Welcome to the UK Baha’i Histories Project

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The UK Baha’i Histories Project is collecting the stories of individual Baha’is who currently live in the UK, or have lived here in the past.  The project is sponsored by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahai’s of the UK.

These stories are personal recollections by the individuals concerned. They will inevitably contain omissions and they reflect the views of the individual author in each case. We cannot vouch for the authenticity or completeness of any of the ‘histories’, although all stories are subjected to an editorial review. We urge readers who may have additional information that is pertinent to any story to post a comment, which may be viewed by all visitors to the site.

We would like to encourage EVERYONE to write their Baha’i history.  Your story is important and interesting, whether you became a Baha’i last week or 50 years ago.  We would also like to see stories from people who have moved to the UK, especially if you moved here from Iran, and your experiences when you first arrived.

To give you some inspiration, take a look at the stories below.  We hope you will then decide to write your own story.  Please contact bhp1uk@gmail.com and the team will help you to get started.

Webpage header photo courtesy of Baha’i Media Bank

Peter Black

I was born in Belfast on 5 January 1950 “between the mountains and the gantries…”, as the poet Louis MacNiece said in one of his poems (Carrickfergus).

As a child I attended the Methodist Sunday School, and often the Presbyterian Church in the evenings, as my parents belonged to those denominations. But by my twenties I had tired of ‘religion’ and had become at the very least, agnostic. But I envied those who seemed to have a faith in their religion, while at the same time being unable to accept the things that they taught, especially the idea that only one religion is right and that all others are wrong – a fact which every sect and denomination seemed to claim.

In 1980, I came across the Baha’i Faith in the home of Derek and Marianne Halligan in Belfast, and was invited to my first ‘fireside’ talk. I went along rather nervously, and though I can’t say I was impressed by that talk, I was impressed by the people I met. They seemed very friendly, open and willing to engage in debate about their beliefs, with no hint of prejudice towards any other religion.

For the next year or so, I became friendly with more Baha’is, but never thought about joining, as I was still somewhat ‘agnostic’. I should mention in particular Mr. Ghodrat Mazidian and Arjang and Edwina Agahi, who were my early ‘mentors’ and whose patience and kindness were remarkable. Other remarkable individuals like the late Mrs. Jane Villiers-Stuart, Dr. Beman Khosravi, Ms. Betty Reed and Ms. Grace Swann, all made great impressions on me. Finally, in mid-1983, I declared as a Bahá’í, having decided that I could always leave later if I found something better!

From 1983, I served for a long time (over thirty years) on Newtownabbey LSA – whilst that electoral area still existed, and also on the old Northern Ireland Teaching Committee.

If I were asked what the Baha’i Faith has given me, I would have to say it has taught me that the earth really is ‘one country’ and mankind its citizens, having had the privilege of meeting Baha’is from all over the globe, from Fiji to Malta to Mongolia, and discovering how alike we all really are. It has also given me a hope and faith which has sustained me through many difficult times. I have still to find anything better, either in religion or politics, which answers so many questions.

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Peter Black 

Northern Ireland, April 2020