From a Letter Written by Shoghi Effendi
great is the importance and so supreme is the authority of these assemblies
that once 'Abdu'l-Bahá after having himself and in his own handwriting
corrected the translation made into Arabic of the Ishráqát (the
Effulgences) by Sheikh Faraj, a Kurdish friend from Cairo, directed him in a
Tablet to submit the above-named translation to the Spiritual Assembly of
Cairo, that he may seek from them before publication their approval and
is indeed a clear indication of the Master's express desire that nothing
whatever should be given to the public by any individual among the friends,
unless fully considered and approved by the Spiritual Assembly in his locality;
and if this (as is undoubtedly the case) is a matter that pertains to the
general interest of the Cause in that land, then it is incumbent upon the
Spiritual Assembly to submit it to the consideration and approval of the
national body representing all the various local assemblies. Not only with
regard to publication, but all matters without any exception whatsoever,
regarding the interests of the Cause in that locality, individually or
collectively, should be referred exclusively to the Spiritual Assembly in that
locality, which shall decide upon it, unless it be a matter of national
interest, in which case it shall be referred to the national body. With this
national body also will rest the decision whether a given question is of local
or national interest....
March 1922, published in 'Bahá'í Administration: Selected Messages 1922-1932'
[rev. ed.], (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1980), p. 23. 
From Letters Written on Behalf
of Shoghi Effendi
case you are thinking to publish this explanation of yours, Shoghi Effendi
would like you to present it to the National Spiritual Assembly and ask their
approval before you do so. The Cause is still in its stage of infancy, it has
to be reared with motherly care. Such precautionary measures, therefore, are to
hasten its development and safeguard the consistency of its publications.
March 1923 to an individual believer) 
keep the unity of action in the Cause it is absolutely essential that all
activities be with the approval and sanction of the National Assembly of that
locality. Shoghi Effendi, therefore, would like you to obtain the sanction of
the National Assembly before you undertake the publication of any matter.
November 1926 to an individual believer) 
Effendi orders someone to translate some book it does not mean that the work
could be published without the sanction of the National Spiritual Assembly even
though that sanction may be a function of formality, for Shoghi Effendi has
submitted for the sanction of the National Spiritual Assembly things that he
has himself translated.
Assembly should be interested in such translations and help as much as possible
for it is, after all, a service to the Cause. That body should therefore be
responsible for copyrights and other matters. Their attitude should be that of
assistance rather than obstruction.
Spiritual Assembly should feel interested and help in such translations.
Spiritual Assembly is free to help in its publication or not, according to
whether they deem the work worthwhile. Their objective should be the highest
good of the Cause and not obstruction of individual initiative.
December 1932 to an individual believer) 
Effendi would, however, like to draw your attention to the fact that every book
that a Bahá'í desires to publish, on any phase of the Movement, should obtain
the sanction of the National Assembly under whose jurisdiction he lives, or of
the country in which he desires to publish the book. In this case it is a mere
formality for the Guardian is sure that the National Assembly of the British
Isles have known of this book and have been anxiously awaiting its publication.
Shoghi Effendi submits even the books he himself writes to such a procedure. It
is really to safeguard the teachings from being misinterpreted by friends who
have not deepened their knowledge of the teachings.
May 1933 to an individual believer) 
can submit your article to the Reviewing Committee, whose function is to decide
whether the matter used in Bahá'í articles or books conforms with the
February 1945 to an individual believer) 
your question concerning Bahá'ís printing and circulating matter on the Faith:
whether the person writes it openly, as a Bahá'í, or gives the impression he is
not a Bahá'í (in order to make his statements seem those of a dispassionate
observer and thus carry more weight with some minds), if he is a voting member
of our Faith he should submit the material to the National Spiritual Assembly,
or its appointed Committee, to be passed upon as to its accuracy and
acceptability. Naturally non-Bahá'í material the individual is free to do as he
likes about. The National Assembly should deal efficiently with such matters and
thus encourage the friends to follow the correct procedure. The whole object in
Bahá'í Administration is not only to manage the affairs of the Cause, but to
stimulate the believers to work for it and to teach it to the masses. When the
National Spiritual Assembly provides competent and quick service, in its own
work and that of its Committees, it will see a far greater manifestation of
enthusiasm and enterprise on the part of the believers.
