Babi-Baha'i Studies UK

Stephen N. Lambden,

In progress 2015-7 :  last updated 07-08-2017.


Edward Granville Browne (1862-1926). 

  • Encyclopedia Iranica :
  • Nash, Geoffrey P.  Edward Granville Browne and the Persian ‘Awakening’ in From Empire to Orient: Travellers to the Middle East, 1830–1926. London: I. B. Tauris, 2005.
  • Christopher Buck,
  • John Gurney, forthcoming
  • Moojan Momen, forthcoming ...

Edward Granville Browne (= EGB) was born in Uley (Gloucestershire) at his father's birthplace and grandfather's house on February 7th 1862 but was speedily returned to the home of his parents (Sir) Benjamin Chapman Browne (1839-1917) and Ann Browne (née, Atkinson, 1838-1929) in or near Newcastle upon Tyne (North East England). There he spent his formative years living at 2 Granville Road in Jesmond, Newcastle upon Tyne (a large property now divided into several substantial flats). As a young teenager EGB became enamoured with Turkey, Turks and the Turkish language coming also to study Persian and other languages on his own or with private tutors. He loaned books and a Persian grammar from the Newcastle upon Tyne Literary and Philosophical Society Library located near the railway station in central Newcastle. 

It seems that EGBs first knowledge of the religion founded by Sayyid `Ali Muhammad Shirazi, the Bab (1819-1850) came about on July 30th 1886 when he checked out a French volume of the self-styled Comte Joseph Arthur de Gobineau (b. 14th July Ville-dAvray 1814-d. Turin 13th Oct. 1882) entitled Les religions et les philosophies dans l'Asie centrale (1st ed. Paris 1865).

On reading this volume penned by the amateur scholar, diplomat and orientalist,  Gobineau, EGB became entralled and enraptured by the Bab later all but confessing his faith in this emergent religion. Though he never exactly became a Babi, Azali (patisan of Mirza Yahya Nuri c. 1813-1892, the one time succesor of the Bab) or a Baha'i (follower of Mirza Husayn `Ali Nuri, Baha'-Allah 1817-1892), he devoted much of his time from 1887 until his passing, to the collection of Babi and Baha'i scriptural and historical texts and to their study and analysis. During his `Year Amongst the Persians' (Sept. 1887-1888; 1st ed.1893) he spent much of his time with Babis or Baha'is and  avidly collected, analyzed and made preliminary study of such Persian and Arabic texts as became available to him. From the later 1880s he published papers and books in this field and gave public presentations about the Babi-Baha'i religion(s). In Cambridge and Newcastle upon Tyne in the late 1880s he delivered talks about matters Babi-Baha'i to the general public, to groups of friends and to academic colleagues.  

EGB met Baha'-Allah, the founder of the Baha'i religion, four or five times in Bahji (near Acre and Haifa, Palestine) around 1890 and left an eloquent and now very well-known pen portrait. He also met his half-brother Mirza Yahya Nuri in Cyprus and his eldest son and successor `Abbas Effendi, `Abd al-Baha' (d. 1921) on numerous occasions.  He wrote pen-portraints of the latter and for many years corresponded with and wrote an obituary of `Abd al-Baha' whom he met several times during his western traves (1912-3).

Having studied medicine at St. Bartholemew's Hospital (London) and taken the Indian Languages Tripos at the prestigious University of Cambridge, EBG ...

EGBs writings, personal contacts and huge correspondence greatly assisted in making the Babi-Baha'i religions known internationally. The study of his published books and papers contributed markedly to the emergence of academically informed Babi-Baha'i studies in the UK from the 1960s and to some extent earlier.   

Hasan M. Balyuzi (b. Shiraz Feb. 7th 1908 - d. London Feb. 12th 1980) son of Mirza `Ali Muhammad Khan Muvaqqar al-Dawlih (d. 1921).


THE DECADE 1970-1980.

