It is indeed a great privilege for me to be able to come to your Country and, on behalf of the Universal House of Justice and the Hands of the Cause, to greet the American friends, whose outstanding services to the Cause of God have adorned the golden pages of the history of our Faith.
Following a meeting that I had with the House of Justice last January, I received instructions from that Supreme Body to come to the United States And meet with the American friends in order to draw their attention to the exigencies and needs of the Faith at this critical time in the history of mankind, during which the existing orders are breaking down, giving way to the emergence of a new paradigm based on love and spiritual values presented by Baha'u'llah to mankind.
As we approach the end of the second millenium,
we come to realize That the horizon of the world remains darkened by the
increase of mistrust, Conflict and hatred amongst the countries and nations.
The twentieth century, Called the "century of light" by the beloved Master,
is singled out by Extraordinary progress in the fields of science and
technology; but, unfortunately, this progress fails to guarantee the happiness
and prosperity of the people of The world, which is the paramount objective
of the Revelation of Baha'u'llah. The pragmatic theories expressed by
philosophers, socio-economists, politicians
And other theoreticians have demonstrated their inability to offer a solution To unloose the knot which holds within itself the perplexities of our generation.
In a momentous Tablet entitled "Lawh-i-Maqsud", Baha'u'llah states:
The winds of despair are, alas, blowing from
every direction, and
the strife that divideth and afflicteth the human race is daily
increasing. The signs of impending convulsions and chaos can now
be discerned, inasmuch as the prevailing order appeareth to be
lamentably defective. I beseech God, exalted be His glory, that
He may graciously awaken the peoples of the earth, may grant that
the end of their conduct may be profitable unto them, and aid them
to accomplish that which beseemeth their station.1
In another Tablet, revealed in honour of an individual believer, Baha'u'llah states:
Soon will the present-day order be rolled up,
and a new one spread
out in its stead.2
This process is further elucidated by the Supreme Pen in a passage which I believe most of you have already read:
The world is in
travail, and its agitation waxeth day by day.
Its face is turned towards waywardness and unbelief. Such shall be
its plight, that to disclose it now would not be meet and seemly.
Its perversity will long continue. And when the appointed hour is
come, there shall suddenly appear that which shall cause the limbs
of mankind to quake.3
On the other hand, the extraordinary progress and expansion of the Cause in the second half of the twentieth century indicate that, despite the existence of enormous obstacles in the path of the development of the Cause of God and the severe hostilities in some fundamentalist countries towards the Faith, the Hand of the Almighty God has paved the way for the awareness of The peoples of the world about the existence of the Faith, its history, its Laws and principles, its philosophy and ideals, and its precepts for the well-being and prosperity of mankind.
To this bear witness the marvellous victories
gained during the recent decades in the Baha'i world. To name a
few of the many examples, one can mention the active involvement of the
Faith in the international agencies of the United Nations; the interest
shown by some Heads of State and other
government leaders in coming to the Holy Land to acquire information from the Universal House of Justice about the Baha'i views with regard to the socio-economic problems of the world; the prayerful and reverent visit of the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of millions of Buddhists, to the Shrine of the
Blessed Bab; and the heartwarming initiative of the members of the Brazilian Parliament in celebrating the introduction of the Faith in their country And in paying tribute to Amatu'l-Baha Ruhiyyih Khanum in a special ceremony, during which members of the Federal Parliament of Brazil expressed their esteem and respect for the Teachings of Baha'u'llah and explained the purpose of His Teachings, and so forth.
At this rightful time the Universal House of
Justice, which is Vigilantly observing the progress of the Faith and guiding
the Baha'i community, has expressed the necessity of increasing the knowledge
of the friends about The Teachings and Ordinances of the Blessed Beauty;
Teachings that are purposed
To bring a radical transformation to the structure of human society and to Serve as basic materials for building the edifice of the New World Order aimed at regenerating man and re-organizing human society.
In a dictionary definition, the term "order" is described as a Condition in which everything is in its proper place and every element performs its proper function in relation to the others. Therefore, the World Order of Baha'u'llah, contrary to the prevailing way of life in human society which, In reality, is nothing but absolute disorder, constitutes a spiritual Discipline within which all component parts function in perfect harmony and balance.
