239 Days in America, Day 158: September 15, 1912 | Kenosha

Documenting a “Luminous Journey” 1

FOR THE PAST FIVE years, Anne Perry and her husband Tim have been working on a feature-length documentary film chronicling ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s 1912 journey through the United States and Canada. I recently had the chance to interview Anne about the film.

Buffalo, Chicago, Kenosha 2

On Sunday, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and his entourage prepared to leave for Kenosha, Wisconsin. They had to transfer trains en route, and somehow missed the second train. The friends were sorry, but ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said, “‘There is wisdom in it.’” They left by the next train, and on the way came upon the wreckage of the train they had missed; it had collided with another train. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said, “’The protection of the Blessed Beauty was with us,’” and then narrated the episode of leaving Alexandria for America, saying, “‘Some of the people proposed that we leave London by the S. S. Titanic, which was wrecked on the same voyage. The Blessed Beauty guided us to come direct.’”

In Kenosha ‘Abdu’l-Bahá talked with the friends first and then addressed the Congregational church.

Sunday, September 15, 1912 3

In the morning ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spoke to Dr [William Frederick] Nutt about Kheiralla in such majestic and forcible tones that both the hearer and the translator trembled with fear. Finally, He said:

He wants me to send for him. As a visitor to this country, the great and lowly of this land come to see me. If his intention be good, he also should come with utmost sincerity.”

The Blessed Being was very tired after His talk.

The Master had an appointment in Kenosha and was preparing to go there. He was accompanied by Dr Nutt, a Japanese believer and these companions. On the way we had to change trains. Although we hurried, we missed the second train. The friends were saddened but ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said, ‘Oh, it matters not. There is a wisdom in this.’ We left by the next train and found that the train we had missed was wrecked and some of the passengers injured. It was clear that it had collided with another train. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said, ‘This, too, was the protection of the Blessed Beauty.’ He then narrated the episode of His leaving Alexandria for America:

“Some proposed that we leave via London by the S. S. Titanic, which sank on the same voyage. The Blessed Beauty guided us to come direct.”

The friends were waiting with their automobiles at the railway station to take the Beloved to the hall of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár. The Master went onto the stage of the auditorium and sat on a chair. It was a divine and joyous festival, the people like heavenly angels of the utmost spirituality, prayerfulness and gratitude. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spoke briefly but effectively about the victorious power and penetrating influence of the Cause of the Blessed Beauty. He then went to a long table that extended the length of the hall which was covered with a variety of multicolored flowers.

As lunch was being served, the young friends, having received ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s permission, sang songs of praise to Him, accompanied by a piano. The Master then gave an account of the persecutions and hardships of Bahá’u’lláh, the time spent in the Most Great Prison, the Turkish revolution and the changes that took place after the establishment of a constitutional form of government in Turkey. ‘God removed all obstacles’, He said, ‘and provided all the necessities, thus enabling ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to reach this place and have the pleasure of seeing you.’

The friends then brought their children to Him to be blessed. He took the children onto His lap one by one and gave them flowers, fruits and sweets. Mr Jackson said:

“Every time we have held a public entertainment for the friends we have left two seats vacant at each end of the table, one in the name of Bahá’u’lláh and the other in that of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. We constantly longed to witness a day such as this. We have now attained our highest hopes and our eyes have seen the light of the Master.”

Another person said, ‘When the clergymen were informed of your arrival, they announced in the churches that this evening the prophet of the East will speak at the Kenosha Congregational Church.’

After lunch ‘Abdu’l-Bahá left the hall of the ‘Mashriqu’l-Adhkár’ and went to Mrs Henry Goodale’s home, where the friends were overjoyed and uplifted to hear Him speak. He said to them, in part:

“The Cause of God has always appeared from the East but it has been more effective in the West. Once Badrí Páshá said in an address, ‘Gentlemen, Westerners have taken everything from us: the sciences, the arts and the laws they took from the East. Now we fear that they may wrest from us the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh, as well.’ Those were his words. But Bahá’u’lláh is neither of the East nor of the West, neither of the South nor of the North. He is holy above all these directions. He is heavenly and godly.”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s address in the evening at the Congregational Church was on the unity of the Manifestations of God, that they are one in essence and that the differences among their followers is due to obsolete imitations. His explanation of the divine teachings gave new life and insights to the audience. After His talk, everyone came to Him to pay Him their respects.

