Authored by: Seena Fazel

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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This chapter outlines the early interest in the Bábí-Bahá’í religions in Europe, and its early beginnings in Paris, London, and Stuttgart. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s two trips to western and central Europe during 1911–1913 provided a major impetus to these early communities and generated considerable media interest. Over the next few decades, detailed information on Bahá’í communities is provided in official Bahá’í yearbooks and related publications, which show that the number of local and national groups steadily grew throughout western Europe. A major increase in the number of countries opened to the Bahá’í Faith occurred during 1953 to 1963 as part of an international plan, and large numbers of individuals converted in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Local Spiritual Assembly numbers, which provide a consistent and reliable metric to examine Bahá’í growth, increased from the 1940s until the late 1990s, but have declined since then. Despite this, many individual Bahá’í countries have continued to grow numerically, partly due to immigration, particularly from Iran. In addition, a closer look at Bahá’í statistics demonstrate the relative strength of some island nations, including Iceland. New communities formed in central and eastern Europe from the 1990s, which remain thinly spread. Notable European Bahá’ís have come from a wide variety of backgrounds, including the arts, sciences, and sport. Two themes stand out in terms of the wider European Bahá’í contribution to the international Bahá’í community: Bahá’í literature and scholarship, and public relations work, particularly in relation to the persecution of Iran’s Bahá’ís.

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