Kitáb-i-Aqdas (part 3)

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35. Ye have been forbidden to commit murder # 19

 

The prohibition against taking another's life is repeated by

Baha'u'llah in paragraph 73 of the Kitab-i-Aqdas. Penalties

are prescribed for premeditated murder (see note 86). In the

case of manslaughter, it is necessary to pay a specified

indemnity to the family of the deceased (see Kitab-i-Aqdas,

# 188).

 

36. or adultery # 19

 

The Arabic word "zina", here translated as "adultery",

signifies both fornication and adultery. It applies not only to

sexual relations between a married person and someone who

is not his or her spouse, but also to extramarital sexual

intercourse in general. One form of "zina" is rape. The only

penalty prescribed by Baha'u'llah is for those who commit

fornication (see note 77); penalties for other kinds of sexual

offence are left to the Universal House of Justice to

determine.

 

37. backbiting or calumny # 19

 

Backbiting, slander and dwelling on the faults of others

have been repeatedly condemned by Baha'u'llah. In the <p182>

Hidden Words, He clearly states: "O Son of Being! How

couldst thou forget thine own faults and busy thyself with the faults

of others? Whoso doeth this is accursed of Me." And again: "O

Son of Man! Breathe not the sins of others so long as thou art

thyself a sinner. Shouldst thou transgress this command, accursed

wouldst thou be, and to this I bear witness." This strong

admonition is further reiterated in His last work, "the Book

of My Covenant": "Verily I say, the tongue is for mentioning what

is good, defile it not with unseemly talk. God hath forgiven what is

past. Henceforward everyone should utter that which is meet and

seemly, and should refrain from slander, abuse and whatever

causeth sadness in men."

 

38. We have divided inheritance into seven categories # 20

 

The Baha'i laws of inheritance apply only in case of

intestacy, that is, when the individual dies without leaving

a will. In the Kitab-i-Aqdas (# 109), Baha'u'llah instructs

every believer to write a will. He elsewhere clearly states

that the individual has full jurisdiction over his property

and is free to determine the manner in which his or her

estate is to be divided and to designate, in the will, those,

whether Baha'i or non-Baha'i, who should inherit (Q and A

69). In this connection, a letter written on behalf of Shoghi

Effendi explains that:

 

...even though a Baha'i is permitted in his will to

dispose of his wealth in the way he wishes, yet he is

morally and conscientiously bound to always bear in

mind, while writing his will, the necessity of his

upholding the principle of Baha'u'llah regarding the

social function of wealth, and the consequent necessity of

avoiding its over-accumulation and concentration in a

few individuals or groups of individuals.

 

This verse of the Aqdas introduces a lengthy passage in

which Baha'u'llah elaborates the Baha'i law of inheritance. <p183>

In reading this passage one should bear in mind that the law

is formulated with the presumption that the deceased is a

man; its provisions apply, mutatis mutandis, when the

deceased is a woman.

The system of inheritance which provides for distribution

of the deceased's estate among seven categories of heirs

(children, spouse, father, mother, brothers, sisters, and

teachers) is based on the provisions set out by the Bab in the

Bayan. The major features of the Baha'i laws of inheritance

in the case of intestacy are:

 

1. If the deceased is a father and his estate includes a

personal residence, such residence passes to the eldest

son (Q and A 34).

 

2. If the deceased has no male descendants, two thirds of

the residence pass to his female descendants and the

remaining third passes to the House of Justice (Q and A

41, 72). See note 42 concerning the levels of the

institution of the House of Justice to which this law

applies. (See also note 44.)

 

3. The remainder of the estate is divided among the

seven categories of heirs. For details of the number of

shares to be received by each group, see Questions and

Answers, number 5, and Synopsis and Codification,

section IV.C.3.a.

 

4. In case there is more than one heir in any category the

share allotted to that class should be divided between

them equally, be they male or female.

 

5. In cases where there is no issue, the share of the

children reverts to the House of Justice (Q and A 7, 41).

 

6. Should one leave offspring, but either part or all of the

other categories of heirs be non-existent, two thirds of

their shares revert to the offspring and one third to the

House of Justice (Q and A 7).

 

7. Should none of the specified categories exist, two <p184>

 

thirds of the estate revert to the nephews and nieces of

the deceased. If these do not exist, the same shares

revert to the aunts and uncles; lacking these, to their

sons and daughters. In any case the remaining third

reverts to the House of Justice.

 

8. Should one leave none of the aforementioned heirs,

the entire estate reverts to the House of Justice.

 

9. Baha'u'llah states that non-Baha'is have no right to

inherit from their Baha'i parents or relatives (Q and A

34). Shoghi Effendi in a letter written on his behalf

indicates that this restriction applies "only to such

cases when a Baha'i dies without leaving a will and

when, therefore, his property will have to be divided

in accordance with the rules set forth in the Aqdas.

Otherwise, a Baha'i is free to bequeath his property to

any person, irrespective of religion, provided however

he leaves a will, specifying his wishes." It is always

possible, therefore, for a Baha'i to provide for his or

her non-Baha'i partner, children or relatives by

leaving a will.

 

Additional details of the laws of inheritance are

summarized in the Synopsis and Codification, section

IV.C.3.a.-o.

 

39. to the brothers, five parts ... to the sisters, four

parts # 20

 

Questions and Answers amplifies the provisions of the law as

it relates to the shares of the inheritance allocated to the

brothers and sisters of the deceased. If the brother or sister is

from the same father as the deceased, he or she will inherit

his or her full allotted share. If, however, the brother or

sister is from another father he or she will inherit only two

thirds of the allotted share, the remaining one third

reverting to the House of Justice (Q and A 6). Further, in the

case where the deceased has full brothers or full sisters <p185>

among his heirs, half-brothers and half-sisters from the

mother's side do not inherit (Q and A 53). The half-brothers

and half-sisters will, of course, be due to receive inheritance

from their own father's estate.

 

40. the teachers # 20

 

In a Tablet, Abdu'l-Baha compares teachers who are

involved with the spiritual education of the child to the

"spiritual father" who "endoweth his child with everlasting life".

He explains that this is the reason that "teachers are listed

among the heirs" in the "Law of God".

Baha'u'llah specifies the conditions under which the

teacher inherits and the share he or she receives (Q and A 33).

 

41. When We heard the clamour of the children as yet

unborn, We doubled their share and decreased those

of the rest. # 20

 

In the Bab's laws of inheritance the children of the deceased

were allotted nine parts consisting of 540 shares. This

allocation constituted less than a quarter of the whole estate.

Baha'u'llah doubled their portion to 1,080 shares and

reduced those allotted to the other six categories of heirs.

He also outlines the precise intention of this verse and its

implications for the distribution of the inheritance (Q and A

5).

 

42. the House of Justice # 21

 

In referring to the House of Justice in the Kitab-i-Aqdas,

Baha'u'llah does not always explicitly distinguish between

the Universal House of Justice and the Local House of

Justice, both of which institutions are ordained in that

Book. He usually refers simply to "the House of Justice",

leaving open for later clarification the level or levels of the

whole institution to which each law would apply.

In a Tablet enumerating the revenues of the local

treasury, Abdu'l-Baha includes those inheritances for which <p186>

there are no heirs, thus indicating that the House of Justice

referred to in these passages of the Aqdas relating to

inheritance is the local one.

 

43. Should the deceased leave offspring, but none of

the other categories of heirs # 22

 

Baha'u'llah clarifies that "This ruling hath both general and

specific application, which is to say that whenever any category of

this latter class of heirs is absent, two thirds of their inheritance

pass to the offspring and the remaining third to the House of

Justice" (Q and A 7).

 

44. We have assigned the residence and personal clothing

of the deceased to the male, not female, offspring,

nor to the other heirs. # 25

 

In a Tablet, Abdu'l-Baha indicates that the residence and

personal clothing of a deceased man remain in the male line.

They pass to the eldest son and in the absence of the eldest

son, they pass to the second-eldest son, and so on. He

explains that this provision is an expression of the law of

primogeniture, which has invariably been upheld by the

Law of God. In a Tablet to a follower of the Faith in Persia

He wrote: "In all the Divine Dispensations the eldest son hath

been given extraordinary distinctions. Even the station of

prophethood hath been his birthright." With the distinctions

given to the eldest son, however, go concomitant duties.

For example, he has the moral responsibility, for the sake of

God, to care for his mother and also to consider the needs of

the other heirs.

Baha'u'llah clarifies various aspects of this part of the

law of inheritance. He specifies that if there be more than

one residence, the principal and most important one passes

to the male offspring. The remaining residences will,

together with the other possessions of the deceased, have to

be divided among the heirs (Q and A 34), and He indicates

that in the absence of male offspring, two thirds of the <p187>

principal residence and the personal clothing of the deceased

father will revert to the female issue and one third to the

House of Justice (Q and A 72). Further, when the deceased is a

woman, Baha'u'llah states that all her used clothing is to be

equally divided amongst her daughters. Her unworn

clothing, jewels and property must be divided among her

heirs, as well as her used clothing if she leaves no daughter

(Q and A 37).

 

45. Should the son of the deceased have passed away

in the days of his father and have left children, they

will inherit their father's share # 26

 

This aspect of the law applies only in the case of the son who

predeceases his father or mother. If the daughter of the

deceased be dead and leave issue, her share will have to be

divided according to the seven categories specified in the

Most Holy Book (Q and A 54).

 

46. If the deceased should leave children who are

under age, their share of the inheritance must be

entrusted to a reliable individual # 27

 

The word "amin", translated in this paragraph as "reliable

individual" and "trustee", conveys in Arabic a wide range of

meanings connected principally with the idea of trustworthiness,

but signifying also such qualities as reliability,

loyalty, faithfulness, uprightness, honesty, and so forth.

Used in legal parlance "amin" denotes, among other things,

a trustee, guarantor, custodian, guardian, and keeper.

 

47. Division of the estate should take place only after

the Huququ'llah hath been paid, any debts have been

settled, the expenses of the funeral and burial

defrayed # 28

 

Baha'u'llah specifies that the order of precedence for

payment of these expenses is first the funeral and burial

expenses, then the debts of the deceased, then the <p188>

Huququ'llah (see note 125) (Q and A 9). He also specifies that

when applying the estate to these, payment must first be

made out of the residue of the estate and then, if this is

insufficient, out of the residence and personal clothing of

the deceased (Q and A 80).

 

48. This is that hidden knowledge which shall never

change, since its beginning is with nine # 29

 

In the Arabic Bayan the Bab described His inheritance law

as being "in accordance with a hidden knowledge in the Book of

God--a knowledge that shall never change or be replaced". He

also stated that the numbers by which the division of the

inheritance was expressed had been invested with a

significance intended to aid in the recognition of Him

Whom God will make manifest.

The "nine" mentioned here is represented in the Arabic

text by the letter "Ta", which is its equivalent in the abjad

notation (see Glossary). It is the first element of the Bab's

division of inheritance, where He designates "nine parts" as

the share of the children. The significance of nine lies in its

being the numerical equivalent of the Greatest Name

"Baha", alluded to in the next part of this verse as "the

concealed and manifest, the inviolable and unapproachably exalted

Name". (See also note 33.)

 

49. The Lord hath ordained that in every city a House

of Justice be established # 30

 

The institution of the House of Justice consists of elected

councils which operate at the local, national and international

levels of society. Baha'u'llah ordains both the

Universal House of Justice and the Local Houses of Justice

in the Kitab-i-Aqdas. Abdu'l-Baha, in His Will and

Testament, provides for the Secondary (National or

Regional) Houses of Justice and outlines the method to be

pursued for the election of the Universal House of Justice.

In the verse cited above, the reference is to the Local <p189>

House of Justice, an institution which is to be elected in a

locality whenever there are nine or more resident adult

Baha'is. For this purpose, the definition of adult was

temporarily fixed at the age of 21 years by the Guardian,

who indicated it was open to change by the Universal House

of Justice in the future.

Local and Secondary Houses of Justice are, for the

present, known as Local Spiritual Assemblies and National

Spiritual Assemblies. Shoghi Effendi has indicated that this

is a "temporary appellation" which,

 

...as the position and aims of the Baha'i Faith are

better understood and more fully recognized, will

gradually be superseded by the permanent and more

appropriate designation of House of Justice. Not only

will the present-day Spiritual Assemblies be styled

differently in future, but they will be enabled also to add

to their present functions those powers, duties, and

prerogatives necessitated by the recognition of the Faith

of Baha'u'llah, not merely as one of the recognized

religious systems of the world, but as the State Religion

of an independent and Sovereign Power.

 

50. the number of Baha # 30

 

The abjad numerical equivalent of "Baha" is nine. The

Universal House of Justice and the National and Local

Spiritual Assemblies currently have nine members each, the

minimum number prescribed by Baha'u'llah.

 

51. It behoveth them to be the trusted ones of the

Merciful among men # 30

 

The general powers and duties of the Universal House of

Justice, the National Spiritual Assemblies and the Local

Spiritual Assemblies and the qualifications for membership

are set forth in the Writings of Baha'u'llah and Abdu'l-Baha,

in the letters of Shoghi Effendi, and in the

elucidations of the Universal House of Justice. The major <p190>

functions of these institutions are outlined in the Constitution

of the Universal House of Justice, and in those of the

National and Local Spiritual Assemblies.

 

52. take counsel together # 30

 

Baha'u'llah has established consultation as one of the

fundamental principles of His Faith and has exhorted the

believers to "take counsel together in all matters". He describes

consultation as "the lamp of guidance which leadeth the way"

and as "the bestower of understanding". Shoghi Effendi states

that the "principle of consultation ... constitutes one of

the basic laws" of the Baha'i Administrative Order.

In Questions and Answers, number 99, Baha'u'llah

outlines an approach to consultation and stresses the

importance of achieving unanimity in decision-making,

failing which the majority decision must prevail. The

Universal House of Justice has clarified that this guidance

concerning consultation was revealed before Spiritual

Assemblies had been established and was in answer to a

question about the Baha'i teachings on consultation. The

House of Justice affirms that the emergence of Spiritual

Assemblies, to which the friends may always turn for

assistance, in no way prohibits them from following the

procedure outlined in Questions and Answers. This

approach may be used by the friends, should they wish,

when they desire to consult on their personal problems.

