January 21, 2010

The Baha’i Greeting of Allah-u-Abha

• Allah-u-Abha is an Arabic word that means “God is the Most Glorious or God is All-Glorious.” (Wendy Momen, Baha’i Dictionary, p. 15)

• It is “a form of Bahá'í greeting ..” (Shoghi Effendi, Letters from the Guardian to Australia and New Zealand, p. 16) It was during the period in Adrianople after Baha’u’llah’s public proclamation “that the greeting of ‘Allah-u-Abha’ superseded the old salutation of ‘Allah-u-Akbar’ [which the Babis used], and was simultaneously adopted in Persia and Adrianople (Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 176)

• “The Bahá'ís are free to greet each other with Allah-u-Abha when they meet, if they want to, but they should avoid anything which to outsiders, in a western country, might seem like some strange Oriental password. We must be very firm on principles and laws, but very normal and natural in our ways, so as to attract strangers.” (Shoghi Effendi, Directives from the Guardian, p. 3)

• ‘Allah-u-Abha’ and ‘Ya Baha'u'l-Abha’ [an invocation meaning: "O Thou Glory of Glories"]” both refer to the “the Greatest Name” of God, and “both refer to Baha’u’llah”. “The Greatest Name is the Name of Bahá'u'lláh … By Greatest Name is meant that Bahá'u'lláh has appeared in God's Greatest Name, in other words, that He is the Supreme Manifestation of God.” (Adapted from a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Letters from the Guardian to Australia and New Zealand, p. 41)

• “‘Allah-u-Abha’ and ‘Ya Baha'u'l-Abha’ “are both referred to as the Greatest Name.” (Shoghi Effendi, Letters from the Guardian to Australia and New Zealand, p. 16)

• “The House of Justice suggests that for their private meditations they may wish to use the repetition of the Greatest Name, Allah-u-Abha, ninety-five times a day which, although not yet applied in the West, is among the Laws, Ordinances and Exhortations of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas.” (The Universal House of Justice, September 1, 1983 Message to The National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Norway printed in The Universal House of Justice, Messages 1963 to 1986, p. 588-9)

• "The use of the Greatest Name 95 times a day is not absolutely binding. This and other similar matters will be clearly and fully explained when the 'Aqdas' is published. At present, however, the friends should be careful not to lay an undue emphasis upon them. When using the Greatest Name the words 'Allah-u-Abha should be used and not 'Ya Baha'u'l-Abha'." (From a Letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 10 1936; Lights of Guidance, p. 269)

Some Background Info Concerning the Greatest Name of God:

• There is a beautiful prayer in Shí'ah Islam, usually said during the period of fasting in the month of Ramadan, which invokes God through His names. There are nineteen invocations in this prayer and each revolves around one of His names, the first being Baha (Glory). The Báb has taken these names in the same order and given them to the nineteen months of His calendar, each month having nineteen days. This calendar is the basis of the Badi' Calendar, which is the one in use in this Dispensation. (Adib Taherzadeh, The Revelation of Baha'u'llah v 1, p. 116)

• It is one of the traditions of Islam that the 'Greatest Name of God' is among these nineteen names. Many Islamic scholars failed to solve this mystery. However, in the late sixteenth century a scholar of renown claimed that the 'Greatest Name of God' was Baha and, in consequence, himself adopted the name of Shaykh Bahá'í. He was born in Lebanon in the year 953 A.H. and travelled as a young boy to Persia. There he received his education, proceeding later to the court of Shah Abbas where he attained unsurpassed eminence on account of his achievements in the arts, sciences and theology. (Adib Taherzadeh, The Revelation of Baha'u'llah v 1, p. 116)

• Bahá'u'lláh has confirmed that the 'Greatest Name' is Baha. The various derivatives of this word in Arabic are also regarded as the 'Greatest Name'. The Báb, recognizing the station of Bahá'u'lláh as the Supreme Manifestation of God, has lauded His name in His Writings and has made many wonderful references to the name 'Baha'. For example, before His martyrdom, He wrote on a scroll, in the form of a pentacle, three hundred and sixty derivatives of the word 'Baha' which He sent to Bahá'u'lláh, together with some documents, His seals and other Writings. (Adib Taherzadeh, The Revelation of Baha'u'llah v 1, p. 117)

• In the Tablet of Madinatu't-Tawhid Bahá'u'lláh mentions that although God's attributes are numerous, yet in His own realm He is sanctified above all attributes and exalted above all names. To apply any attribute to Him would indeed be tantamount to a limitation. In God's dominion there can be no multiplicity. His essence and attributes remain one and the same and are indivisible. It is within the realms of the Manifestations that multiplicity of attributes occurs. Here we see many attributes such as love, knowledge, power and sovereignty revealed by these Holy Souls. (Adib Taherzadeh, The Revelation of Baha'u'llah v 1, p. 117)