239 Days in America, Day 118: August 06, 1912 | Dublin

Socialism, Strikes, and Oscar Wilde 1

THE AIR IS CHILLY tonight. The time is well past midnight and most of Dublin is asleep. At Brush Farm, George de Forest Brush is chatting with his guest, Margaret Sanger, who is busy adding another log to the fire. Margaret writes a column for the Socialist newspaper the New York Call. Three months from now she will start a new series on sex education entitled “What Every Girl Should Know,” which will be censored by the United States Post Office. Tonight she departs from the theme of women’s health and talks to George about Oscar Wilde’s essay, “The Soul of Man under Socialism.”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá is sleeping tonight, but he had addressed the problem of strikes even before he was freed from house arrest in Palestine. “The principal cause of these difficulties,” he said, “lies in the laws of the present civilization; for they lead to a small number of individuals accumulating incomparable fortunes, beyond their needs, while the greater number remain destitute.”

“Rules and laws should be established to regulate the excessive fortunes of certain private individuals,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá asserted, “and meet the needs of millions of the poor masses.” But, as usual, he rejected the fundamental premise of Socialism: that perfect economic equality should be legislated. Excessive equality, he argued, would destroy the body politic: “Absolute equality is just as impossible, for absolute equality in fortunes, honors, commerce, agriculture, industry would end in disorderliness, in chaos.”

New Hampshire 2

On August 5 a visitor told Him that her friends had warned her not to come lest she fall into a trap. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá replied, “‘God be thanked that we have been in this trap for sixty years and we are happy in it. … It is a trap that frees the people from the shackles of prejudice and superstitions … it makes them the captives of the love of God and service to the Cause of the oneness of humanity.’”

After a meeting that same day when ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had referred to the cow as the greatest of materialistic philosophers since she knows nothing beyond the sensory level of the animal, He and several others went for an automobile ride. Coming across a herd of cows the ladies said, “‘Master, see how this crowd of philosophers is afraid of the car and is running before it,’” and Abdu’l-Bahá laughed. Mahmúd noted, “As Americans like such jests, it became an oft repeated remark.”

Talk at Dublin Inn, Dublin, New Hampshire 3

Aside from all this, there is need of the stimulus of the joy of glad tidings in human hearts. Certain spiritual attraction is requisite in order that hearts may willingly take the step forward in the divine Cause. We must become attracted to God. The breaths of the Holy Spirit must take effect. Unless this is so, it is impossible for the teachings of God to accomplish in us. An ideal power is necessary. The people of America have remarkably quick perception, intelligence and understanding. Their thoughts are free and not fettered by the yoke of governmental tyranny. They should investigate reality and not be occupied with ancestral forms and imitations. Consider what Christ accomplished. He caused souls to attain a station where with complete willingness and joy they laid down their lives. What a power! Thousands of human souls, in the utmost joy because of their spiritual susceptibilities, were so attracted to God that they were dispossessed of volition, deprived of will in His path. If they had been told simply that sacrifice in the path of God was good and praiseworthy, this would never have happened. They would not have acted. Christ attracted them, wrested the reins of control from them, and they went forth in ecstasy to sacrifice themselves.

Tuesday, August 6, 1912 4

In the morning while pacing back and forth in the drawing room of His residence, the Master said:

“When Persians want to record any important matter, they say, ‘Write this down in the twenty-ninth section.’ Now, as the Persians say, write this in the twenty-ninth section of your book. Whatever occurs is the cause of the elevation of the Word of God and the victory of the divine Cause, even though outwardly it may appear to be a great affliction and hardship. What hardship, grief or affliction could be greater than that which occurred at the time when the Blessed Beauty was exiled from Tihrán? Hearts of stone were melted. All the relatives were weeping and lamenting. All were in utter despair. But that exile became the cause of the raising of the Call and exalting the Word of God, of fulfilling the prophecies of the Prophets and of guiding the people of the world. Had it not been for this exile, these things would not have appeared and these great events would not have occurred.

Consider the case of Abraham. Had He not been exiled, He would not have received that greatest blessing; neither a Jacob nor an Isaac would have risen; the fame of the beauty of Joseph would not have been spread throughout the world. He would not have become the ruler of Egypt; no Moses would have appeared; no Muhammad, the divine Messenger, would have come. All these are a result of the blessings of that exile. It is the same now.”

Later He spoke about the harmful effects of disunity and discord among the emperors of the East and the West:

“For example, the separation between the eastern and western empires and the disagreement between the eastern and western churches in Christianity caused a great weakness. Notwithstanding this, the people still do not take heed.”

In the afternoon He gave a talk on the oneness of the foundation of religion.

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

“Whatever occurs is the cause of the elevation of the Word of God and the victory of the divine Cause …”

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

August 6, 1912


  1. Menon, Morella. “Socialism, Strikes, and Oscar Wilde.” 239 Days in America, 6 Aug. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/08/06/socialism-strikes-and-oscar-wilde/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 121.
  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, 250. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/18#978585559
  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=6#section135

239 Days in America, Day 90: July 09, 1912 | New York

The Jewish Watchman and the Blue Whale 1

THE BELLY OF THE blue whale was lined with deep corrugations, like a field that had just been plowed. It hung from the ceiling of the Mammal Gallery in the American Natural History Museum in New York, which ‘Abdu’l-Bahá visited on July 9, 1912.

It was seventy-six feet long and weighed four tons. It wasn’t a real blue whale but a model of one, the largest in the country. It had taken eight months to build in 1907; its skin was papier-mâché.

The sight of the whale made ‘Abdu’l-Bahá laugh. “He could hold seventy Jonahs!” he declared.

The walk to the museum from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s house, at 309 West 78th Street, had taken about twenty-five minutes. But the heat that day was oppressive, and he sat down on a stone ledge to rest before traversing the last half block to the museum’s main door. Juliet Thompson, who accompanied him, looked for a closer entrance. She tried the employee entrance, but it was locked. Then a shrill whistle stopped her in her tracks.

She turned around to face an old, bent little man with a kind face. He was the watchman of the museum grounds, and he was Jewish. She pointed to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá: “I must find a nearer door than the main one. See Who is sitting on that ledge! I must find it for Him.” The watchman turned and looked at ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.

“Is he a Jew?” he asked.

“A descendant of Abraham.”

“Ask Him to come to me,” the watchman said.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Juliet Thompson, and the Persian attendants followed the watchman, who showed them a shortcut across the grass. After seeing the blue whale and viewing a few more exhibits, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá walked outside and sat on the grass under the shade of a birch tree.

The watchman stole up beside Juliet. “Who is He?” he asked. “He looks like such a great man.”

“He is ‘Abdu’l-Bahá of Persia,” she replied, “and He has been a great Sufferer because of His work for the real Brotherhood of Man, the uniting of all the races and nations.”

