239 Days in America, Day 173: September 30, 1912 | Salt Lake City

September 30, 1912: The Week Ahead 1

DURING THE PAST WEEK, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spent three days in Denver, Colorado, before continuing his train ride westward. After spending the night at the Hotel Colorado in Glenwood Springs, amidst the spectacular mountain scenery and natural hot springs, he arrived in Salt Lake City at 2 p.m. yesterday. Today, he is attending the National Irrigation Congress at the Mormon Tabernacle, where he has been invited to sit on the speakers’ platform.

In the week ahead: ‘Abdu’l-Bahá travels to San Francisco. During the train ride, he writes an extensive letter to Agnes Parsons, addressing a wide range of economic issues. We’ll take a close look at the contents of this letter. We’ll also paint a portrait of San Francisco in 1912, and cover ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s meeting with the Mayor of Berkeley.

Minnesota, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah 2

On Monday morning, September 30, 1912, the Salt Lake City Tribune printed an article headed, “COMES TO LECTURE ON BAHAI RELIGION: Leader of Movement Will Explain Tenets to People of Salt Lake”:

“Abdul Baha Abbas, leader of the Bahai movement, which he says has 10,000,000 followers in the world, is in Salt Lake City. He is making a tour of the United States and plans to lecture on his religion here.

“The principal tenets of the Bahai doctrines are the brotherhood of man and the fatherhood of God; the establishment of universal peace, the creation of a universal language and the establishment of a tribunal to which all the nations in the world would come to settle arguments. Its followers must seek out the truth in all matters of religion and conduct for themselves. They must have no pre-conceptions, handed down from their fathers, but must search and decide the truth for themselves.”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá rode all day on Monday, September 30, traveling to California. Among the many things He spoke of to His companions, Mahmúd recalled His saying, “‘The Cause of God is penetrating and ere long it will surround the whole world. I see the expanse of America full of Bahais. Formerly when we asserted in the East that international peace was a necessity the people laughted at us. Now behold the congresses of peace that have come into existence. The law of God is the panacea for all ills. …’”

Monday, September 30, 1912 3

The Master left the Keynon Hotel in Salt Lake City to continue His journey to California. He spoke on various subjects. The following are some of His words:

“The Cause of God is penetrating. It will encompass the whole world. Now as I observe the wilderness of America, I see it full of Bahá’ís. Formerly, when we asserted in the East that international peace and unity of nations was a necessity, the people laughed at us. Now behold the congresses of peace that have come into existence. The law of God is the panacea for all ills because it is in accordance with the needs of the realities of creation. Legislators have devoted considerable discussion to this point. The most distinguished of them concluded that the laws must be derived from the necessary relations inherent in the reality of things. But the divine Manifestation asserted that to institute such laws is beyond human capacity, for human intelligence cannot encompass the realities of things, nor can it comprehend the essential relationships of such realities. Therefore, divine law is necessary, as it embraces the realities and penetrates all things.”

Today the Master was in the best of health and happiness. In spite of all the hardships of the long journey, He was as charmingly fresh as a flower. With unmitigated joy He mentioned the Blessed Beauty, Bahá’u’lláh.

In the afternoon He spoke about spiritual education and intellectual training:

“Peter was devoid of all schooling and so untrained that he could not remember the days of the week. He would tie up seven loaves of bread and open one each day. When he opened the seventh parcel he would know that it was the seventh day and that he had to go to the synagogue. However, under Christ his spiritual education was such that he became the cause of the enlightenment of the world. Indeed, what holy beings are raised up under the shadow of the Word of God!

“I remember once in Tihrán when I was a child, I was sitting by Áqá Siyyid Yahyá Vahíd when Mírzá ‘Alíy-i-Sayyáh came in wearing the táj and carrying the rod of a dervish and with his bare feet covered with mud. Someone asked him where he was coming from. He replied that he had come from the fortress of Máh-Kú, from the august presence of the Báb. Vahíd arose immediately and threw himself at the feet of Sayyáh, and with tears streaming down his face he rubbed his beard on Sayyáh’s feet saying, ‘He has come from the court of the Beloved.’ Although Vahíd was a renowned and illustrious person, still he was humble before the servants of the Threshold of God.”

Among the interesting things we saw along the way were the wooden covers over the railroad tracks. For a distance of some 50 miles deep passes are snow bound during the entire winter and become impassable for the trains. Now, owing to these covers, the difficulties are removed and the train can pass easily through the area. In English, these covers are called snow sheds. The history of California records that in olden times many people became snowbound and perished in these parts. One example is the the Donner party, the story of whose demise is very sad.

