239 Days in America, Day 168: September 25, 1912 | Denver

“The World is a School” 1

“WHEN I ARRIVED IN this country,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá told the congregation at the Divine Science Church in Denver, Colorado, “I realized that American ideals are indeed most praiseworthy. . . .” The nations of Europe were on the verge of war, he noted, driven by prejudice and fanaticism. “You are free from such prejudice,” he added, “for you believe in the oneness and solidarity of the world of humanity.”

The church that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spoke in on the evening of September 25, 1912, had a distinctive history. Its founder, Nona Lovell Brooks, was one of the first female pastors in America. She was also an early proponent of the New Thought movement. While the movement held beliefs that were considered unorthodox by mainstream Christianity — among them spiritual healing and the non-existence of evil — it was more mainstream than some of the groups ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had encountered in America, such as the Theosophists or the Free Religionists. The congregation in Denver believed that truth came through the Bible, and that Jesus was a guide for human behavior.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá arrived at 8 p.m. in an automobile put at his disposal by the editor of the Denver Post. He delivered what was perhaps his most expansive exposition yet on the common foundation of the world’s religions, and the barriers to religious unity.

“The world is a school,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá told his audience, “in which there must be Teachers of the Word of God.” It was a deceptively simple metaphor — one that implied not only that humankind was a single body functioning within a single structure of guidance, but that it progressed over time under the direction of successive teachers.

Minnesota, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah

On September 25 there appeared an article in the [Denver] Post entitled, “ABDUL BA-HA ABBAS—PERSIAN TEACHER—TO CONVERT DENVER.” The reporter, Frances Wayne, wrote:

“A Man of God has come to town.

“With the arrival yesterday of Abdul Ba-ha Abbas, a quicker spirit of tolerance, of brotherly love, of sincerer charity, of all those virtues which lift man above the beast was given wing and must, before his departure, have its effect upon every man and woman who comes within the radius of this wise man of the East.

“Abdul Ba-ha entered the city without any of the glitter or pomp which is the attribute of nobility. He came … companioned by five devoted servants of the faith he preaches and by a reputation for sanity and holiness which makes of the most hardened cynic a respectful spectator.” 2

After a meeting the next day, September 25, He took a walk, and then spoke with the crowds who had gathered. To one person He said, “‘Man is like a bird which is in the cage. A bird cannot get freedom by merely knowing that there are pure breezes, spacious firmament, beautiful gardens, pleasant parks and fountains outside. It must get a power to break the cage and to fly into the pleasant firmament.’” That afternoon He spoke at the home of Mrs. Roberts and that night at a public meeting at the Hotel Shirley. 3

September 25, 1912 4

Most of the people coming today to see the Master were prominent and well-known. Because they so were attracted and transformed by His talks on the divine teachings of the oneness of humanity, universal peace and the principles of the religions, today I wrote to the friends in the East inviting them to come and see how people who had previously had no appreciation for those from the East, especially the Persians, now come in groups to the threshold of the Master and stand waiting their turn to become the recipients of His favor. They consider an interview with Him a source of pride and glory. Many philosophers, professors, clergymen and lecturers come with bowed heads to show their sincere humility. The people from churches and other organizations are also attracted and fascinated, happy to see His life-giving countenance. The Center of the Covenant has caused the Persians to be renowned for their respectability and has crowned the peoples of the East with eternal honor and glory. And how the newspapers of this region praise the Master and the learned and literary people of the West emphasize the importance of these teachings! Notwithstanding this, most of the Persians are asleep and do not understand the cause of their greatness and honor. They are asleep on the bed of negligence and resting in the lap of pride.

After the meeting the Master took a walk. His heart was filled with joy as He said:

“Did you see what a fire was set aglow in the hearts? A person must first be happy and attracted himself to be in a position to transform others. He himself must be impressed in order to impress others. You must act in a way that will make me happy, then you will see what will happen.”

To one who visited Him at the hotel, He remarked:

“I have come to your city and found tall buildings and advancement in material civilization. Now I will lead you to my own city which is the world above. Its administration is the oneness of humanity, its law is international peace, its palaces are ever shining with the lights of the Kingdom, its season is always spring, its trees are ever green, its fruits are fresh and sweet, its sun is ever ascending, its moon is always full, its stars are ever brilliant and its planets are ever circling. That is our city and the Founder is Bahá’u’lláh. We have enjoyed the pleasures of this city and now I invite you to that city. I hope that you will accept this invitation.”

