Ascension of 'Abdu'l-Baha - Devotional Program
Updated: Jul 29, 2020
A devotional program to be used for the commemoration of the Ascension of 'Abdu'l-Baha Baha'i Holy Day.
The following passage was penned by Bahá’u’lláh, the Prophet-Founder of the Bahá’í Faith, when His son, Abdu’l-Bahá, was finally able to leave their prison city in Israel and visit Beirut.
Praise be to Him Who hath honoured the Land of Ba (Beirut) through the presence of Him round Whom all names revolve. All the atoms of the earth have announced unto all created things that from behind the gate of the Prison-city there hath appeared and above its horizon there hath shone forth the Orb of the beauty of the great, the Most Mighty Branch of God - His ancient and immutable Mystery - proceeding on its way to another land. Sorrow, thereby, hath enveloped this Prison-city, whilst another land rejoiceth.
Exalted, immeasurably exalted is our Lord, the Fashioner of the heavens and the Creator of all things, He through Whose sovereignty the doors of the prison were opened, thereby causing what was promised aforetime in the Tablets to be fulfilled. He is verily potent over what He willeth, and in His grasp is the dominion of the entire creation. He is the All-Powerful, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise.
Blessed, doubly blessed, is the ground which His footsteps have trodden, the eye that hath been cheered by the beauty of His countenance, the ear that hath been honoured by hearkening to His call, the heart that hath tasted the sweetness of His love, the breast that hath dilated through His remembrance, the pen that hath voiced His praise, the scroll that hath borne the testimony of His writings. We beseech God - blessed and exalted be He - that He may honour us with meeting Him soon. He is, in truth, the All-Hearing, the All-Powerful, He Who is ready to answer.
- Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, pages 227-228
An attempt…should now be made to clarify our minds regarding the station occupied by 'Abdu'l-Bahá and the significance of His position in this holy Dispensation. It would be indeed difficult for us, who stand so close to such a tremendous figure and are drawn by the mysterious power of so magnetic a personality, to obtain a clear and exact understanding of the role and character of One Who, not only in the Dispensation of Bahá'u'lláh but in the entire field of religious history, fulfills a unique function. Though moving in a sphere of His own and holding a rank radically different from that of the Author and the Forerunner of the Bahá'í Revelation, He, by virtue of the station ordained for Him through the Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh, forms together with them what may be termed the Three Central Figures of a Faith that stands unapproached in the world's spiritual history. He towers, in conjunction with them, above the destinies of this infant Faith of God from a level to which no individual or body ministering to its needs after Him, and for no less a period than a full thousand years, can ever hope to rise. To degrade His lofty rank by identifying His station with or by regarding it as roughly equivalent to, the position of those on whom the mantle of His authority has fallen would be an act of impiety as grave as the no less heretical belief that inclines to exalt Him to a state of absolute equality with either the central Figure or Forerunner of our Faith. For wide as is the gulf that separates 'Abdu'l-Bahá from Him Who is the Source of an independent Revelation, it can never be regarded as commensurate with the greater distance that stands between Him Who is the Center of the Covenant and His ministers who are to carry on His work, whatever be their name, their rank, their functions or their future achievements. Let those who have known 'Abdu'l-Bahá, who through their contact with His magnetic personality have come to cherish for Him so fervent an admiration, reflect, in the light of this statement, on the greatness of One Who is so far above Him in station.
- Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha'u'llah, p. 131
He is, and should for all time be regarded, first and foremost, as the Center and Pivot of Bahá'u'lláh's peerless and all-enfolding Covenant, His most exalted handiwork, the stainless Mirror of His light, the perfect Exemplar of His teachings, the unerring Interpreter of His Word, the embodiment of every Bahá'í ideal, the incarnation of every Bahá'í virtue, the Most Mighty Branch sprung from the Ancient Root, the Limb of the Law of God, the Being "round Whom all names revolve," the Mainspring of the Oneness of Humanity, the Ensign of the Most Great Peace, the Moon of the Central Orb of this most holy Dispensation -- styles and titles that are implicit and find their truest, their highest and fairest expression in the magic name 'Abdu'l-Bahá. He is, above and beyond these appellations, the "Mystery of God" -- an expression by which Bahá'u'lláh Himself has chosen to designate Him, and which, while it does not by any means justify us to assign to Him the station of Prophethood, indicates how in the person of 'Abdu'l-Bahá the incompatible characteristics of a human nature and superhuman knowledge and perfection have been blended and are completely harmonized.
- Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha'u'llah, p. 133
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. - Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 62
The Will of the divine Testator is this: It is incumbent upon the Aghsan, the Afnan and My Kindred to turn, one and all, their faces towards the Most Mighty Branch. Consider that which We have revealed in Our Most Holy Book: '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]. Thus have We graciously revealed unto you Our potent Will, and I am verily the Gracious, the All-Powerful.
- Baha'u'llah, Tablets of Baha'u'llah, p. 221
There hath branched from the Sadratu'l-Muntaha this sacred and glorious Being, this Branch of Holiness; well is it with him that hath sought His shelter and abideth beneath His shadow. Verily the Limb of the Law of God hath sprung forth from this Root which God hath firmly implanted in the Ground of His Will, and Whose Branch hath been so uplifted as to encompass the whole of creation. Magnified be He, therefore, for this sublime, this blessed, this mighty, this exalted Handiwork!... A Word hath, as a token of Our grace, gone forth from the Most Great Tablet -- a Word which God hath adorned with the ornament of His own Self, and made it sovereign over the earth and all that is therein, and a sign of His greatness and power among its people ...Render thanks unto God, O people, for His appearance; for verily He is the most great Favor unto you, the most perfect bounty upon you; and through Him every mouldering bone is quickened. Whoso turneth towards Him hath turned towards God, and whoso turneth away from Him hath turned away from My beauty, hath repudiated My Proof, and transgressed against Me. He is the Trust of God amongst you, His charge within you, His manifestation unto you and His appearance among His favored servants... We have sent Him down in the form of a human temple. Blest and sanctified be God Who createth whatsoever He willeth through His inviolable, His infallible decree. They who deprive themselves of the shadow of the Branch, are lost in the wilderness of error, are consumed by the heat of worldly desires, and are of those who will assuredly perish.
- Baha’u’llah, Tablet of the Branch
O people of the world! When the Mystic Dove will have winged its flight from its Sanctuary of Praise and sought its far-off goal, its hidden habitation, refer ye whatsoever ye understand not in the Book to Him Who hath branched from this mighty Stock. - Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 82
"O Thou Who art the apple of Mine eye!" Bahá'u'lláh, in His own handwriting, thus addresses 'Abdu'l-Bahá, "My glory, the ocean of My loving-kindness, the sun of My bounty, the heaven of My mercy rest upon Thee. We pray God to illumine the world through Thy knowledge and wisdom, to ordain for Thee that which will gladden Thine heart and impart consolation to Thine eyes."
- Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha'u'llah, p. 134
Thou knowest, O my God, that I desire for Him naught except that which Thou didst desire, and have chosen Him for no purpose save that which Thou hadst intended for Him. Render Him victorious, therefore, through Thy hosts of earth and heaven... Ordain, I beseech Thee, by the ardor of My love for Thee and My yearning to manifest Thy Cause, for Him, as well as for them that love Him, that which Thou hast destined for Thy Messengers and the Trustees of Thy Revelation. Verily, Thou art the Almighty, the All-Powerful.
