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not be better for you to forsake your room in 

the college and come to live with us in our home; I have a sister, and if agreeable to you, I will be more than happy to 

arrange a marriage between you, so the bond of love and affection may thus be strengthened between you and our 

family.’ My father readily consented to this wise suggestion, and Háj I Aga Muhammad, after consulting with his 

mother, found that she not only had no objections, but was most eager to bring about the union. His mother said: ‘Last 

night I saw, in the world of dreams, a nobleman (Siyyid) with luminous face visit our home. He carried in his hands 

two lamps. Now that Siyyid must be this personage, and unquestionably you must hasten the consummation of this 


“Then Haji Aga Mul?ammad invited 


many friends to a betrothal feast, and his sister, who is my mother, was affianced to my father. It was well known that my father had 

no children from his first wife. Two years passed after his marriage with my mother, but no child was born. Then His Holiness the 

Báb, traveling from Shiráz, arrived in 1sf Than, and took up his abode in the home of Imám-Jum’ih. My uncle, Mirzá Ibráhim, the 

father of the King of the Martyrs and the Beloved of the Martyrs, was appointed by Imám-Jum’ih as host to His Holiness the Mb, to 

be ready at all times to serve Him under all circumstances. One night he invited to dinner His Holiness the Mb, who graciously 

accepted this invitation. 

. . . 

Those present at that glorious feast received the bounties and favors of the Mb, and hstened to His Words 

until supper was served. Then they all sat down to a spiritual and material feast. While partaking of the supper, His Holiness the Bâb 

turned to one of those present and made inquiries about the children of my father. That person answered that, although he had been 

twice married, no children were born to him. His Holiness the Mb then offered my father a spoonful of sweets. He ate, and at that 

moment it occurred to his mind that the blessed will of the Lord had at last destined the birth of a child for him. When the feast was 

over and he had returned to his home, he mentioned this fact to my mother. Having kept a little of the sweets, he gave it to her. After 

eight months and nine days I was born into the world.”  

“In compliance with the command of the Blessed Perfection (Bahã’u’lláh) Siyyid Mihdi Dhaji arrived in Persia, and later passed 

through Ifãhán to promulgate the Cause of God. A great feast was prepared for him, and all the believers clustered around inquiring 

eagerly the news of the Holy Land, and all the details concerning the Blessed Family and an account of the imprisonment of the 

believers in the barracks of ‘Akká. Among the inquirers was Shms os Zoha, the wife of my uncle, and a member of the household of 

the King of the Martyrs. She asked of Siyyid Mihdi:  

‘While you were in the Presence of Bahá’u’lláh, did you ever hear whether any girl 






had been spoken of or selected for the Master ‘Abdu’l-Bahá?’ He answered, ‘No, but one day the Blessed Perfection was walking in 

the men’s apartment and speaking. Then He turned His face to me and said, ‘Aga Siyyid Mihdi! I had a remarkable dream last night. I 

dreamt that the face of the beautiful girl who is living in Tihrán, whose hand in marriage we asked from Mirzá Hasan for the Greatest 

Branch, became dark and obscure. At the same moment, the face of another girl appeared on the scene whose countenance was 

luminous and whose heart enlightened. We have selected her to become the wife of the Greatest Branch.’ Except for the above talk 

from the lips of the Blessed Perfection, I have heard nothing.  

“When my aunt returned to the house and saw me, she declared by the One God that the very moment when Siyyid Mihdi was relating 

to us the dream of Bahá’u’lláh, it had occurred to her mind that, without question, I was that girl, and ere long we would realize that 

she was right. I wept and answered: ‘Far be it, for I am not worthy of such a bounty. I beg of thee never let another word concerning 

the matter issue from thy lips; do not speak about it.’  

