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Notes:
See also excerpts from Chapter 5 and Chapter 8 of the same book.

The Universal House of Justice: Significance, Origin, Authority, and Election

by Shahin Vafai

published in The Essence of the Covenant: Features, History, and Implications
Palabra Publications, 2005

(Excerpt from Chapter 6)

Contents:

ENDNOTES

A. The Significance of the Universal House of Justice

“Through His Covenant, Bahá'u'lláh has provided an unfailing source of divine guidance that will endure throughout the Dispensation.”2 Such divine guidance was transmitted first through 'Abdu'l-Bahá, then through the Guardian, and since 1963, through the Universal House of Justice - a council brought into being through the “free and democratic election by the mass of the faithful.”3 That God's Manifestation has ensured the continuity of divine guidance through an elected council is one of the most striking and inspiring features of Bahá'u'lláh's Covenant, a feature finding no parallel in the world's recorded religious history.

Also wondrous is the vision, set forth in the Bahá'í Writings, of the significance and purpose of the Universal House of Justice. Bahá'u'lláh wrote: “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 for the training of peoples, the upbuilding of nations, the protection of man and the safeguarding of his honour.”4 'Abdu'l-Bahá further declared that “God hath ordained” the Universal House of Justice as “the source of all good.”5 Shoghi Effendi alluded to the glories of the day when the Universal House of Justice would be established:

. . . God's Supreme House of Justice shall be erected and firmly established in the days to come. When this most great edifice shall be reared on such an immovable foundation, God's purpose, wisdom, universal truths, mysteries and realities of the Kingdom, which the mystic Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh has deposited within the Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, shall gradually be revealed and made manifest.6

Shoghi Effendi further explained that the Universal House of Justice - the “supreme legislative body of the future Bahá'í Commonwealth”7 - is “to be the exponent and guardian of that Divine Justice which can alone insure the security of, and establish the reign of law and order in, a strangely disordered world.”8 It is an institution that “posterity will regard as the last refuge of a tottering civilization.”9

B. The Scriptural Origin of the Universal House of Justice

The Universal House of Justice finds its scriptural origin in Bahá'u'lláh's Kitáb-i-Aqdas and in His subsequent Tablets. In the Most Holy Book, Bahá'u'lláh formally ordained the institution of the “House of Justice,”10 defined its functions, fixed its revenues, and designated its members as the “Men of Justice,” the “Deputies of God,” and the “Trustees of the All-Merciful.”11 In Tablets revealed after the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, Bahá'u'lláh made the following statements regarding the House of Justice:

It is incumbent upon the Trustees of the House of Justice to take counsel together regarding those things which have not outwardly been revealed in the Book, and to enforce that which is agreeable to them.12
This passage, now written by the Pen of Glory, is accounted as part of the Most Holy Book: The men of God's House of Justice have been charged with the affairs of the people. They, in truth, are the Trustees of God among His servants and the daysprings of authority in His countries.
. . . Inasmuch as for each day there is a new problem and for every problem an expedient solution, such affairs should be referred to the House of Justice that the members thereof may act according to the needs and requirements of the time.13

'Abdu'l-Bahá expounded upon Bahá'u'lláh's establishment of the Universal House of Justice: “He [Bahá'u'lláh] has ordained and established the House of Justice, which is endowed with a political as well as a religious function, the consummate union and blending of church and state. . . . Its rulings shall be in accordance with the commands and teachings of Bahá'u'lláh, and that which the Universal House of Justice ordains shall be obeyed by all mankind. This international House of Justice shall be appointed and organized from the Houses of Justice of the whole world . . . .”14 'Abdu'l-Bahá explained that the “Universal House of Justice, likewise, wardeth off all differences and whatever it prescribeth must be accepted and he who transgresseth is rejected.”15 During His lifetime, He indicated that “this Universal House of Justice” had “not yet been instituted,”16 but referred to its future establishment: “After 'Abdu'l-Bahá, whenever the Universal House of Justice is organized it will ward off differences.”17 Likewise, Shoghi Effendi referred to the future establishment of the Universal House of Justice.18

