The Universal House of Justice


From the Writings and Letters of Shoghi Effendi


23.1 In this Charter of the future world civilization [the Kitáb-i-Aqdas] its Author—at once the Judge, the Lawgiver, the Unifier and Redeemer of mankind—announces to the kings of the earth the promulgation of the “Most Great Law”.… In it He formally ordains the institution of the “House of Justice,” defines its functions, fixes its revenues, and designates its members as the “Men of Justice,” the “Deputies of God,” the “Trustees of the All-Merciful”....

(God Passes By (Wilmette: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1974, 2019 printing), pp. 338–339)


24.1 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. And when this Supreme Body will have been properly established, it will have to consider afresh the whole situation, and lay down the principle which shall direct, so long as it deems advisable, the affairs of the Cause.

(From a letter dated 12 March 1923 written by Shoghi Effendi, in Bahá’í Administration: Selected Messages, 1922–1932 (Wilmette: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1974), p. 41)


25.1 As to the order and the management of the spiritual affairs of the friends, 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. 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.

(From a letter dated 19 December 1923 written by Shoghi Effendi to the Bahá’ís of the East—translated from the Persian)


26.1 The purpose of so much perpetual and intensive emphasis on the support and consolidation of these Spiritual Assemblies is this—that the foundation of the Cause of God must become broader and stronger day by day, that no confusion ever enter the divine order, that new and strong ties be forged between East and West, that Bahá’í unity be safeguarded and illumine the eyes of the people of the world with its resplendent beauty, so that upon these Assemblies God’s Houses of Justice may be firmly established and upon these secondary Houses of Justice the lofty edifice of the Universal House of Justice may, with complete order, perfection and glory, and with no delay, be raised up. When the Universal House of Justice shall have stepped forth from the realm of hope into that of visible fulfilment and its fame be established in every corner and clime of the world, then that august body—solidly grounded and founded on the firm and unshakeable foundation of the entire Bahá’í community of East and West, and the recipient of the bounties of God and His inspiration—will proceed to devise and carry out important undertakings, world-wide activities and the establishment of glorious institutions. By this means the renown of the Cause of God will become world-wide and its light will illumine the whole earth.

(From a letter dated 1924 written by Shoghi Effendi to the Bahá’ís of the World throughout the East and the West—translated from the Persian)


27.1 Humanity, torn with dissension and burning with hate, is crying at this hour for a fuller measure of that love which is born of God, that love which in the last resort will prove the one solvent of its incalculable difficulties and problems. Is it not incumbent upon us, whose hearts are aglow with love for Him, to make still greater effort, to manifest that love in all its purity and power in our dealings with our fellow-men? May our love for our beloved Master, so ardent, so disinterested in all its aspects, find its true expression in love for our fellow-brethren and sisters in the Faith as well as for all mankind. I assure you, dear friends, that progress in such matters as these is limitless and infinite, and that upon the extent of our achievements along this line, will ultimately depend the success of our mission in life.


27.2 And as we make an effort to demonstrate that love to the world may we also clear our minds of any lingering trace of unhappy misunderstandings that might obscure our clear conception of the exact purpose and methods of this new world order, so challenging and complex, yet so consummate and wise. We are called upon by our beloved Master in His Will and Testament not only to adopt it unreservedly, but to unveil its merit to all the world. To attempt to estimate its full value, and grasp its exact significance after so short a time since its inception would be premature and presumptuous on our part. We must trust to time, and the guidance of God’s Universal House of Justice, to obtain a clearer and fuller understanding of its provisions and implications.

(From a letter dated 23 February 1924 written by Shoghi Effendi, in Bahá’í Administration, p. 62)


28.1 These Spiritual Assemblies have been primarily constituted to carry out these affairs, and secondly to lay a perfect and strong foundation for the establishment of the divine and Universal House of Justice. When that central pivot of the people of Bahá shall be effectively, majestically and firmly established, a new era will dawn, heavenly bounties and graces will pour out from that Source, and the all-encompassing promises will be fulfilled.

