This book is a collection of Persian documents about the Babis (and later, the Baha’is) of Iran. It consists mostly of rare official correspondence covering the period between 1852 and 1872, when the remnant of the leadership of the nascent Babi community resided in exile in the Ottoman Empire, first in Baghdad and then in Edirne and eventually in the port of Akka in Palestine. Most documents in the collection are from Ghasim Ghani Collection at the Sterling Memorial Library in Yale University. Others were gleaned from variety of sources.
These documents reveal important details about the Qajar state’s treatment of the Babis and its suspicions and fears toward them. It documents repeated attempts by officials and diplomats to silence Babi-Baha’i voices, restrain the ties with coreligionists in Iran, and efforts to persuade the Ottoman authorities to relegate them to farther locations away from Iran. They also throw important light on the inner dynamics of the Babi leadership, the place Mirza Husain-‘Ali Nuri, better known as Bahaullah, held within the Babi community almost from the outset of the Baghdad period and the painful schism that eventually divided the community into the majority Baha’is and the minority Azali Babis. They also reveal the part played by the celebrated statesman Mirza Hosain Khan Moshir al-Dowleh, then the Iranian ambassador to the Ottoman Sublime Porte. Naser al-Din Shah Qajar and a number of Iranian and Ottoman officials also prominently appear in these documents.
All the correspondence in this volume are annotated so as to provide the necessary historical details. The Preface and the Introduction also offer a broader context about the political and cultural history of the period and the nature of the documents.