Táhirih Discovers The Báb
Updated: Sep 2, 2019
Part 2 of a 4 part summary
Táhirih (The Pure One) was born Fátimah Umm-Salmá in the city of Qazvín in 1817, to one of the most respected and powerful families in Persia (Iran). She was the daughter of Muhammad Sálih Barághani, a prominent Muslim scholar, who was also head of a large household in which Islamic law was strictly observed. And so it came as a great surprise when he allowed his daughter to not only study academics and the arts, but to also study the Koran with him.
In those days, especially in that part of the world, females were seen as inferior, and were forbidden by law to study the Holy Book. But in recognizing his daughter’s brilliant and curious mind, he broke with tradition and allowed her an education. At a time when most women were kept illiterate and ignorant, Táhirih, barely into her teens, was highly educated in theology, law, Persian literature, poetry, and Islamic studies. Her father’s associates believed her to be a child prodigy (genius) and held her in high esteem for her intelligence and beauty. They were amazed by her ability to memorize the Koran and to explain its verses with scholarly insight and clarity.
She was also an accomplished writer and poet, and expressed her deep love for God through her poems. However, at the age of fourteen, because she was a female, her father had no choice but to follow custom, and forced her to marry Mullah Muhammad Barághani, the son of her uncle. The marriage resulted in three children, two sons and one daughter, however, it was an unhappy union. While Táhirih had become widely known and sought out for her knowledge, beauty and poetry, such fame was regarded as undesirable in a wife. Her husband, displeased by her boldness, tried to dominate her, and ordered her to stop her literary pursuits.
But Táhirih, unstoppable in her search for knowledge, corresponded with well-known scholars, including a religious teacher named Siyyid Kázim, who resided in the city of Kárbilá. She was fascinated by his writings, particularly by his belief that a new Messenger of God would soon be revealed. It was a most courageous act for a young woman of that era, but in her quest for spiritual truth she left her home and family in 1843, at the age of twenty-six, and set out to travel to Kárbilá to meet Siyyid Kázim. Sadly, he passed away before her arrival, but she discovered that before his death he shared with his disciples a message pertaining to the imminent arrival of the promised “One”. Among his last words were
“Go forth and seek out your Lord.”
Inspired by this final message, Táhirih entered a period in which she fasted by day and engaged in prayer and meditation at night. One such night when it was nearing dawn, she laid her head on her pillow, and dreamed of a youth wearing a black cloak and a green turban. He appeared to her in the heavens, standing in the air, reciting verses and praying with his hands upraised. Even in her dream-like state, she memorized one of those verses, and wrote it down in her notebook when she awoke. It was a most powerful dream, and Táhirih prayed and meditated about its meaning.
When she heard about the Báb, Who had recently proclaimed that He was the Prophet of a New Revelation of God on May 23, 1844, she was curious to read His Writings. She rejoiced when she came across a section of the Báb’s text with the exact verse from her dream. Instantly offering thanks to God, she fell to her knees and bowed her forehead to the ground, convinced that the Báb was the new Messenger of God, as prophesied by Siyyid Kázim and the Holy Books of all the world religions of the past.
She sent the Báb a message, which said, “The effulgence of Thy face flashed forth, and the rays of Thy visage arose on high. Then speak the word, ‘Am I not your Lord?’ and ‘Thou art, Thou art! We will all reply.’”
Even though they never met, the Báb recognized her purity of soul after receiving her note, and appointed her as the only woman among the Letters of the Living, which was a special title He gave to His eighteen apostles.
Táhirih’s spirit was on fire. She traveled from village to village, bringing a message of hope and inspiration to the people as she explained the teachings of the Báb. She chanted her beautiful poetry, and by her words and deeds she promoted His teachings. Her courage and piety served as beacon of light for the emancipation of women.