239 Days in America, Day 75: June 24, 1912 | New Jersey

June 24, 1912: The Week Ahead 1

NINE DAYS OF REST and recuperation. That’s what awaited ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Montclair, New Jersey, twenty miles northwest of New York. He had remarked that the heat and humidity of the big city, along with its incessant crowds, were impairing his health. Today, he’s strolling in the park with friends.

New Jersey: The Unity Feast 2

The rest of the week ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spent in instructing the friends and visitors who flocked to His doors in Montclair and in making a brief trip to Newark. After early morning prayers Abdu’l-Bahá usually went to the market Himself to purchase food for the day; He managed most of the meals Himself, especially if guests were present, as there usually were.

Monday, June 24, 1912

In the morning ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said to us:

“After the Ascension of Bahá’u’lláh I did everything within my power to promote the Cause of God. I clung to spiritual methods and rendered such servitude at the Threshold of God so that the divine Cause might advance throughout the world. And my correspondence was so heavy that, at the time of the death of an American maidservant of God, my letters to her were counted and numbered sixty-seven; so you can imagine the situation!”

When asked about His health at a gathering of the friends, He replied:

“Bodily health is not important. What is more important is spiritual health which gives eternal pleasure and has everlasting effect. The more the body is cared for, the worse it becomes. Thus denial is preferable for the body. I took only a cup of milk today and I feel much better. Why should man undergo so much trouble and hardship merely for the purpose of eating?”

In the afternoon He gave detailed answers to questions relating to His talks at Green Acre. He then spoke on the blind imitations and prejudices of people. 3

Talk at Union Meeting of Advanced Thought Centers, Carnegie Lyceum, West Fifty-seventh Street, New York, 14 April 1912 4

The most important thing is to polish the mirrors of hearts in order that they may become illumined and receptive of the divine light. One heart may possess the capacity of the polished mirror; another, be covered and obscured by the dust and dross of this world. Although the same Sun is shining upon both, in the mirror which is polished, pure and sanctified you may behold the Sun in all its fullness, glory and power, revealing its majesty and effulgence; but in the mirror which is rusted and obscured there is no capacity for reflection, although so far as the Sun itself is concerned it is shining thereon and is neither lessened nor deprived. Therefore, our duty lies in seeking to polish the mirrors of our hearts in order that we shall become reflectors of that light and recipients of the divine bounties which may be fully revealed through them.

This means the oneness of the world of humanity. That is to say, when this human body politic reaches a state of absolute unity, the effulgence of the eternal Sun will make its fullest light and heat manifest. Therefore, we must not make distinctions between individual members of the human family. We must not consider any soul as barren or deprived. Our duty lies in educating souls so that the Sun of the bestowals of God shall become resplendent in them, and this is possible through the power of the oneness of humanity. The more love is expressed among mankind and the stronger the power of unity, the greater will be this reflection and revelation, for the greatest bestowal of God is love. Love is the source of all the bestowals of God. Until love takes possession of the heart, no other divine bounty can be revealed in it.

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

Mahmud: June 24 – An example of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s heavy correspondence

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

June 24, 1912


  1. Menon, Jonathan. “June 24, 1912: The Week Ahead.” 239 Days in America, 24 June 2012, http://stagingtwo39.wpengine.com/2012/06/24/a-day-of-rest/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 100.
  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=4#section92
  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, 14-15. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/2#397153357

239 Days in America, Day 56: June 05, 1912 | New York

America on the Sidelines 1

At Grey Towers, Gifford Pinchot’s estate in Milford, Pennsylvania, on June 3, 1912, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had argued that justice could not be served by governing vast regions from a single center. “Each of the colonial countries serves to adorn one great capital,” he said. But “Tremendous changes will take place in Europe. The great centralized powers will break up into smaller independent states.” In short, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá told the Americans, “Europe will be forced to follow your system.”

It would take the Great War to achieve it.

New York, Philadelphia, New York 2

Abdu’l-Bahá went to the Unity Club on Wednesday [June 5] to speak to a children’s affair at which various civic leaders and statesmen, and Admiral Peary, were also present. He spoke that evening at the Women’s Union on the education of women.

Wednesday, June 5, 1912

In the morning, the Master, together with some of His servants, went to Brooklyn to attend a children’s event given by the Unity Club. The gathering included dignitaries, civic leaders and national statesmen. After exchanging greetings in the drawing room, the Master went to the dining room. All of the rooms, as well as the salon, were exquisitely decorated with flowers of various hues. Many kinds of dishes were brought, some of which the Master did not touch. At the table some of the eminent people spoke to Him. Among them was Admiral Peary, the famous explorer of the North Pole, who gave an account of the voyage he undertook to further his exploration. Admiral Peary then praised the Master and spoke of his good fortune in meeting Him and the importance of the teachings. He asked the Master to make a short speech. Although ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had not planned to speak, He delivered a discourse on the perfection of creation, its present defects and the need for education capable of producing great results by removing these imperfections. He also spoke on the importance of the education of children. Although there had been many speeches, this address created a great excitement, capturing everyone’s attention. When it was time for ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to leave, He gave permission for Him to be photographed with us.

In the evening there was a meeting at the Women’s Union. A number of men were also present. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spoke on the education of women, service to humanity and the freeing of oneself from ego and desire. His address strongly impressed the audience, giving wings to both their hearts and minds. 3

Talk at Church of the Ascension, Fifth Avenue and Tenth Street, New York, 02 June 1912 4

Question: What is the attitude of your belief toward the family?