To another He said:

“Man must take flight from the cage of the body and become pure spirit, for the body is a cage which causes difficulties for man and makes him the captive of nature and involves him in all types of misfortunes. But when a person discards all his physical habits, he is freed from all fetters. As physical powers attract the world of nature, so spiritual powers must break these chains. This condition is not realized by thought alone. The powers of nature are ever alert to allure man. The eye is fascinated by beautiful scenery; the ear is entranced by music; the heart is attracted by delights and human passions. A man may be rich but still he wants more because he is attracted by the world of nature; he has means of livelihood yet he desires more. Therefore, the spiritual powers must dominate so that he may be freed from these fetters and attain salvation. Man is like a bird in a cage. A bird cannot attain freedom merely by knowing that in the free world there are pure breezes, spacious skies, beautiful gardens, pleasant parks and fountains; rather, the bird must find a power to break the cage and soar into the wide firmament.”

He then narrated a story about detachment:

“The Persian friends travel mostly on foot. They sleep whenever they get tired. They rest wherever they see a shady tree. Once a person came to an Amír. The Amír wished to present him with a gift and with insistence gave him a robe. Later, when he became tired, he lay down under a tree in the forest with the robe folded under his head. But he could not sleep as he repeatedly imagined that a thief was crouching nearby to take away the robe. At last he rose, threw the robe away and said, ‘As long as this robe is with me, I shall not find rest. To find rest I must give it up.’ How long will you desire a robe for your body? Release your body that you may have no need for a robe.”

A public meeting was held in the afternoon at the home of Mrs Roberts. ’Abdu’l-Bahá walked awhile in the garden outside the house. Although most of the friends watched Him respectfully from a distance, when several ladies from Washington DC saw Him, they ran towards Him, expressing their faith and happiness in the divine teachings which they had heard from His own lips in Washington.

In brief, the Master’s talk that afternoon was to say farewell to the friends, to encourage them in their endeavors to diffuse the fragrances of God and to explain issues related to teaching. They were all set ablaze by His words.

In the evening the proprietor of the Hotel Shirley and the publisher of a newspaper announced that there would be a public meeting in the large hall of the hotel. The spacious room was filled to capacity. I will never forget the joy and excitement of the audience. At times the audience was plunged into a state of sadness and wonder and then into a state of such happiness and joy that peals of laughter could be heard outside the building. It is not possible to describe the excitement and attraction of the people. They all expressed their sadness that the Master was leaving the city. Those men and women staying at the hotel who because of their wealth and pride had previously not deigned to look at us, now sought us out. Everyone was fascinated by the majesty and grandeur of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and gave their hearts to Him.

Talk at Second Divine Science Church, 3929 West Thirty-eighth Avenue, Denver, Colorado 5

One of the forms of prejudice which afflict the world of mankind is religious bigotry and fanaticism. When this hatred burns in human hearts, it becomes the cause of revolution, destruction, abasement of humankind and deprivation of the mercy of God. For the holy Manifestations and divine Founders of religion Themselves were completely unified in love and agreement, whereas Their followers are characterized by bitter antagonism and attitudes of hostility toward each other. God has desired for mankind the effulgence of love, but through blindness and misapprehension man has enveloped himself in veils of discord, strife and hatred. The supreme need of humanity is cooperation and reciprocity. The stronger the ties of fellowship and solidarity amongst men, the greater will be the power of constructiveness and accomplishment in all the planes of human activity. Without cooperation and reciprocal attitude the individual member of human society remains self-centered, uninspired by altruistic purposes, limited and solitary in development like the animal and plant organisms of the lower kingdoms. The lower creatures are not in need of cooperation and reciprocity. A tree can live solitary and alone, but this is impossible for man without retrogression. Therefore, every cooperative attitude and activity of human life is praiseworthy and foreintended by the will of God. The first expression of cooperation is family relationship, which is unreliable and uncertain in its potency, for it is subject to separation and does not permanently cement together the individual members of humanity. There is also a cooperation and oneness in nativity or race which is likewise not efficient, for although its members may agree in general, they differ radically in personal and particular points of view. Racial association, therefore, will not ensure the requirements of divine relationship. There are other means in the human world by which physical association is established, but these fail to weld together the hearts and spirits of men and are correspondingly inefficient. Therefore, it is evident that God has destined and intended religion to be the cause and means of cooperative effort and accomplishment among mankind. To this end He has sent the Prophets of God, the holy Manifestations of the Word, in order that the fundamental reality and religion of God may prove to be the bond of human unity, for the divine religions revealed by these holy Messengers have one and the same foundation. All will admit, therefore, that the divine religions are intended to be the means of true human cooperation, that they are united in the purpose of making humanity one family, for they rest upon the universal foundation of love, and love is the first effulgence of Divinity.

