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Mahmud b. al-Faraj made an appearance in Samara in 849-850 AD with a claim that a Quran was revealed to him through the angel Gabriel. He is reported to have some followers in Samara and Baghdad. He was executed on the orders of caliph, al-Mutawakkil.
Mirza Ali Muhammad, known as Bab (the gate), was born (1819 AD) and brought up in Shiraz, Iran. He had contemporary education till the age of 15 after which he went into business with his uncle. He married at the age of 22 and had a son who died in infancy. In Shia world, Hidden Imam was expected in 1260 Hijra (1844 A.D.) as it coincided with one-thousandth anniversary of his disappearance. Bab was close to the Shaykh’is sect who believed in the imminent appearance of a divine messenger. When Bab declared himself gate (Bab) to the 12th Imam and made other claims, he was embraced by Shaykh’is, now renamed Babis. Subsequently, he declared himself to be the Hidden Imam, developing the Shaykhi school argument that Hidden Imam exists in Hurqalya (realm of archetypal images) so his return is not in the same physical body, but in a man who in Hurqalya is the archetypal figure of the Imam. After Mahdi (Hidden Imam), he moved on to call himself Nuqtiyiula (prophet Muhammad’s title) and declared that the Quran and Muslim Sharia were now abrogated. Shia and Sunni scholars condemned him and Bab faced a series of imprisonment, trials, and indignities before being shot dead by a firing squad in 1850.
Mirza Husayn Ali, Bahaullah, was born in Tehran in 1817. He was the eldest son of Mirza Abbas of Nur, a Minister of State. He had early education at home and never attended school. He was an early and prominent follower of Bab and was imprisoned in 1852 following a failed attempt by Babis to kill the Shah. Bahaullah became severely ill in prison and was exiled to Baghdad (instead of execution) after intervention from the Russian Minster. Local Muslim leaders in Baghdad opposed Bahaulla’s teachings and activities until the King ordered him and his followers to leave for Constantinople, and later, to Adrianople. During this journey in 1863, Bahaullah declared himself a prophet ‘the promised one’ (as prophesied by Bab) and was accepted by the Babis, now called Bahais. However, a faction under his half brother Mirza Yahya, the original heir to Bab, broke away. Muslims refused hospitality to this traitor of the faith and the Turkish Government had to banish Babis and Bahais from Adrianople. Bahaullah and his followers were exiled to Akka (Acre), a prison town in Palestine, in 1868 while Mirza Yahya and his party went to Cyprus. Bahaullah died there in 1892 and was succeeded by Abdul Baha (Abbas Effendi), his eldest son. Abdul Baha died in 1921 and succeeded by his grandson Shoghi Effendi who died in 1957 without an heir. Bahais are now coordinated and directed by their Universal House of Justice.
Mirza Gulam Ahmad was born in Qadiyan (India) in the late 1830s. He received early education at home from Shia and Sunni tutors. He used to work as a junior cleric in the Deputy Commissioner’s office at Sialkot where he failed his promotion-examination three times. In frustration he turned towards religion and developed increasingly studious and reclusive habits. During this time, he had several meetings with Rev. Butler, an eminent Christian missionary, at the request of local Deputy Commissioner.
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