New York City 2

He [‘Abdu’l-Bahá] had asked Lua Getsinger to go to California to proclaim the Covenant; but she, eager to be with Him, delayed going and finally walked in poison ivy during the Unity Feast to prevent her departure. Abdu’l-Bahá sent her some fruit, and she was quickly cured. Again He directed her to go, and she finally did.

Tuesday, July 9, 1912 3

A number of friends were waiting for ‘Abdu’l-Bahá when He arrived with a paper from Mírzá Abu’l-Fadl in His hand. He gave it to us and said, ‘Read it. It is very interesting.’ It was an answer to criticisms of one Siyyid ‘Abdu’lláh, an enemy of the Cause. These criticisms are themselves more proof of the greatness of the Center of the Covenant than are the praises of the friends. Mírzá Abu’l-Fadl has recorded the very words of this critic in his book.

Although that Siyyid had embraced Christianity, thus retrogressing, he appeals in his pamphlet to the nationalities of the world, even the Zoroastrians and Jews, to cooperate with him in his opposition to the Bahá’í Faith. The English press of Cairo published his pamphlet in the month of Naisan 1912. In his pamphlet, he attributes the success of the Cause to the virtues and perfections of the Center of the Covenant. Below is a passage from the second chapter of his pamphlet:

“And when we reflect upon his [the Master’s] work and the work of his father, we find a great difference between the two. The foundation laid down by Bahá’u’lláh did not rise except very little. It was not even apparent to the eyes of outsiders. But what has been built upon it by ‘Abbás [’Abdu’l-Bahá] since the time of the passing of his father, which does not exceed twenty years, is really striking. We see millions of people of various religions and diverse denominations such as Muslims, Christians, heathens, Buddhists and Hindus drawn and attracted to His Cause from such remote countries as America, Caucasia, Russia, Great Britain and the shore of India.”

In the fifth chapter, he wrote:

“What vast genius, striking intelligence, consummate opulence and tried virtue has enabled ‘Abbás Effendi to attract multitudes of people from diverse denominations and languages? Even this month he received hundreds of letters from his American friends, supplicating him to visit them. They sent 1,000 guineas to defray the expenses of his journey. He granted their request as he had promised them last year, but sent back their guineas with thanks and apology, saying that it was not his custom to accept such things. Consider this great opulence which was related to me by one of his followers and also spoken of by some Egyptian papers. Look to this virtue and piety which is the cause of love and affection as is said by our ancestor, the author of Islamic law: ‘Be indifferent to what the people possess and the people will love you.’”

At the table the Master read this paper and smiled. He remarked that according to the words of the Qur’án, the deniers said to the Messenger of God, ‘Verily, Thou art an insane one.’ But now, according to the words of the deniers of the Cause, ‘vast genius, striking intelligence, consummate opulence, tried virtue’ and the majesty of the Center of the Covenant have become a cause for the attraction of hearts. The preeminence and power of the Cause is established even by the words of its enemies. Today the services of Mírzá Abu’l-Fadl were mentioned repeatedly by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.

Talk at 309 West Seventy-eighth Street, New York, 6 July 1912 4

You must come into the knowledge of the divine Manifestations and Their teachings through proofs and evidences. You must unseal the mysteries of the supreme Kingdom and become capable of discovering the inner realities of things. Then shall you be the manifestations of the mercy of God and true believers, firm and steadfast in the Cause of God.

Praise be to God! The door of divine knowledge has been opened by Bahá’u’lláh, for He has laid the foundation whereby man may become acquainted with the verities of heaven and earth and has bestowed the utmost confirmation in this day. He is our Teacher and Adviser; He is our Seer and the One clement toward us. He has prepared His gifts and vouchsafed His bounties, revealed every admonition and behest, prepared for us the means of eternal glory, breathed upon us the life-quickening breaths of the Holy Spirit, opened before our faces the doors of the paradise of Abhá and caused the lights of the Sun of Truth to shine upon us. The clouds of mercy have poured down their precious rain. The sea of favor is swelling and surging toward us.

The spiritual springtime has come. Infinite bounties and graces have appeared. What bestowal is greater than this? We must appreciate the divine generosity and act in accordance with the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh so that all good may be stored up for us and in both worlds we shall become precious and acceptable to God, attain to everlasting blessings, taste the delicacy of the love of God, find the sweetness of the knowledge of God, perceive the heavenly bestowal and witness the power of the Holy Spirit.

This is my advice, and this is my admonition.

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

The Master and the museum watchman

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

July 09, 1912


  1. Jones, Caitlin Shayda. “The Jewish Watchman and the Blue Whale.” 239 Days in America, 9 July 2012, https://239days.com/2012/07/09/abdul-baha-jewish-watchman-blue-whale/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 109.
  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#section107
  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, 227-228. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/16#756656705

239 Days in America, Day 78: June 27, 1912 | New Jersey

Militarizing Human Ingenuity 1

The invention of flight was an example of the ingenuity and aspiration that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá found so compelling in Americans. What surprised many was his eager embrace of technology. When speaking to Americans about the spiritual nature of humankind — in essence, what sets us apart from animals — ‘Abdu’l-Bahá turned to technological examples.

“A human being can soar in the skies or speed in submarine depths,” 2 he told an audience in New York [Boston] on April 15 [May 25]. “All the sciences, arts and discoveries were mysteries of nature, and according to natural law these mysteries should remain latent, hidden; but man has proceeded to break this law, free himself from this rule and bring them forth into the realm of the visible.” … 3 [New York on April 15]

The greatest intelligence of man is being expended in the direction of killing his fellow man,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had said in his interview with the munitions maker Hudson Maxim in New York. “The discovery of high explosives, perfecting of death-dealing weapons of war, the science of military attack, all this is a wonderful manifestation of human intelligence, but it is in the wrong direction.”

During ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s time in the West, he spoke often about the dangers of material progress unhinged from spiritual and moral development. In New York he offered an aeronautical metaphor to define a dilemma central to modern progress: “Two wings are necessary. One wing is physical power and material civilization; the other is spiritual power and divine civilization. With one wing only, flight is impossible . . . no matter how much material civilization advances, it cannot attain to perfection except through the uplift of spiritual civilization.” 4

New Jersey: The Unity Feast 5

In Newark, on Thursday [June 27], as they walked through the park, the Persian friends were aware of passersby staring at the unusual scene of the American friends following in reverence after ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.

Thursday, June 27, 1912 6

‘Abdu’l-Bahá returned to Montclair today and was in the best of health and happiness. He was engaged all morning explaining religion, dispensing the glad tidings of the Most Great Manifestation and expounding on the veils that envelop the people. Group after group came to Him, and each left with the utmost devotion and humility.

