Dispute not with any one concerning the things of this world and its affairs, for God hath abandoned them to such as have set their affection upon them. Out of the whole world He hath chosen for Himself the hearts of men - hearts which the hosts of revelation and of utterance can subdue. Thus hath it been ordained by the Fingers of Bahá, upon the Tablet of God's irrevocable decree, by the behest of Him Who is the Supreme Ordainer, the All-Knowing.

Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, no. CXXVIII

Do not quarrel with anybody, and shun every form of dispute. Utter the Word of God. If he accepteth it the desired purpose is attained, and if he turneth away leave him to himself and trust to God. Such is the attribute of those who are firm in the Covenant.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 210

In brief, O ye believers of God! The text of the divine Book is this: If two souls quarrel and contend about a question of the divine questions, differing and disputing, both are wrong. The wisdom of this incontrovertible law of God is this: That between two souls from amongst the believers of God, no contention and dispute may arise; that they may speak with each other with infinite amity and love. Should there appear the least trace of controversy, they must remain silent, and both parties must continue their discussions no longer, but ask the reality of the question from the Interpreter. This is the irrefutable command!

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of the Divine Plan, p. 56

All should be ready and willing to set aside every personal sense of grievance - justified or unjustified – for the good of the Cause, because the people will never embrace it until they see in its community life mirrored what is so conspicuously lacking in the world: love and unity.

Shoghi Effendi, Letters from the Guardian to Australia and New Zealand, p. 55

It is the sacred duty of the believers to teach, and one of the reasons for so painstakingly building up Assemblies is for them to promulgate the Cause of God, and not to lose their time in discussing details, settling disputes which should not have arisen between Bahá’ís, and generally losing themselves in personalities.

Shoghi Effendi, Letters from the Guardian to Australia and New Zealand, p.69

Regarding your question about the need for greater unity among the friends, there is no doubt that this is so, and the Guardian feels that one of the chief instruments for promoting it is to teach the Bahá’ís themselves, in classes and through precepts, that love of God, and consequently of men, is the essential foundation of every religion, our own included. A greater degree of love will produce a greater unity, because it enables people to bear with each other, to be patient and forgiving.

Shoghi Effendi, The Compilation of Compilations, Vol. II, no. 1299

The Bahá’ís are fully entitled to address criticisms to their assemblies; they can freely air their views about policies or individual members of elected bodies to the assembly, local or national, but then they must whole-heartedly accept the advice or decision of the assembly, according to the principles already laid down for such matters in Bahá’í administration.

Shoghi Effendi, Letters from the Guardian to Australia and New Zealand, p. 55

The Guardian believes that a great deal of the difficulties from which the believers ... feel themselves to be suffering are caused by their neither correctly understanding nor putting into practice the administration. They seem - many of them - to be prone to continually challenging and criticizing the decisions of their Assemblies. If the Bahá’ís undermine the very bodies which are, however immaturely, seeking to co-ordinate Bahá’í activities and administer Bahá’í affairs, if they continually criticize their acts and challenge or belittle their decisions, they not only prevent any real rapid progress in the Faith's development from taking place, but they repel outsiders who quite rightly may ask how we ever expect to unite the whole world when we are so disunited among ourselves! There is only one remedy for this: to study the administration, to obey the Assemblies, and each believer seek to perfect his own character as a Bahá’í.

Shoghi Effendi, The Compilation of Compilations, Vol. II, no. 1469

The Guardian wishes to emphasize the importance of avoiding references to civil courts of cases of dispute between believers, even in non-Bahá’í issues. It is the Assembly's function to endeavor to settle amicably such disputes, both in order to safeguard the fair name and prestige of the Cause, and to acquire the necessary experience for the extension of its functions in the future.

Shoghi Effendi, in Principles of Bahá’í Administration, p. 28

We can never exert the influence over others which we can exert over ourselves. If we are better, if we show love, patience, and understanding of the weaknesses of others; if we seek to never criticize but rather encourage, others will do likewise, and we can really help the Cause through our example and spiritual strength. The Bahá’ís everywhere, when the administration is first established, find it very difficult to adjust themselves. They have to learn to obey, even when the Assembly may be wrong, for the sake of unity. They have to sacrifice their personalities, to a certain extent, in order that the community life may grow and develop as a whole. These things are difficult - but we must realize that they will lead us to a very much greater, more perfect, way of life when the Faith is properly established according to the administration.

Shoghi Effendi, The Compilation of Compilations, Vol. II, no. 1469

When criticism and harsh words arise within a Bahá’í community, there is no remedy except to put the past behind one, and persuade all concerned to turn over a new leaf, and for the sake of God and His Faith refrain from mentioning the subjects which have led to misunderstanding and inharmony. The more the friends argue back and forth and maintain, each side, that their point of view is the right one, the worse the whole situation becomes.

When we see the condition the world is in today, we must surely forget these utterly insignificant internal disturbances, and rush, unitedly, to the rescue of humanity. You should urge your fellow-Bahá’ís to take this point of view, and to support you in a strong effort to suppress every critical thought and every harsh word, in order to let the spirit of Bahá’u’lláh flow into the entire community, and unite it in His love and His service.

Shoghi Effendi, The Compilation of Compilations, Vol. II, p. 23

[Y]our Assembly should constantly exhort the friends to be more conscious of their duties, and to be very careful of having differences of opinion which are so strong as to lead to disputes and thus humiliate our beloved Faith in the eyes of non-Bahá’ís. The public is beginning to observe them, and they must therefore conduct themselves at all times as befits those who bear the glorious Name of Bahá. They must be forgetful of self, but ever mindful of the Cause of God!

