For the benefit of readers, we publish here under the biography of Shua Ullah written by himself.
IN THE PATH OF FAITH, MILLIONS OF HUMANITY MET THEIR FATE! BUT, NOTHING IN COMPARISON WITH THE LIVES LOST AND HOMES DESTROYED, UNDER THE BANNERS OF NATIONALISM. MAY PEACE COME ON EARTH AND GOOD WILL AMONGST MANKIND.
I am the son of Mohammed Ali, son of Baha Ullah. I was born in Kasr-el-Marzaa, Acre District, Palestine, 1878 A.D. and grow to maturity under the shadow of the Great Baha Ullah.
Needless to speak of my connection with the Bahai faith, as I am born and bred in it. Although I am molded with the teachings, and firmly believe that the Bahai Principles are the most essential for practice in these trying days, but I am open for conviction otherwise. I am explaining this so my readers would not think that I am following the Bahai Faith blindly or on account of my birth.
In 1889, while I was at the age of eleven, I was commanded by Baha Ullah to accompany my father on his journey to Egypt and India. Haji Khavar joined us also as attendant. We embarked on a steamer from Haifa, Palestine to Port Said, Egypt. Upon entering the steamer that evening I was greatly amazed by the electric lights, as that was my first view of the same. The short voyage was not a pleasent one for me, as I was sea sick most of the way.
At our arrival to Port-Said, we were received by a Bahai delegation from Egypt headed by Agha Mirza Agha Afnan, and after the completion of custom House formalities, we were ushered to the house of the aforesaid Afnan, where we were entertained royally by our host during our sojourn there, which lasted twenty one days. Faithful Bahais arrived daily from all over Egypt to receive counsel and advise from my beloved father, and I as a boy used to enjoy their conversation and extreme politeness, immensly.
For the enlightenment of the young readers I must illustrate that from my childhood I was reared with grown people and I had a very limited number of selected boys of my age to play with, therefore it was natural for me to associate with young and old, especially as in those days most of the followers were former theologians, soufis, scientists, and philosophers.
From Port-Said we boarded an Italian steamer, passing thru the Suez Canal and from there to Aden Yaman, where our steamer docked the entire day. We landed for a few hours and enjoyed a cup of coffee and some dates.
On the twelfth day we reached our destination Bombay, India. Upon landing in Bombay I had another surprise, observing the nudity of the natives. This seems natural nowadays.
At our arrival to Bombay, India we were received by Haji Sayed Mirza Afnan, his brother Haji Sayyed Mohammed Afnan and others, amongst them Sayed Hadi Afnan (who later married the eldest daughter of my uncle Abdul Baha, and (so he is the father of Shoghi Effendi). We stayed at the abode of Haji Sayyed Mirza Afnan, which was located at Byculla, Bombay.
After a few weeks we secured a nice little bunglow house surrounded (with) by a flower garden near the Mahalaxmi Railway Station. At that time the horse race track was in that section. We spent over a year in the city of Bombay, occasionally traveling to the nearby country sides as Pouna and Kandala etc. My beloved father was occupied receiving visitors and arranging the printing of several books of the teachings of Baha Ullah. I was studying French under a private teacher, as at that time the French language was the most popular in our country, which then was called Syria, under the Ottoman Rule. I was greatly impressed by the natives of India, their sincerity, simpleness, humbleness and kindness.
On our return to Acre, Palestine we stopped at Cairo Egypt. We were the guests of Haji Mirza Hassan Shirazi, Better known as Khorasani. I had the opportunity to see the points of interest in Cairo also. After a few days we arrived at home and again I was privileged to be with my mighty Grand-father Baha Ullah after the elapse of fifteen months.
During our preparation to leave Bombay the aforesaid Sayed Hadi Afnan begged my father for permission to join us, so we had an extra companion on our return voyage from Bombay to Egypt. On the steamer Haji Khavar prepared our meals and the said Sayed Hadi Afnan took care of several large flat baskets, each containing three ports of different flowers and young trees that my father brought with him from India. Indeed it was through his energatic care of watering them regularly and removing them from place to place when needed that they reached their destination safely.
