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    When ‘Abdu’l-Bahá talked about the problems and challenges humanity must deal with during His travels in Europe and the United States and Canada from 1910 to 1913, He brought up the equality of men and women—a question that, where it has been unaddressed, is causing a crisis in society (and families) and consequently a threat to the social structure.

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    ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, while on visit to the city of Paris in 1911, more than once addressed the subject of the soul in His public talks. He pointed out in particular its spiritual nature and its essential effect on material life, with emphasis too on its role in establishing a unity of mankind for whose realization in this enlightened age all past religions participated in preparing the way.

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The Centenary

Hasten, hasten to friendship

‘A bdu’l-Bahá sailed on the 11 August 1911 on the S.S. Corsica for the French port of Marseilles. He spent a few days resting at the then famous health resort of Thonon-les-Bains in the eastern region of France on its borders with Switzerland.

Informal picture of 'Abdu'l-Bahá with Pauline Morse in His arms, Green Acre, United States of America, August 1912 (Reproduced with permission of the Bahá'í International Community)

Although His brief stop in Thonon-les- Bains was not pub- licly announced, as it was not His des- tination, news of His stay there reached some of the Bahá’ís. As in Egypt earlier, these followers of the Bahá’í Faith hastened to meet Him and to be in His presence, and benefit from His spiritual guidance.

On 27 August He gave the below cited talk to the group of believers gathered a- round Him, and on 9 September it was pu- blished in its entirety by the main Egyptian newspaper at that time—Al-Ahram—with a brief introduction by the chief editor.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá gave His talk that day in the Arabic language. To our knowledge this is the first provisional translation into Eng- lish of that address. (It is, of course, im- possible to convey the exquisiteness of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Arabic and the beauty of His rhyming style.) The brief introductory note by the chief editor of Al-Ahram mentions the importance of this address—that it “illustrates the personality of the great visitor of Egypt who has been received in the West with great esteem for the humanitarian ideas he is calling for.” A passage from that newspaper article translated into English reads as follows:

“After staying in Egypt—for not a short time—during which period our correspondents wrote often about Him, His reverence ‘Abbás Effendi the head of the Bahá’í Faith travelled to Europe, where the newspapers wrote about Him extensively and the people as well as the scholars visited Him in troops. Today we received by mail a message from a well known orientalist who was in Thonon-les-Bains; we are reproducing it hereafter in full in order to allow the public in the East to become acquainted with this great leader.”

LATEST ARTICLE: Bringing Oneself
to Account in the Scale of Divine
SECTION: The Bahá’í Faith

‘Abdu’l-Bahá often begins His talks with a concrete event, and then gradually moves to the more abstract concepts and complicated ideas. He in- variably keeps His arguments spiritually const- ructed and based on statements from the sacred text and scientific evidence and laws in a manner that suits all tastes and does not raise objections or permit disagreement. The talks usually treat one of several aspects of a subject, leaving the rest to future occasions, in order to give His listeners the ease of a focused hearing.

The talk:

“Till when shall this slumber last? Till when this backsliding? Till when this ignorance and blindness? Till when this heedlessness and suffering? Till when this despotism and tyranny? Till when this adherence to unsound illusions? Till when this hatred and division? Till when these disputes and strife? Till when racial prejudice? Till when national prejudice? Till when political prejudice? Till when religious prejudice? ‘Hath not the time come, for those who believe, to humble their hearts at the warning of God?’1 Hath God put seals on their hearts, hath their sight been afflicted by the blur of oppression? Have not the souls become aware that God hath poured down His emanations over all? He hath fashioned the creation by His Omnipotence and provided for all by His Mercy. He hath educated all by His Godhood: ‘No defect canst thou see in the creation of the God of Mercy: Repeat the gaze: Seest thou a single flaw?’ 2

“Let us follow God’s excellent policy and good dealing, His grace and munificence. Let us be connected as kinsfolk and abandon inequity and oppression. Let us be merged as water with wine. Let us be united as one soul. Never shall we find a policy superior to God’s policy. Never shall we find anything that suits the world of humanity better than the effusions of God. A good example have ye in God, the Exalted. Change not His favour unto you which is absolute friendship. O servants of God, it behooves you to abandon contention and to establish friendship, love, equity and justice.

“O people, the bygone centuries have passed away and the mat of hatred and enmity hath been folded up inasmuch as this century is radiated with resplendent lights, dazzling effusions, evident effects and brilliant signs. Light dispels darkness, light heals pain, light bids friendship come and chases discord away. Thus minds have discerned and spirits understood that the divine religions are built upon human virtues that include affection and love to all, and unity and accord between people.

“O people, are ye not from the same lineage? Are ye not the branches and leaves of the same lofty tree? Are ye not under the all-encompassing merciful eye of God and immersed in the ocean of His clemency? Are ye not the servants of the same God? Are ye in any doubt that all the Prophets are from God and all the laws from His Word? Are ye in doubt that God has sent Them solely to educate human beings and discipline them and bring them up gradually to the heights of success and prosperity? It is established and proven that the Prophets were chosen out of Mercy for the world and not for harbouring ill will towards others. They all called the people to the right path and laid hold on the sure handle, until They saved the lower nations from the depths of ignorance and blindness and brought them to the apex of intelligence and virtue.

The Far-Stretching River

A boundless river—rain that came down from heaven fresh and shining, a river that overflows again and again—never does it miss its time, a river that revives the earth and all that is in it, the destination of lovers, a bounty for whoever reaches it, a river that brings fulfillment to whoever drinks from it. Praised be the One Who created it, the Most Excellent of makers.