239 Days in America, Day 161: September 18, 1912 | Minneapolis

The Century of Motion 1

“THE AMERICAN PEOPLE, ‘ABDU’L-BAHÁ remarked, “are not content to stand still.” From the moment he arrived in the United States, on April 11, 1912, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has called attention to the nation’s relentless technological innovation, its commerce and material development, and its commitment to progressive social ideals. He has even noted America’s passion for modern modes of transportation, a passion he seems to share.

At 10 a.m. on the morning of September 18, 1912, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá left the Chicago & North Western Railway station in the busiest rail hub on the planet, and embarked on a four hundred mile train ride west to Minneapolis. It would be the first stop in a two-week journey that would take him nearly two thousand miles to the edge of Pacific Ocean in the state of California.

Minnesota, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah 2

The next day, Wednesday, September 18, Abdu’l-Bahá spoke in the assembly hall of the hotel, at the Commercial Club, and later at a synagogue. …

All of the major newspapers of Minneapolis carried articles about His activities. Concerning His traveling, the September 18 Minneapolis Tribune indicated that “Albert H. Hall received a telegram from Abdul Baha last night [September 17, the night He arrived] announcing his coming.”

Wednesday, September 18, 1912 3

The assembly hall of the hotel became a joyous meeting place for the friends. With great happiness and excitement the friends eagerly listened to the Master’s words.

“Praise be to God that He has given you a prosperous country. Towns are flourishing, commerce is progressing and the outward evidences of prosperity are displayed with utmost beauty and perfection. But all these things are as nothing when compared to the bounties of God. The whole globe is nothing before one ray of the Sun of Truth. Thus it is said in the Gospel that Satan took Christ to the top of a high mountain, showed Him the world outspread and told Him that he would give Him all these things if he would follow him. But Christ refused.”

He then answered questions from the audience about socialism and gave interviews to some newspaper reporters about various subjects, such as the necessity for a spiritual civilization, spiritual guidance and the principles and life history of Bahá’u’lláh.

Later, a Jewish rabbi visited the Master and requested that He speak in his synagogue. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spoke with him, saying, ‘I have come from your original homeland, Jerusalem. I passed forty-five years in Palestine, but I was in prison.’ The rabbi said, ‘We are all prisoners in this world.’ The Master added, ‘But I was imprisoned in two prisons. Even then I was contented and was completely happy and grateful.’ The rabbi then said, ‘The Prophets of God have always been imprisoned and now His Holiness ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the chosen one of God, is imprisoned.’ The Master stated, ‘I am but the servant of God; but the practice of people has always been to persecute all the Prophets and the holy ones and then later to prostrate themselves at the mention of their names.’ When they finished their conversation, the rabbi expressed his sincere thanks and requested permission to leave. The Master embraced Him and said, ‘We desire that all religions unite in bonds of brotherhood, to love one another. May they join hands and embrace each other, and honor and respect one another’s masters.’

The Master was invited to the Commercial Club this morning. As He drove through the city’s parks and boulevards on the way, He remarked:

“Tonight when we speak in the Jewish synagogue we shall bring proofs and arguments in support of the Spirit [Christ]. This is the wish and confirmation of the Blessed Beauty. It is as if the Abhá Beauty were present in the Mansion at ‘Akká and I went into His presence and said that I wished to speak in a Jewish synagogue. It is clear that His wish would be that the truth of Jesus should be demonstrated.”

Several newspaper reporters asked Him questions about the principles of the Faith. He told them:

“The laws and commandments of God are of two kinds: one set is composed of those essential spiritual principles which are the basis for human prosperity, praiseworthy morals and the acquisition of the virtues and perfections of man. These never change. The other kind are subsidiary laws related to our material life. These are revealed to regulate transactions and to meet the exigencies of the time. These change in keeping with the requirements of the age.”

While He was giving a detailed explanation of the laws of God, prominent members of the Club gathered around Him. They listened with rapt attention to His words concerning the failure of the four criteria [for establishing reality] — namely, the senses, the intellect, tradition and inspiration — to arrive at the correct conclusions and the efficacy of all-encompassing power of the command of God. They expressed their sincere admiration for His blessings and kindness, particularly for His talk.

