Category Archives History

Herald of the Covenant: A Tribute to William Henry (Harry) Randall

William Henry (Harry) Randall (19 April, 1863 - 11 Feb,1929)

William Henry (Harry) Randall (19 April, 1863 - 11 Feb,1929)

Immediately after my plane touched down in Boston, my host whisked me away in her car with a promise that I would love our destination.

We did not head towards the recognised highlights of the city such as the historic Boston Common or Harvard University or the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.

We drove instead to the historic suburb of Medford and arrived at a cemetery where, amidst the golden autumn leaves, was the simple grey slate headstone of William Henry (Harry) Randall (1863-1929).

To the outer world Harry Randall was a multi-millionaire Boston businessman who later lost his fortune.

To the Baha’i community Harry Randall is a true hero of the Faith, one loved by Abdu’l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi. Continue reading

The Twin Holy Birthdays of the Bab and Baha’u’llah

Twin Birthdays Bab and Bahaullah 864x486

Only a handful of humanity are aware that barely 160 years ago Iran witnessed a re-enactment of scenes that had occurred in Roman Judaea two millennia earlier. The ancient land — known as Persia at the time — was about to boil over and, as a result, a new religious movement peaceably inviting men and women to embrace a new commandment from God, had been all but vanquished. As a fluke of fate or fortune, its call for world unity as the will of God for our Age, had barely managed to reach beyond the borders of Persia and the Ottoman Empire — the two empires whose two monarchs and religious orthodoxies were determined to stamp out these ‘stirrers of sedition’. Today worldwide and unquenchable, this movement is alive and well. It is the Baha’i Faith. Continue reading

25th Anniversary of the passing of Hand of the Cause of God Collis Featherstone

Collis Featherstone (5th May, 1913 - 29th September, 1990)

Collis Featherstone (5th May, 1913 - 29th September, 1990)

The telephone rang. It was the Saturday morning of the long October Labor Day weekend in Australia. It was my mother ringing from Kathmandu, Nepal where she and my father, Collis Featherstone, were visiting the Baha’is before flying to Pakistan to attend a Youth Conference. I immediately suspected something was wrong. My father had just passed away following a heart attack. I was stunned, shocked, horrified, deeply deeply saddened and rocked to my very soul. How did this happen, how were we to go to Nepal for the funeral and how were we to arrange ticketing quickly with the Monday being a holiday and no travel agent open (no computer ticketing in those days)? Who was going to look after our four children?

The only answer was prayer. Answers came, and with the help of dear friends, my husband Ho-San and I flew out of Sydney to Kathmandu on Tuesday morning 2nd October, together with Judy Hassall as the representative of the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia. The funeral was held on Friday 5th October, and my father was laid to rest in the Baha’i Cemetery in Kathmandu. Continue reading

The Life & Legacy of Bahiyyih Khanum – A Talk by Dr. Janet Khan

Life & Legacy of Bahiyyih Khanum - Janet Khan 864x486

Here at Baha’i Blog, we love listening to Baha’i-inspired talks, so we were so excited when we heard that the LSA of the Gold Coast had invited Dr. Janet Khan to give a talk at the Gold Coast Baha’i Centre in Australia.

In this talk, Dr. Janet Khan gives a talk on the extraordinary life and legacy of Bahiyyih Khanum, the daughter of Baha’u’llah. Bahiyyih Khanum, given the title the Greatest Holy Leaf, contributed significantly in the early years of the Faith. Her steadfastness during a critical period in the history of the Faith and during her appointment as the head of the Baha’i Faith testifies to the greatness of her character. Continue reading

Haji Mirza Haydar Ali – The Delight of Hearts

Haji Mirza Haydar Ali

Haji Mirza Haydar Ali

Haji Mirza Haydar Ali is regarded as one of Baha’u’llah’s most outstanding disciples yet very few people know of his servitude towards the Baha’i Faith. A staunch Baha’i, Haydar Ali went above and beyond to defend the Covenant of Baha’u’llah and later championed the Faith during Abdu’l-Baha’s Ministry, protecting it from the onslaught of Covenant breakers.

But it was Haji Mirza Haydar Ali’s distinct sense of humour and wit, which I believe was his distinguishing characteristic. It is no wonder that he was given the title ‘The Delight of Hearts’, for delighting hearts was indeed his forte. The following story is just one example of his humorous persona:

“One day we were outside the city of Isfahan in a very pleasant place where there was a mosque and a stream and a few trees. We had taken provisions to spend the night. We went to the mosque, where we planned to stay. A few of the inhabitants were curious, so they entered the mosque and someone asked me where I was from. I had a slight Isfahani accent, but I said that I was from Shiraz.

“Why are you lying?” the man replied. “It is obvious that you are from Isfahan. Seventy thousand angels will curse a liar.” Continue reading

Baha’i Chronicles – A New Site Chronicling the History of the Baha’i Faith

Baha'i Chronicles 864x609

Here at Baha’i Blog we’re passionate about Baha’i history, and so we’re super excited to share with everyone a wonderful new site called Baha’i Chronicles, which aims to document the stories of the heroes and heroines of the Baha’i Faith, both past and present.