25 September 1912, Talk at Second Divine Science Church, 3929 West Thirty-eighth Avenue, Denver, Colorado 4

Each one of the divine religions has established two kinds of ordinances: the essential and the accidental. The essential ordinances rest upon the firm, unchanging, eternal foundations of the Word itself. They concern spiritualities, seek to stabilize morals, awaken intuitive susceptibilities, reveal the knowledge of God and inculcate the love of all mankind. The accidental laws concern the administration of outer human actions and relations, establishing rules and regulations requisite for the world of bodies and their control. These are ever subject to change and supersedure according to exigencies of time, place and condition. For example, during the time of Moses, ten commandments concerning the punishment of murder were revealed in His Book. Divorce was sanctioned and polygamy allowable to a certain extent. If a man committed theft, his hand was cut off. This was drastic law and severe punishment applicable to the time of Moses. But when the time of Christ came, minds had developed, realizations were keener and spiritual perceptions had advanced so that certain laws concerning murder, plurality of wives and divorce were abrogated. But the essential ordinances of the Mosaic dispensation remained unchanged. These were the fundamental realities of the knowledge of God and the holy Manifestations, the purification of morals, the awakening of spiritual susceptibilities—eternal principles in which there is no change or transformation. Briefly, the foundation of the divine religions is one eternal foundation, but the laws for temporary conditions and exigencies are subject to change. Therefore, by adherence to these temporary laws, blindly following and imitating ancestral forms, difference and divergence have arisen among followers of the various religions, resulting in disunion, strife and hatred. Blind imitations and dogmatic observances are conducive to alienation and disagreement; they lead to bloodshed and destruction of the foundations of humanity. Therefore, the religionists of the world must lay aside these imitations and investigate the essential foundation or reality itself, which is not subject to change or transformation. This is the divine means of agreement and unification.

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

Leaving Salt Lake City for San Francisco

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

September 30, 1912


  1. Sockett, Robert. “September 30, 1912: The Week Ahead.” 239 Days in America, 30 Sept. 2012, http://stagingtwo39.wpengine.com/2012/09/30/september-30-1912-the-week-ahead/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 163-164.
  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=7#section190
  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, 338-339. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/26#987408459

239 Days in America, Day 168: September 25, 1912 | Denver

“The World is a School” 1

“WHEN I ARRIVED IN this country,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá told the congregation at the Divine Science Church in Denver, Colorado, “I realized that American ideals are indeed most praiseworthy. . . .” The nations of Europe were on the verge of war, he noted, driven by prejudice and fanaticism. “You are free from such prejudice,” he added, “for you believe in the oneness and solidarity of the world of humanity.”

The church that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spoke in on the evening of September 25, 1912, had a distinctive history. Its founder, Nona Lovell Brooks, was one of the first female pastors in America. She was also an early proponent of the New Thought movement. While the movement held beliefs that were considered unorthodox by mainstream Christianity — among them spiritual healing and the non-existence of evil — it was more mainstream than some of the groups ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had encountered in America, such as the Theosophists or the Free Religionists. The congregation in Denver believed that truth came through the Bible, and that Jesus was a guide for human behavior.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá arrived at 8 p.m. in an automobile put at his disposal by the editor of the Denver Post. He delivered what was perhaps his most expansive exposition yet on the common foundation of the world’s religions, and the barriers to religious unity.

“The world is a school,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá told his audience, “in which there must be Teachers of the Word of God.” It was a deceptively simple metaphor — one that implied not only that humankind was a single body functioning within a single structure of guidance, but that it progressed over time under the direction of successive teachers.

Minnesota, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah

On September 25 there appeared an article in the [Denver] Post entitled, “ABDUL BA-HA ABBAS—PERSIAN TEACHER—TO CONVERT DENVER.” The reporter, Frances Wayne, wrote:

“A Man of God has come to town.

“With the arrival yesterday of Abdul Ba-ha Abbas, a quicker spirit of tolerance, of brotherly love, of sincerer charity, of all those virtues which lift man above the beast was given wing and must, before his departure, have its effect upon every man and woman who comes within the radius of this wise man of the East.