In the afternoon, at the request of Mr Edsall and other friends, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá went to the park to rest for awhile. He said, as He left the tram at the entrance of the park, ‘What great changes have occurred! What waves have swept over us and brought us here! Let us see what waves are still to come.’

A gazebo was set on a small rise in the center of the park. There the Master sat on a bench, inviting Mr Edsall, his son-in-law and us to sit near Him. He stated, ‘The Committee of Union and Progress in Constantinople is very good but both internal and external enemies are laying plans to imprison me again on my return to the Holy Land.’ When we said that it might have been better had He remained in Egypt, He replied:

“My beginning and my end, the place from which I start and the place to which I return is the Holy Threshold. What I have is from that Threshold and to it I shall return. Had it not been for His aid and assistance, would these people sitting on your right and left have any concern about you and me? We must be just and speak the truth. Who are we that we should be showered with these favors? Compare the position of Persia with that of America.”

Later He spoke about certain verses in the Qur’án, saying:

“In reality these verses are the most convincing proof of the all-sufficing greatness and nobility of the Prophet of God [Muhammad], Who, triumphant and powerful, yet sets forth God’s address to Him with the words: ‘Thou didst not understand, ere this, what “the Book” was, nor what the faith was'[Qur’án 83:52]. And, ‘Unless we had confirmed thee, thou hadst certainly been very near inclining unto them [the unbelievers] a little. They would have taken thee for a friend’ [Qur’án 17:73-4]. All such verses are proofs of the truth and greatness of Muhammad. An imposter does not express weakness and ignorance when in a state of power and majesty. However, the people of desire interpret these verses otherwise.”

Again, He said:

“Once I said to Mírzá Muhammad Qulí, ‘Do you remember the days in Baghdád when we had not even fifteen paras to have a hot bath? We must now appreciate the favors of the Blessed Beauty and, in thankfulness, gird up our loins to serve Him. He has guided, assisted and made us victorious in this world as well as in His Kingdom.’”

The Master spoke at length about the withdrawal of the Blessed Beauty from Baghdád. He told of the prayers of the friends of God who recited, ‘Yá Alláh-ul-Mustagháth’, the receipt of the news of the bequest of Áqá Abu’l-Qásim-i-Hamadání, their eventual tracing of Bahá’u’lláh to the place in Sulaymáníyyih where He had taken abode, and then their dispatching a petition to the Blessed Beauty for His return.

The Master then got up and went towards the hotel. When He entered it, two wealthy ladies, guests at the hotel, were seated in the lobby. As soon as they saw Him they requested permission to be introduced to Him. The Master returned to the lobby a littler later and took a seat near them. They asked His purpose and He related to them a brief history of the Cause, something of the prison of ‘Akká and the spread of the fragrances of God. They remarked that He appeared to be very wealthy. He replied, ‘My riches are of the Kingdom and not of this world.’ They said that the signs of wealth were very evident. The Master then said, ‘Although I have nothing, yet I am richer than all the world.’ Then He spoke about true wealth and the transient nature of worldly affairs, citing passages from the Bible. During this discourse an elegant couple passed by and, hearing ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s voice, stopped to listen to His explanations. The two ladies and the couple were so astonished and charmed that the believers were spellbound by their transformation. The ladies gave their names and addresses to Mr Edsall so that they might meet with the friends and be counted among the people of Bahá.

What can I say? Every morning and evening hearts are fascinated and souls attracted to the Abhá Kingdom by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. This is accomplished even though He had neither rest nor relaxation. He used to say, ‘If my happiness and spirituality could come to the fore and my mind be at rest, then you would see how hearts could be attracted and souls set ablaze.’

When He returned home, He found a multitude waiting for Him. The gathering was even larger than before, with both new and old friends coming from New York, Newark and Montclair. As it was the last evening of the Master’s stay, the hearts were especially attracted and the minds full of a unique spirit. He spoke on the need for the breaths of the Holy Spirit in the material world and about the education of humanity through divine power.

Talk at Hotel Ansonia, Broadway and Seventy-third Street, New York, 17 April 1912

During my visit to London and Paris last year I had many talks with the materialistic philosophers of Europe. The basis of all their conclusions is that the acquisition of knowledge of phenomena is according to a fixed, invariable law—a law mathematically exact in its operation through the senses. For instance, the eye sees a chair; therefore, there is no doubt of the chair’s existence. The eye looks up into the heavens and beholds the sun; I see flowers upon this table; I smell their fragrance; I hear sounds outside, etc. This, they say, is a fixed mathematical law of perception and deduction, the operation of which admits of no doubt whatever; for inasmuch as the universe is subject to our sensing, the proof is self-evident that our knowledge of it must be gained through the avenues of the senses. That is to say, the materialists announce that the criterion and standard of human knowledge is sense perception. Among the Greeks and Romans the criterion of knowledge was reason—that whatever is provable and acceptable by reason must necessarily be admitted as true. A third standard or criterion is the opinion held by theologians that traditions or prophetic statement and interpretations constitute the basis of human knowing. There is still another, a fourth criterion, upheld by religionists and metaphysicians who say that the source and channel of all human penetration into the unknown is through inspiration. Briefly then, these four criteria according to the declarations of men are: first, sense perception; second, reason; third, traditions; fourth, inspiration. 7

Briefly, the point is that in the human material world of phenomena these four are the only existing criteria or avenues of knowledge, and all of them are faulty and unreliable. What then remains? How shall we attain the reality of knowledge? By the breaths and promptings of the Holy Spirit, which is light and knowledge itself. Through it the human mind is quickened and fortified into true conclusions and perfect knowledge. This is conclusive argument showing that all available human criteria are erroneous and defective, but the divine standard of knowledge is infallible. Therefore, man is not justified in saying, “I know because I perceive through my senses,” or “I know because it is proved through my faculty of reason,” or “I know because it is according to tradition and interpretation of the Holy Book,” or “I know because I am inspired.” All human standards of judgment are faulty, finite. 8

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

Mahmud: June 27 – Utterly dependent on and grateful to Bahá’u’lláh

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

June 27, 1912


  1. Sockett, Robert. “Militarizing Human Ingenuity.” 239 Days in America, 27 June 2012, https://239days.com/2012/06/27/militarizing-human-ingenuity/.
  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, 144. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/10#975098386
  3. Ibid, 17. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/2#123097438
  4. Ibid, 12. [https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/15#557843750]
  5. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 100.
  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=4#section95
  7. The Promulgation of Universal Peace, 20-21. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/2#771269637
  8. Ibid, 22. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/2#575673545

239 Days in America, Day 69: June 18, 1912 | New York

The Pursuit of Happiness 1

‘“ARE YOU HAPPY?”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá was known to spring this disarming question on unsuspecting Americans. They had agreed to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” when declaring their independence from rainy England. Happiness, it seemed, was an important instrument in ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s repertoire.

