September 12, 2018

Amelia E. Collins (1873-1962) – Hand of the Cause; “lady of the Kingdom”; “indomitable spirit of faith and love"; "single-minded and wholehearted devotion"; “profound sense of devotion”; "passionate fervor”; “calm sanity”; “very generous offerings”; “prized co-worker”; her “inner deep spiritual relationship and devotion” to the Guardian; “The high rank” she occupied “which no Baha'i has ever held in his own lifetime”; “so distinguished a handmaid of Baha'u'llah and Hand of His Cause”

"O thou lady of the Kingdom!" With these words 'Abdu'l-Baha addressed Amelia Engelder Collins in His Tablet to her, dated December 6, 1919. It was an answer to the longing of this newly awakened heart to serve the Kingdom of God. The "hope" of 'Abdu'l-Baha as expressed in the Tablet became fulfilled in fullest measure in the life of this devoted Baha'i:

"In brief, from the bounties of His Holiness Baha’u’llah, My hope is that thou mayest daily advance in the Kingdom, that thou mayest become a heavenly soul, confirmed by the breaths of the Holy Spirit, and may erect a structure that shall eternally remain firm and unshakable."

'Abdu'l-Baha passed away in 1921. Amelia used to say that, "After the provisions of His Will became known, my whole heart and soul turned to that youthful Branch, appointed by Him to watch over and guide the Faith of Baha'u'llah. How I prayed that God would help me to make him happy!"

This became her guiding light, to serve the beloved Guardian and make him happy. She often said that to see the Guardian smile just once was worth a lifetime of suffering. To this end, then, she poured forth unstintingly her love, her strength, her means, throughout the remaining years of her life, often and increasingly, at the cost of great physical sacrifice. Her personal possessions, art treasures, life itself, had meaning only as they could be used to serve the Cause of Baha'u'llah and the one on whom had fallen the responsibility of carrying forward "the great work entrusted to his care."

As the years passed, in numerous letters and messages to her, the Guardian referred to her "indomitable spirit of faith and love", her "indefatigable services'', her "single-minded and wholehearted devotion" to the Cause of God, her "self-sacrificing efforts" - examples which "will live and influence many a soul." These services were crowned by Shoghi Effendi in January 1951 with her appointment as member and vice-president of the newly-appointed International Baha'i Council, "forerunner" of the Universal House of Justice, and in December 1951, with her appointment as one of the first contingent of living Hands of the Cause.

June 13, 2018

Valiyu’llah Varqa (1884-1955) – “outstanding Hand Cause God”; “exemplary trustee Huquq”; “distinguished representative most venerable community Baha'i world”; “worthy son brother twin immortal martyrs Faith”; “dearly beloved disciple Center Covenant”

Profoundly grieved loss outstanding Hand Cause God, exemplary trustee Huquq, distinguished representative most venerable community Baha'i world, worthy son brother twin immortal martyrs Faith, dearly beloved disciple Center Covenant. Shining record services extending over half century enriched annals heroic formative ages Baha'i Dispensation. His reward Abha Kingdom inestimable. Advise erect my behalf befitting monument his grave. His mantle as trustee funds Huquq now falls on 'Ali Muhammad, his son. Instruct Rowhani Tihran arrange befitting memorial gatherings capital provinces honor memory mighty pillar cradle Faith Baha'u'llah. Newly-appointed trustee Huquq now elevated rank Hand Cause.


November 15, 1955.


"Some time ago the Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Tihran asked me to write my autobiography for them. In reply, I explained that during my youth I had had the privilege and honor to be in the blessed presence of His Holiness 'Abdu'l-Baha and to be one of His attendants during His visit to America. I had always seen and witnessed His utter self-abnegation in words and deeds. When I stop to ponder the resplendent services rendered by the early believers of the Faith and their heroic sacrifices, I do not see how I can give any account about myself.

"I was born in Tabriz, 1263 Persian solar calendar (1884). My father, 'Ali Muhammad Varqa, a martyr of the Cause, was the third son of Haji Mulla Mihdi Yazdi, known as Atri, and my mother, Fatimih, was the daughter of Haji Mirza 'Abdu'llah Khan Nuri of Mazindaran. These two grandparents were both staunch believers of the Cause, which they most earnestly served. I had three brothers. (My mother gave birth to four children.) The eldest was named Mirza 'Aziz'ullah Khan, the second was named Ruhu'llah, who was martyred, the third was myself, and the fourth was called Badi'ullah, who died in childhood. As a family we all lived in Tabriz in the household of our maternal grandmother in perfect love and harmony and in complete ease and honor."

