Persian Head Of Bahá’ís Will Pay Portland A Visit
Greeting to Learned Advocate of Universal Peace and Brotherhood of Man Being Planned; Public Reception.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá Abbas, the Persian head of the Bahá’ís of the world, is expected to visit Portland soon. He has been in America since April last and has been received with unusual respect and esteem, not only by the followers of his teaching but also by churches of many denominations, institutions of learning, peace organizations and societies of various kinds.
Preparations are under way to receive the famous Persian upon his arrival in Portland in a manner befitting his dignity and great learning. A public reception will be arranged and he will probably be invited to speak in a number of the leading churches of the city and deliver addresses before the students of the local educational institutions.
Claim Special Powers.
A young Persian, known as the Báb, or Gati, filled with enthusiasm and claiming special powers of insight and prophecy, in the year 1844 began proclaiming the arrival of a new age and the appearance of “he whom God shall manifest,” one who was about to appear and why by his great knowledge and wisdom would so influence the minds and hearts of mankind that a new order of things should obtain in the world, and the peace and prosperity of man should fulfill the promises of the ages.
Two years after the martyrdom of the Báb in 1850 in Tabriz, there was a great slaughter of his followers, called Bábis, and the few who were left were exiled to Baghdad in Turkish Arabia. Among them was one who was of a prominent and wealthy Persian family, whose large estates near Teheran had been confiscated, and to whom the Bábis looked for counsel and guidance. He was known as Bahá’u’lláh, and in 1863, when he acknowledged himself to be the one promised by the Báb, he was accepted as a divinely appointed teacher and one through whom the peace of humanity should be finally accomplished. From that time the movement bore his name and was called the Bahá’í. (The word Bahá means “Glory”; Bahá’u’lláh means the “Glory of God”; Bahá’í means “Glorious” or all that which pertains to Bahá).
Exiles Suffer Greatly.
Bahá’u’lláh with his followers and comrades in exile, some 70 persons, was moved to Constantinople for a short period, thence to Adrianople, and in 1868 to the Turkish political prison of Acca in Palestine, nine miles from Mount Carmel and 12 miles from ancient Nazareth. There they suffered the utmost oppression and degradation and an entire severance of communication with the outside world. It seemed then as if the Bahá’í cause was thoroughly extinguished and beyond any reviving. Under all these conditions of exile, imprisonment and persecution, Bahá’u’lláh constantly wrote and taught his followers the principles of peace and unity of mankind for which they were suffering, until, in 1892, he departed this life.
Accompanying Bahá’u’lláh from Persia to Baghdad in 1852 was his son, Abbas, Effendi, then in his ninth year. He had been born in Teheran at the very hour when the Báb was first uttering his proclamation of the great Coming in the city of Shiraz. He accompanied his father in all his terrible trials and was one of those imprisoned in Acca in 1868. He remained a prisoner until released with other political prisoners under the new Turkish constitution in 1908 — just 40 years from the time he entered that prison.
Writes His Teachings.
After his release he visited Egypt and, in 1911, journeyed to Paris and London. He addressed the congregation in St. John’s church, Westminster, two days after his arrival in London, at the invitation of Bishop Wilberforce. In April, 1912, he came to America to keep an engagement with the Lake Mohonk Peace society.
Before the departure of Bahá’u’lláh, he wrote his testament in which he appointed his son, Abbas, Effendi, to be the “Center of the Covenant” of unity and peace, which he declared would become established through the power of his teachings, and which should spread throughout the world and unite the hearts of all nations. He appointed Abbas, Effendi, as the interpreter of his teachings, in order that they should not be subjected to many interpretations and to be the establisher of the divine kingdom of unity among men.
It is in pursuance of this great mission that Abbas, Effendi, whose title is ‘Abdul-Bahá (servant of Bahá) is traveling at his advanced age and urging upon all peoples the principles of peace, love, service, equality and unity.
He says that in the West he finds material civilization has advanced to a wonderful and powerful degree, but that the spiritual civilization has been neglected. To the students at Columbia he praised their efforts to acquire knowledge of material sciences, and urged their greater attention to spiritual sciences.
He likened the material civilization to the body of which the spiritual civilization is the soul, and said that, where as the soul might live without the body, the body could not exist without the soul. He likened the two civilizations to wings; if either were crippled, no true attainment were possible.
He says that if a religion neglects to pay attention to science in this day, it is merely a traditional religion; again, that if a religion promotes animosity, hatred and divisions among men, it had better not exist. He counsels all the high virtues of which the world has known, and shows them to be valuable only when put into action; it is this active service of man to humanity in the love of God, which he urges constantly and everywhere.
He is now in Montreal, and purposes to visit the western coast in the near future. Friends of the Bahá’í cause in Spokane, Seattle and Portland hope, and have strong reason to expect that he will visit these places in the near future. Should he come to Portland he will doubtless be sought by all those who hope for the peace of the world and desire the real and active brotherhood of men.