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 …

Fourth, religion must reconcile and be in harmony with science and reason. …

Fifth, prejudice … is the destroyer of human foundations and opposed to the commands of God. …

Sixth, the world of humanity is in need of the confirmations of the Holy Spirit. …

Seventh, the necessity of education for all mankind is evident. …

Eighth, universal peace will be established among the nations of the world by international agreement. …

Ninth, there must be an equality of rights between men and women. …

Tenth, there shall be an equality of rights and prerogatives for all mankind.

Eleventh, one language must be selected as an international medium of speech and communication. …

These are a few of the principles proclaimed by Bahá’u’lláh. He has provided the remedy for the ailments which now afflict the human world, solved the difficult problems of individual, social, national and universal welfare and laid the foundation of divine reality upon which material and spiritual civilization are to be founded throughout the centuries before us.

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

Experiencing the majesty and power of the Center of the Covenant

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

September 15, 1912


  1. Sockett, Robert. “Documenting a ‘Luminous Journey.’” 239 Days in America, 15 Sept. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/09/15/documenting-a-luminous-journey/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 145-146.
  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#section175
  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, 318. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/22#613399229

239 Days in America, Day 27: May 07, 1912 | Pittsburgh

“One of the Deep and Vital Problems of Society” 1

‘Abdu’l-Bahá has been both extremely wealthy and extremely poor. As a child, his family was one of the wealthiest in Persia, and he lived in lavish luxury. But when he was eight years old, they were suddenly stripped of their wealth, lands, and houses, because of their religious beliefs, and left homeless overnight. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s mother, Asiyih, would pull the gold buttons off her clothes and sell them in order to feed her children. Once, all she could offer her eldest son to eat was a handful of flour.

So when ‘Abdu’l-Bahá talks about the moral implications of an unjust economic order, he speaks from experience on both sides of the tracks.

“It is evident that under present systems and conditions of government,” he said, “the poor are subject to the greatest need and distress while others more fortunate live in luxury and plenty far beyond their actual necessities. This drastic inequality is “one of the deep and vital problems of society.”

The solution? “The remedy must be legislative readjustment of conditions.” But, he says, “The rich too must be merciful to the poor, contributing from willing hearts to their needs without being forced or compelled to do so.”

By combining these approaches — uncoerced generosity by the rich and laws that prevent economic extremes — ‘Abdu’l-Bahá tells his audience: “The composure of the world will be assured.” 2

Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Washington, D.C.

On May 7, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá left at 8:00 A.M. for Pittsburgh, arriving about noon, and went with the friends to His rooms in the Hotel Schenley. One by one He talked to them privately. Among other things, they kept asking Him if He liked the rooms. He told each of them, “‘Very good! Very good!’” After they had departed, He turned to Dr. Zia Bagdadi and exclaimed:

“The friends are anxious to know if I like these rooms! They do not know what we had to go through in the past. Imagine the condition and surroundings when we were … imprisoned in the barracks of “Akká; Bahá’u’lláh occupied one room; His family and several other families were forced to occupy one room. Aside from the sever illness that was raging, and the death of many among us prisoners—adults and children—on account of unsanitary surroundings and starvation, I noticed that my own presence in that crowded room was another source of torture to all of them. This was due to the fact that parents and children were suppressing and restraining themselves by trying to be quiet and polite in my presence. So, in order to give them freedom, I accepted the morgue of the barracks, because that was the only room available, and I lived in it for about two years. Now the kind friends here wish to know if I like these magnificent rooms! 3 4

Talk at Hotel Schenley, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

No matter how far the material world advances, it cannot establish the happiness of mankind. Only when material and spiritual civilization are linked and coordinated will happiness be assured. Then material civilization will not contribute its energies to the forces of evil in destroying the oneness of humanity, for in material civilization good and evil advance together and maintain the same pace. For example, consider the material progress of man in the last decade. Schools and colleges, hospitals, philanthropic institutions, scientific academies and temples of philosophy have been founded, but hand in hand with these evidences of development, the invention and production of means and weapons for human destruction have correspondingly increased. In early days the weapon of war was the sword; now it is the magazine rifle. Among the ancients, men fought with javelins and daggers; now they employ shells and bombs. Dreadnoughts are built, torpedoes invented, and every few days new ammunition is forthcoming.