C. The Authority of the Universal House of Justice to Legislate and Elucidate

Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá defined the authority of the Universal House of Justice. The House of Justice has been invested with the authority to legislate on those matters not explicitly and outwardly recorded in Bahá'u'lláh's Writings: “Unto the Most Holy Book every one must turn, and all that is not expressly recorded therein must be referred to the Universal House of Justice.”19 For example, the Kitáb-i-Aqdas prohibits theft, but does not specify the degrees of penalties for the offense. When asked about this matter, Bahá'u'lláh responded that the “determination of the degrees of these penalties rests with the House of Justice.”20 Thus, the House of Justice has been “invested by Bahá'u'lláh with the authority to legislate whatsoever has not been explicitly and outwardly recorded in His holy Writ.”21

'Abdu'l-Bahá commented upon the wisdom of the legislative authority of the Universal House of Justice:

Those matters of major importance which constitute the foundation of the Law of God are explicitly recorded in the Text, but subsidiary laws are left to the House of Justice. The wisdom of this is that the times never remain the same, for change is a necessary quality and an essential attribute of this world, and of time and place. Therefore the House of Justice will take action accordingly.22

The Universal House of Justice “can supplement but never invalidate or modify in the least degree what has already been formulated by Bahá'u'lláh.”23 It can, however, alter its own laws: It has “the right and power to abrogate, according to the changes and requirements of the time, whatever has been already enacted and enforced by a preceding House of Justice.”24 In this connection, 'Abdu'l-Bahá wrote:

Inasmuch as the House of Justice hath power to enact laws that are not expressly recorded in the Book and bear upon daily transactions, so also it hath power to repeal the same. Thus for example, the House of Justice enacteth today a certain law and enforceth it, and a hundred years hence, circumstances having profoundly changed and the conditions having altered, another House of Justice will then have power, according to the exigencies of the time, to alter that law. This it can do because these laws form no part of the divine explicit Text. The House of Justice is both the initiator and the abrogator of its own laws.25

In discussing the principle that the Universal House of Justice may not alter Bahá'u'lláh's revealed Word, but may legislate only on matters not in the Book, Shoghi Effendi asserted: “Such is the immutability of His revealed Word. Such is the elasticity which characterizes the functions of His appointed ministers. The first preserves the identity of His Faith, and guards the integrity of His law. The second enables it, even as a living organism, to expand and adapt itself to the needs and requirements of an ever-changing society.”26

As explained by 'Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi, the Universal House of Justice also has the power of elucidation, which is related to legislation. 'Abdu'l-Bahá's Will and Testament declared: “It is incumbent upon these members (of the Universal House of Justice) to . . . deliberate upon all problems which have caused difference, questions that are obscure and matters that are not expressly recorded in the Book.”27 Shoghi Effendi, in response to a question about “the nature and scope of the Universal Court of Arbitration,” made clear that “this and other similar matters will have to be explained and elucidated by the Universal House of Justice, to which, according to the Master's explicit instructions, all important and fundamental questions must be referred.”28 The Universal House of Justice “makes deductions on the basis of the revealed Texts and their authorized interpretations.”29 Although it may elucidate, the House of Justice “will not engage in interpreting the Holy Writings.”30

What is the difference between the function of interpretation carried out by the Guardian and that of elucidation exercised by the Universal House of Justice? The House of Justice has explained that there is a “profound difference” between the two functions.31 The “interpretations of the Guardian represent the true intent inherent in the Sacred Texts.”32 “The divinely inspired legislation of the Universal House of Justice does not attempt to say what the revealed Word means - it states what must be done in cases where the revealed Text or its authoritative interpretation is not explicit.”33 “The major distinction between the two functions is that legislation with its resultant outcome of elucidation is susceptible of amendment by the House of Justice itself, whereas the Guardian's interpretation is a statement of truth which cannot be varied.”34

