Women and equality?

All research or scholarship questions
SpiritualSeeker
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Women and equality?

Postby SpiritualSeeker » Tue May 12, 2009 9:44 pm

Hello all,

As you can see from my recent post it is getting down deep into the faith. I want to make sure before I make any decisions that I have everything I need.

This question is a concern my wife has. I recently learned that women cannot serve in the house of Justice as part of the 9 members. I spoke to Dr. Motlagh about this and he gave me an example of a woman who is pregnant and needs to take care of her children as the mother raises the children. However, this is still something that perhaps isnt good enough for me. Perhaps im just being stubborn. I understand the point but if there is truely EQUALITY of MEN and WOMEN then I think women should also be able to serve as part of the 9 member, regardless of a circumstance.

Is there something im just missing?

Thank you!
Live your daily life in a way that you never lose yourself. When you are carried away with your worries, fears, cravings, anger, and desire, you run away from yourself and you lose yourself. The practice is always to go back to oneself.Thich Nhat Hanh

AdibM
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Re: Women and equality?

Postby AdibM » Tue May 12, 2009 10:27 pm

Hi Juan,

Nobody really knows why women are ineligible for membership on the House at this point, although many have their own opinions. When you get right down to it, we can only look back on what `Abdu'l-Baha once said: that the reason for this will one day become as clear as the noonday sun in the sky (paraphrasing). I can't find the exact quote at the moment.

I find it a matter of faith in the Central Figures - one of the few instances where we're really required to put faith in a teaching especially since it might not make sense to us at this point. Of course, I personally don't think Baha'u'llah would make the statement about women and men being the two wings of one bird and then "contradict" himself with this law about the House! He must have had a reason for this phenomenon which ostensibly appears to be a contradiction. Again, it all goes back to faith.

Best wishes,
Adib
"To be a Bahá'í simply means to love all the world; to love humanity and try to serve it; to work for universal peace and universal brotherhood." -- `Abdu'l-Bahá

BruceDLimber
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Re: Women and equality?

Postby BruceDLimber » Wed May 13, 2009 8:04 am

Seeker, hi again! :-)

There are a couple points about this I think are worth noting:

    As as already been noted, none of us really knows the reason for the prohibition. We simply obey it as a matter of faith.

    Also, this could affect at most only nine women! But service on the House of Justice is nothing that anybody can strive for: ALL elective positions in the Faith are positions of service and confer neither power nor renown on those who hold them! Further, women can serve--and have always been eligible to serve--on those bodies that do confer status: Hand of the Cause of God and Continental Counsellor.

    It's also worth noting that while we do all we can to insure and advance the equality of women, there are also areas where the policy cuts the other way (so to speak). According to Baha'i law women--ALL women, not just nine or fewer-- take precedence over all men for receipt of education, for example!

So I humbly suggest this is more in balance than you seem originally to have thought.

Best regards, :-)

Bruce

brettz9
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Re: Women and equality?

Postby brettz9 » Wed May 13, 2009 8:43 am

Actually, I think the following may give one indication as to why it was prohibited:

I am endeavouring, with Bahá'u'lláh's confirmations and assistance, so to improve the world of the handmaidens that all will be astonished. This progress is intended to be in spirituality, in virtues, in human perfections and in divine knowledge. In America, the cradle of women's liberation, women are still debarred from political institutions because they squabble. They are yet to have a member in the House of Representatives. Also Bahá'u'lláh hath proclaimed: "O ye men of the House of Justice." Ye need to be calm and composed, so that the work will proceed with wisdom, otherwise there will be such chaos that ye will leave everything and run away. "This newly born babe is traversing in one night the path that needeth a hundred years to tread." In brief, ye should now engage in matters of pure spirituality and not contend with men. 'Abdu'l-Bahá will tactfully take appropriate steps. Be assured. In the end thou wilt thyself exclaim, "This was indeed supreme wisdom!" I appeal to you to obliterate this contention between men and women....

No one can on his own achieve anything. 'Abdu'l-Bahá must be well pleased and assist.

('Abdu'l-Baha at http://bahai-library.com/compilations/women/1.html#11 )


If the U.S. still hasn't had, after all this time, a woman president after being, as 'Abdu'l-Baha says, the "cradle of women's liberation", then how can it be expected that very traditional and patriarchical societies are going to embrace the Faith--something they need to do in order to progress rapidly toward equality, as occurred with Baha'is in Iran--with women governing at its top?

"The beloved Guardian in reply to the same query from a believer pointed out in a letter written on his behalf on July 15th 1947: 'People must just accept the fact that women are not eligible to the International House of Justice. As the Master says the wisdom of this will be known in the future, we can only accept, believing it is right, but not able to give an explanation calculated to silence an ardent feminist!'

"We must have faith in the Supreme Manifestation of God and His Exemplar, Whose prescience is revealed in such provisions which will one day 'be made manifest even as the mid-day sun.'"

