Posted by: samandal | November 20, 2009

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, I

Universal Children’s Day

‘Abdu’l-Bahá (Arabic, Servant of Bahá [Splendor, Glory]) is the religious title of ‘Abbás Effendí (1844–1921), the eldest son and successor of Bahá’u’lláh.

Bahá’u’lláh referred to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá as the “Master” (Áqá), the “Most Great Branch” (ghusn-i-a‘zam), the “Mystery of God” (sirru’lláh), and the “Limb of the Law of God” who “encompassed the whole of creation.” Bahá’u’lláh explicitly named ‘Abdu’l-Bahá as his successor in his will, the Kitáb-i-‘Ahd (Book of the Covenant), and directed that after his own death, his disciples should turn to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá as the interpreter of his writings. In the Súri-yi-Ghusn (Tablet of the Branch), Bahá’u’lláh clearly stated that those who had turned toward ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had turned toward God, while those who rejected him had repudiated Bahá’u’lláh.

Love is a veil of fire                                                                                           that rends itself asunder.                                                                      (Anonymous)

‘Abdu’l-Bahá was born on the same night that Mullá Husayn accepted the claims of ‘Alí-Muhammad to be the Báb. His mother was Ásíyih, the first wife of Bahá’u’lláh, later and more widely known by her title Navváb. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá began to assist his father while still a youth as one of his secretaries, and eventually took responsibility for the practical affairs of the exile community in ‘Akká. He read widely and became renowned and respected among Ottoman officials and reformers, and came to be seen by the general population as a pious community leader who gave alms to the poor and regularly attended the local Sunní mosque.

“God has given man the eye of investigation by which he may see and recognize truth … Man is not intended to see through the eyes of another, hear through another’s ears nor comprehend with another’s brain … Therefore, depend upon your own reason and judgment and adhere to the outcome of your own investigation …”         (‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Foundations of World Unity, page 76)

In 1873, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá married Munírih Khánum (1847-1938), a young woman from a prominent Isfáhání Bahá’í merchant family. She was chosen for him by Bahá’u’lláh, who arranged for her to be brought to ‘Akká. Two sons and three daughters died in childhood, but four daughters survived to adulthood. Unlike his father, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá remained monogamous. His sister, Bahiyyih Khánum, wife and daughters remained loyal to him when his half-brother, Muhammad-‘Alí, the archbreaker of the Covenant, conspired to undermine his leadership and rejected his authority.

“This world is full of deception. It keeps the young, as well as the old, restless.”      (Bú ‘Alí Sháh Qalandar)