(This account was compiled by an Iranian Baha'i, authenticated by members of Mona's family, and then translated from Persian.)
Not a soul could be found that didn't know Mr. Mahmudnizhad. Everyone knew him, and anyone who had met him could not forget him. Just by visiting with him, you could understand the real meaning of kindness and love. Always, his name and the word "love" would come together. Yadu'llah Mahmudnizhad was the symbol of love, kindness, purity, pleasure and serenity. Everybody loved him and because of our separation from him, the tears come.
Mr. Mahmudnizhad was born in June 1932 (1311) into a Shi'ih Muslim family. He lost his mother at age 7 and his father at 11. He lived with his uncle, who was a political man and who held a good position in Nasir-i-din Shah's court. In 1949, he finished high school, and very soon afterwards he asked to declare as a Baha'i.
In the 10-year crusade, Baha'is were encouraged to go pioneering. Mr. Mahmudnizhad decided to go. He went first to Dubai, then to Saudi Arabia, and finally to Qatar, where he was married to Ms. Farkhundih Anvari in Oct, 1958. In 1959, their first child, Taraneh, was born. Then they moved to North Yemen. There, because they were Baha'is, all of their belongings were confiscated. Then they moved to South Yemen, which at that time was an English colony. Their second child was a boy, who passed away because of the negligence of the doctor. After a year and a half, a third child, Mona, was born. Mona was born in wartime, on the 10th of September 1965.
Mrs. Mahmudnizhad said, "Jamshid's [Yadu'llah's] dream came true. He always said, `we need two daughters. I don't want to have a son.' " She said, "There was a deal that he would choose the first name, which was Taraneh, and I would choose the second, and I chose Mona. Jamshid always said, `Mona is our hope and desire.' " Then they moved to Daru'l-sa'id.
"Mona was 6 months old. We put some poison around the house. Every morning when Mona woke up, quickly she would go to the wall and eat the poison. Once I noticed that her eyes were very white, and she was almost dead. We took her to the hospital, and she took 6 months to recover. Mona has been saved 3 times in her life!!"
Mrs. Mahmudnizhad said, "Because I got sick and Jamshid got an ulcer, we decided to go back to Iran. We went to Abadan when Mona was 4 years old, but we always wanted to live in Shiraz. We made a heaven of Shiraz, a heaven in our dreams. Mona was born in wartime and also sacrificed her sweet life in wartime, for peace and unity, for humanity."
Taraneh said, "I was her sister, but never understood how close she was to God. She is a mystery, at least for me. Mona was quiet and kept everything inside. She would never talk about her inside, her emotions, and whatever happened, she would always think a lot.
"Mona always said, regarding those friends of hers that didn't have a mother or father, `I hope that God gives me the strength to understand my friends.' She loved humanity. She was very emotional, and very dignified. She walked straight, was very clean and organized. She was very kind to the neighbors. When I declared, my father gave me a red flower that he had painted. With his permission, Mona sent it to Hand of the Cause, Mr. Faizi."
"My father knew Mona well. They were very close. Mona, during her study, was a very smart student. She was a top student, and she studied a lot. My parents were tired of the way she studied. They talked to the principal about it. The principal told Mona, `We need professors, but not crazy professors.'
"Mona, after reading a book about Anis' love, drew a girl that had been hanged. The girl was not by herself, there were a few other women. She put the date and time under the drawing.
"Sometimes, Mona showed her feelings through prayer. For example, she drew a picture with someone crying and his or her head is bowed down beneath his feet, is full of tears like a sea, but so shameful that he cannot be in the Presence of God. Like in the long obligatory prayer, it says, `Thou dost perceive my tears...'
"Mona spent a lot of time saying prayers and meditating, mostly at midnight. She was so sad at the news when loved ones had been executed."
Taraneh said, "Mona and I were so sure about Dad's execution - we even argued about his books. She was very gentle, but at the same time was very clear and explicit.
"Mona always talked to most of her teachers about the Faith, saying `why don't you understand? You should understand.' Once she even wrote an essay that asked, `why don't you remove the veil from your eyes, so that you can see the truth?' The class was disturbed. The teacher took her to the principal's office. Mona just talked to the principal, and answered all his questions. When the principal saw the situation, he contacted her parents. They came and talked to him, and this closed the subject in a wise way.
