This is dedicated to
(click for larger)
Approved by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Taiwan,
Copyright © Barbara R. Sims, 1994, Tokyo
Digital text (with
minor revisions) © 2001 by Barbara R. Sims
Bahá'í Academics Resource Library
All rights reserved
the early Bahá'ís of Taiwan
that their endeavors on behalf of the Faith
shall not be forgotten
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.
2. Further Beginnings, Including the First
to Taiwan By a Hand of the Cause
The first American travel teachers to make trips to Taiwan were Dr.
David Earl and Lt. Col. John McHenry in 1952, and Mrs. Mildred Mottahedeh with
her Iranian-born husband, Rafi, in 1953.
After the New Delhi Conference in 1953 the Hands of the Cause who attended the
conference visited other areas to assist in the development of the Faith. In
October of that year Mr. Zikrullah Khádem visited Taiwan, the first Hand
of the Cause to do so. Mr. Jerome Chu (Chu Yao-lung) related that he had a
meeting for Mr. Khádem at his home. As a result three people declared
their belief in Bahá'u'lláh: Professor Tsao Li-shih, who was an
instructor of architecture at Taiwan Engineering College; Mr. Hong Li-ming
(Jimmy), the first native-born Taiwanese to become a Bahá'í; and
Mr. Wong Ho-len (Wong Ho-jen). Mr. Khádem was the first Hand of the
Cause to visit Macau during the same trip. He also went to Japan. During the
time he was in Taiwan, Mr. and Mrs. Carl Scherer stopped over on their way to
pioneer to Macau.
When Mr. and Mrs. Suleimani arrived in 1954 they found there was already a
community of ten Chinese Bahá'ís, residing in various areas: in
Taipei (2), Tainan (4), Tao-yuan, Tsoying and Chia-yi. Mr. Suleimani soon met
eight of those Bahá'ís. He and his wife decided to settle in the
southwestern city of Tainan where they rented a two-room apartment.
The first believer in Taiwan was Mr. Jerome Chu, a newspaper man, who had
become a Bahá'í in Washington D.C. in 1945 after being taught by
Mrs. Miriam Haney and Mr. and Mrs. Edwin Barham. Mr. Chu received a letter from
the Guardian which ended with a message in his handwriting, "May the beloved
bless your efforts, guide your steps, remove all obstacles from your path, and
enable you to promote, effectively and under all conditions, the vital
interests of His glorious Faith. Your true brother, Shoghi."
Mr. Chu, in a letter to Mr. and Mrs. Barham in 1953, wrote that the fireside
meetings in the Barham' s apartment were the best times in his life. Mr. Chu
had known Mr. and Mrs. Suleimani in Shanghai in 1949 and they kept in touch.
According to Mr. Suleimani, in 1949 the first four Chinese
Bahá'ís arrived in Taiwan from the mainland to work as government
employees. They were Mr. Chu, Maj. Chien Tien-lee (Maj. Lee L.T. Chang) who
became a Bahá'í in the United States, and Mr. Mason Yuan (Yuan
Mien-hsien) who became a Bahá'í through Mrs. Haney in 1947. Mr.
Yuan told the Suleimanis, "Mother Haney taught me for a whole year every
evening." He said that he had never felt such love and kindness. The fourth
Bahá'í to arrive from the mainland was Mr. Yuan Hsu-chang,
On December 15, 1953 there was an article published in the Chung Hwa
Daily News which had a photo of 'Abdu'l-Bahá and some history and
principles of the Faith. This is no doubt the first publication about the Faith
in a newspaper in Taiwan. The article was written by Mr. Gellan Wang.
who lived in Nanking and became interested in the Faith through his neighbor,
Mr. Chu. Mr. Suleimani had known Maj. and Mrs. Chang (Chien) Lee in Shanghai
where they went when they returned to the Orient. Mr. Suleimani wrote that Mr.
and Mrs. Chang had a Bahá'í marriage ceremony in Denver,
There was another believer in Tainan, Mr. Gellan Wang (Wang Tzu-nan), who had
become a Bahá'í in the United States in 1947. He worked in the
Foreign Office in Taipei.
Hand of the Cause Mr. Khádem on his first trip to Taiwan,
November 17, 1953, with Lt. Col. Yuan Mien-hsien (Mason) and Mrs. Loretta
Scherer. The Scherers stopped at Taiwan on their way to their pioneer post of
Macau. Lt. Col. Yuan had become a Bahá'í in the United States in
The early Bahá'ís, including the three who came into the Faith
through Mr. Khádem in 1953, were quite staunch and their names can be
found in reports of activities in the early years.
Mr. and Mrs. Edwin Barham, described by Miss Agnes Alexander as being teachers of
Mr. Chu and Mr. Wang, received a letter written on behalf of the Shoghi Effendi
by R. Rabbani. It was dated July 28, 1954 and was sent to the Barham's home in
"Your welcome letter of June 21st with enclosures was received, and the
beloved Guardian has instructed me to answer you on his behalf.
"He was delighted to learn of the excellent work Mr. Chu and Mr. Wang are
Naw-Rúz Party at Tainan, 1955
Seated: Mr. Ho Cheng-tzu, Mr. Wong Ho-len, Mrs. Ruthy Tu, Mr. Jerome
Chu, Mrs. Suleimani, Mr. Gellan Wang, Mr. Tsao Li-shih. Standing: Mr. Wang
Chi-chang, Mr. Pai Chung-cheng, Mr. Tai Tung-ko, Mr. S.A. Suleimani, Mr. Liu H.Y. Mr. Luk Yun-shen (Winston), Mr. Cheng Chen-chang, Mr. Hsiao Tsan-chang
doing. Will you please convey to them his loving greetings and the assurance of
his prayers for the success of their work?
"When we realize what promise Formosa holds for the future, and that only a
few years ago the Cause was unknown there, we can truly say miracles happen
before our very eyes!
"The Guardian hopes you will be able to go to Formosa and help establish the
projected assemblies there, and he urges you to keep in close touch with these
two dear Bahá'ís. He is placing the newspaper article you
forwarded in the Mansion Library at Bahji."
The Suleimanis started a study class as the Chinese felt they were not
familiar with some aspects of the Faith. Several months later, on the evening
of Naw-Rúz 1955, four people declared their Faith: Mr. Ho Cheng-tzu of
Chia-yi, who several years later was to become the designer of the Tainan
Bahá'í Center; Mr. Cheng Chen-chang of Taipei, who was in
newspaper work; Mr. Pai Chung-cheng of Tainan; and Mr. Hsiao Tsan-chang
(Johnson) of Chia-yi. Mr. Suleimani wrote that this was the most precious
Naw-Rúz present bestowed on the island. This group was also quite active
through the years.
In May 1955 Mr. Suleimani wrote that Capt. Shih Hung-mok, of Kangshan,
declared his belief at Ridván. He was an active promoter of the Faith
and helped with the printing.
At that time there were eighteen Bahá'ís in six localities, and
it soon climbed to twenty-one believers.
In 1955 Mrs. Suleimani wrote a letter to Rúhiyyih Khánum and
received a warm answer, quoted here in part, "Your most welcome letter of April
6 was received as well as the photographs you sent and I can assure you and
your dear husband that the news you give of the progress of our Faith in
Formosa has brought much joy to the heart of our beloved Guardian. I wish all
the news he gets could make him as happy! ... it is only the good news — such
as you send him — which lifts up his heart and enables him to carry on with
his heavy tasks."
3. The Nikko Conference in Japan and
Mr. Khádem's Second Visit to Taiwan
In November 1955 after the first Asian Teaching Conference in Nikko,
Japan (usually called the Nikko Conference), Hand of the Cause Mr.
Khádem, who represented the Guardian at the conference, paid a second
visit to Taiwan, this time with his wife and a friend of theirs, Miss T.
The Nikko Conference, Nikko, Japan, 1955. It was the first International
Teaching Conference in Asia. There were representatives from Japan, Hong Kong,
Taiwan, Macau, Korea, Guam and the United States. Hand of the Cause Mr.
Khádem, who was the Guardian's representative, is standing behind Mr.
Fujita, who is holding the frame containing the "Greatest Name". Mr. and Mrs.
Suleimani are standing together a little to the left; she is wearing a white
dress. Hand of the Cause Miss Alexander is holding a picture of
'Abdu'l-Bahá. Mr. Harry Yim the only native-born Chinese able to attend
the conference, is standing at the middle rear, between two women. Mr. Anthony
Seto, the first Chinese-American Bahá'í and a pioneer to Hong
Kong, is standing in the back row fourth from the right.
Mr. Suleimani wrote that Mr. Khádem's four-day visit provided the
greatest teaching opportunity for the Taiwan Bahá'ís thus far and
that every day was busy. Together with Mr. Jerome Chu and Mr. Pai Chung-cheng
they visited Mr. Wong Ho-len's house in Tsoying and had a delicious Chinese
style lunch. Mr. Wong had become a Bahá'í during Mr.
