The Kitáb-i-Aqdas - The Most Holy Book
Index term: House(s) of Justice
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.
k48.
Unto every father hath been enjoined the instruction of his son and daughter in the art of reading and writing and in all that hath been laid down in the Holy Tablet. He that putteth away that which is commanded unto him, the Trustees are then to take from him that which is required for their instruction if he be wealthy and, if not, the matter devolveth upon the House of Justice. Verily have We made it a shelter for the poor and needy. He that bringeth up his son or the son of another, it is as though he hath brought up a son of Mine; upon him rest My glory, My loving-kindness, My mercy, that have compassed the world.
k49.
God hath imposed a fine on every adulterer and adulteress, to be paid to the House of Justice: nine mithqáls of gold, to be doubled if they should repeat the offence. Such is the penalty which He Who is the Lord of Names hath assigned them in this world; and in the world to come He hath ordained for them a humiliating torment. Should anyone be afflicted by a sin, it behoveth him to repent thereof and return unto his Lord. He, verily, granteth forgiveness unto whomsoever He willeth, and none may question that which it pleaseth Him to ordain. He is, in truth, the Ever-Forgiving, the Almighty, the All-Praised.
k52.
We have decreed that a third part of all fines shall go to the Seat of Justice, and We admonish its men to observe pure justice, that they may expend what is thus accumulated for such purposes as have been enjoined upon them by Him Who is the All-Knowing, the All-Wise. O ye Men of Justice! Be ye, in the realm of God, shepherds unto His sheep and guard them from the ravening wolves that have appeared in disguise, even as ye would guard your own sons. Thus exhorteth you the Counsellor, the Faithful.
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.
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.
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".
n77.
God hath imposed a fine on every adulterer and adulteress, to be paid to the House of Justice
Although the term translated here as adultery refers, in its broadest sense, to unlawful sexual intercourse between either married or unmarried individuals (see note 36 for a definition of the term), 'Abdu'l-Bahá has specified that the punishment here prescribed is for sexual intercourse between persons who are unmarried. He indicates that it remains for the Universal House of Justice to determine the penalty for adultery committed by a married individual. (See also Q&A 49.)
In one of His Tablets, 'Abdu'l-Bahá refers to some of the spiritual and social implications of the violation of the laws of morality and, concerning the penalty here described, He indicates that the aim of this law is to make clear to all that such an action is shameful in the eyes of God and that, in the event that the offence can be established and the fine imposed, the principal purpose is the exposure of the offenders -- that they are shamed and disgraced in the eyes of society. He affirms that such exposure is in itself the greatest punishment.
The House of Justice referred to in this verse is presumably the Local House of Justice, currently known as the Local Spiritual Assembly.
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).
n133.
It is forbidden you to wed your fathers' wives.
Marriage with one's stepmother is here explicitly prohibited. This prohibition also applies to marrying one's stepfather. Where Bahá'u'lláh has expressed a law between a man and a woman it applies mutatis mutandis as between a woman and a man unless the context should make this impossible.
'Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi confirmed that, while stepmothers are the only category of relatives mentioned in the text, this does not mean that all other unions within a family are permissible. Bahá'u'lláh states that it devolves upon the House of Justice to legislate "concerning the legitimacy or otherwise of marrying one's relatives" (Q&A 50). 'Abdu'l-Bahá has written that the more distant the blood-relationship between the couple the better, since such marriages provide the basis for the physical well-being of humanity and are conducive to fellowship among mankind.
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).
q11.
 
Question: If intercourse take place between a couple during their year of patience, and they become estranged again thereafter, must they recommence their year of patience, or may the days preceding the intercourse be included in the reckoning of the year? And once divorce hath taken place, is it necessary that a further period of waiting be observed?
Answer: Should affection be renewed between the couple during their year of patience, the marriage tie is valid, and what is commanded in the Book of God must be observed; but once the year of patience hath been completed and that which is decreed by God taketh place, a further period of waiting is not required. Sexual intercourse between husband and wife is forbidden during their year of patience, and whoso committeth this act must seek God's forgiveness, and, as a punishment, render to the House of Justice a fine of nineteen mithqáls of gold.
q50.
 
Question: Concerning the legitimacy or otherwise of marrying one's relatives.
Answer: These matters likewise rest with the Trustees of the House of Justice.
q50.
 
Question: Concerning the legitimacy or otherwise of marrying one's relatives.
Answer: These matters likewise rest with the Trustees of 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.
q101.
 
Question: Concerning the law on treasure trove.
Answer: Should a treasure be found, one third thereof is the right of the discoverer, and the other two thirds should be expended by the men of the House of Justice for the welfare of all people. This shall be done after the establishment of the House of Justice, and until that time it shall be committed to the keeping of trustworthy persons in each locality and territory. He, in truth, is the Ruler, the Ordainer, the Omniscient, the All-Informed.