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 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 99: July 18, 1912 | New York

“Bind Ye the Broken With the Hands of Justice” 1

WHILE UNDER HOUSE ARREST in Adrianople, Bahá’u’lláh addressed the rulers of the nineteenth century in his Tablet of the Kings. Over the next few years he would continue to write messages to the monarchs in Europe and the Middle East. Sometimes he wrote letters directly to them, and at other times addressed them by name in his other works. In 1873, in his book of laws, Bahá’u’lláh called the leaders of the New World to a unique role in establishing justice…

Later, in the Most Holy Book, Baha’u’lláh gave a specific mission to the leaders across the Atlantic. “Hearken ye, O Rulers of America and the Presidents of the Republics therein,” he wrote. “Bind ye the broken with the hands of justice, and crush the oppressor who flourisheth with the rod of the commandments of your Lord, the Ordainer, the All-Wise.”

New York City 2

On July 18, The Independent magazine carried an editorial entitled “The Persian Prophet”:

The visit of Abdul Baha to this country is an interesting event even to those of us who do not see in Bahaism a new revelation destined to supersede the older faiths. It is interesting, at the least, to have brought visibly before us evidence that Asia, the aged mother of all the great religions of the world, has not yet become barren. For he who is now in our midst is by as many millions of people today regarded as a prophet, “yea and much more than a prophet.” The number of his followers can, of course, be only vaguely estimated .. the foremost aim of Bahaism is unity. It would “the Two-and-Seventy jarring Sects” not “confute,” but combine …

Such in essence is the Bahai doctrine, tho stripped of the poetic imagery and illustration that grows in a Persian garden. A strange offshoot from Mohammedanism in these latter days—this religion of universal peace, mutual toleration and equal rights. Tho its lessons may be most needed in Islam, yet they are far from being superfluous to Christendom.3

Thursday, July 18, 2022

‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s talk today centered on the persecutions and tribulations of the Blessed Beauty and the triumph of the Cause of God in the face of opposition from the most powerful enemies.

When the Master later expressed His intention to move from New York to Dublin [in New Hampshire], the friends were stirred by emotion and excitement. He said:

My weakened condition and excessive work hamper me, otherwise many extraordinary souls would have arisen among these friends. As long as such souls do not arise, the real object will not have been accomplished. A certain amount of enthusiasm and ability can be discerned among them, it is other persons who are to arise.

He then mentioned the names of Mullá Hasan and Mullá ‘Abdu’l-Latíf, saying:

They were deputized by the mujtahid to see the Blessed Beauty in Mázandarán. The moment they approached Him, they were transformed and became a new creation, not seeking rest for a moment whether by day or night. After undergoing great suffering and persecutions in Mashhad, Mullá ‘Abdu’l-Latíf sacrificed his life in the field of martyrdom and hastened to the Abhá Kingdom. Similarly, a blind Indian Shaykh attained the presence of Bahá’u’lláh in Mázindarán and danced and sang ecstatically from night till morn. Thus are people required to arise for the Cause of God. Such are the people who are worthy of the field of service and sacrifice.

In the evening the Master spoke on the importance of unity and amity among the friends, on the composition and decomposition of elements, and on the existence and disappearance of matter. 4

Talk at All Souls Unitarian Church, Fourth Avenue and Twentieth Street, New York, 14 July 1912 5

Another cause of dissension and disagreement is the fact that religion has been pronounced at variance with science. Between scientists and the followers of religion there has always been controversy and strife for the reason that the latter have proclaimed religion superior in authority to science and considered scientific announcement opposed to the teachings of religion. Bahá’u’lláh declared that religion is in complete harmony with science and reason. If religious belief and doctrine is at variance with reason, it proceeds from the limited mind of man and not from God; therefore, it is unworthy of belief and not deserving of attention; the heart finds no rest in it, and real faith is impossible. How can man believe that which he knows to be opposed to reason? Is this possible? Can the heart accept that which reason denies? Reason is the first faculty of man, and the religion of God is in harmony with it. Bahá’u’lláh has removed this form of dissension and discord from among mankind and reconciled science with religion by revealing the pure teachings of the divine reality. This accomplishment is specialized to Him in this Day.

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

“I desire for you that which I desire for My own daughters, Tuba and Ruha”

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

July 18, 1912


  1. Sockett, Robert. “‘Bind Ye the Broken With the Hands of Justice.’” 239 Days in America, 18 July 2012, https://239days.com/2012/07/18/with-the-hands-of-justice/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 111-113.
  3. “The Persian Prophet” (editorial), The Independent, 73 (July 18, 1912), 159-60.
  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=5#section116
  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, 231. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/16#579448233

239 Days in America, Day 47: May 27, 1912 | New York

‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Journey So Far 1

IT’S HARD TO BELIEVE that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has been in America for just a month-and-a-half. We thought we’d take this opportunity to recap a few highlights from the journey …

Monday, May 27, 1912 2

‘More than a thousand people assembled at the Metropolitan Temple in the afternoon to hear the Master. Dr Hill, one of the ministers previously mentioned, stood and said:

“We are honored at this occasion by the presence of a distinguished guest who is the representative of universal peace. His fame has spread throughout the East and the West. Humanity has reaped great benefits from His teachings. Such an august personage deserves a genuine and sincere reception. Past ages necessitated the formation of nations but the present time requires a unity among the existing nations. I am greatly honored to introduce you to the founder and promoter of this universal peace and harmony.”

Mr Frederick Lynch, the author of the book International Peace 3 and an active member of the peace movement, stood and said:

“Since the arrival of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in America, I have had the honor of hearing and meeting Him several times; I have read with great interest His speeches and addresses in the newspapers. My ardent wish is that I may see here, too, the great impact of His teachings and the influence of His manifest signs. I was present at the Peace Conference at Lake Mohonk and had the pleasure of listening to the most remarkable address given there. The principles of His teachings, as given in that address, are the oneness of humanity, universal peace and the unity of religions. All His talks vibrate with the spirit of these principles and their influence is felt by all. How I welcome this dear person, whose presence has inspired the minds and hearts of the Americans! He receives inspiration from the breaths of the Holy Spirit. His spirit is infinite, unlimited and eternal. I am delighted to have been invited to this great occasion and to have the opportunity publicly to express my heartfelt testimony.

