The Kitáb-i-Aqdas - The Most Holy Book
Index term: Islám
n6.
We have relieved you of a greater number
The requirements for obligatory prayer called for in the Bábí and Islamic Dispensations were more demanding than those for the performance of the Obligatory Prayer consisting of nine rak'ahs that was prescribed in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas (see note 4).
In the Bayán, the Báb prescribed an Obligatory Prayer consisting of nineteen rak'ahs which was to be performed once in a twenty-four-hour period -- from noon of one day to noon of the next.
The Muslim prayer is recited five times a day, namely, in the early morning, at midday, in the afternoon and evening, and at night. While the number of rak'ahs varies according to the time of recitation, a total of seventeen rak'ahs are offered in the course of a day.
n15.
God hath granted you leave to prostrate yourselves on any surface that is clean, for We have removed in this regard the limitation that had been laid down in the Book
The requirements of prayer in previous Dispensations have often included prostration. In the Arabic Bayán the Báb called upon the believers to lay their foreheads on surfaces of crystal when prostrating. Similarly, in Islám, certain restrictions are imposed with regard to the surface on which Muslims are permitted to prostrate. Bahá'u'lláh abrogates such restrictions and simply specifies "any surface that is clean".
n18.
We have absolved you from the requirement of performing the Prayer of the Signs.
The Prayer of the Signs is a special form of Muslim obligatory prayer that was ordained to be said in times of natural events, like earthquakes, eclipses, and other such phenomena, which may cause fear and are taken to be signs or acts of God. The requirement of performing this prayer has been annulled. In its place a Bahá'í may say, "Dominion is God's, the Lord of the seen and the unseen, the Lord of creation," but this is not obligatory (Q&A 52).
n19.
Save in the Prayer for the Dead, the practice of congregational prayer hath been annulled.
Congregational prayer, in the sense of formal obligatory prayer which is to be recited in accordance with a prescribed ritual as, for example, is the custom in Islám where Friday prayer in the mosque is led by an imám, has been annulled in the Bahá'í Dispensation. The Prayer for the Dead (see note 10) is the only congregational prayer prescribed by Bahá'í law. It is to be recited by one of those present while the remainder of the party stands in silence; the reader has no special status. The congregation is not required to face the Qiblih (Q&A 85).
The three daily Obligatory Prayers are to be recited individually, not in congregation.
There is no prescribed way for the recital of the many other Bahá'í prayers, and all are free to use such non-obligatory prayers in gatherings or individually as they please. In this regard, Shoghi Effendi states that

. . . although the friends are thus left to follow their own inclination, . . . they should take the utmost care that any manner they practise should not acquire too rigid a character, and thus develop into an institution. This is a point which the friends should always bear in mind, lest they deviate from the clear path indicated in the Teachings.
n23.
Say: God hath made My hidden love the key to the Treasure
There is a well-known Islamic tradition concerning God and His creation:

I was a Hidden Treasure. I wished to be made known, and thus I called creation into being in order that I might be known.

References and allusions to this tradition are found throughout the Bahá'í Writings. For example, in one of His prayers, Bahá'u'lláh reveals:

Lauded be Thy name, O Lord my God! I testify that Thou wast a hidden Treasure wrapped within Thine immemorial Being and an impenetrable Mystery enshrined in Thine own Essence. Wishing to reveal Thyself, Thou didst call into being the Greater and the Lesser Worlds, and didst choose Man above all Thy creatures, and didst make Him a sign of both of these worlds, O Thou Who art our Lord, the Most Compassionate!
Thou didst raise Him up to occupy Thy throne before all the people of Thy creation. Thou didst enable Him to unravel Thy mysteries, and to shine with the lights of Thine inspiration and Thy Revelation, and to manifest Thy names and Thine attributes. Through Him Thou didst adorn the preamble of the book of Thy creation, O Thou Who art the Ruler of the universe Thou hast fashioned! (Prayers and Meditations by Bahá'u'lláh, XXXVIII)


Likewise, in the Hidden Words, He states:

O Son of Man! I loved thy creation, hence I created thee. Wherefore, do thou love Me, that I may name thy name and fill thy soul with the spirit of life.

