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Title: A Compilaton on Women
Author: Universal House of Justice
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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A Compilaton on Women


by Research Department of the Universal House of Justice



Edition 1, (September 2006)



                           BAHA’I TERMS OF USE


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                                 CONTENTS


Baha’i Terms of Use
I. THE BAHÁ’Í CONCEPT OF EQUALITY
   Extracts From the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh
      1: O Children of Men! Know ye not why We created you all from the
      same dust?...
      2: Exalted, immensely exalted is He Who hath removed differences
      and...
      3: This Wronged One hath heard thy voice and that which thy inner
      and outer...
      4: By My Life! The names of handmaidens who are devoted to God are
      written...
      5: Verily the Pen of the Most High hath borne witness unto thy
      recognition of...
      6: We beseech God to aid all the leaves to attain the knowledge of
      the Tree and...
      7: Throughout the centuries and ages many a man hath waited
      expectant for...
   Extracts From the Writings and Utterances of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá:
      8: From the beginning of existence until the Promised Day men
      retained superiority...
      9: O handmaid of God! In this wondrous dispensation in which the
      Ancient...
      10: Render thanks to the Lord that among that race thou art the
      first...
      11: The establishment of a women’s assemblage for the promotion of
      knowledge is...
      12: Know thou, O handmaid, that in the sight of Bahá, women are
      accounted the...
      13: And among the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh is the equality of women
      and...
      14: Inasmuch as this is the century of light, it is evident that the
      Sun of...
      15: Today questions of the utmost importance are facing humanity,
      questions...
      16: The world of humanity consists of two parts: male and female.
      Each is...
      17: The status of woman in former times was exceedingly deplorable,
      for it was...
      18: Woman’s lack of progress and proficiency has been due to her
      need of equal...
      19: He establishes the equality of man and woman. This is peculiar
      to the...
      20: Women have equal rights with men upon earth; in religion and
      society they...
      21: In the world of humanity ... the female sex is treated as though
      inferior, and...
      22: Divine Justice demands that the rights of both sexes should be
      equally...
      23: In the Dispensation of Bahá’u’lláh, women are advancing side by
      side with...
      24: The woman of the East has progressed. Formerly in India, Persia
      and...
      25: The world in the past has been ruled by force, and man has
      dominated over...
   Extracts From Letters Written on Behalf of Shoghi Effendi:
      26: If presented properly the position of women in the Bahá’í
      teachings will...
      27: As regards your question concerning the membership of the
      Universal House...
      28: As regards the membership of the International House of
      Justice,...
   Extracts From Letters Written by the Universal House of Justice:
      29: It is apparent from the Guardian’s writings that where
      Bahá’u’lláh...
      30: Concerning your questions about the equality of men and women,
      this, as...
      31: The primary question to be resolved is how the present world,
      with its...
   From Letters Written on Behalf of the Universal House of Justice
      32: To the general premise that women and men have equality in the
      Faith,...
      33: ...‘Abdu’l-Bahá asserts: “In this divine age the bounties of God
      have...
      34: You are quite right in stating that men and women have basic and
      distinct...
      35: It may be helpful to stress ... that the Bahá’í principle of
      the...
II. THE ROLE OF EDUCATION IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF WOMEN
   Extracts From the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh:
      36: It is the bounden duty of parents to rear their children to be
      staunch in...
   Extracts From the Writings and Utterances of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá:
      37: Praised be God, the women believers have organized meetings
      where they will...
      38: Work ye for the guidance of the women in that land, teach the
      young girls and...
      39: ...it is incumbent upon the father and mother to train their
      children both in...
      40: ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s supreme joy is in observing that a number of
      leaves from among...
      41: ...Thou hast written about the girls’ school. What was
      previously written...
      42: ...it is incumbent upon the girls of this glorious era to be
      fully versed in...
      43: Furthermore, the education of woman is more necessary and
      important than...
      44: In proclaiming the oneness of mankind He taught that men and
      women are...
      45: Why should a woman be left mentally undeveloped? Science is
      praiseworthy—...
      46: Bahá’u’lláh has announced that inasmuch as ignorance and lack
      of...
      47: The education of each child is compulsory.... In addition to
      this widespread...
      48: Devote ye particular attention to the school for girls, for the
      greatness...
      49: Our hearts rejoiced at thy letter concerning a school for
      girls....
   Extract From a Letter Written by the Universal House of Justice
      50: The cause of universal education, which has already enlisted in
      its...
   Extracts From Letters Written on Behalf of the Universal House of
   Justice:
      51: A very important element in the attainment of such equality is
      Bahá’u’lláh’s...
      52: The House of Justice regards the need to educate and guide women
      in their...
III. APPLICATION OF THE PRINCIPLE OF EQUALITY TO FAMILY LIFE
   Extracts From the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh:
      53: Steadfastness in the Cause is mentioned in the Tablets and set
      forth by...
      54: All should know, and in this regard attain the splendours of the
      sun of...
   Extracts From the Writings and Utterances of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá:
      55: The Lord, peerless is He, hath made woman and man to abide with
      each other...
      56: ...following the precepts of God and the holy Law, suckle your
      children from...
      57: ...it is enjoined upon the father and mother, as a duty, to
      strive with all...
      58: O ye loving mothers, know ye that in God’s sight, the best of
      all ways to...
      59: Note ye how easily, where unity existeth in a given family, the
      affairs of...
      60: You have asked whether a husband would be able to prevent his
      wife from...
      61: Question: What is the attitude of your belief toward the
      family?...
   Extracts From letters written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to individual
   believers unless otherwise cited
      62: When such difference of opinion and belief occurs between
      husband and wife it...
      63: Shoghi Effendi trusts that as a result of his cable and this
      letter your...
      64: The Guardian, in his remarks ... about parents’ and children’s,
      wives’ and...
      65: It is one of the essential teachings of the Faith that unity
      should be...
      66: The Guardian fully appreciates your desire to go forth as a
      pioneer at...
      67: Wherever there is a Bahá’í family, those concerned should by all
      means...
   Extracts From letters Written on Behalf of the Universal House of
   Justice to individual believers unless otherwise cited
      68: That the first teacher of the child is the mother should not be
      startling,...
      69: In considering the problems that you and your wife are
      experiencing, the...
      70: Noting that you and your husband have consulted about your
      family problems...
      71: The members of a family all have duties and responsibilities
      towards one...
      72: You have asked, however, for specific rules of conduct to govern
      the...
      73: You ask about the admonition that everyone must work, and want
      to know if...
      74: With regard to your question whether mothers should work outside
      the home,...
      75: The great importance attached to the mother’s role derives from
      the fact...
IV. WOMEN IN THE WORLD AT LARGE
   Extract From the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh
      76: It is enjoined upon every one of you to engage in some form of
      occupation,...
   Extracts From the Writings and Utterances of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá:
      77: The handmaidens of God and the bondsmaids in His divine Court
      should...
      78: Until the reality of equality between man and woman is fully
      established and...
      79: ...the principle of religion has been revealed by Bahá’u’lláh
      that woman...
      80: Again, it is well established in history that where woman has
      not...
      81: Question: Is it not a fact that universal peace cannot be
      accomplished...
      82: When all mankind shall receive the same opportunity of education
      and the...
      84: Woman must especially devote her energies and abilities toward
      the industrial...
      85: Therefore, strive to show in the human world that women are most
      capable...
      86: ...imbued with the same virtues as man, rising through all the
      degrees of human...
      87: According to the spirit of this age, women must advance and
      fulfill their...
      88: ...The woman is indeed of the greater importance to the race.
      She has the...
      89: Concerning Bahá’í representation at the All-Asian Women’s
      Conference: this...
      90: What ‘Abdu’l-Bahá meant about the women arising for peace is
      that this is a...
   Extract From a Letter Written by the Universal House of Justice
      91: The emancipation of women, the achievement of full equality
      between the...
   Extracts From Letters Written on Behalf of the Universal House of
   Justice:
      92: ...there is a much wider sphere of relationships between men and
      women than in...
      93: The duty of women in being the first educators of mankind is
      clearly set...
V. FOSTERING THE DEVELOPMENT OF WOMEN
   Extracts From the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh:
      94: In this Day the Blessed Tree of Remembrance speaketh forth in
      the Kingdom...
      95: We beseech the True One to adorn His handmaidens with the
      ornament of...
   Extracts From the Writings and Utterances of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá:
      96: The effulgence of the rays of the Sun of Truth is abundant and
      the favours...
      97: In this great Cycle and wondrous Dispensation some women have
      been raised...
      98: Confirmations from the kingdom of God will assuredly be
      received, enabling...
      99: In this wondrous Dispensation the favours of the Glorious Lord
      are vouchsafed...
      100: Blessed, blessed are ye for ye have arranged spiritual meetings
      and...
      101: In this day the duty of everyone, whether man or woman, is to
      teach the Cause....
      102: Now is the time to speak forth and to deliver speeches, the
      time to teach...
      103: O handmaid of God!... To the mothers must be given the divine
      Teachings...
      104: ...we must not make distinctions between individual members of
      the human...
      105: In brief, the assumption of superiority by man will continue to
      be depressing...
      106: The purpose, in brief, is this: that if woman be fully educated
      and...
      107: The realities of things have been revealed in this radiant
      century, and...
      108: Equality of the sexes will be established in proportion to the
      increased...
      109: Woman must endeavour then to attain greater perfection, to be
      man’s equal...
   Extracts From Letters Written by Shoghi Effendi:
      110: Regarding the position of the Bahá’í women in India and Burma,
      and their...
      111: Full rights have been accorded to Bahá’í women residing in the
      cradle of the...
      113: That the members of this community, of either sex and of every
      age, of...
      Extracts From Letters and a Telex Written by the Universal House of
      Justice:
      114: ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has pointed out that “Among the miracles which
      distinguish...
      115: PARTICULARLY CALL UPON BAHÁ’Í WOMEN, WHOSE CAPACITIES IN MANY
      LANDS STILL...
      116: The youth have long been in the forefront of the teaching work,
      and now our...
      117: At the heart of all activities, the spiritual, intellectual and
      community...
      118: The equality of men and women is not, at the present time,
      universally applied....
      119: Calling upon local and national Bahá’í communities to sponsor a
      wide...
   Extracts From Letters Written on Behalf of the Universal House of
   Justice:
      120: The House of Justice regards the need to educate and guide
      women in their...
      121: The principle of the equality between women and men, like the
      other...
VI. BIBLIOGRAPHY
   BIBLIOGRAPHY



I. THE BAHÁ’Í CONCEPT OF EQUALITY



Extracts From the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh



1: O Children of Men! Know ye not why We created you all from the same
dust?...


O Children of Men! Know ye not why We created you all from the same dust?
That no one should exalt himself over the other. Ponder at all times in
your hearts how ye were created. Since We have created you all from one
same substance it is incumbent on you to be even as one soul, to walk with
the same feet, eat with the same mouth and dwell in the same land, that
from your inmost being, by your deeds and actions, the signs of oneness
and the essence of detachment may be made manifest. Such is My counsel to
you, O concourse of light! Heed ye this counsel that ye may obtain the
fruit of holiness from the tree of wondrous glory.

(“The Hidden Words of Bahá’u’lláh”, Arabic no. 68, rev. ed. (Wilmette:
Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1985), p. 20) [1]



2: Exalted, immensely exalted is He Who hath removed differences and...


Exalted, immensely exalted is He Who hath removed differences and
established harmony. Glorified, infinitely glorified is He Who hath caused
discord to cease, and decreed solidarity and unity. Praised be God, the
Pen of the Most High hath lifted distinctions from between His servants
and handmaidens, and, through His consummate favours and all-encompassing
mercy, hath conferred upon all a station and rank of the same plane. He
hath broken the back of vain imaginings with the sword of utterance and
hath obliterated the perils of idle fancies through the pervasive power of
His might.

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian) [2]



3: This Wronged One hath heard thy voice and that which thy inner and
outer...


This Wronged One hath heard thy voice and that which thy inner and outer
tongue hath uttered in praise of thy Lord. By the righteousness of God!
That which the people possess, and the treasures of the earth, and that
which the rulers and kings own, are not equal in this day to the singing
of His praise. The Lord of the Kingdom beareth witness unto this at this
glorious moment. And having heard thy groaning and lamentation, We are
responding with a Tablet which calleth out betwixt earth and heaven and
maketh mention of thee with words that immortalize what hath appeared from
thee in His love, in His service, in His remembrance and in His praise.
And He hath made that which hath issued forth from thy mouth a trust with
Him for thee. He is verily the Most Bounteous, the Most Generous. If thou
truly givest ear to that which hath been revealed for thee from My Supreme
Pen at this moment, thou shalt soar with the wings of eagerness in the
heaven of love for the Lord of the Day of the Covenant, and wilt say
during all the days of thy life: Thanks be unto Thee, O Thou the Desire of
the world, and praise be unto Thee, O Thou the Beloved of the people of
understanding. May all existence be a sacrifice for Thy favour, and all
that hath been and will ever be, a ransom for Thy Word, O Thou the Wronged
One amongst the people of enmity, O Thou in Whose grasp are the reins of
all who are in heaven and on earth....

