Bahai Baha'u'llah's Tablet to Jamal-i Burujirdi

A Brief Note on Aqa Jamal-i Burujirdi


In Fadil Mazandarani, Tarikh-i Zuhur al-Haqq, Vol. 6, pp. 300-314, there is a brief biography of Aqa Jamal Burujirdi.

Aqa Jamal Burujirdi was known as Ismu'llah al-Jamal. He descended on his mother's side from Mirza Abu'l-Qasim Mujtahid-i Qummi. He studied in Iraq and gained ijazat/diplomas from the major mujtahids/jurisprudents there. He "heard of Baha'u'llah's call" and hurried to Baghdad in 1280 (began June 18, 1863), apparently unaware that Baha'u'llah had already left for Istanbul. He stayed 9 months in Kazimayn with Mulla Ja`far Niraqi, and became a Babi (Babi-Baha'i?) after much discussion. He went to Edirne and met Baha'u'llah (this episode is described in Salmani). His son and the rest of his family cut him off. All his property and wealth were confiscated. He worked as a Mulla in places like Isfahan and Tehran, secretly teaching the faith.

Aqa Jamal was a bit of a braggart. He let it out that he had paid for the costs of relocating Baha'u'llah from Baghdad to Turkey and thence to Akka; in fact, Sayyid Hasan Nahri had borne those costs. In 1287/1870 in Akka, he collected funds on the grounds there was a need in Akka, but Baha'u'llah disapproved and sent them back to the donors. Baha'u'llah then sent a tablet with counsels in it (mava`iz) to Aqa Jamal, who did penance by walking barefoot to Akka. He spent some time with Baha'u'llah, then was ordered to take a copy of the Aqdas back to Iran with him.

In 1291/1874 he was arrested at the instigation of a council of mujtahids in Tehran. He asked the shah to be allowed to debate them, and was. From all accounts he won the debate (though the very top mujtahids like Kani only sent representatives). He insisted he had always obeyed the State and the shari`ah/Islamic religion, and indeed had rendered many services to the latter. He presented both traditional and rational proofs for the Baha'i faith before an audience of prominent persons. He argued that the government should build up the country, remove corruption, promote progress (taraqqi) and population growth. He points out that all the lives lost in the suppression of Babism would have contributed to Iran's manpower, especially if one counted their potential children (he understood demography!).

Aqa Jamal went to Isfahan. For a while he floated a scheme for a mass immigration of Baha'is to Russia because of Nasiru'd-Din Shah's oppression. Sayyid Hasan Nahri complained to Baha'u'llah about the Baha'is being stirred up this way, but Baha'u'llah declined to intervene. Eventually Aqa Jamal gave up the scheme.

In 1295/1878 when Aqa Jamal was teaching the faith in Yazd, Mirza `Ali Muhammad Ibn-i Asdaq and Mirza Asadu'llah Isfahani had gone for the same purpose to Khurasan. Aqa Jamal wrote a detailed letter to the Baha'is criticizing those two. He also got into an argument with Mulla `Ali Akbar Shahmirzadi concerning the station of Baha'u'llah, bringing into question his faith.

Baha'u'llah wrote Aqa Jamal a Tablet urging him not to act as in former religions, wherein upon merely hearing each other speak they start uttering curses. He says not everyone is at the same epistemological level. For instance, some immediately recognize the manifestation of God, others do not. (p. 309)

[This is the tablet Khazeh Fananapazir translated and which is up by permission on my Web site at ["Jamal"].

Aqa Jamal lived in Tehran despite his notoriety there, but did keep changing residences. He took a second wife and gave her and her children her own house. He visited Akka for 6 months later on. He would go back and forth visiting the Baha'is on donkey back, after the wont of mullas.

From p. 311 there is an account of his later rebellion against `Abdu'l-Baha.

Balyuzi's account of the 1882 imprisonment of prominent Baha'is in Tehran in *Eminent Baha'is* also mentions the dispute that existed among them over whether Baha'u'llah was God or not . . .


Juan Cole
co-editor, H-Bahai
History, U of Michigan

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