Bahá'í Faith in Central America

Last updated

The Bahá'í Faith is a diverse and widespread religion founded by Bahá'u'lláh in the 19th century in Iran. Bahá'í sources usually estimate the worldwide Bahá'í population to be above 5 million. [1] Most encyclopedias and similar sources estimate between 5 and 6 million Bahá'ís in the world in the early 21st century. [2] [3] The religion is almost entirely contained in a single, organized, hierarchical community, but the Bahá'í population is spread out into almost every country and ethnicity in the world, being recognized as the second-most geographically widespread religion after Christianity. [2] [4] See Bahá'í statistics.

Baháí Faith Monotheistic religion founded in 1863 by Baháulláh in the Middle East; promotes the unity of mankind; sees major religions as unified in purpose; faces persecution in Iran

The Bahá'í Faith is a religion teaching the essential worth of all religions, and the unity and equality of all people. Established by Bahá'u'lláh in 1863, it initially grew in Iran and parts of the Middle East, where it has faced ongoing persecution since its inception. It is estimated to have between 5 and 8 million adherents, known as Bahá'ís, spread out into most of the world's countries and territories.

The Bahá'í World News Service reports a Bahá'í membership of more than 5 million worldwide, in "virtually every country" and many territories. Other sources such as Encyclopædia Britannica or the World Christian Encyclopedia have listed Bahá'í membership as over 7 million. The Bahá'í Faith is recognized as the second-most geographically widespread religion after Christianity, and the only religion to have grown faster than the population of the world in all major areas over the last century.

Contents

Summary

`Abdu'l-Bahá, the son of the founder of the religion, wrote a series of letters, or tablets, to the followers of the religion in the United States in 1916–1917; these letters were compiled together in the book titled Tablets of the Divine Plan. The sixth of the tablets was the first to mention Latin American regions and was written on 8 April 1916, but was delayed in being presented in the United States until 1919—after the end of the First World War and the Spanish flu pandemic. The first actions on the part of Bahá'í community towards Latin America were that of a few individuals who made trips to Mexico and South America near or before this unveiling in 1919, including Mr. and Mrs. Frankland, and individuals who would later be appointed as Hands of the Cause like Roy C. Wilhelm, and Martha Root. The sixth tablet was translated and presented by Mirza Ahmad Sohrab on 4 April 1919, and published in Star of the West magazine on 12 December 1919. [5]

`Abdul-Bahá Son of Baháulláh and leader of the Baháí Faith

`Abdu’l-Bahá', born `Abbás, was the eldest son of Bahá'u'lláh and served as head of the Bahá'í Faith from 1892 until 1921. `Abdu’l-Bahá was later canonized as the last of three "central figures" of the religion, along with Bahá'u'lláh and the Báb, and his writings and authenticated talks are regarded as a source of Bahá'í sacred literature.

United States federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.

<i>Tablets of the Divine Plan</i> literary work

The Tablets of the Divine Plan collectively refers to 14 letters (tablets) written between March 1916 and March 1917 by `Abdu'l-Bahá to Bahá'ís in the United States and Canada. Included in multiple books, the first five tablets were printed in America in Star of the West - Vol. VII, No. 10, September 8, 1916, and all the tablets again after World War I in Vol. IX, No. 14, November 23, 1918, before being presented again at the Ridván meeting of 1919.

His Holiness Christ says: Travel ye to the East and to the West of the world and summon the people to the Kingdom of God.…(travel to) the Islands of the West Indies, such as Cuba, Haiti, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, the Islands of the Lesser Antilles (which includes Barbados), Bahama Islands, even the small Watling Island, have great importance… [6]

Cuba Country in the Caribbean

Cuba, officially the Republic of Cuba, is a country comprising the island of Cuba as well as Isla de la Juventud and several minor archipelagos. Cuba is located in the northern Caribbean where the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean meet. It is east of the Yucatán Peninsula (Mexico), south of both the U.S. state of Florida and the Bahamas, west of Haiti and north of both Jamaica and the Cayman Islands. Havana is the largest city and capital; other major cities include Santiago de Cuba and Camagüey. The area of the Republic of Cuba is 110,860 square kilometres (42,800 sq mi). The island of Cuba is the largest island in Cuba and in the Caribbean, with an area of 105,006 square kilometres (40,543 sq mi), and the second-most populous after Hispaniola, with over 11 million inhabitants.

