April 22, 2011

Dr. Furutan - One of the Principals of Tarbiyat School, Secretary of Iranian National Spiritual Assembly for 24 years, One of the Nine Custodial Hands of the Cause

Hand of the Cause Dr. 'Ali-Akbar Furutan

In the face of sustained persecution, Dr. Furutan's family left their native city of Sabzivir in Khurasan, Persia, in 1914 and settled in Ashkhabad, Russia. As a youth he became an active member of the local Baha'i community and, whilst still in his teens, became a teacher in its school. In 1926 he won a scholarship to the University of Moscow to study education and child psychology. In 1930 he returned to Iran where he established a school for Baha'i children in one of the villages. Dr. Furutan was appointed as principal of the Tarbiyat school for boys until its closure in 1934, and wrote study books for Baha’i children’s classes which are still in use. In April 1934 he was elected to the newly formed National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Iran and served as its secretary until the passing of Shoghi Effendi in November of 1957. Dr. Furutan was appointed a Hand of the Cause by Shoghi Effendi, in the first contingent of Hands, in December 1951. In 1957 he became one of the nine custodial Hands of the Cause in Haifa. Dr. Furutan’s Persian publications are extensive, and several have been translated into English. (Adapted from ‘A Concise Encyclopedia of the Baha’i Faith’, by Peter Smith)(See also Baha'i Calendar - this month in history)

From the Universal House of Justice:

Born in Sabzivar, Iran, on 29 April 1905, 'Ali Akbar Furutan moved with his family to Ishqabad in what was then Russian Turkestan, and, through his years of school and university, be took an active part in the work of the Baha'i communities of Ishqabad, Baku, Moscow and other parts of Russia. In 1930 he was expelled from the Soviet Union for his involvement in Baha'i activities and, from that time on, played an ever more significant role in the work and administration of the Iranian Baha'i community. In December 1951 he was among the first to be appointed by Shoghi Effendi as Hands of the Cause of God. Following the passing of the Guardian, he was one of the nine Hands of the Cause selected, at their first Conclave, to serve as Custodians in the Holy Land. For the remaining forty-six years of his life he laboured strenuously at the World Centre, undertaking journeys throughout the world, assisting, advising and enthusing the friends and their national and local institutions. These journeys culminated in 1990 and 1991 with visits to the newly re-emerging Baha'i communities of the countries of the Soviet Union.

'Ali Akbar Furutan's single-minded devotion to the Faith and its Guardian, the vital role he played in the establishment of the Administrative Order in Iran, his contribution to the spiritual and material education of children, his services as a Hand of the Cause of God, and his unswerving support of the Universal House of Justice together constitute an imperishable record of service in the annals of the Cause. His penetrating mind, his loving concern and his sparkling humour are ineffaceable memories in the hearts of the thousands of believers with whom he spoke. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a message dated 27 November 2003)