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

Men

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.
(Bahá’u’lláh, The Compilation of Compilations vol II, p. 379)


As you point out in your letter, the Universal House of Justice has stated that, by inference from a number of responsibilities placed upon him, the father can be regarded as the “head” of the family. However, this term does not have the same meaning as that used generally. Rather, a new meaning should be sought in the light of the principle of the equality between men and women, and of statements of the Universal House of Justice that neither husband nor wife should ever unjustly dominate the other. The House of Justice has stated previously, in response to a question from a believer, that use of the term “head” “does not confer superiority upon the husband, nor does it give him special rights to undermine the rights of the other members of the family”. It has also stated that if agreement cannot be reached following loving consultation, “there are 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"; this is in marked contrast to the conventional usage of the term “head” with which is associated, frequently, the unfettered right of making decisions when agreement cannot be reached between husband and wife.
(The Universal House of Justice, 1996 Jun 27, Monogamy, Equality of Sexes)


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.
(Universal House of Justice, The Compilation of Compilations vol II, p. 370)


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.
(Bahá’u’lláh, The Compilation of Compilations vol II, p. 357)


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.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Compilation of Compilations vol II, p. 359-360)


If a man in his own home doth not treat his relations and friends with entire trustworthiness and integrity, his dealings with the outside world—no matter how much trustworthiness and honesty he may bring to them—will prove barren and unproductive. First one should order one’s own domestic affairs, then attend to one’s business with the public.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Compilation of Compilations vol II, p. 339)


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?
(Bahá’u’lláh, from a newly translated Tablet)


It is incumbent upon the men of God’s House of Justice to fix their gaze by day and by night upon that which hath shone forth from the Pen of Glory for the training of peoples, the upbuilding of nations, the protection of man and the safeguarding of his honour.
(Bahá’u’lláh, Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh Revealed after the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, p. 125)


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.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 79-80)


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”.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 183-184)


Say: He is not to be numbered with the people of Bahá who followeth his mundane desires, or fixeth his heart on things of the earth. He is My true follower who, if he come to a valley of pure gold, will pass straight through it aloof as a cloud, and will neither turn back, nor pause. Such a man is, assuredly, of Me. From his garment the Concourse on high can inhale the fragrance of sanctity.... And if he met the fairest and most comely of women, he would not feel his heart seduced by the least shadow of desire for her beauty. Such an one, indeed, is the creation of spotless chastity. Thus instructeth you the Pen of the Ancient of Days, as bidden by your Lord, the Almighty, the All-Bountiful.
(Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 118)


The House of Justice has commented that this quotation on “obedience to and consideration for their husbands” is an exhortation and not an injunction. The House of Justice has further stated that, to use the human temple as the example, if the husband is the head, the wife can well be regarded as the heart of the family. When the husband and the wife work cooperatively and complementarily, the well-being, health and proper functioning of the unit can be ensured.
(Universal House of Justice, to an individual believer, 24 June 1985)


The House of Justice, however, according to the explicit text of the Law of God, is confined to men; this for a wisdom of the Lord God’s, which will ere-long be made manifest as clearly as the sun at high noon.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 79-80)


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.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 76)


The description of the husband as “head” of the family does not confer superiority upon the husband nor does it give him special rights to undermine the rights of the other members of his family.
(The Universal House of Justice, Messages 1963 to 1986, p. 633)


The family is likened to a special kind of community and the term “head” used in such a context, does not confer superiority upon the husband, nor does it give him special rights to undermine the rights of the other members of his family.
(Universal House of Justice, to an individual believer, 16 May 1982)


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.
(Bahá’u’lláh, The Compilation of Compilations vol II, p. 379)


The men of God’s House of Justice have been charged with the affairs of the people. They, in truth, are the Trustees of God among His servants and the daysprings of authority in His countries.
(Bahá’u’lláh, Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh Revealed after the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, p. 128)


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.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 76)


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 scales are already shifting—force is losing its weight and mental alertness, intuition, and the spiritual qualities of love and service, in which woman is strong, are gaining ascendency. 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 properly balanced.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Star of the West, vol. 3, no. 3 (28 April 1912), p. 4)


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.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 284)


When the House of Justice stated that the “father can be regarded as the ‘head’ of the family,” it was giving expression to its own inference as you indicate. This inference … is based on the clear and primary responsibility of the husband to provide for the financial support of the wife and family, and on the provisions of the law of intestacy, which assigns special functions and rights to the eldest son.
(The Universal House of Justice, Messages 1963 to 1986, p. 633)


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


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.”
(Universal House of Justice, The Compilation of Compilations vol II, p. 371)


You mention the provision in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas regarding inheritance, in which the eldest son receives preferential treatment. As you no doubt know, the duty of making a will is enjoined upon all Bahá’ís, and in such a will a believer is free to bequeath his or her property in whatever way he or she wishes (see note 25 on page 60 of the Synopsis and Codification). Every system of law, however, needs to make provision for the disposal of a person’s property if he or she dies without having made a will, and it is in cases of intestacy that the specific provisions stated in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas are applied. These provisions give expression to the law of primogeniture, which, as ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has stated, has invariably been upheld by the Law of God. In a Tablet to a follower of the Faith in Persia He wrote: “In all the Divine Dispensations the eldest son hath been given extraordinary distinctions. Even the station of prophethood hath been his birthright.” With the distinctions given to the eldest son, however, go concomitant duties. For example, with respect to the law of inheritance ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has explained in one of His Tablets that the eldest son has the responsibility to take into consideration the needs of the other heirs. Similar considerations no doubt apply to the provisions that, in intestacy, limit the shares due to half-brothers and half-sisters of the deceased on his or her mother’s side; they will, of course, be due to receive inheritance from their own father’s estate.
(The Universal House of Justice, Messages 1963 to 1986, p. 318-319)