The Universal House of Justice
"The reign of divine love, justice and wisdom
in the world under and in conformity of the Divine Law"
(Shoghi Effendi, Guidance for Today and Tomorrow,
Baha'i Publishing Trust, London, UK, 1973, p 110)
Return to Central Figures/Institutions
"The Administrative Order of Baha'u'llah is destined to evolve into the Baha'i World Commonwealth which is, both in theory and in practice, not only unique in the entire history of political institutions, but can find no parallel in the annals of any of the worlds recognized religious systems" 1
The Universal House of Justice is the supreme institution of the Baha'i Faith and is responsible for its affairs world-wide. It is the only institution on the face of the planet which has the authority to interpret the Writings of the Bab, and Baha'u'llah. The seat of the Universal House of Justice, in fulfillment of Biblical and other prophecies, has its seat on Gods Holy Mountain, Mt. Carmel, in Haifa, Israel. The Baha'i World Centre is a marvelous and extraordinarily beautiful complex, including the Shrine of the Bab, the Arc, and many other beautiful and functional buildings and gardens.
Having neither priesthood or ritual the Baha'i Faith relies on a pattern of local, national, and international administration created by Baha'u'llah. Each locality, comprised of nine or more adult Baha'i's, twenty-one or older, on April 21 annually elects a council known as the Local Spiritual Assembly. All Baha'i elections take place by secret ballot, with no nominations or electioneering. At present there are over twenty thousand Assemblies throughout the world.
National Assemblies are elected annually by regionally elected delegates who come together in an annual national convention. There are currently about one hundred eighty National Spiritual Assemblies formed to date. Once every five (5) years, at an international convention, these National Spiritual Assemblies gather to elect The Universal House of Justice, the supreme institution of the Baha'i Faith. The first election of The Universal House of Justice was held in 1963. Here too, all elections take place by secret ballot, with no nominations or electioneering permitted.
With regards to the election process Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Cause, has stated that the believers must do all in their power to prayerfully ascertain the qualifications of those whom they elect for service. "It is incumbent to consider without the least trace of passion and prejudice, the names of only those who can best combine the necessary qualities of unquestioned loyalty, of selfless devotion, of a well-trained mind, of recognized ability and mature experience." 2
Among the most outstanding and sacred duties incumbent upon those who have been called to initiate, direct and coordinate the affairs of the Cause of God as members of its Spiritual Assemblies are: to win by every means in their power the confidence and affection of those whom it is their privilege to serve; to investigate and acquaint themselves with the considered views and the personal convictions of those whose welfare is their solemn obligation to promote; to purge their deliberations and the general conduct of their affairs of self-contained aloofness, the suspicion of secrecy, the stifling atmosphere of dictatorial assertiveness and of every word and deed that may savor of partiality, self-centredness and prejudice; and while retaining the sacred right of final decision in their hands, to invite discussion, ventilate grievances, welcome advice and foster the sense of interdependence and copartnership between themselves and all other Baha'i's" 3
Appointed institutions also exist in the Baha'i world community. Among them are the Hands of the Cause of God, Continental Board of Counselors and Auxiliary Board Members and their assistants. Members of these institutions have no authority but rather serve to educate, inspire and protect the unity of the Baha'i community.
1. Shoghi Effendi, Guidance for Today and Tomorrow, Baha'i Publishing Trust, London, UK, 1973, pp 7, 91
2. Shoghi Effendi, Baha'i Administration, The Baha'i Publishing Trust, Wilmette, IL, 1953, p.88
3. The Universal House of Justice, Constitution of the Universal House of Justice, Baha'i World Centre, Haifa, 1972, p. 10