239 Days in America, Day 55: June 04, 1912 | New York

The World Before the War 1

“THE CONTINENT OF EUROPE is one vast arsenal,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá told a New York newspaper. Even though he spoke energetically of peace, he harbored no illusions about the convulsions that were about to overtake Western civilization. The European arsenal, he said, “only requires one spark at its foundations and the whole of Europe will become a wasted wilderness.”

The decades leading up to the Great War have often been interpreted by historians as bursting with confidence — an unbounded faith in the future. In many ways it was true. The preceding century had seen an unprecedented pace of change. The signs of progress were everywhere.

Humanity, many people thought, had become less warlike. The better off countries became, the less violent they would be. Norman Angell, an English journalist, had made this thesis the core of his 1910 book, The Great Illusion. It was only an illusion, he said, that countries actually benefited by war and conquest. But Angell had missed a key point: Europeans had merely transported their aggression to other, less visible parts of the world.

Tuesday, June 4, 1912

When the Master left Milford, as well as the influence of His explanations, His kindness and gifts to the servants of the household made a great impression. Calling them before Him, He thanked them and gave each two gold coins. Much affected, all bowed their heads then turned their faces turned towards ‘Abdu’l-Bahá as He left with majesty and grace. As He turned to observe the lush greenery of that place, tears suddenly poured from His eyes. He was thinking about the Blessed Beauty and was grieved and saddened, recalling the afflictions and sufferings of the Pre-Existent Face.

When the Master returned to New York in the evening, He went to a house built on the shore of the Hudson River which had been rented at His request. Here, at a gathering of the friends, He spoke about the achievements of American civilization in education, agriculture and commerce and the high standard of its government and people, saying:

“Their material civilization resembles a glass of the utmost transparency and purity but divine civilization is like a shining lamp. When these two combine, the utmost perfection will be realized. The light of the oneness of humanity, of universal peace, of equality of human rights and of divine morals will emanate from this country to all the regions of the world and will illumine them all.”

Someone asked whether, with all these worldly occupations and physical labors, it is possible that such a spiritual condition can be realized. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá replied:

“Provided they behave moderately, the more people advance in the material realm, the more their capacity for attaining spirituality is augmented. The sounder the body, the greater is the resplendency and manifestation of the spirit. Truly, what impedes spirituality are the dogmas and imitations that are contrary to true science and a sound mind.” 2

New York, Philadelphia, New York 3

On Tuesday, June 4, before leaving the estate, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá called all the servants together and gave each of them money. On His return to New York, Abdu’l-Bahá, went to the house He had rented along the Hudson River

Talk at Church of the Ascension, Fifth Avenue and Tenth Street, New York, 02 June 1912 4

Question: Is it not a fact that universal peace cannot be accomplished until there is political democracy in all the countries of the world?

Answer: It is very evident that in the future there shall be no centralization in the countries of the world, be they constitutional in government, republican or democratic in form. The United States may be held up as the example of future government—that is to say, each province will be independent in itself, but there will be federal union protecting the interests of the various independent states. It may not be a republican or a democratic form. To cast aside centralization which promotes despotism is the exigency of the time. This will be productive of international peace. Another fact of equal importance in bringing about international peace is woman’s suffrage. That is to say, when perfect equality shall be established between men and women, peace may be realized for the simple reason that womankind in general will never favor warfare. Women will not be willing to allow those whom they have so tenderly cared for to go to the battlefield. When they shall have a vote, they will oppose any cause of warfare. Another factor which will bring about universal peace is the linking together of the Orient and the Occident.

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

Mahmud: June 4 – “…what impedes spirituality are the dogmas and imitations that are contrary to true science and a sound mind.”

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

June 4, 1912


  1. Sockett, Robert. “The World Before the War.” 239 Days in America, 4 June 2012, https://239days.com/2012/06/04/the-world-before-the-war/.
  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=4#section72
  3. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 87.
  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, 167. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/12#261588977.

239 Days in America, Day 52: June 01, 1912 | New York

Percy Stickney Grant Doubles Down on ‘Abdu’l-Bahá 1

But it wasn’t the first time [Percy Stickney] Grant had come up against Bishop [Charles Sumner] Burch. Back in 1912 Burch had reprimanded him for inviting ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to sit in the Bishop’s Chair behind the altar rail on April 14, the morning ‘Abdu’l-Bahá delivered his first public address in America. Bishop [John Gardner] Murray of Maryland had reacted even more strongly, banning ‘Abdu’l-Bahá from Episcopal churches throughout his state.

“But an idiotic thing like that would never stop Percy Grant — only make him more defiant,” Juliet Thompson later wrote in her diary.

Indeed it did. The Reverend Dr. Percy Stickney Grant had already invited ‘Abdu’l-Bahá back to the Church of the Ascension, to speak to the People’s Forum on Sunday evening, June 2, 1912.

New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts 2

On Saturday, June 1, the New York Times reported a “color line” at the University of Michigan, which banned Hindu students. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá went to the train station accompanied by weeping friends and returned to New York where He told the friends about the Fanwood trip.

One of the inquirers that afternoon was a Socialist, to whom ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said:

Go to the socialists and say that partnership in the properties and lands of this world is the source of strife and warfare. But partnership and inheritance in the kingdom are a cause of love and amity, If you will put your efforts to gain the precepts of the kingdom instead of worldly rights, you will gain perpetual happiness.

