The Kitáb-i-Aqdas - The Most Holy Book
Index term: Arabic
We have enjoined obligatory prayer upon you
In Arabic, there are several words for prayer. The word "salát", which appears here in the original, refers to a particular category of prayers, the recitation of which at specific times of the day is enjoined on the believers. To differentiate this category of prayers from other kinds, the word has been translated as "obligatory prayer".
Bahá'u'lláh states that "obligatory prayer and fasting occupy an exalted station in the sight of God" (Q&A 93). 'Abdu'l-Bahá affirms that such prayers are "conducive to humility and submissiveness, to setting one's face towards God and expressing devotion to Him", and that through these prayers "man holdeth communion with God, seeketh to draw near unto Him, converseth with the true Beloved of his heart, and attaineth spiritual stations".
The Obligatory Prayer (see note 9) referred to in this verse has been superseded by the three Obligatory Prayers later revealed by Bahá'u'lláh (Q&A 63). The texts of the three prayers currently in use, together with instructions regarding their recital, are to be found in this volume in Some Texts Supplementary to the Kitáb-i-Aqdas.
A number of the items in Questions and Answers deal with aspects of the three new Obligatory Prayers. Bahá'u'lláh clarifies that the individual is permitted to choose any one of the three Obligatory Prayers (Q&A 65). Other provisions are elucidated in Questions and Answers, numbers 66, 67, 81, and 82.
The details of the law concerning obligatory prayer are summarized in section IV.A.1.-17. of the Synopsis and Codification.
Upon completing your prostrations, seat yourselves cross-legged
The Arabic expression "haykalu't-tawhíd", translated here as "cross-legged", means the "posture of unity". It has traditionally signified a cross-legged position.
We have ordained that these . . . shall be the manifestations of the letter Há
Known as the Ayyám-i-Há (the Days of Há), the Intercalary Days have the distinction of being associated with "the letter Há". The abjad numerical value of this Arabic letter is five, which corresponds to the potential number of intercalary days.
The letter "Há" has been given several spiritual meanings in the Holy Writings, among which is as a symbol of the Essence of God.
Abstain from food and drink from sunrise to sundown
This relates to the period of fasting. In one of His Tablets, 'Abdu'l-Bahá, after stating that fasting consists of abstinence from food and drink, further indicates that smoking is a form of "drink". In Arabic the verb "drink" applies equally to smoking.
It hath been ordained that every believer in God . . . shall, each day . . . repeat
"Alláh-u-Abhá" is an Arabic phrase meaning "God the All-Glorious". It is a form of the Greatest Name of God (see note 137). In Islám there is a tradition that among the many names of God, one was the greatest; however, the identity of this Greatest Name was hidden. Bahá'u'lláh has confirmed that the Greatest Name is "Bahá".
The various derivatives of the word "Bahá" are also regarded as the Greatest Name. Shoghi Effendi's secretary writing on his behalf explains that

The Greatest Name is the Name of Bahá'u'lláh. "Yá Bahá'u'l-Abhá" is an invocation meaning: "O Thou Glory of Glories!". "Alláh-u-Abhá" is a greeting which means: "God the All-Glorious". Both refer to Bahá'u'lláh. By Greatest Name is meant that Bahá'u'lláh has appeared in God's Greatest Name, in other words, that He is the supreme Manifestation of God.