On June 19, 1912, he tried it out again in New York. Mrs. Hinkle Smith came from a well-off family in Philadelphia. Her husband, William Hinkle Smith, was the director of a large copper mining outfit. When she first met ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, she had asked him to give her a Persian name. He called her Tábandih, which means “Light-Giver.”

Today she had a headache.

After suggesting a particular type of medicine, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá offered an additional remedy. “You must always be happy,” he said. “You must associate with joyous and happy people . . . . Happiness has a direct influence in preserving our health, while being upset causes illness.” 2

But ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s philosophy on happiness ran deeper than platitudes or sentimentality. “The basis of eternal happiness,” he said, “is spirituality and divine virtue, which is not followed by sorrow. But physical happiness is subject to a thousand changes and vicissitudes.”

Talk at 309 West Seventy-eighth Street, New York 3

No matter how much the world of humanity advances in material civilization, it is nevertheless in need of the spiritual development mentioned in the Gospel. The virtues of the material world are limited, whereas divine virtues are unlimited. Inasmuch as material virtues are limited, man’s need of the perfections of the divine world is unlimited.

Throughout human history we find that although the very apex of human virtues has been reached at various times, yet they were limited, whereas divine attainments have ever been unbounded and infinite. The limited is ever in need of the unlimited. The material must be correlated with the spiritual. The material may be likened to the body, but divine virtues are the breathings of the Holy Spirit itself. The body without spirit is not capable of real accomplishment. Although it may be in the utmost condition of beauty and excellence, it is, nevertheless, in need of the spirit. The chimney of the lamp, no matter how polished and perfect it be, is in need of the light. Without the light, the lamp or candle is not illuminating. Without the spirit, the body is not productive. The teacher of material principles is limited. The philosophers who claimed to be the educators of mankind were at most only able to train themselves. If they educated others, it was within a restricted circle; they failed to bestow general education and development. This has been conferred upon humanity by the power of the Holy Spirit.

New York, Philadelphia, New York 4

Tuesday [June 18] was the day of movie-making. Previously, a motion-picture company had filmed ‘Abdu’l-Bahá at the entrance of the Hotel Ansonia for national distribution. This gave the Bahá’ís the idea of making a more extensive film. On June 18, at the home of Mr. MacNutt, five different sequences were photographed. After that Mahmúd noted, “He went to see a Jewish friend who was ill at his home, which was forty miles from Brooklyn, He returned exhausted at night to New York.

Tuesday, June 18, 1912

At a public meeting ‘Abdu’l-Bahá again spoke on the “Tablet of the Branch,” His talk centering around the Covenant and its promise. After the meeting, many pleaded for a private interview and continued visiting Him until noon.

Today He received the manuscript of The Brilliant Proof written by Mírzá Abu’l-Fadl, which had been written in answer to the objections of a minister in London. Being pleased with the book, the Master instructed that it be translated and published.

He also spoke of the malice, mischief and misdeeds of the Azalis.

In the afternoon several friends visited and described the picturesque scenery and interesting places of America. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said:

We love meetings of fidelity and not picturesque scenes. We must first be faithful to God, to His ordinances and Covenant and to His servants. If we wish to see places of interest and picturesque scenes, we do so when we go visiting or when we pass through such places and scenes.

Sometimes during these days ‘Abdu’l-Bahá would evince a mood similar to that He had when He was staying in Egypt, when He wished for martyrdom, desiring to be sacrificed at the Threshold of God. Among the many Tablets revealed at this time was one in honor of Áqá Ridáy-i-Shírází, Qannád, who had recently ascended to the Abhá Kingdom. Some of the verses of the Tablet were on this same theme:

Fidelity demands roaming over deserts and mountains. True fidelity is attained when a wanderer, nameless and traceless, becomes a target for the arrows of oppression on the plain of martyrdom. O Lord! Ordain for Thy servant the realization of his utmost wish, this bounty which shines resplendent upon the horizon of fidelity, like unto the sun arisen at dawn. One request I have to put to the loved ones of Bahá, that they prostrate themselves before the holy threshold, lay their heads on the ground and ask that the sinful ‘Abdu’l-Bahá be granted the cup of immolation, so that he may, in servitude to the threshold of Bahá, taste the sweet savor of a drop from the ocean of fidelity. 5

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

Stories about ‘Abdu’l-Bahá — Service …

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

June 18, 1912 The Filming of Abdu’l-Baha


  1. Jones, Caitlin Shayda. “The Pursuit of Happiness.” 239 Days in America, 18 June 2012, https://239days.com/2012/06/18/the-pursuit-of-happiness/.
  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#section87
  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, 205-206. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/14#975580776
  4. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 91.
  5. ’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#section86

239 Days in America, Day 64: June 13, 1912 | New York

I Was Tired So I Slept 1

FRANK SINATRA SANG THAT he wanted to “Wake up in the city that doesn’t sleep.” He meant New York. But, on June 13, 1912, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá just wanted to sleep.

“I was tired so I slept,” he said, after resting briefly in the middle of the afternoon. It had been another busy day at his residence in Manhattan. Several prominent ministers had called to converse, drink tea, and invite him to speak at their churches. As usual, the front door had opened to visitors at 7:30 a.m. and would remain so until midnight, when ‘Abdu’l-Bahá would often start attending to his correspondence.

He frequently survived on less than three hours sleep. In fact, throughout his life, sleep had often been something of a luxury.

New York, Philadelphia, New York 2

On June 13 the continuing streams of people prompted ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to instruct those with Him, “‘If anyone who has not seen Me as yet wishes to see Me, or if anyone has some urgent business, inform Me. All others I will meet in the public meeting, because I have neither time nor strength to see people individually.’”

Thursday, June 13, 1912

In the morning and afternoon several prominent ministers visited the Master to invite Him to their churches. They left happy and submissive after receiving the bounty of being in His presence and witnessing the effulgence of His countenance. After they left, the Master spoke to the friends and newcomers about the power and majesty of the Blessed Beauty. With great power and dignity He related the story of the last days of ‘Abdu’l-Hamíd and the malicious accusations of the enemies and adversaries:

In spite of all these persecutions and afflictions, the Cause of God triumphed and the Covenant of God gained influence. In fact, even members of the Commission of Inquiry, who every hour ordered a more severe persecution and spread a fresh calumny and who had joined our enemies and adversaries at ‘Akká with the aim of destroying and effacing us, were overtaken by the wrath of God while returning to Constantinople. Affairs changed; all the tyrants were debased; some of the members of this very commission were killed or murdered; and some fled away. Finally, one of them went to the believers in Egypt and begged for minimum subsistence.

