The Master in ‘Akka:
Including the Recollections of The Greatest Holy Leaf
Kalimát Press, Revised Edition.
Myron Phelps’s Life and Teachings of Abbas Effendi is a classic of Bahá’í literature. It was the first attempt in English to write a full-length book about ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the Master. An American lawyer from New York, Phelps was not himself a Bahá’í but was deeply attracted to the Bahá’í teachings and had come to know and to love ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. His work was published in 1903; this book reprints the first six chapters of that volume.
Phelps had traveled to Palestine and had stayed in ‘Akká for one month as the guest of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. He records with tender devotion the daily life and habits of the Master–his service to the poor, his crushing workday, his tolerance, his gait, his gestures, even the food that he ate. These chapters offer the reader a unique and priceless portrait of the Perfect Exemplar of the Bahá’í way of life.
The most precious portion of the book, however, is the history of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s life (and that of all the Holy Family) told in intimate detail by the Greatest Holy Leaf (Bahíyyih Khánum), the Master’s sister. This is the longest and most complete interview of the Holy Leaf known to exist. Her words are as simple and direct as they are powerful and moving. She tells of the intense joys and the many sorrows of her life in exile with her Father, Bahá’u’lláh, and her brother. Her narrative provides a view of Bahá’í history seldom seen elsewhere. Marzieh Gail’s new foreword to this reprint provides the reader with a broad picture of the historical circumstances surrounding Phelps’s visit to ‘Akká and his publication of this book.