I Have Seen a Curious Article Which Astonished 1 2

MIRZÁ ABU’L-FAZL WAS ILL, bedridden, and sixty-seven years old when the attack on ‘Abdu’l-Bahá — published under the title “Bahaism: A Warning” — was given to him in Beirut. The article, written by Reverend Peter Z. Easton, had appeared in the September and October, 1911, issue of the British magazine Evangelical Christendom. By December it had found its way to Syria.

Defending the Bahá’í religion was nothing new for Abu’l-Fazl. Yet he appeared genuinely taken aback by Reverend Easton’s attack. “‘Abdu’l-Bahá calls the people of Europe to the lofty attributes of humanity,” Abu’l-Fazl wrote, “but Peter Z. Easton teaches them libels, execration, falsehood and calumnies!”

Mirzá Abu’l-Fazl Gulpáygání was a renowned scholar who had once risen to the highest ranks of the Shí’í Muslim clergy in Persia. His expertise encompassed Islamic and European sciences, rational philosophy, speculative theology, and even Buddhism. But then, in 1876, he became a Bahá’í. He was stripped of his position, imprisoned for four years, and narrowly escaped the campaigns of murder against Bahá’ís in the Middle East.

Abu’l-Fazl began his treatise by questioning Reverend Easton’s motives: “Jealousy has caused many to fall from the high station and lofty summit of courtesy,” he wrote. The implication was that Easton was jealous of Archdeacon Wilberforce, who had invited ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to his church and prompted Easton’s attack.

“Are there not enough revilers, calumniators and prevaricators in the other parts of the world,” Abu’l-Fazl asked, “that such should also appear from Europe?”

New York, Philadelphia, New York 3

On Thursday, June 20, Juliet Thompson wrote (in a diary entry dated July 5):

… we went to Mrs. Kasebier’s [Gertrude]—Lua [Getsinger], Mrs. William Hinkle-Smith [‘Abdu’l-Bahá gave her the name Tábandih which means “Light-Giver”], and I—in the car with the Master.

I shall never forget the Master’s beauty in the strange cold light of her studio—a green, under-water sort of light, in which He looked shining and chilled—like the statue of a god.

Talk at 309 West Seventy-eighth Street, New York 4

Whatsoever is conducive to unity is merciful and from the divine bounty itself. Every universal affair is divine. Everything which conduces to separation and estrangement is satanic because it emanates from the purposes of self. Consider how clearly it is shown in creation that the cause of existence is unity and cohesion and the cause of nonexistence is separation and dissension. By a divine power of creation the elements assemble together in affinity, and the result is a composite being. Certain of these elements have united, and man has come into existence. Certain other combinations produce plants and animals. Therefore, this affinity of the inanimate elements is the cause of life and being. Through their commingling, therefore, human affinity, love and fellowship are made possible. If the elements were not assembled together in affinity to produce the body of man, the higher intelligent forces could not be manifest in the body. But when these elements separate, when their affinity and cohesion are overcome, death and dissolution of the body they have built inevitably follow. Therefore, affinity and unity among even these material elements mean life in the body of man, and their discord and disagreement mean death. Throughout all creation, in all the kingdoms, this law is written: that love and affinity are the cause of life, and discord and separation are the cause of death.

Everything is interlinked. 5

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.

  1. Sockett, Robert. “I Have Seen a Curious Article Which Astonished Me.” 239 Days in America, 20 June 2012, https://239days.com/2012/06/20/i-have-seen-a-curious-article-which-astonished-me/. [return]
  2. For more information, see posting for June 19, 2021: “239 Days in America, Day 70: June 19, 1912 | New York.” https://stevebosserman.micro.blog/2021/06/19/days-in-america.html. Accessed 20 June 2021. [return]
  3. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 93. [return]
  4. 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, 207. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/14#639345813 [return]
  5. ’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 [return]