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, May 26, 1971)


That being said, it should be quite clear to what extent the Baha'i Writings and activities of its institutions go toward advocating for the advancement of women if you investigate a bit. It is one of the four external affairs aims in recent Baha'i plans and is a frequent topic of Baha'i International Community statements. Baha'is from the local to international level often appoint women to represent the community (something easier to do with a grass-roots administrative-based system, as long as the community is educated on the equality of the sexes), often being the only female so appointed, given how traditional religions are still the province of men.

And while it reflects in no way on their capacity for governing ('Abdu'l-Baha praised the capacity of women for leadership and said they should strive and fulfill such offices), my own speculation is that as the Law-giver (we previously discussed why 'Abdu'l-Baha indicated women have not been Manifestations of God in the past), as in a family, the more effective disciplinarian is generally the male. That is in no way a better, more-important role! On the contrary, we all know women have the harder job! But if I raise my voice a little bit with even our one-year old son, he will stop in his tracks, unlike for all the attempts of my wife, and this is not an isolated experience!

Likewise with the House of Justice--which is responsible, as we are told, for justice--not mercy...It is the role of the communities to become impregnated with the seed of their plans and to nurture that seed to fruition. I think it is significant that 'Abdu'l-Baha explains one meaning of Adam and Eve as being the Manifestation of God and the first believer, respectively. The Manifestation (or His infallible institution) provides the seed, and we, however imperfectly, try to provide a positive environment for that seed to grow. It is not the action of providing the seed that is so important. And the House of Justice itself recognizes this, I think, in its high praise for the International Teaching Centre, and recognition of the work of all of the Baha'i teachers around the world. Their work is of course very important, but this whole age is to bring about a new attitude toward power--one which finds power in morality, example, collaboration, and service, rather than in individualism and force. Remember, the House of Justice members do not have individual power, either. As they say, spiritual rank is known only to God...

best wishes,
Brett

Truth
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Re: Women and equality?

Postby Truth » Thu May 14, 2009 6:53 am

Ah, the age old women and equality question!

I think too many people compare serving as a UHJ member to being in politics. Serving on the UHJ is a selfless service. Selfless, meaning there is nothing to benefit or gain. Women themselves aren't denied anything. Men on the other hand have a chance of missing out on education, which no one seems to have a problem with! A very good reason is given though.
No need to ask in whose presence I stood, as I bowed myself before one who is the object of a devotion and love which kings might envy and emperors sigh for in vain!

Keyvan
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Re: Women and equality?

Postby Keyvan » Sun May 17, 2009 1:26 am

Women in the Baha'i Faith are allowed to serve on any Administrative Institution, save the Universal House of Justice. So lets look at why that is, and what's so unique about the Universal House of Justice.

Unique qualities of the Universal House of Justice
1) The Head of the faith charged with the Authority to guide all other Baha'i Institutions
2) Divinely Guided: "Whatsoever they decide has the same effect as the Text itself" - Abdu'l Baha

So either or both of these reasons lead to why women are not allowed on the Universal House of Justice.

Virtually always, those who criticize against this aspect of the Baha'i Administration, focus on the first point. They charge that women can be allowed on any other Baha'i Administrative Institution, save the Universal House of Justice, so that men are always at the top - that is, that there is a chauvinistic reason for this.

First of all lets remember that when it comes to education, women are given the privilege in the Baha'i Faith. If a family can only afford to send one or some children to school and not others, then the girls are given the privilege, not the boys. Meaning, the males must go on to find some kind of trade that does not require a formal education.

Think about that. Women in the Baha'i Faith are given priority in being cultivated intellectually.

If in fact there were a chauvinistic reason for this, then WHY would women be given this priority? Why would the gender that is given right of way in intellectual cultivation, be passed aside when those intellectual abilities are needed the most?

The answer, its NOT a chauvinistic reason why women are not allowed on the Universal House of Justice.

Secondly, if it were a chauvinistic reason, then why would women be allowed to potentially dominate every other Baha'i institution. Seriously, every National Spiritual Assembly, Local Spiritual Assembly, Regional Council, could be 100% women, potentially. If the Baha'i Faith believed that "women are so incapable to lead" then why would they be given such authority? It wouldn't even matter that the Universal House of Justice is all men, and reviews NSA decisions after-the-fact - decisions are made on the fly by NSA's and LSA's, that have national and global implications. If it were a chauvinistic reason why women are not allowed on the Universal House of Justice, than logically they would not be allowed on other high ranking institutions either.

Lastly on this point, women take part in electing the Universal House of Justice. As delegates of their NSA's, which could potentially be all women, and more realistically lets keep in mind that women outnumber men in population, it is effectively women that choose the members of the Universal House of Justice, which is an enormous gender "check and balance" if you want to look at it that way.

So to reiterate the point, it is not a chauvinistic reason why women are not allowed on the Universal House of Justice.

So why is it then?

We need to look a that second unique aspect of the Universal House of Justice - the Divine Guidance aspect.

The members of the Universal House of Justice, Baha'i's believe, are Divinely inspired, and collectively their legislative decisions by majority or unanimous ruling, are considered Infallible and of God.

One point on that, it doesn't matter if you have dogs and cats in the Universal House of Justice, its the Divine Guidence that matters not the personal desires of the Members themselves, let alone are those decisions driven by gender.