Two years after our return from India the ascension of Baha Ullah took place. The events which happened after His ascension are recorded briefly in my father’s Autobiography, and I refer my good readers to them.
A few years before my journey to India, Sayed Assadullah of Ghom was appointed as tutor for my brother Mirza Amin Ullah who is four years my junior and myself. Although he was a companion more than a teacher yet he served us faithfully to the best of his ability untill a few months after the ascension of Baha Ullah when he had to leave us and return to his native land Iran to become a Bahai missionary.
The following years I had several private teachers, and occasionally I took English lessons also. During my young days I was very fond of horseback riding and hunting. In those days the means of transportation were confined to horses, mules, donkeys or camels, as modern vehicles were not in existence in the Orient, therefore we all grow learning horse riding. Also hunting was the only sport available as we had no golf or tennis grounds, cinemas or theaters.
After reaching the age of maturity I became engaged to my cousin Ruha Khanum one of the twin daughters of my uncle Abdul Baha. We were extremely in love with each other, but on account of the sudden dissension between our fathers and our due respect for them, we were obliged to give up each other, so my first and childhood love affair, met with disappointment. This incident in my life seems a fiction nowadays, as the modern young people will not sacrifice their life long happiness for the sake of their parents. After this separation I was depressed and broken hearted but I tried my utmost and keep it to myself.
Thus, years passed by as such until during 1904 I received an invitation from relatives and friends in the United States of America to visit the World’s Fair of St Louis Mo. U.S.A. I was greatly encouraged by this invitation for the following reasons:- First to forget my grief and sorrow, and second to see the new world and to study the Western civilization.
With the permission of my father and my grandmother, the widow of Baha Ullah I left Palestine for Egypt and from there boarded a steamer for Marseilles, France, arriving (at) in Paris July 12th of the same year.
On July 14th the people of France celebrated their Independence day. It was a great experience for me to go from Acre, Palestine to Paris and to attend such a jubilant Celebration. The following day I secured a passage with the American line on the Steamship ‘New York’ arriving at the Port of New York the last week of July.
After two days rest in the great city of New York I went to St. Louis Mo. I spent the summer months there, observing the wonders of the Exposition, which were a great schooling for me. During the same summer I made a visit to the Bahai friends in Chicago Ill. and Kenosha Wis. accompanied by Dr. Ibrahim Kheiralla. Notices of my arrival to the United States appeared in numerous daily Newspapers and Magazines. The first two winters and summers I spent in St. Augustine Fla. and Atlantic city N.J. While I was in New York I visited the Syrian Coloney in Brooklyn. During my stay there I had the pleasure of the visit of Mr. Howard McNutt, and on my return visit to him I met Mrs. McNutt also. We had a sociable visit, but later on I was informed that the aforesaid Mr. McNutt was reprimanded by the Bahai higher authorities for his association with me.
During my residence in the United State I served the Baha’i cause to the best of my ability in my spare time earning my livelihood through commerce. I have had several opportunities to commercialize our teachings but I refrained to do so, as I believe truth should be given gratis. For several years I edited and published The Bahai Quarterly at my own expense and distributed the same absolutely free of charge.
I traveled extensively in the United States, crossing the continent from Florida to Oregon, Maineto California. I have visited the most prominent Winter and Summer resorts. I have met people from all walks of life, the elites of Fifth Avenue now Park Avenue, to the humbles of the Bouwerie, the snobs of New England to the sociables of new Orleans. I have conversed with Philosophers, Scientists, Polititians, Cummunhists, Theologians, Theosofists, Christian Scientists, and Spiritualists and found some good in all of them, by discarding personal prejudice and revering their view points.
