Historical Background of Bahá'u'lláh's Súratu'n-Nush (Exhortation)

By Husein Ahdieh

First presented at the Irfan Colloquia Session #113
Louhelen Bahá'í School: Davison, Michigan, USA
October 5–8, 2012
(see list of papers from #113)

    In 1850, Nayriz was a sleepy farm town in the Fars province of Iran. Most people tended their farms by day and mingled with family and friends at night under the dim light of kerosene lamps. Life for the inhabitants of Nayriz was peaceful—but it was a stifling peace without any hope, where the future was merely a continuation of the past. On May 27, 1850, Vahíd, a scholarly representative of the Báb, proclaimed the new Prophet's stirring message from the pulpit of a mosque. And Nayriz would never be the same. The sleepy town had been jolted into the painful throes of awakening.

    The presentation covers the tumultuous birth of the Bábí movement in Nayriz and its later evolution into that city's Bahá'í community. In details it will recount the heroic struggles of the Bábís in 1850 and 1853 against the overwhelming forces of Iran's despotic monarchy and the horrific treatment of the survivors, including elderly, women and children. We will cover in depth the story of Vahíd as a spiritual as well as practical leader and as the harbinger of a new way of life to the people of Nayriz. I will also provide a detailed account of the less-known but dramatic upheaval of 1909.

    If Vahíd was to the Nayriz night sky of the middle of the 19th century the brightest star, then Siyyid Ja'far-i-Yazdi must have been the next brightest star in terms of his intelligence, devotion to the Báb and his suffering in the path of God. Siyyid Ja'far-i-Yazdi embraced the claim of the Báb soon after Vahíd arrived in Nayriz and, according to Dawn-Breakers, became the most trusted companion of Vahíd. He was venerated by everybody, including the Governor of Nayriz and his mother. He taught the Bábí Faith throughout Nayriz. His devotion to the Báb, his unprecedented popularity and his influence angered the Governor who was resolved to punish him as an example for others. When Vahíd decided to move to Fort Khajih, he requested Siyyid Ja'far-i-Yazdi to stay behind to continue his teaching and counseling efforts. After the first Upheaval, which began on May 27,1850 ,Siyyid Ja'far-i-Yazdi, Hají Muhammad Taqí another prominent Bábí, and some others were arrested and sent to a dim dungeon in chains. For a period of 9 months the prisoners were tormented and tortured. During the ensuing famine, the Governor's agents would have Siyyid Ja'far-i-Yazdi to stand in the front of food distribution line and had people spit on his face before being served. He was whipped by guards in front of the houses of affluent people while his family was witnessing the torture until somebody in the house would give the guards a few coins. Finally the sympathetic wife of the Governor succeeded in a secret plot to make the prisoners escape Nayriz. Siyyid Ja'far-i-Yazdi then travelled to Baghdad where he met Bahá'u'lláh, lived in Harat and then Yazd where he died.

    He was honored to have received a lengthy Tablet, "Súriy-i-NúSh" as a series of answers to his questions from Bahá'u'lláh. Mr. Afaf Stevens will examine the style, the content and the context of the Súratul-NúSh. He also will study the intent of its Author, Báha'u'lláh, as He addresses one of His prominent believers and survivor of the Nayriz Massacare, Seyyed Ja'far Yazdi

    The presentation is in the audio-visual form which includes numerous tablets, historical pictures, maps etc. to enhance the appreciation of the history of the town.

    (One of Seyyed Ja'far's children, Fatimih Begum, is the great grandmother of my wife Tahirih Misaghi. Adib Taherzadeh, former member of UHJ is another descendant of him.)

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