The Messiah of Shiraz

Studies in Early and Middle Babism


The 19th century saw an enormous shift in the authority structure of Iranian and Iraqi Twelver Shiʿism, with the victory of a theological school (Usulism) that stressed the power of the clergy. This is well known. What is less well known is that there was a parallel development of authority in the Shaykhi school and its offshoot, the Babi sect. Here, especially in later forms of Babism, the Shiʿite claim to charismatic authority reached its limits in hyperbolic attestations of divinity. The present text is in two parts: a study of how Shaykhism bifurcated into a form close to orthodoxy next to the highly unorthodox Babi movement. Part two examines how Babism changed after the death in 1850 of its founder, the Bāb.
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Biographical Note

Denis M. MacEoin, Ph.D. (1979) in Persian Studies, University of Cambridge has taught Arabic and Islamic Studies at Newcastle University. His most recent work has been on radical Islam in the United Kingdom. His previous books include The Sources for Early Babi Doctrine and History.

Review Quotes

"[MacEoin's] often excellent grasp of the notoriously complex and idiosyncratic Arabic and Persian of the Bab meant that he could go way beyond most other scholars in this field...An indispensable addition to any library claiming comprehensiveness in the !elds of Iranian, Shi`i-Shaykhi and Babi-Baha’i studies." Stephen Lambden, University of California in Religion 41.2-3 (2011).


Those interested in Iranian Shiʿism, Islamic heresiology, 19th-century Iranian history, Shaykhism and Babism; members of the Bahaʾi religion.

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