Khádem's first visit in 1953. This time Mr. Khádem's visit
coincided with the celebration of the Birthday of Bahá'u'lláh.
Seventeen persons attended, with Mr. Khádem speaking about the history
of the Faith and the importance of this Day.
Mr. and Mrs. Suleimani had also attended the Nikko Conference representing
Taiwan. Unfortunately no Chinese Bahá'ís from Taiwan were able to
attend. However, Mr. Harry Yim went from Macau, the only Chinese
Bahá'í to go. The Suleimanis brought with them a gift for the
Japanese Bahá'ís: a lovely scroll painted in the Chinese style by
Mr. Pai Chung-cheng. Soon after the Suleimanis returned to Taiwan they had
another declaration, Mr. Luk Yun-shen (Winston), whom Mr. Suleimani described
as being a native of Canton.
Mr. Suleimani is showing Mr. Yim from Macau a scroll painted by Mr. Pai
Chung-cheng of Tainan, Taiwan. The scroll was a gift from Mr. Pai to the
Bahá'ís of Japan.
Celebration of the anniversary of the Birthday of
Bahá'u'lláh, 1955. Mr. Khádem is sitting at the end on the
right. Mr. Suleimani is standing at the end behind Mrs. Ruthy Tu.
The Tainan friends say goodbye to Mr. and Mrs. Khádem, standing
second and third from the left, and Miss Haddad kneeling in front of them. This
photo was taken at the Tainan Railway Station.
4. The First Local Spiritual Assembly in
The first Local Spiritual Assembly in Taiwan was elected in Tainan in
1956. Consequently, that Assembly could send a delegate to the first National
Convention of the Bahá'ís of North East Asia to be held the
following year. There were ten Bahá'ís in Tainan at that
The first Local Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of
Tainan, Taiwan, April 21, 1956. Nine of the ten Bahá'ís shown in
the photo constituted the first Local Spiritual Assembly in Tainan. As nearly
as we can deduce the following identification is correct.
Seated: Mr. Wang Chi-chang, Mrs. Suleimani, Mr. Pai Chung-chen, Mrs.
Ruthy Tu, Mr. Tsao Li-shih. Standing. Dr. Ni Jun-chung (ching), Mr. Suleimani,
Mr. Chu, Mr. Winston Luk, Mr. Ho Chung-tzu.
We knew there must be a reason for submitting a photo of the Local
Spiritual Assembly with ten people instead of nine.
We discovered that as there were ten Bahá'ís in the
community they held an election but could not break the tie among all ten.
However, they had been asked to submit a photo to the American
Bahá'í News of their Local Spiritual Assembly as it was one which
would participate in the election of the National Spiritual Assembly of the
Bahá'ís of North East Asia the following year.
They finally wrote to the Asia Teaching Committee of the United States
about the problem. That committee suggested that they draw ten slips of paper;
one being blank. Mr. Suleimani drew the blank slip, but by the next year Dr. Ni
was off and the other nine were elected.
The community elected Mrs. Ruthy Tu (Tu Guan-chiao) as their delegate to the
convention in 1957; however, she wasn't able to attend. Mrs. Tu had the
distinction of being the first woman in Taiwan to accept the Faith (1955). She
originally came from mainland China. According to Miss Alexander, Mrs. Tu was
one of the first women pilots in China.
Mrs. Tu died in 1969. When Mr. Suleimani visited her in the hospital he wrote
that she was very weak but "still perfect in spirit and mind." About twenty
years later her daughter accepted the Faith.
5. A Letter Written on Behalf of the
This is the only letter we know of which was written by the Guardian,
or on his behalf, to the Bahá'ís of Taiwan, although when Mr. Chu
lived in the United States in the 1940s he received a letter from the
6. The First Teaching Conference in
In November 1956 the first Teaching Conference was held, in Tainan.
Attendants numbered nineteen and represented five localities. Miss Agnes
Alexander attended from Japan and stayed for three weeks. She was happy to see
the Suleimanis again as she had first known them in China in 1923 when she went
there with Martha Root. She wrote that every day and night of her visit to
Taiwan was blessed to the last moment. At that time she was an Auxiliary Board
Member of the Hands of the Cause in Asia. At the conference she told of the
introduction of the Faith in China in which Miss Martha Root played a principal
role. Miss Alexander wrote later that the friends in Taiwan with the exception
of one Taiwanese, were all originally from mainland China. At that time Taiwan
was under martial law but the Bahá'ís could have meetings in
Miss Alexander visited Taiwan three times. The second visit was in 1958 and
the third in 1962. The latter two times her visits were as a Hand of the
The first All-Taiwan Teaching Conference, held in Tainan, November 11 and
12, 1956. Miss Alexander (center), who at that time was an Auxiliary Board
Member, attended from Japan. It was her first trip to Taiwan. She stayed for
three weeks to help with the teaching.
7. The First National Convention
of the Bahá'ís of North East Asia, 1957
By direction of Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the
Bahá'í Faith, in 1957 the National Spiritual Assembly of the
Bahá'ís of North East Asia was elected. In his message to the
first convention he wrote, "With feelings of exultation, joy, and pride I hail
the convocation of this history-making Convention of the Bahá'ís
of North East Asia, paving the way for the emergence of a Regional Spiritual
Assembly with an area of jurisdiction embracing Japan, Korea, Formosa, Macao,
Hong Kong, Hainan Island and Sakhalin Island.
"This auspicious event, which posterity will regard as the culmination of a
process initiated, half a century ago, in the capital city of Japan ... marks
the opening of the second chapter in the history of the evolution of His Faith
in the North Pacific area. Such a consummation cannot fail to lend a tremendous
impetus to its onward march in the entire Pacific Ocean..."
The names of Sakhalin Island and Hainan Island were dropped from the
jurisdiction of the National Assembly as it was not possible to travel or teach
in those places. However, both remained goals of the National Assembly to open
to the Faith. In 1959 Mr. John Chang, a resident of Macau, went to Hainan for
two weeks, thereby becoming a Knight of Bahá'u'lláh for opening
that area. Sakhalin was opened in 1990.
A letter written on behalf of the Guardian shortly before the Convention
stated, "The Guardian is looking forward with keen anticipation to the
forthcoming Ridván period, as it marks the establishment of thirteen new
National Assemblies; the most important of which are in the Pacific area..."
Mrs. Ruthy Tu had been elected as a delegate from Tainan to the convention but
unfortunately she was unable to attend. As Mr. and Mrs. Suleimani attended,
Taiwan was represented.
An invitation sent out by a committee of the Local Spiritual
Assembly of Tainan.
8. The Second Local Spiritual Assembly
of the Bahá'ís of Tainan
On April 21, 1957 the Local Spiritual Assembly of the
Bahá'ís of Tainan was elected for the second time. The members
were Mr. Jerome Chu, Mrs. and Mrs. Suleimani, Mrs. Ruthy Tu, Mr. Winston Luk,
Mr. Tsao Li-shih, Mr. Ho Cheng-tzu, Mr. Wang Chi-chang, and Mr. Pai Chung-chien.
Mr. Chu was the chairman and Mr. Suleimani the secretary.
According to an annual report sent for 1957/58 to the parent assembly in
Tokyo, the Tainan Assembly was very active. For example it met regularly, had
study classes twice a week, public meetings every Sunday, conducted a
once-a-week fireside and on Saturday night had a dinner party. All of these
activities were held in the Bahá'í Center. Mrs. Tu also had her
own study class. The Suleimanis made forty-two teaching trips that year to
Taipei, Tsoying and Chia-yi. Mr. Wong Hou-len had a study class at his residence
in Tsoying, and the Tainan Bahá'ís helped.
During 1957 the National Spiritual Assembly of North East Asia appointed Mr.
Jerome Chu and Professor Tsao Li-shih to the Translation Committee of Taiwan.
Their first project was to revise and print one thousand copies of a pamphlet
in Chinese which had originally been translated by the Chinese
Bahá'ís in Kuching, Borneo (now Sarawak), and printed there.
However, Mr. Chu assured the National Assembly the essence of the original
pamphlet had not been changed.
9. The First Bahá'í Summer
September 28 - 30, 1957 the first Taiwan Summer School was held.
About 20 Bahá'ís attended from four localities: Taipei, Tainan,
Tsoying and Chia-yi. Mr. Philip Marangella represented the National Spiritual
Assembly of North East Asia (in Tokyo) and Auxiliary Board Member Carl Scherer
came from Macau. Mr. Shen Chien of Chia-yi, a friend of Mr. Huang Hsi, became a
Bahá'í during the summer school. Mr. Huang had become a
Bahá'í sometime earlier. There were now two Bahá'ís
in that town.
The Bahá'ís were so inspired by the summer school that they sent
a cable to the Guardian. He replied, "Deeply appreciate message assure
attendants fervent prayers success deliberations deepest love Shoghi."
