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TITLEDawn-Breakers: A Study Guide and Outline
CONTRIB 1Brett Zamir, comp.
ABSTRACTSee the actual outline at dawnbreakers/expandedoutlinedb.html.
NOTES This document is also available in Microsoft RTF: zamir_dawnbreakers_study_guide.

For another macro-overview (besides in the Traveller's Narrative or God Passes By outline), see this diagram summarizing the basic progression of the book. Add any comments or links pertaining to the Dawn-Breakers here.

TAGS- Outlines and summaries; Dawn-Breakers (book)
CONTENT For the complete outline, please see the actual outline at,, or download this document in Microsoft RTF.

Click here to jump directly to the condensed or expanded contents for a specific chapter (potentially better as a base page than this one when exploring various chapters at once).

    1) Read the introductory statement which describes the basic purposes of this outline.

    2) Read the introductory notes below explaining how to use this on-line outline.

    3) Jump to the Chapter 1 Condensed Contents View.

    4) Jump to the Chapter 1 Extended Contents View with Summaries.

    5) Jump to the Chapter 1 Cross-References to The Dawn-Breakers and A Traveler's Narrative

    6) Jump to the summary of Shaykh Ahmad's career (the main figure introduced in Chapter 1)

    7) Jump to the Condensed and Extended Contents for the following chapters:
    Intro.1 Intro.2 Preface 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 Epilogue Other Sections
    8) Jump to the actual Chapters of The Dawn-Breakers:
    Introduction Preface 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 Epilogue
    For other sections, see the Contents page.
Introductory Notes:

The first set of links (those of chapter 1 are immediately below) will bring you to a brief summary of that section. These links are useful for testing your memory of each section (just hit the 'back' button on your web browser to come back to this study outline Table of Contents (which also happens to be the Table of Contents for the Dawn-Breakers text itself) and you will be able to get the bird's eye view of the chapter outline/chapter contents again. It can be useful to view this condensed view to help you memorize the sequence of events in the chapter (although it might not clarify clearly enough exactly what happened in the section it summarizes if you are not already familiar with the text (or at least the outline summary) it refers to) (Note: while the text links to the study outline, the page numbers link to the actual text).

The second set of links (which the links immediately below will bring you to (or you can just scroll down the document further to see them) are interspersed with summaries of the section. The links themselves will lead you to the actual text of The Dawn-Breakers. This is useful for gaining a fuller and more accurate picture of actually what was covered in that part of the chapter (though it will be longer and not as convenient for getting a quick summary). It should also more readily uplift you with its inspiring eloquence than just relying on the summaries (even if you could trust them to be wholly accurate in conveying the section's contents).

It is hoped that the quick summaries interspersed between the second set of links will allow you to memorize the contents of that section more readily or put the actions into a dramatic script).

Condensed Contents View

Note: the text below links to the study outline. The page number, however, links to the actual text.


Extended Contents View with Summaries



    1. His departure from Bahrayn to Najaf and Karbilá (on banks of Euphrates) 1
      At age 40, Shaykh Ahmad left to oppose the corruption in Shí'ah Islám at the time, and prepare the people for the immanent Promised Day.

    2. His visit to Najaf and Karbilá 2
      Here, he was declared a mujtahid, and gained authority and followers.

      Taught that the Qur'án contained sciences, he taught figurative interpretation, and praised the Imáms.

    3. His journey to Shíráz 4
      Praised the mosque in and city of Shíráz which bewildered his followers.

      He knew that the Promised One, the Báb, would come from this city.

    4. His stay in Yazd 5
      Memorized the Qur'án at 11, prayers & traditions at 14, and wrote a commentary at 18.

      He was a very gentle and humble person. Was appointed by Shaykh Ahmad as his successor.

    5. His pilgrimage to Mashhad 12
      Continued to prepare the people for the Promised Day.

      He felt it was near.

    6. His triumphal entry into Tihrán 13
      Went with disciples to Tihrán.

      Was praised by the king as a "glory to his nation and people".

      Knew the importance of the birth of Bahá'u'lláh there; he wanted to stay.

    7. His departure for Kirmánsháh 13
      Eldest son of the Sháh begged Shaykh Ahmad to visit.

      Shaykh Ahmad's son Shaykh 'Alí died--called him a sacrifice to the true 'Alí: the Báb.

      A disciple insistently asked about the Word that would cause 313 chiefs of world to flee though Shaykh Ahmad said it would be too much for him--finally Shaykh Ahmad questioned him whether he would deny the guardianship of 'Alí on the Promised Day (if called for) and the disciple's faith was lacking as he said it couldn't happen.

    8. His return to Karbilá 17
      Prepared Siyyid Kázim for his task--Siyyid Kázim only had to wait until '68 (Bahá'u'lláh's declaration).

      Told Siyyid Kázim to pray to be spared from the trials to come-other sanctified souls to come after them

    9. His journey to Mecca and Medina, and his death 18
      Buried near the mausoleum of Muhammad--for Whose Cause he spent his life.