The greeting "Alláh-u-Abhá" was adopted during the period of Bahá'u'lláh's exile in Adrianople.
The repetition of "Alláh-u-Abhá" ninety-five times is to be preceded by the performance of ablutions (see note 34).
or adultery
The Arabic word "ziná", here translated as "adultery", signifies both fornication and adultery. It applies not only to sexual relations between a married person and someone who is not his or her spouse, but also to extramarital sexual intercourse in general. One form of "ziná" is rape. The only penalty prescribed by Bahá'u'lláh is for those who commit fornication (see note 77); penalties for other kinds of sexual offence are left to the Universal House of Justice to determine.
If the deceased should leave children who are under age, their share of the inheritance must be entrusted to a reliable individual
The word "amín", translated in this paragraph as "reliable individual" and "trustee", conveys in Arabic a wide range of meanings connected principally with the idea of trustworthiness, but signifying also such qualities as reliability, loyalty, faithfulness, uprightness, honesty, and so forth. Used in legal parlance "amín" denotes, among other things, a trustee, guarantor, custodian, guardian, and keeper.
This is that hidden knowledge which shall never change, since its beginning is with nine
In the Arabic Bayán the Báb described His inheritance law as being "in accordance with a hidden knowledge in the Book of God -- a knowledge that shall never change or be replaced". He also stated that the numbers by which the division of the inheritance was expressed had been invested with a significance intended to aid in the recognition of Him Whom God will make manifest.
The "nine" mentioned here is represented in the Arabic text by the letter "Tá", which is its equivalent in the abjad notation (see Glossary). It is the first element of the Báb's division of inheritance, where He designates "nine parts" as the share of the children. The significance of nine lies in its being the numerical equivalent of the Greatest Name "Bahá", alluded to in the next part of this verse as "the concealed and manifest, the inviolable and unapproachably exalted Name". (See also note 33.)
"Aghsán" (plural of Ghusn) is the Arabic word for "Branches". This term is used by Bahá'u'lláh to designate His male descendants. It has particular implications not only for the disposition of endowments but also for the succession of authority following the passing of Bahá'u'lláh (see note 145) and of 'Abdu'l-Bahá. Bahá'u'lláh, in the Book of His Covenant, appointed 'Abdu'l-Bahá, His eldest son, as the Centre of His Covenant and the Head of the Faith. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, in His Will and Testament, appointed Shoghi Effendi, His eldest grandson, as the Guardian and Head of the Faith.
This passage of the Aqdas, therefore, anticipates the succession of chosen Aghsán and thus the institution of the Guardianship and envisages the possibility of a break in their line. The passing of Shoghi Effendi in 1957 precipitated the very situation provided for in this passage, in that the line of Aghsán ended before the Universal House of Justice had been established (see note 67).
Adopt ye such usages as are most in keeping with refinement.
This is the first of several passages referring to the importance of refinement and cleanliness. The original Arabic word "latáfah", rendered here as "refinement", has a wide range of meanings with both spiritual and physical implications, such as elegance, gracefulness, cleanliness, civility, politeness, gentleness, delicacy and graciousness, as well as being subtle, refined, sanctified and pure. In accordance with the context of the various passages where it occurs in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, it has been translated either as "refinement" or "cleanliness".
the subject of boys
The word translated here as "boys" has, in this context, in the Arabic original, the implication of paederasty. Shoghi Effendi has interpreted this reference as a prohibition on all homosexual relations.
The Bahá'í teachings on sexual morality centre on marriage and the family as the bedrock of the whole structure of human society and are designed to protect and strengthen that divine institution. Bahá'í law thus restricts permissible sexual intercourse to that between a man and the woman to whom he is married.
In a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi it is stated:

No matter how devoted and fine the love may be between people of the same sex, to let it find expression in sexual acts is wrong. To say that it is ideal is no excuse. Immorality of every sort is really forbidden by Bahá'u'lláh, and homosexual relationships He looks upon as such, besides being against nature. To be afflicted this way is a great burden to a conscientious soul. But through the advice and help of doctors, through a strong and determined effort, and through prayer, a soul can overcome this handicap.

Bahá'u'lláh makes provision for the Universal House of Justice to determine, according to the degree of the offence, penalties for adultery and sodomy (Q&A 49).
the "Six" raised up by virtue of this "Upright Alif"
In his writings, Shaykh Ahmad-i-Ahsá'í placed great emphasis on the Arabic letter "Váv". In The Dawn-Breakers, Nabíl states that this letter "symbolized for the Báb the advent of a new cycle of Divine Revelation, and has since been alluded to by Bahá'u'lláh in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas in such passages as 'the mystery of the Great Reversal' and 'the Sign of the Sovereign'".
The name for the letter "Váv" consists of three letters: Váv, Alif, Váv. According to the abjad reckoning, the numerical value of each of these letters is 6, 1 and 6 respectively. Shoghi Effendi in a letter written on his behalf to one of the believers in the East provides an interpretation of this verse of the Aqdas. He states that the "Upright Alif" refers to the advent of the Báb. The first letter with its value of six, which comes before the Alif, is a symbol of earlier Dispensations and Manifestations which predate the Báb, while the third letter, which also has a numerical value of six, stands for Bahá'u'lláh's supreme Revelation which was made manifest after the Alif.
any reference to Viceregency debar you from the sovereignty of Him Who is the Viceregent of God
The word here translated "Vicegerency" is, in the original Arabic, "vilayát", which has a range of meanings including "vicegerency", "guardianship", "protectorship" and "successorship". It is used in relation to God Himself, to His Manifestation, or to those who are the appointed Successors of a Manifestation.
In this verse of the Aqdas, Bahá'u'lláh warns against allowing such concepts to blind one to the "sovereignty" of the new Divine Manifestation, the true "Vicegerent of God".
the letters B and E were joined and knit together
Shoghi Effendi, in letters written on his behalf, has explained the significance of the "letters B and E". They constitute the word "Be", which, he states, "means the creative Power of God Who through His command causes all things to come into being" and "the power of the Manifestation of God, His great spiritual creative force".
The imperative "Be" in the original Arabic is the word "kun", consisting of the two letters "káf" and "nún". They have been translated by Shoghi Effendi in the above manner. This word has been used in the Qur'án as God's bidding calling creation into being.