Mahmúd noted: “Every person with a particular interest was addressed similarly.”

Can you paint Me in a half hour? 3

The Master has begun to pose for me. He had said: “Can you paint Me in a half hour?”

“A half hour, my Lord?” I stammered, appalled. I can never finish a head in less than two weeks.

“Well, I will give you three half hours. You mustn’t waste My time, Juliet.”

He told me to come to Him Saturday morning, 1 June, at seven-thirty.

I went in a panic. He was waiting for me in the entrance hall, a small space in the English basement where the light–not much of it–comes from the south. In fact I found myself faced with every kind of handicap. I always paint standing, but now I was obliged to sit, jammed so close to the window (because of the lack of distance between the Master and me) that I couldn’t even lean back. No light. No room. And I had brought a canvas for a life-size head.

The Master was seated in a dark corner, His black ‘abá melting into the background; and again I saw Him as the Face of God, and quailed. How could I paint the Face of God?

“I want you,” He said, “to paint My Servitude to God.”

“Oh my Lord,” I cried, “only the Holy Spirit could paint Your Servitude to God. No human hand could do it. Pray for me, or I am lost. I implore You, inspire me.”

“I will pray,” He answered, “and as you are doing this only for the sake of God, you will be inspired.”

And then an amazing thing happened. All fear fell away from me and it was as though Someone Else saw through my eyes, worked through my hand.

All the points, all the planes in that matchless Face were so clear to me that my hand couldn’t put them down quickly enough, couldn’t keep pace with the clarity of my vision. I painted in ecstasy, free as I had never been before.

At the end of the half hour the foundation of the head was perfect.

Talk at Town Hall, Fanwood, New Jersey, 31 May 1912 4

Therefore, it is evident that the Prophets of God have come to unite the children of men and not to disperse them, to establish the law of love and not enmity. Consequently, we must lay aside all prejudice—whether it be religious, racial, political or patriotic; we must become the cause of the unification of the human race. Strive for universal peace, seek the means of love, and destroy the basis of disagreement so that this material world may become divine, the world of matter become the realm of the Kingdom and humanity attain to the world of perfection.

Saturday, June 1, 1912 5

In great humility a group of Bahá’ís came to the railway station to bid farewell to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Everyone was weeping as the train left. When He left, the Master was in a devout and meditative mood.

Upon His return to New York, He spoke to a gathering of friends about the harm of intoxicating beverages and also related some historical stories to the friends. In the afternoon some Bahá’ís and inquirers visited Him in His room, one after the other. Among them was a socialist. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said in part:

“Tell the socialists that sharing of property and land in this mortal world is the source of strife and warfare but sharing and inheritance in the Kingdom is the cause of love and unity. If you put your efforts into understanding the precepts of the Kingdom instead of into acquiring worldly shares and rights, you will gain perpetual joy and happiness. The Kingdom of God is vast. He will give you whatever you desire and there will be no place for strife and conflict. Is this not preferable and more pleasing?”

Each visitor with a particular interest was addressed similarly and each departed in joy.

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

Mahmud: June 1 – “The Kingdom of God is vast. He will give you whatever you desire…”

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

June 1, 1912


  1. Menon, Jonathan. “Percy Stickney Grant Doubles Down on ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.” 239 Days in America, 2 June 2012, https://239days.com/2012/06/01/percy-stickney-grant-doubles-down-on-abdul-baha/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 75-76.
  3. Thompson, Juliet. The Diary of Juliet Thompson. Edited by Marzieh Gail. 1st ed. 1947. Reprint, Los Angeles: Kalimát Press, 1983, 298-299. https://archive.org/details/diaryofjuliettho0000thom/page/298/mode/2up.
  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, 162-163. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/12#113894423.
  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=4#section69.

239 Days in America, Day 44: May 24, 1912 | Boston

The Invasion of the Easterners 1

THEY FIRST INVADED AMERICAN shores in 1883, when Protap Chunder Mozoomdar, a leader in the Brahmo Samaj, an offshoot of Hinduism in the Indian region of Bengal, traveled across America. Anagarika Dharmapala, a leader of Sinhalese Buddhist nationalism from Ceylon, had been in touch with Americans for many years before he was invited to represent “Southern Buddhism” at the World’s Parliament of Religions in Chicago. Then, in September, 1893, Swami Vivekananda, a young firebrand from the Advaita branch of Hinduism, wearing a red turban and bright orange robes, lit up the conference with his fiery oratory, in perfect, poetic English.

“After hearing him we feel how foolish it is to send missionaries to this learned nation,” the New York Herald wrote.

These eastern teachers were all from India, and Boston was kind to them. Sara Chapman Bull, of Brattle Street in Cambridge, became Vivekananda’s leading patron. And in Eliot, Maine, near Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Sarah J. Farmer provided a platform for them at Green Acre, her annual forum where she put the World’s Parliament of Religions on a permanent basis every summer. These were the men who offered American journalists the stereotypes that they would try to use to describe ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in 1912.

