Presented here is the historical background that led to the election of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Malaysia at the first National Bahá’í Convention of Malaysia held in 1964. The coming into existence of this divinely ordained national institution ushered a new era as it was indeed  a turning point in the history of the Faith in Malaysia.  Here is as an opportunity for the current generation of believers to get a glimpse of the spirit and the ecstatic atmosphere that prevailed at that most  dramatic  and unparalleled event.

The Faith was introduced in the then Malaya through the efforts of Dr. K. M. Fozdar and his wife Mrs. Shirin Fozdar who were pioneers from India to Singapore. Since the acceptance of the Faith by Yankee Leong on 19 December 1953, the Cause grew by leaps and bounds, through the arduous efforts of several early believers who were afire with the spirit that was generated by their newl-found Faith. The first Local Spiritual Assembly in Malaya was elected in Seremban in 1954, followed by Kuala Lumpur and Malacca in 1955. At this period of time, as there was no national administrative structure within Malaya, the affairs of the Bahá’í Faith were placed under the jurisdiction of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of India, Pakistan, and Burma.

In Riḍván 1955 the Guardian announced the setting up of the Regional Spiritual Assembly for South East Asia in 1957. In Riḍván 1957 the Spiritual Assembly of South East Asia was elected in Jakarta, Indonesia, and the following countries under its jurisdiction: Borneo, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaya, Mentawai Islands, Philippines Islands, Portuguese Timor, Sarawak, Thailand and Vietnam. In 1964 these countries were to elect their own independent National Spiritual Assemblies and the Regional Spiritual Assembly was to cease to exist.

The first decade since the acceptance of the Faith by Yankee Leong was filled with a rare kind of frenzied spirit in Malaya. There were several favourable factors that propelled the early growth of the Faith that led to the election of the national institution in 1964. The spirit that came with the Ten-Year Crusade itself was a push for the believers to enter boldly into the arena of service. Specific reference has to be made to the several visitors to the country from the early days, chiefly the Hands of the Cause of God who enthused the believers to rise to serve with sacrificial efforts. Malaya had the privilege of visits by some Hands of the Cause of God in the early days – Zikrullah Khadem in December 1953 to Johor Baru and Kuching, Shu’á’u’lláh ‘Alá’í visiting Malacca in 1956 and 1960, Abu’l-Qásim Faizi and Agnes Alexander visiting Malacca in October 1958 (with A. Q. Faizi coming three more times after the election of the national institution while that was the only visit by Agnes Alexander), Collis Featherstone coming to Kuala Lumpur in 1960 and making several repeat visits after the election of the national institution. There were a few other Hands too who came to the country after the election of the national institution.

Yet, special mention has to be made of Dr. Raḥmatu’lláh Muhájir.  Dr. Muhájir who was elected to the Regional Spiritual Assembly of South East Asia in Riḍván 1957 continued to work closely with the believers in Malaya even after being appointed Hand of the Cause in October 1957.  His direct involvement in the affairs of the Cause in Malaya was to a large extent the single- most factor that ushered the rapid growth of the Cause in the country. He asked for organising the first Summer School in December 1957 in Malacca, where he gave his first ten-point national plan for the growth and expansion of the Faith in Malaya. During the subsequent summer schools, national and regional teaching conferences, Dr. Muhájir initiated the setting up of several committees to open new areas for the Faith or consolidate existing communities. Dr. Muhájir himself joined the local teachers to open new places for the Faith or for deepening the new communities. Till his passing in 1979 Dr. Muhájir was constantly encouraging the community in devising gigantic plans that propelled the development of the Faith.

Meanwhile mass teaching started off in the rubber plantation settlements from 1957 itself, in which year the Faith penetrated aboriginal jungles and later some Chinese villages as well. With the upsurge of teaching activities, the National Teaching Committee of the Federation of Malaya and Singapore was formed in 1958.


By 1962 the National Teaching Committee had already branched itself into the Western, Southern, Northern, and Central Regions to form the national network needed for the ushering in of the first National Spiritual Assembly. By the eve of the formation of the national institution, the objectives set by the National Teaching Committee for themselves were:

  • To organise teaching activities for Malaya
  • To keep an up-to-date record of believers, Local Spiritual Assemblies and isolated believers and to keep a Bahá’í directory
  • To send out welcome letters to the newly declared believers in the area
  • To organise Bahá’í publicity by publishing newsletters and distributing them to all believers in Malaya and Singapore
  • To keep Bahá’í books and literature for the whole of Malaya
  • To look into all matters of national importance
  • To see that all LSAs are registered
  • To raise funds for general expenditure
  • To deputise and organise expenditure which is to be annually audited

There were many workers for the Cause who passionately worked for the speedy development of the Cause. Among the front liner workers were the members of the National Teaching Committee appointed by the Regional Spiritual Assembly for 1963 who were Dr. Chellie John Sundram, Dr. P. K. Rao, Tony Fernandez, Dr. R. J. Wolff, Mr. Maheswar Dayal, Mr. Leong Tat Chee, Mr. K. Rajah, Mr. Krishnan Kandasamy, Mr. Inbum Chinniah, Mr. Sathiawan Singh, Mrs. George Lee and Mr. A. Sabapathy. There were several other believers who were supremely devoted in serving the Cause. The expansion of the Faith to this impressive level had been made possible by the sacrificial efforts of several believers with constant push coming from the encouragement by Dr. Muhájir who kept visiting the country from time to time.


In 1961, there were a total of 15 Local Spiritual Assemblies in Malaya and Singapore. An old report of the National Teaching Committee of 1962 gives the existence of 23 Assemblies in September 1962. The Bahá’í World (1954-1963) says there were a total of 25 Local Spiritual Assemblies. During the meeting of the National Teaching Committee of the Bahá’í s of Malaya and Singapore held in Kuala Lumpur on 15 June, 1963 the Committee reported that there were nearly 30 Assemblies in Malaya.  By Riḍván 1964, there were 44 Local Spiritual Assemblies in Malaysia.

Having elected a sufficient number of pillars – the Local Spiritual Assemblies to support a national institution, the time was ripe for the election of the first national spiritual assembly of Malaysia in 1964. It is to be noted a new political entity called Malaysia came into existence on 16 September 1963, comprising Malaya, Singapore, Sabah, Sarawak, and Brunei. In the October 1963 message to the Bahá’í world the Universal House of Justice announced the dissolution of the existing six Regional Spiritual Assemblies and the formation of 19 new National Spiritual Assemblies. The new National Spiritual Assemblies would include the areas of Malaya, Singapore, Burma, Sarawak, Sabah, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, and the Philippines. The greatest joy for the Bahá’ís of both East and West Malaysia, especially those who had toiled day and night and sacrificed for the Cause was the election of the National Spiritual Assembly.


In February 1964, the Regional Spiritual Assembly of South East Asia based at Saigon sent out letters to the Local Spiritual Assemblies in Malaya, Sabah, Sarawak, Brunei and Singapore, requesting them to elect delegates and submit the results by 21 March 1964. The same letter also informed the dissolution of the National Teaching Committee. There were 32 delegates elected from Sabah, Sarawak and Brunei, and 23 from Malaya (that included Mrs. George Lee from Singapore). The delegates were sent ballot papers and voting instructions. The March 1964 issue of the Bahá’í News, published by that Regional Spiritual Assembly mentioned that Hand of the Cause Amatu’l-Bahá Rúhíyyih Khánum would be the representative at the first national convention of Malaysia. That was an exciting news for those who met her in her first visit in 1961, as well as those who were not privileged to meet her in that visit.  The Regional Spiritual Assembly appointed a National Convention Committee of Malaya with Mr. Inbum Chinniah, Mr. Leong Tat Chee, Mrs. Lily Ng, Mr. Yankee Leong, Mr. S. Vasudevan and Mr. Isaac DCruz as members.  Inbum Chinniah was the Chairman and Mrs. Lily Ng the Secretary. Wheels started to turn faster than before, and all mechanisms were set into motion.  The National Convention was arranged at the Third Residential College of the University Malaya, Kuala Lumpur from 25 to 28 April 1964.


