239 Days in America, Day 164: September 21, 1912 | Omaha

‘Abdu’l-Bahá Calls On the “Great Commoner” 1

THE GRITTY CRUNCH OF the dirt road gave way to a rhythmic humming from the smooth bricks that paved the long driveway. Their tiny vibrations traveled along the axles of the rented automobile, through its iron chassis, and into the seat cushion on which ‘Abdu’l-Bahá sat. Trees lined the drive on either side, and at the top of the hill a mansion made of soft-toned red brick looked down across rolling countryside to the thickly wooded valley of nearby Antelope Creek. Fairview, the home of Mr. and Mrs. William Jennings Bryan, stood three miles south of Lincoln, Nebraska. It was the afternoon of Monday, September 23, 1912.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá had taken the train from Omaha to Lincoln, the capital of the state, to return the courtesy of Bryan’s visit to ‘Akká six and a half years earlier. “We called on Abbas Effendi as we were leaving Palestine,” Bryan had written from Vienna on June 5, 1906, in an article for the Chicago Daily News. He was traveling the lands of the Ottoman Empire and had stopped to visit ‘Abdu’l-Bahá who was still a prisoner in ‘Akká.

“The Great Commoner,” as William Jennings Bryan was known at home in America, had not been impressed with Sultan ‘Abdu’l-Hamíd II and the bureaucracy he ran. “The government of the sultan is the worst on earth,” he wrote. “It is more despotic than the Russian government ever was and adds corruption to despotism. . . . The sultan still rules by his arbitrary will, taking life or granting favor according to his pleasure. He lives in constant fear of assassination and yet he does not seem to have learned that his own happiness, as well as justice to the people, demands that the government shall rest upon the will of the governed.”

He found ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, whose teachings he likened to Tolstoy’s minus the strict pacifism, to be a welcome voice of reform. “How much he may be able to do in the way of eliminating the objectionable features of Mohammedanism no one can say,” Bryan thought, “but it is a hopeful sign that there is . . . an organized effort to raise the plane of discussion from brute force to an appeal to intelligence.”

Minnesota, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah 2

The next morning, September 21, as they were having tea in the room, they read the news of the first Balkan War. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá observed, “‘Our war is the best of all. We conquer all. At the time a crown of thorns was placed on the head of the Christ, He saw the crowns of kings under His feet. Now I see all the powers and nations vanquished and lost in the desert while the Cause of God is victorious over all. The divine Manifestations see with their eyes all the coming events of the world.’”

Saturday, September 21, 1912 3

In the morning, as we were having tea served by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the latest news from the Balkan war was relayed to Him. He commented, in part:

“Our own ‘war’ is good because it conquers all. When a crown of thorns was placed on the head of Christ, He saw with His own eyes the crowns of kings under His feet. Now, when I look, I see all the powers and nations defeated, scattered and lost in the wilderness while the Cause of God is victorious over all and subdues all. All future events are evident and visible to the eyes of the holy Manifestations.”

He illustrated this by narrating the historical events from the digging of ditches to the victory of Islam over the treasuries of Anushírván and Khusraw. The hypocrites, who disbelieved in the promises of Muhammad in their hearts, saw these victories and cried out: ‘This is that which God and His Messenger have promised us.’

The translation of an article regarding universal peace was read to the Master. He said:

“If the republics of the Americas assembled and agreed on the question of peace, and if all of them would turn to the [Peace] Assembly at the Hague, most of the powers of Europe would follow suit. But looking at it from another point of view, if an international war breaks out in Europe, international peace will be established more quickly. Also, if these ideas regarding peace spread among the public, the financiers will refuse to give loans for wars and the manufacture of armaments, the railway companies will abstain from transporting instruments of destruction and the armed forces will not engage in carnage and the spilling of blood. Also the boundaries should be established.”

Later the Master was interviewed by two journalists and spoke to them about the pernicious attitudes of politicians, the destructiveness of war, the validity of the divine teachings regarding universal peace, the unity of religions and the oneness of mankind.

In one of the Tablets revealed by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in honor of a friend in Mázindarán, these words were recorded:

“The light of Bahá’u’lláh has shone to such a degree on the continent of America that in every city where a number of believers reside, the call of ‘Yá Bahá’u’l-Abhá’ has been raised. In great churches and meetings ‘Abdu’l-Bahá cries out and proves the truth of the Prophet of God [Muhammad] and of the Báb and of the rising sun of Bahá’u’lláh. Most of the newspapers express praise in glowing articles. Where are the Persians, that they may behold the splendors of the Luminary of the World [Bahá’u’lláh] Whose light has shone forth from the horizon of Mount Awrang and now illumines the mountains and plains of America? In spite of all this, the people of Núr are still asleep and do not know what an honor has been showered upon that region.”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá had soup prepared especially for Him for lunch. The Master instructed us to have lunch at the hotel. In the afternoon after tea, the Master left for Lincoln to visit Mr [William Jennings] Bryan, the [future] Secretary of State of the United States, and said:

“During Mr and Mrs Bryan’s last visit to Haifa, we were, while in ‘Akká, in great danger, and the enemies were rebellious and increasingly perverse in those last days, thus he was unable to see us. So now we are going to see him.”

