Abulqasim Afnan

Abulqasim Afnan


Abulqasim Afnan

Mr. Abulqasim Afnan was a long-serving caretaker of the House of the Bab in Shiraz, Iran (Persia), and for a time his brother, Hassan Afnan, also performed this service. They are now deceased.

Abulqasim Afnan

Abulqasim Afnan.  We first met when I arrived in Sharaz during December 1970, along with Zhila Maboobi and her brother, for my pilgrimage to the House of the Bab, the ‘Holy Threshold’, where the Babi Dispensation had its beginnings, and foundation for the subsequent Baha’i Revelation. Mr. Afnan, a descendant of the Bab, would be our guide.  Fast forward to 1993 and my attendance at the Friends of Persian Culture Conference being held in Evanston, Illinois (United States).  I learned that Mr. Abulqasim Afnan* was also attending, and immediately went in search of him.  This picture documents our meeting after a twenty-three year period and under totally different circumstances.

For more information view ‘Author’


“On May 23, 1844, in Shiraz, Persia, a young man announced the imminent appearance of the Messenger of God awaited by all the peoples of the world. Although the young man’s given name was Siyyid ‘Ali-Muhammad, He took the name “Báb,” a title that means “Gate” or “Door” in Arabic. His coming, the Báb explained, represented the portal through which the universally anticipated Revelation of God to all humanity would soon appear. The central theme of His major work–the Bayán–was the imminent appearance of a second Messenger from God, one Who would be far greater than the Báb, and Whose mission would be to usher in the age of peace and justice promised in Islam, Judaism, Christianity, and all the other world religions. This event marks the start of the Baha’i Era. For the Baha’is the House of the Báb, where the Báb delared his mission is a Holy site.”

“The boldness of the Báb’s proclamation–which put forth the vision of an entirely new society–stirred intense fear within the religious and secular establishments. Accordingly, persecution of the Bábis quickly developed. Thousands of the Báb’s followers were put to death in a horrific series of massacres. The extraordinary moral courage evidenced by the Bábis in the face of this onslaught was recorded by a number of Western observers. European intellectuals such as Ernest Renan, Leo Tolstoy, Sarah Bernhardt and the Comte de Gobineau were deeply affected by this spiritual drama that had unfolded in what was regarded as a darkened land. The nobility of the Báb’s life and teachings and the heroism of His followers became a frequent topic of conversation in the salons of Europe. The story of Táhirih, the great poet and Bábí heroine, who declared to her persecutors, “You can kill me as soon as you like, but you cannot stop the emancipation of women,” traveled as far and as quickly as that of the Báb Himself.”

“This Promised One was Baha’u’allah (“The Glory of God”), and His followers are the Bahá’ís. Throughout the past century, the Bahá’ís of Iran have been persecuted. With the triumph of the Islamic revolution in 1979, this persecution has been systematized. More than 200 Bahá’ís have been executed or killed, hundreds more have been imprisoned, and tens of thousands have been deprived of jobs, pensions, businesses, and educational opportunities. All national and local Bahá’í administrative institutions have been banned by the Government, and Bahá’í holy places, cemeteries and community properties have been confiscated, vandalized, or destroyed.”

Friday Market, Fars Province, Shiraz, Shahrak-e-Shahid Motahhari, Goftar Blvd, Iran

House of the Bab

House of the Bab

Bahá’í Pilgrimage

House of the Báb, Dec 1970

City of Shíráz, Fars Province, Iran


Two sacred Houses are covered by the ordinance Pilgrimage, the House of the Báb in Shíráz and the House of Bahá’u’lláh in Baghdád. In two separate Tablets, known as Súriy-i-Hájj, Bahá’u’lláh has prescribed specific rites for each of these pilgrimages.

After the passing of Bahá’u’lláh, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, designated the Shrine of Bahá’u’lláh at Bahjí as a place of pilgrimage. He indicates that the “Most Holy Shrine, the Blessed House in Baghdád and the venerated House of the Báb in Shíráz” are “consecrated to pilgrimage”.

The Tablet of Pilgrimage to the House of the BabBy Baha’u’llah (click on title).


