239 Days in America, Day 90: July 09, 1912 | New York

The Jewish Watchman and the Blue Whale 1

THE BELLY OF THE blue whale was lined with deep corrugations, like a field that had just been plowed. It hung from the ceiling of the Mammal Gallery in the American Natural History Museum in New York, which ‘Abdu’l-Bahá visited on July 9, 1912.

It was seventy-six feet long and weighed four tons. It wasn’t a real blue whale but a model of one, the largest in the country. It had taken eight months to build in 1907; its skin was papier-mâché.

The sight of the whale made ‘Abdu’l-Bahá laugh. “He could hold seventy Jonahs!” he declared.

The walk to the museum from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s house, at 309 West 78th Street, had taken about twenty-five minutes. But the heat that day was oppressive, and he sat down on a stone ledge to rest before traversing the last half block to the museum’s main door. Juliet Thompson, who accompanied him, looked for a closer entrance. She tried the employee entrance, but it was locked. Then a shrill whistle stopped her in her tracks.

She turned around to face an old, bent little man with a kind face. He was the watchman of the museum grounds, and he was Jewish. She pointed to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá: “I must find a nearer door than the main one. See Who is sitting on that ledge! I must find it for Him.” The watchman turned and looked at ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.

“Is he a Jew?” he asked.

“A descendant of Abraham.”

“Ask Him to come to me,” the watchman said.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Juliet Thompson, and the Persian attendants followed the watchman, who showed them a shortcut across the grass. After seeing the blue whale and viewing a few more exhibits, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá walked outside and sat on the grass under the shade of a birch tree.

The watchman stole up beside Juliet. “Who is He?” he asked. “He looks like such a great man.”

“He is ‘Abdu’l-Bahá of Persia,” she replied, “and He has been a great Sufferer because of His work for the real Brotherhood of Man, the uniting of all the races and nations.”

New York City 2

He [‘Abdu’l-Bahá] had asked Lua Getsinger to go to California to proclaim the Covenant; but she, eager to be with Him, delayed going and finally walked in poison ivy during the Unity Feast to prevent her departure. Abdu’l-Bahá sent her some fruit, and she was quickly cured. Again He directed her to go, and she finally did.

Tuesday, July 9, 1912 3

A number of friends were waiting for ‘Abdu’l-Bahá when He arrived with a paper from Mírzá Abu’l-Fadl in His hand. He gave it to us and said, ‘Read it. It is very interesting.’ It was an answer to criticisms of one Siyyid ‘Abdu’lláh, an enemy of the Cause. These criticisms are themselves more proof of the greatness of the Center of the Covenant than are the praises of the friends. Mírzá Abu’l-Fadl has recorded the very words of this critic in his book.

Although that Siyyid had embraced Christianity, thus retrogressing, he appeals in his pamphlet to the nationalities of the world, even the Zoroastrians and Jews, to cooperate with him in his opposition to the Bahá’í Faith. The English press of Cairo published his pamphlet in the month of Naisan 1912. In his pamphlet, he attributes the success of the Cause to the virtues and perfections of the Center of the Covenant. Below is a passage from the second chapter of his pamphlet:

“And when we reflect upon his [the Master’s] work and the work of his father, we find a great difference between the two. The foundation laid down by Bahá’u’lláh did not rise except very little. It was not even apparent to the eyes of outsiders. But what has been built upon it by ‘Abbás [’Abdu’l-Bahá] since the time of the passing of his father, which does not exceed twenty years, is really striking. We see millions of people of various religions and diverse denominations such as Muslims, Christians, heathens, Buddhists and Hindus drawn and attracted to His Cause from such remote countries as America, Caucasia, Russia, Great Britain and the shore of India.”

In the fifth chapter, he wrote:

“What vast genius, striking intelligence, consummate opulence and tried virtue has enabled ‘Abbás Effendi to attract multitudes of people from diverse denominations and languages? Even this month he received hundreds of letters from his American friends, supplicating him to visit them. They sent 1,000 guineas to defray the expenses of his journey. He granted their request as he had promised them last year, but sent back their guineas with thanks and apology, saying that it was not his custom to accept such things. Consider this great opulence which was related to me by one of his followers and also spoken of by some Egyptian papers. Look to this virtue and piety which is the cause of love and affection as is said by our ancestor, the author of Islamic law: ‘Be indifferent to what the people possess and the people will love you.’”

At the table the Master read this paper and smiled. He remarked that according to the words of the Qur’án, the deniers said to the Messenger of God, ‘Verily, Thou art an insane one.’ But now, according to the words of the deniers of the Cause, ‘vast genius, striking intelligence, consummate opulence, tried virtue’ and the majesty of the Center of the Covenant have become a cause for the attraction of hearts. The preeminence and power of the Cause is established even by the words of its enemies. Today the services of Mírzá Abu’l-Fadl were mentioned repeatedly by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.

Talk at 309 West Seventy-eighth Street, New York, 6 July 1912 4

You must come into the knowledge of the divine Manifestations and Their teachings through proofs and evidences. You must unseal the mysteries of the supreme Kingdom and become capable of discovering the inner realities of things. Then shall you be the manifestations of the mercy of God and true believers, firm and steadfast in the Cause of God.

