Europe “One Vast Arsenal,” Says ‘Abdu’l-Bahá 1
FOUR IRANIAN MEN STOOD watching the mighty waters fall, and marveled at the greatness of America. It was Tuesday, September 10, 1912. “The great river feeding the falls,” one of them, Mahmúd-i-Zarqání, wrote, “is flanked on both sides by lakes, fields, mountains and woods. At some places the river falls from a height of a hundred meters. Because of the height of the falls and the crash of the water, small droplets of water form sprays which appear like a great sand storm.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Mahmúd-i-Zarqání, Dr. Ameen Fareed, and Ahmad Sohrab had arrived in Buffalo by train from Montreal at about 11 p.m. the night before, and had taken up residence in suites 118 and 120, on the third floor of the Iroquois Hotel. In the afternoon, after ‘Abdu’l-Bahá gave interviews to the press in his suite, the four men each paid a streetcar fare of fifty cents for the hour-long ride to Niagara Falls.
From a perch engulfed in mist, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and his secretaries watched the Niagara River thunder over the cliffs into the basin below. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá gazed into the roaring waters for more than half an hour. Ahmad Sohrab wrote that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá found the sight “unsurpassed in beauty and unique in awe inspiring charm.” For a time he sat on the bank of the river eating some grapes and pears. Ahmad Sohrab took the opportunity to write postcards to friends across America, and then the party returned to Buffalo by 8 p.m. After resting in his room for thirty minutes, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá then came downstairs and spoke to a group of about seventy people in the hotel’s ballroom. …
Buffalo, Chicago, Kenosha 2
On Thursday ‘Abdu’l-Bahá called the Persians together before dawn to pack, and they left for the train station. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá left a tip with the manager for the bellboy who had served them previously. But to the taxi driver who wanted additional fare for driving Him to the station ‘Abdu’l-Bahá paid no attention. He told the friends, “‘A man may give $1,000 without minding it, but he should not yield even a dollar to the person who wishes to take it wrongfully, for such wrongful behavior is against justice. …’” His departing train sped past Niagara Falls and across the fields and valleys of the Midwest, until at 8:00 P.M. the lights of Chicago appeared. it was September 12.
The Chicago Record-Herald announced ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s return, saying that He “will hold a series of meetings” and that “He is a guest at the home of Mrs. Corinne True of 5338 Kenmore avenue and is accompanied by a Persian secretary, an interpreter and two servants.” A large group of demonstrative friends met Him at the train and He drove to Mrs. True’s home, where a crowd awaited Him.
The Independent magazine for September 12 contained a feature entitled, “America and World Peace,” 3 with the author listed as Abdul Baha Abbas. It opened with an editorial note and continued with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s responses to questions put to Him during an interview in New York on July 19. …
Thursday, September 12, 1912 4
‘Abdu’l-Bahá called us before dawn. He had already packed and readied His bags. We packed our belongings in readiness for our departure. Because the chambermaid for His room was not there, He left a dollar for her with the hotel manager. When He reached the railway station, the driver wanted more money than the usual fare. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá paid no heed to him, saying, ‘A man may give $1,000 without minding it but he should not yield even a dollar to the person who wishes to take it wrongfully, for such wrongful behavior flouts justice and disrupts the order of the world.’
As articles from the Buffalo newspapers were being translated for ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in the train, He again offered thanks for the assistance and protection from the Abhá Kingdom. He said:
“The confirmation and assistance of the Abhá Kingdom are more manifest than the sun. No eye or ear has seen or heard of such confirmations. Christ went into the Temple of the Jews where He spoke on the teachings of the Torah prohibiting buying and selling in the house of God. Up to the present time Christians glory in this and rejoice over it. But today through the assistance of the Abhá Beauty the Cause of God is proclaimed with the utmost openness in the churches and assemblies of the West.”
The train passed by Niagara Falls. Beautiful villages and factories nestled in green fields and wooded mountain valleys came into view. As midday approached, and as the number of passengers increased at every station, the heat grew more and more intense, causing ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to become tired and weary. He commented that, ‘The friends in America expect me to visit each city. How would this be possible? It is impossible to sit in a train every day from morning until afternoon; the body cannot stand it.’
Today the train traveled through several states. At 8:00 p.m. the lights from Chicago appeared in the distance like brilliant stars and the train pulled into the station.
