Egypt is among the few territories
opened to the Faith during the ministry of Bahá'u'lláh (1853-92). Bahá'í
merchants began establishing themselves in Alexandria and Cairo from the 1860s.
ání and Siyyid Husayin-i-Kásh
ání took up
residence in Egypt during the period Bahá'u'lláh was in Adrianople (GPB 176).
Bahá'u'lláh sent Haji Mulla Ali Tabrizi and Mirza Haydar Ali Isfahani to
Egypt. They lived at Mansúriyya and there converted a number of people,
including Haji Abu'l-Qasim of Shiraz (E.G. Browne, Materials
33). In 1888 the Khedive Isma'il
Pasha deported Isfahani to Sudan. (Cole, "Rashid Rida")
Mirza Abdu'l-Fadl Gulpaygani arrived in
Cairo in the mid 1890s. He taught at al-Azhar, and attracted more than fourteen
teachers and students to the Faith (Cole "Rashid Rida"). Mirza Ratfi of Cairo went to Akka for the first time with Sarah Farmer as
interpreter (Ford, Oriental Rose, 176-7). Port Said Bahá'í M.T. Basheer visited Chicago in 1910 (Bahá'í News 1:5, 12)
Gabriel Sacy, a Frenchman of Syrian
origin, lived in Cairo, and had corresponded with Leo Tolstoy (Stendardo, Leo
Tolstoy and the Bahá'í Faith. 23). In June 1902 Sacy printed in Cairo Du
rŽgne de Dieu et de l'Afneau, connu sous le nom de Babysme. Many early
treatises were published in Cairo: an Arabic history of the Bábís
(unsympathetic but well-informed) written by the Persian, Mírzá Muhammad Mahdí
Khan, Za'imu'd-Duwla, was printed in
Cairo in 1903-1904). Numerous
Persian titles were published in Cairo, including Tablets
from Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets and
Prayers from Bahá'u'lláh, The
Epistle to the Son of the Wolf; Seven
Valleys, Four Valleys and Poetry of Bahá'u'lláh, The Tablets of 'Abdu'l-Bahá
(in three volumes); Some Answered Questions; Abu'l-Fadl's Al-Fara'id, Dwrer'l-Bahiyyeh, Hujaj'l-Bahiyyih and The letters of Abu'l-Fadhl; Haider
Ali's Dala'il-el-'Irfan and Bihjet'l-Sudur.
Other works published in Cairo included The
History of Tahireh. Some titles were co-published with Bombay - The
Book of Iqán, 'Abdu'l-Bahá's The
Muduniyyeh, and Siasiyyeh (BWI, 111)
Publications in Arabic included The
Ishraqát, Tajalliat, Tarazat, and Kalamat and The Talks of 'Abdu'l-Bahá in
Europe and America.
Myron H. Phelps completed his work Life
and Teachings of Abbas Effendi when in Cairo in March 1903. On 24 September, 1913, the Egyptian
Gazette printed a letter to the editor by Jean Stannard concerning the
recent death of Aminius VambŽry. This letter included Vamberyâs testimony to the Îreligion of Abdu'l-Baháâ.
Miss J. Stannard is here since the 2nd January, she arrived in Burma
Rangoon about the 12/12/22 from Egypte.
Haji Abdu'l-Karim travelled from Cairo
to USA c.1901 (Gail, 157). Ford (Oriental Rose, 94-101) describes Karim
as a trader who spent much time in Akka, from the time Bahá'u'lláh moved
outside Akka until at least 1892. Gail describes Haji Ghulam Riday-i-Khurasani as "The distinguished servant of the Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh,
gardener and caretaker of the Shrine of the Báb. see Gail, 228.
Zaynu'-'Abidín Ismá'íl, surnamed 'Zaynu'l-Mukhlisín (the
adorning of the sincere ones) by 'Abdu'l-Bahá, had migrated from Hamadan to
Cairo. Married to Hamídih Khánum-Aqá from Shiraz. 'Abdu'l-Bahá had
spoken in their home in Cairo. In 1946 their son Fawz Zayn married Bahiyyih 'Ali
Sa'd'id-Din, daughter of a Lebanese Bahá'í who obeyed 'Abdu'l-Bahá and came
to Egypt to marry Ismat Ali Effendi, daughter of the first Egyptian Bahá'í.
