Equality Of Men & Women – Part 5

1) Is the “Equality of Men and Women” a novel principle?
Both feminist and women’s rights movements had been lobbying for equal rights for women years before the advent of Baha’is and Bahā’u’llāh.

 
2) Did the leaders of Baha’ism act upon this principle?
Bahā’u’llāh and Abdu’l-Bahā’s laws about inheritance, dowry, polygamy, pilgrimage, membership of the UHJ . . . are only a few of samples that show Baha’i leaders did not practice what they preached.

 
3) Is this principle rational and logical?
If ‘equality’ means men and women have completely equal rights and duties, then this principle is not rational, for these two sexes have great psychological and physical differences which necessitate different rights and laws. But if equality means men and women should have rights proportional to their specific traits, then Baha’ism has brought forth nothing new, and all Abrahamic religions had already established such practice.

 

Courtesy: Twelve Principles – A Comprehensive Investigation on the Bahai Teachings

Contradictions Part 4 – Equality Of Men & Women

Q12. Did `Abdu’l-Bahā Say Men Can Only Have One Wife?

`Abdu’l-Bahā: Men cannot have two wives.

“It is not permissible for a man to have more than one wife,”

Reference: Bahā’u’llāh, The Kitābi Aqdas, p. 206.

`Abdu’l-Bahā: Whoever claims I have said men cannot have two wives is a liar.

“Concerning polygamy, this has been decreed and will not be abrogated. `Abdu’l-Bahā has not abrogated this law and [accusation of abrogation] is a lie [made up] by the friends. What I said is that He has made polygamy bound on the precondition of justice . . . Such false accusations (meaning charges that `Abdu’l-Bahā prohibited bigamy) are the whisperings of those who wish to induce doubts and [see] how much they are making matters ambiguous. The purpose was to state that polygamy without justice is not allowed and that justice is very difficult [to achieve].”

 

Q13. Equality of Rights or Having No Right to Be a Member of the Universal House of Justice?

`Abdu’l-Bahā: There is absolutely no distinction between the rights of men and women.

“Taking a second wife is made dependent upon equity and justice being upheld between the two wives, under all conditions.”

Reference: `Abd al-Ḥamīd Ishrāq Khāwarī, Payām-i malakūt, p. 232.

`Abdu’l-Bahā and Bahā’u’llāh: Women cannot be a member of the Universal House of Justice.

`Abd al-Ḥamīd Ishrāq Khāwarī, Ganjīniy-i ḥudūd wa aḥkām, chap. 27, p. 219.

 

Q14. Equality of Rights or Distinction between Villagers and City-Dwellers?

`Abdu’l-Bahā: For justice to be served all must have equal rights.

“Justice implies that the rights of humankind be protected and preserved and all have equal rights,”

Reference: `Abd al-Ḥamīd Ishrāq Khāwarī, Payām-i malakūt, p. 30.

Bahā’u’llāh: Villagers have a dowry of silver and city-dwellers have a dowry of gold.

“No marriage may be contracted without payment of a dowry, which hath been fixed for city-dwellers at nineteen mithqāls of pure gold, and for village-dwellers at the same amount in silver. Whoso wisheth to increase this sum, it is forbidden him to exceed the limit of ninety-five mithqāls. Thus hath the command been writ in majesty and power,”

Reference: Bahā’u’llāh, The Kitābi Aqdas, pp. 207–208.

 

Q15. Is God’s Grace for All?

`Abdu’l-Bahā: We are all divine sheep and God has made no distinction between us.

“All humans are divine sheep and God is the kind shepherd who has utter compassion towards all the sheep and has made no distinction [between them],”

Reference: `Abdu’l-Bahā, Makātīb, vol. 3, p. 67.

God has made no distinction in any grace or mercy.

“The God of the world created all [humans] from clay and created everyone from one element, created all from one progeny, created all in one land, and created [all] under the shadow of one sky, has created them with common emotions, and did not put any differences. He created everyone the same and gives all sustenance, nurtures all, protects all, and is kind to all. He has put no differences in any grace or mercy,”

Reference:`Abd al-Ḥamīd Ishrāq Khāwarī, Payām-i malakūt, p. 42.

`Abdu’l-Bahā: Some women have no share from God’s grace.

