‘Abdu’l-Bahá Addresses a Persecuted Minority 1
THREE LANGUAGES, FROM THREE corners of the Earth, reverberated in rapid succession off the walls shortly after 8 p.m. on Monday, October 7, 1912. The sonorous Persian of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá started the rhythm. Fluid English followed from the tongue of Dr. Ameen Fareed, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s interpreter. As each string of Fareed’s words fell silent, the Reverend Kunio Kodahira intoned the same sentence in Japanese for his congregation’s ears at the Japanese Independent Church at 552 Sycamore Street in Oakland, California. …
Five years later at the Japanese Independent Church, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá rose to speak to an audience comprised of a persecuted minority, something he had, by now, done many times in the United States. “I feel a keen sense of joy being present among you this evening,” he began, summoning almost exactly the same words as he had used back on April 23, in front of the black audience at the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church in Washington, DC. “It is for some time that I have entertained a special desire to meet some of the friends from Japan, for, as I have often observed, the Japanese nation has achieved extraordinary progress in a short space of time — such progress, such achievements, have astonished the world.”
A spiritless body is a dead one. Indeed, its perfection depends on the acquisition of spiritual capacity and divine civilization. 2
Some clergymen and professors came to visit ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in the morning in His second-floor room. Some of the Master’s words to the pastor of the First Congregational Church in Oakland were these: ‘If a man is not a clergyman and is unprejudiced, it is not a cause for wonder. But if a man is a clergyman and is not prejudiced, he certainly deserves praise and glory.’
At the public meeting ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spoke about the material progress of the world:
These countries have reached the apex of material progress. They are like bodies in the utmost health and form which are, however, devoid of spirit. A spiritless body is a dead one. Indeed, its perfection depends on the acquisition of spiritual capacity and divine civilization.
The Master remarked repeatedly:
The people of America have a great capacity for the acquisition of spiritual qualities but they are immersed in material affairs. They are like machines which move uncontrollably; they move but are devoid of spirit. They will attain perfection when the spirit of divine civilization is breathed into them and this material civilization becomes infused with spiritual refinement.
The Master went to the public park in the afternoon, which He appreciated very much, especially when He went near the lake and saw the remnants of a few marble pillars left over from the destruction caused by the great earthquake of 1906. He remarked, ‘The world and its condition will change to such a degree and the Bahá’í Cause will prevail to such an extent that nothing but a remnant – like these pillars – will remain of the previous order.’ Sitting on a bench, the Master spoke about the sensitivity of the vegetable kingdom:
Although sensitivity in plants is slight as compared with that manifested in animals, within their own kingdom they have sensitivity and vegetable spirit. Cut across a conical shape, sprinkle a little sulphate of copper on it, add a little water and then observe it with a magnifier. You will find its components rushing toward the center. Their sensitivity is apparent in their effort to reach the center until they form a cylinder.
In the evening the Master spoke to the assembled friends at His residence about the ascendancy of spiritual power and the divine life of humanity. The friends, both new and old, were deeply impressed and attracted to Him. At the end of each meeting the friends, one by one, came into His presence to beg His assistance and blessings. Their state was such that it cannot be described.
25 September 1912, Talk at Second Divine Science Church, 3929 West Thirty-eighth Avenue, Denver, Colorado 3
… Today in Persia and the Orient you will find the followers of Bahá’u’lláh united in the closest ties of fellowship and love. They have abandoned religious prejudices and have become as one family. When you enter their meetings, you will find Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Zoroastrians, Jews and representatives of other beliefs present, all conjoined in a wonderful unity without a trace of bigotry or fanaticism, and the light of the oneness of the world of humanity reflected in their faces. Day by day they are advancing, manifesting greater and still greater love for each other. Their faith is fixed upon the unification of mankind, and their highest purpose is the oneness of religious belief. They proclaim to all humanity the sheltering mercy and infinite grace of God. They teach the reconciliation of religion with science and reason. They show forth in words and deeds the reality of love for all mankind as the servants of one God and the recipients of His universal bounty. These are their thoughts, their beliefs, their guiding principles, their religion. No trace of religious, racial, patriotic or political prejudice can be found among them, for they are real servants of God and obedient to His will and command.
- Menon, Jonathan. “‘Abdu’l-Bahá Addresses a Persecuted Minority.” 239 Days in America, 5 Oct. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/10/05/oaklands-japanese-independent-church-welcomes-abdul-baha/. [return]
- ’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=8#section196 [return]
- 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, 341-342. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/26#685192122 [return]