Texts & Scriptures
of the
Bahá'í Faith
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From The Báb

Persian Bayán · Arabic Bayán
Writings of the Báb

From Bahá'u'lláh

Epistle to the Son of the Wolf
Four Valleys
Gems of Divine Mysteries
Gleanings · Kitáb-i-Aqdas
Kitáb-i-Íqán · Hidden Words
Seven Valleys
Summons of the Lord of Hosts
Tabernacle of Unity
Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh

From `Abdu'l-Bahá

Paris Talks
The Secret of Divine Civilization
Some Answered Questions
Tablets of the Divine Plan
Tablet to Dr. Forel
Tablet to The Hague
Will and Testament

From Shoghi Effendi

The Advent of Divine Justice
Bahá'í Administration
God Passes By
World Order of Bahá'u'lláh
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The Kitáb-i-Aqdas is a central book of the Bahá'í Faith written by Bahá'u'lláh, the founder of the religion. The work was written in Arabic under the Arabic title al-Kitābu l-Aqdas (Arabic: الكتاب الأقدس‎), but it is commonly referred to by its Persian title, Kitáb-i-Aqdas (Persian: كتاب اقدس), which was given to the work by Bahá'u'lláh himself. It is sometimes also referred to as The Aqdas, "the Most Holy Book", "the Book of Laws" and occasionally the Book of Aqdas.

It is usually stated that the book was completed around 1873, although there is evidence to suggest that at least some of the work was written earlier.[1] Bahá'u'lláh had manuscript copies sent to Bahá'ís in Iran some years after the revelation of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, and in 1890–91 (1308 AH, 47 BE) he arranged for the publication of the original Arabic text of the book in Bombay, India.

The Kitáb-i-Aqdas is referred to as "the Mother-Book" of the Bahá'í teachings, and the "Charter of the future world civilization".[2] 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 Kitáb-i-Aqdas also discusses the establishment of Bahá'í administrative institutions, Bahá'í religious practices, laws of personal status, criminal law, ethical exhortations, social principles, miscellaneous laws and abrogations, and prophecies.


Gradual implementation

Bahá'u'lláh stated that the observance of the laws that he prescribed should be subject to "tact and wisdom", and that they do not cause "disturbance and dissension."[3][4] Bahá'u'lláh thus provided for the progressive application of his laws; for example certain Bahá'í laws are only applicable to Middle Eastern Bahá'ís such as the limit to the period of engagement, while any Bahá'í may practice the laws if they so decide.[3] Shoghi Effendi also stated that certain other laws, such as criminal laws, that are dependent upon the existence of a predominantly Bahá'í society would only be applicable in a possible future Bahá'í society.[3][5] He also stated that if the laws were in conflict with the civil law of the country where a Bahá'í lives the laws could not be practiced.[3] Furthermore some laws and teachings are, according to Bahá'í teaching, not meant to be applied at the present time and their application depends on decisions by the Universal House of Justice. Baha'is believe the Aqdas supersedes and succeeds previous revelations such as the Quran and the Bible.[6]

Form and style

The text of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas consists of several hundred verses, which have been grouped in 189 numbered paragraphs in the English translation. The style combines elements of both poetry (shi'r) and rhymed prose (saj') and the text contains instances of literary devices like alliteration, assonance, repetition, onomatopoeia, juxtaposition and antithesis, metaphors, alternation of person and personification. Many of these can be only imperfectly reproduced in English.[7]

1873 Revelation
1973 Synopsis and Codification
1992 Official Bahá'í translation


The Kitáb-i-Aqdas was written in 1873. Around 1900 an English translation was made by Anton Haddad, which circulated among the early American Bahá'í community. In 1961 Christian missionary Earl E. Elder made a literal translation. In 1973, on the occasion of the centanary of the revelation of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, the Universal House of Justice published a Synopsis and Codification[8] of the text, which was supplemented by 21 passages of the Aqdas that had already been translated by Shoghi Effendi. Only in 1992 a complete official Bahá'í translation was published, which includes several supplements like Questions and Answers and notes.[9][10] This translation is used for translations into other languages.[11]


The Kitáb-i-Aqdas is supplemented by the

  • "Questions and Answers"', which consists of 107 questions submitted to Bahá'u'lláh by Zaynu'l-Muqarrabin concerning the application of the laws and Bahá'u'lláh's replies to those questions
  • "Some Texts Revealed by Bahá'u'lláh"
  • Synopsis and Codification of the Laws and Ordinances, prepared by Shoghi Effendi
  • explanatory notes prepared by the Universal House of Justice