The first Bahá'í Summer School in Taiwan was held
September 28-30, 1957 in Tainan at the Eastern Garden Hotel.
In the first row at the right are Mr. Suleimani and Auxiliary Board
Member from Macau Mr. Carl Scherer. Behind him is Mr. Philip Marangella
representing the National Spiritual Assembly of North East Asia. Mrs. Suleimani
is standing next to him.
As the Faith was not registered, official government permission was necessary
to hold the summer school. Since November of 1955 the Tainan group had been
trying to obtain official recognition of the Faith. According to Mr. Suleimani,
they visited the Tainan mayor's office, the Social Department of the Provincial
Government in Taipei, and the Interior Ministry of the central government in
Taipei. The Social Department head explained that there was freedom of religion
in Taiwan for religious groups which were officially recognized, but that to
date only Christianity, Buddhism and Islam had this status. An appeal was made
in December, 1956 to the Interior Ministry, and Hand of the Cause Mr.
Kházeh with the Suleimanis visited the ministry in the spring of 1957,
but official recognition was not immediately granted. Nevertheless, permission
was later given to hold the Summer School.
The Passing of the Guardian
In November 1957 the Guardian, Shoghi Effendi, passed away. It was so
unexpected that the Bahá'í world, while faithfully and diligently
carrying on the Ten Year Crusade, was in a state of shock.
There were several letters back and forth between the Tainan Local Spiritual
Assembly and the National Spiritual Assembly of North East Asia in Tokyo
concerning this great loss. The Tainan Local Spiritual Assembly, in addition to
having special prayer meetings after being informed of the tragic situation,
arranged for memorial services in Tainan, Taipei and Tsoying. One of the
believers in Chia-yi, Mr. Huang, joined the Tainan memorial services and took
back the spirit to the other Bahá'í who couldn't attend. The
memorial services included prayers in three languages and the reading of a
description of the Guardian's first twenty-five years as written by
Amatu'l-Bahá Rúhiyyih Khánum in The
Bahá'í World, Vol. XI.
The Taiwan community sent a cable of condolence to Rúhiyyih
Khánum which she answered saying that she deeply appreciated their
Following the first Summer School, Mr. Marangella accompanied by Mrs. Tu
visited the Pescadores. They are shown here introducing the Faith to Mr. Fan,
principal of a government school at Mahkong.
10. Hand of the Cause Mr. Jalál
Mr. Kházeh represented the Guardian, Shoghi Effendi, at the first
Convention of the Bahá'ís of North East Asia in Tokyo in 1957.
After the Convention he visited various countries in Asia. When he went to
Taiwan one of his services was to accompany Mr. Suleimani, who on behalf of the
Tainan Local Spiritual Assembly paid a visit to the Ministry of the Interior in
Taipei to determine if they could register the Faith as a religion. The section
chief was sympathetic; however, Mr. Kházeh advised the Local Assembly not to
pursue it at that time as Bahá'í membership was small and it
would not do to get a negative reply. But, he said, let them know about the
A Certificate of Registration was granted to the National Spiritual Assembly
The program of the first Bahá'í Summer School in
11. The First Local Spiritual Assembly of
Keith and Edith Danielsen-Craig, the second couple to pioneer to
Taiwan, arrived April 11, 1958 to settle in Taipei. Their arrival and the
enrollment of Mr. Pershing Wang made it possible to form the Local Spiritual
Assembly of Taipei, which was the second Local Spiritual Assembly in Taiwan.
The nine members were Mr. Pershing Wang, Mr. Yuan Hsu-chang, Mrs. Edith
Danielsen-Craig, Mr. Keith Craig, Mr. Gellan Wang, Mr. Yuan Mein-hsien (Mason),
Hsiao Tsan-chang (Johnson), Mr. Hong Li-ming (Jimmy), and Mr. Shih Hung-mok.
Mrs. Danielsen-Craig was chairman and Mr. Hong was secretary. Mr. Hong,
originally from Chia-yi, was in the army but was released from it the following
year and left Taipei.
The first Local Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of
We can identify the following. Seated from the left: Mr. Keith Craig,
Mr. Yuan Mein-shien (Mason) and Mrs. Edith Danielsen-Craig. Standing: second
from the left Mr. Yuan Hsu-chang, Mr. Gellan Wang, Mr. Hsiao Tsan-chang
(Johnson) and Mr. Hong Lee-ming (Jimmie). We have ascertained that the top far
left and bottom far right are Mr. Pershing Wang and Mr. Shih Hung-mok but we do
not know which is which.
Mrs. Edith Danielsen-Craig was designated a Knight of
Bahá'u'lláh as she was the first Bahá'í to pioneer
to the Cook Islands (1953), which was one of the unopened areas mentioned by
the Guardian at the launching of the Ten Year Crusade.
In Taipei there was much activity after the arrival of the Danielsen-Craigs.
They stayed for three years until 1961, devoting all energies to the
advancement of the Faith. In 1960 Mrs. Danielsen-Craig wrote about the first
youth to enroll, Wang P'u-sheng (Steven), brother of Pershing Wang. She said he
was a quiet, thoughtful boy who was "filled with the love of
In 1959, due to a change in the administrative area, which had the effect of
removing some of the Bahá'ís from the city limits, the Local
Spiritual Assembly was not able to form. Nor could it the year after. In 1961
things had progressed to a point where the Bahá'ís could elect an
assembly, but not the year after that.
In 1963 assisted by the arrival of pioneers Mr. and Mrs. Enger, they were able
to elect the assembly but its status was lost the following year. Then in 1965
an assembly was elected and that status has continued. Taipei had steady
enrollments but much of the problem stemmed from the fact that the active
Bahá'ís tended to move out; many left Taiwan to continue their
studies in the U.S. But then many of the Bahá'ís were quite
internationally minded so it is not surprising that they would try to advance
their education by moving to another country.
Tainan also had a moving population of Bahá'ís but always
managed to elect the local assembly, from 1956 on. Much of this was undoubtedly
due to the steadfastness and stability of Mr. and Mrs. Suleimani. They were
always there, teaching, deepening, making new friends, from the beginning in
1954 to the end of their lives.
12. The Second Bahá'í Summer
In October 1958 the second Bahá'í Summer School was
held in Taipei. It lasted for three days with thirty-three people attending,
including several non Bahá'ís. The Summer School Committee was
pleased that the location was International House, which was newly constructed.
The committee designed an attractive sign-board in both Chinese and English
which was displayed at the entrance.
Hand of the Cause Miss Alexander and Auxiliary Board Member from Macau, Mr.
Scherer, attended. Miss Alexander spoke on the timely subject of the Will and
Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá and the Guardianship.
The Second Taiwan Summer School was held in Taipei, October 10-12,
1958 at the International House. Thirty-three people attended, including Hand
of the Cause Miss Agnes Alexander from Japan.
The photo shows only some of the Bahá'ís who attended.
Auxiliary Board Member Carl Scherer from Macau is standing at the left. Mr.
Suleimani is next to him. Behind him is Mr. Keith Danielsen-Craig. Mrs.
Suleimani is holding the plaque and Miss Alexander is standing next to her.
Mrs. Danielsen-Craig is next. Unfortunately, the other friends are
In 1958 Mr. Wang Chi-chang was elected to be delegate from Taiwan to the
second Convention of North East Asia, but as he could not get the passport he
wasn't able to attend.
The Faith was slowly growing. By April 1958 the number of
Bahá'ís in Taiwan had increased to twenty-two representing five
localities, Tainan, Taipei, Tsoying, Hsin-ying and Chia-yi.
Mrs. Danielsen-Craig conducted a youth study class three nights a week
in Taipei (1958). Three of the young people (two girls and one boy) were
children of a Bahá'í. Two young men were brothers of a
A youth study class at the Tainan Bahá'í Center in 1960.
13. The Third Bahá'í Summer
Dedication of the New Bahá'í Center in Tainan
The Summer School was held in the newly constructed Tainan
Bahá'í Center, October 10 - 12, 1959. It was the first official
use of the new Center. Forty-seven people attended including friends of
From Japan came Mrs. Joy Earl and Mr. and Mrs. Noureddin Mumtazi. Mrs. Earl
acted as chairman of the Summer School. Of course, the four pioneers to Taiwan,
Mrs. and Mrs. Suleimani and Mr. and Mrs. Danielsen-Craig attended.
The highlight of the program was the dedication of the new Center, which was
designed by Mr. Ho Chung-tzu and supervised by Mr. Wang Chi-chang. Mr.
Suleimani wrote that Mr. Pai Chung-cheng introduced him to the land owner and
that Mr. Chung Yin-ching (a non-Bahá'í) helped legally with the
purchase of the
Some of the participants of the third Taiwan Summer School, October 10
to 12, 1959.
Middle of front row: Mrs. Behjat Mumtazi, Mrs. Joy Earl and Mr.
Noureddin Mumtazi attended from Japan.
