From email@example.comMon Sep 11 11:34:44 1995 Date: Sun, 10 Sep 1995 22:35:35 -0500 (EDT) From: "Mark A. Foster"
To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: POV - before or after? To: email@example.com Bruce Burrill wrote to the multiple recipients of firstname.lastname@example.org: B >Would you say that your POV is what came to light as a result of a careful B >study of the supposed "dialectical synthesis" of the supposed dispensations, B >or could it be that the supposed "dialectical synthesis" is just a B >back-reading of your POV? Hi, Bruce - As you know, I am not an expert on Buddhism. However, I do not feel as though it is necessary to be a Buddhologist, or, for that matter, a Christian, Jewish, or Islamic theologian, in order to appreciate, on a basic level, the way in which religious concepts are developed from one age to the next. I always try to qualify my ideas with "IMHO," "my POV," "IMV," etc, to emphasize that what I say is merely the result of individual reflection. Certainly, in order to produce a more mature analysis of the relations between the various schools of Hinduism and Buddhism, advanced training in these traditions, and a knowledge of Sanskrit and Pali, would be required. My own approach to religious truth, as you know from our discussions on CompuServe, was originally structured around the ideas of Marian Lippitt, Henry Weil, and Elizabeth Thomas, and I continue as one of four regional directors of the Foundation for the Science of Reality (devoted to preserving Marian's work). All things, IMV, can be seen within the framework of the worlds of God - including the rational one (historical context). My feeling is that one can begin to understand the language of the Kingdom (a discourse on reality) through meditation, or reflection, and by examining the eisegetical keys which are provided by the the Central Figures of subsequent revealed religions. Although adapted to time and place, the language of the divine Teachers, IMO, also has a profoundly universal quality and can, on that level, be approached through meditation or reflection and irrespective of formal training in one or more religious traditions. All methodologies, including a strict textual one, produce their own dilemnas, and I do not feel as though the one I used is inappropriate. Thank you for the information on the historical development of the various Indic traditions. What I have been impressed with in Buddhism is the exaltation of humanity in a way which, as far as I know, was not so much emphasized in pre-Buddhic India. For example, Shakymuni's rejection of the caste system affirmed the possibility of a non-stratified enlightenment - over and against the exclusiveness of priestly elitism. It has reminded me the Christian extention of the "chosen people" to all believers through the biblical grafting of the gentiles (nations) onto the tree of Israel. While the comparison is certainly not exact, I see it as a multilinear illustration of the social influences of progressive Revelation. Blessings, Mark From email@example.comMon Sep 11 11:35:54 1995 Date: Mon, 11 Sep 1995 00:13:44 -0400 (EDT) From: "Timothy A. Nolan" To: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com Subject: RE: hidden motivations > Finally, you have not responded to my point about principle, i.e., > that `Abdu'l-Baha says that equal human rights for all under the law is a > key teaching of Baha'u'llah; it seems fairly obvious that for women to be > excluded from some forms of administrative rights solely on the basis of > their sex is for them to be denied a human right and is discriminatory. > In what way is this compatible with Baha'i teachings over all? I have found it helpful to understand that membership on the Universal House of Justice is not a right; therefore women are not being denied anything which is rightfully theirs. Access to education is a right, adequate health care is a right, freedom to work is a right. However no one has the *right* to be a member of the Universal House of Justice. If women were denied access to education, or to health care, or to employment...that would be unfair discrimination, because all those are the right of each individual, whether man or woman. But it is not unfair discrimination to exclude women from membership on the Universal House of Justice because membership on that body is not a *right* for any man or woman. I am a man; if I am not elected to the Universal House of Justice, (for which I thank God), I have not been denied anything which is rightfully mine. Membership on that body is not anyone's *right*. It is perhaps the *duty* of those who are elected, but not their *right*. Tim Nolan firstname.lastname@example.org From email@example.comMon Sep 11 11:37:31 1995 Date: Sun, 10 Sep 1995 21:33:59 -0700 From: DEREK COCKSHUT To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Re Abortion and the Baha'i Faith As several people have posted to me regarding the posting I put out on Abortion and the Baha'i Faith. I would like to clarify further; the letter from the House of Justice in Jan 1993 was in response to a series of questions placed by an individual believer. In the case of Rape they ruled that such an act placed the woman in a position requiring the loving aid and support of her community. there are no preconditions placed on that support. If a woman decides to carry the child to full term she is not obliged to take support from the person who committed the criminal act, the House state that his parental rights under Baha'i Law could be revoked. In such cases the community would then have to assume financial and de facto joint parental responsibility .In the case of incest the child is entitled to protection by the other parent,if this does not happen, not only could the parent committing the act of incest lose their parental rights under Baha'i Law, but also the parent who failed to protect the child could be subject to such sanctions. People who sexually abuse young children and are not their parents and this is a proved act the House of Justice has taken upon Itself to hold the record of those who abuse the innocents in the Baha'i Community.One assumes to ensure an abuser can not go to another country and prey on children there. John Harkness certainly reads more into the short posting on Abortion that started this thread off than I did , it did come over as been rather harsh to me. The subject is highly complex , a woman facing such a situation is placed in an invidious position, if the Institutions of the Faith she should consult with are unaware of the proper Baha'i position and can only say no, regardless of the circumstances. All that will happen is that the woman will not go for advice to a Body that is not prepared to look at the uniqueness of her case.There is no case under Baha'i Law to justify Abortion as a convenient form of Birth Control, we are committed as a Community to sex only within Marriage , many of the augments for Abortion related to,although not exclusively, single women getting pregnant and wishing to terminate solely as a form of Birth Control. However I believe we need to develop loving tolerance in our communities so that if a young woman finds herself pregnant she can come and share her fears and anguish with her LSA knowing she will receive love,support and understanding. As far as the soul is concerned it comes into existence at the very moment of conception it is a gift of God. We should always remember that the soul is protected at all times from harm so murder belongs to our World not the World of the Soul. If anyone does not have a copy of the House of Justices letter of Jan 1993 I will be happy to send one please just E'mail me.Kindest Regards Derek Cockshut. From TLCULHANE@aol.comMon Sep 11 11:43:31 1995 Date: Mon, 11 Sep 1995 01:48:07 -0400 From: TLCULHANE@aol.com To: email@example.com Subject: Rights,wives,&profs. Juan Ricardo jan : (Ahang explained to me what it meant ) I am so pleased and gratified you liked the post on America. I plan to do more of it . On to the more important issue at hand . You and my wife have finally convinced me . This whole issue has been a personal as opposed to purely intellectual struggle for me over the years . My wife Sue is a salt of the earth sort of person . I have been sharing a number of these comments with her . We have gone through all the arguments and she has patiently listen to meexpound upon the complexity of the issue etc. Finally she said doesn't it all come down to what Baha'u'llah said and if Baha'u'llah said women are to be considered as "rijal " in this day that should settle it . Sometimes her simple ,srraightforward way is a blessing for me . Now she is not the type to jump on a bandwagon and could not care less about serving on the House . Yet this new found perspective discovered by Juan made it all very clear for her . I guess it took a combination of your scholarship and my wifes simple ways to get my attention at the level of the heart not only the mind. the rightd post was the clincher . I have pondered it for two days now . Sue also read it and could figure out what my problem was but then as she would say well your a man what should I expect . She is a dear soul and so are you Professor Cole . Earier in the week I had one of those certitude shaking spiritual experiences . One in which everything sort of ceased to make sense. All that I knew or thought I knew was called into question. This was one of the issues because it gets at the heart of so much about what it means to be a Baha'i. In the midst of my spiritual distress or I should probably say despair everything faded away except Baha'u'llah . I was up most of two nights at times curled up in a ball .As everything would fade into a kind of nothingness almost like quicksand this sense of the presence of Baha'u'lah would constantly be there . It did not make the pain go away but I was not afraid. I felt bathed in a kind of grace or some such thing. Here it is Sunday evening and there doesnt seem to be much cetainty for me to stand on . So many of the platitudes i have taken for certitudes are gone . I dont mean my faith is gone just that I am not sure what a number of thingd mean anymore. For instance Covenant . Perhaps this is the beginning of what real certitude is all about , alowing for multiple meanings depending on the station in which one is standing . I am not sure. While there are lots of questions in my mind they are not grasping ones as though I have to have a neat tidy answer or else. There is a certain calm and I guess joy in what I am feeling at the moment . Though it was anyhing but joyful getting here :) Last night we had a fireside with me in my new found state and I according to Sue I was on . The collection of people present were of fairly diverse backgrounds from an admirer of Fidel Castro to a champion of democracy which he confused with capitalism , to a couple of blue collar machinists. All in all a neat experience . As the evening unfolded I could watch where people were at and see where they were headed. Im not sure how to describe this but I could feel what had to be said or how to confirm where each person was and try and bring them into a larger framework . Maybe this is what the despair experience was trying to teach me . It really is about building bridges for peole to walk into the promised land of Baha'u'llah's Commonwealth. It was like seeing the revelation in a very different way for me . Thank god this does not happen to me very often. I dont normally speak about this kind of thing but for some reason want to mention it to you . Maybe it is the soul mate thing . Then again for better or worse, as they say in the marriage vows, you have been an intricate part of my changing perception of the Faith of Baha'u'llah I hope you dont mind that I went on about this . warmest regards and deep appreciation , Terry From TLCULHANE@aol.comMon Sep 11 11:44:50 1995 Date: Mon, 11 Sep 1995 01:48:23 -0400 From: TLCULHANE@aol.com To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: America again Dear Jim , If you read the post again I think you will find i did not suggest that we single out corporate capitalism as the bad guy . It wont do do try and paint me into that corner . Part of ant meaningful critique of materialism will have to engage the institutional forms in which it manifests itself . In this country that dominmant form is corporate capitalism . It has a history. As for populists being spartan, romantic and having a dull life styleand therefore that is why they failed I can only asume from that comment that you are not familiar with the populists. The writings on the Cooperative Commonwaelth were anything but spartan, romantic , impractical . They were in fact the last time in the U.S. antbody proposed a structural transformation of the ecomimic-political system of the country. It was their success in gettting the attention of masses of people that caught the attention of the then powers that be . By populists I am nor referring to William J . Bryan and silver bugs . I am referring to the the National farmers Alliance, the Knights of labor and the Peoples party. They did not fail because of some spartan or romantic notion of life . They did not so much fail as they were defeated by some very powerful economic and political forces -- the emerging corporate state of Mark Hanna and others who engaged in a concerted effort to divide the populists along class, regional, and racial lines . They also cut off access to capital i.e. credit , controlled the press and mobilized opinion against them , corrupterd the electoral process by ballot stuffing to defeat thier political candidates. You dont go to these lengths to defeat a small poorly organized "romantic" bunch of people . The literature is extensive as well as are the writings of populists themselves. I would be glad to send you a list if it would help. . Am I too asume that the Kansas farmer who deplored social darwinism as applied to the social relations of man was a hopeless romantic ? As for fruitful approaches in my part of the country I am finding a good deal of response to the populist critique wedded to the Faith of Baha'u'llah. I dare say I am not the only person I know who became a Baha'i because of a resonance between the two. As the weeks progress I will post some comments of Abdu'l Baha side by side with some comments of populist speakers and intellectuals . From them I think it will be possible to see some profound connections between what these farmers and their labor and intellectual supporters were up to . It is my contention they were responding to the "energy " of the age or what we would call revelation . remember the Tablet of the World and Baha'u'llah's comment on agriculture ? And I do think they have a great deal to say about the world we are still living in . If opposinf the reduction of human relationships to the norms of the market, opposing the factory system and its derivatives as soul destroying and not befitting the spiritual dignity of human beings and advocating a systematic program of education and sharing of individual talents for the benefit of a community to, create self-reliant individuals all of whose skills and talents will contribute to and participate in a "Cooperative Commonwaelth " is spartan or romantic . . well then I along with the populists and I dare say Baha'u'lah and Abdul Baha we are all hopeless romantics out of touch with the tenor of modern America . warm regards, Terry From email@example.comMon Sep 11 11:46:10 1995 Date: Mon, 11 Sep 1995 00:23:45 -0600 (MDT) From: Sadra Cc: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Re: Rumi Ahang jan-i aziz-- You flatter me! I'm by no stretch of the imagination any kind of expert on Mowlana and his works, merely an ashiq/lover of his illimitable poetic and mystical insight (as I am also of the other `urafa). You said: > Even if the Mathnavi's introduction was written by Rumi, to say > that Mathnavi contains the essence of Qur'an ("usul din"), is not > a confirmation of the complementary aspect of Mathnavi. ("Asl"= > the essence, seems to be a favorite word of Rumi in Divan-i > Shams, no?) What do you make of the following utterance of Molavi himself regarding the Mathnavi: mAz-e Quran maqzrA bardAshteem, poostash be-nazd-e kharAn be-gozashteem! We took the inner kernel of the Quran, and left the skin (or outer form) to the imbeciles ("imbeciles" meaning the fuqaha (jurists), mutakalamin (theologians) & and their gullible followers - my interpretation)! I take the statement above very seriously and indicative of a claim to some kind of status for this magnum opus, if not overriding or supplementing the Quran, but in some way as the supreme exegesis (ta'wil) and complement of the Book. Btw, I've also heard (while I haven't found it in any of the Writings myself either) `Abdu'l-Baha saying that Rumi recieved divine inspiration (wahy). > Let me offer an example of the sort of thing I'm looking for: > the Qur'an anticipated appearance of the Bab and Baha'u'llah, but > remained silent on many aspect of their Lives. But Rumi's > Divan-i Shams does offer some *additional* (hence complementary!) > information, such as the fact that the Bab will appear in Shiraz, > will go on Pilgrimage, will be martyred in Tabriz, and that > Baha'u'llah will be born in the realm of Nur (in Mazandaran), His > Ministry will last 40 years, His son, Abbas, will success Him, > many martyrs of this Dispensation, etc. I think if we're able to > point to these sort of details that Rumi provides which are > clearly absent in Qur'an then a credible case is made for his > divine inspiration and the supplementary nature of his poetry. I am usually not a big fan of prophecies but I suppose one can read all the references in both the Divan-i Kabir & the Mathnavi to the Shah-i Mardan (King of men), which usually refers to `Ali, as enigmatic mention of some future eschatalogical person (s), although one can pretty much read infinitely into Mowlana - the beauty of it! Interestingly, I've seen some Baha'is interpret even Ferdowsi & Hafiz in this light, Ferdowsi in his discussion of Farah-i Izad in the Shahnameh and Hafiz in the famous ghazal that goes: agar An Turk-i Shirazi be-dast Arad del-i mArA, be-khAl-i Hindu-yash bakhsham Samarqand o BukhArA rA...etc. If the Shirazi Turk can grasp (or understand) our hearts, I will give away Samarqand and Bukhara for a Hindu mole...etc. (probably a terrible translation on my part) A side note: Hafiz got himself into a lot of trouble with Timur-i Lang (Tamerlane) over the above opening of this ghazal and apparently retracted it at some point. Frank, you can tell us more about this incident. Many Baha'is interpret any reference to Shiraz in the ghazals of Hafiz as refering to the Manifestation of the Bab. While I can agree with them to a point, I also think it's really stretching it. But, then again, who am I to delimit Khawja Hafiz-i Shirazi! Anyway, to get back to the topic of Rumi, I'd really like to learn more about potential allusions to the Manifestations of the Bab & Baha'u'llah from the Divan & Mathnavi, `cause I'm just as much a novice here as anyone else. Btw, Ahang-i aziz, don't think for a moment you're in any way boring us with your posts on Hazrate Quddus. I for one am totally mesmerized by the discussion. Give us more these goodies :-) Warmest regards, Nima --- O God, cause us to see things as they really are - Hadith Strive to lead back the divine within you to the Divine in the All - Plotinus (d. 270 AD) From email@example.comMon Sep 11 11:47:11 1995 Date: Mon, 11 Sep 1995 18:58:56 +1200 From: Robert Johnston To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Re: Women, Saints, and Power Juan wrote: I cannot >understand, however, why anyone would deny that we *have* a >patriarchy-in-the-last-analysis. That just seems to me an instance of >wishing away uncomfortable realities. This sounds remarkably like an instance of pejorative labelling to me...but the view that the Faith is patriarchal does -- it would seem -- require analysis. 1) Is it possible to view the House as a something other than a solely masculine institution? I say yes, [for instance] the particular form of consultative decision-making employed by the House is unlike anything anything found in patriarchy and is, indeed, more reflective of the ideals of women than of those of men. 2) The Faith, in this Dispensation, will bring into being the Most Great Peace, which entails a correlation of the earthy and the heavenly. In the Kingdom gender distinctions are irrelevant when compared with distinctions of character, so the fact that the membership of the House is entirely male would not be a reason for alarm if we knew that those with the best character were elected. [One could conceive of the instance where men and women were eligible for membership, yet -- for whatever reason -- only men OR only women were on the House]. From this I assume that reason[s] for the exclusion of women is/are entirely temporal. Mark has suggested that the exclusion could have been implemented to save women from some future peril. I think the exclusion has been implemented because of the unique role of women in parenting. I strongly feel that the fact that this has been obscured arises from the marginalisation of the importance bringing of children into the world and of their early education. Which, from the viewpoint of physical bodies, are purely temporal phenomena primarily to do with women. But of the utmost importance, from the vantagepoint of the Kingdom. I concede that the Faith could be considered be patriarchal if Baha'is perpetuated the same appalling standards child care as have characterised the Old World Order. Engels pointed out that patriarchy arose because of the strategically advantageous location of men once grazing land and livestock became the basis of wealth. I would say that the basis of wealth -- hence the basis of power -- in the human world in the time of the Most Great Peace will be found to be in the nurturing of children. And here women, who carry the child for nine months, and who suckle the new-born infant [potentially] for a number of years are strategically placed... I must stress that this viewpoint is derived from my reading of the Writings AND from my experience of parenting, so I would not care to be told that it is sentimental and patriarchal and out of touch with the experience of "real" parents... But is IS "my" view. 3) I think that the letters of Burl and Tim (et al) have adequately undermined the notion of House membership as a legitimate human aspiration. Robert. From GreyOlorin@aol.comMon Sep 11 11:48:16 1995 Date: Mon, 11 Sep 1995 03:03:07 -0400 From: GreyOlorin@aol.com To: email@example.com Subject: Re: Women on UHJ Despite the subject heading, this posting will probably circle around the issue of women on the Universal House of Justice, rather than address it directly. Nevertheless, I do think I have several important points to make, and shall strive to make them as clearly and as briefly as possible. First, regarding the tone of the discussion on this issue, almost everyone agrees it is unaccaptable to accuse of Covenant-breaking those who believe women might serve on the Universal House of Justice during this Dispensation. This has surely improved the discussion, but I humbly suggest that further improvement will follow if we restrain ourselves from implying that whose who believe the existing ruling cannot be changed are in some way the victims and/or perpetrators of sexism, secretly desiring to continue the oppression of women. Many Baha'i men undoubtedly retain vestiges of sexism, inherited from their respective cultures. However, I suspect many Baha'i men, particularly in the Western nations, share my feelings on this issue. Far from wanting to exclude women from service on any Baha'i institution, I would greatly prefer a state of affairs in which women could be elected to the Universal House of Justice. Defending the Faith against its attackers, teaching the Faith to those who need its healing Message, and every other aspect of being a Baha'i would become far more simple if this ruling could be changed. (While we're at it, we could change quite a few other Teachings too: let Baha'is drink alcohol all they want, marry and divorce repeatedly with nobody's permission but their own, etc. Being a Baha'i might then become so simple that there would be no real difference between being a Baha'i and not being a Baha'i.) However, as everyone here will readily acknowledge on most matters, we cannot alter the rulings of the Supreme Body just to make our lives easier. Acknowledging this fact on the subject of women's service on the Universal House of Justice does not provide sufficient evidence that one wishes to oppress women, so let us dispense with any insinuations to that effect. Perhaps I'll do better at being brief with my next points. :) On the supposed difference between "an exchange or dialogue with" and "providing guidance to" the Universal House of Justice: it seems dangerous, just in terms of my own recognition of my lowly and humble station, to begin to believe that I might engage in dialogue with a divinely-guided Institution as if I were its equal. It seems even more dangerous to believe that one day, perhaps when its membership becomes more like me, this Institution will come to agree with what I've believed all along. Such a thought pattern would boil down to the belief that my ideas contain a more perfect expression of the Purpose of Baha'u'llah's Revelation than the decisions of the Universal House of Justice. This is in manifest conflict with everything I have ever seen in the Writings about the relationship between the body of the believers and that Supreme Body. On the Universal House of Justice as a center of power: of course the *institution* has considerable power, but in Baha'i belief, it wields that power *only* as an institution, and *only* in accordance with the Will and Purpose of