'The Doors of Majesty...Were Flung Wide Open'

Nowhere were the evidences of the rising prestige of the Faith more evident than in the Holy Land itself where the sun of Bahá was shining in meridian splendour. The community of the Most Great Name in that land was enjoying the benefits of a freedom and prestige unprecedented in former times. The person of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, the Master, the guide and refuge of friend and foe alike, 'the stainless mirror of His light', and 'the perfect Exemplar of His teachings', was at this period at the pinnacle of public adoration and respect. Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith, writes concerning this:

'Abdu'l-Bahá's visit to Beirut, at the invitation of Midhát Páshá, a former Grand Vizir of Turkey, occurring about this time; His association with the civil and ecclesiastical leaders of that city; His several interviews with the well-known Shaykh Muhammad 'Abdú served to enhance immensely the growing prestige of the community and spread abroad the fame of its most distinguished member. The splendid welcome accorded him by the learned and highly esteemed Shaykh Yúsuf, the Muftí of Nazareth, who acted as host to the válís of Beirut, and who had despatched all the notables of the community several miles on the road to meet Him as He approached the town, accompanied by His brother and the Muftí of 'Akká, as well as the magnificent reception given by 'Abdu'l-Bahá to that same Shaykh Yúsuf when the latter visited Him in 'Akká, were such as to arouse the envy of those who, only a few years before, had

treated Him and His fellow-exiles with feelings compounded of condescension and scorn.1

The visit of 'Abdu'l-Bahá to Beirut in 1879 at the invitation of the Governor of the Province of Syria was a significant event. It clearly demonstrated that the edict of the Sultán condemning Bahá'u'lláh and His companions to life imprisonment within the citadel of 'Akká had become irrelevant. It also enabled some outstanding personalities such as Shaykh Muhammad 'Abdú', who later became the Grand Muftí of Egypt, to come into contact with the magnetic personality of 'Abdu'l-Bahá and become one of his ardent admirers. This great man was so fascinated by the Master's qualities and divine virtues that he wanted to travel with Him to 'Akká, a decision that 'Abdu'l-Bahá was able to cancel.

It was on this occasion of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's visit to Beirut that Bahá'u'lláh revealed the Lawh-i-Ard-i-Bá (Tablet of the Land of Bá, Beirut). Here is the full text of this glorious Tablet extolling the station of the Master, the Centre of the Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh.

Praise be to Him Who hath honoured the Land of Bá through the presence of Him round Whom all names revolve. All the atoms of the earth have announced unto all created things that from behind the gate of the Prison-city there hath appeared and above its horizon there hath shone forth the Orb of the beauty of the great, the Most Mighty Branch of God--His ancient and immutable Mystery--proceeding on its way to another land. Sorrow, thereby, hath enveloped this Prison-city, whilst another land rejoiceth. Exalted, immeasurably exalted is our Lord, the Fashioner of the heavens and the Creator of all things, He through Whose sovereignty the doors of the prison were opened, thereby causing what was promised aforetime in the Tablets to be fulfilled. He is verily potent over what He willeth, and in His grasp is the dominion of the entire creation. He is the All-Powerful, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise.

Blessed, doubly blessed, is the ground which His footsteps have trodden, the eye that hath been cheered by the beauty of


1. God Passes By, p. 193.
His countenance, the ear that hath been honoured by hearkening to His call, the heart that hath tasted the sweetness of His love, the breast that hath dilated through His remembrance, the pen that hath voiced His praise, the scroll that hath borne the testimony of His writings. We beseech God--blessed and exalted be He--that He may honour us with meeting Him soon. He is, in truth, the All-Hearing, the All-Powerful, He Who is ready to answer.2
The Magnanimity of Bahá'u'lláh

The high esteem and veneration in which 'Abdu'l-Bahá was held throughout the Holy Land during this period was a reflection of the majesty of Bahá'u'lláh whom the population had come to regard as a person with superhuman powers and whom they referred to as the 'august leader'. Concerning the influence He exerted on the people of Palestine and the evidences of His spiritual power, Shoghi Effendi writes:

The drastic farmán of Sultán 'Abdu'l-'Azíz, though officially unrepealed, had by now become a dead letter. Though Bahá'u'lláh was still nominally a prisoner, 'the doors of majesty and true sovereignty were', in the words of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, 'flung wide open'. 'The rulers of Palestine', He moreover has written, 'envied His influence and power. Governors and mutisarrifs, generals and local officials, would humbly request the honor of attaining His presence--a request to which He seldom acceded...'