The main event of the Summer School was the dedication of the
Bahá'í Center in Tainan.
Top photo: the main entrance. Bottom photo: part of the main hall.
land. The Center was uniquely attractive but very practically arranged.
Uncountable activities were held in it through the years and it played host to
countless visitors. Negotiations for the purchase of the land had taken years
on the part of the Suleimanis. The land and building were a donation from this
devoted couple. They were the caretakers of the Center until they both died;
she in 1981 and he in 1987.
Celebration of the Anniversary of the Birth of
Bahá'u'lláh, November 12, 1959. Mr. and Mrs. Suleimani are at the
right. We can see some of the early Taiwan Bahá'ís standing at
14. The Early 1960s and Visits of
Hands of the Cause
Miss Alexander and Dr. Muhajir
In November 1960 there was a two-day All-Taiwan Summer School, the
fourth for Taiwan. As there were no visitors from abroad most of the classes
were taught by Chinese Bahá'ís which was a good experience for
After the Summer School there was enough interest for Taipei to establish a
Travel teacher Muhammad Labib visited in 1961, with his daughter Lily, and he
was successful in teaching as he was everywhere he went, causing the Local
Spiritual Assembly of Taipei to write to the National Spiritual Assembly of
North East Asia to send another such pioneer to Taipei. Mr. Labib, who was
originally a pioneer to Japan, visited Hong Kong as well as Taiwan, but he had
visa problems and could not stay for any length of time.
In 1961 Mr. Suleimani sent a list of Bahá'ís in the southern
area. There were thirteen adults in Tainan, which included three women, Mrs.
Tu, Mrs. Suleimani
The Tainan Bahá'ís and their friends celebrate
Naw-Rúz 1961. Especially satisfying was to see so many young people.
Mrs. Kao (Yang Su-su), newly declared, is holding the "Greatest
and Mrs. Kao (Yang Su-su) whose husband was also a Bahá'í. Also
included were two youth, both young women. It seems that finally the teaching
was reaching women.
In 1962 Hand of the Cause Miss Alexander visited Taiwan for the third time. Of
that trip she wrote, "When we reached the Center in Tainan I could not get over
my delight at the lovely Center with flowers surrounding it. I was there for
eleven days, each day full. I came to know the Taiwanese people and truly loved
them. Now there are quite a number of Bahá'ís in Tainan, five in
one family (the Yang family) declared their faith at the same time. The last
evening I met the parents for whom I felt a great love. As they were in the
country under the Japanese they know the language so we could speak together.
They are not Bahá'ís but their children are.
Mr. Suleimani wrote that Miss Alexander's visit was a source of inspiration
to all the friends and it culminated in one declaration, Mr. Wu Pin-chen of
This photo was taken on the occasion of the Anniversary of the Birth of
the Báb, October 20, 1962, at the Tainan Bahá'í
Mr. Suleimani is standing at the far right. Dr. David Earl is standing
in the center. Mrs. Ruthy Tu is sitting second from the left and Mrs. Suleimani
is sitting second from the right.
thereby opening that area to the Faith. By 1966 there were enough
Bahá'ís in Pingtung to form an assembly of which Mr. Wu and his
wife were members.
Later that year one of the daughters of Mr. and Mrs. Yang, a middle school
student, spoke at a picnic gathering for young people at the
Bahá'í Center in Tainan. About thirty people were present to hear
her speak of the history and principles of the Faith.
In April, 1962, there were one Assembly, three groups and six isolated
centers. The Local Assembly of Taipei could not be formed that year due to too
few members and so became a group.
With the arrival of American pioneers Dale and Barbara Enger in August 1962
activity increased in Taipei, where they settled.
Dr. Muhajir first came to Taiwan in February 1963. The next year, 1964, he
came twice and in 1966 twice. He continued to visit Taiwan, for how many times
it is difficult to determine. During his second trip he had meetings with the
Hand of the Cause Dr. Muhajir (standing fifth from the left) during his
second visit to Taiwan, March 1964. This photo was taken at the
Bahá'í Center in Tainan.
every day and evening. He visited Pingtung, Che Lu-chien and some of the
indigenous people. He spoke at a school in an aboriginal village in San Ti Man
district. He encouraged the Bahá'ís to go out into the
countryside and talk to the people. He was of the opinion that mass conversion
could be started in Taiwan. In his later visits he said that all emphasis must
be on the goals of the various Plans given by the House of Justice. At his
encouragement the community took steps forward in the areas of teaching,
contacting the aboriginal groups, in acquiring a Center for Taipei,
accomplishing the goals of the Nine Year Plan and the Plan given to Taiwan
after the election of its own National Assembly, and having teaching
conferences. Dr. Muhajir met with all of the friends and committees and
outlined practical plans for the advancement of the Faith, not only in Taiwan,
but in all areas he visited. His impact on the growth of the Faith in Asia can
hardly be assessed in this generation.
In April 1963 the Bahá'ís in Taiwan attempted an extensive
proclamation in connection with the 100th Anniversary of the Proclamation of
Bahá'u'lláh. From London, which was the site of the first World
Congress, press releases were sent which were translated into Chinese and were
given to all newspapers and radio stations, resulting in several newspapers
publishing the information and two radio stations broadcasting it. Mr.
Suleimani said it was the first time such a wide proclamation was attempted.
There was a well-attended Proclamation celebration at the Tainan
In Taipei, at the same time, there was a meeting which was reported to have
had "good coverage in the Chinese newspapers."
Two days after the meeting, on April 23, the Suleimanis and Mr. Chu left
Taiwan to attend the first World Congress in London. It appears that Mr. Chu
might have been the only native-born Chinese to attend the Congress, although
at least one Chinese-Singaporean and some Chinese-American
Bahá'ís also attended.
In November 1963 two Summer Schools were held, one in Taipei and one in
Tainan. The classes were conducted by the resident Bahá'ís.
One of the goals of the Ten Year Plan for India was to translate
Bahá'í literature into several Chinese languages. The National
Spiritual Assembly of India wrote to the National Spiritual Assembly of North
East Asia asking for assistance. That Assembly then contacted the Local
Spiritual Assembly of Tainan asking if they could find a way to translate any
of the languages. That Assembly found a professor in a Foreign Language
University who knew Mongolian (one of the languages specified), and he was able
to translate The Bahá'í Message
, writing it in Mongolian script,
so it was ready for photo offset printing. It happened to be ready in February
1963 at a time when Dr. Muhajir was in Taiwan. As he intended to go on to India
he suggested that he take it and deliver it in person to the Publishing Trust
15. The First Bahá'í
Marriage in Taiwan
On January 18, 1963, under the auspices of the Tainan Local Spiritual
Assembly, the first Bahá'í marriage was performed at the Tainan
Bahá'í Center. The bride was Miss Yeh Chon-ching and the groom
Mr. Yang Su-thou. Mr. Yang was a member of the Tainan Local Spiritual Assembly
and five members of his family were Bahá'ís. Twenty-two friends
attended the wedding celebration.
Official government recognition of the Bahá'í marriage was
obtained in 1973.
The bride, Miss Yeh Chon-ching and the groom Mr. Yang Su-thou are
standing to the left. Mr. Suleimani in the middle, Mr. Jerome Chu (officiating)
and Mr. Kao Ching-seng. Mr. Suleimani and Mr. Kao were witnesses from the Local
Spiritual Assembly of Tainan. Prayers were said in four languages.
Mr. Yang was active in the National Teaching Committee of Taiwan and was
a member of the Tainan Local Spiritual Assembly for some years in the early
16. Bahá'í Literature in
There were several books and pamphlets in Chinese which had been
translated many years earlier on the mainland by Dr. Tsao Yun-siang, President
of Tsing Hua College, and Mr. Liu Chan-song. Dr. Tsao translated
Bahá'u'lláh and the New Era
, which was printed about 1931,
and Paris Talks of 'Abdu'l-Bahá
in 1932. Both men translated
Some Answered Questions
independently but Dr. Tsao's was printed. There
were other books and pamphlets. Due to the devastation of World War II, most of
the translated and printed books of Mr. Liu were lost with only a few copies of
his edition of The Hidden Words
that he had given away surviving. As for more
recent literature, a prayer book printed in Macau in 1956 and a pamphlet
printed in Kuching, Sarawak, in the mid-fifties was available. The early books
were not generally available to the Bahá'ís, as there weren't
As the Faith progressed it became increasingly important and necessary to have
literature in Chinese. With this in mind, in 1958 the National Assembly
appointed a Translation and Reviewing Committee. Mrs. Danielsen-Craig was
secretary of the committee, and although she couldn't speak Chinese she was
instrumental in getting the work done. Within two or three years several
pamphlets and books were produced.
The basic pamphlet first printed in Kuching was revised and reprinted in 1957.
Mr. Chu, who did this revision, worked on the committee for several years after
it was appointed.
