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LESSON IV
LAWS FOR SOCIETY

Bahá'u'lláh ... has ... clearly and specifically laid down a set of Laws, established definite institutions, and provided for the essentials of a Divine Economy.

Shoghi Effendi, World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 19


CONSULTATION

The heaven of divine wisdom is illumined and shining with two orbs, consultation and kindness.

Bahá'u'lláh, Tablet of Ishráqát, Bahá'í World Faith, p. 198

Consultation He established as one of the fundamental principles of His Faith; describes it as "the lamp of guidance," as "the bestower of understanding," and as one of the two "luminaries" of the "heaven of Divine Wisdom."

Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 218

The principle of consultation, which constitutes one of the basic laws of the Administration, should be applied to all Bahá'í activities which affect the collective interests of the Faith, for it is through cooperation and continual exchange of thoughts and views that the Cause can best safeguard and foster its interests.... Individual initiative, personal ability and resourcefulness, though indispensable, are, unless supported and enriched by the collective experiences and wisdom of the group, utterly incapable of achieving such a tremendous task.

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Consultation, p. 15

... it is the duty of the NSA to devise ways and means which would enable them to obtain valuable suggestions, not only from the total number of the elected delegates, but from as large a body of their fellow-workers as is humanly possible.

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, NSA, p. 24

Theirs [NSA members] is the duty ... to invite discussion, provide information, ventilate grievances, welcome advice from even the most humble and insignificant members of the Bahá'í family.

Shoghi Effendi, Bahá'í Administration, pp. 143-144

... oftentimes, the most lowly, untutored and inexperienced among the friends will, by the sheer inspiring force of selfless and ardent devotion, contribute a distinct and memorable share to a highly involved discussion in any given Assembly.

Shoghi Effendi, BA, p. 79

... Bahá'u'lláh has expressly laid down the law of consultation and never indicated that anything else superseded it.

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Consultation, p. 18


CONSULTATION WITH EXPERTS

No doubt, the power of prayer is very great, yet consultation with experts is enjoined by Bahá'u'lláh.

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 54

... he sees no objection to using the advice and services of non-Bahá'í experts, or agencies, as long as the purity of the Teachings and the dignity of the Faith are maintained.

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Principles of Bahá'í Administration, p. 60

As regards the whole question of the Temple and ... the best seating arrangement.... All minor details regarding this matter are left to the discretion of your Assembly to decide after receiving the advice of experts.... What provision for keeping the cold out, and what entrances you wish to make constant use of, are matters for your Assembly to decide after receiving expert advice.... Any modifications ... [of] Bourgeoisís designs ... should only be made by an experienced architect and decorator, and not be left to the discrimination of mere laymen. The use of all nine or only a certain number of entrances is left to you to decide in consultation with your advisers. He urges you, at all times, to receive the very best technical advice...

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Bahá'í News #188, p. 2

After consultation with experts it became apparent that the bowl seating arrangement could not be included within the financial limitation definitely set, and a seating arrangement prepared by Mr. Clarence Ullrich was adopted.

NSA of US, BN #198, p. 1

... the National Spiritual Assembly, aided by ... the expert advice of a management consultant, brought under close scrutiny its various institutional operations.... A certified public accountant was appointed as controller to streamline the operations of the Treasury.
    A series of new advertisements for use by Bahá'í communities and groups in their local newspapers ... were researched and designed by a professional company....

NSA of US, National Bahá'í Review #18, pp. 5, 20

The Guardian knows nothing about your kind of healing,.... But he can lay down for your guidance certain broad principles:... In His Most Holy Book (the Aqdas) Bahá'u'lláh says to consult the best physicians, in other words, doctors who have studied a scientific system of medicine; He never gave us to believe He, Himself, would heal us through "healers" but rather through prayer and the assistance of medicine and approved treatments.
    Now as long as your healing is in no opposition to these principles, as long as you do not try to take the place of a regular doctor in trying to heal others, but only give them your kind of help through constructive suggestion – or whatever it may be – and do not associate this help with being a channel of the direct grace of Bahá'u'lláh, the Guardian sees no harm in your continuing your assistance to others. But you must conscientiously decide whether, in view of the above, you are really justified in continuing.

