Featured Book: Prophet’s Daughter

Prophet’s Daughter – The Life and Legacy of Bahiyyih Khanum, Outstanding Heroine of the Baha’i Faith

By Janet Khan

As the subtitle states, this book is the biography of Bahiyyih Khanum, the daughter of Baha’u’llah and sister of ‘Abdu’l-Baha. It is also the story of the early days of the Faith, and is told from the perspective of how events both influenced and were influenced by this important Baha’i woman. The book is the first full-length biography of Bahiyyih Khanum, known as the Greatest Holy Leaf. The author’s familiarity with the Faith and its history allows her to draw extensively on Holy Writings and other writings of the time, letters and correspondence from a wide variety of sources including early believers, and general news and world events, to give an in-depth picture of this remarkable figure. Despite a lack of available specifics in many areas, the author is able to present a clear picture of how events transpired, and the role of Bahiyyih Khanum, from earliest childhood through her provision of support and assistance to her father, her brother, and finally her nephew Shoghi Effendi. In addition, the narrative looks at the legacy she created, and how important that was to the Faith in its earlier stages, as well as how it continues to be important today.

Prophet’s Daughter is interesting for its religious and historical perspective, but also for the personal picture it gives of Bahiyyih Khanum. As she is portrayed in a variety of circumstances, many of which were terribly difficult, a portrait emerges of a woman who is both humble and resolute, able to face change with equanimity, strong yet able to empathize and show kindness, supportive of key figures in the Faith but able to lead herself when necessary, and resilient despite facing hardship from a young age. Her role as a firm guide in following the Covenant and as a role model for believers is clearly illustrated.

From the book:

In her efforts to reinforce the believers’ confidence and to encourage their efforts to manifest Baha’i virtues in their daily lives, the Greatest Holy Leaf emphasized the importance of steadfastness. In one of her letters she sets out the particular importance of this virtue and describes the results that accrue to the believer:

All the virtues of humankind are summed up in one word “steadfastness”, if we but act according to its laws. It draws to us as by a magnet the blessings and bestowals of Heaven, if we but rise up according to the obligations it implies.

God be praised, the house of the heart is lit by the light of unswerving constancy, and the soul’s lodging is bedecked with the ornament of faithfulness.

Steadfastness is a treasure that makes a man so rich as to have no need of the world or any person or any thing that is therein. Constancy is a special joy, that leads us mortals on to lofty heights, great progress and the winning of the perfections of Heaven. All praise be to the Beloved’s court, for granting this most wondrous grace to His faithful people, and to His favoured ones, this best of gifts.

This book is an in-depth look at a very interesting early figure of the Faith, and one that many Baha’is will find both instructive and engaging.

Find it in the Bahá’í Center bookstore.