Answer: According to the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh the family, being a human unit, must be educated according to the rules of sanctity. All the virtues must be taught the family. The integrity of the family bond must be constantly considered, and the rights of the individual members must not be transgressed. The rights of the son, the father, the mother—none of them must be transgressed, none of them must be arbitrary. Just as the son has certain obligations to his father, the father, likewise, has certain obligations to his son. The mother, the sister and other members of the household have their certain prerogatives. All these rights and prerogatives must be conserved, yet the unity of the family must be sustained. The injury of one shall be considered the injury of all; the comfort of each, the comfort of all; the honor of one, the honor of all.

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

Mahmud: June 5 – A children’s event attended by dignitaries, civic leaders and national statesmen

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

June 5, 1912


  1. Sockett, Robert. “America on the Sidelines.” 239 Days in America, 5 June 2012, https://239days.com/2012/06/05/waiting-on-america/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 87.
  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=4#section73
  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, 168. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/12#526459415.

239 Days in America, Day 54: June 03, 1912 | New York

The War Will Be Staged in Europe 1

Two years later, with Roosevelt winning primary after primary, Amos Pinchot, Gifford [Pinchot]’s brother, invited ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to their ancestral estate, Grey Towers in Milford, Pennsylvania, to spend two days with them and their friends. It was built in fieldstone like a French château with three tall conical towers, and stood on a hilltop just a mile from the Delaware River. Pinchot had been America’s first chief of the U.S. Forest Service, spearheading the conservation policies that were one of Roosevelt’s highest priorities.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá took the train to Milford on the morning of June 3, 1912, from Penn Station. His chronicler, Mahmúd, said that he conversed so much over the two days that his words alone would fill a book. Given the kinds of people who were Pinchot’s friends, the subject turned, inevitably, to politics and war.

Monday, June 3, 1912

Mr Penshoe [sic], a cabinet member of the United States government, invited ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to Milford [his estate outside the city]. For a day and a night many prominent statesmen and dignitaries of the Republic were enraptured, fascinated by the Master. His address to one of the meetings has been recorded separately. A compendium of the addresses and His answers made during that time would be in itself a complete book. In response to a question about the war among nations, the Master said:

“It will certainly come about but America will not participate in it. This war will be staged in Europe. You are in a corner and have nothing to do with others. You have no desire to gain territories in Europe, and no one lusts after your land. You are safe because the Atlantic Ocean serves as a great natural protection for you. Europe and most other areas will be forced to follow your system. Tremendous changes will take place in Europe. The great centralized powers will break up into smaller independent states. In reality it is not just that vast countries should be governed from a single center, for no matter how great the ability and wisdom of the statesmen of that center, or how developed their sense of justice, they will still not be fully informed of the needs of every town and village and cannot exert themselves justly for the betterment of their surrounding dependencies. For example, all parts of Germany concentrate their efforts to serve a single center, namely Berlin; and the whole of France is to serve Paris. Similarly, each of the colonial countries serves to adorn one great capital. But your government has a good system.” 2

New York, Philadelphia, New York 3

Among ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s visitors on Monday morning, June 3, was the actor Walter Hampden, who was playing the part of Jesus in The Servant in the House. He came every day thereafter until ‘Abdu’l-Bahá left for New Hampshire. Another visitor was a cabinet member who invited ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to visit his estate outside the city, There, as Mahmúd noted, “For one day and night the statesmen and notables of the Republic were immersed in a state of rapture and fascinated at seeing the world illuminating Face.” He further noted that “a resume of all the addresses and the detailed answers to questions which He made during that one day and night” would be in themselves “a detailed book.”

Talk at Church of the Ascension, Fifth Avenue and Tenth Street, New York, 02 June 1912 4

Question: What is the status of woman in the Orient?

Answer: The status of woman in former times was exceedingly deplorable, for it was the belief of the Orient that it was best for woman to be ignorant. It was considered preferable that she should not know reading or writing in order that she might not be informed of events in the world. Woman was considered to be created for rearing children and attending to the duties of the household. If she pursued educational courses, it was deemed contrary to chastity; hence women were made prisoners of the household. The houses did not even have windows opening upon the outside world. Bahá’u’lláh destroyed these ideas and proclaimed the equality of man and woman. He made woman respected by commanding that all women be educated, that there be no difference in the education of the two sexes and that man and woman share the same rights. In the estimation of God there is no distinction of sex. One whose thought is pure, whose education is superior, whose scientific attainments are greater, whose deeds of philanthropy excel, be that one man or woman, white or colored, is entitled to full rights and recognition; there is no differentiation whatsoever. Therefore, the status of women in the East has undergone change. At present they attend schools and colleges, pursue the ordinary curriculum and day by day are becoming indispensable to men and equal to them. This is the present condition of womankind in Persia.

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

Mahmud: June 3-4 Many prominent statesmen and dignitaries of the Republic visited ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

June 3, 1912


  1. Menon, Jonathan. “The War Will Be Staged in Europe.” 239 Days in America, 4 June 2012, https://239days.com/2012/06/03/the-war-will-be-staged-in-europe/.
  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=4#section71
  3. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 86-87.
  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, 166-167. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/12#398468890.

239 Days in America, Day 41: May 21, 1912 | New York

The Eyes of All People Are Upon Us 1

But even they weren’t ready for Ralph Waldo Emerson. On July 15, 1838, he stood before the graduating class at the Harvard Divinity School and spoke words that reverberated like hammer strokes off Harvard’s hallowed walls.

