Bahá'í Faith in Portugal

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The Bahá'í Faith in Portugal comes after the first mention of Portugal in Bahá'í literature when `Abdu'l-Bahá mentioned it as a place to take the religion to in 1916.[1] The first Bahá'í visitor to Portugal was in 1926.[2] Its first Bahá'í Local Spiritual Assembly was elected in Lisbon in 1946.[2] In 1962 the Portuguese Bahá'ís elected their first National Spiritual Assembly.[3] In 1963 there were nine assemblies.[4] According to recent counts there are close to some 2000 members of the Bahá'í Faith in 2005 according to the Association of Religion Data Archives (relying on World Christian Encyclopedia).[5]

Early phase[edit]

`Abdu'l-Bahá's Tablets of the Divine Plan[edit]

In the history of the Bahá'í Faith the first mentions of Portugal start in the twentieth century. `Abdu'l-Bahá, the son of the founder of the religion, wrote a series of letters, or tablets, to the followers of the religion in the United States in 1916-1917; these letters were compiled together in the book titled Tablets of the Divine Plan. The seventh of the tablets was the first to mention several countries in Europe including beyond where `Abdu'l-Bahá had visited in 1911-12. Written on April 11, 1916, it was delayed in being presented in the United States until 1919 — after the end of World War I and the Spanish flu. The seventh tablet was translated and presented by Mirza Ahmad Sohrab on April 4, 1919, and published in Star of the West magazine on December 12, 1919.[6]

"In all the countries of the world the longing for universal peace is taking possession of the consciousness of men. … A most wonderful state of receptivity is being realized.… Therefore, O ye believers of God! Show ye an effort and after this war spread ye the synopsis of the divine teachings in the British Isles, France, Germany, Austria-Hungary, Russia, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Holland, Portugal, Rumania, Serbia, Montenegro, Bulgaria, Greece, Andorra, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, San Marino, Balearic Isles, Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily, Crete, Malta, Iceland, Faroe Islands, Shetland Islands, Hebrides and Orkney Islands."[1]

First contact[edit]

Martha Root was an early traveler of the religion to visit Portugal in between 1923 and 1933.[2][7] It is known that two Bahá'ís were interviewed by the newspapers Diario de Noticias and Diario de Lisboa and gave other talks on the religion in 1926.

In 1946 the Bahá'í National Spiritual Assembly of the United States formed the Bahá'í European Teaching Committee to teach the religion in Europe. This endeavour oversaw the arrival of a number of Bahá'í pioneers.[8] Its first Bahá'í Local Spiritual Assembly was elected in 1946 in Lisbon.[2] Charlotte Stirratt was a pioneer who had moved to Lisbon, by November 1948.[8]


In September 1951 the first Iberian conference took place with nine native Bahá'ís and other pioneers who had attended the Fourth European Teaching Conference – recommendations from the consultation included exchanging updated information and further coordination between the communities, and to send contributions for the final work on the Shrine of the Báb.[9]

In 1953 Shoghi Effendi, head of the religion after the death of `Abdu'l-Bahá, planned an international teaching plan termed the Ten Year Crusade. During the plan pioneers moved from Portugal colonies including Angola and East Timor from 1954.[10]

In 1957 Portugal and Spain formed a regional National Spiritual Assembly. The 1957 convention was witnessed by Charles Wolcott as a representative of Shoghi Effendi.[11] In 1962 each formed their own independent National Spiritual Assembly.[3] In 1963 the delegates to the national convention was set at 19.[12] In 1963, the members of the national assemblies of the world were the delegates to elect the Universal House of Justice for the first time - the members of the assembly of Portugal that participated were Angelo da Silva Carneiro, Mr. Mansour Masrour, Sara Tiffon Ramonet, Hilda Xavier Rodrigues, Carlos Salomao, Carl Scherer, Juliao Serrano, Celestino M. Silva and Richard Walters.[12]

In 1963 the community of Bahá'ís was organized into Assemblies, groups between 1 and 9 and isolated Bahá'is as follows:[4]

Assemblies Almada Espinho Faro Lisbon Oeiras/Amadora Portimão Porto Sintra Trafaria
Groups between 1 and 9 adults Barreiro Cascais Charneca
Isolated Bahá'ís Beja Costa da Caparica Monte da Caparica Seixal/Amora

Despite this growth the government of Portugal actively opposed the development of the religion until liberalized[3] following the Carnation Revolution of 1974 and the writing of the Portuguese Constitution of 1976.

