239 Days in America, Day 31: May 11, 1912 | New York, NY

Everything in America Is “All Right!” 1

Over the next two days ‘Abdu’l-Bahá is going to speak to a number of peace societies in the New York area, after which he will travel upstate to deliver the opening talk at the Eighteenth Annual Lake Mohonk Conference on International Arbitration. It takes place every year at a lake resort about ninety miles north of the city, nestled among the mountains. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has stated that attending this conference is one of the primary reasons for his visit to America….

As his audience listens, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá tells a story of the day before in Washington, when a Justice of the Supreme Court, accompanied by a DC politician, arrived to speak with him. The politician disputed ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s position that throughout history religion has primarily been a cause of unity, rather than mainly a pretext for disagreement. Having convinced the politician, he noticed that the Justice had fallen silent. Concerned, he asked if the judge had found anything in the conversation objectionable. “Not at all! Not at all!” he replied, “It’s all right! It’s all right!” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá repeats it over and over—“All right! All right!”—and sends a ripple of laughter through the room.

“Wherever you go you hear it,” he later observed. “You ask the bell boy at the hotel to do something and he responds, ‘All right’; you inquire as to the health of a friend and he answers, ‘All right’; everything is ‘all right.’”

“I have never heard this expression used in any other country, and I believe that it reflects the optimism of this great country.”

New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts 2

When ‘Abdu’l-Bahá arrived in New York on Saturday, May 11, His thirty-first day in America, He rented one to the top story flats in the Hudson Apartment House, overlooking the Hudson River. As the friends joyously gathered to welcome Him back, He reviewed the trip:

“It is only three weeks that we have been away from the New York friends, yet so great has been the longing to see you that it seems like three months. We have had no rest by day or night since we left you; either traveling, moving about or speaking, yet it was all so pleasantly done and we have been most happy …

“… We met savants and learned men and satisfied them with our explanations …

“Yesterday in Washington we met a group of important people …

“There were … at this meeting several cabinet officers, United States senators, many from the foreign diplomatic service, army and navy officials and other dignitaries … We spoke to all from their own standpoints with most satisfactory results …

“In Washington, too, we called a meeting of the colored and white people. The attendance was very large, the colored people predominating. At our second gathering this was reversed but at the third meeting we were unable to say which color predominated. These meetings were a great practical lesson upon the unity of colors and races in the Bahai teaching. 3

Talk at 227 Riverside Drive, New York

God maketh no distinction between the white and the black. If the hearts are pure both are acceptable unto Him. God is no respecter of persons on account of either color or race. All colors are acceptable to Him, be they white, black, or yellow. Inasmuch as all were created in the image of God, we must bring ourselves to realize that all embody divine possibilities. If you go into a garden and find all the flowers alike in form, species and color, the effect is wearisome to the eye. The garden is more beautiful when the flowers are many-colored and different; the variety lends charm and adornment. In a flock of doves some are white, some black, red, blue; yet they make no distinction among themselves. All are doves no matter what the color.

This variety in forms and colorings which is manifest in all the kingdoms is according to creative wisdom and has a divine purpose. Nevertheless, whether the creatures be all alike or all different should not be the cause of strife and quarreling among them. Especially why should man find cause for discord in the color or race of his fellow creature? No educated or illumined mind will allow that this differentiation and discord should exist or that there is any ground for it. Therefore, the whites should be just and kind to the blacks, who in turn should reflect an equal measure of appreciation and gratitude. Then will the world become as one great garden of flowering humanity, variegated and multicolored, rivaling each other only in the virtues and graces which are spiritual. 4

Saturday, May 11, 1912 5

The Master made preparations to leave for New York. Some people who had not been able to see Him previously came to visit and He spoke to them about His journey and the spreading of universal peace, which is one of the commandments of Bahá’u’lláh.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá left for the railway station, where several believers were waiting to bid Him farewell. They were down-hearted at being separated from their Beloved, who had showered them with such kindness and blessings.

