Iran: Province of Fárs
by Moojan Momen1994
Fárs is the principal province of south-east Iran. The capital of the province is Shiraz, the native city of the Báb, and also of many famous poets, mystics, and philsophers, such as Háfiz, Sa`dí, and Mullá Sadrá. This city was for a brief time in the eighteenth century the capital of the founder of the Zand dynasty Karím Khán-i-Vakíl, who built many of the large public buildings of the city. The province is very dry, especially in its western half but agriculture is engaged in with the help of irrigation. There are many nomadic tribesmen particularly in the west.
Shiraz witnessed the birth of the Bábí movement. The Báb was born and brought up in the city (see "Báb, Birth of the"). He first declared his mission to Mullá Husayn-i-Bushrú'í there on the eve of 23 May 1844 (see "Báb, Declaration of the"). The Letters of the Living gathered in Shiraz in the summer of 1844 until they were sent out by the Báb to spread the news of his claim. The Báb himself left on pilgrimage to Mecca on 10 September 1844 (26 Sha`ban 1260), returning to Búshihr on 15 May 1845. He then sent ahead of him his leading disciple, Quddús (q.v.), who brought to Shiraz the Báb's instruction that there was to be an addition made to the call to prayer (adhán). When Mullá Sádiq-i-Muqaddas (q.v.) tried to carry this out, he, Quddús, Mullá `Alí-Akbar Ardistání, and Mullá Abú-Tálib were seized, severely beaten and expelled from the city.
The governor of Shiraz, Husayn Khán, sent for the Báb in Búshihr and he was arrested on the Búshihr to Shiraz road. Back in Shiraz in June 1845, the Báb was set free with his uncle Sayyid `Alí as guarantor. After a short time he was summoned to the Masjid-i-Vakíl, the principal mosque in Shiraz, to make a public recantation. His words on that occasion were sufficient to satisfy the authorities but he did not say anything that would contradict his later full claim to be a Manifestation of God and the episode resulted in a number of further conversions among the citizens of Shiraz. From further afield a number of others who had heard of his claims came to investigate, among the most important of whom was Sayyid Yahyáy-i-Dárábí Vahíd (q.v.), who was asked by Muhammad Sháh to investigate the matter, and the representative of Mullá Muhammad-`Alí Hujjat (q.v.), one of the religious leaders of Zanján. On 23 September 1845 the Báb was rearrested on the orders of the governor but because of the outbreak of cholera in the city was able to leave for Isfahan.
There was also a strong Bábí community in some of the other towns and villages of the province, most notably Nayríz (q.v.). The conversion of some one-third of the town of Nayriz was the result of the activity of Vahíd (q.v.).
The first to bring the news of Bahá'u'lláh's claim to Shiraz was Nabíl-i-A`zam. But Bahá'u'lláh was already held in high regard there as a result of the Kitáb-i-Íqán which he had written for the uncle of Báb, Sayyid Muhammad, and which was widely circulated among the Bábís (Afnán 164-5). The whole of the maternal family of the Báb became Bahá'ís as did the family of Hujjat-i-Zanjání who had been sent to Shiraz after the end of the Zanján upheaval. It was not long before all of the Bábís in Shiraz had become Bahá'ís. Visits from such figures as Hájí Muhammad-Ibrahím Muballigh and Nabíl-i-Akbar confirmed this and resulted in new conversions. In the towns and villages of Fárs, the story was the same, except for Hindíján from where one of the Bábís, Mullá Husayn went to Basra and met Sayyid Muhammad Isfahání, Azal's associate. Through this link, the majority of the Bábís of Hindíján became Azalís. But after a few years, most of these had returned to Islam and ShaykhSalmán was then able to establish a Bahá'í community there.
In Nayríz the Bahá'í community consolidated itself, but the town became sharply segregated into Bahá'í and Muslim quarters and in such a divisive atmosphere new converts were difficult to find. The Bahá'í Faith spread to Ábádih through the conversion of three of its inhabitants who were undertaking religious studies in Isfahan. There they met Mírzá Asadu'lláh and through him Mírzá Muhammad-Hasan Sultánu'sh-Shuhadá and were converted. Simultaneously, Dá'í Husayn of Ábádih who had been a secret believer for some years moved to Ábádih to form the nucleus of a community that was to expand rapidly. Small groups of Bahá'ís were soon to be found in a number of other towns and villages such as Bavanát, Zarqán, Chinár, Himmatábád, Sarvistán, Fasá, Jahrum, and Bandar `Abbás.
Several episodes of persecution occurred. The main clerical opponents of the Bahá'ís were ShaykhHusayn, known to Bahá'ís as Zálim (the tyrant), and Sayyid `Alí Akbar Fálasírí. It was the former who brought about the execution of three Bahá'ís in 1286/1869 (ZH 6:858-61; Afnán 191-219). It was the latter who authorized the death of two others in 1307/1889 and one in 1310/1892 (ZH 6:874-6; Afnán 279-282, 296-7). These clerics were countered to some extent by Shaykh Abú-Turáb, the Imám-Jum`ih, and his son and successor, Hájí Shaykh Yahyá, who tried to mitigate the effects of these persecutions as far as they could.