In this Day the Hand of divine grace hath removed all distinctions. The
servants of God and His handmaidens are regarded on the same plane.
Blessed is the servant who hath attained unto that which God hath decreed,
and likewise the leaf moving in accordance with the breezes of His will.
This favour is great and this station lofty. His bounties and bestowals
are ever present and manifest. Who is able to offer befitting gratitude
for His successive bestowals and continuous favours?

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian and Arabic) [3]



4: By My Life! The names of handmaidens who are devoted to God are
written...


By My Life! The names of handmaidens who are devoted to God are written
and set down by the Pen of the Most High in the Crimson Book. They excel
over men in the sight of God. How numerous are the heroes and knights in
the field who are bereft of the True One and have no share in His
recognition, but thou hast attained and received thy fill.

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian) [4]



5: Verily the Pen of the Most High hath borne witness unto thy recognition
of...


Verily the Pen of the Most High hath borne witness unto thy recognition of
Him, thy love for Him and thy turning towards the Ancient Countenance at a
time when the world hath rejected Him, save those whom God, the Most High,
hath willed....

Well is it with thee for having adorned thyself with the ornament of the
love of God and for having been enabled to make mention of Him and utter
His praise. Divine grace, in its entirety, is in the mighty grasp of God,
exalted be He. He conferreth it upon whomsoever He willeth. How many a man
considered himself a celebrated divine and a repository of heavenly
mysteries, and yet when the slightest test visited him, he arose with such
opposition and denial as to cause the Concourse on high to moan and
lament. Through the bestowals of the Lord, however, and His infinite
favour, thou hast attained unto the hidden secret and the well-guarded
treasure. Preserve then, in the name of God, this lofty station and
conceal it from the eyes of betrayers. The glory shining from the horizon
of My Kingdom be upon thee and upon every handmaiden who hath attained the
splendours of My sublime Throne.

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian and Arabic) [5]



6: We beseech God to aid all the leaves to attain the knowledge of the
Tree and...


We beseech God to aid all the leaves to attain the knowledge of the Tree
and deprive them not of the ocean of His generosity. In this day no regard
is paid to loftiness or lowliness, to poverty or wealth, to nobility and
lineage, to weakness or might. Whosoever recognizeth the incomparable
Beloved is the possessor of true wealth and occupieth a divine station.
Today, in the court of the True One, the queen of the world and her like
are not worth a mustard seed, because although she may speak in the name
of God, invoke the Lord of creation every day in the temple of her body,
and spend large sums of earthly wealth for the development of her nation,
she is deprived of recognition of the Sun of His Manifestation and is
barred from the True One in Whose remembrance she is engaged....

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian and Arabic) [6]



7: Throughout the centuries and ages many a man hath waited expectant
for...


Throughout the centuries and ages many a man hath waited expectant for
God’s Revelation, and yet when the Light shone forth from the horizon of
the world, all but a few turned their faces away from it. Whosoever from
amongst the handmaidens hath recognized the Lord of all Names is recorded
in the Book as one of those men by the Pen of the Most High. Offer thou
praise to the Beloved of the world for having aided thee to recognize the
Dayspring of His Signs and the Revealer of the evidences of His Glory.
This is a great bounty, a bounteous favour. Preserve it in the name of the
True One....

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian and Arabic) [7]



Extracts From the Writings and Utterances of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá:



8: From the beginning of existence until the Promised Day men retained
superiority...


From the beginning of existence until the Promised Day men retained
superiority over women in every respect. It is revealed in the Qur’án:
“Men have superiority over women.” But in this wondrous Dispensation, the
supreme outpouring of the Glorious Lord became the cause of manifest
achievements by women. Some handmaidens arose who excelled men in the
arena of knowledge. They arose with such love and spirituality that they
became the cause of the outpouring of the bounty of the Sovereign Lord
upon mankind, and with their sanctity, purity and attributes of the spirit
led a great many to the shore of unity. They became a guiding torch to the
wanderers in the wastes of bewilderment, and enkindled the despondent in
the nether world with the flame of the love of the Lord. This is a
bounteous characteristic of this wondrous Age which hath granted strength
to the weaker sex and hath bestowed masculine might upon womanhood....

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian) [8]



9: O handmaid of God! In this wondrous dispensation in which the
Ancient...


O handmaid of God! In this wondrous dispensation in which the Ancient
Beauty and the Manifest Light—may my spirit be sacrificed for His loved
ones—hath risen from the horizon of age-old hopes, women have assumed the
attributes of men in showing forth steadfastness in the Cause of God, and
revealing the heroism and might of fearless men. They invaded the arena of
mystic knowledge and hoisted aloft the banner on the heights of certitude.
Thou, too, must make a mighty effort and show forth supreme courage. Exert
thyself and taste of the sweetness of a heavenly draught, for the sweet
taste of the love of God will linger on to the end that hath no end.

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian) [9]



10: Render thanks to the Lord that among that race thou art the first...


Render thanks to the Lord that among that race thou art the first
believer,(1) that thou hast engaged in spreading sweet-scented breezes,
and hast arisen to guide others. It is my hope that through the bounties
and favours of the Abhá Beauty thy countenance may be illumined, thy
disposition pleasing, and thy fragrance diffused, that thine eyes may be
seeing, thine ears attentive, thy tongue eloquent, thy heart filled with
supreme glad-tidings, and thy soul refreshed by divine fragrances, so that
thou mayest arise among that race and occupy thyself with the edification
of the people, and become filled with light. Although the pupil of the eye
is black, it is the source of light. Thou shalt likewise be. The
disposition should be bright, not the appearance. Therefore, with supreme
confidence and certitude, say: “O God! Make me a radiant light, a shining
lamp, and a brilliant star, so that I may illumine the hearts with an
effulgent ray from Thy Kingdom of Abhá....”

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian) [10]



11: The establishment of a women’s assemblage for the promotion of
knowledge is...


The establishment of a women’s assemblage for the promotion of knowledge
is entirely acceptable, but discussions must be confined to educational
matters. It should be done in such a way that differences will, day by
day, be entirely wiped out, not that, God forbid, it will end in
argumentation between men and women. As in the question of the veil,
nothing should be done contrary to wisdom. The individual women should,
today, follow a course of action which will be the cause of eternal glory
to all womankind, so that all women will be illumined. And that lieth in
gathering to learn how to teach, in holding meetings to recite the verses,
to offer supplications to the kingdom of the Lord of evident signs, and to
institute education for the girls. Ponder the manner in which
Jináb-i-Táhirih used to teach. She was free from every concern, and for
this reason she was resplendent.

Now the world of women should be a spiritual world, not a political one,
so that it will be radiant. The women of other nations are all immersed in
political matters. Of what benefit is this, and what fruit doth it yield?
To the extent that ye can, ye should busy yourselves with spiritual
matters which will be conducive to the exaltation of the Word of God and
of the diffusion of His fragrances. Your demeanour should lead to harmony
amongst all and to coalescence and the good-pleasure of all....

I am endeavouring, with Bahá’u’lláh’s confirmations and assistance, so to
improve the world of the handmaidens that all will be astonished. This
progress is intended to be in spirituality, in virtues, in human
perfections and in divine knowledge. In America, the cradle of women’s
liberation, women are still debarred from political institutions because
they squabble. They are yet to have a member in the House of
Representatives. Also Bahá’u’lláh hath proclaimed: “O ye men of the House
of Justice.” Ye need to be calm and composed, so that the work will
proceed with wisdom, otherwise there will be such chaos that ye will leave
everything and run away. “This newly born babe is traversing in one night
the path that needeth a hundred years to tread.” In brief, ye should now
engage in matters of pure spirituality and not contend with men.
‘Abdu’l-Baha will tactfully take appropriate steps. Be assured. In the end
thou wilt thyself exclaim, “This was indeed supreme wisdom!” I appeal to
you to obliterate this contention between men and women....

No one can on his own achieve anything. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá must be well pleased
and assist.

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian) [11]



12: Know thou, O handmaid, that in the sight of Bahá, women are accounted
the...


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;(2) this for a wisdom of the Lord God’s, which
will ere long 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) [12]



13: And among the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh is the equality of women and...


And among the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh is the equality of women and men.
The world of humanity has two wings—one is women and the other men. Not
until both wings are equally developed can the bird fly. Should one wing
remain weak, flight is impossible. Not until the world of women becomes
equal to the world of men in the acquisition of virtues and perfections,
can success and prosperity be attained as they ought to be.

(“Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá”, sec. 227, p. 302) [13]



14: Inasmuch as this is the century of light, it is evident that the Sun
of...


Inasmuch as this is the century of light, it is evident that the Sun of
Reality, the Word, has revealed itself to all humankind. One of the
potentialities hidden in the realm of humanity was the capability or
capacity of womanhood. Through the effulgent rays of divine illumination
the capacity of woman has become so awakened and manifest in this age that
equality of man and woman is an established fact....

...

In this day man must investigate reality impartially and without prejudice
in order to reach the true knowledge and conclusions. What, then,
constitutes the inequality between man and woman? Both are human. In
powers and function each is the complement of the other. At most it is
this: that woman has been denied the opportunities which man has so long
enjoyed, especially the privilege of education....

...

The truth is that all mankind are the creatures and servants of one God,
and in His estimate all are human. Man is a generic term applying to all
humanity. The biblical statement “Let us make man in our image, after our
likeness” does not mean that woman was not created. The image and likeness
of God apply to her as well. In Persian and Arabic there are two distinct
words translated into English as man: one meaning man and woman
collectively, the other distinguishing man as male from woman the female.
The first word and its pronoun are generic, collective; the other is
restricted to the male. This is the same in Hebrew.

To accept and observe a distinction which God has not intended in creation
is ignorance and superstition....

It is my hope that the banner of equality may be raised throughout the
five continents where as yet it is not fully recognized and established.
In this enlightened world of the West woman has advanced an immeasurable
degree beyond the women of the Orient. And let it be known once more that
until woman and man recognize and realize equality, social and political
progress here or anywhere will not be possible. For the world of humanity
consists of two parts or members: one is woman; the other is man. Until
these two members are equal in strength, the oneness of humanity cannot be
established, and the happiness and felicity of mankind will not be a
reality. God willing, this is to be so.

(“The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912”, 2nd. ed.
(Wilmette: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1982), pp. 74–77) [14]



15: Today questions of the utmost importance are facing humanity,
questions...


Today questions of the utmost importance are facing humanity, questions
peculiar to this radiant century....

One of these questions concerns the rights of woman and her equality with
man. In past ages it was held that woman and man were not equal—that is to
say, woman was considered inferior to man, even from the standpoint of her
anatomy and creation. She was considered especially inferior in
intelligence, and the idea prevailed universally that it was not allowable
for her to step into the arena of important affairs. In some countries man
went so far as to believe and teach that woman belonged to a sphere lower
than human. But in this century, which is the century of light and the
revelation of mysteries, God is proving to the satisfaction of humanity
that all this is ignorance and error; nay, rather, it is well established
that mankind and womankind as parts of composite humanity are coequal and
that no difference in estimate is allowable, for all are human. The
conditions in past centuries were due to woman’s lack of opportunity. She
was denied the right and privilege of education and left in her
undeveloped state. Naturally, she could not and did not advance. In
reality, God has created all mankind, and in the estimation of God there
is no distinction as to male and female. The one whose heart is pure is
acceptable in His sight, be that one man or woman. God does not inquire,
“Art thou woman or art thou man?” He judges human actions. If these are
acceptable in the threshold of the Glorious One, man and woman will be
equally recognized and rewarded.

(“The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912”, p. 133) [15]



16: The world of humanity consists of two parts: male and female. Each
is...


The world of humanity consists of two parts: male and female. Each is the
complement of the other. Therefore, if one is defective, the other will
necessarily be incomplete, and perfection cannot be attained. There is a
right hand and a left hand in the human body, functionally equal in
service and administration. If either proves defective, the defect will
naturally extend to the other by involving the completeness of the whole;
for accomplishment is not normal unless both are perfect. If we say one
hand is deficient, we prove the inability and incapacity of the other; for
single-handed there is no full accomplishment. Just as physical
accomplishment is complete with two hands, so man and woman, the two parts
of the social body, must be perfect. It is not natural that either should
remain undeveloped; and until both are perfected, the happiness of the
human world will not be realized.

