Baha'i Library Online

See original version at

COLLECTIONPublished articles
TITLEThe Institutionalization of Religion: A Sociological Analysis of Religion and Conflict
AUTHOR 1Jalil Mahmoudi
DATE_THIS1967 Fall
ABSTRACTThe life cycle of a religion can be classified into different phases or stages, such as "cult, sect, denomination, church." Does the Bahá'í Faith fit this schema?
CONTENT [page 16]

The life cycle of a religion is classified into different phases, stages, eras, or epochs, depending on the viewpoints and on the basic purposes of the various writers and authorities.

David O. Moberg, in his treatment of "The Life Cycle of the Church", reiterates the traditional four stages in the life cycle of religious bodies. These four stages include: cult, sect, denomination, and church. According to Moberg, “the cult is small, loosely structured, self-centered, and ‘different’; the sect is still small, claims to ‘have the only answer’, is anti-status quo, differentiates itself from the rest of the religious world, and often suffers persecution; the denomination is larger, is more liberalized and institutionalized, and tolerates and is tolerated; the church is even larger, conservative, bureaucratic, broad in its approach, and extremely influential in society.”1

Two major stages in the life cycle of the church may be distinguished. The first stage begins with the inception of the church by the declarations of the founder and the acceptance of his claims by a group of followers. Sociologically, this represents a revolt against the prevailing order and, thus, a social movement. The newly formed group is ordinarily a minority group subject to persecution by the ruling majority. Thus, it forms a closely knit group with an “esprit de corps” and a high degree of cohesiveness. For the followers, the founder is generally a charismatic figure, a messenger of God, gifted with the Holy Spirit and, thus, an extraordinary, superhuman, holy and sacred being who is adored and obeyed and whose will is carried out by his devotees unconditionally and unquestioningly. When, for example, Christ said to Simon Peter and his brother Andrew, while they were fishing, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men" (Matthew 4:19), the Bible tells us that "they straightaway left their nets and followed Him" (Matthew 1:20). The same thing was true with James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who, after hearing the call of Christ, "Immediately left the ship and their father and followed Him" (Matthew 4:22).

This same devotion was evident when Muhammad declared his mission to Khadija and “she believed in Him and accepted as true what He brought from God,”2 and, also, when he said to Ali, “I call you to God, the One without an associate..."3 After one night of deliberation, Ali accepted Muhammad as the apostle of God “and asked Him what His orders were”4 and, thus, became the first male to believe in Muhammad and his mission.5

In the revelation of the Bab, who declared his mission to Mulla Husayn: He then addressed me in these words:

‘O thou who art the first to believe in Me! Verily I say, I am the Bab, the Gate of God and thou art the Babu’l-Bab, the-gate of that Gate. Eighteen souls must, in the beginning, spontaneously and of their own accord, accept Me and recognise the truth of My Revelation —Ere we depart, we shall appoint unto each of the eighteen souls his special mission, and shall send them forth to accomplish their task. We shall instruct them to teach the Word of God and to quicken the souls of men.’6

[page 17]

Mulla Husayn describes his reaction to this summons in the following words: This Revelation, so suddenly and impetuously thrust upon me, came as a thunderbolt, which, for a time, seemed to have benumbed my faculties. I was blinded by its dazzling splendour and overwhelmed by its crushing force. Excitement, joy, awe, and wonder stirred the depths of my soul.7

The founder of a major religion is considered to be a manifestation of God and, thus, his words are the words of God. The life of the disciples and those early believers is not a regular, everyday life. Depending upon the extent of their devotion to the cause, they may give everything, including their lives, to promote the cause — which to them is sacred and holy in nature — and to give one's life or to be a martyr in the promotion of the new faith is a blessing and an honor of highest value. This willingness to sacrifice is based on the belief that the founder is not an ordinary man, but, rather, an unusual person entirely set apart from everyone else, and his manifestation is “a definite breaking point in the world of every dayness.”8 He carries a “charisma”; and charisma, as defined by Max Weber is “...a certain quality of an individual personality by virtue of which he is set apart from ordinary men and treated as endowed with supernatural, superhuman, or at least specifically exceptional powers or qualities. These are such as are not accessible to the ordinary person, but are regarded as of divine origin or as exemplary, and on the basis of them, the individual concerned is treated as a leader.”9

