For ‘Abdu’l-Bahá truthfulness was as natural as breathing. He spoke not to gain popularity, nor to tell people what they wanted to hear. His words served to educate and help the hearer, if he chose to listen.
(Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 115)
It was some years before this, when ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was in Paris, that a group of men from Teheran came to Him deeply troubled, They had walked all the way from their homes in Persia - since traveling on foot was the only proper way to meet their Master - to make what they considered a most vital request. In a village, there was a Bahá’í who was causing a great deal of trouble because of the lies he told. He lied about everything with
the result that misunderstandings, distrust and confusion reigned. This dreadful situation, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá would, they begged, have to do something about. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá agreed; indeed it was a most dreadful situation and certainly He would do something about it. He would write the man a letter. And the salutation at, the heading of
this letter was, “0 thou great lover of Truth” (Sadly there is no record I have seen of the balance of this Epistle - which must have been priceless.) (Reginald Grant Barrow, Mother’s Stories: Stories of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and Early Believers told by Muriel Ives Barrow Newhall to her son, p. 40)
One reporter asked “What do you think of America?” ‘I like it,’ replied the Master, Americans are optimistic. If you ask them how they are, they say, “All right!” If you ask them how things are going, they say “All right!” This cheerful attitude is good.
(Earl Redman, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Their Midst, p. 56)
Abdu’l Bahá’s words about truth and accuracy weren’t always heeded. The New York City Evening Mail reported that Abdu’l Bahá was met by ‘fully 1000 of his followers,’ while the New York City Evening World said that ‘He was met by a party of about 40 prosperous looking persons.’ The New York Sun stated that ‘He was welcomed by more than 300 of his American disciples.’ The Sun also quoted Arthur Dodge as saying that ‘There were probably 20 million Bahá’ís in the world.’ The New York Herald reported that Abdu’l Bahá had his cloak lined with sable fur.’ Some of the newspapers made a few rather strange remarks. Abdu’l Bahá is 68 but looks 90 . . . ‘His voice is strong‘, reported the New York City World, while the Evening World stated that ‘Members of the sect were originally as Babists, after the Báb but they are now called Bahá’ís, after the Bahá’s, father and son … Of course nobody could be named Bahá without having a beard.
(Earl Redman, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Their Midst, p. 58)
There was once a disciple of Muhammad who asked of another disciple, ‘What shall I do to please God?’ And the other disciple replied: ‘Do not kill. Do not steal. Do not covet,’ etc., etc., etc. A great many ‘do nots‘.” the Master laughed. “He asked still another, ‘What shall I do to become nearer to God?’ And this one said: ‘You must supplicate and pray. You must be generous. You must be courageous,’ etc., etc., etc. Then the disciple went to ‘Ali. ‘What do you say I should do in order to please God and to become nearer to Him?’ ‘One thing only: be truthful.’ “For,” continued the Master, “if you are truthful, you cannot commit murder. You would have to confess it! Neither can you steal. You would have to confess it. So, if one is truthful, he possesses
all the virtues.
(Misc Bahá’í, The Diary of Juliet Thompson)