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Book Review

Awakening: A History of the Bábí and Bahá’í Faiths in Nayriz
By Dr. Hussein Ahdieh and Hillary Chapman
Publisher: Bahá’í Publishing

Awakening is a history of the Bábí and Bahá’í Faiths in Nayriz. Written by Dr. Hussein Ahdieh and Hillary Chapman, the book’s purpose is to bring to life, in words and images, the heroism and suffering of the early believers who resided there and to show the ultimate victories that grew from their sacrifices.

Epic histories like the Dawn-Breakers by Nabíl and God Passes By by Shoghi Effendi give a summary description of the persecution of the Nayriz Bábís. Awakening puts the reader in the middle of the events and highlights the heroes and villains.

Nayriz had three major conflicts. In 1850, Vahíd declared the Báb’s mission from the pulpit of the Júmih Mosque in Nayriz. Many of the people responded to the Announcement by swearing allegiance to the Báb and Vahíd. The rest of the town considered them infidels and attacked them. The Bábís under Vahíd’s leadership took refuge in Fort Khájih and valiantly defended themselves for four weeks with inadequate arms against the overwhelming forces of the Persian Empire.

Like many Nayriz Bahá’ís, Dr. Ahdieh’s ancestors embraced the Bábí Faith and fought alongside Vahíd and ultimately experienced martyrdom. The author grew up hearing stories of their heroism and sacrifice. His reason for writing Awakening was to make sure that the suffering of the brave Bábí and Bahá’í men and women of Nayriz is not forgotten.

In 1853, a new wave of persecutions was unleashed on the surviving Bábís. They took refuge in the mountains and again heroically defended themselves against overpowering forces. And this time the women participated, serving as lookouts and defending water supplies. The Bábís were eventually defeated. Those taken prisoner, mostly women, children, and old men, were death-marched from Nayriz to Shiraz along with the decapitated heads of their menfolk and thrown into prison.

One of Dr. Ahdieh’s ancestors, named Shafí, was on that march. He was a young boy but remembered vividly the horrific events and later recorded them at the request of Bahá’u’lláh. As a part of the research for the book, Dr. Ahdieh had the diary translated. The diary can be found on the Website

Again in 1909, during a period of chaos in Iran, another deadly campaign targeted Nayriz Bahá’í community. 18 people were martyred.

The early believers in Nayriz knew their share of suffering. But they also experienced advances and victories. The surviving Bábís and their children and grandchildren went on to build a flourishing Bahá’í community in Nayriz. Three men from Nayriz were present in the Holy Land when the remains of the Báb were put to rest. Nayriz has sent forth many Bahá’í teachers and produced great Bahá’í scholars – among them Adib Taherzadeh and Ali Nakhjavani. The descendants of the Nayriz Bahá’ís have transplanted themselves on six continents. Against all odds, they have prevailed and prospered.

Awakening allows the reader to experience the pivotal moments in Nayriz Bahá’í history. The book is written in a style accessible to a general audience. However it is also a historical record containing maps, photos, tablets, and over 700 references for future researchers. The book has been translated into Persian, Chinese, Spanish, Bulgarian, Russian and French.

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