Haiti country in the Caribbean

Haiti, officially the Republic of Haiti and formerly called Hayti, is a country located on the island of Hispaniola, east of Cuba in the Greater Antilles archipelago of the Caribbean Sea. It occupies the western three-eighths of the island, which it shares with the Dominican Republic. Haiti is 27,750 square kilometres (10,714 sq mi) in size and has an estimated 10.8 million people, making it the most populous country in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the second-most populous country in the Caribbean as a whole.

Puerto Rico Unincorporated territory of the United States

Puerto Rico, officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and briefly called Porto Rico, is an unincorporated territory of the United States located in the northeast Caribbean Sea, approximately 1,000 miles (1,600 km) southeast of Miami, Florida.

In 1927 Leonora Armstrong was the first Bahá'í to visit many of these countries where she gave lectures about the religion as part of her plan to compliment and complete Martha Root's unfulfilled intention of visiting all the Latin American countries for the purpose of presenting the religion to an audience. [7]

Leonora Stirling Holsapple Armstrong was the first Bahá'í to live in Brazil. She went as a pioneer to Brazil in 1921 when she was only 25 years old and due to her efforts and services for the Bahá'í Faith in Brazil and across Latin America she was named the 'Spiritual Mother of the Bahá'ís of South America'.

Martha Root travelling teacher of the Baháí Faith in the late 19th and early 20th century

Martha Louise Root was a prominent traveling teacher of the Bahá'í Faith in the late 19th and early 20th century. Shoghi Effendi, then head of the Bahá'í Faith, called her "the foremost travel teacher in the first Bahá'í Century", and named her a Hand of the Cause posthumously. Known by her numerous visits with Heads of State and other public figures, of special importance was her efforts with Queen Marie of Romania, considered the first royal to accept Bahá'u'lláh.

Seven Year Plan and succeeding decades

Shoghi Effendi, head of the religion after the death of `Abdu'l-Bahá in 1921, wrote a cable on 1 May 1936 to the Bahá'í Annual Convention of the United States and Canada, and asked for the systematic implementation of `Abdu'l-Bahá's vision to begin. [8] In his cable he wrote:

Shoghi Effendi Guardian of the Baháí Faith

Shoghí Effendí Rabbání, better known as Shoghi Effendi, was the Guardian and appointed head of the Bahá'í Faith from 1921 until his death in 1957. Shoghi Effendi spent his early life in ʿAkkā (Acre). His education was directed to serving as secretary and translator to his grandfather, `Abdu'l-Bahá, then leader of the Bahá'í Faith and son of the religion's founder, Bahá'u'lláh.

Telegraphy long distance transmission of textual/symbolic messages without the physical exchange of an object

Telegraphy is the long-distance transmission of textual or symbolic messages without the physical exchange of an object bearing the message. Thus semaphore is a method of telegraphy, whereas pigeon post is not.

Appeal to assembled delegates ponder historic appeal voiced by `Abdu'l-Bahá in Tablets of the Divine Plan. Urge earnest deliberation with incoming National Assembly to insure its complete fulfillment. First century of Bahá'í Era drawing to a close. Humanity entering outer fringes most perilous stage its existence. Opportunities of present hour unimaginably precious. Would to God every State within American Republic and every Republic in American continent might ere termination of this glorious century embrace the light of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh and establish structural basis of His World Order. [9]

YearNumber of NSAs
in the world [10] [11] [12]
19233
193610
195312
196370
1973113
1979125
1988148
2001182
2008184

Following the 1 May cable, another cable from Shoghi Effendi came on 19 May calling for permanent pioneers to be established in all the countries of Latin America. [8] The Bahá'í National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada appointed the Inter-America Committee to take charge of the preparations. During the 1937 Bahá'í North American Convention, Shoghi Effendi cabled advising the convention to prolong their deliberations to permit the delegates and the National Assembly to consult on a plan that would enable Bahá'ís to go to Latin America as well as to include the completion of the outer structure of the Bahá'í House of Worship in Wilmette, Illinois. In 1937 the First Seven Year Plan (1937–44), which was an international plan designed by Shoghi Effendi, gave the American Bahá'ís the goal of establishing the Bahá'í Faith in every country in Latin America. With the spread of American Bahá'ís in Latin American, Bahá'í communities and Local Spiritual Assemblies began to form in 1938 across the rest of Latin America.