My pilgrimage to the House of the Bab took place in December 1970.  Two of us, Zhila Maboobi (from Tehran) and myself, were granted permission to make the pilgrimage by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Iran.  We departed Tehran by car, driven by Zhila’s brother on a two-week journey that would not only take us

to Shiraz but also include other points of Baha’i interest.  From Tehran south to Shiraz, then to Isfahan, followed by northern route to the Caspian Sea. We also visited national Persian monuments, famous teahouses, renown restaurants, the gravesite of famous poets and the ancient city of Persepolis, among many others.

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“I am the Primal Point from which have been generated all created things. I am the Countenance of God Whose splendor can never be obscured, the Light of God Whose radiance can never fade.”   -Epistle to Muhammad Shah, Selections from the Writings of the Báb.

“Immeasurably exalted art Thou, O Lord! Protect us from what lieth in front of us and behind us, above our heads, on our right, on our left, below our feet and every other side to which we are exposed. Verily Thy protection over all things is unfailing.” ~A prayer revealed by the Bab.

The Holy Threshold


The Writings of the Báb—Prophet-Herald of the Bahá’í Faith—are revered by Bahá’ís as scripture. Almost all of the Báb’s works were composed during a period of seven years, fro

“This is an epistle from this lowly servant to the All-Glorious Lord—He Who hath been aforetime and will be hereafter made manifest. Verily He is the Most Manifest, the Almighty.”

“O Qurratu’l-‘Ayn! Say: Verily I am the “Gate of God” and I give you to drink, by the leave of God, the sovereign Truth, of the crystal-pure waters of His Revelation which are gushing out from the incorruptible Fountain situate upon the Holy Mount. And those who earnestly strive after the One True God, let them then strive to attain this Gate.  Verily God is potent over all things.….”   ~The Báb (Except from the Qayyúmu’l-Asmá’).


“Lauded be Thy Name; I render Thee thanks for every instance of Thine inscrutable Decree and offer My praise for every token of Thy tribulations. Having suffered Me to be cast into the prison, Thou didst turn it into a garden of Paradise for Me and caused it to become a chamber of the court of everlasting fellowship.”

“How numerous the verses Thou didst send down unto Me, and the prayers Thou didst hear Me offer unto Thee. How diverse the revelations which Thou didst call into being through Me and the experiences Thou didst witness in Me.”

House of Bab Portico

“SEND down Thy blessings, O my God, upon the Tree of the Bayán, upon its root and its branch, its boughs, its leaves, its fruits and upon whatsoever it beareth or sheltereth. Cause this Tree then to be made into a magnificent Scroll to be offered to the presence of Him Whom Thou wilt make manifest on the Day of Judgment, that He may graciously allow the entire company of the followers of the Bayán to be restored to life and that He may, through His bounty, inaugurate a new creation.”

“Indeed all are but paupers in the face of Thy tender mercy, and lowly servants before the tokens of Thy loving-kindness. I beg of Thee, by Thy bounty, O my God, and by the outpourings of Thy mercy and bestowals, O my Lord, and by the evidences of Thy heavenly favors and grace, O my Best-Beloved, to watch over Him Whom God shall make manifest that no trace of despondency may ever touch Him.”

“THOU art aware, O My God, that since the day Thou didst call Me into being out of the water of Thy love till I reached fifteen years of age I lived in the land which witnessed My birth [Shíráz]. Then Thou didst enable Me to go to the seaport [Búshihr] where for five years I was engaged in trading with the goodly gifts of Thy realm and was occupied in that with which Thou hast favored Me through the wondrous essence of Thy loving-kindness. I proceeded therefrom to the Holy Land [Karbilá] where I sojourned for one year. Then I returned to the place of My birth. There I experienced the revelation of Thy sublime bestowals and the evidences of Thy boundless grace. I yield Thee praise for all Thy goodly gifts and I render Thee thanksgiving for all Thy bounties. Then at the age of twenty-five I proceeded to thy sacred House [Mecca], and by the time I returned to the place where I was born, a year had elapsed. There I tarried patiently in the path of Thy love and beheld the evidences of Thy manifold bounties and of Thy loving-kindness until Thou didst ordain for Me to set out in Thy direction and to migrate to Thy presence.”

“Glorified art Thou, O Lord! Verily I am poor while in truth Thou art rich; verily I am lowly while in truth Thou art mighty; verily I am impotent while in truth Thou art powerful; verily I am abased while in truth Thou art the most exalted; verily I am distressed while in truth Thou art the Lord of might.”

