Community and administration

Entries about Baha'i community life, about Baha'i administration, and about how the two intersect.

Baha'is elect Universal House of Justice

HAIFA, Israel — The results of the election of the nine members of the Universal House of Justice, the governing body of the Baha’i Faith, have been announced.

Delegates to the Tenth International Baha’i Convention cast ballots yesterday for membership in the council that serves as the head of the religion.

Those elected are Farzam Arbab, Kiser Barnes, Peter Khan, Hooper Dunbar, Firaydoun Javaheri, Paul Lample, Payman Mohajer, Shahriar Razavi, and Gustavo Correa.

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Baquia's prediction

Doughnut Truth

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Taubes has interviewed some of the worst scientists in the world, and in the interview he goes through the qualities and failings of these fellows, and indicates how he separates the sheep from the goats. The lousy scientists are eminently knowledgeable and academically highly qualified, yet they fail to take the necessary leap to objectivity and humility that makes for science. I will include a section of this interview at the end of this essay, but now I only say that as I read how Taubes discerns a bad scientist, I could not help but think about what makes a person a good Baha'i or not. Auxiliary Board members have to do what Taubes did, they have long interviews with believers who are on the border between resignation, "dis-enrollment" or breaking the Covenant. Fortunately, the rest of us are spared from that depressing job.

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"Matters of State" or "administrative matters": the scope of the House of Justice

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In the 1978 translation of Tablets of Baha’u’llah by Habib Taherzadeh “with the assistance of a committee,” the eighth section of the Tablet of Ishraqaat says:

“This passage, now written by the Pen of Glory, is accounted as part of the Most Holy Book: The men of God’s House of Justice have been charged with the affairs of the people (‘amuur-e mellat). They, in truth, are the Trustees of God among His servants and the daysprings of authority in His countries.
O people of God! That which traineth the world is Justice, for it is upheld by two pillars, reward and punishment. These two pillars are the sources of life to the world. Inasmuch as for each day there is a new problem and for every problem an expedient solution, such affairs should be referred to the House of Justice that the members thereof may act according to the needs and requirements of the time. They that, for the sake of God, arise to serve His Cause, are the recipients of divine inspiration from the unseen Kingdom. It is incumbent upon all to be obedient unto them. All matters of State (‘amuur-e siyaasiyyah) should be referred to the House of Justice, but acts of worship (`ibaadaat) must be observed according to that which God hath revealed in His Book.” Tablets of Baha’u’llah 128-9, cf. Majmu cih az alwah-ye Jamal-e Aqdas-e Abha 75.

There is a previous translation by Ali Kuli Khan, made in 1906 or earlier,[2] in which the italicised passages read:

The affairs of the people are in charge of the men of the House of Justice of God … Administrative affairs are all in charge of the House of Justice, and devotional acts must be observed according as they are revealed in the Book.”

Ali Kuli Khan’s translation was included in the widely-used compilation of Bahai scriptures, Baha’i World Faith (p 200), and was therefore the text used in the English-speaking Bahai communities during the Guardian’s ministry and later, until Tablets of Baha’u’llah was published 1978. Both, successively, are officially endorsed translations, and it must be supposed that the change was regarded as an improvement. For various reasons it appears to me that Ali Kuli Khan’s reading is preferable.

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Do assemblies learn?

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The Spiritual Assemblies that administer affairs in Bahai communities suffer from growing pains: and the members themselves are the nerve that feels it the most. If the problem is disunity, is there a point at which it is better for some members to resign? Or should the assembly be maintained, and meet, come what may – even if the problems in the meeting seep out and undermine the good work and good feeling in the community?

On the one hand, we have quotes such as this:

“The assemblies of the North American continent, constituting the base for the gigantic operations destined to warm and illuminate, under American Bahá’í auspices, the five continents of the globe, must, at no time and under no circumstances, be allowed to diminish in number or decline in strength and in influence. The movement of pioneers, whether settlers or itinerant teachers, which in fields so distant from this base, has exhibited so marvelous a vitality, must, within the limits of the homeland itself, be neither interrupted nor suffer a decline. The groups and isolated centers so painstakingly formed and established must, conjointly with this highly commendable and essential duty, be maintained, fostered and if possible multiplied. “ (Shoghi Effendi, Citadel of Faith, p. 75)

This is not the same as saying that every individual assembly must be held, come what may. It seems to me to be saying that the institutional foundation in the country must be maintained, it should not be sacrificed by sending out too many pioneers.

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