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TAGS: Criticism and apologetics; Equality; Gender; Gender pronouns; God, Gender of; Kalimat-i-Maknunih (Hidden Words); Transliteration
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Abstract:
Extracts from letters from the House of Justice from 1981-1999 on general principles in relation to this subject and the Bahá'í perspective on it.
Notes:
More details about this compilation are in Materials Provided by the Bahá'í World Centre on Gender in the Writings and Matters of Translation (2002). The original date of this compilation (if prior to 2002) is not given.

The Use of the Masculine Gender in the Bahá'í Writings:
Extracts from Letters Written By and on Behalf of the Universal House of Justice

compiled by Research Department of the Universal House of Justice.
2002
Intro: The following description of this compilation is provided in the cover letter accompanying it:
    "The Use of the Masculine Gender in the Bahá'í Writings", a compilation of extracts from letters written by and on behalf of the Universal House of Justice. The extracts in the compilation set out a number of general principles in relation to this subject and the Bahá'í perspective on it. We note, for example, the House of Justice indicates that:
    • "In many languages the use of the masculine gender, unless intended specifically to denote masculinity, is generic" (extract 1, see also extracts 2 and 6)
    • "The translation of the Writings of the Central Figures of the Faith must of necessity agree in full detail with the original in conveying the exact meaning of the Words as they have been revealed" (extracts 2, 8 and 9).
    • In addition, the Universal House of Justice indicates that it "does not feel it appropriate to change Shoghi Effendi's usage of certain nouns in his translations" (extract 8). Indeed, "The style of translation into English was set by Shoghi Effendi" (extract 10).
    • "... the Sacred Writings of the Faith and those of the Guardian do not use the ‘gender inclusive language' now in vogue..." (extract 7).
    • In relation to images of God, while using "conventional wording" Bahá'u'lláh "devoted vast numbers of Tablets to conveying the truth that God is not only neither male nor female, but is far above all human understanding" (extracts 8 and 10).
    • With regard to the English language, "the issue of gender-specific nouns may be resolved either by changing the usage of nouns, or by permitting the consciousness of sexual equality to modify the meaning of nouns as they are now used. No doubt both courses will be followed in the evolution of the language. It is generally considered preferable to permit the change of consciousness to change the meaning that people attribute to words, rather than to press the use of forms of words, which may seem contrived" (extract 8).
    • "The challenge ... is to accept the use of pronouns in their generic sense, which will lead one to view the matter in terms of a spiritual response, rather than one of semantics" (extracts 8 and 10).
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