239 Days in America, Day 156: September 13, 1912 | Chicago

“Sometimes I Made Him Laugh” 1

‘ABDU’L-BAHÁ STEPPED DOWN onto the platform at LaSalle Street Station in Chicago just after 8 p.m. on Friday, September 12, 1912. He knew this part of the city well. Seven blocks north of here he had addressed the Federation of Women’s Clubs at the Hotel LaSalle on May 2. Eleven blocks up he had spoken to a standing-room-only crowd at the Fourth Annual Conference of the NAACP in Handel Hall.

The crowd of well-wishers on the platform parted into two lines to make way for ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. “Come down Zacchaeus,” he called out, “for this day I would sup with thee.” Those who were close enough to hear him turned their attention to a skinny Japanese man dangling above their heads. In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus had singled out Zacchaeus, who had climbed the branches of a tree in order to catch a glimpse of him. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá addressed Saichiro Fujita in the same words; Fujita was hanging from a lamp post. …

Buffalo, Chicago, Kenosha 2

On September 13, when some of the Persian friends remarked to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá that “there was tea better” than that served by Mrs. True, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá replied, “‘This is the best tea of all, because it has been prepared with love.’” Talking about expenditures, He said, “’Sometimes I give away as much as $1000, if I have it, but at another time I do not spend even a single dollar. This is a matter of managing the affairs.’”

Many people came to entreat Him to speak to various organizations, but He refused most of them because of lack of time. Referring to previous meetings, He told one gathering, “‘Some took exception with me and asked why I sought to cultivate love between the whites and the colored. … When the people fondle an animal day and night, why do they not associate with a sensible man?’”

Friday, September 13, 1912 3

Mrs True prepared tea for us. When some of the Persian friends remarked to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá that ‘there was better tea’ than this, the Master replied, ‘This tea is very good because it has been prepared with love.’ Referring to His expenses, He said:

“Sometimes I give away as much as $1,000, if I have it, but at another time I do not spend even a single dollar. This is so that affairs are regulated. Thus it is that I say that I want the friends to become divine and godly under the shadow of the favor of the Abhá Beauty. Through the teachings and bestowals of the Blessed Perfection happiness and prosperity can be gained. I swear by God, besides Whom there is no other God, that although we might have traversed America from the east to the west, had not His confirmations and favors been with us, no one would have paid any heed to us. It is all through His aid and assistance that these doors have been opened. It is with the power of faith that we ascend to the highest apex and attain honor in the all-glorious Kingdom. So it is that these honorable souls serve us with such love and sincerity.”

Visitors began to arrive. The friends from surrounding communities pleaded with Him to come to their cities. But because of the limited time and His plan to journey to the West, He did not accept their invitations. Reporters also came. He spoke on various subjects relating to the Cause and they took notes for publication in their newspapers.

At the meeting ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spoke about the establishment of the divine civilization through the power of Bahá’u’lláh and about the world’s need for the divine teachings:

“Without divine civilization the mysteries of the Kingdom are not revealed and the bounties of heaven are not ascertained; supernatural wisdom and power do not manifest themselves; the intelligence of humanity does not reach maturity; the world of humanity does not become the mirror of the world above; spiritual powers fail to overcome animal influences of nature. These perfections are attained through divine civilization of which the world of man is in need.”

After the meeting one of the friends who came to see Him was Mr Jackson of Kenosha, Wisconsin. He told ‘Abdu’l-Bahá that the believers and seekers were anxiously awaiting His visit and that a minister had asked Him to promise to speak in his church.

Since the friends were allowed to visit en masse, each morning there was such a crowd that there was no way up or down the stairs. When the Master got tired, He would take a walk outside and then return to the house.

Today another group, including some of the black believers, visited ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Here are some of His words to them:

“If a man has spiritual characteristics, be he white or black, he is near to God. Some have protested to me, asking why I seek to cultivate love between the whites and the blacks. Yet what a great error they make. You see people who love their dogs because of their faithfulness and the protection they provide. If but one good trait endears a dog to a human, why shouldn’t praiseworthy qualities cause a man to be loved and respected? Why should fellowship with an upright person be avoided? When people are prepared to fondle an animal day and night, why should they shun association with an intelligent human being?

“My hope is that you will rid and purify yourselves of imitations so that your thoughts and minds will be broadened and elevated, that you will be seekers of the truth, the lovers of the servants of God and the cause of the oneness of humanity.”

Today an important philosopher together with the president of the Worker’s Union, a socialist, visited the Master. They were so moved by the Master’s explanations and proofs of the existence of God and His divine laws that the friends’ hearts were overjoyed to see their sincerity and humility before Him.

Mrs True prepared tea for us. When some of the Persian friends remarked to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá that ‘there was better tea’ than this, the Master replied, ‘This tea is very good because it has been prepared with love.’ Referring to His expenses, He said:

“Sometimes I give away as much as $1,000, if I have it, but at another time I do not spend even a single dollar. This is so that affairs are regulated. Thus it is that I say that I want the friends to become divine and godly under the shadow of the favor of the Abhá Beauty. Through the teachings and bestowals of the Blessed Perfection happiness and prosperity can be gained. I swear by God, besides Whom there is no other God, that although we might have traversed America from the east to the west, had not His confirmations and favors been with us, no one would have paid any heed to us. It is all through His aid and assistance that these doors have been opened. It is with the power of faith that we ascend to the highest apex and attain honor in the all-glorious Kingdom. So it is that these honorable souls serve us with such love and sincerity.”

