Abdu’l-Baha was the eldest son of Baha’u’llah who referred to Him as “the Mystery of God” and “a shelter for all mankind”, however Abdu’l-Baha preferred to be called “Abdu’l-Baha” which means “the Servant of Baha” in reference to His servitude to Baha’u’llah. When Abdu’l-Baha passed away on 28 November 1921, He was eulogized as One who led humanity to the “Way of Truth,” as a “pillar of peace” and the embodiment of “glory and greatness.”
When the Moon Set Over Haifa – A New Book About the Ascension of Abdu’l-Baha
Angelina Diliberto Allen has penned a new historical book called When the Moon Set Over Haifa. This book shares the stories of six Westerners who were in Haifa at the time of the Passing of Abdu’l-Baha on November 28, 1921. There were five pilgrims: John Bosch and Louise Stapfer Bosch, Dr. Florian Krug and Grace Krug, and Fraulein Johanna Hauff. The only other Western believer present was Curtis Kelsey from New York, who was there to install electrical power plants to light the Shrines of the Bab and Baha’u’llah.
This book tells the story of these six Baha’is and explores how their experiences at the time of the Ascension of Abdu’l-Baha shaped their lives. Angelina’s book is such a gift, especially in this special commemorative year when we reflect on the Life of Abdu’l-Baha. You can hear Angelina talk about her book, and many other fascinating topics, in this episode of the Baha’i Blogcast with Rainn Wilson but in this interview, we hear specifically about When the Moon Set Over Haifa. Here’s what Angelina graciously shared with us:
Baha’i Blog: Could you please tell us a little about your book and what inspired you to write it?
This book tells the story of the events that took place on the night of the passing of Abdu’l-Baha on November 28, 1921 from the perspective of the six Western believers who were present that night. It also tells the story of the events that took place on the day of the public reading of the Will and Testament of Abdu’l-Baha on January 7, 1922 from the perspective of some of those same Western believers. I was inspired to write about this historical period after reading this passage written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi: “The contents of the Will of the Master are far too much for the present generation to comprehend. It needs at least a century of actual working before the treasures of wisdom hidden in it can be revealed…”. So, it seemed to me that understanding the events that surrounded the passing of Abdu’l-Baha, and the subsequent unfoldment of the provisions of His Will and Testament, suggests tremendous spiritual relevance today because it marks one hundred years of the unity and integrity of the Cause of Baha’u’llah.
Baha’i Blog: What was the process like to put this work together? What challenges did you face?
It is interesting to note that at the conclusion of Abdu’l-Baha’s Will and Testament He warns against those who might seek to misrepresent the Sacred Text. This is one of the great protections of the unity of the Cause of God. When we write about the Faith of Baha’u’llah, faithful and dignified representation of His Cause is of the utmost importance. As our Baha’i history continues to unfold, anyone writing about that history must rely on the best information available at the time. Therefore, one of the challenges in writing this book, was to find the most accurate information available to me at this time. I am so deeply grateful for the generosity of the German and the United States National Baha’i Archives for helping me find so many precious treasures held in their care.
Baha’i Blog: Who is the intended audience of your book?
While it is challenging for Baha’is to convey to their friends the spiritual importance that the passing of Abdu’l-Baha has for us, all would agree that the passing of Abdu’l-Baha and the application of His Will offers a profound degree of certitude to Baha’is and to our co-religionists. After all, the aims of the world-embracing Faith of Baha’u’llah are preserved and protected because of the Will and Testament of Abdu’l-Baha. We all want the Will of God to succeed in this world, and the Will and Testament of Abdu’l-Baha is a proof that God’s Will shall prevail.
Baha’i Blog: What do you hope people will take away long after they’ve finished reading?
There are so many Baha’is in the world who wish they could be in Haifa during this momentous time, and it is my hope that in reading about these events, the reader will be transported to Haifa. I promise you that the last chapter will transport you to Haifa—it’s the chapter about Curtis Kelsey and how he carried out one of Abdu’l-Baha’s final wishes, which was to install the electricity that would light up both the Shrine of the Bab and the Shrine of Baha’u’llah simultaneously.
Baha’i Blog: What was something special you learned in the process of putting this book together?
There are four chapters in this book. Each chapter has a surprise—something the reader did not know, and knowing it, deepens one’s whole understanding of Abdu’l-Baha. For instance, the title of the book is in reference to the fact that it was a moonless night when Abdu’l-Baha passed. On the next day, the day of His funeral, it was a new moon. This deserves some reflection about the significance of Abdu’l-Baha’s Will and Testament, which would have been in effect immediately after His passing, even though it had not been read to the family until January 3rd—its power was in effect at the moment of His passing.
Baha’i Blog: Thank you, Angelina, for sharing with us about your book.
In her innermost heart, Sonjel is a stay-at-home parent and a bookworm with a maxed out library card but professionally she is a museologist with a background in English Literature. She currently lives on Prince Edward Island, an isle in the shape of a smile on the eastern Canadian coast. Sonjel is a writer who loves to listen to jazz when she's driving at night.