‘Abdul-Bahá Abbas, Persian Teacher, to Convert Denver
‘ABDU’L-BAHA ABBAS, PERSIAN PRIEST AND PROPHET OF THE BAHA’I RELIGION, AND HIS RETINUE.
(By FRANCES WAYNE.)
A Man of God has come to town.
With the arrival yesterday of ‘Abdul-Bahá Abbas, a quicker spirit of tolerance, of brotherly love, of sincerer charity, of all those virtues which lift man above the beast was given wing and must, before his departure, have its effect upon every man and woman who comes within the radius of this wise man of the East.
‘Abdul-Bahá entered the city without any of the glitter or pomp which is the attribute of nobility. He came, a simple, stooped old man, his heavy figure clothed in a white coat, his venerable head swathed in a turban, companioned by five devoted servants of the faith he preaches and by a reputation for sanctity and holiness which makes of the most hardened cynic a respectful spectator.
It was with a sense of levity that I received the assignment to call on the Bahá.
“Another of those Oriental teachers and prophets come to work on the emotions of women and long-haired men,” I thought. “Another of those cunning gentlemen of Persia who have deep wisdom concerning the spiritual strivings and material cupidities of this, our native land.”
In such fettle I approached the presence in his apartments at the Shirley. In a far corner of the room, leaning back in his chair as though oppressed by a great weariness, his white beard flowing over his breast, his brown hands, carrying one simple jeweled ring, folded, and his eyes sending a kindly greeting toward the door, sat the Bahá.
The women were there, too. Such women they were as one finds in all the forward movements by which the city is uplifted and advanced on its journey toward righteousness.
NOTHING SPECTACULAR IN THIS WISE MAN.
There was nothing theatrical, nothing spectacular in the scene. The atmosphere was vital with that brand of religion which can emanate only from one who is utterly pure in heart; who has found the truth by mining his way through great tribulation and whose life has been purged of all dross by the length and unselfishness of it.
The story of this man is rich in romance. Imprisoned for twenty years, exiled after that because he proclaimed the doctrine of brotherly love, equality of all men and the need of a recognition of the value of a spiritual life, his estate confiscated, he set out to give the message to the world at large.
That he travels with a retinue of men and servants shows that somewhere and somehow he has stored up goods against a rainy day. But the storing is done that he may give; give and again give.
This explanation is made by Dr. Ameen U. Fareed, the interpreter, who brings a flowing radiance and beauty to the Bahá’s sentiments expressed in Persian which can only be comprehended by hearing.
“Why was that man imprisoned?” I asked Dr. Fareed.
“Why was Christ crucified?” he answered quickly. “The truth always has to fight its way through blood and human suffering, and the truth that the Bahá has to deliver is no exception.”
‘Abdul-Bahá is, first of all, a constructionist. He believes that the time of building is at hand and to this end war among the nations must cease. Looking upon his audience of visitors this morning he said, speaking through his interpreter.
“This is the Lord’s supper. Material food is of little importance. It is knowledge, comprehension, good deeds, knowledge of God, the virtues of the human word, the perfection of the kingdom — this kind of food is acceptable. Whenever you desire to give a reception for me prepare such a table. Such food of companionship gives enrichment to the spirit; makes men more heavenly and suffers the world of humanity to become illumined.”
That America shines in the vision of the Bahá as a great Hope, but that it must wake to its shortcomings if its destiny is to be great, was indicated in this statement:
BLESSINGS OF GOD ARE UPON AMERICAN PEOPLE.
“The country of America is a good country. From every standpoint material happiness has been prepared for the people. Vast and spacious in this continent and it is overflowing with the blessings of God. In this continent you find all blessings and freedom discovers its highest fruitage. It should be a continent of happiness and comfort, but it is in need, however, of influences of divine civilization. It needs the sun of reality. It is in need of spiritual culture, education, in need of the virtues of the ideal, in need of the effulgences of the kingdom of God that its people may become reinforced to institute universal peace and become enabled to serve the world and humanity.
“America must wake up so this people may cause the spiritual progress of the world, its lights may shine, hearts become illumined and virtue revealed.”
The Bahá talks with a strong voice, sitting moveless as he speaks and waits for Dr. Fareed to pass on his message.
Remembering that David Starr Jordan, in his “Unseen Empire,” had asserted that peace would only be possible when the “pawn-brokers of the world agreed upon it.” I asked the Bahá what part women must play in bringing about universal peace, and to this he answered without pause:
“If equal education is given to women, if they are trained according to the highest standards — that is if they are given the education of men and made equal in all human rights, even suffrage, then they will be enabled to serve international peace extraordinarily.
“These young men who go to war [text missing] trained by women during their ea [text missing] years. For at least twenty years won [text missing] have the molding of men and go through many vicissitudes that they may educ [text missing] them. Undoubtedly women will come so [text missing] to the point where they will not suff [text missing] their children to go into the battlefield and be torn to pieces that the end of politicians and money changers may be served. For the son is well beloved to his mother, and she will not give her consent. Therefore when women receive the rights to vote in all provinces they will strive so that warfare may be taken away from the world.”
GOSPEL OF BROTHERLY LOVE HIS TEACHINGS.
The Bahá’í movement, of which ‘Abdu’l-Bahá is the apostle, does not aim to [text missing] place any of the accepted faiths by which [text missing] mankind is striving to climb to redemption and happiness. It points out the big fundamental spiritual truths and the way to come at them and live by them.
Certainly Denver has not in the pa [text missing] been honored by the presence of a Go [text missing] lier man that this simple hearted Persia [text missing] whose only weapon, whose only cha [text missing] is the Word. This he gives unto h [text missing] hearers in that ornate courteous for [text missing] that is like rich embroidery. Last night [text missing] the Bahá held a reception at the home of Mrs. Sidney Roberts, in Sherman street. Tonight at the Divine Science church at West Thirty-eighth and Perry street he will give an address and tomorrow night arrangements have been made for a meeting at the Shirley hotel to which the public is invited.
“If you have a word or an essence which a brother has not, offer it with the tongue of love and kindness. If it is accepted the end is attained. If not with regard to him, deal not harshly, but pray.”
The above is one of those delicate sentiments offered by the Bahá in parting and which it might be well for every man and woman in this city of man strifes to cut out and paste in their ha [text missing] or on their mirrors.
[picture caption: Members of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá Abbas’ retinue. Left to right — H.S. Fugeta, Japanese attendant; Dr. Ameen U. Fareed, chief interpreter; Mirza Hahmood Zarghani, secretary, and Mirza Ahmad Soharb, [interpreter.]
[picture caption: A Near View of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá Abbas.]
[picture caption: Mirza Ali Akbar, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Companion.]