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“Thus I departed therefrom by Thy leave, spending six months in the land of Ṣád [Iṣfahán] and seven months in the First Mountain [Máh-Kú], where Thou didst rain down upon Me that which beseemeth the glory of Thy heavenly blessings and befitteth the sublimity of Thy gracious gifts and favors. Now, in My thirtieth year, Thou beholdest Me, O My God, in this Grievous Mountain [Chihríq] where I have dwelt for one whole year.”

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Hafez (Persian Poet)

For years my heart inquired of me
                   Where Jamshid’s sacred cup might be,
And what was in its own possession
                   It asked from strangers, constantly;
Begging the pearl that’s slipped its shell
                   From lost souls wandering by the sea.

On May 22, 1844, in this room, at the place marked by the lamp, in the city of Shiraz, Persia (Iran), Mirza ‘Ali Muhammad (surnamed the Bab) declared His mission to a young man named Mulla Husayn. The Bab explained that He was the predecessor of another Messenger of God (Baha’u’llah) who would come soon after Him, and that His role was to prepare others for the coming of this new Messenger whose divine revelation would unite the world of humanity. Mulla Husayn became the first disciple of the Bab, and the events of this day mark the beginnings of the Baha’i Faith.


The Writings of the Báb—Prophet-Herald of the Bahá’í Faith—are revered by Bahá’ís as scripture. Almost all of the Báb’s works were composed during a period of seven years, from 1843 until His execution in July 1850 at the age of 30.


The Báb’s “…call for spiritual and moral reformation, and His attention to improving the position of women and the lot of the poor, the Báb’s prescription for spiritual renewal was revolutionary. At the same time, He founded a distinct, independent religion of His own, inspiring His followers to transform their lives and carry out great acts of heroism”.

“The Báb announced that humanity stood at the threshold of a new era. His mission, which was to last only six years, was to prepare the way for the coming of a Manifestation of God Who would usher in the age of peace and justice promised in all the world’s religions: Bahá’u’lláh.”


In 1942-3 the House of the Báb was damaged by fire in an attack by enemies of the Bahá’í Faith, and subsequently restored.  In 1955 it was again destroyed, and again restored. In 1979 it suffered total devastation during the Iranian Revolution, and circumstances dictated that it could not then be rebuilt.  In 1981 the site was made into a road and public square.  The photo at the right shows where the House of the Báb was once located, and as the spot appeared in 2008.  It is thought that the electric utility pole indicates the site where the Báb declared His mission.

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Click to enlarge.


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Abulqasim Afnan, Caretaker, House of the Bab, Shiraz, Iran and Terry Randolph.

In 1993 I attended a Friends of Persians conference in Evanston, Illinois.  It was here that after twenty-six years I once again had the opportunity to meet Mr. Abulqasim Afnan, a descendant of the Bab, and the guide during our pilgrimage to the House of the Bab.  His brother, Hassan Afnan, for a time was also a caretaker for the House of the Bab.  I had not previously met him in person, but in 2003 I was able to locate him in San Diego, California.  He had departed Iran in 1979 due to the revolution and took up residence in the United States.  Prior to his passing in 2004, he informed me that his brother was not in good health and was being cared for in a nursing home in Britain, his condition being of a vegetative nature.  I sent a getwell card with prayers but received no response.  The condition of Mr. Abulqasim Afnan remains unknown to me.

Land of Ta

“Let nothing grieve thee, O Land of Ṭá (Ṭihrán) for God hath chosen thee to be the source of the joy of all mankind. He shall, if it be His Will, bless thy throne with one who will rule with justice, who will gather together the flock of God which the wolves have scattered. Such a ruler will, with joy and gladness, turn his face towards, and extend his favors unto, the people of Bahá. He indeed is accounted in the sight of God as a jewel among men. Upon him rest forever the glory of God and the glory of all that dwell in the kingdom of His revelation.” ~Baha’u’llah

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Above:  Dragon Rose /  Below: Tehran

Mountains of Persia

Photos taken of various mountain ranges when in route from Tehran to Shiraz in Fars Providence.

