Women on the UHJ

Jun 2014
1,112
Wisconsin
Since @ahanu references it, I must confess, that of all the things 'Abdu'l-Baha has said or supposedly said, the one thing I've found that I cannot agree with is this:

"The most momentous question of this day is international peace and arbitration, and universal peace is impossible without universal suffrage. … the mothers will not sanction war nor be satisfied with it. 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; for woman will be the obstacle and hindrance to it. This is true and without doubt."

Of course, since it merely a report of what he said, there is a chance that he has not actually said it, or the words have been misreported or misremembered, but this statement attributed to 'Abdu'l-Baha is observably false. Women are not inherently anti-war, which I feel is a shame given that, if they were truly anti-war, it would be a great thing.

The reasoning 'Abdu'l-Baha gives in the full quote is that mothers don't want to see their sons die. But the same is true of fathers. And certainly men don't want to see themselves die. So if this reasoning was sound, men would be the more anti-war gender.

But in my country women are the majority of the voters. Has this ended war?? No, it has not. In fact, my country appears to be the most warlike on this planet at this time. Women have not been an obstacle at all to my country's war machine, and this is true and without doubt.

And I've seen a women-focused all-female news show, wherein the all female hosts shouted down and slandered an anti-war politician, accusing that politician of sympathizing with tyrants for merely not wanting to be in a state of endless war.

And then there is the white feather tradition of Europe. Started in France as a campaign by women to present men who did not go off to the crusades to slaughter and kill with a white feather ~ a symbol of cowardice, as a method of shaming pacifist men to go off and commit acts of violence. The white feather returned in Britain in WWI, wielded by the feminist movements themselves, again to shame men who refused to participate in that war. A war that 'Abdu'l-Baha himself urged against getting involved with.

Just looking at history and the world around us, and the pro-war acts of even the most ardent feminists, I don't see how this statement can be true.

It's just the one statement attributed to 'Abdu'l-Baha that I cannot seem to reconcile with. Just - women have had the vote for about a century in my country, the same century which my country transformed from a relatively pacifistic country that deplored the idea of fighting in far-off countries into the self-appointed world police in a state of endless war. Where is the promised peace??

On biological differences between men and women

Overall I tend to think men are more violent than women. High levels of testosterone are linked to aggression. You can see the link between aggression and testosterone in comparisons between bonobos and chimpanzees. The former female-dominated group have much lower levels of testosterone than their aggressive cousins. The same is true for human beings. That is, testosterone in an adult male is 20 times higher than that of an adult woman.
I've read some studies focusing on child behavior that say something a bit different. I'll see if I can dig them up later.

Basically they stated that violence levels across genders are roughly equal, with men being slightly more violent, but the nature of violence is different between genders. Mainly that males favor direct or physical violence, and women favor indirect or social violence. In other words, a man is more likely to punch you in the face, a woman is more likely to spread false rumors to your friends.

When it comes to war and history, this seems to reflect the findings of the study. Men being the warriors, with movements of women indirectly promoting war, like the white feathers. Different methods of violence between the genders.

Hence the proverb from the Maori of New Zealand sums up the list of reasons behind war, and the list is short: "Men die for women and land."
In the context of the aforementioned white feather movement of WWI, the statement definitely rings true.

In general women, in "regards tenderness of heart and the abundance of mercy and sympathy," are superior. We can observe this fact in the NT, in which we find Mary Magdalene is the first to know of Christ's resurrection. She seems to have naturally sensed it before everybody else. In everything else women are equal, says Abdu'-Baha.
I don't know if I'd agree with that point's supporting evidence. After all, the NT also mentions a different woman who demands the decapitation of John the Baptist... hardly a beacon of mercy and sympathy.
 
Sep 2010
4,623
Normanton, Far North West Queensland
Where is the promised peace??
Why have we not chosen this path? Baha'u'llah said mankinds perversity will long continue.

I see the spirit behind what was said by Abdul'baha is 100% true. It does not stop people being drawn into the perversity. We must be aware that no Baha'i is exempt from this perversity, it is a lesson for a Baha'i, just as much as it is for all humanity.

Now is not the time to start doubting and seeing what was offered as wrong, now is the time to support it with 100% of soul and mind. If we doubt, we join the degradation of the decaying old world order.

Regards Tony
 
Jun 2014
1,112
Wisconsin
Why have we not chosen this path? Baha'u'llah said mankinds perversity will long continue.