All this is the outcome of material civilization; therefore, although material advancement furthers good purposes in life, at the same time it serves evil ends. The divine civilization is good because it cultivates morals. Consider what the Prophets of God have contributed to human morality. Jesus Christ summoned all to the Most Great Peace through the acquisition of pure morals. If the moral precepts and foundations of divine civilization become united with the material advancement of man, there is no doubt that the happiness of the human world will be attained and that from every direction the glad tidings of peace upon earth will be announced. Then humankind will achieve extraordinary progress, the sphere of human intelligence will be immeasurably enlarged, wonderful inventions will appear, and the spirit of God will reveal itself; all men will consort in joy and fragrance, and eternal life will be conferred upon the children of the Kingdom. Then will the power of the divine make itself effective and the breath of the Holy Spirit penetrate the essence of all things. Therefore, the material and the divine, or merciful, civilizations must progress together until the highest aspirations and desires of humanity shall become realized. 5

Tuesday, May 7, 1912 6

Early in the morning ‘Abdu’l-Bahá received newspapers giving news of His arrival, His addresses and the meetings of the Bahá’ís, and describing the respect shown to Him, each report having a photograph of Him taken with us.

Shortly afterwards He received a letter from a dignitary of the city, who stated that after reading the newspapers and reflecting on the teachings of the Cause, he was convinced of its truth and greatness and wished to submit to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá a statement of his conviction and recognition of the Faith.

We left Cleveland at 8:00 a.m., arriving in Pittsburgh around noon. The friends in Pittsburgh, who had been informed by telegram of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s arrival, were waiting at the station. When the train pulled in, they were overjoyed to see Him and followed Him to the Hotel Schenley where He was staying.

After an hour’s brief rest, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá received many people who had been invited by the friends to meet Him. Some were leaders of the Jewish community who invited Him to address their congregations. However, owing to a previous commitment at the Peace Congress in New York City, He was not able to accept their invitation.

There was a large meeting in the evening at the hotel for the friends in Pittsburgh.90 ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spoke on the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh, His address ending with these words: ‘The East must acquire material civilization from the West and the West must learn divine civilization from the East.’ Everyone expressed their appreciation of the teachings with the utmost sincerity.

A little later a group of philosophers, doctors and journalists met with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. He spoke to them in detail about composition and decomposition and the diagnosis of disease:

“If one is fully cognizant of the reason for the incursion of disease and can determine the balance of elements, he can cure diseases by administering the food that can restore the normal level of the deficient element. In this way there will be no need for medicines and other difficulties will not arise.”

After a detailed discussion of this subject, He asked them, ‘Although animals do not know the science of medicine, why, when they are sick, do they abstain instinctively from what is injurious to them and eat foods that are beneficial, while man, when ailing, inclines more to that which is injurious to him?’ They had no answer to this question and stated that the Master knew the answer better than they.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá then gave a description of the extraordinary power of the world of humanity and the freedom of man from the limitations of nature:

“Since man’s attention is not confined to one interest, his negligence is greater; while his comprehension is greater than that of all other creatures when it is focused and fixed on one subject.”

Thus did the Master speak to the group of journalists, philosophers and doctors, who thanked Him for His discourse.

  1. Jones, Caitlin Shayda. “‘One of the Deep and Vital Problems of Society.’” 239 Days in America, May 7, 2012. https://239days.com/2012/05/07/one-of-the-deep-and-vital-problems-of-society/.
  2. ʻAbduʼl-Bahá. The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by ʻAbduʼl-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912. Edited by Howard MacNutt. 2nd ed. Wilmette, Ill: Baháʼí Publishing Trust, 1982, 107. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/7#904155405.
  3. Bagdadi, Zia. “‘Abdu’l-Bahá in America,” Star of the West, 19, no. 5. (Aug. 1928) 140-41.
  4. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 63-64.
  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, 109. 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#section44.

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 4: April 14, 1912 | New York, NY

‘Abdu’l-Bahá Delivers First Public Address in America 1

“Since my arrival in this country,” he [‘Abdu’l-Bahá] said, “I find that material civilization has progressed greatly, that commerce has attained the utmost degree of expansion; arts, agriculture and all details of material civilization have reached the highest stage of perfection, but spiritual civilization has been left behind. Material civilization is like unto the lamp, while spiritual civilization is the light in that lamp.”

