Iran: Province of Qazvín
by Moojan Momen
This province lies to the north-west of Tehran on the important road between Tehran and Tabriz. The area is populated by a mixture of Ádharí Turks in the villages and Persians in the towns, predominantly Shi`is. It is an important agricultural area but towards the east of this province there is increasing reliance on irrigation as the climate becomes drier.
The Bábís of Qazvín sprang from a strong Shaykhí community that had existed here previously, despite the opposition of Shaykh Muhammad-Taqí Baraghání, the uncle and father-in-law of Táhirih. Three of the Letters of the Living were from Qazvín. The Bábí community appears to have been well organized under the leadership of such persons as the Farhádí family and Nabíl-i-Qazvíní. The assassination of ShaykhMuhammad-Taqí Baraghání in 1847 prompted the first major outbreak of persecution of the new religion on Iranian soil. As a consequence, the first Bábí martyrdom in Iran occurred and Táhirih (q.v.) was imprisoned.
In the aftermath of the persecutions of 1848-52, the situation in Qazvín was rather chaotic. The Bábís had split into a number of factions: one group followed Mullá Hádí Qazvíní, the Letter of the Living; one group regarded Karbalá'í Muhammad Hasan-i-Fatá, a merchant, as the successor of Táhirih and followed him (on this man, see Samandar 273-4, 287; on his links with Táhirih, see DB 294); another group followed Mullá `Abdu'r-Rahím (presumably the same person as is referred to in Samandar 138-142, 231-2); some called themselves Bayánís; while another group called themselves A`yánís (statement of Nabíl Zarandí in ZH6:525 - presumably the Bayánís did not follow any particular leader while the A`yánís are the ones mentioned above who followed Qurratu'l-`Ayn's - i.e. Táhirih's - representative - although A`yán is not in fact the correct plural for `Ayn in this sense). A number of the leading Bábís of the town accepted Bahá'u'lláh's claim when it first became known in early 1282/1865-6 and became Bahá'ís. These included such figures as Nabíl Qazvíní and his son Shaykh Kázim Samandar, Hájí Nasír, a survivor of Shaykh Tabarsí, and Áqá Muhammad Javád Farhádí.
Of the factional groups, Muhammad-Hasan-i-Fatá eventually became an Azalí as did Mullá Hádí Qazvíní, while Mullá `Abdu'r-Rahím became a Bahá'í. However, despite the strong initial base, the Azalís diminished in importance. Áqá Mírzá Yahyá Sarráf, the son of the Azalí leader Muhammad Hasan-i-Fatá, after discussions with the Bahá'ís of Qazvín decided to travel to Cyprus and `Akká to investigate the truth for himself. He returned a Bahá'í (ZH6:540; Samandar 277-287). Another Azalí of Qazvín, Siyyid Javád, became a Bahá'í in Láhíján (EB 62-4). By the time that he was writing his history in 1332-3/1913-4, ShaykhKázim Samandar reported that there were no Azalís left in Qazvín (Samandar 289).
Among those who became Bahá'ís later in Qazvín were Mírzá Hasan-i-Vá`iz whose open preaching of the new religion caused him to be driven from one town to another; Mírzá Muhammad-`Alí Kad-khudá, who was the cousin of Mírzá Husayn Khán Mushíru'd-Dawlih, the Prime Minister; and Hájí Munis, a Sufi who became a Bahá'í succeeded in converting several other Sufis. Mullá `Abdu'r-Rahím acted as a judge and religious authority in several of the villages around Qazvín. Through this work, he succeeded in converting a number of the villagers of Kakan. It was also from Qazvín that the new religion spread to Láhíján and Rasht (see "Gilán").
Compared to the intense early persecutions of the Bábís in this area, there were comparatively few episodes during the later periods. In 1883, when there was a major persecution of Bahá'ís in Tehran, some of the Bahá'ís of Qazvín, such as Shaykh Kázim Samandar, were harassed and their property destroyed.
Initially the followers of Mírzá Muhammad-`Alí were strong in Qazvín following the death of Bahá'u'lláh. Áqá Jamál Burújirdí, whose wife was from Qazvín, and Mírzá Muhammad-Javád Qazvíní had strong connections in the town, and Samandar's daughter, Thurayyá, was married to Diyá'u'lláh, the brother of Mírzá Muhammad-`Alí. But through the efforts of Ibn-i-Abhar and Hájí Mírzá Haydar- `Alí, the situation was turned in `Abdu'l-Bahá's favor. Samandar visited `Akká in 1317/1899 and subsequently wrote a tract supporting `Abdu'l-Bahá that was published in Egypt.
In 1324/1908, the Bahá'ís of Qazvín founded the Tavakkul School under the directorship of Hájí Ibrahím-i-Vá`iz and with the financial support of Mírzá Músá Hakímbáshí and Mírzá Ridá Khán-i-Taslímí. Among the teachers at this school was Mírzá Muhammad Labíb who played a prominent role in promoting Esperanto in Iran and also founded the Nawnahálán company which became a national Bahá'í institution to encourage saving among the Bahá'í children.
Samandar, Táríkh-i-Samandar, Tehran: Mu'assisih Millí Matbú`át Amrí, 131B.E./1974. ZH 3:301-389; 6:525-559; 8a:600-29.