The Supreme Tribunal is a committee which governs all world affairs with representatives from all nations of the world.
The Universal House of Justice (UHJ) is the highest governing body of the Bahai administrative organization. Its establishment was originally proposed by Bahaullah but he failed to establish it. After Bahaullah, Abdul Baha too tried in vain to establish it. Shoghi aspired to achieve this goal but he also failed. Even with all the spiritual and material sources at their disposal, the Bahai prophet, the interpreter of his words, and the Guardian of the Cause of God, all failed to realize this dream.
The Bahai community is administrated using two complementary sources. The first is in charge of legislation which is made up of the following:
The Universal House of Justice.
The second is in charge of interpreting and paraphrasing Bahai laws and orders and consists of Abdul Baha and after him the Guardians of the Cause of God who are Shoghi and his male descendants.
We will now proceed with analyzing the groups which constitute these sources.
1- Rulers and National Constitutions
As opposed to all other religions, Bahais must adhere to the orders of the kings and governments they live in regardless of whether these laws are correct, incorrect, moral, or oppressive. Bahaullah argues that since God has granted the kings and rulers authority over their lands, no one is allowed to oppose or disobey them:
God Mighty and Majestic be He, has granted the evident lands to the rulers. No one is allowed to oppose the verdict of the heads of the country.
Bahaullah, Iqtidarat wa chand lauh digar, p. 324
Every nation must have a high regard for the position of its sovereign, must be submissive unto him, must carry out his behests, and hold fast his authority. The sovereigns of the earth have been and are the manifestations of the power, the grandeur and the majesty of God.
Bahaullah, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 89
Abdul Baha too, orders Bahais to obey the rulers and kings:
No movement -minor or major - must be made without the consent and permission of the government. Whoever makes the slightest movement without the permission of the government will have disobeyed the Blessed Affair (meaning the Bahai creed) and no excuse will be accepted from him. God’s definite order is that the government must be obeyed. This [order] neither needs to be paraphrased nor interpreted. An example of obeying the government is this: not a single word can be published without the government’s permission. The duty of God’s Friends is to obey and submit to the government whether [that government is] a state or constitutional.
Abd al-Hamid Ishraq Khawari, Ganjiniy-i hudud wa ahkam, chap. 75, pp. 463-464
According to Bahai teachings, government orders must be preferred over Bahai laws:
The laws revealed by Bahaullah in the Aqdas are, whenever practicable and not in direct conflict with the Civil Law of the land, absolutely binding on every believer or Bahai institution whether in the East or in the West.
Bahaullah, The Kitabi Aqdas, p. 6
This means that regardless of the government being just or unjust, right or wrong, Bahais must adhere to its rules and orders even if it means disobeying their own religious decrees!
Although Abdul Baha had declared that "God’s definite order is that the government must be obeyed. This [order] neither needs to be paraphrased or interpreted," and neither him nor Bahaullah had announced any exception with regard to this law, Shoghi insists on implementing his own interpretation of these words. Shoghi claims that governments must only be obeyed if they impose limits on Bahai administrative affairs. In matters of belief no compromise is allowed and Bahais must disobey the government even if they are killed or banished:
Obedience to the state is so vital a principal of the Cause that should the authorities in . . . [sic] decide to-day to prevent the Bahais from holding any meeting or publishing any literature they should obey . . . [sic] But, as already pointed out, such an allegiance is confined merely to administrative matters which if checked can only retard the progress of the Faith for some time. In matters of belief, however, no compromise whatever should be allowed, even though the outcome of it be death or expulsion (From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 11, 1934).
Helen Bassett Hornby, Lights of Guidance: A Bahai Reference File, chap. XXXIX, no. 1455
According to the government rules of some countries, Bahais are not allowed to teach or preach their religion amongst non-Bahais. These orders are blatantly ignored by the Bahai community under the disguise of discrimination and freedom of religion. Ironically, Bahais gladly oblige to similar laws in Israel.
2- Baha'u'llah's Orders and Writings
The laws legislated by Bahaullah are incomplete and address very few issues. To remedy this shortcoming, Bahaullah has put it up to the UHJ to fill in the gaps regarding the laws that he had not decreed:
It is incumbent upon the Trustees of the House of Justice to take counsel together regarding those things which have not outwardly been revealed in the Book, and to enforce that which is agreeable to them. God will verily inspire them with whatsoever He willeth.
Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahaullah (US Bahai Publishing Trust, 1991 [first pocket-size edition]), p. 23
For instance, the punishment for robbery has been declared to be:
Exile and imprisonment are decreed for the thief, and, on the third offence, place ye a mark upon his brow so that, thus identified, he may not be accepted in the cities of God and His countries.
Bahaullah, The Kitabi Aqdas, pp. 35-36
But nothing has been said about the conditions of the thief and the severity of his actions that lead to such punishments. The order given to Bahais is:
All details concerning the nature of the mark, how the mark is to be applied, how long it must be worn, on what conditions it may be removed, as well as the seriousness of various degrees of theft have been left by Bahaullah for the Universal House of Justice to determine when the law is applied.
According to Shoghi Effendi, Bahaullah’s laws are incomplete:
Severed from the no less essential institution of the Universal House of Justice this same System of the Will of Abdul Baha would be paralyzed in its action and would be powerless to fill in those gaps which the Author of the Kitab-i-Aqdas has deliberately left in the body of His legislative and administrative ordinances.
With Bahaullah’s laws and orders incomplete and limited to only a few subjects, the UHJ is the only body that remains that can have a meaningful effect on the everyday lives of Bahais.
If the laws brought by this new creed are incomplete and must be completed by a group of people who are perfectly capable of committing mistakes, then what advantage does this religion have over ordinary legislative bodies in every country that consist of a number of fallible lawmakers? What problem has this creed solved?
3- Universal House of Justice
The Universal House of Justice is the supreme governing body of the Bahai creed and constitutes of nine members. The next governing body is the National Spiritual Assembly that is responsible for the administration of the Bahais of a country. Next in rank are the Regional Bahai councils that act under the supervision of the National Spiritual Assemblies. The lowest level of governance is performed by the Local Spiritual Assemblies.
Members of each of the aforementioned institutions are selected by ballot. All these institutions were originally referred to as Houses of Justice by Bahaullah but were given other names later on:
The Lord hath ordained that in every city a House of Justice be established wherein shall gather counsellors to the number of Baha, and should it exceed this number it doth not matter.
Bahaullah, The Kitabi Aqdas, p. 29
The Universal House of Justice can legislate new Bahai laws but may not alter the scriptural laws defined by Bahaullah and Abdul Baha’. Bahais regard the decrees of the UHJ to be divine and free from error:
And now, concerning the House of Justice which God hath ordained as the source of all good and freed from all error, it must be elected by universal suffrage, that is, by the believers.
The duties and method of administration of the UHJ are as follows:
By this House is meant the Universal House of Justice, that is, 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. Unto this body all things must be referred. It enacteth all ordinances and regulations that are not to be found in the explicit Holy Text. By this body all the difficult problems are to be resolved and the guardian of the Cause of God is its sacred head and the distinguished member for life of that body. Should he not attend in person its deliberations, he must appoint one to represent him. Should any of the members 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.
Shoghi Effendi, Bahai Administration, p. 10
No Bahai member is allowed under any condition to disobey the orders of the UHJ. In many cases, perpetrators have been excommunicated from the Bahai community.
4- Guardian of the Cause of God
The Guardians of the Cause of God are the legal interpreter and paraphrasers of Bahaullah’s words. Abdul Baha was the first of these and after him, this duty was given to Shoghi and his male descendants:
O my loving friends! After the passing away of this wronged one, it is incumbent upon the Aghsan (Branches), the Afnan (Twigs) of the Sacred Lote-Tree, the Hands (pillars) of the Cause of God and the loved ones of the Abha Beauty to turn unto Shoghi Effendi—the youthful branch branched from the two hallowed and sacred Lote-Trees and the fruit grown from the union of the two offshoots of the Tree of Holiness,—as he is the sign of God, the chosen branch, the Guardian of the Cause of God, he unto whom all the Aghsan, the Afnan, the Hands of the Cause of God and His loved ones must turn. He is the Interpreter of the Word of God and after him will succeed the first-born of his lineal descendents.
