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<< LESSON V || SIX LESSONS ON BAHÁ'Í LAW || PURPOSE ||
OBEDIENCE TO GOVERNMENT
In every country where any of this people reside, they must behave towards the government of that country with loyalty, honesty and truthfulness.
Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 22-23
O people: Spread not disorder in the land, and shed not the blood of any one, and consume not the substance of others wrongfully, neither follow every accursed prattler.
Bahá'u'lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 25
We must obey and be the well-wishers of the governments of the land, regard disloyalty to a just king as disloyalty to God Himself and wishing evil to the government a transgression of the Cause of God.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, Will and Testament, p. 8
Fighting, and the employment of force, even for the right cause, will not bring good results. The oppressed who have right on their side must not take that right by force; the evil would continue. Hearts must be changed.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, 'Abdu'l-Bahá in London, p. 93
As regards the Bahá'í principle of obedience to just governments, what is meant here by just is recognized and well-established authority.
Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, National Bahá'í Review #7, p. 2
What the Master's statement really means is obedience to a duly constituted government, whatever that government may be in form. We are not the ones, as individual Bahá'ís to judge our government as just or unjust for each believer would be sure to hold a different viewpoint, and within our own Bahá'í fold a hotbed of dissension would spring up and destroy our unity. We must build up our Bahá'í system, and leave the faulty systems of the world to go their way. We cannot change them through our becoming involved in them; on the contrary, they will destroy us.
Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 350
The cardinal principle which we must follow is obedience to the Government prevailing in any land in which we reside....
Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Wellspring of Guidance, p. 135 (Also LOG, p. 446)
The situation, as it stands at present, is highly disconcerting. The friends, however, faithful to the injunctions of the Master regarding obedience to government in all administrative matters as distinguished from those affecting their conscience and loyalty to the Cause strictly adhere to the laws and orders of the government. Their sole hope is the assurance that in due time all these restrictions are bound to disappear
Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Dawn of a New Day, p. 52
We Bahá'ís are indeed most blessed in that we know that, however dark the days immediately ahead of the human race, the future is blessed and glorious. It is for this future that the believers must labour day and night, heedless of the state of the world and the dangers threatening.
Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, DND, p. 97-98
With reference to the absolute pacifists, or conscientious objectors to wart their attitude, judged from the Bahá'í standpoint, is quite anti-social and due to its exaltation of the individual conscience leads inevitably to disorder and chaos in society. Extreme pacifists are thus very close to the anarchists, in the sense that both of these groups lay an undue emphasis on the rights and merits of the individual. The Bahá'í conception of social life is essentially based on the subordination of the individual will to that of society. It neither suppresses the individual nor does it exalt him to the point of making him an anti-social creature, a menace to society. As in everything, it follows the "golden mean." The only way that society can function is for the minority to follow the will of the majority.
Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Unfolding Destiny, pp. 436-437
But while this principle of equality of man and woman is true, it is likewise true that woman must prove her capacity and aptitude, must show forth the evidences of equality. She must become proficient in the arts and sciences and prove by her accomplishments that her abilities and powers have merely been latent. Demonstrations of force such as are now  taking place in England are neither becoming nor effective in the cause of womanhood and equality. Woman must especially devote her energies and abilities toward the industrial and agricultural sciences, seeking to assist mankind in that which is most needful. By this means she will demonstrate capability and insure recognition of equality in the social and economic equation.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 283
Regarding the solution of the racial problem ... while the friends should faithfully and courageously uphold this Bahá'í principle of the essential unity of all human races, yet in the methods they adopt for its application and further realization on the social plane they should act with tact, wisdom and moderation. These two attitudes are by no means exclusive. Bahá'ís do not believe that the spread of the Cause and its principles and teachings can be effected by means of radical and violent methods. While they are loyal to all those teachings, yet they believe in the necessity of resorting to peaceful and friendly means for the realization of their aims.
Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, LOG, p. 534
Regarding the whole manner of teaching the Faith in the South: The Guardian feels that, although the greatest consideration should be shown the feelings of white people in the South whom we are teaching, under no circumstances should we discriminate in their favor, consider them more valuable to the Cause than their Negro fellow-southerners, or single them out to be taught the Message first. To pursue such a policy, however necessary and even desirable it may superficially seem, would be to compromise the true spirit of our Faith, which permits us to make no such distinctions in offering its tenets to the world.
Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Directives of the Guardian, p. 77
From Bahá'í News #266, April, 1953:
What a joy it is to report this headline from the Greenville News, Greenville, S.C.: "No Effort Will Be Made to Stop Bahá'í Meetings," "Inter-Racial Sessions Not Contrary to City Law."
BN #266, p. 8
LEGAL STANDING: INCORPORATION
It is surely very important to give to the Local Spiritual Assemblies some legal standing, for as the Cause progresses and its adherents increase, they will be confronted with duties they cannot even imagine at present. Not only will they have to make contracts for acquiring halls for their meeting place, but also they will be obliged to create new institutions to care for their sick, poor and aged people....
Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Principles of Bahá'í Administration, p. 48
He feels that during the coming year every effort should be made by Assemblies that have a well-grounded, if small, community, to incorporate.
Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, BN #307, pp. 1-2
The purpose of the By-Laws is to clarify and strengthen the administrative legal functions of a Bahá'í community.
Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, LOG, p. 64
HOUSE OF JUSTICE (BAYTU'L-'ADL)
The signature of that meeting should be the Spiritual Gathering (House of Spirituality) and the wisdom therein is that hereafter the government should not infer from the term "House of Justice" that a court is signified, that it is connected with political affairs, or that at any time it will interfere with governmental affairs.
'Abdu'l-Bahá (circa 1903), Bahá'í World Faith, p. 406
For reasons which are not difficult to discover, it has been found advisable to bestow upon the elected representatives of Bahá'í communities throughout the world the temporary appellation of Spiritual Assemblies, a term which, as the position and aims of the Bahá'í Faith are better understood and more fully recognized, will gradually be superseded by the permanent and more appropriate designation of House of Justice. Not only will the present-day Spiritual Assemblies be styled differently in the future, but they will be enabled also to add to their present functions those powers, duties, and prerogatives necessitated by the recognition of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh not merely as one of the recognized religious systems of the world, but as the State Religion of an independent and Sovereign Power.
Shoghi Effendi, 1929, World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 6-7
DEFINITION OF SPIRITUAL IN LEGAL TERMINOLOGY
Spiritual courts. In English law. The ecclesiastical courts, or courts Christian.
Black's Law Dictionary
USE OF SPIRITUAL COURT IN LAW LITERATURE
On the twelfth day of 1965 a New York Times headline made it official that courts spiritual are also burdened by an affliction well known to courts temporal. It said:
Pope Paul Exhorts Matrimonial Courts to Reduce Delay
The dispatch reported that the Pontiff, in opening the judicial year of the Sacred Roman Rota, warned that "culpable delay" in the tribunals dispensing of justice is "in itself an act of injustice." The court members, he urged, must strive to avoid delays in handling matrimonial cases.
Maurice Rosenberg, The Courts, The Public and The Law Explosion, Court Congestion, p. 30*
SETTLEMENT OF DISPUTES
The art and science of dispute determination, while an ancient one, persists as an emergent problem in contemporary society.... The fact is that all means of dispute determination are in process of evolution and development. All are sorely needed. The most striking progress, however, has unquestionably been made in arbitration. This progress is largely due to the fact that it promises speed and low costs.
Associate Justice Charles D. Breitel, An Outline of Arbitration Procedure, pp. 3, 5
MEDIATION AND CONCILIATION
In the mediation of labour disputes, the (Conciliation) Service exercises no powers or authority over the decisions of the parties. The negotiations for settlement of the issues are conducted entirely on a voluntary basis.
Thomas J. Nicolopulos, Supervisor, California State Conciliation Service
... He wrote Epistles to all the kings and rulers of nations, summoning them to arbitration ...
'Abdu'l-Bahá, PUP, p. 27
... in the Book of Aqdas, Bahá'u'lláh commanded people to establish universal peace and summoned all the nations to the divine banquet of international arbitration, so that the questions of boundaries, of national honour and property and of vital interests between nations might be decided by an arbitral court of justice.... If any quarrel arise between two nations it must be adjudicated by this international court and be arbitrated and decided upon like the judgment rendered by the judge between two individuals.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, cited in Bahá'u'lláh and the New Era, p. 168
Bahá'u'lláh declared the Most Great Peace and international arbitration.... He wrote ... that the happiness and glory of humanity can be assured only through disarmament and arbitration.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, PUP, p. 120
The most momentous question of this day is international peace and arbitration....
