The Bab and the Babi Community of Iran

Pages: 480
Subject: History, Religion: Baha'i
Imprint: Oneworld Academic

The Bab and the Babi Community of Iran

Fereydun Vahman

Two hundred years from the birth of the Bab, this volume offers a unique, wide-ranging exploration of the life and legacy of the Bab, the Babi community of Iran, and the origins of the Baha'i faith
9781786079565 (5 Nov 2020)
RRP £35.00 / US$45.00

The Book

In 1844, a young merchant from Shiraz called Sayyid ‘Ali-Muhammad declared himself the ‘gate' (the Bab) to the Truth and, shortly afterwards, the initiator of a new prophetic cycle. His messianic call attracted a significant following across Iran and Iraq.

Regarded as a threat by state and religious authorities, the Babis were subject to intense persecution and the Bab himself was executed in 1850.

In this volume, leading scholars of Islam, Baha'i studies and Iranian history come together to examine the life and legacy of the Bab, from his childhood to the founding of the Baha'i faith and beyond. Among other subjects, they cover the Bab's writings, his Qur'an commentaries, the societal conditions that underlay the Babi upheavals, the works of Babi martyr Tahirih Qurratu'l-‘Ayn, and Orientalist Edward Granville Browne's encounters with Babi and Baha'i texts.

Additional Information

Subject History, Religion: Baha'i
Pages 480
Imprint Oneworld Academic


About the Author

Fereydun Vahman is Professor Emeritus at Copenhagen University and former Iranian Studies Fellow at Yale University. He has taught and researched old Iranian religions and languages for more than forty years, and has published many books, in several languages, including 175 Years of Persecution: A History of the Babis & Baha'is of Iran, which is also published by Oneworld. He is the editor of the Religion and Society in Iran series, and co-founder and President of the Danish-Iranian Society.

Table of Contents



A Note on Transliteration




1  The Bab: A Sun in a Night Not Followed by Dawn | Fereydun Vahman

The Bab Discontinues his Formal Education and Begins his Mercantile Work

Epiphany, Piety, and Intuition

The Bab's Journey to the Sacred Shrine Cities of ʻIraq

The Bab's Return to Shiraz and Marriage

The Declaration of the Bab's Cause: The Birth of a New Religion

After the Declaration of the Bab's Cause

Mulla ʻAli Bastami

The Bab's Eventful Journey to Mecca

The Bab's Return from Pilgrimage and the Events of Shiraz

The Bab in Isfahan

From Isfahan to Azarbaijan

The Trial of Tabriz

The Return to Chihriq Prison

The Execution of the Bab in Tabriz



2  The Worldview of the Báb: The Reconstruction of Religion and Society | Nader Saiedi

Reconstruction of the Idea of Religion: Dialectical Logic and Historical Consciousness

Reconstruction of the Idea of the Human Being and Human Identity

Rationalism and Humanism

Equality of the Believers and Canceling of the Authority of the Clerics

Centrality of the Word and the Rejection of Miracles

Reconstruction of Heaven, Hell, and the Day of Resurrection

Reconstruction of the Concept of the Occultation and Return of the Imam

Equal Rights, Social Justice, and Ethics

Station of Women, Rejection of Patriarchy

The Ethical Maxim: For the Sake of God

Culture of Affirmation

Development and Modernization: Perfection and Refinement




3  The Shaping of the Babi Community: Merchants, Artisans, and Others | Abbas Amanat

The Changing Economy

The Babi Merchants

The Babi Artisans

Converts from the Government Ranks

The Babi Community: An Assessment

Selected Bibliography


4  From a Primal Point to an Archetypal Book: Literary Trajectories through Select Writings of the Bab (1819-50) | Stephen N. Lambden

The Writings of the Bab, Some Preliminary Observations

Bayan/Mubin ("Crystal Clear”) yet "Abstruse, Bewilderingly Abstruse (sa‘b mustasa‘b)”: Exegetical Clarity and Esoteric Depth in the Writings of the Bab

The Shahada (Testimony of Faith) and its Alphabetical Mysteries

Esoterica, the Abstruse, Sciences of the Unseen (‘ulūm alghayb)

The Style, Grammar, and Syntax of the Bab

Personal Letters, "Scriptural Tablets” (Lawh, pl. Alwah)

Letters or Scriptural Tablets

The Genesis of the New Shari‘a (Laws), the Khasa'il-i Sab‘a (mid. 1845)

The All-Comprehensive Bayan (Exposition) of the Bab

The Five Modes of Revelation

Devotional Writings of the Bab

Tafsir Sūrat al-Hamd (Praise) or al-Fatiha ("The Opening,” Q. 1)

"We indeed proffered thee al-Kawthar (The Abundance).”