"Mona said, `In the dream, I was telling Dad: You are lucky. You are lucky that you are in His Presence. All the holy souls attain His Presence , and you are one of them, in the presence of the Manifestation of God. In the dream, I had a very strong feeling. I was beaming with pride, and I was telling those fanatical people that I am so proud of this father that was born in a Shi'ih family. He investigated the truth, he knew Baha'u'llah, and he sacrificed his life for Him. Then I said: My father passed the Seven Valleys, and recognized every single one of those valleys, and then I explained the Seven Valleys for them, and at each Valley, I remembered my father."
Mona and Mr. Mahmudnizhad both had wonderful dreams about holy places, one of which is the dream of the red robe. Once Mona was sitting in front of `Abdu'l-Baha's picture, saying prayers and while she was saying prayers, she fell asleep. She saw in her dream a beautiful, white room in front of which were 2 doors. Between the doors was a table. The door was opened and Baha'u'llah came in. Mona was so excited, she couldn't speak. Baha'u'llah passed by the table, chair and Mona and opened the other door. The inside was full of beautiful boxes. Baha'u'llah came out with a box. There was a red robe inside it, which He showed to Mona and said, `Do you want it? It is execution (martyrdom).' Mona wanted to know what was in the other boxes, so she said nothing. Baha'u'llah brought another box. There was a black robe inside it, and again He said, `Do you want this? It is suffering.' Mona was quiet again. At the same time, Baha'u'llah didn't give time for Mona to say anything. Suddenly, Baha'u'llah opened the third box, and there was a blue robe inside. He took the robe and put it on Mona's shoulders and said, `This is service.' Mona was so excited she woke up. But then she eventually went back to sleep again, and dreamed the rest of it.
Baha'u'llah called for Aqa Mihdi, His photographer, to take a picture of Himself with Mona wearing the blue robe. Aqa Mihdi came. The camera was the old fashioned kind where the photographer stayed behind the curtain and took the photo. When the picture was finished, Aqa Mihdi came to Mona and said, "When you go, say hi to my wife and kids." Mona was wondering who was his wife and family, and he said, "Tell them Anvari sends his regards, and say hi." When Mona woke up, she asked her father what was the first name of the Mr. Anvari who was martyred? Her Dad answered, "Mihdi." Then Mona's tears came down and she told her parents about the dream.
By age 12, Mona knew her Dad would be executed, but she eventually realized her own danger. The last summer before she was arrested, they took a trip to Isfahan. At the house of one of her friends, Mona drew a picture that symbolized the four members of her family. The first step symbolized her father, and showed him hanged. The second was her mother: it showed that she had lost all her belongings. The third was herself, and she was hanged as well. The last was empty. Why? Because it was her sister, who was married and who didn't live with them. On the first step she wrote:
The first step of love is to give up your head,
sacrifice your life, and accept and live with suffering.
On the second step:
Our job is to give our life, to associate with the lovers,
to be a companion to friend and stranger, and to be in love with God.
She gave the drawing to her friend, in an envelope on which Mona wrote, "accept this from the bottom of my heart, because all the love that you've created in me is in the ink and inside the envelope."
MONA AND HER FATHER'S ARREST AS TOLD BY MRS. MAHMUDNIZHAD
"They knocked at the door, and I asked who it was. I didn't wait for the answer and I opened the door. It was about 9pm. There were a few guards. Quickly, they separated me and Jamshid, and said don't move from here. Mona was sitting on the couch, very cool and studying English. She was in her final year of high school, and had an English test. Any time, she had a question, she would get permission and ask. The guards got tired and said, `you can't ask any more questions.'
"Mona said, `I have a test tomorrow. You guys leave, and I am the one that has the test.'
"They said, `No. No more questions.'
"A few of the guards were searching in the bedrooms. I was sure they would take Jamshid, but I couldn't imagine that they would take Mona as well. Jamshid very quietly was saying `Is there any remover of difficulties?" Then the guards came, and one of them said, `Yadu'llah and Mona, get ready and come with us.'
"I got very upset and said `Yadu'llah, okay, but why Mona? She is a child.'
"One of the guards said, `Do you call her a child? See what we found in her bedroom!' (It was an essay about why she was a Baha'i. There was a competition and she had won.) Then he said, `You know, with her writing, she would set the world on fire.'
"Then I begged them, "Swear to God, you won't take her.'