Emerson, too, had graduated from Harvard, and had been a preacher at Boston’s Second Church. But he lamented the lost devotion of the Puritans, and flatly told the students that churches weren’t measuring up: “The stationariness of religion; the assumption that the age of inspiration is past, that the Bible is closed . . . indicate with sufficient clearness the falsehood of our theology.” “It is the office of a true teacher,” he pleaded, “to show us that God is, not was; that He speaketh, not spake.”

Even though Emerson was speaking to young men about to begin careers in the Christian ministry, he removed the Church from the spiritual equation. The only way to restore true religion, he said, was to empower the individual soul to “go it alone.” He challenged them to break with conformity, to inspire their congregations to “dare to love God without mediator or veil.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson charged his “Transcendentalism” with the religious zeal of the original Puritan settlers, and fused it with the spirit of the American Revolution that set individual freedom and liberty above everything else.

It was a truly American take on religion.

New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts 2

Monday [May 20th] and Tuesday [May 21st] were spent in interviews and public talks such as one to a Woman’s Suffragist group in the Metropolitan Temple.

Talk at Woman’s Suffrage Meeting, Metropolitan Temple, Seventh Avenue and Fourteenth Street, New York 3

The purpose, in brief, is this: that if woman be fully educated and granted her rights, she will attain the capacity for wonderful accomplishments and prove herself the equal of man. She is the coadjutor of man, his complement and helpmeet. Both are human; both are endowed with potentialities of intelligence and embody the virtues of humanity. In all human powers and functions they are partners and coequals. At present in spheres of human activity woman does not manifest her natal prerogatives, owing to lack of education and opportunity. Without doubt education will establish her equality with men. Consider the animal kingdom, where no distinction is observed between male and female. They are equal in powers and privileges. Among birds of the air no distinction is evidenced. Their powers are equal; they dwell together in complete unity and mutual recognition of rights. Shall we not enjoy the same equality? Its absence is not befitting to mankind.

Tuesday, May 21, 1912 4

In the morning and afternoon the Master delivered addresses at two public meetings.5 One consisted of admonitions from the Abhá Beauty, and the other, owing to His impending journey to Boston, was a farewell address to the friends, promising them a speedy return.

This afternoon many of the believers’ children came to visit. He embraced them all with the utmost kindness and affection. He exhorted the friends to provide Bahá’í education and spirituality for these newborn trees of the Garden of Favor. To witness such meetings is a real joy. With great devotion, the young and old circled around ‘Abdu’l-Bahá like moths.

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

Mahmud: May 21 — Many of the Believers’ Children Came to Visit ‘Abdu’l-Bahá


  1. Sockett, Robert. “The Eyes of All People Are Upon Us.” 239 Days in America, 21 May 2012, https://239days.com/2012/05/21/eyes-of-all-people-are-upon-us/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 71.
  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, 136-137. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/9#882843088.
  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#section58.
  5. Thompson, Juliet. The Diary of Juliet Thompson. Edited by Marzieh Gail. 1st ed. 1947. Reprint, Los Angeles: Kalimát Press, 1983. 288-293. https://archive.org/details/diaryofjuliettho0000thom/page/288/mode/2up

239 Days in America, Day 40: May 20, 1912 | New York

“This Is a Symbol of My Power,” She Said 1

JOAN OF ARC’s SILVER suit shone in the afternoon sun. You wouldn’t have been able to hear her horse’s hooves on the pavement, because on every side traffic officers blew their whistles, marching bands played, and cheers rose from the crowds clogging every inch along the sidewalks.

The women’s suffrage march in New York had taken place two weeks ago, on May 4, 1912, while ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was in Chicago. At five o’clock sharp, an army began to march up Fifth Avenue from Washington Square. There were 10,000 of them, including 838 men. It was a parade “the like of which New York never knew before,” the New York Times said. Nearly half a million people had emptied the surrounding buildings to look on.

Today, on May 20th, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was standing in front of a suffrage meeting beneath the huge McKinley Memorial Organ at the Metropolitan Temple, on Seventh Avenue at 14th Street in New York. “Universal Peace is impossible without Universal Suffrage,” he said. “It has been objected by some that woman is not equally capable with man and that she is by creation deficient. This is pure imagination. The difference which exists between man and woman is a difference due solely to education.”

Talk at Woman’s Suffrage Meeting, Metropolitan Temple, Seventh Avenue and Fourteenth Street, New York 2

The most momentous question of this day is international peace and arbitration, and universal peace is impossible without universal suffrage. Children are educated by the women. The mother bears the troubles and anxieties of rearing the child, undergoes the ordeal of its birth and training. Therefore, it is most difficult for mothers to send to the battlefield those upon whom they have lavished such love and care. Consider a son reared and trained twenty years by a devoted mother. What sleepless nights and restless, anxious days she has spent! Having brought him through dangers and difficulties to the age of maturity, how agonizing then to sacrifice him upon the battlefield! Therefore, the mothers will not sanction war nor be satisfied with it. So it will come to pass that when women participate fully and equally in the affairs of the world, when they enter confidently and capably the great arena of laws and politics, war will cease; for woman will be the obstacle and hindrance to it. This is true and without doubt.

New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts 3

Monday [May 20th] and Tuesday [May 21st] were spent in interviews and public talks such as one to a Woman’s Suffragist group in the Metropolitan Temple.

Monday, May 20, 1912 4

Among those visiting the Master at the [Mr. and Mrs. Edward B.] Kinney’s home were some narrow-minded Christian ministers. He spoke to them about the misunderstandings among Christians about Islam. After the Master spoke emphatically with reasoning and proofs to establish the reality of Islam, the ministers left humbly and joyfully, impressed by His explanations.