“Women are of two kinds. One kind are worldly who have no share from your Lord’s graces. And the other kind are spiritual who are like the pulse of an artery,”

Reference: Riyāḍ Qadīmī, Gulzār-i ta`ālim Bahā’ī, p. 284.

 

Q16. Why Did Bahā’u’llāh Have Three Wives?

Shoghi: He was following Islamic law.

“Bahā’u’llāh had no concubine, He had three legal wives. As He married them before the “Aqdas” (His book of laws) was revealed, He was only acting according to the laws of Islām, which had not yet been superseded. He made plurality of wives conditional upon justice; ‘Abdu’l-Bahā interpreted this to mean that a man may not have more than one wife at a time, as it is impossible to be just to two or more women in marriage (11 February 1944 to an individual believer).”

Shoghi: Ṭāhirih adopted the Bāb’s laws and openly denounced polygamy!

“She began to correspond with the Bāb and soon espoused all his ideas. She did not content herself with a passive sympathy but confessed openly the faith of her Master. She denounced not only polygamy but the use of the veil and showed her face uncovered in public to the great amazement and scandal of her family and of all the sincere Mussulmans but to the applause of many other fellow citizens who shared her enthusiasm and whose numbers grew as a result of her preaching,”

Reference: Nabīl Zarandī, The Dawn-Breakers: Nabīl’s Narrative of the Early Days of the Bahā’ī Revelation, p. 270 (footnote).

Note: Bahā’u’llāh married his second and third wives when he was a Bābī not Muslim!

Courtesy: Twelve Principles – A Comprehensive Investigation on the Bahai Teachings

Contradictions Part 3 – Equality Of Men & Women

Q7. Men and Women Have Equal Rights but Women Have No Share in Their Father’s Living Residence

`Abdu’l-Bahā: There must be complete equality between men and women.

“The salvation of the human world will not become complete unless there is complete equality between women and men,”

Reference: `Abdu’l-Bahā, Khaṭābāt (Tehran), vol. 2, p. 150.

Bahā’u’llāh: Female offspring have no share from the deceased’s living residence.

“We have assigned the residence and personal clothing of the deceased to the male, not female, offspring, nor to the other heirs,”

Reference: Bahā’u’llāh, The Kitābi Aqdas, p. 186.

 

Q8. Men and Women Must Have Equal Rights but Women Have a Smaller Share of Inheritance

`Abdu’l-Bahā: For the human world to advance, men and women must have completely equal rights.

“Not until complete equality is achieved between the rights of males and females, the human world will not make astonishing advancements,”

Reference: `Abd al-Ḥamīd Ishrāq Khāwarī, Payām-i malakūt, p.235.

Bahā’u’llāh: Mothers have a smaller share from inheritance compared with fathers as do sisters compared with brothers.

The deceased’s property are split into 2520 portions. Out of these, 1080 are for the children, 390 for the wives, fathers 330, mothers 270, brothers 210, sisters 150, teachers 90

Reference: `Abd al-Ḥamīd Ishrāq Khāwarī, Ganjīniy-i ḥudūd wa aḥkām, chap. 10, pp. 117–119

 

Q9. Men and Women Have Equal Rights except Sometimes Where Women Have No Rights at All.

`Abdu’l-Bahā: There is no distinction between the rights of men and women.

“Men and women are equal in all rights. There is no distinction whatsoever,”

Reference: `Abd al-Ḥamīd Ishrāq Khāwarī, Payām-i malakūt, p.232.

`Abdu’l-Bahā: Even if the only wealth left behind by the deceased is his living residence, the female offspring take no shares from it.

“The living residence belongs to the oldest living son, whether or not the deceased has any other wealth. The oldest living son also takes his share from the other belongings,”

Reference:`Abd al-Ḥamīd Ishrāq Khāwarī, Ganjīniy-i ḥudūd wa aḥkām, chap. 10, p. 128.

 

Q10. Polygamy, Yes or No?

Bahā’u’llāh: Men can only have two wives but I can have three.

“God hath prescribed matrimony unto you. Beware that ye take not unto yourselves more wives than two,”

Reference: Bahā’u’llāh, The Kitābi Aqdas, p. 41.

`Abdu’l-Bahā: Men cannot have two wives.