 

53. Build ye houses of worship throughout the

lands # 31

 

The Baha'i House of Worship is dedicated to the praise of

God. The House of Worship forms the central edifice of the

Mashriqu'l-Adhkar (the Dawning-place of the Praise of

God), a complex which, as it unfolds in the future, will

comprise in addition to the House of Worship a number of

dependencies dedicated to social, humanitarian, educational,

and scientific pursuits. Abdu'l-Baha describes the <p191>

Mashriqu'l-Adhkar as "one of the most vital institutions in the

world", and Shoghi Effendi indicates that it exemplifies in

tangible form the integration of "Baha'i worship and

service". Anticipating the future development of this

institution, Shoghi Effendi envisages that the House of

Worship and its dependencies "shall afford relief to the

suffering, sustenance to the poor, shelter to the wayfarer,

solace to the bereaved, and education to the ignorant". In

the future, Baha'i Houses of Worship will be constructed in

every town and village.

 

54. The Lord hath ordained that those of you who are

able shall make pilgrimage to the sacred House # 32

 

Two sacred Houses are covered by this ordinance, the House

of the Bab in Shiraz and the House of Baha'u'llah in

Baghdad. Baha'u'llah has specified that pilgrimage to either

of these two Houses fulfils the requirement of this passage

(Q and A 25, 29). In two separate Tablets, known as Suriy-i-Hajj

(Q and A 10), Baha'u'llah has prescribed specific rites for

each of these pilgrimages. In this sense, the performance of

a pilgrimage is more than simply visiting these two Houses.

After the passing of Baha'u'llah, Abdu'l-Baha designated

the Shrine of Baha'u'llah at Bahji as a place of

pilgrimage. In a Tablet, He indicates that the "Most Holy

Shrine, the Blessed House in Baghdad and the venerated House of

the Bab in Shiraz" are "consecrated to pilgrimage", and that it is

"obligatory" to visit these places "if one can afford it and is able

to do so, and if no obstacle stands in one's way". No rites have

been prescribed for pilgrimage to the Most Holy Shrine.

 

55. and from this He hath exempted women as a

mercy on His part # 32

 

In the Bayan, the Bab enjoined the ordinance of pilgrimage

once in a lifetime upon those of His followers who were

financially able to undertake the journey. He stated that the

obligation was not binding on women in order to spare

them the rigours of travel. <p192>

 

Baha'u'llah likewise exempts women from His pilgrimage

requirements. The Universal House of Justice has

clarified that this exemption is not a prohibition, and that

women are free to perform the pilgrimage.

 

56. to engage in some occupation # 33

 

It is obligatory for men and women to engage in a trade or

profession. Baha'u'llah exalts "engagement in such work" to

the "rank of worship" of God. The spiritual and practical

significance of this law, and the mutual responsibility of the

individual and society for its implementation are explained

in a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi:

 

With reference to Baha'u'llah's command concerning

the engagement of the believers in some sort of

profession: the Teachings are most emphatic on this

matter, particularly the statement in the Aqdas to this

effect which makes it quite clear that idle people who

lack the desire to work can have no place in the new

World Order. As a corollary of this principle, Baha'u'llah

further states that mendicity should not only be

discouraged but entirely wiped out from the face of

society. It is the duty of those who are in charge of the

organization of society to give every individual the

opportunity of acquiring the necessary talent in some

kind of profession, and also the means of utilizing such a

talent, both for its own sake and for the sake of earning

the means of his livelihood. Every individual, no matter

how handicapped and limited he may be, is under the

obligation of engaging in some work or profession, for

work, especially when performed in the spirit of service,

is according to Baha'u'llah a form of worship. It has not

only a utilitarian purpose, but has a value in itself,

because it draws us nearer to God, and enables us to

better grasp His purpose for us in this world. It is

obvious, therefore, that the inheritance of wealth cannot

make anyone immune from daily work. <p193>

 

In one of His Tablets, Abdu'l-Baha states that "if a

person is incapable of earning a living, is stricken by dire poverty or

becometh helpless, then it is incumbent on the wealthy or the

Deputies to provide him with a monthly allowance for his

subsistence.... By 'Deputies' is meant the representatives of the

people, that is to say the members of the House of Justice." (See also

note 162 on mendicancy.)

In response to a question concerning whether Baha'u'llah's

injunction requires a wife and mother, as well as her

husband, to work for a livelihood, the Universal House of

Justice has explained that Baha'u'llah's directive is for the

friends to be engaged in an occupation which will profit

themselves and others, and that homemaking is a highly

honourable and responsible work of fundamental importance

to society.

Concerning the retirement from work for individuals

who have reached a certain age, Shoghi Effendi in a letter

written on his behalf stated that "this is a matter on which

the International House of Justice will have to legislate as

there are no provisions in the Aqdas concerning it".

 

57. The kissing of hands hath been forbidden in the

Book. # 34

 

In a number of earlier religious Dispensations and in certain

cultures the kissing of the hand of a religious figure or of a

prominent person was expected as a mark of reverence and

deference to such persons and as a token of submission to

their authority. Baha'u'llah prohibits the kissing of hands

and, in His Tablets, He also condemns such practices as

prostrating oneself before another person and other forms of

behaviour that abase one individual in relation to another.

(See note 58.)

 

58. To none is it permitted to seek absolution from

another soul # 34

 

Baha'u'llah prohibits confession to, and seeking absolution

of one's sins from, a human being. Instead one should beg <p194>

forgiveness from God. In the Tablet of Bisharat, He states

that "such confession before people results in one's humiliation and

abasement", and He affirms that God "wisheth not the

humiliation of His servants".

Shoghi Effendi sets the prohibition into context. His

secretary has written on his behalf that we

 

...are forbidden to confess to any person, as do the

Catholics to their priests, our sins and shortcomings, or

to do so in public, as some religious sects do. However, if

we spontaneously desire to acknowledge we have been

wrong in something, or that we have some fault of

character, and ask another person's forgiveness or pardon,

we are quite free to do so.

 

The Universal House of Justice has also clarified that

Baha'u'llah's prohibition concerning the confession of sins

does not prevent an individual from admitting transgressions

in the course of consultations held under the aegis of

Baha'i institutions. Likewise, it does not preclude the

possibility of seeking advice from a close friend or of a

professional counsellor regarding such matters.

 

59. Amongst the people is he who seateth himself

amid the sandals by the door whilst coveting in his

heart the seat of honour. # 36

 

Traditionally in the East it has been the practice to remove

sandals and shoes before entering a gathering. The part of a

room farthest from the entrance is regarded as the head of

the room and a place of honour where the most prominent

among those present are seated. Others sit in descending

order towards the door, by which the shoes and sandals have

been left and where the most lowly would sit.

 

60. And among the people is he who layeth claim to

inner knowledge # 36

 

This is a reference to people who claim access to esoteric

knowledge and whose attachment to such knowledge veils <p195>

them from the Revelation of the Manifestation of God.

Elsewhere Baha'u'llah affirms: "They that are the worshippers of

the idol which their imaginations have carved, and who call it

Inner Reality, such men are in truth accounted among the

heathen."

 

61. How many a man hath secluded himself in the

climes of India, denied himself the things that God

hath decreed as lawful, imposed upon himself austerities

and mortifications # 36

 

These verses constitute the prohibition of monasticism and

asceticism. See the Synopsis and Codification, section IV.D.

1.y.iii.-iv. In the Words of Paradise Baha'u'llah amplifies

these provisions. He states: "Living in seclusion or practising

asceticism is not acceptable in the presence of God," and He calls

upon those involved to "observe that which will cause joy and

radiance". He instructs those who have taken up "their abodes

in the caves of the mountains" or who have "repaired to

graveyards at night" to abandon these practices, and He

enjoins them not to deprive themselves of the "bounties" of

this world which have been created by God for humankind.

And in the Tablet of Bisharat, while acknowledging the

"pious deeds" of monks and priests, Baha'u'llah calls upon

them to "give up the life of seclusion and direct their steps towards

the open world and busy themselves with that which will profit

themselves and others". He also grants them leave "to enter into

wedlock that they may bring forth one who will make mention of

God".

 

62. Whoso layeth claim to a Revelation direct from

God, ere the expiration of a full thousand years # 37

 

The Dispensation of Baha'u'llah will last until the coming

of the next Manifestation of God, Whose advent will not

take place before at least "a full thousand years" will have

elapsed. Baha'u'llah cautions against ascribing to "this verse"

anything other than its "obvious meaning", and in one of His <p196>

Tablets, He specifies that "each year" of this thousand year

period consists of "twelve months according to the Qur'an, and of

nineteen months of nineteen days each, according to the Bayan".

The intimation of His Revelation to Baha'u'llah in the

Siyah-Chal of Tihran, in October 1852, marks the birth of

His Prophetic Mission and hence the commencement of the

one thousand years or more that must elapse before the

appearance of the next Manifestation of God.

 

63. This is that of which We gave you forewarning

when We were dwelling in Iraq, then later while in

the Land of Mystery, and now from this Resplendent

Spot. # 37

 

The "Land of Mystery" refers to Adrianople, and "this

Resplendent Spot" is a reference to Akka.

 

64. Amongst the people is he whose learning hath

made him proud ... who, when he heareth the tread

of sandals following behind him, waxeth greater in his

own esteem # 41

 

In the East, the practice has been for followers of a religious

leader, out of deference, to walk a pace or two behind him.

 

65. Nimrod # 41

 

The Nimrod referred to in this verse is, in both Jewish and

Islamic traditions, a King who persecuted Abraham and

whose name became symbolic of great pride.

 

66. Aghsan # 42

 

"Aghsan" (plural of Ghusn) is the Arabic word for

"Branches". This term is used by Baha'u'llah to designate

His male descendants. It has particular implications not

only for the disposition of endowments but also for the

succession of authority following the passing of Baha'u'llah

(see note 145) and of Abdu'l-Baha. Baha'u'llah, in the Book

of His Covenant, appointed Abdu'l-Baha, His eldest son,

as the Centre of His Covenant and the Head of the Faith.

Abdu'l-Baha, in His Will and Testament, appointed <p197>

Shoghi Effendi, His eldest grandson, as the Guardian and

Head of the Faith.

This passage of the Aqdas, therefore, anticipates the

succession of chosen Aghsan and thus the institution of the

Guardianship and envisages the possibility of a break in

their line. The passing of Shoghi Effendi in 1957 precipitated

the very situation provided for in this passage, in

that the line of Aghsan ended before the Universal House of

Justice had been established (see note 67).

 

67. revert to the people of Baha # 42

 

Baha'u'llah provides for the possibility that the line of

Aghsan would terminate prior to the establishment of the

Universal House of Justice. He designated that in such a

situation "endowments shall revert to the people of Baha". The

term "people of Baha" is used with a number of different

meanings in the Baha'i Writings. In this instance, they are

described as those "who speak not except by His leave and judge

not save in accordance with what God hath decreed in this

Tablet". Following the passing of Shoghi Effendi in 1957,

the Hands of the Cause of God directed the affairs of the

Cause until the election of the Universal House of Justice in

1963 (see note 183).

 

68. Shave not your heads # 44

 

In some religious traditions it is considered desirable to

shave one's head. The shaving of the head is forbidden by

Baha'u'llah, and He makes it clear that the provision

contained in His Suriy-i-Hajj requiring pilgrims to the

Holy House in Shiraz to shave their heads has been

superseded through this verse of the Kitab-i-Aqdas (Q and A

10).

 

69. it is not seemly to let the hair pass beyond the limit

of the ears # 44

 

Shoghi Effendi has made clear that, unlike the prohibition

on shaving the head, this law forbidding the growing of the <p198>

hair beyond the lobe of the ear pertains only to men. The

application of this law will require clarification by the

Universal House of Justice.

 

70. Exile and imprisonment are decreed for the

thief # 45

 

Baha'u'llah states that the determination of the degree of

penalty, in accordance with the seriousness of the offence,

rests with the House of Justice (Q and A 49). The punishments

for theft are intended for a future condition of society, when

they will be supplemented and applied by the Universal

House of Justice.

 

71. on the third offence, place ye a mark upon his

brow so that, thus identified, he may not be accepted

in the cities of God and His countries # 45

 

The mark to be placed on the thief's forehead serves the

purpose of warning people of his proclivities. All details

concerning the nature of the mark, how the mark is to be

applied, how long it must be worn, on what conditions it

may be removed, as well as the seriousness of various

degrees of theft have been left by Baha'u'llah for the

Universal House of Justice to determine when the law is

applied.

 

72. Whoso wisheth to make use of vessels of silver and

gold is at liberty to do so. # 46

 

In the Bayan the Bab allowed the use of gold and silver

utensils, thus abrogating the Islamic condemnation of their

use which stems not from an explicit injunction of the

Qur'an but from Muslim traditions. Baha'u'llah here

confirms the Bab's ruling.

 

73. Take heed lest, when partaking of food, ye plunge

your hands into the contents of bowls and

platters. # 46

 

This prohibition was defined by Shoghi Effendi as "plunging

one's hand in food". In many parts of the world it has <p199>

been customary to eat with the hands from a communal

bowl.

 

74. Adopt ye such usages as are most in keeping with

refinement. # 46

 

This is the first of several passages referring to the

importance of refinement and cleanliness. The original

Arabic word "latafah", rendered here as "refinement", has a

wide range of meanings with both spiritual and physical

implications, such as elegance, gracefulness, cleanliness,

civility, politeness, gentleness, delicacy and graciousness, as

well as being subtle, refined, sanctified and pure. In

accordance with the context of the various passages where it

occurs in the Kitab-i-Aqdas, it has been translated either as

"refinement" or "cleanliness".

 

75. He Who is the Dawning-place of God's Cause hath

no partner in the Most Great Infallibility. # 47

 

In the Tablet of Ishraqat, Baha'u'llah affirms that the Most

Great Infallibility is confined to the Manifestations of God.

Chapter 45 in Some Answered Questions is devoted to an

explanation by Abdu'l-Baha of this verse of the Aqdas. In

this chapter He stresses, among other things, the inseparability

of essential "infallibility" from the Manifestations of

God, and asserts that "whatever emanates from Them is identical

with the truth, and conformable to reality", that "They are not

under the shadow of the former laws", and "Whatever They say is

the word of God, and whatever They perform is an upright

action".