(From a letter dated 30 October 1924 written by Shoghi Effendi to the Local Spiritual Assembly of Ṭihrán—translated from the Persian)


29.1 Regarding the method to be adopted for the election of the National Spiritual Assemblies, it is clear that the text of the Beloved’s Testament gives us no indication as to the manner in which these Assemblies are to be elected. In one of His earliest Tablets, however, addressed to a friend in Persia, the following is expressly recorded:


29.2 “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 Baytu’l-‘Adl (Universal House of Justice)”.


29.3 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 Houses of Justice (i.e. National Assemblies) must elect the members 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. In view of these complementary instructions the principle, set forth in my letter of March 12th, 1923, has been established requiring the believers (the beloved of God) in every country to elect a certain number of delegates who in turn will elect their national representatives (Secondary House of Justice or National Spiritual Assembly), whose sacred obligation and privilege will be to elect in time God’s Universal House of Justice.

(From a letter dated 12 May 1925 written by Shoghi Effendi, in Bahá’í Administration, p. 84)


30.1 Erelong, by the leave of our Lord, the Most Glorious, the veil shall be lifted from the face of His most mighty Law, and the balance of His wondrous constitution—the foundation of His most noble, lofty, and mighty House of Justice—shall be set in this holy, blessed, and snow-white Spot, the Centre round which circle all created things. Blessed be God, the Author of this wondrous Cause! Blessed be God, the Originator of this brilliant and refulgent Light! Blessed be God, the Founder of this lofty Edifice1 in that distant region2—a land wherein shall be reflected the effulgences of the gathering-places of Heaven and the lights of the sanctuaries of the Kingdom! Magnified, then, be our Lord, the Succourer, the All-Powerful, the Most Glorious!

(From a letter dated November 1927 to the Bahá’ís of the East—translated from the Persian)


31.1 Your questions as regards those spiritual ordinances which should characterize a Bahá’í life individually and collectively: Shoghi Effendi says that for an answer to these we must await the formation of the International House of Justice. They are matters of importance in some ways and we must not bind them by establishing definite precedents from now.

(From a letter dated 26 April 1928 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)


32.1 It should be carefully borne in mind that the local as well as the international Houses of Justice have been expressly enjoined by the Kitáb-i-Aqdas; that the institution of the National Spiritual Assembly, as an intermediary body, and referred to in the Master’s Will as the “Secondary House of Justice,” has the express sanction of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá; and that the method to be pursued for the election of the International and National Houses of Justice has been set forth by Him in His Will, as well as in a number of His Tablets. Moreover, the institutions of the local and national Funds, that are now the necessary adjuncts to all local and national spiritual assemblies, have not only been established by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in the Tablets He revealed to the Bahá’ís of the Orient, but their importance and necessity have been repeatedly emphasized by Him in His utterances and writings. The concentration of authority in the hands of the elected representatives of the believers; the necessity of the submission of every adherent of the Faith to the considered judgment of Bahá’í Assemblies; His preference for unanimity in decision; the decisive character of the majority vote; and even the desirability for the exercise of close supervision over all Bahá’í publications, have been sedulously instilled by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, as evidenced by His authenticated and widely-scattered Tablets. To accept His broad and humanitarian Teachings on one hand, and to reject and dismiss with neglectful indifference His more challenging and distinguishing precepts, would be an act of manifest disloyalty to that which He has cherished most in His life.


32.2 That the Spiritual Assemblies of today will be replaced in time by the Houses of Justice, and are to all intents and purposes identical and not separate bodies, is abundantly confirmed by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá Himself. He has in fact in a Tablet addressed to the members of the first Chicago Spiritual Assembly, the first elected Bahá’í body instituted in the United States, referred to them as the members of the “House of Justice” for that city, and has thus with His own pen established beyond any doubt the identity of the present Bahá’í Spiritual Assemblies with the Houses of Justice referred to by Bahá’u’lláh. For reasons which are not difficult to discover, it has been found advisable to bestow upon the elected representatives of Bahá’í communities throughout the world the temporary appellation of Spiritual Assemblies, a term which, as the position and aims of the Bahá’í Faith are better understood and more fully recognized, will gradually be superseded by the permanent and more appropriate designation of House of Justice. Not only will the present-day Spiritual Assemblies be styled differently in future, but they will be enabled also to add to their present functions those powers, duties, and prerogatives necessitated by the recognition of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh, not merely as one of the recognized religious systems of the world, but as the State Religion of an independent and Sovereign Power. And 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, will the Universal House of Justice 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 superstate.


