Interest in Every Human Soul

January 10, 2022
Interest in Every Human Soul

 Impressions on ‘Abdu’l-Baha

Interest in Every Human Soul

Source: ‘Abbas Effendi’, by Ethel Stevens pp. 1067 and 1070

Ethel Stevens (q.v.), who later as Lady Drower became the foremost authority on the Mandeans of Iraq, stayed six months in Haifa and during this time had the opportunity to observe at close quarters both ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and the Bahá’í community. In relation to her stay in Haifa, she wrote a novel, {The Mountain of God} (1911, see p. 50) and also the following statement in, an article for the magazine {Fortnightly Review}:

………. Any day in Haifa you may meet an old man whose flowing white hair, gathered up beneath his snowy turban, proclaims his aristocratic birth, accompanied at the slight distance prescribed by respect by Persian followers with folded hands. His white beard, his blue eyes slightly flecked with brown, his commanding bearing, his dignified walk, his keen kindly face, all proclaim him to be someone of importance and distinction. He wears the simple robe of white linen and grey linsey customary in Persia. This man is Abbas Effendi, or Abdul Baha, the recognised head of the Bahai movement throughout the world.

………. Bahais have been accused by their Persian enemies of working an enchantment on those who visit them, so that an intoxication, an exultation like that of the hashish smoker, seizes their intellect and enchains their senses, lifting them into a dream-world of illusion. And anyone who has come into close contact with them, as I have been permitted to do during the past six months, is inclined to endorse this, for it is impossible to be with them for long without feeling the infection of this strange enthusiasm, this spiritual hashish, which has sent men to martyrdom with smiles on their faces and joyous ecstasy in their hearts…

………. Abbas Effendi … had been carefully trained by his father to assume the leadership of the Bahai community and to become the head of the movement He has in the highest degree that great gift which we call personality. His readily-given sympathy, his understanding of human nature, his power of interesting himself in every human soul which asks his advice and help, have made him passionately beloved by his people. Above all, he has that subtler quality of spirituality which is felt rather than understood by those with whom he comes into contact…

………. [‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s] house is simply built and simply furnished … the walls are bare and white, the woodwork is painted white, and the chairs and divans ranged around the room are covered with an unpretentious light-coloured cotton holland material.

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