239 Days in America, Day 144: September 01, 1912 | Montreal

Blood Shed Over “Imaginary Lines” 1

THE CENTURY THAT STRETCHES between 1912 and today is the bloodiest in human history. Millions have been killed in wars, massacres and other acts of persecution, terror, violence and genocide. Brutality on an inconceivable scale has been variously justified in the name of nationalism, ideology, race, religion and class. One hundred years ago today, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá explained that all such excuses for bloodshed have no basis in reality.

“Man has set up imaginary lines,” he said, “only to have them become causes of strife. A river is made a boundary; one side is called France and the other Germany. What a superstition! An imaginary line to become a cause of bloodshed!”

On September 1, 1912, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was speaking at the Unitarian “Church of the Messiah” in Montreal. The Rev. F. J. Griffin introduced him to the packed church. A journalist from the Montreal Star considered ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s address on the causes of war to be “a powerful plea for peace and unity among the nations.” Despite the unusual sound and sight of a Persian speaker “in flowing robes,” the newspaper accounts did not dwell on the exoticism of the speaker’s appearance, but focused on the challenging content of his talk.

The true “reality” was the unity of all humans, said ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Everyone “came from the same elements, all were descended from the same race and all had to live on the same globe.” Because “God created all mankind, maintained all and protected all,” there was “no difference in His bestowal of mercy among His children.”

Montreal 2

On Sunday, September 1, as He prepared to leave for the Unitarian Church where He was to speak, ’Abdu’l-Bahá called one of the Persian friends to sit by Him in the carriage The friend replied that there was plenty of room on another seat; but ’Abdu’l-Bahá insisted, “‘Come and sit here. When I see some one selfish and hankering after rank, I observe these formalities for his correction merely. Everyone may sit wherever he wishes. These things are entirely unimportant.’”

Saturday, September 1, 1912 3

This was a momentous day. From the pulpit of the Unitarian Church, the voice of the Center of the Covenant was broadcast afar. As He prepared to leave for the church, He asked me to sit by Him in the carriage. I said that there was room on the other seat. He replied, ‘Come and sit here. When I see someone who is ambitious and selfish, I observe these formalities merely for his correction. Otherwise, everyone may sit wherever he wishes. These things are entirely unimportant.’ When the carriage arrived, the pastor, who had been waiting at the entrance, came forward, took the Master’s arm with the utmost reverence and courtesy, led him to the pulpit and offered Him his own chair. After the music, the pastor stood and read verses from the Book of Isaiah which allude to the appearance of a promised one from the East. Everyone listened with rapt attention to these verses and felt that they had been specifically written for this day.

In introducing the Master, the pastor said:

“We are honored today with the presence of the Prophet of Peace whose message is the Message of God. God has raised Him to exterminate war and bloodshed. His presence in this church is the cause of eternal honor and the fulfillment of our long-cherished hopes and desires. He is the sign of love among the people and the promoter of oneness and brotherhood among the sons of men. His object is to free people from the shackles of imitation and to unfurl the banner of the oneness of humanity. He is the temple of kindness, the possessor of the greatest news, the inspirer of the new thoughts and the expounder of the happiness of this great cycle. Although He has suffered violence and affliction for many years and has seen persecutions, His spiritual power is still flowing like the water of life. Although His body has felt the cross, yet His spirit, which is life-giving, has not been crucified. He has journeyed by land and sea to come to these western countries. We extend Him a sincere welcome and offer the incense of gratitude for His teachings which are the cause of the recovery of hearts and are the source of eternal blessings and happiness. Now His Holiness ‘Abdu’l-Bahá will speak to you.”