Munirih Khánum continues the story of how she traveled to the Holy Land through successive instructions from Bahá’u’lláh to her 

relatives. En route to their destination they met many friends who tried to prevent them from going to the Holy Land, saying that in 

these days no one is permitted to go to ‘Akkã because some sad and unfortunate events had caused anew the incarceration of the 

friends, and the authorities did not permit any Bahã’i to enter the city of ‘Akká. “This news disturbed us a great deal, and we 

wondered what we should do, but Shaykh Salman assured us that these conditions did not apply to us, and made us feel confident that 

we should enter the Holy Land with the utmost ease and tranquillity, even if all the believers were thrown into prison and under 

chains.” After many trials and difficulties on the way, they finally arrived in ‘Akká.  

“. . . 

members of the Blessed Family came to visit and welcome us. I returned with them, and for the first time stood in the Presence of 

the Blessed Perfection. The 


state of ecstasy and rapture that possessed me was beyond description. The first words of Bahá’u’llah were these: ‘We have brought 

you into the Prison at such a time when the door of meeting is closed to all the believers. This is for no other reason than to prove to 

everyone the Power and Might of God.’ I continued to live in the house of Kalim for nearly five months. I visited Bahá’u’llãh many 

times and then returned to my abode. Whenever Kalim returned from his visit to the Blessed Perfection he would tell me of His 

infinite bounties, and bring a material gift from Him for me. One day he arrived with a great happiness in his face. He said:  

‘I have brought a most wonderful gift for you. It is this—a new name has been given you and that name is Munirih (illumined).’  

“Then the night of union 

. . . 

drew nigh. I was dressed in a white robe which had been prepared for me by the fingers of the Greatest 

Holy Leaf, and which was more precious than the silks and velvets of Paradise. About nine o’clock. 

. . 

I was permitted to stand in the 

Presence of Bahá’u’llah. Attended by the Greatest Holy Leaf, I listened to the words of the Blessed Perfection. 


He said: ‘You are welcome! You are welcome! 0 thou My blessed leaf and maidservant. We have chosen thee and accepted thee to be 

the companion of the Greatest Branch and to serve Him. This is from My Bounty, to which there is no equal; the treasures of the earth 

and heaven cannot be compared with it. 

. . . 

Thou must be very thankful, for thou hast attained to this most great favor and bestowal. 

. . . 

May you always be under the protection of God!’  

“If I were to write the details of the fifty years of my association with the Beloved of the world, of His love, His mercy and bounty, I 

would need fifty years more of time and opportunity in order to write it; yet, if the seas of the world were turned into ink and the 

leaves of the forest into paper, I would not render adequate justice to the subject.”  

During the Convention of the Balui’is of the United States and Canada held in the year nineteen hundred and thirty-eight in the 

Foundation Hall of the Mashriqu’l 






Adhkár in Wilmette, a cable from Shoghi Effendi was read announcing the death of Munirih Khánum, better known to most of us as 

the Holy Mother, the beloved wife of ‘Abdu’l-Babá.  

The gathering was unprepared for the shock the reading of the cable produced. Many of us knew that Munirih Khánum had looked 

forward with eagerness to the time when she would rejoin her beloved ‘Abdu’l-Bahã and we were aware she had reached a venerable 

age; but this knowledge did not mitigate the deep sense of loss experienced by the departure of this noble and inspiring woman. We 

realized one of the great souls of the Heroic Age of the Cause had passed on. The atmosphere of the gathering became instantly altered 

and in the influx of the spirit that enveloped us, our hearts and our sympathetic thoughts became focused in Haifa with the Guardian 

and the Holy Family. 


During the springtime of nineteen hundred and thirty-seven when our family had the honor of being the guests of Shoghi Effendi in 

the Pilgrim House in Haifa, I took several informal snapshots of members of the Holy Family. These were shown to Munirih Khánum 

and apparently interested her. Later on word was conveyed to me that she would be pleased to have me take her photograph.  