While in Southern California I married a charming American young-Lady of English stock, whose maiden name was Brewster, a descendant of Wm. Brewster who came to America with the Ship ‘Mayflower’. I regret that my second venture in love was unsuccessful also, as I have lost her. Ever since I hesitated in making the third attempt and I presume that I shall leave this world without an issue. During the winter of 1910-1911 I was visited by Mrs. L. Getsinger and Dr. Ameen Fareed, while they were touring the states as Baha’i Missionaries. The object of their visit was my guidance to the path which both of them believed then to be the right one. However they were unsuccessful in their mission. During 1912, while my uncle Abdul Baha was visiting the United States, by the authority of my father I humbly wrote him a letter and asked him for a conference to settle the existing differences in our cause.
I hereby reproduce the copy of the same;
To His Excellency Abbas Effendi Abdul Baha.
Inasmuch as your views and doctrines in our religion are radically different from those of my father, your younger brother, Mohammed Ali Effendi who was chosen in the ‘Book of My Covenant’ the last Will of Baha Ullah, to occupy after you the same positon you occupy now: And inasmuch as this difference between both of you spreads among the followers of Baha Ullah and divided them into two parties; one following you and believing in your personal teachings, and the other party which joined your brother believing in the teachings of Baha Ullah only and considering them final as he declaired: And, inasmuch as we were all commanded in the ‘Most Sacred Book’ KitabiAkdas, to bring our differences to the utterance of Baha Ullah, which sufficed the world, whereby they should be settled: And, inasmuch as our duty is to establish peace at home, among ourselves first, before we preach others to do so: I hereby beg your Excellency to appoint a conference of peace and spirituality to hold its meetings at the city of Chicago, or some other place, at a certain time, in otder to discuss with the language of love and kindness the differences between the said two parties and settle them in accord with the utterances of Baha Ullah and His Commandments.
If it please you, said conference would be composed of your Excellency with some learned ones of your followers, myself and Dr. I.G. Kheiralla, who interoduced Bahaism into America and Christendom with a few of our party.
My father Ghusni Akbar, authorized me to state, that he will accept and sanction whatever your Excellency would establish with me and with his representative Dr. I.G. Kheiralla.
The official language of said conference shall be the U.S.Language, a neutral interpreter should be hired to translate from the Arabic language all that you would like to say and in the meantime to translate to you all the discussions of the conference. Also to ask the Associated Press to send a reporter to write the minutes of the conference; and to invite three American savants to attend the meetings and actas witnesses and judges.
I suggest the questions and discussions to be the following;
First: Why your Excellency concealed a part of the ‘Book of My Covenant,’ the will of Baha Ullah? That will was entrusted to you that you might give all of it to the followers of Baha Ullah.
Second: Ghusni Akbar was chosen to occupy after you the same position you occupy, and your Excellency claimed that he was cut off and fell. How is it possible that he fell from the said position before having had a chance to occupy it?
Third: What grounds have you to claim that you are the Centre of the Covenant? God only is the centre of the Covenant.
Forth: Why do you claim to be the Interpreter of the Utterances of Baha Ullah? He declared in the Book of Wisdom that there is no Interpreter to them save Himself.
Fifth: How could it be that you are the manifestation of servitude and Bah Ullah declared it to Himself only? Also He taught there are no manifestations after Him untill one thousand years passed from His appearance.
Sixth: Why do you claim the great Infalability calling your letters sacred tablets and revelations? Baha Ullah said; ‘WHosoeverclaimeth a mission before the completion of one thousand years from His Manifestation is a lying imposter.
Seventh: Why do you teach that this greatest Manifestation has three chiefs, the Bab, Baha Ullah and yourself? Baha Ullah said: “There is no one else beside him in the Kingdom.” Likewise the Bible taught that at the latter days we shall have one shepherd, only one chief and not three. Also Baha Ullah said: “He hath no agent, no successor, and no son.”
Eighth: Why do you claim and in the same breath deny that which you claim?
Ninth: Why do you teach and spread the teachings of Baha Ullah as you were commanded to do, instead of spreading your own? I close this open letter, appealing to your Excellency by justice, love and unity to grant my request.
