Bahai News - A MESSAGE FROM ABDUL BAHA, HEAD OF THE BAHAIS
[*Note some parts of original illegible]
A MESSAGE FROM ABDUL BAHA, HEAD OF THE BAHAIS
The Time Has Come, He Says, for Humanity to Hoist the Standard of the Oneness
of the Human World, So That Dogmatic Formulas and Superstitions May End.
The New York Times, Sunday, April 21, 1912 -- Within the last
week there has come to New York an old man, with a worn and beautiful face,
who wears a long, brown gown and a white turban, and speaks the
strange-sounding guttural language of Persia. On the pier his welcomed by
hundreds of people, for he is Abdul Baha, or "The Servant of God," the head
of the Bahaist movement, and he is known to tens of thousands of followers
all over the world as the "Master."
For forty years he has been in prison, and his father, the former head of the
Bahaists, died in prison. Their offense was indeed great, for they taught a
doctrine against which no autocratic power could stand. They preached the
love of God and the brotherhood of man and for this the Persian Government
exiled and the Turkish Government imprisoned them.
Four years ago, in July, 1908, the young Turks came into the control of the
Government and a constitution was given to the country. Then the prison doors
opened for Abdul Baha and he found himself free. He had gone into the prison
a boy; he left it an old man.
He had not complained and indeed for some years it had been made easy for him
by the affection of his jailer and the gradual perception, by the Government,
of the fact that a man who teaches the common brotherhood of all humanity may
not be personally violent: but none the less he rejoiced in his freedom. With
the passing of the years his followers had grown rapidly and he had a wish to
see them, especially those who lived in foreign countries.
Although he was old and had not for more than forty years gone beyond the
city of Acre, in Syria, he was attracted by the thought of seeing the big
world. The Bahai believe above all things in education and broadening the
mind by contact with all nations and races, so it was eminently consistent
for Abdul Baha to go first to London and then to come to America to see many
disciples in this country.
The Bahai movement is not yet seventy years old and has grown amasingly. It
has suffered persecutions which may be equaled but hardly be surpassed by the
martyrdoms of the early Christians.
A young Persian, who call himself the Bab or the "Gate," arose in 1844 and
began to preach a doctrine of spirituality. He rated the Mohammedan
harisees, and declared that the truth of religion had been so encumbered with
ceremonies and xxxx the name of Baha Ullah, (Glory of God,) and in the early
'60s be revived the persecuted faith and gathered together its scattered
followers. The movement, which had seemed to be on the verge of collapse,
suddently became more vigorous than ever.
His property was promptly confiscated, and he was exiled. To be rid of his
wealth was a satisfaction to Baha Ullah -- "Praise be to God," he cried, "I
am now free" -- but the exile entailed great hardships.
He went with his family to Bagdad, where he taught what seemed to the mind
of the Government pernicious doctrines. "The army of the Bahai dispensation,"
he said "is the love of God; its victory is the estacy of the knowledge of
God; its battle is that of truth; its warfare is against selfishness; its
patience is its reserve; its entire meekness is its conquering power and its
love for all is a glory for ever more." It was too much for any autocracy. He
was summoned to Constantinople and then sent to prison at Acre.
In his prison Baha Ullah wrote a book of laws which govern his followers and
he simplified the teachings of the Bab and made the movement universal rather
than Persian and Mohammedan. Despite his sufferings, which were great at the
beginning of his confinement, he accomplished a vast deal of work and later
on when his jailer had learned to love and trust him he received freinds from
time to time and was able to spread his teaching in that manner.
In 1892 he died and his son, Abbas Effendi now known as Abdul Baha the Servant
of God, took his place as leader. There is no tradition that the leadership
should pass from father to son; there is indeed no priesthood among Bahais.
It was the spirituality of Abdul Baha which made him the person best suited
to interpret the movement to the world.
Like his father he teaches that the love of God and man are the only things
that count. To be a Bahai one does not have to give up the religion in which
one has been born. A Christian remains a Christian, a Mohammedan remains a
Mohammedan, a Buddhist is still a Buddhist. Only they emphasize not the
doctrines of their faiths but the spirit. And they are all brothers to one
To do away with prejudices--this is the lesson Abdul Baha preaches. Prejudices
of nationality, or race, of religion--all these are hindrances to the love of
God and of man, and we must forget them. Up to the present perhaps as many
as 50,000 persons have died for this belief.
Then he began to speak to abort sentences, without waiting for replies. The
interpreter translated them in perfect English.
"Praise be to God, the women of America are progressing. This is as
it should be. Every day they are making more and more progress. I hope
that they will be the peers of men. They should progress equality with men.
n the kingdom of animals there is male and female, but they are equals. In
the vegetable kingdom also there is male and female, but one is the equal of
the other. So should it be with mankind. In idealism women are the
superiors of men in kindness and in gentleness, but they are now their
inferiors in intellectually. This should not be. Women should progress
intellectually untill they stand side by side with men. The women of
America are progressing toward this, and they will attain it, for it is just.
Women shall indeed be the equals and the companions of men."
The words delivered in this fashion, in short epigrams, took one miles and
miles away from New York. Outside the window was Broadway; under the building
the subway; downstairs was all the paraphernalla of a big hotel, but all
these things were far less real than the picture the old teacher called up.
The only things that seemed near were the mountains of Carmel, so near the
Village of Nasareth, and the fields where the lillies grow more beatiful than
Solomon in his glory.
The strangeness of it all, the manner of speaking, the curious language, the
unfamiliar dress might well have made the listener awkward and ill at ease;
but one does not feel awkward with Abdul Baha. The reporter had wondered just
how to address him, but that seemed a foolish matter now. It really made no
difference what you did or what you said, this kind old teacher would know
that you meant well.
When he had spoken his words in the cause of women Abdul Baha paused and
inquired graciously if the visitor wished to ask a question.
"Ask him," ventured the reporter, "for a message to Americans. Tell him that
a great newspaper sent me, and that many thousands will read what he says."
When this was translated to him the Teacher's face lighted up with the
charming smile. He was evidently pleased and interested that a big newspaper
should have sent a woman--so, at least, the smile seemed to signify.
With some gestures and with his bright eyes now on his interpreter and now
on his visitor, he began again to speak in short sentences.
"Praise to be God, the dark ages have passed. A new age of great brilliancy
has been ushered in. The minds of men have developed. Man has made discoveries
in the mysteries of nature. The great capabilities of the human world have
become manifest. The susceptibilities of the heart have became more acute. The
time has arrived for the world of humanity to hoist the standard of the xxxx"
"It is the bond which can unite all the human race. It is the attainment
of the benefits of the most great peace; it is the discarding of warfare. It
is progressiveness; it is the undertaking of colossal tasks in life; it is
the oneness of public opinion. Therefore strive oh ye people and put forth
your efforts that this reality may overcome the lesser forces in life, xxxx
this king of reality may alone rule all of humanity xxxx"
©Copyright 1912, New York Times
Page last updated/revised 052101
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