Qá'ení, Shaikh Mohammad-ʿAli
by Minou Foadipublished in Encyclopaedia Iranica
New York: Columbia University, 2005
QĀʾENI, Shaikh Moḥammad-ʿAli (b. Now Ferest, a village near Qāʾen, 3 Moḥarram 1277/20 July 1860; d. Ashkabad, April 1924), prominent Bahai apologist and director of the Bahai school in Ashkabad.
His father, Mollā Ḥosayn, a Bahai, was brother of Nabil-e Akbar Moḥammad Qāʾeni. Soon after completing his studies in Islamic sciences in Madrasa Diniya in Mashhad, he converted to the Bahai religion and became a close companion of his uncle until his death. Upon instruction of ʿAbd-al Bahāʾ, the leader of the Bahai community, he traveled to many areas in Persia, India, Russia, and Egypt to deal with problems created by dissident Bahais and to promulgate the Bahai religion, which he did successfully among religious leaders and notables. In 1903, on his way to India, on the instigation of Azalis (Solaymān, p. 359; see also AZALI BABISM), he was attacked and badly beaten by a mob in Isfahan, stripped of his possessions, and incarcerated for four months.
In 1905, while visiting Haifa, ʿAbd-al Bahāʾ asked him to go to Ashkabad to undertake the task of teaching Bahai children and youth. He moved there and remained as teacher and director of the Bahai school until his death in 1924, except for the period that he was working with others on the completion of Abu’l-Fażl Golpayegāni’s manuscript of Kašf al-ḡeṭāʾ, which had been sent to Haifa after his death in January 1914. This book was intended as a response to Noqṭat al-kāf (Browne), which Bahais believed contained historical errors. ʿAbd-al Bahāʾ asked Qāʾeni to go to Haifa, where he charged him to assist Sayyed Mahdi Golpāyegāni, Abu’l-Fażl’s nephew, to bring the unfinished manuscript to completion under the supervision of Mirzā Moḥammad-Taqi (Ebn Abhar), an eminent Bahai. This was done in Tehran in eight months (1915), where Moḥammad-ʿAli Qāʾeni together with Ebn Abhar, Mirzā Moḥammad Naʿim, and Shaikh Kāẓem Samandar gathered and extracted materials and Sayyed Mahdi completed the manuscript. Sayyed Mahdi acknowledged in the introduction to the book the crucial role of Qāʾeni in their concerted effort to finish it (Solaymāni, pp. 377-78; Golpāyegāni, pp. 3-10). Qāʾnei died in 1924 and was buried in the Ashkabad Bahai cemetery, next to his uncle’s grave.
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