I just got an interesting email from Baha'i science fiction writer Dana Paxon, whose very informative blog is at:
I reproduce his email, along with his corrected text of the interview between a Rabbi and Abdu'l-Baha, and the letter on the Day of the Covenant from Mirza Abu'l Fazl here, after his letter. If he approves of this, I will keep this material up and remove the original posting from 2006. Needless to say, I welcome any corrections, comments, or suggestions.
Dear Mr. Taylor,
I saw a posting on Facebook of the conversation between a rabbi and 'Abdu'l-Bahá that was given us in Star of the West, and I tracked down your transcription of that wonderful exchange at http://badiblog.blogspot.com/2
I traced back to the Star of the West source and marveled at the work you must have done in scanning in and correcting the results to produce the two presentations included in that blog entry. I have since taken your entry and made a reformatted copy of its contents for my own use, and very few typos or other changes were called for. I took out incidental hard line breaks, resized the typeface, corrected two minor scanning errors, tried to replace nonbreaking spaces with normal spaces, and added diacritical marks where I could. I made no other changes. The result is a Word document which I have also produced in PDF form. I'm enclosing a copy of the Word document as my expression of thanks for your work.
I've been a Bahá'í since 1963, and it's taken me a while to reach the point where I can write usefully (I hope!) about my experience of the Writings. I've just started a blog of my own on various aspects of the Writings (http://www.innermostbridges.b
Again, thank you, and I offer my sincere prayers for your work, your progress, and your prosperity,
Two Articles about the Master
COPIED: March 29, 2016
EDITED: Removing incidental line breaks from source, resizing typeface, correcting scanning errors, replacing nonbreaking spaces, adding diacritical marks for Bahá, Abhá, etc.
Two Articles about the Master
Scanned and proofed by John Taylor, 2006 August 14
Interview between a Rabbi and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
In Praise of the "Greatest Branch" by Abu’l-Fazl
Interview between a Prominent Rabbi and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
from Star of the West, Book II, Vol. III, No. 6, p. 6; June 24, 1912
ENTERING the room the Rabbi saluted, which was answered by ‘Abdu’l Bahá in like manner.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá: "You are most welcome Rabbi."
Rabbi: "I have long desired to meet you."
Rabbi: "Your address yesterday was excellent. I have had the pleasure of hearing you upon two other occasions, but your address of yesterday had an extraordinary universality. You have very clearly established the teachings of brotherhood but I am afraid that although your principles are very lofty they will not be accepted by all the religionists and the workers for peace."
‘Abdu’l-Bahá: "Reality will always be victorious. No one can stand before the onward march of reality. The phenomenal is always conquered by the eternal. All the contingent beings are defeated by the will of heaven. One small Arabian boy can lead two thousand camels in the Sahara. One intelligent Hindu boy can conquer an elephant."
Rabbi: "It is true. In the Bible we have the statement that ‘A little child shall lead them.’”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá: "Truth will always be victorious; therefore it does not know defeat but the people of reality must exert great effort, and if the people of reality neglect to display this effort that is another matter. The people of reality must demonstrate their willingness in this direction. They must realize that the greatest reality of this age is the oneness of the human world. They must forget traditions and imitations of the past. For instance, if we look upon the Catholic religion we see that they believe that an important part is the transubstantiation; that is, the change of the bread and wine into the body of Christ. If we ponder a little we realize that this is a nonessential. It is imitation and the reverse of reality.
"Again, if we look at the Hindus we see that they have made images and worship them as deities, and they have eight million such deities in their temples. It is evident that these are superstitions and imaginations. They worship the cow, the stone, the water and the forces of nature -- all these are imitations of the past and they have no foundation whatever."
Rabbi: "Do you then regard the transubstantiation as being on the same ground as the worshipping of idols?”
'Abdu’l-Bahá: “All these are imitations. They have no reality. As these are the opposite of realities, therefore they have no foundation. Everything that keeps man away from God, is an idol. Everything which detracts man's attention from God is an idol, no matter what it is."
Rabbi: "Then every channel between God and His creature is an idol?”