The train had left just as the Master reached the station. He decided to wait for the next train. A few minutes later, a man who had seen our Persian dress and kuláhs came to us and said, ‘We received a telegram from the friends in Minneapolis and have been looking for ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.’ He immediately ran to give the news to the other friends and brought them to Him. They were extremely grateful that He had not left by the first train. The Master spoke to them about the major calamities that had befallen the Cause of God, saying:

“Up to now, whatever has occurred has had the effect of spreading the Cause of God. When the Blessed Beauty left Tihrán and when He departed from Baghdád for the Holy Land, it was so devastating that the friends shed tears of blood. Now it has become evident what mysteries were concealed in that event and what victories lay in store; even the prophecies of the holy books regarding the Holy Land and the promised Manifestation were fulfilled through that banishment.”

A professor who had heard of some of the principles of the Bahá’í Cause was very happy and grateful to have visited the Master. At midnight the Master left Omaha and three hours later arrived in Lincoln.

20 September 1912, Talk at Home of Mr. Albert L. Hall, 2030 Queen Avenue South, Minneapolis, Minnesota 4

The great question appertaining to humanity is religion. The first condition is that man must intelligently investigate its foundations. The second condition is that he must admit and acknowledge the oneness of the world of humanity. By this means the attainment of true fellowship among mankind is assured, and the alienation of races and individuals is prevented. All must be considered the servants of God; all must recognize God as the one kind Protector and Creator. In proportion to the acknowledgment of the oneness and solidarity of mankind, fellowship is possible, misunderstandings will be removed and reality become apparent. Then will the light of reality shine forth, and when reality illumines the world, the happiness of humankind will become a verity. Man must spiritually perceive that religion has been intended by God to be the means of grace, the source of life and cause of agreement. If it becomes the cause of discord, enmity and hatred, it is better that man should be without it. For in its teachings we seek the spirit of charity and love to bind the hearts of men together. If, on the contrary, we find it alienates and embitters human hearts, we are justified in casting it aside. Therefore, when man through sincere investigation discovers the fundamental reality of religion, his former prejudices disappear, and his new condition of enlightenment is conducive to the development of the world of humanity.

The purport of our subject is that, just as man is in need of outward education, he is likewise in need of ideal refinement; just as the outer sense of sight is necessary to him, he should also possess insight and conscious perception; as he needs hearing, at the same time memory is essential; as a body is indispensable to him, likewise a mind is requisite; one is a material virtue, the other is ideal. As human creatures fitted and qualified with this dual endowment, we must endeavor through the assistance and grace of God and by the exercise of our ideal power of intellect to attain all lofty virtues, that we may witness the effulgence of the Sun of Reality, reflect the spirit of the Kingdom, behold the manifest evidences of the reality of Divinity, comprehend irrefutable proofs of the immortality of the soul, live in conscious atonement with the eternal world and become quickened and awake with the life and love of God.

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

“All future events are evident and visible to the eyes of the holy Manifestations.”

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

September 21, 1912


  1. Menon, Jonathan. “‘Abdu’l-Bahá Calls On the “Great Commoner”.” 239 Days in America, 21 Sept. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/09/21/abdul-baha-calls-on-the-great-commoner/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 151.
  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#section181
  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, 327-328. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/24#927538974

239 Days in America, Day 163: September 20, 1912 | Minneapolis

Thinking for Yourself 1

“IF YOU SHOULD ASK a thousand persons, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá told his audience, ‘What are the proofs of the reality of Divinity?’ perhaps not one would be able to answer.”

On September 20, 1912, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, at the home of Albert Hall, a lawyer known for his defense of the poor, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá asked a number of rhetorical questions about spiritual reality: “What proofs have you regarding the essence of God?” he asked; “How do you explain inspiration and revelation?”; “What are the evidences of conscious intelligence beyond the material universe?”; “Can you suggest a plan and method for the betterment of human moralities?”; “Can you clearly define and differentiate the world of nature and the world of Divinity?” It is not hard to imagine, as ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had said on September 20, that “you would receive very little real knowledge and enlightenment upon these questions” if you asked them. material virtues. Civilization is the sign and evidence of this progression.”

Minnesota, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah 2

‘Abdu’l-Bahá left Minneapolis on Friday, September 20, seeing Dr. [Clement] Woolson again when the train stopped in St. Paul.

During the trip to Omaha ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said:

“A man fully learned, deeply attracted and wholly severed like some of the first Persian teachers is required for these American countries. The Cause of God must find a solid foundation. … Then the confirmations of the Kingdom of Abhá will envelop these nations and a resurrection will be set up. Up to the present time it has not reached the mark I desire. It rests wholly on the confirmations of the Kingdom of Abhá and on the sanctified souls among the friends. God is my witness! If a person draws only one breath in a state of compete severance, it will bear fruits whether it be after a thousand years.”

It was late at night when ‘Abdu’l-Bahá reached Omaha, and He went immediately to the hotel.

Friday, September 20, 1912 3

Today we departed from Minneapolis. In the morning friends and seekers surrounded ‘Abdu’l-Bahá like moths. He spoke to them in these words:

“You must have deep love for one another. Go to see each other and be consoling friends to all. If a friend lives a little distance from the town, go to see him. Do not content yourselves with words only but act according to the commandments of God. Hold weekly meetings and give feasts. Put forth your efforts to acquire spiritual perfections and to spread the knowledge of God. These are the attributes of the Bahá’ís. Otherwise, what use is there in being a Bahá’í in word alone.”