"Mona was getting ready, and got very upset and said, `Mama, why do you beg these people? What did I do wrong? Was I a bad girl? Did they find something illegal in the house? Isn't it because I believe in Baha'u'llah that they are taking me? Mother, this is not a prison, it's a balcony. It's not a hole in the ground, it's a pinnacle.`
"Then Jamshid told me, `Farkhundih, even if the whole army was here, if it wasn't time, it wouldn't happen. At this date, at this time, this minute, God wanted us to leave the house,' and then at that moment, they left, and left me by myself."
Mona said that she was the first Baha'i woman that went to jail, and was thinking that she was by herself. They gave her a pillow and a blanket and she slept. A few minutes after, Mrs. Avaregan came in, but Mona didn't know her. Then Mrs. Za'irpur arrived. When she saw Mona, Mrs. Za'irpur said, "Mona, what are you doing here? Us, I understand, but you?"
Mona laughed. Then Mrs. Muqimi and others came in.
The first time Mrs. Mahmudnizhad could visit Mona was 28 days after the arrest. Her feelings and emotions were something that the other prisoners always talked about. One of the prisoners said, she was so in love with her father.
At first, it had been decided that no one would say anything to the guards about Baha'i activities, because it was always only 3 to 5 people getting together and wasn't a formal meeting. Therefore it wasn't necessary to tell them. Time passed and none of them said anything about their activities.
One day Mona went to trial. Her eyes were blindfolded. Then they brought her father in. Mr. Mahmudnizhad asked Mona to tell them whatever she knew. Mona said nothing. The clergy threatened that if she didn't talk, they would lash her, but Mona said, `I am ready.'
Her father said, `Mona, whatever you know, tell them. We don't have any secret meetings, and our meeting has nothing to do with politics.'
Still Mona said nothing.
Mr. Mahmudnizhad wasn't happy with the situation. He asked the clergy to give him one more chance to talk to her. This time he begged her, saying, `Dear Mona, my daughter, whatever you know, tell them.'
Mona said to the clergy, `Then let me see my father.'
They removed her blindfold. Mona ran into his arms and tears came to them both. Then she said, `I was a children's class teacher, liaison to the Feast Committee, and a member of the children's class committee.'
They sent Mona back to her cell. When she came in, Mona told the others what had happened and said, `My father said we have no secrets.' After that, eventually, everyone admitted the activities they were involved in.
The prisoner said, "Whenever we spoke of Mr. Mahmudnizhad, Mona would say, `Fadash besham,' (May my life be sacrificed for him) and there was a shining light in her green eyes."
Everyone knew of Mona's love for her father, and they were worried about the day when they would hear the news of Mr. Mahmudnizhad's execution, because we all knew about her love for him. Then that day came. From that moment, Mona's disposition changed.
Mrs Mahmudnizhad said, "I frequently saw Mona crying and asking to be executed so that she could be in the presence of Baha'u'llah and her father. She was crying and asking that her blue robe be changed to the red robe."
Mrs. Mahmudnizhad said, "It was natural that when I went to the prison, I was more happy to see Mona than the others, and wanted to spend more time with her. But the first night, she told me, `Look, mother, none of these people have their mother here and it is not nice for you to be around me a lot. Pay attention to them more and I'll try to call you "Mother," less.' I accepted.
"From the next day, she didn't come around me. I was sharing my room with Mona and Tahirih (Arjmandi) Siyavashi, but most of the time, Mona was spending her time with the other prisoners. The guards were so afraid of the way that Mona talked. It happened several times that they told the other prisoners, Baha'i and non-Baha'i, `we know Mona taught you to say that.' Eevn though she was the youngest, they were still afraid of her."
Mrs. Mahmudnizhad said, "Near the end of my days in prison, Mona fasted for 30 hours, and told me that I couldn't tell anyone. I said OK, but why? She said she wouldn't tell. She didn't eat for 30 hours. Then she came at lunch time and said "I am satisfied," and started to eat. No one found out about that. I was very curious to ask her why she did that. When we were alone, I asked her and she answered, `Mom, I won't tell you what I asked from Baha'u'llah. Just know that Baha'u'llah was here in the prison.' I didn't understand what she was saying.
"It was the anniversary of the Martyrdom of the Bab, and we all said prayers. After the prayers, she came and said, `Mom, I want to do a play for you.
"I said, OK.
"Mona said, `This play is about how we are going to be hanged.'
"I said, `What are you talking about?!'
"Mona said, `Be calm and watch.'
