April 18, 2016

His great power in imparting happiness to all

During my stay in Paris, [in 1911] having been permitted to live in the same apartment with Him [‘Abdu’l-Baha], I daily witnessed the marvelous power of His love and active interest in all those who are concerned in the uplifting of the human race. His great power in imparting happiness to all those who are depressed or are passing through a period of trials and tests, cannot be measured by human criterion. This one power alone distinguishes Him above all men, for, notwithstanding the complexity of problems that He must solve daily and the thousand and one details that He must attend to for them, yet he is always beaming and imparting happiness to all those who come in touch with Him. 

- Mirza Ahmad Sohrab  (Star of the West, vol. 2, no. 16. December 31, 1911)

March 16, 2016

How is one impressed by meeting ‘Abdu'l-Baha? – by Arthur Cuthbert *, London, 25 September, 1911

To see, hear, or meet Him can never, it seems to me, be a shock, a startling surprise, or an overwhelming impression. It is a perfectly natural and simple experience, and may even, at first seem rather disappointing; but ‘Abdu'l-Baha will ever grow upon yon, even if the meeting is only once. Gradually, you will realize, more and more, what it is you have been in the presence of and made contact with. Not a personality, nor a dazzling individual, but so wonderful a state of perfect detachment and consecration have you encountered that it seems as if you are being lovingly addressed by the Holy Spirit Itself. It is a great lesson to us of a man's perfect attainment. We see before our eyes the attitude towards God each one of its ought to assume, so that each one in his place may be fully enabled to love all mankind abundantly, and act with the greatest wisdom, always shedding round him joy and happiness.

Coming into ‘Abdu'l-Baha's presence, we may forget everything, cease to believe anything, and may say He is but an Oriental man after all. We may question whether we are even a believer. We may desire to revise everything, that we may have only the truth and nothing but the truth. Then, Lo and behold. Truth stands out boldly! We still believe, but this belief which formerly floated high upon the surface of the sea - where it was rocked and tossed by every wind - now floats more deeply, being well ballasted, so that outer things henceforth can little affect it.

February 10, 2016

The household of ‘Abdu’l-Baha in Akka – described by American pilgrim Mary Lucas

Monday afternoon, Ruha and Munavar Khanum (two of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s daughters) came to my room and told me the ladies of the household would call upon me after sunset. So the Greatest Holy Leaf (the Master’s sister) and the Holy Mother (the Master’s wife), Ruha and Munavar Khanum, came to my room. I gave them presents sent from America, and delivered to Ruha Khanum many supplications for the Master, from Americans.

Monday night I spent with the ladies in the large sitting room. They asked me to sing for them, and I sang many things. They requested the hymn, “Nearer, My God, to Thee.” While I was in Egypt I learned from one of the Persian believers a Tablet in Arabic, and also learned to chant it. The members of the household were much pleased when I chanted it for them. This was Monday night, Jan. 30, 1905, my second and last night, I thought, in this sacred and spiritual atmosphere — as the Master had said I could come for two nights.

During my stay the Master was never present in the evening after dinner.

January 6, 2016

An American Christian visited the Master in Akka, May 1910

As he talked with me I felt my heart soften under the influence of his goodness and kindness, and the tears came to my eyes. He asked me about myself, if I were well and if I were happy. I replied to the latter question: "I have had many sorrows." "Forget them!" he answered. "When your heart is filled with the love of God there will be no room for sorrow. There will only be love and happiness." I cannot tell you the sweet sympathy of his voice as he said these beautiful and comforting words.

Then he had the attendant bring in tea, a cup for him and a cup for me. We drank together, wishing each other health and happiness, and then he told me that he hoped he should take tea with me in the Kingdom of Heaven!
(Extract from a letter written by a Mrs. Crockett, May, 1910 to Miss Frances Johnson, Pearl City, Hawaii; Star of the West, vol. 1, no. 9, August 20, 1910)

October 13, 2015

How the Master met a Western pilgrim for the first time

When luncheon was announced, Miss… came for me, and we walked across the courtyard to the small dining room where the Master was standing, waiting for us to appear. Shall I ever forget how he came and took me by the hand! It was not in the ordinary way in which one is greeted when meeting a stranger for the first time, but as though my host were continuing a friendship which had always existed. He took me by the hand, turned his back to me, and led me to my seat at the table, and not one word was spoken. The Master’s two youngest daughters were also at the table, together with Miss… and the man with the red fez, who met me at the gate.

