Always, "Abdu'l-Bahá's emphasis was upon deeds-not upon words. And He set the example. Like the true leader, He never called upon His followers to do anything which
He Himself had not done before, to show the way.
Abdu'l-Bahá's life in 'Akká was full of work for other people's good. He would rise very early, take tea, and then begin His labours of love. Often He would not return to His
home until late in the evening, having had no food and no rest all day.
He would go first to a large room He had rented across the street from His own home. Here He received His guests, and every day people would come in crowds to ask for help
For instance, a man who wished to start a shop would come to Him and ask His advice. Another person would ask for a letter of introduction for some government post.
Perhaps it would be a poor woman whose husband had been taken for a soldier while she and her children were left to starve. Or another would come who would tell Him of how somebody's children were being badly treated, or about a woman who was beaten by her husband or her brother.
'Abdu'l-Bahá would send a qualified person with these poor people to state their case before the judge at the Court. In this way He made sure that they received justice.
There were also other guests - guests of great importance. The Governor, the clergy, and the officials of the Court often came, either alone or in groups, to call on 'Abdu'l-Bahá. He would serve them delicious coffee, and together they would discuss the latest news. Always they would ask 'Abdu'l-Bahá for explanations, advice, or comment, because they could see that He was full of love and wisdom, understanding, and practical help. When the Court session was finished, the judge would always come to see Abdu'l-Bahá. He would explain to 'Abdu'l-Bahá the very difficult cases because he knew that 'Abdul-Bahá would always solve the problems with justice,
Some days 'Abdu'l-Bahá hardly saw His own family, so many were the people who came in crowds for some kind of help. The sick people were His constant care. Whenever they wished to see Him, He went. To every sick person He sent someone each day to ask, "Did you sleep? How are you? Do you need anything?" If they needed medicines or anything else, He made sure that they received them. He was never careless of anybody or anything, except His own rest and His own food.
Sometimes people sent sweets to 'Abdu'l-Bahá in thanks for His services, but all the sweets, fruits, and cakes which He received were taken to the room across the street to be given to the visitors. The Arabs called Him "The Lord of Generosity".
'Abdu'l-Bahá believed in using medicine as well as spiritual healing. As there was no hospital in 'Akká, He hired a doctor by the name of Nikolaki Bey. He gave the doctor a regular salary to look after the very poor, and He asked the doctor not to tell who paid for the service. But always, the poor turned to 'Abdul-Bahá for help.
For instance, there was a poor, crippled woman named Na'úm who used to come to 'Abdu'l-Bahá every week for a gift of money. One day a man came running: "Oh Master!" he said, "Poor Na'um has the measles, and everybody is keeping away from her. What can be done?" "Abdu'l-Bahá immediately sent a woman to take care of her; He rented a room, put His own bedding in it, called the doctor, sent food and everything she needed. He went to see that she had every attention. And when she died in peace and comfort, He arranged a simple funeral and paid all the expenses Himself.
Lua Getsinger, one of the early Bahá'is of America, tells of an experience she had with 'Abdu'l-Bahá in 'Akká. She had made the pilgrimage to the prison-city to see "Abdu'l Bahá. She was with Him one day when He said to her that He was too busy that day to call upon a friend of His who was very ill and poor. He wished Lua to go in His place.
"Take him food." He said, "and care for him as I have been doing." He told her where this man was to be found, and she went gladly, proud that 'Abdu'l-Bahá should trust her to do some of His own work.
Lua went, but she returned quickly. "Master," she exclaimed, "surely you cannot realize to what a terrible place you sent me! I almost fainted from the awful smells. the dirty rooms, the low condition of that man and his house. I ran away before I should catch some terrible dis ease.
'Abdu'l-Bahá looked at her sadly and like a firm father. "If you want to serve God." He said,"you must serve your fellow-man, for in him do you see the image and likeness of God." He then told her to go back to the man's house. "If the house is dirty". He said, "you should clean it; if this brother of yours is not clean, bathe him; if he is hungry, feed him. Do not return until this is done. Many times 'Abdu'l-Bahá has done this for him; cannot you serve him even once?" This is how 'Abdu'l-Bahá taught Lua to serve her fellow-men.
Often when the family of 'Abdu'l-Bahá was about to sit down to dinner at night in "Akká, He would receive a report that some unfortunate person was starving. Without question, the family would quickly pack their own meal in a basket and send it away to the suffering family. At such times, 'Abdu'l-Bahá would smile and say, "It does not matter for us. We had dinner last night, and we shall have dinner again tomorrow."
During His prison life in 'Akká, 'Abdu'l-Bahá often gave His bed to those who had none, and He always refused to own more than one coat. "Why should I have two." He said, "when there are so many who have none?"
One day 'Abdu'l-Bahá was to entertain the Governor of Akká 'Abdu'l-Baha's wife felt that His old coat was hardly good enough for this important visit. She wished very much that Abdu'l-Bahá might have a better coat, but He never noticed what He wore, so long as it was clean. She wondered what she should do.
Finally, she decided that she would have a new coat made for Him, and on the morning of the visit she would put out the new one instead of the old. She felt He would surely never notice the difference. So she ordered a fine and rather expensive coat to be made by a tailor. And on the important day she laid it where 'Abdu'l-Bahá would be sure to find it.
But when 'Abdu'l-Bahá got ready to dress, He noticed right away that something was wrong. So He went searching through the house. He called, "Where is my coat? Where is my coat? Someone has left me a coat which is not mine!"
His wife then tried to explain what had happened, but 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Who always thought of others before He thought of Himself, said, "But think of this! For the price of this coat you can buy five such as I ordinarily use, and do you think I would spend so much money upon a coat which only I shall wear? If you think I need a new one, very well, but send this one back and for the same price have the tailor make me five such as I usually wear. Then, you see, I shall not only have a new one for myself, but I shall also have four more to give away."