What happened to the Guardian's Int'l Bahai Court?

All research or scholarship questions
Seeker

What happened to the Guardian's Int'l Bahai Court?

Postby Seeker » Wed Oct 05, 2005 3:57 pm

Consider the following quotes from the Guardian

"the formation of the Baha'i Court, essential prelude to the institution of the Universal House of Justice." (Rabbani, Shoghi Effendi. Messages to the Baha'i World, p. 13.)

"The projected historic, spiritual venture [the Ten-Year Crusade, 1953-1963], at once arduous, audacious, challenging, unprecedented in scope and character in the entire field of Baha'i history, soon to be set in motion, involves:... The establishment of a Baha'i Court in the Holy Land, preliminary to the emergence of the Universal House of Justice... Establishment of six national Baha'i Courts in the chief cities of the Islamic East -- Tihran, Cairo, Baghdad, New Delhi, Karachi, Kabul." (Rabbani, Shoghi Effendi. Messages to the Baha'i World, p. 42.)

I have done some research about the Internationl Bahai Court which Shoghi Effendi envisioned. There does not seem to have been a court progressing into the establishment of the UHJ. Indeed the Guardian is accepted as infallible, so what went wrong?

Any input would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks.

-Seeker

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Postby Baha'i Warrior » Wed Oct 05, 2005 4:58 pm

don't you hate it when you order a pizza, and other people want to wait and talk before eating it? i mean, the pizza's just sitting on the counter and getting cold! and on top of that, you can only take one slice because people are looking at you to make sure you leave enough for the others. so, by the time you go for another piece, the damn pizza is even colder!! heck, it's colder than you pepsi!

anyone else every have this problem?

Keyvan
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Postby Keyvan » Thu Oct 13, 2005 6:26 pm

well you have to understand what happened between 1957-1963

Shoghi Effendi left no heir after his passing in 1957.

so there was a time clock on continuing Divine Ordianances. that is, He left us His directives running through until 1963

after that point wed be all out of Divine Ordainances and the chain would be broken, this is why the Universal House of Justice was established before the expiration, to pick up right where he left off.

if you read the Dispensation of Baha'u'llah, the whole system of Guardianship to Universal House of Justice didnt happen in its plan A style either.

the World Court was a plan under the predication that there would be a continuing living Guardianship, and thus the establishment of the Universal House of Justice was to be held off


in 1907 i believe, Abdu'l Baha wrote the second part of the Will and Testament. in it He prescribed a Universal House of Justice without mention of a Guardian as its Head, and sent it with a Tablet to Haji Mirza Taqi Afnan

the Tablet called for an IMMEDIATE establishment of the Universal House of Justice

so this goes to show you how plans change depending on the circumstance, but whatever route, it is all infallible as it is all in accordance to the will of the receivers of God's Guidence

seeker

Postby seeker » Mon Oct 31, 2005 10:05 am

I would be grateful if someone was kind enough to share some insight about this topic.

curt
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What happeneed to the Guardian's Int'l Baha'i Courts

Postby curt » Mon Oct 31, 2005 1:08 pm

Dear Seeker,

The Guardian discusses Baha'i Courts in The World Order of Baha'u'llah letter in a book with the same title. In brief, he says the following:

It must be explained, however, that in the Muslim countries of the Near and Middle East, with the exception of Turkey which has lately abolished all ecclesiastical courts under its rule, every recognized religious community has, in matters of personal status such as marriage, divorse and inheritance, its own ecclesiastical court, totally independent of the civil and criminal tribunals, there being in such instances no civil code promulgated by the government and embracing all the different religious communities. pp 10-11, published 1930

In the Unfoldment of World Civilization letter in the same book, he says the following:

The day may not be far distant when in certain countries of the East, in which religious coummunities exercise jurisdiction in matters of personal status, Baha'i Assemblies may be called upon to assume the duties and responsibilities devolving upon officially constituted Baha'i courts They will be empowered, in such matters as marriage, divorce, and inheritance, to execute and apply, within their respective jurisdictions, and with the sanction of civil authorities, such laws and ordinances as have been expressly provided in their Most Holy Book. p 200, published 1936

The Guardian also mentions Baha'i Courts in God Passes By as follows:

The preliminary measures for the institution of Baha'i courts, invested with the legal right to apply and execute those laws and ordinances, still remain to be undertaken. p 411, published 1944

I am unfamiliar with the term International Baha'i Court. I am also unfamiliar with an International Baha'i Court having anything to do with the formation of the Universal House of Justice.