On a subsequent afternoon I was asked to go to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s home, across the street from the Pilgrim House. There I had the honor 

of being received by Zia Khánum 


and of being presented to the Holy Mother and to the other ladies present who were gathered in the reception room in 

the rear of the home. There during certain afternoons it is the custom of Zia Khánum and other ladies of the Holy 

Family to receive Bahá’i ladies of Haifa and visiting pilgrims. On this occasion, as is usual at these gatherings, tea was 

served, and the conversation related to Bahá’i matters.  

For the photographs taken that afternoon a small camera lent by Ruhiyyih Khánum was mostly used and they are, in 

reality, snapshot group pictures from which enlargements of Munirih Khánum were made.  

The photographs have a historic value due to their being the only ones taken during the later years of her life. It was 

almost unbelievable that at the time they were made Munirih Khánum had reached the venerable age of ninety-five.  

On occasions during the meeting the Holy Mother spoke treasured words and chanted for us in a clear voice of great 

beauty; it was indeed a great soul to whom we had the honor of listening. The rigors of a life in which great sufferings 

and hardships had been experienced side by side with her beloved ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, had failed to dim the sweetness of 

character and sympathetic personality of this noble woman, the surviving member in the immediate article of the Holy 

Family, of that great period in which the “Faith” had its inception. 


October 1st, 1939. 


W. S. 





Wilmette, Illinois  


WAS in Februa7 of 1907 that I made my first trip to Palestine to visit ‘Abdu’lBahá while He was still confined in 

the “Most Great Prison” at ‘Akká.  

Our steamer arrived in the Bay of Haifa and we were taken to the quay in big boats propelled by Arab oarsmen. After 

passing through the Turkish Customs we went by carriage to the Carmel House, a very old hotel kept by German 


At Port Said on our way to Haifa, Ahmad 


Effendi Yazdi came aboard our ship bringing with him an English lady, a Bahá’i, then living in Brittany, Madam 

Scaramucci, who was also on her way to visit ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. She and my daughter (Ama) and I finished the journey 

together. We became the dearest of friends and were associated together in all the precious experiences of this 

memorable pilgrimage.  

Shortly after our first meal in the German Hospice in Haifa in the early evening, a 







Monument erected on the site of the grave of Munirih Khánum, the wife of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, on Mt. Carmel, and beneath 

the shadow of the resting place of Bahiyyih Khánum,  

The Greatest Holy Leaf. 




F a 










note was delivered to us by a messenger from Cook’s Travel Bureau in Haifa. This note requested that we three stroll up the avenue a 

few blocks where we were to be met by two Bahá’i brothers who would accompany us to the Master’s Haifa home, some six blocks 

up the mountain from our hotel.  

Such a night as this was; it was full moonlight, the weather was as balmy as May with flowers blooming everywhere! We met our two 

Bahá’i escorts and they quietly guided us to ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s residence where first, as was the Oriental custom, we met a number of 

Bahã’i men. They questioned us concerning the progress of the Cause in America and of our visit with the Egyptian Bahá’is whom we 

had seen in Alexandria. In a short while these gentlemen excused themselves in order that we might meet the Ladies of the Holy 

Household of ‘Abdu’lBahá. At this time one of the daughters of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Ruha Khánum, was living in the Master’s Haifa house 

because the enemies had stirred up fresh trouble for ‘Abdu’lBahá in Constantinople, causing Him to be re-confined within the old 

Penal Colony of ‘Akká for a period of four years. This was done by order of the Turkish government.  