The Master rose and, pacing the stage, gave the following address:

Talk at Church of the Messiah, Montreal, Canada 4

God, the Almighty, has created all mankind from the dust of earth. He has fashioned them all from the same elements; they are descended from the same race and live upon the same globe. He has created them to dwell beneath the one heaven. As members of the human family and His children He has endowed them with equal susceptibilities. He maintains, protects and is kind to all. He has made no distinction in mercies and graces among His children. With impartial love and wisdom He has sent forth His Prophets and divine teachings. His teachings are the means of establishing union and fellowship among mankind and awakening love and kindness in human hearts. He proclaims the oneness of the kingdom of humanity. He rebukes those things which create differences and destroy harmony; He commends and praises every means that will conduce to the solidarity of the human race. He encourages man in every step of advancement which leads to ultimate union. The Prophets of God have been inspired with the message of love and unity. The Books of God have been revealed for the upbuilding of fellowship and union. The Prophets of God have been the servants of reality; Their teachings constitute the science of reality. Reality is one; it does not admit plurality. We conclude, therefore, that the foundation of the religions of God is one foundation. Notwithstanding this, certain forms and imitations have been persistently adhered to which have nothing to do with the foundation of the teachings of the Prophets of God. As these imitations are various and different, contention and strife prevail among the people of religious beliefs, and the foundation of the religion of God has become obscured. Like beasts of prey, men are warring and killing each other, destroying cities and homes, devastating countries and kingdoms.

Saturday, September 1, 1912 (continued) 5

The Master’s address on the unity of humanity and the oneness of the Manifestations of God, together with an explanation of the new teachings, was so enthusiastically received by the audience that it is difficult to describe adequately, especially the effect of the prayer He chanted. As well as the local residents, some Turks and Arabs came to the church to pay their respects to the Master.

A wonderful change came over the hearts of the people of the city and a new excitement was felt in the public meetings. One person asserted that the only religion which was worthy to be acknowledged today was the Bahá’í religion while another thanked God that he was granted life to hear the great message.

In the afternoon a number of people of different nationalities, having obtained permission by telephone, came to visit the Master. Some of the Turks became so attracted to Him that they were continually to be found in His presence, both day and night.

This evening a great multitude assembled to hear ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. He unfolded the mysteries of the evolution of humanity, the divine civilization and the new birth so impressively and with such majesty that His taj fell from His head and His hair tumbled down. He continued to speak in this state for more than half an hour and at last He passed through the crowd to His room. The longing souls in that meeting did not let the Master rest. Out of respect for the people’s wishes, He came out into the crowd and again spoke on spiritual subjects, including the immortality of the spirit, His words diffusing joy and happiness to all.

As He left for His room, some asked for a private interview with Him. Everyone had a request to make and expressed his sincerity and humility and each received His bounties. One of the ladies said that her young son places the Master’s picture in front of him and cries out, ‘O Thou, my Beloved.’ The Master replied, ‘It is a proof of your own love.’

Later the Master said to us, ‘Tomorrow we should move to a hotel. A traveler should stay in a hotel.’ Mr and Mrs Maxwell tried their utmost to dissuade Him but did not succeed.

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

Sitting next to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in the carriage

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

September 1, 1912


  1. Michel, Tony. “Blood Shed Over ‘Imaginary Lines.’” 239 Days in America, 1 Sept. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/09/01/blood-shed-over-imaginary-lines/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 133.
  3. ’Abdu’l-Bahá, and Mirza Mahmud-i-Zarqani. Mahmúd’s Diary: The Diary of Mírzá Mahmúd-i-Zarqání Chronicling ’Abdu’l-Bahá’s Journey to America. Edited by Shirley Macias. Translated by Mohi Sobhani. Oxford: George Ronald, 1998. https://bahai-library.com/zarqani_mahmuds_diary&chapter=7#section161
  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, 297. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/21#179332106
  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=7#section161

239 Days in America, Day 96: July 15, 1912 | New York

July 15, 1912: The Week Ahead 1

AFTER HIS TALK IN BROOKLYN YESTERDAY, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá took an evening trip to West Englewood, New Jersey, where he spent the night. Many New Yorkers took a ride on the Sea Beach Line this weekend, to spend the day at the amusement parks and along the ocean shore at Coney Island.

