239 Days in America, Day 158: September 15, 1912 | Kenosha

Documenting a “Luminous Journey” 1

FOR THE PAST FIVE years, Anne Perry and her husband Tim have been working on a feature-length documentary film chronicling ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s 1912 journey through the United States and Canada. I recently had the chance to interview Anne about the film.

Buffalo, Chicago, Kenosha 2

On Sunday, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and his entourage prepared to leave for Kenosha, Wisconsin. They had to transfer trains en route, and somehow missed the second train. The friends were sorry, but ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said, “‘There is wisdom in it.’” They left by the next train, and on the way came upon the wreckage of the train they had missed; it had collided with another train. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said, “’The protection of the Blessed Beauty was with us,’” and then narrated the episode of leaving Alexandria for America, saying, “‘Some of the people proposed that we leave London by the S. S. Titanic, which was wrecked on the same voyage. The Blessed Beauty guided us to come direct.’”

In Kenosha ‘Abdu’l-Bahá talked with the friends first and then addressed the Congregational church.

Sunday, September 15, 1912 3

In the morning ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spoke to Dr [William Frederick] Nutt about Kheiralla in such majestic and forcible tones that both the hearer and the translator trembled with fear. Finally, He said:

He wants me to send for him. As a visitor to this country, the great and lowly of this land come to see me. If his intention be good, he also should come with utmost sincerity.”

The Blessed Being was very tired after His talk.

The Master had an appointment in Kenosha and was preparing to go there. He was accompanied by Dr Nutt, a Japanese believer and these companions. On the way we had to change trains. Although we hurried, we missed the second train. The friends were saddened but ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said, ‘Oh, it matters not. There is a wisdom in this.’ We left by the next train and found that the train we had missed was wrecked and some of the passengers injured. It was clear that it had collided with another train. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said, ‘This, too, was the protection of the Blessed Beauty.’ He then narrated the episode of His leaving Alexandria for America:

“Some proposed that we leave via London by the S. S. Titanic, which sank on the same voyage. The Blessed Beauty guided us to come direct.”

The friends were waiting with their automobiles at the railway station to take the Beloved to the hall of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár. The Master went onto the stage of the auditorium and sat on a chair. It was a divine and joyous festival, the people like heavenly angels of the utmost spirituality, prayerfulness and gratitude. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spoke briefly but effectively about the victorious power and penetrating influence of the Cause of the Blessed Beauty. He then went to a long table that extended the length of the hall which was covered with a variety of multicolored flowers.

As lunch was being served, the young friends, having received ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s permission, sang songs of praise to Him, accompanied by a piano. The Master then gave an account of the persecutions and hardships of Bahá’u’lláh, the time spent in the Most Great Prison, the Turkish revolution and the changes that took place after the establishment of a constitutional form of government in Turkey. ‘God removed all obstacles’, He said, ‘and provided all the necessities, thus enabling ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to reach this place and have the pleasure of seeing you.’

The friends then brought their children to Him to be blessed. He took the children onto His lap one by one and gave them flowers, fruits and sweets. Mr Jackson said:

“Every time we have held a public entertainment for the friends we have left two seats vacant at each end of the table, one in the name of Bahá’u’lláh and the other in that of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. We constantly longed to witness a day such as this. We have now attained our highest hopes and our eyes have seen the light of the Master.”

Another person said, ‘When the clergymen were informed of your arrival, they announced in the churches that this evening the prophet of the East will speak at the Kenosha Congregational Church.’

After lunch ‘Abdu’l-Bahá left the hall of the ‘Mashriqu’l-Adhkár’ and went to Mrs Henry Goodale’s home, where the friends were overjoyed and uplifted to hear Him speak. He said to them, in part:

“The Cause of God has always appeared from the East but it has been more effective in the West. Once Badrí Páshá said in an address, ‘Gentlemen, Westerners have taken everything from us: the sciences, the arts and the laws they took from the East. Now we fear that they may wrest from us the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh, as well.’ Those were his words. But Bahá’u’lláh is neither of the East nor of the West, neither of the South nor of the North. He is holy above all these directions. He is heavenly and godly.”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s address in the evening at the Congregational Church was on the unity of the Manifestations of God, that they are one in essence and that the differences among their followers is due to obsolete imitations. His explanation of the divine teachings gave new life and insights to the audience. After His talk, everyone came to Him to pay Him their respects.

