Mollā Ṣādeq, known as Esm-Allāh Aṣdaq in Bahai literature, was the son of Mirzā Esmāʿil Ḵorāsāni, a cleric from a noble family in Mashhad. He received his traditional elementary education and continued his higher Islamic studies under the well-known teachers of his time in Mashhad, such as Sayyed Moḥammad Qaṣir. From a young age he became known as Mollā Ṣādeq “Moqaddas” (the holy one), due to his perceived piety and upright character. To receive further clerical education he left Mashhad for Karbala, where he studied under Sayyed Kāẓem Rašti, a prominent member of the Shaikhi sect, reached the rank of mojtahed in May 1843 (Fāżel Māzandarāni, p. 146), and became one of Rašti’s close disciples. While in Karbala in 1843, he met with Sayyed ʿAli-Moḥammad Širāzi, later known as the Bāb (1819-50), the charismatic leader of the messianic movement known as Babism, and was drawn to his manner and personality.
Upon his return to Iran, Mollā Ṣādeq resided in Mashhad for about two years, after which he moved to Isfahan. There he met with Mollā Ḥosayn Bošruʾi, studied some of the Bāb’s writings that were presented to him by Bošruʾi, accepted the Bāb’s claims after some prayerful meditations, and set out for Shiraz. While preaching and leading the congregational prayer in Shiraz, he received instructions from the Bāb to add his name to the call to prayer (aḏān). Such an action, in addition to his other activities to promote the Bāb’s claim, resulted in uproar. Mollā Ṣādeq, together with a few other Babi leaders, was arrested, scourged, mutilated, and ordered to leave the city (Foʾādi, pp. 111-13).
After being the Bāb’s guest for ten days (Foʾādi, p. 113; Samandar, p. 166), Mollā Ṣādeq went to Yazd and stayed there for about two months, after which he traveled to Kerman. There he submitted the Bāb’s Tawqiʿ, a signed epistle to the Shaykhi leader, Ḥāji Karim Khan Kermāni (Fayżi, pp. 180-82), and in numerous occasions publicly announced the Bāb’s mission. After about seventy days, he moved to Khorasan (Solaymāni, p. 396), where, circa October 1848, he accompanied other Bābis and participated in the upheaval at the shrine of Shaikh Ṭabarsi near Bārforuš, and was one of the few to survive the struggle (Foʾādi, p. 115).
Following his return from Ṭabarsi, he fearlessly and actively propagated the Babi faith from 1849 to 1860 and invigorated the Babi communities, while constantly being attacked, reviled, and denounced by his adversaries (Fāżel Māzandarāni, p. 153). In 1860, he and a few members of his family traveled to Baghdad and met with Bahāʾ-Allāh. Impressed by Bahāʾ-Allāh’s personality and attracted to his spiritual status, Mollā Ṣādeq’s encounter with Bahāʾ-Allāh marked a new chapter in his life as a defender, teacher, and promoter of the Bahai faith.
They stayed in Iraq for fourteen months (Solaymāni, p. 400. Mollā Ṣādeq, upon his return to Iran, traveled extensively to Tehran, Kashan, Isfahan, Yazd, and various cities in Khorasan. After his return to Mashhad, he was arrested in 1861 and sent to Tehran after a week, where he was jailed with his young son for twenty-eight months. During his imprisonment, he attracted a number of prisoners to the Babi faith, including Ḥakim Masiḥ, a Jewish physician who would attend to the prisoners. Upon his release from prison and a short stay in Tehran, he went back to Khorasan and continued his activities for another three years. Then he again traveled to Tehran, Kashan, Isfahan, and Yazd and returned to Mashhad (Foʾādi, pp. 115-17).
In early 1874, after receiving the instructions of Bahāʾ-Allāh, he traveled to Acre and stayed there for four months. Upon his return to Iran via Mosul and Baghdad, he fell sick in Hamadan and passed away in 1874 after about twelve days. He is buried in Šāhzāde Ḥosayn cemetery in Hamadan (Rafati, p. 336; Foʾādi, pp. 118-19).
