Shine Like Unto a Lamp

January 7, 2022
Shine Like Unto a Lamp

Issues of Society

Shine Like Unto a Lamp

Source: ‘Abdu’l-Bahá on Divine Philosophy (Boston: Tudor Press, 1918), pp. 81-83

‘Abdu’l-Baha was deeply concerned with the equality and advancement of women. At a time when the world was wrestling with both the idea of women’s suffrage (right to vote), He stated:

The woman of the East has progressed. Formerly in India, Persia and throughout the Orient, she was not considered a human being. Certain Arab tribes counted their women in with the live stock. In their language the noun for woman also meant donkey; that is, the same name applied to both and a man’s wealth was accounted by the number of these beasts of burden he possessed. The worst insult one could hurl at a man was to cry out, “Thou woman!”

From the moment Bahá’u’lláh appeared, this changed. He did away with the idea of distinction between the sexes, proclaiming them equal in every capacity.

In former times it was considered wiser that woman should not know how to read or write; she should occupy herself only with drudgery. She was very ignorant. Bahá’u’lláh declares the education of woman to be of more importance than that of man. If the mother be ignorant, even if the father have great knowledge, the child’s education will be at fault, for education begins with the milk. A child at the breast is like a tender branch that the gardener can train as he wills.

The East has begun to educate its women. Some there are in Persia who have become liberated through this cause, whose cleverness and eloquence the ulamá cannot refute. Many of them are poets. They are absolutely fearless. […]

I hope for a like degree of progress among the women of Europe – that each may shine like unto a lamp; that they may cry out the proclamation of the kingdom; that they may truly assist the men; nay, that they may be even superior to the men, versed in sciences and yet detached, so that the whole world may bear witness to the fact that men and women have absolutely the same rights. It would be a cause of great joy for me to see such women. This is useful work; by it woman will enter into the kingdom. Otherwise, there will be no results.

 


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