- Bahá'u'lláh, in a prayer revealed in 'Abdu'l-Bahá's honor
Less than five months before His ascension, ‘Abdu’l-Baha had beseeched God for release from this world
The night of July l0th 1921 'Abdu'l-Baha was on Mount Carmel by the Shrine of the Bab. There, He revealed a Tablet and a prayer in honour of a 'kinsman of the Bab', who had died recently. [He was the father of the Hand of the Cause Balyuzi, who had died in Tihran, on May 6th]. Abdu'l-Baha beseeched God, in that prayer, for His own release from this world. He spoke of His 'loneliness', of being 'broken-winged', 'submerged in seas of sorrows': 'O Lord! My bones are weakened, and the hoar hairs glisten on My head ... and I have now reached old age, failing in My powers ... No strength is there left in Me wherewith to arise and serve Thy loved ones ... O Lord, My Lord! Hasten My ascension unto Thy sublime Threshold ... and My arrival at the Door of Thy grace beneath the shadow of Thy most great mercy .. .'
That prayer was answered less than five months later. He passed away in the early hours of November 28th. The physician, who was summoned to His bedside at that hour, and closed His eyes, was Dr Florian Krug of New York, the same man who once bitterly resented the Faith of Baha'u'llah, and wanted alienists to examine his wife because of her intense devotion to it. He had now come, a pilgrim, with his wife [Grace], and 'Abdu'l-Baha had allocated them a room in the compound of His own house… Other Western pilgrims present in Haifa at that poignant hour were Louise and John Bosch from California, Ethel Rosenberg from London, and Fraulein Johanna Hauff from Stuttgart were the Western pilgrims present in Haifa at that poignant hour, as well as Curtis Kelsey from the United States, who was in Haifa to attend to electrical installations in the Shrine of the Bab.
- Adapted from H.M. Balyuzi, ‘Abdu’l-Baha The Center of the Covenant of Baha’u’llah’, p. 452-463
‘Abdu’l-Baha knew the time of His passing
We have now come to realize that the Master, (i.e., ‘Abdu’l-Baha) knew the day and hour when, His mission on earth being finished, He would return to the shelter of heaven. He was, however, careful that His family should not have any premonition of the coming sorrow. It seemed as though their eyes were veiled by Him, with His ever-loving consideration for His dear ones, that they should not see the significance of certain dreams and other signs of the culminating event. This they now realize was His thought for them, in order that their strength be preserved to face the great ordeal when it should arrive, that they should not be devitalized by anguish of mind in its anticipation. Out of the many signs of the approach of the hour when He could say of His work on earth, "It is finished,” the following two dreams seem remarkable. Less than eight weeks before His passing the Master related this to His family:
“I seemed to be standing within a great temple, in the inmost shrine, facing the east, in the place of the leader himself. I became aware that a large number of people were flocking into the temple; and yet more crowded in, taking their places in rows behind me, until there was a vast multitude. As I stood I raised loudly the 'Call to Prayer.' Suddenly the thought came to me to go forth from the temple. When I found myself outside I said within myself, 'For what reason came I forth, not having led the prayer? But it matters not; now that I have uttered the call to prayer, the vast multitude will of themselves chant the prayer’."
When the Master had passed away, His family pondered over this dream and interpreted it thus : He had called that same vast multitude - all peoples, all religions, all races, all nations and all kingdoms - to unity and peace, to universal love and brotherhood ; and having called them, returned to God, the Beloved, at whose command He had raised the majestic call, had given the divine message. This same multitude – the peoples, religions, races, nations and kingdoms – would continue the work to which ‘Abdu’l-Baha had called them and would of themselves press forward in its accomplishment. A few weeks after the preceding dream the Master came in from the solitary room in the garden, which He had occupied of late, and said:
"I dreamed a dream and behold the Blessed Beauty, (i.e., Baha’u’llah) came and said unto me, 'Destroy this room!' "
The family, who had been wishing that He would come and sleep in the house, not being happy that He should be alone at night, exclaimed, "Yes, Master, we think your dream means that you should leave that room and come into the house.” When He heard this from us, He smiled meaningly as though not agreeing with our interpretation. Afterwards we understood that by the "room" was meant the temple of His body. In the same week He revealed a Tablet to America, in which is the following prayer :
"Ya-Baha’u’l-Abha! (O Thou the glory of glories) [reference to Baha’u’llah] I have renounced the world and the people thereof, and am heartbroken and sorely afflicted because of the unfaithful. In the cage of this world I flutter even as a frightened bird, and yearn every day to take my flight unto Thy kingdom. Ya-Baha’u’l-Abha! Make me to drink of the cup of sacrifice and set me free. Relieve me from these woes and trials, from these afflictions and troubles. Thou art He that aideth, that succoureth, that protecteth, that stretcheth forth the land of help."
