My Visit to Abbas-Effendi in 1899, Margaret Bloodgood Peeke
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My Visit to
MARGARET B. PEEKE
DR. PAULINE BARTON-PEEKE
Printed at Chicago, Ill., U.S.A., September, 1911
Excerpt from Tablet to Margaret B. Peeke,
May 12, 1908:
O thou daughter of the Kingdom!
* * * - Print the account which thou hast written about thy trip to Acca and spread it * * *
Excerpt from Tablet to her devoted son and collaborator, E. C. B. Peeke, Nov. 12, 1909:
O thou remembrance of that daughter of the Kingdom!
* * * Collect the traces of thy mother's pen, so that they may remain after her. * * *
IN LOVING MEMORY OF
MARGARET B. PEEKE
MY BELOVED HUSBAND,
E. C. B. PEEKE.
Dr. Pauline Barton-Peeke.
MY VISIT TO ABBAS-EFFENDI
Spread of the Faith
Less than a decade ago there were not a hundred English-speaking people who were followers of the Bab. At that time a few Persians and other Orientals, with a sprinkling of Europeans, formed the sum total of the believers; today they are innumerable and are found all over the earth as followers of Abbas-Effendi.
"Who is Abbas-Effendi?" asks the reader, and occasionally one who knows will say: "He is the Head of the 'New Religion' that is creeping over the world as silently and surely as the daylight that follows dawn. He is the descendant of a noble Persian family; his influence and teachings extend over the globe from north to south, and from east to west."
A book appeared a few years ago, edited and prefaced by Professor Edward G. Browne of Cambridge University, (Professor Browne occupies the chair of Persian literature and language) who having heard of the "New Religion," went to Persia to see for himself what the basis for it might be. Here, he was directed to Abbas-Effendi, and the year following, met him
Journey and Decision to Visit Abdu'l-Bahá
On the last day of the year 1898 the writer sailed from New York on board the "Aller" bound for the Orient by way of Gibralter; it was not for pleasure, nor health, nor sight-seeing that the journey was undertaken, but in the pursuit of a certain knowledge which necessitated the coming in contact with all forms of belief. It was to learn some of the peculiar mystic phases of the East and the practical knowledge said to be understood and practiced there; also to become acquainted with the customs of those ancient sects which seem to have come down from remote ages.
"Be sure and go to Acca; see if there be a genuine Abbas-Effendi and bring us a reliable report from an American standpoint;" was the parting request of a friend. The smile in reply would have shown to the most casual observer that there was no thought or intention of doing anything of the kind. Indeed at that moment
During the following ten days of our journey, the subject recurred again and again to my mind and gradually there was a change of mental attitude; indifference gave place to curiosity; curiosity ended in interest; the impossible grew into the possible and possible became probable, until, by the time we reached Gibralter, I had made a change of route that took in Acca and Abbas-Effendi. Arriving in Egypt, I wrote a letter to a friend in America, asking for letters of introduction to those in Cairo who could help me in meeting some of the leading Bahais.
After three weeks' trip up the Nile, I returned to Cairo and found the desired letters; to them I owe my visit to Abbas-Effendi. Here in Cairo I met one known as the "Learned Arabian" who gave me in two or three hours all the facts connected with the Bahai movement and also insured me an interview with "The Center Head in Acca."
(Only because so little has been written from an outside standpoint, has it seemed necessary for me to write this account.)
It was not until Baalbec had been visited and Damascus enjoyed that the preparations for the tenting trip to Acca were made. At Beyrout, a famous leader of the Bahais visited me; his presence affected me even more deeply than that of the "Learned Arabian."