God. The individual members thus have no power themselves, and thus the power generally held by men in society should not be enhanced by their eligibility to serve as members of that Body, nor should the power held by women in society be reduced by their ineligibility to serve on that Body. This, succinctly, is my understanding of Baha'i belief regarding the House. We may not have achieved this standard yet, but it *is* the standard, unless I am quite mistaken. I had another point, but now it seems important enough to merit an independent post, so I guess this one will turn out to be relatively brief after all. Warm regards to anyone still reading, Kevin Haines From GreyOlorin@aol.comMon Sep 11 11:49:31 1995 Date: Mon, 11 Sep 1995 03:03:23 -0400 From: GreyOlorin@aol.com To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: from one topic to others... And now I shall attempt to make the daring leap from the subject of women and the Universal House of Justice into others where the fruit of Talismanians' labors might be more urgently needed.... I find quite unconvincing every argument made so far in attempts to prove that the decisions of the Universal House of Justice are influenced by the cultural backgrounds and other individual traits of its members. In essence, they amount to the unsupported and unsupportable claim that the House would have decided differently if X had been member(s); and X generally turns out to be someone sharing the biases of the writer. I don't even know what kind of decisions the House would turn out if *I* were a member... (God forbid! :) But beyond being unconvincing, I think this line of reasoning turns us directly away from those that will be the most helpful in overcoming the hurdles presented by the current rulings of the House of Justice on this issue of women on the House. As many have pointed out, it is indeed difficult to reconcile the unequivocal statements of the equality of women and men presented in the Writings with the fact that women are not eligible to serve on the Universal House of Justice. For the average Baha'i it is, at best, simply a matter of faith, and unskilled efforts to explain it often do more harm than good. For observers outside the Faith (and even some within the Cause, as the past few days' postings here indicate) it may seem to be a sign that the Baha'is fail to live up to their own principles, and that the Central Figures of this religion were obviously not in touch with any higher knowledge, since they seemed to share the biases and prejudices of their culture and historical period. It seems to me that the best immediate solution to this dilemma lies in demonstrating, through concrete examples of its decisions, that the Universal House of Justice is no ordinary institution, and that its decisions have promoted equality and justice for women even though no women serve on it. I have seen only one alleged counterexample to such a line of reasoning, which, from what I know of it, does not really serve as a counterexample. The argument was made that a Universal House of Justice with female members would never have called the husband the head of the family. I am sure that this statement has been misinterpreted by many as giving men a superior station in their marital relationships, but in context it is crystal clear that it does no such thing. In the same message, the House writes that "There are . . . times when a wife should defer to her husband, and times when a husband should defer to his wife, but neither should ever unjustly dominate the other." In this and in numerous other decisions and messages, I think any unbiased researcher will find ample evidence that the Universal House of Justice has been far more consistent and revolutionary in promoting the rights of women than any human-created institution -- more so than even those institutions that do have female members. The usefulness of such a line of reasoning is not limited to this one issue. In almost every case, when the teachings of this Faith are attacked on the grounds that they conflict with values prevalent in modern progressive thought, I think a deeper examination can show that the Baha'i principles, if properly applied, provide a better means for achieving the good results sought by those same progressive ideals. A thorough development of this approach could enable great successes in teaching the Faith to people in nations and cultures which view themselves as progressive, such as the United States and other Western liberal democracies. For example, Baha'i views on the individual's role in society indicate that the Lockean thought underlying modern liberal democratic ideals contains serious, crippling flaws, which prevent the realization of the very ideals the West seeks to promote. Many outside the Baha'i Faith recognize at least some of these crippling flaws, but none have devised and implemented effective ways to overcome them. A truly innovative Baha'i effort in this area could revitalize the hopes of millions by showing them a way to finally bring into practice the ideals that have remained latent and unexpressed in their own cultural heritage. This will be the direction of my next explorations here on Talisman -- but please, if anyone else thinks this might be a fruitful field of inquiry, don't wait for me. Go ahead and get started on it. I rest assured in the knowledge that if this is a truly good idea, it belongs to no one, but originates in the Concourse on High. Warm regards to you all, Kevin Haines From email@example.comMon Sep 11 11:50:11 1995 Date: Mon, 11 Sep 1995 19:24:02 +1200 From: Robert Johnston To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Re: hidden motivations Juan Cole wrote: >As for your premises, that `Abdu'l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi were >omniscient and propositions drawn from their statements always inerrant, >I agree that this is a widespread belief in the Baha'i community. Had >you been on Talisman earlier, you would have been presented with a good >deal of textual evidence from the Writings that this point of view is >simply unfounded. IMV, the general view was that what 'Abdu'l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi said could be believed. Omniscient is a big word... Please refresh my memory...just one instance of unselfconscious errancy... >sssFinally, you have not responded to my point about principle, i.e., >that `Abdu'l-Baha says that equal human rights for all under the law is a >key teaching of Baha'u'llah; it seems fairly obvious that for women to be >excluded from some forms of administrative rights solely on the basis of >their sex is for them to be denied a human right and is discriminatory. Tim Nolan answered this well. But it would seem that to hold the view that the Faith denies human rights and is discriminatory is pretty serious stuff... Robert. From email@example.comMon Sep 11 11:50:38 1995 Date: Mon, 11 Sep 1995 00:45:05 -0700 From: "Marguerite K. Gipson" To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Re: abortion defense... Thank you Mark and John, I will defend my position on the topic to say that I do understand the House's stand in special instances on Abortion. For me, abortion is killing, I would not do it. I am over 35, and if I got pregnant,(God I wish) ( I have the chasity laws to abide by) I would carry the child to term, and raise it regardless of its health.... And even in the case of rape for me, I would ask God to grant me the strength to love this child... Where I live, the average 16 year old has had at least 2 by this age. Makes me crazy! It is a case of not acknowledging that pregnancy can occur, and if it does, then abortion is the answer. If some form of contraception is used, then there is some active acknowledgement of sexual activity, but if no contraception is used then the acknowledgement of that activity is not there and that ONE time won't be considered as being sexual active. (????) But again, it is based on the theory that it won't happen to me.... (pregnancy).... Where I live, most 14 year olds are sexually active, and in my town of 3500, right now, 8 girls in High School are pregnant..... And it ain't no biggee deal. Hey, I just called my 17 year old friend... and this is what she said. And I have counseled teens to have the child and give it up for adoption instead... I know of lots of couples who want to adopt. On a personal note.... Where do I find that kind of guy that does floors, assist with dishes, and a little house cleaning, besides all the rest of those nice duties you described??? Warmly, Margreet From email@example.comMon Sep 11 11:51:47 1995 Date: Mon, 11 Sep 1995 09:20:30 -0400 (EDT) From: Richard Vernon Hollinger To: "Stockman, Robert" Cc: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Re: interpreter/expounder A friend of mine, who viewed the original ms. (typescript?) of God Passes By and compared it with published versions, told me that it had clearly been edited--he specifically mentioned changes in capitalization and punctuation, but also minor word changes. He thought Horace Holley had edited the book for publication. I don't see why volumes of letters of Shoghi Effendi would have been treated differently, unless the Guardian had specifically requested that GPB be commented on and/or edited prior to publication (which seems likely). Richard Hollinger From Alethinos@aol.comMon Sep 11 11:51:56 1995 Date: Mon, 11 Sep 1995 09:27:45 -0400 From: Alethinos@aol.com To: email@example.com Subject: Re: America again Dear terry: Corrections noted - now I have a clearer historical image here - and it makes more sense. Thank you. And I agree with this approach more fully - so I will be wuite interested in seeing your posts. jim harrison Alethinos@aol.com From firstname.lastname@example.orgMon Sep 11 11:52:22 1995 Date: Mon, 11 Sep 1995 08:24:48 -0500 (EDT) From: "Mark A. Foster" To: email@example.com Subject: Patriarchy To: firstname.lastname@example.org Talismanians - One of the beloved wrote that the Baha'i adminstrative order, due to the all-male membership on the Universal House of Justice, is patriarchal. IMHO, this view is reductionistic. Whatever may be the wisdom surrounding its gender-specific membership, the House is, from my POV, not the nine (or however many members it will have in the future) souls who serve on it. It is a reality sui generis (of its own kind or on its own level). The Universal House of Justice is the Supreme Institution. It is guided by the Twin Universal Manifestations of this age. While their infallibility is both contextual (often dependent on information) and contextualized (adapted to time, place, and specific circumstances), I do find it difficult to believe that gender would condition guidance. As I wrote previously, what is, IMO, necessary for any well-functioning Baha'i institution, including the Universal House of Justice, is a sense of justice, i.e., a willingness to impartially ascertain the facts in a situation. The decisions of the Supreme Body are, as understand see it, infallibly guided within the context of the information available to the members. Greetings, Mark From email@example.comMon Sep 11 11:52:34 1995 Date: Mon, 11 Sep 95 07:50:01 -0400 From: Ahang Rabbani To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Hafiz [This message is converted from WPS-PLUS to ASCII] Nima-i aziz: Over 900 years ago, Hafiz (otherwise known as "Lisanu'l-ghib" (The Tongue from the Invisible Beyond)), wrote, Ay Saba bi sakinan-i ahl-i Yazd az ma bigo Kin sar-i haqq nashinasan, kuy-i maydan-i shumast (Oh Sheba, inform the dwellers of Yazd on our behalf, Infidels, this is a righteous head used as a ball in your game) During the Ministry of Baha'u'llah, when they martyred the Seven Martyrs of Yazd, they cut off the head of one of the martyrs and used it as a ball to play a Persian game of polo. love, ahang. From Don_R._Calkins@commonlink.comMon Sep 11 11:52:50 1995 Date: 11 Sep 1995 08:27:13 GMT From: "Don R. Calkins" To: GreyOlorin@aol.com Cc: email@example.com Subject: UHJ and Power > On the Universal House of Justice as a center of power: of course the > *institution* has considerable power, but in Baha'i belief, it > wields that power *only* as an institution, and *only* in accordance > with the Will and Purpose of God. Another question is - what is the source of that power? In popular belief in America, institutional power, like individual rights, comes with existance. An institution exists; therefore it has power. As I understand the Writings, in the Baha'i administrative system, institutional power, as well as individual rights, are a function of the exercise of responsibility. If this is in fact a principle of Baha'i administration, it alone will cause major changes in administrative methods. Don C He who believes himself spiritual proves he is not - The Cloud of Unknowing From firstname.lastname@example.orgMon Sep 11 18:00:12 1995 Date: Mon, 11 Sep 1995 12:15:37 -0400 (EDT) From: Juan R Cole To: email@example.com Subject: Baha'i rights Allah'u'Abha, Timothy. I agree with you that there is no a priori right of any Baha'i to serve on a Baha'i institution. However, that is not my point, and I'm sorry I was not more clear, apparently. Adult Baha'is in good standing do have administrative rights. These include the rights of voting for LSAs directly and for higher levels of the elected institutions indirectly; the right to be *eligible* for election to LSAs, NSAs, and the House; the right to give to the Baha'i Fund, etc. This is why we speak of someone's administrative "rights" being removed for certain infractions of Baha'i law. So what I am trying to say is that *eligibility* to be elected to Baha'i institutions is a human right of adult Baha'is in good standing. By Baha'u'llah's and `Abdu'l-Baha's own insistence on musavat-i huquq or the equality of rights, it is contrary to Baha'i scriptural principle for any adult Baha'i in good standing to be denied eligibility for election on the basis of ascribed statuses such as sex, race, religious background, etc. Yet current Baha'i practice is to deny women the right of eligibility to be elected to the House, solely on the basis of their sex. Timothy, it is true that you are not on the House, and have no a priori right to be. But you are, as an adult Baha'i male in good standing, eligible for election. Whereas your Baha'i female relatives and friends are not eligible, solely because of their sex. Can you really say this is fair or that it accords with Baha'i principles? Please note that I am not making this argument with reference to Locke, but rather with reference to the essential *Baha'i* principle of musavat-i huquq, or equality of rights under the law for all human beings, which `Abdu'l-Baha strictly enjoins in many works--Traveller's Narrative, PUP, etc., and which he identifies as the "Seventh Principle of Baha'u'llah." Incidentally, could someone please post the full text of the message from the House that makes men the head of Baha'i households? What exactly does it mean for a man to be the head of the household, if it does not imply certain patriarchal decision-making or property privileges inhering in maleness? I do not think that anyone is arguing that those Baha'is who cannot see any legal way for women to serve on the House have necessarily arrived at this position because of sexism or devotion to patriarchy. However, the end result of current Baha'i electoral practices is a sexist and patriarchal result, all attempts at terminological legerdemain to the contrary. And the invidiousness of this result is very clear if one only makes an analogical statement such as "only Whites may serve on the Universal House of Justice." My faith in Baha'u'llah and His principles leads me to entertain the hope that the Baha'i community and its inspired leadership will eventually find a way out of this bind. cheers, Juan Cole From firstname.lastname@example.orgMon Sep 11 18:02:40 1995 Date: Mon, 11 Sep 1995 13:02:31 -0400 (EDT) From: "Timothy A. Nolan" To: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Women, Universal House of Justice Dear Juan, You wrote: j> With regard to the possibility of women on the House, it j>seems to me that no one has answered Bill Garlington's j>challenging analogy. Discrimination on the basis of sex is no j>different than discrimination on the basis of race. What I'm going to say may seem a frivolous tangent, but here goes: I think one significant difference is that there is no rigorous, scientifically valid definition of race. Who, exactly is a black person, who, exactly is white? Of course race is an historical and social reality, but it is not a biological, genetic reality. In a scientific sense, there are no clear boundaries delimiting races. Suppose a child has a Scots father and a Yoruba (an ethnic group in West Africa) mother. Is the child white or black? In the U.S. the child would be defined socially, and maybe legally, as black. In another country the child might be perceived as neither black nor white. Sex, on the other hand, is clearly and rigorously defined. If the rule was that no Caucasian people are allowd to serve on the Universal House of Justice, it would be hard to determine exactly who are Caucasian people. My understanding is that people of northern India are Caucasian, although they may have brown skin. By comparison, Ethiopian people do not consider themselves black, according to what I have read. j> Saying women cannot serve on the House is morally j>equivalent to saying that, e.g., blacks cannot serve on the j>House. None of us (I hope) would put up with the latter j>position. Why is the former j>any different? If one starts from the assumption that membership on the Universal House of Justice is a right of every individual Baha'i, then maybe there would be moral equivalence. However, it is possible and logical to start from the premise that membership on the Universal House of Justice is not a *right* of anyone; therefore there is no injustice in excluding women, because they are not being deprived of anything that is rightfully theirs. If Baha'u'llah had ordained, in His Writings, that certain categories of people may not serve on the Universal House of Justice, then why should we not "put up with it"? God ordains what He wishes; we have no right to question or dispute with God's guidance. I understand, Juan, that you do not believe the Writings explicitly exclude women....I think they clearly do. Maybe we have to agree to disagree on that point. If the Writings said that black people could not be members of the House of Justice, this would not exclude anyone, since there are no people who are literally black. Some people have dark brown skin, but I've never seen or heard of anyone whose skin was literally black. Even if a person's skin was literally black, that does not mean the person is black; a person is not defined by skin color. Of course they are so defined socially, but I mean in a scientific sense, and in a spiritual sense. The reality of any person is the soul or spirit, not the physical body. j>As for the argument that Baha'u'llah said so, and we must j>simply accept what He said, I have gone blue in the face trying j>to demonstrate that He said no such thing; Juan, You sometimes make the point that neither Abdu'l Baha nor Shoghi Effendi had access to all 7,000 extant documents authored by Baha'u'llah. I assume the same is true of you, therefore how do you actually know that Baha'u'llah never said this? It seems to me that, with regard to knowledge of all that Baha'u'llah wrote, a modern scholar is not in a much better position than Shoghi Effendi....and a modern scholar does not have the tremendous advantage of receiving unfailing, unerring guidance from Baha'u'llah and the Bab. j>The fact is that the Universal House of Justice is the power j>center of the Baha'i Faith. I agree. The *institution* is the center of authority and power. The nine men who serve on the House are not centers of any power at all. The decisions of the Universal House of Justice are "the truth and the purpose of God Himself"; the House's decisions are not the purpose of those nine men, but the purpose of the Source of knowledge and wisdom. j> To exclude women permanently from this body is to endow them j>with less power in the Baha'i community than men. First of all, I don't think we should be seeking power. The teachings make it plain that we should seek to serve others, not to have power over others. Second, at present, only nine men, out of roughly two million Baha'i men, can be members of the House of Justice. So, in practical reality, the odds of any particular man being on the House of Justice are almost zero. Therefore, men in general do not have any power denied to women. Third, as others have pointed out, women, as the first educators of the next generation, have significant influence and power to which men do not have the right. It is true that raising children is not accorded high prestige in modern society. But that is not because child raising is inherently demeaning, but rather because the leaders of opinion do not see clearly. Current social norms and standards are not based on reality. The reality, in my view, is that any category of people (women), who have the God-given right to educate the next generation.... that category of people has great influence and power in the long term. What if Martin Luther King Jr.'s mother had raised him to be a cynical self-centered materialist? What if Martha Root's mother had raised her to be cruel and indifferent to spiritual matters? What if Isaac Newton's mother had abused her son so that he became brain damaged? The principle is clear. j> As for those who maintain that the Universal House of Justice j>is unaffected by the gender or culture of its members, this is j>patently untrue. I agree that the culture of the members has an affect on the House of Justice. This is why I look forward to the time when there will be more native Africans, native Latin Americans, native East Asians, native Americans on the House. And I also hope there will be members whose background is poverty or peasant life. But the fact that members culture affects the House does not mean that the House makes bad or incorrect decisions because of who the members are. The Writings make it plain that the House of Justice is guarded from error no matter who the members are. If the members are nine Kenyan bankers, or nine Laotian farmers, or nine Swedish musicians, or nine illiterate shepherds, or nine men who all have Down's syndrome......no matter who the members are, the House's decisions are the truth and the purpose of God Himself. j>A House full of Western university professors in the humanities j>would never have dreamed of ordering a primary source such as j>Salmani's memoirs of Baha'u'llah to be bowdlerized in English j>translation. According to Abdu'l Baha, the decisions of the Universal House of Justice are the "real truth" and the "purpose of God Himself". Now, Juan, this is extraordinary. Do you mean that you know what the "real truth" and "the purpose of God Himself" would have been if the membership of the House had been different? Please let us in on how you know that. Do you believe that the "real truth" and the "purpose of God Himself" change based on who the members of the House are? j> Saying we believe in the equality of women and men and yet j>keeping them off the most powerful institution in our religion j>is bound to be seen by the outside world as both hypocritical j>and sexist. I think you are right, that will be the perception of much of the world. And that perception will be incorrect. The fact that others call us hypocritical and sexist does not mean we *are* hypocritical and sexist. Reality is not correctly determined by what people say. That which is right and good is properly defined by what the Messenger of God and His lawful successors have said, not by what fallible people say. Sexism, meaning unfair prejudice against one sex or the other, is morally wrong. The teachings of Baha'u'llah, Abdu'l Baha, Shoghi Effendi and the Universal House of Justice are, by definition, purely good. It follows, therefore, that the Baha'i teachings, by definition, cannot be sexist, because sexism is wrong. Of course, it would not be wise to say that to someone who has not accepted Baha'u'llah's message. Nevertheless, "the good" is whatever the authoritative Baha'i writings say, not what social fashions or popular opinions dictate. j> But it (the rule that only men may be members of the Universal j> House of Justice) is also contradictory to Baha'i values j>themselves. It seems to me that this rule comes from the clear texts of the Master, the Guardian, and the House of Justice. I believe, therefore this rule is right and good and by definition cannot be contradictory to Baha'i values. Baha'i values are whatever the writings say they are, not what we think or believe. The Guardian's writings, the statements of the Universal House of Justice, *are* Baha'i values. j>I hear voices saying that no change is possible, things are set j>in stone. I'm not sure whose voice said that. I think the rule may not be permanent, but will stand at least until the next Manifestation of God comes. The next Manifestation, of course, can change anything or everything. Tim Nolan email@example.com ! From Member1700@aol.comMon Sep 11 18:07:13 1995 Date: Mon, 11 Sep 1995 14:07:12 -0400 From: Member1700@aol.com To: Talisman@indiana.edu Subject: Re: Women, Saints, and Power Juan was quite right to point out that the feminist women in my little story were utterly unimpressed (as they should be) will ascriptions of high spiritual status to women in any religion. They knew quite well that such protestations of the high spiritual status that women have in this or that religion are universal. They usually mask the exclusion of women from positions of authority on some level. Hence, the question that was their acid test--Can the highest office in the community be held by