5 September 1912, Talk at St. James Methodist Church, Montreal, Canada 4

… In order that human souls, minds and spirits may attain advancement, tranquillity and vision in broader horizons of unity and knowledge, Bahá’u’lláh proclaimed certain principles or teachings, some of which I will mention.

First, man must independently investigate reality …

Second, the oneness of the world of humanity shall be realized, accepted and established. …

Third, religion must be the mainspring and source of love in the world …

Fourth, religion must reconcile and be in harmony with science and reason. …

Fifth, prejudice … is the destroyer of human foundations and opposed to the commands of God. …

Sixth, the world of humanity is in need of the confirmations of the Holy Spirit. …

Seventh, the necessity of education for all mankind is evident. …

Eighth, universal peace will be established among the nations of the world by international agreement. …

Ninth, there must be an equality of rights between men and women. …

Tenth, there shall be an equality of rights and prerogatives for all mankind.

Eleventh, one language must be selected as an international medium of speech and communication. …

These are a few of the principles proclaimed by Bahá’u’lláh. He has provided the remedy for the ailments which now afflict the human world, solved the difficult problems of individual, social, national and universal welfare and laid the foundation of divine reality upon which material and spiritual civilization are to be founded throughout the centuries before us.

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

Experiencing the majesty and power of the Center of the Covenant

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

September 15, 1912


  1. Sockett, Robert. “Documenting a ‘Luminous Journey.’” 239 Days in America, 15 Sept. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/09/15/documenting-a-luminous-journey/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 145-146.
  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#section175
  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, 318. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/22#613399229

239 Days in America, Day 99: July 18, 1912 | New York

“Bind Ye the Broken With the Hands of Justice” 1

WHILE UNDER HOUSE ARREST in Adrianople, Bahá’u’lláh addressed the rulers of the nineteenth century in his Tablet of the Kings. Over the next few years he would continue to write messages to the monarchs in Europe and the Middle East. Sometimes he wrote letters directly to them, and at other times addressed them by name in his other works. In 1873, in his book of laws, Bahá’u’lláh called the leaders of the New World to a unique role in establishing justice…

Later, in the Most Holy Book, Baha’u’lláh gave a specific mission to the leaders across the Atlantic. “Hearken ye, O Rulers of America and the Presidents of the Republics therein,” he wrote. “Bind ye the broken with the hands of justice, and crush the oppressor who flourisheth with the rod of the commandments of your Lord, the Ordainer, the All-Wise.”

New York City 2

On July 18, The Independent magazine carried an editorial entitled “The Persian Prophet”:

The visit of Abdul Baha to this country is an interesting event even to those of us who do not see in Bahaism a new revelation destined to supersede the older faiths. It is interesting, at the least, to have brought visibly before us evidence that Asia, the aged mother of all the great religions of the world, has not yet become barren. For he who is now in our midst is by as many millions of people today regarded as a prophet, “yea and much more than a prophet.” The number of his followers can, of course, be only vaguely estimated .. the foremost aim of Bahaism is unity. It would “the Two-and-Seventy jarring Sects” not “confute,” but combine …

Such in essence is the Bahai doctrine, tho stripped of the poetic imagery and illustration that grows in a Persian garden. A strange offshoot from Mohammedanism in these latter days—this religion of universal peace, mutual toleration and equal rights. Tho its lessons may be most needed in Islam, yet they are far from being superfluous to Christendom.3

Thursday, July 18, 2022

‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s talk today centered on the persecutions and tribulations of the Blessed Beauty and the triumph of the Cause of God in the face of opposition from the most powerful enemies.

When the Master later expressed His intention to move from New York to Dublin [in New Hampshire], the friends were stirred by emotion and excitement. He said:

My weakened condition and excessive work hamper me, otherwise many extraordinary souls would have arisen among these friends. As long as such souls do not arise, the real object will not have been accomplished. A certain amount of enthusiasm and ability can be discerned among them, it is other persons who are to arise.

