Huququ'llah, Zakat, and Khums

By Vahid Behmardi

First presented at the Irfan Colloquia Session #4
DePoort, Netherlands
November 4–6, 1994
(see list of papers from #4)

    The roots of these three laws are to be found in the Qur'án. They were developed by the Báb in the Bayán, and subsequently by Bahá'u'lláh in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas and some of His other writings. However many details were left unmentioned in order to have the Universal House of Justice introduce legislation on the matter in accordance to the circumstances and requirements of the future.

    The way these laws were formulated by Bahá'u'lláh makes it clear that they were intended for a world order rather than a limited prophetic order, as is the case in the Qur'án and even in the Bayán.

    A comparative Islamic, Bábí and Bahá'í survey of this topic must consider the Shí'í understanding on this matter rather than the Sunní viewpoint. The reason for this lies in the fact that the "right of God," according to the Shi'i understanding, must go to the line of the Successors of the Prophet rather than to a secular authority that is considered to be fallible. Within the context of the Baháíí world order, however, Baháíuílláh has made considerable modifications to these laws as they appear in their Shí'í, or Bábí forms.

    The creation of an infallible legislative authority in the Baháíí world order by Bahá'u'lláh makes it possible for the details regarding the application of these laws to be left to their discretion.

    In the case of zakát, for example, where Bahá'u'lláh states that "what hath been revealed in the Qur'án" should be observed, the details have been clearly left to the Universal House of Justice. Two reasons can be given for this: firstly, the Qur'án does not provide enough instructions on the matter and, secondly, the laws of Huqúqu'lláh, (the Baháíí form of the Shi'i khums) cover some elements of the zakát as it is found in Islám.

    Therefore, after considering the Qur'án, the Bayán and the Baháíí holy writings, one can have a clearer picture of the huqúqu'lláh and zakát in the Bahá'í Faith. These two laws form the basis from which will appear, over the passage of time, the elaborations of the supreme legislative body of the Bahá'í world order.

    Last, but not least, al ' though these laws deal primarily with matters of a financial nature, their spiritual significance should not be overlooked. Huqúqu'lláh and zakát are very closely linked to the Covenant, since Huqúqu'lláh is the only law mentioned by 'Abdu'l-Bahá in His Will and Testament. They should also be considered in the light of concepts such as detachment and cooperation among human beings.

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