To Drag the Soul Down to Hell 1
IT WAS A “SATANIC system” of control and submission, Reverend Peter Z. Easton 2 thought. He wrote his opinion in an article called “Bahaism: A Warning,” in the September and October, 1911, issue of the British magazine Evangelical Christendom.
America wasn’t the only place ‘Abdu’l-Bahá faced controversy. It had happened during his trip to England as well.
On September 17, 1911, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spoke at the Church of St. John the Evangelist in Smith Square, Westminster. The English magazine the Fortnightly Review reported the event like this: “Surely the dawn of a new day was heralded on that Sunday evening when the Archdeacon of Westminster walked hand in hand with Abdul Baha up the nave of St. John’s Church.”
The Archdeacon was Basil Wilberforce, the Chaplain of the House of Commons. He seated ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in the Bishop’s chair, addressed him as “Master,” and even knelt to receive his blessing. But Reverend Easton, who had been a missionary in Azerbaijan for many years, was incensed by the warm reception given to a Persian by a minister of the Church of England.
“One wonders how it is that Christian men and women can be so deceived,” Easton pleaded.
New York, Philadelphia, New York 3
Later that Wednesday, when some of the friends described places for sightseeing in America, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá remarked, “‘We love meetings of fidelity and not picturesque scenes. We must first be faithful to God, to His laws and Covenant and then to His servants. If we wish to see places of interest and picturesque scenes we should do so when we go to pay visits or when we have to pass through such places and scenes.’”
Talk at Fourth Unitarian Church, Beverly Road, Flatbush, Brooklyn, New York, 16 June 1912 4
What is real unity? When we observe the human world, we find various collective expressions of unity therein. For instance, man is distinguished from the animal by his degree, or kingdom. This comprehensive distinction includes all the posterity of Adam and constitutes one great household or human family, which may be considered the fundamental or physical unity of mankind. Furthermore, a distinction exists between various groups of humankind according to lineage, each group forming a racial unity separate from the others. There is also the unity of tongue among those who use the same language as a means of communication; national unity where various peoples live under one form of government such as French, German, British, etc.; and political unity, which conserves the civil rights of parties or factions of the same government. All these unities are imaginary and without real foundation, for no real result proceeds from them. The purpose of true unity is real and divine outcomes. From these limited unities mentioned only limited outcomes proceed, whereas unlimited unity produces unlimited result. For instance, from the limited unity of race or nationality the results at most are limited. It is like a family living alone and solitary; there are no unlimited or universal outcomes from it.
Wednesday, June 19, 1912
As ‘Abdu’l-Bahá is to go to Montclair tomorrow, He bade farewell to the friends. Today He admonished and encouraged the friends, exhorting them to love and unity and to refrain from differences and disagreements. Then, at the request of Miss Juliet Thompson, He went to a photography studio where several photographs were taken. As she is an artist herself, she drew ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s likeness with her own hands in a few days.
Many people were present in the afternoon. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spoke with a minister about the prosperity of humankind and the oneness of the world of humanity.
Mrs Smith, a member of one of the distinguished families in Philadelphia, had recently embraced the Cause and had requested a Persian name. She was given the name Tábandih [Light-giver] by the Master. As she had a headache, He prescribed some medication for her, saying:
“You must always be happy. You must associate with joyous and happy people and be adorned with divine morals. Happiness has a direct influence in preserving our health while being upset causes illness. The basis of eternal happiness is spirituality and divine virtue, which is not followed by sorrow. But physical happiness is subject to a thousand changes and vicissitudes.
“Have you heard the story of the emperor who looked into the mirror and became very sad and despondent? He said, ‘Oh! What a healthy and vigorous body I had but how worn it has become now! What a handsome face I had but how ugly it has become now! What graceful stature I had but how bent my body has become with age!’ Thus he spoke one by one of the physical conditions of his youth and expressed his sadness at their loss. Such is the end of the physical happiness.”
Another friend asked about tribulations and unexpected accidents. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá replied:
“The chain of creation is interwoven in a natural law and divine order. Everything is interlinked. A link cannot be broken without affecting that natural order. Everything that happens is in conformity with this order and is based on consummate wisdom. Because it is decreed by God that every plant that grows must wither, all flourishing vegetation must fade away, every combination must disperse and all compositions must disintegrate. These are the necessary consequences of that universal law and of all relationships and is interpreted as divine decree.”
In every meeting ‘Abdu’l-Bahá gives this kind of philosophical explanation to complex problems, thus illuminating the hearts. 5
’Abdu’l-Bahá in America, 1912-2012: Calling America to It’s Spiritual Destiny
Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America
Curated by Anne Perry
- Sockett, Robert. “To Drag the Soul Down to Hell.” 239 Days in America, 19 June 2012, https://239days.com/2012/06/19/to-drag-the-soul-down-to-hell/. ↩
- Papijoon. “Bahai Stories: Mirza Abdu’l Fazl.” Bahai Stories, 20 June 2012, https://bahaistories-papijoon.blogspot.com/2012/06/i-have-seen-curious-article-which.html. ↩
- Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 93. ↩
- ʻAbduʼl-Bahá. The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by ʻAbduʼl-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912. Edited by Howard MacNutt. 2nd ed. Wilmette, Ill: Baháʼí Publishing Trust, 1982, 190-191. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/14#045318399. ↩
- ’Abdu’l-Bahá, and Mirza Mahmud-i-Zarqani. Mahmúd’s Diary: The Diary of Mírzá Mahmúd-i-Zarqání Chronicling ’Abdu’l-Bahá’s Journey to America. Edited by Shirley Macias. Translated by Mohi Sobhani. Oxford: George Ronald, 1998. https://bahai-library.com/zarqani_mahmuds_diary&chapter=4#section87 ↩