The other, broader point on that is, this is beyond tenants of governance and democracy, and moves on to questions of "mysticism." That is, if there is Divine Inspiration going on here, and the will of Baha'u'llah is being channeled then there is a science to this process.

For that we can look towards neuroscience and quantum mechanics. Through understandings of neuroscience, it is not yet understood where human thought comes from. Neuroscientists know that the brain is the receiver of thought, and that the body reacts to the thought that is received, and how that works, but it is still unknown where thought comes from. For this, many in the neuroscience community, have turned towards spirituality for answers. That is, that thought generates from unknown dimensions and worlds not understood. And through this we can gather a scientific basis for the spiritual concept of the soul interacting with the body from the spiritual world...but not to go off on a tangent

Through quantum theory we can gather a scientific basis for mystic communication. (Now I am not professing that I have a mastery of the study of quantum physics but here is how I see it applied, from my understandings.) That is, Baha'u'llah in His great consciousness, by willing that the Universal House of Justice would channel His will, it was made so simply because He conceived it. And how that process unfolds is that His energy is received by the participating members of the Universal House of Justice. Then its a question of how was the Universal House of Justice was designed so the Institution would be receiving of that communication.

A) Perhaps to receive that energy the receivers need to be male, as Baha'u'llah's material body was male. Think of it this way, while mac's and pc's are equal, this file is only compatible with pc's because it came from a pc.

B) 9 members are allowed on the Universal House of Justice, no more no less. A woman can potentially become pregnant, bringing 10 or more souls in the chambers of the Universal House of Justice which could throw off the mechanics.

Maybe both, maybe other possibilities.

But what is clear is that the reason why women are not allowed on the Universal House of Justice has to do with the nuts and bolts mystic process of Divine Inspiration, not a reason relating to chauvinism.

brettz9
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Re: Women and equality?

Postby brettz9 » Sun May 17, 2009 3:59 am

Hello Keyvan and all,

While I agree with much of what you have said, personally, I don't buy the proposed pregnancy rationale at all. I think the other reasons I mentioned are much more likely: readiness of the world-wide society (the authentic quote I cited seems to me to point to this as at least one reason), and possibly as a symbol of the disciplinarian divine justice-dispensing, seed-sowing institution (as I cited the Adam-Eve story being symbolic, per one unconfirmed quotation, of the Manifestation (male) and the first believer (female), the one indicating the real creation--one out of the Other).

Men are more prone to violence (and our Writings even suggest women's involvement in politics will be a large factor in contributing to peace, and even a measure of it)--does that mean no men should be allowed in office? So why should a chance at pregnancy be so serious? Should older men be barred because they might end up retiring (as some have)? Should those with disabilities? If pregnancy were such an issue, why would 'Abdu'l-Baha encourage women to enter into other positions of leadership? I think bringing up this argument does more harm than good, as it also might lead some to believe we do not have faith in women's capacity for very serious leadership, when 'Abdu'l-Baha is instead to have said:

"... The woman has greater moral courage than the man; she has also special gifts which enable her to govern in moments of danger and crisis."

'Abdu'l-Bahá in London: Addresses, and Notes of Conversations (London: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1982), pp. 102-3


I also didn't follow your logic about checks-and-balances, unless it was just a joke, since obviously men have and do operate as delegates and serve on Baha'i institutions. I believe there may still be somewhat of a gap, especially in terms of officers (e.g., women as secretaries and men as chairmen).

best wishes,
Brett

Sen McGlinn
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Re: Women and equality?

Postby Sen McGlinn » Sun May 17, 2009 7:09 am

I don't buy the "pregnancy" argument - the hard work of parenthood begins after the birth, and it is for men and women alike. If that were the reason, a minimum age would serve the purpose, but we hardly need that, since nowadays members of the UHJ are usually in their 50's or 60's when first elected.

Baha'u'llah writes:

Today the Baha'i women (lit., the leaves of the Holy Tree) must guide the handmaidens of the earth to the Lofty Horizon with the utmost purity and sanctity. Today the handmaidens of God are regarded as gentlemen (rijal). Blessed are they! Blessed are they!
[Quoted in Ahmad Yazdani, Mabadiy-i Ruhani, Tehran: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 104 Badi', p 109; also in `Abdu’l-Hamid Ishraq-Khavari (compiler), Payam-e malkuut, under ‘A treatise on the equal rights of men and women’ page 6 (cited Mohamad Vahedi, blog http://www.mohammadvahedi.blogspot.com/ accessed 8 June 2007. ]

And in another passage:

Today whoever among the handmaidens attains the knowledge of the Desire of the World [i.e., Baha'u'llah] is considered a gentleman (rajul) in the Divine Book. [as above]

And in another place:

...many a man (rajul) hath waited expectant for God's Revelation, and yet when the Light shone forth from the horizon of the world, all but a few turned their faces away from it. Whosoever from amongst the handmaidens hath recognized the Lord of all Names is recorded in the Book as one of those men (rijal) by the Pen of the Most High. [Women: Extracts from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, 'Abdu'l-Baha, Shoghi Effendi,and the Universal House of Justice, comp. by The Research Department of the Universal House of Justice, Baha'i Canada Publications, 1986, #7, p 3.]