Another enemy of the Bahá'ís was Abu'l-Hasan Khán Mushíru'l-Mulk, despite the fact that one of his wives, the daughter of Hujjat Zanjání (q.v.), was a Bahá'í. In 1283/1866, for example, he produced a list of "Bábís" and gave it to Hisámu's-Saltanih, the new governor, and asked for their arrest (ZH 6:857-8; Afnán 184-190). His enmity was, however, mainly political. He was the head of one of the factions in Shiraz, the Haydarí-khánih, and his life-long enemy was `Alí Muhammad Khán Qavámu'l-Mulk, the head of the rival faction, the Ni`matí-khánih. Because Qavámu'l-Mulk was friendly towards the Bahá'ís, Mushíru'l-Mulk opposed them. The production of the list by Mushíru'l-Mulk was calculated to embarrass Qavámu'l-Mulk who as Kalántar (mayor) was responsible for public order. Qavámu'l-Mulk persuaded the governor that it would be unwise to arrest such a list of prominent citizens on no evidence. Towards the end of his life, under the influence of Sayyid Ismá`íl Azghandí, Mushíru'l-Mulk moderated his attitude, and even wrote to Bahá'u'lláh. The friendship of the Qavámu'l-Mulk family towards the Bahá'ís was, however, also based on political expediency and was fickle. At the time of the Constitutional Revolution, Muhammad-Ridá Khán Qavámu'l-Mulk sided with Muhammad-`Alí Sháh and the reactionaries. He ordered the people of Shiraz to assemble in the Masjid-i-Naw and there he denounced the Constitution as the work of the Bahá'ís and produced a copy of the Kitáb-i Aqdas from which he quoted as evidence of this (Afnán 533-540). But it was the Bahá'ís of Nayriz who suffered most during the Constitutional Revolution when eighteen of their number were killed by Shaykh Zakariyyá in 1909 (see "Nayríz Upheavals").
Among the prominent Bahá'ís of Shiraz were many from the earliest Bábí period such as Khadíjih Bagum, the wife of the Báb (q.v.), Zahrá Bagum, her sister, whose son, Áqá Mírzá Áqá, and descendants were appointed by Bahá'u'lláh as the hereditary custodians of the House of the Báb (q.v.), and other members of the Afnán family; Shaykh `Alí Mírzá, a nephew of the Imám-Jum`ih; Hájí Abu'l-Hasan Bazzáz; Mírzá Muhammad Báqir Khán (the progenitor of the Dihqán family) and Mullá `Abdu'lláh Fádil; and from a later period, Mírzá Áqá Khán Bashíru's-Sultán, who rose to high office in the post office (the progenitor of the Bashír Iláhí family); Mírzá Ja`far Hadioff who migrated to Ashkhabad; and Mírzá Husayn Khán Mu`tamid-Diván. From Zarqán there was Mírzá Mahmúd Zarqání, who accompanied `Abdu'l-Bahá on his western journeys and Mullá `Abdu'lláh Baká; from Istahbánát, Mírzá Yúsif Khán Lisán Hudúr who was a nephew of Vahíd; from Burázján, ShaykhMuhammad Ibráhím Fádil-i-Shírází (d. 1936); from Ábádih, Mírzá Qábil (d. 1355/1937); and in Nayríz, Mullá Muhammad-Shafí`. Along the Gulf littoral, several Bahá'ís achieved prominent positions: in Bandar `Abbás, Sultán Muhammad Khán Abu'l-Virdí Shírází was governor for a time, Mírzá Hasan `Alí Khán was head of the post office, and Muhammad `Alí Khán Sadídus's-Saltanih also held high government office; in Búshihr, Sa`du'l-Mulk and his brother Sa`du's-Saltanih were Bahá'ís and the former was governor for a time; Mírzá `Alí Muhammad Khán Muvaqqaru'd-Dawlih worked for the Foreign Office in Búshihr and was later governor of that town.
After the death of Bahá'u'lláh, Hájí Husayn `Alí Jahrumí was the principal supporter of the claims of Mírzá Muhammad-`Alí in this area but failed to gather any significant support even in Jahrum itself.
Bahá'í schools were established in Shiraz, Ábádih and the Mitháqiyyih school in Nayríz. In Ábádih, the Bahá'ís also built public baths.Holy Places
For Bahá'ís the principal holy place in this province is the site of the House of the Báb in Shiraz (see "Báb, House of, Shiraz"), which has been designated by Bahá'u'lláh as one of two sites in the Bahá'í world for ritual pilgrimage (q.v., hajj). The rebuilding and restoration of the House of the Báb in 1903 caused much opposition particularly from Sayyid Muhammad Kázirúní, a mujtahid who lived opposite the house. He had threatened one day to return with a mob to destroy the house but died that same night from an attack of colic. Also of importance as holy places are the House of Siyyid `Alí, the uncle of the Báb, where the Báb grew up; the Masjid-i-Vakíl in Shiraz, to which the Báb was summoned to recant; the Masjid-i-Ílkhání and public baths, which the Báb frequented; the Qahviy-i-Awliyá, where the Báb went to school; the shop of the Báb at Búshihr; the house of Vahíd and the fort of Khájih at Nayríz; and the Hadíqatu'r-Rahmán in Ábádih, where the heads of the Nayríz martyrs were buried.
Habíbu'lláh Afnán, Khátirát, photocopied mss in Afnán Library. A number of accounts of Nayríz and the Bábí upheavals there exist: in manuscript, by Mírzá Muhammad Shafí` and Shaykh Muhammad Husayn; and published, by Mírzá Shafí` Rawhání, Lamá`átu'l-Anwár and Muhammad `Alí Faydí, Nayríz-i-Mishkbíz. For Ábádih: manuscript history by Qábil Ábádi'í. Also: ZH 3:263-301; 6:855-899; 8a:540-600.