239 Days in America, Day 234: November 30, 1912 | New York

The Progressives Collapse: 1917-1920 1

In 1912, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had argued that political coalitions, and social and diplomatic approaches to America’s problems would, of themselves, prove inadequate to the challenges of the modern age. “The bonds which hold together the body politic are not sufficient,” he said on October 7 in Oakland, “. . . for how often it happens that people of the same nation wage civil war amongst themselves.” “Another means of seeming unity,” he told a group in Chicago on September 16, “is the bond of political association, where governments and rulers have been allied for reasons of intercourse and mutual protection, but which agreement and union afterward became subject to change and violent hatred even to the extreme of war and bloodshed.” In early March, 1917, a month before America declared war, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá reiterated his point. Patriotism, nationalism, political institutions, shared interests and ideals, he argued, are “the matter and not the substance, accidental and not eternal—temporary and not everlasting. With the appearance of great revolutions and upheavals, all these collective centers are swept away.”

“What is real unity?” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had asked a Unitarian congregation in Brooklyn on June 16th. “The unity which is productive of unlimited results,” he argued, “is first a unity of mankind. . . . For they all breathe the same atmosphere, all inhabit the same earth, all are sheltered beneath the same heaven, all receive effulgence from the same sun, all are under the protection of one God.”

Final Days in America: New York City 2

Finally, on November 30, some devised a plan for clinging to His mantel until He would accept it. He called in others and said to them all:

I am pleased with your services and I am grateful for all you have done for Me. … Now you have brought presents for the members of My family. They are acceptable, but the best of all presents is the love of God which remains preserved in the treasuries of hearts. Material presents remain for a time but this lasts forever. These presents require chests and shelves for safekeeping while this is preserved in the repositories of the minds and hearts and remains eternal and immortal forever in the divine worlds. I shall, therefore, convey to them your love which is the most precious of all gifts. No one uses diamond rings in our home and no one wants rubies. That house is free from all these things.

I, however, accept your presents but I leave them in your safe keeping with the request that you will kindly sell them and send the proceeds to the funds for the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár.

Saturday, November 30, 1912 3

Some of the believers agreed among themselves to go to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and cling to His robe until He accepted their gifts. They came and begged He accept their offerings. The Master called them, saying:

“I am most grateful for your services; in truth you have served me. You have extended hospitality. Night and day you have been ready to serve and to diffuse the divine fragrances. I shall never forget your services, for you have no purpose but the will of God and you desire no station but entry into the Kingdom of God. Now you have brought presents for the members of my family. They are most acceptable and excellent but better than all these are the gifts of the love of God which remain preserved in the treasuries of the heart. These gifts are evanescent but those are eternal; these jewels must be kept in boxes and vaults and they will eventually perish but those jewels remain in the treasuries of the heart and will remain throughout the world of God for eternity. Thus I will take to them your love, which is the greatest of all gifts. In our house they do not wear diamond rings nor do they keep rubies. That house is sanctified above such adornments.

“I, however, have accepted your gifts; but I entrust them to you for you sell and send the proceeds to the fund for the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár in Chicago.

When the friends continued to plead with Him, He said: ‘I want to take from you a present which will endure in the eternal world and a jewel which belongs to the treasuries of the heart. This is better.’

No matter how much the friends supplicated and pleaded, He would not accept their gifts and instead asked them all to contribute towards the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár fund. He did this everywhere He traveled.

Mrs [Helen S.] Goodall and Mrs [Ella Goodall] Cooper asked the Master, as He had not accepted their gifts — which would have drawn blessings and confirmations upon them — to give them permission to render Him some service on His travels. They even wrote letters to some of His companions, asking them to intercede on their behalf that they might render a service and share the Master’s travel expenses. However, He would not accept their offer and refused all entreaties.

There was a public meeting at the home of Mrs [Carrie H.] Kinney. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spoke about love, loyalty, unity, the amity of the believers, spreading the Word of God, the promotion of universal peace and the brotherhood of humanity. The excitement and joy of the believers were beyond description.

29 November 1912, Talk at Home of Mr. and Mrs. Edward B. Kinney, 780 West End Avenue, New York 4

There are other questions and evidences to be considered. Abraham was a Manifestation of God and a descendant of Adam; likewise, Ishmael, Isaac, Jeremiah and the whole line of prophets including David, Solomon and Aaron were among His posterity. Were all these holy men condemned to a realm of punishment because of a deed committed by the first father, because of a mistake said to have been made by their mutual and remotest ancestor Adam? The explanation is made that when Christ came and sacrificed Himself, all the line of holy Prophets who preceded Him became free from sin and punishment. Even a child could not justly make such an assertion. These interpretations and statements are due to a misunderstanding of the meanings of the Bible.

