Forgiveness - Others

Juliet Thompson and other Bahá’ís decided to give the Master a birthday party, and a few of them baked a cake. She reported, ‘We took several taxis to the Bronx, with the Master riding in the first one. As soon as His taxi had arrived there, the Master got out and walked into the park ahead of the rest of us. ‘A group of young boys gathered around Him and started to laugh. Two or three of them threw stones at Him. With natural concern many of the friends hurried towards the Master, but He told them to stay away. The boys came closer to the Master, jeered at Him and pulled at His clothes. The Master did not become cross. He merely smiled at them radiantly, but the boys continued to behave as before. Then the Master turned towards the friends. ‘Bring me the cake,’ He said. No one had mentioned to Him that we had brought a cake. ‘Some of us said, “But ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the cake is for your birthday.” He repeated, “Bring me the cake.” A friend uncovered a large sponge cake, with white icing, and gave it to the Master. As soon as the boys had seen the cake they began to calm down, and stared at the cake hungrily. ‘The Master took it in His hands and looked at the cake with pleasure. The boys were now standing quietly around Him. “Bring me a knife,” said the Master. A friend brought Him a knife. The Master counted the number of boys who were standing around Him and then cut the cake into the same number of pieces. Each boy eagerly took a piece, ate it with relish, and then ran away happily.’
(Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 45)


A Bahá’í came to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to speak on behalf of a young Persian, who was trying to attach himself to the Faith. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá explained that should anyone commit a hundred wrongs against His own person He would overlook them all and treat the offender with kindness; should anyone act treasonably towards His own person, He would act towards the offender as if he were someone most trusted, but He (‘Abdu’l-Bahá) could never countenance nor aid any deed which would injure the Faith. To murder Him, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said, would be preferable to defrauding others; murdering Him would not harm the Faith, defrauding people would.
(H.M. Balyuzi, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá - The Centre of the Covenant, p. 393)


There was a time when the Covenant-Breakers ‘gave away the garments and personal effects of Bahá’u’lláh to government functionaries, to serve as chattels of bribery and to provide as well the means of humiliating ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. At their instigation the Deputy-Governor of Haifa would, whilst visiting ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, ostentatiously wear Bahá’u’lláh’s cloak and brazenly use His spectacles. Before long this man was dismissed from his post and fell on evil days. Then he went to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and begged His forgiveness. He had acted, he said, in the manner he did, because he was prompted by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s own relatives. The Master showed him utmost kindness and generosity...’ (Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 84)


One of those ‘unspiritual people’ was at that moment a member of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s party, Dr. Amin Fareed, who had already tried to fraudulently get money out of her [Phoebe Hearst]. It was probably during ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s stay at the Hearst residence that His signet ring disappeared. That theft and some of other activities of Dr. Fareed were described by Marzieh Gail in her book, “Arches of the Years":
‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s signet ring disappeared during his Western journey. The Master had confided His loss to Florence and Khan, and named the thief but He did not wish them to speak of it. We in the family always thought that it took place during his stay at the Hacienda… Thereafter the Master signed all his tablets instead of using a seal, capitalizing neither abdu’l nor abbas but only Bahá.
Fareed’s efforts to destroy the Master (who had seen to his education from childhood) make a page of triple darkness … Fareed was capable of whispering to the rich in the United States that although ‘Abdu’l-Bahá needed funds He would not openly accept them, but if they would pass over the money to him, Fareed, he would deliver it to the Master … After returning to the holy land ‘Abdu’l-Bahá sent Dr. Baghdadi a Tablet, and directed that copies be distributed to every community so that all could read it. The Master wrote here that during his stay in America he had forgiven a certain member of his suite four times, but that he would forgive the man’s misdeeds no longer. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá returned to Haifa, he proceeded directly to the room with His wife, Munirih Khanum, and said in a feeble voice, “Dr. Fareed has ground me down!”
(Earl Redman, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Their Midst, p. 228)


During this second stay in Chicago, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá chose to stay in Corrine True’s home for a day or two before moving to a hotel. When He arrived with His secretaries, Corrine serve them all tea. Unfortunately, it was a type of tea that Persians don’t like, and some of them remarked that “there was a better tea”. But the Master drank it anyway, saying, “This tea is very good because it is been prepared with love.”
(Earl Redman, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Their Midst, p. 192)