a woman? (Please note that they were uninterested in theology.) Surely they are right. After all, the Virgin Mary holds a theological position (as the Mother of God, etc.) much higher than anything that we have attributed to any woman in the Baha'i Faith. That does not seem to have had any effect whatsoever on providing women with equal right in Christian societies. But on another note, on the same subject--no one has brought up Susan Stiles argument concerning women on the House of Justice. I believe that she presented her view in a paper given at one of the scholarly conferences held in Wilmette recently (or maybe it was at an AAR conference, Rob Stockman can help me out here). Anyway, she noted that whenever the word "wisdom" (hikmat) was used in the Tablets of 'Abdu'l-Baha, that this is always coded language to indicate a temporary practice that is adopted by the Baha'i community for reasons of expediency or for the safety of the believers. It also implies that such a practice is actually contrary to the Baha'i teachings, and will eventually be discarded. Thus there are Tablets of 'Abdu'l-Baha to the women in Iran urging them to continue to wear the veil (chadur) for reasons of wisdom. Baha'i were instructed not to teach the Faith, since it would be contrary to wisdom. And so forth. In this light, the Tablet of 'Abdu'l-Baha which indicates that the "wisdom" (he uses the word hikmat) of exclusion of women from the House of Justice --historically, he meant the local House of Justice, but the reference can be understood to refer to the institution in general--that the wisdom of that exclusion would become clear in the future, could be understood to mean that this is only a temporary provision which will eventually be changed as circumstances allow it. This struck me as a very interesting argument which would certainly apply to the other instances of 'Abdu'l-Baha enjoining "wisdom" on the community. I wonder if Juan or Ahang might comment. Warmest, Tony From firstname.lastname@example.orgMon Sep 11 18:08:36 1995 Date: Mon, 11 Sep 95 13:31:01 -0400 From: Ahang Rabbani To: email@example.com Subject: Re: Women, Saints, and Power [This message is converted from WPS-PLUS to ASCII] My ex-neighbor and good friend, Tony, wrote: > ... Susan Stiles argument concerning women on ... [snip] > ... I wonder if Juan or Ahang might comment. Yes, I'll be happy to comment, and here's my comment: BRILLIANT!! Damn, that woman is smart! End of Ahang's comments. From firstname.lastname@example.orgMon Sep 11 18:25:05 1995 Date: Mon, 11 Sep 95 12:50:04 PDT From: Rick Schaut To: Talisman@indiana.edu Subject: Re: Women, Saints, and Power Dear Talizens, I sense an underlying assumption which seems to have been adopted without being clearly stated nor has its validity been adequately established. The assumption is that a patriarchical structure is anathema to the principle of equality of men and women. I'd like to explore this just a bit, and welcome other thoughts. At one time, I used to believe that kingship was anathema to Baha'i notions of equality. My belief was based, largely, upon the historical evidence of oppression at the hands of despotic rulers. I believed that the only way to prevent such oppression was to adopt an elected form of leadership. Much to my surprise, I discovered that a constitutional monarchy was the favored form of government. When I examined this issue further, it became clear to me that Baha'u'llah was taking an existing notion and turning it on its head, making it to achieve precicely the opposite of what it had accomplished in the past. I'm inclined to believe that the same is true of the exclusion of women from membership on the Universal House of Justice. There is little question that this creates a patriarchical Administrative Order. There is, also, little question that this Administrative Order is charged with seeing that the principle of equality of men and women is realized in all affairs of the community. This leads me to ask, what precisely constitutes the realization of this principle? I believe that the true realization of the equality of men and women lies in a change in the attitudes of every human being on the planet. A while back, I mentioned an incident where my neighbor's son expressed surprise at my daughter's interest in toy motorcycles. What role does 'power' play in the attitudes of a four year old boy? Modern feminist theory holds that the way to achieve equality is from the top down. This view, when divorced from the principles and manifold teachings of the Baha'i Faith, is probably valid, because there is no common view of humanity from which to inculcate any sort of change. Lacking such a common view, one has nothing to do but deal with the image fostered by the structure of society. Within the Baha'i Faith, however, there does exist a common view of humanity from which to bring about change in a bottom-up fashion. Attitudes can be addressed from the standpoint of principle rather than the standpoint of the image projected by an ultimately patriarchical structure. Hence, once again, I see a way in which Baha'u'llah has taken something so closely associated, historically, with the oppression of women, and turned it on its head. I regard this as nothing short of a sign of the power of Baha'u'llah's Revelation, and yet another indication of the meaning of the verse, "Verily, He doeth whatsoever He willeth." Warmest Regards, Rick Schaut From email@example.comMon Sep 11 18:25:40 1995 Date: Mon, 11 Sep 95 15:12:10 From: "Stockman, Robert" To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Re: Women, Saints, and Power For those interested in Susan Stiles Maneck's paper about "Wisdom," a version of it will be presented at the Religious Studies Seminar of the Association for Baha'i Studies, Thursday, October 12, 1995, San Francisco. I should be able to post the entire schedule in a few days. The program will be day-long )don't worry Junan, we'll schedule for the afternoon). Susan's paper does not say that every time `Abdu'l-Baha uses the word "wisdom" He is referring to a temporary measure. Rather, her argument focuses on the idea that "wisdom" is similar to the Shi'ite idea of dissimulation. Shiites can deny their Faith; Baha'is cannot; but Baha'is must use wisdom in what they say about their Faith. Perhaps Tony--who will also be speaking at our Religious Studies Seminar!--can ask Susan a question about this very point and its relevance to women. -- Rob Stockman From email@example.comMon Sep 11 18:26:21 1995 Date: Mon, 11 Sep 95 14:51:50 From: "Stockman, Robert" To: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com Subject: Re: hidden motivations <<>> True enough. But one could argue that men *as a gender* have the "right" to be elected to the House and women do not. And then we are right back to square one again. In this I agree with Juan: not electing women to the House of Justice makes no rational sense. I disagree with him, however, in that I think this prohibition is clearly based in Baha'i scripture and therefore it cannot be overturned. In fact, after these weeks of discussion, I still find it hard to understand why people think the clear statements of `Abdu'l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi can be overturned (especially by the House of Justice, which has already said they can't be!). The House, in its letter to the New Zealand NSA, has also said the exclusion of women "has nothing to do" with the equality of the sexes. By this I take it they mean at the level of principle. The only way I can reconcile all these various statements is to postulate various future scenarios, such as the next "Man"ifestation will be a Womanifestation and must be spared from the onerous duty of service on the House; or that the next Man/Womanifestation will say only women can serve and men can't for the next thousand years. Who knows? Someday it will be as clear as the sun in the noon-day sky, but not on September 11, 1995. -- Rob Stockman From Dave10018@aol.comMon Sep 11 18:26:36 1995 Date: Mon, 11 Sep 1995 17:04:06 -0400 From: Dave10018@aol.com To: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com Cc: DAVEJORDAN@aol.com Subject: Re: a riff on grace but mostly on postmodernism and world order and love Dear Robert, Sorry to be so slow with this after you were so fast with your response. You touch on a lot and with vividness and your own blunt grace. In fact, when so many thoughts rush into the mind it is hard to say anything at all. I did not see "Last of the Mohecans" but the presence of grace in a work of art, as in any human product, points to the paradox that grace does not depend on purity of intention in any simple way. Scoundrels can make great art as surely nice people can make forgettable art, and what is great for me may be meaningless to you. You remark that grace is the opposite of selfishness. I suppose in a way, but such opposites coincide all the time. One could say that clouds are the opposite of earth, but grace rains down on "the high and low alike." I am moved to remind you that even if raindrops are carried down by angels, still, dogs get wet. I don't know the story about Nietzsche and the lightening bolt. Where do you find it? My knowledge of this as many writers is sketchy and largely secondhand but allows me to make some connections which i am willing to try for all their worth. >You make a good point when you indicate that modernism proclaimed itself as >a liberatory project. However, how do you square this proclamation with >the view expressed by the Guardian and the House (and prefigured in the >Writings of Baha'u'llah and 'Abdu'l-Baha) that the fortunes of humanity >are approaching their lowest ebb? What happened to the promises of >modernity? What is the road to Hell paved with, Robert? And what is the purpose of Hell?" O Son of Man! My calamity is My providence,outwardly it is fire and vengeance, but inwardly it is light and mercy. Hasten thereunto that thou mayest become an eternal light and an immortal spirit.This is My command unto thee, do thou observe it." "There shall suddenly appear that which shall cause the limbs of mankind to quake." "If Khidr did wreck the vessel on the sea, Yet in this wrong there are a thousand rights." Since the collapse of the old order we have been in a period of crisis so unlike earlier times that we have called our age "modern." In "modernity" we try to adapt to the loss of divine authority and develop some kind of stable ethic out of the crisis. Of course all such efforts fail, as do efforts to reproduce the authority of old. Anxiety, disharmony, all manner of fanaticism and superstition, selfishness and injustice all run rampant, but there is no alternative! We are modern whether we like it or not! The Divine Right of Kings is gone and cannot be ressurrected until kings take the stairway to the Shrine of the Bab. The age is decadent. Modern evils are ancient evils unleashed as society has lost the mechanisms that kept them in check.( For instance, native America was for some thousands of years protected from contact with Europe by an ocean.) This does not mean that people don't have good intentions, and we as Baha'is should sympathize with people's good intentions! Also, out of all this comes a tremendous amount of creativity. After all, it is Baha'u'llah who ushered in the New Age, and people are developing not only technical means but all manner of symbolic representations which declare that a new age is here, that a rare crisis, nearly unparalled in human history is here(the parallel with the Collapse of Rome is pretty close), that the moon is turned blood red and the stars fallen to earth. New stars fall every day. "I have seen the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving, hysterical, naked..." This crisis is necessary. Shoghi Effendi also says that. Our culture is empty because at its center is a space demanding anxiously to be filled. Like Hell in the Quranic verse, the one where Hell cries out for more. Whoever or whatever tries to fill that space is eaten alive, but ultimately the Faith will fill it. Shoghi Effendi somewhere describes the world at the point of the lesser peace as a beautiful but lifeless body. We must breathe life into it. We do not do this by cursing every effort made in the last two hundred years or by sneering at present culture. We do it by reinterpreting whatever we can get our hands on. Heidegger and Winnie the Pooh, Elvis Presley and Minnie Mouse and Mother Teresa and W.E.B.Dubois and Bill De Kooning and Georgia O'Keefe and Ray Charles and Cher and John and Yoko and Mick and Keith and Paul and Linda too. As individuals we are just reflections of each other and bits of grace. Grace is scattered everywhere and we should be connoisseurs of grace, slick and funky. What I like best about the postmodern writers is the assertion that texts can be used as sources of meanings without worrying about the author's intentions.Texts reveal different meanings to different readers with different frames of reference. Meanings show up the author had no idea of. The Bab said something similar about poets to Mulla Husayn at Mahku. He said that poets can be inspired with prophetic words the import of which they are unaware.In the Seven Valleys Baha'u'llah describes how "many colored globes" reflect the light. Now, any style of music, any style of art,is being actively practiced and reproduced today. Without effort you can listen to Mozart and Mahler and Ladysmith Black Mombazo in one afternoon, while viewing images by Goya and Cindy Sherman. Hey, is this the Day of Resurrection, or what? We are learning to be more flexible. The male membership of the Universal House of Justice has, in my view, nothing to do with women's capacity to serve. The sooner we accept that the sooner we can talk about the real reasons for it. Any attempt to explain it in terms of capacity or "function" or role of women has the effect of reading into it limitations on women that are not there and which women are disproving every day and which we as believers in women's equality do not want women to be bound by. Such attempts rest on the assumption that there must be a rational practical reason for the limitation, a reason why the House must work better without women, or be more acceptable at present without them. I think none of these apply. I do think the all-male House of Justice does represent,along with some other features of the Faith such as the attitude toward Kings and the male Gaurdianship, a symbolically significant remnant of patriarchy. There might be reasons why such a remnant might be desirable psychologically in an age when other marks of patriarchy will be gone. If we try to understand it rationally, as if the exclusion of women from the House membership were made for some practical non-symbolic reason, we are confusing symbolic and practical realms. I will go over this in a seperate post. I offer these thoughts as thoughts. dave From firstname.lastname@example.orgMon Sep 11 18:27:09 1995 Date: Mon, 11 Sep 95 15:09:01 -0400 From: Ahang Rabbani To: email@example.com Subject: Quddus -- response to a note ... [This message is converted from WPS-PLUS to ASCII] On Sept 9, 1995, Jonathan wrote: >Dear Ahang! > >In the month that I have been on Talisman, I have never seen anyone make a >topic sound so exciting as this one! I have always wondered about the >station of Quddus, along with trying to understand the significance of the >Bab's Revelation. Thank you for bringing up this topic, and please keep >posting! Once I can get my mind around it all, I will join in. > >Tell me, are those translations yours? I mean especially the one from >Baha'u'llah's Writings about Quddus: > > " O My Lord, thy praise be upon Him Who is the Last One to > be sent down, Whose essence is the same as His (the > Bab's) essence, and His manifestation is the same as His > manifestation, only that He acquired His radiance from > Him and prostrated Himself before Him and testified to > His own servitude..." > >This is great! Very rarely do I find provisional translations which >actually convey the power of Baha'u'llah's words. Most of them always seem >to lack something deep down. These translations are incredible. > >One of the most intriguing things for me about this Revelation, is how it is >so great and vast that it required such incredible souls just to prepare the >way for it. It seems almost like God decided to allocate the best souls he >had in His repertoire, so to speak, to be on earth just for that nine year >period. You would think that He would have wanted them to be around for the >longest possible time. Of course, these last statements are made with a >whole lot of assumptions about what "best" is. But it's interesting anyway. > >Keep it up! > >Jonathan Dear Jonathan: I deeply appreciate your note of encouragement -- I draw much strength and energy from it. The Hand of the Cause Samandari used to say that when you look at all the Writings of the Faith, its 90 percent encouragement! Only about 10 percent other things, but God knows that we grow through encouragement. As such, thank you for your encouragement. I'm glad that you're enjoying these postings. Actually, I must confess that this is my first chance to share some of these materials with a group of learned Baha'is. I'm hoping for feedback so I can adjust my thinking and presentations accordingly. As such, I'll be most interested in your comments and eagerly look forward to them, as your time permits. I fully concur with you about the unique character of the Babi Dispensation and the august station of the dawn-breakers of our Faith. Their story must be told properly. The beloved Guardian expected that this will be a service which the future historians will labor towards. I think what we can do at this stage is to assemble the primary documents in anticipation for this wonderful task that future historians will discharge. As to the provisional translations, the beauty of Baha'u'llah's stupendous Revelation is that its so *luminous* that no matter how defective the instruments for conveyance (in this case, this insignificant translator), its light will shine forth brilliantly. How can one obscure the Sun? with much love, ahang. From KOLINSSM@hcl.chass.ncsu.eduMon Sep 11 18:27:32 1995 Date: Mon, 11 Sep 1995 17:56:20 EDT From: Steven Kolins To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Re: factors affecting the Wisdom > Dear Talismanians, > > It is true that the wisdom that Abdu'l-Baha has refered to will be > clear erelong, as He has put it. But I think the fullfilment of this > wisdom is dependent on the following factors that have some bearing > on it (of course not in this order): Sorry if this has been picked up on - i'm getting caught up on mail.... Why do think there *should* be pre-requisites for the sun of this issue to shine in its noon splendour? By the use of the analogy i suppose that it is possible that there are some clouds that need to be cleared, but what do you think? And how would understanding the role of the history of the totality of creation in the Baha'i Writings delineate the role of women? Also i see the majority of the planet becomeing Baha'is playing a role only if the effect of the planet's peoples is to cloud our understanding - which well it might. Is that why you bring it up? :) Steven All I need is Freedom of spirit, Chastity of soul, and Purity of heart. A pov is not even secondary. From email@example.comMon Sep 11 18:28:24 1995 Date: Mon, 11 Sep 1995 16:52:18 -0500 (EDT) From: "Mark A. Foster" To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Gender and the House To: email@example.com Timothy A. Nolan wrote to the multiple recipients of firstname.lastname@example.org T >Baha'i values are whatever the writings say they are, not what T >we think or believe. The Guardian's writings, the statements of T >the Universal House of Justice, *are* Baha'i values. Hi, Tim and other Talismanians - Tim, I wanted to first agree with your statement. The Baha'i definition of equality is not dependent on outside sources - however well reasoned. Even in cases where terms are adopted by the Central Figures from other contexts, the meaning may be quite different. `Abdu'l-Baha spoke of science to Western audiences. However, IMHO, a deeper reading of His words indicates that He was referring to something considerably deeper than the essentially anti-metaphysical approach all too frequently advocated by seventeeth- and eighteenth-century Enlightenment thinkers and by the nineteenth-century positivists. The Master used a term which His listeners were familiar with as a thought bridge. He was, IMO, challenging them to cross over their personal frameworks and arrive at the realm of inner reality. When great Beings like the Prophets and the Mystery of God use human languages, not everything can be perfectly conveyed. Contradictions appear because of the inadequacy of an analogical rational discourse using symbol vehicles from the kingdom of names and attributes. These paradoxes, such as that between, on the one hand, the notion of equality and, on the other, men as the ones to engage in combat, women as the first parents, fathers as the primary providers and protectors (the meaning "head" of the family, according to the House), and the male membership in the twin institutions of the Guardianship and the Universal House of Justice, are, IMV, like Zen koans calling us to see a resolution in a higher level of reality. When we attempt to explain the divine utterances, we inevitably introduce additional contradictions. In much the same way, words like "equality" and "science" are among the "symbolic terms and abstruse allusions" - an appreciation of which, as Baha'u'llah wrote, will distinguish the pure in heart from those that are earthly. The outer meaning, IMV, is not what is intended. Referring to present-day views of equality is interesting as a comparative exercise, but it does not necessarily aid one to better understand the Sacred Texts. Likewise, arriving at our own interpretations of the words of Baha'u'llah and the Master on the subject of the membership of the Supreme Body may be useful - except when they they are over-ruled by an authorized interpreter. IMHO, in order to understand equality, the Baha'i Sacred Texts and its authoritative interpretations and elucidations certainly must be consulted. For example, what does the word "wisdom" mean? How will we arrive at the point when we will have sufficient wisdom to appreciate the reason for what, according to the Universal House of Justice, is the Dispensational exclusion of women from membership on that body? Is not the Master calling us to develop a spiritual quality (wisdom) which will enable us to view this matter from an overall (spiritual or eternal) viewpoint? Apparently, we have not as yet developed this degree of wisdom and will not achieve it until we arrive at a future stage in the progressive Revelation of the Word of God within this Dispensation. One of the beloved wrote that he wished there was a way to allow women on the Supreme Body - but that he did not see how that could be done. From my perspective, the only appropriate matter to wish for, in this respect, is the triumph of the Cause of God - a success which is not ulltimately dependent on whether our views conform to popular ones. We do not know the wisdom for the exclusion of women. However, we do know that the Will of God is expressed, contextually, in the words of the Universal House of Justice, and that this same Body has supported the interpretation of the beloved Guardian of the words of the Master on the membership of the Universal House of Justice. The House itself, of course, has no gender. Loving greetings, Mark From email@example.comMon Sep 11 18:29:22 1995 Date: Tue, 12 Sep 1995 10:08:54 +1200 From: Robert Johnston To: Juan R Cole , firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Re: Baha'i rights Ffolks, Re: However, the >end result of current Baha'i electoral practices is a sexist and >patriarchal result, all attempts at terminological legerdemain to the >contrary. And the invidiousness of this result is very clear if one only >makes an analogical statement such as "only Whites may serve on the >Universal House of Justice." I really feel that considerable caution is required when dealing with a comment such as this when it is made by a mature and deepened Baha'i. Clearly the writer is expressing a viewpoint which is entirely inconsistent with the tenets of the Faith. Further, from my observations, I have not seen the viewpoint alter, even when confronted by sustained, clear, cogent and sagacious responses. Rather than become involved in the horrors of idle disputation, I do not intend addressing the viewpoint of this correspondent on this matter again -- as long as this kind of statement is articulated. I strongly advise others to do the same. Some things are not funny. Robert. From KOLINSSM@hcl.chass.ncsu.eduMon Sep 11 18:29:57 1995 Date: Mon, 11 Sep 1995 18:19:54 EDT From: Steven Kolins To: email@example.com Subject: Re: Baha'i/Buddism unity? > In talking with Baha'is on compuserve and elsewhere this became patently > obvious. There is not yet a strong tradition of Baha'i apologetics for Baha'is > to draw upon when entering in a discussion like this, which can result some > floundering and can also lead to the disasters such as Fozdar's two works on > Buddhism. While agree with the former i question the leap on the last. There are things about Fozdar's books i do not quite like - more in the realm of science analogies though my recolection is not clear these few years later. However his working of prophecy dates and such seem quite useful, if not widely held ( with respect to _Buddha Matreya Amitabha Has Appeared_(spelling off, but you get the reference.)) > > > "I follow him in most instances in seeing that there are connections > between fundamental insights in the mystical systems East and West yet also > underlying differences that remain, even