239 Days in America, Day 237: December 03, 1912 | New York

Building a Community of Practice 1

‘ABDU’L-BAHÁ SPENT HIS last few days in New York in the neighborhood of Riverside Park on the Upper West Side. He took daily walks along the Hudson River, met the continuing stream of guests that arrived to see him almost every day, and had more intimate conversations with the Americans who were closest to him. These smaller gatherings served a special purpose for which he had also come to America.

It was one thing to speak in broad terms about principles, map out prescriptions for international peace, and carry on a rhetorical battle against the modern ideologies of race, gender, militarism, social darwinism, and religious and class prejudice. It was something else entirely to put into practice Bahá’u’lláh’s complete vision for constructing a new global civilization. That task would be long and hard, it would demand daily struggle, and it would require building a dedicated community of people who would commit themselves to that long-term goal. That’s why, in smaller groups, and usually toward the end of his stays in each city, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá focused special attention on the Americans around him who called themselves Bahá’ís. …

‘Abdu’l-Bahá also challenged them to spread their new religion beyond their own borders. “Teachers must continually travel to all parts of the continent, nay, rather, to all parts of the world,” he wrote to them in the middle of the war, on April 19, 1916, “but they must travel like ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, who journeyed throughout the cities of America.” That is, they must bear the costs themselves — not accepting money from any source outside the voluntary contributions of their own membership — and they must distinguish themselves by their deeds.

Final Days in America: New York City 2

Mahmúd noted on December 3:

“Today a spirit of sadness came over the lovers of the Peerless Beauty as preparations were made for His leaving.

“Two well attended meetings were held—one in the afternoon at the home of Mrs. Krug, and the other at the home of Mrs. Kinney.”

Tuesday, December 03, 1912 3

Group after group of older and newer believers sadly and tearfully came to see the Master, encircling Him and weeping at His imminent departure. Their hearts were sad and overcome with anguish. They confessed to Him their negligence and shortcomings in serving the Cause and their failure to obey His instructions and begged His assistance and blessings, confirmations and favor.

Today the believers were so overcome by emotion that even a stone would be affected. The anguish of their hearts was so great that all were affected. Indeed, in His presence they bowed and knelt so deeply that one could not distinguish between their heads and their feet.

There were two large meetings this afternoon and evening. One was at the home of Mrs Krug, which was filled with many people who had come just to be in ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s presence. The Master’s talk was this:

“He is God! Praise be to God that Mrs Krug has been the cause of your gathering in this meeting where you are engaged in mentioning God and in adducing proofs. I hope that day by day you will become more attracted, become more enlightened and make extraordinary spiritual progress. You should learn from one another so that you may know how to teach the Cause and guide the souls. Your hearts must be so attracted that when a question is heard you will be able to give a conclusive answer and the Holy Spirit may speak through your tongue. You must be assured and confident that the favors and confirmations of the Blessed Beauty will make a drop into an ocean, a seed into a fruitful tree, an atom into a luminous sun and a stone into a brilliant jewel. His favors are great, His treasuries inexhaustible and His bounties infinite. God, Who has bestowed favors upon others, shall surely bestow His favors upon you. I supplicate at the Court of the Almighty and beg that mighty confirmations may surround you, that from your tongues may flow irrefutable proofs and that your hearts become recipients for the splendors of the Sun of Reality. May your thoughts expand and your stations be exalted, so that you may be able to diffuse the fragrances of God and to make prodigious progress in the world of man. Unless a man acquires perfection for himself, he cannot teach others how to attain such perfection; and unless he gets life for himself, he cannot give life to others. We must therefore try first to acquire the bounties of the Kingdom for ourselves and attain life everlasting, and then endeavor to quicken the nations and give life to the world. Thus, we must constantly pray to His Holy Court and seek His eternal bounties. We must acquire pure hearts like unto mirrors, so that the lights of the Sun of Reality may shine. Every night and day we must supplicate to Him and beg for His assistance, saying: ‘O Lord, we are weak, make us strong; we are ignorant, make us wise. O Lord, we are poor, give us the wealth of the Kingdom. O God, we are dead, bestow upon us everlasting life; we are in utter lowliness, exalt us in Thy Kingdom. Should Thy heavenly confirmations surround us, each one of us can be a luminous star, otherwise we become lower than dust. O God, help us; make us victorious; assist us to overcome self and desire; and deliver us from the world of nature. O God! Quicken us through the breaths of the Holy Spirit so that we may arise to serve Thee, engage ourselves in worshipping Thee and broadcast the signs of Thy Kingdom with utmost truthfulness and sincerity. Thou art the Powerful, the Mighty, the Generous and the Compassionate.”

From this meeting the Master went to Mrs Kinney’s home. The rush of friends and seekers was greater than ever before and all hearts were aflame. The Master exhorted them to exert their utmost to propagate the divine principles and to diffuse the fragrances of God. He explained the new teachings and the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh. After the meeting, the believers gathered around Him. He bade farewell to each, bestowed His favor upon all and then went upstairs.

Talk at Home of Mr. and Mrs. Edward B. Kinney, 780 West End Avenue, New York 4

I have attended more meetings in New York than in all the other cities combined. Day and night, individually and collectively you have listened to the teachings and exhortations of Bahá’u’lláh. I have proclaimed unto you the glad tidings of the Kingdom of God and explained the wishes of the Blessed Perfection. I have set forth that which is conducive to human progress and shown you the humility of servitude. The teachings of Bahá’u’lláh have been clearly interpreted. The time has now come when I must leave you; therefore, this will be our farewell meeting.

I am greatly pleased with you all and rejoice that you have shown me the utmost kindness and affection. It is my desire that Bahá’u’lláh shall be pleased with you, that you may follow His precepts and become worthy of His confirmations. The requirements are that your minds must be illumined, your souls must be rejoiced with the glad tidings of God, you must become imbued with spiritual moralities, your daily life must evidence faith and assurance, your hearts must be sanctified and pure, reflecting a high degree of love and attraction toward the Kingdom of Abhá. You must become the lamps of Bahá’u’lláh so that you may shine with eternal light and be the proofs and evidences of His truth. Then will such signs of purity and chastity be witnessed in your deeds and actions that men will behold the heavenly radiance of your lives and say, “Verily, ye are the proofs of Bahá’u’lláh. Verily, Bahá’u’lláh is the True One, for He has trained such souls as these, each one of which is a proof in himself.” They will say to others, “Come and witness the conduct of these souls; come and listen to their words, behold the illumination of their hearts, see the evidences of the love of God in them, consider their praiseworthy morals, and discover the foundations of the oneness of humanity firmly implanted within them. What greater proof can there be than these people that the message of Bahá’u’lláh is truth and reality?” It is my hope that each one of you shall be a herald of God, proclaiming the evidences of His appearance, in words, deeds and thoughts. Let your actions and utterances be a witness that you are of the Kingdom of Bahá’u’lláh. These are the duties enjoined upon you by Bahá’u’lláh.

Bahá’u’lláh endured the greatest hardships. He found neither rest by night nor peace by day. He was constantly under the stress of great calamity—now in prison, now in chains, now threatened by the sword—until finally He broke the cage of captivity, left this mortal world and ascended to the heaven of God. He endured all these tribulations for our sakes and suffered these deprivations that we might attain the bestowals of divine bounty. Therefore, we must be faithful to Him and turn away from our own selfish desires and fancies in order that we may accomplish that which is required of us by our Lord.

It is my wish that you shall arise to live according to these teachings and exhortations; that all of us may be divinely strengthened, enter the paradise of the spiritual Kingdom, diffuse the lights of the Sun of Truth, cause the waves of this Most Great Ocean to reach all human souls so that this world of earth may be transformed into the world of heaven and this devastated ground be changed into the paradise of Abhá.

’Abdu’l-Bahá in America, 1912-2012: Calling America to Its Spiritual Destiny

‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s imminent departure — believers overcome by emotion

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

December 3, 1912


  1. Sockett, Robert, and Jonathan Menon. “Building a Community of Practice.” 239 Days in America, 4 Dec. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/12/03/building-a-community-of-practice/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 192-193.
  3. ’Abdu’l-Bahá, and Mirza Mahmud-i-Zarqani. Mahmúd’s Diary: The Diary of Mírzá Mahmúd-i-Zarqání Chronicling ’Abdu’l-Bahá’s Journey to America. Edited by Shirley Macias. Translated by Mohi Sobhani. Oxford: George Ronald, 1998. https://bahai-library.com/zarqani_mahmuds_diary&chapter=10#section255
  4. ʻAbduʼl-Bahá. The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by ʻAbduʼl-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912. Edited by Howard MacNutt. 2nd ed. Wilmette, Ill: Baháʼí Publishing Trust, 1982, 460-461. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/33#799684413

239 Days in America, Day 236: December 02, 1912 | New York

‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Modern American History 1

… Around the world there are millions of people — from every country, language, and background — for whom ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s example is central to their lives. But by American historians he appears to have been left out.

