Abdu'l-Bahá and the Middle East

By Kamran Ekbal

First presented at the Irfan Colloquia Session #97
Centre for Bahá'í Studies: Acuto, Italy
July 3–6, 2010
(see list of papers from #97)

    The First World War led to major changes in the political landscape of the Middle East. The fall of the Ottoman Empire and its destruction by the allies, the October Revolution in Russia and the Soviet expedition to Gilan, British occupation of Palestine and increasing Jewish immigration into the Holy Land, an upsurge of Arab nationalism and the struggle for the establishment of an Arab Kingdom under Feisal are the main cornerstones of the new era in the history of the Middle East. The fall of Ottoman rule in Palestine brought also a period of increasing persecutions and danger for Abdu'l-Bahá and the Bahá'ís in the Holy Land to an end. Increasing numbers of visitors from East and West could now visit Abdu'l-Bahá and consult him on diverse matters of interest. Many wrote down their memoirs and transmit thus a vivid picture of the topics discussed with the Master. These topics, generally concerning questions of spiritual, metaphysical, philosophical and historical matters, of course drew also upon current events, the present and future situation of the Middle East and world affairs.

    Based mainly on the unpublished memoirs of Dr. Zia Baghdadi, one of the leading Bahá'ís of the United States who visited Abdu'l-Bahá from December 1919 till August 1920, this paper will give a preview of Abdu'l-Bahá's ideas and opinions on matters concerning the affairs of the Middle East.

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