Baha’i Chronicles ( is the brainchild of Neda Nassir Najibi and Vanda Marie Khadem. Three years ago, Neda Najibi had started a series on her Facebook page titled “Did You Know”, which portrayed stories about Baha’i heroes and heroines, and while researching these individuals, she realized that there wasn’t a single website which captured the heroism, struggles, victories, sacrifices, and dedication of all of the Baha’is, both past and present. The stories of Baha’i heroes and heroines had also been a constant source of strength and inspiration in Vanda’s life, and it was her dream that future generations of children have access to the Baha’i Faith’s precious global heritage. So after several phone conversations, texts, emails, brainstorming sessions, and with the unfortunate passing of Neda’s father Nassir Najibi, who was an enormous influence on her, the two of them came up with idea and launched Baha’i Chronicles in his honor.

Neda is an old friend of mine, and so I decided to catch up with her to find out more about Baha’i Chronicles: Continue reading

How Baha’i History is Charted

How Bahai History is Charted

The Revelation of Baha’u’llah redefines everything, including how history is charted and mapped. The sacred history of the Faith was (and will continue to be) delineated into cycles, ages, epochs and stages as explained by Abdu’l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi. This conception of time is both linear and cyclical, and in this article, I’ve attempted to briefly outline how Baha’i history is charted. Continue reading

Tahirih – The Force of a Pure Heart

Force, the old standard, is losing its dominance, and intuition, insight, glimpses of cosmic consciousness and the spiritual qualities of love and service in which woman is strong are gaining ascendancy. And you see that this new epoch is an age in which masculine and feminine elements of civilisation are becoming more evenly adjusted. Man and woman are as the two wings of the bird of humanity and this bird cannot attain its highest flight until these two wings are equally strong and equally poised. One of the important teachings of the Baha’i Faith is that women should be regarded as the equals of men and should enjoy equal rights and privileges, equal education and equal opportunities. Tahirih had to die for these ideals but today our task is to live for them. – Martha Root

To commemorate International Women’s Day, which falls on 8 March, I would like to honour a remarkable woman who lived a century ago. Her radical life was not only significant then but remains profoundly relevant today. She had passion, determination, guts and grit running through her veins. A warrior for the emancipation of women. A force to be reckoned with.

A life tragically cut short at the age of thirty-six, she was the first woman suffrage martyr. Put to death by strangulation, her immortal words ring through the ages:

You can kill me as soon as you like, but you cannot stop the emancipation of women.

Her name was Tahirih – “The Pure One”. Continue reading

Amatu’l-Baha Ruhiyyih Khanum

Amatu’l-Baha Ruḥiyyih Khanum, born Mary Sutherland Maxwell Aug. 8, 1910 - Jan. 19, 2000. (Photo: Baha'i World Centre)

Amatu’l-Baha Ruḥiyyih Khanum, born Mary Sutherland Maxwell
Aug. 8, 1910 – Jan. 19, 2000. (Photo: Baha’i World Centre)

15 years ago, on January 19, 2000, Madame Ruhiyyih Rabbani, born as Mary Sutherland Maxwell, and affectionately known by the title Amatu’l-Baha Ruhiyyih Khanum, passed away from this earthly plain. She was the Handmaiden of Glory; the beloved consort of Shoghi Effendi; his “shield”, his “helpmate”, and his “tireless collaborator”; a Hand of the Cause of God; and the “Baha’i world’s last living link to the family of Abdu’l-Baha”.

On the Sunday afternoon that her precious remains were laid to rest, the sweetness of a chanted Persian prayer reverberated throughout the garden where nearly a thousand friends had gathered from places far-flung across the globe to pay tribute and homage to this beloved personage. A soft rain began to fall gently upon all there; perhaps nature’s own testimony to the grief felt in all the hearts and the tears upon many a cheek.

The beauty of the love story that was to become Ruhiyyih Khanum’s life was one that began long before her birth. Mary Sutherland Maxwell was born on 8 August 1910 in New York City. The beloved only-child of William Sutherland Maxwell and May Ellis Bolles, she was a result of the prayers of Abdu’l-Baha for the fulfillment of May Bolles’ heart’s desire to have a child, and perhaps, the gift of her mother’s complete acquiescence and resignation to the Will of God. Continue reading

Dr. Susan Moody: A Dedicated Pioneer Doctor

Dr. Moody with some friends in Tehran, 1920. Photo courtesy of the Baha'is of the U.S. (

Seated in the center is Dr. Moody with some friends in Tehran, 1920. (Photo courtesy of the Baha’is of the U.S.)

On November 20th, 1851 a remarkable person was born into this world. Susan Isobel Moody would grow up to dedicate herself wholeheartedly to bringing medical care and education to women and girls in Iran from 1909 to 1934. Born and raised by a respected Protestant family in New York, Susan studied the fine arts and singing. She taught and then attempted to become a doctor but the dissection of cadavers proved too much and she did not complete her training. She was a “spinster-mother” and helped to raise five of her young relatives. While these are all wonderful accomplishments, they pale in comparison to her champion pioneer work in her later years.

In 1903, Susan’s life took a dramatic turn. She became a Baha’i, having learned of the Faith from Isabella Bittingham in New York City (Abdu’l-Baha called Isabella the “Baha’i maker” because of her efficiency at teaching the Faith). In private prayer, Susan vowed: “I hereby devote, consecrate and sacrifice all that I am, and all that I have and all that I hope to be and to have, to Thee, O Divine Father, to be used in accordance with Thy Purpose”. She began teaching children’s classes (the first to be offered in Chicago) and hosting meetings in her home. Bracing herself, she returned to medical school, completed her degree and set up a small practice. She was now a 52-year-old Baha’i doctor. Continue reading