IN THE NAME OF ALLAH, THE MOST BENEFICENT, THE MOST MERCIFUL
AZADEH HAIATI, JANUARY 2008
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The Baha'i Faith claims to regard the equality of men and women as one of its fundamental tenets, [1] yet one does not need to dig very deep before coming across major inconsistencies that clearly contradict Bahai proponents' claim of gender equality. While official statements from the Baha'i administration seemingly promote gender equality and the ideal of justice and equity in the world at large, Baha'i women themselves are treated with injustice.

Let's examine some of Baha'ism's "divine and balanced" gender laws that in contrary to Islamic gender regulations and jurisprudence, are "impartial and objective."[2]

No Baha'i Women Allowed in The Faith's Highest Governing Body
Bahai women are not allowed to serve on the sect's highest governing body, the Universal House of Justice (UHJ). This ruling is based upon authoritative interpretations of Bahaullah's words and scriptures by Abdul-Baha.[3]

This exclusion and discrimination has naturally upset many Baha'i women who have formed their own separate councils and committees, causing tension between the segregated bodies.[4]

Interesting Read: Does the Bahai Faith actually give equal rights to women?
How did the Bahai leaders themselves contradict the rules they set out for others?
Bahaism and Women, Chapter 7 of "Bahaism and Its Claims" by SAMUEL GRAHAM WILSON
.

Many attempts have been made by Baha'i women, to repeal such discriminative laws and in one such attempt- in a letter to Abdul-Baha in 1902- Corinne True, one of the most prominent Bahai women's rights advocates, called for Abdul-Baha's approval of female service in the governing board in Chicago. [5] The answer she received however did not satisfy her and remains the key to today's practice:

"Know thou, O handmaid, that in the sight of Baha, 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 Baha, proved superior to the men, and surpassed the famous of the earth.

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 erelong be made manifest as clearly as the sun at high noon." [6]

Such obvious discriminations and injustices are of course downplayed in public presentations, so that it is not uncommon for converts to discover these gender inequalities only after joining the community.

Women Inherit Less than Men and Are Not Allowed to Inherit Property
Another interesting contradiction to Baha'ism's claim of gender equality is the fact that this equity and justice does not embrace the economic sphere.

According to Bahaullah's directives, every inheritance must be divided into 2520 parts and distributed to the heirs according to the inheritance law through which fathers receive more than mothers, brothers more than sisters, and if the deceased owned personal residence or properties, such will pass to male heirs only, leaving the female heirs dependent on them for roof over their head.

Here is Bahaullah's instructions regarding division of inheritance:

"Inheritances We have divided according to the number al-za' (seven). Of them we have apportioned to your seed from the book al-ta' (nine), according to the number al-maqt (540); to husbands or wives from the book al-ha' (eight), according to the number of al-ta' and al-fa' (480); to fathers from the book al-za' (seven), according to the number of al-ta' and al-kaf (420); and to mothers from the book al-waw (Six), according to the number of al-rafi' (360); and to brothers from the book al-ha' (five), the number of al-shin (300); and to sisters from the book (9) al-dal (four), the number of al-ra' and al-mim (240); and to teachers from the book al-jim (three), the number of al-qaf and al-fa' (180). Thus commanded He who gave Good News of Me and who made mention of Me at nights and at daybreaks (al-ashar)...We have assigned the residence and personal clothing of the deceased to the male, not female, offspring, nor to the other heirs. He, verily, is the Munificent, the All-Bountiful."[7]

Baha'i proponents often try to cover up and conceal this obvious inequality by stating that the law of inheritance applies in case a Bahai dies without leaving a will. However, the important question here is why the Bahai teachings with all their "brilliance and gender equality", in essence favor men? Why should there exist an individual will in every single case in order to avoid the gender inequalities taught by Bahaullah and emphasized on in Bahaism's most central and authentic book? [8]

Bigamy allowed for Men only
Bigamy- for men only- is 'legitimate and allowed- according to Baha'i law.