Valiyu’llah's father and brother
“This happiness was, however, upset and shattered in consequence of some false reports submitted by certain enemies of the Cause to the Prince Regent, Muzaffari'd-Din Shah, to the effect that Mirza 'Abdu'llah Khan, my grandfather, who was then a member of his court, was acting against the Government and had put his house at the disposal of Baha'is gathering there to conduct anti-government activities. My grandfather was obliged, therefore, to escape to Tihran, and in his absence, my grandmother, who was a fanatical Muslim, found the opportunity to exert her enmity by opposing my father so strongly and relentlessly as to compel him to leave his home and native town, accompanied by his two eldest sons. My junior brother, Badi'ullah, and myself, being too small, were left behind with our mother in the same house where my grandmother lived. This did not, however, appease my grandmother. She had such a deep hatred of the Cause that she began to make evil suggestions to me against my father and to sow the seeds of hatred and enmity in my soul against him. She was able to impress my tender soul to such an extent that in my Islamic prayers, which I was obliged to say, I wept in bitter grief for my father's deviation which had earned him so much hatred from the public.

March 14, 2018

Roy C. Wilhelm (1875-1951) – Hand of the Cause: “greatly prized, much loved, highly admired herald (of) Baha'u'llah's Covenant”; “Sterling qualities”, “saintliness, indomitable faith”, “outstanding services”, “exemplary devotion”

"Heart filled (with) sorrow (for) loss (of) greatly prized, much loved, highly admired herald (of) Baha'ullah's Covenant, Roy Wilhelm. Distinguished career enriched annals (of) concluding years (of) Heroic (and) opening years (of) Formative Age (of) Faith. Sterling qualities endeared him (to) his beloved Master, 'Abdu'l-Baha. His saintliness, indomitable faith, outstanding services local, national, international, (his) exemplary devotion, qualify him (to) join ranks (of) Hands (of) Cause, insure him everlasting reward (in) Abha Kingdom. Advise hold memorial gathering (in) Temple befitting his unforgettable services (and) lofty rank."
December 24, 1951

In the history of the Baha'i Faith during the first half of the twentieth century, Roy C. Wilhelm occupied an important place. The firmness of his faith, the purity of his devotion, his self-sacrifice and his untiring activity enabled him to make a unique contribution to the establishment of the Faith in North America and indirectly, through his generous aid to Miss Martha Root, and his distribution of Baha'i literature in many languages, to its spread in other continents. Essentially humble, he carried heavy administrative responsibilities with a winning charm which endeared him to a host of friends.

Roy Wilhelm was first and foremost a man of integrity who applied the high Baha'i standards of conduct to himself before he applied them to others. Born in Zanesville, Ohio, September 17, 1875, Roy Wilhelm and his parents moved to West Englewood, New Jersey, and opened their import firm in New York City, which he actively conducted until the last few years of his life. It was on this property in West Englewood that 'Abdu'l-Baha in 1912, during His North American visit, held a unity feast for the Baha'is of the New York metropolitan area at which He announced that on that date the Faith of Baha'u'llah was truly established in America. The site of that gathering will, in the future, mark the only public Memorial which the American Baha'is are permitted to construct in reverent observance of 'Abdu'l-Baha's visit from April to December, 1912.

December 19, 2017

Ella Goodall Cooper (1870-1951) – a “herald Covenant”; “dearly loved handmaid 'Abdu'l-Baha, greatly trusted by Him”; a “jewel of the spirit”; a “shining candle”; “unique and matchless”; a member of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States and Canada for two years; was among the first Baha’is of California

''O thou jewel of the spirit!" Thus did 'Abdu'l-Baha address this angelic being, one of the rare gems in the diadem of the Kingdom.

Aunt Ella, as she was fondly known to her many devoted friends around the world, was one of that rapidly diminishing treasure of precious souls who have entered the presence of 'Abdu'l-Baha, and who are possessed of that unique quality of spirit known only among those who were touched by the magic wand of that Divine Alchemist. Hers was an enchanting spirit of exquisite grace, whose gentleness, warmth and generosity were showered continuously on all peoples. She radiated all the days of her life the virtues of the true maid-servant of Baha.

She was one of that handful of early Baha’is in the United States who implanted the banner of Baha’u’llah in that land, and who nurtured it and protected it with the iron strength of their consecrated spirit.

In a Tablet to one of the friends 'Abdu'l- Baha wrote of the services of Mrs. Cooper and her mother, Mrs. Goodall:

"Thou hadst written concerning the services of Mrs. Goodall and Mrs. Cooper. These two dear maid-servants of God are truly two shining candles, and in character are unique and matchless. They sacrifice their lives in the pathway of God under conditions of hardship and trouble and are filled with spirituality and good cheer. It is certain that the divine confirmations will encircle them."

Shoghi Effendi's cablegram at the time of her passing has defined her life-long service to her beloved Faith:

"Deeply grieved sudden passing herald Covenant Ella Cooper, dearly loved handmaid 'Abdu'l-Baha, greatly trusted by Him. Her devoted services during concluding years Heroic Age and also Formative Age Faith unforgettable. Assure relatives, friends, deepest sympathy loss. Praying progress soul in Abha Kingdom."

September 20, 2017

The Letters of the Living - The Báb’s First Disciples

Mullá Husayn Bushrú’í (c. 1814–49): the first to declare his belief in the Báb (in Shiraz on 23 May 1844). He was given the title Bábu’l-Báb (Gate of the Gate) by the Báb. He was killed on 2 February 1849 at Fort Tabarsi.

