’is for the Day of the Covenant, November
26th, 1911.--Abdu’l Baha in London, p. 126)

In the Dispensation of Baha’u’llah Abdu’l Baha occupies a unique
Station unprecedented in the annals of all Religions. Shoghi Effendi

“An attempt I strongly feel should now be made to clarify our minds
regarding the station occupied by 'Abdu'l-Bahá and the significance of
His position in this holy Dispensation. It would be indeed difficult
for us, who stand so close to such a tremendous figure and are drawn
by the mysterious power of so magnetic a personality, to obtain a
clear and exact understanding of the role and character of One Who,
not only in the Dispensation of Baha’u’llah but in the entire field of
religious history, fulfills a unique function. Though moving in a
sphere of His own and holding a rank radically different from that of
the Author and the Forerunner of the Baha’i Revelation, He, by virtue
of the station ordained for Him through the Covenant of Baha’u’llah,
forms together with them what may be termed the Three Central Figures
of a Faith that stands unapproached in the world's spiritual
history.” (The World Order of Baha'u'llah, p. 131)

Abdu’l Baha’s contribution to the World Order of Baha’u’llah, the
Baha’i Faith and humanity in general is enormously great and
magnificent. What He did during His lifetime and “His greatest legacy
to posterity” i.e. His Will and Testament “the Charter of a future
world civilization, which may be regarded in some of its features as
supplementary to no less weighty a Book than the Kitab-i-Aqdas” and
“an Instrument which may be viewed as the Charter of the New World
Order which is at once the glory and the promise of this most great
Dispensation.” is so magnificent, glorious and luminous which not only
will give light and will illumine many centuries in the future to the
end of the Baha’i Dispensation, but His future glory and radiance has
been observed and foreseen by the prophets of the past. For instance
it is recorded in the Bible in the Book of Revelation ( 11:15) as
"And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven,
saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our
Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign forever and ever.”
Abdu’l Baha has explained and unveiled the meaning of this prophecy,
in the book Some Answered Questions:

“The seventh angel is a man qualified with heavenly attributes, who
will arise with heavenly qualities and character. Voices will be
raised, so that the appearance of the Divine Manifestation will be
proclaimed and diffused. In the day of the manifestation of the Lord
of Hosts, and at the epoch of the divine cycle of the Omnipotent which
is promised and mentioned in all the books and writings of the
Prophets -- in that day of God, the Spiritual and Divine Kingdom will
be established, and the world will be renewed; a new spirit will be
breathed into the body of creation; the season of the divine spring
will come; the clouds of mercy will rain; the sun of reality will
shine; the life-giving breeze will blow; the world of humanity will
wear a new garment; the surface of the earth will be a sublime
paradise; mankind will be educated; wars, disputes, quarrels and
malignity will disappear; and truthfulness, righteousness, peace and
the worship of God will appear; union, love and brotherhood will
surround the world; and God will rule for evermore -- meaning that the
Spiritual and Everlasting Kingdom will be established. Such is the day
of God. For all the days which have come and gone were the days of
Abraham, Moses and Christ, or of the other Prophets; but this day is
the day of God, for the Sun of Reality will arise in it with the
utmost warmth and splendor.”
(Abdu'l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, p. 56)

Although knowledgeable Baha’is may know that Abdu’l Baha was referring
to Himself saying: “The seventh angel is a man qualified with
heavenly attributes,” it is helpful to note that the definition “a
man” is the translation of the word of “ENSAN” used by Abdu’l-Baha
which means ‘HUMAN BEING’, ‘HUMAN’, ‘MAN’ or ‘PERSON’ of course
without the prefix “a” which has been put in place before “man” due to
the requirements of English grammar. In Persian conversation sometimes
ENSAN is a reference to self. For example, one may say: ‘Ensan can’t
stand quiet when he sees such cruelty to people’ which means ‘I can’t
stay calm and say nothing when I see this oppression, and this is why
I am protesting.’ Even observation of the sequence of the verbs used
in the English translation directs the readers to the fact that at the
time of utterance “a man qualified with heavenly attributes” refers to
the present since “is” =present indicative of be.
“who will arise with heavenly qualities and character.” “who” in this
phrase according to the dictionary is a “pronoun; as simple relative,
with antecedent expressed: a. in a clause conveying an additional
idea. b. used in clauses defining or restricting the antecedent.”. I
think the “heavenly attributes” of Abdu’l Baha is known to everyone
(at least to those who call themselves Baha’is) and I don’t see that
it is necessary to write about His “heavenly qualities and character”,
Shoghi Effendi has done it in the best possible way in the following

