January 17, 2018

The Life and Service of the Greatest Holy Leaf - by Dr. Bahiyyih Nakhjavani

(Adapted from the address of Dr. Bahiyyih Nakhjavani to the Baha’i International Conference, Montreal, Quebec, 3 September 1982)

Across the world, from East to West, thousands of Baha’is have turned their hearts this year towards one single woman called the ‘Maid of Baha’. In conferences they have stood before multitudes to speak of the ‘Scion of Baha’, the ‘Remnant of Baha’. In solitude they have all found themselves speechless to describe adequately this ‘archetype of the people of Baha’. ‘Abdu’l-Baha Himself refers to her in a way that recalls all that cannot be said: ‘I dare make no mention’, He wrote, ‘of the feelings which separation from her have aroused in my heart. ...’ ‘I do not know’, He continues, ‘in what words I could describe my longing for my honoured sister.’

Shoghi Effendi, writing about his great-aunt after her passing in July 1932 also acknowledged that words could not adequately convey all that she was: ‘Not even a droplet of all thine endless love can I aspire to fathom, nor can I adequately praise and tell of even the most trifling out of all the events of thy precious life.’

How can we hope to encompass anything of her nature, therefore, when those who give us the words remind us that they will not suffice? How can we contain her when all our lives put together cannot comprehend the least trifling of the events she witnessed, the suffering she endured? It must be with feelings of awe that we approach this subject and with a sense of wonder that we ask: who was this ‘Maid’, this ‘Scion’, this ‘Remnant of Baha’ who must remain for all of time our ‘archetype’.