Hadith Commentary

Commentaries on Hadith Texts by the Bab

Sūrat al-Ridwan

Khutbas, Literary Orations

The Khutba al-Jidda (Literary Oration Nigh Jeddah)

The Khutba on ‘ilm al-huruf (On the "Science of the Letters”)

Select Treatises (Risala, pl. Rasa'il), Epistles (Ṣahifa, pl. Ṣuhuf ) and Other Scriptural Communications

The Risala fi'l-nubuwwa al-khassa (A Treatise on the Specific Prophethood of Muhammad)

Epistles, Treatises, Booklets (Ṣahifa, pl. Ṣuhuf )

The Persian Dala'il-i sab‘a (Seven Proofs)

The Arabic al-dala'il al-sab‘a (Seven Proofs)

Kitab al-asma'/Kull shay' (The Book of the Divine Names, the "All Things”)

Kitab-i panj sha‘n (The Book expressive of Five Modes of Revelation)

The (Lawh‑i) Haykal al‑din ("Temple of Religion”) (1266/early-mid-1850)

The Late Messianism of the Bab

The Wasiyyat-nama (Will and Testament) Attributed to the Bab

Concluding Summary Note



5  Interpretation as Revelation: The Qur'án Commentary of the Báb, Sayyid ‘Alí Muḥammad Shírází (1819-50) | Todd Lawson

Life of the Báb

The Shaykhí School

Shaykhí Teachings

Tafsír Works

Tafsír súrat al-baqara

Tafsír súrat Yúsuf




6  The Social Basis of the Bābī Upheavals in Iran (1848-53): A Preliminary Analysis | Moojan Momen


The Shaykh Ṭabarsī Upheaval: 1848-49

Total Number of Bābīs at Shaykh Ṭabarsī

Rural/Urban Origin of Bābī Participants at Shaykh Ṭabarsī

The Nayrīz Upheavals of 1850 and 1853

Occupations of Bābī Participants in the Two Nayrīz Upheavals

Origins of Participants at the Two Nayrīz Upheavals

Total Numbers of Bābī Participants at the Two Nayrīz Upheavals

The Zanjān Upheaval: 1850-51

Occupations of Bābī Participants at Zanjān

Origins of Bābī Participants at Zanjān

Total Numbers of Bābī Participants at Zanjān

The Tehran Episodes of 1850 and 1852

The Seven Martyrs of Tehran, 1850

The Tehran Executions of 1852

Occupations of the Bābīs Executed in Tehran in 1852


A Comparative Analysis

The Role of Women

Other Social Groups

The Social Basis of Babism


7  The Babi-State Conflicts of 1848-50 | Siyamak Zabihi-Moghaddam

Babi Clashes with the State: Neither Social Protest nor Offensive Holy War

Review of the Primary Sources of the Babi Upheavals

An Outline of the Conflict at Shaykh Tabarsi, September 1848-May 1849

The Objectives of the Babis at Shaykh Tabarsi

The Calm between Storms: May 1849-May 1850

The Nayriz Conflict of May-June 1850

An Analysis of the Objectives of Vahid and the Babis in Nayriz

Hujjat and the ‘Ulama' of Zanjan

The Zanjan Episode of May 1850-January 1851

An Analysis of the Objectives of Hujjat and the Zanjani Babis




8  From Babi Movement to the Baha'i Faith: Some Observations About the Evolution of a New Religion | Armin Eschraghi

Some General Observations on the Bab's Sacred Law

Messianism in the Bab's Writings

The Later Development of the Babi Movement

Baha'u'llah After the Bab's Martyrdom

Babi Messianism and the Question of Leadership

Some General Observations on Baha'u'llah's Sacred Law

Some Further Observations on the Baha'i Faith's Evolution from the Babi Movement


Ritual Impurity (najasah)

Holy War and Religious Legitimization of Violence




9  "The hand of God is not chained up”: Notes on Two Salient Themes in the Prose Writings of Ṭáhirih Qurratu'l-‘Ayn | Omid Ghaemmaghami


Progressive Revelation

Love, Friendship, and Forbearance



10  Babi-Baha'i Books and Believers in E. G. Browne's A Year amongst the Persians | Sholeh A. Quinn


Terminology and Identifications



Books in Shiraz

Reading in Shiraz




The Texts Browne Encountered in Iran




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