A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Father Husband

A God that is only loving or only just is not a perfect God. The divinity has to possess both of these aspects as every father ought to express both in his attitude towards his children. If we ponder a while, we will see that our welfare can be insured only when both of these divine attributes are equally emphasised and practiced.
(Shoghi Effendi, Arohanui - Letters to New Zealand, p. 32)


Among the Divine Texts as set forth in the Most Holy Book and also in other Tablets is this: 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. Should the parents be unable to comply, let the House of Justice take over the education of their children; in no case is a child to be left without an education. This is one of the stringent and inescapable commandments to neglect which would draw down the wrathful indignation of Almighty God.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 127-128)


Beware lest ye commit that which would sadden the hearts of your fathers and mothers. Follow ye the path of Truth which indeed is a straight path. Should anyone give you a choice between the opportunity to render a service to Me and a service to them, choose ye to serve them, and let such service be a path leading you to Me. This is My exhortation and command unto thee. Observe therefore that which thy Lord, the Mighty, the Gracious, hath prescribed unto thee.
(Bahá’u’lláh, Lights of Guidance, p. 229)


Clear it is that physical fatherhood and sonship are not factors of true import. Canaan was the son of Noah and Abraham was the son of Adhar. One father was a Prophet, but His son was disowned and cut off. Another father was an idolator, yet his Son was the great and exalted Friend ... Therefore be not saddened. Pray thou and supplicate at the threshold of the One True God, begging forgiveness for thine earthly father.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, quoted in H.M. Balyuzi, Eminent Bahá’ís in the Time of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 28)


Consider that if the mother is a believer, the children will become believers too, even if the father denieth the Faith; while, if the mother is not a believer, the children are deprived of faith, even if the father be a believer convinced and firm. Such is the usual outcome, except in rare cases. For this reason both fathers and mothers must carefully watch over their little daughters and have them thoroughly taught in the schools by highly qualified women teachers, so that they may familiarize themselves with all the sciences and arts and become acquainted with and reared in all that is necessary for human living, and will provide a family with comfort and joy.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Compilation of Compilations vol. I, p. 287)


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.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 133-134)



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.
(Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 225)


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.
(Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 626)


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) “A very important element in the attainment of such equality is Bahá’u’lláh’s provisions that boys and girls must follow essentially the same curriculum in schools.”
(Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 225)


It is highly important for man to raise a family. So long as he is young, because of youthful self-complacency, he does not realize its significance, but this will be a source of regret when he grows old.... In this glorious Cause the life of a married couple should resemble the life of the angels in heaven—a life full of joy and spiritual delight, a life of unity and concord, a friendship both mental and physical. The home should be orderly and well-organized. Their ideas and thoughts should be like the rays of the sun of truth and the radiance of the brilliant stars in the heavens. Even as two birds they should warble melodies upon the branches of the tree of fellowship and harmony. They should always be elated with joy and gladness and be a source of happiness to the hearts of others. They should set an example to their fellow-men, manifest a true and sincere love towards each other and educate their children in such a manner as to blazon the fame and glory of their family.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Lights of Guidance, p. 219)


It is in this context of mutual and complementary duties and responsibilities that one should read the Tablet in which ‘Abdu’l-Bahá gives the following exhortation:
O Handmaids of the Self- Sustaining Lord! Exert your efforts so that you may attain the honour and privilege ordained for women. Undoubtedly the greatest glory of women is servitude at His Threshold and submissiveness at His door; it is the possession of a vigilant heart, and praise of the incomparable God; it is heartfelt love towards other handmaids and spotless chastity; it is obedience to and consideration for their husbands and the education and care of their children; and it is tranquility, and dignity, perseverance in the remembrance of the Lord, and the utmost enkindlement and attraction.
(Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 225)


It is incumbent upon the father to choose for his daughter the glory that dieth not.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Rosenberg Tablet)


It is to be regretted, however, that her husband is still wrapped in the veils of his idle imaginings. If her dear daughter be trained according to the instructions of God, she will grow to be a peerless plant in the garden of the heart. It is incumbent upon the father to choose for his daughter the glory that dieth not. Nevertheless, this is up to him; he may educate her in any way he desireth.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Rosenberg Tablet)


O Muhammad! The Countenance of the Ancient of Days is turning towards thee, and He maketh mention of thee, and He commandeth the people of God to educate their children. Should the father neglect this weightiest of all concerns, which hath been revealed from the Pen of the Ancient King in the Most Holy Book, then his paternal right shall be forfeit and he shall be accounted guilty in the sight of God.
(Bahá’u’lláh, Extracts on Fatherhood in the Bahá’í Writings)


O dear one of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá! Be the son of thy father and be the fruit of that tree. Be a son that hath been born of his soul and heart and not only of water and clay. A real son is such one as hath branched from the spiritual part of man. I ask God that thou mayest be at all times confirmed and strengthened.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá", p. 140)


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.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 168)


Regarding thy question about consultation of a father with his son, or a son with his father, in matters of trade and commerce, consultation is one of the fundamental elements of the foundation of the Law of God. Such consultation is assuredly acceptable, whether between father and son, or with others. There is nothing better than this. Man must consult in all things for this will lead him to the depths of each problem and enable him to find the right solution.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Lights of Guidance, p. 228)


