BáBISM (Persian : بابیه, Babiyye), also known as the
BAYáNí FAITH (
Founded in 1844,
* 1 Etymology
* 2 Beliefs and Teachings
* 2.1 Hidden Imam * 2.2 Resurrection, Judgment Day and cyclical revelation * 2.3 He whom God shall make manifest * 2.4 Religious law
* 3 History
* 3.1 Antecedents * 3.2 Origin * 3.3 Spread
* 3.4 Uprisings and massacres
* 3.4.1 Fort Tabarsi * 3.4.2 Zanjan upheaval * 3.4.3 Nayriz upheaval
* 3.5 After the execution of the Báb * 3.6 Succession
* 4 Writings * 5 Criticism * 6 See also
* 7 References
* 7.1 Citations * 7.2 Bibliography
* 8 Further reading * 9 External links
Bábism, a term originating from Orientalists rather than the
followers of the religion, comes from the Perso-
BELIEFS AND TEACHINGS
Main article: Teachings of the Báb
The Báb's teachings can be grouped into three broad stages which each have a dominant thematic focus. His earliest teachings are primarily defined by his interpretation of the Qur\'an and other Islamic traditions . While this interpretive mode continues throughout all three stages of his teachings, a shift takes place where his emphasis moves to philosophical elucidation and finally to legislative pronouncements. In the second philosophical stage, the Báb gives an explanation of the metaphysics of being and creation, and in the third legislative stage his mystical and historical principles are explicitly united. An analysis of the Báb's writings throughout the three stages shows that all of his teachings were animated by a common principle that had multiple dimensions and forms.
Twelver Shi\'a Islamic belief there were twelve
In Bábí belief the
Báb is the return of the Imam Mahdi, but the
doctrine of the Occultation is implicitly denied; instead the Báb
stated that his manifestation was a symbolic return of the Imam, and
not the physical reappearance of the
RESURRECTION, JUDGMENT DAY AND CYCLICAL REVELATION
The Báb taught that his revelation was beginning an apocalyptic process that was bringing the Islamic dispensation to its cyclical end, and starting a new dispensation. He taught that the terms "resurrection", "Judgement Day", "paradise" and "hell" used in Shi'a prophecies for the end-times are symbolic. He stated that "Resurrection" means that the appearance of a new revelation, and that "raising of the dead" means the spiritual awakening of those who have stepped away from true religion. He further stated that "Judgement Day" refers to when a new Manifestation of God comes, and the acceptance or rejection of those on the Earth. Thus the Báb taught that with his revelation the end times ended and the age of resurrection had started, and that the end-times were symbolic as the end of the past prophetic cycle.
In the Persian Bayán , the Báb wrote that religious dispensations come in cycles, as the seasons, to renew "pure religion" for humanity. This notion of continuity anticipated future prophetic revelations after the Báb.
HE WHOM GOD SHALL MAKE MANIFEST
Báb claimed a station of revelation, he also claimed no
finality for his revelation. One of the core Bábí teachings is the
great Promised One, whom the
Báb termed He whom
Báb abrogated Islamic law and in the
Persian Bayán promulgated
a system of Bábí law, thus establishing a separate religion distinct
from Islam. Some of the new laws included changing the direction of
The Báb also created a large number of rituals and rites which remained largely unpracticed. Some of these rituals include the carrying of arms only in times of necessity, the obligatory sitting on chairs, the advocating of the cleanliness displayed by Christians, the non-cruel treatment of animals, the prohibition of beating children severely, the recommendation of the printing of books, even scripture and the prohibition on the study of logic or dead languages. While some statements in the Bayan show tolerance, there are other very harsh regulations in regards to relations with non-believers. For example, non-believers are forbidden to live in five central Iranian provinces, the holy places of previous religions are to be demolished, all non-Bábí books should be destroyed, believers are not to marry or sit in the company of non-believers, and the property of non-believers can be taken from them. Some further ritual include elaborate regulations regarding pilgrimage, fasting, the manufacture of rings, the use of perfume, and the washing and disposal of the dead.