Mullá ‘Alí Bastamí (d. 1846): the second to recognize the Báb. According to Nabil, twelve of his companions, each independently, also recognized the Báb soon after him and became among the Letters of the Living. The Báb gave Mullá ‘Alí the title "the Second Who Believed" and identified him in His Persian Bayan, in allegorical language, as the return of the Imam Ali – indicative of his high station. Mulla ‘Ali was directed by the Bab to go to the twin cities of Najaf and Karbala in Iraq and announce the Advent of the Promised One. Tahirih (the Pure One), then known as Fátimih Umm-Salamih Baraghání, was in Karbala at that time and therefore heard about the claims of the Báb from Mulla ‘Ali. Mulla ‘Ali was subsequently arrested and tried in Baghdad in January 1845 and later sentenced to work for life in the imperial naval docks, where he died in an Istanbul prison. He is known to be the first Bábí martyr.

Mullá Husayn’s younger brother, Mírzá Muhammad Hasan Bushrú’í (d. 1849). He accompanied Mullá Husayn on his travels and became badly wounded in Fort Tabarsi at the same time that his brother was killed. According to some accounts, he then served as leader of the Bábí forces and was subsequently killed at Shaykh Tabarsí.

Mulla Husay’s nephew, Mírzá Muhammad Báqir Bushrú’í (d. 1849). He is reported to have led the forces at Shaykh Tabarsí after his uncle Mullá Mírzá Muhammad Hasan was wounded. He was subsequently killed at Shaykh Tabarsí.

Mullá Khudá-Bakhsh Qúchání (later named Mullá ‘Alí Rází): returned to Karbala from Shiraz and is reported to not have actively participated in the Bábí community.

Mullá Hasan Bajistání: While active at first in propagating the Bábí Cause, he later retired to Karbala and considered himself unworthy of the station conferred on him by the Báb as one of the Letters of the Living. He later visited Baha’u’llah in Baghdad, sometime between 1853 and 1863.

June 13, 2017

Mountfort Mills (d. 1949) – “that highly-talented, much loved servant of Baha'u'llah”; “that distinguished and international champion of the Faith of Baha'u'llah”; “our dearly-beloved Mountfort Mills”; first chairman of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States and Canada when formed in 1922; prepared the final draft of the Declaration of Trust and By-Laws adopted by the National Spiritual Assembly in 1927; was brutally assaulted in Baghdad while representing the Guardian to League of Nations regarding ownership of the House of Baha’u’llah

The passing of Mountfort Mills on April 24, 1949, deprived the American Baha'i community of the influence and experience of a very distinguished believer. He had been a follower of Baha'u'llah since 1906. 

Before the end of 1909, Mountfort Mills had made two pilgrimages to 'Akka. His third pilgrimage to visit the Master was made early in 1921. In 1922, with Mr. Roy C. Wilhelm, he was invited by Shoghi Effendi to go to Haifa for conference with the Guardian on matters related to the new conditions created for the Faith by the Ascension of 'Abdu'l-Baha.

Mountfort Mills and 
Fujita San in Haifa
During the Master's visits in New York during 1912, Mr. Mills served on the Baha'i reception committee which arranged public addresses for 'Abdu'lBaha in that city. First chairman of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States and Canada when formed in 1922 in accordance with the provisions of the Will and Testament left by the Master, Mountfort Mills was elected a member of that body for seven terms between 1922 and 1937. As trustee of Baha'i Temple Unity he had served annually from its inception in 1909.

The final draft of the Declaration of Trust and By-Laws adopted by the National Assembly in 1927 was prepared by Mills.

It would be impossible in brief space to report his activities for the New York Baha'i community throughout the years of his residence there, for the national Baha'i community, or in Europe. He was a winning public speaker and his personality gained many influential friends for the Faith in some of its most difficult days in the West. His devotion to the Master was impressive.

A few outstanding events will serve to indicate the unusual scope of his Baha'i activities.

February 15, 2017

Jessie Revell (1891-1966) – “brilliant and pure”; very dear to ‘Abdu’l-Baha; managed sending and collecting all of Shoghi Effendi’s mail past 1951; appointed by the Guardian as the treasurer of the International Baha’i Council; a loyal companion of Amatu’l-Baha Ruhiyyih Khanum

Jessie Revell in 1964
Jessie Revell was once addressed by ‘Abdu’l-Baha in these words:

“O thou who art firm in the Covenant! ... Notwithstanding the lack of time, I write thee this letter that thou mayest know how dear thou art to me. As thou art brilliant and pure and hast no wish but to serve the Cause of God and promulgate the divine teachings, I pray and entreat at the threshold of God and beg for thee limitless assistance and bounty. ... Thou must engage in those regions, day and night, in service. ... As to the children with whom thou art speaking, thy pure breath will undoubtedly exert its influence upon them. ...” (‘Abdu’l-Baha, Star of the West, vol. X, p. 317)

Jessie Revell’s brilliant record of service to the Cause of Baha’u’llah, extending from early in the century, came to an end with her passing in Haifa on April 14, 1966. Her story is best told in the words of her devoted sister, Ethel Revell.

