Inequality of men and women in the system of inheritance

All research or scholarship questions
Fadl
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Re: Inequality of men and women in the system of inheritance

Postby Fadl » Wed Mar 05, 2008 4:58 pm

golha wrote:When Bahá’u’lláh elaborates the Bahá’í law of inheritance in the page 183 of Kitab-al-Aqdas, He says:

1. If the deceased is a father and his estate includes a personal residence, such residence passes to the eldest son (Q and A 34).


If the deceased father has one or more daughters, she(they) will have nothing!
Where is the equality of men and women?


The inheritance laws of the Aqdas, are in the case of intestacy. In the Aqdas it is revealed: "Unto everyone hath been enjoined the writing of a
will (59)." In which, a believer is free to dispose of his property and estate however he or she chooses.

Some may think that the inheritance laws that apply to intestacy are severe, and therefore serve as a motivation to write a will. Others may think that they serve to establish a balance in society where, in some cases women are afforded certain advantages (in being educated, for example) whereas men are afforded certain advantages in others, thus establishing certain necessary societal norms or functions.

But however you may choose to speculate about the reasoning, if you are seeking to discredit the Faith's sexual equality credentials, you'll have to do much better than that. The Baha'is are at the forefront of women's rights initiatives and activities all over the globe. If you look at what the Baha'is do in this regard (not just what we say) you will find yourself in a most awkward position, if it is your belief that Baha'is aren't truly for the equality of women.

You may be interested to know, if you didn't already, that Baha'i women were voting and serving on assemblies long before women's suffrage had come even to the most liberal countries of the west.

I'm sure you are also aware of Tahirih, poetess and holy martyr, who was a disciple of the Bab, a Letter of the Living and one of the 24 guardians you were inquiring about in another post.

At any rate, the practice of selecting a verse from a religious text out of context and without regard to the faith as a whole, then using it to incriminate or invalidate the faith being examined, is not a very honest or valid approach. By employing the same method, the Torah, the Evangel, the Qur'an, all become suspect and worthy of condemnation, but then again, few believers of their own faith will do such a thing to their own book. A good thing too, or what a faithless world it would be! As for the Baha'is, we are at a slight disadvantage in such tactics, because for us, they are all the books of God. It is highly unlikely that any of us will engage in the same type of criticism against your faith as you have sought to employ against ours.

I do wonder about your motivation and the motivation of those like you, who periodically come here with no apparent goal other than to cause disorder or attempt to discredit us. Being a religious man myself, and being curious and interested in all religions, I often peruse the websites and message boards of other religions. Never have I gone there to try and disprove it, or try to force my views on anyone else. But again, I'm at a disadvantage since as a Baha'i, I believe that at some fundamental level, they are all my co religionists.

If you share a different view than us, its ok. We are each entitled to our own search, and to our own beliefs. At the end of the day and the end of life we are each individually and ultimately accountable to our God. Luckily for humanity, God is the most compassionate, the most merciful, and the most forgiving.

I would invite you put aside your attacks, and give us a chance. What harm would be done if you actually investigated our faith free from your preconceived notions before making your conclusion? You might not become a Baha'i after doing so, but I think you might find that ours is a beautiful faith and that we are a good people. Maybe then you could "live and let live" so to speak. If you investigate with openness and find us to be something other than what I have suggested, then perhaps the admonitions in your own book might be sufficient reason for you not to cause discord with us:

"Say: O disbelievers! I worship not that which ye worship;
Nor worship ye that which I worship. And I shall not worship that which ye worship. Nor will ye worship that which I worship. Unto you your religion, and unto me my religion." (surat al-kafirun)

"And if he be a liar on him is the sin of his lie: but, if he is telling the Truth, then upon you will fall something of which he warns you: truly God guides not him who is a transgressor and liar!" (Qur'an 40:28).

"Let there be no compulsion in religion. Truth stands out clear from error; whoever rejects evil and believes in God hath grasped the most trustworthy handle, that never breaks. And God heareth and knoweth all things.
God is the Protector of those who have faith: from the depths of darkness He will lead them forth into light. Of those who reject faith their patrons are the Evil Ones: from light they will lead them forth into the depths of darkness. They will be companions of the fire, to dwell therein" (Qur'an 2:256-7).

