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Montreal, November 25, 2020- In Montreal's neighbourhoods as well as around the world, hundreds of thousands of friends have organized virtual meetings to commemorate these two major events on the Bahá'í calendar.

On the day of 'Abdu'l-Bahá ascension, on November 29, 1921, ten thousand people, Jews, Christians and Muslims, of all faiths and denominations, gathered on Mount Carmel in the Holy Land to mourn the passing of a being celebrated as the essence of "virtue and wisdom, knowledge and generosity." He was a living example of self-sacrifice," a Jewish leader said that day, describing ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the son and chosen successor of Bahá’u’lláh. A Christian orator referred to him as the one who had led humanity to the "path of Truth," as a "pillar of peace," added a prominent Muslim leader, and as the embodiment of "glory and greatness." At his funeral, a Western observer reported, "a huge crowd had gathered, grieving His ascension but also rejoicing also for His life."

Throughout the East and the West, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had acquired the reputation of an ambassador of peace, a champion of justice, and the principal interpreter of a new Faith. During his travels in North America and Europe, he had proclaimed by word and example, with strength and persuasion, the essential principles of his father's religion. Addressing the great and 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.

Here is how an American observer describes him: He found a large and enthusiastic audience towards him, eager to greet him personally and to listen to his spiritual message of love from his mouth... Beyond words, something indescribable emerged from his personality that went straight to the heart of all who acceded in his presence. A dome-shaped face, a patriarch's beard, eyes that seemed to see beyond time and the senses, a soft but clear and penetrating voice, a clear humility, a love never defaulted, but above all, a sense of authority mixed with a feeling of gentleness that conferred upon all his being the rare majesty of spiritual elevation , all this made him someone apart, while making him close to the most humble soul; all this, and much more indefinable I-don't-know-what, has left in its many... friends, indelible and unspeakably precious memories.

And yet, as attractive as his personality was and his deep understanding of the human condition, they cannot be enough to do justice to the unique rank of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá in religious history. In Bahá’u’lláh 's own words, He was the "Trust of God," "a shelter for all humanity," "the supreme blessing," and "the ancient and immutable Mystery" of God. The Bahá'í Writings further affirm that "in the person of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá, the incompatible characteristics of a human nature and supra-human knowledge and perfection have been melted down and are in complete harmony."

The problem of succession has been crucial in all religions. The fact that it could not be resolved inevitably created rancour and division. The ambiguity surrounding the true successors of Jesus and Muhammad, for example, has led to divergent interpretations of the Holy Scriptures and a profound antagonism both within Christianity and Islam. For his part, Bahá’u’lláh  was able to preserve his Faith from the schisms and built impregnable foundations for it through the provisions of His Will, the "Book of My Covenant." " When the ocean of My presence hath ebbed," he writes, "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 than the Supreme Branch [‘Abdu’l-Bahá]. »

By appointing ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to succeed him, Bahá’u’lláh gave Him the means to spread his message of hope and universal peace to the four corners of the planet, in order to achieve the essential unity of all peoples. "May the glory of God rest upon Thee, and upon whosoever serveth Thee and circleth around Thee.," Bahá’u’lláh  writes, referring to His son, "Woe, great woe, betide him that opposeth and injureth Thee. Well is it with him that sweareth fealty to Thee!"

In short, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá represents the Centre of Bahá’u’lláh’s Covenant, the intermediary charged with ensuring the unity of the Bahá’í Community and preserving the integrity of its teachings.

 

List of sources : Hasan Balyuzi, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá – George Rolland Publishing, 1971

The Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh, A compilation – Bahá’í Publishing Trust, London, 1963

The Universal House of Justice, The Most Holy Book – Bahá’í World Centre, Haifa, 1992

 

 

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