Updated: Sep 12, 2020
Champion of the Charters of the Baha'i Faith
One of the most important figures in the history of the Baha'i Faith is Leroy Ioas. A wonderful book about him and his wife Sylvia has been written by his daughter, Anita Ioas Chapman, available from George Ronald Publishers. A substantial book, it is thorough, inspiring, and enjoyable to read. Even an outline of Mr. Ioas' services to the Baha'i Faith would go for several pages. I will mention only a few here. When Mr. Ioas was a boy in his teen years, Abdu'l-Baha came to America, and Leroy saw Him a number of times. A number of beautiful stories come from these days, one of them is told here.
Mr. Ioas' decades of service in America were followed by his extraordinary services in the Holy Land. Mr. Ioas was capable, vigorous, and well-organized, and served as an executive for a railway company. In 1951, Shoghi Effendi called Mr. Ioas to come and assist him in the Holy Land. Finally, Shoghi Effendi had capable help. At one point, the Guardian had reportedly told Amatu'l-Baha Ruhiyyih Khanum that the local baker had more capable help than he did. Mr. Ioas became known as “the Guardian's Hercules” for the magnitude of services he rendered to Shoghi Effendi. During the course of Mr. Ioas' earlier services in America, Shoghi Effendi had personally written to him:
“I admire the spirit that animates you, marvel at your stupendous efforts, and greatly rejoice at the success you and your collaborators in the teaching field are achieving.” -Letter dated March 28, 1943, quoted on page 113, “Leroy Ioas, Hand of the Cause of God"
If Shoghi Effendi marvelled at Mr. Ioas' efforts—they must have really been something!
Shoghi Effendi sent Mr. Ioas as his representative to the Intercontinental Conference in Kampala in February, 1953. Shoghi Effendi told him to, on his behalf, shake the hands of every woman believer, and give a hug to every man. There is a beautiful photograph of Mr. Ioas giving the Guardian's love to a man on page 129 of Volume XII of The Baha'i World (see below). The photo caption reads, “Leroy Ioas greeting African Baha'is on behalf of the Guardian, Kampala, Uganda, Africa, February, 1953.” In this photograph you can see Mr. Ioas giving a man the Guardian's hug, and the impact on the man's soul is visible. The same photograph is on page 275 of Mrs. Chapman's book “Leroy Ioas Hand of the Cause of God.”
In the Holy Land, Mr. Ioas assisted Shoghi Effendi as one of his secretaries. As a member of the International Baha'i Council, he performed diplomatic service; there are photographs of him meeting with Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, for example, in Mrs. Chapman's book about her father. He also rendered unique service to the Guardian by supervising the construction of the sacred edifices of the Faith on Mount Carmel.
Mr. Ioas was instrumental in the accomplishment of the purposes of all three of what Shoghi Effendi termed Charters of the Faith:
It is indeed my fervent and constant prayer that the members of this firmly-knit, intensely alive, world-embracing Community, spurred on by the triple impulse generated through the revelation of the Tablet of Carmel by Bahá'u'lláh and the Will and Testament as well as the Tablets of the Divine Plan bequeathed by the Center of His Covenant -- the three Charters which have set in motion three distinct processes, the first operating in the Holy Land for the development of the institutions of the Faith at its World Center and the other two, throughout the rest of the Bahá'í world, for its propagation and the establishment of its Administrative Order -- may advance from strength to strength and victory to victory. - Shoghi Effendi
Mr. Ioas played a key role in the accomplishment of Shoghi Effendi's work in furtherance of all three of these Charters. As a member of the National Teaching Committee in the United States, he played a central role in winning the goals of the Seven Year Plans, in furtherance of the Tablets of the Divine Plan. He supervised construction of the Shrine of the Bab and the International Archives Building on Mount Carmel, in fulfilment of the Tablet of Carmel. And he was a member of an institution established in the Will and Testament of Abdu'l-Baha, the Hands of the Cause of God, as well as being a member of the International Baha'i Council, forerunner to the Universal House of Justice. He was a great defender of the Covenant of Abdu'l-Baha.
In honor of his services, Mr. Ioas was given the inestimable gift of having a door of the Shrine of the Bab named after him by Shoghi Effendi. The Bab-i-Ioas, the door named after Mr. Ioas, can be seen in this photograph of the Shrine of the Bab.
An Excerpt from an article written by Paul Mantle, published here with permission. Paul Mantle has been a Baha'i since 1978 and currently lives in Grass Valley, California.