 

76. Unto every father hath been enjoined the instruction

of his son and daughter in the art of reading and

writing # 48

 

Abdu'l-Baha, in His Tablets, not only calls attention to the

responsibility of parents to educate all their children, but

He also clearly specifies that the "training and culture of

daughters is more necessary than that of sons", for girls will one <p200>

day be mothers, and mothers are the first educators of the

new generation. If it is not possible, therefore, for a family

to educate all the children, preference is to be accorded to

daughters since, through educated mothers, the benefits of

knowledge can be most effectively and rapidly diffused

throughout society.

 

77. God hath imposed a fine on every adulterer and

adulteress, to be paid to the House of Justice # 49

 

Although the term translated here as adultery refers, in its

broadest sense, to unlawful sexual intercourse between

either married or unmarried individuals (see note 36 for a

definition of the term), Abdu'l-Baha has specified that the

punishment here prescribed is for sexual intercourse

between persons who are unmarried. He indicates that it

remains for the Universal House of Justice to determine the

penalty for adultery committed by a married individual.

(See also Q and A 49.)

In one of His Tablets, Abdu'l-Baha refers to some of

the spiritual and social implications of the violation of the

laws of morality and, concerning the penalty here described,

He indicates that the aim of this law is to make clear to all

that such an action is shameful in the eyes of God and that,

in the event that the offence can be established and the fine

imposed, the principal purpose is the exposure of the

offenders--that they are shamed and disgraced in the eyes of

society. He affirms that such exposure is in itself the

greatest punishment.

The House of Justice referred to in this verse is

presumably the Local House of Justice, currently known as

the Local Spiritual Assembly.

 

78. nine mithqals of gold, to be doubled if they should

repeat the offence # 49

 

A mithqal is a unit of weight. The weight of the traditional

mithqal used in the Middle East is equivalent to 24 <p201>

nakhuds. However, the mithqal used by the Baha'is consists

of 19 nakhuds, "in accordance with the specification of the

Bayan" (Q and A 23). The weight of nine of these mithqals

equals 32.775 grammes or 1.05374 troy ounces.

In relation to the application of the fine, Baha'u'llah

clearly specifies that each succeeding fine is double the

preceding one (Q and A 23); thus the fine imposed increases in

geometrical progression. The imposition of this fine is

intended for a future condition of society, at which time the

law will be supplemented and applied by the Universal

House of Justice.

 

79. We have made it lawful for you to listen to music

and singing. # 51

 

Abdu'l-Baha has written that "Among certain nations of the

East, music was considered reprehensible". Though the Qur'an

contains no specific guidance on the subject, some Muslims

consider listening to music as unlawful, while others

tolerate music within certain bounds and subject to

particular conditions.

There are a number of passages in the Baha'i Writings

in praise of music. Abdu'l-Baha, for example, asserts that

"music, sung or played, is spiritual food for soul and heart".

 

80. O ye Men of Justice! # 52

 

It has been elucidated in the writings of Abdu'l-Baha and

Shoghi Effendi that, while the membership of the Universal

House of Justice is confined to men, both women and men

are eligible for election to Secondary and Local Houses of

Justice (currently designated as National and Local Spiritual

Assemblies).

 

81. The penalties for wounding or striking a person

depend upon the severity of the injury; for each degree

the Lord of Judgement hath prescribed a certain

indemnity. # 56

 

While Baha'u'llah specified that the extent of the penalty <p202>

depends upon "the severity of the injury", there is no record of

His having set out the details of the size of the indemnity

with regard to each degree of offence. The responsibility to

determine these devolves upon the Universal House of

Justice.

 

82. Verily, it is enjoined upon you to offer a feast, once

in every month # 57

 

This injunction has become the basis for the holding of

monthly Baha'i festivities and as such constitutes the

ordination of the Nineteen Day Feast. In the Arabic Bayan

the Bab called upon His followers to gather together once

every nineteen days to show hospitality and fellowship.

Baha'u'llah here confirms this and notes the unifying role of

such occasions.

Abdu'l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi after Him have

gradually unfolded the institutional significance of this

injunction. Abdu'l-Baha emphasized the importance of the

spiritual and devotional character of these gatherings.

Shoghi Effendi, besides further elaborating the devotional

and social aspects of the Feast, has developed the

administrative element of such gatherings and, in systematically

instituting the Feast, has provided for a period of

consultation on the affairs of the Baha'i community,

including the sharing of news and messages.

In answer to a question as to whether this injunction is

obligatory, Baha'u'llah stated it was not (Q and A 48). Shoghi

Effendi in a letter written on his behalf further comments:

 

Attendance at Nineteen Day Feasts is not obligatory

but very important, and every believer should consider it

a duty and privilege to be present on such occasions.

 

83. If ye should hunt with beasts or birds of prey,

invoke ye the Name of God when ye send them to

pursue their quarry; for then whatever they catch shall

be lawful unto you, even should ye find it to have

died. # 60 <p203>

 

By this law, Baha'u'llah greatly simplifies practices and

religious regulations of the past relating to hunting. He has

also stated that hunting with such weapons as bows and

arrows, guns, and the like, is included in this ruling, but

that the consumption of game if it is found dead in a trap or

a net is prohibited (Q and A 24).

 

84. hunt not to excess # 60

 

While hunting is not forbidden by Baha'u'llah, He warns

against excessive hunting. The Universal House of Justice

will, in due course, have to consider what constitutes an

excess in hunting.

 

85. He hath granted them no right to the property of

others. # 61

 

The injunction to show kindness to Baha'u'llah's kindred

does not give them a share in the property of others. This is

in contrast to Shi'ih Muslim practice, in which lineal

descendants of Muhammad are entitled to receive a share of

a certain tax.

 

86. Should anyone intentionally destroy a house by

fire, him also shall ye burn; should anyone deliberately

take another's life, him also shall ye put to death. # 62

 

The law of Baha'u'llah prescribes the death penalty for

murder and arson, with the alternative of life imprisonment

(see note 87).

In His Tablets Abdu'l-Baha explains the difference

between revenge and punishment. He affirms that individuals

do not have the right to take revenge, that revenge is

despised in the eyes of God, and that the motive for

punishment is not vengeance, but the imposition of a

penalty for the committed offence. In Some Answered

Questions, He confirms that it is the right of society to

impose punishments on criminals for the purpose of

protecting its members and defending its existence. <p204>

 

With regard to this provision, Shoghi Effendi in a

letter written on his behalf gives the following explanation:

 

In the Aqdas Baha'u'llah has given death as the penalty

for murder. However, He has permitted life imprisonment

as an alternative. Both practices would be in

accordance with His Laws. Some of us may not be able to

grasp the wisdom of this when it disagrees with our own

limited vision; but we must accept it, knowing His

Wisdom, His Mercy and His Justice are perfect and for

the salvation of the entire world. If a man were falsely

condemned to die, can we not believe Almighty God

would compensate him a thousandfold, in the next

world, for this human injustice? You cannot give up a

salutary law just because on rare occasions the innocent

may be punished.

 

The details of the Baha'i law of punishment for murder

and arson, a law designed for a future state of society, were

not specified by Baha'u'llah. The various details of the law,

such as degrees of offence, whether extenuating circumstances

are to be taken into account, and which of the two

prescribed punishments is to be the norm are left to the

Universal House of Justice to decide in light of prevailing

conditions when the law is to be in operation. The manner

in which the punishment is to be carried out is also left to

the Universal House of Justice to decide.

In relation to arson, this depends on what "house" is

burned. There is obviously a tremendous difference in the

degree of offence between the person who burns down an

empty warehouse and one who sets fire to a school full of

children.

 

87. Should ye condemn the arsonist and the murderer

to life imprisonment, it would be permissible according

to the provisions of the Book. # 62

 

Shoghi Effendi, in response to a question about this verse of

the Aqdas, affirmed that while capital punishment is <p205>

permitted, an alternative, "life imprisonment", has been

provided "whereby the rigours of such a condemnation can

be seriously mitigated". He states that "Baha'u'llah has

given us a choice and has, therefore, left us free to use our

own discretion within certain limitations imposed by His

law". In the absence of specific guidance concerning the

application of this aspect of Baha'i law, it remains for the

Universal House of Justice to legislate on the matter in the

future.

 

88. God hath prescribed matrimony unto you. # 63

 

Baha'u'llah, in one of His Tablets, states that God, in

establishing this law, has made marriage "a fortress for well-being

and salvation".

The Synopsis and Codification, section IV.C.1.a.-o.,

summarizes and synthesizes the provisions in the Kitab-i-Aqdas

and Questions and Answers concerning marriage and

the conditions under which it is permitted (Q and A 3, 13, 46,

50, 84, and 92), the law of betrothal (Q and A 43), the

payment of the dowry (Q and A 12, 26, 39, 47, 87, and 88),

the procedures to be adopted in the event of the prolonged

absence of a spouse (Q and A 4 and 27), and sundry other

circumstances (Q and A 12 and 47). (See also notes 89-99.)

 

89. Beware that ye take not unto yourselves more

wives than two. Whoso contenteth himself with

a single partner from among the maidservants

of God, both he and she shall live in tranquillity. # 63

 

While the text of the Kitab-i-Aqdas appears to permit

bigamy, Baha'u'llah counsels that tranquillity and contentment

derive from monogamy. In another Tablet, He

underlines the importance of the individual's acting in such

a way as to "bring comfort to himself and to his partner".

Abdu'l-Baha, the authorized Interpreter of the Baha'i

Writings, states that in the text of the Aqdas monogamy is

in effect enjoined. He elaborates this theme in a number of

Tablets, including the following: <p206>

 

Know thou that polygamy is not permitted under the law of

God, for contentment with one wife hath been clearly stipulated.

Taking a second wife is made dependent upon equity and justice

being upheld between the two wives, under all conditions.

However, observance of justice and equity towards two wives is

utterly impossible. The fact that bigamy has been made

dependent upon an impossible condition is clear proof of its

absolute prohibition. Therefore it is not permissible for a man to

have more than one wife.

 

Polygamy is a very ancient practice among the

majority of humanity. The introduction of monogamy has

been only gradually accomplished by the Manifestations of

God. Jesus, for example, did not prohibit polygamy, but

abolished divorce except in the case of fornication;

Muhammad limited the number of wives to four, but

making plurality of wives contingent on justice, and

reintroducing permission for divorce; Baha'u'llah, Who was

revealing His Teachings in the milieu of a Muslim society,

introduced the question of monogamy gradually in accordance

with the principles of wisdom and the progressive

unfoldment of His purpose. The fact that He left His

followers with an infallible Interpreter of His Writings

enabled Him to outwardly permit two wives in the Kitab-i-Aqdas

but uphold a condition that enabled Abdu'l-Baha to

elucidate later that the intention of the law was to enforce

monogamy.

 

90. he who would take into his service a maid may do

so with propriety # 63

 

Baha'u'llah states that a man may employ a maiden for

domestic service. This was not permissible under Shi'ih

Muslim practice unless the employer entered into a

marriage contract with her. Baha'u'llah emphasizes that the

"service" referred to in this verse is solely "such as is performed

by any other class of servants, be they young or old, in exchange for

wages" (Q and A 30). An employer has no sexual rights over his <p207>

maid. She is "free to choose a husband at whatever time she

pleaseth", for the purchase of women is forbidden (Q and A 30).

 

91. This is My bidding unto you; hold fast to it as an

assistance to yourselves. # 63

 

While marriage is enjoined in the Kitab-i-Aqdas, Baha'u'llah

clarifies that it is not obligatory (Q and A 46). Shoghi

Effendi, in a letter written on his behalf, also declared that

"marriage is by no means an obligation", and he affirmed

that "in the last resort, it is for the individual to decide

whether he wishes to lead a family life or live in a state of

celibacy". If a person has to wait a considerable period of

time before finding a spouse, or ultimately must remain

single, it does not mean that the individual is thereby

unable to fulfil his or her life's purpose, which is

fundamentally spiritual.

 

92. We have conditioned it ... upon the permission

of their parents # 65

 

In a letter written on his behalf, Shoghi Effendi has

commented on this provision of the law:

 

Baha'u'llah has clearly stated the consent of all living

parents is required for a Baha'i marriage. This applies

whether the parents are Baha'is or non-Baha'is, divorced

for years or not. This great law He has laid down to

strengthen the social fabric, to knit closer the ties of the

home, to place a certain gratitude and respect in the

hearts of the children for those who have given them life

and sent their souls out on the eternal journey towards

their Creator.

 

93. No marriage may be contracted without payment

of a dowry # 66

 

The Synopsis and Codification, section IV.C.1.j.i.-v.,

summarizes the main provisions concerning the dowry.

These provisions have their antecedents in the Bayan. <p208>

 

The dowry is to be paid by the bridegroom to the

bride. It is fixed at 19 mithqals of pure gold for city-dwellers,

and 19 mithqals of silver for village-dwellers (see

note 94). Baha'u'llah indicates that, if, at the time of the

wedding, the bridegroom is unable to pay the dowry in full,

it is permissible for him to issue a promissory note to the

bride (Q and A 39).

With the Revelation of Baha'u'llah many familiar

concepts, customs and institutions are redefined and take on

new meaning. One of these is the dowry. The institution of

dowry is a very ancient practice in many cultures and takes

many forms. In some countries it is a payment made by the

parents of the bride to the bridegroom; in others it is a

payment made by the bridegroom to the parents of the

bride, called a "bride-price". In both such cases the amount

is often quite considerable. The law of Baha'u'llah abolishes

all such variants and converts the dowry into a symbolic act

whereby the bridegroom presents a gift of a certain limited

value to the bride.

 

94. for city-dwellers at nineteen mithqals of pure gold,

and for village-dwellers at the same amount in

silver # 66

 

Baha'u'llah specifies that the criterion for determining the

dowry payment is the location of the permanent residence of

the bridegroom, not of the bride (Q and A 87, 88).

 

95. Whoso wisheth to increase this sum, it is forbidden

him to exceed the limit of ninety-five mithqals...

If he content himself, however, with a payment of the

lowest level, it shall be better for him according to the

Book. # 66

 

In answer to a question about the dowry, Baha'u'llah stated:

 

Whatever is revealed in the Bayan, in respect to those residing in

cities and villages, is approved and should be carried out.

