Day of the Covenant, Ascension of Abdu’l-Baha: Baha’is recall Servant of Baha

So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth.”
Baha’u’llah

Green hill with trimmed path leading to ornate white building

Baha’u’llah’s Covenant established the framework for the Baha’i Universal House of Justice, the current governing body for the faith. Above, the Seat of the Universal House of Justice. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

SUNSET MONDAY, NOVEMBER 25 and SUNSET WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 27: Baha’is worldwide commemorate two holy days this week, with the Day of the Covenant and the Ascension of Abdu’l-Baha. Essentially, the two days have one element in common: Abdu’l-Baha, the son of Baha’u’llah and the prime example of the way a devoted Baha’i should live. Before his death, Baha’u’llah—the founder of the Baha’i faith—announced to his followers that his son, Abdu’l-Baha, would be the center of his Covenant. When followers asked Abdu’l-Baha if they could celebrate his birthday, he instead gave them the Day of the Covenant as a time of celebration.

THE CENTER OF THE COVENANT: ABDU’L-BAHA

During his lifetime, Baha’u’llah created a covenant with a detailed set of instructions for the organization of the Baha’i faith. Following his passing, Baha’u’llah declared that another individual should be consulted by religious followers: his eldest son, Abdu’l-Baha. Literally “servant of Baha,” Abdu’l-Baha was deemed protector of the Covenant; he would protect the fledgling faith against schisms and sects, so that it would remain intact and unified. From 1892 until his death in 1921, Abdu’l-Baha visited several countries of the world, speaking Abdu’l-Baha to groups, organizations and persons of other faiths. (Baha’i.us has more.) He was the designated interpreter of Baha’u’llah’s writings, and the respected living example of his father’s teachings. Abdu’l-Baha spoke widely of cooperation and unity, and today, the Baha’i faith remains a singular body of faith.

ASCENSION OF ABDU’L-BAHA
RECALLS A GLOBAL FUNERAL

With the passing of Abdu’l-Baha in 1921, at age 77, the citizens of Haifa, Israel and the larger Baha’i community mourned openly. Abdu’l-Baha’s funeral on Mt. Carmel was attended by 10,000,  including Baha’is, Jews, Christians, Muslims and Druzes of various ethnicities. (Learn more from Bahai.org.) Of the funeral, the Governor of Jerusalem wrote: “I have never known a more united expression of regret and respect than was called forth by the utter simplicity of the ceremony.” Similarly, the British High Commissioner described: “A great throng had gathered together, sorrowing for His death, but rejoicing also for His life.” (Wikipedia has details.)

Note: Though these two holy days are celebrated by Baha’is, they are among the nine holidays during which work is suspended.

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