Orientals Meeting in the West:
Foes Become Friends

By Mina Yazdani

First presented at the Irfan Colloquia Session #102
Bosch Baha'i School: Santa Cruz, California, USA
May 18–22, 2011
(see list of papers from #102)

    When `Abdu'l-Bahá `Abbás travelled to Europe and North America in 1911-1913, many of his father's followers, from both `East' and `West' showered him with devotion befitting the current head of their religion. At the same time, several other prominent Iranian travelers who had a history ranging from negative attitudes towards Bahá'ís to all-out opposition also sought audiences with him. The accounts of these visits describe mutually respectful interactions. His famous Iranian visitors included scholars and Qájár princes. Among them were Muhammad Qazvíní, a well-know scholar who had collaborated with British Orientalist, Edward Browne, to publish materials that undermined the claims of Baha'u'llah and supported those of his rival brother Mírzá Yahyá; Mírzá Mahdí Khán Za`ím'd-Dawlih Tabrízí, the author of a major anti-Bahá'í polemical work who visited `Abdu'l-Bahá on his return from Europe in 1913; and Mas`úd Mírzá Zill's-Sultán, the son of Násir'd-Dín Shah, and his own son Jalál'd-Dawlih, both of whom had persecuted and ordered the execution of Bahá'ís back in Iran.

    This paper posits explanations for the noticeable change in attitude evinced by these formerly antagonistic visitors toward `Abdu'l-Bahá. Investigating primary sources, including memoirs, chronicles and newspaper clippings, we will study the transformations that occurred in the interactions that `Abdu'l-Bahá had with other Iranian travelers.

this paper is not yet online