(“The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912”, p. 134) [16]



17: The status of woman in former times was exceedingly deplorable, for it
was...


The status of woman in former times was exceedingly deplorable, for it was
the belief of the Orient that it was best for woman to be ignorant. It was
considered preferable that she should not know reading or writing in order
that she might not be informed of events in the world. Woman was
considered to be created for rearing children and attending to the duties
of the household. If she pursued educational courses, it was deemed
contrary to chastity; hence women were made prisoners of the household.
The houses did not even have windows opening upon the outside world.
Bahá’u’lláh destroyed these ideas and proclaimed the equality of man and
woman. He made woman respected by commanding that all women be educated,
that there be no difference in the education of the two sexes and that man
and woman share the same rights. In the estimation of God there is no
distinction of sex. One whose thought is pure, whose education is
superior, whose scientific attainments are greater, whose deeds of
philanthropy excel, be that one man or woman, white or colored, is
entitled to full rights and recognition; there is no differentiation
whatsoever....

(“The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912”, p. 166) [17]



18: Woman’s lack of progress and proficiency has been due to her need of
equal...


Woman’s lack of progress and proficiency has been due to her need of equal
education and opportunity. Had she been allowed this equality, there is no
doubt she would be the counterpart of man in ability and capacity. The
happiness of mankind will be realized when women and men coordinate and
advance equally, for each is the complement and helpmeet of the other.

(“The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912”, p. 182) [18]



19: He establishes the equality of man and woman. This is peculiar to
the...


He establishes the equality of man and woman. This is peculiar to the
teachings of Bahá’u’lláh, for all other religions have placed man above
woman.

(“The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912”, p. 455) [19]



20: Women have equal rights with men upon earth; in religion and society
they...


Women have equal rights with men upon earth; in religion and society they
are a very important element. As long as women are prevented from
attaining their highest possibilities, so long will men be unable to
achieve the greatness which might be theirs.

(“Paris Talks: Addresses given by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Paris in 1911–1912”,
10th ed. (London: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979), p. 133) [20]



21: In the world of humanity ... the female sex is treated as though
inferior, and...


In the world of humanity ... the female sex is treated as though inferior,
and is not allowed equal rights and privileges. This condition is due not
to nature, but to education. In the Divine Creation there is no such
distinction. Neither sex is superior to the other in the sight of God. Why
then should one sex assert the inferiority of the other, withholding just
rights and privileges as though God had given His authority for such a
course of action? If women received the same educational advantages as
those of men, the result would demonstrate the equality of capacity of
both for scholarship.

In some respects woman is superior to man. She is more tender-hearted,
more receptive, her intuition is more intense.

(“Paris Talks: Addresses given by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Paris in 1911–1912”, p.
161) [21]



22: Divine Justice demands that the rights of both sexes should be
equally...


Divine Justice demands that the rights of both sexes should be equally
respected since neither is superior to the other in the eyes of Heaven.
Dignity before God depends, not on sex, but on purity and luminosity of
heart. Human virtues belong equally to all!

(“Paris Talks: Addresses given by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Paris in 1911–1912”, p.
162) [22]



23: In the Dispensation of Bahá’u’lláh, women are advancing side by side
with...


In the Dispensation of Bahá’u’lláh, women are advancing side by side with
men. There is no area or instance where they will lag behind: they have
equal rights with men, and will enter, in the future, into all branches of
the administration of society. Such will be their elevation that, in every
area of endeavour, they will occupy the highest levels in the human world.
Rest thou assured. Look not upon their present state. In future, the world
of womankind will shine with lustrous brilliance, for such is the will and
purpose of Bahá’u’lláh. At the time of elections the right to vote is the
inalienable right of women, and the entrance of women into all human
departments is an irrefutable and incontrovertible question. No soul can
retard or prevent it.

But there are certain matters, the participation in which is not worthy of
women. For example, at the time when the community is taking up vigorous
defensive measures against the attack of foes, the women are exempt from
military engagements. It may so happen that at a given time warlike and
savage tribes may furiously attack the body politic with the intention of
carrying on a wholesale slaughter of its members; under such a
circumstance defence is necessary, but it is the duty of men to organize
and execute such defensive measures and not the women—because their hearts
are tender and they cannot endure the sight of the horror of carnage, even
if it is for the sake of defence. From such and similar undertakings the
women are exempt.

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. His
Holiness Bahá’u’lláh has greatly strengthened the cause of women, and the
rights and privileges of women is one of the greatest principles of
‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Rest ye assured! Ere long the days shall come when the men
addressing the women, shall say: ‘Blessed are ye! Blessed are ye! Verily
ye are worthy of every gift. Verily ye deserve to adorn your heads with
the crown of everlasting glory, because in sciences and arts, in virtues
and perfections ye shall become equal to man, and as regards tenderness of
heart and the abundance of mercy and sympathy ye are superior’.

(From a Tablet to an individual believer - translated from the Persian,
published in “Paris Talks: Addresses given by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Paris in
1911–1912”, p. 182–84) [23]



24: The woman of the East has progressed. Formerly in India, Persia and...


The woman of the East has progressed. Formerly in India, Persia and
throughout the Orient, she was not considered a human being. Certain Arab
tribes counted their women in with the live stock. In their language the
noun for woman also meant donkey; that is, the same name applied to both
and a man’s wealth was accounted by the number of these beasts of burden
he possessed. The worst insult one could hurl at a man was to cry out,
“Thou woman!”

From the moment Bahá’u’lláh appeared, this changed. He did away with the
idea of distinction between the sexes, proclaiming them equal in every
capacity.

In former times it was considered wiser that woman should not know how to
read or write; she should occupy herself only with drudgery. She was very
ignorant. Bahá’u’lláh declares the education of woman to be of more
importance than that of man. If the mother be ignorant, even if the father
have great knowledge, the child’s education will be at fault, for
education begins with the milk. A child at the breast is like a tender
branch that the gardener can train as he wills.

The East has begun to educate its women. Some there are in Persia who have
become liberated through this cause, whose cleverness and eloquence the
‘ulamá cannot refute. Many of them are poets. They are absolutely
fearless.

...

I hope for a like degree of progress among the women of Europe—that each
may shine like unto a lamp; that they may cry out the proclamation of the
kingdom; that they may truly assist the men; nay, that they may be even
superior to the men, versed in sciences and yet detached, so that the
whole world may bear witness to the fact that men and women have
absolutely the same rights. It would be a cause of great joy for me to see
such women. This is useful work; by it woman will enter into the kingdom.
Otherwise, there will be no results.

(“‘Abdu’l-Bahá on Divine Philosophy” (Boston: Tudor Press, 1918), pp.
81–83) [24]



25: The world in the past has been ruled by force, and man has dominated
over...


The world in the past has been ruled by force, and man has dominated over
woman by reason of his more forceful and aggressive qualities both of body
and mind. But the balance is already shifting; force is losing its
dominance, and mental alertness, intuition, and the spiritual qualities of
love and service, in which woman is strong, are gaining ascendancy. Hence
the new age will be an age less masculine and more permeated with the
feminine ideals, or, to speak more exactly, will be an age in which the
masculine and feminine elements of civilization will be more evenly
balanced.

(J. E. Esslemont, “Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era”, 5th rev. ed. (Wilmette:
Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1987), p. 149) [25]



Extracts From Letters Written on Behalf of Shoghi Effendi:



26: If presented properly the position of women in the Bahá’í teachings
will...


If presented properly the position of women in the Bahá’í teachings will
surely attract much attention, for it is not only legal but also spiritual
and educational. Our ideals are so high and at the same time so
practicable that all other views will fall short if compared to them.

(7 January 1931 to the National Spiritual Assembly of India and Burma)
[26]



27: As regards your question concerning the membership of the Universal
House...


As regards your question concerning the membership of the Universal House
of Justice: there is a Tablet from ‘Abdul-Bahá in which He definitely
states that the membership of the Universal House is confined to men, and
that the wisdom of it will be fully revealed and appreciated in the
future. In the local as well as the national Houses of Justice, however,
women have the full right of membership. It is, therefore, only to the
International House that they cannot be elected. The Bahá’ís should accept
this statement of the Master in a spirit of deep faith, confident that
there is a divine guidance and wisdom behind it which will be gradually
unfolded to the eyes of the world.

(28 July 1936 to an individual believer) [27]



28: As regards the membership of the International House of Justice,...


As regards the membership of the International House of Justice,
‘Abdu’l-Bahá 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-Bahá 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 rights.

(14 December 1940 to the National Spiritual Assembly of India and Burma)
[28]



Extracts From Letters Written by the Universal House of Justice:



29: It is apparent from the Guardian’s writings that where Bahá’u’lláh...


It is apparent from the Guardian’s writings that where Bahá’u’lláh has
expressed a law as between a man and a woman it applies, mutatis mutandis,
between a woman and a man unless the context should make this impossible.
For example, the text of the “Kitáb-i-Aqdas” forbids a man to marry his
father’s wife (i.e. his step-mother), and the Guardian has indicated that
likewise a woman is forbidden to marry her step-father....

(28 April 1974 to an individual believer) [29]



30: Concerning your questions about the equality of men and women, this,
as...


Concerning your questions about the equality of men and women, this, as
‘Abdu’l-Bahá has often explained, is a fundamental principle of
Bahá’u’lláh; therefore the Laws of the “Aqdas” should be studied in the
light of it. Equality between men and women does not, indeed
physiologically it cannot, mean identity of functions. In some things
women excel men, for others men are better fitted than women, while in
very many things the difference of sex is of no effect at all. The
differences of function are most apparent in family life. The capacity for
motherhood has many far-reaching implications which are recognized in
Bahá’í Law. For example, when it is not possible to educate all one’s
children, daughters receive preference over sons, as mothers are the first
educators of the next generation. Again, for physiological reasons, women
are granted certain exemptions from fasting that are not applicable to
men.

(24 July 1975 to an individual believer) [30]



31: The primary question to be resolved is how the present world, with
its...


The primary question to be resolved is how the present world, with its
entrenched pattern of conflict, can change to a world in which harmony and
co-operation will prevail.

World order can be founded only on an unshakable consciousness of the
oneness of mankind, a spiritual truth which all the human sciences
confirm. Anthropology, physiology, psychology, recognize only one human
species, albeit infinitely varied in the secondary aspects of life.
Recognition of this truth requires abandonment of prejudice—prejudice of
every kind—race, class, colour, creed, nation, sex, degree of material
civilization, everything which enables people to consider themselves
superior to others.

Acceptance of the oneness of mankind is the first fundamental prerequisite
for reorganization and administration of the world as one country, the
home of humankind. Universal acceptance of this spiritual principle is
essential to any successful attempt to establish world peace....

(October 1985 to the Peoples of the World) [31]



From Letters Written on Behalf of the Universal House of Justice



32: To the general premise that women and men have equality in the
Faith,...


To the general premise that women and men have equality in the Faith,
this, as often explained by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, is a fundamental principle
deriving from Bahá’u’lláh and therefore His mention of the “Men of
Justice” in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas should be considered in light of that
principle....

(29 June 1976 to an individual believer) [32]



33: ...‘Abdu’l-Bahá asserts: “In this divine age the bounties of God
have...


...‘Abdu’l-Bahá asserts: “In this divine age the bounties of God have
encompassed the world of women. Equality of men and women, except in some
negligible instances, has been fully and categorically announced.
Distinctions have been utterly removed.” That men and women differ from
one another in certain characteristics and functions is an inescapable
fact of nature; the important thing is that He regards such inequalities
as remain between the sexes as being “negligible”.

(8 January 1981 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States)
[33]



34: You are quite right in stating that men and women have basic and
distinct...


You are quite right in stating that men and women have basic and distinct
qualities. The solution provided in the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh is not,
as you correctly observe, for men to become women, and for women to become
men. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá gave us the key to the problem when He taught that the
qualities and functions of men and women “complement” each other. He
further elucidated this point when He said that the “new age” will be “an
age in which the masculine and feminine elements of civilization will be
more properly balanced.”

(22 April 1981 to an individual believer) [34]



35: It may be helpful to stress ... that the Bahá’í principle of the...


It may be helpful to stress ... that the Bahá’í principle of the equality
of men and women is clearly stated in the teachings, and the fact that
there is diversity of function between them in certain areas does not
negate this principle.

(23 August 1984 to two believers) [35]



II. THE ROLE OF EDUCATION IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF WOMEN



Extracts From the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh:



36: It is the bounden duty of parents to rear their children to be staunch
in...


