“Get the Races to Intermarry” 1

IMAGINE, IF YOU WILL, a boathouse of large dimensions, tucked into the trees on the shore of Dublin Lake. Water is lapping at the pylons which support it, rooted into the lake bed. It is built of natural wood and has a dock for the boat to moor. Perhaps there are some chairs or benches and the comforting smell of wood and rope.

It is Saturday, August 4, 1912, and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá is meeting with the servants of the summer residents of Dublin. They are mostly black. Their names will vanish from history because they were never recorded. They are known only by the names of their employers, such as Parsons’ cook and Cabots’ maid.

Now imagine ‘Abdu’l-Bahá making an announcement, and the boathouse going quiet in astonishment.

Louise Mathew had been astonished when he had told her, too. She had first heard about it on the steamer to America, but hadn’t quite grasped what he meant. In fact, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had been planning for this moment for more than two years.

Louise Mathew was born in England to wealthy parents. She did not marry, but instead she enrolled into one of the women’s colleges in Cambridge University, where she studied economics, languages, and voice. She was into middle age before she went on pilgrimage to Alexandria to meet ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. It was here that Louise met Louis Gregory. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had delayed Gregory’s pilgrimage to make sure the two of them arrived at the same time.

New Hampshire 2

While still in the Holy Land, Abdu’l-Bahá, in the presence of Miss Louisa Mathew of England and Mr. Louis G. Gregory, had noted that interracial marriage was a good way to overcome racial differences. On August 3, at a large meeting held near the Dublin River, He spoke of their forthcoming marriage. Mahmúd recorded:

When He mentioned the matrimony of Miss Mathew, a white woman, with Mr. Gregory, a colored man, which was going to take place … in the course of a few days, the white persons were astonished to see the influence of the Cause and the colored ones were pleased. Incidents like this were little less than miracles; in fact the splitting of the moon into two pieces seemed an easier accomplishment in the eyes of the Americans.

The explanations must be adapted to the capacity of the hearers and suited to the exigency of the time 3

While a few of us were discussing the Master’s explanations and the simplicity and decisiveness of His talks, He said to us:

The explanations must be adapted to the capacity of the hearers and suited to the exigency of the time. Beauty of style, moderation in delivery and suitability of words and meanings are necessary. It is not only a matter of uttering words. In ‘Akká, Mírzá Muhammad-‘Alí would hear me speak and would repeat my words exactly on other occasions but he did not understand that a thousand wisdoms and ingredients other than speech are necessary. In the days of Baghdád and Sulaymáníyyih, Shaykh ‘Abdu’l-Husayn was told that the Blessed Beauty was attracting the Kurds to Himself by quoting Súfí and gnostic terms. This poor Shaykh obtained a copy of the Futúhát-i-Makkíyyih [Conquests of Mecca] and committed its passages to memory. But wherever he quoted them, he saw that none lent an ear to him. He was greatly puzzled as to why people did not listen to him. The Blessed Beauty said, ‘Tell the Shaykh that We are not in the habit of reading the Conquests of Mecca (Futúhát-i-Makkíyyih) but We impart to them the verses of True Civilization. We are not propounding the writings of the Shaykh [Ibn al-‘Arabí], we are propounding the Holy Writ.

In the afternoon He spoke about how the secondary laws of religions change in every age according to the exigencies of the time and the harmfulness of the materialistic world and the benefit of religion. The meeting ended with a series of sincere questions and answers.

  1. Menon, Morella. “‘Get the Races to Intermarry.’” 239 Days in America, 3 Aug. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/08/03/get-the-races-to-intermarry/. [return]
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 120-121. [return]
  3. ’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=6#section132  [return]