Bahá'u'lláh and the New Era
was revised and reprinted in
1960. The committee printed 500 and gave one copy to every Bahá'í
in Taiwan. They had about sixty left which were immediately ordered by other
countries in South East Asia. It was decided to print an additional 1,000,
realizing how great the need was for literature in Chinese. A new prayer book
was printed in 1961 using prayers from the one printed in Macau and adding
some. The smaller one was also available.
By 1962 there were five basic pamphlets available in Chinese in Taiwan,
translated from ones in English: The Bahá'í Faith
, Basic Facts of the Bahá'í Faith
, Bahá'í Teacher's Manual
The old version of Paris Talks
by 'Abdu'l-Bahá was revised and
1,000 reprinted in 1963. It was printed again, 2,000 copies, in 1966. The New
was a new translation done by Mr. Tsao Li-shih printed in 1965. Also in
1965 another pamphlet, One Universal Faith
was printed, 1000 copies. It
was a good beginning.
The Taiwan Bahá'í Publishing Trust was established in 1972, The
number of books and the attractive quality of the printing is now
Some of the early pamphlets printed in Taiwan available by 1962.
Bahá'í Answers (lower left) was translated in 1958 by Mr. Mason
Yuan (Yuan Hien-hsien) who became a Bahá'í after being taught by
Mrs. Miriam (Mother) Haney in Washington D.C. many years earlier. That pamphlet
of 2500 copies was financed by the Taipei pioneers.
17. The Nine Year Plan, 1964 -1973
In the original Nine Year Plan given to the National Spiritual
Assembly of the Bahá'ís of North East Asia by the Universal House
of Justice, several goals were assigned regarding Taiwan: to establish a
National Spiritual Assembly and incorporate it; to raise the number of
localities where Bahá'ís reside to thirty; to increase the number
of Local Spiritual Assemblies to nine; to acquire a National Endowment and a
National Hazíratu'l-Quds; to incorporate three Local Spiritual
Assemblies; to obtain recognition from the civil authorities of the
Bahá'í Marriage Certificate; and to acquire a Temple site in or
When the National Spiritual Assembly of Taiwan was elected in 1967, the
unaccomplished goals were passed on to the new Assembly, and more were
included. They did eventually accomplish all the goals of the Nine Year
In 1964 statistics given out for Taiwan were: two Local Spiritual Assemblies
and seven groups.
1965 started out auspiciously with the enrollment of Miss Hung Bao-fung, who
was a friend of Miss Jean Cheng. Miss Hung was the first declared believer in
Kaohsiung according to Mr. Suleimani.
A report was sent to the National Assembly in Tokyo in April of that year
stating that the Taiwan Bahá'í community now consisted of about
one hundred believers residing in 25 localities; a considerable advance over
the previous year.
Teaching Conferences and Summer Schools seem to have been held every year
since they began in 1956 and 1957 respectively. In 1965 a Summer School was
held in both Tainan and Hualien for the convenience of the friends. There were
many new Bahá'ís in Hualien who needed deepening.
18. Appointment of the National Administrative
Committee and Further Advances
In June 1965 a large committee called the National Administrative
Committee was appointed for Taiwan. It would handle the activities of the Faith
in Taiwan, which included taking charge of translations and publishing,
planning teaching activities, planning a summer school, establishing a news
bulletin and other duties. It was felt that Taiwan was far from Tokyo and as
Taiwan would have its own National Assembly in a few years, such a committee
would be very effective in handling the advancement of the Faith in that
important area. The members were from among the most active
Bahá'ís on the island. Similar administrative committees were
appointed in Korea and Hong Kong a few years before their National Assemblies
During 1965 teaching seemed to pick up considerably. Many youth came into the
Faith that summer. According to some of the reports received during the month
of April there were ten youth and six adult enrollments; in May eleven youth
and four adults; in June thirty-eight youth and thirty-nine adults; in July
twenty-nine youth and thirty-five adults; in August twelve youth and
twenty-eight adults. The pace kept up. From April 1965 to April 1966
enrollments reached more than four hundred; about half youth and half adults.
There were still two Local Spiritual Assemblies, twenty-six groups, and
thirteen isolated localities, a total of forty-one localities. Mr. John Huston
and Mrs. Orpha Daugherty took the Faith to two indigenous tribes, the Ami and
the Taroko, resulting in many declarations.
Part of this expansion was due to more pioneers such as Mr. Huston, who spoke
Chinese, and Mr. Charles Duncan, who the previous year had been appointed
Auxiliary Board Member by Hand of the Cause Miss Alexander. Mr. Duncan was a
Knight of Bahá'u'lláh for first pioneering to Brunei in 1954.
Auxiliary Board Member Orpha Daugherty, a pioneer to the Philippines, also came
to Taiwan to help with the teaching. Mrs. Daugherty was a warm, caring person
who pioneered successfully in several countries in Asia. It is recorded that
she gave a talk at International House for the Naw-Rúz Celebration, with
fifty people attending. It had been announced in the English-language
newspaper. In July of that year Mr. G.V. Tehrani, pioneer to Japan, visited
Taiwan for three weeks, going to seven different places for teaching.
Mrs. Abbie Maag moved to Taipei that year. Mr. and Mrs. Dale Enger pioneered in
Taiwan 1963/1964; Dr. and Mrs. Sidney Dean 1966/1967; Mrs. Mehri Molin helped
the community very much from 1968 on. There were also others. Mr. Duncan said
the sudden expansion of the Faith could not have happened but for the
willingness of the Chinese Bahá'ís to go with the pioneers and
translate for them. The
Chinese also learned more about teaching the Faith. Mr. Duncan left Taiwan in
1967 to pioneer to Korea.
Mr. Yankee Leong, the first Bahá'í in Malaysia, and Auxiliary
Board Member Mr. Leong Tat Chee from Malaysia came to Taiwan in 1965. They
could only stay two weeks due to visa problems. They were to come back in the
future with great results.
In October 1965 Dr. Muhajir met with the National Administrative Committee and
talked about teaching, deepening, gifts of books to schools, libraries and
prisons, putting ads in the newspapers, and having correspondence courses. The
committee made plans to go ahead with his ideas.
Mr. Yankee Leong, Miss Len Yuk Hua and Mr. Charles Duncan. Miss Len was
a dancer belonging to the Ami tribe. She had just accepted the Faith. The photo
was taken in Hualien, summer of 1966.
Dr. Muhajir had suggested that the community have a two-day Regional Teaching
Conference. It was held in December 1965 in Taipei with representatives from
Japan, Korea, Hong Kong and Malaysia. About twenty-five people attended the
sessions. According to a report sent by Mrs. Bernice Wood, who represented Hong
Kong, Mr. Chu spoke about the Faith in China, Mr. John McHenry spoke about
Korea and Mr. Tsao Kai-min gave a talk on religions in the Far East. The final
evening was devoted to a public meeting. It was well advertised in
English-language and Chinese-language newspapers. There were about fifty
guests. Miss Wood said there was a Chinese man who had found a book about the
Faith in a book shop but he didn't know how to contact the
Bahá'ís until he read about the meeting in the newspaper. After
hearing a moving (translated) talk by Mr. Marangella, the man, with tears in
his eyes, wanted to declare his Faith immediately.
In October of that year a memorial service was held in Taipei for Mr. Jason
Yeh (Yeh Chin-hsing), the first Bahá'í to die in Taiwan.
Mr. Duncan wrote an account of Mr. Yeh's illness in an Auxiliary Board Member
report to Hand of the Cause Miss Alexander. With Mr. Duncan's permission we are
repeating it here.
Mr. Duncan received a telephone call from Mrs. Liu, a non-Bahá'í
friend of John Huston. Mr. Huston was not in town so she spoke to Mr. Duncan.
She said she and her husband had a friend, Mr. Yeh, who had kidney cancer and
was not expected to live more than a few weeks. He was worried about the
condition of his soul after death. He had studied Christianity but thought it
was too exclusive. He did not believe in the superstitions of Buddhism so Mrs.
Liu told him about the Bahá'í Faith although she herself had not
become a Bahá'í. Mr. Yeh wanted to know more about the Faith and
that was why she had telephoned.
Mr. Duncan visited Mr. Yeh every day. On the second day Mr. Yeh signed his
enrollment card. The next day his wife became a Bahá'í and two
days later, his brother declared. Mr. Yeh's wife said to Mrs. Liu, "We have
always been such good friends and have done everything together but now
something is separating us. Why don't you become a Bahá'í?" The
next day Mrs. Liu declared her Faith and started telling her friends about
Mr. Duncan said he often recited the long Healing Prayer for Mr. Yeh. Mr. Yeh
was assured of life to come and although he had some fears about dying, he was
greatly comforted. He died a few weeks later.
During Ridván in 1966 two more Local Spiritual Assemblies were
formed, in Hualian and Pingtung, making a total of four. By December of that
year, due to diligent teaching there were twenty-seven groups, sixteen isolated
centers, making a total of forty-seven localities. Total number of believers
was four hundred eighty-eight which included both adults and youth.
