played a key role in explaining the world-embracing vision of His Father in terms that the
Western world could understand, an accomplishment that greatly accelerated the
transformation of the Bahá'í Faith from a small, Middle Eastern movement into the
worldwide religion it is today.
the passing of His Father, `Abdu'l-Bahá remained a prisoner of the Ottoman Empire. Via
letters and through direct contact with early Western believers who traveled to Palestine,
He guided the Faith's spread outside the Middle East.
After the revolution of the Young Turks,
`Abdu'l-Bahá became free to travel. In August 1911, He left the Holy Land on a four-month
visit to the Western world, stopping in London and Paris. There He met with early Western
believers and gave daily talks on the Bahá'í Faith and its principles.
The following spring, `Abdu'l-Bahá embarked
on a year-long tour, again to Europe, and then to the United States and Canada. The visit
greatly stimulated the spread of the Bahá'í Faith in those two countries.
During visits to more than 40 cities in North
America, He was greeted with respect and acclaim, by both the believers and non-believers
alike. In city after city, He was invited to speak at churches and synagogues, and before
distinguished groups and organizations.
The net effect was to establish the Bahá'í
Faith as a major new force for social reform and religious renewal. The message of
Bahá'u'lláh--with its great call for a new and peaceful human society--had been
proclaimed in the industrialized world and a new generation of firm believers had been
`Abdu'l-Bahá established an on-going plan
for the internationalization of the Faith. In a series of letters to believers in North
America, He asked them to spread out around the world to promulgate the Bahá'í Faith and
By the outbreak of World War I, `Abdu'l-Bahá
was back in the Holy Land. In His addresses in the West, He had warned about the coming
conflagration, and He had spoken unceasingly about the need to establish some form of
world commonwealth which might forestall such a war.
During the war, `Abdu'l-Bahá spent His time
acting on the principles that He and His father had preached. He personally organized, for
example, an extensive agricultural project near Tiberias, which provided an important
source of wheat to the region and helped to avert a famine in the area. `Abdu'l-Bahá was
knighted by the British Government after the war. continues