Persian-English friendship and a brief history

September 13, 1911: a meeting of the friends at the home of Mrs. Thornburgh-Cropper in London

A provisional translation from Khetabat-e Hazrat-e `Abdu’l-Baha dar safr-e-Europa (Talks of ‘Abdu’l-Baha in his European travels), Vol. 1 page 23, with reference to an earlier publication on page 13 of the Persian section of Star of the West vol. 2 No. 18, Mulk (February 7), 1911, where the talk is dated Thursday, 20 Ramadan 1329, which is September 14.

Some notes have been included in the first comment to this post. The translation is personal and provisional, and comments are welcome.

Welcome! Welcome!

The people of Iran are very pleased that I have come here. My coming here will foster friendship between Britain and Iran, so that ideal bonds are established. The effects will be such that soon some Iranians will be willing to sacrifice their lives for Britain, just as the British sacrifice their lives for Iran. [see Note 1] So they are very happy. That is, I cannot express my satisfaction with the results. I ask God to make these two communities like two brothers. May the bonds between them be so close that they will last forever. Originally the people of Iran and Britain were one. In ancient times they were Aryans, living on the shores of the River … [see note]. They entered Iran and populated it and became very numerous. From there they went to the Caucasus, and they multiplied. They migrated to Europe. These two peoples, the Aryan and the British, are brothers. That is why the English language contains many Persian words, which shows that the two peoples were once one, and now God has provided the means for them to come together, so that the two will return to their original condition. This will certainly happen.

The Bab appeared seventy years ago in Shiraz and announced the good news of the Kingdom of God. He sacrificed his own life in the path of God. He prepared the people for the love of God. Nine years later, the Blessed Beauty (Baha’u’llah) appeared. He proclaimed that God is one, and called the people of all religions to cling to that which is the foundation of the heavenly religions. The foundation of the heavenly religions is one, and the Law of God is one. All the prophets have been raised up to proclaim this. Therefore every religious community that implements God’s counsels attains to the truth. The teachings of God are one and the edifice of the love of God is one. This is the cause of oneness and unity for humanity. The Blessed Beauty suffered many hardships in the path of God. He was in chains in prison, he suffered under the bastinado and the lash, and then he was exiled to Baghdad. However Naser al-Din Shah was not satisfied. The Shah, who ruled as an absolute monarch, did not rest until the Blessed Beauty was sent to Akka where, with the consent of Sultan Abdulhamid II, he was imprisoned. The fortress of Akka is a prison that can hardly be imagined. No prisoner there could survive a year.

The Blessed Beauty devoted his whole life to promoting unity between the hearts of all people, so that they are kind to one another: no more contention and conflict, no more killing and wars. Humanity is one family and every individual is a sign of the decree of unity. Consider what a great bounty the Blessed Beauty has granted; what a bright lamp he has lit! What illumination he has shed on East and West! By the power of the Holy Spirit, he has unfurled the banner of unity. It was for this that he endured such hardships.

Now, thanks be to God, the effects are evident: we are from the East and we are sitting with you, in love, with one spirit and one will. I will pray that he may grant these bounties: that all of you may become loving friends to one another, that he may glorify the honoured nation of Britain and assist this just government.

Some notes have been included in the first comment to this post.

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One thought on “Persian-English friendship and a brief history

  1. Notes

    1. “ individuals in Iran are [happy] to offer their lives for the British.”
    The reference is probably to the solidarity between the Bahais, but this is not stated. It cannot be referring to Persian soldiers serving in the South Persia Rifles, since that was not formed until 1916. However Luri tribesmen had previously been recruited by the British firm of Lynch Brothers as “road guards” to protect the Bakhtiyari Road from brigands, and in 1909 Bahktiyari guards replaced the Indian Lancers who had been protecting the investments of the D’Arcy Oil Syndicate. The D’Arcy syndicate became the Anglo-Persian Oil Company in 1909. See Arash Khazeni, Tribes and Empire on the margins of the Nineteenth Century pp. 150-151.

    2. “On the shores of the River…”
    The copyist of the Star of the West version has either found something illegible here, or the scribe who took the Persian notes missed a word, and Abdu’l-Baha did not provide a correction. Or perhaps Abdu’l-Baha originally misspoke, naming the wrong river, and the ellipsis (…) is his own correction. The Khetabat version has the same ellipsis. The words nahr and nohor, meaning river or rivers, are written in the same way, so it is not possible to say whether Abdu’l-Baha located the origin of the Indo-European peoples at one or several rivers. However by the early 20th century, the Volga-Ural interfluvial flood plain had been suggested as the origin of these peoples. The Volga is known as the Nahr-e Aatel in Persian (and also by its modern name, Sha-wulga). It was recognized at that time that the Indo-European languages, with a geographic range from Sanskrit in India to Portuguese in the West, have a common origin.

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