`Abdu'l-Bahá (1844-1921)

Portrait of `Abdu'l-Bahá.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, eldest surviving son of Bahá'u'lláh and His designated successor. Named 'Abbás after his grandfather, 'Abdu'l-Bahá was known as 'Abbás Effendi outside the Bahá'í community. 'Abdu'l- Bahá was born in Tihrán, Iran, on 23 May 1844. While still a child, He recognized His Father's station even before it had been openly revealed. He shared Bahá'u'lláh's sufferings and banishments, and often served as His Father's deputy when dealing with officials and the public. He took as His title `Abdu'l- Bahá, the "servant of Bahá." after passing of Bahá'u'lláh.

Bahá'u'lláh in the Kitáb-i-'Ahdí (Book of the Covenant), He named 'Abdu'l-Bahá as His successor and the authorized interpreter of the Bahá'í teachings and as Head of the Faith after His own passing. In `Abdu'l-Bahá was seen a perfect example of the Bahá'í way of life. While not regarding 'Abdu'l-Bahá as a prophet, Bahá'ís show special respect to His unique station.

In 1873 'Abdu'l-Bahá married Munírih Khánum. Of their nine children, four daughters lived to adulthood. His eldest daughter was the mother of Shoghi Effendi. While `Abdu'l-Baháwas still a prisoner of the Ottomans the first Bahá'í pilgrims from the western world arrived in Acre in 1898.

In 1901 Sultán 'Abdu'l-Hamid II again ordered 'Abdu'l-Bahá confined to 'Akká but in 1908 He was set free after the Young Turks' revolution. It was 'Abdu'l-Bahá who, at the instruction of Bahá'u'lláh, saw to the transfer of the Báb's remains to the Holy Land and their interment in a permanent shrine on Mount Carmel in 1909.

In 1911 He began His historic journeys to Europe and North America. There He proclaimed Bahá'u'lláh's message of unity and social justice to church congregations, peace societies, the members of trade unions, university faculties, journalists, government officials, and many public audiences. He returned to the Holy Land in 1913. Renowned outside the Bahá'í community for His humanitarian work, 'Abdu'l-Bahá was knighted in 1920 by the British government for his efforts for the relief of hunger in Palestine during World War I.

`Abdu'l-Bahá passed away in Haifa on 28 November 1921, having consolidated the foundations of the Bahá'í Faith and greatly expanded its reach. The northern rooms of the Shrine of the Báb, where He is interred, are a place of pilgrimage for Bahá'ís visiting the World Center of their Faith.

During His lifetime, 'Abdu'l-Bahá wrote many books and Tablets, interpreting and elucidating the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh. Among His books published in English are The Secret of Divine Civilization, Memorials of the Faithful and A Traveller's Narrative. In addition, the texts of many of His talks and Tablets have been collected and published in volumes such as Tablets of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Tablets of Divine Plan, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, Some Answered Questions and Paris Talks.

In His Will and Testament, 'Abdu'l-Bahá names His grandson, Shoghi-Effendi to succeed Him as Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith.

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