I hope what I gave you clarifies this topic for you.

Curt

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Postby Baha'i Warrior » Mon Oct 31, 2005 1:16 pm

keyvan already provided good answers in my opinion.

in addition to what keyvan said, these were cablegrams, and consequently all the quotes you mentioned were fragments, not complete sentences. they are not as formal as texts that Shoghi Effendi authored Himself

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Postby Baha'i Warrior » Mon Oct 31, 2005 1:20 pm

and Curt makes a good point that "International Baha'i Court" was never defined, at least to the best of my knowledge. Maybe had Shoghi Effendi not passed so soon, He would have followed up on that. But it is clear, as keyvan pointed out, that "if you read the Dispensation of Baha'u'llah, the whole system of Guardianship to Universal House of Justice didnt happen in its plan A style either." the fact remains that the Guardian was infallible and that the UHJ is infallible.

Leader

Creating an Ideal World Civilization

Postby Leader » Tue Nov 01, 2005 6:56 am

. . Those who want to create an ideal world civilization need first to formulate a detail concept of an ideal civilization in their minds.
. . This would include defining an ideal, moneyless, consumer-based economy where everyone contributes labor to the ordered projects according to the principle of Fair Labor Exchange. This would also include the definition of an ideal city in a global league of ideal cities.
. . Next they would need to define a Civilian Authority that would counter ruling Military Authorities and give them legitimacy and guidance, just as our Sensory Nervous System guide the actions of our Motor Nervous System.
. . Third, they would need to define the definition of the word ‘definition’, then support the establishment of a World Language Academy that would use this definition to define all human abstract concepts, and provide a Language Court to judge their proper applications.
. . Fourth, they must join a single global civilian authority and perform the duties of civilized citizens. This would include the adoption of sensible world standards, such as the scientific solar calendar, and the construction and defense of the ideal cities they imagined.
. . Such a single global civilian authority is now forming at http://LetsOrganize.blogspot.com. All sovereign individuals are invited to visit this site and consider joining with their individual (non-cult) ideals.

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Postby Baha'i Warrior » Thu Nov 03, 2005 5:34 pm

Actually, here is the official answer (I was a bit off):
_____________________________

The Hands of the Cause in their Ridvan message of 1959 stated:

We wish to assure the believers that every effort will be made to
establish a Bahá'í Court in the Holy Land prior to the date set for this
election. We should however bear in mind 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.

(Custodians, Ministry of the Custodians, pp. 168-9)

____________________________

From Adib Taherzadeh:


In his writings Shoghi Effendi attached great importance to the
International Council, which was to evolve by stages into the Universal
House of Justice. The first stage was the Council in its initial form as
an appointed body. The second stage was its becoming an elected body.
This took place in 1961, during the Custodianship of the Hands of the
Cause, when the National Spiritual Assemblies throughout the world
elected a nine-member Council. The third stage was for the Council to be
transformed into the International Bahá'í Court [1] in Israel, and the
fourth stage was to be the election and the establishment of the
Universal House of Justice. The third stage did not materialize because
when the Hands of the Cause, after the passing of Shoghi Effendi,
investigated the matter through legal channels they found that the
prerogatives and privileges which could legally be granted to a Bahá'í
Court were inadequate or unbefitting the prestige of the Faith. The
International Council continued its service until 1963 when it ceased to
exist with the election of the Universal House of Justice.

[1 In Islamic countries and in Israel there are religious courts legally
recognized to administer legal matters in the context of religious law.]

(Adib Taherzadeh, The Covenant of Baha'u'llah, p. 324)

seeker

Postby seeker » Fri Nov 04, 2005 10:54 am

According to the ff. by the guardian:

"the formation of the Baha'i Court, essential prelude to the institution of the Universal House of Justice." (Rabbani, Shoghi Effendi. Messages to the Baha'i World, p. 13.)


Should we then conclude that the Guardian was wrong and that formation of the International Baha'i court was not really an essential prelude?

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Postby Baha'i Warrior » Fri Nov 04, 2005 12:43 pm

seeker wrote:Should we then conclude that the Guardian was wrong and that formation of the International Baha'i court was not really an essential prelude?