'Abdu’l-Bahá: "Consider, let us not bind ourselves with imitations. Let us study the condition of the Jews for a moment. When they were in Egypt they were captives; they were poor; they were prisoners in the hand of Pharaoh; they were ignored; they were a dependent people, they were surrounded by all kinds of troubles and vicissitudes; the people looked down upon them; they were considered as outcasts. Then Moses came. He gathered them together; inspired them with the power of unity; imparted to them new life; taught them the laws of God encouraging them in the morals and virtues of humanity; delivered them from the hand of Pharaoh; freed them from the bondage of captivity; educated them, trained them and carried them away from the land of darkness into the holy of holies of light. Their power was increased; their majesty became refulgent; their fame was spread throughout the world, until they were enabled to found the Solomonic sovereignty. In philosophy and art they attained such heights that the philosophers of Greece and Rome traveled long distances to learn from them. Now is it possible to say that to revere and respect these souls is equivalent to the worshipping of idols? We must respect Moses because he achieved a work which no one else could do. It is an evident fact that His Holiness Moses was a channel between God and man. No further proof is required for this. I do not attempt to prove the validity of Moses by pointing to his turning the rod into a serpent; instead I give evident proofs.
"Again you will note that His Highness Christ was a Jew. Ponder well over this matter: The Jews were captives in the hand of the Romans; they were their slaves. From every standpoint they were scattered and impoverished. Nebuchadnezzar carried seventy thousand of them into captivity at Babylon. Even today the tombs of Esther and Daniel are there. And afterwards what did Titus, the Roman Emperor, not do! He entirely destroyed the foundation of the Jewish temple. The effect of the destruction of Titus is manifest up to this time for we see them scattered all over the world. His Holiness Christ appeared and established unity among the Romans, the Greeks, the Chaldeans, the Assyrians, the Europeans and the Americans. He established a bond of unity between all the nations. All the great prophets, the kings and the worthies of the Israelite nation could not make the Persians believe in Moses. All the prophets such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Nehemiah, et al. could not make one Zoroastrian believe in Moses. But one Jew came and many millions believe in Him. He spread His name in the East and in the West. He caused the Bible to be translated in all the languages of the world, and today nearly every home contains a Bible. He demonstrated throughout the world to all the nations of the world that the Israelite people were the chosen people, that the Israelite prophets were the prophets of God, that their books were the looks of God, that their words were the words of God. This is evident. These are not intellectual or traditional evidences but they are such evidences as permit of no discussion. Look at America. You see a Bible in almost every house that you enter. See what Christ has accomplished. Witness what one soul who was crucified has accomplished.
When He was living upon the earth He was alone, ridiculed and rejected by His own people. Almost everybody cursed and ridiculed Him. His own relatives left Him; even His disciples almost abandoned Him; they placed upon His head a crown of thorns and paraded Him over the streets, and finally they crucified Him. He was alone! alone! but the traces of His work and the signs of His message have filled the world. Man must be just. After these statements no one can deny the greatness of Christ. Now is it evident to you that all these conditions among the nations are on account of injustice? If they had all been just they would have been united on this principle: that these prophets were channels for the bounty of God, for they were the first teachers of mankind.
"The philosophers are also teachers but all they could do was to teach themselves and a few other souls. But the prophets of God taught the whole world. They trained all the children of men in morals and ethics. Who can say that they failed to accomplish their work, and who would give the names of the philosophers the first place?
Rabbi: "Indeed, indeed you are one of the greatest logicians of the world. Up to this time I have been talking to you as a man; now I will address you as a Rabbi. Your premises and syllogisms do not agree. It is not correct to say that Christ has accomplished all these things for but few of his teachings were accepted until about three hundred and fifty years after his crucifixion—“
‘Abdu’l Bahá here exclaimed: “I understand, I understand," and then continued: "His Highness Moses laid the foundation but the result of His teachings became apparent during the time of Solomon. If there had been no Moses there would have been no Solomon. The sovereignty of Solomon was the outcome of the principles of Moses. If there had been no Moses the children of Israel would have been entirely lost, and up to this time they would have been slaves in the land of Pharaoh. Their very name would have disappeared from the page of history. Moses laid down a few principles, but the results of those principles became apparent five hundred years afterward. If an inquirer is just he will realize that Moses laid with His own hand Solomonic universality. Likewise if His Highness Christ had not laid the foundations of Christianity, the evident signs which we see today would not have been realized.
