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Bárfurúshí, Muhammad `Alí

by Denis MacEoin

published in Encyclopaedia Iranica, Volume 3
New York: Columbia University, 1989
BĀRFORŪŠĪ, MOLLĀ MOḤAMMAD-ʿALĪ, important figure in early Babism (1239-65/1823-­49). He is generally referred to in Babi sources as Ḥażrat-e Qoddūs or Esm-Allāh al-Āḵer and in Bahai works as Noqṭa-ye Oḵrā (in contrast to Noqṭa-ye Ūlā, a title of the Bāb). Born the son of a fanner in Bārforūš (Bābol), he studied there, in Sārī, and in Mašhad before going to Karbalāʾ in 1256/1840-41, where he studied for some four years under Sayyed Kāẓem Raštī, head of the Shaikhi school. In 1260/1844, he became the last of the group of Shaikhis who accepted Sayyed ʿAlī-Moḥammad Šīrāzī (see bāb) as Raštī’s successor and bāb al-emām. Leaving Shiraz in September, 1844, he accompanied Sayyed Moḥammad-Salī on the ḥajj, returning with him to Būšehr in May, 1845. Bārforūšī went ahead alone to Shiraz, where, following an incident in the Šamšīrgarān mosque, he and two fellow Babis were arrested and expelled from the town. Going to Kermān, he met and tried unsuccessfully to convert Ḥājī Mollā Moḥammad Karīm Khan Kermānī, who was already seeking leadership of the Shaikhi school for himself, after which he returned to Māzandarān, where he remained in comparative seclusion for some two years. In 1847, he went to Mašhad, where Mollā Moḥammad-Ḥosayn Bošrūʾī had already es­tablished an important center for the propagation of Babism, and assisted the latter in his activities there. Following the outbreak of difficulties with the local authorities, Bārforūšī again set off for Māzandarān, where he played a major role in organizing the gathering of leaders of the sect in the village of Badašt, at which the abrogation of the Islamic Šarīʿa and the advent of the qīāma were announced. Following this, he was imprisoned for some time in Sārī, but succeeded in effecting his escape in order to join the Babi defenders at the shrine of Shaikh Ṭabarsī near Bārforūš. Here, he was accorded high honors by Bošrūʾī and his fol­lowers, being regarded as the Qāʾem (Hidden Imam) in person, in tandem with Bošrūʾī himself. According to one source (ʿAbbās Effendi ʿAbd-al-Bahāʾ, Makātīb-e ʿAbd-al-Bahāʾ II, Cairo, 1330/1912, p. 254; cf. p. 252), he even claimed to be God in a work written during this period. Following the surrender of the Babi survivors at Shaikh Ṭabarsī, he was taken to Bārforūš and put to death there on 23 Jomādā II 1265/16 May 1849. His grave there was until recently in the possession of the Bahais, who regard it as a shrine. Few of the apparently voluminous writings of Bārforūšī have survived.

Bibliography : Details may be found in the general historical works listed under Babism; brief biographies exist in M. A. Malek Ḵosravī, Tārīḵ-ešohadā-ye amr I, Tehran, 130 Badīʿ/1352 Š./1973-74, pp. 58-82, 404-14, and passim. Mīrzā Asad-Allāh Fāżel Māzandarānī, Ketāb-e ẓohūr al-ḥaqq III, Cairo, n.d., pp. 405-30. See also idem, Asrār al-āṯār, 5 vols., Tehran, 124-29 Badīʿ/1347-53 Š./1968-74, IV, pp. 477-88. On Bārforūšī’s messianic role, see Ḥājī Mīrzā Jānī Kāšānī, ed. E. G. Browne, Kitāb-i-­Nuqṭatu’l-Kāf,London, 1910, pp. 152, 199, 202.On works by Bārforūšī see D. M. MacEoin, Early Babi Doctrine and History: A Survey of Source Materials (forthcoming). See also Eʿteżād-al-Salṭana, Fetna-ye Bab,ed. ʿA-Ḥ. Navāʾī, Tehran, 1362 Š./1983, index, s.v. M.-ʿA. Bārforūšī.

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