In New York, the friends who were waiting for the Master took Him to the Hudson building on Riverside Drive where He was to stay. He said to them:

“We went to Chicago and Washington and now we have come back again. Time passed very pleasantly. The people of America are highly accomplished. They desire to acquire understanding and they wish to make progress. When one sees a tree growing, one should feel hopeful that it will give flowers and bring forth fruits. People asked questions and on hearing the answers they contended no more. Most of the ministers who came would express agreement. Those who asked us questions on important topics were delighted on hearing the answers. The religious leaders of other countries are not so inclined but are more bent on contention. We met very good ministers in Chicago. Some invited us to their churches and we had lengthy conversations with them. One of them, Dr Milburn [Dr. Joseph A Milburn of the Plymouth Congregational Church], invited us to supper at his home. My purpose in mentioning all this is to convey that all showed agreement and acceptance.

“Just yesterday we spoke in Washington with a number of notable persons, judges, and also a friend of Roosevelt. As we were talking about the unifying influence of different religions, and concord among nations, this friend said that Christ was a source of differences. But when we explained to him the coming together of different nations under the canopy of the word of Christ, he smiled and accepted the point. Others, too, expressed great delight. When I asked him if he had any other question or objection, he replied that he had none at all. When asked if he accepted all these statements, he said, ‘All right.’

When the Master spoke the words ‘all right’ in English, the friends were amused and a ripple of laughter went around the room. He then spoke on the unification of the blacks and whites of America.

That evening at a public reception at His home, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spoke about the divine favors bestowed on the people of Bahá and encouraged the friends to be grateful for such bestowals and blessings.

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

Mahmud: May 11 — Returning to New York City


  1. Jones, Caitlin Shayda. “Everything in America Is ‘All Right!’” 239 Days in America, May 11, 2012. https://239days.com/2012/05/11/everything-in-america-is-all-right/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 65-66.
  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, 111-112. [https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/7#650792604]
  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, 113. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/8#663966339
  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#section48].

239 Days in America, Day 25: May 05, 1912 | Chicago

The Master and the President 1

On ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s last day in Chicago — May 5, 1912 — he spent some time in the morning with children who had gathered at the Plaza Hotel, and walked with them into the park to be photographed. Then he said that he wanted to be alone. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá left the group and paced down toward the entrance of Lincoln Park. There he stood gazing up at the sixteenth President cast in bronze…

Today, a few hours after his quiet moment alone with the President, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spoke to the congregation of All Souls Church. In 1905, the church, which didn’t have a building of its own, constructed the Abraham Lincoln Center, a settlement house serving “the advancement of the physical, intellectual, social, civic, moral and religious interests of humanity, irrespective of age, sex, creed, race, [or] condition of political opinion.”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá concluded his speech at All Souls with a prayer. It was about unity:

“O Thou kind Lord! Thou hast created all humanity from the same stock. Thou hast decreed that all shall belong to the same household . . . . O Thou kind Lord! Unite all. Let the religions agree and make the nations one, so that they may see each other as one family and the whole earth as one home.”

Chicago

At 11:00 A.M. [Sunday, May 5] He spoke at the Plymouth Congregational church on East 50th Street. The Reverend Joseph A. Milburn introduced Him: “‘Having heard of the teachings of this peerless qualities of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, I had made arrangements to leave for ‘Akká. Then I was informed that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Himself, was coming to America. God has today endowed us with His presence here.’” As ‘Abdu’l-Bahá came forward, the audience stood, and, even though in a church sanctuary, they burst into prolonged cheers that stopped only when He motioned them to silence. Some of the audience at this and other meetings became so attracted to Him, even though they had just met Him, that they followed Him from meeting to meeting. 2

Talk at Plymouth Congregational Church, 935 East Fiftieth Street, Chicago, Illinois