Why?

I believe the reasons have to do partly with the way historians approach their craft and partly with the way ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s story has been told across the century. …

Over the last eight months, we have attempted to establish a narrative about ‘Abdu’l-Bahá that embeds him in the rich context of American life in 1912, told in a language crafted for a broad audience. We have sought to present ‘Abdu’l-Bahá as an original voice, who engaged Americans of all kinds in conversations about the way they understood themselves and their place in the world, instead of primarily as a religious figure for a particular community. We have found that this approach reveals ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s American discourse to have been far more nuanced and complex than we imagined. Paradoxically, understanding how ‘Abdu’l-Bahá engaged deeply with the specifics of America in 1912, and placing him in the detailed context of time and place, makes him more relevant — not less — to the challenges America faces today.

Final Days in America: New York City

It was on Monday, December 2—the day the newspapers announced Sarah Bernhardt’s arrival in New York to start a vaudeville tour—that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá summed up how the friends must be:

“These are the days of my farewell to you for I am sailing on the fifth of the month. … I must therefore give you my instructions and exhortations today and there are none other than the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh. … 2

“In brief, let each one of you be as a lamp shining forth with the light of the virtues of the world of humanity. Be trustworthy, sincere, affectionate and replete with chastity. Be illumined, be spiritual, be divine, be glorious, be quickened of God, be a Baha’i.” 3

Monday, December 02, 1912 4

After the Master had finished His morning prayers, the friends began to come to visit Him such that by midday the Master’s residence was filled with people. He went downstairs and spoke to them:

“I have stayed a long time with you in New York. My stay in other towns has not been a tenth as long. I have met with you day and night, individually and collectively; conveyed to you the admonitions of Bahá’u’lláh; delivered to you the heavenly glad tidings; and explained the means of human progress. I have elucidated the harmful effects of prejudices and imitations and the impurity of selfish desires, expounded the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh and clarified the meanings of the divine proofs and questions.

“The time for my departure is near and I am making arrangements for the voyage. Therefore I shall not be able to attend every meeting, so I shall bid you farewell. I am pleased with you and grateful for your services. Truly, you have shown great kindness and extended to me the utmost hospitality. I supplicate to the Kingdom of Bahá’u’lláh to shower upon you His assistance and confirmations so that day by day you may be more assisted to defend the rights of Bahá’u’lláh, that your hearts may become more enlightened, your morals heavenly, your souls transported with joy and your conduct proof of your faith and certitude. May you be in the utmost sanctity, be completely attracted and turned to the Abhá Kingdom and become like brilliant lights. May you become evident signs of the Blessed Beauty and proofs of the reality of Bahá’u’lláh so that you may illuminate the world. And when people look at your deeds and conduct they will see the traces of holiness and severance and will behold heavenly brightness in you and all will testify that ‘these people are truly proofs of the reality of Bahá’u’lláh’, and that ‘Bahá’u’lláh is undoubtedly the Sun of Truth who has educated these people through His power’. May they see divine lights in your behavior, find the signs of the love of God, observe praiseworthy conduct in you and seek the virtues of the world of man within you. You must each become the proclaimer of truth and shine from the horizon of the world of humanity like brilliant stars. This is what is meant by defending the rights of Bahá’u’lláh; this is the purpose of the Blessed Beauty in suffering afflictions and accepting confinement in the Most Great Prison. He bore all afflictions and difficulties and ascended to the Kingdom of God a prisoner so that we would act according to His teachings and arise and carry out that which is consistent with faithfulness; that we may act upon His exhortation and raise the call of the Abhá Kingdom and proclaim the light of the bounties of truth, so that the waves of the Most Great Ocean may surge high, this world may become the mirror of the world above, this bed of thorns may turn into a flower garden and this region of dust may reflect the All-Glorious Paradise.”

In the afternoon He said:

“We have sown some seeds and hope that the sun of favor will shine upon them, the rain of mercy will pour down, and the breezes of generosity will waft over them, because America has receptivity.”

In the evening, He spoke to a gathering of the friends and said:

“I supplicate and implore that the clouds of mercy may shower upon you and the Sun of Truth may shine upon you so that you may attain to the purpose of the holy Manifestations of God. This is my supplication because you are the beloved ones of the Blessed Beauty and the servants of the Greatest Name. I undertook this voyage in order to see you and, God willing, you will come to the Holy Land and we shall meet there in that land which was trodden by the sacred feet of the Prophets of God.”

Talk at Home of Mr. and Mrs. Edward B. Kinney, 780 West End Avenue, New York 5

I will speak to you concerning the special teachings of Bahá’u’lláh. All the divine principles announced by the tongue of the Prophets of the past are to be found in the words of Bahá’u’lláh; but in addition to these He has revealed certain new teachings which are not found in any of the sacred Books of former times. I shall mention some of them; the others, which are many in number, may be found in the Books, Tablets and Epistles written by Bahá’u’lláh—such as the Hidden Words, the Glad Tidings, the Words of Paradise, Tajallíyát, Ṭarázát and others. Likewise, in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas there are new teachings which cannot be found in any of the past Books or Epistles of the Prophets.

A fundamental teaching of Bahá’u’lláh is the oneness of the world of humanity. Addressing mankind, He says, “Ye are all leaves of one tree and the fruits of one branch.” By this it is meant that the world of humanity is like a tree, the nations or peoples are the different limbs or branches of that tree, and the individual human creatures are as the fruits and blossoms thereof. In this way Bahá’u’lláh expressed the oneness of humankind, whereas in all religious teachings of the past the human world has been represented as divided into two parts: one known as the people of the Book of God, or the pure tree, and the other the people of infidelity and error, or the evil tree. The former were considered as belonging to the faithful, and the others to the hosts of the irreligious and infidel—one part of humanity the recipients of divine mercy, and the other the object of the wrath of their Creator. Bahá’u’lláh removed this by proclaiming the oneness of the world of humanity, and this principle is specialized in His teachings, for He has submerged all mankind in the sea of divine generosity. Some are asleep; they need to be awakened. Some are ailing; they need to be healed. Some are immature as children; they need to be trained. But all are recipients of the bounty and bestowals of God.

’Abdu’l-Bahá in America, 1912-2012: Calling America to Its Spiritual Destiny

‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s farewell address — we should “defend the rights of Bahá’u’lláh”

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

December 2, 1912


  1. Menon, Jonathan. “‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Modern American History.” 239 Days in America, 2 Dec. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/12/02/abdul-baha-in-american-history/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 191.
  3. Ibid, 192.
  4. ’Abdu’l-Bahá, and Mirza Mahmud-i-Zarqani. Mahmúd’s Diary: The Diary of Mírzá Mahmúd-i-Zarqání Chronicling ’Abdu’l-Bahá’s Journey to America. Edited by Shirley Macias. Translated by Mohi Sobhani. Oxford: George Ronald, 1998. https://bahai-library.com/zarqani_mahmuds_diary&chapter=10#section254
  5. ʻAbduʼl-Bahá. The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by ʻAbduʼl-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912. Edited by Howard MacNutt. 2nd ed. Wilmette, Ill: Baháʼí Publishing Trust, 1982, 453-454. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/33#416617759

239 Days in America, Day 235: December 01, 1912 | New York

Religion: The Driving Force Behind Human Civilization 1

THE CHURCH OF THE Ascension in New York’s Greenwich Village hosted ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s first public talk in America. “Since my arrival in this country I find that material civilization has progressed greatly,” he told them on April 14, 1912, “but spiritual civilization has been left behind.” It was a message that resonated strongly with the congregation. The church was a leading force in America’s Social Gospel movement, a cause born of a belief that Christians must be active agents in the world, devoted to such social justice issues as the alleviation of poverty, and the rights of exploited workers and minorities. Walter Rauschenbusch, its most prominent theologian, argued for “collective salvation.” He contended that Jesus did not die as a substitute for original sin, but rather “to substitute love for selfishness as the basis for human society.”

