239 Days in America, Day 145: September 02, 1912 | Montreal

“A Traveler Should Stay in a Hotel” 1

ON HIS THIRD DAY in Montreal, Sunday, September 1, 1912, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá decided that it was time to move to a hotel. His original plans for a two- or three-day trip were extended given the positive reception he received. On the morning of September 2, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and his party of two moved from the Maxwell home to the Windsor Hotel.

Sutherland and May Maxwell had done everything in their power to make sure that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had all that he needed. They reserved the top three floors of their four bedroom house in Westmount, Montreal. They had succeeded in generating a great deal of positive newspaper coverage. “While here, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá will stay at 716 Pine Avenue West,” reported the Montreal Star. “All who wish to visit him will be made welcome, if arrangements are made beforehand by telephoning Uptown 3015.”

When they arrived on August 30, May Maxwell informed ‘Abdu’l-Bahá that “So many people have telephoned and sent letters about your arrival and I have replied to all.” She was no doubt running on little sleep. According to his secretary, Mahmúd-i-Zarqání, visitors came “day and night,” the talks were attended by “a great multitude,” and the large number of “longing souls” would “not let the Master rest.” For the three nights that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and his party stayed at the Maxwell house, it was more like a reception hall than a private home.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá recognized May Maxwell’s exhaustion, and, rather than denying this fact, she replied, “I consider this fatigue the greatest comfort of my life.” But after two nights, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá told Mahmúd, “Tomorrow we should move to a hotel. A traveler should stay in a hotel.”

Montreal 2

At the breakfast on September 1 to which He invited a number of guests ’Abdu’l-Bahá said:

“Come, we are in Montreal, Canada, in this home eating Persian pilau, which has been cooked by Mírzá Ahmad and which has a taste and tale of its own. To be grateful for the blessings of God in time of want and trouble is important. In the abundance of blessings every one can be grateful. It is said that Sultán Mahmúd cut a watermelon and gave a portion of it to Iyás. Iyás ate it cheerfully and expressed gratitude. When the Sultán ate a little of the same watermelon, he found it bitter. He asked Iyás, “How did you eat such a bitter watermelon and show no sign of dislike?” He answered, “I had eaten many sweet and palatable things from the hands of the Sultán and I thought it very unworthy of me to express dislike on eating a little bitter thing today.””

He concluded:

“Man, who is immersed in the blessings of God, should not be grieved if he sees a little trouble. He should not forget the manifold divine bounties that are always pouring on him.”

Talk at Home of Mr. and Mrs. William Sutherland Maxwell, 716 Pine Avenue West, Montreal, Canada 3

God has sent forth the Prophets for the purpose of quickening the soul of man into higher and divine recognitions. He has revealed the heavenly Books for this great purpose. For this the breaths of the Holy Spirit have been wafted through the gardens of human hearts, the doors of the divine Kingdom opened to mankind and the invisible inspirations sent forth from on high. This divine and ideal power has been bestowed upon man in order that he may purify himself from the imperfections of nature and uplift his soul to the realm of might and power. God has purposed that the darkness of the world of nature shall be dispelled and the imperfect attributes of the natal self be effaced in the effulgent reflection of the Sun of Truth. The mission of the Prophets of God has been to train the souls of humanity and free them from the thralldom of natural instincts and physical tendencies. They are like unto Gardeners, and the world of humanity is the field of Their cultivation, the wilderness and untrained jungle growth wherein They proceed to labor. They cause the crooked branches to become straightened, the fruitless trees to become fruitful, and gradually transform this great wild, uncultivated field into a beautiful orchard producing wonderful abundance and outcome.

Monday, September 2, 1912 4

After the morning obligatory prayer Mrs Maxwell came to’Abdu’l-Bahá and said that the people were changing and becoming interested. Her neighbor, who had previously reproached her, was so enchanted after visiting ‘Abdu’l-Bahá that she telephoned to request that He visit her home. She also suggested that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá use her carriage every day.

After the Master visited and encouraged this neighbor, He went to the hotel [the Hotel Windsor] and rented three rooms. On the way back to the Maxwell home, the Master bought some valuable rings to give as gifts. A large number of people were waiting for Him and attained new spiritual heights and powers through His discourses.