With an air of excitement building up the National Convention was given press publicity. As early as March 2, 1964, The Straits Times daily published in Singapore reported this forthcoming convention with a caption that read, “Baháʼís to hold national meet”. The news read, “Leaders of the Baháʼí religion from all over the world will assemble in Kuala Lumpur on April 24 for the four day national convention of Baháʼís in Malaysia”. The Straits Times dated April 6, 1964, flashed the news, “Leaders of the Baháʼí Faith from all over the world will assemble here on April 24 for a four day convention.”

A special souvenir booklet was released to mark the auspicious occasion.  The souvenir booklet also carried a powerful message from the Regional Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of South East Asia. The opening paragraph reads “On this occasion of the formation of your First National Spiritual Assembly, we are privileged to share with you this historic and blessed moment which future generations of Bahá’ís in your country will accept as the beginning of a new epoch in the progress of our Beloved Cause in Malaysia. Those same generations will envy the blessings and privileges which have been bestowed upon you, the pioneers and the early believers for having been permitted to participate in raising yet another of these mighty and divinely ordained institutions and a pillar of God’s infallible protection over mankind-the Universal House of Justice.”

A befitting agenda was worked out  for the Convention was well worked out. The stage was set.



The much expected excitement climaxed on the morning session. The delegates and observers were all seated to witness the long awaited moment. In opening the Convention, Mr. Jamshed Fozdar, Chairman of the Regional Spiritual Assembly of South East Asia said that it was a historical event for the Cause of God and that future ages would record this most important event. He also reminded the friends of his illustrious father Dr. K. M. Fozdar who brought the Faith to the country through Singapore but was not present as he had passed away in Singapore in Riḍván 1958. There was a call of the delegates from Sabah, Sarawak, Brunei and Malaya. Mr. Leong Tat Chee was elected Chairman of the Convention and Harlan Lang, an American pioneer to  Sarawak as Secretary.  Yankee Leong of Seremban was elected Vice Chairman. On the request of the Convention Chairman, Mrs. Lily Ng served as Recording Secretary. Mr. Ong Choon Fong of Sarawak, Mrs Theresa Chee of Ipoh and Mr. Smith Ottan of Mukah in Sarawak were appointed tellers. Three delegates- Mr. Yankee Leong, Mr. Smith Ottan and Mrs. Shantha Sundram from Penang Island were appointed to draft the message to the Supreme Body. It was then that Amatu’l-Bahá arrived at the Convention Hall, with Mrs. Violette Nakhjavani after attending the National Convention in Ceylon (Sri Lanka).

Leong Tat Chee, the Convention Chairman reads a message. To his right is Phung Woon Khing the translator. To his left are Harlan Lang the Convention Secretary and Lily Ng, the Recording Secretary.

Mr. Yankee Leong from Seremban, Mr. Smith Ottan from Mukah, Sarawak and Mrs. Shantha Sundram from Penang Island drafted the message to the Universal House of Justice which read as follows:


Amatu’l-Bahá Rúhíyyih Khánum read out the message to the Convention from the Supreme Body. Part of the message she read out was, “… We hail with joyful hearts the formation of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Malaysia. This victorious community is faced immediately upon its emergence as an independent unit in the World Order of Bahá’u’lláh with the specific tasks assigned to it as its share of the Nine Year plan … The establishment of these tasks, within the allotted time, will endow this community with spiritual power, experience and administrative capacity to prosecute still fresh plans in the course of which they must proclaim the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh to the diverse millions inhabiting Malaysia and enroll the vast majority of them under the banner of the Most Great Name …”  The message also carried goals to be achieved under the Nine Year Plan – the first plan for Malaysia as well.

Amatu’l-Bahá then suggested to the Malaysian believers to achieve their goals within a two-year period and within two years of the Ten-Year Crusade period and then write to the Supreme Body to ask for more goals.  Amatu’l-Bahá also read out another special message from the Supreme Body to the Baháʼí s of the world.

The Chairman of the convention then called upon all those gathered to stand up and observe one-minute silence to honour Dr. K. M. Fozdar who pioneered to this region 14 years ago. Leong Tat Chee read out the Annual Report from the Regional Spiritual Assembly of South East Asia. Part of the message reads, “We only wish to conclude with the hope that your esteemed NSA will not rest until our beloved Faith has entered into the fifth and then the sixth stage of  its destined goal and it is our prayer that  by God’s grace from out of our region shall come the first such brilliant example”.Mrs. Grete Fozdar read out the Annual Report of Sarawak and Brunei and it said that as a result of the teaching work there thousands had come into the Faith.Isaac DCruz read out the Annual Report from Malaya. The report highlighted the main activities held and mentioned the intensified teaching activities among the Semai Aboriginal group, and that the educated youth turning to reading of Holy Writings. The report also mentioned the opening of predominantly  Tamil speaking populations in the states of Negeri Sembilan, Pahang, Malacca and parts of  Johore. The report also mentioned the sub-committees of the National Teaching Committee that had carried out great work.

Amatu’l-Bahá talking to Dr. R. J. Wolff of Hawaii, and residing in  Petaling Jaya.

SUNDAY 26 April

On the morning of Sunday 26 April  Mr. Jamshed Fozdar spoke on the Responsibilities of Baháʼí Delegates. He drew from the statements of the Guardian on the five qualities needed for electing believers to serve on the institutions. He quoted the Guardian who has requested the delegates to consider “without the least trace of passion and prejudice, and irrespective of any material consideration, the names of only those who can best combine the necessary qualities of unquestioned loyalty, of selfless devotion, of a well-trained mind, of recognized ability and mature experience.” This was followed by a talk on Impressions and Reminiscences of mass Teaching in Thailand. Mrs Shirin Fozdar mentioned how she went to Thailand in 1961 on the advice of the Hands of the Cause of God, and how she was able to establish the Faith there albeit far too many obstacles. When she went to Thailand there was only one Local Spiritual Assembly in Bangkok  but now there were 25 Assemblies all over Thailand. Dr. R. J. Wolff then spoke about his Impressions and Reminiscences of Mass Teaching in Korea and the Philippines. Yankee Leong spoke on his teaching experiences in Sarawak, and paid tribute to Jamshed Fozdar who opened the Faith with sacrificial efforts. He also  reported of mass teaching going on there. He mentioned about mass teaching happening in a small scale in Brunei, Sarawak and Borneo area when he went to those places in 1959. Dempsey Morgan gave an account of his mass teaching experiences in Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and some other countries in South East Asia. Mr Harlan Lang then spoke on the Baháʼí Attitude towards Government and Politics. He quoted heavily from the various statements made by Baháʼu’lláh and  ʻAbdu’l-Bahá on this subject.