O God! O Thou Who givest! This congregation is turning to Thee, casting their glances toward Thy Kingdom and favor, longing to behold the lights of Thy face. O God! Bless this nation. Confirm this government. Reveal Thy glory unto this people and confer upon them life eternal. O God! Illumine the faces, render the hearts radiant, exhilarate the breasts, crown the heads with the diadem of Thy providence, cause them to soar in Thy pure atmosphere so they may reach the highest pinnacles of Thy splendor. Assist them in order that this world may ever find the light and effulgence of Thy presence. O God! Shelter this congregation and admonish this nation. Render them progressive in all degrees. May they become leaders in the world of humanity. May they be Thine examples among humankind. May they be manifestations of Thy grace. May they be filled with the inspiration of Thy Word. Thou art the Powerful. Thou art the Mighty. Thou art the Giver, and Thou art the Omniscient. 3

Sunday, May 5, 1912 4

As it was the last day of the Master’s stay, there was much commotion among the friends visiting the Master’s apartment. A large number of Bahá’ís and their children had gathered in the [Plaza] hotel’s salon. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá embraced and kissed each child with love and kindness. Giving them flowers and sweets, He said to them:

According to Christ you are the children of the Kingdom and according to Bahá’u’lláh, the candles of the world of man, for your hearts are in the utmost purity and your spirits are sanctified. You are not soiled with the things of this world. Your hearts are pure and clean like the mirror. Your parents must bring you up with great kindness and must educate you in morals and praiseworthy attributes so that the virtues of the world of man may be exemplified perfectly in your characters and conduct, that you may progress in all fields of endeavor, may acquire knowledge of the arts and sciences, and may become the cause of the manifestation of eternal bounties and universal advancement.

Then addressing the entire assembly, He said:

“I am going, but you must rise up to serve the Cause of God. Endeavor to keep your hearts sanctified and your intentions pure so that you may attract divine bounties. Remember, although the sun shines equally on all things, yet in the mirror its effulgence is intense, and not in the dark stone. The cause of this intensity and heat in the glass is its purity; without purity and cleanliness, these effects would never appear in it. Similarly, if rain fall on barren land, it produces nothing, but if it fall on pure fertile land, it makes it verdant and causes it to yield a harvest. This is the day in which only pure and chaste hearts can derive benefit from the eternal bounties and only pious souls can receive light from the ever-existent splendors. Praise be to God that ye believe in God, have faith in His words and are turned to His Kingdom. You have heard the voice of God and your hearts are delighted with the breezes of the Abhá paradise. Your intentions are good; your object is the will of God; and your desire is to render service to the Kingdom of God.

Therefore, you must gird up your loins with unswerving determination, you must be united among yourselves and you must not be irritated by one another. Your eyes must be turned always to the kingdom of God and not to the world of man. You must love His creation for His sake and not for your own. When you love one another for the sake of God you shall never be perturbed. No human being is perfect, every person has some flaw. If you look to your fellowman you will always be upset; but if you look to God it shall not be so, because the world of God is a world of perfection and endless mercy; therefore, you will love and show kindness to all for His sake. You must not look to the faults of others; you must look with the eye of forgiveness and pardon. The eye that regards faults sees nothing but faults and the eye that overlooks faults is fixed on the Creator of the souls. It is He Who has created all, has nurtured all, has endowed all with life and spirit and has given to all eyes and ears. Thus all are the signs of His power and for His sake we must love all, and show kindness to all, assist the poor, render help to the weak, heal the sick and educate the ignorant.

It is my desire that the union and harmony of the friends of Chicago may be an example for all the friends in America and that all creation may derive benefit from their behavior; that they may lead all. Then and only then shall the confirmations of the Abhá Kingdom and the bounties of the Sun of Reality encircle you.”

  1. Sockett, Robert. “The Master and the President.” 239 Days in America, May 5, 2012. https://239days.com/2012/05/05/the-master-and-the-president/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 56.
  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, 96. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/5#374930584
  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#section42.