In order to understand the reality of sacrifice let us consider the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ. It is true that He sacrificed Himself for our sake. What is the meaning of this? When Christ appeared, He knew that He must proclaim Himself in opposition to all the nations and peoples of the earth. He knew that mankind would arise against Him and inflict upon Him all manner of tribulations. There is no doubt that one who put forth such a claim as Christ announced would arouse the hostility of the world and be subjected to personal abuse. He realized that His blood would be shed and His body rent by violence. Notwithstanding His knowledge of what would befall Him, He arose to proclaim His message, suffered all tribulation and hardships from the people and finally offered His life as a sacrifice in order to illumine humanity—gave His blood in order to guide the world of mankind. He accepted every calamity and suffering in order to guide men to the truth. Had He desired to save His own life, and were He without wish to offer Himself in sacrifice, He would not have been able to guide a single soul. There was no doubt that His blessed blood would be shed and His body broken. Nevertheless, that Holy Soul accepted calamity and death in His love for mankind. This is one of the meanings of sacrifice.

As to the second meaning: He said, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven.” It was not the body of Christ which came from heaven. His body came from the womb of Mary, but the Christly perfections descended from heaven; the reality of Christ came down from heaven. The Spirit of Christ and not the body descended from heaven. The body of Christ was but human. There could be no question that the physical body was born from the womb of Mary. But the reality of Christ, the Spirit of Christ, the perfections of Christ all came from heaven. Consequently, by saying He was the bread which came from heaven He meant that the perfections which He showed forth were divine perfections, that the blessings within Him were heavenly gifts and bestowals, that His light was the light of Reality. He said, “If any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever.” That is to say, whosoever assimilates these divine perfections which are within me will never die; whosoever has a share and partakes of these heavenly bounties I embody will find eternal life; he who takes unto himself these divine lights shall find everlasting life. How manifest the meaning is! How evident! For the soul which acquires divine perfections and seeks heavenly illumination from the teachings of Christ will undoubtedly live eternally. This is also one of the mysteries of sacrifice.

In reality, Abraham sacrificed Himself, for He brought heavenly teachings to the world and conferred heavenly food upon mankind.

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

Friends insisting that the Master would accept their gifts and offerings

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

November 30, 1912


  1. Menon, Jonathan. “The Progressives Collapse: 1917-1920.” 239 Days in America, 30 Nov. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/11/30/the-collapse-of-the-progressives-1917-1920/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 190.
  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=9#section252
  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, 449-451. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/33#865612551

239 Days in America, Day 231: November 27, 1912 | New York

‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Program for a Durable Peace: 1919 1

“PEACE, PEACE, THE LIPS of potentates and peoples unceasingly proclaim,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was heard to say in the months following the First World War, “whereas the fire of unquenched hatreds still smoulders in their hearts.”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá began to advise Americans against putting too much faith in the outcome of the Paris Peace Conference before it had even begun. “Although the representatives of various governments are assembled in Paris in order to lay the foundations of Universal Peace,” he wrote to a friend in Portland, Oregon, on January 10, 1919, two days before the conference convened, “yet misunderstanding . . . is still predominant and self-interest still prevails. In such an atmosphere, Universal Peace will not be practicable, nay rather, fresh difficulties will arise.”

He argued the same point in a long letter to the Central Organization for a Durable Peace, a commission set up in 1915 at The Hague to plan for an eventual postwar reconciliation. Fannie Fern Andrews, one of the American members of the commission, explained its purpose in front of the American Academy of Political and Social Science in 1916. “When the representatives of the states come together in the midst of the wreck and desolation left by the war, their task will be almost overwhelming,” she said. “The fundamental basis of the new world order which must come after the present war must be laid today.” The Organization asked ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to present his proposals for global peace in February, 1916, but he was cut off behind enemy lines and didn’t receive the letter until after the war ended.

The central message of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s letter, which he sent to The Hague from Haifa on December 17, 1919, was that achieving universal peace required a more comprehensive approach than customary international diplomacy would permit. “If the question is restricted to Universal Peace alone the remarkable results which are expected and desired will not be attained,” he wrote. “The scope of Universal Peace must be such that all the communities and religions may find their highest wish realized in it.”

Peace, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá argued, required a massive social transformation of the depth and scope that his father, Bahá’u’lláh, had proposed: the consciousness of the whole human race being a single people; the central motivating role of non-dogmatic, reasonable religious belief; deliberately weeding out religious, racial, class, partisan, and nationalistic prejudices; complete equality between the sexes; universal education for children; the conviction that the whole surface of the earth is one native land. National boundaries, he argued, are imaginary lines that emerged during the early history of civilization to serve the selfish interests of a few individuals, and these in turn led to “intense enmity, bloodshed and rapacity in subsequent centuries.” “In the same way,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá emphasized, “this will continue indefinitely, and if this conception of patriotism remains limited within a certain circle, it will be the primary cause of the world’s destruction.”