One of His talks concerned the abandonment of blind imitation and the elimination of those customs and dogmas that are contrary to the fundamental truth of the religion of God. He said:

“When educated people see the priests taking bread and wine in their hands, blowing a few breaths over them and saying that the bread and wine are now changed into the flesh and blood of Christ, or hear them saying that by making a confession before a priest their sins are pardoned, they will begin to despair of their religion and become totally irreligious.”

At lunch time the Master invited a number of people to the table, saying: ‘Come! We are in Montreal, Canada, in this home, eating Persian rice which has been cooked by Mírzá Ahmad. This has a relish all its own; what a tale it makes! Continuing, He said:

“To be grateful for the blessings of God in time of want and trouble is necessary. In the abundance of blessings everyone can be grateful. It is said that Sultán Mahmúd cut a melon and gave a portion of it to Ayáz who ate it cheerfully and expressed gratitude. When the Sultán ate a little of the same melon, he found it bitter. He asked, ‘>How did you eat such a bitter melon and show no sign of disliking it?’ Ayáz answered, ‘I had eaten many sweet and palatable things from the hands of the Sultán and I thought it very unworthy of me to express dislike on eating a slightly bitter thing today.’ Thus man, who is immersed in the blessings of God, should not be grieved if he experiences a little trouble. He should not forget the manifold divine bounties.”

In the afternoon, professors, clergy and press representatives came one after another to visit ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. The samovar was steaming and fruits and sweets were served to all. That His Persian servants in their Eastern attire served the guests was considered a social novelty and was reported in the press.

One of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá talks was this:

“Because of material civilization, industry has progressed and sciences and arts have burgeoned but at the same time weapons of war and bloodshed designed for the destruction of the edifice of humanity have multiplied and political problems have vastly increased. Hence, this material civilization cannot become the means of comfort and ease for all until it acquires spiritual power and the attributes of a divine civilization. Rather, the difficulties will increase and the troubles will multiply.”

Continuing, He said:

“The government of the United States of America has recently provided fifteen million dollars toward the cost of building new battleships. Before international peace is established, a great war will in all certainty take place.”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá made many such important addresses and all who heard Him were eloquent in their praise and adoration of Him.

Today ‘Abdu’l-Bahá moved into the Hotel Windsor. As He was leaving for a meeting at Mr and Mrs Maxwell’s home, he took the tram. We asked whether we could call for a carriage. He said: ‘Oh, it matters little. This saves expense. There is a difference of one dollar in the fare.’ He was very careful over this type of personal expense but when He reached the home of Mr and Mrs Maxwell, He gave one pound to each of their servants.

Although two adjoining rooms had been set with chairs in rows, there was still not enough space. We all felt the absence of the Eastern friends. Everyone wished they were present so they too could witness the excitement and joy that was engendered by the talk of the Master, who spoke on the inherent imperfection of the world of nature and its ultimate perfection through divine education. After the Master’s talk each guest came to shake His hand and received His blessing yet when He went upstairs, the majority followed Him, especially the new seekers.

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

‘Abdu’l-Bahá visits a neighbor of May Maxwell

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

September 2, 1912


  1. Michel, Tony. “‘A Traveler Should Stay in a Hotel.’” 239 Days in America, 2 Sept. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/09/02/a-traveler-should-stay-at-a-hotel/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 133.
  3. ʻAbduʼl-Bahá. The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by ʻAbduʼl-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912. Edited by Howard MacNutt. 2nd ed. Wilmette, Ill: Baháʼí Publishing Trust, 1982, 310. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/22#437467020
  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=7#section162

239 Days in America, Day 139: August 27, 1912 | Boston

Women’s Work 1

THE PROGRESSIVE ERA WAS not a rewarding time to be a working woman. While the wages of men were low, women’s pay was drastically lower. The number of females employed − typically in factories or as domestic servants − was rapidly increasing. Emma Goldman, a leading voice in the Socialist movement, wrote in 1910: “Nowhere is woman treated according to the merit of her work, but rather as a sex.”

