|Birth: ||Feb. 9, 1882|
|Death: ||Apr. 11, 1937|
MEMORIAL SERVICE TO Dr. ZIA MABSUT BAGDADI, HELD IN THE BAHA'I HOUSE OF WORSHIP, MAY 8, 1937
Introductory Words by Mrs True
Mrs. Corinne True,
Mr. Albert Windust, Chairmen.
On April 11th, less than a month ago, the Baha'i friends assembled in this House of Worship commemorating the Twenty-fifth Anniversary of the Arrival of 'Abdu'l-Baha’i in America, were shocked by the news of the sudden death of their beloved Baha’i brother, Dr. Zia M. Bagdadi, at Augusta, Georgia. Sincere expressions of sympathy for his bereaved family were heard among the friends and all were anxious to learn more of the details of his passing. A few days later it was learned that the cause of death was heart failure; that his body had been laid away in the burial lot of one of the Baha'is of that city; that his widow Zeenat, and daughter Parvene were courageously endeavoring to adjust themselves and were planning to go to Beirut, Syria, the home of Dr. Bagdadi's family in that country.
The loss suffered by the Cause in America began to be realized by the Baha'is and found full expression in a cablegram from our beloved Guardian, Shoghi Effendi, to the National Spiritual Assembly, as follows:
"Distressed sudden passing dearly beloved Dr. Bagdadi. Loss inflicted (upon) national interests (of) Faith irreparable. His exemplary faith, audacity, unquestioning loyalty, indefatigable exertions unforgettable. Advise Baha'i communities (of) Chicago (and) surrounding regions hold befitting memorial gathering (in) Temple for which he so valiantly labored. Ardently praying for him and bereaved family.
Friends: In response to the request of our beloved Guardian and the desire of our hearts to hold a memorial service for our departed brother, Dr. Zia M. Bagdadi, we have gathered here this evening. We feel that he would wish us to make this a joyous and not a sad occasion. May all who are present here turn in mind and heart toward the Holy Shrine of Baha'u'llah, as we read this supplication (known as the "Midnight Prayer"):
O Lord, I have turned my face unto the kingdom of Thy oneness and am immersed in the sea of Thy mercy.
O Lord, enlighten my spirit by beholding Thy light in this dark night and make me happy by the wine of thy love in this wonderful age. O Lord, make me hear Thy call, and open before my face the doors of heaven, so that I may behold Thy glory and become attracted to Thy beauty.
Verily, Thou art the light, the gift and the giver, the ancient and the merciful!
Dr Bagdadi’s Grandfather and Father
Referring to Nabil's Narrative, The Dawn-Breakers, pages 272 and 273, we find that Dr. Bagdadi’s grandfather, "Shaykh Muhammad-i-Sebl and his youthful son, Muhammad-Mustafa," accompanied Tahirih from Iraq to Iran.
A little over a year after Dr. Bagdadi arrived in America, word was received of the death of his father, Muhammad-Mustafa (Bagdhdi), whose portrait and the news of his passing were published in Baha’i News (Vol. I of the Star of the West), No. 17 issue, wherein is recorded: "In him the Cause has lost a great and useful servant. All loved and revered him and looked up to him as one of the spiritual souls of the earlier days. His winsome manner and of heart attracted all those who came in contact with him and carried away the sweet fragrance of his life."
In a Tablet from 'Abdu'l-Baha published in the Star of the West, Volume X, No. 12, are these endearing words of the beloved Master: "Convey on my behalf, to Dr. Zia Bagdadi the utmost love and kindness. In my estimation, he is very near, for he is the son of his honor Agha Muhammad- Mustafa."
Dr. Bagdadi’s Work on the Star of the West
Mr. Windust, who was one of the founders and editors of the Star of the West, spoke of Dr. Bagdadi's services to that magazine, as follows-Dr. Bagdadi became associate editor of this Baha'i publication, June 5, 191 I, beginning with issue No. 5, Volume 11, wherein we read: "It gives us pleasure to welcome to the editorial staff of the Star of the West , Dr. Zia Mabsut Bagdadi ("Zia Effendi"), the youngest son of the late M. Mustafi Bagdidi. Dr. Bagdadi received his early education in the Orient at the Arabian Literature school, Turkish Government school and the American school. His childhood was blessed by seeing and being with the Blessed Perfection Baha'u'llah, and in every year of his youth he visited the Center of the Covenant, 'Abdu'l-Baha. He came to America in September, 1909, to complete a course in medicine, graduating from the Chicago College of Medicine and Surgery in May of this year (1911). He intends to practice in America and be engaged in serving the Cause of Baha'u'llah. We are confident the Star of t h e W e s t has in him an able and willing associate."