The Master gave two talks in the afternoon to the gatherings of the friends. The first was about the differences among the Bahá’ís. ‘Bahá’u’lláh’, He said, ‘declared that should Bahá’ís dispute, even if it be regarding Bahá’u’lláh Himself, both are wrong. He has enjoined all to turn to the House of Justice. But prior to its being established, all matters should be referred to the Center of the Covenant whom all are commanded to obey.’

After a brief rest, the Master went to another meeting where He spoke on the distinguishing characteristics of the world of humanity. His introductory words were as follows:

“I was tired and so I slept. While I was sleeping, I was conversing with you as though speaking at the top of my voice. Then through the effect of my own voice I awoke. As I awoke, one word was upon my lips — the word imtíyáz (‘distinction’). So I will speak to you upon that subject.” 3

Talk at 309 West Seventy-eighth Street, New York, 11 June 1912

But the life of man is not so restricted; it is divine, eternal, not mortal and sensual. For him a spiritual existence and livelihood is prepared and ordained in the divine creative plan. His life is intended to be a life of spiritual enjoyment to which the animal can never attain. This enjoyment depends upon the acquisition of heavenly virtues. The sublimity of man is his attainment of the knowledge of God. The bliss of man is the acquiring of heavenly bestowals, which descend upon him in the outflow of the bounty of God. The happiness of man is in the fragrance of the love of God. This is the highest pinnacle of attainment in the human world. How preferable to the animal and its hopeless kingdom!

Therefore, consider how base a nature it reveals in man that, notwithstanding the favors showered upon him by God, he should lower himself into the animal sphere, be wholly occupied with material needs, attached to this mortal realm, imagining that the greatest happiness is to attain wealth in this world. How purposeless! How debased is such a nature! God has created man in order that he may be a dove of the Kingdom, a heavenly candle, a recipient of eternal life. God has created man in order that he may be resuscitated through the breaths of the Holy Spirit and become the light of the world. How debased the soul which can find enjoyment in this darkness, occupied with itself, the captive of self and passion, wallowing in the mire of the material world! How degraded is such a nature! What an ignorance this is! What a blindness! How glorious the station of man who has partaken of the heavenly food and built the temple of his everlasting residence in the world of heaven!

The Manifestations of God have come into the world to free man from these bonds and chains of the world of nature. Although They walked upon the earth, They lived in heaven. They were not concerned about material sustenance and prosperity of this world. Their bodies were subjected to inconceivable distress, but Their spirits ever soared in the highest realms of ecstasy. The purpose of Their coming, Their teaching and suffering was the freedom of man from himself. Shall we, therefore, follow in Their footsteps, escape from this cage of the body or continue subject to its tyranny? Shall we pursue the phantom of a mortal happiness which does not exist or turn toward the tree of life and the joys of its eternal fruits? 4

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

Mahmud: June 13 – What happened to the Commission of Inquiry

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

June 13, 1912


  1. Knight, Annabel. “I Was Tired So I Slept.” 239 Days in America, 13 June 2012, https://239days.com/2012/06/13/i-was-tired-so-i-slept/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 90.
  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/zarqanimahmudsdiary&chapter=4#section81
  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, 185-186. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/14#080928132.

239 Days in America, Day 63: June 12, 1912 | New York

The Handsomest Young Man in Baghdad 1

“IF ANYONE HAS NOT yet met me,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said, “or if anyone has some urgent business, call them. All others I will meet in the public gatherings because I have no time and it is impossible to see everyone individually.” It was the morning of June 12, 1912, at 309 West 78th Street in Manhattan, where ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was staying. And he was exhausted.

He was talking with one of his secretaries, Mahmúd. Perhaps polite New York society would have been piqued to encounter such forthrightness from ‘Abdu’l Bahá, but those friends who knew his life story would have understood completely.

When ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was twelve years old — he was known as Abbás then — he began managing the crowds who came to see his father. Bahá’u’lláh had returned to Baghdad from the mountains of Kurdistan in 1856. The family was in exile; as prisoners of the Ottoman Empire they weren’t allowed to leave the city.

On his own door Abbás hung a placard: “Those who come for information may apply within,” it read, but, “those who come only because of curiosity had better stay away.” On his father’s door he hung another. “Those who are searching for God,” it said, “come and come and come.”

Talk at 309 West Seventy-eighth Street, New York 2

He has supplied all the necessities of life although we did not ask for any of these great gifts. With pure mercy and bounty He has prepared this great table. It is a mercy which precedes asking. There is another kind of mercy, which is realized after questioning and supplication. He has bestowed both upon us—without asking and with supplication. He has created us in this radiant century, a century longed for and expected by all the sanctified souls in past periods. It is a blessed century; it is a blessed day. The philosophers of history have agreed that this century is equal to one hundred past centuries. This is true from every standpoint. This is the century of science, inventions, discoveries and universal laws. This is the century of the revelation of the mysteries of God. This is the century of the effulgence of the rays of the Sun of Truth. Therefore, you must render thanks and glorification to God that you were born in this age. Furthermore, you have listened to the call of Bahá’u’lláh. Your nostrils are perfumed with the breezes of the paradise of Abhá. You have caught glimpses of the light from the horizon of the Orient. You were asleep; you are awakened. Your ears are attentive; your hearts are informed. You have acquired the love of God. You have attained to the knowledge of God. This is the most great bestowal of God. This is the breath of the Holy Spirit, and this consists of faith and assurance. This eternal life is the second birth; this is the baptism of the Holy Spirit. God has destined this station for you all. He has prepared this for you. You must appreciate the value of this bounty and engage your time in mentioning and thanking the True One. You must live in the utmost happiness. If any trouble or vicissitude comes into your lives, if your heart is depressed on account of health, livelihood or vocation, let not these things affect you. They should not cause unhappiness, for Bahá’u’lláh has brought you divine happiness. He has prepared heavenly food for you; He has destined eternal bounty for you; He has bestowed everlasting glory upon you. Therefore, these glad tidings should cause you to soar in the atmosphere of joy forever and ever. Render continual thanks unto God so that the confirmations of God may encircle you all.

New York, Philadelphia, New York 3

About that hectic Tuesday, Juliet Thompson wrote on June 12:

“… Yesterday morning I went up early to the mater’s house—that house whose door is open at seven-thirty and kept wide open till midnight …

“… He talked for a long while to the people. But this I could see was pure sacrifice. His vitality seemed gone. At times He could scarcely bring forth the words, yet He gave and gave. When He had finished He hurriedly left the house and went again to “His Garden.” On the way to the bus I met Him returning alone.

“He stopped me, put out His hand and took mine, with indescribable tenderness smiling at me.”

