The Universal House of Justice :
30 July 2002
Revised - Development of Institution of Huqúqu’lláh
30 July 2002
Revised - Development of Institution of Huqúqu’lláh
The Universal House of Justice
Department of the Secretariat
31 July 2002
To all National Spiritual Assemblies
Dear Bahá’í Friends,
On 25 March 1987 you were sent a document titled “The Development of the Institution for the Huqúqu’lláh”, prepared by the Research Department at the Bahá’í World Centre. At the request of the Universal House of Justice the document has been revised. We now enclose a copy of this revision of the document for circulation to the friends, titled “The Development of the Institution of Huqúqu’lláh”, in order to facilitate further a more profound appreciation of the believers for the Institution of Huqúqu’lláh.
With loving Bahá’í greetings,
Department of the Secretariat
cc: The Hands of the Cause of God
International Teaching Centre
Boards of Counsellors
International Teaching Centre
Boards of Counsellors
The Development of the Institution of Huqúqu’lláh
Revised April 2002
Prepared by the Research Department
at the request of the Universal House of Justice
In one of His Tablets Bahá’u’lláh refers to the law of Huqúqu’lláh as ranking in importance immediately after the two great obligations of recognition of God and steadfastness in His Cause, and yet the introduction and implementation of this law are characterized by kindness, forgiveness, tolerance and magnanimity. Although it deals with the material things of this world, it is placed among those spiritual obligations resting on the individual soul, such as prayer and fasting, the fulfilment of which is a direct responsibility of each believer towards God, not subject to the sanctions or impositions of His institutions in this world. It is, indeed, a clear expression of the priorities with which Bahá’u’lláh views the duties of mankind. First comes the spiritual, and then the material—however important in practice the latter may be.
After the Kitáb-i-Aqdas had been revealed in response to the pleas of the friends, Bahá’u’lláh withheld it from publication for some time and even then, when a number of devoted Bahá’ís, having learned of the law, endeavoured to offer Huqúqu’lláh, the payment was not accepted. The Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh show His acute consciousness of the way in which material wealth has been permitted to degrade religion in the past, and He preferred the Faith to sacrifice all material benefits rather than soil to the slightest degree its dignity and purity. Herein is a lesson for all Bahá’í institutions for all time.
However, as the beloved Guardian explained, funds are the life-blood of the Cause. God Himself, as Bahá’u’lláh stated, has made achievement dependent on material means. Therefore, as the awareness of the friends grew, He permitted Huqúqu’lláh to be accepted, provided the donor made the offering willingly, with joy and awareness.
To receive Huqúqu’lláh, Bahá’u’lláh brought into being one of the great institutions of the Faith, the Trusteeship of Huqúqu’lláh.
The first to be honoured with being appointed Trustee of Huqúqu’lláh was Jinab-i-Shah Muhammad from Manshad, Yazd, who eventually received from the Blessed Beauty the title of Aminu’l-Bayan (Trustee of the Bayan). Aminu’l-Bayan had embraced the Faith in its early years and had the bounty of entering the presence of Bahá’u’lláh in Baghdad. The fire of love kindled in his heart made him impatient to offer his services to the Threshold of his Beloved, and this undertaking he followed until the last moment of his life, surrendering all material belongings in the path of service. Encompassed by hardship, danger and lack of means, this trusted servant of Bahá’u’lláh, in journey after journey, would carry the friends’ donations of Huqúqu’lláh and their petitions to the Sacred Threshold and, in return, bring them news and Tablets from the Blessed Perfection.
One of the most sacred tasks entrusted to Aminu’l-Bayan was to go to Iran to receive the Remains of the Báb from their custodian, the devoted and valiant Hand of the Cause of God Jinab-i-Haji Akhund, and to transfer them through innumerable dangers to a safe hiding place in the Mosque of the Imamzadih Zayd in Tihran, where they lay concealed until the time when, at the behest of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, they were transferred to the Holy Land to be laid in their permanent resting place on the slopes of Mount Carmel.
The attention of Aminu’l-Bayan was drawn to the rare qualities of nobility and detachment of one of the believers, Haji Abu’l-Hasan Ardakani, who was also from Yazd. The bond of fellowship between them became so strong that it made them the closest of companions. Aminu’l-Bayan chose Haji Abu’l-Hasan to be his assistant and confidant in his services as the Trustee of Huqúqu’lláh. They were among the first group of pilgrims who, after encountering grave hardships and difficulties, were able to visit Bahá’u’lláh in ‘Akka. On their return to Iran they decided to make numerous journeys together, and on one of these journeys, in 1881, they were attacked and caught during a Kurdish revolt, and Aminu’l-Bayan was seriously wounded. Bahá’u’lláh instructed that, following the passing of Aminu’l-Bayan, the office of Trustee of Huqúqu’lláh should be conferred upon his loyal assistant and companion, Haji Abu’l-Hasan, who was subsequently entitled Amin (the Trusted One) or Jinab-i-Haji Amin.