On the afternoon of the 26 April was the election of the National Spiritual Assembly. This first National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Malaysia had its seat in Kuala Lumpur and comprised Malaya, Singapore, Brunei, Sabah, and Sarawak. Six out of the nine members elected came from the Borneo Territories. The members elected were:

Dr. John Fozdar (Sarawak) – Chairman
Mrs. George Lee (Singapore) – Vice Chairman
Mr. Yankee Leong (Malaya) – Secretary
Mr. Leong Tat Chee (Malaya) – Treasurer
Mrs. Grete Fozdar (Sarawak)
Mr. Minoo Fozdar (Brunei)
Mrs. Marjorie Fozdar (Brunei)
Mr. Chin Yun Sang (Brunei)
Mr. Harlan Lang (pioneer from the USA)

Some Bahá’ís were deeply moved to tears when the names of the nine members of the first National Spiritual Assembly of Malaysia were announced. It was a big relief and reward for those who had toiled day and night to bring this momentous happening to fruition.

Members of the first national institution with Amatu’l-Bahá. Seated L-R: Mrs. Grete Fozdar, Amatu’l-Bahá, Mrs. George Lee and Mrs. Marjorie Lighthall. Standing L-R: Yankee Leong, Harlan Lang, Dr. John Fozdar, Leong Tat Chee, Minoo Fozdar and Chin Yun Sang.

With that Malaysia became one of the 86 National Institutions in the world.  Together with this great victory came responsibilities. It was at this first National Bahá’í Convention that the Bahá’ís of Malaysia were given their share of the Nine-Year Plan.

Following the elections Mrs. Shirin Fozdar spoke on the Duties and Responsibilities of the National Spiritual Assembly.  She quoted from the Writings and stressed, “The Malaysian Baháʼís have to work very hard since we have been deemed fit by the Universal House of Justice to have our own National Spiritual Assembly that will participate in the election of the Universal House of Justice after five years. She also reminded that the National Spiritual Assembly  is the pillar of the Universal House of Justice. This was followed by a talk by S. Vasudevan on the subject of “Baháʼí Youth, Servants of the Cause”. He said that a servant does not question his Master, he simply obeys! He said once we accept Baháʼu’lláh we surrender our free will to Him. He also drove home the cardinal point that the greatest responsibility for the progress of the Faith in the  future  is in the hands of the youth and youth  are not those below the age of 21 but anyone who feels young. He said that our spirit is never old. Dr. R.J. Wolff spoke on “Principles of Baháʼí Administration” and stressed that those who consult must have pure motives and radiate a spirit of detachment from all save God.

On the evening of the election of the new national institution, Amatu’l-Bahá said, “From the nine names of the National Spiritual Assembly that I have seen, I know they are those who have worked hard, and I know they will do all they can to progress the Faith still further …”


Concerning this national administrative body Shoghi Effendi says, “Its purpose is to stimulate, unify and co-ordinate by frequent personal consultations the manifold activities of the believers as well as the Local Assemblies; and by keeping in close constant touch with the Bahá`í World Centre, initiate measures, and direct in general the affairs of the Cause in that country”.

Shoghi Effendi, in a letter written on his behalf, likens the functioning of a National Spiritual Assembly to the beating of a healthy heart, “pumping spiritual love, energy and encouragement” to all members of the Bahá’í community. And this process is about to be set in force with the coming into existence of this divinely ordained institution.  The affairs of the community that were placed in the hands of the Regional Spiritual Assembly of South East Asia are to be assumed  right at the doorstep within Malaysia.

We learn from the Will and Testament of ʻAbdu’l-Bahá that National Spiritual Assembly, is the secondary House of Justice, and  the supreme Bahá’í administrative authority in each land. The National Assemblies according to   Shoghi Effendi constitute the electoral bodies in the formation of the Universal House of Justice  and are empowered to direct, unify, co-ordinate and stimulate the activities of individuals as well as local Assemblies within their jurisdiction.  Through the coming into existence of this national institution in Malaysia, the believers  have for the first time been directly connected with the The Universal House of Justice, which the Guardian said would be regarded for posterity as “’the last refuge of a tottering civilization”’. That Supreme Body is an infallibly guided institution in the world and on it rests the responsibility for ensuring the unity and progress of the Cause of God. That infallible body is also the “apex” of the Bahá’í Administrative Order, as well as the supreme organ of the Bahá’í Commonwealth. Therefore, the convention is not to be viewed as one of those happenings. It has to be regarded in no other light except as the most dramatic  event in the early history of the Faith in the country.   Indeed, it can be rightly acclaimed as unparalleled in its own way.


Dr. John Fozdar read out congratulatory messages that poured in. The telegram form the Supreme Body read:

“NSA Malaysia hearts warmed spirit devotion dedication expressed your Convention Cable Assure Prayers at Shrines Deepest Love – UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE”

The Canadian National Convention send this cable:


There were letters of congratulations from the National Spiritual Assemblies of Brazil, Argentina, Republic of Panama, Pakistan, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Finland, Central and East Africa, Luxembourg, Germany, Australia, Sweden, Denmark, India, Canada, Belgium, Arabian Peninsula, Columbia, Ecuador, Burma, Chile, Alaska, Japan, New Zealand, Jamaica, the United States, North West Africa, Italy, Switzerland, Norway, Spain, North East Africa, El Salvador British Isles, and France. There was also a congratulatory message from the Regional Spiritual Assembly of the South Pacific based in Fiji Islands and some Hands of the Cause of God.


Amatu’l-Bahá spoke at different sessions of the Convention, the essence of which are provided here. Amatu’l-Bahá spoke to a large crowd of believers, many of whom had come from the rubber plantation estates in the states of Negeri Sembilan and Malacca. In that talk she enlightened the audience with stories on teaching the Cause. She then elaborated on the situation in some parts of the world. S. Vasudevan of Malacca who was at the convention has this to say on the talk she just gave, “The crowd was transported into Valleys of Knowledge and Love with her illuminating talk”. In another session at the convention, Amatu’l-Bahá addressed the convention on the topic of ‘The Role of Women in the Bahá’í Faith,’ in which she encouraged the Bahá’í women to rise to great heights of service, which amazed both men and women among the audience. During the peripherals of the National Convention, Amatu’l-Bahá was most happy to see about 20 Asli believers present. On each of the Asli friends, she pinned a Bahá’í badge bearing the Greatest Name. She conversed with an Asli believer with the assistance of Krishnan Kandasamy who acted as translator. Amatu’l-Bahá said she always had a special place in her heart for the indigenous people whom she had met in her travels to other parts of the world. They were simple and pure, unspoiled by urban materialism. Her hope was to see them rise up independently and champion the Cause of God. Amatu’l-Bahá said these pure souls that burned with the love of Bahá’u’lláh needed widespread education to better understand the holy words and to rise to greater heights of service. She also met with some Bahá’ís from the rubber estates. M. Palaniandy from Jasin town in the state of Malacca translated her talks into the Tamil language. Mr. Phung Woon Khing who was one of the translators for Amatu’l-Bahá. She stressed on the importance of teaching the Indians and the Chinese in Malaysia. She commented, “The Indians are like sand, they absorb every drop of water poured on them; the Chinese are like cement, it takes time for the water to seep through.” At the time when she came to Malaysia, she observed that the Indians were mainly labourers in the rubber plantations while the Chinese were engaged in business mainly in the urban areas. And importantly, in all her talks Amatu’l-Bahá brought in the beloved Guardian, his humble services, sacrifices, and examples.

Inbum Chinniah at left, translates the talk by Amatu’l-Bahá at right.

Mrs. Lily Chinniah partly hidden, at left, presenting a gift to Amatu’l-Bahá, with Mrs. George Lee next to her. Seated at extreme right is Mrs. Lily Ng

Phung Woon Khing at left translates for Yankee Leong at right.


