Bahá'í Faith in Algeria

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The Bahá'í Faith in Algeria began about 1952.[1] In 1954 the first Bahá'í Local Spiritual Assembly of Algiers was elected.[2] In 1963 a survey of the community counted 2 assemblies, 2 organized groups (between 1 and 9 adults) of Bahá'ís[3] and hosted a regional National Spiritual Assembly for Algeria and Tunisia in 1967[1] however pioneers were expelled in late 1968 during the period of the independence of Algeria when the country adopted Islamic practices in rejection of colonial influences.[4] However more recently the Association of Religion Data Archives and Wolfram Alpha estimated 3.3[5]–3.8[6] thousand Bahá'ís in 2005 and 2010.

Early phase[edit]

The second Letter of the Living, Muḥammad-Ḥasan Bushrú'í, a prominent follower of the predecessor Bábí Faith, was arrested in 1845 by Ottoman authorities and the punishment they entertained speculated of banishing him to Algeria at one point.[7] Another very early mention is of a Bahá'í wanting to go to Algeria occurs circa 1909.[8] A Kurdish Bahá'í is said to have gone to Algeria about March 1923.[9][10]

The first known Bahá'ís to live there any length of time came in June 1952 when a Persian family travelled from Iran to France, and then on to Algeria, where they pioneered. In about August 1953 Hand of the Cause, (a select group of Bahá'ís appointed for life serve the religion at an international level), Dhikru'llah Khadem visited the Bahá'ís there and there was some newspaper coverage.[11] By the end of 1953 the first native Algerian convert to the religion was 'Abdu'l-Karim Amín Khawja.[12] The Algiers Bahá'í Local Spiritual Assembly was established by in 1954.[1] At Ridván 1956 three new Regional Spiritual Assemblies were established including North-West Africa which included Algeria.[2] Circa 1957 a number of Berber peoples joined the religion.[12] By the end of 1963 there was a second assembly in Oran; and two isolated centers. Hand of the Cause Shu'á'u'lláh `Alá'í was present for the election of the national assembly in 1967.[13] Some 16 Persian pioneers were expelled and five native Bahá'ís were banished to the Saharan desert and eastern mountains in November 1968.[12] After some months the confiscated properties were returned and the order of banishment of the local Bahá'ís were gradually relaxed.[12] Some of the Algerian pioneers who were expelled then moved to Hong Kong.[14]

Modern community[edit]

Since 1968 there is little information on the religion. In 1969 the religion was considered banned.[12][15] The religion may be considered heretical because the country adopted Islamic practices in rejection of colonial influences.[4] Muslim converts to other religions practice their new faith clandestinely.[16] There is a law in Algeria which makes "shaking the faith" of Muslims punishable[17] - depending on how that is interprited it might be applied to Bahá'ís though they recognized and affirm Muhammad as a prophet.[18] Algerian Bahá'ís may have to obtain acceptable national ID cards in a way that lead to the Egyptian identification card controversy.[19] Regardless, Bahá'ís have a prominent religious principle requiring obedience to legal governments.[20]

The Promise of World Peace, a major publication of the Universal House of Justice, head institution of the religion, was delivered to the national government indirectly through their diplomatic offices in the United States in 1986.[21]


The World Christian Encyclopedia listed 700 Bahá'ís in the mid 1970s, and noted expansion had been checked by waves of persecution and that all activities were banned.[1] However the Association of Religion Data Archives and Wolfram Alpha estimated 3300[5]–3800[6] in 2005/2010.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Hassall, Graham (c. 2000). "Bahá'í Communities by Country: Research Notes; Algeria". Asia Pacific Bahá'í Studies: Bahá'í Communities by country. Bahá'í Online Library. Retrieved 2013-04-23.
  2. ^ a b Hassall, Graham (1999). "Baha'i country notes: Africa". Asian/Pacific Collection. Asia Pacific Bahá'í Studies. Retrieved 2013-04-23.
  3. ^ 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. 56.
  4. ^ a b Taylor, Paul M. (2005). Freedom of religion: UN and European human rights law and practice. Cambridge University Press. p. 57. ISBN 978-0-521-85649-2.
  5. ^ a b "Most Baha'i Nations (2005)". International > Regions > Northern Africa. The Association of Religion Data Archives. 2005. Retrieved 2013-04-23.
  6. ^ a b "Algeria religions". Wolfram Alpha. Online. Wolfram Alpha (curated data). March 13, 2010. Retrieved 2013-04-23.
  7. ^ Momen, Moojan (1982). "The Trial of Mullá 'Alí Bastámí: A Combined Sunní-Shí'í Fatwá against The Báb". Iran: Journal of the British Institute for Persian Studies. 20: 113–143. doi:10.2307/4299725. Retrieved April 23, 2013.
  8. ^ `Abdu'l-Bahá (1909). Tablets of Abdul-Baha Abbas. Chicago, USA: Bahá'í Publishing Committee. p. 326.
  9. ^ Windust, Albert R; Buikema, Gertrude, eds. (June 1923). "Bahá'í News;Letter of the Spiritual Assembly of Haifa, March 1923". Star of the West. Chicago, USA: Bahá'í News Service. 14 (3): 89–90. Retrieved 2013-04-23.
  10. ^ Windust, Albert R; Buikema, Gertrude, eds. (June 1923). "Bahá'í News;Letter of the Spiritual Assembly of Haifa, (second letter)". Star of the West. Chicago, USA: Bahá'í News Service. 14 (3): 90–91. Retrieved 2013-04-23.
  11. ^ "Publicity for the Faith in Algeria". Bahá'í News. No. 271. August 1953. p. 13.
  12. ^ a b c d e Cameron, G.; Momen, W. (1996). A Basic Bahá'í Chronology. Oxford, UK: George Ronald. pp. 309, 316, 330, 373, 380. ISBN 0-85398-404-2.
  13. ^ "The New National Assembly of Algeria and Tunisia". Bahá'í News. No. 439. October 1967. p. 4.
  14. ^ Hassall, Graham (1998). "Baha'i Faith in Hong Kong". Baha'i Library Online.
  15. ^ Momen, Moojan; Peter Smith (1989). "The Bahá'í Faith 1957-1988: A Survey of Contemporary Developments". Religion. 19: 63–91. doi:10.1016/0048-721X(89)90077-8. Retrieved April 23, 2013.
  16. ^ Myers, Steven Lee (1997). "In Many Lands, the Right to Worship Freely Hasn't a Prayer, Excerpts from the US State Department report". New York Times. Retrieved April 23, 2013.
  17. ^ StateReligion Relationships and Human Rights Law: Towards a Right to Religiously Neutral Governance. BRILL. 2010. p. 242. ISBN 978-90-04-18148-9. Retrieved 23 April 2013.
  18. ^ Smith, Peter (2000). "Manifestations of God". A concise encyclopedia of the Bahá'í Faith. Oxford: Oneworld Publications. p. 231. ISBN 1-85168-184-1.
  19. ^ Prohibited Identities; State Interference with religious Freedom. 19. Human Rights Watch. November 2007. p. 14.
  20. ^ 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.
  21. ^ "The Promise of World Peace". Bahá'í News. No. 683. February 1988. p. 2.