The Guardianship

There is a spiritual wing to the Baha’i Administrative Order also. The spiritual leader of the Baha’i Faith is known as the Guardian of the Faith. He must be a male lineal descendant of Baha’u’llah and has sole authority to interpret Baha’i scriptures. He also sits as chairman for life of the Universal House of Justice. He has the right to define its proper sphere of legislative action and to require that body to reconsider any of its decisions. He is required to appoint a successor in his own lifetime. The Guardian also appoints believers as Hands of the Cause to assist him in spiritual matters, particularly teaching and protection of the Faith.

Thus, the Administrative Order reflects legislative and executive, elective and hereditary, material and spiritual principles. The first Guardian, Shoghi Effendi, explained with regard to the Guardianship and the Universal House of Justice, respectively:

“The first [the Guardianship] preserves the identity of His Faith and guards the integrity of His law. The second [the Universal House of Justice] enables it, even as a living organism, to expand and adapt itself to the needs and requirements of an ever changing society.” (World Order of Baha’u’llah, p. 23)

This is why Baha’is believe that the Faith will never be permanently split into factions or denominations as has happened in all previous religions.

“Divorced from the institution of the Guardianship the World Order of Baha’u’llah would be mutilated and permanently deprived of that hereditary principle which, as Abdu’l-Baha has written, has been invariably upheld by the Law of God… Without such an institution the integrity of the Faith would be imperiled, and the stability of the entire fabric would be gravely endangered…”
Shoghi Effendi, First Guardian of the Baha’i Faith