Erik Spangler, Tahirih (2003)

Virtually simultaneous with the historic Women's Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, NY, there occurred an event in Persia which galvanized a movement for the emancipation of women in that part of the world. A woman called Tahirih had become a revered teacher among the followers of the Báb ("Gate"), a young man who was proclaiming the advent of a new world faith. Tahirih was one of three key leaders of the Báb'i community who hosted a pivotal conference at a place called Badasht, to determine whether the Báb was the herald of a new religious dispensation:

"In Badasht, there was a great open field. Through its center a stream flowed, and to its right, left, and rear there were three gardens, the envy of Paradise. One of those gardens was assigned to Quddús, but this was kept a secret. Another was set apart for Tahirih, and in a third was raised the pavilion of Bahá'u'lláh. On the field amidst the three gardens, the believers pitched their tents. Evenings, Bahá'u'lláh, Quddús and Tahirih would come together. In those days the fact that the Báb was the Qá'im had not yet been proclaimed; it was the Blessed Beauty [Bahá'u'lláh], with Quddús, Who arranged for the proclamation of a universal Advent and the abrogation and repudiation of the ancient laws.

Then one day, and there was a wisdom in it, Bahá'u'lláh fell ill; that is, the indisposition was to serve a vital purpose. On a sudden, in the sight of all, Quddús came out of his garden, and entered the pavilion of Bahá'u'lláh. But Táhirih sent him a message, to say that their Host being ill, Quddús should visit her garden instead. His answer was: "This garden is preferable. Come, then, to this one." Tahirih, with her face unveiled, stepped from her garden, advancing to the pavilion of Bahá'u'lláh; and as she came, she shouted aloud these words: "The Trumpet is sounding! The great Trump is blown! The universal Advent is now proclaimed!" The believers gathered in that tent were panic struck, and each one asked himself, "How can the Law be abrogated? How is it that this woman stands here without her veil?"

"Read the Súrah of the Inevitable," said Bahá'u'lláh; and the reader began: "When the Day that must come shall have come suddenly... Day that shall abase! Day that shall exalt!..." and thus was the new Dispensation announced and the great Resurrection made manifest. At the start, those who were present fled away, and some forsook their Faith, while some fell a prey to suspicion and doubt, and a number, after wavering, returned to the presence of Bahá'u'lláh. The Conference of Badasht broke up, but the universal Advent had been proclaimed.

-Abdul Baha, "Memorials of the Faithful"

The moment of Tahirih's revolutionary unveiling and proclamation were the central inspiration for the music which I have named after her. My imagining of this event is translated into ritualized movement and sound as an offering to the spirit she embodied.


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