In the week ahead we take a look back forty years to Bahá’u’lláh’s letters to the kings, to the birth of the Progressive Era in America, and to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s program of reform for the modern nation-state. It will be ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s last full week in New York before a long trip: he won’t be back in the city until November 12.

Monday, July 15, 1912 2

‘Abdu’l-Bahá held in His hand a copy of the address He delivered at the Baptist Church in Philadelphia. He said: ‘I present my subjects and explanations in such a way that no one can refute or argue with them. They are accepted by people of understanding and wisdom.’ Later He went downstairs where several people were waiting to see Him. Among them were some friends from California. He stressed the fact that all activities should be undertaken only with His permission so that no breach of the love and unity of the believers might occur.

There was a cheerful and animated gathering at Mr MacNutt’s home in Brooklyn during the afternoon and evening. The greatest blessing and bounty at the meeting was the manifestation of fellowship and unity among the Bahá’ís under the shadow of the banner of the Covenant of God. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s great joy was reflected in His face and all the friends were enthralled and enraptured. The Master spoke several times. After He had explained some spiritual matters, He would leave the house to take a short walk and then return to speak to them again. He encouraged the friends to serve the Faith, then explained the meaning of the signs of the fulfillment of prophecies. He expressed His joy at the unity and harmony of the Bahá’ís and bestowed His blessings on them. His stay in New York brought about great results and effected the fellowship and unity of the friends.

Talk at Home of Dr. and Mrs. Florian Krug, 830 Park Avenue, New York 3

Thankfulness is of various kinds. There is a verbal thanksgiving which is confined to a mere utterance of gratitude. This is of no importance because perchance the tongue may give thanks while the heart is unaware of it. Many who offer thanks to God are of this type, their spirits and hearts unconscious of thanksgiving. This is mere usage, just as when we meet, receive a gift and say thank you, speaking the words without significance. One may say thank you a thousand times while the heart remains thankless, ungrateful. Therefore, mere verbal thanksgiving is without effect. But real thankfulness is a cordial giving of thanks from the heart. When man in response to the favors of God manifests susceptibilities of conscience, the heart is happy, the spirit is exhilarated. These spiritual susceptibilities are ideal thanksgiving.

There is a cordial thanksgiving, too, which expresses itself in the deeds and actions of man when his heart is filled with gratitude. For example, God has conferred upon man the gift of guidance, and in thankfulness for this great gift certain deeds must emanate from him. To express his gratitude for the favors of God man must show forth praiseworthy actions. In response to these bestowals he must render good deeds, be self-sacrificing, loving the servants of God, forfeiting even life for them, showing kindness to all the creatures. He must be severed from the world, attracted to the Kingdom of Abhá, the face radiant, the tongue eloquent, the ear attentive, striving day and night to attain the good pleasure of God. Whatsoever he wishes to do must be in harmony with the good pleasure of God. He must observe and see what is the will of God and act accordingly. There can be no doubt that such commendable deeds are thankfulness for the favors of God.

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

Cheerful and animated gathering at MacNutt’s home

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

July 15, 1912


  1. Menon, Jonathan. “July 15, 1912: The Week Ahead.” 239 Days in America, 15 July 2012, http://stagingtwo39.wpengine.com/2012/07/15/july-15-1912-the-week-ahead/.
  2. ’Abdu’l-Bahá, and Mirza Mahmud-i-Zarqani. Mahmúd’s Diary: The Diary of Mírzá Mahmúd-i-Zarqání Chronicling ’Abdu’l-Bahá’s Journey to America. Edited by Shirley Macias. Translated by Mohi Sobhani. Oxford: George Ronald, 1998. https://bahai-library.com/zarqani_mahmuds_diary&chapter=5#section113
  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, 236. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/16#090684415

239 Days in America, Day 72: June 21, 1912 | New Jersey

Swifter, Higher, Stronger. 1

“The great mass of humanity does not exercise real love and fellowship,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá told his audience on June 20. He believed that if humanity were to unite, people needed a universal cause that extended beyond national loyalties. It wasn’t enough for people to merely tolerate each other. He wanted people to “be as the parts and members of one body.” The organs of the human body are diverse in shape, composition and function, he explained, but the result of their harmony is a healthy human being, much more than the sum of its parts.

