Forgotten Verses

of the Baha'i Holy Writings

In the religion of Bahaism, there are volumes upon volumes of sacred text -- so much, in fact, that most Baha'is don't really know what's in there. The leaders of the Baha'i Faith prefer it that way. Find out why.

No matter how devoted a person may be to a particular religious tradition, it is essential to study the scriptures of one's faith and compare them with the facts of how the religion is being practiced. Consider these words of Baha'ullah:

"O son of spirit! The best beloved of all things in My sight is justice; turn not away therefrom if thou desirest Me, and neglect it not that I may confide in thee. By its aid thou shalt see with thine own eyes and not through the eyes of others, and shalt know of thine own knowledge and not through the knowledge of thy neighbor. Ponder this in thy heart; how it behooveth thee to be. Verily justice is My gift to thee and the sign of My loving-kindness. Set it then before thine eyes." (Baha'ullah. Hidden Words, Arabic #2.)

In the spirit of justice, let us consider some of the more obscure -- but no less important -- quotations from the Bahai holy writings. Before doing so, reflect upon this statement made by Abd'ul-Baha:

"The offensive odor of violation hath temporarily arrested the onward movement of the cause, for otherwise the divine teachings, like unto the rays of the sun, would immediately spread and permeate all regions." (Abd'ul-Baha. Selections, 189.6.)

Although Abd'ul-Baha was referring to specific examples of "violation" during his own time, the principle remains the same. If the cause is failing to attract souls with the divine teachings today, this may indicate that violation has overtaken the religion and temporarily halted its progress in the world -- until the violation is exposed and eradicated.

And now let us proceed to examine the scriptures. We will offer very little commentary on the following quotations, just the facts. Decide for yourself what to make of them.

The Guardianship Was Intended to Continue

Shoghi Effendi Rabbani was the only Guardian of the Baha'i Faith. He had no children. Tragically, he died without designating a successor or leaving a will.

  • "It is incumbent upon the Guardian of the Cause of God to appoint in his own lifetime him that shall become his successor, that differences may not arise after his passing." (Abd'ul-Baha. Will and Testament, p. 12.)

  • "Should the first-born of the Guardian of the Cause of God not manifest in himself the truth of the words, 'The child is the secret essence of its sire' -- that is, should he not inherit of the spiritual within him (the Guardian) and his glorious lineage not be matched with a goodly character -- then must he (the Guardian) choose another branch to succeed him." (Abd'ul-Baha. Will and Testament, p. 12.)

  • "Unto everyone hath been enjoined the writing of a will." (Baha'ullah. Kitab-i-Aqdas, paragraph 109.)

Separation of Powers

After the death of the Guardian, Baha'i leaders called Hands of the Cause decided that most of the powers designated for the Guardian in the Bahai scriptures should be transferred to themselves, and eventually to the Universal House of Justice, which would exercise all power. They persuaded the vast majority of Baha'is to accept this as legitimate.

An alternative possibility would have been to declare that the powers of the Guardian had become null and void in the absence of the Guardianship.

Which way is supported by the Bahai holy writings?

  • "Neither [the Guardian nor the Universal House of Justice] can, nor will ever, infringe upon the sacred and prescribed domain of the other." (Rabbani, Shoghi Effendi. The World Order of Baha'u'llah, p. 150.)

  • "Each [of these two highest institutions] 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." (Rabbani, Shoghi Effendi. The World Order of Baha'u'llah, p. 148.)

Currently, the Universal House of Justice of the Baha'i World Faith exercises various important powers that were originally supposed to be in the exclusive domain of the Guardian: interpretation of scripture, collection and expenditure of Huquq'ullah, expulsion of people from the faith, designation of people as "Covenant-breakers," and impeachment of members of the Universal House of Justice.

There are no verses in the Bahai holy writings suggesting that the Universal House of Justice can exercise those powers, and in fact, some verses explicitly designate the Guardianship as the only institution possessing a certain power.

Have the leaders of the Baha'i Faith overstepped the bounds of their authority?

  • "He [the Guardian] is the Interpreter of the Word of God and after him will succeed the first-born of his lineal descendents." (Abd'ul-Baha. Will and Testament, p. 11.)

  • "The Lord, as a sign of His infinite bounties, hath graciously favored His servants by providing for a fixed money offering (Huquq), to be dutifully presented unto Him... It is to be offered through the Guardian of the Cause of God, that it may be expended for the diffusion of the fragrances of God and the exaltation of His Word, for benevolent pursuits and for the common weal." (Abd'ul-Baha. Will and Testament, p. 15.)

