On March 30th, the S.S. Cedric left Naples on its journey to America, leaving behind a heart-broken boy of fifteen who always “remembered this episode with sadness”. Aboard the ship ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s heart ached — one can hardly imagine how much He must have grieved at having to leave Shoghi Effendi behind. In his diary, Mahmúd describes how the Master comforted His companions, remarking: “There is a wisdom in this matter which will become known later”. ‘Amatu’l Bahá Rúhíyyih Khánum explained how the Master had “to keep His own counsel, lest the secret of Shoghi Effendi’s future be prematurely revealed and worse befall him through the malice and envy of others”.
During the passage over the Atlantic, the Master would often visit the cabins of His companions and “inquire about each person’s health”. The friends and other passengers also had the privilege to gather around ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and partake of His words. In several of these gatherings, a recurrent subject covered was “the spiritual illness and self-serving motives of the heads of various religions”, and how “the decay of the nations and the degradation of the people have always proceeded from the ministers of religion”. On one occasion He answered a question regarding the Hands of the Cause in the Dispensation of Bahá’u’lláh:
The Hands of the Cause in this dispensation are not heirs to any name or title; rather, they are sanctified souls, the rays of whose holiness and spirituality throw light on the hearts of all. Hearts are attracted by the beauty of their morals, the sincerity of their intentions, and their sense of equity and justice. Souls are involuntarily enamored of their praiseworthy morals and laudable attributes. Faces turn in spontaneous attraction to their outstanding qualities and actions. `Hand of the Cause’ is not a title that may be awarded to whomever it may please to have it, nor is it a chair of honor upon which whoever wishes may sit. The Hands of the Cause are the hands of God. Therefore, whomsoever is the servant and promoter of the Word of God, he is the hand of God. The object is a matter of the spirit and not one of letters or words. The more self-effacing one is, the more assisted he is in the Cause of God; and the more meek and humble, the nearer he is to God.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá had previously alluded to the idea that misguided religious leaders have been the cause of division and hatred among men, instead of being spiritual lights that guide the hearts of men towards their Creator. They have been occupied in performing traditional rituals instead of concentrating their efforts on actions that will benefit humanity. The concept that only religious leaders can be near God has been overturned, as we can all strive to attain this bounty through humbly serving God, developing our spiritual life, and becoming the champions of His Cause. To be alive in this time is a privilege and each one of us has the responsibility to work for the betterment of the word.
Mahmúd’s Diary, p. 22 – 27
The Priceless Pearl, by Rúhíyyih Khánum, p. 20
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