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)