Countries With The Largest Bahá'i Populations

The Bahá'í Temple of Haifa, Israel.
The Bahá'í Temple of Haifa, Israel.

The Bahai (Bahá'í) religion was founded in the 19th Century in Iran by Bahá'u'lláh. It grew out of Babi religion in Qajar Persia before spreading to adjacent countries and finally to the rest of the world. The members of the faith were estimated to have reached 5 to 6 million in the early 21st century and ranks as the second most geographically widespread religion in the world after Christianity. The countries which did not have followers of this religion by the year 2008 were only North Korea and the Vatican City. The religion is, therefore, a global religion with India having the largest membership subscribing to this faith.

1. India

India has the world’s largest population of Bahá'í people approximating 1,897,651 members by 2015. India’s Bahá'í population represents about 40% of the total Bahá'í population distributed in about 200 countries and territories. The history of the religion dates back to 1860s when two members of Afnan clan living in Bombay became Bahá'í’s religious converts. A Bahá'í teacher was sent to Bombay in 1872 and that marked the beginning of the religion in India. The religion grew because of the nature of the progressive philosophies that it adopted. Initially, the target group was elite members of the society in Bombay, but it later became universal. It also started with several local independent units which were subsequently united in 1923 through the formation of the National Spiritual Assembly.

2. United States

The Bahá'í Faith in the United States was introduced around 1845/46 with the first record of the religious group being made in 1846 by the New York Mirror. The estimated Bahá'í population is 512,864 by 2010 and it is the second largest religion in the state of South Carolina (2014). The Bahá'í Faith spread slowly throughout the US states with the integration of the leadership into a national assembly which enabled effective governing. The first national convention was held in 1909 and was attended by 39 delegates from 36 states. The Star of the West periodical was established in 1910 but was later replaced by Bahá'í News in 1924. The periodicals were essential in spreading the message to the members and potential followers. The religion is both in mainland US and the islands like Hawaii and Alaska. The teachings of Bahá'í Faith was done through tablets that were written by the founder Bahaullah and were compiled into Tablets of the Devine Plan.

3. Kenya

The origin of Bahá'í Faith in Kenya can be traced to 1945 arrival of Mrs. Marguerite Preston, and since then, the religion has been expanding with an estimated population of 422,782 (2010). In 1950/51 missionary activities in Tanganyika, Kenya, and Uganda were initiated by the Bahá'ís in the United Kingdom. The religion grew fairly fast, and by 1963 there were 118 local assemblies, 346 groups, and 131 isolated Bahá'ís. The first election of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Kenya was conducted in 1964, and a songbook was subsequently produced in 1973 “Tuimbe Pamoja, Baadhi ya Nyimbo za Bahá'í.” The primary teachings of Bahá'í faith were centered on making the life of humans better through empowering the poor through education, health promotion, and development of water sources.

Countries With The Largest Bahá'i Populations

RankCountryBahá'i Population, 2010
1 India1,897,651
2 United States512,864
3 Kenya 422,782
4 Vietnam388,802
5 Congo, Democratic Republic of the282,916
6 Philippines275,069
7 Iran251,127
8 Zambia241,112
9 South Africa 238,532
10 Bolivia 215,359
11 Tanzania190,419
12 Venezuela169,811
13 Uganda95,098
14 Chad94,499
15 Pakistan87,259
16 Burma (Myanmar)78,915
17 Colombia70,504
18 Malaysia67,549
19 Thailand65,096
20 Papua New Guinea59,898

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