Praise be to God! The door of divine knowledge has been opened by Bahá’u’lláh, for He has laid the foundation whereby man may become acquainted with the verities of heaven and earth and has bestowed the utmost confirmation in this day. He is our Teacher and Adviser; He is our Seer and the One clement toward us. He has prepared His gifts and vouchsafed His bounties, revealed every admonition and behest, prepared for us the means of eternal glory, breathed upon us the life-quickening breaths of the Holy Spirit, opened before our faces the doors of the paradise of Abhá and caused the lights of the Sun of Truth to shine upon us. The clouds of mercy have poured down their precious rain. The sea of favor is swelling and surging toward us.

The spiritual springtime has come. Infinite bounties and graces have appeared. What bestowal is greater than this? We must appreciate the divine generosity and act in accordance with the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh so that all good may be stored up for us and in both worlds we shall become precious and acceptable to God, attain to everlasting blessings, taste the delicacy of the love of God, find the sweetness of the knowledge of God, perceive the heavenly bestowal and witness the power of the Holy Spirit.

This is my advice, and this is my admonition.

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

The Master and the museum watchman

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

July 09, 1912


  1. Jones, Caitlin Shayda. “The Jewish Watchman and the Blue Whale.” 239 Days in America, 9 July 2012, https://239days.com/2012/07/09/abdul-baha-jewish-watchman-blue-whale/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 109.
  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#section107
  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, 227-228. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/16#756656705

239 Days in America, Day 63: June 12, 1912 | New York

The Handsomest Young Man in Baghdad 1

“IF ANYONE HAS NOT yet met me,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said, “or if anyone has some urgent business, call them. All others I will meet in the public gatherings because I have no time and it is impossible to see everyone individually.” It was the morning of June 12, 1912, at 309 West 78th Street in Manhattan, where ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was staying. And he was exhausted.

He was talking with one of his secretaries, Mahmúd. Perhaps polite New York society would have been piqued to encounter such forthrightness from ‘Abdu’l Bahá, but those friends who knew his life story would have understood completely.

When ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was twelve years old — he was known as Abbás then — he began managing the crowds who came to see his father. Bahá’u’lláh had returned to Baghdad from the mountains of Kurdistan in 1856. The family was in exile; as prisoners of the Ottoman Empire they weren’t allowed to leave the city.

On his own door Abbás hung a placard: “Those who come for information may apply within,” it read, but, “those who come only because of curiosity had better stay away.” On his father’s door he hung another. “Those who are searching for God,” it said, “come and come and come.”

Talk at 309 West Seventy-eighth Street, New York 2

He has supplied all the necessities of life although we did not ask for any of these great gifts. With pure mercy and bounty He has prepared this great table. It is a mercy which precedes asking. There is another kind of mercy, which is realized after questioning and supplication. He has bestowed both upon us—without asking and with supplication. He has created us in this radiant century, a century longed for and expected by all the sanctified souls in past periods. It is a blessed century; it is a blessed day. The philosophers of history have agreed that this century is equal to one hundred past centuries. This is true from every standpoint. This is the century of science, inventions, discoveries and universal laws. This is the century of the revelation of the mysteries of God. This is the century of the effulgence of the rays of the Sun of Truth. Therefore, you must render thanks and glorification to God that you were born in this age. Furthermore, you have listened to the call of Bahá’u’lláh. Your nostrils are perfumed with the breezes of the paradise of Abhá. You have caught glimpses of the light from the horizon of the Orient. You were asleep; you are awakened. Your ears are attentive; your hearts are informed. You have acquired the love of God. You have attained to the knowledge of God. This is the most great bestowal of God. This is the breath of the Holy Spirit, and this consists of faith and assurance. This eternal life is the second birth; this is the baptism of the Holy Spirit. God has destined this station for you all. He has prepared this for you. You must appreciate the value of this bounty and engage your time in mentioning and thanking the True One. You must live in the utmost happiness. If any trouble or vicissitude comes into your lives, if your heart is depressed on account of health, livelihood or vocation, let not these things affect you. They should not cause unhappiness, for Bahá’u’lláh has brought you divine happiness. He has prepared heavenly food for you; He has destined eternal bounty for you; He has bestowed everlasting glory upon you. Therefore, these glad tidings should cause you to soar in the atmosphere of joy forever and ever. Render continual thanks unto God so that the confirmations of God may encircle you all.

New York, Philadelphia, New York 3

About that hectic Tuesday, Juliet Thompson wrote on June 12:

“… Yesterday morning I went up early to the mater’s house—that house whose door is open at seven-thirty and kept wide open till midnight …

“… He talked for a long while to the people. But this I could see was pure sacrifice. His vitality seemed gone. At times He could scarcely bring forth the words, yet He gave and gave. When He had finished He hurriedly left the house and went again to “His Garden.” On the way to the bus I met Him returning alone.

“He stopped me, put out His hand and took mine, with indescribable tenderness smiling at me.”

