Generally administrative sanctions are not mandatory for anything.
They are used
to protect the community after a pattern of violations that cannot be
ended by working
with the individuals involved. So if someone gets roaring drunk in
gets into bar fights, gets arrested, while proclaiming he is a Baha'i
then the Local
Spiritual Assembly will probably need to remove his administrative
rights (after trying
to work with him) to protect the reputation of the Baha'i Community.
would be restored if the individual eventually gained some control
over the drinking
My understanding is that the 19 mithqals refers to the dowry that the
have deposited with the wife at the start of the marriage. If she is
unfaithful and he
is not perhaps that dowry would be forfeited. If the bride did not
deposit a dowry
with the groom then he would have nothing to forfeit it if he was unfaithful.
Note that is just my
In the Introduction of the Kitab-i-Aqdas, the Universal House of
Justice explain how not everything is binding in these days, and that
it will be far into the future before some laws are binding on
society. They quote Shoghi Effendi as saying;
"Certain ... laws 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..."
(Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 6)
The law you mention is in the latter category. It isn't binding on
us. It isn't nineteen mithqals but nine mithqals of gold, and it
isn't just for women but for men too. It doubles with every repeated
offense. In the notes of the Kitab-i-Aqdas, it says about this
"The imposition of this fine is
intended for a future condition of society, at which time the
law will be supplemented and applied by the Universal
House of Justice."
The Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 200)
I think it's important to realize that at that point, society will not
be as it is now. The vast majority of people will be living in a
peaceful, harmonious, mature way and wouldn't consider being
adulterers. That is more what people do during the adolescence of
society. Not during its calm maturity. I imagine that this
punishment, as with other punishments in the Kitab-i-Aqdas, will
rarely, if ever, be meeted out. 'Abdu'l-Baha says:
"Divine civilization, however, so traineth every member of society
that no one, with the exception of a negligible few, will undertake to
commit a crime. There is thus a great 133 difference between the
prevention of crime through measures that are violent and retaliatory,
and so training the people, and enlightening them, and spiritualizing
them, that without any fear of punishment or vengeance to come, they
will shun all criminal acts. They will, indeed, look upon the very
commission of a crime as a great disgrace and in itself the harshest
of punishments. They will become enamoured of human perfections, and
will consecrate their lives to whatever will bring light to the world
and will further those qualities which are acceptable at the Holy
Threshold of God."
(Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, p. 132)
The future golden age will not be repressive, but will be enlightened
and spiritual, and people will want to follow the laws of God because
of their love for God, and their love of humanity. It will be such a
different world, we can hardly imagine it right now.
All best wishes,
We are talking about a Revelation from God that is supposed to end the
Adamic Cycle and begin the Baha'i Cycle of Fulfillment . The
Prohphetic Cycle has ended and now we are in the Age of Fulfillment,
the establishment of the Kingdom of God on Earth, the Golden Age, etc.
for there are many adjectives used in religions to describe such an
age. This is supposed to be the fulfillment of that promise of Christ
in that when He the spirit of truth comes He will bring you all
truth. All truth has come. But our current understanding of it is
similar to an infant trying to understand higher education. There is
a process we must go through to develop this understanding. We must
acquire enough and the right type of virtues in order to more fully
perceive, grasp, understand and apply this Revelation.
This cycle is to last 5,000 centuries and there will be no
Manifestation appearing before the lapse of 1,000 years and the next
Manifestation will be a Lawgiver for as society becomes more developed
it will need new laws.
So for me, whenever I encounter something I do not understand or
somehow does not fit my own reasoning I full well know now from long
years of experience that I am simply not deep enough, not ready yet to
grasp it. So I pray and continue to consult, study, etc.
That's a really good question, Michael.
That's a really good question, Michael. All the spiritual laws are
binding. Things that seem pretty odd generally are not.
There's a compilation put out by the NSA of the US called Developing
Distinctive Baha'i Communities. There is an appendix of laws which
are not yet binding on Baha'is of the West. If you have Ocean, you
can look it up.
