What authority does the Baha’i Administrative Order have over Baha’is?

The Baha’i administrative system revolves around the Universal House of Justice. This Body’s role is to guide the community, and to be the ultimate judge of textual matters and laws of the Faith. To what degree are Baha’is supposed to turn to the Universal House of Justice? Baha’i Holy Texts state, “All must seek guidance and turn unto the Center of the Cause and the House of Justice. And he that turneth unto whatsoever else is indeed in grievous error.” (Abdu’l-Baha, WT, p. 25). This means that the Baha’i Holy Writings have clearly told Baha’is how to take care of their administrative affairs.

Administrators are ultimately servants of the community, charged with caring for the members with the utmost respect, love, and consideration. But in that service, they are also asked to dispense justice. Baha’i Assemblies can mediate between groups, and they can dispense limited sanctions on believers for doing things that may tarnish the reputation, or threaten the unity of the Baha’i Faith. These sanctions include ‘loosing voting rights,’ which means a person cannot vote in Baha’i elections; and in extreme cases it might mean excommunication, which means the Baha’i community cannot associate with such a person. Of course, these decisions are never taken lightly. They are made only after much energy and consultation is expensed trying to get people to understand the importance of the unity of our community.

Of course, different communities are in different stages of maturity when it comes to their ability to discharge these duties. Baha’is are all learning, and must be patient and loving towards their institutions as they develop. One day there will be millions of Baha’is in local cities from whom to choose the most capable people to be elected to their Assemblies and Institutions.

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