Jinab-i-Haji Amin was a shining star who served the Cause as the Trustee of Huqúqu’lláh for forty-seven years with eagerness and zeal, showing magnanimity, courage and incredible steadfastness. During the Ministry of Bahá’u’lláh he was imprisoned twice, by order of Nasiri’d-Din Shah and his son Kamran Mirza. In the course of his second imprisonment, in the prison of Qazvin, referred to as Sijn-i-Matin (the Mighty Prison) by Bahá’u’lláh in the opening verses of the Tablet of the World, he was with the Hand of the Cause Jinab-i-Haji Akhund. Here, Jinab-i-Haji Amin suffered gravely, his legs in fetters and a chain around his neck. His jailers, in order to torment him, would add castor oil to his food. With manifest resignation and submission, he would neither complain nor refuse the food, eating as though nothing were amiss. He was a symbol of magnanimity and detachment. He had no worldly possessions, no home or shelter of his own. His habitation was in the hearts and souls of the Bahá’í friends who would receive and entertain him with warmth and love. Each one would impatiently await his arrival, to enjoy the sweet melody of his prayers and chanting of the Tablets, and the glad-tidings and encouragement he would bring. Every day he would bid goodbye to one family to spend the night in another household, illumining another gathering with his presence. He was continually on the move, travelling to most Iranian cities and being the trusted adviser of many Bahá’í friends in their personal affairs.
Among the countless journeys that Jinab-i-Haji Amin made was one to Paris where he attained the presence of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. During his long life he witnessed the last eleven years of the Ministry of Bahá’u’lláh, the twenty-nine years of the Ministry of the Centre of the Covenant, and seven years of the Guardianship of Shoghi Effendi. Towards the end of his life he became ill and frail and was confined to bed, living in the home of his friend and assistant, Haji Ghulam Rida, who, at the express desire of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, had been appointed his successor as Trustee of Huqúqu’lláh. Upon his passing in 1928, Jinab-i-Haji Amin was named by the beloved Guardian a Hand of the Cause of God.
The third Trustee of Huqúqu’lláh, Haji Ghulam Rida, was entitled Amin-i-Amin (Trustee of the Trustee). This distinguished soul was born into the wealthy merchant class of Tihran and was brought up to enjoy the comfortable life associated with it. During his youth, the urge to discover spiritual realities led him to the study of comparative religion and, while engaged in his business, he ventured to search out and associate with followers and leaders of religion. Disappointed in what he found, he sought more information about the Bahá’í Faith, which had been introduced to him by his secretary. This enquiry soon developed into a serious study of the sacred Tablets and Writings, and his heart was illumined with the light of faith. After embracing the Cause, Amin-i-Amin engaged in Bahá’í activities and, at the age of 32, he gave up trade to devote himself fully and freely to the service of the Faith. He developed a special attachment to Jinab-i-Haji Amin and became his constant assistant. In due course he received a Tablet from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá urging him to emulate Jinab-i-Haji Amin and appointing him as Trustee of Huqúqu’lláh. While ever mindful of the responsibilities of his new position, he took the utmost care of Jinab-i-Haji Amin for the remainder of his life.
During the time that Amin-i-Amin held the rank of Trustee of Huqúqu’lláh, his home became a centre for the gatherings of the friends. It was during his Trusteeship that initial steps were taken for the registration of Bahá’í properties and endowments in Iran, and he was assiduous in doing his utmost for their protection and preservation. In 1938 he fell ill and passed away the following year.
The fourth Trustee of Huqúqu’lláh, appointed to this position by the beloved Guardian, was Valiyu’llah Varqá, the third son of Varqá the martyr. He was born in Tabriz and, after the martyrdom of his father and brother, he was brought up from early childhood by his grandmother, a staunch, powerful and fanatical Muslim. She did her utmost, until his early youth, to sow the seeds of enmity to the Faith in his heart. When he was 16, his uncle, surnamed Akhu’sh-Shahid (the Brother of the Martyr), managed to remove him from this agonizing atmosphere of prejudice and took him to his home in Miyanduab. There he introduced him to the Bahá’í Faith and its teachings, opening a new world to Valiyu’llah Varqá. So afire did he become with love for the Faith that, without any preparations, he decided to go on pilgrimage in the company of a close friend. However, his Local Spiritual Assembly did not approve of this, and guided him, instead, to go to Tihran to join his elder brother, Jinab-i-’Azizu’lláh Varqá.
