239 Days in America, Day 233: November 29, 1912 | New York

New York: The Melting Pot on the Hudson: 1912-2012 1

Just as ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had spoken of the need for an international council with a mandate for peace, an early version of it emerged, making an unlikely neighborhood in New York City its headquarters. In 1912, down 43rd Street in Turtle Bay, slaughterhouses, packing sheds, cattle pens, and noisy railroad piers lined the banks of the East River. By the 1920s fashionable townhouses had taken over, and a large communal garden ran through the backyards of the homes on 48th and 49th Streets. When the United Nations was formed after World War II, its Modernist headquarters rose in Turtle Bay between 1949 and 1952, replacing six blocks of slaughterhouses. Today, on clear mornings, the sunrise reincarnates itself in the UN Secretariat’s glass facing, bathing the passersby on the East River in a wash of gold.

“I am greatly pleased with the city of New York,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said on his first day in America, “Its harbor entrance, its piers, buildings and broad avenues are magnificent and beautiful.” But he had an admonition. “As New York has made such progress in material civilization, I hope that it may also advance spiritually. . . .” Spiritual civilization is not as easy to see as material. It requires perception and the ability to look beyond outward appearances, to the selfless acts of millions of people that are often forgotten by history.

But just as ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had stood up for women’s emancipation as he pulled into New York harbor, seated an African American lawyer at the head of his table in Washington, argued for peace to an arms dealer, spent the week with a former convict, wiped away the tears of a reverend, met with children, servants, students, government officials and crowds in the thousands, he expended his energy to the utmost, planting the seeds of what he called a spiritual civilization. “This timely seed,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá told an audience on April 12, “when planted in the hearts of the beloved of God, will be watered by showers of divine mercy and warmed by the sunshine of divine love. Its fruitage and flower shall be the solidarity of mankind, the perfection of justice and the praiseworthy attributes of heaven manifest in humanity.”

Final Days in America: New York City 2

On Friday, November 29, He moved to the Emery home. In an evening meeting at the Kinneys’, He spoke with the friends about their offers of money. He said, “‘Distribute it among the poor from Me. It will be as if I have given it to them. The most acceptable offering to Me is the unity among friends, service to the Cause of God, diffusing the Divine Fragrances, and acting upon the admonitions of the Beauty of Abhá.’”

Friday, November 29, 1912 3

At the request of Mrs Emery, the Master moved to her home. The time of His departure was drawing near. On reaching the house, He said, ‘Today I must rest for I am extremely tired.’ Nevertheless, the friends and seekers continued to come to visit Him at the homes of Mrs Emery and Mrs Kinney. One of His discourses today was this:

“One of the bounties of religion and faith is the attainment of peace of the heart and soul and the joy of spirit and conscience. This station can only be gained through faith and understanding. Peace of mind is the soul’s delight, as it is the means of acquiring that extraordinary state in which man finds happiness in times of affliction and tranquillity in trouble. In spite of poverty he acquires a sense of affluence and in a state of riches and power he offers help and protection to the weak because the well-assured soul is like a tree which has strong roots and is not shaken by any event. This cannot be attained except through complete faith and understanding. How many are the people who have all means of comfort, luxury, security and wealth and every means of enjoyment and good living, yet they have no peace of mind and are ever anxious and uneasy! If outwardly they are happy one day, they become depressed and anxious the next. If they find physical rest at one moment, they face suffering and misfortune the next, until the time comes to leave this world, then they will do so with utmost regret and distress.

“But those who have faith in God act according to the divine teachings; even though they need a little food to survive, they will pass their lives in the utmost happiness and joy. This is one of the bounties of religion; this is eternal happiness, life everlasting and real affluence. Without this all riches lead to woe and all power and strength are the cause of hardship and affliction. Therefore, offer praise unto God that you are endowed with this imperishable wealth and have attained this supreme blessing.”

Today some of the friends offered money to the Master but He would not accept it despite their pleading. Instead He told them, ‘Distribute it among the poor on my behalf. It will be as though I have given it to them. But the most acceptable gift to me is the unity of the believers, service to the Cause of God, diffusion of the divine fragrances and adherence to the counsels of the Abhá Beauty.’

The believers were saddened because He did not accept their gifts. However, since these were the last days of His visit and He was about to leave, the New York Bahá’ís collected several gifts for the women of the holy household and for the Greatest Holy Leaf.

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

This evening I wish to speak to you concerning the mystery of sacrifice. There are two kinds of sacrifice: the physical and the spiritual. The explanation made by the churches concerning this subject is, in reality, superstition. For instance, it is recorded in the Gospel that Christ said, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever.” He also said, “This [wine] is my blood … which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” These verses have been interpreted by the churches in such a superstitious way that it is impossible for human reason to understand or accept the explanation.

They say that Adam disobeyed the command of God and partook of the fruit of the forbidden tree, thereby committing a sin which was transmitted as a heritage to His posterity. They teach that because of Adam’s sin all His descendants have, likewise, committed transgression and have become responsible through inheritance; that, consequently, all mankind deserves punishment and must make retribution; and that God sent forth His Son as a sacrifice in order that man might be forgiven and the human race delivered from the consequences of Adam’s transgression.

We wish to consider these statements from the standpoint of reason. Could we conceive of the Divinity, Who is Justice itself, inflicting punishment upon the posterity of Adam for Adam’s own sin and disobedience? Even if we should see a governor, an earthly ruler punishing a son for the wrongdoing of his father, we would look upon that ruler as an unjust man. Granted the father committed a wrong, what was the wrong committed by the son? There is no connection between the two. Adam’s sin was not the sin of His posterity, especially as Adam is a thousand generations back of the man today. If the father of a thousand generations committed a sin, is it just to demand that the present generation should suffer the consequences thereof?

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

‘Abdu’l-Bahá accepted an invitation to stay at the home of a believer

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

November 29, 1912


  1. Jones, Caitlin Shayda. “New York: The Melting Pot on the Hudson: 1912-2012.” 239 Days in America, 29 Nov. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/11/29/new-york-the-melting-pot-on-the-hudson/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 189-190.
  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#section251
  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. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/33#112906790

239 Days in America, Day 230: November 26, 1912 | New York

“We Want a Wilson Peace”: 1919-2012 1

ONE MONTH AFTER THE war ended, the USS George Washington, escorted by a flotilla of ten American battleships and twenty-eight destroyers, approached the coast of Brittany in northwestern France. It carried the American delegation to the Paris Peace Conference led by President Woodrow Wilson. …

The meeting in Paris, which ran from January to June, 1919, appeared to be very much like the global conference ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, following his father’s lead, had argued for almost forty-five years earlier. In 1875, shortly after the end of the Franco-Prussian War, which had slaughtered 600,000 men and led directly to the World War, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá castigated the European states who had permitted such a catastrophe to break out on their so-called civilized continent. “Is it right and proper that peoples among whom, diametrically opposed to the most desirable human behavior, such horrors take place, should dare lay claim to a real and adequate civilization?” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá asked. “No, by the Lord God! Even a child can see the evil of it.”