The imperative of the modern age, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá told the congregation, is to establish a just and peaceful society on a global scale. He noted that political power would never be equal to the task. Faith in racial or national identities would similarly fail. Nothing short of the power of religion, he said, could establish the motivational or ethical foundations needed for a unified world. …

But even as religion transforms civilization, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá argued, it too must change. While its moral core remains the same throughout time, he explained, its social laws are designed for a specific age. When stubbornly clung to, they become a source of irrationality and decay. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá discussed how the religion of Moses had been renewed by Jesus, and again by Muhammad. Each time the pattern was the same: these founders of the great religions were born into decaying societies, and effected a wholesale transformation in their moral, cultural, educational, and economic character.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá argued repeatedly in America that nothing short of the unifying power of religion could generate global peace and justice in the modern age. His father, Bahá’u’lláh, had re-voiced religion’s eternal teachings, and brought the social guidance needed for an age in which the unification of the planet was within reach. Bahá’u’lláh had abolished the priesthood, challenged people to investigate truth independently from outside influences, urged them to banish all forms of superstition and prejudice, and affirmed that service to the entire human race was the highest form of worship.

Final Days in America: New York City 2

On Sunday, December 1, one of the subjects Abdu’l-Bahá discussed was universal peace:

“… they [Americans] can succeed in bringing about universal peace, provided they take the right stand and the nation and government put forth strenuous efforts to carry out the teaching and principles of God. This question of peace in the religion of Bahá’u’lláh is a positive command and religious obligation. It is not the resolution of a congress or the edict of a parliament of a nation or a country so that it can be considered as permeated with selfish desires and be subject to amendments. It is a positive divine command and is, thus, certain to come to pass. As opposition to Christ is considered a sin in the terminology of that religion, the rejection of peace has the same status in the religion of Bahá’u’lláh.”

Sunday, December 01, 1912 3

Some of the friends came to see ‘Abdu’l-Bahá very early in the morning. They saw Him at prayer and heard from His lips the prayers and verses of the Supreme Pen.

At the Master’s residence, streams of visitors were honored to attain His presence and grateful for His blessings and favors. Aflame with the love of God, they showed reverence towards His Cause.

The Master’s talk concerned the capacity of the Americans to bring about universal peace. He said:

“As Americans are removed from most political difficulties they live at ease in isolation and, compared to most other regions, are more desirous of peace and harmony, so they can succeed in bringing about universal peace provided they arise as they should and the nation and government put forth strenuous efforts and, through spiritual power, carry out the divine teachings and principles. The matter of peace, in the religion of Bahá’u’lláh, is a firm command and a religious obligation. It is not the resolution of a congress or the edict of a committee of some nation or country influenced by selfish desires and subject to amendments. Because it is a fundamental principle, it will inevitably come to pass. As the denial of Christ and opposition to Him are considered infidelity in religious terminology, the rejection of peace has the same status in the religion of Bahá’u’lláh.

No affair in the world succeeds without sacrifice. Up to now twenty thousand persons have been sacrificed for this Cause. The Bahá’ís have accepted every affliction and persecution. For forty years I was in a prison for promulgating universal peace and the oneness of humanity. Because these teachings were contrary to the interests and the despotism of the Sháh of Persia and the Sultán of Turkey, they arose in opposition and oppression. With all their power they girded their loins to uproot and efface the Cause of God. But the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh was victorious and the fame of His Revelation spread worldwide. Every opponent was overthrown and humiliated because this Cause was supported by the All-Powerful and because His teachings answer the need of the age to promote human happiness and provide supreme guidance.”

In the afternoon ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spoke to a group of Christian ministers, saying:

“The teachings of Christ are forgotten. Consider that Christ commanded Peter to sheathe his sword. He also said, ‘Whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also’ [Matt. 5:39]. But now, contrary to these teachings, see how Christians are killing one another. Christian leaders considered the shedding of the blood of each other a lawful act. What blood has been shed over the conflict between Protestants and Catholics!”

This evening the Master spoke at a public meeting at Mrs Kinney’s home about superstitions, dogmas and the blind imitation of the various religions, concluding with an explanation of the teachings of the Abhá Beauty. As supper was served, and as He had at other times, the Master invited some of the friends to His table to enjoy the Persian dishes. They were overjoyed to see their Master’s smile and to hear His stories.

29 November 1912, Talk at Home of Mr. and Mrs. Edward B. Kinney, 780 West End Avenue, New York 4

As to the third meaning of sacrifice, it is this: If you plant a seed in the ground, a tree will become manifest from that seed. The seed sacrifices itself to the tree that will come from it. The seed is outwardly lost, destroyed; but the same seed which is sacrificed will be absorbed and embodied in the tree, its blossoms, fruit and branches. If the identity of that seed had not been sacrificed to the tree which became manifest from it, no branches, blossoms or fruits would have been forthcoming. Christ outwardly disappeared. His personal identity became hidden from the eyes, even as the identity of the seed disappeared; but the bounties, divine qualities and perfections of Christ became manifest in the Christian community which Christ founded through sacrificing Himself. When you look at the tree, you will realize that the perfections, blessings, properties and beauty of the seed have become manifest in the branches, twigs, blossoms and fruit; consequently, the seed has sacrificed itself to the tree. Had it not done so, the tree would not have come into existence. Christ, like unto the seed, sacrificed Himself for the tree of Christianity. Therefore, His perfections, bounties, favors, lights and graces became manifest in the Christian community, for the coming of which He sacrificed Himself.

As to the fourth significance of sacrifice: It is the principle that a reality sacrifices its own characteristics. Man must sever himself from the influences of the world of matter, from the world of nature and its laws; for the material world is the world of corruption and death. It is the world of evil and darkness, of animalism and ferocity, bloodthirstiness, ambition and avarice, of self-worship, egotism and passion; it is the world of nature. Man must strip himself of all these imperfections, must sacrifice these tendencies which are peculiar to the outer and material world of existence.

On the other hand, man must acquire heavenly qualities and attain divine attributes. He must become the image and likeness of God. He must seek the bounty of the eternal, become the manifestor of the love of God, the light of guidance, the tree of life and the depository of the bounties of God. That is to say, man must sacrifice the qualities and attributes of the world of nature for the qualities and attributes of the world of God. For instance, consider the substance we call iron. Observe its qualities; it is solid, black, cold. These are the characteristics of iron. When the same iron absorbs heat from the fire, it sacrifices its attribute of solidity for the attribute of fluidity. It sacrifices its attribute of darkness for the attribute of light, which is a quality of the fire. It sacrifices its attribute of coldness to the quality of heat which the fire possesses so that in the iron there remains no solidity, darkness or cold. It becomes illumined and transformed, having sacrificed its qualities to the qualities and attributes of the fire.

Likewise, man, when separated and severed from the attributes of the world of nature, sacrifices the qualities and exigencies of that mortal realm and manifests the perfections of the Kingdom, just as the qualities of the iron disappeared and the qualities of the fire appeared in their place.

Every man trained through the teachings of God and illumined by the light of His guidance, who becomes a believer in God and His signs and is enkindled with the fire of the love of God, sacrifices the imperfections of nature for the sake of divine perfections. Consequently, every perfect person, every illumined, heavenly individual stands in the station of sacrifice. It is my hope that through the assistance and providence of God and through the bounties of the Kingdom of Abhá you may be entirely severed from the imperfections of the world of nature, purified from selfish, human desires, receiving life from the Kingdom of Abhá and attaining heavenly graces. May the divine light become manifest upon your faces, the fragrances of holiness refresh your nostrils and the breath of the Holy Spirit quicken you with eternal life.

’Abdu’l-Bahá in America, 1912-2012: Calling America to Its Spiritual Destiny

Americans have the capacity to bring about universal peace

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

December 1, 1912


  1. Sockett, Robert. “Religion: The Driving Force Behind Human Civilization.” 239 Days in America, 1 Dec. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/12/01/religion-the-driving-force-of-human-civilization/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 190-191.
  3. ’Abdu’l-Bahá, and Mirza Mahmud-i-Zarqani. Mahmúd’s Diary: The Diary of Mírzá Mahmúd-i-Zarqání Chronicling ’Abdu’l-Bahá’s Journey to America. Edited by Shirley Macias. Translated by Mohi Sobhani. Oxford: George Ronald, 1998. https://bahai-library.com/zarqani_mahmuds_diary&chapter=10#section253
  4. ʻAbduʼl-Bahá. The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by ʻAbduʼl-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912. Edited by Howard MacNutt. 2nd ed. Wilmette, Ill: Baháʼí Publishing Trust, 1982, 451-452. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/33#235439943

239 Days in America, Day 234: November 30, 1912 | New York

The Progressives Collapse: 1917-1920 1

In 1912, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had argued that political coalitions, and social and diplomatic approaches to America’s problems would, of themselves, prove inadequate to the challenges of the modern age. “The bonds which hold together the body politic are not sufficient,” he said on October 7 in Oakland, “. . . for how often it happens that people of the same nation wage civil war amongst themselves.” “Another means of seeming unity,” he told a group in Chicago on September 16, “is the bond of political association, where governments and rulers have been allied for reasons of intercourse and mutual protection, but which agreement and union afterward became subject to change and violent hatred even to the extreme of war and bloodshed.” In early March, 1917, a month before America declared war, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá reiterated his point. Patriotism, nationalism, political institutions, shared interests and ideals, he argued, are “the matter and not the substance, accidental and not eternal—temporary and not everlasting. With the appearance of great revolutions and upheavals, all these collective centers are swept away.”

