Descriptions and Teachings of `Abdu'l-Bahá — Center of the Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh.
Abdu'l-Baha was the natural son of the Prophet Baha'u'llah, and appointed by Him as the "Center" of His Covenant, to whom the Baha'is should turn after His passing (1892). To the Baha'is he provided wisdom, guidance, and interpretation, and the example of a saintly life. Indeed, he could be an example for all humanity, as to how a human being could live with nobility, integrity and humility. He was born on the very evening that the Baha'i Revelation began, May 23, 1844, and passed away in 1921, nine years after his visit to America.
"Seldom have I seen one whose appearance impressed me more. A tall strongly-built man holding himself straight as an arrow, with white turban and raiment, long black locks reaching almost to the shoulder, broad powerful forehead indicating a strong intellect combined with an unswerving will, eyes keen as a hawk's, and strongly-marked but pleasing features such was my first impression of `Abbás Effendi, 'the master' as he par excellence is called.... One more eloquent of speech, more ready of argument, more apt of illustration, more intimately acquainted with the sacred books of the Jews, the Christians, and the Muhammadans, could, I should think, scarcely be found even amongst the eloquent, ready, and subtle race to which he belongs. These qualities, combined with a bearing at once majestic and genial, made me cease to wonder at the influence and esteem which he enjoyed even beyond the circle of his father's followers. About the greatness of this man and his power no one who had seen him could entertain a doubt."
(Prof. Edward Granville Browne, Cambridge University scholar, initially met `Abdu'l-Bahá in 1890, and came to know Him well.)
". . . If ever the name of Bahá'u'lláh or Abdu'l-Bahá comes to your attention, do not put their writings from you.
`Abdu'l-Bahá in Paris in 1912
`Abdu'l-Bahá as a young man
Search out their books, and let their glorious peace-bringing, love creating words and lessons sink into your hearts as they have into mine." — Queen Marie of Romania (Rumania)—renowned granddaughter of Queen Victoria. (photo) She was the first crowned head to become a Bahá'í. Originally the Princess Marie of Edinburgh, she was grand-daughter to Queen Victoria, the only ruler among those addressed by Bahá'u'lláh who did not give a wholly negative response to His message.
Abdu'l-Baha will surely unite the East and the West, for He walks the mystical path with practical feet.
Dr. David Starr Jordan -- a Baha'i, scientist, educator, writer, institution builder and first President of Stanford University. (1, 2, 3)
If there were no other testimony to the truth of the above words by David Starr Jordan, the story of Abdu'l-Baha's funeral would suffice. One Christian who spoke at the funeral, feeling the overwhelming sense of loss to both the East and the West, expressed the universal sentiment of the ten-thousand people who were present at the funeral in these words: "Our father has left us!"
Shoghi Effendi, Abdu'l-Baha's grandson, and Guardian of the Baha'i Faith, has given us the following account:
The news of His passing, so sudden, so unexpected, spread like wildfire throughout the town [Haifa], and was flashed instantly over the wires to distant parts of the globe, stunning with grief the community of the followers of Baha'u'llah in East and West. Messages from far and near, from high and low alike, through cablegrams and letters, poured in conveying. . . expressions of praise, of devotion, of anguish and of sympathy.
The British Secretary of State for the Colonies, Mr. Winston Churchill, telegraphed immediately to the High Commissioner for Palestine, Sir Herbert Samuel, instructing him to "convey to the Baha'i Community, on behalf of His Majesty's Government, their sympathy and condolence." Viscount Allenby, the High Commissioner for Egypt, wired the High Commissioner for Palestine asking him to "convey to the relatives of the late Sir Abdu'l-Baha Abbas Effendi and to the Baha'i Community" his "sincere sympathy in the loss of their revered leader." The Council of Ministers in Baghdad instructed the Prime Minister Siyyid Abdu'r-Rahman to extend their "sympathy to the family of His Holiness Abdu'l-Baha in their bereavement." The Commander-in-Chief of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force, General Congreve, addressed to the High Commissioner for Palestine a message requesting him to "convey his deepest sympathy to the family of the late Sir Abbas Baha'i." General Sir Arthur Money, former Chief Administrator of Palestine, wrote expressing his sadness, his profound respect and his admiration for Him as well as his sympathy in the loss which His family had sustained. One of the distinguished figures in the academic life of the University of Oxford, a famous professor and scholar, wrote on behalf of himself and his wife: "The passing beyond the veil into fuller life must be specially wonderful and blessed for One Who has always fixed His thoughts on high, and striven to lead an exalted life here below."
