'Abdu'l-Baha in New York City, 1912
Portraits of 'Abdu'l-Baha
This photograph is not a copy of a painting nor is it a hand-tinted version of a photograph. It represents the first edition of a full-color lithograph of the only known color photograph of ‘Abdu’l-Baha. The announcement regarding the availability of printed copies appeared in the March 1974 issue of the Baha’i News. The photograph was taken in Paris in 1911 as part of early experiments in color photography. The glass negatives were discovered in the early 1970’s by a Baha’i researcher in the field. A copy negative was prepared and sent to the Archives in Haifa. The US Baha’i Publishing Trust was able to borrow the negative to ensure as exact a reproduction as possible of the three colors used in the original process. (Adapted from the back cover of Baha’i News, March 1974)
'Abdu'l-Bahá ... incarnates an institution for which we can find no parallel whatsoever in any of the world's recognized religious systems
'Abdu'l-Bahá, Who incarnates an institution for which we can find no parallel whatsoever in any of the world's recognized religious systems, may be said to have closed the Age to which He Himself belonged and opened the one in which we are now laboring. His Will and Testament should thus be regarded as the perpetual, the indissoluble link which the mind of Him Who is the Mystery of God has conceived in order to insure the continuity of the three ages that constitute the component parts of the Bahá'í Dispensation. (Shoghi Effendi, ‘The Dispensation of Bahá'u'lláh, ‘The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh: Selected Letters’; The Compilation of Compilations vol II)
'Abdu'l-Baha at Lincoln Park in Chicago, 1912
I am the lamp and the love of God is my light. This light hath become reflected in the mirrors of hearts. Therefore turn thou unto thy heart, that is, when it is in the utmost freedom, and behold how the radiance of my love is manifest in that mirror, and thou art near unto me. Recite the Greatest Name at every morn, and turn thou unto the Kingdom of ABHA, until thou mayest apprehend my mysteries. (‘Abdu'l-Baha, Tablets of Abdu'l-Baha v III)
My name is 'Abdu'l-Bahá. My qualification is 'Abdu'l-Bahá. My reality is 'Abdu'l-Bahá. My praise is 'Abdu'l-Bahá. Thraldom to the Blessed Perfection is my glorious and refulgent diadem, and servitude to all the human race my perpetual religion... No name, no title, no mention, no commendation have I, nor will ever have, except 'Abdu'l-Bahá. This is my longing. This is my greatest yearning. This is my eternal life. This is my everlasting glory." (‘Abdu’l-Baha, quoted by Shoghi Effendi, ‘The World Order of Baha'u'llah’, p. 139)
“One Who, not only in the Dispensation of Bahá'u'lláh but in the entire field of religious history, fulfills a unique function.”
An attempt I strongly feel should now be made to clarify our minds regarding the station occupied by Abdu'l-Bahá and the significance of His position in this holy Dispensation. It would be indeed difficult for us, who stand so close to such a tremendous figure and are drawn by the mysterious power of so magnetic a personality, to obtain a clear and exact understanding of the role and character of One Who, not only in the Dispensation of Bahá'u'lláh but in the entire field of religious history, fulfills a unique function. Though moving in a sphere of His own and holding a rank radically different from that of the Author and the Forerunner of the Bahá'í Revelation, He, by virtue of the station ordained for Him through the Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh, forms together with them what may be termed the Three Central Figures of a Faith that stands unapproached in the world's spiritual history. He towers, in conjunction with them, above the destinies of this infant Faith of God from a level to which no individual or body ministering to its needs after Him, and for no less a period than a full thousand years, can ever hope to rise. (Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha'u'llah, pp. 131-32)
'Abdu'l-Baha in New York, 1912
He alone had been accorded the privilege of being called "the Master," an honor from which His Father had strictly excluded all His other sons. Upon Him that loving and unerring Father had chosen to confer the unique title of "Sirru'llah" (the Mystery of God), a designation so appropriate to One Who, though essentially human and holding a station radically and fundamentally different from that occupied by Bahá'u'lláh and His Forerunner, could still claim to be the perfect Exemplar of His Faith, to be endowed with super-human knowledge, and to be regarded as the stainless mirror reflecting His light. (Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 242)
'Abdu'l-Baha in front of Memorial Church where He paused during a tour of the Leland Stanford Junior University campus on 8 October 1912 and read the inscription on the stone plaque which reads: "... erected by Jane Stanford to the glory of God and in loving memory of her husband Leland Stanford"
'Abdu'l-Baha in a garden in Haifa
O people of the world! When the Mystic Dove will have winged its flight from its Sanctuary of Praise and sought its far-off goal, its hidden habitation, refer ye whatsoever ye understand not in the Book to Him Who hath branched from this mighty Stock [‘Abdu’l-Baha]. (Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 82)
"That which has come forth from the Center of the Covenant you must take fast hold of. That which issues from my lips and that which is written with my pen is the Reality. With this you can irrigate the vineyard of God. With this you can make the tree of the Cause of God become verdant. Through this the Name of the Kingdom of God will be spread all over the world. Through this the Sun of Reality will shine. Through this the clouds of Mercy will pour down." (‘Abdu’l-Baha, excerpts from some instructions given by Abdul-Baha to several friends in America, July, 1912, which received his personal signature; Star of the West, Vol. 11, No. 14, Nov. 23, 1920, )
"There hath branched from the Sadratu'l-Muntaha this sacred and glorious Being, this Branch of Holiness; well is it with him that hath sought His shelter and abideth beneath His shadow." (Baha'u'llah, quoted by Shoghi Effendi in The World Order of Baha'u'llah, p. 134)
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Portrait of 'Abdu'l-Baha by renowned Gertrude Kasebier, taken June 20th, 1912.