“He is, and should for all time be regarded, first and foremost, as
the Center and Pivot of Baha’u’llah’s peerless and all-enfolding
Covenant, His most exalted handiwork, the stainless Mirror of His
light, the perfect Exemplar of His teachings, the unerring Interpreter
of His Word, the embodiment of every Baha’i ideal, the incarnation of
every Baha’i virtue, the Most Mighty Branch sprung from the Ancient
Root, the Limb of the Law of God, the Being “round Whom all names
revolve," the Mainspring of the Oneness of Humanity, the Ensign of the
Most Great Peace, the Moon of the Central Orb of this most holy
Dispensation -- styles and titles that are implicit and find their
truest, their highest and fairest expression in the magic name 'Abdu'l-
Bahá. He is, above and beyond these appellations, the "Mystery of God"
-- an expression by which Baha’u’llah Himself has chosen to designate
Him, and which, while it does not by any means justify us to assign to
Him the station of Prophethood, indicates how in the person of 'Abdu'l-
Bahá the incompatible characteristics of a human nature and superhuman
knowledge and perfection have been blended and are completely
(Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha'u'llah, p. 133)
“The third period (1892-1921) revolves around the vibrant personality
of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, mysterious in His essence, unique in His station,
astoundingly potent in both the charm and strength of His character.
It commences with the announcement of the Covenant of Baha’u’llah, a
document without parallel in the history of any earlier Dispensation,
attains its climax in the emphatic assertion by the Center of that
Covenant, in the City of the Covenant, of the unique character and far-
reaching implications of that Document, and closes with His passing
and the interment of His remains on Mt. Carmel. It will go down in
history as a period of almost thirty years' duration, in which
tragedies and triumphs have been so intertwined as to eclipse at one
time the Orb of the Covenant, and at another time to pour forth its
light over the continent of Europe, and as far as Australasia, the Far
East and the North American continent.”
(Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. xv)

Abdu’l Baha, while explaining the Bible ( Rev. 11:15 )unfolded His
plans for the future. His Talks which later were included in the book
Some Answered Questions by Laura Clifford Barney took place during the
years, 1904-1906 when He was confined to the city of Akka by the
Ottoman government and only a limited number of pilgrims were allowed
to visit Him. After the revolution of the Young Turks and the collapse
of the Ottoman Empire Abdu’l Baha became free and fulfilled His plans,
when in 1910 He started his journey to Egypt, Europe and North

