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STAR OF THE WEST
"We desire but the good of the world and the happiness of the nations; that all nations shall become one in faith and all men as brothers; that the bonds of affection and unity between the sons of men shall be strengthened, that diversity of religion shall cease and differences of race be annulled. So it shall be; these fruitless strifes; these ruinous wars shall pass away, and the 'Most Great Peace' shall come."—BAHA'O'LLAH.
Vol. IX Jamal 1, 74 (April 28, 1918) No. 3
Talks by Abdul-Baha in the Holy Land—Continued
TRANSLATED BY DR. ZIA BAGDADI
The following compilation of some of the utterances of Abdul-Baha after his return to the Holy Land from America, Europe and Egypt, is the second published under this heading—the first appeared in issue No. 2 page 17
THE DEATH OF MIRZA ABUL-FAZL
TODAY very sad news has been received. He was indeed a very glorious personage. In every way he was unequalled. It is impossible for a person to be perfect in all things. His honor Agha Mirza Hayder Ali must write his life history.
In reality, he was in the utmost severance, in the utmost firmness and steadfastness in the Cause of God. He was detached from all things. From the day this person became a believer until this day, he was engaged in service in the Cause of God. He was engaged either in giving the Message or in writing. He was never attached to this world.
How learned he was and studious of books! He was familiar with every nation. With the precepts of all religions he was acquainted. He was my partner and participant in the servitude of the holy threshold.
During the days of sorrow, he was my consolation. I had perfect confidence in him. Every written criticism of the Cause I used to refer to him and he wrote the answer.
How humble and meek he was! No matter how much we insisted that this person take a servant for himself, he refused, that he might serve the friends and give them tea. All friends and strangers, when they went to his home, he used to serve. Although his body was weak, sick, feeble and feverish, he used to stand and make tea. All his thoughts were directed to making his visitors pleased and happy at any rate.
During all this time I did not hear from him the word—"I; I said or I wrote." He used to say, "I submitted to them; I submitted to the friends." Never a word was uttered by him, saying, "I have knowledge," or "I have experience." He was indeed effaced and selfless. He was self-sacrificing at the holy threshold. The odor of existence could not be inhaled from him.
A great wisdom necessitated his passing. There is nothing to do but to exercise patience. How many a man equals a thousand men!
All the friends of God should gather together and pray at the holy tomb of the Bab and I will pray here.
(Talk upon Mirza Abul-Fazl given by Abdul-Baha, in his home, at Haifa, January 21, 1914).
The calamity of his honor, Mirza Abul-Fazl is indeed great. No matter how much we want to console ourselves, we cannot be consoled. How good for man to be like this, so that the hearts of all the friends are attracted to him in every way. While in Alexandria, every time my heart was depressed, I used to go and meet him and at once my depression vanished. He was very truthful. He never harbored deceit and revenge.
He left wonderful writings in proving the blessed Cause. His thought, reference, pen and tongue all were used in proving the blessed Cause. His custom was to occupy his time from morning to noon in writing. He did not receive anyone. In the afternoon, he received everybody who went to him.
He used to have difficulties with the American and European women because of their numerous questions and persistence. Some of these ladies said, "We went there and knocked at his door. We heard no answer. We persisted in knocking, knowing that he was in. We knocked and we knocked. And finally, he said in English, 'Abul-Fazl not here.'" The ladies said, "We were convulsed with laughter. He himself, from the inside, laughed too. And then we departed."
Light flooded his face. How illumined he was! His heart was shining, radiant. The divine wisdom is wonderful. Man becomes amazed. Although such souls themselves are like unto a remedy for others, death is their utmost desire. It is the highest degree of existence and for him was life supreme. No greater bounty is there for man than to depart from the world of existence.
Those who associated with him and loved him have become sad. He was a sincere soul. There was nothing about him but sincerity. Never had he any superfluities about him. He was all sincerity. For example, if he loved a person, he used to love him more in his heart. If he attributed anything to a man, he used to attribute it more in his heart. And if he was in harmony with a man, he was more in harmony in his heart. He was sincere, not insincere. If he was angry at a man, he could not speak to him. He used to tremble at the sight of him.
Astonishing it is that one of the pashas of Egypt longed to meet him, but Abul-Fazl refused him. After that, a mediator went to him and asked, "Why don't you meet the pasha?" He replied, "I don't like him. His desire must be insincere, because if his desires were sincere, God would have created love in my heart for him. At any rate, I am unable to meet him with love and truthfulness. It is better that I do not see him."
He was not entangled with this world. He was not entangled with anything. His heart was not attached to life, nor anything else. He was entirely severed, refined, spiritual and of the Kingdom.
The sheikh of Islam, of Caucasia, wrote against the Cause. Some of the friends answered him. Sheikh of Islam wrote a second time a criticism. After that, Agha Mirza Abul-Fazl wrote a full, convincing answer. It surprised the sheikh.
It was amusing and the joke is here, that the Ezelis wanted Abul-Fazl's book very much. Finally, one of the friends asked, "Well, you are Babis; what is in this book that you want so much?" They replied, "For its good arguments in behalf of his highness, the Supreme (the Bab). And for these arguments, we want the book."
(Talk given by Abdul-Baha, in his home, Haifa, January 22, 1914.)
