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What does Afnán mean?

In the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, the term 'Afnán' is used to refer to the maternal family of the Báb. A definition is given in the following Tablet, revealed in honor of the martyred Mírzá 'Alí-Muhammad Varqá (d. 1896):

In response to your question about the meaning of the terms 'Aghsán' and 'Afnán', when the Supreme Pen hath mentioned the Afnán, We have intended the descendants of the Primal Point. Verily, in this Dispensation, all have been summoned to the Most Exalted Horizon and guided to the Most Great Ocean. At the beginning of Our Days, a special prayer was revealed for the Afnán, which ordained that they would be faithful to the Manifestation of God and recognize Him. God willing, they will arise to fulfil what hath been decreed for them and will remain firm and steadfast in the Cause of God. Blessed are those whom We have called by this name, Afnán. Verily, the sweet fragrance of the All-Merciful hath been wafted from them. Moreover, We have established them as twigs of Our own Tree. Verily, this is Our favor upon them. We beseech God to protect them from the traces of the pen and the veils of knowledge. We have bestowed this gift on some in the Book, the contents of which are concealed from all save the Lord of Creation. Soon what hath been ordained for them by the Almighty, the All-knowing, will appear. (Fayzí, Khándán Afnán, pp. 10–11.)

The term 'Afnán' is the plural of the word fanán, which in Arabic refers to a straight and verdant branch. In the Qur'án's Surih of Rahmán (the Merciful), the term was used to describe the celestial dwelling of the righteous. This dwelling has two heavenly trees, one of which is called 'the Afnán.' (Qur'án 55:46–47) Similarly, Islamic Traditions refer to a firm branch.

The first genealogy of the Báb's family was offered at the beginning of The Dawn-Breakers by Shoghi Effendi.

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