The Persian Bayan (‘Explanation’)


The Persian Bayān (‘Explanation’) is one of the principal works of Sayyid ‘Ali Muhammad Shirazi, known as the Bab.

Who was the Bab?

The Bab was the title taken by Sayyid ‘Ali Muhammad Shirazi (1819–1850). Viewed by Baha’is as having paved the way for Baha’u’llah, in 1844 he experienced a series of revelatory visions after which he pronounced himself to be the bāb (‘gateway’) of the Mahdi, the Hidden Imam of Twelver Shi‘ism. In July 1848 he was brought to Tabriz and put on trial before the Crown Prince and the senior clerics of the city. At this trial, the Bab openly declared himself to be the Imam Mahdi, the one that Shi‘a Muslims were awaiting. With the accession to the throne in 1848 of Nasir al-Din Shah (r. 1848–1896), and the appointment of a new prime minister, persecution against the Bab and his followers intensified resulting in the Bab’s execution in 1850.

The Bayān

It was in prison in Maku, Azerbaijan, either in the last half of 1847 or the first few months of 1848 that the Bab wrote the Persian Bayān. It contains the laws and fundamental teachings of the new religion with frequent references to ‘He whom God shall make manifest’, a messianic figure foretold by the Bab. The work consists of nine units (vāḥid) but was deliberately left unfinished. Arabic versions of the Bayān also exist in addition to the Persian work illustrated here.

Full title:
The Persian Bayān (‘Explanation’)
19th century
Bāb (né ʻAlī Muḥammad Shīrāzī)
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Held by
British Library
Or 5760

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