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‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Return

Abdul Baha's Return
The Christian Commonwealth
December 25, 1912

Reception at the Westminster Palace Hotel.

In a highly modern setting a picturesque meeting of East and West took place last Friday evening. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s return from his American tour gave his followers in this country their first opportunity of welcoming the Master, and a reception was held in the Westminster Palace Hotel, presided over by Sir Thomas Barclay. The numbers present were an indication of the interest now taken in the Bahá’í movement. Dark Eastern faces, impassive Japanese, and representatives of the Continental nations appeared in sharp contrast with the English people who formed the bulk of the assembly. But there was no diversity visible as these groups fused and intermingled.

Into this animated assembly the Master came quietly, and a sudden hush fell as the company realised his presence, followed by a rustle of dresses as they rose respectfully while he made his way to the raised dais where the chairman awaited him. Sir Thomas Barclay said he was present in the capacity of a listener rather than a speaker, and as a Western European to learn the wisdom of the East. It was a great privilege to have the Master among them, and they rejoiced at the success which had attended his work in the cause of international peace and the unity of nations.

Abdu’l-Bahá spoke with great animation and vigour in some passages, and in others his voice fell into soft caressing cadences or rose with a sonorous solemnity as he intoned some great sentence. He spoke his native tongue, the sentences being interpreted as he proceeded. Mainly the address was an exposition of the teaching of Bahá’u’lláh. Love and affinity, he said, were the basis of religion; love is the cause of life, and hatred spells death. Hence the declaration that all the divine manifestations were meant to establish the law of love among men. In an interesting passage he spoke of an address delivered to nearly 6,000 Jews in California, in which he urged that “his holiness Christ” had proclaimed the validity of the Mosaic law, and through him the name of Moses was spread abroad. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said he was very pleased that he was present in London while the conference was sitting to discuss the terms of peace in the Balkans. He prayed that the deliberations might be fruitful of good, and that the English Government and people will do their utmost to further the cause of peace.

Brief addresses were delivered by Miss Monckton and Mrs. Despard, the latter saying that she felt deeply privileged to have the opportunity of meeting and listening to the Eastern sage. We are living in strange times, and the unrest with which the world is seething has a profound significance for the future. At the conclusion of the speeches ‘Abdu’l-Bahá gave his benediction on the gathering. The hope was expressed that this would be the first of many such assemblies while the Master is in this country.