You will not want to miss the Web Talk scheduled for Sunday, May 14, 2017, when Dr. Jena Khadem Khodadad talks about her father Zikrullah Khadem, The Itinerant Hand of the Cause of God. As usual, the Web Talk is free, but you do need to sign up to be part of the audience in the virtual auditorium. The talk will begin at 2 p.m. EDT (11 a.m. PDT, 8 p.m. Western European time). The talk will also be available on Facebook and YouTube live (where you do not need to sign up). The talk and the questions and answers following the talk will be available on the Wilmette Institute YouTube channel some twenty-four hours after the live presentation.
In her talk Jena will discuss her remembrances and accounts of the life of her father, Zikrullah Khadem, appointed by Shoghi Effendi in 1952 as a Hand of the Cause of God. Zikrullah Khadem was born in 1904 in Tehran, Iran, in the Bahá’í enclave known as Hayat-i-Bágh. He was born to a family passionate about their love of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh and was nurtured by an illustrious father, Mirza Nasr’ulláh; a devoted mother, Rázziyih Khánum; and a courageous grandmother, Bibi Ján, who was a lioness. She and another Bahá’í woman made it their mission, time and time again, to retrieve the remains of the martyrs for proper burial. They would throw themselves on those blessed bodies, lamenting: “This is my brother, my true brother.” Mirza Nasr’ulláh served as a personal attendant and companion to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá for four years, including the period of the Master’s sojourn in the Cave of Elijah, and was a recipient of tablets from Him.
Zikrullah was raised in a legendary home—a refuge for a constant flow of persecuted and traveling Bahá’ís, a home that received notables such the poets Nayyir, Siná, and Na’im, a home wherein newly arrived messages and tablets from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá were perused and studied in secrecy by the light of a single candle. In her talk Jena will explain that, at the age of twenty-one, Zikrullah sent a message pledging his love and devotion to Shoghi Effendi, the newly appointed Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith. In 1925 he attained Shoghi Effendi’s presence, an experience that ignited in him a fire which could not be quenched—with an ever-increasing ardor until the end of his life and now beyond.
After Shoghi Effendi appointed Mr. Khadem a Hand of the Cause of God in 1952, his extensive services in Iran became international in scope. Shoghi Effendi conferred upon him the title “Itinerant Hand of the Cause of God.” Under the Guardian’s direction, Mr. Khadem traveled extensively in Iran; Europe; Africa; North, Central, and South America; Asia; and the Caribbean. The name, Zikrullah, which means “remembrance of God” characterized him. Until his last breath, Jena witnessed the copious flow from his lips of holy verses that, throughout his life, he had committed to memory.
You may want to listen to an interview (16:44) called “O God, Increase My Astonishment at Thee” with Jena Khadem Khodadad, the oldest daughter of the Hand of the Cause of God Zikrullah Khadem, in which she talks about her father’s early life, his passion for serving the Bahá’í Faith, and his years as a Hand of the Cause. You may also want to read Zikrullah Khadem: The Itinerant Hand of the Cause of God, written by his widow Javidukht Khadem.
Jena Khadem Khodadad, holds a Ph.D from Northwestern University in biological sciences (cell and molecular biology). Her academic career as professor on medical and graduate college faculties has entailed teaching cell and molecular biology and neuroscience and also research on the molecular organization of biological membranes. She has presented the results of her work to national and international scientific forums and has published her research in scientific journals and books. Jena has served on institutions and agencies of the Bahá’í Faith. As an advocate of human rights, Jena has presented before human-rights organizations, including Amnesty International and the American Jewish Committee, on the denial of higher education to Bahá’ís in Iran. As an active member of the Bahá’í Faith, she is dedicated to interfaith understanding and dialogue.
Jena is the daughter of Hand of the Cause of God Zikrullah Khadem and Javidukht Khadem and was raised in a household infused with the love of and passion for the Bahá’í Faith. She attained the presence of Shoghi Effendi and has presented at numerous conferences, seminars, and classes on “Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith”—a theme that is integral to the focus of her Web talk. Jena’s most recent book The Dynamics of Growth: Scientific Principles at Work in the Worldwide Advancement of the Bahá’í Faith was published by George Ronald in 2017. The book applies insights from science to the question of growth of the Bahá’í Faith in particular and to growth of religions in general. Jena and her husband, Manuchehr, live in the United States in the Chicago area.
Learn more about Jena Khadem Khodadad in an two-part interview (one part, 9:02 minutes long, and a second part, 9:11) about her moving to the United States for college; her impressions of her new country; her choice of molecular biology as her field of study; and her new book Dynamic of Growth: Scientific Principles at Work in the Worldwide Advancement of the Bahá’í Faith, influenced by her father and by the teachings of the Bahá’í Faith. In her mother’s biography of her husband Zikrullah Khadem: The Itinerant Hand of the Cause of God, Jena (and her siblings) write movingly about growing up with their father (pp. 175–240).