Reverend George L. Perin, a pastor serving inner city Boston, decided to lend a helping hand. He was appalled at the housing that single, working women in Boston were compelled to live in. Through a tireless fundraising effort, Perin managed to buy an unoccupied hotel in Boston’s South End. His goal was to “furnish for girls living away from home a dwelling place which is morally safe, as well as comfortable and sanitary, and to give them food that is both palatable and wholesome.” The New York Times called Franklin Square House “the largest hotel for young working women and girl students in the world.”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá visited Franklin Square House on the evening of August 26, 1912. He had been invited by its superintendent to give a talk to the nearly six hundred women that called the vine-covered, red brick building home. He began by confirming the equality of women and men. “[E]ach is the complement of the other in the divine creative plan.” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá noted that God distinguishes a person’s “purity and righteousness” in “deeds and actions,” and not their gender. He acknowledged the history of the subordination of women, attributing it to a lack of equal access to education.

27 August 1912, Talk at Metaphysical Club, Boston, Massachusetts 2

It is evident, then, that each elemental atom of the universe is possessed of a capacity to express all the virtues of the universe. This is a subtle and abstract realization. Meditate upon it, for within it lies the true explanation of pantheism. From this point of view and perception pantheism is a truth, for every atom in the universe possesses or reflects all the virtues of life, the manifestation of which is effected through change and transformation. Therefore, the origin and outcome of phenomena is, verily, the omnipresent God; for the reality of all phenomenal existence is through Him. There is neither reality nor the manifestation of reality without the instrumentality of God. Existence is realized and possible through the bounty of God, just as the ray or flame emanating from this lamp is realized through the bounty of the lamp, from which it originates. Even so, all phenomena are realized through the divine bounty, and the explanation of true pantheistic statement and principle is that the phenomena of the universe find realization through the one power animating and dominating all things, and all things are but manifestations of its energy and bounty. The virtue of being and existence is through no other agency. Therefore, in the words of Bahá’u’lláh, the first teaching is the oneness of the world of humanity.

Tuesday, August 27, 1912 3

‘Abdu’l-Bahá returned to Malden in the morning. He was occupied chiefly in writing letters to the American friends. Believers and seekers came by ones and twos and He lovingly received them.

In the evening there was a well-attended meeting at the Theosophical Society. The gathering became the dawning place of the confirmations of the Abhá Kingdom. The chairman of the meeting introduced the Master to an audience of some five hundred saying:

“Several months ago I attended a convention on the emancipation of religions in this city. Many people of different religions and sects spoke, each one praising the beliefs of his own sect. But a very august personage then stood. By His bearing and by the first few words of His address, everyone felt that this person was spiritual and divinely inspired; that His explanations were heavenly; that He was speaking from God; that He could transform the souls; that He was with God and was the herald of peace and love; that what He said was first practiced by Himself; and that He was a flame from the Kingdom which brightened and illuminated the minds and hearts of all. That august person was ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. I am not worthy to introduce His Holiness to you. You will yourselves know Him better than I.”

’Abdu’l-Bahá then stood and gave a stirring address concerning the movement of atoms and the infinite forms that compose this contingent world and gave an explanation of the new teachings of the Cause. During the address, every heart and soul was enthralled. After the meeting everyone spoke of feeling the bounties of the Holy Spirit and of the need for these teachings of love and unity.

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

Chairman of Theosophical Society gives impressive introduction about ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to audience of five-hundred

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

August 27 1912


  1. Jones, Caitlin Shayda. “Women’s Work.” 239 Days in America, 27 Aug. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/08/27/womens-work/.
  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, 285-286. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/20#163204180
  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=6#section156

239 Days in America, Day 114: August 02, 1912 | Dublin

Being Black in the Progressive Era 1

LOUIS GREGORY INHALED THE sea air as his ship broke from the shore. He was leaving America, crossing the same throes of the Atlantic his African ancestors had — but Louis Gregory was unchained. It was March 25, 1911, and he was on his way to Alexandria, Egypt, to meet ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. It was here, in the middle of the ocean, Gregory later said, that he finally felt truly “American.”