“My mother, my sister and I first heard of the Faith in Philadelphia -- it was approximately 1906 -- through Mrs. Annie McKinney, and attended the firesides of Mrs. Isabella D. Brittingham. On the evening when Jessie first heard Mrs. Brittingham speak on the Faith, Jessie followed her to the door as the speaker departed and said, ‘I cannot remember all you said tonight, but I want what you have!’ When she accepted the Faith she wrote to ‘Abdu’l-Baha and mentioned that our father had passed away when we were very young. The Master replied -- I believe in these exact words -- ‘The real fatherhood is the spiritual fatherhood. Therefore rest thou assured that thou art the beloved daughter.’

“In the early days of her Baha’i life, as there was but little literature available to the friends, Jessie, who was then employed in an office, would spend her evenings typing copies of Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Baha and sharing them with the Baha’is, who in turn would recopy them and pass them along to other believers.

November 16, 2016

Leroy C. Ioas (1896-1965) - The Guardian's Hercules; "vigorous spirit of determination… and of noble enthusiasm"; "energy, judgment, zeal and fidelity"; "incessant activities and prodigious labours"; "tireless vigilance, self-sacrifice, and devotion to the Cause in all its multiple fields of activity"; “Outstanding Hand of the Cause”; “First Secretary-General of the International Baha’i Council”; “Personal Representative of the Guardian of the Faith”

Leroy, as he was affectionately known throughout the world by Baha'is and countless other associates, was the brightest luminary of a large and united family whose services to Baha'u'llah began shortly after the inception of His Faith in North America.

Leroy was born in Wilmington, Illinois, in the heartland of America, soon after Baha'u'llah's Message first reached the West in 1893. His father, Charles loas, was of Lutheran background and had come from Munich to the United States in 1880. He accepted the Faith in 1898 and served it faithfully until his death in 1917, as a member and secretary of the House of Spirituality in Chicago, the first Local Spiritual Assembly. To him 'Abdu'l-Baha made a remarkable promise: “… thou wilt behold thyself in a lofty station, having all that is in earth under its shadow…" He was "that wonderful man loas", whose seed, like Abraham's, scattered around the globe in succeeding generations, to carry the news of the New Day.

Leroy's mother, Maria, born a German Catholic, accepted Baha'u'llah with her husband. For her son, she was "one of the angels of the American Baha'i community", and lived to hear of his elevation to the rank of Hand of the Cause and to participate in the dedication of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar in Wilmette in 1953, to the erection of which both husband and children had greatly contributed.

Leroy, as many have heard, was the Guardian's Hercules. His "vigorous spirit of determination… and of noble enthusiasm," his "energy, judgment, zeal and fidelity," his "incessant activities and prodigious labours", his "tireless vigilance, self-sacrifice, and devotion to the Cause in all its multiple fields of activity"- these are the Guardian's words - were greatly prized by Shoghi Effendi as "assets for which I am deeply and truly thankful." "I admire the spirit that animates you [and] marvel at your stupendous efforts," he wrote to this "dearest and most valued co-worker".

September 13, 2016

Margaret Stevenson - New Zealand’s first Bahá’í

Margaret was born on November 30th, 1865. Her first intimation of the Bahá’í Faith was through reading “The Christian Commonwealth” and she admitted later that “she did not think any more about it”. She received this journal from her sister who was in London studying music and had heard ‘Abdu’l-Bahá address the congregation of St. John’s, Westminster at the invitation of Canon Wilberforce. She was so impressed that when another discourse given by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá at City Temple, London was printed in “The Christian Commonwealth” dated March 27th, 1911, she sent a copy of the journal to Margaret in New Zealand.

In 1912, Miss Dorothea, Spinney, a friend of Margaret’s sister, arrived in Auckland from London and stayed with Margaret at her home. Miss Dorothea Spinney gave recitals of Greek plays. While staying with Margaret she talked about the Bahá’í Cause and her own meeting with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. This evidently touched a subconscious chord in Margaret.

To quote Margaret’s own words: “As a child, I used to wish I had lived when Christ was on earth. As Miss Spinney spoke, I remembered my childhood wish, and the thought came to me that I too might have denied Him as so many others had done. It was this secret thought that made me seriously think of what I heard from Miss Spinney, and through God’s grace and mercy I was enabled to grasp and believe in Bahá’u’lláh and His Message”.

June 8, 2016

May Maxwell (1870-1940) – “that candle of the love of God”; “'Abdu'l-Bahá's beloved handmaid”; “the distinguished disciple”; a “martyr’s death”; “glorious sacrifice”; her name is mentioned in the Tablets of the Divine Plan

The just words, the words always to remember, were cabled by Shoghi Effendi: "'Abdu'l-Baha's beloved handmaid, distinguished disciple May Maxwell (is) gathered (into the) glory (of the) Abha Kingdom. Her earthly life, so rich, eventful, incomparably blessed, (is) worthily ended. To sacred tie her signal services had forged, (the) priceless honor (of a) martyr's death (is) now added. (A) double crown deservedly won. (The) Seven-Year Plan, particularly (the) South American campaign, derive fresh impetus (from the) example (of) her glorious sacrifice. Southern outpost (of) Faith greatly enriched through association (with) her historic resting-place destined remain (a) poignant reminder (of the) resistless march (of the) triumphant army (of) Baha'u'llah. Advise believers (of) both Americas (to) hold befitting memorial gathering."
–Shoghi Effendi (Cablegram, March 3, 1940; ‘Messages to America’)

