Táhirih’s Heroism Largely Unknown

Conference of Badasht
Táhirih teaching at Badasht. © Ivan Lloyd. BahaiFaithArt.com.

In an age when women were little more than property in what was then called Persia, a female poet and mother challenged a highly patriarchal society and gave humanity a glimpse of little-seen faith and courage. Her story, then, should not be lost to history.

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Táhirih. © Ivan Lloyd.

She was born Fátimih Baraghání, later named Táhirih (Arabic, “The Pure One”) by Bahá’u’lláh, the Founder/Messenger of the Bahá’í Faith.

Married at the too young age of 13, Táhirih became a follower of a newly founded religion: the Bábí Faith, which was founded by The Bab (Arabic, “The Gate”) .

“The Báb is the Herald of the Bahá’í Faith,” according to the Bahá’í International Community’s website . “In the middle of the 19th century, He announced that He was the bearer of a message destined to transform humanity’s spiritual life. His mission was to prepare the way for the coming of a second Messenger from God {Bahá’u’lláh}, greater than Himself, who would usher in an age of peace and justice.”

To teach the newfound faith which inspired her, Táhirih eventually made her way to Karbila, Iraq.

Táhirih teaching in Baghdad. © Ivan Lloyd. BahaiFaithArt.com.

“After some of the Shi`ah clergy complained, the government moved her to Baghdad,” according to Bahaikipedia, a wiki that features information about the Bahá’í Faith. “There she started giving public statements teaching the new faith, and challenging and debating issues with the Shi`ah clergy. At this point the authorities in Baghdad argued with the governor that since Táhirih was Persian, she should instead be arguing her case in Iran, and the authorities escorted Táhirih and a number of other Bábís out of Baghdad to the Persian border.”

She was later moved to Tehran under house arrest.

“After the Báb’s arrest in 1848, Bahá’u’lláh made arrangements for Ṭáhirih to leave Tehran and attend a conference of Bábí leaders in Badasht,” according to Bahaikipedia. “She is perhaps best remembered for appearing in public without her veil in the course of this conference signaling that the Islamic Sharia law was abrogated and superseded by Bábí law. One of the conservative male Bábís is recorded to have ripped his own throat open at seeing he unveiled. It was at the Badasht Conference that she was given the title Táhirih by Bahá’u’lláh. …

© GlennFrancoSimmons.com.

“After the Conference of Badasht, Táhirih was arrested by officials and imprisoned in Tihrán. Despite the fact that Táhirih had made herself great allies and a wave of followers, she had made many enemies particularly the clergy. {She} earned respect from women around Tihrán who flocked to see her. …”

Her life was in a precarious state, especially when, in 1852, two mentally unstable youths tried to assassinate the Sháh of Persia. The attempt gave the government the excuse to blame the Bábís, including Táhirih, and to ruthlessly persecute the followers of this new religion.

Portrait of Tahirih
Táhirih. © Ivan Lloyd. BahaiFaithArt.com.

“On hearing the news that she was to be killed, Táhirih was said to have been fearless,” Bahaikipedia notes. “When the day came she washed, prayed, dressed herself in a white gown and adorned herself with expensive perfume. … Táhirih was led into a garden to be killed, but the men seemed to have been too scared to do so. Instead, they found a drunk who viciously strangled her with a scarf. Her body was thrown into a well and stones thrown on top of it.”

Before she was martyred, she turned to the men and said, “You can kill me as soon as you like, but you cannot stop the emancipation of women.”

“The Sháh of Persia, who offered to marry her, was said to have experienced genuine grief over her death,” according to Bahaikipedia. “She was 35, and the mother of three children. Notwithstanding her short life, Táhirih soon won renowned not only in Persia but outside too. Her legendary valor even reached Europe.”

Táhirih teaching by Ivan Lloyd. ©  BahaiFaithArt.com.

“Even today, her poems are widely read in Persia by non-Bahá’ís who deny her,” according to the Bahá’í International Community. “She is often used in Persia as an example of female emancipation and feminism. Persian scholar Azar Nafisi said on PBS’s NewsHour on October 10, 2003: ‘The first woman to unveil and to question both political and religious orthodoxy was a woman named Tahireh who lived in early 1800s… And we carry this tradition.’”

Image of a 9-pointed star © Glenn Franco Simmons. Quote used with the permission of the Bahá’í International Community. More 9-pointed stars with Tahirh quotes are available on my website. Inspired image of Táhirih by Ivan Lloyd of Bahai Faith Art. It is used with his permission.

Note: This is not an official view of the Bahá’í Faith. It represents only my understanding.


Blossoms scattered by wind

Cherry Blossoms
Blossoms are scattered
by the wind and
the wind cares nothing,
but the blossoms
of the heart
no wind can touch.
~ Yoshida Kenko

“Yoshida Kenko (1284 – 1350) was a Japanese author and Buddhist monk,” according to Wikipedia. “His most famous work is Tsurezuregusa (Essays in Idleness) ~ one of the most studied works of medieval Japanese literature. Kenko wrote during the Muromachi and Kamakura periods.”

Photo copyrighted by GlennFrancoSimmons.com.