After lunch He dictated some Tablets, His last ones, to Ruhi Effendi. When He had rested He walked in the garden. He seemed to be in a deep reverie. His good and faithful servant Isma’il Aqa, relates the following: "Some time, about twenty days before my Master passed away, I was near the garden when I heard Him summon an old believer saying: 'Come with me that we may admire together the beauty of the garden. Behold, what the spirit of devotion is able to achieve! This flourishing place was, a few years ago, but a heap of stones, and now it is verdant with foliage and flowers. My desire is that after I am gone the loved ones may all arise to serve the divine Cause, please God, so it shall be. Ere long men will arise who shall bring life to the world.' "Three days before His ascension whilst seated in the garden, He called me and said, 'I am sick with fatigue. Bring two of your oranges for me that I may eat them for your sake.' This I did, and He having eaten them turned to me saying, 'Have you any of your sweet lemons?' He bade me fetch a few. Whilst I was plucking them, He came over to the tree, saying, 'Nay, but I must gather them with my own hands.' Having eaten of the fruit He turned to me and asked. 'Do you desire anything more?' Then with a pathetic gesture of His hands, He touchingly, emphatically and deliberately said, 'Now it is finished, it is finished!’ "These significant words penetrated my very soul. I felt each time He uttered them as if a knife were struck into my heart. I understood His meaning but never dreamed His end was so nigh." It was Isma’il Aqa who had been the Master's gardener for well-nigh thirty years and who, in the first week after his bereavement, driven by hopeless grief, quietly disposed of all his belongings, made his will, went to the Master's sister and craved her pardon for any misdeeds he had committed. He then delivered the key of the garden to a trusted servant of the household and, taking with him means whereby to end his life at his beloved Master's tomb, walked up the mountain to that sacred place, three times circled round it and would have succeeded in taking his life had it not been for the opportune arrival of a friend, who reached him in time to prevent the accomplishment of his tragic intention. During the evening of Friday, November 25th, ‘Abdu'l-Baha attended the usual meeting of the friends in His own audience chamber. In the morning of Saturday, November 26th, He arose early, came to the tea room and had some tea. He asked for the fur-lined coat which had belonged to Baha’u’llah. He often put on this coat when He was cold or did not feel well, We so loved it. He then withdrew to His room, lay down on His bed and said, "Cover me up. I am very cold. Last night I did not sleep well, I felt cold. This is serious, it is the beginning." After more blankets had been put on, He asked for the fur coat He had taken off to be placed over Him. That day He was rather feverish. In the evening His temperature rose still higher, but during the night the fever left Him. After midnight, He asked for some tea. On Sunday morning, November 27th, He said: "I am quite well and will get up as usual and have tea with you in the tea room." After He had dressed He was persuaded to remain on the sofa in His room. In the afternoon He sent all the friends to the tomb of the Bab, where on the occasion of the anniversary of the declaration of the Covenant a feast was being held, offered by a Parsi pilgrim who had lately arrived from India. At four in the afternoon being on the sofa in His room He said: "Ask my sister and all the family to come and have tea with me." His four sons-in-law and Ruhi Effendi came to Him after returning from the gathering on the mountain. They said to Him: "The giver of the feast was unhappy because you were not there." He said unto them: "But I was there, though my body was absent, my spirit was there in your midst. I was present with the friends at the tomb. The friends must not attach any importance to the absence of my body. In spirit I am, and shall always be, with the friends, even though I be far away." The same evening He asked after the health of every member of the household, of the pilgrims and of the friends in Haifa. "Very good, very good," He said when told that none were ill. This was His very last utterance concerning His friends. At eight in the evening He retired to bed after taking a little nourishment, saying, "I am quite well." He told all the family to go to bed and rest. Two of His daughters however stayed with Him. That night the Master had gone to sleep very calmly, quite free from fever. He awoke about 1.15 a. m., got up and walked across to a table where He drank some water. He took off an outer night garment, saying, "I am too warm." He went back to bed and when His daughter Ruha Khanum, later on, approached, she found Him lying peacefully and, as He looked into her face, He asked her to lift up the net curtains, saying, “I have difficulty in breathing, give me more air." Some rose-water was brought of which He drank, sitting up in bed to do so, without any help. He again lay down, and as some food was offered Him, He remarked in a clear and distinct voice:
“You wish me to take some food, and I am going?"
