239 Days in America, Day 221: November 17, 1912 | New York

An Ethos for a New Age 1

“ALL CREATED THINGS HAVE their degree, or stage, of maturity,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá explained. “That which was applicable to human needs during the early history of the race, could neither meet nor satisfy the demands of this day and period of newness and consummation.”

It was the evening of November 17, 1912. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was delivering one of his final public talks in America. The venue was Genealogical Hall, a stately four-story brownstone at 226 West 58th Street on the southern fringe of Central Park in the heart of Manhattan. It was home to the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, an organization devoted to preserving family histories in the region, dating back to the colonial period. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá didn’t address the Society: it was an event arranged by New York’s Bahá’ís. Nevertheless, he framed his talk around the idea of the genealogy of the human family.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá argued that just as an individual moves through various milestones in life, so too does humanity as a whole. Humankind, he explained, had passed through its childhood and youth, and had “entered its long presaged period of maturity, the evidences of which are everywhere visible and apparent.”

Sunday, November 17, 1912 2

Early in the morning ‘Abdu’l-Bahá voiced His thankfulness to the Abhá Kingdom, saying:

“Praise be to God! His divine help and assistance have enveloped us and the confirmations of the Abhá Kingdom have surrounded us. The Cause of God has reached every ear and the divine fragrances have spread throughout all regions. The East and the West are illumined with the light of the most great guidance. The foundation of the Cause of God is firmly and securely established. The friends of the Blessed Beauty have risen in faithfulness and occupied themselves in proclaiming the Word of God. The foundation of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár is laid. I have no further desire. I wish to reach Haifa and to settle again in the Holy Land. It is now your turn to serve, to render your servitude to the holy threshold. Occupy yourselves day and night in the diffusion of the divine fragrances. All confirmations encircle those who are engaged in rendering services to the court of oneness. Nothing avails except servitude to the Blessed Beauty. If, after the ascension of the Blessed Beauty, I had not risen in servitude to Him, these confirmations would not have descended.”

After a short pause, He continued:

“Had there not been this servitude, constancy and confirmation the affairs would have fallen into the hands of the ambitious and the standard of the Cause would have fallen forever. Unseemly matters would have ensued. The story of Yahyá would have been repeated. Had it not been for the firmness and power of the Ancient Beauty, the mainstay of the Cause would have fallen apart. Nothing would have been witnessed but the propagation of selfish desires and, apart from these, nothing would have been witnessed but the propagation of selfish desires and, apart from these, nothing would have remained but some words and phrases.”

Today He mentioned the passing of Áqá Ridá Ghánad Muhájir and spoke about the greatness of his station, saying, ‘I must go myself to the Holy Land to build his effulgent tomb with my own hands and read there a prayer of visitation.’

From morning until the afternoon every room of the Master’s residence was full of people. All were recipients of His everlasting bounties and bathed in the surging waves of the love of God.

This evening the Master spoke to a gathering of the friends regarding the maturity and perfection of the world and gave an account of Bahá’u’lláh. He concluded His address with the chanting of a prayer in a melodious voice, immersing the hearts in a sea of ecstasy and rapture. Many new people attended the meeting and were impressed and moved by the blessings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. They remained in His presence until He left, expressing their sincerity and reverence.

Talk at Genealogical Hall, 252 West Fifty-eighth Street, New York 3

Bahá’u’lláh, the Sun of Truth, has dawned from the horizon of the Orient, flooding all regions with the light and life which will never pass away. His teachings, which embody the divine spirit of the age and are applicable to this period of maturity in the life of the human world, are:

The oneness of the world of humanity

The protection and guidance of the Holy Spirit

The foundation of all religion is one

Religion must be the cause of unity

Religion must accord with science and reason

Independent investigation of truth

Equality between men and women

The abandoning of all prejudices among mankind

Universal peace

Universal education

A universal language

Solution of the economic problem

An international tribunal.

Everyone who truly seeks and justly reflects will admit that the teachings of the present day emanating from mere human sources and authority are the cause of difficulty and disagreement amongst mankind, the very destroyers of humanity, whereas the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh are the very healing of the sick world, the remedy for every need and condition. In them may be found the realization of every desire and aspiration, the cause of the happiness of the world of humanity, the stimulus and illumination of mentality, the impulse for advancement and uplift, the basis of unity for all nations, the fountain source of love amongst mankind, the center of agreement, the means of peace and harmony, the one bond which will unite the East and the West.