March 1945 to a National Spiritual Assembly) 
often persons can be carried away by their enthusiasm and express something
detrimental to the Faith. Therefore they must either refer their articles to
their Local Spiritual Assembly or the National Reviewing Committee.
April 1946 to a National Spiritual Assembly) 
was very pleased to hear you have translated ...'s book into German. If you
plan to have this published in Germany the German Reviewing Committee should
see it first. This is no reflection on your abilities, but merely to uphold the
administrative laws in this respect, as of course some utterly unqualified
believer could publish misleading and inferior stuff, damaging to the Cause's
prestige, if no such protective Committee existed.
November 1947 to an individual believer) 
Mrs. ...'s booklet, generally speaking, Local Spiritual Assemblies are not
empowered to review material which is for national circulation. The Guardian
thinks that your Assembly, or the Committee that you delegate such authority
to, should review the pamphlet in question, and if it is in accordance with the
Teachings, there is certainly no reason why it should not be circulated, but in
the future, the Spiritual Assemblies should be more careful about publishing
literature which is for more than local use.
March 1951 to a National Spiritual Assembly) 
Bahá'í book presenting the Faith should be reviewed by a competent body. This
only means that they should ascertain whether there is any misrepresentation of
the Teachings in it. Sometimes the friends think they have to go into literary
reviews and interfere with the author's style etc., which of course is wholly
November 1956 to an individual believer) 
From Letters Written by the
Universal House of Justice
function of reviewing is, essentially, to check the Author's exposition of the
Bahá'í Faith and its teachings, which may include verification of any quotation
from Bahá'í writings. This function should not be confused with evaluation of
the literary merit of a work or of its value as a publication, which are
normally the prerogative of the publisher. However, in the case of works to be
published by its Bahá'í Publishing Trust, the National Spiritual Assembly may,
if it so wishes, assign all these responsibilities to one committee.
July 1964 to a National Spiritual Assembly) 
publishing trust has the right to refuse publication of any particular title,
and a National Assembly has the right to review any proposed Bahá'í publication
for accuracy and propriety. But no publisher has the right to alter or change
an author's manuscript without his knowledge and consent.
July 1966 to a National Spiritual Assembly) 
of material to ensure accuracy and dignity of its presentation should not be
confused with sponsorship of its publication. In principle, whether or not you
wish to sponsor a project is for you to decide.
November 1971 to a National Spiritual Assembly) 
Some of the friends have suggested that the emergence of the Faith from
obscurity indicates the timeliness of ceasing observance in the Bahá'í
community of certain restraints; particularly are they concerned about the
temporary necessity of review before publishing.
the Faith has emerged from obscurity on a global scale is certain. This
definitely marks a triumphant stage in the efforts of the community to register
its existence on the minds of those who influence world events. Consider how,
because of the sufferings and sacrifices of the friends in Iran, the concerns
of the community in these respects have become a matter of discussion in the
most influential parliaments and the most important international forums on
earth. That this emergence frees the Cause to pursue objectives hitherto
unreachable is also undeniable; but that it marks the attainment of the
community's anticipated maturity is entirely doubtful.
could it have attained maturity, when we know from the clear guidance of the
beloved Guardian that obscurity is but one of the many stages in the long
evolution towards the Faith's golden destiny? Has he not advised us all that
the subsequent stage of oppression must precede the stages of its emancipation
and its recognition as a world religion? Can the friends forget the oft-quoted
warning of 'Abdu'l-Bahá concerning the bitter opposition that will confront the
Cause in various lands on all continents? In the case of the American
believers, has Shoghi Effendi not alluded to this coming fury in his
description of them as "the invincible Army of Bahá'u'lláh, who in the
West, and at one of its potential storm centres is to fight, in His name and
for His sake, one of its fiercest and most glorious battles"?
who are anxious to relax all restraint, who invoke freedom of speech as the rationale
for publishing every and any thing concerning the Bahá'í community, who call
for the immediate termination of the practice of review now that the Faith has
emerged from obscurity -- are they not aware of these sobering prospects?
Widespread as has been the public revulsion to the current persecutions in
Iran, let there be no mistake about the certainty of the opposition which must
yet be confronted in many countries, including that which is the Cradle of the
Administrative Order itself.
Faith is as yet in its infancy. Despite its emergence from obscurity, even now
the vast majority of the human race remains ignorant of its existence;
moreover, the vast majority of its adherents are relatively new Bahá'ís. The
change implied by this new stage in its evolution is that whereas heretofore
this tender plant was protected in its obscurity from the attention of external
elements, it has now become exposed. This exposure invites close observation,
and that observation will eventually lead to opposition in various quarters.