Shortly after arriving in Alexandria, Louis Gregory met ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. “If it be possible, gather together these two races, black and white, into one assembly,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá told him, “and put such love into their hearts that they shall not only unite but even intermarry.” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s solution to the American race problem seemed to be far more fundamental than the political deals that had been struck — and had failed — since Reconstruction.

Friday, August 2, 1912

A meeting for blacks was held near Lake Dublin. At this gathering the Master delivered an eloquent address regarding unity and amity between blacks and whites. He spoke of the approaching wedding of Miss [Louisa] Mathew, a white woman, and Mr [Louis] Gregory, a black man, which is to take place shortly in Washington DC. The white people in the audience were astonished to see the influence of the Cause and the blacks were pleased. Incidents like these are little less than miracles; in fact, ‘splitting the moon in half‘ would be an easier accomplishment in the eyes of the Americans. This meeting was full of joy.

The guests rejoiced when the Master returned to Mr and Mrs Parsons’s home. His words made a deep impression. He spoke on the oneness of the basic principles of the religions of God and the unity of His Manifestations. When questioned about Muhammad, the Prophet of God, His proofs were clear and persuasive and his arguments decisive, uplifting every downcast heart. Everyone testified to the convincing nature of His argument and the greatness of this Cause. About Islam some seemed restrained but no one uttered a dissenting word. 2

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

When you wish to reflect upon or consider a matter, you consult something within you. You say, shall I do it, or shall I not do it? Is it better to make this journey or abandon it? Whom do you consult? Who is within you deciding this question? Surely there is a distinct power, an intelligent ego. Were it not distinct from your ego, you would not be consulting it. It is greater than the faculty of thought. It is your spirit which teaches you, which advises and decides upon matters. Who is it that interrogates? Who is it that answers? There is no doubt that it is the spirit and that there is no change or transformation in it, for it is not a composition of elements, and anything that is not composed of elements is eternal. Change and transformation are peculiarities of composition. There is no change and transformation in the spirit. In proof of this, the body may become weakened in its members. It may be dismembered, or one of its members may be incapacitated. The whole body may be paralyzed; and yet the mind, the spirit, remains ever the same. The mind decides; the thought is perfect; and yet the hand is withered, the feet have become useless, the spinal column is paralyzed, and there is no muscular movement at all, but the spirit is in the same status. Dismember a healthy man; the spirit is not dismembered. Amputate his feet; his spirit is there. He may become lame; the spirit is not affected. The spirit is ever the same; no change or transformation can you perceive, and because there is no change or transformation, it is everlasting and permanent.

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

Need for unity and amity between blacks and whites – announcing upcoming interracial marriage

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

August 2, 1912


  1. Jones, Caitlin Shayda, and Jonathan Menon. “Being Black in the Progressive Era.” 239 Days in America, 2 Aug. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/08/02/the-ups-and-downs-of-being-black-in-the-progressive-era/.
  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=6#section131
  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, 242-243. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/17#722543803

239 Days in America, Day 113: August 01, 1912 | Dublin

Out and About in Dublin 1

IT IS THE AGE of calling cards and formal social visits. Agnes Parsons has called on many people and left many cards in preparation for ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s visit to Dublin.

On ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s second day in Dublin, Agnes takes him on a drive through the village in her carriage, along the Jaffrey Road, through MacVeagh Woods, and then out to the Lake. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and Dr. Fareed, his translator today, stop at the Parsons’ boathouse, while Agnes continues on to the club where she tells the members that her Persian guest has arrived.

On the way home ‘Abdu’l-Bahá makes sure that all bills concerning his stay will be sent to him; he insists on paying his own way in America. Day-Spring has become a home for the seven Persians and some guests, but after a few days ‘Abdu’l-Bahá takes a room down the hill in the village, at the Dublin Inn. Agnes says it’s because he’s not sleeping well in the cooler, windy air; Alice Breed and Dr. Getsinger think he’s tired of being waited on.

Even the children have noticed the man with the long white beard and flowing robes. “The venerable Persian, Abdul Baha,” the Peterborough Transcript writes, “bears so much resemblance to Santa Claus that two little tots begged to take out their go-cart and get it filled with presents from him. They had espied the supposed Santa Claus sitting on the piazza of the Wilcox Inn. . . .”

