All the forces of the Universe . . .
Posted by Sen on May 4, 2010
This letter from Abdu’l-Baha to Mr. and Mrs. MacNutt, written in July 1919, is interesting for its mention of an incident during Abdu’l-Baha’s time in America, when one of his entourage used his position to beg for money, for its characterisation of the fruitlessness activities of the followers of Kheiralla and Mirza Muhammad Ali as foam on the ocean waves, for the loving mention of Lua Getsinger, who had died three years earlier, and not least because it is one of the few works of Abdu’l-Baha translated by Shoghi Effendi.
The letter is published in Star of the West in November 1920 (Vol. 11, number 14, p. 240). It has not been published in English since then, so far as I can ascertain, except for one paragraph beginning “Today, the Lord of Hosts is the defender …” which is included in Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, page 228. The Persian text is published in Ma’ideh Asmani but this does not include the postscript which is attached to the English translation. <
I have put some notes in the first of the ‘comments’ to this page: please feel free to add any further information you may have.
To their honors Mr. and Mrs. Howard MacNutt, Brooklyn, N. Y. Upon them be Baha’o’llah el-Abha!
O ye two blessed souls!
Your letter was received. Praise be to God! ye are glad, ye are full of joy and fragrance, and are safe and protected under the shelter of the Merciful One.
Today those who are firm in the Covenant are soaring by the Bounties of the Holy Spirit in lofty regions, while the wavering ones are depressed, dejected and afflicted with a thousand pains and calamities. This is because the confirmations of the Abha Kingdom have been cut off from them. They have been deprived of the Light of the Sun of Truth and have had no share from the breezes of the Holy Spirit. They resemble those souls who arose to agitate the minds of men after the time of Christ. Each one, by every subtle means, gathered around himself a group of souls, but all were eventually led to face disappointment, loss and failure. This was because the result of their principles was like unto a tree destitute of roots, or like the ocean foam. A rootless tree, no matter how tall and hardy it may seem, will ultimately wither away, and the ocean foam, however formidable it may appear, shall at last vanish and disappear.
Arius, the patriarch at Constantinople, gathered around himself a million and a half followers. He even secured the adherence of the Emperor, but as his basis was not secure, he vanished and was exterminated. What then will the violators do who are only a small number of feeble and insignificant souls? For thirty years they have endeavored and at last they succeeded in drawing around them a few thoughtless persons and some unbalanced and undignified women. Soon ye shall see that even this small group will scatter.
How strange it is in America! When I went to Green Acre, I saw an idolatrous East Indian, insignificant, unpleasant and offensive in appearance – whom even animals would avoid; he had gathered around himself a group of people, had chosen a distant tree, and every morning before sunrise would run and hasten barefooted toward it, accompanied by a number of women. They would reach it tired and exhausted, and there would fall upon the ground as if they were worshipping an idol from among the idols of India. After several days had elapsed, by subtle methods he begged a few dollars from those persons and then returned to India.
In brief, my purpose is to show that whatever call is raised or proclaimed in America, a group will doubtless gather around it; while, on the other hand, the Oriental Friends (Bahais) are firm like unto the immovable mountains. For thirty years have the violators striven to undermine the Cause, but they have failed even to attract to their side their own kindred and relatives. That is why, undoubtedly, in Persia, twenty thousand Bahais have been martyred and severe tests have been brought about. Yet, praise be to God! not even a single soul among the Friends wavered. The violators in America do nothing but flatter, seduce and show a love that is insincere. Consider what they did to poor Lua (Getsinger) and how unfaithful they have been to her!
In short, take into consideration the outcomes and not the beginning. Every follower of error mentions the name of Truth, and even the enemies of Christ have declared in the name of God that Christ was a liar and an infidel – that He destroyed the foundation of honor, that He was the breaker of the Sabbath day and the associate of immoral persons. Although outwardly this charge was upholding the Cause of the Old Testament, and took into consideration the Religion of God, yet the underlying purpose was nothing but to overthrow the Divine Structure and to debase the exalted Christ. Although on the surface they seemed to defend the Cause of God, yet inwardly their purpose was manifest error.
