Association for Bahá’í Studies Conference

‘Abdu’l-Bahá as architect of the World Order of Bahá’u’lláh

As most Bahá’ís are aware, the life and contributions of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá are many, varied, and incredibly complex. Some of these are indicated by the several titles with which he was adorned, albeit he much preferred “‘Abdu’l-Bahá” – a servant to Bahá’u’lláh, a duty which he began as a youth and which never abated. The focus of this presentation is to put in perspective the extremely critical role he played in shaping the administrative order, with regard to its architecture, its function, and inviolability. For in addition to adding to – or defining more exactly – four absolutely crucial institutions to the World Order of Bahá’u’lláh, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá also set forth the hierarchy of relationships among these institutions, their powers and authority, and the process by which the administrative order could continue in perpetuity. While this presentation will not presume to offer any new information per se, it will attempt to bring to light precisely how critical ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s role was as the lynchpin between the guidance of Bahá’u’lláh in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas and the establishment of the pillars of the Supreme Institution by Shoghi Effendi. The presentation will also attempt to demonstrate how ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s contribution reinforces the manner in which the World Order mirrors forth and is upheld by the twin duties of knowing and worshipping God – i.e., the “learned” and the “rulers.”