On the connection between Abdu’l-Baha’s thinking and his practical directives in the global expansion of the Baha’i religion, considered in light of Jan Aart Scholte's globalization categories: normative, psychological, economic, and institutional.
Early draft of the article later expanded for publication, online at scribd.com.
The Globalization of the Bahá'í Community: 1892-1921
Abstract: The Bahá'í Faith has throughout its 150-year history had globalization as a central theme. Despite this long connection, there has been little mention of the Bahá'í Faith in reviews of religion and globalization. The project of globalizing the Bahá'í community began with Bahá'u'lláh (1817-92), who made it clear in his writings that he was directing his teachings to the whole world - all nations, all religions, all social strata. In his writings, he addressed Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians, as well as the kings and religious leaders of both Christian Europe and Muslim Asia.
The period of Bahá'í history with which we are concerned in this paper, 1892-1921, covers the ministry of `Abdu'l-Bahá (1844-1921), the son and successor of Bahá'u'lláh. `Abdu'l-Bahá's globalization of the Bahá'í community can usefully be considered in terms of the categories delineated by Jan Aart Scholte. Of the five modalities of globalization that he mentions, four are useful in considering the result of `Abdu'l-Bahá's work: normative, psychological, economic and institutional (the exception being the ecological modality, Scholte 1996, 46). Of course in using Scholte's modalities, we are not drawing comparisons between the present day which Scholte is describing and the time of `Abdu'l-Bahá a century ago. What `Abdu'l-Bahá was striving to achieve would, in terms of today's situation, be considered as a merely embryonic movement towards globalization.