Finally, ye know how considerate I have been with some souls how much love and kindness I have shown them and at last found out that the Cause of God would be disgraced. I refused the three thousand pounds which ye gathered for the expense of my travel to America, and during my sojourn in that land did not accept anything from any person. Then I saw that secretly and for varied motives, unworthy actions were being manifested. Consider my feelings! My purpose was to demonstrate the independence and contentment of the Servants of God. Ye know that I did not accept anything from any person and acted in accordance with the admonition of Christ, who said that whenever ye leave a city, shake off even its dust from your shoes. Notwithstanding that unworthy behavior, I was still patient. All were my guests. I daily paid their expenses, showed them the utmost loving consideration and then paid fully to all of them their entire expenses. Up to the present time, after all this assistance and love, this has been my reward. What will be the recompense of those who have not shown this love and consideration?
In brief: The Covenant is like unto the ocean which preserves Bahai Unity, and these souls are like unto the foam upon it. They manifest a temporary activity, but soon, like unto Judas Iscariot and his associates and those who approved of his conduct, they shall be completely forgotten. The ocean of the Covenant, on the other hand, is eternally surging, for it preserves Bahai Unity.
At present arise ye with all your power to promulgate the Covenant and expound these matters to those who are weak and feeble and tell them that communities after Christ have opposed this clear and explicit declaration when He said to Peter: “Thou art the rock and upon this rock I shall build My Temple,” and have thus been wholly deprived of the breaths of the Holy Spirit and have been ruined and exterminated.
Today, the Lord of Hosts is the defender of the Covenant, the forces of the Kingdom protect it, heavenly souls tender their services, and heavenly angels promulgate and spread it broadcast. If it is considered with insight, it will be seen that all the forces of the Universe, in the last analysis serve the Covenant. In the future it shall be made evident and manifest. In view of this fact, what can these weak and feeble souls achieve? Hardy plants that are destitute of roots and are deprived of the outpourings of the cloud of mercy will not last. What then may be expected from the young weeds?
Consider what a commotion the Theosophists have produced in Europe and America. At present their influence is waning, for their foundation was not as strong as it should be. What then will the violators do?
The days I spent as a guest at your home will never be forgotten, for through the Divine Bestowals and the breaths of the Holy Spirit, Abdul-Baha was so stirred that the effect will not pass from memory. I pray God that those days may be renewed. Strive as much as ye are able not to sell that house; let it remain permanently a sign (or memorial) of yourselves. I often think of you and desire that you become a hotly enkindled flame, bestowing heat and light upon the surrounding regions. Not until the power of heat is intensified in the body of man, will growth and development take place as they should.
I supplicate and entreat to the Abha Kingdom and beg again for ye a fresh confirmation. I beseech for Mr. MacNutt the fluency of Peter and the eloquence of Paul.
Convey on my behalf the utmost love and kindness to the two respected souls, Victor Harvell and Roy Herrick. My hope is that they may be confirmed in service to the Kingdom of God and may secure every day a new power.
Upon ye be Baha El Abha!
(Signed) Abdul-Baha Abbas.
P. S. Thy last letter, dated July 21st, 1919, has been received. It imparted the glad tidings of the promulgation of the Word of God in those regions. For Abdul Baha no joy and pleasure remain save in the glad tidings of the exaltation of the Word of God. Therefore as thou hast written of the efforts put forth by the friends for the diffusion of the Divine Fragrance and hast mentioned that thy time is confined to raising the Call of the Kingdom and consecrated in service to the Cause of God, this news was considered as glad tidings, and my hope is that thou mayest attain remarkable confirmations and mighty assistance. He says that whosoever draws a span nearer to God, Divine Providence will approach a meter toward him. Assuredly if man rises as he ought to in service to the Kingdom, the Spirit of the Divine Kingdom will encompass him.
Concerning the book about which thou hast written in thy letter: – It is highly suitable for thee to write such a book, and if this effort is realized, it is highly acceptable. Convey on my behalf to the respected maid servant of God, Mrs. MacNutt, the utmost love and kindness. If the principle of amity and unity, which is one of the principles of His Holiness Baha’o’llah, is strengthened among the friends – and if firmness in the Covenant renders the breakers of the Covenant hopeless and at a loss, this like unto a magnetic power will attract Abdul-Baha to America.
(Translated by Shoghi Rabbani, Behjeh, Acca, Palestine, July 24th, 1919.
To the Spiritual Assembly of Los Angeles (Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 210), also translated by Shoghi Effendi, and other tablets in Selections from page 208 to 224.
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