  • "expulsion or excommunication from the Faith, which can be effected by the Guardian alone in his capacity as the supreme spiritual head of the community." (Rabbani, Shoghi Effendi. Directives from the Guardian, #216; Lights of Guidance, #198.)

  • "excommunication, which lies within the powers of the Guardian alone" (Rabbani, Shoghi Effendi. Messages to Canada, p. 51; Lights of Guidance, #200.)

  • "Up to the present time, no one has been permitted to pronounce anybody a Covenant-breaker but the Guardian himself." (Rabbani, Shoghi Effendi. Messages to Canada, p. 65; Lights of Guidance, #601.)

  • "Should any of the members [of the Universal House of Justice] commit a sin, injurious to the common weal, the Guardian of the Cause of God hath at his own discretion the right to expel him, whereupon the people must elect another one in his stead." (Abd'ul-Baha. Will and Testament, p. 14.)

The True Administrative Order

Most Baha'is today see the Guardianship not as a component part of the Baha'i Administrative Order, but instead as a temporary transitional institution between the Central Figures of the faith and the Universal House of Justice.

Is there supposed to be one single institution, the Universal House of Justice, with all ultimate authority -- or is this a departure from the sacred teachings of the Bahai religion?

  • "A word should now be said regarding the theory on which this Administrative Order is based and the principle that must govern the operation of its chief institutions. It would be utterly misleading to attempt a comparison between this unique, this divinely-conceived Order and any of the diverse systems which the minds of men, at various periods of their history, have contrived for the government of human institutions. Such an attempt would in itself betray a lack of complete appreciation of the excellence of the handiwork of its great Author. How could it be otherwise when we remember that this Order constitutes the very pattern of that divine civilization which the almighty Law of Baha'ullah is designed to establish upon earth? The diverse and ever-shifting systems of human polity, whether past or present, whether originating in the East or in the West, offer no adequate criterion wherewith to estimate the potency of its hidden virtues or to appraise the solidity of its foundations. The Baha'i Commonwealth of the future, of which this vast Administrative Order is the sole framework, is, both in theory and practice, not only unique in the entire history of political institutions, but can find no parallel in the annals of any of the world's recognized religious systems. No form of democratic government; no system of autocracy or of dictatorship, whether monarchical or republican; no intermediary scheme of a purely aristocratic order; nor even any of the recognized types of theocracy, whether it be the Hebrew Commonwealth, or the various Christian ecclesiastical organizations, or the Imamate or the Caliphate in Islam -- none of these can be identified or be said to conform with the Administrative Order which the Master-hand of its perfect Architect has fashioned. This new-born Administrative Order incorporates within its structure certain elements which are to be found in each of the three recognized forms of secular government, without being in any sense a mere replica of any one of them, and without introducing within its machinery any of the objectionable features which they inherently possess. It blends and harmonizes, as no government fashioned by mortal hands has as yet accomplished, the salutary truths which each of these systems undoubtedly contains without vitiating the integrity of those God-given verities on which it is ultimately founded.... The Administrative Order of the faith of Baha'ullah must in no wise be regarded as purely democratic in character... Moreover, he who symbolizes the hereditary principle in this dispensation has been made the interpreter of the words of its Author, and ceases consequently, by virtue of the actual authority vested in him, to be the figurehead invariably associated with the prevailing systems of constitutional monarchies. Nor can the Baha'i Administrative Order be dismissed as a hard and rigid system of unmitigated autocracy or as an idle imitation of any form of absolutistic ecclesiastical government, whether it be the Papacy, the Imamate or any other similar institution... Nor is this Order identified with the name of Baha'ullah to be confused with any system of purely aristocratic government in view of the fact that it upholds, on the one hand, the hereditary principle and entrusts the Guardian of the faith with the obligation of interpreting its teachings, and provides, on the other, for the free and direct election from among the mass of the faithful of the body that constitutes its highest legislative organ. Whereas this Administrative Order cannot be said to have been modeled after any of these recognized systems of government, it nevertheless embodies, reconciles and assimilates within its framework such wholesome elements as are to be found in each one of them. The hereditary authority which the Guardian is called upon to exercise, the vital and essential functions which the Universal House of Justice discharges, the specific provisions requiring its democratic election by the representatives of the faithful -- these combine to demonstrate the truth that this divinely revealed Order, which can never be identified with any of the standard types of government referred to by Aristotle in his works, embodies and blends with the spiritual verities on which it is based the beneficent elements which are to be found in each one of them. The admitted evils inherent in each of these systems being rigidly and permanently excluded, this unique Order, however long it may endure and however extensive its ramifications, cannot ever degenerate into any form of despotism, of oligarchy, or of demagogy which must sooner or later corrupt the machinery of all man-made and essentially defective political institutions." (Rabbani, Shoghi Effendi. The World Order of Baha'u'llah, pp. 152-154.)

