Letters of Sayyid 'Ali Muhammad Shirazi 'the Báb' to Muhammad Shah Qajar (Part II)

By Sholeh Quinn

First presented at the Irfan Colloquia Session #60
Bosch Bahá'í School: Santa Cruz, California, USA
May 26–29, 2005
(see list of papers from #60)

    The purpose of this paper is to examine the later Tablets of the Báb to Muhammad Shah Qajar (r. 1834-1848), whose reign covered the earlier years of Sayyid `Alí Muhammad the Báb's ministry (1844-1850). The Báb addressed at least four epistles to Muhammad Shah, most of which are in Arabic and one of which is largely in Persian and partly translated in the well-known compilation of the writings of the Báb, Selections from the Writings of the Báb. No fully critical editions of these writings have yet been published, though the texts of most of them are available in manuscript collections.

    The letters that the Báb wrote to the king before his incarceration in Chihriq reflect the changing human circumstances in which the Báb found Himself. They range from early calls for the king to assist Him in waging a universal jihad against the Ottomans and others, to appeals for the king to make sure that the Báb is shown justice. Throughout these pre-Chihriq letters, he still appeared to be giving the king the benefit of the doubt. The situation changes after Chihriq, however, and the paper will focus on those letters of the Báb written to Muhammad Shah after his incarceration there, and compare the contents of the later letters with the themes found in the early letters. The paper will include some discussion of notions of kingship in the Qajar era and the reign of Muhammad Shah.

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