The History of the BáBí and Bahá'í Faiths

Authored by: Peter Smith

The World of the Bahá'í Faith

Print publication date:  December  2021
Online publication date:  December  2021

Print ISBN: 9781138367722
eBook ISBN: 9780429027772
Adobe ISBN:


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Bábí-Bahá’í history can be seen as a complex whole, in which a messianic sect of Shi‘i Islam eventually morphed into a widely spread global religious movement. This history can be summarized in terms of three main stages, each with its particular ‘world’ of expansion: 1) an initial ‘Islamic’ stage from the Báb’s declaration in 1844 up until about the time of the passing of the Bahá’í prophet-founder Bahá’u’lláh in 1892, in which Babism and the early Bahá’í movement were largely confined to the environing culture and society of the Islamic Middle East and its cultural extensions; 2) an ‘international’ stage from the accession of Bahá’u’lláh’s eldest son, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, to leadership of the Bahá’í Cause in 1892 up until about 1953, during which Bahá’í missionary expansion succeeded in transcending the religion’s Islamic roots, in particular by gaining a small but intensely active Western following; and 3) the present ‘global’ stage from about 1953 onwards, in which the Bahá’í Faith has begun to assume the characteristics of a small-scale world religion, and larger numbers of adherents have been gained, particularly in some parts of Africa, Asia, and Latin America—regions of the Global South that we might describe as a Bahá’í ‘Third World’—that are outside of both the religion’s original Islamic heartland and the West.

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