In the evening an enthusiastic gathering of women suffragists gathered to hear the Master’s address. While riding in Mr. [Mountfort] Mills’s automobile, the Master said: ‘You will learn of the value of this automobile later because it will be said that the servants of the Blessed Beauty sat in it.’

When He entered the gathering, the entire audience stood with great joy and excitement. The chairman of the meeting Mrs [Eliza Jean Nelson] Penfield first gave an introductory account of the persecutions and imprisonment of the Master and explained the meaning of the name ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. The Master then spoke at length about the education and rights of women. There was great excitement in the audience, and, as in other gatherings, the people were deeply moved and both men and women shook His hand, supplicating for assistance.

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

Mahmud: May 20 — Driving to a Women Suffragists Gathering


  1. Jones, Caitlin Shayda. “‘This Is a Symbol of My Power,’ She Said.” 239 Days in America, May 20, 2012. https://239days.com/2012/05/20/this-is-a-symbol-of-my-power-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, 134-135. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/9#759960588.
  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#section57.

239 Days in America, Day 30: May 10, 1912 | Washington, D.C.

The Amazing and Versatile Barneys of Washington 1

On ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s second day in Washington he spoke to a group of children who visit Alice’s [Barney] “Studio House” every weekend for Sunday classes. She had designed it years before, to showcase artifacts she had collected during her travels. Its Spanish Mission façade jumps out, in true Barney fashion, from the Beaux Arts style of the surrounding buildings. Tiger and bear pelts, mouths agape, are spread on the tiled floor. The columns in the first floor reception room bear bunches of carved grapes; the textures and colors of the fabrics are a feast for little hands and eyes. But perhaps the most surprising detail is what the house lacks: neither a bed nor a closet can be found in it.

But although the press knows Mrs. Barney primarily for her bizarre tastes, the Times also writes about her “deep sympathy with human kind.” The Studio House is not the only building in which Mrs. Barney has crystallized her ideals. Today, on May 10, 1912, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá will visit a settlement house that she established in 1901. The settlement movement in America aimed to improve the lives of the urban poor. It is here that Alice Barney applies her many talents, teaching sculpture, theatre, painting, and other arts to assist Washington’s less fortunate.

Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Washington, D.C.

On Friday, May 10, He spoke at a women’s meeting, visited a settlement house for children, and went to Mrs. Alice Barney’s for supper, where He talked late into the night. The next day ‘Abdu’l-Bahá left Washington. 2

Talk at Hotel Schenley, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 7 May 1912

The sixth principle or teaching of Bahá’u’lláh concerns the equality of man and woman. He has declared that in the estimation of God there is no distinction of sex. The one whose heart is most pure, whose deeds and service in the Cause of God are greater and nobler, is most acceptable before the divine threshold—whether male or female. In the vegetable and animal kingdoms sex exists in perfect equality and without distinction or invidious estimate. The animal, although inferior to man in intelligence and reason, recognizes sex equality. Why should man, who is endowed with the sense of justice and sensibilities of conscience, be willing that one of the members of the human family should be rated and considered as subordinate? Such differentiation is neither intelligent nor conscientious; therefore, the principle of religion has been revealed by Bahá’u’lláh that woman must be given the privilege of equal education with man and full right to his prerogatives. That is to say, there must be no difference in the education of male and female in order that womankind may develop equal capacity and importance with man in the social and economic equation. Then the world will attain unity and harmony. In past ages humanity has been defective and inefficient because it has been incomplete. War and its ravages have blighted the world; the education of woman will be a mighty step toward its abolition and ending, for she will use her whole influence against war. Woman rears the child and educates the youth to maturity. She will refuse to give her sons for sacrifice upon the field of battle. In truth, she will be the greatest factor in establishing universal peace and international arbitration. Assuredly, woman will abolish warfare among mankind. Inasmuch as human society consists of two parts, the male and female, each the complement of the other, the happiness and stability of humanity cannot be assured unless both are perfected. Therefore, the standard and status of man and woman must become equalized.

Among other teachings and principles Bahá’u’lláh counsels the education of all members of society. No individual should be denied or deprived of intellectual training, although each should receive according to capacity. None must be left in the grades of ignorance, for ignorance is a defect in the human world. All mankind must be given a knowledge of science and philosophy—that is, as much as may be deemed necessary. All cannot be scientists and philosophers, but each should be educated according to his needs and deserts. 3

Friday, May 10, 1912 4

Several distinguished people came to visit ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in the morning. After a private interview involving lengthy questions and answers, He spoke in detail on the preeminence and progress of this century and the decline of the dogmatic formalism of the nations.

In the afternoon ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spoke to a gathering of distinguished women on the rights and education of women. Later, after a drive in the park, He visited a home for the poor which had been established through the efforts of Mrs [Alice Barney-] Hemmick. In the evening, He spoke about the influence of the Cause of God, the spiritual power of Bahá’u’lláh, ending His talk with loving exhortations to the Bahá’ís.

The Master dined at the home of Mrs Hemmick and Mme [Laura] Dreyfus-Barney. Everyone was delighted to be in His presence and floated in a sea of happiness until late at night listening to His loving admonitions and exhortations.

  1. Jones, Caitlin Shayda. “The Amazing and Versatile Barneys of Washington.” 239 Days in America, May 10, 2012. https://239days.com/2012/05/10/the-amazing-and-versatile-barneys-of-washington/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 64.
  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, 108. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/7#714526334
  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#section47.

