Posted by: samandal | December 31, 2010

The Tradition of Lovers, II

Díyáfat-i-Sharaf, the Feast of Honor

In one of his tablets, Bahá’u’lláh explicitly condemns adultery (ziná’), sodomy (liwát) and lechery (khiyána).

Ziná’ is defined very specifically in Islám as vaginal intercourse between a man and a woman who is neither his lawful wife nor his concubine. Liwát was specifically defined as anal penetration by a penis as a practice of subordination—illicit intercourse with a male slave on the basis of ownership. The term liwát may indeed cover some but not all homosexual activities, but it cannot be equated exclusively with homosexuality, for which there exists no precise term in the classical Arabic language.

An academic paper written by the late Bahá’í scholar R. Jackson Armstrong-Ingram, to which we have provided a link from this page, provides the most comprehensive study of this issue to date. He observes that the Kitáb-i-Aqdas can be comprehended as a liminal discourse that provides the tools to re-envision the ideology of gender and sexuality in each and every culture. We ourselves would add that the Kitáb-i-Aqdas as revealed law can be understood in terms of ideals, analogies, and interpretations; not so much as propositions to be accepted but as narratives for one to encounter both in historical context and in the context of one’s own life experiences.

Several prominent former Bahá’ís have recently stated words to the effect that the hegemonically-dominant Bahá’í Faith actively removes self-identified, sexually active homosexual persons from its membership, an insidious practice which perpetuates heterosexism, oppression, discrimination and violence. It should, however, be noted that the Unitarian Bahai Association, a democratic, liberal, inclusive and universalist Bahá’í community independent of the Bahá’í International Community of Haifa and ‘Akká, publicly welcomes and openly affirms gay and lesbian people as full and equal members of its community. The UBA is open and accessible to all.