Posted by: samandal | August 20, 2009

Táhirih, II

Díyáfat-i-Asmá’, the Feast of Names

“She was controversial even within the Bábí community, but clearly Bahá’u’lláh was among those men who supported her.”                                                              (Juan Cole: Modernity and the Millennium, page 169)

In January 1850, Táhirih was placed under arrest and transferred to Tihrán. She was kept in close confinement in the Ílkhání Garden until her martyrdom and execution in August 1852: strangled with her own veil, her body thrown into a well, covered with dust and stones, her birth records destroyed. When she faced martyrdom she told her murderous assassins that while they might kill her, they would never be able to stop the emancipation of women. Shoghí Effendí Rabbání, the first Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith, called Táhirih the “first woman suffrage martyr.”

“Say: God sufficeth unto me.”                                                                           (The Báb: Selections from the Writings of the Báb, page 172)

Some Bahá’í scholars have speculated that Táhirih envisaged herself as the temporal envoy of the Eternal Imám, the Remnant of God (Baqíyat’u’lláh), the active spiritual principle that permeates the Holy Maiden; the chosen bearer of the Celestial Virgin who opened the Gate and animated the Báb through her prophetic dreams. The most that can safely be asserted on the basis of the available evidence is that Táhirih came to exercise an independent charisma and authority. Indeed, the Andalusian theologian and jurist Ibn Hazm insisted that prophethood truly is possible for women: he gave the examples of Máryám, mother of ‘Ísá; Ásíyih, wife of Fir‘aun; Sárah, mother of Músá; and Bilqís, Queen of Sheba, as messengers of Alláh. Even Bahá’u’lláh himself accepted the possibility that God might send female Manifestations:

“Know thou moreover that in the Day of Revelation were He to pronounce one of the leaves [female believers] to be the manifestation of all His excellent titles, unto no one is given the right to utter why or wherefore.”                                            (Bahá’u’lláh: Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh, page 185)

After the martyrdom of the Báb, only six of the Hurúfu’l-hayy (Letters of the Living) remained alive. Two of them became inactive, two others defected, one disappeared, and one accepted Bahá’u’lláh and became a Bahá’í: Mullá Báqir Tabrízí outlived all his fellows and died in about 1881 in Istanbul.

“When I was in Badasht, I had seen manifest reverence paid to Bahá’u’lláh by no less than Quddús and Táhirih, and, as a matter of fact, by every person in that great conference.”                                                                                                  (Siyyid ‘Abdu’r-Rahím in Hájí Mírzá Haydar-‘Alí Isfáhání: Bihjatu’s-sudúr, page 10)