In 1946, a great pioneer movement, the Ten Year Crusade, began with, for example, sixty percent of the British Bahá'í community eventually relocating. [13]

As far back as 1951 the Bahá'ís had organized a regional National Assembly for the combination of Mexico, Central America and the Antilles islands. [8] Many counties formed their own National Assembly in 1961. Others continued to be organized in regional areas growing progressively smaller. From 1966 the region was reorganized among the Bahá'ís of Leeward, Windward and Virgin Islands with its seat in Charlotte Amalie. [14]

Among the more notable visitors was Hand of the Cause Ruhiyyih Khanum when she toured Caribbean Islands for five weeks in 1970. [15]

Countries

Barbados

The first Bahá'í to visit Barbados was Leonora Armstrong in 1927 [7] while pioneers who moved to the island arrived by 1964. [16] With local converts they elected the first Bahá'í Local Spiritual Assembly in 1965. [17] During October 1966 a trip to ten islands was planned by Lorraine Landau, a pioneer in Barbados. [18] Hand of the Cause `Alí-Muhammad Varqá attended the inaugural election of the Barbados Bahá'ís National Spiritual Assembly in 1981. [19] Since then Bahá'ís have participated in several projects for the benefit of the wider community and in 2001 various sources report up to 1.2% of the island, [20] about 3,500 citizens are Bahá'ís [21] though Bahá'í and government census data report far lower numbers. [22] [23] In fact, the 2010 Barbados census recorded 178 Bahá'ís out of a total population of 250,010. [24]

Belize

The Association of Religion Data Archives estimates there were 7,776 Bahá'ís in Belize in 2005, or 2.5% of the national population. If correct, the Association of Religion Data Archives' estimates suggest this is the highest proportion of Bahá'ís in any country. [25] Their data also states that the Bahá'í Faith is the second most common religion in Belize, followed by Hinduism (2.0%) and Judaism (1.1%). [26] However the 2010 Belize Population Census recorded 202 Bahá'ís out of a total population of 304,106, [27] [28] yielding a proportion of 0.066%, not 2.5%.

Costa Rica

The first pioneers began to settle in Coast Rica in 1940. [29] followed quickly by the first Bahá'í Local Spiritual Assembly being elected in San José in April 1941. [8] The National Spiritual Assembly was first elected in 1961. [10] Bahá'ís sources as of 2009 the national community includes various peoples and tribes of over 4,000 members organized in groups in over 30 locations throughout the country. [29] The Association of Religion Data Archives (relying mostly on the World Christian Encyclopedia) estimated some 13000 Bahá'ís in 2005. [30]

Dominica

The island of Dominica was specifically listed as an objective for plans on spreading the religion in 1939 Shoghi Effendi, [31] who succeeded `Abdu'l-Baha as head of the religion. In 1983 Bill Nedden is credited with being the first pioneer to Dominica at the festivities associated with the inaugural election of the Dominican Bahá'ís National Spiritual Assembly [19] with Hand of the Cause, Dhikru'llah Khadem representing the Universal House of Justice. Since then Bahá'ís have participated in several projects for the benefit of the wider community and in 2001 various sources report between less than 1.4% [32] up to 1.7% of the island's about 70,000 citizens are Bahá'ís. [21]

Haiti

The first Bahá'í to visit Haiti was Leonora Armstrong in 1927. [33] After that others visited until Louis George Gregory visited in January 1937 and he mentions a small community of Bahá'ís operating in Haiti. [34] The first long term pioneers, Ruth and Ellsworth Blackwell, arrived in 1940. [35] Following their arrival the first Bahá'í Local Spiritual Assembly of Haiti was formed in 1942 in Port-au-Prince. [36] From 1951 the Haitian Bahá'ís participated in regional organizations of the religion [37] until 1961 when Haitian Bahá'ís elected their own National Spiritual Assembly [38] and soon took on goals reaching out into neighboring islands. [39] The Association of Religion Data Archives (relying mostly on the World Christian Encyclopedia) estimated some 23000 Bahá'ís in Haiti in 2005. [30]

Jamaica

The community of the Bahá'ís begins in 1942 with the arrival of Dr. Malcolm King. [40] The first Bahá'í Local Spiritual Assembly of Jamaica, in Kingston, was elected in 1943. [41] By 1957 the Bahá'ís of Jamaica were organized under the regional National Spiritual Assembly of the Greater Antilles, and on the eve of national independence in 1962, the Jamaica Bahá'ís elected their own National Spiritual Assembly in 1961. [38] By 1981 hundreds of Bahá'ís and hundreds more non-Bahá'ís turned out for weekend meetings when Rúhíyyih Khánum spent six days in Jamaica. [33] Public recognition of the religion came in the form of the Governor General of Jamaica, Sir Howard Cooke, proclaiming a National Baha'i Day first on 25 July in 2003 and it has been an annual event since. [42] While there is evidence of several active communities by 2008 in Jamaica, estimates of the Bahá'ís population range from the hundreds to the thousands. The Association of Religion Data Archives (relying on World Christian Encyclopedia) estimated some 5137 Bahá'ís in 2005. [30]