With the passing of the founder — the original charismatic figure — one of two things happens. A successor may be explicitly and unquestionably appointed by the founder himself, in which case the appointed successor will inherit and carry the charisma. This kind of inherited charisma may be continued as far as the successors are appointed, one after another, by the accepted charismatic figures. On the basis of this type of succession the charismatic stage can be divided into two distinguishable periods: first, the period between the proclamation of the founder and his death (the essential charismatic period) ; and, second, the period of the appointed successors or vicegerents (the traditional charismatic period). The original figure receives his charisma from God, and the successors receive theirs from the founder.

Sooner or later, however, the succession is subject to termination or modification. With the termination of succession, the charismatic period is over and the second major period of the religion begins. Unlike the charismatic period, which generally is not very long, the second period is as long as the life cycle of the religion itself. During this time, the religion is institutionalized, or, in Weber's term, the charisma is routinized.

The routinization of charisma is one of the most critical points in the life of a religion. Almost all of the major religions of the past have suffered during this transition. The main problems are those of succession, institutionalization, stratification, and bureaucratization. If provisions for these things are not explicitly made by the original charismatic figure or the universally accepted figures, the religion is faced with dilemmas of grave consequence. The pages of history are tinted with the social problems, conflicts, and gory incidents all through the ages that have been results of the religious strife of the transitional period.

Dr. T. F. O’Dea has distinguished five of the dilemmas which arise during the transition period. These dilemmas or paradoxes of institutionalization are as follows:

1. The Dilemma of Mixed Motivation

[page 18]

Institutionalization involves the emergence of organization, and organization brings about a set of statuses or positions with proper roles and functions, rights and obligations, as well as prestige and respectability. History has shown that the sphere of activity of religious dignitaries and their interests does not remain exclusively in the spiritual affairs of the church and has not been confined to their spiritual status. “The higher clergy in Christian history became important functionaries and dignitaries in society, with all rewards and benefits accruing to people in such positions.”10 Similar situations have prevailed in other churches. Dynasties of the Caliphate in Islam are a good example, and the power and influence of the Islamic clergy in political affairs is a historical fact. The involvement of the clergy in non-ecclesiastical realms brings about new interests and a sense of identification with those in temporal positions, which places them in the dominant class. “These new interests of the clergy” according to O’Dea, “often have deviated from the goals and values of the church.. .Thus, while mixed motivation, introduced by institutionalization, enhances stability and contributes to the survival of the organization, it also represents a source of serious transformation in the goals and values of the Church.”11

2. The Symbolic Dilemma

Symbolic performances are the profane means of acting out the sacred attitudes in order to retain the original religious experience and its relation to the ultimate, the sacred, the something beyond. “Continued use of the same symbolic vehicles,” according to O’Dea, “has had the effect of making them usual and expected — that is of routinizing them . . . The symbol consequently loses its power to elicit and affect attitudes and emotions.”12 O’Dea believes that “the embodiment of the sacred in the profane vehicles causes a loss of sacredness... and dependence upon symbolism, then, is reduced to a routine performance of established formalities and no longer serves its original purpose.”13

3. The Dilemma of Administrative Order

Formal organizations and bureaucratic structures are established to carry out specific functions in response to one set of conditions and problems. Time changes, and with time the types of problems change. “Structures which emerge in one set of conditions and in response to one set of problems may turn out later to be unwieldy instruments for handling new problems under new conditions. Functional precedents established in handling earlier problems can become dysfunctional in later situations, and can even become formidable obstacles blocking any forthright action.”14 But the individuals involved in the organization “have a vested interest in the structure as it is” and, therefore, resist the change and reform which they tend to consider as a threat to their status. They are thus inspired by a mixed motivation.