'Sultán 'Abdu'l-'Azíz', Bahá'u'lláh is reported by one of His fellow-exiles to have stated, 'banished Us to this country in the greatest abasement, and since his object was to destroy Us and humble Us, whenever the means of glory and ease presented themselves, We did not reject them.' 'Now, praise be to God,' He, moreover, as reported by Nabíl in his narrative, once remarked, 'it has reached the point when all the people of these regions are manifesting their submissiveness unto Us.' And again, as recorded in that same narrative: 'The Ottoman Sultán, without any justification, or reason, arose to oppress Us, and sent Us to the fortress of 'Akká. His imperial farmán


2. Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 227-8.
decreed that none should associate with Us, and that We should become the object of the hatred of every one. The Hand of Divine power, therefore, swiftly avenged Us. It first loosed the winds of destruction upon his two irreplaceable ministers and confidants, 'Alí and Fu'ád, after which that Hand was stretched out to roll up the panoply of 'Azíz himself, and to seize him, as He only can seize, Who is the Mighty, the Strong.'

'His enemies', 'Abdu'l-Bahá, referring to this same theme, has written, 'intended that His imprisonment should completely destroy and annihilate the blessed Cause, but this prison was, in reality, of the greatest assistance, and became the means of its development.' '...This illustrious Being,' He, moreover, has affirmed, 'uplifted His Cause in the Most Great Prison. From this Prison His light was shed abroad; His fame conquered the world, and the proclamation of His glory reached the East and the West.' 'His light at first had been a star; now it became a mighty sun.' 'Until our time,' He, moreover, has affirmed, 'no such thing has ever occurred.'

Little wonder that, in view of so remarkable a reversal in the circumstances attending the twenty-four years of His banishment to 'Akká, Bahá'u'lláh Himself should have penned these weighty words: 'The Almighty...hath transformed this Prison-House into the Most Exalted Paradise, the Heaven of Heavens.' 3

During His stay in the Mansion of Bahjí, Bahá'u'lláh often visited 'Akká and, sometimes, its neighbouring villages. On all these occasions people spontaneously bowed before Him with the utmost reverence whenever He appeared in public.* On His visits to 'Akká He usually stayed at the House of 'Abbúd, and occasionally the homes of His brothers, Mírzá Músá entitled Áqáy-i-Kalím, or Mírzá Muhammad-Qulí. In one of His Tablets4 revealed in the home of Áqáy-i-Kalím situated in close proximity to the Súq-i-Abyad (the White Market), Bahá'u'lláh states that on that occasion He had stayed eight days and nine nights in that house as a bounty on His part. During this period

* An example of this reverence is given in vol. 2, pp. 11-12.

3. God Passes By, pp. 193, 195-6.

4. Unpublished compilation in the handwriting of Zaynu'l-Muqarrabín.

Bahá'u'lláh permitted all the believers to attain His presence. Each day and night these lovers of His Beauty sat in His presence spellbound by His utterances and were exhilarated by the outpouring of His loving favours. In this Tablet Bahá'u'lláh prays for His loved ones who had attained His presence in that house. He prays that their hearts may be illumined, their souls sanctified from all attachments save Him, and their steps made firm so that they may remain steadfast and arise to serve His Cause. He also showers His infinite bestowals and blessings upon Áqáy-i-Kalím who had served His Lord with the utmost devotion and love during those days.

Hájí Muhammad-Táhir-i-Málmírí has described the following episode in his memoirs:

One evening when the Blessed Beauty was staying in the home of Jináb-i-Kalím, He was pacing up and down the courtyard and I was busy watering the small garden with a watering can. His blessed Person came to me, reached for my shawl* which was loosely tied around my waist, and said, 'This is loose, a Bábí ought to gird up his loins!' He then stood beside me for a short while and uttered words of loving-kindness to me.
This is an example of how Bahá'u'lláh always made His loved ones feel easy in His presence.