I see the spirit behind what was said by Abdul'baha is 100% true. It does not stop people being drawn into the perversity. We must be aware that no Baha'i is exempt from this perversity, it is a lesson for a Baha'i, just as much as it is for all humanity.

Now is not the time to start doubting and seeing what was offered as wrong, now is the time to support it with 100% of soul and mind. If we doubt, we join the degradation of the decaying old world order.

Regards Tony
What was alleged to have be said, mind you. There's always the possibility he was misquoted, as this isn't his writings we are talking about.

I don't see the spirit behind that quote being 100% true. Women's participation was said to lead to "wars will cease". When women were given the vote in my country, we were isolationist. We were culturally speaking strictly anti-war. Now, this country views itself as the world's policeman, and has been at war for the majority of my life. The quote said giving women the vote would lead to peace, but despite giving women the vote, the country I live in has transformed from determined pacifism to constant militarism.

The reason for that being somewhat obvious, my country is in the Iron Age of the four-age cycle observed by philosophers. But giving women the vote did nothing to hinder the encroachment of the Iron Age, history has shown women to be just as capable of warmongering as men can be. Even the original suffragettes were staunchly pro-war, after all.

Again, this is the only thing I've read attributed to 'Abdu'l-Baha that I can't get behind. And, again, since this an account of his words, and not his words themselves, there's always the chance this isn't what he said. As has also been mentioned, there seems to also be a disparity between what 'Abdu'l-Baha has been reported to have said about gender, and what he has written about gender. Which might put his supposed comments into question.
 
Oct 2014
1,829
Stockholm
Well, I just love Selections From the Writings of Abdu'l-Bahá. There, you definitely find his own words. He was razor sharp.

gnat
 
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Apr 2011
1,102
Hyrule
I don't know if I'd agree with that point's supporting evidence. After all, the NT also mentions a different woman who demands the decapitation of John the Baptist... hardly a beacon of mercy and sympathy.
Pilate's wife desired to spare Jesus' life (Matthew 27.19). It's not often you find beacons of mercy and sympathy in antiquity's aristocracy. They were pretty ruthless . . . even if they were female. Still, Mary beat the men to the punch in understanding Christ's message. Even the Gospel of Mary attributes to her teachings only she knew, and some of the male disciples were clearly not happy about it:
1) When Mary had said this, she fell silent, since it was to this point that the Savior had spoken with her.
2) But Andrew answered and said to the brethren, Say what you wish to say about what she has said. I at least do not believe that the Savior said this. For certainly these teachings are strange ideas.​
3) Peter answered and spoke concerning these same things.​
4) He questioned them about the Savior: Did He really speak privately with a woman and not openly to us? Are we to turn about and all listen to her? Did He prefer her to us?​
5) Then Mary wept and said to Peter, My brother Peter, what do you think? Do you think that I have thought this up myself in my heart, or that I am lying about the Savior?​
6) Levi answered and said to Peter, Peter you have always been hot tempered.​
7) Now I see you contending against the woman like the adversaries.​
8) But if the Savior made her worthy, who are you indeed to reject her? Surely the Savior knows her very well."​


I've read some studies focusing on child behavior that say something a bit different. I'll see if I can dig them up later.

Basically they stated that violence levels across genders are roughly equal, with men being slightly more violent, but the nature of violence is different between genders. Mainly that males favor direct or physical violence, and women favor indirect or social violence. In other words, a man is more likely to punch you in the face, a woman is more likely to spread false rumors to your friends.

When it comes to war and history, this seems to reflect the findings of the study. Men being the warriors, with movements of women indirectly promoting war, like the white feathers. Different methods of violence between the genders.
Sounds interesting. I look forward to what you can find.

The reasoning 'Abdu'l-Baha gives in the full quote is that mothers don't want to see their sons die. But the same is true of fathers. And certainly men don't want to see themselves die. So if this reasoning was sound, men would be the more anti-war gender.
Women go through the pain of childbirth, so I would assume maternal bonds are stronger (especially when they give birth naturally).

But in my country women are the majority of the voters. Has this ended war?? No, it has not. In fact, my country appears to be the most warlike on this planet at this time. Women have not been an obstacle at all to my country's war machine, and this is true and without doubt.

And I've seen a women-focused all-female news show, wherein the all female hosts shouted down and slandered an anti-war politician, accusing that politician of sympathizing with tyrants for merely not wanting to be in a state of endless war.

