Tahirih
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Martyrdom



Martyrdom of Tahirih by Ivan Lloyd


House of Kalantar in Tehran, used as prison for Tahirih before her martyrdom


Garden where Tahirih was martyred

Tahirih was captured in 1852, along with other Babis and was imprisoned in Tehran under house arrest. Still she taught this new religion, which included the principle of the equality of men and women. Many of the women of Tehran came to learn from Tahirih, and the Cause of the Bab continued to spread. The end of her teaching came in the same year ,when she was sentenced to death by the Shah. Her reply to this sentence was, "You can kill me as soon as you like, but you cannot stop the emancipation of women."

Dressed in white silk, she had prepared for her death with fasting and prayers. She was strangled with a silk handkerchief and then thrown into a well, later filled with stones and dirt. Her death is described by `Abdu'l-Baha in Memorials of the Faithful:

". . . she was sentenced to death. Saying she was summoned to the Prime Minister's, they arrived to lead her away from the Kalántar's house. She bathed her face and hands, arrayed herself in a costly dress, and scented with attar of roses she came out of the house. They brought her into a garden, where the headsmen waited; but these wavered and then refused to end her life. A slave was found, far gone in drunkenness; besotted, vicious, black of heart. And he strangled Tahirih. He forced a scarf between her lips and rammed it down her throat. Then they lifted up her unsullied body and flung it in a well, there in the garden, and over it threw down earth and stones. But Tahirih rejoiced; she had heard with a light heart the tidings of her martyrdom; she set her eyes on the supernal Kingdom and offered up her life. Salutations be unto her, and praise. Holy be her dust, as the tiers of light come down on it from Heaven."

Such was the life of one of the foremost women in Baha'i history. E.G. Browne of Cambridge University said:

"The appearance of such a woman as Tahirih in any country and in any age is a rare phenomenon, but in such a country as Iran it is a prodigy - nay, almost a miracle. Alike in virtue of her marvelous beauty, her rare intellectual gifts, her fervid eloquence, her fearless devotion, and her glorious martyrdom, she stands incomparable and immortal amidst her countrywomen. Had the religion of the Bab no other claim to greatness, this were sufficient—that it produced a heroine like Qurratu'l-Ayn. (another of the titles given to Tahirih meaning 'Solace of the Eyes')."

From Dr. Jakob Polak quoted in The New Zealand Star, Issue 9525, 24 April 1909, Page 2:

"I was witness of the martyrdom of Karrattu'l Ayn, who was murdered by the Minister of War and his adjutants. The beautiful woman endured a lingering death with superhuman fortitude."