We left Beyrout on the ninth of March and rode by the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, camping in tents at night, passing the old cities of Tyre and Sidon; also solitary Mount Carmel and the plains that lie between Beyrout and Acca; the following Sunday we approached the ancient city we sought. As we drew near to it the marvelous history of Acca began to unroll itself before our minds and this strange fact dawned upon us, that from prehistoric times this city had been chosen as a place of conflict; was it perchance a part of the divine plan that the faith of Christendom was here to be decided? Could there have been any ground for their claim in those days? Could a belief have taken hold of the people at that time (as this has done) and spreading throughout all countries necessarily have met with strong opposition and proved a matter of greater importance than the world now dreams? Far back in remote antiquity we find this sea port called Acre, and beyond that, we know nothing. Then we see Ptolemy coming up from Egypt to take it, adding it to his possessions as Ptolemais; a city of grandeur and magnificence - very desirable to be possessed. Some
Brittanica gives little significance to the city of Acca, although it was the scene of some of the most notable events in history; of battles in which an hundred thousand men were destroyed in one single encounter. To go to the plains around Acca now, after the passing of centuries, we are told that to dig with our fingers an inch or two beneath the surface of the ground we find human bones. The land is literally covered with human bones - giving a reality to the fact, that in that period, human lives were considered as nothing compared with religious ideas. From this time on the city was called St. Jean de Acre and was held by these believers for a century.
We can imagine that a century of foreign rule how the spirit of the East grew more and more rebellious until they arose and fought for their land and conquered. Here began its decline and from that day to this it has been a scene of alternating rule. Even Napoleon could
During this time of soliloquy we had been approaching this wonderful city and the afternoon sun was nearing the horizon, when we caught our first clear view of Acca. At the left was an imposing group of white buildings, more palatial than any we had seen in Syria, surrounded with great walls and gardens shaded with beautiful trees; to the right lay the walled city of Acca with its residences and orange groves in the outskirts. Something seemed to say, "This is the place where BAHA'O'LLAH lived," and so it proved, but it was closed. The present Head resides in a pasha's house in the city. At four o'clock our tents were pitched outside the walls and a messenger was sent to ask if Abbas-Effendi would receive those not of his faith.
First Meeting With Abdu'l-Bahá
We had not long to wait, perhaps half an hour, but it was a time of great suspense. Had we known what we now know, letters would have been sent from Egypt, making an appointment before our arrival. The messenger returned with the answer that an audience would be given us that evening at eight o'clock.
Only in the Orient could it be understood or realized what that meeting meant.
The night was most dark; we were accompanied by our own guide and interpreter, a soldier and a man carrying a lantern; and as we
"You cannot enter" said one of these soldiers to our faithful dragoman [professional interpreter] who had never yet left us since entering our service.
"Then I will stand by the door" was his meek reply, as he followed us up the long flight of stairs to the door of the audience room.
The door which opened to admit us into the presence of the man, who is today one of the marked figures of the world, disclosed a long bare room, scantily furnished. On entering the room visitors from America were seated near the door, together with ladies and soldiers, converts from the Mohammedan to the Christian faith. From the other side of this long room, we saw a figure rise and advance to meet us.
The motion was almost like gliding, so smooth was it, and as he drew nearer, we noticed the mouse-colored gown he wore with a turban to match, and there stood before us One who was the personification of all gentleness and meekness, and yet a sublime dignity rested upon him which we had never seen in others of the same faith, unusual in type as they were. He
Looking down the room while we were
So long as the world was under the Law of the Mineral, it could not know God except as it saw Him in the face of stone, but, as centuries and eons passed, there awoke in the creature, man, a feeling that he had some relation to this Being, who was holding in His hand the sun, moon and stars; nay even more than all, the thinking
When the rim of a new moon comes into view, if we had never seen it before, we would think it could be no greater, but night after night it grows from the crescent to the gibbous, and from that to the full moon, so also the Light of Truth had come by degrees, and when the fullness of the whole could be seen, it would be the same Light that had shown in the crescent, in the gibbous, and in the full moon, but differing only in degree.
At ten o'clock we rose to take our leave, and while thanking our host for his kindness in granting us so lengthy an interview, he said in that soft, but commanding voice, which no one would think of resisting, "I shall be glad to see you again tomorrow morning at nine o'clock."
Could we be dreaming? Were we to be so favored as to have another interview? Going forth into the darkness, to be escorted back to our tents, we felt a great interest awaken in this wonderful personality, so meek, yet so majestic; commanding, and yet so humble.