When on a visit to 'Akká, Bahá'u'lláh occasionally visited the homes of His companions. This was a great honour that He bestowed on His loved ones. The same Hájí Muhammad-Táhir has recorded the following story:

My residence, together with that of Nabíl-i-A'zam, was close to the home of Áqáy-i-Kalím which was situated in the Súq-i-Abyad. Since I used to bid beads† quite frequently, one day Nabíl seized my prayer beads and hung them high up from the ceiling so that I could not reach them. That day I was staying

* Persian men usually wore long garments over which they tied a wide shawl around their waist.

† It was a custom among the Persians to choose at random a number of beads, and by counting them in a certain manner determine which course of action would be best to follow in a given situation. (A.T.)

in his room as his guest when the Blessed Beauty arrived and honoured us with His presence. He asked Nabíl in an amused tone, 'Whose prayer beads are those that you have imprisoned here?' Nabíl said, 'They belong to Áqá Táhir...'
Remarks such as this on trivial matters always helped the believers to feel relaxed in Bahá'u'lláh's presence. Otherwise no one could have uttered one word when standing face to face with the One whom he knew to be the Supreme Manifestation of God. Bahá'u'lláh enjoyed humour; indeed, one of the attributes of God is 'Humorist'. Sometimes Bahá'u'lláh would make humorous remarks to His companions, some of whom were well able to reciprocate in their humble way. Notable among His companions who had a great sense of humour were Zaynu'l-Muqarrabín and Mishkín-Qalam.* There was also Mírzá Ja'far-i-Yazdí.

Husayn-i-Áshchí† has recounted many stories about some of Bahá'u'lláh's humorous conversations with Mírzá Ja'far, who was working as a servant in Bahá'u'lláh's household. He was an erudite and learned divine from Yazd, and had been an outstanding mujtahid (doctor of Islámic law) in that city. When He embraced the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh, He renounced his high office, went to Baghdád, discarded his priestly attire and became a servant in the household of Bahá'u'lláh. He accompanied Him in His exiles and was engaged in service until the end of his life.‡ The following is a summary of Husayn-i-Áshchí's memoirs:

The Blessed Beauty used to spend much of His time in the countryside...From the mansion of Bahjí He often went to the Mansion of Mazra'ih, to the garden of Junaynih§ and the Garden of Ridván. On these occasions He spoke to the believers with delightful humour...Mírzá Ja'far was a high-ranking mujtahid...but was working as a domestic servant

* For a brief account of their lives see vol. 1, pp. 25-6 and 26-8.

† He was a cook in the household of Bahá'u'lláh. For further information see vol. 2, pp. 169 and 404.

‡ For further information, and the story of his revival after death, see vol. 1, p. 290.

§ Situated on the north side of 'Akká. (A.T.)

[Ridván] The Kitáb-i-Aqdas; The Kitáb-i-Íqán; Prayers and Meditations, p. 6; Gleanings From The Writings Of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 31; The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 1, 2, 3, 4
...One day the Muftí of 'Akká, Shaykh 'Alíy-i-Mírí attained the presence of Bahá'u'lláh in the Mansion of Bahjí and was seeking enlightenment on some religious subjects. Mírzá Ja'far was also there attending to his domestic work. Bahá'u'lláh called him in and said, 'Come and answer the questions of the Muftí.' He resolved the questions so well that the Muftí was surprised at the extent of his knowledge and learning...Bahá'u'lláh often made humorous remarks to Mírzá Ja'far and he usually responded wittily. One day He said to him jokingly, 'Jináb-i-Mujtahid (your excellency, the Mujtahid) do you wish me to reveal to you some of your bad qualities?' Mírzá Ja'far's prompt reply was, 'No thank you.' His response, full of wit and humour, delighted the heart of Bahá'u'lláh.

