‘Abdu’l-Bahá the Seventh Angel!
"And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign forever and ever." Revelation (11:15)"GOOD NEWS! GOOD NEWS! The doors of the Kingdom of God are open! GOOD NEWS! GOOD NEWS! Armies of Angels are descending from Heaven! GOOD NEWS! GOOD NEWS! The Sun of Truth is rising! GOOD NEWS! GOOD NEWS! Heavenly food is being sent from above! GOOD NEWS! GOOD NEWS! The Trumpet is sounding! GOOD NEWS! GOOD NEWS! The Banner of the Great Peace is floating far and wide! GOOD NEWS! GOOD NEWS! The Light of the Lamp of the Oneness of Humanity is shining bright! GOOD NEWS! GOOD NEWS! The fire of the Love of God is blazing! GOOD NEWS! GOOD NEWS! The Holy Spirit is being outpoured! GOOD NEWS! GOOD NEWS! For Everlasting Life is here! O Ye that sleep, Awake! O ye heedless ones, Learn wisdom! O Blind, receive your sight! O Deaf, Hear! O Dumb, Speak! O Dead, Arise! Be Happy! Be Happy! Be full of Joy!"
(Message to the London Bahá’ís for the Day of the Covenant, November 26th, 1911—‘Abdu’l-Bahá in London, p. 126)
In the Dispensation of Bahá’u’lláh, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá occupies a unique Station unprecedented in the annals of all Religions. Shoghi Effendi explains:
"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."(The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 131)
‘Abdu’l-Bahá's contribution to the World Order of Bahá’u’lláh, the Bahá’í Faith and humanity in general is enormously great and magnificent. What He did during His lifetime and "His greatest legacy to posterity" i.e. His Will and Testament "the Charter of a future world civilization, which may be regarded in some of its features as supplementary to no less weighty a Book than the Kitab-i-Aqdas" and "an Instrument which may be viewed as the Charter of the New World Order which is at once the glory and the promise of this most great Dispensation." is so magnificent, glorious and luminous which not only will give light and will illumine many centuries in the future to the end of the Bahá’í Dispensation, but His future glory and radiance has been observed and foreseen by the prophets of the past. For instance it is recorded in the Bible in the Book of Revelation (11:15) as follows:
"And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign forever and ever."
‘Abdu’l-Bahá has explained and unveiled the meaning of this prophecy, in the book Some Answered Questions:
"The seventh angel is a man qualified with heavenly attributes, who will arise with heavenly qualities and character. Voices will be raised, so that the appearance of the Divine Manifestation will be proclaimed and diffused. In the day of the manifestation of the Lord of Hosts, and at the epoch of the divine cycle of the Omnipotent which is promised and mentioned in all the books and writings of the Prophets — in that day of God, the Spiritual and Divine Kingdom will be established, and the world will be renewed; a new spirit will be breathed into the body of creation; the season of the divine spring will come; the clouds of mercy will rain; the sun of reality will shine; the life-giving breeze will blow; the world of humanity will wear a new garment; the surface of the earth will be a sublime paradise; mankind will be educated; wars, disputes, quarrels and malignity will disappear; and truthfulness, righteousness, peace and the worship of God will appear; union, love and brotherhood will surround the world; and God will rule for evermore — meaning that the Spiritual and Everlasting Kingdom will be established. Such is the day of God. For all the days which have come and gone were the days of Abraham, Moses and Christ, or of the other Prophets; but this day is the day of God, for the Sun of Reality will arise in it with the utmost warmth and splendor."
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 56)
Although knowledgeable Baha'is may know that Bahá’u’lláh was referring to Himself saying: "The seventh angel is a man qualified with heavenly attributes," it is helpful to note that the definition "a man" is the translation of the word of "ENSAN" used by Abdu'l-Baha which means ‘HUMAN BEING', ‘HUMAN', ‘MAN' or ‘PERSON' of course without the prefix "a" which has been put in place before "man" due to the requirements of English grammar. In Persian conversation sometimes ENSAN is a reference to self. For example, one may say: ‘Ensan can't stand quiet when he sees such cruelty to people' which means ‘I can't stay calm and say nothing when I see this oppression, and this is why I am protesting.' Even observation of the sequence of the verbs used in the English translation directs the readers to the fact that at the time of utterance "a man qualified with heavenly attributes" refers to the present since "is" =present indicative of be.