’ Abdu’l-Bahá then stood and spoke on the subject of the Fatherhood of God and the oneness of humanity. The greatest proof of the majesty and power of the Covenant of God was the talk given by Rabbi Silverman, which followed the Master’s talk. Previously he had been opposed to the Cause and argued against it. But from the moment he came into the presence of the Master he was transformed and became entirely humble. Rabbi Silverman said:

“We have seen today the light with our own eyes. We are accustomed to seeing the sun rise from the East so we no longer regard it as a miracle. Spiritual light, too, has always shone from the East upon the West. The world is in need of this light, and we, too, are in need of this life-giving light. The fountainhead of this light has today spoken to us. This great personage, with a pure heart and chaste spirit, has attracted the hearts of the Americans and has made them His captivating lovers. His love and teachings have made a great impression upon the hearts and minds. The outward forms of religions are like shells, while the teachings and love are like unto the kernel. We need the shell so that the kernel may be protected. O people, distinguish between the shell and the kernel, the reality and the form. As stated by this respected prophet, ‘We must not err in distinguishing the light from the lamp.

Talk at Reception at Metropolitan Temple, Seventh Avenue and Fourteenth Street, New York 4

Praise be to God! The springtime of God is at hand. This century is, verily, the spring season. The world of mind and kingdom of soul have become fresh and verdant by its bestowals. It has resuscitated the whole realm of existence. On one hand, the lights of reality are shining; on the other, the clouds of divine mercy are pouring down the fullness of heavenly bounty. Wonderful material progress is evident, and great spiritual discoveries are being made. Truly, this can be called the miracle of centuries, for it is replete with manifestations of the miraculous. The time has come when all mankind shall be united, when all races shall be loyal to one fatherland, all religions become one religion, and racial and religious bias pass away. It is a day in which the oneness of humankind shall uplift its standard and international peace, like the true morning, flood the world with its light. Therefore, we offer supplications to God, asking Him to dispel these gloomy clouds and uproot these imitations in order that the East and West may become radiant with love and unity, that the nations of the world shall embrace each other and the ideal spiritual brotherhood illumine the world like the glorious sun of the high heavens. This is our hope, our wish and desire. We pray that through the bounty and grace of God we may attain thereto. I am very happy to be present at this meeting which has innate radiance, intelligence, perception and longing to investigate reality. Such meetings are the glory of the world of mankind. I ask the blessing of God in your behalf.

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

Mahmud: May 27 – His presence has inspired the minds and hearts of the Americans!

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

May 27, 1912


  1. Sockett, Robert. “‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Journey So Far.” 239 Days in America, 27 May 2012, http://stagingtwo39.wpengine.com/2012/05/27/the-journey-so-far/.
  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=3#section64.
  3. Lynch, Frederick Henry. The Peace Problem; the Task of the Twentieth Century. New York, Revell, 1911. http://archive.org/details/cu31924007375086.
  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, 153. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/11#180977470.

239 Days in America, Day 36: May 16, 1912 | Lake Mohonk

The Amazing Race 1

THE GOOD DOCTOR LEAPT onto the caboose of the moving freight train, his hands gripping the steel pole attached to the carriage. Air whipped through his clothing and the trees blurred. Nobody believed he could do it. It was nine o’clock in the evening and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s entourage was set to leave Lake Mohonk at ten o’clock the following morning. This gave Dr. Zia Bagdadi exactly thirteen hours to travel from Lake Mohonk to New York and back again.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá kept several beautiful Persian carpets in his New York apartment. On the final evening of the Lake Mohonk Peace Conference he decided to make a gift of one of them to Mr. Albert Smiley, the conference’s president. Only one thing stood in his way: one hundred and eighty miles. Still, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá entrusted Dr. Bagdadi to the task….

New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts 2

The secretary of the International Peace Society, in bidding ‘Abdu’l-Bahá goodbye, said he was sorry religion could not be included in the organization since its members included Protestants, Catholics, Jews, and others, and all would object if others were favored. Abdu’l-Bahá replied,

Your members may be compared to beams of different metals and you are trying to unite them as. You would tie these fingers together with a string. See, no matter how you tie them, still they remain separate. But the only way to make theses metals into one alloy, is to put them into a crucible and apply intense heat to melt them all. For our melting-pot, we use the fire of the love of God. 3

Talk at Earl Hall, Columbia University, New York, 19 April 1912

All the divine Manifestations have proclaimed the oneness of God and the unity of mankind. They have taught that men should love and mutually help each other in order that they might progress. Now if this conception of religion be true, its essential principle is the oneness of humanity. The fundamental truth of the Manifestations is peace. This underlies all religion, all justice. The divine purpose is that men should live in unity, concord and agreement and should love one another. Consider the virtues of the human world and realize that the oneness of humanity is the primary foundation of them all. Read the Gospel and the other Holy Books. You will find their fundamentals are one and the same. Therefore, unity is the essential truth of religion and, when so understood, embraces all the virtues of the human world. Praise be to God! This knowledge has been spread, eyes have been opened, and ears have become attentive. Therefore, we must endeavor to promulgate and practice the religion of God which has been founded by all the Prophets. And the religion of God is absolute love and unity. 4

Thursday, May 16, 1912 5

Photographs of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá were taken together with His party. Many dignitaries visited Him and were attracted and ignited by His love. He then expressed His intention to return to New York. The president of the conference was reluctant for Him to leave. The Master replied, ‘As I have to see numerous people and speak to many audiences, I must leave.’ The president remained in the presence of the Master with great reverence until He left. The Beloved presented the president with a good quality Persian carpet, for which he was very thankful.

When the Master returned to New York, the friends came to see Him. They were delighted to hear that so many at the conference were attracted and paid attention to the Master’s address. A few days later the talks He had given at the conference were published in a New York newspaper and thus provided guidance to many.

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

Mahmud: May 16 — Leaving Mohonk for New York


  1. Jones, Caitlin Shayda. “The Amazing Race.” 239 Days in America, May 16, 2012. https://239days.com/2012/05/16/the-amazing-race/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 69.
  3. Zia Bagdadi, “Abdu’l-Bahá’ in America,” Star of the West, 19, no. 6 (Sept. 1928), 181-182.
  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, 32. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/2#018105204
  5. ’Abdu’l-Bahá, and Mirza Mahmud-i-Zarqani. Mahmúd’s Diary: The Diary of Mírzá Mahmúd-i-Zarqání Chronicling ’Abdu’l-Bahá’s Journey to America. Edited by Shirley Macias. Translated by Mohi Sobhani. Oxford: George Ronald, 1998. https://bahai-library.com/zarqani_mahmuds_diary&chapter=3#section53.