And:

O maidservants [kaniizaan]: arise like men in the Cause of God. Today, by the aid of God, many women are accounted as men, and some men are reckoned as women. The eye of mercy is veiled, for what distinguishes them is concealed. [Cited in `Abdu’l-Hamid Ishraq-Khavari (compiler), Payam-e malkuut, under ‘A treatise on the equal rights of men and women’ page 7 (cited Mohamad Vahedi, blog http://www.mohammadvahedi.blogspot.com/ accessed 8 June 2007. ]

Likewise, 'Abdu'l-Baha in one of his Tablets has made the same point:

Verily, according to Baha'u'llah, women are judged as gentlemen (rijal). [Quoted in Ahmad Yazdani, Maqam va Huquq-i Zan dar Diyanat-i Baha'i, vol. 1, Tehran: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 107 Badi'.]

This makes me think that it is not any inherent moral quality of women, let alone the physical possibilities of pregnancy or menstruation that we must look to, but rather the present state of the world and the unacceptability of women in positions of authority to some cultures. Some Islamic countries have a similar solution: by specifying that the President must be a man, they can overcome the traditionalists' resistance to women Ministers, MPs, judges etc..

Susan Maneck wrote a paper on the technical meaning of "a wisdom" in the Bahai writings. My summary is - "a wisdom" a deviation from the ideal made as a concession to circumstances, in order to avoid causing offence or inviting opposition.

~~ Sen McGlinn

AdibM
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Re: Women and equality?

Postby AdibM » Sun May 17, 2009 7:18 am

Great discussion! Sen, I completely agree with your sentiment that the rationale lies in the state of the world itself rather than the inherent qualities of women.

Since we're on the subject of theories I suppose I'll give my old one a shot...I warn you though, it's far-fetched!

We have the following quote from Shoghi Effendi:

"The Universal Court of Arbitration and the International Tribunal are the same. When the Bahá'í State will be established they will be merged in the Universal House of Justice."

(Letter written on behalf of the Guardian on June 17, 1933.)


As far as I am aware, there is no restriction of women from joining the Court of Arbitration. That being said, perhaps the preclusion of women on the House will dissolve when these two institutions are merged, meaning that they will be able to join this new institution of leadership (only if, theoretically, this new institution were no longer called the Universal House of Justice).

If this is indeed the case, then the next thing that would come to my mind is the question of why Baha'u'llah rendered women ineligible for membership on this body in the first place. If I had to guess, it would be because at his time and in consideration of where he lived and traveled, the idea of women being the leaders of anything - much less an entire religion - would have been outrageous. Therefore this untold ability to join a future institution would make sense: people in the regions where Baha'u'llah lived and traveled were closed-minded then, now, and probably will remain as such beyond the foreseeable future, or however long it takes for the stench of extremism to quit lingering. But if the emergence of a Baha'i State were to take place several generations from now, then perhaps the minds of those aforementioned regions will collectively shed their shells and become more open to the idea of women leading a religion. By the time this revolution of thought occurs, these two institutions will merge and women would be able to be elected to this new one. It would make sense to me because then Baha'u'llah would have called for an institution with conditions that would be accepted by most Westerners (ones who don't let small details get in the way of finding truth) and those in the East in this day and age, but in reality that institution was not meant to last based on Shoghi Effendi's above statement - it would eventually culminate into a new institution, one that would fit the standards of a more accepting humanity, comprised of both East and West.

Again, this is not to say women can ever sit on the House of Justice as we know it today, because they cannot. I'd very much like for this theory to go under scrutiny. :)
"To be a Bahá'í simply means to love all the world; to love humanity and try to serve it; to work for universal peace and universal brotherhood." -- `Abdu'l-Bahá

Highmountain
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Re: Women and equality?

Postby Highmountain » Sun May 17, 2009 8:38 am

Hello,

I like your theory Adib, it validates this quote:

It must be also clearly understood by every believer that the institution of Guardianship does not under any circumstances abrogate, or even in the slightest degree detract from, the powers granted to the Universal House of Justice by Bahá’u’lláh in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, and repeatedly and solemnly confirmed by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in His Will. It does not constitute in any manner a contradiction to the Will and Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, nor does it nullify any of His revealed instructions.
- World Order of Baha'u'llah.

So it's a simple given that women will never serve on the 9 at the UHJ. Women, in this dispensation, take precedence in receiving education and I try to look at this from an historical standpoint. For how many millenia, in how many cultures, were women treated as almost subhuman, with lesser rights than animals in some cases? I would guess a great many. It seems to me that Baha'u'llah intended this precedence in education to act as a "catch up" period for women as well as a test of their faith (so many tests!!). Perhaps when the next manifestation arrives, he will abrogate that law. 834 more years or so before the next manifestation, in the grand scheme, will be another blink of the eye really. During that blink however, I think women will have made up all the ground necessary (especially in the Middle East!) to truly be on an equal footing. This also gives men the time to adjust to such changes. So your theory, as far as women's role in the Universal Court of Arbitration, doesn't seem that far fetched. Even if they merge in the UH,J they won't sit on the nine.

