Re: Question on UHJ ?

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Posted by Brett Zamir ( on July 14, 2002 at 15:16:24:

In Reply to: Question on UHJ ? posted by Susan Bird on July 14, 2002 at 02:51:30:

Baha'u'llah refers to the "Men of the House of Justice" which 'Abdu'l-Baha has indicated is to be strictly interpreted as males only.

"As regards the constitution of the House of Justice, Bahá'u'lláh addresses the men. He says: `O ye men of the House of Justice!'

"But when its members are to be elected, the right which belongs to women, so far as their voting and their voice is concerned, is indisputable. When the women attain to the ultimate degree of progress, then, according to the exigency of the time and place and their great capacity, they shall obtain extraordinary privileges. Be ye confident on these accounts." (Paris Talks, within pp. 182-184, quoted on-line at )

There is also the following:

"Know thou, O handmaid, that in the sight of Bahá, women are accounted the same as men, and God hath created all humankind in His own image, and after His own likeness. That is, men and women alike are the revealers of His names and attributes, and from the spiritual viewpoint there is no difference between them. Whosoever draweth nearer to God, that one is the most favoured, whether man or woman. How many a handmaid, ardent and devoted, hath, within the sheltering shade of Bahá, proved superior to the men, and surpassed the famous of the earth.

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-Bahá, rev. ed., (Haifa: Bahá'í World Centre, 1982), sec. 38, pp. 79-80, quoted on-line at )

And again:

"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)

Though it is here stated as a mystery (and an act of faith), the end of excerpt 11 at might, in my opinion, be interpreted to mean that one of the reasons for excluding women from the Universal House of Justice was for progressively accustoming humanity to this challenging principle of full equality. This latter inference is only my own speculation, however.

The following reference to "function" does not seem to necessarily indicate this distinction is due to an inherent difference of roles (though it might), but may confirm the idea of it being of expedience given the age in which we are living:

"As regards the membership of the International House of Justice, Abdu'l-Baha states in a Tablet that it is confined to men, and that the wisdom of it will be revealed as manifest as the sun in the future. In any case the believers should know that, as Abdu'l-Baha Himself has explicitly stated that sexes are equal except in some cases, the exclusion of women from the International House of Justice should not be surprising. From the fact that there is no equality of functions between the sexes one should not, however, infer that either sex is inherently superior or inferior to the other, or that they are unequal in their
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual
believer, July 28, 1936: Women, A Compilation, p. 9)

Excerpt 11 at mentioned above, as well as many others, indicate the great importance of confining our concerns to educational matters above administrative ones. Women are particularly exhorted to do so, not to keep them out of administration (in which they do fully participate at all other levels), nor to say that the same need does not apply to men, but given the futility of political involvement (including the Baha'i equivalent of a futility of anyone aspiring to administrative posts), to demonstrate the equality of women with men by their mastery of proofs and spreading of the divine teachings as Tahirih attained (and as training institutes now call us all to do):

"Ponder ye: in this wonderful Cause numerous were the men who scaled the heights of knowledge; they had a brilliant utterance, a convincing proof, an eloquent tongue and magnificent speech, but the blessed leaf, Jinab-i-Táhirih, because she was a woman, emerged with immense splendour and dumbfounded all the people. If she were a man, this would not have been so at all. Therefore, ye should know that the greatness of the Cause hath penetrated the nerves and veins of the world in such wise that if one of the leaves is attracted and gains mastery in demonstrating reasons and proofs and in uttering convincing evidences, she will shine resplendently." ('Abdu'l-Baha, Women compilation, quoted on-line at )

There are numerous other quotations on this need, both for men and women together, and for women especially.

We should remember that from 'Abdu'l-Baha to Shoghi Effendi to the Hands of the Cause of God, it was not administrative positions to which they aspired and wished others to aspire, but to teaching the Cause of God. Although it is quite a reasonable question you have raised, an excessive preoccupation with this topic as some have engaged themselves, is not fruitful. I believe that until we--both men and women--reorient our thinking and faith to the preeminence of this task of teaching (over administration) and appreciate the role it plays in truly reforming society (see Some Answered Questions, chapter 77 at , for example), I think we will not realize our aims or attain a higher station:

"The true spiritual station of any soul is known only to God. It is quite a different thing from the ranks and stations that men and women occupy in the various sectors of society. Whoever has his eyes fixed on the goal of attaining the good pleasure of God will accept with joy and radiant acquiescence whatever work or station is assigned to him in the Cause of God, and will rejoice to serve Him under all conditions."
(Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 327)

best wishes,

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