Twelver Shi'i Muslims regard the
Twelfth Imam ,
Muhammad al-Mahdi ,
as the last of the Imams. They contend that
Muhammad al-Mahdi went
into the Occultation in 874 CE, at which time communication between
the Imam and the Muslim community could only be performed through
mediators called Bābs "gates" or Nā'ibs "representatives". In 940,
the fourth nā'ib claimed that Imam
Muhammad al-Mahdi had gone into an
indefinite "Grand Occultation", and that he would cease to communicate
with the people. According to
Twelver belief, the Hidden Imam is alive
in the world, but in concealment from his enemies, and that he would
only emerge shortly before the
Last Judgment . At that time, acting as
al-Qā\'im ("He who will arise"), a messianic figure also known as the
In 1830s Qajar Persia , Sayyid Kazim Rashti was the leader of the Shaykhis , a sect of Twelvers. The Shaykhis were a group expecting the imminent appearance of al-Qāʾim. At the time of Kazim's death in 1843, he had counselled his followers to leave their homes to seek the Lord of the Age whose advent would soon break on the world.
On 22 May, 1844
After Mulla Husayn accepted the Báb's claim, the Báb ordered him to wait until 17 others had independently recognized the station of the Báb before they could begin teaching others about the new revelation.
Within five months, seventeen other disciples of Sayyid Kāẓim had independently recognized the Báb as a Manifestation of God. Among them was one woman, Zarrin Tāj Baraghāni, a poet, who later received the name of Táhirih (the Pure). These 18 disciples were later to be known as the Letters of the Living and were given the task of spreading the new faith across Iran and Iraq. The Báb emphasized the spiritual station of these 18 individuals, who along with himself, made the first "Unity" of his religion
After his declaration, he soon assumed the title of the Báb. Within
a few years the movement spread all over Iran, causing controversy.
His claim was at first understood by some of the public at the time to
be merely a reference to the Gate of the Hidden Imám of Muhammad, but
this understanding he publicly disclaimed. He later proclaimed
himself, in the presence of the heir to the Throne of Persia and other
notables, to be al-Qā'im. In the Báb's writings, the
Báb appears to
identify himself as the gate (báb) to
Muhammad al-Mahdi and later he
begins to explicitly proclaim his station as equivalent to that of the
Hidden Imam and a new messenger from God. Saiedi states the exalted
Báb was claiming was unmistakable, but due to the
reception of the people, his writings appear to convey the impression
that he is only the gate to the Hidden Twelfth Imam. To his circle of
early believers, the
Báb was equivocal about his exact status,
gradually confiding in them that he was not merely a gate to the
Hidden Imam, but the Manifestation of the Hidden Imam and al-Qā'im
himself. During his early meetings with
The Báb's message was disseminated by the Letters of the Living
through Iran and southern
Báb was released and departed for
The role played by
Táhirih in Karbalāʾ was particularly
significant. She began an effort of innovation in religion based on
her station as a Letter of the Living and the incarnation of
This conference was one of the most important events of the Bábí
movement when in 1848 its split from
Several sources agree that by 1848 or 1850 there were 100,000 converts to Babism. In the fall of 1850 newspaper coverage fell behind quickly unfolding events. Though the Báb was named for the first time he had in fact already been executed.
UPRISINGS AND MASSACRES
By 1848 the increased fervour of the Bábís and the clerical opposition had led to a number of confrontations between the Bábís and their government and clerical establishment. After the death of Mohammad Shah Qajar , the shah of Iran, a series of armed struggles and uprisings broke out in the country, including at Tabarsi. These confrontations all resulted in Bábí massacres; Bahá'í authors give an estimate of 20,000 Bábís killed from 1844 to present, with most of the deaths occurring during the first 20 years. Former Professor of Islamic Studies Denis MacEoin studied documented deaths, both for individuals and for round figures, from Bábí, Bahá'í, European, and Iranian sources, and confirmed at most two to three thousand. He stated that he could not find evidence for any higher figures. Supporters of the Bábís paint their struggle as basically defensive in nature; Shi'i writers on the other hand point to this period as proof of the subversive nature of Bábísm. MacEoin has pointed out that the Bábís did arm themselves, upon the Báb's instructions, and originally intended an uprising, but that their eventual clashes with state forces were defensive, and not considered an offensive jihad. In mid-1850 a new prime-minister, Amir Kabir , was convinced that the Bábí movement was a threat and ordered the execution of the Báb which was followed by the killings of many Bábís. Shrine of Shaykh Ṭabarsí
Main article: Battle of Fort Tabarsi
Of the conflicts between the Bábís and the establishment, the first
and best known took place in Māzandarān at the remote shrine of
Shaykh Tabarsi , about 22 kilometres southeast of Bārfarush (modern
Babol ). From October 1848 until May 1849, around 300 Bábís (later
rising to 600), led by
Quddús and Mullá Husayn, defended themselves
against the attacks of local villagers and members of the Shah's army
under the command of Prince
The revolt at the fortress of ʿAli Mardan Khan in Zanjan in northwest Iran was by far the most violent of all the conflicts. It was headed by Mullā Muhammad ‘Ali Zanjani, called Hujjat , and also lasted seven or eight months (May 1850 – January 1851). The Bábí community in the city had swelled to around 3000 after the conversion of one of the town's religious leaders to the Bábí movement. The conflict was preceded by years of growing tension between the leading Islamic clergy and the new rising Bábí leadership. The city governor ordered that the city be divided into two sectors, with hostilities starting soon thereafter. The Bábís faced resistance against a large number of regular troops, and led to the death of several thousand Bábís. After Hujjat was killed, and the Bábí numbers being greatly reduced, the Bábís surrendered in January 1851 and were massacred by the army.