Just my opinion....

Peace,

HM

AdibM
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Re: Women and equality?

Postby AdibM » Sun May 17, 2009 9:06 am

Hello Highmountain! How's the weather up there? ;)

Highmountain wrote:It seems to me that Baha'u'llah intended this precedence in education to act as a "catch up" period for women as well as a test of their faith (so many tests!!). Perhaps when the next manifestation arrives, he will abrogate that law.


Perhaps indeed. Good point about the catch up period; I hadn't quite thought of it in those terms.

Highmountain wrote:So your theory, as far as women's role in the Universal Court of Arbitration, doesn't seem that far fetched. Even if they merge in the UH,J they won't sit on the nine.


Well I'm glad you like my theory, but I think a fatal flaw in it has just dawned on me. Shoghi Effendi explicitly says that the Court of Arbitration will merge into the existing House of Justice. I now understand that to mean the merging of a raindrop into an ocean; that the raindrop itself no longer exists but the ocean remains intact. Now I'm under the impression that what Shoghi Effendi meant was that the Court would merge into the House, thus eliminating the former as an independent institution while preserving the latter. If that's the case and the latter retained its present identity even after the merging, then my theory appears to be moot.

For some reason I had always interpreted this merging to mean that the two would merge and a new institution would come forth from this merging, but that doesn't seem so feasible anymore. Someone please let me know if I've made an error in this analysis.

Highmountain wrote:Just my opinion....


And a highly valued one at that!

Best wishes,
Adib
"To be a Bahá'í simply means to love all the world; to love humanity and try to serve it; to work for universal peace and universal brotherhood." -- `Abdu'l-Bahá

Keyvan
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Re: Women and equality?

Postby Keyvan » Sun May 17, 2009 11:26 am

I strongly disagree with that notion that one day the make-up of the Universal House of Justice will change.

For one thing, by that logic of a merger of other institutions, it doesn't mean that the provisions of the make-up of those institutions will carry over, just their roles and jurisdiction. There has always been discussion and questioning about this provision of women not being allowed on the Universal House of Justice since the time of the Master and the Guardian. Surely, if women were to one day be allowed, that would have been explicitly stated at some point in those many years of ministry.

This is the same kind of logic that caused a wayward Hand of the Cause to think he was ipso facto appointed Guardian by nature of being appointed President of the International Baha'i Council which was through other documentation said to one day evolve into the Baha'i World Court and then to the Universal House of Justice. Likewise as we know that was not true, and also the fact that there were the women allowed on the International Baha'i Council did not translate into women being allowed on the Univerasl House of Justice.

There is a logical and mystic basis for why only 9 elected men are able to receive Divine Inspiration, and why it would not work with women. Scientific study will one day make clear why that is. I see that as the truth and the most clear justification for the provision as stands. To say that one day this provision will change negates any logical reason as to why women would not be allowed at this point, and leads to only a chauvinistic reason as the explanation.

Keyvan
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Re: Women and equality?

Postby Keyvan » Sun May 17, 2009 11:42 am

I don't buy the "pregnancy" argument - the hard work of parenthood begins after the birth, and it is for men and women alike. If that were the reason, a minimum age would serve the purpose, but we hardly need that, since nowadays members of the UHJ are usually in their 50's or 60's when first elected.


Brett and Sen, you confused what my point was. I did not say the problem with a pregnant women serving is because pregnancy is "hard work," or some such not at all. That is, I did not suggest that pregnancy makes one less capable of leadership positions. I said that (as ONE possibly theory) a pregnant woman brings along the problem of bringing 10 people into the Universal House of Justice's chambers, not 9, or that a pregnant woman by nature of carrying another may not be able to receive Divine Inspiration, as they would otherwise. I'm talking about mysticism, not "convenience."

Also, you do know that women today are getting pregnant, albeit usually unnaturally, in their 50's and 60's, whereas 40 years ago this was considered impossible? and that frequency will go higher, and the age at which women will have children will also go higher as life expectancy gets higher. That's why we have to have a universal standard so to avoid the the confusion that occurs in a grey area.

Keyvan
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Re: Women and equality?

Postby Keyvan » Sun May 17, 2009 9:32 pm

I don't agree with the whole "world is not ready" explanation either. I've heard that idea floated around since I was a little kid, and it just never added up. Baha'i's bring forth a new standard, the Revelation is to cleanse mankind of primative standards of equality and bring it to the future, towards true equality. If this were the case, then the faith would be conforming to the prejudiced standards of a material society, rather than the other way around.

brettz9
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Re: Women and equality?

Postby brettz9 » Mon May 18, 2009 2:56 am

While we are moving toward equality, we are not assured we are going to get there within this Dispensation. Indeed, if we were, there would be no need for successive Manifestations.

"Know of a certainty," explains Bahá'u'lláh, "that in every Dispensation the light of Divine Revelation has been vouchsafed to men in direct proportion to their spiritual capacity..."