In 1987 the Portuguese community had 25 Local Spiritual Assemblies - more per capita than neighbouring Spain.

The Portuguese Bahá'í Summer Schools are a series of annual events held in Portugal, as part of the "Summer School" concept of Bahá'í school. The Portuguese Bahá'í Summer Schools modestly emerged in the 60's, and have been growing in popularity and scope since. In 2009, the event hosted over 200 participants from all 5 continents, and counted with Ali Nakhjavani and Violette Nakhjavani, as well as Glenford Mitchell, as main speakers.[13]

Modern community[edit]

There has been news coverage of the development of the Bahá'í Terraced gardens in Haifa.[14] Recent counts show close to some 1,995 members of the Bahá'í Faith in 2005 according to the Association of Religion Data Archives (relying on World Christian Encyclopedia).[5] In 2007 the Bahá'ís of Portugal contributed to a religious discussion on society with the theme "The Baha'i faith and equal opportunities".[15] In 2010 Marco Antonio Oliveira, a representative of the Bahá'í community of Portugal, was appointed by the Ministers of Justice and Parliamentary Affairs as a member of the Committee Issue of Time for Religions.[16]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b `Abdu'l-Bahá (1991) [1916-17]. Tablets of the Divine Plan (Paperback ed.). Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Bahá'í Publishing Trust. p. 43. ISBN 0-87743-233-3. 
  2. ^ a b c d Moreira, Rute (2001-01-13). "Comunidade Bahá'í em Portugal". Correio da Manhã. Retrieved 2010-05-03. 
  3. ^ a b c Smith, Peter (2004). Bahá'ís in the West. Kalimat Press. pp. 22, 36–38. ISBN 978-1-890688-11-0. 
  4. ^ a b 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. 109. 
  5. ^ a b "Most Baha'i Nations (2005)". QuickLists > Compare Nations > Religions >. The Association of Religion Data Archives. 2005. Archived from the original on 14 April 2010. Retrieved 2010-05-03. 
  6. ^ Abbas, 'Abdu'l-Bahá (April 1919). Tablets, Instructions and Words of Explanation. Mirza Ahmad Sohrab (trans. and comments). 
  7. ^ Yang, Jiling (2005-08-16). Fletcher, Ian, ed. In Search of Martha Root: An American Bahá'í Feminist and Peace Advocate in the Early Twentieth Century (PDF). Master's Thesis (Thesis). Georgia State University, College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Women's Studies. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-11-15. Retrieved 2010-05-03. 
  8. ^ a b C. van den Hoonaard, Will (1993-11-08). "Netherlands". draft of A Short Encyclopedia of the Baha'i Faith. Baha'i Library Online. Retrieved 2008-12-25. 
  9. ^ "First Iberian Conference". Bahá'í News. No. 250. December 1951. p. 9. 
  10. ^ Vreeland, Claire; Graham Hassall (1994). "Harold and Florence Fitzner: Knights of Bahá'u'lláh to Portuguese Timor". And the trees clapped their hands : stories of Bahá'í pioneers. Oxford, UK: George Ronald. pp. 320–332. ISBN 978-0-85398-378-1. 
  11. ^ "We Look at Our Obiectives". Bahá'í News. No. 316. June 1957. p. 16. 
  12. ^ a b Rabbani, R. (Ed.) (1992). The Ministry of the Custodians 1957-1963. Bahá'í World Centre. pp. 403, 412. ISBN 0-85398-350-X. 
  13. ^ "Media (Pics & Vids)". Summer School Committee. 2010. Archived from the original on August 23, 2010. Retrieved 2010-10-17. 
  14. ^ Marujo, Antonio (2001-05-23). "Os Novos Jardins Suspensos do Monte Carmelo Baha'ís inauguram espaço verde em Haifa". Jornal Publico. Retrieved 2010-05-03. 
  15. ^ "Diversidade e Igualdade de Oportunidades: Debates sobre Religião e Imigração". Eventos e Iniciativas. The Immigration Observatory (Government of Portugal). 2007. Archived from the original on 2011-10-06. Retrieved 2010-05-03. 
  16. ^ "Novo membro na Comissão do Tempo de Emissão das Confissões Religiosas". Agência Ecclesia. Comunicações Sociais. 2010-04-30. Retrieved 2010-05-03.