The Kitáb-i-Aqdas - The Most Holy Book
Index term: House of Justice, Local
k21.
Should the deceased leave no offspring, their share shall revert to the House of Justice, to be expended by the Trustees of the All-Merciful on the orphaned and widowed, and on whatsoever will bring benefit to the generality of the people, that all may give thanks unto their Lord, the All-Gracious, the Pardoner.
k22.
Should the deceased leave offspring, but none of the other categories of heirs that have been specified in the Book, they shall receive two thirds of the inheritance and the remaining third shall revert to the House of Justice. Such is the command which hath been given, in majesty and glory, by Him Who is the All-Possessing, the Most High.
k30.
The Lord hath ordained that in every city a House of Justice be established wherein shall gather counsellors to the number of Bahá, and should it exceed this number it doth not matter. They should consider themselves as entering the Court of the presence of God, the Exalted, the Most High, and as beholding Him Who is the Unseen. It behoveth them to be the trusted ones of the Merciful among men and to regard themselves as the guardians appointed of God for all that dwell on earth. It is incumbent upon them to take counsel together and to have regard for the interests of the servants of God, for His sake, even as they regard their own interests, and to choose that which is meet and seemly. Thus hath the Lord your God commanded you. Beware lest ye put away that which is clearly revealed in His Tablet. Fear God, O ye that perceive.
k147.
It is unlawful to beg, and it is forbidden to give to him who beggeth. All have been enjoined to earn a living, and as for those who are incapable of doing so, it is incumbent on the Deputies of God and on the wealthy to make adequate provision for them. Keep ye the statutes and commandments of God; nay, guard them as ye would your very eyes, and be not of those who suffer grievous loss.
n38.
We have divided inheritance into seven categories
The Bahá'í laws of inheritance apply only in case of intestacy, that is, when the individual dies without leaving a will. In the Kitáb-i-Aqdas (109), Bahá'u'lláh instructs every believer to write a will. He elsewhere clearly states that the individual has full jurisdiction over his property and is free to determine the manner in which his or her estate is to be divided and to designate, in the will, those, whether Bahá'í or non-Bahá'í, who should inherit (Q&A 69). In this connection, a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi explains that:

. . . even though a Bahá'í is permitted in his will to dispose of his wealth in the way he wishes, yet he is morally and conscientiously bound to always bear in mind, while writing his will, the necessity of his upholding the principle of Bahá'u'lláh regarding the social function of wealth, and the consequent necessity of avoiding its over-accumulation and concentration in a few individuals or groups of individuals.

This verse of the Aqdas introduces a lengthy passage in which Bahá'u'lláh elaborates the Bahá'í law of inheritance. In reading this passage one should bear in mind that the law is formulated with the presumption that the deceased is a man; its provisions apply, mutatis mutandis, when the deceased is a woman.
The system of inheritance which provides for distribution of the deceased's estate among seven categories of heirs (children, spouse, father, mother, brothers, sisters, and teachers) is based on the provisions set out by the Báb in the Bayán. The major features of the Bahá'í laws of inheritance in the case of intestacy are:

1. If the deceased is a father and his estate includes a personal residence, such residence passes to the eldest son (Q&A 34).

2. If the deceased has no male descendants, two thirds of the residence pass to his female descendants and the remaining third passes to the House of Justice (Q&A 41, 72). See note 42 concerning the levels of the institution of the House of Justice to which this law applies. (See also note 44.)

3. The remainder of the estate is divided among the seven categories of heirs. For details of the number of shares to be received by each group, see Questions and Answers, number 5, and Synopsis and Codification, section IV.C.3.a.

4. In case there is more than one heir in any category the share allotted to that class should be divided between them equally, be they male or female.

5. In cases where there is no issue, the share of the children reverts to the House of Justice (Q&A 7, 41).

6. Should one leave offspring, but either part or all of the other categories of heirs be non-existent, two thirds of their shares revert to the offspring and one third to the House of Justice (Q&A 7).

7. Should none of the specified categories exist, two thirds of the estate revert to the nephews and nieces of the deceased. If these do not exist, the same shares revert to the aunts and uncles; lacking these, to their sons and daughters. In any case the remaining third reverts to the House of Justice.

8. Should one leave none of the aforementioned heirs, the entire estate reverts to the House of Justice.

9. Bahá'u'lláh states that non-Bahá'ís have no right to inherit from their Bahá'í parents or relatives (Q&A 34). Shoghi Effendi in a letter written on his behalf indicates that this restriction applies "only to such cases when a Bahá'í dies without leaving a will and when, therefore, his property will have to be divided in accordance with the rules set forth in the Aqdas. Otherwise, a Bahá'í is free to bequeath his property to any person, irrespective of religion, provided however he leaves a will, specifying his wishes." It is always possible, therefore, for a Bahá'í to provide for his or her non-Bahá'í partner, children or relatives by leaving a will.

