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  • Patricia Wilcox

89. Exploring Gender Roles in the Baha'i Teachings.

Updated: Apr 16



The equality of men and women is a fundamental Baha'i teaching. We express it in the principle of 'Unity in Diversity'.

All humans, whatever our gender, colour or religion, are born equal before God. For the purpose of procreation of the race, difference in gender is essential.

Each gender has different strengths reflecting the roles of father and mother. All these particular strengths must be viewed in light of the understanding that neither sex has exclusive spiritual qualities; it is the greater or lesser degree of a quality that is significant.

However, it is true that men and women have unique roles which draw upon those qualities in which they are generally particularly strong. So, for example, the woman is strong in those qualities which are necessary to bear, nurture and raise infants, but unique in her physical abilities to do so.

Some Differences in Gender roles. "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." ---`Abdu'l-Baha, Baha'u'llah and the New Era, 1976 U.S. edition, p.156

 "...man is more inclined to war than woman..." ---`Abdu'l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p 278 (Vol II)

"In some respects woman is superior to man. She is more tenderhearted, more receptive, her intuition is more intense." ---'Abdu'l-Baha, Paris Talks,1961 U.K. edition, p.162

"...mental alertness, intuition, and the spiritual qualities of love and service in which women are strong." ---`Abdu'l-Baha, Baha'u'llah and the New Era,1976, U.S.edition, p. 156

"Woman by nature is opposed to war; she is an advocate of peace ...naturally the most devoted and staunch advocate of International Peace".---`Abdul'-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, Vol II, p370

"...their hearts are tender and they cannot endure the sight of the horror of carnage..."---`Abdu'l-Baha Paris Talks,1961 U.K. edition, p.183

"...as regards tenderness of heart and the abundance of mercy and sympathy ye are superior."---`Abdu'l-Baha Paris Talks,1961 U.K. edition, p.184

"...women are most capable and efficient...their hearts are more tender and susceptible than the hearts of men...they are more philanthropic and responsive toward the needy and suffering...they are inflexibly opposed to war and lovers of peace."---`Abdul'-Baha'. The Promulgation of Universal Peace,1982 U.S. edition, p. 284

"In some respects, women have astonishing capacities: they hasten in their attraction to God, and are intense in their fiery ardour for Him."---`Abdu'l-Baha, extract from a previously untranslated Tablet, Women, p. 50

“The woman is indeed of the greater importance to the race. She has the greater burden and the greater work. Look at the vegetable and the animal worlds. The palm which carries the fruit is the tree most prized by the date grower. The Arab knows that for a long journey the mare has the longest wind. For her greater strength and fierceness, the lioness is more feared by the hunter than the lion. “The mere size of the brain has been proved to be no measure of superiority. The woman has greater moral courage than the man; she has also special gifts which enable her to govern in moments of danger and crisis. If necessary she can become a warrior.” ---`Abdu'l-Baha `Abdu'l-Baha in London, 1982 U.K. edition, pp.102-103

Again it should be emphasised that these particular strengths of women must be viewed in light of the understanding that neither sex has exclusive spiritual qualities, that it is the greater or lesser degree of a quality that is significant. However, it is true that men and women have unique roles which draw upon those qualities in which they are generally particularly strong; so, for example, the woman is strong in those qualities which are necessary to bear, nurture and raise infants, but unique in her physical abilities to do so. For more information on Baha'i Families, refer to my book; "Baha'i Families - Perspectives, Principles, Practice". Oxford, UK: George Ronald,1991.                                                               https://www.worldcat.org/title/bahafamilies/oclc/27975823&referer=brief_results See also, article 83. "Learning and Practicing Unity in Diversity in the Family".