239 Days in America, Day 147: September 04, 1912 | Montreal

Economics and Spirituality 1

“THE GREAT QUESTION RAISED by the Socialists was of paramount importance,” the Montreal Daily Star reported ‘Abdu’l-Bahá telling a packed parlor at the Maxwell home at 716 Pine Avenue West, on the evening of September 4, 1912. One night after receiving enthusiastic press coverage of his talk on economics, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá explained that while the Socialists asked the right questions, they were unable to provide society with any permanent settlement to its most important problems.

Unfortunately, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá noted, although the question of economic disparity was of great importance, “the governments of the world had failed to give it the earnest attention it deserved.” In 1912, weak labor laws and the absence of social benefits throughout the industrializing world meant that many members of society lived in conditions of abject poverty. Growing expectations of economic justice had to be met, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said, “otherwise disorder everywhere would be the culmination.”

In the same way that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s repeated warnings of a catastrophic war in Europe were prescient, so too his 1912 forecasts of widespread social disorder preceded by five years the world’s first Socialist Revolution in Russia. By the late 1910s and early 1920s, labor strife was ubiquitous in industrial societies worldwide.

Montreal 2

As the translations of the newspaper articles concerning His address at the Socialist Club were read to Him on September 4, ’Abdu’l-Bahá said, “‘This is all through the confirmations of the Blessed Beauty. Otherwise even if the King of Persia had come here he would not have been able to attract such meetings.’” …

Abdu’l-Bahá also commented, in discussing the warm reception of His address, “‘The greatness of the Teachings of Bahá’u’lláh will be known when they are practiced. Not one out of a hundred has as yet come into force. The entire trend of your thoughts should be turned towards bringing these blessed Teachings into practice.’”

1 September 1912, Talk at Home of Mr. and Mrs. William Sutherland Maxwell, 716 Pine Avenue West, Montreal, Canada 3

Life is the expression of composition; and death, the expression of decomposition. In the world or kingdom of the minerals certain materials or elemental substances exist. When through the law of creation they enter into composition, a being or organism comes into existence. For example, certain material atoms are brought together, and man is the result. When this composition is destroyed and disintegrated, decomposition takes place; this is mortality, or death. When certain elements are composed, an animal comes into being. When these elements are scattered or decomposed, this is called the death of the animal. Again, certain atoms are bound together by chemical affinity; a composition called a flower appears. When these atoms are dispersed and the composition they have formed is disintegrated, the flower has come to its end; it is dead. Therefore, it is evident that life is the expression of composition, and mortality, or death, is equivalent to decomposition. As the spirit of man is not composed of material elements, it is not subject to decomposition and, therefore, has no death. It is self-evident that the human spirit is simple, single and not composed in order that it may come to immortality, and it is a philosophical axiom that the individual or indivisible atom is indestructible. At most, it passes through a process of construction and reconstruction. For example, these individual atoms are brought together in a composition, and through this composition a given organism—such as a man, an animal or a plant—is created. When this composition is decomposed, that created organism is brought to an end, but the component atoms are not annihilated; they continue to exist because they are single, individual and not composed. Therefore, it may be said that these individual atoms are eternal. Likewise, the human spirit, inasmuch as it is not composed of individual elements or atoms—as it is sanctified above these elements—is eternal. This is a self-evident proof of its immortality.

Wednesday, September 4, 1912 4

An account of the Master’s talk at the Socialist Club and its influence was published in glowing terms in the newspapers. The force of His explanations and the persuasiveness of His proofs were the talk of the day. Many newcomers came to visit Him. The friends told the Master how happy they were to see the extent to which the Cause of God had penetrated the hearts. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said in reply:

“The greatness of the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh will be known when they are acted upon and practiced. Not one of a hundred has as yet come into force. All of your thoughts should be turned toward bringing these blessed teachings into practice.”

When the translations of some of the newspaper articles were read to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, He said, again, ‘This is all through the confirmations of the Blessed Beauty. Otherwise, even if the king of Persia had come here he would not have been able to bring about even one such meeting.’ In the afternoon, for a change of routine, the Master took the elevator down from the seventh floor and went for an automobile ride to the foot of a mountain outside the city limits. It is a fine place where people go for recreation. It has a cable car, which took the Master and His companions up the mountain. The side of the mountain was perpendicular like a wall. The Master said, ‘This cable car is like a balloon flying in the air.’ It made one nervous to look down. When we reached the top, the Master walked around. It was a magnificent sight, with a view of the whole city stretched before us. The canals, streets and orchards of the town were below. It appeared as if a beautifully painted picture had been spread before one’s eyes.