However, in the Kitab-i-Aqdas mention is made of the lowest <p209>

 

level. The intention is nineteen mithqals of silver, specified in the

Bayan for village-dwellers. This is more pleasing unto God,

provided the two parties agree. The purpose is to promote the

comfort of all, and to bring about concord and union among the

people. Therefore, the greater the consideration shown in these

matters the better it will be... The people of Baha must

associate and deal with each other with the utmost love and

sincerity. They should be mindful of the interests of all,

especially the friends of God.

 

Abdu'l-Baha, in one of His Tablets, summarized some

of the provisions for determining the level of the dowry.

The unit of payment mentioned in the extract, cited below,

is the "vahid". One vahid is equivalent to nineteen

mithqals. He stated:

 

City-dwellers must pay in gold and village-dwellers in silver. It

dependeth on the financial means at the disposal of the groom. If

he is poor, he payeth one vahid; if of modest means, he payeth

two vahids; if well-to-do, three vahids; if wealthy, four vahids;

and if very rich, he giveth five vahids. It is, in truth, a matter

for agreement between the bridegroom, the bride, and their

parents. Whatever agreement is reached should be carried out.

 

In this same Tablet, Abdu'l-Baha encouraged the believers

to refer questions concerning the application of this law to

the Universal House of Justice, which has "the authority to

legislate". He stressed that "it is this body which will enact laws

and legislate upon secondary matters which are not explicit in the

Holy Text".

 

96. should any one of His servants intend to travel, he

must fix for his wife a time when he will return

home # 67

 

If the husband leaves without informing his wife of the date

of his return, and no news of him reaches her and all trace of

him is lost, Baha'u'llah has stated that, should the husband

have been aware of the law prescribed in the Kitab-i-Aqdas, <p210>

the wife may remarry after waiting a full year. If, however,

the husband was unaware of the law, the wife must wait

until news of her husband reaches her (Q and A 4).

 

97. it behoveth her to wait for a period of nine

months, after which there is no impediment to her

taking another husband # 67

 

In the event of the husband's failure, either to return at the

end of the specified period of time or to notify his wife of a

delay, the wife must wait nine months, after which she is

free to remarry, though it is preferable for her to wait longer

(see note 147 for the Baha'i calendar).

Baha'u'llah states that, in such circumstances, should

news reach the wife of "her husband's death or murder", she

must also wait nine months, prior to remarrying (Q and A 27).

Abdu'l-Baha, in a Tablet, has further clarified that the nine

months' waiting period following news of the husband's

death applies only if the husband had been away at the time

of his death, and not if he dies while at home.

 

98. she should choose the course that is praiseworthy # 67

 

Baha'u'llah defines "the course that is praiseworthy" as "the

exercise of patience" (Q and A 4).

 

99. two just witnesses # 67

 

Baha'u'llah sets out "the criterion of justness" in relation to

witnesses as "a good reputation among the people". He states

that it is not necessary that the witnesses should be Baha'is

since "The testimony of all God's servants, of whatever faith or

creed, is acceptable before His Throne" (Q and A 79).

 

100. Should resentment or antipathy arise between

husband and wife, he is not to divorce her but to bide

in patience throughout the course of one whole

year # 68

 

Divorce is strongly condemned in the Baha'i Teachings. If, <p211>

however, antipathy or resentment develop between the

marriage partners, divorce is permissible after the lapse of

one full year. During this year of patience, the husband is

obliged to provide for the financial support of his wife and

children, and the couple is urged to strive to reconcile their

differences. Shoghi Effendi affirms that both the husband

and wife "have equal right to ask for divorce" whenever

either partner "feels it absolutely essential to do so".

In Questions and Answers, Baha'u'llah elaborates a

number of issues concerning the year of patience, its

observance (Q and A 12), establishing the date of its beginning

(Q and A 19 and 40), the conditions for reconciliation (Q and A

38), and the role of witnesses and the Local House of Justice

(Q and A 73 and 98). In relation to the witnesses, the

Universal House of Justice has clarified that in these days

the duties of the witnesses in cases of divorce are performed

by the Spiritual Assemblies.

The detailed provisions of the Baha'i laws on divorce

are summarized in the Synopsis and Codification, section

IV.C.2.a.-i.

 

101. The Lord hath prohibited ... the practice to

which ye formerly had recourse when thrice ye had

divorced a woman. # 68

 

This relates to a law of Islam set out in the Qur'an which

decreed that under certain conditions a man could not

remarry his divorced wife unless she had married and been

divorced by another man. Baha'u'llah affirms that this is the

practice which has been prohibited in the Kitab-i-Aqdas

(Q and A 31).

 

102. He who hath divorced his wife may choose, upon

the passing of each month, to remarry her when there

is mutual affection and consent, so long as she hath not

taken another husband ... unless, clearly, her circumstances

change. # 68

 

Shoghi Effendi states, in a letter written on his behalf, that <p212>

the intention of "the passing of each month" is not to

impose a limitation, and that it is possible for a divorced

couple to remarry at any time after their divorce, so long as

neither party is currently married to another person.

 

103. semen is not unclean # 74

 

In a number of religious traditions and in Shi'ih Muslim

practice semen has been declared ritually unclean. Baha'u'llah

has here dispelled this concept. See also note 106

below.

 

104. Cleave ye unto the cord of refinement # 74

 

Abdu'l-Baha refers to the effect of "purity and holiness,

cleanliness and refinement" on the exaltation of "the human

condition" and "the development of man's inner reality". He

states: "The fact of having a pure and spotless body exercises an

influence upon the spirit of man." (See also note 74.)

 

105. Wash ye every soiled thing with water that hath

undergone no alteration in any one of the three

respects # 74

 

The "three respects" referred to in this verse are changes in the

colour, taste or smell of the water. Baha'u'llah provides

additional guidance concerning pure water and the point at

which it is considered unsuitable for use (Q and A 91).

 

106. God hath ... abolished the concept of "uncleanness",

whereby divers things and peoples have been

held to be impure. # 75

 

The concept of ritual "uncleanness", as understood and

practised in some tribal societies and in the religious

communities of certain earlier Dispensations, has been

abolished by Baha'u'llah. He states that through His

Revelation "all created things were immersed in the sea of

purification". (See also notes 12, 20, and 103.)

 

107. first day of Ridvan # 75

 

This is a reference to the arrival of Baha'u'llah and His

companions in the Najibiyyih Garden outside the city of <p213>

Baghdad, subsequently referred to by the Baha'is as the

Garden of Ridvan. This event, which took place thirty-one

days after Naw-Ruz, in April 1863, signalized the

commencement of the period during which Baha'u'llah

declared His Mission to His companions. In a Tablet, He

refers to His Declaration as "the Day of supreme felicity" and

He describes the Garden of Ridvan as "the Spot from which He

shed upon the whole of creation the splendours of His Name, the

All-Merciful". Baha'u'llah spent twelve days in this Garden

prior to departing for Istanbul, the place to which He had

been banished.

The Declaration of Baha'u'llah is celebrated annually

by the twelve-day Ridvan Festival, described by Shoghi

Effendi as "the holiest and most significant of all Baha'i

festivals" (see notes 138 and 140).

 

108. the Bayan # 77

 

The Bayan, the Mother Book of the Babi Dispensation,

is the title given by the Bab to His Book of Laws, and it is

also applied to the entire body of His Writings. The Persian

Bayan is the major doctrinal work and principal repository

of the laws ordained by the Bab. The Arabic Bayan is

parallel in content but smaller and less weighty. When

describing the Persian Bayan in God Passes By Shoghi

Effendi indicated that it should be regarded "primarily

as a eulogy of the Promised One rather than as a code of

laws and ordinances designed to be a permanent guide to

future generations".

Abdu'l-Baha has written: "The Bayan hath been

superseded by the Kitab-i-Aqdas, except in respect of such laws as

have been confirmed and mentioned in the Kitab-i-Aqdas."

 

109. the destruction of books # 77

 

In the Tablet of Ishraqat Baha'u'llah, referring to the fact

that the Bab had made the laws of the Bayan subject to His

sanction, states that He put some of the Bab's laws into

effect "by embodying them in the Kitab-i-Aqdas in different

words", while others He set aside. <p214>

 

With regard to the destruction of books, the Bayan

commanded the Bab's followers to destroy all books except

those that were written in vindication of the Cause and

Religion of God. Baha'u'llah abrogates this specific law of

the Bayan.

As to the nature and severity of the laws of the Bayan,

Shoghi Effendi in a letter written on his behalf provides the

following comment:

 

The severe laws and injunctions revealed by the Bab

can be properly appreciated and understood only when

interpreted in the light of His own statements regarding

the nature, purpose and character of His own Dispensation.

As these statements clearly reveal, the Babi

Dispensation was essentially in the nature of a religious

and indeed social revolution, and its duration had

therefore to be short, but full of tragic events, of

sweeping and drastic reforms. Those drastic measures

enforced by the Bab and His followers were taken with

the view of undermining the very foundations of Shi'ih

orthodoxy, and thus paving the way for the coming of

Baha'u'llah. To assert the independence of the new

Dispensation, and to prepare also the ground for the

approaching Revelation of Baha'u'llah, the Bab had

therefore to reveal very severe laws, even though most of

them were never enforced. But the mere fact that He

revealed them was in itself a proof of the independent

character of His Dispensation and was sufficient to create

such widespread agitation, and excite such opposition on

the part of the clergy that led them to cause His eventual

martyrdom.

 

110. We have permitted you to read such sciences as

are profitable unto you, not such as end in idle

disputation # 77

 

The Baha'i Writings enjoin the acquisition of knowledge

and the study of the arts and sciences. Baha'is are <p215>

admonished to respect people of learning and accomplishment,

and are warned against the pursuit of studies that are

productive only of futile wrangling.

In His Tablets Baha'u'llah counsels the believers to

study such sciences and arts as are "useful" and would

further "the progress and advancement" of society, and He

cautions against sciences which "begin with words and end

with words", the pursuit of which leads to "idle disputation".

Shoghi Effendi, in a letter written on his behalf, likened

sciences that "begin with words and end with words" to

"fruitless excursions into metaphysical hair-splittings",

and, in another letter, he explained that what Baha'u'llah

primarily intended by such "sciences" are "those theological

treatises and commentaries that encumber the human mind

rather than help it to attain the truth".

 

111. He Who held converse with God # 80

 

This is a traditional Jewish and Islamic title of Moses.

Baha'u'llah states that with the coming of His Revelation

"human ears have been privileged to hear what He Who conversed

with God heard upon Sinai".

 

112. Sinai # 80

 

The mountain where the Law was revealed by God to

Moses.

 

113. the Spirit of God # 80

 

This is one of the titles used in the Islamic and Baha'i

Writings to designate Jesus Christ.

 

114. Carmel ... Zion # 80

 

Carmel, the "Vineyard of God", is the mountain in the

Holy Land where the Shrine of the Bab and the seat of the

world administrative centre of the Faith are situated.

Zion is a hill in Jerusalem, the traditional site of the

tomb of King David, and is symbolic of Jerusalem as a Holy

City. <p216>

 

115. the Crimson Ark # 84

 

The "Crimson Ark" refers to the Cause of Baha'u'llah. His

followers are designated as the "companions of the Crimson

Ark", lauded by the Bab in the Qayyumu'l-Asma'.

 

116. O Emperor of Austria! He Who is the Dayspring

of God's Light dwelt in the prison of Akka at the time

when thou didst set forth to visit the Aqsa

Mosque. # 85

 

Francis Joseph (Franz Josef, 1830-1916), Emperor of

Austria and King of Hungary, made a pilgrimage to

Jerusalem in 1869. While in the Holy Land he failed to take

the opportunity to inquire about Baha'u'llah Who at that

time was a prisoner in Akka (Acre).

The Aqsa Mosque, literally, the "Most Distant"

Mosque, is referred to in the Qur'an, and has become

identified with the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

 

117. O King of Berlin! # 86

 

Kaiser William I (Wilhelm Friedrich Ludwig, 1797-1888),

the seventh king of Prussia, was acclaimed first

Emperor of Germany in January 1871 at Versailles in

France, following the victory of Germany over France in the

Franco-Prussian War.

 

118. the one whose power transcended thy power,

and whose station excelled thy station # 86

 

This is a reference to Napoleon III (1808-1873), the

Emperor of the French, who was regarded by many

historians as the most outstanding monarch of his day in the

West.

Baha'u'llah addressed two Tablets to Napoleon III, in

the second of which He clearly prophesied that Napoleon's

kingdom would be "thrown into confusion", that his "empire <p217>

shall pass" from his hands, and that his people would

experience great "commotions".

Within a year, Napoleon III suffered a resounding

defeat, at the hands of Kaiser William I, at the Battle of

Sedan in 1870. He went in exile to England, where he died

three years later.

 

119. O people of Constantinople! # 89

 

The word here translated as "Constantinople" is, in the

original, "Ar-Rum" or "Rome". This term has generally

been used in the Middle East to designate Constantinople

and the Eastern Roman Empire, then the city of Byzantium

and its empire, and later the Ottoman Empire.

 

120. O Spot that art situate on the shores of the two

seas! # 89

 

This is a reference to Constantinople, now called Istanbul.

Located on the Bosphorus, a strait about 31 kilometres long

which links the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara, it is the

largest city and seaport of Turkey.

Constantinople was the capital of the Ottoman Empire

from 1453 until 1922. During Baha'u'llah's sojourn in this

city, the tyrannical Sultan Abdu'l-'Aziz occupied the

throne. The Ottoman Sultans were also the Caliphs, the

leaders of Sunni Islam. Baha'u'llah anticipated the fall of the

Caliphate, which was abolished in 1924.

 

121. O banks of the Rhine! # 90

 

In one of His Tablets written before the First World War

(1914-1918), Abdu'l-Baha explained that Baha'u'llah's

reference to having seen the banks of the Rhine "covered with

gore" related to the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871), and

that there was more suffering to come.

In God Passes By Shoghi Effendi states that the

"oppressively severe treaty" that was imposed on Germany

following its defeat in the First World War "provoked 'the <p218>

lamentations'" of Berlin "which half a century before, had been

ominously prophesied".

 

122. O Land of Ta # 91

 

"Ta" is the initial letter of Tihran, the capital of Iran.