“True civilization will unfurl its banner in the midmost heart of the world,” he wrote in The Secret of Divine Civilization, “whenever a certain number of its distinguished and high-minded sovereigns — the shining exemplars of devotion and determination — shall, for the good and happiness of all mankind, arise, with firm resolve and clear vision, to establish the Cause of Universal Peace. They must make the Cause of Peace the object of general consultation, and seek by every means in their power to establish a Union of the nations of the world.” …

The core of Woodrow Wilson’s peace proposal seemed to be just that: a new, permanent international governance organization called the “League of Nations.”…

In the end, even the watered-down League of Nations — no coercive power, its hands tied by the requirement of unanimous agreement — could not pass the Republican-controlled United States Senate. …

The legacy of the Paris Peace Conference, both the triumphant and the tragic, continues to this day.

Final Days in America: New York City 2

On November 26 the New York Tribune reported:

“Mrs. Mary Stokes MacNutt, President of Minerva, and Mr. MacNutt were a happy pair yesterday, for they got Abdul Baha, of Persia, to speak at the club’s annual luncheon at the Waldorf-Astoria.

“… he came … looking as if he had on the same white turban and the same long gown that he wore when he landed here from Persia last April. His face was just as peaceful as it was then, too … and he didn’t seem the least but touched by his seven months in America. …”

Tuesday, November 26, 1912 3

In the morning, after revealing Tablets and granting interviews, the Master joined the gathering of the friends with these words:

“I always derive great pleasure from being with you. I shall always remember these gatherings. I shall never forget them. If I cannot see each one of you individually every day that should not undermine our real love. See how much work I have to do! It is more than a week since I received this letter from my sister, the Greatest Holy Leaf [Bahíyyih Khánum], and other members of the household, but I have not had the opportunity to open it yet. I was looking for another letter when I came upon this unopened letter. Then I heard that you were waiting here and I came downstairs to see you because I have no time to see you individually. In spite of this, if anyone has an urgent matter I will see them privately, even if only for a few minutes. Had I time I would always be with you. My happiness lies in seeing you, for in your faces are apparent the glad tidings of the Abhá Kingdom and in your hearts heavenly love and attraction. If outwardly we fail to meet, it does not weaken our real love. God willing, you shall all be assisted and immersed in the sea of bounty and the favor of Bahá’u’lláh.”

In the afternoon at a meeting of the friends, the Master turned towards Mrs [Grace] Krug and said:

“A believer in Bahá’u’lláh is he who is firm in the Covenant. He who is firm in the divine Covenant is a believer, a servant of the believers, a seeker of Bahá’í harmony and unity and a promoter of fellowship and amity among the friends of God. Is it possible that one can accept a book and refuse to accept him who teaches it? Is it possible to accept the sun and to reject its rays? He who rejects the rays is a rejector of the sun, too.

“Furthermore, many say, ‘We have no need of divine Manifestations; we ourselves have direct communication with God.’ They do not know that the divine Manifestations are the bright rays of the Sun of Truth and a means of educating the realities of man. Therefore, he who rejects the bounty of the Sun of Truth and thinks himself not in need of it is like the one who says he is not in need of God and rejects both God and reality, in spite of the fact that all creation is receiving incessant bounty from God and is dependent on Him, as the body is dependent upon the soul.”

In the evening the Master spoke to the gathering on man’s ability to understand the reality of certain things using his intelligence because man’s intelligence is the discoverer of reality. For instance, through the process of reasoning, intelligence can comprehend the existence of God and understand that this magnificent universe cannot exist without a Creator. These works are not without a Maker and this garden of creation cannot exist without a Gardener.

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

The effect of such an assembly as this is conducive to divine fellowship and strengthening of the bond which cements and unifies hearts. This is the indestructible bond of spirit which conjoins the East and West. By it the very foundations of race prejudice are uprooted and destroyed, the banner of spiritual democracy is hoisted aloft, the world of religion is purified from superannuated beliefs and hereditary imitations of forms, and the oneness of the reality underlying all religions is revealed and disclosed.

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

“My happiness lies in seeing you, for in your faces are apparent the glad tidings of the Abha Kingdom …”

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

November 26, 1912


  1. Menon, Jonathan. “‘We Want a Wilson Peace’: 1919-2012.” 239 Days in America, 26 Nov. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/11/26/we-want-a-wilson-peace-1919-2012/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 188-189.
  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#section248
  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, 447-448. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/32#955162073

239 Days in America, Day 213: November 09, 1912 | Washington, D.C.

Challenging Washington’s Oldest Jewish Congregation 1

ON THE EVENING OF November 8, 1912, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá addressed the Washington Hebrew Congregation, led by Rabbi Abram Simon, at the Eighth Street Temple in the nation’s capital. One month earlier, he had spoken to a similar Reform congregation at the Temple Emanu-El in San Francisco, asking them to consider that just as the Jewish prophets had reclaimed a lost people and turned them into a mighty society, so too had Jesus and Muhammad. His approach in Washington was similar, though this time around his argument was met with less enthusiasm. …

‘Abdu’l-Bahá spent a few minutes preparing his audience for the next phase of the argument. He asked them to be “just and fair in your judgment of the following statements.” He then proceeded to articulate the accomplishments of Jesus, going so far as to ask: “Were it not for Jesus Christ, would the Bible, the Torah have reached this land of America? Would the name of Moses be spread throughout the world?”

“This produced a stir among the people,” Agnes Parsons noted in her account of the evening. She states that Rabbi Simon made an effort through the translator, Dr. Fareed, to stop the address. Mahmúd-i-Zarqání, one of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s secretaries, wrote that the people seated near the pulpit made signs that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s time was up. …

Agnes Parsons telephoned Rabbi Simon the next morning and invited him to visit with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Later that evening, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá told a small gathering about the conversation that had transpired between the two men. He had told Rabbi Simon that Jews should be proud of Jesus, a “mighty personage” that they had, in fact, given to the world. “When you express your glory and honor in the recollection of Christ,” he told the Rabbi, “rest assured that the Christians will shake your hands in fellowship.”

Rabbi Simon eventually concurred. But he asked one thing of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá: “Cannot you tell the Christians to love us a little bit more?”

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

Saturday night, November 9, the friends held a banquet at Rauscher’s Hall. In the center of the room the tables were arranged in a figure nine and decorated with flowers. The walls were hung with flags, festoons, lanterns, and signs, with the Greatest Name above them. To the three hundred people at the banquet Mason Remey read a paper congratulating ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and assuring Him of their obedience and renunciation. After they sang, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá prayed and told everyone to begin eating. While they ate, He walked among them distributing candy and flowers and applying attar of roses. When He finished, the friends again sang songs. Then He spoke to them concerning the living of a Bahá’í life, and afterward they again burst into song.

Saturday, November 9, 1912 3

The Master called on the Jewish rabbi, showered him with kindness and countless blessings, and spoke to him regarding peace and harmony among the Jews, Christians and Muslims as well as the need for respect for the leaders of each other’s religions. The Master said:

“Whenever these people mention each other’s leaders with due reverence then all sufferings and contentions shall cease and instead of hatred there will be love and instead of enmity and disunity there will be harmony and affection. This is my purpose.”

The Master continued to speak in this vein with the rabbi, who left His presence with humility and respect.

Several distinguished persons visited the Master on the second floor of Mrs Parsons’s home, to whom He spoke about various spiritual and important issues. The eternal bounties poured forth like refreshing rain, beautifying the gardens of the hearts and causing the world of the spirit to triumph and to overflow with glad tidings.