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

People were fascinated with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and considered an interview with Him a source of pride and glory

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

September 25, 1912


  1. Sockett, Robert. “‘The World Is a School.’” 239 Days in America, 25 Sept. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/09/25/deceptively-simple-metaphor-new-thought/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 154.
  3. Ibid, 158.
  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=7#section185
  5. ʻAbduʼl-Bahá. The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by ʻAbduʼl-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912. Edited by Howard MacNutt. 2nd ed. Wilmette, Ill: Baháʼí Publishing Trust, 1982, 337-338. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/26#322101001

239 Days in America, Day 81: June 30, 1912 | New Jersey

Donkeys in Baltimore 1

By this morning, Sunday [June 30], the delegates had voted on an additional fourteen ballots, and the New York Times printed the results of each vote on page two. Governor Woodrow Wilson of New Jersey was slowly breaking down the lead of the frontrunner, Champ Clark, the Speaker of the House.

There weren’t many stories in today’s Times that didn’t have to do with politics, but one of them was about ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. “PROPHET’S DASH FOR TRAIN: Abdul Baha in Spectacular Rush from Montclair” described the spectacle on Saturday morning at the Lackawanna station when his attendants had tried to stop the train from departing without him. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was sandwiched between two Roosevelt stories on page six. The column to his left told how TR was gobbling up Republican newspaper endorsements. To his right Teddy chatted with reporters about Baltimore, his clothing still damp after a thunderstorm, which had narrowly missed ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s unity feast in West Englewood, New Jersey, and had decided to wash out the Roosevelt family picnic in Oyster Bay instead.

New Jersey: The Unity Feast 2

On Sunday morning, June 30, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá left for the home of Mr. Topakyan, the Persian Consul General, in Morristown. On His way there He stopped in Englewood at the home of the minister who had come to see Him the day before, After talking a few minutes, He continued His trip to Morristown. Concerning the afternoon activities, Abdu’l-Bahá’s translator, Dr. Amín Faríd, wrote:

The Consul-General of Persia, Topakyan, gave a barbecue in honor of Abdul-Baha and his Persian suite, at his delightful summer home and garden at Morristown, New Jersey. The journey was accomplished in an automobile from the home of Mr. Roy C. Wilhelm, in West Englewood, through beautiful meadows of New Jersey, and the whole day was spent most pleasantly at the Persian consulate, which is a building in the garden built after the old style of Persian architecture. Among the guests were some prominent men from New York and some society folk to interview him on all sorts of questions. He spoke that forenoon to those persons on the advance of materialism and its evil attendants or concomitants. The dinner was entirely Oriental in character, a barbecue a la Perse. 3

Sunday, June 30, 1912

In the morning, after His obligatory prayer and supplications, the Master invited us into His presence and served us tea with His own hand. He spoke of the blessings and confirmations of the Ancient Beauty, the Greatest Name:

This help and assistance are from Him and these confirmations are through His bounty and favor; otherwise, we are nothing but weak servants. We are as reeds and all these melodies are from Him. We are ants and this dignity of Solomon is from Him. We are servants and this heavenly dominion is from Him. We must, therefore, offer our constant gratitude to Him for His favors and must join heart and soul to praise Him for His blessings.

As His home is always filled with a continuous stream of visitors, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá did not accept invitations from societies or organizations to speak at public meetings. Instead He spoke to the people gathered in the evenings, gave special audiences during the day and attended to other tasks. This evening He spoke about His long stay in New York. ‘As it is the meeting place of the East and the West,’ He said, ‘I desire to make it a center of signs, and pray that the friends may advance and gain precedence in spirituality.’

