Pari Jan Khanum

One would be hard pressed to find any other person who has suffered more for her religious beliefs than Pari Jan Khanum who was known as the “Angel of Nayriz”. She was a distinguished and celebrated woman in the Bahá'í Communities across Iran. Her life story and sacrifices were well known among the Bahá'ís during her lifetime.

Pari Jan Khanum and her husband Mullá Hassan had two children: Fatimih and Mullá Ali Baba. In a tablet, ‘Abdu'l-Bahá referred to her son as “‘Abdu'l -Samie”, which was also the name of his grandfather.

During the third upheaval in Nayriz, incited by Shaykh Zakaria, the young Pari Jan witnessed the mass slaughter of 18 innocent Bahá'ís, including her husband and her father, which she writes about in her autobiography. As if this were not enough, in addition, their harvests were destroyed and their properties were confiscated.

Soon after the third upheaval, Pari Jan visited ‘Abdu'l-Bahá, Shoghi Effendi and the Greatest Holy Leaf. During her stays in Haifa, she was the recipient of their love and admiration. She received numerous tablets from ‘Abdu'l-Bahá' and from Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith.

Throughout her life, Pari Jan Khanum welcomed friends to her home, showering them with a great deal of love and affection. She would often reminisce in her soft voice about the suffering Bahá'ís endured during the third upheaval. I spent a lot of time with her when I was visiting Nayriz and enjoyed every moment of it. She gave me the book, Faraed by Mírzá ‘Abu'l-Fazel Gulpayegani, the eminent Bahá'í scholar. I read the book several times, asking her many questions. Her grandchildren are my cousins.

In her autobiography Pari Jan wrote the following account of her ordeal in Nayriz:

Six years of happy marriage and good life was suddenly ended by the arrival of a brutal assailant named Shaykh Zakaria. His arrival and the ensuing massacre of 18 Bahá'ís coincided with the internment of the remains of the Báb in Mount Carmel by ‘Abdu'l-Bahá in 1909.

Our days and nights were spent in fear. Five days before Naw-Ruz we left our house and moved next to the Mosque of Jumih – the stronghold of the Bahá'ís and a defensive building of our district. Shortly after Shaykh Zakaria's army ransacked our homes and our district they began to attack the mosque. They destroyed the defence lines of the Bahá'ís.

On the night before Naw-Ruz we were frightened and trembling of the events unfolding in our city while we were hiding in the house close to the mosque. The next day I came out of hiding to find out what was going on in town. A woman, who was a neighbour of ours, approached me crying, I asked her “What has happened?” she told me “They have killed your husband, Mullá Hasan and your father, Mullá Muhammad Ali”. She told me that she has seen with her own eyes how they have killed my husband and my father. I had a six-month-old son and a five-year-old daughter. I left the younger one at home and began to run towards the bazaar district. I saw more than five thousand people running around and some were pulling the body of a naked man with a rope tied up to his feet. I asked “Who is he?” and they told me “He is Mullá Muhammad Ali, your father.”

Soon my mother joined me. There were a few friendly women in the crowd, who recognized us saying, “Are you out of your mind to be here? They are looking for you to kill you!” We had no choice but to run back to our district. We tried to hide in a neighbour's house, but they did not let us in. We tried a few other homes, but nobody would give us shelter. We had no choice, but to flee outside the town and hide in the field amongst the tall bushes. The owner of the field also kicked us out. Then we came across a wall, the two of us climbed over the wall. It was a large orchard and we hid in it. Nighttime fell and we were hungry and scared, it was dark and we were trembling. We could hear the mob screaming while they were hanging my father. Suddenly a friendly man, who was searching for us also climbed over the wall. He told us that he would help us. He gave us shelter that night and for fourteen days we were hiding in his house. Occasionally we would have some food to eat.

When my husband was killed, he was only thirty-three years old. He was a good man, a pure man, and a well-loved man by everyone. They tried so hard to make him recant, but he refused. He told them “I have lived thirty three years in this earthly life, if I recant I may live another thirty years. Do you think that I would deny my Lord for a few years of earthly living? Do you think that I would give up an eternal life for this few fleeting moments?” Three days after my father's death, a friend of his brought the lifeless body down from the tree and buried him next to a river. The way they killed my father was horrible. After they tortured him severely, they cut his body and then they hung him upside down in a tree next to the Mosque of Jumih. A fire was built and his body was burned. For three days his burnt body was left hanging on a tree.

They buried the body in a secret spot. Regarding the significance of the massacre of Bahá'ís during the third upheaval, in a tablet addressed to the Bahá'ís of Nayriz, ‘Abdu'l-Bahá stated that the transfer and internment of the body of the Báb in Mount Carmel required a sacrifice: it was the eighteen Bahá'ís of Nayriz who made the sacrifice.

Pari Jan ascended to the Abha Kingdom at the age of 87.

Tablets to Pari Jan Khanum

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