`Abdu ́l-Bahá’s visit to Minneapolis

`Abdu ́l-Bahá’ visited Minneapolis on September 18-20 of 1912. The main newspapers of the time, the Minneapolis Tribune and the Minneapolis Journal both covered his stay in the city. He visited Loring Park and stayed in the Plaza Hotel. He was invited to visit the Jewish Reform Temple, Shaarai Tov Temple, which today is known as Temple Israel in Minneapolis, and he gave a talk in the home of Albert Hall.

The coverage by the newspapers was largely positive. The Minneapolis Journal wrote: 

“The Bahaist Movement has for its object the unification of all religions, universal peace and the establishment of love for humanity as the supreme religious test. His followers remain in their original churches as there is no conflict between Bahaists and the various sects they are trying to unite.”

Although the Baha’i Faith and other world religions can and do directly conflict with each other at times, this statement reflects the positive perspective the newspaper had of `Abdu ́l-Bahá’. The Minneapolis Tribune described `Abdu ́l-Bahá’ by saying, “Long flowing white beard, strange garments, and speaking in a strange tongue, he has about him to the Native American, a mysterious something.” On September 19, 1912, The Minneapolis Journal ran a front page story on `Abdu ́l-Bahá’, shown in the photo above. 

Mírzá Mahmúd, an Iranian Bahá'í,  accompanied `Abdu ́l-Bahá’ on the trip. On the interaction with the Jewish Rabbi, he wrote:

"...The Rabbi replied that the prophets of God had always been thrown into prison, and at this time `Abdu ́l-Bahá’, the chosen of God was imprisoned. The Beloved remarked, “I am a servant of God. Yes, the custom of the people is this: that they first persecute all prophets and holy ones and thne after them prostrate before their names.” The Rabbi was greatly moved and attracted and when he wished to go the Beloved took him in His embrace and said, “I desire that all religions may join in bonds of brotherhood and love.”

In the home of Albert Hall, `Abdu ́l-Bahá’ spoke on material versus spiritual progress, the importance of reason with tradition and experience, part of the independent investigation of truth, and oneness of humanity. He said:

“Throughout the world, material civilization has attained truly wonderful heights and degrees of efficiency; that is to say, the outward powers and virtues of man have greatly developed but the inner and ideal virtues have been correspondingly delayed and neglected. It is now the time in the history of the world for us to strive and give an impetus to the advancement and development of inner forces; that is to say, we must arise to service in the world of morality, for human morals are in need of readjustment.”

On the importance of reason, he wrote:

“In divine questions we must not depend entirely upon the heritage of tradition and former human experience; nay, rather, we must exercise reason, analyze and logically examine the facts presented so that confidence will be inspired and faith attained. Then and then only the reality of things will be revealed to us . . . We must discover for ourselves where and what reality is.”

He ended his talk with unity:

“Man must spiritually perceive that religion has been intended by God to be the means of grace, the source of life and cause of agreement . . . Therefore when man through sincere investigation discovers the fundamental reality of religion, his former prejudices disappear and this new condition of enlightenment is conducive to the development of the world of humanity.”