It is the bounden duty of parents to rear their children to be staunch in
faith ... For every praiseworthy deed is born out of the light of
religion, and lacking this supreme bestowal the child will not turn away
from any evil, nor will he draw nigh unto any good.

(From a Tablet - translated from Persian, published in “Bahá’í Education,
a compilation”, 1976 World Centre edition, p. 6) [36]



Extracts From the Writings and Utterances of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá:



37: Praised be God, the women believers have organized meetings where they
will...


Praised be God, the women believers have organized meetings where they
will learn how to teach the Faith, will spread the sweet savours of the
Teachings and make plans for training the children.

...those present should concern themselves with every means of training
the girl children; with teaching the various branches of knowledge, good
behaviour, a proper way of life, the cultivation of a good character,
chastity and constancy, perseverance, strength, determination, firmness of
purpose; with household management, the education of children, and
whatever especially applieth to the needs of girls—to the end that these
girls, reared in the stronghold of all perfections, and with the
protection of a goodly character, will, when they themselves become
mothers, bring up their children from earliest infancy to have a good
character and conduct themselves well.

Let them also study whatever will nurture the health of the body and its
physical soundness, and how to guard their children from disease.

(“Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá”, sec. 94, pp. 123–24) [37]



38: Work ye for the guidance of the women in that land, teach the young
girls and...


Work ye for the guidance of the women in that land, teach the young girls
and the children, so that the mothers may educate their little ones from
their earliest days, thoroughly train them, rear them to have a goodly
character and good morals, guide them to all the virtues of humankind,
prevent the development of any behaviour that would be worthy of blame,
and foster them in the embrace of Bahá’í education. Thus shall these
tender infants be nurtured at the breast of the knowledge of God and His
love. Thus shall they grow and flourish, and be taught righteousness and
the dignity of humankind, resolution and the will to strive and to endure.
Thus shall they learn perseverance in all things, the will to advance,
high mindedness and high resolve, chastity and purity of life. Thus shall
they be enabled to carry to a successful conclusion whatsoever they
undertake.

Let the mothers consider that whatever concerneth the education of
children is of the first importance. Let them put forth every effort in
this regard, for when the bough is green and tender it will grow in
whatever way ye train it. Therefore it is incumbent upon the mothers to
rear their little ones even as a gardener tendeth his young plants. Let
them strive by day and by night to establish within their children faith
and certitude, the fear of God, the love of the Beloved of the worlds, and
all good qualities and traits. Whensoever a mother seeth that her child
hath done well, let her praise and applaud him and cheer his heart; and if
the slightest undesirable trait should manifest itself, let her counsel
the child and punish him, and use means based on reason, even a slight
verbal chastisement should this be necessary. It is not, however,
permissible to strike a child, or vilify him, for the child’s character
will be totally perverted if he be subjected to blows or verbal abuse.

(“Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá”, sec. 95, pp. 124–25) [38]



39: ...it is incumbent upon the father and mother to train their children
both in...


...it is incumbent upon the father and mother to train their children both
in good conduct and the study of books; study, that is, to the degree
required, so that no child, whether girl or boy, will remain
illiterate....

(“Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá”, sec 101, p. 127) [39]



40: ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s supreme joy is in observing that a number of leaves
from among...


‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s supreme joy is in observing that a number of leaves from
among the handmaidens of the Blessed Beauty have been educated, that they
are the essence of detachment, and are well-informed of the mysteries of
the world of being; that they raise such a call in their glorification and
praise of the Greatest Name as to cause the inmates of the Fanes of the
Kingdom to become attracted and overjoyed, and that they recite prayers in
prose and poetry, and melodiously chant the divine verses. I cherish the
hope that thou wilt be one of them, wilt cast forth pearls, wilt be
constantly engaged in singing His praise and wilt intone celestial strains
in glorification of His attributes....

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian) [40]



41: ...Thou hast written about the girls’ school. What was previously
written...


...Thou hast written about the girls’ school. What was previously written
still holdeth true. There can be no improvement unless the girls are
brought up in schools and centres of learning, unless they are taught the
sciences and other branches of knowledge, and unless they acquire the
manifold arts, as necessary, and are divinely trained. For the day will
come when these girls will become mothers. Mothers are the first educators
of children, who establish virtues in the child’s inner nature. They
encourage the child to acquire perfections and goodly manners, warn him
against unbecoming qualities, and encourage him to show forth resolve,
firmness, and endurance under hardship, and to advance on the high road to
progress. Due regard for the education of girls is, therefore, necessary.
This is a very important subject, and it should be administered and
organized under the aegis of the Spiritual Assembly....

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian) [41]



42: ...it is incumbent upon the girls of this glorious era to be fully
versed in...


...it is incumbent upon the girls of this glorious era to be fully versed
in the various branches of knowledge, in sciences and the arts and all the
wonders of this pre-eminent time, that they may then educate their
children and train them from their earliest days in the ways of
perfection.

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian) [42]



43: Furthermore, the education of woman is more necessary and important
than...


Furthermore, the education of woman is more necessary and important than
that of man, for woman is the trainer of the child from its infancy. If
she be defective and imperfect herself, the child will necessarily be
deficient; therefore, imperfection of woman implies a condition of
imperfection in all mankind, for it is the mother who rears, nurtures and
guides the growth of the child. This is not the function of the father. If
the educator be incompetent, the educated will be correspondingly lacking.
This is evident and incontrovertible. Could the student be brilliant and
accomplished if the teacher is illiterate and ignorant? The mothers are
the first educators of mankind; if they be imperfect, alas for the
condition and future of the race.

...

It has been objected by some that woman is not equally capable with man
and that she is deficient by creation. This is pure imagination. The
difference in capability between man and woman is due entirely to
opportunity and education. Heretofore woman has been denied the right and
privilege of equal development. If equal opportunity be granted her, there
is no doubt she would be the peer of man. History will evidence this. In
past ages noted women have arisen in the affairs of nations and surpassed
men in their accomplishments....

...

The purpose, in brief, is this: that if woman be fully educated and
granted her rights, she will attain the capacity for wonderful
accomplishments and prove herself the equal of man. She is the coadjutor
of man, his complement and helpmeet. Both are human; both are endowed with
potentialities of intelligence and embody the virtues of humanity. In all
human powers and functions they are partners and coequals. At present in
spheres of human activity woman does not manifest her natal prerogatives,
owing to lack of education and opportunity. Without doubt education will
establish her equality with men....

(“The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912”, pp. 133–37)
[43]



44: In proclaiming the oneness of mankind He taught that men and women
are...


In proclaiming the oneness of mankind He taught that men and women are
equal in the sight of God and that there is no distinction to be made
between them. The only difference between them now is due to lack of
education and training. If woman is given equal opportunity of education,
distinction and estimate of inferiority will disappear....

He promulgated the adoption of the same course of education for man and
woman. Daughters and sons must follow the same curriculum of study,
thereby promoting unity of the sexes. When all mankind shall receive the
same opportunity of education and the equality of men and women be
realized, the foundations of war will be utterly destroyed....

(“The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912”, pp. 174–75)
[44]



45: Why should a woman be left mentally undeveloped? Science is
praiseworthy—...


Why should a woman be left mentally undeveloped? Science is
praiseworthy—whether investigated by the intellect of man or woman. So,
little by little, woman advanced, giving increasing evidence of equal
capabilities with man—whether in scientific research, political ability or
any other sphere of human activity. The conclusion is evident that woman
has been outdistanced through lack of education and intellectual
facilities. If given the same educational opportunities or course of
study, she would develop the same capacity and abilities.

(“The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912”, p. 281) [45]



46: Bahá’u’lláh has announced that inasmuch as ignorance and lack of...


Bahá’u’lláh has announced that inasmuch as ignorance and lack of education
are barriers of separation among mankind, all must receive training and
instruction. Through this provision the lack of mutual understanding will
be remedied and the unity of mankind furthered and advanced. Universal
education is a universal law. It is, therefore, incumbent upon every
father to teach and instruct his children according to his possibilities.
If he is unable to educate them, the body politic, the representative of
the people, must provide the means for their education.

The sex distinction which exists in the human world is due to the lack of
education for woman, who has been denied equal opportunity for development
and advancement. Equality of the sexes will be established in proportion
to the increased opportunities afforded woman in this age, for man and
woman are equally the recipients of powers and endowments from God, the
Creator. God has not ordained distinction between them in His consummate
purpose.

(“The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912”, p. 300) [46]



47: The education of each child is compulsory.... In addition to this
widespread...


The education of each child is compulsory.... In addition to this
widespread education each child must be taught a profession, art, or
trade, so that every member of the community will be enabled to earn his
own livelihood. Work done in the spirit of service is the highest form of
worship....

(“‘Abdu’l-Bahá on Divine Philosophy”, p. 78) [47]



48: Devote ye particular attention to the school for girls, for the
greatness...


Devote ye particular attention to the school for girls, for the greatness
of this wondrous Age will be manifested as a result of progress in the
world of women. This is why ye observe that in every land the world of
women is on the march, and this is due to the impact of the Most Great
Manifestation, and the power of the teachings of God.

(From a Tablet - Translated from the Persian, published in “Bahá’í
Education, a compilation”, p. 37) [48]



49: Our hearts rejoiced at thy letter concerning a school for girls....


Our hearts rejoiced at thy letter concerning a school for girls.

Praised be God that there is now a school of this type in Ṭihrán where
young maidens can, through His bounty, receive an education and with all
vigour acquire the accomplishments of humankind. Erelong will women in
every field keep pace with the men.

Until now, in Persia, the means for women’s advancement were non-existent.
But now, God be thanked, ever since the dawning of the Morn of Salvation,
they have been going forward day by day. The hope is that they will take
the lead in virtues and attainments, in closeness to the Court of Almighty
God, in faith and certitude—and that the women of the East will become the
envy of the women of the West.

(From a Tablet - Translated from the Persian, published in “Bahá’í
Education, a compilation”, p. 48) [49]



Extract From a Letter Written by the Universal House of Justice



50: The cause of universal education, which has already enlisted in its...


The cause of universal education, which has already enlisted in its
service an army of dedicated people from every faith and nation, deserves
the utmost support that the governments of the world can lend it. For
ignorance is indisputably the principal reason for the decline and fall of
peoples and the perpetuation of prejudice. No nation can achieve success
unless education is accorded all its citizens. Lack of resources limits
the ability of many nations to fulfil this necessity, imposing a certain
ordering of priorities. The decision-making agencies involved would do
well to consider giving first priority to the education of women and
girls, since it is through educated mothers that the benefits of knowledge
can be most effectively and rapidly diffused throughout society. In
keeping with the requirements of the times, consideration should also be
given to teaching the concept of world citizenship as part of the standard
education of every child.

(October 1985 to the Peoples of the World) [50]



Extracts From Letters Written on Behalf of the Universal House of Justice:



51: A very important element in the attainment of such equality is
Bahá’u’lláh’s...


A very important element in the attainment of such equality is
Bahá’u’lláh’s provision that boys and girls must follow essentially the
same curriculum in schools.

(28 December 1980 to the National Spiritual Assembly of New Zealand) [51]



52: The House of Justice regards the need to educate and guide women in
their...


The House of Justice regards the need to educate and guide women in their
primary responsibility as mothers as an excellent opportunity for
organizing women’s activities. Your efforts should focus on helping them
in their function as educators of the rising generation. Women should also
be encouraged to attract their husbands and male members of their families
to the Faith so that the Bahá’í community will be representative of the
society of which it forms a part. Gradually the spirit of unity and
fellowship, as set forth in our teachings, will be reflected in the life
of Bahá’í families.

(29 February 1984 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Mariana
Islands) [52]



III. APPLICATION OF THE PRINCIPLE OF EQUALITY TO FAMILY LIFE



Extracts From the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh:



53: Steadfastness in the Cause is mentioned in the Tablets and set forth
by...


Steadfastness in the Cause is mentioned in the Tablets and set forth by
the Pen of the Ancient of Days. Render thanks to the Beloved of the world
that thou hast set thy heart on Him and art uttering His praise. Many a
man hath in this day been deprived of making mention of the All-Sufficing
Lord and of recognizing His truth; and many a woman hath fixed her gaze
upon the Horizon of the Most High, and hath adorned herself with the garb
of the love of the Desire of the world. This is God’s grace which He
bestoweth upon whomsoever He pleaseth. By the Day-Star of ancient
mysteries! The sweet-scented fragrance of every breath breathed in the
love of God is wafted in the court of the presence of the Lord of
Revelation. The reward of no good deed is or ever will be lost. Blessed
art thou, doubly blessed art thou! Thou art reckoned amongst those
handmaidens whose love for their kin hath not prevented them from
attaining the shores of the Sea of Grace and Mercy. God willing, thou
shalt rest eternally neath the shade of the favours of the All-Merciful
and shalt be assured of His bounties. Engage in the praise of the True One
and rejoice in His loving-kindness.

