“This Is a Progression, Not Conversion”: Narratives of First-Generation Bahá’ís

Tova Makhani-Belkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper discusses the concept of religious conversion in the Bahá’í Faith through conversion narratives of first-generation Bahá’ís. Through life story interviews, the converts narrate their process of becoming Bahá’í as “not converting”, which aligns with a principle of the Bahá’í Faith called “progressive revelation”. Religious conversion has frequently been described in the literature as a radical, sudden, dramatic transformation–often following a personal crisis and seemingly entails a definite break with one’s former identity. Consequently, religious conversion studies have focused on the subjective experiences of the rapid changes in the lives and identities of individuals. However, such perspectives have, until now, focused mainly on Christianity and Christian models and have not adequately addressed religious conversion models in other Abrahamic religions, such as the Bahá’í Faith. The paradigm of conversion focuses our attention on the ways particular theologies shape life stories of conversion and what kind of narratives social scientists will include in the corpus of conversion. Therefore, this research asks to broaden the social scientific paradigms of religious conversion through the case study of the Bahá’í Faith.

Original languageEnglish
Article number300
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2023


  • Bahá’í Faith
  • conversion narratives
  • grounded theory
  • life stories
  • progressive revelation
  • religious conversion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Religious studies


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