After his schooling in Tihran, Valiyu’llah Varqá’s longing to make his pilgrimage was fulfilled, and he then attended the American University in Beirut, deepening his knowledge of the Bahá’í teachings under the guidance of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá during his summer vacations. During this time he made a journey to Iran at the behest of the Master, and later accompanied Him on His historic journey to Europe and America as an interpreter. Upon the completion of this journey, he returned to Iran and rendered invaluable services on the Local Spiritual Assembly of Tihran, in many Bahá’í administrative agencies, and ultimately on the National Spiritual Assembly. His loyal and dedicated service as Trustee of Huqúqu’lláh was to follow, occupying him for 17 years, during which time the observance of the law of Huqúqu’lláh was spread throughout Iran, so that ever more of the friends fulfilled their obligations, offering large sums and many properties. In order to devote his full time to this sacred enterprise, Valiyu’llah Varqá resigned from the work in which he was employed.
In 1951 Valiyu’llah Varqá was among the first contingent of eminent believers elevated by Shoghi Effendi to the rank of Hand of the Cause of God. This opened new opportunities for him to meet with the friends and cheer their hearts with news of the victories being achieved in the teaching work, especially during the Ten Year Crusade, which opened at Ridvan 1953. These memorable services culminated in the fulfilment of his long-cherished desire to visit the beloved Guardian.
On his return to Iran from pilgrimage, a previous ailment grew worse, and Valiyu’llah Varqá was forced to go to Tubingen in Germany for hospital treatment and an operation. The treatment, alas, was unsuccessful, and in November 1955 his noble life drew to a close.
In the cable announcing the passing of Valiyu’llah Varqá, Shoghi Effendi included the words: “His mantle as Trustee Huqúq now falls on ‘Ali-Muhammad, his son…. Newly appointed Trustee Huqúq now elevated rank Hand Cause.”
Just two years following the appointment of ‘Alí-Muhammad Varqá to this onerous task, he and his fellow Hands of the Cause of God were confronted with the heart-breaking and soul-stirring events associated with the passing of the beloved Guardian, and carried the entire Bahá’í world to the victorious conclusion of the Ten Year Crusade, bringing into being, at Ridvan 1963, the Universal House of Justice.
The period following the election of the Universal House of Justice has seen storms of tribulation and persecution afflicting the Bahá’í community in Iran, causing immense problems to be wrestled with in relation to the safeguarding and sale of properties donated for Huqúqu’lláh, as well as a multitude of other historic tasks that have fallen to the lot of ‘Alí-Muhammad Varqá in his capacity as a Hand of the Cause of God. The successive teaching plans caused an outflow of pioneers from Iran to all corners of the world, requiring the Trustee of Huqúqu’lláh to appoint Deputies and Representatives in many countries beyond the borders of Iran until the institution was represented in every continent of the earth.
In July 1984 the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States reported on the electrifying events which took place in the closing session of the preceding National Convention (April 1984). The delegates and others present expressed their desire for the law of Huqúqu’lláh to be applied to all believers in the United States. Although the Universal House of Justice felt it was “not yet timely to apply this mighty law in the West”, it sent to the believers in the United States and other western countries a translation into English of a compilation of texts that would allow them to familiarize themselves with the subject of Huqúqu’lláh. This was the first step in the process of applying this law of God to the western Bahá’í communities. A period of widespread education of the followers of Bahá’u’lláh in the law of Huqúqu’lláh had begun.
Then, at Ridvan 1991, the Universal House of Justice announced in its message: “With humility before our sovereign Lord, we now announce that as of Ridvan 1992, the beginning of the Holy Year, the Law of Huqúqu’lláh, the Right of God, will become universally applicable. All are lovingly called to observe it.” On the Day of the Covenant, 26 November 1991, the House of Justice further announced: “The Office of Huqúqu’lláh has been established in the Holy Land under the direction of the Chief Trustee of Huqúqu’lláh, the Hand of the Cause of God ‘Alí-Muhammad Varqá, in anticipation of the worldwide application of the Law of Huqúqu’lláh next Ridvan.” Following the universal application of the law, an increasing number of believers have been responding to this call of the House of Justice, thus providing, in increasing measure, the bulk of “material means” needed for the global “progress and promotion of the Cause of God”.
In 1995 the first Huqúqu’lláh video was produced, followed by a second one in 2001; and a pool of educational material has been published in various languages worldwide. Additionally, another significant development has been the creation of the institution of Huqúqu’lláh’s Web site, containing a wealth of educational material, which was launched on the Day of the Covenant in November 2001 “exclusively for the use of members of the institution of Huqúqu’lláh worldwide”, as specified by the Universal House of Justice.
In connection with the rapid and dynamic expansion of the organization of the institution of Huqúqu’lláh, a network of Boards of Trustees at continental, regional and national levels and Deputies and Representatives of Huqúqu’lláh has developed across the globe. These developments will continue in the foreseeable future, as has been envisaged by the Universal House of Justice, which has stated that the “institution of Huqúqu’lláh … will expand and flourish in the centuries to come, and will provide material resources essential for the advancement of the human race”.