Baha'u'llah has often chosen to represent certain place names

by reference to their initial letter. According to the abjad

system of reckoning, the numerical value of Ta is nine,

which equals the numerical value of the name Baha.

 

123. within thee was born the Manifestation of His

Glory # 92

 

This is a reference to the birth of Baha'u'llah in Tihran on

12 November 1817.

 

124. O Land of Kha! # 94

 

A reference to the Iranian province of Khurasan and

neighbouring areas, which include the city of Ishqabad

(Ashkhabad).

 

125. Should anyone acquire one hundred mithqals of

gold, nineteen mithqals thereof are God's and to be

rendered unto Him # 97

 

This verse establishes Huququ'llah, the Right of God, the

offering of a fixed portion of the value of the believer's

possessions. This offering was made to Baha'u'llah as the

Manifestation of God and then, following His Ascension, to

Abdu'l-Baha as the Centre of the Covenant. In His Will

and Testament, Abdu'l-Baha provided that the Huququ'llah

was to be offered "through the Guardian of the Cause of

God". There now being no Guardian, it is offered through

the Universal House of Justice as the Head of the Faith.

This fund is used for the promotion of the Faith of God and

its interests as well as for various philanthropic purposes.

The offering of the Huququ'llah is a spiritual obligation,

the fulfilment of which has been left to the conscience of

each Baha'i. While the community is reminded of the <p219>

requirements of the law of Huquq, no believer may be

approached individually to pay it.

A number of items in Questions and Answers further

elaborate this law. The payment of Huququ'llah is based on

the calculation of the value of the individual's possessions. If

a person has possessions equal in value to at least nineteen

mithqals of gold (Q and A 8), it is a spiritual obligation to

pay nineteen percent of the total amount, once only,

as Huququ'llah (Q and A 89). Thereafter, whenever one's

income, after all expenses have been paid, increases the

value of one's possessions by the amount of at least nineteen

mithqals of gold, one is to pay nineteen percent of this

increase, and so on for each further increase (Q and A 8, 90).

Certain categories of possessions, such as one's residence,

are exempt from the payment of Huququ'llah (Q and A

8, 42, 95), and specific provisions are outlined to cover cases

of financial loss (Q and A 44, 45), the failure of investments to

yield a profit (Q and A 102) and for the payment of Huquq in

the event of the person's death (Q and A 9, 69, 80). (In this

latter case, see note 47.)

Extensive extracts from Tablets, Questions and

Answers, and other Writings concerning the spiritual

significance of Huququ'llah and the details of its application

have been published in a compilation entitled Huququ'llah.

 

126. Various petitions have come before Our throne

from the believers, concerning laws from God... We

have, in consequence, revealed this Holy Tablet and

arrayed it with the mantle of His Law that haply the

people may keep the commandments of their

Lord. # 98

 

"For a number of years", Baha'u'llah states in one of His

Tablets, "petitions reached the Most Holy Presence from various

lands begging for the laws of God, but We held back the Pen ere the

appointed time had come." Not until twenty years from the

birth of His Prophetic Mission in the Siyah-Chal of Tihran <p220>

had elapsed did Baha'u'llah reveal the Kitab-i-Aqdas, the

Repository of the laws of His Dispensation. Even after its

revelation the Aqdas was withheld by Him for some time

before it was sent to the friends in Persia. This divinely

purposed delay in the revelation of the basic laws of God for

this age, and the subsequent gradual implementation of

their provisions, illustrate the principle of progressive

revelation which applies even within the ministry of each

Prophet.

 

127. crimson Spot # 100

 

This is a reference to the prison-city of Akka. In the Baha'i

Writings the word "crimson" is used in several allegorical

and symbolic senses. (See also note 115.)

 

128. the Sadratu'l-Muntaha # 100

 

Literally "the furthermost Lote-Tree", translated by Shoghi

Effendi as "the Tree beyond which there is no passing". This is

used as a symbol in Islam, for example in the accounts of

Muhammad's Night Journey, to mark the point in the

heavens beyond which neither men nor angels can pass in

their approach to God, and thus to delimit the bounds of

divine knowledge as revealed to mankind. Hence it is often

used in the Baha'i Writings to designate the Manifestation

of God Himself. (See also note 164.)

 

129. the Mother Book # 103

 

The term "Mother Book" is generally used to designate the

central Book of a religious Dispensation. In the Qur'an and

Islamic Hadith, the term is used to describe the Qur'an

itself. In the Babi Dispensation, the Bayan is the Mother

Book, and the Kitab-i-Aqdas is the Mother Book of the

Dispensation of Baha'u'llah. Further, the Guardian in a

letter written on his behalf has stated that this concept can <p221>

also be used as a "collective term indicating the body of the

Teachings revealed by Baha'u'llah". This term is also used

in a broader sense to signify the Divine Repository of

Revelation.

 

130. Whoso interpreteth what hath been sent down

from the heaven of Revelation, and altereth its evident

meaning # 105

 

In several of His Tablets, Baha'u'llah affirms the distinction

between allegorical verses, which are susceptible to interpretation,

and those verses that relate to such subjects as the

laws and ordinances, worship and religious observances,

whose meanings are evident and which demand compliance

on the part of the believers.

As explained in notes 145 and 184, Baha'u'llah

designated Abdu'l-Baha, His eldest Son, as His Successor

and the Interpreter of His Teachings. Abdu'l-Baha in His

turn appointed His eldest grandson, Shoghi Effendi, to

succeed Him as interpreter of the holy Writ and Guardian

of the Cause. The interpretations of Abdu'l-Baha and

Shoghi Effendi are considered divinely guided and are

binding on the Baha'is.

The existence of authoritative interpretations does not

preclude the individual from engaging in the study of the

Teachings and thereby arriving at a personal interpretation

or understanding. A clear distinction is, however, drawn in

the Baha'i Writings between authoritative interpretation

and the understanding that each individual arrives at from a

study of its Teachings. Individual interpretations based on a

person's understanding of the Teachings constitute the fruit

of man's rational power and may well contribute to a greater

comprehension of the Faith. Such views, nevertheless, lack

authority. In presenting their personal ideas, individuals are

cautioned not to discard the authority of the revealed words,

not to deny or contend with the authoritative interpretation,

and not to engage in controversy; rather they should <p222>

offer their thoughts as a contribution to knowledge, making

it clear that their views are merely their own.

 

131. approach not the public pools of Persian

baths # 106

 

Baha'u'llah prohibits the use of the pools found in the

traditional public bath-houses of Persia. In these baths it

was the custom for many people to wash themselves in the

same pool and for the water to be changed at infrequent

intervals. Consequently, the water was discoloured,

befouled and unhygienic, and had a highly offensive stench.

 

132. Avoid ye likewise the malodorous pools in the

courtyards of Persian homes # 106

 

Most houses in Persia used to have a pool in their courtyard

which served as a reservoir for water used for cleaning,

washing and other domestic purposes. Since the water in the

pool was stagnant and was not usually changed for weeks at

a time, it tended to develop a very unpleasant odour.

 

133. It is forbidden you to wed your fathers' wives. # 107

 

Marriage with one's stepmother is here explicitly prohibited.

This prohibition also applies to marrying one's stepfather.

Where Baha'u'llah has expressed a law between a

man and a woman it applies mutatis mutandis as between a

woman and a man unless the context should make this

impossible.

Abdu'l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi confirmed that,

while stepmothers are the only category of relatives

mentioned in the text, this does not mean that all other

unions within a family are permissible. Baha'u'llah states

that it devolves upon the House of Justice to legislate

"concerning the legitimacy or otherwise of marrying one's

relatives" (Q and A 50). Abdu'l-Baha has written that the

more distant the blood-relationship between the couple the <p223>

better, since such marriages provide the basis for the

physical well-being of humanity and are conducive to

fellowship among mankind.

 

134. the subject of boys # 107

 

The word translated here as "boys" has, in this context, in

the Arabic original, the implication of paederasty. Shoghi

Effendi has interpreted this reference as a prohibition on all

homosexual relations.

The Baha'i teachings on sexual morality centre on

marriage and the family as the bedrock of the whole

structure of human society and are designed to protect and

strengthen that divine institution. Baha'i law thus restricts

permissible sexual intercourse to that between a man and

the woman to whom he is married.

In a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi it is

stated:

 

No matter how devoted and fine the love may be

between people of the same sex, to let it find expression

in sexual acts is wrong. To say that it is ideal is no excuse.

Immorality of every sort is really forbidden by Baha'u'llah,

and homosexual relationships He looks upon as

such, besides being against nature. To be afflicted this

way is a great burden to a conscientious soul. But

through the advice and help of doctors, through a strong

and determined effort, and through prayer, a soul can

overcome this handicap.

 

Baha'u'llah makes provision for the Universal House of

Justice to determine, according to the degree of the offence,

penalties for adultery and sodomy (Q and A 49).

 

135. To none is it permitted to mutter sacred verses

before the public gaze as he walketh in the street or

marketplace # 108

 

This is an allusion to the practice of certain clerics and

religious leaders of earlier Dispensations who, out of <p224>

hypocrisy and affectation, and in order to win the praise of

their followers, would ostentatiously mutter prayers in

public places as a demonstration of their piety. Baha'u'llah

forbids such behaviour and stresses the importance of

humility and genuine devotion to God.

 

136. Unto everyone hath been enjoined the writing of

a will. # 109

 

According to the Teachings of Baha'u'llah, the individual

has a duty to write a will and testament, and is free to

dispose of his estate in whatever manner he chooses (see note

38).

Baha'u'llah affirms that in drawing up his will "a person

hath full jurisdiction over his property", since God has

permitted the individual "to deal with that which He hath

bestowed upon him in whatever manner he may desire" (Q and A 69).

Provisions are set out in the Kitab-i-Aqdas for the

distribution of inheritance in the case of intestacy. (See

notes 38-48.)

 

137. the Most Great Name # 109

 

As explained in note 33, the Greatest Name of God can take

various forms, all based on the word "Baha". The Baha'is in

the East have implemented this injunction of the Aqdas by

heading their wills with such phrases as "O Thou Glory of

the All-Glorious", "In the name of God, the All-Glorious"

or "He is the All-Glorious" and the like.

 

138. All Feasts have attained their consummation in

the two Most Great Festivals, and in the two other

Festivals that fall on the twin days # 110

 

This passage establishes four great festivals of the Baha'i

year. The two designated by Baha'u'llah as "the two Most

Great Festivals" are, first, the Festival of Ridvan, which

commemorates Baha'u'llah's Declaration of His Prophetic

Mission in the Garden of Ridvan in Baghdad during twelve

days in April/May 1863 and is referred to by Him as "the <p225>

King of Festivals" and, second, the Bab's Declaration, which

occurred in May 1844 in Shiraz. The first, ninth and twelfth

days of the Festival of Ridvan are Holy Days (Q and A 1), as is

the day of the Declaration of the Bab.

The "two other Festivals" are the anniversaries of the

births of Baha'u'llah and the Bab. In the Muslim lunar

calendar these fall on consecutive days, the birth of

Baha'u'llah on the second day of the month of Muharram

1233 A.H. (12 November 1817), and the birth of the Bab

on the first day of the same month 1235 A.H. (20 October

1819), respectively. They are thus referred to as the "Twin

Birthdays" and Baha'u'llah states that these two days are

accounted as one in the sight of God (Q and A 2). He states

that, should they fall within the month of fasting, the

command to fast shall not apply on those days (Q and A 36).

Given that the Baha'i calendar (see notes 26 and 147) is a

solar calendar, it remains for the Universal House of Justice

to determine whether the Twin Holy Birthdays are to be

celebrated on a solar or lunar basis.

 

139. the first day of the month of Baha # 111

 

In the Baha'i calendar the first month of the year and the

first day of each month are given the name "Baha". The day

of Baha of the month of Baha is thus the Baha'i New Year,

Naw-Ruz, which was ordained by the Bab as a festival and

is here confirmed by Baha'u'llah (see notes 26 and 147).

In addition to the seven Holy Days ordained in these

passages of the Kitab-i-Aqdas, the anniversary of the

Martyrdom of the Bab was also commemorated as a Holy

Day in the lifetime of Baha'u'llah and, as a corollary to this,

Abdu'l-Baha added the observance of the Ascension of

Baha'u'llah, making nine Holy Days in all. Two other

anniversaries which are observed, but on which work is not

suspended, are the Day of the Covenant and the anniversary

of the Passing of Abdu'l-Baha. See the section on the Baha'i

calendar in The Baha'i World, volume XVIII. <p226>

 

140. The Most Great Festival is, indeed, the King of

Festivals # 112

 

A reference to the Ridvan Festival (see notes 107 and 138).

 

141. God had formerly laid upon each one of the

believers the duty of offering before Our throne

priceless gifts from among his possessions. Now

... We have absolved them of this obligation. # 114

 

This passage abrogates a provision of the Bayan which

decreed that all objects unparalleled of their kind should,

upon the appearance of Him Whom God will make

manifest, be rendered unto Him. The Bab explained that,

since the Manifestation of God is beyond compare, whatever

is peerless in its kind should rightfully be reserved for Him,

unless He decrees otherwise.

 

142. the hour of dawn # 115

 

With reference to attending dawn prayers in the

Mashriqu'l-Adhkar, the Baha'i House of Worship, Baha'u'llah

has explained that, although the actual time specified

in the Book of God is "the hour of dawn", it is acceptable at

any time from "the earliest dawn of day, between dawn and

sunrise, or even up to two hours after sunrise" (Q and A 15).

 

143. These Tablets are embellished with the seal of

Him Who causeth the dawn to appear, Who lifteth up

His voice between the heavens and the earth. # 117

 

Baha'u'llah repeatedly affirms the absolute integrity of His

Writings as the Word of God. Some of His Tablets also bear

the mark of one of His seals. The Baha'i World, volume V,

p. 4, contains a photograph of a number of Baha'u'llah's

seals.

 

144. It is inadmissible that man, who hath been

endowed with reason, should consume that which

stealeth it away. # 119

 

There are many references in the Baha'i Writings which <p227>

prohibit the use of wine and other intoxicating drinks and

which describe the deleterious effect of such intoxicants on

the individual. In one of His Tablets, Baha'u'llah states:

 

Beware lest ye exchange the Wine of God for your own

wine, for it will stupefy your minds, and turn your faces away

from the Countenance of God, the All-Glorious, the Peerless,

the Inaccessible. Approach it not, for it hath been forbidden unto

you by the behest of God, the Exalted, the Almighty.