Additional details of the laws of inheritance are summarized in the Synopsis and Codification, section IV.C.3.a.-o.
n39.
to the brothers, five parts . . . to the sisters, four parts
Questions and Answers amplifies the provisions of the law as it relates to the shares of the inheritance allocated to the brothers and sisters of the deceased. If the brother or sister is from the same father as the deceased, he or she will inherit his or her full allotted share. If, however, the brother or sister is from another father he or she will inherit only two thirds of the allotted share, the remaining one third reverting to the House of Justice (Q&A 6). Further, in the case where the deceased has full brothers or full sisters among his heirs, half-brothers and half-sisters from the mother's side do not inherit (Q&A 53). The half-brothers and half-sisters will, of course, be due to receive inheritance from their own father's estate.
n42.
the House of Justice
In referring to the House of Justice in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, Bahá'u'lláh does not always explicitly distinguish between the Universal House of Justice and the Local House of Justice, both of which institutions are ordained in that Book. He usually refers simply to "the House of Justice", leaving open for later clarification the level or levels of the whole institution to which each law would apply.
In a Tablet enumerating the revenues of the local treasury, 'Abdu'l-Bahá includes those inheritances for which there are no heirs, thus indicating that the House of Justice referred to in these passages of the Aqdas relating to inheritance is the local one.
n43.
Should the deceased leave offspring, but none of the other categories of heirs
Bahá'u'lláh clarifies that "This ruling hath both general and specific application, which is to say that whenever any category of this latter class of heirs is absent, two thirds of their inheritance pass to the offspring and the remaining third to the House of Justice" (Q&A 7).
n44.
We have assigned the residence and personal clothing of the deceased to the male, not female, offspring, nor to the other heirs.
In a Tablet, 'Abdu'l-Bahá indicates that the residence and personal clothing of a deceased man remain in the male line. They pass to the eldest son and in the absence of the eldest son, they pass to the second-eldest son, and so on. He explains that this provision is an expression of the law of primogeniture, which has invariably been upheld by the Law of God. In a Tablet to a follower of the Faith in Persia He wrote: "In all the Divine Dispensations the eldest son hath been given extraordinary distinctions. Even the station of prophethood hath been his birthright." With the distinctions given to the eldest son, however, go concomitant duties. For example, he has the moral responsibility, for the sake of God, to care for his mother and also to consider the needs of the other heirs.
Bahá'u'lláh clarifies various aspects of this part of the law of inheritance. He specifies that if there be more than one residence, the principal and most important one passes to the male offspring. The remaining residences will, together with the other possessions of the deceased, have to be divided among the heirs (Q&A 34), and He indicates that in the absence of male offspring, two thirds of the principal residence and the personal clothing of the deceased father will revert to the female issue and one third to the House of Justice (Q&A 72). Further, when the deceased is a woman, Bahá'u'lláh states that all her used clothing is to be equally divided amongst her daughters. Her unworn clothing, jewels and property must be divided among her heirs, as well as her used clothing if she leaves no daughter (Q&A 37).
n49.
The Lord hath ordained that in every city a House of Justice be established
The institution of the House of Justice consists of elected councils which operate at the local, national and international levels of society. Bahá'u'lláh ordains both the Universal House of Justice and the Local Houses of Justice in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, in His Will and Testament, provides for the Secondary (National or Regional) Houses of Justice and outlines the method to be pursued for the election of the Universal House of Justice.
In the verse cited above, the reference is to the Local House of Justice, an institution which is to be elected in a locality whenever there are nine or more resident adult Bahá'ís. For this purpose, the definition of adult was temporarily fixed at the age of 21 years by the Guardian, who indicated it was open to change by the Universal House of Justice in the future.
Local and Secondary Houses of Justice are, for the present, known as Local Spiritual Assemblies and National Spiritual Assemblies. Shoghi Effendi has indicated that this is a "temporary appellation" which,

