The Diary of Mullá Muhammad Shafí

Mullá Muhammad Shafí-i-Nayrízí was an eyewitness as a child of 12 to the upheavals of 1850 and 1853 in Nayríz. He was encouraged by Bahá’u’lláh in Baghdad to write a history of those tumultuous events, in which many hundreds of believers yielded their lives and possessions in the path of the new Faith. Shafí meticulously recorded his recollections and the accounts of other survivors of those bleak days in a diary. The Shafí Diary has been used as the primary source for Hussein Ahdieh’s new book on the upheavals in Nayríz, AWAKENING: A History of the Babí and Bahá'í Faiths in Nayriz.

Nabíl-i-A’zam later used the first third of the Shafí diary as the basis for the chapter that details the events of the 1850 Nayríz upheaval in his masterwork The Dawn-Breakers. However, Nabíl does not recount the history of the 1853 Nayríz upheaval but instead refers the reader to the Shafí diary. So the diary complements The Dawn-Breakers in recounting the heroic history of the Nayríz Bábís.

I would refer my reader to the graphic and detailed account which Mirzá Shafí-i-Nayrízí has written in a separate booklet, in which he refers with accuracy and force to every detail of that moving event. (Nabíl, The Dawn-Breakers, p. 644)

Read Shafí's Diary

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More About Shafí and the Impetus for the Diary

Mullá Muhammad Shafí was born in 1843 CE (1259 AH) to a family in Nayríz long known for its learning and devotion to God. His family embraced the Bábí Faith through the efforts of Vahíd-i-Dárábí, a respected Islamic scholar who, himself, had been transformed by the innate erudition and divine presence of the Báb.

Shafí’s grandfather, Mullá ‘Abdu’l-Husayn, was a close friend of Vahíd. Upon learning of Vahíd’s impending arrival in Nayríz in the spring of 1850, Mullá ‘Abdu’l-Husayn set out with his five sons, three brothers, and a large entourage from the Chinár-Súkhtih quarter of Nayríz to meet Vahíd and welcome him. The group encountered Vahíd in Rúníz, 60 kilometers from Nayríz. Upon hearing Vahíd announce the advent of the Báb, the group enthusiastically accepted the new Faith. During the subsequent months of upheaval in 1850, ‘Abdu’l-Husayn and his sons stood shoulder to shoulder with Vahíd, supporting his plans and efforts to defend the Bábí Cause and exemplifying great courage in the face of danger. ‘Abdu’l-Husayn was the first believer to be injured in battle, and his son Mullá Alí Taqí, Shafí’s uncle, was martyred.

Three years later, in 1853, a pogrom was unleashed against the Bábís of Nayríz forcing ‘Abdu’l-Husayn, his sons and their families to join several hundred fellow believers in the nearby mountains to defend themselves and their nascent Faith. The family showed great strength and dauntless courage in the face of privation and battle. ‘Abdu’l-Husayn’s remaining four sons, including Shafí’s father, perished.

Mullá ‘Abdu’l-Husayn (then 80 years old), Shafí, and Shafí’s young mother were taken prisoner along with hundreds of other Bábís by a heartless enemy. The unfortunate captives were sent to Shíráz as a gift for the feasting governor of the region. Paraded before them were the heads of their loved ones, impaled on spears. The women were thrown into dungeons, and the men sent on to Tihrán to face accusations before the royal throne. Mullá ‘Abdu’l-Husayn died along the way in the village of Sádát-Abad as a result of the hardships of the journey and old age. The guards decapitated him and left his body in a ditch. His head along with those of over 200 other martyrs were ultimately buried in Abadih.

Eventually Shafí and his mother were released from prison--the sole survivors of their entire family, defenseless and alone. Fortunately the Imám-Jum’ih of Shiraz was an old family friend and took young Shafí under his care and provided for his education. Thanks to his perseverance and innate gifts, Shafí excelled in his studies and after a number of years was appointed Imám-Jum’ih of Masjid-i-Jamí-Kabir in Nayríz. This was the same mosque where in 1850 Vahíd proclaimed the message of the Báb from the pulpit.

Over time Shafí gained the trust and sympathy of the people of Nayríz and consequently was able to protect the Bahá’í community form its enemies. Nayríz blossomed as a center of Bahá’í activity with many teachers passing through the region and Shafí providing for their comfort and needs. Shafí’s demonstrable dedication and effectiveness brought him deep and widespread admiration. He received many Tablets from Bahá’u’lláh and was permitted to attain the presence of the Blessed Beauty in Baghdad. It was then that he committed the events of the Nayríz upheavals and persecutions to ink and paper.

Shafí's Biography

Tablets to Shafí

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