D. Other Rights, Duties, and Responsibilities of the Universal House of Justice

“While ultimately the major function of the Universal House of Justice will be that of legislation, it has continuing responsibility for executive and judicial functions of the institution.”35 The Universal House of Justice has “the responsibility for the application of the revealed word, the protection of the Faith, as well as the duty 'to insure the continuity of that divinely-appointed authority which flows from the Source of our Faith, to safeguard the unity of its followers, and to maintain the integrity and flexibility of its Teachings.'”36 The House of Justice has the authority to “administer” the Faith's “affairs, coordinate its activities, promote its interests, execute its laws and defend its subsidiary institutions.”37 Additionally, it has the prerogative to “apply the principles, promulgate the laws, protect the institutions, adapt loyally and intelligently the Faith to the requirements of progressive society, and consummate the incorruptible inheritance which the Founders of the Faith have bequeathed to the world.”38

In outlining the responsibilities of the Universal House of Justice, 'Abdu'l-Bahá's Will and Testament provided: “Unto this body all things must be referred. . . . By this body all the difficult problems are to be resolved . . . .”39 As noted above, the members of the Universal House of Justice are to “deliberate upon all problems which have caused difference,”40 so the House of Justice has the responsibility for “settling differences.”41 When there exist differences of opinion on “fundamental questions,” such matters should be referred to the House of Justice.42 In “the process of translating the Teachings into practice, the final arbiter is, by the explicit authority of the Revealed Text, the Universal House of Justice.”43

Other responsibilities of the Universal House of Justice include “administering the worldwide affairs of the Cause and directing the course of the implementation of the Divine Plan.”44 Shoghi Effendi indicated that the House of Justice would “launch enterprises embracing” the “whole Bahá'í world.”45 He wrote that it would “devise and carry out important undertakings, world-wide activities and the establishment of glorious institutions.”46 Further, he explained that the House of Justice would “guide, organize and unify the affairs of the Movement throughout the world”47 and would outline the steps “necessary to establish the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh on this earth.”48 The Guardian thus called upon believers to look to “the guidance of God's Universal House of Justice, to obtain a clearer and fuller understanding” of the “provisions and implications” of Bahá'u'lláh's new World Order.49

Finally, in relation to the Universal House of Justice, the Guardian foresaw that “as the Bahá'í Faith permeates the masses of the peoples of East and West, and its truth is embraced by the majority of the peoples of a number of the Sovereign States of the world,” the Universal House of Justice will “attain the plenitude of its power, and exercise, as the supreme organ of the Bahá'í Commonwealth, all the rights, the duties, and responsibilities incumbent upon the world's future super-state.”50

E. The Election of the Universal House of Justice

In addition to establishing the Universal House of Justice and defining its authority, the Bahá'í Writings also set out the method for its election. In His Will and Testament, 'Abdu'l-Bahá stated that the House of Justice “must be elected by universal suffrage, that is, by the believers. . . . By this House is meant the Universal House of Justice, that is, in all countries a secondary House of Justice must be instituted, and these secondary Houses of Justice must elect the members of the Universal one.”51

The following elaboration upon this electoral process appears in one of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's Tablets:

At whatever time all the beloved of God in each country appoint their delegates, and these in turn elect their representatives, and these representatives elect a body, that body shall be regarded as the Supreme House of Justice.
The establishment of that House is not dependent upon the conversion of all the nations of the world. For example, if conditions were favorable and no disturbances would be caused, the friends in Persia would elect their representatives, and likewise the friends in America, in India, and other areas would also elect their representatives, and these would elect a House of Justice. That House of Justice would be the Supreme House of Justice. That is all.52

In interpreting the first sentence of the above-quoted passage, Shoghi Effendi explained: “These words clearly indicate that a three-stage election has been provided by 'Abdu'l-Bahá for the formation of the International House of Justice, and as it is explicitly provided in His Will and Testament that the 'Secondary House of Justice (i.e., National Assemblies) must elect the members of the Universal One,' it is obvious that the members of the National Spiritual Assemblies will have to be indirectly elected by the body of the believers in their respective provinces.”53 In summary, in this “three-stage” election, first, the believers elect their delegates; second, the delegates elect the members of the National Spiritual Assemblies; and third, the members of the National Spiritual Assemblies elect the Universal House of Justice. Accordingly, at “whatever time” such a three-stage election takes place, the body elected “shall be regarded as the Supreme House of Justice.”54