. . . as the position and aims of the Bahá'í Faith are better understood and more fully recognized, will gradually be superseded by the permanent and more appropriate designation of House of Justice. Not only will the present-day Spiritual Assemblies be styled differently in future, but they will be enabled also to add to their present functions those powers, duties, and prerogatives necessitated by the recognition of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh, not merely as one of the recognized religious systems of the world, but as the State Religion of an independent and Sovereign Power.
n50.
the number of Bahá
The abjad numerical equivalent of "Bahá" is nine. The Universal House of Justice and the National and Local Spiritual Assemblies currently have nine members each, the minimum number prescribed by Bahá'u'lláh.
n51.
It behoveth them to be the trusted ones of the Merciful among men
The general powers and duties of the Universal House of Justice, the National Spiritual Assemblies and the Local Spiritual Assemblies and the qualifications for membership are set forth in the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá, in the letters of Shoghi Effendi, and in the elucidations of the Universal House of Justice. The major functions of these institutions are outlined in the Constitution of the Universal House of Justice, and in those of the National and Local Spiritual Assemblies.
n56.
to engage in some occupation
It is obligatory for men and women to engage in a trade or profession. Bahá'u'lláh exalts "engagement in such work" to the "rank of worship" of God. The spiritual and practical significance of this law, and the mutual responsibility of the individual and society for its implementation are explained in a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi:

With reference to Bahá'u'lláh's command concerning the engagement of the believers in some sort of profession: the Teachings are most emphatic on this matter, particularly the statement in the Aqdas to this effect which makes it quite clear that idle people who lack the desire to work can have no place in the new World Order. As a corollary of this principle, Bahá'u'lláh further states that mendicity should not only be discouraged but entirely wiped out from the face of society. It is the duty of those who are in charge of the organization of society to give every individual the opportunity of acquiring the necessary talent in some kind of profession, and also the means of utilizing such a talent, both for its own sake and for the sake of earning the means of his livelihood. Every individual, no matter how handicapped and limited he may be, is under the obligation of engaging in some work or profession, for work, especially when performed in the spirit of service, is according to Bahá'u'lláh a form of worship. It has not only a utilitarian purpose, but has a value in itself, because it draws us nearer to God, and enables us to better grasp His purpose for us in this world. It is obvious, therefore, that the inheritance of wealth cannot make anyone immune from daily work.

In one of His Tablets, 'Abdu'l-Bahá states that "if a person is incapable of earning a living, is stricken by dire poverty or becometh helpless, then it is incumbent on the wealthy or the Deputies to provide him with a monthly allowance for his subsistence. . . . By 'Deputies' is meant the representatives of the people, that is to say the members of the House of Justice." (See also note 162 on mendicancy.)
In response to a question concerning whether Bahá'u'lláh's injunction requires a wife and mother, as well as her husband, to work for a livelihood, the Universal House of Justice has explained that Bahá'u'lláh's directive is for the friends to be engaged in an occupation which will profit themselves and others, and that homemaking is a highly honourable and responsible work of fundamental importance to society.
Concerning the retirement from work for individuals who have reached a certain age, Shoghi Effendi in a letter written on his behalf stated that "this is a matter on which the International House of Justice will have to legislate as there are no provisions in the Aqdas concerning it".
n80.
O ye Men of Justice!
It has been elucidated in the writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi that, while the membership of the Universal House of Justice is confined to men, both women and men are eligible for election to Secondary and Local Houses of Justice (currently designated as National and Local Spiritual Assemblies).
n100.
Should resentment or antipathy arise between husband and wife, he is not to divorce her but to bide in patience throughout the course of one whole year
Divorce is strongly condemned in the Bahá'í Teachings. If, however, antipathy or resentment develop between the marriage partners, divorce is permissible after the lapse of one full year. During this year of patience, the husband is obliged to provide for the financial support of his wife and children, and the couple is urged to strive to reconcile their differences. Shoghi Effendi affirms that both the husband and wife "have equal right to ask for divorce" whenever either partner "feels it absolutely essential to do so".
In Questions and Answers, Bahá'u'lláh elaborates a number of issues concerning the year of patience, its observance (Q&A 12), establishing the date of its beginning (Q&A 19 and 40), the conditions for reconciliation (Q&A 38), and the role of witnesses and the Local House of Justice (Q&A 73 and 98). In relation to the witnesses, the Universal House of Justice has clarified that in these days the duties of the witnesses in cases of divorce are performed by the Spiritual Assemblies.
The detailed provisions of the Bahá'í laws on divorce are summarized in the Synopsis and Codification, section IV.C.2.a.-i.
n162.
It is unlawful to beg, and it is forbidden to give to him who beggeth.
In a Tablet 'Abdu'l-Bahá expounds the meaning of this verse. He states that "mendicancy is forbidden and that giving charity to people who take up begging as their profession is also prohibited". He further points out in that same Tablet: "The object is to uproot mendicancy altogether. However, if a person is incapable of earning a living, is stricken by dire poverty or becometh helpless, then it is incumbent on the wealthy or the Deputies to provide him with a monthly allowance for his subsistence . . . By 'Deputies' is meant the representatives of the people, that is to say the members of the House of Justice."
The prohibition against giving charity to people who beg does not preclude individuals and Spiritual Assemblies from extending financial assistance to the poor and needy or from providing them with opportunities to acquire such skills as would enable them to earn a livelihood (see note 56).
q6.
 