In the evening the band of lovers observed the Feast of the Covenant with a magnificent banquet in one of the city’s largest halls. The sounds of their congratulations and praises created a festive and beautiful celebration. Large tables were arranged in the center of the hall in the shape of the figure nine. At the head of the tables was the Master’s chair, on two sides were the chairs of His companions, while the remaining chairs were occupied by the friends. The tables were decorated with flowers and other ornaments and the doors and walls were decorated with screens, flags, festoons, lanterns and banners. Above all of these was the symbol of the Greatest Name. More than three hundred guests were present, apart from those serving as hosts. Almost everyone at the banquet was in formal attire and their attention focused on the Master.

As soon as the Master arrived they all sang with one voice a song in praise of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. When He had taken His seat, Mr Remey stood in the center of the hall facing the Master and devoutly read a paper, afterwards congratulating the Master on behalf of the friends and assuring Him of their obedience and renunciation of the world. Before eating ‘Abdu’l-Bahá rose and recited the following prayer:

“He is God! O Lord! We are assembled here in the utmost love and are turned toward Thy Kingdom. We seek none other but Thee and desire not but Thy good pleasure.

“O Lord! Make this food heavenly and make those assembled here of the hosts of Thy Supreme Concourse so that they may become life-giving and the cause of the enlightenment of the world of man, that they may arise to guide all the peoples of the world.

“Thou art the All-Powerful, the Almighty, the Forgiving and the Kind.”

He then invited everyone to begin their dinner, saying, ‘Tonight I myself wish to serve the friends of God.’ He therefore made several rounds, distributing sweets and flowers and anointing each person with attar of rose. When the Master completed one round, the friends sang songs of praise to the accompaniment of the piano. After supper, the Master rose and spoke about the preeminence and distinction of the gatherings of the friends of God, saying that the actions and services of the people of Bahá would be everlasting. This gave further encouragement to the friends to burst enthusiastically into wonderful songs and melodies, giving renewed joy to the hearts and to the souls a new delight. This was one of those great gatherings that demonstrate the majesty and power of the Center of the Covenant.

The Master then went into another room where a number of people were granted private interviews. Among them was a gentleman who had lost both legs in a railway collision and wore artificial limbs. To him the Master said:

“Mutilation of the body brings no harm to the soul. This is one of the proofs of the immortality of the soul, for death consists of the change and dispersion of the members and elements of the body. As a bodily change does not bring about change in the soul, it is evident that the soul is unchanging and imperishable.”

When the Consul General of Turkey and others came to see Him, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spoke to them about the Universal House of Justice.

Talk at Bahá’í Banquet, Rauscher’s Hall, Washington, D. C. 4

It is my fond and fervent hope through the favor of God that this present meeting may be instrumental in ushering in the day when the standard of the oneness of the world of humanity shall be held aloft in America. May it be the first real foundation of international peace, having for its object universal service to man. May it be divine philanthropy without distinctions or differentiations in humankind. May you consider all religions the instruments of God and regard all races as channels of divine manifestation. May you view mankind as the sheep of God and know for a certainty that He is the real Shepherd. Consider how this kind and tender Shepherd cares for all His flock; how He leads them in green pastures and beside the still waters. How well He protects them! Verily, this Shepherd makes no distinctions whatsoever; to all the sheep He is equally kind. Therefore, we must follow the example of God and strive in pathways of goodwill toward all humanity. May we endeavor with heart and soul to reconcile the religions of the earth, unify the peoples and races and blend the nations in a perfect solidarity. May we uphold the flag of international agreement and enkindle a light which shall illumine all regions with the radiance of oneness. May our purposes centralize in the earnest desire of attaining the good pleasure of God, and may our supreme energies be directed to welding together the human household. Let us not regard our own respective capacities; nay, rather, let us regard forever the favors and bounties of God. The drop must not estimate its own limited capacity; it must realize the volume and sufficiency of the ocean, which ever glorifieth the drop. The tender and simple seed, solitary though it may be, must not look upon its own lack of power. Nay, rather, its attention must ever be directed to the sun, in the rays of which it finds life and quickening; and it must ever consider the downpour of the cloud of mercy. For the bounty of the cloud, the effulgence and heat of the sun and the breath of the vernal zephyrs can transform the tiny seed and develop it into a mighty tree. And may you remember that a single infinitesimal atom in the ray of the sun through a shining beam of the solar energy becomes glorified and radiant.

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

‘Abdu’l-Bahá showers kindness and blessings upon a Jewish rabbi in Washington

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

November 9, 1912


  1. Sockett, Robert. “Challenging Washington’s Oldest Jewish Congregation.” 239 Days in America, 9 Nov. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/11/09/challenging-washingtons-oldest-jewish-congregation/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 180.
  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#section231
  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, 420. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/31#965527041

239 Days in America, Day 212: November 08, 1912 | Washington, D.C.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Assault on the Color Line 1

Agnes Parsons, whose home near Dupont Circle was one of the centers of social Washington, began 1912 without any contact with the African American life of the city. Her diary of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s days in Washington omits mention of most of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s engagement with the issue of race. Yet she opened her home to black guests, and, within a few years, was energetically taking the lead in organizing nationwide Race Unity Conferences, having been asked to do so by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.

On November 10, 1912, during his final visit to the capital, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá reprised his theme at a mixed-race gathering at the home of Pauline and Joseph Hannen: “In the sight of God there is no distinction between whites and blacks; all are as one. . . . How then can man be limited and influenced by racial colors? The important thing is to realize that all are human, all are one progeny of Adam. Inasmuch as they are all one family, why should they be separated?”

“Excellence does not depend upon color,” Abdu’l-Bahá argued. “Character is the true criterion of humanity.”

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

… [O]n Friday [November 8] [He [‘Abdu’l-Bahá] spoke] at a synagogue. There He explained with force and clarity the unity of Judaism, Christianity, and Islám. At one point some persons sitting toward the front of the congregation made signs to the interpreter to indicate that the time was up. But ‘Abdu’l-Bahá continued to speak.

Friday, November 8, 1912 3

‘Abdu’l-Bahá spoke in the morning to a gathering of the friends:

“I am very happy to have met you. I hope that through the favors of the Blessed Beauty you shall become the instruments for the glorification of the divine Cause and the spread of the Word of God so that this city may take precedence over all the other cities of America. As this city is the capital of America, so shall it, God willing, become the center of divine signs. When you arise to teach the Cause of God it will soon be firmly established and will spread because this city has capacity, as there is resistance and some ministers are opposing the Cause. It has been established by experience that when the cry of opposition is raised by leaders of religion the Cause of God gains strength. I always beg assistance for you and my heart is ever with you. You must trust in the favors of the Blessed Beauty which can change a gnat into a phoenix, a drop into an ocean, a stone into a diamond and an atom into a world-illuminating sun. You must not look to your own capacities but to the bounties of the Abhá Kingdom.”

In the afternoon ‘Abdu’l-Bahá took a stroll along the boulevard and remarked that ‘The city of Washington is better planned and laid out than the other cities of America.’ In His view the plan of this city was very pleasing because in other cities the buildings were too high and the population too congested. The buildings in Washington were mostly of four to five stories and its boulevards straight, well-proportioned and exquisitely landscaped. Each house has a front yard with flowers and bushes so that in the springtime the entire city becomes like a beautiful garden. All of the squares there have beautiful parks and gardens. In contrast, some of the streets and boulevards of New York and Chicago, with their tall buildings looming like steep mountain peaks, seem like narrow gorges or deep mountain passes and the crowd of humanity like the files of an army. It is difficult to pass through some of those streets either on foot or in a vehicle.