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

“Nothing avails except servitude to the Blessed Beauty”

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

November 17, 1912


  1. Sockett, Robert. “An Ethos for a New Age.” 239 Days in America, 17 Nov. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/11/17/an-ethos-for-a-new-age/.
  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=9#section239
  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, 440. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/32#118365223

239 Days in America, Day 215: November 11, 1912 | Baltimore

November 11, 1912: The Week Ahead 1

‘ABDU’L-BAHÁ LEFT THE nation’s capital at 9 a.m. this morning on a train bound for Baltimore, arriving at Camden Station shortly afterward. He and his party checked into the Hotel Rennert to rest before making their way to Baltimore’s First Unitarian Church where he is scheduled to speak later today. He will step back onto his train at 3 p.m. for the final leg of his long eastern trip.

In the week ahead, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá returns to New York after almost four months away, the Progressive Movement reaches a triumphant climax with Woodrow Wilson’s aggressive reform agenda, and, New York’s first big Mafia trial comes to a close, after filling the city’s newspapers with sensational gangland stories for two months.

The Journey East: Chicago, Cincinnati, Washington, D.C., Baltimore 2

Abdu’l-Bahá traveled to Baltimore on Monday, November 11, went to a hotel, granted interviews to the press, spoke at a Unitarian Church, and went for a late breakfast at the Struvens’ home.

He wired the friends in Philadelphia, who had been asking Him to come, that His train would be passing through their city and that He would see them at the station, They were on the platform when He arrived and rushed joyously to Him. Most got on the train and rode with Him to the next station, They were joyful, enthusiastic, and departed weeping, a sight which so amazed the other people on the train that they came to find out who these people were. Abdu’l-Bahá talked to them and, at their request, gave them the addresses of Bahá’ís whom they could ask for further information.

Monday, November 11, 1912 3

The believers were so eager to see ‘Abdu’l-Bahá that they began to arrive at His residence from early morning. Their hearts were burning with the fire of separation and each craved His assistance and bestowals.

The believers had already assembled when ‘Abdu’l-Bahá arrived at the railway station at 9:00 a.m. To the amazement of onlookers, they gathered around Him, their hearts filled with sorrow and anguish. This happened in every city of America when ‘Abdu’l-Bahá arrived and departed. Onlookers were at a loss to understand how a person from the East in Iranian dress had won the veneration and respect of the men and women of America.

Some of the friends accompanied the Master to Baltimore where He stayed at a hotel. Among the many visitors who came to see Him was a newspaper reporter who was given a detailed discourse on universal peace and the ability of the American people and government to enforce it. The Master’s words were noted down for publication.

Later, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spoke at the Unitarian Church of Baltimore regarding the oneness of the world of man, the immutability of the principles of the divine religions and the changing of the social laws according to the demands of the time.

When ‘Abdu’l-Bahá left the church He went to lunch at the home of Mr [Howard] and Mrs [Hebe] Struven. The Baltimore believers were overjoyed to see their Master. In one of His talks to the friends He said:

“Praise be to God! I have spent time with you in utmost happiness. I am very pleased with you and will not forget you. I pray that you may daily become more illumined and more spiritual. When I reach the Holy Land, I shall lay my head on the threshold of the Blessed Shrine and, weeping, I shall supplicate on your behalf for assistance and heavenly favors, eternal honor and everlasting joy.”

The Master and the friends then left for the station in two automobiles. On the way ‘Abdu’l-Bahá embraced Mr Struvens as a kind father embraces a son and with the utmost kindness thanked him for his many services to the Cause in such glowing terms that the others were astonished.

A message from the friends in Philadelphia was relayed to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá expressing their hope and expectation that since it was on His way, He might be able stop in their city. He replied, ‘We have been there once. Now we have neither time nor possibility. Send them a telegram saying that they may come to the station so that we can meet for a few minutes.’

