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Lights of Guidance

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LIGHTS OF GUIDANCE
A Bahá'í Reference File
Compiled by Helen Hornby

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This etext is based on:
"Lights of Guidance: A Bahá'í Reference File" Compiled by Helen Bassett Hornby

Bahá'í Publishing Trust, P.O. Box 19, New Delhi 110 001 India
Copyright (c) National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Ecuador
First edition 1983, second revision 1988, third revision 1994

1994 Edition
Printed at Thomson Press (India)

Availability of this etext in no way modifies the copyright status of the above publication.
This etext is freely available through anonymous internet file-sharing.
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I. ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER

A. Administrative Order

1. Established First in America -- Not American Production

"The Administrative Order of the Cause, though first established in America, copied as a model by other national Bahá'í communities, is not an American production, but is a universal system based on the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh. It is not simply by coincidence however that it was first initiated and perfected by the American believers."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 29, 1938: Dawn of a New Day, p. 202)

2. Cannot be Identified with Principles of Present-Day Democracies

"... The administrative order which lies embedded in the Teachings of Bahá'u'lláh, and which the American believers have championed and are now establishing, should, under no circumstances, be identify with the principles underlying present - day democracies, Nor is it identical with any purely aristocratic or autocratic form of government. The objectionable features inherent in each of these political systems are entirely avoided. It blends, as no system of human polity has as yet achieved, those salutary truths and beneficial elements which constitute the valuable contributions which each of these forms of government have made to society in the past... ."

(Postscript written by the Guardian to a letter written on his behalf to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, November 18, 1933: The National Spiritual Assembly, p. 26)

B. Bahá'í Administration

3. The Ideal Instrument to Make Spiritual Laws Function Properly

"He hopes you will devote as much of your spare time as possible to the work of the Cause, especially in impressing upon the believers the importance of the Administration and helping them to really understand its purpose and all it can achieve once they get it to function properly. In other words it is a perfect form which must be animated by the spirit of the Cause. It is the ideal instrument to make spiritual laws function properly in the material affairs of this world."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, June 16, 1945)

4. Purpose of Administration

"Your letter of October 19, 1973 giving a comprehensive survey of developments throughout Australia is of great interest and we commend you on your manifold efforts to promote the Faith throughout that vast continent. 

"We urge you ever to bear in mind that the purpose of Bahá'í administration is primarily to lend strength and directive to the teaching work and to promote the establishment of the Faith. It should never be regarded as an end in itself but purely as a means to canalize and make effective a spiritual vitality generated by the Word of God in the hearts of the believers.

"The dedication and zeal with which you promote the Cause of God are highly commendable and we will pray at the Sacred Threshold that the process of expansion and consolidation will be greatly intensified as a result of your efforts."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia, November 12, 1973)

5. Social Order of Bahá'u'lláh

"... To accept the Cause without the administration is like to accept the teachings without acknowledging the divine station of Bahá'u'lláh. To be a Bahá'í is to accept the Cause in its entirety. To take exception to one basic principle is to deny the authority and sovereignty of Bahá'u'lláh, and therefore is to deny the Cause. The administration is the social order of Bahá'u'lláh. Without it all the principles of the Cause will remain abortive. to take exception to this, therefore, is to take exception to the fabric that Bahá'u'lláh has prescribed, it is to disobey his law."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, May 30, 1930: Bahá'í News, No. 43, August 1930, p. 3)

6. Relationship of the Cause to the Administration

"Regarding the relationship of the Cause to the Administration; the Bahá'í Faith as the Guardian himself has repeatedly and emphatically stated cannot be confined to a mere system of organization, however elaborate in its features and universal in its scope it may be. Organization is only a means to the realization of its aims and ideals, and not an end in itself. To divorce the two, however, would be to mutilate the Cause itself, as they stand inseparably bound to each other, in very much the same relationship existing between the soul and body in the world of human existence."