at the level of pure mystical > experience." < Perhaps - mystical expereince is i think, wondering lost in the valley of God. However i know a freind Baha'i working on an article/book which examines the unity of Christ and Buddha - in that they both laid claim to pure unity with the Ultimate Reality. "I and the Father are one" parallels some statement apparently in Buddhist Scriptures. .... > > > "the soul is an unknowable essence" < > > Then how do you know that you have, or are, one? In very important ways, i don't. Just as i don't know my own station. Yet when i say i don't know i have one i could be tetering on not knowing anything about how to explain, no reference for, something i never the less feel. After death, forced into a realm with the context for the expression of the souls qualities, it may be considered. > Which seems to be a real challenge for Baha'i, because the run of the mill > Baha'i is likely to approach other religions in terms that are dismissive of > what is unique to that religion on the basis of what they hold progressive > revelation to be. Run of the mill Baha'is i see coming from directions i would never have supposed. I see more patience than i have, i see more comfort in troubling circumstances, more flexibility in social strata, more direct insights that leave me grasping for breath. Perhaps you mean Baha'is who do not take their spiritual life in hand? :) Steven All I need is Freedom of spirit, Chastity of soul, and Purity of heart. A pov is not even secondary. From firstname.lastname@example.orgMon Sep 11 22:36:45 1995 Date: Mon, 11 Sep 1995 17:40:40 -0500 (CDT) From: John Haukness To: Juan R Cole Cc: email@example.com Subject: Re: Baha'i rights Allah-u-abha Friends: Would there be any way we could see positives in the terms patriarcal and matriarcal, perhaps along the lines that the two words are merely an extention of correspondingly, men and women, and that the words negative connotations come from societal misuse? That is if a man makes a family decision it would be a patriarcal decision and if the woman made an identical decision, it would be a matriarcal. And if there might be some flexible general differences, such as the man generally deferring to the women in areas of raising the children and the woman sometimes deferring to the man in some cases of how to earn income to buy clothing for the children (assuming such an arrangement would be mutually agreed upon) would this not represent a patriarcal matriarcal arrangement with the potential towards family respect and not be indicative of gender disrespect? firstname.lastname@example.org From M.C.Day@massey.ac.nzMon Sep 11 22:43:33 1995 Date: Tue, 12 Sep 1995 11:56:15 GMT=1200 From: Mary Day To: email@example.com Subject: Female/male in Sufi thought Dear Nima, Like you I hope this will be a productive enquiry and your careful responses to my questions are an important step. As I have said before I am interested in Bahai conceptions of the masculine and feminine principles, so I do not intend dwelling here on side issues arising from your reponses. As you said you haven't read widely in feminism and I haven't read widely in Sufi metaphysics so I am relying on your knowledge. You are right in thinking that the femininst writers, Faludi, Steinem and Daly don't have a lot to offer in these questions [Daly may have more than the others]but there are others whose work would be worth looking at but I don't know who they are . I will be talking to a friend who does know about this as soon as she returns from holiday and get back to you with any suggestions. I don't have time to do a literature search myself just now. Perhaps someone else here can help. Thank you for your suggestions of things I could read. I will add them to my list but other commitments mean it will probably be 1997 before I get to them. I agree with you that maleness and femaleness in the context of this kind of discussion should be viewed as metaphysical principles and not necessarily persons and that this symbolism can be utilised to express a Reality, as you said. I just don't think that active/passive or women as the centre of the circle and men as the periphery are appropriate/useful ways of characterising these. These are points that I intend coming back to at greater length once I have gathered some other information. Another aspect of this I am considering is whether what we are pondering are gender or biological sex differences. Something else I will be revisiting. Now I want to ask you for further clarification of a couple of your responses. My questions 3 was about the association of women with perfume and prayer. This was in fact a question on my part and not an objection that this hadith objectifies women. I was actually asking you what the 'dynamic context of the hadith itself' is. I was hoping to draw you out a little here so that you would explain how you would understand this. Can you have another go? Please? I didn't understand your answer to number 6, re what is meant by active and passive. Can you elaborate? Nima, I realise that these questions are easy for me to ask and not so easy for you especially in these time and space constraints, to answer but I appreciate your efforts and have found them very helpful so far. All I am hoping for are some pointers to further areas for thought and meditation and to get a flavour for the subject rather than a three course meal. Thanks Nima. With love Mary From M.C.Day@massey.ac.nzMon Sep 11 22:45:57 1995 Date: Tue, 12 Sep 1995 13:08:34 GMT=1200 From: Mary Day To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: REFER Dear Talismans, The next step in my pursuit of feminine and masculine principles in the Bahai Faith is to look at the Writings about this. I have seen reference to REFER from time to time but I don't know exactly what it is or who has access to it. Is this something I could do myself [I have access to WWW, Netscape, all that good stuff] or is it something someone else can do for me? I am hopeful of the latter of course . Can I just say will someone please find references to feminine and masculine principles and someone will do that? If this is so and someone is willing could you let me know. Thanks. Linda, it is great to have you back. Your comments about women Sufis have added context to Nima's explanation. If anyone else wants to direct me to quotes on the feminine and masculine principles I would be very grateful. I realise the list is very busy with some very interesting topics at the moment so I am just preparing the ground for the next interesting topic. Thanks again Mary From LWALBRID@cluster.ucs.indiana.eduMon Sep 11 22:46:27 1995 Date: Mon, 11 Sep 95 20:21:00 EWT From: LWALBRID@cluster.ucs.indiana.edu To: email@example.com Subject: oh, those women again! Dear Robert, please don't be upset! We women in the U.S. have been comparing the race and gender equality issues for years. It sounds good and it makes us feel better. But nothing ever comes of it. Nothing ever changes. So, don't worry. As for mothers and babies, it has been my understanding, and correct me if I'm wrong, that women have been having babies for an awfully long time. But the world still isn't exactly the way we would like it to be. Actually, what some of us had in mind was serving on some sort of committee or being a part of some institution where we could sort of arrange things the way we'd like them. I'm talking world scale here. I envision sitting on some august body making decisions that are going to affect the way people organize themselves in groups, maybe make some decisions on issues of morality. You get the idea. I have a dream. But, don't worry. It's just a dream. It can't be reality. We women aren't able to fulfill this dream. We're busy having babies. The world needs us to have lots and lots more babies so that we don't have time to worry about things like construction of buildings, dispersion of funds (or time to write sarcastic notes on e-mail). Linda From LWALBRID@cluster.ucs.indiana.eduMon Sep 11 23:06:31 1995 Date: Mon, 11 Sep 95 19:34:54 EWT From: LWALBRID@cluster.ucs.indiana.edu To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: sufi women Juan, I only meant that she is the only one that is ever mentioned. I don't really doubt that there were others, only that men have not seen fit to do them justice. When they need to make the point of how liberal they are regarding women, they mention "many women mystics" and then use Rabi'a's name. Rather pathetic, don't you think? Linda From email@example.comMon Sep 11 23:09:33 1995 Date: Mon, 11 Sep 95 09:45:01 -0400 From: Ahang Rabbani To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Quddus -- part 6 [This message is converted from WPS-PLUS to ASCII] Dear Friends, In our discussion of the life and writings of Quddus, we got as far as His return back to Barfurush after His 3 years of study with Siyyid Kazim and the beginning of persecutions which some six years later cost Him his life. The early to middle of the 19th century in Iran marks a period of particularly high tension between Akhbari and Usuli factions of Shi'i religion -- respectively, representing the orthodox and progressive factions of Shi'i school of thoughts in Islam. This competition was specially aggravated given the challenge which Shaykhi matrix of thought presented to the Usuli factions The clash between Shaykhi and Usuli followers (which by the middle of the 19th century were the dominant force) was later translated to the ideological clash between the Babis and Usulis. It is against this background that we note Quddus' sufferings as a leader of Shaykhi faction in Barfurush during His year-long stay there. In this period, His sole supporter was His childhood teacher, Shariatmadar. Soon after His arrival, Quddus began to separate Himself from the society and seek the seclusion and privacy of His father's home and undertake long hours of meditation. A number of close companions began to gradually recognize in Him his divine capacities and were deeply attracted to Him. With them, Quddus, would share the news of the near advent of the Promised One. As His fame increased so did His troubles. The center all the seditions was none other than Sa'idu'l-Ulama. (The Islamic Hadith hold that a bearded woman, named Sa'id, would use his ax to kill the Qa'im, the Promised One. It was on May 16, 1849, that Sa'idu'l-Ulama used his ax to tear Quddus apart and mutilate His remains.) With the news of Siyyid Kazim's death, Quddus decided to proceed to Shiraz. Outwardly He told His family that He was going on a Pilgrimage journey to Macca. By now, of course, the Bab had declared Himself in Shiraz and 17 Letters of the Living were already enrolled. (As a side, it should be pointed out, that Shiraz served as the Qiblih, the Point of Adoration, during the Babi Dispensation. Mulla Husayn, Quddus and others, from at least Khurasan period -- before Badasht! -- offered their prayers in the direction of Shiraz. I shared this fact to begin to set the stage for debunking all these claims that it was Tahirih who recognized and insisted on separation of Babi from Islamic Dispensation. Long before Badasht, both Mulla Husayn and Quddus were preaching this Truth. More on this later...) Call to mind Nabil's report, how one night the Bab said to Mulla Husayn that the last Letter of the Living will arrive tomorrow. Next day, Quddus arrived in the city and upon seeing His old classmate, Mulla Husayn, asked if he had discovered the Promised One. Mulla Husayn tried to not answer the question, but Quddus replied: "Why seek you to hide Him from Me. I can recognize Him by His gait. I confidently testify that none besides Him, Whether in the East or in the West, can claim to be the Truth. None other can manifest the power and majesty that radiate from His holy person." Of course, Quddus was pointing to the Bab Who had His back to the two of them and was standing not far from them. Mulla Husayn uncontrollably utters this poem: "Dideh khahm kih bashad Shah shinas, Shah ra bishnasad andar har libas" (Grant me eyes which would recognize the King, in whatever clothing the King is attired.) Mulla Husayn goes to the Bab and reports the conversation. The Bab says: "We have in the world of the spirit been communing with that youth. We know him already. We indeed awaited His coming. Go to Him and summon Him forthwith to Our presence." So, notice that Quddus immediately recognized the Bab (unlike Mulla Husayn himself who asked for proofs and arguments), by just beholding the back of the Bab and that the Bab says the Two been already communing. Now, ponder what Quddus has Written: Qul: Ana'l hamdu'llah lazy qad rabbani bi aydy min qabil. Yata qad arani ala'l-qarsh jamalihu va huvva rabu'l-alamin hamidan fi ummu'i-kitab jabaran... Say: Praise by upon My Lord (the Bab) Who with His divine Hands guided Me from before, even manifest His Countenance to Me in the Paradise. Verily, He is the Lord of the worlds, and in the Mother Book is Generous and Omnipotent. I testify that before Thou declared thy most august Self to the world of creation, I beheld Thy most luminous Countenance and prostrated Myself before Thy Throne of Majesty and Might. I testify before all creation that there is no other God in both the heaven and earth but Thee, the ancient, the everlasting. The wonderful thing about this passage, as I understand it, is that Quddus testifies that He had known the Bab and was in communication with him ("guided Me") *before* the Bab's Declaration! This is absolutely a wonderful piece of Writing to have. Previously, we had Nabil's reported words of the Bab that the Two were in communication in the world of spirit and now we have the actual, written Words of Quddus that indeed this communication was taking place in the heavens (or world of spirit) and that Quddus recognized the Bab long before His open Declaration to Mulla Husayn! (personal note: during the time that I've been focusing on the Babi Dispensation and carefully reading a number of primary documents, the amazing thing that I have come to understand is how incredibly *accurate* Nabil's narrative is. It's just a miracle of Baha'u'llah, (because nothing else can explain it), that so many of the details that Nabil gives, and in recent years have come under criticism in certain quarters, are in fact absolutely true and accurate! Any wonder why the beloved Guardian considered it so important? We just need to publish these primary documents so that all can see for themselves... The above example, regarding the Bab's and Quddus' early interaction, is just one such instance.) Perhaps at this juncture it behooves us to pause and ponder the station of the Letters of the Living. First, call to mind St. John's vision (Book of Revelation) of the 24 Elders seated before God (i.e. Baha'u'llah). The beloved Master explains that the first of these Elders is the Bab, the next 18 are the Letters of the Living and the twentieth is Mirza Muhammad-Taqi, the Vakkilu'l-Haqq, (the saintly architect of the Temple in Ishaqabad and the cousin of the Bab -- he was a son of the Bab's Great Uncle (recipient of the Kitab-i Iqan)). To understand their station a bit more fully allow me to share a few extract -- and please forgive my extremely inadequate rendering. Baha'u'llah in the Kitab-i Badi`, His longest revealed Work states: It is certain that after the Point (the Bab), Truth is manifest from the Letters of the Living. The whole of Dispensation of Bayan, is created under the shadow of the first Vahid. And the Truth, in its essence, is their dominion as is all the Attributes and exalted Names. Elsewhere in relation to the sublimity of His own Dispensation and the transcendent character of His Revelation, Baha'u'llah has stated: If today the entire dwellers of the heavens and earth were to become exalted as the Bayanic Letters (ie. Letters of the Living) which are a hundred thousand times more exalted and superior to the Qur'anic Letters (the Imams), but failed for even a moment to recognize this Cause, they will be counted as opponent of God and recorded as the Letters of Negation. While in this passage, Baha'u'llah clearly exalts the Letters of Living over those of the previous Dispensation, but sobering fact of this passage cannot be lost on any one of us. Please go back and read it again. He says, even if the station of an individual is as exalted as the Letters of the Living, but in failing to recognize the Truth of His Revelation, the person is counted as an enemy of God and the Letter of Negation. There is much to ponder in this passage. The Bab in the Bayan (5:2) enjoins upon the community to raise 18 Temples in the name of the Letters of the Living. He emphasis that these must be mighty Temples and no expenditure spared. Also, significant pronouncements by the Bab regarding His Letters of the Living is made in Bayan (8:17) and also in His opening sermon of the Bayan. Elsewhere, He explains the relationship between the first Vahid (He and 18 L of L) and the formula at the beginning of each Sura of Qur'an, Bismillah-i Rahman-i Rahim. The burial place of the 18 Letters of the Living is: Martyrs: Barfurush (Quddus) Fort Tabarsi (8 of them: Mulla Husayn, ...) Tihran (Tahirih and Siyyid Husayn Yazdi) Turkey (Mulla Ali-Bastami) By natural death (or presumed so): India (Shaykh Sa'id Hindi) Istanbul (Mulla Baqir-i Tabrizi) Karbala (Mulla Khudabakh-i Quchani) Qazvin (Mirza Hadi) Yazd (Mirza Muhammad-i Yazdi) unknown: Mulla Hasan Bajistani A point of interest that needs to be borne in mind about the burial place of Mulla Husayn and Quddus is that the Bab in a Tablet of Visitation in their honor states that the very dust associated with these Two, for a radius of 1 mile from their respective resting place, will bring solace to desolate and healing to ill and sick -- a fact, confirmed by Baha'u'llah. Assuming its OK with everyone, we'll continue our discussion of Quddus's life after His enrollment as a Letter of the Living in another post. With loving Baha'i greetings, ahang. From email@example.comTue Sep 12 11:01:40 1995 Date: Mon, 11 Sep 95 22:49:01 -0400 From: Ahang Rabbani To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Quddus -- reading assignment [This message is converted from WPS-PLUS to ASCII] Friends, Our dear Juan Cole, to whom I owe *everything* about the Quddus project, just shared a great suggestion which I like to pass it along. He suggested that we use this occasion to deepen a bit more on the Dawn-breakers. I think that sounds great. So, here's the thought: I'm going to pause posting on Quddus for at least through this weekend and give everybody a chance to find their copy of Nabil's Narrative (look in the attic, or old boxes in the garage, maybe the back of the closet, anyway, have faith, you'll find it!), then read chapter 3 and 7. Chapter 3 has to do with the Bab's Declaration (its a little over 40 pages) and Chapter 7 with His Pilgrimage (its only about 10 pages or so). Now, if you feel like reviewing some other sources like Amanat's, or MacEoin's, or Tarikh-i Jadid, or Browne's Material ... by all means, knock yourself out ... You'll get extra credits... I hope we'll have good discussion around these materials. This is a good time to do some serious deepening on early Babi Dispensation and through our give and take get exposed to some additional information. What you say? ahang. From email@example.comTue Sep 12 11:02:55 1995 Date: Mon, 11 Sep 95 23:27:01 -0400 From: Ahang Rabbani To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: slow-read on Talisman? [This message is converted from WPS-PLUS to ASCII] Man, I wasn't even done sending that last message about reading assignments out on Nabil, that Bang!, got a note back from somebody saying how about reading "God Passes By" together? I think that's a great idea. What you say, gang? Ready to fulfill that lifelong ambition to someday tackle the great, mighty God Passes By and find out what all the fuss is all about? I figure this is our chance. We've got all these big name scholars with their Masters, Ph.D., BMW's ... on Talisman that can teach us a lot about this book. And what better book for comprehensive deepening. Gee, it's got everything: good guys, bad guys, violence, betrayal, ... (OK it's missing sex, but hey that's why God created prime time TV, to make up for lack of sex in GPB!) This is what I'm thinking. Everyday we read a little, say, about 4 pages. The book is about 400 pages, ... so, the whole thing should take about 5 years! (Those that were here for slow read of Aqdas will understand the math!) No, no, just kidding. We'll try to finish it in 3 or 4 months. It be great learning. Pretty intense learning!! Anyway this is just one idea. Other ideas? regards, ahang. --------------------------------------------- Date: Tue, 12 Sep 1995 01:38:38 -0400 To: email@example.com Subject: Re: Women, Saints, and Power/Personal Yes, there seems no shortage of men eager to rush to the defense of male privilege here. But, more depressing is the lack of women willing to fight back. With the exception of Linda, all of the women seem non-commital, content, or indifferent to the whole issue. Maybe it is a protection for them. But I remember you once saying that women would be admitted to membership on the House of Justice when they rise up and demand it. That day may be a long way off. --------------------------------------------- From Member1700@aol.comTue Sep 12 11:05:00 1995 Date: Tue, 12 Sep 1995 01:44:21 -0400 From: Member1700@aol.com To: Talisman@indiana.edu Subject: Re: Women, Saints, and Power I hope everyone will forgive me, but I had to laugh while reading Talisman today. We had a post from one dear Talismanian who expressed exasperation at the whole discussion of women on the House of Justice, because the Tablets of 'Abdu'l-Baha are absolutely clear on the issue--and they forbid it. This is, of course, precisely the same argument that Thornton Chase used in his famous letter on the subject, and the same exasperation. And he made reference to precisely the same Tablets. Only at that time he was referring to women's service on the Chicago House of Spirituality. And that pesky Mrs. True just didn't want to accept the obvious. So those who do not study history are destined to repeat it. (Smile.) Of course, those who do study history are destined to repeat it, too. But, at least we know that we are repeating it. My second laugh came from the beloved Talismanian who declared with assurance that race is just a social construct, while gender is a primordial category fixed by biology. :-) (Which apparently makes it OK that women are excluded from eligibility for election to the House, while blacks are not.) Only a very few decades ago, that argument would have appeared ridiculous, even insane, in most circles. Race was considered a primordial category fixed by biology. It is only with libraries of counterargument that the assumptions about race were overturned. No, gender is not a fixed category without reference to culture. There are many cultures (our own included) that recognize intermediate genders. In Samoa, there are boy/girls who are raised as girls and recognized socially as women. In some parts of Africa, infertile women are counted socially as men and even marry wives and have offspring of their own. In some American Indian cultures, men become women and women become men, and so forth. The examples could be multiplied. So, don't think that biology is going to solve our problems for us. There is no human behavior or category that does not depend on culture. Warmest, Tony From JWALBRID@cluster.ucs.indiana.eduTue Sep 12 11:17:24 1995 Date: Tue, 12 Sep 95 09:19:37 EWT From: JWALBRID@cluster.ucs.indiana.edu To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Clocks There is a whole room full of fancy watches and clocks in the Topkapi Museum (the old palace of the Sultans) in Istanbul, so they were clearly popular as novelties. I don't know how the hours worked, but I do know that in the medieval period, the better class of mosques employed timekeepers, who were generally astronomers. There is an article on clocks in the *Encyclopaedia Iranica* which would probably shed some light on how clocks and watches were used in 19th century Iran. If Mr. Bromberek can't find it conveniently at U of Arkansas, I will run off a less legible copy. John Walbridge From Member1700@aol.comTue Sep 12 16:44:15 1995 Date: Tue, 12 Sep 1995 12:15:40 -0400 From: Member1700@aol.com To: Talisman@indiana.edu Subject: Re: Clocks and Dates In nineteenth-century Iran, time was most certainly a local matter--there being no national standard, and no way to communicate it had there been one. Even the calendar was a local matter, with the local imam determining the beginning of each (lunar) month with the sighting of the new moon. (Which is why, in some cases, there are discrepancies of dates--even in Baha'i history.) I should let Juan and John say more, but it seems to me (if I am remembering correctly) that it is not so much sunset, as it is nightfall that is the issue is Muslim law. One does not break one's fast at sunset, for instance, but at dark--measured by the local imams inability to distinguish a black thread from a white thread in natural light, and announced from the minaret. Likewise, for prayers, I believe that nightfall is the benchmark. Regards, Tony From email@example.comTue Sep 12 16:45:17 1995 Date: Tue, 12 Sep 1995 11:51:19 -0500 (CDT) From: John Bromberek To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Re: Clocks On Tue, 12 Sep 1995 JWALBRID@cluster.ucs.indiana.edu wrote: > There is an article on > clocks in the *Encyclopaedia Iranica* which would probably shed some light > on how clocks and watches were used in 19th century Iran. Thank you, John W., for the pointer toward the "Clocks" article. It hadn't occurred to me to look in an encyclopedia. I've only just skimmed it, so far, and saw one tantalizing quotation: Clocks and watches became more common in Persia during the 13th/19th