Accounts of the Constitutional Revolution in Iran have tended to ignore the role of the Baha’is. They educated people about the reforms envisaged and about the modern world, for which they were persecuted.
published in Iranian Studies, 41:3, pages 343-363 2008-06
About: Accounts of the Constitutional Revolution in Iran have tended to ignore the role of the Baha’is in that event. This paper looks at the case of Sari, capital of Mazandaran province, where the Baha’is of the city played a major part in initiating the move towards Constitutionalism and in educating people about the reforms envisaged and about the modern world. They also led the way in carrying out some of these reforms. In particular, the Baha’is established the first modern schools in the town. In this process, they were opposed by the Muslim ‘ulama in the town, who equated Constitutionalism and the Baha’i Faith, and persecuted the Baha’is of the town relentlessly for both reasons, leading eventually to the killing of five of the leading Baha’is of Sari in 1913. A brief account is also given of the attitude of the Baha’i leader ‘Abdu’l-Baha (1844–1921) towards the Constitutional Movement and the role of the Baha’is in it. This paper follows the events of the seven years 1906–13 in Sari and describes seven swings of the pendulum of power in the town alternating between the Baha’is and Constitutionalists on the one hand and the ‘ulama and the royalist forces supporting Muhammad ‘Ali Shah on the other. It points out that the neglect of the Baha’i aspect of these events by historians has led to a failure to account adequately for some of the events of these years.