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Religion Library: Baha'i

Modern Age

Written by: Moojan Momen

Shoghi Effendi established close links between the Baha'i Faith and the emerging global society. He set up the International Baha'i Bureau in Geneva to liaise with the League of Nations and later, in 1948, the Baha'i International Community to liaise with the United Nations. The Baha'i International Community has established relationships with many of the agencies of the United Nations (such as ECOSOC, UNICEF, and WHO), attended numerous United Nations conferences, and presented statements at these.

Following the death of Shoghi Effendi in 1957, there was a brief period when the Baha'i Faith was led by a group of senior Baha'is called the Hands of the Cause, whom Shoghi Effendi had appointed and whom he had designated as "chief stewards" of the Baha'i administrative order. This body oversaw the final years of the Ten-Year Plan that Shoghi Effendi had inaugurated and then arranged for the election of the Universal House of Justice in 1963.

The Universal House of Justice is a body called for by Baha'u'llah in his writings as the supreme body of the Baha'i world. After its election in 1963, it initially concentrated on the task of spreading the Baha'i Faith to all corners of the world and on establishing Baha'i institutions wherever there were Baha'i communities. From about 1996, however, the Universal House of Justice began to promote plans to develop Baha'i communities and empower individual Baha'is to take on responsibility for both planning and carrying out community activities and social development projects. Training institutes were designed to help individuals to develop themselves spiritually and to gain the skills and confidence to engage both in the consultation process and in acts of service to the community. The Baha'is in each area began to meet in order to consult and plan community action programs. This new direction and process is still in its early phases of development and it remains to be seen how effective it will be.


Study Questions:
     1.    To what new areas did the Baha'i Faith spread under ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s leadership and what role did he play in this spread?
     2.    What developments were there in the Baha'i community in Asia during ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s leadership?
     3.    What steps did Shoghi Effendi take to build up the Baha'i administrative structure?
     4.    What style of leadership did Shoghi Effendi adopt?
     5.    In what way did the plans that the Universal House of Justice made for the Baha'i community after about 1986 differ from those before?

 

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