239 Days in America, Day 91: July 10, 1912 | New York
Heat Wave Knocks Out the Northeast 1
“The heat in New York is very terrible,” Ahmad Sohrab, one of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s translators, wrote to Agnes Parsons on July 9. “Especially the last three days it has been unbearable, yet the Master is standing firm on his ground.” In spite of the heat, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spoke to hundreds of people every evening at 8 p.m. in his house at 309 West 78th Street on the Upper West Side. “There is a great change in New York,” Sohrab wrote, “and although it is in the height of summer every night the three large rooms on the second floor are crowded by new people.”
Ahmad Sohrab had lived in the United States since 1901, and had arranged many of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s speaking engagements in America. Agnes Parsons, whom ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had stayed with in Washington, had already invited him to visit her summer home in Dublin, New Hampshire, but he had turned her down. “It will be well if you write him at this time another letter asking him to go to Dublin,” Ahmad told her. “I cannot see him living through this heat. It melts iron.”
New York City 2
Mrs. Getsinger was not the only one to receive Abdu’l-Bahá’s personal guidance and deepening. Every friend who came had precious moments with Him, for His words and deeds were matched exactly to each one’s needs. Juliet Thompson, who wished very much to have prayer beads used by Him, brought Him hers to use for a time. Later she found Him sitting with a lapful of beads brought by the friends. Hers He had given to someone else. Thus she learned another lesson.
_Diary of Juliet Thompson_, 10 July 1912 3
On the tenth of July, I went to the Master in the early morning with something in my heart to say, but already there were people with Him and I saw no chance of talking privately.
“Come, Juliet, sit by Me,” He called as I entered the room. “Now, speak.”
How could I, before those people? I hesitated.
“All your hopes and desires are destined to be fulfilled,” He said, “in the Kingdom of God.”
This was my cue.
“I came to tell You, my Lord, that now I have only one desire, to offer my heart for Your service.”
“This you will also do, but all your desires will be fulfilled.”
He kept me to lunch that day. While we were waiting in the English basement for the lunch to be announced, Valíyu’lláh Khán and I alone with the Master, He spoke again of my “truthfulness”.
“Oh,” I prayed, “may I some day have all the virtues so that in every way I can make you happy.”
“But he who possesses truthfulness possesses all the virtues,” said the Master. Then He went on to tell us a story. “There was once a disciple of Muhammad who asked of another disciple, ‘What shall I do to please God?’ And the other disciple replied: ‘Do not kill. Do not steal. Do not covet,’ etc., etc., etc. A great many ‘do nots’.” the Master laughed. “He asked still another, ‘What shall I do to become nearer to God?’ And this one said: ‘You must supplicate and pray. You must be generous. You must be courageous,’ etc., etc., etc. Then the disciple went to ‘Alí. ‘What do you say I should do in order to please God and to become nearer to Him?’ ‘One thing only: be truthful.’
“For,” continued the Master, “if you are truthful, you cannot commit murder. You would have to confess it! Neither can you steal. You would have to confess it. So, if one is truthful, he possesses all the virtues.
“I may tell you this,” He said to me, and He told me a thing so wonderful that, even to keep and cherish His words and read them over in the time to come, I cannot repeat it here.
“My Lord,” I said, “if ever I have told You an untruth it was because I deceived myself.”
“There are degrees of truth,” He answered, “but that word of yours which has so pleased Me was absolute, perfect, extraordinary truth.”
Be indifferent to what the people possess and the people will love you. 4
A number of friends were waiting for ‘Abdu’l-Bahá when He arrived with a paper from Mírzá Abu’l-Fadl in His hand. He gave it to us and said, ‘Read it. It is very interesting.’ It was an answer to criticisms of one Siyyid ‘Abdu’lláh, an enemy of the Cause. These criticisms are themselves more proof of the greatness of the Center of the Covenant than are the praises of the friends. Mírzá Abu’l-Fadl has recorded the very words of this critic in his book.
Although that Siyyid had embraced Christianity, thus retrogressing, he appeals in his pamphlet to the nationalities of the world, even the Zoroastrians and Jews, to cooperate with him in his opposition to the Bahá’í Faith. The English press of Cairo published his pamphlet in the month of Naisan 1912. In his pamphlet, he attributes the success of the Cause to the virtues and perfections of the Center of the Covenant. Below is a passage from the second chapter of his pamphlet:
And when we reflect upon his [the Master’s] work and the work of his father, we find a great difference between the two. The foundation laid down by Bahá’u’lláh did not rise except very little. It was not even apparent to the eyes of outsiders. But what has been built upon it by ‘Abbás [’Abdu’l-Bahá] since the time of the passing of his father, which does not exceed twenty years, is really striking. We see millions of people of various religions and diverse denominations such as Muslims, Christians, heathens, Buddhists and Hindus drawn and attracted to His Cause from such remote countries as America, Caucasia, Russia, Great Britain and the shore of India.
In the fifth chapter, he wrote:
What vast genius, striking intelligence, consummate opulence and tried virtue has enabled ‘Abbás Effendi to attract multitudes of people from diverse denominations and languages? Even this month he received hundreds of letters from his American friends, supplicating him to visit them. They sent 1,000 guineas196 to defray the expenses of his journey. He granted their request as he had promised them last year, but sent back their guineas with thanks and apology, saying that it was not his custom to accept such things. Consider this great opulence which was related to me by one of his followers and also spoken of by some Egyptian papers. Look to this virtue and piety which is the cause of love and affection as is said by our ancestor, the author of Islamic law: ‘Be indifferent to what the people possess and the people will love you.’
At the table the Master read this paper and smiled. He remarked that according to the words of the Qur’án, the deniers said to the Messenger of God, ‘Verily, Thou art an insane one.’ But now, according to the words of the deniers of the Cause, ‘vast genius, striking intelligence, consummate opulence, tried virtue’ and the majesty of the Center of the Covenant have become a cause for the attraction of hearts. The preeminence and power of the Cause is established even by the words of its enemies. Today the services of Mírzá Abu’l-Fadl were mentioned repeatedly by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.
- Menon, Jonathan. “Heat Wave Knocks Out the Northeast.” 239 Days in America, 10 July 2012, https://239days.com/2012/07/10/heat-wave-knocks-out-the-northeast/. [return]
- Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 109-110. [return]
- Thompson, Juliet. The Diary of Juliet Thompson. Edited by Marzieh Gail. 1st ed. 1947. Reprint, Los Angeles: Kalimát Press, 1983, 332-333. https://bahai-library.com/thompson_diary&chapter=4#fnB90 [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#section107 [return]