(This post is not meant to educate on the Law of Huququ’llah, but instead is meant to create interest in the subject. To read more, go here.)
For Blog Action Day, we are asked to write about poverty. I decided that I wanted to write about this beautiful part of the Baha’i Faith called Huququ’llah (Right of God). I have found a few quotations from the Baha’i writings on the subject. If you have additional input, please comment…I am by no means an expert on the subject.
“Know ye that the poor are the trust of God in your midst. Watch that ye betray not His trust, that ye deal not unjustly with them and that ye walk not in the ways of the treacherous. Ye will most certainly be called upon to answer for His trust on the day when the Balance of Justice shall be set, the day when unto every one shall be rendered his due, when the doings of all men, be they rich or poor, shall be weighed.”
(Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 251)
In the Baha’i writings we are told of our duty towards the poor, of the importance of ensuring that they are taken care of. We know that thousands die every day from hunger, even though there is enough food in the world to feed them.
“lt is incumbent upon everyone to discharge the obligation of Huquq. The advantages gained from this deed revert to the persons themselves. However, the acceptance of the offerings dependeth on the spirit of joy, fellowship and contentment that the righteous souls who fulfil this injunction will manifest. If such is the attitude acceptance is permissible, and not otherwise. Verily thy Lord is the All-Sufficing, the All-Praised…
…Should a person acquire one hundred mithqals of gold, nineteen mithqals thereof belong unto God, the Creator of earth and heaven. Take heed, O people, lest ye deprive yourselves of this great bounty. We have prescribed this law unto you while We are wholly independent of you and of all that are in the heavens and on the earth. Indeed there lie concealed in this command, mysteries and benefits which are beyond the comprehension of anyone save God, the All- Knowing, the All-Informed.”
(Baha’u’llah, Compilations, Huququ’llah)
Here we are given the guidelines for the giving of this money. It has been clarified at a deeper level, but this is sufficient for our purposes. We are told that we should not give unless we are happy to do so, and that we are rewarded for such an act. Note that giving to the Fund is different than paying Huququ’llah. Baha’u’llah also points out that He prescribed this law even when He did not need any money. Adib Taherzadeh points out, in The Child of the Covenant:
“It must be made clear that under Bahá’u’lláh’s supervision the funds were spent for the promotion of the Cause and very little, if any, for His own expenses or those of His companions.”
So what is the purpose of Huququ’llah?
“Know thou, moreover, that those who faithfully serve the All-Merciful will be enriched by Him out of His heavenly treasury and that the Huquq offering is but a test applied by Him unto His servants and maidservants. Thus every true and sincere believer will offer Huquq to be expended for the relief of the poor, the disabled, the needy, and the orphans, and for other vital needs of the Cause of God, even as Christ did establish a Fund for benevolent purposes….
…One of the tokens of His consummate wisdom is that the payment of the Huquq will enable the donors to become firm and steadfast and will exert a great influence on their hearts and souls. Furthermore the Huquq will be used for charitable purposes.”
(Abdu’l-Baha, Compilations, Huququ’llah)
So the distribution of funds goes through a central channel, the Universal House of Justice, which, as the Baha’u’llah assures us, is divinely guided:
“It is incumbent upon the Trustees of the House of Justice to take counsel together regarding those things which have not outwardly been revealed in the Book, and to enforce that which is agreeable to them. God will verily inspire them with whatsoever He willeth, and He, verily, is the Provider, the Omniscient.”
(Baha’u’llah, Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p. 68)
The Universal House of Justice then distributes the funds where they are needed…and there are a whole range of ways in which this happens.
“In brief, payment of Huququ’lláh is one of the binding spiritual responsibilities of the followers of Bahá’u’lláh and the proceeds thereof revert to the Authority in the Cause to whom all must turn. Moreover, the Ancient Beauty — magnified be His praise — has affirmed that after the establishment of the Universal House of Justice necessary rulings would be enacted in this connection in conformity with that which God has purposed, and that no one, except the Authority to which all must turn, has the right to dispose of this Fund. In other words, whatever portion of one’s wealth is due to the Huququ’lláh belongs to the World Centre of the Cause of God, not to the individuals concerned.’
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Iran, October 25, 1970)
Okay so you might ask…what does this have to do with poverty? People are starving! Well, here is my humble opinion (and please do your own research, my words mean nothing). There are charity groups, organizations that are completely devoted to the eradication of hunger and poverty…and yet, the human race keeps coming up against this wall when it trys to take care of its own kind. Change does not happen through the passing of resolutions or trade embargoes. It does not happen when a country is threatened with war or cajoled with the promise of peace. Change happens when hearts are changed, when the heart accepts the Word of God and acts on it. It does not happen overnight. There is no magical cure, and the road ahead is going to be difficult.
We will not take care of our fellow human beings until we recognize God in them, until we deal with racism, prejudice, and all of those ills that afflict mankind. Being able to detach from our possessions in a spirit of joy in order to help those less fortunate is a pretty good start.