Finding myself to be the only Bahá’í in St. Andrews has been, to put it plainly, rather difficult. Making the half hour journey to Dundee for meetings, dinners and devotionals by myself can be relaxing but also lonely. To be alone in the “bubble” that is St. Andrews whilst trying to promulgate a religion based on the foundations of unity has been testing at times – mostly due to the pressure that I place on myself to illustrate and uphold the morals of a good Bahá’í in a more Western society, which is objectively more morally lax than Iran, where the faith was founded.
Promoting a religion based on the pillar of unity should be much easier than it has been, and inspiring others to question their own religious beliefs against the one I hold has been interesting but difficult.
Elements of the faith such as fasting became more difficult at university. The community of Bahá’ís at home, even simply having the support of my own mother, made it easier not to eat and drink for 12 hours of the day. Doing this by myself has tested the belief I have in my faith and my own willpower, particularly comparing the Fast I do with the Lent that others partake in.
There is nothing simple about being the only one of anything in any single society – although on the whole being the only Bahá’í in St. Andrews has been interesting. I have met a lot of new and different people and have explained myself in ways that I haven’t had to articulate in a long time, which has helped me to revise and recalibrate the ideas of the faith that I hold. This has pushed me to gain more knowledge of the faith to which I adhere, which is in itself conducive to being a good Bahá’í – looking for deeper understandings and the pursuit of knowledge, understanding why I do what I do rather than blindly following a set of principles.
Further to this, my adherence to this faith has allowed me to recognise certain traits in others – being brought up to be kind, not backbite and help others has gained me a number of friends at university with the same character traits. Surrounding myself with aspects of the faith, which come in the form of other people has been helpful to create a positive environment around myself, which I find to be particularly important this far from home.
There is no doubt that this has been a test of my will and strength in my faith; and although I do not find myself very open to speaking frequently about it, it is something that inspires every thought and action that I choose to make and I appreciate those around me who encourage me to engage in discourse to further my knowledge and become the best example of a Bahá’í that I can.
Thus, being the only Bahá’í in such a small town has taught me lots about myself, has allowed me to engage with others in a productive way and has helped me to cultivate a positive surrounding.