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Mullá Muḥammad-i-Zarandí (29 July 1831 – 1892), more commonly known as Nabíl-i-A’ẓam (Persian: نبيل أعظم‎ "the Great Nabíl"[1]) or Nabíl-i-Zarandí (Persian: نبيل زرندي‎ "Nabíl of Zarand"), was an eminent Bahá'í historian during the time of Bahá'u'lláh, and one of the nineteen Apostles of Bahá'u'lláh. He is most famous for authoring The Dawn-Breakers, which stands out as one of the most important and extensive accounts of the ministry of the Báb.

He learned about the Bábí Faith at the age of 16 and met Bahá'u'lláh in 1851. He made several journeys on behalf of Bahá'u'lláh, was imprisoned in Egypt and is the only person known to have made the two pilgrimages to the House of the Báb in Shíráz and the House of Bahá'u'lláh in Baghdád in accordance with the rites set out by Bahá'u'lláh. After the passing of Bahá'u'lláh, and at the request of `Abdu'l-Bahá, he arranged a Tablet of Visitation from Bahá'u'lláh's writings which is now used in the Holy Shrines. Shortly afterwards, overcome with grief, love and longing for Bahá'u'lláh, he walked into the sea and drowned.[2]


Nabíl was born in Zarand, Iran on 29 July 1831. He was a shepherd but strove to overcome his meagre education. He would often go with his father to Qom and listen to religious discourses, and he learned to read the Qur'an. In 1847, Nabíl, while in the village of Rubat-Karim, overheard a conversation about the Báb and was immediately interested. Later, when he was more fully informed of the religion of the Báb through Siyyid Husayn-i-Zavari'i, he became a believer in the new movement. He tried to join the Bábís at Shaykh Tabarsi but the siege began before he could get there. He took up residence in Tehran in the same madrisih as the transcriber of the Báb's writings; there he also met many Bábís who lived in or were travelling through the town, including Bahá'u'lláh.[3]

In 1852 there was an attempt on the life of the Shah, which was followed by the persecution of the Bábí community. During this time, Nabíl put forward a claim to leadership of the Bábí community stating that he had received divine inspiration. Later, when he visited Baghdad and instead recognized Bahá'u'lláh's claim, he withdrew his own.[3]


From Baghdad and Adrianople, Bahá'u'lláh sent Nabíl on numerous journeys to the Bábís of Iran. During 1867/8 his major task was to inform the Bábís of Bahá'u'lláh's claim to be He whom God shall make manifest. On one journey, he performed the pilgrimage to the house of the Báb in Shiraz and the house of Bahá'u'lláh in Baghdad, making him the first to perform the pilgrimage according to Bahá'u'lláh's laws.[3]

In 1868 Nabíl was sent by Bahá'u'lláh to Egypt where he was imprisoned. When he was freed, Nabíl journeyed to `Akká, but after being recognized by the followers of Azal who had stationed themselves near the gate of the city, he was removed from the city. He travelled around the area including living on Mount Carmel and in Nazareth until he was able to enter `Akká.[3] On his second attempt to enter the prison city he was able to stay 81 days, meeting Mírzá Áqá Ján and then Bahá'u'lláh.

After this, he was sent by Bahá'u'lláh again to Iran to confirm the belief of many of the Bahá'ís.[3] In 1888 he began writing The Dawn-Breakers with the personal assistance of Mírzá Músá, the brother of Bahá'u'lláh. It was finished in about a year and a half, and parts of the manuscript were reviewed and approved, some by Bahá'u'lláh, and others by `Abdu'l-Bahá.


After his return from Iran, he lived in `Akká until Bahá'u'lláh's death in 1892. Overwhelmed with Bahá'u'lláh's death, he drowned himself in the sea and his dead body was found washed ashore near the city of `Akká.

Besides writing a lengthy history of the Bahá'í Faith, he wrote poetry about the historical events of the religion, which he would send to the Bahá'ís of Iran.[3] His poetry, however, has not been published. A tablet by Bahá'u'lláh addresses him by name, describing him as "numbered with My favoured ones whose names the Finger of God hath inscribed."


  1. ^ The surname is Persian pronunciation of Arabic: النبيل الأعظمan-Nabīl al-A‘ẓam, meaning "Nabíl the Great" or "Nabíl the Greatest" (see elative for details on translation.) The given translation is from Memorials of the Faithful.
  2. ^ http://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/memorials-faithful/#f=f2-129
  3. ^ a b c d e f Balyuzi, H.M. (1985). Eminent Bahá'ís in the time of Bahá'u'lláh. The Camelot Press Ltd, Southampton. pp. 268–270. ISBN 0-85398-152-3. 


  • Taherzadeh, A. (1976). The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, Volume 1: Baghdad 1853-63. Oxford, UK: George Ronald. pp. 201–206. ISBN 0-85398-270-8. 

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