Little Known Fact: Baha’i Age of Consent

If you asked your average friendly neighborhood Baha’i about the age of consent in the Baha’i Faith, they would most probably say 15 years of age.

And that is true… for the most part. The Kitab-i-Aqdas and Some Answered Questions both mention the fifteenth year.

But if that was all there was to it, this wouldn’t be another installment of “it’s a little known fact”!

A recent article written by Sen McGlinn delves into the topic and explains why the age of consent for Baha’is is actually, 15, 14 and unknown (not yet set by the UHJ). Yes, all three.

  • Desir0101

    Its not a great issue.
    But not that bad.
    Surely Bahaullah had the vision and in Islam the age to perform obligatory prayer, fasting and marriage is earlier.

    But I wanted express myself in a different angle.

    The Bahai teacher use to present the faith in an elementary way. elaborating on unity of humanity, progressive revelation and the famous 12 principles.
    Next step present the card or invite the person to enroll.
    The new comer is completely unaware of the rules and laws forming the Bahai paradigm.
    By the time he (or she) will engage in marriage, he will find the Bahai marriage impose on him. No way to escape or his voting right will be removed.

    Discredited, humilated, destroyed the individual conscience and good will.

    I witnessed many cases where only one person is a bahai in a whole family and the parents are not willing to observe the bahai marriage, have gone through extreme psychological stress and a tug of war.
    The Bahai find himself squeeze in between.
    Other cases up to cancellation of the engagement. So much harm in the name of Bahai marriage ceremony.

    And the teaching said that marriage is made to unite bond between families cultures and ethnics.

    if he quit the Faith he will have to face the individual of his community and assembly of the fear being the lost one in the book of God. ”..if you turn away therefrom you are surely the lost one before God.”

    What’s your opinion if a bahai above 15 years and under 21 get marry without observing the Bahai ceremony. As he has no voting right.


  • Guest

    The term “voting rights” encompasses more than simply the right to vote in Bah??’? elections. As seen in the following statement: 
    “Answering specifically the questions you raise, if a person is deprived of his voting rights, he may not contribute to the Local or National Funds; he may not attend Nineteen Day Feasts. Of course, not attending the Nineteen Day Feasts, he can take no part in consultation. While it is not forbidden for the friends to associate with the individual, yet their association should be on a formal basis.”(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of South America, March 7, 1955)

    As such, I would imagine if a Bah??’? above the age of 15 but under 21 married without the proper Bah??’? ceremony and in turn lost their voting rights, they would be subject to the terms above and once they turned 21 (given that they did not regain their voting rights) they would also not be able to vote. 

  • Desir0101

    Hello Guest,
    Of course you are right. Thanks for your response.
    In the Kitab  i aqdas paragraph 65. it make mention “” upon permission of their parents””.

    In the note 92. still shoghi effendi specified “”parents””.

    In the Collins English dictionary parents means :

    1. father or mother.
    2. a person acting as a mother or father, guardian.

    Is there any quote in the Bahai scriptures defining (parents) as only (BIOLOGICAL) mother and father.

    I have always witnessed LSA/NSA insisted to future marry couple to seek written consent testimony from their (biological) mother and father, or sent a LSA/NSA member as a witness to consent.

    It could be that mother or father have separated and left the subject for years and have to search for them or one of them, may be for months or years or even don’t know his/her existence or abandon to someone or somewhere.
    The biological parent/s may have no idea of the environment, and all personal affairs of his child.

    And may even raised up by someone other than mother or father.
    In case when both mother and father have left this world no need for parents consent.

    How will a  parent guardian feel in such case when marriage consent is required no need for his concern, despite he spent all his life and sacrifice to grown up this child now an adult, whom he knew best than any one.

    I need to be enlightened here.


  • Guest

    Reflect on these two quotes: 

    1247. Every Reasonable Avenue of Search Must Be Exhausted to Find Parent– The Responsible Assembly Must Be Satisfied This Has Been Done

    “The Universal House of Justice has received your letter of 8 May 1986 presenting Miss …, problem of consent to her marriage by her putative father. We are asked to convey its response.

    “It seems clear that Miss … has a slender connection with her genetic father. Nevertheless, despite his long absence and his lack of any relationship with either mother or daughter, Miss … is obligated to make every effort, however discreetly carried out, to ascertain his whereabouts, including such steps as contacting persons, firms or agencies, and even advertising in newspapers if necessary. The Local or National Assembly accepts that Miss …’s father-in-law elect cannot be traced and the National Assembly may offer its assistance to the couple, if needed. When the Assembly is satisfied that every reasonable avenue of search has been exhausted without discovering the missing parent, the Assembly may permit the marriage to take place.”