Meanwhile a serious but less protracted struggle was waged against the government at Neyriz in Fars by Yahya Vahid Darabi of Nayriz. Vahid had converted around 1500 people in the community, and had thus caused tensions with the authorities which led to an armed struggle in a nearby fort. The Bábís resisted attacks by the town's governor as well as further reinforcements. After being given a truce offer on 17 June 1850, Vahid told his followers to give up their positions, which led to Vahid and the Bábís being killed; the Bábí section of the town was also plundered, and the property of the remaining Bábís seized. Later, in March 1853 the governor of the city was killed by the Bábís. These further events led to a second armed conflict near the city where the Bábís once again resisted troop attacks until November 1853, when a massacre of Bábís happened, with their women being enslaved.
AFTER THE EXECUTION OF THE BáB
The revolts in Zanjan and Nayriz were in progress when in 1850 the
Báb, with one of his disciples, was brought from his prison at
Most western scholars who reviewed the
Bábism, though at present a proscribed religion in Persia, is far
from being extinct, or even declining, and the
Báb may yet contest
with Mahomed(sic) the privilege of being regarded as the real prophet
of the faithful.
For the next two years comparatively little was heard of the Bábís. The Bábís became polarized with one group speaking of violent retribution against Naser al-Din Shah Qajar , while the other, under the leadership of Baha’u’llah, looked to rebuild relationships with the government and advance the Babí cause by persuasion and the example of virtuous living.
The militant group of Babis was between thirty and seventy persons, only a small number of the total Babi population of perhaps 100,000. Their meetings appear to have come under the control of a "Husayn Jan", an emotive and magnetic figure who obtained a high degree of personal devotion to himself from the group. Meanwhile Tahirih and Baha'u'llah, visible leaders of the community previously, were removed from the scene – Tahirih by arrest and in the case of Baha'u'llah an invitation to go on pilgrimage to Karbila. On August 15, 1852, three from this small splinter group, acting on their own initiative, attempted to assassinate Naser al-Din Shah Qajar as he was returning from the chase to his palace at Niavarān . Notwithstanding the assassins' claim that they were working alone, the entire Bábí community was blamed, and a slaughter of several thousand Bábís followed, starting on the 31 August 1852 with some thirty Bábís, including Táhirih. Dr Jakob Eduard Polak , then the Shah's physician, was an eye-witness to her execution. Bahá\'u\'lláh surrendered himself and he along with a few others were imprisoned in the Siāhchāl "Black Pit", an underground dungeon in Tehran. Meanwhile echoes of the newspaper coverage of the violence continued into 1853.
Main article: Bahá\'í/Bábí split
In most of his prominent writings, the Báb alluded to a Promised One, most commonly referred to as " He whom God shall make manifest ", and that he himself was "but a ring upon the hand of Him Whom God shall make manifest." Within 20 years of the Báb's death, over 25 people claimed to be the Promised One, most significantly Bahá\'u\'lláh .
Shortly before the Báb's execution, a follower of the Báb, Abd
al-Karim, brought to the Báb's attention the necessity to appoint a
successor; thus the
Báb wrote a certain number of tablets which he
gave to Abd al-Karim to deliver to Subh-i Azal and Bahá'u'lláh.