The Master asked about my trip from Port Said, and I told him of the difficult landing the night before in the small boat, but that I had no fear because I knew I was coming to my Lord. He smiled and said, “Yes,” and told me a story of Baha’u’llah, how one man walked for days to see him, suffering hardship and fatigue. The Master said those who love feel no fear or fatigue.
- Mary L Lucas  (‘A Brief Account of My Visit to Acca’, Published by the Baha’i Publishing Society, September 1905)

July 12, 2015

Haifa 1911: “The meekness of the servant, the majesty of the king” – by Louis Gregory

When ... I saw him ['Abdu'l-Baha] for the first time he was about sixty-seven years of age, about the medium height, with a strong frame and symmetrical features. His face was deeply furrowed and his complexion about the shade of parchment. His carriage was erect and his form strikingly majestic and beautiful. His hands and nails were shapely and pure. His silver hair touched his shoulders. His beard was snow white, with eyes light blue and penetrating, his nose somewhat aquiline. His voice was powerful, but capable of infinite pathos, tenderness and sympathy. His dress was that of the Oriental gentleman of rank, simple and neat, yet very graceful. The color of his apparel was light, the outer robe being made of alpaca. On his head rested a light fez surrounded by a white turban. The meekness of the servant, the majesty of the king, were in that brow and form· 
- Louis Gregory  (From his pilgrimage in 1911; ‘To Move the World’, by Gayle Morrison)

March 8, 2015

Akka 1905: The Master’s household

The household consists of the Master, the Greatest Holy Leaf, the Holy Mother, two married daughters, their husbands and children, Rooha and Monever Khanom (the Master’s two youngest daughters), besides some little children who are orphans and have no one to take care of them, and women who are widows, their husbands having suffered martyrdom in the Path of God. These serve in some capacity in the household, and the sentiment of love and equality in every member of this home is a living example for the world. Everything is done in the spirit of love.

These women whose husbands have been martyred who are now living under the Master’s roof, are very happy, as their beaming faces testify, for all their sorrow is forgotten in the Presence of this Great One. Through Him they are learning the reality of life. 
- Mary Lucas  (Observations during her pilgrimage in 1905; ‘A Brief Account of My Visit to Acca’, by Mary Lucas)

February 8, 2015

New York 1912 - John Bosch: “when I saw Him I suddenly felt quite empty”

When the news came that 'Abdu'lBaha was on the way to America, John Bosch had such an overwhelming desire to see Him he started for New York on April 12, 1912. At Chicago, hearing that 'Abdu'l-Baha was in Washington, he went there instead, only to find that 'Abdu'l-Baha had not yet left New York. So he hurried on to that city, arriving very early on a cold and snowy morning. As soon as he had secured his room in the Hotel Ansonia he stole to 'Abdu'l-Baha's suite and was admitted almost immediately. Relating his experience to a friend, he said:

When I entered the room I had a pocketful of questions to ask 'Abdu'l-Baha, but when I saw Him I suddenly felt quite empty. I never took the questions out. Eventually 'Abdu'l-Baha told me all that I had wanted to ask Him. Foolishly I remarked that I had come three thousand miles to see Him, and He smilingly replied, "I came seven thousand miles to see you." I told Him that I, being a foreigner, had not the capacity of a speaker and that my work so far had been to circulate books and a few pamphlets. 'Abdu'l-Baha said: "You are doing very well; you are doing better than talking. With you it is not words or the movement of the lips; with you it is the heart that speaks. In your presence silence speaks and radiates." Then tea was brought in and after we had both partaken of it 'Abdu'l-Baha said: "You are now one of the family. You may come and go as you please." 
- (Adapted from ‘In Memoriam’ section of The Baha’i World 1946-1950: ‘John David Bosch’, by Charlotte M. Linfoot)

