Bahá’u’lláh, Prophet-Founder 1 of the Bahá’í Faith, stated, “We have enjoined upon all mankind to establish the Most Great Peace—the surest of all means for the protection of humanity.” 2 To do this requires participants to accept an authority structure, adhere to rules of behavior in accordance with that authority structure, develop plans that guide individual behavioral choices, and commit to act in keeping with the dictates of those plans, thereby resulting in personal growth and collective progress.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, eldest son of Bahá’u’lláh, revealed the Tablets of The Divine Plan in 1916-1917, which became the “charter for propagating the Bahá’í Faith.” 3 In it He emphasized where to focus attention at all times:

Consequently, one must … long for eternal life, the sublimity of the world of humanity, the celestial developments, the Holy Spirit, the promotion of the Word of God, the guidance of the inhabitants of the globe, the promulgation of universal peace and the proclamation of the oneness of the world of humanity! This is the work! [emphasis mine] Otherwise like unto other animals and birds one must occupy himself with the requirements of this physical life, the satisfaction of which is the highest aspiration of the animal kingdom, and one must stalk across the earth like unto the quadrupeds. 4

Shoghi Effendi, Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith, frequently acknowledged the high expectations ‘Abdu’l-Bahá placed in the “American Republic” to be at the forefront of the world’s unfolding destiny as described in the Tablets of the Divine Plan:

“The continent of America,” He announced in a Tablet unveiling His Divine Plan to the believers residing in the North-Eastern States of the American Republic, “is in the eyes of the one true God the land wherein the splendors of His light shall be revealed, where the mysteries of His Faith shall be unveiled, where the righteous will abide and the free assemble.” 5 “May this American democracy,” He Himself, while in America, was heard to remark, “be the first nation to establish the foundation of international agreement. May it be the first nation to proclaim the unity of mankind. May it be the first to unfurl the standard of the ‘Most Great Peace’… 6 7

Armed with the confidence that America would honor its spiritual mandate, beginning in 1937, Shoghi Effendi initiated a robust planning process that directed material substance to the charter, channeled individual energies and capabilities into coordinated, wide-ranging, multi-year plans, and established a sustainable authority structure to guide “propagating the Bahá’í Faith” well into the future.

Shoghi Effendi passed away unexpectedly in 1957 and did not have the opportunity to witness completion of the 10-year “World Spiritual Crusade,” 8 launched in 1953 under his guidance. Through the efforts of the Hands of the Cause of God, the plan culminated with the election and seating of the first Universal House of Justice 9, “the international governing council of the Bahá’í Faith.”

The Universal House of Justice launched a Nine-Year Plan in 1964. Doing so reinvigorated Shoghi Effendi’s planning process to further the realization of the vision ‘Abdu’l-Bahá outlined in the Tablets of the Divine Plan. As with previous plans, this one, too, enrolled the entire global Bahá’í community in the pursuit of bold goals to advance the Faith. And it became the first in a series of initiatives of varying length which continue to this day with the One-Year Plan for 2021-2022. The diagram below positions the flow of plans in relationship to the full span of the Bahá’í Faith since its inception in 1844. 10

  1. Zamani, Payam. “Central Figures of the Baha’i Faith.” Accessed May 3, 2021. [return]
  2. Baháʾuʾlláh. Tablets of Baháʾuʾlláh, Revealed after the Kitáb-i-Aqdas. Translated by Habib Taherzadeh. 1st ed. Haifa: Bahá’í World Centre, 1978, 126. [return]
  3. Effendi, Shoghi. This Decisive Hour: Messages from Shoghi Effendi to the North American Baháʾís, 1932-1946. Wilmette, Ill: Baháʾí Publishing Trust, 2002. [return]
  4. ’Abdu’l-Bahá. Tablets of the Divine Plan. 1959. Reprint, Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1976, 15. [return]
  5. ’Abdu’l-Bahá. Tablets of the Divine Plan. 1959. Reprint, Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1976, 15. [return]
  6. ʻAbduʼl-Bahá. The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by ʻAbduʼl-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912. Edited by Howard MacNutt. 2nd ed. Wilmette, Ill: Baháʼí Publishing Trust, 1982, 36-37. [return]
  7. Effendi, Shoghi. The World Order of Baháʾ’uʾ’lláh: Selected Letters. 1st pocket-sized ed. Wilmette, Ill: Bahaʾi Publishing Trust, 1991, 75. [return]
  8. Effendi, Shoghi. Citadel of Faith: Messages to America, 1947-1957. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1997. [return]
  9. Universal House of Justice. “The Universal House of Justice.” Bahá’í Reference Library. Accessed May 3, 2021. [return]
  10. Universal House of Justice. “The One Year Plan 2021-2022: Messages of the Universal House of Justice.” Palabra Publications, April 2021, 27. [return]