239 Days in America, Day 35: May 15, 1912 | Lake Mohonk

The Parliament of Rats 1

Once upon a time, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá narrated, the rats and mice held an important conference, the subject of which was to make peace with the cat. The cat, [William] Langland wrote, “came whenever he liked and leapt on them easily and seized them at his will, and played with them perilously and batted them about.”

“A rat of renown, most eloquent of speech,” Langland continues, “presented an excellent remedy to them all. ‘I have seen men in the city of London wearing bright necklaces around their necks, and some craftily worked collars. They go about unleashed both in warren and wasteland wherever they like, and elsewhere at other times, as I hear tell. Were there a bell on their necklace, by Jesus, it seems to me that men might know where they were and run away.’ ”

“ ‘And so,’ ” said the rat, “ ‘reason tells me to buy a bell of brass or bright silver and fasten it on a collar for our common good and hang it on the cat’s neck; then we can hear whether he rides, rests, or roams about to play. If he wishes to amuse himself, then we can appear in his presence, and if he is angry, we can be wary and shun his way.’ ”

This seemed like an excellent plan, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá explained, until the question arose as to who should undertake the dangerous job of belling the cat. None of the rats liked the idea and the mice thought they were altogether too weak. So the conference broke up in confusion.

“Everyone laughed,” [Howard Colby] Ives tells, “‘Abdu’l-Bahá with them. After a short pause he added that that is much like these Peace Conferences. Many words, but no one is likely to approach the question of who will bell the Czar of Russia, the Emperor of Germany, the President of France and the Emperor of Japan.”

“Faces were now more grave,” Ives wrote.

New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts 2

On May 15 ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’ walked around the beautiful grounds with a group of young people following Him. “‘It is very easy,’” He told them, “‘to come here, camp near this beautiful lake, on these charming hills, far away from everybody and deliver speeches on Universal Peace. These ideas should be spread and put in action over there, (Europe) not here in the world’s most peaceful corner.’” 3

Talk at Church of the Ascension, Fifth Avenue and Tenth Street, New York, 14 April 1912

Today the world of humanity is in need of international unity and conciliation. To establish these great fundamental principles a propelling power is needed. It is self-evident that the unity of the human world and the Most Great Peace cannot be accomplished through material means. They cannot be established through political power, for the political interests of nations are various and the policies of peoples are divergent and conflicting. They cannot be founded through racial or patriotic power, for these are human powers, selfish and weak. The very nature of racial differences and patriotic prejudices prevents the realization of this unity and agreement. Therefore, it is evidenced that the promotion of the oneness of the kingdom of humanity, which is the essence of the teachings of all the Manifestations of God, is impossible except through the divine power and breaths of the Holy Spirit. Other powers are too weak and are incapable of accomplishing this.

For man 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. Two wings are essential. Therefore, no matter how much material civilization advances, it cannot attain to perfection except through the uplift of spiritual civilization.

All the Prophets have come to promote divine bestowals, to found the spiritual civilization and teach the principles of morality. Therefore, we must strive with all our powers so that spiritual influences may gain the victory. For material forces have attacked mankind. The world of humanity is submerged in a sea of materialism. The rays of the Sun of Reality are seen but dimly and darkly through opaque glasses. The penetrative power of the divine bounty is not fully manifest. 4

Wednesday, May 15, 1912 5

The Master remained at Lake Mohonk. Many came into His presence and to each He taught the Cause of God, answering their questions in the way best suited to the understanding of the listener. Concerning the peace conference, He related a story:

Once I wrote to the Persian friends that if the workers of peace conferences do not apply in their own lives what they advocate, they are like those wine sellers who convene and make emphatic speeches regarding the harmfulness of wine and proposing its prohibition. But when they go out of the meeting, they begin again to sell wine and to do what they were doing in the past. Therefore it is necessary for the power of execution and effect to spiritually penetrate the body of the world.

The Master gave two addresses at this conference. At the request of the president, He wrote in detail explanations of the divine questions, which were to be published in a book recording the proceedings of the conference. A copy of the other address which He gave on the first evening was written by us.

At Lake Mohonk Conference — The Oneness of the Reality of Humankind 6

When we consider history, we find that civilization is progressing, but in this century its progress cannot be compared with that of past centuries. This is the century of light and of bounty. In the past, the unity of patriotism, the unity of nations and religions was established; but in this century, the oneness of the world of humanity is established; hence this century is greater than the past.

Sixty years ago Asia was in great turmoil of wars; England, Russia, Turkey and France went to war. There were wars in Persia, wars among the religions and wars between nations, especially in Persia on account of the existence of the different nationalities, such as Turks, Persians, Arabs and Kurds, and the various religions, namely, Mohammedan, Jewish, Christian and Zoroastrian. Among these different religions the greatest enmity and rancor were extant.

At such a time as this, His Holiness, Baha’u’llah appeared. He proclaimed the oneness of the world of humanity and the greatest peace. He wrote to all the kings and addressed epistles to all the religionists of Persia, and all the souls who accepted his platform and emulated and followed his teachings — whether Christians, Mohammedans, Jews or Zoroastrians — were united and attained the greatest amity and unity. Through those teachings, the Kurd, the Arab, the Persian and the Turk freed themselves from the prejudice of race and were people agreed to an extent which is indescribable, indeed, in such a manner, that were you to enter their meeting you could not distinguish between the Persian, the Christian, the Arab or the Turk, and you would not observe any differences of religious opinion. Among those people the utmost of love and oneness of peace now obtain, for the great teachings of Baha’o’llah make for the oneness of the world and for humanity, universal peace and arbitration. The following are a few of the principles of Baha’u’llah.

First, that all must investigate reality. It is incumbent on all nations to investigate truth. For Baha’u’llah declares that the foundations of the divine religion are one and that one is reality and reality is not multiple but indivisible. But the imitations which have come in, being different in character, have caused divisions and separations. If we forsake the imitations and revert to the original foundations of the divine religion, we shall find that the foundations are that reality which is one and not multiple.

The second principle of Baha’u’llah is the oneness of human kind. All humanity belongs to one family, inhabiting the same globe; all are beneath the providence of God, God has created all and has nurtured all and provideth for all and preserveth all. This is the policy of God. God is kind to all and why should we be unkind? Is there any policy wiser and better than God’s policy? No matter how keen the human mind may be, it cannot surpass the policy of God. The policy of God is perfect and we must follow it and not our own self-interest.