 

Abdu'l-Baha explains that the Aqdas prohibits "both light

and strong drinks", and He states that the reason for

prohibiting the use of alcoholic drinks is because "alcohol

leadeth the mind astray and causeth the weakening of the body".

Shoghi Effendi, in letters written on his behalf, states

that this prohibition includes not only the consumption of

wine but of "everything that deranges the mind", and he

clarifies that the use of alcohol is permitted only when it

constitutes part of a medical treatment which is implemented

"under the advice of a competent and conscientious

physician, who may have to prescribe it for the cure of some

special ailment".

 

145. turn your faces toward Him Whom God hath

purposed, Who hath branched from this Ancient

Root # 121

 

Baha'u'llah here alludes to Abdu'l-Baha as His Successor

and calls upon the believers to turn towards Him. In the

Book of the Covenant, His Will and Testament, Baha'u'llah

discloses the intention of this verse. He states: "The object of

this sacred verse is none other except the Most Mighty Branch."

The "Most Mighty Branch" is one of the titles conferred by

Baha'u'llah on Abdu'l-Baha. (See also notes 66 and 184.)

 

146. In the Bayan it had been forbidden you to ask Us

questions. # 126

 

The Bab forbade His followers to ask questions of Him

Whom God will make manifest (Baha'u'llah), unless their <p228>

questions were submitted in writing and pertained to

subjects worthy of His lofty station. See Selections from the

Writings of the Bab.

Baha'u'llah removes this prohibition of the Bab. He

invites the believers to ask such questions as they "need to

ask", and He cautions them to refrain from posing "idle

questions" of the kind which preoccupied "the men of former

times".

 

147. The number of months in a year, appointed in

the Book of God, is nineteen. # 127

 

The Baha'i year, in accordance with the Badi' calendar,

consists of nineteen months of nineteen days each, with the

addition of certain intercalary days (four in an ordinary year

and five in a leap year) between the eighteenth and nineteenth

months in order to adjust the calendar to the solar

year. The Bab named the months after certain attributes of

God. The Baha'i New Year, Naw-Ruz, is astronomically

fixed, coinciding with the March equinox (see note 26). For

further details, including the names of the days of the week

and the months, see the section on the Baha'i calendar in

The Baha'i World, volume XVIII.

 

148. the first hath been adorned with this Name

which overshadoweth the whole of creation # 127

 

In the Persian Bayan, the Bab bestowed the name "Baha" on

the first month of the year (see note 139).

 

149. The Lord hath decreed that the dead should be

interred in coffins # 128

 

In the Bayan, the Bab prescribed that the deceased should

be interred in a coffin made of crystal or polished stone.

Shoghi Effendi, in a letter written on his behalf, explained

that the significance of this provision was to show respect for

the human body which "was once exalted by the immortal

soul of man". <p229>

 

In brief, the Baha'i law for the burial of the dead states

that it is forbidden to carry the body for more than one

hour's journey from the place of death; that the body should

be wrapped in a shroud of silk or cotton, and on its finger

should be placed a ring bearing the inscription "I came forth

from God, and return unto Him, detached from all save Him,

holding fast to His Name, the Merciful, the Compassionate"; and

that the coffin should be of crystal, stone or hard fine wood.

A specific Prayer for the Dead (see note 10) is ordained, to

be said before interment. As affirmed by Abdu'l-Baha and

the Guardian, this law precludes cremation of the dead. The

formal prayer and the ring are meant to be used for those

who have attained the age of maturity, i.e. 15 years of age

(Q and A 70).

With regard to the material from which the coffin is to

be made, the spirit of the law is that coffins should be of as

durable a material as possible. Hence, the Universal House

of Justice has explained that, in addition to the materials

specified in the Aqdas, there is no objection to using the

hardest wood available or concrete for the casket. For the

present, the Baha'is are left free to make their own choices

in this matter.

 

150. the Point of the Bayan # 129

 

The "Point of the Bayan" is one of the titles by which the Bab

referred to Himself.

 

151. the deceased should be enfolded in five sheets of

silk or cotton # 130

 

In the Bayan, the Bab specified that the body of the

deceased should be wrapped in five sheets of silk or cotton.

Baha'u'llah confirmed this provision and added the stipulation

that for "those whose means are limited a single sheet of either

fabric will suffice".

When asked whether the "five sheets" mentioned in the

law referred to "five full-length shrouds" or "five cloths

which were hitherto customarily used", Baha'u'llah responded <p230>

that the intention is the "use of five cloths" (Q and A

56).

Concerning the way in which the body should be

wrapped, there is nothing in the Baha'i Writings to define

how the wrapping of the body is to be done, either when

"five cloths" are used or only "a single sheet". At present, the

Baha'is are free to use their judgement in the matter.

 

152. It is forbidden you to transport the body of the

deceased a greater distance than one hour's journey

from the city # 130

 

The intention of this command is to limit the duration of

the journey to one hour's time, irrespective of the means of

transport that are chosen to carry the body to the burial site.

Baha'u'llah affirms that the sooner the burial takes place,

"the more fitting and acceptable will it be" (Q and A 16).

The place of death may be taken to encompass the city

or town in which the person passes away, and therefore the

one hour's journey may be calculated from the city limits to

the place of burial. The spirit of Baha'u'llah's law is for the

deceased to be buried near where he or she dies.

 

153. God hath removed the restrictions on travel that

had been imposed in the Bayan. # 131

 

The Bab decreed certain restrictions on travel which were to

remain in force until the advent of the Promised One of the

Bayan, at which time the believers were instructed to set

out, even if on foot, to meet Him, since the attainment of

His presence was the fruit and purpose of their very

existence.

 

154. Raise up and exalt the two Houses in the Twin

Hallowed Spots, and the other sites wherein the throne

of your Lord ... hath been established. # 133

 

Baha'u'llah identifies the "two Houses" as His House in

Baghdad, designated by Him as the "Most Great House", and

the House of the Bab in Shiraz, both of which have been <p231>

ordained by Him as sites of pilgrimage. (See Q and A 29, 32

and note 54.)

Shoghi Effendi explained that "the other sites wherein the

throne of your Lord ... hath been established" refers to those

places where the Person of the Manifestation of God has

resided. Baha'u'llah states that "the people of the areas where

these are situated may choose to preserve either each house" wherein

He resided, "or one of them" (Q and A 32). Baha'i institutions

have identified, documented, and where possible, acquired

and restored a number of the historical sites associated with

the Twin Manifestations.

 

155. Take heed lest ye be prevented by aught that hath

been recorded in the Book from hearkening unto this,

the Living Book # 134

 

The "Book" is the record of the revealed Word of the

Manifestations of God. The "Living Book" is a reference to

the Person of the Manifestation.

These words contain an allusion to a statement of the

Bab in the Persian Bayan about the "Living Book", which

He identifies as Him Whom God will make manifest. In

one of His Tablets Baha'u'llah Himself states: "The Book of

God hath been sent down in the form of this Youth."

In this verse of the Aqdas, and again in paragraph 168

of the Aqdas, Baha'u'llah refers to Himself as the "Living

Book". He cautions the "followers of every other Faith" against

seeking "reasons in their Holy Books" for refuting the

utterances of the "Living Book". He admonishes the people

not to allow what has been recorded in the "Book" to

prevent them from recognising His Station and from

holding fast to what is in this new Revelation.

 

156. tribute to this Revelation, from the Pen of Him

Who was My Herald # 135

 

The "tribute" that Baha'u'llah quotes in this passage is from

the Arabic Bayan.

 

157. "The Qiblih is indeed He Whom God will make <p232>

 

manifest; whenever He moveth, it moveth, until He

shall come to rest." # 137

 

For a discussion of this verse see notes 7 and 8.

 

158. It is unlawful to enter into marriage save with a

believer in the Bayan. Should only one party to a

marriage embrace this Cause, his or her possessions

will become unlawful to the other # 139

 

The passage of the Bayan which Baha'u'llah here quotes

draws the attention of the believers to the imminence of the

coming of "Him Whom God will make manifest". Its

prohibition of marriage with a non-Babi and its provision

that the property of a husband or wife who embraced the

Faith could not lawfully pass to the non-Babi spouse were

explicitly held in abeyance by the Bab, and were subsequently

annulled by Baha'u'llah before they could come into

effect. Baha'u'llah, in quoting this law, points to the fact

that, in revealing it, the Bab had clearly anticipated the

possibility that the Cause of Baha'u'llah would rise to

prominence before that of the Bab Himself.

In God Passes By Shoghi Effendi points out that the

Bayan "should be regarded primarily as a eulogy of the

Promised One rather than a code of laws and ordinances

designed to be a permanent guide to future generations".

"Designedly severe in the rules and regulations it imposed,"

he continues, "revolutionizing in the principles it instilled,

calculated to awaken from their age-long torpor the clergy

and the people, and to administer a sudden and fatal blow to

obsolete and corrupt institutions, it proclaimed, through its

drastic provisions, the advent of the anticipated Day, the

Day when 'the Summoner shall summon to a stern

business', when He will 'demolish whatever hath been

before Him, even as the Apostle of God demolished the

ways of those that preceded Him'" (see also note 109).

 

159. The Point of the Bayan # 140

 

One of the titles of the Bab. <p233>

 

160. Verily, there is none other God besides Me # 143

 

The Baha'i Writings contain many passages that elucidate

the nature of the Manifestation and His relationship to God.

Baha'u'llah underlines the unique and transcendent nature

of the Godhead. He explains that "since there can be no tie of

direct intercourse to bind the one true God with His creation" God

ordains that "in every age and dispensation a pure and stainless

Soul be made manifest in the kingdoms of earth and heaven". This

"mysterious and ethereal Being", the Manifestation of God, has

a human nature which pertains to "the world of matter" and a

spiritual nature "born of the substance of God Himself". He is

also endowed with a "double station":

 

The first station, which is related to His innermost reality,

representeth Him as One Whose voice is the voice of God Himself...

The second station is the human station, exemplified by the

following verses: "I am but a man like you." "Say, praise be to

my Lord! Am I more than a man, an apostle?"

 

Baha'u'llah also affirms that, in the spiritual realm,

there is an "essential unity" between all the Manifestations of

God. They all reveal the "Beauty of God", manifest His

names and attributes, and give utterance to His Revelation.

In this regard, He states:

 

Were any of the all-embracing Manifestations of God to

declare: "I am God", He, verily, speaketh the truth, and no

doubt attacheth thereto. For it hath been repeatedly demonstrated

that through their Revelation, their attributes and names, the

Revelation of God, His names and His attributes, are made

manifest in the world...

 

While the Manifestations reveal the names and

attributes of God and are the means by which humanity has

access to the knowledge of God and His Revelation, Shoghi

Effendi states that the Manifestations should "never ... be

identified with that invisible Reality, the Essence of

Divinity itself". In relation to Baha'u'llah, the Guardian

wrote that the "human temple that has been the vehicle of <p234>

so overpowering a Revelation" is not to be identified with

the "Reality" of God.

Concerning the uniqueness of Baha'u'llah's station and

the greatness of His Revelation, Shoghi Effendi affirms that

the prophetic statements concerning the "Day of God",

found in the Sacred Scriptures of past Dispensations, are

fulfilled by the advent of Baha'u'llah:

 

To Israel He was neither more nor less than the

incarnation of the "Everlasting Father", the "Lord of

Hosts" come down "with ten thousands of saints"; to

Christendom Christ returned "in the glory of the Father";

to Shi'ah Islam the return of the Imam Husayn; to Sunni

Islam the descent of the "Spirit of God" (Jesus Christ); to

the Zoroastrians the promised Shah-Bahram; to the

Hindus the reincarnation of Krishna; to the Buddhists

the fifth Buddha.

 

Baha'u'llah describes the station of "Divinity" which

He shares with all the Manifestations of God as

 

...the station in which one dieth to himself and liveth in

God. Divinity, whenever I mention it, indicateth My complete

and absolute self-effacement. This is the station in which I have

no control over mine own weal or woe nor over my life nor over my

resurrection.

 

And, regarding His own relationship to God, He testifies:

 

When I contemplate, O my God, the relationship that bindeth

me to Thee, I am moved to proclaim to all created things "verily

I am God"; and when I consider my own self, lo, I find it

coarser than clay!

 

161. payment of Zakat # 146

 

Zakat is referred to in the Qur'an as a regular charity

binding upon Muslims. In due course the concept evolved

into a form of alms-tax which imposed the obligation to

give a fixed portion of certain categories of income, beyond

specified limits, for the relief of the poor, for various

charitable purposes, and to aid the Faith of God. The limit <p235>

of exemption varied for different commodities, as did the

percentage payable on the portion assessable.

Baha'u'llah states that the Baha'i law of Zakat follows

"what hath been revealed in the Qur'an" (Q and A 107). Since such

issues as the limits for exemption, the categories of income

concerned, the frequency of payments, and the scale of rates

for the various categories of Zakat are not mentioned in the

Qur'an, these matters will have to be set forth in the future

by the Universal House of Justice. Shoghi Effendi has

indicated that pending such legislation the believers should,

according to their means and possibilities, make regular

contributions to the Baha'i Fund.

 

162. It is unlawful to beg, and it is forbidden to give to

him who beggeth. # 147

 

In a Tablet Abdu'l-Baha expounds the meaning of this

verse. He states that "mendicancy is forbidden and that giving

charity to people who take up begging as their profession is also

prohibited". He further points out in that same Tablet: "The

object is to uproot mendicancy altogether. However, if a person is

incapable of earning a living, is stricken by dire poverty or becometh

helpless, then it is incumbent on the wealthy or the Deputies to

provide him with a monthly allowance for his subsistence... By

'Deputies' is meant the representatives of the people, that is to say

the members of the House of Justice."

The prohibition against giving charity to people who

beg does not preclude individuals and Spiritual Assemblies

from extending financial assistance to the poor and needy or

from providing them with opportunities to acquire such

skills as would enable them to earn a livelihood (see note

56).

