Edward G. Browne referred to Bahá’ís as Bábís, but this was a mistake on his part. Siyyid ‘Alí-Muhammad-i-Shírází (1819-1850), known as the “Báb”, which is Arabic for “Gate”, proclaimed that He was the Promised One of Islám. He declared His mission in 1844 and was executed by the Persian government in 1850. His followers were known as Bábís. The Báb also proclaimed that He was the Gate, Herald and Forerunner of an even greater Manifestation of God who would come after Him, the Promised One of all religions and Return of Christ in the Glory of the Father. In 1863, Mírzá Husyan-‘Alí-yi-Núrí (1817-1892), known as Bahá’u’lláh (Arabic for “The Glory of God”), proclaimed that He was the Promised One foretold by the Báb. By the time Browne arrived in Iran, most Bábís had already accepted Bahá’u’lláh as the Promised One and were now known as Bahá’ís. A small group of Bábís, led by Mírzá Yahyá Núrí, known as Azal, who was Bahá’u’lláh’s younger half-brother, rejected these claims. Azal is notorious for poisoning his own Brother (i.e. Bahá’u’lláh) as well as trying to assassinate other enemies on numerous occasions. While the Báb had made Azal His nominal successor, this was only until the Promised One were to appear, upon which time Azal’s authority was supposed to cease. Most Bábís realised Azal’s depravity and turned to Bahá’u’lláh, whose character and spirituality were unsurpassed. Browne was sympathetic to Azal’s claims but was also impressed by the spirituality of the Bahá’í community. The followers of Azal (sometimes spelled Ezel) were known as Azalís.
While Browne’s sympathetic views on Azal were misguided, he made a great contribution to Bahá’í studies through his translations of historical works and his accounts of the Bahá’í community. Amongst Persians, at a time when nearly the whole nation was highly suspicious of foreigners, and in particular of any British or Russian person due to the political dynamics of that time, Edward Browne was well accepted by the people who knew him and his works. He is well remembered today, and a street named after him in Tehran, as well as his statue, remained even after the Iranian revolution in 1979.
(Summary by Nicholas James Bridgewater)
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