At 6:00 p.m. when the train reached the station, the friends, both men and women, were on the platform. When the train stopped, they immediately rushed towards the Master’s seat and fell upon His feet, fulfilling their hearts’ desire. With great eagerness and enthusiasm, many of them accompanied the Master to the next station, honored to be in His presence. They begged His assistance that they might render service to the Cause of God and then, weeping, left Him. When the other passengers saw these 30 or so friends from Philadelphia hovering near the Master with such heartfelt emotions, their curiosity to know more was aroused. Fascinated by His majesty and grandeur, they surrounded the Master to hear explanations of the divine teachings. They were transformed and attracted to the teachings and asked for the addresses of the friends and assemblies. Teaching the Cause of the God and guiding the people along the road gives so much joy and excitement that there are no words to describe it.

At about 1:00 a.m. the city of New York was once more graced with the presence of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. He stayed at the same house which had previously been rented at His instruction. Thus for the second time this house became the court of the Center of the Covenant and the threshold of bounty and favor. The owners of the house and their relatives had joined the group of sincere and devoted believers and were counted among the lovers of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.

10 November 1912, Talk at 1901 Eighteenth Street, NW, Washington, D. C. 4

I am greatly pleased with the friends in Washington and experience real happiness in meeting them. Likewise, I am pleased with the friends from Baltimore, for I have observed that their hearts are attracted to the love of Bahá’u’lláh. Their vision is extended toward the Kingdom of Bahá. Their spirits are rejoicing in the glad tidings of Abhá. Verily, they are servants of the Cause of God. All are engaged in service, and the perfection of their desire is to enter into the Kingdom of Abhá and draw near unto God. For that reason I am very happy and well pleased with them. I pray for you all. May the favors of the Blessed Beauty, Bahá’u’lláh, encompass you, and may the lights of the Sun of Reality be your illumination. May you all become united and assured. May you serve the Cause of God as one single, united force. I give you the glad tidings that the confirmations of God will descend upon you. Be ye assured of this. Ye will become illumined. Ye will become conquerors.

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

Chicago believers gathered at the train station to see the Master off

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

November 11, 1912


  1. Menon, Jonathan. “November 11, 1912: The Week Ahead.” 239 Days in America, 11 Nov. 2012, http://stagingtwo39.wpengine.com/2012/11/11/november-11-1912-the-week-ahead/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 183-184.
  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=9#section233
  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, 428. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/31#309517566

239 Days in America, Day 187: October 14, 1912 | San Francisco

October 14, 1912: The Week Ahead 1

THE PAST SEVEN DAYS stand out as some of the most eventful of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s entire trip to America. He argued for a novel, scientific basis for peace in front of two thousand at Stanford University in Palo Alto, tackled the subject of evolution at the Open Forum in San Francisco, and engaged Rabbi Martin A. Meyer’s Reform Jewish congregation at the Temple Emanu-El by delivering his longest address in America. Over this weekend he is spending three nights in the countryside, at the palatial estate of Phoebe Hearst in nearby Pleasanton.

In the week ahead we will hear Americans’ earliest impressions of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, during the 1898 pilgrimage to ‘Akká that Mrs. Hearst organized, and we will follow ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to Los Angeles as he pays his respects to one of the first Americans ever to reach out to him across the ocean, the late Thornton Chase.

California 2

On Monday afternoon [October 14] He went with the Persian friends to the estate of Phoebe Hearst, at her invitation, and remained for two nights. Mahmúd observed, “Some of the relatives of the lady were also present. As there were people of different dispositions, the discourses of the Beloved were brief and full of wisdom according to the exigencies of the occasion. Many important ideas were couched in condensed sentences so that they made the maximum of effect with the minimum of words.”

Monday, October 14, 1912 3

In the morning ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spoke about the election of the president of the republic. He said:

“The president must be a man who does not insistently seek the presidency. He should be a person free from all thoughts of name and rank; rather, he should say, ‘I am unworthy and incapable of this position and cannot bear this great burden.’ Such persons deserve the presidency. If the object is to promote the public good, then the president must be a well-wisher of all and not a self-seeking person. If the object, however, is to promote personal interests, then such a position will be injurious to humanity and not beneficial to the public.”

