Posted by Stuart Gilman (220.127.116.11) on December 22, 2002 at 04:48:48:
In Reply to: Before taking in a maid or secretary posted by Stuart Gilman on December 21, 2002 at 07:10:49:
This is the disputed sentence: "And he who would take unto his service a maid may do so with propriety." Bahaullah
"unto his service" nestles quietly in a paragraph that approves two wives but recommends one, leading directly to the service of a maid, and has no other meaning possible except that the "maid" is a sexual companion, preferable to a second wife, who has no expectations of inheritance, but payment for sexual and perhaps other services. The euphemism of the word "maid" is clear when the paragraph states, HE may take unto his service...
If the intent was to say that it is acceptable to hire a maid, and the Great One wanted to ensure no misinterpretation, it would have been written as such, perhaps: "A household consisting of a single wife has, then, the right, to engage maidservants (plural)... to compensate for the absence of a plurality of wives who act as a collective of maids."
But given the subject of the paragraph and the limited clarity of the maid permission, the maid referred to is without question to be a sexual substitute for a second wife. Bahaullah's background was Muslim, and his own father could have four wives, or, if you like, four maids. Certainly, one wife cannot compensate for four maids, let alone two. Moreover, with the primary and most sacred of the principles, equality and justice, the single wife would not be asked to perform the duties of a maid, or Bahaullah himself would have had to perform the duties of a maid as well. So a clarification of the sort would have been ordained, ".. and each man shall perform the same duties as his wife, so that justice is done and equality preserved."
The maid, therefore, if only a maid, had to do the work of four maids, or three or two, which would be both impossible and unjust. Ergo, the maid referred to in this paragraph was a sexual partner and substitute for a second wife, not a maid, as in "servant".
And, further, if Bahaullah permitted maids, then he also permitted menservants, again by the sacred ordinance of justice and equality. Why is manservant omitted here? Because it is not the subject.
Finally, much is made of divorce in the Kitab-I-Aqdas. I conclude that while plurality of wives is forbidden, serial marriage (serial divorce) is ordained. So, too, would be the firing and hiring of serial maids. In sum, while appearing to us to be a rather puritanical paragraph, the quote lacks all the necessary clarifications and substantiates my simple understanding, without interpretation. Moreover, in Bahaullah's own writings, those we have been given, there are no other references to these matters. I assume that we will find no assistance in interpretation or clarification elsewhere in His own writings and decrees.
My clear and undistorted understanding of the quotation is unquestionable. Abdul Baha, to repeat, only remarks on the issue of monogamy and ignores the sentence about maid or maids. There is extensive rumour and naming of Abdul Baha's extramarital affairs, especially when he was in San Francisco for six months. He broke no Law nor vows of monogamy when having intercourse with his maid/secretary. It is written that he had many secretaries. I absolutely agree, One at a time, a sequential fidelity with both wives and maids. Nothing else makes sense both in terms of the Sacred Texts and the nature of man.
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