But these earlier speakers differed from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in several important ways…

New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts 2

On Friday, May 24, the inquirers and reporters visited Him until He went to Ford Hall in Boston and spoke to an audience of a thousand persons at the Free Religious Association of Unitarians. From there He drove to Brookline to speak and then back to the Boston hotel, Later He spoke for two hours at a meeting in the home of one of the friends.

The Boston Traveler that day included an article headed “Abdul Baha Has Creed He Declares Will Finally Eliminated Criminals.” It reported His saying, “’No, I do not believe in capital punishment… If the Bahai movement is widely successful it will hold such sway over the moral, intellectual and physical character of the race that there will not be a criminal to be found.’”

Friday, May 24, 1912 3

Both believers and non-Bahá’ís came in groups to visit the Master. Among them were journalists who asked various questions and received specific answers from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. The Master had been invited to a conference sponsored by the Free Religious Association. He quickly left for the meeting at Ford Hall. More than a thousand people were in the audience. The subject of His talk was the unity of the teachings of the Messengers of God and the oneness of religions.

Because another lecturer had spoken just before the Master criticizing religion, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s talk seemed extraordinary and produced a great effect. The former speaker, a zealous minister, had announced that a false Christ, a denier of Christ, had come to America. But when the people heard the Master’s address establishing the truth of all the Prophets and especially that of Christ, they were surprised, astonished and extremely interested. Moreover, the dignity of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá as He left the meeting became a further cause of attracting the hearts. The members of the association, as well as the Association of Unitarians, had offered to pay the expenses of the Master’s journey but the offer was not accepted.

At the end of the conference, the chairman held the Master’s hand while the audience applauded. He expressed his gratitude and appreciation to the Master. As ‘Abdu’l-Bahá left the hall He bestowed His favors upon all. From that conference ‘Abdu’l-Bahá went to Brookline… A banquet was held in a magnificent palace surrounded by resplendent gardens, situated on the summit of a hill and overlooking a large lake, the beauty of which is beyond description. Here a great number of visitors came to see the Master. He was pleased with the meeting and the surroundings. After a delightful talk, attracting all to Him, He returned to Boston to accept a previous invitation. After an hour’s journey in an automobile especially sent for Him, He arrived at the hotel [the Boston Hotel ] for a brief rest. He then went to the meeting which was held at the home of Mrs Nichols, who had sent an automobile for Him. A group of learned and eminent philosophers was waiting for Abdu’l-Bahá to ask Him many important questions, the comprehensive answers to which impressed and satisfied all. The discussion lasted about two hours. Their hearts were transformed by His explanations about universal peace among nations, the equality of rights of men and women and the education of women. Then, after tea, punch and sweets, the meeting ended.

Talk at Religious Freedom Association, or Unitarian Conference, Boston, Massachusetts 4

Progress is of two kinds: material and spiritual. The former is attained through observation of the surrounding existence and constitutes the foundation of civilization. Spiritual progress is through the breaths of the Holy Spirit and is the awakening of the conscious soul of man to perceive the reality of Divinity. Material progress ensures the happiness of the human world. Spiritual progress ensures the happiness and eternal continuance of the soul. The Prophets of God have founded the laws of divine civilization. They have been the root and fundamental source of all knowledge. They have established the principles of human brotherhood, of fraternity, which is of various kinds—such as the fraternity of family, of race, of nation and of ethical motives. These forms of fraternity, these bonds of brotherhood, are merely temporal and transient in association. They do not ensure harmony and are usually productive of disagreement. They do not prevent warfare and strife; on the contrary, they are selfish, restricted and fruitful causes of enmity and hatred among mankind. The spiritual brotherhood which is enkindled and established through the breaths of the Holy Spirit unites nations and removes the cause of warfare and strife. It transforms mankind into one great family and establishes the foundations of the oneness of humanity. It promulgates the spirit of international agreement and ensures universal peace. Therefore, we must investigate the foundation of this heavenly fraternity. We must forsake all imitations and promote the reality of the divine teachings. In accordance with these principles and actions and by the assistance of the Holy Spirit, both material and spiritual happiness shall become realized. Until all nations and peoples become united by the bonds of the Holy Spirit in this real fraternity, until national and international prejudices are effaced in the reality of this spiritual brotherhood, true progress, prosperity and lasting happiness will not be attained by man. This is the century of new and universal nationhood. Sciences have advanced; industries have progressed; politics have been reformed; liberty has been proclaimed; justice is awakening. This is the century of motion, divine stimulus and accomplishment, the century of human solidarity and altruistic service, the century of universal peace and the reality of the divine Kingdom.

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

Mahmud: May 24 – The Master’s Talk won over the vast audience at Free Religious Association


  1. Menon, Jonathan. “The Invasion of the Easterners.” 239 Days in America, 24 May 2012, https://239days.com/2012/05/24/the-easterners-invade-new-england/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 72.
  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=3#n114.
  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, 142-143. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/10#571510216.

239 Days in America, Day 34: May 14, 1912 | Lake Mohonk

‘Abdu’l-Bahá Scales “The Gunks” 1

THE TRAIN PUFFED BLACK smoke through the towns north of New York City. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was on his way to the Eighteenth Annual Lake Mohonk Conference on International Arbitration in New Paltz, New York. A four-hour train ride would take him up the Hudson River into the countryside. Soon the view outside his window was wrapped in greenery. The peace conference was designed to be far from the hustle and bustle of urban life.

When ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and his party arrived at the station in New Paltz a landau waited to drive them the last seven miles to Lake Mohonk. For an hour they rode in the open air through the rising rocks and wooded hills of the Shawangunk Mountains—the locals call them The Gunks. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, exhilarated by the fresh wilderness around him, suddenly began to sing and told the others to join in. Dr. Fareed, his translator, couldn’t remember this ever having happened before. At last the red rooftops of the Lake Mohonk Mountain House appeared through the trees.

‘‘Abdu’l-Bahá would stay in the magnificent Victorian castle for the next three days. Albert Smiley, its owner, had hosted the peace conference each year since 1895. It takes place in a grand parlor overlooking the lake, a room Mr. Smiley built especially for this purpose.

New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts 2

He traveled the next day, Tuesday, May 14th, to Lake Mohonk, the site of the International Peace Society’s conference, to be the featured speaker of the evening. After the presentation the audience streamed to the platform to meet Him.

Talk at Unity Church, Montclair, New Jersey, 12 May 1912

O Thou kind Lord! O Thou Who art generous and merciful! We are the servants of Thy threshold and are gathered beneath the sheltering shadow of Thy divine unity. The sun of Thy mercy is shining upon all, and the clouds of Thy bounty shower upon all. Thy gifts encompass all, Thy loving providence sustains all, Thy protection overshadows all, and the glances of Thy favor are cast upon all. O Lord! Grant Thine infinite bestowals, and let the light of Thy guidance shine. Illumine the eyes, gladden the hearts with abiding joy. Confer a new spirit upon all people and bestow upon them eternal life. Unlock the gates of true understanding and let the light of faith shine resplendent. Gather all people beneath the shadow of Thy bounty and cause them to unite in harmony, so that they may become as the rays of one sun, as the waves of one ocean, and as the fruit of one tree. May they drink from the same fountain. May they be refreshed by the same breeze. May they receive illumination from the same source of light. Thou art the Giver, the Merciful, the Omnipotent. 3

Tuesday, May 14, 1912 4

As ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was invited to Lake Mohonk, the venue for the conference of the International Peace Society, He made preparations to leave. This conference was the greatest of all the peace conferences in America. It was held in a most ideal location and many dignitaries and delegates from various countries had been invited to attend. Lake Mohonk is four hours away from New York by train. At the train station special landaus were waiting to take the guests to the conference site. The Master took one of these and went to the Hotel Lake Mohonk. He praised the beauty of the place and the scenic grandeur of the route as His carriage drove for about an hour amidst green valleys, wooded hills, woodlands, waterfalls and natural springs. The conference was to last for three days. Each day two long sessions were held in the spacious hall of the hotel facing the lake, the hall having been especially built for the conference.

On the first evening, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s name was at the head of the program. All the members and delegates were anxious to hear His address. The president [of the International Peace Society, Mr Smiley] introduced the Master with the utmost respect and glowing words of praise. Then ‘Abdu’l-Bahá stood and spoke. A new spirit and a new excitement seemed to prevail over the gathering. During the day most of the delegates had been engaged in materialistic issues. Their thoughts had been concentrated on effecting the union of the interior of the United States of America. In the evening, however, they found themselves puzzled when they heard the eloquent, elegant address from the Master concerning the unity of all people, the reformation of the whole world and the Manifestation of the Greatest Name which would bring about the oneness of the world of humanity and the promulgation of the teachings of universal peace. He spoke for about 20 minutes, the time allotted to Him in the program. According to the custom of the West, the audience applauded for a long time when He ceased speaking. They requested that He continue but because He was tired He apologized and with a gesture of His hand bestowed kindness on all. One by one, dignitaries and delegates from many countries came to shake His hand. Some of them embraced Him and expressed their thanks. The president again stood, offered thanks and spoke with great reverence on the importance of the teachings, praising and commending ‘Abdu’l-Bahá on behalf of the audience. Mr Smiley’s wife then gave the Master a pendant especially made for the peace conference and thanked Him most joyfully.

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

Mahmud: May 14 — Lake Mohonk Peace Conference


  1. Jones, Caitlin Shayda. “‘Abdu’l-Bahá Scales ‘The Gunks.’” 239 Days in America, May 14, 2012. https://239days.com/2012/05/14/abdul-baha-scales-the-gunks/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 67.
  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, 116. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/8#111687899
  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#section51.

239 Days in America, Day 33: May 13, 1912 | New York, NY

One Spark Will Set Aflame the Whole World 1

“ON THE THIRTEENTH OF May,” Juliet Thompson writes, “a meeting of the Peace Conference took place at the Hotel Astor. It was an enormous meeting with thousands present. The Master was the Guest of Honour and the first speaker.” “The Master sat at the centre on the high stage, Dr [Percy Stickney] Grant on his right, Rabbi [Stephen Samuel] Wise on His left.” …

‘Abdu’l-Bahá began his talk by describing how Moses, Jesus Christ, Muhammad, and Bahá’u’lláh had all founded religions that welded together previously antagonistic groups. Religious teachings seem to disagree, he said, only because their followers cling to superstitions and imitate the past without understanding it. “Religion and reality are one and not multiple.” 2

New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts 3

On Monday, May 13, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was to appear at a meeting of the New York Peace Society. Juliet Thompson wrote, in an undated diary entry:

The Master was really too ill to have gone to this Conference, He had been in bed all morning, suffering from complete exhaustion, and had high temperature. I was with Him all morning, While I was sitting beside Him I asked: “Must You go to the Hotel Astor when You are so ill?” “I work by the confirmations of the Holy Spirit,” He answered. “I do not work by hygienic laws. I I did,” He laughed, “I would get nothing done.”

