RELIGION LIBRARY

Baha'i

History

Missions and Expansion

The central figures of the Baha'i Faith have always directed the expansion and development of the religion. The Bab instructed his earliest disciples, the Letters of the Living, to go to various parts of Iran, Iraq, and India to spread word of his claim. Baha'u'llah directed certain of his followers to go to India, Egypt, Anatolia, the Caucasus, and Central Asia in order to spread his religion. 'Abdu'l-Baha supervised the spread of the Baha'i Faith to North America and Europe and sent some of the learned Baha'is to these areas to educate the Western converts in their new religion. He himself undertook two lengthy journeys in 1911-1913, spreading the Baha'i teachings throughout North America and Europe. In addition, Baha'is moved to such places as China, Japan, Australia, and the Pacific, while some people in places such as New Zealand and South Africa heard about the Baha'i Faith and became Baha'is. In 1916-17, 'Abdu'l-Baha also wrote the Tablets of the Divine Plan, which are regarded as the charter for the planned expansion of the Baha'i Faith.

Shoghi Effendi spent the early part of his ministry establishing the Baha'i administrative system to act as a platform for further expansion. Then in 1937, he launched the North American Baha'i community into the first of a series of systematic plans that would take the Baha'i Faith first into Central and South America and then, after World War II, to those countries in Europe where Baha'i communities had not been established. As other Baha'i communities developed the capacity, they were also given goals to assist in this expansion process. In 1953, the twelve national or regional Baha'i administrative bodies (National Spiritual Assemblies) that were then in existence were given a global ten-year plan. In this, there were numerous goals of establishing Baha'i communities in new countries (there were Baha'is present in 128 countries at this time), purchasing suitable headquarters in each country, and translating Baha'i literature into the languages of these countries. By the end of this plan, the Baha'i Faith had spread to 159 countries with fifty-six National Spiritual Assemblies.

Countries and Major Territories Opened to the Baha’i Faiths 1863-1963
Period Countries Total Cumulative
Total
Period of Baha’u’llah’s Ministry (1863—1892)
1. Iraq 6. Egypt 11. Pakistan
2. Iran 7. Georgia 12. Sudan
3. Adzarbaijan 8. India 13. Syria
4. Armenia 9. Israel 14. Turkey
5. Burma 10. Lebanon 15. Turkmenistan
15 15
Period of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s Ministry (1892—192 1)
16. Saudi Arabia 23. Germany 30. Jordan
17. Australia 24.Great Britain 31. Russia
18. Austria 25. Hawaiian Is 32. South Africa
19. Brazil 26. Holland 33. Switzerland
20. Canada 27. Hungary 34. Tunisia
21. China 28. Italy 35. United States of America
22. France 29. Japan
20 35
Period of Shoghi Effendi’s Ministry up to 1953 93 Countries and Major Territories 93 128
Ten Year Plan (1953-1963) 131 Countries and Major Territories 131 259
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