Panama

The same year as the release of the Tablets of the Divine Plan in 1919 Martha Root's made a trip around South America and included Panama on the return leg of the trip up the west coast. [43] The first pioneers began to settle in Panama in 1940. [44] The first Bahá'í Local Spiritual Assembly of Panama, in Panama City, was elected in 1946, [8] and National Spiritual Assembly was first elected in 1961. [10] The Bahá'ís of Panama raised a Bahá'í House of Worship in 1972. [45] In 1983 and again in 1992 some commemorative stamps were produced in Panama [46] [47] while the community turned its interests to the San Miguelito and Chiriqui regions of Panama with schools and a radio station. [48] One recent estimation of the Bahá'í community of Panama was of 2.00% of the national population, or about 60000, in 2006. [49] The Association of Religion Data Archives estimated there were some 41000 Bahá'ís in 2005 [30] and the largest religious minority in the country. [50]

Trinidad and Tobago

The Bahá'í Faith in Trinidad and Tobago begins with a mention by `Abdu'l-Bahá, then head of the religion, in 1916 as the Caribbean was among the places Bahá'ís should take the religion to. [5] The first Bahá'í to visit came in 1927 [7] while pioneers arrived by 1956 [51] and the first Bahá'í Local Spiritual Assembly was elected in 1957 [52] In 1971 the first Bahá'í National Spiritual Assembly was elected. [53] A count of the community then noted 27 assemblies with Bahá'ís living in 77 locations. [54] Since then Bahá'ís have participated in several projects for the benefit of the wider community and in 2005/10 various sources report near 1.2% of the country, [55] about 10 [56] –16,000 [30]

