Glossary of Bahá'í Terms
`Abdu'l-Bahá: (1844-1921) Son
of Bahá'u'lláh, designated His successor and authorized
interpreter of His writings. Named `Abbás after His grandfather,
`Abdu'l-Bahá was known to the general public as `Abbás
Effendi. Bahá'u'lláh gave Him such titles as "the
Most Great Branch," "the Mystery of God," and "the
Master." After Bahá'u'lláh's passing, He chose the
name `Abdu'l-Bahá, meaning "Servant of Bahá'u'lláh."
Administrative Order: The system
as conceived by Bahá'u'lláh, formally established
by `Abdu'l-Bahá, and realized during the Guardianship of Shoghi
Effendi. It consists, on the one hand, of a series of elected
universal, national, and local, in which are invested legislative,
and judicial powers over the Bahá'í community, and,
on the other hand, of eminent and devoted Bahá'ís appointed
for the specific purpose of propagation and protection of the
the guidance of the Head of that Faith, the Universal House of
Arc: An arc cut into Mount Carmel in Haifa, Israel, along
international administrative buildings of the Bahá'í
Faith are being built.
Auxiliary Boards: An institution created by Shoghi Effendi in
to assist the Hands of the Cause of God. When the institution of
Boards of Counsellors was established in 1968 by the Universal
Justice, the Auxiliary Boards were placed under its direction.
Báb, the: The title, meaning "Gate," assumed by Siyyid
`Alí-Muhammad, who was the Prophet-Founder of the Bábí
Faith and the Forerunner of Bahá'u'lláh. Born
20 October 1819, the Báb proclaimed Himself to be the Promised
One of Islám and announced that His mission was to alert the
to the imminent advent of "Him Whom God shall make manifest,"
namely, Bahá'u'lláh. Because of these claims,
the Báb was executed by order of Náziri'd-Dín
Sháh on 9 July 1850.
Bahá'í Era: The period of the Bahá'í
calendar beginning with the Declaration of the Báb on 23 May 1844,
and expected to last until the next appearance of a Manifestation
of God after the expiration of at least one thousand years.
Bahá'í International Community: A name used generally
in reference to the worldwide Bahá'í community and
officially in that community's external relations. In the latter
context, the Bahá'í International Community is an association
of the National Spiritual Assemblies throughout the world and
as an international non-governmental organization. Its offices
its Secretariat at the Bahá'í World Centre, a United
Nations Office in New York with a branch in Geneva, an Office of
Information, an Office of the Environment, and an Office for the
Bahá'í World Centre: The spiritual and administrative
center of the Bahá'í Faith, located in the twin cities
of `Akká and Haifa, in Israel.
Bahá'u'lláh: Title assumed by Mírzá
Husayn-`Alí, Founder of the Bahá'í Faith.
Born on 12 November 1817, He declared His mission as the Promised
of all Ages in April 1863 and passed away in `Akká , Palestine,
on 29 May 1892 after forty years of imprisonment, banishment, and
arrest. Bahá'u'lláh's writings are considered
by Bahá'ís to be direct revelation from God.
Consultation: A form of discussion between individuals and
groups which requires the subjugation of egotism so that all ideas
be shared and evaluated with frankness, courtesy, and openness of
and decisions arrived at can be wholeheartedly supported. Its
principles were elaborated by `Abdu'l-Bahá.
Continental Boards of Counsellors: An institution created in
by the Universal House of Justice to extend into the future the
the institution of the Hands of the Cause of God, particularly its
functions of protection and propagation. With the passing of
the Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith, there was no way
for additional Hands of the Cause to be appointed. The duties of
include directing the Auxiliary Boards in their respective areas,
and collaborating with National Spiritual Assemblies, and keeping
Universal House of Justice informed concerning the conditions of
in their areas. Counsellors are appointed for terms of five years.
Convention: A gathering called at a regional, national, or
level for consultation on matters affecting the welfare of the
community and for the purpose, respectively, of electing delegates
a National Convention, electing the members of a National
or electing the members of the Universal House of Justice.
German Templer Colony: Group of houses with red-tiled roofs at
foot of Mount Carmel that once housed members of the Society of
founded in Germany in the mid-1800s. Templers foregathered in
1863 to await the second coming of Christ.
Hands of the Cause of God: Individuals appointed first by
and others named later by Shoghi Effendi, who were charged with
duties of protecting and propagating the Faith. With the passing
Effendi there is no further possibility for appointing Hands of
hence, in order to extend into the future the important functions
and protection, the Universal House of Justice in 1968 created
Boards of Counsellors and in 1973 established the International
Centre, which coordinates their work.
Holy Days: Eleven days commemorating significant Bahá'í
anniversaries, on nine of which work is suspended.
Huqúqu'lláh: Arabic for "the Right of God."
