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- A JOURNEY TO THE ARCTIC
would be well to put in the schoolbooks for the students of all races.
Molded thus in the school of life as well as by technical training, he became able to give expression to his feelings,
thoughts and philosophy in some outstanding statues and relief panels. His works have been exhibited in various art
academies and may be seen in many of our larger cities. Recently there was unveiled in Fairmont Park, Philadelphia,
one of his best known works, a group in honor of “The Colored Soldiery of Pennsylvania in All Wars.” His “James
Davis Allegorical Group” at Mooseheart, Illinois, is much admired. Milwaukee possesses his large equestrian statue of
General Von Steuben, and in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, may be seen his Molly Pitcher statue. His ideal groups, panels of
“The Harmonics of Evolution,” “Lions on the Way,” “Light Bearers,” particularly express the idealism of the sculptor.
Delicacy of line, perfection of form, originality of idea, beauty of arrangement characterize his work. Profound
meaning and aspiration are woven into every line.
THE BAHA’I WORLD
Seldom does one see such high idealism wrought in stone. He is truly an artist of the new age.
So as the little group stood under the dome of the great edifice gazing intently upward, this query was put: “To one who can see a
vision of the far stretching path of evolution in a block of cold marble and patiently chisel it into our view, what does this great temple
in its unfinished condition mean?”
“It is a divine inspiration from foundation to the crowning apex,” replied the artist, with glowing eyes and radiant smile. “At the very
root of this materialization of a vision lie age old symbols of truth and wisdom with new light. It is expressed in an entirely new and
most beautiful conception. There is nothing like it in the world. The nine-pointed star which dictates the ground plan and is reflected
throughout the building up to the highest point of the edifice is the new symbol of a new age.
“Permeating the whole structure is the spirit of the lofty principle of the unifying of the races, religions, classes and nations of
mankind into a new degree of togetherness. The proportions of the construction are perfect. See those nine gracefully curved hnes of
the nine ribs of the dome, which, rising, touch each other as fingers of upward
stretching hands meeting in prayer over the glistening whiteness of the crystal dome. The fairylike openwork
ornamentation, containing the religious symbols of the world, gives an air of ethereal refinement, aspiration and unity
that harmonizes with the central thought of the whole structure.
“Even in this unfinished state,” Mr. Schweizer continued, “the interior offers to the eye of vision untold and marvelous
possibilities of finishing and final expression. It can be truly said that the building has no back or front or sides. All the
nine entrances lead to one center, the Creator, the God of Love and Wisdom. Though as yet devoid of decoration, the
structural masses leading up to the first and second balconies produce a lofty and uplifting sensation. The intense desire
arises in the heart that this beautiful edifice may soon be finished, finished in the same magnificent workmanship and in
harmony with the priceless original designs of its inspired architect and creator, Mr. Bourgeois.”
Mr. Schweizer showed a keen appreciation, as did his radiant wife, of the permanency of the Bahã’i Temple when he
said, “The technical construction is of a quality that will endure for hundreds of years and every precaution is clearly
being taken toward that end. The spot where the Temple stands was
Bahá’i Group of Tunis
APPRECIATIONS BY LEADERS OF THOUGHT
most wisely selected as through the guidance of a Divine hand. I can picture the Temple of the future, standing out like a sparkling
jewel mounted on the golden rim of God’s earth. I repeat, there is nothing like it in the universe. When completed it will undoubtedly
be the Mecca for millions of people from all corners of the earth. It will be considered as one of the great wonders of the world of
Again Mr. Schweizer revealed the depths of the inner understanding of the meaning of the Bahá’i Temple, for just as we were about to
leave he said: “It has been a great and inspiring moment of our lives to visit the Temple under your loving guidance. We have learned
much of the religion of Love of which this is the exquisite symbol and beloved shrine for the people of the world. We of today must
bestow the highest grati tud
and credit upon those who are sacrificing so much to build this Temple. Their earnest conviction, their sincere purpose,
their profound love form a piercing beacon light against the prevailing darkness and confusion of the world. They by
their lives seem to be calling those souls who are ready to come forth to pray in a new spirit of freedom and unity and
love. For when love is universally realized, the hearts of men will be united and the whole race will be uplifted.