January 17, 2015

London: “His love had kindled love”

A profound impression remained in the minds and memories of all sorts and conditions of men and women.... Very greatly was ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s sojourn in London appreciated; very greatly His departure regretted. He left behind Him many, many friends. His love had kindled love. His heart had opened to the West, and the Western heart had closed around this patriarchal presence from the East. His words had in them something that appealed not only to their immediate hearers, but to men and women generally. 
- Lady Blomfield  (Quoted by Shoghi Effendi in ‘God Passes By’)

December 28, 2014

Akka-Haifa: The “kind father of all people”

All the people know him and love him - the rich and the poor, the young and the old - even the babe leaping in its mother's arms. If he hears of anyone sick in the city -Moslem or Christian, or of any other sect, it matters not - he is each day at their bedside, or sends a trusty messenger. If a physician is needed, and the patient poor, he brings or sends one, and also the necessary medicine. If he finds a leaking roof or a broken window menacing health, he summons a workman, and waits himself to see the breach repaired. If anyone is in trouble, - if a son or a brother is thrown into prison, or he is threatened at law, or falls into any difficulty too heavy for him, - it is to the Master that he straightway makes appeal for counselor for aid. Indeed, for counsel all come to him, rich as well as poor. He is the kind father of all the people. 
- Myron H. Phelps  (‘Life and Teachings of Abbas Effendi’) 

December 7, 2014

Haifa 1921: “So gentle was he, and so simple, that in his presence one almost forgot that he was also a great teacher”

Most of us here have, I think, a clear picture of Sir' Abdu'lBaha Abbas, of his dignified figure walking thoughtfully in our streets, of his courteous and gracious manner, of his kindness, of his love for little children and flowers, of his generosity and care for the poor and suffering. So gentle was he, and so simple, that in his presence one almost forgot that he was also a great teacher, and that his writings and conversations have been a solace and an inspiration to hundreds and thousands of people in the East and in the West. 
- The Governor of Phoenicia (Haifa), 1921  (Quoted by Shoghi Effendi in ‘God Passes By’) 

November 9, 2014

Akka: The most wonderful Being

...Those three days were the most memorable days of my life... The Master I will not attempt to describe: I will only state that I believe with all my heart that He is the Master, and my greatest blessing in this world is that I have been privileged to be in His presence, and look upon His sanctified face... Without a doubt Abbás Effendi is the Messiah of this day and generation, and we need not look for another… I must say, He is the most wonderful Being I have ever met or ever expect to meet in this world... The spiritual atmosphere which surrounds Him and most powerfully affects all those who are blest by being near Him, is indescribable... I believe in Him with all my heart and soul, and I hope all who call themselves believers will concede to Him all the greatness, all the glory, and all the praise, for surely He is the Son of God—and ‘the spirit of the Father abideth in Him.’  
- Mrs. Phoebe Hearst  (Wife of Senator Hearst, and mother of William Randolph Hearst, while on pilgrimage; quoted by Shoghi Effendi in ‘God Passes By’)

September 7, 2014

Haifa 1919: Evening devotional meetings with the Master

Each evening, shortly after sunset, the friends of the East and the West around Mount Carmel gathered in the Master's salon. The Master spoke a few words of greeting, and one or two of the Persians with heavenly melody chanted the prayers and tablets of Baha'u'llah. The Master sat silent as though lost in prayer, while the waves of peace flowed from him seeming to fill the room. Then he gave a short address upon the early days of the Cause, or about the Divine Principles of Baha'u'llah and the meeting ended. We arose refreshed as though bathed in a river of light... 
- Harry Randalld  (During his pilgrimage in November 1919; ‘William Henry Randall, a Disciple of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’, by Bahiyyih Randall-Winckler)

June 8, 2014

Akka 1905: 'Abdu'l-Baha's absolute naturalness -- an utter absence of any desire or effort to impress one with his greatness