239 Days in America, Day 27: May 07, 1912 | Pittsburgh

“One of the Deep and Vital Problems of Society” 1

‘Abdu’l-Bahá has been both extremely wealthy and extremely poor. As a child, his family was one of the wealthiest in Persia, and he lived in lavish luxury. But when he was eight years old, they were suddenly stripped of their wealth, lands, and houses, because of their religious beliefs, and left homeless overnight. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s mother, Asiyih, would pull the gold buttons off her clothes and sell them in order to feed her children. Once, all she could offer her eldest son to eat was a handful of flour.

So when ‘Abdu’l-Bahá talks about the moral implications of an unjust economic order, he speaks from experience on both sides of the tracks.

“It is evident that under present systems and conditions of government,” he said, “the poor are subject to the greatest need and distress while others more fortunate live in luxury and plenty far beyond their actual necessities. This drastic inequality is “one of the deep and vital problems of society.”

The solution? “The remedy must be legislative readjustment of conditions.” But, he says, “The rich too must be merciful to the poor, contributing from willing hearts to their needs without being forced or compelled to do so.”

By combining these approaches — uncoerced generosity by the rich and laws that prevent economic extremes — ‘Abdu’l-Bahá tells his audience: “The composure of the world will be assured.” 2

Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Washington, D.C.

On May 7, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá left at 8:00 A.M. for Pittsburgh, arriving about noon, and went with the friends to His rooms in the Hotel Schenley. One by one He talked to them privately. Among other things, they kept asking Him if He liked the rooms. He told each of them, “‘Very good! Very good!’” After they had departed, He turned to Dr. Zia Bagdadi and exclaimed:

“The friends are anxious to know if I like these rooms! They do not know what we had to go through in the past. Imagine the condition and surroundings when we were … imprisoned in the barracks of “Akká; Bahá’u’lláh occupied one room; His family and several other families were forced to occupy one room. Aside from the sever illness that was raging, and the death of many among us prisoners—adults and children—on account of unsanitary surroundings and starvation, I noticed that my own presence in that crowded room was another source of torture to all of them. This was due to the fact that parents and children were suppressing and restraining themselves by trying to be quiet and polite in my presence. So, in order to give them freedom, I accepted the morgue of the barracks, because that was the only room available, and I lived in it for about two years. Now the kind friends here wish to know if I like these magnificent rooms! 3 4

Talk at Hotel Schenley, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

No matter how far the material world advances, it cannot establish the happiness of mankind. Only when material and spiritual civilization are linked and coordinated will happiness be assured. Then material civilization will not contribute its energies to the forces of evil in destroying the oneness of humanity, for in material civilization good and evil advance together and maintain the same pace. For example, consider the material progress of man in the last decade. Schools and colleges, hospitals, philanthropic institutions, scientific academies and temples of philosophy have been founded, but hand in hand with these evidences of development, the invention and production of means and weapons for human destruction have correspondingly increased. In early days the weapon of war was the sword; now it is the magazine rifle. Among the ancients, men fought with javelins and daggers; now they employ shells and bombs. Dreadnoughts are built, torpedoes invented, and every few days new ammunition is forthcoming.

All this is the outcome of material civilization; therefore, although material advancement furthers good purposes in life, at the same time it serves evil ends. The divine civilization is good because it cultivates morals. Consider what the Prophets of God have contributed to human morality. Jesus Christ summoned all to the Most Great Peace through the acquisition of pure morals. If the moral precepts and foundations of divine civilization become united with the material advancement of man, there is no doubt that the happiness of the human world will be attained and that from every direction the glad tidings of peace upon earth will be announced. Then humankind will achieve extraordinary progress, the sphere of human intelligence will be immeasurably enlarged, wonderful inventions will appear, and the spirit of God will reveal itself; all men will consort in joy and fragrance, and eternal life will be conferred upon the children of the Kingdom. Then will the power of the divine make itself effective and the breath of the Holy Spirit penetrate the essence of all things. Therefore, the material and the divine, or merciful, civilizations must progress together until the highest aspirations and desires of humanity shall become realized. 5

Tuesday, May 7, 1912 6

Early in the morning ‘Abdu’l-Bahá received newspapers giving news of His arrival, His addresses and the meetings of the Bahá’ís, and describing the respect shown to Him, each report having a photograph of Him taken with us.

Shortly afterwards He received a letter from a dignitary of the city, who stated that after reading the newspapers and reflecting on the teachings of the Cause, he was convinced of its truth and greatness and wished to submit to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá a statement of his conviction and recognition of the Faith.

We left Cleveland at 8:00 a.m., arriving in Pittsburgh around noon. The friends in Pittsburgh, who had been informed by telegram of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s arrival, were waiting at the station. When the train pulled in, they were overjoyed to see Him and followed Him to the Hotel Schenley where He was staying.

After an hour’s brief rest, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá received many people who had been invited by the friends to meet Him. Some were leaders of the Jewish community who invited Him to address their congregations. However, owing to a previous commitment at the Peace Congress in New York City, He was not able to accept their invitation.

There was a large meeting in the evening at the hotel for the friends in Pittsburgh.90 ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spoke on the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh, His address ending with these words: ‘The East must acquire material civilization from the West and the West must learn divine civilization from the East.’ Everyone expressed their appreciation of the teachings with the utmost sincerity.

A little later a group of philosophers, doctors and journalists met with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. He spoke to them in detail about composition and decomposition and the diagnosis of disease:

“If one is fully cognizant of the reason for the incursion of disease and can determine the balance of elements, he can cure diseases by administering the food that can restore the normal level of the deficient element. In this way there will be no need for medicines and other difficulties will not arise.”