Talk at Reception by New York Peace Society, Hotel Astor, New York 4

Although I felt indisposed this afternoon, yet because I attach great importance to this assembly and was longing to see your faces, I have come. The expression of kindly feelings and the spirit of hospitality manifested by the former speakers are most grateful. I am thankful for the susceptibilities of your hearts, for it is an evidence that your greatest desire is the establishment of international peace. You are lovers of the oneness of humanity, seekers after the good pleasure of the Lord, investigators of the foundations of the divine religions.

Today there is no greater glory for man than that of service in the cause of the Most Great Peace. Peace is light, whereas war is darkness. Peace is life; war is death. Peace is guidance; war is error. Peace is the foundation of God; war is a satanic institution. Peace is the illumination of the world of humanity; war is the destroyer of human foundations. When we consider outcomes in the world of existence, we find that peace and fellowship are factors of upbuilding and betterment, whereas war and strife are the causes of destruction and disintegration. All created things are expressions of the affinity and cohesion of elementary substances, and nonexistence is the absence of their attraction and agreement. Various elements unite harmoniously in composition, but when these elements become discordant, repelling each other, decomposition and nonexistence result. Everything partakes of this nature and is subject to this principle, for the creative foundation in all its degrees and kingdoms is an expression or outcome of love. Consider the restlessness and agitation of the human world today because of war. Peace is health and construction; war is disease and dissolution. When the banner of truth is raised, peace becomes the cause of the welfare and advancement of the human world. In all cycles and ages war has been a factor of derangement and discomfort, whereas peace and brotherhood have brought security and consideration of human interests.

Monday, May 13, 1912 5

From morning until the afternoon there was a constant stream of visitors and friends. Then the Master went to another meeting of the New York Peace Society. The moment He entered the spacious hall of the Hotel Astor, the audience broke into such hearty cheers that the very walls of the building echoed. There were some two thousand people in the audience and when Mírzá Valíyu’lláh Khán-i-Varqá and I wished to enter, there was no room. However, the Persian fezes we wore were like crowns of honor and signs of respect. Whoever saw us knew at once that we were the servants of His threshold and assisted us to pass through the crowd until we reached ‘Abdu’l-Bahá so that we could record His words.

Many people welcomed ‘Abdu’l-Bahá with beautiful flowers of varying hues. The beauty of this great peace congress and the eloquence of all the speakers are tributes to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.

Mrs [Anna Garland] Spencer introduced ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, describing Him as the Prophet of the East and the Messenger of Peace. Dr Grant spoke of the calamities that had befallen the Master and His imprisonment for the sake of establishing peace among the peoples of the world. The Consul General of Persia [Mr Topakyan] referred to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá as the Beauty of God and the Glory of the East. Professor Jackson, who had visited Persia, said that peace, prosperity and security would only be attained through this blessed Cause. The president of the society [Dr Stephen S. Wise] then gave an explanation of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s name and welcomed Him most warmly. The Master stood and a great excitement rippled through the audience. Although the Master was tired owing to His many speaking engagements and the difficulties of the journey, and His voice was hoarse, He delivered an incomparable speech. First He thanked the audience for its great love and kindness. He then spoke about the problems associated with peace, giving an explanation of some of the verses and commandments of Bahá’u’lláh regarding unity and the oneness of humanity. The audience was deeply moved. Every eye beheld that gathering as a court of power and majesty where all, like poets, praised in the most beautiful words and verses the Temple of Servitude. Verily, no desire remained unmet for us, the servants of His threshold. We witnessed with our own eyes the victory and confirmation of the Abhá Kingdom. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá repeatedly said, ‘Although I say always that I am ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, a servant of God, still people refer to me as a messenger and a prophet. It would be better if they would not attribute such titles to me.’

In the evening there was a meeting at ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s residence with people from India and Japan. He spoke to them in detail, saying:

“India had a great civilization in former times. That civilization spread from that part of Asia to Syria and Egypt; from Syria it was extended to Greece from whence it found its way to Arabia and Spain. Again, from Spain it spread over most of Europe. The world of man, however, has not yet reached its maturity. The time will come when this material civilization will be infused with divine civilization. Universal peace will be realized and people will become angelic. That will be the time of the world’s maturity.”