:roll:

"We should however bear in mind 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."

seeker

Postby seeker » Wed Nov 09, 2005 1:20 pm

We should however bear in mind 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. (Custodians, Ministry of the Custodians, pp. 168-9)



Dear Bahai warrior,
I am aware of the above passage but there's nowhere in the authoritative writings of Baha'u'llah, Abdul'Baha and Shoghi Effendi do I find anything suggesting that the international Bahai court would not be established except for what the hands say.

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Postby Keyvan » Wed Nov 09, 2005 9:23 pm

there are untranslated writings. and i think the UHJ had to be established before any "authoritative translations" could be made. thus they had to paraphrase. if you like, you should contact the research department at the BWC and they will provide the words of the Guardian

why do western bahais not get the fact that only 10% of the writings have been translated to english. SHEESH!

seeker

Postby seeker » Wed Nov 09, 2005 11:51 pm

keyvan,
I'm not a bahai as my username suggests and not a westerner either. I am a rational person trying to understand what went on with the Bahai International Court. I am under the impression that independent investigation of truth is encouraged. I hope that asking questions especially by seekers is part of independent investigation.

I'm not here to change your views or beliefs. I just came here for help. Any constructive opinions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks a lot.

brent

What happened to the International Court?

Postby brent » Sat Nov 12, 2005 12:11 am

In countries where religion is not separate from the state, the various religious organizations administer many aspects of people's lives. These religiious courts perform marriages and divorces, probate wills, resolve commercial disputes, and the like. In the 1950s Shoghi Effendi directed that in five Muslim countries -- Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Egypt and Afghanistan -- the Baha'is strive to have the government of each country recognize the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is, as a religious court on equal footing with the other religious courts in those nations. It was an effort to elevate the status of the Baha'i community in those countries, as well as liberating the Baha'is personal matters from being administered by the authorities of other religious communities.

These courts were not really new institutions that would come into being. That is, the effort was to have the authorities grant new legal authority to the existing National Spiritual Assembly. In all instances, these efforts failed, because the religious and/or civilian authorities would not agree to recognition of the National Spiritual Assembly.

Likewise, in the Holy Land, Shoghi Effendi sought the same process for the International Baha'i Council whose members he had appointed. That is, that the authorities in the Holy Land, where the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim religious communities all had religious courts -- the Guardian sought the grant of equal authority to the International Baha'i Council, so that on an equal footing, it could administer matters of personal status for the Baha'is resident in the Holy Land.

The accomplishment of this goal rested entirely with the authorities in all of these countries. Logic dictates that the Guardian's plan for the establishment of the Universal House of Justice, an act entirely within the will of the Head of the Faith; regarding the "essential prelude" (Messages to the Baha'i World - 1950-1957, p. 12) of the formation of the Bahá'í Court, a formation entirely within the will of the head of the governments, could not mean that the House could not be established until the government in the Holy Land first agreed to endow the Baha'i Council with religious judicial functions.

Perhaps with the passage of time we can see that the Guardian used "essential prelude" in that sentence, as he used it here:

"Indeed the steps preliminary to the formation of a Bahá'í administrative centre in every county throughout the British Isles, must sooner or later be taken, as an essential prelude to the effective proclamation of the Faith to the masses." (Shoghi Effendi, The Unfolding Destiny of the British Baha'i Community, p. 208)

That is, as a sound step, not as a divine forbidding of the one from
occurring before the other. Shoghi Effendi could not have meant that the election of the Universal House of Justice must be held in abeyance for the years, decades, even centuries before decisions came about, that would be made by people outside of the Faith, recognizing our institutions as a court. So this is neither a matter of Shoghi Effendi being wrong by using the word essential, which he used in more than one way; nor a matter of the Baha'is defying him after his passing.

Brent

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Postby Keyvan » Sat Nov 12, 2005 9:45 pm

seeker wrote:keyvan,
I'm not a bahai as my username suggests and not a westerner either. I am a rational person trying to understand what went on with the Bahai International Court. I am under the impression that independent investigation of truth is encouraged. I hope that asking questions especially by seekers is part of independent investigation.

I'm not here to change your views or beliefs. I just came here for help. Any constructive opinions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks a lot.



i mean western in the regard that you are taking into account only that which has been offically translated and published. there is much (90%!!!) that has not been translated yet

in such case, write to the BWC

seeker

Postby seeker » Mon Nov 14, 2005 10:11 am

Hello Keyvan,
It is clear that you are really frustrated by people who ask questions. I really do not intend to get into any squabbles with you. I wish you all the best.

