BOŠRŪʾĪ, Mollā Moḥammad-Ḥosayn

Shaikhi ʿālem who became the first convert to Babism, provincial Babi leader in Khorasan, and organizer of Babi resistance in Māzandarān (1814-49).

 

BOŠRŪʾĪ (Bošrūyaʾī), MOLLĀ MOḤAMMAD­-ḤOSAYN (1229-65/1814-49), Shaikhi ʿālem who became the first convert to Babism, provincial Babi leader in Khorasan, and organizer of Babi resistance in Māzandarān. Born in Bošrūya, Khorasan, the son of a local merchant, he studied from an early age in Mašhad, where he appears to have become a Shaikhi. He later studied in Tehran and Isfahan before traveling to Karbalāʾ to study under Sayyed Kāẓem Raštī, then head of the Shaikhi school. He remained in Karbalāʾ nine or eleven years, during which period he wrote at least two works (which have not survived) and acquired a private following, leading to a conviction among some that he would be Raštī’s successor. Although absent from Karbalāʾ on the latter’s death, Bošrūʾī returned there soon afterwards on 1 Moḥarram 1260/22 January 1844 and was immediately involved in discussions with other leading Shaikhis concerning the succession issue, which had been left open. No agreement seems to have been reached, but in April Bošrūʾī set off for Kermān to interview Ḥājj Moḥammad-Karīm Khan Kermānī (q.v.), a prospective candidate for the headship of the school. En route, in Shiraz, he renewed an earlier acquaintance with Sayyed ʿAlī-Moḥammad Šīrāzī, the Bāb, who on 5 Jomādā I/22 May announced to Bošrūʾī his claim to be Raštī’s successor and bāb al-emām. Bošrūʾī accepted these claims, probably after several weeks, in virtue of which he was later named bāb al-bāb (gate of the gate), awwal man āmana (first to believe) and “return of Moḥammad.” Following the Bāb’s assumption of the title of Qāʾem (i.e., the Twelfth Imam) in 1848, the title of bāb was transferred to Bošrūʾī. When, in July, 1844, the first followers of the Bāb left Shiraz in several directions to spread word of the imam’s imminent appearance, Bošrūʾī headed for Tehran, where he delivered letters from the Bāb for Moḥammad Shah and Ḥājī Mīrzā Āqāsī. From Tehran he made his way to Mašhad, where he established an important center for Babi propaganda and himself carried out the task of replying to questions on behalf of the Bāb. His activities in Mašhad eventually led to trouble with the local authorities, and in July, 1848, he was ordered to leave the city. Accompanied by a large band of followers he headed into Māzandarān, pos­sibly en route for Azerbaijan to effect a rescue of the Bāb from prison there. In September, Bošrūʾī’s group, now enlarged, reached the shrine of Shaikh Abū ʿAlī al-Fażl Ṭabresī (Ṭabarsī), where they constructed a fortress of sorts to defend themselves against provincial and state troops who were sent to oppose their activities in the province. The struggle, which was led by Bošrūʾī until his death in the course of a sortie on 9 Rabīʿ I 1265/2 February 1849, ended with the surrender of the Babi survivors in May, 1849.

 

Bibliography:

See the works listed under babism. Brief biographies are found in M. A. Malek Ḵosravī, Tārīḵ-ešohadā-ye amr I, Tehran, 130 Badīʿ/1973-74, pp. 19-58, and passim to p. 322; Mīrzā Asad-Allāh Fāżel Māzandarānī, Ketāb-e ẓohūr al-ḥaqq III, Cairo, n.d., pp. 112-42.

For details of extant writings by Bošrūʾī see D. MacEoin, Early Bābī Doctrine and History, A Survey of Source Materials, Los Angeles, 1988, and A. Amanat, Resurrection and Renewal. The Making of the Babi Movement in Iran, 1844-1850, Ithaca, New York, 1989, esp. pp. 153-66.

See also Eʿteżād-al-Salṭana, Fetna-ye Bāb, ed. ʿA.-Ḥ. Navāʾī, 3rd ed., Tehran, 1362 Š./1983, pp. 33-51, 244-45.

(Denis M. MacEoin)

Originally Published: December 15, 1989

Last Updated: December 15, 1989

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Vol. IV, Fasc. 4, pp. 383