Women in the works of the Bab and in the Babi Movement
by Moojan Momenpublished in Encyclopaedia Iranica
New York: Columbia University, 2011
The Bab elevated the status of women in his writings and confirmed this in his actions. The Babi community reflected this change in the actions of the Babi women.
(2) Women in the Babi movement.
(1) Women in the works of the Bab. Theologically, the Bab regarded God as utterly beyond the reach and knowledge of humanity and he characterised the Primal Will as the locus of the primal manifestation of the Godhead and the fashioner of the creation. This Primal Will is represented by the Maid of Heaven who descends to earth. And in describing this figure, the Bab writes: "I am the Maid of Heaven begotten by the Spirit of Baháʾ" (Qayyum al-asmáʾ, p. 52; Saeidi, pp. 152-53). Thus the Bab created a female symbol for the highest spiritual aspect of himself (see also Lawson).
In general, the Bab treats women and men equally in the laws that he gives. In a number of places, the Bab specifically ameliorates some of the burdens that Islamic law had laid upon women; and so for example, divorce is made more difficult by the imposition of a twelve-month delay (Persian Bayān 6:12), the severe restrictions on their social intercourse is relaxed (Persian Bayán 8:10), and men are ordered not to harm women (Ṣaḥifa Bayn al-Ḥaramayn, p. 82). He orders men to treat women with the utmost love (Ṣaḥifa-ye ʿAdliya, pp. 32, 38; Saeidi, p. 236). On occasions, the Bab even gives women preference over men; for example, he sets a penalty for anyone who causes grief to another person, which he equates to causing grief to God, but he says that the penalty for causing grief to women is doubled (Persian Bayān 7:18); also, having laid down the duty of pilgrimage for whoever can afford it, he exempts women from this obligation unless they live nearby, so that no hardship should come upon them on the way (Persian Bayán 4:18)....
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