Soon after being freed from imprisonment in Palestine, 'Abdu'l-Bahá
arrived in Egypt in September 1910. See Bahá'í News 1:13, 8; Bahá'í
News 1:15, Dec 12, 1910, p2; Bahá'í
News 1:17, Jan 19, 1910, p4-5; Bahá'í News 1:19, 4-5; publicity of `Abdu'l-Bahá Bahá'í News 2:3, 5. Cairo was a centre for intellectuals and other
influential figures, a number of whom made Abduâl-Baháâs acquaintance. Tudor-Pole visited `Abdu'l-Bahá outside Alexandria in November 1910. An
interview with him appeared in Christian
Commonwealth (1910 28 Dec),
"A Wonderful Movement in The East" (reproduced in Bahá'í
News 1:18, 1-4). Khaja-Hassan
Nizami, an Indian intellectual who
met Abdu'l-Bahá in Egypt, later translated Seven
Valleys into Urdu. (Bahá'í
World Vol. III, 1930-32,
89) Sheikh Faraj, a Kurd living in Cairo, translated
Ishraqat in to Arabic during the time of `Abdu'l-Bahá.
Perhaps `Abdu'l-Bahá was so well known in Egypt that there was
considerable press coverage of his funeral, a decade later. Reports of Abdu'l-Baháâs passing in Egyptian newspapers included Al
Lataif Al Musawa (Cairo) 5th December; the Sphinx of Cairo on 17 December, and the Egyptian Mail (ãThe World Religion of the Future. Teachings of
Abdel-Bahá. Passing of A Great Prophet) n.d. Viscount Allenby, Egyptâs High Commissioner, who had visited
with 'Abdu'l-Bahá in Haifa, cabled a message of sympathy to his relatives (BWI,
28 and The Bahá'í World vol. 2, 1926-28,
Following his time spent in Egypt, `Abdu'l-Bahá sometimes spoke of his
experiences there when he travelled further abroad. When in London in 1911, for
instance, he said:
Knowledge is the first step; resolve, the second step; action, its
fulfilment, is the third step. To construct a building one must first of all
make a plan, then one must have the power (money), then one can build. A society
of Unity is formed, that is good - but meetings and discussions are not
enough· In Egypt these meetings take place but there is only talk and no
Bahá'ís in Egypt at this time included Mirza Hassan Khorassani,
"Rue Cherif Pasha", D. Mohammed Yazdi, "an oriental gentleman of
pleasing manners and placid countenance". Tamaddun ul Molk and Nouraddin
Zaine acted as secretaries to `Abdu'l-Bahá. Nevill G. Meakin, Miss Louisa A.M.
Mathew from England, Kaem Maken of Tehran, formerly a minister of state; Haji
Mirza Haydar Ali, Shaykh Momammed Baghdadi, Abdol Hosein (who was soon to visit
Persia). Western pilgrims who visited Egypt included Coy, and Grey, and M &
S Paine, were given hospitality in Cairo in August 1920 by Muhammad-Taqi
Isfahani (In His Presence, 67). Louis
Gregory visited `Abdu'l-Bahá at Ramleh beginning April 10, 1911, and remaining
until 4 May.
On 17 June 1913 'Abdu'l-Bahá arrived at Port Said aboard the steamship Himalaya.
From there he sent a telegram instructing many pilgrims to come to Port Said. As
there was not enough room to receive them in the hotel in which he was staying,
a tent was erected on the roof for the purpose. On 2 December 1913 'Abdu'l-Bahá left Alexandria to return to the Holy Land.
For other information on Abduâl-Bahá in Egypt see also Star of the
West 6:18, February 7, 1915, p159 "Letters from the Orient received by
Miss Martha L. Root", p159-60; 9:17, January 19, 1919, p.199-2000; 9:19 Mar
2, 1919, p.217; 10:4 May 17, 1919, p73-74; 10:7 July 13, 1919, p.141-2.
