House members to increase?

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House members to increase?

Postby Keyvan » Thu Mar 11, 2010 10:52 pm

I just watched this video on youtube

In it, someone asked Mr. Nakhjavani if the number of House members would increase in the future. He says that it is possible, and that it is up to when the Universal House of Justice is guided that the time is right.

He says that it is suggested in the Aqdas, and that there is even a published talk by Abdu'l Baha when he even refers to the membership as 19 members.

I have never heard of this before watching this video and am having a tough time finding confirming sources, let alone the Aqdas quote and the Abdu'l Baha talk Jenab'eh Nakhavani mentioned.

Does anyone else know?

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Re: House members to increase?

Postby brettz9 » Fri Mar 12, 2010 2:44 am

"The Lord hath ordained that in every city a House of Justice be established wherein shall gather counsellors to the number of Bahá, and should it exceed this number it doth not matter."

(Kitáb-i-Aqdas, paragraph 30)

and its note:

"The abjad numerical equivalent of "Bahá" is nine. The Universal House of Justice and the National and Local Spiritual Assemblies currently have nine members each, the minimum number prescribed by Bahá'u'lláh."

(Kitáb-i-Aqdas, note 50)

...seem they may suggest this possibility, even though the context is only for Local Houses of Justice. The Constitution of the Universal House of Justice states nine members, but they have the right to amend it. I don't personally remember seeing any translated Tablet of 'Abdu'l-Baha referring to 19 members, though maybe 'Abdu'l-Baha saying "...this Universal House of Justice which is the Legislature..." (at ... b/187.html ) could somewhat be taken to suggest a larger number may be added.

Let us know if you find anything else...

best wishes,

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Re: House members to increase?

Postby BruceDLimber » Fri Mar 12, 2010 8:32 am

Greetings! :-)

While it's true that the Writings do permit the size of elected bodies to be increased, I do hope they'll remember Parkinson's Law about how small bodies tend to be far more efficient in their operation than larger ones!

Best regards,


Sen McGlinn
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Re: House members to increase?

Postby Sen McGlinn » Fri Mar 12, 2010 2:17 pm

In addition to what is stated in the Aqdas, there are pilgrims' notes of Ali Kuli Khan in 1906 in which Abdu'l-Baha is said to have said that number could go up in multiples of nine, for example to 81. Naturally one must not put any weight on the exact wording here, but the multiples of nine idea does match with Shoghi Effendi's practice in appointing the Hands in multiples of nine.

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Re: House members to increase?

Postby onepence~2 » Sat Mar 13, 2010 10:45 am

the following is a somewhat interesting article in which explains certain things in a numerological sense.

First, I would note that the significance of 19 as a mystical representation of physical creation and of divine "revelation" is not based upon some superstitious magical notion. In some strands of Islamic mysticism, the entire Qur'an (or Koran) is believed to be enfolded in the first chapter of that book. That first chapter is likewise believed to be contained in the first verse. The first verse - bismi'llah al-rahman al-rahim "In the Name of God, the Beneficent, the Merciful!" - is composed of 19 letters in Arabic. That first verse is believed to be contained in the letter "B" ( ) at the beginning of the verse, and that letter "B" is believed to be contained in the dot or point beneath the letter. The mystical significance is that the initial "B", the "19 letters of the first verse", the first chapter, and the entire Qur'an were generated from the first point. In the realm of physical creation, the universe began from a single point, generating all the galaxies, stars, solar systems and living organisms. In the realm of spiritual creation, the unknowable divine reality we term God created a first will from which all things were created; the embodiments of that divine will are the inspired personages known as Messengers, Prophets or Manifestations of God, who generate holy books and civilizations, transforming societies according to new principles. The Bab (the "Gate", 1819-1850), was titled "the Primal Point," in honor of that point from which the universe and the Qur'an were generated. I can think of no better illustration of the Baha'i principle of the harmony of true science and true religion than this notion of all created things emerging from a single point. It accords with scientific understanding, and it has a powerful symbolic significance in religious terms.

Mr. Gardner gives a somewhat distorted significance to Baha'i numerological symbolism that very few Baha'is would even recognize. The use of the number 9 is often believed by many non-Baha'is, and some Baha'is, to stand for 9 Manifestations of God (as Mr. Gardner states on p. 18 of his article). In fact, its significance is that 9 is the highest single digit in the decimal system, and thus is seen by Baha'is to "contain" all the other digits. It is a useful metaphor for universality and unity. It is also the numerical equivalent to Baha'u'llah's name in the Arabic system of letter-for-number symbolism.