32.3 It must be pointed out, however, in this connection that, contrary to what has been confidently asserted, the establishment of the Supreme House of Justice is in no way dependent upon the adoption of the Bahá’í Faith by the mass of the peoples of the world, nor does it presuppose its acceptance by the majority of the inhabitants of any one country. In fact, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Himself, in one of His earliest Tablets, 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. It will be evident, therefore, that 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, in accordance with the guiding principles laid down in ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s writings, the only remaining obstacle in the way of the definite formation of the International House of Justice will have been removed. 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. Not until they are themselves fully representative of the rank and file of the believers in their respective countries, not until they have acquired the weight and the experience that will enable them to function vigorously in the organic life of the Cause, can they approach their sacred task, and provide the spiritual basis for the constitution of so august a body in the Bahá’í world.


32.4 It must be also clearly understood by every believer that the institution of Guardianship does not under any circumstances abrogate, or even in the slightest degree detract from, the powers granted to the Universal House of Justice by Bahá’u’lláh in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, and repeatedly and solemnly confirmed by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in His Will. It does not constitute in any manner a contradiction to the Will and Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, nor does it nullify any of His revealed instructions. It enhances the prestige of that exalted assembly, stabilizes its supreme position, safeguards its unity, assures the continuity of its labors, without presuming in the slightest to infringe upon the inviolability of its clearly-defined sphere of jurisdiction. We stand indeed too close to so monumental a document to claim for ourselves a complete understanding of all its implications, or to presume to have grasped the manifold mysteries it undoubtedly contains. Only future generations can comprehend the value and the significance attached to this Divine Masterpiece, which the hand of the Master-builder of the world has designed for the unification and the triumph of the world-wide Faith of Bahá’u’lláh. Only those who come after us will be in a position to realize the value of the surprisingly strong emphasis that has been placed on the institution of the House of Justice and of the Guardianship.

(From a letter dated 27 February 1929 written by Shoghi Effendi, in The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh: Selected Letters (Wilmette: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1938, 1991 printing), pp. 5–8)


33.1 The National Spiritual Assemblies, like unto pillars, will be gradually and firmly established in every country on the strong and fortified foundations of the Local Assemblies. On these pillars, 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....


33.2 In these days the things that are regarded as the most imperative of all and upon which will depend the development of the Cause of God, the enhancement of its position and prestige and the promulgation of the laws of His Faith, are but two momentous tasks: first, to expedite preparations for the formation of the divinely ordained, the Supreme House of Justice; second, to complete the construction of the Temple in the United States…


33.3 … Thus, after the formation of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the sacred land of Iran—which, in the Will and Testament, is designated a “secondary House of Justice”—general instructions regarding the ultimate international Bahá’í election, which will result in the formation of the Universal House of Justice, would, according to the principles and teachings embodied in His Tablets and His Will and Testament, be sent directly from this land to all Bahá’í centres, in every country and territory in the East and West of the Bahá’í world. Thereupon will the hopes of the people of Bahá be realized, and that which our Master commanded and enjoined upon us in His Writings and His Will and Testament be fulfilled. Then will the Throne of Bahá’u’lláh’s sovereignty be founded in the promised land and the scales of justice be raised on high. Then will the banner of the independence of the Faith be unfurled, and His Most Great Law be unveiled and rivers of laws and ordinances stream forth from this snow-white spot with all-conquering power and awe-inspiring majesty, the like of which past ages have never seen. Then will appear the truth of what was revealed by the Tongue of Grandeur: “Call out to Zion, O Carmel, and announce the joyful tidings: He that was hidden from mortal eyes is come! His all-conquering sovereignty is manifest; His all-encompassing splendour is revealed.” “… O Carmel.... Well is it with him that circleth around thee, that proclaimeth the revelation of thy glory, and recounteth that which the bounty of the Lord thy God hath showered upon thee.... Ere long will God sail His Ark upon thee, and will manifest the people of Bahá who have been mentioned in the Book of Names.” O beloved of God! The appointment of the Hands of the Cause of God, the enforcement of the sacred laws of His Faith, the enactment of legislation deriving from the explicit text of His Book, the convocation of the international convention of the followers of the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh, and the formation of ties between the Bahá’í community and divers scientific, literary, religious and social agencies are, one and all, dependent and conditioned upon the formation and establishment of the Universal House of Justice in the Holy Land in the vicinity of those lofty, resplendent and most exalted precincts. For this Supreme Institution is the wellspring of the actions and undertakings of all the Bahá’ís, and the source of help and assistance for this feeble servant. Through that body will the hopes of the people of Bahá be fulfilled. Through it the pillars of the Faith on this earth will be firmly established and its hidden powers be revealed, its signs shine forth, its banners be unfurled and its light be shed upon all peoples.