“What is real unity?” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had asked a Unitarian congregation in Brooklyn on June 16th. “The unity which is productive of unlimited results,” he argued, “is first a unity of mankind. . . . For they all breathe the same atmosphere, all inhabit the same earth, all are sheltered beneath the same heaven, all receive effulgence from the same sun, all are under the protection of one God.”

Final Days in America: New York City 2

Finally, on November 30, some devised a plan for clinging to His mantel until He would accept it. He called in others and said to them all:

I am pleased with your services and I am grateful for all you have done for Me. … Now you have brought presents for the members of My family. They are acceptable, but the best of all presents is the love of God which remains preserved in the treasuries of hearts. Material presents remain for a time but this lasts forever. These presents require chests and shelves for safekeeping while this is preserved in the repositories of the minds and hearts and remains eternal and immortal forever in the divine worlds. I shall, therefore, convey to them your love which is the most precious of all gifts. No one uses diamond rings in our home and no one wants rubies. That house is free from all these things.

I, however, accept your presents but I leave them in your safe keeping with the request that you will kindly sell them and send the proceeds to the funds for the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár.

Saturday, November 30, 1912 3

Some of the believers agreed among themselves to go to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and cling to His robe until He accepted their gifts. They came and begged He accept their offerings. The Master called them, saying:

“I am most grateful for your services; in truth you have served me. You have extended hospitality. Night and day you have been ready to serve and to diffuse the divine fragrances. I shall never forget your services, for you have no purpose but the will of God and you desire no station but entry into the Kingdom of God. Now you have brought presents for the members of my family. They are most acceptable and excellent but better than all these are the gifts of the love of God which remain preserved in the treasuries of the heart. These gifts are evanescent but those are eternal; these jewels must be kept in boxes and vaults and they will eventually perish but those jewels remain in the treasuries of the heart and will remain throughout the world of God for eternity. Thus I will take to them your love, which is the greatest of all gifts. In our house they do not wear diamond rings nor do they keep rubies. That house is sanctified above such adornments.

“I, however, have accepted your gifts; but I entrust them to you for you sell and send the proceeds to the fund for the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár in Chicago.

When the friends continued to plead with Him, He said: ‘I want to take from you a present which will endure in the eternal world and a jewel which belongs to the treasuries of the heart. This is better.’

No matter how much the friends supplicated and pleaded, He would not accept their gifts and instead asked them all to contribute towards the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár fund. He did this everywhere He traveled.

Mrs [Helen S.] Goodall and Mrs [Ella Goodall] Cooper asked the Master, as He had not accepted their gifts — which would have drawn blessings and confirmations upon them — to give them permission to render Him some service on His travels. They even wrote letters to some of His companions, asking them to intercede on their behalf that they might render a service and share the Master’s travel expenses. However, He would not accept their offer and refused all entreaties.

There was a public meeting at the home of Mrs [Carrie H.] Kinney. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spoke about love, loyalty, unity, the amity of the believers, spreading the Word of God, the promotion of universal peace and the brotherhood of humanity. The excitement and joy of the believers were beyond description.

29 November 1912, Talk at Home of Mr. and Mrs. Edward B. Kinney, 780 West End Avenue, New York 4

There are other questions and evidences to be considered. Abraham was a Manifestation of God and a descendant of Adam; likewise, Ishmael, Isaac, Jeremiah and the whole line of prophets including David, Solomon and Aaron were among His posterity. Were all these holy men condemned to a realm of punishment because of a deed committed by the first father, because of a mistake said to have been made by their mutual and remotest ancestor Adam? The explanation is made that when Christ came and sacrificed Himself, all the line of holy Prophets who preceded Him became free from sin and punishment. Even a child could not justly make such an assertion. These interpretations and statements are due to a misunderstanding of the meanings of the Bible.

In order to understand the reality of sacrifice let us consider the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ. It is true that He sacrificed Himself for our sake. What is the meaning of this? When Christ appeared, He knew that He must proclaim Himself in opposition to all the nations and peoples of the earth. He knew that mankind would arise against Him and inflict upon Him all manner of tribulations. There is no doubt that one who put forth such a claim as Christ announced would arouse the hostility of the world and be subjected to personal abuse. He realized that His blood would be shed and His body rent by violence. Notwithstanding His knowledge of what would befall Him, He arose to proclaim His message, suffered all tribulation and hardships from the people and finally offered His life as a sacrifice in order to illumine humanity—gave His blood in order to guide the world of mankind. He accepted every calamity and suffering in order to guide men to the truth. Had He desired to save His own life, and were He without wish to offer Himself in sacrifice, He would not have been able to guide a single soul. There was no doubt that His blessed blood would be shed and His body broken. Nevertheless, that Holy Soul accepted calamity and death in His love for mankind. This is one of the meanings of sacrifice.

As to the second meaning: He said, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven.” It was not the body of Christ which came from heaven. His body came from the womb of Mary, but the Christly perfections descended from heaven; the reality of Christ came down from heaven. The Spirit of Christ and not the body descended from heaven. The body of Christ was but human. There could be no question that the physical body was born from the womb of Mary. But the reality of Christ, the Spirit of Christ, the perfections of Christ all came from heaven. Consequently, by saying He was the bread which came from heaven He meant that the perfections which He showed forth were divine perfections, that the blessings within Him were heavenly gifts and bestowals, that His light was the light of Reality. He said, “If any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever.” That is to say, whosoever assimilates these divine perfections which are within me will never die; whosoever has a share and partakes of these heavenly bounties I embody will find eternal life; he who takes unto himself these divine lights shall find everlasting life. How manifest the meaning is! How evident! For the soul which acquires divine perfections and seeks heavenly illumination from the teachings of Christ will undoubtedly live eternally. This is also one of the mysteries of sacrifice.

In reality, Abraham sacrificed Himself, for He brought heavenly teachings to the world and conferred heavenly food upon mankind.

’Abdu’l-Bahá in America, 1912-2012: Calling America to Its Spiritual Destiny

Friends insisting that the Master would accept their gifts and offerings

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

November 30, 1912


  1. Menon, Jonathan. “The Progressives Collapse: 1917-1920.” 239 Days in America, 30 Nov. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/11/30/the-collapse-of-the-progressives-1917-1920/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 190.
  3. ’Abdu’l-Bahá, and Mirza Mahmud-i-Zarqani. Mahmúd’s Diary: The Diary of Mírzá Mahmúd-i-Zarqání Chronicling ’Abdu’l-Bahá’s Journey to America. Edited by Shirley Macias. Translated by Mohi Sobhani. Oxford: George Ronald, 1998. https://bahai-library.com/zarqani_mahmuds_diary&chapter=9#section252
  4. ʻAbduʼl-Bahá. The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by ʻAbduʼl-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912. Edited by Howard MacNutt. 2nd ed. Wilmette, Ill: Baháʼí Publishing Trust, 1982, 449-451. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/33#865612551

239 Days in America, Day 233: November 29, 1912 | New York

New York: The Melting Pot on the Hudson: 1912-2012 1

Just as ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had spoken of the need for an international council with a mandate for peace, an early version of it emerged, making an unlikely neighborhood in New York City its headquarters. In 1912, down 43rd Street in Turtle Bay, slaughterhouses, packing sheds, cattle pens, and noisy railroad piers lined the banks of the East River. By the 1920s fashionable townhouses had taken over, and a large communal garden ran through the backyards of the homes on 48th and 49th Streets. When the United Nations was formed after World War II, its Modernist headquarters rose in Turtle Bay between 1949 and 1952, replacing six blocks of slaughterhouses. Today, on clear mornings, the sunrise reincarnates itself in the UN Secretariat’s glass facing, bathing the passersby on the East River in a wash of gold.