That year, in October, the Trustee of the Huqúqu'lláh. Hand of
the Cause Mr. Varqá, appointed Mr. Suleimani as the representative of
the Trustee for the Huqúqu'lláh in the Far East and the Pacific.
The Law of Huqúqu'lláh was not generally applied at that time,
but according to Mr. Varqá there were some among the Persians who
The Local Spiritual Assemblies of Pingtung and Hualien, elected in 1966,
were the third and fourth Local Assemblies to be elected in Taiwan. Shown here
is the first Local Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of
Seated: Mrs. Wu Ping-chen, Mr. Chung Ching-tan, Mr. Wu Ping-chen, Mr. Wu
Wen-jen, and Mr. Lee Liang-tung. Standing. Mr. Wang Ching-ian, Mr. Chiu
Chung-shao, Mr. Huang Hai-tan and Mr. Wen Lung-fui.
There were many visitors that year, among them Hands of the Cause Mr.
Featherstone, Dr. Muhajir and Mr. Samandari. Mr. Featherstone visited Taiwan
for the first time in May 1966, for one week. Each day he went to one or two
different Centers throughout the island, including Taipei, Tainan, Keelung,
Pingtung and Hualien accompanied by Mr. Wang Tseng-min. Mr. Featherstone also
attended a special session of the National Administrative Committee at
He visited Taiwan at other times, also. In 1972 during a visit he presented
Bahá'í literature to Mr. Henry Kao, Mayor of Taipei.
Hand of the Cause Mr. Featherstone, seated far left, visits the
Pingtung Bahá'í community in 1966.
Hand of the Cause Mr. Featherstone in Taipei in 1966. Seated: in the
middle, Mrs. Suleimani, next to her is Mrs. Abbie Maag, who was pioneering in
Taipei. Standing: second from the left is Dr. Soraya who was an Auxiliary Board
Member from Indonesia, Mr. Suleimani and Auxiliary Board Member Mr. Charles
Duncan. Mr. Featherstone is fourth from the right and Mr. John Huston is second
from the right. Unfortunately we cannot identify the Chinese
This picture of Mr. Featherstone, standing far right, and other friends,
was probably taken in 1972 when he visited Hualien.
20. Hand of the Cause
Mr. Tarázu'lláh Samandari
Mr. Samandari arrived in Taiwan October 25, 1966, accompanied by
Auxiliary Board Member Mr. Rouhollah Mumtazi. Mr. Suleimani described it as a
unique experience for everyone as his presence linked them with the early days
of the Faith. Mr. Samandari at age sixteen had attained the Presence of
Bahá'u'lláh. He spent the first six days in Taipei and met with
the Local Spiritual Assembly and with the National Administrative Committee.
One of the problems in Taiwan was the Chinese written characters used for the
word "Bahá'í" and other words associated with the Faith. During
meetings with Mr. Samandari the National Administrative Committee came to some
permanent solutions to the problem.
Frequent meetings with the friends were scheduled for Mr. Samandari, including
one in Mr. Mark Lin's (Lin Fang-nan) house in Hsing-Tien. The Hand of the
Hand of the Cause Mr. Tarázu'lláh Samandari on a visit
to the Tainan Bahá'í Center in 1966.
Cause spent several days in Tainan, staying at the Bahá'í Center.
He met with the Local Spiritual Assembly of Tainan and accompanied by three
friends he visited Pingtung and met with the Local Spiritual Assembly, and then
continued on to the village of Lung-chi to see the Bahá'ís.
Back in Taipei a public meeting was held for Mr. Samandari with forty people
attending. He spoke on the necessity of Divine Education. Then to Hualien,
where he met with members of the Local Spiritual Assembly. He left for Hong
Kong on the 11th of November.
The Bahá'ís in Taiwan felt that the visit of Mr. Samandari
created a new spirit and that the friends would serve the Cause of God with
21. The Háziratu'l-Quds in
One of the goals of the Nine Year Plan which was given to the
National Spiritual Assembly of North East Asia was the acquisition of a
National Hazíratu'l-Quds in Taipei. The National Spiritual Assembly of the United States was to assist with this goal.
At the encouragement of Dr. Muhajir the Bahá'ís of Taipei found
a suitable site. It was an apartment on the third floor of a new building in a
good location. The purchase price was US$9,000, which was a considerable sum in
those days. The National Spiritual Assembly of the United States paid US$6,000
and the rest came from the National Spiritual Assembly of North East Asia and
donations. It was bought in time to hold the Naw-Rúz celebration there
in 1967. The first National Convention, the same year, was held in it.
The National Hazíratu'l-Quds in Taipei is on the third floor of
this building. This photo was taken not long after its purchase in
22. The First and Second National
of the Bahá'ís of Taiwan, 1967 and 1968
The Universal House of Justice wrote to the parent assembly, the
National Spiritual Assembly of North East Asia, that it attached great
importance to the formation of the National Spiritual Assembly of Taiwan
because it was the first National Assembly to be formed in Chinese territory.
The House also assigned Hand of the Cause Dr. Muhajir to represent it at the
Dr. Muhajir was not able to leave the Philippines in time to attend the
convention so he asked Auxiliary Board Member Mr. K. Payman from Indonesia to
attend in his place.
The convention was also attended by representatives from the National
Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of North East Asia: Mr. Philip
Marangella, Mrs. Barbara Sims, Mr. Hideya Suzuki and Mr. Hiroshi Yamazaki.
Auxiliary Board Members Mr. Rouhollah Mumtazi and Mr. Charles Duncan also
The four Local Spiritual Assemblies that had delegates assigned were Taipei
(7), Tainan (6), Hualien (4), and Pingtung (2), making a total of nineteen
delegates. Eighteen ballots were cast. Twelve delegates were present and six
ballots were received by mail. It was recorded that there were about 500
Bahá'ís in Taiwan at that time.
The members of the first National Spiritual Assembly of the
Bahá'ís of Taiwan were Mr. Robert Yen, Mr. Kuo Rong-hui, Dr.
Sidney Dean, Mrs. Isabel Dean, Mr. Tsao Kai-min, Mr. Huang Tsen-min, Mr. S.A.
Suleimani, Mrs. Ridvaniyyih Suleimani and Mr. Huang Ting-sheng.
The Universal House of Justice sent a special message to the new National
Spiritual Assembly, giving them several new goals. Some of the goals were left
over from the original Nine Year Plan, but many of the new goals were for a
larger and more consolidated community which Taiwan had become. For example,
they were to raise the number of localities where Bahá'ís reside
to one hundred; raise the number of Local Spiritual Assemblies to twenty;
establish a Teaching Institute with the assistance of the National Spiritual
Assembly of Malaysia; and to extend teaching among the aboriginal people.
Another goal was to acquire a site on which to build the future
Mashriqu'l-Adhkár. The land was purchased in 1972 and recorded in 1978;
9920 sq. mtrs. in the town of Lin Kou, near Taipei. Another piece of land was
purchased in Lin Kou which counted as an Endowment, the acquisition of which
was also a goal.
That fall it was necessary to have two by-elections. The first by-election was
due to the resignations of Mr. Tsao Kai-min and Mr. Huang Ting-sheng. Their
replacements were Mr. Kit Yin-kiang and Mr. Lin Yi-mou.
Mr. Kit had just come from Malaysia. He was fulfilling a goal given
to the National Spiritual Assembly of Malaysia to send a Chinese-speaking
pioneer to Taiwan.
Dr. and Mrs. Dean left Taiwan that fall. There appears to have been one or two
more by-elections with the final result of Mrs. Elizabeth Yen and Mr. Shan
Yi-chian being elected to the National Assembly for that year.
In November 1967 Mr. Suleimani wrote to the secretary of the National
Spiritual Assembly of North East Asia, Mrs. Sims, that they had a successful
celebration of the 150th Anniversary of the Birth of Bahá'u'lláh
in both Taipei and Tainan. This was a joint effort of the Taipei and Tainan
communities. Three hundred invitations were sent out and one hundred people
attended. A brief announcement was made by Tainan Victory Radio and the Taiwan
Daily News. It was a joyous event.
The First National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of
Taiwan, 1967. Sitting: Mrs. Isabel Dean and Mrs. Ridvaniyyih Suleimani.
Standing: Mr. Kuo Rong-hui, Mr. Robert Yen, Dr. Sidney Dean, Mr. S.A. Suleimani,
Mr. Tsao Kai-min and Mr. Huang Tsen-min. Missing member is Mr. Huang
There were prayers, greetings, speeches, Bahá'í songs,
entertainment and refreshments.
That month Hand of the Cause Mr. A.Q. Faizi paid a brief visit to Taiwan.
Later in a letter he wrote to the friends in Taiwan, he mentioned his
appreciation of the Bahá'í community, especially Mr. Chu, who
translated for him. He also wrote that he would never forget the smiling face
of Mr. Kit and praised him for pioneering to Taiwan from Malaysia.
