“So powerful is the light of unity,” Bahá’u’lláh declared, “that it can illuminate the whole earth.” “We, verily,” He further stated, “have come to unite and weld together all that dwell on earth.” Bahá’u’lláh made the oneness of humankind the central principle and goal of His Faith, a vision that implies the organic and spiritual unity of the whole body of nations and signalizes the “coming of age of the entire human race.”

In order to effectively promote the unity of the world’s peoples, the Bahá’í Faith must itself be firmly united. The unity and spiritual health of the Bahá’í community has been assured by provisions in the writings of Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá that establish authoritative guidance on the intent of Bahá’u’lláh’s revelation and on the administration of the affairs of the global Bahá’í community. Throughout the critical first periods of the Faith’s existence these provisions have protected the Bahá’í community from sectarianism and division, and have enabled it to adapt itself to the requirements of a rapidly evolving civilization. The institutions which embody this authority, are the Guardianship and the Universal House of Justice.

Statements, letters and commentaries found on this site explore and elaborate key concepts and questions related to this unique Covenantal system brought by Bahá’u’lláh–”the potent instrument by which individual belief in Him is translated into constructive deeds,” and through which “divinely conceived arrangements necessary to preserve the organic unity of the Cause,” harmonize the efforts of individuals, communities and institutions, giving rise to a motivating power “which like unto the artery, beats and pulsates in the body of the world.”

This moment in history

Humanity’s evolution has been marked by such progressive stages of social organization as family, tribe, city-state and nation. Bahá’u’lláh’s express purpose was to usher in the next and ultimate stage, namely, world unity – the harbinger of the Great Peace foretold in the world’s religions. As the Word of God as revealed by Bahá’u’lláh is the source and impetus of this new vision of human unity, so the Covenant He has established is the organizing principle for its realization.

The idea of the existence of a divine pattern for the continuous administration and development of the Bahá’í Faith is as important to the definition of Bahá’í belief as are the spiritual and social doctrines of Bahá’u’lláh. Bahá’ís believe that the “Administrative Order” created by Bahá’u’lláh, and built up by His successors ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi, defines a pattern of cooperative decision-making and social interaction that cultivates the moral and creative capacities latent in human nature. It provides a model of the institutional structures necessary for global community life–a pattern of living that embraces diversity and fosters mutuality of purpose, compassion, justice and rectitude of conduct. A singular feature of this administrative system is the balance it strikes between preserving individual freedom and promoting the collective good. Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith, wrote:

…this Administrative Order is fundamentally different from anything that any Prophet has previously established, inasmuch as Bahá’u’lláh Himself revealed its principles, established its institutions, appointed the person to interpret His Word, and conferred the necessary authority on the body [the Universal House of Justice] designed to supplement and apply His legislative ordinances.

The Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh

Bahá’u’lláh’s Covenant guarantees both unity of understanding of His Faith’s fundamental doctrines and actualization of that unity in the Bahá’í community’s spiritual and social development. It is distinguished by its provision for authentic interpretation of the sacred texts and for an authorized system of administration, at the apex of which is an elected legislative body, the Universal House of Justice, empowered to supplement the laws revealed by Bahá’u’lláh in response to the evolving needs of humanity. This Covenant is the most remarkable feature of His Revelation, for it is designed, unlike any religious system of the past, to preserve the unity of all humanity through the organic workings of a social order based on spiritual principles. As ‘Abdu’l-Bahá explains: “The power of the Covenant is as the heat of the sun which quickeneth and promoteth the development of all created things on earth.”

The vibrant ethos of unity, service, and love animating Bahá’í activity around the globe is evidence of the ennobling influence of the Covenant and how the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh are being actualized in the lives of individuals and communities across a diverse spectrum of cultures. The 60-year public record of the Universal House of Justice provides a vast body of guidance and activity whereby inquirers can gain insight into the spirit and principles with which the head of the Faith operates in realizing Bahá’u’lláh’s vision of spiritual and social transformation. The tired approaches and prevailing theories of social organization simply cannot stand up to the remarkable scope and achievements of the Bahá’í Administrative Order—an Order that “constitutes the very pattern of that divine civilization which the almighty Law of Bahá’u’lláh is designed to establish upon earth”.

A Universally Transformative Power

The Bahá’í community is currently traversing the first stage in the flowering of the divine authority which Bahá’u’lláh planted in human affairs through the establishment of His Covenant and His appointment of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá as its Center. This authority, which is an expression of the love of God, has the power, at the individual level, to captivate hearts and transform character. It provides us with a code of conduct that leads towards social progress. At the community level, the loving authority at the heart of the Faith molds our social relationships and reshapes consciousness. It guides us to manifest a quality of love and to maintain unity in our dealings with each other. At an institutional level, the Covenant gives us administrative channels through which love flows, and it defines our relationship with those institutions. The transformative power of the Covenant expresses the essential feature of Bahá’u’lláh’s World Order, cherished by Him above anything else: “The best beloved of all things in My sight is Justice.” As humanity comes of age, the peoples of the world are awakening to the fact of their oneness and to the vision of the earth as a single homeland. The spiritual authority of Bahá’u’lláh’s Covenant provides us with a framework for healing past differences, whether of race, class or creed, and establishes a new kind of relationship between us and our Creator. The moral empowerment that comes to us through this divine bestowal will enable us, for the first time in human history, to build a unified global society.