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Ibn Abhar, Hand of the Cause

by Stephen Lambden

published in Encyclopaedia Iranica, Volume 7
New York: Columbia University, 1996
EBN ABHAR, MOḤAMMAD-TAQĪ (1270-1337/1854-1919), Bahai teacher and one of the “hands of the cause” (see AYĀDĪ-E AMR-ALLĀH). He was one of two Bahai sons of Mirza ʿAbd-al-Raḥīm Eṣfahānī (d. 1290/1872), the Shiʿite mojtahed, a crypto-Babi and Bahai, and Belqīs Ḵānom. His zealous Bahai teaching in Zanjān, Qazvīn, Tehran, Yazd, Kermān, and elsewhere led to his frequent imprisonment, for the first time in 1295/1878. At various times resident or imprisoned in Abhar, between Qazvīn and Zanjān, he was entitled Ebn(-e) Abhar (“son of Abhar”) by Bahāʾ-Allāh in about 1300/1883. Around 1305/1887 Bahāʾ-Allāh appointed him one of the “hands of the cause.” Ebn(e) Abhar was imprisoned in Tehran in 1308-12/1890-94, and because he was chained with the same heavy chain that Bahāʾ-Allāh had worn in 1268-69/1852, the latter referred to him as his “chainmate” (ham-zanjīr). He became a permanent member of the first Central Spiritual Assembly established in Tehran at ʿAbd-al-Bahāʾ’s direction in 1314/1897. In 1316/1899, on the advice of ʿAbd-al-Bahāʾ, he married Monīra (d. 1326/1918), a daughter of a “hand of the cause,” ʿAlī-Akbar Šahmīrzādī. As a Bahai teacher, he visited Turkey and the Caucasus and lived for a while in Ashkhabad. He went to India in 1325/1907 accompanied by Mīrzā Maḥmūd Zarqānī and two American Bahais, Harlan Ober and Hooper Harris. In 1331/1913 he settled in Tehran. He visited Bahāʾ-Allāh or ʿAbd-al-Bahāʾ on more than ten occasions. He and his wife were active supporters of female education and emancipation.

Bibliography : ʿA. ʿA. ʿAlāʾī, ed., Moʾassasa-ye Ayādī-e Amr-Allāh, Tehran, 130 B.E./1973, pp. 402-49. H. Balyuzi, Eminent Baháʾís in the Time of Baháʾuʾlláh, Oxford, 1985, p. 268. Ebn-(e) Abhar [as told to his nephew Faḵr-al-Dīn], “The Story of Ebn Abhar,” Star of the West 13/12, March 1923, pp. 333-39. A. Fāżel Māzandarānī, Tārīḵ-e ẓohūr al-ḥaqq VI, Bahá’í World Center MS, fols. 329ff.; VIII/1, Tehran, 131 B.E./1974, pp. 321-27. M.-Ṭ. Mālmīrī, Tārīḵ-e šohadā-ye Yazd, Cairo, 1343/1924, p. 80. Idem, Ḵāṭerāt-e Mālmīrī, Hofheim-Langenhain, Germany, 149 B.E./1992. K. Samandar, Tārīḵ-e Samandar o molḥaqāt, Tehran, 1975 pp. 236-43. A. Taherzadeh, The Revelation of Baháʾuʾlláh IV, Oxford, 1987, pp. 304-12.

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