So, far from adopting a carefree attitude, the community must be conscious of
the necessity to present a correct view of itself and an accurate understanding
of its purpose to a largely sceptical public. A greater effort, a greater care
must now be exercised to ensure its protection against the malice of the
ignorant and the unwisdom of its friends.
us all remember that the struggle of the infant Faith of God to thrive is beset
with the turmoil of the present age. Like a tender shoot just barely
discernible above ground, it must be nurtured to strength and maturity and
buttressed as necessary against the blight of strong winds and deadly
entanglements with weeds and thistles. If we to whose care this plant has been
entrusted are insensitive to its tenderness, the great tree which is its
certain potential will be hindered in its growth towards the spreading of its
sheltering branches over all humankind. From this perspective we must all
consider the latent danger to the Cause of ill-advised actions and exaggerated
expectations; and particularly must we all be concerned about the effects of
words, especially those put in print. It is here that Bahá'í authors and
publishers need to be attentive and exert rigorous discipline upon themselves,
as well as abide by the requirements of review at this early stage in the
development of the Faith.
December 1988 to the Followers of Bahá'u'lláh in the United States of America) 
From Letters Written on Behalf
of the Universal House of Justice
House of Justice wishes you to concentrate on the general purpose of review as
set out on page l of the Memorandum [Memorandum on Bahá'í Publishing - Ridván
1971] under the subheading 'Purpose of Review'. With this in mind, item (b)
under the subheading 'Reviewing Committees' on page 2 of the Memorandum refers
to the accuracy of the presentation of the Faith and in no way contradicts the
checking of accuracy of quotations mentioned under the subheading 'Editing'. Of
course, as a part of its general duty the Reviewing Committee must insist on
the correction of any quotation that it finds to be either mis-quoted or quoted
in a misleading context, as this would affect the aspects with which it is
concerned, and any author or publisher would normally be grateful to have such
inaccuracies pointed out, but the Reviewing Committee does not have the duty of
minutely checking every quotation including those it sees no reason to
question, as the publisher does. The Bahá'í review is concerned with an acceptable
presentation of the Faith and its Teachings.
August 1975 to a National Spiritual Assembly) 
reply to your letter of 31 October 1977 in which you ask 'whether works by
Bahá'ís which are not about the Faith but which refer to the Faith in any way
or which use quotations from the Writings require review', and if so, how shall
the reviewers apply the standards of Bahá'í review, the House of Justice
instructs us to send you the following reply.
deal with the question of use of quotations first, the Universal House of
Justice has decided that Bahá'í authors are free to quote from the Sacred Text
and its authentic translations as well as from the general letters of the
Guardian without restriction, although the context in which the quotations are
made may be subject to review.
to Bahá'í authors who refer to the Faith in works which are not specifically
about it, the House of Justice instructs us to say there is no need for review
although Bahá'í authors may, if they wish, submit the relevant passages for
review. For instance, some such casual reference as possibly 'the Bahá'í Faith
which maintains a House of Worship in Wilmette' obviously need not be reviewed.
However, where an actual presentation of the Faith or any particular aspect of
its teachings is made, in a work not specifically about the Faith, the relevant
passage and its context should, at present, be sent for review.
November 1977 to a National Spiritual Assembly) 
House of Justice can see no reason why permission for the publication of this
book should be refused. There are undoubtedly a number of matters which a
Reviewing Committee would wish to take up with Mr. ... in addition to those
mentioned by the Ad Hoc Committee appointed by the House of Justice, but these
should be drawn to his attention so that he can correct the typescript
accordingly and render it acceptable to the Reviewing Committee.
subject of the interpretation of the Apocalypse is not one on which there is a
great need for literature in the Bahá'í world. Moreover, the House of Justice
does not think it would be wise for a Bahá'í Publishing Trust to publish this
book. But the liberty of the friends to write and publish books about the Faith
and its teachings should not be restricted more than is absolutely necessary.
Provided Mr. ...'s book can pass review, the House of Justice wishes him to be
free to seek a publisher and make his work available to the friends and the
general public if he is able to do so.
November 1977 to a National Spiritual Assembly) 
answer to the ... points raised in your letter, the Universal House of Justice
has instructed us to convey to you the following comments.