During the decade 1970-1980 UK Baha'i intellectual life was awakened amongst a small group of young Persian and British born Baha'is. Several of these young men eventually embarked upon professional careers or university training within the humanities continuing on to do doctoral research centering upon Shaykhi or Babi-Baha'i studies. Quasi-academic then fully academic Baha'i Scholarship in the UK has its origins in southern England (though there are earlier roots and sporadic uprisings).

It should be born In mind in reading the materials set forth below, that the viewpoints expressed are often now dated and no longer exactly the perspectives of the individuals referred to or who allegedly voiced them.  Perspectives and viewpoints voiced thirty or more years ago can now be regarded as limited, temporary or evolving viewpoints. The discussions were foundational but were not always sound or in accord with contemporary standards or more evolved scholarly perspectives. 

Some Brief, Introductory Biographical Notes and sources pertinent to the persons involved in the emergence of academic Baha'i scholarship in the UK from the 1970s.

Peter Smith (born 19XX, Yorkshire, England, raised Bristol, resided Lancaster UK., then Bangkok, Thailand)

From the early 1970s Peter Smith was a foundational figure in the emergence of academic Baha'i scholarship in the UK. He bacame a Baha'i in 1964 when living in Bristol, England.... 


Denis M. MacEoin  (born 1949, Belfast, Northern Ireland... Newcastle upon Tyne, UK)

Denis MacEoin joined the Baha'i religion in northern Ireland in 196X and became one of the most prolific champions of an academic Babi-Baha'i scholarship. He has claimed to be "the first Western Baha'i to address himself to the study of Persian and Arabic", and "for that purpose he headed for Edinburgh University in Scotland, where he studied Arabic under Pierre Cachia, Qur'an under William Montgomery Watt, and Persian under Laurence Elwell-Sutton". He subsequently travelled to Jordan, Turkey, and Iran, where he studied at Shiraz University. In 19XX he successfully submitted his doctoral thesis, `From Shaykhism to Babism: A Study in Chasismatic Renewal in Shi`i Islam' now availble in his magnum opus, the massive compilation of much of his work in Babi-Baha'i studies, `The Messiah of Shiraz :Studies in Early and Middle Babism (Leiden Brill, 2008).

From 1979-80, he taught, among other things, Islamic Civilization, and Arabic-English translation at Mohammed V University in Fez, Morocco. In 1981 he became a lecturer in Arabic and Islamic Studies at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne which post was "abolished in 1986 by its Saudi sponsors, who disliked the fact that he was teaching subjects such as Sufism and Shi'ism". MacEoin "then became an Honorary Fellow at the Centre for Middle East and Islamic Studies at Durham University, not far from Newcastle, and continued to research and write, publishing numerous articles, encyclopedia entries, and books over the years. He has published extensively on Islamic topics, contributing to the Encyclopaedia of Islam, the Oxford Encyclopaedia of Islam in the Modern World, the Encyclopaedia Iranica, the Penguin Handbook of Living Religions, journals, festschrifts, and books, and has himself written a number of books".

See further :

Moojan Momen (born  Iran, educated England).

"Dr. Moojan Momen was born in Iran, but was raised and educated in England, attending the University of Cambridge. He is an MD and has a special interest in the study of the Baha'i Faith and Shi'i Islam, both from the viewpoint of their history and their doctrines. In recent years, his interests have extended to the study of the phenomenon of religion. His principal publications in this field include: Introduction to Shi'i Islam (Yale University Press, 1985); The Babi and Baha'i Faiths 1844-1944: Some Contemporary Western Accounts (George Ronals, Oxford, 1982) and The Phenomenon of Religion (OneWorld, Oxford, 1999). He has contributed articles to Encyclopedia Iranica and Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World as well as papers to academic journals such as the International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, Past and Present and Iran and Reilgion. He is a Fellow of the "Royal Asiatic Society and a member of the British Society for Middle Eastern Studies", the "Society of Iranian Studies", the "British Association for the Study of Religion," and "The Association for Baha'i Studies." (Extract from CV). He now has a role in the care of the Afnan Library (located near his home in Bedfordshire), which was originally established as the private library of the late Hasan Balyuzi (see above).

