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Equality (& Superiority) of Women

Christopher Buck | Apr 30, 2014

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.

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Christopher Buck | Apr 30, 2014

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.

equality between men and womenOkay, men – how would you define a “dream wife”?

For me, it’s someone who helps your life’s dreams come true. My tip for a healthy marriage: Help each other progress, advance and grow. This happened to me, even before I got married. How? My fiancée, Nahzy Abadi, encouraged me to fulfill my dream of going to graduate school.

“Impossible!” I thought. A physical education major trying to get into a Master’s program in the study of religion? No way!

That was true, at first. I had to take two “qualifying years” of religious studies and language courses at the University of British Columbia to qualify. So in 1983–1985, I took courses in Islam, the New Testament, and methodology. I also learned how to read the New Testament in the original Koine Greek, and to study the Church Fathers in ecclesiastical Latin.

My fiancée, Nahzy, made all this possible — which brings me to the superiority of women.

After I had entered Canada on a student visa, I started giving public talks at Baha’i meetings called “firesides.” I gave the largest fireside in my life, at the home of a respected Persian-Canadian doctor. Some 80 people attended.

Beforehand, I was offered a quick dinner in the kitchen. The good doctor asked: “Mr. Buck, what is your fireside topic for tonight?” “The equality and superiority of women,” I replied. The good doctor objected: “You can’t teach that! This is [the] Baha’i Faith!” Apparently he wanted me to talk only about the well-known Baha’i principle of the equality of men and women.

“Doctor,” I rejoined, “Abdu’l-Baha explains that, in certain ways, a woman can be superior to me — and you!” (It was probably a little discourteous when I pointed my finger directly at him, in order to register my point.) “And I have the writings to prove it,” I added, with rhetorical flourish. Fortunately, the good doctor was open-minded enough to let me give my talk.

During my presentation, I offered, as evidence, this remarkable statement by Abdu’l-Baha, which culminates in a prophecy — a vision of where this world is headed, in the not-too-distant future. On August 28th, 1913, Abdu’l-Baha wrote:

His Holiness Baha’u’llah has greatly strengthened the cause of women, and the rights and privileges of women is one of the greatest principles of Abdu’l-Baha. Rest ye assured! Ere long the days shall come when the men addressing the women, shall say: ‘Blessed are ye! Blessed are ye! Verily ye are worthy of every gift. Verily ye deserve to adorn your heads with the crown of everlasting glory, because in sciences and arts, in virtues and perfections ye shall become equal to man, and as regards tenderness of heart and the abundance of mercy and sympathy ye are superior’. – Paris Talks, pp. 184–185.

Later that same year, on November 14, 1913, Abdu’l-Baha said:

Neither sex is superior to the other in the sight of God. 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? If women received the same educational advantages as those of men, the result would demonstrate the equality of capacity of both for scholarship. In some respects woman is superior to man. She is more tender-hearted, more receptive, her intuition is more intense. . . – Paris Talks, pp. 161–162.

Suffragettes in the UK

Suffragettes in the UK

In conversation with “an ardent suffragist,” in London, probably on September 30th, 1911, Abdu’l-Baha had this memorable exchange:

. . . Abdu’l-Baha turned and said to the visitor: “Give me your reasons for believing that woman today should have the vote?” Answer: “I believe that humanity is a divine humanity and that it must rise higher and higher; but it cannot soar with only one wing.” Abdu’l-Baha expressed his pleasure at this answer, and smiling, replied: “But what will you do if one wing is stronger than the other?” Answer: “Then we must strengthen the weaker wing, otherwise the flight will always be hampered.” Abdu’l-Baha smiled and asked: “What will you say if I prove to you that the woman is the stronger wing?” . . .

Abdu’l-Baha then continued more seriously: “The woman is indeed of the greater importance to the race. She has the greater burden and the greater work. . . . The mere size of the brain has been proved to be no measure of superiority. The woman has greater moral courage than the man; she has also special gifts which enable her to govern in moments of danger and crisis. If necessary she can become a warrior.” – Abdu’l-Baha in London, pp. 102–103.

All else being equal, Abdu’l-Baha states that women have “special gifts,” in the following respects:

  • greater moral courage
  • greater importance to the human race
  • greater burden
  • greater work
  • superior abundance of mercy
  • superior abundance of sympathy
  • more tender-hearted
  • more receptive
  • more instinct with power
  • intuition more intense
  • “the stronger wing”

The Baha’i fireside was a success. The women especially liked it. And it never would have happened without my fiancée, Nahzy, now my dear wife of 30 years, helping my dreams come true. Hopefully, I’ve helped make a few of her dreams come true, too, just as she has done for our two sons and for others as well, by exemplifying a spirit of sacrifice and a superior morality that has also benefited those around her.

And let me tell you a secret: I’ve seen firsthand how a woman can be, in the words of Abdu’l-Baha, “the stronger wing”!

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