“You teachers are certainly carrying the brightly shining torches as true light bearers to the children of God, pointing
the way toward the ultimate goal—the Kingdom of God. I shall never forget this great privilege. I am deeply grateful to
God that the Temple of Light is being constructed to promote the unity and progress of the world today.”
Amity Banquet held under the auspices of the Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ Is of Pasadena, California, December
3rd, 193 8.
BOUT midway between the northernmost point of the continent of Europe (the North Cape pertaining to
Norway) and the North Pole there lies a group of islands, five in number, with various smaller ones near by, which has
excited the discoverer, the sportsman, the scientist, the trapper, the whaler, the miner, the explorer and finally of recent
years the ubiquitous tourist, though few have braved the rigors of the north sufficiently to remain there. This group of
islands known to us as Spitsbergen or by the Norwegian name of Svalborg, has been the goal of much scientific
research and has proven itself rich in those wonderful provisions of nature which the wisdom of the Almighty placed
there before man set foot upon that land. Fur animals abound, edible moss and birds supply food, and coal mines have
been worked for many years which yield an ample supply of fuel for the islands with vast shipments also to the
mainland of Norway.
The largest of the group of islands known as West Spitsbergen, although only about
miles from the Pole, is so
situated as to be modified in temperature by the warm ocean currents which provide an ice-free passage for boats
during the summer months of June, July and August, although the eastern and northern shores are always ice- locked
and have been explored only in the face of the most extreme hardships.
It was this group of islands to which our cruise ship was bound, it was to this faraway haven that the precious books
which lay in our cabin were to find their way! But these were gray days at sea, days and days when there was no ray of
sunshine— no cessation of the heavy blanket of fog which enveloped the ship! No signs of life, no birds, no swimming
things, no relief to the tragic monotony of foglike gray wool which choked the lungs and chilled one to the bone. The
water temperature showed the presence of ice which could not
be seen and yet cautiously the boat felt her way, a spectre in the gray mist. New York lay ten days behind us, Iceland
had been left behind four days before. It was lonely
—no friendly sail drifted into sight, no seagull’s sharp note broke the awful stillness, the sky and sea were one, merged
together as in infinite space. And then—on the port side, little by little, the heavy curtain of fog lifted and disclosed a
sea of floating ice. Strange weird shapes rose from the water, disintegrating icebergs doomed to lose their identity in
the warmer atmosphere of the Gulf Stream already dissipated and yielding to the frozen north.
For hours the boat cruised along amid the broken ice, the distance between the floating cakes becoming narrower and
narrower until it became evident that we had reached the great ice barrier, that greedy monster that holds within his
breast the secrets of the Poles, and as if alarmed lest we penetrate his domain, had come a hundred miles farther south
than ever known to block the passage. Disappointment shrouded the faces of the travelers as word came from the
Captain that our course would have to be retraced if indeed we were to find a break in the barrier which would permit
our progress to Magdalena Bay, and thus to the land of Spitsbergen. After a night of tense nerves and ears strained for
the crunching of the ice floe the morning broke clear and bright, and in a few hours the glory of Magdalena Bay broke
upon the sight like a vision so wonderful and so breath-taking that it seemed as if one had been translated from earth to
heaven—a heaven of brilliant, glistening ethereal beauty. Around this bay the sharp, jagged mountains rose in their ice
mantles from a sea as blue as that of Italy and overhead there blazed a sun so bright that it might have been the tropics.
At last the steamer came to anchor and put off a launch laden with sailors who went to set up an emergency landing
THE BAHA’T WORLD
the shore of Magdalena Bay. No life breathed there, only a few gulls and an occasional auk shrieked their resentment at this invasion
of their domain. Near the water were the crumbling ruins of a stone structure which had served many years ago as a research station.
Wandering over the loose rocks and approaching the foot of the gigantic glaciers which moved in their majestic and imperceptible
rhythm, casting off their iceberg progeny to fare for themselves and form a bulwark against the invasion of mankind, suddenly we saw
among the rocks a pile of human bones. Tradition says these once were sailors and that they slew each other. What the tragedy may
have been, whether starvation or cold, whether they marked the fateful end of some long cherished grudge fought to the finish here is
not known, but the bones seemed to bear witness to this age when every man’s hand is raised against his brother!