Wednesday, June 12, 1912

As so many people come every day requesting to see ‘Abdu’l-Bahá alone, it is more than the Master can bear in His state of fatigue and exhaustion. Therefore, He instructed us in the morning:

“If anyone has not yet met me, or if anyone has some urgent business, call them. All others I will meet in the public gatherings because I have no time and it is impossible to see everyone individually.”

After seeing a few seekers and settling the affairs of some friends, He came downstairs and delivered a public address on one of the great teachings of Bahá’u’lláh not found in previous dispensations, which is the prohibition of cursing enemies and to pray for their forgiveness.

At another meeting in the afternoon, one of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s discourses was on the importance of spiritual relationship, intellectual affinity and sincere affection. ‘Although the nations and tribes’, He said, ‘have material bonds between them, yet in the world of the heart and soul they are in conflict. But those souls that have close spiritual ties and affinities of the heart are always ready to sacrifice their lives for one another, though they are not outwardly related.’

He also spoke of the greatness of this dispensation:

“In the Shí’í tradition concerning this dispensation it is recorded that knowledge is composed of twenty-seven letters and that the divine messengers of the past from first to last have revealed but two letters; however, when the promised Qá’im comes, He will appear with all twenty-seven.”

“Aside from the true meaning of this passage which pertains to the power and might of the Cause of God, to the revelation of verses and signs, to the solution of divine problems, to the disclosure of the mysteries of the Holy Book and to the spread of knowledge — each of which is a hundred times greater in this mighty revelation than in any previous one — materially, too, all the learned men of this age agree that the advancements in knowledge, the arts, industries and inventions of this century are equal to those of the last fifty centuries, indeed, even greater than that.” 4

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

Mahmud: June 12 – Consoling a poor, grieving little girl

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

June 12, 1912


  1. Knight, Annabel. “The Handsomest Young Man in Baghdad.” 239 Days in America, 12 June 2012, https://239days.com/2012/06/12/the-handsomest-young-man-in-baghdad/.
  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, 188-189. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/14#483017037.
  3. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 89.
  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=4#section80

239 Days in America, Day 57: June 06, 1912 | New York

Can You Paint Me in a Half Hour? 1

“YOU KNOW CHRIST DIDN’T look like a woman, the way all the pictures of Him look.” That was Juliet Thompson, talking to God, when she was just ten years old. “Please let me paint Him when I grow up as the King of Men.” She held onto this wish for the next twenty-six years.

Juliet lived, and wrote, with her heart on her sleeve. Her diary is filled with Biblical metaphors, capitalized pronouns, and a highly personal, poetic language which, while heartwarming, can also be off-putting if you don’t like that kind of thing. It is a diary, after all, not a newspaper, and it offers a unique insight into the kinds of close personal relationships ‘Abdu’l-Bahá formed with a handful of Americans — in this case an effusive, rising portrait artist from Greenwich Village.

Juliet traveled to ‘Akká to meet ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in 1909. But her first meeting with him dashed her hopes of ever painting the Christ. When ‘Abdu’l-Bahá walked into a room, she wrote, “His effulgence struck me blind.” “Could the sun with the whole universe full of its radiations, or endless flashes of lightning be captured in paint?” Besides, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was adamant that he wasn’t Christ.

Then, the night before the SS Cedric docked in New York, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá cabled a message: “On My arrival in America Miss Juliet Thompson shall paint a wonderful portrait of Me.” (Those would be Juliet’s pronouns.) She described her “surprise and dismay, fear, joy and gratitude all mixed together” at hearing the news.

Thursday, June 6, 1912 2

In the morning, a group of the friends gathered in the Master’s residence. He spoke to them about the Unity Club’s children’s event, explaining divine education and morals. He then went to Mrs Newton’s home in Brooklyn. The servants of Abdu’l-Bahá were also invited to accompany Him for lunch at the home of Mrs Newton and Mrs Rivers.

Today a new guest came from the East to see the Master and to be in His presence, Mírzá ‘Alí-Akbar Nakhjavání. At the table the Master asked him about conditions in the East. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá gave a brief discourse at the table:

“Nothing in the world of existence is greater than such gatherings as these because they have been called solely for the love of God. Observe with what love people from the East are seated at the same table with people from the West. Such love and unity were previously impossible. The power of Bahá’u’lláh has created an affinity in these hearts and has drawn these souls under the canopy of one Word. No family ever gathers with such love and associates with such happiness and joy. It is through the divine power and through the potency of the Word of God that we are assembled here with such gladness and delight. We are turned towards the Abhá Kingdom and like the plants of the flower garden we are swayed by the breezes of His kindness and favor. Today is a day which shall never be forgotten, for we are under the shadow of the Blessed Beauty. Our hearts are joyous with His glad tidings; we breathe the fragrant breezes of the Abhá Kingdom; our ears are delighted with the divine summons, and our spirits are alive through heavenly bounties. Such a day shall never be forgotten.”

In the afternoon, after a short ride in the large public park of Brooklyn, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá returned to New York. A group of people had assembled at His residence to see Him. Saying that He wanted to be alone for awhile, He went to a small garden by the bank of the river near His residence. After a few minutes He returned and spoke to the friends of the heavenly melodies.

New York, Philadelphia, New York 3

On Thursday, June 6, one newspaper carried an article headed “Tracing Darrow Fund,” which described how the lawyer, Clarence Darrow, had been accused of jury bribing. Abdu’l-Bahá, in addition to speaking with the scores of people who surged to His home, took time for a ride in a public park in Brooklyn and a walk alone in the little garden near His home..

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

Question: Will you state the tenets of your faith?

Answer: First, investigate reality. Man must leave imitation and seek reality. The contemporaneous religious beliefs differ because of their allegiance to dogma. It is necessary, therefore, to abandon imitations and seek their fundamental reality.

Second, the oneness of humanity. All human creatures are the servants of God. All are submerged in the sea of His mercy. The Creator of all is one God; the Provider, the Giver, the Protector of all is one God. He is kind to all; why should we be unkind? All live beneath the shadow of His love; why should we hate each other? There are certain people who are ignorant; they must be educated. Some are like children; they must be trained and educated until they reach maturity. Others are sickly, intellectually ill, spiritually ill; they must be treated and healed. But all are the servants of God.

Third, religion must be conducive to love of all, the cause of fellowship, unity and light. If it be the cause of enmity, bloodshed and hatred, its nonbeing is better than its being, its nonexistence better than its existence. Religion and science conform and agree. If a question of religion violates reason and does not agree with science, it is imagination and not worthy of credence.

Fourth, equality between men and women. In all degrees they are equal. The readjustment of the economic laws for the livelihood of man must be effected in order that all humanity may live in the greatest happiness according to their respective degrees.