Today a billboard outside a building announced: ‘’Abdu’l-Bahá, the venerable Prophet of the East and the Leader of the Bahá’ís, will speak here at noon today.’

In the evening the Master delivered a brilliant address at the Jewish synagogue, providing decisive proofs of the validity and truth of Christ and the Cause of Muhammad. It was so persuasive that men and women came to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá with the utmost humility and admiration. One of them said openly that he would no longer be a Jew.

16 September 1912, Talk at Home of Mrs. Corinne True, 5338 Kenmore Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 4

We must use our utmost endeavors in order that the Holy Spirit may influence minds and hearts toward peace, the bounties of God surround, the divine effulgences become successive, human souls advance, minds expand in wider vision, souls become more holy and the world of humanity be rid of its great menace. For the betterment of the world Bahá’u’lláh endured all the hardships, ordeals and vicissitudes of life, sacrificing His very being and comfort, forfeiting His estates, possessions and honor—all that pertains to human existence—not for one year, nay, rather, for nearly fifty years. During this long period He was subjected to persecution and abuse, was cast into prison, was banished from His native land, underwent severities and humiliation and was exiled four times. He was first exiled from Persia to Baghdád, thence to Constantinople, thence to Rumelia and finally to the great prison-fortress of ‘Akká in Syria, where He passed the remainder of His life. Every day a new oppression and abuse was heaped upon Him until He winged His flight from the dungeon to the supreme world and returned to His Lord. He endured these ordeals and difficulties in order that this earthly human world might become heavenly, that the illumination of the divine Kingdom should become a reality in human hearts, that the individual members of mankind might progress, the power of the Holy Spirit increase its efficacy and penetration and the happiness of the world of humanity be assured. He desired for all tranquillity and composure and exercised loving-kindness toward the nations regardless of conditions and differences. He addressed humanity, saying, “O humankind! Verily, ye are all the leaves and fruits of one tree; ye are all one. Therefore, associate in friendship; love one another; abandon prejudices of race; dispel forever this gloomy darkness of human ignorance, for the century of light, the Sun of Reality hath appeared. Now is the time for affiliation, and now is the period of unity and concord. For thousands of years ye have been contending in warfare and strife. It is enough. Now is the time for unity. Lay aside all self-purposes, and know for a certainty that all men are the servants of one God Who will bind them together in love and agreement.”

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

Praising signs of a prosperous country and warning against materialism

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

September 18, 1912


  1. Sockett, Robert. “The Century of Motion.” 239 Days in America, 18 Sept. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/09/18/the-century-of-motion/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 147-148.
  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#section178
  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, 322. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/23#550254111

239 Days in America, Day 93: July 12, 1912 | New York

The Short and Fearless Life of Lua Getsinger 1

AT ABOUT MIDNIGHT ON December 8, 1898, dozens of pairs of eyes peered at Louisa Moore Getsinger through the darkness of a poorly-lighted coffee house near the beach where the ship had dropped them off. Lua was a long way from home: this was Haifa, an outpost of the Ottoman Empire on the shores of the Holy Land. A group of men sat cross-legged on the floor, sipping tea, and speaking Persian and Arabic. One of them nodded; the rest stared in amazement…

Everything was wrapped in secrecy so as not to arouse the suspicion of the authorities, because ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was still a prisoner under house arrest. The group of fifteen pilgrims had been instructed to arrive in the Holy Land in groups of two. Lua and her husband, Edward, were the first to arrive.

They waited almost two days before receiving permission to proceed to ‘Akká, a five-mile journey on horseback along the sandy edge of Haifa Bay. Lua later wrote of the “violent beating of my heart.” When she first laid eyes on ‘Abdu’l-Bahá she ran to him, threw herself at his feet, and cried like a child.