See further :

Stephen Lambden (born Reading, Berks., UK., 1951 resided Newcastle upon Tyne + Athens, Ohio; Merced, California).

Stephen Lambden first encounted the Baha'i religion around 1966 and became a Baha'i in Reading, Berkshire in 1969. It was from the late 1960s that he began collecting Baha'i books and amasing and writings notes, papers and bibliographies.  From the early 1970s he had his first contacts with the other young Baha'is mentioned above who came to be involved in UK intellectual life and academic scholarship. After doing a degree in Religious Studies at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne and having acquired some knowledge of biblical Hebrew, Greek, Syriac, Arabic and Persian,  in 1982 he commenced doctoral research with Denis MacEoin working on the thesis, `Some aspects of Isrā'īliyyāt and the emergence of the Bābī-Bahā'i Interpretation of the Bible'. Due to serious illness this thesis had to be postponed for more than a decade and was not completed until 2002, nineteen or twenty-year after commencement.  From 1999 until 2008 he had a research position at the University of Athens, Ohio (USA) where he occasionally lectured. He subsequently became a faculty member of the University of California, Merced (USA), where he now continues his Babi-Baha'i researches and uploads notes and papers to his new UCMerced `Hurqalya Publications' website.

See further

The first proto-seminar gatherings of Baha'i intellectuls and their associates in the UK.

It was laregly young British persons who joined the Baha'i religion in the 1960s who came  to organize small gatherings for the discussion of issues centered, for the most part, within Babi-Baha'i history spanning the 19th and 20th centuries. They were keen Baha'i and related book collectors and were often engaged in the writing of bibliographies.

Academically oriented Baha'i Studies seminars were loosely and sporadically organized in England (UK) from the early-mid. 1970s.  Small groups of Baha'i intellectuals met to discuss (for the most part) issues of Babi-Baha'i history. They were to some degree inspired by (among others) the publications of the Cambridge Orientalist  E. G. Browne (d. 1926). Certain persons including  Moojan Momen, Denis MacEoin and Peter Smith, were directly or indirectly encouraged by the personal and literary example of Hasan Balyuzi (1908-1980).

Between  c. 1977 and 1980  academically oriented Baha'i Studies seminars took place at the University of Lancaster (England, UK.,) or the then  home of the British scholar Peter Smith, resident in Lancaster (now at Univ. Mahidol, Thailand). Informal Baha'i groups studying the Baha'i religion  at varying academic levels have subsequently been meeting in Britain since the early-mid. 1970s up until today. For the last 30 years or more many (often bi-annual) seminars have been organized in Baha'i Centre or the University of Newcastle upon Tyne by Stephen N. Lambden,  often with the assistance of  Moojan Momen and others.

Peter Smith and the Lancaster University Baha'i Studies Seminars 1977-1980 

  • Peter Smith and the Lancaster University Baha'i Studies Seminars 1977-1980 (BSB 1:4. 92-3). PDf. Lancaster 1977-80.pdf

The Cambridge Seminars of the Late 1970s convened by Denis MacEoin and Moojan Momen.

