Look at me, follow me, be as I am.
-- Abdu'l Baha
The last week of November will find Baha'is the world over observing two commemorative days, the Day of the Covenant on Nov. 26 and the Ascension of Abdu'l Baha on the 28th day of the month.
Both are days when we remember what are probably the most important days in the life of the perfect exemplar of our faith, our beloved Abdu'l Baha.
Abdul Baha was born Abbas Effendi on May 23,1844, in Tehran, Persia (modern day Iran). He chose for himself the title "Abdu'l Baha," which in Arabic means " the servant of Baha (glory or light)". He chose this name because he felt it best described his identity.
He described Himself in this way: "My name is Abdu'l Baha, my identity is Abdu'l Baha, my qualification is Abdu'l Baha, my reality is Abdu'l Baha, my praise is Abdu'l Baha. Thraldom to the Blessed Perfection ( Baha'u'llah) is my glorious and refulgent diadem; and servitude to all the human race is my perpetual religion." This statement describes his life and, further, describes the life to which Baha'is aspire, as we are also "followers of the light (glory). "Baha means "glory" and i means "people of.")
Abdul Baha's father was born Mirza Husayn-Ali on Nov. 12, 1817. He also, took a name for himself, "Baha'u'llah" -- the "Glory of God".
He was the founder of the Baha'i faith. His ancestry can be traced back to Abraham through Abraham's third wife, Keturah. The family was of aristocratic nobility.
During a government purge, Baha'u'llah and his family, including Abdu'l Baha, suffered imprisonment, torture and exile.
Through Baha'u'llah, God bestowed upon mankind a new revelation, incorporating all previous revelations and adding new, additional guidance pertaining to the building of a new civilization, the aim of which is to unify mankind, establish the universal peace and the kingdom of heaven on earth.
Abdu'l Baha learned well from Baha'u'llah. He shared in his joys and his sorrows. He understood the revelation like no other human being. His understanding was so flawless that Baha'u'llah appointed Abu'l Baha to be his successor and bestowed upon him a title, "The Center of the Covenant." What this means is that Abdu'l Baha was qualified to be the absolute authority with the correct answers in regard to all questions.
We are to obey Abdu'l Baha and turn to his writings for guidance and clarification on all matters. He is "the incarnation of every Baha'i virtue and the embodiment of every Baha'i ideal".
It's important to note that Baha'is do not worship Abdu'l Baha. We worship God and God alone. Abdu'l Baha was a human being, although a special human being.
Another name Baha'is use in reference to Abdu'l Baha is "The Master." This is not meant in the sense of "master to slave," but rather in the sense that Abdu'l Baha mastered the Baha'i faith, and we can look to
his writings and stories about his life and behavior for guidance on how to live our lives and authoritative interpretation of Baha'u'llah's writings.
On Nov. 26, Baha'is will have a Day of Commemoration. On this day,we celebrate the life and existence of Abdu'l Baha. We extend gratitude to God for having provided us with this our precious teacher, someone we know we can try to emulate and, in so doing, have our words and actions be pleasing to God.
We can have confidence that our faith will never be divided, because Abdu'l Baha has provided us with indisputably clear direction. He is known as the perfect exemplar. By following him, one day all humanity will attain a state of advancement that is wondrous to imagine.
On Nov. 28, another Day of Commemoration known as the Ascension of Abdu'l Baha, we mark the anniversary of his death. On this night, at 1 a.m., Abdu'l Baha's soul took flight from the earthly cage of his body and winged his way to God in the Abha Kingdom (Paradise).
But, we are not left alone. We have the writings of the Baha'i revelation along with the stories of the lives and deaths of Baha'u'llah, Abdu'l Baha and the early brave heroes and brightly burning loving hearts of our new infant faith.
Abdu'l Baha is the fulfillment of the promise, "I am always with you. You hold me by my right hand." (Psalm 73:23)
We have been told "I will never leave you." We can follow with absolute confidence because of the guidance provided by a loving God. We understand that we have a purpose and a direction, the purpose being to assist in building a new civilization that reflects the next stage in the advancement of mankind and the direction and guidance are provided for us, in crystal clear detail in the writings of the Baha'i faith.