An authoritative Tradition states: "As for him who is one of the learned: he must guard himself, defend his faith, oppose his passions and obey the commandments of his Lord. It is then the duty of the people to pattern themselves after him." Since these illustrious and holy words embody all the conditions of learning, a brief commentary on their meaning is appropriate. Whoever is lacking in these divine qualifications and does not demonstrate these inescapable requirements in his own life, should not be referred to as learned and is not worthy to serve as a model for the believers.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Secret of Divine Civilization, p. 34

For if a learned individual has no knowledge of the sacred Scriptures and the entire field of divine and natural science, of religious jurisprudence and the arts of government and the varied learning of the time and the great events of history, he might prove unequal to an emergency, and this is inconsistent with the necessary qualification of comprehensive knowledge.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Secret of Divine Civilization, p. 35-36

In view of the fact that at the present time such fully developed and comprehensively learned individuals are hard to come by, and the government and people are in dire need of order and direction, it is essential to establish a body of scholars the various groups of whose membership would each be expert in one of the aforementioned branches of knowledge. This body should with the greatest energy and vigor deliberate as to all present and future requirements, and bring about equilibrium and order.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Secret of Divine Civilization, p. 36-37

The first attribute of perfection is learning and the cultural attainments of the mind, and this eminent station is achieved when the individual combines in himself a thorough knowledge of those complex and transcendental realities pertaining to God, of the fundamental truths of Qur'ánic political and religious law, of the contents of the sacred Scriptures of other faiths, and of those regulations and procedures which would contribute to the progress and civilization of this distinguished country. He should in addition be informed as to the laws and principles, the customs, conditions and manners, and the material and moral virtues characterizing the statecraft of other nations, and should be well versed in all the useful branches of learning of the day, and study the historical records of bygone governments and peoples.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Secret of Divine Civilization, p. 35-36

The first of these requirements is to guard one's own self. It is obvious that this does not refer to protecting oneself from calamities and material tests [but] to acquire the attributes of spiritual and material perfection.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Secret of Divine Civilization, p. 34-35

The spiritually learned must be characterized by both inward and outward perfections; they must possess a good character, an enlightened nature, a pure intent, as well as intellectual power, brilliance and discernment, intuition, discretion and foresight, temperance, reverence, and a heartfelt fear of God.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Secret of Divine Civilization, p. 33

The first quality for leadership both among individuals and Assemblies is the capacity to use the energy and competence that exists in the rank and file of its followers. Otherwise the more competent members of the groups will go at a tangent and try to find elsewhere a field of work and where they could use their energy.

Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 33

Abase not the station of the learned in Bahá and belittle not the rank of such rulers as administer justice amidst you.

The Universal House of Justice, The Institution of the Counsellors, p. 9

Comments have been made in recent times, implying the existence of two categories of believers, designated "administrators" and "academics". The House of Justice feels that it is important to recognize the unsoundness of such a concept. In the nature of Bahá’í administration, there is no class of believers who serve as "administrators". Individual Bahá’ís are either elected or appointed to positions of administrative service; they come from every field of endeavour, including academia. There is, moreover, a natural flow of individuals into and out of administrative posts. The same applies to the occupants of those institutions of the Administrative Order which are referred to as being of the "learned" in the Faith. Clearly there are some Bahá’ís who are "academics" and some who are not, but "academics" in no way constitute a recognized group in relation to the structure of the Cause.

The Universal House of Justice, 1992 Dec 10, Issues Related to Study Compilation