  • Programme of the First Cambridge Baha'i Studies Seminar on Methodology and Ethics, St. John's College, 30th Sept. - Oct. 1st, 1978. PDf. Cambridge I Programme 1978.pdf
  • Cambridge Baha'i Studies Seminar on Methodology and Ethics' 30th September - 1 October 1978. Report by Denis MacEoin. October 1978. Cambridge 1978.pdf
  • Letter of the Universal House of Justice  and Comments of the Research Dept. addressed to the Participants in the 1978 Cambridge Seminar. PDf. UHJ January 1979.pdf
  • Responce of the above Cambridge Seminar Communication dated April 20th 1979. PDf. MM April 1979.pdf
  • Peter Smith Letter of 29th May 1979. PDf. Smith Lancaster May 1979.pdf
  • A further Responce of the Universal House of Justice to the above Cambridge Seminar Communications dated July 18th 1979. PDf. UHJ Letter July 18 1979.pdf 
  • Invitation to the Second Cambridge Baha'i Studies Seminar on Methodology and Ethics. PDf. Cambridge II Invitation 1979.pdf
  • Report of the Second Cambridge Baha'i Studies Seminar on Methodology and Ethics, St. John's College, 15-16th September, 1979. PDf. Cambridge II 1979.pdf
  • The Letter sent from the above Cambridge seminar to the Universal House of Justice (Haifa, Israel) and the Responce of its Research Department. PDf. Cambridge II Letter to UHJ.pdf

THE DECADE 1980-1990.

The Meeting with Hasan Balyuzi in  late 1979 or early 1980.

Towards his latter days Hasan Balyuzi arranged to meet with about eight Baha'is involved in Babi-Baha'i researches. They included Abbas Amanat, Stephen Lambden, Moojan Momen, Viva Tomlin  ... He counselled them to remember that Babi-Baha'i studies was in its infancy and that many important historical and scriptural texts needed to be studied and put into context.

It was from the early 1980s that academic Baha'i scholarship found something of a centre in Newcastle upon Tyne in the NE of England where E.G. Browne spent his formative years and where he is buried. From 1982-3 University supported Babi-Baha'i Studies seminars were held annually and sometimes bi-annually in addition to other such gatherings as Gender Studies seminars and the Irfan Colloquim events at each of which academic papers were presented and discussion and analysis was freely induged in. Held at venues associated with the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, the Newcastle Baha'i Centre ( 40 Victoria Square, Jesmond) and elsewhere, participants were sometimes less than ten though occasionally around thirty or more. Many leading Baha'i scholars presented at the Newcastle seminars as well as a number of non-Baha'i academics associated with Babi-Baha'i studies such as Margit Warburg, an eminent Professor in the sociology of religion, at the Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies of the University of Copenhagen.


The 1980s - Select Photos, Videos and Recordings:

1980 - Bahā'ī  Studies Seminar, University of Lancaster.

  • Programme : PDf.
  • Abstracts : PDf

Denis MacEoin. `Ritual and Semi-Ritual Practices in the Bābī and Bahā'ī religions'. Now printed as the monograph Rituals in Babism and Baha'ism... London, New York. British Academic Press/ I.B. Tauris & Co. +  Centre of Middle Eastern Studies University of Cambridge, 1994.

 UK Baha'i Studies Seminars held in 1983 - There seem to have been three ( or four?)  seminars in this year, two in the south of England and one (or two) in the North:

[1] The Baha'i Studies Seminar held in Northill nr. Biggleswade (Beds.), UK, 26-27th January, 1983.

[2] The University of Warwick (Coventry) Baha'i Studies seminar of Feb. 17-18th, 1983. PDf. 1983 Warwick Seminar (BSB 1:4 (1983).pdf

Stephen Lambden,

  • Bahā'ī  deepening and the Academic Study of Bahā'ī  Doctrine.

[3] The 1983 Baha'i Studies Seminar at the Department of Religious Studies, University of Newcastle upon Tyne arranged by Denis MacEoin and Stephen Lambden.

  • Sept. 10-11th 1983, Catholic Chaplaincy, University of Newcastle.
  • Sept. 17-18th 1983.

In August 1983 a `Baha'i History Conference' took place in Los Angeles, at the UCLA. It was introduced by Prof. Amin Banani and included papers by key future Baha'i academics including the UK based Peter Smith and Moojan Momen. The Programme and a conference report by Peter Smith follow :


  • Programme : PDf.
  • Abstracts : PDf

In this year (1984) an international group of Baha'is from the USA, Canada, the UK., and elsewhere met in Borwick (Lancashire) for a Baha'i Studies Seminar.