“Arise and be of good cheer!” she remembers ‘Abdu’l-Bahá saying. He wasn’t one for outbursts of devotion, not to mention people prostrating themselves at his feet. Lua would stay in the Holy Land for four months, learn to speak Persian, and listen as ‘Abdu’l-Bahá instilled in her the need for women to arise and do “great things.”

New York City 2

While He [‘Abdu’l-Bahá] had already proclaimed the Faith in Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and other places, it was in New York that He stayed day after day, deepening those who came to Him, preparing them to develop new inner eyes, ears, hearts, and minds, bringing together interracial gatherings, trying to get the friends to see the spiritual qualities of each other as a reality.

Thursday, July 12, 1912 3

As the heat was excessive and because He had been revealing Tablets and visiting with the friends, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was tired. We said that there was a bath in the house and that the Master could have His bath every day. He said: ‘We are like soldiers; we must not form any habits or have a care for anything.’

At another time He was asked how He liked the large buildings of America. He replied:

“I have not come to see very tall buildings or places of interest in America. I look always for the foundation of the love of God in the realm of the hearts. I have no inclination to see other sights.”

At a meeting with the friends in the afternoon He explained the uniqueness of the divine teachings of this great Cause. Among them are the establishment of the Covenant and the Expounder of the Book ’[Abdu’l-Bahá], thereby closing the door on the differences that have arisen at the inception of past Dispensations; association with all religions; the prohibition of cursing or execrating other sects; the commandment to forgive enemies; the oneness of humanity and universal brotherhood; the giving and taking in marriage from all nationalities; the injunctions to parents to educate their children, whether boys or girls; the equality of the rights of men and women; the establishment of the supreme House of Justice as the center of authority; and finally the relinquishing of religious, patriotic, racial and political prejudices. His talk was long and very detailed.

In the evening ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was invited to Brooklyn and we accompanied Him. On the way He spoke about New York’s large population and the occupations of the people:

“This city with its suburbs has about half the population of Persia. If Persia had a population and an affluence like this, and had she turned herself to progress, she would have far excelled this country in all respects. There can be no comparison whatsoever between these people and the manners, love, hospitality, intuition and sagacity of the Persians.”

He then described the days of the Blessed Beauty’s sojourn in Constantinople, the self-subsistence and grandeur of the Ancient Beauty and the testimony of Mírzá Husayn Khán, who had said in Tihrán that there was only one person, Bahá’u’lláh, who had been the cause of glory and exaltation of the Persians in foreign lands and who did not court anyone’s favor in that city.

After approximately an hour’s drive, the carriage stopped at the home of Mrs Newton and Mrs Rivers. After a short rest, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá went to the table for dinner. Afterwards, He thanked the hostesses, spoke briefly and then returned home. On the way back He spoke about the difference in time between the East and the West. ‘Here it is almost midnight’, He said, ‘while in the East it is midday and in other countries it is afternoon. Here we are going to sleep, while in the East they are busy doing work.’

While the carriage was in motion it felt less hot but the long distance and the exceedingly hot weather took their toll on ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. The carriage crossed the Hudson River, passing through the length of the city, which was bedecked with gas and electric lamps of red, yellow and green and colorful advertisements along its wide streets and in the shops. The light emanating from them threw a luster on the greatness of this mighty century. Then the carriage reached home.

Diary of Juliet Thompson, 12 July 1912 4

Percy [Stickney Grant] spent the morning with us, leaving us for a little while to return with bottles of ginger ale and grape juice which he mixed into a drink for us. When he finally left about noon I followed him out of the studio.

“What message have you,” I asked, “for the Master?”

He swore! It was a very mild swear, but he coupled the Master’s name with it, so I can’t repeat it.

“I believe you love Him,” he said fiercely, “more than anything on earth.”

“I do.”

“More than your art,” he added quickly.

“But of course.”

“Well, you shouldn’t. With your talent, Juliet, you could do immortal work. Do you never think of that?”

“I am thinking of His immortal work in us.”

“He has done it, in you!”

“Not yet.”

“Juliet, I have wanted to co-operate with Him. You know that. But I don’t believe He can do this thing alone.”

“I believe He is perfectly able to do it alone.”

“You do?”