This marvellous Order is an assemblage of divinely ordained laws and injunctions established by Baha'u'llah, interpreted and explained by the Centre of the Covenant, `Abdu'l-Baha, and the beloved Guardian, evolving around the axis of the Most Holy Book of the Baha'i Dispensation, the Kitab-i-Aqdas and its supplementary Tablets.
The Kitab-i-Aqdas, "whose provisions", according to the beloved Guardian, "must remain inviolate for no less than a thousand years, and whose system will embrace the entire planet,"4 is now published and is available to the Baha'i community worldwide.
It is noteworthy that one phase of the development
of the Faith, under the guidance of the Universal House of Justice during
the Formative Age, is the gradual application of the laws of the Kitab-i-Aqdas
beyond those already applied prior to 1963. Amongst them, and due
to its vital importance, the
law of Huququ'llah, or the Right of God, had the privilege to be the first to be universally applied as of Ridvan 1992.
The Universal House of Justice, in its letter of 9 February 1997 Addressed to me, stated, "Our principal concern at the present moment is to arouse in a large number of friends a more profound consciousness of the significance of the law of Huququ'llah."
Before expounding its characteristics and details, we have to give Some thought to its significance and nature.
Usually, in our prevailing languages, when we talk about a law, we conceive a rule, rigid by nature and dictated by a high-ranking organization or individual to impose some limitation on our lives; therefore, the word "law" is always associated with a feeling of pressure, deprivation and anxiety, especially in cases relating to material issues. In the Baha'i conception of law, however, the meaning has transcended the limits of words and has found a new definition.
In the Kitab-i-Aqdas, when Baha'u'llah speaks about His laws and ordinances, He uses a beautiful metaphor stating:
Think not that
We have revealed unto you a mere code of
laws. Nay, rather, We have unsealed the choice Wine with the
fingers of might and power.5
By these words the concept of pressure and deprivation has been substituted by feelings of enchantment, compassion and delight.
When we drink from the divine chalice the choice
wine, which infuses In our souls the love of God, we fall in love with
Him and with His Cause. At this stage, the soul begins to fly and
progress in the realm of God. Its ever-ascending vehicle is naught
else but love. This love is described by
Baha'u'llah in the Seven Valleys as follows:
In this city the heaven of ecstasy is upraised
and the world-
illumining sun of yearning shineth, and the fire of love is
ablaze; and when the fire of love is ablaze, it burneth to
ashes the harvest of reason.6
In a wonderful mystical poem revealed by Baha'u'llah during His Seclusion in the mountains of Sulaymaniyih, He states:
Kindle the fire of love and burn away all things.
Then set thy foot into the land of the lovers.7
This transcendent phenomenon is the motivating power which enables man To remove all obstacles in the way of his spiritual growth. Strengthened by This extraordinary power, his only desire will be to satisfy his Beloved. In This case, according to the Words of Baha'u'llah,
...he would, though the treasures of the earth
be in his
possession, renounce them one and all, that he might vindicate
the truth of even one of His commandments, shining above the
dayspring of His bountiful care and loving-kindness.8
Huququ'llah by its special and unique characteristics combines the might and power of the Word of God with the humility and submission of man; therefore, in this Cause, obedience to God's ordinance is a demonstration of the highest degree of love and devotion.
The importance of the law of Huququ'llah has been pointed out by the following Words of Baha'u'llah:
Say: O people,
the first duty is to recognize the one true
God -- magnified be His glory -- the second is to show forth
constancy in His Cause and, after these, one's duty is to purify
one's riches and earthly possessions according to that which is
prescribed by God.9
Through these words we realize that Huququ'llah, by order of importance, comes immediately after the recognition of God and steadfastness in His Cause. The outstanding rank given by Baha'u'llah to the law of Huququ'llah leads Us to ponder on the spiritual significance of this sacred injunction.