4. Dilemma of Delimitation

This dilemma deals with the problems of definition and interpretation. O’Dea says:

To affect the lives of men, the original religious message must be stated in terms that have relevance to the everyday activities and concerns of people. Moreover, to preserve the import of the message, it must be protected against interpretations which would transform it in ways conflicting with its inner ethos. These needs are characteristic of both the religious message and the ethic implied in it. Both of these needs constitute a strong pressure for definition. ...This process of definition and concretization is at the same time a relativization of the religious and ethical message — a rendering of it relevant to the new circumstances of life of the religious group — and therefore involves the risk of making everyday and prosaic what was originally a call to the extraordinary.15

[page 19]

O’Dea calls this process “the degeneration of symbols”16, and Mircea Eliade refers to it as “a process of infantilization.”17 Some very simple examples of this dilemma are the substitution of certain saints for the founders of religions, the endless interpretations of the scriptures in some churches and, of late, the retranslation of scripture. In the most modern version of the Christian gospel “the three wise men from the East,” is translated as “the three astronomers.” Eliade refers to this phenomenon as the possibility of the “descent” of the symbol “from a scholarly to a popular level.”18

The doctrine of Ijtihad in the Shi’ah sect of Islam is also a good example of the degeneration of symbols. This doctrine implies “the discovery and authoritative enunciation of fresh religious truths, based on comprehensive knowledge of Scripture and Tradition, and arrived at by supreme effort and endeavor, this last being the signification of the Arabic word. One who had attained to this is called a Mujtahid whose position may be roughly described as analogous to that of a Cardinal in the Church of Rome.”19 The other major sect of Islam, namely the Sunni sect, does not believe in Ijtihad. This doctrine is credited with the advantages of flexibility and adaptability, but when the countless independent Mujtahids, with no central or any organization, innocently or otherwise make their individual deductions from the scripture to meet specific problems, their conclusions often contradict each other. Such contradictions result in an obvious dilemma, to say the least.

5. The Dilemma of Power

This dilemma concerns the alliance of religion and power. It is the dilemma of "conversion versus coercion”. “This situation, as may be seen in the history of Christianity, draws religious and secular power together to enforce religious conformity.”20 Examples of this dilemma can be observed in the history of most of the churches of the past, including Islam. A condition of this kind defeats one of the most important elements of religion, which should be a spiritual institution, with a voluntary character and spontaneous nature.

Dr. O’Dea concludes:

The five dilemmas we have discussed are inherent in the process of the routinization of religious charisma. They are structural characteristics of the institutionalization process and as such are an important source of strain and conflict. They have been the cause of much protest — which, as we have seen, is a fundamental category of analysis in the study of religious movements. The conflicts of papacy and empire, and of church and state; the rise of anti-clericalism; the Reformation protest against symbols which reached its furthest extreme in Puritanism and the left sects; the attempt of Reformation communions to return to an older form of church policy; the rejection of scholasticism, with its complex philosophical formulations, and of canon law, with its detailed legal definitions — all these indicate the importance of these dilemmas in the history of Western religion. The use of power by both Catholics and Protestants to force religious assent, and the alignments of throne and altar which followed the Great Reform in both Catholic and Protestant countries, provide examples of the fifth dilemma.21

Considering the environmental conditions of the religious manifestations ol the past and their themes for their time, place, and cultural milieu, one may find justification for lack of provisions in the scriptures to establish the necessary institutions for the routinization of charisma. Regardless of the reasons and the justifications for the lack of such provisions, which are beyond the scope of this article, the outcome has invariably been the same. Horace Holley has written:

[page 20]

It has been the general characteristic of religion that organization marks the interruption of the true spiritual influence and serves to prevent the original impulse from being carried into the world. The organization has invariably become a substitute for religion rather than a method or an instrument used to give the religion effect. The separation of peoples into different traditions unbridged by any peaceful or constructive intercourse has made this inevitable. Up to the present time, in fact, no Founder of a revealed religion has explicitly laid down the principles that should guide the administrative machinery of the faith He has established.22


The mission of every founder of past religions comprises the renewal and revival of the old eternal truths and the promulgation of a new central theme. The central theme and distinguishing feature in the Baha’i Dispensation is the principle of "oneness of mankind." Therefore, the teachings of Baha’u’llah, the Founder of the Baha’i Faith, are based on this central theme and revolve around this major hub of the oneness or the unity of mankind.

