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History 3 - ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (1844-1921)

© 2014, Bahá'í International Community

History 3 - ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (1844-1921)

‘Abdu’l-Bahá was the eldest son of Bahá’u’lláh and His designated successor. He was born in Tehran on 23 May 1844 and he recognized his Father’s station as a child, before it had been openly revealed. He shared Bahá’u’lláh’s banishment and exile through the Ottoman Empire which ended with imprisonment in Akka in 1868. In 1911 he began his historic journeys to Europe and North America to proclaim his Father’s message, returning to the Holy Land two years later. During his lifetime ‘Abdu’l-Bahá wrote many books and letters, interpreting and elucidating the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh.

1.
How long did ‘Abdu’l-Bahá stay in the US and Canada in 1912?
One month
Three months
Five months
Eight months
He spent 239 days in the US and Canada, where he gave over 500 talks to at least 93,000 people.
2.
Which building in the Holy Land does ‘Abdu’l-Bahá describe in these words? “Every stone of that building, every stone of the road leading to it ... I have with infinite tears and at tremendous cost, raised and placed in position.”
His house in Haifa
The Shrine of the Báb
The Universal House of Justice building
The pilgrim house
In 1898 ‘Abdu’l-Bahá instructed that the remains of the Báb be brought from their hiding place in Tehran to the Holy Land – they had been hidden since the martyrdom of the Báb in 1850. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá proceeded with the construction of a six-room building in 1898. It was completed in 1909. The remains of the Báb were interred within a vault below the building that year. The architect Sutherland Maxwell was asked to design and build a superstructure which was completed in 1953.
3.
Which of the following activities was ‘Abdu’l-Bahá frequently engaged in while he and his family were living in Akka (where they were imprisoned for many years)?
Cooking for other prisoners
Giving alms to the poor and needy
Visiting the sick
All of the above
Although many of the residents of Akka grew to love Bahá'u'lláh, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and their family and companions, a few of them had been misled about the Bahá'ís and believed they should treat them badly in order to please God. Once ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spent 24 years caring for a poor man who hated him with a passion. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá would make sure this man received enough money to buy clothes and food. When the man became seriously ill ‘Abdu’l-Bahá sent a doctor to treat him and paid for his medicine. The man hated ‘Abdu’l-Bahá so much he would cover his eyes when ‘Abdu’l-Bahá visited so that he wouldn’t have to see his face. After 24 years the man’s heart softened and he asked ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to forgive him for his behaviour towards him.
4.
By which of the following titles was ‘Abdu’l-Bahá also known?
The Perfect Exemplar
The Master
The Mystery of God
All of the above
`Abdu’l-Bahá, who was born on the very same night that the Báb declared his mission, is seen as the perfect example of how a Bahá’í should be. He was known to all as “The Master”, as people recognised his immense spiritual qualities. He was also described as “The Mystery of God” because he occupied a unique station - not a Messenger of God but having the authority to interpret his father’s teachings.
5.
Why was ‘Abdu’l-Bahá given a knighthood by the British government in 1920?
For supporting the Suffragette movement when he was in England
For His services to the Faith in the West
For His efforts to prevent war when he was in England
For organising grain distribution in Palestine during World War I
‘Abdu’l-Bahá encouraged Bahá'í farmers in the Galilee area to grow and store extra grain. He realised that the effects of the War and a drought in the area would probably result in a severe grain shortage by 1917. He organised the purchase, storage and distribution of grain from 1917 to 1918.
6.
Most of the time ‘Abdu’l-Bahá wore an ‘abá. What was it?
A cloak
A ceremonial garment
A scarf
A hat
An ‘abá is along garment or cloak, open at the front. He would often give his ‘abá away to those who were less fortunate.
7.
For approximately how many years was ‘Abdu’l-Bahá a resident (sometimes as a prisoner) in or near Akka?
At least 20 years
At least 30 years
At least 40 years
At least 50 years
His imprisonment in Akka started in 1868 and even after his release he remained in the area until 1909. There were also further brief periods of imprisonment during this time.
8.
In which American city did ‘Abdu’l-Bahá meet a number of well-known people such as Admiral Peary, Theodore Roosevelt and Alexander Graham Bell?
New York
Chicago
Washington D.C.
Philadelphia
Following an afternoon talk by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Alexander Graham Bell made a special request that he speak at his home that evening. There, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá met many dignitaries and scientists.
9.
When did ‘Abbás Effendi choose the title ‘Abdu’l-Bahá for Himself?
When his Father declared his mission in 1863
When he was 21
After the passing of Bahá’u’lláh
When he first travelled to the West
He was appointed Bahá’u’lláh’s successor and he chose this distinct name which means ‘Servant of Baha’.
10.
In which European city did ‘Abdu’l-Bahá give His first public talk in the West in 1911?
London
Paris
Stuttgart
Edinburgh
He gave His first public talk at the City Temple, London on 11 September 1911. There were at least 2000 people in the congregation.

 

Author:  National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United Kingdom

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