God Almighty, from His realm of Glory and in His all-embracing wisdom, Has created man in His own image and placed him at the summit of His creation to reflect His names and attributes upon the world of being. He has established a link of love and closeness between man and Himself. In the Hidden Words we read:
O Son of Man! Veiled in my immemorial
being and in the ancient
eternity of My essence, I knew My love for thee; therefore I
created thee, have engraved on thee Mine image and revealed to
thee My beauty.10
He bestowed upon man unlimited power of comprehension
and adorned him with great capacity, intellect and wisdom, in order to
enable him to progress in the spiritual realms of God and acquire unlimited
divine qualities and attributes, and not to deprive himself of the benefits
of the physical world as found in the three-fold kingdoms of existence
-- mineral, vegetable and animal -- but to partake of its bounties and
riches. This wealth is a great test for man.
In moderation it is the source of prosperity, felicity and good life; however, if it transgresses the boundary of moderation, it pulls man downward and becomes a source of selfishness and ego. In this case man becomes captive to his earthly desires and cannot free himself from the temptations of the material world.
We know that man's life on this planet is a
continual struggle between two forces moving in opposite directions:
one is of a spiritual nature nourished by the passage of man through a
cleansing, edifying and perfecting process enabling him to release himself
from the material world. This process produces
the force which facilitates the progress of man's soul in the spiritual realm, gives him the capacity to reflect the spirit of God in his innermost being, and adorns him with the garment of detachment, generosity and sacrifice. The other force is a material one, nurtured by man's physical nature, which, through its powerful attraction, connects him to the physical environment and influences him to obtain as much as he can from material blessings and gifts in order to add more pleasure, colour and ornament to his life.
A healthy life requires the establishment of a balance and equilibrium between these two forces. One way of leading us to reach this ideal is the observance of the law of Huququ'llah offered by Baha'u'llah to mankind.
Huququ'llah is the socio-economic and spiritual
law of the Kitab-i-Aqdas through which a believer, after deduction of
his yearly expenses from his total income, offers 19 per cent of what
is considered as one's savings to the Supreme Authority of the Faith,
that it may be expended for the promulgation
of the Cause of God and well-being of human society.
In a Tablet revealed by Baha'u'llah in honour of the Trustee of Huququ'llah, Haji Amin, the Pen of Glory states:
Indeed there lie concealed in this command,
benefits which are beyond the comprehension of anyone save
The Beloved Master, in an instructive Tablet
revealed at the dawn of His sacred Ministry, talked about the cooperation
and interdependency which exist between all the atoms of the world of
being, and said that cooperation and reciprocity are a fundamental law
of creation upon which the law of
Huququ'llah is also based.
Later on, the flourishing of the natural sciences
at the beginning of this century, especially in the fields of physiology
and biology and, in recent decades, in the sciences related to the environment,
sheds light on the different aspects of this fact and the reality of this
relationship. In the same Tablet, `Abdu'l-Baha has likened the temple
of the world to the constitution of the human body, in which all the organs,
despite their differences, form a coherent entity. He explains how
the vegetable and animal kingdoms are related together and how, in each
kingdom, the elements of life work reciprocally for their survival, while
providing the necessary substances for the life of the other kingdom at
the same time. He concludes that
cooperation and mutual assistance constitute the most essential characteristics of the unified body of the world.
Huququ'llah, by nature, represents similar particularities. By offering Huququ'llah, we enter into the infinite chain of causality, giving and receiving, affecting and being affected, in such a way as to enable us to contribute our share to the great system of mutual aid and interdependence which links all created things together.
The sum which we deduct from our savings and offer as Huququ'llah circulates in the body of the Faith, and nurtures its institutions. However, its benefits, in the form of public welfare, come back to ourselves.
This function is similar to that of the circulation of blood in the human body. As we know, blood contains nourishing substances, vital to the life of the cells. The heart's pulsation causes these substances to be transported through the bloodstream to the lungs and kidneys. In the lungs, the bloodoou releases carbon dioxide and takes oxygen. After nurturing the cells and organs it returns to the heart to be recycled and to continue its beneficial course.
Just as in the human body the heartbeat is responsible for blood circulation which nurtures the organs, likewise man's conscience is the propelling power which urges the believer to obey God's ordinance and execute His Will.