Final Days in America: New York City 2

On Wednesday, November 27, during His [Abdu’l-Bahá ] discourses throughout the day, He told His listeners at one point, “‘Their [Manifestations’] only motive was the education of blessed souls and sanctified spirits who became the teachers of the divine education and the promoters of the Great Guidance and the Supreme Favor. The people of Bahá must endeavor day and night to enforce this noble purpose. They must put forth their energy to educate themselves and other sanctified souls.’”

Wednesday, November 27, 1912 3

In the morning the Master gave several talks to the Bahá’ís, one of which was the following:

“The purpose of the divine Manifestations has been the education of holy souls. Some have imagined that their purpose was to found temples and churches or to establish a new nation or to gain personal fame and that for these considerations they accepted severe degradation and became targets for the arrow of fate. These are idle fancies because those holy Beings knew well that the dominion of God existed when there was no trace of them and that it shall continue to exist when no trace of them remains. Thus fame or oblivion, honor or degradation are one and the same to those Gems of existence. Indeed, their ultimate desire is selfless devotion to the one true God and absolute nothingness in His court. Their only motive has been the education of blessed souls and sanctified beings who are the foundation of divine education and promoters of the most great guidance and the supreme favor.

“The people of Bahá must endeavor day and night to promulgate this lofty purpose. They must endeavor and strive strenuously to educate themselves and other sanctified souls. They must awaken the peoples and nations of the world and free them from dogmas and imitations. They must pass beyond the world of names and fix their gaze on realities and inner meanings.”

At the end of the meeting some friends gave Him written petitions asking for spiritual assistance. He said, ‘We have received so many letters that there is no time to read them; how, then, is it possible to answer them?’

In the afternoon again the friends and seekers arrived in groups. The Master’s talk mainly concerned the need for both a spiritual and a material civilization. ‘The coming of age and maturity of man’, He said, ‘will appear when these two civilizations become entwined.’

The Master spoke to a leader of the socialists on economic issues, the brotherhood of humanity and the Bahá’í teachings. The man was overwhelmed to hear such solutions to questions upon which the well-being of the world depend.

The Master spoke to a group of women about education, training, virtues and the rights of women. In brief, every day and night, to a greater and greater extent, the faces shone with the fire of the love of God and the souls beamed with the radiance of the beauty of the Beloved.

23 November 1912, Talk at Banquet, Great Northern Hotel, 118 West Fifty-seventh Street, New York 4

This meeting of yours tonight is very different in character. It is a universal gathering; it is heavenly and divine in purpose because it serves the oneness of the world of humanity and promotes international peace. It is devoted to the solidarity and brotherhood of the human race, the spiritual welfare of mankind, unity of religious belief through knowledge of God and the reconciliation of religious teaching with the principles of science and reason.

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

“The purpose of the divine Manifestations has been the education of holy souls.”

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

November 27, 1912


  1. Menon, Jonathan. “‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Program for a Durable Peace: 1919.” 239 Days in America, 27 Nov. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/11/27/abdul-bahas-program-for-a-durable-peace-1919/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 189.
  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=9#section249
  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, 447. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/32#955162073

239 Days in America, Day 227: November 23, 1912 | New York

The Spark That Set Aflame the World: 1912-1918 1

“WILL THE PRESENT WAR in the Balkans,” a New Yorker asked ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, “terminate in the world war?’” “No,” he answered, “but within two years a spark will rise from the Balkans and set the whole world on fire.”

One of the main reasons ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had come to the United States was to warn about an imminent European war, and to push Americans to rally to prevent it. “Just now Europe is a battlefield of ammunition ready to spark,” he told a peace forum meeting in New York on May 12, “and one spark will set aflame the whole world.” After he visited Niagara Falls on September 10, the Buffalo Courier recorded him saying, “The continent of Europe is one vast arsenal which only requires one spark at its foundations and the whole of Europe will become a wasted wilderness.” Throughout his journey ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had argued that America, because it had no empire to protect, was uniquely positioned to call other nations to peace. …

‘Abdu’l-Bahá left New York aboard the SS Celtic on December 5, 1912. He arrived in Liverpool, England, on December 13, 1912, traveled through England, France, Austria-Hungary, and Germany for six months, then returned to Egypt. He did not finally arrive home in Haifa until December 5, 1913, a full year after leaving America. Within eight months, Europe was burning.

Final Days in America: New York City 2

The days of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s visit were passing quickly. A farewell banquet was planned on November 23 at the Great Northern Hotel, where Howard Colby Ives estimated there were six hundred, and Mahmúd, three hundred, present. The banquet hall was regal with festoons, banners, and flowers, the crystal glistening beneath the lights. The Master spoke of the oneness of mankind to the white Bahá’ís. The next night, at the Kinneys’, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and the white friends served the black friends whom the hotel management had vehemently excluded the night before. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said, “‘Today you have shown the Commandments of the Blessed Beauty in your actions and have acted according to the teachings of the Supreme Pen.’”

