Monday, February 6, 2017

How the Christian enemy was "thrown out"?

The story of Mr. Frank Frank 

Another of the American friends who visited 'Abdu'l-Bahá in the midst of these restrictions and hardships was Mr. Frank Frank. His first and last names were an indication of his honesty and sincerity-truly befitting, for he was characterized by truthfulness and simplicity of conduct. Having accepted the Cause, and filled with love and anticipation, he had decided to visit the Holy Land. In Port Said he had received a message detaining him until further notice. The local believers had pleaded in his behalf, beseeching 'Abdu'l-Bahá

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for permission, and it had been decided that he could come, but with great caution and vigilance.

On his arrival in Haifa, one of the Christian troublemakers, an enemy of the Faith who was a translator and guide for foreign travellers, deceived him by claiming devotion to the Faith and firmness in the Covenant and accompanied him to 'Akka, functioning as his translator. When Mirza Nuru'd-Din and I were in 'Abdu'l-Bahá's presence, the news was brought of this American pilgrim by the name of Frank who had just arrived accompanied by that deceitful spy.

'Abdu'l-Bahá was quite annoyed. He instructed me to "go and attend to that traveller downstairs and send the troublemaker to me". I immediately found Mr. Frank, and after the exchange of loving greetings I asked him, "When you were in Port Said, did you receive any instructions regarding observance of caution when travelling from Haifa to 'Akka?"

"Yes, I travelled with extreme care and prudence," he answered.

"Where did you get to know this rascal?" I asked.

"This man came to me as soon as I got here and greeted me with the Bahá'í greeting of Allah'u'Abha. He told me the latest news of the Cause and asked after the health of many of the American believers by name and background. He even claimed that he had been awaiting my arrival for some time. Then he declared his devotion and obedience to 'Abdu'l-Bahá expressed his gratitude to Him for having sent his children to school abroad, and added, 'We owe our whole existence to 'Abdu'l-Bahá.' I asked him if he had any occupation other than his translation work and he explained, 'Here, there is no freedom of the press. So with the help of 'Abdu'l-Bahá I have started a small manual print shop where I print business cards.' And so I promised to help him and brought him here with me."

"Everything that he has said is true, except that he has just left out one detail: he happens to be a deceitful man, a collaborator of the Covenant-breakers and an associate of the

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enemies of the Faith," I informed him. In brief, I advised him of the situation in the Holy Land and explained the verse: "Do not believe everything you hear and do not trust all who approach you." Indirectly, I awakened him to the fact that, as the poet says,

So often does Satan appear in human form, Do not shake just any hand that is offered.

Once Mr. Frank realized what had happened, he was very taken aback but remained quiet. At this point we were summoned to the presence of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, just as the deceitful guide was being dismissed from His presence. Once in the Master's presence, and while Mr. Frank was expressing his sentiments of humble devotion and servitude, I wondered by what heavenly strategy and celestial skill had 'Abdu'l-Bahá got rid of that insidious character.

As soon as we left His presence I found Mirza Nuru'd-Din and asked him, "How was Mr. Guide thrown out?"

"Whatever it was," he said, "it was heaven-sent, because he repented and promised never to approach any of the friends of God again. Here are the details: as he entered the room, 'Abdu'l-Bahá spoke to him sternly and warned him: 'What sort of deception and hypocrisy is this that you commit against your own religion? You are a Christian and receive an income from the Protestant Society, and yet you betray your own Faith by bringing American travellers to me so that I may invite them into the Bahá'í Faith? To them you say negative things about me and you receive a salary for teaching your Faith. But by guiding them to me you betray your own conscience. Do you want me to write a few words which would cause your dismissal?'-and other words in this vein. The guide was taken aback. He began to tremble, grasped 'Abdu'l-Bahá's 'aba and said, 'O my Master, I repent. I did wrong. Please don't take away my livelihood! "Very well, I forgive you this time. But if you commit such an act of betrayal again, I will acquaint the Christian Mission with the details of

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your activities,' responded 'Abdu'l-Bahá. Then the guide swore that he would never again meet with any American Bahá'í pilgrims or even approach them. So he was dismissed, and ran all the way back to Haifa."

Mr. Frank was given the small room upstairs and was offered hospitality at the dinner table of 'Abdu'l-Bahá. He had had no idea that he would be treated as a guest and receive so much kindness and attention. He whispered to me, "I imagined that I would have to prostrate myself from afar, like visiting the Pope, approach on my knees and be dismissed after a short visit. And now I see that we eat at the same table! Since I never considered myself worthy of such a station, please ask if I may be excused."

When I communicated his request, 'Abdu'l-Bahá showed him even more kindness and bestowed on him an even larger measure of His heart-warming attention and regard.

In addition to the dinner table, which was the customary place and time of meetings, 'Abdu'l-Bahá summoned him on other occasions as well. Yet while expressing himself with utter simplicity and without any preconceived design, he used to say curious things and ask for odd favours. For example, he had purchased a small Egyptian silk rug to offer as a gift to 'Abdu'l-Bahá. As he presented it, he remarked, "I wish to make You a gift of this rug, but with the condition that whoever may in the future be the recipient of this gift from the hand of the Master must be a Bahá'í. I would not be happy if a non-Bahá'í were to step on it."

'Abdu'l-Bahá smiled lovingly, agreeing to the condition. "Rest assured, I will find a good place for it so that no non-Bahá'í may tread on it," the Master assured him. I thought that it would be earmarked for the Most Holy Shrine, but later I discovered that the station of that rung was even loftier than what I had imagined. This rug became the site bore which thousands of sincere believers would prostrate themselves in worship: it draped the bench upon which the two or three photographs of Bahá'u'lláh and the Primal Point were placed.

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From that time on and for many years, when the pilgrims came to behold these pictures, it was this rug that they kissed in reverence as they prostrated themselves, and perhaps it still remains so. In any case, the utter simplicity and true sincerity of this man brought joy to 'Abdu'l-Bahá. His words created a happy atmosphere. After two full days, he received permission to depart and for some time the friends continued to mention his name.

Memories of Nine Years in Akka by Youness Afroukhteh

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