"Then she said, `First I'll go onto the platform. Then I'll say this prayer: `O God, may my life be a sacrifice for your loved ones.' Then I put the noose on my neck, and I promise I'll be dancing and happy.'
"'What a wonderful moment! From there, I 'll clearly see the King of Glory.'"
"One of those last nights, Mona had a dream about Baha'u'llah. He asked her, `What do you want?'
"Mona said, `Perseverance. Perseverance for all the Baha'is.
"Baha'u'llah repeated the question three times, and all three times Mona said, `Perseverance for all the Baha'is.'
"Baha'u'llah said, `It is accepted.' And we saw how Baha'u'llah accepted all their suffering."
"One of the sweet memories of prison: Baha'i prisoners weren't allowed to have any kind of fruit. It was sour plum season and one of the non-Baha'i prisoners gave one to Mrs. Nusrat Yalda'i. She couldn't eat it, and decided to give it to the youngest, which was Mona. Mona came back after a while with a small plate in her hand, and on the plate was 16 pieces of that small sour plum, and every one got a piece. She couldn't eat it without sharing with others."
One of the prisoners said, "On the 26th of Khordad (16 June - the day that 6 Baha'i men were executed), it was Mrs. Ishraqi's daughter, Rozita's engagement party. We decided to celebrate it among ourselves. We all had a good time, and didn't know anything about the men's execution. Whatever happened we would hear about it on Saturdays. Suddenly, Mona left the room. After a while, one of the prisoners accidentally passed her room and noticed Mona saying prayers and crying aloud.
Mr. Mahmudnizhad, like other prisoners, asked to visit with his wife and Mona, and the clergy accepted.
Mrs. Mahmudnizhad said, "On that visit, Mr. Mahmudnizhad didn't talk to Mona at all, but Mona was constantly kissing his eyes. Mona knew this was a temporary goodbye, and very soon she would be in the Abha Kingdom with him."
Mr. Mahmudnizhad told his wife: " `The son that is worthy of the father will gain his inheritance.' So we are the heirs both of Baha'u'llah's imprisonment and suffering, and of the Bab's martyrdom, even though you can't compare."
He said, "Don't worry about it at all. Do you remember whenever we decided to move? I would always go first and get everything ready, and then you came like a queen. This is the same thing. I go first, get everything ready and wait for you to come."
Then he asked Mona, "Are you heavenly or earthly?"
Mona said, "Heavenly."
This was the only conversation between them on that occasion.
THE LAST VISIT OF TARANEH AND HER MOTHER WITH MONA
Taraneh said, "For about 3 months, I used to go once a week to visit Mona and mother. Then my mother was finally released after 5 months on 23 of Khordad (13th of June). She told us how strong the prisoners were and shared what was happening in prison. It made us calm the way she was talking about the prisoners. My mother said that every individual was ready for martyrdom, and that they accepted whatever God willed.
"On Thursday, the 26th of Khordad (16 June), the six heroic men were executed. The next day, the Baha'i community was filled with activity. On Saturday, it was the prisoners' visit time. We did not know what to do, whether to tell them or not. All the families were consulting.
"My mother said, `Please tell them. I know what is going on in there.' She kept asking people to tell their loved ones. She said, `If you don't tell them, the guards will in a very bad way. It is better if you tell them. It was a difficult moment. How can you tell a mother in prison that her son has been executed, or tell a wife about her husband, or a daughter about her father?
"Finally we decided that I would tell my sister. Akhtar's family would tell her. Mrs. Haghighatjo would tell her daughter, and Rozita would tell her mother and sister. It was time to visit. We went into the booth and the phones were connnected.
"First, my mother talked. I was in a hurry. I was scared that the phone might be disconnected, so I quickly grabbed the phone form my mother and started talking to Mona. She always said "hello" full of feeling and happiness. She always told me - or whomever she liked - she would say, `I wish I could squeeze you!' And with a full and loud laugh, she would say `welcome.' Many times, she said, `I wish I could give a big kiss to the people that I like.' She loved people, and sacrificed her life for human happiness.
"She said, "Are you very happy that Mom is with you?"
"Very quickly, I answered, then I told her, "Dear Mona, I have news for you.
"She said, "What news?"
"I told her six men had been executed. I wish I could describe Mona's look. It's a pity that pen can't do it justice. Pity. Pity. Her green eyes were full of tears. She put her hand on her heart and a soft voice asked who.
"I quickly without noticing her tears started to say their names. Next to Mona, Tahirih (Arjamandi) Siyavashi was talking to her father. I pointed to her and I said, `her husband, Jamshid.'