Apart from these gatherings, the Master’s movements outside attract everyone and His look of favor captivates all. 4

Talk at Home of Mr. and Mrs. Arthur J. Parsons, 1700 Eighteenth Street, NW, Washington, D.C., 24 April 1912

Praise be to God! I have no personal interests. I have an interest in the Kingdom, and this is a sincere intention. I have perfect love for you; therefore, I have traveled this long distance to meet and greet you. I hope that these gatherings may be productive of great results, and there is no greater result than the love of God. There is no greater result than bonds of service in the divine Kingdom and attainment to the good pleasure of the Lord. Therefore, I desire that your hearts may be directed to the Kingdom of God, that your intentions may be pure and sincere, your purposes turned toward altruistic accomplishment unmindful of your own welfare; nay, rather, may all your intentions center in the welfare of humanity, and may you seek to sacrifice yourselves in the pathway of devotion to mankind. Even as Jesus Christ forfeited His life, may you, likewise, offer yourselves in the threshold of sacrifice for the betterment of the world; and just as Bahá’u’lláh suffered severe ordeals and calamities nearly fifty years for you, may you be willing to undergo difficulties and withstand catastrophes for humanity in general. May you bear these trials and tests most willingly and joyously, for every night is followed by a day, and every day has a night. Every spring has an autumn, and every autumn has its spring. The coming of a Manifestation of God is the season of spiritual spring. 5

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

Mahmud: June 30 – Lua’s attempts not to leave the Master for California

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

June 30, 1912


  1. Menon, Jonathan. “Donkeys in Baltimore.” 239 Days in America, 30 June 2012, https://239days.com/2012/06/30/donkeys-in-baltimore/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 103.
  3. Dr. Ameen U. Fareed, “Barbecue in Honor of Abdul-Baha,” Star of the West, 3, no. 11 (Sept. 27, 1912), 8.
  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#section98
  5. ʻAbduʼl-Bahá. The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by ʻAbduʼl-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912. Edited by Howard MacNutt. 2nd ed. Wilmette, Ill: Baháʼí Publishing Trust, 1982, 54-55. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/3#867540848

239 Days in America, Day 53: June 02, 1912 | New York

Superstition, Tradition, Mystery, and Confusion 1

CLOUDS HAD GATHERED above Manhattan as the sun dropped to the horizon, and they were expecting rain, but it was still a sweltering 79˚F when ‘Abdu’l-Bahá arrived at the Church of the Ascension at Fifth Avenue and 10th Street in New York, just before 8 p.m. on Sunday, June 2, 1912.

“I suppose nobody is satisfied with all that background of superstition, tradition, mystery and confusion of thought,” Dr. Percy Stickney Grant said, the Rector of the Church, “which in many religions is regarded as the necessary beginning of belief.”

Every Sunday evening at this time, Grant held his “People’s Forum,” an open discussion with a guest speaker that got down to brass tacks on practical issues that mattered to New Yorkers. Back on May 12 Grant had invited ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to return to the Church of the Ascension — where he had given his first American public address on April 14 — to converse with the audience attending this evening’s Forum.

After Grant’s introduction, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spoke for a few minutes…

Talk at Church of the Ascension, Fifth Avenue and Tenth Street, New York 2

In the western world material civilization has attained the highest point of development, but divine civilization was founded in the land of the East. The East must acquire material civilization from the West, and the West must receive spiritual civilization from the East. This will establish a mutual bond. When these two come together, the world of humanity will present a glorious aspect, and extraordinary progress will be achieved. This is clear and evident; no proof is needed. The degree of material civilization in the Occident cannot be denied; nor can anyone fail to confirm the spiritual civilization of the Orient, for all the divine foundations of human uplift have appeared in the East. This, likewise, is clear and evident. Therefore, you must assist the East in order that it may attain material progress. The East must, likewise, promulgate the principles of spiritual civilization in the western world. By this commingling and union the human race will attain the highest degree of prosperity and development.

New York, Philadelphia, New York 3

On Sunday, June 2, the New York Times announced, in a special report from Montclair, New Jersey, “BAHA TO LIVE ON MONTCLAIR. FAMOUS PERSIAN RELIGIOUS LEADER TAKES A HOUSE THERE.”

The report continued:

“Abdul Baha, … head of the Bahaists, who number 14,000,000 throughout the world, will make his home in Montclair, The Persian prophet … has taken the house at 11 Bradford Place … and will live there after June 15.”

“Abdul Baha recently spoke in Unity Church here, and was so impressed by the reception he received and by the physical aspects of the town that he expressed a desire to take up his abode in the town …”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá returned to the Church of the Ascension that evening, and after a brief walk, answered questions submitted on slips of paper from the audience …

Sunday, June 2, 1912 4

At a large and beautiful gathering at the Church of the Ascension, many were honored with the bounty of hearing the addresses and explanations of the Master and were thus turned towards the Kingdom of God. This was the second time this church was graced by Him around Whom all names revolve. He said:

“At the time of my arrival at the church I was in no condition to speak; but when I stood before this great gathering I found the atmosphere of the church filled with the Holy Spirit and so a state of wonderful happiness and joy came over me.”

