'Abdu'l-Baha's interest in women's work and progress is well known, and
among the notable leaders who came to see him, may be mentioned Mrs. Annie
Besant, President of the Theosophical Society, the organizers of various
suffrage bodies, civic and philanthropic workers, the principals of
several woman's colleges and lady doctors.
A spirited conversation due to the visit of an ardent suffragist will be
long remembered by those who had the privilege of being present. The room
was full of men and women, many Persians being seated in their familiar
respectful attitude on the floor.
After contrasting the general position of the Eastern and the Western
women, and then describing how in many respects the Eastern woman has the
advantage of her Western sister, 'Abdu'l-Baha turned and said to the
visitor: Give me your reasons for believing that woman today should have
Answer: I believe that humanity is a divine humanity and that it must
rise higher and higher; but it cannot soar with only one wing.
'Abdu'l-Baha expressed his pleasure at this answer, and smiling, replied:
But what will you do if one wing is stronger than the other? Answer:
Then we must strengthen the weaker wing, otherwise the flight will always
'Abdu'l-Baha smiled and asked: What will you say if I prove to you that
the woman is the stronger wing?
The answer came in the same bright vein: You will earn my eternal
gratitude! at which all the company made merry.
'Abdu'l-Baha then continued more seriously: The woman is indeed of the
greater importance to the race. She has the greater burden and the greater
work. Look at the vegetable and the animal worlds. The palm which carries
the fruit is the tree most prized by the date grower. The Arab knows that
for a long journey the mare has the longest wind. For her greater strength
and fierceness, the lioness is more feared by the hunter than the lion.
The mere size of the brain has been proved to be no measure of
superiority. The woman has greater moral courage than the man; she has
also special gifts which enable her to govern in moments of danger and
crisis. If necessary she can become a warrior.
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