'Abdu'l-Bahá “contemplated the possibility of the formation of the Universal House of Justice in His own lifetime, and but for the unfavorable circumstances prevailing under the Turkish régime, would have, in all probability, taken the preliminary steps for its establishment.”55 In “the darkest moments” of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's life, when the enemies of the Faith were threatening to deport Him “to the most inhospitable regions of Northern Africa,”56 and when His life was in danger, 'Abdu'l-Bahá communicated with Hájí Mírzá Taqí Afnán, the cousin of the Báb, and directed him to “arrange for the election of the Universal House of Justice should the threats against the Master materialize.”57 The threats against 'Abdu'l-Bahá were not carried out, so the election of the Universal House of Justice did not take place at that time.

Shortly after assuming the office of the Guardian of the Faith, Shoghi Effendi considered the possibility of calling for the election of the Universal House of Justice, but decided against it so that an adequate administrative foundation could first be developed at the local and national levels of the Bahá'í community.58 In 1923, Shoghi Effendi wrote: “With these Assemblies, local as well as national, harmoniously, vigorously, and efficiently functioning throughout the Bahá'í world, the only means for the establishment of the Supreme House of Justice will have been secured.”59 Eighteen years later, he explained: “At this time when the National Assemblies in the Cause are not yet functioning sufficiently or fully representative of all the various important elements within it, and when some of the Bahá'ís are not even free to practice their faith, despite their numbers, it is quite impracticable to seek to establish the Universal House of Justice. Whenever conditions permit, it will be established.”60 He further stated that “that which is very important now is the consolidation of the Spiritual Assemblies in every centre, because on these fortified and unshakeable foundations, God's Supreme House of Justice shall be erected and firmly established in the days to come.”61

During his thirty-six year ministry, Shoghi Effendi encouraged Bahá'í communities to raise up and consolidate Spiritual Assemblies - local and national. In 1921, when Shoghi Effendi assumed the mantle of the Guardianship, there were no National Spiritual Assemblies in existence.62 By 1957, there were twenty-six.63 Following Shoghi Effendi's passing, through the execution of the Ten Year Crusade under the leadership of the Hands of the Cause, the process of developing Spiritual Assemblies continued. By 1963, the number of National Spiritual Assemblies in the world had increased to fifty-six.64 Also by that year, hundreds of Local Spiritual Assemblies had been brought into being, and believers resided in over eleven thousand localities around the world.65 Moreover, building on what the Guardian had established, the Hands of the Cause took steps internationally to prepare for the formation of the Universal House of Justice.66 A strong foundation was thus laid for the election of the Universal House of Justice.

There were other reasons that made the election of the Universal House of Justice not only timely, but necessary, by 1963. As the Universal House of Justice itself has explained:

At the time of our beloved Shoghi Effendi's death it was evident, from the circumstances and from the explicit requirements of the Holy Texts, that it had been impossible for him to appoint a successor in accordance with the provisions of the Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá. This situation, in which the Guardian died without being able to appoint a successor, presented an obscure question not covered by the explicit Holy Text, and had to be referred to the Universal House of Justice.67

Before the Universal House of Justice was formed and had the opportunity to consider the question, it was not known whether the House of Justice could appoint or legislate to make it possible to appoint a second Guardian to succeed Shoghi Effendi:

The friends should clearly understand that before the election of the Universal House of Justice there was no knowledge that there would be no Guardian. There could not have been any such foreknowledge, whatever opinions individual believers may have held. Neither the Hands of the Cause of God, nor the International Bahá'í Council, nor any other existing body could make a decision upon this all-important matter. Only the House of Justice had authority to pronounce upon it. This was one urgent reason for calling the election of the Universal House of Justice as soon as possible.68