    (From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, June 2, 1986)

    1250. Summary of Requirements for Adopted Children in Respect to Consent

    “Regarding the matter of adopted children, the consent of all natural parents must be obtained wherever this is legally possible but no effort should be made to trace the natural parents if this contravenes the provision of the adoption certificate or the laws of the country. If there is no such legal bar to approaching the natural parents and if it is legally established that the man in question is the father, the child must obtain his consent if he is alive. If the presumed father has disappeared to the degree that he can be presumed legally dead then his consent is not required. Furthermore, if the assumed natural father denies that he is the father of the child the following principles apply: if his name appears on the birth certificate of the child and if the law of the country presumes that the name on the birth certificate is that of the father, then he should be considered as the father for the purpose of obtaining consent. If the name of the father given on the birth certificate is not a conclusive presumption of parenthood and if the man in question has always denied that he is the father of the child, the child is not required to seek the consent of this man unless it has been legally established that he is the father notwithstanding his denial.”

    (From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, October 24, 1965)
    Let me know if you have any other questions. 

  • Desir0101

    hello Guest, I appreciate.
    As per your request I have may be one last question.
    In the case of in vitro fertilisation, where a sperm/egg from a donor and then implanted in a surrogate mother (who is not the donor ) and will give birth later, let’s say baby A.

    The scenario, first we have the donor an acquaintance of the family, secondly the surrogate mother and thirdly the legal parents.

    So. at time when consent of marriage will be required in the case of A now an adult, whom should consent be asked from.


  • Guest

    Perhaps if the situation arises it would be wise for the family to consult with the House on what would be the most appropriate. I would assume that the natural parents of the child would have to give consent. Seeing as this would (I assume) be the surrogate mother and the sperm donor. However once again, it would be best to consult with the NSA or the House to see if there has been any similar previous cases. 

  • Concourse on Low

    I think you should consult a Shia marja for the answers, since this is the same sort of bullshit that occupies Shia legalism.

  • Guest

    this exactley like the topics in Quran alKarim, same source same character same lie same same

    dear bahais “are you happy” ?

  • Baquia

    CoL, how easy it is to get caught up in the minutia and lose sight of the spirit or essence. Clearly the reason why Baha’i law requires the involvement of 6 persons is to safeguard the young relationship and to unite two families. Of course families come in a wide array of shapes and colors. Wisdom would suggest that one use common sense based on the contingencies of each situation.

  • Anonymous

    Not at all. Unlike the Quran, the Baha’i Faith has a very clear method for creating and modifying any laws not mentioned in the Aqdas.

  • Concourse on Low

    Oh yeah? Please enlighten us to the “very clear method.”

  • Concourse on Low

    Common sense hamstrung by medieval pettifoggery.

  • Anonymous

    from the constitution of the UHJ:

    “To enact laws and ordinances not expressly recorded in the Sacred Texts; to abrogate, according to the changes and requirements of the time, its own enactments…”

  • Concourse on Low


    You’ve failed to enlighten me by pointing out that the UHJ is the body to enact new laws. Thanks. And the sky is blue.

    So let’s try again. Please enlighten us to the “very clear method” that the UHJ uses – or ought to use – for creating and modifying laws.

  • Steve

    OK, perhaps not a method. /what’s important is that it has a very clear mandate or justification to enact new laws. How it enacts new laws is presumably pretty much left up to the House itself.

  • Concourse on Low


    Fair enough. But even though the Quran doesn’t explicitly mandate a UHJ equivalent, Islamic jurisprudence and its methods for deriving corollary or implicit laws from explicit laws is very sophisticated. The UHJ, and by extension the Faith, lacks a sophisticated framework for doing this.

  • Anonymous

    CoL, unlike the Quran, Baha’u’llah created a clear line of succession when it comes to legislative authority. The Shi’ite Marja’ instead gains authority from acceptance from the community as a point of taqlid or imitation and uses that authority to then set laws or ordinances.

    The UHJ is a unique institution, singular, endowed with authoritative legislative authority by the Prophet directly and irrevocably.

    Islam does not have any comparable institution. Nor does any other religion.

  • Concourse on Low


    Thanks for the Baha’i Bot 101 lesson.

    As usual, you’ve failed to address my question to you.

    Read my reply to Steve.

    The UHJ is the Baha’i Faith’s equivalent of a marja. But WHAT IS THE VERY CLEAR METHOD OF CREATING AND MODIFYING LAWS?!! Marjas gain authority by demonstrating good jurisprudential analysis in their derivation of new and modified laws. By contrast, the UHJ lacks this discursive transparency and demands assent by virtue of its  institutional authority and not the perspicuity of its reasoning.

  • Anonymous

    CoL, I may have misunderstood your original question. You seem to be concerned with the exact mechanism or process that the UHJ takes in order to make a decision.

    The UHJ is not the equivalent of a Shi’ite marja-i-taqlid. The differences are myriad and don’t require extensive exposition to someone as knowledgeable as yourself. In fact, it would be difficult to find two things more different.

    Marja’s do not have any pass any ‘test’ but simply are given that authority by the community. Their decisions can be often ridiculous and unacceptable to other marja’s. The Sunnis’ don’t have a marja but one of the most important sources of Islamic law has decrees some outrageous things – including something quite funny about breastmilk.

    Again, there is no test or requirement of a demonstration of ‘good jurisprudence’ in order to gain the title and position. Rather it is taken/given.

    The deliberations of the UHJ are private. They do not publish minutes, discussions, etc. Only their final decision. I believe it is this that you are criticising (if I’m not correct, let me know). The prior confusion was caused by my calling ‘clear’ the delineation of their authority while you were thinking of the process they engage in to arrive at decisions.

    AFAIK there is nothing that would prevent the UHJ from making public their meetings or deliberations. Many of the items on their agenda are of a routine administrative nature and many are personal items. On the whole quite boring. But nevertheless, if we ignore these there is no reason why important decisions or minutes can not be shared with the community at large. Perhaps with a time lag as with the Fed Reserve’s minutes (?).

  • Steve

    I take the point that any legislative body needs to “add value”.  In a democracy, a government is going to get tossed out sooner rather than later if it doesn’t live up to expectations. The Arab spring is showing what can happen in less democratic states. All governors govern by the consent of the people, although it’s a brave soul who will first point that out.

    In religion, similar processes occur. Believers will still pay lip service to their leaders, even after any real support for them, and their policies, has eroded away.

    I have difficulty seeing how the currently constituted House adds any value, although it seems a little more in touch and less impulsive than it was 5-15 years ago.

  • Concourse on Low


    Your understanding of how Shia clerics receive the status of marja is mistaken.

    Marja’s aren’t “simply given authority by the community.” One
    becomes a marja through the recognition of preeminent clerics and
    through popular recognition, both of which depend on the intellectual
    quality, theological achievements and character of the marja. So it’s not the arbitrary process
    that you make it out to be.

    Of course the UHJ and the Shia institution of marja(ism?) aren’t EXACTLY the same thing, but they share one salient characteristic: they’re both what people of their respective religions turn to when faced with novel situations that require new or modified laws. They’re both institutions for religious legislation. Yes, there are many marjas in Shia Islam, and their rulings conflict , whereas the Baha’i Faith has one marja, the UHJ, the institution Baha’is turn to when confronted with novel circumstances, just as their Shia counterparts turn to their respective marjas for edification in unprecedented situations.

    A salient difference between marjas and the UHJ: the former make their arguments and reasoning available to their followers while the latter shun transparency.

    Do you think their public discussions and minutes on legislative matters should be published so they can be scrutinized? Or do you think that’s unnecessary since they’re infallible?

    Do you prefer oracular pronouncements or reasoned decision-making?

  • Stephen Gray

    Be more specific. That only refers to Usuli Twelver Shia. They are a majority, but not all Shias are like that. There are Zaidis, Ismailis, Mustalis, Bohras, Nizaris, Druze, Akbhari Twelvers, Shaykhi Twelvers, Nimatullahi Twelvers, Safaviya Twelvers, Qizilbashi Twelvers, Alevis, Alawites, Bektashis, etc.

  • Concourse on Low

    Yes. And?

  • Stephen Gray

    If so why did the Bab specifically have the opposite opinion? Baha’u’llah reversed the Bab’s reforms. The Bab was revolutionary, Baha’u’llah tended to be more reactionary. 

    It hath been laid down in the Bayan that marriage is dependent upon the consent
    of both parties. Desiring to  establish love, unity and harmony amidst Our
    servants, We have conditioned it, once the couple’s wish is known, upon the
    permission of their parents, lest enmity and rancour should arise amongst
    them. Kit??b-i-Aqdas

  • Stephen Gray

    This was cuased by the abscence of Imams in Twelvers Shiism. Others, like Nizaris still have Imams ie Aga Khan IV.