See also

Notes

  1. Bahá'í International Community (2006). "Worldwide Community". Bahá'í International Community. Archived from the original on 13 June 2006. Retrieved 31 May 2006.
  2. 1 2 "Worldwide Adherents of All Religions by Six Continental Areas, Mid-2002". Enyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica. 2002. Retrieved 31 May 2006.
  3. adherents.com (2002). "Major Religions of the World Ranked by Number of Adherents". adherents.com. Retrieved 28 August 2005.
  4. MacEoin, Denis (2000). "Baha'i Faith". In Hinnells, John R. The New Penguin Handbook of Living Religions (Second ed.). Penguin. ISBN   0-14-051480-5.
  5. 1 2 Abbas, `Abdu'l-Bahá (April 1919). Tablets, Instructions and Words of Explanation. Mirza Ahmad Sohrab (trans. and comments).
  6. `Abdu'l-Bahá (1991) [1916–17]. Tablets of the Divine Plan (Paperback ed.). Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Bahá'í Publishing Trust. pp. 31–36. ISBN   0-87743-233-3.
  7. 1 2 3 Universal House of Justice (1986). In Memoriam. The Bahá'í World. XVIII. Bahá'í World Centre. pp. 733–736. ISBN   0-85398-234-1.
  8. 1 2 3 4 5 Lamb, Artemus (November 1995). The Beginnings of the Bahá'í Faith in Latin America:Some Remembrances, English Revised and Amplified Edition. 1405 Killarney Drive, West Linn OR, 97068, United States of America: M L VanOrman Enterprises.
  9. Effendi, Shoghi (1947). Messages to America. Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Bahá'í Publishing Committee. p. 6. ISBN   0-87743-145-0. OCLC   5806374.
  10. 1 2 3 Hassall, Graham; Universal House of Justice. "National Spiritual Assemblies statistics 1923–1999". Assorted Resource Tools. Bahá'í Academics Resource Library. Retrieved 10 May 2009.
  11. Baha'i World Statistics 2001 by Baha'i World Center Department of Statistics, 2001–08
  12. The Life of Shoghi Effendi by Helen Danesh, John Danesh and Amelia Danesh, Studying the Writings of Shoghi Effendi, edited by M. Bergsmo (Oxford: George Ronald, 1991)
  13. U.K. Bahá'í Heritage Site. "The Bahá'í Faith in the United Kingdom –A Brief History". Archived from the original on 26 February 2008. Retrieved 18 February 2008.
  14. Universal House of Justice (1966). "Ridván 1966". Ridván Messages. Bahá'í Library Online. Retrieved 2008-12-04.
  15. "The Great Safari of Hand of the Cause Ruhiyyih Khanum; Barbados". Bahá'í News. No. 483. June 1971. pp. 17–18.
  16. "NSA of United States Reports Status of Goals in Atlantic and Caribbean Areas; Present Status of Goals". Bahá'í News. No. 407. February 1965. p. 1.
  17. "New Goals Won in the Caribbean Area". Bahá'í News. No. 412. July 1965. p. 9.
  18. "A Major Event". Bahá'í News. No. 427. October 1966. p. 10.
  19. 1 2 Universal House of Justice (1986). In Memoriam. The Bahá'í World. XVIII. Bahá'í World Centre. p. 514. ISBN   0-85398-234-1.
  20. "International > Regions > Caribbean > Barbados > Religious Adherents". thearda.com. thearda.com. 2001. Archived from the original on 8 January 2009. Retrieved 4 December 2008.
  21. 1 2 "Most Baha'i Nations (2005)". thearda.com. thearda.com. 2001. Retrieved 2008-12-04.
  22. "Welcome to the Barbados Baha'i Website". National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Barbados. Archived from the original on 14 September 2010. Retrieved 24 August 2010.
  23. "Redatam". Census. Barbados Statistical Service. 2010. Archived from the original on 4 October 2010. Retrieved 24 August 2010.
  24. "Redatam". Census. Barbados Statistical Service. 2010. Archived from the original on 4 October 2010. Retrieved April 23, 2017.
  25. "Most Baha'i Nations (2005)". The Association for Religion Data Archives. Retrieved 21 November 2015.
  26. "Belize: Religious Adherents (2010)". The Association for Religion Data Archives. Retrieved 21 November 2015.
  27. "2010 Census of Belize Overview". 2011. Retrieved April 23, 2017.
  28. "2010 Census of Belize Detailed Demographics of 2000 and 2010". 2011. Retrieved April 23, 2017.
  29. 1 2 "La Comunidad Bahá'í en Costa Rica". Official website of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Costa Rica. Comunidad de Bahá'í de Costa Rica. Retrieved 10 May 2009.
  30. 1 2 3 4 5 "Most Baha'i Nations (2005)". QuickLists > Compare Nations > Religions >. The Association of Religion Data Archives. 2005. Retrieved 16 September 2012.
  31. Effendi, Shoghi (1947). Messages to America. Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Bahá'í Publishing Committee. p. 25. OCLC   5806374.
  32. Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (14 September 2007). "International Religious Freedom Report – Dominica". United States State Department. Archived from the original on 5 February 2009. Retrieved 3 December 2008.
  33. 1 2 Locke, Hugh C. (1983). Bahá'í World, Vol. XVIII: 1979–1983. pp. 500–501, 629.
  34. "Annual Report Inter-America Committee". Bahá'í News. No. 109. July 1937. pp. 3–5.
  35. "InterAmerica Teaching". Bahá'í News. No. 139. October 1940. p. 4.
  36. "Supplement to Annual Report of the National Spiritual Assembly 1941–42". Bahá'í News. No. 154. July 1942. pp. 11–12.
  37. "Central America, Mexico and the Antilles". Bahá'í News. No. 247. September 1951. pp. 9–10.
  38. 1 2 "National Spiritual Assemblies Statistics" . Retrieved 27 November 2008.
  39. "Teaching Conference Held in Honduras". Bahá'í News. No. 411. June 1965. p. 1.
  40. Bridge, Abena (5 July 2000). "Divine rites – Uncovering the faiths". Jamaican Gleaner News. Archived from the original on 13 September 2012.
  41. Bahá'í International Community (25 July 2003). "Joyous festivities in Jamaica". Bahá'í World News Service.
  42. Bahá'í International Community (11 August 2006). "Jamaicans celebrate 4th National Baha'i Day". Bahá'í World News Service.
  43. Yang, Jiling; Under the direction of Ian Fletcher (December 2005). "In Search of Martha Root: An American Bahá'í Feminist and Peace Advocate in the early Twentieth Century" (PDF). Electronic Version Approved. Office of Graduate Studies, College of Arts and Sciences, Georgia State University. Archived from the original (pdf) on 15 November 2009. Retrieved 30 June 2008.
  44. "Comunidad Bahá'í de Panamá". Official website of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Panama. Comunidad Nacional Bahá'í de Panamá. Retrieved 30 June 2008.
  45. House of Justice, Universal; compiled by W. Marks, Geoffry (1996). Messaged from the Universal House of Justice: 1963–1986: The Third Epoch of the Formative Age. Wilmette, Illinois 60091: Bahá'í Publishing Trust. p. 212. ISBN   0-87743-239-2.
  46. maintained by Tooraj, Enayat. "Bahá'í Stamps". Bahá'í Philately. Bahá'í Library Online. Retrieved 30 June 2008.
  47. maintained by Tooraj, Enayat. "Bahá'í Stamps". Bahá'í Philately. Bahá'í Library Online. Retrieved 30 June 2008.
  48. International Community, Bahá'í (October–December 1994). "In Panama, some Guaymis blaze a new path". One Country. 1994 (October–December).
  49. "Panama". WCC > Member churches > Regions > Latin America > Panama. World Council of Churches. 1 January 2006. Archived from the original on 8 July 2008. Retrieved 1 July 2008.
  50. "Panama". National Profiles > > Regions > Central America >. Association of Religion Data Archives. 2010. Retrieved 2012-09-21.
  51. "The Guardian's Message to the Forty-Eighth Annual Baha'i Convention". Bahá'í News. No. 303. May 1956. pp. 1–2.
  52. "First Local Spiritual Assembly…". Bahá'í News. No. 321. November 1957. p. 8.
  53. "A Year of Progress in Trinidad". Bahá'í News. No. 480. March 1971. pp. 8–9.
  54. "Outstanding Achievements, Goals". Bahá'í News. No. 484. July 1971. p. 3.
  55. "International > Regions > Caribbean > Trinidad and Tobago > Religious Adherents". thearda.com. thearda.com. 2010. Retrieved 2013-06-13.
  56. "The History of the Bahá'í Faith in Trinidad and Tobago". The National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahai´s of Trinidad and Tobago. 2010. Retrieved June 8, 2013.