The Bahá’í youth of Malacca town and Seremban put up a social programme on the night of 26 April. Amatu’l-Bahá had the habit of wearing the local dress of the country she visited, and Malaysia was no exception. Amatu’l-Bahá appeared attired in the Indian saree at one session of the Convention. But for this cultural program Amatu’l-Bahá, Lily Chinniah, and Violette Nakhjavani casually made their entrance into the Convention Hall for the cultural programme. The Malaysian eyes could not believe what they saw – Amatu’l-Bahá in the “Baju Kebaya”. Spontaneously the crowd stood up and applauded. Amatu’l-Bahá smiled at the believers and waved to them. It was a fascinating incident, recalls Lily Chinniah who had presented Amatu’l-Bahá Rúhíyyih Khánum with that Baju Kebaya. It was through such simple gestures that Amatu’l-Bahá won the hearts of the audience. An international pageant was performed by the Bahá’í girls. A choir comprising both young boys and girls performed songs in Malay as well as in English. They also did some sketches. Jack Tan, S. Vasudevan, Koh Ai Lin, Isaac DCruz and Sabapathy dressed as girls and performed the ‘can-can dance’. Amatu’l-Bahá laughed heartily at these “naughty and talented boys.” The highlight was a show called ‘Everyone Becomes a Bahá’í’. In the last piece, S. Vasudevan sang a song they composed called ‘The Ballad of Yankee’ to the tune of an old Tamil song while S. Satanam echoed it. The lines were funny jokes on Yankee Leong and Amatu’l-Bahá and Yankee Leong enjoyed the jokes. At the end of the show Amatu’l-Bahá told Yankee Leong, “Yankee, we pull the legs of only those whom we love.” The performance by the youth was so successful that it was repeated on the third night on the request of Amatu’l-Bahá. She commented that she enjoyed the show thoroughly that she would love to return to Malaysia whenever such concerts were held. And Amatu’l-Bahá left the country with that favorite ‘Baju Kebaya’ of Lily’s, which she was most pleased to gift to Amatu’l-Bahá.

S. Satanam at left and S. Vasudevan at right, performing the ‘The Ballad of Yankee’

The group that performed

MONDAY 27 April

One of the highlights of the day was the talk by S. Nagaratnam on the subject of  “Birth and Growth of a Local Spiritual Assembly”.  He said that only when we surrender ourselves to the  Will of Baháʼu’lláh we are sure that the Local Spiritual Assembly will grow strong and progress. He said that in an Assembly it is not any individual who decides, but it will be a collective responsibility and stressed that only when all members carry out things collectively a maturity takes place. He quoted from what the Master has said- that the Local Spiritual Assemblies are “shining lamps and heavenly gardens, from which the fragrances of holiness are diffused over all regions, and the lights of knowledge are shed abroad over all created things”.

 Mrs. Elinor Wolff then gave a report on the activities of Women’s Committee. She said that although it was only in the previous year that the National Teaching Committee set up the Women’s Committee, much had been achieved. The Committee’s activities centred around getting more women appointed into committees, setting up children’s classes at the summer schools and encouraging isolated women to teach.

Then came the next important session – “Taking the Faith to the Minority Group”. Mr. Deraoh Leman, an early Asli believer  spoke about hearing the Faith first through Yankee Leong and how the Faith grew in his Asli village. Mr. M. Maniam spoke of how he went to Sarawak together with Yankee Leong and Beyzaee and served the Cause there at a time when things were very difficult and highly challenging for all the three.  Yet they managed to teach the Faith with reasonable success in many interiors of Sarawak.  He said that he had to return to Malaya as his visa expired. Krishnan Kandasamy spoke on how he started to teach as a full-time teacher in many places in the state of Johor and mentioned that teaching in the towns was much different from teaching in the estates. Leong Ho San spoke on teaching the Faith to the aboriginal people. He said the best way to teach them was to live among them and learn their language and culture and show genuine love for them. He also stressed that there has to be constant visits to the Asli areas to keep them strong in the Faith. Yankee Leong spoke on teaching the Chinese people. He said that it may be difficult to bring in the Chinese race into the Faith as they are materialistic, but once they accept the Faith they would be most hard working for the Cause. He also said they have a great role to play in China, the Land of the Future when the doors are opened for the Cause. Dr. John Fozdar spoke on teaching the Faith to the Ibans.  He talked about the early believers who gave the Faith among the Ibans such as Mr. Charles Duncan and Mr. Minoo Fodar in Brunei. He also mentioned the services by Yankee Leong, Maniam, Mr. Thirupathy and Mr. Beyzaee.


On 28 April the last day of the Convention was the call for local travel teachers and the following arose- Mr. Errol Seow, Miss Lein Beng Liew, Mr. Isaac DCruz, Mr. S. Vasudevan, Mr. Vishnupatham, Mr. S. Satanam, Mr. A. Sabapathy, Miss Koh Ai Leen and Miss Chiang Kim Lin. Then came the presentation of teaching reports from the delegates who represented various areas in the country. A total of 24 delegates gave their reports. With this lively session the first convention came to a close. Throughout the convention there was lively discussions and consultations. Mr. Phung Woon Khing, Mr. S. Nagaratnam and Mr. Inbum Chinniah took turns to translate the talks from Malay to English throughout the Convention were well acknowledged.


Amatu’l-Bahá and Violette Nakhjavani then left for Thailand to attend their national convention. There Amatu’l-Bahá said she was very happy with the proceedings of the first National Convention that took place in Malaysia. She was happy with the election of mature believers on the first national body and spoke highly of the mature consultation. Amatu’l-Bahá felt the Malaysian community had a big destiny to play in the region. There is an interesting account of the visit left by Violette Nakhjavani in her book ’Amatu’l-Bahá Visits India’ part of which read, “The participation of Amatu’l-Bahá was a blessing to all the friends. Her encouraging talks created a greater determination in their hearts to serve the Cause they love so dearly”.

Group photograph of the historic first National Bahá’í Convention of Malaysia.


Most of the delegates at the first national convention are no longer with us. The late Mr. S. Satanam of Seremban related to the author that the delegates and the observers were so thrilled and excited with the first national convention that he and other friends could not sleep until the early morning on all the three nights. All along the believers had gathered at teaching conferences and summer schools, with not more than 50 or sixty attending. But this memorable convention was of a different kind with greater number of friends from Sabah, Sarawak, Brunei, Singapore, and West Malaysia, truly a great national gathering. They were all excited to see so many new faces for the first time, and some of them initiated lasting bonding.  The greatest single motivating factor was their privilege to meet up with the beloved Amatu’l-Bahá, whose very presence and words enhanced their spirit to serve and love the Cause. Satanam further said that the spiritually ecstatic atmosphere that prevailed throughout the convention was the very presence of Amatu’l-Bahá Rúhíyyih Khánum and her words of wisdom and encouragement in all her talks to the audience and her private conversations with individuals. The entire election procedure was something that never had the most subtle form of canvassing of self-promotion.  It was all prayerfully done and the best among the believers were elected to the national institution.

At bookshop during break session. L-R: Alan Tan, Isaac DCruz, Satanam and Nagaratnam.


This story would be incomplete without making mention of the good name the community of the Greatest Name has created in the eyes of the International Baháʼí community.  The Malaysian Bahá’í community not only achieved all the goals of the Nine-Year Plan (1964 to 1973), but also surpassed many of the goals especially those assigned to West Malaysia as reported in the Third National Convention held in 1966. Having achieved the goals, the community also asked the Supreme Body to give them supplementary goals, as per the expectation and advice of Amatu’l-Bahá Rúhíyyih Khánum at the first convention. That was a memorable triumph in the history of the Malaysian Bahá’í community. That was also a sweet beginning for more goals that were achieved one after another by the community of the Greatest Name in Malaysia was praised over and over.  The Malaysian community was always known to achieve their goals much earlier than the deadline and would ask for supplementary goals as well.