The third teaching of Baha’u’llah is that religion and science are twins. If a religious question be not in accordance with science, it is imagination. All religious matter must correspond with science, every question which meets the criterion of science shall be acceptable, and those questions which do not come to the standard of science are not to be given credence.

The fourth teaching of Baha’u’llah is that religion should be the one bond which shall unite society, which shall cement together the various peoples, which shall cause a unity among all the creeds. If religion should be productive of strife and division, if it should cause bloodshed and war and rapine, irreligion is preferable to religion. Religion was meant to be a bond of love among mankind.

The fifth principle is that racial bias, religious prejudice, patriotic prejudice, political prejudice, are the destroyers of the very foundations of the body politic. All humanity is one in kind, the surface of the earth one home, and the foundations of the divine religions one. All the wars which have taken place since the inception of human history have emanated either from religious prejudice, racial prejudice, patriotic bias or political greed and interest. As long as these prejudices last, so long will the foundations of humanity tremble. When such prejudices pass away the world will at last find peace.

The sixth principle of Baha’u’llah is equality between mankind and womankind. Woman and man are both human and both the manifestations of God’s grace. God has created man and has endowed him with knowledge and intelligence. The difference which now exists between man and woman is only a difference of education, and when woman shall receive the same education no doubt her equality with man shall become a reality. The world of humanity is composed of two organizations — the male and the female. If one organ be defective, that defect will affect the other. Until perfect strength shall obtain in both, and woman shall attain equality with man, the happiness of humanity will not be insured.

The seventh principle concerns the readjustment of the economic questions in the social body. The rich now enjoy the greatest luxury, whereas the poor are in abject misery. Certain laws must be made whereby the rich cannot become over-rich and the poor shall not starve, both rich and poor enjoying the comforts according to their respective deserts.

The eighth principle of Baha’u’llah is that philosophy sufficeth not and is not conducive to the absolute happiness of mankind. Great philosophers have been capable of educating themselves, or a few who followed them, but generally education, ethical education, they could not endow. Therefore, the world of humanity is evermore in need of the breath of the Holy Spirit. The greatest peace will not be realized without the power of the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit of God which insures the safety of humanity, for human thoughts differ, human susceptibilities differ. You cannot make the susceptibilities of all humanity one except through the common channel of the Holy Spirit. 7

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

Mahmud: May 15 — Speaking at Lake Mohonk


  1. Menon, Jonathan. “The Parliament of Rats.” 239 Days in America, May 15, 2012. https://239days.com/2012/05/15/the-conference-of-the-mice/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 67-68.
  3. Zia Bagdadi, “Abdu’l-Bahá’ in America,” Star of the West, 19, no. 6 (Sept. 1928), 181.
  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, 11-12. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/2#616248837
  5. ’Abdu’l-Bahá, and Mirza Mahmud-i-Zarqani. Mahmúd’s Diary: The Diary of Mírzá Mahmúd-i-Zarqání Chronicling ’Abdu’l-Bahá’s Journey to America. Edited by Shirley Macias. Translated by Mohi Sobhani. Oxford: George Ronald, 1998. https://bahai-library.com/zarqani_mahmuds_diary&chapter=3#section52.
  6. Talks of ’Abdu’l-Baha. “Talks of ’Abdu’l-Baha: At Lake Mohonk Conference—The Oneness of the Reality of Humankind,” April 25, 2012. https://centerofcovenanttalks.blogspot.com/2012/04/abdul-bahas-address-at-lake-mohonk.html.
  7. “Report of the Eight Annual Lake Mohonk Conference on International Arbitration, May 15-17, 1912.” Mohonk Lake, NY: Lake Mohonk Conference on International Arbitration, 1912, 42-44. https://books.google.com/books?id=g2kNAAAAYAAJ&lpg=PA42&ots=EkL03bcERq&pg=PA42&hl=en#v=onepage&q&f=false.

239 Days in America, Day 32: May 12, 1912 | New Jersey

The Collapse of the Long Peace 1

[On February 8, 1904] the Imperial Japanese Navy under Admiral Togo launched a surprise attack on Russia’s Far East Fleet at Port Arthur, in Manchuria, three hours before declaring war. The Czar was shocked at such behavior, and sent armies across the Trans-Siberian Railway to reassert his power. The war raged on land and sea for more than a year, sending more than 150,000 men to their deaths. Finally, the upstart Japanese smashed Russia’s mighty Baltic Fleet at the Tsushima Straits, south of Vladivostok, in the early morning hours of May 28, 1905. 2

Shortly afterwards in ‘Akká, a group of European visitors asked ‘Abdu’l-Bahá if Russia could have avoided the calamitous war. Yes, they could have, he said. Russia’s peace initiative at The Hague had generated substantial goodwill, but they had failed to leverage it. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá took out a world map and described the Russian frontiers, the movements of the naval battle groups, and the roles of the ships in each, pointing out how Russia could have retreated while buying time to coordinate international pressure on Japan for a ceasefire. He proceeded to explain to his visitors how a comprehensive peace plan could have been put in place.

New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts 3

After prayer and tea ‘Abdu’l-Bahá took the ferry to New Jersey and then caught a train for Montclair. The Reverend Edgar S. Wiers introduced Him to the congregation of Unity Church, saying:

“We need some great impelling message of peace … class is set against class. The employer and the employee, the capitalist and wage earner confront each other with hatred … Our own attitude of the white race toward the negro … and the red men … is anything but that which is indicated in our religion or any religion … We need some great word that will bring us to … brotherhood, unity and love.

“ … Just when we need the message of spiritual truth … this new religion has appeared… One of the successions of men who has brought forward this religion — Abdul-Baha will speak to us now … 4

Talk at Unity Church, Montclair, New Jersey 5

It is a self-evident fact that phenomenal existence can never grasp nor comprehend the ancient and essential Reality. Utter weakness cannot understand absolute strength. When we view the world of creation, we discover differences in degree which make it impossible for the lower to comprehend the higher. For example, the mineral kingdom, no matter how much it may advance, can never comprehend the phenomena of the vegetable kingdom. Whatever development the vegetable may attain, it can have no message from nor come in touch with the kingdom of the animal. However perfect may be the growth of a tree, it cannot realize the sensation of sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch; these are beyond its limitation. Although it is the possessor of existence in the world of creation, a tree, nevertheless, has no knowledge of the superior degree of the animal kingdom. Likewise, no matter how great the advancement of the animal, it can have no idea of the human plane, no knowledge of intellect and spirit. Difference in degree is an obstacle to this comprehension. A lower degree cannot comprehend a higher although all are in the same world of creation—whether mineral, vegetable or animal. Degree is the barrier and limitation. In the human plane of existence we can say we have knowledge of a vegetable, its qualities and product; but the vegetable has no knowledge or comprehension whatever of us. No matter how near perfection this rose may advance in its own sphere, it can never possess hearing and sight. Inasmuch as in the creational world, which is phenomenal, difference of degree is an obstacle or hindrance to comprehension, how can the human being, which is a created exigency, comprehend the ancient divine Reality, which is essential? This is impossible because the reality of Divinity is sanctified beyond the comprehension of the created being, man.