(From a letter on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer April 19, 1939)

C. Bahá'í Local Spiritual Assemblies

7. Assemblies Ordained by Bahá'u'lláh

"Addressing the nations, the Ancient Beauty ordaineth that in every city in the world a house be established in the name of justice wherein shall gather pure and steadfast souls to the number of the most Great Name (9). At this meeting they should feel as if they were entering the presence of God, inasmuch as this binding command hath flowed from the Pen of Him Who is the Ancient of Days. The glances of God are directed towards this Assembly."

(Bahá'u'lláh: From a newly translated tablet cited in the Local Spiritual Assembly, p. 6, compiled by the Universal House of Justice)

8. Established in Every City -- Counsellors to the Number of Baha (9)

"the Lord hath ordained that in every city a House of Justice be established wherein shall gather counsellors to the number of Baha (9), and should it exceed this number it does not matter..."

(Bahá'u'lláh: Synopsis and Codification of the Laws and Ordinances of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, p. 13, No. 5)

9. Purpose of Spiritual Assemblies

"... These bodies have the sacred obligation to help, advise, protect and guide the believers in every way within their power when appealed to -- indeed they were established must for the purpose of keeping order and unity and obedience to the law of God amongst the believers.

"You should go to them as a child would to its parents... ."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, September 28, 1941: The Local Spiritual Assembly, compiled by the Universal House of Justice)

10. Their Defender is 'Abdu'l-Bahá

"These Spiritual Assemblies are aided by the Spirit of God. Their defender is 'Abdu'l-Bahá. Over them He spreadeth His wings. What bounty is there greater than this? ... These Spiritual Assemblies are shining lamps and heavenly gardens, from which the fragrances of holiness are diffused over all regions, and the lights of knowledge are shed abroad over all created things. From them the spirit of life streameth in every direction. They, indeed, are the potent sources of the progress of man, at all times and under all conditions."

('Abdu'l-Bahá: God Passes By, p. 332 and the Local Spiritual Assembly)

11. Assemblies Styled Differently in Future

"... Not only will the present -- day Spiritual Assemblies be styled differently in future, but will be enabled also to add to their present functions those powers, duties, and prerogatives necessitated by the recognition of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh, not merely as one of the recognized religious systems of the world, but as the State Religion of an independent and Sovereign Power..."

(Shoghi Effendi: The Bahá'í World, Vol. III, p. 108)

12. Assembly Operates at First Levels of Human Society

"The divinely ordained institution of the local Spiritual Assembly operates at the first levels of human society and is the basic administrative unit of Bahá'u'lláh's world Order. It is concerned with individuals and families whom it must constantly encourage to unite in a distinctive Bahá'í society, vitalized and guarded by the laws, ordinances and principles of Bahá'u'lláh's Revelation. It protects the Cause of God; it acts as the loving shepherd of the Bahá'í flock."

(Message from the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá'ís of the world, Naw-Ruz 1974, paragraph 13)

13. Strengthening of Local Spiritual Assemblies -- Nerve centres of Communities

"Great attention should be paid to the strengthening of local Spiritual Assemblies which must act as the nerve centres of the Bahá'í communities in the towns and villages, promote Bahá'í education of the youth and children, and increase cooperation and participation of the believers in Bahá'í community life. Travelling teachers and all who are actively engaged in spreading the Message should rededicate themselves to their vital work and set out with renewed enthusiasm. They should aim at assisting as large a number as possible of Bahá'í communities to stand on their own feet and become capable of carrying out the thrilling tasks which they are called upon to discharge in the Vineyard of God in this Day."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of India, February 8, 1972: see section, "Visiting Teachers -- What They Are Supposed to Do")

14. Primary Purpose to Promote Teaching Work

"And since the primary purpose for which Local Spiritual Assemblies are established is to promote the teaching work, it is clear that every National Spiritual Assembly must give careful consideration to ways and means to encourage each Local Assembly under its jurisdiction to fulfil its principal obligation... it is important that Local Assemblies share with the local friends stories of successes achieved by some of them, descriptions of effective presentations found useful by them, examples of various ways that a Bahá'í subject could be introduced to inquirers, or illustrations of methods which would enable the believer to relate the needs of society to our teachings. Such information and suggestions should be offered to the friends at Nineteen Day Feasts, through a local newsletter, or by any means open to each Local Assembly. In all these contacts with the believers, each Local Spiritual Assembly should impress upon the friends the unique and irreplaceable role the individual plays in the prosecution of any Bahá'í undertaking...

