‘Abdu’l-Bahá Speaks at Stanford University 1
“THE HIGHEST PRAISE is due to men who devote their energies to science,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said, “and the noblest center is a center wherein the sciences and arts are taught and studied.” He wouldn’t have heard many complaints from the audience he was addressing on the morning of Tuesday, October 8, 1912 — two thousand students and faculty of Stanford University.
They had filled the Assembly Hall just before 10 a.m. and now, at about 10:25, they looked up at the stage from the rows of wooden seats arcing across the floor of the auditorium, and down upon it from behind the filigreed balustrade of the balcony that ringed the space in a semicircle. They awaited the “venerable prophet, with his long gray beard and Persian cloak and turban,” the Palo Altan, a local newspaper, observed.
On Wednesday, October 9, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spoke to a large gathering at a high school auditorium in Berkeley.
If two persons differ in a matter and that difference ends in discord, then both are wrong and their position unacceptable 3
Before He left Palo Alto several people gathered around ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. He spoke of the differences in various religions, with special reference to Christianity, saying:
Some called Christ God, some the Word of God, some others the Prophet of God, and through these differences disputes arose so that instead of spirituality there was hatred and amity was replaced by enmity. But Bahá’u’lláh has closed all the doors to such differences by appointing the interpreter of the Book and by establishing the Universal House of Justice – that is, the People’s Parliament. And by commanding an end to interference in people’s beliefs and consciences, He has barred the way to these divisions. He has even said that if two persons differ in a matter and that difference ends in discord, then both are wrong and their position unacceptable.
After many similar talks, the Master returned to San Francisco. A meeting was especially called in the evening at the Japanese Club to hear Him speak. As the meeting began, a Japanese scholar stood up, and after obtaining permission from the Master, recited in English an ode about the attributes of the Cause of God and praising ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. The chairman then introduced the Master with great respect.
The Master then gave a fascinating talk on the dangers of prejudice, the validity and proofs of the Prophets and the truth of Islam and Christianity. He also spoke on the spread of the Cause of God, the influence of the divine teachings and spiritual education, as well as explaining the teachings and writings of Bahá’u’lláh. Even though the talk was first translated from Persian into English and then from English into Japanese, the audience was awed and excited to hear His powerful reasoning and was anxious to hear the translation of the talk.
From this day forward multitudes came every day in great humility to see ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and to offer praise and thanks for the teachings.
Talk to Japanese Young Men’s Christian Association, Japanese Independent Church, Oakland, California 4
Religion must be the cause of love. Religion must be the cause of justice, for the wisdom of the Manifestations of God is directed toward the establishing of the bond of a love which is indissoluble. The bonds which hold together the body politic are not sufficient. These bonds may be mentioned—for instance, the bond of patriotism. This is evidently not a sufficient bond, for how often it happens that people of the same nation wage civil war amongst themselves. The bond of fellowship may be racial, but history proves this is not sufficiently strong, for tremendous wars have broken out between peoples of the same racial lineage. Again, the bond holding men together may be political. How often it happens that the diplomacy of nations makes a treaty of peace one day and on the morrow a declaration of war! It is historically evident and manifest that these bonds are not self-sufficient.
- Menon, Jonathan. “‘Abdu’l-Bahá Speaks at Stanford University.” 239 Days in America, 9 Oct. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/10/09/abdul-bahas-landmark-address-at-stanford-university/. [return]
- Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 167. [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=8#section200 [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, 344. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/27#206325873 [return]