Format: Global Grey free PDF, epub, Kindle ebook
Pages (PDF): 198
Publication Date: 1873
The Kitáb-i-Aqdas or Aqdas is the central book of the Bahá'í Faith written by Bahá'u'lláh, the founder of the religion. It has the same status as the Quran for Muslims or the Bible for Christians. The Aqdas is referred to as "the Mother-Book" of the Bahá'í teachings, and the "Charter of the future world civilization". It is not, however, only a 'book of laws': much of the content deals with other matters, notably ethical exhortations and addresses to various individuals, groups, and places. The Aqdas also discusses the establishment of Bahá'í administrative institutions, Bahá'í religious practices, mysticism, laws of personal status, criminal law, spiritual and ethical exhortations, social principles, miscellaneous laws and abrogations, and prophecies. Along with the actual Holy Book, this edition includes; The Universal House Of Justice - A Description Of The Kitab-I-Aqdas By Shoghi Effendi; Some Texts Revealed By Baha'u'llah Supplementary To The Kitab-I-Aqdas; Synopsis And Codification Of The Laws And Ordinances Of The Kitab-I-Aqdas - Summary Of Contents; Notes; and, Glossary.
This year, the 149th of the Baha’i era, marks the Centenary of the Ascension of Baha’u’llah, Bearer of the universal Revelation of God destined to lead humanity to its collective coming of age. That this occasion should be observed by a community of believers representing a cross-section of the entire human race and established, in the course of a century and a half, in the most remote corners of the globe, is a token of the forces of unity released by Baha’u’llah’s advent. A further testimony to the operation of these same forces can be seen in the extent to which Baha’u’llah’s vision has prefigured contemporary human experience in so many of its aspects. It is a propitious moment for the publication of this first authorized translation into English of the Mother Book of His Revelation, His "Most Holy Book", the Book in which He sets forth the Laws of God for a Dispensation destined to endure for no less than a thousand years.
Of the more than one hundred volumes comprising the sacred Writings of Baha’u’llah, the Kitab-i-Aqdas is of unique importance. "To build anew the whole world" is the claim and challenge of His Message, and the Kitab-i-Aqdas is the Charter of the future world civilization that Baha’u’llah has come to raise up. Its provisions rest squarely on the foundation established by past religions, for, in the words of Baha’u’llah, "This is the changeless Faith of God, eternal in the past, eternal in the future." In this Revelation the concepts of the past are brought to a new level of understanding, and the social laws, changed to suit the age now dawning, are designed to carry humanity forward into a world civilization the splendours of which can as yet be scarcely imagined.
In its affirmation of the validity of the great religions of the past, the Kitab-i-Aqdas reiterates those eternal truths enunciated by all the Divine Messengers: the unity of God, love of one’s neighbour, and the moral purpose of earthly life. At the same time it removes those elements of past religious codes that now constitute obstacles to the emerging unification of the world and the reconstruction of human society.
The Law of God for this Dispensation addresses the needs of the entire human family. There are laws in the Kitab-i-Aqdas which are directed primarily to the members of a specific section of humanity and can be immediately understood by them but which, at first reading, may be obscure to people of a different culture. Such, for example, is the law prohibiting the confession of sins to a fellow human being which, though understandable by those of Christian background, may puzzle others. Many laws relate to those of past Dispensations, especially the two most recent ones, those of Muhammad and the Bab embodied in the Qur’an and the Bayan. Nevertheless, although certain ordinances of the Aqdas have such a focused reference, they also have universal implications. Through His Law, Baha’u’llah gradually unveils the significance of the new levels of knowledge and behaviour to which the peoples of the world are being called. He embeds His precepts in a setting of spiritual commentary, keeping ever before the mind of the reader the principle that these laws, no matter the subject with which they deal, serve the manifold purposes of bringing tranquillity to human society, raising the standard of human behaviour, increasing the range of human understanding, and spiritualizing the life of each and all. Throughout, it is the relationship of the individual soul to God and the fulfilment of its spiritual destiny that is the ultimate aim of the laws of religion. "Think not", is Baha’u’llah’s own assertion, "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." His Book of Laws is His "weightiest testimony unto all people, and the proof of the All-Merciful unto all who are in heaven and all who are on earth".
An introduction to the spiritual universe unveiled in the Kitab-i-Aqdas would fail in its purpose if it did not acquaint the reader with the interpretive and legislative institutions that Baha’u’llah has indissolubly linked with the system of law thus revealed. At the foundation of this guidance lies the unique role which Baha’u’llah’s Writingsindeed the text of the Kitab-i-Aqdas itself—confer on His eldest son, Abdu’l-Baha. This unique figure is at once the Exemplar of the pattern of life taught by His Father, the divinely inspired authoritative Interpreter of His Teachings and the Centre and Pivot of the Covenant which the Author of the Baha’i Revelation made with all who recognize Him. The twenty-nine years of Abdu’l-Baha’s ministry endowed the Baha’i world with a luminous body of commentary that opens multiple vistas of understanding on His Father’s purpose. In His Will and Testament Abdu’l-Baha conferred the mantle of Guardian of the Cause and infallible Interpreter of its teachings upon His eldest grandson, Shoghi Effendi, and confirmed the authority and guarantee of divine guidance decreed by Baha’u’llah for the Universal House of Justice on all matters "which have not outwardly been revealed in the Book". The Guardianship and the Universal House of Justice can thus be seen to be, in the words of Shoghi Effendi, the "Twin Successors" of Baha’u’llah and Abdu’l-Baha. They are the supreme institutions of the Administrative Order which was founded and anticipated in the Kitab-i-Aqdas and elaborated by Abdu’l-Baha in His Will.
During the thirty-six years of his ministry, Shoghi Effendi raised up the structure of elected Spiritual Assemblies— the Houses of Justice referred to in the Kitab-i-Aqdas, now in their embryonic stage—and with their collaboration initiated the systematic implementation of the Divine Plan that Abdu’l-Baha had laid out for the diffusion of the Faith throughout the world. He also set in motion, on the basis of the strong administrative structure that had been established, the processes which were an essential preparation for the election of the Universal House of Justice.