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Noted Persian Teacher Here Pleads for World Peace

Noted Persian Teacher Here Pleads for World Peace
Sacramento California Bee
October 26, 1912
Sacramento, CA

Head of Bahá’í Religion Says Old Teachings Must Reformed

Speaking through his interpreter, Dr. Ameen Fareed, this morning in Hotel Sacramento, ‘Abdul-Bahá Abbas, the Persian prophet and head of the Bahá’í religion, whose profound thoughts and learning have impressed the whole world, preached universal brotherhood and love, international peace, universal unity of religion and universal education. The respectful attention of an audience composed of persons interested in the doctrines and those interested in the prophet was given as the prophet communicated his message through his interpreter.

The soft flowing words in the Persian language as they dropped from the lips of the venerable prophet seemed to carry one back across many centuries to the time that others of his character traveled about preaching to the world. Clothed in Persian robes, with a turban covering his white locks, he seemed to have stepped directly from the age of the patriarchs.

Pleads for World Peace.

Speaking of universal peace, he said,

The greatest affair of the world is universal peace. It is time to stop the shedding of blood and time for the East to meet the West.”

Many men of affairs, he said, have come to uphold the doctrine of peace and altruism.

The people of California are particularly fitted for peace, he declared, and hoped the first flag of universal peace may be raised in this State.

No, limit can be set on the power of achievement, he said, because no matter how humanity advances, there are always achievements further on. He then declared that nothing is subject to termination and that the bounties of the Divine have no limitation. The reality of the sun and the reality of the Divine are akin. Were the sun’s rays to cease, it would mean the ending of the sun. Were the Divinity’s bounties to cease so would the Divinity.

Would Reform Religion.

The speaker declared, that the teaching of religion must be developed and reformed. Past teachings he said, are not good for the present. The laws of the past must be reformed. The world has so advanced that we need things suited to us now.

Love must be introduced into religion, said the speaker, and the oneness of humanity recognised. Class and National feeling must be done away with. One must not say “I am a Frenchman,” or “an Englishman,” “a Jew,” or “Turk,” but “I am a member of humanity.”

The time of ferocity has passed away — the medieval [text missing] ignorance also, he said. An age of understanding has arrived and it is behooving that all of us should cast aside ignorance and race feeling. All good [text missing]

Noted Oriental Not a Prophet, but a Teacher

Is on Lecture Tour.

The home of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá is in Mount Carmel, Syria. Since last April he has been traveling throughout the United States, lecturing to thousands who realized that another opportunity may never be given to hear the aged leader. This is his first visit to this country, and, although he has many followers on this continent, few have seen him before.

Abdu’l-Bahá is the leader of the religion founded fifty years ago by Bahá’u’lláh. He is the third of the teachers to preach the doctrines of the religion. The greater part of his life has been spent in a prison cell, since he was sentenced to life imprisonment by ‘Abdul Hamid, the former Sultan of Turkey, at the age of 9 years.

Abdu’l-Bahá is now returning from San Francisco, and will speak in Salt Lake, Denver, Omaha, Chicago, Des Moines and other cities of the middle West and East.

Others in His Party.

Abdu’l-Bahá Abbas gave a lecture similar to the one of this morning at Hotel Sacramento last night, having as an audience persons interested in the doctrines and those interested in the prophet.

Abdu’l-Bahá is accompanied by Dr. Ameen Fareed, Mizra Ahmad Sahrab, Mizra Mahmood, Mizra Ali Abkar, and a Japanese, who has embraced the religion of Bahá’í.

Noted Oriental Not a Prophet, But a Teacher

By William A. Lawson.

After his address this morning, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, an adopted Persian name, which means “Servant of God,” talked for a time, through an interpreter, with a Bee representative, and answered numerous questions. He speaks no English, but Persian very fluently and without hesitation. His style is highly poetic and he uses much Oriental imagery in his conversation, as in his lectures. To make his meaning clear to the general reader, it is needful to paraphrase his words as translated.

Abdu’l-Bahá explained that he does not call himself a prophet, nor does he claim divine inspiration. He wishes it understood that his mission is that of a teacher; to spread the gospel of enlightenment and peace: that the aim of Bahá’ísm is not to destroy any religion or creed, but to associate all religious sects and denominations in a world-wide movement to do aw [text missing] d link all mankind in a spirit of brotherhood and good fellowship. One may be a Christian, he says, or a Mohammedan, as well as a Bahá’í.

So it would appear from all his metaphorical exposition, that Bahá’ísm is not properly spoken of as a religion, but is best described as a “movement,” whose purpose is much like that of Matthew Arnold’s aim of spreading “sweetness and light.”

The word “Bahá’í,” in fact, is Persian for “glorious,” “enlightened,” or “radiant.”

What He Thinks of America.

Asked as to his impressions of America, after six months’ travel and lecturing in many large cities, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said that, materially speaking, the progress of this country is marvelous and leaves nothing to be desired, and that her future is very bright.

But,” he added, “you are in need of what I would term divine civilization; civilization with morality and aesthetics. Material civilization is like a glass chimney; divine civilization is like the light within the chimney.”

No Conflict With Creeds.

This Persian apostle of the gospel of peace and humanity regards all religions as having a common, divine foundation, and for this “heresy” he is said to have endured forty years of imprisonment under the old Turkish rule in Persia, his teaching having been regarded as in conflict with Mohammedanism. But he explains that he has no quarrel with any creed, although dogmatic theology must keep step with the advance of science.

A Pleasing Old Man.

Abdu’l-Bahá is 68 years of age, of benign and patriarchal appearance. His hair and full beard are white and he wears a flowing robe of unbleached linen. He sat as he talked to his audience this morning, and was most simple and unassuming in manner. His style of delivery is entirely unaffected and purely conversational, and he is sparing of gesture. Both in voice and expression of countenance he is pleasant, and he gives one the impression of being entirely sincere.

Son of the Founder of Bahá’ísm.

Members of his traveling party of Persians say he is the son of the founder of Bahá’ísm, who was one of the leading men of Persia, and that the family was one of large wealth and distinction. His lectures are free [text missing]

[picture caption: ‘Abdul-Bahá Abbas]