“The establishment of the Faith of Baha’u’llah in the Western
Hemisphere -- the most outstanding achievement that will forever be
associated with 'Abdu'l-Baha’s ministry -- had, as observed in the
preceding pages, set in motion such tremendous forces, and been
productive of such far-reaching results, as to warrant the active and
personal participation of the Center of the Covenant Himself in those
epoch-making activities which His Western disciples had, through the
propelling power of that Covenant, boldly initiated and were
vigorously prosecuting.”
“…'Abdu'l-Bahá was at this time broken in health. He suffered from
several maladies brought on by the strains and stresses of a tragic
life spent almost wholly in exile and imprisonment. He was on the
threshold of three-score years and ten. Yet as soon as He was released
from His forty-year long captivity, as soon as He had laid the Bab’s
body in a safe and permanent resting-place, and His mind was free of
grievous anxieties connected with the execution of that priceless
Trust, He arose with sublime courage, confidence and resolution to
consecrate what little strength remained to Him, in the evening of His
life, to a service of such heroic proportions that no parallel to it
is to be found in the annals of the first Baha’i century.”
“Indeed His three years of travel, first to Egypt, then to Europe and
later to America, mark, if we would correctly appraise their historic
importance, a turning point of the utmost significance in the history
of the century. For the first time since the inception of the Faith,
sixty-six years previously, its Head and supreme Representative burst
asunder the shackles which had throughout the ministries of both the
Báb and Baha’u’llah so grievously fettered its freedom. Though
repressive measures still continued to circumscribe the activities of
the vast majority of its adherents in the land of its birth, its
recognized Leader was now vouchsafed a freedom of action which, with
the exception of a brief interval in the course of the War of 1914-18,
He was to continue to enjoy to the end of His life, and which has
never since been withdrawn from its institutions at its world center.”
“So momentous a change in the fortunes of the Faith was the signal for
such an outburst of activity on His part as to dumbfound His followers
in East and West with admiration and wonder, and exercise an
imperishable influence on the course of its future history. He Who, in
His own words, had entered prison as a youth and left it an old man,
Who never in His life had faced a public audience, had attended no
school, had never moved in Western circles, and was unfamiliar with
Western customs and language, had arisen not only to proclaim from
pulpit and platform, in some of the chief capitals of Europe and in
the leading cities of the North American continent, the distinctive
verities enshrined in His Father's Faith, but to demonstrate as well
the Divine origin of the Prophets gone before Him, and to disclose the
nature of the tie binding them to that Faith.”

“Inflexibly resolved to undertake this arduous voyage, at whatever
cost to His strength, at whatever risk to His life, He, quietly and
without any previous warning, on a September afternoon, of the year
1910, the year following that which witnessed the downfall of Sultan
Abdu'l-Hamid and the formal entombment of the Bab’s remains on Mt.
Carmel, sailed for Egypt, sojourned for about a month in Port Said,
and from thence embarked with the intention of proceeding to Europe,
only to discover that the condition of His health necessitated His
landing again at Alexandria and postponing His voyage. Fixing His
residence in Ramleh, a suburb of Alexandria, and later visiting Zaytun
and Cairo, He, on August 11 of the ensuing year, sailed with a party
of four, on the S.S. Corsica, for Marseilles, and proceeded, after a
brief stop at Thonon-les-Bains, to London, where He arrived on
September 4, 1911. After a visit of about a month, He went to Paris,
where He stayed for a period of nine weeks, returning to Egypt in
December, 1911. Again taking up His residence in Ramleh, where He
passed the winter, He embarked, on His second journey to the West, on
the steamship Cedric, on March 25, 1912, sailing via Naples direct to
New York where He arrived on April 11. After a prolonged tour of eight
months' duration, which carried Him from coast to coast, and in the
course of which He visited Washington, Chicago, Cleveland, Pittsburgh,
Montclair, Boston, Worcester, Brooklyn, Fanwood, Milford,
Philadelphia, West Englewood, Jersey City, Cambridge, Medford,
Morristown, Dublin, Green Acre, Montreal, Malden, Buffalo, Kenosha,
Minneapolis, St. Paul, Omaha, Lincoln, Denver, Glenwood Springs, Salt
Lake City, San Francisco, Oakland, Palo Alto, Berkeley, Pasadena, Los
Angeles, Sacramento, Cincinnati, and Baltimore, He sailed, on the S.S.
Celtic, on December 5, from New York for Liverpool; and landing there
He proceeded by train to London. Later He visited Oxford, Edinburgh
and Bristol, and thence returning to London, left for Paris on January
21, 1913. On March 30 He traveled to Stuttgart, and from there
proceeded, on April 9, to Budapest, visited Vienna nine days later,
returned to Stuttgart on April 25, and to Paris on May first, where He
remained until June 12, sailing the following day, on the S.S.
Himalaya from Marseilles bound for Egypt, arriving in Port Said four
days later, where after short visits to Isma'iliyyih and Abuqir, and a
prolonged stay in Ramleh, He returned to Haifa, concluding His
historic journeys on December 5, 1913.”

