1. History of Tehran
2. Bahá'u'lláh in Tehran
3. The Bábí period
4. The Bahá'í period to 1921
5. Bahá'í writings about Tehran
6. Holy Places
8. Simnán, Shahmírzád, and Sangsar
In 1850, Mírzá Taqí Khán (q.v.), the prime minister, caused the arrest of a number of Bábís in Tehran for an alleged plot against him. Eventually seven of them were condemned to death. Since these seven individuals were representative of all that was considered most respectable in Iranian society, great efforts were made to save them and they were promised their lives if they would recant their faith, but they refused to do so. Their execution on 19 or 20 February 1850 produced a marked effect upon the people of Tehran. They included among their number the uncle of the Báb, Hájí Sayyid `Alí.
Following the martyrdom of the Báb in July 1850, the Bábí community of Tehran fragmented somewhat. Several persons put forward claims of leadership, including Shaykh `Alí `Azím and Hájí Mírzá Ismá`íl Dhabíh Káshání. In the gloom that descended upon the community, a number of the Bábís came together to make desperate plans. Bahá'u'lláh heard of these and tried to dissuade `Azím who appears to have been the ring-leader. But just then, Bahá'u'lláh was forced to go into exile on the strong suggestion of the prime minister. Shortly after Bahá'u'lláh's return from his enforced journey to Karbalá, an ill-fated attempt was made on the life of the Shah on 15 August 1852. The pistols loaded with grape-shot failed to cause anything more than superficial wounds to the Shah but the result for Bábís was the unleashing of a violent campaign of persecution. All known Bábís were rounded up and many were put into the underground Siyáh-Chál (q.v.) prison. For days on end, there were executions. The exact numbers of Bábís who were executed cannot be known for certain. While the official records speak of some thirty-five executions, other accounts report hundreds of deaths; among these were Táhirih, Sayyid Husayn Yazdí (the Báb's secretary), and Sulaymán Khán. Bahá'u'lláh was one of the few to survive the Siyáh-Chál. He was exiled from Iran and chose to go to Baghdad.
A number of prominent Bahá'ís from other parts of the country also established themselves in Tehran: Ibn-i Abhar (q.v.), Ibn-i Asdaq (q.v.), Hájí Ákhund (q.v.), Hájí Mírzá Haydar-`Alí Isfahání (q.v.), Áqá Jamál Burújirdí, and Nabíl Qá'iní. From here, these individuals undertook missionary journeys throughout Iran on a regular basis. Thus was begun an institution that became known as the muballighs.
Other institutional developments that originated in Tehran include the establishment of a local House of Justice (see "Local Spiritual Assembly") and the beginnings of the institution of the Hands of the Cause (q.v.). When copies of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas with its statements about the House of Justice reached Iran in 1294/1877, some of the Bahá'ís of Tehran decided to set up a House of Justice in that city (see "Iran.7"). Bahá'u'lláh named four individual Bahá'ís as Hands of the Cause from about 1887 onwards; the full significance of this institution did not, however, become apparent until later. These four were all at this time residing in Tehran. `Abdu'l-Bahá instructed them to convene a meeting of a group of the prominent Bahá'ís of Tehran in 1315/1897. This meeting evolved into the Central Assembly of Tehran, which was established in 1899 and which was the predecessor of both the Local Spiritual Assembly of Tehran and the National Spiritual Assembly of Iran. A significant feature of that first spiritual assembly in Iran was its inclusion of a Bahá'í from Zoroastrian background (SiyávashSifídvash) and a Bahá'í from Jewish heritage (Zakariya Javáhirí) as members, indicative of the integrating power of the Bahá'í Faith in the land of its origin. From about 1316/1898 the Bahá'ís of Tehran began to publish books by jellygraph and photo offset methods. Thus Tehran gradually became the unrivaled center of Bahá'í activities in Iran.
There were a number of very influential people in Tehran who were greatly opposed to the new religion. Foremost among these was Násiru'd-Dín Sháh himself and his son Kámrán Mírzá Náyibu's-Saltanih, the governor of Tehran; and also two of the most important religious figures in the capital, Mullá `Alí Kaní and Sayyid Sádiq Tabátabá'í Sanglají.