“Abdul Ba-ha entered the city without any of the glitter or pomp which is the attribute of nobility. He came … companioned by five devoted servants of the faith he preaches and by a reputation for sanity and holiness which makes of the most hardened cynic a respectful spectator.” 2

After a meeting the next day, September 25, He took a walk, and then spoke with the crowds who had gathered. To one person He said, “‘Man is like a bird which is in the cage. A bird cannot get freedom by merely knowing that there are pure breezes, spacious firmament, beautiful gardens, pleasant parks and fountains outside. It must get a power to break the cage and to fly into the pleasant firmament.’” That afternoon He spoke at the home of Mrs. Roberts and that night at a public meeting at the Hotel Shirley. 3

September 25, 1912 4

Most of the people coming today to see the Master were prominent and well-known. Because they so were attracted and transformed by His talks on the divine teachings of the oneness of humanity, universal peace and the principles of the religions, today I wrote to the friends in the East inviting them to come and see how people who had previously had no appreciation for those from the East, especially the Persians, now come in groups to the threshold of the Master and stand waiting their turn to become the recipients of His favor. They consider an interview with Him a source of pride and glory. Many philosophers, professors, clergymen and lecturers come with bowed heads to show their sincere humility. The people from churches and other organizations are also attracted and fascinated, happy to see His life-giving countenance. The Center of the Covenant has caused the Persians to be renowned for their respectability and has crowned the peoples of the East with eternal honor and glory. And how the newspapers of this region praise the Master and the learned and literary people of the West emphasize the importance of these teachings! Notwithstanding this, most of the Persians are asleep and do not understand the cause of their greatness and honor. They are asleep on the bed of negligence and resting in the lap of pride.

After the meeting the Master took a walk. His heart was filled with joy as He said:

“Did you see what a fire was set aglow in the hearts? A person must first be happy and attracted himself to be in a position to transform others. He himself must be impressed in order to impress others. You must act in a way that will make me happy, then you will see what will happen.”

To one who visited Him at the hotel, He remarked:

“I have come to your city and found tall buildings and advancement in material civilization. Now I will lead you to my own city which is the world above. Its administration is the oneness of humanity, its law is international peace, its palaces are ever shining with the lights of the Kingdom, its season is always spring, its trees are ever green, its fruits are fresh and sweet, its sun is ever ascending, its moon is always full, its stars are ever brilliant and its planets are ever circling. That is our city and the Founder is Bahá’u’lláh. We have enjoyed the pleasures of this city and now I invite you to that city. I hope that you will accept this invitation.”

To another He said:

“Man must take flight from the cage of the body and become pure spirit, for the body is a cage which causes difficulties for man and makes him the captive of nature and involves him in all types of misfortunes. But when a person discards all his physical habits, he is freed from all fetters. As physical powers attract the world of nature, so spiritual powers must break these chains. This condition is not realized by thought alone. The powers of nature are ever alert to allure man. The eye is fascinated by beautiful scenery; the ear is entranced by music; the heart is attracted by delights and human passions. A man may be rich but still he wants more because he is attracted by the world of nature; he has means of livelihood yet he desires more. Therefore, the spiritual powers must dominate so that he may be freed from these fetters and attain salvation. Man is like a bird in a cage. A bird cannot attain freedom merely by knowing that in the free world there are pure breezes, spacious skies, beautiful gardens, pleasant parks and fountains; rather, the bird must find a power to break the cage and soar into the wide firmament.”

He then narrated a story about detachment:

“The Persian friends travel mostly on foot. They sleep whenever they get tired. They rest wherever they see a shady tree. Once a person came to an Amír. The Amír wished to present him with a gift and with insistence gave him a robe. Later, when he became tired, he lay down under a tree in the forest with the robe folded under his head. But he could not sleep as he repeatedly imagined that a thief was crouching nearby to take away the robe. At last he rose, threw the robe away and said, ‘As long as this robe is with me, I shall not find rest. To find rest I must give it up.’ How long will you desire a robe for your body? Release your body that you may have no need for a robe.”

A public meeting was held in the afternoon at the home of Mrs Roberts. ’Abdu’l-Bahá walked awhile in the garden outside the house. Although most of the friends watched Him respectfully from a distance, when several ladies from Washington DC saw Him, they ran towards Him, expressing their faith and happiness in the divine teachings which they had heard from His own lips in Washington.

In brief, the Master’s talk that afternoon was to say farewell to the friends, to encourage them in their endeavors to diffuse the fragrances of God and to explain issues related to teaching. They were all set ablaze by His words.

In the evening the proprietor of the Hotel Shirley and the publisher of a newspaper announced that there would be a public meeting in the large hall of the hotel. The spacious room was filled to capacity. I will never forget the joy and excitement of the audience. At times the audience was plunged into a state of sadness and wonder and then into a state of such happiness and joy that peals of laughter could be heard outside the building. It is not possible to describe the excitement and attraction of the people. They all expressed their sadness that the Master was leaving the city. Those men and women staying at the hotel who because of their wealth and pride had previously not deigned to look at us, now sought us out. Everyone was fascinated by the majesty and grandeur of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and gave their hearts to Him.