Commit not disorder on the earth after it has been made so good. This will be better for you, if you will believe it! Lay not in ambush by every road in menace; nor mislead him who believeth in God, from His way, nor seek to make it crooked; and remember when ye were few and he multiplied you, and behold what hath been the end of the authors of disorder!

And if a part of you believe in that with which I am sent, and a part of
you believe not, then wait steadfastly until God shall judge between us, for He is the best of judges" (Qur'an 7:80).


Peace be upon you.

British_Bahai
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Re: Inequality of men and women in the system of inheritance

Postby British_Bahai » Wed Mar 05, 2008 10:34 pm

Loren wrote:You may be interested to know, if you didn't already, that Baha'i women were voting and serving on assemblies long before women's suffrage had come even to the most liberal countries of the west.

excellent point

brettz9
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Postby brettz9 » Thu Mar 06, 2008 9:07 am

Some very nice sentiments, Bruce...

Just curious, Golha, how much do you get paid to ask these questions?

Anyways we should thank you for giving us all an opportunity to discuss the various aspects of our Faith more deeply.

To the specifics of this particular post...

If the deceased father has one or more daughters, she(they) will have nothing!


Umm. Not quite. Though quite skillful at taking something completely out of context. Funny how you manage to find all of these controversial things without coming across the full context... If only more Westerners were familiar with these kinds of tactics...

"We have divided inheritance into seven categories: to the children, We have allotted nine parts comprising five hundred and forty shares; to the wife, eight parts comprising four hundred and eighty shares; to the father, seven parts comprising four hundred and twenty shares; to the mother, six parts comprising three hundred and sixty shares; to the brothers, five parts or three hundred shares; to the sisters, four parts or two hundred and forty shares; and to the teachers, three parts or one hundred and eighty shares."

(Baha'u'llah, Kitab-i-Aqdas, par. 20)


That's a far cry from the daughter receiving nothing.

Brett

kristen wilson
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Women's suffrage

Postby kristen wilson » Wed Mar 19, 2008 10:04 pm

You may be interested to know, if you didn't already, that Baha'i women were voting and serving on assemblies long before women's suffrage had come even to the most liberal countries of the west.
(Loren)


I believe you're overstating the case. Women's suffrage came to the more liberal countries of the West in the late nineteenth and early 20th century, but there were still major Baha'i communities where women weren't permitted to serve on assemblies. In Iran, for example.

While women were allowed to vote within the Iranian Baha'i community, it was not until 1954 that they were permitted to serve on Baha'i institutions.
"Women in the Baha'i Faith", by Susan Maneck

Fadl
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Re: Women's suffrage

Postby Fadl » Fri Mar 21, 2008 12:17 am

Steve wrote:
You may be interested to know, if you didn't already, that Baha'i women were voting and serving on assemblies long before women's suffrage had come even to the most liberal countries of the west.
(Loren)


I believe you're overstating the case. Women's suffrage came to the more liberal countries of the West in the late nineteenth and early 20th century, but there were still major Baha'i communities where women weren't permitted to serve on assemblies. In Iran, for example.

While women were allowed to vote within the Iranian Baha'i community, it was not until 1954 that they were permitted to serve on Baha'i institutions.
"Women in the Baha'i Faith", by Susan Maneck


Hi Steve,

I don't think I am over stating at all, unless one makes comparisons like American Baha'i women, vs Persian Baha'i women, which I don't think is a legitimate comparison to make. If you compare American Baha'i women, to American women, and Persian Baha'i women to Persian women, you will find that in both cases, Baha'i women were ahead of their non-Baha'i counterparts.

