by Iraj Aymanpublished in Encyclopaedia Iranica
New York: Columbia University, 2017
VARQĀ, ʿALI-MOḤAMMAD (b. Yazd, 1855; d. Tehran, 2 May, 1896, FIGURE 1), a well-known poet, student of traditional Iranian medicine, and an early follower of Bahāʾ-Allāh, the founder of the Bahai Faith. He was the youngest son of Ḥāji Mollā Mehdi (ʿAṭri) of Yazd. Varqā became a courageous teacher of Bahaism. He was one of the four Hands of the Cause of God (Ayādi Amr-Allāh), posthumously elevated to this rank by ʿAbd-al-Bahāʾ (The Universal House of Justice, p. 446) and one of the 19 Apostles of Bahāʾ-Allāh (Harper, pp. 42-51). He was given the title Varqā (‘dove,’ in Arabic) by Bahāʾ-Allāh in recognition of his poetic talents, and he subsequently adopted this title as his family name, often using it as a pen name (taḵalloṣ) in his poetry.
It is estimated that the collection of Varqā’s poetry is in excess of 6000 verses, of which 3052 verses have been classified and copied (Varqā, p. 488; Afnān, p. 37). Regarded as one of the outstanding Bahai poets of his time, Varqā’s poetic style comprised virtually all structures typical of Persian poetry, including ḡazals, maṯnawis, qaṣidas, and tarkiband and tarjiʿband compositions. The theme common to all of Varqā’s poetry is a testimonial to his dedication and absolute devotion to Bahāʾ-Allāh and ʿAbd-al-Bahāʾ. In this regard, his poetic output is unique and unparalleled inasmuch as the combination of his style and content is not encountered amongst the works of any of his contemporaries (Afnān, pp. 37-38).
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