Question: Is it necessary that the brother, in order to qualify for his portion of the inheritance, be descended from both the father and the mother of the deceased, or is it sufficient merely that there be one parent in common?
Answer: If the brother be descended from the father he shall receive his share of the inheritance in the prescribed measure recorded in the Book; but if he be descended from the mother, he shall receive only two thirds of his entitlement, the remaining third reverting to the House of Justice. This ruling is also applicable to the sister.
q7.
 
Question: Amongst the provisions concerning inheritance it hath been laid down that, should the deceased leave no offspring, their share of the estate is to revert to the House of Justice. In the event of other categories of heirs, such as the father, mother, brother, sister and teacher being similarly absent, do their shares of the inheritance also revert to the House of Justice, or are they dealt with in some other fashion?
Answer: The sacred verse sufficeth. He saith, exalted be His Word: "Should the deceased leave no offspring, their share shall revert to the House of Justice" etc. and "Should the deceased leave offspring, but none of the other categories of heirs that have been specified in the Book, they shall receive two thirds of the inheritance and the remaining third shall revert to the House of Justice" etc. In other words, where there are no offspring, their allotted portion of the inheritance reverteth to the House of Justice; and where there are offspring but the other categories of heirs are lacking, two thirds of the inheritance pass to the offspring, the remaining third reverting to the House of Justice. This ruling hath both general and specific application, which is to say that whenever any category of this latter class of heirs is absent, two thirds of their inheritance pass to the offspring and the remaining third to the House of Justice.
q28.
 
Question: Again inquiry hath been made about the teacher's share of the inheritance.
Answer: Should the teacher have passed away, one third of his share of the inheritance reverteth to the House of Justice, and the remaining two thirds pass to the deceased's, and not the teacher's, offspring.
q33.
 
Question: Again inquiry hath been made about the inheritance of the teacher.
Answer: If the teacher is not of the people of Bahá, he doth not inherit. Should there be several teachers, the share is to be divided equally amongst them. If the teacher is deceased, his offspring do not inherit his share, but rather two thirds of it revert to the children of the owner of the estate, and the remaining one third to the House of Justice.
q41.
 
Question: The residence and personal clothing of the deceased have been assigned to the male, not female, offspring, nor to the other heirs; should the deceased have left no male offspring, what is to be done?
Answer: He saith, exalted be He: "Should the deceased leave no offspring, their share shall revert to the House of Justice . . ." In conformity with this sacred verse, the residence and personal clothing of the deceased revert to the House of Justice.
q72.
 
Question: Again a question hath been asked concerning the residence and personal clothing: are these to revert, in the absence of male offspring, to the House of Justice, or are they to be distributed like the rest of the estate?
Answer: Two thirds of the residence and personal clothing pass to the female offspring, and one third to the House of Justice, which God hath made to be the treasury of the people.
q98.
 
Question: A further question on divorce.
Answer: Since God, exalted be His glory, doth not favour divorce, nothing was revealed on this issue. However, from the beginning of the separation until the end of one year, two people or more must remain informed as witnesses; if, by the end, there is no reconciliation, divorce taketh place. This must be recorded in the registry by the religious judicial officer of the city appointed by the Trustees of the House of Justice. Observance of this procedure is essential lest those that are possessed of an understanding heart be saddened.
q100.
 
Question: Concerning inheritance.
Answer: Regarding inheritance, that which the Primal Point hath ordained -- may the souls of all else but Him be offered up for His sake -- is well pleasing. The existing heirs should receive their allotted shares of the inheritance, while a statement of the remainder must be submitted to the Court of the Most High. In His hand is the source of authority; He ordaineth as He pleaseth. In this regard, a law was revealed in the Land of Mystery [Adrianople], temporarily awarding the missing heirs' inheritance to the existing heirs until such time as the House of Justice shall be established, when the decree concerning this will be promulgated. The inheritance, however, of those who emigrated in the same year as the Ancient Beauty, hath been awarded to their heirs, and this is a bounty of God bestowed upon them.