“It was in the course of these epoch-making journeys and before large
and representative audiences, at times exceeding a thousand people,
that 'Abdu'l-Bahá expounded, with brilliant simplicity, with
persuasiveness and force, and for the first time in His ministry,
those basic and distinguishing principles of His Father's Faith, which
together with the laws and ordinances revealed in the Kitab-i-Aqdas
constitute the bed-rock of God's latest Revelation to mankind. The
independent search after truth, unfettered by superstition or
tradition; the oneness of the entire human race, the pivotal principle
and fundamental doctrine of the Faith; the basic unity of all
religions; the condemnation of all forms of prejudice, whether
religious, racial, class or national; the harmony which must exist
between religion and science; the equality of men and women, the two
wings on which the bird of human kind is able to soar; the
introduction of compulsory education; the adoption of a universal
auxiliary language; the abolition of the extremes of wealth and
poverty; the institution of a world tribunal for the adjudication of
disputes between nations; the exaltation of work, performed in the
spirit of service, to the rank of worship; the glorification of
justice as the ruling principle in human society, and of religion as a
bulwark for the protection of all peoples and nations; and the
establishment of a permanent and universal peace as the supreme goal
of all mankind -- these stand out as the essential elements of that
Divine polity which He proclaimed to leaders of public thought as well
as to the masses at large in the course of these missionary journeys.
The exposition of these vitalizing truths of the Faith of Baha’u’llah,
which He characterized as the "spirit of the age," He supplemented
with grave and reiterated warnings of an impending conflagration
which, if the statesmen of the world should fail to avert, would set
ablaze the entire continent of Europe. He, moreover, predicted, in the
course of these travels, the radical changes which would take place in
that continent, foreshadowed the movement of the decentralization of
political power which would inevitably be set in motion, alluded to
the troubles that would overtake Turkey, anticipated the persecution
of the Jews on the European continent, and categorically asserted that
the "banner of the unity of mankind would be hoisted, that the
tabernacle of universal peace would be raised and the world become
another world."
(Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 281)

“The clarion call which 'Abdu'l-Bahá had raised was the signal for an
outburst of renewed activity which, alike in the motives it inspired
and the forces it set in motion, America had scarcely experienced.
Lending an unprecedented impetus to the work which the enterprising
ambassadors of the Message of Baha’u’llah had initiated in distant
lands, this mighty movement has continued to spread until the present
day, has gathered momentum as it extended its ramifications over the
surface of the globe, and will continue to accelerate its march until
the last wishes of its original Promoter are completely fulfilled.”
(Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha'u'llah, p. 87)

“Praised be the Lord that the prophecies of all His Manifestations
have now been clearly fulfilled, in this greatest of all days, this
holy and blessed age.”
(Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, p. 182)


    Le voyage  d’Abdul-Baha dans l'Ouest
    Re-adaptation de divers articles sur le voyage de  notre Bien aimee Maitre 

    Abdu'l-Bahá, fils de Bahá'u'lláh, le prophète fondateur de la foi bahá'íe, est né le 23 mai 1844, en Iran. Son enfance et son adolescence se sont écoulées dans les affres d'une misère et d'une affliction continuelles. Compagnon d'exil de son père, il dut quitter son pays à l'âge de 9 ans. A 24 ans, les portes de la prison de Saint-Jean-d'Acre se referment sur lui pour ne s'ouvrir que quarante ans plus tard. A sa libération, il avait soixante-quatre ans et c'est alors seulement que commence la mission dont l'a investi Bahá'u'lláh. Malgré son age et son affaiblissement causé par les privations, il entreprend la tache de porter en Occident le message d'amour, de paix et de justice révélé par Bahá'u'lláh. Il s'embarque en septembre 1910 pour visiter l'Egypte, l'Europe et les Etats-Unis.

    Sur une période de 23 mois couvrant les années de 1911 à 1913, son  voyages à travers l'Europe et l'Amérique du Nord.