When retracing our steps through the same arches and courts as before, we found the soldiers of the Sultan, sitting on the walls over-looking our tents, evidently watching our movements. They were playing on the instruments of their country, soft, sensuous, dreamy music, that seemed to belong to the lonely, lovely night, to the quaint place and our new experiences. The skies of Syria are very blue; the stars seem very near; poetry breathes in every breeze; and when we finally entered our tents and closed the door, we seated ourselves on our beds and gave a sigh of delight, perhaps one of religious longing and fervor. "Do you know E---" I said at last, "I am surprised and very much impressed; who ever could think that Abbas-Effendi would be like that? Think of it! We have talked fully two hours and he never once spoke of those things one would expect to be uppermost in his mind. Where could we find, in the length and breadth of America, a man devoted to one pursuit and when meeting a stranger, would talk for hours and make no mention of it? He did not even ask whether or not the Movement was progressing in our own land; he made no inquiry as
Going to meet him in the morning, my friend, thinking it would be a fine opportunity to take views of the palace of the Great Manifestation, took an attendant with her on horseback and started for the palace, planning to meet me later at the room where we had met Abbas-Effendi in our first interview.
Second Meeting With Abdu'l-Bahá
He had not yet appeared, but we found our friends and some of the ladies we had seen the night before and while we were talking together Abbas-Effendi approached towards us. In a moment, every sound was hushed, as if in the presence of some divine person. He held in his hand three stalks of heliotrope-colored stock-gilly flowers, two of which he presented to me, keeping the third in his hand while he led me up to the same seat he had given me the previous evening.
"I should like to begin with the last question you asked me," he said as soon as we were seated. "I should have answered it a little more fully." He began at that point, continuing as
After-Effects of the Visit
From the day I met him in Acca he has steadily grown in my mind as one who in the race is a figure-head of religious progress. A correspondence with him has extended over a
It cannot be a matter of indifference to any soul who thinks of the spiritual trend of events, who reads the history of the past, who knows that the race has not yet reached its maturity, to ask the meaning of the movement that today has spread to every country, without noise of the press, or methods of propaganda, or the fame of great works, but simply by the life of its members and more than all, by the life of Abbas Effendi, who has taken the station of the "Centre of the Covenant" (Abdul-Baha, the servant of God).
There surely was nothing in the bare room in which this Centre received us, nor in any attempt to exhibit healing or miraculous powers to prove the truth of his position. He did not even mention the Great Manifestation, whom he represented, in whom his hopes and adoration are centered, but with the simplest words, he
Did he not wish us to believe in that which to him was of the greatest importance in the world, and for which thousands have died by the most cruel tortures? Was it a matter of indifference whether we took back to America from an outsider's standpoint a testimony of this truth that the Avatar, for the twentieth century, in reality, had come to fulfill the prophecies never yet fulfilled? With the calmness of one who can afford to await the results, and with the humility of one who knows his station in the work, both in this world and in that invisible one (the Cause-world), he made no effort to convince or to affect his hearers. All this, however, did not come at once to my mind, but has been the outgrowth of the years that have intervened between that day in Acca and this in which I am writing these impressions which have been solicited. When thinking of the generous amount of time he had given me, I felt I must write a letter expressing thanks and my appreciation, and on the way from Alexandria to Marseilles I did so; then dismissed the subject from my mind. I had taken care of the flower he had given me and pressed it, bringing it to those who would value and cherish anything that had touched his hands. On my return to New York, many of the Bahais called to know of the impression made by my visit, but I could only say that it was impossible
In Acca, on the shores of the Mediterranean, dwells a man who is the center of thought of all the lands, whom the noblemen, the great, the wealthy, rejoice to meet even for one day. He is a comforter to the poor and unfortunate and a healer to the sick.
His home is a prison, where He has been placed on account of His dreaded influence upon the people of that land. He has the freedom of
"Do you believe Abdul-Baha is the one who is to fulfill the second coming of the Christ?" say many who ask me of Him, and I reply. "He has frequently Written in His letters to me of the Christ, expressing more love and with greater reverence than we, who have been followers of Jesus for generations, and Abbas-Effendi makes no such claims for Himself."