Meetings are held, in the home of Abdul-Baha, twice a week. One evening, Abdul-Baha spoke about the beauty and spirituality of Mt. Carmel. He spoke, also, of Elijah and of his arising to vivify the religion of Moses. Elijah cast out the statue of Baal (an idol) and reformed the Jews from harmful customs. When he had lead them to perfect spirituality and might, so that he had confidence in them he left them, instantly left them; because he saw that his work was finished. Man must be like this. At the time of difficulties and when his services are needed, he must answer the call of the hour and then, when his work is accomplished, he must hold aloof from leadership and power. This is the meaning of "the man of God" or "God's hero" and "service to God." After reading and chanting communes, the name of a Zoroastrian, who visited Abdul-Baha in London and who became very attracted, was mentioned. Abdul-Baha said, "As long as the love of God exists in a heart, there is progress, day by day, and vice-versa."
On February 9th, 1914, a young English traveler went to see Abdul-Baha in Haifa. He was interested in the economic problem and asked the following question: "When the time comes for the working people to become the partners of their employers, will they have their own representatives to consult with the company and will those who invest more capital receive more shares?" Abdul-Baha replied: "Certainly, when the working people become partners with the company, they will select their own representatives for consultation and those who have more capital will earn more money."
In the evening, Abdul-Baha called one of the pilgrims, known as Mirza Mahmood Forooghy, to him. (The translator knows this man personally. He is indeed one of God's heroes. One of his great works was this: When the first storm of tests blew in Acca and the fire of violation appeared, the eyes of most of the believers were closed to the truth; but his honor Mirza Mahmoud Forooghy sounded the trumpet of firmness and their eyes became opened.) Abdul-Baha spoke to Mirza Mahmood Forooghy about the victory of the divine sovereignty over the material, saying that spiritual matters are promulgated by the inward and ideal power and not by outward conditions and circumstances.
At that moment, a group of Jewish Bahais, from Hamadan, Persia, came and Abdul-Baha answered all of their questions. The following is one of the answers: "The utterance of the Blessed Beauty that the descendants of Israel shall become dear, was made at a time when the people of Israel were still in the utmost degradation and before they had returned. He uttered these things in order that the glance of providence would surround them, so that they might progress, deliver themselves from humiliation and return to this holy land. That is why, day by day, they became dear and returned to the holy land. These things are all through the power of the blessed Word. They had been degraded for 1,600 years, but, after this blessed word was uttered, they became dear and progressed, although they had no soldiers, army nor government and although the other governments remained the same as before. But this blessed utterance is in behalf of the believers among the Israelites, that is, those who became believers. When the believers of the Israelites progressed and became dear, the non-believers progressed with them, like those, who go and eat at a feast, to which they are not invited. However, this progression is only as long as they are agreeable and friendly. Should they exercise enmity, they will
not progress. Nay rather, they will destroy their own homes."
On February 11th, Hadji Mussa, a Jewish Bahai, arrived from Azerbayjan, Persia. He went with the pilgrims to visit Abdul-Baha, who talked to them as follows: "Readiness is necessary in order to be a recipient of divine bounty. Souls who are prepared are like candles, coming in contact with fire. They become illumined. They are swayed by the wafting of a breeze. They become green and verdant from a drop of the sprinkling of the cloud of favor. They find merciful susceptibilities by hearing a word. But no fruits nor results can be obtained from the souls who are not ready. Thus the prepared souls, on hearing the divine call, respond, 'Here we are!' They turn to the Kingdom of Abha, investigate the realities of divine questions and arise to spread the fragrances of God. How many souls in the world have longed all of their lives to live in the days of one of the near servants of God and to reach the favor of being in the presence of one of the accepted servants in the threshold of the Truth, and yet it was impossible for them! Praise be to God, you have responded with 'Aye!' to the call of God, in the days of the Blessed Beauty. You are in the age of light and in the century of mysteries. God willing, you may be confirmed in services to the holy threshold and firm in the Covenant and Testament of God."
On February 12th some of the friends went to see Abdul-Baha and heard him say the following: "We must execute the divine ordinances. The Blessed Beauty says, 'If you have a word or a truth, which others are deprived of, present it with utmost compassion. If it is accepted, the aim is attained. If otherwise, you should not interfere. Leave him to himself, while advancing to God, the Mighty, the Self-subsisting.' The duty of the friends, is this: To be kind to all nationalities and parties; to be all love; to be well-wishers and to associate with everyone, in the utmost unity. . . . They must always read the holy books, so that they may be familiar with their contents. . . . Do not write anything for the STAR OF THE WEST that might become the cause of repelling the souls. Nay, rather, write things that may become the cause of joy, advancement and hopefulness to the souls."
In the afternoon, some of the German and British leaders went to visit Abdul-Baha and he talked to them about the holy land and Mount Carmel. He said: "The climate of Mount Carmel is peerless. Its sun is always shining, its moon, brilliant, its stars are gleaming and its lights are radiant. This holy land is the high land, wherein the prophets of God became manifest. Abraham, Ishmail, Isaac, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, Isaiah and the rest, were in the holy land. You must know the value of this land and love it. If a person travels in all of this holy land he will find all kinds of trees, those that grow in tropical as well as those of the temperate climates, such as pomegranate, dates, cypresses, walnut, etc. You must love this holy land very much. The Sun of Reality shone forth upon it and it is the dawning-point of the Manifestations of the Light of Divinity." Then Abdul-Baha praised the climate and the inhabitants of Stuttgart, Germany, and spoke about the superstitions and imitations of the leaders of religion. He said: "They are promulgating matters which are not in accord with the divine books and which are contrary to sound minds. His holiness Christ says, 'Sheath thou the sword,' but they make the Krupp cannons. If you compare the deeds of the present nations with the behests of the holy books and with the deeds of the divine Manifestations, you will find that there is no relation whatever between them."
