239 Days in America, Day 94: July 13, 1912 | New York
“Every Child Is Potentially the Light of the World” 1
“Every child is potentially the light of the world,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá would argue, “and at the same time its darkness.”
“Training in morals and good conduct is far more important than book learning,” he said. “The child who conducts himself well, even though he be ignorant, is of benefit to others, while an ill-natured, ill-behaved child is corrupted and harmful to others, even though he be learned.” Of course, he commented, instilling both moral education and book learning in children would be preferable.
“Give them the advantage of every useful kind of knowledge,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá wrote on the subject of child rearing. “Let them share in every new and rare and wondrous craft and art.” Yet he wasn’t suggesting a life of indulgence. “Bring them up to work and strive,” he added, “accustom them to hardship. Teach them to dedicate their lives to matters of great import, and inspire them to undertake studies that will benefit mankind.”
We are like soldiers; we must not form any habits or have a care for anything. 2
As the heat was excessive and because He had been revealing Tablets and visiting with the friends, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was tired. We said that there was a bath in the house and that the Master could have His bath every day. He said: ‘We are like soldiers; we must not form any habits or have a care for anything.’
At another time He was asked how He liked the large buildings of America. He replied:
I have not come to see very tall buildings or places of interest in America. I look always for the foundation of the love of God in the realm of the hearts. I have no inclination to see other sights.
At a meeting with the friends in the afternoon He explained the uniqueness of the divine teachings of this great Cause. Among them are the establishment of the Covenant and the Expounder of the Book ’[Abdu’l-Bahá], thereby closing the door on the differences that have arisen at the inception of past Dispensations; association with all religions; the prohibition of cursing or execrating other sects; the commandment to forgive enemies; the oneness of humanity and universal brotherhood; the giving and taking in marriage from all nationalities; the injunctions to parents to educate their children, whether boys or girls; the equality of the rights of men and women; the establishment of the supreme House of Justice as the center of authority; and finally the relinquishing of religious, patriotic, racial and political prejudices. His talk was long and very detailed.
In the evening ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was invited to Brooklyn and we accompanied Him. On the way He spoke about New York’s large population and the occupations of the people:
This city with its suburbs has about half the population of Persia. If Persia had a population and an affluence like this, and had she turned herself to progress, she would have far excelled this country in all respects. There can be no comparison whatsoever between these people and the manners, love, hospitality, intuition and sagacity of the Persians.
He then described the days of the Blessed Beauty’s sojourn in Constantinople, the self-subsistence and grandeur of the Ancient Beauty and the testimony of Mírzá Husayn Khán, who had said in Tihrán that there was only one person, Bahá’u’lláh, who had been the cause of glory and exaltation of the Persians in foreign lands and who did not court anyone’s favor in that city.
- Jones, Caitlin Shayda. “‘Every Child Is Potentially the Light of the World.’” 239 Days in America, 13 July 2012, https://239days.com/2012/07/13/every-child-is-potentially-the-light-of-the-world/. [return]
- ’Abdu’l-Bahá, and Mirza Mahmud-i-Zarqani. Mahmúd’s Diary: The Diary of Mírzá Mahmúd-i-Zarqání Chronicling ’Abdu’l-Bahá’s Journey to America. Edited by Shirley Macias. Translated by Mohi Sobhani. Oxford: George Ronald, 1998. https://bahai-library.com/zarqani_mahmuds_diary&chapter=5#section110 [return]