The Equality of Men and Women
By Nader Saiedi (Excerpt from article linked below)
The initial words of Baha’u’llah – first uttered when he was unjustly imprisoned in the Black Pit in Tehran in 1852 – advocate the equality of men and women.
“Baha’u’llah, a male prophet, defines himself as a being whose spiritual truth is portrayed as feminine.”
In his various writings, including at the beginning of a tablet called the Surih of the Temple, Baha’u’llah makes it clear that he received his divine message through a female divine reality – that through this maid of heaven, God communicates his revelation to Baha’u’llah:
While engulfed in tribulations I heard a most wondrous, a most sweet voice, calling above My head. Turning My face, I beheld a Maiden – the embodiment of the remembrance of the name of My Lord – suspended in the air before Me. So rejoiced was she in her very soul that her countenance shone with the ornament of the good pleasure of God, and her cheeks glowed with the brightness of the All-Merciful. Betwixt earth and heaven she was raising a call which captivated the hearts and minds of men. She was imparting to both My inward and outer being tidings which rejoiced My soul, and the souls of God’s honoured servants. – Baha’u’llah, The Summons of the Lord of Hosts
In another one of his writings, Baha’u’llah clearly points out that this maid of heaven is nothing but the truth of the Baha’i teachings, a truth which is the same as the truth of all prophets of God, the divine Will.
This feminine symbolization of the divine revelation implies a revaluation of all values.
If God communicated to Moses through a burning bush, and to Jesus through a bird, and to Muhammad through a male angel, now the new divine Springtime, the Baha’i revelation, is characterized by the sacredness of the female symbol. In Baha’u’llah’s worldview, God is far above male/female attributes — but then the highest sacred reality, the divine reflection and revelation, is now symbolized as a feminine reality.
Baha’u’llah, a male prophet, defines himself as a being whose spiritual truth is portrayed as feminine.
This means that the traditional description of women as symbols of irrationality, cunning and base desires has finally come to an end. The glorification of the female symbol is central to the Baha’i revelation, and inseparable from its theology. Needless to say, a movement whose main goal is the creation of peace must replace the violence of patriarchal culture with the loving and spiritual culture of equality and dignity of all humans, whether male or female.
Excerpt from article The Very First Words of the Baha’i Revelation by Nader Saiedi (Podcast interview by Rainn Wilson)
Note: The views expressed here are an individual perspective and do not express an official view of the Baha’i Faith.
See also: Bahá’u’lláh’s Symbolic Use of the Veiled Ḥúríyyih by John Hatcher, The Journal of Bahá’í Studies 29.3 2019