Mr. Suleimani reported that at the second Annual Convention, 1968, elected to
the National Assembly were three Chinese (Mr. Lin Yi-mou, Mr. Yu Hsih-ho and
Mr. Huang Ting-sheng), one American (Mr. John Huston), one Briton (Mrs.
Elizabeth Yen), one Chinese-Malaysian (Mr. Kit Yin-kiang) and three Iranians
(Mr. and Mrs. Suleimani and Mrs. Mehri Molin). The backgrounds were quite
The first National Convention of the Bahá'ís of Taiwan,
1967, was attended by several members of the National Spiritual Assembly of the
Bahá'ís of North East Asia and by Auxiliary Board Member Mr. K.
Payman. Front row from the left: Mr. Lin Yi-mou, Mr. Loren Dzen, Mr. Peng
Fu-fa, Mr. Yu Hsih-ho, Mr. Charles Duncan and Mr. Wu Wen-jen. Middle row: Mr.
Rouhollah Mumtazi, Mrs. Isabel Dean, Mr. Philip Marangella, Mrs. Ridvaniyyih
Suleimani, Mrs. Ruthy Tu, Mr. Suleiman A. Suleimani, unidentified. Back row:
Mr. Hideya Suzuki, Mr. John Huston, Mr. Heshmat Vahdat, Mr. K. Payman, Mr. Kuo
Rong-hui, Mrs. Barbara Sims, Mr. Richard Hatch, Ms. Hung Hoh-tsu, Dr. Sidney
Dean, Mr. Robert Yen, Mr. Byron Larson and Mr. Hiroshi Yamazaki.
racially, culturally, and in religious affiliation; however, he said, they
functioned as one family.
The years 1968/1969 were dedicated to proclaiming the Mission of
Bahá'u'lláh to the various heads of states in the world. The book
The Proclamation of Bahá'u'lláh
was given to President
Chiang Kai-shek. He graciously acknowledged receipt of the book through his
Director of the First Bureau Office.
In 1968 the Universal House of Justice appointed a new institution called the
Continental Boards of Counsellors. Mr. Rouhollah Mumtazi, of Japan, was one of
Counsellors appointed for this area. He appointed Mrs. Ridvaniyyih Suleimani as
an Auxiliary Board Member in Taiwan. She was also a member of the National
Spiritual Assembly and was one of the few Auxiliary Board Members who were
allowed to continue to serve on a National Spiritual Assembly. She remained a
member of the Auxiliary Board until 1973.
Delegates to the second National Convention of the Bahá'ís
of Taiwan, 1968. Seated in front, from the left: Mr. Kit Yin-kiang, Mr. Peng
Fu-fa, Mr. Wang Tseng-min, Mr. Chen Ron-hsen. Middle: Mrs. Mehri Molin with her
child, Mrs. Elizabeth Yen, Mr. John Huston, Mrs. Orpha Daugherty, Mr. Leong Tat
Chee and Mrs. Ridvaniyyih Suleimani. Rear: unidentified, Mr. Kuan Ku, Mr. S.A.
Suleimani, Major Liang, unidentified, unidentified and Mr. Yu Hsih-ho. Mrs.
Daugherty and Mr. Leong, who were visiting Taiwan, were not
The second National Spiritual Assembly of Taiwan, 1968. Front: Mrs.
Mehri Molin, Mrs. Elizabeth Yen, Mrs. Ridvaniyyih Suleimani. Rear: Mr. Kit
Yin-kiang, Mr. John Huston, Mr. Yu Hsih-ho, Mr. S.A. Suleimani, Mr. Lin Yi-mou
and Mr. Huang Tsen-min.
Mrs. Barbara R. Sims, secretary of the National Spiritual Assembly of
North East Asia seated in Tokyo, Japan, represented that body at the first
convention of the Bahá'ís of Taiwan. After the convention she and
Auxiliary Board Member Mr. K. Payman visited Bahá'ís in other
cities accompanied by Mr. Kuo Rong-hui (left). This photo was taken at a
village near Hualien and shows one of the elders of the village and a young
Bahá'í who accompanied the visitors. Mrs. Sims recalls showing
her teaching album which had some Japanese explanations. Some of the villagers,
especially the older ones, could not speak Mandarin Chinese but she could
communicate with them in Japanese which they had learned during the Japanese
23. Some Events in the Later
A Certificate of Registration of the National Spiritual Assembly of the
Bahá'ís of Taiwan, issued by the government, December 8,
Hand of the Cause Collis Featherstone is shown presenting
Bahá'í literature to Mr. Henry Kao, Mayor of Taipei, May
Mr. Suleiman A. Suleimani is shown accepting an award from His
Excellency Lee Teng-Hui, the governor of Taiwan, May 28, 1982. The award
honored Mr. Suleimani's "contribution to the religious welfare of the people of
Taiwan". The presentation was made in a ceremony before an audience of 1,000
people. Awards were also given to representatives of several other major
religions. Mr. Lee later became President of the Republic of China.
Universal House of Justice member Mr. Hugh Chance with his wife
Mrs. Margaret Chance visited Taiwan briefly in 1983, greatly encouraging the
friends. They are standing in front of the picture frame. Kneeling at the right
hand of Mr. Chance is Mr. David Huang who was the first Chinese appointed
Counsellor for Taiwan.
Amatu'l-Bahá Rúhiyyih Khánum (in the center wearing
a white veil) in Taiwan, August 1988, at an Auxiliary Board Conference. Also
present were three Counsellors, Mrs. Shanta Sundrum (to the left of
Rúhiyyih Khánum), Mr. Bijan Farid (top row, fifth from the left
wearing glasses) and Mr. Rouhollah Mumtazi (second row second from the
The Chief of the Beinan (Puyuma) Tribe, Mr. Chen Wen-sheng, accepted the
Faith in 1990. He was the first tribal chief of an indigenous people in Taiwan
(and greater China) to become a Bahá'í. His son, Mr. Chen
Chien-hong, the next hereditary chief also accepted the Faith at the same time.
Chief Chen is shown here in tribal dress in the Holy Land in 1992 when he
attended ceremonies commemorating the one hundredth Anniversary of the
Ascension of Bahá'u'lláh.
Names generally in order of appearance in the text
early Bahá'í in mainland China; translated several books including Bahá'u'lláh and the New Era
into Chinese in the 1930s; he was never in Taiwan to our knowledge.
Chu Yao-lung (Jerome)
born on the Chinese mainland; declared in the United States in 1947; moved to Taiwan in 1949; thought to be the first resident believer in Taiwan; on the first Local Spiritual Assembly of Tainan, 1956.
declared in 1953 through Hand of the Cause Mr. Khádem; on the first Local Spiritual Assembly of Tainan, 1956.
Hong Li-ming (Jimmy)
declared in 1953 through Hand of the Cause Mr. Khádem; the first Taiwan-born person to become a Bahá'í; on the first Local Spiritual Assembly of Taipei, 1958.
resided in Tsoying; declared in 1953 through Hand of the Cause Mr. Khádem.
Chien Tien-li, Cheng or Chang Tien-lee, Lee Chang
declared in the United States; moved to Taiwan in 1949; one of the first Chinese to have a Bahá'í marriage (in Denver, Colorado, U.S.A. in the middle or late 1940s).
Yuan Mien-hsien (Mason)
declared in the United States in 1947; moved to Taiwan in 1949; on the first Local Spiritual Assembly of Taipei, 1958.
Yuan Hsu-chang, Yuan Chui-chang
on the first Local Spiritual Assembly of Taipei, 1958; originally from Nanking; declared there through Mr. Chu in the late 1940s; moved to Taiwan in 1949.
Wang Tzu-nan (Gellan)
declared in United States in 1947; on the first Local Spiritual Assembly of Taipei, 1958.
resided in Kangshan and Taipei; declared May 1955; on the first Local Spiritual Assembly of Taipei, 1958; withdrew from the Faith several years later.
Ho Cheng-tzu, Ho Chung-tzu
resided in Chia-yi and Tainan; declared Naw-Rúz 1955; on the first Local Spiritual Assembly of Tainan, 1956; designed the Tainan Bahá'í Center.
Tu Guan-chiao (Ruthy)
the first woman to declare in Taiwan, 1955; on the first Local Spiritual Assembly of Tainan, 1956.
on the first Local Spiritual Assembly of Tainan, 1956.
Pai Chung-cheng, Pai Chung-chien
declared Naw-Rúz 1955; on the first Local Spiritual Assembly of Tainan, 1956.
Luk Yun-shen (Winston)
originally from Canton; declared in 1955; on the first Local Spiritual Assembly of Tainan, 1956.
Cheng Chung-chan, Cheng Chen-chang
resided in Taipei; declared Naw-Rúz 1955.
Hsiao (Siao) Tsan-chang (Johnson)
resided in Chia-yi and Taipei; declared Naw-Rúz 1955; on the first Local Spiritual Assembly of Taipei, 1958.
early Bahá'í of Tsoying, before 1955.