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, March 3, 1977)

15. Areas Under Jurisdiction of Local Spiritual Assemblies -- National Spiritual Assembly Must Study

"The matter of the areas under the jurisdiction of a Local Spiritual Assembly is one which the National Assembly must study, and apply the principles laid down by the Guardian; namely, that within a municipal area, where the people resident in the area pay taxes and vote, the Assembly can be elected, and holds jurisdiction. Anyone living outside of that area is not a member of that Community and cannot enjoy the administrative privileges of that Community. Although this will affect your Assembly roll, it will place the work of the Faith on a much sounder bases, and increase the number of Centres where the Bahá'ís reside... . It will challenge the friends to work harder to create new Assemblies and make up for those dissolved... "

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia and New Zealand, June 13, 1936: Letters from the Guardian to Australia and New Zealand, pp. 130-131)

16. Local Spiritual Assemblies -- Created by Bahá'u'lláh in His Kitáb-i-Aqdas

"As to your query about the Local Spiritual Assembly, it is indeed a divine institution, created by Bahá'u'lláh in His Kitáb-i-Aqdas as the Local House of Justice. 'Abdu'l-Bahá has clearly set out its provenance, authority and duties and has explained the differences between it and other administrative institutions, whether of the past or the present. We refer you to the book "Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá", 37, 38, and 40.

"It is clear that while Local Spiritual Assemblies must supervise all Bahá'í matters in their areas, including arrangements for the Nineteen Day Feast, the observance of the Holy Days, the election of the members of the Assembly, promoting the teaching work, caring for the spiritual welfare and Bahá'í education of the friends and children, etc., they and the friends themselves must at the same time be good citizens and loyal to the civil government, whether it be a Tribal council, a Cacique or a municipal authority."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Brazil, April 13, 1983)

D. Formation of Local Spiritual Assemblies

17. Forming Local Assemblies -- Obligation to Establish

"Shoghi Effendi feels that in any locality where the number of adult believers reaches nine, a Local Assembly should be established. He feels this to be an obligation rather than a purely voluntary act. Only in exceptional cases has the National Spiritual Assembly the right to postpone the formation of an Assembly if it feels that the situation does not warrant such a formation. This right, however, should be exercised if the situation absolutely demands it. As to the principle according to which the area of jurisdiction of a Local Assembly is to be determined, he feels, this to be the function of the National Spiritual Assembly; whatever principle they uphold should be fairly applied to all localities without any distinction whatever."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, April 11, 1931: Bahá'í News, No. 55, September 1931, p. 1)

18. A community of Nine Adult Believers Must Form an Assembly by Joint Declaration

"In reply to your letter of 28 October 1980 we are intrusted to make the following points:

(1) There is nothing in the directives of the beloved Guardian or in the by-laws of Local Spiritual Assemblies to require that the joint declaration of a new Local Spiritual Assembly be signed. The way the declaration is made is within the discretion of the National Spiritual Assembly to determine, and it may or may not require signatures.

(2) Wherever at Ridvan there are nine or more adult believers resident in an area properly qualified for the establishment of a Local spiritual Assembly the Assembly must be formed at Ridvan.

(3) If the number of adult resident believers is exactly nine the Local Spiritual Assembly must be formed by joint declaration in a manner acceptable to the National Spiritual Assembly and the secretary of the National Spiritual Assembly will record the formation of the Local Assembly.

