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Seven Martyrs of Tehran

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The Seven Martyrs of Tehran were seven eminent Bábís who were arrested for their religion, refused to recant, and were publicly executed by beheading in Tehran in February 1850.

The Status of the Martyrs

Regarding the status of the seven martyrs, the British orientalist E.G. Browne wrote:

They were men representing all the more important classes in Persia—divines, dervishes, merchants, shop-keepers, and government officials; they were men who had enjoyed the respect and consideration of all; they died fearlessly, willingly, almost eagerly, declining to purchase life by that mere lip-denial, which, under the name of ketman or takiya, is recognized by the Shi’ites as a perfectly justifiable subterfuge in case of peril; they were not driven to despair of mercy as were those who died at Sheykh Tabarsi and Zanjan; and they sealed their faith with their blood in the public square of the Persian capital wherein is the abode of the foreign ambassadors accredited to the court of the Shah.[1]

The Seven Martyrs

Hájí Mírzá Siyyid `Alí

The first and perhaps the most prominent of the martyrs was Hájí Mírzá Siyyid `Alí, the Báb's maternal uncle. He was an adherent of the Shaykhi school of Islam prior to becoming a Bábí, and many of the merchants of Shiraz knew him for his piety. He was married to a maternal half-sister of the wife of the Báb and had one son, who had died the previous year in Jedda while on pilgrimage. The Báb’s father died while he was a child, and Hájí Mírzá Siyyid `Alí became his guardian as a result. He raised the Báb, supervised his education, and helped him begin a merchanting business in the nearby port of Bushihr.

Hájí Mírzá Siyyid `Alí became a Bábí in 1845 through Quddús, one of the Letters of the Living. He was the only male member of the Báb's family to convert to the new religion in his lifetime. When the Báb was arrested and incarcerated upon returning from pilgrimage, Hájí Mírzá posted bail. The Báb lived in his house until he departed for Isfahan the following year. When the Báb was arrested again, this time in Shiraz in October 1846, Hájí Mírzá was beaten so badly that he was confined to bed for three months. For the next two years, he protected the Báb's wife and mother by concealing all news of his imprisonments and hardships. When the Báb was forced to go to Chihriq, Hájí Mírzá went there to see him. He remained there for only a short while before he was forced to leave. Unable to reach Shaykh Tabarsi before the defeat of the Bábís, Hájí Mírzá subsequently went to Tehran.

While in Tehran, he lived in the house of Muhammad Big Chaparchi, the commander of the Báb's escort to Azerbaijan and a Bábí himself at that point. Hájí Mírzá made this decision even after receiving warnings from Bahá’u’lláh's brother, Mirza Musa, that he had been identified as a Bábí and should therefore leave Tehran to protect himself. Fully aware of potential consequences, Hájí Mírzá remained in Tehran despite Mirza Musa's admonitions and was arrested in February 1850 as a result.

Amir Kabir, then the prime minister of Iran, was his interrogator and asked him to recant, but Hájí Mírzá refused. He was executed for this, but had taken God as his witness that he was to die only because of his religion and not due to any transgression before his demise.

Hájí Mírzá's house was under control of the Bahá’ís prior to the Iranian Revolution of 1979, when it was seized by the government along with other Bahá’í properties.[2]

Mírzá Qurbán-`Alí Bárfúrúshí

Mírzá Qurbán-`Alí Bárfúrúshí was a renowned Sufi master and shaykh of the Nimatullahi order from Bárfúrúsh. His admirers could be found in Tehran, Khurasan, Hamadan, Kermanshah, Mandalij, Mazandaran, and Astarabad. Among them were many members of the royal family, including the mother of Nasser al-Din Shah. He was esteemed for his morality and spiritual character. He lived a simple life on his own accord and always wore a garb or woolen cloak commonly found among dervishes.

Mírzá Qurbán-`Alí became a Bábí in 1845 after meeting Mullá Husayn while traveling from Karbala to Iran. He studied with Vahid Darabi in Tehran - who later led the Nayriz upheaval - and was closely associated with the Bábí community of Tehran. He and other Bábís were able to visit the Báb when he was at Kulayn, near Tehran.