At 8:00 a.m., after packing the parcels to be sent to the East, the Master left the hotel for the train station. The assembled friends were sad and dejected owing to His departure from their midst. He consoled them until the train left the station, saying:

“I shall never forget you. You are always in my mind. Convey to all the friends my kind regards. I love all. I exhort you to be kind to the poor and love them. Help them, for the poor are broken-hearted. If you sacrifice yourself for the rich, they think you do it because you are obliged to. But if you love the poor, they feel joy and are sincerely grateful. To help the poor is essential. May you be under the protection of God.”

When the train reached St Paul station, Dr Woolson came to say goodbye and received the Master’s blessing. He was showered with bounty.

On the way ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spoke about teaching the Cause of God in America and remarked:

In this country it is essential to have teachers who are attracted, wholly severed and learned like some of the self-sacrificing Persian teachers. The Cause of God must become firmly established in these regions. The teachers must move continually, one after another, from one place to another to raise the divine call. Then will the confirmations of the Abhá Kingdom envelop these nations and wonders will be achieved. This desire of mine has not yet come about. It depends on the confirmations of the all-glorious Kingdom and on the sanctified breaths of the friends. The one true God is my witness! If a person draws only one pure breath in a state of severance, it will be effective for a thousand years.

Later He related many stores about the days in Baghdád. In the afternoon He spoke about Mr [Edward Granville] Browne and said:

I wrote to him, saying, ‘You are the first European teacher and author to have attained His Blessed Presence. Do not lose this distinction.’ He did not understand me and his loss will be known when the lights of guidance shine in England with supreme brilliancy.

Two hours after midnight the train reached Omaha. As the Master was extremely tired, as soon as He arrived at the hotel He retired immediately, without eating.

20 September 1912, Talk at Home of Mr. Albert L. Hall, 2030 Queen Avenue South, Minneapolis, Minnesota 4

Philosophy is of two kinds: natural and divine. Natural philosophy seeks knowledge of physical verities and explains material phenomena, whereas divine philosophy deals with ideal verities and phenomena of the spirit. The field and scope of natural philosophy have been greatly enlarged, and its accomplishments are most praiseworthy, for it has served humanity. But according to the evidence of present world conditions divine philosophy—which has for its object the sublimation of human nature, spiritual advancement, heavenly guidance for the development of the human race, attainment to the breaths of the Holy Spirit and knowledge of the verities of God—has been outdistanced and neglected. Now is the time for us to make an effort and enable it to advance apace with the philosophy of material investigation so that awakening of the ideal virtues may progress equally with the unfoldment of the natural powers. In the same proportion that the body of man is developing, the spirit of man must be strengthened; and just as his outer perceptions have been quickened, his inner intellectual powers must be sensitized so that he need not rely wholly upon tradition and human precedent. In divine questions we must not depend entirely upon the heritage of tradition and former human experience; nay, rather, we must exercise reason, analyze and logically examine the facts presented so that confidence will be inspired and faith attained. Then and then only the reality of things will be revealed to us. The philosophers of Greece—such as Aristotle, Socrates, Plato and others—were devoted to the investigation of both natural and spiritual phenomena. In their schools of teaching they discoursed upon the world of nature as well as the supernatural world. Today the philosophy and logic of Aristotle are known throughout the world. Because they were interested in both natural and divine philosophy, furthering the development of the physical world of mankind as well as the intellectual, they rendered praiseworthy service to humanity. This was the reason of the triumph and survival of their teachings and principles. Man should continue both these lines of research and investigation so that all the human virtues, outer and inner, may become possible. The attainment of these virtues, both material and ideal, is conditioned upon intelligent investigation of reality, by which investigation the sublimity of man and his intellectual progress is accomplished. Forms must be set aside and renounced; reality must be sought. We must discover for ourselves where and what reality is. In religious beliefs nations and peoples today are imitators of ancestors and forefathers. If a man’s father was a Christian, he himself is a Christian; a Buddhist is the son of a Buddhist, a Zoroastrian of a Zoroastrian. A gentile or an idolator follows the religious footsteps of his father and ancestry. This is absolute imitation. The requirement in this day is that man must independently and impartially investigate every form of reality.

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

“Put forth your efforts to acquire spiritual perfections and to spread the knowledge of God.”

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

September 20, 1912


  1. Jones, Caitlin Shayda. “Thinking for Yourself.” 239 Days in America, 20 Sept. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/09/20/using-reason-to-prove-divinity/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 150-151.
  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#section180
  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, 326-327. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/24#852349855

239 Days in America, Day 151: September 08, 1912 | Montreal

‘Abdu’l-Bahá Bids Farewell to Montreal 1

SEPTEMBER 8, 1912, WAS a wet Sunday and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spent his last day in Montreal at his hotel, saying farewell to the Maxwells and other Montreal friends and well-wishers. After a similar period of time, I, too am bidding farewell to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Montreal. If there was one overarching message I got from covering the week, it was his emphasis on the need for humanity to undergo a wholesale transformation.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá saw with clarity that Europe was headed towards an “appalling war,” and that economic injustice would lead to labor unrest on an unimagined scale. He defined the underlying spiritual principles of economic ills, international conflict, gender inequality and domestic poverty. His novel concepts defied conventional categories, yet were taken seriously by the mainstream media that could have all too easily represented him as a foreigner with exotic ideas.

During his time in Montreal, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá met with the leading members of society, including the Archbishop of Montreal and the principal of McGill University, as well as ministers, rabbis, labor leaders and wealthy merchants. But he was not on what one might today call a profile-raising public relations tour. He was in Montreal to enunciate his father’s teachings, and to boldly invite social leaders to help actualize them. “Would you not like to serve such an ideal?” he said to a group of McGill professors.