He then went to lunch. At the request of those present at the table the Master chanted the following prayer:

“He is God! Thou seest us, O my God, gathered around this table, praising Thy bounty, with our gaze set upon Thy Kingdom. O Lord! Send down upon us Thy heavenly food and confer upon us Thy blessing. Thou art verily the Bestower, the Merciful, the Compassionate.”

The Master then spoke extensively on the history of some famous people.

In the afternoon He went for an automobile ride through valleys, hills and meadows as far as the breakwater. When He returned to the house, the Master rested in the garden on special chairs brought for Him and the others and gave a detailed history of the life and teachings of the Blessed Beauty.

At the dinner table He spoke of His gratitude for the blessings of God and the importance of assisting the weak and poor. He was asked, ‘How is it that the desires of some people are achieved while others are not?’ The gist of the Master’s response was:

“What conforms with divine decree will be realized. In addition, good intentions and sound thoughts attract confirmations. The desires of human beings are endless. No matter what level a human being reaches, he can still attain higher ones, so he is always making effort and desiring more. He can never find peace but through effort and resignation, so that, notwithstanding all efforts in worldly affairs, the human heart remains free and happy. He neither becomes proud on attaining wealth and position nor becomes dejected on losing them. This station can be attained only through the power of faith.”

Such explanations and exhortations repeated at every meeting were warnings and reminders for these prominent people. Day by day their humility and sincerity increased owing to His presence.

12 October 1912, Talk at Temple Emmanu-El, 450 Sutter Street, San Francisco, California 4

There is another and more significant aspect to this religious impulse and impetus. The children of Israel were in bondage and captivity in the land of Egypt four hundred years. They were in an extreme state of degradation and slavery under the tyranny and oppression of the Egyptians. While they were in the condition of abject poverty, in the lowest degree of abasement, ignorance and servility, Moses suddenly appeared among them. Although He was but a shepherd, such majesty, grandeur and efficiency became manifest in Him through the power of religion that His influence continues to this day. His Prophethood was established throughout the land, and the law of His Word became the foundation of the laws of the nations. This unique Personage, single and alone, rescued the children of Israel from bondage through the power of religious training and discipline. He led them to the Holy Land and founded there a great civilization which has become permanent and renowned and under which these people attained the highest degree of honor and glory. He freed them from bondage and captivity. He imbued them with qualities of progressiveness and capability. They proved to be a civilizing people with instincts toward education and scholastic attainment. Their philosophy became renowned; their industries were celebrated throughout the nations. In all lines of advancement which characterize a progressive people they achieved distinction. In the splendor of the reign of Solomon their sciences and arts advanced to such a degree that even the Greek philosophers journeyed to Jerusalem to sit at the feet of the Hebrew sages and acquire the basis of Israelitish law. According to eastern history this is an established fact. Even Socrates visited the Jewish doctors in the Holy Land, consorting with them and discussing the principles and basis of their religious belief. After his return to Greece he formulated his philosophical teaching of divine unity and advanced his belief in the immortality of the spirit beyond the dissolution of the body. Without doubt, Socrates absorbed these verities from the wise men of the Jews with whom he came in contact. Hippocrates and other philosophers of the Greeks likewise visited Palestine and acquired wisdom from the Jewish prophets, studying the basis of ethics and morality, returning to their country with contributions which have made Greece famous.

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

Presidential election

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

October 14, 1912


  1. Sockett, Robert. “October 14, 1912: The Week Ahead.” 239 Days in America, 14 Oct. 2012, http://stagingtwo39.wpengine.com/2012/10/14/october-14-1912-the-week-ahead/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 168.
  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=8#section205
  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, 362-363. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/27#004021410

239 Days in America, Day 166: September 23, 1912 | Denver

September 23, 1912: The Week Ahead 1

DURING THE PAST WEEK, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá traveled from Chicago to Minneapolis, then continued westward to Omaha, Nebraska, and finally to nearby Lincoln, where he visited the family of William Jennings Bryan.

In the week ahead: ‘Abdu’l-Bahá arrives in Denver, Colorado, where he addresses the congregation at the Divine Science Church, a center of the New Thought Movement. While in Denver, news reaches him of a much-anticipated marriage that has taken place in New York City. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá then continues his trip west, making stops in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, and Salt Lake City, Utah.

