The Pure One
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The Calling: Tahirih of Persia and Her American Contemporaries
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Who Was Tahirih?


Born in the 19th century in Quazvin, Iran, the woman who would come to be known as Tahirih [The pure one], was called Zarrin-Taj [Crown of Gold], by her family. Her father, Mullah Salih, as well as her uncle Mullah Taqui, were respected Ullamahs[Religious Leaders] And though it was against the Islamic law of Iran to educate a woman, Zarin-Taj's father taught her, and she showed signs of intelligence equal to that of the more learned in the land. Zarrin-Taj would later defy her father and uncle, as well as the government, in order to follow the Babi faith, which has grown into what we know today as the Baha'i faith.

Her Education

Showing signs of nobility and intelligence beyond her sex indeed , even beyond that of most men -- Zarrin-Taj soon asked her father if she could sit and listen with the men who came to argue religious doctrine when he taught in the Mosque [Muslim religious temple] . Her father allowed her to listen, if she would sit behind a curtain and keep quiet so as not to reveal her presence. Eventually she would be allowed both to listen and to speak from behind this curtain, and her station became known throughout Quazvin.

The New Prophet

After being married to her Uncle Taqui's son, Mullah Muhammad, Zarrin-Taj gave birth to three children. It was after this that she discovered a book among those of one of her cousin's that had been written by Siyad Qazim, who spoke of a prophet that was to come, and of the new role of women in upholding the faith. She began corresponding with him, and he gave her the name Quaratyl-Ain[Solace of the Eyes]. Quaratyl-Ain left her family behind and traveled to meet Siyad Qazim to the sacred city of Karbilah, where she found that he had died before she could reach him. His family allowed her to look through his things, and she began, from behind a curtain, to preach his words to his followers, and to develop her own beliefs on the faith. It was during her time in Karbilah that Quaratyl-Ain met the Bab[Litterally, "The Gate"], a man from Shiraz whom she believed to be the New Prophet for a New Age. Following the Bab and joining the Babi faith, Quaratyl-Ain was branded along with him as a heritic, and forced to leave Karbilah. On returning home, she met with the opposition of her family. When her Uncle Taqui was murdered by a Babi zealot who had not fully comprehended the Babi doctrine of compassion and understanding, it gave the government officials an excuse to arrest her, accusing her of plotting the act.


The Conference at Badasht

On hearing that the Bab had been taken captive Quaratyl-Ain, with the aid of her other uncle, Mullah Ali, escaped house arrest in the home of her father to meet with all the principal Babi teachers at the Iranian city of Badasht. It was here that Baha'u'llah, the prophet for whom the Baha'i faith is named, took charge of the faith. It was also here that Quaratyl-Ain recieved the name Tahirih, The Pure One, and more importantly, where she appeared in public without her veil on, in direct defiance of Muslim law.

The End

In the period that followed the conference at Badasht many Babis turned away from the faith while others grew stronger in supporting it's broad views. The Islamic government of Iran began a persecution of Babis that continues with the Baha'is today, though not on the same scale. Torturers would stab the Babis, leaving them alive and placing burning candles in their open wounds. Tahirih was finally captured and strangled to death with her own scarf.

Interview in English with Bahiyyih Nakhjavani, author of
The Woman Who Read Too Much (not published in English yet)