“He changes the hearts and nobody else can do that. Well, what message shall I take to Him?”

“Tell Him with my greeting that I will come up some time to see Him, but I am out of town a great deal, most of the time, and–“

“Can’t you do any better than that?” I asked.

“I want to do something for His comfort and when Mr Flagler’s yacht comes back I want to take Him up the Hudson. I will be in town Friday, Juliet.”

“Then come up on Friday to see Him with me. Please come. You know I don’t often persist, but this time–forgive me if I do.”

“I think it is beautiful of you to persist in this instance, Juliet.” With the face of a martyr he kissed my hand. “I will come Friday.”

And, looking unspeakably miserable, he left me.

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

The divine Prophets are conjoined in the perfect state of love. Each One has given the glad tidings of His successor’s coming and each successor has sanctioned the One Who preceded Him. They were in the utmost unity, but Their followers are in strife. For instance, Moses gave the message of the glad tidings of Christ, and Christ confirmed the Prophethood of Moses. Therefore, between Moses and Jesus there is no variation or conflict. They are in perfect unity, but between the Jew and the Christian there is conflict. Now, therefore, if the Christian and Jewish peoples investigate the reality underlying their Prophets’ teachings, they will become kind in their attitude toward each other and associate in the utmost love, for reality is one and not dual or multiple. If this investigation of reality becomes universal, the divergent nations will ratify all the divine Prophets and confirm all the Holy Books. No strife or rancor will then remain, and the world will become united. Then will we associate in the reality of love. We will become as fathers and sons, as brothers and sisters living together in complete unity, love and happiness; for this century is the century of light. It is not like former centuries. Former centuries were epochs of oppression. Now human intellects have developed, and human intelligence has increased. Each soul is investigating reality. This is not a time when we shall wage war and be hostile toward each other. We are living at a time when we should enjoy real friendship.

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

‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s conversation with Reverend Percy Grant

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

July 12, 1912


  1. Sockett, Robert. “The Short and Fearless Life of Lua Getsinger.” 239 Days in America, 12 July 2012, https://239days.com/2012/07/12/lua-getsingers-odyssey/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 110.
  3. ’Abdu’l-Bahá, and Mirza Mahmud-i-Zarqani. Mahmúd’s Diary: The Diary of Mírzá Mahmúd-i-Zarqání Chronicling ’Abdu’l-Bahá’s Journey to America. Edited by Shirley Macias. Translated by Mohi Sobhani. Oxford: George Ronald, 1998. https://bahai-library.com/zarqani_mahmuds_diary&chapter=5#section110
  4. Thompson, Juliet. The Diary of Juliet Thompson. Edited by Marzieh Gail. 1st ed. 1947. Reprint, Los Angeles: Kalimát Press, 1983, 338-339. https://archive.org/details/diaryofjuliettho0000thom/page/338/mode/2up
  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, 222-223. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/16#846487127

239 Days in America, Day 21: May 01, 1912 | Chicago

Breaking Ground at Grosse Point 1

Early this morning, May 1, 1912, they had begun to assemble on this piece of land in the village of Wilmette. The Master had arrived at 1 p.m. First he took a private moment to console Mrs. Corinne True, whose son, Davis, had passed away the night before. Mrs. True had invested more than five years of her life in finding a site for the temple, and in raising the funds necessary to buy the land. Today, in spite of her recent loss, she was here to see things through. Then ‘Abdu’l-Bahá walked under the large tent where three hundred people sat on chairs in concentric circles, between nine equally spaced aisles. He strode to the center and began to talk about this unique religious institution.