It is true, as Mr. Gardner notes, that the Baha'i community has nine-member elected institutions at the local, national and international levels. It should be noted, however, that Baha'u'llah has made nine the minimum number of members of these institutions, but they can (and probably will in time) have more members. There is no dogmatic adherence to the membership level of nine. The international council, called the Universal House of Justice, is elected by the members of the National Spiritual Assemblies, of which there are currently 175. The Universal House of Justice has never been elected by a body of 27 "custodians." These "custodians", who were termed Hands of the Cause of God, guided the Baha'i community from 1957 to 1963, between the death of Shoghi Effendi (Guardian of the Baha'i Faith), and the election of the Universal House of Justice. There happened to be 27 of them at the time of the death of Shoghi Effendi, but when the Universal House of Justice was elected, there were fewer.

The calendar devised by the Bab was indeed complex, and numerologically rich. Baha'is confine their use of the calendar to the 19-month annual cycle, with four intercalary days (five in leap years). The other cycles of years and mutiples of years are simply not significant in modern Baha'i usage. Years have cardinal numbers (the current year beginning 21 March 1997 is 154). The Bab stated specifically that his entire religious culture was intended to signify the identity of the expected Messenger. Thus the inclusion of references to 9 and 19 were not so much talismanic or ritualistic or superstitious as they were simply intended to indicate the identity of Baha'u'llah.

perhaps more later,
but for some the idea is quite clear

witness that a caterpillar turns into a butterfly

Let nothing grieve thee, O Land of Ta (Tihran), for God hath chosen thee to be the source of the joy of all mankind. He shall, if it be His Will, bless thy throne with one who will rule with justice, who will gather together the flock of God which the wolves have scattered. Such a ruler will, with joy and gladness, turn his face towards, and extend his favors unto, the people of Baha. He indeed is accounted in the sight of God as a jewel among men. Upon him rest forever the glory of God, and the glory of all that dwell in the kingdom of His revelation.

Rejoice with great joy, for God hath made thee "the Day Spring of His light," inasmuch as within thee was born the Manifestation of His Glory. Be thou glad for this name that hath been conferred upon thee -- a name through which the Day Star of grace hath shed its splendor, through which both earth and heaven have been illumined.

Ere long will the state of affairs within thee be changed, and the reins of power fall into the hands of the people. Verily, thy Lord is the All-Knowing. His authority embraceth all things. Rest thou assured in the gracious favor of thy Lord. The eye of His loving-kindness shall everlastingly be directed towards thee. The day is approaching when thy agitation will have been transmuted into peace and quiet calm. Thus hath it been decreed in the wondrous Book.

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Re: House members to increase?

Postby Keyvan » Sun Mar 14, 2010 1:36 am

Thanks Brett, I knew there was something obvious in the Aqdas that I just kept overlooking.

Bruce, while I agree with your sentiment in general when talking about government, there are a few differences here.

I think there is a great benefit to eventually increasing the size of the House of Justice as the Faith expands in every sense. At that stage of ultimate growth, virtually every issue in the world will come to their desk, so to further distribute the busywork, before discussion and votes can be made, would be most beneficial. I don't know if that could lead to systems of committees and sub-committees as parliaments and congresses around the world currently have it (though that's intriguing) before it going to general vote, but even just for individual members to spread their eyes and ears in different corners would be most beneficial.

Secondly, it would also help with diversity of information in terms of the members background. With so many cultures around the world, to get representation from more than just 9 corners of it could be helpful. Although, in general I don't think thats something that particularly needs to be emphasized. The Guidance is Divine, it doesn't come from the minds of men no matter who they are or where they come from so those things shouldn't matter either way.

Also, we can probably take as a given that the terrible conflicts of having larger governing bodies of the world today that slow down progress will also be protected as the members would not be separated by divergent ideologies or parties - rather their only credo are the Writings themselves, and their agenda is guided by the Tablets of the Divine Plan and the expressed vision of the Guardian pertaining thereto.

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Re: House members to increase?

Postby pilgrimbrent » Tue Mar 30, 2010 10:05 pm

My recollection is that I heard that there is room in the present Seat of the Universal House of Justice for 19 offices, should the number of House members increase. My memory may be faulty here.

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