 

163. A fine ... had formerly been prescribed ... for

anyone who was the cause of sadness to another # 148

 

Baha'u'llah abrogates the law of the Persian Bayan

concerning the payment of a fine in reparation for causing

sadness to one's neighbour. <p236>

 

164. the sacred Lote-Tree # 148

 

The "sacred Lote-Tree" is a reference to the Sadratu'l-Muntaha,

the "Tree beyond which there is no passing" (see note

128). It is used here symbolically to designate Baha'u'llah.

 

165. Recite ye the verses of God every morn and

eventide. # 149

 

Baha'u'llah states that the essential "requisite" for reciting

"the verses of God" is the "eagerness and love" of the believers to

"read the Word of God" (Q and A 68).

With regard to the definition of "verses of God",

Baha'u'llah states that it refers to "all that hath been sent down

from the Heaven of Divine Utterance". Shoghi Effendi, in a

letter written to one of the believers in the East, has clarified

that the term "verses of God" does not include the writings of

Abdu'l-Baha; he has likewise indicated that this term does

not apply to his own writings.

 

166. Ye have been enjoined to renew the furnishings

of your homes after the passing of each nineteen

years # 151

 

Baha'u'llah confirms the injunction in the Arabic Bayan

regarding the renewal, every nineteen years, of the

furnishings of one's home, provided one is able to do so.

Abdu'l-Baha relates this ordinance to the promotion of

refinement and cleanliness. He explains that the purpose of

the law is that one should change those furnishings that

become old, lose their lustre and provoke repugnance. It

does not apply to such things as rare or treasured articles,

antiques or jewellery.

 

167. Wash your feet # 152

 

The believers are exhorted in the Kitab-i-Aqdas to bathe

regularly, to wear clean clothes and generally to be the

essence of cleanliness and refinement. The Synopsis and

Codification, section IV.D.3.y.i.-vii., summarizes the relevant <p237>

provisions. In relation to the washing of the feet,

Baha'u'llah states that it is preferable to use warm water;

however, washing in cold water is also permissible (Q and A

97).

 

168. Ye have been prohibited from making use of

pulpits. Whoso wisheth to recite unto you the verses of

his Lord, let him sit on a chair placed upon a

dais # 154

 

These provisions have their antecedent in the Persian Bayan.

The Bab forbade the use of pulpits for the delivery of

sermons and the reading of the Text. He specified, instead,

that to enable all to hear the Word of God clearly, a chair

for the speaker should be placed upon a platform.

In comments on this law, Abdu'l-Baha and Shoghi

Effendi have made it clear that in the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar

(where sermons are prohibited and only the words of Holy

Scripture may be read) the reader may stand or sit, and if

necessary to be better heard, may use a low moveable

platform, but that no pulpit is permitted. In the case of

meetings in places other than the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar, it is

also permissible for the reader or speaker to sit or stand, and

to use a platform. In one of His Tablets, when reiterating

the prohibition of the use of pulpits in any location,

Abdu'l-Baha has stressed that when Baha'is deliver their

speeches in gatherings, they are to do so in an attitude of

utmost humility and self-abnegation.

 

169. Gambling # 155

 

The activities that are included in this prohibition have not

been outlined in the Writings of Baha'u'llah. As both

Abdu'l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi have indicated, it is left to

the Universal House of Justice to specify the details of this

prohibition. In response to questions about whether

lotteries, betting on such things as horse races and football

games, bingo, and the like, are included under the

prohibition of gambling, the Universal House of Justice has <p238>

indicated that this is a matter that will be considered in

detail in the future. In the meantime, the Assemblies and

individuals are counselled not to make an issue of these

matters and to leave it to the conscience of the individual

believers.

The House of Justice has ruled that it is not

appropriate for funds for the Faith to be raised through

lotteries, raffles, and games of chance.

 

170. the use of opium ... any substance that induceth

sluggishness and torpor # 155

 

This prohibition of the use of opium is reiterated by

Baha'u'llah in the final paragraph of the Kitab-i-Aqdas. In

this connection, Shoghi Effendi stated that one of the

requirements for "a chaste and holy life" is "total abstinence

... from opium, and from similar habit-forming drugs".

Heroin, hashish and other derivatives of cannabis such as

marijuana, as well as hallucinogenic agents such as LSD,

peyote and similar substances, are regarded as falling under

this prohibition.

Abdu'l-Baha has written:

 

As to opium, it is foul and accursed. God protect us from

the punishment He inflicteth on the user. According to the

explicit Text of the Most Holy Book, it is forbidden, and its use

is utterly condemned. Reason showeth that smoking opium is a

kind of insanity, and experience attesteth that the user is

completely cut off from the human kingdom. May God protect

all against the perpetration of an act so hideous as this, an act

which layeth in ruins the very foundation of what it is to be

human, and which causeth the user to be dispossessed for ever and

ever. For opium fasteneth on the soul so that the user's conscience

dieth, his mind is blotted away, his perceptions are eroded. It

turneth the living into the dead. It quencheth the natural heat.

No greater harm can be conceived than that which opium

inflicteth. Fortunate are they who never even speak the name of

it; then think how wretched is the user. <p239>

 

O ye lovers of God! In this, the cycle of Almighty God,

violence and force, constraint and oppression, are one and all

condemned. It is, however, mandatory that the use of opium be

prevented by any means whatsoever, that perchance the human

race may be delivered from this most powerful of plagues. And

otherwise, woe and misery to whoso falleth short of his duty to

his Lord.

 

In one of His Tablets Abdu'l-Baha has stated

concerning opium: "the user, the buyer and the seller are all

deprived of the bounty and grace of God".

In yet another Tablet, Abdu'l-Baha has written:

 

Regarding hashish you have pointed out that some

Persians have become habituated to its use. Gracious God! This

is the worst of all intoxicants, and its prohibition is explicitly

revealed. Its use causeth the disintegration of thought and the

complete torpor of the soul. How could anyone seek the fruit of the

infernal tree, and by partaking of it, be led to exemplify the

qualities of a monster? How could one use this forbidden drug,

and thus deprive himself of the blessings of the All-Merciful?

Alcohol consumeth the mind and causeth man to commit

acts of absurdity, but this opium, this foul fruit of the infernal

tree, and this wicked hashish extinguish the mind, freeze the

spirit, petrify the soul, waste the body and leave man frustrated

and lost.

 

It should be noted that the above prohibition against

taking certain classes of drugs does not forbid their use

when prescribed by qualified physicians as part of a medical

treatment.

 

171. the "mystery of the Great Reversal in the Sign of

the Sovereign" # 157

 

Shaykh Ahmad-i-Ahsa'i (1753-1831), who was the founder

of the Shaykhi School and the first of the "twin luminaries

that heralded the advent of the Faith of the Bab",

prophesied that at the appearance of the Promised One all

things would be reversed, the last would be first, the first <p240>

last. Baha'u'llah in one of His Tablets refers to the "symbol

and allusion" of the "mystery of the Great Reversal in the Sign of

the Sovereign". He states: "Through this reversal He hath caused

the exalted to be abased and the abased to be exalted", and He

recalls that "in the days of Jesus, it was those who were

distinguished for their learning, the men of letters and religion,

who denied Him, whilst humble fishermen made haste to gain

admittance into the Kingdom" (see also note 172). For

additional information about Shaykh Ahmad-i-Ahsa'i see

The Dawn-Breakers, chapters 1 and 10.

 

172. the "Six" raised up by virtue of this "Upright

Alif" # 157

 

In his writings, Shaykh Ahmad-i-Ahsa'i placed great

emphasis on the Arabic letter "Vav". In The Dawn-Breakers,

Nabil states that this letter "symbolized for the Bab the

advent of a new cycle of Divine Revelation, and has since

been alluded to by Baha'u'llah in the Kitab-i-Aqdas in such

passages as 'the mystery of the Great Reversal' and 'the Sign of the

Sovereign'".

The name for the letter "Vav" consists of three letters:

Vav, Alif, Vav. According to the abjad reckoning, the

numerical value of each of these letters is 6, 1 and 6

respectively. Shoghi Effendi in a letter written on his behalf

to one of the believers in the East provides an interpretation

of this verse of the Aqdas. He states that the "Upright Alif"

refers to the advent of the Bab. The first letter with its value

of six, which comes before the Alif, is a symbol of earlier

Dispensations and Manifestations which predate the Bab,

while the third letter, which also has a numerical value of

six, stands for Baha'u'llah's supreme Revelation which was

made manifest after the Alif.

 

173. It hath been forbidden you to carry arms unless

essential # 159

 

Baha'u'llah confirms an injunction contained in the Bayan

which makes it unlawful to carry arms, unless it is necessary <p241>

to do so. With regard to circumstances under which the

bearing of arms might be "essential" for an individual,

Abdu'l-Baha gives permission to a believer for self-protection

in a dangerous environment. Shoghi Effendi in a

letter written on his behalf has also indicated that, in an

emergency, when there is no legal force at hand to appeal

to, a Baha'i is justified in defending his life. There are a

number of other situations in which weapons are needed and

can be legitimately used; for instance, in countries where

people hunt for their food and clothing, and in such sports

as archery, marksmanship, and fencing.

On the societal level, the principle of collective

security enunciated by Baha'u'llah (see Gleanings from the

Writings of Baha'u'llah, CXVII) and elaborated by Shoghi

Effendi (see the Guardian's letters in The World Order of

Baha'u'llah) does not presuppose the abolition of the use of

force, but prescribes "a system in which Force is made the

servant of Justice", and which provides for the existence of

an international peace-keeping force that "will safeguard the

organic unity of the whole commonwealth". In the Tablet

of Bisharat, Baha'u'llah expresses the hope that "weapons of

war throughout the world may be converted into instruments of

reconstruction and that strife and conflict may be removed from the

midst of men".

In another Tablet Baha'u'llah stresses the importance

of fellowship with the followers of all religions; He also

states that "the law of holy war hath been blotted out from the

Book".

 

174. and permitted you to attire yourselves in silk # 159

 

According to Islamic practice, the wearing of silk by men

was generally forbidden, except in times of holy war. This

prohibition, which was not based on the verses of the

Qur'an, was abrogated by the Bab. <p242>

 

175. The Lord hath relieved you ... of the restrictions

that formerly applied to clothing and to the trim

of the beard. # 159

 

Many rules about dress had their origins in the laws and

traditional practices of the world's religions. For example,

the Shi'ih clergy adopted for themselves a distinctive headdress

and robes and, at one time, forbade the people to

adopt European attire. Muslim practice, in its desire to

emulate the custom of the Prophet, also introduced a

number of restrictions with regard to the trim of the

moustache and the length of the beard.

Baha'u'llah removed such limitations on one's apparel

and beard. He leaves such matters to the "discretion" of the

individual, and at the same time calls upon the believers not

to transgress the bounds of propriety and to exercise

moderation in all that pertains to dress.

 

176. O Land of Kaf and Ra! # 164

 

Kaf and Ra are the first two consonants of Kirman, the

name of a city and province of Iran.

 

177. We perceive that which secretly and stealthily

diffuseth from thee. # 164

 

This passage is a reference to the intrigues of a group of

Azalis, followers of Mirza Yahya (see note 190), associated

with the city of Kirman. They include Mulla Ja'far, his son

Shaykh Ahmad-i-Ruhi and Mirza Aqa Khan-i-Kirmani

(both sons-in-law of Mirza Yahya), as well as Mirza Ahmad-i-Kirmani.

They not only sought to undermine the Faith,

but involved themselves in political intrigues which

culminated in the assassination of Nasiri'd-Din Shah.

 

178. Call ye to mind the shaykh whose name was

Muhammad-Hasan # 166

 

Shaykh Muhammad-Hasan, one of the leading exponents of

Shi'ih Islam, rejected the Bab. The author of voluminous <p243>

writings on Shi'ih jurisprudence, he is reported to have died

around 1850.

Nabil, in The Dawn-Breakers, describes the encounter

that took place in Najaf between Mulla Aliy-i-Bastami, one

of the Letters of the Living, and Shaykh Muhammad-Hasan.

During the meeting, Mulla Ali announced the manifestation

of the Bab and extolled the potency of His

Revelation. At the instigation of the shaykh, Mulla Ali was

forthwith pronounced a heretic and expelled from the

assembly. He was put on trial, transported to Istanbul, and

condemned to hard labour.

 

179. a sifter of wheat and barley # 166

 

This is an allusion to Mulla Muhammad Ja'far Gandum-Pak-Kun,

the first person in Isfahan to accept the Faith of

the Bab. He is mentioned in the Persian Bayan and praised

as one who "donned the robe of discipleship". In The Dawn-Breakers,

Nabil describes the unreserved acceptance of the

Message by the "sifter of wheat" and his zealous advocacy of

the new Revelation. He joined the company of the defenders

of the Fort of Shaykh Tabarsi and perished during that

siege.

 

180. Take heed lest the word "Prophet" withhold you

from this Most Great Announcement # 167

 

Baha'u'llah cautions people "of insight" not to allow their

interpretations of the Holy Scriptures to prevent them from

recognizing the Manifestation of God. Followers of each

religion have tended to allow their devotion to its Founder

to cause them to perceive His Revelation as the final Word

of God and to deny the possibility of the appearance of any

subsequent Prophet. This has been the case of Judaism,

Christianity and Islam. Baha'u'llah denies the validity of

this concept of finality both in relation to past Dispensations

and to His own. With regard to Muslims, He wrote in the

Kitab-i-Iqan that the "people of the Qur'an ... have allowed

the words 'Seal of the Prophets' to veil their eyes", "to obscure their <p244>

understanding, and deprive them of the grace of all His manifold

bounties". He affirms that "this theme hath ... been a sore test

unto all mankind", and laments the fate of "those who, clinging

unto these words, have disbelieved in Him Who is their true

Revealer". The Bab refers to this same theme when He

warns: "Let not names shut you out as by a veil from Him Who is

their Lord, even the name Prophet, for such a name is but a creation

of His utterance."

 

181. any reference to "Vicegerency" debar you from

the sovereignty of Him Who is the Vicegerent of

God # 167

 

The word here translated "Vicegerency" is, in the original

Arabic, "vilayat", which has a range of meanings including

"vicegerency", "guardianship", "protectorship" and "successorship".

It is used in relation to God Himself, to His

Manifestation, or to those who are the appointed Successors

of a Manifestation.

In this verse of the Aqdas, Baha'u'llah warns against

allowing such concepts to blind one to the "sovereignty" of

the new Divine Manifestation, the true "Vicegerent of God".