Talk at Second Divine Science Church, 3929 West Thirty-eighth Avenue, Denver, Colorado 5

One of the forms of prejudice which afflict the world of mankind is religious bigotry and fanaticism. When this hatred burns in human hearts, it becomes the cause of revolution, destruction, abasement of humankind and deprivation of the mercy of God. For the holy Manifestations and divine Founders of religion Themselves were completely unified in love and agreement, whereas Their followers are characterized by bitter antagonism and attitudes of hostility toward each other. God has desired for mankind the effulgence of love, but through blindness and misapprehension man has enveloped himself in veils of discord, strife and hatred. The supreme need of humanity is cooperation and reciprocity. The stronger the ties of fellowship and solidarity amongst men, the greater will be the power of constructiveness and accomplishment in all the planes of human activity. Without cooperation and reciprocal attitude the individual member of human society remains self-centered, uninspired by altruistic purposes, limited and solitary in development like the animal and plant organisms of the lower kingdoms. The lower creatures are not in need of cooperation and reciprocity. A tree can live solitary and alone, but this is impossible for man without retrogression. Therefore, every cooperative attitude and activity of human life is praiseworthy and foreintended by the will of God. The first expression of cooperation is family relationship, which is unreliable and uncertain in its potency, for it is subject to separation and does not permanently cement together the individual members of humanity. There is also a cooperation and oneness in nativity or race which is likewise not efficient, for although its members may agree in general, they differ radically in personal and particular points of view. Racial association, therefore, will not ensure the requirements of divine relationship. There are other means in the human world by which physical association is established, but these fail to weld together the hearts and spirits of men and are correspondingly inefficient. Therefore, it is evident that God has destined and intended religion to be the cause and means of cooperative effort and accomplishment among mankind. To this end He has sent the Prophets of God, the holy Manifestations of the Word, in order that the fundamental reality and religion of God may prove to be the bond of human unity, for the divine religions revealed by these holy Messengers have one and the same foundation. All will admit, therefore, that the divine religions are intended to be the means of true human cooperation, that they are united in the purpose of making humanity one family, for they rest upon the universal foundation of love, and love is the first effulgence of Divinity.

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

People were fascinated with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and considered an interview with Him a source of pride and glory

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

September 25, 1912


  1. Sockett, Robert. “‘The World Is a School.’” 239 Days in America, 25 Sept. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/09/25/deceptively-simple-metaphor-new-thought/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 154.
  3. Ibid, 158.
  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=7#section185
  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, 337-338. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/26#322101001

239 Days in America, Day 100: July 19, 1912 | New York

1912: A Year Supreme with Possibilities 1

‘ABDU’L-BAHÁ COULD HARDLY have picked a better time than 1912 to join the conversation about America. “Nineteen twelve,” said Eugene Debs, the Socialist Party’s candidate for President, “is a year supreme with possibilities.” That year marked the highpoint of a flurry of new social movements that had begun two decades earlier…

As ‘Abdu’l-Bahá crossed the country in 1912, the national debate around the Presidential election crystallized the forces of change that had been brimming for twenty years. Woodrow Wilson summed up the challenge facing the American people.

“Now this is nothing short of a new social age,” he said, “a new era of human relationships, a new stage-setting for the drama of life.”

New York City 2

Abdu’l-Bahá continued to explain in a multitude of ways so that all might understand, the object and goal of His endless work and teaching. On July 19, for example, He told the friends:

My weak constitution and excessive work are drawbacks. Otherwise it were possible that many extraordinary souls would have arisen among the friends. As along as such souls do not arise, the real object will not be accomplished. Devotion and capacity to work have been created to some extent in these friends. But the persons whom I mean have different qualities…

They [Mullá Hasan and Mullá ‘Abdu’l-Latif] were deputized by the Mujtahids to see the Blessed Beauty at Mázindarán. The moment they approached Him they were so changed and their reality was so transformed and adjusted that they did not remain indifferent for a moment. After undergoing great troubles and persecutions Mullá ‘Abdu’l-Latif was martyred at the altar of sacrifice. Similarly a blind Indian Sheik became so altered after his meeting the Beloved One that he was always found to be inebriated with joy and happiness. Such persons are required to rise for the Cause of God. Such persons are worthy of the field of service and devotion.

Friday, July 19, 2022 3

A letter was received from Mrs Parsons in Dublin, New Hampshire, begging Him to go there to meet some seekers after truth as well as for a change of surroundings and climate. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, although very tired and weak, spent the afternoon receiving friends and revealing Tablets for the believers. At the evening meeting He spoke about the martyrs of the Faith and visited the son of Varqá, the martyr, Mírzá Valíyu’lláh Khán, who was the recipient of the Master’s loving kindness. He then spoke of the martyrdom of Varqá and his son Rúhu’lláh in a most impressive and dignified manner, paying tribute to and demonstrating His great loyalty to these servants of the threshold of the Blessed Beauty. He then said, ‘It is my last night with you and I exhort you to be loving and united.’ When He finished His talk, all the friends demonstrated their great joy and happiness.

