(Women) and Modesty in Bahai Faith

Dec 2017
1
Germany
#1
Dear community, I am Martin from Germany.

I am not a Bahai, but I am interested in this religion.

What I generally like about religions is the code of modesty like it exists in Christianity regarding nuns or in Islam when it comes to cover some parts of the body.

I see the concept of modesty important for both men and women.

What I read in Bahai scriptures is that also the Bahai Faith holds modesty as an important value and as a principle that should be followed.

The difference I see from Islam for example, as this is the religion which issues clear commandments regarding covering, is that the Bahai faith leaves the question of modesty and how to deal with it to the individual. Thats fine.

What I experienced sometimes in real life, when going to Bahai Centers or meetings or even videos, is that I find it a little bit strange how some Bahais deal with this matter. As I saw especially women very lightly dressed speaking to me about God and religious matters.

Please do not get me wrong. I do not blame these people or in this case these women. I do not see them inferior or any kind of stuff like that. Please do not misunderstand me.

I know that the Bahai Faith considers the spiritual development as more important than some formal issues regarding the body. As a sign of maturity for humanity these things are left to the individual.
I also believe that we can never judge a person on his outward appearance.

But what I also think is that humans are not angels, and so may understand situations like that in the wrong way.

When I think about a person teaching people about God, religion and moral principles I can not think of a person who is not dressed with "dignity" and "modesty". I know that sounds bad. I hope you understand what I mean.

Please allow me to give an example of a video which I watched about "Women and Bahai Faith".



I found the dress really inappropriate for a talk about religion.
It does not go in my mind. And this was my experience in real life also.

What I want to know is that shouldn´t Bahais be more aware of "modest" dressing or do I understand this concept in the wrong way?

By sharing this link I do not want to offend this woman or consider her inferior.
I just found it a good example to show you my feelings and my problem.

Please do not blame me as these are sincere questions of a seeker.

Thank you all!

Martin
 
Jul 2017
64
Germany
#2
Dear Martin,

herzlich willkommen im Forum ;-)

I don't think that anyone would blame you for putting forth serious questions. We are all seekers and nobody has the only saving answer to any question. We can only try to understand things more fully as before, sometimes through our own studies, sometimes through consultation with others. I understand your thread as a means to do the latter. So there's nothing to worry about.

I personally didn't make the kind of experiences you are describing. Coming from a liberal Christian family my experience was that the Bahá'í women I met were honestly trying to find a way which doesn't fit either one of the extremes. They were neither saucy nor unnecessarily old-fashioned like Jehovah's Witnesses or Baptists often are. Therefore I never had a reason to think about appropriate clothing more deeply. So thanks for the push.

May I ask from which background you are? Maybe this could help me to understand your experiences better. You can also answer me via pm in German.

Kind Regards
Sören
 
Sep 2017
320
Earth
#4
I can see your point .. not everybody is aligned perfectly with spirit of the faith and thats the way it is everybodys capacitys different only god can judge.
 
Jun 2014
1,021
Wisconsin
#5
So this is probably important: What do you define "modest" as??

Since "modesty" varies by culture to culture, it's probably important to establish a baseline. There's a difference in what is considered "modest" in, say, a tundra climate and what is considered "modest" in a subtropical or Savannah climate. Living in places where more clothes are necessary versus places where cooler dress is needed causes a vast difference in what is considered "modest" or not, and what parts of the body are considered private or sexual.

So we can know what you are talking about in specific: how are you defining the term??
 
Oct 2014
1,781
Stockholm
#6
Well, what strikes me in these leadership questions is the assumption that leadership is desirable, as if Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi strived for leadership, or that being a member of the Universal House of Justice could be something worth fighting for. :)

That's just so far beyond the point.

gnat
 
Mar 2013
526
Edwardsville, Illinois, USA
#7
Also, with respect to modesty of dress for women, the Baha'i teachings also put responsibility on men to not have impure thoughts and actions. So, while dressing modestly, women have no requirement to cover and hide themselves either. Men should see them as human beings with the same rights and deserving of respect for their talents and abilities and spiritual qualities.
 
Jun 2009
189
Florida
#8
Also, with respect to modesty of dress for women, the Baha'i teachings also put responsibility on men to not have impure thoughts and actions. So, while dressing modestly, women have no requirement to cover and hide themselves either. Men should see them as human beings with the same rights and deserving of respect for their talents and abilities and spiritual qualities.

I agree. It seems that Women are always to blame for what impure thoughts that men may have..
 
Last edited:
Oct 2014
1,781
Stockholm
#9
Well, indeed, there are those who put the responsibility on women - that it is their task to cover themselves, in order not to arouse improper feelings among men. That says a lot about what is expected from men in such case - that they are so full of hormones that they cannot control themselves.

gnat
 
Jun 2011
1,542
Somewhere "in this immensity"
#10
In my opinion, the dress of this woman would not meet the standard of modesty in accordance with my understanding of the teachings. Therefore, were I a woman, I would not dress in such a manner and certainly not in a place where I was explicitly attempting to represent the Faith. Perhaps for her, in accordance with her understanding of the teachings on modesty she feels her dress is appropriate.

That is the beauty of our faith and how it is applied. Each is expected to strive toward the Baha'i ideals in his or her own way and our focus tends to be on our own actions rather than those of others. Perhaps I would ask her about the teachings on modesty and discover there is a wisdom in her understanding that had not occurred to me before, or, perhaps she might reflect and discover that she was not in keeping with modesty and choose to make changes after having deepened on the subject. Either way, I would not feel it is for me to decide for her what constitutes modesty for herself or for any other Baha'is, for that matter.

I hope this helps!

Cheers
 

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