It is for this reason, and this reason only, that those who have recognized the Light of God in this age, claim no finality for the Revelation with which they stand identified, nor arrogate to the Faith they have embraced powers and attributes intrinsically superior to, or essentially different from, those which have characterized any of the religious systems that preceded it.
Does not Bahá'u'lláh Himself allude to the progressiveness of Divine Revelation and to the limitations which an inscrutable Wisdom has chosen to impose upon Him?


And again, look carefully at this quotation I already offered. I really believe this quotation may even be speaking to this case:

I am endeavouring, with Bahá'u'lláh's confirmations and assistance, so to improve the world of the handmaidens that all will be astonished. This progress is intended to be in spirituality, in virtues, in human perfections and in divine knowledge. In America, the cradle of women's liberation, women are still debarred from political institutions because they squabble. They are yet to have a member in the House of Representatives. Also Bahá'u'lláh hath proclaimed: "O ye men of the House of Justice." Ye need to be calm and composed, so that the work will proceed with wisdom, otherwise there will be such chaos that ye will leave everything and run away. "This newly born babe is traversing in one night the path that needeth a hundred years to tread." In brief, ye should now engage in matters of pure spirituality and not contend with men. 'Abdu'l-Bahá will tactfully take appropriate steps. Be assured. In the end thou wilt thyself exclaim, "This was indeed supreme wisdom!" I appeal to you to obliterate this contention between men and women....

No one can on his own achieve anything. 'Abdu'l-Bahá must be well pleased and assist.

('Abdu'l-Baha at http://bahai-library.com/compilations/women/1.html#11 )


And there is this too:

In one of His Tablets 'Abdu'l-Bahá asserts: "In this divine age the bounties of God have encompassed the world of women. Equality of men and women, except in some negligible instances, has been fully and categorically announced. Distinctions have been utterly removed."

(at http://bahai-library.com/file.php?file= ... sband_wife )


best wishes,
Brett

brettz9
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Re: Women and equality?

Postby brettz9 » Mon May 18, 2009 3:04 am

By the way, Keyvan, to add to my point just now, I realized your point about pregnancy, but my point was that I think it will inevitably raise the opposite idea in many people's minds regardless...I remember one talk a while back by a House member where he suggested his own idea was related to biology, and there was kind of a bit of immediate and disapproving grumbling in the audience among some... (though granted, our Writings do not explicitly rule out such an explanation, it doesn't seem to be helpful to suggest it). While your suggestion was not related to this, it may also even raise other negative connotations such as only men can be inspired to be holy (like Catholics might argue about the priesthood, for example).

Sen McGlinn
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Re: Women and equality?

Postby Sen McGlinn » Mon May 18, 2009 4:27 am

Keyvan wrote:I don't agree with the whole "world is not ready" explanation ... Baha'i's bring forth a new standard, the Revelation is to cleanse mankind of primative standards of equality and bring it to the future, towards true equality. If this were the case, then the faith would be conforming to the prejudiced standards of a material society, rather than the other way around.


Yes it would be conforming, or at least adapting, to its environment. That would not be the first time. Look at "Wisdom and dissimulation: The use and meaning of Hikmat in the Bahá’í writings and history" by Susan Stiles Maneck at
http://bahai-library.com/bsr/bsr06/62_maneck_hikmat.htm

"This study examines the use of the term hikmat (lit. wisdom) within the Bahá'í community over time especially as it referred to certain survival strategies developed in situations of danger, persecution, or insecurity within a hostile environment. It will discuss the compromises these strategies entailed and the consequences these had for the religion's future development."

She compares and contrasts Bahai hikmat/wisdom and Shiah taqiyyah/dissimulation. Examples include the suspension of laws in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas (conditional upon the exercise of wisdom), the dissemination of Bahá'í writings, and Bahai pre-publication review. "A wisdom" is a temporary suspension of the full implementation of Bahai teachings, in light of circumstances, to avoid giving offence or prompting persecution, or causing division in the community.

- Baha'u'llah refers to the 'men' of the house of justice (rijal)
- Baha'u'llah and Abdu'l-Baha both say that today, women too can be rijal (gentlemen, worthies) (see my previous post for the quotes: eg: "Today the handmaidens of God are regarded as gentlemen (rijal)." and "Verily, according to Baha'u'llah, women are judged as gentlemen."
- But Abdu'l-Baha says "... in the sight of Baha, women are accounted the same as men, ...
The House of Justice, however, according to the explicit text of the Law of God, is confined to men; this for a wisdom of the Lord God's, which will erelong be made manifest as clearly as the sun at high noon. (Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, p. 79)

and in one passage Brett has quoted, he says:
"ye should now engage in matters of pure spirituality and not contend with men. 'Abdu'l-Bahá will tactfully take appropriate steps. Be assured. In the end thou wilt thyself exclaim, "This was indeed supreme wisdom!" I appeal to you to obliterate this contention between men and women...." -- at the time this was written, women were excluded from the local houses of justice, and there was "contention between men and women" (in the Bahai community) about that. Abdu'l-Baha went to America, spoke often to the Bahais about the issue of equality, and succeeded in reversing the exclusion of women, without alienating the men. And he refers to this as "wisdom." A "wisdom" becomes clear - ie it is seen that this position was adopted as a "wisdom" -- when it is abandoned. A wisdom is something like a veil that is left in place until the appropriate time comes for it to be lifted.

