The Day of the CovenantSource: The Day of the Covenant by Christopher Buck
The Day of the Covenant is a Baha’i holy day honoring the Covenant of Baha’u’llah and, in particular, ‘Abdu’l-Baha (1844–1921) as the “Centre of the Covenant.” …the Covenant established by Baha’u’llah protects the Baha’i religion from schism. In anticipation of his eventual passing, Baha’u’llah called on all Baha’is to turn to ‘Abdu’l-Baha (Baha’u’llah’s eldest son) as successor (inerrant leader of the Baha’i community), interpreter (authorized exponent of Baha’u’llah’s teachings), and exemplar (perfect embodiment of Baha’i virtues and morality). This triple function has been as powerful in its influence on the future course and fortunes of the Baha’i community as ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s station is conceptually and functionally distinctive, and remains so.
Beyond ‘Abdu’l-Baha himself, the Baha’i Covenant extends to Shoghi Effendi (1897–1957), Guardian of the Faith from 1921 until his passing in 1957, and subsequently to the Universal House of Justice, the Baha’i international council, elected every five years by national representatives of Baha’i communities worldwide since its establishment in April 1963.
…Historically, the Day of the Covenant was established by ‘Abdu’l-Baha in order to discontinue the practice of early believers who, on their own initiative, used to celebrate his birthday. …‘Abdu’l-Baha was born on May 22, 1844, which, in fact, was the very same night that the Bab declared his prophetic mission. So, in order not to divert focus from the anniversary of the Declaration of the Bab, which was a sacred event, ‘Abdu’l-Baha chose November 26 for commemorating the inauguration of Baha’u’llah’s Covenant. According to Baha’i historian Hasan M. Balyuzi:
‘Abdu’l-Baha told the Baha’is that this day [May 22] was not, under any circumstances, to be celebrated as His day of birth. It was the day of the Declaration of the Bab, exclusively associated with Him. But as the Baha’is begged for a day to be celebrated as His, He gave them November 26th, to be observed as the day of the appointment of the Centre of the Covenant. It was known as The Greatest Festival, because He was the Greatest Branch. In the West it is known as the Day of the Covenant. (Balyuzi, ‘Abdu’l-Baha: The Centre of the Covenant of Baha’u’llah)
… On the Day of the Covenant, Baha’is honor ‘Abdu’l-Baha as the “Perfect Exemplar” of Baha’u’llah’s teachings and as the “Centre of the Covenant” of Baha’u’llah, paying tribute to that sacred Covenant, which historically safeguarded and will continue to preserve the unity of the Baha’ı faith-community for centuries to come.