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Postby Baha'i Warrior » Mon Nov 14, 2005 12:07 pm

Again, Shoghi Effendi said that might not be possible. Just because we don't have that document doesn't mean that Shoghi Effendi didn't say that or that the Hands of the Cause are lying.

"We should however bear in mind 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."

So seeker if that does not satisfy you then we cannot help you further. Maybe you could write the UHJ about it if it is really bothering you.

seeker

Postby seeker » Wed Nov 16, 2005 11:03 am

Dear bahai warrior,
Thank you for your input, I really appreciate it. In the absence, so far, of hard-copy documentation of the Guardians knowledge that the international Bahai court might not be possible, should I conclude that we should accept the Hands' assertion by FAITH and also accept that the Guardian made a provision for his words to be flexible?

Thanks and best wishes.

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Postby Baha'i Warrior » Wed Nov 16, 2005 5:21 pm

If you are a Baha'i, yes. If you are not a Baha'i, no.

As far as I understand, the Guardian at times said things "due to" "strong trend[s]." At other times He would speak out of Spiritual Wisdom, the Wisdom that guided Him throughout His entire career, that protected Him from saying "wrong" things or making "mistakes." Again, He could not err because He was guarded from fallibility by the Lesser Covenant. For pity little infinitesimal minds to question the judgment of Shoghi Effendi, or His capacity as Guardian of the Baha'i Faith, is very pathetic to say the least. Let us perhaps spend our time more wisely than trying to debase the authority of the Guardian.

Seeker

Postby Seeker » Fri Nov 18, 2005 2:21 pm

Hello Bahai Warrior,
I admire your faith in this matter. But I think both of us would have to agree that, for someone who is investigating tthe faith and who is not a believer, it would be unfair to require him to take things in good faith. I am quite certain that your current level of faith has been influenced by your previous experiences.
In this instance, if you attach infallibility to a person, my common sense tells me that everything He says is true and by definition is absolute and free from error. That is my rational for asking why Shoghi did not state explicitly that establishment of the court might not be established. Unless of course you want to interpret his statements this way: that, although it is ideal to have a court preliminary to the UHJ, they would settle for less b'cos the Local authourities would not fully recognize that court. And if you take this interpretation, it means that formation of the Int'l court is not really an essential prelude b'cos we now have a situation where the UHJ has been formed without a prior court.

I really do not mean to argue with you here. I just want you to understand the spirit behind the questions I'm asking. Forgive me if you think my questions are unreasonable b'cos its not my intention to stir up tension.

And please, don't feel obliged to respond to this post. Thank you for your correspondence so far.
Best wishes

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Postby Baha'i Warrior » Fri Nov 18, 2005 6:27 pm

Seeker,

For one thing, it is very, very, very rare that seekers go to the trouble of looking up stuff Shoghi Effendi said about a Baha'i court in Messages to the Baha'i World to determine whether or not He was indeed infallible. That is something, really, that is never seen.

Again, it would have been an "essential prelude" due to current trends. Anyone under the lesser Covenant is "freed from all error," as 'Abdu'l-Baha puts it. It is my opinion that this is a rather trivial issue, especially if you consider that both those quotes you pointed to are fragments. Those are the only two places in writting I have seen Shoghi Effendi mention a "Baha'i Court," and it is not even defined. Do you know what a Baha'i court is? Also, why didn't He define it? Maybe due to His untimely death and the fact that He stated that it might not happen?

Again:

"The third stage [formation of Baha'i Court] did not materialize because
when the Hands of the Cause, after the passing of Shoghi Effendi,
investigated the matter through legal channels they found that the
prerogatives and privileges which could legally be granted to a Bahá'í
Court were inadequate or unbefitting the prestige of the Faith."


So you have to reconcile those fragmented sentences with what the Hands of the Cause said. If this is really puzzling you, and keeping you from joining the Faith, again, write the House. They probably have such a statement in their archives. Shoghi Effendi could see into the future, but that does not mean He is going to directly tell us every single thing that is going to happen. Some events would have to follow or not follow for the establishment of the Baha'i court, and that was to be determined.

Shoghi Effendi foretold so many thing and He was unlike any other man in history. You can't take something like this to show the Guardian was fallible. It is a huge impossibility that He could be right on everything else but "wrong" about an ill defined Baha'i court. And we do have the Hands telling us that that was based on current trends. I wager they knew the Guardian better than we do.