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

If the material and spiritual civilization become united, then we will have the light and the lamp together, and the outcome will be perfect. For material civilization is like unto a beautiful body, and spiritual civilization is like unto the spirit of life. If that wondrous spirit of life enters this beautiful body, the body will become a channel for the distribution and development of the perfections of humanity.2

First Days in America: New York City 3

On His first Sunday in America ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spoke at the Church of the Ascension, located at Fifth Avenue and Tenth Street. Dr. Percy Stickney Grant, the minister, had, just a few months before, warned his congregation about the “Baha’i sect,” and made “thundering denunciations of…the slumbering and superstitious Orient—the Orient that brought to the West ‘nothing but disease and death’…” But in March 1912 he wrote Juliet Thompson, a long-time acquaintance, saying, “…I shall be more than happy to invite him to the Ascension pulpit in my place. I should like to show so important and splendid a person, and those who love him, whatever hospitality and goodwill can be expressed…” 4

Sunday, April 14, 1912 [Monday, April 15, 1912]

That afternoon the Master spoke at the Advanced Thought Center. 5 His talk was on the unity of God, the unity of the world of humanity and the need for greater capacity to receive the divine blessings. As He left the meeting hall, many people surrounded Him and asked what they could do to become united. The Master showered them with His love and kindness. They asked to see Him again and left Him with great courtesy and humility. 6

The Master was shown several newspapers that had published His picture and articles about His talks and yesterday’s meetings. So great is the influence of the Cause of God that a zealous clergyman has made objections to Dr Percy Stickney Grant, the minister of the Church of the Ascension who had invited ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to sit in the chair reserved for the Viceroy of Christ. He asked why the minister had permitted ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to sit on the chair. Although he objected to the Master’s talk, he could find no justification for his complaint. Other clergymen replied to his objections in a newspaper article, referring to his discourteous attitude. Thus he was obliged to write an article himself in which he stated that he had no doubt about the knowledge and importance of the teachings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and that his intention had been only to point out that the church’s rules and regulations had been broken. 7

  1. Menon, Jonathan. “‘Abdu’l-Bahá Delivers First Public Address in America.” 239 Days in America, April 14, 2012. https://239days.com/2012/04/14/abdul-baha-delivers-first-public-address-in-america/.
  2. ʻAbduʼl-Bahá. The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by ʻAbduʼl-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912. Edited by Howard MacNutt. 2nd ed. Wilmette, Ill: Baháʼí Publishing Trust, 1982, 11. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/2#812419404
  3. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 21-22.
  4. Diary of Juliet Thompson, National Bahá’í Archives, Wilmette, Ill., entries for Apr. 15 and Mar. 25, from a letter dated Mar. 23, 1912.
  5. Union Meeting of Advanced Thought Centers, Carnegie Lyceum, West Fifty-Seventh Street, New York. For a transcript of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s talk see Promulgation, pp. 14-16.
  6. Mahmud-i-Zarqani, Mirza. Mahmúd’s Diary: The Diary of Mírzá Mahmúd-i-Zarqání Chronicling ’Abdu’l-Bahá’s Journey to America. Edited by Shirley Macias. Translated by Mohi Sobhani. Oxford: George Ronald, 1998. https://bahai-library.com/zarqani_mahmuds_diary&chapter=2#section21
  7. Mahmud-i-Zarqani, Mirza. Mahmúd’s Diary: The Diary of Mírzá Mahmúd-i-Zarqání Chronicling ’Abdu’l-Bahá’s Journey to America. Edited by Shirley Macias. Translated by Mohi Sobhani. Oxford: George Ronald, 1998. https://bahai-library.com/zarqani_mahmuds_diary&chapter=2#section22

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

‘Abdu’l-Bahá: New Yorker 1

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

First Days in America: New York City

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. Menon, Jonathan. “‘Abdu’l-Bahá: New Yorker.” 239 Days in America, April 12, 2012. https://239days.com/2012/04/12/friday-afternoon-in-the-city/.
  2. ʻAbduʼl-Bahá. The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by ʻAbduʼl-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912. Edited by Howard MacNutt. 2nd ed. Wilmette, Ill: Baháʼí Publishing Trust, 1982, 4. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/2#169029459.
  3. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 18.
  4. Ibid, 4. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/2#169029459.
  5. Mahmud-i-Zarqani, Mirza. Mahmúd’s Diary: The Diary of Mírzá Mahmúd-i-Zarqání Chronicling ’Abdu’l-Bahá’s Journey to America. Edited by Shirley Macias. Translated by Mohi Sobhani. Oxford: George Ronald, 1998. https://bahai-library.com/zarqani_mahmuds_diary&chapter=2#section18