The news of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s passing on November 28, 1921, inspired an unprecedented event of unity among the Jewish, Christian, Muslim and Druze communities of Haifa.
The funeral of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, “a funeral the like of which Palestine had never seen,” drew “no less than ten thousand people … representing every class, religion and race in that country.” “A great throng,” the British High Commissioner wrote, “had gathered together, sorrowing for His death, but rejoicing also for His life.” The Governor of Jerusalem at the time also wrote in describing the funeral: “I have never known a more united expression of regret and respect than was called forth by the utter simplicity of the ceremony.”Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, rev. ed. (Wilmette: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1987), p. 312.
“The coffin containing the remains of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was borne to its last resting-place on the shoulders of His loved ones… The long train of mourners, amid the sobs and moans of many a grief-stricken heart, wended its slow way up the slopes of Mt. Carmel to the Mausoleum of the Báb… Close to the eastern entrance of the Shrine, the sacred casket was placed upon a plain table, and, in the presence of that vast concourse, nine speakers, who represented the Muslim, the Jewish and Christian Faiths … delivered their several funeral orations. The coffin was then removed to one of the chambers of the Shrine, and there lowered, sadly and reverently, to its last resting-place in a vault adjoining that in which were laid the remains of the Báb.”God Passes By, p. 313.
The following are extracts from some of the speeches given on the occasion of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s funeral.The remaining text of this article is taken from H. M. Balyuzi, ’Abdu’l-Bahá (London: George Ronald, 1971), pp. 466-72.
The first speaker was Yúsuf al-Khatib, a well-known Muslim orator:
The next speaker was Ibrahim Nassar, a celebrated Christian writer:
The Christian writer was followed by the Mufti of Haifa, Muhammad Murad:
Another distinguished Muslim, ‘Abdu’llah Mukhlish, followed the Mufti of Haifa:
Next, Shaykh Yúnus al-Khatib, a Muslim poet of note, recited a poem he had composed; and he was followed by Bishop Bassilious, the head of the Greek Catholic Church of Haifa, who dwelt particularly on ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s humanitarian deeds, His generosity to the poor, His charm and majesty of mien. Then came the turn of the youth to pay homage and tribute. Wadi’ Bustani, a young Christian, had a poem to offer. Here are some lines from it:
Among the final speakers was Salomon Bouzaglo, one of the leading figures of the Jewish population of Haifa, who spoke in French. Here is a translation of his speech: