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Synopsis And Codification Of The Laws And Ordinances Of The Kitab-i-aqdas


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A Description Of The Kitab-i-aqdas By Shoghi Effendi

Taken from _God Passes By_, His History of the First Baha'i Century

Unique and stupendous as was this Proclamation, it proved to be but a
prelude to a still mightier revelation of the creative power of its
Author, and to what may well rank as the most signal act of His
ministry--the promulgation of the Kitab-i-Aqdas. Alluded to in the
Kitab-i-Iqan, the principal repository of that Law which the Prophet
Isaiah had anticipated, and which the writer of the Apocalypse had
described as the new heaven and the new earth, as the Tabernacle of
God, as the Holy City, as the Bride, the New Jerusalem coming down
from God, this Most Holy Book, whose provisions must remain inviolate
for no less than a thousand years, and whose system will embrace the
entire planet, may well be regarded as the brightest emanation of the mind
of Baha'u'llah, as the Mother Book of His Dispensation, and the Charter of
His New World Order.

Revealed soon after Baha'u'llah had been transferred to the house of Udi
KHammar (circa 1873), at a time when He was still encompassed by the
tribulations that had afflicted Him, through the acts committed by His
enemies and the professed adherents of His Faith, this Book, this treasury
enshrining the priceless gems of His Revelation, stands out, by virtue of
the principles it inculcates, the administrative institutions it ordains
and the function with which it invests the appointed Successor of its
Author, unique and incomparable among the world's sacred Scriptures. For,
unlike the Old Testament and the Holy Books which preceded it, in which
the actual precepts uttered by the Prophet Himself are non-existent;
unlike the Gospels, in which the few sayings attributed to Jesus Christ
afford no clear guidance regarding the future administration of the
affairs of His Faith; unlike even the Qur'an which, though explicit in the
laws and ordinances formulated by the Apostle of God, is silent on the
all-important subject of the succession, the Kitab-i-Aqdas, revealed from
first to last by the Author of the Dispensation Himself, not only
preserves for posterity the basic laws and ordinances on which the fabric
of His future World Order must rest, but ordains, in addition to the
function of interpretation which it confers upon His Successor, the
necessary institutions through which the integrity and unity of His Faith
can alone be safeguarded.

In this Charter of the future world civilization its Author--at once the
Judge, the Lawgiver, the Unifier and Redeemer of mankind--announces to the
kings of the earth the promulgation of the Most Great Law; pronounces
them to be His vassals; proclaims Himself the King of Kings; disclaims
any intention of laying hands on their kingdoms; reserves for Himself the
right to seize and possess the hearts of men; warns the world's
ecclesiastical leaders not to weigh the Book of God with such standards
as are current amongst them; and affirms that the Book itself is the
Unerring Balance established amongst men. In it He formally ordains the
institution of the House of Justice, defines its functions, fixes its
revenues, and designates its members as the Men of Justice, the
Deputies of God, the Trustees of the All-Merciful; alludes to the
future Centre of His Covenant, and invests Him with the right of
interpreting His holy Writ; anticipates by implication the institution of
Guardianship; bears witness to the revolutionizing effect of His World
Order; enunciates the doctrine of the Most Great Infallibility of the
Manifestation of God; asserts this infallibility to be the inherent and
exclusive right of the Prophet; and rules out the possibility of the
appearance of another Manifestation ere the lapse of at least one thousand

In this Book He, moreover, prescribes the obligatory prayers; designates
the time and period of fasting; prohibits congregational prayer except for
the dead; fixes the Qiblih; institutes the Huququ'llah (Right of God);
formulates the law of inheritance; ordains the institution of the
Mas{}h{}riqu'l-Adhkar; establishes the Nineteen Day Feast, the Baha'i
festivals and the Intercalary Days; abolishes the institution of
priesthood; prohibits slavery, asceticism, mendicancy, monasticism,
penance, the use of pulpits and the kissing of hands; prescribes monogamy;
condemns cruelty to animals, idleness and sloth, backbiting and calumny;
censures divorce; interdicts gambling, the use of opium, wine and other
intoxicating drinks; specifies the punishments for murder, arson, adultery
and theft; stresses the importance of marriage and lays down its essential
conditions; imposes the obligation of engaging in some trade or
profession, exalting such occupation to the rank of worship; emphasizes
the necessity of providing the means for the education of children; and
lays upon every person the duty of writing a testament and of strict
obedience to one's government.