  • The 1984 Baha'i Studies Seminar held at Borwick (Lancashire), 31st March- 2nd April, 1984. Report by Peter Smith published in the Baha'i Studies Bulletin (ed. S. Lambden), Vol. 3 No.1 p.90. PDf. Borwick 1984.pdf.


  • Programme : PDf.
  • Abstracts : PDf


  • Programme : PDf.
  • Abstracts : PDf


  • Programme : PDf.
  • Abstracts : PDf


  • Programme : PDf.
  • Abstracts : PDf

1989 One Hundredth Anniversary

Newcastle upon Tyne - 29th March 1889-1989 : Moojan Momen article in the British Baha'i Journal `The 100th Anniverary of the First Public Mention of the Baha'i Faith in the West' PDf. 100th Anniversary-Newcastle.pdf


  • Programme : PDf.
  • Abstracts : PDf

THE DECADE 1990-2000.

Seminars and events held during the decade 1990-2000 ....

The 1990s - Select Photos, Videos and Recordings:

1990 A- Bi-Annual Bahā'ī, Religious Studies Seminar

  • Programme : PDf.
  • Abstracts : PDf

Stephen Lambden, `A Note of the background and Bābī-Bahā'ī exegesis of the Name (Ar.) Mūsā (= Moses)  with reference to the Sharḥ al-qaṣīda al-lāmiyya of  Sayyid Kāzim Rashtī (d. 1260/1844)'. Abstract.

1990 B- Bi-Annual Bahā'ī, Religious Studies Seminar

  • Programme : PDf.
  • Abstracts : PDf


  • Programme : PDf.
  • Abstracts : PDf


  • Programme : PDf.
  • Abstracts : PDf


  • Programme : PDf.
  • Abstracts : PDf

The first Irfan Colloquium held in Newcastle upon Tyne on Dec. 3rd-5th 1993.

The first Irfan Colloquium, Newcastle upon Tyne in Dec. 3rd-5th 1993.


  • Programme : PDf.
  • Abstracts : PDf


  • Programme : PDf.
  • Abstracts : PDf


  • Programme : PDf.
  • Abstracts : PDf


Irfan colloquium 1996b


  • Programme : PDf.
  • Abstracts : PDf
  • A Consultative Introduction to Academic Baha'i Scholarship - Newcastle upon Tyne (England) December 11-12, 1997. PDf. Programme : 1997b-Introductory Discussion Leaflet.pdf

The 2003 volume of Papers from select Newcastle seminars - Contents and review.


  • Bi-Annual Bahā'ī, Religious Studies Special Interest Group Seminar. Newcastle upon Tyne, XXXXX  1998. PDf. Programme  with Abstracts : PDf


  • Abstracts : PDf.
  • Bi-Annual Bahā'ī, Religious Studies Special Interest Group Seminar. Newcastle upon Tyne,  XXXX  1998. PDf. Programme  with Abstracts : PDf


1999A : Bi-Annual Bahā'ī, Religious Studies Special Interest Group Seminar. 

  • Bi-Annual Bahā'ī, Religious Studies Special Interest Group Seminar. Newcastle upon Tyne, January 1st - January 3rd  1999. PDf. Programme  with Abstracts : PDf.  Seminar UK1999A.pdf 
  • Supplementary Abstracts : PDf

1999B : Bi-Annual Bahā'ī, Religious Studies Special Interest Group Seminar. Newcastle upon Tyne, December 3-5, 1999.

THE DECADE 2000-2010,

The 2000s - Select Photos, Videos and Recordings:


  • Programme : PDf.
  • Abstracts : PDf


  • Programme : PDf.
  • Abstracts : PDf

2002A : Bi-Annual Bahā'ī, Religious Studies Special Interest Group Seminar. Newcastle upon Tyne, January 11-13 2002.