'Abdu'l-Bahá, in His commentary on the above-cited tradition, wrote:

O wayfarer in the path of the Beloved! Know thou that the main purpose of this holy tradition is to make mention of the stages of God's concealment and manifestation within the Embodiments of Truth, They who are the Dawning-places of His All-Glorious Being. For example, before the flame of the undying Fire is lit and manifest, it existeth by itself within itself in the hidden identity of the universal Manifestations, and this is the stage of the "Hidden Treasure". And when the blessed Tree is kindled by itself within itself, and that Divine Fire burneth by its essence within its essence, this is the stage of "I wished to be made known". And when it shineth forth from the Horizon of the universe with infinite Divine Names and Attributes upon the contingent and placeless worlds, this constituteth the emergence of a new and wondrous creation which correspondeth to the stage of "Thus I called creation into being". And when the sanctified souls rend asunder the veils of all earthly attachments and worldly conditions, and hasten to the stage of gazing on the beauty of the Divine Presence and are honoured by recognizing the Manifestation and are able to witness the splendour of God's Most Great Sign in their hearts, then will the purpose of creation, which is the knowledge of Him Who is the Eternal Truth, become manifest.
n33.
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).
n65.
Nimrod
The Nimrod referred to in this verse is, in both Jewish and Islamic traditions, a King who persecuted Abraham and whose name became symbolic of great pride.
n72.
Whoso wisheth to make use of vessels of silver and gold is at liberty to do so.
In the Bayán the Báb allowed the use of gold and silver utensils, thus abrogating the Islamic condemnation of their use which stems not from an explicit injunction of the Qur'án but from Muslim traditions. Bahá'u'lláh here confirms the Báb's ruling.
n79.
We have made it lawful for you to listen to music and singing.
'Abdu'l-Bahá has written that "Among certain nations of the East, music was considered reprehensible". Though the Qur'án contains no specific guidance on the subject, some Muslims consider listening to music as unlawful, while others tolerate music within certain bounds and subject to particular conditions.
There are a number of passages in the Bahá'í Writings in praise of music. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, for example, asserts that "music, sung or played, is spiritual food for soul and heart".
n85.
He hath granted them no right to the property of others.
The injunction to show kindness to Bahá'u'lláh's kindred does not give them a share in the property of others. This is in contrast to Shí'ih Muslim practice, in which lineal descendants of Muhammad are entitled to receive a share of a certain tax.
n89.
Beware that ye take not unto yourselves more wives than two. Whoso contenteth himself with a single partner from among the maidservants of God, both he and she shall live in tranquillity.
While the text of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas appears to permit bigamy, Bahá'u'lláh counsels that tranquillity and contentment derive from monogamy. In another Tablet, He underlines the importance of the individual's acting in such a way as to "bring comfort to himself and to his partner". 'Abdu'l-Bahá, the authorized Interpreter of the Bahá'í Writings, states that in the text of the Aqdas monogamy is in effect enjoined. He elaborates this theme in a number of Tablets, including the following:

Know thou that polygamy is not permitted under the law of God, for contentment with one wife hath been clearly stipulated. Taking a second wife is made dependent upon equity and justice being upheld between the two wives, under all conditions. However, observance of justice and equity towards two wives is utterly impossible. The fact that bigamy has been made dependent upon an impossible condition is clear proof of its absolute prohibition. Therefore it is not permissible for a man to have more than one wife.