Montreal 2

Abdu’l-Bahá had taught and exhorted and given of Himself during ten days of ceaseless activity in Montreal. On September 8, His last full day with the friends, He said, “‘I have sown the seed. Now water it. You must educate the souls in divine morals, make them spiritual, and lead them to the oneness of humanity and to universal peace.’”

Sunday, September 8, 1912 3

In the afternoon He [‘Abdu’l-Bahá] gave an account of His imprisonment in the Most Great Prison and of His return to the Holy Land. Someone suggested that His return to ‘Akká might bring trouble to Him and again cause His imprisonment. ‘Oh no,’ He replied,

“that organization has been rolled up; that system has been rendered null. Those days were so hard that all had believed that when the Commission of Investigation returned to Constantinople ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s life and name would be effaced. But God did not will it. As we were imprisoned for the Cause of God and not for political reasons, while in prison we were not perturbed and had no worries. However, the others thought that after I was set free I would raise the banner of independence among the Arabs and unite them with me! See, how ill-informed was such a judgment!”

As this was the last day of His stay in Montreal, all the friends, both old and new, expressed their sorrow. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá consoled them with the glad tidings of certitude, spiritual nearness, assistance and heavenly grace.

5 September 1912, Talk at St. James Methodist Church, Montreal, Canada 4

… In order that human souls, minds and spirits may attain advancement, tranquillity and vision in broader horizons of unity and knowledge, Bahá’u’lláh proclaimed certain principles or teachings, some of which I will mention.

First, man must independently investigate reality …

Second, the oneness of the world of humanity shall be realized, accepted and established. …

Third, religion must be the mainspring and source of love in the world, for religion is the revelation of the will of God, the divine fundamental of which is love. Therefore, if religion should prove to be the cause of enmity and hatred instead of love, its absence is preferable to its existence.

Fourth, religion must reconcile and be in harmony with science and reason. If the religious beliefs of mankind are contrary to science and opposed to reason, they are none other than superstitions and without divine authority, for the Lord God has endowed man with the faculty of reason in order that through its exercise he may arrive at the verities of existence. Reason is the discoverer of the realities of things, and that which conflicts with its conclusions is the product of human fancy and imagination.

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

“I have sown the seed … You must water it.”

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

September 8, 1912


  1. Michel, Tony. “‘Abdu’l-Bahá Bids Farewell to Montreal.” 239 Days in America, 8 Sept. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/09/08/abdul-baha-bids-farewell-to-montreal/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 137.
  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#section168
  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, 315-316. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/22#356279711

239 Days in America, Day 148: September 05, 1912 | Montreal

Principles for a Modern Religion 1

IT WAS A DRY and warm evening; a necessary break from the three days of steady Montreal rain. On September 5, 1912, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá gave a talk at St. James Methodist Church, located on the north side of rue Sainte-Catherine and west of de Bleury. The church was called the “Westminster Abbey of Canada,” due to its Gothic Revival architecture and large, circular window of tracery. In contrast to its old-world design, an electric illumined sign outside the church read: “This evening the Prophet of the East will speak on the principles of the Bahá’í Faith and the salvation of the world of humanity.” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s talk would similarly address a convergence of the old and the new.

“So people are calling me a prophet,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said, when he saw the sign as he approached the church, and the meaning of it was translated for him. “Oh, would that they had omitted that word!” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s talk that night would clarify the matter: his father, Bahá’u’lláh, was the prophet. Bahá’u’lláh appointed his son to interpret and clarify his teachings after his passing.

Montreal 2

On September 5, the Bishop in Montreal visited ’Abdu’l-Bahá to express his pleasure at the meetings being held and his gratitude for “the address concerning the purpose of the Manifestation of Christ and the other holy Manifestations.” ’Abdu’l-Bahá said, “’Tonight I shall speak in the Methodist Church. You may come if you wish.’”

Thursday, September 5, 1912 3

The Bishop of Montreal came to visit the Master to express his admiration and gratitude for the Master’s address concerning the purpose of the appearance of Christ and the other Manifestations. He was pleased to learn about other meetings and talks. The Master said to him, ‘Tonight I shall speak at the Methodist church. You may come if you wish.’

The editor of an illustrated Toronto magazine was announced. He happily recorded a detailed account of the history and teachings of the Cause. Another visitor was a Jewish rabbi who became very enthusiastic when he heard the Master’s explanations.

One of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s talks today was this:

“The degree to which these different denominations testify to the greatness of the Cause of God has never been seen in past history. Even socialists say that although so many philosophers have written books on economic questions, the Bahá’í Cause has the solution.”

When we arrived at the Methodist Church in the evening, we saw an electric illumined sign reading: ‘This evening the Prophet of the East will speak on the principles of the Bahá’í Faith and the salvation of the world of humanity.’ When the translation of this announcement was read to the Master, He said, ‘So, people are calling me a prophet. Oh, would that they had omitted that word!’ In order to correct this impression, in the course of His address He emphasized His devotion to Bahá’u’lláh.’Abdu’l-Bahá went to the vestry where a number of ministers came to greet Him with such reverence and humility that it was really something to be seen. He then went into the auditorium and took a seat on the platform. The minister welcomed Him by motioning the audience to rise, which they immediately did to show their respect. The minister then made an introductory speech about the world’s apathy to the commandments of the Gospel and the urgent need for laws of peace and harmony among the peoples of the West. Finally he urged the audience to listen carefully to the address and the new teachings given by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.