To resume. The Master’s address at the Jewish synagogue in Washington created a commotion among the listeners and the force of His argument caused the hearts of many to throb. On His arrival He said:

“I shall repeat the same subjects I spoke on in the Jewish synagogue of San Francisco, and I shall illustrate more clearly the evidences to prove the reality of Christ and the strength and truth of Islam. It is therefore not necessary to repeat them here.”

Such was the force of His explanations that both friends and seekers felt that some might take exception and object. ‘If the Jews will not speak,’ they said, ‘the Christians, at least, will not remain silent.’ Some of the Jews sitting near the pulpit actually made signs to the interpreter that the time was over. But the Master ignored this and went on to give detailed, decisive proofs and plain arguments to prove the truth of Christianity and Islam.

After the address, the chairman of the meeting, a person of much integrity and one of the fair-minded rabbis, came to the pulpit to thank the Master for His admonitions and exhortations. He then asked the audience not to become agitated or excited. ‘We must not’, he said, ‘be perplexed at what goes against our own convictions and beliefs. Rather, we must, with perfect composure and sincerity, investigate the truth so that we may discover the reality of everything.’

In brief, the firmness and courage of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and the force of His argument were noted by everyone both inside and outside the synagogue.

Talk at Eighth Street Temple, Synagogue, Washington, D. C. 4

God is one, the effulgence of God is one, and humanity constitutes the servants of that one God. God is kind to all. He creates and provides for all, and all are under His care and protection. The Sun of Truth, the Word of God, shines upon all mankind; the divine cloud pours down its precious rain; the gentle zephyrs of His mercy blow, and all humanity is submerged in the ocean of His eternal justice and loving-kindness. God has created mankind from the same progeny in order that they may associate in good fellowship, exercise love toward each other and live together in unity and brotherhood.

But we have acted contrary to the will and good pleasure of God. We have been the cause of enmity and disunion. We have separated from each other and risen against each other in opposition and strife. How many have been the wars between peoples and nations! What bloodshed! Numberless are the cities and homes which have been laid waste. All of this has been contrary to the good pleasure of God, for He hath willed love for humanity. He is clement and merciful to all His creatures. He hath ordained amity and fellowship amongst men.

Most regrettable of all is the state of difference and divergence we have created between each other in the name of religion, imagining that a paramount duty in our religious belief is that of alienation and estrangement, that we should shun each other and consider each other contaminated with error and infidelity. In reality, the foundations of the divine religions are one and the same. The differences which have arisen between us are due to blind imitations of dogmatic beliefs and adherence to ancestral forms of worship. Abraham was the founder of reality. Moses, Christ, Muḥammad were the manifestations of reality. Bahá’u’lláh was the glory of reality. This is not simply an assertion; it will be proved.

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

“As this city is the capital of America, so shall it, God willing, become the center of divine signs.”

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

November 8, 1912


  1. Menon, Jonathan. “‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Assault on the Color Line.” 239 Days in America, 8 Nov. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/11/08/abdul-bahas-assault-on-the-color-line/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 179.
  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#section230
  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, 402-403. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/30#195104194

239 Days in America, Day 201: October 28, 1912 | Denver

October 28, 1912: The Week Ahead 1

IN THE PAST WEEK, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá departed the San Francisco Bay area and spent two days in Sacramento, where he talked with a New Thought group, The Home of Truth, about the practical implications of modern religion. Today, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s train is traversing the cold and treacherous mountain passes of Colorado, on its way back to Denver.

In the week ahead: ‘Abdu’l-Bahá compares events in the life of Jesus to the pageantry he saw surrounding a Cardinal of the Catholic Church in California, then heads northeast across the plains of Nebraska toward Chicago. While there he will meet the Indian poet and activist Rabindranath Tagore, whose book of poems, Gitanjali, will bring Tagore the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913.

The Journey East: Teaching on the Train 2

The next day, October 28, after ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had revealed Tablets in response to various communications, a salesman came through the car with little ore samples. As ‘Abdu’l-Bahá looked at these, some children came up. He talked lovingly with them, and then bought each one of them a dollar’s worth. Other children, seeing this, came running; ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said jokingly, “‘The, too, have come with beggars’ looks!’” as He bought the same amount for each of them.

Observing His kindness, the parents and others came and began to ask Him questions, until again there was a crowd standing in the aisle and sitting on chair arms, as He taught them of Bahá’u’lláh’s Revelation. Mahmúd noted, “We had never seen or heard the Cause taught in such a manner.”

Monday, October 28, 1912 3

‘Abdu’l-Bahá took tea in the dining car. Áqá ‘Alí-Akbar Nakhjavání remarked that it seemed the Master was happier because He was going towards the East. The Master replied, ‘Yes, my greatest happiness is to be near the Holy Shrine.’ Looking out of the window, He continued: ‘I love this plain because it is so much like the plain of ‘Akká.’

The Master then dictated replies to His letters. In the afternoon, a vendor came by with various items for sale. The Master looked at some ore specimens from the mines when a few children drew close, looking at Him with curiosity. He beckoned to them and asked, ‘What shall I buy you?’ He spoke to them with more love and kindness than the most benevolent father and bought each child various items costing about a dollar. More children ran to Him. He said, ‘They, too, look poor’ and also bought them a dollar’s worth of items.

When they saw this, the people were interested, curious to know who this great personage was. When someone asked the Master about His aims, He gave a detailed explanation of the divine teachings. For a long period of time the passengers gathered around His seat, some standing and some sitting, listening to His sweet voice and sublime words. We had never before seen or heard the Cause taught in such a manner. It was characteristic of this journey that the Master raised the call of Yá Bahá’u’l-Abhá as the train passed through the mountains, valleys, plains and rivers.

Some Turks came to see Him in the afternoon. They said that there were more than 50 of them on their way to Constantinople in response to a call to assist their government and people. They were impressed to hear the Master’s explanation of universal peace and the unity of mankind. The Master asked that tea and water be brought from the train’s kitchen to another compartment where He served them tea. They thanked Him for His kindness and became attracted to His noble qualities and conduct.

’Abdu’l-Bahá reached Denver at about midnight. As the Master was very tired, He went to a hotel near the station to rest.

26 October 1912, Talk at Assembly Hall, Hotel Sacramento, Sacramento, California 4

Among the bounties of God is revelation. Hence revelation is progressive and continuous. It never ceases. It is necessary that the reality of Divinity with all its perfections and attributes should become resplendent in the human world. The reality of Divinity is like an endless ocean. Revelation may be likened to the rain. Can you imagine the cessation of rain? Ever on the face of the earth somewhere rain is pouring down. Briefly, the world of existence is progressive. It is subject to development and growth. Consider how great has been the progress in this radiant century. Civilization has unfolded. Nations have developed. Industrialism and jurisprudence have expanded. Sciences, inventions and discoveries have increased. All of these show that the world of existence is continuously progressing and developing; and therefore, assuredly, the virtues characterizing the maturity of man must, likewise, expand and grow.

