Bab: Persian Bayan

(1848)

The Persian Bayan is a text written by the Bab (Siyyid ’Ali Muhammad Shirazi), a pivotal figure in nineteenth-century Shia Islamic history; the Arabic word bayan can be translated as “all things,” “divine utterance,” or, more generally, “explanation,” “eloquence,” “expounding,” or “revelation.” The text is one of numerous mystical, prophetic scriptural works the Bab wrote as the leader of a religious movement called Babism, the forerunner of the religion called Baha’i, which today claims about six to eight million members worldwide. Members of the Baha’i faith converted from Babism, whose members are called Babi Azalis. The Azalis (or Babis) adhere to the original doctrines of the Bab, while members of Baha’i follow the teachings of Baha’u’llah, whose real name was Mirza Husayn-Ali and who saw himself as the divine messianic leader whose imminent arrival the Bab predicted.

Today the Baha’i faith holds the writings of the Bab, including the Persian Bayan, in high regard; the...