The Master stood before the audience and spoke about the continuity of the Divine Bounties, the power and majesty of the Kingdom of God and these wonderful teachings. The audience was awakened to the Faith to such a degree that a judge named Mr Riger, who had previously heard of the Master and had come for the first time this evening to hear Him speak, stood and said, ‘Some have imagined that the succession of the Prophets and the bounties of God were limited. But tonight we have heard with our own ears these divinely ordained teachings from an Eastern prophet who is the successor of the Prophets of God. We will never forget his message. There is no doubt that these teachings of universal peace, the oneness of humanity and the distribution of wealth are in complete accord with the principles of economic law, the equality of rights and the adoption of one universal language. These are the basic principles for the progress of the world of humanity.’ The minister then stood and said, ‘It is an error to think that the West has attained perfection and that the East has no bounties or teachings to offer to the West. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has said many things which we have not heard before or understood.

The Master then chanted a prayer and publicly thanked the judge. Later, in the vestry, the clergymen were so deferential in His presence, they could not find words to express their gratitude. Of particular note was the judge, who repeatedly expressed his desire to become a Bahá’í.

Talk at St. James Methodist Church, Montreal, Canada 4

From time immemorial the divine teachings have been successively revealed, and the bounties of the Holy Spirit have ever been emanating. All the teachings are one reality, for reality is single and does not admit multiplicity. Therefore, the divine Prophets are one, inasmuch as They reveal the one reality, the Word of God. Abraham announced teachings founded upon reality, Moses proclaimed reality, Christ established reality and Bahá’u’lláh was the Messenger and Herald of reality. But humanity, having forsaken the one essential and fundamental reality which underlies the religion of God, and holding blindly to imitations of ancestral forms and interpretations of belief, is separated and divided in the strife, contention and bigotry of various sects and religious factions. If all should be true to the original reality of the Prophet and His teaching, the peoples and nations of the world would become unified, and these differences which cause separation would be lost sight of. To accomplish this great and needful unity in reality, Bahá’u’lláh appeared in the Orient and renewed the foundations of the divine teachings. His revelation of the Word embodies completely the teachings of all the Prophets, expressed in principles and precepts applicable to the needs and conditions of the modern world, amplified and adapted to present-day questions and critical human problems. That is to say, the words of Bahá’u’lláh are the essences of the words of the Prophets of the past. They are the very spirit of the age and the cause of the unity and illumination of the East and the West. The followers of His teachings are in conformity with the precepts and commands of all the former heavenly Messengers. Differences and dissensions, which destroy the foundations of the world of humanity and are contrary to the will and good pleasure of God, disappear completely in the light of the revelation of Bahá’u’lláh; difficult problems are solved, unity and love are established. For the good pleasure of God is the effulgence of love and the establishment of unity and fellowship in the human world, whereas discord, contention, warfare and strife are satanic outcomes and contrary to the will of the Merciful. In order that human souls, minds and spirits may attain advancement, tranquillity and vision in broader horizons of unity and knowledge, Bahá’u’lláh proclaimed certain principles or teachings, some of which I will mention.

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

The Bishop of Montreal, a Jewish rabbi, and the editor of an illustrated Toronto magazine came to visit the Master

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

September 5, 1912


  1. Jones, Caitlin Shayda. “Principles for a Modern Religion.” 239 Days in America, 5 Sept. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/09/05/the-modern-purpose-of-religion/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 136.
  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#section165
  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, 313-314. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/22#588901888

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 118: August 06, 1912 | Dublin

Socialism, Strikes, and Oscar Wilde 1

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

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

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

New Hampshire 2

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

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

Talk at Dublin Inn, Dublin, New Hampshire 3

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

Tuesday, August 6, 1912 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

August 6, 1912


  1. Menon, Morella. “Socialism, Strikes, and Oscar Wilde.” 239 Days in America, 6 Aug. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/08/06/socialism-strikes-and-oscar-wilde/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 121.
  3. ʻAbduʼl-Bahá. The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by ʻAbduʼl-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912. Edited by Howard MacNutt. 2nd ed. Wilmette, Ill: Baháʼí Publishing Trust, 1982, 250. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/18#978585559
  4. ’Abdu’l-Bahá, and Mirza Mahmud-i-Zarqani. Mahmúd’s Diary: The Diary of Mírzá Mahmúd-i-Zarqání Chronicling ’Abdu’l-Bahá’s Journey to America. Edited by Shirley Macias. Translated by Mohi Sobhani. Oxford: George Ronald, 1998. https://bahai-library.com/zarqani_mahmuds_diary&chapter=6#section135

239 Days in America, Day 111: July 30, 1912 | Dublin

George de Forest Brush, “Lover of Indians” 1

A FIRE BURNED IN a clearing a few steps from the house on Brush Farm. A chair tottered on top, as the flames licked its legs. It cracked and gently succumbed to the heat.

They never knew on Brush Farm when George de Forest Brush would go on a rampage through the house checking for furniture with lathe-turned legs, to see if it had been made by machine. If it was, then out it went to the bonfire. “No machinery can do joyful work,” he believed. “The really useful things,” he said, “are made ugly by machinery and only the few things of life are beautiful.”

Brush’s daughter, Nancy [Douglas Bowditch], wrote in her memoirs that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá asked Mrs. Parsons to explain Bahá’u’lláh to Brush. But ‘Abdu’l-Bahá also told her that Brush would laugh at her. Everything Agnes Parsons did was high Washington society, dressed to the nines, stiff and formal with her strong Southern accent. Here in Dublin folks were more relaxed, especially the easy-going artists.

