Mahmud’s Diary – The Diary of Mirza Mahmud-i-Zarqani Chronicling ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s Journey to America, Translated by Mohi Sobhani

In the spring of 1912 Abdu'l-Baha set off from Alexandria on His historic journey to America. Among his small entourage was Mirza Mahmud- i-Zarqani, who became, in the words of Shoghi Effendii, “the chronicler of His travels”.

Mirza Mahmud went everywhere with ‘Abdu’l-Baha making extensive notes not only of the Master's many public talks and conversations with individuals but also of the new sights and experiences they found in America as well as the daily routines of eating, writing letters and travelling. Mahmud remarks on the novelty of the New York skyscrapers, electric lights and American foods and customs for Abdu'l Baha’s party as well as the picturesque spectacle provided to the Americans by His entourage in their ‘abas and Persian hats.

The result was a unique diary “regarded as a reliable account of Abdu'l-Baha's travels in the West and an authentic record of His utterances, whether in the form of formal talks, table talks or random oral statements. Mirza Mahmud was a careful and faithful chronicler and engaged in assembling and publishing his work with the permission of the beloved Master . . “ (The Universal House of Justice).

The translations of the talks of Abdu'l-Baha and His words found in the present volume were read and revised at the Baha’Ii World Centre. Many newly translated talks of Abdu’l-Baha are included which are not available elsewhere.
(From the description at the back of the book)

The present work is a translation of the first volume of Mahmud’s Badayi’u’l-Atha’r, an impressive documentary which he appears to have written from his notes on his return to the Middle East in 1913. Mahmud made extensive notes of many of 'Abdu'l-Baha's major talks and various private conversations. The translations of 'Abdu'l-Baha's words recorded in the present volume were read and revised at the Baha'i World Centre. The publisher is grateful to Kalimat Press, who undertook the original translations of these passages, for their kind permission to use these translations in the present volume.

The Universal House of Justice, in a letter of April 30, 1954 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States, stated that it

. . . attaches great importance to this work which, as you may know, is regarded as a reliable account of 'Abdu'l- Baha's travels in the West and an authentic record of His utterances, whether in the form of formal talks, table talks or random oral statements. Mirza Mahmud was a careful and faithful chronicler and engaged in assembling and publishing his work with the permission of the beloved Master, as he states in the Introduction. Indeed, Shoghi Effendi drew upon it for details about the Master's visit to the West in writing God Passes By. .
(From A Note from the Publisher section of the book)