How thoughtful of our beloved Master to send His wife, the revered Munirih Khánum and the little grandson, Shoghi Effendi, together 

with some other members of His Household, from ‘Akká to Haifa to welcome us! Those Bahá’is of today who may have known the 

Master as a free man, can scarcely comprehend the emotions of the early pilgrims going to Palestine to visit the World’s Greatest 

Prisoner, who for forty years had been confined in that terrible Penal Colony of ‘Akká, drawing not one breath of freedom! Had the 

local authorities known who we were, our safety might have been in jeopardy. But God mercifully protected us from any harm, and 

bestowed upon us the boundless favors of His shelter. We were permitted to have six days of indescribable joy associating with the 

members of ‘Abdu’lBahá’s Household, with His wife and with His family. Words fail to depict to those who read what I write, the 

emotions of our hearts! Scarcely had our feet walked upon the soil of the sacred Mount of God when we found ourselves the recipients 

of ‘Abdu’l Bahá’ 


fatherly love and tenderness and were made the associates of His Holy Household. His wife had driven all the way from ‘Akká to 

Haifa to greet us and to extend to us her most cordial welcome. It was the beloved Holy Mother, Munirih Khánum, who gave us our 

first welcome.  

The day after our arrival in Haifa we visited the Shrine of the Mb on the slope of Mt. Carmel, accompanied by the holy women, and 

afterward we dined with them in the Master’s house.  

Early on the second morning after our arrival a Bahá’i messenger came to the door of our room in the hotel and said: “The Master has 

sent word from ‘Akkã that the three pilgrims are to hire a carraige and drive around the bay to His prison home in ‘Akká.” For six 

days we were guests in this home and daily saw the Holy Mother and the Master’s Sister, the Greatest Holy Leaf, and with them the 

Master’s daughters. Very early in the mornings we were permitted to meet in the large reception room where the beloved ‘Abdu’l-

Bahá and His Family would gather together for an hour of communion. The Master would ask different members of the family to 

chant the Holy Utterances of Bahá’u’lláh and always the motherly presence of Munirih Rhanum filled the atmosphere of that room 

with the benediction of her great mother heart. She seemed the personification of Universal Motherhood—indeed the “Holy Mother.” 

When I was standing beside her one morning the dear Master came and placed my hand in hers, and looking into my face said in 

English: “She is your Mother.”  

When the hour for leaving this sacred prison home of ‘Abdu’l-Bahã came and we had to return to America, it seemed as if our hearts 

would break to have to say “good-bye” to these divinely precious members of the Holy Family! We wept, and they wept with us 


because of this parting. Through this sacred visit we had found a Heavenly Father in ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and a Heavenly Mother in His 

wife, Munirih Khanum.  

In November 1919, after a period of seven years, I was again permitted to make the pilgrimage to the Holy Land; this time under very 

different circumstances. The 






Turkish government had now passed from the hands of the Sultan, having been wrested therefrom by the Young Turk 

Party of Progress. One of the first acts of this new government was to give ‘Abdu’l-Bahâ His freedom, which meant 

also the liberation of His entire family.  

The British forces commanded by General Allenby had but lately delivered Palestine from the hands of the Turks and 

the Holy Family had all moved to Haifa, where life was fairly comfortable after the terrific rigors of imprisonment for 

so many years.  

During this second Pilgrimage we were permitted more intimate association with the Greatest Holy Leaf and the Holy 

Mother, Munirih Khánum. Almost daily we were received by them in the Master’s garden where questions were asked 

and instructions given to us, clearing up many things that had puzzled the American friends. Here we saw this beloved 

wife of ‘Abdu’l-Bahã as a most wonderful teacher, and through her we grew in the knowledge of the Cause. In the 

early days one of the greatest privileges of the visiting women pilgrims was this intimate association with these two 

divine maid- servants of Bahá’u’lláh, Bahiyyih Khánum, the Greatest Holy Leaf, and Munirih Khánum, the Holy 

Mother. We seldom saw one without the other.  

These holy women had sacrificed everything to be the companions of Bahá’u’lláh 


and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Their imprisonment. Could we have found in all the world a greater privilege than this: to sit at 

the feet of these holy women; to hear from them, first hand, the thrilhng recital of their prison lives, of how God had 

sustained them when deprived of the very necessities of life; and to learn that they regarded this prison life with the 

Blessed Perfection and ‘Abdu’l-Bahâ as infinitely more valuable to them than all the comforts and luxuries of life! 