Whether in the field of pioneering or in the field of administrative work, whether in the field of service or in the field of sacrifice, or in whatever area of service the Malaysian Bahá’ís had risen wholeheartedly and made Malaysia a shining beacon in the Bahá’í World. One area of great pride to the Malaysian Bahá’ís is the tremendous ability to achieve all the goals given to Malaysian Bahá’í community by the Supreme Body. A distinction was the ability of the Malaysian Bahá’ís to achieve the goals well before the end of plan period.  On account of this fine track record the Bahá’í community of Malaysia came to be recognised as high achievers. The Malaysian Bahá’ís – both as a community and as individuals had grown to show implicit obedience to the divine institutions. The   ability of the Malaysian Bahá’í community in undertaking international projects of great magnitude was demonstrated throughout. The increased level of understanding of the Faith by the Malaysian Bahá’í community is remarkable. No less impressive is the attitude of loyalty and obedience towards the institutions of the Faith. In the field of pioneering Malaysia had always been entrusted with a greater number of tasks. The Malaysian pioneers were acclaimed to be the best workers and all-round achievers by the host countries.


Since the election of the national institution the community of the Greatest Name in Malaysia has won accolades after accolades from several quarters chiefly from the Supreme Body, and visitors to the country such as the Hands of the Cause of God. Many believers abroad who had heard of the extraordinary achievements in Malaysia wanted to learn of the secret of the success.

Although several Hands of the Cause of God had visited and relentlessly assisted Malaysia, the lion’s share goes to Dr. Raḥmatu’lláh Muhájir who had adopted Malaysia as his favorite community. As he was the main person behind most of the teaching plans and one who impelled the believers to scale greater heights, he is very much acclaimed as the architect of the Malaysian Baháʼí community.  By 1961, Dr. Muhájir had visualised the glorious future in store for the community in Malaya.  In that year Dr. Muhájir had written in his diary as follows, “Malaya is on the way to maturity and pretty soon will distinguish itself among the communities of the world.” During his own lifetime, he was happy to have seen Malaysia praised over and over by the Supreme Body.

Dr. Muhájir always mentioned that he loved to come to Malaysia for spiritual relaxation as this was one community where he was sure to receive glad tidings on the achievements of all the goals  and that too much in advance of the deadline.  He was joined by the Universal House of Justice, that infallible institution in placing accolades after accolades on this ever-vibrant community. Given below are a few praises placed upon this blessed community during the lifetime of Dr. Muhájir.

Dr. Raḥmatu’lláh Muhájir, very much loved as the architect of the Malaysian Bahá’í community.

Part of the letter from the Universal House of Justice dated 22 December 1970 to the Malaysian Bahá’í community reads, “… Your newsletter, Nineteen Day Feast letters, other communications to the friends and your minutes are always interesting and full of good news, and your zeal and devotion in promoting the welfare of the Cause and constantly caring for the friends under your jurisdiction is a source of great joy to us …” 

Part of the 1972 Riḍván Message from the Supreme Body to the Bahá’ís of Malaysia reads: “We voice our thanks to Bahá’u’lláh for the outpouring of His abundant blessing upon His lively, devoted and capable followers in Malaysia and Brunei. It is remarkable that in less than two decades the small band of Bahá’ís, the supporters of the Greatest Name in those parts of the world, have grown to become stalwarts in the arena of service to the Cause of God and have made great impact on the advancement of the Faith in Malaysia and in other countries of South-eastern Asia and the Far East …”

A special 1974 Naw-Rúz message from the Supreme Body to the Bahá’ís of Malaysia has this to convey: Your achievements during the past years have been not only a source of great joy to the Bahá’í world, but a fountain of inspiration to your fellow believers throughout South-eastern Asia …”

Part of the message of the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá’ís of Malaysia on the occasion of Naw-Rúz 1979:

“The beloved friends of Malaysia have been a pride and joy to us, and have proved themselves to a beacon of light and source of strength to many neighbouring countries, creating a spiritual impact extending to other continents. You are called upon to demonstrate once again your devotion and capacity in service to the Cause of God. Your achievements of the past, in themselves, are an indication of what victories lie ahead in the future …”

At the Winter School held in Cameron Highlands in December 1979, Counsellor Inbum Chinniah, made reference to this message and remarked, “This is a great praise indeed, because this sort of praise never appeared in the other messages. There were one or two nice lines, but not praised to this extent. The Universal House of Justice gives praise where it is due, and the Malaysian community can be proud that they have received such wonderful praise. As `Abdu’l-Bahá said, the National Spiritual Assembly is responsible for directing, inspiring and guiding the friends in their achievements and in their progress. We Bahá’ís in Malaysia are really very blessed that we have a spiritual assembly that has been able to do this.”

Part of the message from the Universal House of Justice dated January 1981, slightly one year after the passing of Dr. Muhájir addressed to the Bahá’ís of Malaysia reads: … Our hearts are filled with joy as we recall once more the accomplishments of that triumphant community which, in less than three decades since its birth, has established itself as one of the brightest Bahá’í communities in the history of the early stages of the Formative Age of the Cause … Judging from past achievements of the beloved friends in Malaysia and the abundant confirmations from on high, we have every confidence that you will achieve, and even surpass, the following goals of the next phase of the Seven Year Plan covering a period of three years, and will draw the admiration of the entire Bahá’í world.”

It is a matter of great pride that this blessed community continues to receive such appreciations till this day.  Dr. Muhájir was largely responsible for nurturing this community to maturity from 1957 and had always considered the Malaysian Bahá’í community  “A Jewel Among Nations!”

Today the new National Haziratu’l-Quds is situated on a prime location in Kuala Lumpur. This edifice of great beauty is truly an added pride to the community.


More details of this story in the forthcoming book by the author :

An Account of the Hands of the Cause of God Who Visited Malaysia


A. Manisegaran

31 July 2023


You may leave your comments at: info@bahairecollections.com



26 thoughts on “DAWN OF A NEW ERA

  1. Dear Mani,
    Let me say at the outset that I was very emotional reading this masterpiece. I broke down many times and had to pause and continue reading after regaining my cmoposure. I would say this is one of the ten best stories in this famous blog. The information that you have gathered and the way you have set your pen to paper to bring out the spirit of the first national convention is not only marvellous, but frankly quite amazingly done. Bahaullah has truly granted you the talent of penmanship which you are exercising only too well

    The introductory paragraph to the story itself captures the heart of the reader. I read in one sitting. There were moments I was moved to tears, especially the talks and advice by Amatul Baha, along with the love of Dr Muhajir for this community which he rightly and prophetically described as the Jewel Among Nations welled my eyes with tears. And the kind of wonderful and moving appreciations from the Universal House of Justice that this country has received! All who had laid the foundation for the wonderful community we enjoy today- among others Yankee Leong, Inbum Chinniah, M. Maniam, Leong Ho San, Dr Wolff, Mrs. George Lee, Leong Tat Chee, Satanam, Krishnan Kandasamy, and Isaac DCruz are well remembered and rightly acknowledged.

