Bahá'í Faith in Georgia (country)

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The Bahá'í Faith in Georgia began with its arrival in the region in 1850 through its association with the precursor religion the Bábí Faith during the lifetime of Bahá'u'lláh.[1] During the period of Soviet policy of religious oppression, the institutions of the Bahá'ís in the Soviet Republics were progressively dissolved[2] and so disappeared from communication with Bahá'ís elsewhere.[3] However in 1963 an individual was identified[4] in Tbilisi.[5] Following Perestroika the first Bahá'í Local Spiritual Assembly of Georgia formed in 1991[6] and Georgian Bahá'ís elected their first National Spiritual Assembly in 1995.[7] The religion is noted as growing in Georgia.[1] The Association of Religion Data Archives (relying on World Christian Encyclopedia) estimated some 1,590 Bahá'ís in 2005.[8]

Early period[edit]

From 1850 onwards, small groups of Bábís spread across the Caucasus including Georgia.[1] Jamshíd-i-Gurjí is a noted member of the religion from Georgia who lived in the lifetime of Bahá'u'lláh.[9] He was arrested in Constantinople[10] and subsequently rather than being banished with Bahá'u'lláh's party to Akka or others to Cyprus, he was deported to Persia though in transit he was released by the Khurds.[10]

By the time the effects of the October Revolution began to spread across the Russian Empire transforming it into the Soviet Union, Bahá'ís had spread through much of Soviet territory.[11] And initially the religion still grew in organization when the election of the regional National Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the Caucasus and Turkistan took place in 1925.[12] However, with the Soviet policy of religious oppression, the Bahá'ís, strictly adhering to their principle of obedience to legal government, abandoned its administration and any properties were nationalized. As the institutions of the Bahá'ís in the Soviet Republics were progressively dissolved[2] and so disappeared from communication with Bahá'ís elsewhere.[3] It is known that many were imprisoned and died, some were deported to Siberia, though most were deported to Iran.[13] In 1953 Bahá'ís started to move to the Soviet Republics in Asia, after the head of the religion at the time, Shoghi Effendi, initiated a plan called the Ten Year Crusade. At the culmination of this plan, in 1963, various centers were restored in the region including Georgia,[4][14] where there was an individual Bahá'í identified in Tbilisi.[6]

Modern community[edit]

It was not until the onset of Perestroika that the Bahá'ís began to meet and organize again. The first Local Spiritual Assembly of Georgia to form was in 1991 in Tbilisi.[6] After being part of the regional national assembly with Russia since 1992, Georgian Bahá'ís elected their first National Spiritual Assembly in 1995[7] with Hand of the Cause, Rúhíyyih Khanum representing the Universal House of Justice.[15] In 2004 members of the Bahá'í community in Georgia opened the first Degree Confluence point in Georgia.[16] Addressing circumstances in Georgia, Bahá'ís have observed that publishing their materials is "not very easy", and "Some companies are not happy to print our material – they have only limited understanding. Plus they are afraid that if the government finds out they might have problems."[17] There is a project to revise school curricula to represent the diverse religions in Georgia on a more neutral basis than done in recent years. Not all schools introduced revised religious education classes - "about half the schools in Tbilisi have these classes".[17] The Bahá'í Faith is among the religions with a small following who function unobtrusively and have mainly tended to be able to operate without much hostile government attention.[18]

Some 47 Georgian Bahá'ís traveled to Baku to be among the 360 participants in a regional conference of the religion in 2009.[19]

Demographics[edit]

The religion is noted as growing in Georgia.[1] The Association of Religion Data Archives (relying on World Christian Encyclopedia) estimated some 1,588 Bahá'ís in 2005.[8]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Balci, Bayram; Jafarov, Azer (2007-02-20), "Who are the Baha’is of the Caucasus? {Part 1 of 3}", Caucaz.com 
  2. ^ a b "Survey of Current Baha'i Activities in the East and West: Persecution and Deportation of the Baha'is of Caucasus and Turkistan". The Baha'i World (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Committee) VIII (1938-40): 87–90. 1942. 
  3. ^ a b Effendi, Shoghi (1936-03-11). The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh. Haifa, Palestine: US Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1991 first pocket-size edition. pp. 64–67. 
  4. ^ a b Monakhova, Elena (2000). "From Islam to Feminism via Baha'i Faith". Women Plus… 2000 (03). 
  5. ^ Compiled by Hands of the Cause Residing in the Holy Land. "The Bahá'í Faith: 1844-1963: Information Statistical and Comparative, Including the Achievements of the Ten Year International Bahá'í Teaching & Consolidation Plan 1953-1963". p. 84. 
  6. ^ a b c Ahmadi, Dr. (2003). "Major events of the Century of Light". homepage for an online course on the book “Century of Light”. Association for Bahá’í Studies in Southern Africa. Retrieved 2009-05-05. 
  7. ^ a b Hassall, Graham. "Notes on Research on National Spiritual Assemblies". Research notes. Asia Pacific Bahá'í Studies. Retrieved 2009-05-05. 
  8. ^ a b "Most Baha'i Nations (2005)". QuickLists > Compare Nations > Religions >. The Association of Religion Data Archives. 2005. Retrieved 2009-07-04. 
  9. ^ `Abdu'l-Bahá (1997) [1971]. Memorials of the Faithful (Softcover ed.). Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Bahá'í Publishing Trust. pp. 120–122. ISBN 0-87743-242-2. 
  10. ^ a b Taherzadeh, A. (1977). The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, Volume 2: Adrianople 1863-68. Oxford, UK: George Ronald. pp. 328–9, 409. ISBN 0-85398-071-3. 
  11. ^ "Baha'i Faith History in Azerbaijan". National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Azerbaijan. Retrieved 2008-12-22. 
  12. ^ Hassall, Graham (1993). "Notes on the Babi and Baha'i Religions in Russia and its territories". The Journal of Bahá'í Studies 05 (03). Retrieved 2008-06-01. 
  13. ^ "Sufferings of the Believers in Turkistan and Caucasus". Bahá'í News (130): 2. October 1939. 
  14. ^ Momen, Moojan. "Russia". Draft for "A Short Encyclopedia of the Bahá'í Faith". Bahá'í Library Online. Retrieved 2008-05-10. 
  15. ^ Universal House of Justice (1995). "Ridván 1995". Ridván Messages. Bahá'í Library Online. Retrieved 2009-05-05. 
  16. ^ Gornall, Leslie (2004-07-28). "42°N 44°E". Degree Confluence Project. Degree Confluence Project. Retrieved 2012-10-18. 
  17. ^ a b Corley, Felix (2004-08-23). "GEORGIA: Religious freedom survey, August 2004". F18News. 
  18. ^ Corley, Felix (2008-09-24). "AZERBAIJAN: Religious freedom survey, September 2008". F18News. 
  19. ^ Bahá'í International Community (2009-02-22). "The Baku Regional Conference". Bahá'í World News Service. 

External links[edit]