Let me quote Abdul-Baha's guidelines:

"You asked about polygamy. According to the text (nass) of the Divine Book the right of having two wives is lawful and legal (ja'iz). This was never (abadan) prohibited, but it is legitimate and allowed (halal wa mubah). You should therefore not be unhappy, but take justice into your consideration so that you may be as just as possible. What has been said was that since justice is very difficult (to achieve), therefore tranquility (calls for) one wife. But in your case, you should not be unhappy." [9]

And the confirmation of bigamy is yet even more clearly formulated by Abdul-Baha in the following passage:

"Concerning a third wife, under no condition whatsoever is this lawful. It is prohibited completely, even if the two wives should prove to be unacceptable, and leaving [or divorcing] be impossible. (This is also true) in case they should have no children and no reason may be found (to leave or divorce them)." [10]

Why is Abdul-Baha only allowing men to have two wives? Why can't women have two husbands? Isn't that gender discrimination and injustice?

Contradictions and disagreements are of course existing and expected features of man-made religious cults and Baha'ism- being just another one of those minor cults that has arisen in the past two hundred years- naturally shares these characteristics. While Abdul-Baha (Infallible Bahaullah's infallible son and successor) regards bigamy (for men only) as "legitimate and allowed", Bahaullah forbids it since "justice and equity towards two wives is utterly impossible".

Let me quote Bahaullah:

"Know thou that polygamy is not permitted under the law of God, for contentment with one wife hath been clearly stipulated. Taking a second wife is made dependent upon equity and justice being upheld between the two wives, under all conditions. However, observance of justice and equity towards two wives is utterly impossible. The fact that bigamy has been made dependent upon an impossible condition is clear proof of its absolute prohibition. Therefore it is not permissible for a man to have more than one wife." [11]

Now the question is if bigamy according to Bahaullah's own words is forbidden in the honorable faith of Baha'ism, why did Bahaullah himself have three concurrent wives?[12] Some may argue that "Bahaullah had three concurrent wives because Bahai marriage laws were written by Bahaullah in the Kita-i-Aqdas after Bahaullah's last marriage.". However this reply is not satisfactory, because since Bahaullah was an infallible God*, he must have known his own laws before he wrote them down. He must have known about gender equality and justice. He must have known right from wrong. He must have known what is morally permissible and impermissible. Why then didn't he practice what he preached? Why did he himself have three concurrent wives while he strictly forbade it for other men?

Bahai Men Must Pay Dowry
Bahai Men Are The 'Head of The Family'
Bahai Men Alone Have the Financial Responsibility

According to Bahai teachings no marriage may be contracted without payment of a dowry. [13] The dowry for city-dwellers has been fixed at nineteen mithghals (2.22 troy ounces) of pure gold, and for village-dwellers at the same amount though in silver.

Now, where in the concept of "gender equality and women empowerment", does the payment of a bride-price fit in? Some may argue that the dowry is a gift, however if it is merely regarded as a gift, why are men forced to pay it? Shouldn't they have a choice?

Another interesting issue here is that the dowry fixed for a city-dweller differs from that of a village-dweller. As mentioned earlier the dowry of city-dwellers is paid in pure gold, while village-dwellers get the same amount though in silver and the dowry is dependent on the permanent residence of the bridegroom. Baha'i proponents try to defend this hypocrisy by arguing that city-dwellers are wealthier than village-dwellers thus the huge difference in the fixed dowry. However this is a huge generalization and an ignorant stereotype of village dwellers. If the objective of such a directive was to consider the bridegroom's financial capabilities, his permanent residence would be insignificant, since most of us know that there are many village-dwellers that are wealthier than city-dwellers and poor city-dwellers are not uncommon. The important question here is whether the Baha'i teachings regard city-dwellers as superior to village-dwellers? Are village-dwellers considered inferior? Are they not worth gold? Why then is there a difference in the fixed dowry? Further according to the 'superior and just' teachings of the Bahai Faith the father is the "head" of the household [14] and must alone provide for the family.[15] That's two gender-inequalities in one law and so much for the Baha'ism's true and full gender equality!

Despite loud pronouncements of gender equality, while looking into the Bahai faith, one will very soon realizes that the Bahai teachings in essence give preference to men.

