Happy Fourth of July! 1
“THERE WERE CELEBRATIONS EVERYWHERE,” Mahmúd wrote on July 4, in his chronicle of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s trip to America.
Mahmúd-i-Zarqání had traveled to America with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá on the Cedric from Egypt, and accompanied him on his journey across the country as one of his secretaries. On July 4, 1912, Mahmúd was about to get his first taste of a good old-fashioned American celebration: a Fourth of July parade in New York.
New York Mayor William J. Gaynor had sent ‘Abdu’l-Bahá an invitation the week before while he was still in Montclair, New Jersey. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, who was recovering from exhaustion, replied that he would come if time permitted. His schedule in America involved periods of intense activity where he greeted guests from 7:00 a.m. to well after midnight, or spoke at five gatherings in a single day, alternating with shorter periods of rest. He didn’t say yes to every invitation.
New York City 2
And then came July 4. The mayor of New York asked Abdu’l-Bahá to be with him on the parade reviewing stand. Abdu’l-Bahá did not go, but sent the other Persian friends to represent Him.
After an evening meal in Abdu’l-Bahá’s house honoring the birthday of Juliet Thompson’s mother, the Master spoke of tests. “Even the sword is no test to the Persian believers. They are given a chance to recant they cry out instead: ‘Ya Bahá’u’l-Abhá!’ Then the sword is raised. They cry out all the more, ‘Ya Bahá’u’l-Abhá!’ But some of the people here are tested if I don’t say, ‘How do you do.’” 3
He spoke at length in His home about the coming of the Promised One 4
Today was the anniversary of the Independence of the United States from England. There were celebrations everywhere. The Master was invited to attend the Fourth of July parade to which the mayor was also invited. A special messenger had been sent to the Master at Montclair with the invitation. He replied then that He would come if His schedule would permit. As it was not a spiritual occasion, the Master did not go but in order to show His interest, He sent us, His companions, wearing our Persian hats and ‘abás. We arrived before the mayor, were received with great honor as representatives of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, and were given seats near the mayor’s chair. There were people there from many nations including China, Japan, Turkey and India, as well as members of the American military and businesses carrying flags and decorations for the celebration. All of these passed before the mayor and were followed by parades of men, women, boys and girls in gala dress and singing sweetly. As they passed by the mayor’s stand, he spoke to all gracefully and kindly. After the parade it was the turn of the poets and speech-makers.
When we returned from the event to the Master, we described all that had taken place. It was well that He did not go because the excessive heat and crowds would have been a strain to His strength and health. Whenever it is beneficial to the interests of the Cause, He endures every kind of hardship. For example, on certain days during this journey, in spite of exhaustion and fatigue, He went to faraway places and attended many gatherings in the course of one day. He said, ‘I am continually speaking from morning until evening. Not even the strongest person would have such patience and fortitude.’
In the afternoon, at the request of friends, He went for an automobile ride into town. In the evening He spoke at length in His home about the coming of the Promised One.
- Jones, Caitlin Shayda. “Happy Fourth of July!” 239 Days in America, 4 July 2012, https://239days.com/2012/07/04/on-the-fourth-of-july/. [return]
- Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 108. [return]
- Thompson, Juliet. The Diary of Juliet Thompson. Edited by Marzieh Gail. 1st ed. 1947. Reprint, Los Angeles: Kalimát Press, 1983, 326-327. https://bahai-library.com/thompson_diary&chapter=4. [return]
- ’Abdu’l-Bahá, and Mirza Mahmud-i-Zarqani. Mahmúd’s Diary: The Diary of Mírzá Mahmúd-i-Zarqání Chronicling ’Abdu’l-Bahá’s Journey to America. Edited by Shirley Macias. Translated by Mohi Sobhani. Oxford: George Ronald, 1998. https://bahai-library.com/zarqani_mahmuds_diary&chapter=5#section101. [return]