Recent Articles
  • The Equality of Men and Women

    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.

  • Traditions Differ From Truth

    Knowledge of the truth is the goal of religions. Its progressive revelation in pro- portions corresponding to human spiritual capacity should not be a cause for discord and strife between people.

  • Movement and Life

    In December 1911, ‘Abdu’l- Bahá returned from His tour in London and Paris to spend the winter months in the city of Alexandria and prepare for His journey to America and Canada the following year. The flow of visitors to His residence continued all through the months of the winter…

  • The Springtime of the Soul Returns

    ‘A bdu’l-Bahá’s stay in Paris for the months of October and November 1911 afforded His hearers the pleasure of daily talks in which He discussed various topics related to the principles of Bahá’u’lláh. At the beginning of His visit, on 15 October, He gave a talk about the regularity of the renewal of the divine […]

  • Universal Love

    ‘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

The Dawning-Points of Light


t. John’s Westminster: Introduction

On 17 September (2011), the local Baha'i community of Westminster hosted a meeting of prayers, music and stories at
St. John's, Smith Square, a full century after 'Abdu'l-Baha spoke at the church. (Copyright The Baha’i World News)

“On September 17th, ‘Abdu’l- Bahá at the request of the venerable Archdeacon of Westminster addressed the congregation of Saint John the Divine after evening service. With a few warm words characteristic of his whole attitude Archdeacon Wilber- force introduced the revered Messenger from the East, who had crossed seas and coun- tries on his Mission of Peace and Unity for which he had suffered forty years of captivity and persecution…. The Congregation was pro- foundly moved, and following the Archdeacon’s example knelt to receive the blessing of the Servant of God—who stood with extended arms—his wonderful voice rising and falling in the silence with the power of his invocation. As the Archdeacon said: ‘Truly the East and the West have met in this sacred place tonight.’…”1

This is the second public talk given by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in London during His travels in Europe in the summer and fall of 1911. As the visitors of this site will remember, His first talk was about the unity of mankind. In that talk He declared that a genuine unification of humanity nec- essitates taking a number of steps. He has assimilated these steps to “Seven Candles” that will illumine the darkened horizons of the world:

“In this day, however, means of communication have multiplied, and the five continents of the earth have virtually merged into one…. In like manner all the members of the human family, whether peoples or governments, cities or villages, have become increasingly interdependent. For none is self-sufficiency any longer possible, inasmuch as political ties unite all peoples and nations, and the bonds of trade and industry, of agriculture and education, are being strengthened every day. Hence the unity of all mankind can in this day be achieved. Verily this is none other but one of the wonders of this wondrous age, this glorious century. Of this past ages have been deprived, for this century—the century of light—has been endowed with unique and unprecedented glory, power and illumination. Hence the miraculous unfolding of a fresh marvel every day. Eventually it will be seen how bright its candles will burn in the assemblage of man.”

“Behold,” He further explains, “how its light is now dawning upon the world’s darkened horizon. The first candle is unity in the political realm, the early glimmerings of which can now be discerned. The second candle is unity of thought in world undertakings, the consummation of which will erelong be witnessed. The third candle is unity in freedom which will surely come to pass. The fourth candle is unity in religion which is the cornerstone of the foundation itself, and which, by the power of God, will be revealed in all its splendour. The fifth candle is the unity of nations—a unity which, in this century, will be securely established, causing all the peoples of the world to regard themselves as citizens of one common fatherland. The sixth candle is unity of races, making of all that dwell on earth peoples and kindreds of one race. The seventh candle is unity of language, i.e., the choice of a universal tongue in which all peoples will be instructed and converse. Each and every one of these will inevitably come to pass, inasmuch as the power of the Kingdom of God will aid and assist in their realization.”2

These words indicate that the process of uniting humanity must involve a gradual change if it is to lead to an appropriate and permanent unity.

From one perspective, it would seem that in His second talk, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá is developing the theme of His first talk, and introducing one more feature of this gradual change—He is endeavouring to bring about a kind of unity of thought around a controversial subject that determines the attitudes one takes on many issues in life, a point that has long divided the minds of men and women, and still at present continues to disperse the attention and cause contention between the followers of religion and those who are atheists.

This talk also proves to all concerned parties no matter what their respective position that godhood should not be a subject of controversy among people, because it is out of the reach of human thinking, whether based on senses or on reason. All that humans imagine of God, whether positive or negative, is vain imaginings and the creation of fictions which have no relationship to the reality of God, and all parties are in a sense equally submerged in this falsehood. They would do better to abandon their current attitude, and accept the clear truth where the proofs of the holy writings and those deduced from the laws of nature meet: This is that the reality of God is inaccessible to the human mind. Thus they will end this long lived dispute, and agree on the fact that it is impossible for the human faculty to know the reality of God, as illustrated in ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s talk.

Only the pure hearts of the Manifestations of God can reflect the Inspiration, Will and Attributes of the Divine. Thus, God reveals Himself to human beings through His Manifestations in a manner and degree suitable to human beings and the degree of their knowledge.

Despite the depth of this subject, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá makes it accessible to everyone by simplifying philosophical complications and not limiting His arguments to those prescribed in the holy books or those deduced by the intellect alone, thus rallying all to a unified thinking based on the truth while free of complication, affectation or crassness.

In general, this talk inspires the need to have a second closer look into the traditional understandings of religions, which seem to have only touched the surface of those sources of spiritual truths. Religious traditions have overemphasized their attachment to the letter of the past revelations. Today, there is a new awareness that calls for a new attempt to discover—through the light of present knowledge—the essential truths still hidden in the past messages in a revision similar to that which reformed modern science.