When we conveyed the decision of the House of Justice that no review was
required for a doctoral thesis unless there was a proposal to publish it in
larger quantities than required by the examining body, the reference was to
publication by printing. Photographic reproduction of individual copies, which
is an accepted practice among scholars and in universities, would not be
considered to be publishing in this context.
The circulation of seminar reports, papers and other materials among those
concerned is permissible at this stage without the need for review, unless, in
the view of the National Spiritual Assembly under whose jurisdiction the
circulation takes place, such papers are likely to contain material prejudicial
to the interests of the Faith.
You raise the question of the problem presented by the need to review scholarly
works which may be the result of several years' research and detailed study of
materials which may not be known to, or even available to those who must do the
reviewing. The House of Justice states that when the author of such a work
presents his book for review, he is at liberty to express such thoughts to the
National Spiritual Assembly concerned. Should a difference of opinion arise
between the author and the reviewing committee, and should the National
Spiritual Assembly be unable to resolve it, the matter may be referred to the
Universal House of Justice.
December 1979 to an individual believer) 
Universal House of Justice has, in the past, sent to you and to your Publishing
Trust general guidelines for reviewing literature submitted for publication.
This guidance is obviously binding on any manuscript presented to your
Assembly. Due to the present situation in Iran, however, the timeliness of
publishing literature in the Persian language is an important factor to take
into account, and therefore the House of Justice requests you to appoint a
Persian Reviewing Committee, the members of which need not be resident in the
United States. They should obviously be Bahá'ís competent to advise on the
suitable time and wisdom of publishing original Persian texts submitted to
them, as well as commenting on the usual reviewing functions.
publication of the memoirs of the friends requires a great deal of careful
attention. Personal recollections sometimes include statements which are not in
conformity with available historical Bahá'í literature, and events occasionally
referred to in such essays deal with subjects which could be used by the
enemies of the Faith in Iran and elsewhere. It is obvious that at this time
such publications cannot be considered as priority items required by the
Persian believers living outside Iran. You are welcome to inform your Persian
Reviewing Committee of this guidance.
August 1980 to a National Spiritual Assembly) 
the matter of review, the House of Justice feels that the present state of
Bahá'í scholarship would make it most unwise to lift the requirement for review
for works of Bahá'í scholars aimed at a largely non-Bahá'í audience. There are,
the House of Justice is very pleased to see, a growing number of Bahá'í
scholars who approach their work with the enquiring mind of a true scholar,
eager to seek out the truth, but also keenly aware of their own limitations and
expressing their conclusions with scientific caution....
It must be remembered that the purpose of review is to protect the Faith
against misrepresentation by its own followers at this early stage of its
existence when comparatively few people have any knowledge of it. An erroneous
presentation of the Teachings by a Bahá'í who is accounted a scholar, in a
scholarly journal, would, by that very fact, do far more harm than an erroneous
presentation made by an obscure Bahá'í author with no pretensions to
House of Justice feels that for it to designate certain believers as 'approved
scholars', so to say, who would not need to have their scholarly publications
reviewed, while maintaining the requirement for all other believers, would be
invidious and raise far more problems than the present ruling requiring review of
all publications about the Faith by Bahá'ís.
October 1980 to an individual believer) 
have been asked to remind you that any passage in a book written by a Bahá'í
which deals with the Cause must be reviewed together with its context by the
National Spiritual Assembly of the country in which it is first published and
distributed. This should be done before it is sent to the publisher.
November 1980 to an individual believer) 
regards the reviewing panel's duty to check the accuracy of quotations from
Scripture, ... we are instructed to refer you to the letter sent to you dated
August 3, 1975, in reply to your letter of July 18, 1975, raising a number of
questions about the House of Justice's Memorandum on Bahá'í Publishing of Ridván
1971. For your convenience we attach a copy of the letter of August 3, 1975.[
See extract 16] From it it becomes apparent that were a reviewing committee, in
the course of reading a typescript, to notice a quotation from Scripture which
was inapt or in a misleading context or inaccurately quoted, it would certainly
call this to attention, but "the reviewing committee does not have the
duty of minutely checking every quotation including those it sees no reason to
December 1981 to a National Spiritual Assembly) 
reference to review of art shows and dramatic presentations by Bahá'í artists
your Assembly will wish to exercise such review responsibility as it may see
fit in order to assure a befitting quality of the work, particularly where
Bahá'í sponsorship has been undertaken or is implicit in the conduct of the
April 1982 to a National Spiritual Assembly) 
[the Universal House of Justice] agrees with you that the process of review is
often irksome, frequently takes far too long and is subject to many problems in
implementation. Nevertheless it is convinced that this is not the time to
remove or modify this temporary restriction on the freedom of Bahá'í authors to
publish whatever they wish about the Faith and its teachings. National
Assemblies responsible for administering the reviewing procedure have been
urged to do all they can to improve and expedite its operation, and efforts are
continually being made to this end.
different categories of publications are subject to different procedures.