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, LOG, p. 278

As Bahá'u'lláh has urged us to avail ourselves of the help of good physicians Bahá'ís are certainly not only free to turn to psychiatry for assistance but should, when available, do so. This does not mean psychiatrists are always wise or always right; it means we are free to avail ourselves of the best medicine has to offer us.

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Unfolding Destiny, p. 248


NINETEEN DAY FEAST

The Nineteen Day Feast was inaugurated by the Báb and ratified by Bahá'u'lláh in His Holy Book, the Aqdas, so that people may gather together and outwardly show fellowship and love, that the divine mysteries may be disclosed.

'Abdu'l-Bahá, Baha'i Meetings – The Nineteen Day Feast, p. 21

Concerning the nature of the Nineteen Day Feast. In the Aqdas, Bahá'u'lláh clearly revealed the spiritual and social character of this institution. Its administrative significance, however, has been stressed by the Guardian in direct response to the growing needs of the Bahá'í community in this formative period of the Bahá'í era for better training in the principles and practice of Bahá'í administration.
Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Baha'i Meetings – The Nineteen Day Feast, pp. 25-26

The chief opportunity which the friends have for discussion on administrative questions is during the Nineteen Day Feasts....

Shoghi Effendi, Dawn of a New Day, p. 201

Shoghi Effendi firmly believes that consultation must be maintained between the NSA and the entire body of the believers, and that such a consultation, when the Convention is not in session, can best be maintained through the agency of the local assemblies, one of whose essential functions is to act as intermediaries between the local communities and their national representatives. The main purpose of the Nineteen Day Feast is to enable individual believers to offer any suggestion to the local assembly which in its turn will pass it to the NSA

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, NSA, p. 26


THE MASHRIQU’L-ADHKÁR

Some material things have spiritual effect, and the Mashriquíl-Adhkar is a thing that will have great effect upon the spirits of the people.

'Abdu'l-Bahá, BN #208 insert

Temples are the symbols of the divine uniting force so that when the people gather there in the House of God they may recall the fact that the law was revealed for them and that the law is to unite them.

'Abdu'l-Bahá, Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 65

... the central Edifice of the Mashriquíl-Adhkar ... a House solely designed and entirely dedicated to the worship of God in accordance with the few, yet definitely prescribed principles established by Bahá'u'lláh in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas.

Shoghi Effendi, BA, p. 184


INSTITUTIONS MUST OBEY AND ENFORCE
BAHÁ'Í LAWS AND PRINCIPLES

It is incumbent upon the men of God's House of Justice to fix their gaze by day and by night upon that which hath shone forth from the Pen of Glory ...

Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 125

Its rulings shall be in accordance with the commands and teachings of Bahá'u'lláh....

'Abdu'l-Bahá, PUP, p. 455

This Administrative Order ... functions in strict accordance with the interpretations of the authorised Interpreters of its holy scriptures.

Shoghi Effendi, The Faith of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 13

It should be understood by the friends that before legislating upon any matter the Universal House of Justice studies carefully and exhaustively both the Sacred Texts and the writings of Shoghi Effendi on the subject. The interpretations written by the beloved Guardian ... are equally as binding as the Text itself.

Universal House of Justice, Wellspring of Guidance, p. 52

... a visible Order, which would ... wholly identify itself with His principles, and function in conformity with His laws.

Shoghi Effendi, WOB, p. 19

... operating solely in direct conformity with the laws and principles of Bahá'u'lláh.

Shoghi Effendi, Advent of Divine Justice, p. 15

... enable these newly-fledged groups and Assemblies to function in strict accordance with both the spiritual and administrative principles of the Faith ...

Shoghi Effendi, Messages to America, p. 44-45

... in conformity with the spiritual and administrative principles governing the life and activities of every established Bahá'í community throughout the world. No departure from these cardinal and clearly enunciated principles, ... common to all Bahá'í communities, can under any circumstances be tolerated.

Shoghi Effendi, ADJ, p. 63

... the Assembly is a nascent House of Justice and is supposed to administer, according to the Teachings, the affairs of the community.

