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Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá

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Introduction

‘Abdu’l‑Bahá (23 May 1844–28 November 1921) was the eldest surviving son and designated successor to Bahá’u’lláh, the Prophet-Founder of the Bahá’í Faith. Though he was known as “‘Abbas Effendi” outside of the Bahá’í community, Bahá’ís often refer to him as “the Most Great Branch,” “the Mystery of God,” and “the Master”—titles bestowed on him by Bahá’u’lláh. After Bahá’u’lláh’s passing in 1892, he chose to refer to himself as “‘Abdu’l‑Bahá,” meaning “Servant of Bahá.”

The Bahá’í Faith originated in Iran in the middle of the nineteenth century, and owes its origin to the labors of two successive founding Prophets: the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh. As the former explained, His mission was to prepare the way for “Him Whom God shall make manifest,” the Manifestation of God awaited by the followers of all faiths. During the course of successive waves of persecution that followed this announcement and that claimed the lives of the Báb and several thousands of His followers, Bahá’u’lláh declared Himself to be the fulfillment of the Divine promise.

As a child ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá recognized his father’s spiritual station even before it was revealed publicly and accompanied Bahá’u’lláh in his banishment and exile beginning at age eight. ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá often served as his father’s deputy when dealing with officials and with the public. Upon Bahá’u’lláh’s passing in 1892, ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá became the head of the Bahá’í Faith in accordance with provisions made in Bahá’u’lláh’s writings.

As Bahá’u’lláh’s successor and chosen interpreter of his writings, ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá holds a special spiritual station of his own. Bahá’ís consider him the perfect exemplar of the Bahá’í Faith, endowed with divine knowledge, although he is not a prophet.

During his remarkable ministry ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá corresponded with Bahá’ís all over the world, providing them with an abundance of practical and spiritual guidance. Although many of the letters compiled in this volume were addressed to individuals in response to specific questions, the guidance they impart contains universal truths worthy of study by all. The correspondence and written works collected here cover a wide range of topics and contain a deep spiritual wisdom that remains as relevant and vital today as when it was first committed to paper.

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