. . .
How tragic the
thought and how the heart swelled with gratitude for the blessing of the Message in this day which is to dispel the darkness of human
greed and competition and warm and melt the ice of human prejudice and hate! For was
not our intention to deliver this Message
somewhere here in this frozen north? Was not the hand of the “Holy Mariner” unveiling His glorious sunshine and spreading His
heavenly calm upon the sea that this very thing might be accomplished?
Leaving Magdalena Bay the boat cruised along, revealing at every turn a new glory of ice and sea until finally the little habitat of
Spitsbergen came into view, the harbor of King’s Bay, bidding us land and share the news of the great world with its isolated
inhabitants. This then was our goal!
the land upon which was to be deposited for the first time in history, the Message of the
Coming of “Him Whom God had made manifest,” the Glory of the Lord; through the humble efforts of these wayfarers in the path of
service, souls were to be awakened, a new life was to pulsate and these regions were to be summoned to the glory of the New Day! It
all seemed too wonderful to be true and the beauty of
all struck awe to the very soul. Here we would
we would surely
find, even in the brief hour
allotted to us, the one prepared of God to receive His Message and to herald the glad tidings of a New World Order.
Our landing was effected by climbing on an old, unused trestle which had served for the hauling and dumping of coal
some years before. A long, uneven roadbed led to what would have been the center of town, had there been a town, but
which now proved to be a settlement of about thirty houses, the most conspicuous of which was the “Boutik” or store.
Although groups of men had stood at the landing, no face gave evidence of being the one upon which the Light was
first to shine. Stolid faces they were, weathered by wind and sea, furrowed by lines of hardship, grim with the struggle
of life, still unready and unaware—we must look further for the object of our search to whom was to be given a copy of
Bahd’u’lla’h and the New Era,
in its Norwegian translation.
As we entered the store where there seemed to be nothing negotiable save a few postal cards and a pile of raw pelts,
one young man at once attracted our attention. He was a bright-eyed Norwegian who was serving as postmaster, though
his duties must have been ordinarily very light, and to him we felt drawn at once. His knowledge of English was
sufficient for him to understand that he was being presented with some very wonderful books which he was to share
with his associates. On discovering that the books were in Norwegian his face beamed with gratitude and he seized the
package in eager anticipation!
After a brief interview in which we sought to convey the mighty significance of the contents of the books, our mission
accomplished, we gave way to the curious, jostling crowd of our fellow passengers and leaving the store we started on
a tour of investigation of the island.
It is possible to conceive of this place in its winter atmosphere, in the darkness of its six months’ night, in its blinding,
stormswept isolation, the angry Arctic ocean pounding on its shores, its manifold privations, but to us on that
memorable day it showed only its softer side, its golden carpet of moss, its glistening, icy mountains, its
low-growing, orchid-colored flowers, its myriads of birds sweeping down upon their nests, or rising in their winged freedom leaving
their eggs a plentiful harvest to supply the needs of the islanders. To us it
A JOURNEY TO THE ARCTIC
lay like a jewel in the hand of God, His to have and to hold, to warm and to quicken, to love and to preserve in His
great wisdom for the completion of His design for mankind!
AM happy to speak to you this evening about one of the greatest young women in the world, one of the most
spiritual, one of the greatest poets of Iran, and the first woman of her time in Central Asia to lay aside the veil and work
for the equal education of the girl and the boy. She was the first suffrage martyr in Central Asia. The woman suffrage
movement did not begin with Mrs. Pankhurst in the West, but with Tahirih, also often called Qurratu’l-’Ayn of Iran.
She was born in Qazvin, Persia, in
Picture to your mind one of the most beautiful young women of Iran, a genius, a poet, the most learned scholar of the
Qur’án and the traditions, for she was born in a Mu5ammadan country; think of her as the daughter of a jurist family of
letters, daughter of the greatest high priest of her province and very rich, enjoying high rank, living in an artistic palace,
and distinguished among her young friends for hir boundless, immeasurable courage. Picture what it must mean for a
young woman like this, still in her twenties, to arise for the equality of men and women, in a country where, at that
time, the girl was not allowed to learn to read and write!