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

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

First, man must independently investigate reality …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ninth, there must be an equality of rights between men and women. Women shall receive an equal privilege of education. This will enable them to qualify and progress in all degrees of occupation and accomplishment. For the world of humanity possesses two wings: man and woman. If one wing remains incapable and defective, it will restrict the power of the other, and full flight will be impossible. Therefore, the completeness and perfection of the human world are dependent upon the equal development of these two wings.

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

Tea prepared with love

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

September 13, 1912


  1. Sockett, Robert. “‘Sometimes I Made Him Laugh.’” 239 Days in America, 13 Sept. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/09/13/sometimes-i-made-him-laugh-saichiro-fujita/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 145.
  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#section173
  4. ʻAbduʼl-Bahá. The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by ʻAbduʼl-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912. Edited by Howard MacNutt. 2nd ed. Wilmette, Ill: Baháʼí Publishing Trust, 1982, 318. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/22#405364030

239 Days in America, Day 102: July 21, 1912 | New York

Deeds, Not Words 1

THROUGHOUT HIS TIME IN America, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spoke on peace, social justice, generosity, and even thankfulness. In each case he stressed the need for practical solutions over mere words. “Those who do most good use fewest words,” he once commented.

On May 14, 1912, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá delivered a talk to the leaders of the peace movement at the Lake Mohonk Conference on International Arbitration in the Shawangunk Mountains outside of New York. He laid out a number of principles necessary to peace, including the elimination of the extremes of wealth and poverty, and the need for harmony between the systems of science and religion. The next day, to a group of youth, he noted: “It is very easy to come here, camp near this beautiful lake, on these charming hills, far away from everybody and deliver speeches on Universal Peace. These ideals should be spread and put in action over there [Europe], not here in the world’s most peaceful corner.”

Even as a prisoner under house arrest in ‘Akká, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá took action to provide solutions to the needs of the community.

He set up a school to educate children, helped feed the poor and find them jobs, and encouraged his fellow exiles to attend to the sick, crippled, and aged, regardless of their religion. In America, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá continued this pattern, making a point of visiting the Bowery Mission in New York.

On May 30, 1912, at the Theosophical Lodge in New York, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá pointed out that knowledge is not enough to solve the world’s problems. “To admit that health is good does not constitute health,” he said. Knowledge must be applied, he said, “the remedy carried out.”

Sunday, July 21, 2022 2

The esteemed Bahá’í Monsieur Dreyfus of Paris came to visit the Master. One of the Master’s talks at the meeting of the friends was about services beneficial to the world of humanity. ‘Universality is of God,’ He said, ‘while every limitation is human.’ Continuing, He said, ‘The Sun of Truth has risen always in the East and yet it has shone with greater luster in the West.’ Mr Kaufman remarked that he had read in the newspapers about the Master’s journey to the West and understood that the purpose of His journey was for the upliftment and education of the West as well as of the East. Mr Kaufman then asked, ‘Will the East regain its former glory?’ The Master replied, ‘It will be greater than before.’ The Master then spoke about eternal life and everlasting honor and said:

How many great men have come into the world! What wealth they have owned! What kings have sat on the thrones of glory and riches! What beautiful and comely people have adorned the world of man! But what has been the outcome? Honor, life, luxury and pleasure have all perished. But the fame of the beauty of Joseph is still universal and the honor of the disciples of Christ still endures; their sufferings are the cause of life everlasting.

At dinner a number of the Eastern and Western friends were at the Master’s table. Mrs True and some other friends asked His permission to serve the guests, which He gave.

Talk at All Souls Unitarian Church, Fourth Avenue and Twentieth Street, New York, 14 July 1912 3

Lack of equality between man and woman is, likewise, a cause of human dissension. Bahá’u’lláh has named this as an important factor of discord and separation, for so long as humankind remains unequally divided in right and importance between male and female, no unity can be established. In a perfect human body it is not possible for one organ to be complete and another defective. In the great body of human society it is impossible to establish unity and coordination if one part is considered perfect and the other imperfect. When the perfect functions of both parts are in operation, harmony will prevail. God has created man and woman equal as to faculties. He has made no distinction between them. Woman has not reached the level of man in human accomplishment because of the lack of opportunity and education. If educational opportunities were made equal and similar, the two parts, man and woman, would equalize in attainment. God has intended no difference between them that should be productive of discord. He has endowed all with human faculties, and all are manifestations of His mercy. If we say man and woman differ in creational endowment, it is contrary to divine justice and intention. Both are human. If God has created one perfect and the other defective, He is unjust. But God is just; all are perfect in His intention and creative endowment. To assume imperfection in the creature is to presuppose imperfection in the almighty Creator. The soul that excels in attainment of His attributes and graces is most acceptable before God.

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

“The Sun of Truth has risen always in the East and yet it has shone with greater luster in the West.”

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

July 21, 1912


  1. Jones, Caitlin Shayda. “Deeds, Not Words.” 239 Days in America, 21 July 2012, https://239days.com/2012/07/21/deeds-not-words/.
  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=5#section119
  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, 233. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/16#957314788

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 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.