Wednesday, June 12, 1912

As so many people come every day requesting to see ‘Abdu’l-Bahá alone, it is more than the Master can bear in His state of fatigue and exhaustion. Therefore, He instructed us in the morning:

“If anyone has not yet met me, or if anyone has some urgent business, call them. All others I will meet in the public gatherings because I have no time and it is impossible to see everyone individually.”

After seeing a few seekers and settling the affairs of some friends, He came downstairs and delivered a public address on one of the great teachings of Bahá’u’lláh not found in previous dispensations, which is the prohibition of cursing enemies and to pray for their forgiveness.

At another meeting in the afternoon, one of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s discourses was on the importance of spiritual relationship, intellectual affinity and sincere affection. ‘Although the nations and tribes’, He said, ‘have material bonds between them, yet in the world of the heart and soul they are in conflict. But those souls that have close spiritual ties and affinities of the heart are always ready to sacrifice their lives for one another, though they are not outwardly related.’

He also spoke of the greatness of this dispensation:

“In the Shí’í tradition concerning this dispensation it is recorded that knowledge is composed of twenty-seven letters and that the divine messengers of the past from first to last have revealed but two letters; however, when the promised Qá’im comes, He will appear with all twenty-seven.”

“Aside from the true meaning of this passage which pertains to the power and might of the Cause of God, to the revelation of verses and signs, to the solution of divine problems, to the disclosure of the mysteries of the Holy Book and to the spread of knowledge — each of which is a hundred times greater in this mighty revelation than in any previous one — materially, too, all the learned men of this age agree that the advancements in knowledge, the arts, industries and inventions of this century are equal to those of the last fifty centuries, indeed, even greater than that.” 4

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

Mahmud: June 12 – Consoling a poor, grieving little girl

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

June 12, 1912


  1. Knight, Annabel. “The Handsomest Young Man in Baghdad.” 239 Days in America, 12 June 2012, https://239days.com/2012/06/12/the-handsomest-young-man-in-baghdad/.
  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, 188-189. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/14#483017037.
  3. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 89.
  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=4#section80

239 Days in America, Day 51: May 31, 1912 | New York

The Presidential Election Gathers Steam 1

“The 1912 presidential election was a unique moment in the Progressive Era,” writes scholar Brett Flehinger, “because it drew together politicians, social reformers, intellectuals, and economists onto a single stage and produced a many-sided national debate about the future of America’s economic, political, and social structure.” This is the first in a recurring series of features on the political environment of the country in which ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spoke.

New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts 2

On Friday [May 31] the papers announced a waiters’ strike and the death of Wilbur Wright of typhoid fever and stated that future physicians would be hypnotists and psychologists. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá went to Fanwood, New Jersey, where He visited Hoar’s Sanitorium, conducted a morning public meeting, and presented an afternoon address in the Town Hall. The friends entreated Him to stay in the refreshing country air for a few days; but He replied, “‘We have no time for amusement. We must engage ourselves in the service of the Threshold of God.’”.

Talk at Town Hall, Fanwood, New Jersey 3

Is it impossible for us to receive the infinite bounties of God? Is it impossible to attain the virtues of the spiritual world because we are not living in the time of Moses, the period of the prophets or the era of Christ? Those were spiritual cycles. Can we not develop spiritually because we are far from them and are living in a materialistic age? The God of Moses and Jesus is able to bestow the same favors, nay, greater favors upon His people in this day. For example, in past ages He bestowed reason, intelligence and understanding upon His servants. Can we say He is not able to confer His bounties in this century? Would it be just if He sent Moses for the guidance of past nations and entirely neglected those living now? Could it be possible that this present period has been deprived of divine bounties while past ages of tyranny and barbarism received an inexhaustible portion of them? The same merciful God Who bestowed His favors in the past has opened the doors of His Kingdom to us. The rays of His sun are shining; the breath of the Holy Spirit is quickening. That omniscient God still assists and confirms us, illumines our hearts, gladdens our souls and perfumes our nostrils with the fragrances of holiness. Divine wisdom and providence have encircled all and spread the heavenly table before us. We must take a bountiful share of this generous favor.

Friday, May 31, 1912 4

At the request of Mr [William H.] Hoar, the Master visited a sanatorium, visiting with the friends and holding two meetings, one in the morning and the other in the afternoon. In both meetings He proclaimed the Word of God and spoke of the teachings of the Blessed Beauty. Many were attracted to the Divine Voice. As the village of Fanwood is a summer resort and its fields and countryside very green and refreshing, it was very much enjoyed by the Master. But when they pleaded with Him to prolong His stay for a few days, because of the excessive heat and soot in New York, He said: ‘We have no time for amusement and fresh air. We must engage ourselves in service to the Threshold of Oneness.’ The services and devotion of Mr Hoar and his family were much appreciated by the Master and were spoken of frequently at the Holy Threshold.

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

Mahmud: May 31 – “We have no time for amusement …”

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

May 31, 1912


  1. Menon, Jonathan. “The Presidential Election Gathers Steam.” 239 Days in America, 31 May 2012, https://239days.com/2012/05/31/the-presidential-election-of-1912/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 75.
  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, 162. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/12#328662947.
  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=3#section68.