Many and divers newspapers, such as the London "Times," the "Morning Post," the "Daily Mail," the "New York World," "Le Temps," the "Times of India" and others, in different languages and countries, paid their tribute to One Who had rendered the Cause of human brotherhood and peace such signal and imperishable services.
The High Commissioner, Sir Herbert Samuel, sent immediately a message conveying his desire to attend the funeral in person, in order as he himself later wrote, to "express my respect for His creed and my regard for His person." As to the funeral itself, which took place on Tuesday morning -- a funeral the like of which Palestine had never seen - no less than ten thousand people participated representing every class, religion and race in that country. "A great throng," bore witness at a later date, the High Commissioner himself, "had gathered together, sorrowing for His death, but rejoicing also for His life." Sir Ronald Storrs, 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."
The coffin containing the remains of Abdu'l-Baha was borne to its last resting-place on the shoulders of His loved ones. The cortege which preceded it was led by the City Constabulary Force, acting as a Guard of Honor, behind which followed in order the Boy Scouts of the Muslim and Christian communities holding aloft their banners, a company of Muslim choristers chanting their verses from the Qur'an, the chiefs of the Muslim community headed by the Mufti, and a number of Christian priests, Latin, Greek and Anglican. Behind the coffin walked the members of His family, the British High Commissioner, Sir Herbert Samuel, the Governor of Jerusalem, Sir Ronald Storrs, the Governor of Phoenicia, Sir Stewart Symes, officials of the government, consuls of various countries resident in Haifa, notables of Palestine, Muslim, Jewish, Christian and Druze, Egyptians, Greeks, Turks, Arabs, Kurds, Europeans and Americans, men, women and children. 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 Bab.
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, and who included the Mufti of Haifa, delivered their several funeral orations. These concluded, the High Commissioner drew close to the casket, and, with bowed head fronting the Shrine, paid his last homage of farewell to Abdu'l-Baha: the other officials of the Government followed his example. 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 Bab.
During the week following His passing, from fifty to a hundred of the poor of Haifa were daily fed at His house, whilst on the seventh day corn was distributed in His memory to about a thousand of them irrespective of creed or race. On the fortieth day an impressive memorial feast was held in His memory, to which over six hundred of the people of Haifa, Akka and the surrounding parts of Palestine and Syria, including officials and notables of various religions and races, were invited. More than one hundred of the poor were also fed on that day.
One of the assembled guests, the Governor of Phoenicia, paid a last tribute to the memory of Abdu'l-Baha in the following words: "Most of us here have, I think, a clear picture of Sir Abdu'l-Baha Abbas, of His dignified figure walking thoughtfully in our streets, of His courteous and gracious manner, of His kindness, of His love for little children and flowers, of His generosity and care for the poor and suffering. So gentle was He, and so simple, that in His presence one almost forgot that He was also a great teacher, and that His writings and His conversations have been a solace and an inspiration to hundreds and thousands of people in the East and in the West."
Thus was brought to a close the ministry of One Who was the incarnation, by virtue of the rank bestowed upon Him by His Father, of an institution that has no parallel in the entire field of religious history, a ministry that marks the final stage in the Apostolic, the Heroic and most glorious Age of the Dispensation of Bahá'u'lláh.(Shoghi Effendi: God Passes By, Pages: 311-314)
The first cablegram to London from the British General who captured Haifa from the Ottoman Turkish Empire, was to "notify the world that Abdu'l-Baha is safe," -- a testimony to the recognition of Abdu'l-Baha's station.
