History 6 - The Bahá’í Faith Spreads around the World

‘Abdu’l-Bahá by the Eiffel Tower

History 6 - The Bahá’í Faith Spreads around the World

Before the start of the 20th century almost all of the Bahá’í historical events took place in the Middle East, against a backdrop of constant persecution. From the decade of 1890-1900 onwards, the scene expanded to the United States and the countries of Europe as the Faith drew believers from these continents, particularly after the extensive travels of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to the west, from 1911-1913. By the 1950s, teaching work was sufficiently organised, under the inspiration of Shoghi Effendi, for there to be a surge of ‘pioneers’, who spread the Faith to over 200 new territories in Africa, the Pacific and Asia. The growth of the Faith is now coordinated through global ‘plans’ under the guidance of the Universal House of Justice.

The first introductory book on the Faith, Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era, was written in English by Dr J.E. Esslemont and published in 1923. In which year was the first Chinese translation of this book published?
This book is widely regarded as one of the best introductions to the Bahá’í Faith, and is still available in English and other languages.
His Highness Malietoa Tanumafili II was the first reigning monarch to confirm his acceptance of the Bahá'í Faith in 1968. Of which Pacific island nation was he king?
Western Samoa
A Bahá’í House of Worship was later built in Western Samoa (now Samoa) and opened its doors in September 1984.
In 1977 the Bahá’í community started its first radio station to connect the many Bahá’ís living in rural areas. With its emphasis on local culture (it broadcast local news and played local music and often used the local language) it became popular with the wider community. It became a powerful tool for local development. In which country was it?
The first Bahá’í radio station started broadcasting in Otavalo, Ecuador on 12 October 1977 in Spanish and Quechua. Radio stations in the other places mentioned followed later. Nowadays internet radio is also available.
The largest gathering of Bahá’ís at a World Congress was in New York on 23 November 1992. How many Bahá’ís were present at this event?
This world congress took place during a Holy Year, which commemorated the centenary of Bahá’u’lláh’s passing.
Hyde and Clara Dunn, an English-born Bahá’í couple living in California, pioneered to Australia in 1920 for purposes of teaching the Bahá'í Faith. Hyde Dunn’s occupation played a crucial part in enabling him to teach the Faith in hundreds of towns across Australia for the next two decades. What was it?
He ran a mobile library company
He was a sheep shearer
He was a travelling salesman for the Nestlé Milk Company
He was a ringmaster in a travelling circus
Hyde and Clara Dun contributed to the growth of the Bahá'í Faith in Australia through the friendships they made and the regular public meetings they hosted during evenings and weekends.
Into how many languages has Bahá’í literature been translated?
The figure of 802 is actually that for 2004. Bahá’ís make this effort so that enquirers can investigate the Faith for themselves.
What was the condition of the Faith in Angola, Cambodia, Turkey and Portuguese Guinea in the 1950s and 1960s?
Bahá’í marriages were legally recognised
There was freedom to teach the Faith and schools were opened
Bahá’ís were restricted and could only meet in small groups
Bahá’ís were arrested and imprisoned, and the teaching of the Faith was forbidden
Restrictions were later eased in all these four countries. On the subject of Bahá’í marriages, Bahá’í ceremonies are now legally recognised in many parts of the world, including Scotland.
From 1953 onwards, when a Bahá’í arose to open a new country or territory for the Faith, the Guardian, Shoghi Effendi, gave them a title – what was it?
Pioneer of the Cause
Apostle of Bahá’u’lláh
Letter of the Living
Knight of Bahá’u’lláh
Many of these territories and island groups were lacking in modern amenities, and the “Knights of Bahá’u’lláh” needed courage to simply turn up in a place they knew very little about, and hope that they could find both accommodation and employment. Nonetheless, the vast majority were opened within the first eighteen months of the plan.
The first visit to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá by a group of pilgrims in December 1898 helped promote the development of the Faith in North America. Who was one of the most notable visitors?
Phoebe Hearst
Abraham Lincoln
Sarah Bernhardt
Carole Lombard
Phoebe Hearst (mother of William Randolph Hearst, an American newspaper proprietor) had already planned a trip to Egypt, she travelled from New York via Paris where she invited other Bahá’ís to join the party. There were 15 pilgrims in all.
Where in England was the first public mention made of the Faith in 1889, by Professor E.G. Browne?
He gave a lecture on the Bahá’í Faith (called ‘Babism’ in those days) at the Essay Society in March 1889.


Author:  National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United Kingdom

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