Yim Pui-foung, Yen P'ei-feng (Harry)
the first Chinese Bahá'í in Macau, 1954.
Anthony Seto [no image]
the first Chinese-American Bahá'í; he and his American wife pioneered to Hong Kong in 1954; he died in Japan in 1957 after attending the first National Convention of North East Asia.
became a Bahá'í in 1955; he was on the first Local Spiritual Assembly of Tainan, 1956; withdrew from the Faith some years later.
Chang Shao-tsai (John)
became a Bahá'í in Macau, 1955; translated an early prayer book into Chinese; became a Knight of Bahá'u'lláh for opening Hainan Island, 1959.
resided in Chia-yi; became a
Bahá'í at Summer School in 1957.
resided in Chia-yi; introduced Mr. Shen to the Faith.
Wang Pu-cheng (Pershing)
declared in 1958; on the first Local Spiritual Assembly of Taipei, 1958.
Wang P'u-sheng (Steven)
brother of Pershing Wang; first youth to enroll in Taipei, 1960.
the first Bahá'í in Pingtung; on the first Local Spiritual Assembly of Pingtung,
Mrs. Kao (Yang Su-su)
Yeh Chon-ching [no image]
Mr. Yang and Miss Yeh had the first Bahá'í marriage in Taiwan, 1963.
early Bahá'í in mainland China; translated much literature into Chinese; he was never in Taiwan to our knowledge.
first declared believer in Kaoshiung, 1965.
Jean Cheng, Cheng Mei Jean
member of the Local Assembly of Tainan, 1964; she introduced Miss Hung to the Faith.
the first Chinese-Malaysian believer; first Counsellor of Chinese ancestry.
Leong Tat Chee
early Chinese-Malaysian believer; Auxiliary Board Member; with Yankee Leong travel-taught throughout the Orient.
Len Yuk-hua [no image]
early Bahá'í (1966)
belonging to the Ami tribe.
Yeh Chin-hsing (Jason) [no image]
the first Bahá'í to die in Taiwan, 1965.
Mrs. Wu Ping-chen
above mentioned eight names, along with Mr. Wu
Ping-chen who is listed earlier, were members of the first Local Spiritual Assembly of Pingtung, 1966.
Lin Fang-nan (Mark)
resided in Hsing-Tien, enrolled in March 1965; had meetings in his house for Hand of the Cause Mr. Samandari, 1966.
Yen Chih-hsiung (Robert)
Kuo Rong-hui (Peter)
Wang Tseng-min, Huang Tsen-min
the above five persons were elected to the first National Spiritual Assembly of Taiwan, 1967. Mr. Wang Tseng-min (Huang Tsen-min) was also on the second National Assembly, 1968.
Kit Yin-kiang, Ji Sheng-jiang
pioneer to Taiwan from Malaysia in 1967; elected to the first National Spiritual Assembly in a by-election, 1967; also on the second National Assembly, 1968.
delegate to the first Convention; elected to the first National Spiritual Assembly in a by-election, 1967; also elected to the second National Spiritual Assembly, 1968.
elected to the first National Spiritual Assembly in a by-election, 1967; also elected to the second National Assembly, 1968.
elected to the first National Spiritual Assembly in a by-election, 1967.
Yu (Yiu) Hsih-ho
present at the first Convention; delegate to the second and elected to the
second National Spiritual Assembly, 1968.
delegate to both the first and the second Convention.
Peng (Perng) Fu-fa
present at the first Convention; delegate to the second.
Hung (Hong) Hoh-tsu
delegate to the first Convention.
delegate to the second Convention.
delegate to the second Convention.
delegate to the second Convention.
Chief of the Beinan (Puyuma) Tribe.
son of Chief Chen Wen-sheng; the next hereditary chief of the Beinan Tribe.
The Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith, Shoghi Effendi, at the beginning of his Ten Year Crusade, which was the first Global Plan, listed various areas where there were Bahá'í communities which needed to be consolidated. To the American Bahá'í Community, the chief executor of the Crusade, he gave the goal of consolidation of several areas in Asia, among which were Korea, Japan, Taiwan and the Philippines. Hong Kong was assigned to the British Isles.
The first Chinese believers in Taiwan were brought into the Faith by American Bahá'ís while studying or training in the United States during the late 1940s. However, the first pioneers to Taiwan were Iranian Bahá'ís, Mr. Suleiman A. and Mrs. Ridvaniyyih Suleimani. This devoted couple spent most of their lives serving the Chinese, on the mainland and in Taiwan.
In 1958 the American pioneers, Mr. Keith and Mrs. Edith Danielsen-Craig, arrived. They were followed in the 1960s by other Americans: Mr. Dale and Mrs. Barbara Enger, Mr. Charles Duncan, Mr. John Huston, Mr. Charles and Mrs. Wynn Bush, Mr. Henry Jarvis, Dr. Sidney and Mrs. Isabel Dean, Mrs. Abbie Maag and Mr. and Mrs. Harvey Redson. Mrs. Mehri Molin, an Iranian, played a prominent part in the 1960s. Some of the travel-teachers in those early days include Mr. Jack Davis, who in later years settled in Taiwan, Mr. Carl and Mrs. Loretta Scherer, Mr. Muhammad Labib, Mr. G.V. Tehrani, Dr. William Maxwell, Miss Tyshon Clark (Davis), Mrs. Orpha Daugherty, Dr. David and Mrs. Joy Earl, Mr. Noureddin and Mrs. Behjat Mumtazi, Mr. Rouhollah Mumtazi, Miss Agnes Alexander, Mrs. Barbara Sims and Miss Ruth Walbridge. The Malaysian Bahá'ís Mr. Yankee Leong and Mr. Leong Tat Chee visited as well, and the first Malaysian pioneer, Mr. Kit Yin-kiang, arrived in 1967 and is still at his post (1994). There were other pioneers and travel teachers through the later years.
Many years have passed since the times of which we have written. The principal figures, whether Chinese or pioneers, have, for the most part, gone.
This is mainly a chronology with photos that we could find to accompany it. The purpose of this chronicle is, of course, to preserve the past as much as possible for the future generations.
Interestingly enough, most of the research was done in the extensive files of the National Bahá'í Archives of the National Spiritual Assembly of Japan, archives which were inherited from the National Spiritual Assembly of North East Asia and some of which were collected by the compiler. Taiwan (Formosa) was under the jurisdiction of the National Spiritual Assembly of North East Asia from its formation in 1957 until 1967 when the National Spiritual Assembly of Taiwan was elected. We also spent several days going through the archives held at the Bahá'í National Office in Taipei, Taiwan, whose staff was very helpful, while other friends kindly supplied recollections and photos. The Taipei records included
the Suleimani papers. It is of the early days in the 1950s and 1960s which we have written, especially before and a few years after the election of the Universal House of Justice. The later days have been amply recorded through reports and correspondence with the World Centre. The compiler was secretary of the National Spiritual Assembly of North East Asia from 1959 to 1970 so she had a familiarity with the subject, as she wrote and received the letters. In those early days travel was a luxury she seldom indulged so although she attended the first convention (1967) she laments that she could not have gone earlier and made personal acquaintance with the friends of whom she has written. Consequently, aside from Mrs. Danielsen-Craig, the Suleimanis and some of the Americans whom she knew, for the most part the early Bahá'ís emerge as faces and names without depth or personality.
If this chronical is devoid of assessment, critique or analysis, it is because the compiler felt she could not do more than supply a chronology with as many details as possible and as many photos as she could find that contributed to the text.
The correct transliteration of names caused problems for the compiler as did the proper Chinese written characters. Some of the latter were unrecorded, hence unavailable. Thanks to much sleuthing through files and photos and the help of the friends in Taiwan we have decided upon the proper, or most familiar, transliteration and have indentified a good number of written characters. Consequently there is a special section at the end for names. The discovery of each character represented a victory, as in those early days correspondence was carried out in English and often the Chinese involved gave themselves anglicized first names with simplified or arbitrary spellings of family names so as to make it easier for their foreign friends — albeit more difficult for historians!
We could not find photos of Hands of the Cause Mr. Kházeh or Mr. Faizi which were taken while they were in Taiwan; however, we were able to find at least one photo of all the other Hands of the Cause who visited.
Barbara R. Sims
Tokyo, Japan, 1994
- Bahá'í World Volumes XII, XV, XVII, XVIII
- Bahá'í News' of the 1950s and 1960s
- Malaysian Bahá'í News, September 1966, June 1967
- Letters, reports, documents and photographs from the National Bahá'í Archives of Japan and the National Bahá'í Archives of Taiwan; photographs from the National Bahá'í Archives of the United States; photographs from individual collections; photographs and a chronology of events sent by the Department of Library and Archival Services at the Bahá'í World Centre, Haifa.
- The Six Year Plan — Summary of Achievements (1993)