century. E. Scott Waring noted in 1217/1802 that at Shiraz watches were a novelty: "They delight in our watches, particularly if they get them for nothing; their curiosity, however, soon spoils them, and if this were not the case, their perverse mode of counting time renders the best watch of little service." (Vol. 5, p. 716) [That was a quote from Waring's book _A Tour to Sheeraz_, London, 1807.] Apparently, in the early 19th century, there was something about the manner of keeping time there that at least seemed peculiar to a European. Well, that's a beginning. I suppose the volume with the article on "Timekeeping" will be published around 2015, or so. Meanwhile, I'll check out some of the other encyclopedias to see whether there might be anything on the subject. BFN, John B. email@example.com From firstname.lastname@example.orgTue Sep 12 16:55:03 1995 Date: 12 Sep 95 15:52:49 EDT From: David Langness <email@example.com> To: Talisman@indiana.edu Subject: Can Our Faith Change? Dear Talismanians, Thank you one and all, especially Burl and Robert, for your heartfelt messages in response to my short "A Woman's Place is on the House" missive. While several people sent supportive notes, Burl and Robert characterized the holding out of such hope (that women might conceivably one day gain the right of membership to the Universal House of Justice) as, to use Burl's term, "bogus." You know, I sincerely believe that such a hope has merit. I do not hold it out as some salesman would an incentive to buy, or as a dishonest Baha'i teacher might to someone wavering about declaration, but instead believe it wholeheartedly myself, and want others to draw the same solace and inspiration I have drawn from it. I know many Baha'i men, who, if ever elected to the Universal House of Justice, have vowed to tirelessly work for the attainment of such a goal. I personally know more than a few Baha'i women who serve on National Spiritual Assemblies who have privately vowed to only vote for male UHJ members who hold the view that women might someday be enfranchised. But Burl made a very important point in his argument which I would also like to address: that our Faith is transformative in nature, and that "it doesn't change to fit the mood, expectations, desires, or proclivities of those who would join it." I would submit for the consideration of all that our Faith is exactly the opposite of what Burl describes. In fact, it does change to meet the needs and views of the believers. I will not cite the literally hundreds and perhaps thousands of recorded instances where such changes happened, but will say generally that many times Baha'u'llah and 'Abdu'l-Baha responded to the entreaties of the Faithful and actually changed course as a result. Certainly the Guardian and now the House has often embarked on a slightly different or even entirely new course as a result of dialogue and input from the believers, as well. Others have a much broader knowledge of such events than I, so I will leave it to them to cite chapter and verse. But suffice it for me to say that our Faith seems transformative in both directions, and that such a fluid, progressive and changeable religion avoids the rigidity and petrification other religions have fallen victim to. Or at least we hope that will be the case. Love, David From firstname.lastname@example.orgTue Sep 12 16:55:54 1995 Date: 12 Sep 95 15:52:49 EDT From: David Langness <email@example.com> To: Talisman@indiana.edu Subject: Can Our Faith Change? Dear Talismanians, Thank you one and all, especially Burl and Robert, for your heartfelt messages in response to my short "A Woman's Place is on the House" missive. While several people sent supportive notes, Burl and Robert characterized the holding out of such hope (that women might conceivably one day gain the right of membership to the Universal House of Justice) as, to use Burl's term, "bogus." You know, I sincerely believe that such a hope has merit. I do not hold it out as some salesman would an incentive to buy, or as a dishonest Baha'i teacher might to someone wavering about declaration, but instead believe it wholeheartedly myself, and want others to draw the same solace and inspiration I have drawn from it. I know many Baha'i men, who, if ever elected to the Universal House of Justice, have vowed to tirelessly work for the attainment of such a goal. I personally know more than a few Baha'i women who serve on National Spiritual Assemblies who have privately vowed to only vote for male UHJ members who hold the view that women might someday be enfranchised. But Burl made a very important point in his argument which I would also like to address: that our Faith is transformative in nature, and that "it doesn't change to fit the mood, expectations, desires, or proclivities of those who would join it." I would submit for the consideration of all that our Faith is exactly the opposite of what Burl describes. In fact, it does change to meet the needs and views of the believers. I will not cite the literally hundreds and perhaps thousands of recorded instances where such changes happened, but will say generally that many times Baha'u'llah and 'Abdu'l-Baha responded to the entreaties of the Faithful and actually changed course as a result. Certainly the Guardian and now the House has often embarked on a slightly different or even entirely new course as a result of dialogue and input from the believers, as well. Others have a much broader knowledge of such events than I, so I will leave it to them to cite chapter and verse. But suffice it for me to say that our Faith seems transformative in both directions, and that such a fluid, progressive and changeable religion avoids the rigidity and petrification other religions have fallen victim to. Or at least we hope that will be the case. Love, David From Sen.Mcglinn@rl.rulimburg.nlTue Sep 12 16:56:32 1995 Date: Tue, 12 Sep 95 22:13:14 EZT From: Sen.Mcglinn@rl.rulimburg.nl To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Quddus Dear Ahang, please do go on about Quddus - and on and on if possible. I do read it all, just about a week behind. Just a suggestion regarding his station: is it perhaps not primarily in what he did (important as that was, I like the moon and sun analogy), nor perhaps - don't be angry - is it an essential nature in the way that the Bab and Baha'u'llah ARE manifestations, but rather in being able to see with the eye of God in the same way as manifestations are able to? I get this from a passage in the Seven Valleys: After passing through the Valley of knowledge, which is the last plane of limitation, the wayfarer cometh to THE VALLEY OF UNITY and drinketh from the cup of the Absolute, and gazeth on the Manifestations of Oneness. In this station he pierceth the veils of plurality, fleeth from the worlds of the flesh, and ascendeth into the heaven of singleness. With the ear of God he heareth, with the eye of God he beholdeth the mysteries of divine creation. He steppeth into the sanctuary of the Friend, and shareth as an intimate the pavilion of the Loved One. He stretcheth out the hand of truth from the sleeve of the Absolute; he revealeth the secrets of power. ... He beholdeth in his own name the name of God;... The true seeker here not only sees with the eye of God, He steppeth into the sanctuary of the Friend (Muhammad, or Abraham, or the Loved One? for some reason I think of Abraham) and stretches out the hand of truth (like Moses) and REVEALETH the secrets, his name is like the name of God. In short, he has many of the attributes of the Manifestation, and this is derived in some way from the station of peering with the eye of God into the mysteries of creation. Pretty heretical stuff of course, the true seeker as manifestation of God. Incidentally, Bruce, is the difference between the valley of knowledge (previous valley) and the valley of unity perhaps analogous to that between enlightenment and buddhahood? Sen ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Sen McGlinn ----_ From Sen.Mcglinn@rl.rulimburg.nlTue Sep 12 17:01:23 1995 Date: Tue, 12 Sep 95 22:15:57 EZT From: Sen.Mcglinn@rl.rulimburg.nl To: email@example.com Subject: Women & UHJ (Sonja) >From Sonja van Kerkhoff, again In response to Burl's posting which was a response to David's. Yes the point is as you have said: As the Lobster said to the Crab: "It all boils down to this" Either Baha'u'llah is or He ain't .If he ain't, it don't matter. If He is, in Him let the trusting trust. And that's the point of the Service of Women paper as well -to find out what Baha'u'llah really meant, because he clearly did say that in this day women were 'rijal' as well (as men). Second: This bit about "giving her hope" stikes me as ultimately bogus... 1) Women being unable to serve on The House goes against the principal of equality. Women are excluded on the basis of their gender. And every argument that I have heard (so far) where the person concerned is not bothered by this or believes that this is not an example of inequality, argues from the viewpoint that men and women are biologically meant to have different functions. And worse, then go on on to some how argue that this is not inequality. It doesn't make any sense to me. 2) You can't compare someone wanting to sell vacuum cleaners at a feast to someone valuing the equality of the sexes. Unless you really see equality of the sexes being as relevent as selling vacuum cleaners, that is. 3) The service of Women paper gives me hope, and I see pretty well. I didn't get time to post this and now there are some more postings on this issue so i will continue. Re: Burl's 9 Sept posting responding to Linda (great to read your voice Linda!) BTW, Linda, I agree with you re: the difficulties that some women have in recognizing 'sexism'. I think this stems from a more general situation, where any minority group has difficulty in challenging the majority values/group. Re: Burl's posting L. Walbridge wrote: " Until we are in the highest positions of power....." This is the telling phrase. This is certainly telling. It's telling you that women belong (are part of) at all levels of society. I think your discussion about 'power' and 'service' is avoiding the issue that Linda was addressing, and that is that women are excluded from both service and power (having a voice). At the moment, only a man could seriously ask questions like the questions you posed, such as "do I want to be elected on The House?" etc, so I don't understand why you posed them. Like, Linda, I am quite amazed at the various arguments that have been put forth, with some thought, arguing for a justification for the exclusion of women. Such as claiming super-human status for the members of The House (that is, The Members are not influenced by their backgrounds or gender), redefining membership on The House as not a right but what??? oh yes a duty, so that women are then not denied a right (Is this person serious?), that parenthood being something peculiar to women (yes, 60 plus does seem a little old to be breast feeding but you never know) disqualifies service, and that because sex can defined more clearly than race, then this exemption is (somehow- forgive me but I really can't see the argument in this statement) allowable/fine/ok/true -the poster didn't actually say that, I'm just guessing that that was his point. I respect/appreciate that everyone (myself included) is trying to see what reason(s) there could be for the exclusion of women from Service on The House, but I find it frightening that most of those who are making some argument to justify the present situation, do not seem to see that excluding one sex from a particular function, and in this case a very important (and powerful) function, does not correlate with the important principle of equality. regards, Sonja PS. And In response to Tim's posting: j>As for the argument that Baha'u'llah said so, and we must j>simply accept what He said, I have gone blue in the face trying j>to demonstrate that He said no such thing; >Juan, You sometimes make the point that neither Abdu'l Baha nor >Shoghi Effendi had access to all 7,000 extant documents authored >by Baha'u'llah. I assume the same is true of you, therefore how >do you actually know that Baha'u'llah never said this? >It seems to me that, with regard to knowledge of all that >Baha'u'llah wrote, a modern scholar is not in a much better >position than Shoghi Effendi....and a modern scholar does not >have the tremendous advantage of receiving unfailing, unerring >guidance from Baha'u'llah and the Bab. The above comment bring us back to the areas where Shoghi Effendi had infalliability (interpretation) in and where The Universal House has (legislation), which brings us back to us. This is what makes the discussions on Talisman so fruitful, because it seems to me, that in the end, as others have already said, change will come fomr the grassroots. Here I am not saying there WILL be women serving on The House (although I'd be very happy if that was so) but rather that all these discussions and new insights such as Tony's mention of Abdu'l-Bahai's use of the word wisdom, will help us come to grips with the wisdom of this present situation, and come closer to what Baha'u'llah's words really meant. >Second, at present, only nine men, out of roughly two million >Baha'i men, can be members of the House of Justice. So, in >practical reality, the odds of any particular man being on the >House of Justice are almost zero. Therefore, men in general >do not have any power denied to women. I'm sorry, but I do see the logic here. If the potential members are always only men, and this institutiion is an institution invested with power, then of course men have access to power that women are always denied. Reversing the situation and saying ok, women may only serve on the Universal House of Justice, is not the same thing, because we live in a society dominated by male values and by men. But if you have only women serving on the highest institution of the Faith for a couple 100 of years, I am sure that this would have some impact on the equality between women and men in local communities. >Third, as others have pointed out, women, as the first educators >of the next generation, have significant influence and power >to which men do not have the right. How do men not have the right (read- responsibility) to rear and have significant influence and power, just because they do not carry the child within their body? It is my view that children/childcare will not be >not accorded high prestige in modern society until men participate in this as equally and freely as women are able to do so. >that is not because child raising is inherently demeaning, but >rather because the leaders of opinion do not see clearly. Most of them have never changed a diaper. >The reality, in my view, is that any category of people (women), >who have the God-given right to educate the next generation.... It is my reading of the Writings that parenthood is not exclusive, while there are specific references to fathers and mothers, in general there is nothing to suggest that Sen (the father of my sons) is not fulfilling his duty when he feeds, changes, carries, and cuddles the little ones (while I'm off to some exhibition or art-thing). So, now my reading of this is that mother's are not solely responsible for the 'affairs' of their children. >What if Martin Luther King Jr.'s mother had raised him to be a cynical self-centered materialist?.... > The teachings of Baha'u'llah, Abdu'l Baha, Shoghi Effendi and the >Universal House of Justice are, by definition, purely good. It follows, >therefore, that the Baha'i teachings, by definition, cannot be >sexist, because sexism is wrong. Of course, it would not be wise >to say that to someone who has not accepted Baha'u'llah's >message. I'd add that it would not be wise to say that to someone who had accepted Baha'u'llah's message! I find it interesting that Adbu'lBaha (in light of Tony's insight) used the word wisdom as a code. Please, Tim, you can't just say good equal Bahai therefore sexism does not equal Bahai. It doesn't make sense. >Nevertheless, "the good" is whatever the authoritative >Baha'i writings say, not what social fashions or popular opinions >dictate. Like Equality. >It seems to me that this rule comes from the clear texts of the >Master, the Guardian, and the House of Justice. I believe, >therefore this rule is right and good >and by definition cannot be contradictory to Baha'i values. The texts are not clear which is why there is all this discussion. Baha'u'llah's reference to the members of The House(s) was the term rijal (honoured ones/could be read to mean honoured men), and Baha'u'llah also wrote that in this day and age women are also 'rijal' -this is one of the main points of the Service of women paper. Our current policy of excluding women stems from Abdu'l-Baha's letter to Corinne True where he informs her that women are not to serve on any House and later when Abdu'l-Baha visited America he changed this (it seems that he was referring to local Houses of Justice (LSA's) but Robert Stockman has argued that Abdu'l-Baha could have misunderstood Corinne True's question (to be referring to the UHJ) and then corrected this later-but this is speculation- just as my assumptions to the other are) policy. Shoghi Effendi did not make any policy (legislation) but referred queries to Adbu'l-Baha's letter. So you see, the texts may be clear but what this all means isn't. And I have to admit I'd rather have all this muddiness and a sense of getting at full equally (if that is what we really want -to quote my dearly beloved), rather than to be told, there are no women on the House and this is how things are, as if this is what Baha'ullah really meant. I believe that Baha'u'llah really meant equally when he mentioned it, and it is up to us to try and find out what this means without compromising the meaning of this. I think we should be open to examining all the possibilities and interpretations. What is gradually becoming more exciting for me is to discover that the Writings are much richer and open to interpretation than I was first led to believe. From Sen.Mcglinn@rl.rulimburg.nlTue Sep 12 17:02:08 1995 Date: Tue, 12 Sep 95 22:14:09 EZT From: Sen.Mcglinn@rl.rulimburg.nl To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: women & UHJ Juan, thanks for the suggestion that milk glands might interfere with the reception of divine radio-waves. The wisdom is now clear ... Along the same lines, I was listening to one of the excellent BBC programmes thrown up by the Beijing conference, and they were discussing women's place in Saudi Arabia. Apparently women may be lawyers, but not judges, which a jurist suggested might be because of their monthly instability. I'm sure I've heard that before somewhere. I think the suggestion of a connection with child-rearing is equally red-herringish. The chance that any woman young enough to have young children would be elected to the house is negligible. And if such a one was found, she would be a truly extra-ordinary person, and extra-ordinary measures would have to be taken to make it possible for the House to have the benefit of her wisdom without interferring with her duties as a parent. On the other hand, some men, I am told, retain both viable sperm and physical virility into their 80's, so there is an appreciable chance that a man with young children will eventually be elected. Assuming that childrearing is truly seen as equally important as other community-shaping activities, the House will just have to adjust. And I'm sure it can (in both cases). Linda: a hundred thousand welcomes. Sen ------------------------------------------------------_ From email@example.comTue Sep 12 23:17:26 1995 Date: Tue, 12 Sep 1995 17:56:35 -0400 (EDT) From: Juan R Cole To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: women & human rights in the Faith Thanks to everyone on both sides of this issue who have written. I think Ahang is right that the "equality of rights" line of thinking is both new and potentially fruitful, and I am glad to have been provoked to it by the Talisman discussion. I would defend the Persian text of `Abdu'l-Baha's talk published in Khitabat vol. 2 as a perfectly good source for knowing the Master's thoughts about musavat-i huquq or the equality of rights for all under Baha'i law. Khitabat was published in `Abdu'l-Baha's lifetime and he certainly saw the Persian texts there, either before or after publication. (This is not true for everything in the English PUP). Let me throw some further textual evidence into the debate: On equality of rights for all under the law as a Baha'i principle: Proclamation of Baha'u'llah, p. 11: "safeguard the rights of the downtrodden, and punish the wrong-doers." Tablets of Baha'u'llah revealed after the Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 70: "They that perpetrate tyranny in the world have usurped the rights of the peoples and kindreds of the earth . . ." A Traveller's Narrative, `Abdu'l-Baha, p. 91: "the establishment of the uniform political rights of diverse nationalities" Paris Talks, `Abdu'l-Baha, p. 133: "Women have equal rights with men upon earth . . ." p. 154: "prince, peer and peasant alike have equal rights to just treatment . . ." p. 161: "the female sex is treated as though inferior, and is not allowed equal rights and privileges. This condition is due not to nature, but to education . . ." p. 161: "Why then should one sex assert the inferiority of the other, withholding just rights and privileges as though God had given His authority for such a course of action?" p. 162: "Divine justice demands that the rights of both sexes should be equally respected since neither is superior to the other in the eyes of Heaven." p. 163: "When men own [accept] the equality of women there will be no need for them to struggle for their rights! One of the principles then of Baha'u'llah is the equality of sex." pp. 182-183: "In this Revelation of Baha'u'llah, the women go neck and neck with the men. In no movement will they be left behind. Their rights with men are equal in degree. They will enter all the administrative branches of politics [presumably, "siyasat,"="affairs of state" cf. Ishraqat 8]. They will attain in all such a degree as will be considered the very highest station of the world of humanity and will take part in *all* affairs. Rest ye assured. Do ye not look upon the present conditions; in the not far distant future the world of women will become all-refulgent and all-glorious, *For His Holiness Baha'u'llah Hath Willed it so!