I had not read Maneck's article before, and I really enjoyed it. Thanks for posting it. One thing that was not clear from the article, was an explanation of what is meant by "[women] were [not] permitted to serve on Baha'i institutions." If it was a matter of doctrinal prohibition, I have never heard of such a prohibition in the writings, and it would be good to have a reference to such prohibition, if that is the basis for women not serving on institutions at that time. Nevertheless, even if it wasn't a written prohibition, it does seem clear in Maneck's article that 'Abdu'l-Baha was concerned with things unfolding and evolving in the proper way, and at the right time. Considering the intense persecution and, not to mention, the understable social ackwardness that certainly existed among even the Baha'is who had lived all of their lives in an Islamic society and its social norms, it is certainly understandable. The idea of the gradual unfoldment of Baha'i law is something that is certainly not a new or unusual development in the Faith.


Loren

kristen wilson
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Postby kristen wilson » Fri Mar 21, 2008 4:31 am

Hi Loren,

I think the comparison is legitimate, based on your original statement:

Loren wrote:You may be interested to know, if you didn't already, that Baha'i women were voting and serving on assemblies long before women's suffrage had come even to the most liberal countries of the west.


However, rather than argue about that, I prefer to take a different approach to the question.

Women's suffrage came to the liberal western country of New Zealand in 1893. Wikipedia

But the first official Baha'i "assembly" in the world wasn't elected until 1899, and it was in Iran, where Baha'i women weren't permitted to be elected to assemblies until 1954.

As far as I can tell, women weren't eligible to be elected to any assembly, anywhere in the world, until 1911. The change began in the US. Wikipedia

So, yes, I do think your statement is incorrect. 1893 (first country to allow women's suffrage) is 18 years before 1911 (first Baha'i assembly to allow women to vote and be elected).

And if you insist on comparing like with like, which I say wasn't part of your original statement, then feel free to do so. In the US, women's suffrage had already come to the US by 1911. It began in 1869 and was complete by 1920. Wikipedia

You write:
Loren wrote:One thing that was not clear from the article, was an explanation of what is meant by "[women] were [not] permitted to serve on Baha'i institutions."


"Iranian cultural conventions", apparently. Wikipedia See Stockman, The Bahá'í Faith in America, vol. 2, 338.

ka kite
Steve

Fadl
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Postby Fadl » Fri Mar 21, 2008 9:15 am

Steve wrote:Hi Loren,

I think the comparison is legitimate, based on your original statement:

You may be interested to know, if you didn't already, that Baha'i women were voting and serving on assemblies long before women's suffrage had come even to the most liberal countries of the west.
(Loren)


However, rather than argue about that, I prefer to take a different approach to the question.

Women's suffrage came to the liberal western country of New Zealand in 1893. Wikipedia

But the first official Baha'i "assembly" in the world wasn't elected until 1899, and it was in Iran, where Baha'i women weren't permitted to be elected to assemblies until 1954.

As far as I can tell, women weren't eligible to be elected to any assembly, anywhere in the world, until 1911. The change began in the US. Wikipedia

So, yes, I do think your statement is incorrect. 1893 (first country to allow women's suffrage) is 18 years before 1911 (first Baha'i assembly to allow women to vote and be elected).

And if you insist on comparing like with like, which I say wasn't part of your original statement, then feel free to do so. In the US, women's suffrage had already come to the US by 1911. It began in 1869 and was complete by 1920. Wikipedia

You write:
One thing that was not clear from the article, was an explanation of what is meant by "[women] were [not] permitted to serve on Baha'i institutions."


"Iranian cultural conventions", apparently. Wikipedia See Stockman, The Bahá'í Faith in America, vol. 2, 338.

ka kite
Steve



Steve,

I can see your point, and I was certainly too sloppy with my original statement. Thanks for keeping me honest! The references you have brought into the debate and the keenness of your observations have certainly given me cause to reflect.

If my original statement suggests that American Baha’is could be compared with Persian Baha’is, and Americans with Persians, then I can’t stand by that statement, because I don’t think that is true. I’m not sure what criterion we’re actually using here to define liberation, but let me suggest some for your consideration: 1) having the right to vote, and 2) having the right to be elected. Because some might argue that the right to vote and the right to be elected are suspect without the observed voting and serving in fact, perhaps the degree to which women actually vote and actually get elected should also be factored in to determine the degree of liberation enjoyed.