According to Nabil-i-Zarandi and Fazel Mazandarani, two prominent Bahá’í historians, Mírzá Qurbán-`Alí was unable to join the Bábís at Shaykh Tabarsi due to a severe illness, from which he eventually recovered.

He promulgated the Bábí Faith openly and was arrested in February 1850 as a result. Because he firmly held to his belief even under interrogation by Amir Kabir, no one - including Nasser al-Din Shah's mother - was able to intervene on his behalf and save him. Mírzá Qurbán-`Alí told Amir Kabir that his name, which means "sacrifice to `Alí," proved that he was destined to be martyred for `Alí-Muhammad, the Báb. Mírzá Qurbán-`Alí spent his final night chanting poems of mystical love in the prison.

Directly following the execution of the Báb's uncle, he was brought to the Sabza-Maydan, the equivalent of a farmers' market in a public square. On the first attempt, his executioner merely knocked off his turban. Mírzá Qurbán-`Alí then recited this famous verse:

Happy he whom love’s intoxication
So hath overcome that scarce he knows
Whether at the feet of the Beloved
It be head or turban he throws!

Following this, the executioner successfully beheaded him.[3]

Hájí Mullá Ismá‘il Qumí

Hájí Mullá Ismá‘il Qumí (or Farahani) was a Bábí cleric. He was born and raised in Farahan but studied and lived in Qom for several years. He later studied in Najaf and Karbala, where he became a distinguished and knowledgeable Shaykhi, revered for his character. He became a Bábí when Mullá 'Alíy-i-Bastámí, a Letter of the Living and probably the first Bábí martyr, came to the city of Karbala. After involving himself in disputes taking place with the `ulama, Hájí Mullá Ismá‘il set out for Shiraz to meet the Báb. He then travelled to Khurasan and again participated in further disturbances. At the Conference of Badasht in 1848, he received the title of "Sirr al-Wujud", the Mystery of Being. He was a companion of Bahá’u’lláh, Tahirih, and Quddus, as far as Niyala, where the party consequently dispersed. He then went to Tehran, and was unable to be present at Shaykh Tabarsi due to an illness and bitterly regretted this.

At this juncture, Hájí Mullá Ismá‘il lived in the Madrasiy-i Dar al-Shifa, where several other Bábís also lived including Nabil-i-Zarandi and Mulla `Abdu'l-Karim Qazvini. Nabil praised Hájí Mullá Ismá‘il for the eloquence with which he expounded the Qur'an and hadith. He actively taught the Bábí Faith, always carrying an indexed Qur'an in his pocket if he should happen to have come across a receptive person.

When orders were issued to arrest identified Bábís in Tehran in February 1850, Hájí Mullá Ismá‘il happened to be at the house of Mirza Shafi' - the vizier of Tehran - who warned him that his name was on the list and would be tortured and killed following arrest. He went into hiding but was arrested recognized at a public bath. He was chained and imprisoned with the other Bábís, brought to the Sabza-Maydan where he was stoned and cursed by the spectators, and only replied with cheerful words in response. Upon reaching the execution site, Hájí Mullá Ismá‘il gave the executioner some money to buy candy, which he then shared with him. He consequently offered prayers and was executed. [4]

Áqá Siyyid Husayn Turshízí

Áqá Siyyid Husayn Turshízí was a Bábí mujtahid and a native of Turshíz in Khurasan. He conducted his initial studies there and then proceeded to Najaf for advanced study. When he was accepted as a mujtahid there, he decided to return to his native Khurasan to teach. On this journey he met the merchant Hájí Muhammad-Taqí Kirmání, a Bábí acquaintance and to-be fifth of the seven martyrs of Tehran, who had returned from Karbala to Tehran and was awaiting permission to see the Báb. During the journey, Hájí Muhammad-Taqí was able to convince Áqá Siyyid Husayn of the truth of the Bábí Faith. After arriving in Tehran, Áqá Siyyid Husayn met Hájí Mírzá Siyyid `Alí, the Báb's uncle, as well as other Bábís and soon became a confirmed member of the capital's Bábí community.

He was arrested in February 1850. He defended the validity of the proofs delineated to him by the Báb under interrogation. He demanded to be granted permission to debate the `ulama of Tehran by asserting his knowledge and competence, which he stated had been previously certified by the clerics of Najaf and Karabala. However, Áqá Siyyid Husayn had already been sentenced to death as an unbeliever by seven eminent mujtahids of the city in judgments solicited by Amir Kabir.