“I am greatly pleased with the city of New York,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said on his first day in America, “Its harbor entrance, its piers, buildings and broad avenues are magnificent and beautiful.” But he had an admonition. “As New York has made such progress in material civilization, I hope that it may also advance spiritually. . . .” Spiritual civilization is not as easy to see as material. It requires perception and the ability to look beyond outward appearances, to the selfless acts of millions of people that are often forgotten by history.

But just as ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had stood up for women’s emancipation as he pulled into New York harbor, seated an African American lawyer at the head of his table in Washington, argued for peace to an arms dealer, spent the week with a former convict, wiped away the tears of a reverend, met with children, servants, students, government officials and crowds in the thousands, he expended his energy to the utmost, planting the seeds of what he called a spiritual civilization. “This timely seed,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá told an audience on April 12, “when planted in the hearts of the beloved of God, will be watered by showers of divine mercy and warmed by the sunshine of divine love. Its fruitage and flower shall be the solidarity of mankind, the perfection of justice and the praiseworthy attributes of heaven manifest in humanity.”

Final Days in America: New York City 2

On Friday, November 29, He moved to the Emery home. In an evening meeting at the Kinneys’, He spoke with the friends about their offers of money. He said, “‘Distribute it among the poor from Me. It will be as if I have given it to them. The most acceptable offering to Me is the unity among friends, service to the Cause of God, diffusing the Divine Fragrances, and acting upon the admonitions of the Beauty of Abhá.’”

Friday, November 29, 1912 3

At the request of Mrs Emery, the Master moved to her home. The time of His departure was drawing near. On reaching the house, He said, ‘Today I must rest for I am extremely tired.’ Nevertheless, the friends and seekers continued to come to visit Him at the homes of Mrs Emery and Mrs Kinney. One of His discourses today was this:

“One of the bounties of religion and faith is the attainment of peace of the heart and soul and the joy of spirit and conscience. This station can only be gained through faith and understanding. Peace of mind is the soul’s delight, as it is the means of acquiring that extraordinary state in which man finds happiness in times of affliction and tranquillity in trouble. In spite of poverty he acquires a sense of affluence and in a state of riches and power he offers help and protection to the weak because the well-assured soul is like a tree which has strong roots and is not shaken by any event. This cannot be attained except through complete faith and understanding. How many are the people who have all means of comfort, luxury, security and wealth and every means of enjoyment and good living, yet they have no peace of mind and are ever anxious and uneasy! If outwardly they are happy one day, they become depressed and anxious the next. If they find physical rest at one moment, they face suffering and misfortune the next, until the time comes to leave this world, then they will do so with utmost regret and distress.

“But those who have faith in God act according to the divine teachings; even though they need a little food to survive, they will pass their lives in the utmost happiness and joy. This is one of the bounties of religion; this is eternal happiness, life everlasting and real affluence. Without this all riches lead to woe and all power and strength are the cause of hardship and affliction. Therefore, offer praise unto God that you are endowed with this imperishable wealth and have attained this supreme blessing.”

Today some of the friends offered money to the Master but He would not accept it despite their pleading. Instead He told them, ‘Distribute it among the poor on my behalf. It will be as though I have given it to them. But the most acceptable gift to me is the unity of the believers, service to the Cause of God, diffusion of the divine fragrances and adherence to the counsels of the Abhá Beauty.’

The believers were saddened because He did not accept their gifts. However, since these were the last days of His visit and He was about to leave, the New York Bahá’ís collected several gifts for the women of the holy household and for the Greatest Holy Leaf.

Talk at Home of Mr. and Mrs. Edward B. Kinney, 780 West End Avenue, New York 4

This evening I wish to speak to you concerning the mystery of sacrifice. There are two kinds of sacrifice: the physical and the spiritual. The explanation made by the churches concerning this subject is, in reality, superstition. For instance, it is recorded in the Gospel that Christ said, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever.” He also said, “This [wine] is my blood … which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” These verses have been interpreted by the churches in such a superstitious way that it is impossible for human reason to understand or accept the explanation.

They say that Adam disobeyed the command of God and partook of the fruit of the forbidden tree, thereby committing a sin which was transmitted as a heritage to His posterity. They teach that because of Adam’s sin all His descendants have, likewise, committed transgression and have become responsible through inheritance; that, consequently, all mankind deserves punishment and must make retribution; and that God sent forth His Son as a sacrifice in order that man might be forgiven and the human race delivered from the consequences of Adam’s transgression.

We wish to consider these statements from the standpoint of reason. Could we conceive of the Divinity, Who is Justice itself, inflicting punishment upon the posterity of Adam for Adam’s own sin and disobedience? Even if we should see a governor, an earthly ruler punishing a son for the wrongdoing of his father, we would look upon that ruler as an unjust man. Granted the father committed a wrong, what was the wrong committed by the son? There is no connection between the two. Adam’s sin was not the sin of His posterity, especially as Adam is a thousand generations back of the man today. If the father of a thousand generations committed a sin, is it just to demand that the present generation should suffer the consequences thereof?

’Abdu’l-Bahá in America, 1912-2012: Calling America to Its Spiritual Destiny

‘Abdu’l-Bahá accepted an invitation to stay at the home of a believer

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

November 29, 1912


  1. Jones, Caitlin Shayda. “New York: The Melting Pot on the Hudson: 1912-2012.” 239 Days in America, 29 Nov. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/11/29/new-york-the-melting-pot-on-the-hudson/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 189-190.
  3. ’Abdu’l-Bahá, and Mirza Mahmud-i-Zarqani. Mahmúd’s Diary: The Diary of Mírzá Mahmúd-i-Zarqání Chronicling ’Abdu’l-Bahá’s Journey to America. Edited by Shirley Macias. Translated by Mohi Sobhani. Oxford: George Ronald, 1998. https://bahai-library.com/zarqani_mahmuds_diary&chapter=9#section251
  4. ʻAbduʼl-Bahá. The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by ʻAbduʼl-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912. Edited by Howard MacNutt. 2nd ed. Wilmette, Ill: Baháʼí Publishing Trust, 1982, 449. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/33#112906790

239 Days in America, Day 232: November 28, 1912 | New York

A Nation Shaped by Sacrifice 1

“NO AFFAIR IN THE world succeeds without sacrifice,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá told a gathering on December 1, 1912, in New York’s Upper West Side, while explaining the role America must play in leading the world to peace. Sacrifice was a theme he returned to often during his final days in America, telling the American people that they would be called upon to make great sacrifices in the upcoming decades. …

“Observe how rarely human souls sacrifice their pleasure or comfort for others,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá told an overflowing lecture hall at Green Acre in Eliot, Maine, on the evening of August 16. At Coronation Hall in Montreal, Canada, on September 5, he noted “how the greatest men in the world — whether among prophets or philosophers — all have forfeited their own comfort, have sacrificed their own pleasure for the well-being of humanity. They have sacrificed their own lives for the body politic. They have sacrificed their own wealth for that of the general welfare. They have forfeited their own honor for the honor of mankind.” …

On the evening of November 29, 1912, at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Kinney in New York, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá discussed the meaning of Jesus Christ giving his life for humanity. “There is no doubt,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said, “that one who put forth such a claim as Christ announced would arouse the hostility of the world and be subjected to personal abuse.” But without having accepted that, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá told his audience, Jesus “would not have been able to guide a single soul.”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá then explained that human development consists in sacrificing of one’s lower nature in order to acquire the characteristic of our higher nature. “Man must sever himself from the influences of the world of matter, from the world of nature and its laws,” he explained, defining this natural state as one of “ambition and avarice, of self-worship, egotism and passion.” In becoming fully human, he said, the individual “sacrifices the imperfections of nature for the sake of divine perfections,” — perfections which include characteristics such as justice, love, compassion, and generosity.

In a nation with a legacy of sacrifice, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá reminded Americans it was still needed. He challenged them to see that their greatest sacrifices lay ahead.

Final Days in America: New York City 2

On November 28, Thanksgiving Day, Mahmúd commented:

“During these last days of His stay in America, there was always an influx of friends in His Presence. They came to offer supplications, to turn to the eternal Face, to look upon the Dawning Place of the Divine Covenant, and to cling to His Mantle of Favor. Every moment the cries of the lovers increased and the fire of love in the breasts glowed more. There was not a moment’s rest for the Holy Being. He was either delivering an address to a public meeting or talking to a friend in His private chamber. The Holy Tongue was imparting joy to the sad, hope to the hopeless, and a flame to the dormant while He guided strugglers to the Right Path.”