    Within ten years of the coming of the Faith into the country, Malaysia has had a wonderful National Institution, at a time when our sister communities were still struggling. This was a milestone by itself. This could only be possible with so much sacrifice by the early believers, together with constant and close guidance and push coming from Dr Muhajir who is the Architect of the Malaysian Bahai community. These early believers who were the torch bearers have truly set perfect examples for Bahais like me, and of course for the current generation of believers as well. With the coming into existence of this national institution, the community was guided to scale so many heights in the path to further the growth of the Cause in Malaysia. I am personally aware of so many visitors singing praise of the warmth and greatness of the Malaysian Bahai community. While working as Administrative Assistant to the then Secretary of the NSA- Mr. Inbum Chinniah I became first hand observer of such praises. I may have moved out to the USA. But my early foundation and upbringing was in the Malaysian Bahai community, which memories are always stored indelibly in the inner corner of my heart. Whenever the American Bahais learn that I hail from Malaysia they express so much admiration for that vibrant community. News has spread all over the world. And praises coming from the American Bahai community which the Guardian has described as the direct descendants of the Dawn Breakers is truly so gratifying to me.

    Mani, you did it again. I hope every Bahai in Malaysia would read this well documented piece based on original research. Communities should also discuss this at their gatherings. Individuals should form Book Clubs to discuss the greatness of this vibrant community through this story and the past stories as well.

    I view this story as a great tribute you have paid to the National Spiritual Assembly of Malaysia under which sheltering care you and I were nurtured.

    C. Kanagaratnam

  2. Mr. Manisegaran,
    The first election of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Malaysia at the first National Bahá’í Convention of Malaysia held in 1964 is well presented. Well titled as Dawn of a New Era starting with the first election of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Malaysia. And I can see the sweet beginning of many things, especially the praises by the Supreme Institution of the Faith. The presence of Amatul Baha and her words of wisdom go deep into my heart. I could feel the spirit of the first National Convention. Mr Satanam seems to have summarized everything.
    I was delighted to view some rare historical photographs. I am also quite familiar with the names of some Baha’i pioneers and visitors to Malaysia, which are mentioned in this wonderful story. You have mentioned the names of the pioneers from India to Singapore, Dr. K. M. Fozdar and his wife Mrs. Shirin Fozdar who introduced the Baha’i Faith in the then Malaya. I recollected that Dr. K. M. Fozdar also introduced the Faith in Andaman Islands during the Ten Year Crusade, in 1953 for which he became a Knight of Baha’u’llah for the Andaman Islands. I was also pioneering in Andaman Islands. I was given an opportunity to write an article on Dr. K. M. Fozdar and his all family members. The photographs of his family members and his breast size photographs were arranged for me to be published in all the Newspapers of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The article was published with beautiful borderline design in the local newspapers in Port Blair, the Capital City of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
    I have been following the stories in the Bahai recollections Blog since 2016 and have learnt a lot of the greatness of this community which Hand of the Cause of God Dr. Muhajir considered a JEWEL AMONG NATIONS.
    Thank you once again, my dear brother for bringing out another great historical story called Dawn of a New Era.

    Jaya Raju Thota
    Greater Visakhapatnam
    Andhra Pradesh

  3. Thank you Mr. Manisegaran for writing about the first national Convention of Malaysia and the election of the First National Spiritual Assembly. I had always wanted to know about the first convention and the stories related to that event. Finally, I have read the details from your story.

    On a related note, it is always a great privilege to read your articles based on true historical events. Your blog carries stories of many Bahá’í who have served the Cause very well. May Baha’u’llah bless you for relentlessly putting your efforts to gather information on the early history.

    Keep up your good work.

  4. Thank you dearest Brother Manisegaran for your “Dawn of a New Era”.

    May He bless you as you stride the path of the Great Nabil as the Chronicler of Historic Events Far Away and Long Ago which add richness to the evolution of a new civilization.

    Generations in future will look upon your works as master pieces upon which much can be learned for the promotion of His Divine Plan for humanity.

    Love you dearest and thank you.
    V. Theenathayalu
    Shah Alam

  5. Dear Manisegaran,
    That was indeed a great write up about the early growth of the Faith in Malaysia leading to the election of the first national institution.

    The Faith has always grown from stage to stage through the sweat, tears, and blood of the martyrs, who inspired the pioneers and believers. Similar pattern took place in the early Malaysia too. We could have forgotten some of the believers who are no more in the spotlight of the younger generation. But no one can deny, ignore or hide their sacrifices. It is well known to the kingdom on earth and heaven.

    Mani, God bless your contributions to highlight a history well written and engraved in the hearts and minds of the believers not only in our part of the world but all over the world.

    Panjawarnam Ganesan
    Subang Jaya

  6. Dear Mani,

    Thank you for penning such an informative, inspiring and exciting article that refreshed many precious and unforgettable memories of decades of the birth and the development of the Faith in Malaysia. Reading your story entitled “Dawn Of A New Era” my soul flew through a journey of recalling memories that had commenced in Malaya by Dr. K. M Fozdar and his wife Mrs. Shirin Fozdar in 1952, the scenario I had been watching from nine years later from 1962 when, with the grace of God, I pioneered to Laos and adopted Malaysia as a guide in teaching model. I recollect several historical events such as the birth of new local spiritual assemblies, teaching committees, teaching plans, individual and mass teachings, and of course the Summer Schools. Clearly the community of the Greatest Name in Malaysia has been nurtured by the frequent visits of the Hands of the Cause of God.

    The election of the first National Spiritual Assembly of Malaysia graced by the presence of Amatu’l-Baha and the ushering of the first global Nine Year Plan opened new horizons for the victories that Malaysia triumphantly achieved.

    This story is about the best treat for the current generation of believers who are now, able to connect with the genesis of the national institution in Malaysia. It is very timely too, as the Malaysian community has just moved into its most prestigious National Bahai Centre in a prime location in Kuala Lumpur.

    Kind regards,
    Dr. Firaydun Mithaq
    Chieng Mai

  7. Dear Brother Manisegaran
    Thank you for sharing the Bahai history of Malaysia. The way you presented the story is beautiful very interesting to read. I am feeling so good to know how the Faiths tarted and developed till the time the first National Spiritual Assembly was elected.

    After reading Bahai history of Malaysia, I also feel like writing our local Bahai history. Your story has become a perfect guidance for me.

    Lots of love,

    Joy Edify
    Kumbi Cluster

  8. Mani. Read the whole article , such a moving description of the early development of the Faith and the establishment of the first National Spiritual Assembly in 1964. Posterity will definitely applaud at this great piece of historical work.

    Every Malaysian Bahai especially the youth must make it a point to read it and draw great inspiration to serve the Cause of God. My heartiest congratulations and appreciation for this wonderful work.

    Professor Dr. Ananthan Krishnan

  9. I found the story entitled DAWN OF A NEW ERA very informative and interesting. I was truly unaware of the remarkable progress of Faith since its introduction in Malaya. So much information has been shared on the first national convention and the election of the first National Spiritual Assembly of Malaysia in 1964. Thanks to Mr. Manisegaran’s insightful writings, with which I have gained a better understanding. The story has truly shed light on this subject. I eagerly anticipate more of his work.

    Thank you for sharing this valuable knowledge.
    Isai Amuthan
    Kuala Lumpur

  10. Dear Mani,

    These are indeed precious recollections. I remember how these stories inspired us during our younger days in so many ways. Your effort to put them together in a way that will inspire generations to come is truly wonderful. Thank you for this.

    With love,
    Raj Sreeni
    Setia Alam

  11. Thank you for bringing the scenario of the formation of the first National Spiritual Assembly of Malaysia in 1964 with so many details. This elaborated story is so informative for me. I love all the photos, feel thankful to fellow Malaysian Baha’i and all the early believers who sacrificed and work so hard to give birth to the national institution in Malaysia.