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

Mahmud: May 13 — New York Peace Society


  1. Jones, Caitlin Shayda. “One Spark Will Set Aflame the Whole World.” 239 Days in America, May 13, 2012. https://239days.com/2012/05/13/one-spark-will-set-aflame-the-whole-world/.
  2. “From these facts and premises we may conclude that the establishing of the divine religions is for peace, not for war and the shedding of blood. Inasmuch as all are founded upon one reality which is love and unity, the wars and dissensions which have characterized the history of religion have been due to imitations and superstitions which arise afterward. Religion is reality, and reality is one. The fundamentals of the religion of God are, therefore, one in reality. There is neither difference nor change in the fundamentals. Variance is caused by blind imitations, prejudices and adherence to forms which appear later; and inasmuch as these differ, discord and strife result. If the religions of the world would forsake these causes of difficulty and seek the fundamentals, all would agree, and strife and dissension would pass away; for religion and reality are one and not multiple.”
    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, 117-118. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/8#338027932
  3. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 67.
  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, 123. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/8#380056591
  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#section50.

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 18: April 28, 1912 | Washington, DC

‘Abdu’l-Bahá Likes Chicago More 1

LONG BEFORE ‘ABDU’L-BAHÁ set eyes on Chicago, he had decided that this soot-covered city deserved a special place in his heart.

He left Washington from Union Station on Sunday, April 28 at 5:25 p.m., on a twenty-hour train ride along the B&O Railroad to the Windy City. He had spent seventeen days in two of America’s most impressive cities, yet he was heard to say that he “likes Chicago more.” The reason, it turned out, was quite simple. Discovering it requires us to take a trip back two decades into Chicago’s history…

At 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue (Redux) 2

THE PARSONS’ HORSES CLOPPED along the driveway at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue shortly after noon on Sunday, April 28, 1912…

President Taft had invited ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to visit him at the White House at 12:30.

The horses came to a halt under the main entrance portico of the executive mansion. But before ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had a chance to dismount, a White House aide rushed out from the executive offices to make President Taft’s apologies. He had been campaigning in Boston this week in advance of the Massachusetts Republican Primary, which was coming up on Tuesday. But he had only arrived back in Washington at 4 a.m. this morning and would have to leave again for New England on the 6:35 p.m. train. Politics was an unpredictable business, and the President had to postpone.

From the White House, the carriage drove south to the Ellipse, an oval-shaped park just beneath the White House’s south lawn.

After several more interviews and a few last minute visits, the horses trotted down Massachusetts Avenue and back to Union Station, where ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and his party departed on the 5:25 p.m. train to Chicago.

“April 28, 1912 Beyond the World of Words” 3

The Master prepared to leave for Chicago. Among those who came to see Him was the ambassador of Great Britain [a note clarifies that it was Edward Alfred Mitchell [Alfred Mitchell-Innes? or Edward A. Mitchell Innes?], not the ambassador but an employee of the British Embassy in Washington—AP], who was very humble and reverent while in His presence. Many friends, believers and seekers were with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá until His departure at 5:30 p.m. As He was leaving He said to Mrs Parsons:

This was the springtime; we had good meetings at your home; I shall never forget them. I shall pray for divine confirmation for you that you may be assisted both materially and spiritually. This material world has an outward appearance, as it has also an inner reality. All created things are interlinked in a chain leading to spirituality and ultimately ending in abstract realities. I hope that these spiritual links will become stronger day by day and that this communication of hearts, which is termed inspiration, will continue. When this connection exists, bodily separation is not important; this condition is beyond the world of words and above all description.

To others He said, ‘I hope these meetings of ours will bring forth everlasting results. The greatest of all benefits is the oneness of humanity and universal peace.’

Talk at Children’s Reception, Studio Hall, 1219 Connecticut Avenue, Washington, D.C., 24 April 1912

What a wonderful meeting this is! These are the children of the Kingdom. The song we have just listened to was very beautiful in melody and words. The art of music is divine and effective. It is the food of the soul and spirit. Through the power and charm of music the spirit of man is uplifted. It has wonderful sway and effect in the hearts of children, for their hearts are pure, and melodies have great influence in them. The latent talents with which the hearts of these children are endowed will find expression through the medium of music. Therefore, you must exert yourselves to make them proficient; teach them to sing with excellence and effect. It is incumbent upon each child to know something of music, for without knowledge of this art the melodies of instrument and voice cannot be rightly enjoyed. Likewise, it is necessary that the schools teach it in order that the souls and hearts of the pupils may become vivified and exhilarated and their lives be brightened with enjoyment. 4

Sunday, April 28, 1912

The Master prepared to leave for Chicago. Among those who came to see Him was the ambassador of Great Britain, who was very humble and reverent while in His presence. Many friends, believers and seekers were with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá until His departure at 5:30 p.m. As He was leaving He said to Mrs Parsons:

“This was the springtime; we had good meetings at your home; I shall never forget them. I shall pray for divine confirmation for you that you may be assisted both materially and spiritually. This material world has an outward appearance, as it has also an inner reality. All created things are interlinked in a chain leading to spirituality and ultimately ending in abstract realities. I hope that these spiritual links will become stronger day by day and that this communication of hearts, which is termed inspiration, will continue. When this connection exists, bodily separation is not important; this condition is beyond the world of words and above all description.”

To others He said, ‘I hope these meetings of ours will bring forth everlasting results. The greatest of all benefits is the oneness of humanity and universal peace.’

Some friends came to the railway station to see ‘Abdu’l-Bahá off and to gaze once more at the Master’s beautiful countenance. Some were to accompany Him to Chicago. Among them was Mrs Moss, a stenographer, who had requested a Persian name and was given the name Marzieh Khánum.