Thursday, November 28, 1912 3

Several friends came at dawn to the Master’s residence, begging admission into His presence and saying that watching Him at prayer would be its own spiritual lesson. We were astounded to see how eager they were, proof that the power of the Word of God has dispelled old habits and opened the gates of bounty such that at so an early hour these souls had taken leave of their comfortable beds and sought refuge at the majestic gate of the Center of the Covenant.

These were the last few remaining days of the Master’s sojourn in America as He planned to leave for England soon. At dawn and in the evening a stream of believers and prominent people, in a spiritual and prayerful attitude, came into His presence. They came to offer supplications, to turn to the Eternal Face, to look upon the Dawning Place of the Divine Covenant and to cling to the mantle of His grace and favor. At every moment the cries and ardor of His lovers increased and the fire of love in their breasts glowed more fiercely. There was not a moment’s rest day or night for the Master. He was either delivering addresses at various public and private gatherings or talking to a friend in His private room. He gave joy to every sad one, hope to the hopeless and was a flame of fire to the heedless while guiding those who strive onto the right path.

Today the Master’s public address concerned the spiritual capacity of the Americans. He said:

“Although they are engrossed in material civilization and physical pursuits, still, unlike people in some European countries, they are not wholly devoid of spiritual susceptibilities. They are seekers and desire to investigate reality. They wish for peace and tranquillity and they desire fellowship and love among humanity.”

In the evening He expressed His happiness at the spirituality and services of the friends in their efforts to diffuse the fragrances of God.

23 November 1912, Talk at Banquet, Great Northern Hotel, 118 West Fifty-seventh Street, New York 4

This meeting of yours … promotes love and fraternity among all humankind, seeks to abolish and destroy barriers which separate the human family, proclaims the equality of man and woman, instills divine precepts and morals, illumines and quickens minds with heavenly perception, attracts the infinite bestowals of God, removes racial, national and religious prejudices and establishes the foundation of the heavenly Kingdom in the hearts of all nations and peoples.

’Abdu’l-Bahá in America, 1912-2012: Calling America to Its Spiritual Destiny

Friends wishing to be with the Master at dawn

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

November 28, 1912


  1. Sockett, Robert. “A Nation Shaped by Sacrifice.” 239 Days in America, 28 Nov. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/11/28/a-nation-shaped-by-sacrifice/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 189.
  3. ’Abdu’l-Bahá, and Mirza Mahmud-i-Zarqani. Mahmúd’s Diary: The Diary of Mírzá Mahmúd-i-Zarqání Chronicling ’Abdu’l-Bahá’s Journey to America. Edited by Shirley Macias. Translated by Mohi Sobhani. Oxford: George Ronald, 1998. https://bahai-library.com/zarqani_mahmuds_diary&chapter=9#section250
  4. ʻAbduʼl-Bahá. The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by ʻAbduʼl-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912. Edited by Howard MacNutt. 2nd ed. Wilmette, Ill: Baháʼí Publishing Trust, 1982, 447. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/32#955162073

239 Days in America, Day 231: November 27, 1912 | New York

‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Program for a Durable Peace: 1919 1

“PEACE, PEACE, THE LIPS of potentates and peoples unceasingly proclaim,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was heard to say in the months following the First World War, “whereas the fire of unquenched hatreds still smoulders in their hearts.”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá began to advise Americans against putting too much faith in the outcome of the Paris Peace Conference before it had even begun. “Although the representatives of various governments are assembled in Paris in order to lay the foundations of Universal Peace,” he wrote to a friend in Portland, Oregon, on January 10, 1919, two days before the conference convened, “yet misunderstanding . . . is still predominant and self-interest still prevails. In such an atmosphere, Universal Peace will not be practicable, nay rather, fresh difficulties will arise.”

He argued the same point in a long letter to the Central Organization for a Durable Peace, a commission set up in 1915 at The Hague to plan for an eventual postwar reconciliation. Fannie Fern Andrews, one of the American members of the commission, explained its purpose in front of the American Academy of Political and Social Science in 1916. “When the representatives of the states come together in the midst of the wreck and desolation left by the war, their task will be almost overwhelming,” she said. “The fundamental basis of the new world order which must come after the present war must be laid today.” The Organization asked ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to present his proposals for global peace in February, 1916, but he was cut off behind enemy lines and didn’t receive the letter until after the war ended.

The central message of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s letter, which he sent to The Hague from Haifa on December 17, 1919, was that achieving universal peace required a more comprehensive approach than customary international diplomacy would permit. “If the question is restricted to Universal Peace alone the remarkable results which are expected and desired will not be attained,” he wrote. “The scope of Universal Peace must be such that all the communities and religions may find their highest wish realized in it.”

Peace, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá argued, required a massive social transformation of the depth and scope that his father, Bahá’u’lláh, had proposed: the consciousness of the whole human race being a single people; the central motivating role of non-dogmatic, reasonable religious belief; deliberately weeding out religious, racial, class, partisan, and nationalistic prejudices; complete equality between the sexes; universal education for children; the conviction that the whole surface of the earth is one native land. National boundaries, he argued, are imaginary lines that emerged during the early history of civilization to serve the selfish interests of a few individuals, and these in turn led to “intense enmity, bloodshed and rapacity in subsequent centuries.” “In the same way,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá emphasized, “this will continue indefinitely, and if this conception of patriotism remains limited within a certain circle, it will be the primary cause of the world’s destruction.”

Final Days in America: New York City 2

On Wednesday, November 27, during His [Abdu’l-Bahá ] discourses throughout the day, He told His listeners at one point, “‘Their [Manifestations’] only motive was the education of blessed souls and sanctified spirits who became the teachers of the divine education and the promoters of the Great Guidance and the Supreme Favor. The people of Bahá must endeavor day and night to enforce this noble purpose. They must put forth their energy to educate themselves and other sanctified souls.’”

Wednesday, November 27, 1912 3

In the morning the Master gave several talks to the Bahá’ís, one of which was the following:

“The purpose of the divine Manifestations has been the education of holy souls. Some have imagined that their purpose was to found temples and churches or to establish a new nation or to gain personal fame and that for these considerations they accepted severe degradation and became targets for the arrow of fate. These are idle fancies because those holy Beings knew well that the dominion of God existed when there was no trace of them and that it shall continue to exist when no trace of them remains. Thus fame or oblivion, honor or degradation are one and the same to those Gems of existence. Indeed, their ultimate desire is selfless devotion to the one true God and absolute nothingness in His court. Their only motive has been the education of blessed souls and sanctified beings who are the foundation of divine education and promoters of the most great guidance and the supreme favor.

“The people of Bahá must endeavor day and night to promulgate this lofty purpose. They must endeavor and strive strenuously to educate themselves and other sanctified souls. They must awaken the peoples and nations of the world and free them from dogmas and imitations. They must pass beyond the world of names and fix their gaze on realities and inner meanings.”

At the end of the meeting some friends gave Him written petitions asking for spiritual assistance. He said, ‘We have received so many letters that there is no time to read them; how, then, is it possible to answer them?’

In the afternoon again the friends and seekers arrived in groups. The Master’s talk mainly concerned the need for both a spiritual and a material civilization. ‘The coming of age and maturity of man’, He said, ‘will appear when these two civilizations become entwined.’

The Master spoke to a leader of the socialists on economic issues, the brotherhood of humanity and the Bahá’í teachings. The man was overwhelmed to hear such solutions to questions upon which the well-being of the world depend.

The Master spoke to a group of women about education, training, virtues and the rights of women. In brief, every day and night, to a greater and greater extent, the faces shone with the fire of the love of God and the souls beamed with the radiance of the beauty of the Beloved.

23 November 1912, Talk at Banquet, Great Northern Hotel, 118 West Fifty-seventh Street, New York 4

This meeting of yours tonight is very different in character. It is a universal gathering; it is heavenly and divine in purpose because it serves the oneness of the world of humanity and promotes international peace. It is devoted to the solidarity and brotherhood of the human race, the spiritual welfare of mankind, unity of religious belief through knowledge of God and the reconciliation of religious teaching with the principles of science and reason.

’Abdu’l-Bahá in America, 1912-2012: Calling America to Its Spiritual Destiny

“The purpose of the divine Manifestations has been the education of holy souls.”