'Abdu'l-Bahá, PUP, p. 134
Universal peace will be established among the nations of the world by international agreement.... An arbitral court of justice shall be established by which international disputes are to be settled.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, PUP, p. 317
All disputes of an international character shall be submitted to this Court, its work being to arrange by arbitration everything which otherwise would be a cause of war.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 155
The tenth ray [of light] is the organization of the arbitral court of justice, or parliament of man before the members of which all the international intergovernmental problems are arbitrated.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, Star of the West, Vol. 13, p. 260
Should differences arise they shall be amicably and conclusively settled by the Supreme Tribunal, that shall include members from all the governments and peoples of the world.
'Abdu'1-Baha, Will and Testament, p. 13
It is necessary that the nations and governments organize an international tribunal to which all their disputes and differences shall be referred. The decision of that tribunal shall be final. Individual controversy will be adjudged by a local tribunal.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, PUP, p. 301
If a number of imaginary or real difficulties have arisen between Austria and Serbia, if they are really disinterested and are anxious to keep the balance of the Powers and not disturb the peace of Europe, why do they not go before the Court of Arbitration? The impartial members of that Court of Arbitral Justice will look into the nature of the claims of each party, and after mature investigation decide which one is in the right. Were they ready to refer all their differences to such a Court, this war would have been obviated. The Universal Court of Arbitration is the only body that shall resolve all the disagreements and contentions that arise between the nations of the world before which all their quarrels may be arbitrated.
'Abdu'1-Baha, SW, Vol. V, p. 165
Touching the point raised in the secretary's letter regarding the nature and scope of the Universal Court of Arbitration, this and other similar matters will have to be explained and elucidated by the Universal House of Justice....
Shoghi Effendi, Bahá'í Administration, p. 47
He was furthermore highly elated to learn that the prestige, the integrity and ability of the local Bahá'í Assemblies in that province (Isfáhán) had of late stood so high that non-Bahá'ís, exasperated by the corruption and incompetence of their own judges, had more than once freely submitted cases of dispute to the judgment of the elected representatives of the Bahá'í community in their locality.
Shoghi Effendi, 1929, BA, p. 172
Among the powers and duties with which the Universal House of Justice has been invested are:.... To adjudicate disputes falling within its purview; ... to provide for the arbitration and settlement of disputes arising between peoples....
Universal House of Justice, Constitution, pp. 5-6
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 US, Annual Reports, 1955 56, p. 27
In a land which has for years so savagely persecuted the Faith, a man who for forty years has been known throughout Persia as a Mírzá, has been made the sole arbitrator in a case of dispute which involves, on the one hand, the Zillu-i-Sultan, the tyrannical son of the Shah and a sworn enemy of the Cause, and, on the other, Mírzá Fath-'Ali Khan, the Sahib-i-Divan. It has been publicly announced that whatsoever be the verdict of this Mírzá, the same should be unreservedly accepted by both parties and should be unhesitatingly enforced.
Nabíl-i-A'zam, Dawn-Breakers, p. 155
Quotations from Alexander Lindey, Separation Agreements:*
Arbitration is the adjudication of a controversy by an impartial person, or by a board of impartial persons, whose decision is called an award and is final and binding. Unlike a dispute taken to court, arbitration is entered into voluntarily; the parties themselves define the issue, select the arbitrator or arbitrators, and prescribe the rules to be followed. Almost any dispute that can be litigated can be settled by arbitration if the two sides so desire. (29-9)
Under New York law, an award will be vacated by the court only (a) where it was procured by corruption, fraud or other improper means; or (b) where there was evident partiality on the part of the arbitrators; or (c) where they were guilty of misconduct prejudicial to a party, such as refusing to postpone the hearing upon sufficient cause shown, or refusing to hear evidence material to the controversy; or (d) where they exceeded their powers or failed to render a final and definite award; or (e) where there was no valid submission or contract. (29-18)
<< LESSON V || SIX LESSONS ON BAHÁ'Í LAW || PURPOSE ||