Mollā Ṣādeq’s most notable services to the Babi-Bahai faiths include his open announcement of the Bāb’s advent, particularly in Shiraz and Kerman, helping the Bahais of Tehran in safekeeping and changing the secret hiding place of the remains of the Bāb, and causing the Babis, and particularly the Babi leaders, to enter the Bahai faith. It was especially important to bring some of the Afnān (relatives of the Bāb) of Yazd to the recognition of Bahʾ-Allāh’s status as the fulfillment of the Bāb’s mission. He was responsible for attracting Ḥakim Masiḥ to the Bahai faith as the first Bahai with Jewish background in Tehran (Rafati, pp. 395-98). Mollā Ṣādeq was in charge of the transcription and distribution of a major work of Bahāʾ-Allāh, Ketāb-e badiʿ, in Khorasan (Ešrāq Ḵāvari, pp. 341-42). He was also reported to have written a treatise to establish the righteousness of Bahāʾ-Allāh as the promised one of the Babi dispensation and rejecting the claim of Mirzā Yaḥyā Nuri Ṣobḥ-e Azal as the legitimate successor of the Bāb (Samandar, p. 171), but the whereabouts of this treatise have yet to be established. It is also important to note that Mollā Ṣādeq and close members of his family were recipients of more than two hundred and fifty tablets (lawḥ) by the spiritual leaders of the Babi-Bahai faiths (Rafati, pp. 3-325).
Mollā Ṣādeq was posthumously named by ʿAbd-al-Bahāʾ as one of the Ayādi-e Amr Allāh (Hands of the cause of God), and was considered a martyr (šahid) by Bahāʾ-Allāh (ʿAbd-al-Bahāʾ, p. 5; Rafati, p. 342). He left behind a distinguished family known in Bahai history for their services to the Bahai faith. His son, Moḥammad-ʿAli b. Aṣdaq, was one of the four Hands of the Cause of God appointed by Bahāʾ-Allāh (Harper, pp. 9-12).
ʿAbd-al-Bahāʾ, Memorials of the Faithful, Wilmette, 1971, pp. 5-8.
Abu’l-Qāsem Afnān, Ahd-e aʿlā: Zendagāni-e Ḥażrat-e Bāb, Oxford, 2000, pp. 123-29.
H. M. Balyuzi, Eminent Baháʾís in the Time of Baháʾu’lláh, Oxford, 1985, pp. 7-23.
ʿAbd-al-Ḥamid Ešrāq Ḵāvari, Raḥiq-e maḵtum, 2 vols., Tehran, 1973-74, II, pp. 340-42.
Moḥammad-ʿAli Fayżi, Ḥażrat-e Noqṭa-ye ulā: The Life of the Bāb, Langenhain, 1994, pp. 180-82.
Asad-Allāh Fāżel Māzandarāni, Tāriḵ-e ẓohur al-ḥaqq, 3 vols., Tehran, n.d., pp. 145-53.
Ḥasan Foʾādi Bošruʾi, Tāriḵ-e diānat-e Bahāʾi dar Ḵorāsān, ed., Minudoḵt Foʾādi and Faridun Vahman, Darmstadt, 2007, pp. 108-19.
Barron Harper, Lights of Fortitude, Oxford, 1997, pp. 32-41.
Noṣrat-Allāh Moḥammad-Ḥosayni, Hażrat-e Bāb, Dundas, 1995, pp. 205-6, 248-52, 270-72, 480.
Vahid Rafati, Payk-e rāstān, Darmstadt, 2005, pp. 329-38.
Shaikh Kāẓem Samandar, Tāriḵ-e-Samandar, Tehran, 1974, pp. 162-71.
ʿAziz-Allāh Solaymāni Ardakāni, Maṣābiḥ-e hedāyat, 9 vols., Tehran, 1947-75, VII, pp. 374-418.
Adib Taherzadeh, The Revelation of Baháulláh III, Oxford, 1983, pp. 253-58.
Originally Published: June 27, 2016
Last Updated: June 27, 2016Cite this entry:
Vahid Rafati, “ḴORĀSĀNI, MOLLĀ ṢĀDEQ,” Encyclopædia Iranica, online edition, 2016, available at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/khorasani-molla-sadeq (accessed on 27 June 2016).