The world passeth away, and that which is everlasting is the love of God.
God willing, thou shalt circumambulate the True One in every world of His
worlds and shalt be free from all else save Him....

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian and Arabic) [53]



54: All should know, and in this regard attain the splendours of the sun
of...


All should know, and in this regard attain the splendours of the sun of
certitude, and be illumined thereby: Women and men have been and will
always be equal in the sight of God. The Dawning-Place of the Light of God
sheddeth its radiance upon all with the same effulgence. Verily God
created women for men, and men for women. The most beloved of people
before God are the most steadfast and those who have surpassed others in
their love for God, exalted be His glory....

The friends of God must be adorned with the ornament of justice, equity,
kindness and love. As they do not allow themselves to be the object of
cruelty and transgression, in like manner they should not allow such
tyranny to visit the handmaidens of God. He, verily, speaketh the truth
and commandeth that which benefitteth His servants and handmaidens. He is
the Protector of all in this world and the next.

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian and Arabic) [54]



Extracts From the Writings and Utterances of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá:



55: The Lord, peerless is He, hath made woman and man to abide with each
other...


The Lord, peerless is He, hath made woman and man to abide with each other
in the closest companionship, and to be even as a single soul. They are
two helpmates, two intimate friends, who should be concerned about the
welfare of each other.

If they live thus, they will pass through this world with perfect
contentment, bliss, and peace of heart, and become the object of divine
grace and favour in the Kingdom of heaven. But if they do other than this,
they will live out their lives in great bitterness, longing at every
moment for death, and will be shamefaced in the heavenly realm.

Strive, then, to abide, heart and soul, with each other as two doves in
the nest, for this is to be blessed in both worlds.

(“Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá”, sec. 92, p. 122) [55]



56: ...following the precepts of God and the holy Law, suckle your
children from...


...following the precepts of God and the holy Law, suckle your children
from their infancy with the milk of a universal education, and rear them
so that from their earliest days, within their inmost heart, their very
nature, a way of life will be firmly established that will conform to the
divine Teachings in all things.

For mothers are the first educators, the first mentors; and truly it is
the mothers who determine the happiness, the future greatness, the
courteous ways and learning and judgement, the understanding and the faith
of their little ones.

(“Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá”, sec. 96, p. 126) [56]



57: ...it is enjoined upon the father and mother, as a duty, to strive
with all...


...it is enjoined upon the father and mother, as a duty, to strive with
all effort to train the daughter and the son, to nurse them from the
breast of knowledge and to rear them in the bosom of sciences and arts.
Should they neglect this matter, they shall be held responsible and worthy
of reproach in the presence of the stern Lord.

(“Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá”, sec. 98, p. 127) [57]



58: O ye loving mothers, know ye that in God’s sight, the best of all ways
to...


O ye loving mothers, know ye that in God’s sight, the best of all ways to
worship Him is to educate the children and train them in all the
perfections of humankind; and no nobler deed than this can be imagined.

(“Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá”, sec. 144, p. 139) [58]



59: Note ye how easily, where unity existeth in a given family, the
affairs of...


Note ye how easily, where unity existeth in a given family, the affairs of
that family are conducted; what progress the members of that family make,
how they prosper in the world. Their concerns are in order, they enjoy
comfort and tranquillity, they are secure, their position is assured, they
come to be envied by all. Such a family but addeth to its stature and its
lasting honour, as day succeedeth day....

(“Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá”, sec. 221, p. 279) [59]



60: You have asked whether a husband would be able to prevent his wife
from...


You have asked whether a husband would be able to prevent his wife from
embracing the divine light or a wife dissuade her husband from gaining
entry into the Kingdom of God. In truth neither of them could prevent the
other from entering into the Kingdom, unless the husband hath an excessive
attachment to the wife or the wife to the husband. Indeed when either of
the two worshippeth the other to the exclusion of God, then each could
prevent the other from seeking admittance into His Kingdom.

(From a Tablet - Translated from the Arabic, published in “Family Life, a
compilation”, p. 8) [60]



61: Question: What is the attitude of your belief toward the family?...


Question: What is the attitude of your belief toward the family?

Answer: According to the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh the family, being a
human unit, must be educated according to the rules of sanctity. All the
virtues must be taught the family. The integrity of the family bond must
be constantly considered, and the rights of the individual members must
not be transgressed. The rights of the son, the father, the mother—none of
them must be transgressed, none of them must be arbitrary. Just as the son
has certain obligations to his father, the father, likewise, has certain
obligations to his son. The mother, the sister and other members of the
household have their certain prerogatives. All these rights and
prerogatives must be conserved, yet the unity of the family must be
sustained. The injury of one shall be considered the injury of all; the
comfort of each, the comfort of all; the honor of one, the honor of all.

(“The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912”, p. 168) [61]



Extracts From letters written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to individual
believers unless otherwise cited



62: When such difference of opinion and belief occurs between husband and
wife it...


When such difference of opinion and belief occurs between husband and wife
it is very unfortunate for undoubtedly it detracts from that spiritual
bond which is the stronghold of the family bond, especially in times of
difficulty. The way, however, that it could be remedied is not by acting
in such wise as to alienate the other party. One of the objects of the
Cause is actually to bring about a closer bond in the homes. In all such
cases, therefore, the Master used to advise obedience to the wishes of the
other party and prayer. Pray that your husband may gradually see the light
and at the same time so act as to draw him nearer rather than prejudice
him. Once that harmony is secured then you will be able to serve
unhampered.

(15 July 1928) [62]



63: Shoghi Effendi trusts that as a result of his cable and this letter
your...


Shoghi Effendi trusts that as a result of his cable and this letter your
wife will be able to devote a little more time to her family, but he also
hopes that you will be able to assist her in obtaining the time and
opportunity to serve a Cause that is so dear and near to her heart and in
which her services are much appreciated.

(19 June 1931) [63]



64: The Guardian, in his remarks ... about parents’ and children’s, wives’
and...


The Guardian, in his remarks ... about parents’ and children’s, 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, any more than that the husband should
unjustly dominate his wife.

(22 July 1943) [64]



65: It is one of the essential teachings of the Faith that unity should
be...


It is one of the essential teachings of the Faith that unity should be
maintained in the home. Of course this does not mean that any member of
the family has a right to influence the faith of any other member; and if
this is realized by all the members, then it seems certain that unity
would be feasible.

(6 July 1952) [65]



66: The Guardian fully appreciates your desire to go forth as a pioneer
at...


The Guardian fully appreciates your desire to go forth as a pioneer at
this time, and to help establish the Faith in the virgin areas, but you
should not go against the wishes of your husband, and force him to give up
everything in order that you might serve the Faith in this manner. We must
bear in mind the wishes and the rights of those who are closely connected
in our lives.

If your husband wishes you to remain where you are, certainly there is a
vast field for teaching there....

(31 July 1953) [66]



67: Wherever there is a Bahá’í family, those concerned should by all
means...


Wherever there is a Bahá’í family, those concerned should by all means do
all they can to preserve it, because divorce is strongly condemned in the
Teachings, whereas harmony, unity and love are held up as the highest
ideals in human relationships. This must always apply to the Bahá’ís,
whether they are serving in the pioneering field or not.

(9 November 1956 to the National Spiritual Assembly of Central America)
[67]



Extracts From letters Written on Behalf of the Universal House of Justice
to individual believers unless otherwise cited



68: That the first teacher of the child is the mother should not be
startling,...


That the first teacher of the child is the mother should not be startling,
for the primary orientation of the infant is to its mother. This provision
of nature in no way minimizes the role of the father in the Bahá’í family.
Again, equality of status does not mean identity of function.

(23 June 1974) [68]



69: In considering the problems that you and your wife are experiencing,
the...


In considering the problems that you and your wife are experiencing, the
House of Justice points out that the unity of your family should take
priority over any other consideration. Bahá’u’lláh came to bring unity to
the world, and a fundamental unity is that of the family. Therefore, we
must believe that the Faith is intended to strengthen the family, not
weaken it. For example, service to the Cause should not produce neglect of
the family. It is important for you to arrange your time so that your
family life is harmonious and your household receives the attention it
requires.

Bahá’u’lláh also stressed the importance of consultation. We should not
think this worthwhile method of seeking solutions is confined to the
administrative institutions of the Cause. Family consultation employing
full and frank discussion, and animated by awareness of the need for
moderation and balance, can be the panacea for domestic conflict. Wives
should not attempt to dominate their husbands, nor husbands their
wives....

(1 August 1978) [69]



70: Noting that you and your husband have consulted about your family
problems...


Noting that you and your husband have consulted about your family problems
with your Spiritual Assembly but did not receive any advice, and also
discussed your situation with a family counsellor without success, the
House of Justice feels it most essential for your husband and you to
understand that marriage can be a source of well-being, conveying a sense
of security and spiritual happiness. However, it is not something that
just happens. For marriage to become a haven of contentment it requires
the cooperation of the marriage partners themselves, and the assistance of
their families....

(24 June 1979) [70]



71: The members of a family all have duties and responsibilities towards
one...


The members of a family all have duties and responsibilities towards one
another and to the family as a whole, and these duties and
responsibilities vary from member to member because of their natural
relationships. The parents have the inescapable duty to educate their
children—but not vice versa; the children have the duty to obey their
parents—the parents do not obey the children; the mother—not the
father—bears the children, nurses them in babyhood, and is thus their
first educator; hence daughters have a prior right to education over sons
and, as the Guardian’s secretary has written on his behalf, “The task of
bringing up a Bahá’í child, as emphasized time and again in Bahá’í
Writings, is the chief responsibility of the mother, whose unique
privilege is indeed to create in her home such conditions as would be most
conducive to both his material and spiritual welfare and advancement. The
training which a child first receives through his mother constitutes the
strongest foundation for his future development...” A corollary of this
responsibility of the mother is her right to be supported by her husband—a
husband has no explicit right to be supported by his wife....

...

In any group, however loving the consultation, there are nevertheless
points on which, from time to time, agreement cannot be reached. In a
Spiritual Assembly this dilemma is resolved by a majority vote. There can,
however, be no majority where only two parties are involved, as in the
case of a husband and wife. There are, therefore, times when a wife should
defer to her husband, and times when a husband should defer to his wife,
but neither should ever unjustly dominate the other. In short, the
relationship between husband and wife should be as held forth in the
prayer revealed by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá which is often read at Bahá’í weddings:
“Verily, they are married in obedience to Thy command. Cause them to
become the signs of harmony and unity until the end of time.”

These are all relationships within the family, but there is a much wider
sphere of relationships between men and women than in the home, and this
too we should consider in the context of Bahá’í society, not in that of
past or present social norms. For example, although the mother is the
first educator of the child, and the most important formative influence in
his development, the father also has the responsibility of educating his
children, and this responsibility is so weighty that Bahá’u’lláh has
stated that a father who fails to exercise it forfeits his rights of
fatherhood. Similarly, although the primary responsibility for supporting
the family financially is placed upon the husband, this does not by any
means imply that the place of woman is confined to the home....

(28 December 1980 to the National Spiritual Assembly of New Zealand) [71]



72: You have asked, however, for specific rules of conduct to govern
the...


You have asked, however, for specific rules of conduct to govern the
relationships of husbands and wives. This the House of Justice does not
wish to do, and it feels that there is already adequate guidance included
in the compilation on this subject. For example the principle that the
rights of each and all in the family unit must be upheld, and the advice
that loving consultation should be the keynote, that all matters should be
settled in harmony and love, and that there are times when the husband and
the wife should defer to the wishes of the other. Exactly under what
circumstances such deference should take place, is a matter for each
couple to determine....

(16 May 1982) [72]



73: You ask about the admonition that everyone must work, and want to know
if...


You ask about the admonition that everyone must work, and want to know if
this means that you, a wife and mother, must work for a livelihood as your
husband does. We are requested to enclose for your perusal an excerpt,
“The twelfth Glad-Tidings”, from Bahá’u’lláh’s “Tablet of Bi_sh_árát”.(3)
You will see that the directive is for the friends to be engaged in an
occupation which will be of benefit to mankind. Homemaking is a highly
honourable and responsible work of fundamental importance for mankind....

(16 June 1982) [73]



74: With regard to your question whether mothers should work outside the
home,...


