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Synopsis and Codification of the Laws and Ordinances of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas

Summary of Contents

I. The Appointment of 'Abdu'l-Bahá as the Successor of Bahá'u'lláh and Interpreter of His Teachings

A. Turn towards Him

B. Refer to Him

II. Anticipation of the Institution of the Guardianship

III. The Institution of the House of Justice

IV. Laws, Ordinances and Exhortations

A. Prayer

B. Fasting

C. Laws of Personal Status

D. Miscellaneous Laws, Ordinances and Exhortations

V. Specific Admonitions, Reproofs and Warnings

VI. Miscellaneous Subjects

Synopsis and Codification

I. The Appointment of 'Abdu'l-Bahá as the Successor of Bahá'u'lláh and Interpreter of His Teachings

A. The faithful are enjoined to turn their faces towards the One "Whom God hath purposed, Who hath branched from this Ancient Root".

B. The faithful are bidden to refer whatsoever they do not understand in the Bahá'í writings to "Him Who hath branched from this mighty Stock".

II. Anticipation of the Institution of the Guardianship

III. The Institution of the House of Justice

A. The House of Justice is formally ordained.

B. Its functions are defined.

C. Its revenues are fixed.

IV. Laws, Ordinances and Exhortations

A. Prayer

1. The sublime station occupied by the Obligatory Prayers in the Bahá'í Revelation.

2. The Qiblih:

a. Identified by the Báb with "the One Whom God will make manifest".

b. The appointment made by the Báb is confirmed by Bahá'u'lláh.

c. Bahá'u'lláh ordains His resting-place as the Qiblih after His passing.

d. Turning to the Qiblih is mandatory while reciting the Obligatory Prayers.

3. The Obligatory Prayers are binding on men and women on attaining the age of maturity, which is fixed at 15.

4. Exemption from offering the Obligatory Prayers is granted to:

a. Those who are ill.

b. Those who are over 70.

c. Women in their courses provided they perform their ablutions and repeat a specifically revealed verse 95 times a day.

5. The Obligatory Prayers should be offered individually.

6. The choice of one of the three Obligatory Prayers is permissible.

7. By "morning", "noon" and "evening", mentioned in connection with the Obligatory Prayers, is meant respectively the intervals between sunrise and noon, between noon and sunset, and from sunset till two hours after sunset.

8. The recital of the first (long) Obligatory Prayer, once in twenty-four hours is sufficient.

9. It is preferable to offer the third (short) Obligatory Prayer while standing.

10. Ablutions:

a. Ablutions must precede the recital of the Obligatory Prayers.

b. For every Obligatory Prayer fresh ablutions must be performed.

c. Should two Obligatory Prayers be offered at noon one ablution for both prayers is sufficient.

d. If water is unavailable or its use harmful to the face or hands, the repetition, five times, of a specifically revealed verse is prescribed.

e. Should the weather be too cold the use of warm water is recommended.

f. If ablutions have been performed for other purposes, their renewal prior to the recital of the Obligatory Prayer is not required.

g. Ablutions are essential whether a bath has been taken previously or not.

11. Determining the times fixed for Prayer:

a. Reliance on clocks is permissible in determining the times for offering the Obligatory Prayers.

b. In countries situated in the extreme north or south, where the duration of days and nights varies considerably, clocks and timepieces should be relied upon, without reference to sunrise or sunset.

12. In case of danger, whether when travelling or not, for every Obligatory Prayer not offered a prostration and the recital of a specific verse is enjoined, to be followed by the repetition, eighteen times, of another specific verse.

13. Congregational prayer is forbidden except the Prayer for the Dead.

14. The recital, in its entirety, of the Prayer for the Dead is prescribed except for those unable to read, who are commanded to repeat the six specific passages in that Prayer.

15. The Obligatory Prayer to be thrice repeated, three times a day, at morn, noon and evening, has been superseded by three Obligatory Prayers subsequently revealed.

16. The Prayer of the Signs has been annulled, and a specifically revealed verse substituted for it. The recital of this verse is not however obligatory.

17. Hair, sable, bones and the like do not nullify one's prayer.

B. Fasting

1. The sublime station occupied by fasting in the Bahá'í Revelation.

2. The period of fasting commences with the termination of the Intercalary Days, and ends with the Naw-Rúz Festival.

3. Abstinence from food and drink, from sunrise to sunset, is obligatory.

4. Fasting is binding on men and women on attaining the age of maturity, which is fixed at 15.

5. Exemption from fasting is granted to:

a. Travellers

i. Provided the journey exceeds 9 hours.

ii. Those travelling on foot, provided the journey exceeds 2 hours.

iii. Those who break their journey for less than 19 days.

iv. Those who break their journey during the Fast at a place where they are to stay 19 days are exempt from fasting only for the first three days from their arrival.

v. Those who reach home during the Fast must commence fasting from the day of their arrival.

b. Those who are ill.

c. Those who are over 70.

d. Women who are with child.

e. Women who are nursing.

f. Women in their courses, provided they perform their ablutions and repeat a specifically revealed verse 95 times a day.

g. Those who are engaged in heavy labour, who are advised to show respect for the law by using discretion and restraint when availing themselves of the exemption.

