Bahá’ís in the Middle East

Authored by: Geoffrey Cameron , Nazila Ghanea

Routledge Handbook of Minorities in the Middle East

Print publication date:  October  2018
Online publication date:  September  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138649040
eBook ISBN: 9781315626031
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9781315626031-13

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Abstract

In numerical terms and in the human rights understanding of the term, Bahá’ís constitute a minority religious community in each of the Middle Eastern states. Yet the self-perception of Bahá’ís strongly departs from many of the characteristics that are commonly associated with minority populations. 2 On the one hand, Bahá’ís consider the world as “one country,” and all peoples as members of that same global community. On the other, their faith tasks them—wherever they may reside—with obedience to the government and with working for the social development of their communities in collaboration with friends and neighbors. The Bahá’í vision of the future is an optimistic one, emphasizing the collective maturation of humanity and the inevitable establishment of universal peace. This optimism deeply influences their sense of belonging in Middle Eastern states (as elsewhere) and their lack of fear regarding their survival and long-term future. It stands in sharp contrast with what an impartial observer may consider their prospects in light of their history in parts of the region, the repression they have faced and continue to face in some of the states, and their numerical profile in each of them. This contrast between status and perception in relation to the Bahá’ís in Iran, Egypt, Iraq, Bahrain, and Jordan constitutes a dominant theme in this chapter.

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