…Shoghi Effendi once said to her [May Maxwell), one night when he came to dinner in the Western Pilgrim House after our union, that had I [Ruhiyyih Khanum] not been May Maxwell's daughter he would not have married me. This does not mean it was the only reason, but it was evidently a very powerful one, for in the cable he sent on 3 March 1940 officially announcing her death, which had taken place two days before, he said "To sacred tie her signal services had forged priceless honour martyr's death now added. Double crown deservedly won." These words clearly indicate her relationship to his marriage. In a Tablet of 'Abdu'l-Bahá to one of her spiritual children He had written "her company uplifts and develops the soul". Until I came under the direct influence of the Guardian, through being privileged to be with him for over twenty years, I can truly say that my character, my faith in Bahá'u'lláh and whatever small services I had so far been able to render Him, were entirely due to her influence. From these facts it will be seen that when I arrived with my mother, on my third pilgrimage to Haifa, in January 1937, the status of my father inside the Faith can best be described as being "Mrs. Maxwell's husband".
- Amatu’l-Baha Ruhiyyih Khanum, (‘The Priceless Pearl’)

She was born in Englewood, New Jersey, on January 14, 1870, the daughter of John B. Bolles and Mary Martin Bolles, in descent American through many generations. Her early years were spent in the Englewood home of her maternal grandfather, a man distinguished in New York's banking world. She had one brother, Randolph, whom she loved deeply and whose attraction to the Baha'i Faith, as evidenced in the last year before his death in 1939 (by his translation into English of the French footnotes of Nabil), gave her supreme content.

January 13, 2016

Albert R. Windust (1874- 1956) – “Herald [of the] Covenant”; the first publisher of the Writings of the Faith in America; the founder of Star of the West; assisted with the publication of ‘Promulgation of Universal Peace’, and the first five volumes of 'The Baha'i World', 1926 to 1934

"Deeply grieved passing much loved greatly admired staunch ardent promoter Faith, Albert Windust, Herald Covenant, whose notable services Heroic Formative Ages Faith unforgettable. Assure friends relatives fervently supplicating progress soul Kingdom.

Albert Robert Windust was born on Chicago's west side near Hull House on March 28, 1874. His parents were Thomas and Sarah Sheffield Windust. His father was a printer, who, shortly after Albert was born, moved with his family to a section of Chicago known as Woodlawn. They were members of the Episcopal Church. Mrs. Windust, a school teacher and a very active church worker, was the founder of the First Christ Church of Woodlawn (Episcopalian). 

In his early years, Albert Windust was not physically strong and this may have accounted for the fact that he had very little formal schooling. He was tutored in his early years by his mother and entered a public school at the fourth grade level. He ended his formak education in the sixth grade. Despite this, Albert Windust during his life attained a depth of knowledge and spiritual wisdom reached by very few.

At the age of fourteen Albert became an apprentice in the printing firm where his father worked. The following November his mother died. His interest in nature awakened a desire to draw, and he became a pupil at Chicago's Art Institute. Through associations made in the printing business, he illustrated stories of many authors, including Opie Read and H. Rider Haggard.

November 7, 2015

John Henry Hyde Dunn – Hand of the Cause of God; a “veteran warrior (of the) Faith of Baha'u'llah”

John Henry Hyde Dunn was born in London, England, the son of a consulting chemist. In early childhood he was dandled upon the knee of Charles Dickens, and was amused and entertained by Cruikshank, the famous illustrator of Dickens' works. As a young man, after engaging in business in Great Britain and on the continent, he immigrated to the United States.

While waiting in a tinsmith's shop in Seattle, Washington, he overheard two men speaking. One man quoted these words of Baha'u'llah, "Let not a man glory in this, that he loves his country, but let him glory in this, that he loves his kind." Mr. Dunn interrupted the conversation by saying, “Surely these words are a message from God." The speaker turned, and, including Mr. Dunn in the conversation, gave the message of the Baha'i Revelations.

Mr. Dunn accepted the truth of the Baha'i Revelation immediately and it was not long before he and Mr. Ward Fitzgerald, the one who had brought him the Message, were traveling together, doing business and spreading the Faith. At one time they took advantage of a brief period of unemployment to journey to Walla Walla, Washington, where they held meetings for this purpose. This journey necessitated extreme economy on the part of the teachers so that they were often obliged to go hungry. A certain lady, who remained after one of the meetings to learn more about the great Message, soon learned, as she talked with the two teachers, that they were as hungry physically as she was spiritually. She tactfully insisted on offering them hospitality and spread a bountiful meal for them.