Tuesday, July 30, 1912 2

Mírzá ‘Alí Akbar Nakhjavání remarked that the enthusiasm of the people was due to the power of the Covenant and the influence of the Master’s words. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá replied: ‘It is not due to my power but to my Father’s; it is all His work.’ Today He invited both Eastern and Western friends to be His guests. Some stayed in His house while others were given accommodation at the hotel located in the warmer climate at the bottom of the mountain. The guests came to the hotel every morning to visit Him. Meetings were held in the afternoon at the home of Mr and Mrs Parsons. The audience of prominent persons was fascinated by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and His qualities. Several people invited the Master to their homes.

In His talk in the afternoon at Mrs Parsons’s home He made clear that:

“Confirmation is not dependent on talent, knowledge or wisdom. Many unimportant persons have made significant discoveries. Many people labored for years to explore the North Pole but Admiral Peary reached it. One’s efforts should be focussed on the object of one’s quest. Because Columbus found confirmation, he discovered America with a minimum of difficulty. The disciples of Christ were apparently abased, yet they achieved something which Napoleon never did: they changed the whole aspect of the world. So it is evident that everything comes about through the assistance of God.”

Talk to Theosophical Society, The Kensington, Exeter and Boylston Streets, Boston, Massachusetts, 24 July 1912 3

How wonderful is the spirit of man! One of the mysteries of natural phenomena is electricity. Man has discovered this illimitable power and made it captive to his uses. How many of nature’s secrets have been penetrated and revealed! Columbus, while in Spain, discovered America. Man has accurately determined that the sun is stationary while the earth revolves about it. The animal cannot do this. Man perceives the mirage to be an illusion. This is beyond the power of the animal. The animal can only know through sense impressions and cannot grasp intellectual realities. The animal cannot conceive of the power of thought. This is an abstract intellectual matter and not limited to the senses. The animal is incapable of knowing that the earth is round. In brief, abstract intellectual phenomena are human powers. All creation below the kingdom of man is the captive of nature; it cannot deviate in the slightest degree from nature’s laws. But man wrests the sword of dominion from nature’s hand and uses it upon nature’s head. For example, it is a natural exigency that man should be a dweller upon the earth, but the power of the human spirit transcends this limitation, and he soars aloft in airplanes. This is contrary to the law and requirement of nature. He sails at high speed upon the ocean and dives beneath its surface in submarines. He imprisons the human voice in a phonograph and communicates in the twinkling of an eye from East to West. These are things we know to be contrary to the limitations of natural law. Man transcends nature, while the mineral, vegetable and animal are helplessly subject to it. This can be done only through the power of the spirit, because the spirit is the reality.

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

“Confirmation is not dependent on talent, knowledge or wisdom … everything comes about through the assistance of God.”

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

July 30, 1912


  1. Menon, Morella, and Jonathan Menon. “George de Forest Brush, ‘Lover of Indians.’” 239 Days in America, 30 July 2012, https://239days.com/2012/07/30/george-de-forest-brush-lover-of-indians/.
  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#section128
  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, 241. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/17#021884557

239 Days in America, Day 93: July 12, 1912 | New York

The Short and Fearless Life of Lua Getsinger 1

AT ABOUT MIDNIGHT ON December 8, 1898, dozens of pairs of eyes peered at Louisa Moore Getsinger through the darkness of a poorly-lighted coffee house near the beach where the ship had dropped them off. Lua was a long way from home: this was Haifa, an outpost of the Ottoman Empire on the shores of the Holy Land. A group of men sat cross-legged on the floor, sipping tea, and speaking Persian and Arabic. One of them nodded; the rest stared in amazement…

Everything was wrapped in secrecy so as not to arouse the suspicion of the authorities, because ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was still a prisoner under house arrest. The group of fifteen pilgrims had been instructed to arrive in the Holy Land in groups of two. Lua and her husband, Edward, were the first to arrive.

They waited almost two days before receiving permission to proceed to ‘Akká, a five-mile journey on horseback along the sandy edge of Haifa Bay. Lua later wrote of the “violent beating of my heart.” When she first laid eyes on ‘Abdu’l-Bahá she ran to him, threw herself at his feet, and cried like a child.

“Arise and be of good cheer!” she remembers ‘Abdu’l-Bahá saying. He wasn’t one for outbursts of devotion, not to mention people prostrating themselves at his feet. Lua would stay in the Holy Land for four months, learn to speak Persian, and listen as ‘Abdu’l-Bahá instilled in her the need for women to arise and do “great things.”

New York City 2

While He [‘Abdu’l-Bahá] had already proclaimed the Faith in Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and other places, it was in New York that He stayed day after day, deepening those who came to Him, preparing them to develop new inner eyes, ears, hearts, and minds, bringing together interracial gatherings, trying to get the friends to see the spiritual qualities of each other as a reality.

Thursday, July 12, 1912 3

As the heat was excessive and because He had been revealing Tablets and visiting with the friends, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was tired. We said that there was a bath in the house and that the Master could have His bath every day. He said: ‘We are like soldiers; we must not form any habits or have a care for anything.’

At another time He was asked how He liked the large buildings of America. He replied:

“I have not come to see very tall buildings or places of interest in America. I look always for the foundation of the love of God in the realm of the hearts. I have no inclination to see other sights.”