Saturday, November 23, 1912 3

The friends arranged a banquet in commemoration of the Day of the Covenant and the journey of the beloved of all hearts. Today many came to the Master with bouquets of flowers in their hands. The banquet was held in the ballroom of New York’s Grand Northern Hotel. The hall was decorated similarly to that in Washington with festoons, banners, ornaments and exquisite screens, with the Greatest Name suspended above all on the stage in its customary calligraphy.

In the center of the ballroom were two rectangular tables, between which was another large table exquisitely set. Around these tables on both sides were placed small circular tables bedecked with colorful flowers, a variety of sweets and crystal glassware. The electric lighting reflected the glassware and caused the whole room to shine brilliantly. More than three hundred guests, formally attired, attended. Several friends and specifically Miss Lany Lead served at the banquet.

When the Master appeared, all rose from their seats and with smiling faces cried out, ‘Alláh-u-Abhá!’ Many of the hotel guests saw the banquet and were astonished to see the grandeur of the Master and the sincerity and enthusiasm of the friends. After the Master took His seat, Mr Hoar, on behalf of the Bahá’ís, read an address of welcome expressing obedience and firmness in the Covenant. The Master rose and responded with an address about the divine teachings and the oneness of humanity. He then walked around the tables and perfumed the heads and faces of the friends with attar of rose. When He returned to His chair, the friends, accompanied by the piano, sang songs of praise to Him.

Later the Master spoke about the wars and massacres of the nations and the need for the teachings of the Greatest Name. He encouraged all towards peace, harmony and sincere love for all the people of the world. After His talk, the Consul General, Mr Topakyan, and others gave short speeches praising ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.

This evening’s banquet was so grand that the hotel staff were curious to know about the Cause. They came to see the Master to ask about the banquet and why so many distinguished Americans were praising and glorifying a person from the East. Indeed, it was a banquet for a king and a source of awakening to every person of insight.

Two photographs were taken with a good quality glass and special lighting. Although the photographs do not show the entire group, they tell much about the banquet.

Talk at Banquet, Great Northern Hotel, 118 West Fifty-seventh Street, New York 4

This meeting is, verily, the noblest and most worthy of all meetings in the world because of these underlying spiritual and universal purposes. Such a banquet and assemblage command the sincere devotion of all present and invite the downpouring of the blessings of God. Therefore, be ye assured and confident that the confirmations of God are descending upon you, the assistance of God will be given unto you, the breaths of the Holy Spirit will quicken you with a new life, the Sun of Reality will shine gloriously upon you, and the fragrant breezes of the rose gardens of divine mercy will waft through the windows of your souls. Be ye confident and steadfast; your services are confirmed by the powers of heaven, for your intentions are lofty, your purposes pure and worthy. God is the helper of those souls whose aim is to serve humanity and whose efforts and endeavors are devoted to the good and betterment of all mankind.

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

A grand banquet in commemoration of the Day of the Covenant

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

November 23, 1912


  1. Jones, Caitlin Shayda. “The Spark That Set Aflame the World: 1912-1918.” 239 Days in America, 23 Nov. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/11/23/the-spark-that-set-aflame-the-world-1912-1918/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 187.
  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=9#section245
  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, 448. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/32#292746477

239 Days in America, Day 220: November 16, 1912 | New York

The Struggle to Be Fully Human 1

During his [‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s] travels in Europe and America, he relentlessly promoted the idea of a human race that is distinct from the animal kingdom, defining both intellectual and spiritual capacities as fundamentally different than natural instincts. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá didn’t deny humankind’s nearly unlimited capacity for self-interest, but he rejected the reductionist view of human beings that considers our nature as consisting of little else.

“Man is in the highest degree of materiality, and at the beginning of spirituality,” he would often argue. “That is to say, he is the end of imperfection and the beginning of perfection. He is at the last degree of darkness, and at the beginning of light . . . he is the sum of all the degrees of imperfection, and . . . he possesses the degrees of perfection.” Human beings, he said, are capable of both the most degraded behavior, and the most saintly. “Not in any other of the species in the world of existence,” he added, “is there such a difference, contrast, contradiction and opposition as in the species of man.”

At Stanford University on October 8, 1912, and again two days later at the Open Forum in San Francisco, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had defined humanity based on the qualities that differentiate us from animals — abstract thought, scientific advancement, the impulse for discovery, the capacity to struggle in the face of adversity, and moral reasoning among them. Yet these intellectual endowments, he frequently told audiences, must ultimately serve higher spiritual faculties such as justice, love, compassion, and generosity.

Saturday, November 16, 1912 2

After morning prayers and meditation, the Master spoke of the afflictions and persecutions of the believers in the East and their perseverance and steadfastness in the Cause of God. He spoke graciously of the family of Hadrát Samandarí and other old Persian friends. Later, at a gathering of the friends, He spoke these words:

“The holy Manifestations endured great afflictions and persecutions and at every moment accepted torment and oppression. Christ suffered violent persecutions, accepting the suffering of the Cross and the most glorious martyrdom. The results of these persecutions were eleven disciples who were truly blessed souls. They became luminous and heavenly; they became the cause of the enlightenment of the people of the world.