The book was divided into six main themes in the Synopsis and Codification by Shoghi Effendi:

  1. The appointment of `Abdu'l-Bahá as the successor of Bahá'u'lláh
  2. Anticipation of the Institution of the Guardianship
  3. The Institution of the Universal House of Justice
  4. Laws, Ordinances and exhortations
  5. Specific admonitions, reproofs and warnings
  6. Miscellaneous subjects

Further, the laws were divided into four categories:

A. Prayer
B. Fasting
C. Laws of personal status
D. Miscellaneous laws, ordinances and exhortations


Some laws and teachings of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas are, according to Bahá'í teaching, not meant to be applied at the present time; their application depends on decisions by the Universal House of Justice. See also Bahá'í laws for laws in practice in Bahá'í communities.


Bahá'ís between 15 and 70 years of age are to perform a daily obligatory prayer, and can choose daily from among three, all of which are accompanied by specific rites, and preceded by ablutions. During the obligatory prayer Bahá'ís face the Qiblih, which is the Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh in Bahjí, Israel. People are exempt from the obligatory prayers when ill, in danger, or women during their courses.

Congregational prayer is forbidden, except for the case of the Prayer for the Dead.


The Bahá'í fast is observed from sunrise to sunset in the Bahá'í month of `Alá' from 2 March through 20 March. During this time Bahá'ís in good health between the ages of 15 and 70 abstain from eating and drinking. Exemptions to the fast are given to people who are travelling, ill, pregnant, nursing, menstruating, or engaged in heavy labour. Vowing to fast outside of the prescribed fasting period is permissible, and encouraged when done for the benefit of mankind.

Laws of personal status

Marriage and divorce

In the Kitáb-i-Aqdas marriage is highly recommended but is stated to not be obligatory. Bahá'ís need to be at least 15 years of age to get married, and the consent of all living biological parents is needed to get married. Marriage is also conditioned a payment of dowry by the husband to the wife of approximately 2.2 troy ounces of gold or silver dependent on the permanent residence of the husband. The Kitáb-i-Aqdas allows a man to marry two wives under the condition that they be treated equally. Later, `Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi clarified that monogamy was the intent of the paragraph.

Divorce is permitted, although discouraged, and is granted after a year of separation if the couple is unable to reconcile their differences.


In the Kitáb-i-Aqdas it is stated that all Bahá'ís must write a will. The other Bahá’í laws of inheritance in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas apply only in case of intestacy, that is, when the individual dies without leaving a will. The system of inheritance provides for distribution of the deceased's estate among seven categories of heirs: children, spouse, father, mother, brothers, sisters, and teachers with higher categories obtaining a larger share. In cases where some of the categories of heirs does not exist the share falls partly to the children and the Local Spiritual Assembly.

See also



  1. ^ Walbridge, John (1999). "Kitab-i Aqdas, the Most Holy Book". Bahá'í Library. Retrieved 29 April 2009. 
  2. ^ Effendi 1944, pp. 213
  3. ^ a b c d Smith, Peter (2000). "law". A concise encyclopedia of the Bahá'í Faith. Oxford: Oneworld Publications. pp. 223–225. ISBN 1-85168-184-1. 
  4. ^ Bahá'u'lláh 1873, p. 6
  5. ^ Smith 2008, pp. 160
  6. ^ The Aqdas; Universal House of Justice A DESCRIPTION OF THE AQDAS BY SHOGHI EFFENDI
  7. ^ Bushrui 1994, pp. 39–53
  8. ^ Synopsis and Codification of the Laws and Ordinances of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas by Bahá'u'lláh and Shoghi Effendi
  9. ^ Smith, Peter (2000). "Aqdas, Kitáb-i-". A concise encyclopedia of the Bahá'í Faith. Oxford: Oneworld Publications. pp. 43–44. ISBN 1-85168-184-1. 
  10. ^ See also the Kitab-i-Aqdas Multilinear Translation project.
  11. ^ See for example Editions and printings of "The Kitáb-i-Aqdas" by the Internation Bahá'í Library.


  • Bushrui, Suheil (1995). The Style of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas - Aspects of the Sublime. College Park, Maryland, USA: University Press of Maryland. ISBN 1883053080. OL1114213. 
  • Hatcher, J.S. (1997). The Ocean of His Words: A Reader's Guide to the Art of Bahá'u'lláh. Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Bahá'í Publishing Trust. ISBN 0877432597. 
  • Rouhani Ma'ani, Baharieh; and Ma‘ani Ewing, Sovaida. The Laws of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas. Oxford, UK: George Ronald. ISBN 0853984767. 

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