In another instance that Brett has quoted, Abdu'l-Baha says of America "women are still debarred from political institutions because they squabble. They are yet to have a member in the House of Representatives. Also Bahá'u'lláh hath proclaimed: "O ye men of the House of Justice." Ye need to be calm and composed, so that the work will proceed with **wisdom,** otherwise there will be such chaos that ye will leave everything and run away. "This newly born babe is traversing in one night the path that needeth a hundred years to tread."

Here the "wisdom" is described as a concession to external circumstances. He says that even in America (of that time) women had not advanced very far - the implied remainder of the argument is, "... then think of the rest of the world." When he judged the climate to be right, and the Bahais to be prepared, he did allow women to serve on Assemblies in America, but not everywhere. Women were not allowed to serve on Bahai assemblies in the Middle East until the 1950s.

From this it seems clear to me that the use of the term "rijal" in the Aqdas was intended as a "wisdom" by Baha'u'llah, for the term would make people think of males, so avoiding alarming Bahai men and conservative societies. The term was also used as a "wisdom" by Abdu'l-Baha. Later, Abdu'l-Baha partially "lifted" the wisdom, by allowing women to serve on local Houses of Justice in the West


As for the idea that a pregnant woman in the House would make ten members (eleven actually, if the Guardian or his representative was present): what's wrong with 10, or 11, or for that matter 16 (nine members, one Guardian, 6 fetuses !). They are all good numbers:

"The Lord hath ordained that in every city a House
of Justice be established wherein shall gather counsellors
to the number of Baha, and should it exceed this
number it doth not matter.
(Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 29)

Keyvan
Posts: 245
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Re: Women and equality?

Postby Keyvan » Mon May 18, 2009 9:51 am

brettz9 wrote:By the way, Keyvan, to add to my point just now, I realized your point about pregnancy, but my point was that I think it will inevitably raise the opposite idea in many people's minds regardless...I remember one talk a while back by a House member where he suggested his own idea was related to biology, and there was kind of a bit of immediate and disapproving grumbling in the audience among some... (though granted, our Writings do not explicitly rule out such an explanation, it doesn't seem to be helpful to suggest it). While your suggestion was not related to this, it may also even raise other negative connotations such as only men can be inspired to be holy (like Catholics might argue about the priesthood, for example).



Oh okay, I see what you're saying. But, I think the whole premise of women not being able to serve on the Universal House of Justice is going to throw people off anyway. So, if a critic or seeker wanted to investigate the matter further - that is, going beyond just the outset of this provision - they would be exposed to full explanations, not just one-liners, so it's unlikely they'll gather that misunderstanding. Like in giving that explanation I wouldn't just say "its because women can get pregnant" I would, and have prefaced and explained what pregnancy could mean in this situation.

Keyvan
Posts: 245
Joined: Sun Sep 25, 2005 2:58 am
Location: Los Angeles

Re: Women and equality?

Postby Keyvan » Mon May 18, 2009 10:13 am

Sen McGlinn wrote:
Keyvan wrote:I don't agree with the whole "world is not ready" explanation ... Baha'i's bring forth a new standard, the Revelation is to cleanse mankind of primative standards of equality and bring it to the future, towards true equality. If this were the case, then the faith would be conforming to the prejudiced standards of a material society, rather than the other way around.


Yes it would be conforming, or at least adapting, to its environment. That would not be the first time. Look at "Wisdom and dissimulation: The use and meaning of Hikmat in the Bahá’í writings and history" by Susan Stiles Maneck at
http://bahai-library.com/bsr/bsr06/62_maneck_hikmat.htm

"This study examines the use of the term hikmat (lit. wisdom) within the Bahá'í community over time especially as it referred to certain survival strategies developed in situations of danger, persecution, or insecurity within a hostile environment. It will discuss the compromises these strategies entailed and the consequences these had for the religion's future development."

She compares and contrasts Bahai hikmat/wisdom and Shiah taqiyyah/dissimulation. Examples include the suspension of laws in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas (conditional upon the exercise of wisdom), the dissemination of Bahá'í writings, and Bahai pre-publication review. "A wisdom" is a temporary suspension of the full implementation of Bahai teachings, in light of circumstances, to avoid giving offence or prompting persecution, or causing division in the community.

