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May 17, 2021
Service to Service

Impressions on ‘Abdu’l-Baha

Service to Service

Source: Memories of Nine Years in Akka by Dr. Youness Afroukhteh compiled by Ismael Velasco

It was ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s habit to find relief from one tiring occupation by engaging Himself in another. For example, whenever He grew tired of writing, He would turn to the dictation of Tablets, and when He grew weary of this, He would summon the pilgrims and impart to them words of counsel and admonition. Once He felt tired out by writing, dictation or speaking, He would take long walks in the narrow winding streets of the Most Great Prison, and if in the process He encountered a believer or a non-believer, friend or foe, He would stop and spend a few minutes talking to him of matters of interest to that person. Thus, as He simply strolled down the streets of ‘Akka, ‘Abdu’l-Baha actually performed the important task of attending to great many side issues.

If He felt any weariness, He visited the sick and the poor. The sick received His prayers and blessings, and the needy the contents of his moneybag. As soon as the famous moneybag emerged from His pocket, the whole household would circle around that heavenly Personage like moths. The older ones received majidis and beshliks and the younger ones a few metliks.

As soon as the moneybag was empty He would return home. If there was any daylight left, He would summon Mirza Nuru’d-Din (His secretary) and pick up where He had left off. If it was early evening, and the chanter of the Qur’an was already in the biruni (visitors/public quarters) reception area, He would listen to the chant and permit some of the friends and certain others to attain His presence at the same time. If it were late at night, He would visit those pilgrims and residents who were gathered in the biruni area waiting for Him to come, and bestow upon them the expressions of His loving-kindness. He would then ask someone to chant a prayer, and afterwards he would retire to the andaruni (private quarters) where He busied Himself with managing the affairs of the house and attending to the education of each member of the blessed household.

After a short rest, He would be up before the first light of dawn and engaged in prayer and the revelation of divine verses until sunrise, when He would begin His busy day. Thus the only temporary respite and comfort for ‘Abdu’l-Baha was the time He spent at the dinner table – and even that time was taken up by the many questions of the Western friends. These required a variety of answers ranging from philosophical explanations to logical proofs, from abstract and traditional references to theological topics.

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