“It is not permissible for a man to have more than one wife,”

Reference: Bahā’u’llāh, The Kitābi Aqdas, p. 206.

 

11. `Abdu’l-Bahā and Justice in Polygamy

`Abdu’l-Bahā: Observing justice in polygamy is utterly impossible.

“Observance of justice and equity towards two wives is utterly impossible,”

Reference: Bahā’u’llāh, The Kitābi Aqdas, p. 206.

`Abdu’l-Bahā: Observing justice in polygamy is very hard to come by.

“The purpose was to state that polygamy without justice is not allowed and that justice is
very difficult [to achieve],”

Reference: Asad-Allāh Fāḍil Māzandarānī, Amr wa khalq, vol. 4, p. 176.

`Abdu’l-Bahā: In polygamist relations it suffices to be as just as possible.

“You asked about polygamy. According to the text of the Divine Book having two wives is lawful and legal and was never prohibited, rather it is legitimate and allowed. Do not be unhappy, but take justice into consideration so that you may be as just as possible. What has been uttered is that since justice is very difficult [to achieve], therefore peace is in having one wife. But in your case, of course you should not be unhappy.”

Reference: Asad-Allāh Fāḍil Māzandarānī, Amr wa khalq, 131B., vol. 4, p. 174.

Contradictions Part 2 – Equality Of Men & Women

Q3. Are Male and Female Plants and Animals Equal or Do They Have Distinctions?

`Abdu’l-Bahā: There is no doubt that the male is superior and stronger even in animals. Look at the peacock, the sparrow, and the pigeon.

“Although women and men share the same capacities and abilities, there is definitely no doubt that men are superior and stronger. Even in animals like pigeons, sparrows, peacocks, and other [birds] this advantage is visible,”

Reference: Maḥmūd Zaraqānī, Badā’i` al-āthār, vol. 1, p. 153.

`Abdu’l-Bahā: There is no distinction between male and female plants and animals and there is complete equality.

“The tenth principle of his Highness Bahā’u’llāh is the unity of men and women; for in the view of God men and women are equal. They are all from the human race and the descendants of Adam. Because being male or female is not specific to the human race. Plants have male and female and animals too have male and female and there is no distinction. Look at the plant kingdom. Is there any distinction between male plants and female plants? Rather there is complete equality; and in the Animal kingdom too, there is no distinction at all,”

Reference: `Abdu’l-Bahā, Khaṭābāt (Tehran), vol. 2, pp. 149–150.

`Abdu’l-Bahā: Female is important and stronger, look at the palm tree, look at the mare, look at the lioness.

“‘Abdu’l-Bahā smiled and asked: “What will you say if I prove to you that the woman is the stronger wing?” The answer came in the same bright vein: “You will earn my eternal gratitude!” at which all the company made merry. ‘Abdu’l-Bahā then continued more seriously: “The woman is indeed of the greater importance to the race. She has the greater burden and the greater work. Look at the vegetable and the animal worlds. The palm which carries the fruit is the tree most prized by the date grower. The Arab knows that for a long journey the mare has the longest wind. For her greater strength and fierceness, the lioness is more feared by the hunter than the lion.”

Reference: `Abdu’l-Bahā, `Abdu’l-Bahā in London, pp. 102–103.

 

Q4. Must We Tell Women That They Are Weaker and Inferior?

`Abdu’l-Bahā: Do not tell women that they are weaker and inferior.

“On the contrary, we must declare that her capacity is equal, even greater than man’s. This will inspire her with hope and ambition, and her susceptibilities for advancement will continually increase. She must not be told and taught that she is weaker and inferior in capacity and qualification,”

Reference: `Abdu’l-Bahā, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 76.

`Abdu’l-Bahā: He himself tells a women that men are superior and stronger.

“A woman’s question was referred to him who had asked why hasn’t God made any woman Prophets and why have all Divine Manifestations been men. He answered: “Although women and men share the same capacities and abilities, there is definitely no doubt that men are superior and stronger. Even in animals like pigeons, sparrows, peacocks, and other [birds] this advantage is visible,”

Reference: Maḥmūd Zaraqānī, Badā’i` al-āthār, vol. 1, p. 153.

 

Q5. Men and Women Are Equal in All Ranks, but Women Lack Capacity and Competency!

