Amongst the many doctrines adopted by the Bahais to attract converts to their fold is the concept of “Advancing the Status of Women”. Bahais are often found to shout themselves hoarse over this concept as if they were the first to put forth the concept of equality of men and women. The Bahais use this doctrine very aggressively to secure a place in the minds of the people of today’s liberal world.
It is interesting to understand why the Bahais are so very vociferous about this principle, unlike the other principles (for example, the concept of a universal language). Perhaps it is due to the fact that women constitute approximately half of world’s population. Or maybe it is possible that winning the interest of a woman will have a positive effect on the next generation. Perhaps above all, they wish to demonstrate themselves as a very progressive religion. Nevertheless, it is essential to verify the truth in this principle advanced by the Bahais as being one of their own.
I have chosen to confine my arguments within the Bahai Faith, while Islam has evidently laid down regulations to advance the status of women centuries earlier.
To highlight their commitment, the Bahais are prolific in talking about this principle. Words from Bahaullah, Abdul Baha and Shoghi are quoted to express the Bahai devotion to women.
Abdul Baha is quoted to have said in Promulgation p 375, “The world of humanity is possessed of two wings: the male and the female. So long as these two wings are not equivalent in strength, the bird will not fly. Until womankind reaches the same degree as man, until she enjoys the same arena of activity, extraordinary attainment for humanity will not be realized; humanity cannot wing its way to heights of real attainment. When the two wings . . . become equivalent in strength, enjoying the same prerogatives, the flight of man will be exceedingly lofty and extraordinary.
I urge you to read the above statement to absorb its importance.
As per Abdul Baha – the sole interpreter of the Bahai Faith -women must enjoy equal authority and perform the same activities as men. Till this is not done, humanity will never reach attainment. Fair enough.
However a question arises here. Why has the Universal House of Justice – the apex governing body of the Bahai Faith – never had any female representation? This is not due to the lack of qualified women amongst the Bahai Faith. Rather women are expressly debarred from becoming members of the Universal House of Justice!
It is clear that the primary Bahai body, which must be obeyed by all Bahais, refuses to adhere to the words of the founders of the Bahai Faith. A factual indication that Bahais are not interested in advancing the status of women, but are simply paying lip service to deceitfully attract new converts.
Historically central Bahai figures, namely Bab, Baha and Abdul Baha never regarded women as equal to men. The 19 Apostles of Bahaullah were all men! Even, among the 18 Letters of Living of Bab, there was only one woman! I wish to draw your attention to the following statistics.
Members Women Percentage
Letters of Living of Bab 19 1 5%
Apostles of Bahaullah 19 0 0%
Bahaullah’s Hands of Cause 4 0 0%
Abdul Baha’s Special Disciples 19 5 26%
Abdul Baha’s Hands of Cause 4 0 0%
Shoghi’s Hands of Cause 42 6 14%
Universal House of Justice 9 0 0%
Please note that leave alone equality, Bahaullah did not deem fit to give any position to women. It is clear from above that neither in the past (Bab, Bahaullah) nor in the present (UHJ), were women considered equal to men.
There is no doubt that advancing the status of women is a proposition which is appeal to all. However while the concept is being trumpeted by the Bahais, it is more important to to see how far that is implemented in spirit and in practice. For the Bahai Faith, it appears that the concept is being advanced merely to attract more women and consequently, the next generation to their fold.
Read More: Status of Women in Islam
Posted on: 26th April 2006 by Dr. Mohammed Alam Qurayshi