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Montreal, August 31, 2021 – The period between August 31 and September 9, marks 109th anniversary of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s journey to Montreal and 178 years after His birth on May 23, 1844! A life, abundant, spacious and immeasurable which cannot adequately described.

He was eight years old when He was taken to the dungeon of Tehrán to see His Father under the weight of a heavy chain. From that tender age until the age of 77 when His work was done in this realm of existence, He lived a life of total self-abnegation, of unbroken, unqualified service to God and humankind.

His Father Bahá’u’lláh, bestowed upon Him many titles such as «the Greatest Branch», «the Mystery of God», «the Master» but once the responsibility of the leadership of the Bahá’í Community was given to Him, He chose to be known as «’Abdu’l-Bahá», the servant of Glory-Bahá.

Once an American scientist and President of Stanford University, Dr. David Starr Jordan (1851-1931), remarked that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá walked «the mystic path with practical feet, … He will surely unite the East and the West» and a Biblical scholar from Oxford University, Dr. T.K. Cheyne (1841-1915), spoke of Him as «the ambassador to Humanity».

Since His birth, the world of humanity has been revolutionized. Within a few hours after His birth, the first telegraphic message was sent from Washington to Baltimore containing this remarkable phrase from the Bible suggested to Samuel Morse by Annie Ellsworth, the young daughter of the U.S. Commissioner of Patents. She opened the Bible apparently and saw the following sentence from Numbers 23:23, «Behold, What hath God wrought!». This was the message which was sent across continent for the first time in history of telecommunications!

‘Abdu’l-Bahá was 67 years old when He undertook His two and a half years journey to Europe and North America on August 1910. He was not in good health, a victim of consumption from early age, He had to stay longer than He had planned, in cities such as Paris and Montreal, to recuperate. He was a prisoner and exile practically all His life nevertheless the moment He gained His freedom following the Turkish revolution in July 1908, He decided to carry the Message of His Father to the West.

Edward G. Brown was the first person to bring the Bahá’í Faith to the attention of Americans during the lifetime of Bahá’u’lláh, then a Syrian Christian Physician by the name of Ibrahim Khayr’ulláh who subsequently became a Bahá’í and migrated to the United States propagated the Faith there. Ibrahim arrived at New York in December 1892 and moved to Chicago in February 1894 where the name of Bahá’u’lláh mentioned during the first Parliament of Religions in September 1898. The first person of Christian background who accepted the Message in North America was Thornton Chase who met ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in prison of Akká. In his remarkable book «In Galilee», Thornton Chase writes of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá: «He is the Master! He is the Christ-Spirit of this great age, He is the Anointed One! The Appointed of His Father, that Father was the Greatest Manifestation of God – Bahá’u’lláh. He is the Centre of the Covenant; the healer and satisfier of longing hearts! The king of Servitude to Humanity!».

Thornton Chase passed away when the Master reached the shores of Pacific in 1912. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá gave a short talk at the gravesite in Inglewood Cemetery, Los Angeles and mentioned that  Thornton Chase was the first American Bahá’í whose services will ever be remembered in the future. He advised the friends to visit his grave and lay flowers on behalf of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.

When ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s steps touched the North American shores, there were only a handful of Bahá’ís in the continent among them the young May Ellis Boles who became a Bahá’í in Paris.

Kate Cowan Ives (1863-1927), originally from Newfoundland was the first woman in the Occident to accept the Bahá’í Faith and remain steadfast in her new found religion. The first Canadian Bahá’í however, was Edith Magee and her mother Esther Annie from London, Ontario who attended the first Parliament of Religions in September 1898. She managed to bring to the Faith many members of her family and remain active in their locality.

Photo: 'Abdu'l-Bahá in Green Acre with His translator and His diarist Mahmúd just before leaving for Montreal.

…. To be continued

 

 

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