And then there is the white feather tradition of Europe. Started in France as a campaign by women to present men who did not go off to the crusades to slaughter and kill with a white feather ~ a symbol of cowardice, as a method of shaming pacifist men to go off and commit acts of violence. The white feather returned in Britain in WWI, wielded by the feminist movements themselves, again to shame men who refused to participate in that war. A war that 'Abdu'l-Baha himself urged against getting involved with.

Just looking at history and the world around us, and the pro-war acts of even the most ardent feminists, I don't see how this statement can be true.

It's just the one statement attributed to 'Abdu'l-Baha that I cannot seem to reconcile with. Just - women have had the vote for about a century in my country, the same century which my country transformed from a relatively pacifistic country that deplored the idea of fighting in far-off countries into the self-appointed world police in a state of endless war. Where is the promised peace??
In 1982 thousands of women organized against male militarism, forming a human chain around a U.S. military base.


'Embrace the Base’: 30,000 women link hands, completely surrounding the nine mile perimeter fence at RAF/USAF Greenham Common, Berkshire (1982), Edward Barber. © Edward Barber


Childrens garments on the wire fence at Greenham Common during the protest by Women Against Cruise Missile in 1982
The idea women hold the key to peace is not a new idea. In Aristophane's play Lysistrata, Greek women plot to create peace by withholding sex from their men. And Mother's Day started as a peace movement. There's even an organization today called Women Waging Peace which has a number of statistics and data about the connection between women and peace here.
 

ams

Nov 2019
90
Thailand
Hi Walrus

And then there is the white feather tradition of Europe. Started in France as a campaign by women to present men who did not go off to the crusades to slaughter and kill with a white feather ~ a symbol of cowardice, as a method of shaming pacifist men to go off and commit acts of violence. The white feather returned in Britain in WWI, wielded by the feminist movements themselves, again to shame men who refused to participate in that war. A war that 'Abdu'l-Baha himself urged against getting involved with.

Just looking at history and the world around us, and the pro-war acts of even the most ardent feminists, I don't see how this statement can be true.
Those womens were tricked out - by the militar leadership - to blackmail men... to force men... via emotional blackmail... to go to war... killing other men and unavoidable (called: "collateral damage") also women and childrens. There never was a war without!

In August 1914, at the start of World War I, Admiral Charles Fitzgerald founded the Order of the White Feather.
The organisation aimed to shame men into enlisting in the British army by persuading women to present them with a white feather if they were not wearing a uniform
White feather - Wikipedia
It was the same kind of perversion of "yin and yang"... as it is the case if men supress women. There is no different.

The warlords... incited women against men... to emotional force them... to go to their war.

Such women are never could be meant by 'Abdu'l-Bahá...

The teaching was: Men and Women in Harmony. Two Wings, not fighting against, but working together.

With women who inner-fight against men in such a way, there is no way for peace... same as if men supress women.

Let us not forget: There exists - of course - also women... who want to blame men in any way possible.

You can find them i.e. in radical feminist movements.

Such radicals ... have no interest at all to establish harmony between man and women... but the goal is to blame all men, for the suppressing of women.

But in reality... this is just the same kind of very unbalanced mindest... when men supressing women. Just the other side of the coin.

With both kind of mindest, peace is not possible. Because in reality it is the same mindset.

Only with real harmony between men and women peace is possible.

That was (and still is ) the teaching of Bahāʾullāh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá.
(btw: also of Jesus Christ and Yogananda )

Also it was (and still is) in Taoism with Yin and Yang.


Neither in the mentioned Tablet nor in any other did 'Abdu'l-Bahá just blindly suggesting women.. no matter of their attitude.
No. Because it is clear that this would be completely out of context of his own and Bahāʾullāh's teachings of the topic.

Of course... he not suggest those kind of Women who have any kind of antipathy against men, like those of the "White Feather" or any other radical "men-blaming movement".

Same as he never ever were suggesting any men in high positions... who have a deep drive... to supress or forbid womens in high positions, with all kind of tricks.. even religious tricks! People must learn to look through all those tricks and arguments.


Of course he mean only man and women ...... who have no antipathy or supressing-drive... against the other gender...

but deeply realized that both are created by God as two golden wings... flying together in harmony.
 
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Sep 2010
4,623
Normanton, Far North West Queensland
I don't see the spirit behind that quote being 100% true. Women's participation was said to lead to "wars will cease".
Who said that day has come 😊 who knows what is yet to come.

