239 Days in America, Day 200: October 27, 1912 | Train Travel

The Home Stretch 1

‘ABDU’L-BAHÁ’S JOURNEY ACROSS America is almost complete. One hundred years ago today he rode the train from Sacramento to Salt Lake City, the first leg of his return trip across the continent. In thirty-nine days he will step aboard the SS Celtic, at the White Star Line piers along the Hudson River near West 18th Street in Manhattan, and sail for Liverpool.

That leaves us less than six weeks to bring to a conclusion all the many threads we have explored in the past 200 days. It’s a race to the finish, and we still have a lot of things to say.

The Journey East: Teaching on the Train 2

That night ‘Abdu’l-Bahá again did not accept the suggestion that they get pullman accommodations, and He and His companions slept in the chair car. The next morning, Sunday, October 27, one of the ladies to whom He had spoken the day before came to say that she accepted the Teaching of Bahá’u’lláh. More people conversed with Him throughout the day. …

Again that night Mahmúd and the others requested ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’ís permission to secure pullman accommodations, and, again, He declined, preferring to sleep in the chair car.

Sunday, October 27, 1912 3

When the Master emerged from the Pullman section of the train to take tea, the Jewish lady returned, saying that she was convinced of the truth of this Cause and that she had accepted the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh.

Today the Master spoke beautifully about the existence of God and other subjects. During a conversation, an individual questioned Him about His purpose in traveling to America. The Master replied:

“I have come to America to raise the standard of universal peace and to promote the unity of mankind. My aim is to create love and harmony among the religions. But some people ask me, ‘Is your country developed? Is it prosperous and has it good trees, sweet fruits, beautiful animals and swift Arabian horses?’ But I speak to them of the trees of the world of existence, of the fruits of human virtues and of heavenly morals and traits and call people to the Kingdom of God.”

Such explanations transformed the minds of the hearers and created love and sincerity in their hearts.

In the afternoon we changed trains for Salt Lake City. The Jewish lady was so attracted to the Cause that she tried to change her ticket so that she could accompany the Master from Denver to Chicago. However, she was unable to do so, which made her unhappy as she was to be separated from the Master. The Master then gave her the addresses of some Bahá’ís she could contact.

The Master occupied Himself for about an hour reading many letters from the friends. He later spoke about the days of Baghdád and the apathy and ignorance of the populace. He said:

“How they reproached us, but they were ignorant of the future of the Cause. They did not know that the Cause of God can make an atom a brilliant sun, bestow the magnificence of Solomon on an ant, give eternal honor to debased ones and endow the ignorant ones with divine knowledge.”

We suggested that He obtain a Pullman berth but He would not permit this, saying, ‘The seats are comfortable. We can lean back and sleep.’

26 October 1912, Talk at Assembly Hall, Hotel Sacramento, Sacramento, California 4

There are some who believe that the divine bounties are subject to cessation. For example, they think that the revelation of God, the effulgence of God and the bounties of God have ended. This is self-evidently a mistaken idea, for none of these is subject to termination. The reality of Divinity is like unto the sun, and revelation is like unto the rays thereof. If we should assert that the bounties of God are not everlasting, we are forced to believe that Divinity can come to an end, whereas the reality of Divinity enfolds all virtues and by reason of these bounties is perfect. Were it not possessed of all these perfections or virtues, it could not be Divinity. The sun is the sun because of its rays, light and heat. If it could be dispossessed of them, it would not be the sun. Therefore, if we say that the divinity or sovereignty of God is accidental and subject to termination, we must perforce think that Divinity itself is accidental, without foundation and not essential.

God is the Creator. The word creator presupposes or connotes creation. God is the Provider. The word provider implies recipients of provision. Another name for the Creator is the Resuscitator, which demands the existence of creatures to be resuscitated. If He be not the Provider, how could we conceive of creatures to receive His bounty? If He be not the Lord, how could we conceive of subjects? If He be not the Knower, how could we conceive of those known? If we should say that there was a time in past ages when God was not possessed of His creation or that there was a beginning for the world, it would be a denial of creation and the Creator. Or if we should declare that a time may come when there will be a cessation of divine bounties, we should virtually deny the existence of Divinity. It is as though man should conceive of a king without country, army, treasury and all that constitutes sovereignty or kingdom. Is it possible to conceive of such a sovereign? A king must be possessed of a dominion, an army and all that appertains to sovereignty in order that his sovereignty may be a reality. It is even so with the reality of Divinity which enfolds all virtues. The sovereignty thereof is everlasting, and the creation thereof is without beginning and without end.

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

A passenger on the train accepts the Faith after a brief conversation with the Master

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

October 27, 1912


  1. Menon, Jonathan. “The Home Stretch.” 239 Days in America, 27 Oct. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/10/27/the-home-stretch/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 173-174
  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#section218
  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, 377-378. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/27#514094256

239 Days in America, Day 42: May 22, 1912 | Boston

“You Can Kill Me as Soon as You Like,” She Said 1

On his second day in Boston, a hundred guests had gathered to celebrate at the home of Alice [Ives] Breed. But ‘Abdu’l-Bahá left the party early. He never celebrated his birthday because, on the day he was born, something else had also happened, which he considered to be far more important.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s mother, Asiyih, gave birth to him in Tehran. But early that morning in Shiraz, a city 440 miles due south, a young man who called himself the “Báb,” meaning “The Gate,” had set in motion Persia’s greatest upheaval of the nineteenth century, by declaring himself a messenger of God. Within nine years, mobs throughout the country, instigated by religious leaders and aided by the Persian military, had slaughtered 20,000 of his followers and had executed the Báb by firing squad.