On the first of August seventy-five people arrive at the Parsons’ to listen to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s afternoon talk. When asked if he finds the people interested, he says: “They are very much alive. In this country an old maid of eighty will want to know all about politics.” In America, it seems, everyone wants to know about everything.

So ‘Abdu’l-Bahá settles in for his three-week stay. Although offers of motor car rides abound, he travels mostly by carriage or he walks. The Cabots, the Pumpellys, the Parmalees, and others invite him for lunch. At one home a cook wishes to hear him speak, so her employer tells her to sit out of sight behind a tree: she is black.

Thursday, August 1, 1912 2

The Master related to us that ‘One hundred years ago there was a school in Baghdád which was held during the summer but it was for the children of the wealthy only. The people of the West have adopted and perfected the customs of the East.’ He also said:

As charitable works become praiseworthy, people often perform them merely for the sake of fame and to gain benefit for themselves, as well as to attract people’s admiration. But this does not render needless the teachings of the Prophets because it is spiritual morals that are the cause of training one’s innate nature and of personal progress. Thus will people offer service to one another with all their hearts for the sake of God and in order to fulfill the duties of devotion to Him and service to humanity and not for the purpose of acquiring praise and fame.

Then He spoke of Mashadí Amír Ghafghazí, a rich man from the Caucasus:

Prior to his embracing this Faith, he was so dauntless and merciless that he had killed countless persons but after embracing this Faith he was entirely transformed, so much so that when once he was fired at by a pistol he did not even raise his arm in self-defense. Such people become educated under the shadow of belief. Similarly, the Bahá’ís of ‘Ishqábád interceded on behalf of a man who had killed one of their members.

At a gathering in the afternoon the Master spoke on the equality of the rights of men and women, the greatness of this cycle, the oneness of the world of humanity and God’s creation. After the meeting several ministers spoke to Him. One was the pastor from the Dublin Unitarian Church who invited the Master to speak at his church.

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

All the organisms of material creation are limited to an image or form. That is to say, each created material being is possessed of a form; it cannot possess two forms at the same time. For example, a body may be spherical, triangular or square; but it is impossible for it to be two of these shapes simultaneously. It may be triangular, but if it is to become square, it must first rid itself of the triangular shape. It is absolutely impossible for it to be both at the same time. Therefore, it is evident in the reality of material organisms that different forms cannot be simultaneously possessed. In the spiritual reality of man, however, all geometrical figures can be simultaneously conceived, while in physical realities one image must be forsaken in order that another may be possible. This is the law of change and transformation, and change and transformation are precursors of mortality. Were it not for this change in form, phenomena would be immortal; but because the phenomenal existence is subject to transformation, it is mortal. The reality of man, however, is possessed of all virtues; it is not necessary for him to give up one image for another as mere physical bodies do. Therefore, in that reality there is no change or transformation; it is immortal and everlasting. The body of man may be in America while his spirit is laboring and working in the Far East, discovering, organizing and planning. While occupied in governing, making laws and erecting a building in Russia, his body is still here in America. What is this power which, notwithstanding that it is embodied in America, is operating at the same time in the Orient, organizing, destroying, upbuilding? It is the spirit of man. This is irrefutable.

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

Points to keep in mind when undertaking charitable works

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

August 1, 1912


  1. Menon, Morella. “Out and About in Dublin.” 239 Days in America, 1 Aug. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/08/01/out-and-about-in-dublin/.
  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=6#section130
  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, 242. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/17#991205446

239 Days in America, Day 45: May 25, 1912 | Boston

‘Abdu’l-Bahá Draws a Line in the Sand 1

On the surface, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s comments about the “spirituality” of the East and the “materialism” of the West sounded virtually identical to the Indian reformers. But nothing could have been further from the truth.

On May 25, 1912, at a talk at Huntington Chambers in Boston, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá made it clear that he didn’t put any stock in the ability of ancient traditions to meet the needs of the modern world. “Thoughts and theories of past ages are fruitless now,” he said. “It is evident that counterfeit and spurious religious teaching, antiquated forms of belief and ancestral imitations . . . must also pass away and be reformed.”