"who will arise with heavenly qualities and character." "who" in this phrase according to the dictionary is a "pronoun; as simple relative, with antecedent expressed: a. in a clause conveying an additional idea. b. used in clauses defining or restricting the antecedent." I think the "heavenly attributes" of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá is known to everyone (at least to those who call themselves Baha'is) and I don’t see that it is necessary to write about His "heavenly qualities and character", Shoghi Effendi has done it in the best possible way in the following words:
"He is, and should for all time be regarded, first and foremost, as the Center and Pivot of Bahá’u’lláh's peerless and all-enfolding Covenant, His most exalted handiwork, the stainless Mirror of His light, the perfect Exemplar of His teachings, the unerring Interpreter of His Word, the embodiment of every Bahá'í ideal, the incarnation of every Bahá’í virtue, the Most Mighty Branch sprung from the Ancient Root, the Limb of the Law of God, the Being "round Whom all names revolve," the Mainspring of the Oneness of Humanity, the Ensign of the Most Great Peace, the Moon of the Central Orb of this most holy Dispensation — styles and titles that are implicit and find their truest, their highest and fairest expression in the magic name ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. He is, above and beyond these appellations, the "Mystery of God" — an expression by which Bahá’u’lláh Himself has chosen to designate Him, and which, while it does not by any means justify us to assign to Him the station of Prophethood, indicates how in the person of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá the incompatible characteristics of a human nature and superhuman knowledge and perfection have been blended and are completely harmonized."(The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 133)
"The third period (1892-1921) revolves around the vibrant personality of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá , mysterious in His essence, unique in His station, astoundingly potent in both the charm and strength of His character. It commences with the announcement of the Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh, a document without parallel in the history of any earlier Dispensation, attains its climax in the emphatic assertion by the Center of that Covenant, in the City of the Covenant, of the unique character and far-reaching implications of that Document, and closes with His passing and the interment of His remains on Mt. Carmel. It will go down in history as a period of almost thirty years' duration, in which tragedies and triumphs have been so intertwined as to eclipse at one time the Orb of the Covenant, and at another time to pour forth its light over the continent of Europe, and as far as Australasia, the Far East and the North American continent."
(Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. xv)
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, while explaining the Bible Rev. 11:15 unfolded His plans for the future. His Talks which later were included in the book Some Answered Questions by Laura Clifford Barney took place during the years, 1904-1906 when He was confined to the city of Akka by the Ottoman government and only a limited number of pilgrims were allowed to visit Him. After the revolution of the Young Turks and the collapse of the Ottoman Empire ‘Abdu’l-Bahá became free and fulfilled His plans, when in 1910 He started his journey to Egypt, Europe and North America.
"The establishment of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh in the Western Hemisphere — the most outstanding achievement that will forever be associated with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá's ministry — had, as observed in the preceding pages, set in motion such tremendous forces, and been productive of such far-reaching results, as to warrant the active and personal participation of the Center of the Covenant Himself in those epoch-making activities which His Western disciples had, through the propelling power of that Covenant, boldly initiated and were vigorously prosecuting."
"‘Abdu’l-Bahá was at this time broken in health. He suffered from several maladies brought on by the strains and stresses of a tragic life spent almost wholly in exile and imprisonment. He was on the threshold of three-score years and ten. Yet as soon as He was released from His forty-year long captivity, as soon as He had laid the Báb’s body in a safe and permanent resting-place, and His mind waas free of grievous anxieties connected with the execution of that priceless Trust, He arose with sublime courage, confidence and resolution to consecrate what little strength remained to Him, in the evening of His life, to a service of such heroic proportions that no parallel to it is to be found in the annals of the first Bahá’í century."
"Indeed His three years of travel, first to Egypt, then to Europe and later to America, mark, if we would correctly appraise their historic importance, a turning point of the utmost significance in the history of the century. For the first time since the inception of the Faith, sixty-six years previously, its Head and supreme Representative burst asunder the shackles which had throughout the ministries of both the Báb and Baha'u'llah so grievously fettered its freedom. Though repressive measures still continued to circumscribe the activities of the vast majority of its adherents in the land of its birth, its recognized Leader was now vouchsafed a freedom of action which, with the exception of a brief interval in the course of the War of 1914-18, He was to continue to enjoy to the end of His life, and which has never since been withdrawn from its institutions at its world center."
"So momentous a change in the fortunes of the Faith was the signal for such an outburst of activity on His part as to dumbfound His followers in East and West with admiration and wonder, and exercise an imperishable influence on the course of its future history. He Who, in His own words, had entered prison as a youth and left it an old man, Who never in His life had faced a public audience, had attended no school, had never moved in Western circles, and was unfamiliar with Western customs and language, had arisen not only to proclaim from pulpit and platform, in some of the chief capitals of Europe and in the leading cities of the North American continent, the distinctive verities enshrined in His Father's Faith, but to demonstrate as well the Divine origin of the Prophets gone before Him, and to disclose the nature of the tie binding them to that Faith."