Every morning it is the custom of the household to meet in the large sitting room, where tea is served, and the little children of the family come and chant for the Master while he drinks his tea. At this first meeting, at seven o'clock in the morning, how inexpressibly I was impressed by the absolute poise of the Master; his absolute naturalness; absolute freedom. There was an utter absence of any desire or effort to impress one with his greatness, which is majestic in its simplicity. 
- Mary Lucas  (‘A Brief Account of my visit to Akka’, 1905)

January 11, 2014

Akka 1891: British orientalist E.G. Browne meets ‘Abdu’l-Baha for the first time

Seldom have I seen one whose appearance impressed me more. A tall strongly-built man holding himself straight as an arrow, with white turban and raiment, long black locks reaching almost to the shoulder, broad powerful forehead indicating a strong intellect combined with an unswerving will, eyes keen as a hawk's, and strongly-marked but pleasing features -- such was my first impression of 'Abbas Efendi, 'the master' (Aka) [Aqa] as he par excellence is called by the Bábís. Subsequent conversation with him served only to heighten the respect with which his appearance had from the first inspired me. One more eloquent of speech, more ready of argument, more apt of illustration, more intimately acquainted with the sacred books of the Jews, the Christians, and the Muhammadans, could, I should think, scarcely be found even amongst the eloquent, ready, and subtle race to which he belongs. These qualities, combined with a bearing at once majestic and genial, made me cease to wonder at the influence and esteem which he enjoyed even beyond the circle of his father's followers. About the greatness of this man and his power no one who had seen him could entertain a doubt. 
- E.G. Browne  (Quoted by Hand of the Cause Balyuzi in ‘E.G. Browne and the Baha’i Faith’) 

October 12, 2013

Akka 1905: Tenderness and attention shown by ‘Abdu’l-Baha towards little children

It is beautiful to see the Master with the little children and observe his consideration for their childish troubles. One morning his tiny grand-daughter, about two years old, was talking to the Master in the most serious way, telling him with expressive gesticulations her difficulty. Something had gone crosswise with her. The Master without a smile listened most attentively. This was a great lesson. When we consider what the Master has to bear — a man of ordinary strength could not endure it one hour — yet when a little child comes and confides in him her trouble, how tender, how loving he is! How forgetful of self!

Shall I ever forget the heavenly smile and love expressed in that beautiful face when this tiny maiden was chanting for him a Tablet! Every now and then she would forget a word, and he would gently chant it for her, while he drank his tea, seated in the corner of the divan. How the little children love him!
- Mary L. Lucas  (‘A Brief Account of My Visit to Acca’, published by Chicago Baha'i Publishing Society in 1905)

March 12, 2013

Akka 1910: An American Christian, Mrs. Crockett, visited ‘Abdu’l-Baha

I must tell you a little about Palestine and about one experience in particular. A visit to Palestine does certainly make the Bible seem like a new book and brings home to one's heart the reality of Christ's life and teachings. 

I felt this particularly at Nazareth, the home of His boyhood, and at the Sea of Galilee, which is so associated with His ministry. We had a lovely early morning row on the peaceful lake, and the memories of Christ that came to us seemed to make His presence very real. 

Now, I know you will be eager to hear of my interview with the one in Palestine whose teachings mean so much to you, the Prophet, or Abbas Effendi, as he is generally called. 

I found that he is not now kept a prisoner at Acca, but since the order of constitutional government in Turkey he is free to live in his home at Haifa (nearby) and go and come as he will. 

I planned my trip so that I could stop and see him, for I remember when you gave me some of the literature to read you said: "If you go to Egypt, Palestine is not far away and you will surely want to see him." So I planned for the interview with him when the others of the party went to Acca for a drive. (Perhaps you know that Haifa is a pretty little town right at the foot of Mt. Carmel.)

