“These Are, Indeed, United States” 1
AGNES PARSONS GOT DRESSED while it was still dark outside on Wednesday, November 6, 1912, the morning after the election. She had heard that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s train would be pulling into Washington’s Union Station at 6:30 a.m., so she rose early to arrive at the station on time. But the train didn’t come. When she learned that it would be at least an hour and forty-five minutes late, Mrs. Parsons had a long breakfast at the station.
The mercury was rising quickly when ‘Abdu’l-Bahá finally stepped down from the train just before 9 a.m. He got into Agnes Parsons’ carriage and was ferried to the house he had rented at 1901 Eighteenth Street, NW, just a five-minute walk from the Parsons’ home, near Dupont Circle. Every day for the next five days he would speak to large crowds in the Parsons’ bright white and yellow ballroom at 4 p.m. — it sat 150 people — and would welcome guests to his own residence every morning.
At 8:15 p.m. that night, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá rose to speak at the Universalist Church of Our Father, at Thirteenth and L Streets. Back on April 21 the church’s pastor, the Reverend Dr. John van Schaick, had waited on the sidewalk to meet ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, and had conducted him through a side door to the chancel. After an introduction, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spoke on the underlying unity of the world’s religions. This time, he spoke about liberty.
“Praise be God! The standard of liberty is held aloft in this land,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá began. “You enjoy political liberty; you enjoy liberty of thought and speech, religious liberty, racial and personal liberty. Surely this is worthy of appreciation and thanksgiving.”
The Journey East: Chicago, Cincinnati, Washington, D.C., Baltimore 2
On Thursday [November 7] He [‘Abdu’l-Bahá] spoke at the Church of the Brotherhood …
Thursday, November 7, 1912 3
Each hour people came to receive bounties from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s presence. The Master answered many important questions.
He had lunch at Mrs Parsons’s home. At the table, He joyfully offered thanks for the confirmations and assistance of the Abhá Kingdom. As well giving interviews at Mrs Parsons’s home, He also spoke to a large gathering at the Universalist Church. On behalf of the congregation the pastor thanked the Master for coming and then reminded the audience about the importance of knowing something about all religions and abandoning prejudice, which would broaden their horizons. He then gave an account of the Cause, how it had become the target for the persecution and sacrifice of so many souls in its path and concluded by reading a few passages from the Book of Isaiah. The audience was thus prepared to hear the Master’s discourse.
The Master rose and delivered an impressive address, at the beginning of which He said:
“In truth, I have found much love and justice in the people of America. I have observed that they have complete freedom of thought in all matters, which is deserving of praise. So I am greatly pleased with the pastor and thank him for his expression of love for us. The leaders of religions must be like this so that people may become broad-minded. They must be kind to all nationalities for God is kind to all and His love is infinite. Therefore, the love of His servants must also be universal and without limitation.”
In His address He dealt with brotherhood and the oneness of humanity, explaining some of the teachings and principles of Bahá’u’lláh. The audience was so impressed and moved that the pastor again came to the pulpit to express thanks and praise on their behalf. He was honored that this was the second occasion on which the Master had given an address in the church. He said that the Master’s words would become the cause of honor and happiness to humanity, especially since we are all sheep of God’s flock, each other’s brothers, and that God is our real shepherd and protector. The pastor then requested a prayer which the Beloved recited in Persian.
One by one members of the audience came to shake the Master’s hand, begging for His assistance and blessings.
Such meetings in the churches of Washington and the influence and impact of the Master’s talks have excited envy in the hearts of certain ministers who have neither interviewed nor heard Him and they distributed leaflets full of calumny and criticism to the people coming out of the churches.
Talk at Universalist Church, Thirteenth and L Streets, NW, Washington, D.C. 4
I will read to you from the Arabic text the very words written by Bahá’u’lláh in His Epistle to the Sulṭán of Turkey. They will be translated to you as I read. “O King! Thou hast committed that by reason of which Muḥammad, the Prophet of God, lamenteth in the highest heaven. Verily, the world hath made thee proud so that thou hast turned away from the face of Him by Whose light the people of the supreme assembly are illuminated, and erelong thou shalt find thyself in manifest loss. Thou hast united with the Persian chief in opposition to Me after I came unto you from the rising place of greatness and might with a matter which has consoled the eyes of those near unto God. Verily, this is a day wherein the Fire speaketh through all things, declaring that the Beloved of the two worlds hath come, and on the part of everything an Interlocutor of the matter hath sprung up to listen unto the Word of thy Lord, the Precious, the Knowing. Dost thou imagine that thou canst quench the fire which God hath kindled in the horizons? No! By Himself, the True One, wert thou of those who know. Rather, by that which thou hast done its burning is increased and its blaze augmented; and it shall encompass the earth and whosoever is thereupon. Thus the matter hath been decreed, and whosoever is in the heavens and upon the earth could not withstand His command.
“The day is approaching when the Land of Mystery [Adrianople], and what is beside it shall be changed, and shall pass out of the hands of the king, and commotions shall appear, and the voice of lamentation shall be raised, and the evidences of mischief shall be revealed on all sides, and confusion shall spread by reason of that which hath befallen these captives at the hands of the hosts of oppression. The course of things shall be altered, and conditions shall wax so grievous, that the very sands on the desolate hills will moan, and the trees on the mountain will weep, and blood will flow out of all things. Then wilt thou behold the people in sore distress. Was Pharaoh able to hinder God by exercising his dominion when he rebelled upon the earth and was of the disobedient? We have indeed manifested the Interlocutor [Moses] from his house in spite of his will; verily, we were able to do this. And remember when Nimrod kindled the fire of polytheism whereby he would burn the Friend of God [Abraham]. Verily, we extinguished the fire by the truth and brought upon Nimrod manifest grief. Verily, the oppressor [King of Persia] slew the Beloved of the Worlds [the Báb] that he might thereby extinguish the light of God among His creatures and deprive mankind of the pure water of life in the days of his Lord, the Mighty, the Kind. We have made the matter manifest in the country and elevated His mention among the unitarians. Verily, the Servant hath assuredly come to vivify the world and bring to union whosoever is upon the surface of the whole earth. That which God willeth shall overcome, and thou shalt see the earth as the garden of Abhá. Thus hath it been written by the pen of command in an irrevocable Tablet.”
There are many other prophecies in this book, especially in the Epistle to the Sháh of Persia, all of which prophecies have come to pass. As they are lengthy, we will not have time to quote them.
The purpose of these quotations is to show that Bahá’u’lláh’s great endeavor in the East was to unify mankind, to cause them to agree and become reconciled, thereby manifesting the oneness of the world of humanity, preparing the way for international peace and establishing the foundations of happiness and welfare. But the nations have not hearkened to His summons and message. The Persian and Turkish governments arose against His Cause, and the result is that both these governments have been disintegrated and broken. Had they been attentive to His commands and received His admonitions, they would have been protected. They would have enjoyed happiness and prosperity. They would have been bound together in ties of fellowship and brotherhood, availing themselves of the wonderful bounties of love and unity and dwelling in the delectable paradise of the divine Kingdom. But, alas, the commands and guidance of the Blessed One have been neglected and ignored. Day by day they have followed their own devices and imaginations, until now this fire of war is raging most furiously.
’Abdu’l-Bahá in America, 1912-2012: Calling America to Its Spiritual Destiny
Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America
Curated by Anne Perry
- Jones, Caitlin Shayda. “‘These Are, Indeed, United States.’” 239 Days in America, 7 Nov. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/11/07/these-are-indeed-united-states/. ↩
- Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 179. ↩
- ’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#section229 ↩
- 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, 398-399. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/30#030047315 ↩