Your Humble servant, The Grandson of Baha Ullah, ShuaUllah
I forwarded the above mentioned letter to Abdul Baha to Chicago Ill. where he was visiting but unfortunately I did not receive a reply. When I heard of Abdul Baha’s arrival to California I addressed him the said letter again, this time through the Press as an open letter, a copy of the same appeared in several Newspapers throughout the United States.
A reporter from the Los Angeles Examiner interviewed Abdul Baha and the following reply appeared in the said Newspaper; October 20, 1912. “Would you listen to the talk of the drunkard in the street?” “Do you class your nephew as one no better than a drunkard?” he was asked. “Worse” he benignly replied.” Indeed I was very surprised by his unkind and untimely statement, and to this day I am in doubt of its authenticity.
During 1912, while my uncle Abdul Baha was in Chicago, Mr M.H.Dreyfus of Paris (France) unexpectedly called on me with a fighting spirit; most of his conversation was appertaining to the unfounded accusations towards my father regarding (to) the petition to the Ottoman government and the arrival of the investigators etc. I patiently listened to him until he was exhausted, then I said: “All your statements are hearsay and absolutely without foundation. I am ready to go with you to Palestine for the sole purpose of investigation there in the govern rate or to go to Velayat at Berut, or to go to the headquarters of the Ottoman Government in Constantinople if necessary, and if we find a petition presented to the government by my father or any of his followers as you have stated, then all what you said is correct, but I am positive that we will not find even a complain whatsoever, from my father or any of his followers against His Excellency Abdul Baha.”
The said Mr. Dreyfus remained with me until late that evening and somehow he was satisfied with my explanations as he left me.
One year later, on a Sunday afternoon, I answered the door-bell and to my surprise I saw Mr. Dreyfus standing. After exchanging the greetings and resting I discovered that he was in California with Mrs. Dreyfus the former Miss Laura Clifford Barney of Washington D.C. and her mother, on their way to the Far East. On this visit our conversations were more sociable and mostly incidentals. He remained with me all afternoon returning to his hotel in Los Angeles in the evening. Two days later I went to Los Angeles returning my friends call, and I had the pleasure of meeting Mrs. Dreyfus and her mother.
During this meeting the existing dissension between my uncle and my father were discussed but very mildly, and we arranged that they shall go to the Far East; and the following winter during 1914 we shall all meet in Palestine and try to bring unity among the two brothers and their followers, but I regret that the following year the war was declared in Europe and we could not make our pilgrimage as we planned.
During 1923, I made a visit to the Holy Land. This journey lasted six months; also I visited Egypt. I regret that I found the true Baha’i spirit that was in existence in the past had been diminished, and the off-springs of those noble soles that sacrificed their lives for the spread of Truth were entangled in the cobwebs of earthly possessions; eagerly seeking false leadership for the accumulation of the riches; originating new names and tittles for the control of leadership and the collection of dues which were provided for the widows and orphans; their ears deaf to the words of God, and following the golden calf as they did in the time of Moses; intoxicated by false promises and drowned in the sea of superstition; their hearts filled with hatred towards those whose only faults were the confession to the Oneness and Singleness of God.
During my last sojourn in the City of New York, I had the pleasure of meeting Mrs. Luis StyvesentChanler and her coworker Mirza Ahmad Sohrab, while I was attending a reception which was arranged by the natives of India, in honour of the well known Moslem leader Moulana Shoukat Ali. I was invited by the aforesaid lady to attend the meetings of the New History society. Complying with her kind request I attended a few of the Baha’i gatherings, and I had the pleasure of meeting the Hon. Luis Styvesent Chanler also.
During 1933, I left New York for California again, and the mild climate of the Golden State lured me to remain there.
In the summer of 1936 I received news from home that my beloved father was ill and demanded my presence, therefore I left California and made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
I hereby invite my readers to enjoy the minutes of that journey with me.
