Tribute to "Nabil", one of the leading early "apostles" of Baha'u'llah.

By N. Wahid Azal

Nabil Zarandi was one of the leading early "apostles" of Baha'u'llah who had made a divine claim of his own in Baghdad and then retracted it after the murder of Dayyan and joined Baha'u'llah. He was a sufiesque poet with countless panegyric poems to his name lauding Baha'u'llah to the heavens and beyond. Apparently he authored an extensive history whose original manuscript has only ever been seen by a tiny handful of people, i.e. the history known as The Dawn Breakers which in its English translation by Shoghidelic I have dubbed Pseudo-Zarandi.

Mirza Agha Khan Kirmani and Shaykh Ahmad Ruhi (both executed in 1896), and sons in law of Subh-i-Azal, claim in the final part of their massive work hasht bihisht (The Eight Heavens) that Nabil Zarandi was actually murdered by the Baha'is in Acre in an act jointly undertaken by both the Abbas Effendi faction as well as the Muhammad Ali faction after Baha's death because he had begun making claims once again.

As I mentioned, an original history posthumously renamed The Dawn Breakers has been attributed to him. But only Shoghi Effendi, Fadil Mazandarani, very briefly Denis MacEoin, Ahang Rabbani, Vahid Rafati and recently Stephan Lambden have ever seen a manuscript of this work apparently penned by Zarandi. Shoghi Effendi's purported English translation was translated into Arabic and the Arabic translation was soon thereafter translated into Persian by 'Abdu'l-Hamid Ishraq-Khavari (even though the original work was supposedly authored in Persian). Fadil Mazandarani, a Hand of the Cause appointed by Shoghi Effendi, fell afoul of both Shoghi Effendi as well as the Iranian National Spiritual Assembly during the 1940s for his own multivolume history named The History of the Manifestation of Truth (tarikh-i-zuhur al-haqq) because it explicitly contradicts much of the narrative of Nabil Zarandi (or, rather, Pseudo-Zarandi's) history as crafted by Shoghi Effendi, especially in the Babi section of it as well as in the final chapters which covers the final years of Baha' and his family life in Acre.

I once was told by Ahang Rabbani under confidence (but now that he is dead, this can be revealed) that the later part of Zarandi's original history explicitly lauds and panegyrizes Muhammad Ali above Abbas Effendi, and this is one of the reasons why the original manuscript has been systematically suppressed from public circulation or indepedent scholarly examination by Baha'i authorities. If true, it is a supreme irony that a text whose original lauds and panegyrizes Muhammad Ali has been made the official history of the Haifan as well as the Orthodox Remeyite Baha'i groups who have established themselves on the very basis of demonizing Muhammad Ali, his family and followers. But such opportunism is a consistent and well established pattern of Bahaism throughout all of its phases.

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