(From a letter dated 27 November 1929 written by Shoghi Effendi to the Bahá’ís of the East—translated from the Arabic and Persian)


34.1 For Bahá’u’lláh, we should readily recognize, has not only imbued mankind with a new and regenerating Spirit. He has not merely enunciated certain universal principles, or propounded a particular philosophy, however potent, sound and universal these may be. In addition to these He, as well as ‘Abdu’l-Bahá after Him, has, unlike the Dispensations of the past, clearly and specifically laid down a set of Laws, established definite institutions, and provided for the essentials of a Divine Economy. These are destined to be a pattern for future society, a supreme instrument for the establishment of the Most Great Peace, and the one agency for the unification of the world, and the proclamation of the reign of righteousness and justice upon the earth. Not only have they revealed all the directions required for the practical realization of those ideals which the Prophets of God have visualized, and which from time immemorial have inflamed the imagination of seers and poets in every age. They have also, in unequivocal and emphatic language, appointed those twin institutions of the House of Justice and of the Guardianship as their chosen Successors, destined 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.…


34.2 In the Muḥammadan Revelation, however, although His Faith as compared with that of Christ was, so far as the administration of His Dispensation is concerned, more complete and more specific in its provisions, yet in the matter of succession, it gave no written, no binding and conclusive instructions to those whose mission was to propagate His Cause. For the text of the Qur’án, the ordinances of which regarding prayer, fasting, marriage, divorce, inheritance, pilgrimage, and the like, have after the revolution of thirteen hundred years remained intact and operative, gives no definite guidance regarding the Law of Succession, the source of all the dissensions, the controversies, and schisms which have dismembered and discredited Islám.


34.3 Not so with the Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh. Unlike the Dispensation of Christ, unlike the Dispensation of Muḥammad, unlike all the Dispensations of the past, the apostles of Bahá’u’lláh in every land, wherever they labor and toil, have before them in clear, in unequivocal and emphatic language, all the laws, the regulations, the principles, the institutions, the guidance, they require for the prosecution and consummation of their task. Both in the administrative provisions of the Bahá’í Dispensation, and in the matter of succession, as embodied in the twin institutions of the House of Justice and of the Guardianship, the followers of Bahá’u’lláh can summon to their aid such irrefutable evidences of Divine Guidance that none can resist, that none can belittle or ignore. Therein lies the distinguishing feature of the Bahá’í Revelation. Therein lies the strength of the unity of the Faith, of the validity of a Revelation that claims not to destroy or belittle previous Revelations, but to connect, unify, and fulfill them. This is the reason why Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá have both revealed and even insisted upon certain details in connection with the Divine Economy which they have bequeathed to us, their followers. This is why such an emphasis has been placed in their Will and Testament upon the powers and prerogatives of the ministers of their Faith.


34.4 For nothing short of the explicit directions of their Book, and the surprisingly emphatic language with which they have clothed the provisions of their Will, could possibly safeguard the Faith for which they have both so gloriously labored all their lives. Nothing short of this could protect it from the heresies and calumnies with which denominations, peoples, and governments have endeavored, and will, with increasing vigor, endeavor to assail it in future.


