Montreal, November 4, 2020 - In honour of three servants of humanity, friends from the Bahá’í communities of Montreal, Laval and Ottawa gathered for a teleconference commemoration meeting. Tribute, prayers and songs accompanied the souls of these three friends who left us in a short interval.

Douglas Martin (1927 – 2020)

On September 28, 2020, Douglas Martin passed away at the Hazelton Place Retirement Residence at the age of 93. He was a member of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Canada and its general secretary from 1965 to 1985. From 1993 to 2005, he was an elected member of the international governing council of Bahá’í community, the Universal House of Justice.

Born in Chatham, Ontario on February 24, 1927, Mr. Martin was raised in a Presbyterian family. He began his life along a conventional path: studies in business administration and a successful career in public relations.

A few months after enrolling in the Bahá’í community, he met his future wife, Elizabeth. They married in 1956 and moved to a series of localities in southern Ontario as part of the growing expansion of Bahá’í communities throughout Canada.

Mr. Martin’s intellectual interests turned to history during those years. It was  an interest that, in subsequent years because of his ability to discern the forces of world history affecting the course of development of the Bahá’í community, was of immense value in his enormous contribution, both in writing and speaking, to the intellectual and cultural life of the rapidly evolving Bahá’í Cause. 

Mr. Martin championed the role of Indigenous members of the Bahá’í community and was keen to do all he could to learn French and support the emergence of a vibrant community of young Quebecois Bahá’ís. Following the Iranian revolution in 1979, he was at the forefront of an effort to resettle thousands of Bahá’ís fleeing religious persecution.

During those years Mr. Martin was a founding member of the Association for Bahá’í Studies, serving on its international executive committee from 1974-85. He co-authored, with Dr. William S. Hatcher, "The Bahá’í Faith: The Emerging Global Religion".

In 1985, he was invited by the Universal House of Justice to serve as the Director-General of the Bahá’í International Community's Office of Public Information at the Bahá’í World Centre in Haifa, Israel. In 1993 he was elected to the nine-member Universal House of Justice, the supreme authority and governing body for a rapidly expanding Bahá’í world community, serving until his retirement from that body in 2005 when he returned to Canada.

The Universal House of Justice in their tribute to Douglas Martin wrote: 

 “The special gifts he possessed for presenting the Faith with clarity and vision shone through as much in his scholarly writings as in his public presentations, including in vigorous defence of the Bahá’í community in Iran. Much of this work was undertaken while he simultaneously discharged weighty responsibilities in the administration of the Faith. … His scintillating intellect and uncommon grasp of the grand forces of history, combined with his formidable powers of expression, were much in evidence during the years he spent as director-general of the Bahá’í International Community’s Office of Public Information, a prelude to the twelve years he served as a member of the Universal House of Justice. Resolute, ingenious, and blessed with piercing insight, he will be immensely missed.” 

Farzam Arbab, 1941–2020

Dr. Farzam Arbab (October 27, 1941 - September 25, 2020) was a member of the Universal House of Justice, the supreme governing body of the Bahá’í Faith. He was elected in 1993 and served until 2013.

Dr. Arbab was born into a Bahá’í family Tehran, Iran and later moved to America. He completed a BA at Amherst College, Massachusetts in 1964, a doctorate in physics at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1968. He served as president of Fundacion para la Aplicacion de las Ciencias (FUNDAEC), a nongovernmental development agency in Colombia, from 1974 to 1988, and continues to serve on its board of directors. He received an honorary doctorate in science from Amherst College in 1989.

From 1970 until 1980 he served as the Chairman for the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Colombia. In 1980 he was appointed to the Continental Board of Counsellors for the Protection and Propagation of the Faith in the Americas, on which he served for eight years. In 1988, he was named to the Bahá’í International Teaching Centre, which has its seat in Haifa, Israel, and was a member of that body until 1993, when he was first elected to the Universal House of Justice. He passed away on 25 September 2020 in San Diego, United States. He was 78 years old.

The Universal House of Justice in their tribute to Farzam Arbab wrote:  

“He recognized that the verities contained in the Bahá’í writings concerning spiritual and social transformation and the entry into the Faith of the masses of humanity demanded persistent effort to learn how to bring them about; the investment of his whole being in this great enterprise was complete and constant. Throughout his time as a member of the National Spiritual Assembly of Colombia, as a Continental Counsellor, as a member of the International Teaching Centre, and finally as a member of the Universal House of Justice for two decades, his unshakeable belief in the capacity of all of God’s children, especially of young people, was the hallmark of his service to the Cause. Always insightful, always discerning, always attuned to spiritual reality, this man of exceptional vision lived a life shaped by the harmony between scientific truth and true religion.” 

Violette Haake, 1928–2020 

Violette Haake, a former member of the International Teaching Centre, passed away on 24 September 2020 in Melbourne, Australia. She was 92 years old.

Violette was born into a Bahá’í family in Iran, later moving to America and Australia where she served as a pioneer and Auxiliary Board member. She was appointed as a Continental Counselor for Australasia in 1988 and then to the International Teaching Center. She was appointed to the International Teaching Center in 1998.

The Universal House of Justice in their tribute to Violette Haake wrote: 

“Whether when pioneering, or during her time as an Auxiliary Board member, or as a Continental Counsellor in Australasia, and most especially in the ten years she served as a member of the International Teaching Centre, her intrepid spirit and radiant enthusiasm for teaching were ever in evidence as she rallied the friends, particularly the youth; poured out encouragement; and fanned the flame of love for Bahá’u’lláh in the hearts. Violette possessed a character that blended extraordinary resilience, steadfastness, and inner strength with unfailing kindness, a nurturing instinct, and true joy. To the last, hers was a life devoted to the service of the Lord.”


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