So the only explanation must be, given that evidence, that Shoghi Effendi did not make any "mistakes." It is also a matter of faith, so maybe you might want to try some faith on this one. Wouldn't that be sad if something like this keeps you from joining the "legions of the army of Baha'u'llah"?

Also, if you want to prove the Guardian wrong, maybe you should try to at least find something that is not a fragment and also maybe something that is better defined. In any case, according to the Hands of the Cause, Shoghi Effendi did not speak in absolute terms, despite the wording He used.

seeker

Postby seeker » Mon Nov 21, 2005 10:28 am

Baha'i Warrior,
I should first state that I am not out to prove the Guardian wrong. In fact, in my research the international Baha'i court issue has not been the most important issue for me. I assumed that there should be some official, authoritative explanation. To me, there more important issues such as what happens to the institution of Guardianship today and how Baha'u'llah fulfills prophecies about the second advent of Christ, and the role of women on the UHJ.
I just figured, there would be an explantion just as there were authoritative explanations for the apparent discrepancy between Baha'u'llah's support for bigamy versus Abdul'Baha's endorsement of monogamy.
But I do understand that I would need to contact the BWC directly. Thank you for your assistance.
Best wishes.

David Bowie
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Re: What happened to the Guardian's Int'l Bahai Court?

Postby David Bowie » Fri Aug 15, 2008 1:21 pm

I have not logged on for a long time so apologise for this late response. A few years ago I wrote to the World Centre about this matter and have attached their reply.

David

*****************************

M E M O R A N D U M
To: The Universal House of Justice Date: 24 April 2002 From: Research Department


Establishing a Bahá’í Court in the Holy Land

The Research Department has studied the query raised by Mr. David Bowie in his
email message of 29 January 2002 to the Bahá’í World Centre. Mr. Bowie states that he has not been able to locate the source of a statement attributed to Shoghi Effendi in “The Ministry of Custodians: 1957–1963” (Haifa: Bahá’í World Centre, 1992) pages 168–169, stating that the establishment of a Bahá’í court in the Holy Land might not be achieved prior to the date set for the election of the International Bahá’í Council. The statement to which Mr. Bowie refers in his email message is from a letter dated 4 November 1959 written by the Hands of the Cause following their Conclave held at the time. It reads as follows:

We wish to assure the believers that every effort will be made to establish a Bahá’í Court in the Holy Land prior to the date set for this election. We should however bear in mind 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.

Mr. Bowie writes that he has not been successful in locating such a statement by Shoghi Effendi and would like to know where it might be found. We provide the following response.

By way of introduction we bring to Mr. Bowie’s attention the following cablegram dated 9 January 1951 in which Shoghi Effendi announced the formation and functions of the first International Bahá’í Council and stated that it would serve as the forerunner to the establishment of the Universal House of Justice.