"I scatter the seeds today, six months hence they may become apparent. In the meantime, can anyone deny the germination of these seeds, and when they are grown, repudiate the fact that these plants owe the origin to the seed?”
Rabbi: "Suppose that Christ was the Promised One of the Jews; how did the doctrine of divinity creep in among the Christians?”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá: "Do not look upon the Christians of today. The Christians are today submerged in the sea of imitation. It is evident that man is the highest of God's creatures on the face of the earth. For example, there are certain attributes which are apparent in the mineral kingdom. The vegetable kingdom has the attributes existing in the mineral kingdom but with another attribute, which is the power of growth. The animal has the attributes of the mineral and the vegetable kingdoms but with another attribute, which is the power of instinct. Therefore the animal is a composite of the mineral and vegetable kingdoms, but man has the virtues of the mineral kingdom, the virtues of the vegetable kingdom, the virtues of the animal kingdom and another distinct virtue, which is that of intellect, consequently man is the highest creation of God. He is the peerless creature and in him are contained all the virtues of the human world.
"Christ was the mirror; God was the Sun. The Sun appeared with all its effulgence and splendor in the mirror; that is, the virtues, the perfections and the characteristics of God appeared in Christ. This is what is meant where it is written in the Bible that 'We have created man in our own image.' The perfect man is the visage and image of God, just as the mirror reflects the sun. We can not say that the sun has come down from heaven and has taken a place in the mirror. The sun is eternal, living in its own station. It had no ascent or descent entrance or exit; but the rays and the heat of the sun have become fully reflected in the clear mirror. That is why Christ said the future is in the sun and the sun is in the future. The Sun of Truth reflected itself in the mirrors of Moses and Christ."
Rabbi: "Most wonderful! We must name this divine philosophy the philosophy of ‘Abdu’l Bahá. I am extraordinarily delighted to have had this privilege to talk with you."
‘Abdu’l Bahá: "I am very happy indeed to meet you.
Rabbi: "I hope I will have the pleasure of meeting you again."
'Abdu’l-Bahá: "God willing. May you be under His protection.
In Praise of the "Greatest Branch"
Written by MIRZA ABUL FAZL, November 24, and read in Washington, D. C.
November 26, 1902, at the celebration of the anniversary of the Feast of the Appointment of The Center of the Covenant.
November 26, 1902, at the celebration of the anniversary of the Feast of the Appointment of The Center of the Covenant.
from Star of the West, Book II, Vol. III, No. 14, November 23, 1912
In the Name of God, the Most Holy, the Abhá!
YE beloved of God and His friends! Praise and glorification behoove the holy court of the True One, the Exalted, who has, in this great age and wonderful cycle, primarily caused the shining star of the Blessed Being of the First Point (The Báb) to appear like unto the beaming orb of the morn from the horizon of the world; has rejoiced and revived the creatures through the glad tidings of the advent of the new Day, and the Manifestation of the Glorious Lord. Praise be to God! Who subsequently caused the Sun of the most holy Beauty of El Abhá (Exalted is His Supreme Name!) to dawn forth in the midst of the heaven of power and grandeur. After the disappearance of these two Lights a third Splendor became manifest from the Sinai of Epiphany, and the Orb of the Covenant shone forth from the firmament of beatitude, the apex of exaltation and glory, with the most marvelous effulgence. Through these three shining lights, the darkness of the nations, superstitions, will be dispelled, the dust of discord of the people will be subsided by the showers of mercy descending from the clouds of divine providence; the banner of peace will be hoisted; the mortal world will be clothed in the excellent robe of ideal humanity; the bond of perfect love will be strengthened among contradictory nations and repugnant peoples; and the world, east and west, will become the Paradise of El Abhá and as a garden bringing forth fruits of divine grace. We, therefore, praise Him in such glorification from which the lights of sincerity may gleam forth and scintillate throughout ages and epochs; and we thank Him in such sanctification from which the pure fragrances of meekness and humbleness will be diffused and exhaled with the duration of nights and days!
