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.
Saturday, 24 FEB 2001
Mr. Furutan's Talk
Packing going to Moscow, Mr. Futuran packed in the middle of his books Some Answered Questions because it didn't sound religious. It was his only book for 5 years and he read it morning and night over and over. One day his friend Nicolae asked him about the book he read so much. He told him a little about it. He asked him "Do you believe in God?" If he said yes he would be in trouble. If he said no he would be lying. So he said "Nicolae, I don't believe in the God you don't believe in." Which is the God that is painted on the walls of churches or has a big white beard.
He told us a quote from the Aqdas (pg 19), summed up it said "The first duty of everyone is to recognize the Divine Manifestation, second, follow His laws." Then he told us some laws. About backbiting, about reading writings morning and evening, about obligatory prayer. "Who else but yourselves is to be blamed, if ye remain unendowed with so great an out pouring of God's transcendent and all encompassing grace," (Gleaning, pg 238)
Mr. Furutan got a letter while living in the Holy Land that said, "you are invited to this National Youth Conference featuring Hand of the Cause, Mr. Furutan." (he wasn't informed ahead of time) He talked to his wife and she convinced him to go. So he told the youth he was going. He arrived in town with his wife and on arriving was pulled aside by an officer. The man was a coroner. He asked him his name and then told him they would have to go downtown for questioning. It turns out the youth putting on the conference didn't get any kind of clearance by the police to gather Baha'is from all over and have a big meeting. He thought this was horrible, not only for himself, but the conference would be cancelled and the publicity would look really bad for the Faith. So there he prayed to Baha'u'llah and decided that he should try not to go downtown and he would stall as long as possible. So he said, "please question me here, there is no need to go downtown." So the coroner did. So they sat down and he said, "name" and he answered, "Ali Akbar Furutan" He said, "don't you want to know why my name is Ali Akbar?" The coroner said he didn't care. Then he said "it's important, you should know about my name. The Prophet Muhammad had a son in law named Ali, who had 3 sons named Ali, after himself. When he called them they all at once turned. So he named them 'Big Ali', 'Medium Ali', and 'Small Ali'. So my name is Big Ali, Ali Akbar." Coroner said, "father's name." He said, "you don't want to know my father's name." Coroner said strictly, "father's name now!" He said, "Karbilai Muhammad Ali Isfahani Furutan." It was an hour later before the name was spelled and explained correctly. "Mother's name" he said, "Soqrat." "Socrat?", "no, Soqrat." "Age", "I will not tell you my age. My wife is here and I have never told her my age. Instead I'll guess your age. 52." The coroner said, "today is my 52nd birthday." He let him go on to his conference.