Following the passing of Shoghi Effendi, the Hands of the Cause carried out the international administration of the Faith. However, they were aware that “since they had no certainty of divine guidance such as is incontrovertibly assured to the Guardian and to the Universal House of Justice, their one safe course was to follow with undeviating firmness the instructions and policies of Shoghi Effendi.”69 The Guardian had given believers detailed plans covering the period through Ridván 1963. “From that point onward, unless the Faith were to be endangered, further divine guidance was essential.”70 This was another “pressing reason” in calling for the election of the Universal House of Justice. As such, the Hands of the Cause invited National Spiritual Assemblies to elect the Universal House of Justice on April 21, 1963. On that date, the election of the House of Justice was carried out in accordance with the instructions and procedures set forth by 'Abdu'l-Bahá.71

There was nothing in the Bahá'í Writings mandating that the election of the Universal House of Justice only be called by the Guardian. As discussed above, 'Abdu'l-Bahá had many years earlier contemplated the formation of the Universal House of Justice when He had asked the cousin of the Báb to arrange for its election should the threats against 'Abdu'l-Bahá materialize. Furthermore, 'Abdu'l-Bahá had declared: “At whatever time all the beloved of God in each country appoint their delegates, and these in turn elect their representatives, and these representatives elect a body, that body shall be regarded as the Supreme House of Justice.”72 This is precisely what occurred in 1963. Elected in a three-stage election by Bahá'ís throughout the world, God's House of Justice came into being and assumed its seat on Mt. Carmel in Haifa, Israel. Since the inaugural election of the Universal House of Justice in 1963, and its subsequent elections every five years since then,73 believers have begun to witness the fulfillment of Shoghi Effendi's promises regarding this sacred institution:

. . . the mighty edifice, the Universal House of Justice, will be erected, raising high its noble frame above the world of existence. The unity of the followers of Bahá'u'lláh will thus be realized and fulfilled from one end of the earth to the other. The explicit ordinances of His Most Holy Book will be promulgated, applied and carried out most befittingly in the world of creation, and the living waters of everlasting life will stream forth from that fountain-head of God's World Order upon all the warring nations and peoples of the world, to wash away the evils and iniquities of the realm of dust, heal man's age-old ills and ailments.74

ENDNOTES:

1. Shahin Vafai, The Essence of the Covenant: Features, History, and Implications (Palabra Publications 2005) (www.palabrapublications.com).

2. On behalf of the Universal House of Justice, Issues Related to the Study of the Bahá'í Faith, # 6.

3. Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 326; see Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 154 (“. . . the specific provisions requiring its democratic election by the representatives of the faithful . . . .).

4. Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 125.

5. Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 14.

6. Shoghi Effendi, The Compilation of Compilations, vol. I, p. 328.

7. Shoghi Effendi, Messages to the Bahá'í World, p. 149.

8. Shoghi Effendi, The Advent of Divine Justice, p. 22.

9. Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 89.

10. The terms “House of Justice,” “Supreme House of Justice,” and “International House of Justice” are, at times, used in the Bahá'í Writings to refer to the Universal House of Justice.

11. Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 214.

12. Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 68.

13. Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 128-29.

14. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 455.

15. Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 215.

16. Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 215.

17. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Covenant, # 13.

18. Shoghi Effendi, The Compilation of Compilations, vol. I, p. 329.

19. Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 19; see 'Abdu'l-Bahá, quoted in the Universal House of Justice, Messages from the Universal House of Justice: 1963-1986, pp. 52-53 (“The Most Holy Book is the Book to which all peoples shall refer, and in it the Laws of God have been revealed. Laws not mentioned in the Book should be referred to the decision of the Universal House of Justice.”).

20. Bahá'u'lláh, The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, Q&A 49; see id., Q&A 50 (“QUESTION: Concerning the legitimacy or otherwise of marrying one's relatives. ANSWER: These matters likewise rest with the Trustees of the House of Justice.”).

21. Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 23; Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, pp. 218-19 (“To the trustees of the House of Justice He assigns the duty of legislating on matters not expressly provided in His writings, and promises that God will 'inspire them with whatsoever He willeth.'”); see Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 27 (“All matters of State should be referred to the House of Justice, but acts of worship must be observed according to that which God hath revealed in His Book.”); e.g., the Universal House of Justice, to an individual believer, February 21, 1964 (“We greatly admire your deep feelings of love and devotion for the beloved Guardian, and we are grateful for your suggestion of a befitting passage for the salutation and praise of Shoghi Effendi. [¶] However, since 'acts of worship must be observed according to that which God hath revealed in His Book', the Universal House of Justice does not feel it proper to prescribe any particular portion of the Writings which could be used by the friends for this purpose. We must therefore leave it to the individual believer to select for himself from time to time those passages which best express his feelings of love, respect and gratitude for the labours of the beloved Guardian.”).

22. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, quoted in the Universal House of Justice, Messages from the Universal House of Justice: 1963-1986, p. 85; cf. on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, Messages from the Universal House of Justice: 1963-1986, p. 518 (“[T]he attitude to legislation is different in the Bahá'í Faith. The human tendency in past Dispensations has been to want every question answered and to arrive at a binding decision affecting every small detail of belief or practice. The tendency in the Bahá'í Dispensation, from the time of Bahá'u'lláh Himself, has been to clarify the governing principles, to make binding pronouncements on details which are considered essential, but to leave a wide area to the conscience of the individual.”).

23. On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 342.

24. Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 23.

25. Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 20.

26. Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 23.

27. Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 20; e.g., the Universal House of Justice, to all National Spiritual Assemblies, April 4, 2001 (“The International Teaching Centre has sought elucidation of issues concerning the attitude of Bahá'ís and Bahá'í institutions towards those who have withdrawn from the Faith. In response, we have provided the following comments . . . .”).

28. Shoghi Effendi, Bahá'í Administration, p. 47.

29. On behalf of the Universal House of Justice, to an individual believer, August 27, 1998.

30. On behalf of the Universal House of Justice, Messages from the Universal House of Justice: 1963-1986, p. 646.

31. The Universal House of Justice, Messages from the Universal House of Justice: 1963-1986, p. 56.

32. On behalf of the Universal House of Justice, Messages from the Universal House of Justice: 1963-1986, p. 646.

33. On behalf of the Universal House of Justice, Messages from the Universal House of Justice: 1963-1986, p. 518.

34. On behalf of the Universal House of Justice, Messages from the Universal House of Justice: 1963-1986, p. 646.

35. On behalf of the Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, pp. 319-20.

36. On behalf of the Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 312 (quoting Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 148).

37. Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 148.

38. Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 20; see id., p. 145 (“. . . the body designed to . . . apply His legislative ordinances.”).

39. Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 14.

40. Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 20.

41. On behalf of the Universal House of Justice, Issues Related to the Study of the Bahá'í Faith, # 7.

42. See on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, Issues Related to the Study of the Bahá'í Faith, # 8.

43. On behalf of the Universal House of Justice, Issues Related to the Study of the Bahá'í Faith, # 7.

44. On behalf of the Universal House of Justice, Issues Related to the Study of the Bahá'í Faith, # 7.

45. See Shoghi Effendi, Citadel of Faith, p. 90.

46. Shoghi Effendi, The Compilation of Compilations, vol. I, p. 329.

47. Shoghi Effendi, Bahá'í Administration, p. 39.

48. On behalf of the Universal House of Justice, Messages from the Universal House of Justice: 1963-1986, p. 646.

49. Shoghi Effendi, Bahá'í Administration, p. 62; see Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 89 (“It is incumbent upon the ministers of the House of Justice to promote the Lesser Peace so that the people of the earth may be relieved from the burden of exorbitant expenditures.”).

50. Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 7.

51. Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 14.

52. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, quoted in the Universal House of Justice, Messages from the Universal House of Justice: 1963-1986, p. 53.