    Il visita l'Angleterre en 1911, restant la plupart du temps à Londres, puis il y revint à la fin de l'année suivante  pour une tournée de plus grande envergure qui le mena jusqu'à Edimbourgh. Dans ce pays comme partout ailleurs il fut bien accueilli. Son allure digne et ses manières pleines de tendresse rallièrent à lui ceux qui le rencontrèrent. Les souffrances qu'il avait subies sans amertume les émurent. Le message d'amour, d'unité, d'unicité de l'humanité et d'harmonie des religions qu'il donna, séduisit tous ceux qui voyaient au-delà des structures rigides de classe, de croyance et de race, qui prévalaient en ce temps-là.
    Les comptes rendus de l'époque et les articles de presse témoignent de l'étendue et du succès des talents de 'Abdu'l-Bahá.

    Seuls quelques-uns des croyants de Londres et de Paris avaient eu le bonheur de pouvoir voyager à 'Akká  pour rencontrer 'Abdu'l-Bahá, entendre sa voix, être inspirés et spirituellement nourris par sa personne. Le plus grand nombre demeurait dans l'attente de le voir et de converser avec lui  Leur joie explosa lors de sa venue. Il arriva à Londres avec la quiétude de la Plus Grande Paix, pratiquement sans y avoir été annoncé.
    . Quant à la foule des visiteurs, elle accourait pour lui rendre hommage et recevoir sa bénédiction continuellement jour après jour. L'atmosphère qui l'entourait s'harmonisait avec le ton parfait de sa courtoisie et de sa bienveillance infatigables. Des professeurs de différentes croyances vinrent et furent conquis par le charme de ses manières et la conviction de son âme. Son message d'unité pénétra profondément les coeurs de ceux qui l'écoutaient, quelle que soit la foi à laquelle ces auditeurs adhéraient.
    Nombreuses furent les questions et nombreux ceux qui les posèrent. Ses réponses, bien que probablement altérées par la traduction, surprirent et enchantèrent ceux qui l'entendaient. Sa maîtrise des questions qui les préoccupaient, ses réponses vives et ardentes, émerveillèrent et furent reçues cordialement.
     'Abdu'l-Bahá s'adressa à de larges audiences dans des lieux de culte et de services sociaux. Le pasteur du temple de la cité, le révérend R.J. Campbell M.A. le présenta avec des paroles pleines d'amabilité, à une congrégation débordante qui entendit 'Abdu'l-Bahá avec un intense intérêt,
    A l'église de Saint Jean à Westminster, le vénérable archidiacre Wilberforce organisa un office similaire, la congrégation s'agenouillant à sa demande pour recevoir la bénédiction de 'Abdu'l-Bahá. A l'établissement de Passmore Edwards sur la Place Tavistock, un vaste auditoire s'assembla pour le voir et l'entendre.
    Une impression profonde est restée dans l'esprit et la mémoire d'hommes et de femmes de toutes sortes et de toutes conditions. L'extraordinaire sympathie de 'Abdu'l-Bahá s'avéra être en chaque circonstance aussi utile que son discernement et sa perspicacité pour traiter de difficultés furent-elles subtiles ou évidentes. Quiconque l'approcha se sentit compris et fut étonné et réconforté par la maîtrise avec laquelle 'Abdu'l-Bahá analysait les différences entre les religions, et surtout leurs points communs. Quelquefois dans des discours bref mais magistraux, ou d'autres fois, par le biais de questions et de réponses, des thèmes d'intérêt particulier ou général furent exposés et expliqués.


    1908 septembre 'Abdu'l-Bahá recouvre sa liberté
    1910 septembre Départ pour l'Egypte

    11 août Embarquement (en Egypte) à bord du S.S. Corsica pour Marseille
    août Bref arrêt à Thonon-les-Bains
    04 septembre Arrivée à Londres

    08 septembre Fête de l'unité chez Mademoiselle E.J. Rosenberg
    09 septembre Première visite à Vanners (Byfleet)

    10 septembre Première allocution publique au temple de la cité
    13 septembre Réunion chez Madame Thornburgh-Cropper
    17 septembre Allocution à l'église de Saint Jean à Westminster
    22 septembre Fête de l'unité chez Mesdemoiselles Jack et Herrick
    23-25 septembre Visite de Bristol
    28 septembre Seconde visite à Vanners (Byfleet)
    29 septembre Réunion d'adieu à 'Abdu'l-Bahá

