Dedicated to the Hands of the Cause of God

Dedicated to the Hands of the Cause of God

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Lady Who Chose Spiritual Sight

Leroy Ioas was a boy of 16 when Abdu'l-Baha came to America in 1912, and he had a number of wonderful experiences with the Master.

His daughter has written a marvelous book about Mr. Ioas, and this is one of the incidents from it:

“In later years when trying to describe Abdu'l-Baha's presence for the believers, Leroy said 'You have seen many pictures of the Master but what they don't show you is the vibrant spirit that was coursing through Him at all times.  All day long, starting at dawn, people would come to Him. They would hover around, ask questions, then a larger group would gather in His sitting room and He would talk to them about the Cause. When they left another group would come. Always they had questions for Abdu'l-Baha, questions of infinite importance to them, and His answers were given rapidly—in one second He would be deciding someone's destiny.  It showed the power of the spirit that moved within Him every moment, every second.'
    “One brief incident that made a lasting impression on Leroy illustrates this power of the Master.  It occurred one evening when Abdu'l-Baha spoke at the Masonic Temple [in Chicago]. More than a thousand people were present. The Ioas and Dealy families were very close, as it was through Paul Dealy that they had become Baha'is.  The Ioases had brought Mrs. Dealy to the meeting, as she to her great distress was going blind.  Following the Master's talk, as hundreds milled around Him, she told her son he should have an interpreter ask `Abdu'l-Baha to speak to her. Leroy, who was sitting next to her, remembers the son saying that would be impossible with all the people present.  But she insisted and he went to pass on her request.  The interpreter indicated she should sit on the aisle where `Abdu'l-Baha would leave.  As the Master went up the aisle He stopped and greeted her lovingly.  She reached for His hand and said, '`Abdu'l-Baha, please put your hand on my forehead, and I know that I will see.' 'Yes, my daughter,' He answered, 'you will see.  But you will have to choose.  You may have your spiritual sight or your physical sight—which do you desire?'  She said with emotion: 'Abdu'l-Baha, that is no choice!  I would be blind a thousand years before I would give up my spiritual sight!' 'Well said, my daughter, well said,' replied the Master as He touched her shoulder and continued on His way out.  Sitting next to her on that bench, Leroy realized with a chill how in that moment she had decided on her destiny.  She was steadfast.”
(“Leroy Ioas, Hand of the Cause of God,” by Anita Ioas Chapman, pp. 25-26 available from George Ronald Books

Abdu'l-Baha during his nine-month journey through America.Behind Abdu'l-Baha, left, Mirza Mahmud Zarqani; right, Dr. Zia Bagdadi. Photograph courtesy Baha'i National Archives, Wilmette.  Please click photo for larger image

After marrying, Leroy and his wife Sylvia moved to California, where they began their lives of joint service to the Faith. In later years, Mr. Ioas served as one of the Hands of the Cause in the Holy Land, and Mrs. Ioas served on both the elected and the appointed International Baha'i Council. 

The Hand of the Cause of God Leroy Ioas, standing.  Sylvia Ioas on the left, Sarah Witt on the right. Photograph courtesy Baha'i National Archives, Wilmette.

This is a photograph of (L-R) George Latimer, John Bosch, and Leroy Ioas:

(Courtesy Baha'i National Archives, Wilmette)

These three men were appointed by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States to look into the establishment of a permanent Baha'i School.  Mr. and Mrs. Bosch donated their farm to the Faith, and it became the Geyserville Baha'i School, now the John and Louise Bosch Baha'i School a hundred miles south, near Santa Cruz, California. It appears that this photograph may have been taken at the Geyserville property.

Please see this posting about Mr. Ioas on another website


  1. Truly, an inspiring story of faith. Stories of 'Abdu'l-Baha' are so moving and among my favorites. What a bounty it must have been to have met so great a historical, spiritual figure as 'Abdu'l-Baha'. I

  2. I got more inspiration reading this story....