He began His address by saying:

“In the terminology of the Holy Books, the church is a symbol of the Covenant, in other words it is a gathering place for different peoples and races so that it may become a sign and token of the true Temple and the Divine Law.”

It was an exposition about the Cause of God as the collective center, the manifestation of the Prophets and the coming of Bahá’u’lláh.

Through the pastor, Dr Grant, some in the audience requested permission to ask some questions, which was granted. Everyone who wished wrote a question on a piece of paper and submitted it through an usher. Through an interpreter, the questions were translated and the answers given to the inquirers. Oh, that the Eastern friends could have been in these churches and gatherings in the West to see with their own eyes the beauty and glory of their Master! They would have rejoiced in perceiving that which no spoken or written words can adequately describe.

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

Mahmud: June 2 – Second Address at the Church of Ascension

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

June 2, 1912


  1. Menon, Jonathan. “Superstition, Tradition, Mystery, and Confusion.” 239 Days in America, 3 June 2012, https://239days.com/2012/06/02/superstition-tradition-mystery-and-confusion/.
  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, 165-166. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/12#102518045.
  3. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 85.
  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#section70.

239 Days in America, Day 49: May 29, 1912 | New York

The Good Shepherds 1

YOU MIGHT HAVE EXPECTED ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to speak to the International Peace Forum on the scourge of war, or perhaps the need for international arbitration. Yet, just as he had done at the Lake Mohonk Conference on International Arbitration, and at various speeches to peace societies in New York, he tackled the subject in an unexpected way. He spoke instead about religion, and about the prophets of God throughout the ages.

The peace movement in the early twentieth century was deeply intertwined with religion. Peace organizations met in churches and synagogues. Their membership pursued the cause of peace with religious conviction. But ‘Abdu’l-Bahá wasn’t simply taking advantage of a captive audience in order to present a religious message; his approach ran much deeper. He argued that the binding power of religion must lie at the core of humankind’s hopes for peace.

“There is a brotherhood greater and superior to all other brotherhoods,” he said, “and that is the spiritual brotherhood, the heavenly brotherhood. This brotherhood is established by the Manifestations of the Holy One.”

New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts 2

The New York City American, the next day [Wednesday, May 29], in an article headed, “URGES ONE RELIGION FOR ALL,” reported about the meeting:

The Metropolitan Temple was filled yesterday with a fashionable and distinguished audience greeting Abdul Baha Abbas. Upon the platform were seated the Rev. Wesley J. Hill, former pastor of the Metropolitan Temple Church, who presided; the Rev. Rabbi Silverman and the Rev. Dr. Frederick Lynch, all of whom spoke…

Abdul Baha said that divine religions, like the waters, are in reality one. He advocated one universal religion with no racial difference.

Talk at Home of Mr. and Mrs. Edward B. Kinney, 780 West End Avenue, New York 3

The divine Manifestations have been iconoclastic in Their teachings, uprooting error, destroying false religious beliefs and summoning mankind anew to the fundamental oneness of God. All of Them have, likewise, proclaimed the oneness of the world of humanity. The essential teaching of Moses was the law of Sinai, the Ten Commandments. Christ renewed and again revealed the commands of the one God and precepts of human action. In Muḥammad, although the circle was wider, the intention of His teaching was likewise to uplift and unify humanity in the knowledge of the one God. In the Báb the circle was again very much enlarged, but the essential teaching was the same. The Books of Bahá’u’lláh number more than one hundred. Each one is an evident proof sufficient for mankind; each one from foundation to apex proclaims the essential unity of God and humanity, the love of God, the abolition of war and the divine standard of peace. Each one also inculcates divine morality, the manifestation of lordly graces—in every word a book of meanings. For the Word of God is collective wisdom, absolute knowledge and eternal truth.

Wednesday, May 29, 1912 4

A public meeting was held today by the Theosophical Society where ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spoke on matters relating to the spirit and its passage through the world of existence. The effect of His address was such that the president of the society said, in the presence of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, that his greatest desire was to bring about a perfect harmony between the Bahá’ís and the Theosophists. The happiness of Master increased day by day through influence of the Cause of God. Whenever He was asked about His health, He said with the utmost happiness, ‘My health and happiness depend on the progress of the Cause of God. Nothing else merits attention. This happiness is eternal, and this life is life everlasting.’

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

Mahmud: May 29 – “My health and happiness depend on the progress of the Cause of God.”

