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‘Abdul Bába Suffrage Advocate Sex Equality Need for Progress

Abdul Baba Suffrage Advocate Sex Equality Need for Progress
The San Francisco Examiner
October 4, 1912
San Francisco, CA

Famous Leader Asserts Americans Are Lovable, but Submerged in Dollar Hunting.

Surrounded by his Persian secretaries, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá Abbas, one of the great leader of the modern times and spiritual adviser to fifty million followers, sat in an armchair at 1815 California street last night, discussing American manners and ideals, suffrage and women’s fashions, and told of the most wonderful things he had found in America.

The aged philosopher and head of the Bahá’í movement, which teaches the fundamental unity of all creeds, and the blessedness of universal peace, arrived in San Francisco on the Overland Limited late Wednesday night for a stay of three weeks. During this period he will speak from the pulpits of a number of churches of varying denominations, and on Tuesday he will address the students of Stanford University. Last night his interpreter was Dr. Ameen Fareed, a graduate of the University of Chicago.

Submerged in Dollar Chase.

America is a prosperous country,” he said. “The wealth of the nation is increasing. Its development is phenomenal. It has civilized men and gracious ladies, but they are all submerged in materialism.

The American people are a hospitable people, stranger-loving and very noble. I have found them quite courteous.”

He has not ridden a great deal in street cars. He has been much in motors,” explained Dr. Fareed, laughing, and translating his aside into the strange Persian for ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, who sat with his shawl drawn tight up under his long white beard, his eyes closed in fatigue, and his white turban tilted forward. The teacher laughed, too.

How about woman suffrage?” Dr. Fareed asked in the jerky Persian.

The world of humanity is possessed of two wings, one represented by the male, the other by the female,” was the reply. “Both must be strong in order that the world of humanity may fly. Equality of rights and prerogatives of men and women is finding foothold in America faster than in other parts. Until suffrage is established, the body-politic will not achieve its progress. Women are the first educators of man. Hence womankind must be educated until they reach the level of man.”

Balks at Delicate Question.

Do you regard American women as being at the level of American men?” was asked.

Let us not discuss that,” said ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, hastily, through his interpreter.

The Persian philosopher was then asked about moving picture shows and theatres, and other phases of American city life.

I have never seen any. I have come to America to advocate international peace and the oneness of humanity, not for sightseeing,” the philosopher explained, gently.

We have paid no great attention to fashions and picture hats. We have no regard for the external clothes. If a woman is virtuous, refined, near God, in our estimation she is praiseworthy and revered, in no matter what clothes.

This Nation Is Free.

The most wonderful thing I have found in America is its liberty. This nation is in reality free, and this government is fair.

International peace to-day is the greatest issue of humanity.”

Abdu’l-Bahá and his train have visited the largest cities of the United States and Canada since April. The aged teacher pays his own expenses and declines all contributions. He will occupy the pulpits of the First Unitarian and the First Congregational churches in this city, besides speaking in synagogues, cathedrals and in private homes. Besides Dr. Fareed, who has addressed the Commonwealth Club and other San Francisco organizations on previous occasions, he is attended by Mirza Ahmad Sohrah, special correspondent of a Persian newspaper published at Cairo, Egypt; Mirza Mahmood, and Ali Akbar, a Russian, who act as secretaries. He also has a Japanese servant.

Abdu’l-Bahá urges the American people to develop a divine as well as a material civilization, adopting what is best of the creeds of Christians, Mohammeds, Buddhists, Shintos, or Jews. Out of Persia has come one to refute the fatalistic teachings of Omar Khayyam.

He teaches for the Twentieth Century,” said Mirza Ahmad Sohrab.

What He Thinks of U.S.

Abdu’l-Bahá’s Opinions

ABDU’L-BAHA ABBAS, leader of Bahá’í movement of religious thought, says:

The most wonderful thing in America is its liberty. This nation is in reality free, and this government is fair.”

International peace to-day is the greatest issue of humanity.”

The American people are hospitable and courteous, but their civilization is one of materialism. They should learn idealism, they should receive radiance.”

The world of humanity is possessed of two wings — one represented by the male, the other by the female. Both must be strong in order that the world of humanity may fly. Until suffrage is established, the body politic will not achieve its progress.”