Bahá'í Faith in Ukraine

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The Bahá'í Faith in Ukraine began during the policy of oppression of religion in the former Soviet Union. Before that time, Ukraine, as part of the Russian Empire, would have had indirect contact with the Bahá'í Faith as far back as 1847.[1] Following the Ukrainian diasporas, succeeding generations of ethnic Ukrainians became Bahá'ís and some have interacted with Ukraine previous to development of the religion in the country. There are currently around 1000 Bahá'ís in Ukraine,[2] in 13 communities.[3]

History of the region[edit]

As part of the Russian Empire[edit]

The earliest relationship between the Bahá'í Faith and Ukraine comes under the sphere of the country's history within the Russian Empire. During that time, the history stretches back to 1847 when the Russian ambassador to Tehran, Prince Dimitri Ivanovich Dolgorukov, requested that the Báb, the herald to the Bahá'í Faith who was imprisoned at Maku, be moved elsewhere; he also condemned the massacres of Iranian religionists, and asked for the release of Bahá'u'lláh, the founder of the Bahá'í Faith.[1][2] In 1884 Leo Tolstoy first heard of the Bahá'í Faith and was sympathetic to some of its teachings.[4] Also, orientalist Alexander Tumansky translated some Bahá'í literature into Russian in 1899.[5] and associated with Mirza Abu'l-Fadl.[6] In the 1880s an organized community of Bahá'ís was in Ashgabat and later built the first Bahá'í House of Worship in 1913-1918. In the 1890s, the woman known as Isabella Grinevskaya settled in Odessa. In 1903 as playwright Grinevskaya published the play "Báb" based on the life an events of the founder of the Bábí religion[7] which was performed in St. Petersburg in 1904 and again in 1916/7, was translated into French and Tartar,[8] and lauded by Leo Tolstoy and other reviewers at the time.[1] In 1910 she settled in Constantinople[9] and after meeting `Abdu'l-Bahá became a member of the Bahá'í Faith.[8]

In the second half of 1938 Lidia Zamenhof had been a major influence of the conversion of the first known Ukrainian becoming a Bahá'í, who was living in eastern Poland at the time. Vasyl Dorosenko was an Esperantist and a teacher but by 1938 had retired and was living in the country near Kremenets which was then part of Poland. Dorosenko was much affected by Russian and Esperantist language versions of Bahá'u'lláh and the New Era by John Esslemont. He did early work in translating it to the Ukrainian language. However after Zamenhoff's visit in early 1939 he became ill and all contact was lost.[10]

Soviet period[edit]

Though Bahá'ís had managed to enter various countries of the Eastern Bloc through the 1950s, there is no known Bahá'í presence in Ukraine from this period,[1] though the head of the religion at the time, Shoghi Effendi, included Ukraine in a list of places where no Bahá'ís pioneer had been yet in 1952 and again in 1953.[11][12]

Ukrainian descendents[edit]

There have been several Bahá'í converts from descendants of the Ukrainian diasporas. As early as 1954 Canadian Peter Pihichyn of Ukrainian descent translated Bahá'í literature into Ukrainian and by 1963 a Ukrainian Teaching Committee of the Bahá'í National Spiritual Assembly of Canada produced a bulletin, entitled New Word.[1][13]

Canadian Bahá'í Mary McCulloch was of Ukrainian descent. After becoming a Bahá'í in 1951 and joining the first Bahá'í Local Spiritual Assembly in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan she was the first pioneer to Anticosti Island in 1956 becoming a Knight of Bahá'u'lláh. In later years she lived in Baker Lake with her family and promoted translation of Bahá'í literature into Inuktitut. She also assisted with translations into Ukrainian. In the 1990s she attended the Observances of the Centenary of the Ascension of Bahá'u'lláh and the Bahá'í World Congress and went on pilgrimage, and died in 1995.[14]

Inside Ukraine[edit]

The Bahá'í Faith started to grow across the Soviet Union in the 1980s.[1] In 1991 a Bahá'í National Spiritual Assembly of the Soviet Union was elected but was quickly split among its former member countries.[1] In the spring of 1990 a group of Ukrainian citizens joined the religion in Kiev, reinforced by 3 Bahá'ís who moved to the Ukraine: Iradj and Jinus Viktory from Canada, and Riaz Rafat from Norway/Russia.[citation needed] A 19 day feast was held for the first time on 6 August 1990, during which the first Local Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Kiev was elected.[citation needed] 21 Bahá'ís were then eligible.[citation needed] By January 1991, the number of Bahá'ís in Kiev had reached 55.[citation needed] A number of trips to promulgate the religion were organised from Kiev to spread the religion to other regions, starting with Lvov, Chernovtsy, Dnepropetrovsk, Vinitsa, Chernigov, and Kirovograd, reinforced by international pioneers to Chernovtsy and Lvov.[citation needed]