Shoghi Effendi, Messages of Shoghi Effendi to the Indian Subcontinent, p. 264

It is important to note, however, that individuals who wish to present their views should do so in a way compatible with the Bahá’í spirit of consultation. It sometimes happens that a believer insists on expounding his views at Bahá’í meetings, and frequently disrupts such gatherings, and may even display such behaviour in the presence of non-Bahá’ís. If he stubbornly persists in this conduct, despite exhortations and warnings given to him by the proper Bahá’í institutions, he will somehow have to be prevented from taking the law into his own hands and jeopardizing Bahá’í interests. When differences such as these arise, it is important that frank and loving consultation between the person concerned and the Local Spiritual Assembly, and if need be the National Spiritual Assembly, should take place, or perhaps the institution of the Counsellors could help resolve the problem.

Universal House of Justice, 7 February 1993, “Issues Concerning Community Functioning”

[T]he House of Justice ... states that believers should take their differences to the Spiritual Assembly and abide by the decision of the Assembly. However, if Bahá’ís cannot negotiate a settlement of a dispute between them, and if the Spiritual Assembly cannot succeed in arbitrating a solution to the dispute, then there is no objection to the Bahá’ís having recourse to the civil courts. The Assembly should not hesitate to refuse to act in a case which it is satisfied is more properly a question for the law courts. However, the Assembly does not have the authority to prohibit a believer from having recourse to the civil courts if he decides to do so.

Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, no. 1466

Assemblies are advised to ask any parties wishing to consult with it on any matter involving a dispute to agree in writing not to compel the Assembly to testify or produce records in any legal proceeding regarding the matter.

USA- NSA, Guidelines for Local Spiritual Assemblies, Chapter 14, p. 19

Assemblies should also keep in mind that although both parties in a dispute may be at fault, they are often not equally so and that one party may truly need the Assembly’s help in dealing with the other.

USA- NSA, Guidelines for Local Spiritual Assemblies, Chapter 14, p. 21

Do not allow difference of opinion, or diversity of thought to separate you from your fellow-men, or to be the cause of dispute, hatred and strife in your hearts. Rather, search diligently for the truth and make all men your friends.

?bdu'l-Bahá, Paris Talks, pp. 53-54

Every edifice is made of many different stones, yet each depends on the other to such an extent that if one were displaced the whole building would suffer; if one is faulty the structure is imperfect.

?bdu'l-Bahá, Paris Talks, pp. 53-54

In attempting to aid parties in resolving disputes not involving allegations of abuse or suspected abuse, Assemblies may find it helpful to suggest that the parties examine separately their own roles and assumptions in the dispute, as well as the accuracy of the views of the other parties. The Assembly may also find it helpful to steer thinking away from extreme outcomes, worst-case scenarios or unrealistically optimistic scenarios, as those kinds of thinking tend to escalate apprehension between both parties, exacerbate the current situation, or set them up for future disappointments if they are unrealistically optimistic. It should assist the parties involved to consider moderate views based on facts rather than suppositions, speculation or fears. It may find that either or both parties need assistance in clarifying and separating facts from assumptions and/or opinions.

USA- NSA, Guidelines for Local Spiritual Assemblies, Chapter 14, p. 21

In disputes between believers regarding personal matters, Assemblies should generally avoid accepting the word of either party before a thorough examination of the facts and without obtaining the comments of all parties. However, in situations of abuse, suspected abuse or allegations of abuse, the Assembly should, before taking any further action, refer immediately to Guidelines for Spiritual Assemblies on Domestic Violence: A Supplement to Guidelines for Local Spiritual Assemblies for information on how to proceed.

USA- NSA, Guidelines for Local Spiritual Assemblies, Chapter 14, p. 21

Likewise, when you meet those whose opinions differ from your own, do not turn away your face from them. All are seeking truth, and there are many roads leading thereto. Truth has many aspects, but it remains always and forever one.

?bdu'l-Bahá, Paris Talks, pp. 53-54

Occasionally, disputes may involve manipulation or lying. The Assembly must weigh each situation carefully, as skilled manipulators are often able to mislead others and get away with and continue their behavior by matching every true statement with a false allegation. Examples of this might be when both parties accuse each other of the same thing or when one party accuses the other of being a liar to confuse the Assembly. This may lead the Assembly to feel that it cannot determine the truth or that neither party is being truthful.

USA- NSA, Guidelines for Local Spiritual Assemblies, Chapter 14, p. 21

Sometimes a believer will refuse to accept the decision of an Assembly and will repeatedly raise the same issue, consuming an inordinate amount of the Assembly’s time. Although every believer has the right to appeal a decision of the Assembly, none have the right to harass the Assembly in the hope or belief that it will change its decision to suit the individual’s viewpoint.

USA- NSA, Guidelines for Local Spiritual Assemblies, Chapter 14, p. 21

The Assembly may wish to appoint a representative or representatives to mediate until the dispute is resolved or it becomes clear that resolution will not be forthcoming through consultation. If, after reasonable efforts to assist the parties, the dispute remains unsettled, the Assembly may withdraw in favor of civil proceedings or seek advice from the National Spiritual Assembly about how to proceed. In any case, it should guard against allowing wrangling between parties to take up an inordinate amount of its time.

USA- NSA, Guidelines for Local Spiritual Assemblies, Chapter 14, p. 21

When the Assembly or its representatives are faced with handling any dispute, it may be helpful to ask the persons involved to explain their understandings of what has happened. In situations where one person complains that another did not fulfill a commitment or a promise, the Assembly should find out whether the person has talked with the other person(s) about the lack of fulfillment and what was said. Establishing the facts of what was done, said, and understood will enable the Assembly to see immediately how much each person knows or does not know and enable it to address the situation more effectively and with less investment of its own time.

USA- NSA, Guidelines for Local Spiritual Assemblies, Chapter 14, p. 19