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Varqá, Wali-Alláh

by Iraj Ayman

published in Encyclopaedia Iranica
New York: Columbia University, 2017
VARQĀ, WALI-ALLĀH (b. Tabriz, 1884; d. Tubingen, 12 November 1955, FIGURE 1), one of the leading figures of the 20th-century Iranian Bahāʾis. He was appointed in 1939 as the Trustee of Ḥoquq-Allāh (the Right of God), and on 24 December 1951 as a Hand of the Cause of God (Ayādi-e Amr Allāh), as part of the first contingent of the Hands of the Cause, by Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian [Head] of the Bahāʾi faith (Bahāʾi World XIII, p. 381); Shoghi Effendi, 1971, p. 20). Wali-Allah was the third son of Mirzā ʿAli-Moḥammad Varqā, a well-kown poet and one of the Apostles of Bahāʾ-Allāh, the founder of the Bahāʾi faith (Shoghi Effendi, 1944, p. 296), who was imprisoned and subsequently martyred in Tehran in 1896 alongside his 12 year old son, Ruḥ-Allāh (Taherzadeh, p. 226; Momen, pp. 361-62). ʿAli-Moḥammad Varqā was posthumously elevated to the rank of Hand of the Cause of God by ʿAbd-al-Bahāʾ (Bahāʾi World XIV, p. 446).

After the martyrdom of his father and older brother, Wali-Allāh, who was then eight years old, remained in Tabriz and was cared for by his mother, under the influence of his maternal grandmother who was the daughter of the chief of the Šāhsavan tribe and firmly opposed to the Bahāʾi faith. Years later, when Wali-Allāh was an adolescent, his paternal uncle, Mirzā Ḥosayn, took charge of his education, and arranged for him to live in his household by taking up residence in Miāndoāb. Subsequently, Wali-Allāh moved to Tehran to live with his eldest brother, Mirzā ʿAziz-Allāh Varqā, and pursued his education first in the Tarbiat School for boys, and later in the American College of Tehran. Following a pilgrimage to the Holy Land where he was received by ʿAbd-Bahāʾ, the son of the founder of the Bahāʾi faith, Wali-Allāh attended the American University in Beirut. While studying at the university, Wali-Allāh spent his summer holidays in the Holy Land. He returned to Tehran in summer 1909 and became employed in the court of Moḥammad-ʿAli Shah Qājār (r. 1907-9).


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