“Our pilgrimage began from San Diego California, U.S.A. at 10 A.M. on Sunday, October the 25th, 1936. We journeyed in two motors cars with our luggage via the coast highway, arriving at the Terminal Island port of Los Angeles at 1:30 in the afternoon. After placing our luggage in our staterooms with the Panama Pacific Liner, S.S. Pennsylvania, a thirty three thousand-ton steamer, we left the Terminal Island for Ocean Park, a suburb of Los Angeles, and visited a delightful couple there, where we spent a few hours. Then we motored to Hollywood to the abode of other beloved friends, a newly and happily wedded couple, where we enjoyed their kind hospitality of a royal farewell dinner. At ten o’clock in the evening we motored to the pier, some of the friends joining to wish us farewell and unanimously desirous to accompany us on our pilgrimage. Being late we insisted on their departure, so the friends left us with the wonderful wish ‘Bon Voyage.’ No need to state our mutual feelings when the parting time arrived, all I can say is: “May God bless them and keep the safe for me.” We are at the deck of the liner watching the multitude of humanity ebb and flow like the waves of the sea. A short time before the departing hour we suddenly become cognizant of the presence of some other friends, who motored 150 miles to see us and faithfully remained at the pier until our steamer sailed and we disappeared in the darkness of the night.
Although we are surrounded with joy being on the pilgrimage to the Holy Land, yet the parting with our friends and beloved ones is trying, and, I must confess that there is an emptiness in my heart while we are sailing and gradually the illuminated lights of the great City are getting dimmer and dimmer. The last two days passed pleasantly in good weather and smooth sailing. To day we are passing through the gulf streams of Lower California, it is a little rough and unpleasant for these who are not good sailors.
October the 29th, we reached a sea port in Old Mexico, a quaint little place called Acapulco. The liner anchored, and through the courtesy of the Panama-Pacific company we landed and spent a few hours here. The town is unusual, the roads are rough, narrow and uneven. The buildings are un-unified and the street vendors are visible everywhere. Women and children go around in their bare feet carrying provisions on their heads to their homes. Senoritas of the better classes are going to the market in pajamas. Men are enjoying their siesta on street benches and on the sands of the sea shore. Everyone is carefree enjoying the tropical climate. A town far behind the present progressive age. The only modern objects we observed were American-made motor cars of the latest models, and the reason for their popularity, as explained to us, is the existence of a fine paved highway completed recently between here and Mexico City, the capital of the Mexican Republic. Therefore many visitors motor to this place on week-ends. There is a nice hotel and some cottages on the top of the hill for the convenience of the tourists. Indeed, there is some contrast between this place and California in architecture and customs, their life and habits are amusing, although in a very humble circumstances, they are happy and contented. We enjoyed a drink of fresh cocoa-nut juice which was served in its original shell; the natives boasted graciously of this delightful drink. The scenery is marvellous, the hills are covered with green vegetation. A thought sparked in my mind ; how anxious an American real estate developer would be to hold and operate such a land and what a sea-side resort this spot would make, if some hotel association could secure and improve it.
Acapulco was a great seaport and enjoyed commercial progress during the 16th, 17th and 18th, centuries, while Mexico was under the dominion of Spain. Being the only Mexican sea port to the Philippines and Asia, the Manila galleys anchored here bringing rich wares from Asia and in return loading spices, rice, etc., from India; their cargo being carried on the back of the caravan of burros to and from Vera Cruz, the Mexican sea port of the Atlantic Ocean where the Spanish galleys carried them to the Fatherland. Three more days on the ocean, we passed the shores of Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. Tropical weather and pleasant sailing, lots of sports on deck, congenial passengers, officers and crew very thoughtful, good service, fine food and all on board happy.
