We feel that Edinburgh’s been blessed by the footsteps of `Abdu'l-Bahá": the significance of Edinburgh for the Bahá'í community - Ruhy
The Báb is the forerunner of Bahá'u'lláh [Founder of the Bahá'í Faith], and in that particular age, in the middle of the 19th Century, we were very privileged that we had not one but two Messengers from God: the Báb, who was His herald but yet had His own faith, the Bábí faith, and then Bahá'u'lláh, and they were separated by only a short period of 19 years. [Bahá'u'lláh and His son, `Abdu'l-Bahá, were banished from their native Iran, living in exile in the prison city of `Akká in Palestine.]
Jane Whyte [from Edinburgh] had visited him at `Akká, which is modern day Acre, in the Holy Land - this was all way before the State of Israel, this was part of the Ottoman empire - this was the penal colony. So both the Persian Empire and the Ottoman empire had imprisoned and exiled Bahá'u'lláh and his family here. My great grandfather on my mother’s side, he travelled from Shiraz which is the family home town, and went on foot to `Akká, where Bahá'u'lláh, the Founder of the Bahá'í faith, was imprisoned. Just to get a glimpse of him from the prison window. … After the Young Turk revolution, and the disintegration of the Ottoman empire, `Abdu'l-Bahá was no longer a prisoner. Bahá'u'lláh himself passed away as a prisoner in 1892, but `Abdu'l-Bahá was released in 1908. He was an elderly man at that stage, because He was born in 1844, [but] He embarked upon a series of travels throughout the East and the West [to spread the faith]… `Abdu'l-Bahá visited Paris, He visited many areas of the United States, and we’re very privileged in the UK that He visited us.
`Abdu'l-Bahá visited [Edinburgh] in 1913 at the invitation of Mrs Jane Whyte, who was the wife of Reverend Alexander Whyte. He was the minister of the Free Church, and the manse at that time was
7 Charlotte Square. So this is where `Abdu'l-Bahá resided… [He] gave a number of addresses - for example [in] Rainy Hall, Freemasons hall, Theosophical society. And He went to St Giles’ Cathedral, listened to Handel’s Messiah, so it was a jam packed visit that He had.… [The Bahá'í Centre] building was purchased in 2005, and is in the New Town on Albany Street, a smaller version of 7 Charlotte square, which is The Georgian house [where `Abdu'l-Bahá stayed]. So that is a very direct link to a central figure of the Bahá'í faith - with Edinburgh… We feel that Edinburgh’s been blessed by the footsteps of `Abdu'l-Bahá, and feel that that impact, even though we might not recognise it now, or appreciate it, will have an influence on how the whole city