239 Days in America, Day 7: April 17, 1912 | New York, NY

“Deceiving the American People” 1

Aboard the Cedric six days earlier in New York Harbor, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had spoken to the reporters about the responsibilities of the modern mass media before he had said anything else. He had emphasized to the reporters who surrounded him that their papers did more than simply report news: they had the power to construct the public’s perception of what was true. “Newspapers are a mirror 2 which is endowed with hearing, sight and speech,” he said. “Those who play for their own little selfish ends give no true light to the world and perish of their own futility.” He later told his American friends to be careful about trusting anything they read about him, and only to invest their certainty in written words bearing his own signature.

First Days in America: New York City 3

Mahmúd, in recording ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s concern for racism, the most challenging issue in American society, wrote:

“As there existed enmity between the white and the colored races in America to such a degree that the white did not allow the colored to attend their meetings and other public functions, the Beloved strongly urged the friends to associate with each other in utmost joy and happiness. A successful meeting was convened in the home of Mr. Kinney where the audience consisted of friends and outsiders of both races—white and colored.”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the Exemplar, served these friends a meal which He prepared Himself, at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Edward B. Kinney. “It was,” Mahmúd wrote, “a magnificent supper.”

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

As difference in degree of capacity exists among human souls, as difference in capability is found, therefore, individualities will differ one from another. But in reality this is a reason for unity and not for discord and enmity. If the flowers of a garden were all of one color, the effect would be monotonous to the eye; but if the colors are variegated, it is most pleasing and wonderful. The difference in adornment of color and capacity of reflection among the flowers gives the garden its beauty and charm. Therefore, although we are of different individualities, different in ideas and of various fragrances, let us strive like flowers of the same divine garden to live together in harmony. Even though each soul has its own individual perfume and color, all are reflecting the same light, all contributing fragrance to the same breeze which blows through the garden, all continuing to grow in complete harmony and accord. Become as waves of one sea, trees of one forest, growing in the utmost love, agreement and unity. 4

Wednesday, April 17, 1912

Among the dignitaries visiting the Master were several New York clergymen who invited Him to speak to their congregations. The Master told them, ‘I am going to Chicago in two days and therefore am unable to accept your invitation.’

Owing to the prejudice and hatred that has existed between blacks and whites, it has been impossible for white people to invite black people to their homes. Therefore ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has repeatedly encouraged the believers to promote fellowship and unity among these two races. ’An important meeting was held today at the home of Mr Kinney. It was attended by many Bahá’ís and non-Bahá’ís and demonstrated a strong bond of unity between whites and blacks. The Master said that the East has always been the dawning place of light, that this gathering of blacks and whites is like the gathering of many colored flowers and that the variety of colors enhances the beauty of the garden and brings about the loveliness of each.

In the evening the Master invited everyone to dinner, which He Himself prepared. He spoke about unity and love and demonstrated to everyone how to serve at the threshold of the Blessed Beauty. Indeed, it was a blessed evening and a wonderful example of generosity and bestowal in the highest degree. 5

  1. Menon, Jonathan. “‘Deceiving the American People.’” 239 Days in America, April 17, 2012. https://239days.com/2012/04/17/deceiving-the-american-people/.
  2. “In this Day the secrets of the earth are laid bare before the eyes of men. The pages of swiftly-appearing newspapers are indeed the mirror of the world. They reflect the deeds and the pursuits of diverse peoples and kindreds. They both reflect them and make them known. They are a mirror endowed with hearing, sight and speech. This is an amazing and potent phenomenon. However, it behooveth the writers thereof to be purged from the promptings of evil passions and desires and to be attired with the raiment of justice and equity. They should inquire into situations as much as possible and ascertain the facts, then set them down in writing.”
    Baháʾuʾlláh. Tablets of Baháʾuʾlláh, Revealed after the Kitáb-i-Aqdas. Translated by Habib Taherzadeh. 1st ed. Haifa: Bahá’í World Centre, 1978, 39-40. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/bahaullah/tablets-bahaullah/2#382290640.
  3. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 26.
  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, 24. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/2#862373562
  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#section24