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, LOG, p. 77

... "Spiritual Assemblies" ... solemnly pledged to follow, under all conditions, the dictates of the "Most Great Justice"....

Shoghi Effendi, GPB, p. 331

[Bahá'u'lláh] ... made justice the only basis and the permanent foundation of His Most Great Peace.

Shoghi Effendi, ADJ, p. 29

Deal with them with undeviating justice.... Such is the path which the kings ... have trodden, they that acted equitably towards their subjects, and walked in the ways of undeviating justice.

Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh. p. 235, 237

Blessed is he that entereth the assembly for the sake of God, and judgeth between men with pure justice.

Bahá'u'lláh, The Promised Day is Come, p. 36

Judge ye between them according to the precepts prescribed by God in His most holy and exalted Tablet, a Tablet wherein He hath assigned to each and every thing its settled measure, in which He hath given, with distinctness, an explanation of all things, ...

Bahá'u'lláh, GWB, p. 252

... the Laws revealed by Bahá'u'lláh in the Aqdas are, whenever practicable and not in direct conflict with the Civil Laws of the land, absolutely binding on every believer or Bahá'í institution whether in the East or in the West.

Shoghi Effendi, Kitáb-i-Aqdas, p. 6

... the whole machinery of assemblies, of committees and conventions ... will rise or fall according to their capacity to further the interests, to coordinate the activities, to apply the principles, to embody the ideals and execute the purpose of the Bahá'í Faith.

Shoghi Effendi, WOB, p. 9

Blessed is the ... trustee who performs what he is commanded on the part of the Pre-existent Commander.

Bahá'u'lláh, Words of Paradise, BWF, p. 183

If a governor realises his responsibility and fears to defy the divine law, his judgments will be just. Above all, if he believes that the consequences of his actions will follow him beyond his earthly life, and that "as he sows so must he reap," such a man will surely avoid injustice and tyranny....
    When a ruler knows that his judgments will be weighed in a balance by the Divine Judge ... then will he surely act with justice and equity.

'Abdu'l-Bahá, PT, p. 158

... it would be preferable if the election of ... members of consultative assemblies ... should be dependent on the will and choice of the people. For elected representatives will on this account be somewhat inclined to exercise justice, lest their reputation suffer and they fall into disfavour with the public.

'Abdul-Baha, SDC, p. 24

These Schools, being independent and official Bahá'í institutions, could not very well ignore, much less violate, the express provisions and laws of the Aqdas.... Institutions that are entirely managed by Bahá'ís are, for reasons that are only too obvious, under the obligation of enforcing all the laws and ordinances of the Faith.

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, BN #97, p. 1


PUNISHMENT

The Third Ishráq commands the executing of the penal laws, for this is the primary means for the maintenance of the world.

Bahá'u'lláh, Tablet of Ishráq, BWF, p. 198

In formulating the principles and laws a part hath been devoted to penalties which form an effective instrument for the security and protection of men. However, dread of the penalties maketh people desist only outwardly from committing vile and contemptible deeds, while that which guardeth and restraineth man both outwardly and inwardly hath been and still is the fear of God.

Bahá'u'lláh, TB, p. 93

The object of punishment is not vengeance, but the prevention of crime.... the law must punish ... in order to prevent a repetition of that same crime by others, as the pain of the individual is unimportant beside the general welfare of the people.

'Abdu'l-Bahá, PT, p. 154

The communities must punish the oppressor, the murderer, the malefactor, so as to warn and restrain others from committing like crimes....
    ... the community ... imprisons or punishes ... merely for the protection and security of others. It is not for the purpose of taking vengeance upon the murderer, but for the purpose of inflicting a punishment by which the community will be protected. If the community and the inheritors of the murdered one were to forgive and return good for evil, the cruel would be continually ill-treating others, and assassinations would continually occur.... its purpose is by punishment to protect others, so that no atrocious actions may be committed.
    ... Some people are like bloodthirsty wolves; if they see no punishment forthcoming, they will kill men merely for pleasure and diversion.

'Abdu'l-Bahá, SAQ, pp. 268-270

As to the question regarding the soul of a murderer, and what his punishment would be, the answer given was that the murderer must expiate his crime: that is, if they put the murderer to death, his death is his atonement for his crime, and following the death, God in His justice will impose no second penalty upon him, for divine justice would not allow this.