He gave them a beautiful look. His face was so calm, His expression so serene, they thought Him asleep. He had gone from the gaze of His loved ones! - Lady Blomfield and Shoghi Effendi (The Baha’i World 1926-1928)
The funeral of the Master
Early on Monday morning November 28th the news of this sudden calamity had spread over the city, causing an unprecedented stir and tumult, and filling all hearts with unutterable grief.
The next morning, Tuesday November 29th, the funeral took place; a funeral the like of which Haifa, nay Palestine itself, had surely never seen; so deep was the feeling that brought so many thousands of mourners together, representative of so many religions, races and tongues.
The High Commissioner of Palestine, Sir Herbert Samuel, the Governor of Jerusalem, the Governor of Phoenicia, the Chief Officials of the Government, the Consuls of the various countries, resident in Haifa, the heads of the various religious communities, the notables of Palestine, Jews, Christians, Moslems, Druses, Egyptians, Greeks, Turks, Kurds, and a host of his American, European and native friends, men, women and children, both of high and low degree, all, about ten thousand in number, mourning the loss of their Beloved One.
This impressive, triumphal procession was headed by a guard of honour, consisting of the City Constabulary Force, followed by the Boy Scouts of the Moslem and Christian communities holding aloft their banners, a company of Moslem choristers chanting their verses from the Qur’án, the chiefs of the Moslem community headed by the Mufti, a number of Christian priests, Latin, Greek and Anglican, all preceding the sacred coffin, upraised on the shoulders of his loved ones. Immediately behind it came the members of his family, next to them walked the British High Commissioner, the Governor of Jerusalem, and the Governor of Phoenicia. After them came the Consuls and the notables of the land, followed by the vast multitude of those who reverenced and loved him.
As they slowly wended their way up Mount Carmel, the Vineyard of God, the casket appeared in the distance to be borne aloft by invisible hands, so high above the heads of the people was it carried. After two hours walking, they reached the garden of the Tomb of the Báb. Tenderly was the sacred coffin placed upon a plain table covered with a fair white linen cloth. As the vast concourse pressed round the Tabernacle of his body, waiting to be laid in its resting place, within the vault, next to that of the Báb, representatives of the various denominations, Moslems, Christians and Jews, all hearts being ablaze with fervent-love of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, some on the impulse of the moment, others prepared, raised their voices in eulogy and regret, paying their last homage of farewell to their loved one. So united were they in their acclamation of him, as the wise educator and reconciler of the human race in this perplexed and sorrowful age, that there seemed to be nothing left for the Bahá’ís to say.
The nine speakers having delivered their funeral orations, then came the moment when the casket which held the pearl of loving servitude passed slowly and triumphantly into its simple, hallowed resting place.
Internment of 'Abdu'l-Baha at the Shrine of 'Abdu'l-Baha
"Close to the eastern entrance of the Shrine, the sacred casket was placed upon a plain table, and, in the presence of that vast concourse, nine speakers, who represented the Muslim, the Jewish and Christian Faiths, and who included the Muftí of Haifa, delivered their several funeral orations. These concluded, the High Commissioner drew close to the casket, and, with bowed head fronting the Shrine, paid his last homage of farewell to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá: the other officials of the Government followed his example. The coffin was then removed to one of the chambers of the Shrine, and there lowered, sadly and reverently, to its last resting-place in a vault adjoining that in which were laid the remains of the Báb."
