Ḥuqúqu’lláh (The Right of God) is a great law (13)1 and a sacred institution. Laid down in The Kitáb-i-Aqdas: The Most Holy Book, it is one of the key instruments for constructing the foundation and supporting the structure of the World Order of Bahá’u’lláh. It has far-reaching ramifications that extend from promoting the welfare of the individual to buttressing the authority and extending the activity of the Head of the Faith. In providing a regular and systematic source of revenue for the Central Institution of the Cause, Bahá’u’lláh has assured the means for the independence and decisive functioning of the World Centre of His Faith.
By identifying this law as “The Right of God”, Bahá’u’lláh has re-emphasized the nature of the relationship between human beings and their Creator as a Covenant based on mutual assurances and obligations; and, by designating the Central Authority in the Cause, to which all must turn, as the recipient of this Right, He has created a direct and vital link between every individual believer and the Head of His Faith that is unique in the structure of His World Order. This law enables the friends to recognize the elevation of their economic activity to the level of divine acceptability; it is a means for the purification of their wealth and a magnet attracting divine blessings. The computation and the payment of Ḥuqúqu’lláh, within the general guidelines set forth, are exclusively a matter of conscience between the individual and God (56, 82); demanding or soliciting the Ḥuqúqu’lláh is prohibited (56, 82, 83, 93, 106)—only appeals, reminders and exhortations of a general nature, under the auspices of the institutions of the Faith, are permissible (94, 96, 97, 100). That the observance and enforcement of this law, so crucial to the material well-being of the emerging Bahá’í commonwealth (29), should thus have been left entirely to the faith and conscience of the individual gives substance to, and sheds light on, what the beloved Master calls the spiritual solution to economic problems. Indeed, the implications of the law of Ḥuqúqu’lláh for the realization of a number of the principles of the Faith, such as the elimination of extremes of wealth and poverty, and a more equitable distribution of resources, will increasingly become manifest as the friends assume in ever greater measure the responsibility for observing it.
The fundamentals of the law of Ḥuqúqu’lláh are promulgated in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas. Further elaborations of its features are to be found in other Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, in Tablets from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and in letters from Shoghi Effendi and the Universal House of Justice, mostly in response to questions raised by the friends. All these major references have been compiled by the Research Department of the House of Justice and separately published. A study of that compilation makes it clear that the application of the law has been progressive, and will continue to be so, as its ramifications and subsidiary rulings are elucidated.
The following is a preliminary attempt at codifying the information in the Writings on the subject of Ḥuqúqu’lláh. It should be emphasized, however, that the friends should not attempt to read into it an element of rigidity or total comprehensiveness. The questions put to Bahá’u’lláh, the Master and Shoghi Effendi were from friends residing in places and times with infinitely simpler economic systems and relationships than those which obtain today. What can be learned from them are clear guiding principles whose application to changing and more complex conditions must be considered. The subject will undoubtedly occupy the House of Justice in evolving legislation, as necessary, for a long time to come. As the Fifth Epoch of the Formative Age of our Faith unfolds before the eyes of an increasingly watchful humanity, the universal assumption of the obligation of Ḥuqúqu’lláh by the friends serves as a clear illustration of a new level of spiritual maturity being attained by the community of the Greatest Name throughout the world.