History of Master’s Life
Source: Annamarie Honnold, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Baha
‘Abdu’l-Baha’s generosity was natural to Him already in childhood. A story is recorded of the time when young ‘Abbas Effendi went to the mountains to see the thousands of sheep which His Father then owned. The shepherds, wishing to honour their young Guest, gave Him a feast. Before ‘Abbas was taken home at the close of the day, the head shepherd advised Him that it was customary under the circumstances to leave a present for the shepherds. ‘Abbas told the man that He had nothing to give. Yet the shepherd persisted that He must give something. Whereupon the Master gave them all the sheep.
We are told that when Baha’u’llah heard about this incident, He laughed and commented, ‘We will have to protect ‘Abdu’l-Baha from Himself — someday he will give himself away.’
‘Abdu’l-Baha later stated, “In the opinion of this servant, true generosity is the greatest divine virtue and is utterly unrelated to the feelings of satisfaction and pleasure that are derived from attending to people’s needs and wants. The station of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s generosity was the very embodiment of the divine verse contained in a prayer by the Abha Beauty [Baha’u’llah]: “From the billows of the ocean of Thy generosity the seas of eagerness and enthusiasm were revealed.” In truth, from the billowing ocean of this manifestation of generosity, this source of charity, oceans of desire and greed were ever-present, for whoever was acquainted with that beloved personage longed with his whole being to be the recipient of His limitless blessings and charity, whether he was from the class of the poor or from the ranks of the affluent.”