Qudsiyyiah Momtazi Wahid was a pioneer for the Baha’i Faith the majority of her life: in the Soviet Union with her parents, in Iraq and Kuwait in early adulthood, and on Indian reservations in Idaho and Arizona.
A message of condolence from the Baha’i World Center says in part, “The Universal House of Justice regretted to learn … of the passing of your mother, Qudsiyyiah Momtazi Wahid, after a long life of dedicated service to the Cause, and extends to you its loving sympathy for the loss you have suffered.”
In its own letter of tribute, the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the United States wrote, “Her stellar services for the Cause of Baha’u’llah, including multiple pioneering posts in the Middle East and in the continent of North America, are remembered by this National Assembly with warm gratitude and deep admiration.”
Born in 1918 in the Mazandaran region of Iran, Qudsiyyiah was a granddaughter of Siyyid Muhammad Rida and a great-granddaughter of Mulla Amina, both followers of the Bab who survived the 1848 siege of Fort Shaykh Tabarsi.
On the instruction of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, her parents, Agha Momtazi Shahmirzadi and Sharaf Momtazi, relocated the family to Baku, Azerbaijan (then part of the Soviet Union), when she was 4. While Baku’s Baha’i community was one of the most developed at the time, it was soon a focus of anti-religious repression by the Soviet government. Her father passed away from illness, and a few years later the family moved to Tehran. Illness also took her mother when Qudsiyyiah was 14.
She attended the Baha’i-operated Tarbiyat School in Tehran until it the government closed it in 1934. By 17 Qudsiyyiah was teaching Baha’i children’s classes. In her early 20s she did administrative work for the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Iran.
In 1941 at age 23, Qudsiyyiah was among the first who responded to an appeal from Shoghi Effendi to relocate as pioneers to raise up Baha’i communities in new territories. Moving first to Baghdad, she then lived in Kuwait for a few months before having to return.
Back in Baghdad, she married Aziz Abdu’l-Wahid, a fellow Baha’i who had also been a pioneer in Kuwait. As they brought up a family (eventually trilingual in Persian, Arabic and English), they pioneered in various localities in Iraq, including Kirkuk and Sulaymaniyah in the north and other localities in the south. They returned to Kuwait in 1970 for work. Everywhere they lived, Qudsiyyiah taught children’s moral classes.
In 1974, Aziz and Qudsiyyiah moved to the United States. Within a few years they were settled with a son’s family in Idaho to support the Local Spiritual Assembly of the Fort Hall Indian Reservation, which had been established three years earlier. Working at a food processing plant, she stayed there until 1988, three years after Aziz passed away, then moved to the Phoenix area.
At age 82, wishing again to be active in a Baha’i community serving Native Americans, Qudsiyyiah moved in with her son’s family at Window Rock, Arizona, in the Navajo Nation, then a year later with another son in Toppenish, Washington, at the boundary of the Yakama Reservation.
Over the years she traveled to attend both Baha’i World Congresses — 1963 in London and 1992 in New York, to Africa where a son’s family lived at the time, and back to visit Baku after the breakup of the Soviet Union.
“She was ever ready to serve the beloved Faith, whether by contribution or teaching the Faith,” said her daughter, Thurraya Wahid Stone. “Even up to her last days she was striving to memorize tablets and prayers of Baha’u’llah.”
Qudsiyyiah Wahid’s survivors include her daughter, Thurraya of Washington state; two sons, Samir Wahid of Arizona and Faried Abdul-Wahid of Washington; and six grandchildren.