News clips

Arrival Bahá’ís Leader Awaited Here

Arrival Bahais Leader Awaited Here
Washington DC Post
March 10, 1912



Abbas Effendi, Chief Exponent of Religious Cult, Will Speak Before Persian-American Society in Washington Next Month.

Abbas Effendi, or ‘Abdu’l-Bahá Abbas, as he is known among his faithful followers will arrive in this country about April 1. On April 18, 19, and 20 he will address the Persian-American Educational Society in Washington.

For many years he has been in the Orient, where the Bahá’í movement, of which he is the chief exponent, has made rapid progress. But until recently, when the visits of this noted Persian to London and Paris and a brief stay in Switzerland focused the attention of the people of Europe, comparatively little has been known among Westerners about this remarkable religious movement. And now with the prospective visit of Abbas Effendi to America, Bahá’ís, as his followers are called, are inclined to ask their friends to watch the mysterious East, which in past ages has brought many wonders to light.

In appearance Abbas Effendi resembles venerable patriarch from the ancient world. His face and form present a study worthy of a great artist. His liberal and progressive views have cost him and his followers much suffering, it is asserted, for the Moslems of Persia, among whom the movement started more than 50 years ago, are known to be among the most fanatical of religious devotees on earth.

History Written in Blood.

So the early history of the movement is literally written in blood. In fact, this intense persecution is not now ended. For only a few years ago a number of Bahá’ís were martyred at Yads for their faithfulness to the cause which they believe holy. And the 40 years spent by Bahá’u’lláh and Abbas Effendi in prison is a thrilling story of pain and forebearance. Amid his untoward surroundings he always found time to labor and strive for the good of humanity and the progress of the world.

And the many beautiful books and tablets that have emanated from his pen, to individuals and to organizations are treasured by his friends in all parts of the world. So that when Abbas Effendi, the venerable teacher, lands in America, he will not find himself among strangers although his, adherents, here are not noisy or demonstrative, they do their work in a very quiet way, and few of the larger cities of America are without a Bahá’í assembly.

These form a network stretching from Maine to California, and even include the Hawaiian Islands. So among the agencies at work for the wiping out of religious bigotry, and racial prejudices at the present day, among peace conferences and tribunals of arbitration, it may be questioned whether any of them or all of them are half as effective as this simple man, who affects no state or ostentation, but teaches universal tolerance and the cessation of all strife. The following is a quotation from one of his recent utterances, which seems to strike the vital chord in all religions and appeal to all who are truly in favor of human progress and human rights.

Aims in the Movement.

It is for us to consider how we may educate men that the darkness of ignorance and heedlessness may disappear, and the radiance of the kingdom may encompass the world; that the notions of men may be delivered from selfish ambition and strife, and be revivified by the fragrance of God; that animosity and hatred may entirely disappear, while the attracting power of the love of God so completely unites the hearts of men that all hearts beat as a single heart; that the arteries of mankind may pulsate with the love of God; that contention and war may utterly pass away while peace and reconciliation lift their standard in the midst of the earth and men become enamored of one another; that the joys of spirituality may prevail over material pleasures; that East and West may delight in one another as lovers, and North and South embrace each other in closest affection; that the visible world may become the mirror of the world of the kingdom; that the image of the Supreme Concourse may be reflected in all gatherings of men; that the earth may be changed into the Paradise of the Glorious One, and the Divine Jerusalem embrace the terrestrial globe.”

Movement’s Third Leader.

Abbas Effendi, as might be supposed, is not the first teacher of Bahá’í movement, but its third leader. The origin of the movement and the birth of Abbas Effendi were on the same date, May 4, 1844. Then it was that Ali Mohammed, a young Persian of pure character, and the son of the merchant, suddenly took the title of the Báb, meaning the door or gate, and declared himself the Imam Mahdi, whom the Mussulmans expect in the latter days to restore order in the world and establish universal peace.

The Báb displayed great wisdom and had the power to fire the hearts of people who listened to him. Starting in his native city of Shiraz, he went from place to place, attacking the narrowness, ignorance, and vice of the mullahs, and proclaiming justice, equality, and peace for men and women. He obtained such a ready response that the mullahs became alarmed for the prestige of the church. He first was scoffed at, then seized and tried by a learned assembly. By this he was beaten and warned. But no sooner did he obtain his freedom than his work began again, with larger result.

His proclamation of freedom to the women from the harem life appealed to many of those, who eagerly heralded him as their deliverer. During the six years of his teaching thousands upon thousands followed him, many of whom, in the bitter persecution that followed, became martyrs in the dust. So many brave souls were put to death that the late Queen Victoria asked the Shah of Persia why so many innocent people were [unreadable text] put to death.

Shot by Soldiers.

The Báb was shot by a regiment of soldiers, acting under the orders of the shah, in 1830. Before his death he told his followers that they should prepare themselves to welcome a new leader, who might arise at any time, and both in authority and power surpass anything and everything he had been able to bring to pass.

Among the Bábis, as the followers of the Báb were called, this prophecy became fulfilled in the appearance of Bahá’u’lláh (the glory of God), who supported the authority of the Báb during his lifetime, and made his declaration of power a few years later. Then all except a few of the Bábis turned to Bahá’u’lláh, and henceforth became known as Bahá’ís, after “the manifestation.” Their new leader, Bahá’u’lláh, too, was imprisoned and afterward exiled. The scion of an illustrious family and born to wealth, he was reduced to poverty. At the loss of his estates he rejoiced in his freedom.

He was imprisoned at Bagdad, at Constantinople, and finally [text missing] of Akka, or Acre, near the foot of Mount Carmel in Palestine. From this place, known among the Bahá’ís as “the most great prison,” he sent out the messages of peace to the kings and rulers of the world, declaring a divine mission and commanding them to use their resources in the direction of universal peace. He also revealed other agencies, the establishment of which would lead to the peace of the world and the harmony of the nations. Among these are the education of all the children, both male and female; a universal calendar; arbitration of all disputes, religious disputes, religious tolerance, the [unreadable text] of good character, the development of scientific research, a universal tongue, a cessation of racial prejudices and the reign of love. The greatest of his writings is the Kitab [unreadable text] Akdas or Book of Laws. In this he provides for the effective operation of these agencies through the Baitu’Adl, or house of justice.

Westerners, who regard with pride the progress of Esperanto. The Hague tribunal, and other attempted reforms, should remember that this mystic Oriental proclaimed these things about 45 or 50 year ago. During the lifetime of Bahá’u’lláh the number of those who became interested in and gave allegiance to the cause was vastly increased. And he made interesting and attractive to all the world that which during the lifetime of the Báb had been confined to Persia.

In the year 1892, in the fullness of years, Bahá’u’lláh died of a fever. His remains He buried near the city of Akka and his tomb is visited by many of his followers. Before his passing, in a brief writing, called the Kitab el Ahd, or Book of the Covenant, he directed his followers to turn for leadership to his eldest son, Abbas Effendi, whom he calls the Greatest Branch. It is this same Abbas Effendi, third in the line of leadership of the Bahá’í movement.

All accounts agree that he is a most interesting and striking personality, who seems familiar with the needs of humanity and has some remedy to suggest for every human woe. His efforts to promote, peace, his tolerance of all religions, his. sympathetic touch, doubtless will find a [text missing] everywhere. Arrangements have been made to have him make addresses in churches of many cities, as well as at peace congresses and other gathering.

[picture caption: Abbas Effendi, Chief exponent of religious movement, coming to America]