. . . Lord Lamington, who immediately wrote to the Foreign Office to "explain the importance of Abdu'l-Baha's position;" on the despatch which the Foreign Secretary, Lord Balfour, on the day of the receipt of this letter, sent to General Allenby, instructing him to "extend every protection and consideration to Abdu'l-Baha, His family and His friends;" on the cablegram subsequently sent by the General, after the capture of Haifa, to London, requesting the authorities to "notify the world that Abdu'l-Baha is safe;" on the orders which that same General issued to the General Commanding Officer in command of the Haifa operations to insure Abdu'l-Baha's safety, thus frustrating the express intention of the Turkish Commander-in-Chief (according to information which had reached the British Intelligence Service) to "crucify Abdu'l-Baha and His family on Mt. Carmel" in the event of the Turkish army being compelled to evacuate Haifa and retreat northwards. (Shoghi Effendi: God Passes By, p: 306) As to the most great characteristic of the revelation of Baha'u'llah, a specific teaching not given by any of the Prophets of the past: It is the ordination and appointment of the Center of the Covenant. By this appointment and provision He has safeguarded and protected the religion of God against differences and schisms, making it impossible for anyone to create a new sect or faction of belief. To ensure unity and agreement He has entered into a Covenant with all the people of the world, including the interpreter and explainer of His teachings, so that no one may interpret or explain the religion of God according to his own view or opinion and thus create a sect founded upon his individual understanding of the divine Words.(`Abdu'l-Baha: Promulgation of Universal Peace, Pages: 455-456)(Click here) to read some of `Abdu'l-Bahá's teaching.
(Click here) to read A Description of `Abdu'l-Bahá in the Words of His Father, Baha'u'llah.
Shrine of the Báb on Mt. Carmel, Haifa, Israel
(where Abdu'l-Baha's body was laid to rest)
(Eulogies from Christian, Jewish, and Muslim leaders: Abdu'l-Baha's funeral-- also see a photograph of the funeral)
To read some of the teachings of Abdu'l-Baha, see Some Answered Questions -- Sample topics below include:
The Influence of the Prophets in the Evolution of Humanity
1: NATURE IS GOVERNED BY ONE UNIVERSAL LAW
2: PROOFS AND EVIDENCES OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD
3: THE NEED OF AN EDUCATOR
8: THE BÁB
10: TRADITIONAL PROOFS EXEMPLIFIED FROM THE BOOK OF DANIEL
11: COMMENTARY ON THE ELEVENTH CHAPTER OF THE REVELATION OF ST. JOHN
12: COMMENTARY ON THE ELEVENTH CHAPTER OF ISAIAH
13: COMMENTARY ON THE TWELFTH CHAPTER OF THE REVELATION OF ST. JOHN
14: SPIRITUAL PROOFS
15: TRUE WEALTH
Some Christian Subjects
16: OUTWARD FORMS AND SYMBOLS must be used to convey INTELLECTUAL CONCEPTIONS
17: THE BIRTH OF CHRIST
18: THE GREATNESS OF CHRIST IS DUE TO HIS PERFECTIONS
19: THE BAPTISM OF CHRIST
20: THE NECESSITY OF BAPTISM
21: THE SYMBOLISM OF THE BREAD AND THE WINE
23: THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST
24: THE DESCENT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT UPON THE APOSTLES