After a detailed discussion of this subject, He asked them, ‘Although animals do not know the science of medicine, why, when they are sick, do they abstain instinctively from what is injurious to them and eat foods that are beneficial, while man, when ailing, inclines more to that which is injurious to him?’ They had no answer to this question and stated that the Master knew the answer better than they.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá then gave a description of the extraordinary power of the world of humanity and the freedom of man from the limitations of nature:

“Since man’s attention is not confined to one interest, his negligence is greater; while his comprehension is greater than that of all other creatures when it is focused and fixed on one subject.”

Thus did the Master speak to the group of journalists, philosophers and doctors, who thanked Him for His discourse.

  1. Jones, Caitlin Shayda. “‘One of the Deep and Vital Problems of Society.’” 239 Days in America, May 7, 2012. https://239days.com/2012/05/07/one-of-the-deep-and-vital-problems-of-society/.
  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, 107. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/7#904155405.
  3. Bagdadi, Zia. “‘Abdu’l-Bahá in America,” Star of the West, 19, no. 5. (Aug. 1928) 140-41.
  4. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 63-64.
  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, 109. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/7#650792604
  6. ’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#section44.

239 Days in America, Day 26: May 06, 1912 | Cleveland

The Ultimate Taboo 1

‘Abdu’l-Bahá arrived at Cleveland’s Union Station on the New York Central train from Chicago at 4:20 p.m. on May 7 [May 6 – ed.], 1912. During the past two weeks, Americans had learned of his battle against the ideologies of racial prejudice from major Washington newspapers and the Chicago Defender. But hardly anyone, whether black or white, had any inkling of just how far ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was willing to go.

Reporters and visitors followed him up to his rooms after his evening talk to 200 people at the Hotel Euclid. To an African-American clergyman and a group of about twenty white women sitting in a circle, he broached the most dangerous of all subjects. The Cleveland Plain Dealer, one of Ohio’s biggest newspapers, reported it unvarnished the next morning [May 7]:

“Abdul Baha . . . declared last night for an amalgamation of the white and negro races by intermarriage.” What ‘Abdu’l-Bahá advocated was illegal in twenty-nine of the forty-eight states — but not in Ohio.

Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Washington, D.C.

The friends and reporters met ‘Abdu’l-Bahá at the train station when He arrived at 4:00 P.M. on May 6. He checked into rooms at the Hotel Euclid and talked to the reporters, and an hour later went to Dr. C. M. Swingle’s home to talk to the Bahá’ís.

He returned to the Hotel for a public meeting attended by some five hundred people, many of whom had to stand. Afterward, a number of them, including reporters, followed Him to His rooms and asked Him questions on various subjects, including intermarriage. This latter discussion caused front-page headlines the next day.

The Cleveland News article stated:

WED RACES? SURE …

“Perfect results follow the marriage of black and white races. All men are the progeny of one… They are of different colors, but the follow is nothing.” — Abdu’l-Bahá

“I believe Abdul Baha is absolutely right. It is inevitable that all races will unite. Black and white and yellow will intermarry and make one perfect race. It is the only logical conclusion.” — Mrs. C. M. Swingle. 2

Talk at Euclid Hall, Cleveland, Ohio

This revered American nation presents evidences of greatness and worth. It is my hope that this just government will stand for peace so that warfare may be abolished throughout the world and the standards of national unity and reconciliation be upraised. This is the greatest attainment of the world of humanity. This American nation is equipped and empowered to accomplish that which will adorn the pages of history, to become the envy of the world and be blest in the East and the West for the triumph of its democracy. I pray that this may come to pass, and I ask the blessing of God in behalf of you all. 3

Monday, May 6, 1912 4

‘Abdu’l-Bahá left Chicago for Cleveland in the morning. As He was leaving, Bahá’ís and non-Bahá’ís surrounded Him like moths around a light, their hearts burning with thoughts of separation and tears flowing from their eyes.

The train reached Cleveland in the afternoon. Many friends and newspaper reporters were at the station to welcome Him. The reporters photographed Him with His companions and asked for an interview.

After making arrangements at the Euclid Hotel for His stay, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá gave the reporters permission to visit. He gave them an account of the history and teachings of the Cause. One of them questioned Him about His mission. He replied:

My message is the oneness of humanity and universal peace; the harmony of true science and religion; the equality of rights; the elimination of religious, racial and political prejudices; the truth of all the divine religions; the removal of religious imitations and superstitions; the education of women to such a degree that they may have equal rights with men; the adjustment of the economic condition of all people so that if a rich man enjoys honor and affluence, the poor man may also have a mat to lie on and a house to dwell in; the establishment of spiritual civilization; the reformation of human morals; the unity of all religions, so that when the people of the world recognize the truth of all religions, they may become united since truth is one — if they follow imitation, war and dissension shall remain, because imitations are the cause of differences.

After an hour, He left the hotel for Dr Swingle’s home for a meeting with the Bahá’ís. After He had some tea, He entered a room that was filled to capacity. He spoke to the friends about the prosperity of America and the perfecting of material civilization with spiritual refinement, the rising of the Sun of Truth, the raising of the divine call and spreading the teachings of God. The friends were deeply moved and full of admiration. Through their meeting with Him, they had found new life. At the beginning of the meeting, a photograph was taken of Him with His companions and some of the friends.

