Saturday, November 1, 2008

Thoughts Shared with Residents of Chicago

On November 1, 1912, Abdu'l-Baha spoke at the home of a Chicago resident, Mrs. Corinne True. Here is the first half of what he said:

I am well pleased with every person here this evening and most happy in meeting the friends of God and maidservants of the Merciful. Praise be to God! The faces are radiant, and the hearts are attracted to the Kingdom of Abhá. Faith is evident in the countenances of all, and this is a source of joy. The Blessed Perfection, Bahá’u’lláh, endured hardships and vicissitudes nearly fifty years. There was no ordeal or difficulty He did not experience, yet He endured all in perfect joy and happiness.
Those who beheld Him were assured of His great happiness, for no trace of sadness or sorrow was ever visible upon His face. Even in prison He was like a king enthroned in majesty and greatness, and He ever bore Himself with supreme confidence and dignity. When the officers and grandees of the government were presented to Him, they became respectful at once. His majesty and dignity were awe-inspiring. Remember: He was a prisoner—He was in prison. He endured ordeals and calamities for the sole purpose of illuminating us and in order that our hearts might be attracted to the Kingdom of God, our faces become radiant with the glad tidings of God; in order that we might be submerged in the ocean of lights and be as brilliant and shining candles, illuminating the dark recesses and flooding the regions with brightness. Now, as I look around, I observe that your faces—praise be to God!—are shining, your hearts are filled with the love of God, and you are thinking of service in the Cause of God. Therefore, I am very happy to be here, and I hope that this happiness will be with you always—an eternal condition.
We visited San Francisco and from there went to Los Angeles. In these places we found most devoted friends. Truly zealous and aglow with the fire of the love of God, their sole purpose is ever to serve the Kingdom of Abhá. I hope that you may serve even more faithfully and take precedence over all the other friends. May the fire of the love of God be so enkindled in Chicago that all the cities in America shall be ignited. This is my hope.
My third visit here expresses the degree of my longing to see you and the extent of my love. It was thought that I should go direct from San Francisco to New York and thence to the Orient; but impelled by excessive love, I have visited Chicago again to associate with you in fellowship and fragrance. I hope that these three visits may be most productive of future results. May you all become signs of unity; may each one be a standard of Bahá’u’lláh, each one shine as a star, each one become precious and worthy in the Kingdom of God. May you attain such a condition of spirituality that the people will be astounded, saying, “Verily, these souls are proofs in themselves of the validity of Bahá’u’lláh, for through His training they have been completely regenerated. These souls are peerless; they are truly the people of the Kingdom; they are distinguished above the people about them. This is in reality a proof of Bahá’u’lláh. Behold how educated and illumined they have become.”
When this Cause appeared in the Orient, the friends and followers were self-sacrificing to the utmost, forfeiting everything. It is a significant and wonderful fact that, although the most precious thing on earth is life, yet twenty thousand people offered themselves willingly in the pathway of martyrdom. Recently, in Yazd two hundred of the Bahá’í friends were cruelly slain. They went to the place of martyrdom in the utmost ecstasy of attraction, smiling with joy and gratitude upon their persecutors. Some of them offered sweetmeats to their executioners, saying, “Taste of this in order that with sweetness and enjoyment you may bestow upon us the blessed cup of martyrdom.” Among these beloved and glorified ones were a number of women who were subjected to the most cruel manner of execution. Some were cut to pieces; and their executioners, not content with such butchery, set others on fire, and their bodies were consumed. Throughout these terrible ordeals not a single soul among the Bahá’í friends objected or recanted. They offered no resistance, although the Bahá’ís in that city were most courageous and strong. In physical strength and fortitude one of these Bahá’ís could have withstood many of their enemies, but they accepted martyrdom in the spirit of complete resignation and nonresistance. Many of them died, crying out, “O Lord! Forgive them; they know not what they do. If they knew, they would not commit this wrong.” In the throes of martyrdom they willingly offered all they possessed in this life.
It is stated in certain prophecies that when the standard of God appears in the East, its signs will become evident in the West. This is truly good news and glad tidings for you. I hope that this promise may be fulfilled in you and that all may be able to testify to the spirit and truth of the prophetic announcement, saying, “Verily, the standard of God did appear in the East, and its tokens have become resplendent in the West.” This realization will be a source of great joy to all the friends in the Orient who anticipate the good news and await the glad tidings from the land of the Occident. They look forward to hearing that the friends in the West have become firm and steadfast, that they have distinguished themselves by establishing the oneness of the world of humanity, that they are even offering their lives for the foundations of international peace, that they have become the lights of the Kingdom and have proved to be the manifestations of divine mercy, that the friends in the West are the expression of the favors of the Blessed Perfection, the very stars of the bestowal of God, blessed trees and flowers in the garden of His purity and sanctity. Any good news from here is the cause of rejoicing in the East and a source of deep gratitude to them. They hold a feast and praise God for the blessed tidings. If the occasion demanded, they would give their lives for you without the least hesitation. The friends in the East are all united and agreed.

The above passages were taken from the book "The Promulgation for Universal Peace." The rest of the talk presented by Abdu'l-Baha on Nov. 1, 1912 will appear in my next post.

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