* At the time of elections the right to vote is the inalienable right of women and the entrance of women into all human departments is an irrefutable and incontrovertible question. No soul can retard or prevent it . . ." [Note: in 1913 women did not have the vote in the U.S.] As regards the constitution of the House of Justice, Baha'u'llah addresses the men. He says, `O ye men of the House of Justice!" But when its members are to be elected, the right which belongs to women, so far as their voting and their voice is concerned, is indisputable. When the women attain to the ultimate degree of progress, then, according to the exigency of the time and place, and their great capacity, they shall obtain extraordinary privileges." [I myself think this passage clearly hints that Baha'u'llah addressed members of the houses of justice as "men/rijal" because women were at that time largely illiterate and lacking in public experience. Might not ultimate membership on the House be among the "extraordinary privileges" they shall attain in the future? - JC] Secret of Divine Civilization, p. 14: "insuring the integrity of the members of society and their equality before the law . . ." Promulgation, p. 99: "then will they proclaim equality of rights" Promulgation, p. 166: "Baha'u'llah . . . made woman respected by commanding that all women be educated, that there be no difference in the education of the two sexes and that man and woman share the same rights. In the estimation of God there is no distinction of sex." Promulgation, p, 182: "Seventh, Baha'u'llah taught that an equal standard of human rights must be recognized and adopted." Now as for *eligibility* for Baha'i office-holding being a right, there is a *very* interesting passage from Shoghi Effendi, *Messages to the Baha'i World," pp. 64-65: "Full rights have been accorded to Baha'i women residing in the cradle of the Faith, to participate in the membership of both national and local Baha'i Spiritual Assemblies, removing thereby the last remaining obstacle to the enjoyment of complete equality of rights in the conduct of the administrative affairs of the Persian Baha'i community." The diction here is very instructive. Obviously, de jure or from the point of view of legal principle, Baha'i women in Iran had the "right" to eligibility for election to LSAs and NSAs from 1912 (or 1909 according to Rob) onward. But these rights could not be "accorded" to them until around 1950, de facto. (In Shi`ite Islam values of gender segregation are very strong and a mixed meeting of women and men on an LSA would have been interpreted as an orgy of some sort; the eyes of non-Baha'i neighbors thus made this sort of meeting very chancy in Iran). Thus, Baha'i women can have de jure rights to eligibility for administrative office, but these rights de facto can be withheld for reasons of community security and reputation, or for reasons of women's unpreparedness (due to high rates of illiteracy, lack of experience in public life, etc.). These rights are then "accorded" the women de facto at some point in history where conditions allow it, by the Head of the Faith. (There are parallels here to the legal language employed in the UN for the process of decolonization in the two decades after WW II, wherein entire peoples become "prepared" through education etc. to exercise de facto their de jure rights of self-determination, after a period of European mandates). Based on the texts assembled above, I would argue that Baha'i women clearly already have a de jure right to eligibility for service on the Universal House of Justice, given the unequivocal command of equality under the law (musavat-i huquq) and end of sex discrimination, which is repeated over and over again by Baha'u'llah and `Abdu'l-Baha. (This is only an individual opinion, the Cole Fatwa.) I firmly believe that a future Universal House of Justice will at some point "accord" Baha'i women their rights de facto. cheers Juan Cole, History, University of Michigan From email@example.comTue Sep 12 23:18:02 1995 Date: Tue, 12 Sep 1995 18:07:27 -0500 (CDT) From: John Haukness To: Sen.Mcglinn@rl.rulimburg.nl Cc: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Re: Women & UHJ (Sonja) Allah-u-abha Friends: With the ultimate triumph accomplished, that if you view the House as not an issue of power but an issue of service and the worst case that there is a matter of role and function to ones belief then one is simply very wrong, probably ignorant, devoid of logic and rationality, I will try tonow decist from this topic and crawl into a hole to mend my errant ways, and instead turn my thoughts the the errant group I once belonged to will have to also leave their sexist ideology and hope the House will soon include women. Ah heck, I can't do this, cause I just don't believe it, but Ibelieve I can do the one part, being both sides are now clear, and I don't see any new issues, I can quit posting to the issue. But on another topic I am for sure more than overly skeptical! I would really like to see the authoritive document of Abdul Baha's that "women are not to serve on any House and later when Abdul Baha visited America he change this." Where do people come up with garbage like this, and what is it doing amidst scholars. This is weak! weak! stuff. email@example.com From firstname.lastname@example.orgTue Sep 12 23:19:20 1995 Date: Tue, 12 Sep 95 16:07:01 -0400 From: Ahang Rabbani To: email@example.com Subject: RE: Quddus [This message is converted from WPS-PLUS to ASCII] Dear Sen: Thanks very much for the extract from the Seven Valley -- and your extremely perceptive comments! I've been struggling with the question of Quddus' Station for a while too and I think we have the same problem with His as we do with Abdu'l-Baha's -- they are just not going to be defined in terms of our past religious experience or even the Writings. "Seeing with the eyes of God" is an exalted station, and perhaps the highest station, for a believer to be sure. I think that Tahirih perhaps best represents this station though. Hujjat, Vahid, Dayyan, possibly Mulla Husayn (though his writings offer very little evidence in this regard), may also be prime candidates for it too. But, somehow Quddus doesn't seem to fit this. He seems to have certain God-given gifts. The stories of His childhood imply the same sort of innate knowledge that the Bab possessed. His schooling is very limited and yet His writings are truly amazing. He claims Divine Revelation and indeed what we read by Him are nothing short of it. When it comes to Quddus, it seems, there is more than "seeing" with the eye of God. What of His claims to divinity? History of Sufism, as Nima would tell us, is packed with such claimants. The more famous claimants to being God are: Mansur-i Hallaj, Abu'l-Hasan Khariqani, Abu-Sa'id Abu'l-Khayr (it is said that Kabaa circumambulated him!), Mullana Rumi, (Chirs Buck is right and I was wrong, alast night I found a poem by Rumi where he claims to be God), Shah Nimatu'llah Valli-i Kirmani and Shaykh Shatah (this latter one is where the term "shatahiyyit" comes from). Anyway, is Quddus just a modern day version of one of these? What of all the ranks and titles that Baha'u'llah and the Bab have bestowed upon Him? The rank of "mazhariyyat"! This can't just be bestow on someone who "sees with the eyes of God". What of the Qur'anic title of "Messenger"? What of Baha'u'llah's explanation that He was the very essence of the BAb? The beloved Guardian makes a very interesting point at the beginning of the Dispensation of Baha'u'llah when he says that the Bab ranks below that of Baha'u'llah. So, that suggests there is a pecking order among the Manifestations and that not all are equal in rank! Also, Baha'u'llah says that no one ranked in the Dispensation as high as Quddus, save the Bab Himself. These seem to suggests that He clearly was in the class of Manifestations (whatever that means!) and yet *not* authorized as One. In other words, exactly as Abdu'l-Baha said, He was the moon that drew His light from the Sun of the Bab. Here is another difficult question: Who ranked higher, Quddus or Abdu'l-Baha? And if its Quddus, then why is He not listed as one the Central Figures of the Faith? Clearly, the question of Quddus and His rank and writings is going to remain a puzzling one and requires much more thinking. I also happen to think that it's one of the more interesting aspects of the Babi Dispensation that has not been explored previously. Am I wrong? Sen, I don't have any answers--wish to God that I did--only questions. Any insights that you or others wish to share will greatly help expand our collective understanding. best wishes, ahang. From firstname.lastname@example.orgTue Sep 12 23:20:21 1995 Date: 12 Sep 95 13:24:20 U From: Dan Orey To: email@example.com Cc: BrooksCA@aol.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, mloring@NMSU.Edu, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: IUS Question GatorMail-Q IUS Question The following question deals with the ongoing debate re: homosexuality and the Baha'i Faith, if you are not interested in this topic delete this message now. Thanx! Dear Talisman Friends, Forgive me for taking time away from the extremely interesting thread and discussions currently being shared here. But recently, the IUS (Institute for Understanding Sexuality in the Baha'i Faith) received the following letter from a woman in South Florida. I am disturbed by the woman's concern, so much so that I feel a need to ask my Talisman brothers and sisters for their advice. I really do not know how to respond her. I will share her letter, so here goes: --------------- Thank you for your letter to the friends and members of the Gay Baha'i Fellowship. Less than 12 hours ago my mind wondered to the GBF as I had not received any information for a long time. That and the fact that I read what I consider to be misleading opinions in a recently purchased Baha'i book. Recently published by Agnes Ghaznavi, classifies homosexuality under a chapter titled Immature and Degrading Relationships, and under the subtitle of Perversion and the Fear of It. I was surprised and ashamed that such loving people are being subjected to what I consider to be erroneous and misguided information. I am a friend of the gay and lesbian community and am reading the book in the hopes of strengthening and understanding my own commitment. As a result of what I have read, I'm taking a closer look at the whole. Your dedication to this issue is so important and what I consider to be the last acceptable prejudice. It must be eliminated along with the rest that I know only too well, You have my best wishes and support. ------------------------------- My thoughts: If this book is really stating this, and I need to find it, I am worried that such harmful and misleading thoughts are being published by official publishers of the Faith. It does nothing to promote a positive the image of the Faith, and certainly does nothing to mend fences or increase understanding about homosexuality in general. And as you can see it casues many of the Freinds to question the Faith in general. Though I would not normally care to spend my hard-earned dollars on such fundamentalist misinformation, I think I had better take a look. I was hoping that someone could tell me where to find this book. Sincerely, Daniel Orey, Sacramento, California From M.C.Day@massey.ac.nzTue Sep 12 23:21:39 1995 Date: Wed, 13 Sep 1995 11:25:32 GMT=1200 From: Mary Day To: email@example.com Subject: women and human rights Dear Talismans, I am going to do a little bit if nitpicking here while still maintaining my nonposition on Women on the House. 1: Juan, on several occasions you have referred to women's illiteracy or lack of education as reason for their exclusion. There is a hidden assumption here that all men participating were educated and literate enough to participate which I am sure you don't intend. Were many of the men literate and educated? 2: Rick: You said that "Modern feminist theory holds that the way to achieve equality is from the top down." Feminist theory consists of diverse positions, even more so than the range of opinions held by Talisman members. There are very strong strands in feminist theory that hold quite the opposite that equality will be achieved from the bottom up. There are even stronger strands that deconstruct this whole notion of power on which this kind of argument is based. Others of course deconstruct the notion of equality itself and what this could possibly mean. 3: Patriarchy: There seems to be a bit of confusion about the use and meaning of this word. Patriarchy can mean families with a male head in which descent is traced through the eldest male child. When feminists use the word patriarchy they are extending its meaning to describe all institutions within a society as sites of male power and domination not just the family. For example they would be arguing that education, government, health care, the justice system, the media etc etc are all dominated by men and serve the interests of men. Some would describe a society as patriarchal because men own and control the means of production including women's labour.Please note this is a very crude description of these arguments. Therefore you can't just swap a patriachal family for a matriarchal one as one writer suggested, because all institutions and sites of power in the society are patriarchal. Many feminist theorists do not use the word or concept of patriarchy at all. There have been vigorous theoretical debates about this concept. In my own theoretical work I would never use this concept. Nor would most of the theorists whose work I draw upon. To put it very basically the concept is too clumsy to explain the multiple subjectivities of women and men and the power invested in the discourses within which those subject positions are constructed. The concept cannot for example, explain the position of women who hold and wield power other than as 'playthings of the boys' which would obviously be inadequate to explain someone like Maggie Thatcher. The concept can of course still be useful in some contexts for example in explaining how institutions of power operate to protect male privilege to those who have never thought about this. Ooops, I am getting a bit carried away here. This is another plea to Talismans to be aware that feminist thought is much more than media characterisation of it. Describing someone as feminist and intending to be derogatory, reflects the ignorance of the describer far more than the knowledge and opinions of the one described. Regards Mary From firstname.lastname@example.orgTue Sep 12 23:22:28 1995 Date: Tue, 12 Sep 95 16:40 PDT From: Burl Barer To: email@example.com Subject: Re: Can Our Faith Change? >To: David Langness <firstname.lastname@example.org> >From: email@example.com (Burl Barer) >Subject: Re: Can Our Faith Change? > >> >>"it doesn't change to fit the mood, expectations, desires, or proclivities >>of those who would join it." >> >>I would submit for the consideration of all that our Faith is exactly the >>opposite of what Burl describes. In fact, it does change to meet the >>needs and views of the believers. >> >>Ah c'mon. It can't be "exactly the opposit" and be transformative in both directions at the same time. > >(how do you like that for a scholarly response? :-)) > > Perhaps I should have phrased by comment: "The Faith is not under obligation to the believers to change the text nor its implications or methods of implementation to fit the mood, expectations, desires, or proclivities of those who would join it." > >When the idividual will becomes one with the will of God, the individual is transformed. >When the Cause of God and His Religion goes with the flow of temporary and temporal socio-political ideas and interests, and the book is weighed by the standards current amongst men, it is usually termed corruption. > >Yes, you can petition the Lord with Prayer, and you can petition the House, or in his time, the Guardian or Abdul-Baha. But none of the above were/are obligated to bend the Faith or the Divine Plan to fit our fancy. Remember the important petition sent to Abdul Baha entreating him to NOT build the House of Worship in America? His response is that big white National Historic Site featured on the front of the Wilmette phone book. No doubt some believer was really ticked off that Abdul Baha was not more responsive to the opinions of the friends and looked forward to the day when he or she could "fix" the errors perpetrated upon an innocent humanity by the All-Knowing physician, the well intentioned but obviously out of touch Center of His Covenent, or the "boy" Guardian, and the "patriarchal" House of Justice. >I am surprised by the attitude of "I'll vote for potential UHJ members who are committed to my agenda" HOO-HAA! >If the decisions of the UHJ are the will of God, the purpose of God, and have the same authority as the text itself, it wouldn't matter what "commitment" or "agenda" the individual member brought to the table -- that member's will is going to be submissive to the Will of God by the time consultation is over anyway. And as the Will and Testament assures the protection of God in the *election* of the UHJ, such "tactics" or "schemes" are manifest silly-ness. It sounds to me like the old ideas of political manipulation, social manipulation, manipulation by infiltration (if we can get so and so elected, we'll have a pal on the inside) and such other decadent corrupt practices. > >Of couse, the above comments are not meant to imply my support for any unhealthy administrative rigidity, nor should they be construed as a denial of the fluid, creative, universal, and all pervasive Spirit of this Holy and Magnificent Cause. > >Love, > >Burl > >"We always did love the very same ONE, we just saw it from a different point of view" -- Bob Dylan > > > > From firstname.lastname@example.orgTue Sep 12 23:22:58 1995 Date: Tue, 12 Sep 95 19:57:03 EDT From: Christopher Buck To: email@example.com Cc: Christopher Buck Subject: How Many Baha'i Principles Are There? (1) In this post, I wish to draw a distinction between Baha'i principles and Baha'i teachings. The two are usually classed together, and thought of as synonymous. (2) By *Baha'i principles* I refer to enumerated Baha'i teachings. ^^^^^^^^^^ (3) These enumerated (or numbered) Baha'i principles were privileged by Baha'u'llah and `Abdu'l-Baha for introducing the Baha'i Faith to new audiences, and for proclaiming its salient teachings. (4) The question then arises: How many Baha'i principles are there? In other words, how many enumerated or numbered Baha'i teachings (*Baha'i principles*) are there in total? (5) In terms of method, a reasonable approach would be to compile these Baha'i principles from the Tablets of Baha'u'llah and from the written and spoken discourses of `Abdu'l-Baha. A tally of the frequency of the reiteration of each principle would be illuminating. (6) If any Talismanians would like to carry out this exercise, we could begin by posting all of the numbered Baha'i principles from *Promulgation of Universal Peace* and *Tablets of Baha'u'llah*. That should be a fair indicator. Christopher Buck From firstname.lastname@example.orgTue Sep 12 23:24:15 1995 Date: Tue, 12 Sep 1995 19:36:14 -0500 (EDT) From: "Mark A. Foster" To: email@example.com Subject: RE: Quddus To: firstname.lastname@example.org Dear Ahang - Your postings on the illustrious Quddus are, IMO, one of the best things I have seen on Talisman since I first subscribed. Absolutely fascinating stuff! Everything you are writing makes me wish (though wishing won't do it ) that I knew the original languages. Not to detract from what you have been saying, I just wanted to suggest what might be an alternative possibility to Quddus being a dependent/lesser Prophet (not regarded as one of the Manifestations endowed with constancy). The beloved Guardian characterized the short Babi Dispensation as a spiritual revolution, and much of what I know about it would coincide with that description, i.e., the burning of all non-Babi books and the prohibition against non-believers living in Babi lands (neither of which were, of course, implemented). My thought was that, perhaps, the fantastic claims made by and for Quddus and Tahirih were elements of that revolution. The Guardian wrote of various parallels between the ministry of the Bab and that of Christ. For one thing, as I see it, as Christ spoke in parables, the spirit of the Babi Dispensation was, in many ways, a parable in dynamic action. So many different, yet interconnected, events were occurring simultaneously. Seemingly, all things were being shaken up in preparation for the coming of "Him Whom God will make manifest." For one thing, the station of women was about to be transformed. Tahirih's act of removing of the veil and claiming to be even greater than Quddus may have been the impetus for a spiritual leveling process in female-male relations. However, most relevant to the present discussion, the station (not nature) of the true believer (with Quddus as archetype) was about to be raised by the Blessed Beauty to that of a lesser Prophet. With that in mind, I wonder if the references to Quddus could pertain to his station (comparable to that of the dependent Manifestations), while, in reality, his human nature did not actually incarnate the divine Will, Word, Cause, and Spirit? IOW, could it be that Quddus was the first believer of the present universal prophetic cycle to be elevated to the station of a lesser Prophet (a follower and promoter)? With loving greetings, Mark From email@example.comTue Sep 12 23:28:05 1995 Date: Tue, 12 Sep 1995 17:52:40 -0700 From: DEREK COCKSHUT To: firstname.lastname@example.org.Published.by.George.Ronald.1995.ISBN0-85398-382-8.price.$12/95 Subject: Sexuality,Relationships and Spiritual Growth Written by Agnes Ghaznavi who also wrote 'The Family Repairs and Maintenance Manual' she is a psychiatrist who believes sexuality is positive and that the sexual guilt aspects of traditional religions are harmful to the development of stable relationships and healthy minded people.The chapter headings of her book might give an idea of the subjects discussed:1.The daily practice of a psychiatrist 2. Tradition attitudes looming over the present 3.Qualities and attitudes necessary in a relationship of equality 4.Some difficult relationships 5.Immature and degrading relationships 6.pain and development 7.Sexual development 8.choosing a partner for life 9.new aspects of sexuality 10.New methods of spiritual health , Epilogue. I would point out that the chapter that Dan Orey is concerned about chapter 5. deals with incestuous relationships and sexual abuse as well as perversions. She finishes that chapter in part with this remark' Perversity certainly should not be condoned. But must we judge the homosexual, the transsexual...?.......The Baha'i Teachings......can be summarised thus 'homosexuals are not the only segment of human society labouring at this task< to prepare his soul for the other worlds of God>- every human being is beset by such inner promptings as pride , greed , selfishness , lustful hetrosexual or homosexual desires' I will post a full review of the Book if required and naturally it is available in the Bosch Bookshop. Kindest Regards Derek Cockshut. From email@example.comTue Sep 12 23:29:06 1995 Date: Tue, 12 Sep 1995 20:01:56 -0500 (CDT) From: John Bromberek To: Talisman@indiana.edu Subject: Re: Clocks and Dates On Tue, 12 Sep 1995 Member1700@aol.com wrote: > Even the calendar was a local matter, with the local imam determining the > beginning of each (lunar) month with the sighting of the new moon. (Which is > why, in some cases, there are discrepancies of dates--even in Baha'i > history.) Thank you, Tony. That leads me to another question. A few weeks ago I was playing with the fine freeware program MAWAQIT which is used to compute Muslim prayer times, the visibility of the Moon, and related things, and I happened to enter October 19th, 1819. According to the program, it would have been virtually impossible for anyone in Shiraz to have spotted the crescent moon after sunset that night. If this is true, October 20th could not have been the first day of Muharram, that year. Instead, it would have had to be October 21st. I was able to quickly verify this information using several other astronomical programs. The Moon, as viewed from Shiraz, set on the 19th just five minutes after the Sun. Likely, it was the first day of Muharram somewhere on the planet on October 20th, but it appears it could not have been in Shiraz. Assuming I haven't made any gross error, or misunderstood the manner in which the Islamic Calendar is observed, the Bab must have been born on October 21st, 1819. I am not saying that the Bab wasn't born on 1 Muharram, since the local people would certainly have known what day it was according to their calendar, but when the transformation to the Gregorian Calendar was made, there seems to have been a mistake. I realize that the standard "computed" Islamic Calendar does yield October 20th = 1 Muharram that year, but those calculations are not always correct. Has this ever come up before?. John B. firstname.lastname@example.org From email@example.comTue Sep 12 23:29:34 1995 Date: Tue, 12 Sep 1995 20:23:40 -0500 (CDT) From: John Haukness To: talisman Subject: Abdul Baha Allah-u-abha Friends: May education not become a veil between thy Beloved and thyself. I want to introduce a description of scholarship in this Blessed day, (or in this secular day) as none other that the discipline that would enable one upon reading the posted quote, "Women are not to serve on any House and later when Abdul Baha visited America he changed this." would know that this quote represents naught but proof of fabrication and that giving substance of credibility to such would represent being misled or misleading others. firstname.lastname@example.org From LWALBRID@cluster.ucs.indiana.eduTue Sep 12 23:40:09 1995 Date: Tue, 12 Sep 95 21:12:02 EWT From: LWALBRID@cluster.ucs.indiana.edu To: email@example.com Subject: women, power, and work First, let me thank all of you who have so warmly greeted me back onto Talisman. I can't for the life of me see why you have done so. I am glad Tony addressed the issue of the construction of gender and how it differs in various societies. It is also important to add that the sort of work assigned to women has very little to do with the society's designation of her as being very weak. Women frequently have the heaviest labor to do, such as building houses and carrying water. Yet, in this country, women rarely are found, say, climbing telephone poles to repair lines. Obviously, if we can carrying buckets of water, we can also climb telephone poles. The reasons we don't is a matter of economics. One is well paid for climbing telephone poles, so, consequently, it is the job of men. If the telephone company paid only minimum wage to repair telephone lines, the job would automatically be open to women. Thank you, thank you, Sonja for not being afraid to use the term "power." I am really astonished that it is so difficult for some to associate serving on the UHJ with having power. I suppose it is because power is so commonly abused, that we shun the whole idea of it. Because women have had so little access to formal power we haven't a clue as to what the world would be like if we had more. I think that it is very instructive to listen to the issues being debated at the Women's Conference. Great strides are being made: it has been proposed that it is legitimate for a woman to refuse sex with a man. Imagine, we have to have a major conference in the late twentieth century to debate - and still only debate - this issue. The norm is for women to have to have sex with a man who has a claim on her, regardless of whether he is infected with the HIV virus or has some other disease. If he is utterly reprehensible to her, this makes no difference. He has a claim to her body and she must obey. Now, such an issue is of major concern to women. Women think about such issues because we can all put ourselves in the place of a woman forced to have sex with a man that we fear or loathe or know we will become deathly ill from. Such an issue is an abstraction for men. Men generally cannot understand what it is like to be forced to have sex (though I will concede that, of course, boys too often know what it is to be sexually mollested). However, grown men do not need to sit around worrying about whether or not someone is going to force or coerce them to have sex. My point here is that the perspective of women is going to be so much different from that of men. Men don't have the equivalent of international women's conferences and, as is so evident from the media coverage of the conference, they don't really understand what this is all about. In so many forums today, there is a grudging acceptance that a woman's perspective is useful. Even police I have spoken to are increasingly accepting the fact that women (not one's who are imitating men) bring something important to a police force. How in heaven's name, then, can we say that it is not important to have women on the UHJ? Please, no hocus pocus answers. These men on the UHJ are ordinary men. I have never seen them sprouting wings or wearing halos. They are, no doubt, good, honest