Women as the highest authority in the Faith

Mar 2013
564
Edwardsville, Illinois, USA
#1
I was going to call this thread women on the UHJ, but that would have been misleading. What we know about that subject is that women do not serve on the UHJ, and we don't know why (but will at some point in the future).

But I was thinking, is there anything inherent about being a woman that would prevent her from serving on a body that forms the highest authority in the Faith? I would say not, because it has already happened. After the passing of the Guardian, the Hands of the Cause assumed that responsibility, constituting a body of nine Hands residing in the Holy Land that were Custodians of the Cause until the House of Justice could be elected. Although they did not have the authority of the Guardian or the UHJ, they had all the responsibility of making decisions that would affect the Cause, and they fulfilled that role heroically.

Then I also wondered if there is anything inherent in being a woman that would prevent her from bearing the indvidual responsibility of administering the affairs of the faith as the head (rather than as a member of a group). Well, that happened also.

After the passing of 'Abdu'l-Baha Shoghi Effendi was appointed Guardian, but the shock of learning of that awesome responsibility and also, the disunity and outright Covenent breaking that was occurring among the descendants of Baha'u'llah, Shoghi Effendi decided to leave for a extended period, and left Bahiyyah Khanum in charge:

"For this reason, unable to do otherwise, I have left for a time the affairs of the Cause both at home and abroad, under the supervision of the Holy Family and the headship of the Greatest Holy Leaf"


Thoughts?
 
Nov 2012
601
United States
#2
I don't know why, in terms of what is intrinsic about women that might prevent them from UHJ service.

I do think too much is made out of it. And it's ironic, because Western sensibilities tend to view and cast service with the UHJ in terms of "status," "authority" and "power."

The irony, of course, is that status, authority and power are Western, patriarchal constructs to begin with. So, the notion is, women aren't being treated "equally" in the Baha'i Faith, because they can't attain a station that is cast according to a fundamental misunderstanding. That being, casting it in patriarchal terms of "status" to begin with.

When, in fact, the Baha'i Faith envisions and creates a paradigm in which status and power are irrelevant to begin with. In other words, a paradigm that is fundamentally more feminine, and less masculine. After all, it is men, not women, who are naturally apt to be worried about and obsessed over "status." You know the age-old "is his bigger than mine? I have to make mine bigger" quandary that has galled male-kind since the cave man days.

Simply put, women have better things to think about than who is higher up the pole, or who has a "bigger one" than whoever else. So, again, in a more feminine, less masculine paradigm (which Abdul' Baha' promises we will have) -- the importance of "status" will wilt away.

From a Baha'i perspective, being on the UHJ isn't about status, privilege, power or authority. Rather it is a term of duty, sacrifice, even a perhaps a burden.

So, from that perspective, it's not a "status" women are denied (the whole idea of "status" being a patriarchal construct to begin with). Rather, it could be viewed as a duty and burden, from which women are absolved or excused. One less thing for them to worry about, if you will. Because again, women have more important things to think about and work on.

Back to the "why" part of it: I do know, men and women tend to think very differently. For example, men tend more toward linear, logical thinking -- and women more toward intuitive, inter-connected thinking.

An A-to-B and so on to-Z pattern of thought, verses a more free-flowing "web" pattern of thought... so to speak. Men might be better at strategic and dispassionate problem solving, but women are better at thinking outside of the box, and finding ways to make square pegs fit into round holes.

But how that might relate to the UHJ, again, I'm not sure.
 
Last edited:
Oct 2011
4,213
Quilimari,Chile
#3
Beloved friends

I like very much the thoughts expressed by you both, giving possible insights into something that we will be shown in time.
The secret is we will be shown in time, this is a promise we have been given.
And yes to serve on the institutions are not positions of power, far far from it, they are SERVICE and SACRIFICE.
 
Jun 2006
4,317
California
#4
Well the writings to support the equality of men and women but one element for Baha'is that may not be discussed so often is the following ...

In short, the meaning of "He doeth whatsoever He willeth" is that if the Manifestation says something, or gives a command, or performs an action, and believers do not understand its wisdom, they still ought not to oppose it by a single thought, seeking to know why He spoke so, or why He did such a thing. The other souls who are under the shadow of the supreme Manifestations are submissive to the commandments of the Law of God, and are not to deviate as much as a hairsbreadth from it; they must conform their acts and words to the Law of God. If they do deviate from it, they will be held responsible and reproved in the presence of God. It is certain that they have no share in the permission "He doeth whatsoever He willeth," for this condition is peculiar to the supreme Manifestations.

~ Abdu'l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, p. 173

One could also suggest that it was through the symbol of the Maid of Heaven that revelation came...

and

Cry out before the gaze of the dwellers of heaven and of earth: I am the Maid of Heaven, the Offspring begotten by the Spirit of Baha. My habitation is the Mansion of His Name, the All-Glorious.

~ Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 283)


The Maids of Heaven, inmates of the loftiest mansions, will circle around it, and the Prophets of God and His chosen ones will seek its companionship. With them that soul will freely converse, and will recount unto them that which it hath been made to endure in the path of God, the Lord of all worlds.

~ Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 156

So the feminine has indeed a high place!
 
Mar 2013
564
Edwardsville, Illinois, USA
#5
Well the writings to support the equality of men and women but one element for Baha'is that may not be discussed so often is the following ...

In short, the meaning of "He doeth whatsoever He willeth" is that if the Manifestation says something, or gives a command, or performs an action, and believers do not understand its wisdom, they still ought not to oppose it by a single thought, seeking to know why He spoke so, or why He did such a thing. The other souls who are under the shadow of the supreme Manifestations are submissive to the commandments of the Law of God, and are not to deviate as much as a hairsbreadth from it; they must conform their acts and words to the Law of God. If they do deviate from it, they will be held responsible and reproved in the presence of God. It is certain that they have no share in the permission "He doeth whatsoever He willeth," for this condition is peculiar to the supreme Manifestations.

~ Abdu'l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, p. 173

One could also suggest that it was through the symbol of the Maid of Heaven that revelation came...

and

Cry out before the gaze of the dwellers of heaven and of earth: I am the Maid of Heaven, the Offspring begotten by the Spirit of Baha. My habitation is the Mansion of His Name, the All-Glorious.

~ Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 283)


The Maids of Heaven, inmates of the loftiest mansions, will circle around it, and the Prophets of God and His chosen ones will seek its companionship. With them that soul will freely converse, and will recount unto them that which it hath been made to endure in the path of God, the Lord of all worlds.

~ Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 156

So the feminine has indeed a high place!
Yes, the imagery of the Maid of Heaven is intriguing, but it would be hard to say she is female if there is no gender in the spiritual worlds, but still feminine?
 
Jun 2009
473
earth
#6
There is a reference I have read some time ago about the reason for women not serving on the House of Justice becoming clear in years to come.

I agree with mytmouse57 about being elected to the Universal House of Justice being a service and a sacrifice. It may well be a blessing that women are spared that rather than being denied power! It could be that this rule is not about the potential of women at all.

In this creation, men are denied the task of being pregnant. It seems it's daft to complain that that is inequality. This goes along with the notion of equality being different to being the same.
 
May 2013
1,786
forest falls california
#7
The Butler did it

Yes, the imagery of the Maid of Heaven is intriguing, but it would be hard to say she is female if there is no gender in the spiritual worlds, but still feminine?
>>> Ok, now where was that verse regarding the Butler??? ;-X
 
Nov 2012
601
United States
#8
Well the writings to support the equality of men and women but one element for Baha'is that may not be discussed so often is the following ...

In short, the meaning of "He doeth whatsoever He willeth" is that if the Manifestation says something, or gives a command, or performs an action, and believers do not understand its wisdom, they still ought not to oppose it by a single thought, seeking to know why He spoke so, or why He did such a thing. The other souls who are under the shadow of the supreme Manifestations are submissive to the commandments of the Law of God, and are not to deviate as much as a hairsbreadth from it; they must conform their acts and words to the Law of God. If they do deviate from it, they will be held responsible and reproved in the presence of God. It is certain that they have no share in the permission "He doeth whatsoever He willeth," for this condition is peculiar to the supreme Manifestations.

~ Abdu'l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, p. 173

One could also suggest that it was through the symbol of the Maid of Heaven that revelation came...

and

Cry out before the gaze of the dwellers of heaven and of earth: I am the Maid of Heaven, the Offspring begotten by the Spirit of Baha. My habitation is the Mansion of His Name, the All-Glorious.

~ Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 283)


The Maids of Heaven, inmates of the loftiest mansions, will circle around it, and the Prophets of God and His chosen ones will seek its companionship. With them that soul will freely converse, and will recount unto them that which it hath been made to endure in the path of God, the Lord of all worlds.

~ Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 156

So the feminine has indeed a high place!
I think think the feminine energy is ultimately more powerful than the masculine.

It's little wonder, the world will become more feminine as it matures.
 
Nov 2012
601
United States
#9
There is a reference I have read some time ago about the reason for women not serving on the House of Justice becoming clear in years to come.

I agree with mytmouse57 about being elected to the Universal House of Justice being a service and a sacrifice. It may well be a blessing that women are spared that rather than being denied power! It could be that this rule is not about the potential of women at all.

In this creation, men are denied the task of being pregnant. It seems it's daft to complain that that is inequality. This goes along with the notion of equality being different to being the same.
I think truly strong women want to be respected as women, and to gain equality by having woman-kind valued in society as much as man-kind.

Not to be "equal," by essentially becoming men.

Hell, that would be a step down for most women. ;)
 

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