The greatest bestowal of God to man is the capacity to attain human virtues. Therefore, the teachings of religion must be reformed and renewed because past teachings are not suitable for the present time. For example, the sciences of bygone centuries are not adequate for the present because sciences have undergone reform. The industrialism of the past will not ensure present efficiency because industrialism has advanced. The laws of the past are being superseded because they are not applicable to this time. All material conditions pertaining to the world of humanity have undergone reform, have achieved development, and the institutes of the past are not to be compared with those of this age. The laws and institutes of former governments cannot be current today, for legislation must be in conformity with the needs and requirements of the body politic at this time.

This has been the case also with the religious teachings so long set forth in the temples and churches, because they were not based upon the fundamental principles of the religions of God. In other words, the foundation of the divine religions had become obscured and nonessentials of form and ceremony were adhered to—that is, the kernel of religion had apparently disappeared, and only the shell remained. Consequently, it was necessary that the fundamental basis of all religious teaching should be restored, that the Sun of Reality which had set should rise again, that the springtime which had refreshed the arena of life in ages gone by should appear anew, that the rain which had ceased should descend, that the breezes which had become stilled should blow once more.

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

Plains en route to Denver reminded ‘Abdu’l-Bahá of Akka

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

October 28, 1912


  1. Sockett, Robert. “October 28, 1912: The Week Ahead.” 239 Days in America, 28 Oct. 2012, http://stagingtwo39.wpengine.com/2012/10/28/october-28-1912-the-week-ahead/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 174-175.
  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#section219
  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, 378-379. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/27#528333013

239 Days in America, Day 197: October 24, 1912 | San Francisco

‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Practical Spirituality” 1

ON SEPTEMBER 12, 1912, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had set out from Buffalo on the longest overland trip of his life — a distance farther than the perilous trek he had taken with his family when he was eight years old, in the dead of winter, without proper clothing, over the freezing mountains of Iran to Baghdad; farther than the voyage of his father’s second exile from Baghdad to Constantinople in 1863. On that trip he had served the exiles at night and galloped ahead of the caravans to steal moments of sleep by day: dismounting, laying down, and resting his head on the neck of his horse.

Here in America his horse was made of iron and he had slept upright in a passenger car while his train skirted the southernmost Great Lakes, whisked across the wheatfields of Iowa and Nebraska, traversed the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, the salt flats of Utah, and the desert plains of Nevada, and finally arrived, in the middle of the night on October 3, on the shore of the opposite sea.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá hadn’t even planned to travel to the Golden State: it was too far and he had pressing business back in Palestine. But a campaign of letters from his friends in San Francisco and Los Angeles had changed his mind. Now, on the evening of Thursday, October 24, 1912, as he said goodbye to friends at his rented house at 1815 California Street in Pacific Heights, he could look back to three of the most eventful weeks of his entire trip through America.

California 2

Immersing them in words and deeds that were the expressions of His love, He talked to them of spiritual growth, of teaching the Cause, of sowing the seeds.

Thursday, October 24, 1912 3

A group of believers from Oakland and the vicinity arrived. Some brought their children, supplicating the Master to give them His blessings and protection and requesting Persian names for them. All were honored and delighted to have seen the One around whom all names revolve and their eyes overflowed with tears of joy. He encouraged them to make every effort to bring about universal peace and the unity of mankind. He also spoke about His address at the Jewish temple.

On the way back to San Francisco He spoke to a group of young Bahá’ís who were teaching the Cause of God and were dedicated to diffusing the divine fragrances:

“Thank God that the divine bounty has reached you, that the Sun of Truth is shining upon you and that the water of everlasting life has been provided for you. If a man drinks from a sweet spring, he ought to guide others to the same sweet water.

“You have asked me to speak about how to teach the Cause of God. I have spoken at length on this but I repeat that the teacher himself must be detached and devoted so that his breath may affect others. Whoever has taken a step in this field has succeeded. The doors of knowledge are opened before him, his eyes become seeing and he is assisted with the breaths of the Holy Spirit. He is guided himself and becomes the cause of guidance of others. Of course, a person sings a joyous song only when he himself is delighted and rapturous. Thus when one begins to guide others and adduces proofs, then his taste becomes sweeter and his heart more joyful.

“Moreover, everything is limited except the bounty of God and this bounty descends upon man through teaching the Cause of God; then divine inspiration will assist him. It is for this reason that Christ said that whenever you wish to talk do not think about it, the Holy Spirit will inspire you. If you desire eternal honor, everlasting life and heavenly exaltation, then teach the Cause. Divine confirmations shall attend you; this has been experienced. But it calls for firmness and steadfastness. Consider the disciples of Christ and observe with what firmness they arose until the Cause of God advanced. They even sacrificed their lives for this.

In response to a question about purchasing land for a Mashriqu’l-Adhkár, He said: ‘It is very good but for the present it is better to help with the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár in Chicago.’

The Master went to visit some schools and interesting places. Among them was a technical school, whose students stood respectfully in His presence. He was pleased with them and bestowed kindness upon them. He then went to see a purpose-built auditorium constructed in a circular shape with stairs and seating on three sides. Overlooking the stage one could see the entire audience. At the other end was a large podium with a platform designed in such a way that when a lecturer spoke, his voice could reach the audience without an echo. The building was very large and had been built for special occasions and public events; it had no roof. It was much admired by the Master.

In the afternoon ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spoke at a gathering of the believers on the importance of teaching the Cause:

“Every day confirmations surround some specific pursuit and every hour has a purpose decreed for it. Today, teaching the Cause of God and spreading the divine teachings are what attract heavenly assistance. It is the season of seed-sowing and of propagating the Word of God.”

In the evening He spoke about the imprisonment and persecution of the Blessed Beauty and of the power and influence of the Greatest Name. As He bade farewell to the friends, His words were powerful and impressive. The hearts of the believers were in turmoil and their eyes brimming over with tears. They were saddened because it was the end of the Master’s stay among them and His lovers were feeling the pain of separation from Him.

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

The age has dawned when human fellowship will become a reality.

The century has come when all religions shall be unified.

The dispensation is at hand when all nations shall enjoy the blessings of international peace.

The cycle has arrived when racial prejudice will be abandoned by tribes and peoples of the world.

The epoch has begun wherein all native lands will be conjoined in one great human family.

For all mankind shall dwell in peace and security beneath the shelter of the great tabernacle of the one living God.

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

Some believers requested Persian names for their children

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

October 24, 1912


  1. Menon, Jonathan. “‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Practical Spirituality.” 239 Days in America, 24 Oct. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/10/24/abdul-bahas-practical-days-in-san-francisco/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 170.
  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#section215
  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, 370. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/27#101927339

239 Days in America, Day 190: October 17, 1912 | San Francisco

The Last Days of Thornton Chase 1

‘ABDU’L-BAHÁ’S TRAIN WEST arrived in Glenwood Springs at two o’clock in the morning on Saturday, September 28, 1912. That afternoon the party took a walk in the gardens of the Hotel Colorado, and crossed the bridge to visit the shopping district. As the Colorado River swept beneath them, a messenger approached with some telegrams that had arrived for ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. One of them, from Los Angeles, reported that his friend, Thornton Chase, had been rushed two days earlier to the Angelus Hospital and was awaiting emergency surgery.

Thornton Chase had first heard about Bahá’u’lláh from the speech Dr. Henry Jessup had given at the World Parliament of Religions in 1893. By mid-1894 he was studying the new faith in Chicago. Three other Americans became Bahá’ís before Chase, but, of the four, only Chase had stuck. He was, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá later said, “the first Bahá’í in America.”