Regards Tony
 
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Jcc

Mar 2013
598
Edwardsville, Illinois, USA
In the current political system, women who reach high leadership positions, even Prime Minister, often have policies that are as tough or militaristic as male leaders, even more so (Margaret Thatcher, Golda Meir, Indira Gandhi, etc.). But they led governments that are mostly men, and had to prove themselves tougher than the men to advance.

It may be a different story when women reach a majority in government. There are two states in the US that have reached 50% or more of women in the legislature, and in those states one can note a shift in laws and budgets passed that give greater priority to education, family issues, etc, even though the female members are split between political parties.
 
Aug 2015
7
Abbotsfordm British Columbia, Canada
RE: the service of women on the Universal House of Justice. This is from a section of a paper I am writing. It does not give a reason for the exemption of women. Instead, it shows the logical errors in the criticisms of this teaching and why these criticisms are not rationally valid:

"The Universal House of Justice points out that the exemption of women comes from the explicit texts of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá who is the authorized interpreter of Bahá'u'lláh’s teachings. Therefore, the directive cannot be changed. It also noted that this ruling has not prevented women from attaining leadership positions in the unfolding of this revelation. The Universal House of Justice recognizes that it may be difficult for some “to appreciate the reason”[1] for this exemption but asks “the friends to remain assured by the Master's promise that clarity of understanding will be achieved in due course.”[2] However, neither the Writings nor the Universal House of Justice

state the reasons for the exemption of women from the Universal House of Justice, saying only that the reason “will presently appear, even as the sun at midday.”
[3] Consequently, there is little point in speculating what the reason(s) might be. Nonetheless, the strong emphasis on reason[4] in the Writings suggests that this directive has a rational basis whatever that might be. [5] ‘Abdu’l-Bahá states categorically that “Can the heart accept that which reason denies? Reason is the first faculty of man, and the religion of God is in harmony with it.”[6]


This paper will not speculate about the underlying reason(s) for this exemption. However, declining to conjecture about the reason for Bahá'u'lláh’s directive does not mean we should not examine the logical validity of the aforementioned criticisms of the Bahá’í teachings on this matter. Indeed, Shoghi Effendi lauds Bahá’ís for “defending its verities, unveiling its truths, demonstrating the character of its institutions and advertising its aims and purposes.”
[7] An explication of the logical errors made by the critics is not an alternative explanation of Bahá'u'lláh’s directive. Instead it is a demonstration of the errors in logic and reading made by the critics, errors which negate the explanations they have offered for the exemption. In short, whatever the explanation(s) may be, they are not those offered by the critics.

The Universal House of Justice clearly identifies the false premise on which all of the critiques of the exemptio9n of women are based. In a statement about a controversy regarding scholarship. Speaking of some critics of the Bahá’í model of scholarship, it declares


[t]hese [critical] efforts have been accompanied by a deliberate attempt to misrepresent the institutions of the Faith as repressive of learning and to introduce into a Bahá'í discourse a fevered debate on individual rights, borrowed from the political environment.
[8]


Similarly, the critics of the exemption of women from the Universal House of Justice work from the unexamined premise that it is logically possible to import concepts about rights and equality from the “political environment” and impose them on the Bahá’í Faith. However, the essential differences between a free civil and secular society based on social contract theory and a purposive organization based on divine revelation are insurmountable. Transferring and imposing such concepts is akin to comparing apples to catfish. Concepts and standards “borrowed from the political environment” cannot be imposed uncritically on an organization that is intentionally and programmatically non-political and non-partisan; which has its own unique nature and goals; and has purposes and methods essentially different from those in civil society. While both are made up of human beings, the form into which they organize people is utterly different and, as we shall see below, is incompatible. The failure to recognize this vital distinction between two essentially different organizations is the logical error of false equivalence.


‘Abdu’l-Bahá refers to Bahá’ís as a “heavenly army”
[9] and as a spiritual “army of light,”[10] identifying thereby the essential and differentiating attributes of the Bahá’í Faith and other types of social groupings. Unlike secular civil societies, the Bahá’í Faith is founded on revelation and its teachings laws and practices demand religious not secular justification. Its modus vivendi is expansion “through the love of God and the illumination of divine teachings”[11] as well as the care of souls for this earthly life and beyond. All Bahá’ís are volunteers who knowingly and freely accept the terms of service i.e. its beliefs, duties and limitations. As a matter of custom, they all work for a common purpose and are willing to make meaningful personal sacrifices for the good of the whole. Nor must personal goals conflict with the Faith’s goals, thereby disrupting its activities. In short, other words, the key principle is voluntary service, not individual advantage or ambition. Moreover, there is an internal relation of friendship or even familial relationship among members all of whom are committed to recognizing Bahá’u’lláh as God’s latest – but not last – Manifestation and the Universal House of Justice as the only legitimate institution inspired by His will. Obedience to the Universal House of Justice is obligatory because it is tasked with guiding the global advancement of the Faith. All members work for the ultimate goal of unifying humanity into a federal global commonwealth embodying “eternal verities” from all previous dispensations. Hence, membership is not accidental but conditional.