PROCLAIM NATIONAL ASSEMBLIES EAST WEST WEIGHTY EPOCH-MAKING DECISION FORMATION FIRST INTERNATIONAL BAHÁ’Í COUNCIL FORERUNNER SUPREME ADMINISTRATIVE INSTITUTION DESTINED EMERGE FULLNESS TIME WITHIN PRECINCTS BENEATH SHADOW WORLD SPIRITUAL CENTRE FAITH ALREADY ESTABLISHED TWIN CITIES ‘AKKÁ HAIFA. FULFILMENT PROPHECIES UTTERED FOUNDER FAITH CENTRE HIS COVENANT CULMINATING ESTABLISHMENT JEWISH STATE SIGNALIZING BIRTH AFTER LAPSE TWO THOUSAND YEARS INDEPENDENT NATION HOLY LAND SWIFT UNFOLDMENT HISTORIC UNDERTAKING ASSOCIATED CONSTRUCTION SUPERSTRUCTURE BÁB’S SEPULCHRE MOUNT CARMEL PRESENT ADEQUATE MATURITY NINE VIGOROUSLY FUNCTIONING NATIONAL ADMINISTRATIVE INSTITUTIONS THROUGHOUT BAHÁ’Í WORLD COMBINE INDUCE ME ARRIVE THIS HISTORIC DECISION MARKING MOST SIGNIFICANT MILESTONE EVOLUTION ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER FAITH BAHÁ’U’LLÁH COURSE LAST THIRTY YEARS. NASCENT INSTITUTION NOW CREATED INVESTED THREEFOLD FUNCTION FIRST FORGE LINKS AUTHORITIES NEWLY EMERGED STATE SECOND ASSIST ME DISCHARGE RESPONSIBILITIES INVOLVED ERECTION MIGHTY SUPERSTRUCTURE BÁB’S HOLY SHRINE THIRD CONDUCT NEGOTIATIONS RELATED MATTERS PERSONAL STATUS CIVIL AUTHORITIES. TO THESE WILL BE ADDED FURTHER FUNCTIONS COURSE EVOLUTION THIS FIRST EMBRYONIC INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTION MARKING ITS DEVELOPMENT INTO OFFICIALLY RECOGNIZED BAHÁ’Í COURT ITS TRANSFORMATION INTO DULY ELECTED BODY ITS EFFLORESCENCE INTO UNIVERSAL HOUSE JUSTICE ITS FINAL FRUITION THROUGH ERECTION MANIFOLD AUXILIARY INSTITUTIONS CONSTITUTING WORLD ADMINISTRATIVE CENTRE DESTINED ARISE FUNCTION REMAIN PERMANENTLY ESTABLISHED CLOSE NEIGHBOURHOOD TWIN HOLY SHRINES. HAIL THANKFUL JOYOUS HEART LONG LAST CONSTITUTION INTERNATIONAL COUNCIL WHICH HISTORY WILL ACCLAIM GREATEST EVENT SHEDDING LUSTRE SECOND EPOCH FORMATIVE AGE BAHÁ’Í DISPENSATION POTENTIALLY UNSURPASSED ANY ENTERPRISE UNDERTAKEN SINCE INCEPTION ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER FAITH MORROW ‘ABDU’L-BAHÁ’S ASCENSION RANKING SECOND ONLY GLORIOUS IMMORTAL EVENTS ASSOCIATED SUCCESSIVE MINISTRIES THREE CENTRAL FIGURES FAITH COURSE FIRST AGE MOST GLORIOUS DISPENSATION FIVE THOUSAND CENTURY BAHÁ’Í CYCLE.

The Research Department has not, to date, been able to locate a specific statement in the letters of Shoghi Effendi which foreshadowed the possibility that the World Crusade goal of establishing a Bahá’í court in the Holy Land might not be achieved. No doubt, Mr. Bowie is familiar with the Guardian’s more general statements about the rise of secularism and its impact on the ecclesiastical structures of the world’s religions. Given the presence of a number of Hands of the Cause and members of the International Bahá’í Council in Haifa, it seems reasonable to assume that Shoghi Effendi might well have communicated such a view orally.

While the Department failed to locate a statement concerning the possibility of not being able to establish a Bahá’í court in Israel prior to the election of the Universal House of Justice, we note the following statement from a letter dated 20 August 1955 written by Shoghi Effendi. In this passage the Guardian explains the interaction between the Major and Minor Plans of God in relation to the recrudescence of persecutions in Iran and the progress of the Ten Year Crusade in that country:

For though the newly launched world Spiritual Crusade—constituting at best only the Minor Plan in the execution of the Almighty’s design for the redemption of mankind—has, as a result of this turmoil, paralysing temporarily the vast majority of the organized followers of Bahá’u’lláh within His birthplace, suffered a severe set-back, yet the overall Plan of God, moving mysteriously and in contrast to the orderly and well-known processes of a clearly devised Plan, has received an impetus the force of which only posterity can adequately assess.


We refer Mr. Bowie to the following passage from a letter dated 4 May 1953 in which Shoghi Effendi launched the World Crusade. Referred to as a “global, spiritual … crusade”, the Guardian outlined a list of goals to be achieved during the decade-long process. At the end of the list of goals for the Ten Year Crusade, Shoghi Effendi indicated that the achievement of these goals was, of course, conditional upon God’s Divine Plan:

—all, please God, culminating in the convocation of a World Bahá’í Congress, in the vicinity of the Garden of Ridván, in the third holiest city of the Bahá’í world, on the occasion of the world-wide celebrations commemorating the Centenary of the formal assumption by Bahá’u’lláh of His prophetic Office.