'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 179

Bahá'u'lláh ... [said, of an evil doer who professed devotion to Him,] ... to an official who ... had hesitated to inflict upon that criminal the punishment he deserved: "Tell him, no one in this world can claim any relationship to Me except those who, in all their deeds and in their conduct, follow My example, in such wise that all the peoples of the earth would be powerless to prevent them from doing and saying that which is meet and seemly." "This brother of Mine, this Mírzá Músá, who is from the same mother and father as Myself, and who from his earliest childhood has kept Me company, should he perpetrate an act contrary to the interests of either the state or religion, and his guilt be established in your sight, I would be pleased and appreciate your action were you to bind his hands and cast him into the river to drown, and refuse to consider the intercession of any one on his behalf."

Shoghi Effendi, GPB, p. 133

In this Book (Kitáb-i-Aqdas) ... He ... cautions them not to be indulgent in carrying out His statutes....

Shoghi Effendi, GPB, pp. 214-215

Beware lest, through compassion, ye neglect to carry out the statutes of the religion of God;....

Bahá'u'lláh, KA, p 36

Should any one among you take up arms against another, rise ye all against him, for this is naught but manifest justice.

Bahá'u'lláh, WOB, p. 40

The fundamental principle underlying this solemn Pact should be so fixed that if any government later violate any one of its provisions, all the governments on earth should arise to reduce it to utter submission, nay the human race as a whole should resolve, with every power at its disposal, to destroy that government.

'Abdu'l-Bahá, SDC, p. 65

... a single code of international law ... shall have as its sanction the instant and coercive intervention of the combined forces of the federated units....

Shoghi Effendi, WOB, p. 41

... a system in which Force is made the servant of Justice....

Shoghi Effendi, WOB, p. 204

A small force for the purposes of internal security, the correction of criminal and disorderly elements and the prevention of local disturbances, would be required....

'Abdu'l-Bahá, SDC, p. 65

In Persia ... the determination of its members to ... enforce its laws and ordinances, penalize those who would transgress them ... adhering to the fundamental spiritual principles, precepts and laws revealed by Bahá'u'lláh....

Shoghi Effendi, GPB, p. 362

[If] they feel forced to deprive a person from his vote it should be only to safeguard the rest and not merely to inflict punishment.

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, LOG, p. 61

... the imposition of sanctions by Bahá'í elective Assemblies, now assuming the duties and functions of religious courts, on recalcitrant members of the community by denying them the right to vote and of membership in these Assemblies and their communities....

Shoghi Effendi, 1944, GPB, p. 371


MATTERS OF PERSONAL STATUS

[Accomplished in Egypt in 1929:] ... the codification and publication of the fundamental laws of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas regarding matters of personal status, such as marriage, divorce, inheritance and burial, and the presentation of these laws to the Egyptian Cabinet; the issuance of marriage and divorce certificates by the Egyptian National Spiritual Assembly; the assumption of that Assembly of all the duties and responsibilities connected with the conduct of Bahá'í marriages and divorces, as well as with the burial of the dead ... a petition addressed ... to the Egyptian Prime Minister, the Minister of the Interior and the Minister of Justice ... requesting them to recognize their Assembly as a body qualified to exercise the functions of an independent court and empowered to apply, in all matters affecting their personal status, the laws and ordinances revealed by the Author of their Faith....

Shoghi Effendi, GPB, p. 367

The enforcement of the Bahá'í marriage and divorce laws has become mandatory upon the National Spiritual Assembly. Therefore, full understanding of the meaning and implications of the laws surrounding marriage and the family is imperative....

NSA of the US, Annual Reports, 1963-64, p. 7


MARRIAGE

It hath been laid down in the Bayán 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.

Bahá'u'lláh, KA, p. 42

As to the question of marriage, according to the law of God: First you must select one, and then it depends on the consent of the father and mother. Before your selection they have no right of interference.