In contrast, crowds, free secular and civil societies and modern nations are, by nature and/or intention, far more compatible with ‘atomic individualism’ than any army – spiritual or not. As a social ethos, ‘atomic individualism’ puts enormous emphasis on individuality and gives primacy to individuals who pursue their own purposes more than the good of the whole. Times of war or other national emergencies are, of course, exceptions to this but such uncommon events are not the usual state of mind. Therefore, citizens are related by external laws without any obligation to form inner spiritual and not merely outwardly conforming relationships set by law or social custom. In addition, competition plays a much greater role in society than service and free personal sacrifice which are among the underlying principles of action for Bahá’ís. This is because Bahá'u'lláh’s “heavenly army” – like any army – is meticulously focussed on its immediate and ultimate purpose than are crowds, free civil societies and even nations except in wartime. Secular societies focus on equality almost entirely in terms of individual power, rights and worldly success instead of conscious service to the whole. They encourage atomic individualism and competition; they do not recognize spiritual values as valid justifications for civil laws; they confine their hierarchy of values and plans to the present world; and they have no historical vision and goals for the future destiny of mankind. These essential difference prohibit any uncritical transfer of social and legal concepts from one to the other.




Most specifically, the issue of power as understood in civil societies is simply not relevant in the assessment of equality in the Bahá’í Faith. This is because in the civil and secular “political environment,” equality and power are strictly correlated. That is why partisan political parties struggle for the power to rule others. Equality is defined in terms of rights and power. Individuals have equal power as expressed in rights which intrinsically is a power relationship: my rights obligate others to do or not do certain things, i.e. they entitle me to make certain demands. This ability to impose obligations is an exercise of power. Those who have no power cannot be equal and those who are not equal cannot have power.
[12]



However, unlike the “political environment,” the Bahá’í Writings distinguish between power and equality and do not measure one in terms of the other. Given its spiritual nature, in the Bahá’í Faith service not power is the standard for ‘measuring’ equality and success. Equality in the spiritual context is based on service, on contributing to the whole and its purpose and on internal states of being such as a willingness to sacrifice, purity of heart and reliance on God. Individuals understand themselves in terms of serving the purpose of the Faith not as individuals accumulating powers, rights and worldly success. Secular world-views and their emphasis on overt legalities, contractualism and the empirical measurement of values and success are intrinsically insensitive to spiritual judgments except in the most superficial way.


The essential and central nature of service is attested in numerous passages from the Writings and the Universal House of Justice. For example, Bahá'u'lláh teaches that “Man's merit lieth in service and virtue and not in the pageantry of wealth and riches.”
[13] In other words, the value of service exceeds the value of worldly success and recognition. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá states that “service to mankind is the paramount motive of all existence”[14] and this principle informs Shoghi Effendi’s statement that




[f]rom 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.
[15]



Sex does not abrogate anyone’s capacity or right to accumulate spiritual virtues through service – and this is what really matters. What can any worldly sense of ‘getting ahead’ or ‘competing’ or ‘success’ or ‘being in charge’ mean in this religious context? Shoghi Effendi’s assertion of equal rights is made in a Bahá’í spiritual context and not in the context of power as in secular concepts of equality. Consequently, the secular political concepts of equality, rights and power are not applicable in assessing the Bahá’í exemption of women. Treating the Bahá’í Faith as if it were an institution ‘like the others’ is another logical error of making a false equivalence. It is interesting that criticisms based on the “political environment” are equally irrelevant vis-à-vis sports teams, surgical teams, and fire brigades – all of which are based on service to a dominant goal.







[1] The Universal House of Justice, Women on the Universal House of Justice, 1988.



[2] The Universal House of Justice, Women on the Universal House of Justice, 1988



[3] ‘Abdu’l-Baha, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, Vol. 1, p. 90. Shoghi Effendi re-iterates this in Directives from the Guardian, p. 79.