Talk at All Souls Unitarian Church, Fourth Avenue and Twentieth Street, New York, 14 July 1912 4

Still another cause of disagreement and dissension has been the formation of religious sects and denominations. Bahá’u’lláh said that God has sent religion for the purpose of establishing fellowship among humankind and not to create strife and discord, for all religion is founded upon the love of humanity. Abraham promulgated this principle, Moses summoned all to its recognition, Christ established it, and Muḥammad directed mankind to its standard. This is the reality of religion. If we abandon hearsay and investigate the reality and inner significance of the heavenly teachings, we will find the same divine foundation of love for humanity. The purport is that religion is intended to be the cause of unity, love and fellowship and not discord, enmity and estrangement. Man has forsaken the foundation of divine religion and adhered to blind imitations. Each nation has clung to its own imitations, and because these are at variance, warfare, bloodshed and destruction of the foundation of humanity have resulted. True religion is based upon love and agreement. Bahá’u’lláh has said, “If religion and faith are the causes of enmity and sedition, it is far better to be nonreligious, and the absence of religion would be preferable; for we desire religion to be the cause of amity and fellowship. If enmity and hatred exist, irreligion is preferable.” Therefore, the removal of this dissension has been specialized in Bahá’u’lláh, for religion is the divine remedy for human antagonism and discord. But when we make the remedy the cause of the disease, it would be better to do without the remedy.

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

The story of Juliet’s rosary

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

July 19, 1912


  1. Menon, Jonathan. “1912: A Year Supreme with Possibilities.” 239 Days in America, 19 July 2012, https://239days.com/2012/07/19/1912-a-year-supreme-with-possibilities/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 113-114.
  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=5#section117
  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, 231. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/16#992623475

239 Days in America, Day 97: July 16, 1912 | New York

Join the Conversation! 1

IT’S BEEN ALMOST ONE hundred days since we began to explore ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s journey across America. On April 11, 1912 he arrived in New York, and began to engage Americans in conversation about the issues that confronted the nation, including race, religion, gender, social justice, international peace, and America’s future. We have been telling the story here at 239 Days In America in real time, time-shifted 100 years later.

One thing we’ve learned over the past three months is that 1912 wasn’t all that different from 2012. A fiercely contested election challenged Americans to decide what kind of country they wanted to live in. Minorities and women fought for civil rights. Workers faced off against corporations. American soldiers landed on foreign shores, sparking debate about the nation’s role in the world.

To those of you who have accompanied us on the journey so far, thank you. And if you’re just joining us, welcome!

New York City 2

By Tuesday, July 16, Mahmúd observed, “His extended stay in New York had brought wonderful results among the friends.”

Each individual’s experience with him was a thread weaving in and out of the experiences each of the others was having. It was this balance, this whole, that gave the completeness of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s example. He possessed an unparalleled ability for weaving together in a fabric of love and harmony the inner private development of the mass of individuals who surged to see Him, for making them part of the new World Order. He taught them so that the new community of believers would grow and develop and become self-perpetuating after His departure.

Tuesday, July 16, 2022

‘Abdu’l-Bahá returned to New York to find a large group gathered at His home, waiting for Him. At the meeting the Master shone as a lamp and burnt away the veils of superstition. One eminent woman, a doctor, asked him: ‘What is the cause of all these calamities and troubles in the world of creation?’ He replied:

“Calamities are of two kinds. One kind results from bad morals and misconduct such as falsehood, dishonesty, treachery, cruelty and the like. Surely, misdeeds bring forth evil consequences. The other kind is the result of the exigencies of the contingent world, of consummate divine law, and of universal relationships, and is that which is bound to happen, as, for instance, changes, alterations, life and death. It is impossible that a tree should not wither or that life should not end in death.”

Answering questions from the audience, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá explained that God is holy beyond comprehension, appearance, ascent and descent, ingress and egress, thereby correcting the erroneous notions of some philosophers and ascetics. The Master’s explanations were long and very convincing.