There were also activities by covenant-breakers in Egypt in the early
years. In God Passes by Shoghi Effendi records:
strenuous exertions of an ambitious Armenian, who, in the course of the first
years of its establishment in Egypt, endeavored to supplant it by the
"Scientific Society" which in his short?sightedness he had
conceived and was sponsoring, failed utterly in its purpose.â- God Passes
By 1915 Bahá'ís
from Cairo, Port Said and Alexandria had contributed to the Bahá'í Temple
Unity Fund (BWI,69-70). A Photo of
the Bahá'í Assembly of Port Said can be seen in the first Bahá'í World.
(BWI,44) On early publishing
activities see Bahá'í Yearbook 1925-26, p.111. Edward
Mickail Youssef described his community in correspondence with Victoria Bedikian:
My father [Mickail Youssef] is a station master. As he was at Hamul, a
village in Menouffia Province, he was accustomed to go every week in his rest
day, at Shebin El Kom, the biggest town at that Province. After a short time
there were many friends in that town. I was at the secondary school of Shebin El
Kom. Many friends sent letters to our Guardian, and He wrote to them many many
beautiful and spiritual answers.
The friends were accustomed to meet regularly at my house. The number of
them reached about 10. In every meeting many of the beloved were gathered to
hear the word. Sometimes their number reached about 20. That state was complete
about one year, and after that I finished my education, and my father also was
transferred to another far town in upper Egypt, and after he was transferred to
Rosetta. We hope that God may help us in spreading his light in the hearts of
Rosetta and planting the seed of Bahá'u'lláh in it.
The NSA of Egypt and Sudan was
established in 1924 and incorporated in 1934. It was later one of twelve national assemblies that participated in the
Ten Year World Crusade
The Port Said Bahá'ís continued through the years to meet many pilgrims
arriving from other countries to make their pilgrimage in the Holy Land. In 1936
the Assemblyâs address was in Kawala Street, Secretary 1953-38 was J.
Chawafaty. In 1923 an Assembly was
established at Kummus Saayidah [Kom-el-Saaid?]. The Bahá'ís there also
established a school (the Abbasia Charity School) and a pilgrim house, and had
taught their faith in 14 towns in the Deni-Suef district.
See also: "The Bahá'í Cause in Northern Egypt", Star
of the West 14:8, November 1923, p.313; The Bahá'í Cause in Egypt, Star of the West 14:12 March 1924, p.375-6. In
the mid-1920s there were Bahá'ís in Port Said, Alexandria, Isma'ilíyyih and
Assiut (BWI, 102). Photo of Annual Convention (BW II 1926-28, 35). Photo of
Ridvan fest in Alexandria (BW 26-28, 76). Some
of the Egyptian Bahá'ís also visited Europe. Mustapha Suliman, of Port Said,
travelled in Europe 25 April - 27 July 1922, visiting the Bahá'ís in Paris,
London, Berlin, Stuttgart.
countries of the near and middle east only recognised religions were entitled to
establish ecclesiastical courts, which presided over matters of personal status,
such as registration of birth, marriage, divorce, and inheritance. When the
Muslim ecclesiastical courts denounced Egyptian Bahá'ís as heretics, who were
not entitled to the benefits of Muslim law, the Bahá'ís appealed to the
On 10 May 1925 an Islamic court pronounced the Faith to be independent of
Islam. (Report BW II 1926-28, 31-33) (See WOB,10-12; Guardian's communications
10/1/26; 12 January 1927 in Bahá'í Administration) Hippolite Dreyus-Barney assisted the Egyptian Bahá'ís in lifting some
of the persecution they received (BWIII,210).
A photo of the National Hazirat'ul-Quds
under construction in Cairo appeared in Bahá'í
World 1940-44, p.47. It was completed by the Centenary celebrations in 1944.
(See report BW44-46, 56-59) The number of LSAs in Egypt rose to seven, with the
addition of those in Suez, Tanta and Sohag.