These tablets were later interpreted by both Azalis and Bahá'ís as
proof of the Báb's delegation of leadership. Some sources state that
Báb did this at the suggestion of Bahá'u'lláh. In one of the
tablets, which is commonly referred to as the Will and Testament of
the Báb, Subh-i Azal is viewed to have been appointed as leader of
the Bábis after the death of the movement's founder; the tablet, in
verse 27, orders Subh-i Azal "...to obey Him Whom
Subh-i Azal's leadership was controversial. He generally absented
himself from the Bábí community spending his time in
Bahá\'u\'lláh claimed that in 1853, while a prisoner in Tehran, he
was visited by a "
Maid of Heaven ", which symbolically marked the
beginning of his mission as a Messenger of God. Ten years later in
Baghdad, he made his first public declaration to be He whom
Subh-i Azal died in
Current estimates of Azalis are that there are no more than a few
thousand. The World
See also Writings of the Báb
The Báb's major writings include the Qayyúmu\'l-Asmá\' (a commentary on the Sura of Joseph ), and the Persian Bayán , which the Bábís saw as superseding the Qur\'an . The latter has been translated into French ; only portions exist in English . Unfortunately, most of the writings of the Báb have been lost. The Báb himself stated they exceeded five hundred thousand verses in length; the Qur'an, in contrast, is 6300 verses in length. If one assumes 25 verses per page, that would equal 20,000 pages of text. Nabíl-i-Zarandí , in The Dawn-Breakers , mentions nine complete commentaries on the Qur'an, revealed during the Báb's imprisonment at Máh-Kú , which have been lost without a trace. Establishing the true text of the works that are still extant, as already noted, is not always easy, and some texts will require considerable work. Others, however, are in good shape; several of the Báb's major works are available in the handwriting of his trusted secretaries.
Most works were revealed in response to specific questions by Bábís. This is not unusual; the genre of the letter has been a venerable medium for composing authoritative texts as far back as Paul of Tarsus. Three quarters of the chapters of the New Testament are letters, were composed to imitate letters, or contain letters within them. Sometimes the Báb revealed works very rapidly by chanting them in the presence of a secretary and witnesses.
The Archives Department at the Bahá\'í World Centre currently holds
about 190 Tablets of the Báb. Excerpts from several principal works
have been published in the only
Denis MacEoin considers Bábí law as a "mishmash of rules and
regulations that at times are little more than mere whimsy, revolving
around some of the Bab's own obsessions about cleanliness, polite
behaviour, and elegance. It is a shari'a, but not in any practical
sense. Certainly, it does not seem to be going anywhere...Here and
there we find indications that the Bab had been impressed by Europeans
and that he wanted his followers to emulate them." He further states:
"One comes away from the Bayan with a strong sense that very little of
this is to be taken seriously. It is a form of game, never actually
intended to be put into practice, much in the same way that whole
sections of the Bab's later books don't in fact mean anything very
much, but are elaborate exercises in interesting things you can do
* Babism portal
* ^ A B EB (1911) .
* ^ This has been the standard term which the modern followers of
* ^ for example see:
* "Mahomedan Schism", Vermont Watchman and State Journal, Feb 19, 1845, p. 4, second column, top * "Mahometan Schism", Signal of Liberty, p. 3, center top of full page view * "Mahometan Schism", The Eclectic Magazine of Foreign Literature, Science, and Art, Jan/Feb 1846, p. 142, bottom left then top of right columns * "A modern Mahomet", Boon's Lick Times, Apr 4, 1846, p. 1, fourth column, half way down * "Mahometan Schism", Morning Chronicle, Apr 4, 1846, p. 4, 5th column, top, as highlighted * "Mahometan Schism", South Australian, Apr. 7, 1846 p. 3, bottom of second column, top of next, as highlighted * "Persia", South Australian Register, Apr 11, 1846, p. 3, 5th column near bottom, as highlighted * "Mahometan Schism", New Zealand Spectator Cook's Strait Guardian, July 15, 1846, p. 3, near bottom of text selection
* ^ Amanat , Resurrection and Renewal, 257.
* ^ Cheyne, The Reconciliation of Races and Religions, 29.
* ^ Amanat , Resurrection and Renewal, 258.
* ^ EB (1878) .
* ^ A B MacEoin, Dennis (2011). "Babism".
Encyclopædia Iranica .
* ^ A B C D Smith, Peter (2000). "Báb". A concise encyclopedia of
the Bahá'í Faith. Oxford: Oneworld Publications. pp. 55–59. ISBN
* ^ Smith, Peter (Spring–Summer 1984). "Research Note; A note on
Babi and Baha'i Numbers in Iran". Iranian Studies. International
Society for Iranian Studies. 17 (2–03): 295–301.