34.5 We should also bear in mind that the distinguishing character of the Bahá’í Revelation does not solely consist in the completeness and unquestionable validity of the Dispensation which the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá have established. Its excellence lies also in the fact that those elements which in past Dispensations have, without the least authority from their Founders, been a source of corruption and of incalculable harm to the Faith of God, have been strictly excluded by the clear text of Bahá’u’lláh’s writings. Those unwarranted practices, in connection with the sacrament of baptism, of communion, of confession of sins, of asceticism, of priestly domination, of elaborate ceremonials, of holy war and of polygamy, have one and all been rigidly suppressed by the Pen of Bahá’u’lláh; whilst the rigidity and rigor of certain observances, such as fasting, which are necessary to the devotional life of the individual, have been considerably abated.

(From a letter dated 21 March 1930 written by Shoghi Effendi, in The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh, pp. 19–22)


35.1 Our present generation, mainly due to the corruptions that have been identified with organizations, seem to stand against any institution. Religion as an institution is denounced. Government as an institution is denounced. Even marriage as an institution is denounced. We Bahá’ís should not be blinded by such prevalent notions. If such were the case, all the divine Manifestations would not have invariably appointed someone to succeed Them. Undoubtedly corruptions did enter those institutions, but these corruptions were not due to the very nature of the institutions but to the lack of proper directions as to their powers and nature of their perpetuation. What Bahá’u’lláh has done is not to eliminate all institutions in the Cause but to provide the necessary safeguards that would eliminate corruptions that caused the fall of previous institutions. What those safeguards are is most interesting to study and find out and also most essential to know. In a letter that Shoghi Effendi has lately written to the friends in the West, he mentions the distinguishing features of the institution that Bahá’u’lláh has left as well as some of the safeguards that He has provided against its corruption. One of the main things we boast about is that whereas previous religions were more or less static in their nature the Bahá’í teachings are progressive. Now, how could this progressive tendency be maintained without an institution such as the Guardianship and the House of Justice, who are empowered to legislate upon matters not referred to by Bahá’u’lláh?

(From a letter dated 25 March 1930 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)


36.1 You asked regarding the status of the different governments when the House of Justice will be established: this is not fully explained in the teachings, and what is not definitely provided for, it is for the House of Justice to legislate upon once that body is formed.

(From a letter dated 12 January 1933 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)


37.1 The House of Justice, according to the explicit text of the Aqdas, has no right to change any law, regulation or ordinance that has been revealed either in the Aqdas or in any other Tablet from the Pen of Bahá’u’lláh. It can alter its own regulations and laws but never those revealed by the Founder of the Faith.

(From a letter dated 17 June 1933 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)


38.1 In the Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh where the institutions of the International and Local Houses of Justice are specifically designated and formally established; in the institution of the Hands of the Cause of God which first Bahá’u’lláh and then ‘Abdu’l-Bahá brought into being; in the institution of both local and national Assemblies which in their embryonic stage were already functioning in the days preceding ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s ascension; in the authority with which the Author of our Faith and the Center of His Covenant have in their Tablets chosen to confer upon them; in the institution of the Local Fund which operated according to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s specific injunctions addressed to certain Assemblies in Persia; in the verses of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas the implications of which clearly anticipate the institution of the Guardianship; in the explanation which ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, in one of His Tablets, has given to, and the emphasis He has placed upon, the hereditary principle and the law of primogeniture as having been upheld by the Prophets of the past—in these we can discern the faint glimmerings and discover the earliest intimation of the nature and working of the Administrative Order which the Will of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was at a later time destined to proclaim and formally establish.


