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Disciples Here Hail ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

Disciples Here Hail Abdul Baha
New York Sun
April 12, 1912
New York

The Persian Teacher Takes a Little Snuff and Talks of His Beliefs.


We Were Originally All One Family; Why Not Be So Again?

Abdu’l-Bahá Abbas, the Persian philosopher and teacher who preaches that men serve God best by serving their kind, was welcomed reverently by more than three hundred of his American disciples yesterday at the home of Edward Kinney, 780 West End avenue. Catholics, Protestants, Jews and Mohammedans joined in the reception, for ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the Servant of God, as he is known to the Bahá’ís, makes no distinction among creeds or races.

The venerable Persian, accompanied by Dr. [text missing] en U. Fareed, his physician and interpreter; Said Assad Ullad and Mirza Mohammed, arrived Wednesday night on the steamship Cedric. Yesterday morning he went to the Hotel Ansonia where he will be while he is in this city, probably one week. After a nap which effaced the traces of an uncomfortable sea voyage the philosopher received newspaper men and spoke to them through Dr. Fareed.

Abdu’l-Bahá Abbas is now nearly 68 years of age, but forty years in a Turkish prison have made him appear of greater age. He is of middle height, but has the appearance of a tall man because of his erect carriage. His long gray hair flows over his shoulders. His broad beard and mustache are as gray as his hair. His forehead is broad, full and high and his nose is large and aquiline. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s eyes are blue and large, his glance is penetrating. He wore a voluminous outer coat of gray wool which swept from his shoulders to the floor. Under the jobbeh was a linen coat, the gaba. His turban was white. His feet were encased in narrow pointed shoes of soft leather.

Occasionally while he talked he took snuff from a plain silver box. Dr. Fareed was about to translate several questions when ‘Abdu’l-Bahá lifted his hand for silence. His Persian followers sat up very stiff and straight and indicated that nothing must be said that would interrupt the philosopher’s flow of thought. He spoke then slowly, Dr. Fareed translating bit by bit.

Having heard of the numerous organizations in this country for peace and arbitration, and because of my great interest in those subjects, I have come here,” said ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, “to advocate human solidarity. That is the basis of my teachings. All nations and all religions may become united by that unity. Perfect peace might reign among them. Strife and animosity are due to misunderstandings. If these misunderstandings be removed, then unity can be accomplished.

All of the prophets of God were manifestations of truth and reality, but because imitations have crept into religions division and misunderstandings have resulted. These imitations cannot be found in the bases of religions. Human beings should refer to the original foundations and then 6,000 years of strife and warfare will vanish. My purpose is to bring about the oneness of humanity and to secure accord and fellowship among all mankind so that they may dwell together finally as one family. They were so originally.”

The philosopher enjoyed a tiny pinch of snuff and leaned back in his chair. Answering questions, he said he expected to stay in the United States four or perhaps five months, and that he wanted to see everything of interest. He will visit all the large cities before sailing from San Francisco for Japan. He had no way of estimating the number of his followers.

Twenty million? Oh, no. Perhaps 2,00[text missing]000 the world over. Did he believe, i[text missing] women suffrage? Yes, positively, and in the entire emancipation of women. He believed also that divorce is justifiable for many causes.

Complete incompatibility,” he said slowly, “is the chief cause of unhappy marriages. It brings hatred. It should be relieved by divorce.”

From the hotel he was taken in an automobile to the home of Edward Kinney where followers from this and other cities were waiting to greet him. Some has come from Canada, others from Baltimore, others from the Middle States. He addressed them briefly and then went back to the Ansonia. Among those Bahá’í present were Mumford Mills, the president of the American Bahá’ís; Mr. and Mrs. Edward Kinney, Corinne d’Armour, Mr. and Mrs. H.M. Newton, Mr. and Mrs. William Hoar, Mr. and Mrs. Howard Me[unreadable text] Nutt, Mr. and Mrs. Seaman Kauffman Aiken Rivers, Mr. and Mrs. A. Hutchinson, Mr. and Mrs. J.J. Grandy, E.K Graboski, Mrs. Alice Bardee, Miss Harrie S. Phillips, Harper Harris, Miss R.I Nichols of Troy, Sidney Sprague of Teheran, Mr. and Mrs. William Maxwell of Montreal. Mr. and Mrs. Percy Woodcock and daughter of Montreal, Mr. and Mrs. Brooke of Akron, Ohio, the Rev. Dr. E.C. Angell, the Rev. Dr. Howard Ives, Mrs. W.H. Beepe, Mrs. Lucy M. Johnson, Mrs. C.L. Lincoln and daughter, Mrs. A.D. Healy, Mrs. R. Whitney, Mrs. F.K. Osborn, Mrs. R.B. Chapman, H.F. Harmon, Miss Emma F. Holmes, Mr. and Mrs. Edward D. Struven, Miss Gertrude Stanwood, Mrs. W.E. Watson and Mrs. Andrew Thompson of Baltimore.

Members of the society said that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá would probably give several public lectures in New York. The International Peace Society, they said, would hold a meeting for him. There wer no statistic as to the number of his followers in this country, but about 5,000, it was said consider him the greatest teacher sir[unreadable text] Jesus and Mohammed.

The philosopher was born in Teheran in 1844. His father, Bahá’u’lláh, was a prince of Persia’s royal line who gave up riches and position to strive for the regeneration of man. For advocating liberal ideas Bahá’u’lláh was thro[text missing] into prison and his young son, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, went with him. He laid, however the foundation for what his follower everywhere believe will be a universal religious system. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá took up the the work and from the prison city of Akka preached the brotherhood of man to m[unreadable text] of all races that went there to hear him. Among these were many Americans and Englishmen, and through them the new cult was carried to Western countries. In 1908, after the Young Turks came to power, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was released, and after a time he went to live in Egypt with his wife and four daughters. The daughters Dr. Fareed said yesterday, have been educated in the Western way. They speak several languages.

Recently he visited France and England and interested thousands of persons. To these he explained his ideas simply.

My advice to you,” he said, “is to endeavor as much as you can to show kindness to all men, to deal with perfect love affection and devotion with all the individuals of humanity. Remove from yourselves racial, patriotic, religious, sectional, political, commercial, industrial and agricultural prejudices, so that you may become freed from all human restrictions and become the founders of the structure of the oneness of humanity.

He will attend the international peace conference at Lake Mohonk.

[picture caption: ‘ABDU’L-BAHA ABBAS]