Monday, November 2nd, we reached Panama and balboa. We took an interesting sight-seeing tour, passing through a section of Balboa, the American spotless town which is the seat of the Panama Canal Administration. Thence to Port Amador, a United States Millitary Port at the entrance of the Canal, through Balboa Heights and Ancon, residential quarters for Canal employees, the American hospital grounds, BellaVista, the modern residential section of Panama. The statute of Balboa, the discoverer of the Pacific Ocean.Club Miramar, the race course, the golf club and the old Panama, the ruins of the Cathedral and the site of the city which was destroyed by fire in the year 1671. Our guide suggested strolling in the shopping district of Panama City if we desired and unfortunatly we followed his advice. The narrow and winding streets were full of shops of all sizes, owned and run mostly by the natives of East India and China, overstocked with luxurious and inferior merchandise from East India, Japan and China. All displaying the same line, hungry for business, pulling the visitors into the shops and trying their utmost to part them from their cash.
November, the 3rd, we passed through the great engineering enterprise, the Panama Canal. It took eight hours to go through this wonderful monument representing the mighty power of human mind which linked the great oceans together, the Pacific and the Atlantic. Our steamer docked at Christabal, we strolled for a while, the city is calm and quiet. Being the Panama Independence Day, all the business concerns were closed, by mutual agreement, American Independence Day and this day are observed by all in the Canal Zone.
Two days at Caribbean Sea, pleasant weather, the passengers on the deck enjoying sun baths and the tropical climate. The morning of November 6th found us at the Island of Cuba and the historical city of Havana. Upon disembarking we engaged the services of a guide and a motor car and proceeded to the Plaza de Armes, the ancient Central Square. Here are the palaces of the old Spanish Governor Generals, the little Temple (El Templete) marking the spot where the first mass was said in Cuba, and the oldest fort in the Western Hemisphere, La Fuerza. Nearby we saw the Cathedral, were rested the ashes of Columbus from the year 1791 to 1898, when they were removed to Spain. The drive continued to the President’s Palace, the tobacco factory-the home of the Havana cigars, the Prado, world-famous Avenue with a fine view of Morro Castle from its foot to the Malecon, a sea-side drive extending three miles in a beautiful crescent shape beside the blue gulf of Mexico to Velado, a modern suburb of palatial homes. En route we saw the bronze statue of Maceo, one of Cuba’s liberators, and the tall twin shafts of the Main Memorial.
Next we visited the University Heights, and to our surprise, we learned that the University itself has been closed by the order of the Government on account of Soviet propaganda amongst the students. Thence we motored to the cemetery with its many beautiful monuments, Camp Columbia, where the American Army spread its tents in the year 1898, the beautiful tropical gardens with their romantic atmosphere, the country Club with velvety golf links, the yacht club with bathing beach, the Casino with Monte Carlo reputation, then back to the business section of the city. Here we dismissed our guide and car and strolled in the busy streets. We found most of the shops displaying American-made merchandise. While wandering in the picturesque streets near the water front we sought some information from three different Cuban policemen, and to our surprise none of them understood one word of the English language.
Two more days on the ocean, we passed the coasts of Florida and Carolinas, the weather is getting colder as we are approaching the Eastern Coast. November 9th, we reached New York City, and after completing custom-house formalities, we motored through the busy section of the great City, we motored through the busy section of the great City, and passed the Hudson Tunnel to Jersey City Pier of the American Export Lines. Placing our luggage with the representatives of the Company, we returned to New York. While at the Custom house we met some dear friends who extended to us the courtesy of using their car, and through their kindness we motored in the Metropolitan City that afternoon and rested the night at a hotel in the heart of the bright light section of Broadway. I regret that the time allotted to us here is limited and we are unable to visit the numerous friends who reside in this locality.
November 10th, at 4 p.m., we embarked on one of the Four Aces of the American Export lines, S.S.Exochorda, and a while later we sailed. Five days passed on the great Atlantic Ocean, on land is visible, occasionally we pass a steamer. Nice weather, plenty of entertainment, sociable passengers fine food and all on board are thankful.
