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Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era

  • Author:
  • J. E. Esslemont

  • Source:
  • US Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1980 edition
  • Pages:
  • 286
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Pages 51-52

Chapter 4: ‘Abdu’l-Bahá: The Servant of Bahá

When the ocean of My presence hath ebbed and the Book of My Revelation is ended, turn your faces towards Him Whom God hath purposed, Who hath branched from this Ancient Root.—BAHÁ’U’LLÁH, Kitáb-i-Aqdas.

Birth and Childhood

Abbás Effendi, Who afterwards assumed the title of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (i.e. Servant of Bahá), was the eldest son of Bahá’u’lláh. He was born in Ṭihrán before midnight on the eve of the 23rd of May, 1844, 1 the very same night in which the Báb declared His mission.
He was nine years of age when His father, to Whom even then He was devotedly attached, was thrown into the dungeon in Ṭihrán. A mob sacked their house, and the family were stripped of their possessions and left in destitution. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá tells how one day He was allowed to enter the prison yard to see His beloved father when He came out for His daily exercise. Bahá’u’lláh was terribly altered, so ill He could hardly walk, His hair and beard unkempt, His neck galled and swollen from the pressure of a heavy steel collar, His body bent by the weight of His chains, and the sight made a never- to-be-forgotten impression on the mind of the sensitive boy.
During the first year of their residence in Baghdád, ten years before the open Declaration by Bahá’u’lláh of His Mission, the keen insight of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Who was then but nine years of age, already led Him to the momentous discovery that His father was indeed the Promised One Whose Manifestation all the Bábís were awaiting. Some sixty years afterwards He thus described the moment in which this conviction suddenly overwhelmed His whole nature:—52
I am the servant of the Blessed Perfection. In Baghdád I was a child. Then and there He announced to me the Word, and I believed in Him. As soon as He proclaimed to me the Word, I threw myself at His Holy Feet and implored and supplicated Him to accept my blood as a sacrifice in His Pathway. Sacrifice! How sweet I find that word! There is no greater Bounty for me than this! What greater glory can I conceive than to see thick neck chained for His sake, these feet fettered for His love, this body mutilated or thrown into the depths of the sea for His Cause! If in reality we are His sincere lovers—if in reality I am His sincere servant, then I must sacrifice my life, my all at His Bless Threshold.—Diary of Mírzá Aḥmad Sohrab, January 1914.
About this time He began to be called by His friends, “The Mystery of God,” a title given to Him by Bahá’u’lláh, by which He was commonly known during the period of residence in Baghdád.
When His father went away for two years in the wilderness, Abbás was heartbroken. His chief consolation consisted in copying and committing to memory the Tablets of the Báb, and much of His time was spent in solitary meditation. When at last His father returned, the boy was overwhelmed with joy.
1. Thursday, 5th Jamádi I, 1260 A.H.   [ Back To Reference]