After crossing the Potomac River, the train entered the state of Virginia, which is exceedingly fertile and green. The scenery on both sides was charming, with a verdant expanse of land as far as the eye could see. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá praised the scenery and said it was most beautiful but His face showed signs of an inner sorrow. After a few minutes He said, ‘Whenever I see such scenes, I feel great sorrow, for the Blessed Beauty liked verdure and greenery very much. God shall never pardon those who imprisoned Him in that place.

The conversation then turned to the train. The Master praised the sleeping car room, the cleanliness of the compartments and the electric lights in them; however, owing to the speed of the train, the Master was not able to sleep. 5

  1. Sockett, Robert. “‘Abdu’l-Bahá Likes Chicago More.” 239 Days in America, April 28, 2012. https://239days.com/2012/04/28/abdul-baha-likes-chicago-more-2/.
  2. Menon, Jonathan. “At 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.” 239 Days in America, April 27, 2012. https://239days.com/2012/04/27/at-1600-pennsylvania-avenue/.
  3. Perry, Anne. “’Abdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in the West . . .: April 28, 1912 Beyond the World of Words.” ’Abdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in the West . . . (blog), April 28, 2012. https://master-in-america.blogspot.com/2012/04/april-28-1912-beyond-world-of-words.html.
  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, 52. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/3#004219341.
  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#section35

239 Days in America, Day 11: April 21, 1912 | Washington, DC

Washington High Society Receives ‘Abdu’l-Bahá 1

Every afternoon at 5 p.m., members of Washington’s elite sought out ‘Abdu’l-Bahá at the Parsons’s home: members of the House of Representatives, of the Senate, and of the Cabinet; Justices of the Supreme Court; officials of foreign embassies; and men of science such as Alexander Graham Bell and Admiral Robert Peary.

Agnes [Parsons] 2 had built a large, bright ballroom to the left of the front door especially for this purpose. It was twenty-five feet wide by fifty feet long, decorated in white with yellow silk curtains, and it seated 150 people. Carved garlands blanketed the ceiling, the paneled walls, and the high mantel at one end of the room. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spoke from a platform in front of the mantel, behind a bank of American Beauty roses that were delivered fresh every day. As the days passed, the crowds grew bigger.

Yet ‘Abdu’l-Bahá didn’t come to Washington simply to meet the nation’s wealthy and powerful. He also intended to assail America’s biggest taboo – the issue of race.

Washington D. C. 3

At 4:00 P.M. He [‘Abdu’l-Bahá ] spoke at the Universalist Church at 13th and L Streets to more than one thousand persons, who had started filling the auditorium an hour before time for the service to begin, In introducing Him the Reverend John Van Schairk, Jr., pastor of the church, said, “After arrangements for this meeting had been made, I received a letter warning me that I should be false to my belief if I held it… Against such narrowness this Church has always stood. We stand today humbly seeking the Spirit of Truth…” 4 ‘Abdu’l-Bahá then addressed the gathering…

Talk at Universalist Church, Thirteenth and L Streets, Washington, D.C.

All the existing nations had a divine foundation of truth or reality originally, which was intended to be conducive to the unity and accord of mankind, but the light of that reality gradually became obscured. The darkness of superstitions and imitations came and took its place, binding the world of humanity in the chains and fetters of ignorance. Enmity arose among men, increasing to such an extent that nation strove against nation in hatred and violence. War has been a religious and political human heritage.

Now it is enough! We must investigate reality. We must put away these superstitions. It is a self-evident truth that all humanity is the creation of God. All are His servants and under His protection. All are recipients of His bestowals. God is kind to all His servants. At most it is this: that some are ignorant; they must be educated in order that they may become intelligent. Some are immature as children; they must be aided and assisted in order that they may become mature. Some are sick and ailing; they must be healed. But the suffering patient must not be tested by false treatment. The child must not be warped and hindered in its development. The ignorant must not be restricted by censure and criticism. We must look for the real, true remedy. 5

Sunday, April 21, 1912

The highlight of the day was a very important and well-attended meeting at the Universalist Church. The minister of the church introduced ‘Abdu’l-Bahá with a most glowing tribute to His life and teachings. Then the Master rose from His seat and delivered an address on the need for cooperation, love, friendship and universal peace. He stressed Christ’s statement that ‘I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth’ [John 16:12-13], and added, ‘And now that time has come and the Divine Spirit has spoken, revealing all truth.’ …

I will now pray on your behalf:

“O Lord! These Thy servants have assembled here out of pure love. They have gathered together in perfect accord and harmony. O God! Illumine their faces, make joyous their souls with Thy most great glad tidings. Brighten their eyes with the verses of Thy guidance and delight their ears with the melody of Thy sweet voice.

O Lord, we are wrongdoers; forgive us. We are sinners; grant us Thy pardon. Shelter us in Thy refuge. Satisfy the needy through Thy forgiveness. Free us from the world of vain imaginings and guide us to the Truth, that we may seek the divine reality, shun the mortal world, approach the divine kingdom and, withdrawn from the world of darkness, enter the realm of light.