Manuscripts written by Bahá'ís about the Faith or its teachings are subject to
review. Translations of Bahá'í books that have already passed review are
subject to checking to ensure that the translation is accurate and of proper
quality. The publication of a historical document, such as the Salmání memoirs,
requires review of the entire book to ensure that the document is properly
presented and is supplemented, where necessary, by accurate and adequate annotations
and commentary, and, when appropriate, the translation of the document itself
must be checked. In this last category, moreover, questions of wisdom and
timeliness are of prime importance.
is a basic difference between a document's being published by a non-Bahá'í
agency and its publication by Bahá'ís. Bahá'ís owe it, in loyalty to
Bahá'u'lláh, to present the material in a manner that will neither distort the
true character of His Faith nor the truth of the historical record....
to withhold the publication of certain documents, or to publish only excerpts
initially, for the protection of the Faith and the believers have numerous
precedents. For example, as is mentioned on pages 3 and 4 of the Introduction
to the Synopsis and Codification of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, Bahá'u'lláh
Himself withheld the Most Holy Book for some time after its revelation before
sending it to the friends in Iran. This, He explained, was because it contained
the Law of Huqúqu'lláh. The Guardian, moreover, after the passing of the
Master, at first published translations of only excerpts of the Will and
Testament. It lies with the Head of the Faith at any period to make such
decisions, for the Cause of God is surrounded by dangers of many different
kinds which only the World Centre can correctly evaluate. Nor should this be a
strange concept to Bahá'ís, for did not Bahá'u'lláh quote with approval the
statement that "Not everything a man knoweth can be disclosed, nor can
everything that he can disclose be regarded as timely, nor can every timely
utterance be considered as suited to the capacity of those who hear it."
March 1983 to an individual believer) 
is no specified time limit within which a National Spiritual Assembly has to
complete its review of a manuscript; however, it must urge its reviewing
committee to expedite any review it undertakes. Differing circumstances make it
impossible for every manuscript to be reviewed within the same time span:
volume, complexity of the material, availability of reviewers, the pressure of
work are some of the factors to be considered. However, if you find that the
review of your manuscript has been unduly delayed, you should not hesitate to
send an inquiry to the National Spiritual Assembly.
July 1984 to an individual believer) 
regard to the temporary requirement that the writings of Bahá'ís on the Faith
must be reviewed before publication, the House of Justice confirms that this
will definitely be removed in due course, and may well be modified in the
meantime as conditions change. At present, for example, it is not applicable to
such writings as doctoral theses, unless these are to be published in larger
numbers than required for the degree.
September 1986 to an individual believer) 
a book that a Bahá'í writes about the Faith there is a certain leeway possible
for him in the expression of the teachings in his own terms, and the purpose of
review in such a case is to ensure that this leeway does not exceed the proper
bounds and result in the book's being a distortion of the Faith. In such a book
as yours, however, which is a detailed historical account of the early years of
the Cause, dealing intimately with the Central Figures themselves, reviewers
should pay a much closer attention to ensure that events that are related and
words that are quoted have a sound historical basis.
life of a Manifestation of God is indescribably precious. Inevitably there are
many stories of the early days of a Faith that circulate by word of mouth, some
true, some partially true, some false; and it is the hope that gradually these
can be sorted out by scholars so that their varying reliability can be
ascertained for the guidance of future generations.
problem with your book is that you avowedly invent words and put them into the
mouths of historical characters, describe in detail events of which only a
sketchy knowledge exists, and incorporate information which you may have
obtained from guides during your visit to Iran, but which is in no way qualified
as to its source. In your own words, the accounts are 'fleshed out'.
is, we understand, a highly readable book, one that will grip the reader's
attention. Inevitably, therefore, the reader's mind will be filled with all
sorts of unreliable and even invented information which he, half remembering,
will in turn recount. In other words, the book would act as a massive muddying
of the waters of Bahá'í history, disseminating into the world stories which it
might never be possible to effectively retract in future, even if proved to be
normally a Reviewing Committee is responsible for checking that a book written
by a Bahá'í author about the Faith does not convey a false impression about
either the Faith or its teachings. If the book is a history, the Reviewing
Committee should assure itself that the account is soundly based, although it
may not check in detail all the reported facts.