“Thousands,” he said, “will be built in the East and in the West.” 2 But they were more than just places to pray. They would become the central edifices in a complex of institutions devoted to social, humanitarian, educational, and scientific pursuits. Together, they would offer a new model of faith dedicated to the service of humankind. They would become “one of the most vital institutions in the world.” 3

Chicago

On Wednesday, May 1, the day ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was to lay the foundation stone for the first Bahá’í House of Worship in the Western Hemisphere, weather forecasters in the Chicago Daily News predicted unsettled conditions “and probably occasional showers to-night.” A marquee tent had been set up on the Temple site, with three hundred chairs arranged in nine sections separated by aisles leading to a central open area. A special entryway had been prepared for ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s carriage in the middle of the eastern side of the tract. He arrived, instead, by taxi and entered on the northern side. Pacing back and forth before the filled chairs and two hundred additional person who were standing, He spoke of the importance of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár. 4

Talk at Public Meeting Concluding Convention of Bahá’í Temple Unity, Drill Hall, Masonic Temple, Chicago, Illinois, 30 April 1912

[T]he original purpose of temples and houses of worship is simply that of unity—places of meeting where various peoples, different races and souls of every capacity may come together in order that love and agreement should be manifest between them. That is why Bahá’u’lláh has commanded that a place of worship be built for all the religionists of the world; that all religions, races and sects may come together within its universal shelter; that the proclamation of the oneness of mankind shall go forth from its open courts of holiness—the announcement that humanity is the servant of God and that all are submerged in the ocean of His mercy. It is the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár. The world of existence may be likened to this temple and place of worship. For just as the external world is a place where the people of all races and colors, varying faiths, denominations and conditions come together—just as they are submerged in the same sea of divine favors—so, likewise, all may meet under the dome of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár and adore the one God in the same spirit of truth; for the ages of darkness have passed away, and the century of light has come. Ignorant prejudices are being dispelled, and the light of unity is shining. The differences existing between nations and peoples will soon be annulled, and the fundamentals of the divine religions, which are no other than the oneness and solidarity of the human race, are being established. For thousands of years the human race has been at war. It is enough. Now let mankind, for a time at least, consort in amity and peace. Enmity and hatred have ruled. Let the world, for a period, exercise love. For thousands of years the nations have denied each other, considering each other as infidel and inferior. It is sufficient. We must now realize that we are the servants of one God, that we turn to one beneficent Father, live under one divine law, seek one reality and have one desire. Thus may we live in the utmost friendship and love, and in return the favors and bounties of God shall surround us; the world of humanity will be reformed; mankind, enjoy a new life; eternal light will illumine, and heavenly moralities become manifest. 5

Talk at Dedication of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár Grounds, Wilmette, Illinois

The power which has gathered you here today notwithstanding the cold and windy weather is, indeed, mighty and wonderful. It is the power of God, the divine favor of Bahá’u’lláh which has drawn you together. We praise God that through His constraining love human souls are assembled and associated in this way.

Thousands of Mashriqu’l-Adhkárs, dawning points of praise and mention of God for all religionists will be built in the East and in the West, but this, being the first one erected in the Occident, has great importance. In the future there will be many here and elsewhere—in Asia, Europe, even in Africa, New Zealand and Australia—but this edifice in Chicago is of especial significance. It has the same importance as the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár in ‘Ishqábád, Caucasus, Russia, the first one built there. In Persia there are many; some are houses which have been utilized for the purpose, others are homes entirely devoted to the divine Cause, and in some places temporary structures have been erected. In all the cities of Persia there are Mashriqu’l-Adhkárs, but the great dawning point was founded in ‘Ishqábád. It possesses superlative importance because it was the first Mashriqu’l-Adhkár built. All the Bahá’í friends agreed and contributed their utmost assistance and effort. The Afnán devoted his wealth, gave all he had to it. From such a mighty and combined effort a beautiful edifice arose. Notwithstanding their contributions to that building, they have assisted the fund here in Chicago as well. The Mashriqu’l-Adhkár in ‘Ishqábád is almost completed. It is centrally located, nine avenues leading into it, nine gardens, nine fountains; all the arrangement and construction is according to the principle and proportion of the number nine. It is like a beautiful bouquet. Imagine a very lofty, imposing edifice surrounded completely by gardens of variegated flowers, with nine avenues leading through them, nine fountains and pools of water. Such is its matchless, beautiful design. Now they are building a hospital, a school for orphans, a home for cripples, a hospice and a large dispensary. God willing, when it is fully completed, it will be a paradise.

