Persian Peace Prophet Gives Message to Canada through the Standard
Comments on Great Prosperity of This Country — His Remarkable, Varied and Romantic Career.
A venerable, gray haired man, older than his years, with flowing locks and patriarchial beard, the furrows of suffering on his still handsome and striking face, and lines telling of deep and anxious thought upon his brow, this is ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, leader of the Bahá’í peace movement, who has come to preach his gospel of universal brotherhood and love to the people of Canada.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá Abbas, sometimes called Abbas Effendi, and whose name signifies, the “Servant of God,” has had a career marked by privations such as fall to the lot of but few men. He has been imprisoned, exiled, ostracized, yet he has never faltered in carrying on the mission, he believes it is his destiny to fulfil — the mission handed on to him by his father, Bahá’u’lláh, the founder and first great leader of this remarkable movement. With the firm conviction of a man who has unalterable faith in his mission, and in the Divine inspiration underlying it, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has gone forward fearlessly giving to all nations and all men the teaching he himself received from his father and predecessor.
Extends Cordial Welcome.
Clad in a gown of grey canvas with an inner cloak of creamy texture, and an outer cloak of some black material, the whole surmounted by a white turban, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá gave a cordial greeting to a representative of The Standard, who called on him. “Welcome,” said he, the only English word he used during the interview, as he shook the Standard man warmly by the hand. But though he does not himself speak English he is well served in the matter of an interpreter by Mr. Mirza Ahmad Sohrab, who accompanies him. As the Persian philosopher spoke in clear resounding tones carrying the ring of sincerity with them his words were quickly translated into fluent English by Mr. Sohrab.
Message to Canada.
“You have a very beautiful country and you must be very happy here.” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá began and then intimated that he had a message for the people of Canada. “My message to the Canadian people,” he said, “is this: Your country is very prosperous and very delightful in every aspect; you have peace and security amidst you; happiness and composure are your friends; surely you must thank God you are so submerged in the sea of His mercy.”
A Varied Career.
He then proceeded to speak of himself, and of his movement. The greater part of his lifetime, he said, had been spent in captivity at Acra, in Syria, where he was confined at the instance of Turks and Persians, who objected to his teachings, and was only liberated on the fall of the old Turkish regime and the advent of the Young Turks to power. But though a prisoner he was allowed a certain amount of liberty and went on teaching all who came to visit him. In this way many thousands were won over to the cause, and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, in prison, was almost as big a thorn in the side of the religious bigots of the East as ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, a free man. After his release he found the movement had spread wonderfully through Asia Minor and Persia, and he soon decided to visit the Occident as many Europeans and Americans had been amongst his visitors during the period of his incarceration. He accordingly made a tour through Europe last year and was well received, especially in Paris and London. In the latter city he spoke at the City Temple at the invitation of Rev. R.J. Campbell, and in St. John’s Church by permission of Canon Wilberforce. He next turned his attention towards America, and arrived in New York in April last. Since then he has toured the greater part of the Republic but there are a few important places he has not yet visited, and these he intends to take in, after leaving Montreal next week end.
The Founding of the Movement.
The Bahá’í movement is an outgrowth of the teaching of the celebrated Báb, the founder of Bábism, who made such a stir in the Orient about the middle of last century. After the Báb was put to death by the Persian Government, Bahá’u’lláh, father of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, arose and began to spread the doctrine of universal peace. He was arrested, however, through the machinations, of fanatic Musselmen and exiled to Acra, where he remained till his death in 1898, when he handed on the leadership of the Bahá’ís to his son, Montreal’s present visitor. The adherents of the Bahá’í movement in Persia alone are now said to number three millions.
[picture caption: ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.]