Indeed, such teachings demonstrate Baha'ism's clear lack of human equality and the evident presence of gender inequality, thus once again revealing Baha'is' hypocrisy and corruption regarding their promotion of gender equality and human rights. Examining Baha'i gender laws, one will very soon realize that they originate from Islamic values and principles, though altered so as to completely lose their meaning, function and spirit; reflecting the corrupt mindset of the Baha'is whose sole objective is to deceive and misguide the Muslim community and destroy the pure and perfect message and teachings of Islam. * Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Baha'i Faith from 1921 until his death in 1957 and the successor of Abdulbaha claims

in his book "God passes by", page 90, that:

"To Israel He (Bahaullah) was neither more nor less than the incarnation of the "Everlasting Father", the "Lord of Hosts" come down "with ten thousands of saints"; to Christendom Christ returned "in the glory of the Father," to Shiah Islam the return of the Imam Husayn; to Sunni Islam the descent of the "Spirit of God" (Jesus Christ); to the Zoroastrians the promised Shah-Bahram; to the Hindus the reincarnation of Krishna; to the Buddhists the fifth Buddha.". The "everlasting father" in Christianity, as we all know, is God.

Further Bahaullah claims:
"Were any of the all-embracing Manifestations of God to declare: "I am God", He verily, speaks the truth, and no doubt attached thereto. For ... through their Revelation, their attributes and names, the Revelation of God, His names and His attributes, are made manifest in the world. ...." (Gleanings From the Writings of Bahaullah, p. 54) and Abdul-Baha claims: "Further than this (Bahaullah) man has no other point for concentration. He is god." (Star of the West Feb.7,1914)

References

1. Bahai Faith and Gender Equality
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bah%C3%A1'%C3%AD_Faith_and_gender_equality

2. THE BAHA'IS OF IRAN, Juan Cole, History Today, Mar90, Vol. 40 Issue 3
http://www.sullivan-county.com/id3/bahai_iran.htm

3. TABLET REVEALED BY ABDULBAHA, August 28th, 1913, p.181-184
http://www.ibiblio.org/Bahai/Texts/EN/PT/PT-59.html
please see point nr. 7

4 . Robert H. Stockman, The Baha'i Faith in America: Early Expansion 1900-1912, (Oxford: George Ronald, 1995), 46-63.

5a. Karen Bacquet,"When Principle and Authority Collide: Baha'i Responses to the Exclusion of Women from the Universal House of Justice" Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions Volume 9, Number 4, May 2006:34-52 2006 by the Regents of the University of California
http://www.angelfire.com/ca3/bigquestions/exclusion.html
Please see the part 'Historical Context for Women's Exclusion'

5b. WOMEN IN THE BAHAI FAITH , excerpted from Religion and Women (Albany: SUNY Press, 1994) Dr. Susan S. Maneck
http://www.bahai-library.org/articles/women.faith.html
please see the part 'from East to West'

6. Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha,
( Haifa: Baha'i World Center, 1978), 79-80

7. Kitab-i-Aqdas, see paragraph 20 and 25
http://www.ishwar.com/bahai/holy_kitab_i_aqdas/texts02.html

8. Regarding the Kitab-i-Aqdas being the most central book in Baha'i Faith, please see
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kit%C3%A1b-i-Aqdas

9. 'Amr wa Khalq', Abdul-Baha, 4: 174

10. 'Amr wa Khalq', Abdul-Baha, 4: 173

11. Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 206
http://reference.bahai.org/en/t/b/KA/ka-106.html

12. Life of Bahaullah, Wikipedia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bah%C3%A1%27u%27ll%C3%A1h

13. Kitab-i-Aqdas, see paragraph # 66
http://www.ishwar.com/bahai/holy_kitab_i_aqdas/texts04.html

14. Letter from House of Justice, 28 Dec. 1980, 'Messages from the Universal House of Justice, 1963-1986': The Third Epoch of the Formative Age, compiled by Geoffrey W. Marks (Wilmette, Ill.: Bah' Publishing Trust, 1996), 470-73.
http://bahai-library.org/uhj/husband.wife.html

15. Letter of Universal House of Justice in Compilation of Compilations, vol. 1, p. 414

This article was sent in by a reader and hosted for the benefit of other readers on this web site

Also read: Bahai Religious Teachings: Confusion Compounded?

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