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Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era

  • Author:
  • J. E. Esslemont

  • Source:
  • US Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1980 edition
  • Pages:
  • 286
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Pages 62-63

War Time at Haifa

A remarkable instance of the foresight of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was supplied during the months immediately preceding the war. During peacetimes there was usually a large number of pilgrims at Haifa, from Persia and other regions of the globe. About six months before the outbreak of war one of the old 63 Bahá’ís living at Haifa present a request from several believers of Persia for permission to visit the Master. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá did not grant the permission, and from that time onwards gradually dismissed the pilgrims who were at Haifa, so that by the end of July 1914 none remained. When, in the first days of August the sudden outbreak of the Great War startled the world, the wisdom of His precaution became apparent.
When the war broke out, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Who had already spent fifty-five years of His life in exile and prison, became again virtually a prisoner of the Turkish Government. Communication with friends and believers outside Syria was almost completely cut off, and He and His little band of followers were again subjected to straitened circumstances, scarcity of food and great personal danger and inconvenience.
During the war ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had a busy time in ministering to the material and spiritual wants of the people about Him. He personally organized extensive agricultural operations near Tiberias, thus securing a great supply of wheat, by means of which famine was averted, not only for the Bahá’ís but for hundreds of the poor of all religions in Haifa and ‘Akká, whose wants He liberally supplied. He took care of all, and mitigated their sufferings as far as possible. To hundreds of poor people He would give a small sum of money daily. In addition to money He gave bread. If there was no bread He would give dates or something else. He made frequent visits to ‘Akká to comfort and help the believers and poor people there. During the time of war He had daily meetings of the believers, and through His help the friends remained happy and tranquil throughout those troublous years.