25: THE HOLY SPIRIT
26: THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST AND THE DAY OF JUDGMENT
27: THE TRINITY
28: EXPLANATION OF VERSE 5, CHAPTER 17, OF THE GOSPEL OF ST. JOHN
29: EXPLANATION 1ST CORINTHIANS 15:22
30: ADAM AND EVE
31: EXPLANATION OF BLASPHEMY AGAINST THE HOLY SPIRIT
32: EXPLANATION OF THE VERSE "FOR MANY ARE CALLED BUT FEW ARE CHOSEN"
33: THE "RETURN" SPOKEN OF BY THE PROPHETS
34: PETER'S CONFESSION OF FAITH
On the Powers and Conditions of the Manifestations of God
36: THE FIVE ASPECTS OF SPIRIT
37: THE DIVINITY CAN ONLY BE COMPREHENDED THROUGH THE DIVINE MANIFESTATIONS
38: THE THREE STATIONS OF THE DIVINE MANIFESTATIONS
39: THE HUMAN CONDITION AND THE SPIRITUAL CONDITION OF THE DIVINE MANIFESTATIONS
40: THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE DIVINE MANIFESTATIONS
41: THE UNIVERSAL CYCLES
42: THE POWER AND INFLUENCE OF THE DIVINE MANIFESTATIONS
43: THE TWO CLASSES OF PROPHETS
44: EXPLANATION OF THE REBUKES ADDRESSED BY GOD TO THE PROPHETS
45: Explanation of the verse of the The Kitab-i-Aqdas:
"There is No Partner for Him Who is the Dayspring of Revelation in His Most Great Infallibility"
On the Origin, Powers & Conditions of Man
46: MODIFICATION OF SPECIES
47: THE UNIVERSE IS WITHOUT BEGINNING; THE ORIGIN OF MAN
48: THE DIFFERENCE EXISTING BETWEEN MAN AND ANIMAL
49: THE GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE HUMAN RACE
50: SPIRITUAL PROOFS OF THE ORIGIN OF MAN
51: THE SPIRIT AND MIND OF MAN HAVE EXISTED FROM THE BEGINNING
52: THE APPEARING OF THE SPIRIT IN THE BODY
53: THE RELATION BETWEEN GOD AND THE CREATURE
54: ON THE PROCEEDING OF THE HUMAN SPIRIT FROM GOD
55: SOUL, SPIRIT AND MIND
56: THE PHYSICAL POWERS AND THE INTELLECTUAL POWERS
57: THE CAUSES OF THE DIFFERENCES IN THE CHARACTERS OF MEN
58: THE DEGREE OF KNOWLEDGE POSSESSED BY MAN AND THE DIVINE MANIFESTATIONS
59: MAN'S KNOWLEDGE OF GOD
60: THE IMMORTALITY OF THE SPIRIT (1)
61: THE IMMORTALITY OF THE SPIRIT (2)
62: PERFECTIONS ARE WITHOUT LIMIT
63: THE PROGRESS OF MAN IN THE OTHER WORLD
64: THE STATE OF MAN AND HIS PROGRESS AFTER DEATH
65: EXPLANATION OF A VERSE IN THE KITÁB-I-AQDAS
"...whoso is deprived thereof, hath gone astray, though he be the author of every righteous deed."
66: THE EXISTENCE OF THE RATIONAL SOUL AFTER THE DEATH OF THE BODY
66B: THE IMMORTALITY OF CHILDREN
67: ETERNAL LIFE AND ENTRANCE INTO THE KINGDOM OF GOD
69: THE INFLUENCE OF THE STARS
70: FREE WILL
71: VISIONS AND COMMUNICATION WITH SPIRITS
72: HEALING BY SPIRITUAL MEANS
73: HEALING BY MATERIAL MEANS
74: THE NONEXISTENCE OF EVIL
75: TWO KINDS OF TORMENT
76: THE JUSTICE AND MERCY OF GOD
77: THE RIGHT METHOD OF TREATING CRIMINALS
79: THE REALITY OF THE EXTERIOR WORLD
80: REAL PREEXISTENCE
83: THE FOUR METHODS OF ACQUIRING KNOWLEDGE
84: THE NECESSITY OF FOLLOWING THE TEACHINGS OF THE DIVINE MANIFESTATIONS
Click here to see an interesting article on the influence of Abdu'l-Baha on Kahlil Gibran
Click here to see the portrait of Abdu'l-Baha in a hallway within the seat of the Universal House of Justice.
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