`Abdu’l-Bahā: Men and women are equal in all ranks.

“Men and women are both humans and the servants of one Lord. In the presence of God there is no such thing as man and woman. Whoever has a purer heart and better actions is closer to God, whether he is a man or a woman. The differences we see now are caused by differences in nurturing because women are not nurtured like men. If they are nurtured like men they will become equal in all ranks, because they are both humans and share the same ranks. God has made no distinction,”

Reference: Riyāḍ Qadīmī, Gulzār-i ta`ālim Bahā’ī, p. 283.

`Abdu’l-Bahā: Oh women, don’t be sad that your capacities and competencies are low. My father can make up for these deficiencies for he can turn the lowliest things into the most exalted creatures.

“Oh dear divine slave-maids! Do not pay attention to your [lack of] capacities and competencies. Rather, rely on the grace and kindness of the Blessed Beauty, because that everlasting beneficence will turn a shrub into a blessed tree, will turn a mirage into cool water, will turn a lost speck into the essence of existence, will turn a perishing ant into a tutor of the school of knowledge,”

Reference: `Abdu’l-Bahā, Makātīb, vol. 7, pp. 135–6.

 

Q6. Is There Distinction between Men and Women in the View of God?

`Abdu’l-Bahā: In the view of God, there is no such thing as man or woman.

“In the presence of God, there is no such thing as feminine or masculine. Whoever has better deeds and greater faith is closer to God. In the Divine world, there is no male or female. They are both the same,”

Reference: `Abdu’l-Bahā, Khaṭābāt (Tehran), vol. 2, p. 220.

Bahā’u’llāh: God considers some men as women, and some women as men.

“Today, whoever amongst the slave-maids (meaning women) succeeds in recognizing He Who is the Goal of the World, will be considered a man in the Divine Book (dar kitāb ‘ilāhī az rijāl maḥsūb),”

Reference: `Abd al-Ḥamīd Ishrāq Khāwarī, Payām-i malakūt, p. 232.

Contradictions Part 1 – Equality Of Men & Women

Bahā’u’llāh:

“Contradiction has and will not ever have a way in the sanctified realm of the Divine Manifestations.”

Reference: Bahā’u’llāh, Badī`, p. 126.

Q1. Are Men and Women Equal or Do They Have Distinctions?

`Abdu’l-Bahā: There is no distinction between men and women and there is complete equality.

“The tenth principle of his Highness Bahā’u’llāh is the unity of men and women; for in the view of God men and women are equal. They are all from the human race and the descendants of Adam. Because being male or female is not specific to the human race. Plants have male and female and animals too have male and female and there is no distinction. Look at the plant kingdom. Is there any distinction between male plants and female plants? Rather there is complete equality; and in the Animal kingdom too, there is no distinction at all,”

Reference: `Abdu’l-Bahā, Khaṭābāt (Tehran), vol. 2, pp. 149–150.

`Abdu’l-Bahā: There is no doubt that men are superior to women and stronger.

“Although women and men share the same capacities and abilities, there is definitely no doubt that men are superior and stronger,”

Reference: Maḥmūd Zaraqānī, Badā’i` al-āthār, vol. 1, p. 153.

`Abdu’l-Bahā: Women are more important and stronger.

“‘Abdu’l-Bahā smiled and asked: “What will you say if I prove to you that the woman is the stronger wing?” The answer came in the same bright vein: “You will earn my eternal gratitude!” at which all the company made merry. ‘Abdu’l-Bahā then continued more seriously: “The woman is indeed of the greater importance to the race . . .”

Reference: `Abdu’l-Bahā, `Abdu’l-Bahā in London, pp. 102–103.

 

Q2. Can the Human World Fly with Unequal Wings?

`Abdu’l-Bahā: “The human world, like birds, needs two wings. One women and the other men.”

Reference: `Abdu’l-Bahā, Khaṭābāt (Tehran), vol. 2, p. 134.

A bird will not fly unless both wings are equal.

“From the teachings of his highness Bahā’u’llāh is the unity of women and men, for the human world has two wings. One wing is men and the other wing women. The bird will not fly unless both wings are equal. If one wing is weak flight is not possible. Unless the world of women becomes equal to the world of men in attaining virtues and accomplishments, prosperity and salvation will be impossible and unfeasible,”

`Abdu’l-Bahā, Makātīb (Egypt), vol. 3, p. 107.