"Inflexibly resolved to undertake this arduous voyage, at whatever cost to His strength, at whatever risk to His life, He, quietly and without any previous warning, on a September afternoon, of the year 1910, the year following that which witnessed the downfall of Sultan Abdu'l-Hamid and the formal entombment of the Bab’s remains on Mt. Carmel, sailed for Egypt, sojourned for about a month in Port Said, and from thence embarked with the intention of proceeding to Europe, only to discover that the condition of His health necessitated His landing again at Alexandria and postponing His voyage. Fixing His residence in Ramleh, a suburb of Alexandria, and later visiting Zaytun and Cairo, He, on August 11 of the ensuing year, sailed with a party of four, on the S.S. Corsica, for Marseilles, and proceeded, after a brief stop at Thonon-les-Bains, to London, where He arrived on September 4, 1911. After a visit of about a month, He went to Paris, where He stayed for a period of nine weeks, returning to Egypt in December, 1911. Again taking up His residence in Ramleh, where He passed the winter, He embarked, on His second journey to the West, on the steamship Cedric, on March 25, 1912, sailing via Naples direct to New York where He arrived on April 11. After a prolonged tour of eight months' duration, which carried Him from coast to coast, and in the course of which He visited Washington, Chicago, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Montclair, Boston, Worcester, Brooklyn, Fanwood, Milford, Philadelphia, West Englewood, Jersey City, Cambridge, Medford, Morristown, Dublin, Green Acre, Montreal, Malden, Buffalo, Kenosha, Minneapolis, St. Paul, Omaha, Lincoln, Denver, Glenwood Springs, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, Oakland, Palo Alto, Berkeley, Pasadena, Los Angeles, Sacramento, Cincinnati, and Baltimore, He sailed, on the S.S. Celtic, on December 5, from New York for Liverpool; and landing there He proceeded by train to London. Later He visited Oxford, Edinburgh and Bristol, and thence returning to London, left for Paris on January 21, 1913. On March 30 He traveled to Stuttgart, and from there proceeded, on April 9, to Budapest, visited Vienna nine days later, returned to Stuttgart on April 25, and to Paris on May first, where He remained until June 12, sailing the following day, on the S.S. Himalaya from Marseilles bound for Egypt, arriving in Port Said four days later, where after short visits to Isma'iliyyih and Abuqir, and a prolonged stay in Ramleh, He returned to Haifa, concluding His historic journeys on December 5, 1913."
"It was in the course of these epoch-making journeys and before large and representative audiences, at times exceeding a thousand people, that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá expounded, with brilliant simplicity, with persuasiveness and force, and for the first time in His ministry, those basic and distinguishing principles of His Father's Faith, which together with the laws and ordinances revealed in the Kitab-i-Aqdas constitute the bed-rock of God's latest Revelation to mankind. The independent search after truth, unfettered by superstition or tradition; the oneness of the entire human race, the pivotal principle and fundamental doctrine of the Faith; the basic unity of all religions; the condemnation of all forms of prejudice, whether religious, racial, class or national; the harmony which must exist between religion and science; the equality of men and women, the two wings on which the bird of human kind is able to soar; the introduction of compulsory education; the adoption of a universal auxiliary language; the abolition of the extremes of wealth and poverty; the institution of a world tribunal for the adjudication of disputes between nations; the exaltation of work, performed in the spirit of service, to the rank of worship; the glorification of justice as the ruling principle in human society, and of religion as a bulwark for the protection of all peoples and nations; and the establishment of a permanent and universal peace as the supreme goal of all mankind — these stand out as the essential elements of that Divine polity which He proclaimed to leaders of public thought as well as to the masses at large in the course of these missionary journeys. The exposition of these vitalizing truths of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh, which He characterized as the "spirit of the age," He supplemented with grave and reiterated warnings of an impending conflagration which, if the statesmen of the world should fail to avert, would set ablaze the entire continent of Europe. He, moreover, predicted, in the course of these travels, the radical changes which would take place in that continent, foreshadowed the movement of the decentralization of political power which would inevitably be set in motion, alluded to the troubles that would overtake Turkey, anticipated the persecution of the Jews on the European continent, and categorically asserted that the "banner of the unity of mankind would be hoisted, that the tabernacle of universal peace would be raised and the world become another world."
(Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 281)
"The clarion call which ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had raised was the signal for an outburst of renewed activity which, alike in the motives it inspired and the forces it set in motion, America had scarcely experienced. Lending an unprecedented impetus to the work which the enterprising ambassadors of the Message of Bahá’u’lláh had initiated in distant lands, this mighty movement has continued to spread until the present day, has gathered momentum as it extended its ramifications over the surface of the globe, and will continue to accelerate its march until the last wishes of its original Promoter are completely fulfilled."(The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 87)
"Praised be the Lord that the prophecies of all His Manifestations have now been clearly fulfilled, in this greatest of all days, this holy and blessed age."
(Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 182)