Study Guide for the 28 November 2023 Message

My cousin, Matt Giani, has penned a potential study guide for the recent 28 November 2023 message from the Universal House of Justice message that shares reflections on the first century of the Formative Age.

You can read or download the message from the Baha’i Reference Library.

We’ve also shared an audio reading of the message if you find it helpful to listen to it.

Matt created a list of 51 questions that take us, section by section, through the whole letter and each question indicates which paragraph it refers to. I’m sure additional study guides will be, or have been, created and shared and this isn’t an authoritative guide to this incredible text by any means; we are, however, grateful to Matt for his willingness to share it with us.

Happy studying!

Introduction and Overview

1. How does the Universal House of Justice characterize the current state of the global Baha’i community? (para. 2)

2. What event does this letter commemorate roughly a century since its occurrence? (para. 3) 

3. Why did the House of Justice choose this moment to write this letter? (para. 7-8, para. 87)

4. What are the four stated aims of the letter? (para. 8)

Translating What is Written Into Reality and Action 

5. What does Baha’u’llah say it is incumbent for us to do? (para. 9)

6. How does the House of Justice describe the purpose of the Formative Age of the Faith? (para. 10)

7. How did Shoghi Effendi help the Baha’i community “translate that which hath been written into reality and action?” (para. 11)

8. [Discussion] Why does the Universal House of Justice connect the strengthening of the Administrative Order with teaching the Faith? (para. 12) 

9. How does the House of Justice describe the “learning mode” of the Baha’i community and how it has evolved since the time of Shoghi Effendi? (para. 12-14)

10. What are the “three Charters” described by Shoghi Effendi, and what three aspects of the Baha’i community’s development have they guided? (para. 15)

The Perpetuation of the Covenant 

11. What is the Covenant in the Baha’i Faith (sometimes described as the Lesser Covenant), and what was its purpose? (para. 16-17)

12. How potent has the Covenant been? (para. 18-20)

13. What are the two “authoritative centers” of the Covenant? (para. 22-23)

14. What is the relationship between the Universal House of Justice and the Covenant? (para. 24)

15. Why is the Covenant so important, particularly given the current state of the world? (para. 25-26)

The Unfoldment of the Administrative Order 

16. What is the Administrative Order of Baha’u’llah, and why is it described as the “Child of the Covenant?” (para. 27)

17. Why is the Administrative Order a “system without precedent”? (para. 28)

18. What was the state of the Administrative Order at the time of Abdu’l-Baha’s Passing? (para. 29)

19. How has the Administrative Order evolved from the time of Abdu’l-Baha’s Passing to today? (para. 30-33)

20. When and why did Shoghi Effendi appoint new Hands of the Cause for the first time during his Guardianship? (para. 34)

21. Why is the institution of the Hands of the Cause “unparalleled in the religions of the past?” (para. 34)

22. How did that institution evolve over time? (para. 34)

23. What transpired between the time of the Guardian’s passing in 1957 and the election of the first Universal House of Justice in 1963? (para. 36)

24. How has the Universal House of Justice continued to promote and evolve the Administrative Order? (para. 37)

25. How does the Universal House of Justice describe the capacities of the Baha’i community that have been developed and achieved as a result of the strengthening of the Administrative Order? (para. 39-40)

26. [Discussion] In what ways might the Administrative Order continue to evolve in the future? (para. 41)

The Worldwide Spread and Development of the Faith 

27. How did the Faith spread from the time of the Bab to Abdu’l-Baha? (para. 42-43)

28. Why did Shoghi Effendi hold the execution of The Tablets of the Divine Plan “in abeyance” for 20 years? (para. 44)

29. How did the plans launched by Shoghi Effendi contribute to the spread of the Faith? (para. 45-48)

30. How did the Hands of the Cause execute the Guardian’s plans after his passing? (para. 49)

31. How did the Universal House of Justice broaden and augment the plans initiated by Shoghi Effendi? (para. 50)

32. What were the two patterns that described the development of national communities during the 1990s? (para. 51-52)

33. What caused the Baha’i community to reach a turning point around 1996 and refocus its efforts? (para. 53)

34. How does the Universal House of Justice describe the current pattern of the development of communities? (para. 55-56)

Involvement in the Life of Society 

35. What are some ways in which the early Baha’i community was “involved in the life of society”? (para. 58). 

36. Why was the emphasis on these efforts limited historically, particularly during the time of Shoghi Effendi? (para. 59)

37. How and why did the emphasis on these efforts begin to strengthen around 1983? (para. 60-63)

38. How does the House of Justice describe the Baha’i community’s engagement in the “prevalent discourses of society?” (para. 64)

39. How have the Baha’i community’s efforts to engage in public discourse evolved? (para. 65-67)

40. How has the coherence between teaching, the development of the Administrative Order, and involvement in the life of society strengthened over time? (para. 69)

The Development of the Baha’i World Centre 

41. What is the significance of the Baha’i World Centre being located in Israel? (para. 70-71)

42. What was the state of the “spiritual center” of the Baha’i Faith from the time of Baha’u’llah to Shoghi Effendi? (para. 72)

43. How did Shoghi Effendi develop the Baha’i World Centre? (para. 73)

44. How has the functioning of the Baha’i World Centre continued to expand and evolve under the direction of the Universal House of Justice? (para. 74-75)


45. How has the Baha’i community learned to address increasingly complex tasks and resolve increasingly complex questions that have arisen? (para. 79-80)

46. What is the current focus of the Baha’i community described in the Nine Year Plan? (para. 81)

47. What are some of the forces of disintegration affecting society that Baha’is must “read” and learn to effectively respond to? (para. 82-83)

48. How have these forces affected the Baha’i community’s development? (para. 84)

49. Why does the Universal House of Justice reference the Iranian Baha’i community’s efforts when discussing how to respond to these forces of disintegration? (para. 85)

50. Why does the Universal House of Justice state that the Baha’i community must shift its focus from “community-building” to “society-building” at this moment in its history? (para. 86-87)

51. What are the implications of this new focus for the Baha’i community’s efforts? (para. 88-89)

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Naysan Naraqi

Naysan is passionate about using the arts and media to explore the teachings of the Baha’i Faith. Back in 2011, Naysan started up the Baha’i Blog project, channeling his experiences in both media and technology companies to help create a hub for Baha’i-inspired content online.

Naysan Naraqi

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