(4) When the Spiritual Assembly is to be formed for the first time and one more of the adult believers refuses to join in the declaration, the Spiritual Assembly cannot be formed."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Iceland, December 2, 1980)

19. Duty of Every Bahá'í to Take part in Joint Declaration

"The statement that it is a condition to the formation of a local Spiritual Assembly that there be at least nine adult believers who are ready, willing and able to serve on the Local Assembly, should not be construed as giving any Bahá'í the right to refuse to take part in the formation of the Assembly. It is merely a statement of a factual condition. The national Bahá'í Constitution specifies: 'When ... the number of Bahá'ís in any authorized civil area is exactly nine, these shall on April 21st of any year, or in successive years, constitute themselves the Local Spiritual Assembly by joint declaration. Upon the recording of such declaration by the Secretary of the National Spiritual Assembly, said body of nine shall become established with the rights, privileges and duties of a Local Spiritual Assembly... It can therefore be seen that it is the duty of every Bahá'í in such a situation to take part in the joint declaration. If a Bahá'í however refuses to do so he should be helped to realize that he has committed a grave dereliction of his Bahá'í duty. In this stage of the development of the Cause a National Spiritual Assembly should note generally, deprive a believer of his voting rights for such an offence, but should lovingly and patiently educate the friends in the importance of their responsibilities".

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of New Zealand, October 12, 1969)

20. Believer Must Be "a Resident" to Participate in the Formation of a Spiritual Assembly -- Unusual Cases as Exceptions

"To count as a member of a local Bahá'í community for the purpose of forming or maintaining the Local Spiritual Assembly, a believer must be resident in that area of jurisdiction on the First Day of Ridvan. This is the principle. What constitutes 'residence; is a secondary matter for each National Spiritual Assembly to decide, but there is no exception to the principle that a believer must be resident in order to participate in the formation of the Spiritual Assembly.

"You will see from the above instruction that it is not possible for believers living outside the civil limits of a locality to count as members of that community. There are, of course, many unusual cases. For example, it may be that a university student spends some six months of the year in the town where his university is, and the other half-year in the home of his parents. In such a case it is normal to permit him to choose which of the two places is to count as his residence for Bahá'í purposes; one cannot count as being 'resident' in two places at once. It is, moreover, not essential for a person to be physically present to be resident. There are many instances of a sailor or salesman who spends most of his time moving from place to place but who is indisputably resident in the town where his family lives. All such matters must be decided by the National Spiritual Assembly in the light of the circumstances of each case within the general framework of the definition of 'residence' that it adopts. Such a definition must, of course, be a reasonable one, otherwise the principle would be nullified."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of France, September 18, 1985)

21. Re-Formation by election or Joint Declaration -- Refusal of a Believer to Participate does not Prevent Re-Forming Assembly

"In subsequent years the Assembly must be re-formed each Ridvan, either by election, if the number of voting believers exceeds nine, or by joint declaration the number is exactly nine. The failure or refusal of a believer to take part in the joint declaration would not be a bar to the re-formation of the Assembly.

"Where the number of voting believers resident in a community falls below nine during the cause of a year, the Local Spiritual Assembly is not automatically dissolved; it can continue in existence so long as the National Spiritual Assembly has the hope and expectation of being able to restore the number, by enrollment or pioneers. If, however, the number is not restored by the following Ridvan, the Assembly will lapse."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Canada, July 22, 1981)

22. Circumstances Under Which an Assembly Should not be Immediately Considered Lapsed

"He feels that where the dissolution of an Assembly is in question each case should be treated separately in this sense, that if a member moves away permanently. leaving less than 9 to function, the Spiritual Assembly should not immediately be dissolved if they, its members, see an immediate remedy in view; in other words if they are going to confirm soon, or receive within a reasonable length of time, someone to take the person's place. they need not to give up Assembly status. If they do, for insurmountable reason, fall below Assembly status, then they can only be reconstituted on April 21st. Also if certain members temporarily absent themselves from meetings there is no need to dissolve the Assembly; on the contrary the reluctant ones should be educated and encouraged to reassume their spiritual obligations as believers. A spiritual Assembly is not based on 9 people being available for every single meeting but on 9 resident Bahá'ís doing their best to discharge their duty to the Spiritual Assembly when they are not prevented by illness or absence or some legitimate reason for doing so."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, March 31, 1945)