Related Research Articles

Nineteen Day Feasts are regular community gatherings, occurring on the first day of each month of the Bahá'í calendar. Each gathering consists of a Devotional, Administrative, and Social part. The devotional part of the Nineteen Day Feast can be compared to Sunday Services in Christianity, Friday Prayers in Islam, or Sautrday Prayers in Judaism, though the non-congregational nature of the Bahá'í Faith and that the Faith has no clergy limits the usefulness of the comparison.

Spiritual Assembly is a term given by `Abdu'l-Bahá to refer to elected councils that govern the Bahá'í Faith. Because the Bahá'í Faith has no clergy, they carry out the affairs of the community. In addition to existing at the local level, there are national Spiritual Assemblies.

A pioneer is a volunteer Bahá'í who leaves his or her home to journey to another place for the purpose of teaching the Bahá'í Faith. The act of so moving is termed pioneering. Bahá'ís refrain from using the term "missionary". The first pioneer to enter a country or region mentioned in `Abdu'l-Bahá's Tablets of the Divine Plan is given the title of Knight of Bahá'u'lláh.

The Bahá'í Faith in the United Kingdom started in 1898 when Mrs. Mary Thornburgh-Cropper, an American by birth, become the first Bahá'í in England. Through the 1930s, the number of Bahá'ís in the United Kingdom grew, leading to a pioneer movement beginning after the Second World War with sixty percent of the British Bahá'í community eventually relocating. At the 2011 UK Census, there were 5,021 Bahá'ís in England and Wales.

The Bahá'í Faith in Chile begins with references to Chile in Bahá'í literature as early as 1916, with the first Bahá'ís visiting as early as 1919. A functioning community was not founded in Chile until 1940 with the beginning of the arrival of coordinated pioneers from the United States finding national Chilean converts and achieved an independent national community in 1963. In 2002 this community was picked for the establishment of the first Bahá'í Temple of South America which the community is still prosecuting. The US government estimated 6000 Bahá'ís in Chile as of 2007 though the Association of Religion Data Archives estimated some 26000 Bahá'ís in 2005.

Baháí Faith in Panama

The history of the Bahá'í Faith in Panama begins with a mention by `Abdu'l-Bahá, then head of the Bahá'í Faith, in the book Tablets of the Divine Plan, published in 1919; the same year, Martha Root made a trip around South America and included Panama on the return leg of the trip up the west coast. The first pioneers began to settle in Panama in 1940. The first Bahá'í Local Spiritual Assembly of Panama, in Panama City, was elected in 1946, and the National Spiritual Assembly was first elected in 1961. The Bahá'ís of Panama raised a Bahá'í House of Worship in 1972. In 1983 and again in 1992, some commemorative stamps were produced in Panama while the community turned its interests to the San Miguelito and Chiriquí regions of Panama with schools and a radio station. The Association of Religion Data Archives estimated there were some 41,000 Bahá'ís in 2005 while another sources places it closer to 60,000.

