The approximate translation of Alláh-u-Abhá from the original Arabic into English is "God is Most Glorious." It is a phrase used as a greeting among members of the Bahá'í Faith around the world.
This usage began in the mid-1860s, during the five year period when Bahá'u'lláh lived in the city of Adrianople (now known as Edirne) in the European part of Ottoman Turkey. Prior to this, members of the Bábí and Bahá'í communities had used any of three different Arabic phrases, all approved by the Báb, as greetings:
- Alláh-u-Ajmal, which means "God is Most Beauteous"
- Alláh-u-Akbar, traditionally used in Islam, meaning "God is Most Great"
The shift from using these three phrases to the single phrase Alláh-u-Abhá was part of the gradual process that helped most of the Bábís recognize their new role and identity as Bahá'ís, a process which began in 1863 with Bahá'u'lláh's first public declaration that he was the Messenger whose coming the Báb had predicted.
As a matter of courtesy, Bahá'ís today tend to avoid using this phrase around people who are not familiar with it, just as one would normally refrain from conversing in a language that is unfamiliar to the majority of one's companions.
The phrase Alláh-u-Abhá is also considered an invocation or short prayer, with which a person can ask for blessings from the Creator. It is sometimes spoken in private for this purpose, but it also carries this meaning when used as a greeting.