The Guardian and the Universal House of Justice are supposed to function together. When there was a Guardian and he had not called into being the Universal House of Justice, this was a temporary condition prior to the creation of the true Administrative Order.

Today, Baha'i leaders claim that the true Administrative Order already exists, even though half of it is missing, and it operates as an oligarchy without any checks and balances. Is this a correct understanding of the status of today's Baha'i institutional leadership?

  • The Guardianship and the Universal House of Justice are the "twin institutions of the Administrative Order of Baha'ullah" (Rabbani, Shoghi Effendi. The World Order of Baha'u'llah, p. 148.)

  • "The twin pillars that support this mighty Administrative Structure -- the institutions of the Guardianship and of the Universal House of Justice" (Rabbani, Shoghi Effendi. The World Order of Baha'u'llah, p. 147.)

The Importance of the Guardianship

The Bahai writings tell us that the Guardianship is actually more important, more necessary, more vital to the health of the Baha'i faith than the Universal House of Justice. After all, the Guardian is the prophetic successor of Baha'ullah, much like the Imams of the true faith of Islam.

Why do the Baha'is believe that their Faith remains perfect and unquestionably guided by God when there is no longer a Guardian?

  • "Institution of Guardianship, head cornerstone of the Administrative Order of the cause of Baha'ullah" (Rabbani, Shoghi Effendi. Messages to America, p. 8.)

  • "Once the mind and heart have grasped the fact that God guides men through a mouthpiece, a human being, a prophet, infallible and unerring, it is only a logical projection of this acceptance to also accept the station of Abd'ul-Baha and the Guardians. The Guardians are the evidence of the maturity of mankind in the sense that at long last men have progressed to the point of having one world, and of needing one world management for human affairs. In the spiritual realm they have also reached the point where God could leave, in human hands (that is the Guardians'), guided directly by the Bab and Baha'ullah, as the Master states in his Will, the affairs of His faith for this dispensation. This is what is meant by 'this is the day which will not be followed by the night.' In this dispensation, divine guidance flows on to us in this world after the Prophet's ascension, through first the Master, and then the Guardians." (Rabbani, Shoghi Effendi. Quoted in Lights of Guidance, #1047.)

  • "The mighty stronghold shall remain impregnable and safe through obedience to him who is the Guardian of the Cause of God. It is incumbent upon the members of the House of Justice, upon all the Aghsan, the Afnan, the Hands of the Cause of God to show their obedience, submissiveness and subordination unto the Guardian of the Cause of God, to turn unto him and be lowly before him. He that opposeth him hath opposed the True One, will make a breach in the cause of God, will subvert His Word and will become a manifestation of the center of sedition." (Abd'ul-Baha. Will and Testament, pp. 11-12.)

  • "Divorced from the institution of the Guardianship the World Order of Baha'ullah would be mutilated and permanently deprived of that hereditary principle which, as Abd'ul-Baha 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." (Rabbani, Shoghi Effendi. The World Order of Baha'u'llah, p. 148.)

Can There Be a Universal House of Justice?

The elected Baha'i leaders in Haifa call themselves "the Universal House of Justice." But do they really meet the definition of this Divine Institution?

  • "In all countries a secondary House of Justice must be instituted, and these secondary Houses of Justice must elect the members of the Universal one." (Abd'ul-Baha. Will and Testament, p. 14.)

Currently, there are no secondary or national Houses of Justice anywhere in the world. Only provisional institutions called "Spiritual Assemblies" are allowed to exist, according to the decree of the global Baha'i leadership. These assemblies cannot be considered secondary Houses of Justice operating under a different name, because they are currently denied the authority to exercise many of the rights and powers ordained for the true Bahai legislative bodies. How then can there be a Universal House of Justice elected according to scriptural requirements?

Even if the secondary House of Justice were allowed to exist in each country of the world, there still could not be a properly constituted Universal House of Justice, because the Guardian is supposed to be part of this institution.

