Written in 1970
Causes of Dispute between Ḍiyá'iyyih and Ruhiyyih Khánum
Twenty years after the passing away of the Master, when Shoghi Effendi had gradually taken matters into his own hands, the ‘tree’ was as yet not ‘fruitful’, in the sense that he had not yet married and had any children. Bahiyeh Khanum [The Master’s sister] was greatly disturbed by this, but the marriage of Shoghi Effendi was the personal responsibility of his mother, Zia (Diya'iyyih) Khanum.
|Shoghi's and his horrible Grand Mother|
I believe it was the beginning of 1937 that Mr. Mills visited Haifa for the last time. Mrs Marjory Morton was in Haifa too. Every lunch time there would be long discussions with Shoghi Effendi, but in the evenings I would be at dinner with them. One evening I found Mr. Mills very disturbed and sorrowful, and excusing himself from dinner declared that he would be leaving Haifa the next day. I asked Mrs Morton what had happened, and she told me that Zia Khanum had asked to see them both and had sought their opinion regarding Shoghi Effendi’s marriage. Mr. Mills had said that in the West that was a personal matter decided by the young people themselves and that other people had no right to interfere. Therefore whatever the Guardian’s decision was would be accepted by everyone. However, when Zia Khanum mentioned the name of Mary Maxwell, neither of them considered it to be the right choice. When Shoghi Effendi heard that, he had become very angry. It was in view of that anger that Mr. Mills thought that his presence in Haifa was not appropriate any more.
During my first trip to America I was at Green Acres and Mrs. May Maxwell, the mother of Mary Maxwell [Ruhiyyih Khanum] told me a story about her daughter which, in the light of what happened later, clearly proved that the tears that were shed by her at her daughter’s wedding to Shoghi Effendi were not tears of joy and pride, but maybe those of sadness, pain and shame in the eyes of God, - and fear for what later transpired, - as well as its effects on Shoghi Effendi and his Guardianship. However, in spite of this sadness and pain, she added, they could not refuse such an honour, nor could they speak of their disapproval of the marriage.
|Shoghi's poor Mother|
When the news of the impending marriage became known, a lady called Mrs. Edma Balloura Belmont, who had met the Master in America and had become a Baha’i, and who, upon her return to the Middle East had become a good friend of the family, was in Beirut undergoing medical treatment. Upon hearing the news she told the ladies of the family that she had nursed Mary Maxwell and knew her medical history and that it was impossible for her to have children. Soon after Mrs Belmont died, but her words were proved to be true.
In short, many of those who knew Mary Maxwell well were unhappy about this marriage but did not dare to express their opinions. My mother, Touba Khanum and her sister, Rouha Khanum were in Beirut at the time and apparently far removed from the matter. They were not capable of doing anything and therefore remained silent. The responsibility rested completely with Zia Khanum. She, in turn could not verify Mrs. Edma Belmont's words and upon that basis, prove anything.
|Ruhiyyih Khanum did not become pregnant.|
Some people believe that Shoghi Effendi was
inclined towards homosexuality.
Dr. Raf'at Bek, a Turkish, Baha'i gentleman, residing in Beirut, educated in Germany, and a gynaecologist by profession - he had been head of that department in the Turkish Medical School, - wrote to Shoghi Effendi, offering his services. Ruhiyyih Khanum refused to be examined by him. Dr. Raf’at Bek wrote again, suggesting that the problem may be with Shoghi Effendi himself. He recommended that he should eat strengthening food, including ten fresh eggs a day. Shoghi Effendi did not answer his letter, but asked his mother to provide him with such a diet. She obeyed. Time passed, but without any results. This was a source of anxiety for Zia Khanum, for too many eggs could cause other medical problems. She therefore asked Shoghi Effendi to relieve her of this duty and to ask Ruhiyyih Khanum to do it for him. This she refused to do, accusing Zia Khanum of not wanting her to get pregnant. This was the basis of the disagreement between the two parties and raised Shoghi Effendi’s suspicions.
Some years later, in Beirut, I heard from Rouhanguise Khanum, Shoghi Effendi’s eldest sister, that Shoghi Effendi finally convinced Ruhiyyih Khanum to see a doctor. In fact, two doctors saw her: Dr. Costero of the Italian Hospital in Haifa and Dr. Zondek, the gynaecologist of the Hebrew University and the Hadassa Hospital in Jerusalem. They both stated that because of a problem that existed she was unable to bear children.
At any rate, I remained a guest at Zia Khanum’s home until my own apartment was vacated and I returned to it. Early one morning, Zia Khanum came to visit us. That was the first and last time that she honoured me with such a visit. She said that her intention was to bid farewell to my mother, her sister, because upon further consideration, she had concluded that my opinion was probably the better one and that she had decided to return to the Master’s house (and Shoghi Effendi’s residence), and spend the rest of her days, no matter how they turned out, near Shoghi Effendi. After bidding my mother and myself farewell she left to do just that. Later we heard that she had asked her sister, Monawar Khanum, who at the time resided at the Master’s house, to deliver her request to Shoghi Effendi. When Ruhiyyih Khanum heard of this she presented Shoghi Effendi with an ultimatum, to the effect that ‘if your mother returns I leave’. Shoghi Effendi thought it better to decide against his mother’s return and thus refused her. But Ruhiyyih Khanum did not stop at that and told Shoghi Effendi that when his mother had arrived Monawar Khanum had received her with such affection and warmth that it proved that in her heart she had never cast out her sister. This only served to further complicate the situation and resulted in Shoghi Effendi expelling Monawar Khanum as well. From that day on, old, ill and alone, she lived at the Italian Hospital in Haifa.