Abdullahi H. Abdi was among the founders of the Bahá’í community of Somalia and was the first native Somali Bahá’í in Mogadishu.
He passed away January 6, 2011, in Calabasas, California, after a massive stroke. He was 79.
A letter of condolence to his daughter, Mariam Rowhani Abdi, says in part, “The National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States was grieved to learn of the passing of your beloved father, Mr. ‘Abdu’llahi H. Abdi, a devoted servant of Bahá’u’lláh for many years who was greatly appreciated in this country as well as in Somalia.”
Born in 1931, Abdullahi was brought up in an established family. His father served for years as a member of Somalia’s parliament.
In the early 1950s he worked in the medical office of Mihdi Samandari, who had been honored as a Knight of Bahá’u’lláh for being among the first Bahá’ís to settle in what was then Italian Somaliland.
On hearing of Bahá’u’lláh’s claim to be the Promised One of all ages come to unite humanity, Abdullahi immediately embraced it and committed himself to spreading the teachings, a family obituary says, adding: “The staunchness of his faith made him stand firm as a mountain in face of opposition, he never wavered in the intensity of his love for the Cause of Truth he had embraced.”
Versed in Arabic as well as English, he memorized many prayers and passages of Bahá’u’lláh’s writings in the original language.
A librarian by profession, Abdullahi served as director of the National Library in Mogadishu. Professional studies took him to various places in Europe, and in 1966 in Copenhagen, Denmark, Dr. Samandari introduced him to Pooran Rowhani, who had been a pioneer for the Faith in the Netherlands and Kenya.
After Abdullah and Pooran married, their home in Mogadishu became a regular gathering place for Bahá’ís and seekers for many years. They brought up one daughter.
Though his wife brought their daughter to the United States in 1984 to provide for her education, Abdullahi remained in Somalia until unrest and lawlessness forced him, like many Somalis, to leave the country in 1991. He then joined his family in California.
“His gentle disposition and genuine love for fellow human beings attracted everyone he met and turned them into his friends,” the family statement says; “even the most disagreeable were disarmed by his love.”
Abdullahi was preceded in death by his wife, Pooran, in February 2010. He is survived by his daughter, Mariam Rowhani Abdi of California.