Might I presume that you are referring to the following paragraph
in the Most Holy Book?
“God hath imposed a fine on every adulterer and adulteress, to be
paid to the House of Justice: nine mithqals of gold, to be doubled if
they should repeat the offence. Such is the penalty which He Who is
the Lord of Names hath assigned them in this world; and in the world
to come He hath ordained for them a humiliating torment. Should anyone
be afflicted by a sin, it behoveth him to repent thereof and return
unto his Lord. He, verily, granteth forgiveness unto whomsoever He
willeth, and none may question that which it pleaseth Him to ordain.
He is, in truth, the Ever-Forgiving, the Almighty, the All-Praised.”
Kitab-i-Aqdas paragraph 49
As mentioned in other posts this law is not yet enforce, but never-the-
less, let me make the following observations.
1) The penalty will be against both men and women, not just against
2) The fine will be 9, not 19, mithquals of gold for the first
adultery offense, to be doubled with each repeat offence.
3) Your post could be seen to imply that as long as an adulterer or an
adulteress will be willing to pay off the Bahá’í Administrative Order
(sort of like indulgences of the old Catholic Church) than adultery
will be OK in the World Order of Bahá’u’lláh. This does not take into
account the second part of the penalty, i.e., “. . . in the world to
come He hath ordained for them a humiliating torment.” It also
neglects recognition of the fact that such fines and penalties are for
the purpose of promoting moral behavior, which is the basis of
establishing a unified, stable society. Their purpose is not simply
to raise revenue. If such an implication was not your intention than
I apologize for making the improper inference.
4) Admittedly, juxtaposed against the current Western state of
morality fining people for committing adultery seems rather arcane.
We should remember though that the law of Bahá’u’lláh has been
revealed not just for those who live in the West. It has been
revealed for the entire world, much of which still believes (and
sometimes practices) that death by stoning is the proper penalty for
adultery. In Judaism, for example, death by stoning for adultery is
explicit in their Sacred Texts. “Then shalt thou bring forth that man
or that woman who has committed that wicked thing unto thy gates, even
that man or that woman, and shalt stone them with stones till they
die.” Deuteronomy 17:5 In some sects of Islam death by stoning for
adultery is still being practiced as part of Shari`ah law. Compared
to those harsh penalties, just paying a fine seems quite
5) The fact that the Most Holy Book has specified named an exact
monetary penalty for adultery stresses in my mind the importance of
sexual fidelity to a unified, orderly society, the establishment of
which is the central purpose of the Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh in the
first place. This point can easily be obscured by our constant
exposure in the West to movies, books, TV programs, music, etc., which
celebrate the liberation of sex from the confines of marriage and
portray such indulgence as inconsequential, if not healthy and
> 1) The penalty will be against both men and women, not just against
> the woman.
> 2) The fine will be 9, not 19, mithquals of gold for the first
> adultery offense, to be doubled with each repeat offence.
I agree with all you said in your posting. I wonder what insights you
might have into the dowry law. I've always found it puzzling that
there is a dowry at all, but, as this is for the whole world and
dowry's are normal elsewhere, then it makes some sense. But it is
actually a dowry to be paid to the woman and not the man. What would
be the purpose of this? Any thoughts?
“The law of Bahá’u’lláh abolishes all such variants and conv
the dowry into a symbolic act whereby the bridegroom presents a gift
of a certain limited value to the bride.”
The “variants” mentioned here are:
Dowry - property that a woman brings to her husband at the time of
Bride Price - property that is given to the bride's parents at the
time of marriage.
Dower – property that is given to the bride by the groom at the time
Note #95 in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas goes on to say this about the
dowry: “The purpose is to promote the comfort of all, and to bring
about concord and union among the people.”