Dilemmas of the type mentioned above, should they arise, would be contrary to this main theme and defeat the original purpose — the federation of mankind — since “World Unity” cannot be brought about without a “World Order.” Therefore, for the first time in the history of religion, the process of the routinization of charisma is prescribed and provided for by the charismatic figure himself. The institutionalization of the religion in the Baha’i Dispensation is based upon an Administrative Order, which, in the words of Shoghi Effendi:

... is fundamentally different from anything that any Prophet has previously established, inasmuch as Baha’u’llah has Himself revealed its principles, established its institutions, appointed the person to interpret His Word and conferred the necessary authority on the body designed to supplement and apply His legislative ordinances. Therein lies the secret of its strength, its fundamental distinction, and the guarantee against disintegration and schism.23

Provision for Succession

Baha’u’llah, the Founder of the Baha’i Faith, in His Book of Aqdas (the Most Holy Book) and also in His Will and Testament, has appointed His successor in the following words:

God's Will and Testament enjoins upon the branches, the twigs, and the kinsfolk, one and all, to gaze unto the most great Branch. Consider what we have revealed in my Book of Aqdas, to wit:

When the sea of My Presence is exhausted and the Book of Origin hath reached its end, turn you unto him (Abdu'l-Bahá) who is desired by God — he who is issued from his ancient Root.24

Abdu’l-Baha was thus appointed as the Center of the Covenant and the sole interpreter of the Scripture. He inherited the charisma and carried it through to the end of his life. It was not God's will, according to the Baha’is, to end the charismatic period with Abdu'l-Bahá. Another charismatic leader was needed to complete the formative stage of the Faith, to define and interpret the Words, and to act as a Guardian to the nascent World Order and its exponents. Therefore, Abdu'l-Bahá in his Will and Testament, appointed the Guardian of the Faith in the following words:

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,

[page 21]

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 expounder
of the words of God.25

Shoghi Effendi, who also inherited the charisma, served a dual purpose as the spiritual leader and the link between the charismatic period and the routinization of charisma. Shoghi Effendi did not appoint a successor. With his passing, the process of succession and thus the charismatic period ended. The movement was well established, the Faith was firmly founded, and the followers had presumably reached a stage of maturity adequate for the routinization of the charisma and the ultimate institutionalization of the Faith. Provisions for the routinization of the charisma were already thoroughly and explicitly made by the Founder, himself. There was no room for guesswork, deduction, or legitimation. The process was spelled out and the institutions on local and national levels were actually established during the charismatic period. The only institution which remained to be established was the Universal House of the Justice, the supreme legislative body of the new World Order.

The Establishment of the Institutions

The Baha’i institutions, as vehicles to carry out the principles revealed by the Founder, and to legislate the unrevealed principles, are explicitly established and founded by Baha’u’llah himself. These institutions begin at the grassroots, at the community level, and expand upward to the highest legislative body at the international world level.

The Nineteen-Day Feast

Every adult Baha’i of either sex anywhere in the world is provided with a platform and a floor to express himself, every nineteen days, in the Nineteen-Day Feast. This institution is considered to be the bedrock of Baha’i democracy, and the foundation of the new World Order. All of the elected bodies share their accomplishments and intentions with their respective communities in the Nineteen-Day feasts, and every individual has the right and the privilege to make his voice heard. It is the duty of the elected bodies to record the thoughts, suggestions, and criticisms of every member and act upon them in one way or another, which actions in turn should be brought to the attention of the membership.

