August 8, 2017

Keith-Ransom-Keher – Hand of the Cause, first American Baha’i martyr; “the symbol of the unity of the East and West”

Mrs. Keith Ransom-Kehler's passing is, indeed, an irretrievable loss which the Bahá'í world has come to suffer at a time when her presence in their midst was so greatly needed, not only because of her inspiring personality, but due to her intelligent, wise and energetic handling of the many and varied problems confronting the followers of the Faith in Persia. For more than one year she toiled and suffered, undismayed by the forces of darkness which so increasingly challenge the devotion and loyalty, and hamper the progress of the work, of our Persian brethren. Nothing was strong enough to sap the vitality of her faith and neither the opposition of the Government, nor the slackness and inefficiency of those with whom she had to work, could possibly discourage and dishearten her. Her faith was deep, her energy inexhaustible. And she was, indeed, fully repaid for all that she did, whether in connection with the teaching of the Message, or in regard to the consolidation of the nascent administrative institutions of the Cause in the very land of its birth.

July 2, 2017

Mirzá Muhammad-Báir - the first in Mashhad, Persia, to embrace the Cause of the Báb; - builder of Bábíyyih, the first Baha’i center; designer of structural reinforcement of Fort Tabarsi; lieutenant and trusted counsellor of Quddús

Mírzá Muhammad-Báqir, known as Haratí, though originally a resident of Qayin. He was a close relative of the father of Nabíl-i-Akbar, and was the first in Mashhad to embrace the Cause. It was he who built the Bábíyyih, and who devotedly served Quddús during his sojourn in that city. When Mullá Husayn hoisted the Black Standard, he, together with his child, Mírzá Muhammad-Kázim, eagerly enrolled under his banner and went forth with him to Mázindarán… It was Mírzá Muḥammad-Báqir who acted as the standard-bearer of the company, who designed the plan of the fort, its walls and turrets and the moat which surrounded it, who succeeded Mullá Husayn in organising the forces of his companions and in leading the charge against the enemy, and who acted as the intimate companion, the lieutenant and trusted counsellor of Quddús until the hour when he fell a martyr in the path of the Cause. 
- Nabil  (‘The Dawn-Breakers’; translated and edited by Shoghi Effendi)

May 10, 2017

Charles Dunning & Ted Cardell, 1965 - two Knights of Baha'u'llah

Charles Dunning, the Englishman who became the Knight of Bahá'u'lláh for the Orkney Islands at the age of seventy. (Violette Nakhjavani, ‘The Great African Safari’)

One of Rúhíyyih Khánum's favourite stories was about the Guardian and Charles Dunning. Charlie Dunning was a wonderful Bahá'í, a little man, and he looked like Popeye. And at the table, the Guardian would sit here and Charlie would sit there at the end of the table because he was a Knight of Bahá'u'lláh, and they would lean towards each other and talk, and he would wave his finger at the Shoghi Effendi's nose and say "Guardian. they tell me so and so", and the Guardian would lean towards him and answer, and they would talk in this way. The Guardian loved Charles Dunning. He saw the beauty and the spirit in Charlie although most people would think he was a funny little man. And the thing that struck me after Charlie had been on pilgrimage, and it's made me think a lot about the way one's appearance mirrors one's soul, you might say, because Charlie spoke at the National Convention about his pilgrimage, and the thing that struck me was that superficially Charlie was an ugly little man, but when he was talking he was beautiful. Really beautiful. And he hadn't changed, his features were the same, but this was a beautiful person talking, and I think his soul was as it were reflecting what the Guardian had seen in him. (Ian Semple, from a talk: ‘The Guardianship and the Universal House of Justice’)

Edmund (Ted) Cardell became a Bahá'í in Canada in 1948 and returned to his father's farm in England some time later. He pioneered to Kenya in October 1951 where he was a founder member of the first local Assembly in Nairobi. He became Knight of Bahá'u'lláh for South West Africa in 1953 and returned to England in 1963. He was elected to the National Assembly in 1973. (Biographical Notes; 'Unfolding Destiny’)

April 7, 2017

George Townshend – “dearly loved, much admired, greatly gifted, outstanding Hand of Cause”

circa 1920

Deeply mourn the passing of dearly loved, much admired, greatly gifted, outstanding Hand of Cause George Townshend. His death on morrow [1957] of publication of his crowning achievement [Christ and Baha'u'llah] robs the British followers of Baha'u'llah of their most distinguished collaborator and Faith itself of one of its stoutest defenders. His sterling qualities, his scholarship, his challenging writings, his high ecclesiastical position unrivalled by any Baha'i in western world, entitle him to rank with Thomas Breakwell and Dr. Esslemont, one of three luminaries shedding brilliant luster on annals of Irish, English and Scottish Baha'i communities. His fearless championship of the Cause he loved so dearly, served so valiantly, constitutes significant landmark in British Baha'i history. So enviable a position calls for national tribute to his memory by assembled delegates and visitors at forthcoming British Baha'i Convention. Assure relatives of deepest loving sympathy in grievous loss. Confident his reward is inestimable in Abha Kingdom.
- Shoghi Effendi  (‘Messages to the Baha'i World’)