It seems to me that one of the purposes of this law is to
eliminate the hardship caused to the payer in some societies by
prohibitively expensive dowries and bride prices. Also, since the
dowry in the Bahá’í Faith is reversed, that is the husband pays it to
the bride instead of the other way around, it goes a long way in
eliminating the prejudice against women that the dowry has caused in
Take for example what is currently going on in India: “Though
prohibited by law in 1961, the extraction of DOWRY from the bride's
family prior to marriage still occurs. When the dowry amount is not
considered sufficient or is not forthcoming, the bride is often
harassed, abused and made miserable. This abuse can escalate to the
point where the husband or his family burn the bride, often by pouring
kerosene on her and lighting it, usually killing her.”
We should note that there remains a remnant of the dowry in
western civilization in that the father of the bride has traditionally
been expected to pay the wedding expenses.
Bahá’u’lláh has reversed the dowry and made it symbolic (i.e.,
not very expensive) to promote union among peoples.
Consider the following. The Bahá’í dowry is between 19 and 95
mithqals of gold - 2.25 to 11.25 ounces. In today’s dollars this is
roughly $2500-$12,500. (Bahá’u’lláh even states that it would be m
pleasing to give the lesser amount: “Whoso wisheth to increase this
sum, it is forbidden him to exceed the limit of ninety-five mithqals.
Thus hath the command been writ in majesty and power. If he content
himself, however, with a payment of the lowest level, it shall be
better for him according to the Book.”)
A $2,500-$12,500 symbolic gift from a man to his would-be bride
is not too far a field from the symbolic gifts of the engagement and
wedding rings which are typically given to the bride today in western
countries. Anyone who has gone shopping for engagement/wedding rings
knows that it is hard to find quality rings for less than $2,500 and
that they can easily cost considerably more than $12,500. This, of
course, is just for city-dwellers. In Bahá’í Law the dowry for
country-dwellers is in silver, which in today's dollars would be from
$45 to $225. This is symbolic indeed, since $45 is scarcely more than
the cost of costume jewelry! Can you just imagine the reaction if he
were to propose marriage using a $45 stainless steel ring that he
picked up at Walmart? :-)
So, one might look at the Bahá’í dowry this way. In the future
when a man who is a Bahá’í wants to propose marriage he will offer hi
would-be fiancée a gift of gold or silver instead of an engagement
ring and this dowry, like the engagement ring of today, will be
symbolic of his sincerity. Her acceptance of the gift, in turn, will
be symbolic of her acceptance of his marriage proposal. Unlike the
engagement ring of today though, this future gift of gold or silver
will be non-refundable should the wedding is called off.
> It seems to me that one of the purposes of this law is to
> eliminate the hardship caused to the payer in some societies by
> prohibitively expensive dowries and bride prices.
>When the dowry amount is not
> considered sufficient or is not forthcoming, the bride is often
> harassed, abused and made miserable. This abuse can escalate to the
> point where the husband or his family burn the bride, often by pouring
> kerosene on her and lighting it, usually killing her.”http://www.indianchild.com/dowry_in_india.htm
Yes. I can see how this kind of thing can get out of hand.
> We should note that there remains a remnant of the dowry in
> western civilization in that the father of the bride has traditionally
> been expected to pay the wedding expenses.
Good point. And that can cost a small fortune sometimes too.
> Bahá’u’lláh has reversed the dowry and made it symbolic (i.e.,
> not very expensive) to promote union among peoples.
> So, one might look at the Bahá’í dowry this way. In the future
> when a man who is a Bahá’í wants to propose marriage he will offer hi
> would-be fiancée a gift of gold or silver instead of an engagement
> ring and this dowry, like the engagement ring of today, will be
> symbolic of his sincerity. Her acceptance of the gift, in turn, will
> be symbolic of her acceptance of his marriage proposal. Unlike the
> engagement ring of today though, this future gift of gold or silver
> will be non-refundable should the wedding is called off.
Okay. This makes a lot of sense. Thanks.
I think that sometimes postings get hung up in cyberspace for a while,
and the moderator isn't sure if it went through so sends it again.
All the best