23. Members of Lapsed Assembly -- Responsible to Notify National Secretary

'... any Assembly which is dissolved must immediately report to the national secretary, who must always keep an up to date list of Assemblies. Any dissolved Assembly cannot be reconstituted until the time for election in April... . " (From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, April 13, 1944: The Covenant and Administration, p.62)

24. Spiritual Assembly Jurisdiction Changes -- As Civil Units are Modified

"The general principle is that Local Spiritual Assembly may be formed in the smallest civil administrative units of the country. If these areas are enlarged or reduced in size by the Government the area of jurisdiction of the Local Spiritual Assembly should likewise be changed."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Zambia, June 8, 1978)

25. Assemblies Cannot be Formed in Prison

"... the Hands of the Cause residing in the Holy Land have shared with us a portion of the February 3rd letter of... referring to teaching in the prison in ...and to the formation of Local Assemblies in cell blocks, While this teaching work is commendable those who accept Bahá'u'lláh under these conditions cannot undertake administrative responsibilities, nor can Local Assemblies be formed in prisons. However, they may observe Nineteen Day Feasts, Bahá'í Holy Days, and other Bahá'í events. When they return to their own communities they may participate in administrative affairs as well."

(Letter from the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Ecuador, February 9, 1972: Extract from a letter written to another National Spiritual Assembly, June 11, 1964)

26. Qualifications of Assembly Members -- Subject to Human Limitations

"with reference to your next question concerning the qualification of the members of the Spiritual Assembly; there is a distinction of fundamental importance which should be always remembered in this connection, and this is between the Spiritual Assembly as an institution, and the persons who compose it. These are by no means supposed to be perfect, nor can they are considered as being inherently superior to the rest of their fellow believers, It is precisely because they are subject to the same human limitation that characterize the other members of the community that they have to be elected every year. The existence of election is a sufficient indication that Assembly members, through forming apart of an institution that is divine and perfect, are nevertheless themselves imperfect. But this does not necessarily imply that their judgement is defective."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 15, 1935)

27. Qualifications Outlined Applicable to Anyone Elected

"In regard to your question about qualification of delegates and Assembly members: the qualifications which he outlines are really applicable to anyone we elect to a Bahá'í office, whatever its nature. But these are only an indication, they do not mean people who don't fulfill them cannot be elected to office. We must aim as high as we can."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, October 24, 1947: The Spiritual Character of Bahá'í Elections)

28. Auxiliary Board Members, Eligibility of

"All adults Bahá'ís, including members of the Auxiliary Board, are
eligible to vote in elections for delegates or in elections for
members of the Local Spiritual Assembly."
(Letter from the Universal House of Justice to the National Assembly of
Uganda and Central Africa, April 10, 1966)

29. Board Members May Serve on Assembly Temporarily

"In all three areas of election, Auxiliary Board members are eligible to be elected. Therefore, a ballot should not be invalidated because it contains the name of a member of an Auxiliary Board. The basic principle involved is that the Board member himself must decide whether or not to accept his election. As you have stated in your letter, if the membership in a Bahá'í community drops to nine, including the Auxiliary Board member resident there, the Auxiliary Board member may serve temporarily as a member of the Assembly to preserve its Assembly status."