He then mentioned the names of Mullá Hasan and Mullá ‘Abdu’l-Latíf, saying:

They were deputized by the mujtahid to see the Blessed Beauty in Mázandarán. The moment they approached Him, they were transformed and became a new creation, not seeking rest for a moment whether by day or night. After undergoing great suffering and persecutions in Mashhad, Mullá ‘Abdu’l-Latíf sacrificed his life in the field of martyrdom and hastened to the Abhá Kingdom. Similarly, a blind Indian Shaykh attained the presence of Bahá’u’lláh in Mázindarán and danced and sang ecstatically from night till morn. Thus are people required to arise for the Cause of God. Such are the people who are worthy of the field of service and sacrifice.

In the evening the Master spoke on the importance of unity and amity among the friends, on the composition and decomposition of elements, and on the existence and disappearance of matter. 4

Talk at All Souls Unitarian Church, Fourth Avenue and Twentieth Street, New York, 14 July 1912 5

Another cause of dissension and disagreement is the fact that religion has been pronounced at variance with science. Between scientists and the followers of religion there has always been controversy and strife for the reason that the latter have proclaimed religion superior in authority to science and considered scientific announcement opposed to the teachings of religion. Bahá’u’lláh declared that religion is in complete harmony with science and reason. If religious belief and doctrine is at variance with reason, it proceeds from the limited mind of man and not from God; therefore, it is unworthy of belief and not deserving of attention; the heart finds no rest in it, and real faith is impossible. How can man believe that which he knows to be opposed to reason? Is this possible? Can the heart accept that which reason denies? Reason is the first faculty of man, and the religion of God is in harmony with it. Bahá’u’lláh has removed this form of dissension and discord from among mankind and reconciled science with religion by revealing the pure teachings of the divine reality. This accomplishment is specialized to Him in this Day.

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

“I desire for you that which I desire for My own daughters, Tuba and Ruha”

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

July 18, 1912


  1. Sockett, Robert. “‘Bind Ye the Broken With the Hands of Justice.’” 239 Days in America, 18 July 2012, https://239days.com/2012/07/18/with-the-hands-of-justice/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 111-113.
  3. “The Persian Prophet” (editorial), The Independent, 73 (July 18, 1912), 159-60.
  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=5#section116
  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, 231. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/16#579448233

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.

239 Days in America, Day 18: April 28, 1912 | Washington, DC

‘Abdu’l-Bahá Likes Chicago More 1

LONG BEFORE ‘ABDU’L-BAHÁ set eyes on Chicago, he had decided that this soot-covered city deserved a special place in his heart.

He left Washington from Union Station on Sunday, April 28 at 5:25 p.m., on a twenty-hour train ride along the B&O Railroad to the Windy City. He had spent seventeen days in two of America’s most impressive cities, yet he was heard to say that he “likes Chicago more.” The reason, it turned out, was quite simple. Discovering it requires us to take a trip back two decades into Chicago’s history…

At 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue (Redux) 2

THE PARSONS’ HORSES CLOPPED along the driveway at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue shortly after noon on Sunday, April 28, 1912…

President Taft had invited ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to visit him at the White House at 12:30.

The horses came to a halt under the main entrance portico of the executive mansion. But before ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had a chance to dismount, a White House aide rushed out from the executive offices to make President Taft’s apologies. He had been campaigning in Boston this week in advance of the Massachusetts Republican Primary, which was coming up on Tuesday. But he had only arrived back in Washington at 4 a.m. this morning and would have to leave again for New England on the 6:35 p.m. train. Politics was an unpredictable business, and the President had to postpone.

From the White House, the carriage drove south to the Ellipse, an oval-shaped park just beneath the White House’s south lawn.

After several more interviews and a few last minute visits, the horses trotted down Massachusetts Avenue and back to Union Station, where ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and his party departed on the 5:25 p.m. train to Chicago.

“April 28, 1912 Beyond the World of Words” 3

The Master prepared to leave for Chicago. Among those who came to see Him was the ambassador of Great Britain [a note clarifies that it was Edward Alfred Mitchell [Alfred Mitchell-Innes? or Edward A. Mitchell Innes?], not the ambassador but an employee of the British Embassy in Washington—AP], who was very humble and reverent while in His presence. Many friends, believers and seekers were with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá until His departure at 5:30 p.m. As He was leaving He said to Mrs Parsons:

This was the springtime; we had good meetings at your home; I shall never forget them. I shall pray for divine confirmation for you that you may be assisted both materially and spiritually. This material world has an outward appearance, as it has also an inner reality. All created things are interlinked in a chain leading to spirituality and ultimately ending in abstract realities. I hope that these spiritual links will become stronger day by day and that this communication of hearts, which is termed inspiration, will continue. When this connection exists, bodily separation is not important; this condition is beyond the world of words and above all description.

