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Of the nine entrances to the Shrine of the Bab on Mount Carmel in Haifa, Israel, four of those doors were named for Baha’is who devoted their lives to the service of their Faith.
Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Baha’i Faith, named each door after a prominent, dedicated Baha’i. In that sense, those doors ultimately honor the Baha’i qualities of service to humanity and constancy of faith:
Briefly, all effort and exertion put forth by man from the fullness of his heart is worship, if it is prompted by the highest motives and the will to do service to humanity. This is worship: to serve mankind and to minister to the needs of the people. Service is prayer. – Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 177.
Every city in which, during the days of the Manifestation, a temple was raised up, hath created security and constancy and peace, for such buildings were given over to the perpetual glorification of God, and only in the remembrance of God can the heart find rest. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, pp. 95-96.
The first of those doors was named after an Iraqi Baha’i who was extremely devoted to the Baha’i Faith.
- Bab-i-Qassabchi: named after Hájí Mahmud Qassabchi (unknown birth to 1947)
Haji Mahmud Qassabchi was known for providing the funding for the construction of the three additional rooms to the Sepulchre of the Bab, which now forms the first story of the Bab’s Shrine. This was a result of Abdu’l-Baha’s previous indications of His intentions to add rooms to the side of the Bab’s vault. Abdu’l-Baha, in His Will and Testament, had named Shoghi Effendi as the Guardian of the Baha’i Faith, and he foresaw the building of the Shrine and committed to fulfill Abdu’l-Baha’s request. Adding these rooms changed the structure of the building from a rectangular shape to a perfect square. The outer superstructure seen today was added afterward.
Haji Mahmud Qassabchi made this possible. His generous contributions to build these three rooms prompted the Guardian to name a door on the eastern side of the Shrine of the Bab after him.
- Bab-i-Maxwell: named after Hand of the Cause William Sutherland Maxwell (1874 to 1952)
William Sutherland Maxwell is most notably known as the Canadian architect who designed and constructed the Shrine of the Bab. He became a Baha’i after meeting Abdu’l-Baha in 1909. Afterwards, he became so devoted to the Faith that he would regularly host Baha’i events at his Montreal home, later recognized as the first Baha’i center in Canada. The Maxwells loved the Baha’i teachings and devoted their lives to them, and Abdu’l-Baha acknowledged their efforts by visiting their home in 1912.
In 1937, Mary Maxwell, the Maxwells’ daughter, married Shoghi Effendi. When Mrs. Maxwell died in 1940, Mr. Maxwell moved to Haifa to assist the Guardian. Shoghi Effendi would often ask for Maxwell’s advice on smaller building projects and was so impressed by his work that he asked him to design the superstructure and golden dome of the Shrine of the Bab. Along with the construction of the Shrine, Maxwell was also a great help to the Guardian by attending to government errands, a number of visitors, and loads of mail.
In 1949, Maxwell’s health began to suffer. He wished to visit Montreal once again and therefore spent the summer of 1951 at his home there. However, as his health worsened, he could not return back to Haifa. Shoghi Effendi understood this, and as recognition of his long-lasting devotion and dedication to the Faith, he honored Maxwell with the title of Hand of the Cause of God in December of 1951. Maxwell passed away in 1952, and as a remembrance for his hard work and efforts, Shoghi Effendi named the south door of the Shrine of the Bab after him.
- Bab-i-Giachery: named after Hand of the Cause of God Ugo Giachery (1896 to 1989)
Ugo Giachery was perhaps one of the most committed Baha’is involved in the building of the Shrine of the Bab. He was an Italian born into an aristocratic family in 1896, and he became a Baha’i in 1926 when he moved to America after serving in World War I. He spread the Faith in the United States until moving back to Rome in 1947. There, he began his work in assisting in the building of the Shrine of the Bab.
Although Giachery lived a great distance away from the construction process in Haifa, this did not at all inhibit his ability to help in the building of the superstructure. Along with translating Baha’i books into Italian, Giachery made the challenging construction of the Shrine possible. He worked with Maxwell to search for marble and other materials required for the construction, and also discovered artisans and craftsmen that could cut them perfectly. Giachery found ways that the materials could be transported to Haifa and continued this process for several other scarce building materials, even with the difficulties of shortages.
For almost four years, Dr. Giachery worked at this task, and he finally traveled to Haifa in 1952, where he met Shoghi Effendi. Dr. Giachery was named a Hand of the Cause of God and had a door in the Shrine named after him. Meeting Shoghi Effendi was so influential in his life that Giachery even continued to find building materials for the International Archives building and later on, for the resting place of Shoghi Effendi in 1957. He took the title of a Hand of the Cause of God with honor and promoted the Faith worldwide. He even offered the Baha’i teachings to the Head of State of Samoa at the time, Malietoa Tanumafili II, who became the first reigning monarch to become a Baha’i. Giachery died in Samoa in 1989 after a long and distinguished record of service to his Faith.
- Bab-i-Ioas: named after Hand of the Cause of God Leroy Ioas (1896 to 1965)
Leroy Ioas was born into an American Baha’i family in 1896. His parents became Baha’is in 1898 and took Ioas with them when seeing Abdu’l-Baha in 1912. Ioas was deeply touched and in awe of Abdu’l-Baha’s kindness and presence. He became very active in the local Baha’i community in San Francisco and abroad as well.
In 1951, Ioas moved to Haifa, where he would remain. He initially was appointed by Shoghi Effendi to the International Baha’i Council as Secretary General. He quit his 40-year job in the railway industry in order to serve in that position for 10 years. Ioas was named a Hand of the Cause of God for his devotion and loyalty to the Faith. After Shoghi Effendi passed away, Ioas was elected as a Custodian of the Baha’i Faith and worked hard and overseas to spread the Faith’s message of peace and unity. Ioas passed away in 1965. The door to the second-floor octagon of the Shrine of the Bab is named after him, for all his hard work in overseeing the final work constructing the Shrine, and his dedication and love for the Baha’i Faith.