men. That is not the point. No matter how nice or good they are they would not feel the same urgency on the issues brought out at the Women's Conference. They have not experienced in any sense the types of abuses that bring these women to China with such a sense of a mission. Now, Derek, I heard on NPR yesterday a feature about e-mail being more like writing post cards than letters. For some reason, I thought you would be interested in knowing this. David, I sent you a message but it bounced back. Please e-mail me so I can try again. Thanks. Linda From firstname.lastname@example.orgTue Sep 12 23:42:04 1995 Date: Tue, 12 Sep 1995 21:02:01 -0600 (MDT) From: "[G. Brent Poirier]" To: Steven Scholl <email@example.com> Cc: Talisman Subject: Re: Domains of Authority/Women on UHJ On 7 Sep 1995, Steven Scholl wrote: > My understanding of Baha'i law is that the > Guardian's arena of "infallibility" lies in interpretation of the sacred texts > while the Universal House of Justice is to pronounce authoritatively and > "infallibly" on all matters of Baha'i legislation and administration that are > not clear in the sacred texts. Just a comment on this frequently stated view of the domain of the House. That is, many of the areas for the House are quite specifically set forth in the Text; there are several explicit ones in the Tablet of Questions and Answers, for example. So in addition to those areas where the Text is silent, there are quite a number of explicit endowments of authority for the House. In addition to legislation there are, as you pointed out Steve, matters of administration, as the Guardian stated in the "Dispensation." The others are summarized in the Constitution. From firstname.lastname@example.orgWed Sep 13 00:03:11 1995 Date: Tue, 12 Sep 1995 21:33:23 -0600 (MDT) From: "[G. Brent Poirier]" To: Frank Lewis Cc: email@example.com Subject: Interpretation and legislation On Thu, 7 Sep 1995, Frank Lewis wrote: > Interpretation is essential to the meaning of any text. Personally, > I feel that the distinctions that have been drawn between legislation and > interpretation are rather weak. While it is true that there is a > difference, one cannot be done without the other. It is not possible for > me or anyone else to pick up a text and pass a law on the basis of that > text without having interpreted the meaning of the text. I'd like to comment on the application of that principle to the legislative acts of the Universal House of Justice. My understanding of the term "interpret" as used in the above paragraph means "to have a correct understanding." My understanding of the term "interpret" as in the Guardian is the sole infallible Interpreter, is that only he can establish doctrine, only he can explicate to others authoritatively, the meaning of a given Text. My view of the scope of infallibility of the House, (as confirmed by the letter from the House in which it states that its guarantee of infallibility carries with it the guarantee that it will not stray out of its defined sphere) is that it is guided internally as to accuracy of meaning of the Text, such as what areas of Baha'u'llah's laws are off limits and what areas are open to its legislation; and in that sense, "what the Text means." The fact that there is not an infallible interpreter in its midst may not mean that the House does not infallibly understand the Text; it may mean that it cannot impose its understanding on the friends; but it can use its understanding to legislate, to protect, and to administer -- to do those things which it is empowered to do. While the House has stated that its power to clarify "matters that are obscure" is very different from the power to infallibly interpret, the Master has written that the "deductions" of the House will not "cause differences." My understanding is that this is a term of art that does not mean simply that the friends will obey it (like the NSA or LSA) without dissension, but conveys a spiritual reality about the effect of its pronouncements. Brent From firstname.lastname@example.orgWed Sep 13 00:03:47 1995 Date: Wed, 13 Sep 95 15:37 NZST From: S&W Michael To: email@example.com Subject: Ye Olde Menstruation Excuse It seems as though, amongst all the posturing as to reasons why women are excluded from the House of Justice, there aren't too many talisman subscribers who think its because of women's apparent 'irrationality' during menstruation. However, since it's just been mentioned again, albeit in jest, I think we should consider the very varied experiences women have during this time. Many experience several days of quite an extraordinarily heightened creativity, and a time of deepening spiritual awareness. Rather fine qualities for appointment to the House one might think. So if there is anyone out there who still likes the 'menstruation excuse' - get real!! I've heard it said there's got to be an excuse somewhere for men's month-long irrationality, but it seems to be being kept very quiet if there is one!! Cheers Suzanne M. From firstname.lastname@example.orgWed Sep 13 00:17:22 1995 Date: Tue, 12 Sep 95 20:34:01 -0400 From: Ahang Rabbani To: email@example.com Cc: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Martyrs of Manshad -- part 1 [This message is converted from WPS-PLUS to ASCII] Dear Friends: Recently, I've been making a study of the pogrom of 1903 in Yazd and its environs and have decided to translate an eyewitness report of the persecution of the Baha'i community of Manshad (pronounced Man-shAd). The report in question is "Sharh Shahadat-i Shuhaday-i Manshad" (Account of Martyrdom of Manshad's Martyrs), by Siyyid Muhammad Tabib-i Manshadi. My interest is translating this primary historical document is chiefly to introduce, in a language admittedly inadequate, a brief account of the heroic deeds of our brothers and sisters in the Cradle of the Faith to the Baha'i communities of the West so that they may draw fresh inspirations from these deeds of sacrifice. It is particularly surprising that the story of the massive 1903 holocaust of the Baha'i community of Yazd and its neighboring region has not been narrated in the English literature of the Cause. After the translation of this document, I intend to share an abridge translation of Haj Muhammad-Tahir Malmiri's "Tarikh-i Shuhaday-i Yazd" (History of Yazd's Martyrs). The events surrounding the martyrdom of so many of the friends in the small town of Manshad is told both by Tabib-i Manshadi and Malmiri. It is particularly noteworthy that both books use almost the same language, and in many places verbatim, to narrate the events. I suspect that since Tabib-i Manshadi was an eyewitness and participant in the Manshad's events, Malmiri used his account in his own book, starting page 432. As such, in absence of other evidence, I consider Manshadi's account to be the primary source with Malmiri utilizing it in his own book. However, it should be pointed out that in a few places, Malmiri does add a few additional pieces of information which helps with placing the events in perspective. I intend to use these additional pieces of information as footnotes. I'll be most grateful for any and all comments which the translators on Tarjuman wish to share. Such assistance will be properly recognized at the time of publishing. Since participants on Talisman discussion group have in the past expressed an interest to receive copies of provisional translations, I intend to "cc" Talisman with these postings with a request *not* to forward to anyone. Everyday, I'll post a few pages of this translation and expect to complete the whole thing in about a week. What follows in this posting is a brief "Forward" and author's biography. Starting with the next posting, the actual translation will commence. With appreciations, ahang. The Martyrs of Manshad By: Siyyid Muhammad Tabib-i Manshadi Translator's Forward: The Tree of Faith is nourished by the blood of the martyrs. What follows is the story of a band of selfless, dedicated, love-intoxicated followers of Baha'u'llah who sacrificed the most precious of all things in His service -- life itself. The momentous events associated with the birth and development of the Dispensation of Baha'u'llah find their origin in the Cradle of His Faith, Iran. Such glorious events have been contrasted by the bitter persecution of a defenseless community which knows no other purpose than to unite the world under the banner of brotherhood and peace. In a number of Tablets, Abdu'l-Baha quotes a well-known poem: "nuk-i khari nist, kaz khun-i shahidan surkh nist" (there is not a spike whose tip is not tinged with the blood of the martyrs). The implications of this line, although far-reaching, find no greater significance than in the city of Yazd and its environs. This area has seen what none other has since the inception of the Faith, when such heroes as the immortal Vahid, Mulla `Aly-i Sabzivari and thousands of others, time and again, stood firm in the face of the onslaught of a vicious enemy and offered life and limb as the greatest testimony of the truth and validity of Baha'u'llah's Cause. In words of the beloved Master, "the martyrs of the land of Ya [Yazd] drank their fill with relish from the draught of glorious martyrdom." The Baha'i community of Manshad, a small town in the neighborhood of Yazd, stood as a shining example, a community which would ultimately win the immortal crown of fidelity by withstanding the onslaught of a fierce enemies. The heinous events that culminated in the martyrdom of so many of the friends in that blackest of all days started on June 26, 1903. The story of that pogrom and the events leading up to it is immortalized by the pen of Siyyid Muhammad Tabib-i Manshadi, an eyewitness to many of the episodes. For some of the details, he later closely interviewed all the remaining survivors and thereby completed his brief narration which was made available some 25 years ago, (127 BE), under the title of "Sharh Shahadat-i Shuhady-i Manshad" (Account of Martyrdom of Manshad's Martyrs). The same details and based on the information of the same narrator is also captured by Haj Muhammad-Tahir Malmiri in his immortal "Tarikh Shuhaday-i Yazd", starting on page 432. The events of Manshad, which will be recounted in this narrative are part and parcel of a much larger and truly massive Baha'i holocaust of 1903 in Yazd and its surrounding towns. It is hoped that in a near future, the full story of Yazd's martyrs and events be also made available in English so that the Baha'i communities everywhere are inspired by the brilliant example of their brothers and sisters at the Cradle of the Faith. the translator Author's autobiography: Aqa Siyyid Muhammad Tabib-i Manshadi, (1863-1918), was a son of Aqa Siyyid Abdu'l-Ghani and Sakinih Khanum. Born in Yazd, he spent his early childhood in that city, completing his early education. Pursuant to a career in medicine, he moved eventually to Tihran where after his concluding his studies, he emerged as a well-trained and knowledgeable medical Doctor (hence the name, Tabib). Returning back to his native land of Yazd, he commenced his medical practice, and it was then that he learned about the Faith of Baha'u'llah and embraced it as a believer. Around 1886, some five years before the upheaval of Yazd which resulted in bloodshed of the Seven Martyrs of Yazd, Aqa `Ali-Akbar, the martyr, requested Aqa Siyyid Muhammad to settle in Manshad and continue his medical practice in that town. Having accepted this invitation, Aqa Siyyid Muhammad pioneered to Manshad and made that town his home. For a while he resided with his host, Aqa `Ali-Akbar, (whose house presently serves as the Baha'i Center of Manshad's community) and then moved to a house near the Husayniyyih of Manshad, next door to a mosque. Shortly thereafter, Aqa Siyyid Muhammad married Bibi-Rubabih, a daughter of late Haj Siyyid Husayn-i Banadaki; a union which resulted in two children. During his life time, Aqa Siyyid Muhammad witnessed several episodes of persecution of the community, the most gruesome of which was the great upheaval of Manshad and Yazd in the year 1321 H, (1903). Many Baha'is during this period drank from the chalice of martyrdom. Miraculously, Aqa Siyyid Muhammad, though well-known as a Baha'i and residing in Manshad, escaped the hands of his persecutors, later, committing to paper his recollections and remembrances of other survivors of that dark period. In addition to his narratives, others by Aqa Siyyid Abu'l-Qasim-i Bayda and Haj Muhammad Tahir-i Malmiri ("Tarikh-i Shuhaday-i Yazd" -- History of Yazd's Martyrs) attest to the selfsame horrors characteristic of the period. Aqa Siyyid Muhammad died at the age of 56 in the year 1336 H having remained faithful his entire life. Serving the community of Manshad -- where he had pioneered so many years earlier -- was his greatest desire. He is now buried in a cemetery of that city. The beloved Master has revealed a magnificent Tablet in his honor which will stand for all time as the testimony to his faith and zeal. May the Grace of Baha'u'llah continue to surround him in all the worlds of God. (to be continued) From email@example.comWed Sep 13 00:19:47 1995 Date: Wed, 13 Sep 1995 00:01:00 -0400 (EDT) From: Juan R Cole To: Mary Day Cc: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Re: women and literacy Mary: Thank you for your question with regard to my references to women's illiteracy as a background for their initial exclusion from houses of justice. I am simply reporting my understanding of `Abdu'l-Baha's own concerns. He speaks on several occasions of women being "backward" and this being a result of their lack of education. I think he has in mind primarily Middle Eastern women. And here it is important to point out that literacy rates for Muslim women have been extremely low on the whole in world terms throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. I've tried to find numbers, and as far as I can tell, the literacy rate in a place like Egypt around 1900 was about 7 percent. In Iran it was probably less, more like 5 percent. This number consists almost entirely of men. The major form of education in these societies was the Qur'an school (Arabic "maktab"), which taught basic literacy and arithmetic and lasted for four or five years. An idea of what such a late-nineteenth century primary schooling was like in the Middle East can be gained from Taha Husayn's "Stream of Days" autobiography. In any case, the maktab was entirely for boys. Girls did not go and were overwhelmingly left illiterate. Only a handful of notable families might have their girls tutored. From the 1850s civil government schools began being founded, but these trained limited numbers of students and were also overwhelmingly male. Rifa'ah at-Tahtawi (d. 1873) gained fame as a reformer concerned with women by simply supporting the idea of girls' schools! In the 1870s there were about 300 women in government schools, as I remember. Of course, some religious minorities schooled their girls, but the numbers are still small. Because of strong codes of gender segregation, women played very little role in public life or politics in the late 19th century. There were no women delegates to the national assembly (where there was one!), no women cabinet ministers, no women high in the government bureaucracy, no women clergy, lawyers, notaries, etc. Women did own property such as shops, but their business affairs were conducted by male wakils or proxies. Upper-class women were forbidden to go out of the house, and middle and lower-middle class urban women went out only veiled and had no extensive contact with non-related men. Working class and peasant women did not veil, and performed hard labor, but were kept subservient to male bosses and landowners and the men of their own families. So the point is that a five to seven percent literate notability of males formed a platform for administrative involvement, whereas women in the Middle East did not have a fraction of that and moreover lacked all sorts of public experience that even illiterate male artisans, etc., would have in their guild organizations (I have never found evidence of women guilds). So I don't think it is at all strange that `Abdu'l-Baha thought women as a corporate group unready for administrative service, and it was only his encounter with mainly upper-class Western women pilgrims and activists that changed his mind in regard to LSAs in 1909-1912. cheers Juan Cole, History, University of Michigan From email@example.comWed Sep 13 09:50:06 1995 Date: Wed, 13 Sep 1995 00:24:48 -0500 (CDT) From: Frank Lewis To: firstname.lastname@example.org Cc: email@example.com Subject: RE: interpretation Juan: You asked, in reply to my message of about a week ago if I was saying "that `Abdu'l-Baha had the authority to over-rule Baha'u'llah?" I suppose I would reply to this that it is a matter of semantics. It occurs to me that a well-to-do Baha'i man who was all set to marry a woman with whom he had fallen very much in love as his second wife (in accordance with what must have seemed like a fairly straight-forward and self-evident interpretation of the provisions of Baha'u'llah's *Kitab-i-Aqdas*), would have been rather surprised and perhaps even disappointed to receive a tablet from Abdu'l-Baha indicating that treating both wives with justice would be impossible and therefore the intent of Baha'u'llah's pronouncement was that Baha'is should marry only one wife. Do you not think that this hypothetical man may have hypothetically felt that Abdu'l-Baha had effectively "changed" or "over-ruled" the Aqdas? Yet, I think AB did have the authority to do so. Likewise, I imagine that if in the future the UHJ were to rule that women could serve on the UHJ, it might look to many people as if the UHJ had "overturned" a ruling of `Abdu'l-Baha and/or the Guardian. From your point of view, though, based upon the arguments you have put forth, you would understand the same ruling as a natural development and application of a fundamental principle of the Faith--equality of the sexes--and not as a reversal of previous policy. Whether one understands these hyptothetical instances to be "interpretation," "legislation," "supplementing," "expounding," or "over-turning," is more a question of faith, temperment, life-experience and one's view of the teleology of the Faith, than it is of logically distinct and identifiable actions. In short, it seems to me to depend upon one's beliefs about and attitudes toward the UHJ or Shoghi Effendi or `Abdu'l-Baha and their reasons for taking the action or making the decision in question, as opposed to clearly definable and deliniable spheres of authority or categories of action. yours, Frank Lewis From firstname.lastname@example.orgWed Sep 13 09:52:13 1995 Date: Wed, 13 Sep 1995 00:25:05 -0500 (CDT) From: Frank Lewis To: email@example.com Cc: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: RE: Hafiz Dear Ahang: You wrote in an earlier message that it was painful to disagree with me. Perhaps I can pluck that thorn from your side by disagreeing with you, in turn. (BTW, I was not arguing that the function or the station of Abdu'l-Baha and `Ali are the same; doctrinally speaking they are not. However, the role that "`Ali" [in quotes to designate him as a mytholgical symbol or a character in a story] plays in the sacred history of Shi`i Islam, is similar to the role that "`Abdu'l-Baha" fulfills--psychologically and mythologically--in Baha'i sacred history). In any case, this message is not about that at all, but about Hafez. The most reputable manuscripts of Hafez do not contain the poem you have quoted: > Ay Saba bi sakinan-i ahl-i Yazd az ma bigo > Kin sar-i haqq nashinasan, kuy-i maydan-i shumast Neither do they contain the poem that has sometimes been attributed to Hafez, supposedly a prophecy of the Bab: ShirAz por ghowghA shavad shekkar-lab-i paydA shavad It is unlikely that either poem was by Hafez. There were literally thousands of people who considered themselves poets in Shiraz and Isfahan and Tehran during the Qajar period and one of these people, presumably a Babi, may have penned the said verses. Perhaps they even deliberately attributed the verses to Hafez, knowing that if a famous poet has supposedly composed them, they would be more likely to gain currency. AFter all, who has more authorial authority, Hafez of Shiraz, or Haji Mirza Gholam-`Ali of Bojnurd, son of Husayn, who claims descent on his mother's side from Shabistari, a mediocre poet admired by Sufis? The verses in question may also have no reference at all to the Bab, but may refer to political circumstances during the life of the poet who composed them. In any case, I find the notion that a poet's spiritual insight is justified by the extent to which he or she did or did not cryptically predict the advent of the Bab or Baha'u'llah, rather amusing. On those grounds, we could pretty safely throw out all the verse of John Donne, and the poems and drawings of Blake, and a whole lot of other folks who might otherwise deemed to have quite a bit of insight into the human soul. That said, it is rather odd that Hafez, a poet who spent his whole life in Shiraz (except for an abortive journey to India) would have written about the river Aras, which is in the northwest of Iran and is not particularly significant in Iranian history or sacred geography, though it is close to where the Bab was imprisoned in Mahku and Chihriq. The following poem is attested by multiple early manuscripts as a composition of Hafez, and there can be little doubt that it is the real McCoy: ay sabA gar bog-zari bar sAhel-e rud-e aras buseh zan bar khAk-e An vAdi o moshkin kon nafas O zephyr, should you pass by the banks of the River Aras kiss the earth of that vale and make your breath redolunet with its musk As for Rumi, it seems to me self-evident that he and other poets give us insights into human character, morality, the numinous and many other things that the Qur'an either does not provide or provides only in potentia, just as Einstein provides us with insight into the physical universe that can nowhere be deduced from the Bible. Whether we call Rumi a prophet or not, does not the fact that Baha'u'llah quotes many of Rumi's verses in his own Tablets to illustrate certain points indicate that Baha'u'llah felt these poems to be full of beauty, insight, wisdom and Truth? So, in effect, did not Rumi "reveal" these verses 600 years prior to Baha'u'llah revealing them or confirming them as true? yours, Frank From email@example.comWed Sep 13 09:53:45 1995 Date: Wed, 13 Sep 1995 00:24:33 -0500 (CDT) From: Frank Lewis To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: The gender of hermaphrodites For those who may doubt that gender is a construct, I would recommend the book *Gender: An Ethnomethodological Approach* by Suzanne J. Kessler and Wendy McKenna (Univ of Chicago Press, 1978). The book made me quite angry while I read it, but I left it with the understanding that there is not necessarily a direct correspondence between one's biological sex and one's *gender,* the latter being in large part a cultural construct. There are cases (transvestites) in which one's gender is not acculturated or socialized in accordance with one's biology and, indeed, there are cases in which people are born with both female and male sex organs, or have abnormal concentrations of the opposite sex hormone. In such cases, a determination is often made early on to medically and surgically differentiate the sex of the child as either male or female and to construct a gender identity that corresponds with that sex. So, let me pose a hypothetical question. Should a hermaphrodite, a person who possessed both male and female genitalia, be eligible to serve on the UHJ? Are the categories of [men] and [women], for the purpose of determining eligibility for the UHJ, defined on the basis of biology or on the basis of gender (meaning something that has a biological basis but is also a social construct)? If the latter, will human beings evolve to the point where the social construct [woman] no longer corresponds to the concept of [woman] as reflected in the writings of AB and Baha? In other words, are gender categories essential and permanent or primarily cultural and in flux? yours, Frank Lewis From Alethinos@aol.comWed Sep 13 09:54:05 1995 Date: Wed, 13 Sep 1995 01:35:48 -0400 From: Alethinos@aol.com To: email@example.com Subject: Re: Women & UHJ (Sonja) SEN: In a message dated 95-09-12 16:31:31 EDT, you write: >What is gradually becoming more exciting for me is to discover that the >Writings are much richer and open to interpretation than I was first led >to believe. So I have to ask you, and through you everyone who keeps going on and on and on about this, (while at the same time swearing unending acquiesce to the already given response): What part of the Universal House of Justice' ". . . NO . . ." did you not understand?? jim harrison Alethinos@aol.com From GreyOlorin@aol.comWed Sep 13 09:55:17 1995 Date: Wed, 13 Sep 1995 02:40:32 -0400 From: GreyOlorin@aol.com To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: perhaps a bit of the wisdom? First, thanks to everyone who responded to the thoughts I posted the other day. I intend to carry on with the dialogue, but at the moment it's past my bedtime and I have just one thing to say. Don't worry, it's not a pronouncement along the lines of "I'm leaving" or "I'm not going to discuss X any more"... :) It's merely a flash of insight I've just had, which I'll now ruthlessly toss into the den of Talisman to see if it survives. Through all the dust that's been kicked up over the issue of women on the Universal House of Justice, one thing seems clear to me: that the core of what's been said on both sides of the issue has been true. There is a logical tendency to see the inclusion of women on the Supreme Body as a necessary expression of the principle of equality repeatedly proclaimed in the Writings; at the same time, the words