The Trial of the Century 1
ON JULY 16, 1912, at approximately 2 a.m., “Lefty Louie” Rosenberg, “Whitey” Lewis, “Dago Frank” Cirofici, and “Gyp the Blood” Horowitz loitered outside the Hotel Metropole at 147 West 43rd Street, just off Times Square. When a slightly overweight man in a black striped suit emerged from the hotel, they reached into their pockets, each took out a revolver, and they shot him dead. Their victim had barely hit the sidewalk when the four gunmen jumped into a big white car, which had been waiting for them up the block, and raced off toward Sixth Avenue.
That same evening, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had returned to Manhattan from Brooklyn to attend a wedding ceremony. Although he didn’t comment on the murder case itself, he had written about preventing crime, not by reforming laws or inventing new methods of punishing criminals, but through the education and moral development of society. …
To prevent criminal behavior, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá argued, the community should “endeavor to educate the masses,” so that “day by day knowledge and sciences would increase, the understanding would be broadened, the sensibilities developed, customs would become good, and morals normal; in one word, in all these classes of perfections there would be progress, and there would be fewer crimes.”
Final Days in America: New York City 2
On the same day [November 12] he recorded that Abdu’l-Bahá, as before, was invited to the homes of many socially prominent New Yorkers. But Abdu’l-Bahá refused, saying, “‘I have work with the poor and not with the rich. I love all with heart and soul yet I am not here to visit the homes of the rich.’” When Andrew Carnegie implored Him to come, however, He did bestow upon him the honor of His presence.
Thursday, November 14, 1912 3
After granting private interviews to some of the friends, the Master came downstairs to the gathering. Among His statements were these words:
“The most blessed moments of my life are those which I spend in the company of the friends of God. These are the best times. Therefore, I am extremely happy to be with you now. Praise be to God that your faces are illumined, your hearts and souls are rejoicing and all are turned toward the Abhá Kingdom. This is the utmost happiness for me.
“I pray to the threshold of Bahá’u’lláh that He may grant all of you eternal happiness, honor you in His Kingdom and bestow upon you everlasting life. Thus, the friends of New York may be freed from all limitations and become the cause of the enlightenment of the world of man. This is my greatest wish and Bahá’u’lláh will assuredly assist you.”
Most of the evening meetings were at the home of Mrs Kinney and while the daytime meetings were at Mrs Krug’s home. There was always a crowd of visitors at His residence and whether He was in or out, a multitude was always there waiting.
At the meeting this afternoon at Mrs Krug’s home, He spoke of the exalted station of the people of Bahá given them through the bounties and confirmations of the Abhá Kingdom, which can turn black dust into a brilliant ruby, a grain into a harvest, a fisherman into a Peter and a village woman into a Mary Magdalene, the pride of men.
As they passed before Him one by one, they received His bestowals and blessings. He returned to His residence on foot. Near Central Park a gentleman approached Him and said, ‘I have heard much about you and have been waiting for the moment to see you. I am thankful that now I have attained the honor of meeting your Excellency.’ He followed the Master to His residence, greatly interested in His explanations and the wonderful Bahá’í teachings.
This evening friends and seekers immensely enjoyed and benefited from hearing the Master’s explanations of the mysteries of the Books of God and other important issues. He was asked about music and singing in the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár. He replied, ‘Singing and chanting of scripture and prayers in verse or in prose should be used but I do not interfere in matters not expressly stated in the Text. Whenever and whatever the Universal House of Justice ordains, that will be the criterion.’
Later in the evening He spoke at length to a Christian Science lady who was quite fanatical in her beliefs. The Master explained to her the meaning of the assertion that there is no evil in existence. He said:
“By saying there is no evil in existence is meant that what has come from the Origin of existence and being is good and useful. It is good in its time and place and not evil. For example, I can say that there is no darkness in the sun because darkness is the absence of light and has no existence in itself. Oppression is the absence of justice and ignorance is the lack of knowledge. Hence, the imperfections and defects of the world of creation, the contingent world, are merely the absence of virtues and the lack of perfections. These defects have not come from the Source; rather, the essential properties of the world of matter which are change and transformation cause the training of all things and the manifestation of perfections of realities and spirits.”
9 November 1912, Talk at Home of Mr. and Mrs. Arthur J. Parsons, 1700 Eighteenth Street, NW, Washington, D. C. 4
Furthermore, this immortal human soul is endowed with two means of perception: One is effected through instrumentality; the other, independently. For instance, the soul sees through the instrumentality of the eye, hears with the ear, smells through the nostrils and grasps objects with the hands. These are the actions or operations of the soul through instruments. But in the world of dreams the soul sees when the eyes are closed. The man is seemingly dead, lies there as dead; the ears do not hear, yet he hears. The body lies there, but he—that is, the soul—travels, sees, observes. All the instruments of the body are inactive, all the functions seemingly useless. Notwithstanding this, there is an immediate and vivid perception by the soul. Exhilaration is experienced. The soul journeys, perceives, senses. It often happens that a man in a state of wakefulness has not been able to accomplish the solution of a problem, and when he goes to sleep, he will reach that solution in a dream. How often it has happened that he has dreamed, even as the prophets have dreamed, of the future; and events which have thus been foreshadowed have come to pass literally.
Therefore, we learn that the immortality of the soul, or spirit, is not contingent or dependent upon the so-called immortality of the body, because the body in the quiescent state, in the time of sleep, may be as dead, unconscious, senseless; but the soul, or spirit, is possessed of perceptions, sensations, motion and discovery. Even inspiration and revelation are obtained by it. How many were the prophets who have had marvelous visions of the future while in that state! The spirit, or human soul, is the rider; and the body is only the steed. If anything affects the steed, the rider is not affected by it. The spirit may be likened to the light within the lantern. The body is simply the outer lantern. If the lantern should break, the light is ever the same because the light could shine even without the lantern. The spirit can conduct its affairs without the body. In the world of dreams it is precisely as this light without the chimney glass. It can shine without the glass. The human soul by means of this body can perform its operations, and without the body it can, likewise, have its control. Therefore, if the body be subject to disintegration, the spirit is not affected by these changes or transformations.
’Abdu’l-Bahá in America, 1912-2012: Calling America to Its Spiritual Destiny
‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s greatest wish for New York believers: That they “…become the cause of the enlightenment of the world of man.”
Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America
Curated by Anne Perry
- Jones, Caitlin Shayda. “The Trial of the Century.” 239 Days in America, 14 Nov. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/11/14/the-trial-of-the-century/. ↩
- Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 186. ↩
- ’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#section236 ↩
- 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, 416-417. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/30#436836201 ↩