    Recollecting the year 1982 when I accepted the Faith, this community was only 18 years old. Yet I am truly feeling blessed and grateful for all the guidance and encouragement I received as a new Baha’i then. Really appreciate the friends, especially the Baha’is of Ipoh who helped me to navigate my early days of being Baha’i.

    We are very much into the formative age of the Faith. And we may witness many more victories of the Cause as we move on.

    Nehru Arunasalam

  12. That was the most precise and concise history of the first National Convention of Malaysia and shows how God’s newest Revelation could take toot and be firmly established. Malaysia is indeed fortunate to receive this divine Revelation from several pioneers who came from a multitude of countries.

    A seed was planted and a great oak it has become. Malaysia today has a high Baha’i population. This growth is good as the local people have now learnt more about the Baha’i Faith. Over the years people were attracted to Bahais who are of different colors and creeds and proven to be able to live and work together in perfect unity.

    This recollection puts in record the efforts of pioneers and early believers and how the Faith has grown far and wide in Malaysia. This is history that continues to make new strides for future generations to venerate the efforts undertaken by these stalwarts.

    We must note that this Revelation is not a plaything. It is serious and will change the world in many ways. It is all for the prosperity and progress of humanity to attain a higher civilization.


  13. Thank you Mani for writing about the first National Convention and the election of the first National Spiritual Assembly with its base in Kuala Lumpur. My wife Marjorie and I were in Brunei at the time of the convention and could not participate. But both of us were elected on to that august national body. Your story gives a comprehensive coverage of that historical event for the current and future generations to recollect.

    Your record of the early history of the Faith in Malaysia is very informative and greatly appreciated.
    Best wishes
    Minoo Fozdar

  14. My dear brother Manisekaran,
    What a beautiful article on the first National Convention of Malaysia that paved way for the coming into existence the National Spiritual Assembly! It brought back so many memories to an old man who’s nearly 86 now. You took me down the memory lane. I was there with Chiang Kim Lin to whom I am married and we live in the USA now.

    It is so good for the heart to re-read the miraculous Baha’i story of Malaysia.

    Harlan Lang

  15. Dear Mani,
    What a wonderful and remarkable account on the establishment of the National Institution of the Baha’is of Malaysia in 1964 ! I travelled back in time as I read your lively narration laden with so much energy and spirit.

    It looks like the election of the first National Spiritual Assembly of Baha’is of Malaysia in 1964, a year after the election of the first Universal House of Justice was very much the glorious result of the epic deeds of the heroes and heroines who had toiled tirelessly throughout the Ten Year Crusade.

    You have given us such a detailed narration on the formation of a mighty pillar of the Universal House of Justice in Malaysia. It is most amazing. I am deeply grateful to have read this masterpiece of your work. Indeed, it is a priceless account, a gem of a record which will continue to enlighten generations of Malaysian Baha’is to come. Every anecdote would surely touch the hearts and uplift the spirits of your readers.

    The chain of events that had unfolded seemed to be guided by the invisible hands of none other than Bahaullah Himself. Being a Malaysian Baha’i for over 56 years, I am truly glad that I have finally learned the early history of the development of the national institution as well as the history of glorious Faith of Baha’u’llah in our country.

    Great thanks to you brother.

    Keng Tong Hua

  16. Dear Mr. Manisegaran,

    I feel compelled to write to you after having read ‘Dawn of A New Era’ — an extraordinary piece of history that left a profound impact on me. On Sunday, 26 April 1964, a momentous event took place – the election of the first National Spiritual Assembly of Malaysia. This significant occasion marked Malaysia’s entry into the distinguished ranks of the 86 Bahá’í National Institutions worldwide.

    As I delved into the details of this historical moment, I was utterly captivated by the richness and beauty of the subject matter. The story resonated with me on a profound level, and I couldn’t help but be swept away by the sheer power it holds. The Ten-Year Crusade brought with it a spirit of fervor and determination, urging believers to step boldly into the arena of service. Prominent visitors, including the revered Hands of the Cause of God, graced Malaysia with their presence, inspiring the community to rise and serve with unwavering dedication and sacrifice. Their guidance and encouragement propelled the development of the Faith, igniting a flame of progress and devotion within the hearts of the believers.

    I take immense delight in the accomplishments of the Malaysian Bahá’í community. Not only did they achieve all the goals set forth in the Nine-Year Plan (1964 to 1973), but they also surpassed many of the supplementary objectives entrusted by the Supreme Body. What is even more remarkable is their ability to accomplish these goals well before the end of the plan period, a testament to their unwavering commitment and unity of purpose.

    It fills me with honor and dignity to learn that the Malaysian pioneers were hailed as the best workers and all-around achievers, earning recognition and admiration for their tireless efforts. Dr. Raḥmatu’lláh Muhájir’s fondness for Malaysia, adopting it as his favorite community and seeking spiritual relaxation here, speaks volumes about the spiritual vibrancy and significance of the Malaysian Bahá’í community. It truly is a “Jewel Among Nations.”

    Last but not least, I wish to express my gratitude for sharing this remarkable piece of history; a must-read for every Malaysian Bahá’í out there. The story of Malaysia’s journey towards becoming a Bahá’í National Institution serves as an inspiring reminder of the power of unity, devotion, and unwavering dedication in the pursuit of a noble cause. God bless.

    With loving Bahá’í greetings,
    Vela Gopal
    Phnom Penh

  17. Dear Manisegaran,
    I read your article on the formation of the first National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Malaysia, so aptly entitled ‘Dawn of a New Era’, and was transported back to that period and felt some of the excitement and the sense of history those early Baha’is must have felt.

    I knew some of the individuals you mentioned in your article and now that I am at their age (and more!), I am filled with wonder at the depth of their understanding of the vision of the Faith and the tremendous personal sacrifices they made to establish the Faith in Malaysia. What better gift could they have bequeathed to those that came after them than the establishment of its own National Spiritual Assembly, thus laying a firm foundation for the Faith in Malaysia and raising another pillar of the Universal House of Justice.

    We who have had the opportunity to be nurtured in the loving bosom of the Malaysian Baha’i community truly owe these indomitable early Baha’is a tremendous debt of gratitude for enabling us to stand on the shoulders of giants.

    Once again dear Manisegaran, thank you for recording for future generations of Baha’is this profound event in the history of the Baha’i Faith in Malaysia.

    With much love,

    Soheil Chinniah

  18. Dear Mr. Manisegaran,
    One of the subjects that I wish to learn in the Faith is Baha’i Administration. I did study about the formation of the National Spiritual Assembly of Malaysia in 1964 from your earlier book -JEWEL AMONG NATIONS. But your detailed research from the inception of the Faith Malaysia till the formation of the National Spiritual Assembly has indeed given me immense knowledge and understanding of the Faith in Malaysia.

    I pray that God will give you good health to inspire others with your methodical write-ups.

    God Bless you.

    Best regards,
    Mari Yariah

  19. Mani,

    I was deeply moved by your story entitled, “Dawn of a New Era.” The title is a perfect fit for this masterfully written account of the early days of the Baha’i Faith in Malaysia leading to the formation of the first National Spiritual Assembly for our blessed community. Your narrations are truly captivating, and they will inspire any reader who is interested in the early history. You must have researched thoroughly to have written with so much detail of the history of this country, you also write with hope and optimism, and your recollections leave me feeling inspired and uplifted.