The Nineteen-Day Feast is not a mere administrative meeting. It is essentially devotional and spiritual in nature. The first part of it is entirely spiritual in character and devoted to readings of the Baha’i inspirational sacred writings. In this first period it is hoped that under the influence of the words of God hearts are sanctified and spirits are uplifted, and egoistic desires and impulses are transformed into altruistic aspirations, heavenly thoughts, and selfless motives. With this preparation the second part, consisting of general consultation on the affairs of the Cause, begins. This is the time when the local Spiritual Assembly reports its activities to the community and asks for suggestions and consultation. The main purpose of the second part is to enable the individual Baha’is to participate in their community affairs, to offer suggestions to their local Assembly, and through the local Assembly to their National Assembly and even to the Universal House of Justice. Thus, the feast is a proper medium through which the local Baha’i Community, as well as every individual member, can communicate with its elected bodies at all levels, and vice versa. The third part is the material feast and social meeting of all members.

Local Spiritual Assembly

The local Spiritual Assembly is an elected administrative body in each city, town, or village, where at least nine Baha’is 21 years of age or over reside. The

[page 22]

area of jurisdiction of a local Assembly is confined to the civil boundaries. The assemblies are re-elected once a year on April 21, the day of the Declaration of Baha’u’llah. Officers of the Assembly, such as the chairman, the secretary, the treasurer, are elected by the majority vote of the members of the assembly. Committees needed to carry out specific activities of the community are appointed by the assembly from among the entire community membership.

The local Spiritual Assemblies are also considered, in their turn, to be the foundation stones of the new World Order. The purpose and the function of these elected bodies can be well seen in the following words of Shoghi Effendi: In order to avoid division and disruption, that the Cause may not fall a prey to conflicting interpretations, and lose thereby its purity and pristine vigor, that its affairs may be conducted with efficiency and promptness, it is necessary that every one should conscientiously take an active part in the election of these Assemblies, abide by their decisions, enforce their decree, and cooperate with them wholeheartedly in their task of stimulating the growth of the Movement throughout all regions. The members of these Assemblies, on their part, must disregard utterly their own likes and dislikes, their personal interests and inclinations, and concentrate their minds upon the measures that will conduce to the welfare and happiness of the Banal Community and promote the common weal.26

National Spiritual Assembly

The National Spiritual Assembly is the sole authority on the national level. This body is elected by the indirect vote of all the membership in any given country. All the Baha’is of the geographic districts, states, or provinces of every country, elect their delegates for a national convention every year. The number of delegates is proportionate to the number of members in the geographical area. The elected delegates will form the National Convention and will, in their turn, elect from among all the members in the country nine persons to serve as members of the National Spiritual Assembly.

The National Spiritual Assemblies are also referred to as the Secondary Houses of Justice, and they are considered to be the pillars of the Universal House of Justice.

As far as the authority of this body is concerned, Shoghi Effendi asserts that “the authority of the National Spiritual Assembly is undivided and unchallengeable in all matters pertaining to the administration of the faith, throughout the country; and that, therefore, the obedience of individual Baha’is, delegates, groups and assemblies to that authority is imperative, and should be wholehearted and unqualified.”27

Universal House of Justice

The Universal House of Justice, the supreme legislative body of the Administrative Order, is elected by the members of all the National Spiritual Assemblies, from among all the Baha’is of the world. With regard to its election, position, and function, Abdu'l-Bahá writes:

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. Its members must be manifestations of the fear of God and daysprings of knowledge and understandings, must be steadfast in God's faith and the well-wishers of all mankind. 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 House 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 ...28

[page 23]

The members of this legislative body do not represent any particular nation or segment of the world. They represent the Baha’i World and are responsible only to God and not to the electorate.

The first Universal House of Justice was elected by fifty-six National Spiritual Assemblies on April 21, 1963. The election took place in Haifa, Israel, the Baha’i World Center, by an International Convention consisting of most of the 504 members of the National Assemblies which were formed to that date. The members of the Universal House of Justice are nine in number at the present time.

No Priesthood

The lack of a priesthood is one of the distinguishing features of the Baha’i Faith. There is no clergy or any title or rank which may give specific religious authority to any individual Baha’i. Authority is confined to elected bodies only, and, as Shoghi Effendi states, “to no one of the believers such a station has been conferred, which can place him outside and above the jurisdiction of any Assembly.”29 Thus, in the absence of differentiation, the problem of religious stratification, as far as the individual believers are concerned, is avoided.