In the evening, the general meeting
for the friends and pilgrims was held in the blessed home. Abdul-Baha answered the question of one, who stood at his service, saying: "This cycle is the cycle of favor and not of justice. Therefore, those whose deeds are clean and pure, even though they are not believers, will not be deprived of the divine mercy; but perfection is in faith and deeds. Undoubtedly, a person, who is not a believer, but whose deeds and morals are good, is far better than one who claims his belief in words but, who, in actions, is a follower of satan. The Blessed Beauty says, 'My humiliation is not in my imprisonment, which, by my life, is an exaltation to me; nay rather, it is in the deeds of my friends, who attribute themselves to us and commit that which causes my heart and pen to weep!'"
In the afternoon of February 13th, the American pilgrims held a special memorial meeting, for the departure of Mirza Abul-Fazl, at the holy threshold of the Bab, on Mount Carmel. Abdul-Baha attended the meeting and spent that night at the home of Abbas Kuli, near the blessed tomb. In the morning of February 14th, Abdul-Baha went to the hospice (the home of the pilgrims) close to the tomb of the Bab and sat in the parlor, facing the tomb of Baha'o'llah. He said: "The view from this hospice is very beautiful, especially because it faces the tomb of the Blessed Beauty and Acca. In the future it will all be built up between Acca and Haifa. Acca and Haifa will be joined together and will take the first place in the world. Now, as I glance into the future, I see the greatest port in the world here. This semi-circular bay will be a large harbor for ships, so that the entering boats may be protected from the waves and winds of the storm. This harbor will be filled with ships of the nations. All of these regions will be decorated by buildings and lofty palaces. Many gardens and flower beds will be made. There will be electric lights and from here to Acca will be flooded with them. It will be a wonderful sight, especially at night, for those who come from the sea or who look from the summit of the mountains. From all of these regions, the cry of 'Ya-Baha-el-Abha!', (O Thou Glorious of the Most Glorious!) shall rise. All the souls will come in a state of supplication, imploring and chanting the communes. In every town, the melodies from the Mashrak-el-Azkar on this Mount Carmel, will be most pleasing to the ears.
"It is wonderful! Consider where this Cause was at first and where it is now! And where is Shiraz, Teheran, Bagdad, Roumelia, Constantinople and Acca! These events took place only for the fulfillment of the prophecies of the prophets. God's ways are wonderful. For 2,000 years, he has made the Cause travel here and there, until it reached the spot in which it would fulfill all the prophecies. God will, unquestionably, declare openly the Prince of Peace, of whom he spoke, through the prophets, and he will not erase a single letter."
In the morning of February 15th, a large number of American ladies, who were going to Jerusalem, visited Abdul-Baha. Afterwards, the governor of Damascus, the judge of Haifa and a number of statesmen went to see him, in his home. He spoke to them in detail about historical matters, scientific facts, the life histories of some of the doctors and sages of the past and of the requirements for this great century, the oneness of the world of humanity and universal peace.
In the afternoon, the president of Beirut College (Syrian Protestant College), the head of the hospital, and a large number of students, came to see Abdul-Baha and he spoke as follows:
"The schools should be free from all religious and racial prejudices, for these often prevent good results from being
obtained. All schools and colleges should have these three foundations:
First—They should be sincere in the service of training the souls. They should discover the mysteries of nature and extend the circle of art, commerce, etc., so that ignorance and the lack of knowledge will pass away and the lights of science and knowledge shine forth from the horizon of the soul and heart. In all schools and universities, a general rule for training should be made.
Second—Training in morality is necessary, so that the pupils' good conduct may remain unchanged and so that they may progress in a most befitting manner, become possessed of lofty ideas, lovers of the world of humanity and so that they will hold fast to the spiritual perfections and to that which does not displease God.
Third—Service to the world of humanity should be obligatory. Every student should know, with perfect certainty, that he is the brother of the people of all religions and nations and that he should be without religious, racial, national, patriotic or political bias, so that he may find the thoughts of universal peace and the love of humankind firmly established in his heart. He should know himself as a servant of human society of all the countries in the world. He should see God as the heavenly father and all the servants, as his children, counting all of the nations, parties and seats as one family. The mothers in the homes, the teachers in the schools, the professors in the universities, and the leaders in the lofty gatherings, must cause these thoughts to be penetrative and effective, as the spirit, circulating in the veins and nerves of the children and pupils, so that the world of humanity may be delivered from the calamities of fanaticism, war, battle, hate and obstinacy, and so that the nether world may become the paradise of heaven."
In the evening, a group of Persian pilgrims came from Merv, Russia, and Abdul-Baha gave the following advices: "Never let the friends be separated from other people and nations. They must strive for unity and harmony, through good deeds and morals. They must be kind to all, tolerant with all and good in conduct. Day by day, may they become nearer to the threshold of the Blessed Beauty. May they engage in elevating the Word of God and arise in spreading the Cause of God. Day by day, may they become more attracted and more holy. Night and day, I supplicate and beseech the threshold of the Blessed Beauty, seeking confirmations and assistance for the friends of God. I have the greatest attachment for the friends of the Blessed Beauty and I never forget them."
On the morning of February 16th, the friends from Merv, Russia, left for their country and a party of nine, men and women, from Yezd, Nayreez (Persia) and Bombay (India), arrived in the holy land. Abdul-Baha was exceedingly glad to see them and showered his blessings upon them, saying: "In the beginning of the Cause, the friends in Nayreez and Serostan were surging in activity. The friends there are either of the old believers or of the children of the martyrs. They have indeed been of great service in the path of God. They were self-sacrificing and fell victims to severe tests, but all remained firm and steadfast. Now, also, they are busy, teaching the Cause of God. Today, confirmation is with those souls who arise to teach. The gardener is pleased with the flower that is diffusing its fragrance. The nostrils are perfumed by its sweet smell. The souls, who are engaged in teaching the Cause, resemble the full-blown flowers. Sweet fragrances are being diffused from the rose gardens of their hearts."