“I hope that you, too, may reach such a station, that it will be said that you are the fruit of the revelation of Bahá’u’lláh; that it will be said, ‘It is these people who are the aim of this new revelation; they are the jewels of existence; they are illumined, divine, spiritual and heavenly.’ If someone asks what Bahá’u’lláh has done, they will be told, ‘He has educated these people.’”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá then spoke about the divine laws and religions:

“Divine religions consist of two parts. One aspect is that of spiritual laws which constitute the foundation of all divine religions. They are immutable and unalterable. The second aspect consists of social laws and relates to material affairs, and changes according to the exigencies of the time.”

To a new group He said:

“Gracious God! Although people see with their own eyes that in the dispensation of Christ the eleven disciples were ordinary men who, because of their faith in Him, found eternal life and shone from the horizon of perpetual honor; and that the Jews, with all their worldly honor, became contemptible; and that Caiaphas, the greatest enemy of Christ, was, together with his whole family, obliterated from the face of the earth while a simple fisherman, because of his belief in Christ, became the great Peter, yet, despite all this, still they take no heed.”

In the afternoon meeting His address on the reality of God and the victory of the Manifestations of God threw the entire audience into an extraordinary state of excitement and attraction, especially the friends from New Jersey, who with Mr [William] Hoar, after the meeting went to the Master’s room and became the recipients of His grace and special bestowals.

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

Wherever the mention of Bahá’u’lláh rises up, that is the paradise of Abhá. Wherever purified, severed and illumined souls are found, that is the paradise of Bahá. Ṭihrán is the paradise of Bahá’u’lláh, for souls are found there you cannot call human; they are angels. In reality, the Bahá’í friends in that city are of the heavenly host. Whenever I think of them, I become happy.

The Blessed Perfection suffered innumerable ordeals and calamities, but during His lifetime He trained in all regions many souls who were peerless. The purpose of the appearance of the Manifestations of God is the training of the people. That is the only result of Their mission, the real outcome. The outcome of the whole life of Jesus was the training of eleven disciples and two women. Why did He suffer troubles, ordeals and calamities? For the training of these few followers. That was the result of His life. The product of the life of Christ was not the churches but the illumined souls of those who believed in Him. Afterward, they spread His teachings.

It is my hope that you all may become the product of the life of Bahá’u’lláh and the outcomes of His heavenly training. When the people ask you, “What has Bahá’u’lláh accomplished?” say to them, “He has created these; He has trained us.”

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

Striving to become “… the fruit of the revelation of Bahá’u’lláh”

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

November 16, 1912


  1. Sockett, Robert. “The Struggle to Be Fully Human.” 239 Days in America, 16 Nov. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/11/16/the-struggle-to-be-fully-human/.
  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=9#section238
  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, 437. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/32#317807173

239 Days in America, Day 205: November 01, 1912 | Chicago

Abdu’l-Bahá Strolls in Lincoln Park 1

THINGS WERE COMING TO an end as ‘Abdu’l-Bahá contemplated the view from his window at the Plaza Hotel at the corner of North and Clark Streets, during his final few days in Chicago. He was preparing to leave America soon, on an early ship from New York after brief stops in Cincinnati and Washington, DC. Across the nation the presidential candidates were wrapping up the campaign season. Almost fifteen million Americans — almost all of them men, almost all of them white — would go to the polls next Tuesday. Even autumn was fighting for its life: the mercury dipped just below freezing overnight on Friday, November 1, and brisk northerly winds raked the leafless trees of Lincoln Park across the street from the Plaza Hotel.

During his stays in Chicago ‘Abdu’l-Bahá made a habit, every morning and evening, of taking walks across the lawns and woods of Lincoln Park, which extended northward from the hotel for a mile and half along the western shore of Lake Michigan. One morning in early May, with most of the tree branches still bare, he visited the Lincoln Park Zoo. Honoré Jaxon was there to tell the story in his sentimental, somewhat grandiose prose. “The many strange and beautiful forms of bird and animal life herein presented,” Jaxon wrote, “proved very interesting to Abdul-Baha, as he walked among them with a manner which somehow reminds one of the legends of St. Francis of Assisi.”

The Journey East: Chicago, Cincinnati, Washington, D.C., Baltimore 2

…[T]he next day, Friday, November 1, [‘Abdu’l-Bahá] continued to meet the crowds who sought Him.

He went with one man to view a private collection of ancient art and, on returning to the friends, said, “‘This man took Me to his house to show picture which are nothing more than the toys of children and they are ignorant of this marvel of divine strength.’”

