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‘Abdu’l-Bahá an Optimist

Abdul Baha an Optimist
Buffalo NY Express
September 11, 1912

Thinks Religious Unity and World Peace Will Come Within Present Century.


Rich Enough to Travel With Retinue and to Pay All the Expenses of Trip.


Could They but See it, He Says, Grandees of Persia Would Make Homes Near it.

Religious unity and world peace will come within the present century, by all means,” said ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in reply to a question by an Express reporter last evening, after the Persian prince, known in America as the Prophet of Peace, had addressed a small audience in The Iroquois parlors.

Is that an inspired prophecy, or a plain human opinion?” ventured the reporter.

It is a divine prophecy,” said one of ‘Abdul’s brown-robed and black-turbaned interpreters, through whom the interview was being had. He spoke with solemnity and did not venture to repeat the question to his master, as if he feared the implied doubt might give offence.

Many of his prophecies have been proved in Persia,” added the interpreter.

Asked to cite an instance, for illustration’s sake, he said ‘Abdu’l-Bahá forecast the present trouble of Persia with Russia and England. He had written to Bahá’ís in Persia not to interfere with political events; that they were not permanent; that the government and the nation must go hand in hand in harmony and unity; that if they did not do so, other nations would step in and dismember Persia.

It has been proclaimed by Bahá’ís that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá is of princely blood and of the seed of Mohammed.

Are you a prince?” was another question asked of him in last night’s interview.

I am a servant of God.” was his answer.

And that is what ‘Abdu’l-Bahá means - the Servant of God. It is the title which he uses in front of his family name which is Abbas - ‘Abdu’l-Bahá Abbas, it reads on the hotel register.

Whether or not one believes that the ‘Abdul’s predictions are the emanations of divine inspiration, as his attendants or disciples evidently believe, one who listens to his addresses is bound to credit him with perfect sincerity and good faith in his mission of promoting religious unity and world peace.

The ‘Abdu’l-Bahá came to Buffalo from Montreal late on Monday night. Although he had with him in New York and elsewhere in his tour of this country - which is but part of a world tour in pursuance of his mission of peace - a retinue of ten or a dozen native Persians, but three of them came with him to Buffalo. They registered as Dr. Ameen U. Fareed, Mirza (which means Mister) Ahmad Sohrab and Mirza Mahmood Zarzhani. The former two are interpreters, the last a secretary.

The ‘Abdu’l-Bahá came in native costume. He wore it all through the day and at last night’s reception and address. He is 68 years old, a short, stocky man with flowing white hair and white beard. He wore a white turban and flowing robes, a sort of canvas-colored skirt surmounted by a black cape or cassock. His three attendants, whose skins are of the same Oriental bronze as their master’s, wore American business suits and black fezes, except at the evening address, when the interpreters wore brown gowns and the secretary a black one over their suits.

During the forenoon and early afternoon the ‘Abdul received small groups of Buffalo Bahá’ís in his rooms on the third floor. Though in New York he had extensive suites that occupied one quarter of a floor at the Ansonia, in Buffalo he has two ordinary rooms. One of the facts to which his followers point as proof of the good faith of his mission is that he bears all the expenses of his touring, supposedly from the increment from his princely estates in Persia; always pays for entertainment of his meetings when entertaining is done, and never solicits contributions to his cause.

In the early afternoon the ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and his secretary and interpreters took an automobile drive to Niagara Falls. It was the first time he had ever seen the mighty cataract. On their return to the hotel his interpreters were asked what impression the sight had upon him. One of them quotes him as exclaiming:

Nothing can surpass it. Its grandeur and majesty are awe-inspiring. Any of the grandees of Persia, could they but see it, would make their home near it.”

We urged him to stay overnight and rest at this beautiful spot,” said the interpreter, “but he said no, he must continue his work among the poor and to teach the gospel of peace.”

They returned to the hotel shortly after 8 o’clock. The hotel parlors were occupied by 50 or 60 persons, nearly all women, waiting to hear him speak at that hour.

The venerable missionary was too fatigued to attend just then, but in less than half an hour he came down from his rooms, attended by his secretary and interpreters. He seated himself at the speaker’s table before the audience while one of his interpreters stood before him. The other interpreter and the secretary seated themselves at each end of the table and with notebooks in hand began to take down his utterances in Persian shorthand, writing from right to left, instead of from left to right.

The ‘Abdul spoke in gutturals and nasals, and his interpreter made a running interpretation, stopping in the middle of long sentences when the ‘Abdul stopped. The translations were in perfect English and beautiful in their eloquence.

The master is inquiring after the health of all of you,” was the first sentence interpreted.

Several of the women said, “We are well,” and one of them added, “We are glad to see him.”

Then the address proceeded, substantially as follows:

I have come to see you, having heard of you. With the utmost of longing I came, and I praise God for the means afforded to people of the Orient to come to see the people of the Occident, and make known their love for them. I am hopeful that day by day this love will increase. Thus the day may come when the East and the West may become the integral part of the world. All will be united in love and peace. The most indissoluble love shall be established among them.

In the world of existence, the greatest bounties emanate from love. The phenomena emanate from the attributes of love.

The sun is the sign of mercy, through the light of which it floods all regions.

The vernal cloud is a sign of clemency.

The life-giving breeze is an emanation from love.

In short, all the blessings of God are the signs of love for His children.

The very cause of life is love.

All the divine prophets were inspired by love.

All the books of God were revealed for no other purpose than love.

All the philosophers have been heralds of the love of men.

All the wise men have upheld the cause of love.

On the contrary, men are souls that are manifestations of Satanic influences - lack of love, hatred. Man, though intended to be the greatest promoter of love, has been the source of hatred and enmity. He has been the cause of warfare and bloodshed, of the demolition of the world of humanity.

God created man to be a radiant creature, to be a soul of life. He has proved to be a factor of destruction and death.

Consider the events in the Orient; [unreadable text]; how many children have [unreadable text] orphans; how many fathers [unreadable text] how many mothers bemoan the [unreadable text] their children as a result of war.

Yet war has not ceased to exist. The continent of Europe is naught but an arsenal based on a foundation full of explosives ready for the spark to make a waste and a wilderness.

Therefore, forbid that spark! Pray that this shall not be; that the infernal warfare shall be ceased. You who comprise a large and peaceful nation, who are prosperous, who enjoy so just a government, shall try to cease these quarrels among nations, that these factors of tyranny and oppression shall pass away. Rather, may this dreadful state be transformed into one of peace and love.

The pretext for warfare is patriotism or perchance, glory of country, or that this blood which is mercilessly shed is for the upbuilding of the nation. Whereas, in truth, the sphere of the earth is one nativity and all its thoughts are the human habitation. The differences are due to man’s own imaginings. We pronounce one country Germany, another one France, whereas they are all one continent. The division is only by suppositional lines, by imaginary boundaries.

Now is it meet for us to use these imaginary lines as pretexts for quarrels and warfare among us?

The earth is not the man’s life. It is his ultimate cemetery, and it is not becoming for men to quarrel over a cemetery. All this generation will have this land for graves not for a place of enjoyment. If it be a temporary place of life, it is an everlasting graveyard, and it will swallow all mankind, and all that inhabits it will be within its very bowels.

Man’s heart must be attached to God. He must seek the life everlasting. He must work for the illumination, for the cause of the spirituality of man. The world has found its being through the merciful attributes of God. The divine manifestations of God have been sent to reveal these merciful attributes. The bounties of God are not subject to [unreadable text]. The sovereignty of God [text missing]