My personal contact with Hand of the Cause Jalal Khazeh was also brief – he travelled very little in the English-speaking communities, as that was not his principal language, but concentrated his travels mainly within Iran and in South America; he also visited Europe, North America and countries in eastern Asia several times. He represented the Guardian at the formation of the new National Spiritual Assembly for North-East Asia in 1957 and came through Japan again while we were living there in 1973. During that visit he spoke to the friends in the Kansai region in several gatherings.
He spoke a great deal about the experience of the Hands of the Cause immediately following the passing of the beloved Guardian, his stories echoing much of what Mr Featherstone had also told us but, coming from an Iranian background, his focus and view was somewhat different. For many of the friends there it was the first time they had heard about that important chapter of Bahá’í history and he had their full attention. He spoke with frankness and related the narrative in great detail.
He also spoke frankly of himself and told us of his first pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 1952 and the effect on him of his meeting with Shoghi Effendi. Amongst other things he said that it had stripped him of any feelings of his own importance. He had had a career in the Iranian army, retiring as a Colonel, a title which people still used in addressing him; he had served on the National Assembly of Iran, for many years as its treasurer – he was considered one of the prominent believers in the community and carried himself with a certain degree of pride. Always at the steps of the National Hazíratu’l-Quds in Tehran there were a couple of lowly servants whose main task was to keep the steps clean and clear of any debris blowing from the street – he always walked in without even noticing them, beyond a casual glance. They were not worthy of any greeting or attention from one of such importance.
When he returned from pilgrimage and his meeting with the Guardian, he said that his whole world had changed, completely turned around, and he was as ‘nothing’. Entering the national office on the day after his return, he warmly embraced each of the two servants at the entrance, picked them up off their feet in a huge bear-hug and showered them with loving greetings. They were, of course, astounded. But from that time onwards he really characterised his own name; Khazeh (Khádi) means “humble” in both Arabic and Persian.
He also asked the friends a question – one that many of us had never even thought about: “In the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, what is the difference between tablets and prayers?” He could see from the blank faces that this was an issue that had never been discussed, not even thought about. For us, His Words were all revelation – just ‘the Writings’. This was, of course, before the publication of the Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh revealed after the Kitáb-i-Aqdas – that precious compilation from the Universal House of Justice in 1978. Receiving no response, he then explained that ‘tablets’ were the Word of God addressed to us, the reader, and ‘prayers’ were words which we could use to address God. I guess this has become much clearer with the gradual awareness and application of Bahá’u’lláh’s admonition to “Recite ye the verses of God every morn and eventide” and increased discussion on what Writings really were the “verses of God”, and there has since been other clarification but at that time it was something quite new for us.