November 10, 2016

The Egyptian Baha’i merchant who wanted to see Baha’u’llah

Abdu’l-Karim was an Egyptian merchant of considerable wealth, who had heard the story of the new Revelation, and accepted it with the ardor of his eager temperament. After some time he felt that he could not be content without seeing the Messenger of God whose presence in the world had stirred his heart. So he wrote a letter to Acca, where Baha’u’llah, the new Manifestation of God, was and begged permission to visit Him.

Baha’u’llah’s answer greatly surprised him. He was told that he could come to Acca, but first he must put himself in a position where he owed no man anything.

Abdu’l-Karim had carried on his business for many years in the customary Oriental fashion, sending his caravans across the desert laden with a precious freight of riches. He had established lines of credit everywhere, and probably never dreamed of doing business on a cash basis. His commerce was constantly expanding and perhaps he was not too scrupulous in his dealings. We may be certain it had not occurred to him that his interest in the new Day of God would require him to revise his approach to doing business with his fellow man. A successful merchant is apt to fall into the habit of considering his own advantage first. Naturally Abdu’l-Karim was absorbed in the conduct of his rapidly broadening trade connections, for he was a man of fifty years when this momentous influence came into his life.

Abdu’l-Karim accepted without hesitation the required stipulation. Before all else he wanted to see the Manifestation of God, and everything became of secondary importance in comparison with this event.

He began, therefore, to arrange his affairs with this point in view. Previously he had thought only of expansion, of increase. Now his one desire was to reach the condition where he would owe no man anything. So he began to pay off his debts. As money came in, instead of investing it again, he paid a debt with it, until at length, after five years, he had attained his goal, and he did not owe a penny to anyone!