Montreal, November 26, 2018 - Friends of Outremont-Petite Patrie sponsored the beautiful celebration of the Day of the Covenant at the Montreal Bahá'í Center. Children of the community played an important role in preparation and presentation of the program.

'Abdu'l-Bahá, the Center of the Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh, was born on May 23, 1844, the day of the declaration of the mission of the Báb, the Herald of the Bahá'í Faith. `Abdu’l-Bahá had stated that since May 23 was also the day that the Báb declared his mission, and should be exclusively associated with him, that that day should under no circumstances be celebrated as 'Abdu'l-Bahá’s day of birth. However, as the Bahá’ís begged for a day to be celebrated as `Abdu’l-Bahá’s birthday, he gave them November 26, 181 days after the ascension of Bahá’u’lláh, to be observed as the day of the appointment of the Centre of the Covenant. The holiday was originally known as the Jashn-i-A’zam in Persian (The Greatest Festival), because `Abdu’l-Bahá was known as the Greatest Branch; in the West, the holy day became known as the Day of the Covenant. The day is one of two Bahá’í holy days where work does not need to be suspended.

Throughout the East and the West, 'Abdu'l-Bahá had earned a reputation as an ambassador for peace, a champion of justice, and the chief interpreter of a new Faith. During his travels in North America and Europe, he had proclaimed by word and deed, with force and persuasion, the essential principles of his father's religion. Addressing the great as well as the humble and all who crossed his path, he affirmed that "love is the greatest law,"that it is the foundation of "true civilization,"and that "what humanity urgently needs is, cooperation and reciprocity among all its peoples”.

The problem of succession has been crucial in all religions. The fact that it could not be solved inevitably engendered acrimony and divisions. The ambiguity surrounding the true successors of Jesus and Muhammad, for example, has led to divergent interpretations of the scriptures and a deep antagonism both within Christianity and Islam. Bahá'u'lláh, for his part, knew how to preserve his faith of schisms and built for himself impregnable foundations thanks to the provisions of his testament, the “Book of my Covenant".When the ocean of My presence hath ebbed and the Book of My Revelation is ended, turn your faces toward Him Whom God hath purposed, Who hath branched from this Ancient Root”. … “The object of this sacred verse is none other except the Most Mighty Branch [Abdu'l-Bahá]”.

By appointing 'Abdu'l-Bahá to succeed him, Bahá'u'lláh gives him the means to spread his message of hope and universal peace to the four corners of the planet, in order to realize the essential unity of all peoples. "May the glory of God be upon thee, and upon all who serve thee and circle around thee,"Bahá'u'lláh writes, referring to his son, "Woe, great misfortune to whom opposed thee and made thee wrong! ". To summarize, 'Abdu'l-Bahá is the center of the Bahá'u'lláh’s Covenant, the intercessor trustee for ensuring the unity of the Bahá'í community and preserving the integrity of its teachings.

As the authoritative interpreter of these teachings, 'Abdu'l-Bahá thus became "the mouthpiece of the Book, the interpreter of the Word". Without him, the enormous creative power of Bahá'u'lláh's revelation could not have been disseminated to mankind, nor could it be fully understood. He was able to elucidate the teachings of his father's faith, to develop doctrines, and to define the essential aspects of his administrative institutions. He served as an infallible guide and architect to a rapidly expanding Bahá'í community. Bahá'u'lláh had endowed him with "the virtues of perfection in his social and personal behavior so that mankind might see in him a lasting example to follow". As a perfect model of his father's teachings, and as a pivot of his covenant, 'Abdu'l-Bahá would become "the incorruptible intermediary to put the Word into action and to build a new civilization."

It seems obvious, in retrospection, that Bahá'u'lláh had carefully prepared his son to succeed him. Born on May 23, 1844, the same night that the Báb had inaugurated the beginning of a new religious cycle, 'Abdu'l-Bahá had already, as a child, shared the sufferings of his father at the time of the persecutions against the Bábís. He was eight years old when Bahá'u'lláh was thrown into prison for the first time, for being one of the main spokesmen and defenders of the Bábí Faith. He had not left his father during the endless exile that had led them from Persia to the capital of the Ottoman Empire, and finally to Palestine. Growing up, 'Abdu'l-Bahá became Bahá'u'lláh's most intimate companion, his delegate, his refuge, and his principal representative to the political and religious authorities of that time. His extraordinary ascendancy, knowledge and service earned the exiled Bahá'í community great prestige. Also, in the aftermath of Bahá'u'lláh's death in May 1892, 'Abdu'l-Bahá took the reins of the Bahá'í Faith to safeguard its unity.


Bahá'í Center


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