The Journal Asiatic of 1866 presents a most graphic view of Tahirih, the English translation of which is this: “How a
woman, a creature so weak in Iran, and above all in a city like Qazvin where the clergy possess such a powerful
influence, where the ‘Ulamas, the priests, because of their number and importance and power hold the attention of the
government officials and of the people, how can it be that in such a country and district and under such unfavourable
conditions a woman could have organized such a powerful party of heretics? It is unparalleled in past history.”
As I said, in her day girls were not permitted to learn to read and write, but
Tahirih had such a brilliant mind, and as a child she was so eager for knowledge that her father, one of the most learned
mullas of Iran, taught her himself and later had a teacher for her. This was most unusual, for in her day girls had no
educational opportunities. She outdistanced her brothers in her progress and passed high in all examinations. Because
she was a woman they would not give her a degree. Her father often said what a pity she had not been born a son, for
then she could have followed in his career as a great mulla of the Empire.
Tahirih was married when she was thirteen years old to her cousin, the son of the Imám-Juma, a great mulla who leads
the prayers at the mosque on Fridays. She had three children, two sons and one daughter. She became a very great poet
and was deeply spiritual, she was always studying religion, always seeking for truth. She became profoundly interested
in the teachings of Shaykh Absa’i and Siyyid Kazim Rashti, who were liberalists and said great spiritual reforms would
come. Her father was very angry with her because she read their books and her father-in-law was too. But she
continued to study their books and she heard about the Bab and Baha’u’llah, and their teachings for universal peace and
the equal education of the girl and the boy. She believed in these principles whole-heartedly and declared herself a
This great young woman of Qazvin laid aside the veil which Muhammadan women wear; she didn’t put it aside
altogether, but she many times let it slip from her face when she lectured. But she declared that women should not wear
the veil, should not be isolated, but should have equal rights and opportunities. She quoted her great teacher,
TAHIRIH’s MESSAGE TO THE MODERN WORLD
Bahá’u’llah, that man and woman are as the two wings of the bird of humanity, and this bird of humanity cannot attain its highest,
most perfect flight until the two wings are equally poised, equally balanced. She was too far ahead of her time, and like other pioneers
of great progressive movements, she was imprisoned. Instead of putting her into jail, they made her a prisoner in the home of the
Kalantar, that means the Mayor of
Tihrán. Here several poets and some of the greatest women of the capital came to call, and every one was charmed by her presence.
The Sháh-in-Sháh of Persia sent for her to be brought to his palace, and when he saw her he said: “I like her looks, leave her and let
The Mayor gave a notable party for the betrothal of his son; they had music and dancing, but the guests left it all to come to meet
Táhirih and listen to her words of wisdom, for she too was a guest at this party. Though she had at first been imprisoned in a house in
the garden, the ladies of the Mayor’s household loved her so much they insisted that she must come and live in the house with them.
Náiri’d-Din_Shah, the ruler, sent her a letter asking her to give up her very advanced ideas and telling her if she did, he would make
her his bride, the greatest lady in the land. On the back of his letter she wrote her reply in verse declining his magnificently royal offer.
Her words were:
“Kingdom, wealth and ruling be for thee, Wandering, becoming a poor dervish and
calamity be for me.
If that station is good, let it be for thee. And if this station is bad, I long for it,
let it be for me!”
She was a prisoner in the Mayor’s home for more than three years and during all this time the women of fran came to love her more
and more, and all people were enchanted with her poetry, and many came to believe as she did, that this is the dawn of a great new
universal epoch when we must work for the oneness of mankind, for the independent investigation of truth, for the unity of religions
and for the education of the girl equally with that of the boy.