To others He said, ‘I hope these meetings of ours will bring forth everlasting results. The greatest of all benefits is the oneness of humanity and universal peace.’

Talk at Children’s Reception, Studio Hall, 1219 Connecticut Avenue, Washington, D.C., 24 April 1912

What a wonderful meeting this is! These are the children of the Kingdom. The song we have just listened to was very beautiful in melody and words. The art of music is divine and effective. It is the food of the soul and spirit. Through the power and charm of music the spirit of man is uplifted. It has wonderful sway and effect in the hearts of children, for their hearts are pure, and melodies have great influence in them. The latent talents with which the hearts of these children are endowed will find expression through the medium of music. Therefore, you must exert yourselves to make them proficient; teach them to sing with excellence and effect. It is incumbent upon each child to know something of music, for without knowledge of this art the melodies of instrument and voice cannot be rightly enjoyed. Likewise, it is necessary that the schools teach it in order that the souls and hearts of the pupils may become vivified and exhilarated and their lives be brightened with enjoyment. 4

Sunday, April 28, 1912

The Master prepared to leave for Chicago. Among those who came to see Him was the ambassador of Great Britain, who was very humble and reverent while in His presence. Many friends, believers and seekers were with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá until His departure at 5:30 p.m. As He was leaving He said to Mrs Parsons:

“This was the springtime; we had good meetings at your home; I shall never forget them. I shall pray for divine confirmation for you that you may be assisted both materially and spiritually. This material world has an outward appearance, as it has also an inner reality. All created things are interlinked in a chain leading to spirituality and ultimately ending in abstract realities. I hope that these spiritual links will become stronger day by day and that this communication of hearts, which is termed inspiration, will continue. When this connection exists, bodily separation is not important; this condition is beyond the world of words and above all description.”

To others He said, ‘I hope these meetings of ours will bring forth everlasting results. The greatest of all benefits is the oneness of humanity and universal peace.’

Some friends came to the railway station to see ‘Abdu’l-Bahá off and to gaze once more at the Master’s beautiful countenance. Some were to accompany Him to Chicago. Among them was Mrs Moss, a stenographer, who had requested a Persian name and was given the name Marzieh Khánum.

After crossing the Potomac River, the train entered the state of Virginia, which is exceedingly fertile and green. The scenery on both sides was charming, with a verdant expanse of land as far as the eye could see. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá praised the scenery and said it was most beautiful but His face showed signs of an inner sorrow. After a few minutes He said, ‘Whenever I see such scenes, I feel great sorrow, for the Blessed Beauty liked verdure and greenery very much. God shall never pardon those who imprisoned Him in that place.

The conversation then turned to the train. The Master praised the sleeping car room, the cleanliness of the compartments and the electric lights in them; however, owing to the speed of the train, the Master was not able to sleep. 5

  1. Sockett, Robert. “‘Abdu’l-Bahá Likes Chicago More.” 239 Days in America, April 28, 2012. https://239days.com/2012/04/28/abdul-baha-likes-chicago-more-2/.
  2. Menon, Jonathan. “At 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.” 239 Days in America, April 27, 2012. https://239days.com/2012/04/27/at-1600-pennsylvania-avenue/.
  3. Perry, Anne. “’Abdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in the West . . .: April 28, 1912 Beyond the World of Words.” ’Abdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in the West . . . (blog), April 28, 2012. https://master-in-america.blogspot.com/2012/04/april-28-1912-beyond-world-of-words.html.
  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, 52. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/3#004219341.
  5. Mahmud-i-Zarqani, Mirza. 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=2#section35

239 Days in America, Day 11: April 21, 1912 | Washington, DC

Washington High Society Receives ‘Abdu’l-Bahá 1

Every afternoon at 5 p.m., members of Washington’s elite sought out ‘Abdu’l-Bahá at the Parsons’s home: members of the House of Representatives, of the Senate, and of the Cabinet; Justices of the Supreme Court; officials of foreign embassies; and men of science such as Alexander Graham Bell and Admiral Robert Peary.