Say, O My people! Show honour to your parents and pay homage to them. This will cause blessings to descend upon you from the clouds of the bounty of your Lord, the Exalted, the Great.
(Bahá’u’lláh, Lights of Guidance, p. 229)


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 women is confined to the home. On the contrary, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has stated: In this Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh, the women go neck and neck with the men. In no movement will they be left behind. Their rights with men are equal in degree. They will enter all the administrative branches of politics. They will attain in all such a degree as will be considered the very highest station of the world of humanity and will take part in all affairs. 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;...
(Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 230)


Teach ye your children so that they may peruse the divine verses every morn and eve. God hath prescribed unto every father to educate his children, both boys and girls, in the sciences and in morals, and in crafts and professions. Thus have We instructed you in Our Most Holy Book, revealed by Us from Our all-hallowed Realm. Well is it with him who cleaveth fast to this with a power from Our own Self; he verily is a man related to this Station. Make ye an effort that there may issue forth from you that which befitteth the days of your God, the King before Whom all heads bow down.
(Bahá’u’lláh, The Compilation of Compilations vol. I, p. 1)


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.
(Universal House of Justice, The Compilation of Compilations vol II, p. 383)


The Research Department has not come across any statements which specifically name the father as responsible for the “security, progress and unity of the family” as is stated in Bahiyyih Nakhjavani’s book, but it can be inferred from a number of the responsibilities placed on him, that the father can be regarded as the “head” of the family. The members of the 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 the 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 the 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. This principle of the husband’s responsibility to provide for and protect the family can be seen applied also in the law of intestacy which provides that the family’s dwelling place passes, on the father’s death, not to his widow, but to his eldest son; the son at the same time has the responsibility to care for his mother.
(The Universal House of Justice, 1980 Dec 28, The Relationship Between Husband and Wife)



The concept of a Bahá’í family is based on the principle that the man is charged with the responsibility of supporting the entire family financially, and the woman is the chief and primary educator of the children. This does not mean that these functions are inflexibly fixed and cannot be changed and adjusted to suit particular family situations. Furthermore, while primary responsibility is assigned, it is anticipated that fathers would play a significant role in the education of the children and women would be breadwinners.
(Universal House of Justice, Messages 1963 to 1986, p. 633)


The father must always endeavour to educate his son and to acquaint him with the heavenly teachings. He must give him advice and exhort him at all times, teach him praiseworthy conduct and character, enable him to receive training at school and to be instructed in such arts and sciences as are deemed useful and necessary. In brief, let him instil into his mind the virtues and perfections of the world of humanity. Above all he should continually call to his mind the remembrance of God so that his throbbing veins and arteries may pulsate with the love of God.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Lights of Guidance, p. 229)


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 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.
(Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 626)


The son, on the other hand, must show forth the utmost obedience towards his father, and should conduct himself as a humble and a lowly servant. Day and night he should seek diligently to ensure the comfort and welfare of his loving father and to secure his good-pleasure. He must forgo his own rest and enjoyment and constantly strive to bring gladness to the hearts of his father and mother, that thereby he may attain the good-pleasure of the Almighty and be graciously aided by the hosts of the unseen.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Lights of Guidance, p. 229)



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 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.
(Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 230)


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. 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 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.
(Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 230)


This exhortation to the utmost degree of spirituality and self-abnegation should not be read as a legal definition giving the husband absolute authority over his wife, for, in a letter written to an individual believer on 22 July 1943, the beloved Guardian’s secretary wrote on his behalf: ‘The Guardian,in his remarks...about parents and children, wives and husbands’ relations in America meant that there is a tendency in that country for children to be too independent of the wishes of their parents and lacking in the respect due to them. Also wives, in some cases, have a tendency to exert an unjust degree of domination over their husbands which, of course, is not right, anymore than that the husband should unjustly dominate the wife.
(Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 225)



Unto every father hath been enjoined the instruction of his son and daughter in the art of reading and writing and in all that hath been laid down in the Holy Tablet. He that putteth away that which is commanded unto him, the Trustees are then to take from him that which is required for their instruction, if he be wealthy, and if not the matter devolveth upon the House of Justice. Verily, have We made it a shelter for the poor and needy. He that bringeth up his son or the son of another, it is as though he hath brought up a son of Mine; upon him rest My Glory, My loving kindness, My Mercy, that have compassed the world.
(Bahá’u’lláh, A Synopsis and Codification of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, p. 15-16)


Verily, We have enjoined on every son to serve his father. Such is the decree which
We have set forth in the Book.
(Bahá’u’lláh, The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, p. 138)


Were there no educator, all souls would remain savage, and were it not for the teacher, the children would be ignorant creatures. It is for this reason that, in this new cycle, education and training are recorded in the Book of God as obligatory and not voluntary. That is, 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.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 126-127)


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‘.
(Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 626)


Ye should consider the question of goodly character as of the first importance. It is incumbent upon every father and mother to counsel their children over a long period, and guide them unto those things which lead to everlasting honour.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 134)