38.2 An attempt, I feel, should at the present juncture be made to explain the character and functions of the twin pillars that support this mighty Administrative Structure—the institutions of the Guardianship and of the Universal House of Justice. To describe in their entirety the diverse elements that function in conjunction with these institutions is beyond the scope and purpose of this general exposition of the fundamental verities of the Faith. To define with accuracy and minuteness the features, and to analyze exhaustively the nature of the relationships which, on the one hand, bind together these two fundamental organs of the Will of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and connect, on the other, each of them to the Author of the Faith and the Center of His Covenant is a task which future generations will no doubt adequately fulfill. My present intention is to elaborate certain salient features of this scheme which, however close we may stand to its colossal structure, are already so clearly defined that we find it inexcusable to either misconceive or ignore.


38.3 It should be stated, at the very outset, in clear and unambiguous language, that these twin institutions of the Administrative Order of Bahá’u’lláh should be regarded as divine in origin, essential in their functions and complementary in their aim and purpose. Their common, their fundamental object is 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. Acting in conjunction with each other these two inseparable institutions administer its affairs, coördinate its activities, promote its interests, execute its laws and defend its subsidiary institutions. Severally, each operates within a clearly defined sphere of jurisdiction; each is equipped with its own attendant institutions—instruments designed for the effective discharge of its particular responsibilities and duties. Each exercises, within the limitations imposed upon it, its powers, its authority, its rights and prerogatives. These are neither contradictory, nor detract in the slightest degree from the position which each of these institutions occupies. Far from being incompatible or mutually destructive, they supplement each other’s authority and functions, and are permanently and fundamentally united in their aims.


38.4 Divorced from the institution of the Guardianship the World Order of Bahá’u’lláh would be mutilated and permanently deprived of that hereditary principle which, as ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has written, has been invariably upheld by the Law of God. “In all the Divine Dispensations,” He states, in a Tablet addressed to a follower of the Faith in Persia, “the eldest son hath been given extraordinary distinctions. Even the station of prophethood hath been his birthright.” Without such an institution the integrity of the Faith would be imperiled, and the stability of the entire fabric would be gravely endangered. Its prestige would suffer, the means required to enable it to take a long, an uninterrupted view over a series of generations would be completely lacking, and the necessary guidance to define the sphere of the legislative action of its elected representatives would be totally withdrawn.


38.5 Severed from the no less essential institution of the Universal House of Justice this same System of the Will of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá would be paralyzed in its action and would be powerless to fill in those gaps which the Author of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas has deliberately left in the body of His legislative and administrative ordinances.

(From a letter dated 8 February 1934 written by Shoghi Effendi, in The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh, pp. 147–148)


39.1 The Administrative Order of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh must in no wise be regarded as purely democratic in character inasmuch as the basic assumption which requires all democracies to depend fundamentally upon getting their mandate from the people is altogether lacking in this Dispensation. In the conduct of the administrative affairs of the Faith, in the enactment of the legislation necessary to supplement the laws of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, the members of the Universal House of Justice, it should be borne in mind, are not, as Bahá’u’lláh’s utterances clearly imply, responsible to those whom they represent, nor are they allowed to be governed by the feelings, the general opinion, and even the convictions of the mass of the faithful, or of those who directly elect them. They are to follow, in a prayerful attitude, the dictates and promptings of their conscience. They may, indeed they must, acquaint themselves with the conditions prevailing among the community, must weigh dispassionately in their minds the merits of any case presented for their consideration, but must reserve for themselves the right of an unfettered decision. “God will verily inspire them with whatsoever He willeth,” is Bahá’u’lláh’s incontrovertible assurance. They, and not the body of those who either directly or indirectly elect them, have thus been made the recipients of the divine guidance which is at once the life-blood and ultimate safeguard of this Revelation.

(From a letter dated 8 February 1934 written by Shoghi Effendi, in The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 153)


40.1 But, at present—and to this the Guardian wishes to draw your careful attention—no Assembly nor even he himself can have the right of enacting any law supplementing those of the Aqdas except in exceptional circumstances when the Authorities require it. And even in such a case the enactment is purely temporary. The only body which is empowered to legislate in such matters is the International House of Justice, and the Guardian can take part in such legislation only in his capacity as a member of that body. Just as the power of interpreting the Writings is the sole right and prerogative of the Guardian, so also the power of legislation has been invested by Bahá’u’lláh solely in the International House of Justice. Thus there is a clear distinction between the powers of legislation and interpretation, though the two are closely related.

