Lights of Guidance is a Bahá’í reference covering an exhaustive range of topics.

Lights of Guidance

A Bahá'í Reference File


Bahá'u'lláh, Abdu'l-Bahá, Shoghi Effendi, and Universal House of Justice

compiled by Helen Hornby

Copyright 1994 National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Ecuador


A. Administrative Order

1. Established First in America — Not American Production

“The Administrative Order of the Cause, though first established in America, copied as a model by other national Bahá’í communities, is not an American production, but is a universal system based on the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh. It is not simply by coincidence however that it was first initiated and perfected by the American believers.”

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 29, 1938: Dawn of a New Day, p. 202)

2. Cannot be Identified with Principles of Present-Day Democracies

“… The administrative order which lies embedded in the Teachings of Bahá’u’lláh, and which the American believers have championed and are now establishing, should, under no circumstances, be identified with the principles underlying present-day democracies. Nor is it identical with any purely aristocratic or autocratic form of government. The objectionable features inherent in each of these political systems are entirely avoided. It blends, as no system of human polity has as yet achieved, those salutary truths and beneficial elements which constitute the valuable contributions which each of these forms of government have made to society in the past ….”

(Postscript written by the Guardian to a letter written on his behalf to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, November 18, 1933: The National Spiritual Assembly, p. 26)

B. Bahá’í Administration

3. The Ideal Instrument to Make Spiritual Laws Function Properly

“He hopes you will devote as much of your spare time as possible to the work of the Cause, especially in impressing upon the believers the importance of the Administration and helping them to really understand its purpose and all it can achieve once they get it to function properly. In other words it is a perfect form which must be animated by the spirit of the Cause. It is the ideal instrument to make spiritual laws function properly in the material affairs of this world.”

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, June 16, 1945)

4. Purpose of Administration

“Your letter of October 19, 1973 giving a comprehensive survey of developments throughout Australia is of great interest and we commend you on your manifold efforts to promote the Faith throughout that vast continent.” pg 2 “We urge you ever to bear in mind that the purpose of Bahá’í administration is primarily to lend strength and direction to the teaching work and to promote the establishment of the Faith. It should never be regarded as an end in itself but purely as a means to canalize and make effective a spiritual vitality generated by the Word of God in the hearts of the believers. “The dedication and zeal with which you promote the Cause of God are highly commendable and we will pray at the Sacred Threshold that the process of expansion and consolidation will be greatly intensified as a result of your efforts.”

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia, November 12, 1973)

5. Social Order of Bahá’u’lláh

“…To accept the Cause without the administration is like to accept the teachings without acknowledging the divine station of Bahá’u’lláh. To be a Bahá’í is to accept the Cause in its entirety. To take exception to one basic principle is to deny the authority and sovereignty of Bahá’u’lláh, and therefore is to deny the Cause. The administration is the social order of Bahá’u’lláh. Without it all the principles of the Cause will remain abortive. To take exception to this, therefore, is to take exception to the fabric that Bahá’u’lláh has prescribed; it is to disobey His law.”

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, May 30, 1930: Bahá’í News, No. 43, August 1930, p. 3)

6. Relationship of the Cause to the Administration

“Regarding the relationship of the Cause to the Administration: the Bahá’í Faith, as the Guardian himself has repeatedly and emphatically stated, cannot be confined to a mere system of organization, however elaborate in its features and universal in its scope it may be. Organization is only a means to the realization of its aims and ideals, and not an end in itself. To divorce the two, however, would be to mutilate the Cause itself, as they stand inseparably bound to each other, in very much the same relationship existing between the soul and body in the world of human existence.”

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, April 19, 1939)

C. Bahá’í Local Spiritual Assemblies

7. Assemblies Ordained by Bahá’u’lláh

“Addressing the nations, the Ancient Beauty ordaineth that in every city in the world a house be established in the name of justice wherein shall gather pure and steadfast souls to the number of the Most Great Name (9). At this meeting they should feel as if they were entering the Presence of God, inasmuch as this binding command hath flowed from the Pen of Him Who is the Ancient of Days. The glances of God are directed towards this Assembly.”

(Bahá’u’lláh: From a newly translated Tablet cited in The Local Spiritual Assembly, p. 6, compiled by the Universal House of Justice)

8. Established in Every City — Counsellors to the Number of Bahá (9)

“The Lord hath ordained that in every city a House of Justice be established wherein shall gather counsellors to the number of Bahá (9), and should it exceed this number it does not matter….”