Polygamy is a very ancient practice among the majority of humanity. The introduction of monogamy has been only gradually accomplished by the Manifestations of God. Jesus, for example, did not prohibit polygamy, but abolished divorce except in the case of fornication; Muhammad limited the number of wives to four, but making plurality of wives contingent on justice, and reintroducing permission for divorce; Bahá'u'lláh, Who was revealing His Teachings in the milieu of a Muslim society, introduced the question of monogamy gradually in accordance with the principles of wisdom and the progressive unfoldment of His purpose. The fact that He left His followers with an infallible Interpreter of His Writings enabled Him to outwardly permit two wives in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas but uphold a condition that enabled 'Abdu'l-Bahá to elucidate later that the intention of the law was to enforce monogamy.
n90.
he who would take into his service a maid may do so with propriety
Bahá'u'lláh states that a man may employ a maiden for domestic service. This was not permissible under Shí'ih Muslim practice unless the employer entered into a marriage contract with her. Bahá'u'lláh emphasizes that the "service" referred to in this verse is solely "such as is performed by any other class of servants, be they young or old, in exchange for wages" (Q&A 30). An employer has no sexual rights over his maid. She is "free to choose a husband at whatever time she pleaseth", for the purchase of women is forbidden (Q&A 30).
n101.
The Lord hath prohibited . . . the practice to which ye formerly had recourse when thrice ye had divorced a woman.
This relates to a law of Islám set out in the Qur'án which decreed that under certain conditions a man could not remarry his divorced wife unless she had married and been divorced by another man. Bahá'u'lláh affirms that this is the practice which has been prohibited in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas (Q&A 31).
n103.
semen is not unclean
In a number of religious traditions and in Shí'ih Muslim practice semen has been declared ritually unclean. Bahá'u'lláh has here dispelled this concept. See also note 106 below.
n111.
He Who held converse with God
This is a traditional Jewish and Islamic title of Moses. Bahá'u'lláh states that with the coming of His Revelation "human ears have been privileged to hear what He Who conversed with God heard upon Sinai".
n113.
the Spirit of God
This is one of the titles used in the Islamic and Bahá'í Writings to designate Jesus Christ.
n120.
O Spot that art situate on the shores of the two seas!
This is a reference to Constantinople, now called Istanbul. Located on the Bosphorus, a strait about 31 kilometres long which links the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara, it is the largest city and seaport of Turkey.
Constantinople was the capital of the Ottoman Empire from 1453 until 1922. During Bahá'u'lláh's sojourn in this city, the tyrannical Sultán 'Abdu'l-'Azíz occupied the throne. The Ottoman Sultans were also the Caliphs, the leaders of Sunní Islám. Bahá'u'lláh anticipated the fall of the Caliphate, which was abolished in 1924.
n128.
the Sadratu'l-Muntahá
Literally "the furthermost Lote-Tree", translated by Shoghi Effendi as "the Tree beyond which there is no passing". This is used as a symbol in Islám, for example in the accounts of Muhammad's Night Journey, to mark the point in the heavens beyond which neither men nor angels can pass in their approach to God, and thus to delimit the bounds of divine knowledge as revealed to mankind. Hence it is often used in the Bahá'í Writings to designate the Manifestation of God Himself. (See also note 164.)
n129.
the Mother Book
The term "Mother Book" is generally used to designate the central Book of a religious Dispensation. In the Qur'án and Islamic Hadíth, the term is used to describe the Qur'án itself. In the Bábí Dispensation, the Bayán is the Mother Book, and the Kitáb-i-Aqdas is the Mother Book of the Dispensation of Bahá'u'lláh. Further, the Guardian in a letter written on his behalf has stated that this concept can also be used as a "collective term indicating the body of the Teachings revealed by Bahá'u'lláh". This term is also used in a broader sense to signify the Divine Repository of Revelation.
n138.
All Feasts have attained their consummation in the two Most Great Festivals, and in the two other Festivals that fall on the twin days
This passage establishes four great festivals of the Bahá'í year. The two designated by Bahá'u'lláh as "the two Most Great Festivals" are, first, the Festival of Ridván, which commemorates Bahá'u'lláh's Declaration of His Prophetic Mission in the Garden of Ridván in Baghdád during twelve days in April/May 1863 and is referred to by Him as "the King of Festivals" and, second, the Báb's Declaration, which occurred in May 1844 in Shíráz. The first, ninth and twelfth days of the Festival of Ridván are Holy Days (Q&A 1), as is the day of the Declaration of the Báb.
The "two other Festivals" are the anniversaries of the births of Bahá'u'lláh and the Báb. In the Muslim lunar calendar these fall on consecutive days, the birth of Bahá'u'lláh on the second day of the month of Muharram 1233 A.H. (12 November 1817), and the birth of the Báb on the first day of the same month 1235 A.H. (20 October 1819), respectively. They are thus referred to as the "Twin Birthdays" and Bahá'u'lláh states that these two days are accounted as one in the sight of God (Q&A 2). He states that, should they fall within the month of fasting, the command to fast shall not apply on those days (Q&A 36). Given that the Bahá'í calendar (see notes 26 and 147) is a solar calendar, it remains for the Universal House of Justice to determine whether the Twin Holy Birthdays are to be celebrated on a solar or lunar basis.
n160.
Verily, there is none other God besides Me
The Bahá'í Writings contain many passages that elucidate the nature of the Manifestation and His relationship to God. Bahá'u'lláh underlines the unique and transcendent nature of the Godhead. He explains that "since there can be no tie of direct intercourse to bind the one true God with His creation" God ordains that "in every age and dispensation a pure and stainless Soul be made manifest in the kingdoms of earth and heaven". This "mysterious and ethereal Being", the Manifestation of God, has a human nature which pertains to "the world of matter" and a spiritual nature "born of the substance of God Himself". He is also endowed with a "double station":

The first station, which is related to His innermost reality, representeth Him as One Whose voice is the voice of God Himself . . . The second station is the human station, exemplified by the following verses: "I am but a man like you." "Say, praise be to my Lord! Am I more than a man, an apostle?"

Bahá'u'lláh also affirms that, in the spiritual realm, there is an "essential unity" between all the Manifestations of God. They all reveal the "Beauty of God", manifest His names and attributes, and give utterance to His Revelation. In this regard, He states:

Were any of the all-embracing Manifestations of God to declare: "I am God", He, verily, speaketh the truth, and no doubt attacheth thereto. For it hath been repeatedly demonstrated that through their Revelation, their attributes and names, the Revelation of God, His names and His attributes, are made manifest in the world . . .

