Who Were the Hands of the Cause?

Some of the Hands of the Cause with Counsellors of the International Teaching Centre, in 1973: (front row, left to right) Mr. Ali-Akbar Furutan, Mrs. Florence Mayberry, Madame Ruhiyyih Rabbani, Mr. Abul-Qasim Faizi, (back row, left to right) Mr. Paul Haney, Mr. Aziz Yazdi, Mr. Hooper Dunbar. (Photo: Baha’i Media Bank)

The Hands of the Cause of God were Baha’is appointed by Baha’u’llah, Abdu’l-Baha or Shoghi Effendi, as the “Chief Stewards of Baha’u’llah’s embryonic World Commonwealth.”.

What is a chief steward? A steward is similar to a manager, or director, and so the ‘chief stewards’ of the Faith managed and directed the global activities of the Baha’i Faith. Shoghi Effendi clearly defined their work as “the propagation and preservation of the unity of the Faith of Baha’u’llah.”.

Abdu’l-Baha also described the duties of the Hands of the Cause. He stated that they…

…are to diffuse the Divine Fragrances, to edify the souls of men, to promote learning, to improve the character of all men and to be, at all times and under all conditions, sanctified and detached from earthly things. They must manifest the fear of God by their conduct, their manners, their deeds and their words.

Baha’u’llah appointed four Hands, four were posthumously named by the Master, and 42 were given this station by Shoghi Effendi. Little is known about the Hands from the early days of the Faith and the Guardian stated that little will be known about them until the history of the Cause in Iran and the near East is written and available – a time which the Universal House of Justice has said has yet to come. Furthermore, as the study of letters and archives are conducted, we may even learn about other Hands from that time period. Continue reading

New Books About the Hands of the Cause for Children & Youth

Two new biographies are available about the lives of the Hands of the Cause for young readers! These books, published by the Baha’i Publishing Trust of India, are the result of true team-effort and international collaboration between Elika and Tarrant (Tarry) Mahony and Vered Ehsani. The first volume describes the lives and heroic acts of service of Amelia Collins, Dorothy Baker and Tarazu’llah Samandari, the second; Martha Root, Enoch Olinga and Rahmatu’llah Muhajir. A third volume is currently in progress. All are meant for a young audience — which makes them all the more special!  Continue reading

Hands of the Cause Documentary Series: An Interview with Fred Badiyan

The Hands of the Cause of God documentary series is a classic set of four documentaries made by filmmaker Fred Badiyan. This outstanding four-part documentary recounts the lives of the Hands of the Cause of God within the historical context of the Baha’i Faith. Told through first person interviews and incredible never-before-seen archival footage, their incredible lives and service come to life in a powerful way, and which will inspire future generations.

Fred Badiyan – who happens to be my great-uncle by the way – has really dedicated his life to serving the Baha’i Faith through media, and his example has truly been a huge inspiration for me personally. He has made many Baha’i documentaries including Crossing Frontiers, Not Even A Lamp, Jewel In The Lotus, and Shoghi Effendi: Guardian of the Baha’i Faith.

Years in the making, Fred made this wonderful series on the Hands of the Cause of God years ago, and it’s now been digitized and made available on 9StarMedia, so I decided to touch base with Fred and ask him a few questions about this important documentary series: Continue reading

A Tribute to William Sears, Hand of the Cause

Hand of the Cause of God William Sears (1911-1992). Photo courtesy of the Baha'i International Community.

When setting out to write this article, I felt overwhelmed: William Sears accomplished so much in his 80 years. How to distill decades of service, achievements, and adventures into a short article? Here I’ve only captured the outlines of a man who seized every opportunity to serve—who once said, “I need only to remember one thing: nothing must come between me and my responsibilities to God and to my fellow man. Glory is not his who loves his country, his family, or himself alone. Glory is his who loves his kind. This, I believe, has helped me to look upon each dawn as a new adventure.”

A spiritual light burned in Sears practically from his birth on March 28, 1911. Starting in 1912, at 18 months old, he had dreams about a Holy Man—dreams which, he later discovered, began when that Holy Man, Abdu’l-Baha, visited Minnesota, where Sears grew up. Raised in the Catholic Church, Sears was full of questions about religion, and was supported in his investigations by his grandfather. His father, however, was bewildered as the boy voraciously studied the Bible and proclaimed, “Someday I’m going to go all over the world and tell people about God.” Continue reading

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

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

Biography of Hand of the Cause of God, Mr. Ali-Akbar Furutan

Iran Furutan Muhajir has written a biography of her beloved father Hand of the Cause of God Ali-Akbar Furutan. The US Baha’i Publishing Trust writes that to read this book, “is to read the story of the Baha’i Faith in the twentieth century and to catch a glimpse of a man who devoted himself wholly and selflessly to the service of humanity.” From his years as a youth and secretary of the first National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Iran, to the loving manner in which he served as a Hand of the Cause, this book “is not merely the definitive biography of a beloved figure but a gift to the Baha’is of the world.”