In the Star of the West, Volume 111, No. I5 issue, we find the following: "A word of explanation is given regarding the re-appearance of our Persian section after many months. As the editor, Mirza Ahmad Sohrab, accompanied 'Abdu'l-Baha on most of His journeyings throughout America, it was almost impossible for him to look after the Persian section, and now that he has returned to the East, it has become necessary to place that department in other hands. Dr. Zia Bagdadi, who has been associated with him in this work, has consented to render this service. He is located in Chicago."
Throughout the remainder of the issues of Volume 111, and all of Volumes IV and V -there were 19 issues in each volume-Dr. Bagdadi compiled and wrote the manuscript
in the form of pages, which were photographed, reduced to page size, etched on zinc, which became the printing plates for the Persian sections of the Star of the West -a total of 262 pages. His beautiful style of writing was distinctly Arabic in character. This labor was accomplished by Dr. Bagdidi in addition to translating Tablets of 'Abdu'l-Baha and speaking on the Cause wherever the opportunity arose-all this aside from his practice of medicine and surgery.
Dr. Bagdadi with `Abdu’l–Baha in Chicago
Reference was made to the photograph of 'Abdu'l-Baha, together with five of the Oriental Bahi'is, taken by Mr. Killius in Lincoln Park, Chicago, in 1912. Standing directly behind 'Abdu'l-Bahi, on the right, is Dr. Bagdadi. In looking at this photograph, one is impressed with the thought that our beloved Guardian, Shoghi Effendi, has, in his cablegram, perfectly described the qualities of Dr. Bagdadi.
This photograph was taken directly across the street from the Plaza Hotel. In this connection, it is interesting to note that when it was taken, no one dreamed that in
this same part of Lincoln Park, the Chicago Historical Society would erect the splendid museum which stands there today.
Dr Bagdadi’s Devoted Labor for the Temple
Shoghi Effendi, in his cablegram requesting the holding of this memorial gathering for Dr. Bagdadi, states: . . . "Advise Baha'I Communities of Chicago and surrounding regions hold befitting memorial gathering in Temple for which he so valiantly and devotedly labored." . . .
In this connection we were reminded by Mrs. True, of the photograph taken on this Temple site March 21, 1921, and published in the Star of the West, Volume XII, No. 2. It was the beginning of actual work for the construction of the first Mashriqu'l-Adhkar in America; that is, the breaking of ground for the digging of the first of the nine caissons to bed rock-the one directly in line with Haifa from the center of the building. In this photograph Dr. Bagdadi is seen digging the first shovelful of earth-the other friends present following him in breaking the ground. It was indeed fitting that Dr. Bagdadi should have this honor, and his association with this great event 1 is sufficient evidence of the esteem his fellow believers had for his valiant and devoted labors for the Temple and the Cause of Baha'u'llah.
1 This breaking of ground for the actual construction of the caissons to bed rock should not be
confused with the boring operations begun on September 24, 1920, to obtain a core of soil strata before beginning the digging of the caissons, which began March 21, 192 1.-Editor
Noteworthy Qualities of Dr. Bagdadi
Mr. Windust spoke of the time when his family met 'Abdu'l-Baha in an upper room at the home of Mrs. Davies in Chicago. When He saw the youngest child, He took her upon His lap and called for someone to bring candy for the little one. Dr. Bagdadi instantly responded, leaping down the stairs two or more steps at a time, obtained the
candy, and sprang up stairs with it, handing the bowl to 'Abdu'l-Bahi as a courier would present an urgent message to a king. It was an impressive demonstration to many who
witnessed it, of the divine qualities of "instant, exact and complete obedience" Dr. Bagdadi so remarkably possessed.
Mrs. Grace Ober also testified to this outstanding characteristic of Dr. Bagdadi, by telling the following experience: "I was keeping house in New York for 'Abdul-Baha and His party of interpreters at the time when He attended the Peace Conference at Lake Mohonk. Late at night, the bell rang furiously and at the door stood Dr. Bagdadi, no hat upon his head, his hair disheveled, and his clothes covered with dust. He rushed into the house saying 'Abdu'l-Baha had sent him to bring a rug to Lake Mohonk at the earliest possible moment. I begged him to have something to eat, to bathe and rest for a little while. But quickly finding what he wanted he rushed away with it. During the short time he was in the house I learned that 'Abdu'l-Baha wished to present a gift to the Secretary of the Peace Conference, Mr. W. H. Short, Sec'y of the New York Peace Society, before the close of its sessions next day, and that it was necessary that some one of His party go to the city for it and return at once. Dr. Bagdadi had instantly volunteered. He discovered there was no passenger train at that hour and boarded a freight train, arriving in the condition I described. I learned later that in returning he again rode on a freight train as there was no other transportation at that early morning hour. Dr. Bagdadi was the embodiment of the quality of "Instant, exact and complete obedience."
