Mírzá Abu'l-Fadl Gulpáyegání
by Moojan Momenpublished in Encyclopaedia Iranica, Volume 1
New York: Columbia University, 1985
ABU’L-FAŻL (or ABU’L-FAŻĀʾEL) GOLPĀYEGĀNĪ, MĪRZĀ MOḤAMMAD, prominent Bahaʾi scholar and apologist. He was born in Jomādā II, 1260/June-July, 1844 in Golpāyegān, the son of Mīrzā Moḥammad-Reżā Šarīʿatmadār. After studying traditional Islamic sciences at Karbalā, Naǰaf, and Isfahan, he proceeded, in October, 1873 to Tehran, where he soon became head of Madrasa-ye Ḥakīm Hāšem, also known as Madrasa-ye Madār-e Šāh.
After his conversion to the Bahaʾi faith in September, 1876, Abu’l-Fażl was dismissed from his post and imprisoned for five months. He then became secretary to Mānakǰī Ṣāḥeb, the Zoroastrian agent, and was involved in the production of the Tārīḵ-e ǰadīd (of Mīrzā Ḥosayn Hamadānī, tr. E. G. Browne, Cambridge, 1893; see pp. xxxiii-xlii). In December, 1882, together with numerous other Bahaʾis of Tehran, Abu’l-Fażl was arrested. He was interrogated repeatedly and imprisoned for twenty-two months and again for six months before being released in February, 1886. Thereupon he began a series of journeys to promote the Bahaʾi faith, visiting Qom, Kāšān, Isfahan, Yazd, Tabrīz, Hamadān, and Kermānšāh. In July, 1888, he went to ʿEšqābād and later to Samarqand and Bokhara, where he discovered the only extant manuscript of Ḥodūd al-ʿālam (see Ḥodūd al-ʿālam, tr. Minorsky, pp. xlii-xliii). In 1894 he spent ten months in Acre meeting ʿAbd-al-Bahāʾ, who then sent him to Egypt, where he succeeded in converting a number of students of al-Azhar. Between 1900 and 1904, he traveled to Paris and the United States, where his writings and talks enabled the nascent American Bahaʾi community to obtain a clearer understanding of their faith. He then lived in Egypt and Beirut until his death in Cairo on 24 Ṣafar 1332/21 January 1914.
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