While we were here, translations of other accounts of the meetings that had been published in the evening newspapers were read to Him. Suddenly He cried out:

“O Bahá’u’lláh! May I be a sacrifice for Thee. O Bahá’u’lláh! May my life be offered up for Thee. Thou hast spoken the Word which cannot be refuted. What a wonderful Cause Thou hast founded! It satisfies every assemblage! Each group testifies to its greatness. In the churches it shakes the souls; it excites the Theosophists; it imparts spirituality to the spiritualists; it makes the Unitarians aware of the reality of unity; it makes the socialists contented and grateful and inspires joy and happiness in the peace meetings. There is no refuge for any denomination except in submission to it. It is a miracle! It is the greatest force in the world of existence. This is all through the assistance of the Blessed Beauty. If healing the lame and crippled is a miracle, it can also be produced by a dose of medicine. This is no great achievement.”

From here the Master and His companions went to the home of Mr and Mrs Maxwell where letters from the East were given to Him. He read the petitions of the friends. Among them was a letter from Mírzá Haydar-‘Alí, in which he dwelt on the greatness and significance of the journey of the Master. The Master said:

“Yes, the value and greatness of these travels are not known now but will be apparent later on. As we had no other intention except to offer devotion to the Threshold of the One True God, we were assisted and the brightness of divine favor and grace appeared.”

Continuing, He said:

“At the time of Muhammad’s migration to Medina under divine protection, Abú Bakr, was with Him. He said to Abú Bakr, ‘Be not afraid, God is with us.’ These very words became afterwards the cause of his succession to the Caliphate because the word ‘with us’ included him also. Many proofs and arguments based on these words have been advanced. The value of this bounty, too, is not known now.”

At a meeting in the evening at Mrs Maxwell’s home, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá gave an address on spiritual brotherhood and the economic principles upheld by the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh which will be the cause of the salvation, prosperity and liberation of the nations of the world. This meeting was very special because the Master’s talk was so influential. The audience was invited to light refreshments of sweets and beverages. Among the guests were Americans, as well as Turks and Arabs clothed in their splendid robes, all of whom were attracted to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and fascinated by His demeanor and words.

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

Our thoughts should be turned toward bringing the blessed teachings of Bahá’u’lláh into practice

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

September 4, 1912


  1. Michel, Tony. “Economics and Spirituality.” 239 Days in America, 4 Sept. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/09/04/economics-and-spirituality/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 134-136.
  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, 306. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/22#066994489
  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#section164

239 Days in America, Day 142: August 30, 1912 | Montreal

‘Abdu’l-Bahá Arrives in Montreal 1

MAY MAXWELL’S TWO-YEAR-OLD daughter, Mary, was fast asleep when ‘Abdu’l-Bahá disembarked from his train at Windsor Station in downtown Montreal, Quebec, at about 8:40 p.m. on Friday, August 30, 1912. He and two secretaries were met by May’s husband, architect William Sutherland Maxwell, and taken by carriage to the door of their home at 716 Pine Avenue West. The neighbors were wide awake though, and under the full summer moon caught glimpses of the figure in flowing robes from their windows. That night, after a fire was lit to warm ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, he asked after Mary, but on hearing that she was asleep, declined to wake her. He would sleep just two doors down the hallway from her room, on the second floor, up the winding staircase and at the end of the hall. Before the close of that first evening, he would say of the Maxwell house: “This is my home.”

Montreal 2

Abdu’l-Bahá left Malden and caught a train in Boston at 9:00 A.M. on Friday, August 30, for Montreal, Canada, arriving there at midnight. He was met at the station by William Sutherland Maxwell. Reporters and friends packed the Maxwells’ house waiting for Him, and Mrs. Maxwell said that invitations and inquiries had be pouring in all day.

He remained in Montreal for ten days, living at the Maxwells’, and, then, despite their entreaties, moving into the Hotel Windsor. The friends and inquirers flocked around Him throughout His stay. He spoke at meeting after meeting at the Maxwell home, and among other places, at the Unitarian Church, at the St. James Methodist Church, and at the Socialist Club.