With regard to your question whether mothers should work outside the home,
it is helpful to consider the matter from the perspective of the concept
of a Bahá’í family. This concept is based on the principle that the man
has primary responsibility for the financial support of the family, and
the woman is the chief and primary educator of the children. This by no
means implies that these functions are inflexibly fixed and cannot be
changed and adjusted to suit particular family situations, nor does it
mean that the place of the woman is confined to the home. Rather, while
primary responsibility is assigned, it is anticipated that fathers would
play a significant role in the education of the children and women could
also be breadwinners. As you rightly indicated, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá encouraged
women to “participate fully and equally in the affairs of the world”.

In relation to your specific queries, the decision concerning the amount
of time a mother may spend in working outside the home depends on
circumstances existing within the home, which may vary from time to time.
Family consultation will help to provide the answers....

(9 August 1984) [74]



75: The great importance attached to the mother’s role derives from the
fact...


The great importance attached to the mother’s role derives from the fact
that she is the first educator of the child. Her attitude, her prayers,
even what she eats and her physical condition have a great influence on
the child when it is still in the womb. When the child is born, it is she
who has been endowed by God with the milk which is the first food designed
for it, and it is intended that, if possible, she should be with the baby
to train and nurture it in its earliest days and months. This does not
mean that the father does not also love, pray for, and care for his baby,
but as he has the primary responsibility of providing for the family, his
time to be with his child is usually limited, while the mother is usually
closely associated with the baby during this intensely formative time when
it is growing and developing faster than it ever will again during the
whole of its life. As the child grows older and more independent, the
relative nature of its relationship with its mother and father modifies
and the father can play a greater role.

(23 August 1984 to two believers) [75]



IV. WOMEN IN THE WORLD AT LARGE



Extract From the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh



76: It is enjoined upon every one of you to engage in some form of
occupation,...


It is enjoined upon every one of you to engage in some form of occupation,
such as crafts, trades and the like. We have graciously exalted your
engagement in such work to the rank of worship unto God, the True One.
Ponder ye in your hearts the grace and the blessings of God and render
thanks unto Him at eventide and at dawn. Waste not your time in idleness
and sloth. Occupy yourselves with that which profiteth yourselves and
others. Thus hath it been decreed in this Tablet from whose horizon the
day-star of wisdom and utterance shineth resplendent.

The most despised of men in the sight of God are those who sit idly and
beg. Hold ye fast unto the cord of material means, placing your whole
trust in God, the Provider of all means. When anyone occupieth himself in
a craft or trade, such occupation itself is regarded in the estimation of
God as an act of worship; and this is naught but a token of His infinite
and all-pervasive bounty.

(“Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh Revealed after the Kitáb-i-Aqdas” [rev. ed.],
(Haifa: Bahá’í World Centre, 1982), p. 26) [76]



Extracts From the Writings and Utterances of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá:



77: The handmaidens of God and the bondsmaids in His divine Court
should...


The handmaidens of God and the bondsmaids in His divine Court should
reveal such attributes and attitudes amongst the women of the world as
would cause them to stand out and achieve renown in the circles of women.
That is, they should associate with them with supreme chastity and
steadfast decency, with unshakeable faith, articulate speech, an eloquent
tongue, irrefutable testimony and high resolve. Beseech God that thou
mayest attain unto all these bounties.

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian) [77]



78: Until the reality of equality between man and woman is fully
established and...


Until the reality of equality between man and woman is fully established
and attained, the highest social development of mankind is not possible.
Even granted that woman is inferior to man in some degree of capacity or
accomplishment, this or any other distinction would continue to be
productive of discord and trouble. The only remedy is education,
opportunity; for equality means equal qualification....

And let it be known once more that until woman and man recognize and
realize equality, social and political progress here or anywhere will not
be possible....

(“The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912”, pp. 76–77) [78]



79: ...the principle of religion has been revealed by Bahá’u’lláh that
woman...


...the principle of religion has been revealed by Bahá’u’lláh that woman
must be given the privilege of equal education with man and full right to
his prerogatives. That is to say, there must be no difference in the
education of male and female in order that womankind may develop equal
capacity and importance with man in the social and economic equation. Then
the world will attain unity and harmony. In past ages humanity has been
defective and inefficient because it has been incomplete. War and its
ravages have blighted the world; the education of woman will be a mighty
step toward its abolition and ending, for she will use her whole influence
against war. Woman rears the child and educates the youth to maturity. She
will refuse to give her sons for sacrifice upon the field of battle. In
truth, she will be the greatest factor in establishing universal peace and
international arbitration. Assuredly, woman will abolish warfare among
mankind....

(“The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912”, p. 108) [79]



80: Again, it is well established in history that where woman has not...


Again, it is well established in history that where woman has not
participated in human affairs the outcomes have never attained a state of
completion and perfection. On the other hand, every influential
undertaking of the human world wherein woman has been a participant has
attained importance. This is historically true and beyond disproof even in
religion. Jesus Christ had twelve disciples and among His followers a
woman known as Mary Magdalene. Judas Iscariot had become a traitor and
hypocrite, and after the crucifixion the remaining eleven disciples were
wavering and undecided. It is certain from the evidence of the Gospels
that the one who comforted them and reestablished their faith was Mary
Magdalene.

...

The most momentous question of this day is international peace and
arbitration, and universal peace is impossible without universal
suffrage....

(“The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912”, p. 134) [80]



81: Question: Is it not a fact that universal peace cannot be
accomplished...


Question: Is it not a fact that universal peace cannot be accomplished
until there is political democracy in all the countries of the world?

Answer: It is very evident that in the future there shall be no
centralization in the countries of the world, be they constitutional in
government, republican or democratic in form. The United States may be
held up as the example of future government—that is to say, each province
will be independent in itself, but there will be federal union protecting
the interests of the various independent states. It may not be a
republican or a democratic form. To cast aside centralization which
promotes despotism is the exigency of the time. This will be productive of
international peace. Another fact of equal importance in bringing about
international peace is woman’s suffrage. That is to say, when perfect
equality shall be established between men and women, peace may be realized
for the simple reason that womankind in general will never favor warfare.
Women will not be willing to allow those whom they have so tenderly cared
for to go to the battlefield. When they shall have a vote, they will
oppose any cause of warfare. Another factor which will bring about
universal peace is the linking together of the Orient and the Occident.

(“The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912”, p. 167) [81]



82: When all mankind shall receive the same opportunity of education and
the...


When all mankind shall receive the same opportunity of education and the
equality of men and women be realized, the foundations of war will be
utterly destroyed. Without equality this will be impossible because all
differences and distinction are conducive to discord and strife. Equality
between men and women is conducive to the abolition of warfare for the
reason that women will never be willing to sanction it....

(“The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912”, p. 175) [82]



84: Woman must especially devote her energies and abilities toward the
industrial...


Woman must especially devote her energies and abilities toward the
industrial and agricultural sciences, seeking to assist mankind in that
which is most needful. By this means she will demonstrate capability and
ensure recognition of equality in the social and economic equation....

(“The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912”, p. 283) [84]



85: Therefore, strive to show in the human world that women are most
capable...


Therefore, strive to show in the human world that women are most capable
and efficient, that their hearts are more tender and susceptible than the
hearts of men, that they are more philanthropic and responsive toward the
needy and suffering, that they are inflexibly opposed to war and are
lovers of peace. Strive that the ideal of international peace may become
realized through the efforts of womankind, for man is more inclined to war
than woman, and a real evidence of woman’s superiority will be her service
and efficiency in the establishment of universal peace.

(“The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912”, p. 284) [85]



86: ...imbued with the same virtues as man, rising through all the degrees
of human...


...imbued with the same virtues as man, rising through all the degrees of
human attainment, women will become the peers of men, and until this
equality is established, true progress and attainment for the human race
will not be facilitated.

The evident reasons underlying this are as follows: Woman by nature is
opposed to war; she is an advocate of peace. Children are reared and
brought up by the mothers who give them the first principles of education
and labor assiduously in their behalf. Consider, for instance, a mother
who has tenderly reared a son for twenty years to the age of maturity.
Surely she will not consent to having that son torn asunder and killed in
the field of battle. Therefore, as woman advances toward the degree of man
in power and privilege, with the right of vote and control in human
government, most assuredly war will cease; for woman is naturally the most
devoted and staunch advocate of international peace.

(“The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912”, p. 375) [86]



87: According to the spirit of this age, women must advance and fulfill
their...


According to the spirit of this age, women must advance and fulfill their
mission in all departments of life, becoming equal to men. They must be on
the same level as men and enjoy equal rights. This is my earnest prayer
and it is one of the fundamental principles of Bahá’u’lláh.

(J. E. Esslemont, “Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era”, p. 147) [87]



88: ...The woman is indeed of the greater importance to the race. She has
the...


...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.

The woman has greater moral courage than the man; she has also special
gifts which enable her to govern in moments of danger and crisis....

(“‘Abdu’l-Bahá in London: Addresses, and Notes of Conversations” (London:
Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1982), pp. 102–3) [88]

Extracts From Letters Written on Behalf of Shoghi Effendi:



89: Concerning Bahá’í representation at the All-Asian Women’s Conference:
this...


Concerning Bahá’í representation at the All-Asian Women’s Conference: this
is undoubtedly a most commendable thing to do especially as the Cause has
so much concerning the position of women in society. Shoghi Effendi hopes
that the National Assembly will do its best to win the admiration of all
the assembled delegates for the teachings of the Cause along that line. We
should always take such opportunities that present themselves. Maybe we
would succeed to render some service to society and alleviate its ills.

(10 November 1930 to the National Spiritual Assembly of India and Burma)
[89]



90: What ‘Abdu’l-Bahá meant about the women arising for peace is that this
is a...


What ‘Abdu’l-Bahá meant about the women arising for peace is that this is
a matter which vitally affects women, and when they form a conscious and
overwhelming mass of public opinion against war there can be no war. The
Bahá’í women are already organized through being members of the Faith and
the Administrative Order. No further organization is needed. But they
should, through teaching and through the active moral support they give to
every movement directed towards peace, seek to exert a strong influence on
other women’s minds in regard to this essential matter.

(24 March 1945 to an individual believer) [90]



Extract From a Letter Written by the Universal House of Justice



91: The emancipation of women, the achievement of full equality between
the...


The emancipation of women, the achievement of full equality between the
sexes, is one of the most important, though less acknowledged
prerequisites of peace. The denial of such equality perpetrates an
injustice against one half of the world’s population and promotes in men
harmful attitudes and habits that are carried from the family to the
workplace, to political life, and ultimately to international relations.
There are no grounds, moral, practical, or biological, upon which such
denial can be justified. Only as women are welcomed into full partnership
in all fields of human endeavour will the moral and psychological climate
be created in which international peace can emerge.

(October 1985 to the Peoples of the World) [91]



Extracts From Letters Written on Behalf of the Universal House of Justice:



92: ...there is a much wider sphere of relationships between men and women
than in...


...there is a much wider sphere of relationships between men and women
than in the home, and this too we should consider in the context of Bahá’í
society, not in that of past or present social norms. For example,
although the mother is the first educator of the child, and the most
important formative influence in his development, the father also has the
responsibility of educating his children, and this responsibility is so
weighty that Bahá’u’lláh has stated that a father who fails to exercise it
forfeits his rights of fatherhood. Similarly, although the primary
responsibility for supporting the family financially is placed upon the
husband, this does not by any means imply that the place of woman is
confined to the home. On the contrary, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has stated:

In the Dispensation of Bahá’u’lláh, women are advancing side by side with
men. There is no area or instance where they will lag behind: they have
equal rights with men, and will enter, in the future, into all branches of
the administration of society. Such will be their elevation that, in every
area of endeavour, they will occupy the highest levels in the human
world....(4)

and again:

So it will come to pass that when women participate fully and equally in
the affairs of the world, when they enter confidently and capably the
great arena of laws and politics, war will cease;... (“The Promulgation of
Universal Peace”, p. 135)

In the Tablet of the World, Bahá’u’lláh Himself has envisaged that women
as well as men would be breadwinners in stating:

Everyone, whether man or woman, should hand over to a trusted person a
portion of what he or she earneth through trade, agriculture or other
occupation, for the training and education of children, to be spent for
this purpose with the knowledge of the Trustees of the House of Justice.

(“Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh Revealed after the Kitáb-i-Aqdas”, p. 90) (28
December 1980 to the National Spiritual Assembly of New Zealand) [92]



93: The duty of women in being the first educators of mankind is clearly
set...


The duty of women in being the first educators of mankind is clearly set
forth in the Writings. It is for every woman, if and when she becomes a
mother, to determine how best she can discharge on the one hand her chief
responsibility as a mother and on the other, to the extent possible, to
participate in other aspects of the activities of the society of which she
forms a part....