Furthermore, that which man can grasp is finite to man, and man to it is as infinite. Is it possible then for the reality of Divinity to be finite and the human creature infinite? On the contrary, the reverse is true; the human is finite while the essence of Divinity is infinite. Whatever comes within the sphere of human comprehension must be limited and finite. As the essence of Divinity transcends the comprehension of man, therefore God brings forth certain Manifestations of the divine Reality upon Whom He bestows heavenly effulgences in order that They may be intermediaries between humanity and Himself. These holy Manifestations or Prophets of God are as mirrors which have acquired illumination from the Sun of Truth, but the Sun does not descend from its high zenith and does not effect entrance within the mirror. In truth, this mirror has attained complete polish and purity until the utmost capacity of reflection has been developed in it; therefore, the Sun of Reality with its fullest effulgence and splendor is revealed therein. These mirrors are earthly, whereas the reality of Divinity is in its highest apogee. Although its lights are shining and its heat is manifest in them, although these mirrors are telling their story of its effulgence, the Sun, nevertheless, remains in its own lofty station; it does not descend; it does not effect entrance, because it is holy and sanctified.

Sunday, May 12, 1912 6

In the morning, after prayers, the Master had tea and remarked that ‘Although we have not had sufficient rest yet we have to go to Montclair today to speak at the Unity Church there.’

He left with His companions, took a ferry for New Jersey and later boarded a train for Montclair. After an hour’s journey, we arrived at the home of Mr [Charles] Edsall, through whom the rector of the church had invited the Master. After greeting the friends, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá went to the church where the rector, Dr Edgar S. Wiers, was waiting for Him at the entrance. He took the Master’s hand most reverently and accompanied Him to the pulpit, as well as showing us to our seats. After the service, he introduced the ‘Great Mystery of God’ saying, ‘Today we shall read from the New Gospel, that is, from the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh instead of the Bible.’ The minister then read a few selections from previously translated Tablets and said:

“A few years ago a monument was erected in Genoa, Italy. Its purpose was to commemorate the memory of a Protestant martyred by the Catholics through religious prejudice. On the statue was engraved these wise words, ‘The greatest achievements of the last centuries have been the elimination of religious prejudice and the extension of human thought.’ But now I say that these words have not been fully realized and prejudice continues to hold its sway to a degree.

“Now there comes a matchless Cause which does away with all prejudices. It is the new teaching of the Bahá’í Faith, which has stirred the religions of the world and has sacrificed some twenty thousand persons to root out prejudice. The East has always been the dawning-point of divine religions. That land is the mother of all religions. The West is in extreme need of such peace because of its excessive armaments and its many wars.

“Although it has spread only recently to the West, the Bahá’í Cause will erelong encompass the entire hemisphere. And now from the leader of this mighty Cause you will hear an important message. It is truly our good fortune that this holy man is journeying in many parts of the world and has now come to this church to deliver the news of the great peace to us. I am greatly honored to introduce His Holiness ‘Abdu’l-Bahá ‘Abbás and to say that He is one of the great prophets of the world and one of the chosen ones of God.

After this introduction the Master stood up and the entire congregation, out of respect, immediately rose and remained standing until He bade them be seated with a wave of His hand. He spoke in a melodious and eloquent voice, beginning His speech by discussing the oneness of God and His Holy Manifestations and concluding with the statement that in every age the Sun of Truth appears within a sign of the zodiac. At the end He chanted a very touching prayer. As at every such meeting, the effect of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s talk had to be seen, for it is difficult to describe.

As ‘Abdu’l-Bahá left the church, many surrounded Him and shook His hand, each one attracted, each heart full of eagerness, each soul inclined towards the Master and every eye turned towards Him, each supplicating and yearning for the confirmations of the Kingdom. Not one mind was bereft of eagerness and no heart failed to be immersed in the sea of joy.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá returned to Mr Edsall’s home where several Bahá’ís and seekers had gathered, including the minister and his wife, to have lunch with Him. All were overjoyed to be with Him. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was exceedingly happy and the gathering became the envy of heaven.

After lunch and a little rest, another group came to visit ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and another meeting was held with eagerness and excitement. The Master spoke with animation, encouraging the friends and guiding the true seekers. Before He left, the minister brought out the church’s guest book, requesting that the Master write a prayer in His own hand. He do so at once:

“He is God! O Lord! O Pure One! Thanks be to Thee that, traversing mountains and deserts and crossing the great ocean we were enabled to reach this country and utter Thy Name and manifest Thy signs in these regions. Even in this church we have raised our voice to Thy Kingdom like unto Elijah. O God! Attract the members of this church to Thy beauty, protect and shield them in Thine own shelter and bless them.

Signed ‘A ‘A

Time passed so happily that the Master promised the friends in Montclair a second visit. He then returned to New York.

In the evening ‘Abdu’l-Bahá went to the Grace Methodist Church in New York to speak to the public meeting of the Peace Forum. He spoke on the purpose of the Prophets of God, the peace and unity of humankind and the coming of Bahá’u’lláh who would establish and promote these divinely-ordained teachings. His talk ignited such a fire in the listeners’ hearts that all became as moths with scorched wings. In this meeting, too, the members of the audience, with one accord, stood when the Master appeared before them, which seemed extraordinary to everyone. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá gave this address

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

Mahmud: May 12: Unity Church, Montclair; Grace Methodist Church, NYC


  1. Menon, Jonathan. “The Collapse of the Long Peace.” 239 Days in America, May 12, 2012. https://239days.com/2012/05/12/russias-pearl-harbor/.
  2. Liulevicius, Vejas Gabriel. “The Causes of the Russo-Japanese War: From Imperialism to War.” The Great Courses Daily (blog), November 2, 2020. https://www.thegreatcoursesdaily.com/the-causes-of-the-russo-japanese-war-from-imperialism-to-war/.
  3. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 66.
  4. ’Abdu’l-Bahá, and Edgar S. Wiers. “Abdul-Baha at Unity Church, Montclair New Jersey (Rev. Edgar S. Wiers, Pastor), Sunday, May 12, 1912, 11 A. M.” Star of the West, 3, no. 7 (July 13, 1912), 12-13.
  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, 113-115. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/7#650792604
  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=3#section49.