29 August 1912, Talk at Home of Madame Morey, 34 Hillside Avenue, Malden, Massachusetts 3

We must not be content with simply following a certain course because we find our fathers pursued that course. It is the duty of everyone to investigate reality, and investigation of reality by another will not do for us. If all in the world were rich and one man poor, of what use are these riches to that man? If all the world be virtuous and a man steeped in vice, what good results are forthcoming from him? If all the world be resplendent and a man blind, where are his benefits? If all the world be in plenty and a man hungry, what sustenance does he derive? Therefore, every man must be an investigator for himself. Ideas and beliefs left by his fathers and ancestors as a heritage will not suffice, for adherence to these are but imitations, and imitations have ever been a cause of disappointment and misguidance. Be investigators of reality that you may attain the verity of truth and life.

Friday, August 30, 1912 4

‘Abdu’l-Bahá left today for Montreal. The only servants He took with Him were Mírzá Ahmad Sohrab and myself. Because He had decided to travel to the Western part of America at the pressing invitation of the friends in California, He said, ‘We have a long distance to go and must therefore leave as soon as possible.’ For this reason, He instructed Mírzá Valíyu’lláh Khán-i-Varqá, Áqá Mírzá ‘Alí-Akbar Nakhjávání, Áqá Sa’íd Asad’u’lláh and Dr Getsinger to remain until His return.

As soon as the friends and a group of Arabs saw ‘Abdu’l-Bahá at the railway station in Boston, they surrounded Him, their faces beaming with joy and enthusiasm. At 9:00 a.m. the train left Boston and reached Montreal at 8:00 p.m. On the way, a Canadian was privileged to speak with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. The Master pointed out to him the straight path of truth, and even though this individual had known nothing about ‘Abdu’l-Bahá before this encounter, he was attracted to Him.

When we arrived at the station, we saw Mr [Sutherland] Maxwell hurrying forward to greet the Master. He had two carriages to convey the Master and His companions to his home. There a group of friends and a newspaper publisher were waiting to see the Master. At the table, Mrs [May] Maxwell said, ‘So many people have telephoned and sent letters about your arrival and I have replied to all. I have become very tired but I consider this fatigue the greatest comfort of my life.’ A pastor had telephoned to ask the Master to address his congregation the day after tomorrow. The editor of the newspaper said that he would publish the announcement the next day. When Mrs Maxwell informed ‘Abdu’l-Bahá of this, He said, ‘Very well. You were tired, having undergone such trouble today. You must rest for the time being.’

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

‘Abdu’l-Bahá arrives in Montreal and goes directly to Maxwell home with Sutherland Maxwell

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

August 30 1912


  1. Jones, Caitlin Shayda. “‘Abdu’l-Bahá Arrives in Montreal.” 239 Days in America, 30 Aug. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/08/30/abdul-baha-arrives-in-montreal/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 132-133.
  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, 294. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/20#784101129
  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#section159

239 Days in America, Day 42: May 22, 1912 | Boston

“You Can Kill Me as Soon as You Like,” She Said 1

On his second day in Boston, a hundred guests had gathered to celebrate at the home of Alice [Ives] Breed. But ‘Abdu’l-Bahá left the party early. He never celebrated his birthday because, on the day he was born, something else had also happened, which he considered to be far more important.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s mother, Asiyih, gave birth to him in Tehran. But early that morning in Shiraz, a city 440 miles due south, a young man who called himself the “Báb,” meaning “The Gate,” had set in motion Persia’s greatest upheaval of the nineteenth century, by declaring himself a messenger of God. Within nine years, mobs throughout the country, instigated by religious leaders and aided by the Persian military, had slaughtered 20,000 of his followers and had executed the Báb by firing squad.

Among them was a woman named Táhirih. Three days earlier, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had spoken to an audience of suffragists at the Metropolitan Temple in New York 2. What few of them knew was that, when he was just three of four years old, he used to sit on Táhirih’s lap in his father’s house in Tehran.

Táhirih accepted the teachings of the Báb in her twenties, to the consternation of her father and her husband, and became one his most fearless and brilliant advocates. She was a poet, renowned for her learning and her skill in argument. At a conference near the village of Badasht, in 1848, she shocked her fellow believers by appearing before the all-male gathering without a veil. One of them felt so scandalized that he slit his own throat.

By imposing this new image of equality on the Bábís, Táhirih forced them to make a critical break with the past.

New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts 3

On Wednesday, May 22, Abdu’l-Bahá arrived in Boston and at 4:30 P.M. checked into the Hotel Charles where a large delegation greeted Him. He spoke at 8:00 P.M. that night to nearly three thousand persons, including eight hundred Unitarian ministers at the American Unitarian Association Conference.

Wednesday, May 22, 1912 4

At 10:00 a.m. the Master left New York for Boston, arriving at the Hotel Charles at 4:30 p.m. Many delegates from organizations and groups had gathered at the railway station to greet and welcome Him. The believers had decorated a house with colorful flowers, having made all necessary preparations to receive Him.