In the 1970’s I met Inez Greeven. She went on Pilgrimage during the days of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, in 1920 and again in 1921. She told me that during her Pilgrimage the Master asked her, “Where is your husband?” She said, “This was the one thing I did not want Him to ask me about. I answered, “Well, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, he is not here."
"Yes, I can see that he is not here. Where is your husband?"
I told Him, “‘Abdu’l-Bahá, he left me for another woman."
"Yes, I know,” He replied. “And because you have forgiven him, God has forgiven him."
At the time, she was Inez Cook. She later met and married Max Greeven, a wonderful Bahá’í, of whom Shoghi Effendi thought highly. You can read about them in “Dear Co-Worker: Messages from Shoghi Effendi to the Benelux Countries”. You can also read about Inez’ first Pilgrimage here: http://bahai-storytelling.blogspot.com/2010/02/abdul-bahas-use-of-storytelling.html and http://bahai-storytelling.blogspot.com/2010/07/story-of-gate-of-garden-quote-from.html (Brent Poirier)


A Bahá’í came to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to speak on behalf of a young Persian, who was trying to attach himself to the Faith. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá explained that should anyone commit a hundred wrongs against His own person He would overlook them all and treat the offender with kindness; should anyone act treasonably towards His own person, He would act towards the offender as if he were someone most trusted, but He (‘Abdu’l-Bahá) could never countenance nor aid any deed which would injure the Faith. To murder Him, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said, would be preferable to defrauding others; murdering Him would not harm the Faith, defrauding people would.
(H.M. Balyuzi, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá - The Centre of the Covenant, p. 393)


If you could have seen the brute, Juliet, mumbling out his miserable excuses! But the Master took him in His arms and said: ‘All those things are in the past. Never think of them again.’ Then He invited Zillu’s-Sultan two sons to spend a day with Him.
(Misc Bahá’í, The Diary of Juliet Thompson)


At one time the Master had a fine cloak of Persian wool, which had been given to Him. When a poor man appealed to Him for a garment, He sent for this cloak and gave it to him. The man took it but complained, saying it was only of cotton. ‘No,’ ‘Abbas Effendi assured him, ‘it is of wool‘; and to prove it He lighted a match and burned a little of the nap. The man still grumbled that it was not good. ‘Abbas Effendi reproved him for criticizing a gift, but He ended the interview by directing an attendant to give the man a mejidi (a coin then worth about four francs). It was observed that if someone vexed the Master, He always gave him a gift.
(Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 75)


Such was the Master’s kindness, disregarding always the bitter persecution directed against Himself. The man was much ashamed of his behaviour, and begged the Master to forgive him all the harmful deeds he had wrought against Him. The Master forgave all the evil done to Himself, but the people of Beirut were not ready to overlook his behaviour, and rejoiced in his downfall. It was during these dark days that one of the government officials asked the Master to give an ‘aba (cloak) to him. “I have only this ‘aba , which I am wearing, I will gladly give it to you.” The man replied that he did not like that ‘aba , but wanted a better one. “I do not possess a better one, but if you wish,” said the Master, “I will give you money to buy a good ‘aba for yourself.” This offer did not content the man, so ‘Abdu’l-Bahá promised to send and buy a new ‘aba for him, meanwhile letting him keep His only one! In spite of all this kindness, the man continued to speak evil concerning the Master, to bring false accusations against Him, to make more rigorous the prison rules, and in many ways to harass and annoy the noble prisoner. He set soldiers to watch all those who tried to approach the Master, and to prevent their meeting Him. Whilst this official busied himself in working evil against ‘Abdu’l-Bahá he offended a brother official, who accused him to the Vali of Beirut, of certain treacheries; for instance, of possessing a book of which he could foretell future events. By this book he prophesied “that the Sultanate would not last more than two years.” This aroused the suspicions of the Vali, who sent an escort of soldiers to arrest that faithless public servant, also to seize all his possessions and papers, and to bring him and his belongings, including the prophetic book, to Beirut.
(Lady Blomfield, The Chosen Highway)