The orthodox clergy were afraid of these new progressive ideals and as they were the power behind the government, it was decided to
put Táhirih to death. They had to do it secretly because they knew how many hundreds of the most important people in Tihrán loved
They decided upon September
1852, for her death. With her prophetic soul she must have divined it for she wrote in one of her
poems: “At the gates of my heart I behold the feet and the tents of hosts of calamity.” That morning she took an elaborate bath, used
rosewater, dressed herself in her best white dress. She said good-bye to everyone in the house, telling them that in the evening she was
leaving to go on a long journey. After that she said she would like to be alone, and she spent the day, as they said, talking softly to
herself, but we know she was praying. They came for her at night and she said to them, “I am ready!” The Mayor had them throw his
own cloak about her so that no one would recognize her, and they put her upon his own horse. In a roundabout way through smaller
streets they took her to a garden and had her wait in a servant’s room on the ground floor. The official called a servant and ordered
him to go and kill the woman downstairs. He went but when Táhirih spoke to him he was so touched by her sweetness and holiness,
that he refused to strangle her, and carried the handkerchief again upstairs. The official dismissed him, called a very evil servant, gave
him liquor to drink, then handed him a bag of gold as a present, put the handkerchief into his hands and said, “Go down and kill that
woman below and do not let her speak to you.” The servant rushed in, brutally strangled her with the handkerchief, kicked her and
while she was still living threw her into a dry well and filled it up with stones.
But they could never bury her there! Her influence has gone around the whole world.
Táhirih, Qurratu’l-’Ayn, has become immortal in the minds of millions of men and women, and her spirit of love and heroism will be
transmitted to millions yet unborn.
I should like to explain to you what her names mean. One of her teachers, Kázim Rashti gave her the name of Qurratu’l‘Ayn, which
means “Consolation of the
THE BAHA’I WORLD
Eyes,” because she was so young, so beautiful, so spiritual. Bahá’u’lláh gave her the name Táhirih, which means “The Pure One.”
While still in the twenties she began to preach the equal rights of men and women, she was martyred at the age of thirty-six years, and
yet today, eighty-seven years after her cruel martyrdom, the women of Iran and of many other countries of the Islamic world no longer
are allowed to wear the veil, and girls are receiving education. She did not die in vain. Tahirih’s courageous deathless personality
forever will stand out against the background of eternity, for she gave her life for her sister women. The sweet perfume of her heroic
selflessness is diffused in the whole five continents. People of all religions and of none, all races, all classes, all humanity, cherish the
memory of Tahirih and weep tears of love and longing when her great poems are chanted.
When I was in Vienna, Austria, a few years ago, I had an interview with the mother of the President of Austria, Mrs. Marinna
Hainisch, the woman who has done most for woman’s education in Austria, that nation of great culture. Mrs. Hainisch established the
first high schools for girls in her land. She told me that the inspiration of all her lifework had been Tahirih of Iran. Mrs. Hainisch said:
“I was a young girl, only seventeen years old when I heard of the martyrdom of Tahirih, and I said, ‘I shall try to do for the girls of
Austria what Tahirih tried to do and gave her life to do, for the girls of Iran.’
She told me:
“I was married, and my husband too, was only seventeen; everybody was against education for girls, but my young husband said: ‘If
you wish to work for the education of girls, you can.’
I mentioned this interview over in Aligrah, India, a short time ago when I spoke
to the university students at the home of Professor Habib, and at the close of my talk another guest of honor arose, a woman professor
of Calcutta University, and asked if she could speak a few words. She said, “I am Viennese, I was born in Vienna and I wish to say
that Mrs. Marinna Hainisch established the first college for the higher education of girls in Austria and I was graduated from the
college.” This is a proof of the influence of
Tahirih. Mrs. Hainisch had said to me, “It is so easy for you, Miss Root, to go all around the world and be given the
opportunity to speak on the equal education of the girl and the boy. It was so hard for me to interest people in this new
idea in my day, but I remembered Tahirih and I tried. Poor Tahirih had to die for these very ideals which today the
When I was in Cawnpore, India, and spoke in a girls’ college on Tahirih’s life the founder and the donor of that great
college arose and said: “It is my hope that every girl in this school will become a Tahirih of India.”