It is our esteemed pleasure to share with you what Iran Furutan Muhajir told us about this book, titled Hand of the Cause of God Furutan.

Here’s our conversation:

Baha’i Blog: Can you tell us a little bit about the book and why you decided to write it?

My father, Hand of the Cause of God Mr Furutan, was reluctant to write anything about himself. Years ago he had written a short version of his biography called Hikayate Del, The Story of My Heart, which was translated into English from Farsi. However it did not reflect the vast scope of his service in Iran while serving for more than twenty years as the Secretary of the National Spiritual Assembly from the first day of its inception. For years I asked him to write a little more about his life. After his passing to the Abha Kingdom, I found a seventy page note book in his handwriting in Farsi about some of his events of his life. He had put a note on it that it should go to me after his passing and had given me permission to do what I wanted with it. It took me about three years to research about his life of service and then I sat to write his biography and translated and included his memoirs in it.

Continue reading

Faizi – A New Book about the Life of Hand of the Cause Abu’l-Qásim Faizi

Faizi - May Faizi-Moore 360x549When I was about four years old a very special person visited our home in Papua New Guinea and met with the Baha’i community. I recall my parents being so enamoured with him, and like so many of the Baha’is who met him, they were taken by his wisdom, his humor and his humility.

The visitor was Hand of the Cause Abu’l-Qásim Faizi.

I was actually even named after his son Naysan, and my parents were just one example of the many Baha’is everywhere who loved him. I actually have a picture with Mr. Faizi from that time and I wish that I was older and could have known him, so whenever I would hear stories about him, I would listen attentively, so the moment I saw the release of a new book entitled Faizi by his daughter May Faizi-Moore, I bought a copy straight away!

I managed to get in touch with May Faizi-Moore to ask her some questions about this wonderful new biography about her father:
Continue reading

Baha’i Blogcast with Rainn Wilson – Episode 24: My essay ‘Me and The Prophet’

Hello and welcome to the Baha’i Blogcast with me your host, Rainn Wilson.

In this series of podcasts I interview members of the Baha’i Faith and friends from all over the world about their hearts, and minds, and souls, their spiritual journeys, what they’re interested in, and what makes them tick.

In this particular episode I wanted to do something a little different, as right now, millions across the globe are celebrating the 200th Anniversary of the Birth of Baha’u’llah, the founder of the Baha’i Faith, and I wanted to honor this very special occasion. Continue reading

Personal Memories of Clara Dunn – An Online Presentation by Mariette Leong

As Baha’is in Australia celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the Baha’i Faith in Australia, in this special online presentation, we are fortunate to have Mariette Leong, daughter of Hand of the Cause of God Collis Featherstone, shares her personal memories of Clara Dunn (often referred to as ‘Mother Dunn’), who together with her husband Hyde Dunn, were the first Baha’is to come to Australia in 1920. Continue reading

Religion: A Cause of Prejudice?

For many people, the heading of this article will seem absurd. “Religion: A cause of prejudice?” well of course it’s a cause of prejudice, they will state, why bother with a question mark. You only have to pick up the paper, or read any history book to see the horrific injustices caused in the name of religion.

But does any label, including “Baha’i”, foster religious prejudice? Continue reading

A Tribute to Hyde & Clara Dunn – by Mariette Leong

In this online presentation, Mariette Leong, daughter of Hand of the Cause of God Collis Featherstone, pays tribute to Hyde and Clara Dunn (often referred to as ‘Father and Mother Dunn’) by telling us about their lives, and also sharing some of her own personal memories as well.

John Henry Hyde Dunn and Clara Dunn were the first Baha’is to come to Australia on April 10, 1920, and this presentation takes place as Australian Baha’is celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the Baha’i Faith in Australia. Continue reading

Varqa and Ruhu’llah: 101 Stories of Bravery on the Move

Boris Handal has penned a tribute to two outstanding heroes of Baha’i history. Titled Varqa and Ruhu’llah: 101 Stories of Bravery on the Move, this book shares an intimate portrait of an incredible relationship between a father and son, and other members or descendants of their family. The legacy they have left the Baha’i community will undoubtedly inspire greater efforts and sacrifices in contributing to the betterment of the world, and Boris’ book will help share their stories.

I am grateful to Boris for agreeing to tell us a little about his book and the acts of bravery it describes. Here’s what he shared with us:

Baha’i Blog: Firstly, can you tell us a little bit about the book?

Varqa and Ruhu’llah: 101 Stories of Bravery on the Move is the story of a father and a son that arose in the 19th century to spread the Faith of Baha’u’llah throughout Iran with great strength and resilience. Varqa, the father, was a physician and a talented poet, and his gifted junior youth son, Ruhu’llah, taught the Baha’i Faith with zeal and courage to a country sunk in the most dire fanaticism, corruption and bigotry. Varqa and Ruhu’llah were able to teach both the rich and the poor, the prince and the commoner, the scholar and the illiterate, the clergy and the laic, in freedom or in prison.