6. Vowing to fast (in a month other than the one prescribed for fasting) is permissible. Vows which profit mankind are however preferable in the sight of God.

C. Laws of Personal Status

1. Marriage:

a. Marriage is highly recommended but not obligatory.

b. Plurality of wives is forbidden.

c. Marriage is conditioned upon both parties having attained the age of maturity which is fixed at 15.

d. Marriage is conditioned on the consent of both parties and their parents, whether the woman be a maiden or not.

e. It is incumbent upon both parties to recite a specifically revealed verse indicating their being content with the will of God.

f. Marriage with one's stepmother is forbidden.

g. All matters related to marriage with one's kindred are to be referred to the House of Justice.

h. Marriage with unbelievers is permitted.

i. Betrothal:

i. The period of engagement must not exceed 95 days.

ii. It is unlawful to become engaged to a girl before she reaches the age of maturity.

j. The Dowry:

i. Marriage is conditioned on payment of a dowry.

ii. The dowry is fixed at 19 mithqáls of pure gold for city-dwellers, and 19 mithqáls of silver for village-dwellers, depending on the permanent residence of the husband, and not of the wife.

iii. It is forbidden to pay more than 95 mithqáls.

iv. It is preferable that a man content himself with the payment of 19 mithqáls of silver.

v. If the full payment of dowry is not possible the issue of a promissory note is permissible.

k. Should either party, following the recital of the specifically revealed verse and the payment of the dowry, take a dislike to the other before the marriage is consummated, the period of waiting is not necessary prior to a divorce. The taking back of the dowry, however, is not permitted.

l. The husband must fix for his wife the time of his return when intending to travel. If, for a legitimate reason, he is prevented from returning at the appointed time, he must inform her and strive to return to her. If he fails to fulfil either condition, she must wait 9 months, after which she may remarry, though it is preferable for her to wait longer. If news of his death or murder reaches her, and the news is confirmed by general report or by 2 reliable witnesses, she may remarry after the lapse of 9 months.

m. If the husband departs without informing his wife of the date of his return, and is aware of the law prescribed in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, the wife may remarry after waiting a full year. If the husband is unaware of this law, the wife must wait until news of her husband reaches her.

n. Should the husband, after the payment of the dowry, discover that the wife is not a virgin, the refund of the dowry and of the expenses incurred may be demanded.

o. If the marriage has been conditioned on virginity the refund of the dowry and of the expenses incurred may be demanded and the marriage invalidated. To conceal the matter, however, is highly meritorious in the sight of God.

2. Divorce:

a. Divorce is strongly condemned.

b. If antipathy or resentment develop on the part of either the husband or the wife, divorce is permissible, only after the lapse of one full year. The beginning and end of the year of waiting must be testified by two or more witnesses. The act of divorce should be registered by the judicial officer representing the House of Justice. Intercourse during this period of waiting is forbidden, and whoever breaks this law must repent and pay the House of Justice 19 mithqáls of gold.

c. A further period of waiting after divorce has taken place is not required.

d. The wife who is to be divorced as a result of her unfaithfulness forfeits the payment of the expenses during the waiting period.

e. Remarrying the wife whom one has divorced is permissible, provided she has not married another person. If she has, she must be divorced before her former husband can remarry her.

f. If at any time during the waiting period affection should recur, the marriage tie is valid. If this reconciliation is followed by estrangement and divorce is again desired, a new year of waiting will have to be commenced.

g. Should differences arise between husband and wife while travelling, he is required to send her home, or entrust her to a dependable person, who will escort her there, paying her journey and her full year's expenses.

h. Should a wife insist on divorcing her husband rather than migrate to another country, the year of waiting is to be counted from the time they separate, either while he is preparing to leave, or upon his departure.

i. The Islamic law regarding remarriage with the wife whom one has previously divorced is abrogated.