The Bahá'í Faith in Bosnia and Herzegovina begins with mention by `Abdu'l-Bahá, then head of the religion, of Austria-Hungary which Bosnia and Herzegovina were part of at the time. Between the World Wars when Bosnia and Herzegovina were part of Yugoslavia, several members of Yugoslavian royalty had contact with prominent members of the religion. During the period of Communism in Yugoslavia, the first member of the Bahá'í Faith was in 1963 and the first Bahá'í Local Spiritual Assembly was formed in 1990. With the Yugoslavian civil war and separation into Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Bahá'ís had not elected a Bahá'í National Spiritual Assembly but do have a small population in a few regions in the country.

The Bahá'í Faith in Jamaica begins with a mention by `Abdu'l-Bahá, then head of the religion, in 1916 as Latin America being among the places Bahá'ís should take the religion to. The community of the Bahá'ís begins in 1942 with the arrival of Dr. Malcolm King. The first Bahá'í Local Spiritual Assembly of Jamaica, in Kingston, was elected in 1943. By 1957 the Bahá'ís of Jamaica were organized under the regional National Spiritual Assembly of the Greater Antilles, and on the eve of national independence in 1962, the Jamaica Bahá'ís elected their own National Spiritual Assembly in 1961. By 1981 hundreds of Bahá'ís and hundreds more non-Bahá'ís turned out for weekend meetings when Rúhíyyih Khánum spent six days in Jamaica. Public recognition of the religion came in the form of the Governor General of Jamaica, Sir Howard Cooke, proclaiming a National Bahá'í Day first on July 25 in 2003 and it has been an annual event since. While there is evidence of several active communities by 2008 in Jamaica, estimates of the Bahá'ís population range from the hundreds to the thousands.

The Bahá'í Faith in Dominica begins with a mention by `Abdu'l-Bahá, then head of the religion, in 1916 as Latin America being among the places Bahá'ís should take the religion to. The island of Dominica was specifically listed as an objective for plans on spreading the religion in 1939 by Shoghi Effendi, who succeeded `Abdu'l-Baha as head of the religion. In 1983, William Nedden is credited with being the first pioneer to Dominica at the festivities associated with the inaugural election of the Dominican Bahá'ís National Spiritual Assembly with Hand of the Cause, Dhikru'llah Khadem representing the Universal House of Justice. Later research records Ivor Ellard arrived two days before, April 17, 1966. The first Bahá'í Local Spiritual Assembly of Dominica was elected in 1976. Since then, Bahá'ís have participated in several projects for the benefit of the wider community, and in 2001 various sources report between less than 1.4% and up to 1.7% of the island's approximately 70,000 citizens are Bahá'ís.

The Bahá'í Faith in Rwanda begins after 1916 with a mention by `Abdu'l-Bahá, then head of the religion, that Bahá'ís should take the religion to the regions of Africa. The first specific mention of Rwanda was in May 1953 suggesting the expanding community of the Bahá'í Faith in Uganda look at sending pioneers to neighboring areas like Ruanda. The first settlers of the religion arrived in the region by July 1953 when Bahá'ís from the United States and Malawi arrived. By 1963 there were three Bahá'í Local Spiritual Assemblies in Burundi-Ruanda. Through succeeding organizations of the countries in the region, the National Spiritual Assembly of Rwanda was formed in 1972. Bahá'ís, perhaps in the thousands, were among those who perished in the Rwandan Genocide Following the disruption of the Rwandan Civil War the national assembly was reformed in 1997. The Bahá'ís of Rwanda have continued to strive for inter-racial harmony, a teaching which Denyse Umutoni, an assistant director of Shake Hands with the Devil, mentions as among the reasons for her conversion to the religion. 2001 estimates place the Bahá'í population around 15000 while 2005 estimates from the same source shows just over 18900.

The Bahá'í Faith is a diverse and widespread religion founded by Bahá'u'lláh in the 19th century in Iran. Bahá'í sources usually estimate the worldwide Bahá'í population to be above 5 million. Most encyclopedias and similar sources estimate between 5 and 6 million Bahá'ís in the world in the early 21st century.

The Bahá'í Faith in Uruguay began after `Abdu'l-Bahá, then head of the religion, mentioned the country in 1916. The first Bahá'í to enter the country was Martha Root in 1919. The first pioneer to settle there was Wilfrid Barton early in 1940 and the first Bahá'í Local Spiritual Assembly of Montevideo was elected in 1942. By 1961 Uruguayan Bahá'ís had elected the first National Spiritual Assembly and by 1963 there were three Local Assemblies plus other communities. By 2001 there was an estimated 4,000 Bahá'ís in Uruguay.