A wonderful meeting was held in the evening. Two very dear friends, Mr Harlan Ober and Miss Grace Robarts were married. Besides the many friends, many others were present, including a very devoted Christian minister [Howard Colby Ives]. The Master had instructed that the wedding be performed according to the law of Christianity and it was performed by the minister. After the ceremony, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá rose and chanted a prayer, blessing the marriage of the two devoted believers. Congratulations were given and everyone praised the ceremony. 3

Talk at All Souls Unitarian Church, Fourth Avenue and Twentieth Street, New York, 14 July 1912 4

Consider how discord and dissension have prevailed in this great human family for thousands of years. Its members have ever been engaged in war and bloodshed. Up to the present time in history the world of humanity has neither attained nor enjoyed any measure of peace, owing to incessant conditions of hostility and strife. History is a continuous and consecutive record of warfare brought about by religious, sectarian, racial, patriotic and political causes. The world of humanity has found no rest. Mankind has always been in conflict, engaged in destroying the foundations, pillaging the properties and possessing the lands and territory of each other, especially in the earlier periods of savagery and barbarism where whole races and peoples were carried away captive by their conquerors. Who shall measure or estimate the tremendous destruction of human life resulting from this hostility and strife? What human powers and forces have been employed in the prosecution of war and applied to inhuman purposes of battle and bloodshed? In this most radiant century it has become necessary to divert these energies and utilize them in other directions, to seek the new path of fellowship and unity, to unlearn the science of war and devote supreme human forces to the blessed arts of peace. After long trial and experience we are convinced of the harmful and satanic outcomes of dissension; now we must seek after means by which the benefits of agreement and concord may be enjoyed. When such means are found, we must give them a trial.

Consider the harmful effect of discord and dissension in a family; then reflect upon the favors and blessings which descend upon that family when unity exists among its various members. What incalculable benefits and blessings would descend upon the great human family if unity and brotherhood were established! In this century when the beneficent results of unity and the ill effects of discord are so clearly apparent, the means for the attainment and accomplishment of human fellowship have appeared in the world. Bahá’u’lláh has proclaimed and provided the way by which hostility and dissension may be removed from the human world. He has left no ground or possibility for strife and disagreement.

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

‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s care and compassion

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

July 16, 1912


  1. Menon, Jonathan. “Join the Conversation!” 239 Days in America, 16 July 2012, https://239days.com/2012/07/16/join-the-conversation/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 110.
  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=5#section114
  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, 229-230.https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/16#315324576

239 Days in America, Day 80: June 29, 1912 | New Jersey

Speaking Persian in America 1

On Sunday, June 30, 1912, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá traveled by car through the countryside to Morristown, New Jersey. Mr. [Haozoun Hohannes ] Topakyan had invited him and his attendants for a barbecue. The consul sported a Western suit with a jacket that draped past his belly. He didn’t wear a fez, unlike the Persians who joined him, but kept an imperial mustache that curled slightly upwards. He was known for his “Oriental barbecues,” as The New York Times called them, at which an entire lamb was roasted and served on a bronze and gold table.

Mr. Topakyan was gracious when he thought it was warranted. On June 30 he refused to sit without ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s permission. Topakyan had invited several reporters to come and speak with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. After they had eaten lunch, a photographer came and took ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s picture.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá met with Mr. Topakyan on several more occasions, and kept in touch with him for years after he left America. One of his letters reads: “I will pray for you and Madame so that the Doors of the Kingdom of God, be always open before your faces and the Infinite Divine bestowals may descend upon you uninterruptedly so that according to the statement of Christ you may be of those who are chosen and not of those who are called.”

New Jersey: The Unity Feast 2

‘Abdu’l-Bahá left Montclair at 8:30 A.M. on Saturday, June 29, and, after transferring to four different streetcars, arrived at Roy Wilhelm’s home in West Englewood, New Jersey. This was the large outdoor gathering—the Unity Feast—to which Abdu’l-Bahá had invited the friends before he left New York. He rested as the friends arrived and sat in a circle in the shade of the large trees. Then He spoke to individuals as He walked among them. Addressing the entire group He said, “This is a new Day and this hour is a new Hour in which we have come together. . . . True Bahai meetings are the mirrors of the kingdom wherein images of the Supreme Concourse are reflected. . . . First, you must become united and agreed among yourselves. . . .

Talk at Unity Feast, Outdoors, West Englewood, New Jersey 3

First, you must become united and agreed among yourselves. You must be exceedingly kind and loving toward each other, willing to forfeit life in the pathway of another’s happiness. You must be ready to sacrifice your possessions in another’s behalf. The rich among you must show compassion toward the poor, and the well-to-do must look after those in distress. In Persia the friends offer their lives for each other, striving to assist and advance the interests and welfare of all the rest. They live in a perfect state of unity and agreement. Like the Persian friends you must be perfectly agreed and united to the extent and limit of sacrificing life. Your utmost desire must be to confer happiness upon each other. Each one must be the servant of the others, thoughtful of their comfort and welfare. In the path of God one must forget himself entirely. He must not consider his own pleasure but seek the pleasure of others. He must not desire glory nor gifts of bounty for himself but seek these gifts and blessings for his brothers and sisters. It is my hope that you may become like this, that you may attain to the supreme bestowal and be imbued with such spiritual qualities as to forget yourselves entirely and with heart and soul offer yourselves as sacrifices for the Blessed Perfection. You should have neither will nor desire of your own but seek everything for the beloved of God and live together in complete love and fellowship. May the favors of Bahá’u’lláh surround you from all directions. This is the greatest bestowal and supreme bounty. These are the infinite favors of God.