Minnesota, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah 2

At 2:00 P.M. on Monday, September 23, as ‘Abdu’l-Bahá arrived at the Denver station, He was greeted by Mr. and Mrs. Ashton and other friends and went to the Shirley Hotel. He asked reports who came to His third floor room to return a short time later, which they did, at 5:00 P.M.

At 8:00 P.M. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá went to the home of Mrs. Sidney Roberts and spoke with the friends. He also accepted an invitation to speak in a church and asked the others who wished interviews to visit the hotel the next morning.

September 23, 1912 3

At eight in the evening He went to the home of Mrs [Sidney] Roberts where friends both old and new had gathered. There were so many people that they were seen standing as far the front entrance. He spoke to them about the power of the Abhá Kingdom which had enabled Him to travel far in spite of His weak constitution and which had gathered the friends in the assemblies of the love of God. After His talk He bestowed His special blessing on each person. As the Master was leaving the meeting, the pastor of the Church of Divine Science approached Him with the utmost humility and invited Him to speak at his church. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá accepted. Since so many people wished to have an interview with Him, He announced that during the few days He would be in Denver, He would see anyone who would call upon Him at the hotel between nine and twelve in the morning.

Regarding His health, He said:

“In the early stages of our long journey to California my health was affected. But as the journey was made for God and to diffuse the divine fragrances, my longstanding indisposition has been cured without any medicine. The confirmations of Abhá are descending from all sides.”

He added:

“It is written in the Hadíth [Islamic traditions] that cities shall draw nearer to each other. Besides spiritual nearness and communications between the cities of the hearts and friendships between diverse people in the promised Day, how physically close have the cities and countries also become. Truly, if not for railroads and the power of steam, how could these long distances be traversed with such ease? This is one of the miracles of this promised century of our current age.”

20 September 1912, Talk at Home of Dr. and Mrs. Clement Woolson, 870 Laurel Avenue, St. Paul, Minnesota 4

It is clearly evident that while man possesses powers in common with the animal, he is distinguished from the animal by intellectual attainment, spiritual perception, the acquisition of virtues, capacity to receive the bestowals of Divinity, lordly bounty and emanations of heavenly mercy. This is the adornment of man, his honor and sublimity. Humanity must strive toward this supreme station. Christ has interpreted this station as the second birth. Man is first born from a world of darkness, the matrix of the mother, into this physical world of light. In the dark world from whence he came he had no knowledge of the virtues of this existence. He has been liberated from a condition of darkness and brought into a new and spacious realm where there is sunlight, the stars are shining, the moon sheds its radiance, there are beautiful views, gardens of roses, fruits and all the blessings of the present world. How did he attain these blessings? Through the agency of birth from the mother. Just as man has been physically born into this world, he may be reborn from the realm and matrix of nature, for the realm of nature is a condition of animalism, darkness and defect. In this second birth he attains the world of the Kingdom. There he witnesses and realizes that the world of nature is a world of gloom, whereas the Kingdom is a world of radiance; the world of nature is a world of defects, the Kingdom is a realm of perfection; the world of nature is a world without enlightenment, the Kingdom of spiritual humanity is a heaven of illumination. Great discoveries and revelations are now possible for him; he has attained the reality of perception; his circle of understanding is illimitably widened; he views the realities of creation, comprehends the divine bounties and unseals the mystery of phenomena. This is the station which Christ has interpreted as the second birth. He says that just as ye were physically born from the mother into this world, ye must be born again from the mother world of nature into the life of the divine Kingdom. May you all attain this second, spiritual birth. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”

I pray that the confirmation of God may descend upon you. May you all be born again from this mortal world into the realm of the Kingdom. May you clearly witness the signs of God, sense the virtues of the divine, attain the eternal bounties and perceive the reality of everlasting life.

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

Arriving in Denver, resting for a few hours and meeting with reporters, friends and seekers

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

September 23, 1912


  1. Sockett, Robert. “September 23, 1912: The Week Ahead.” 239 Days in America, 23 Sept. 2012, http://stagingtwo39.wpengine.com/2012/09/23/september-23-1912-the-week-ahead/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 152.
  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#section183
  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, 332-333. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/25#356886008

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