Deliver us from the darkness of material existence and illumine us with the rays of the infinite realm. Make us the manifestations of Thy light and the dawning places of Thy signs. Turn us from all else save Thee and cause us to become the recipients of Thy mysteries. Thou, O God, art the Compassionate, the Wise, the Forgiving, the Mighty.” 6

  1. Menon, Jonathan. “‘Abdu’l-Bahá Goes to Washington.” 239 Days in America, April 20, 2012. https://239days.com/2012/04/20/abdul-baha-comes-to-washington/.
  2. Reneau, Annie. “Shining Lamp: Agnes Parsons (1861-1934),” Brilliant Star, September 28, 2017. https://brilliantstarmagazine.org/articles/agnes-parsons-1861-1934.
  3. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 39.
  4. Hannen, Joseph H. “Abdul-Baha in Washington, D.C.” Star of the West, April 28, 1912.
  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, 39-40. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/3#593384709.
  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#section28

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

239 Days in America, Day 1: April 11, 1912 | New York, NY

‘Abdu’l-Bahá Arrives in America 1

After being forty years a prisoner I can tell you that freedom is not a matter of place. It is a condition. . . . When one is released from the prison of self, that is indeed a release.— ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

First Days in America: New York City 2

His [‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s] first words were about the press, saying:

The pages of swiftly appearing newspapers are indeed the mirror of the world… But it behooveth the editors of the newspapers to be sanctified from the prejudice of egotism and desire, and to be adorned with the ornament of equity and justice.” 3

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

I am greatly pleased with the city of New York. Its harbor entrance, its piers, buildings and broad avenues are magnificent and beautiful. Truly, it is a wonderful city. As New York has made such progress in material civilization, I hope that it may also advance spiritually in the Kingdom and Covenant of God so that the friends here may become the cause of the illumination of America, that this city may become the city of love and that the fragrances of God may be spread from this place to all parts of the world. I have come for this. I pray that you may be manifestations of the love of Bahá’u’lláh, that each one of you may become like a clear lamp of crystal from which the rays of the bounties of the Blessed Perfection may shine forth to all nations and peoples. This is my highest aspiration. 4

Wednesday, April 10, 1912 [Thursday, April 11, 1912]

When the boat anchored, some newspaper reporters came on board to see ’Abdu’l-Bahá to ask Him about the purpose of His journey. He replied:

Our object is universal peace and the unity of humankind. I have traveled to Paris and London and now I have come to America to meet with those who seek universal peace and I hope that the peace societies of America will take the lead in promoting this end.

They asked, ‘How can universal peace be achieved?’ ‘Abdu’l-Bahá answered:

Its realization is through the attraction and support of world public opinion. Today universal peace is the panacea for all human life.

They questioned, ‘What are these ills?’ He answered:

One of these ills is the people’s restlessness and discontent under the yoke of the war expenditures of the world’s governments. What the people earn through hard labor is extorted from them by the governments and spent for purposes of war. And every day they increase these expenditures. Thus the burden on men becomes more and more unbearable and the tribulations of the people become more and more severe. This is one of the great ills of the day. What a great tribulation there is in the countries of Italy and Turkey in these days! The fathers hear of the death of their sons and the sons are distressed on hearing the news of the death of their fathers. What cities are laid to ruin and what rising fortunes are thrown to the winds! The antidote for this great ill is world peace, which is the source of universal tranquillity.

They then asked: ‘Is it not possible that peace can become the cause of trouble and that war the means of progress?’ He replied:

No. It is war which is today the cause of all trouble. If all would lay down their arms, they would be freed from all difficulties and every misery would be changed into relief. However, this cannot be brought about except through education and the development of people’s thoughts and ideas. 5

Additional Commentary

Bahá’í s follow the teachings of the prophet and founder of the Bahá’í Faith, Bahá’u’lláh – and they also attempt to follow the spiritual example of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’u’lláh’s son and successor.

Today ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s exemplary life – selfless, altruistic, and entirely devoted to world peace and oneness – inspires millions of people all over the world. It also has a special resonance for the Bahá’í s in North America, because he visited the United States and Canada for eight months in 1912.

Only with the passage of time can we truly appreciate the magnitude and the historic importance of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s visit.

After a lifetime as an exile and a prisoner, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá came to the global West to spread the Bahá’í principles of justice, compassion, and unity. In conversations small and large, he bestowed love, guidance, knowledge, and vision to each soul he encountered. 6

  1. Menon, Jonathan. “‘Abdu’l-Bahá Arrives in America.” 239 Days in America, April 11, 2012. https://239days.com/2012/04/11/abdul-baha-arrives-in-america/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 13.
  3. Dodge, Wendell Phillips. “ABDUL-BAHA’S ARRIVAL IN AMERICA.” Star of the West III, no. 3 (April 28, 1912): 3–5, https://bahai.works/Star_of_the_West/Volume_3/Issue_3/Text#ABDUL-BAHA.27S_ARRIVAL_IN_AMERICA..2A
  4. ’Abdu’l-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, 3, https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/1#820079356.
  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#section17
  6. Ahdieh, Hussein. “Walking in Abdu’l-Baha’s (Actual) Footsteps.” BahaiTeachings.Org, 11 Apr. 2022, https://bahaiteachings.org/walking-in-abdul-bahas-actual-footsteps/.