On February 17th, some of the believers, who had arrived the night before,
from Khorassan (Persia), came to see Abdul-Baha, and all bowed and fell at his feet. Abdul-Baha prevented them and said: "No, it is unlawful. It is unlawful, because, according to the blessed command, kneeling, kissing of the hands and bowing are prohibited. They are not accepted in the Cause of God. They belong to the holy tombs of Baha'o'llah, and the Bab and to the house of God." Estad Mohammed Riza of Ishkabad, asked if any of the great powers would become believers. Abdul-Baha replied: "All the people of the world will become believers. Should you compare the beginning of the Cause with it today, you would see what a quick influence the Word of God has and how the Cause of God has encompassed the horizons. At the time we left Teheran (Persia) for Bagdad, there was not a single believer in all the way. In all the cities there were none. In Bagdad, there were two or three persons, in a very deplorable condition. All of the people used to say, 'Now that the Blessed Beauty is gone, this Cause will be erased.' The elevation of the Word of God, which you see at present, is from the potency of the Cause of God. Is it possible to compare the present condition with that previous one? How many of the believers did they kill, tie up, and confiscate and rob their homes! Notwithstanding this, the Cause has reached its present degree because it is confirmed. The hosts of the Supreme Concourse assist it and the powers of the Kingdom of Abha confirm it. Unquestionably, all will come under the shadow of the Cause of God. Right there, in Ishkabad, had they ever before heard the name of the Cause? Now, praise be to God! the banner of the Cause of God is raised high. All the powers and nations are convinced that the aim of this community (the Bahais) is the harmony and unity of the world. They never join in corruption. They want to become the cause of the life of the world and the means of safety; awakening the souls and the cause of the spirituality of the creatures; life-givers and not life-takers. In the beginning of the Cause, the Babis (Ezelis) brought affairs to such a state that safety was utterly lost and they put the lives and property of all at stake. What a dilemma it was! What implications, vice and immorality took place! All of the people became assured that the Babis (Ezelis) were the enemies of the lives, property and the honor of humanity and that they were blood-thirsty, immoral and evil-doers. In Teheran, during the incident of the Shah (Nasser-el-Din Shah was shot by a boy), I remember hearing an akhond (Mohammedan priest) crying, 'O people! If you want to worship God and the prophet, if you want to protect your lives, property and honor, kill these Babis. They are the enemies of your possessions and of your honor. They are against the laws and religion.' All of these events took place, because Mirza Yahya (Ezel), Seyed Mohammed, Mullah Djaffar Naraki and such men, held disreputable gatherings every night and day. They were engaged in immorality and vice. This is why, in the history of the people, those calumnies were attributed to the origin of the Cause. They wrote that the Babis allowed each woman to have nine husbands. Therefore the Blessed Beauty arose, with a divine power and might. He removed all of those implications, unfurled the banner of holiness, pitched the tent of universal peace and called the people to faithfulness, good morals and peace. He said, 'If you are killed in God's service, it is better than for you to kill. Should you be in need of the very essentials of life, you must not raise your hand against anyone, not even a Jew. (In those days, the Jews were under great persecutions.) Be ye kind to all people, loyal to all the governments and deal fairly with all humanity. Be faithful, truthful, merciful,
(Continued on page 34)
STAR OF THE WEST
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TABLET FROM ABDUL-BAHA.
HE IS GOD!
O thou Star of the West!
Be thou happy! Be thou happy! Shouldst thou continue to remain firm and eternal, ere long, thou shalt become the Star of the East and shalt spread in every country and clime. Thou art the first paper of the Bahais which is organized in the country of America. Although for the present thy subscribers are limited, thy form is small and thy voice weak, yet shouldst thou stand unshakable, become the object of the attention of the friends and the center of the generosity of the leaders of the faith who are firm in the Covenant, in the future thy subscribers will become hosts after hosts like unto the waves of the sea; thy volume will increase, thy arena will become vast and spacious and thy voice and fame will be raised and become world-wide—and at last thou shalt become the first paper of the world of humanity. Yet all these depend upon firmness, firmness, firmness!
(Signed) ABDUL-BAHA ABBAS.
"And some of his signs"—Tablet revealed by Abdul-Baha on the "signs" of Baha'o'llah
He Is God!
Praise be unto the One who created the world and made every existing thing wonderful!
He gave the sincere praise-worthy stations and made the invisible visible, but all others are groping in their deep sleep.
He laid the foundation in the erection of the lofty palace and the glorious light; created the new creatures in a manifest resurrection!—and still the people are heedless in their slumber.
He blew the horn; the (first) trumpet sounded; the drum was beaten; those in the world of existence were stunned!—and still the dead are dormant in the graves of their bodies.
Then the second trumpet sounded; it brought the breath of life to some of the dead; even the nursing mothers forgot their infants!—and still the people in their unconsciousness do not comprehend.
The day of judgment has come; the hour has struck; the path is extended; the balance (scale of justice) is set up; all the contingent beings are gathered (for judgment)!—and still the people are afflicted with blindness!
The light has shone forth; the Mount of Tôr became illumined; the soft breeze of the rose-gardens of the forgiving Lord blew gently; the fragrances of the Spirit were diffused; the dead were resurrected from the graves!—and still the heedless are asleep in their tombs.
