This is a Compilation of recollections and recounts connected to the Ascension of the Master, intended for use when commemorating the ascension of Abdul-Baha (as complimentary to prayers and passages from the Writings). Also, this short video captures the essence of the text below followed by some pictures of the Master.

Just a quick note. In 1922, the first population count was conducted in Haifa. According to this count, Haifa had a population of almost 25 000 (of which 152 were Bahai’s as reported in “Ottoman Haifa” by Alex Carmel on page 143). It is reported that around 10 000 people attended the funeral progression of the Master. These figures (25 000 and 10 000) gives a feeling of what tremendous influence the Master had on the peoples of Haifa. Naturally all those present at the funeral progression were not inhabitants of Haifa, but the numbers speak for themselves.

 

The Masters Desire to be released from this world

In the last Tablet of Abdul-Baha to the friends of America, sent only a few days before his Ascension, he writes;

“In the cage of this world I flutter even as a frightened bird, and yearn every day to take My flight unto Thy Kingdom. Yá Bahá’u’l-Abhá! Make Me drink of the cup of sacrifice, and set Me free.”

He revealed a prayer less than six months before His ascension in honor of a kinsman of the Báb, and in it wrote:

“`O Lord! My bones are weakened, and the hoar hairs glisten on My head … and I have now reached old age, failing in My powers.’… No strength is there left in Me wherewith to arise and serve Thy loved ones… O Lord, My Lord! Hasten My ascension unto Thy sublime Threshold … and My arrival at the Door of Thy grace beneath the shadow of Thy most great mercy…”

 

The Masters awareness of his ascension

The Master, wishing to be relieved of the bonds of this world, was aware that his request had been accepted and the fast approaching day of his ascension. Around eight weeks prior to his ascension, he had a dream which he related to the friends.

“I seemed to be standing within a great Mosque, in the inmost shrine, facing the Qiblih in the place of the Imám himself. I became aware that a large number of people were flocking into the Mosque; more and yet more crowded in, taking their places in rows behind me, until there was a vast multitude. As I stood I raised loudly the ‘Call to Prayer.’ Suddenly the thought came to me to go forth from the Mosque.

When I found myself outside I said within myself, ‘For what reason came I forth, not having led the prayer? But it matters not; now that I have uttered the Call to Prayer, the vast multitude will of themselves chant the prayer.'”

 

Just a few weeks later, he had another dream where which he also related;  “I dreamed a dream and behold the Blessed Beauty, (Bahá’u’lláh) came and said unto me, “Destroy this room!”

The Master, in different ways, alluded of the fact that his time on earth was limited.

 

A month before his last hour, Doctor Sulayman Rafat Bey, a Turkish friend, who was a guest in the house, received a telegram telling him of the sudden death of his brother. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá speaking words of comfort to him, whispered, “Sorrow not, for he is only transferred from this plane to a higher one; I too shall soon be transferred, for my days are numbered.” Then patting him gently on the shoulder, he looked him in the face and said, “And it will be in the days that are shortly to come.”

The faithful servant of the Master, Ismail-Aqa relates the following two stories.

“Some time, about twenty days before my Master passed away I was near the garden when I heard him summon an old believer saying:

‘Come with me that we may admire together the beauty of the garden. Behold, what the spirit of devotion is able to achieve! This flourishing place was, a few years ago, but a heap of stones, and now it is verdant with foliage and flowers. My desire is that after I am gone the loved ones may all arise to serve the Divine Cause and, please God, so it shall be. Ere long men will arise who shall bring life to the world.’…

“A few days after this he said: ‘I am so fatigued! The hour is come when I must leave everything and take my flight. I am too weary to walk. ‘It was during the closing days of the Blessed Beauty, when I was engaged in gathering together his papers, which were strewn over the sofa in his writing chamber at Bahjí that He turned to me and said, “It is of no use to gather them, I must leave them and flee away.” ‘I also have finished my work, I can do nothing more, therefore must I leave it and take my departure.’

 

The days before the ascension of the Master

On the 25th of November, just a few days before his ascension, the Master called the same Isamil-Aqm and said;

‘I am sick with fatigue. Bring two of your oranges for me that I may eat them for your sake.’ This I did, and he having eaten them turned to me, saying ‘Have you any of your sweet lemons? He bade me fetch a few …. Whilst I was plucking them, he came over to the tree, saying, ‘Nay, but I must gather them with my own hands.’

After having eaten the fruits, the Master turned to Ismail-Aqa and asked;

‘Do you desire anything more? ‘ Then with a pathetic gesture of his hands, he touchingly, emphatically and deliberately said:

‘Now it is finished, it is finished!’

 

In the morning of the next day, November 26th, the Master arose early and had some tea.

“He asked for the fur-lined coat which had belonged to Bahá’u’lláh. He often put on this coat when he was cold or did not feel well, he so loved it. He then withdrew to his room, lay down on his bed and said,

“Cover me up. I am very cold. Last night I did not sleep well, I felt cold. This is serious, it is the beginning.”

 

After more blankets had been put on, he asked for the fur coat he had taken off to be placed over him. That day he was rather feverish. In the evening his temperature rose still higher, but during the night the fever left him. After midnight he asked for some tea.”