March 8, 2015

Holmfridur Arnadottir (1873-1955) -- Iceland’s first Baha’i; the translator of Dr. Esslemont’s Baha’u’llah and the New Era into the Icelandic language; the only Icelander Baha’i for 30 years until her passing

Holmfridur Arnadottir has been accorded by the beloved Guardian the station of Iceland’s first Baha’i. From her first contact with the Faith in 1924 until her passing in 1955, she was alone in her realization of the mission of Baha’u’llah, the only Icelander to hail the glad tidings of the New Day. Far this and far two memorable services she will ever be honored in Icelandic history. She was the translator of Dr. Esslemont’s Baha’u’llah and the New Era into the Icelandic language, an enduring work of the greatest significance at this time when the Cause is beginning to prow in Iceland under the momentum of the Ten-Year Crusade. And she served tirelessly and with great devotion our greatest Baha’i teacher, Martha Rout, during her unforgettable visit to Iceland for one month in 1935, bringing her into contact with many leaders of thought end paving the way for Martha’s public work through lectures, newspaper articles and radio talks.

The Message of Baha’u’llah came to Miss Arnadottir through Mrs. Amelia Collins, who with her husband visited Reykjavik for two days in 1924. “Iceland made a holiday of the landing of our cruiser,” Mrs. Collins has recalled, as it was the largest to have entered the harbor to that date. Martha has written of this historic meeting in these words: “One should begin any saga, any article about Iceland with the name of Einar Jonsson; he is the greatest soul in Iceland today... It may have been only a coincidence, but it is like a confirmation from God that it was in this lofty Einar Jonsson Museum that the Milly-Holmfridur flower of friendship was first planted in Iceland.” It was the planting of the divine seed in Iceland, beautifully and loyally tended by Milly for over thirty years; and the association of these two spiritual sours warmed and cultivated this vital Northern land for the rich harvest which even today may be glimpsed and confidently anticipated.

After a long and rich life devoted to humanitarian and spiritual endeavor, Holmfridur passed to the Abha kingdom at the age of eighty-two, in Reykjavik, on November 25, 1955. She was truly a universal soul, gifted with the assurance of the New Day dawning upon humanity, and Iceland in centuries to come will look back to her as to the morning star. 
(by Marion Hofman, ‘The Baha’i World 1954-1963)

November 9, 2014

Henrietta Emogene Martin Hoagg (1869-1945) – “exemplary pioneer (of the) Faith”; typed the voluminous manuscript of 'The Dawn-Breakers' at Shoghi Effedi’s request; first confirmed believer in California

“Emogene," as she was familiarly known to the Baha'is, was born in the small California mining town of Copperopolis on the 27th of September in the year 1869. Her father, Dr. Martin, having died when she was very young, and her mother having remarried, she went to live with an aunt and uncle, Mr. and Mrs. William Henry Wright, in San Francisco, where later she was graduated from the Irving Institute, a select boarding school for young ladies of those days.

In her early twenties Emogene married John Ketchie Hoagg, who died in San Francisco in 1918. A few years after her marriage Emogene went to Europe to pursue her musical studies, remaining there several years.

Upon her return to California she visited at the home of a family friend, Mrs. Phoebe Apperson Hearst, in Pleasanton, and it was there, in 1898, that she first heard of the Baha'i Faith. Dr. and Mrs. Edward Christopher Getsinger had come from Chicago hoping to interest Mrs. Hearst in the new Revelation. Emogene was so attracted by Mrs. Getsinger's earnest manner that she sought daily lessons with her, resulting in Emogene's instant acceptance of the Faith. Concerning this she wrote:

“My interest augmented from lesson to lesson. The first commune, ‘O my God, give me knowledge, faith and love,' was constantly on my lips, and I believe those Words from the Fountain of Eternal Lip awakened my soul and mind to a faith that has never wavered."

In this way Emogene became the first confirmed believer in California.

April 19, 2014

Adelaide Sharp – “dedicated [and] steadfast promoter [of the] Cause”; principal of Tarbiyat School for girls; the first woman to be elected to the National Spiritual Assembly of Iran

Born in Texas in 1896, Adelaide Sharp spent her childhood in Mexico, moved in company of her mother to California to pursue her studies, and after graduation from college took up teaching work in the Italian quarter of San Francisco. Her father, Horace M. Sharp who died during Adelaide's infancy, was a Christian but Adelaide, when still young, received the Message of Baha'u'llah from her mother, Clara Sharp - a devoted Baha'i - and accepted it.

In 1929, when the distinguished Baha'i, Dr. Susan I. Moody, who was then seventy-seven years of age, undertook to emigrate to Persia a second time at the Guardian's request, she received his permission and hearty approval to take Adelaide along with her to serve at the Tarbiyat School in the capital. The two pioneers covered the first stretch of their journey by ship to the Holy Land where the glory of pilgrimage to the Holy Shrines for twelve precious days was heightened by the guidance and spiritual strength received from the beloved Guardian, a bounty that would be their mainstay during the long and difficult years ahead.

Proceeding thence by the overland route to Tihran, Adelaide settled in her post as the school's principal on arrival and discharged her duties with exemplary diligence until the school was closed down. Ruhangiz Fath-'Azam and Ishraqiyyih Dhaih collaborated with her in this arduous task and were her unfailing support throughout this period.