[4] Ian Kluge, Reason and the Baha’i Writings,” in Lights of Irfan, Vol. 14, 2013.



[5] Ian Kluge, Reason and the Baha’i Writings,” in Lights of Irfan, Vol. 14, 2013.



[6] ‘Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 231; emphasis added.



[7] Shoghi Effendi, The Citadel of Faith, p. 139.



[8] The Universal House of Justice, 1992, Dec. 10, “Issues related to Study Compilation;” emphasis added.



[9] ‘Abdu’l- Baha, Tablets of the Divine Plan, p. 35.



[10] ‘Abdul-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 104.



[11] ‘Abdu’l-Baha, Tablets of the Divine Plan, p. 35.



[12] No contemporary philosopher emphasises power in all human interactions as much as Michel Foucault, for whom even “all will to truth is already a will-to-power.”(J .G.Merquior, Foucault, p. 108.) Foucault claims that to know the truth is also, in effect, a claim to power, i.e. a claim to domination over others and competing truth claims. Foucault’s thought has been especially influential in feminism e.g. Judith Butler and post-colonial studies. See Ian Kluge, “Postmodernism and the Baha’i Writings” in Lights of Irfan, Vol. 9, 2008.



[13] Baha’u’llah, Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p. 138; emphasis added.



[14] ‘Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 369.



[15] From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer July 28, 1936. Also in “Women, A Compilation, p. 9 and Lights of Guidance, p. 613; emphasis added.


 
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Apr 2011
1,102
Hyrule
RE: the service of women on the Universal House of Justice. This is from a section of a paper I am writing. It does not give a reason for the exemption of women. Instead, it shows the logical errors in the criticisms of this teaching and why these criticisms are not rationally valid:

"The Universal House of Justice points out that the exemption of women comes from the explicit texts of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá who is the authorized interpreter of Bahá'u'lláh’s teachings. Therefore, the directive cannot be changed. It also noted that this ruling has not prevented women from attaining leadership positions in the unfolding of this revelation. The Universal House of Justice recognizes that it may be difficult for some “to appreciate the reason”[1] for this exemption but asks “the friends to remain assured by the Master's promise that clarity of understanding will be achieved in due course.”[2] However, neither the Writings nor the Universal House of Justice
state the reasons for the exemption of women from the Universal House of Justice, saying only that the reason “will presently appear, even as the sun at midday.”
[3] Consequently, there is little point in speculating what the reason(s) might be. Nonetheless, the strong emphasis on reason[4] in the Writings suggests that this directive has a rational basis whatever that might be. [5] ‘Abdu’l-Bahá states categorically that “Can the heart accept that which reason denies? Reason is the first faculty of man, and the religion of God is in harmony with it.”[6]
I think speculating about the reason(s) behind it isn't pointless. It leads us into all kinds of fruitful discussions if we allow it.

Because of the shah's promotion of the equality of women, said Ayatollah Khomeini in the 1960s, he was aligning himself with the view of the Baha'i Faith, and this act in and of itself was enough to call for his dethronement:

"Look at the calendar of the Baha'is of two years ago or maybe three years ago; it is there recorded: The equality of the rights of men and women, [this] is the opinion of 'Abdul-Baha; the men [in charge in the government] are following him. The shah, utterly ignorant of this goes up there, and preaches the equality of the sexes. Man! You have been injected with this idea so that they can accuse you of being a Baha'i, so that I pronounce you an infidel; and that you may be dethroned. Don't do this, you wretched one! Don't do this! Universal compulsory education . . it is 'Abdul-Baha's view."

Reading the above as an example of the pushback from Iranian society, we can put Abdu'l-Baha's words in context when he discusses the need for wisdom in an approach to the equality of men and women. "The religion's most fundamental challenges to the social order of Shi'i Iran were its emphases on modern education and the equality of men and women," says Fereydun Vahman, the author of 175 Years of Persecution. Not only was the emphasis of education for women strongly emphasized, he adds, but Baha'is also viewed women as legally equal to women, gave the bride the right to give consent for marriage, the right to not wear a hijab if they so choose, and more. The culture of Iran at that time interpreted such rights as promoting promiscuity and all kinds of godlessness.

It would be interesting to read more comments from opponents about the equality of men and women in the Baha'i Faith. From reading Vahman's book some Iranians were horrified by this Baha'i teaching.
 
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