These women are God’s great heroines and we were indeed conscious of the great privileges that were granted us in 

their presence. The seeds of conviction that were born in our souls by this association planted roots of faith that assisted 

everyone to return to the outside world and lift the Banner of the Greatest Name before the eyes of all.  

On our second visit we saw Munirih Khánum not only as a Universal Mother loving every child of God, but as a great 

teacher and expounder of the principles of Bahã’u’lláh. She was a teacher who lived these principles before our eyes. 

Religious history has never known greater examples than these of devotion and sacrifice to God’s Holy Messengers! 

Should we praise God throughout the coming centuries, we could not render praise sufficient for the priceless spiritual 

heritage bequeathed to us by these holy women. They are the archetypes for the Bahá’i womanhood of the world. 





UNIRIH KHANUM! How well beloved a name throughout the Bahá’i world! The unique circumstances of 

her birth seemed to foretell she was destined to hold an honored position in the history of the Bahã’i Faith. This 

prophecy was fulfilled when she was chosen to be the loved and honored wife of our Beloved Master, ‘Abdu’lBahá. 

With radiant acquiescence she shared with Him the vicissitudes, trials and tribulations that were His lot during the long 

surveillance under the strict ttTurkish Regime” in the “walled City of ‘Akká.” How her heart must have rejoiced when, 

through the overthrowing of the Ottoman Government, it was made possible for friends 


to come from different lands to freely visit and converse with her.  

Pilgrims from East and West, during their sojourn in Haifa, will always remember those happy hours spent in her 

company. They will ever picture in their mind their first meeting with her in the Master’s drawing- room. They will see 

her seated beside her beloved sister-in-law Bahiyyih Khãnum (the Greatest Holy Leaf) in company with members of 

her family and the women and children of the Bahá’i Community; they will recall her sweet eager face as they entered 

her presence, and they will hear her melodious voice welcoming and bidding them be seated near her. 






Always assuring herself first regarding their physical health and bodily comfort, she would then revert to the theme 

uppermost in her mind, and eagerly inquire about the progress of the Bahá’i Faith in the land from whence they came, 

and as they related the various activities and spread of the Teachings there, her spiritually illumined face would become 

radiant with joy.  

She loved to gather the women and children around her, and in her sweet voice chant with them the Holy Words and 

the poems written in praise of her Beloved One.  

She was a true exemplar of a faithful follower of Bahá’u’lláh, so firm and steadfast was she in His Covenant and 

Testament. Her radiant spirit was ever ready for the call of death, and gladly winged its flight to the “Realms of the 

Supreme Concourse” to join her loved ones there. The members of her family, those who were so intimately connected 

with her, and the many pilgrims whose privilege it was to meet her, found in her passing a very difficult experience to 

face. It was as though they were asked to play a chord in the “Great Symphony of 


Life” which was too difficult for them. The rhythm seemed suddenly broken, the theme abruptly ended, but in that pause, listening 

ears heard the “Great Conductor’s” voice say, “Play on! ‘tis part of the harmony. I have made death a messenger of joy to thee. 

Wherefore dost thou grieve?” So once again we take up the theme, and with vibrant strings play sweet harmonious chords, singing in 

unison, “There is no death! There is no death!”  

On the slopes of Carmel (God’s Holy Mount) the mortal remains of Munirih Khánum were lovingly laid to rest near the tomb of her 

loved and revered sister-in-law Bahiyyih Khãnum (the Greatest Holy Leaf), and not far distant from the Holy Tomb where lie the 

sacred remains of the Báb and ‘Abdu’l-Bahâ.  

Down through the ages thousands of pilgrims will visit her resting place, and standing with bowed heads, reverently and fervently will 

pray: “0 God! 0 God! Assist us with the Hosts of the Supreme Concourse, and make us firm and steadfast in the Covenant and 


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