* ^ see: * María Luz Incident
* The diplomatic service; an abstract and examination of evidence taken by the Select Committee of the House of Commons in 1870 (1871)
* ^ *The Origins of Christianity: The apostles, Volume 2 of The Origins of Christianity, by Ernest Renan, Publisher Carleton, 1866,* Under "Some New Books", "vi", The Sun, New York New York, September 11, 1898, p. 22, 5th column near bottom to 6th column top * ^ Babism, Studies in the evidences of Christianity, 1869, pp. 129 – 140 * ^ Dean-Deibert, Margaret (1978). "Early Journalistic Reactions to the Bahá'í Faith: 1845–1912". World Order. National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States (Summer 1978): 17–27.
* ^ The Attempted Assassination of Nasir al Din Shah in 1852:
Millennialism and violence, by
Moojan Momen , 2011
* ^ The Attempted Assassination of Nasir al Din Shah in 1852:
Millennialism and Violence, by
Moojan Momen , 2011
* ^ Momen, Moojan (August 2008). "Millennialism and Violence: The
Attempted Assassination of Nasir al-Din Shah of Iran by the Babis in
1852". Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent
Religions. 12 (1): 57–82.
* ^ A B C D Cole, Juan. "A Brief Biography of Baha\'u\'llah". Retrieved 22 June 2006. * ^ A B C D E MacEoin, Dennis (1989). " Azali Babism". Encyclopædia Iranica . * ^ A B Barrett, David (2001). The New Believers. London, UK: Cassell & Co. p. 246. ISBN 0-304-35592-5 . * ^ Johnson 2013 , pp. 59–62. * ^ International Community, Bahá\'í (1992). "How many Bahá\'ís are there?". The Bahá'ís. p. 14. * ^ Bahá\'í International Community (2010). "Statistics". Bahá'í International Community. Retrieved March 5, 2010. * ^ MacEoin, Sources for Early Bābī Doctrine and History, 15. * ^ Denis MacEoin , The Sources for Early Bābī Doctrine and History (Leiden: Brill, 1992), 88. * ^ MacEoin, Sources for Early Bābī Doctrine and History, 12–15. * ^ On letters as a medium of composition of the New Testament, see Norman Perrin, The New Testament: An Introduction, Proclamation and Parenesis, Myth and History (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovitch, 1974), 96–97. * ^ Unpublished letter from the Universal House of Justice. "Numbers and Classifications of Sacred Writings Texts". Retrieved 16 December 2006. * ^ MacEoin, Sources for Early Bābī Doctrine and History, 15–40. * ^ Saiedi 2008 , pp. 363–367
* Garnett, Richard (1878), "Bábi", in Baynes, T.S., Encyclopædia
Britannica , 3 (9th ed.), New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, p. 180
* Garnett, Richard (1893), "Bâbi", in De Puy, William Harrison,
Encyclopædia Britannica, American Rev., Vol. III, Chicago: Werner
Co., pp. 180–181 .
* Amanat, Abbas (1989). Resurrection and Renewal: The Making of the
Bábí Movement in Iran 1844–1850. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University
Press. ISBN 0-8014-2098-9 .
* Cheyne, Thomas Kelly (2007). The Reconciliation of Races and
Religions. Echo Library. ISBN 1406845469 .
* Esslemont, J. E. (1980).
* This article incorporates text from a publication now in the
public domain : Browne, Edward Granville (1911), "Bábíism", in
* Nabíl-i-Zarandí (1932) . Shoghi Effendi (translator), ed. The Dawn-Breakers: Nabíl’s Narrative (Hardcover ed.). Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Bahá'í Publishing Trust. p. 676. ISBN 0-900125-22-5 .
* Afnan, Habibuʾllah (2008). Ahang Rabbani, ed. The Genesis of the Bábí-Bahá\'í Faiths in Shíráz and Fárs. Numen Book Series – Studies in the History of Religions -Texts and Sources in the History of Religions. 122. Boston, USA: Brill; Leiden. ISBN 978-90-04-17054 4 . ISSN 0169-8834 . * MacEoin, Denis (2009). The Messiah of Shiraz: Studies in Early and Middle Babism. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill. ISBN 90-04-17035-9 .
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