Nor will membership in any of the elected bodies, Local or National Spiritual Assemblies, or even the Universal House of Justice, place an individual at a different level from the rest of the believers. Precautions are taken “that personalities should not be made the centers around which the community may revolve, but that they should be subordinated under all conditions and, however great their merits, to the properly constituted assemblies.”30

Elections Without Campaign

It is the unique characteristic of the Baha’i elections on all levels that they are carried out without any kind of campaign. Electioneering of any nature, including reference to personalities, influencing the opinion of others, and canvassing for a particular individual are strictly forbidden. Elections should take place in a “rarefied atmosphere of selflessness and detachment," and the elector should vote "for none but those whom prayer and reflection have inspired him to uphold.”


According to some authorities in the field of the sociology of religion the process of “the institutionalization of religion is itself the working out of a set of structurally inherent dilemmas.”31 Dr. O’Dea has distinguished five such dilemmas including:

    The Dilemma of Mixed Motivation,
    The Symbolic Dilemma,
    The Dilemma of Administrative Order,
    The Dilemma of Delimitation, and
    The Dilemma of Power.
In the study of religions subject to the above dilemmas, two general characteristics may be distinguished. They are the lack of explicit provision for succession and the institutionalization of religion by the founders of the revealed religions, in the Baha’i Dispensation, however, for the first time in the history of religion some new characteristics are noticeable as a result of the explicit principles and guidance given by the Founder. Among these are:

  1. Provisions for succession by the Founder Himself;

  2. Delimitation of the right of interpretation to the appointed and authorized interpreters only;

  3. Prescription of methods and institutions for the Administrative Order;

[page 24]

  1. Elimination of priesthood;

  2. Equalization of rights and privileges to all mankind regardless of nationality, race, sex, etc.;

  3. Confinement of the responsibility of the elected delegates to God and not to the electors;

  4. Ascription of no spiritual status or authority to any individual person since the end of the charismatic period;

  5. Confinement of authority to the elected bodies only;

  6. Elections without electioneering and campaign;

  7. The bestowal of the right to legislate, enact, ratify, and amend the laws that are not explicitly revealed by the Founder upon the Universal House of Justice;

  8. Combination and reconciliation of spiritual qualities (mysticism) with mundane responsibilities (practical ethics) to provide an equilibrium for the safeguarding of man's happiness and his social relationships;

  9. Repudiation of censorship and prohibition of dispute over definitions and interpretations of the scripture among the individual believers.

Thus, the principles and guidelines for an Administrative Order were expressed by Baha’u’llah, the Founder of the Baha’i Faith. Furthermore, to remove any shade of doubt, these provisions are thoroughly explained and developed by Abdu’l-Baha, the Center of His Covenant, and Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Faith.

The purpose of this Administrative Order is to establish means for the great theme and the ethos of this movement which is none less than the “unification of mankind”, the “universal peace”, and an orderly “world brotherhood” under a divine World Order. History will show whether, in spite of all these precautions, man will find ways to bring about paradoxical conditions and dilemmas, as he has in previous dispensations. Baha’is believe that it does not seem possible, at least in the foreseeable future.

But if, despite all of these principles, history is going to repeat itself and problems of man's interference with the work of God occur again, then on the principle of "progressive revelation", which is another belief of the Baha’i Faith, time will be ripe for the next manifestation of God to appear; or, in the language of sociologists, another "value-oriented movement" will take place.

Ours, however, is not to speculate on the future and the possible problems which may or may not arise. Our problems are here and now. Sociologically speaking, Yinger says: “In dealing with the individual and group powers of the world, religion finds itself working in a constantly more complicated situation. To define the tasks and accept the forms of expression that may have had meaning a century ago or even a decade ago may be to court utter failure in a world in which the aim of brotherhood has suddenly been transformed from an exciting vision to an absolute necessity.”32

The Baha’i Faith claims to have the answer and Shoghi Effendi, the late Guardian of the Baha’i Faith, has briefly described the Baha’i plan for the world organization in the following words:

The unity of the human race, as envisaged by Baha’u’llah, implies the establishment of a world commonwealth in which all nations, races, creeds and classes are closely and permanently united, and in which the autonomy of its state members and the personal freedom and initiative of the individuals that compose them are definitely and completely safeguarded.

