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    Shellharbour Baha'i heroine demonstrated steadfastness


When Ghodsieh Vahdat arrived in Australia from Iran in 1984, she was already a heroine of the Baha’i Faith and bore visible marks that testified to her steadfastness in her faith.

A relative who was bathing her in the last years of her life noticed many welts across her back and asked Mrs Vahdat how she had come by such scars.The shocking reply was that they were the result of a whipping ordered by an Islamic clergyman in the early 1980s while Mrs Vahdat was serving a sentence imposed upon her for being a Baha’i.

She had refused to take the step that could have saved her from torture and freed her —a verbal denial of her faith. Instead, she spoke the truth about her beliefs.

Locked up in the same jail as her husband, Yadu’llah Vahdat, Mrs Vahdat covered any visible injuries from torture so as not to worry Mr Vahdat when she visited him in the hours before a firing squad executed him for being a Baha’i on 30 April, 1981.

After being released from prison in September 1984 into home detention, Ghodsieh Vahdat came as a refugee to Australia where she served as one of the inaugural members of the Wollongong and later on Shellharbour (Albion) Local Spiritual Assembly on the NSW south coast.

Born into an illustrious Baha’i family, she had been educated as a girl in accordance with the Baha’i principle of the equality of women and men.

Mrs Vahdat’s special spiritual qualities and her administrative prowess led the Baha’i community of Shiraz to elect her as a member of the Local Spiritual Assembly that looked after the interests of more than 10,000 Baha’is in that city.

Mrs Vahdat held that post for some 25 years including many years as chairperson. There was little privacy for her and her husband as they answered pleas for guidance and assistance from Baha’is and Muslims alike.

After her passing, Baha’is gathered in big numbers in Wollongong and Brisbane, where prayers were said and many heartfelt eulogies delivered.

Ghodsieh Vahdat (1914-2008) is survived by her sons Bizhan and Bahman and daughters Ninoosh and Mahvash, as well as five grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.

At a time when once again the Baha’is of Iran are suffering intense persecution, the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Australia wrote a tribute referring to her response to a similar situation nearly three decades earlier.

“Her steadfastness and long-suffering sacrifice in the face of four years of imprisonment and the martyrdom of her beloved husband as well as her many years of devoted service in Shiraz and Australia are an inspiration to all Baha'is and to future generations,” the Assembly said. 


This website is sponsored by The Local Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Shellharbour, NSW, Australia.

Send E-mail to shellharbour@nsw.bahai.org.au Last modified: July 2008