To-day is November 16th, and we are at the Azores Island, the vessel anchored at Ponta Delgada, the first interlude of this voyage. Here history goes back to the days of the Phoenicians and Moor rovers where later Portuguese navigators laid the foundation for the Island’s Portuguese aristocracy, Ponta Delgada, the harbor city of St. Michael, and the largest island of the group is beautifully decorated with rich vegetation. From the bay the approach is an exciting interoduction to the bewitching landscape that dots the shores of the Mediterranean. In the foreground is an opertatic picture of homes of primrose, yellow, pink and white walls resting in green valleys and perched on summits that pierce the azure sky.
November 19th, we arrived at Gibraltar, the natural fortified rock which the European dictators gaze at with envy and for its possession sigh in vain. The steamer stopped sufficient time to disembark passengers and mail and we bid farewell to the Atlantic Ocean, entering the picturesque Mediterranean. We enjoyed the first day on this alluring sea immensely.
November, the 21st, we docked at the city of Marseilles, the ancient sea port of the French Republic. We spent a very interesting day at this cosmopolitan and commercial city. Occasionally we came in contact with the natives who are known for their extreme politeness. Here we observed people of all walks of life rubbing elbows with one another peacefully with the feeling of utter detachment from worry. We motored in and around the city, visiting the Cathedral of La Majan Abby de ST. Victor, City Hall, Longchamps Palace, the Prado and Notre Dame de La Gard. The day was completed with the boat trip to the famous Chateau d’If, rendered immortal by Dumas in his count of Monte Cristo.
November, the 22nd, we passed between the Islands of Corsica and Sardinia, and on November the 23rd, we arrived at the famous city of Naples. There can scarcely be a more interesting port in the world; not only does it possess romantic beauty in its uncomparable bay with its waters of the deepest blue, the stately Vesuvius, but it also has a stirring history which began with the Greek settlers who founded the city and gave it its name, “Neopolis,” Our visit to the beautiful national Museum explained the wonders we saw afterwards in the great excavation of Pompeii. Crossing the Mediterranean we experienced only one unpleasent night on account of disturbed weather; the rest of the voyage passed delightfully. Fine weather, comfortable accommodations and excellent food.Officers and crew extremely courteous and doing their utmost to please the passengers. A floating first-class American hotel with all the home conveniences one desires. Fine groop of passengers amongst them His Excellency the Belgain Minister of Iran (Persia) an Arabian Pasha and other notables.
On November, the 25th, we enjoyed the delicious farewell dinner, especially the greeting extended to us by the Commander and the crew printed on the last page of the menu touched the heart. Showing my appreciation, I reprint hereunder the same:- “ Bidding farewell to our Mediterranean passengers. The Commander, officers and crew bid adieu to their passengers, shipmates of the voyage, and extend the heartiest of best wishes and Godspreed. S.S.Exochorda, Wenzel Habel, Commander. ”
After a day at sea we approached the dean of seaports, Alexandria, the oldest harbor in the world and the gateway to Egypt. On the island at bay stands the remnant of the Phroah Lighthouse built in the third century. Passing its northern tips we are reminded that it is an even 5000 miles to New York, yet we feel a million miles away and are carried back to the Egyptian splendour. Three hours by railroad from his historical port and we are at Cairo, which is called the queen of the cities of the Islam, crossed by the silver ribbon of the Nile, the eye is lost in the sea of its roofs, domes and minarets. In the modern quarter, the streets are lined with trees and fine buildings, gardens and monuments adorn the squares.
In the medieval quarters of the Caliphs, we entered a city of the Arabian nights, with narrow crooked alleys, bazaars, mosques and coffee houses the secret looks of which tell how East is East and West is West. The visit to the cities of the Pyramids, the Sphynx and the Temple of the Sphynx at Giza added a valuable chapter to our book of thoughts. What a glorious heaven this world will be when East and West will become united considering mankind one kindred. The Great Master, Baha Ullah said; “Ye all leaves of one tree and the drops of one sea.”