239 Days in America, Day 28: May 08, 1912 | Washington, D.C.

Juliet Thompson’s Inside View 1

THE YOUNG JAPANESE CHERRY trees on the northern shore of the Tidal Basin bloomed in coral pink. Washington in spring is a treat to the eyes of a painter. Juliet Thompson 2 was born nearby, and although she has lived in Paris and New York she has returned — not to paint it, but to follow ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.

She met ‘Abdu’l-Bahá for the first time in ‘Akká in 1909, then was drawn to Thonon-les-Bains, France, when he was there in 1911, and now back to Washington. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá holds Juliet in high regard, not for her skill as a painter, (when she was 24, the New York Times called her “one of the most promising young artists of the day”), but for her sincerity. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá observed of her: “Everybody is your friend.”

…[On] May 7, 1912, Juliet started to write her account of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s first trip to Washington. Her diary will become one of the most important historical sources about ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s journey across America. 3

Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Washington, D.C.

On Wednesday, May 8, after an early morning tea, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá packed, and caught the 9:00 A.M. train for a second visit to Washington, D.C. His companions begged Him to take a special compartment or a berth on the train; but He refused saying, “‘I spend money only to help people and to serve the Cause of God; and I have never liked distinctions since my childhood.’”

After a twelve-hour train ride they arrived in Washington; but this time ‘Abdu’l-Bahá refused Mrs. Parsons’ invitation to stay in her home. Instead He rented an apartment at 1340 Harvard Street. From there He went to the Parsons’ home where there was an assemblage of people waiting for Him. 4

Talk at Hotel Schenley, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 7 May 1912

Wherever His oppressors sent Him, He hoisted the standard of the oneness of the world of humanity and promulgated the principles of the unity of mankind. Some of these principles are as follows. First, it is incumbent upon all mankind to investigate truth. If such investigation be made, all should agree and be united, for truth or reality is not multiple; it is not divisible. The different religions have one truth underlying them; therefore, their reality is one. 5

The second principle or teaching of Bahá’u’lláh is the proclamation of the oneness of the world of humanity—that all are servants of God and belong to one family; that God has created all and, therefore, His bestowals are universal; and that His providence, training, sustenance and loving-kindness surround all mankind.

This is the divine policy, and it is impossible for man to lay the foundation of a better plan and policy than that which God has instituted. Therefore, we must recognize and assist the purpose of the glorious Lord. Inasmuch as God is kind and loving to all, why should we be unkind? As this human world is one household, why should its members be occupied with animosity and contention? Therefore, humanity must be looked upon with the eye of equal estimate and in the same attitude of love. The noblest of men is he who serves humankind, and he is nearest the threshold of God who is the least of His servants. The glory and majesty of man are dependent upon his servitude to his fellow creatures and not upon the exercise of hostility and hatred.

The third principle or teaching of Bahá’u’lláh is the oneness of religion and science. Any religious belief which is not conformable with scientific proof and investigation is superstition, for true science is reason and reality, and religion is essentially reality and pure reason; therefore, the two must correspond. Religious teaching which is at variance with science and reason is human invention and imagination unworthy of acceptance, for the antithesis and opposite of knowledge is superstition born of the ignorance of man. If we say religion is opposed to science, we lack knowledge of either true science or true religion, for both are founded upon the premises and conclusions of reason, and both must bear its test. 6

Wednesday, May 8, 1912 7

Early in the morning, as the Master was having tea, preparations were underway to continue our journey. We received copies of some of the newspapers carrying accounts of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s visit and His explanations of the most intricate problems of life and the influence that the Cause had had in that city. Every day the call of the Cause of God was awakening the inhabitants of Cleveland and Pittsburgh who had been asleep on the bed of negligence and this was increasingly reported.

The time for the Peace Congress, which the Master had promised to attend, was fast approaching. He moved like lightning from place to place and at each He tore asunder the veils of vain imaginings. In a very short time He accomplished many great tasks. Because the meetings in these cities had been scheduled in advance, several were held in one day and thousands of people were attracted and transformed by Him.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá left Pittsburgh at 9:00 a.m. and at 9:00 p.m. the friends in Washington DC, who were anxiously awaiting His arrival at the railway station, were overjoyed to see Him. At every stop He had been shown such great respect that it was like the bowing and bending of the cypress trees, demonstrating the power of the spiritual springtime and the tranquillity and flourishing of the garden of humanity. After lunch on the train, some of the friends pleaded with Him to secure a cabin that He might sleep and get some rest. He replied: ‘I make certain expenditures only to help people and to serve the Cause of God; and since my childhood I have never liked distinctions.’ He spoke for some time on this subject and warned us against making such personal distinctions.

When the Master arrived in Washington DC He was driven to a house especially rented for Him at [1340] Harvard Street, which was near Mrs Parsons’s home. Joining us today were Dr Zia Bagdadi of Chicago, the son of Muhammad Mustafa Bagdadi, and Mírzá Ahmad Sohrab of Washington DC, both of whom were given the tasks of translating and writing.

The Master spoke today about the meaning of the prophecies and signs of the Day of the Manifestation of God:

“Through their ignorance of these meanings people have always remained veiled from the manifestations of the bounties of Him Who is the Causer of Causes. Although in the divine scriptures mention is made of a heaven and an earth other than the physical heaven and earth, yet they have interpreted these signs literally and have deprived themselves of spiritual worlds and divine knowledge.”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá then went to Mrs Parsons’s home where He spoke about the teachings on economics to the friends, who were extremely pleased with His explanation.

