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Ibn Asdaq, missionary and martyr

by Stephen Lambden

published in Encyclopaedia Iranica, Volume 7
New York: Columbia University, 1996
EBN AṢDAQ, MĪRZĀ ʿALĪ-MOḤAMMAD (b. Mašhad 1267/1850; d. Tehran, 1347/1928), prominent Bahai missionary. He was given the honorific designation Ebn(-e) Aṣdaq in certain Bahai scriptural writings. Toward the end of his life Bahāʾ-Allāh counted him a living martyr and referred to him as Šahīd ebn-e Šahīd (“martyr, son of a martyr”). He was a son of the Šayḵī, Bābī and Baha’i Mollā Ṣādeq Moqaddas-e Ḵorāsānī (d.1306/1889), who was entitled Esm-Allāh al-Aṣdaq by the Bāb. The father was posthumously referred to as one of the Ayādī-e Amr-Allāh (“Hands of the Cause of God”) by ʿAbd-al-Bahāʾ in 1919, and Ebn-e Aṣdaq was so designated by Bahāʾ-Allāh around 1305/1887. Around 1278/1861-2, he was imprisoned with his father for over two years in the Sīāh Čāl (dungeon) in Tehran. During this time he was attended by the Jewish physician Ḥakīm Masīḥ, who was subsequently converted and is often considered to be the first Jewish [Bābī] Bahai. As a Bahai missionary, Ebn-e Aṣdaq visited many parts of Persia, Iraq, India, Burma, and Caucasia, as well as Ashkhabad and Marv. He was a permanent member of the first Central Spiritual Assembly established at ʿAbd-al-Bahāʾ’s direction in Tehran in 1316/1897. During his lifetime he frequently visited Bahāʾ-Allāh and ʿAbd-al-Bahāʾ in Palestine. The latter entrusted him with various tasks such as the presentation of his Resāla-ye Sīāsīya (“Treatise on Politics” written in 1311/1893) to Nāṣer-al-Dīn Shah, to contemporary religious authorities, and to Persian notables. His wife, ʿAd¨rāʾ Ḵānom Żīāʾ-al-Ḥājīa, a great-granddaughter of Moḥammad Shah, was the sister-in-law of Enteẓām-al-Salṭana, a socially prominent Bahai. In 1919 ʿAbd-al-Bahāʾ gave him and Aḥmad Yazdānī the responsibility of delivering his Tablet addressed to the Central Organization for a Durable Peace, The Hague(Lawḥ-e lāha). Shoghi Effendi reckoned Ebn-e Aṣdaq the nineteenth of the nineteen Apostles of Bahāʾ-Allāh.

Bibliography : ʿAbd al-Bahāʾ, Memorials of the Faithful, tr. M. Gail ,Wilmette, Ill., 1971, pp. 5-8 (Esm-Allāh al-AsÂdaq). ʿAbd-al-ʿAlī ʿAlāʾī, ed., Moʿassesa-ye Ayādī-e Amr-Allāh, Tehran, 130 Badīʿ/1973-4, pp. 465-93. Hasan Balyuzi, Eminent Baháʾís in the Time of Baháʾuʾlláh, Oxford, 1985, pp. 171-176. Mīrzā Asad-Allāh Fāżel Māzandarānī, Tārīḵ-e ẓohūr al-ḥaqq VI, MS in Afnān Library (England), fols. 34 -37, VIII/1, Tehran, 131 Badīʿ/ 1974, pp. 375-77. M. Momen, ed., “Esslemont’s Survey of the Bahāʾī Community, 1919-1920, pt. 1: Iran by Ibn-i Aṣdaq and ʿAzīzuʾllāh Varqā,” Bahāʾī Studies Bulletin 1/1, June 1982, pp. 2-10. ʿAzīz-Allāh Solaymānī, Maṣābīh-e Ḥedāyat VII, pp. 374-418 (Esm-Allāh al-Aṣdaq), Tehran, 129 Badīʿ/1973. Shaikh Kāẓem Samandar, Tārīḵ-e Samandar o molḥaqāt, Tehran, 1975, pp. 163-71. Adib Taherzadeh, The Revelation of Baháʾuʾlláh IV, Oxford, 1987, pp. 301-04.

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