[page 25]

This commonwealth must, as far as we can visualize it, consist of a world legislature whose members will, as trustees of the whole of mankind, ultimately control the entire resources of all the component nations, and will enact such laws as shall be required to regulate the life, satisfy the needs and adjust the relationships of all races and peoples.

A world executive, backed by an international force, will carry out the decisions arrived at, and apply the laws enacted by this world legislature, and will safeguard the organic unity of the whole commonwealth. A world tribunal will adjudicate and deliver its compulsory and final verdict in all and any disputes that may arise between the various elements constituting this universal system.


    1. David O. Moberg, "The Life Cycle of the Church" in Thomas E. Lasswell, et al., Life in Society (Chicago: Scott, Foresman and Co., 1965), p. 414.

    2. A. Guillaume, The Life of Muhammad, A Translation of Ishaq's Sirat Rasul Allah (London: Oxford University Press, 1955), p. 111.

    3. ibid., p. 113.

    4. ibid., p. 113.

    5. The terms “church”, “religion”, and “faith” are used interchangeably in various literature to denote the same general meaning. Baha’is, however, refer to their church or religion as “Faith”. In this article, all three terms are used synonymously.

    6. Muhammad Zarandi Nabil, The Dawn-Breakers, Nabil's Narrative of the Early Days of the Baha’i Revelation (Wilmette, Ill.: Baha’i Pub. Trust, 1962), p. 63.

    7. Ibid., p. 65.

    8. Thomas F. O’Dea, The Sociology of Religion (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1966), p. 22.

    9. Max Weber, The Theory of Social and Economic Organization (Englewood Cliffs, N. J.: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1966), p. 22.

    10. Thomas F. O’Dea, Sociology of Religion (Englewood Cliffs, N. J.: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1966), p. 91.

    11. Ibid., p. 92.

    12. Ibid., p. 92.

    13. Ibid., p. 93.

    14. Ibid., p. 93.

    15. Ibid., p. 94.

    16. Ibid., p. 95.

    17. Mircea Eliade, Patterns in Comparative Religion, translated by Rosemary Sheed (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1958), pp. 444 and 456.

    18. Ibid.

    19. Edward G. Browne, A Literary History of Persia (Cambridge: The University Press, 1930), Vol. IV, p. 353.

    20. O’Dea, op. cit., p. 96.

    21. Ibid., p. 97.

    22. Horace Holley, Present-Day Administration of the Baha’i Faith (Wilmette, Ill.: Baha’i Publishing Committee, 1947), p. 1.

    23. Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha’u’llah (Wilmette, Ill.: Baha’i Publishing Trust, 1955), p. 36.

    24. Baha’i World Faith (Wilmette, Ill.: Baha’i Publishing Committee, 1943), p. 209.

    25. Ibid., p. 442.

    26. Shoghi Effendi, Baha’i Administration (Wilmette, Ill.: Baha’i Publishing Trust, 1960), p. 41.

    27. Baha’i Procedure (Wilmette, Ill.: Baha’i Publishing Committee, 1942), p. 63.

    28. Baha’i World Faith (Wilmette, Ill.: Baha’i Publishing Committee, 1943), p. 446.

    29. Baha’i Procedure (Wilmette, Ill.: Baha’i Publishing Committee, 1942), p. 9.

    30. Ibid., p. 50.

    31. 0’Dea, op. cit., p. 90.

    32. J. Milton Yinger, Sociology Looks at Religion (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1963). p. 185.

About: Dr. Jalil Mahmoudi is Assistant Professor of Sociology and Languages at the University of Utah. His main interests are the sociology of religion, family structure, and linguistics. His doctoral dissertation is entitled “A Sociological Analysis of the Baha’i Movement” He is the author of several books, including How to Teach a Foreign Language.
VIEWS10359 views since 2013-09-15 (last edit 2013-09-16 13:11 UTC)
Home Site Map Links Tags Chronology About Contact RSS