Neither did he believe the nostalgic notion that modern society was somehow inferior to the civilizations of the past. “If comparison be made with the sum total of all former human achievements, it will be found that the discoveries, scientific advancement and material civilization of this present century have equaled, yea far exceeded the progress and outcome of one hundred former centuries.”

New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts 2

On Saturday, May 25, after a day of individual interviews, He went to a farewell dinner at Huntington Chambers Hall and spoke to an audience of a thousand people.

Huntington Chambers, Boston, Massachusetts 3

What a wonderful century this is! It is an age of universal reformation. Laws and statutes of civil and federal governments are in process of change and transformation. Sciences and arts are being molded anew. Thoughts are metamorphosed. The foundations of human society are changing and strengthening. Today sciences of the past are useless. The Ptolemaic system of astronomy and numberless other systems and theories of scientific and philosophical explanation are discarded, known to be false and worthless. Ethical precedents and principles cannot be applied to the needs of the modern world. Thoughts and theories of past ages are fruitless now. Thrones and governments are crumbling and falling. All conditions and requisites of the past unfitted and inadequate for the present time are undergoing radical reform. It is evident, therefore, that counterfeit and spurious religious teaching, antiquated forms of belief and ancestral imitations which are at variance with the foundations of divine reality must also pass away and be reformed. They must be abandoned and new conditions be recognized. The morals of humanity must undergo change. New remedies and solutions for human problems must be adopted. Human intellects themselves must change and be subject to the universal reformation. Just as the thoughts and hypotheses of past ages are fruitless today, likewise dogmas and codes of human invention are obsolete and barren of product in religion. Nay, it is true that they are the cause of enmity and conducive to strife in the world of humanity; war and bloodshed proceed from them, and the oneness of mankind finds no recognition in their observance. Therefore, it is our duty in this radiant century to investigate the essentials of divine religion, seek the realities underlying the oneness of the world of humanity and discover the source of fellowship and agreement which will unite mankind in the heavenly bond of love. This unity is the radiance of eternity, the divine spirituality, the effulgence of God and the bounty of the Kingdom. We must investigate the divine source of these heavenly bestowals and adhere unto them steadfastly. For if we remain fettered and restricted by human inventions and dogmas, day by day the world of mankind will be degraded, day by day warfare and strife will increase and satanic forces converge toward the destruction of the human race.

Saturday, May 25, 1912 4

Among the visitors this morning was a group of Unitarian ministers who asked many questions and who received important answers. They took their leave with great humility. Another clergyman, Rabbi Fletcher, remained for over an hour in the Master’s presence, asking various questions and receiving answers. He was so grateful and enthralled that it is difficult to describe his attraction. Dr Jack, the editor of an important London journal, also came for an interview. With great fervor and interest, he wrote down the answers to his questions for his journal. Besides the visits of these interested people, the Bahá’ís, who were in spiritual ecstacy and excitement, continuously begged for admission to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s presence.

At a meeting in the afternoon at the Master’s residence with philosophers and learned men of Boston, one visitor asked about the immortality of the soul. In response, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá delivered a most unique discourse on the subject, which left everyone astonished. Those leaders of science and knowledge were captivated with the beauty of the Covenant. The talk was so impressive that the Master Himself remarked as He left the meeting: ‘Until now there has never been such a discourse about the immortality of the soul.’ This was purely the result of His authority and power. He had had no intention of speaking on this subject but when He was questioned, He answered without hesitation.

After the meeting He went to a public park in Boston. Later that evening, in the Huntington Chambers, the Bahá’ís held a farewell gathering with over one thousand in attendance. The Master spoke on the signs of progress in the 20th century. He then chanted a prayer in such an imploring manner that tears sprang to all eyes. The meeting ended with the utmost beauty and dignity.

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

Mahmud: May 25 – Meeting various philosophers and learned men of Boston; Farewell gathering with Bahá’ís


  1. Menon, Jonathan. “‘Abdu’l-Bahá Draws a Line in the Sand.” 239 Days in America, 26 May 2012, https://239days.com/2012/05/25/abdul-baha-draws-a-line-in-the-sand/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 73.
  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, 144. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/10#975098386
  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#section62.

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.