Bahá'í publisher, however, would have the duty of going beyond this to check
the accuracy of all quotations and to satisfy himself that there is a sound
basis for the historical statements made.
the process of review as well as of publishing, the reviewer and the publisher
might well feel it advisable to draw to the author's attention questions of
style or expressions of opinion, and it is here that the author, rather than
the reviewer or editor, has the last word unless it can be shown that an
opinion is clearly in contradiction to the teachings.
is also the question of wisdom and propriety. A Reviewing Committee might,
conceivably, approve a book but recommend that permission to publish it be
withheld because its publication could give rise to serious problems for the
Cause. Such a decision may also be taken by the National Spiritual Assembly
any point, of course, an author can refuse to make a change -- but likewise,
the Reviewing Committee can refuse to approve the manuscript, or a publisher
can refuse to publish it. The matter, therefore, is one that should be worked
out in an atmosphere of consultation and mutual respect.
September 1986 to an individual believer) 
relation to the publication of material on Judaism and the Bahá'í Faith,
careful consideration must be given to the wisdom and timeliness of the subject,
due to the delicate nature of the relationship between the Bahá'í World Centre
and the State of Israel and to persistent Middle East tensions. Therefore, the
House of Justice asks that, if you decide to proceed with your intention to
write the proposed book at this time, your manuscript should be submitted to
the World Centre for an initial study.
December 1986 to an individual believer) 
are to say that there is no provision at the World Centre for the review of
books by believers. If your own National Spiritual Assembly does not feel able
to publish your work, you are entirely free to submit the book to any other
publisher, Bahá'í or non-Bahá'í, and to accept any offer of publication which
you might receive. You should know, however, that at present all books about
the Faith published by the believers must be approved for publication by the
National Spiritual Assembly of the country where publication takes place.
July 1987 to an individual believer) 
express concern about censorship in Bahá'í publications, which, you feel, does
prevent believers from expressing opinions or grievances about problems in the
you know, at this stage all works by Bahá'ís which refer to the Faith, such as
books, pamphlets, articles and translations, must be approved by the Spiritual
Assembly before publication. The Guardian has stated that the purpose of review
is to: 'provide in general for a dignified and accurate presentation of all
Bahá'í literature and its distribution to the public'. He described this
practice as being necessary 'in these days when the Cause is still in its
infancy' and foreshadowed a future time when 'the present restrictions imposed
on the publication of Bahá'í literature will be definitely abolished'. These
restrictions are subject to abolition by the Universal House of Justice when it
deems the time to be propitious.
are many avenues available to believers to express their opinions and concerns
about issues affecting the Bahá'í community, e.g. during the consultative
portion of the Nineteen Day Feast, at Conventions and conferences, through
correspondence addressed to the Assemblies, or in consultation with Counsellors
or Auxiliary Board members. With the growth of Bahá'í newsletters and magazines,
and with the development of associations promoting Bahá'í scholarship, further
avenues exist for the publication of articles which describe or analyze
pertinent issues in the relationship between the Bahá'í community and the
exercising their privilege to contribute to the consultation in these
gatherings or publications, Bahá'ís are enjoined to be courteous and
considerate of others, to be moderate in tone and to not insist on the
correctness of their views; however, such conditions should not preclude the
frank expression of differing views. Bahá'u'lláh has forbidden 'conflict' and
'contention'; open disputation in the public arena over matters in the
Bahá'í teachings is an inappropriate means of clarifying difficult issues. It can
be extremely harmful to the interests of the Faith if Bahá'ís who hold strong
opinions but are not well-versed in the teachings publish documents which
attack basic tenets of the Faith or undermine the authority of Bahá'u'lláh
Himself. There is ample scope within the channels of the Administrative Order
for questions to be raised and discussed in a manner which avoids dispute.
