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History 5 - The Universal House of Justice

The Seat of The Universal House of justice in Haifa, Israel
© Rocky Grove 2004

History 5 - The Universal House of Justice

The Universal House of Justice is the international governing council of the Bahá’í Faith. Bahá’ís believe that its decision-making is guided by God. The Universal House of Justice has the authority to legislate on all matters which Bahá’u’lláh himself did not explicitly address. It also has the authority to repeal or change its own legislation as conditions change, providing necessary flexibility for the future. The Universal House of Justice guides and oversees the development of the Bahá’í community.

Who ordained the institution of the Universal House of Justice?
Shoghi Effendi
The Báb
Bahá’u’lláh wrote that “the men of the House of Justice … are the trustees of God among His servants and the daysprings of authority in His countries”.
Bahá’u’lláh promised that if the Bahá’ís accepted his appointed successors and followed their guidance, the Bahá’í Faith would stay united. (These successors were `Abdu’l-Bahá, the Guardian and the Universal House of Justice.) This promise is known to Bahá’ís as what?
The Covenant
The Agreement
The Promise
The Blessing
Various people have tried to take power to themselves over the decades but their efforts have always come to nothing in the end.
The Universal House of Justice has met outside the Haifa / Akka area on one occasion. Where and when was this?
London, in May 1963
Germany, in July 1964
Panama City, in May 1972
New York, in November 1992
Very soon after the election of the first Universal House of Justice, the first Bahá’í World Congress was held in London and the new body met during this period.
How often does the Universal House of Justice send a message to all the Bahá’ís in the world?
At least once a year
Every 6 months
Every 5 years
The Universal House of Justice writes a message to the Bahá’ís of the world every year at the festival of Ridván (21 April), encouraging and guiding them in their activities. It may also send additional messages at any time, as necessary.
When was the first Universal House of Justice elected?
The Guardian (Shoghi Effendi) passed away in 1957, and for the next 6 years the affairs of the worldwide Bahá’í community were administered by a group of individuals whom Shoghi Effendi had designated ‘Hands of the Cause of God’. This process had been described in `Abdu’l-Bahá’s will. They called an election in 1963 for the first Universal House of Justice, declaring that they themselves were ineligible for election.
Where was the first election of the Universal House of Justice held?
London, UK
Tehran, Iran
Haifa, Israel
New York, USA
The election was held in the former home of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Haifa. 288 members of 51 national spiritual assemblies were present at the election, and ballots were received from all 56 national spiritual assemblies in existence at the time.
How long can someone serve as a member of the Universal House of Justice?
5 years
9 years
10 years (two 5-year terms)
Elections are held every 5 years, and an individual member can be re-elected any number of times.
In 1963 there were 56 national spiritual assemblies and all of them took part in the election of the first Universal House of Justice. 10 years later in 1973, how many national assemblies were there?
Through the guidance of the Universal House of Justice, which began to develop global ‘plans’ for the guidance and development of the Bahá'í international community, the Bahá'í population around the world grew significantly and the number of national spiritual assemblies more than doubled in ten years.
Who chairs the meetings of the Universal House of Justice?
The member who received the most votes in the election
The member who has been a member for the longest time
The members elect a chairman
They all take turns
This ensures that no-one can appear to have a status above the other members. Their letters are not signed with anyone’s name, but just “The Universal House of Justice”.
Which of the following is not among the responsibilities of the Universal House of Justice?
Promoting peace and amity among the nations
Safeguarding the rights, freedom and initiative of the individual
Preserving and safeguarding the sacred texts of the Bahá’í Faith
Stimulating and encouraging individual Bahá’ís
Members of bodies appointed by the Universal House of Justice may work with individual Bahá’ís, to stimulate and encourage them in their work, but this is not a task generally undertaken by the Universal House of Justice as a body.


Author:  National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United Kingdom

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