(Letter from the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, March 25, 1966, cited in the compilation Auxiliary Board Members)

30. Annual Elections Provide Opportunity to Remedy defects the Assembly May Suffer

"For as 'Abdu'l-Bahá has repeatedly emphasized Bahá'í Assemblies are under the guidance and protection of God. The elections, specially when annual, give the community a good opportunity to remedy any defects or imperfection from which the Assembly may suffer as a result of the action of its members. Thus a safe method has been established whereby the quality of membership in Bahá'í Assemblies can be continually raised and improved. But, as already stated, the institution of the Spiritual Assembly should under no circumstances be identified with, or be estimated merely through, the personal Qualification of the members that compose it."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 15, 1935)

31. Absence of Nomination in Bahá'í Elections -- A Distinguishing Feature

"As to the practice of nomination on Bahá'í elections, this the Guardian firmly believes to be in fundamental dis-accord with the spirit which should animate and direct all elections held by the Bahá'ís, be they of a local or national character and importance. It is, indeed, the absence of such a practice that constitutes the distinguishing feature and the marked superiority of the Bahá'í electoral methods over those commonly associated with political parties and factions. The practice of nomination being thus contrary to the spirit of Bahá'í Administration should be totally discarded by all the friends. For otherwise the freedom of the Bahá'í elector in choosing the members of any Bahá'í Assembly will be seriously endangered leaving the way open for the domination of personalities. Not only that; but the mere act of nomination leads eventually to the formation of parties a thing which is totally alien to the spirit of the Cause."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 4, 1935)

32. Bahá'í Electoral Procedures Develop Spirit of Responsibility

"In addition to these serious dangers, the practice of nomination has the great disadvantage of killing in the believers the spirit of initiative, and of self-development. Bahá'í electoral procedures and methods have, indeed, for one of their essential purposes the development in every believer of the spirit of responsibility. By emphasizing the necessity of maintaining his full freedom in the elections, they make it incumbent upon him to become an active and well -- informed member of the Bahá'í community in which he lives." (Ibid)

33. Freedom of Believers to Choose

'... I do not feel it to be in keeping with the spirit of the Cause to impose any limitations upon the freedom of the believers to choose those of any race, nationality or temperament, who best combine the essential qualification for membership of administrative institutions. They should disregard personalities and concentrate their attention on the qualities and requirements of office, without prejudice, passion or partially. The Assembly should be representative of the choicest and most varied and capable elements in every Bahá'í community."

(Letter from the Guardian to an individual believer, August 11, 1933: The Spiritual Character of Bahá'í Elections, p. 3)

34. Believers Should Become intelligent, Well -- Informed and Responsible Electors[1]
[1 See also: Section 1.F]

"To be able to make a wise choice at the election time, it is necessary for him to be in close and continued contact with all of his fellow -- believers, to keep in touch with local activities, be they teaching, administrative or otherwise, and to fully and whole-heartedly participate in the affairs of the local as well as national committees and Assemblies in his country. It is only in this way that a believer can develop a true social consciousness, and acquire a true sense of responsibility in matters affecting the interests of the Cause. Bahá'í community life thus makes it a duty for every loyal land faithful believer to become an intelligent, well -- informed and responsible elector, and also gives him the opportunity of raising himself to such a station. And since the practice of nomination hinders the development of such qualities in the believers, and in addition leads to corruption and partisanship, it has to be entirely discarded in a Bahá'í elections."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 4, 1935)

35. Canvassing is Deprecated

"The strength and progress of the Bahá'í community depend upon the election of pure, faithful an active souls... Canvassing is deprecated... .

"Bahá'í election of the Community are... sanctified from all traces of canvassing and plotting that characterize the activities of the perfidious."

(Letter from Shoghi Effendi to the friends in Persia, April 9, 1932: The Spiritual Character of Bahá'í Elections, p.3)

36. Reference to Personalities Before Election

"I feel that reference to personalities before the election would give rise to misunderstanding and differences. What the friends should do is to get thoroughly acquainted with one another, to exchange views, to mix freely and discuss among themselves the requirements, and qualification for such a membership without reference or application, however indirect, to particularly individuals, but should stress the necessity of getting fully acquainted with the qualifications of membership referred to in our Beloved's Tablets and of learning more about one another through direct, personal experience rather than through the reports and opinions of our friends."