  • "The Guardian of the Cause of God is its sacred head and the distinguished member for life of that body [the Universal House of Justice]. Should he not attend in person its deliberations, he must appoint one to represent him." (Abd'ul-Baha. Will and Testament, p. 14.)

  • "Though the Guardian of the faith has been made the permanent head of so august a body [the Universal House of Justice] he can never, even temporarily, assume the right of exclusive legislation. He cannot override the decision of the majority of his fellow-members, but is bound to insist upon a reconsideration by them of any enactment he conscientiously believes to conflict with the meaning and to depart from the spirit of Baha'ullah's revealed utterances. He interprets what has been specifically revealed, and cannot legislate except in his capacity as member of the Universal House of Justice." (Rabbani, Shoghi Effendi. The World Order of Baha'u'llah, p. 150.)

Furthermore, the Guardian specifically stated that the Universal House of Justice is inseparable from the Guardianship. In the absence of the Guardianship, the Baha'i leaders could create any kind of provisional administrative institution, as long as they do not call it the "Universal House of Justice" and claim the infallible authority of this sacred body.

Considering these verses, do the Baha'i leaders have a right to demand that the Baha'is regard them as the true Universal House of Justice, with all the weighty implications of such a status?

  • "the inseparable institutions of the Guardianship and of the Universal House of Justice" (Rabbani, Shoghi Effendi. Citadel of Faith, p. 76.)

  • "Acting in conjunction with each other these two inseparable institutions [the Guardianship and the Universal House of Justice] administer its [the Faith's] affairs, coordinate its activities, promote its interests, execute its laws and defend its subsidiary institutions." (Rabbani, Shoghi Effendi. The World Order of Baha'u'llah, p. 148.)

The Station of the Hands of the Cause

When the Guardian died, subordinate spiritual leaders he had appointed, called "Hands of the Cause of God," took over the affairs of the Baha'i Faith. Initially, they claimed for themselves all the powers of the Guardianship, and then they claimed the authority to create a Universal House of Justice without any Guardian, altering the requirements for the Divine Administrative Order set down by Abd'ul-Baha and Shoghi Effendi Rabbani in their holy writings and interpretations.

Did the Hands really possess such sweeping authority? Are they infallible? Do the Baha'is have to accept what they did as automatically correct, even if it conflicts with and supplants previous teachings of the faith?

  • "The obligations of the Hands of the Cause of God are to diffuse the divine fragrances, to edify the souls of men, to promote learning, to improve the character of all men and to be, at all times and under all conditions, sanctified and detached from earthly things. They must manifest the fear of God by their conduct, their manners, their deeds and their words. This body of the Hands of the Cause of God is under the direction of the Guardian of the Cause of God. He must continually urge them to strive and endeavor to the utmost of their ability to diffuse the sweet savors of God, and to guide all the peoples of the world, for it is the light of Divine Guidance that causeth all the universe to be illumined. To disregard, though it be for a moment, this absolute command which is binding upon everyone, is in no wise permitted." (Abd'ul-Baha. Will and Testament, p. 13.)

  • "The Hands (pillars) of the Cause and the beloved of the Lord must obey him and turn unto him [the Guardian]. He that obeyeth him not, hath not obeyed God; he that turneth away from him, hath turned away from God; and he that denieth him, hath denied the True One." (Abd'ul-Baha. Will and Testament, p. 25.)

  • "Beware lest anyone falsely interpret these words, and like unto them that have broken the Covenant after the Day of Ascension (of Baha'ullah) advance a pretext, raise the standard of revolt, wax stubborn and open wide the door of false interpretation. To none is given the right to put forth his own opinion or express his particular conviction." (Abd'ul-Baha. Will and Testament, pp. 25-26.)

What Could the Hands Have Done Differently?

Did the Hands of the Cause have any choice other than to promote the new doctrines they did? After all, the Guardian gave them no guidance that could have helped them to decide what to do in case he died without leaving a successor -- right?

Wrong. There already was a legitimate provisional institution in existence, the International Baha'i Council, which could have simply been continued rather than being eliminated and supplanted by a dubious "Universal House of Justice."

Furthermore, the Guardian had decreed shortly before his death that the Baha'is should work towards the establishment of an International Baha'i Court -- another provisional institution, preliminary to the eventual establishment of the Universal House of Justice when the faith reaches maturity.