Apart from these provisions Baha'u'llah exhorts His followers to consort,
with amity and concord and without discrimination, with the adherents of
all religions; warns them to guard against fanaticism, sedition, pride,
dispute and contention; inculcates upon them immaculate cleanliness,
strict truthfulness, spotless chastity, trustworthiness, hospitality,
fidelity, courtesy, forbearance, justice and fairness; counsels them to be
even as the fingers of one hand and the limbs of one body; calls upon
them to arise and serve His Cause; and assures them of His undoubted aid.
He, furthermore, dwells upon the instability of human affairs; declares
that true liberty consists in man's submission to His commandments;
cautions them not to be indulgent in carrying out His statutes; prescribes
the twin inseparable duties of recognizing the Dayspring of God's
Revelation and of observing all the ordinances revealed by Him, neither
of which, He affirms, is acceptable without the other.

The significant summons issued to the Presidents of the Republics of the
American continent to seize their opportunity in the Day of God and to
champion the cause of justice; the injunction to the members of
parliaments throughout the world, urging the adoption of a universal
script and language; His warnings to William I, the conqueror of Napoleon
III; the reproof He administers to Francis Joseph, the Emperor of Austria;
His reference to the lamentations of Berlin in His apostrophe to the
banks of the Rhine; His condemnation of the throne of tyranny
established in Constantinople, and His prediction of the extinction of its
outward splendour and of the tribulations destined to overtake its
inhabitants; the words of cheer and comfort He addresses to His native
city, assuring her that God had chosen her to be the source of the joy of
all mankind; His prophecy that the voice of the heroes of Khurasan
will be raised in glorification of their Lord; His assertion that men
endued with mighty valour will be raised up in Kirman who will make
mention of Him; and finally, His magnanimous assurance to a perfidious
brother who had afflicted Him with such anguish, that an ever-forgiving,
all-bounteous God would forgive him his iniquities were he only to
repent--all these further enrich the contents of a Book designated by its
Author as the source of true felicity, as the Unerring Balance, as the
Straight Path and as the quickener of mankind.

The laws and ordinances that constitute the major theme of this Book,
Baha'u'llah, moreover, has specifically characterized as the breath of
life unto all created things, as the mightiest stronghold, as the
fruits of His Tree, as the highest means for the maintenance of order
in the world and the security of its peoples, as the lamps of His wisdom
and loving-providence, as the sweet-smelling savour of His garment, and
the keys of His mercy to His creatures. This Book, He Himself
testifies, is a heaven which We have adorned with the stars of Our
commandments and prohibitions. Blessed the man, He, moreover, has
stated, who will read it, and ponder the verses sent down in it by God,
the Lord of Power, the Almighty. Say, O men! Take hold of it with the hand
of resignation... By My life! It hath been sent down in a manner that
amazeth the minds of men. Verily, it is My weightiest testimony unto all
people, and the proof of the All-Merciful unto all who are in heaven and
all who are on earth. And again: Blessed the palate that savoureth its
sweetness, and the perceiving eye that recognizeth that which is treasured
therein, and the understanding heart that comprehendeth its allusions and
mysteries. By God! Such is the majesty of what hath been revealed therein,
and so tremendous the revelation of its veiled allusions that the loins of
utterance shake when attempting their description. And finally: In such
a manner hath the Kitab-i-Aqdas been revealed that it attracteth and
embraceth all the divinely appointed Dispensations. Blessed those who
peruse it! Blessed those who apprehend it! Blessed those who meditate upon
it! Blessed those who ponder its meaning! So vast is its range that it
hath encompassed all men ere their recognition of it. Erelong will its
sovereign power, its pervasive influence and the greatness of its might be
manifested on earth.

Next: The Kitab-i-aqdas

Previous: Introduction

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