Since the first history of man was given in the Bible, there has not failed to come an Avatar at
You ask if this be true, how and by what signs are we to know Him when He comes? Could wealth and magnificence be the outward symbol of the Manifestation of God? There has been in the past, the wealth of the Indies, of Croesus, and nothing is left to prove their divinity. Would it be by the gift of healing? The great Physician was the healer of body and soul. Could it be by prophetic gifts and by miracles? No one of these signs have ever proved divinity. Must it not be then by the fulfillment of prophecy, something different from the ordinary, and yet having the same relation to the former dispensations, as, for instance, that which the full moon has to the slender rim of the crescent?
Were there no telegraph today as in those days when Jesus walked through Galilee, and no press to spread the tidings of every occurence in
I went there to please a friend; I knew nothing about this Truth which has now permeated my being to an extent that is astonishing. Having seen the failure of creeds to make lives beautiful and practical, I admit that the creed of this, the new, blossoming from the old-time Christianity, was unimportant to me.
The pleasure of telling this story, to those who asked of my visit to Acca, rejoices me when they feel a glow of warmth in their hearts towards this man of whom I am writing. He teaches a doctrine which takes His followers among the poor and the sick, even when in danger of their lives, making them forget self. Their faith and the new "Name" is but another lisping of the soul to its Father. They take nothing on mere belief. When the Bahais have tried the teachings for themselves and have found sudden and sure deliverance come to them, it needs no words of mine to urge them to be "Steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the works of the Lord." [1 Corinthians 15:58] It does not take from the glory of the New Moon to know that the Full Moon has come.
ONE STEP BEYOND.
Margaret B. Peeke.
Whether my future will be dark or bright
What matters it though friends I hold most dear
What difference can it make to you or me
Whatever comes of good, by us will stay;
About the Author
In Memoriam in the Foreword to the Author's book, Numbers and Letters Or the Thirty-Two Paths of Wisdom
It is with mingled awe, timidity and appreciation that the pen of my beloved teacher and friend, Margaret Bloodgood Peeke, is taken up where she left it at midnight, November 2, 1908, to indite the foreword to this valuable posthumous work.
Born April 8, 1838, like all in Aries, she has throughout her three score years and ten blazed the way with courage and cheer for others less gifted. During years of leadings at home and in Persia, the Holyland, Egypt, Patmos, Madeira, and wherever learned mystics were to be encountered, she lavishly and esoterically gave of the rich harvest that she thus garnered to those less fortunate who hungered and thirsted for it. Yet like many famous forerunners, as she stood upon the
As initiates we know that her progression from our sight means for her life immortal, but that she is with us in spirit and in truth we cannot doubt, and in her beloved son, E. C. B. Peeke, she has a chosen representative who is carrying out the instructions given to him during her last precious days on earth.
Behind the production of this volume on "Numbers and Letters, or the Thirty-two Paths of Wisdom," there is therefore a beautiful spirit of co-operation, and its appearance, just at this time, will bring joy to her host of friends.
As "Born of Flame" was her entering wedge, and "Zenia the Vestal" her heart’s story, this tome and those to follow will accentuate the living power of the Masters.
As a teacher of Hermetic philosophy Margaret Peeke was unsurpassed. Her joy was to interpret,
As Inspectress General in America of the Martinist Order of France, she did a voluminous work. She was also an ardent Behaie, a member of the Rose Cross Martinist fraternity, and the treasurer of the Light of France Hermetic Society of France.
In her own dear words we give "The greetings of universal peace to those who love the law of use and seek after truth and knowledge. To them shall all things come, even powers and dominion and light; for nothing that thought shall grasp or the human mind conceive is impossible. Love and light are the birthright of the human
Lovingly, In Memoriam,
GRACE CAREW SHELDON. No. 108 Richmond Avenue, Buffalo, N.Y., November 23, 1908.