When Phoebe Hearst planned her pilgrimage to ‘Akká in 1898, Chase’s work with the Union Mutual Life Insurance Company prevented him from accompanying them. “I am heart broken,” he wrote to one of the party, “to learn that you are going and it is impossible for me to join you.” Instead, he sent along a letter to be hand-delivered to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, beginning a correspondence between the two men that would unfold over the next fourteen years. Of all the Americans ‘Abdu’l-Bahá knew, none were closer to him than Thornton Chase.

California 2

Early Thursday morning [October 17] He returned to San Francisco. People came to talk to Him throughout the day.

Thursday, October 17, 1912 3

The Master left for San Francisco early in the morning. He had lost His seal, so all of His Tablets and writings made during this time were signed by Him with His own pen.

Mail from the Eastern friends was brought to Him. I read a letter from Hájí Mírzá Haydar-‘Alí and, on his behalf, prostrated myself at the feet of the Master. He raised me up with His hands and said, ‘I embrace you on behalf of Hájí.’ He did this with a smile and such kindness that it will never be forgotten.

In today’s gathering ‘Abdu’l-Bahá gave an account of the martyrs of Jahrum, testifying to the firmness and steadfastness of the friends in the East. The services and sincerity of Mírzá Abu’l-Fadl were highly praised by the Master. He also gave accounts of the last days of His imprisonment in ‘Akká, the oppression of Sultán ‘Abdu’l-Hamíd and the conduct of the Commission of Investigation.

This commission of investigation and oppression was on its way back to Istanbul from ‘Akká when the majesty of the justice of God revolutionized all matters. Sultán ‘Abdu’l-Hamíd was deposed and one member of the commission was murdered, another died and two of them absconded. One of these two begged for his daily expenses from the friends in Egypt.

Some philosophers, religionists and civic leaders of the town came one by one to see the Master. They were attracted by His words on spiritual matters and left with the utmost sincerity. One questioned Him about spirit and matter. The Master replied:

“This question may be answered in two ways, philosophically as well as spiritually. Philosophically, the answer is easy because in philosophy the spirit is energy and all matter is endowed with energy; and this power is inseparable from matter, as in electricity. In other words, matter is a vehicle for spirit but the transformation of matter does not involve the extinction of that power because transformation and transference are in the properties of matter.

“Immaterial beings or realities, however, are protected and preserved and their essential power remains unaltered. The manifestation or appearance of the spirit varies due to changes in matter and bodies. This, however, does not mean that spirit itself is subject to extinction.”

The listeners were pleased to hear ‘Abdu’l-Bahá explain this subject in detail and testified to His divine knowledge and to the cogency of His explanation and argument.

Today the Master spoke twice at public gatherings at His residence. In the first of His addresses He exhorted the audience to keep the soil of their hearts pure and holy so that the flowers of the virtues of humanity might grow and that the blessings of God might descend upon them. In His other address (given after He had taken a short walk), He explained that heat and motion are essential for the contingent world.

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

The second classification or division comprises social laws and regulations applicable to human conduct. This is not the essential spiritual quality of religion. It is subject to change and transformation according to the exigencies and requirements of time and place. For instance, in the time of Noah certain requirements made it necessary that all seafood be allowable or lawful. During the time of the Abrahamic Prophethood it was considered allowable, because of a certain exigency, that a man should marry his aunt, even as Sarah was the sister of Abraham’s mother. During the cycle of Adam it was lawful and expedient for a man to marry his own sister, even as Abel, Cain and Seth, the sons of Adam, married their sisters. But in the law of the Pentateuch revealed by Moses these marriages were forbidden and their custom and sanction abrogated. Other laws formerly valid were annulled during the time of Moses. For example, it was lawful in Abraham’s cycle to eat the flesh of the camel, but during the time of Jacob this was prohibited. Such changes and transformations in the teaching of religion are applicable to the ordinary conditions of life, but they are not important or essential. Moses lived in the wilderness of Sinai where crime necessitated direct punishment. There were no penitentiaries or penalties of imprisonment. Therefore, according to the exigency of the time and place it was a law of God that an eye should be given for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. It would not be practicable to enforce this law at the present time—for instance, to blind a man who accidentally blinded you. In the Torah there are many commands concerning the punishment of a murderer. It would not be allowable or possible to carry out these ordinances today. Human conditions and exigencies are such that even the question of capital punishment—the one penalty which most nations have continued to enforce for murder—is now under discussion by wise men who are debating its advisability. In fact, laws for the ordinary conditions of life are only valid temporarily. The exigencies of the time of Moses justified cutting off a man’s hand for theft, but such a penalty is not allowable now. Time changes conditions, and laws change to suit conditions. We must remember that these changing laws are not the essentials; they are the accidentals of religion. The essential ordinances established by a Manifestation of God are spiritual; they concern moralities, the ethical development of man and faith in God. They are ideal and necessarily permanent—expressions of the one foundation and not amenable to change or transformation. Therefore, the fundamental basis of the revealed religion of God is immutable, unchanging throughout the centuries, not subject to the varying conditions of the human world.

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

‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s seal for Tablets

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

October 17, 1912


  1. Sockett, Robert, and Jonathan Menon. “The Last Days of Thornton Chase.” 239 Days in America, 17 Oct. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/10/17/the-last-days-of-thornton-chase/.
  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#section208
  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, 365-366. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/27#059564833

239 Days in America, Day 188: October 15, 1912 | San Francisco

Mrs. Hearst Visits a Prisoner in ‘Akká 1

IN 1898 IT WASN’T easy to see ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. He was still a political prisoner after thirty years, and Ottoman government spies reported on his activities. It was a dangerous prospect for him to be seen welcoming one of America’s wealthiest and most famous women into the prison city of ‘Akká in the bright light of day. Therefore, Phoebe Hearst stole into ‘Akká under cover of night.

Not long after she had first heard of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and his father, Bahá’u’lláh, Mrs. Hearst had planned a trip to Egypt and Palestine, and had invited some younger members of her family and a few friends. The pilgrims arrived in small groups so as to avoid raising the suspicions of the authorities; Mrs. Hearst, her maid, and her British friend, Mrs. Thornburgh-Cropper, reached Palestine on or around Tuesday, December 20, 1898. “Mrs. Hearst and I arrived in Cairo, Egypt, after a terrible storm at sea,” her friend later wrote, “and remained there for a few days until all had been explained to us regarding our actual journey into the prison city.”

After a storm-tossed trip to Haifa in “a small, miserable boat,” the ladies checked into a hotel to wait for the sun to retire. Once darkness descended they mounted a carriage for the five-mile trip around the bay to ‘Akká along the hard beach sand. The carriage entered the prison city’s wooden gates, and turned left toward the house of ‘Abdu’lláh Páshá, a residence originally built about 1817 by the governor of the city, but which was now a run-down complex of apartments whose stucco suffered from an advanced stage of decay. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had rented rooms for his family there in 1896.

California 2

The next morning [October 15], in general conversation, the Presidential election was mentioned. ”’The president,’” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá noted, “‘must be a man who is not hankering for the presidency. He should be a person free from all thoughts of name and fame; he must think himself unworthy of the rank; and should say that he thinks himself unfit for the place and unable to bear this burdensome duty. … If the public good is the object, the president must be a person sensitive to the public weal and not a selfish and self-seeking one.’” During the day ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and the Persian friends toured the gardens.