"The interment of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá Himself within a vault of the Báb’s mausoleum, enhancing still further the sacredness of that mountain; the installment of an electric plant, the first of its kind established in the city of Haifa, flooding with illumination the Grave of One Who, in His own words, had been denied even “a lighted lamp” in His fortress-prison in Ádhirbayján; the construction of three additional chambers adjoining His sepulcher, thereby completing ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s plan for the first unit of that Edifice; the vast extension, despite the machinations of the Covenant-breakers, of the properties surrounding that resting-place, sweeping from the ridge of Carmel down to the Templar colony nestling at its foot, and representing assets estimated at no less than four hundred thousand pounds, together with the acquisition of four tracts of land, dedicated to the Bahá’í Shrines, and situated in the plain of ‘Akká to the north, in the district of Beersheba to the south, and in the valley of the Jordan to the east, amounting to approximately six hundred acres; the opening of a series of terraces which, as designed by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, are to provide a direct approach to the Báb’s Tomb from the city lying under its shadow; the beautification of its precincts through the laying out of parks and gardens, open daily to the public, and attracting tourists and residents alike to its gates—these may be regarded as the initial evidences of the marvelous expansion of the international institutions and endowments of the Faith at its world center."
This prayer, revealed by `Abdu'l-Bahá, is read at His Shrine. It is also used in private prayer.
Whoso reciteth this prayer with lowliness and fervour will bring gladness and joy to the heart of this Servant; it will be even as meeting Him face to face.
He is the All-Glorious!
O God, my God! Lowly and tearful, I raise my suppliant hands to Thee and cover my face in the dust of that Threshold of Thine, exalted above the knowledge of the learned, and the praise of all that glorify Thee. Graciously look upon Thy servant, humble and lowly at Thy door, with the glances of the eye of Thy mercy, and immerse him in the Ocean of Thine eternal grace.
Lord! He is a poor and lowly servant of Thine, enthralled and imploring Thee, captive in Thy hand, praying fervently to Thee, trusting in Thee, in tears before Thy face, calling to Thee and beseeching Thee, saying:
O Lord, my God! Give me Thy grace to serve Thy loved ones, strengthen me in my servitude to Thee, illumine my brow with the light of adoration in Thy court of holiness, and of prayer to Thy kingdom of grandeur. Help me to be selfless at the heavenly entrance of Thy gate, and aid me to be detached from all things within Thy holy precincts. Lord! Give me to drink from the chalice of selflessness; with its robe clothe me, and in its ocean immerse me. Make me as dust in the pathway of Thy loved ones, and grant that I may offer up my soul for the earth ennobled by the footsteps of Thy chosen ones in Thy path, O Lord of Glory in the Highest.
With this prayer doth Thy servant call Thee, at dawntide and in the night-season. Fulfil his heart's desire, O Lord! Illumine his heart, gladden his bosom, kindle his light, that he may serve Thy Cause and Thy-servants.
Thou art the Bestower, the Pitiful, the Most Bountiful, the Gracious, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
The Passing of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
The news of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s passing on November 28, 1921, inspired an unprecedented event of unity among the Jewish, Christian, Muslim and Druze communities of Haifa.
The funeral of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, “a funeral the like of which Palestine had never seen,” drew “no less than ten thousand people…representing every class, religion and race in that country.” “A great throng,” the British High Commissioner wrote, “had gathered together, sorrowing for His death, but rejoicing also for His life.” The Governor of Jerusalem at the time also wrote in describing the funeral: “I have never known a more united expression of regret and respect than was called forth by the utter simplicity of the ceremony.”
“The coffin containing the remains of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was borne to its last resting-place on the shoulders of His loved ones…. The long train of mourners, amid the sobs and moans of many a grief-stricken heart, wended its slow way up the slopes of Mt. Carmel to the Mausoleum of the Báb… Close to the eastern entrance of the Shrine, the sacred casket was placed upon a plain table, and, in the presence of that vast concourse, nine speakers, who represented the Muslim, the Jewish and Christian Faiths…delivered their several funeral orations. The coffin was then removed to one of the chambers of the Shrine, and there lowered, sadly and reverently, to its last resting-place in a vault adjoining that in which were laid the remains of the Báb.”
