January 11, 2012

The first Bábi martyr: Mulla ‘Aliy-i-Bastami, one of the Letters of the Living

He was directed by the Báb to go to Iraq to teach among the Shaykhi’s [followers of Shayk Ahmad, a forerunner to the Báb]. His presentation of a copy of the Báb’s Qayyumu'l-Asma' to one of the leading exponents of Shi'ih Islam, Shaykh Muhammad Hasan-i-Najafi, led to a violent debate and eventually to his arrest and transfer to prison in Baghdad. A court of inquiry was held in January 1846 where the Sunnis argued for the death penalty on grounds of heresy while the Shi'ihs argued for banishment or imprisonment. He was eventually transferred to Istanbul where he was apparently sentenced to labour in the docks. He died in prison near the end of 1846, thus making him the first Babi martyr. 
(Adapted from 'A Basic Baha’i Dictionary', by Wendi Momen)