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.’”

Fidelity demands roaming over deserts and mountains. 4

At a public meeting ‘Abdu’l-Bahá again spoke on the “Tablet of the Branch,” His talk centering around the Covenant and its promise. After the meeting, many pleaded for a private interview and continued visiting Him until noon.

Today He received the manuscript of The Brilliant Proof written by Mírzá Abu’l-Fadl, which had been written in answer to the objections of a minister in London. Being pleased with the book, the Master instructed that it be translated and published.

He also spoke of the malice, mischief and misdeeds of the Azalis.

In the afternoon several friends visited and described the picturesque scenery and interesting places of America. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said:

We love meetings of fidelity and not picturesque scenes. We must first be faithful to God, to His ordinances and Covenant and to His servants. If we wish to see places of interest and picturesque scenes, we do so when we go visiting or when we pass through such places and scenes.

Sometimes during these days ‘Abdu’l-Bahá would evince a mood similar to that He had when He was staying in Egypt, when He wished for martyrdom, desiring to be sacrificed at the Threshold of God. Among the many Tablets revealed at this time was one in honor of Áqá Ridáy-i-Shírází, Qannád, who had recently ascended to the Abhá Kingdom. Some of the verses of the Tablet were on this same theme:

Fidelity demands roaming over deserts and mountains. True fidelity is attained when a wanderer, nameless and traceless, becomes a target for the arrows of oppression on the plain of martyrdom. O Lord! Ordain for Thy servant the realization of his utmost wish, this bounty which shines resplendent upon the horizon of fidelity, like unto the sun arisen at dawn. One request I have to put to the loved ones of Bahá, that they prostrate themselves before the holy threshold, lay their heads on the ground and ask that the sinful ‘Abdu’l-Bahá be granted the cup of immolation, so that he may, in servitude to the threshold of Bahá, taste the sweet savor of a drop from the ocean of fidelity.

  1. Sockett, Robert. “To Drag the Soul Down to Hell.” 239 Days in America, 19 June 2012, [return]
  2. Papijoon. “Bahai Stories: Mirza Abdu’l Fazl.” Bahai Stories, 20 June 2012, [return]
  3. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 93. [return]
  4. ’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. [return]