Tuesday, October 15, 1912 3

Early in the morning Mrs Phoebe Hearst presented the Master with flowers of various hues and perfumes. She suggested that, if He wished, He could stroll through the surrounding gardens and nursery. He first toured the house and then went to the nursery which had many beautiful flowers. A few rare specimens attracted His particular attention. He said that the seeds of those flowers should be sent to the Holy Land for cultivation in the gardens adjoining the Shrines of the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh. Continuing, He said: ‘The real flowers are those in the garden of the hearts. The flowers of the love of God which are grown with the warmth of the Sun of Truth perfume the peoples of the world and never wither.’

At the table during lunch His discourse concerned the greatness of this time, the dignity of the world of humanity and the importance of acquiring eternal virtues and perfections. Turning to the grandchildren of Mrs Hearst He said:

“In reality, children are the ornaments at the table, especially these children, who are very sweet! The hearts of children are extremely pure and simple. A person’s heart must be like a child’s, pure and free from all contamination.”

His prayer at the dinner table was this:

“He is God! How can we render Thee thanks, O Lord? Thy bounties are endless and our gratitude cannot equal them. How can the finite utter praise of the Infinite? Unable are we to voice our thanks for Thy favors and in utter powerlessness we turn wholly to Thy Kingdom beseeching the increase of Thy bestowals and bounties. Thou are the Giver, the Bestower, the Almighty.”

He then gave an account of the history of the kings of the world and concluded with remarks about the death of Alexander.

“When in the city of Zor the lamp of his life was extinguished and the last morn had dawned upon him, the wise men assembled by his corpse. One of them said, ‘Gracious God! The whole world could not contain this ambitious man yesterday but today a small plot of earth is sufficient to hold him.’ Another remarked, ‘With all his greatness, glory and eloquence of speech, Alexander never advised us in such a manner as he is instructing us today with this silence.’ Another said, ‘A few hours ago this man considered himself the sovereign of the whole world but now it has become evident that he was a servant and a subject.’”

After dinner, He went into the salon. Mrs Hearst and her guests were so attracted by His words and actions that although she had not spoken openly to her relatives about the Faith and had been cautious about it, without hesitation she invited the Master to speak about the teachings of the Cause of God. He spoke of devotion to the Cause, the appearance of the lights of the Kingdom, universal peace and the oneness of humanity. After an exposition of the teachings, He spoke briefly on the variety and diversity in human capacities, adding: ‘Christ likened divine words to seeds, and the hearts and capacities of his listeners to soil of different kinds.’ Mrs Hearst related her experiences of her days in ‘Akká and told of her joy on hearing a prayer chanted in the Holy Land. At her request the Master, in a melodious voice, read a prayer in eloquent Arabic. Although the listeners did not understand Arabic, most of them said that the beauty of the Tablet and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s voice caused them to draw nearer to God. Some of those present this evening expressed their desire to accept the Faith. They said that although they had been aware of the Cause and had associated with the believers, by listening to the Master they now understood more.

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

When a movement fundamentally religious makes a weak nation strong, changes a nondescript tribal people into a mighty and powerful civilization, rescues them from captivity and elevates them to sovereignty, transforms their ignorance into knowledge and endows them with an impetus of advancement in all degrees of development (this is not theory, but historical fact), it becomes evident that religion is the cause of man’s attainment to honor and sublimity.

But when we speak of religion, we mean the essential foundation or reality of religion, not the dogmas and blind imitations which have gradually encrusted it and which are the cause of the decline and effacement of a nation. These are inevitably destructive and a menace and hindrance to a nation’s life—even as it is recorded in the Torah and confirmed in history that when the Jews became fettered by empty forms and imitations, the wrath of God became manifest. When they forsook the foundations of the law of God, Nebuchadnezzar came and conquered the Holy Land. He killed and made captive the people of Israel, laid waste the country and populous cities and burned the villages. Seventy thousand Jews were carried away captive to Babylon. He destroyed Jerusalem, despoiled the great Temple, desecrated the Holy of Holies and burned the Torah, the heavenly book of Scriptures. Therefore, we learn that allegiance to the essential foundation of the divine religions is ever the cause of development and progress, whereas the abandonment and beclouding of that essential reality through blind imitations and adherence to dogmatic beliefs are the causes of a nation’s debasement and degradation. After their conquest by the Babylonians the Jews were successively subjugated by the Greeks and Romans. Under the Roman general Titus in A.D. 70 the Holy Land was stripped and pillaged, Jerusalem razed to its foundations and the Israelites scattered broadcast throughout the world. So complete was their dispersion that they have continued without a country and government of their own to the present day.

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

While strolling through the gardens the Master said: “The real flowers are those in the garden of the hearts….”

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

October 15, 1912


  1. Jones, Caitlin Shayda, and Jonathan Menon. “Mrs. Hearst Visits a Prisoner in ‘Akká.” 239 Days in America, 15 Oct. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/10/15/phoebe-hearst-visits-a-prisoner-in-akka/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 168.
  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#section206
  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, 363-364. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/27#272161810

239 Days in America, Day 186: October 13, 1912 | San Francisco

Phoebe Apperson Hearst 1

PHOEBE APPERSON HEARST HELD her dress above her shoes to step from the limousine parked in front of 1815 California Street, where ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had been staying. It was October 13, 1912. She was a small woman and kept her hair pulled tight on top of her head except for several short curls that hung loose to frame her face. After her husband died in 1891, she took over what was then the largest private mining company in the United States. The University of California at Berkeley had risen on her dollars. Today she had arrived to escort ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to her nineteen-hundred-acre estate in nearby Pleasanton for a three-night stay in the countryside.

It was a sunny day, and they drew the blinds in Mrs. Hearst’s limousine, then sped off down California Street toward the ferry terminal at the end of Market Street. After disembarking from the ferry across the bay in Oakland, the journey to Phoebe Hearst’s estate took them thirty-five miles through the redwoods of California.

California 2

On Sunday, October 13, He spoke at the reading room for the blind.

Sunday, October 13, 1912 3

In the morning one of the Japanese friends came together with a group of people to visit the Master. This Japanese friend said that he had studied most religions but found none as useful and effective in bringing tranquillity to the people as this Faith. The Master replied:

“I hope that you will become heavenly and not just be a Japanese, an Arab, an Englishman or a Persian, Turk or American; that you will become divine and bring your life into accord with the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh. Observe: I am one of the servants of Bahá’u’lláh, helpless and weak but as I am under the shadow of His teachings you see what confirmations descend upon me.”

The fame, grandeur and beauty of the Master were such that many civic, educational and social leaders of the area visited Him, considering it an honor to be in His presence. His noble mission and talks about the Cause of God, together with the enthusiasm of the people, seemed to fulfill the verse from the Qur’án: ‘The day when the people shall stand before the Lord of creation.’ Mrs [Phoebe] Hearst, a wealthy and prominent person who had visited the Master a few years ago in the Holy Land but who had become distant because of her association with worldly people, suddenly requested permission to visit Him. Realizing the privilege of His presence, she invited Him and His companions to her home. Because her invitation was sincere, it was accepted. In the afternoon, the Master and His servants went with Mrs Hearst to her home. After traveling inland, through the streets of Oakland and Berkeley, the automobile passed through verdant hills, green valleys and lovely towns and villages until it reached Mrs Hearst’s large, regal mansion. It is situated on a beautiful hillside on the outskirts of Pleasanton, surrounded by luxuriant gardens, green lawns and pathways overflowing with flowers. Some of Mrs Hearst’s relatives were also present among her guests.

