Rúḥíyyih Khánum
By Hussein Ahdieh & Hillary Chapman
For Youth &
Young Adults!

A First Glimpse at Ruhiyyih Khanum

By Thomas Ahdieh Grant, A Bahá'í Youth

A big part of anyone’s life on earth is to meet the challenges of the day. The Universal House of Justice tells us that “every generation of young believers” is given an opportunity “to make a contribution to the fortunes of humanity, unique to their time of life.” Do you think about what your contribution may be at this moment in human history?

One way to get ideas about our contribution is to pray and study the Holy Writings. Another is to look at the needs of those around us and make efforts to better the world. Yet another is to be in the field of service with friends with whom we can collaborate. Another is to learn about other young people in human history who did all of this and see if we can learn from their experiences.

The life of Ruhiyyih Khanum is one such life. At every stage, she was alive to the needs of the day and lifted herself up to meet them.

When we think about Ruhiyyih Khanum, many of the images that come to mind are from the middle and later part of her life after she married the Guardian of the Faith and became a part of the Holy Family, later when she was named a Hand of the Cause of God, and as she travelled the world and visited over 100 countries.

This incredible woman, though, was once a child and a youth just like you and me. She had dreams and hopes. She loved animals, was very enthusiastic about learning, and had lots of energy. She also loved ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá and alongside her mother and father, she was devoted to the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh and arranged her life in such a way that she would promote its teachings and principles.

When Ruhiyyih Khanum was born her name was Mary Maxwell. She was born in Montreal, Canada, and her parents were May Maxwell and Sutherland Maxwell. Both of her parents were dynamic and brilliant people, and their marriage was devoted to service. Mary Maxwell had the great honour of meeting ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá when she was two years old. She first met Him in New York and then again in Montreal when He stayed at their home. What an honour and life-altering experience to meet the Perfect Exemplar at such a tender age.

Mary was introduced early on to the vision of the Faith, and she became devoted to it. Notwithstanding her mother’s extensive time away from home, Mary thrived. She was actively engaged in Bahá’í activities at every stage of her life. She was present at the gathering where the Tablets of the Divine Plan were first introduced to a group of American believers and as a youth was the one to unveil them.

Although this book is a full biography of Ruhiyyih Khanum’s life, the episodes from her childhood and youth years will be especially of interest to readers who are themselves young people figuring out the course of their lives. It is also interesting to see how the capacity built during these young years of Mary’s life—capacities to accompany others, to learn, to have courage, to stay committed to the Centre of the Faith—were ones that served her well in her decades of service to the Cause until her very last breath.

This book was written especially with youth in mind. It will be uplifting and educational for you and help you respond to the call for selfless service in this great Day of God.

Thomas Ahdieh Grant

Mary Maxwell as a Bahá'í youth with her mother, May Maxwell
Mary Maxwell as a Bahá'í youth with her mother, May Maxwell

Available Now in Print &
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Rúhíyyih Khánum book cover
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