January 1988 to an individual believer) 
Universal House of Justice has received your letter of 6 January 1988 and has
considered with much interest the points you raise. It recognizes that the time
has come when special reviewing procedures will have to be initiated to avoid
the kinds of problem that you outline. It has asked us to send you the
problem can be divided into two aspects: the availability of Bahá'ís who are
sufficiently knowledgeable to be able to review the works of Bahá'í academics
intelligently; and the establishment of procedures which can provide reviews at
high speed and with validity for a number of countries.
the first point we are asked to say that the Universal House of Justice does
not feel that it is necessary for the reviewer to be qualified in the same
discipline as the writer of a document. For example, in the case of an article
by a professional historian, it is not the function of the reviewer to
ascertain the correctness of the article from a historian's point of view; it
is his task to ensure that the writer has not, in the course of his discussion,
misrepresented Bahá'í teachings or put forward theses which are incompatible
with being a Bahá'í.
are Bahá'ís who are scholars in their own specialized fields of research and
also scholars of the Faith and its teachings; but unfortunately this is not
always the case. Reviewers should combine a profound knowledge of the Faith and
understanding of its principles with the wisdom and good judgement to
understand their limitations in the area of the author's specific area of
with such qualifications able to review scholarly papers are few and scattered.
The House of Justice therefore will give consideration to the feasibility of
appointing what would amount to a panel of such reviewers throughout the world,
together with a coordinator for the work. A similar arrangement has already
been established for publications in Persian and seems to operate quite
February 1988 to an individual believer) 
Universal House of Justice has received your letter of 7 June 1989, concerning
a writing project which you had been contemplating in collaboration with a
professional filmmaker and writer who is not a Bahá'í, and we have been asked
to send you the following reply with an expression of regret for the delay due
to pressure of work.
the long history and overwhelming current examples of repression in the world,
it is not surprising that in a country like the United States, which upholds
freedom of speech as a cardinal principle, the non-Bahá'í collaborator in a
filmmaking project, such as you have described, would be concerned about any
perceived, or misperceived, notion of censorship. As you know, review of
manuscripts before publication is a discipline which the Bahá'í community
applies to its own members as a temporary necessity, for it is anticipated that
in due time this practice will cease. The reason is simple: At this early stage
in the development of the Bahá'í Faith, which is striving against great odds to
establish itself in a world that is highly critical, often antagonistic towards
new ideas, and whose communications media tend to emphasize negative
information, it is important that Bahá'í authors, scriptwriters and filmmakers
endeavour to present the Faith with accuracy and dignity. It is one thing for a
non-Bahá'í to make erroneous statements about the Faith; this can be excused on
the basis of ignorance. But for a Bahá'í to make such errors is quite a
different thing, because he is considered to be knowledgeable about that which
a Bahá'í author is expected to ensure to the extent possible a correct
representation of the Faith in his work; as an aid he draws upon the reviewing
facilities provided by Bahá'í institutions. A great many authors spontaneously
and informally submit their manuscripts to a type of review, although they
would not necessarily call it that, when they request the comments and
criticisms of persons whose expertise and judgement they respect. Submission to
Bahá'í review is no greater a requirement, and may well be less demanding in
most cases, than the rigorous review of scientific papers before their
publication. In the same way that scientists have acceded to the discipline of
review in the interest of ensuring the precision and integrity of their
dissertations, Bahá'í authors respect the function of review in the Bahá'í
Bahá'í Faith makes very serious claims and has a rich and complex history, but
it is as yet a young religion whose precepts are not widely understood. It has
been undergoing severe persecution in the land of its birth and is experiencing
serious opposition in other places where its detractors have no compunction in
misrepresenting its purposes. Until its history, teachings and practices are
well known throughout the world, it will be necessary for the Bahá'í community
to make efforts within itself to present correct information about the Faith in
books, films or other media. This can and must be done without violating the
principle of freedom of expression, which, according to the teachings of the
Faith, is a vital right of all persons.
is not necessary for Bahá'í authors to make an issue of the function of review
with others with whom they wish to collaborate, because it is not required of
non-Bahá'ís, though they can, if they wish, call upon Bahá'í reviewing
facilities when dealing with Bahá'í topics. Although the function of review in
the Bahá'í community is concerned with checking an author's exposition of the
Faith and its teachings, this function is not to be confused with evaluation of
the literary merit of a work or of its value as a publication, which are
normally the prerogative of the publisher. With or without review, the work
presented by a Bahá'í to a non-Bahá'í collaborator will, it is presumed, be
judged by that collaborator on its merits.
September 1989 to an individual believer)