After some two years' stay in Tihran, Adelaide asked the Guardian if she might invite her mother over, too. Shoghi Effendi assented readily and graciously cabled instructions to America for Mrs. Sharp's travel to Tihran, and so it was that Clara Sharp found herself working in the cradle of the Faith beside her daughter in the field of Baha'i education.

When the school was closed down, Adelaide Sharp stayed on in Persia on the Guardian's advice and gradually organized classes for boys as well as girls to study writings in English such as Baha'i Administration, The Promised Day is Come, The World Order of Baha'u'llah and other superb works from the Guardian's inspired pen. Many young Baha'is from these classes have since risen to eminence in service to God's Faith within and without Persia's borders.

December 14, 2013

Mirza 'Ali-Muhammad (Ibn-i-Asdaq) – Apostle of Baha’u’llah and Hand of the Cause; in a Tablet in his honor Baha’u’llah mentions for the first time the concept of the 'Hand of the Cause'

Mirza 'Ali-Muhammad was born in Mashhad in circa 1850. He was the youngest son of the Hand of the Cause Mulla Sadiq-i-Muqaddas-i-Khurasani, who fought at Shaykh Tabarsi and was tortured with Quddus in Shiraz. Mulla Sadiq-i-Muqaddas was given the title Ismu’llah’u’l-Asdaq by Baha'u’llah, and as his son showed many of his outstanding qualities, Mirza 'Ali-Muhammad became known as Ibn-i-Asdaq, son of Asdaq.

In 1861, while Ibn-i-Asdaq was still a young boy, he was taken by his father to Baghdad to see Baha'u'llah. The visit lasted two years and made a made a deep impression on him. During their stay in Baghdad Baha'u'llah revealed a prayer for Ibn-i-Asdaq:

'I ask Thee, O my God! to give him to drink of the milk of Thy bounty so that he may raise the standards of victory through Me, -a victory which is Thine - and arise to serve Thy Cause, when he groweth up, just as, when a youth, he hath arisen at Thy Command'. [1]

On his return to Iran Ibn-i-Asdaq and his father were arrested on the orders of the governor of Khurasan. They and two other Babis were chained and taken to Tihran. The intention was to execute them but the government ordered instead that they be imprisoned in the Siyah-Chal. Here they remained, chained together, for 28 months.

June 30, 2013

Alfred Eastman Lunt – “esteemed beloved Lunt”; “a precious, ardent and capable champion of our beloved Faith”; “the living embodiment of such a rare combination of qualities as few can display and none can surpass”

Alfred departed this life on August 12, 1937, at his home in Beverly, Massachusetts. His immediate family-a widow and five children, and a host of friends mourn his loss. His funeral was attended by his relatives, neighbors and visiting Baha'is from Green Acre and neighboring centers. The service in its simplicity, contained the solace of Heavenly Teachings and prayers, and proved to be a means of teaching others the Faith that he loved.

The National Spiritual Assembly, on August 16, 1937, received the following cablegram from the Guardian:

"Shocked distressed premature passing esteemed beloved Lunt. Future generations will appraise his manifold outstanding contributions to rise and establishment Faith Baha’u’llah American continent. Community his bereaved co-workers could ill afford lose such critical period so fearless champion their Cause. Request entire body their National representatives assemble his grave pay tribute my behalf to him who so long and since inception acted as pillar institution they represent. Convey Boston community assurance prayers, deepest brotherly sympathy their cruel irreparable loss."

He was for more than a generation one of the most distinguished and useful servants of Baha’u’llah. He was well prepared by college and legal education at Harvard University. As a student he heard the Great Message from Dr. 'Ali-Kuli Khan, lecturing in the University. He obtained from it a life and inspiration toward achievement. He had very unusual abilities which shone in the field of writing and in his chosen profession, the law.

April 29, 2012

Effie Baker – the first Australian woman to become a Baha’i; one of Australia’s foremost woman photographers; her photographs were chosen by the Guardian for inclusion in Nabil’s narrative, ‘The Dawn-Breakers’

Euphemia Eleanor Baker was born the eldest of 11 children to parents John and Margaret, on March 25, 1880, at Goldsborough. Some of her grandparents had arrived in Australia in the great migrations of the 19th century. Her father’s father, Captain Henry Evans Baker, was born at White Hills, Kent, in England, in 1816, and had moved to New York. Captaining a sea-collier, Henry Baker was in the port of Melbourne in 1852 when gold fever struck his crew. The prospect of making one’s fortune on the gold fields was so enticing that Captain Baker could not find enough men willing to leave Melbourne, and thus form a new crew. He solved his dilemma by selling his boat and joining the rush to inland Victoria.


The captain was thick-set, dark-complexioned, portly and jolly in appearance. He was inventive and technically minded, and on the voyage to Australia had even constructed a dynamo to light his cabin. He is reported to have constructed in 1855 the first Chilean Mill on the Bendigo gold fields -- a system in which a horse pulled a stone wheel in a circular motion in order to crush rock in the quest for gold. He had an interest in astronomy, and won a silver medal in a Melbourne exhibition of 1873. He achieved some fame when he was selected to re-polish the mirror of the great Cassegrain telescope at the Melbourne observatory. In 1886 a telescope made by Captain Baker for the newly opened Oddie Observatory at Ballarat was used for the first time.

