The Bahá’í Faith
The Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh
The Power to UniteThe idea most central to the life of every Bahá’í is that he or she has entered into a Covenant with Bahá’u’lláh. In all other religions, after the passing of the Manifestation, His followers had thousands of disputes among themselves and, as a result, split the religion into many sects. The cause of disunity was sometimes the desire for leadership of certain ambitious individuals. But, when differences of opinion arose between even sincere believers about what the Words of the Manifestation meant, no one had been authorised by the Manifestation Himself to settle the disagreements, and this contributed to conflict and dissension. Each set of interpretations led to the creation of a different sect.
Bahá’u’lláh has protected His Faith against such division by endowing it with a unique power, the power of the Covenant. Before His passing, He stated in the clearest terms, in writing, that after Him, all Bahá’ís should turn to Abdu’l-Bahá.
Abdu’l-Bahá, Centre of the CovenantAbdu’l-Bahá, His oldest Son, was thus named the sole Interpreter of His Words and the Centre of His Covenant. He had been raised by Bahá’u’lláh Himself, had recognised His Station even as a child, and had shared the sufferings of His Father. He was a most precious gift given to humanity, the perfect Exemplar of all Bahá’í Teachings.
Abdu’l-Bahá lived on this earth for 77 years. He was born on the same night the Báb declared His Mission in 1844 and passed away in November 1921. His life was filled with affliction, but to everyone who entered His presence He brought the greatest joy and happiness.
After the passing of His Father, the responsibility for the Bahá’í community fell on His shoulders, and He laboured day and night to spread the Faith throughout the East and the West. He wrote thousands of Tablets to individuals and groups everywhere and clarified the Teachings of His Father. His interpretations are now an essential part of the Writings of the Bahá’í Faith.
By focusing on Abdu’l-Bahá as the Centre of Bahá’u’lláh’s Covenant, the Bahá’ís of the world remain united in their efforts to live a Bahá’í life and to create a new civilisation. They remember that as part of a promise to Bahá’u’lláh, they are to love one another and, in ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, they see the perfect example of one who loves. They remember that they must uphold justice, that they must be generous, that they must overlook the faults of others, and from the example of Abdu’l-Bahá they learn justice, generosity and forgiveness. More than anything else, by keeping their focus on Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’ís are always aware of their covenant with Bahá’u’lláh that they will not allow the unity of His followers to be broken and that, united as a worldwide community, they will labour until the oneness of humankind has been firmly established.
Shoghi Effendi, the GuardianIn His Will and Testament, Abdu’l-Bahá named His grandson the Guardian of the Faith and after His passing, Shoghi Effendi became the authorised interpreter of the Teachings. For 36 years, he continued the work of His Grandfather, clarifying the Words of the Manifestation and firmly establishing His Faith in all parts of the planet.
The Universal House of JusticeFive and a half years after the passing of Shoghi-Effendi, the Bahá’ís of the world elected the Universal House of Justice, as envisioned by Bahá’u’lláh and clearly described by Abdu’l-Bahá and the Guardian. The Universal House of Justice is the supreme institution of the Faith to which all the Bahá’is of the world now turn.
The Seat of the Universal House of Justice in Haifa
Abdu’l-Bahá as a young man
Abdu’l-Bahá in His later years
Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian