Bahá’u’lláh - Wives

Bahá’u’lláh, Who was revealing His Teachings in the milieu of a Muslim society, introduced the question of monogamy gradually in accordance with the principles of wisdom and the progressive unfoldment of His purpose. The fact that He left His followers with an infallible Interpreter of His Writings enabled Him to outwardly permit two wives in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas but uphold a condition that enabled ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to elucidate later that the intention of the law was to enforce monogamy.

Bahá’u’lláh, Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 206

Bahá’u’lláh had no concubine, He had three legal wives. As He married them before the "Aqdas" (His book of laws) was revealed, He was only acting according to the laws of Islám, which had not yet been superseded. He made plurality of wives conditional upon justice; ‘Abdu’l-Bahá interpreted this to mean that a man may not have more than one wife at a time, as it is impossible to be just to two or more women in marriage.

The Universal House of Justice, 1995 Oct 23, Wives of Bahá’u’lláh

Bahá’u’lláh married the first and second wives while He was still in Tihrán, and the third wife while He was in Baghdád. At that time, the Laws of the "Aqdas" had not been revealed, and secondly, He was following the Laws of the previous Dispensation and the customs of the people of His own land.

The Universal House of Justice, 1995 Oct 23, Wives of Bahá’u’lláh

Bahá’u’lláh married Asiyih Khanum in Tihrán in 1251 AH (1835) when He was over 18 years of age. Asiyih Khanum, later surnamed Navvab by Bahá’u’lláh, was a daughter of a nobleman, Mírzá Isma'il-i-Vazir. Her date of birth is not known. She was a most noble and faithful follower of Bahá’u’lláh who served her Lord until the end of her life in 1886. There were seven children of the marriage, four of whom died in childhood. The other three were 'Abbas, entitled the 'Most Great Branch', ‘Abdu’l-Bahá; Fatimih, entitled Bahiyyih Khanum, the Greatest Holy Leaf; and Mihdi, entitled 'the Purest Branch'.

The second wife of Bahá’u’lláh, whom He married in Tihran in 1849, was Fatimih Khanum, usually referred to as Mahd-i-'Ulya. She was a cousin of Bahá’u’lláh and gave birth to six children, of whom four survived. They were one daughter, Samadiyyih, and three sons, Muhammad-'Ali, Diya'u'llah and Badi'u'llah. These four, along with their mother, violated the Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh. Mahd-i-'Ulya died in 1904.

The third wife, Gawhar Khanum, was not known by any other title. The dates of her birth, marriage and death are not known. Her marriage took place some time in Baghdad before the declaration of Bahá’u’lláh's mission. While Navvab and Mahd-i-'Ulya travelled with Him in all His exiles, Gawhar Khanum remained in Baghdad with her brother, Mirza Mihdiy-i-Kashani. For some years she was among the Bahá’í refugees in Mosul and later went to 'Akká at Bahá’u’lláh's instruction. She gave birth to one daughter, Furughiyyih; mother and daughter both became Covenant-breakers after the passing of Bahá’u’lláh.

Adib Taherzadeh, The Child of the Covenant, p. 22

It is necessary for the purpose of studying the Covenant to become informed of Bahá’u’lláh's marriages and His children. Bahá’u’lláh had married three wives before the declaration of His mission in 1863. As has already been stated, the Manifestation of God conducts His personal life according to the customs of the time. Polygamy was a normal practice in those days; indeed, it would have been abnormal for a man who belonged to the nobility to be monogamous in that society . . . It is clear that marriage customs in Persia during the 19th century are not comparable to those now current in most parts of the world. The mere mention of polygamy today will raise in people's minds associations of sex, lust and corruption. But this was not true in the case of people who contracted marriages according to Islamic law over a hundred years ago. Men practised polygamy not necessarily from lust but because they were conducting their lives within a society that had established certain customs and conventions to which all had to conform. Thus a young man happily submitted his will to that of his parents and carried out their wish in marrying someone of their choosing; thereafter he contracted further marriages as a routine matter.

Adib Taherzadeh, The Child of the Covenant, p. 19-21