"She pressed her hand harder to her heart and with a soft voice said, `Lucky them. Lucky them. They are the guests of Baha'u'llah. Lucky them. Lucky them. They are the guests of the Ancient Beauty.'
"Her voice got louder and she said, `Taraneh, I swear to Baha'u'llah that these are not tears of sadness. These are tears of happiness. Don't think I am crying because I am sad. It is because I am happy.'
"When Mona was speaking like that on the phone, I knew she was going, and that her leaving was very close, and that she couldn't live here any more. So I told her, `Mona dear, you are going too?'
"She said, `I know. I know.' Then she said, `Taraneh, I want to ask you a favor. I want you to pray for me that I will be dancing when I go to the execution.'
"I said, `Whatever He wants, we are happy with His decision.'
"Then Mona said, `I need another favor. I want you to pray and ask the Ancient Beauty to forgive all of my sins before my execution. Then they can take me.'
"O my God, what a hard favor for me, full of sin, to pray for that angel! And with a look, I asked her what sins do you have that I should ask Baha'u'llah to forgive you?
"She read my look and laughed.
"Dear friend, I swear to God that this is not made-up. This is not my imagining. Mona was crying, laughing and talking to me like that, without anyone telling her that she was going to be executed."
Taraneh said, "During visiting time, we couldn't say, `Allah-u-abha,' because they would get lashes for that, or they'd be put in solitary confinement, or we wouldn't be able to visit them. Now Mona, what she was talking about? She knew well that she was going. With all my strength and power, I tried not to cry so that I could see her beautiful face. I wanted to talk less so that she could talk and I could hear her voice. I told her to talk to mother, and quickly gave mother the phone.
"Tahirih Arjmandi's father was so kind to me. He let me talk to his daughter. Tahirih said, `Tell your mother not to worry about Mona. She is who she was, and we are looking after her.' I said thank you and we said goodbye.
"Mona told Mother that tomorrow, we are Baha'u'llah's guests. O God, such a great soul that she knew about the future. I say my mother looking at Mona in astonishment. Time was short, and we couldn't afford to waste it. Quickly, I took the phone from mother and told her you were with Mona for five months, now it's my turn. I repeated what I said to Mona. Suddenly, Mona laughed and with happiness said, `Do you know why I am so happy?'
"I said, `No, tell me.
"She said, `I am happy that we are the chosen ones.'
"And what could I say with my silence, so I just said, `We are happy with what He wants.'
"Then Mona said, `Taraneh dear, send my love to all the relatives and friends, and kiss them. Everybody's face is in front of my face, but I can't mention their names.' Then she point to Nura, my daughter, and said, `I want you to raise here like our father.'
"I told myself, `I want to raise Nura like you,' but I wanted her to talk more, so I said nothing. At that point, the phones were disconnected and for the last time, I kissed my fingers and put them on the glass. Then Mona and the rest of the women left.
"I don't know how to compare the memory of this day with the day that I heard about Dad's martyrdom. First, I knew Mona, that she wouldn't give up. Second, I never asked Baha'u'llah for her release, because I just wanted what He wants, but many times I told myself if they kill Mona, how can I look at her body? I thought I would go crazy. I even couldn't imagine it for a moment, and would quickly try to forget the thought.
"I was waiting for a day that I could hear her footsteps again, and I could hug her and smell her and kiss her again, and from the bottom of my heart, serve her, to show her a bit of the love that I have for her. Then we could share the loss of Dad. I could share with her all the suffering we went through, and she can tell me what happened while she was in prison, and we both can serve our Mother... But when Baha'u'llah's plan is something else, you have nothing except silence and acceptance.
"When we heard the news of the execution, all these thoughts came to my mind. I couldn't believe it. I wished someone had come in and said that this wasn't true, but with all difficulty, I saw her body and those of the other loved ones, along with my mother. Yes, it was a very hard day. For the last time, without any glass between us, I kissed her beautiful and gentle face and I said goodbye. From the bottom of my heart, I hoped that her eyes would open one more time, that one more time she would smile. But now I know that always, with her everlasting smile, she is watching us, and that if I cry, I would upset her. Then, dear Mona, because of the love that you had and have for Baha'u'llah and humanity, I laugh. I hope that all people realize why you sacrificed your life. Not only you, but all the loved ones that have sacrificed their precious lives."