From earliest childhood, `Abbas Effendi, the eldest son of
Bahá'u'lláh , shared His father's sufferings and banishments.
He took as His title `Abdu'l-Bahá, the "servant of Baha.
" Bahá'u'lláh appointed Him the one 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 `Abdu'l-Bahá was still a prisoner of the Ottomans the
first Bahá'í pilgrims from the western world arrived in Acre
in 1898. After His release in 1908, `Abdu'l-Bahá set out on
a series of journeys which, in 1911-1913, took Him to
Europe and 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.
`Abdu'l-Bahá passed away in 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 Centre of their Faith.
Bahá'u'lláh's appointment of `Abdu'l-Bahá as His successor was the means for diffusing His
message of hope and universal peace to all corners of the world, for realizing the essential unity
of all peoples. In referring to `Abdu'l-Bahá, Bahá'u'lláh wrote: "The glory of God rest upon Thee,
and upon whosoever serveth Thee and circleth around Thee.
Woe, great woe, betide him that opposeth and injureth Thee.
Well is it with him that sweareth fealty to Thee.
`Abdu'l-Bahá was, in short, the Center of Bahá'u'lláh's Covenant
the instrument for ensuring the unity of the Bahá'í community
and preserving the integrity of Bahá'u'lláh's teachings. As the
authorized interpreter of Bahá'u'lláh's teachings, `Abdu'l-Bahá
became the "living mouth of the Book, the expounder of the
Word.Without `Abdu'l-Bahá, the enormous creative power of
Bahá'u'lláh's revelation could not have been transmitted to
humanity, nor its import fully comprehended. He elucidated
the teachings of His Father's Faith, amplified its doctrines,
and delineated the central features of its administrative
institutions. He was the unerring guide and architect of a
rapidly expanding Bahá'í community.
In addition, Bahá'u'lláh vested in `Abdu'l-Bahá "the virtues of perfection in personal and social
behavior, that humanity may have an enduring model to emulate. As the perfect Exemplar of
Bahá'u'lláh's teachings and the Pivot of His Covenant, `Abdu'l-Bahá became "the incorruptible
medium for applying the Word to practical measures for the raising up of a new civilization."
In retrospect, it became clear that Bahá'u'lláh had carefully prepared `Abdu'l-Bahá to succeed
Him. He was born on May 23, 1844, the very night that the Báb had declared the beginning of a
new religious cycle in history. As a child, He suffered along with His Father during the
persecutions against the Bábis. `Abdu'l-Bahá was eight years old when Bahá'u'lláh was first
imprisoned for His role as a leading exponent and defender of the Bábi Faith. He accompanied
Bahá'u'lláh throughout His long exile from Persia to the capital of the Ottoman empire, and
ultimately, to Palestine. As He grew older, `Abdu'l-Bahá became His Father's closest companion
and emerged as His deputy, shield, and principal representative to the political and religious
leaders of the day. `Abdu'l-Bahá's extraordinary demonstration of leadership, knowledge, and
service brought great prestige to the exiled Bahá'í community. He assumed His role as the Head
of the Bahá'í Faith following Bahá'u'lláh's passing in May 1892.
"Consort with the followers of all religions in a spirit
of friendliness & fellowship."
`Abdu'l-Bahá as a young man