Friday, November 1, 1912 3

Among those visiting ‘Abdu’l-Bahá for the first time was a man from Russia. When he was admitted into the Master’s room he began to complain about Russia. The Master said to him:

“Do not speak ill of Russia. Render good to friend and foe alike. Say that you are one with all. Be a true well-wisher of people. Give up your evil thoughts and pray for all. Be at peace and make peace with all. Do not express hatred or resentment toward anyone. Be a proclaimer of peace and say, ‘Now I feel no enmity toward anyone.’ Praise all and be mindful of the story of Christ. When everyone expressed disgust on seeing the body of a dead dog, Christ said, ‘What white teeth it has!’”

The visitor was so overwhelmed that he cried out, ‘Today I have found the way to salvation and safety.’ The Master replied, ‘If you follow these teachings you will see things greater than this.’

A minister came to see ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. The Master spoke with him about the sanctity of God. When a crowd had gathered, the Master went into the hall of the hotel and continued His conversation with the minister on the same subject, explaining that God’s holiness is beyond imagination or likeness. Afterwards, after repeated invitations from a prominent man, the Master went to a private museum. This man had collected in a magnificent building specimens of antique art, pictures, drawings and other relics of past craftsmanship. When the Master returned to the hotel, He said: ‘This man took us to his house to show pictures and other objects. I was greatly surprised to find that people go to view things which are nothing more than children’s toys but they fail to examine this divine system.’

Dr Milburn, the minister of the Congregational Church, with his wife and others came to see the Master with the utmost humility. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said: ‘I have not forgotten our previous meeting or your talk in the church. There is not a shadow of a doubt that it was inspired by the Holy Spirit. It will remain for eternity in the history of this Cause.’ He then told them about the zeal and enthusiasm of the friends in California. Mrs Milburn begged Him to come to their summer home. He replied, ‘It is impossible because we must soon return to the East.’

On seeing their sincerity and interest, the Master said:

“Chicago has great capacity. I hope that the banner of the unity of mankind will be unfurled in this city and that the believers here will be united and be as the different flowers of one divine garden and become the adornment of the world of humanity, so that the dormant pulse of this country will beat vigorously.”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá spoke about receiving assistance in the Cause of God:

“My health was absolutely not up to traveling but the assistance of the Blessed Beauty helped me. All affairs advance with His aid. Without His aid, all would come to naught. When I left Syria I was ill and weak and also was not used to traveling. All were astonished. But now I am in Chicago and have other journeys ahead of me. You must continue to follow these teachings and promote universal peace and the unity of mankind so that misfortunes and calamities such as the Balkan disaster may cease and wars and massacres disappear completely. Observe: it is the children who are orphaned and families which are destroyed. The flames of the fire of war are day by day becoming more intense. You must become the cause of quenching this fire so that the light of love may enlighten the world.”

The Master addressed some socialists, saying:

“Bahá’u’lláh delivered us from all prejudices. It is prejudice that destroys the world. Every enmity, war, misunderstanding and suffering that has ever occurred in this world has been from either religious, patriotic, racial or political prejudice. Prejudice is contemptible and injurious in whatever form it may be. When these prejudices are removed from the world then will the world of humanity find salvation. We are striving for this mighty purpose. Twenty thousand persons have been sacrificed for this great Cause. With the utmost meekness they were martyred in order that these prejudices be eliminated and so that brotherhood and unity would be established. Our endeavors and self-sacrifice have been in order to unite diverse nationalities and to bring the various denominations under the shade of the one Word. Some may speak while others may even labor for good causes but they do so to obtain personal benefits and to gain a name for themselves. Even these works are of a limited nature. But Bahá’ís strive day and night for the public weal and in order to render service to humanity and to gain eternal honor.”

With a merry twinkle in His eyes, He continued:

“If the socialists succeed they would seize the world’s wealth and then divide it. But the Bahá’ís sacrifice their lives and properties. Socialist principles would annul class differences and distinctions and thus cause disorder in the system. But Bahá’u’lláh has laid down a great foundation for a system which, although it advocates the oneness of humanity and upholds the common weal, will preserve the various ranks. Every rank should perform its duties. Rights should be equal and all are the servants of one kind God. He who performs righteous acts is nearer to God and he whose efforts are more virtuous is more bountifully confirmed.”

Turning towards the ladies He said with a smile:

“I have said in America and Europe that there is only the question of votes in which women have been held back and claim equality with men. In California they even have this right. In all other respects it is men who must demand equality of rights. How many men in Europe and America work from morning until evening and whatever they save is spent on adornments and jewelry and colorful clothes and the latest fashions for their wives who spend their time in pleasure and enjoyment? In reality, these poor men are servants of their wives.

Once a respectable gentleman came with his wife to see me. A little dust had settled on the wife’s shoes. She instantly asked her husband to clean them. As the poor man was cleaning her shoes he glanced at me. I said, ‘Madam! Do you also clean your husband’s shoes?’ She replied that she cleaned his clothes. I said, ‘No, that is not equality. You, too, must clean his shoes.’ Now then, it would be better if you occasionally stand up for the rights of men.