At a meeting with the friends in the afternoon He explained the uniqueness of the divine teachings of this great Cause. Among them are the establishment of the Covenant and the Expounder of the Book ’[Abdu’l-Bahá], thereby closing the door on the differences that have arisen at the inception of past Dispensations; association with all religions; the prohibition of cursing or execrating other sects; the commandment to forgive enemies; the oneness of humanity and universal brotherhood; the giving and taking in marriage from all nationalities; the injunctions to parents to educate their children, whether boys or girls; the equality of the rights of men and women; the establishment of the supreme House of Justice as the center of authority; and finally the relinquishing of religious, patriotic, racial and political prejudices. His talk was long and very detailed.

In the evening ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was invited to Brooklyn and we accompanied Him. On the way He spoke about New York’s large population and the occupations of the people:

“This city with its suburbs has about half the population of Persia. If Persia had a population and an affluence like this, and had she turned herself to progress, she would have far excelled this country in all respects. There can be no comparison whatsoever between these people and the manners, love, hospitality, intuition and sagacity of the Persians.”

He then described the days of the Blessed Beauty’s sojourn in Constantinople, the self-subsistence and grandeur of the Ancient Beauty and the testimony of Mírzá Husayn Khán, who had said in Tihrán that there was only one person, Bahá’u’lláh, who had been the cause of glory and exaltation of the Persians in foreign lands and who did not court anyone’s favor in that city.

After approximately an hour’s drive, the carriage stopped at the home of Mrs Newton and Mrs Rivers. After a short rest, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá went to the table for dinner. Afterwards, He thanked the hostesses, spoke briefly and then returned home. On the way back He spoke about the difference in time between the East and the West. ‘Here it is almost midnight’, He said, ‘while in the East it is midday and in other countries it is afternoon. Here we are going to sleep, while in the East they are busy doing work.’

While the carriage was in motion it felt less hot but the long distance and the exceedingly hot weather took their toll on ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. The carriage crossed the Hudson River, passing through the length of the city, which was bedecked with gas and electric lamps of red, yellow and green and colorful advertisements along its wide streets and in the shops. The light emanating from them threw a luster on the greatness of this mighty century. Then the carriage reached home.

Diary of Juliet Thompson, 12 July 1912 4

Percy [Stickney Grant] spent the morning with us, leaving us for a little while to return with bottles of ginger ale and grape juice which he mixed into a drink for us. When he finally left about noon I followed him out of the studio.

“What message have you,” I asked, “for the Master?”

He swore! It was a very mild swear, but he coupled the Master’s name with it, so I can’t repeat it.

“I believe you love Him,” he said fiercely, “more than anything on earth.”

“I do.”

“More than your art,” he added quickly.

“But of course.”

“Well, you shouldn’t. With your talent, Juliet, you could do immortal work. Do you never think of that?”

“I am thinking of His immortal work in us.”

“He has done it, in you!”

“Not yet.”

“Juliet, I have wanted to co-operate with Him. You know that. But I don’t believe He can do this thing alone.”

“I believe He is perfectly able to do it alone.”

“You do?”

“He changes the hearts and nobody else can do that. Well, what message shall I take to Him?”

“Tell Him with my greeting that I will come up some time to see Him, but I am out of town a great deal, most of the time, and–“

“Can’t you do any better than that?” I asked.

“I want to do something for His comfort and when Mr Flagler’s yacht comes back I want to take Him up the Hudson. I will be in town Friday, Juliet.”

“Then come up on Friday to see Him with me. Please come. You know I don’t often persist, but this time–forgive me if I do.”

“I think it is beautiful of you to persist in this instance, Juliet.” With the face of a martyr he kissed my hand. “I will come Friday.”

And, looking unspeakably miserable, he left me.

Talk at 309 West Seventy-eighth Street, New York, 5 July 1912 5

The divine Prophets are conjoined in the perfect state of love. Each One has given the glad tidings of His successor’s coming and each successor has sanctioned the One Who preceded Him. They were in the utmost unity, but Their followers are in strife. For instance, Moses gave the message of the glad tidings of Christ, and Christ confirmed the Prophethood of Moses. Therefore, between Moses and Jesus there is no variation or conflict. They are in perfect unity, but between the Jew and the Christian there is conflict. Now, therefore, if the Christian and Jewish peoples investigate the reality underlying their Prophets’ teachings, they will become kind in their attitude toward each other and associate in the utmost love, for reality is one and not dual or multiple. If this investigation of reality becomes universal, the divergent nations will ratify all the divine Prophets and confirm all the Holy Books. No strife or rancor will then remain, and the world will become united. Then will we associate in the reality of love. We will become as fathers and sons, as brothers and sisters living together in complete unity, love and happiness; for this century is the century of light. It is not like former centuries. Former centuries were epochs of oppression. Now human intellects have developed, and human intelligence has increased. Each soul is investigating reality. This is not a time when we shall wage war and be hostile toward each other. We are living at a time when we should enjoy real friendship.