3. Inheritance: [the method of dividing the estate is to be applied in cases of intestacy. See item o. in this section]

a. Inheritance falls into the following categories:

1. children: 1,080 out of 2,520 shares
2. husband or wife: 390 out of 2,520 shares
3. father: 330 out of 2,520 shares
4. mother: 270 out of 2,520 shares
5. brother: 210 out of 2,520 shares
6. sister: 150 out of 2,520 shares
7. teacher: 90 out of 2,520 shares

b. The share of the children, as allotted by the Báb, is doubled by Bahá'u'lláh, and an equal portion correspondingly reduced from each of the remaining beneficiaries.


i. In cases where there is no issue the share of the children reverts to the House of Justice to be expended on orphans and widows and for whatever will profit mankind.

ii. If the son of the deceased be dead and leave issue, these will inherit the share of their father. If the daughter of the deceased be dead and leave issue, her share will have to be divided into the seven categories specified in the Most Holy Book.

d. Should one leave offspring but either part or all of the other categories of inheritors be nonexistent, two thirds of their shares reverts to the offspring and one third to the House of Justice.

e. Should none of the specified beneficiaries exist, two thirds of the inheritance reverts to the nephews and nieces of the deceased. If these do not exist, the same share reverts to the aunts and uncles; lacking these, to their sons and daughters. In any case the remaining third reverts to the House of Justice.

f. Should one leave none of the aforementioned heirs, the entire inheritance reverts to the House of Justice.

g. The residence and the personal clothing of the deceased father pass to the male not to the female offspring. If there be several residences 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. If there be no male offspring two thirds of the principal residence and the personal clothing of the deceased father will revert to the female issue and one third to the House of Justice. In the case of the deceased mother 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.

h. Should the children of the deceased be minors their share should either be entrusted to a reliable person or to a company for purposes of investment, until they attain the age of maturity. A share of the interest accrued should be assigned to the trustee.

i. The inheritance should not be divided until after the payment of the Huqúqu'lláh (The Right of God), of any debts contracted by the deceased and of any expenses incurred for a befitting funeral and burial.

j. If the brother of the deceased is from the same father he will inherit his full allotted share. If he is from another father he will inherit only two thirds of his share, the remaining one third reverting to the House of Justice. The same law is applicable to the sister of the deceased.

k. In case there are full brothers or full sisters, brothers and sisters from the mother's side do not inherit.

l. A non-Bahá'í teacher does not inherit. If there should be more than one teacher, the share allotted to the teacher is to be equally divided among them.

m. Non-Bahá'í heirs do not inherit.

n. Aside from the wife's used clothing and gifts of jewellery or otherwise which have been proven to have been given her by her husband, whatever the husband has purchased for his wife are to be considered as the husband's possessions to be divided among his heirs.

o. Any person is at liberty to will his possessions as he sees fit provided he makes provisions for the payment of Huqúqu'lláh and the discharge of his debts.

D. Miscellaneous Laws, Ordinances and Exhortations

1. Miscellaneous Laws and Ordinances:

a. Pilgrimage

b. Huqúqu'lláh

c. Endowments

d. The Mashriqu'l-Adhkár

e. Duration of the Bahá'í Dispensation

f. Bahá'í Festivals

g. The Nineteen Day Feast

h. The Bahá'í Year

i. The Intercalary Days

j. The age of maturity

k. Burial of the dead

l. Engaging in a trade or profession is made obligatory and is exalted to the rank of worship

m. Obedience to government

n. Education of children

o. The writing of a testament

p. Tithes (Zakát)

q. Repetition of the Greatest Name 95 times a day

r. The hunting of animals

s. Treatment of female servants

t. The finding of lost property

u. Disposition of treasure trove

v. Disposal of objects held in trust

w. Manslaughter

x. Definition of just witnesses

y. Prohibitions:

