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‘Abdu’l-Bahá in London

  • Author:
  • ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

  • Source:
  • UK Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1982 reprint
  • Pages:
  • 127
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Pages 103-105


‘Abdu’l-Bahá asked the company if they remembered the story of Zenobia and of the fall of Palmyra. He then continued as follows, using his hands in the grave and simple gesticulations characteristic of him:
“There was once a Governor in Ancient Syria, who had a beautiful and clever wife. She was so capable that when the Governor died, she was made ruler in his stead. The land prospered under her sway, and men acknowledged that she was a better ruler than her husband. After a time the legions of Rome invaded the country, but again and again she drove them out with great confusion. She let down her beautiful hair, and herself rode at the head of her army, clad in a scarlet cloak, wearing a crown of gold, and wielding a two-edged sword in her hand. The 104 Roman Caesar then withdrew his strength from five other provinces in order to subdue her. After a long and brave fight Zenobia retired into the city of Palmyra, which she strengthened with wonderful fortifications, and there she endured a siege of four months, Caesar being unable to dislodge her. The food she had stored within the walls at last was gone, and the misery of her starving and plague-stricken people compelled her to surrender.
“Caesar was full of admiration for this great woman, because of her courage and endurance, and he asked her to become his wife. But she refused, saying that she would never consent to take as her husband the enemy of her people. Thereupon, Caesar was enraged, and determined to humble her. He took her back with him in his ships to Rome. For his triumphal entry a great procession was prepared, and the streets were filled with people. In the procession came first elephants, after the elephants came the camels, after the camels came the tigers and the leopards, after the leopards came the monkeys, and lastly, after the monkeys, walked Zenobia with a gold chain round her neck. Still she carried her head high, and was firm in her determination. Nothing could break her spirit! She refused to become the Empress of Caesar, so she was thrown into a dungeon, and eventually she died.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá ceased. Silence fell upon the room, and it was some time before it was broken.
Upon another occasion ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said to a group of friends around him: “Taken in general, 105 women today have a stronger sense of religion than men. The woman’s intuition is more correct; she is more receptive and her intelligence is quicker. The day is coming when woman will claim her superiority to man.
“Woman has everywhere been commended for her faithfulness. After the Lord Christ suffered, the disciples wept, and gave way to their grief. They thought that their hopes were shattered, and that the Cause was utterly lost, till Mary Magdalene came to them and strengthened them saying: ‘Do you mourn the body of Our Lord or His Spirit? If you mourn His Spirit, you are mistaken, for Jesus lives! His Spirit will never leave us!’ Thus through her wisdom and encouragement the Cause of Christ was upheld for all the days to come. Her intuition enabled her to grasp the spiritual fact.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá then added: “But in the sight of God sex makes no difference. He or she is greatest who is nearest to God.”
One morning ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, on entering the room looked about and said: “It is just like a miracle, our being here together. There is no racial, political or patriotic tie. We are drawn together by the words of Bahá’u’lláh, and in like manner will all the races of the earth be drawn together. Of this, rest assured!”