Our last night at sea passed with anxiety as we were approaching our goal. Sunday morning, November 29th, we anchored at the ports of Jaffa and Tel-Aviv, the latter being the largest modern city built by the children of Israel since the world war. In a few hours we sailed for our destination, arriving at the port of Haifa at 6 p.m. after thirty five days of travel by water. We humbly thank the almighty for our safe arrival to the Holy Land, where the Manifestations, Prophets and great Messengers appeared; where the wise men saw the Star of Bethlehem, and where the Prince of Peace, the Ever-lasting Father established His Kingdom. The Shrines of the Nations, the fountain head of truth, the land of our dream and boyhood days.
The steamer docked and at our landing I found myself in the arms of my two beloved brothers surrounded with relatives and friends, by whom we have been entertained ever since. Our pilgrimage was completed by a visit to the Sacred Shrine, where we rendered our supplications, remembering our Western friends as well. A year later my beloved father passed away. The following is the announcement of the departure made by the family to the friends throughout the world.
The Members of the household of Baha Ullah inform you with the deepest grief and sorrow of the departure of their most beloved and revered Leader, Ghusni Akbar, the Mightiest Branch, Mohammed Ali Effendi who left this earthly world and departed to the Eternal Realm on the morning of Friday December the Tenth 1937 at Haifa Palestine. The last services were held on the following afternoon and the sacred remains were carried on hands from the house to King’s Way, a distance of one Mile, where the remains were placed on a vehicle and escorted with great honour to Acre, were again carried on hands to the last resting place at Bahje near the Sacred Shrine.
The procession was proceeded by an escort of unarmed Police Detachment with their Officers, followed by the members of the household, Government officers, Notables and Religious heads. Moslems, Jews, Christians, and Bahais walked silently side by side in reverence to that great personage who lived the life of a Saint, and who was the most ardent lover of peace and harmony and a real friend of humanity. Memorial services will be held at Haifa on Tuesday January the 18th 1938. We humbly ask the friends throughout the world to join us in comme-moration on that or any other convenient day.
In his memory, we shall recite the following supplication revealed by the Supreme Pen of Beha Ullah for His departed Branch:-
THE GREATEST, THE MOST GLORIOUS
“O my God, Verily this is a branch who has branched from the firm and lofty tree of Thy Singleness and Oneness. Thou seest him O God gazing unto Thee and holding fast to the rope of Thy Bounty. Therefore keep him in the shadow of Thy Mercy. Thou knoweth O my God, that I desire him, as Thou hast desired him. Therefore assist him with the hosts of earth and heaven, and help O my God whosoever helpeth him, chose whosoever choseth him and assist whosoever cometh to him. Then foesake whosoever denieth him and desireth him not. O my Lord, Thou seest that while inspired my pen moveththo my limbs tremble. I ask Thee by my longing for Thy love and my anxiety to manifest Thy cause to ordain for him and to those who love him, what Thou hast destined for Thy Messengers and the faithful of Thy Divine Inspiration. Verily Thou Art God the All-Powerful.”
The sad news was broadcasted by the Oriental Radio Stations also by the British Broadcasting Corporation, London, England. Messages of condolence reached us from all parts of the world.
Memorial services were held at Haifa, which was well attended. Many Notables delivered Memorial speeches and sermons. Amongst them the Moslem representative Abdullah BeyMokhles. The Christian Leader Bishop Hajjar, who was his personal friend for thirty five years, delivered the most impressive Sermon. His subject was ‘Virtue’. For nearly an hour he spoke on the ‘Excellence of Virtue’, ending each paragraph with this remark “The departed Soul was invested with all these Virtues”. Wadi Effendi Boustani, the Arabian Philosopher Poet and prominent Advocate, recited his Memorial Poetry.
Likewise the well knownPoet known as ‘Abu Salma’ this being his nom de plume. Among those who could not attend in person was Shaikh Ass’adesh-Shukeiry. A well –known Moslem Religious Leader, who sent in his speech to be read at the Memorial Day.