The fires are blazing; heaven is nigh; the meadows are blooming; paradise
has become a wonder!—and still the ignorant are wading in the stagnant pools of their imaginations.
The veil is removed; the curtain is lifted; the clouds are torn asunder; the Lord of Lords is manifest!—and still the criminally negligent are at loss.
He (Baha'o'llah) sounded forth the second trumpet and created for you the great Resurrection Day and gathered the holy souls in the Supreme Kingdom. Verily, therein are signs for the possessors of insight.
And some of his signs are the unfoldments of prophecies and glad tidings; the appearance of proofs and references; the expectations of the pure and devout—and they are of those who attain.
And some of his signs are his lights that are shining from the horizon of oneness; his rays that are beaming from the glorious dawning-point, and the declaration of the great glad tidings by his fore-runner (the Bab). Verily, therein is a clear evidence for those who reason.
And some of his signs are his manifestations and his appearance; his firmness and existence among the witnessing people in all the cities and among the tribes who attacked him from all sides like unto wolves.
And some of his signs are his steadfastness before the great nations and powerful governments, even before a host of enemies who shed blood and strive to wreck the divine edifice in every time and place. Verily, therein is a thought for those who reflect upon the signs of God.
And some of his signs are the wonders of his explanations; the eloquence of his utterances; the rapidity of revealing his words, verses, addresses, communes, interpretations of the symbols and illustrations of the parables. By thy life, the Cause is evident and clear to those who see with the eyes of justice!
And some of his signs are the rising of the sun of his knowledge; the ascending of the moon of his arts and the firmness of the perfections of his conditions. This is acknowledged by the well-informed and the learned of the nations.
And some of his signs are the preservation of his beauty, the protection of his human temple, the shining of his lights despite the attacks of his enemies with lances, swords and darting arrows from thousands of people. Verily, therein is an admonition to those who are just.
And some of his signs are his patience, calamities, ordeals, and sufferings under chains and fetters, while he was calling: "Come unto me, come unto me, O people of piety! Come unto me, come unto me, O party of goodness! Come unto me, come unto me, O rising points of light!" Verily, the door of mysteries is open—and still the wicked are wading in their mire.
And some of his signs are the revealing of his Book: his explicit messages as warnings to the kings; exhortations to the one who encircled the earth with a penetrating power and dominating force, whose great throne was destroyed
within a few days (this refers to Napoleon III). This matter is well-known and obvious to the public.
And some of his signs are the sublimity of his greatness; the supremacy of his station; the immensity of his glory and the shining of his beauty in the horizon of the prison (Acca). Then the heads bowed, the voices were silenced and the faces were amazed at him. This is a proof that was not heard of in past centuries.
And some of his signs are the performing of miracles, the appearance of continuous and uninterrupted supernatural powers, like the bounty of his cloud and the acknowledgment by the heedless of the penetration of his light. By his life! the Cause is affirmed and clear to all who have come from all parties to the presence of the Living, the Self-subsisting.
And some of his signs are the shining of the sun of his century, the rising of the moon of his generation in the heaven of the ages—the supreme summit of the centuries, with exigencies, knowledge and arts that astonished the horizons, amazed the minds and became known and famous.
Verily, this is a complete matter!
(Signed) ABDUL-BAHA ABBAS
(Translated by Dr. Zia M. Bagdadi, Chicago, February 14th, 1918.)
Talks by Abdul-Baha in the Holy Land—Continued
(Continued from page 31)
compassionate and serve the world of humanity. Consider the oneness of the world of humanity, because ye are all of one tree and the fruits of one branch.' Then it became evident to the governments and nations of the world that the Bahais are the essence of sanctity, lovers of peace and of safety, kind to all sects, faithful, truthful, harmless, patient, loyal and fruitful. Should poison be given to them (the Bahais) they will return honey. Should they be wounded, they will give in return a healing salve. If they hear curses and execrations, they send their prayers. In all of their aims, they only purpose the good of the creatures. They seek only the good pleasure of the Truth. They have no hope other than service and universal peace. Their happiness is only in the oneness of the world of humanity."
Afterwards, Abdul-Baha inquired about the health of the pilgrims, who came from Yezd, Persia, and gave the following utterances: "The friends of Yezd suffered great calamities. They experienced severe tests, the greatest tests possible. Notwithstanding the firmness and steadfastness of these friends, the people of violation and of instability, thought that they could promulgate doubt among these upright people. They believed that they could bring about corruption in the Cause, destroy the oneness and unity of the friends and bring humiliation to the Covenant of God, claiming, 'That the Blessed Beauty has favored us also.' They did not see that those favors were only in the relation of the souls to the Cause of God and that, when that relationship became severed and when the command was disobeyed, these favors vanished. Of what value, in itself, is the black stone (in Mecca)? But because it was given a
relation to the Cause of God his holiness Mohammed, himself, bowed down to it. Why? Because it was related to God. It is likewise with the house of God. But these relationships are figurative and metaphoric. God is holy above these relationships. These are all bounties and not from merit. What relationship remains when they have turned from the good-pleasure of the Blessed Beauty and when they strive to wreck the edifice of God? Undoubtedly, every relationship becomes severed. However, I consider myself as a mosquito; nay, even weaker than that; but the confirmations of the Kingdom of Abha, are unending. The bounties of the Blessed Beauty encompass us on all sides. What art thou to do? The Blessed Beauty says, 'We see you from my El-Abha (the Most Glorious) horizon. We shall assist those who arise to support my Cause with a host from the Supreme Concourse and a contingent from the near angels.' This is the field. Go forth and cry out! Raise the call! No one has confined nor prevented you. What will spending the nights and days in eating, sleeping, murmuring and finding fault result in, but loss? I do not prevent anyone from serving in the Cause of God. Nay rather, I always encourage and urge all to serve. I went myself and heralded the coming of the Kingdom. You, too, might have gone out, had you desired."