53. Shoghi Effendi, Bahá'í Administration, p. 84; see Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 7 (“For upon the National Houses of Justice of the East and the West devolves the task, in conformity with the explicit provisions of the Will, of electing directly the members of the International House of Justice.”); see also Shoghi Effendi, Bahá'í Administration, pp. 84-85 (“Should the appointing of the delegates be made a part of the functions of local Spiritual Assemblies, who are already elected bodies, the principle of a four-stage election would be introduced which would be at variance with the provisions explicitly laid down in the Master's Tablet. On the other hand, were the local Spiritual Assemblies, the number of whose members is strictly confined to nine, to elect directly the members of the National Spiritual Assembly - thus maintaining the principle of a three-stage election - all Bahá'í localities, which must necessarily differ in numerical strength, would then have to share equally in the election of the National Spiritual Assembly - a practice which would be contrary to fairness and justice.”).

54. See 'Abdu'l-Bahá, quoted in the Universal House of Justice, Messages from the Universal House of Justice: 1963-1986, p. 53.

55. Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 7.

56. Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 17.

57. The Universal House of Justice, Messages from the Universal House of Justice: 1963-1986, p. 53.

58. See Rúhíyyih Rabbaní, The Priceless Pearl, pp. 247-48; Adib Taherzadeh, The Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 292-93.

59. Shoghi Effendi, Bahá'í Administration, p. 41.

60. On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Messages of Shoghi Effendi to the Indian Subcontinent: 1923-1957, p. 210; see Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 7.

61. Shoghi Effendi, The Compilation of Compilations, vol. I, p. 328; see Shoghi Effendi, Citadel of Faith, p. 6 (“During this Formative Age of the Faith, and in the course of present and succeeding epochs, the last and crowning stage in the erection of the framework of the Administrative Order of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh - the election of the Universal House of Justice - will have been completed . . . .”); Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 48 (“Ours, dearly-beloved co-workers, is the paramount duty to continue, with undimmed vision and unabated zeal, to assist in the final erection of that Edifice the foundations of which Bahá'u'lláh has laid in our hearts, to derive added hope and strength from the general trend of recent events, however dark their immediate effects, and to pray with unremitting fervor that He may hasten the approach of the realization of that Wondrous Vision which constitutes the brightest emanation of His Mind and the fairest fruit of the fairest civilization the world has yet seen. [¶] Might not the hundredth anniversary of the Declaration of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh mark the inauguration of so vast an era in human history?”); see also Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, pp. 330, 332-33 (“Conscious of the necessity of constructing, as a first step, a broad and solid base upon which the pillars of that mighty structure could subsequently be raised; fully aware that upon these pillars, when firmly established, the dome, the final unit crowning the entire edifice, must eventually rest . . ., the pioneer builders of a divinely-conceived Order undertook, in complete unison, and despite the great diversity in their outlook, customs and languages, the double task of establishing and of consolidating their local councils, elected by the rank and file of the believers, and designed to direct, coordinate and extend the activities of the followers of a far-flung Faith. . . . Having established the structure of their local Assemblies - the base of the edifice which the Architect of the Administrative Order of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh had directed them to erect - His disciples, in both the East and the West, unhesitatingly embarked on the next and more difficult stage, of their high enterprise. In countries where the local Bahá'í communities had sufficiently advanced in number and in influence measures were taken for the initiation of National Assemblies, the pivots round which all national undertakings must revolve. Designated by 'Abdu'l-Bahá in His Will as the 'Secondary Houses of Justice,' they constitute the electoral bodies in the formation of the International House of Justice, and are empowered to direct, unify, coordinate and stimulate the activities of individuals as well as local Assemblies within their jurisdiction. Resting on the broad base of organized local communities, themselves pillars sustaining the institution which must be regarded as the apex of the Bahá'í Administrative Order, these Assemblies are elected, according to the principle of proportional representation, by delegates representative of Bahá'í local communities assembled at Convention during the period of the Ridván Festival . . . .”).

62. See David Hofman, A Commentary on the Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 25 (“The National House of Justice, or 'secondary' House as it is termed in the Will, is 'Abdu'l-Bahá's own contribution to the institutions of the world order. The Universal and Local Houses were designed by Bahá'u'lláh, but it is the Master who institutes [in His Will and Testament] the intermediary or secondary body.”).