I hope the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár in Chicago will be like this. Endeavor to have the grounds circular in shape. If possible, adjust and exchange the plots in order to make the dimensions and boundaries circular. The Mashriqu’l-Adhkár cannot be triangular in shape. It must be in the form of a circle. 6

Wednesday, May 1, 1912

In the morning ‘Abdu’l-Bahá looked at some buildings from His balcony and enjoyed the lovely view of the park. He spoke to us, until visitors arrived, about the early days of the Most Great Prison and the sufferings of the Blessed Beauty. He sent several telegrams today to the assemblies of the East, sharing with them the glad tidings of the assistance of Bahá’u’lláh.

He spoke with the friends for a time and bestowed upon them His love. About an hour later He went to the proposed site of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár located outside the city, where property had been purchased for the construction of this great building. By the time He arrived the friends had already assembled and had pitched a large tent for the meeting.

’ Abdu’l-Bahá first drove around the site, inspecting its boundaries, and then entered the tent. The friends stood all about Him, their eyes intently fixed on His luminous face. It was in these circumstances that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá gave His talk on the power of the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh to unite the people of the East and the West beneath the shadow of the Word of God. He also spoke about the Mashriqu’l-Adhkárs of ‘Ishqábád and America. He then went to the spot where He was to lay the cornerstone with His own hands. Miss Holmes presented Him with a golden trowel especially prepared for the occasion. He took it in His hand and dug the earth for the foundation stone. Then the delegates from the American assemblies, followed by representatives of the Eastern friends, each took the trowel and continued digging the foundation. Among them were Mihtar Ardishír Bahrám Surúsh representing the Bahá’ís of Pársí background, Siyyid Asadu’lláh representing the Bahá’ís of Muslim origin, Zia Bagdadi representing the Arabian friends and Ghodsieh (Qudsíyyih) Khánum Ashraf representing the Bahá’í women of the East. When the digging was completed, the Master set the stone in place with His own hand.78 He then showered His love and affection on the friends and left the site. Most of the friends remained and had lunch inside the tent.

There was a reception at the Plaza Hotel later that afternoon at which the Master spoke on divine civilization and spiritual qualities.79 Both before and after the meeting friends and inquirers requested interviews and asked Him questions on several subjects. 7

  1. Sockett, Robert. “Breaking Ground at Grosse Point.” 239 Days in America, May 1, 2012. https://239days.com/2012/05/01/dont-call-it-a-church/.
  2. Effendi, Shoghi. God Passes By. 1944. Reprint, Wilmette, IL: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1970, 351.https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/shoghi-effendi/god-passes-by/1#337700484.
  3. Baháʾuʾlláh. The Kitáb-i-Aqdas: The Most Holy Book. Haifa: Baháʾi World Centre, 1992, 190-191. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/bahaullah/kitab-i-aqdas/13#371279610.
  4. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 51.
  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, 65-66. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/4#281413700.
  6. 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, 71-72. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/4#181680280.
  7. ’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#section38.

239 Days in America, Day 19: April 29, 1912 | Chicago

Next Stop . . . the Windy City 1

The clock at Grand Central Station reaches the noon hour. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, who was expected at a quarter to ten this morning, still hasn’t arrived. The watchers remain on the platform, easing forward in anticipation each time a train thunders in, only to step back and resume their peering right and left along the endless lines of tracks that crisscross Chicago.

Like clockwork, their routine goes on all day.

Then evening creeps in. The sun has set and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá is nowhere to be found. A few remain on the platform, but the reporters have all gone home, or perhaps back to the office to face their editors without having gotten the story. One of them would find a clever solution to the conundrum by filing an article under the simple headline: “BAHAIST CHIEF MISSING!”

Chicago 2

“BAHAIST CHIEF MISSING,” proclaimed the Monday, April 29, Chicago Daily News:

Where is Abdul-Baha, son of Baha’o’llah, … who was coming to Chicago today to preach the universal brotherhood of man?