On February 18th, the pilgrims gathered to see Abdul-Baha, at his home in Haifa. In that meeting, news from Baku, Russia, was read, saying that Agha Mussa had held a wonderful memorial feast in the name of Mirza Abul-Fazl and that the friends had stopped their work, for three days and nights, because of their sorrow over his departure. In this meeting, the Persian consul gave a detailed address, telling of the unity and the harmony of the Bahais and of how they differ from the rest of the Persian communities, in that they are the cause of honor to the government and to the nation of Persia. On that day, explicit commands were revealed to the American and English friends teaching in India, which absolutely forbade them to interfere in political affairs or to speak a word in politics. They were commanded to occupy their time in spreading the spiritual fragrances and in elevating the Cause of the affectionate Lord.
It was mentioned in the presence of Abdul-Baha that Mr. Andrew Carnegie of America had given $2,000,000 for bringing about unity among the Christian sects. Abdul-Baha said: "His aim is good and a service to the world of humanity. O how I wish that all of the leaders of the people would spend their energy for unity and peace among all nations and sects!" At that moment, letters and newspapers arrived from the occident and Persia, bearing the glad-tidings of the harmony and purpose of the believers in teaching the Cause. Abdul-Baha became exceedingly happy and prayed for confirmation from the Kingdom of Abha and for the protection of the believers. He said: "They must step with steadfast feet into this field and must think of naught else save the unity of the people and the elevation of the Word of God."
On the next day, February 19th, Abdul-Baha told the friends of the days of his childhood. He said: "In Teheran I spoke with a scholarly gentleman and gave him the divine Message. I talked to him about severance from all else save God, and I told him that the purpose of this life is not to attain high position, wealth and physical happiness; nor are eating, sleeping and enjoying the fellowship of the physical body, the only things to be desired. The purpose and end of the world of creation is spiritual life, knowledge of God, love of God, fear of disobedience to God and the perfections of the world of humanity. Should man characterize himself with
these lofty qualities and virtues, the physical conditions will, undoubtedly, not seem interesting to him and he will detach himself from them. His heart will become illumined with the light of God; he will hear the call of the unseen joy and will become the center of the names and attributes of God. I conversed with him a great deal on these subjects and he became a very good believer.
"On another occasion, in the city of Bagdad, I talked with a learned man, Mullah Hassan, some of whose relatives were believers. No matter how hard they tried to give him the Message, he would not accept it. Once, they brought him to my house when I was just getting up from my sleep and combing my hair. They said, 'We have brought so-and-so here and we beg you to come and speak with him; perhaps, he will become a believer.' I said, 'Very well,' and then I turned to the Blessed Beauty and prayed: 'O Blessed Beauty, confirm me!' Afterwards, I talked to him, and in the same hour he became a believer. He became exceedingly good and was so enkindled that, although he was of high rank, he used to go into the kitchen and cook things with his own hand to entertain the friends."
That day news came of the spreading of the Cause and of the entrance into the Kingdom of some of the ministers in America. It made him very happy and he sent a number of tablets to America, saying: "My happiness is in these glad-tidings and victories. Praise be to God! the confirmations of the Kingdom of Abha are assisting. Although weary, weak and helpless, we are being assisted and supported by the bounties and confirmations of the Blessed Beauty. Who and what are we? These are the rays from the Sun of the Beauty of Abha and the light of the Supreme Horizon. How beautifully the poet says, 'The mosquito, to which thou givest power to fly, becomes a falcon.' Under the shadow of the Blessed Beauty, the atom becomes the sun; the ant becomes a Solomon; the unpopular become popular, and the degraded find eternal glory."
In the afternoon, Abdul-Baha was very tired from speaking and writing, and so he went to his private place in his garden to rest a little. On the way, he jokingly told a story of a man whose wife had caused him such trouble and had kept him so busy that, when he was told to divorce her so as to get relief, he answered, "She does not give me a chance to find time to give her a divorce."
In the morning of February 20th, Abdul-Baha took a stroll in his garden and remarked on the beautiful weather, on the site and on the spirituality of Haifa and of Mount Carmel. Then, looking at the violets, carnations and other flowers, he said: "As long as a thing is rare and scarce, it seems more attractive and has greater value. In Bagdad there were few violets in our home and they were indescribably dear and attractive to our sight. But here none look at these violets and they are lost among so many flowers. As the quantity of a thing increases, its value decreases. And so it is in the beginning of the days of the Holy Manifestations; because the souls are so few, they are counted as the essences of existence in the estimation of God. They are always mentioned and considered in the holy threshold and the sacred court and they attain to everlasting life and eternal bounty because they are detached from all conditions and have lost themselves entirely in the good pleasure of God." After a while, Abdul-Baha quoted the following verse: "We are from thee and we wish for naught else save thee. Give thou the sweets to those who have not tasted the ecstacy of love."
In the afternoon, some of the people took their children to see Abdul-Baha. He received them with utmost kindness and generosity and even took off his own embroidered Persian shawl and with his blessed hands put it on the head of a little girl. In the evening he talked
about the education of girls, saying: "In the past, they used to prevent girls from learning to read and write. In fact, these things were considered so sinful that should a woman know how to read or write she would not be desirable for marriage. But afterwards, through the influence of the teachings of the Blessed Beauty, the friends of God devoted most of their time to training their children. Now, they have established schools in Persia for teaching girls."