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

May 29, 1912


  1. Sockett, Robert. “The Good Shepherds.” 239 Days in America, 29 May 2012, https://239days.com/2012/05/29/the-good-shepherds/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 74-75.
  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, 154. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/12#218331438.
  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#section66.

239 Days in America, Day 28: May 08, 1912 | Washington, D.C.

Juliet Thompson’s Inside View 1

THE YOUNG JAPANESE CHERRY trees on the northern shore of the Tidal Basin bloomed in coral pink. Washington in spring is a treat to the eyes of a painter. Juliet Thompson 2 was born nearby, and although she has lived in Paris and New York she has returned — not to paint it, but to follow ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.

She met ‘Abdu’l-Bahá for the first time in ‘Akká in 1909, then was drawn to Thonon-les-Bains, France, when he was there in 1911, and now back to Washington. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá holds Juliet in high regard, not for her skill as a painter, (when she was 24, the New York Times called her “one of the most promising young artists of the day”), but for her sincerity. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá observed of her: “Everybody is your friend.”

…[On] May 7, 1912, Juliet started to write her account of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s first trip to Washington. Her diary will become one of the most important historical sources about ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s journey across America. 3

Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Washington, D.C.

On Wednesday, May 8, after an early morning tea, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá packed, and caught the 9:00 A.M. train for a second visit to Washington, D.C. His companions begged Him to take a special compartment or a berth on the train; but He refused saying, “‘I spend money only to help people and to serve the Cause of God; and I have never liked distinctions since my childhood.’”

After a twelve-hour train ride they arrived in Washington; but this time ‘Abdu’l-Bahá refused Mrs. Parsons’ invitation to stay in her home. Instead He rented an apartment at 1340 Harvard Street. From there He went to the Parsons’ home where there was an assemblage of people waiting for Him. 4

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

Wherever His oppressors sent Him, He hoisted the standard of the oneness of the world of humanity and promulgated the principles of the unity of mankind. Some of these principles are as follows. First, it is incumbent upon all mankind to investigate truth. If such investigation be made, all should agree and be united, for truth or reality is not multiple; it is not divisible. The different religions have one truth underlying them; therefore, their reality is one. 5

The second principle or teaching of Bahá’u’lláh is the proclamation of the oneness of the world of humanity—that all are servants of God and belong to one family; that God has created all and, therefore, His bestowals are universal; and that His providence, training, sustenance and loving-kindness surround all mankind.

This is the divine policy, and it is impossible for man to lay the foundation of a better plan and policy than that which God has instituted. Therefore, we must recognize and assist the purpose of the glorious Lord. Inasmuch as God is kind and loving to all, why should we be unkind? As this human world is one household, why should its members be occupied with animosity and contention? Therefore, humanity must be looked upon with the eye of equal estimate and in the same attitude of love. The noblest of men is he who serves humankind, and he is nearest the threshold of God who is the least of His servants. The glory and majesty of man are dependent upon his servitude to his fellow creatures and not upon the exercise of hostility and hatred.

The third principle or teaching of Bahá’u’lláh is the oneness of religion and science. Any religious belief which is not conformable with scientific proof and investigation is superstition, for true science is reason and reality, and religion is essentially reality and pure reason; therefore, the two must correspond. Religious teaching which is at variance with science and reason is human invention and imagination unworthy of acceptance, for the antithesis and opposite of knowledge is superstition born of the ignorance of man. If we say religion is opposed to science, we lack knowledge of either true science or true religion, for both are founded upon the premises and conclusions of reason, and both must bear its test. 6

Wednesday, May 8, 1912 7

Early in the morning, as the Master was having tea, preparations were underway to continue our journey. We received copies of some of the newspapers carrying accounts of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s visit and His explanations of the most intricate problems of life and the influence that the Cause had had in that city. Every day the call of the Cause of God was awakening the inhabitants of Cleveland and Pittsburgh who had been asleep on the bed of negligence and this was increasingly reported.

The time for the Peace Congress, which the Master had promised to attend, was fast approaching. He moved like lightning from place to place and at each He tore asunder the veils of vain imaginings. In a very short time He accomplished many great tasks. Because the meetings in these cities had been scheduled in advance, several were held in one day and thousands of people were attracted and transformed by Him.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá left Pittsburgh at 9:00 a.m. and at 9:00 p.m. the friends in Washington DC, who were anxiously awaiting His arrival at the railway station, were overjoyed to see Him. At every stop He had been shown such great respect that it was like the bowing and bending of the cypress trees, demonstrating the power of the spiritual springtime and the tranquillity and flourishing of the garden of humanity. After lunch on the train, some of the friends pleaded with Him to secure a cabin that He might sleep and get some rest. He replied: ‘I make certain expenditures only to help people and to serve the Cause of God; and since my childhood I have never liked distinctions.’ He spoke for some time on this subject and warned us against making such personal distinctions.