Sir Rai Bahadur Sapru of Allahabad, one of India’s greatest lawyers, said to me: “I love Tahirih’s poems so much that I
have named my favorite little granddaughter
Tahirih. I have tried for years to get her poems, and now today you give them to me.” When I was in the Pemberton
Cluh in London one evening, a well known publisher said to me: “I shall get Tahirih’s poems collected and publish
them at a great price.” But he could never get them. I should like to tell you, dear listeners on the air, that the day after
the martyrdom of
Tahirih, the authorities burned her clothing, her books, her poems, her birth certificate; they tried to wipe out every
trace of her life; but other people had some of her poems, and a friend of mine worked for years to gather them
together, copied them in longhand and gave them to me as a present when I was in Iran in 1930. Another friend in
India, Mr. 1sf andiar K. B. Bakhtiari of Karachi, has twice published one thousand copies of these poems for people in
India. In my book Tdhirih the Pure, Iran’s Greatest Woman, published July, 1938, I included her poems and published
three thousand copies. Two of these poems are translated into English, but the original poems are all in the Persian
language. They would be very beautiful sung in the Persian language over your radio.
Professor Edward G. Browne of Cambridge University, in his book A Traveller’s Narrative, wrote: “The appearance of
such a woman as Tahirih, Qurratu’l-’Ayn, is in any country and in any age a rare phenomenon, but in such a country as
it is a prodigy, nay, almost a miracle. Alike in virtue of her marvelous beauty, her rare intellectual gifts, her fervid eloquence, her
fearless devotion and her glorious martyrdom, she stands forth incomparable amidst her countrywomen. Had the Bábi religion no
other claim to greatness, this were sufficient, that it produced a heroine like Qurratu’l_’Ayn.”
And now dear listeners, that we have heard of Táhirih, Qurratu’l-’Ayn, this first woman suffrage martyr, this first woman in Central
Asia to work for the education of girls, what will our own endeavors show forth in this twentieth century?
Today you have equal education for girls and boys in Australia, and you have suffrage for women; but you in Australia and we in the
United States and in all other parts of
the globe are born into this world to work for universal peace, disarmament, a world court and a strong international
police force to ensure arbitration. We are born into this world to work for universal education, a universal auxiliary
language, for unity in religion and for the oneness of mankind. Our lives, our world, need strong spiritual foundations,
and one of the finest traits of
Táhirih, and one that helped the world most, was her fidelity in searching for truth! She began as a little girl and
continued until the very day of her passing from this world.
0 Táhirih, you have not passed out, you have only passed on! Your spiritual, courageous life will forever inspire,
ennoble and refine humanity; your songs of the spirit will be treasured in innumerable hearts. You are to this day our
living, thrilling teacher!
A BRIEF COMMENTARY’
B MARIAN LITTLE
In reading the story of the life of this great woman of Iran, one cannot but feel that Martha Root, the author, has caught the flaming
torch from the hand of Táhirih and lighted once more the path in order that those that are to follow may find the Way.
Her biography is so closely associated with the phenomenal quickening of religion known as the Bahá’i Faith that it would be difficult
to know her except for her relation to this great event.
Although born in Iran in the middle of the nineteenth century, she belongs to the whole world, her radiant personality shone forth like
the ray of light which comes after that darkest moment before dawn. She was a prototype for the women of the twentieth century and
gave her life that they might be emancipated from their state of subjection.
She is quoted as saying: “Oh, when will the day come when new laws will be revealed on earth? I shall be the first to follow these new
Teachings and to give my life for my sisters.”
Táhirih the Pure was the name that Bahá’u’lláh gave her at the memorable Council at
Badasht, where eighty-one followers of the Báb assembled by invitation of Bahá’u’llah to consult upon the important question as to
when the Báb was to proclaim the final stage of His Manifestation which was that of Qá’im. He had first declared Himself to be the
Báb (Gate) but the station of Qá’im, the promised Imám, had not been proclaimed. It was at Badasht that Táhirih cast aside her veil,
and in the presence of the gathering declared that the “New Revelation Was at hand.”
Her teacher was Kázim-i-Rashti, a Siyyid and disciple of the great and learned Shaykh Alsmad-i-Ahsa’i, who foretold the coming of
the Báb in the near future, and was the forerunner of the great Bábi movement which was later to become the great Bahá’i Faith.
Qurratu’l-’Ayn, the “Consolation of the
*Martha Root, after spending some time in fran and meeting the remaining members of the family of Tihirih wrote the little book
“Táhirih the Pore” which she had published in India where
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