August 20, 2021
The Orb of Guidance Arises
O thou who My heart addresses! Know thou, verily, the Covenant is an Orb which shines and gleams forth unto the universe.
“The Sun of Bahá has set.” Such was the cable that Abbás Effendí sent on 29 May 1892 to Sultan Abdu’l-Hamíd II, the ruler of the Ottoman Empire, announcing Bahá’u’lláh’s passing. Upon receiving the news of His ascension, the entire Bahá’í community felt instantly bereft, their hearts mired in the starless night of loss and grief. Both the family and the Bahá’í community were deeply grieved but determined to carry on the work of the Faith, that of unifying humanity in peace and concord.
Prior to His passing, Bahá’u’lláh had revealed the Book of His Covenant, which provides a set of explicit instructions that have assured continuity of guidance and the unity of the Faith. In it He named His eldest son Abbás Effendí as the Head of the Bahá’í Faith, the infallible Interpreter of His Word, and the Centre of His Covenant, “a Covenant so firm and mighty that from the beginning of time until the present day no religious Dispensation hath produced the like.” Bahá’u’lláh had also entrusted His sealed Will and Testament to Abbás Effendí, which was unsealed and read nine days after His passing.
The years following Bahá’u’lláh’s passing were difficult ones for Abbás Effendí, since the Ottoman Government regarded Him with growing suspicion. When libelous misrepresentations were circulated that Abbás Effendí considered Himself the equal to His Father, He declared that henceforth He was to be known only as ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the Servant of Bahá, and that His station was the station of Servitude. The Bahá’í community both in the Holy Land and throughout the Middle East turned their faces in gratefulness to the Centre of the Covenant.
Despite constant machinations from a hostile government and the hardships of life in ‘Akká that were aging Him prematurely, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá continued to serve all who sought His help, in addition to bringing the remains of the Báb to the Holy Land, buying property on Mt. Carmel and building a simple Shrine to the Báb on the very spot specified by Bahá’u’lláh – a 20-year danger-filled endeavour. He lived His life prayerfully at the service of others and in full confidence that He would fulfill His mission of bringing Bahá’u’lláh’s message of peace, justice and unity throughout the world.
In 1908, the Young Turks
Revolution and the fall of the Ottoman Empire
brought about an end to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s life as a prisoner. In March
1909, the remains of the Báb were finally laid to rest in the Shrine
‘Abdu’l-Bahá had literally built with sweat and tears. Many devoted
Bahá’ís and family members witnessed wet-eyed ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s poignant
sobbing at the Holy Threshold after years of suffering and sacrifice.
On 29 August 1910, He quietly left the Holy Land and sailed for Port
Said, Egypt. Broken in health at 66 years old but firm in resolve, it
was there that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá began the historic journeys that would
spread the Bahá’í teachings abroad and win Him renown and peerless