The Master and the President 1
On ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s last day in Chicago — May 5, 1912 — he spent some time in the morning with children who had gathered at the Plaza Hotel, and walked with them into the park to be photographed. Then he said that he wanted to be alone. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá left the group and paced down toward the entrance of Lincoln Park. There he stood gazing up at the sixteenth President cast in bronze…
Today, a few hours after his quiet moment alone with the President, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spoke to the congregation of All Souls Church. In 1905, the church, which didn’t have a building of its own, constructed the Abraham Lincoln Center, a settlement house serving “the advancement of the physical, intellectual, social, civic, moral and religious interests of humanity, irrespective of age, sex, creed, race, [or] condition of political opinion.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá concluded his speech at All Souls with a prayer. It was about unity:
“O Thou kind Lord! Thou hast created all humanity from the same stock. Thou hast decreed that all shall belong to the same household . . . . O Thou kind Lord! Unite all. Let the religions agree and make the nations one, so that they may see each other as one family and the whole earth as one home.”
At 11:00 A.M. [Sunday, May 5] He spoke at the Plymouth Congregational church on East 50th Street. The Reverend Joseph A. Milburn introduced Him: “‘Having heard of the teachings of this peerless qualities of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, I had made arrangements to leave for ‘Akká. Then I was informed that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Himself, was coming to America. God has today endowed us with His presence here.’” As ‘Abdu’l-Bahá came forward, the audience stood, and, even though in a church sanctuary, they burst into prolonged cheers that stopped only when He motioned them to silence. Some of the audience at this and other meetings became so attracted to Him, even though they had just met Him, that they followed Him from meeting to meeting. 2
Talk at Plymouth Congregational Church, 935 East Fiftieth Street, Chicago, Illinois
O God! O Thou Who givest! This congregation is turning to Thee, casting their glances toward Thy Kingdom and favor, longing to behold the lights of Thy face. O God! Bless this nation. Confirm this government. Reveal Thy glory unto this people and confer upon them life eternal. O God! Illumine the faces, render the hearts radiant, exhilarate the breasts, crown the heads with the diadem of Thy providence, cause them to soar in Thy pure atmosphere so they may reach the highest pinnacles of Thy splendor. Assist them in order that this world may ever find the light and effulgence of Thy presence. O God! Shelter this congregation and admonish this nation. Render them progressive in all degrees. May they become leaders in the world of humanity. May they be Thine examples among humankind. May they be manifestations of Thy grace. May they be filled with the inspiration of Thy Word. Thou art the Powerful. Thou art the Mighty. Thou art the Giver, and Thou art the Omniscient. 3
Sunday, May 5, 1912 4
As it was the last day of the Master’s stay, there was much commotion among the friends visiting the Master’s apartment. A large number of Bahá’ís and their children had gathered in the [Plaza] hotel’s salon. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá embraced and kissed each child with love and kindness. Giving them flowers and sweets, He said to them:
According to Christ you are the children of the Kingdom and according to Bahá’u’lláh, the candles of the world of man, for your hearts are in the utmost purity and your spirits are sanctified. You are not soiled with the things of this world. Your hearts are pure and clean like the mirror. Your parents must bring you up with great kindness and must educate you in morals and praiseworthy attributes so that the virtues of the world of man may be exemplified perfectly in your characters and conduct, that you may progress in all fields of endeavor, may acquire knowledge of the arts and sciences, and may become the cause of the manifestation of eternal bounties and universal advancement.
Then addressing the entire assembly, He said:
“I am going, but you must rise up to serve the Cause of God. Endeavor to keep your hearts sanctified and your intentions pure so that you may attract divine bounties. Remember, although the sun shines equally on all things, yet in the mirror its effulgence is intense, and not in the dark stone. The cause of this intensity and heat in the glass is its purity; without purity and cleanliness, these effects would never appear in it. Similarly, if rain fall on barren land, it produces nothing, but if it fall on pure fertile land, it makes it verdant and causes it to yield a harvest. This is the day in which only pure and chaste hearts can derive benefit from the eternal bounties and only pious souls can receive light from the ever-existent splendors. Praise be to God that ye believe in God, have faith in His words and are turned to His Kingdom. You have heard the voice of God and your hearts are delighted with the breezes of the Abhá paradise. Your intentions are good; your object is the will of God; and your desire is to render service to the Kingdom of God.
Therefore, you must gird up your loins with unswerving determination, you must be united among yourselves and you must not be irritated by one another. Your eyes must be turned always to the kingdom of God and not to the world of man. You must love His creation for His sake and not for your own. When you love one another for the sake of God you shall never be perturbed. No human being is perfect, every person has some flaw. If you look to your fellowman you will always be upset; but if you look to God it shall not be so, because the world of God is a world of perfection and endless mercy; therefore, you will love and show kindness to all for His sake. You must not look to the faults of others; you must look with the eye of forgiveness and pardon. The eye that regards faults sees nothing but faults and the eye that overlooks faults is fixed on the Creator of the souls. It is He Who has created all, has nurtured all, has endowed all with life and spirit and has given to all eyes and ears. Thus all are the signs of His power and for His sake we must love all, and show kindness to all, assist the poor, render help to the weak, heal the sick and educate the ignorant.
It is my desire that the union and harmony of the friends of Chicago may be an example for all the friends in America and that all creation may derive benefit from their behavior; that they may lead all. Then and only then shall the confirmations of the Abhá Kingdom and the bounties of the Sun of Reality encircle you.”
- Sockett, Robert. “The Master and the President.” 239 Days in America, May 5, 2012. https://239days.com/2012/05/05/the-master-and-the-president/. ↩
- Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 56. ↩
- 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, 96. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/5#374930584 ↩
- ’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=3#section42. ↩