Al Saeeed of Port Said and Rashad Effendi Al Hamamsy of Cairo pioneered to the
Sudan in 1944, although the latter was transferred back to Egypt after six
months (BW44-46, 57). There was also a pioneer to Ethiopia.
attended the first Egyptian summer school, held near Port Said in July (1944?).
community experienced renewed persecution in 1944. It was instigated largely by the Sharia Muslim Courts, whose
verdicts were published in newspapers without right of reply (elaborated
BW44-46, 57-8). There were disturbances in Tanta and Arish. Bahá'í marriages
were not recognised by the Immigration department. Furthermore, the Grand Mufti
of Islam in Egypt issued a statement declaring the independent status of the
Faith. The NSA was preparing a memorandum for the government seeking protection
for the Egyptian Bahá'ís.
To mark the centenary of the martyrdom of the Bab, in July 1950, the NSA
of Egypt and Sudan published a memorial pamphlet and held a public meeting,
which resulted in coverage in the local press (BW50-54,20). By April 1950 the
community had been granted a burial ground by the government in Port Said (M,
4); by April 1951 right of membership on LSAs had been extended to women (M, 12,
97), and the City governate of Cairo stepped toward recognition of Bahá'í laws
of personal status, which had been codified and submitted to govt by the
Egyptian NSA. (M, 12)
In June 1952 Shoghi Effendi described the Egyptian Bahá'ís as:
"the members of the second most persecuted yet resolute community
established in the heart of both the Arab and Muslim worlds, who, by virtue of
the position they occupy, must play a distinctive part in the emancipation of a
proscribed Faith from the fetters of religious orthodoxy" (M, 36)
Abdelnasser, in The Islamic Movement in Egypt, records the opposition to the Bahá'í
Faith from such Islamic figures as Shikh 'Abdil-:Hamid Kishk:
The famous mosque
preacher Shikh 'Abdil-Hamid Kishk accused Jews of spreading dissension around
the world throughout history. He believed that Israel was created in the region
to divine Muslims. Shikh Kishk accused both Israel and colonialism of creating
Bahá'ísm as a means to combat Islam....
The NSA had to purchase site for Mashriqu'l-Adhkar in Cairo. The Guardian
advised it to establish a fund for purchase of land in a Cable dated December 7
1953 (BN Jan 54, 1-2). The
property was acquired by April 1955, 17,000 sq metres on the banks of Nile (M,
81). There was also an endowment for North East Africa. By 1953 the National Hazíratu'l-Quds
in Cairo was valued at LE 11,000, Villa Safvan at Port-Fuad was worth LE 8,000,
and property at Isma'iliyyij was worth LE 1,500 (ISC, 17) Land for a Summer
School was acquired by Ridvan 1957. (M,116)
Ten Year Plan
1953 the Egyptian Bahá'ís were given a plan of expansion that required opening
6 African territories to the Faith, and consolidating eight others. (See
1. French Equatorial Guinea - Knight of
Bahá'u'lláh Max Kenyerezi, October 1953
2. French West Africa - KBs Labib
Isfahani, Nov 53; Habib Isfahani, April 1954
3. Morocco (International Zone) - KB's
Manuchihi Hizari, Sept 53; Hurmuz Zindih, Sept 53; Elsie Austin Oct 53;
Muhammad-'Ali Jalili, Oct 53; Husayn & Nusraat Ardikani, Nov 53; 'Ali Akhbar
& Shayistih Rafi'i, Nov 53; 'Abbas Rafi'i, Nov 53; Richard &
Evelyn Walters, Apr 54; Richard & Mary L. Suhm, Apr 54.
4. Rio de Oro - KB Amin Battah, Oct 53.
Spanish Morocco - KB's: Fawzi Zaynu'l-'Abidin & family, Oct 53; Luella
McKay, Oct 53; John & Earleta Fleming, Oct 53; Alyce Janssen, Oct 53.
6. Spanish Sahara - KB: Muhammad Mustafa
Sulaman, Oct 53.