When the Master arrived in Washington DC He was driven to a house especially rented for Him at [1340] Harvard Street, which was near Mrs Parsons’s home. Joining us today were Dr Zia Bagdadi of Chicago, the son of Muhammad Mustafa Bagdadi, and Mírzá Ahmad Sohrab of Washington DC, both of whom were given the tasks of translating and writing.

The Master spoke today about the meaning of the prophecies and signs of the Day of the Manifestation of God:

“Through their ignorance of these meanings people have always remained veiled from the manifestations of the bounties of Him Who is the Causer of Causes. Although in the divine scriptures mention is made of a heaven and an earth other than the physical heaven and earth, yet they have interpreted these signs literally and have deprived themselves of spiritual worlds and divine knowledge.”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá then went to Mrs Parsons’s home where He spoke about the teachings on economics to the friends, who were extremely pleased with His explanation.

  1. Jones, Caitlin Shayda. “Juliet Thompson’s Inside View.” 239 Days in America, May 8, 2012. https://239days.com/2012/05/08/juliet-thompsons-washington/.
  2. Ahdieh, Hussein. “Juliet Thompson: Champion of the Baha’i Faith in New York City.” Bahá’í Blog, 26 May 2021, https://www.bahaiblog.net/2021/05/juliet-thompson-champion-of-the-bahai-faith-in-new-york-city/.
  3. Thompson, Juliet. The Diary of Juliet Thompson. Edited by Marzieh Gail. 1st ed. 1947. Reprint, Los Angeles: Kalimát Press, 1983. https://bahai-library.com/thompsondiary.
  4. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 64.
  5. ʻAbduʼl-Bahá. The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by ʻAbduʼl-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912. Edited by Howard MacNutt. 2nd ed. Wilmette, Ill: Baháʼí Publishing Trust, 1982, 105-106. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/7#173120438
  6. ʻAbduʼl-Bahá. The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by ʻAbduʼl-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912. Edited by Howard MacNutt. 2nd ed. Wilmette, Ill: Baháʼí Publishing Trust, 1982, 106-107. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/7#489305200
  7. ’Abdu’l-Bahá, and Mirza Mahmud-i-Zarqani. Mahmúd’s Diary: The Diary of Mírzá Mahmúd-i-Zarqání Chronicling ’Abdu’l-Bahá’s Journey to America. Edited by Shirley Macias. Translated by Mohi Sobhani. Oxford: George Ronald, 1998. https://bahai-library.com/zarqani_mahmuds_diary&chapter=3#section45.

239 Days in America, Day 17: April 27, 1912 | Washington, DC

At 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue 1

President Taft had invited ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to visit him at the White House at 12:30 [on Sunday, April 28th]. On Friday morning ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had spoken at the President’s church, All Souls Unitarian on Harvard Street. Then, on Saturday, members of the Taft family had attended an evening reception that Mrs. Parsons had held for 300 dignitaries in the capital.

William Sulzer, the Democratic Congressman from New York, had also come to the Parsons’ for a private interview with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. He was Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and said later that he felt he had just talked with the prophet Elijah, and Moses. Shortly afterward, another invitation arrived: this one came from Champ Clark (D-Missouri), the Speaker of the House of Representatives, who asked ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to address Congress the following week on his vision of world peace.

Washington D. C. 2

At the Parsons’ reception in the afternoon He [‘Abdul-Bahá] said to a Justice of the Supreme Court, “‘It is possible to establish such unity among the powers of the whole world as is found in the United States of America.’”

To some of the doctors He said, “‘I hope that you will raise the standard of the universal peace.’”

To a mathematician He said, “‘I hope that you will try to teach the truth and principles of divine relations to different nations as you are teaching mathematics to different persons in your school.’”

To Admiral Peary He said, “‘I hope that you will explore the invisibilities of the Kingdom.’”

To the Archbishop He said, “‘I hope you will throw away the injurious formalism, enforce the truth of the teaching of Christ, and remove all those dogmas that are against science and reality.’”

To a member of Congress He said, “‘As you are endeavoring for the good of America, so you must put forth your energy for the good of the whole world and all the nations.’”