February 10, 2017

Siegfried Schopflocher (1877-1953) - Hand of the Cause of God

Mr. Schopflocher is… truly one of the most distinguished believers in the West. He has a deep knowledge of the Cause, and specially of the Administration, and has contributed a unique share towards its establishment and consolidation in the States. For many years a member of the American N.S.A., he revealed such great qualities of heart and mind as very few of his fellow-members were able to manifest. He supported valiantly and generously, and through both moral and financial means, the various institutions of the Cause, and in particular the institution of the Bahá’í Fund which, as you can well realize, is the foundation stone of every phase of Bahá’í activity.

In this connection it should be remembered that it was mainly due to his unfailing and most generous assistance that the Temple in Wilmette was built. The friends owe him indeed a great debt, and can never be too grateful for what he has accomplished, and is still so splendidly accomplishing, for the Faith in the West. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (From a letter dated 25 September 1936 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia and New Zealand)

January 29, 2017

Fred Schechter (1927-2017) - Knight of Baha'u'llah; Former Counsellor member of the International Teaching Centre

The Universal House of Justice sent the following message to all National Spiritual Assemblies on 29 January:

We feel great sorrow as we mourn the passing of humble, loving, steadfast servant of the Cause of God, Fred Schechter. His wide-ranging achievements, spread over many decades, are the fruits of a life lived with selfless devotion to the Faith. Not long after enrolling as a Baha'i, he answered the call of the beloved Guardian for believers to go to Africa, and there he was named a Knight of Baha'u'llah for French Somaliland. He also travelled as a pioneer to several countries in Latin America. His efforts to encourage Baha'i youth were a notable feature of his thirteen years as a Continental Counsellor in the Americas, years which culminated in his appointment to the International Teaching Centre. His wisdom, kindness, and good humour, combined with a practical approach and friendly demeanour, enabled him in so many settings to advance the Cause and to help others develop a capacity for service.

In the Holy Shrines we will supplicate for the progress of his illumined soul, now reunited in the realms above with his dear wife Julia. To his three children, as well as other family members, we offer our condolences. We call for memorial gatherings to be held in his honour in all Houses of Worship and in Baha'i communities throughout the world.

The Universal House of Justice
(Baha’i World News Service)

March 15, 2016

circa 1932: Adelaide Sharp with some Baha'is in Tehran

Adelaide Sharp is in the front row second from the left. Also in the picture is Shu'a'u'llah Ala'i (later appointed Hand of the Cause), first in the front row, and Ruhangiz Fatheazam, far right.

February 10, 2016

Mishkin-Qalam - 'the leading calligrapher of Persia"

Mishkin-Qalam ("musk-scented pen"), described by 'Abdu'l-Baha as "the leading calligrapher of Persia" who "enjoyed a special position among the court ministers of Tihran" and who served both Baha’u’llah and 'Abdu'l-Baha in 'Akka. (The Baha’i World 1968-1973)

January 19, 2016

Ruhiyyih Khanum with her father, 1948

Ruhiyyih Khanum with her father William Sutherland Maxwell in England, 1948

January 9, 2016

October 11, 2015

Elisabeth Charlotte (Lottie) Tobias

Lottie Tobias became a Baha'i in 1950 when there were only a few dozen believers in Netherlands. She was elected to the first Local Spiritual Assembly of Den Haag in 1952, and in 1957 was elected a member of the first Spiritual Assembly of the Benelux countries (Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg), serving as secretary for the Netherlands. In 1962 she was elected to the first National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the Netherlands, and served on that body until 1986. For 24 years she was the secretary.

September 27, 2015

Sears Family: on their way to South Africa

Bill, Marguerite and Michael Sears - absent from photo is Billy (Baha'i International Community's Media Bank)

August 16, 2015

Mary Maxwell - circa 1935

Mary Maxwell (Ruhiyyih Khanum) on a ski trip in Germany, circa 1935

July 5, 2015

John David Bosch - "saintly life, pioneer services, historic contribution of institution of summer school"

John David Bosch (1855-1946)
"His saintly life, pioneer services, historic contribution of institution of summer school, entitle him to rank among outstanding figures of the closing years of heroic, and opening years of formative age of the Baha'i Dispensation. Concourse on high extol his exalted services." (Shoghi Effendi)