Taiwan is an island off the southeast coast of China, approximately
36,000 sq. km. (13,900 sq. mi.) in area. It was known in the West as Formosa
(beautiful), so named by Portuguese mariners four centuries ago.
The population consists of indigenous islanders of Malay descent, islanders
who arrived generations ago from the Chinese mainland, and mainlanders who
settled in the late 1940s and early '50s. In 1965 (in the period relevant to
this book) the population numbered about 11 million; currently it is over 21
In 1895, at the end of the Sino-Japanese war, Taiwan was ceded to Japan, which
held it until the end of the Second World War. In 1949 and over the next few
years, following internecine struggles on the mainland, nearly two million
refugees reached the island. Since then, Taiwan's largest city, Taipei, has
been the seat of the government of the Republic of China, which comprises
Taiwan and several smaller islands including the Pescadores.
1. The Beginning
Taiwan was listed by the Guardian, Shoghi Effendi, as being a
consolidation goal in the Ten Year Crusade (1953-1963). This goal was given
to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United
States to implement. That assembly was given several consolidation goals in the
Orient: among them were Japan, Korea, the Philippines and Macau. Hong Kong was
given to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the
Bahá'ís of Shanghai in the early 1930s. Standing left to
right: Mr. S.A. Suleimani, Mr. Hossein Touty, Dr. Tsao Yan-siang, Mr. Husayn
Ouskouli and his son Qudrat.
Seated left to right: Mrs. Ridvaniyyih Suleimani (one of Mr. Ouskouli's
daughters), Mrs. Elin Tsao, Mr. OuskouIi's mother Sarah, and Mr. Ouskouli's
other daughters, Ruhania and Jalalia.
In 1954 the first pioneers to Taiwan, Mr. Suleiman A. and Mrs. Ridvaniyyih
Suleimani arrived. They were to spend the rest of their lives there.
The Suleimanis, originally from Iran, had lived for about 28 years in Shanghai
where Mrs. Ridvaniyyih Suleimani's father, Mr. Husayn Ouskouli (Uskuli or
Uskui), had long resided and conducted a business. In 1935 Mr. Ouskouli visited
Taiwan, according to a letter he wrote to Shoghi Effendi from Shanghai. He was
on a business trip to buy tea. He took some Bahá'í books in
Chinese which he gave to a number of people, although the results are unknown.
He was probably the first Bahá'í to set foot on the island.
Mr. and Mrs. Suleimani left Shanghai permanently in 1950 because of the
difficult situation in China for foreigners. But Mr. Ouskouli decided to stay,
earning the admiration of the Guardian. A letter to Mr. Ouskouli from the
Guardian, written on his behalf by R. Rabbani, dated July 1, 1955,
"Shoghi Effendi was very, very happy to hear from you after all these years,
and to know that you are well, and still in Shanghai.
"He wants you to know that he admires your wonderful, selfless devotion to the
Blessed Beauty, and the way you have remained in Shanghai, the land of your
choice, through all the changes the years have brought. He also greatly admires
your devoted daughter and son-in-law.
"He hopes you will keep in good health, and that you will keep with success in
your work, and assures you of his prayers.
(In the Guardian's handwriting) "May the Almighty bless your highly
meritorious efforts, guide and sustain you in your historic task, and enable
you to enrich the record of your splendid services. Your true brother
Mr. Ouskouli died in Shanghai in 1956 at the age of eighty-two.
After leaving China, Mr. and Mrs. Suleimani first went back to Iran and then
were able to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. The Guardian was urging people
to attend the Fourth Intercontinental Conference in New Delhi in 1953 and the
Suleimanis regarded it as a privilege to be able to attend. It was at that
time, Mr. Suleimani wrote, that they were inspired to pioneer to Taiwan, a
consolidation goal of the Ten Year Crusade. They arrived by ship in Keelung
October 22, 1954.
This is thought to be the first Bahá'í pamphlet in the
Chinese language. It was prepared and distributed by the Shanghai
Bahá'ís in 1917.