 

On Sunday morning of November 27th, the Master said;

“I am quite well and will get up as usual and have tea with you in the tea room.”

After he had dressed he was persuaded to remain on the sofa in his room.

In the afternoon he sent all the friends up to the Tomb of the Báb, where on the occasion of the anniversary of the declaration of the Covenant a feast was being held, offered by a Parsi pilgrim who had lately arrived from India.

At four in the afternoon, being on the sofa in his room he said:

“Ask my sister and all the family to come and have tea with me.”

After tea the Mufti of Haifa and the head of the Municipality, with another visitor, were received by him. They remained about an hour. He spoke to them about Bahá’u’lláh, related to them his second dream, showed them extraordinary kindness and even more than his usual courtesy. He then bade them farewell, walking with them to the outer door in spite of their pleading that he should remain resting on his sofa. He then received a visit from the head of the police, an Englishman, who, too, had his share of the Master’s gracious kindness. To him he gave some silk hand-woven Persian handkerchiefs, which he very greatly appreciated.

His four sons-in-law and Rúhí Effendi came to him after returning from the gathering on the mountain. They said to him: “The giver of the feast was unhappy because you were not there.” He said unto them:

“But I was there, though my body was absent, my spirit was there in your midst. I was present with the friends at the Tomb. The friends must not attach any importance to the absence of my body. In spirit I am, and shall always be, with the friends, even though I be far away.”

The same evening he asked after the health of every member of the Household, of the pilgrims and of the friends in Haifa.

“Very good, very good,” he said when told that none were ill. This was his very last utterance concerning his friends.

At eight in the evening he retired to bed after taking a little nourishment, saying:

“I am quite well.”

He told all the family to go to bed and rest. Two of his daughters however stayed with him. That night the Master had gone to sleep very calmly, quite free from fever.

 

Day of the Masters Ascension

On the 28th of November, “He awoke about 1.15 a.m., got up and walked across to a table where he drank some water. He took off an outer night garment, saying:

“I am too warm.”

He went back to bed and when his daughter Rúhá Khánum, later on, approached, she found him lying peacefully and, as he looked into her face, he asked her to lift up the net curtains, saying:

“I have difficulty in breathing, give me more air.”

Some rose water was brought of which he drank, sitting up in bed to do so, without any help. He again lay down, and as some food was offered him, he remarked in a clear and distinct voice:

“You wish me to take some food, and I am going?”

He gave them a beautiful look. His face was so calm, his expression so serene, they thought him asleep.

He had gone from the gaze of his loved ones!”

 

The funeral of the Master

Early on Monday morning November 28th the news of this sudden calamity had spread over the city, causing an unprecedented stir and tumult, and filling all hearts with unutterable grief.

The next morning, Tuesday November 29th, the funeral took place; a funeral the like of which Haifa, nay Palestine itself, had surely never seen; so deep was the feeling that brought so many thousands of mourners together, representative of so many religions, races and tongues.

The High Commissioner of Palestine, Sir Herbert Samuel, the Governor of Jerusalem, the Governor of Phoenicia, the Chief Officials of the Government, the Consuls of the various countries, resident in Haifa, the heads of the various religious communities, the notables of Palestine, Jews, Christians, Moslems, Druses, Egyptians, Greeks, Turks, Kurds, and a host of his American, European and native friends, men, women and children, both of high and low degree, all, about ten thousand in number, mourning the loss of their Beloved One.

1

The casket being carried from the House of the Master.

 

This impressive, triumphal procession was headed by a guard of honour, consisting of the City Constabulary Force, followed by the Boy Scouts of the Moslem and Christian communities holding aloft their banners, a company of Moslem choristers chanting their verses from the Qur’án, the chiefs of the Moslem community headed by the Mufti, a number of Christian priests, Latin, Greek and Anglican, all preceding the sacred coffin, upraised on the shoulders of his loved ones. Immediately behind it came the members of his family, next to them walked the British High Commissioner, the Governor of Jerusalem, and the Governor of Phoenicia. After them came the Consuls and the notables of the land, followed by the vast multitude of those who reverenced and loved him.

2

The casket being carried to the Shrine of the Bab.

 

As they slowly wended their way up Mount Carmel, the Vineyard of God, the casket appeared in the distance to be borne aloft by invisible hands, so high above the heads of the people was it carried. After two hours walking, they reached the garden of the Tomb of the Báb. Tenderly was the sacred coffin placed upon a plain table covered with a fair white linen cloth. As the vast concourse pressed round the Tabernacle of his body, waiting to be laid in its resting place, within the vault, next to that of the Báb, representatives of the various denominations, Moslems, Christians and Jews, all hearts being ablaze with fervent-love of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, some on the impulse of the moment, others prepared, raised their voices in eulogy and regret, paying their last homage of farewell to their loved one. So united were they in their acclamation of him, as the wise educator and reconciler of the human race in this perplexed and sorrowful age, that there seemed to be nothing left for the Bahá’ís to say.

The nine speakers having delivered their funeral orations, then came the moment when the casket which held the pearl of loving servitude passed slowly and triumphantly into its simple, hallowed resting place.

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