O ye beloved of God and His friends! This great Day has been assigned to the blessed name of the Lord of the world, the sign of pre-existence, the standard of divine victory among nations, the Light of the heaven and the earth, the point around which the Supreme Concourse revolves, in the kingdom of Names His Holiness, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. (May the life of the creatures be a sacrifice to Him!) Ye are all attracted to his love, united in his servitude, overshadowed under his banner, and are assembled together in this excellent meeting, with rejoiced hearts and shining faces, speaking the praise of the most holy beauty of El Abhá, and uttering the glorification of the Center of His Covenant, His Holiness, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (May the life of the creatures be a sacrifice to Him!)! Ye are all attracted to His love, united in His servitude, overshadowed under His banner, and are assembled together in this excellent meeting, with rejoiced hearts and shining faces, speaking the praise of the Most Holy Beauty of El-Abhá, and uttering the glorification of the Center of His Covenant, His Holiness, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.
How can this servant duly praise and thank God, the Exalted, who hath enabled him to make his tongue fluent in glorifying the Center of the Covenant in this wonderful meeting, in the presence of His chosen ones and friends? Again I praise Him for this wondrous confirmation and glorious success. Verily, He is the Mighty, the Praiseworthy!
How can this weak one befittingly glorify and sanctify a most holy personage with whose name all the ancient and heavenly books are adorned and who has been announced and prophesied, by the tongue of the prophets and chosen ones, from the beginning to the end? Every prophetic page seems like unto a heaven, studded with the beaming stars and shining pearls of the praises of the Orb of the Universe; or like unto a rose garden decked and embellished by the verdant leaves and fragrant flowers of the glorification of the Center of the Covenant. Again we praise Him with such words whereby hearts are cheered and breasts are dilated, and we thank Him in such hymns whereby the light of bliss and beatitude shine forth from the horizon of the hearts!
O ye beloved of God and His friends! Consider how in the second Psalm, David (Peace be upon him!) has announced the appearance of the Son of God in dominion and judgment, and how he hath warned the kings and judges of the earth to serve him! Consider in the fourth chapter of Isaiah how that great prophet has foretold the appearance of the Exalted Branch of the Lord in the utmost beauty and glory, and how God hath appointed him a place of refuge for the saved ones. Consider how Isaiah has spoken in the eleventh chapter of his book that the lofty "Branch" of the Blessed Tree shall appear from the root of David, and shall grow out of the Holy Land; how the spirit of supremacy and power, of counsel and divine wisdom shall rest upon him; the lights of glory and divine grandeur shall beam forth from his shining face; how he shall hoist the pavilion of universal peace and divine equity, and assemble all the various and contradictory nations, including weak and strong, high and low, under the shadow of union and harmony.
Reflect upon the 26th verse of the 30th chapter of the book of Isaiah, how God, the Almighty, has clearly spoken that in the day when Israel shall be saved, and the sins and errors of the heirs of Abraham effaced, the shining moon of the Center of the Covenant shall gleam forth in the utmost glory and splendor, and the beaming lights scintillating from the brilliant face of that dawning place of supremacy and Lordship shall be like unto the Sun of Truth! Consider how, in the first few verses of the 42nd chapter of Isaiah, it is clearly shown that in the last day, God, the Exalted, shall elect the bearer of the banner of His servitude, confer upon him the Holy Spirit of His divinity, unfurl the standard of the Supreme Covenant and Testament in His Name, and shall protect him, with His strong hand, from the deceit of the violators and the devices of the people of rancor; that Servant of the Lord shall become a banner for the people's salvation and a light for hearts and souls; shall restore the blind and deliver the captives; direct those who sit in darkness unto light; place all the creatures under the standard of universal peace, security and absolute emancipation, and make the tongues of all in the East and West fluent in new hymns and wonderful glorifications!
Likewise, consider the 7th chapter of Daniel. First, in the 9th and 10th verses, God hath announced the Manifestation of the Great Lord, the Ancient King, the Most Holy Beauty of Abhá (Glorified is His Supreme Name!) and hath spoken of the founding of the sound religion and manifest law and of the rise of the hosts of chosen ones and holy ones. Then He hath said in the 13th and 14th verses of the same chapter that the Excellent Branch shall be extended from that Ancient Root, and the Spirit of God descended from Heaven shall shine forth from His Beaming Face, and Glory and Kingdom shall be conferred upon Him from God; His command shall influence all nations and multitudes, and His Kingdom shall continue forever.
Likewise, consider the 8th and 9th verses of the chapter of Zechariah, where the great prophet has clearly prophesied that in the day of the Most Great Manifestation, the dawning of the Sun of the Ancient Beauty, God, the Exalted, shall bring about the removal of the nations' iniquity and the elimination of the people's calamities by the rise of that Excellent "Branch" extended from the Pre-existent Root; and He hath made the restoration of the Holy Lands, the covenanted country of the prophets and chosen ones, dependent upon the power of that Blessed being.
Likewise, in the 12th and 13th verses of the 6th chapter of the same book, God, the Exalted, hath explicitly promised Zechariah that in the Day of the Lord's Manifestation the Blessed BRANCH shall grow up out of the Pure Tree of Divinity, shall bear the Glory of the Lord, shall sit and rule upon His Throne, and shall build the Temple of the Divine worship; the banner of universal peace and eternal beatitude shall be hoisted among all mankind through the council of peace held between the BRANCH and the LORD.
Consider the New Testament: in every instant in which His Holiness, Christ (Glory be to Him!) and His eminent disciples have announced the coming of the Kingdom of God, they have spoken of the rising of the Excellent Branch and of the dawning of the Orb of the Covenant. Especially His Holiness, John, has adorned all the prophecies of his Book of Revelation with this Glorious Name, and has clearly stated the appearance of the Covenant of God in the Day of the Lord's Manifestation. He has explicitly said that in that Great Day, the New Holy City shall be illuminated with Lights shining from the Face of the Lord and His appointed Branch; the rivers of wonderful enlightenments, which would impart life to the people of the world and save nations, shall flow forth from the Throne of the Lord and that of the Center of His Covenant. Nay, rather, he hath elucidated that those written in the Book of Life of the Excellent BRANCH shall be saved, and those overshadowed under His Ancient Standard shall inherit everlasting glory.
To resume: the tongues of all the prophets sung the praise of His Blessed Name, and the hearts of the chosen ones rejoiced at the announcement of His coming, until that Most Holy Being was born in the Day (May 23, 1844) of the Manifestation of the "First Point" (Exalted is His Supreme Name!). The birthday of the "Branch extended from the Ancient Root;" coincided with the day of the appearance of the Lord's precursor and the "Mystery of God" was realized by this coincidence. In His childhood He was nurtured under the favor of the Most Holy Beauty of El-Abhá, until, at the age of nine, He escorted the Ancient Beauty (Bahá’u’lláh) from Teheran to Baghdad. He shared with the Beauty of El-Abhá in every calamity and affliction during their exile from Baghdad to Constantinople, Adrianople, and finally to Acca (the prison), and endured unbearable sufferings. The Tongue of Grandeur was always uttering the greatness of His station, and appointed His Holiness, the Excellent Branch, to the position of the "Center of the Covenant." In a Tablet revealed by the Beauty of El Abhá to 'Abdu’l-Bahá, while the latter was in Beirut, He said: "We have appointed thee a protection to all the creatures, a guardian to all in the heaven and the earth, and a fortress to those who believe in God, the One, the Omniscient!"
O ye beloved of God! How can I duly praise the Lord of mankind, the Center of the Covenant (May the life of all the creatures be a sacrifice to him! and how can I explain the loftiness of his station! For he is the one whom all the divine Manifestations have praised and extolled.
Let us now offer our humble efforts in praising and glorifying God, the Exalted, who has honored us by serving the Center of His Covenant, hath made us know in his name, and hath placed us under the shadow of his glorious banner. We thank Him in such praises whereby the faces of the steadfast ones are illuminated!
Praise be to God, the King of the Heaven and the earth!
(signed) Abul Fazl