As we prepare to meet at the beginning of the joyous festival of Ridvan—a period that marks the dawn of Baha’u’llah’s revelation—we remember that the administrative order of our Faith did not arise from human whim or wisdom, but from the Pen of the Blessed Beauty, Himself. In this way, the Baha’i Faith is unique in the history of the eternal Faith of God.
The elected Baha’i institutions are ordained by Baha’u’llah, Himself; in His book of laws, the Kitab-i-Aqdas. He wrote:
The Lord hath ordained that in every city a House of Justice be established wherein shall gather counsellors to the number of [nine]… They should consider themselves as entering the Court of the presence of God, the Exalted, the Most High, and as beholding Him Who is the Unseen. It behoveth them to be the trusted ones of the Merciful among men and to regard themselves as the guardians appointed of God for all that dwell on earth. It is incumbent upon them to take counsel together and to have regard for the interests of the servants of God, for His sake, even as they regard their own interests, and to choose that which is meet and seemly.Kitab-i-Aqdas (The Most Holy Book), p. 30.
The Guardian of the Faith, Shoghi Effendi, makes the spiritual importance of these institutions most clear:
It should be remembered by every follower of the Cause that the system of Baha’i administration is not an innovation imposed arbitrarily upon the Baha’is of the world since the Master’s passing, but derives its authority from the Will and Testament of Abdu’l‑Baha, is specifically prescribed in unnumbered Tablets, and rests in some of its essential features upon the explicit provisions of the [Most Holy Book]. It thus unifies and correlates the principles separately laid down by Baha’u’llah and Abdu’l‑Baha, and is indissolubly bound with the essential verities of the Faith. To dissociate the administrative principles of the Cause from the purely spiritual and humanitarian teachings would be tantamount to a mutilation of the body of the Cause, a separation that can only result in the disintegration of its component parts, and the extinction of the Faith itself.Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha’u’llah, p. 5.
This divinely ordained connection between the spiritual and administrative organs of the Faith is why the Universal House of Justice has written:
“When called upon to vote in a Baha’i election, believers should be aware that they are carrying out a sacred task unique to this Dispensation. They should approach this duty in a prayerful attitude, seeking divine guidance and confirmation”. As Shoghi Effendi has advised, “They must turn completely to God, and with a purity of motive, a freedom of spirit and a sanctity of heart, participate in the elections.”Universal House of Justice Letter on Bahá’í Elections, To the Bahá’ís of the World, 25 March 2007