Fifth, spiritual brotherhood. All mankind must attain to spiritual fraternity—that is to say, fraternity in the Holy Spirit—for patriotic, racial and political fraternity are of no avail. Their results are meager; but divine fraternity, spiritual fraternity, is the cause of unity and amity among mankind. As heretofore material civilization has been extended, the divine civilization must now be promulgated. Until the two agree, real happiness among mankind will be unknown. By mere intellectual development and power of reason, man cannot attain to his fullest degree—that is to say, by means of intellect alone he cannot accomplish the progress effected by religion. For the philosophers of the past strove in vain to revivify the world of mankind through the intellectual faculty. The most of which they were capable was educating themselves and a limited number of disciples; they themselves have confessed failure. Therefore, the world of humanity must be confirmed by the breath of the Holy Spirit in order to receive universal education. Through the infusion of divine power all nations and peoples become quickened, and universal happiness is possible.

These are some of the principles of the Bahá’ís.

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

Mahmud: June 6 – The power of Bahá’u’lláh has created an affinity in the hearts of people from East and West

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

June 6, 1912


  1. Jones, Caitlin Shayda. “Can You Paint Me in a Half Hour?” 239 Days in America, 6 June 2012, https://239days.com/2012/06/06/can-you-paint-me-in-a-half-hour/.
  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#section74
  3. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 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, 169-170. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/12#954195323.

239 Days in America, Day 51: May 31, 1912 | New York

The Presidential Election Gathers Steam 1

“The 1912 presidential election was a unique moment in the Progressive Era,” writes scholar Brett Flehinger, “because it drew together politicians, social reformers, intellectuals, and economists onto a single stage and produced a many-sided national debate about the future of America’s economic, political, and social structure.” This is the first in a recurring series of features on the political environment of the country in which ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spoke.

New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts 2

On Friday [May 31] the papers announced a waiters’ strike and the death of Wilbur Wright of typhoid fever and stated that future physicians would be hypnotists and psychologists. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá went to Fanwood, New Jersey, where He visited Hoar’s Sanitorium, conducted a morning public meeting, and presented an afternoon address in the Town Hall. The friends entreated Him to stay in the refreshing country air for a few days; but He replied, “‘We have no time for amusement. We must engage ourselves in the service of the Threshold of God.’”.

Talk at Town Hall, Fanwood, New Jersey 3

Is it impossible for us to receive the infinite bounties of God? Is it impossible to attain the virtues of the spiritual world because we are not living in the time of Moses, the period of the prophets or the era of Christ? Those were spiritual cycles. Can we not develop spiritually because we are far from them and are living in a materialistic age? The God of Moses and Jesus is able to bestow the same favors, nay, greater favors upon His people in this day. For example, in past ages He bestowed reason, intelligence and understanding upon His servants. Can we say He is not able to confer His bounties in this century? Would it be just if He sent Moses for the guidance of past nations and entirely neglected those living now? Could it be possible that this present period has been deprived of divine bounties while past ages of tyranny and barbarism received an inexhaustible portion of them? The same merciful God Who bestowed His favors in the past has opened the doors of His Kingdom to us. The rays of His sun are shining; the breath of the Holy Spirit is quickening. That omniscient God still assists and confirms us, illumines our hearts, gladdens our souls and perfumes our nostrils with the fragrances of holiness. Divine wisdom and providence have encircled all and spread the heavenly table before us. We must take a bountiful share of this generous favor.

Friday, May 31, 1912 4

At the request of Mr [William H.] Hoar, the Master visited a sanatorium, visiting with the friends and holding two meetings, one in the morning and the other in the afternoon. In both meetings He proclaimed the Word of God and spoke of the teachings of the Blessed Beauty. Many were attracted to the Divine Voice. As the village of Fanwood is a summer resort and its fields and countryside very green and refreshing, it was very much enjoyed by the Master. But when they pleaded with Him to prolong His stay for a few days, because of the excessive heat and soot in New York, He said: ‘We have no time for amusement and fresh air. We must engage ourselves in service to the Threshold of Oneness.’ The services and devotion of Mr Hoar and his family were much appreciated by the Master and were spoken of frequently at the Holy Threshold.

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

Mahmud: May 31 – “We have no time for amusement …”

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

May 31, 1912


  1. Menon, Jonathan. “The Presidential Election Gathers Steam.” 239 Days in America, 31 May 2012, https://239days.com/2012/05/31/the-presidential-election-of-1912/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 75.
  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, 162. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/12#328662947.
  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#section68.

239 Days in America, Day 48: May 28, 1912 | New York

“The Smell of Blood Upon Us” 1

Today, on the afternoon of May 28, 1912, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was about to address the International Peace Forum for a second time — this time at the Metropolitan Temple at Seventh Avenue and 14th Street, where he had spoken to the suffrage meeting just eight days earlier….

There were over 1,000 of them in attendance that day, including two speakers who would share the program with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Reverend [Frederick] Lynch now led the Metropolitan Temple and would go on to become secretary of the Carnegie Church Peace Union. Rabbi Joseph Silverman ran America’s leading Reform Judaism congregation at Temple Emanu-El at Fifth Avenue and 65th Street on the Upper East Side, and was a major voice in the American peace movement. Both men had listened to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá at Lake Mohonk.

After the preamble, Reverend Lynch was the first to speak: “I do not intend to discuss any phases of the Peace question,” he said. “I don’t want to stand here and take your time when I know you want to listen to one who comes from the East.”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, it seemed, was already a much-anticipated voice on the New York peace circuit.

“I have been exceedingly interested in the visit of Abdul-Baha to this country,” Reverend Lynch continued. “It may interest you to know where I first saw him. It was at Charles Grant Kennedy’s play, the ‘Terrible Meek.’” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had attended the play, which depicts the Crucifixion, on the afternoon of April 19, just before he met with Kate Carew and went to the Bowery Mission.

The play, Lynch said, was meant “to show us that we are not to go about in this world with the smell of blood upon us, but we are in this world to carry blessing to mankind.”

“The last century,” Lynch concluded, “was the century of nationalism in religion, but this twentieth century is the century of universality in religion. All our great religions are beginning to spread throughout the world, and we are beginning to find that which is good in them all.”

“Now I welcome this great man today because he stands for all these things.”

Then ‘Abdu’l-Bahá rose to speak.

New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts 2

On Tuesday, May 28, Abdu’l-Bahá was evicted from his hotel because, as Mahmúd noted, of the “coming and going of diverse people” and the “additional labors and troubles” for the staff and the “incessant inquiries” directed to the hotel management. “But,” Mahmúd continued, “when the people of the hotel saw His great kindness and favor at the time of His departure, they were ashamed of their conduct and begged Him to stay longer, but He would not accept.” He moved to Saffa Kinney’s home at 780 West End Avenue.