- Baha'u'llah refers to the 'men' of the house of justice (rijal)
- Baha'u'llah and Abdu'l-Baha both say that today, women too can be rijal (gentlemen, worthies) (see my previous post for the quotes: eg: "Today the handmaidens of God are regarded as gentlemen (rijal)." and "Verily, according to Baha'u'llah, women are judged as gentlemen."
- But Abdu'l-Baha says "... in the sight of Baha, women are accounted the same as men, ...
The House of Justice, however, according to the explicit text of the Law of God, is confined to men; this for a wisdom of the Lord God's, which will erelong be made manifest as clearly as the sun at high noon. (Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, p. 79)

and in one passage Brett has quoted, he says:
"ye should now engage in matters of pure spirituality and not contend with men. 'Abdu'l-Bahá will tactfully take appropriate steps. Be assured. In the end thou wilt thyself exclaim, "This was indeed supreme wisdom!" I appeal to you to obliterate this contention between men and women...." -- at the time this was written, women were excluded from the local houses of justice, and there was "contention between men and women" (in the Bahai community) about that. Abdu'l-Baha went to America, spoke often to the Bahais about the issue of equality, and succeeded in reversing the exclusion of women, without alienating the men. And he refers to this as "wisdom." A "wisdom" becomes clear - ie it is seen that this position was adopted as a "wisdom" -- when it is abandoned. A wisdom is something like a veil that is left in place until the appropriate time comes for it to be lifted.

In another instance that Brett has quoted, Abdu'l-Baha says of America "women are still debarred from political institutions because they squabble. They are yet to have a member in the House of Representatives. Also Bahá'u'lláh hath proclaimed: "O ye men of the House of Justice." Ye need to be calm and composed, so that the work will proceed with **wisdom,** otherwise there will be such chaos that ye will leave everything and run away. "This newly born babe is traversing in one night the path that needeth a hundred years to tread."

Here the "wisdom" is described as a concession to external circumstances. He says that even in America (of that time) women had not advanced very far - the implied remainder of the argument is, "... then think of the rest of the world." When he judged the climate to be right, and the Bahais to be prepared, he did allow women to serve on Assemblies in America, but not everywhere. Women were not allowed to serve on Bahai assemblies in the Middle East until the 1950s.

From this it seems clear to me that the use of the term "rijal" in the Aqdas was intended as a "wisdom" by Baha'u'llah, for the term would make people think of males, so avoiding alarming Bahai men and conservative societies. The term was also used as a "wisdom" by Abdu'l-Baha. Later, Abdu'l-Baha partially "lifted" the wisdom, by allowing women to serve on local Houses of Justice in the West


As for the idea that a pregnant woman in the House would make ten members (eleven actually, if the Guardian or his representative was present): what's wrong with 10, or 11, or for that matter 16 (nine members, one Guardian, 6 fetuses !). They are all good numbers:

"The Lord hath ordained that in every city a House
of Justice be established wherein shall gather counsellors
to the number of Baha, and should it exceed this
number it doth not matter.
(Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 29)



Well to reiterate, if you are proposing this explanation as to why women cannot be on the Universal House of Justice, you are logically proposing that in effect, this is a restriction, not a mechanical necessity.

I understand what you are saying but the difference is, in the past there was an adding on of restrictions/limitations by the law over time, not a loosening of them. Especially for something like this, where its peoples prejudices that would be indulged.

On pregnancy, I still don't think you understand what I'm saying. I'm saying that the mechanical process of Divine Inspiration is one that has not yet clearly been put into a science - though we know there is a science to it, in which more will be understood over time (we know it is in the domain of science yet we have not applied method so to further our understandings). We do know the fields of Neuroscience and Quantum Physics will lead to greater scientific understandings about this process. Even for the most novice student of these fields, one can gather some brain droppings of how some such theories can be applied, such as how energy communicates between common genders, and the transmission of thought inter-dimensionally.

Given this, we cannot exclude the fact that the right "recipe" to achieving this instrument is 9 elected men together (or 8 elected men 1 Guardian). And that in their chambers it must be that. And they must say the same prayer every time they meet, and this recipe is what allows Divine Guidance to flow, and that anything else would be like throwing a monkey-wrench in the gears of this machine.

It could be that they all need to be the same gender to achieve this, either all men or all women, and it just so happens to be all men, but it could have worked with all women too.

It could also be as I said, that a pregnant woman may bring 10+ souls (souls matter, not that they are fetuses or not) into the chambers of the Universal House of Justice.

The bottom line is, we just don't know the science of this yet. One day we will. Until that time we can logically conclude, as I laid out in my first post, that this is a mechanical "mystic" reason, and has nothing to do with social or political standards or preferences of society or of the Author.

Keyvan
Posts: 245
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Location: Los Angeles

Re: Women and equality?

Postby Keyvan » Tue May 19, 2009 11:02 am

btw about my comment on "checks and balances" I didn't mean it in that sense, I'm just trying to evoke that this clearly shouldn't carry the concerns of a "male dominated system" since women are the electors though not the electees of this Institution. That is, since women are the majority, proportionally (in theory) they are the majority voters. Thus if they wanted to (though this would never practically happen) vote by bloc for their female interests. I'm saying this for the cynics, since they would know that in a patriarchal democracy women aren't given the right to vote for this very reason - thus this is not a patriarchal democracy, and thus there is no chauvinistic reason for women not to be on the Universal House of Justice, and thus this reasoning lies in mystic/mechanical concerns, and in NO way suggests that women are not intellectually or emotionally capable of leadership.


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