Such a degree of unity, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said, had existed among Bahá’u’lláh’s early Persian followers: “There was no duality but complete mutuality of interests and love.” “If in need of a hat or cloak,” he said, “they would take and use it. The owner would be thankful and grateful that the garment had gone.” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá hoped his unity feast would enable each participant to become “a cause of unity and center of accord,” and that it would generate “this same degree and intensity of love.”

New Jersey: The Unity Feast 2

‘Abdu’l-Bahá arrived in Montclair, New Jersey, on Friday, June 21, staying in a house He had rented in advance. Most of His time was occupied in talking with the people who came to see Him.

Friday, June 21, 1912

In the morning ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spoke to the Bahá’ís and seekers of Montclair about the difference between the kingdom of the Manifestation of God and the kingdom of the material world. In the afternoon many believers from near and far were honored to visit Him. He spoke about some spiritual matters and counseled the friends that it is forbidden to interfere in political matters and that they should obey the laws of their country. Later, several friends arrived with the minister of the Unity Church, who invited the Master for a ride that they might receive His love and bestowals. Today a courier arrived with a special invitation from the Society of the Annual American Celebration [Independence Day, the 4th of July]. However, the Master did not promise to attend and deferred the matter depending on His schedule. 3

Talk at 309 West Seventy-eighth Street, New York, 17 June 2022 4

We should all visit the sick. When they are in sorrow and suffering, it is a real help and benefit to have a friend come. Happiness is a great healer to those who are ill. In the East it is the custom to call upon the patient often and meet him individually. The people in the East show the utmost kindness and compassion to the sick and suffering. This has greater effect than the remedy itself. You must always have this thought of love and affection when you visit the ailing and afflicted.

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

Mahmud: June 21 – Counseling the believers on various Teachings …

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

June 21, 1912


  1. Jones, Caitlin Shayda. “Swifter, Higher, Stronger.” 239 Days in America, 21 June 2012, https://239days.com/2012/06/21/swifter-higher-stronger/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 97.
  3. ’Abdu’l-Bahá, and Mirza Mahmud-i-Zarqani. Mahmúd’s Diary: The Diary of Mírzá Mahmúd-i-Zarqání Chronicling ’Abdu’l-Bahá’s Journey to America. Edited by Shirley Macias. Translated by Mohi Sobhani. Oxford: George Ronald, 1998. https://bahai-library.com/zarqani_mahmuds_diary&chapter=4#section89
  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, 204. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/14#428037065

239 Days in America, Day 60: June 09, 1912 | Philadelphia

Acres of Diamonds 1

“IN THE ESTIMATION OF God all men are equal.” 2

‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s words at the Baptist Temple in Philadelphia on June 9, 1912, echoed the Declaration of Independence, conceived in that same city nearly a century-and-a-half before. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá explained that his father, Bahá’u’lláh, “taught that an equal standard of human rights must be recognized and adopted.”

It was something that the pastor at the Baptist Temple — Dr. Russell H. Conwell — had been practicing for over forty years. By the time ‘Abdu’l-Bahá visited Conwell’s church, it was surrounded by a university, and not one but three hospitals, all designed to uplift the community of Philadelphia.