In 1992 the Christian Research Institute conducting an informal survey including "Which of the sects are creating the greatest problems?" managed to find a trace of the Bahá'í Faith.[15] In April 1991, Ukraine, Belarus and Moldavia formed a regional National Spiritual Assembly — in 1995 Belarus established a separate National Assembly, and in 1996 Moldova did the same, leaving Ukraine having its own National Spiritual Assembly.[16]

Modern community[edit]

In 2007 the numbers of the Bahá'í community in Ukraine totals about 1000 people,[2] with 12 Bahá'í communities in 2001,[17] and 13 in 2004.[3] In February 2008 the Ukrainian government rose in support of a declaration by the President of Slovenia on behalf of the European Union on the deteriorating situation of the Bahá'ís in Iran.[18] Ukraine's support of EU declarations about the Bahá'ís in Iran was reprised in February 2009 following the announcement of a trial of the leadership of the Bahá'ís of Iran when the Presidency of the European Union "denounced" the trial.[19] - See Persecution of Bahá'ís.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Momen, Moojan. "Russia". Draft for "A Short Encyclopedia of the Bahá'í Faith". Bahá'í Library Online. Retrieved 2008-04-14. 
  2. ^ a b c Local Spiritual Assembly of Kyiv (2007–8). "Statement on the history of the Bahá'í Faith in Soviet Union". Official Website of the Bahá'ís of Kyiv. Local Spiritual Assembly of Kyiv. Retrieved 2008-04-19. 
  3. ^ a b Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (2004-09-15). Ukraine "International Religious Freedom Report". United States State Department. Retrieved 2008-04-19. 
  4. ^ Smith, Peter (2000). "Tolstoy, Leo". A concise encyclopedia of the Bahá'í Faith. Oxford: Oneworld Publications. p. 340. ISBN 1-85168-184-1. 
  5. ^ Elder, E.; W. M. Miller (1961). Al-Kitab Al-Aqdas or The Most Holy Book. Royal Asiatic Society Books. The Royal Asiatic Society. p. 4. 
  6. ^ Mírzá Gulpáygání, Abu'l-Faḍl; Translated by Juan Ricardo Cole (1985). Letters and Essays, 1886-1913. Kalimat Press. pp. xii. ISBN 9780933770362. 
  7. ^ Grinevskaya, Isabella (1916). "Bab" (pdf) (reprint ed.). Retrieved 2009-03-21. 
  8. ^ a b Hassall, Graham (1993). "Notes on the Babi and Baha'i Religions in Russia and its territories". Journal of Bahá'í Studies 5 (3): pp 41–80, 86. Retrieved 2009-03-20. 
  9. ^ "A.S.Fridberg , 6 Nov. 1838 - 21 March 1902". Retrieved 2009-03-22. 
  10. ^ "News from Other Lands; First Ukrainian Bahá'í". Bahá'í News (183): p. 8. May 1946. 
  11. ^ Effendi, Shoghi (collected letters from 1947-57). Citadel of Faith. Haifa, Palestine: US Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1980 third printing. p. 107. 
  12. ^ Effendi, Shoghi (collected letters from 1922 - 1957). Unfolding Destiny. Haifa, Palestine: UK Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1981 edition. p. 318. 
  13. ^ Effendi, Shoghi (collected letters from 1923 - 1957). Messages to Canada. Haifa, Palestine: Bahá’í Canada Publications. pp. 202–8. 
  14. ^ McCulloch, Kenneth; includes letters from the Universal House of Justice and National Spiritual Assembly of Canada (1996-01-08). "Obituary of Knight of Bahá'u'lláh Mary Zabolotny McCulloch". Essays and Internet Postings. Bahá'í Library Online. Retrieved 2008-04-19. 
  15. ^ Carden, Paul. "Cults Gaining Ground in Eastern Europe, Former USSR". In Miller, Elliot. Christian Research Journal 1993 (Winter). p. 5. 
  16. ^ Hassall, Graham; Universal House of Justice. "National Spiritual Assemblies statistics 1923-1999". Assorted Resource Tools. Bahá'í Library Online. Retrieved 2008-04-02. 
  17. ^ Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (2001-10-26). Ukraine "International Religious Freedom Report". United States State Department. Retrieved 2008-04-19. 
  18. ^ "Declaration by the Presidency on behalf of the European Union on the deteriorating situation of the religious minority Baha’i in Iran" (Press release). Office of the Slovenian Presidency of the European Union. 2008-02-07. Retrieved 2008-05-24. 
  19. ^ "Declaration by the Presidency on behalf of the European Union on the trial with seven Baha'i leaders in Iran" (Press release). Council of the European Union. 2009-02-17. Archived from the original on 5 March 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-01. 

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