    30 septembre Allocution au siège de la société théosophique
    01 octobre Célébration d'un mariage bahá'í
    03 octobre Départ de Londres pour Paris
    02 décembre Départ de Paris pour l'Egypte

    25 mars Embarquement (en Egypte) à bord du Cédric pour New-York (via Naples)
    29 mars Arrivée à Naples où Shoghi Effendi est contraint par les autorités médicales de renoncer à accompagner 'Abdu'l-Bahá aux Etats-Unis
    30 mars Embarquement (à Naples) à bord du Cédric pour New-York
    11 avril Arrivée à New-York

    05 décembre Embarquement (à New-York) à bord du S.S. Celtic pour Liverpool
    13 décembre Arrivée à Liverpool
    16 décembre Arrivée à Londres
    06 janvier Visite de Edimbourg
    15 janvier Visite de Bristol
    21 janvier Départ de Londres pour Paris
    06 février Visite de Versailles
    30 mars Départ de Paris pour Stuttgart

    09 avril Départ de Stuttgart pour Budapest (via Vienne)
    25 avril Retour à Stuttgart
    01 mai Départ de Stuttgart pour Paris

    13 juin Embarquement (à Marseille) à bord du S.S. Himalaya pour l'Egypte
    16 juin Arrivée en Egypte

    05 décembre Retour à Haïfa clôturant ses voyages historiques

    Quelques note et discours choisie durant ce voyage memorables du Bien-Aimee Maitre Abdul Baha

    Un ami demanda à 'Abdu'l-Bahá jusqu'à quel point un individu peut posséder en lui-même cette conscience du Christ que St. Paul nomme l'espérance de la gloire (26)?
    'Abdu'l-Bahá se tourna avec une grande joie dans le regard et dit avec un geste émouvant: "La bonté et le pouvoir de Dieu sont sans limites pour chaque âme humaine. Considérez ce qu'était le pouvoir vivifiant du Christ quand Il était sur terre. Regardez ses disciples! Ils étaient des hommes pauvres et non cultivés. D'un rustre pêcheur Il fit le grand Pierre, et de la pauvre fille du village de Magdala il fit quelqu'un de vénéré pour son pouvoir dans le monde entier aujourd'hui. On se souvient de nombreuses reines qui ont régné grâce aux dates qui figurent dans l'histoire. Mais Marie Madeleine est plus grande que toutes ces reines. Elle est celle dont l'amour fortifia les apôtres quand leur foi chancelait. Ce qu'elle fit pour le monde ne peut être mesuré. Voyez quel pouvoir divin s'embrasait en elle par le pouvoir de Dieu!"

    Abdu'l-Baha : Abdu'l-Baha a Londres


    Abdu'l-Baha avait été un prisonnier et un exilé pendant plus que cinquante ans de sa vie. Il n'avait jamais fréquenté l'école dans son enfance. Il n'avait rencontré durant son adolescence aucun étudiant de niveau supérieur ou universitaire. Même à l'âge mur, il n'avait jamais lu les importants livres du Monde ni eu de discussions avec les gens les plus instruits.

    Mais lorsque Abdu'l-Baha se rendit en Europe et en Amérique, il s'est quand même entretenu avec des savants et des philosophes, des hommes influents et des dirigeants. Vous pouvez penser que son expérience antérieure ne l'avait pas rendu apte à cela. Tout de même Abdu'l-Baha n'était jamais désemparé. Peu importe le sujet de la discussion, Il se montrait toujours à la hauteur. En fait, Il semblait toujours en connaître plus long que quiconque et Il avait toujours une bonne réponse à toute question ou tout problème. Mais en même temps, Il ne laissait jamais les gens ressentir Sa supériorité par rapport aux autres. Il était toujours modeste, aimant et respectueux de l'opinion des autres.

    Et Il était toujours courtois envers c
    haque personne qu'Il rencontrait car Il " voyait le Visage de son Père Céleste dans chaque visage." (PF 115)

    - Un jour, une femme vint exprimer ses chagrins à Abdu'l-Baha. Comme elle racontait son histoire, ¢bdu'l-Baha essayait de l'apaiser et disait: "Ne soyez plus triste, ne soyez pas triste."