January 1, 2013

Haifa 1898: Experiencing the healing power of ‘Abdu’l-Baha – by May Maxwell

That evening He [‘Abdu’l-Baha] invited us all to meet Him on Sunday morning under the cedar trees on Mount Carmel where He had been in the habit of sitting with Baha’u’llah. We were all most happy in this hope, and great was my disappointment next morning when I found myself quite ill. As soon as the Master arrived for breakfast He came directly to my room and walking over to my bedside took both my hands in His, passed His hand over my brow, and gazed upon me with such gentleness and mercy that I forgot everything but the love and goodness of God, and my whole soul was healed and comforted. I looked up into His face and said: 'I am well now, Mawláná.’[Lord, Master] But He smiled and shook His head and bade me remain there quietly, until He should return at noon. Although I had been suffering during the night, all pain and distress were gone, and I slept quietly.

That night we were sitting together with some members of the Master's family; the room was dimly lighted by candles which cast strange shadows on the walls and low ceiling; the latticed windows opened on to the narrow street flooded with moonlight, and as we sat thus in silence waiting for our Master we heard His voice in the hall, and all arose to greet Him as He appeared on the threshold, and the light of His beautiful countenance was shed upon us.

December 19, 2012

Horace Holley: “In ‘Abdu’l-Baha I felt the awful presence of Baha’u’llah …I realized that I had thus drawn as near as man now may to pure spirit and pure being…”

It was while Horace and his wife were living in Siena, Italy, in 1911, that he heard of the arrival of ‘Abdu’l-Baha and his party in Thonon-les-Bains, France, As they had been hoping to make the pilgrimage to the Holy Land in order to meet the Master they lost no time in seizing this golden opportunity to attain His presence and left immediately for the small watering place on Lake Geneva, where they arrived on the afternoon of August 29th. Horace, in his account of this meeting with ‘Abdu’l-Baha, wrote that he had felt that if he could only look upon the Master from a distance, this would satisfy his pilgrim’s heart. He then goes on to describe what this privilege of spending a few days near ‘Abdu’l-Baha meant to him:

“I saw among them a stately old man, robed in a cream-coloured gown, his white hair and beard shining in the sun. He displayed a beauty of stature, an inevitable harmony of attitude and dress I had never seen nor thought of in men. Without having ever visualized the Master, I knew that this was He. My whole body underwent a shock. My heart leaped, my knees weakened, a thrill of acute, receptive feeling flowed from head to foot. I seemed to have turned into some most sensitive sense-organ, as if eyes and ears were not enough for this sublime impression. In every part of me I stood aware of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s presence. From sheer happiness I wanted to cry -- it seemed the most suitable form of self-expression at my command. While my own personality was flowing away, a new being, not my own assumed its place. A glory, as it were from the summits of human nature poured into me, and I was conscious of a most intense impulse to admire. In ‘Abdu’l-Baha I felt the awful presence of Baha’u’llah, and, as my thoughts returned to activity, I realized that I had thus drawn as near as man now may to pure spirit and pure being... I yielded to a feeling of reverence which contained more than the solution of intellectual or moral problems. To look upon so wonderful a human being, to respond utterly to the charm of His presence -- this brought me continual happiness. I had no fear that its effects would pass away and leave me unchanged. I was content to remain in the background...

December 7, 2012

America: An example of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s sense of humor

'Abdu'l-Baha spoke at length to the press representatives [in America], answering all their questions about peace, war, the rights of women, freedom of the press, education, true liberty and true religion.

'Abdu'l-Baha displayed wisdom, love and a sense of humour as He chatted with the press reporters in His stateroom. He recalled an incident from the previous winter when a young Christian was about to set off on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. The pilgrim was worried, feeling that he did not have the right spirit and sense of reverence.

“The proper spirit in which to visit places hallowed by remembrances of Christ,” 'Abdu'l-Baha told His young visitor, “is one of constant communion with God. Love for God will be the telegraph wire, one end of which is in the Kingdom of the Spirit, and the other in your heart.”

‘I am afraid my telegraph wire is broken,' the would-be pilgrim complained.’

“Then,” said 'Abdu'l-Baha, laughing heartily, “I told him: ‘You will have to use wireless telegraphy.’” 
- William Sears  (‘The Flame, the Story of Lua’, by William Sears & Robert Quigley)