There is an interesting story about Mírzá Ja'far in the early days of the Faith in Yazd. Hájí Muhammad-Táhir-i-Málmírí has recorded this in his memoirs:

Áqá Mírzá Ja'far was an erudite divine of Islám. In his youth, he taught at a theological school...He left the school altogether when he embraced the Cause and became a very steadfast believer. In those days, the Ancient Beauty was in Baghdád. Knowing that He was living an austere life in that city, Mírzá Ja'far wished to provide some funds for the relief of His blessed Person. In the end he came up with a plan. There were many vases and other ornaments made of copper in the mosques of Yazd. He used to go to a mosque at night, climb to the upper chambers, dismantle the ornamental copper vessels which were hanging from the ceiling, and take them home. Little by little he stole similar vessels from several mosques. In the end he gathered nearly half a ton of these copper items...He then transported them to Ardikán* to the home of a certain Ustád Kázim, an ironmonger. There he cut the copper articles to pieces and eventually succeeded in selling the metal for seventy túmáns† in silver coins. He placed the silver inside a specially made leather cummerbund, tied it around his waist and set off on his journey on foot to

* A town situated about 100 miles from Yazd. (A.T.)

† A very large sum of money in those days. (A.T.)

Baghdád where he attained the presence of Bahá'u'lláh and presented the money to Him. The Blessed Beauty accepted the money from him, and bestowed upon him His blessings and favours. But He ordered him to accompany Mírzá Áqá Jan, Khádimu'lláh (the Servant of God), to the banks of the river and throw the money into its waters. Mírzá Ja'far became a servant of the household, and was among those companions who accompanied Bahá'u'lláh to Istanbul.
One of the exalted attributes of the Manifestation of God, distinguishing Him from the whole of the human race, is His utter detachment from the things of this world. Bahá'u'lláh had no regard whatsoever for the possession of material things. He has clearly stated in His Writings that this material world has no worth in His sight. In several Tablets He states that if this world had any value, He would have been occupying its highest thrones. In a Tablet revealed in 'Akká,5 He states that the One who created this world has renounced it. For if it had any value He would not have allowed Himself to live in the most desolate of cities.

In another Tablet6 revealed in the Holy Land He affirms that if His aim were to acquire earthly things, He could have taken possession of all that is on earth and no one could have questioned His authority to do so. He further states in the same Tablet that whenever He had accepted a gift from a believer, the basic reason had been to bestow His bounties and favours upon him. The mere acceptance of a gift endowed the soul of the individual with eternal blessings.

The believers sometimes sent articles such as carpets, clothing and similar items to Bahá'u'lláh, but He seldom used them for Himself. He usually gave all gifts away. One person who coveted them was His amanuensis, Mírzá Áqá Jan. Knowing that Bahá'u'lláh had no interest in keeping the believers' offerings for Himself, he longed to possess these gifts and Bahá'u'lláh sometimes gave them to him. Mírzá Áqá Jan did not realize that this was his test and the cause of his downfall. To be in close contact with Bahá'u'lláh, to serve Him day and night and to abide within


5. Áthár-i-Qalam-i-A'lá, vol. 1, p. 310.

6. Iqtidárát, p. 292.

such a sacred realm, required utter detachment from all earthly things. The desire for material benefits while serving in His holy presence was fatal.

God always tests man. The higher he is in the field of service, the greater are his tests. Mírzá Áqá Ján acted as a servant to Bahá'u'lláh and was the individual who was closest to Him. He was a materialistic and corrupt being who fell from grace during the latter part of Bahá'u'lláh's life, later violated His covenant and perished spiritually.*

When Bahá'u'lláh was in Adrianople a certain believer from Káshán by the name of Muhammad-Báqir presented Him with a small silk carpet. He wrote a Tablet,7 thanked him for the gift and showered His bounties upon him. He told him that He had accepted the gift, but was now returning it to him as a favour on His part. He stated that He preferred to sit on the ground in that Remote Prison† than to sit on a silk carpet. This is a typical example of how Bahá'u'lláh would respond to gifts presented to Him.

One of the believers, a certain Mírzá Muhammad-Qulí, presented Bahá'u'lláh with an overcoat. In a Tablet8 Bahá'u'lláh informed him that He had worn the coat for one day as a bounty on His part.

Hájí Muhammad 'Alíy-i-Afnán,‡ a cousin of the Báb, had sent a length of white flannel to 'Akká. According to a Tablet written in the handwriting of Mírzá Áqá Ján,9 Bahá'u'lláh graciously accepted the gift from him and although since His departure from Baghdád He was in the habit of wearing coats made only of black flannel, He ordered a white one to be made as a token of His grace and favours towards the Afnán.