All of this has been forgotten! The Council was disbanded and the Court was never created -- but instead, we have an incomplete and non-scriptural UHJ that claims to be the full fruition of the Baha'i Administrative Order.

Did you even know the following teachings existed?

  • "Proclaimed to the National Assemblies of the East and West the weighty, epoch-making decision of the formation of the first International Baha'i Council, forerunner of the supreme administrative institution destined to emerge in the fullness of time... a historic decision marking the most significant milestone in the evolution of the Administrative Order of the faith of Baha'ullah in the course of the last thirty years.... [to which] will be added further functions in the course of evolution of this first embryonic international institution, marking its development into officially recognized Baha'i Court, its transformation into duly elected body, its efflorescence into Universal House of Justice, and its final fruition through erection of manifold auxiliary institutions constituting the World Administrative Center destined to arise and function and remain permanently established in the close neighborhood of the Twin Holy Shrines. Hail with thankful, joyous heart at long last the constitution of the International Council, which history will acclaim as the greatest event shedding luster upon the second epoch of the Formative Age of the Baha'i Dispensation, potentially unsurpassed by any enterprise undertaken since the inception of the Administrative Order of the faith... ranking second only to the glorious immortal events associated with the ministries of the three Central Figures of the faith in the course of the First Age of the most glorious dispensation of the five thousand century Baha'i Cycle." (Rabbani, Shoghi Effendi. Messages to the Baha'i World, pp. 7-8.)

  • "The International Baha'i Council, comprising eight members, charged with assisting in the manifold activities attendant upon the rise of the World Administrative Center of the faith, which must pave the way for the formation of a Baha'i International Court and the eventual emergence of the Universal House of Justice, the supreme legislative body of the future Baha'i Commonwealth." (Rabbani, Shoghi Effendi. Messages to the Baha'i World, p. 149.)

  • "the evolution of the World Center of the faith of Baha'ullah -- a process which the newly formed Council, now established at its very heart, is designed to foster, which will gather momentum, with the emergence in the course of time of a properly recognized and independently functioning Baha'i court, which will attain its consummation in the institution of the Universal House of Justice." (Rabbani, Shoghi Effendi. Citadel of Faith, pp. 94-95.)

  • "the formation of the Baha'i Court, essential prelude to the institution of the Universal House of Justice." (Rabbani, Shoghi Effendi. Messages to the Baha'i World, p. 13.)

  • "The projected historic, spiritual venture [the Ten-Year Crusade, 1953-1963], at once arduous, audacious, challenging, unprecedented in scope and character in the entire field of Baha'i history, soon to be set in motion, involves:... The establishment of a Baha'i Court in the Holy Land, preliminary to the emergence of the Universal House of Justice... Establishment of six national Baha'i Courts in the chief cities of the Islamic East -- Tihran, Cairo, Baghdad, New Delhi, Karachi, Kabul." (Rabbani, Shoghi Effendi. Messages to the Baha'i World, p. 42.)

  • "This crusade extending through ten years will involve... the development of the institution of the Hands of the Cause; the transformation of the International Baha'i Council into an international Baha'i court." (Rabbani, Shoghi Effendi. Messages to the Baha'i World, pp. 151-152.)

  • The creation of the Universal House of Justice "is to constitute the last stage in the erection of the framework of its [the Faith's] world Administrative Order." (Rabbani, Shoghi Effendi. God Passes By, p. 411.)

The so-called Universal House of Justice was created in 1963. No Baha'i Court was created. There has not been a gradual development of the Baha'i Administrative Order along with the progress of the faith, as envisioned by the Guardian. Instead, there was a sudden, premature creation of a questionable UHJ -- purportedly to protect the unity of the faith in a time of uncertainty -- but in fact ensuring that many Baha'is would reject the Baha'i World Faith organization, that competing sects would be created, and that disruptive reform movements would become necessary.

Couldn't this troublesome fate have been avoided? If only the Baha'i leaders had acted with more wisdom!

  • "Beware, beware, lest the days after the ascension (of Baha'ullah) be repeated when the center of sedition waxed haughty and rebellious and with Divine Unity for his excuse deprived himself and perturbed and poisoned others." (Abd'ul-Baha. Will and Testament, p. 12.)

Arrogant Bureaucracy

Is the Baha'i Faith supposed to be a highly bureaucratic religion, with heavy-handed top-down control? Many Baha'is become alienated from the Faith today because of such a spirit prevailing within the Baha'i community. But is this the spirit of the original teachings?

