Monday, February 6, 2017

Non-Baha'i Westerners visiting Abdul Baha in Palestine

These people were not readily admitted into the presence of 'Abdu'l-Bahá; the same restrictions which limited the visits of the believers applied to them too. Any such visit could have provided ammunition for the enemies of the Faith and consequently might have led to more restrictions and hardships.

More often than not, I suspected that some of these visitors were government spies sent by the Sublime Porte{145} for its own purposes. In any case, 'Abdu'l-Bahá's response to these people was simple and direct: "We are a prisoner of the Government and are not allowed to meet visitors freely. If you wish to investigate the truth and learn the tenets of the Bahá'í Faith, there are special centres in America that you may contact." However, many of the visitors did not give up that easily, and insisted on attaining His presence and asking their questions. At times, they came wearing an Ottoman fez, although they were Europeans or Americans.

Some came bearing their hateful prejudices. It was not clear what their intentions were in mind and heart. They would bring with them a translator of the kind who had accompanied Mr. Frank, mentioned earlier. But it was extraordinary that despite their feelings of contempt and bias, however onerous their questions, and however demanding they appeared in the course of the interview, they left His presence contented, convinced, grateful and even in humility. One day when we were in His presence in the reception room on the second floor, news came that a few European men and women were asking to be permitted to attain 'Abdu'l-Bahá's presence. He said, "Tell them that we are prisoners and under the surveillance of the Ottoman government, and therefore a meeting is not possible." Word was brought back again to the effect that, "We are from America and have travelled two thousand miles, and beg to be granted a five-minute audience." And so at last they attained the presence of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, accompanied by a Christian translator of the type who had accompanied Mr. Frank.

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