New Jersey: The Unity Feast 4

When He had finished, the meal was ready; but just as it was announced, thunder was heard, and large raindrops began to fall. Abdu’l-Bahá walked to the road, taking a chair, and several friends grouped around Him. As He sat, His face turned upward, a strong wind began to blow, the clouds began to disperse, and the sun shown through. Then He rose and walked back into the grove. After the meal of Persian food Abdu’l-Bahá anointed the two hundred fifty guests with attar of roses. After dark, as the friends sat on the lawn with candles, Abdu’l-Bahá spoke, ending as He walked into darkness, “Peace be with you. I will pray for you.” 5

Saturday, June 29, 1912

‘Abdu’l-Bahá and we were invited to the home of the Persian Consul General, Mr Topakyan. On the way the Master stopped by the home of the minister who had visited Him the previous day. When he saw the Master approaching from the distance, he rushed out of his house and with great humility and reverence thanked the Master for gracing his home. His zeal and joy increased minute by minute as he listened to the Master’s encouraging words.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá then continued the journey by automobile through the wooded countryside and went directly to the home of the Persian Consul General in Morristown, which is one of the most delightful places in the region. One of its charming features is the creek that runs through the green-clad hills whose trees and verdure face the Consul-General’s house. This beautiful setting appealed both to the heart and the soul. After the arrival of the Master, who was welcomed by the Consul General and his staff, several important people were invited to meet ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. A number of reporters also interviewed Him and expressed their delight in His answers to their questions. Around lunch time, a photographer arrived and took two photographs of the Master, one before lunch was served and the other while He was seated at the table. In brief, the Consul General was most courteous and humble in the Master’s presence, to such an extent that he refused to sit without permission. He recorded ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s talk and conversations for publication in the newspapers and was honored to host the Master.

After the Master had a brief rest and a stroll in the afternoon, another reporter came to the house. As he listened to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s explanations about the teachings, he recorded them for publication. Then with great majesty, dignity and grandeur, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá left for New York. When He arrived home, He did not permit us to prepare dinner for Him. Instead, He ate some watermelon and bread and retired for the night. 6

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

Mahmud: June 29 – “This is a New Day; a New Hour”

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

June 29, 1912


  1. Jones, Caitlin Shayda. “Speaking Persian in America.” 239 Days in America, 29 June 2012, https://239days.com/2012/06/29/speaking-persian-in-america/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 102.
  3. 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, 215. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/15#477829896
  4. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 102-103.
  5. Thompson, Juliet. The Diary of Juliet Thompson. Edited by Marzieh Gail. 1st ed. 1947. Reprint, Los Angeles: Kalimát Press, 1983, 324. https://archive.org/details/diaryofjuliettho0000thom/page/324/mode/2up.
  6. ’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=4#section97

239 Days in America, Day 62: June 11, 1912 | New York

Along the Color Line 1

[T]he main story in Du Bois’s [The Crisis] magazine in June was the coverage of the Fourth Annual Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, which had taken place April 28–30, in Chicago. It was, he wrote, “one of the most significant meetings ever held in the defense of the rights of colored Americans.”

“Many striking personalities were seen and felt in the gatherings,” Du Bois wrote, “first of all Jane Addams — calm, sweet and so absolutely fearless when she sees the right.” The diversity of the closing session, on the last evening, especially impressed him. It was, he said, “a scene which one would travel far to see.” Not only did a Jewish rabbi preside, but three dynamic speakers shared the stage: a Southern white man, the head of a colored settlement, and “a cultivated colored woman who in quiet tones told of the dynamiting of her own home.”

“As opening and climax to this remarkable gathering came a speech of Abdul Baha and a farewell from Julius Rosenwald. Small wonder that a thousand disappointed people were unable to get even standing room in the hall.”