According to Hájí Muhammad-Táhir, Bahá'u'lláh would usually wear a long woollen upper garment and a woollen cloak; and in the summer, cotton garments.

These stories depicting some ordinary features of the life of


* For more information see vol. 1.

† Adrianople.

‡ see Memorials of the Faithful, pp. 16-21.

7. Unpublished compilation, National Archives Committee, no. 18, p. 24.

8. ibid. p. 546.

9. ibid. no. 31, p. 168.

Bahá'u'lláh, reveal His magnanimity and utter detachment from the things of this world. Sometimes Bahá'u'lláh ordered simple gifts to be sent to certain people. For instance, on one occasion Mírzá Áqá Jan wrote on the instructions of Bahá'u'lláh to the same Hájí Muhammad-'Alíy-i-Afnán, who was living in Hong Kong, asking him to send some china dishes which were intended as a gift for 'Abbúd.10 On another occasion Mírzá Áqá Ján was instructed to ask another of the Afnáns to send a few pairs of spectacles complete with cases for presentation to some of the authorities.11*

For his own personal use Bahá'u'lláh never ordered anything extravagant. The life of luxury to which He was accustomed in His youth had been denied Him since His imprisonment in the Síyáh-Chál of Tihrán when all His possessions had been confiscated. But He lived a life of austerity in a majesty such that, in the words of Edward Granville Browne of Cambridge University, He was 'the object of a devotion that kings might envy and emperors sigh for in vain'. His personal needs were simple and inexpensive. For instance, on one occasion when one of His companions, Hájí 'Alíy-i-Yazdí, was going to Istanbul on business, Bahá'u'lláh asked him to purchase a pair of shoes for Him. He gave him an old pair of His slippers for size. Hájí 'Alí later presented the slippers to the International Archives and they are now kept in the room of Bahá'u'lláh in the Mansion of Mazra'ih.

The Law of Huqúq'u'lláh

The greater part of the donations given to the Cause by the believers were spent at Bahá'u'lláh's behest in the promotion of the Faith and the care of the poor and needy of the community. He Himself and the members of His family, however, lived an austere life. There were many occasions when He was in great need, but did not accept financial help from the friends.


* In those days there were no custom-made spectacles. A type which was commonly worn by people had a simple magnifying glass as a lens.

10. Unpublished compilation, National Archives Committee, no. 18, p. 169.

11. ibid. p. 205.

[Huqúq'u'lláh] The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, ¶97
In the Kitáb-i-Aqdas (the Most Holy Book), Bahá'u'lláh revealed the law of Huqúq'u'lláh (the Right of God). It concerns those whose possessions reach a certain value. They are bidden by God to pay nineteen per cent of that value to the Centre of the Cause. In one of His Tablets, revealed in the words of His amanuensis,12 Bahá'u'lláh states that when the full text of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas was completed He did not order its release for some time because it contained the law of Huqúq, which has been ordained by God as a sign of His mercy and loving-kindness unto His servants. He explains that the reason for withholding the Book temporarily was His apprehensiveness lest some of the believers might not carry out this commandment or might come to wrong conclusions. The mere contemplation of this, He says, is unworthy of the Day of God. The very thought that some, in their immaturity, might possibly assume that the Huqúq was intended for Bahá'u'lláh's personal use, must have been extremely painful to Him. The most cursory study of His life and teachings will amply demonstrate that He constantly exhorted His followers to detach themselves from earthly possessions and not to place their affections in the things of this world. In His Tablet to Napoleon III, Bahá'u'lláh admonishes the emperor in these words which clearly demonstrate how worthless is this material world in His sight:
Exultest thou over the treasures thou dost possess, knowing they shall perish? Rejoicest thou in that thou rulest a span of earth, when the whole world, in the estimation of the people of Bahá, is worth as much as the black in the eye of a dead ant?13
In another Tablet Bahá'u'lláh makes a similar statement:
By the righteousness of God! The world, its vanities and its glory, and whatever delights it can offer, are all, in the sight of God, as worthless as, nay even more contemptible than, dust and ashes. Would that the hearts of men could comprehend it. Wash yourselves thoroughly, O people of Bahá, from the defilement of the world, and of all that pertaineth unto it.14

12. Áthár-i-Qalam-i-A'lá, vol. 7, p. 236.

13. Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 56.