For their teaching activities, they were imprisoned more than once. Both attained the presence of Bahaʼu’llah and Abdu’l-Baha. Their saga ended with their tragic martyrdom in the royal prison of Tehran in 1896 but has continued to live like a legend inspiring Baha’is around the world to serve humanity.

The book describes four generations of the Varqa family starting in 1846 when Mulla Mihdi, Varqa’s father and a perfume-maker, accepted the Faith of the Bab with great zeal in the city of Yazd. Varqa was posthumously elevated to the rank of Hand of the Cause. Born Mirza Ali- Muḥammad, he was given the designation Varqa (Dove) by Baha’u’llah because of his eloquence as a poet and a Baha’i speaker and travel teacher. Varqa’s son and grandson, Valiyu’llah Varqa and Dr. Ali-Muḥammad Varqa, respectively, were appointed Hands of the Cause by Shoghi Effendi.

Continue reading

With the Hands of Power: Matthew Levine’s Newest Album

Matthew Levine is an award winning songwriter and composer who has recently released a new album titled With the Hands of Power. From choral to cabaret pieces, Matthew’s works are rich in their diversity of styles and genres. His other albums include A House Divided, Acquiescence, and A Sacrifice to Thee. Matthew kindly agreed to answer a few questions about his latest soul-stirring work and to give us a bit of context behind its production.

Continue reading

An Evening of Stories with Violette Haake

A few years ago, I was visiting Violette and Roderic Haake at their home in Melbourne, Australia, and I was filled with joy as we sat around their kitchen table, drinking tea and sharing stories.

Mrs. Violette Haake was a former member of the International Teaching Centre. She was born in 1928 and dedicated her life to sharing the teachings of the Baha’i Faith, whether in Iran, the United States, Australia or many of the other places she visited as an Auxiliary Board Member, Counsellor or member of the International Teaching Centre.

I was so moved by the recollections that she shared with me that we organized an impromptu get-together that same night and invited some of the young Baha’is in Melbourne to come hear about some of her extraordinary experiences and delight in her wisdom and encouragement.

Thankfully, we filmed what she said that evening and I feel honored to be able to share this video with you. Continue reading

An Evening of Stories with Violette Haake [Audio Version]

This is the audio version of the video ‘An Evening of Stories with Violette Haake’, which you can watch here.

A few years ago, I was visiting Violette and Roderic Haake at their home in Melbourne, Australia, and I was filled with joy as we sat around their kitchen table, drinking tea and sharing stories.

Mrs. Violette Haake was a former member of the International Teaching Centre. She was born in 1928 and dedicated her life to sharing the teachings of the Baha’i Faith, whether in Iran, the United States, Australia or many of the other places she visited as an Auxiliary Board Member, Counsellor or member of the International Teaching Centre.

I was so moved by the recollections that she shared with me that we organized an impromptu get-together that same night and invited some of the young Baha’is in Melbourne to come hear about some of her extraordinary experiences and delight in her wisdom and encouragement.

Thankfully, we filmed what she said that evening and I feel honored to be able to share this video with you. Continue reading

Interview with Dr. Moojan Momen About the Afnan Library Trust (UK)

Dr. Moojan Momen at the doors of the Afnan Library. Photo: Courtesy of Immersed Photography

The events of Baha’i history are so close to us that we can easily be connected to those early heroic days–Rainn Wilson wrote about meeting a person who had met Baha’u’llah! I am fascinated by our history and how we are recording, capturing and preserving it for future generations. When I came across the Afnan Library Trust’s Facebook page and saw a photograph I had never seen before of the Greatest Holy Leaf, I was delighted and thrilled and I wanted to share some of that excitement with you (as well as the photograph, which can be seen below!). In this interview, Dr Moojan Momen, one of the Trustees of the Afnan Library, shares a little bit about this extraordinary institution:

Continue reading

Remembering ‘Milly’: A Tribute to Amelia Collins

Amelia Engelder Collins (7 June, 1873-1 January, 1962). Photo courtesy of the Baha'i International Community.

The very first time I heard of Amelia Collins was when I was a child, maybe five or six, visiting the Holy Land with my family. We were walking along the wide path in Bahji, the only sound our footsteps on the white pebbles, and before us towered a beautiful wrought-iron gilded gate, leading to the Shrine of Baha’u’llah.

‘This is the ‘Collins Gate’’, my mother whispered to me. ‘Named after Amelia Collins.’

In my child’s mind’s eye, Amelia Collins too, was a figure who towered above me like this enormous gate. When I finally saw photos of her, it surprised me that, as described by Hand of the Cause Mr Abu’l-Qasim Faizi, she was, in fact, quite small – ‘a slender, white-haired, very upright, elderly lady.’ When I began to read about her life, however, I realised that this incredible woman was, indeed, like this gate: strong, upright and truly a spiritual giant. Mr Faizi goes on to describe the gate itself as standing ‘silently…as a loving remembrance of the one who adored the Guardian of the Faith – Shoghi Effendi.’ Continue reading