In order to analyze Baha’i women, it would also be necessary to have some observational controls in place to have meaningful data. Since American women and Persian women, for example, are not culturally equal and are too dissimilar and lacking in a common origin (data point) direct comparisons between American Baha’i women and Persian Baha’i women are not meaningful, because there are too many cultural non-Baha’i factors that contaminate the observational data. This is why it is necessary to measure the degree to which a Baha’i woman is liberated relative to her non-Baha’i counterpart of her own culture to reduce contamination of the purely Baha’i elements seeking to be analyzed. This process would then have to be repeated in a similar way in Iran, and other countries, and only then could the deviations and averages be combined for measuring the global Baha’i women liberation factor, vs. non Baha’i women of the world.

Statistically speaking, the fact ( I am assuming it is a fact) that women did not vote in elections and or serve on institutions in Iran (I’m unclear if you are asserting both as facts) and that New Zealand was the first country to allow women to vote, and or have women elected to serve on institutions (I don’t know if this is so) which predated the first incident of a Baha’i woman voting and or being elected anywhere in the world (is it both?), as you have stated, would not invalidate or really even weaken a regression model which supports my assertion that Baha’i women have been ahead of their non-Baha’i counterpart.

The fact that there may be and are cases (such as New Zealand and Iran) which defy the assertion is not sufficient cause to refute the assertion. Statistically speaking, the observations of Iran and New Zealand which you have mentioned would be outside the regression’s function, and, as such, can only be considered outliers. Nevertheless, the function of the regression itself is still statistically sound. I’m not much of a math head, but just to explain the idea to those who may not be familiar with regression and outliers at all, here is a quick and dirty explanation.
Suppose you have 100 observations of some phenomenon and suspect a relationship that explains all them or links them together, you can build a regression model which is a function that links the observations together under a certain dependency. Before doing so, the data must be screened and evaluated for consistency. The data that are extreme relative to the majority of the observations are called outliers and should and must be excluded. An Example of outliers is a situation where one has a 100 observations that can be plotted within a range of say 20 to 30, and then a few other observations are outside the 20 to 30 range, say plus or minus 100 and several others even further out, say several hundred or even 1000.

I should have simply prefaced my original statement with “in general” and then I would have had a better footing. At any rate, proving causality between women’s suffrage/liberation would be a difficult thing to prove, but I don’t think it would be difficult to show a strong positive correlation. And no, I’m not volunteering to do it, although I hope you will! :=)
I don’t know if you are a Baha’i or not, but it is clear that you do know a great deal about the Faith. Just to clarify, are you questioning the tenacity of the Faith’s claim to being a champion of women’s rights, or were you just questioning the integrity of my statement? I suspect the latter, but either way, I would like to hear your additional comments!

Loren

kristen wilson
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Postby kristen wilson » Fri Mar 21, 2008 4:19 pm

Hi Loren,

Yes, I'm a Baha'i and, yes, I was questioning whether your statement was factually correct.

The only difficulty I have with claims that the Baha'i faith champions women's rights is that "women's rights" is a recent Western concept and, almost inevitably, is tied up with equality of function, abortion rights, and other principles and rights that Baha'u'llah didn't necessarily approve of, or focus on. It's the same difficulty I have with Tahirih being made out to be a martyr for women's liberation. Such a claim tends to ignore the very large cultural difference between 19th century Babism, and late 20th century feminism.

I think I'm a feminist, so I don't want to appear to be putting feminism down. I recognise that feminism isn't monolithic, and I accept that Tahirih can be characterised as a martyr for women's liberation. However, I object to that characterisation being carried out by people who don't know the first thing about Babi thought or 19th century Persian Shi'ism.

I'm sliding off onto a whole other topic, but I think it's pertiment to what we're discussing. Getting back to the original question, Sen McGlinn would be able to talk about the cultural influences that underpin the inheritance laws and explain just why the intestacy formula could be equitable, based on the needs and responsibilities of the various recipient groups:

"It is not the law of the Aqdas which is unequal, but the society. And that is our problem."

Some considerations relating to the inheritance laws of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas - Sen McGlinn



ka kite
Steve


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