Note: To learn the names in the Dawn-Breakers, it is helpful to break them into parts. For example, Shaykh Ahmad-i-Ahsá'í means a Shaykh (title) named Ahmad from the town of Ahsá. Also, Siyyid Kázim-i-Rashtí is a siyyid named Kázim from the town of Rasht (see the glossary for the meaning of siyyid and other titles).

Shaykh Ahmad-i-Ahsá'í

  1. Oppose corruption that had crept into the followers of Islám
  2. Prepare the people for the coming of the Promised One
  1. Qur'án contained all knowledge and sciences
  2. Figurative interpretation of prophecy
  3. Praised the Imáms, especially 'Alí and Husayn (The Báb and Bahá'u'lláh, respectively)
  1. Was declared a mujtahid in Karbilá
  2. Gained disciples and a wide following
  3. Was praised by and was a guest of the Sháh
  1. Appointed and encouraged Siyyid Kázim

Cross-References for Chapter 1

Regarding the date of the Birth of the Báb (DB 8, 14, and also 70), see TN 4.

Introduction to Dawn-Breakers Outline

This outline is intended as an aid to individual study and as a tool for assisting the development of teaching materials including especially the arts, whether for the development of children's literature focusing on a certain period or episode of the early history of the Faith, for large-scale youth and adult productions in film or on stage, as a basis for inspiration in the visual, graphical, and musical arts, or as an aide in personal recollection of the events for inspiration and teaching. "Feel impelled appeal entire body American believers to henceforth regard Nabíl's soul-stirring Narrative as...source of inspiration in all literary and artistic pursuits..." (Shoghi Effendi, cablegram dated June 21, 1932,Messages to America 1932-1946, p. 1) though "Certainly, the Guardian cannot have intended, when he commended Nabil's Narrative to the friends as a source of inspiration, that there were not other sources by which their imagination could be stimulated." (email on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, dated 10 February 1998)

The outline is based on the Table of Contents contained in the Dawnbreakers . The page number is included next to the heading for ease of reference to the original. It is assumed that the reader will not rely on the outline as a primary source of information, but rather as a tool for gaining the gist of a chapter or section before delving into further study. The summaries of the outline at the end of each chapter are intended as an even more cursory overview of the events that transpired-for use not only in individual study, but also in developing large scale productions which require a survey of all that might occur in the film or play (in a relatively quick glance - though God Passes By summarizes much of this, a separate summary/summaries was thought important since God Passes By does not always include the details of action and dialogue which may be of interest when telling its stories (by whatever medium)).

One useful technique of study is to memorize the structure of the outline and then fill in the details with what one recalls from the reading, perhaps giving a talk on what they have read at Feast (as is encouraged for Bahá'ís to give; note: youth are particularly encouraged to give speeches) or some other Bahá'í meeting or just rehearsing the sequence to oneself. 'Abdu'l-Bahá encourages the holding of special weekly meetings called "spiritual meetings" (now training institutes) for instructing youth in, among other things, the early history of the Faith (see compilation Bahá'í Meetings the Nineteen Day Feast and The Importance of Deepening our Knowledge and Understanding of the Faith for more on these "spiritual meetings"). Shoghi Effendi names study outlines as a tool that may be used in connection with study through centers of Bahá'í learning. Whether as part of a local spiritual meeting or as a regional training course, such outlines can be of use.

For some of the longer chapters, I have included multiple outlines-of differing detail. The most detailed outline can be of use in referring to events mentioned in the Table of Contents but not necessarily sufficient to conjure up all its details (e.g., "Account related by Siyyid Husayn-i-Yazdí") whereas the briefer summaries will probably be of greater use for memorizing or planning a general sequence of events.

God willing, summaries of multiple chapters (e.g., 5 and/or 10 chapters) and a whole book summary (including authentic ones from Promulgation of Universal Peace, etc.) may be added in the future to meet different study or artistic purposes.

In the case of referents, it should be clear by the context who is intended: by the use of capital letters for references to the Báb, Bahá'u'lláh, or other Prophets, by the mention of a name in the preceding heading, or by a continued reference to a particular individual.

Viewing history from a strict time sequence, from a character's time sequence (especially useful for actors/actresses), from a location (historical atlas for a site, person, the Cause), etc., can help anchor the events in one's memory, as well as can items found relevant for teaching and deepening (e.g., demonstration of virtues by a character's behavior in certain events).

Correlation of The Dawn-Breakers to God Passes By (and ideally also to A Traveler's Narrative)

For the references to God Passes By listed in the Other Summaries of this Chapter sections, one might wish to add these references to the paragraph in question in the Dawn-Breakers (and God Passes By).

Further works/additions

God willing, summaries of multiple chapters (e.g., 5 and/or 10 chapters) and a whole book summary (including authentic ones from Promulgation of Universal Peace, etc.) may be added in the future to meet different study or artistic purposes.

Summaries of the periods of history contained herein might be correlated with excerpts from Promulgation of Universal Peace, Memorials of the Faithful, etc.

An added/corrected index (especially of the characters) would be most useful.

A time chronology would also be useful in such a study.
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