The world-embracing vision and principles of the Bahá'í Faith have attracted individual Malaysians from a broad cross-section of the Malaysian society. All across the country, Bahá'í communities work actively alongside friends and neighbours to engage and empower individuals to take charge of their spiritual, social, and intellectual development. We aspire to raise capacity in individuals so that they become positive agents of change, working towards building sustainable communities and strengthening bonds of fellowship.
Bahá'ís are strongly committed to the principles ordained by Bahá'u'lláh, the Prophet Founder of the Bahá'í Faith—principles such as the oneness of humanity, the equality between women and men, the harmony between science and religion, the abolishment of prejudice of all kinds, and universal education, among others.
The Bahá'í Faith has been part of the history of Peninsula Malaysia for sixty-five years. In December 1953, Mrs Shirin Fozdar, a Bahá'í from India, visited Malaya and gave a series of public talks in Seremban, Malacca and Kuala Lumpur. These were organised and accompanied by Mr Yan Kee Leong whom she had met at the Gandhi Memorial Peace Conference in India in 1958.
At the end of the week long tour, Mr Yan Kee Leong accepted the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh to become the first believer in the country. Very quickly many other people who attended the talks also began to join the activities. They in turn shared the new message with more friends. Slowly, groups began to be formed in other parts of the country, in Penang, Kedah, Johor.
When Malaya became independent, the Bahá'í message of universal peace and oneness of humanity found the people very ready to embrace unity and brotherhood.
In time, Bahá'í Centres were established in places where there are Bahá'ís to better serve the needs of the wider community. With more resources available, it became possible to support the activities of cooperation with individuals, groups, organisations in local, state or national levels towards aims that Bahá'ís share with others such as universal education, literacy, equality, human rights and more interfaith harmony and understanding.
In the early 50’s, while enroute to Brunei, Bahá'í pioneers Charles Duncan and Harry Clarke visited Labuan and Jesselton. Although their stay in this northern part of Borneo was short, it is believed that the seeds of the Faith have
already been planted in this region. One of the earliest publicity for the Faith in Sabah has come from the “North Borneo News” of August 1953 – The first proclamation of the Bahá'í Faith in Sabah.
In the early 1960s, Margaret Bates, who was also a Bahá'í pioneer, came to Jesselton from Brunei. There she worked as a nurse at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. This was followed by Dr John Fozdar and his family in June 1961. In a short time, Dr John Fozdar got to know many people in Jesselton. He travelled extensively in the western part of Sabah to places such as Papar, Kota Belud, Tamparuli, Ranau and Tenom. Dr John and family, later moved to Sandakan in early 1962 and became the first believers in Sandakan. Within a year, there was a sizeable Chinese Bahá'í Community in Sandakan. His services were not only limited to the progress of the Faith alone. There, he has also contributed much for the benefit of the population at large in his professional work as a surgeon in Duchess of Kent Hospital, and worked towards the improvement in hospital accommodation and other facilities.
Today, the Bahá'í Community of Sabah is represented by the multicultural diversity of the State, including the local indigenous people such as the Kadazan-Dusuns, Muruts, Tombonuo, Rungus, Ibans, Tobilung, Kimaragang and others in Kota Kinabalu, Penampang, Pitas, Kota Marudu, Sandakan, Tawau, Ranau, Beaufort, Keningau, Papar, Labuan, Lahad Datu and Tuaran.
As Bahá'ís throughout the world – both individually and collectively – strive to become involved in the life of society and contribute to the advancement of material and spiritual civilization, the Bahá'í Community of Sabah is also working shoulder to shoulder actively alongside with their friends and neighbours to engage and empower individuals and communities to take charge of their spiritual, social and intellectual development for the betterment and well-being of the society. The community host gatherings, unite together in prayer, in one another’s homes and Bahá'í Centres. The community also has an important role to play in the spiritual and moral education and capabilities of children and youths. The Bahá'í Community of Sabah also engages in discourses and programmes and has established close ties with government agencies, like-minded NGOs, as well as society at large to address challenges facing individuals, families, communities and society as a whole. They also participate actively in promoting interfaith harmony with fellow faith-based organizations.
The history of the Bahá'í Faith in Sarawak began in 1951. Today, some 50,000 strong Sarawak Bahá'í community is spread across over 120 localities in the state representing the cross section of the population of various ethnic, cultural,
and socio-economic background.
Bahá'ís in these thriving communities, together with their friends and neighbours, actively engage in contributing to the betterment of their towns and villages. Inspired by the principles of teachings of Bahá'u'lláh, they work hand in hand to build communities through a range of programmes which nurture the moral capabilities of children and youth, develop spiritual character of neighbourhoods and build capacity in individuals to serve society.
Over the years, the Sarawak Bahá'í community has established close ties with the government agencies and like-minded NGOs. They participate actively in promoting interfaith harmony with fellow faith-based organisations and contribute towards development programmes, which include education and literacy as well as the promotion of the advancement of women and gender equality. This resonates with the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh which call us to be active protagonists in the promotion of peace and prosperity in society. The Bahá'í community in Sarawak is now administered by the Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Sarawak.