14. Quoted by Shoghi Effendi, The Advent of Divine Justice, p. 25.

The following passages gleaned from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh portray His expectations from His followers:

He is the true servant of God who, in this day, were he to pass through cities of silver and gold, would not deign to look upon them, and whose heart would remain pure and undefiled from whatever things can be seen in this world, be they its goods or its treasures. I swear by the Sun of Truth! The breath of such a man is endowed with potency, and his words with attraction.

By Him Who shineth above the Day-Spring of sanctity! If the whole earth were to be converted into silver and gold, no man who can be said to have truly ascended into the heaven of faith and certitude would deign to regard it, much less to seize and keep it...They who dwell within the Tabernacle of God, and are established upon the seats of everlasting glory, will refuse, though they be dying of hunger, to stretch their hands, and seize unlawfully the property of their neighbor, however vile and worthless he may be. The purpose of the one true God in manifesting Himself is to summon all mankind to truthfulness and sincerity, to piety and trustworthiness, to resignation and submissiveness to the will of God, to forbearance and kindliness, to uprightness and wisdom. His object is to array every man with the mantle of a saintly character, and to adorn him with the ornament of holy and goodly deeds. Say, he is not to be numbered with the people of Bahá who followeth his mundane desires, or fixeth his heart on things of the earth. He is my true follower who, if he come to a valley of pure gold will pass straight through it aloof as a cloud, and will neither turn back, nor pause. Such a man is assuredly of Me. From his garment the Concourse on high can inhale the fragrance of sanctity.15

While Bahá'u'lláh was reluctant to send a copy of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas to Persia, some of the believers were requesting that the laws of the Faith be revealed for them. As a result of these requests, Bahá'u'lláh eventually sent a copy, but gave clear instructions that no one was to implement the law of the Huqúq. For about five years after the revelation of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas this law was not put into execution. Then, as the Cause began to

15. Quoted by Shoghi Effendi, The Advent of Divine Justice, pp. 19-20, 26.
expand in Persia and neighbouring countries, there was a need for funds and those who were eligible to pay the Huqúq did so with joy and gratitude.

This is the text of the law of Huqúq'u'lláh as revealed in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas:

Should a person acquire one hundred mithqáls* of gold, nineteen mithqáls thereof belong unto God, the Creator of earth and heaven. Take heed, O people, lest ye deprive yourselves of this great bounty. We have prescribed this law unto you while We are wholly independent of you and of all that are in the heavens and on the earth. Indeed there lie concealed in this command, mysteries and benefits which are beyond the comprehension of anyone save God, the All-Knowing, the All-Informed. Say, through this injunction God desireth to purify your possessions and enable you to draw nigh unto such stations as none can attain, except those whom God may please. Verily, He is the Generous, the Gracious, the Bountiful.

O people! Act not treacherously in the matter of Huqúq'u'lláh and dispose not of it, except by His leave. Thus hath it been ordained in His Epistles as well as in this glorious Tablet.

Whoso dealeth dishonestly with God will in justice be exposed, and whoso fulfilleth the things he hath been commanded, divine blessings will descend upon him from the heaven of the bounty of his Lord, the Bestower, the Bountiful, the Most Generous, the Ancient of Days. Verily He desireth for you the things that are inscrutable to you at present, though the people themselves will readily discover them when their souls take their flight and the trappings of their earthly gaieties are rolled up. Thus warneth you the Author of the Preserved tablet.16

It must be noted that in the above passage Bahá'u'lláh has merely set the rate of Huqúq at nineteen per cent. It is not meant that the minimum amount subject to Huqúq is one hundred mithqáls of gold; the minimum amount is the value of nineteen

* Each mithqáls is equal to 3.6416666 grams.