    I was also touched by the comments that the readers made about you. It is clear that they held you in high regard, and their words speak to your character and your dedication to the Faith. One thing I am certain of is, though you are currently living in the United States, you have left our heart here in this land where you grew up in the Faith.

    Thank you for sharing your recollections. They are a valuable contribution to the history of the Baha’i Faith in Malaysia.

    I wish you all the best in your future endeavors.

    S. Arulnathan
    Kuala Lumpur

  20. Dear Mr. Mani,
    I just read your story entitled “Dawn of a New Era”. I was so emotional and moved to tears. The early believers had truly sacrificed so much and obeyed the Teachings of Baha’u’llah and the goals of the Supreme Body, the Regional Spiritual Assembly of South East Asia and the Hands of the Cause of God to get the National Spiritual Assembly of Malaysia elected on time. Since the election of the first National Spiritual Assembly was elected our Faith in Malaysia has really come a long way. The concluding photograph on the new Bahai centre in Kuala Lumpur is very appropriate to depict the long journey. To those who want to learn of the circumstances leading to the first national convention and the election of the first national institution for Malaysia, your story comes as the perfect reference.

    May the Concourse on High give you more inspiration each time you write such moving stories.

    I just can’t thank you enough.

    M. Kalai Selvi
    Tanah Merah

  21. I had just been a Baha’i for 3 years when the inaugural convention took place. Of course, we were electrified when we heard Amatu’l-Baha would be representing the Supreme Institution. And felt so blessed. But we had no time really “to stand and stare”. We were all too busy with the whole aspect of organising the Convention particularly when such a person as the Hand, the Guardian’s wife, the representative of the Supreme Institution was going to be present. We did everything we could to make it memorable, without any hitches. And it worked like a miracle.
    Everyone was ecstatic. I can’t ever remember a happier Convention. Remember, we had never had a previous Convention, yet every little thing fell into place. The Convention was an immensely joyous event. I can’t ever remember a more historical and happier Convention than that first one!

    Isaac DCruz
    United Kingdom

  22. Dear Mani,

    You related an amazing account of the anecdotes and tales of the many key heroes from the earliest days in Malaya of this wonderful Faith that we share together. There was a tremendous amount of literally tears, toils and hardships for those who struggled with limited means and with little time available to lay a trailblazer’s path that the present generation enjoys. Young, old, rich, poor, they all carried their respective loads on their ever ready backs, hoping that their endeavours would leading to a brighter and more noble future for humanity.

    You recounted the names of the people who came to our shores to inspire and infuse a new spirit and strength the determination of those who were in the field. These names resound in glorious melodies in the Eternal Realms. The Hands of the Cause of God were truly and really Chief Stewards and they play an important part in deepening and marshalling the communities to work together.

    There is then the only Dr Rahmatu’llah Muhajir whose very name symbolises lion’s courage, determined enterprises, panoramic vision with hours and hours of prayers and meditations.

    The formation of the first National Spiritual Assembly is very special especially with the presence of Amatu’llah Ruhiyyih Khanum. Your in-depth reporting of the events is enlightening. For the early Baha’is who had the great privilege of attending this historical convention, it would be a wonderful journey down memory lane as it is for me.

    My fondest reminisce which I will never forget is how Amatul Baha Ruhiyyih Khanum insisted on serving the friends their lunch when she first came to Malaya in 1961. The gathering was held at the Sunshine Camp. She was so full of love for everyone present.

    I hope that you will continue with your tireless and meticulous research and write more such inspiring articles and books. These are the true treasures in the Divine Kingdom. Please remember me in your prayers

    With deepest Baha’i love
    Theresa Chee,

  23. Dear Mr. Mani
    It is really inspiring and informative to read the story that you wrote- Dawning of a New Era. The year 1964 is indeed, as you rightly pointed out the dawn of a new era with the coming into existence the first National Spiritual Assembly of Malaysia, after which the community saw a meteoric rise in many ways. The greatest high light was the coming of Amatul Baha Ruhiyyih Khanum to grace this most auspicious and historical first convention.

    We are very much indebted to Dr. M.K Fozdar and his wife Shirin Fozdar for sowing the seeds in this region. The instrumentality of some Hands of the Cause of God especially Dr. Muhajir in shaping this community towards the right directions has to be registered in our hearts. His role is inerasable and deep rooted in the hearts and minds of all Malaysian believers. We are not to forget those early stalwarts whom you had mentioned and whose untiring services and devotion are immortal. Today a very vibrant community exists. Today we are proud that one from the indigenous group is serving on the national institution, while one serves as a Counsellor.

    I hope our younger generation will get inspired and enthused reading this valuable story which is well presented.

    Thank you so much for presenting a soul-stirring and wonderful masterpiece.

    Pitamboro Naiko
    Puncak Alam

  24. Dear Manisegaran:
    Regarding the first national convention, regretfully I was not there as was based in Singapore then. But you have given a good, comprehensive historical account of the first convention and the growth of the Baha’i Faith in Malaysia. It is now on record for posterity.

    May Baha’u’llah bless you and your family.

    Best wishes,
    Rose Ong

  25. Dear Mani,

    I was overwhelmed after reading your thorough and complete narration of the first national convention and the election of the first National Spiritual Assembly of Malaysia. I vaguely remember being there, but you have provoked my past memories, and everything comes to light. That was the first convention and is well remembered. Each time I go for conventions, my thoughts always drift back to the very first convention of 1964.

    Many had contributed to the development of the Faith in the early days- both within and without Malaysia. The visits of many of the believers from overseas greatly helped to keep the activities going. Hand of the Cause of God Dr Muhajir needs special mention as it was he who adopted this community as his own child and nurtured us. Having gauged the capacity of the community Dr Muhajir kept pushing us for more and more progress of the Faith. Dr Robert J. Wolff from Hawaii also greatly helped in Asli teaching in Bidor area in South Perak. Persuaded by Dr Muhajir, some members of the National Spiritual Assembly, took on pioneering goals efforts with much sacrifice, which became are exemplary. The Faith was also developing well in Sarawak, Sabah and Brunei with teaching efforts from Malayan friends.

    Mani your writing of the history is very praiseworthy. I sincerely pray to God to give you more strength to keep your service going for recording the early history to be remembered for the posterity.
    Thank you.

    Krishnan Kandasamy

  26. Dear Mani,

    As with many of your historical accounts that you had written in your blog over the years, the ‘Dawn of New Era’ was inspiring indeed and reminiscent of the yet another account of the early days of the Faith to where we are today with the development of the Faith over many decades which culminated with the long waited and majestic Harizathul’-Quds in Malaysia recently.

    I read with much delight how you meticulously traced the formative days of the Faith in this beautiful country of ours, especially with the first National Convention of Malaysia held in 1964. As always this was yet another beautifully researched piece of work. There are so many minute details in the recollection leading to the First Convention that amazed me. The presence of Amatul Baha Ruhiyyih Khanum at that memorable occasion must have brought such delight to the hearts of the friends attending the Convention. What bountiful blessings indeed then when the Faith was just about a decade old with a band of faithful servants of the Cause striving with little resources but immense love and fortitude.

    The beautiful Haziratu’l – Quds, that “Sacred Fold” which stands as a pride of the Malaysian Bahai Community was a significant milestone in the growth of the Faith and one that must surely bear testimony to the struggle and sacrifices of those early stalwarts of the Faith. We surely must acknowledge their contribution with gratitude for laying the foundation of the Faith in this country almost 60 years ago!

    Loving Baha’i greetings,

    Sandran Govindasamy
    Subang Jaya

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