The efficiency of this act of resignation and
love depends on the degree of eagerness and the ultimate desire with which
the individual takes pleasure
and satisfaction in obedience to God's decree. This is why, according to Baha'u'llah's statement, Huququ'llah should be observed with the utmost
radiance, gladness and willing acquiescence. Again as stated by Him,
However, the acceptance of the offerings dependeth
on the spirit of
joy, fellowship and contentment that the righteous souls who fulfil
this injunction will manifest. If such is the attitude, acceptance
is permissible, and not otherwise. Verily thy Lord is the
All-Sufficing, the All-Praised.12
This is the way to attract divine blessings and confirmations from this law.
During the earlier days of this blessed Cause,
when the friends became
aware of the existence of such a law, they thought that the offering of
Huququ'llah was a way of strengthening the material potentialities of the
Faith or, in today's expression, a way of fundraising.
Indeed by the law of Huququ'llah, Baha'u'llah
has established a permanent
and independent source of income for the promulgation of His Cause and world-
wide operation of its institutions. But if we go deep into its multi-faceted
aspects, we can conclude that this injunction is different by nature from other
forms of donations:
1. Huququ'llah is a spiritual law subject to specific obligations and regulations while other offerings are solely dependent on detachment, generosity and self-sacrifice.
2. According to the explicit Holy Text, the payment of Huququ'llah is based on calculations of one's income, whereas contribution to the Baha'i funds is left to the free wish and eagerness of the believers.
3. The Right of God cannot be earmarked for some specific purpose. It is entirely at the disposal of Marja-i-Amr, or the focal point of authority, to which all must turn, while other contributions could be earmarked for other purposes, according to the wish of the contributor.
The amount of the individual's annual expenses which is exempt from Huququ'llah is left to his discretion and depends on the degree of his spiritual attachment and his detachment from the material world. No rule could be set for its evaluation. Indeed, those who are attracted to the deceiving splendour of the material world, who have set their affections on collecting its goods and apparels and are engulfed in extravagance are true examples of what Baha'u'llah, in a Tablet addressed to Jinab-i-Samandar, stated:
How many are the souls who, with the utmost
endeavour and effort, collect a handful of worldly goods and
greatly rejoice in this act and yet in reality the Pen of the
Most High hath decreed this wealth for others; that is, it is
not meant to be their lot or it may even fall into the hands
of their enemies!13
However, those who have drunk from the fountainhead
of certitude and
knowledge, abstained from extravagance and followed the path of moderation
would indeed do their utmost to perform their obligation to Huququ'llah as part of their essential spiritual duty.
Being able to contribute to Huququ'llah is a
great blessing to a believer; its acceptance by God is an unparalleled
honour bestowed upon man.
It is a sign of spiritual maturity and a testimony to his trustworthiness and
his faithfulness under the Covenant of God. The consciousness of the believer
of the spirit of such a law is the only effective means for its fulfilment.
In view of the high station of Huququ'llah and due to its obligatory nature as a law, Baha'u'llah has strictly forbidden the solicitation of the Right of God. This act could jeopardize the status of such a law which is directly related to God.
Baha'u'llah, in a Tablet addressed to Haji Abu'l Hasan-i-Amin, the second Trustee of Huququ'llah reveals:
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 Huquq 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 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.14
And again He says:
Ye may relinquish the whole world but must not
detraction of even one jot or tittle from the dignity of the
Cause of God. Jinab-i-Amin -- upon him be My glory -- must
also refrain from mentioning this matter, for it is entirely
dependent upon the willingness of the individuals themselves.
They are well acquainted with the commandment of God and are
familiar with that which was revealed in the Book. Let him who
wisheth observe it, and let him who wisheth ignore it. Verily,
thy Lord is the Self-Sufficing, the All-Praised.15
This mighty law of God is the source of all
good. On many occasions
Baha'u'llah has made it clear that the payment of the Right of God is conducive
to prosperity, to blessing, to honour and to progress in the spiritual realms
of the everlasting world of the spirit.
