In Bahaism, a very harsh and tormenting punishment exists for those Bahais that act against the decrees and teachings or orders of the Universal House of Justice. These individuals are labeled as covenant breakers. Their punishment is referred to as ?ard, meaning excommunication, shunning, or banishment. All of Bahaullah’s descendants have been shunned by Shoghi and Abdul Baha and not a single Bahai exists today that is related by blood to Bahaullah.

Abdul Baha gave the following order:
The Hands of the Cause of God must be ever watchful and so soon as they find anyone beginning to oppose and protest against the Guardian of the Cause of God, cast him out from the congregation of the people of Baha and in no wise accept any excuse from him. How often hath grievous error been disguised in the garb of truth, that it might sow the seeds of doubt in the hearts of men!
Abdul Baha, The Will and Testament of Abdul Baha, p. 12

Bahais are ordered to deal with covenant breakers in the same way one deals with someone afflicted with a plague; such that the closest people to them, even their father, mother, children, and spouse, are strictly prohibited from speaking or having any contact with them.

In Bahaism there are two kinds of excommunication. One is administrative and the other is spiritual:

Administrative Excommunication: The punishment of administrative excommunication applies to a Bahai that acts against the Bahai rules and teachings and does not pay attention to the warnings of spiritual assemblies, and does not compensate for these actions. For example, they do not have an active presence in feasts and elections, or they do not act according to the Bahai teachings (such as the rules relating to marriage and divorce). Determining this is up to the local or national spiritual assemblies. An administrative covenant breaker that is excommunicated is excluded from administrative and social Bahai rights, such as taking part in elections, being a member of spiritual assemblies and administrative committees, attending feasts, and giving donations.

Spiritual Excommunication: If a Bahai violates the orders and prohibitions of the Universal House of Justice and dissents from the fundamental and certain tenets of Bahaism or turns his back to Bahaism, he will be subject to the punishment of spiritual excommunication. No Bahai, not even the closest members of their family such as their father, mother, and spouse, have the right to speak or socialize with a Bahai who has been spiritually excommunicated. Any Bahai who disobeys this order, will automatically be regarded as a covenant breaker and will be given the same treatment.

Read More on Excommunication Here

The order below, has been issued by Shoghi Effendi, and refers to both kinds of covenant breaking:
A question was asked about the friends that, as a result of their ignorance and neglect, had been excluded from administrative affairs about whether they should be invited to public assemblies or not? He (Shoghi) said, "inviting them is not permitted." And it was asked about those that had been excluded from the community, whether greeting and speaking with them was permitted? He replied, "if they have been spiritually excommunicated, speaking with them is not permitted in any way."
Shoghi Effendi, Tauqi`at-i mubarak-i (1945-1952), (n.p. [probably Tehran]: Mu’assisiyi Milli Matbu`at Amri, 125 B.), pp. 94-95

In some occasions, the order of spiritual covenant breaking was given for very trivial reasons. For example, if a Bahai wishes to go on a pilgrimage to visit the shrine of Bahaullah in Palestine, they should go in coordination and with the planning of Bahai organizations and the Universal House of Justice. They are not allowed to travel there without their consent and permission. If this matter is not heeded, the transgressing individual will become a spiritual covenant breaker. For instance, a Bahai by the name of ?adiq Ashchi visited Palestine without Shoghi’s permission. When Shoghi was informed, he issued a spiritual covenant breaking decree for Ashchi and ordered the swift implementation of this order. A part of this message is cited below:

Regarding the issue of Sadiq, the son of Aqa Muhammad Javad Ashchi, he ordered to write that "this ill-mannered and innately lowly person recently traveled to Palestine against the orders of this servant and entered the Holy Land. A telegraph regarding his excommunication and his banishment from the [Bahai] community has been sent to that assembly. Clearly tell and warn his father that communication with him is not permitted by any means and disobeying and opposing [this order] will have severe results."
Shoghi Effendi, Tauqi`at-i mubarak-i (1945-1952), p. 4142

Such cases are not rare. Here are two more examples:

In regards to Ruhi Ghani, who traveled from Mashhad to America without informing the assembly, he ordered me to write, "this individual, because of his dissent and deviation, is also excommunicated from the community and because he contacted the son of Dihqan in England and both traveled to America . . ." He also stated, "write that the spiritual excommunication of Nusrat-Allah Bahir-after I consulted his mother-is necessary and obligatory."
Shoghi Effendi, Tauqi`at-i mubarak-i (1945-1952), p. 78-79

It is evident from what we quoted that Abdul Baha and Shoghi are advocates of shunning and excommunication. As usual their stance contradicts the words of Bahaullah:
Whatsoever hath led the children of men to shun one another, and hath caused dissensions and divisions amongst them, hath, through the revelation of these words, been nullified and abolished.
Bahaullah, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahaullah, p. 95

Yet, Bahaullah is contradicting himself too:
v Shun any man in whom you perceive enmity for this Servant, though he may appear in the garb of piety of the former and later people, or may arise to the worship of the two worlds.
Abdul Baha, Bahai World Faith-Selected Writings of Bahaullah and `Abdul-Baha (Abdul Baha’s Section Only), p. 431

How can someone who preaches the Oneness of Humanity justify excommunication? Abdul Baha’s words are even more disturbing:
One thing remains to be said: it is that the communities are day and night occupied in making penal laws, and in preparing and organizing instruments and means of punishment. They build prisons, make chains and fetters, arrange places of exile and banishment, and different kinds of hardships and tortures, and think by these means to discipline criminals, whereas, in reality, they are causing destruction of morals and perversion of characters.
Abdul Baha, Some Answered Questions, p. 271

If the communities punish and banish it is bad, but if the Bahais do it there is no problem in doing so?! He then claims that people must be educated so that crime may not occur:

The community, on the contrary, ought day and night to strive and endeavor with the utmost zeal and effort to accomplish the education of men, to cause them day by day to progress and to increase in science and knowledge, to acquire virtues, to gain good morals and to avoid vices, so that crimes may not occur. At the present time the contrary prevails; the community is always thinking of enforcing the penal laws, and of preparing means of punishment, instruments of death and chastisement, places for imprisonment and banishment; and they expect crimes to be committed. This has a demoralizing effect.
Abdul Baha, Some Answered Questions, p. 272

When the best form of education-being Bahaism-was given to its followers but many of them still got banished, how can Abdul Baha insist that education solves the problem and people should not be banished?

Banishing and excommunication reached such an extent that by the time of Shoghi almost every single direct descendant of Bahaullah had been labeled as being corrupt and been banished by either Shoghi or Abdul Baha. Why was it that most of Bahaullah’s branches and leaves-i.e. family and descendants-became corrupt and suffered this fate? The answer can be found in Bahaullah’s own words: You are like a spring of water. When its source becomes corrupt so do the streams that separate from it. Fear God and be pious. Likewise, look at man. When his heart becomes corrupt so do all his limbs and organs. Likewise, if the root of a tree becomes corrupt so do its branches and twigs (aghsan and afnan) and its leaves and its fruit.
Bahaullah, Athar-i Qalam-i Ala (Canada: Mu’assisiyi Ma`arif Bahai, 2002), vol. 2, no. 90, p. 603.

The articles have been based on the book "Avaze Dohol" - the Beating of the Drum by Masoud Basiti, Zahra Moradi.

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