In the evening, the auditorium of the Euclid Hotel was full and there was standing room only. About five hundred Bahá’ís and non-Bahá’ís were enchanted by His charm and speech. The meeting began and ended with music. The audience was most appreciative of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s talk on the necessity of religion, the dangers of war and the benefits of love, unity and harmony.

  1. Menon, Jonathan. “The Ultimate Taboo.” 239 Days in America, May 6, 2012. https://239days.com/2012/05/06/the-ultimate-taboo/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 60.
  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, 103. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/6#532038348
  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#section43.

239 Days in America, Day 25: May 05, 1912 | Chicago

The Master and the President 1

On ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s last day in Chicago — May 5, 1912 — he spent some time in the morning with children who had gathered at the Plaza Hotel, and walked with them into the park to be photographed. Then he said that he wanted to be alone. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá left the group and paced down toward the entrance of Lincoln Park. There he stood gazing up at the sixteenth President cast in bronze…

Today, a few hours after his quiet moment alone with the President, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spoke to the congregation of All Souls Church. In 1905, the church, which didn’t have a building of its own, constructed the Abraham Lincoln Center, a settlement house serving “the advancement of the physical, intellectual, social, civic, moral and religious interests of humanity, irrespective of age, sex, creed, race, [or] condition of political opinion.”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá concluded his speech at All Souls with a prayer. It was about unity:

“O Thou kind Lord! Thou hast created all humanity from the same stock. Thou hast decreed that all shall belong to the same household . . . . O Thou kind Lord! Unite all. Let the religions agree and make the nations one, so that they may see each other as one family and the whole earth as one home.”

Chicago

At 11:00 A.M. [Sunday, May 5] He spoke at the Plymouth Congregational church on East 50th Street. The Reverend Joseph A. Milburn introduced Him: “‘Having heard of the teachings of this peerless qualities of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, I had made arrangements to leave for ‘Akká. Then I was informed that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Himself, was coming to America. God has today endowed us with His presence here.’” As ‘Abdu’l-Bahá came forward, the audience stood, and, even though in a church sanctuary, they burst into prolonged cheers that stopped only when He motioned them to silence. Some of the audience at this and other meetings became so attracted to Him, even though they had just met Him, that they followed Him from meeting to meeting. 2

Talk at Plymouth Congregational Church, 935 East Fiftieth Street, Chicago, Illinois

O God! O Thou Who givest! This congregation is turning to Thee, casting their glances toward Thy Kingdom and favor, longing to behold the lights of Thy face. O God! Bless this nation. Confirm this government. Reveal Thy glory unto this people and confer upon them life eternal. O God! Illumine the faces, render the hearts radiant, exhilarate the breasts, crown the heads with the diadem of Thy providence, cause them to soar in Thy pure atmosphere so they may reach the highest pinnacles of Thy splendor. Assist them in order that this world may ever find the light and effulgence of Thy presence. O God! Shelter this congregation and admonish this nation. Render them progressive in all degrees. May they become leaders in the world of humanity. May they be Thine examples among humankind. May they be manifestations of Thy grace. May they be filled with the inspiration of Thy Word. Thou art the Powerful. Thou art the Mighty. Thou art the Giver, and Thou art the Omniscient. 3

Sunday, May 5, 1912 4

As it was the last day of the Master’s stay, there was much commotion among the friends visiting the Master’s apartment. A large number of Bahá’ís and their children had gathered in the [Plaza] hotel’s salon. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá embraced and kissed each child with love and kindness. Giving them flowers and sweets, He said to them:

According to Christ you are the children of the Kingdom and according to Bahá’u’lláh, the candles of the world of man, for your hearts are in the utmost purity and your spirits are sanctified. You are not soiled with the things of this world. Your hearts are pure and clean like the mirror. Your parents must bring you up with great kindness and must educate you in morals and praiseworthy attributes so that the virtues of the world of man may be exemplified perfectly in your characters and conduct, that you may progress in all fields of endeavor, may acquire knowledge of the arts and sciences, and may become the cause of the manifestation of eternal bounties and universal advancement.

Then addressing the entire assembly, He said:

“I am going, but you must rise up to serve the Cause of God. Endeavor to keep your hearts sanctified and your intentions pure so that you may attract divine bounties. Remember, although the sun shines equally on all things, yet in the mirror its effulgence is intense, and not in the dark stone. The cause of this intensity and heat in the glass is its purity; without purity and cleanliness, these effects would never appear in it. Similarly, if rain fall on barren land, it produces nothing, but if it fall on pure fertile land, it makes it verdant and causes it to yield a harvest. This is the day in which only pure and chaste hearts can derive benefit from the eternal bounties and only pious souls can receive light from the ever-existent splendors. Praise be to God that ye believe in God, have faith in His words and are turned to His Kingdom. You have heard the voice of God and your hearts are delighted with the breezes of the Abhá paradise. Your intentions are good; your object is the will of God; and your desire is to render service to the Kingdom of God.

Therefore, you must gird up your loins with unswerving determination, you must be united among yourselves and you must not be irritated by one another. Your eyes must be turned always to the kingdom of God and not to the world of man. You must love His creation for His sake and not for your own. When you love one another for the sake of God you shall never be perturbed. No human being is perfect, every person has some flaw. If you look to your fellowman you will always be upset; but if you look to God it shall not be so, because the world of God is a world of perfection and endless mercy; therefore, you will love and show kindness to all for His sake. You must not look to the faults of others; you must look with the eye of forgiveness and pardon. The eye that regards faults sees nothing but faults and the eye that overlooks faults is fixed on the Creator of the souls. It is He Who has created all, has nurtured all, has endowed all with life and spirit and has given to all eyes and ears. Thus all are the signs of His power and for His sake we must love all, and show kindness to all, assist the poor, render help to the weak, heal the sick and educate the ignorant.

