Celebrating Women's Contributions
"In proclaiming the oneness of mankind He taught that men and women are equal in the sight of God and that there is no distinction to be made between them. The only difference between them now is due to lack of education and training."
11:00 Welcome and Opening Prayer
The Promulgation of Universal Peace
Talks Delivered by ‘Abdu’lBahá
9 June 1912 Talk at Unitarian Church
Fifteenth Street and Girard Avenue, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
In proclaiming the oneness of mankind He taught that men and women are equal in the sight of God and that there is no distinction to be made between them. The only difference between them now is due to lack of education and training. If woman is given equal opportunity of education, distinction and estimate of inferiority will disappear. The world of humanity has two wings, as it were: One is the female; the other is the male. If one wing be defective, the strong perfect wing will not be capable of flight. The world of humanity has two hands. If one be imperfect, the capable hand is restricted and unable to perform its duties. God is the Creator of mankind. He has endowed both sexes with perfections and intelligence, given them physical members and organs of sense, without differentiation or distinction as to superiority; therefore, why should woman be considered inferior? This is not according to the plan and justice of God. He has created them equal; in His estimate there is no question of sex. The one whose heart is purest, whose deeds are most perfect, is acceptable to God, male or female. Often in history women have been the pride of humanity—for example, Mary, the mother of Jesus. She was the glory of mankind. Mary Magdalene, Ásíyih, daughter of Pharaoh, Sarah, wife of Abraham, and innumerable others have glorified the human race by their excellences. In this day there are women among the Bahá’ís who far outshine men. They are wise, talented, well-informed, progressive, most intelligent and the light of men. They surpass men in courage. When they speak in meetings, the men listen with great respect. Furthermore, the education of women is of greater importance than the education of men, for they are the mothers of the race, and mothers rear the children. The first teachers of children are the mothers. Therefore, they must be capably trained in order to educate both sons and daughters. There are many provisions in the words of Bahá’u’lláh in regard to this. He promulgated the adoption of the same course of education for man and woman. Daughters and sons must follow the same curriculum of study, thereby promoting unity of the sexes. When all mankind shall receive the same opportunity of education and the equality of men and women be realized, the foundations of war will be utterly destroyed. Without equality this will be impossible because all differences and distinction are conducive to discord and strife. Equality between men and women is conducive to the abolition of warfare for the reason that women will never be willing to sanction it. Mothers will not give their sons as sacrifices upon the battlefield after twenty years of anxiety and loving devotion in rearing them from infancy, no matter what cause they are called upon to defend. There is no doubt that when women obtain equality of rights, war will entirely cease among mankind.
Táhirih is considered one of the foremost women of the Bábí religion and an important figure in its development. As a charismatic individual, she was able to transcend the restrictions normally placed on women in traditional society where she lived, and thus attracted attention to the Cause. She wrote copiously on Bábí matters, and of that volume about a dozen significant works and a dozen personal letters have survived. They are outlined (including the contents of some further treatises that have been lost) by Denis MacEoin in 'The Sources for Early Babi Doctrines and History' 107–116. Around 50 poems are attributed to her, and are regarded highly in Persian culture.
In addition to being well known among Baháʼís, who consider her one of the leading women figures of their religion, Táhirih's influence has extended beyond the Baháʼí community as her life has come to inspire later generations of feminists. Azar Nafisi, a notable Iranian academic and author, has referred to her influence, saying that "the first woman to unveil and to question both political and religious orthodoxy was a woman named Táhirih who lived in [the] early 1800s... And we carry this tradition." Shahrnush Parsipur mentions her in a kind of genealogy of women writers she is inspired by. Azer Jafarov, professor at Baku State University, Azerbaijan, stated that "she influenced modern literature, raised the call for the emancipation of women, and had a deep impact on public consciousness.
A very early western account of Táhirih would have been on January 2, 1913 when ʻAbdu'l-Bahá, then head of the Baháʼí Faith, spoke on women's suffrage to the Women's Freedom League – part of his address and print coverage of his talk noted mentions of Táhirih to the organization.
"Where There is Love (Lapho kukhona uthando)" by the Durban Baha'i Choir
The Promulgation of Universal Peace
Talks Delivered by ‘Abdu’lBahá
9 November 1912 Talk at Bahá’í Banquet Rauscher’s Hall, Washington, D. C.
Therefore, let us ever trust in God and seek confirmation and assistance from Him. Let us have perfect and absolute confidence in the bounty of the Kingdom. Review the events surrounding souls of bygone times in the beginning of their day; and again consider them when, through the aid and assistance of God, they proved to be the mighty ones of God. Remember that Peter was a fisherman, but through the bounty of the Kingdom he became the great apostle. Mary Magdalene was a villager of lowly type, yet that selfsame Mary was transformed and became the means through which the confirmation of God descended upon the disciples. Verily, she served the Kingdom of God with such efficiency that she became well-known and oft mentioned by the tongues of men. Even today she is shining from the horizon of eternal majesty. Consider how infinite is the bounty of God that a woman such as Mary Magdalene should be selected by God to become the channel of confirmation to the disciples and a light of nearness in His Kingdom. Consequently, trust ye in the bounty and grace of God, and rest assured in the bestowals of His eternal outpouring. I hope that each one of you may become a shining light even as these electric lights are now brilliant in their intensity. Nay, may each one of you be a luminary like unto a sparkling star in the heaven of the divine Will. This is my supplication at the throne of God. This is my hope through the favors of Bahá’u’lláh. I offer this prayer in behalf of all of you and beg with a contrite heart that you may be assisted and glorified with an eternal bestowal.
Thought of Love" by Nica, Sahar and Delara
Addresses Given by ‘Abdu’lBahá in 1911
When the women attain to the ultimate degree of progress, then, according to the exigency of the time and place and their great capacity, they shall obtain extraordinary privileges. Be ye confident on these accounts. His Holiness Bahá’u’lláh has greatly strengthened the cause of women, and the rights and privileges of women is one of the greatest principles of ‘Abdu’lBahá. Rest ye assured! Erelong the days shall come when the men addressing the women, shall say: “Blessed are ye! Blessed are ye! Verily ye are worthy of every gift. Verily ye deserve to adorn your heads with the crown of everlasting glory, because in sciences and arts, in virtues and perfections ye shall become equal to man, and as regards tenderness of heart and the abundance of mercy and sympathy ye are superior.