`Abdu’l-Bahā: The woman is the stronger wing!

“‘Abdu’l-Bahā smiled and asked: “What will you say if I prove to you that the woman is the stronger wing?” The answer came in the same bright vein: “You will earn my eternal gratitude!” at which all the company made merry. ‘Abdu’l-Bahā then continued more seriously: “The woman is indeed of the greater importance to the race . . .”

Reference: `Abdu’l-Bahā, `Abdu’l-Bahā in London, pp. 102–103.

 

 

 

Women Must Obey Men

Baha’is claim men and women are equal. On the subject of obedience, `Abdu’l-Bahā has clearly stated that women must obey their husbands:

“O Handmaids of the Self-Sustaining Lord! Exert your efforts so that you may attain the honour and privilege ordained for women. Undoubtedly the greatest glory of women is servitude at His Threshold and submissiveness at His door; it is the possession of a vigilant heart, and praise of the incomparable God; it is heartfelt love towards other handmaids and spotless chastity; it is obedience to and consideration for their husbands and the education and care of their children; and it is tranquillity, and dignity, perseverance in the remembrance of the Lord, and the utmost enkindlement and attraction.”

Reference: Helen Bassett Hornby, Lights of Guidance: A Bahā’ī Reference File, chap. XVI, no. 749.

As usual, the Universal House of Justice has tried to in vain to justify this act:

This exhortation to the utmost degree of spirituality and self-abnegation should not be read as a legal definition giving the husband absolute authority over his wife, for, in a letter written to an individual believer on 22th July 1943, the beloved Guardian’s secretary wrote on his behalf:

“The Guardian, in his remarks…about parents and children, wives and husbands’ relations in America meant that there is a tendency in that country for children to be too independent of the wishes of their parents and lacking in the respect due to them. Also wives, in some cases, have a tendency to exert an unjust degree of domination over their husbands which, of course, is not right, anymore than that the husband should unjustly dominate his wife.”

Reference: Helen Bassett Hornby, Lights of Guidance: A Bahā’ī Reference File, chap. XVI, no. 750.

Whereas `Abdu’l-Bahā strictly tells women to be obedient to their husbands, the Baha’i administration plays with words in an attempt to convince their Western audience that this is not the case. A more careful analysis of the quote shows that these words simply mean a man has authority over his wife but it is not absolute and a man dominates his wife but must not do so unjustly. Thus, women must still be obedient of their husbands and are dominated by them.

There are many similar quotes and letters in the Baha’i scripture from the UHJ which try to show the contrary, none of which change the fact that the original order from `Abdu’l-Bahā was for women to obey their husbands and not the opposite. Even though so many blatant examples of discrimination and inequality between the two sexes exist in this creed, `Abdu’l-Bahā still insists that

“Men and women are equal in all rights. There is no distinction whatsoever.”

Reference: `Abd al-Ḥamīd Ishrāq Khāwarī, Payām-i malakūt, p. 232.

 

Dowry And Virginity

If a husband finds out his wife is not a virgin he can take back the dowry even though the marriage was not conditioned on the virginity of the spouse:

“Should the husband, after the payment of the dowry, discover that the wife is not a virgin, the refund of the dowry and of the expenses incurred may be demanded.”

Reference: Bahā’u’llāh, The Kitābi Aqdas, p. 151.

So what actions can a woman take if she finds out her husband was not a virgin, if the marriage was not based on the condition of virginity?

The UHJ clearly gives the answer: Nothing!

In one of these cases you cite, for example, that of a wife who is found by her husband not to have been a virgin, the dissolution of the marriage can be demanded only “if the marriage has been conditioned on virginity”; presumably, therefore, if the wife wishes to exercise such a right in respect to the husband, she would have to include a condition as to his virginity in the marriage contract.

Reference: Memorandum by UHJ on “Monogamy, Sexual Equality, Marital Equality, and the Supreme Tribunal,” dated 27/06/1996, p. 6: http://bahai-library.com/uhj_equality_monogamy_uhj (retrieved 02/08/2014)

Courtesy: Twelve Principles – A Comprehensive Investigation on the Bahai Teachings