“Remembering those who looked into His eyes” 3

Talk to Theosophical Society, Home of Mr. and Mrs. Arthur J. Parsons , 1700 Eighteenth Street, NW, Washington, D.C., 25 April 1912

Man has two powers; and his development, two aspects. One power is connected with the material world, and by it he is capable of material advancement. The other power is spiritual, and through its development his inner, potential nature is awakened. These powers are like two wings. Both must be developed, for flight is impossible with one wing. Praise be to God! Material advancement has been evident in the world, but there is need of spiritual advancement in like proportion. We must strive unceasingly and without rest to accomplish the development of the spiritual nature in man, and endeavor with tireless energy to advance humanity toward the nobility of its true and intended station. For the body of man is accidental; it is of no importance. The time of its disintegration will inevitably come. But the spirit of man is essential and, therefore, eternal. It is a divine bounty. It is the effulgence of the Sun of Reality and, therefore, of greater importance than the physical body. 4

Saturday, April 27, 1912

Mrs Parsons offered the Master a sum of money but He said that she should distribute it among the poor. No matter how much she supplicated, He would not accept it, saying, ‘If we had not had the money necessary for the expenses of the voyage, we would have accepted your offer.’

The Treasurer of the United States had lunch with the Master. This gentleman was very happy and smiling as he bade farewell to the Master. Later, the Master went to the home of an official to say goodbye. The man embraced Him, weeping with joy. When I saw the smile of the Treasurer and the tears of the official, I recited this poem: ‘The smiles and tears of the lovers are from another world.’

The Bahá’í meetings and the outstanding qualities of the Master have received such acclaim that today, out of jealousy, some narrow-minded Christian clergymen spoke out against the Cause.

Since this was the last night of the Master’s stay in the this city, Mrs Parsons held an elegant reception for dignitaries and city officials in honor of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and on behalf of the Orient-Occident Unity Society. Three hundred people in formal attire assembled in the spacious rooms, which were beautifully decorated with flowers and ornaments. When the Master came downstairs, each guest, man and woman alike, approached Him with the utmost reverence to shake His hand. They introduced one another and paid Him their respects. The guests then went into the dining room to partake of the repast prepared for them, including beverages, cakes, ice cream and coffee.

After they had eaten the guests were ushered into the music hall while the Master sat in another room to receive those who wished to see Him. He answered all their questions. To a Washington judge He said: ‘It is possible to establish among the powers of the whole world the unity which is found among the states of the United States of America.’ To some doctors He stated, ‘I hope that you will raise the standard of universal peace.’ To a mathematician He said, ‘I hope that you will try to teach the truth and principles of divine religions to different nations just as you are teaching mathematics to different persons in your school.’ To Admiral Peary, the explorer of the North Pole, He said, ‘I hope you will discover the mysteries of the Kingdom of God.’ The Master spoke to a bishop, saying, ‘My hope is that you will abandon harmful imitations, spread the truth of the teachings of Christ and remove all those dogmas that are against science and reality.’ To the chargé d’affaires of Switzerland, the Master described His sojourn in that country. To some relatives of the President of the United States [William Howard Taft] He spoke about divine civilization. To a member of Congress, He said, ‘Just as you are exerting yourself for the good of America, so must you expend your energy for the benefit of all the nations of the world.’ He also spoke to the head of the United States Patent Office and the General Consul, the President of the Peace Congress and other well-known personages.

When this magnificent meeting ended, the guests came to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá one by one to shake His hand and to say goodbye. The night was one of the most blessed nights and that meeting one of the most great and important meetings. 5

  1. Menon, Jonathan. “At 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.” 239 Days in America, April 27, 2012. https://239days.com/2012/04/27/at-1600-pennsylvania-avenue/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 45-46.
  3. Van Ness, Zabine. “Remembering Those Who Looked into His Eyes: Abdul Baha’s Visits with Some Influential Dignitaries, April 11th to December 5th, 1912.” PDF, Seattle, WA, 2012, 31.https://hearttoheart.co/PDFs/Abdul-Bahaandhisvariousvisitations.pdf.
  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, 60. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/3#470126563.
  5. Mahmud-i-Zarqani, Mirza. Mahmúd’s Diary: The Diary of Mírzá Mahmúd-i-Zarqání Chronicling ’Abdu’l-Bahá’s Journey to America. Edited by Shirley Macias. Translated by Mohi Sobhani. Oxford: George Ronald, 1998. https://bahai-library.com/zarqani_mahmuds_diary&chapter=2#section34