5. Morocco (French)
In 1953 the Guardian directed Hands of the Cause Varqa and Ala'i to visit
Egypt and Sudan (Messages to the Bahá'í World, 172)
The NSA of Egypt and Sudan became the Regional Assembly for North East
Africa. It included French
Somaliland; Egypt, Sudan, Abyssinia, Libya, Eritrea, British Somaliland; Italian
Somaliland; and Socotra Is. This Assembly was given the task of forming a
National Spiritual Assembly for North West Africa, which Shoghi Effendi
announced in October 1954 was to be established at Ridvan 1956.
The NSA had the task of incorporating the National Spiritual Assembly of
North West Africa, and establishing a National endowment. The NSA was to
establish a National Haziratul'Quds in Tunis, but was unable to complete its
goals of establishing a National Bahá'í Court, and National Bahá'í
Publishing Trust in Cairo. Neither was the NSA able to establish an Israel
Branch. It achieved incorporation
The NSA of North Africa was to double the number of LSAs and Localities
in Egypt & Sudan, and instigate local incorporations in Egypt & Sudan.
By decree 263 of 1960, President of the United Arab Republic, Nasser,
dissolved Bahá'í assemblies, confiscated their belongings, banned all Bahá'í
activities in Egypt, provided for the punishment of "any organisation or
individual who performed any of the activities of the said Assemblies, by a
minimum sentence of six months' imprisonment or a fine not exceeding [100
Egyptian pounds]." (Bahá'í World
1983-86, 284). The community ceased its administrative activities, but
continued to hold 19-Day Feasts. Egypt ended the Ten Year plan with 13 LSAs, 11
groups & 9 isolated centres.
Muhammad Mustafa was one of the main pillars of the embattled community.
See also Sabri & Rushdie (Bahá'í World 54-63, 905); Farajullah Al-Kurdi
(Bahá'í World 54-63, 916); Ruhi (Bahá'í World 54-63, 939); GPB
176, 364-72, 195, 302, 338, 344-5, 333, 336, 400, 178, 195, 248, 286, 257, 262,
267, 280-1, 283, 290, 315, 317, 319, 327, 330,335-6, 339-41, 343, 383-4, 388
Farah, N.R., Religious Strife in Egypt:
Crisis and Ideological Conflict in the Seventies, Gordon & Breach, 1986.
Moojan Momen (Ed.), Esslemont's Survey
of the Bahá'í Community in 1919?1920: Part VI. Egypt by Shaykh Faraju'llah
and Japan by (?) Alexander, Bahá'í
Studies Bulletin 3:1 (June 1984), (68?71)
Bahá'í World 1954-63, 287.
"The Persecution of the Bahá'í
Community in Egypt 1985-1986", Bahá'í
World 1983-86, 283-
 Star of the West 4:17, January 19,
 Bahá'í Year Book, vol 1. 1925-26, 118-9.
 Mustafa Roumie, 27 January 1923 to Victoria Bedikian, Victorian Bedikian
Papers. 23/4-5. Syed Mustapha Roumie. US National Bahá'í Archives.
 Bahá'í Administration, 23.
 Excerpts are reproduced in The Bahá'í
World vol. 2, 1926-28, 14.
 `Abdu'l-Bahá in London: Addresses and Notes of Conversations, London: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1988? 54.
 Louis G. Gregory, A Heavenly Vista:
The Pilgrimage, Washington, 1911.
 Mirza Amhad Sohrab, Star of the West 4:7, July 13, 1913, p.121.
 12 January ? 1935. Victoria Bedikian Papers. 31/51.
E/M/ Youssef. USBA.
 "Bahá'í News and Notes", Star
of the West 14:7, October 1923, p.214.
 M. Suliman to V. Bedikian, 30 July 1922. Victoria Bedikian Papers. 28/9.
Mustapha Suliman. USBA.
 Shikh Kishk, The Story of My Days. In Abdelnasser,
Walid Mahmoud, The Islamic Movement in Egypt: Perceptions of International
Relations 1967-1981, Kegan Paul International, London, 1994, p.138.