Bahá'í Administrative Order


Forum Staff
Mar 2006
Seattle, WA
Bahá'í administration
Bahá'u'lláh's Kitáb-i-Aqdas and The Will and Testament of `Abdu'l-Bahá are foundational documents of the Bahá'í administrative order. Bahá'u'lláh established the elected Universal House of Justice, and `Abdu'l-Bahá established the appointed hereditary Guardianship and clarified the relationship between the two institutions. In his Will, `Abdu'l-Bahá appointed his eldest grandson, Shoghi Effendi, as the first Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith.

Shoghi Effendi throughout his lifetime translated Bahá'í texts; developed global plans for the expansion of the Bahá'í community; developed the Bahá'í World Centre; carried on a voluminous correspondence with communities and individuals around the world; and built the administrative structure of the religion, preparing the community for the election of the Universal House of Justice. He died in 1957 under conditions that did not allow for a successor to be appointed.

At local, regional, and national levels, Bahá'ís elect members to nine-person Spiritual Assemblies, which run the affairs of the religion. There are also appointed individuals working at various levels, including locally and internationally, which perform the function of propagating the teachings and protecting the community. The latter do not serve as clergy, which the Bahá'í Faith does not have. The Universal House of Justice, first elected in 1963, remains the successor and supreme governing body of the Bahá'í Faith, and its 9 members are elected every five years by the members of all National Spiritual Assemblies. Any male Bahá'í, 21 years or older, is eligible to be elected to the Universal House of Justice; all other positions are open to male and female Bahá'ís.
Jun 2006
The importance of Baha'i Administration may be one of the most under estimated jewels of Baha'i life from the local to the national and international level.. Here like the sinews and structure of the Baha'i community is the essence of Baha'u'llah's covenant.

Lately I've come to appreciate that in my own community we've had some thirty eight years of local Baha'i community in the form of a Local Spiritual Assembly.. My wife has served the duration in this body and it is indeed an honor and precious service that goes largely unappreciated..

We abbreviate a lot and have these initials like LSA, NSA and UHJ.. these simple short cut references do not do justice to the Institutions of our Faith.

Without a Spiritual Assembly a community can still function as a group (less than nine adult Baha'is) but it cannot by itself function or serve as well the interests of its members.. A group by itself cannot for instance offer Baha'i marriage or deal with the sometimes challenging issues of it's members which involve sensitive issues like administrative rights and so on. Yes these can be challenging and stressful to consult on but at times they are necessary.

Finally Baha'i community life revolves around these Institutions and the Institutions support each other.. Without local administration the National community is limited and hindered from expression on the local level.. Without National Spiritual Assemblies the Universal House of Justice lacks the foundations for a truly international community.. It was only until enough National Spiritual Assemblies were formed that the Universal House could be inaugurated..

and who do we Baha'is owe to these things enumerated above but to the Guardian Shoghi Effendi who tirelessly and personally laboured in the vineyard of His Cause? Just as he personally selected and supervised the buildings of the Arc of His Covenant on Mount Carmel and the Holiest Shrine the Haram-i-Aqdas so he labored on the precious structure of the administration of our Faith.
Mar 2015
Bend area, Oregon
Thank you Daniel and Arthra for your comments. As Arthra mentioned, Shoghi Effendi anticipated and "personally selected" the specific administrative buildings to be constructed on Mount Carmel in the coming years.

Less than two years before his passing Shoghi Effendi wrote that: "The raising of this Edifice (International Archives Building) will in turn herald the construction, in the course of successive epochs of the Formative Age of the Faith, of several other structures, which will serve as the administrative seats of such divinely appointed institutions as the Guardianship, the Hands of the Cause, and the Universal House of Justice. These Edifices will, in the shape of a far-flung arc, and following a harmonizing style of architecture, surround the resting-places of the Greatest Holy Leaf, ranking as foremost among the members of her sex in the Bahá'í Dispensation, of her Brother, offered up as a ransom by Bahá'u'lláh for the quickening of the world and its unification, and of their Mother, proclaimed by Him to be His chosen "consort in all the worlds of God." The ultimate completion of this stupendous undertaking will mark the culmination of the development of a world-wide divinely-appointed Administrative Order whose beginnings may be traced as far back as the concluding years of the Heroic Age of the Faith. ..."
- Letter of November 27, 1954; Messages to the Bahá'í World: 1950-1957, p. 74

Recently, I came across another source on the internet which is allegedly printed in the Baha’i World, 1976 – 1979, p. 323 (I cannot locate that portion of the “Baha’i World” on line for confirmation). The source explains that Shoghi Effendi wrote to the Baha’is of the East in 1954 stating: “In the neighborhood of these two stately edifices, and two mighty Institutions (meaning the Archives Building and the Edifice for the Universal House of Justice), another edifice will gradually be erected which will be the seat of the Guardianship, the centre which will interpret, expound and prepare commentaries on explicitly revealed laws, and will reinforce and supplement the legislative body.”

I realize the Guardianship did not continue with the passing of Shoghi Effendi, but I also have the perception that it is important to understand what specific institutions and administrative buildings that Shoghi Effendi himself actually anticipated into the future, even at that point in his life.

Thank you for the opportunity to post.

Sep 2010
Normanton, Far North West Queensland
Welcome Larry, hope to see you post more often. Thank you for the comment, yes that is interesting.

God bless and regards Tony