'Abdu'l-Baha 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 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-Baha ceased. Silence fell upon the room, and it was some time
before it was broken.
Upon another occasion 'Abdu'l-Baha said to a group of friends around him:
Taken in general, 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
'Abdu'l-Baha 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-Baha, 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
Baha'u'llah, and in like manner will all the races of the earth be drawn
together. Of this, rest assured!
Next: The True Baha'i
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