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 86: July 05, 1912 | New York

The Lesson of the Titanic 1

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, who had been offered tickets on the Titanic, had spoken about the tragedy in Washington just as the Senate hearings began. “Although such an event is indeed regrettable,” he said, “we must realize that everything which happens is due to some wisdom.” He was consoled, he noted, “by the realization that the worlds of God are infinite . . .”

Like Senator [Isidor] Rayner, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá perceived a deeper meaning in the Titanic disaster. “We are living in a day of reliance upon material conditions,” he stated. “Men imagine that the great size and strength of a ship, the perfection of machinery or the skill of a navigator will ensure safety, but these disasters sometimes take place that men may know that God is the real Protector.”

Yet ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was also pragmatic. “Let no one imagine that these words imply that man should not be thorough and careful in his undertakings,” he said. “[H]e must provide and surround himself with all that scientific skill can produce. He must be deliberate, thoughtful and thorough in his purposes, build the best ship and provide the most experienced captain; yet, withal, let him rely upon God and consider God as the one Keeper.”

Friday, July 5, 1912 2

Some Tablets were revealed for friends in California, consoling them because of their separation from Him since He was not traveling to that state at the present time. Most of the friends on the West Coast of America had not yet had the honor to see Him. When they learned of His intention, they were saddened and sent telegrams begging Him to visit their state.

Today, at the invitation of Juliet Thompson, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá went to a museum near His house. On the first floor there were statues, figures of animals and a collection of relics of early American civilization. On observing these objects, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said, ‘From these things it appears that America had a great civilization in ancient times.’

In the evening, He spoke to a large number of friends and seekers at His home about detachment from physical desires and the attainment of everlasting life. Everyone was delighted.

5 July 1912, Talk at 309 West Seventy-eighth Street, New York 3

Consider to what a remarkable extent the spirituality of people has been overcome by materialism so that spiritual susceptibility seems to have vanished, divine civilization become decadent, and guidance and knowledge of God no longer remain. All are submerged in the sea of materialism. Although some attend churches and temples of worship and devotion, it is in accordance with the traditions and imitations of their fathers and not for the investigation of reality. For it is evident they have not found reality and are not engaged in its adoration. They are holding to certain imitations which have descended to them from their fathers and ancestors. They have become accustomed to passing a certain length of time in temple worship and conforming to imitations and ceremonies. The proof of this is that the son of every Jewish father becomes a Jew and not a Christian; the son of every Muslim becomes a follower of Islám; the son of every Christian proves to be a Christian; the son of every Zoroastrian is a Zoroastrian, etc. Therefore, religious faith and belief is merely a remnant of blind imitations which have descended through fathers and ancestors. Because this man’s father was a Jew, he considers himself a Jew. Not that he has investigated reality and proved satisfactorily to himself that Judaism is right—nay, rather, he is aware that his forefathers have followed this course; therefore, he has held to it himself.

The purpose of this is to explain that the darkness of imitations encompasses the world. Every nation is holding to its traditional religious forms. The light of reality is obscured. Were these various nations to investigate reality, there is no doubt they would attain to it. As reality is one, all nations would then become as one nation. So long as they adhere to various imitations and are deprived of reality, strife and warfare will continue and rancor and sedition prevail. If they investigate reality, neither enmity nor rancor will remain, and they will attain to the utmost concord among themselves.

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

Revealing Tablets for believers in California

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

July 05, 1912


  1. Sockett, Robert. “The Lesson of the Titanic.” 239 Days in America, 5 July 2012, https://239days.com/2012/07/05/the-lesson-of-the-titanic/.
  2. ’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#section103
  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, 221. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/16#695281489

239 Days in America, Day 50: May 30, 1912 | New York

A Portrait in Moments 1

Many afternoons ‘Abdu’l-Bahá went for a stroll in Riverside Park on the Hudson River. He explained: “When I sleep on the grass, I obtain relief from exhaustion . . . .” Seeing him at a small gathering in Cleveland, a reporter noted: “There was no churchy pomp in his manner.” He was also known to get up early to bake bread, and held dinner parties for which he acted as both chef and host.

Then there were cars. Agnes Parsons recounts the story of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spotting an electric motor car across a busy street in Washington, and sending Mason Remey over with the directive “find out price.” Similar enthusiasm was directed at trains and trams, though ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had less affection for sea travel: the rollicking waves he experienced on the Cedric made his stomach queasy.

Yet lest this convey the impression of a man of leisure, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá slept no more than four or five hours each night. Howard Colby Ives recalls: “From five o’clock in the morning frequently until long after midnight He was actively engaged in service . . . .” Beyond ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s busy schedule of public talks and private meetings, he was also directing the affairs of an international community. During his 7 a.m. breakfast and 10 p.m. dinner each day he responded to a perpetual stream of letters and cablegrams.

New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts 2

On Thursday, May 30, as Ethel Barrymore announced her intention to play in vaudeville, and the bubonic plague broke out in Hong Kong, Abdu’l-Bahá spoke at the Theosophical Lodge and at the University of New York.

Talk at Theosophical Lodge, Broadway and Seventy-ninth Street, New York 3

I am greatly pleased with these expressions of kindly feeling and evidences of spiritual susceptibility. Tonight I am very happy in the realization that our aims and purposes are the same, our desires and longings are one. This is a reflection and evidence of the oneness of the world of humanity and the intention toward accomplishment of the Most Great Peace. Therefore, we are united in will and purpose. In the world of existence there are no greater questions than these. Oneness of the world of humanity ensures the glorification of man. International peace is the assurance of the welfare of all humankind. There are no greater motives and purposes in the human soul. As we are agreed upon them, the certainty of unity and concord between Bahá’ís and Theosophists is most hopeful. Their purposes are one, their desires one, and spiritual susceptibilities are common to both. Their attention is devoted to the divine Kingdom; they partake alike of its bounty.

Thursday, May 30, 1912 4

After meeting with some of the friends and a few seekers, the Master went to a hall at the University of New York and gave an address on scientific questions and divine philosophy. His talk influenced many prominent people, all of whom were deeply moved and fascinated. Seeing the influence of the Cause in these sorts of large gatherings, the Bahá’ís offered thanks and gratitude for the confirmations of the Abhá Kingdom.

During this time the Master occupied Himself by writing Tablets in response to questions from both the Eastern and the Western friends. Today He gave an account of the lives of Varqá and Rúhu’lláh. He showed His great kindness to the sons of this martyr in the path of God, Mírzá Azíz’u’lláh Khán and Mírzá Valíyu’lláh Khán. The Master then told the friends about some of the precepts of the Cause. During these discourses, He said often:

“I am the interpreter of the Writings of the Blessed Beauty, as explicitly designated by the Supreme Pen. All must obey. All matters pertaining to the Faith must be referred to the authorized interpreter. In the future all must turn to the divine House of Justice.”

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

Mahmud: May 30 – Written communications with friends in East and West

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

May 30, 1912


  1. Sockett, Robert. “A Portrait in Moments.” 239 Days in America, 30 May 2012, https://239days.com/2012/05/30/a-day-in-the-life/.
  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, 156. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/12#760155138.
  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#section67.