Captain Baker’s wife, Euphemia McLeash, came from Cooper Angus in Scotland, although the two were married in New York. A brother, William McLeash, went into partnership with Captain Baker on the gold fields. Captain Baker and his partners, Robert Dodd, William McLeash and Samuel Crozier, discovered and opened Bealiba Reef (the Queen’s Birthday Reef), taking a lease on the last day of 1863. They soon created a 4 horsepower engine on the site and the first crushing yielded 77 ounces of gold. At this time, the Bakers were probably squatting in a calico house next to the mine.

Another reef, the Goldsborough, was discovered in 1865, and Captain Baker bought a house near it in 1868. Goldsborough had only been established in 1854, and grew to be a thriving town of 70,000 people. But these were living mostly in semi-permanent calico huts, the prospectors shifting with the rumors of new gold fields. The streets were named “Pick,” “Shovel,” “Windlass” and the like, emphasizing the town’s functional nature.

Childhood and Youth

December 24, 2011

Siyyid Mustafa Rumi (c.1846-1945) -- Hand of the Cause; distinguished pioneer of the Faith; staunch high minded noble soul; his resting place is the foremost shrine in the community of Burmese believers

Siyyid Mustafa belonged to a noble family of Baghdad, ‘Iraq. His father had settled in Madras, India. He was brought into the Faith through the efforts of Sulayman Khan Ilyas, popularly known a Jamal Effendi, the first Baha’i teacher sent by Baha’u’llah to India in 1875.

Jamal Effendi was an untiring, devoted and renowned travel teacher who, dressed as a dervish, roamed the Ottoman territory in order to attract souls to the Cause of God. It happened that a few members of the Afnan family had established themselves in Bombay and had set up a printing press on which the first volumes of Baha'i writings were published. Realizing the Indians were receptive to the Faith, they petitioned Baha’u’llah to send a Baha’i teacher of knowledge and experience. Their petition coincided with Jamal Effendi’s second pilgrimage to 'Akka. Baha'u'llah instructed him to go to India

After reaching Bombay, Jamal Effendi, travelled throughout India, teaching the Baha’i Faith. Owing to his dignified bearing and dress, he was perceived as a man of culture and thought. He showed the people genuine friendship and love. His talks were attractive and his manner of listening admirable. People of diverse backgrounds sought enlightenment from him. Thus he attracted many people to the Cause.

In Madras, Jamal Effendi encountered a young man, Siyyid Mustafa-i-Rumi who was in his early twenties and had come to Madras to help his aged father in his business. Rumi who was very attached to Islam was also very spiritual and careful in the observance of his religious duties. The moment, therefore, he came in contact with the commanding personality of Jamal Effendi, he was attracted to him right away.

April 2, 2011

Agnes Baldwin Alexander (1875-1971) – Hand of the Cause; “the daughter of the Kingdom”, and “the beloved maid-servant of the Blessed Perfection” (‘Abdu’l-Baha); the only Hand of the Cause mentioned in the Tablets of the Divine Plan; The first Baha’i to set foot on Hawaiian soil; the first Baha’i to settle in Japan; and the first Baha’i to teach the Faith in Korea.

"At this time, in the island of Hawaii, through the efforts of Miss Alexander, a number of souls have reached the shore of the sea of faith! Consider ye, what happiness, what joy is this! I declare by the Lord of Hosts that had this respected daughter founded an empire, that empire would not have been so great! For this sovereignty is eternal sovereignty and this glory is everlasting glory." ('Abdu'l-Baha, Tablets of the Divine Plan)

In the Kitáb-i-Íqán, Bahá'u'lláh makes the statement that were anyone to reach the station of the True Seeker, he would “inhale at a distance of a thousand leagues the fragrance of God, and would perceive the resplendent morn of a divine Guidance rising above the dayspring of all things.” (Baha’u’llah, ‘Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah’, p. 267) Many more than a thousand leagues away from 'Akka, the abode of the Blessed Perfection, a little girl in far-off Hawaii dreamed of serving Christ, but in her own words: "His life seemed far away from me, and I always felt that something was lacking, that I had never been reborn." If ever a child was blessed with a brilliant and noble heritage it was this little girl, Agnes Baldwin Alexander, destined herself to become a star even more illustrious than any of her famous forebears.

Agnes's grandparents on her mother's side were the Rev. and Mrs. Dwight Baldwin who sailed from New Bedford, Massachusetts, with the fourth company of missionaries sent by the American Board of Missions in 1831. "My dear mother," Agnes would say, "was born in a grass house." On her father's side, her grandparents were the Rev. and Mrs. William Patterson Alexander, who arrived in the Hawaiian Islands in 1832 after a voyage of 186 days. One need only read James Michener's “Hawaii” to realize what hardships these newly wedded servants of Christ were forced to endure on the decrepit, overloaded whaling ship of that era.