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

‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s conversation with Reverend Percy Grant

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

July 12, 1912


  1. Sockett, Robert. “The Short and Fearless Life of Lua Getsinger.” 239 Days in America, 12 July 2012, https://239days.com/2012/07/12/lua-getsingers-odyssey/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 110.
  3. ’Abdu’l-Bahá, and Mirza Mahmud-i-Zarqani. Mahmúd’s Diary: The Diary of Mírzá Mahmúd-i-Zarqání Chronicling ’Abdu’l-Bahá’s Journey to America. Edited by Shirley Macias. Translated by Mohi Sobhani. Oxford: George Ronald, 1998. https://bahai-library.com/zarqani_mahmuds_diary&chapter=5#section110
  4. Thompson, Juliet. The Diary of Juliet Thompson. Edited by Marzieh Gail. 1st ed. 1947. Reprint, Los Angeles: Kalimát Press, 1983, 338-339. https://archive.org/details/diaryofjuliettho0000thom/page/338/mode/2up
  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, 222-223. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/16#846487127

239 Days in America, Day 86: July 05, 1912 | New York

The Lesson of the Titanic 1

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, who had been offered tickets on the Titanic, had spoken about the tragedy in Washington just as the Senate hearings began. “Although such an event is indeed regrettable,” he said, “we must realize that everything which happens is due to some wisdom.” He was consoled, he noted, “by the realization that the worlds of God are infinite . . .”

Like Senator [Isidor] Rayner, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá perceived a deeper meaning in the Titanic disaster. “We are living in a day of reliance upon material conditions,” he stated. “Men imagine that the great size and strength of a ship, the perfection of machinery or the skill of a navigator will ensure safety, but these disasters sometimes take place that men may know that God is the real Protector.”

Yet ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was also pragmatic. “Let no one imagine that these words imply that man should not be thorough and careful in his undertakings,” he said. “[H]e must provide and surround himself with all that scientific skill can produce. He must be deliberate, thoughtful and thorough in his purposes, build the best ship and provide the most experienced captain; yet, withal, let him rely upon God and consider God as the one Keeper.”

Friday, July 5, 1912 2

Some Tablets were revealed for friends in California, consoling them because of their separation from Him since He was not traveling to that state at the present time. Most of the friends on the West Coast of America had not yet had the honor to see Him. When they learned of His intention, they were saddened and sent telegrams begging Him to visit their state.

Today, at the invitation of Juliet Thompson, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá went to a museum near His house. On the first floor there were statues, figures of animals and a collection of relics of early American civilization. On observing these objects, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said, ‘From these things it appears that America had a great civilization in ancient times.’

In the evening, He spoke to a large number of friends and seekers at His home about detachment from physical desires and the attainment of everlasting life. Everyone was delighted.

5 July 1912, Talk at 309 West Seventy-eighth Street, New York 3

Consider to what a remarkable extent the spirituality of people has been overcome by materialism so that spiritual susceptibility seems to have vanished, divine civilization become decadent, and guidance and knowledge of God no longer remain. All are submerged in the sea of materialism. Although some attend churches and temples of worship and devotion, it is in accordance with the traditions and imitations of their fathers and not for the investigation of reality. For it is evident they have not found reality and are not engaged in its adoration. They are holding to certain imitations which have descended to them from their fathers and ancestors. They have become accustomed to passing a certain length of time in temple worship and conforming to imitations and ceremonies. The proof of this is that the son of every Jewish father becomes a Jew and not a Christian; the son of every Muslim becomes a follower of Islám; the son of every Christian proves to be a Christian; the son of every Zoroastrian is a Zoroastrian, etc. Therefore, religious faith and belief is merely a remnant of blind imitations which have descended through fathers and ancestors. Because this man’s father was a Jew, he considers himself a Jew. Not that he has investigated reality and proved satisfactorily to himself that Judaism is right—nay, rather, he is aware that his forefathers have followed this course; therefore, he has held to it himself.

The purpose of this is to explain that the darkness of imitations encompasses the world. Every nation is holding to its traditional religious forms. The light of reality is obscured. Were these various nations to investigate reality, there is no doubt they would attain to it. As reality is one, all nations would then become as one nation. So long as they adhere to various imitations and are deprived of reality, strife and warfare will continue and rancor and sedition prevail. If they investigate reality, neither enmity nor rancor will remain, and they will attain to the utmost concord among themselves.

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

Revealing Tablets for believers in California

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

July 05, 1912


  1. Sockett, Robert. “The Lesson of the Titanic.” 239 Days in America, 5 July 2012, https://239days.com/2012/07/05/the-lesson-of-the-titanic/.
  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#section103
  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, 221. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/16#695281489

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

Militarizing Human Ingenuity 1

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

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

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

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

New Jersey: The Unity Feast 5

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

Thursday, June 27, 1912 6

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

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

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

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

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

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

Again, He said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

June 27, 1912


  1. Sockett, Robert. “Militarizing Human Ingenuity.” 239 Days in America, 27 June 2012, https://239days.com/2012/06/27/militarizing-human-ingenuity/.
  2. ʻAbduʼl-Bahá. The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by ʻAbduʼl-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912. Edited by Howard MacNutt. 2nd ed. Wilmette, Ill: Baháʼí Publishing Trust, 1982, 144. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/10#975098386
  3. Ibid, 17. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/2#123097438
  4. Ibid, 12. [https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/15#557843750]
  5. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 100.
  6. ’Abdu’l-Bahá, and Mirza Mahmud-i-Zarqani. Mahmúd’s Diary: The Diary of Mírzá Mahmúd-i-Zarqání Chronicling ’Abdu’l-Bahá’s Journey to America. Edited by Shirley Macias. Translated by Mohi Sobhani. Oxford: George Ronald, 1998. https://bahai-library.com/zarqani_mahmuds_diary&chapter=4#section95
  7. The Promulgation of Universal Peace, 20-21. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/2#771269637
  8. Ibid, 22. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/2#575673545