The Bahá'í Faith in Angola begins after `Abdu'l-Bahá wrote letters encouraging taking the religion to Africa in 1916. The first Bahá'í pioneered to Angola about 1952. By 1963 there was a Bahá'í Local Spiritual Assembly in Luanda and smaller groups of Bahá'ís in other cities. In 1992 the Bahá'ís of Angola elected their first National Spiritual Assembly. The Association of Religion Data Archives estimated some 2,000 Bahá'ís in 2005.

The Bahá'í Faith in Guyana was first mentioned in Bahá'í sources as early as 1916, the first Bahá'ís visited as early as 1927 but the community was founded in Guyana in 1953 with the beginning of the arrival of coordinated pioneers and from Guyanese converts. The community elected the first Bahá'í Local Spiritual Assembly in 1955 and an independent National Spiritual Assembly in 1977. The country has experienced large migrations and the size of the Bahá'í community has also dramatically changed. In the most recent cycle the 2002 national census showed about 0.1%, or 500, Bahá'ís mostly in three of its Regions though Bahá'ís were noted in every Region. However, by 2005 the Association of Religion Data Archives estimated there were some 13,000 Bahá'ís. Bahá'ís are now widely distributed across Guyana and are represented in all major racial groups and regions. The Bahá'í community, while relatively small, is well known for its emphasis on unity, non-involvement in politics and its work in issues such as literacy and youth issues.

The Bahá'í Faith in Portugal comes after the first mention of Portugal in Bahá'í literature when `Abdu'l-Bahá mentioned it as a place to take the religion to in 1916. The first Bahá'í visitor to Portugal was in 1926. Its first Bahá'í Local Spiritual Assembly was elected in Lisbon in 1946. In 1962 the Portuguese Bahá'ís elected their first National Spiritual Assembly. In 1963 there were nine assemblies. According to recent counts there are close to some 2000 members of the Bahá'í Faith in 2005 according to the Association of Religion Data Archives.

The Bahá'í Faith in Barbados begins with a mention by `Abdu'l-Bahá, then head of the religion, in 1916 as the Caribbean was among the places Bahá'ís should take the religion to. The first Bahá'í to visit came in 1927 while pioneers arrived by 1964 and the first Bahá'í Local Spiritual Assembly was elected in 1965. Hand of the Cause `Alí-Muhammad Varqá attended the inaugural election of the Barbados Bahá'ís National Spiritual Assembly in 1981. Since then Bahá'ís have participated in several projects for the benefit of the wider community and in 2001 various sources report up to 1.2% of the island, about 3,500 citizens are Bahá'ís though the government census only found 178 members.

The Bahá'í Faith in Peru begins with references to Peru in Bahá'í literature as early as 1916, with the first Bahá'ís visiting as early as 1919. A functioning community wasn't founded in Peru until the 1930s with the beginning of the arrival of coordinated pioneers from the United States which progressed into finding national Peruvian converts and achieved an independent national community in 1961. The Association of Religion Data Archives estimated some 41,900 Bahá'ís in 2005.

The Bahá'í Faith is a minority religion in all Oceania countries.It forms majority in the Nanumea Island of Tuvalu.

The Bahá'í Faith in Burundi begins after 1916 with a mention by `Abdu'l-Bahá, then head of the religion, that Bahá'ís should take the religion to the regions of Africa. The first specific mention of Burundi (Urundi) was in May 1953 suggesting the expanding community of the Bahá'í Faith in Uganda look at sending pioneers to neighboring areas like Burundi(Urundi) as part of a specific plan of action. The first settlers of the religion arrived in the region by June. By 1963 there were three Bahá'í Local Spiritual Assemblies in Burundi-Ruanda. Through succeeding organizations of the countries in the region, the National Spiritual Assembly of Burundi was first formed in 1969 but was successively dissolved and reformed a number of times - most recently reforming in 2011. Even though the religion was banned for a time, and the country torn by wars, the religion grew so that in 2005 the Association of Religion Data Archives estimated just about 6,800 Bahá'ís in Burundi.

The Bahá'í Faith in Trinidad and Tobago begins with a mention by `Abdu'l-Bahá, then head of the religion, in 1916 as the Caribbean was among the places Bahá'ís should take the religion to. The first Bahá'í to visit came in 1927 while pioneers arrived by 1956 and the first Bahá'í Local Spiritual Assembly was elected in 1957 In 1971 the first Bahá'í National Spiritual Assembly was elected. A count of the community then noted 27 assemblies with Bahá'ís living in 77 locations. Since then Bahá'ís have participated in several projects for the benefit of the wider community and between 2005 and 2010 various sources report near 1.2% of the country, about 10,000–16,000 citizens, are Bahá'ís.

References