  1. Jones, Caitlin Shayda. “Juliet Thompson’s Inside View.” 239 Days in America, May 8, 2012. https://239days.com/2012/05/08/juliet-thompsons-washington/.
  2. Ahdieh, Hussein. “Juliet Thompson: Champion of the Baha’i Faith in New York City.” Bahá’í Blog, 26 May 2021, https://www.bahaiblog.net/2021/05/juliet-thompson-champion-of-the-bahai-faith-in-new-york-city/.
  3. Thompson, Juliet. The Diary of Juliet Thompson. Edited by Marzieh Gail. 1st ed. 1947. Reprint, Los Angeles: Kalimát Press, 1983. https://bahai-library.com/thompsondiary.
  4. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 64.
  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, 105-106. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/7#173120438
  6. 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, 106-107. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/7#489305200
  7. ’Abdu’l-Bahá, and Mirza Mahmud-i-Zarqani. Mahmúd’s Diary: The Diary of Mírzá Mahmúd-i-Zarqání Chronicling ’Abdu’l-Bahá’s Journey to America. Edited by Shirley Macias. Translated by Mohi Sobhani. Oxford: George Ronald, 1998. https://bahai-library.com/zarqani_mahmuds_diary&chapter=3#section45.

239 Days in America, Day 26: May 06, 1912 | Cleveland

The Ultimate Taboo 1

‘Abdu’l-Bahá arrived at Cleveland’s Union Station on the New York Central train from Chicago at 4:20 p.m. on May 7 [May 6 – ed.], 1912. During the past two weeks, Americans had learned of his battle against the ideologies of racial prejudice from major Washington newspapers and the Chicago Defender. But hardly anyone, whether black or white, had any inkling of just how far ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was willing to go.

Reporters and visitors followed him up to his rooms after his evening talk to 200 people at the Hotel Euclid. To an African-American clergyman and a group of about twenty white women sitting in a circle, he broached the most dangerous of all subjects. The Cleveland Plain Dealer, one of Ohio’s biggest newspapers, reported it unvarnished the next morning [May 7]:

“Abdul Baha . . . declared last night for an amalgamation of the white and negro races by intermarriage.” What ‘Abdu’l-Bahá advocated was illegal in twenty-nine of the forty-eight states — but not in Ohio.

Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Washington, D.C.

The friends and reporters met ‘Abdu’l-Bahá at the train station when He arrived at 4:00 P.M. on May 6. He checked into rooms at the Hotel Euclid and talked to the reporters, and an hour later went to Dr. C. M. Swingle’s home to talk to the Bahá’ís.

He returned to the Hotel for a public meeting attended by some five hundred people, many of whom had to stand. Afterward, a number of them, including reporters, followed Him to His rooms and asked Him questions on various subjects, including intermarriage. This latter discussion caused front-page headlines the next day.

The Cleveland News article stated:

WED RACES? SURE …

“Perfect results follow the marriage of black and white races. All men are the progeny of one… They are of different colors, but the follow is nothing.” — Abdu’l-Bahá

“I believe Abdul Baha is absolutely right. It is inevitable that all races will unite. Black and white and yellow will intermarry and make one perfect race. It is the only logical conclusion.” — Mrs. C. M. Swingle. 2

Talk at Euclid Hall, Cleveland, Ohio

This revered American nation presents evidences of greatness and worth. It is my hope that this just government will stand for peace so that warfare may be abolished throughout the world and the standards of national unity and reconciliation be upraised. This is the greatest attainment of the world of humanity. This American nation is equipped and empowered to accomplish that which will adorn the pages of history, to become the envy of the world and be blest in the East and the West for the triumph of its democracy. I pray that this may come to pass, and I ask the blessing of God in behalf of you all. 3

Monday, May 6, 1912 4

‘Abdu’l-Bahá left Chicago for Cleveland in the morning. As He was leaving, Bahá’ís and non-Bahá’ís surrounded Him like moths around a light, their hearts burning with thoughts of separation and tears flowing from their eyes.

The train reached Cleveland in the afternoon. Many friends and newspaper reporters were at the station to welcome Him. The reporters photographed Him with His companions and asked for an interview.

After making arrangements at the Euclid Hotel for His stay, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá gave the reporters permission to visit. He gave them an account of the history and teachings of the Cause. One of them questioned Him about His mission. He replied:

My message is the oneness of humanity and universal peace; the harmony of true science and religion; the equality of rights; the elimination of religious, racial and political prejudices; the truth of all the divine religions; the removal of religious imitations and superstitions; the education of women to such a degree that they may have equal rights with men; the adjustment of the economic condition of all people so that if a rich man enjoys honor and affluence, the poor man may also have a mat to lie on and a house to dwell in; the establishment of spiritual civilization; the reformation of human morals; the unity of all religions, so that when the people of the world recognize the truth of all religions, they may become united since truth is one — if they follow imitation, war and dissension shall remain, because imitations are the cause of differences.

After an hour, He left the hotel for Dr Swingle’s home for a meeting with the Bahá’ís. After He had some tea, He entered a room that was filled to capacity. He spoke to the friends about the prosperity of America and the perfecting of material civilization with spiritual refinement, the rising of the Sun of Truth, the raising of the divine call and spreading the teachings of God. The friends were deeply moved and full of admiration. Through their meeting with Him, they had found new life. At the beginning of the meeting, a photograph was taken of Him with His companions and some of the friends.

In the evening, the auditorium of the Euclid Hotel was full and there was standing room only. About five hundred Bahá’ís and non-Bahá’ís were enchanted by His charm and speech. The meeting began and ended with music. The audience was most appreciative of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s talk on the necessity of religion, the dangers of war and the benefits of love, unity and harmony.

  1. Menon, Jonathan. “The Ultimate Taboo.” 239 Days in America, May 6, 2012. https://239days.com/2012/05/06/the-ultimate-taboo/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 60.
  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, 103. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/6#532038348
  4. ’Abdu’l-Bahá, and Mirza Mahmud-i-Zarqani. Mahmúd’s Diary: The Diary of Mírzá Mahmúd-i-Zarqání Chronicling ’Abdu’l-Bahá’s Journey to America. Edited by Shirley Macias. Translated by Mohi Sobhani. Oxford: George Ronald, 1998. https://bahai-library.com/zarqani_mahmuds_diary&chapter=3#section43.

239 Days in America, Day 24: May 04, 1912 | Chicago

Blame It On Religion 1

IT’S NOT BEEN A month since ‘Abdu’l-Bahá arrived in America, yet he has succeeded in placing himself at the center of virtually all of the nation’s raging debates. He has championed women’s rights. He has challenged whites and blacks to work together. He has argued that, of all nations, America is uniquely capable of leading the world to peace.

He is the unlikeliest of spokesmen: a sixty-eight-year-old Middle-Easterner, recently released from forty years captivity at the hands of the Ottoman Empire, accompanied by an entourage of men wearing fezzes.

But ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has shown that he is entirely at home in America. He converses with ease in the company of scientists, philosophers, businessmen, politicians, and men of religion, whether Christian or Jew.

Racial equality. Social progress. International peace. For ‘Abdu’l-Bahá these matters are fundamentally spiritual in nature. Yet the faith he offers isn’t one of mystical contemplation, though there seems time for that too. As he noted at the temple’s cornerstone ceremony three days ago: spiritual devotion must be manifested in material action.

Chicago

On Saturday, May 4, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spoke to the Theosophists at Northwestern University in Evanston… 2

Talk to Theosophical Society, Northwestern University Hall, Evanston, Illinois

The spiritual blessings of God are greatest. When we were in the mineral kingdom, although we were endowed with certain gifts and powers, they were not to be compared with the blessings of the human kingdom. In the matrix of the mother we were the recipients of endowments and blessings of God, yet these were as nothing compared to the powers and graces bestowed upon us after birth into this human world. Likewise, if we are born from the matrix of this physical and phenomenal environment into the freedom and loftiness of the spiritual life and vision, we shall consider this mortal existence and its blessings as worthless by comparison.

In the spiritual world the divine bestowals are infinite, for in that realm there is neither separation nor disintegration, which characterize the world of material existence. Spiritual existence is absolute immortality, completeness and unchangeable being. Therefore, we must thank God that He has created for us both material blessings and spiritual bestowals. He has given us material gifts and spiritual graces, outer sight to view the lights of the sun and inner vision by which we may perceive the glory of God. 3

Saturday, May 4, 1912 4

As ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s stay in Chicago was drawing to a close, there were numerous meetings and receptions. In the morning some clergymen visited Him in His hotel room. At the usual daily reception, He spoke about the three kingdoms of nature and the need for comprehensive education. He then went to the Plymouth Congregational Church, which was magnificent and most beautifully decorated. Its rector, Dr [Joseph A.] Milburn, had seen the Master several times and was greatly attracted to Him. After the customary service, the rector introduced ‘Abdu’l-Bahá:

“Having heard of the teachings and the peerless qualities of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, I arranged to leave for ‘Akká. Then I was informed that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Himself, was coming to America. Now God has endowed us with a great blessing that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has graced us with His presence here.

He then went on to give a detailed history and teachings of the Cause and introduced the Master as the Herald of Peace and the Son of God, ‘Abbás Effendi.

As the Master approached the pulpit, the congregation rose to their feet, and although they were in church, they greeted Him with prolonged applause and cheers of joy. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá called them to order then spoke about the manifestation of the center of illumination and the Sun of Truth which appears at different times at different points of the zodiac, thus illustrating the renewal of religions and the unity of the Messengers and the Holy Books. At the end of His talk He chanted a prayer in Persian in a melodious voice.

The hearts of the listeners were so attracted that the church seemed to be filled with the Holy Spirit. The people crowded around ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to the extent such that it became difficult for the Master and His companions to leave. Groups of people surrounded Him to shake His hand and to ask for His blessing. The most surprising thing about these meetings was that although most of the people had never before heard of the Bahá’í teachings, they were so attracted and fascinated that they would follow the Master in their cars from one meeting to another.

’ Abdu’l-Bahá had lunch at the home of Dr Forde and after meeting with a few people, He left for the hotel, saying, ‘Let us walk for a while, and then take the tram.’ Our host and some of us suggested that the distance was great and pointed out that Mr Forde’s car was available. At our insistence, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá rode in the car but as it twice punctured its tires, He took the tram.

When ‘Abdu’l-Bahá arrived at the hotel, many people were already waiting for Him. He answered their questions, for which they were filled with gratitude. One person asked him about the future affairs of Asia and the countries in the East. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá gave a detailed answer:

“No progress is possible except through the power of the Holy Spirit and the Cause of God. Each of the Manifestations of God appeared amongst a nation and in a country which outwardly had no means of salvation or progress. But no sooner had those nations come under the shelter of the Cause of God than they excelled all the civilized countries of the world. Today, whichever nation raises the standard of the oneness of humanity and comes under the shelter of this divine power will ultimately lead the whole world.

Question: ‘What is the difference between the Bahá’í religion and the other religions of the world?’

“The foundation of all the religions is one and this foundation is truth. In this respect there is no difference between either the divine religions or their Founders. The subsidiary laws that pertain to the affairs of society differ. These social laws are subject to the demands of time and place, so they are modified in each age.

Question: ‘What are evil and bad qualities?’

There is no evil in the world of existence; rather, evil is the absence of goodness just as darkness is the absence of light.

Speaking of the exigencies of the material world and its creation, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said:

“It [the world of creation] calls for change and transformation. Without change there can be no composition or development. Change and transformation, decomposition and composition produce opposites. In the realm of reality, however, there are no opposites. Consider the world of the sun, which has neither darkness nor east and west. But owing to the exigencies of this world, there is night and day, light and darkness.

After answering these questions, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá went with Mrs [Corinne] True and other friends to a Chicago cemetery to offer prayers for the departed.

In the early evening ‘Abdu’l-Bahá went to the All-Souls Church. A great excitement was also created among the people of this church. His eloquent address, given in sweet and melodious tones, concerned the missions of the Divine Manifestations of God and the peace and unity of humanity. He concluded His talk with a detailed account of the Most Great Manifestation, Bahá’u’lláh, and the influence of His exalted Word.

After members of the audience came to Him to shake His hand and express their thanks and devotion, He went to the home of Dr Melborne [sic], the rector of the Congregational Church. There He gave a most impressive and eloquent talk on the benefits of peace and harmony and the harm caused by war and strife. He discussed the requisites for prosperity and the unity of humankind. It was the last night of His stay and the effect of His words was so deep and far-reaching that it is beyond description.

  1. Sockett, Robert. “Blame It On Religion.” 239 Days in America, May 4, 2012. https://239days.com/2012/05/04/a-man-of-both-faith-and-reason/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 55.
  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, 90. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/4#018271400
  4. ’Abdu’l-Bahá, and Mirza Mahmud-i-Zarqani. Mahmúd’s Diary: The Diary of Mírzá Mahmúd-i-Zarqání Chronicling ’Abdu’l-Bahá’s Journey to America. Edited by Shirley Macias. Translated by Mohi Sobhani. Oxford: George Ronald, 1998. https://bahai-library.com/zarqani_mahmuds_diary&chapter=3#section41.