Youthful experience inspired service

April 19, 2004
Aziz Yazdi (left) and Mrs. Yazdi (second from right) with Therese and James Elijio, Dominica, West Indies, 1991.

VANCOUVER, Canada — Throughout his whole life Aziz Ismayn Yazdi was inspired by the time he spent as a young boy in the presence of 'Abdu'l-Baha.

Mr. Yazdi died of natural causes here, aged 95, on 19 April 2004 after a life consecrated to service to the Baha'i Faith in many parts of the world.

Aziz Yazdi lived in Egypt, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Great Britain, Uganda, Kenya, Israel, and finally Canada. But his travels for his religion took him to countries all around the world -- and he is remembered with affection by generations of Baha'is.

In 1973 Mr. Yazdi was appointed as an inaugural member of the International Teaching Centre in Haifa, an institution created by the Universal House of Justice to attend to matters of propagation and protection of the Faith throughout the world.

In this capacity, he had the opportunity to recount to pilgrims his experiences with the Master, as 'Abdu'l-Baha is commonly referred to by Baha'is.

His face beaming with his characteristic smile, Mr. Yazdi would recall that on one occasion in his youth, he had the privilege of being the sole witness of the Master as He knelt and prayed in the Shrine of the Bab. Mr. Yazdi often talked about the intense stillness in the room and the incredible feeling of peace.

He would sometimes tell a humorous anecdote of how, as a young boy, he had tried to sneak into 'Abdu'l-Baha's kitchen for candy but unexpectedly ran into the Master, Who patted him on his head, gave him an apple, and kindly sent him on to the kitchen for the sweets.

Mr. Yazdi had a fund of such stories that he told when he conducted his extensive and sometimes difficult travels as a Counsellor to encourage and advise Baha'is in often remote areas of the world.

Mr. Yazdi (back row, second right) with members of the Continental Board of Counsellors and Auxiliary Board members of Central and East Africa, Kenya, 1969. Slideshow
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Mr. Yazdi (back row, second right) with members of the Continental Board of Counsellors and Auxiliary Board members of Central and East Africa, Kenya, 1969.

Born in 1909 in Alexandria, Egypt, Aziz Yazdi was the son of devoted Baha'i parents. His father and his grandfather had the honor of visiting Baha'u'llah.

Mr. Yazdi received his name from 'Abdu'l-Baha, Who Himself went to Alexandria in 1910 on a brief sojourn.

During World War One, the Yazdi family moved to Damascus on the instructions of 'Abdu'l-Baha.

In response to a call by 'Abdu'l-Baha, the family moved to Haifa in 1919, and so young Aziz was often in the Master's spiritually uplifting presence until His passing in 1921.

Mr. Yazdi studied banking in Egypt and electrical engineering in England before working at management level in the oil industry in Iran. In 1941, he married Soraya Khamsi and they had four children. Mrs. Yazdi passed away in 1997.

Motivated by service to the Baha'i Faith, the Yazdis moved to Iraq, back to Iran and then, in response to a call by Shoghi Effendi, to Kenya where Mr. Yazdi ran his own import business for two decades.

He was a member of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Central and East Africa, and later of Kenya. In 1954 he was appointed as a member of the Auxiliary Board in Africa, and in 1968 he was appointed to the Continental Board of Counsellors in Central and East Africa.

After Mr. Yazdi's retirement from the International Teaching Centre in 1988, he moved with his wife to Canada but kept up his tireless travels for the Faith.

When he passed away, the Universal House of Justice sent a message to all National Spiritual Assemblies describing Mr. Yazdi as a "dearly loved, devoted promoter of the Cause" who lived a life "characterized by an imperishable record of selfless service, steadfast action and instant obedience."

The message advised National Spiritual Assemblies to hold memorial gatherings in his honor in all Baha'i Houses of Worship and in Baha'i communities throughout the world.

Aziz Yazdi is survived by his children Vida Yazdi Ditter, Mona Yazdi Grieser, Jamileh Yazdi, and Aziz John Yazdi, and by his seven grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.