Talk at Reception at Metropolitan Temple, Seventh Avenue and Fourteenth Street, New York 3

The Fatherhood of God, His loving-kindness and beneficence are apparent to all. In His mercy He provides fully and amply for His creatures, and if any soul sins, He does not suspend His bounty. All created things are visible manifestations of His Fatherhood, mercy and heavenly bestowals. Human brotherhood is, likewise, as clear and evident as the sun, for all are servants of one God, belong to one humankind, inhabit the same globe, are sheltered beneath the overshadowing dome of heaven and submerged in the sea of divine mercy. Human brotherhood and dependence exist because mutual helpfulness and cooperation are the two necessary principles underlying human welfare. This is the physical relationship of mankind. There is another brotherhood—the spiritual—which is higher, holier and superior to all others. It is heavenly; it emanates from the breaths of the Holy Spirit and the effulgence of merciful attributes; it is founded upon spiritual susceptibilities. This brotherhood is established by the Manifestations of the Holy One.

Tuesday, May 28, 1912 4

At a gathering of Bahá’ís, the Master recounted His journey to Boston, speaking on the capacity of souls and the need for divine education. Friends and inquirers were also continuously coming and going to visit Him in His room. Today He moved from the house facing the Hudson River to Mrs Kinney’s home. He had instructed us to rent a house for Him because the owner of the apartment hotel considered that the movement of so many diverse people was unusual and felt that the additional work and difficulty [for the staff] was too much. There had been so many people visiting from morning to night that the hotel management had been obliged to respond to incessant inquiries. However, when the staff saw the Master’s great kindness as He left the hotel they became ashamed of their conduct and begged Him to stay longer, but He did not accept.

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

Mahmud: May 28 – The Master moves to Kinney’s home

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

May 28, 1912


  1. Sockett, Robert, and Jonathan Menon. “‘The Smell of Blood Upon Us.’” 239 Days in America, 28 May 2012, https://239days.com/2012/05/28/the-smell-of-blood-upon-us/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 74.
  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, 150. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/11#473978825.
  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#section65.

239 Days in America, Day 46: May 26, 1912 | Boston – New York

Baptism by Fire 1

AS ‘ABDU’L-BAHÁ APPROACHED Mount Morris Baptist Church at Fifth Avenue and 126th Street in Harlem at 7 p.m. on Sunday, May 26, 1912, he noticed the chorus of a popular Protestant hymn eddying out into the street.

Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!

E’en though it be a cross that raiseth me;

Still all my song shall be nearer, my God, to Thee..

This was the hymn the orchestra had played around midnight on the deck of RMS Titanic as she went down. Bands across the United States had played it at 3:30 p.m. on September 14, 1901, to commemorate President McKinley’s assassination. The Confederate band had played it beneath the late afternoon sun on July 3, 1863, as the few survivors of Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg struggled back to camp.

Though like the wanderer, the sun gone down,

Darkness be over me, my rest a stone;

Yet in my dreams I’d be nearer, my God, to Thee.

This evening in Harlem, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was about to talk about the meaning of sacrifice.

New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts 2

On Sunday morning, May 26, Abdu’l-Bahá prepared to return to New York for yet another visit.

He reached New York at 6:00 P.M., stopped by the Edward B. Kinney home, and then went to the Mount Morris Baptist Church, where the minister, J. Herman Randall, introduced Him. Abdu’l-Bahá told them …

Talk at Mount Morris Baptist Church , Fifth Avenue and 126th Street, New York 3

In the same way, the words I speak to you here tonight may produce no effect whatever. Some hearts may be affected, then soon forget; others owing to superstitious ideas and imaginations may even fail to hear and understand; but the blessed souls who are attentive to my exhortation and admonition, listening with the ear of acceptance, allowing my words to penetrate effectively, will advance day by day toward full fruition, yea even to the Supreme Concourse. Consider how the parable makes attainment dependent upon capacity. Unless capacity is developed, the summons of the Kingdom cannot reach the ear, the light of the Sun of Truth will not be observed, and the fragrances of the rose garden of inner significance will be lost. Let us endeavor to attain capacity, susceptibility and worthiness that we may hear the call of the glad tidings of the Kingdom, become revivified by the breaths of the Holy Spirit, hoist the standard of the oneness of humanity, establish human brotherhood, and under the protection of divine grace attain the everlasting and eternal life.

Sunday, May 26, 1912 4

‘Abdu’l-Bahá left Boston today but before leaving He attended a meeting of the Golden Circle [al-Halqatadh-Dhahabiyyah], the largest Syrian society in America. One of the learned men, Dr Georgi, introduced the Master and praised Him in the most beautiful words. Another gentleman, a poet of the Arabic language, read, with great reverence and respect, an ode he had written in praise of the Cause of God and the Master. Then ‘Abdu’l-Bahá rose and delivered a most eloquent address, which made the Syrians very happy. No one could have imagined that they would have been so attracted and moved to such a degree. When ‘Abdu’l-Bahá stepped from the pulpit, all rushed towards Him to shake His hand. An Arabic-speaking woman struggled out of the crowd with great difficulty and threw herself at His feet, saying, ‘I testify that in Thee is the spirit of God and the spirit of Christ.’

The meetings in Boston pleased the Master, especially the meeting with the Syrians, which He mentioned in particular, saying: ‘What a meeting it was! How the confirmations of the Blessed Beauty transformed the people!’

This was the last meeting in Boston. He left the hotel at noon, reaching New York by 6:00 p.m. Without any rest He went directly from Mr Kinney’s home to the Mount Morris Baptist Church. Standing under the arch of the church and leaning exhausted against a pillar, He addressed the meeting. He spoke of baptism and of the capacity of the soul to receive the breaths of the Holy Spirit. At the close of His talk He chanted a prayer. That night all saw with their own eyes the spirituality and innocence of Christ and the influence of the Holy Spirit. Let no one think that these are mere words; rather they are the expressions and feelings of all those who witnessed this. My premise is this: that in all the gatherings in America, the non-Bahá’ís look upon ‘Abdu’l-Bahá as a Prophet of God. Even though they are not Bahá’ís, their manners and conversations with Him are the same as they might use for their own Prophet and leader. All who come into His presence are seen in this condition. They all refer to the Blessed Being as the Messenger of Peace and the Prophet of the East in their speeches and writings. Although there are a few narrow-minded clergy who burn with the fire of jealousy, a large number of just ministers in every city have accorded Him the utmost reverence. Among them is the translator of those who spoke in praise of the Master. Their words indicate the quality of the audience and societies addressed by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and are a clear proof of the grandeur and power of the Greatest Branch.

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

Mahmud: May 26 – The last meeting in Boston: ‘What a meeting it was!’


  1. Sockett, Robert. “Baptism By Fire.” 239 Days in America, 26 May 2012, https://239days.com/2012/05/26/baptism-by-fire/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 73.
  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, 149. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/11#078006261.
  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#section63.