Baha’i Court

Former Hands of the Cause have written:

We are also happy to announce that another milestone in Bahá’í history will be reached with the election of the International Bahá’í Council during Ridvan 1961. The embryonic institution established and so highly extolled by the beloved Guardian will thus enter its final stage preceding the election of the Universal House of Justice. The members of all the National and Regional Spiritual Assemblies of the Bahá’í world, duly constituted in Ridvan 1960, will take part in a postal ballot to elect nine members to the International Council.
This International Bahá’í Council is to work under the direction and supervision of the Hands of the Cause residing in the Holy Land, serve a two year term of office, and cease to exist upon the occasion of the election of the Universal House of Justice. All the Bahá’ís of the world, men and women alike, are eligible for election. As the Chief Stewards of the Faith are wholly occupied with specific tasks assigned them by the beloved Guardian and perforce assumed since his passing, they should not be considered for election to this Council. Two of the functions originally allotted to the Council by the beloved Guardian, namely, to forge links with authorities of the State in which the World Centre is situated, and to conduct negotiations related to matters of personal status with civil authorities will still be discharged, and to them are added the following: To assist the Hands of the Cause in the care of the properties at the World Centre, and in the establishment of the Universal House of Justice; and in any other functions which the Hands may assign from time to time.

We wish to assure the believers that every effort will be made to establish a Bahá’í Court in the Holy Land prior to the date set for this election. We should however bear in mind that the Guardian himself clearly indicated this goal, due to the strong trend towards the secularization of Religious Courts in this part of the world, might not be achieved.

Custodians, Ministry of the Custodians, p. 168

Where, when, and how did this claimed indication happen?

On the contrary, the first Guardian wrote:

“Process of the unfoldment of the ever-advancing Administrative Order accelerated by the formation of the International Bahá’í Council designed to assist in the erection of the superstructure of the Báb’s Sepulcher, cement ties uniting the budding World Administrative Center with the recently established state, and pave the way for the formation of the Bahá’í Court, essential prelude to the institution of the Universal House of Justice.”

Shoghi Effendi, Messages to the Baha’i World – 1950-1957, p. 12

“No matter how long the period that separates them from ultimate victory; however arduous the task; however formidable the exertions demanded of them; however dark the days which mankind, perplexed and sorely-tried, must, in its hour of travail, traverse; however severe the tests with which they who are to redeem its fortunes will be confronted; however afflictive the darts which their present enemies, as well as those whom Providence, will, through His mysterious dispensations raise up from within or from without, may rain upon them, however grievous the ordeal of temporary separation from the heart and nerve-center of their Faith which future unforeseeable disturbances may impose upon them, I adjure them, by the precious blood that flowed in such great profusion, by the lives of the unnumbered saints and heroes who were immolated, by the supreme, the glorious sacrifice of the Prophet-Herald of our Faith, by the tribulations which its Founder, Himself, willingly underwent, so that His Cause might live, His Order might redeem a shattered world and its glory might suffuse the entire planet — I adjure them, as this solemn hour draws nigh, to resolve never to flinch, never to hesitate, never to relax, until each and every objective in the Plans to be proclaimed, at a later date, has been fully consummated.” Your true brother — Shoghi

[June 30, 1952]

Shoghi Effendi, Messages to the Baha’i World – 1950-1957, p. 39

The Site of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs proudly states:

“The Israeli legal system is unique among modern legal systems in the utilization of various personal status laws in the area of family law, applied by religious courts.”

The Judiciary: The Court System
Religious Courts

While military and Labor courts are not exclusive to the Israeli legal system, the Religious Courts are. The Israeli legal system is unique among modern legal systems in the utilization of various personal status laws in the area of family law, applied by religious courts. This phenomenon has historical and political roots: it existed under Ottoman rule and was retained by the British after they conquered the country.

The basic source for the application of the personal status law and the jurisdiction of the various religious courts is found in the Palestine Order in Council (1922). This order provides that “jurisdiction in matters of personal status shall be exercised… by the courts of the religious communities”.

The order also grants jurisdiction to the District Courts in matters of personal status for foreigners who are non-Muslims, stating that they “shall apply the personal law of the parties concerned”. Regarding foreigners, this was defined as “the law of his nationality”. Case law determined that regarding non-foreigners, “the court … have… to apply the religious or communal law of the parties”.

The Palestine Order in Council recognized eleven religious communities: Jewish, Muslim, and nine Christian denominations. The Israeli government added the Presbyterian Evangelical Church and the Baha’i to this list. The Knesset also enacted a law vesting jurisdiction in the Druze religious courts.

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