Posted by: samandal | November 28, 2009

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, IV

Ascension of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

“Dare to be wise.”                                                                                      (Horace)

In his Will and Testament, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá appointed his eldest grandson, Shoghí Effendí, to be the Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith after him to ensure that the Faith would remain protected from his opponents. He outlined the system for the election of the Universal House of Justice, the administrative body over which the Guardian was to preside, and he excluded Muhammad-‘Alí from the succession. He also encouraged the formation of elected assemblies (administrative councils at both local and national levels) as well as educational, medical, economic and cultural initiatives.

The Turkish revolution of 1908 finally liberated ‘Abdu’l-Bahá from his forty-year-long confinement in ‘Akká. In 1910 he moved to the Israeli port city of Haifa (located on the slopes of Carmel) which now serves as the permanent headquarters of the Bí-Valí (Sans-Guardian) tradition of the Bahá’í Faith. He next moved to Egypt and embarked on a journey to visit the Bahá’ís of Britain and France (September–December 1911). He made another journey to visit the Bahá’ís of the United States and Canada, and returned to Britain and France and visited Germany and Austria-Hungary as well. He then returned to Egypt and finally to Haifa in a state of exhaustion.

The onset of World War I in 1914 prevented any further travel, and led to new threats against his life from the political leader, Cemal Paşa. This ended with the collapse of Turkish military power and the establishment of the British Mandate for Palestine. The immediate aftermath of the war brought famine to Palestine, but ‘Abdu’l-Bahá averted hunger in Haifa through the supply of grain stocks from his personal storage of grain, for which the British secured him a knighthood in 1920. His death and ascension to heaven on 28 November 1921 was marked by the vast number and religious diversity of mourners in attendance at his funeral.

“Revelation is not vicarious thinking. The prophets tried to extend the horizon of our conscience and to impart to us a sense of the divine partnership in our dealings with good and evil and in our wrestling with life’s enigmas. They tried to teach us how to think in the categories of God: holiness, justice and compassion. The full meaning of the [scriptural] words was not disclosed once and for all … the word was given once; the effort to understand it must go on forever.”                                           (Abraham Joshua Heschel: God in Search of Man, page 273)