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ATLANTA, GA - 20 January 2000 - Baha'is are grief-stricken at the news of the death of the last living link to Baha'u'llah, the Prophet-Founder of their faith. Mrs. Ruhiyyih Rabbani, who died on 19 January 2000, was the widow of Shoghi Effendi, who was the great grandson of Baha'u'llah. Baha'is in metropolitan Atlanta, as well as millions around the world, mourn the loss of Mrs. Rabbani, who passed peacefully after a long illness. She was 89.

After marrying in 1937, Mrs. Rabbani and Shoghi Effendi, who was then head of the Baha'i Faith, went to reside in Haifa, Israel. She worked as his researcher, secretary, confidante and counselor, as Effendi single handedly guided the growing worldwide Baha'i community. Her vast correspondence and personal contacts, both dignified and informal, endeared her to thousands of Baha'is.

Throughout her life, Mrs. Rabbani worked tirelessly for the realization of the oneness of humanity, focusing in particular on the environment and indigenous cultures. A film producer, poet, and lecturer, Mrs. Rabbani was also a widely read author. Her extensive biography of her husband, "The Priceless Pearl," has appeared in many editions and many languages.

Mrs. Rabbani has been the pre-eminent member of the worldwide Baha'i community since the death of her husband in 1957. She was one of a group of nine who served as custodians of the Baha'i World Centre until the election of the international governing body, the Universal House of Justice, in 1963. After having held the Baha'i world together for six critical years, the group of nine, humbly and with the highest reliance on principle, stepped aside, asked the Baha'is not to vote for them, and transferred authority to the newly elected Universal House of Justice. Mrs. Rabbani's role in this cannot be over-estimated.

Later in her life, Mrs. Rabbani traveled widely, crossing all continents, visiting 185 countries. Many heads of state and government received her, including Prime Minister Indira Gandhi of India, Prince Philip, and the Secretary General of the United Nations, Javier Perez de Cuellar.

Thousands of people were touched by her compassion for human suffering, her indomitable spirit, humility, wit and humor. Her strong desire and one of her greatest successes was in encouraging members of indigenous people into full partnership in society. An example of her work towards fulfilling this aim was a six-month expedition that she led through the Amazon basin to survey the impact of development on the environment and indigenous cultures.

Thousands of memorial gatherings are being held locally and nationally throughout the world. Locally, the first in a series of memorial services will be held at the Atlanta Baha'i Center on Friday, 21 January at 7 p.m. Others services are planned at Life College on Saturday, 22 January at 7 p.m. and the Baha'i Unity Center in DeKalb County on Sunday at 2 p.m. Additional services will be held in private homes over the course of the weekend.

The Baha'i Faith believes that the will of one God is progressively revealed to mankind through the founders of the great religions. Its founder, Baha'u'llah, established the religion in 19th-century Iran, which consequently exiled him. It asserts the unity of humanity, and states that its well being and security will be attained when that unity is established.

There are approximately 2000 Baha'is in the Metro Atlanta area, and nearly 6 million worldwide.

Editor's Note: For more information about the Baha'i Faith, visit and click on NEWS CENTER.

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