Agnes [Parsons] 2 had built a large, bright ballroom to the left of the front door especially for this purpose. It was twenty-five feet wide by fifty feet long, decorated in white with yellow silk curtains, and it seated 150 people. Carved garlands blanketed the ceiling, the paneled walls, and the high mantel at one end of the room. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spoke from a platform in front of the mantel, behind a bank of American Beauty roses that were delivered fresh every day. As the days passed, the crowds grew bigger.

Yet ‘Abdu’l-Bahá didn’t come to Washington simply to meet the nation’s wealthy and powerful. He also intended to assail America’s biggest taboo – the issue of race.

Washington D. C. 3

At 4:00 P.M. He [‘Abdu’l-Bahá ] spoke at the Universalist Church at 13th and L Streets to more than one thousand persons, who had started filling the auditorium an hour before time for the service to begin, In introducing Him the Reverend John Van Schairk, Jr., pastor of the church, said, “After arrangements for this meeting had been made, I received a letter warning me that I should be false to my belief if I held it… Against such narrowness this Church has always stood. We stand today humbly seeking the Spirit of Truth…” 4 ‘Abdu’l-Bahá then addressed the gathering…

Talk at Universalist Church, Thirteenth and L Streets, Washington, D.C.

All the existing nations had a divine foundation of truth or reality originally, which was intended to be conducive to the unity and accord of mankind, but the light of that reality gradually became obscured. The darkness of superstitions and imitations came and took its place, binding the world of humanity in the chains and fetters of ignorance. Enmity arose among men, increasing to such an extent that nation strove against nation in hatred and violence. War has been a religious and political human heritage.

Now it is enough! We must investigate reality. We must put away these superstitions. It is a self-evident truth that all humanity is the creation of God. All are His servants and under His protection. All are recipients of His bestowals. God is kind to all His servants. At most it is this: that some are ignorant; they must be educated in order that they may become intelligent. Some are immature as children; they must be aided and assisted in order that they may become mature. Some are sick and ailing; they must be healed. But the suffering patient must not be tested by false treatment. The child must not be warped and hindered in its development. The ignorant must not be restricted by censure and criticism. We must look for the real, true remedy. 5

Sunday, April 21, 1912

The highlight of the day was a very important and well-attended meeting at the Universalist Church. The minister of the church introduced ‘Abdu’l-Bahá with a most glowing tribute to His life and teachings. Then the Master rose from His seat and delivered an address on the need for cooperation, love, friendship and universal peace. He stressed Christ’s statement that ‘I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth’ [John 16:12-13], and added, ‘And now that time has come and the Divine Spirit has spoken, revealing all truth.’ …

I will now pray on your behalf:

“O Lord! These Thy servants have assembled here out of pure love. They have gathered together in perfect accord and harmony. O God! Illumine their faces, make joyous their souls with Thy most great glad tidings. Brighten their eyes with the verses of Thy guidance and delight their ears with the melody of Thy sweet voice.

O Lord, we are wrongdoers; forgive us. We are sinners; grant us Thy pardon. Shelter us in Thy refuge. Satisfy the needy through Thy forgiveness. Free us from the world of vain imaginings and guide us to the Truth, that we may seek the divine reality, shun the mortal world, approach the divine kingdom and, withdrawn from the world of darkness, enter the realm of light.

Deliver us from the darkness of material existence and illumine us with the rays of the infinite realm. Make us the manifestations of Thy light and the dawning places of Thy signs. Turn us from all else save Thee and cause us to become the recipients of Thy mysteries. Thou, O God, art the Compassionate, the Wise, the Forgiving, the Mighty.” 6

  1. Menon, Jonathan. “‘Abdu’l-Bahá Goes to Washington.” 239 Days in America, April 20, 2012. https://239days.com/2012/04/20/abdul-baha-comes-to-washington/.
  2. Reneau, Annie. “Shining Lamp: Agnes Parsons (1861-1934),” Brilliant Star, September 28, 2017. https://brilliantstarmagazine.org/articles/agnes-parsons-1861-1934.
  3. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 39.
  4. Hannen, Joseph H. “Abdul-Baha in Washington, D.C.” Star of the West, April 28, 1912.
  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, 39-40. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/3#593384709.
  6. Mahmud-i-Zarqani, Mirza. 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=2#section28