“One time an American woman had gone on a long trip to Europe, all in great comfort, while her poor husband was back in America, working hard and sending his earnings to her. This is the case with most of the wealthy and middle classes of the West, whereas there must be equality. A condition must be realized in which the man and woman sacrifice their rights for each other, serve each other with heart and soul and not through force and violence. This condition cannot be realized except through the power of faith. Hearts must be attracted to the divine fragrances so that each one prefers the other to himself and does not consider himself above the other.

“A Parsi Bahá’í came to ‘Akká to ask me to make honorable mention of his deceased wife. He was lamenting piteously saying, ‘That woman worked hard for forty years in my home but as I had no wealth she never had any comfort.’ To put it briefly, spiritual susceptibilities must reach this stage, they must become heavenly. Physical susceptibilities are of an animal nature and it is heavenly enlightenment which is worthy of man.”

Such detailed explanations were given daily. They were so numerous that if collected in a book, it would be a volume of immense size.

A public meeting was held in the evening at the home of Mrs True. The Master delivered an impressive address concerning the majesty of the Manifestations of the Pre-Existent Beauty, the opposition of the people of the world and the final victory and influence of the Cause and the Covenant of God.

Talk at Home of Mrs. Corinne True, 5338 Kenmore Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 4

We visited San Francisco and from there went to Los Angeles. In these places we found most devoted friends. Truly zealous and aglow with the fire of the love of God, their sole purpose is ever to serve the Kingdom of Abhá. I hope that you may serve even more faithfully and take precedence over all the other friends. May the fire of the love of God be so enkindled in Chicago that all the cities in America shall be ignited. This is my hope.

My third visit here expresses the degree of my longing to see you and the extent of my love. It was thought that I should go direct from San Francisco to New York and thence to the Orient; but impelled by excessive love, I have visited Chicago again to associate with you in fellowship and fragrance. I hope that these three visits may be most productive of future results. May you all become signs of unity; may each one be a standard of Bahá’u’lláh, each one shine as a star, each one become precious and worthy in the Kingdom of God. May you attain such a condition of spirituality that the people will be astounded, saying, “Verily, these souls are proofs in themselves of the validity of Bahá’u’lláh, for through His training they have been completely regenerated. These souls are peerless; they are truly the people of the Kingdom; they are distinguished above the people about them. This is in reality a proof of Bahá’u’lláh. Behold how educated and illumined they have become.”

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

“Be at peace and make peace with all.”

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

November 1, 1912


  1. Menon, Jonathan. “‘Abdu’l-Bahá Strolls in Lincoln Park.” 239 Days in America, 1 Nov. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/11/01/abdul-baha-strolls-in-lincoln-park/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 177.
  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=9#section223
  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, 383-384. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/28#050779978

239 Days in America, Day 191: October 18, 1912 | Los Angeles

Thornton Chase’s Long Season of Suffering 1

‘BY ALL ACCOUNTS, THE first thirty-three years of Thornton Chase’s life were a torrent of suffering, heartache, and failure.

He was born James Brown Thornton Chase on February 22, 1847, in Springfield, Massachusetts. His mother, Sarah Thornton Chase, died of complications from childbirth sixteen days later. His father, Jotham Chase, remarried, but his new wife had no affection for the young boy. By the age of thirteen James was in the care of a Baptist minister in nearby Newton. His father and stepmother had started a new family.

James entered the Union Army at the age of sixteen, fought in two battles in the final year of the Civil War, and went deaf in his left ear from a cannon blast. After the war he entered college, only to drop out in his freshman year. Then, at the age of twenty-three, he secured his first taste of happiness.

He was now going by the name “Thornton,” taking his mother’s maiden name as his first. He married a young teacher, Annie Allen, and they bought a home in Springfield. Ten months after the wedding they welcomed their first daughter, naming her Sarah Thornton Chase after Chase’s mother. He started a business dealing in timber.

Within a year, the business went belly up. …

California 2

On Friday, October 17, when friends from Seattle and Portland came to supplicate Him to visit Oregon and Washington, He replied, “‘… tell them that I am always with them. Bodily meeting is nothing compared with spiritual connections.’”

Later that day ‘Abdu’l-Bahá boarded the train for Los Angeles, taking with Him Mrs. Goodall, Mrs. Ralston, and the Persian friends. In Los Angeles, inquirers, reporters, and friends crowded around Him. To the many people seeking to arrange speaking engagements, He replied, “‘I have no time. I have come here to see the tomb of Mr. Chase and to meet some friends.’” Thornton Chase, the First American to become a Bahá’í, had died on September 30, while ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was enroute from Glenwood Springs, Colorado, to California.

Friday, October 18, 1912 3

At the time of His departure for Los Angeles, He said to the friends from Portland and Seattle who had begged Him to come to their cities:

“Send my love and good wishes to all the friends in Portland and Seattle and tell them that I am always with them. Meeting physically is as nothing compared with spiritual bonds. What is important is spiritual nearness.”