(22 April 1981 to an individual believer) [93]



V. FOSTERING THE DEVELOPMENT OF WOMEN



Extracts From the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh:



94: In this Day the Blessed Tree of Remembrance speaketh forth in the
Kingdom...


In this Day the Blessed Tree of Remembrance speaketh forth in the Kingdom
of Utterance saying: Well is it with the servant who hath turned his face
towards Him, and embraced His truth, and with the handmaiden who hath
hearkened to His Voice and become of the blissful. Verily, she is a
champion of the field of true understanding. To this the Tongue of Truth
beareth witness from His exalted Station.

O My leaf, blessed art thou for having responded to My call when it was
raised in the name of the True One. Thou didst recognize My Revelation
when men of renown were immersed in manifest idle fancies. Thou hast
verily attained the mercy of thy Lord time and again. Render thanks unto
Him and glorify Him with thy Praise. He is, in truth, with His handmaidens
and servants who have turned towards Him. The shining glory from the
Horizon of My Kingdom be upon thee and upon the one who hath guided thee
to My straight path.

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian and Arabic) [94]



95: We beseech the True One to adorn His handmaidens with the ornament
of...


We beseech the True One to adorn His handmaidens with the ornament of
chastity, of trustworthiness, of righteousness and of purity. Verily, He
is the All-Bestowing, the All-Generous. We make mention of the handmaidens
of God at this time and announce unto them the glad-tidings of the tokens
of the mercy and compassion of God and His consideration for them,
glorified be He, and We supplicate Him for all His assistance to perform
such deeds as are the cause of the exaltation of His Word. He verily
speaketh the truth and enjoineth upon His servants and His handmaidens
that which will profit them in every world of His worlds. He, verily, is
the All-Forgiving, the All-Merciful.

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian and Arabic) [95]



Extracts From the Writings and Utterances of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá:



96: The effulgence of the rays of the Sun of Truth is abundant and the
favours...


The effulgence of the rays of the Sun of Truth is abundant and the favours
of the Blessed Beauty surround the women believers and the handmaidens who
have attained unto certitude. At every moment a bounteous bestowal is
revealed. The handmaidens of the Merciful should seize the opportunities
afforded in these days. Each one should strive to draw nigh unto the
divine Threshold and seek bounties from the Source of existence. She
should attain such a state and be confirmed with such a power as to make,
with but the utterance of one word, a lowly person to be held in
reverence, initiate him who is deprived into the world of the spirit,
impart hope to the despondent, endow the portionless one with a share of
the great bestowal, and confer knowledge and insight upon the ignorant and
the blind, and alertness and vigilance on the indolent and heedless. This
is the attribute of the handmaidens of the Merciful. This is the
characteristic of the bondsmaids of God’s Threshold.

O ye leaves who have attained certitude! In the countries of Europe and
America the maidservants of the Merciful have won the prize of excellence
and advancement from the arena of men, and in the fields of teaching and
spreading the divine fragrances they have shown a brilliant hand. Soon
they will soar like the birds of the Concourse on high in the far corners
of the world and will guide the people and reveal to them the divine
mysteries. Ye, who are the blessed leaves from the East, should burn more
brightly, and engage in spreading the sweet savours of the Lord and in
reciting the verses of God. Arise, therefore, and exert yourselves to
fulfil the exhortations and counsels of the Blessed Beauty, that all hopes
may be realized and that the plain of streams and orchards may become the
garden of oneness.

Upon ye, men and women, be the glory of glories.

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian) [96]



97: In this great Cycle and wondrous Dispensation some women have been
raised...


In this great Cycle and wondrous Dispensation some women have been raised
up who were the emblems of unity and ensigns of oneness, for the
revelation of divine bestowals is received by men and women in equal
measure. “Verily the most honoured in the sight of God is the most
virtuous amongst you”(5) is applicable to both men and women, to servants
and handmaidens. All are under the shadow of the Word of God and all
derive their strength from the bounties of the Lord. Therefore, do not
consider thyself to be insignificant by doubting what a handmaiden living
behind the veil can do....

With a firm heart, a steadfast step and an eloquent tongue arise to spread
the Word of God and say: “O God, although I am sitting concealed behind
the screen of chastity and am restricted by the veil and exigencies of
modesty, my cherished hope is to raise the banner of service and to become
a maidservant at Thy Holy Threshold; to ride on a charger and penetrate
the army of the ignorant, defeat the mighty regiments and subvert the
foundations of error and violation. Thou art the Helper of the weak, Thou
art the Sustainer of the poor, Thou art the Succourer of the handmaidens.
Verily, Thou art the Almighty and All-Powerful.”

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian) [97]



98: Confirmations from the kingdom of God will assuredly be received,
enabling...


Confirmations from the kingdom of God will assuredly be received, enabling
some radiant leaves to appear resplendent in the assemblage of this world
with clear proofs and convincing reasons, which will adorn the cause of
womanhood. They will prove that in this cycle women are equal to men, nay,
in certain respects they will excel. 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, Jináb-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. O radiant leaves, I swear by the
Beauty of the Desired One and the Mystery of Existence that if ye work
actively in this realm, the outpourings of the Blessed Beauty will reflect
as the sun in the mirrors of the hearts. Your progress will astonish all.

The attracted leaves should not, when associating with each other, talk
merely about the temperature of the weather, the coldness of the water,
the beauty of the flowers and gardens, the freshness of the grass and the
flowing water. They should rather restrict their discussions to
glorification and praise and the uttering of proofs and reasons, to
quoting verses and traditions and putting forth clear testimonies, so that
all the homes of the loved ones will be converted into gathering places
for lessons on teaching the Cause.

If ye do so, in a short while the outpourings of the Kingdom will be so
manifested that each one of the handmaidens of the Merciful will become a
perspicuous book revealing the mysteries of the Lord of Mercy.

Upon you be the glory of glories.

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian) [98]



99: In this wondrous Dispensation the favours of the Glorious Lord are
vouchsafed...


In this wondrous Dispensation the favours of the Glorious Lord are
vouchsafed unto the handmaidens of the Merciful. Therefore, they should,
like unto men, seize the prize and excel in the field, so that it will be
proven and made manifest that the penetrative influence of the Word of God
in this new Dispensation hath caused women to be equal with men, and that
in the arena of tests they will outdo others. Therefore, the true
bondsmaids of the Blessed Beauty must be revived by the spirit of
detachment, and refreshed by the breezes of attraction. With hearts
overflowing with the love of God, with souls gladdened by the heavenly
glad-tidings, and with extreme humility and lowliness, let them speak out
with eloquent speech, and praise and glorify the Great Lord, for they are
the manifestations of His bounty and adorned with the crown of splendour.

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian) [99]



100: Blessed, blessed are ye for ye have arranged spiritual meetings
and...


Blessed, blessed are ye for ye have arranged spiritual meetings and
engaged in propounding divine proofs and evidences. Ye are intent on
vindicating truth in support of the manifest Light of the Cause, through
conclusive arguments and proofs based on the sacred scriptures of the
past. This is a very noble aim, and this cherished hope a cause of the
illumination of all peoples and nations.

From the beginning of existence until the present day, in any of the past
cycles and dispensations, no assemblies for women have ever been
established and classes for the purpose of spreading the teachings were
never held by them. This is one of the characteristics of this glorious
Dispensation and this great century. Ye should, most certainly, strive to
perfect this assemblage and increase your knowledge of the realities of
heavenly mysteries, so that, God willing, in a short time, women will
become the same as men; they will take a leading position amongst the
learned, will each have a fluent tongue and eloquent speech, and shine
like unto lamps of guidance throughout the world. In some respects, women
have astonishing capacities; they hasten in their attraction to God, and
are intense in their fiery ardour for Him.

In brief, spend your nights and days in the study of the holy Utterances
and in acquiring perfections. Occupy yourselves always in discussing these
matters. When ye meet each other, convey the glad-tidings and impart hope
to one another because of the confirmations and bounties of the Ancient
and Ever-Living Lord. Let each set forth proofs and evidences, and talk
about the mysteries of the Kingdom, so that the true and divine Spirit may
permeate the body of the contingent world and the secrets of all things,
whether of the past or of the future, may become openly manifest and
resplendent.

O loved handmaidens of God! Consider not your present merits and
capacities, rather fix your gaze on the favours and confirmations of the
Blessed Beauty, because His everlasting grace will make of the
insignificant plant a blessed tree, will turn the mirage into cool water
and wine; will cause the forsaken atom to become the very essence of
being, the puny one erudite in the school of knowledge. It enableth a
thorny bush to give forth blossoms, and the dark earth to produce fragrant
and rich hyacinths. It will transmute the stone into a ruby of great
price, and fill the sea shells with brilliant pearls. It will assist a
fledgling schoolchild to become a learned teacher and enable a frail
embryo to reveal the reality of the verse: “Hallowed be the Lord, the Most
Excellent of all creators.”(6) Verily, my Lord is powerful over things.

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian) [100]



101: In this day the duty of everyone, whether man or woman, is to teach
the Cause....


In this day the duty of everyone, whether man or woman, is to teach the
Cause. In America, the women have outdone the men in this regard and have
taken the lead in this field. They strive harder in guiding the peoples of
the world, and their endeavours are greater. They are confirmed by divine
bestowals and blessings. It is my hope that in the East the handmaids of
the Merciful will also exert such effort, reveal their powers, and
manifest their capacities....

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian) [101]



102: Now is the time to speak forth and to deliver speeches, the time to
teach...


Now is the time to speak forth and to deliver speeches, the time to teach
and to give testimony. Loosen thy tongue, expound the truths, and
establish the validity of the verse: “The All-Merciful hath taught the
Qur’án.”(7) The Holy Spirit speaketh through the innermost essence of the
human tongue, God’s Spirit which desireth communion with the human soul
unfoldeth the truths, the Faithful Spirit writeth down and the Spirit of
the Ancient of Days confirmeth. I swear by that Peerless Beauty, Who is in
the Unseen Kingdom, that when the leaves loose their tongues in praise and
glorification of the All-Loving Lord, and in teaching the Cause of the
Kind Lord, the concourse of the Kingdom and the inmates of the Unseen
Realms will give ear, and cry out with exclamations of extreme joy and
jubilation.

Glory be upon thee and upon every handmaiden who is steadfast in the
Covenant.

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian) [102]



103: O handmaid of God!... To the mothers must be given the divine
Teachings...


O handmaid of God!... To the mothers must be given the divine Teachings
and effective counsel, and they must be encouraged and made eager to train
their children, for the mother is the first educator of the child. It is
she who must, at the very beginning, suckle the new-born at the breast of
God’s Faith and God’s Law, that divine love may enter into him even with
his mother’s milk, and be with him till his final breath.

So long as the mother faileth to train her children, and start them on a
proper way of life, the training which they receive later on will not take
its full effect. It is incumbent upon the Spiritual Assemblies to provide
the mothers with a well-planned programme for the education of children,
showing how, from infancy, the child must be watched over and taught.
These instructions must be given to every mother to serve her as a guide,
so that each will train and nurture her children in accordance with the
Teachings.

(“Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá” [rev. ed.], (Haifa: Bahá’í
World Centre, 1982), sec. 113, p. 138) [103]



104: ...we must not make distinctions between individual members of the
human...


...we must not make distinctions between individual members of the human
family. We must not consider any soul as barren or deprived. Our duty lies
in educating souls so that the Sun of the bestowals of God shall become
resplendent in them, and this is possible through the power of the oneness
of humanity. The more love is expressed among mankind and the stronger the
power of unity, the greater will be this reflection and revelation, for
the greatest bestowal of God is love. Love is the source of all the
bestowals of God. Until love takes possession of the heart, no other
divine bounty can be revealed in it.

(“The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912”, p. 15) [104]



105: In brief, the assumption of superiority by man will continue to be
depressing...


In brief, the assumption of superiority by man will continue to be
depressing to the ambition of woman, as if her attainment to equality was
creationally impossible; woman’s aspiration toward advancement will be
checked by it, and she will gradually become hopeless. 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. If a pupil
is told that his intelligence is less than his fellow pupils, it is a very
great drawback and handicap to his progress. He must be encouraged to
advance by the statement, “You are most capable, and if you endeavour, you
will attain the highest degree.”

(“The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912”, pp. 76–77)
[105]



106: The purpose, in brief, is this: that if woman be fully educated
and...


The purpose, in brief, is this: that if woman be fully educated and
granted her rights, she will attain the capacity for wonderful
accomplishments and prove herself the equal of man. She is the coadjutor
of man, his complement and helpmeet....

(“The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912”, p. 136) [106]



107: The realities of things have been revealed in this radiant century,
and...


