Baha'i world loses most distinguished member

HAIFA, Israel — The worldwide Bahá’í community has lost its most distinguished member with the passing of Dr. Ali-Muhammad Varqa on 22 September 2007 at his home here.

In 1955, Dr. Varqa was appointed to the high rank of “Hand of the Cause” by Shoghi Effendi, Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith. Dr. Varqa served in that capacity, on the international level, for 52 years until his passing. He was the last survivor of the 27 Hands of the Cause who were alive when Shoghi Effendi passed away in 1957.

Dr. Varqa came from a well-known Iranian family that has served the Bahá’í Faith with distinction for generations. After obtaining a doctorate from the Sorbonne in Paris in 1950, he taught in Iran at the universities of Tabriz and Tehran and served the Bahá’í community there in various administrative capacities. In 1979 he moved to Canada, and later established his residence in Haifa to serve at the Bahá’í World Center.

He was born in 1911 in Tehran, Iran, and received his name from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in memory of his grandfather, who had been killed for being a follower of Bahá’u’lláh.

Dr. Varqa traveled to many countries as a representative first of Shoghi Effendi, then of the Universal House of Justice, the international governing council of the Bahá’í Faith. In that capacity, Dr. Varqa attended the first national conventions held in Belgium, Luxembourg, the Congo, Mauritania, Central African Republic, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Czechoslovakia and Greenland.

Dr. Varqa is survived by three daughters and six siblings. His funeral took place the morning of 24 September, with burial in the Bahá’í cemetery in Haifa.