When the message of the Master reached those eager friends, they telegraphed their acquiescence and instead requested permission to visit Him. They arrived during the last days of His stay in San Francisco and attained the blessing of His presence, their eyes ever filled with tears and their hearts burning with the fire of love at their nearness to the Master.

At the railway station several believers asked to be permitted to accompany ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to Los Angeles. Among them was Mrs Goodall. The Master had a very pleasant journey on the train. When various newspaper accounts were read to Him, He said, ‘These revolutions in Turkey are the preliminary stages for my return.’ In the afternoon a resident of Los Angeles received permission to visit the Master in the train and entered His presence with the utmost sincerity and reverence.

Early in the evening ‘Abdu’l-Bahá arrived at the Hotel Lankershim and the friends from that city, in transports of joy and happiness, gathered around Him. Several church and society leaders invited Him to speak at their meetings but He replied: ‘I have absolutely no time. I have come here to visit Mr Chase’s grave and to meet the friends. I will stay here one or two days and then I must leave.’

12 October 1912, Talk at Temple Emmanu-El, 450 Sutter Street, San Francisco, California 4

Christ ratified and proclaimed the foundation of the law of Moses. Muḥammad and all the Prophets have revoiced that same foundation of reality. Therefore, the purposes and accomplishments of the divine Messengers have been one and the same. They were the source of advancement to the body politic and the cause of the honor and divine civilization of humanity, the foundation of which is one and the same in every dispensation. It is evident, then, that the proofs of the validity and inspiration of a Prophet of God are the deeds of beneficent accomplishment and greatness emanating from Him. If He proves to be instrumental in the elevation and betterment of mankind, He is undoubtedly a valid and heavenly Messenger.

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

Meeting physically vs. “spiritual nearness”

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

October 18, 1912


  1. Sockett, Robert. “Thornton Chase’s Long Season of Suffering.” 239 Days in America, 18 Oct. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/10/18/thornton-chase-long-season-of-suffering/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 169.
  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=8#section209
  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, 366. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/27#602264991

239 Days in America, Day 2: April 12, 1912 | New York, NY

‘Abdu’l-Bahá: New Yorker 1

‘Abdu’l-Bahá drew an analogy between human society and the structure of matter. “If the atoms which compose the kingdom of the minerals were without affinity for each other,” he said, “the universe could not have been created. When this attraction or atomic affinity is destroyed, the power of life ceases to manifest; death and nonexistence result. The purpose of man’s creation is, therefore, unity and harmony, not discord and separateness.” 2

First Days in America: New York City

That afternoon ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said to a thousand persons in the [Mr. and Mrs. Howard] MacNutt home,

Array yourselves in the perfection of divine virtues. I hope you may be quickened and vivified by the breaths of the Holy Spirit. Then shall ye indeed become the angels of heaven whom Christ promised would appear in this Day to gather the harvest of divine planting. This is my hope. This is my prayer for you.3

Talk at Home of Mr. and Mrs. Howard MacNutt, 935 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, New York

This is a most happy visit. I have crossed the sea from the land of the Orient for the joy of meeting the friends of God. Although I am weary after my long journey, the light of the spirit shining in your faces brings me rest and reward. In this meeting the divine susceptibilities are radiant. This is a spiritual house, the home of the spirit. There is no discord here; all is love and unity. When souls are gathered together in this way, the divine bestowals descend. The purpose of the creation of man is the attainment of the supreme virtues of humanity through descent of the heavenly bestowals. The purpose of man’s creation is, therefore, unity and harmony, not discord and separateness. 4

Thursday, April 11, 1912 [Friday, April 12, 1912]

The Master gave many such eloquent responses to the reporter’s questions and ended with a discussion about the rights of women, the discouragement of polygamy and other social ills.

As ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had been mentioned in the newspapers as ‘The Prophet of the East’, He said to the correspondent, ‘I am not a prophet; I am a servant of God. My name is ‘Abdu’l-Bahá [the servant of Bahá’]. Although the Master disclaimed the station of a Prophet, many newspapers, in describing His many qualities and attributes, continued to refer to Him as the ‘Prophet of the East’ and the ‘Messenger of Peace’.

After He had revealed several Tablets in honor of some of the assemblies in America and had given instructions regarding the arrangement of meetings, He granted an audience to other representatives of the press who had earlier telephoned asking permission for an interview. He spoke at length about the unity of the principles of religions, the necessity for universal peace, the importance of a spiritual civilization, as well as the importance of education and the progress of women. The reporters took down all of His statements and published them in the newspapers. Representatives from other magazines and journals took more photographs of the Master and printed them in their publications. As a result, there were continuous calls requesting public and private meetings with Him. 5

  1. Menon, Jonathan. “‘Abdu’l-Bahá: New Yorker.” 239 Days in America, April 12, 2012. https://239days.com/2012/04/12/friday-afternoon-in-the-city/.
  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, 4. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/2#169029459.
  3. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 18.
  4. Ibid, 4. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/2#169029459.
  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#section18