(Letter from Shoghi Effendi to the Spiritual Assembly of Akron, Ohio, May 14, 1927: Principles of Bahá'í Administration, p. 46)

37. Avoid Intrigues

"Beware, beware lest the foul odour of the parties and people of foreign lands in the west, and their pernicious methods, such as intrigues, party politics and propaganda -- practices which are abhorrent even in name -- should ever reach the Bahá'í community, exert any influence what ever upon the friends, and thus bring a spirituality to naught. The friends should, through their devotion, love, loyalty and altruism, abolish these evil practices, not imitate them. It is only after the friends completely ignore an sanctify themselves from these evils, that the spirit of God can penetrate and operate in the body of humanity, and in the Bahá'í Community."

(Letter from the Guardian to the friends in Persia, January 30, 1923: The Spiritual Character of Bahá'í Elections, p. 10)

38. Election Day

"On the election day the friends must whole-heartedly participate in the elections, in unity and amity, turning their hearts to God, detached from all things but Him, seeking His guidance and supplicating His aid and bounty."

(Letter from the Guardian to the friends in Persia, January 30, 1923: The Spiritual Character of Bahá'í Elections, p. 1)

39. Prayer and Reflection Before Voting

"... the elector... is called upon to vote for none but those whom prayer and reflection have inspired him to uphold. Moreover, the practice of nomination, so detrimental to the atmosphere of a silent and prayerful election, is viewed with mistrust, inasmuch as it gives the right,... to deny that God-given right of every elector to vote only in favour of those who he is conscientiously convinced are the most worthy candidates. (From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, May 27, 1927: Bahá'í Administration, p. 136)

"... in the time of election, the friends should be in the mood of prayer, disinterestedness and detachment from worldly motives. Then they will be inspired to elect the proper members to the assemblies."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, June 7, 1924)

40. Procedure for Voting by Mail

"The same procedure in voting should be followed, namely, the ballot should be placed and sealed in an unmarked inner envelop and that envelop placed in an outer envelope marked with the name of the voter... ."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, January 21, 1973)

41. No Quorum Required for Election of an Assembly

"no quorum is required in the holding of an election for a Local Spiritual Assembly. This rule also applies in the case of By - elections, The mere fact that less than nine vote for the members of the Local Spiritual Assembly does not invalidate the election.

"As you know, the National Assembly can always look into the circumstances surrounding a Local Spiritual Assembly election and use its discretion in determining whether, considering all circumstances, the existence of the Local Spiritual Assembly should be recognized."

(Letter from the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Ecuador, April 16, 1969)

42. Bahá'í Elections for Spiritual Assemblies Cast Nine Votes Neither More Than Less[1]
[1 See: I.F. Instructions of Tellers, Priority of Minorities, Approval of Outgoing Assembly, Nos. 80-94]

"Concerning the question you have asked as to whether in elections for Spiritual Assemblies the electors should cast exactly nine votes, or may cast less than this number. Inasmuch as Spiritual Assembly membership according to the principles of Bahá'í Administration, has been limited for the present to nine members, it follows that no electoral vote can be effective unless it is cast for exactly that number. It is, therefore, the sacred duty of every Bahá'í elector to cast nine votes, neither more nor less, except under special circumstances so as to insure that the results of the election for the Spiritual Assembly will be effective and on as wide a basis of representation as possible."

(From a letter dated March 27 1940 Written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles)

43. Believer Has Right to Vote for Himself

"A believer has the right to vote for himself during the elections time, if he conscientiously feels the urge to do so. This does not necessarily means that he is ambitious or selfish. For he might conscientiously believes that this qualifications entitle him to membership in a Bahá'í administrative body, and he might be right. The essential, however, is that he should be sincere in his belief, and should act according to the dictates of his conscience. Moreover, membership in an Assembly or committee is a form of service, and should not be looked upon as a mark of inherent superiority or a means for self-praise."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of India, Pakistan and Burma, March 27, 1938, Dawn of a New Day, pp. 200-201)

44. Votes Confidential

"One's vote should be kept confidential. It is not permissible to make any reference whatsoever to individual names. The friends must avoid the evil methods and detestable practices of the politicians. They must turn completely to God and with a purity of motive, a freedom of spirit and a sanctity of heart, participate in the elections; otherwise the outcome will be chaos and confusion, serious difficulties will ensure, mischief will abound and the confirmation of God will be cut off."