Hájí `Ali Khán, the Hajib al-Dawla who was there on orders of the Shah, later reported that at the last moment, he was very struck by the youth, beauty, and demeanor of Sayyid Husayn and on impulse offered him a high post in the government and his daughter’s hand if he would renounce his faith. Áqá Sayyid Husayn refused, stating that he preferred to leave the world and its wealth to those who cared for it. Angered, Haji ‘Ali Khan struck him in the mouth and ordered his immediate execution. He died after Mulla Isma‘il Qumi and before his friend Hájí Muhammad-Taqí Kirmání.[5]

Hájí Muhammad-Taqí Kirmání

Hájí Muhammad-Taqí Kirmání was a well-known Bábí merchant. In 1847-48, he travelled from Kirman to make a pilgrimage to Karbala. He became a Bábí through Hájí Mírzá Siyyid `Alí, the Báb's uncle, in Shiraz. As the latter was about to visit the Báb in Chihriq, Hájí Muhammad-Taqí asked permission to accompany him. Hájí Mírzá Siyyid `Alí told him to fulfill his original intention of making pilgrimage to Karbala and to wait there for the Báb’s instructions. As it happened, the Báb considered conditions too dangerous, so Hájí Mírzá Siyyid `Alí wrote him to come to Tehran where they would wait together until conditions allowed them to go to Chihriq.

Hájí Muhammad-Taqí set out for Tehran in the autumn of 1849. In Baghdad he came across a friend, Áqá Siyyid Husayn Turshízí, who had become a mujtahid in Iraq and converted to the Bábí faith after they crossed paths.

Hájí Muhammad-Taqí was arrested and executed in Tehran in February 1850.[6]

Áqá Siyyid Mortezá Zanjání

Áqá Siyyid Mortezá Zanjání was a merchant of Zanjan and the brother of Siyyid Kazim Zanjání, who was killed at Shaykh Tabarsi.

When he was brought to the Sabza-Maydan, Áqá Siyyid Mortezá threw himself on the body of Hájí Muhammad-Taqí Kirmání who had been killed before him and insisted that being a Siyyid, his own death would be more meritorious than that of his friend.[7]

Áqá Muhammad-Husayn Marághi’i

Áqá Muhammad-Husayn Marághi’i (or Tabrizi) was a native of Azerbaijan. He became a Bábí in Tehran through Hájí Mullá Ismá‘il Qumí, for whom he had a deep affection. He was a servant of `Azim, a prominent Bábí in Tehran, and was severely tortured as an attempt to intimidate others. Áqá Muhammad-Husayn neither spoke nor cried out, and because of this the guards thought he was mentally incompetent until Mullá Ismá‘il Qumí told them otherwise.

When Áqá Muhammad-Husayn refused to recant his beliefs, he was sentenced to death with the other Bábís. When he was brought to the Sabza-Maydan and saw the body of his teacher, he hugged it and announced his unwillingness to be separated from his friend. He and the other two remaining prisoners each claimed the right to be executed first. Finally, all three were killed at the same moment.[8]


  1. `Abdu'l-Bahá, A Traveller's Narrative, p. 216
  2. Fazel Mazandarani, Tarikh-i Zuhur al-Haqq, 3:221-25
  3. Malik-Khusravi, Tarikh-i Shuhaday-i Amr, 3:98-104
  4. ibid., 3:104-7
  5. ibid., 3:108-112
  6. ibid.
  7. ibid., 3:112
  8. ibid., 3:113-14


  • `Abdu'l-Bahá, A Traveller’s Narrative Written to Illustrate the Episode of the Bab. Trans. Edward Granville Browne. 2 vols. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1891; vol 2 reprinted: New York: Baha’i Publishing Committee, 1930.
  • Malik-Khusravi, Muhammad-’Ali, Tarikh-i Shuhaday-i Amr ([Tehran]: Mu’assasah-i Milli-i Matbu‘at-i Amri, 130 B.E./1973).
  • Mazandarani, Mirza Asad-Allah Fadil (Fazel). Tarikh-i Zuhur al-Haqq. vol. 3. Tehran, n.d.

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