  • Programme : PDf.
  • Abstracts : PDf

2002C : Bi-Annual Bahā'ī, Religious Studies Special Interest Group Seminar. Newcastle upon Tyne, December 20-22nd 2002.


  • Programme : PDf.
  • Abstracts : PDf

2004A  Bi-Annual Bahā'ī, Religious Studies Special Interest Group Seminar/ `Irfan Colloquium (Session 54), Annual Conference, University of London, Institute of Commonwealth Studies, July 2-4, 2004.

  • Programme : PDf.
  • Abstracts : PDf

2004B : Bi-Annual Bahā'ī, Religious Studies Special Interest Group Seminar. Newcastle upon Tyne, December 10-12, 2004


  • Programme : PDf.
  • Abstracts : PDf


  • Programme : PDf.
  • Abstracts : PDf


  • 2007A. ABS Religious Studies Special Interest Group Bi-Annual Seminar [Shaykhi, Babi-Baha'i and Religious Studies  Academic Seminar]. Newcastle upon Tyne. February 9-11, 2007. Programme : PDf. Seminar Programme, 2007A.pdf
  • 2007A. Abstracts : PDf
  • 2007B. ABS Religious Studies Special Interest Group Bi-Annual Seminar [Shaykhi, Babi-Baha'i and Religious Studies  Academic Seminar]. Newcastle upon Tyne. September 14-16, 2007.  PDf Programme Seminar Programme 2007B.pdf
  • 2007B. Abstracts : PDf


  • Programme : PDf.
  • Abstracts : PDf


  • ABS Religious Studies Special Interest Group [Shaykhi, Babi-Baha'i and Religious Studies  Academic Seminar]. Newcastle upon Tyne July 24-26, 2009. Programme : PDf. Programme 2009.pdf
  • Seminar, Newcastle upon Tyne July 24-26, 2009. Abstracts : PDf.  Abstracts 2009.pdf

THE DECADE 2010-2020.

The 2010s - Select Photos, Videos and Recordings:


  • Programme : PDf.
  • Abstracts : PDf


  • Programme : PDf.
  • Abstracts : PDf

2012 Shaykhi, Babi-Baha'i and Religious Studies  Academic Seminar. Newcastle upon Tyne July 13-15, 2012.

2013 Shaykhi, Babi-Baha'i and Religious Studies  Academic Seminar. Newcastle upon Tyne, July 26-28, 2013.

2014 Shaykhi, Babi-Baha'i and Religious Studies  Academic Seminar. Newcastle upon Tyne, July 24-27, 2014

2015. Shaykhi, Babi-Baha'i and Religious Studies  Academic Seminar. Newcastle upon Tyne, June 19-21, 2015.

The 2015  Newcastle Seminar. Leaflet (edited)...Pdf. 2015-leaflet.pdf


In view of the limited capacity and increasingly poor state of the Newcastle upon Tyne, Baha'i Centre - located at 30D Victoria Square, Jesmond, Newcastle upon Tyne, since the early 1980s ( it was originally donated by Mr. Rahmatu'llah Tewfiq and Mr. Ramezan Dalvand) -  it was decided after its sale to move the academic seminars to a more centrally located University environment. Due to the Oxford professorship of  Dr. Seena Fazel and the Baha'i status and associations of other prominent Oxford faculty, it was decided to move to this important centre of British scholarship. The transition of these seminars away from Newcastle was made in 2016. They continue  to be held annually in Oxford during the summertime period and are currently  organized by Drs. Fazel, Momen, Lambden, Quinn and others. Both Baha'i and other academics have and will continue to take part in threse pioneering events in the field of Shaykhi, Babi-Baha'i and other aspects of religious studies.


Kellog College, Oxford Univ. U.K.

2016. The Newcastle Seminar at Oxford.

2017. The Shaykhi, Babi-Baha'i Studies Seminar at Oxford.