(From a letter dated 6 July 1935 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)


41.1 Of these spiritual prerequisites of success, which constitute the bedrock on which the security of all teaching plans, Temple projects, and financial schemes, must ultimately rest, the following stand out as preeminent and vital.... These requirements are none other than a high sense of moral rectitude in their social and administrative activities, absolute chastity in their individual lives, and complete freedom from prejudice in their dealings with peoples of a different race, class, creed, or color.


41.2 The first is specially, though not exclusively, directed to their elected representatives, whether local, regional, or national, who, in their capacity as the custodians and members of the nascent institutions of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh, are shouldering the chief responsibility in laying an unassailable foundation for that Universal House of Justice which, as its title implies, 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.

(From a letter dated 25 December 1938 written by Shoghi Effendi, The Advent of Divine Justice (Wilmette: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 2006, 2018 printing), pp. 32–33)


42.1 In the plain of ‘Akká is the blessed and hallowed Sanctuary of the Most Holy Abhá Beauty, the Centre round which circle the Concourse on high, the Qiblih of the people of Bahá and dwellers of the Crimson Ark, the Heart of the world, and the Kaaba of all nations. And on Mount Carmel are the twin sacred and exalted Shrines, the sanctified throne of His Holiness the Primal Point, and the illumined remains of Him round Whom all names revolve—the Dayspring of Lights, the Retreat of Mysteries, the Source of abounding Grace upon mankind. Around these three sacred resting-places—the tombs of the Scion of Bahá and His Remnant,3 and of the twin Divine trusts, the glorious Purest Branch and the Mother of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá—the administrative centre of the community of the people of Bahá will, hereafter, gradually be instituted. Close by those Shrines the pillars of the Tribunal of Divine Justice will be erected, the Universal House of Justice will be established, and the edifice of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár of the Holy Land will be upraised, while in the sheltering shadow of these twin spiritual Centres of the people of God4 the august undertakings and international administrative, scientific, and social institutions of the Bahá’í Faith will take form, the throne of the Kingdom of God will be established, the standard “Yá Bahá’u’l-Abhá” will be planted upon the loftiest peaks, and the thunderous peal of the oneness of humanity will be sounded. Then shall be fulfilled that which was revealed in the Tablet of Carmel by the all-glorious and resplendent Pen: “Ere long will God sail His Ark upon thee, and will manifest the people of Bahá who have been mentioned in the Book of Names.”

(From a letter dated 25 December 1939 written by Shoghi Effendi to the Bahá’ís of the East—translated from the Persian)


43.1 The membership of the Universal House of Justice is confined to men. Fixing the number of the members, the procedures for election and the term of membership will be known later, as these are not explicitly revealed in the Holy Text.

(From a letter dated 27 May 1940 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)


44.1 No body can add to the laws of the Bahá’í Dispensation except the International House of Justice. The National Assemblies merely formulate at present methods of procedure to facilitate the functioning of the Administrative Order and ensure efficient conduct of the affairs of the Cause within their jurisdiction. These can always be revoked or modified whenever they have outworn their usefulness or another method would be more effective.

(From a letter dated 19 December 1943 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to two believers)


45.1 There are only two institutions which are infallible, one is the Guardianship, the other the International House of Justice.

(From a letter dated 19 October 1947 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)


46.1 First, let me say that one of the reasons God has given us the Institution of Guardianship is to prevent men from crystallizing the Cause of God into a rigid system. Your questions are mostly along the line of trying to lay down a fixed pattern for future society, long before the time for such a pattern is ripe. Remember that Bahá’u’lláh says what is not already revealed, the International House of Justice must in the future legislate, and it can make, and abrogate if necessary, its own laws. This means not fixity in guiding society, but fluidity!