63. The Ministry of the Custodians: 1957-1963, p. 13.

64. The Bahá'í Faith 1844-1963 Information Statistical & Comparative, pp. 22-24.

65. The Bahá'í Faith 1844-1963 Information Statistical & Comparative, pp. 45, 47-54.

66. In a cable issued in 1951, Shoghi Effendi announced the “formation of first International Bahá'í Council, forerunner of supreme administrative institution destined to emerge in fullness of time within precincts beneath shadow of World Spiritual Center of Faith already established in twin cities of 'Akká and Haifa.” Shoghi Effendi, Messages to the Bahá'í World, p. 7. He envisioned that the formation of the International Bahá'í Council was “destined to culminate in emergence of Universal House of Justice.” Id., p. 20. Shoghi Effendi also referred to the evolution of the appointed International Bahá'í Council into an “officially recognized Bahá'í Court,” “its transformation into duly elected body,” and “its efflorescence into Universal House of Justice.” Id., pp. 7-8; see id., pp. 13, 152; Shoghi Effendi, Citadel of Faith, pp. 94-95.

After its appointment in 1951, the International Bahá'í Council performed important services for the Faith. See “The International Bahá'í Council,” The Bahá'í World, vol. XIII, pp. 395-401. Following Shoghi Effendi's passing in 1957, the International Bahá'í Council continued to carry out duties at the Bahá'í World Center under the direction of the Hands of the Cause. In 1959, the Hands of the Cause called for the election of the International Bahá'í Council during Ridván 1961. The Ministry of the Custodians: 1957-1963, p. 168. The Hands declared that the “embryonic institution established . . . by the beloved Guardian will thus enter its final stage preceding the election of the Universal House of Justice.” Id. The Hands of the Cause further explained that every effort would be made “to establish a Bahá'í Court in the Holy Land prior to the date set” for the election of the International Bahá'í Council; however, they emphasized that “the Guardian himself clearly indicated this goal, due to the strong trend towards the secularization of Religious Courts in this part of the world, might not be achieved.” Id., pp. 168-69. Because of this trend toward secularization, it was ultimately not possible to establish an “officially recognized Bahá'í Court” prior to the election of the Universal House of Justice; nevertheless, the final stage preceding the election of the Universal House of Justice - namely, the election of the International Bahá'í Council - was successfully carried out in 1961. See id., p. 282; cf. the Universal House of Justice, Messages from the Universal House of Justice: 1963-1986, p. 83 (“You query the timing of the election of the Universal House of Justice in view of the Guardian's statement: '. . . given favorable circumstances, under which the Bahá'ís of Persia and of the adjoining countries under Soviet rule, may be enabled to elect their national representatives . . . the only remaining obstacle in the way of the definite formation of the International House of Justice will have been removed.' On 19th April 1947 the Guardian, in a letter written on his behalf by his secretary, replied to the inquiry of an individual believer about this passage: 'At the time he referred to Russia there were Bahá'ís there, now the Community has practically ceased to exist; therefore the formation of the International House of Justice cannot depend on a Russian National Spiritual Assembly. But other strong National Spiritual Assemblies will have to be built up before it can be established.'”).

67. The Universal House of Justice, Messages from the Universal House of Justice: 1963-1986, p. 50.

68. The Universal House of Justice, Messages from the Universal House of Justice: 1963-1986, pp. 50-51.

69. The Universal House of Justice, Messages from the Universal House of Justice: 1963-1986, p. 51.

70. The Universal House of Justice, Messages from the Universal House of Justice: 1963-1986, p. 51.

71. See Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 14.

72. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, quoted in the Universal House of Justice, Messages from the Universal House of Justice: 1963-1986, p. 53 (emphasis added).

73. See The Constitution of the Universal House of Justice, p. 11 (“An election of the Universal House of Justice shall be held once every five years unless otherwise decided by the Universal House of Justice . . . .”).

74. Shoghi Effendi, The Compilation of Compilations, vol. I, p. 333.

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