16. Huqúq'u'lláh, no. 10.

["Should anyone acquire..."] The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, ¶97
mithqáls of gold. Bahá'u'lláh Himself has clarified this point in the following statement:

The minimum amount subject to Huqúq'u'lláh is reached when one's possessions are worth the number of Vahíd (19); that is, whenever one owneth 19 mithqáls of gold, or acquireth possessions attaining this value, after having deducted therefrom the yearly expenses, the Huqúq becometh applicable and its payment is obligatory.17
As regards its application, Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Faith, has stated through his secretary:

Regarding the Huqúq'u'lláh...this is applied to one's merchandise, property and income. After deducting the necessary expenses, whatever is left as profit, and is an addition to one's capital, such a sum is subject to Huqúq. When one has paid Huqúq once on a particular sum, that sum is no longer subject to Huqúq, unless it should pass from one person to another. One's residence, and the household furnishings are exempt from Huqúq...Huqúq'u'lláh is paid to the Centre of the Cause.18
Bahá'u'lláh was very anxious that no one should ever feel forced to pay the Huqúq. He instructed Hájí Abu'l-Hasan-i-Amín* the Trustee of the Huqúq, and other eminent Bahá'ís, not to accept money from anybody unless they were sure that the individual wished to give with the utmost joy and devotion. He also forbade the soliciting of Huqúq by the Trustees. In many of His Tablets Bahá'u'lláh has made such exhortations. To cite an example, the following is part of a Tablet revealed in honour of His Trustee Hájí Amín:

O Abu'l-Hasan:

May my Glory rest upon thee! Fix thy gaze upon the glory of the Cause. Speak forth that which will attract the hearts and the minds. To demand the Huqúq is in no wise permissible. This command was revealed in the Book of God for various necessary matters ordained by God to be dependent upon


* see vol. 3, chapter 4.

17. Huqúq'u'lláh, no. 18.

18. ibid. no. 80.

material means. Therefore, if someone, with utmost pleasure and gladness, nay with insistence, wisheth to partake of this blessing, thou mayest accept. Otherwise, acceptance is not permissible.19
The following passage from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh will shed further light on this subject:

For a number of years Huqúq was not accepted. How numerous the offerings that on reaching Our presence were returned to the donors, because they were not needed then. However, in recent years We have, in view of the exigencies of the times, accepted the payment of the Huqúq, but have forbidden solicitation thereof. Everyone must have the utmost regard for the dignity of the Word of God and for the exaltation of His Cause. Were a person to offer all the treasures of the earth at the cost of debasing the honour of the Cause of God, were it even less than a grain of mustard, such an offering would not be permissible. All the world hath belonged and will always belong to God. If one spontaneously offereth Huqúq with the utmost joy and radiance it will be acceptable, and not otherwise. The benefit of such deeds reverteth unto the individuals themselves. This measure hath been ordained in view of the necessity for material means, for 'averse is God from putting aught into effect except through its means'. Thus instructions were given to receive the Huqúq.20
In one of His Tablets21 Bahá'u'lláh states that there is no act more reprehensible than to beg for funds in the name of God.

A special responsibility concerning the Huqúq'u'lláh was placed upon the Hands of the Cause.* As we have already stated, Bahá'u'lláh always insisted that no one should be solicited to pay the Huqúq'u'lláh, and even that payment should not be accepted unless the individual was willing to observe the Huqúq with the utmost joy. In His Tablets to the Hands, Bahá'u'lláh often gives the details of the numerous occasions on which He refused to accept donations from individuals as the Faith did not


* see below, chs. 19 and 20.

19. Huqúq'u'lláh, no. 9.

20. ibid. no. 27.

21. Iqtidárát, p. 292.

need financial assistance at that time. He urges them to uphold the standards of detachment, dignity and magnanimity which their Lord has always displayed.

In a Tablet to Ibn-i-Asdaq,22 Bahá'u'lláh describes in the words of His amanuensis how at one time the King of the Martyrs* had felt that the means of subsistence for the Holy Family and the believers in the Holy Land were inadequate. He had dispatched therefore Jamál-i-Burújirdí to the province of Khurásán to solicit the friends for the payment of the Huqúq. As soon as the news of this reached the Holy Land Bahá'u'lláh immediately issued strict intructions to withdraw from this action. The verses that were revealed by Him on that occasion forbidding Jamál to proceed on his mission were charged with supreme authority and might.

On receiving these instructions, Jamál, that egotistical teacher of the Faith,† was hurt. He wrote a letter to Mírzá Áqá Jan, Bahá'u'lláh's amanuensis, and complained that his services had never been accepted by, or pleasing to, Bahá'u'lláh. He indicated in this letter that a number of believers, all from Jewish background, had donated a certain sum of money with the utmost pleasure. If their contributions were to be refused, they would become disappointed. As a result of his petition Bahá'u'lláh ordered the acceptance of the sum, but at the same time made arrangements for all of it to be used in financing the teaching activities of a few chosen teachers of the Faith in Persia.