Abdul Baha, The Will and Testament of ‘Abdul Baha, p. 11
Regarding the Guardian and the UHJ, there are a number of fundamental contradictions and inconsistencies which are literally ignored by the Bahai community and administration.
The first is about the Bahai belief that Abdul Baha had superhuman knowledge ("He is, above and beyond these appellations, the "Mystery of God" - an expression by which Bahaullah Himself has chosen to designate Him, and which, while it does not by any means justify us to assign to Him the station of Prophethood, indicates how in the person of ‘Abdul Baha the incompatible characteristics of a human nature and superhuman knowledge and perfection have been blended and are completely harmonized," Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahaullah, p. 134) but he failed to foresee the fact that Shoghi was sterile and would have no children, and he erroneously stated that the Guardians are "the first-born of his lineal descendents."
Abdul Baha, The Will and Testament of ‘Abdul Baha, p. 11
The second is Abdul Baha’s claim that Shoghi (the Guardian) is blessed with unerring guidance:
The sacred and youthful branch, the Guardian of the Cause of God, as well as the Universal House of Justice to be universally elected and established, are both under the care and protection of the Abha Beauty, under the shelter and unerring guidance of the Exalted One (may my life be offered up for them both). Whatsoever they decide is of God. Whoso obeyeth him not, neither obeyeth them, hath not obeyed God; whoso rebelleth against him and against them hath rebelled against God; whoso opposeth him hath opposed God; whoso contendeth with them hath contended with God; whoso disputeth with him hath disputed with God.
Abdul Baha, The Will and Testament of ‘Abdul Baha, p. 11
Yet, this unerring guidance was of no use to him and he failed in appointing the next Guardian whilst he was still alive as he had been ordered:
O ye beloved of the Lord! It is incumbent upon the Guardian of the Cause of God to appoint in his own life-time him that shall become his successor, that differences may not arise after his passing.
Abdul Baha, The Will and Testament of ‘Abdul Baha, p. 12
The third matter is the Universal House of Justice which can only be run under the supervision of the Guardian of the Cause of God. After Shoghi, the Guardians ceased to exist and the UHJ lacks any legal basis for functioning. Thus in less than a hundred years after Bahaullah’s declaration, his prophecies reached a state of complete unfulfillness and the current UHJ and Bahai administration have no legitimacy whatsoever.
"The guardian of the Cause of God is its sacred head and the distinguished member for life of that body. Should he not attend in person its deliberations, he must appoint one to represent him," Shoghi Effendi, Bahai Administration, p. 10
Shoghi explains it more clearly:
This new Order which is superior to the void sickly orders of the world and is unique, unparalleled, and unheard of throughout the history of religions, is based on two powerful pillars: the first which is greater is the pillar of divine Guardianship that is the source of interpretations and the second pillar is the divine Universal House of Justice that is the reference of legislation. Just as it is impossible to separate between the laws of the Legislator of the Order (meaning Bahaullah) and his fundamental basis’ which the Center of the Covenant has declared, separating the two pillars of the New Order from each-other is impossible and infeasible.
Shoghi Effendi, Tauqi’at mubaraki khitab bi ahibba’ sharq (Langenhain [Germany]: Lajniyi Milli Nashr Athar Amri Bi Zabanhayi Farsi wa Arabi, 149 B.), p. 301
Divorced from the institution of the Guardianship the World Order of Bahaullah would be mutilated and permanently deprived of that hereditary principle which, as Abdul 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.
Severed from the no less essential institution of the Universal House of Justice this same System of the Will of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá would be paralyzed in its action and would be powerless to fill in those gaps which the Author of the Kitab-i-Aqdas has deliberately left in the body of His legislative and administrative ordinances.
Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahaullah, p. 148
Thus the gaps in Bahaullah’s laws are to remain forever unfilled and his decrees incomplete. The Bahai system remains paralyzed, the integrity of the faith imperiled, and the necessary guidance to define the sphere of the legislative action of its elected representatives are totally withdrawn! What Shoghi is saying here is that the lack of a Guardian, is the final nail in the coffin of the Bahai creed . . . even with all these clear clues and errors, Bahais still propagate their religion with pride and insist that their religion is from God and the sole source of salvation for mankind.
The articles have been based on the book "Avaze Dohol" - the Beating of the Drum by Masoud Basiti, Zahra Moradi.