UHJ Question

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UHJ Question

Postby K1R4 » Mon Jul 11, 2005 12:29 pm

Given the extent to which the equality of men and women is taught in the Baha'i faith, why is it that there are no women in the Universal House of Justice?




Postby Guest » Tue Jul 12, 2005 4:13 am

Because Shoghi Effendi said so, and because Baha'is (unlike, say, Reform Jews) feel that such pronouncements from authoritative sources effectively tie their hands.

No explanation was ever offered, though lots of Baha'is speculate. If the reasons for this really will become "evident" one day, I suppose this means that reformist voices will prevail temporarily, in order that the practice can be shown to be unworkable. 8)


Postby Tony » Tue Jul 12, 2005 1:10 pm

Some Western Baha'is seem to have had difficulty with this Teaching. One I knew personally withdrew from the Faith partly on this pretext.

Perhaps there has been an easy assumption that the Baha'i principle of the equality of the sexes conforms to the variant of feminist theory in which women can "have it all".

However, that would be wrong, for the Baha'i Writings state that the mother should have primary responsibility for the upbringing of the children. If all positions in the wider world were then open to her on an exactly equal basis to her husband, then that would suggest female superiority rather than equality.

An ideology popular in the 1960s taught that the difference between the sexes was essentially environmental, but science has since seemed to confirm that sex differences are also innate and biological. I believe the Baha'i Teachings would endorse the latter view that the sexes are equal, but complementary rather than essentially identical.

The Writings say that God's Mercy exceeds His Justice, so Baha'i women might perhaps feel that they are doing God's work more by nurturing and encouraging family and friends than by serving on the Universal House of Justice.

'Abdu'l-Baha stated that the reason for women's exclusion would become as clear as the sun at noon-day. I have heard it said that the UHJ is likely to be in closed session for long periods of time, thereby inconveniencing the high proportion of women with day-to-day family commitments.

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Postby majnun » Tue Jul 12, 2005 9:15 pm

It is just a small detail Kira.


Postby Guest » Tue Jul 12, 2005 11:02 pm

I think the answer of "why" women can't be members of the UHJ is not clear “as the sun” yet. Surely the reason is not an issue of "superiority" – because men are superior to women. According to the writings, many capacities men and women share are equal; in other capacities, women are even better.

Just remember Bahíyyih Khánum, who was at the headship of the supervision of the affairs of the Cause until the return of Shoghi Effendi (from May? 1922 to December 1922).

Could it be a “symbolic thing”? Let’s take a look:

1) All Manifestations of God were men
2) All Manifestations’ Successors (also Guardianship roles) were men (Isaac, Ishmael, Joshua, Peter, the Imams, Aghsán and Guardianship, etc.)
3) The “hereditary principle” (and leadership primogeniture) is only attained to men
4) The membership of the Universal House of Justice is only for men (why? – we don’t know yet)

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Postby K1R4 » Wed Jul 13, 2005 5:08 pm

Thanks everyone :)

I get the impression that some of you may think that I'm upset about it - I'm really just curious.


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Postby Jonah » Wed Jul 13, 2005 11:21 pm

There are a number of items at this site that discuss this issue. See http://www.google.com/custom?q=women+%2 ... ibrary.com



Postby Guest » Thu Jul 14, 2005 12:34 am

It could be interesting to talk about possible reasons of this exclusion (UHJ membership).
When ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spoke about this, what He meant with “future”? What is needed to see the answer clear as the sun?

Though the authoritative writings do not disclose explicitly the reason of "why" women cannot be members of the UHJ, I put below “implausible reasons” that usually people think.

1) time available: the House’s office require much time that makes impossible an efficient service of women, as they have the role of “mothers” and first educators of child, they should stay at home.
2) menstruation: cause physical and emotional ups and downs in the character and emotions of women that could affect their judgment. (much people, specially feminist dislike this supposed “reason”, because according to this women cannot serve appropriately in any institution or role.
3) weakness of heart: women cannot take crucial decisions that could involve war and spill blood.

These quick thoughts (seems machista speculations) do not offer anything clear :shock:


Postby Tony » Thu Jul 14, 2005 12:38 pm

OK - here's another "machista speculation": that since the majority decision of the UHJ is always the Will of God, which in this Day is revealed through Baha'u'llah and His appointed successors, 'Abdu'l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi, all of whom were men, then the UHJ - their proxy, in a real sense - should also be composed of men.

And another, equally speculative (and possibly even more sexist) - could it be that the reason for women’s exclusion from the UHJ was withheld because it related to a degeneracy in religion and culture scarcely imaginable today? Baha’u’llah stated that the plight of humanity would be such that it was not meet and seemly to reveal it. Will the UHJ be forced by events to adopt a punitive approach (to certain types of offence) as uncongenial to women’s natural instincts as the front-line in a battle? The average woman inclines towards mercy, and will often seek to establish rapport, and hopefully a change of heart. However, circumstances don’t always allow that.

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Postby Hasan » Thu Jul 14, 2005 2:35 pm

I am almost sure the reason is NOT about superiority/inferiority, but rather the (symbolic) role of men in Religion's history, primogeniture, Prophethood and Guardianship, this not determine a woman can do the job, because we see the excellent role of Bahiyyih Khanum at the supervision of the Faith in 1922, and the female Hands at the Ministry of Custodians 1957-1963.

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Postby brettz9 » Fri Jul 22, 2005 7:54 am

You may be interested in the document on behalf of the Universal House of Justice at http://bahai-library.com/?file=uhj_women_uhj


Postby Guest » Sat Jul 23, 2005 8:30 pm

I remember a friend of mine asked this question directly to a UHJ member and his basic answer was "I don't know".

It's just something you've got to take on faith. I heard a theory that even though Baha'is are striving for equality of the sexes it isn't yet achieved, and many people still have prejudices - which may affect the UHJ voting system, which could lead to potential instabilities within the faith or something...

The theory is in the book "Falling into Grace" for those of you interested.

But basically, we don't know, and it's purely a matter of faith (one of very few compared to religions of the past).

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