On the morning of February 21st, a number of Bahais, from Boshrowayh and Khorassan, Persia, and from Ishkabad, Russia, arrived in Haifa. Abdul-Baha spoke, in detail, about the steadfastness, sincerity and love of the believers, in those towns and countries. That afternoon a meeting and banquet were prepared, for all of the friends, at the tomb of the Bab. The men occupied one side of the holy threshold, the women the other. At the close of the meeting, Abdul-Baha, told the friends to enter, one by one, inside the holy threshold and, last of all, he came and chanted with his wonderful, melodious voice, the Tablet of Visitation. He and the friends supplicated and prayed for all of God's children and besought confirmations and heavenly bounty for them. When the prayers were over, Abdul-Baha gave permission for a photograph to be taken of himself sitting in front of the friends [See issue No. 1, Vol. V, STAR OF THE WEST], who were standing in a group. But, after consenting to this, he refused to remain seated, saying, "I prefer to stand as one of the friends and as one of the beloved of the Blessed Beauty." After the picture was taken, all were served with tea, fruit and sweetmeats.
On February 22nd, a group of tourists from England visited Abdul-Baha. He spoke to them about the teachings and of the history of the Cause and they left with their hearts exceedingly touched and attracted. Afterwards, while he was answering some important letters from the occident, a professor from Beirut College came to see him. Abdul-Baha spoke to him about the importance of preventing all prejudices and superstitions and of bringing about unity and harmony among the different religions and sects. He said: "Everyone must do away with false prejudices and must even go to the other churches and mosques, for, in all of these worshiping places, the name of God is mentioned. Since all gather to worship God, what difference does it make? None of these worship satan. The Mohammedans must go to the churches of the Christians and of the Jews and vice-versa, the others must go to the Mohammedan mosques. They hold aloof from one another merely because of unfounded prejudices and dogmas. In America, I went to the Jewish synagogues, which are similar to the Christian churches, and I saw them worshiping God everywhere. In most of these places I spoke to them about the original foundations of the divine religions and I explained to them the proofs of the validity of the divine prophets and of the holy Manifestations. I encouraged them to do away with blind imitations. All of the leaders must, likewise, go to the churches of one another and speak of the foundation and of the fundamental principles of the divine religions. In the utmost unity and harmony, they must worship God, in the worshiping places of one another and they must abandon these false fanaticisms. Man must be possessed of sincerity and love and must be in a state of peace and safety. When you mention God to me, I must be pleased with you. The mention of God is good, no matter by what tongue." Abdul-Baha afterwards spoke of the prejudices and superstitions of the Jewish leaders and remarked in detail about the bitter persecutions inflicted by another Christian sect upon
the Presbyterians in Paris, simply because of false prejudices.
(It is a fact that, in the oriental Christian Schools, all Mohammedans and followers of other religions, are compelled to attend the Christian chapels and churches. But the Christians do not go to the mosques or synagogues. In 1908, when the Turkish Empire was freed from the chains of absolute monarchy and the constitution was established by the Young Turks and the famous Society of Union and Progress, all of the students, who were not Christians, refused to attend any church by force. The college faculty, who were American Presbyterian missionaries, without making any exceptions, gave the students a choice of attending the church or of being expelled. The translator at that time, was just finishing his medical training in this university and this controversy was one of the causes for his leaving the orient and completing his studies in a Chicago university.)
(To be continued.)
The Sterling Faithfulncss of Esfandayar
Story told by Abdul-Baha: From Diary of Mirza Ahmad Sohrab, October 25, 1913
MY grandfather had many colored maids and servants. When the Blessed Perfection became the head of the family he liberated all of them, and gave them permission to leave or stay, but if they desired to remain it would, of course, be in a different manner. However, all of them, revelling in their newfound freedom preferred to leave, except Esfandayar, who remained in the household and continued to serve us with proverbial faithfulness and chastity. Then when Baha'o'llah became known as a Babi, and he was teaching many people, the populace rose against him, and with the tacit consent of the government, our house was pillaged and ransacked. My father was put into prison and we were persecuted on all sides. For days the rabble in their fanatical fury and rage threw stones into our house, broke the windows and damaged everything. At that time I was probably six or seven years old. Everybody had left us, and our family then consisted of my mother, my sister (the Greatest Holy Leaf) and Agha Mussa. Fearing that the stones thrown into the house might hit one of us, my mother set out and rented a small house in an entirely different quarter of the city, and for fear of recognition she carried us safely to our new, humble quarters by night.
On the other hand, the enemies of my father, who had poisoned the mind of the Shah by saying that he harbored secret plans against the throne, were convinced that Esfandayar was the guardian of all the secret plans of Baha'o'llah. Therefore, they imagined that if once they laid their hands on Esfandayar they would force out of him everything, and then be able to substantiate their vague accusations with these solid facts. Hence they commissioned one hundred and fifty policemen to find him and bring him before them. Esfandayar had a chum with whom he passed most of his time. At first they tried to get hold of his chum, thus he might divulge the hiding-place of Esfandayar, but they failed in their purpose.
