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24 September 2007

EPITAPH : Dr. `Alí-Muhammad Varqá (1912-2007)

BAHÁ'ÍS AROUND the world learned today of the passing of Dr. `Alí-Muhammad Varqá, the last living Hand of the Cause of God. He died in the evening of 22 September 2007 in his home in Haifa, Israel, at the age of 95.

Dr. Ali-Muhammad Varqa. Image source: Bah&aacute'í Media BankIn a message released today to the global Bahá'í community, the Universal House of Justice describes the most esteemed member of the Bahá'í Faith as one “imbued with a luminous gentleness, a genuine kindliness and a natural dignity which combined to reflect the character of a saintly personality.” I reflected on these words and recalled my rare interactions with him during my precious days in Haifa. He seldom ventured out of his office due to frail health, but when he managed to attend social functions—usually holy day commemorations—the occasions became memorable moments of deep and sweet affection.

My last interaction was on the night of Breezes & Bridges: The Spirit of Southeast Asia, a musical show that I produced and directed in Haifa shortly before my departure late in 2004. At the end of the show, I approached him gingerly to offer my courtesies for choosing to attend the evening's performance. “Thank you, Dr. Varqá,” I said shyly. He looked at me with the famous broad smile and replied gently, “No, thank you.” I wanted to say more, but the impact of being thanked by someone of his stature was enough to gratify me (and shut me up!). It is a moment I will always remember.

The Bahá'ís are united in prayer for the quick journey of his soul through the next world and all the worlds to come.


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