Baha'i Library Online

See original version at

COLLECTIONEncyclopedia articles
AUTHOR 1Vladimir Minorsky
TITLE_PARENTChamber's Encyclopaedia
PUB_THISOxford University Press
ABSTRACTEncyclopedia entry, the draft of which was found in Minorsky's archive, along with three pages of typed "errata" possibly written by H. M. Balyuzi on behalf of a Bahá'í institution.
NOTES The three pages of errata might have been prepared by Dr. Balyuzi given the fact that Minorsky (Minorski) communicated with him. But the review might also have been prepared by a Bahá'í institution, as indicated by the fact that the reviewer referred to himself/herself as "we" and seemed to speak with a degree of authority.

1. Text

BABI, a modern Persian sect, derived from the title Bab-ad-Din ('gate of the faith'), assumed by its founder, Mirza Ali Mohammed, who was born at Shiraz in 1821, and in 1844, after a pilgrimage to Mecca, undertook to form a new religion from a mixture of Mohammedan, Christian, Jewish and Parsee elements. His controversies with the mollas shortly led to his confinement in various towns, where he formulated his doctrines, privately instructed his disciples and increased his claims. He sent out missionaries in various directions, the most famous of whom was a woman, Qurret al Ain, remarkable for beauty and intelligence and skilled in poetry, who preached against polygamy. The sect soon became numerous, and was not molested by the reigning shah; but on the accession of Nasir ad-Din in 1848, apprehending persecution, they took up arms. Several Persian armies were routed, but finally the insurgents were reduced by famine and most of them executed (1849-50). The Bab had held aloof from the revolt, but he was arrested and put to death in 1850 after imprisonment. An attempt by three believers to assassinate the shah in 1852 led to a terrible persecution of the sect, when Qurret al Ain was put to death with many others. The Bab's successor was found in a Tehrani, Mirza Hosain Ali, born in Nur in 1817, to whom was given the name Baha-Allah ('splendour of God'). He was believed by the great majority of the Babis, now known as Bahais, to be the most complete incarnation of the Son of God, foretold by the Bab, though a small party (Ezeli) adhered to his half-brother Mirza Yahya, called Subh-i-Ezel. Baha-Allah and others had taken refuge from persecution at Baghdad, whence they were removed by the Turkish government to confinement in Constantinople, in Adrianople and finally in Acre, where Baha-Allah died in 1892. He was succeeded, not without a new schism, by his son 'Abbas Effendi, called 'Abdul Baha ('servant of the splendour'), who was born in 1844, on the day on which his father first made known his claim that he was 'he whom God shall make manifest'. He shared the imprisonment of the community at Acre until the revolution of 1908. Thereafter he lived in Acre and in Haifa, and made many missionary journeys in Europe and America, was knighted (1920) and died in 1921. Baha developed the Bahai system, which has pantheistic and gnostic elements, is essentially anti-priestly and seeks to comprise the essence of all true religions. Revelation is held to be not final but progressive. Universal peace, toleration and friendship are essential principles. Bahaism enjoins few prayers and those only on fixed occasions, encourages hospitality and charity, prohibits polygamy, concubinage and divorce, discourages asceticism and mendicancy and directs women to discard the veil and share as equals in the intercourse of social life. It is said that Bahais in Persia exceed half a million in number, and they are found in Egypt, Algeria, Morocco and northern India, converts having been made from Sunnis as well as Shi'as, from Hindus and Sikhs; in Ceylon, China, and even Japan, from Buddhists; and many adherents are to be found in Europe and especially in the United States.
    E. G. Browne, A Traveller's Narrative to Illustrate the Episode of the Bab (1891); M. H. Phelps, Life and Teachings of Abbas Effendi (1903); T. K. Cheyne, The Reconciliation of Races and Religions (1914); J. E. Esslemont, Baha’u’llah and the New Era (1923).

2. Image scans (click image for larger version)

VIEWS3756 views since 2015-07-05 (last edit 2015-07-06 19:35 UTC)
PERMISSIONpublic domain
Home Site Map Links Tags Chronology About Contact RSS