(From a letter dated 31 March 1949 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)


47.1 Fervently praying the participation of British, American, Persian, and Egyptian National Assemblies in unique, epoch-making enterprise in African continent may prove prelude to convocation of first African Teaching Conference leading eventually to initiation of undertakings involving collaboration among all national assemblies of Bahá’í world, thereby paving way to ultimate organic union of these assemblies through formation of International House of Justice destined to launch enterprises embracing whole Bahá’í world. Acclaim simultaneous inauguration of crusade linking administrative machinery of four national assemblies of East and West within four continents and birth of first International Council at World Center of Faith, twin evidences of resistless unfoldment of embryonic, divinely appointed World Order of Bahá’u’lláh.

(From a cable dated 17 January 1951 written by Shoghi Effendi, in Citadel of Faith: Messages to America 1947–1957 (Wilmette: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1965, 2014 printing), p. 90)


48.1 On the success of this enterprise, unprecedented in its scope, unique in its character and immense in its spiritual potentialities, must depend the initiation, at a later period in the Formative Age of the Faith, of undertakings embracing within their range all National Assemblies functioning throughout the Bahá’í world—undertakings constituting in themselves a prelude to the launching of world-wide enterprises destined to be embarked upon, in future epochs of that same Age, by the Universal House of Justice, that will symbolize the unity and co-ordinate and unify the activities of these National Assemblies.

(From a postscript by Shoghi Effendi appended to a letter dated 25 February 1951 written on his behalf to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles)


49.1 In this great Tablet [of Carmel] which unveils divine mysteries and heralds the establishment of two mighty, majestic and momentous undertakings—one of which is spiritual and the other administrative, both at the World Centre of the Faith—Bahá’u’lláh refers to an “Ark”, whose dwellers are the men of the Supreme House of Justice, which, in conformity with the exact provisions of the Will and Testament of the Centre of the Mighty Covenant, is the body which should lay down laws not explicitly revealed in the Text. In this Dispensation, these laws are destined to flow from this Holy Mountain, even as in the Mosaic Dispensation the law of God was promulgated from Zion. The “sailing of the Ark” of His laws is a reference to the establishment of the Universal House of Justice, which is indeed the Seat of Legislation, one of the branches of the World Administrative Centre of the Bahá’ís on this Holy Mountain.

(From a letter dated 21 March 1954 written by Shoghi Effendi to the Bahá’ís of the East—translated from the Persian)


50.1 O ye loved ones of Bahá! This day is your day and this hour is indeed your hour. That which is imperative in this day and which will, like unto a magnet, attract the confirmations of God is this, that a large number of believers, men and women, young and old, rich and poor, learned and unlettered, white and black alike, bestir themselves for the triumph of His exalted Faith. Galvanized by a spirit of love and courage, they must, one and all, arise even as a single legion, and in the course of the remaining nine years scatter far and wide over the surface of the globe. “With the feet of detachment,” as the Ancient Beauty admonishes, must they “tread under all who are in heaven and on earth” and “cast the sleeve of holiness over all that have been created from water and clay.” With hearts detached, spirits unencumbered, souls enkindled, resolve unflinching and steps unwavering, they must strive day and night to extend the reach of the Cause of God, to diffuse its sweet savours, to consolidate its foundations, to noise abroad its fame and to multiply the ranks of its adherents. Raising the call of “Yá Bahá’u’l-Abhá!” they must rush forth to the virgin territories and newly opened localities and, putting their whole trust in God, establish isolated centres, which may be likened to “points”. They must, through their efforts to teach and guide the people by words and deeds, transform these isolated centres, as soon as feasible, into groups, which are like unto “letters”. They must then develop these groups into Local Spiritual Assemblies, which are like unto complete “words”, and continually endeavour to increase the number of these Assemblies in various countries so that the means for the befitting convocation of National Conventions can be gradually prepared, National Spiritual Assemblies, which are like unto manifest “verses”, the pillars of the Throne of Divine Justice, can be systematically erected, and upon these pillars can be raised the dome of the divine Edifice, the Universal House of Justice, which is like unto the lucid “book”, established in its designated seat on the slopes of the Vineyard of the Lord upon His holy Mountain, adorning the institutions of His New World Order with the crown of supreme distinction.

(From a letter dated 21 March 1954 written by Shoghi Effendi to the Bahá’ís of the East—translated from the Persian)

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