One midnight we were roused out of our sleep by a loud knocking at the door. It was opened, and lo, and behold, it was Esfandayar. My mother said to him with anxiety: "How is it that thou art yet in the city? Dost thou not know that there are one hundred and fifty policemen after thee? Fly as quickly as thou canst. If they get hold of thee, thy life will be in danger." But he smiled and answered: "No, I will not leave
Teheran, even if an hundred or a thousand policemen are after me. I am not afraid. I have many debts in the bazaar. I owe money to many shopkeepers, and before I leave this city I must pay off all the debts. I do not want the people to say afterward that the negro servant of Baha'o'llah escaped without paying his debts." Then he left us, and for one month and a half he walked in broad daylight in the streets and bazaars, and finally succeeded in clearing off all his financial obligations. All this time the policemen were after him, but could not catch him. Then, one night he appeared again, and said: "I am now free. I have actually paid all my debts and will leave the city with a clear conscience." He went to Mazandaran, and the governor, who was not a Bahai, engaged him in his service, made him the chief of his equerry and protected him from the pursuit of his enemies. Years lapsed, and the governor, being a religious man, desired to make a pilgrimage to the holy city of Karbala. Naturally, he took with him Esfandayar, who by this time had grown so much in his favor that he could not bear to be separated from him. When they reached the city of Bagdad, Esfandayar was overjoyed to stand again in the presence of Baha'o'llah, because he loved him most intensely. He requested Baha'o'llah to keep him, saying that he would rather leave the governor and serve his old master. But Baha'o'llah said to him: "You must act in this matter in accord with the wish of the governor. You owe him a debt of deep gratitude, because at a time when your life was in danger, he gave you a position and stopped the persecution of your enemies. Now, if he is willing to have you remain with us, we will accept you; otherwise you must continue to serve him with the same zeal and sincerity that you have served us in the past."
Esfandayar went to the governor and explained his case. He answered: "It is impossible. I cannot find in this wide world another man as honest and faithful as thyself. Thou must continue to stay with me. I have grown to love thee and will do everything to add to thy comfort and happiness." Of course Esfandayar was heartbroken over this decision, but he had to abide by the decision of the Blessed Perfection. He in turn consoled him with his blessings showered upon him. Esfandayar returned to Mazandaran with the governor and stayed with him until his last day.
Such was the sterling faithfulness of Esfandayar that whenever I think of him, my eyes grow dim with tears. He was a king among men, a glorious star in the heaven of humanity. Although his face was black, his heart was white as the snow. He was peerless and had no equal. I cannot sufficiently praise him. I love him. He was a glory and a jewel on the crown of the colored race, for his life was a noble record of proud achievement, and the whole world may learn a lesson from it.
"My home is the home of laughter and exultation"
From Diary of Mirza Ahmad Sohrab, March 26, 1914
WHILE Abdul-Baha was dictating tablets this morning, an Arab was announced and after a few minutes another one came in. Abdul-Baha instantly saw that these grown-up children of nature were not friendly with each other and as a subtle master of human nature, he started immediately to establish conciliation between them. Each of them sat there inwardly growling at his enemy. At first Abdul-Baha spoke to them in such a manner as to make them laugh. They did not want to laugh, neither did they want to look at each other, but they could not help doing both. Then with his deep insight into their hearts he said:
"Are not men really children? The
life of men is but a few days; then death overtakes them. Is it not foolish to attach one's heart to the wordly love and hate? Why should we let envy and hatred separate us? The strange part of it is that they have no outward existence. Happiness is the king of our hearts. Let us not part from it. If the candle of happiness is ignited in the chamber of our heart, all the foreboding gloom of evil suggestions will be dispelled. My home is the home of peace. My home is the home of joy and delight. My home is the home of laughter and exultation. Whosoever enters through the portals of this home, must go out with gladsome heart. This is the home of light; whosoever enters here must become illumined. This is the home of knowledge: the one who enters it must receive knowledge. This is the home of love: those who come in must learn the lessons of love; thus may they know how to love each other. Whenever I see people exercise love and good-fellowship among themselves, my heart is exceedingly rejoiced. . . . God willing, you will always love one another. Praise be to God, that you are brothers in faith. You are the citizens of one country, the inhabitants of one town. The members of your families have known one another for years. Why then this feud? Why this ill-feeling? Why this mutual hatred?"
Then he related to them story after story, making them now laugh and now become serious. Finally when he observed the time had come, he got up from his seat and asked them to kiss one another and be true friends ever afterwards. "Is it not much better to be friends than enemies?" Abdul-Baha asked them. Then he went into another room and brought candy and two silk handkerchiefs for each one. "By this token you are plighted together forever."
"We are the slaves of Abbas Effendi. We will do thy holy bidding. It seems God directed our steps to your home this morning," they said. They left the house laughing and holding one another's hands.
The Power of the Holy Spirit
Words of Abdul-Baha: From Diary of Mirza Ahmad Sohrab, June, 1913.
IN Tiberias the missionaries have built a modern hospital and pharmacy. The doctor has been serving there for thirty-two years. At least every year one thousand Jews enter the hospital and go out healed, but none of them ever becomes a Christian. The doctor used to tell me: "I am at my wit's end in thinking out the reason of the success of the Bahais in the propagation of their teaching. Without any means at hand they succeed in making these Jews Bahais, but with all these hospitals and schools and charities we do not succeed. How is this?"
I replied: "Think for one moment of this singular fact. The Jews who became Christians in apostolic and post-apostolic times were not attracted to the Christian doctrine by hospitals, etc. On the contrary they were beaten, persecuted and killed. Notwithstanding these things they accepted Christianity. Why is this? Those early teachers possessed the heavenly power and with that power they were able to carry the gospel into distant lands. Now, in this day the Bahais are teaching people with the same divine power. They are baptized with the power of the Holy Spirit. They have forgotten the ego and are soaring toward the Kingdom of sanctity. The most efficient capital of the Bahai teacher is the divine power. With that alone he may conquer the cities of the hearts."