Conwell first heard about ‘Abdu’l-Bahá during a visit to the Middle East. He later sent a cable to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Egypt, inviting him to address his congregation. It wasn’t Conwell’s first trip to the Middle East. Forty years earlier he had gone as a journalist, a trip that set his life in motion …

Talk at Unitarian Church, Fifteenth Street and Girard Avenue, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 3

At a time when warfare and strife prevailed among nations, when enmity and hatred separated sects and denominations and human differences were very great, Bahá’u’lláh appeared upon the horizon of the East, proclaiming the oneness of God and the unity of the world of humanity. He promulgated the teaching that all mankind are the servants of one God; that all have come into being through the bestowal of the one Creator; that God is kind to all, nurtures, rears and protects all, provides for all and extends His love and mercy to all races and people. Inasmuch as God is loving, why should we be unjust and unkind? As God manifests loyalty and mercy, why should we show forth enmity and hatred? Surely the divine policy is more perfect than human plan and theory; for no matter how wise and sagacious man may become, he can never attain a policy that is superior to the policy of God. Therefore, we must emulate the attitude of God, love all people, be just and kind to every human creature. We must consider all as the leaves, branches and fruit of one tree, children of one household; for all are the progeny of Adam. We are waves of one sea, grass of the same meadow, stars in the same heaven; and we find shelter in the universal divine Protector. If one be sick, he must be treated; the ignorant must be educated; the sleeping must be awakened; the dead must be quickened with life. These were principles of the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh.

New York, Philadelphia, New York 4

On Sunday morning, June 9, He [Abdu’l-Bahá ] drove to 15th Street and Girard Avenue where the Unitarian Church was located and told the congregation of some of the major Teachings of Bahá’u’lláh. In the afternoon He received visitors, including reporters, who came to His hotel rooms. That evening He spoke before the congregation of twenty-five hundred in the Baptist Temple, at Broad and Berks Streets. In His lengthy address He elaborated on nine of the principles of the Bahá’í Faith.

Sunday, June 9, 1912

As the Master intended to leave Philadelphia for New York in the morning, many friends were disappointed owing to their imminent separation from Him. They came to the railway station in great sadness to see Him off and all along the way supplicated assistance and guidance from Him.

In the evening in New York, the Master gave the friends a poignant account of His journey to Philadelphia, outlining the objective of His visit. He also spoke on spiritual stations and the inner progress of the soul, which are the ultimate fruits of human life.

Today the Master revealed many important Tablets. One of them was to Monsieur Dreyfus:

“O thou kind Friend,

“I visited Philadelphia, for a few days, at the invitation of two ministers and at the request of the friends of God. Two large congregations gathered in the two churches and I spoke within the measure of my incapacity. But the confirmations of the Abhá Kingdom, as evident as the sun, descended and enfolded us. Although we are powerless, He is Mighty. Although we are poor, He is All-Sufficient. The importance of this blessed verse became truly manifest: ‘We shall aid whosoever will arise for the triumph of Our Cause with the hosts of the Concourse on high and a company of Our favored angels.’

“I hope that both you and the maidservant of Bahá will be able to render important services on this journey and will become the cause of proclaiming the Word of God. Convey my respectful greetings to the maidservant of Bahá. I pray God for confirmations and assistance for her.

“May the Glory of the All-Glorious rest upon thee.

During this time, both day and night, many people besides these servants were present at the table and enjoyed the presence of the Master.

This evening He spoke of the days in Baghdád, saying:

“The Blessed Beauty did not make any more public speeches after leaving Baghdád and Adrianople. The mode of His discourse and the style of His utterances were a cause of wonder and were without peer or likeness. However, out of respect, I do not wish to give my speeches in that manner.” 5

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

Mahmud: June 9 – The mode and the style of Bahá’u’lláh’s discourse and utterances were a “cause of wonder and were without peer or likeness”

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

June 9, 1912


  1. Sockett, Robert. “Acres of Diamonds.” 239 Days in America, 9 June 2012, https://239days.com/2012/06/09/acres-of-diamonds/.
  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, 182. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/13#242057922.
  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, 174. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/13#529704265.
  4. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 88.
  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#section77