Eastern Sage Coming to City with New Message
Bahá’í Movement Seeks to Bind All Religionists Into One Brotherhood.
‘ABDU’L-BAHA LEADER OF TWO MILLION ADHERENTS
Designed to Make All Disputes, Personal and National, to Disappear.
Montreal is to be honored in the near future by [text missing] from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, a power in the Orient and head of one of the world’s most remarkable religious movements.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá is a Persian, seventy he is also called, is coming to America in the month of March and will make a tour of the continent, addressing the Lake Mohonk Peace Conference and many other public gatherings. The exact date of his visit to Montreal has not yet been fixed, but it is well known that he looks forward with pleasure to meeting the Canadian people, several of whom he has welcomed at his home in the East.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá is a Persian, seventy years of age, and the adherents of the Bahá’í movements of which he is the leader number two millions in the Orient. There are many Bahá’ís in the United States and Canada, and Montreal has not a few of them.
Simple, yet lofty, in its teaching completely free from all exclusiveness, the Bahá’í faith is universal in its appeal, and has adherents in practically every country in the world. It is, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá declares, not a new religion but a movement for the unity of people of all races and creeds. It has no clergy, no ritual and no fixed places and times of meeting. It does not seek to gather converts into its fold and one can be a Bahá’í and still remain a Christian of any denomination, a Mohammedan, a Jew or a Buddhist.
“Love,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá declares, “is the beginning and end of all. Before the presence of love all disputes, whether national, religious or personal, will disappear like the night before the sun. God has revealed His light many times in order to bring man to this true religion.”
Origin of the Movement.
The Bahá’í movement originated in Persia. It has been established through the fires of persecution and its martyrs are to be numbered by the thousand. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá is the third of three great figures in the Bahá’í world. His predecessors were Seyyed Ali Mohammed, who is called “The Báb,” and Bahá oullah, father of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.
The Báb appeared in Persia in 1841 and announced the dawn of a new age. He stated that he was the precursor of a great teacher and world educator who would establish a universal religion, universal peace, universal brotherhood. The message of the Báb, which was one of progress and enlightenment in the Persia of his day, spread rapidly in that country and aroused the opposition of the Mohammedan clergy, to the extent that in 1850 the Báb was shot by order of the Shah by 600 soldiers. Prof. Edward Granville Browne of Cambridge University, England, and Prof. Gorman of Princeton University, New York, have given interesting historical accounts of these events.
In 1863 Bahá ‘Oullah arose among the followers of the Báb and declared himself to be the promised one of whom the Báb had foretold. He was of royal descent and possessed great wealth, but after his declaration all his property was confiscated and he was exiled and imprisoned. He devoted his life to the development of the highest human virtues, to the moral training and spiritual education of his people, and although he spent his life, from 1863 to 1892 in prison and exile, his influence penetrated to the heart of Persia and wrought a widespread reform. His cause also spread to Turkey, Egypt, India and other Oriental countries and in Persia 30,000 of his followers were martyred for their faith. In 1868 Bahá ‘Oullah sent letters or announcements to all the sovereigns of the world inviting them to be partakers in this age of enlightenment to abolish war, to establish peace, to remove racial and religious differences and unite in universal love and brotherhood and to devote their sovereign power to the welfare and happiness of their people. Bahá ‘Oullah also wrote a number of books which have been translated into English, French, German, Italian and several Oriental languages.
Son Follows Father’s Steps.
After the death of Bahá’u’lláh at Acca, Syria, in 1892, his son ‘Abdul, known to the people in general as Abbas Effendi, became vested with the same power and authority as his father, and through him the cause was spread in the Western world. During his lifelong imprisonment in Acca, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá received thousands of visitors from all parts of the world who carried away with them the impression of a man of great power — the power that comes from a life of service and sacrifice devoted to the love of God and of humanity, a man of wide learning, familiar with the fundamental truths of those great religions which have moved and guided mankind through the ages, familiar also with the conditions and needs of the age in which we live.
Three years ago under the change of the Turkish Government ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was set free, and in 1910 he spent the winter in Egypt. Last autumn he visited London and Paris. He was received in both cities with the utmost respect and thousands of people in the City Temple and in Archdeacon Wilberforce’s Church, St. John’s, Westminster, listened to his brief and powerful address. In Paris he addressed a great gathering in the Church of Pastor Charles Wagner, the author of “The Simple Life.” He also spoke to many societies both in Paris and London.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá is an admirer of the English-speaking people, and he has been much impressed by the freedom we enjoy. While in London, he said: “I admire the liberty you have in England and the use you make of it. Every person in this country can go his own way, and say what he thinks without anyone making him afraid; in fact, he is king of himself.”
For Peace Among the Nations.
According to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the special contribution of the Bahá’í faith to world religion is the proclamation of the unity of mankind, and consequently, peace between all nations, and also the renewing of the teaching of the prophets whom God has sent to the world, and its presentation in a form suitable to our time.
“The cause of unity is the cause of life itself, it is divine,” says Abbas Effendi, “That which leads to division or hatred is Satanic. Religion should create unity. The prophets do not come to bring about distrust and separation. Ignorance is the cause of division and hatred. Religion is like medicine, it is meant to cure, but in the hands of unskilled or bad physicians, what should effect a cure may create disease, what should give life may cause death. Therefore, we must strive with all our strength, with all our heart, to promote only that which leads to unity and life.
“As a result of the life and teaching of Bahá-Oullah, the different sects of Persia are becoming one family of God: the Mohammedans, Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians who have accepted Bahá’ísm are now in the greatest unity and harmony. There is no more war between them; each honors the head of other religions; Mussulmans are honoring Moses and Christ; Christians are honoring Mohammed and Moses; Jews are honoring Jesus and Mohammed. They have learned to love one another, and are becoming one.”
Spirit of His Teaching.
The spirit of his teaching is found in utterances like the following:
“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. These strifes and this bloodshed and discord must cease and all men be as one kindred and one family.
In another place he says: —
“Ye are all the leaves of one tree and the drop of one sea; consort with all the people of the world with joy and fragrance.”
Many descriptions of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s appearance have been given and accounts of his great power of attracting hearts to God. But he desires no personal admiration or praise, he says his title is ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, which means “the Servant of God,” and that the lantern will pass away but the light will remain. That it is to the eternal light of truth, of beauty, of goodness, that we must turn our gaze so that each and every one may receive a portion of the Divine Bounty.
[picture caption: ‘ABDU’L-BAHA. The aged Persian Sage, who is coming to Montreal.]