Iran: Provinces of Mázandarán and Gurgán
by Moojan Momen1994
Mázandarán forms the eastern half of the southern littoral of the Caspian sea. It has a semi-tropical climate and lush vegetation along the coastal strip rising to the Elburz mountains in the south. The Mázandaráni dialect is very distinctive.
Quddús (q.v.) the leading disciple of the Báb came from Bárfurúsh in Mázandarán. After accompanying the Báb on the pilgrimage to Mecca, Quddús returned to his native town where he remained for some two years building up the Bábí community. Bahá'u'lláh was active in propagating the religion of the Báb in his home district of Núr. Most of the larger towns and many villages such as Bihnamír came to have important communities. The episode of ShaykhTabarsí (q.v.) was perhaps the most important event in this province during this period. Some 36% of the Bábí participants were from Mázandarán (Momen 164).
In 1852, just before the attempt on the life of the Shah, Azal (q.v.) left Tehran for Núr where he tried to organize an uprising to co-incide with the attempt. This failed leading to the deaths of many Bábís and the looting of the houses of many villagers by an army detachment sent to deal with the episode.
After the Shaykh Tabarsí and Núr episodes, the Bábí community of Mázandarán faced a difficult decade. Many of them were known to the population as Bábís. Their position in Bárfurúsh would have been much worse had it not been for the protection of Hájí Mullá Muhammad Hamzih Sharí`atmadar, one of the prominent `ulamá of the town (RR 100-101, 182-3). After him, his son and grandson, who succeeded to his religious leadership, also protected the Bahá'ís, while another son, Shaykh `Abdu'l-Karím, and a son-in-law, Shaykh Muhammad-Taqí Mu'ayyidu'l-Islám, became Bahá'ís during the time of `Abdu'l-Bahá. Lutf-`Alí Khán Salár Kalbádí who lived near Bandar Jaz and in Sárí was an influential landowner and military commander who was a Bahá'í and also able to protect the Bahá'ís until his death in 1933.
In villages such as Bihnamír where there had been many Bábís, a number of the notables of the village became Bahá'ís and were able to protect the community. In Máhfurúzak, Mullá `Alí Ján was the religious leader. When he became a Bahá'í, he was able to convert some 1500 in the village and its vicinity before he was arrested and sent to Tehran where he was executed on 23 Sha`bán 1300/29 June 1883. His wife, `Alaviyyih Khánum, continued his work. A number of Lúrí tribesmen who migrated to Mázandarán at the time of the famine of 1288/1871 and settled in Bábul became Bahá'ís.
After the passing of Bahá'u'lláh, Áqá Jamál Burújirdí travelled through Mázandarán trying to enlist the support of the Bahá'ís there for Mírzá Muhammad `Alí but to little avail. Much more serious were the effects of the Constitutional Revolution of Iran upon the Bahá'ís of this province. Mírzá Muhammad-`Alí Mushíru't-Tujjár, Áqá Muhammad-Ismá`íl Amínu't-Tujjár and Áqá Muhammad Sá`at-Sáz were killed in Sárí and two others in the surrounding villages in January 1912 during the disturbances of the Constitutional Revolution. In Bábul, Mír Muhammad-`Alí Mu`ínu't-Tujjár and his wife were killed at about the same time.
Bahá'í schools were set up in the towns of Bárfurúsh and Sárí and also in the village of Bihnamír.Gurgán
Gurgán is a separate province to the east of Mázandarán. There were a number of Bahá'ís in Astarábád and Bandar Jaz. Mírzá Áqá Mírzá Javád I`timádu't-Tujjár was a prominent Bahá'í of Bandar Jaz. In 1336/1917, a new mujtahid arrived in the town and issued a death sentence against all of the Bahá'ís and Áqá Mírzá Javád was killed in a general assault on the Bahá'ís. Another prominent Bahá'í was Mírzá `Alí-Akbar Khán Maní`u's-Sultán (d. 1335/1915) who was head of the customs.Holy Places
There are a large number of Bahá'í holy places in Mázandarán. Among them are: the House of Bahá'u'lláh at Tákur; the mosque and school in Ámul where Bahá'u'lláh was imprisoned and suffered the bastinado; the shrine of Shaykh Tabarsí; the grave of Quddús at Bárfurúsh and the Sabzih-Maydán of Bárfurúsh where he was martyred.
There are several manuscript histories of the Shaykh Tabarsí upheaval: Mírzá Abú-Tálib-i-Shahmírzádí, Áqá Mír Muhammad-Ridá Shahmírzádí, Lutf-`Alí Mírzá, Siyyid Husayn-i-Mahjúr, Hájí Nasír-i-Qazvíní. The manuscript of the last named has been published as an addendum to Samandar, Táríkh-i-Samandar. See also Malik-Khusraví, Táríkh-i-Shuhadáy-i-Amr, vols 1 & 2. Mírzá Fadlu'lláh Nizámu'l-Mamálik Tákurí has written a history of Núr. See also Malik-Khusraví, Iqlím-i-Núr. ZH 3:405-453; 6:975-992; 8b:800-881. M. Momen, "Social Basis of the Bábí Upheavals in Iran (1848-53): a preliminary analysis", International Journal for Middle East Studies 15 (1983) 157-183. See also EB 288-308.