In early August 1887, several Beirut newspapers announced the departure of ‘the famous Abbas Effendi al-Irani’,1 who left the city heading towards Akka, the former crusader fortress in Palestine. During his stay in Beirut, Abbas Effendi met ulama¯ , notables and government officials ‘who flocked to visit him spending the whole night talking with him under the moonlight’.2

The newspaper announcements are not short of his praise. They describe the impact he had on the people he met during his visit, people who were impressed by both his immense knowledge and his extraordinary personality, ‘for he had such good character traits that he had won over the hearts immediately and made friendship to him an absolute priority’.3 Abbas Effendi, more commonly known as Abdul-Baha, had arrived in Beirut in late June 1887.4 Not much is known of the purpose of this visit to Beirut apart from the constant stream of visitors to him consisting of ‘the great men of the city’.5 Among the many men he met, one name, however, is known: Muhammad Abduh.