i. Interpretation of the Holy Writ

ii. Slave trading

iii. Asceticism

iv. Monasticism

v. Mendicancy

vi. Priesthood

vii. Use of pulpits

viii. The kissing of hands

ix. Confession of sins

x. Plurality of wives

xi. Intoxicating drinks

xii. Opium

xiii. Gambling

xiv. Arson

xv. Adultery

xvi. Murder

xvii. Theft

xviii. Homosexuality

xix. Congregational prayer, except for the dead

xx. Cruelty to animals

xxi. Idleness and sloth

xxii. Backbiting

xxiii. Calumny

xxiv. Carrying arms unless essential

xxv. Use of public pools in Persian baths

xxvi. Entering a house without the owner's permission

xxvii. Striking or wounding a person

xxviii. Contention and conflict

xxix. Muttering sacred verses in the street

xxx. Plunging one's hand in food

xxxi. Shaving one's head

xxxii. Growth of men's hair beyond the lobe of the ear

2. Abrogation of specific laws and ordinances of previous Dispensations, which prescribed:

a. Destruction of books

b. Prohibition of the wearing of silk

c. Prohibition of the use of gold and silver utensils

d. Limitation of travel

e. Offering priceless gifts to the Founder of the Faith

f. Prohibition on questioning the Founder of the Faith

g. Prohibition against remarrying one's divorced wife

h. Penalizing whoever causes sadness to his neighbour

i. Prohibition of music

j. Limitations upon one's apparel and beard

k. Uncleanliness of divers objects and peoples

l. Uncleanliness of semen

m. Uncleanliness of certain objects for purposes of prostration

3. Miscellaneous Exhortations:

a. To associate with the followers of all religions with fellowship

b. To honour one's parents

c. Not to wish for others what one does not wish for one's self

d. To teach and propagate the Faith after the ascension of its Founder

e. To assist those who arise to promote the Faith

f. Not to depart from the Writings or to be misled by those who do

g. To refer to the Holy Writ when differences arise

h. To immerse one's self in the study of the Teachings

i. Not to follow one's idle fancies and vain imaginations

j. To recite the holy verses at morn and at eventide

k. To recite the holy verses melodiously

l. To teach one's children to chant the holy verses in the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár

m. To study such arts and sciences as benefit mankind

n. To take counsel together

o. Not to be indulgent in carrying out the statutes of God

p. To repent to God of one's sins

q. To distinguish one's self through good deeds

i. To be truthful

ii. To be trustworthy

iii. To be faithful

iv. To be righteous and fear God

v. To be just and fair

vi. To be tactful and wise

vii. To be courteous

viii. To be hospitable

ix. To be persevering

x. To be detached

xi. To be absolutely submissive to the Will of God

xii. Not to stir up mischief

xiii. Not to be hypocritical

xiv. Not to be proud

xv. Not to be fanatical

xvi. Not to prefer one's self to one's neighbour

xvii. Not to contend with one's neighbour

xviii. Not to indulge one's passions

xix. Not to lament in adversity

xx. Not to contend with those in authority

xxi. Not to lose one's temper

xxii. Not to anger one's neighbour

r. To be closely united

s. To consult competent physicians when ill

t. To respond to invitations

u. To show kindness to the kindred of the Founder of the Faith

v. To study languages for the furtherance of the Faith

w. To further the development of cities and countries for the glorification of the Faith

x. To restore and preserve the sites associated with the Founders of the Faith

y. To be the essence of cleanliness:

i. To wash one's feet

ii. To perfume one's self

iii. To bathe in clean water

iv. To cut one's nails

v. To wash soiled things in clean water

vi. To be stainless in one's dress

vii. To renew the furnishings of one's house

V. Specific Admonitions, Reproofs and Warnings

Addressed to:

1. The entire human race

2. Crowned heads of the world

3. The concourse of ecclesiastics

4. The Rulers of America and Presidents of the Republics therein

5. William I, King of Prussia

6. Francis Joseph, Emperor of Austria

7. The people of the Bayán

8. Members of parliaments throughout the world

VI. Miscellaneous Subjects

1. The transcendent character of the Bahá'í Revelation

2. The exalted station of the Author of the Faith

3. The supreme importance of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, "The Most Holy Book"

4. The doctrine of the "Most Great Infallibility"

5. The twin duties of recognition of the Manifestation and observance of His Laws, and their inseparability

6. The end of all learning is the recognition of Him Who is the Object of all knowledge

7. The blessedness of those who have recognized the fundamental verity "He shall not be asked of His doings"

8. The revolutionizing effect of the "Most Great Order"

9. The selection of a single language and the adoption of a common script for all on earth to use: one of two signs of the maturity of the human race

10. Prophecies of the Báb regarding "He Whom God will make manifest"

11. Prediction relating to opposition to the Faith

12. Eulogy of the king who will profess the Faith and arise to serve it

13. The instability of human affairs

14. The meaning of true liberty

15. The merit of all deeds is dependent upon God's acceptance

16. The importance of love for God as the motive of obedience to His Laws

17. The importance of utilizing material means

18. Eulogy of the learned among the people of Bahá

19. Assurance of forgiveness to Mírzá Yahyá should he repent

20. Apostrophe addressed to Tihrán

21. Apostrophe addressed to Constantinople and its people

22. Apostrophe addressed to the "banks of the Rhine"

23. Condemnation of those who lay false claim to esoteric knowledge

24. Condemnation of those who allow pride in their learning to debar them from God

25. Prophecies relating to Khurásán

26. Prophecies relating to Kirmán

27. Allusion to Shaykh Ahmad-i-Ahsá'í

28. Allusion to the Sifter of Wheat

29. Condemnation of Hájí Muhammad-Karím Khán

30. Condemnation of Shaykh Muhammad-Hasan

31. Allusion to Napoleon III

32. Allusion to Siyyid Muhammad-i-Isfahání

33. Assurance of aid to all those who arise to serve the Faith

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