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

November 27, 1912


  1. Menon, Jonathan. “‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Program for a Durable Peace: 1919.” 239 Days in America, 27 Nov. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/11/27/abdul-bahas-program-for-a-durable-peace-1919/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 189.
  3. ’Abdu’l-Bahá, and Mirza Mahmud-i-Zarqani. Mahmúd’s Diary: The Diary of Mírzá Mahmúd-i-Zarqání Chronicling ’Abdu’l-Bahá’s Journey to America. Edited by Shirley Macias. Translated by Mohi Sobhani. Oxford: George Ronald, 1998. https://bahai-library.com/zarqani_mahmuds_diary&chapter=9#section249
  4. ʻAbduʼl-Bahá. The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by ʻAbduʼl-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912. Edited by Howard MacNutt. 2nd ed. Wilmette, Ill: Baháʼí Publishing Trust, 1982, 447. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/32#955162073

239 Days in America, Day 230: November 26, 1912 | New York

“We Want a Wilson Peace”: 1919-2012 1

ONE MONTH AFTER THE war ended, the USS George Washington, escorted by a flotilla of ten American battleships and twenty-eight destroyers, approached the coast of Brittany in northwestern France. It carried the American delegation to the Paris Peace Conference led by President Woodrow Wilson. …

The meeting in Paris, which ran from January to June, 1919, appeared to be very much like the global conference ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, following his father’s lead, had argued for almost forty-five years earlier. In 1875, shortly after the end of the Franco-Prussian War, which had slaughtered 600,000 men and led directly to the World War, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá castigated the European states who had permitted such a catastrophe to break out on their so-called civilized continent. “Is it right and proper that peoples among whom, diametrically opposed to the most desirable human behavior, such horrors take place, should dare lay claim to a real and adequate civilization?” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá asked. “No, by the Lord God! Even a child can see the evil of it.”

“True civilization will unfurl its banner in the midmost heart of the world,” he wrote in The Secret of Divine Civilization, “whenever a certain number of its distinguished and high-minded sovereigns — the shining exemplars of devotion and determination — shall, for the good and happiness of all mankind, arise, with firm resolve and clear vision, to establish the Cause of Universal Peace. They must make the Cause of Peace the object of general consultation, and seek by every means in their power to establish a Union of the nations of the world.” …

The core of Woodrow Wilson’s peace proposal seemed to be just that: a new, permanent international governance organization called the “League of Nations.”…

In the end, even the watered-down League of Nations — no coercive power, its hands tied by the requirement of unanimous agreement — could not pass the Republican-controlled United States Senate. …

The legacy of the Paris Peace Conference, both the triumphant and the tragic, continues to this day.

Final Days in America: New York City 2

On November 26 the New York Tribune reported:

“Mrs. Mary Stokes MacNutt, President of Minerva, and Mr. MacNutt were a happy pair yesterday, for they got Abdul Baha, of Persia, to speak at the club’s annual luncheon at the Waldorf-Astoria.

“… he came … looking as if he had on the same white turban and the same long gown that he wore when he landed here from Persia last April. His face was just as peaceful as it was then, too … and he didn’t seem the least but touched by his seven months in America. …”

Tuesday, November 26, 1912 3

In the morning, after revealing Tablets and granting interviews, the Master joined the gathering of the friends with these words:

“I always derive great pleasure from being with you. I shall always remember these gatherings. I shall never forget them. If I cannot see each one of you individually every day that should not undermine our real love. See how much work I have to do! It is more than a week since I received this letter from my sister, the Greatest Holy Leaf [Bahíyyih Khánum], and other members of the household, but I have not had the opportunity to open it yet. I was looking for another letter when I came upon this unopened letter. Then I heard that you were waiting here and I came downstairs to see you because I have no time to see you individually. In spite of this, if anyone has an urgent matter I will see them privately, even if only for a few minutes. Had I time I would always be with you. My happiness lies in seeing you, for in your faces are apparent the glad tidings of the Abhá Kingdom and in your hearts heavenly love and attraction. If outwardly we fail to meet, it does not weaken our real love. God willing, you shall all be assisted and immersed in the sea of bounty and the favor of Bahá’u’lláh.”

In the afternoon at a meeting of the friends, the Master turned towards Mrs [Grace] Krug and said:

“A believer in Bahá’u’lláh is he who is firm in the Covenant. He who is firm in the divine Covenant is a believer, a servant of the believers, a seeker of Bahá’í harmony and unity and a promoter of fellowship and amity among the friends of God. Is it possible that one can accept a book and refuse to accept him who teaches it? Is it possible to accept the sun and to reject its rays? He who rejects the rays is a rejector of the sun, too.

“Furthermore, many say, ‘We have no need of divine Manifestations; we ourselves have direct communication with God.’ They do not know that the divine Manifestations are the bright rays of the Sun of Truth and a means of educating the realities of man. Therefore, he who rejects the bounty of the Sun of Truth and thinks himself not in need of it is like the one who says he is not in need of God and rejects both God and reality, in spite of the fact that all creation is receiving incessant bounty from God and is dependent on Him, as the body is dependent upon the soul.”

In the evening the Master spoke to the gathering on man’s ability to understand the reality of certain things using his intelligence because man’s intelligence is the discoverer of reality. For instance, through the process of reasoning, intelligence can comprehend the existence of God and understand that this magnificent universe cannot exist without a Creator. These works are not without a Maker and this garden of creation cannot exist without a Gardener.

23 November 1912, Talk at Banquet, Great Northern Hotel, 118 West Fifty-seventh Street, New York 4

The effect of such an assembly as this is conducive to divine fellowship and strengthening of the bond which cements and unifies hearts. This is the indestructible bond of spirit which conjoins the East and West. By it the very foundations of race prejudice are uprooted and destroyed, the banner of spiritual democracy is hoisted aloft, the world of religion is purified from superannuated beliefs and hereditary imitations of forms, and the oneness of the reality underlying all religions is revealed and disclosed.

’Abdu’l-Bahá in America, 1912-2012: Calling America to Its Spiritual Destiny

“My happiness lies in seeing you, for in your faces are apparent the glad tidings of the Abha Kingdom …”

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

November 26, 1912


  1. Menon, Jonathan. “‘We Want a Wilson Peace’: 1919-2012.” 239 Days in America, 26 Nov. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/11/26/we-want-a-wilson-peace-1919-2012/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 188-189.
  3. ’Abdu’l-Bahá, and Mirza Mahmud-i-Zarqani. Mahmúd’s Diary: The Diary of Mírzá Mahmúd-i-Zarqání Chronicling ’Abdu’l-Bahá’s Journey to America. Edited by Shirley Macias. Translated by Mohi Sobhani. Oxford: George Ronald, 1998. https://bahai-library.com/zarqani_mahmuds_diary&chapter=9#section248
  4. ʻAbduʼl-Bahá. The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by ʻAbduʼl-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912. Edited by Howard MacNutt. 2nd ed. Wilmette, Ill: Baháʼí Publishing Trust, 1982, 447-448. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/32#955162073

239 Days in America, Day 229: November 25, 1912 | New York

November 25, 1912: The Week Ahead 1

TODAY ‘ABDU’L-BAHÁ IS the guest of the Minerva Club, a women’s club in New York, where he is speaking on sex equality at their annual luncheon at the Waldorf Astoria. Wherever he has gone in America during the last seven months, he says, everything is always “hurry, hurry, hurry.”

“‘He made a great hit with the assembled Minervas,’” the New York Tribune reports, “because he called them ‘a radiant faced assemblage,’ and told them that women were fully the equal of men where they weren’t men’s superiors.”

“The only real difference between men and women,’ he said, ‘is that men’s faces are covered with disagreeable growths of hair, while women’s faces are clean and decent.’”

“‘And even that is true now only in Oriental countries, for I perceive that here in America gentlemen are doing away with that difference by shaving.’ Here the white haired sage let his blue eyes twinkle a little, just to show that a seer could crack a joke,” the reporter wrote.

The coming week will be ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s last full week in America. We will continue to look ahead to the future, the end of the Great War, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s program for global collective security, how the Progressive Era ends in a disappointing “return to normalcy” after the war, and we follow the places ‘Abdu’l-Bahá visited in New York as they grow and change through the twentieth century.

Final Days in America: New York City 2

On November 25 the crowds kept coming to see Him [‘Abdu’l-Bahá]. Mahmúd noted, “As the multitude grew He could not conveniently see them individually so He came down stairs to apologize for not being able to see them.”

Monday, November 25, 1912 3

Some of the friends came to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s residence early this morning, asking that they be admitted into His presence during His prayers so they could be blessed and their souls cleansed. As soon as they reached Him they fell into transports of joy, awe-struck at the august spirit of that moment.

Later a Christian minister came into His presence in the utmost humility and, weeping, held the Master’s ‘abá in his hands and begged that his wife and children be healed. The Master showered him with kindness, consoled him and prayed for him. Although the minister was not a Bahá’í, he showed the reverence and respect to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá that is usually reserved for Christ.