While the Manifestations reveal the names and attributes of God and are the means by which humanity has access to the knowledge of God and His Revelation, Shoghi Effendi states that the Manifestations should "never . . . be identified with that invisible Reality, the Essence of Divinity itself". In relation to Bahá'u'lláh, the Guardian wrote that the "human temple that has been the vehicle of so overpowering a Revelation" is not to be identified with the "Reality" of God.
Concerning the uniqueness of Bahá'u'lláh's station and the greatness of His Revelation, Shoghi Effendi affirms that the prophetic statements concerning the "Day of God", found in the Sacred Scriptures of past Dispensations, are fulfilled by the advent of Bahá'u'lláh:

To Israel He was neither more nor less than the incarnation of the "Everlasting Father", the "Lord of Hosts" come down "with ten thousands of saints"; to Christendom Christ returned "in the glory of the Father"; to Shí'ah Islám the return of the Imám Husayn; to Sunní Islám the descent of the "Spirit of God" (Jesus Christ); to the Zoroastrians the promised Sháh-Bahrám; to the Hindus the reincarnation of Krishna; to the Buddhists the fifth Buddha.

Bahá'u'lláh describes the station of "Divinity" which He shares with all the Manifestations of God as

. . . the station in which one dieth to himself and liveth in God. Divinity, whenever I mention it, indicateth My complete and absolute self-effacement. This is the station in which I have no control over mine own weal or woe nor over my life nor over my resurrection.

And, regarding His own relationship to God, He testifies:

When I contemplate, O my God, the relationship that bindeth me to Thee, I am moved to proclaim to all created things "verily I am God"; and when I consider my own self, lo, I find it coarser than clay!
n161.
payment of Zakát
Zakát is referred to in the Qur'án as a regular charity binding upon Muslims. In due course the concept evolved into a form of alms-tax which imposed the obligation to give a fixed portion of certain categories of income, beyond specified limits, for the relief of the poor, for various charitable purposes, and to aid the Faith of God. The limit of exemption varied for different commodities, as did the percentage payable on the portion assessable.
Bahá'u'lláh states that the Bahá'í law of Zakát follows "what hath been revealed in the Qur'án" (Q&A 107). Since such issues as the limits for exemption, the categories of income concerned, the frequency of payments, and the scale of rates for the various categories of Zakát are not mentioned in the Qur'án, these matters will have to be set forth in the future by the Universal House of Justice. Shoghi Effendi has indicated that pending such legislation the believers should, according to their means and possibilities, make regular contributions to the Bahá'í Fund.
n174.
and permitted you to attire yourselves in silk
According to Islamic practice, the wearing of silk by men was generally forbidden, except in times of holy war. This prohibition, which was not based on the verses of the Qur'án, was abrogated by the Báb.
n175.
The Lord hath relieved you . . . of the restrictions that formerly applied to clothing and to the trim of the beard.
Many rules about dress had their origins in the laws and traditional practices of the world's religions. For example, the Shí'ih clergy adopted for themselves a distinctive headdress and robes and, at one time, forbade the people to adopt European attire. Muslim practice, in its desire to emulate the custom of the Prophet, also introduced a number of restrictions with regard to the trim of the moustache and the length of the beard.
Bahá'u'lláh removed such limitations on one's apparel and beard. He leaves such matters to the "discretion" of the individual, and at the same time calls upon the believers not to transgress the bounds of propriety and to exercise moderation in all that pertains to dress.
n180.
Take heed lest the word
Bahá'u'lláh cautions people "of insight" not to allow their interpretations of the Holy Scriptures to prevent them from recognizing the Manifestation of God. Followers of each religion have tended to allow their devotion to its Founder to cause them to perceive His Revelation as the final Word of God and to deny the possibility of the appearance of any subsequent Prophet. This has been the case of Judaism, Christianity and Islám. Bahá'u'lláh denies the validity of this concept of finality both in relation to past Dispensations and to His own. With regard to Muslims, He wrote in the Kitáb-i-Íqán that the "people of the Qur'án . . . have allowed the words 'Seal of the Prophets' to veil their eyes", "to obscure their understanding, and deprive them of the grace of all His manifold bounties". He affirms that "this theme hath . . . been a sore test unto all mankind", and laments the fate of "those who, clinging unto these words, have disbelieved in Him Who is their true Revealer". The Báb refers to this same theme when He warns: "Let not names shut you out as by a veil from Him Who is their Lord, even the name Prophet, for such a name is but a creation of His utterance."