Chicago Bahaists—there are said to be some 40,000,000 followers in the world—asked each other this question and failed to find an answer. In the Corinthian hall in the Masonic Temple building 170 delegates attending the Bahai convention waited for the leader of the movement.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá arrived on Monday evening, April 29, His nineteenth day in America, and drove to the Plaza Hotel next to Lincoln Park. The phone was already ringing with calls from reporter requesting interview time. “‘Tomorrow morning,’” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá told them.

April 29, 1912 Feast of Lights

Tonight (er, last night) I attended and helped with the Chicago Commemoration of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s visit. It was amazing! But I need to prepare for tomorrow (er, later today), so I won’t be able to describe it now. Suffice it to say the excitement and sublimity were palpable.

[En route to and arrival in Chicago]

Can you imagine taking a train trip with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá from Washington D.C. to Chicago? Today (in 1912) the train was still en route; it will arrive in the evening, as described below. It’s interesting to think about Chicago being the site where the first mention of the Faith was uttered in 1892–and the first community was developed. Also it is interesting how ‘Abdu’l-Bahá summarizes the time spent in Washington D.C. He will visit both cities three different times on this journey. 3

Monday, April 29, 1912

In the morning the Master again praised the beauty and fertility of the countryside; a more fertile land had never before been seen. He had breakfast in the dining car. Today He spoke mostly about the days of the Blessed Beauty and had Him constantly in mind.

The train reached Chicago at night. The city was so bright with lights it was as if it were the Feast of Lights. When the friends saw the Master at the train station, they were filled with excitement, crying out ‘Alláh-u-Abhá’ and ‘Yá ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’, their voices resounding throughout the station.

The Master went to the Plaza Hotel. After a brief rest, He was visited by some of the Bahá’ís, to whom He said:

“You have a good city. The call of God was first raised in this city. I hope that in Chicago the Cause of God will progress greatly and that it may be illumined by the light of the Kingdom just as it is brightened by electricity.

In Washington we always had audiences of one to two thousand in large meetings. Day and night I had no rest. A close friendship was created between the black and white people. Many came to the Faith. Even those who are not believers drew much closer. Notwithstanding all this, I like Chicago more because the call of Bahá’u’lláh was first raised in this city. I hope you will be assisted to do great service and to live together in the utmost love and harmony.”

When the believers begged for protection from tests and trials, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said to them:

“The severest tests were in Persia where properties were pillaged and the friends were martyred. They had not a moment’s security. In short, I had a great desire to see you. If I hadn’t this desire, the assistance of Bahá’u’lláh would not have encompassed me. It is His assistance that has brought me here, for, at the time of leaving Alexandria, when I boarded the ship, I was not well at all.

Some newspaper reporters telephoned, asking permission to interview the Master. He agreed that they could interview Him the following morning. After dinner, He looked out at the park and, gazing at the scenery before Him, said, ‘This building commands a good view; most of the parks, streets and the city’s lights can be seen.’ 4

Talk at Howard University, Washington, D.C., 23 April 1912

Now ponder this: Animals, despite the fact that they lack reason and understanding, do not make colors the cause of conflict. Why should man, who has reason, create conflict? This is wholly unworthy of him. Especially white and black are the descendants of the same Adam; they belong to one household. In origin they were one; they were the same color. Adam was of one color. Eve had one color. All humanity is descended from them. Therefore, in origin they are one. These colors developed later due to climates and regions; they have no significance whatsoever. Therefore, today I am very happy that white and black have gathered together in this meeting. I hope this coming together and harmony reaches such a degree that no distinctions shall remain between them, and they shall be together in the utmost harmony and love. 5

  1. Sockett, Robert. “Next Stop . . . the Windy City.” 239 Days in America, April 29, 2012. https://239days.com/2012/04/29/next-stop-the-windy-city/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 47-48.
  3. Perry, Anne. “’Abdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in the West . . .: April 29, 1912 Feast of Lights.” ’Abdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in the West . . . (blog), April 29, 2012. https://master-in-america.blogspot.com/2012/04/april-29-1912-feast-of-lights.html.
  4. 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#section36
  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, 45. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/3#814028704.

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