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Quran Gate, Shiraz

( دروازه قرآن‎‎ Darvāzeh Qur’an)

Allah’u’Akbar Gorge. We are in route to Shiraz to begin pilgrimage to the House of the Bab.
This is where Siyyid ‘Ali-Muhammad, surname the ‘Báb’, meaning ‘Gate’ or ‘Door’ in Arabic,
declared His mission. The central theme of the Báb’s major work, the Bayán, was the advent
of a second Messenger from God, now known as Baha’u’llah, Whose mission would be to
usher in the age of unity, peace and justice promised by all other major world religions. The
Báb’s declaration marks the start of the Baha’i Era, and the house in which it was made is
designated a Holy site for Baha’i pilgrimage.  Photo taken as we were about to enter Shiraz.

Persian Art

Special arrangements were made for me to visit the National Museum after hours.  Below are two of many photos I took of items on display.

Readers Pipe Version 2

The profuse decorative symbolism of Persian art expresses the artists desires and aspirations as well as their particular way of seeing life with security, self-confidence and great inner power. Their art is an attractive form of expressing their poetic way of interrupting life, and doing it with a refined show of detail and exquisite decoration; directly communicating emotionally to the heart of the viewer.

“The ancient Persian culture awarded a preponderant importance to the decorative aspect in their art; which they used as resource and vehicle of expression with a deep philosophical meaning about life. This decorative aspect shows the daily events of the man in his perennial struggle for survival. Although in other articles we will detail their artistic manifestation; is important to begin with general aspects of their history and idiosyncrasy in order to understand better why the produced their art in the way they did it.”

group discussion persia


Isfahan is located on the main north–south and east–west routes crossing Iran, and was once one of the largest cities in the world. It flourished from 1050 to 1722, particularly in the 16th and 17th centuries under the Safavid dynasty, when it became the capital of Persia for the second time in its history. This led to the Persian proverb “Esfahān nesf-e- jahān ast” (Isfahan is half of the world).  This restaurant prepared and served food in the ancient Persian tradition, they claim dating back five-hundred years.  Perhaps it is still in operation?

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“Núrayn-i-Nayyirayn (Arabic: نورين نيّرین‎, meaning “twin shining lights”) are two brothers who were followers of Bahá’u’lláh, the founder of the Bahá’í Faith, a global religion of Persian origin. They were beheaded in 1879 as a result of being Bahá’ís. Numerous letters and tablets were written in their honour by Bahá’u’lláh, who gave them the titles which they are commonly known as: the King of Martyrs and the Beloved of Martyrs.”

“On the right is the older brother was Mírzá Muhammad-Husayn, given the title Mahbúbu’shShuhadá’ (Beloved of Martyrs). His brother was Mírzá Muhammad-Hasan, given the title Sultánu’shShuhada’ (King of Martyrs). The latter was identified as one of the nineteen Apostles of Bahá’u’lláh.”

“The two were both natives of Isfahan, and were both rich and highly endowed with trading acumen. They were beheaded in the city of Isfahan in 1879 as a result of three persons: Mir Muhammad-Husayn, the Imám-Jum’ih of Isfahan; Shaykh Muhammad-Baqir, another influential Muslim cleric of Isfahan; and Sultán-Mas’úd Mírzá, the son of Násiri’d-Dín Sháh, who governed Isfahan during the time.”   For additional information click on Wikipedia

Below are images I took within the home of the two brothers.

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The Allahverdi Khan Bridge (Persian: پل الله‌وردی‌خان ), popularly known as Si-o- se-pol is one of the eleven bridges in Isfahan, Iran:  Creative Commons

Flower Pot: Creative Commons

External Images, House of the Bab: Copyright © Bahá’í International Community

Orange Trees/All Internal Images of the House of the Bab:  Terry Nelson Randolph

External Night Photo, House of the Bab: Copyright © Bahá’í International Community

Video, Pilgrimage to The House of the Bab in Shiraz: YouTube

Images, Overview of Shiraz, Iran: Terry Nelson Randolph

Street Image, prior location of the House of the Bab: Copyright © Bahá’í International Community

Reunion image:  Terry Nelson Randolph

Dragon Rose:  Creative Commons

Tehran:  Creative Commons

Mountain Images: Terry Nelson Randolph

Quran Gate:  Terry Nelson Randolph

Persian Art: Terry Nelson Randolph

Restaurant in Isfahan: Terry Nelson Randolph

“Twin shining lights”:  Wikipedia

Images of the home of the two brothers: Terry Nelson Randolph

Nasereddin Shah Qajar of Persia:  Terry Nelson Randolph


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