Among them was a woman named Táhirih. Three days earlier, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had spoken to an audience of suffragists at the Metropolitan Temple in New York 2. What few of them knew was that, when he was just three of four years old, he used to sit on Táhirih’s lap in his father’s house in Tehran.

Táhirih accepted the teachings of the Báb in her twenties, to the consternation of her father and her husband, and became one his most fearless and brilliant advocates. She was a poet, renowned for her learning and her skill in argument. At a conference near the village of Badasht, in 1848, she shocked her fellow believers by appearing before the all-male gathering without a veil. One of them felt so scandalized that he slit his own throat.

By imposing this new image of equality on the Bábís, Táhirih forced them to make a critical break with the past.

New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts 3

On Wednesday, May 22, Abdu’l-Bahá arrived in Boston and at 4:30 P.M. checked into the Hotel Charles where a large delegation greeted Him. He spoke at 8:00 P.M. that night to nearly three thousand persons, including eight hundred Unitarian ministers at the American Unitarian Association Conference.

Wednesday, May 22, 1912 4

At 10:00 a.m. the Master left New York for Boston, arriving at the Hotel Charles at 4:30 p.m. Many delegates from organizations and groups had gathered at the railway station to greet and welcome Him. The believers had decorated a house with colorful flowers, having made all necessary preparations to receive Him.

That evening the first meeting in Boston was held at 8:00 p.m. for the American Unitarian Association Conference at the Tremont Temple, the largest of all of the churches in the region. The President of the Republic, Mr Taft, is also a member of this important association. Present at the conference were some 800 Unitarian ministers representing the Unitarian churches in America and Canada. In addition, there were nearly two thousand others assembled. The presiding officer of the meeting was the Lieutenant-Governor of Massachusetts [Robert Luce], who introduced the Master to the audience, saying:

“Tonight we express our highest respect and heartfelt gratitude in this great gathering for this highly revered and peace-loving personage who has come from the East to the West to promote the principles of the oneness of humanity and universal peace. Indeed, it is a great joy and supreme honor that this esteemed personage has graced our meeting with His presence. It is my great honor to introduce to you His Holiness, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.”

When the Master stood up, the entire audience gave Him a prolonged standing ovation. Although in all meetings the audience has risen when the Master appeared, this gathering had a particular importance. The group was composed of elected representatives and leaders of many congregations from several countries and it was they who stood, demonstrating their reverence and to honor Him. The Master spoke about the progress and evolution of creation. It was so impressive that the audience applauded with elation and joy.

Talk at the Tremont Temple at the Unitarian Conference, Boston, Massachusetts 5

Creation is the expression of motion. Motion is life. A moving object is a living object, whereas that which is motionless and inert is as dead. All created forms are progressive in their planes, or kingdoms of existence, under the stimulus of the power or spirit of life. The universal energy is dynamic. Nothing is stationary in the material world of outer phenomena or in the inner world of intellect and consciousness.

Religion is the outer expression of the divine reality. Therefore, it must be living, vitalized, moving and progressive. If it be without motion and nonprogressive, it is without the divine life; it is dead. The divine institutes are continuously active and evolutionary; therefore, the revelation of them must be progressive and continuous. All things are subject to reformation. This is a century of life and renewal. Sciences and arts, industry and invention have been reformed. Law and ethics have been reconstituted, reorganized. The world of thought has been regenerated. Sciences of former ages and philosophies of the past are useless today. Present exigencies demand new methods of solution; world problems are without precedent. Old ideas and modes of thought are fast becoming obsolete. Ancient laws and archaic ethical systems will not meet the requirements of modern conditions, for this is clearly the century of a new life, the century of the revelation of reality and, therefore, the greatest of all centuries. Consider how the scientific developments of fifty years have surpassed and eclipsed the knowledge and achievements of all the former ages combined. Would the announcements and theories of ancient astronomers explain our present knowledge of the suns and planetary systems? Would the mask of obscurity which beclouded medieval centuries meet the demand for clear-eyed vision and understanding which characterizes the world today? Will the despotism of former governments answer the call for freedom which has risen from the heart of humanity in this cycle of illumination? It is evident that no vital results are now forthcoming from the customs, institutions and standpoints of the past. In view of this, shall blind imitations of ancestral forms and theological interpretations continue to guide and control the religious life and spiritual development of humanity today? Shall man, gifted with the power of reason, unthinkingly follow and adhere to dogma, creeds and hereditary beliefs which will not bear the analysis of reason in this century of effulgent reality? Unquestionably this will not satisfy men of science, for when they find premise or conclusion contrary to present standards of proof and without real foundation, they reject that which has been formerly accepted as standard and correct and move forward from new foundations.

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

Mahmud: May 22 — First Meeting in Boston


  1. Jones, Caitlin Shayda. “‘You Can Kill Me as Soon as You Like,’ She Said.” 239 Days in America, 22 May 2012, https://239days.com/2012/05/22/you-can-kill-me-as-soon-as-you-like-she-said/.
  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, 133-137. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/9#680974330.
  3. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 71.
  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#section59.
  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, 140-141. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/10#971152251.