 

182. Call ye to mind Karim # 170

 

Haji Mirza Muhammad Karim Khan-i-Kirmani (1810-

circa 1873) was the self-appointed leader of the Shaykhi

community after the death of Siyyid Kazim, who was the

appointed successor to Shaykh Ahmad-i-Ahsa'i (see notes

171 and 172). He dedicated himself to the promotion of the

teachings of Shaykh Ahmad. The opinions he expressed

became the subject of controversy among his supporters and

opponents alike.

Regarded as one of the leading savants and prolific

authors of his age, he composed numerous books and

epistles in the various fields of learning that were cultivated <p245>

in those times. He actively opposed both the Bab and

Baha'u'llah, and used his treatises to attack the Bab and His

Teachings. In the Kitab-i-Iqan, Baha'u'llah condemns the

tone and content of his writings and singles out for criticism

one of his works which contains negative allusions to the

Bab. Shoghi Effendi describes him as "inordinately ambitious

and hypocritical" and describes how he "at the special

request of the Shah had in a treatise viciously attacked the

new Faith and its doctrines".

 

183. O ye the learned ones in Baha # 173

 

Baha'u'llah eulogizes the learned among His followers. In

the Book of His Covenant, He wrote: "Blessed are the rulers

and learned among the people of Baha." Referring to this

statement, Shoghi Effendi has written:

 

In this holy cycle the "learned" are, on the one hand, the

Hands of the Cause of God, and, on the other, the

teachers and diffusers of His Teachings who do not rank

as Hands, but who have attained an eminent position in

the teaching work. As to the "rulers" they refer to the

members of the Local, National and International Houses

of Justice. The duties of each of these souls will be

determined in the future.

 

The Hands of the Cause of God were individuals

appointed by Baha'u'llah and charged with various duties,

especially those of protecting and propagating His Faith. In

Memorials of the Faithful Abdu'l-Baha referred to other

outstanding believers as Hands of the Cause, and in His

Will and Testament He included a provision calling upon

the Guardian of the Faith to appoint Hands of the Cause at

his discretion. Shoghi Effendi first raised posthumously a

number of the believers to the rank of Hands of the Cause,

and during the latter years of his life appointed a total of 32

believers from all continents to this position. In the period

between the passing of Shoghi Effendi in 1957 and the <p246>

election of the Universal House of Justice in 1963, the

Hands of the Cause directed the affairs of the Faith in their

capacity as Chief Stewards of Baha'u'llah's embryonic World

Commonwealth (see note 67). In November 1964, the

Universal House of Justice determined that it could not

legislate to make it possible to appoint Hands of the Cause.

Instead, by a decision of the House of Justice in 1968, the

functions of the Hands of the Cause in relation to protecting

and propagating the Faith were extended into the future by

the creation of the Continental Boards of Counsellors, and

in 1973 through the establishment of the International

Teaching Centre, which has its seat in the Holy Land.

The Universal House of Justice appoints the Counsellor

members of the International Teaching Centre and the

Continental Counsellors. Members of Auxiliary Boards are

appointed by the Continental Counsellors. All these

individuals fall within the definition of the "learned" given

by Shoghi Effendi in the statement quoted above.

 

184. refer ye whatsoever ye understand not in the

Book to Him Who hath branched from this mighty

Stock # 174

 

Baha'u'llah invests Abdu'l-Baha with the right of interpreting

His holy Writ (see also note 145).

 

185. the School of Transcendent Oneness # 175

 

In this verse and the ones which immediately follow it,

Baha'u'llah confronts one of the reasons some of the Babis

rejected His claim to be the Promised One of the Bayan.

Their rejection was based on a Tablet addressed by the Bab

to "Him Who will be made manifest" on the reverse side of

which the Bab had written: "May the glances of Him Whom

God shall make manifest illumine this letter at the primary

school." This Tablet is published in Selections from the

Writings of the Bab.

These Babis maintained that, since Baha'u'llah was <p247>

two years older than the Bab, it was not possible for Him to

receive this Tablet "at the primary school".

Baha'u'llah here explains that the reference is to events

transpiring in the spiritual worlds beyond this plane of

existence.

 

186. We accepted the verses of God ... which He

presented unto Us # 175

 

In His Tablet addressed to "Him Who will be made

manifest", the Bab characterizes the Bayan as an offering

from Him to Baha'u'llah. See Selections from the Writings of the

Bab.

 

187. O people of the Bayan! # 176

 

Reference to the followers of the Bab.

 

188. the letters B and E were joined and knit together # 177

 

Shoghi Effendi, in letters written on his behalf, has

explained the significance of the "letters B and E". They

constitute the word "Be", which, he states, "means the

creative Power of God Who through His command causes

all things to come into being" and "the power of the

Manifestation of God, His great spiritual creative force".

The imperative "Be" in the original Arabic is the word

"kun", consisting of the two letters "kaf" and "nun". They

have been translated by Shoghi Effendi in the above

manner. This word has been used in the Qur'an as God's

bidding calling creation into being.

 

189. this new World Order # 181

 

In the Persian Bayan, the Bab stated: "Well is it with him

who fixeth his gaze upon the Order of Baha'u'llah, and rendereth

thanks unto his Lord. For He will assuredly be made manifest.

God hath indeed irrevocably ordained it in the Bayan." Shoghi

Effendi identifies this "Order" with the System Baha'u'llah <p248>

envisages in the Aqdas, in which He testifies to its

revolutionizing effect on the life of humanity and reveals the

laws and principles which govern its operation.

The features of the "new World Order" are delineated in

the Writings of Baha'u'llah and Abdu'l-Baha and in the

letters of Shoghi Effendi and the Universal House of Justice.

The institutions of the present-day Baha'i Administrative

Order, which constitute the "structural basis" of Baha'u'llah's

World Order, will mature and evolve into the Baha'i

World Commonwealth. In this regard, Shoghi Effendi

affirms that the Administrative Order "will, as its

component parts, its organic institutions, begin to function

with efficiency and vigour, assert its claim and demonstrate

its capacity to be regarded not only as the nucleus but the

very pattern of the New World Order destined to embrace

in the fullness of time the whole of mankind".

For additional information on the evolution of this new

World Order, see, for example, the letters of Shoghi Effendi

published in The World Order of Baha'u'llah.

 

190. O source of perversion! # 184

 

This is a reference to Mirza Yahya, known as Subh-i-Azal

(Morning of Eternity), a younger half-brother of Baha'u'llah,

who arose against Him and opposed His Cause. Mirza

Yahya was nominated by the Bab to serve as a figure-head

for the Babi community pending the imminent manifestation

of the Promised One. At the instigation of Siyyid

Muhammad-i-Isfahani (see note 192), Mirza Yahya betrayed

the trust of the Bab, claimed to be His successor, and

intrigued against Baha'u'llah, even attempting to have Him

murdered. When Baha'u'llah formally declared His Mission

to him in Adrianople, Mirza Yahya responded by going to

the length of putting forward his own claim to be the

recipient of an independent Revelation. His pretensions

were eventually rejected by all but a few, who became

known as Azalis (see note 177). He is described by Shoghi <p249>

Effendi as the "Arch-Breaker of the Covenant of the Bab"

(see God Passes By, chapter X).

 

191. remember how We nurtured thee by day and by

night for service to the Cause # 184

 

In God Passes By, Shoghi Effendi refers to the fact that

Baha'u'llah, Who was thirteen years older than Mirza

Yahya, had counselled him and watched over his early youth

and manhood.

 

192. God hath laid hold on him who led thee

astray. # 184

 

A reference to Siyyid Muhammad-i-Isfahani, who is

described by Shoghi Effendi as the "Antichrist of the Baha'i

Revelation". He was a man of corrupt character and great

personal ambition who induced Mirza Yahya to oppose

Baha'u'llah and to claim prophethood for himself (see note

190). Although he was an adherent of Mirza Yahya, Siyyid

Muhammad was exiled with Baha'u'llah to Akka. He

continued to agitate and plot against Baha'u'llah. In

describing the circumstances of his death, Shoghi Effendi

has written in God Passes By:

 

A fresh danger now clearly threatened the life of

Baha'u'llah. Though He Himself had stringently forbidden

His followers, on several occasions, both verbally and

in writing, any retaliatory acts against their tormentors,

and had even sent back to Beirut an irresponsible Arab

convert, who had meditated avenging the wrongs

suffered by his beloved Leader, seven of the companions

clandestinely sought out and slew three of their

persecutors, among whom were Siyyid Muhammad and

Aqa Jan.

The consternation that seized an already oppressed

community was indescribable. Baha'u'llah's indignation

knew no bounds. "Were We", He thus voices His

emotions, in a Tablet revealed shortly after this act had <p250>

 

been committed, "to make mention of what befell Us, the

heavens would be rent asunder and the mountains would

crumble." "My captivity", He wrote on another occasion,

"cannot harm Me. That which can harm Me is the conduct of

those who love Me, who claim to be related to Me, and yet

perpetrate what causeth My heart and My pen to groan."

 

193. Select ye a single language ... adopt ye ... a

common script. # 189

 

Baha'u'llah enjoins the adoption of a universal language and

script. His Writings envisage two stages in this process.

The first stage is to consist of the selection of an existing

language or an invented one which would then be taught in

all the schools of the world as an auxiliary to the mother

tongues. The governments of the world through their

parliaments are called upon to effect this momentous

enactment. The second stage, in the distant future, would

be the eventual adoption of one single language and

common script for all on earth.

 

194. We have appointed two signs for the coming of

age of the human race # 189

 

The first sign of the coming of age of humanity referred to

in the Writings of Baha'u'llah is the emergence of a science

which is described as that "divine philosophy" which will

include the discovery of a radical approach to the

transmutation of elements. This is an indication of the

splendours of the future stupendous expansion of knowledge.

Concerning the "second" sign which Baha'u'llah indicates

to have been revealed in the Kitab-i-Aqdas, Shoghi

Effendi states that Baha'u'llah, "...in His Most Holy

Book, has enjoined the selection of a single language and

the adoption of a common script for all on earth to use, an

injunction which, when carried out, would, as He Himself

affirms in that Book, be one of the signs of the 'coming of age

of the human race'". <p251>

 

Further insight into this process of mankind's coming

of age and proceeding to maturity is provided by the

following statement of Baha'u'llah:

 

One of the signs of the maturity of the world is that no one will

accept to bear the weight of kingship. Kingship will remain with

none willing to bear alone its weight. That day will be the day

whereon wisdom will be manifested among mankind.

 

The coming of age of the human race has been

associated by Shoghi Effendi with the unification of the

whole of mankind, the establishment of a world commonwealth,

and an unprecedented stimulus to "the intellectual,

the moral and spiritual life of the entire human race". <p252>

 

GLOSSARY

 

Abdu'l-Baha

 

The "Servant of Baha", Abbas Effendi (1844-1921), the

eldest son and appointed Successor of Baha'u'llah, and the

Centre of His Covenant.

 

Abjad

 

The ancient Arabic system of allocating a numerical value

to letters of the alphabet, so that numbers may be

represented by letters and vice versa. Thus every word has

both a literal meaning and a numerical value.

 

Bab, The

 

Literally the "Gate", the title assumed by Mirza Ali-Muhammad

(1819-1850) after the Declaration of His

Mission in Shiraz in May 1844. He was the Founder of the

Babi Faith and the Herald of Baha'u'llah.

 

Baha

 

Baha means Glory. It is the Greatest Name of God and a

title by which Baha'u'llah is designated. Also, the name of

the first month of the Baha'i year and of the first day of each

Baha'i month.

 

Baha'u'llah

 

The "Glory of God", title of Mirza Husayn-'Ali (1817-1892),

the Founder of the Baha'i Faith.

 

Bayan

 

The Bayan ("Exposition") is the title given by the Bab to

His Book of Laws, and it is also applied to the entire body

of His Writings. The Persian Bayan is the major doctrinal

work and principal repository of the laws ordained by the

Bab. The Arabic Bayan is parallel in content but smaller <p253>

 

and less weighty. References in the annotations to subjects

found in both the Persian Bayan and the Arabic Bayan are

identified by use of the term "Bayan" without further

qualification.

 

Huququ'llah

 

The "Right of God". Instituted in the Kitab-i-Aqdas, it is

an offering made by the Baha'is through the Head of the

Faith for the purposes specified in the Baha'i Writings.

 

Mashriqu'l-Adhkar

 

Literally "the Dawning-place of the praise of God", the

designation of the Baha'i House of Worship and its

dependencies.

 

Mithqal

 

A unit of weight, equivalent to a little over 3 1/2 grammes,

used in the Kitab-i-Aqdas with reference to quantities of

gold or silver for various purposes, usually in amounts of 9,

19 or 95 mithqals. The equivalents of these in the metric

system and in troy ounces (which are used in the

measurement of precious metals), are as follows:

 

9 mithqals = 32.775 grammes = 1.05374 troy ounces

19 mithqals = 69.192 grammes = 2.22456 troy ounces

95 mithqals = 345.958 grammes = 11.12282 troy ounces

 

This computation is based on the guidance of Shoghi

Effendi, conveyed in a letter written on his behalf, which

states "one mithqal consists of nineteen nakhuds. The

weight of twenty-four nakhuds equals four and three-fifths

grammes. Calculations may be made on this basis." The

mithqal traditionally used in the Middle East had consisted

of 24 nakhuds but in the Bayan this was changed to 19

nakhuds and Baha'u'llah confirmed this as the size of the

mithqal referred to in the Baha'i laws (Q and A 23).

 

Nakhud

 

A unit of weight. See "mithqal".

 

Qayyumu'l-Asma'

 

The Bab's commentary on the Surih of Joseph in the <p254>

 

Qur'an. Revealed in 1844, this work is characterized by

Baha'u'llah as "the first, the greatest, and mightiest of all books"

in the Babi Dispensation.

 

Shoghi Effendi

 

Shoghi Effendi (1897-1957), Guardian of the Baha'i Faith

from 1921-1957. He was the eldest grandson of Abdu'l-Baha

and was appointed by Him as the Head of the Faith.

 

Siyah-Chal

 

Literally "the Black Pit". The dark, foul-smelling, subterranean

dungeon in Tihran where Baha'u'llah was

imprisoned for four months in 1852.