Updated: Oct 23, 2022
"You can kill me as soon as you like..."
More than 150 years ago in 1848 in a garden at Badasht, Iran, a solitary 26 year old woman named Tahireh - poet and revolutionary - threw off her veil which was a cornerstone of Shih Islam and, before the stunned participants in this land where women were never seen in public, announced a new age in the cause of women.
Four years later, in the middle of the night and at the moment of her execution, she cried "You can kill me as soon as you like but you cannot stop the emancipation of women" (attributed to Tahireh)
It was Táhirih’s father who had recognized her bright and intuitive wisdom and did the unthinkable; he, himself educated his daughter. In 19th century Persia, women were regarded as having no souls, were forced to wear the veil, and not allowed to speak in the presence of men. Táhirih fearlessly denounced the veil, polygamy, and the evil practices of the clergy.
That same summer on the other side of the planet, the first ever woman’s rights convention was convened in the United States at Seneca Falls, New York! The effects of Táhirih's bold act was spreading through out the world, and would echo throughout the ages.
"...we must realize that everything which happens is due to some wisdom and that nothing happens without a reason." https://reference.bahai.org/en/t/ab/PUP/pup-19.html.utf8?qu…
“Nothing hath ever happened nor will happen without a cause or effect.”
—Bahá’u’lláh (Fire and Light, p.10)
One and a half centuries later, and two decades into a new millennium, I remember Tahireh and all those men and women since, who have kept the flame of her cause burning brightly down all the years and passed this torch on to our generation here today. Another people, another land, another century. In my mind they remain with us, and will continue to inspire and guide us just as we too must inspire and guide the generations still to come.
In the globally disseminated statement "The Promise of World Peace" the Universal House of Justice describes the important connection between education and discrimination, stating:
More and more we realise that if we are to change the cruel, destructive ways in which human beings treat one another, we must first change the way they think, and the things they value. Not by indoctrination, intimidation or public campaigns but by education.
Highlighting the supreme urgency of re-educating the souls and minds of humanity, H. G. Wells said "Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe."
A crucial aspect of this education which is necessary if we are to avert catastrophe and bring balance to the present state of disequilibrium, and which will eventually contribute to a new definition of humanity, is the process which some have called the 'feminisation' of the planet.
'Abdu'l Baha described this process; "The world in the past has been ruled by force and man has dominated over woman by reason of his more forceful and aggressive qualities both of body and mind. But the scales are already shifting, force is losing its weight, and mental alertness, intuition and the spiritual qualities of love and service, in which woman is strong, are gaining ascendancy. Hence the new age will be an age less masculine and more permeated with the feminine ideals, or, to speak more exactly, will be an age in which the masculine and feminine elements of civilisation will be more properly balanced."
Discover more in this musical drama about Tahireh;
A heart rending song about Tahireh by Grant Hinden Miller
A musical drama of her life by Russ Garcia: