Early in the year 1873, when Baha’u’llah had been imprisoned in Akka for nearly five years, he revealed the Most Holy Book, which contains the laws and ordinances that would serve as the basis for the development of the Baha’i Faith and as the framework for a future world civilization.
Baha’u’llah described this work, unique in the sacred scriptures of the world in both style and range, as “‘the source of true felicity’” and the “‘Unerring Balance.’” He ranked it as His foremost work, “‘. . . a heaven which We have adorned with the stars of Our commandments,’” and His “‘weightiest testimony unto all people, and the proof of the All-Merciful unto all who are in heaven and all who are on earth.’” – God Passes By, p. 215; The Most Holy Book, paragraph 99; God Passes By, p. 216.
The Most Holy Book was revealed in Arabic, and is held by those familiar with that language to be incomparable in its power, compactness, and enchanting beauty of expression. Even in its English translation these qualities come across to some extent, for the language is both compelling and exalted. The originality of presentation, wherein themes and exhortations of very different kinds, linked by common threads, are interspersed in quick succession, is remarkable and fascinating. The majesty of tone and rapid, changing flow give the overall effect of a rushing torrent or of a rapidly changing series of panoramas, each providing a new spiritual vista. To read it is an unforgettable experience.
The Most Holy Book, or Kitab-i-Aqdas, covers a range of essential issues. It sheds light on the purpose of divine law and on the necessity for humanity to be attentive to the Word of God. It upholds the validity of all of the divinely revealed religions, affirming their essential teachings regarding the oneness of God, personal morality, and love for others. It abrogates laws no longer in accord with the needs of this age. It proclaims new laws that are appropriate to humanity’s present stage of development and that are designed to foster the unification of the peoples of the world. Such laws deal with the individual’s relationship to God, with matters that benefit the individual directly, and with interpersonal and other social relationships, asserting high and uncompromising moral values.
The Most Holy Book includes exhortations, particularly to rulers and ecclesiastics, on the imperatives of justice, order, and peace and delineates essential principles for achieving them. It foreshadows the unification of the world’s peoples, the establishment of universal peace, and the emergence of a new world order, establishing the basic framework for a just system of governance. Furthermore, and perhaps most significantly, it establishes a new covenant between God and humanity, providing the Baha’i Faith with continued leadership after Baha’u’llah’s passing and, through new and unprecedented interpretive and legislative institutions, the means for continued, orderly development with the full assurance that the integrity and unity of his Cause will be safeguarded.
The Most Holy Book is not lengthy, but its themes are profound, encompassing many aspects of the Baha’i Faith:
…it heraldeth the oneness of the children of men. It is the flag of universal peace, the spirit of eternal life; it is the glory of the perfections of God, the circumambient grace of all existence, the ornament bedecking all created things, the source of inner quietude for all humankind.
Direct thine attention to the holy Tablets; read thou… the Most Holy Book. Then wilt thou see that today these heavenly Teachings are the remedy for a sick and suffering world, and a healing balm for the sores on the body of mankind. They are the spirit of life, the ark of salvation, the magnet to draw down eternal glory, the dynamic power to motivate the inner self of man. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 60.