It is interesting to note that this theme of the achievement of goals being dependent on the pleasure of God is further underlined in the same letter cited above. Shoghi Effendi, in two separate sections, refers to the goal of convening an Intercontinental Teaching Conference “in the City of Baghdád, on the occasion of the Centenary of the formal assumption by Bahá’u’lláh of His prophetic Office”. As Mr. Bowie is undoubtedly aware, this goal, as well, was not realized due to God’s Divine Plan. The following passage from the same letter is in reference to this particular goal:

The ninth part of this process—the stage we are now entering—is the further diffusion of that same Light over one hundred and thirty-one additional territories and islands in both the Eastern and Western Hemispheres, through the operation of a decade-long world spiritual crusade whose termination will, God willing, coincide with the Most Great Jubilee commemorating the Centenary of the Declaration of Bahá’u’lláh in Baghdád.

With regard to the provisions for the formation of a Bahá’í court in the Holy Land, we attach an extract of an email message dated 25 January 1995 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer. This message provides a summary regarding the underlying principle for the need for a Bahá’í court and gives an explanation for the reasons that the goal of establishing a Bahá’í court “had to be, at least for the time being, abandoned.”

Attachment:

BAHÁ’Í COURT IN THE HOLY LAND
(Extract from an email message dated 25 January 1995 written
on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual)
Your email message of 13 December 1994, concerning the Guardian’s references to the projected formation of a Bahá’í court in the Holy Land, has been received by the Universal House of Justice, and we have been asked to send the following reply.

The idea for a Bahá’í court flows logically from the fact that Bahá’u’lláh revealed laws of personal status, which are meant to be applied by Bahá’í institutions. In the countries of the East, it was common for Islamic, Christian and Jewish courts to apply the religious laws of their respective communities. If the Bahá’í Faith was to achieve the status of recognition referred to by Shoghi Effendi, then it would have to enjoy rights and prerogatives equal to those of its sister religions, including the right to administer and legislate on matters of personal status within its own community. Thus, among the goals of the Ten Year Crusade was the goal of establishing Bahá’í courts in the chief cities of the Islamic East as well as in the Holy Land, countries in which religious communities exercised jurisdiction in matters of personal status. This would prelude the eventual efflorescence of Spiritual Assemblies into Houses of Justice.

Prior to the establishment of the State of Israel, under the British Mandate, the Local Spiritual Assembly of Haifa had been granted recognition and permission to issue marriage certificates. The International Bahá’í Council, formed in 1951 by the Guardian, automatically became vested with this prerogative. For a time, it was thought that the Council might be able to legally assume the functions of a proper independent ecclesiastical court, on par with, say, a Muslim religious court, and free to apply Bahá’í laws on personal status. The functions of the Council in this respect were to have been limited to matters of personal status in regard to the Bahá’ís resident in the Holy Land.

In the course of subsequent investigations made for the Guardian and, after his passing, by the Hands of the Cause and then by the elected International Bahá’í Council, it was noted that the laws of the State of Israel were undergoing basic reform and that there was a trend toward secularization. For example, in August 1953, the Israeli Parliament (Knesset) passed a law restricting the exclusive jurisdiction of Jewish Rabbinical courts in the matter of confirming wills, a jurisdiction they had enjoyed as far back as 1922. There was also, at that time, a trend to take away from the Muslim Sharí‘ah courts some of their jurisdiction in matters of inheritance. Thus, the outlook for an independent Bahá’í court’s being able to function in the Holy Land began to dim, since it appeared that a civil code would gradually supplant the authority of the religious courts.

An additional obstacle concerned the likely necessity for special legislation of the Israeli Knesset in order for the Bahá’ís in Israel to obtain recognition for authority to grant divorces. It was felt that when the authorities would officially take note of the small number of resident Bahá’ís of the World Centre, this could merely prejudice our case, and was consequently to be avoided.

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The conclusion was reached that even if the Bahá’í World Centre obtained from the Israeli authorities the permission to operate some type of a court, on a restricted scale, this would not comply with the Guardian’s standards and requirements, as the Bahá’í court would then be deprived of the status of equality with other ecclesiastical courts in the country, notably the Muslim Shari‘áh courts. This goal of the Crusade was, therefore, alas, considered unattainable.

We trust that this brief explanation will enable you to understand the reasons that the goal of establishing a Bahá’í court had to be, at least for the time being, abandoned. If, at some point in the future, it should become feasible for a Bahá’í court to be established here or elsewhere, the House of Justice will then have to reconsider the matter and decide accordingly. However, at present, it is not possible to foresee where or under what particular circumstances such an eventuality might emerge.

Department of the Secretariat


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