Religion:Persian Bayán

From HandWiki
Short description: Principal scriptural text of the Báb

The Persian Bayán (Persian: بیان‎ - "expression") is one of the principal scriptural writings of the Báb, the founder of Bábi religion, written in Persian.[1] The Báb also wrote a shorter book in Arabic, known as the Arabic Bayán.


The Persian Bayán was written near the end of 1847 or the beginning of 1848, while the Báb was imprisoned in Maku.[2] The book contains elements of Bábí law, discussion of religious concepts, and the glorification of He whom God shall make manifest.[1] It was one of the Báb's first works in which he clearly states that he is the messianic figure of the Twelfth Imam and the Mahdi which the Shiʻas were expecting.[2] With the claim, he also claimed the abrogation of the Islamic dispensation, and uses the new Bábí law to abrogate Islamic law.[2] The whole book also revolves around the praise of He whom God shall make manifest, promising the coming of a major prophet termed a Manifestation of God; this would be of major importance with Baháʼu'lláh's claim two decades later.[2] Shoghi Effendi considered it a "eulogy of the Promised One", who had abrogated the laws of Islam, and prophesied about the coming of the Baháʼí Faith.[1][3]

Unities and chapters

The book was intended to be composed of nineteen 'unities' each of nineteen chapters, consisting of a total of 361 sections, which had numerical significance, but this was left incomplete and stops in the ninth 'unity'.[1] It was intended to be finished by "He whom God shall make manifest", a messianic figure in the Báb's writings. Baháʼís consider Baháʼu'lláh's Kitáb-i-Íqán as its completion.[1]


Among the main themes of the Bayán are the mystic character of action, the prohibition of causing grief to others, refinement, perfection and the spiritualization of life and language.[4] Baháʼí scholar, Nader Saiedi states that the severe laws of the Bayán were never meant to be put in practice, because their implementation depended on the appearance of He whom God shall make manifest, while at the same time all of the laws would be abrogated unless the Promised One would reaffirm them. Saiedi concludes that these can then only have a strategic and symbolic meaning, and were meant to break through traditions and to focus the Báb's followers on obedience to He whom God shall make manifest.[5] The Báb stresses the importance of the recognition of the symbolic nature and spiritual meaning of each of his laws.[6] In the Baháʼí view, Baháʼu'lláh is regarded as this Promised One. In his Kitab-i-Aqdas, Baháʼu'lláh cancelled specific laws of the Bayan, while confirming others.[7]

Right of completion

Certain early researchers of the religion believed that the right of completing the Bayán was conferred to Subh-i Azal.[8][9][10] However, more modern scholarship shows that that interpretation is flawed because Subh-i-Azal is only given the right to complete the Bayán with the permission of He whom God shall make manifest,[11][12] and that Subh-i-Azal was instituted as a nominal head and asked to preserve the religion until He whom God shall make manifest would arrive.[12][13]

The Báb eliminated any form of successorship or vicegerency from his religion and stated that no one else's writings would be authoritative after his death to the time of He Whom God shall make Manifest.[12] Some of the followers of Subh-i-Azal state that the Báb actually made Subh-i-Azal his vicegerent because the Báb in a tablet written to Azal stated that he should manifest the remaining paths of the Bayán if He Whom God shall make Manifest is made manifest during Azal's days. The Azalis interpret this to mean the Báb gave Sub-i-Azal the right to complete the unfinished text of the Bayán.[12] However, the Báb affirms to Subh-i-Azal himself that He Whom God shall make Manifest may appear in Subh-i-Azal's own lifetime, and thus eliminates any viceregency for Subh-i-Azal.[14]

One of the texts that the Azalis use to state that Subh-i-Azal was appointed as a viceregent is the controversial book Nuqtutu'l-Kaq, but the book's statements are very contradictory and problematic.[12] In one section of the book the author states that the Bayán may become abrogated within a few years of the Báb's death, and that He Whom God shall make Manifest may appear during Azal's time, then later he states that the abrogation of the Bayán and the appearance of the Promised One could not occur before two thousand years. Even later the author makes the proposition that the Promised One is Subh-i-Azal himself, showing that the author truly did not believe that the appearance of the Promised One would have to take two thousand years.[12] The proposition that He Whom God shall make Manifest would take two thousand years is absurd since the Báb discusses the advent of He Whom God shall make Manifest during Subh-i-Azal's lifetime as a conditional point for Subh-i-Azal to take certain action.[12]

An alternative interpretation of the passage in question is that Subh-i-Azal is asked to instead to making public or distribute the eight copies of the Bayan to eight people mentioned in the passage.[15]

Browne and the Bayán

Edward G. Browne planned at one time to publish an edited text of the Persian Bayán, and did considerable work on the compilation of six manuscripts, but the work was never completed. This incomplete compilation, still exists in the Cambridge University Library (classmark Or. 1331–7 [11]), awaiting the attention of some future scholar.[16]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Smith, Peter (2000). "Bayán". A concise encyclopedia of the Baháʼí Faith. Oxford: Oneworld Publications. p. 91. ISBN 1-85168-184-1. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Momen, Moojan (1987). "Preface: A Summary of the Persian Bayan". Selections from the Writings of E.G. Browne on the Bábí and Baháʼí Religions. Oxford: George Ronald. pp. 316–318. ISBN 978-0-85398-247-0. 
  3. Effendi, Shoghi (1944). God Passes By. Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Baháʼí Publishing Trust. p. 25. ISBN 0-87743-020-9. 
  4. Saiedi 2008, pp. 309–336
  5. Saiedi 2008, pp. 363–367
  6. Saiedi 2008, pp. 309
  7. Saiedi 2008, pp. 299
  8. Browne, Edward (1892). "Catalogue and Description of 27 Babi Manuscripts". Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland: 478–479. 
  9. Nicolas, A.L.M (1905). Le Beyan Arabe. Paris: Ernest Leroux, Editeur. 
  10. Browne, Edward (1891). A Traveller's Narrative. Cambridge University Press. p. 353. 
  11. Saiedi 2008, pp. 403–404
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 12.5 12.6 Saiedi 2008, pp. 344–348
  13. Smith, Peter (2008). An Introduction to the Baha'i Faith. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 14. ISBN 978-0-521-86251-6. 
  14. Saiedi 2008, pp. 344–345
  15. Saiedi 2008, pp. 347
  16. MacEoin, Denis (1992) (in en). The Sources for Early Bābī Doctrine and History: A Survey. BRILL. pp. 3. ISBN 978-90-04-09462-8. 


Further reading