As instituted in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, payment to "the Authority
in the Cause to whom all must turn" (at present, the Universal
of Justice) of nineteen percent of what remains to one's personal
income after one's essential expenses have been covered. Funds
by the payment of Huqúqu'lláh are used for the promotion
of the Faith and for the welfare of society.
International Teaching Centre: An institution established in
by the Universal House of Justice to bring to fruition the work of
Hands of the Cause of God in the Holy Land and to provide for its
into the future. The duties of the International Teaching Centre
coordinating, stimulating, and directing the activities of the
Boards of Counsellors and acting as liaison between them and the
House of Justice. The membership of the Teaching Centre comprises
the surviving Hands of the Cause and also nine Counsellors
the Universal House of Justice. The seat of the International
Centre is located at the Bahá'í World Centre in Haifa,
Knight of Bahá'u'lláh: Title initially given
by Shoghi Effendi to those Bahá'ís who arose to open
specified new territories to the Faith during the first year of
Year Crusade (1953-1963) and subsequently applied to those who
the remaining unopened territories on the list at a later TheWord.
Lesser Peace: A political peace to be established by the
the world in order to bring about an end to war. Its establishment
prepare the way for the Most Great Peace, a condition of permanent
and world unity to be founded on the spiritual principles and
of the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh and signalizing
humanity's coming of age.
Local Spiritual Assembly: The local administrative body in the
Faith, ordained in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas. The nine members are
elected by secret ballot each year at Ridván from among the adult
believers in a community.
Monument Gardens: Beautifully landscaped gardens at the heart
Arc on Mount Carmel where befitting monuments have been erected
graves of the daughter and wife of Bahá'u'lláh,
His son who died in prison in `Akká, and also the wife of
Mount Carmel: The mountain spoken of by Isaiah as the
of the Lord." Site of the Bahá'í World Centre
including several Bahá'í holy places, the most important
of which are the Shrine of the Báb and the Monument Gardens.
National Spiritual Assembly: The national administrative body
Bahá'í Faith, ordained in the Bahá'í
sacred writings, with authority over all activities and affairs of
Bahá'í Faith throughout its area. Among its duties
are to stimulate, unify, and coordinate the manifold activities of
Spiritual Assemblies and of individual Bahá'ís within
its jurisdiction. The members of National Spiritual Assemblies
the world constitute the electoral college for the Universal House
Justice. At Ridván 1998, there were 179 National or Regional
Assemblies. See also Regional Spiritual Assembly.
Nineteen Day Feast: The principal gathering in each local
community, every Bahá'í month, for the threefold purpose
of worship, consultation, and fellowship.
Pioneer: Any Bahá'í who arises and leaves his or
her home to journey to another country for the purpose of teaching
Bahá'í Faith. "Homefront pioneer" is used
to describe those who move to areas within their own country that
yet to be exposed to the Bahá'í Faith or where the
Bahá'í community needs strengthening.
Regional Spiritual Assembly: An institution identical in
to the National Spiritual Assembly but including a number of
or regions in its jurisdiction, often established as a precursor
formation of a National Spiritual Assembly in each of the
Ridván: Arabic for "Paradise." Twelve-day festival
(from 21 April through 2 May) commemorating Bahá'u'lláh's
declaration of His mission to His companions in 1863 in the Garden
Ridván in Baghdad.
Shoghi Effendi Rabbání: (1897-1957) The Guardian of
the Bahá'í Faith after the passing of `Abdu'l-Bahá
in 1921, designated in His Will and Testament as His successor in
the Bahá'í writings and as Head of the Faith.
Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh: The resting place of
Bahá'u'lláh's mortal remains, located near
the city of `Akká, Israel. The Shrine is the holiest spot
on earth to Bahá'ís and a place of pilgrimage.
Shrine of the Báb: The resting place of the Báb's
mortal remains, located on Mount Carmel in Haifa, Israel, a sacred
to Bahá'ís, and a place of pilgrimage.
Tablet: Divinely revealed scripture. In Bahá'í
scripture, the term is used to denote writings revealed by
the Báb, and `Abdu'l-Bahá.
Ten Year Crusade: 1953-1963. Ten-Year Plan for teaching the
Faith initiated by Shoghi Effendi, which culminated with the
of the Universal House of Justice, during the centenary of the
of Bahá'u'lláh. The objectives of the Crusade
were: the development of the institutions at the World Centre; the
of the communities of the participating National Spiritual
and the opening of the main unopened territories. See also
Universal House of Justice: Head of the Bahá'í
Faith after the passing of Shoghi Effendi, and the supreme
body ordained by Bahá'u'lláh in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas,
His Book of Laws. The Universal House of Justice is elected every
years by the members of all National Spiritual Assemblies, who
at an International Convention. The House of Justice was elected
first time in 1963. It occupied its permanent Seat on Mount Carmel