A number of factors served to counter the enmity of these figures, however. First, Tehran was the capital and the Shah could not afford to have wild mobs running through the streets killing and looting as occurred elsewhere in the country during episodes of persecution. Quite apart from the insult to his own authority that would result therefrom, there was the presence of foreign ambassadors who would report such occurrences to their governments and embarrass the Shah. These foreign ambassadors also occasionally intervened on behalf of the Bahá'ís for humanitarian reasons (see in particular the interventions of Drummond Wolff detailed in BBR 249-50, 279, 284-8). Second, the Bahá'ís could rely on a number of persons who helped them and informed them of pending persecutions, thus enabling them to flee in time. Rahím Khán Kan-kan, the farrash-ghadáb (royal executioner) was the person ordered by the government to arrest Bahá'ís; but his daughter was married to a Bahá'í and so he would first warn them through her to flee; he also assisted the Bahá'ís to obtain food during the famine of 1288/1871 (ZH 6:406-411; Bámdád 6:101-2). Another Bahá'í, Mírzá Faraj, was the cousin and píshkár (steward) of `Ali-Asghar Khán Amínu's-Sultán, the prime minister for much of this period. A number of other Bahá'ís also moved in influential circles. Sulaymán Khán Tunukábuní (q.v) was a landowner and had been governor of Tunukábun before he moved to Tehran. Tá'irih Khánum's father was an army financial officer and her mother had worked as a secretary in the andarún of the Shah. Among the clerics, Shaykh Hádí Najmábádí, a leading mujtahid, was favorable towards the Bahá'í Faith (see "Adíb, Mírzá Hasan").
Episodes of persecution did erupt from time to time. There were arrests of varying numbers of Bahá'ís in 1285/1868, 1289/1872, 1290/1873, 1293/1876, 1305/1888, and 1308/1891 but the most important and episode was in 1300/1882, when some fifty Bahá'ís were arrested and held for nineteen months. A number of Bahá'ís were also executed in Tehran, but these were usually persons who had been arrested elsewhere and sent to Tehran for a decision on their case. The most notable Tehran martyrs were Áqá Buzurg Badí` (q.v., in July 1869) and Mullá `Alí Ján Máhfurúzakí (in 1300/1883, see "`Alaviyyih Khánum").
The Bahá'í Faith was spread to a number of villages in the surrounding area. In Tálqán, the deputy govermor Iskandar Khán and his son who succeeded him, Mírzá Muhammad-`Alí, were Bahá'ís. Through the former, Mírzá `Abdu'r-Rahím was converted and he in turn converted a number of others, including some of the `ulamá of the village and of the nearby village of Fashandak.
Bahá'u'lláh calls Tehran the "Land of Tá" and apostrophizes
it in many of his writings. The most well-known passage occurs in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas
where Bahá'u'lláh makes a prophecy relating to a future king
and the advent of democracy: "Let nothing grieve thee, O Land of Tá,
for God hath chosen thee to be the source of the joy of all mankind. He
shall, if it be His Will, bless thy throne with one who will rule with
justice, who will gather together the flock of God which the wolves have
scattered. Such a ruler will, with joy and gladness, turn his face towards,
and extend his favors unto, the people of Bahá . . . Rejoice with
great joy, for God hath made thee `the Dayspring of His light,' inasmuch
as within thee was born the Manifestation of His Glory . . . Erelong will
the state of affairs within thee be changed, and the reins of power fall
into the hands of the people . . . The day is approaching when thy agitation
will have been transmuted into peace and quiet calm (KA 91-93:53-4).
A number of villages around Qumm came to have important Bahá'í
communities. In Jasb, one of the leading mullás of the village,
Mullá Ja`far became a Bábí and as a consequence many
others from the village also converted. After he was executed in 1283/1866,
a woman whom he had converted, Mullá Fátimih, continued his
work, converting her own family and others. The numbers in Jasb reached
some thirty persons (KD 1:440-442).
Many were converted in these two villages, including several of the leading religious figures of the area. Among the most famous of the Bahá'ís of this area were Mullá `Alí-Akbar Shahmírzádí known as Hájí Akhund (q.v.) who was named a Hand of the Cause (q.v.) by Bahá'u'lláh and Mullá Nasru'lláh Shahmírzádí, the imám of one of the mosques in Shahmírzád, who was converted in 1310/1892 by Nayyir and Síná. The Bahá'ís of Shahmírzád formed a local spiritual assembly in 1327/1909, established the Taraqqí Bahá'í school in Shahmírzád in 1335/1916, and constructed a Mashriqu'l-Adhkár in Sangsar in 1340/1921.
In 1324/1906, there was an episode of persecution in this area in course
of which several Bahá'ís were shot dead. An even more serious
episode occurred in Sangsar in 1334/1916 when Mullá Nasru'lláh
and several others were killed. In 1340/1921 the newly-built Mashriqu'l-Adhkár
was burnt down. There were some further episodes of persecution. One of
the leading religious figures of the area, Hájí Mullá
`Alí, protected the Bahá'ís on several occassions.
See also: "Siyáh-Chál," "Bahá'u'lláh, House of, Tehran." For events after 1921, see entry "Iran".
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