(Letter from the Guardian to the friends in Persia, January 16, 1932: The Spiritual Character of Bahá'í Elections, p. 2)

45. Secret Ballot

"Let them exercise the utmost vigilance so that the elections are carried out freely, universally and by secret ballot. Any form of intrigue,deception, collusion and compulsion must be stopped and is forbidden.

(Letter from the Guardian to the friends in Persia, January 16, 1932: The Spiritual Character of Bahá'í Elections, p. 2)

46. Results of Election Should be Accepted

"... .Once Assembly elections are over, the result should be conscientiously and unquestionable accepted by the entire body of the believers, not necessarily because they represent the voice of truth or the will of Bahá'u'lláh, but for the supreme purpose of maintaining unity and harmony in the Community. Besides, the acceptance of majority vote is the only effective and practical way of settling deadlocks in elections. No other solution is indeed possible."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, July 10, 1939)

47. Breaking of Tie Votes

"Regarding your question about the breaking of tie votes, a balloting to break such a tie vote for members of a Spiritual Assembly may be held after the first day of Ridvan if necessary, but obviously the day of balloting should not be delayed too long." (From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of El Salvador, July 4, 1972)

48. If Enrolled Believer Withdraws -- Subsequently Elected to Spiritual Assembly

"Regarding your last question, if, prior to local elections an enrolled believer withdraws from the Faith and this leads to the removal of his name from Bahá'í membership, and yet he is subsequently elected to the Local Assembly, such votes as have been case in his name are disregarded without invalidating the remaining votes on the ballots. If, however,the process of withdrawal has not taken place, that is, the believer refuses on the day of election to participate and expresses then his desire to withdraw from the community, and yet he is subsequently elected to the Assembly, since his withdrawal is generally unknown to the friends, in such a case the remaining eight elected members should meet, consider the withdrawal, and if his name has to be removed from Bahá'í membership, a By-election should be held to fill the vacancy."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Ecuador, December 11, 1979)

49. Mass Migrations

"Local Assemblies cannot be formed any time during the year, unless, it is for the first time. The house of Justice fully understands the problem you face each year in forming the ... Assemblies due to the mass migration of the friends during the pine nuts harvest. However, the Assemblies in that area cannot be elected before January 15 or after May 15 as you have suggested. We have noted form your letter that not all of the ... friends may migrate to the higher regions during the Ridvan period, which means that those remaining at home may hold elections. Those Bahá'ís who leave their homes and are absent during the Ridvan period may leave their votes with those believers remaining behind, who will on the First Day of Ridvan count the ballots and report the results of the election to the National Spiritual Assembly or its representative.

"If all the friends from one Spiritual Assembly jurisdiction go away to work at different location and there is nobody left in the village to review their votes, they may write out their ballot before dispersing and sent them to the National Assembly or to any committee appointed by that body, who at Ridvan will open and count the votes and inform the Bahá'ís when they return home of those elected to the Local Assembly.

"When the entire Bahá'í population of a village moves away together to a new location an is absent during the Ridvan period, they may elect their Assembly at Ridvan and function as a Local Assembly when they return home."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Chile, January 1, 1984)

50. When Conditions Beyond Human Control Prevent Election of Assembly at Ridvan

"Local Spiritual Assemblies which have not been re-elected during the Ridvan period must be considered as groups. However, there may be cases when conditions beyond the control of the local believers exist, such as, as you have said, the 'Bahá'ís had left the community because of flooding, or extremely inclement weather conditions made it impossible to hold the election. In such cases which, by their very nature, should be rare, the National Spiritual Assembly may use it discretion in recognizing the Local Spiritual Assembly, considering it a group, or decide to hold the election of such Local Spiritual Assemblies at a later date when the friends have returned to their communities."