It is my desire that the union and harmony of the friends of Chicago may be an example for all the friends in America and that all creation may derive benefit from their behavior; that they may lead all. Then and only then shall the confirmations of the Abhá Kingdom and the bounties of the Sun of Reality encircle you.”

  1. Sockett, Robert. “The Master and the President.” 239 Days in America, May 5, 2012. https://239days.com/2012/05/05/the-master-and-the-president/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 56.
  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, 96. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/5#374930584
  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#section42.

239 Days in America, Day 22: May 02, 1912 | Chicago

The Trials of Corinne Knight True 1

TODAY CORINNE TRUE BURIED her last surviving son. Just yesterday she had helped ‘Abdu’l-Bahá lay the cornerstone for a new temple in Wilmette. If ever a life reflected the human quandary about the nature and meaning of suffering, that life belonged to Corinne True.

Chicago

The ballroom at the LaSalle was filled with more than a thousand women of the federated clubs whom He addressed on the equality of women. A second meeting closely followed the first, for the Bahá’í women had invited all of the women’s clubs’ representatives to a reception in ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s honor in the same ballroom. Ten speakers praised Him, and then He spoke again. 2

Talk to Federation of Women’s Clubs, Hotel La Salle, Chicago, Illinois

To accept and observe a distinction which God has not intended in creation is ignorance and superstition. The fact which is to be considered, however, is that woman, having formerly been deprived, must now be allowed equal opportunities with man for education and training. There must be no difference in their education. Until the reality of equality between man and woman is fully established and attained, the highest social development of mankind is not possible. Even granted that woman is inferior to man in some degree of capacity or accomplishment, this or any other distinction would continue to be productive of discord and trouble. The only remedy is education, opportunity; for equality means equal qualification. In brief, the assumption of superiority by man will continue to be depressing to the ambition of woman, as if her attainment to equality was creationally impossible; woman’s aspiration toward advancement will be checked by it, and she will gradually become hopeless. On the contrary, we must declare that her capacity is equal, even greater than man’s. This will inspire her with hope and ambition, and her susceptibilities for advancement will continually increase. She must not be told and taught that she is weaker and inferior in capacity and qualification. If a pupil is told that his intelligence is less than his fellow pupils, it is a very great drawback and handicap to his progress. He must be encouraged to advance by the statement, “You are most capable, and if you endeavor, you will attain the highest degree.”

It is my hope that the banner of equality may be raised throughout the five continents where as yet it is not fully recognized and established. In this enlightened world of the West woman has advanced an immeasurable degree beyond the women of the Orient. And let it be known once more that until woman and man recognize and realize equality, social and political progress here or anywhere will not be possible. For the world of humanity consists of two parts or members: one is woman; the other is man. Until these two members are equal in strength, the oneness of humanity cannot be established, and the happiness and felicity of mankind will not be a reality. God willing, this is to be so. 3

Thursday, May 2, 1912

From morning until noon ‘Abdu’l-Bahá received successive waves of visitors, both friends and inquirers, in His private room. When the numbers grew too large, He went into the outer room and spoke to the visitors about unity, fellowship and the importance of overcoming hatred and enmity. He began by saying:

“The object of my undertaking such a long journey with all its inconveniences has been to bring about spiritual illumination in the Occident, for the Occident has great capacity and its people are less fettered by vain imaginings and imitations. Lofty ideals find a quick acceptance among them and today the loftiest ideal of all is devotion to the unity of mankind and universal peace.

In the afternoon there were two public meetings at the LaSalle Hotel. One was for the Federation of Women’s Clubs and the other for the Unitarian congregation. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s first talk was on education and the rights of women and in the latter He spoke about human powers and gave proofs of the existence of God. Both talks were so impressive, charming and attractive that all the friends from the East and West offered thanks and glorification to the Abhá Kingdom, with smiles on their faces that were like roses in bloom.

Back at the Plaza Hotel, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá responded to questions about the differences in capacities and talents among people, saying:

“Souls possess two types of capacity: one is derived from innate powers and the other is acquired through the education imparted by the Teacher of the world of humanity. The development of innate capacity is completely dependent on education and on man’s own exertions. In other words, innate capacity is not realized without education and exertion on the part of man and its perfection demands effort and training.”

Question: ‘How should one associate with people of bad character?’ ‘Abdu’l-Bahá replied:

“This, too, has two aspects. There are certain evils whose consequences affect the doer only and do not extend to others. Of course, with discretion and tact, we must try to warn and educate wrongdoers. They are sick; we must bring healing to them. But there are actions which are injurious to others. Association with persons who commit such deeds leads to a deterioration of morals and therefore to mingle with them is not advisable, except for persons of perfect integrity, who can also impart education. They should be exhorted to exert themselves to modify their morals and refine their behavior. The public should be protected from such harmful conduct by the institutions which administer justice. Thus, in the Tablets of the Blessed Beauty, although He commends association with people of all religions and races, He also forbids fellowship with the wicked, admonishing us to shun the people of negation and denial.”

Several learned men, scientists, engineers and government officials visited ‘Abdu’l-Bahá today. 4

  1. Sockett, Robert. “The Trials of Corinne Knight True.” 239 Days in America, May 2, 2012. https://239days.com/2012/05/02/trials-corinne-knight-true/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 53.
  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, 76-77. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/4#607844310.
  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#section39.