What is the Universal House of Justice?

The Seat of the Universal House of Justice on Mount Carmel in Haifa, Israel
The Seat of the Universal House of Justice on Mount Carmel in Haifa, Israel

The Universal House of Justice, first formed in 1963, is an elected Institution that consists of nine members chosen from the rank-and-file membership of the Baha’i world. Members are elected once every five years, and they reside in Haifa, Israel. This Institution has since taken on the responsibility of administering the affairs of the Baha’i community. It also has the duty of regulating the affairs of the Baha’i world. Baha’u’llah wrote about this Institution in His Most Holy book, the Kitab-i-Aqdas. He promised that He would inspire this elected group of Baha’is in their decision-making.

Baha’is believe that the Universal House of Justice is the ultimate arbitor and decision maker for the Baha’is of the world. All questions of doctrine, law, and authority are brought to this elected body. The Baha’i Writings state, “Unto the Most Holy Book every one must turn and all that is not expressly recorded therein must be referred to the Universal House of Justice. That which this body, whether unanimously or by a majority doth carry, that is verily the Truth and the Purpose of God himself. Whoso doth deviate therefrom is verily of them that love discord, hath shown forth malice and turned away from the Lord of the Covenant. By this House is meant that Universal House of Justice which is to be elected from all countries, that is, from those parts in the East and West where the loved ones are to be found, after the manner of the customary elections in Western countries such as those of England.” (Abdu’l-Baha, BWF, p. 447)

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