Baha'u'llah's Mansions

This is an archived post from the old bulletin board. For new posts, see the forum.

Posted by Stuart Gilman ( on October 15, 2003 at 17:21:34:

Having found this scholarly essay - WELL REFERENCED bAHA'I SOURCES) on Baha'u'llah I was surprised by the last paragraph as it was a different version of my (mis)understanding than prior. Discussing it with another Baha'i I was equally surpirsed that she was not suprised and asserted that the paragraph was true and that it is well accepted. I present it here for commentary and illumination. Thank you.

"A Brief Biography of Baha'u'llah

Juan R.I. Cole

Department of History

University of Michigan

".... Baha'u'llah had by 1873 already been permitted to move out of the Akka prison, and to rent a dwelling in the town. When they arrived in Syria, the Baha'is had been suspected by local Authorities of being nothing but anarchists and criminals. Gradually, Baha'u'llah's uprightness and high ideals changed the minds of officials, and only once, when some of the rougher Baha'is murdered three Azalis who were spying on the Baha'is for the Ottoman state, was this rapprochement interrupted. baha'u'llah had attempted to instill a Pacifist ethos in the Babi community, and deeply regretted the incident. In 1877, the local Ottoman governor gave him permission to live in a mansion outside
Akka, at Mazra`a. In 1879 he moved to another mansion, at Bahji (literally the "small garden," Bagce, in Turkish), where he lived until his passing in 1892. Baha'u'llah married three times, first Asiyih "Nuvvab" Khanum in his youth, then his cousin, Mahd-i `Ulya, whose family had been martyred; he had a number of
children with each of these co-wives, in accordance with Middle Eastern customs of the time. In Baghdad he married Gawhar Khanum (the latter appears to have been a pro forma temporary marriage [mut`ah] of a sort required of Shi`ite law where a man had a live-in maid, and Gawhar Khanum had been brought into the
household in the Shi`ite Karkh district in order to serve Asiyih Khanum). He had only one child, a daughter, with Gawhar Khanum). Baha'u'llah's eldest son and vicar, `Abdu'l-Baha, later Interpreted the Most Holy Book to require monogamy. Baha'u'llah had altogether fourteen children from his three wives, including four daughters. Five of his sons predeceased him. As noted, he appointed his eldest son, `Abdu'l-Baha, ashis successor and the official interpreter of his religion after his death, and he also provided for the election of local houses of justice and a world-wide Universal Houseof Justice to govern community affairs. Baha'u'llah died of a fever in `Akka on 29 May 1892, at the age of 74."

(Qazvini, tr., pp. 45-65; Dahaji, pp. 285-91; furtherbiographical details in Balyuzi, Baha'u'llah King of Glory, passim).

Muhammad "Nabil-i A`zam" Zarandi, The Dawnbreakers: Nabil's
Narrative (Wilmette, Ill.: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1970);

`Abdu'l-Baha', A Traveller's Narrative, ed. and tr. E.G. Browne, 2 vols. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1891);

Muhammad `Ali Salmani, My Memories of Baha'u'llah,
trans. Marzieh Gail (Los Angeles: Kalimat Press, 1982);

Mirza Jawad Qazvini, "Historical Epitome," trans. in E.G. Browne, ed., Materials for the Study of the Babi Religion (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1919);

Sayyid Mihdi Dahaji, "Risalih," University Library Cambridge, Browne Collection, Or. F. 57;

Shoghi Effendi Rabbani, God Passes By (Wilmette, Ill.: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1970; H.M. Balyuzi, Baha'u'llah, King of Glory (Oxford: George Ronald, 1980);

J. Cole, "Baha' Allah," Encyclopedia Iranica (Boston: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1988), vol. III, pp. 422-29;

J. Cole, "Iranian Millenarianism and Democratic Thought in the Nineteenth Century," International Journal of Middle East Studies 24 (1992): 1-26.

[NN above = Nabil's Narrative; TN = A Traveller's Narrative]

this topic is closed - post at