of the Supreme Body are unmistakably clear in stating that such inclusion is not possible at this time or in the near future. Each side rests on strong, yet different logical foundations, so that they cannot be easily reconciled with one another. Perhaps the absence of easy answers is part of the wisdom of this ruling. Someone recently mentioned an exchange with non-Baha'i feminists who expressed their complete lack of interest in empty proclamations of theoretical equality. They wanted practical proof of equality, which they saw as measurable only in whether or not a religious community opens its highest position(s) to women. In pondering their stance, I could not help but reflect upon the small number of modern nation-states which have placed women in the "highest position of power." Have the exalted offices held by Bhutto in Pakistan, or Chamorro in Nicaragua, or even Thatcher in Britain, substantially improved the legal status of women in those societies? Clearly not. At least for the time being, placing a woman in the "highest position of power" is nothing more than another nod to purely theoretical equality. For many men, the fact that a tiny number of women hold positions of such power allows continuing psychological denial of the brutal conditions still endured by the vast majority of women. Perhaps, then, one salutary effect of the ineligibility of women to serve on the Universal House of Justice may be that the Baha'is will never be allowed to forget the issue of equality until we have achieved its real and practical expression in the communities in which real women must live and work. We cannot elect a tiny minority of women to the Supreme Body and then fool ourselves into thinking we've finished the job. Instead, critics both inside and outside the Baha'i community, both friendly and hostile to the Faith, will continuously hound us with charges of hypocrisy until true equality of status is accorded to all Baha'i women in all practical ways, to which they themselves will unhesitatingly and convincingly attest. In short, perhaps our task is to exert such efforts at every other level of Baha'i community life and administration that the ineligibility of women to serve on the Universal House of Justice will be universally recognized as negligible. This is essentially an extension, albeit more ambitious, of the same idea I presented the other day. Please subject it to the most vigorous examination, that it might become something stronger and more useful than I could ever produce alone. With gratitude and regards, Kevin Haines From email@example.comWed Sep 13 09:58:02 1995 Date: Wed, 13 Sep 1995 21:43:24 +1000 From: Ahmad Aniss To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: search after truth Dear Friends, During the past few days we have seen so many postings by different individuals regarding the matter of women on UHJ. As you know this discussion started by my posting of the article 'Seed of Creation'. However, I am very disappointed that the discussion is going the way it is going. I was hoping that the friends will read that article and discuss the actual matters that it raises. Very few of the friends have actually bothered reading the article but many have tried to comment on a single issue that came out of it (emancipation of women). I say this because, I see responses that are completely out of touch with the article. Some merely trying to respond to postings of others which in my view were trying to discuss the matter after reading the article, but as the respondent had not read the article, could not discuss the topic of the article. So much for principle of 'the individual search after truth'. Perhaps I did not clearly define the issues involved in that article, but I think that is not the case. I believe that members of the Talisman (at list those who respond to posts such as mine) have the desire of just talking about relationship of men and women. Although, this is a hot topic and important for discussion, but it was not the topic of my article. I wish that friends would read the article carefully and then discuss the matters that it raises in a form that can encompass all the issues concerned. I will give you some examples, You see the article's main topic was Creation itself. Then the Principle of male and female plus the interaction or reproduction process. Now the article produces some new insight in Baha'i belief in the Creation of World and entities that are involved in that Creation. It is true that the matter of UHJ comes into it in a major form, but the topic of no women on the UHJ was not the main point. I am hoping that perhaps this posting, can divert the discussion from the way it is going to the way that I think it should follow, if the discussion is about the matters that the article raised. The following is a suggestive list of questions that the reader must ask himself/herself about the matters that the article is raising. of course not in the order that I am listing them. 1. What are the scientific facts about our universe. 2. What are the Baha'i believes on creation. 3. What is ether and what are the relevant Baha'i writings on it. 4. What is the male and Female principle. 5. Is this principle universal as a law. 6. What are the implications of this law in regard to relationship of men and women. 6. What is the nature of our relationship in Physical World with that of the Spiritual World. 7. If these interactions are presently real, then what is the structure of them and what form they take. 7. Why Manifestations of God have up to now been male personages. 8. What are the writings regarding the membership of the UHJ. 9. What factors determine the wisdom that Abdu'l-Baha is stating. 10. What should be the condition of the world for that wisdom to be clear as the noon sun. 11. What are the implications of this wisdom in regard to emancipation of women anyway I can go on for some more but I just want to show you that the topic of emancipation of women is not the issue concerned in the article. So I hope that friends that have not read the article would either read it or stop commenting on issue as they only basking on the issue of emancipation of women. Of course this issue is important but is not the correct response to the issues raised in the article. May be you could say it is one of the issues involved. Yes, it is but discussion can not fruitfully be based on that issue alone. Any way Perhaps the discussion will turn towards the actual topic of the mysteries behind the male and female principle and its metaphoric relationship with the Spiritual World. But, I guess that I could only hope that the issue of emancipation of women could be separated and be discussed as a individual issue by itself. With Baha'i Love and Fellowship. Ahmad. ^_______________________________________________________________________^ From email@example.comWed Sep 13 09:58:51 1995 Date: Wed, 13 Sep 95 13:46:08 -6000 From: firstname.lastname@example.org To: email@example.com Subject: women on the house Dear friends, someone on talisman forwarded me some of the mails on women and the house of justice. I have not gotten all, so maybe the point I raise has been discussed already. I could not refrain from bringing up some points. It seems to me that there will be no such thing as the Administrative Order or growth of the Bahai community if there is no true consultation. In the manner I see it it is that in a good consultation there is ample room for people to speak what is in their hearts and that this will be done in a manner which shows respect for each other. Now, very often we do not yet find this attitude, this consultation. No wonder we are still so small! How can we ever imagine that the Universal House of Justice will have much more power than it has now, if we will not be able to grow and apply real consultation? There is nothing to worry about, in my opinion. Either we learn how to consult and then the House will never take any decision that is detrimental to women, as they will apply consultation as well with NSA's and Councellors (who can be women as well and from what I understand work closely with the House), and they will be fair, or we will fail and in that case there will be no administrative order to speak about. I have had the opportunity to meet several House members, and I was very critical, I must say. But I cannot say anything but that I like them. I spoke to several of them personally, and still found that they are genuine, that they are not different in private life than in public life. I find them very open to the need of women, although they may not have the experience of women. Most of them are married and their wives still alive. Most of their wives are not really the timid kind, but women who are personalities. I find it a bit silly to apply the standards of the world to an institution which nowadays on a worldwide scale has so little power. Aren't we getting just a very tiny bit paranoid? And why focus on what might happen? Why not focus on preventing that from happening, by raising our children in a different way and by generally trying to make this world a better place? There is but one power in this world and that is the power of love. Nothing else will attract people to us. All other power is illusion and will ultimately vanish. Baha'u'llah (or was it Abdu'l-Baha)? has warned us time and again that if *we* do not change, and we = me, every individual, not they or you, but me, I, this Cause will not grow. So, if we Bahais do not practice what we preach: tolerance, equality for men and women, love for every human being, because we see God in even the most horrible of persons, there will be no real Bahai faith and then, well, I said it already. True unity comes only about when people transform themselves, and that is the goal of any religion: to transform people. If we do not love our LSA, it will crumble. If we do not love our NSA, it will crumble. If we do not love our UHJ, it will crumble. Something which crumbles will have no power at all! It is as simple as that. loving greetings, janine van rooij amsterdam, the netherlands ============================================================================= From firstname.lastname@example.orgWed Sep 13 09:59:23 1995 Date: Wed, 13 Sep 95 14:08:43 -6000 From: email@example.com To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: women and equality As usual, I forgot something also important: And, further, how can we ever ever ever EVER imagine that if women get educated and more educated and more educated, as encouraged in the teachings, they will ever ever ever accept a subservient role and any injustice to their rights? I was born in '62 and grew up in the 70s, while women were burning their bra's. I have six sisters, ranging in age from 50-37. There is a vast difference in approach to things, because they grew up in a time, under a Roman Catholic regime, which was much more strict. We all had the same very emancipated woman as a mother. Yet the fact that I grew up in the 70s, in a country which understood what women were saying, and was very democratic, made me much more liberated than my sisters (except the one of 37). I have noticed the same difference with many of my friends. I have woman friends ranging from 50-32. The ones of my age are much more free (but less so than many of my nieces who are now 25-21) than the older ones. We are much more able to speak up for ourselves. I can only see this process continuing, and worldwide it is continuing, as more and more women are able to develop their mind. Any decision which the House might make which will be based on power and the wish to put women down will be immediately noticed by many educated women and they sure will protest. But personally, I believe that the House is incapable to do that, because i believe that the House has more practice with true consultation as the average Bahai has. janine van rooij amsterdam, the netherlands ============================================================================= From Sen.Mcglinn@rl.rulimburg.nlWed Sep 13 10:03:39 1995 Date: Wed, 13 Sep 95 15:24:53 EZT From: Sen.Mcglinn@rl.rulimburg.nl To: email@example.com Subject: masculine & feminine Dear Mary, I have not searched REFER for you (address for Refer is Lee Nelson, PO BOX 1613 San Juan Capistrano, CA 92693. A good programme, and it has become cheaper. I have not compared it with the free text programme which was mentioned on Talisman). If no-one else has done a search by the weekend I may have time then. However I have something on the principle of pairs in the Baha'i pattern of Order which is somewhat relevant. It's from a work-in-progress on church and state in the world order of Baha'u'llah, earlier versions of which have been posted on Talisman. Note that the implicit male-female pairing here is horizontal, not vertical. There is another kind of pairing, a vertical dialectic of procession from God-in-Godself, through the logos (Most Great Spirit) to the Manifestations and the Holy Spirit, the creation, etc., and this vertical pairing is also necessarily evident in the daily details of creation - for instance between parents and their offspring, the artist and the art work, etc. But that is not what I am discussing here: the pairs here are horizontal pairs, partners, not vertical pairs. Some may be literally male-female (as in sexual procreation, and some social constructs such as the bilinear pattern described in my inheritance paper); some might be metaphorically spoken of as male-female, if we understand that we are simply using male/female stereotypes (eg the House of Justice and the House of Worship form a 'male/female' pair, as masculine and feminine characteristics are presently understood); but many of these pairings cannot usefully be described as male/female if we are using the Western connotations of gender. It seems to me important not to confuse the pairing of procession, in which the first of the pair is by definition superior to the other, and the second depends for its existence on the first, with the horizontal pairing which is described below. (BTW, by 'procession' I mean the way a new creation 'proceeds' from an original, as in 'the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father & the Son'. No relation to brass bands and carnivals.) Apropos of other discussions here, in the vertical pairs the originator, or source, is usually tagged as feminine (mother, mother earth etc.) while the derivative or offspring does not get tagged as masculine. But in cultures where the act of origination is thought of as inherently masculine, derivation or passivity gets tagged as feminine. There's an odd asymmetry here that bears further investigation. Anyway, to get on with the horizontal pairs. When we look at the "unity" of the Baha'i administrative order we find that it is, paradoxically, characterised by divisions. There seems to be a consistent pattern in which institutions are differentiated from a partner institution which operates on a radically different basis. I will go further and say they operate on metaphysically different bases, because they embody different ideas. The most obvious of these differentiations is between the twin institutions of the Guardianship and the Universal House of Justice, the one hereditary, the other elected, the one focused on one individual who holds the office for life, the other an institutional form with the minimum possible emphasis on the individuals who, for their elected terms, comprise it. The one devoted to the interpretation of the sacred texts, the other to legislation for matters not contained in those texts. The one making interpretations which become part of the sacred text and may never be altered, the other applying principle to the needs of the time, and revoking its own legislation as required. Each requires the other, `Neither can, nor will ever, infringe upon the sacred domain of the other'[World Order of Baha'u'llah, pp. 147 - 150]. These differences between the Guardianship and the Universal House of Justice are reflected systematically in the differences between the elected and appointed institutions: each arm developing according to its own idea. If we understand these ideas, if we form some picture of the inner nature which drives the operation of each kind of organ, then the details of their operations and of how they are to work together should pose no difficulties. In the Universal House of Justice's recent letter to the NSA of the USA (May 19, 1994), they refer, in fact, to the need for the NSA "to obtain an integrated understanding of the Counsellors' responsibilities and sphere of action in relation to your own" and provide an outline of the different operational principles of the two kinds of institution. It is important to note here that the two organs are not separated according to spheres of operations, they "share in the functions of propagation and protection", but rather differentiated by different manners of operation, derived from their distinct charters in the writings of Baha'u'llah. As regards gender relations, even supposing that one applies this model of pairs to our social relationships (and as I have said, not all of the pairings can, even metaphorically, be summarized as masculine-feminine relationships), it would NOT imply a division into separate social functions (public- masculine & private-feminine is how it usually works out). Rather than 'the woman's place is bringing up children' etc., it would be 'a woman in the house/House brings a certain je ne sais quoi' AND 'a man in the house/House brings something else distinctive'. However I'm rather doubtful of the usefulness of trying to characterize all the horizontal pairings in terms of masculine/feminine. There are many other constructs which are just as important in determining social relations, and which provide equally useful metaphors. To return to the pairs we find in the Baha'i world ordering: there is a horizontal differentiation between the fund and the Huququ'llah which is similar to that between the Guardian and the Universal House of Justice. The one based on the voluntary principle, the other an obligation, the one given to and administered by elected institutions, the other in the hands of appointed trustees. The money of the funds flows from the bottom up, with the donors participating in the institutions which decide on the use of the funds, or even specifying the use to which their own donation is to be put, while the Huququ'llah is passed directly to the top and disbursed downwards. One could say that the idea animating the institution of the fund is 'participation', while the idea of the Huququ'llah is 'surrender'. And that is why, when we are giving to the fund, the right of the individual to specify the use to which a donation is put, and the duty of the institutions to respect that wish, is a fundamental Baha'i principle, but when we give to the custodian of the Huququ'llah that right and principle do not exist. Another differentiation can be found between the Feast and the Spiritual Assembly: the one comprising all believers who can be there on the day, the other with a fixed membership. The one acting as an accumulator for the power which resides in the individual, a sort of spiritual capacitor, the other exercising institutional authority over its expression (timing/distributor?). The first being most valuable, often, for the minority or purely personal opinions expressed there, the latter functioning on the principle of majority vote, its decisions announced without reference to the divergent or minority views which may have been expressed in the consultation. One could go on: the national convention and the National Spiritual Assembly, the international convention and the Universal House of Justice, the local or regional convention and the delegate to the national convention, the House of Justice and the House of Worship, and so on. On the basis of these differentiations I think we can venture a definition of 'organic unity', the structural principle underlying the Baha'i administrative order, as a unity based on a differentiation into pairs of distinct organs, each of which needs the other in order to fully express its own nature, and each developing freely according to its own distinctive principle. It is interesting to ask why we seem always to find pairs of institutions, and never triplets or foursomes. 'Abdu'l-Baha notes the same pattern recurring even in subatomic physics: ...the union of created things doth ever yield most laudable results. From the pairing of even the smallest particles in the world of being are the grace and bounty of God made manifest; and the higher the degree, the more momentous is the union. 'Glory be to Him Who hath created all the pairs, of such things as earth produceth, and out of men themselves, and of things beyond their ken.' (Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha, p. 119.) The quotation is from the Qur'an 36:36. In Islamic doctrine all things have their pair, or counterpart, or complement: God alone is One. A Baha'i version of this doctrine might have to be more complex, to allow for systems in which there is a dynamic interrelation between several individuals, as in a family conceived of as a single relationship rather than a grouping of pairs; or a Baha'i community, worship group, etc. Dhikrul'llah Khadem, in The Vision of Shoghi Effendi recalls; "I remember the time I was in the presence of Shoghi Effendi when he spoke about the significance of twin things in the Cause. In fact, he sent a cable about this to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the British Isles. [could be Messages to the Baha'i World 1950-1957, p. 8: could someone fill this in for me?]. In this cable, he told us about the significance of twin occurrences in this Cause. He told the Assembly that we have twin cities - holy cities - `Akka and Haifa; twin houses - the House of Shiraz and the House of Baghdad; twin Manifestations - the Manifestation of the Bab and that of Baha'u'llah. He continued, telling us everything is twin: twin festivals - the birthday of the Bab and that of Baha'u'llah; twin monuments - of the brother and mother of `Abdu'l-Baha .... After explaining these things, he paused and looked at me deeply and said, "In the Cause of God everything is twin." Another passage which comes to mind is in the 'marriage tablet': ... that from the union of these two seas of love a wave of tenderness may surge and cast the pearls of pure and goodly issue on the shore of life. "He hath let loose the two seas, that they meet each other: Between them is a barrier which they overpass not. Which then of the bounties of your Lord will ye deny? From each He bringeth up greater and lesser pearls." (Baha'i Prayers (US edition), page 106. The citation is from Quran 55: 19-22) This suggests that the reason for the consistent pattern of two-ness which we find in the Baha'i pattern of order may have some relation to love. We do not find threesomes or foursomes because love is most perfectly expressible between two (why is this? Or is the more perfect expression the horizontal pair PLUS the excess which flows out of their love: male + female + child; Jack and John and the extra which their strong relationship gives to the community around them; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? Push this button and I will turn trinitarian again :-)). However the two must never become one - crossing the barrier between them and losing their individual identities - although, in the nature of love, they forever long to do so. (Which is why I thought all of this was somehow relevant to church + state, the 'two forces' (`Abdu'l-Baha, Will and Testament, p 15) which must always remain distinct and in love, but that is another story.) When you have compiled more on feminine and masculine principles, Mary, I would appreciate a copy. Regards Sen ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Sen McGlinn From LWALBRID@cluster.ucs.indiana.eduWed Sep 13 15:40:12 1995 Date: Wed, 13 Sep 95 10:01:46 EWT From: LWALBRID@cluster.ucs.indiana.edu To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Burl's menstrual cycle, etc. Burl, while there was no shortage of interesting postings this morning, yours certainly did provide the caffein. I would like to suggest that perhaps you had such an extreme reaction (and PLEASE, tell me it was extreme, especially the "male" part), simply because your body was not at all acclimated to the level of estrogen pumped into your body. A woman grows accustomed to the cycle and normally manages it pretty well. I think all the attention to PMS and changes in personality are terribly exagerated and don't help women to cope at all. Anyway, I don't think this study you participated in tells us a great deal except that injecting large doses of estrogen into a man plays havoc with his body and psyche. While there are those who are annoyed or even angry with those of us who seem to be belaboring the issue of women on the UHJ and women's issues in general, I would like to point out that perhaps the reason for this "harping" is that, for some of us this is a deeply felt issue. I am sure if I were a man, I would grow very tired of hearing about discrimination against women. Indeed, at times I do too because I do have other interests. However, I must say that the discussion on Talisman has raised my consciousness and, at times, my ire. Also, with the women's conference in China, the Packwood case, and even the OJ Simpson trial, women's rights have been kept on the front burner here. Many women were attracted to the Baha'i Faith because they felt it was one religion where women were not discriminated against. No matter how much one struggles to accept the exclusion of women from the UHJ, there is always the nagging question, why? And when there are no good answers, and when good arguments are made suggesting that this ruling can be changed, then the movitation to cease the discussion is lacking. Linda