239 Days in America, Day 173: September 30, 1912 | Salt Lake City
September 30, 1912: The Week Ahead 1
DURING THE PAST WEEK, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spent three days in Denver, Colorado, before continuing his train ride westward. After spending the night at the Hotel Colorado in Glenwood Springs, amidst the spectacular mountain scenery and natural hot springs, he arrived in Salt Lake City at 2 p.m. yesterday. Today, he is attending the National Irrigation Congress at the Mormon Tabernacle, where he has been invited to sit on the speakers’ platform.
In the week ahead: ‘Abdu’l-Bahá travels to San Francisco. During the train ride, he writes an extensive letter to Agnes Parsons, addressing a wide range of economic issues. We’ll take a close look at the contents of this letter. We’ll also paint a portrait of San Francisco in 1912, and cover ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s meeting with the Mayor of Berkeley.
Minnesota, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah 2
On Monday morning, September 30, 1912, the Salt Lake City Tribune printed an article headed, “COMES TO LECTURE ON BAHAI RELIGION: Leader of Movement Will Explain Tenets to People of Salt Lake”:
Abdul Baha Abbas, leader of the Bahai movement, which he says has 10,000,000 followers in the world, is in Salt Lake City. He is making a tour of the United States and plans to lecture on his religion here.
The principal tenets of the Bahai doctrines are the brotherhood of man and the fatherhood of God; the establishment of universal peace, the creation of a universal language and the establishment of a tribunal to which all the nations in the world would come to settle arguments. Its followers must seek out the truth in all matters of religion and conduct for themselves. They must have no pre-conceptions, handed down from their fathers, but must search and decide the truth for themselves.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá rode all day on Monday, September 30, traveling to California. Among the many things He spoke of to His companions, Mahmúd recalled His saying, “‘The Cause of God is penetrating and ere long it will surround the whole world. I see the expanse of America full of Bahais. Formerly when we asserted in the East that international peace was a necessity the people laughted at us. Now behold the congresses of peace that have come into existence. The law of God is the panacea for all ills. …’”
Indeed, what holy beings are raised up under the shadow of the Word of God! 3
Today the Master was in the best of health and happiness. In spite of all the hardships of the long journey, He was as charmingly fresh as a flower. With unmitigated joy He mentioned the Blessed Beauty, Bahá’u’lláh.
In the afternoon He spoke about spiritual education and intellectual training:
Peter was devoid of all schooling and so untrained that he could not remember the days of the week. He would tie up seven loaves of bread and open one each day. When he opened the seventh parcel he would know that it was the seventh day and that he had to go to the synagogue. However, under Christ his spiritual education was such that he became the cause of the enlightenment of the world. Indeed, what holy beings are raised up under the shadow of the Word of God!
I remember once in Tihrán when I was a child, I was sitting by Áqá Siyyid Yahyá Vahíd when Mírzá ‘Alíy-i-Sayyáh came in wearing the táj and carrying the rod of a dervish and with his bare feet covered with mud. Someone asked him where he was coming from. He replied that he had come from the fortress of Máh-Kú, from the august presence of the Báb. Vahíd arose immediately and threw himself at the feet of Sayyáh, and with tears streaming down his face he rubbed his beard on Sayyáh’s feet saying, ‘He has come from the court of the Beloved.’ Although Vahíd was a renowned and illustrious person, still he was humble before the servants of the Threshold of God.
Among the interesting things we saw along the way were the wooden covers over the railroad tracks. For a distance of some 50 miles deep passes are snow bound during the entire winter and become impassable for the trains. Now, owing to these covers, the difficulties are removed and the train can pass easily through the area. In English, these covers are called snow sheds. The history of California records that in olden times many people became snowbound and perished in these parts. One example is the the Donner party, the story of whose demise is very sad.
25 September 1912, Talk at Second Divine Science Church, 3929 West Thirty-eighth Avenue, Denver, Colorado 4
Each one of the divine religions has established two kinds of ordinances: the essential and the accidental. The essential ordinances rest upon the firm, unchanging, eternal foundations of the Word itself. They concern spiritualities, seek to stabilize morals, awaken intuitive susceptibilities, reveal the knowledge of God and inculcate the love of all mankind. The accidental laws concern the administration of outer human actions and relations, establishing rules and regulations requisite for the world of bodies and their control. These are ever subject to change and supersedure according to exigencies of time, place and condition. For example, during the time of Moses, ten commandments concerning the punishment of murder were revealed in His Book. Divorce was sanctioned and polygamy allowable to a certain extent. If a man committed theft, his hand was cut off. This was drastic law and severe punishment applicable to the time of Moses. But when the time of Christ came, minds had developed, realizations were keener and spiritual perceptions had advanced so that certain laws concerning murder, plurality of wives and divorce were abrogated. But the essential ordinances of the Mosaic dispensation remained unchanged. These were the fundamental realities of the knowledge of God and the holy Manifestations, the purification of morals, the awakening of spiritual susceptibilities—eternal principles in which there is no change or transformation. Briefly, the foundation of the divine religions is one eternal foundation, but the laws for temporary conditions and exigencies are subject to change. Therefore, by adherence to these temporary laws, blindly following and imitating ancestral forms, difference and divergence have arisen among followers of the various religions, resulting in disunion, strife and hatred. Blind imitations and dogmatic observances are conducive to alienation and disagreement; they lead to bloodshed and destruction of the foundations of humanity. Therefore, the religionists of the world must lay aside these imitations and investigate the essential foundation or reality itself, which is not subject to change or transformation. This is the divine means of agreement and unification.
- Sockett, Robert. “September 30, 1912: The Week Ahead.” 239 Days in America, 30 Sept. 2012, http://stagingtwo39.wpengine.com/2012/09/30/september-30-1912-the-week-ahead/. [return]
- Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 163-164. [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=7#section190 [return]
- 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, 338-339. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/26#987408459 [return]