The Master’s fame, grandeur and holiness has spread so far that in every city of the United States of America prominent people become in His presence like humble servants, while knowledgeable and well-known scholars refer to Him as the Prophet of the East and the Messenger of Peace, even though He has always forbidden the use of such terms for Himself in writing or speech. He always explains to them His servitude to the Threshold of the Abhá Beauty.

As the multitude grew, and the Master could not easily see everyone individually, He went downstairs to apologize for not being able to see them owing to the volume of His work, His preoccupation with other matters and His fatigue and frailty. He prayed for all and inspired and encouraged the friends to put all their energy into propagating and spreading the fragrances of God.

In the afternoon, the Master was invited to two meetings. The first was at the Women’s Club of New York where He spoke on the education of women, their acquisition of good morals and the equality of their rights. The audience was interested and excited and everyone came to shake His hand, begging confirmation that they might better serve and acquire human perfections.

The Master then went to Mrs [Aso-Neith] Cochran‘s home where most of the visitors were newcomers who had not previously been in ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s presence. He appealed to them to abandon harmful prejudices and to acquire heavenly virtues and eternal perfections through spiritual power. The address appeared to breathe a new spirit into all those present. 4

23 November 1912, Talk at Banquet, Great Northern Hotel, 118 West Fifty-seventh Street, New York 5

For such a meeting is established upon the very foundation of the laws of God. Therefore, in its constraining spiritual bond it unites all religions and reconciles all sects, denominations and factions in kindliness and love toward each other. In this way and by the instrumentality of such a gathering the causes of animosity, hatred and bigotry are removed, and enmity and discord pass away entirely. Every limiting and restricting movement or meeting of mere personal interest is human in nature. Every universal movement unlimited in scope and purpose is divine. The Cause of God is advanced whenever and wherever a universal meeting is established among mankind.

’Abdu’l-Bahá in America, 1912-2012: Calling America to Its Spiritual Destiny

Being in the presence of the Master early morning when He prays

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

November 25, 1912


  1. Menon, Jonathan. “November 25, 1912: The Week Ahead.” 239 Days in America, 25 Nov. 2012, http://stagingtwo39.wpengine.com/2012/11/25/november-25-1912-the-week-ahead/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 188.
  3. ’Abdu’l-Bahá, and Mirza Mahmud-i-Zarqani. Mahmúd’s Diary: The Diary of Mírzá Mahmúd-i-Zarqání Chronicling ’Abdu’l-Bahá’s Journey to America. Edited by Shirley Macias. Translated by Mohi Sobhani. Oxford: George Ronald, 1998. https://bahai-library.com/zarqani_mahmuds_diary&chapter=9#section247
  4. [380] For another account of the events of November 25, 1912, see Diary of Juliet Thompson, pp. 376-80.
  5. ʻAbduʼl-Bahá. The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by ʻAbduʼl-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912. Edited by Howard MacNutt. 2nd ed. Wilmette, Ill: Baháʼí Publishing Trust, 1982, 448. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/32#955162073

239 Days in America, Day 228: November 24, 1912 | New York

The Militarization of Progressive America 1

‘Abdu’l-Bahá had praised the American government for being free of the militaristic obsessions of the European powers. He had proposed to the nation a higher spiritual calling – that it use its unique position in the world to lead the nations towards lasting peace. President Wilson tried. He encouraged the warring nations of Europe to negotiate a ceasefire, and offered to mediate peace talks. The war, he believed, directly contradicted every ideal of Progressivism. “Every reform we have won,” he declared, “will be lost if we go into this war.” And so he did everything possible to keep America out. …

The nation that had been praised by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá for its liberty and optimism only five years earlier, whose buoyant energy he said was epitomized by its favorite statement — “All right! All right!” — was suddenly fixated on conflict and engulfed in fear. President Wilson’s great dread, that the war would brutalize human nature, was becoming a reality both at home and abroad.

Final Days in America: New York City 2

The New York Tribune, on November 24, in an article headed “ABDUL BAHA GOING AWAY,” noted:

“Abdul Baha, Abbas Effendi, the Persian prophet and center of the Bahai movement, received assurances of unswerving loyalty last night from members of the Bahai assembly of New York City, who gathered at a farewell dinner in his honor at the Great Northern Hotel, The Oriental savant is to leave this country this week, presumably on the steamship Mauretania, though none of his followers would venture to make a definite date as Abdul Baha, they said, made his plans from day to day.

“The hour of the farewell dinner was unusually late. At precisely 9:40 o’clock Abdul Baha appeared, a venerable figure, with a long gray beard and a Persian cloak and white turban walking slowly to his place of honor.

“… He was received with a silent greeting by the three hundred members of the assembly who rose at his approach.”

Sunday, November 24, 1912 3

A gathering of black Bahá’ís was held at the home of Mrs Kinney. They had been invited by the New York Bahá’ís to attend the banquet of the Covenant but when the proprietor of the hotel heard about it, he was not pleased. The more the friends endeavored to persuade him, the more vehement was his refusal. He said, ‘If the people see that one colored person has entered my hotel, no respectable person will ever set foot in it and my business will go to the winds.’ Such is the depth of prejudice between blacks and whites. Since it was impossible to invite the black Bahá’ís to the banquet, the friends arranged today’s feast for their black brothers. Many white women came forward to serve their black guests, showering them with love. The Master approved of this meeting very much and He said:

“Today you have carried out the laws of the Blessed Beauty and have truly acted according to the teachings of the Supreme Pen. Behold what an influence and effect the words of Bahá’u’lláh have had upon the hearts, that hating and shunning have been forgotten and that prejudices have been obliterated to such an extent that you arose to serve one another with great sincerity.”

The Master’s words made a great impression. The meeting embodied the grandeur of the Covenant and demonstrated the power and influence of the Cause in uniting, in sincerity and love, two races of humanity.

In the afternoon the children who had earlier seen the Master on the way from school, had been so attracted and had asked to see Him, came to visit Him. He spoke to them with deep affection and kindness, asking about their health and welfare. To each He gave candies and flowers and then sprinkled them with attar of rose. He then gave them kindly counsels and encouraged them to acquire knowledge, science, good morals and sincerity, saying:

“I hope that you will be educated as you ought to be and that each of you will become the pride of your family. May God assist you to acquire divine knowledge in the school of the world of humanity. I shall pray for you and beg assistance for you. Truly, the hearts of the children are very pure. This was why Christ said, ‘Be ye like children.’ Praise be to God who created you illumined children. Praise be to the Lord who hath created His creatures perfectly. God has created you as human beings so that you may daily acquire better morals and human virtues. You must obey your parents so that they may be pleased with you, and so that God will be pleased with you, and that you may become the children of the Kingdom and mirror forth the words of Christ.”

Although these young visitors were children, they took their leave in an attitude of sincerity, reverence and attraction that astonished all.

This evening ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spoke at a public meeting of the friends on the underlying unity of creation and the oneness of humanity. His sweet words and explanations attracted the hearts and souls, as in other meetings, leaving them much attached to the Center of the Covenant.

23 November 1912, Talk at Banquet, Great Northern Hotel, 118 West Fifty-seventh Street, New York 4

Therefore, endeavor that your attitudes and intentions here tonight be universal and altruistic in nature. Consecrate and devote yourselves to the betterment and service of all the human race. Let no barrier of ill feeling or personal prejudice exist between these souls, for when your motives are universal and your intentions heavenly in character, when your aspirations are centered in the Kingdom, there is no doubt whatever that you will become the recipients of the bounty and good pleasure of God.

’Abdu’l-Bahá in America, 1912-2012: Calling America to Its Spiritual Destiny

Special meeting for black Bahá’ís at Kinney’s – unable to attend the banquet due to hotel restrictions

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

November 24, 1912


  1. Sockett, Robert. “The Militarization of Progressive America.” 239 Days in America, 24 Nov. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/11/24/the-militarization-of-progressive-america/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 188.
  3. ’Abdu’l-Bahá, and Mirza Mahmud-i-Zarqani. Mahmúd’s Diary: The Diary of Mírzá Mahmúd-i-Zarqání Chronicling ’Abdu’l-Bahá’s Journey to America. Edited by Shirley Macias. Translated by Mohi Sobhani. Oxford: George Ronald, 1998. https://bahai-library.com/zarqani_mahmuds_diary&chapter=9#section246
  4. ʻAbduʼl-Bahá. The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by ʻAbduʼl-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912. Edited by Howard MacNutt. 2nd ed. Wilmette, Ill: Baháʼí Publishing Trust, 1982, 448. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/32#812684147