Of the dozens of speeches given at the conference, Du Bois chose to print just three. One of them was by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. He had spoken for about fifteen minutes in front of the crowd jammed into Handel Hall at 40 Randolph Street in the Loop area of downtown. He had begun by quoting the Old Testament: “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” “Let us find out,” he proposed, “just where and how he is the image and likeness of the Lord, and what is the standard or criterion whereby he can be measured.” 2

Talk at Open Committee Meeting, Home of Mr. and Mrs. Edward B. Kinney, 780 West End Avenue, New York 3

It is my hope that the meetings of the Bahá’í Assembly in New York shall become like meetings of the Supreme Concourse. When you assemble, you must reflect the lights of the heavenly Kingdom. Let your hearts be as mirrors in which the radiance of the Sun of Reality is visible. Each bosom must be a telegraph station—one terminus of the wire attached to the soul, the other fixed in the Supreme Concourse—so that inspiration may descend from the Kingdom of Abhá and questions of reality be discussed. Then opinions will coincide with truth; day by day there will be progression, and the meetings will become more radiant and spiritual. This attainment is conditioned upon unity and agreement. The more perfect the love and agreement, the more the divine confirmations and assistance of the Blessed Perfection will descend. May this prove to be a divine meeting, and may boundless bestowals come down upon you. Strive with all your hearts and with the very power of life that unity and love may continually increase. In discussions look toward the reality without being self-opinionated. Let no one assert and insist upon his own mere opinion; nay, rather, let each investigate reality with the greatest love and fellowship. Consult upon every matter, and when one presents the point of view of reality itself, that shall be acceptable to all. Then will spiritual unity increase among you, individual illumination will be greater, happiness will be more abundant, and you will draw nearer and nearer to the Kingdom of God.

New York, Philadelphia, New York 4

On June 11, He spoke with the friends several times and, at one session, told them of His recent trip:

We have just returned from a visit to Philadelphia, spending two nights there and speaking in two large churches. The weather proved unpleasant and affected my health. The purpose in these movements here and there is a single purpose—it is to spread the light of truth in this dark world. On account of my age it is difficult to journey. Sometimes the difficulties are arduous, but out of love for the friends of God and with desire to sacrifice myself in the pathway of God, I bear them in gladness. The purpose is the result which is accomplished—love and unity among mankind. For the world is dark with discord and selfishness, hearts are negligent, souls are bereft of God and His heavenly bestowals. Man is submerged in the affairs of this world. His aims, objects and attainments are mortal, whereas God desires for him immortal accomplishments. In his heart there is no thought of God. He has sacrificed his portion and birthright of divine spirituality. Desire and passion, like two unmanageable horses, have wrested the reins of control from him and are galloping madly in the wilderness. This is the cause of the degradation of the world of humanity. This is the cause of its retrogression into the appetites and passions of the animal kingdom. Instead of divine advancement we find sensual captivity and debasement of heavenly virtues of the soul. By devotion to the carnal, mortal world human susceptibilities sink to the level of animalism. 5

I have come to this country in the advanced years of my life, undergoing difficulties of health and climate because of excessive love for the friends of God. It is my wish that they may be assisted to become servants of the heavenly Kingdom, captives in the service of the will of God. This captivity is freedom; this sacrifice is glorification; this labor is reward; this need is bestowal. For service in love for mankind is unity with God. He who serves has already entered the Kingdom and is seated at the right hand of his Lord. 6

Tuesday, June 11, 1912

After the morning obligatory prayers and meditation, many came to see ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Those with special petitions and seekers visited Him in His room. He then went into the sitting room and spoke to the visitors regarding the insincere faith and blind imitation of people of various religions and their branches, about the ultimate purpose of the Prophets and the penetrating influence of the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh. Before the meeting ended He was asked how to reconcile two contradictory statements in the writings: that detachment from worldly affairs is enjoined and that it is incumbent upon all to engage in a trade or profession. ‘Are not these commandments contradictory?’ The Master replied:

“In the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh it is obligatory for the individual to engage in a trade or profession. For instance, I know mat weaving and you know another trade. The service we perform is equivalent to worship if we perform it with truth and trustworthiness; it is a cause of human advancement. If the heart is not bound and attached to the world, if it is unaffected by the vicissitudes of life, unhampered by worldly wealth from serving humanity and not dejected because of poverty, then this is a human perfection. Otherwise, to profess generosity if one is poor, or justice when one is powerless to extend it, is easy enough, but this will not establish one’s spiritual education and awareness.”

Another asked that if, after the Master left, some of the believers considered themselves superior to others, how they could be known. The Master replied:

“I have already spoken about this matter. You should, according to the saying of Christ, recognize them by their deeds. Those who relate themselves to me will be known by their deeds.” 7

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

Mahmud: June 11 – Witnessing His pure sacrifice

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

June 11, 1912


  1. Menon, Jonathan. “Along the Color Line.” 239 Days in America, 12 June 2012, https://239days.com/2012/06/11/along-the-color-line/.
  2. 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, 69. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/4#040767714.
  3. 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, 183. [https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/12#110529474].
  4. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 88.
  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, 183-184. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/14#303597010.
  6. 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, 186. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/14#693882078.
  7. ’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=4#section79