In keeping with the circumstances of the occasion, for there were people of different backgrounds present, the Master’s talks were brief yet full of wisdom. Many important ideas were couched in short sentences, giving the maximum effect with a minimum of words. The guests asked questions of each other about the Cause.

After dinner, the Master went into the outer hall and spoke briefly:

“Every universal matter is from God; and limitations are from man. Therefore, if people’s services and efforts are undertaken for the benefit of all, they are acceptable to God and leave lasting traces. Otherwise, every other effort is limited and transitory.”

After obtaining the Master’s permission to have music, the guests sang songs accompanied by the piano. The meeting ended with great joy and happiness.

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

How shall we determine whether religion has been the cause of human advancement or retrogression?

We will first consider the Founders of the religions—the Prophets—review the story of Their lives, compare the conditions preceding Their appearance with those subsequent to Their departure, following historical records and irrefutable facts instead of relying upon traditionary statements which are open to both acceptance and denial.

Among the great Prophets was Abraham, Who, being an iconoclast and a Herald of the oneness of God, was banished from His native land. He founded a family upon which the blessing of God descended, and it was owing to this religious basis and ordination that the Abrahamic house progressed and advanced. Through the divine benediction noteworthy and luminous prophets issued from His lineage. There appeared Isaac, Ishmael, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, David and Solomon. The Holy Land was conquered by the power of the Covenant of God with Abraham, and the glory of the Solomonic wisdom and sovereignty dawned. All this was due to the religion of God which this blessed lineage established and upheld. It is evident that throughout the history of Abraham and His posterity this was the source of their honor, advancement and civilization. Even today the descendants of His household and lineage are found throughout the world.

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

“I hope that you will become heavenly … that you will become divine …”

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

October 13, 1912


  1. Jones, Caitlin Shayda. “Phoebe Apperson Hearst.” 239 Days in America, 13 Oct. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/10/13/phoebe-apperson-hearst/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 168.
  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#section204
  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, 361-362. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/27#018297801

239 Days in America, Day 185: October 12, 1912 | San Francisco

Rabbi Martin Meyer Hosts ‘Abdu’l-Bahá at Temple 1

THE LATE MORNING SUNLIGHT filtered down through opalescent windows and settled on the soft features of Rabbi Martin A. Meyer. At 10:45 a.m. on the cool morning of Saturday, October 12, 1912, he stood upon his pulpit, hand-carved from weathered oak, and looked out over two thousand members of his congregation. They filled the majestic sanctuary of San Francisco’s Temple Emanu-El.

The massive Gothic Revival synagogue, built in the 1860s, was one of the largest vaulted chambers ever constructed in the state of California. Two octagonal towers shot up at the temple’s front corners on Sutter Street, supporting bronze-plated Russian domes that impressed themselves on the city’s skyline. The vaults and the domes had come crashing down on the fateful morning of April 18, 1906, and the temple had burned to its skeleton in the fires. But just sixteen months later Temple Emanu-El rose again from the ashes: squat towers now stood where the domes had been, a ceiling of Oregon pine replaced the vaults, and chandeliers hung down in the shape of six-pointed stars.

“It is a privilege, and a very high privilege indeed,” Rabbi Meyer said, “to welcome in our midst this morning Abdul Baha, a great teacher of our age and generation. . . . Abdul Baha is the representative of one of the religious systems of life, and it appeals to us Jews, because we Jews feel that we have fathered that ideal throughout the centuries of men.”

California 2

On Saturday, October 12, He presented His memorable address to an audience of 2,000 in the Temple Emmanu-El, emphasizing “the truth of His Holiness Christ, the reality of Islam, the oneness of humanity and universal peace.”

Saturday, October 12, 1912 3

The Master’s address at the Jewish Temple was unique and magnificent. His talk, which was delivered to some two thousand Jews, concerned the truth of Christ, the reality of Islam, the oneness of humanity and universal peace. This gathering was clear evidence of the power and majesty of the Center of the Covenant. Indeed, it can be counted as a miracle. The proofs supporting the truth of the reality of Christ and Muhammad, the Messengers of God, flowed from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s lips with such majesty and authority that all were dumbfounded. After His talk, many humbly came to see Him to express their gratitude, except for a very few diehards who left in dismay. The chairman of the meeting, considered to be an eminent and learned Jew, introduced the Master:

It is our privilege to welcome in our midst ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, a great teacher of our age and generation. The heart of the Orient seems to be essentially religious, and now and then, out of the heart of the Orient, the fundamental religious message for the world is stated and restated. This century is very great and this age is the age of the maturity of the world. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá is the representative of one of the religious systems which appeals to us Jews, because we feel that we have fathered that idea throughout the centuries. This morning He will speak to us, the followers and the children of Israel, in His native tongue through an interpreter, on ‘The Fundamental Unity of Religious Thought’. I am certain that whatever He says will be of great significance to us. …

Address by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

‘Abdu’l-Bahá gave this address in the afternoon at the home of Mrs Goodall and Mrs Cooper:

“Today we spoke in the Jewish temple. You saw how it was proven that Christ was the Word of God and Muhammad the Messenger of God. From the beginning of Christianity and Islam up to the present day, no one has spoken thus, proving the validity of Christ and Muhammad in a Jewish temple and in a manner to which no one took exception. Rather, most were appreciative and content. This is none other than the assistance of Bahá’u’lláh.”

The effect and influence of the address were such that from then on there was evidence of unity and communication between the Christians and Jews. They even made plans to visit each other’s places of worship to give talks about the unity of peoples and religions. Whenever they met ‘Abdu’l-Bahá or attended Bahá’í gatherings, they expressed their gratitude from the depths of their hearts for this great Cause and its new teachings.

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

The greatest bestowal of God in the world of humanity is religion, for assuredly the divine teachings of religion are above all other sources of instruction and development to man. Religion confers upon man eternal life and guides his footsteps in the world of morality. It opens the doors of unending happiness and bestows everlasting honor upon the human kingdom. It has been the basis of all civilization and progress in the history of mankind.

We will, therefore, investigate religion, seeking from an unprejudiced standpoint to discover whether it is the source of illumination, the cause of development and the animating impulse of all human advancement. We will investigate independently, free from the restrictions of dogmatic beliefs, blind imitations of ancestral forms and the influence of mere human opinion; for as we enter this question, we will find some who declare that religion is a cause of uplift and betterment in the world, while others assert just as positively that it is a detriment and a source of degradation to mankind. We must give these questions thorough and impartial consideration so that no doubt or uncertainty may linger in our minds regarding them.

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

Presenting proofs supporting the truth of the reality of Christ and Muhammad

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

October 12, 1912


  1. Menon, Jonathan. “Rabbi Martin Meyer Hosts ‘Abdu’l-Bahá at Temple Emanu-El.” 239 Days in America, 12 Oct. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/10/12/rabbi-martin-a-meyer-hosts-abdul-baha-longest-address-in-america/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 168.
  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#section203
  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, 361-362. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/27#592795487