The Bahá’í Community of the British Isles, 1844–1963

The British Bahá’í community has been in existence since 1899 and its elected national leadership council, the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United Kingdom, was first elected in 1923. Although a number of monographs, articles and biographies have appeared over the years, no overall survey of the community’s history has yet been published. The Bahá’í Community of the British Isles, 1844–1963 is an attempt to fill some of the gap.

The book begins with the earliest news about the new religion which reached the British government through diplomatic and consular channels and the British public through newspaper articles as early as 1845. During the late 19th century, there was a rising tide of awareness of the Bábí and Bahá’í religions in Britain.

Although one or two Bahá’ís were in Britain from 1885 onwards, a British Bahá’í community did not form until two...Show More

The British Bahá’í community has been in existence since 1899 and its elected national leadership council, the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United Kingdom, was first elected in 1923. Although a number of monographs, articles and biographies have appeared over the years, no overall survey of the community’s history has yet been published. The Bahá’í Community of the British Isles, 1844–1963 is an attempt to fill some of the gap.

The book begins with the earliest news about the new religion which reached the British government through diplomatic and consular channels and the British public through newspaper articles as early as 1845. During the late 19th century, there was a rising tide of awareness of the Bábí and Bahá’í religions in Britain.

Although one or two Bahá’ís were in Britain from 1885 onwards, a British Bahá’í community did not form until two residents of London joined in 1888–9 the first party of western Bahá’ís to visit ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the son of Bahá’u’lláh, in the Holy Land. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá made two visits to Britain and received widespread newspaper coverage. Prompted by British Bahá’ís, the British government made efforts to save ‘Abdu’l-Bahá during World War I and recognized the value of his work in the Holy Land, knighting him after the war.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá chose Britain for the further education of his grandson, Shoghi Effendi, who was his successor. Britain was among the first three countries to form in 1923 a National Spiritual Assembly. In 1957 Shoghi Effendi passed away in London and is buried there. The British Bahá’í community was chosen to host the first Bahá’í World Congress, held in London in 1963, commemorating the hundredth anniversary of the announcement by Bahá’u’lláh, the founder of the Bahá’í Faith, of His mission. During this Congress, some of the earliest meetings of the Universal House of Justice took place in London, which are the only occasions on which the Universal House of Justice has met outside the Holy Land.

In the years between the early accounts of the Bahá’í religion and the events of 1963 there developed a small but vibrant community across England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. This book tells the fascinating, and little known, story of the lives of many of these early followers, how they came to hear of the religion, their efforts to spread it to others, the struggles they faced, the goals they strove to achieve, their efforts in Africa and around the world to share their religion with others, their steadfastness and their victories. Their successes were greatly praised by Shoghi Effendi.

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  • Contributors:
    Adam Thorne  | 
    Moojan Momen  | 
    Janet Fleming Rose  | 
    Earl Redman 
  • Format: Hardcover book | 700 pages
  • Dimensions: 165 x 240 x 35 mm | 1240 g
  • Publisher: George Ronald, 2023
  • Language: English
  • SKU: BKS-HIS-H.0539

About Moojan Momen

Moojan Momen was born in Iran but was raised and educated in England, attending the University of Cambridge. He has a special interest in the study of Shi'i Islam and the Bahá'í Faith, both from the viewpoint of their history and their doctrines. In recent years, his interests have extended to the study of the phenomenon of religion.

He has contributed articles to encyclopaedias such as Encyclopaedia Iranica and The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World as well as papers to academic journals such as International Journal of Middle East Studies, Past and Present, Religion, Baha'i Studies Review, and Iranian Studies. He is a Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society.

Titles by Moojan Momen

About Earl Redman

Earl Redman is a geologist who worked in Alaska and Chile for two decades. One job was for the US Bureau of Mines, studying mineral deposits in the Juneau Gold Belt, Alaska. In 1999 he moved with his wife Sharon to Ireland, where he has researched and written five books, exploring the gold mines of the stories included in ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Their Midst, the two volumes of Shoghi Effendi Through the Pilgrim’s Eye, a book on the Knights of Bahá’u’lláh, and this volume on pilgrims who visited ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in the Holy Land before His Western journeys. A second volume tells the story of pilgrims to the Holy Land after ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s return in 1913. 

Earl and Sharon have travelled widely and for long periods in recent years and are much in demand as speakers and storytellers.

Titles by Earl Redman

The Bahá’í Faith in the United Kingdom

Bahá’í History: Overviews

1844-1853: Ministry of The Báb

1853-1892: Ministry of Bahá’u’lláh

1892-1921: Ministry of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

1921-1957: Ministry of the Guardian

1957 onwards