The following are extracts from some of the speeches given on the occasion of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s funeral.
The first speaker was Yúsuf al-Khatib, a well-known Muslim orator:
O concourse of Arabians and Persians! Whom are ye bewailing? Is it he who but yesterday was great in his life and is today in his death greater still? Shed no tears for the one that hath departed to the world of Eternity, but weep over the passing of Virtue and Wisdom, of Knowledge and Generosity. Lament for yourselves, for yours is the loss, whilst he, your lost one, is but a revered Wayfarer, stepping from your mortal world into the everlasting Home. Weep one hour for the sake of him who, for well nigh eighty years, hath wept for you! Look to your right, look to your left, look East and look West and behold, what glory and greatness have vanished! What a pillar of peace hath crumbled! What eloquent lips are hushed! Alas! In this tribulation there is no heart but aches with anguish, no eye but is filled with tears. Woe unto the poor, for lo! goodness hath departed from them, woe unto the orphans, for their loving father is no more with them! Could the life of Sir ‘Abdu’l-Bahá ’Abbas have been redeemed by the sacrifices of many a precious soul, they of a certainty would gladly have offered up their lives for his life. But Fate hath otherwise ordained. Every destiny is predetermined and none can change the Divine Decree. What am I to set forth the achievements of this leader of mankind? They are too glorious to be praised, too many to recount. Suffice it to say, that he has left in every heart the most profound impression, on every tongue most wondrous praise. And he that leaveth a memory so lovely, so imperishable, he, indeed, is not dead. Be solaced then, O ye people of Baha! Endure and be patient; for no man, be he of the East or of the West, can ever comfort you, nay he himself is even in greater need of consolation.
The next speaker was Ibrahim Nassar, a celebrated Christian writer:
I weep for the world, in that my Lord hath died; others there are who, like unto me, weep the death of their Lord…O bitter is the anguish caused by this heartrending calamity! It is not only our country’s loss but a world affliction…He hath lived for well-nigh eighty years the life of the Messengers and Apostles of God. He hath educated the souls of men, hath been benevolent unto them, hath led them to the Way of Truth. Thus he raised his people to the pinnacle of glory, and great shall be his reward from God, the reward of the righteous! Hear me O people! ‘Abbas is not dead, neither hath the light of Baha been extinguished! Nay, nay! this light shall shine with everlasting splendor. The Lamp of Baha, ‘Abbas, hath lived a goodly life, hath manifested in himself the true life of the Spirit. And now he is gathered to glory, a pure angel, richly robed in benevolent deeds, noble in his precious virtues. Fellow Christians! Truly ye are bearing the mortal remains of this ever lamented one to his last resting place, yet know of a certainty that your ‘Abbas will live forever in spirit amongst you, through his deeds, his words, his virtues and all the essence of his life. We say farewell to the material body of our ‘Abbas, and his material body vanisheth from our gaze, but his reality, our spiritual ‘Abbas, will never leave our minds, our thoughts, our hearts, our tongues. O great revered Sleeper! Thou hast been good to us, thou hast guided us, thou hast taught us, thou hast lived amongst us greatly, with the full meaning of greatness, thou hast made us proud of thy deeds and of thy words. Thou hast raised the Orient to the summit of glory, hast shown loving kindness to the people, trained them in righteousness, and hast striven to the end, till thou hast won the crown of glory. Rest thou happily under the shadow of the mercy of the Lord thy God, and He verily, shall well reward thee.
