Edited By Soli Shahvar
1. The Goodly Gifts: A Brief History of the Afnán Family
The relatives of Siyyid ‘Alí-Muḥammad, the Báb, founder of the Bábí Faith and forerunner of the Bahá’í Faith, are known as the ‘Afnán’ [Twigs]. In this chapter, I present an overview of the Afnán family, including the family’s role in the propagation of the Bahá’í Faith and its place in Iranian society.1 As a narrative, rather than an analytic, history, it provides an outline of the ‘demographics’ of the Afnáns – the members’ places of residence, movements and emigration, social position and standing in the community, trades and professions, notable achievements and services to the Bahá’í Faith.
Both the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh refer to Themselves in Their writings as the Sadratu’l-Muntahá – the Sacred Lote-Tree, the Tree beyond which there is no passing.2 Bahá’u’lláh extended the range of this image by giving His sons the title of ‘Aghṣán’ [Branches] and the women in His family that of ‘Varaqát’ [Leaves]. He likewise gave the relatives of the Báb the title of ‘Afnán’. He addresses them in His Book of the Covenant in the following words: ‘O ye My Aghṣán, My Afnán and My Kindred! We exhort you to fear God, to perform praiseworthy deeds and to do that which is meet and seemly and serveth to exalt your station’.3 This chapter focuses on individual Afnán whose lives were representative of the major trends in the development of...
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