A Modern Prophet 1

“THERE IS NO DOUBT, among thinking people, that this man represents, in great degree, the growing and evolving spirit of our times.” That was Elbert Hubbard in “A Modern Prophet,” an article he wrote about ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in the July 22, 1912, issue of Hearst’s Magazine….

“According to Abdul Baha,” Hubbard wrote in Hearst’s Magazine, “we are now living in a period of time that marks the beginning of the millennium – a thousand years of peace, happiness and prosperity.” He told his readers that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had come to the West with a mission, and that no one should doubt his sincerity. “He is no mere eccentric,” Hubbard added.

Elbert Hubbard likely never met ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Whatever means he used to research his article, he managed to simultaneously capture the spirit of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s message while getting most of his facts wrong. “He speaks many languages and certainly speaks English better than most Americans do,” Hubbard wrote. Of course, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá barely spoke a word of English. Hubbard also claimed that one-third of all Persians had joined the Bahá’í religion.

New Hampshire 2

Abdu’l-Bahá left New York at 8:00 A.M. on Tuesday, July 23, and arrived in Boston for a second visit at 3:30 P.M. He sent most of His entourage on to Dublin, New Hampshire, but He and a translator and secretary took rooms at the Victoria Hotel in Boston, where a public meeting was held at 6:00 P.M. After that He went to Mrs. [Alice Ives] Francis W. Breed’s home and talked to a large group of people before returning to the hotel.

I pray that they may receive confirmation so that this country may become the center of efforts for peace. 3

‘Abdu’l-Bahá left New York at 8:00 a.m. for Boston and Dublin, reaching Boston at 3:30 p.m. A number of friends were at the train station to receive Him. As soon as they saw Him, they hovered around Him like moths around a candle, anxious to sacrifice themselves before Him. As He did not plan to stay in Boston for more than two nights, He instructed everyone in His entourage except an interpreter and a secretary to go directly to Dublin.

He then went to the Hotel Victoria where the public meeting was held at 6:00 p.m. There were both Bahá’ís and non-Bahá’ís present as well as some journalists who questioned Him about His purpose in coming to America. The Master replied:

I came for the peace gatherings in America. They are good. But their efforts must not end in words alone. I pray that they may receive confirmation so that this country may become the center of efforts for peace.

His address was on economic problems.

In the evening He was invited to dine at the home of Mrs [Alice Ives] Breed. As the Master left the hotel, crowds of people stood in rows as He passed through them. That evening He spoke about the persecutions and tribulations of the Manifestations of God, the reconciliation of the hearts and the victory of this blessed Cause of God. After dinner He made the long and tedious journey back to the hotel.

Talk at Hotel Victoria, Boston, Massachusetts 4

The fundamentals of the whole economic condition are divine in nature and are associated with the world of the heart and spirit. This is fully explained in the Bahá’í teaching, and without knowledge of its principles no improvement in the economic state can be realized. The Bahá’ís will bring about this improvement and betterment but not through sedition and appeal to physical force—not through warfare, but welfare. Hearts must be so cemented together, love must become so dominant that the rich shall most willingly extend assistance to the poor and take steps to establish these economic adjustments permanently. If it is accomplished in this way, it will be most praiseworthy because then it will be for the sake of God and in the pathway of His service. For example, it will be as if the rich inhabitants of a city should say, “It is neither just nor lawful that we should possess great wealth while there is abject poverty in this community,” and then willingly give their wealth to the poor, retaining only as much as will enable them to live comfortably.

Strive, therefore, to create love in the hearts in order that they may become glowing and radiant. When that love is shining, it will permeate other hearts even as this electric light illumines its surroundings. When the love of God is established, everything else will be realized. This is the true foundation of all economics. Reflect upon it. Endeavor to become the cause of the attraction of souls rather than to enforce minds. Manifest true economics to the people. Show what love is, what kindness is, what true severance is and generosity. This is the important thing for you to do. Act in accordance with the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh. All His Books will be translated. Now is the time for you to live in accordance with His words. Let your deeds be the real translation of their meaning. Economic questions will not attract hearts. The love of God alone will attract them. Economic questions are most interesting; but the power which moves, controls and attracts the hearts of men is the love of God.

  1. Jones, Caitlin Shayda. “A Modern Prophet.” 239 Days in America, 23 July 2012, https://239days.com/2012/07/23/elbert-hubbard-modern-prophet-original-hippie/. [return]
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 117. [return]
  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=5#section121 [return]
  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, 238-239. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/17#978851230 [return]