The Christian writer was followed by the Mufti of Haifa, Muhammad Murad:
I do not wish to exaggerate in my eulogy of this great one, for his ready and helping hand in the service of mankind and the beautiful and wondrous story of his life, spent in doing that which is right and good, none can deny, save him whose heart is blinded… O thou revered voyager! Thou hast lived greatly and hast died greatly! This great funeral procession is but a glorious proof of thy greatness in thy life and in thy death. But O, thou whom we have lost! Thou leader of men, generous and benevolent! To whom shall the poor now look? Who shall care for the hungry? and the desolate, the widow and the orphan? May the Lord inspire all thy household and thy kindred with patience in this grievous calamity, and immerse thee in the ocean of His grace and mercy! He verily, is the prayer-hearing, prayer-answering God.
Another distinguished Muslim, ‘Abdu’llah Mukhlish, followed the Mufti of Haifa:
…the sun of knowledge has set; the moon of virtues has disappeared; the throne of glory has crumbled, and the mountain of kindness is levelled by the departure of this benevolent one from the mortal world to the immortal realm. I do not need to explain the sublimity of the great one whom we have lost or to enumerate his great qualities, for all of you who are just are witnesses and can testify to what has been given him of personal beauty, beauty of his character, greatness of his heart, vastness of the sea of his knowledge and generosity…I beg your pardon if I fail in doing my duty as far as faithfulness is concerned or if I am unable to pay the generous one who has departed what he deserves of the best and highest praise, because what my tongue utters has emanated from a tender memory and broken heart. Indeed, they are wounds and not words; they are tears and not phrases…’ This calamity has made all previous calamities to be forgotten. But this calamity will never be forgotten.’
Next, Shaykh Yúnus al-Khatib, a Muslim poet of note, recited a poem he had composed; and he was followed by Bishop Bassilious, the head of the Greek Catholic Church of Haifa, who dwelt particularly on ’Abdu’l-Bahá’s humanitarian deeds, His generosity to the poor, His charm and majesty of mien. Then came the turn of the youth to pay homage and tribute. Wadi’ Bustani, a young Christian, had a poem to offer. Here are some lines from it:
In the souls and in the minds thou art immortal. One like thee, who has all perfections, virtues and honors, is eternal…O ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, O son of Bahá’u’lláh! May my life be a sacrifice to one like thee. Thou art the all-wise, and all else beside thee are only learned. What can the poets say in thy day? O ’Abdu’l-Bahá, O son of Bahá’u’lláh! Thou wert just as God wanted thee to be and not as others wished. Thou hast departed in the Holy Land wherein Christ and the Virgin Mary lived. The land that received Mohammed; the land the dust of which is blessing and wealth…We shall be sustained by this Tomb and the One it contains. The covenant of love and devotion will remain forever between us.
Among the final speakers was Salomon Bouzaglo, one of the leading figures of the Jewish population of Haifa, who spoke in French. Here is a translation of his speech:
It is indeed strange that in an age of gross materialism and lack of faith a great philosopher such as He whom we mourn--‘Abdu’l-Bahá ‘Abbas--should appear. He speaks to our hearts, our consciences. He satisfies our thirsty souls with teachings and principles that are the basis of all religion and morality. In His writings and public talks, and in His intimate conversations He could always convince the most learned and the most orthodox. His life was the living example of self-sacrifice, of preferring the good of others to one’s own. The philosophy of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá is simple and plain, yet sublime. It accords with human character. Its virtues overcome prejudice and superstition … ‘Abbas has passed away in Haifa, in Palestine, in the Holy Land wherein prophets have always appeared. The ancient glory of this land is restored. We are not the only ones who weep for Him, in Whom we take pride. In Europe, in America, in every country, people athirst for social justice and brotherhood also weep for Him. He suffered from despotism, fanaticism and intolerance. For decades, ‘Akka--the Bastille of the Ottomans--held Him a prisoner. Baghdad--the ’Abbasid capital--also served as a prison for Him and for His Father. Persia--the ancient cradle of divine philosophy--threw out her children, whose ideas were conceived in her land. Cannot we witness the manifestation of Divine Will to exalt the Holy Land that it become, once again, the cradle of noble and generous ideals? He, Who has left such a glorious heritage, is not dead. He, Who has promulgated such great principles, is immortal in the memory of posterity.