(Bahá’u’lláh: Kitáb-i-Aqdas, K 30, p. 29)

9. Purpose of Spiritual Assemblies

“…These bodies have the sacred obligation to help, advise, protect and guide the believers in every way within their power when appealed to — indeed they were established just for the purpose of keeping order and unity and obedience to the law of God amongst the believers.”

“You should go to them as a child would to its parents….”

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, September 28, 1941: The Local Spiritual Assembly, compiled by the Universal House of Justice)

10. Their Defender is ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

“These Spiritual Assemblies are aided by the Spirit of God. Their defender is ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Over them He spreadeth His wings. What bounty is there greater than this?… These Spiritual Assemblies are shining lamps and heavenly gardens, from which the fragrances of holiness are diffused over all regions, and the lights of knowledge are shed abroad over all created things. From them the spirit of life streameth in every direction. They, indeed, are the potent sources of the progress of man, at all times and under all conditions.”

(‘Abdu’l-Bahá: God Passes By, p. 332 and The Local Spiritual Assembly, pp. 6-7)

11. Assemblies Styled Differently in Future

“… Not only will the present-day Spiritual Assemblies be styled differently in future, but 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….”

(Shoghi Effendi: The Bahá’í World, Vol. III, p. 108)

12. Assembly Operates at First Levels of Human Society

“The divinely ordained institution of the local Spiritual Assembly operates at the first levels of human society and is the basic administrative unit of Bahá’u’lláh’s World Order. It is concerned with individuals and families whom it must constantly encourage to unite in a distinctive Bahá’í society, vitalized and guarded by the laws, ordinances and principles of Bahá’u’lláh’s Revelation. It protects the Cause of God; it acts as the loving shepherd of the Bahá’í flock.”

(Message from the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá’ís of the world, Naw-Rúz 1974, paragraph 13)

13. Strengthening of Local Spiritual Assemblies — Nerve Centres of Communities

“Great attention should be paid to the strengthening of Local Spiritual Assemblies which must act as the nerve centres of the Bahá’í communities in the towns and villages, promote Bahá’í education of the youth and children, and increase cooperation and participation of the believers in Bahá’í community life. Travelling teachers and all who are actively engaged in spreading the Message should rededicate themselves to their vital work and set out with renewed enthusiasm. They should aim at assisting as large a number as possible of Bahá’í communities to stand on their own feet and become capable of carrying out the thrilling tasks which they are called upon to discharge in the Vineyard of God in this Day.”

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of India, February 8, 1972)

14. Primary Purpose to Promote Teaching Work

“And since the primary purpose for which Local Spiritual Assemblies are established is to promote the teaching work, it is clear that every National Spiritual Assembly must give careful consideration to ways and means to encourage each Local Assembly under its jurisdiction to fulfil its principal obligation… it is important that Local Assemblies share with the local friends stories of successes achieved by some of them, descriptions of effective presentations found useful by them, examples of various ways that a Bahá’í subject could be introduced to inquirers, or illustrations of methods which would enable the believer to relate the needs of society to our teachings. Such information and suggestions should be offered to the friends at Nineteen Day Feasts, through a local newsletter, or by any means open to each Local Assembly. In all these contacts with the believers, each Local Spiritual Assembly should impress upon the friends the unique and irreplaceable role the individual plays in the prosecution of any Bahá’í undertaking….”

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, March 3, 1977)

15. Areas Under Jurisdiction of Local Spiritual Assemblies — National Spiritual Assembly Must Study

“The matter of the areas under the jurisdiction of a Local Spiritual Assembly is one which the National Assembly must study, and apply the principles laid down by the Guardian; namely, that within a municipal area, where the people resident in the area pay taxes and vote, the Assembly can be elected, and holds jurisdiction. Anyone living outside of that area is not a member of that Community and cannot enjoy the administrative privileges of that Community. Although this will affect your Assembly roll, it will place the work of the Faith on a much sounder basis, and increase the number of Centres where the Bahá’ís reside… It will challenge the friends to work harder to create new Assemblies and make up for those dissolved.… ”

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia and New Zealand, June 13, 1956: Letters from the Guardian to Australia and New Zealand, pp. 130-131)

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