The chairman expressed the thought that everyone present at this memorial gathering, who knew Dr. Bagdadi, no doubt cherished in his heart and memory some particular remembrance or many remembrances of our dearly beloved Dr. Bagdadi.
FIRMNESS IN THE COVENANT, AN OUTSTANDING QUALITY OF DR. BAGDADI
When 'Abdu'l-Baha came to America in 1912, He awakened and began to educate the Baha'is to the Most Great Characteristic of the Revelation of Baha'u'llah, namely,
The Center of the Covenant-that which the previous Divine Manifestations did not bring. From that time until the day of His ascension in 1921, He stressed its importance with ever increasing emphasis, thus preparing them for the hour when His Will and Testament was brought to light.
During these years Dr. Bagdadi was a pillar of strength to the Baha'is of America manifesting firmness in the Covenant and all that it implies. He alone seemed to understand the deep meanings of this most great characteristic-that is: through the power of the Covenant no one can create a sect or division in the Baha'i Faith; through this most great characteristic, the Center of the Covenant will protect the Cause from now until at least one thousand years, and perhaps until thousands of years have passed away.
Those who attended the eighth session of the Baha'i Congress at Hotel McAlpin, New York City, April 30th, 1919, will never forget Dr. Bagdadi's presentation of this most important matter. Although he had been ill for three days, he arose to astonishing heights and depths of understanding in this address, unfolding all the qualities Shoghi Effendi mentions in the cablegram prompting this memorial gathering--of "exemplary faith, audacity, unquestioning loyalty, indefatigable exertion-combined with a dramatic appeal that was arresting and soul stirring. This outstanding address of that remarkable Congress was taken stenographically and printed 'in Volume XI of the Star
of the West.
DR. BAGDADI WRITES OF SEEING AND BEING WITH BAHA'U'LLAH
In the year 1929, Dr. Bagdadi wrote a book telling of his birthplace and travels in the Orient under the title, Treasures of the East. In the describes the peerless panoranla of the Plain of 'Akka surrounded by mountains and sea, in the center of which is the Mansion of Bahji, located about one mile from the Mediterranean and three miles from the town of 'Akka, Palestine. It was here Baha'u'llah lived the last few years of His exile until He departed to the Supreme World in 1892. Dr. Bagdadi tells that here, when he was a child, he had the great privilege of seeing and being with Baha'u'llah.
"I had the greatest honor and privilege to see Baha'u'llah and sit at His feet many days and nights in this Mansion. Here He used to hold my hand while walking to and fro in His large room, revealing Tablets, chanting the prayers with the most charming and melodious voice, while one of the attendants took them down. Here I saw Him teaching and blessing the pilgrims who came from all lands. On hot days He would take me with Him to the outer alcove of the Mansion where it was somewhat cooler. I would stand in a corner with folded arms, my eyes fixed on His incomparable countenance, while the gentle breezes blew on His soft jet black hair which reached almost to the waist, flowing beneath the taj, like a crown, that covered His head and a part of His broad, full, high forehead.
"From His light-colored garments which were similar to those of all the ancient prophets, I had always inhaled the fragrance of the pure attar of roses. At times He would spend half an hour on the alcove, and my eyes would remain fixed on His majestic face. But whenever He glanced at me with His brown, piercing, yet most affectionate eyes, then I had to turn mine away and look down on the floor.
"At my birth, Baha'u'llah named me 'Zia' (Light) and gave me the Turkish title 'Effendi.' But on my first visit to Him, when He inquired about my health, I replied in Arabic 'Mabsoot' (I am happy). He questioned, 'How is your father?' I answered, 'Mabsoot'; and 'How is your mother?' He asked. 'Mabsoot' was my reply. He laughed heartily and after that He always called me Mabsoot Effendi (The Happy One) ."
In Memorial Baha’i World
Vol Vll page 535-9
Westover Memorial Park
Created by: Carol Black
Record added: Dec 28, 2013
Find A Grave Memorial# 122350646
Allah'u'abha dear Dr. Bagdadi, a translator for Abdu'l-Baha.|
Added: Aug. 9, 2014
Mr. Bagdadi was a faithful servant of God and member of the Baha'i Faith, a universal religion believing in the oneness of God, religion and humanity.|
Added: Dec. 28, 2013