In the same Tablet Mírzá Áqá Ján gives further examples. When a few souls from Fárán‡ attained the presence of Bahá'u'lláh, they presented a sum of money to Him in payment of the Huqúq. He graciously accepted their offering but then returned the full amount to them as a gift. He had done the same to many others and Mírzá Áqá Ján mentions the names of some of them in this Tablet. He further states that all throughout this


* see above, ch. 5.

† He became a Covenant-breaker, see vol. 2.

‡ They included Áqá Mír Muhammad Big and his son Sháh Khalíl'u'lláh; for details see vol. 3, pp. 159-62.

22. Unpublished compilation, National Archives Committee, no. 27, pp. 206-7.
period the means of livelihood in the Holy Land had been so inadequate that it had been necessary to borrow from time to time in order to enable the large number of pilgrims and believers to subsist. This Tablet was revealed a few months before the ascension of Bahá'u'lláh. Mírzá Áqá Ján mentions that a sum of money had been donated some time before by an individual believer through His Trustee, Hájí Amín, but up to the time of writing Bahá'u'lláh had not accepted it. However, it had not been returned either, because it could become a cause of embarrassment.

Another example of the magnanimity and detachment from earthly things manifested by Bahá'u'lláh comes to us through one of His Tablets to Mullá 'Alí-Akbar. A devoted servant of the Blessed Beauty by the name of 'Azím-i-Tafrishí* had passed away in the Holy Land, and in his will had left all his savings to His Lord. But Bahá'u'lláh issued instructions for the money to be sent to 'Azím's heirs in Persia.

The concept that a portion of one's possessions is the right of God and belongs to Him may be appreciated by observing nature and examining certain physical laws. It has already been stated that the laws which exist in the physical world are also present in the spiritual worlds of God, and that religious teachings are the spiritual counterparts of physical laws. For instance, we may observe that the law of Huqúq'u'lláh finds its parallel in the vegetable kingdom. We observe that the blossoms, the flowers and the fruits do not originate from the tree. They are the hidden properties of the soil. The tree brings out all these potentialities which the earth possesses. The earth is the producer of everything and the entire substance of the tree comes from it. The earth produces the root, the trunk, the branches, the leaves and the fruits. It also provides all the nourishment for its growth and fruition.

Having established the fact that the tree owes its existence to the creative power of the earth, we note that each year the tree sheds it leaves upon the earth. It gives back to its creator, as a


matter of course, a portion of its wealth. The fallen leaves do not benefit the earth. They act as a fertilizer and therefore their benefit reverts to the tree itself. This physical process is similar to the law of Huqúq'u'lláh, and, as Bahá'u'lláh has stated, 'the benefit of such deeds [payment of the Huqúq] reverteth unto the individuals themselves'.

During Bahá'u'lláh's Ministry the law of Huqúq was applicable to only a very small number of Bahá'ís. The great majority of the community were poor and not eligible to pay the Huqúq. Often the Trustee of Bahá'u'lláh was unable to fully cover the expenses of the Bahá'í teachers and those in need. Of course, Hájí Amín, the Trustee, was not pleased about this. In one of His Tablets Bahá'u'lláh makes a sweet and humorous remark about His Trustee. He says: 'We must impose a fine upon Jináb-i-Amín! We have one treasurer and he is bankrupt! Gracious God, there is one treasury belonging to God, and that is empty of funds. Indeed, by virtue of its exalted station, such a treasury ought to be freed and sanctified from earthly things and not be confused with the treasuries of the world.' 23

The Huqúq should not be confused with the normal contributions of a believer to the International Funds. Although both are donated to the Centre of the Cause--today to the Universal House of Justice--there is a great difference between the two. The Huqúq in reality does not belong to the individual, as it is the right of God, whereas ordinary donations are given by the believer from his own resources and are motivated by a heartfelt desire to give of one's own substance for the promotion of the Cause of God.


23. Unpublished compilation, National Archives Committee, no. 28, p. 482. Translation by the author, approved at the Bahá'í World Centre.