'Abdu'l-Baha and the Merchant
Updated: May 29
Story of 'Abdu'l-Baha's Patience in Pursuit of Justice
After our liberation from the barracks and the termination of this affair, my brother was able to mingle freely with the people of Akká, and he at once began to establish friendly relations with them. As illustrating the manner in which he gradually won their good-will, an incident occurs to me which I will relate. The believers needed fuel, but the people would not sell it to them. They regarded us as heretics and thought there was merit for them in harshness and unkindness towards us. Abbas Effendi obtained permission to send out of the city for charcoal, and a camel-load was brought back. The driver was stopped by a Christian merchant. 'This is better charcoal than I can get,' he said, and without more ceremony took it for himself - nor would he return the money paid for it.
This was reported to my brother. He went to the merchant's shop and stood in the door. He was not noticed. Then he entered and sat down by the door. The merchant continuing to transact his business with those who came and paying him no attention, he waited in silence for three hours. At length, when the others had left and no more came, the merchant said to him : 'Are you one of those prisoners here?' Abbas Effendi assenting, he continued: 'What have you done that you are imprisoned?'
'Since you ask me,' replied Abbas Effendi, 'I will tell you. We have done nothing. We are persecuted as Christ was persecuted.'
'What do you know of Christ?' said the merchant.
My brother replied in such a manner that the merchant perceived that he was not ignorant of Christ and the Christian Bible. He then began to question him about the Bible and was interested in his replies, as my brother gave him explanations which he had never before heard.
Next he invited my brother to a seat beside him and continued the conversation for two hours. At its conclusion he seemed much pleased, and said: 'The coal is gone, - I cannot return you that, but here is the money.' He then escorted my brother to the door and down into the street, treating him with the greatest respect. Since that time he and Abbas Effendi have been fast friends, and the two families also.
-Myron Henry Phelps and Bahiyyih Khánum, Life and Teachings of Abbas Effendi, p. 77-79