“So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth.”
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.