In the Kitab-i-Aqdas He says:
...he, however, who acteth in accordance with
God's bidding shall
receive a blessing from the heaven of the bounty of his Lord, the
Gracious, the Bestower, the Generous, the Ancient of Days.16
In another Tablet:
This Huquq which
hath been mentioned, and the command of
which hath issued forth from the horizon of God's Holy Tablet,
hath benefits which are the prescribed lot of the individuals
themselves. By God! Were the people to know what hath been
concealed from their eyes and become fully aware of the ocean
of grace which lieth hid within this divine command, all the
people of the world would offer everything they possess in
order to be mentioned by Him.17
Huququ'llah provides an evolutionary process
for the spiritual growth of the friends and their eagerness to learn and
deepen in the Holy Writings.
Although we cannot seize the essence of this command, we can, through
studying and deepening our understanding about it, extract pearls of knowledge from the immense ocean of God's treasures. As we can conceive it, the payment
of Huququ'llah is a sign of our love and obedience, a proof of our steadfastness
in the Covenant and a symbol of our trustworthiness in the Faith of God.
It develops our spiritual qualities, which leads us towards perfection. It organizes and balances our material efforts and protects us from excessive desires which are born in our human nature and, when unleashed, can turn into preventive obstacles to our spiritual growth. When man realizes that by observing this law he becomes one of the trustees of God, and that a part of his income could be honoured by being accepted by his Lord, God's presence is felt in all his endeavours, and he will live his life in a just and legitimate manner in order that his offering may deserve to be spent in the path of God.
As payment of Huququ'llah attracts blessings and confirmations, with-holding the Right of God or spending it for other purposes, even if charitable in nature, is considered an act of dishonesty, tantamount to treachery and betrayal. In the Kitab-i-Aqdas, Baha'u'llah says:
He who dealeth faithlessly with God shall in
justice meet with
Indeed, God, who is an eternal essence, beyond our comprehension and
understanding, does not need our material things. Through His boundless
and endless bounty, He prescribed a small part of one's income to be regarded
as His Right to be used for the prosperity and well-being of all humanity.
Therefore, we, as His trustees, do not have the right to withhold His share and
to deprive His children from what the Real Owner and True Possessor of all
things has assigned to them.
The Beloved Master in The Secret of Divine Civilization stated:
The happiness and pride of a nation consist
in this, that it
should shine out like the sun in the high heaven of knowledge....
the honour and distinction of the individual consist in this,
that he among all the world's multitudes should become a source
of social good. Is any larger bounty conceivable than this,
that an individual, looking within himself, should find that by
the confirming grace of God he has become the cause of peace and
well-being, of happiness and advantage to his fellow men?18
The sum which is offered as Huququ'llah to the
Supreme Body of the Faith
is spent for the promulgation of the Cause of God. It is expended for:
Promotion of the teaching and proclamation of the Faith
Care, maintenance and restoration of Baha'i Holy Places
Building up of the administrative centre of the Baha'i World
Support of the work of the many Baha'i institutions and agencies
Erection and restoration of Baha'i Houses of Worship
Establishment and support of new institutions
Charitable and benevolent undertakings
Support of the worldwide manifold interests of the Faith
This donation symbolizes the unity of mankind
and will be spent according
to the discretion of the Supreme Body of the Faith for the promulgation of its
interests and the well-being of the people in different parts of the world.
It should be noted that the Kitab-i-Aqdas was revealed in around 1873 and, as the initial recipient of Huququ'llah was to be Baha'u'llah Himself, it seems He was reluctant to talk much about this injunction. It was five years before it was applied to Iran where the majority of the Baha'is resided.
According to His statement:
The payment of Huquq is conclusively established
in the Book
of God, yet for a number of years it had been forbidden to
receive it. Later, however, in view of certain considerations
and in order to arrange some essential matters, permission was
granted to accept such payments. Verily He is the Ordainer,
the Compassionate, the Forgiver, the Bountiful.19
During His lifetime Baha'u'llah did not reveal
details of the injunction
of the Right of God. On some occasions in the Holy Writings He gave some
essential directives and referred the details to the establishment of the Universal House of Justice. In a Tablet translated from Persian He has stated:
There is a prescribed ruling for the Huququ'llah.