That evening the first meeting in Boston was held at 8:00 p.m. for the American Unitarian Association Conference at the Tremont Temple, the largest of all of the churches in the region. The President of the Republic, Mr Taft, is also a member of this important association. Present at the conference were some 800 Unitarian ministers representing the Unitarian churches in America and Canada. In addition, there were nearly two thousand others assembled. The presiding officer of the meeting was the Lieutenant-Governor of Massachusetts [Robert Luce], who introduced the Master to the audience, saying:

“Tonight we express our highest respect and heartfelt gratitude in this great gathering for this highly revered and peace-loving personage who has come from the East to the West to promote the principles of the oneness of humanity and universal peace. Indeed, it is a great joy and supreme honor that this esteemed personage has graced our meeting with His presence. It is my great honor to introduce to you His Holiness, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.”

When the Master stood up, the entire audience gave Him a prolonged standing ovation. Although in all meetings the audience has risen when the Master appeared, this gathering had a particular importance. The group was composed of elected representatives and leaders of many congregations from several countries and it was they who stood, demonstrating their reverence and to honor Him. The Master spoke about the progress and evolution of creation. It was so impressive that the audience applauded with elation and joy.

Talk at the Tremont Temple at the Unitarian Conference, Boston, Massachusetts 5

Creation is the expression of motion. Motion is life. A moving object is a living object, whereas that which is motionless and inert is as dead. All created forms are progressive in their planes, or kingdoms of existence, under the stimulus of the power or spirit of life. The universal energy is dynamic. Nothing is stationary in the material world of outer phenomena or in the inner world of intellect and consciousness.

Religion is the outer expression of the divine reality. Therefore, it must be living, vitalized, moving and progressive. If it be without motion and nonprogressive, it is without the divine life; it is dead. The divine institutes are continuously active and evolutionary; therefore, the revelation of them must be progressive and continuous. All things are subject to reformation. This is a century of life and renewal. Sciences and arts, industry and invention have been reformed. Law and ethics have been reconstituted, reorganized. The world of thought has been regenerated. Sciences of former ages and philosophies of the past are useless today. Present exigencies demand new methods of solution; world problems are without precedent. Old ideas and modes of thought are fast becoming obsolete. Ancient laws and archaic ethical systems will not meet the requirements of modern conditions, for this is clearly the century of a new life, the century of the revelation of reality and, therefore, the greatest of all centuries. Consider how the scientific developments of fifty years have surpassed and eclipsed the knowledge and achievements of all the former ages combined. Would the announcements and theories of ancient astronomers explain our present knowledge of the suns and planetary systems? Would the mask of obscurity which beclouded medieval centuries meet the demand for clear-eyed vision and understanding which characterizes the world today? Will the despotism of former governments answer the call for freedom which has risen from the heart of humanity in this cycle of illumination? It is evident that no vital results are now forthcoming from the customs, institutions and standpoints of the past. In view of this, shall blind imitations of ancestral forms and theological interpretations continue to guide and control the religious life and spiritual development of humanity today? Shall man, gifted with the power of reason, unthinkingly follow and adhere to dogma, creeds and hereditary beliefs which will not bear the analysis of reason in this century of effulgent reality? Unquestionably this will not satisfy men of science, for when they find premise or conclusion contrary to present standards of proof and without real foundation, they reject that which has been formerly accepted as standard and correct and move forward from new foundations.

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

Mahmud: May 22 — First Meeting in Boston


  1. Jones, Caitlin Shayda. “‘You Can Kill Me as Soon as You Like,’ She Said.” 239 Days in America, 22 May 2012, https://239days.com/2012/05/22/you-can-kill-me-as-soon-as-you-like-she-said/.
  2. ʻAbduʼl-Bahá. The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by ʻAbduʼl-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912. Edited by Howard MacNutt. 2nd ed. Wilmette, Ill: Baháʼí Publishing Trust, 1982, 133-137. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/9#680974330.
  3. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 71.
  4. ’Abdu’l-Bahá, and Mirza Mahmud-i-Zarqani. Mahmúd’s Diary: The Diary of Mírzá Mahmúd-i-Zarqání Chronicling ’Abdu’l-Bahá’s Journey to America. Edited by Shirley Macias. Translated by Mohi Sobhani. Oxford: George Ronald, 1998. https://bahai-library.com/zarqani_mahmuds_diary&chapter=3#section59.
  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, 140-141. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/10#971152251.