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.