    La femme disait: "Mon frère est en prison depuis trois ans. Il ne devrait pas être emprisonné car cela n'était pas de sa faute. Il était vulnérable et suivait les autres. Il sera emprisonné encore quatre années. Ma mère et mon père sont
    inconsolables. Mon beau-frère prenait soin de nous, mais il vient juste de mourir."

    Le Maître percevait toute la tragédie humaine. Voilà une famille affligée de toutes formes de misère; ils étaient pauvres, ils étaient faibles, tristes, déchus et totalement désespérés.

    Abdu'l-Baha dit: "Vous devez avoir confiance en Dieu."

    "Mais, de s'écrier la femme, plus j'ai confiance, plus les conditions empirent."

    "Vous n'avez jamais eu confiance" dit Abdu'l-Baha.

    "Pourtant, ma mère lit la bible tout le temps " dit-elle. " Elle ne mérite pas que Dieu l'abandonne à son désespoir! Moi aussi je lis la bible; je récite le quatre vingt onzième Psaume et le vingt-troisième Psaume chaque soir au coucher. De plus, je récite des prières."

    Abdu'l-Baha la regarda tendrement et lui dit, "Prier ne consiste pas à lire la bible. La prière, c'est d'avoir confiance en Dieu et d'accepter Sa Volonté. Vous devez être patiente et accepter la Volonté de Dieu et alors les choses vont s'améliorer pour vous. Placez votre famille entre les mains de Dieu. Appréciez la Volonté de Dieu et ayez confiance en Lui. Les bateaux robustes ne sont pas vaincus par la mer; ils résistent aux océans! À partir de maintenant, soyez comme un vaillant bateau et non pas un bateau en dérive." (AF 27


    Mercredi 13 septembre 1911

    'Abdu'l-Bahá dit:

    "Grâce soit rendue à Dieu, c'est une bonne réunion; elle est très illuminée; elle est spirituelle. Un poète persan a écrit: 'L'univers céleste est ainsi formé que le monde inférieur réfléchit le monde supérieur'. Cela revient à dire que ce monde phénoménal réfléchit tout ce qui existe au paradis. Maintenant, louange soit à Dieu, cette réunion est un reflet du concours céleste, c'est comme si nous avions pris un miroir pour nous y regarder. Ce reflet du concours céleste, c'est l'amour.
    Parce que l'amour céleste existe dans le concours suprême, il se reflète ici. Le concours suprême est plein de désir envers Dieu, rendons grâce à Dieu, ce désir est aussi présent ici.
    Voilà pourquoi, si nous disons que cette réunion est céleste, c'est vrai. Pourquoi? Parce que nous n'avons nul autre désir que celui qui vient de Dieu. Nous n'avons nul autre but que la mention de Dieu.
    Des hommes sur terre rêvent de conquêtes; certains aspirent au repos et à l'aisance; d'autres désirent une haute position; d'autres encore souhaitent devenir célèbres. Grâce à Dieu, notre désir est la spiritualité et l'union avec Dieu.
    Maintenant que nous sommes rassemblés ici, notre souhait est de hisser la bannière de l'unité de Dieu, de répandre la lumière de Dieu, de faire en sorte que le coeur des hommes se tourne vers le Royaume. En conséquence, je rends grâce Dieu de nous confier cette mission importante.
    Je prie pour vous tous, que vous deveniez des guerriers célestes, que vous répandiez partout l'unité de Dieu et illuminiez l'Est et l'Ouest, et que vous communiquiez à tous les coeurs l'amour de Dieu. C'est mon plus cher désir, et je prie Dieu que votre désir soit identique.
    Je suis très heureux d'être avec vous. J'apprécie votre Roi d'Angleterre, votre gouvernement et votre peuple.
    Puisiez-vous rendre grâce à Dieu d'êtres libres dans cette contrée. Vous ne savez pas combien la liberté manque à l'Est. Quiconque vient dans ce pays y est heureux.
    Je souhaite pour tous la protection de Dieu. Au revoir à tous."

    Abdu'l-Baha : Abdu'l-Baha a Londres-

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