The realities of things have been revealed in this radiant century, and
that which is true must come to the surface. Among these realities is the
principle of the equality of man and woman—equal rights and prerogatives
in all things appertaining to humanity. Bahá’u’lláh declared this reality
over fifty years ago. But while this principle of equality is true, it is
likewise true that woman must prove her capacity and aptitude, must show
forth the evidences of equality. She must become proficient in the arts
and sciences and prove by her accomplishments that her abilities and
powers have merely been latent. Demonstrations of force, such as are now
taking place in England, are neither becoming nor effective in the cause
of womanhood and equality. Woman must especially devote her energies and
abilities toward the industrial and agricultural sciences, seeking to
assist mankind in that which is most needful. By this means she will
demonstrate capability and ensure recognition of equality in the social
and economic equation. Undoubtedly God will confirm her in her efforts and
endeavours, for in this century of radiance Bahá’u’lláh has proclaimed the
reality of the oneness of the world of humanity and announced that all
nations, peoples and races are one....

(“The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912”, pp. 283–84)
[107]



108: Equality of the sexes will be established in proportion to the
increased...


Equality of the sexes will be established in proportion to the increased
opportunities afforded woman in this age, for man and woman are equally
the recipients of powers and endowments from God, the Creator. God has not
ordained distinction between them in His consummate purpose.

(“The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912”, p. 300) [108]



109: Woman must endeavour then to attain greater perfection, to be man’s
equal...


Woman must endeavour then to attain greater perfection, to be man’s equal
in every respect, to make progress in all in which she has been backward,
so that man will be compelled to acknowledge her equality of capacity and
attainment.

In Europe women have made greater progress than in the East, but there is
still much to be done! When students have arrived at the end of their
school term an examination takes place, and the result thereof determines
the knowledge and capacity of each student. So will it be with woman; her
actions will show her power, there will no longer be any need to proclaim
it by words.

It is my hope that women of the East, as well as their Western sisters,
will progress rapidly until humanity shall reach perfection.

God’s Bounty is for all and gives power for all progress. When men own the
equality of women there will be no need for them to struggle for their
rights! One of the principles then of Bahá’u’lláh is the equality of sex.

Women must make the greatest effort to acquire spiritual power and to
increase in the virtue of wisdom and holiness until their enlightenment
and striving succeeds in bringing about the unity of mankind. They must
work with a burning enthusiasm to spread the Teaching of Bahá’u’lláh among
the peoples, so that the radiant light of the Divine Bounty may envelop
the souls of all the nations of the world!

(“Paris Talks: Addresses given by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Paris in 1911–1912”, pp.
162–63) [109]



Extracts From Letters Written by Shoghi Effendi:



110: Regarding the position of the Bahá’í women in India and Burma, and
their...


Regarding the position of the Bahá’í women in India and Burma, and their
future collaboration with the men in the administrative work of the Cause,
I feel that the time is now ripe that those women who have already
conformed to the prevailing custom in India and Burma by discarding the
veil should not only be given the right to vote for the election of their
local and national representatives, but should themselves be eligible to
the membership of all Bahá’í Assemblies throughout India and Burma, be
they local or national.

This definite and most important step, however, should be taken with the
greatest care and caution, prudence and thoughtfulness. Due regard must be
paid to their actual capacity and present attainments, and only those who
are best qualified for membership, be they men or women, and irrespective
of social standing, should be elected to the extremely responsible
position of a member of the Bahá’í Assembly.

This momentous decision, I trust, will prove to be a great incentive to
the women Bahá’ís throughout India and Burma who, I hope, will now bestir
themselves and endeavour to the best of their ability to acquire a better
and more profound knowledge of the Cause, to take a more active and
systematic part in the general affairs of the Movement, and prove
themselves in every way enlightened, responsible and efficient co-workers
to their fellow-men in their common task for the advancement of the Cause
throughout their country.

May they fully realize their high responsibilities in this day, may they
do all in their power to justify the high hopes we cherish for their
future, and may they prove themselves in every respect worthy of the noble
mission which the Bahá’í world is now entrusting to their charge.

(27 December 1923 to the National Spiritual Assembly of India and Burma)
[110]



111: Full rights have been accorded to Bahá’í women residing in the cradle
of the...


Full rights have been accorded to Bahá’í women residing in the cradle of
the Faith, to participate in the membership of both national and local
Bahá’í Spiritual Assemblies, removing thereby the last remaining obstacle
to the enjoyment of complete equality of rights in the conduct of the
administrative affairs of the Persian Bahá’í Community.

(April 1954, published in “Messages to the Bahá’í World 1950–1957”
(Wilmette: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1971), p. 65) [111]



113: That the members of this community, of either sex and of every age,
of...


That the members of this community, of either sex and of every age, of
whatever race or background, however limited in experience, capacity and
knowledge, may arise as one man, and seize with both hands the God-given
opportunities now presented to them through the dispensations of an
all-loving, ever-watchful, ever-sustaining Providence, and lend thereby a
tremendous impetus to the propelling forces mysteriously guiding the
operations of this newly-launched, unspeakably potent, world-encompassing
Crusade, is one of the dearest wishes which a loving and longing heart
holds for them at this great turning point in the fortunes of the Faith of
Bahá’u’lláh in the American continent.

(20 June 1954 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States,
published in “Citadel of Faith: Messages to America 1947–1957” (Wilmette:
Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1980), p. 132) [112]



Extracts From Letters and a Telex Written by the Universal House of
Justice:


Concerning the point you raised in your letter ... that the women’s
liberation movement in ... is assuming extreme positions which are having
some influence on impressionable Bahá’í young women, we feel it would be
helpful if your Assembly were to stress the unique position that women
occupy by being members of the Bahá’í Faith particularly through
participation in the administration of its affairs on both a local and
national scale.

(9 April 1971 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States)
[113]



114: ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has pointed out that “Among the miracles which
distinguish...


‘Abdu’l-Bahá has pointed out that “Among the miracles which distinguish
this sacred dispensation is this, that women have evinced a greater
boldness than men when enlisted in the ranks of the Faith.” Shoghi Effendi
has further stated that this “boldness” must, in the course of time, “be
more convincingly demonstrated, and win for the beloved Cause victories
more stirring than any it has as yet achieved.” Although obviously the
entire Bahá’í world is committed to encouraging and stimulating the vital
rôle of women in the Bahá’í community as well as in society at large, the
Five Year Plan calls specifically on eighty National Spiritual Assemblies
to organize Bahá’í activities for women. In the course of the current year
which has been designated “International Women’s Year” as a world-wide
activity of the United Nations, the Bahá’ís, particularly in these eighty
national communities, should initiate and implement programs which will
stimulate and promote the full and equal participation of women in all
aspects of Bahá’í community life, so that through their accomplishments
the friends will demonstrate the distinction of the Cause of God in this
field of human endeavour.

(25 May 1975 to all National Spiritual Assemblies) [114]



115: PARTICULARLY CALL UPON BAHÁ’Í WOMEN, WHOSE CAPACITIES IN MANY LANDS
STILL...


PARTICULARLY CALL UPON BAHÁ’Í WOMEN, WHOSE CAPACITIES IN MANY LANDS STILL
LARGELY UNUSED, AND WHOSE POTENTIAL FOR SERVICE CAUSE SO GREAT, TO ARISE
AND DEMONSTRATE IMPORTANCE PART THEY ARE TO PLAY IN ALL FIELDS SERVICE
FAITH.

(24 March 1977 to all National Spiritual Assemblies) [115]



116: The youth have long been in the forefront of the teaching work, and
now our...


The youth have long been in the forefront of the teaching work, and now
our hearts rejoice to see the women, in so many lands where previously
their capacities were largely left unused, devoting their capable services
to the life of the Bahá’í community....

(Ridván 1978 to the International Bahá’í Convention) [116]



117: At the heart of all activities, the spiritual, intellectual and
community...


At the heart of all activities, the spiritual, intellectual and community
life of the believers must be developed and fostered, requiring: the
prosecution with increased vigour of the development of Local Spiritual
Assemblies so that they may exercise their beneficial influence and
guidance on the life of Bahá’í communities; the nurturing of a deeper
understanding of Bahá’í family life; the Bahá’í education of children,
including the holding of regular Bahá’í classes and, where necessary, the
establishment of tutorial schools for the provision of elementary
education; the encouragement of Bahá’í youth in study and service; and the
encouragement of Bahá’í women to exercise to the full their privileges and
responsibilities in the work of the community—may they befittingly bear
witness to the memory of the Greatest Holy Leaf, the immortal heroine of
the Bahá’í Dispensation, as we approach the fiftieth anniversary of her
passing.

(Naw-Rúz 1979 to the Bahá’ís of the World) [117]



118: The equality of men and women is not, at the present time,
universally applied....


The equality of men and women is not, at the present time, universally
applied. In those areas where traditional inequality still hampers its
progress we must take the lead in practising this Bahá’í principle. Bahá’í
women and girls must be encouraged to take part in the social, spiritual
and administrative activities of their communities....

(Ridván 1984 to the Bahá’ís of the World) [118]



119: Calling upon local and national Bahá’í communities to sponsor a
wide...


Calling upon local and national Bahá’í communities to sponsor a wide range
of activities which will engage the attention of people from all walks of
life to various topics relevant to peace, such as: the role of women...

(23 January 1985 to all National Spiritual Assemblies) [119]



Extracts From Letters Written on Behalf of the Universal House of Justice:



120: The House of Justice regards the need to educate and guide women in
their...


The House of Justice regards the need to educate and guide women in their
primary responsibility as mothers as an excellent opportunity for
organizing women’s activities. Your efforts should focus on helping them
in their function as educators of the rising generation....

(29 February 1984 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Mariana
Islands) [120]



121: The principle of the equality between women and men, like the
other...


The principle of the equality between women and men, like the other
teachings of the Faith, can be effectively and universally established
among the friends when it is pursued in conjunction with all the other
aspects of Bahá’í life. Change is an evolutionary process requiring
patience with one’s self and others, loving education and the passage of
time as the believers deepen their knowledge of the principles of the
Faith, gradually discard long-held traditional attitudes and progressively
conform their lives to the unifying teachings of the Cause.

(25 July 1984 to an individual believer) [121]



VI. BIBLIOGRAPHY



BIBLIOGRAPHY


Bahá’u’lláh. “The Hidden Words”. London: National Spiritual Assembly of
the British Isles, 1949.

Bahá’u’lláh. “Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh revealed after the Kitáb-i-Aqdas”,
Haifa: Bahá’í World Centre, 1978.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá. “Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá”. Haifa:
Bahá’í World Centre, 1978.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá. “The Promulgation of Universal Peace”. Wilmette: Bahá’í
Publishing Trust, 1982.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá. “Paris Talks”. London: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1961.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá. “‘Abdu’l-Bahá in London”. London: Bahá’í Publishing Trust,
1982.

Shoghi Effendi. “Messages to the Bahá’í World, 1950–1957”. Wilmette:
Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1971.

Shoghi Effendi. “Citadel of Faith”. Wilmette: Bahá’í Publishing Trust,
1980.

“Bahá’í Education, a compilation”. Haifa: Bahá’í World Centre, 1976.

“Family Life”, 1982 U.K. Publishing Trust, p. 8

“‘Abdu’l-Bahá on Divine Philosophy”, compiled by Isobel F. Chamberlain,
Boston: The Tudor Press, 1917.

Esslemont, John Ebenezer. “Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era”, Wilmette: Bahá’í
Publishing Trust, 1976.

Revised July 1990



FOOTNOTES


    1 This Tablet was addressed to one Mrs. Pocohontas in Washington.
      According to Fádil Mazandarání, the recipient of the Tablet was a
      black woman. See “Tárí-i-Zuhúu’l-Ḥaq”, vol. 8, part 2, p. 1209
      (Ṭihrán: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 132 B.E.). Additional information
      provided by the Archives of the National Spiritual Assembly of the
      United States indicates that Mr. Louis Gregory, in a history of the
      Washington, D.C. Bahá’í community, mentions a black Bahá’í, Mrs.
      Pocohontas Pope, who is likely the same person. Mrs. Pope learned of
      the Bahá’í Faith through Alma and Fanny Knobloch and Joseph and
      Pauline Hannen. There is, at present no other information on Mrs.
      Pope.

    2 From other extracts it is evident that the limitation of membership
      to men applies only to the Universal House of Justice, and not to
      the National and Local Houses of Justice.

    3 This passage appears in the present compilation under Section IV.,
      page 21.

    4 The quotation in the original letter which was taken from “Paris
      Talks”, p. 182, has been replaced by this revised translation.

    5 Qur’án 49:13.

    6 Qur’án 23:14.

    7 Qur’án 55:2.





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