Every one of you devoted friends should consider himself the only person in the entire world who is wearing the luminous crown of divine teachings and the only one who holds in his hands the life-giving banner of the Cause of Baha'u'llah for the world of humanity; so that he may strive, with a firm resolution, unflinching determination, steadfast steps and hopeful heart, to tread his undeviating path in the chosen highway of God and, with a brilliant countenance and head held high, continue with an unwavering attitude to focus his radiant gaze on the golden horizon of the Cause of God.
The entire Baha'i administrative order mirrors this process of consensus. Baha'i organization subverts the ordinary lines of political geography: "clusters" of assemblies form communities. Regions overlap states. Alaska has its own "National Spiritual Assembly;" so do Sicily and Puerto Rico. Members of the highest international council -- the Universal House of Justice -- are elected regularly in much the same manner and mode as local assemblies. There are no clerics, and no administrative class. Merit is the order of a sober selection.
That assembly disbanded itself after the revolutionary government passed a law making Baha'i assemblies illegal. It was one of several repressive acts by the regime: Baha'is were denied state education, government jobs, or civic recognition of marriage. Baha'is in Iran resisted by not resisting. For the next three decades, Baha'is would see the heightened oppression of the revolution muted by the Iran-Iraq War, relaxed in the thermidor of Khatami's presidency, and returned to official policy in the Ahmadinejad years. By this time, an entirely informal -- and web-based! -- Baha'i education system had sprung up, and a highly-organized informal system to replace the assembly. From June of 2010:
NEW YORK — The trial of seven Baha'i leaders imprisoned for more than two years in Iran seems to have come to a conclusion after three days of successive court hearings.All seven were convicted last August and sentenced to 20 years in prison for "establishment of an illegal administration." Calling themselves asyaran ("friends"), this simple coordinating group had committed the crime of providing basic community functions, like burial services and counseling. These convictions are ironic, as Baha'is created these informal arrangements to stay in compliance with the laws. Baha'i scriptures actually tell them to obey their national authority -- and they had been.
The seven appeared in Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran on the morning of Saturday, 12 June and returned to Evin Prison shortly after noon.