The Master waited until all the passengers had left the train and then He slowly disembarked. The spacious train station was crowded with His friends. As soon as His feet touched the ground their hearts were stirred. One person hurried forward to shake His hand; another ran to kiss the hem of His robe; another held a bouquet of flowers to present to Him; and yet another raised his voice in praise and gratitude on attaining the bounty of meeting Him. It was an impressive sight, a field of yearning lovers canopied by heavens resounding with songs of joy. The friends formed two lines and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá walked majestically between them showering His blessings on each one. He then went by automobile to the home of Mrs True, the maidservant of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár. There one of the Japanese friends bowed at His feet and received His blessings.
After a brief rest, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá appeared before the gathering. His eyes fell on Mr [Saichiro] Fujita, the Japanese gentleman. He remarked:
“So, how is our Japanese Effendi? Recently the government of Japan has undergone a change. A new emperor has come to the throne. The sovereignty of the former Mikado has come to an end; all the hue and cry have ceased, a handful of dust was thrown over him and covered all his imperial regalia. Such was the kingdom of the Mikado. The same is true of all the other kings.
“But as you are a believer in God, you have a kingdom which will never collapse and will be everlasting. Offer thanks to God, Who has bestowed upon you such a kingdom, greater than that of the Mikado. The first Bonaparte was a famous man and a great general who conquered most of the countries of Europe and became the emperor of France. The whole of Europe trembled before his command. The star of his prosperity set and it shall never rise again. At last a trifling incident obliterated his dominion and he became a prisoner in a state of extreme hardship in St Helena where he lamented until his death. One day as he was talking with his generals, they said that Christ, too, was a wise man like Napoleon. He replied, ‘No, you are mistaken. There is a vast difference between Him and me.’
“The sovereignty of Napoleon ceased as soon as he died but the Kingdom of Christ is eternal. The former established his mortal kingdom with bloodshed and the sword while Christ established the Kingdom of God with the life-giving breaths of the Holy Spirit. Napoleon established his kingdom through the power of oppression while Christ established His through the power of the love of God. A hundred thousand Napoleons may be effaced but the Kingdom of Christ will remain forever. Such is the Kingdom of God.”
5 September 1912, Talk at St. James Methodist Church, Montreal, Canada 5
… In order that human souls, minds and spirits may attain advancement, tranquillity and vision in broader horizons of unity and knowledge, Bahá’u’lláh proclaimed certain principles or teachings, some of which I will mention.
First, man must independently investigate reality …
Second, the oneness of the world of humanity shall be realized, accepted and established. …
Third, religion must be the mainspring and source of love in the world …
Fourth, religion must reconcile and be in harmony with science and reason. …
Fifth, prejudice … is the destroyer of human foundations and opposed to the commands of God. …
Sixth, the world of humanity is in need of the confirmations of the Holy Spirit. …
Seventh, the necessity of education for all mankind is evident. …
Eighth, universal peace will be established among the nations of the world by international agreement. The greatest catastrophe in the world of humanity today is war. Europe is a storehouse of explosives awaiting a spark. All the European nations are on edge, and a single flame will set on fire the whole of that continent. Implements of war and death are multiplied and increased to an inconceivable degree, and the burden of military maintenance is taxing the various countries beyond the point of endurance. Armies and navies devour the substance and possessions of the people; the toiling poor, the innocent and helpless are forced by taxation to provide munitions and armament for governments bent upon conquest of territory and defense against powerful rival nations. There is no greater or more woeful ordeal in the world of humanity today than impending war. Therefore, international peace is a crucial necessity. An arbitral court of justice shall be established by which international disputes are to be settled. Through this means all possibility of discord and war between the nations will be obviated.
’Abdu’l-Bahá in America, 1912-2012: Calling America to It’s Spiritual Destiny
Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America
Curated by Anne Perry
- Menon, Jonathan. “Europe ‘One Vast Arsenal,’ Says ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.” 239 Days in America, 12 Sept. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/09/12/an-iranian-asks-americans-to-pray-that-war-shall-not-come/. ↩
- Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 140. ↩
- Abdul Baha Abbas, “America and World Peace,” The Independent, 73 (Sept. 12, 1912), 606-09. ↩
- ’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=7#section172 ↩
- 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, 317. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/22#922361457 ↩