'Abdu'l-Bahá, Japan Will Turn Ablaze, p. 23

The Bahá'í betrothal is the perfect agreement and entire consent of both parties. They must show forth the utmost attention and become informed of one another's character. The firm covenant between them must become an eternal binding, and their intentions must be everlasting affinity, friendship, unity and life.
    The marriage of Bahá'ís means that both man and woman must become spiritually and physically united, so that they may have eternal unity throughout all the divine worlds and improve the spiritual life of each other. This is Bahá'í matrimony.
    Among the majority of the people marriage consists of physical relationship and this union and relationship is temporary for at the end physical separation is destined and ordained. But the marriage of the people of Bahá must consist of both physical and spiritual relationship.
    When relationship, union and concord exist between the two from a physical and spiritual standpoint, that is the real union, therefore everlasting. But if the union is merely from the physical point of view, unquestionably it is temporal and at the end separation is inevitable.
    Consequently when the people of Bahá desire to enter the sacred union of marriage, eternal connection and ideal relationship, spiritual and physical association of thoughts and conceptions of life must exist between them, so that in all the grades of existence and all the worlds of God this union may continue forever and ever for this real union is a splendour of the light of the love of God.
    ... Undoubtedly that union and relationship is eternal.

'Abdu'l-Bahá, BWF, pp. 372-373

['Abduíl-Baháís] mother, the saintly Navvab ... whom Baháíu'lláh in His Tablet, has destined to be "His consort in every one of His worlds."

Shoghi Effendi, GPB, p. 348

Bahá'uílláh has clearly stated the consent of all living parents is required for a Bahá'í marriage. This applies whether the parents are Bahá'ís or non-Bahá'ís, divorced for years, or not. This great law He has laid down to strengthen the social fabric, to knit closer the ties of the home, to place a certain gratitude and respect in the hearts of children for those who have given them life and sent their souls out on the eternal journey towards their Creator.... The Bahá'í must, through rigid adherence to the Bahá'í laws and teachings, combat those corrosive forces which are so rapidly destroying home life and the beauty of family relationships, and tearing down the moral structure of society.

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, cited in Divorce, p. 13

With reference to the permission granted by the Marriage License Bureau of the City of Chicago to the Chicago Assembly to perform Bahá'í marriages, the Guardian considers this indeed as an historic achievement, and trusts that it will open the way for the accordance of a similar recognition to other local Bahá'í Assemblies throughout the States.... The marriage certificate, copies of which in Arabic and Persian are published in the Bahá'í World,* and which bears the signatures of both parties and of their parents, should be translated and adopted by the American friends. This is indeed a tremendous step forward in the ultimate adoption and enforcement of the laws of Bahá'u'lláh in the West.

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Dec. 1939, BN #133, p. 2

In the world community the Plan involves: ... Wide extension of recognition by civil authorities of Bahá'í marriage certificates....

Universal House of Justice, Wellspring of Guidance, pp. 24-25
_____________________
* Bahá'í World, Vol. X, pp. 381-383, Persian, Egyptian, and Iraqi marriage certificates. Bahá'í World, Vol. XI, p. 306, marriage certificate of India. Bahá'í World, Vol. X, pp. 384-385, Bahá'í divorce certificates used by National Spiritual Assemblies of Persia, Egypt and Sudan.


DIVORCE

They must strictly refrain from divorce unless something ariseth which compelleth them to separate because of their aversion for each other, in that case with the knowledge of the Spiritual Assembly they may decide to separate. They must then be patient and wait one complete year. If during this year, harmony is not re-established between them, then their divorce may be realised....
    In short, the foundation of the Kingdom of God is based upon harmony and love, oneness, relationship and union, not upon differences, especially between husband and wife. If one of these two becomes the cause of divorce, that one will unquestionably fall into great difficulties, will become the victim of formidable calamities and experience deep remorse.

'Abdu'l-Bahá, LOG, p. 393

... the one-year separation between husband and wife as an indispensible condition of divorce....

Shoghi Effendi, GPB, p. 373

The local Assembly, as the Guardian has stated, can act as a board of arbitration if the couple disagrees about the terms and conditions of divorce, and when it so acts the couple are to abide by its decision.

NSA of the US, Annual Reports, 1955-56, p. 27


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