Reasons for delay in translating and publishing the Kitab-i-Aqdas
6 December 1965
The National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States
Dear Baha'i friends,
27.1 We have received a number of inquiries as to the translation and publication of the Kitab-i-Aqdas from friends who are unable to read it in its original form. We feel the following extract from a letter written on behalf of the beloved Guardian by his secretary dated 27 December 1941, addressed to the National Spiritual Assembly of India and Burma clarifies this question:
27.1a The reason it [the Kitab-i-Aqdas] is not circulated amongst all the Baha'is is, first, because the Cause is not yet ready or sufficiently matured to put all the provisions of the Aqdas into effect and, second, because it is a book which requires to be supplemented by detailed explanations and to be translated into other languages by a competent body of experts. The provisions of the Aqdas are gradually, according to the progress of the Cause, being put into effect already, both in the East and the West. ...
27.2 As is well known, the beloved Guardian has already given in God Passes By, pp. 214-15, a summary of the contents of this Most Holy Book, and included the codification of all the laws of the Kitab-i-Aqdas as one of the objectives of the Ten Year Crusade. It is the intention of the Universal House of Justice to achieve this objective by publishing a synopsis and codification of these laws during the current Nine Year Plan.
27.3 Much of the Kitab-i-Aqdas has already been translated by the beloved Guardian and has been given to the friends in the West, although not designated, in every case, as coming from the Most Holy Book.+F75 We give you below a list of such references for your guidance: [F75. In 1973, the last year of the Nine Year Plan, the Universal House of Justice published A Synopsis and Codification of the Kitab-i-Aqdas. The volume includes all of the extracts in the list of references that follows. The Baha'i World Centre published a copiously annotated English translation of the Kitab-i-Aqdas and related texts in 1992.]
Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah Sections XXXVII, LVI, LXX, LXXI, LXXII, XCVIII, CV, CIV, CLIX, and CLXV
The Promised Day is Come pp. 26 (1st para.), 36-37 (until the end of 2nd para.), 40 (2nd para.), and 84-85 (until the end of 1st para.)
The Challenging Requirements of the Present Hour+F76 [F76. This message of Shoghi Effendi was later published in CF, pp. 4-38; the passage from the Kitab-i-Aqdas appears on pp. 18-19 (see also PB, p. 63).] pp. 16-17 (until the end of 1st para.)
Baha'i Administration p. 21 (1st para.)
The World Order of Baha'u'llah p. 134 (2nd para.)
The Baha'i Community (1963 edition) p. 4 (2nd & 3rd paras)
Star of the West, XIV pp. 112-14
27.4 The two reasons given by the Guardian in the extract of the letter quoted above need further amplification:
27.4a 1. As regards the first reason, regarding the timeliness of putting into effect all the provisions of the Kitab-i-Aqdas, it must be borne in mind that the beloved Guardian further stated:
... the Laws revealed by Baha'u'llah in the Aqdas are, whenever practicable and not in direct conflict with the Civil Law of the land, absolutely binding on every believer or Baha'i institution whether in the East or in the West. Certain laws, such as fasting, obligatory prayers, the consent of the parents before marriage, avoidance of alcoholic drinks, monogamy, should be regarded by all believers as universally and vitally applicable at the present time. Others have been formulated in anticipation of a state of society destined to emerge from the chaotic conditions that prevail today. When the Aqdas is published this matter will be further explained and elucidated. What has not been formulated in the Aqdas, in addition to matters of detail and of secondary importance arising out of the application of the Laws already formulated by Baha'u'llah, will have to be enacted by the Universal House of Justice. ...
(Baha'i News, October 1935)
The Guardian has further written:
It should be noted in this connection that this Administrative Order is fundamentally different from anything that any Prophet has previously established, inasmuch as Baha'u'llah has Himself revealed its principles, established its institutions, appointed the person to interpret His Word and conferred the necessary authority on the body designed to supplement and apply His legislative ordinances. Therein lies the secret of its strength, its fundamental distinction, and the guarantee against disintegration and schism. ...
(The World Order of Baha'u'llah, p. 145)
27.4b 2. As to the second reason given by the beloved Guardian in the extract referred to above, it must be noted that the supplementary material to go with the publication of the laws of the Kitab-i-Aqdas may well include the following items, all of which require careful research and translation:
a. The Annex to the Kitab-i-Aqdas, the Questions and Answers. (God Passes By, p. 219)
b. Tablets of Baha'u'llah in "elaboration and elucidation of some of the laws He [Baha'u'llah] had already laid down." (God Passes By, p. 216)
c. Tablets of Baha'u'llah establishing "subsidiary ordinances designed to supplement the provisions of His Most Holy Book." (God Passes By, p. 216)
d. The Letters and Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi in interpretation of the laws and ordinances of the Kitab-i-Aqdas.
e. Other explanations and footnotes that may be required in elucidation of the provisions of that Book.
27.5 We hope the foregoing will clarify the matter for the friends. ...
With loving Baha'i greetings, The Universal House of Justice