I went on pilgrimage in February 2001. I took notes while I was there. Later when I saw my chinchilla chewing on the paper, I took it as a sign that I needed to type up the notes. These are typed exactly as I wrote them.
Friday night, 23 FEB 2001
Mr. Furutan's talk
He told stories of Shoghi Effendi. My favorite was of him just describing the "Beloved Guardian", his manner, how he was. He said EVERYTHING about Shoghi Effendi was different, it was distinct. He repeated that a lot, "different". He said everything down to the way he moved his hand, he was distinguished, and humble.
Another story was about himself. Mr. Furutan grew up in Tehran. At an early age his family moved to Moscow. He finished college there and while applying for a job he was asked "what is your ideology?" He said the Guardian has said if asked of your beliefs you should say "I am a Baha'i." So he said "I am a Baha'i" So he was then exiled to Iran. They gave him a choice to go to Siberia or Iran so he said Iran. He said later he wished he'd have chosen Siberia. In Iran he wrote a letter to Shoghi Effendi and told him he was exiled to Iran and wanted to go back to Moscow. The Guardian wrote back, this was 1930, Communism was growing to its heighth, he said, "Be patient, in time this problem in Russia will subside and you will return to Moscow." With this he was very pleased and he would be patient and confident that some day he would return to Russia. So in the meantime years went by, he became the secretary of the National Assembly of Iran, he became a Hand of the Cause, he lived in Haifa after the passing of the Guardian, and he saw the forming of the Universal House of Justice. In 1990 he was asked by the Universal House of Justice to represent the Baha'is in a conference in Moscow. 60 years after the Guardian wrote his letter Mr. Furutan returned to Moscow, he was patient. In Tehran when he was younger he had typhoid fever, back then the medical field wasn't so advanced and he was in the hospital for 50 days. In the hospital the doctors told his mother he had no hope and she should start preparing a funeral for him. Upon hearing this he reminded his mother of Shoghi Effendi's letter, saying that he would return to Moscow. His mother was happy with this. He had a dream in which Shoghi Effendi visited him. He brought him a flower with 3 pedals, he said "I've come to visit you and wish you well." He turned to put the flower in a vase with water and when he turned back Shoghi Effendi was gone. He knew that the 3 pedals on the flower meant he would be better in 3 days. After 3 days the nurse examined him and declared he was fit to leave the hospital.
He told another story of when he went on pilgrimage. He had heard stories and seen pictures of the Guardian. When he first saw him his first instinct was to prostrate and bow. Shoghi Effendi pulled him up and said, "Don't you know that is forbidden by Baha'u'llah?" "To any living person you should not prostrate, even to the prophet. This is how you should greet me," and he embraced him in a big hug. "Like this, like brothers."
Shoghi Effendi was the one who led them to the Shrine of the Bab upon entering. He prostrated at the front of the room, on the threshold, and chanted for all the pilgrims the prayer of visitation. He then prostrated again, and then walked out, backwards, always facing the shrine. Later Shoghi said in front of all the pilgrims very sternly, "Don't think, that I do this at the Shrine to show you what to do, because I am the Guardian. Don't think that I am trying to show you what to do. You do whatever you feel. There is no tradition in the Baha'i Faith, there are no rituals. There is no tradition on what to do in holy shrines. For me, I do this because I saw Abdu'l Baha do this, why did Abdu'l Baha do this? I don't know why, but I saw him, so I do it this way."
Mr. Furutan also said that Shoghi Effendi got about 4 or 5 hours of sleep a night. He said he had so much to do that had to be done, he just had to, so he didn't sleep. He also mentioned that he was a very attractive man.