One day, Haji Mahmud Qassabchi’s, whose roots were from Baghdad, received an unexpected letter from a person unknown to him. This unexpected and very strange letter influenced him greatly and left an impression that was to catalyse his embracement of the Faith. This letter was from a young business man who had had dealings with Qassabchi’s brother. Qassabchi’s brother had given a loan to this young man to start his business. This young man who was of Jewish decent, had recently become a Bahá’í and was new to the trading business. He considered Qassabchi’s brother a partner and started buying and selling tea. After several years, he made a considerable profit. He sought out his partner to share the profit but he had passed away. Therefore, he wrote to Qassabchi, his partner’s brother. The letter explained the situation and conveyed the wish to send his partner’s share to Qassabchi [2].

The letter greatly surprising Qassabchi. He had no knowledge of his brother’s dealings with this young man. Had it not been for the letter, no one would have had knowledge of this partnership. The young man could have easily kept the money for himself. Qassabchi was also confounded. He wondered who this young man could be and how it was possible for someone to have such faith and trustworthiness that they would willingly part with such sums of money. The proceedings this young man wanted to share was in the amount of several thousand British pounds. Although we don’t know the exact sum and the date of this event, it was “several thousand” and most likely just before 1910. That would mean the sum equalled at least 200 000 GBP in today’s value.


Haji Mahmud Qassabchi

Greatly impressed by this act, Qassabchi asked around to see if anyone knew who this young man was. He showed the signature to his friends and asked if they recognised it. One person recognised the signature and told Qassabchi to leave it as this person is a Bahai and therefore, not worth dealing with. This event greatly helped Qassabchi in recognising the Faith. He felt that any Faith that can cause such an uprightness of conduct and honesty must be of God. The young business man was Musa Banani who later became a Hand of the Cause [2].

Qassabchi embraced the Faith in 1911. He had been reading “The Star of the West” and  the reports of the Master’s travel in Europe, His talks, photographs, and the many accounts of the deep and widespread influence He had [1]. He was deeply impressed and affected by these accounts. Later, Qassabchi requested a copy of the Kitab-i-Aqdas. Reading the Most Holy Book reinforced his Faith and not long after, he received a Tablet from the Master in which he was blessed for “having attained the summit of being and believed in the revealed signs of the secret of existence” [1].

Qassabchi “volunteered his services to undertake the reconstruction of the Sacred House of His Holiness Baha’u’llah, as desired by ‘Abdu’l-Baha” [3]. This brought much joy to the heart of the Master. Although Qassabchi offered to completely fund the restoration, he contributed with about half of the sum while the Master and a number of other believers covered the rest [3]. Every day Qassabchi worked on the reconstruction with great zeal, joy, and happiness. He also wanted all the worker to feel joy and happiness so he often sacrificed a lamb to provide ample and delicious food (probably kebab) [2].

Qassabchi lived in a very little house that was adjacent to the House of Bahaullah. His room was small and very simple. When Hand of the Cause Faizi (with some friends) visited Qassabchi, they were quickly asked to sit in a way so that their backs were not against the House of Bahá’u’lláh. They proceeded with prayers, and had coffee and tea. Faizi recounts that Qassabchi sensed that his guests were wondered why Qassabchi would choose to live in such a little and simple house. Qassabchi confirmed that he is wealthy and have been blessed with ample means. However, the light of his eyes is the very room they were in. He continued to explain hat this very same rooms is special to him as it was adjacent to the Most Great House). He said; “I am the dog of this threshold, the lowliest watchman of this House.  When the Master of the house leaves, the dog remains in his position”. Faizi and his friends were so moved by Qassabchi’s explanation and sincerity that they were moved to tears [2].

Hand of the Cause Faizi said to Qassabchi that the honour and bounty of restoring the Most Great House is not given to anyone, and perhaps one must merit such a honour. Then Faizi asked if Qassabchi had received any indication that this bounty was his? With a smile, Qassabchi responded, “yes, one night I had a dream that a large group of people had gathered on the roof of the Most Great House. I lifted my gaze and saw a silk handkerchief hanging from the sky. All the people on the roof were trying to grab the handkerchief. I desired to have that handkerchief so I raised my hand. Without any effort, the handkerchief came into my hands and I took it and put it in my pocket. Not long after, this honour befell me” [2].

“In 1925 when the case of the House of Bahá’u’lláh was being considered and decided upon by the law courts of Baghdad, and the Shi’ih populace were causing a great agitation about the disputed case, thus rendering the situation of the believers in Baghdad very critical, Haji Mahmud Qassabchi  not only stood firm and faithful to the Cause of Baha’u’llah but encouraged  other friends to do likewise. Meantime, he expended freely to defray the fees of the lawyers who were engaged to defend the Baha’i case” [1].

“A few years later, he was privileged to play the leading part in the purchase and establishment of the first Haziratu’1-Quds of Baghdad, and when the friends undertook to construct the present National Haziratu’1-Quds his contributions were very generous. Qassabchi was also among the first believers who participated in no small measure in the erection of the Haziratu’1-Quds of the village of Avashiq, the first of its kind to be built in ‘Iraq [1] (note that this was written in 1947 and as such, the situation is not the same today in regards to Haziratu’1-Quds).

Qassabchi’s most distinguished service was perhaps the construction of the three additional rooms of the Shrine of the Báb. The Shrine of the Báb had six rooms (constructed under the supervision of the Master) but was extended with additional three rooms during the Ministry of the Guardian. Qassabchi was the builder chosen to lead this work. The construction of these additional rooms began on the 14ht of February in 1929 [4]. In his honour, one of the 8 gates of the Shrine is named after him (Báb-i-Qassabchi).

Shrine of the Bab - Doors-1

The name of the gates of the Shrine of the Báb, one of which is named in honour of Haji Mahmud Qassabchi.

Faizi writes that he seldom has crossed paths with such a respectable man as Qassabchi. He further explains that joy and faith gleamed from Qassabchi’s eyes, his body was strong and gave the impression of a young man but his beard bore the signs of a long life, and that he was a man of few words.


Haji Mahmud Qassabchi in his later days.

“In 1933 Qassabchi suffered a severe attack of paralysis which he narrowly survived and as a result of which he could hardly move or speak for the rest of his life. On September 11, 1947 Qassabchi, who had already grown frail and weak, fell ill, and two days later winged his flight to the Abha Kingdom. On the morning of September 13, 1947 this faithful, steadfast and devoted Baha’i who loved and served the Faith of Baha’u’llah until his last breath, passed away. He was buried at Salman Pak, about thirty miles southeast of Baghdad” [1].



[1] The Bahai World Vol. 11 p 502-503

[2] Faizi, Datan Dostan, page 20

[3] The Bahai World Vol 2 page 68

[4] Ruhe, Door of Hope, page p 154