House of Justice hath come into being, the law thereof will be
made manifest, in conformity with the Will of God.20
When the Kitab-i-Aqdas reached Iran and the
friends became aware of its
contents, they were eager to put into action its laws, especially the law of
Huququ'llah. In the minutes of a gathering of that time which could be considered as the nucleus of future Spiritual Assemblies, we could find that the payment of Huququ'llah was one of the concerns of that gathering.
`Abdu'l-Baha, during His ministry, gave brief
comments and explanations in
different Tablets, whereas in the writings and letters of the beloved Guardian,
we find few comments written on his behalf to individuals and National Spiritual Assemblies. The passages compiled from his letters indicate that he too was reluctant to go into details about this subject. He directed the concerns of the friends to national funds and also other funds of the Faith.
In a letter dated 19 September 1929 we find this advice:
As regards Huquq, it is really 19 per cent of
one's income payable
to the Guardian. But it is not obligatory now.22
In a letter written in May 1937 by his secretary we find this:
Regarding the subject of Huquq; Shoghi Effendi
is reluctant to
emphasize it at present, in view of the urgent needs of the Cause
in America. But when the time comes for him to explain it to the
friends, he will not fail to do so....23
This appropriate time came in 1984, when the
Research Department of the
World Centre, under the guidance of the Universal House of Justice, compiled
the extracts from the Holy Writings of Baha'u'llah, the beloved Master, the
beloved Guardian and some rulings set by the House of Justice, and this
compilation served as the basis for the education of friends worldwide about
this sacred law. After a period of deepening, the universal application of
the Right of God became effective as of Ridvan 1992.
The last three decades of the 20th century witnessed
the rapid expansion
of the institution of Huququ'llah throughout the planet. This sacred institu-
tion, which came into being during the Heroic Age of our Faith and enjoyed
the devoted services of one person in Persia (Jinab-i-Amin) and another in
Mosul (Jinab-i-Zayn), has now formed a network around the globe under the
sponsorship of sixteen Boards of Trustees assisted by the collaboration of 425
co-workers, who are devotedly engaged with the loving support of the other institutions of the Faith in the education of the Baha'i population and the services of this institution around the world.
The education of Huququ'llah, which is the main
goal of this institution,
bore excellent fruit and assisted in large measure the increasing knowledge
of the friends and the deepening of the individuals in various aspects of this
multifaceted law of Baha'u'llah. However, all we have learned about it
until now is just the beginning of what we still have to learn. Baha'u'llah has
established an ordinance which, according to His own words, "contains mysteries and benefits beyond the comprehension of man". Evidently the scientific progress and philosophic deductions in the coming centuries will shed light on the hidden realities of this great law, particularly in the fields of cause and effect, reciprocity and mutual assistance, which bind together all the component parts of the world of creation and control their cooperation in harmony and balance.
1. Tablets of Baha'u'llah Revealed after the Kitab-i-Aqdas (Wilmette:
Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1995), pp. 171-2
2. Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, section IV
3. Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, section LXI
4. God Passes By (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1987), p. 213
5. The Kitab-i-Aqdas, paragraph 5
6. The Seven Valleys and The Four Valleys (Wilmette:
Trust, 1995), p. 8
7. The Seven Valleys and The Four Valleys (Wilmette:
Trust, 1995), p. 11
8. Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, section CLV
9. Huququ'llah compilation, no. 31
10. The Hidden Words (Arabic), no. 3
11. Huququ'llah compilation, no. 10
12. Huququ'llah compilation, no. 4
13. Huququ'llah compilation, no. 47
14. Huququ'llah compilation, no. 9
15. Huququ'llah compilation, no. 8
16. The Kitab-i-Aqdas, paragraph 97
17. Huququ'llah compilation, no. 44
18. The Secret of Divine Civilization (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing
1994), pp. 2-3
19. Huququ'llah compilation, no. 28
20. Huququ'llah compilation, no. 59
21. Huququ'llah compilation, no. 82
22. Huququ'llah compilation, no. 83
23. Huququ'llah compilation, no. 86