  • "Your Assembly must be very careful not to over-load the Baha'is with rules and regulations, circulars and directions. The purpose of the Administration at this time is to blow on the fire newly kindled in the hearts of these people who have accepted the faith, to create in them the desire and capacity to teach, to facilitate the pioneer and teaching work, and help deepen the knowledge and understanding of the friends. The beloved Guardian issues this word of warning, as long experience has shown that it is a tendency on the part of all National Spiritual Assemblies to over-administer. In their enthusiasm they forget that they only have a handful of inexperienced souls to guide, and attempt to deal with their work as if they had a large population to regulate! This then stifles the spirit of the friends and the teaching work suffers." (Rabbani, Shoghi Effendi. Quoted in Japan Will Turn Ablaze!, p. 67; Lights of Guidance, #134.)

  • "Due emphasis should not be placed only on the concentrated authority, the rights, the privileges and prerogatives enjoyed by the elected national representatives of the believers, but that special stress be laid also on their responsibilities as willing ministers, faithful stewards and loyal trustees to those who have chosen them. Let it be made clear to every inquiring reader that among the most outstanding and sacred duties incumbent upon those who have been called upon to initiate, direct and coordinate the affairs of the cause, are those that require them to win by every means in their power the confidence and affection of those whom it is their privilege to serve. Theirs is the duty to investigate and acquaint themselves with the considered views, the prevailing sentiments, the personal convictions of those whose welfare it is their solemn obligation to promote. Theirs is the duty to purge once for all their deliberations and the general conduct of their affairs from that air of self-contained aloofness, from the suspicion of secrecy, the stifling atmosphere of dictatorial assertiveness, in short, from every word and deed that might savor of partiality, self-centeredness and prejudice. Theirs is the duty, while retaining the sacred and exclusive right of final decision in their hands, to invite discussion, provide information, ventilate grievances, welcome advice from even the most humble and insignificant members of the Baha'i family, expose their motives, set forth their plans, justify their actions, revise if necessary their verdict, foster the sense of interdependence and co-partnership, of understanding and mutual confidence between them on one hand and all local Assemblies and individual believers on the other." (Rabbani, Shoghi Effendi. Baha'i Administration, pp. 143-144.)

Baha'is today would be excommunicated from their religion for pointing out the scriptural passages in this article and seeking to reform the Faith according to such teachings. In fact, Baha'is are often disciplined or pushed out of their religious community simply for expressing ideas that conflict with the viewpoints of those bureaucrats who hold power in the national and international organization.

  • Abd'ul-Baha said the following at a church in New York City: "This is a goodly temple and congregation, for -- praise be to God! -- this is a house of worship wherein conscientious opinion has free sway. Every religion and every religious aspiration may be freely voiced and expressed here. Just as in the world of politics there is need for free thought, likewise in the world of religion there should be the right of unrestricted individual belief. Consider what a vast difference exists between modern democracy and the old forms of despotism. Under an autocratic government the opinions of men are not free, and development is stifled, whereas in democracy, because thought and speech are not restricted, the greatest progress is witnessed. It is likewise true in the world of religion. When freedom of conscience, liberty of thought and right of speech prevail -- that is to say, when every man according to his own idealization may give expression to his beliefs -- development and growth are inevitable." (Abd'ul-Baha. The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 197.)

Who Is a Bahai?

Does a person necessarily have to accept a certain religious organization in order to be a Bahai? Consider what Baha'ullah and Abd'ul-Baha have to say. They, after all, are the true sources of spiritual authority -- and we should take what they say more seriously than the viewpoints of bureaucratic administrators.

  • "Every receptive soul who hath in this Day inhaled the fragrance of His garment and hath, with a pure heart, set his face towards the All-Glorious Horizon is reckoned among the people of Baha in the Crimson Book." (Baha'ullah. Book of the Covenant. Published in Tablets, p. 220.)

  • "It makes no difference whether you have ever heard of Baha'ullah or not. The man who lives the life according to the teachings of Baha'ullah is already a Bahai. On the other hand a man may call himself a Bahai for fifty years and if he does not live the life he is not a Bahai. An ugly man may call himself handsome, but he deceives no one, and a black man may call himself white yet he deceives no one: not even himself!" (Abdu'l-Baha in London, p. 106.)

This article was originally written in 2003 and may be revised and expanded at some point in the future. -- The Baha'i Faith: An Ex-Baha'i Christian View