Bahá'í Faith in England

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The Bahá'í Faith in England started with the earliest mentions of the predecessor of the Bahá'í Faith, the Báb, in The Times on 1 November 1845, only a little over a year after the Báb first stated his mission.[1] Today there are Bahá'í communities across the country from Carlisle[2] to Cornwall.[3]

History[edit]

The first person in England to become a Bahá'í, in 1898, was Mrs. Mary Thornburgh-Cropper (d. 1938), who lived in London though she was an American by birth. The first native person in the country to become a Bahá'í was Miss Ethel Rosenberg (d. 1930), who did so in 1899. An early, important figure was Thomas Breakwell, posthumously described by Shoghi Effendi, the head of the Bahá'í Faith in the first half of the 20th century, as one of "three luminaries of the Irish, English and Scottish Bahá'í communities".[4] He was born in Woking and heard of the Baha'i Faith at the age of 29 during the summer of 1901 while on vacation in Paris from the United States where he was then working.[5] After a pilgrimage to Acre, he remained in Paris at the request of `Abdu'l-Bahá, quitting his job in the cotton mills of the American South out of a sense of sin where child labour was still the norm.[6] Breakwell died in 1902 of tuberculosis. Heartbroken at his passing `Abdu'l-Bahá wrote a moving and inspiring tablet.[7]

On a visit to Constantinople prior to the Young Turk Revolution in 1908 Wellesley Tudor Pole heard of `Abdu'l-Bahá[8] and met and interviewed him over nine days in late November 1910 in Cairo and Alexandria.[9] For the next several decades he was active in the Bahá'í Faith.

Other mentions of the Bahá'í Faith included the Archdeacon Wilberforce mentioning the religion in a sermon at the Church of St. John in Westminster in March 1911. Due to this mention, great interest was generated, and a Bahá'í reading room was opened. When `Abdu'l-Bahá traveled to the West, Tudor Pole spoke the English translation of his first talk on the evening of 10 September 1911.[10][11]

In 1914, the Bahá'ís present in England had organised themselves into a committee, though it lapsed after February 1916. During World War I Tudor Pole served in the Directorate of Military Intelligence in the Middle East and was directly involved in addressing the concerns raised by the Ottoman threats against `Abdu'l-Bahá, which ultimately required General Allenby altering his plans for the prosecution of the war in the Palestine theatre.[11] In 1921, while Tudor Pole was Secretary of the Local Spiritual Assembly in London,[12] the telegram announcing the passing of `Abdu'l-Bahá by his sister, Bahíyyih Khánum, arrived at Tudor Pole's home in London, and it was there read by Shoghi Effendi.[13] A Bahá'í Spiritual Assembly for England (also called All-England Bahá'í Council) was set up in May 1922 and held its first meeting in London on 17 June 1922, with the first Local Spiritual Assemblies being formed in London, Manchester and Bournemouth. Local Assemblies were founded in Bradford and Torquay in 1939.

Also in the 1930s a whole host of activities began - a Bahá'í theatre group was formed in London, the Bahá'í Journal was instituted, Bahá'í summer schools began, and the tradition of a winter Bahá'í conference was established. Local Spiritual Assemblies were formed in Bradford and Torquay in 1939, while the National Assembly achieved legal standing with its incorporation. John Ferraby became a Bahá'í in 1941 (later named as a Hand of the Cause in 1957).

Monument over Shoghi Effendi's resting place

On 4 November 1957, Shoghi Effendi, then head of the Bahá'í Faith, died in London, and thus the city has become a centre to which Bahá'ís from all over the world come. His mortal remains lie in the New Southgate Cemetery in London. Directions to his resting place are posted online.

In 1963, the first Bahá'í World Congress was held in the Royal Albert Hall in London, and approximately 6,000 Bahá'ís from around the world gathered.[14] It was called to commemorate the hundredth anniversary of the declaration of Bahá'u'lláh, and announce and present the election of the first members of the Universal House of Justice with the participation of over 50 National Spiritual Assemblies' members.

In 1978 the Bahá’í Holy Days were recognised by local education authorities throughout the country.

National organisation[edit]

A National Spiritual Assembly of England came into being on 13 October 1923. However, this body became the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the British Isles in 1930, being registered as a charity under this name in 1967. In 1972, this single National Spiritual Assembly was reformed into two — one of the United Kingdom, and one of the Republic of Ireland. There are no plans, at present, to form separate National Spiritual Assemblies for England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

List of Bahá'í Faith people in England[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Bahá'í Information Office (United Kingdom) (1989). "First Public Mentions of the Bahá'í Faith". Archived from the original on 26 February 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-18. 
  2. ^ The Bahá'í Faith in Cumbria bci.org accessed 6 January 2009
  3. ^ Welcome to the Bahá'ís of Cornwall website of Cornish Bahais, accessed. 6 January 2009
  4. ^ Effendi, Shoghi (1971). Messages to the Bahá'í World, 1950-1957. Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Bahá'í Publishing Trust. p. 174. ISBN 0-87743-036-5. 
  5. ^ Lakshman-Lepai, Rajwantee (1998). The life of Thomas Breakwell. Baha'i Publishing Trust. ISBN 978-1-870989-85-5. 
  6. ^ Office of the Treasurer (February 2002). "True Wealth: A Story of Material Sacrifice". Fertile Field. Archived from the original on 2008-02-28. Retrieved 2008-02-18. 
  7. ^ Weinberg, Rob (July–August 1997). "Who was Thomas Breakwell?". Bahá'í Journal (United Kingdom). Archived from the original on 26 February 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-18. 
  8. ^ Tudor Pole, Wellesley (1911). "A Wonderful movement in the East, A visit to Abdul-Baha at Alexandria". Star of the West 01 (18). 
  9. ^ Graham Hassall (2006-10-01). "Egypt: Baha'i history". Retrieved 2006-10-01. 
  10. ^ `Abdu'l-Bahá (2006-10-01). "`Abdu'l-Bahá in London". National Spiritual Assembly of Britain. Retrieved 2006-10-01. 
  11. ^ a b Lady Blomfield (2006-10-01). "The Chosen Highway". Baha'i Publishing Trust Wilmette, Illinois. Retrieved 2006-10-01. 
  12. ^ Khanum, Rúhíyyih (1958-08-28). "Talks / presentations by Bahá'í notables". In Merrick, David. Rúhíyyih Khanum's Tribute to Shoghi Effendi at the Kampala Conference Jan 1958. Bahá'í Library Online. Retrieved 2008-11-08. 
  13. ^ Khanum, Rúhíyyih (1988). The Guardian of the Baha'i Faith. 27 Rutland Gate, London: Bahá'í Publishing Trust. p. 13. ISBN 0-900125-59-4. 
  14. ^ Francis, N. Richard. "Excerpts from the lives of early and contemporary believers on teaching the Bahá'í Faith: Enoch Olinga, Hand of the Cause of God, Father of Victories". Archived from the original on 28 February 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-18. 
  15. ^ Kadivar, Darius (2008-03-12). "In The Arena With Omid Djalili". Payvand's Iran News. Archived from the original on 14 February 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-19. 
  16. ^ Papers look to Hutton Part II bbc.co.uk, 6 September 2003
  17. ^ "Comedian wins major award". London, United Kingdom: Bahá'í World News Service. 2004-03-25. Retrieved 2008-02-19. 

External links[edit]