The Primal Point: The Illustrated Chronology of the Life and Revelation of the Báb is a 12-part homage to the Báb written and illustrated by Violetta Zein. The story of His life and Revelation are told chronologically (except for Part V), and broken down into the following periods:
Part I: The childhood and adolescence of the Báb (1819 – 1841)
Part II: Búshihr and the ‘Atabát: The youth of the Báb ‘Iráq (1841 – 1842)
Part III: Khadíjih Bagúm: Wife and martyr (1842 – 1844)
Part IV: The Declaration of the Báb (23 May 1844)
Part V: Ḥurúf-i-Ḥayy: The Letters of the Living (1844)
Part VI: The Báb’s pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina (1844 – 1845)
Part VII: The Báb’s return to Shíráz (1845 – 1846)
Part VIII: The Báb’s stay in Iṣfahán (1846 – 1847)
Part IX: Máh-Kú: The Remote Mountain (1847 – 1848)
Part X: The examination of the Báb in Tabríz (July 1850)
Part XI: Chihríq: The Grievous Mountain (1848 – 1850)
Part XII: The Martyrdom of the Báb (9 July 1850)
The Primal Point is the third in a series of illustrated chronologies on the Central Figures of the Bahá’í Faith. The other two, also authored by Violetta Zein are:
The Blessed Beauty, a 10-part illustrated chronology on the life and Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh
The Extraordinary Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in 9 parts, published on the occasion of the Centenary of the Ascension of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in November 2021.
The day I started this chronology, my father sent me two quotes on WhatsApp. I uploaded them to the first page of the Primal Point before I even wrote a word, and they have guided my work for the last six months. You can find them at the top of every part in this chronology, but here they are:
“I am the Mystic Fane which the Hand of Omnipotence hath reared. I am the Lamp which the Finger of God hath lit within its niche and caused to shine with deathless splendor. I am the Flame of that supernal Light that glowed upon Sinai in the gladsome Spot, and lay concealed in the midst of the Burning Bush.”
Selections from the Writings of the Báb, Excerpts from the Qayyúmu’l-Asmá’, Chapter XCIV
“The substance wherewith God hath created Me is not the clay out of which others have been formed. He hath conferred upon Me that which the worldly-wise can never comprehend, nor the faithful discover.… I am one of the sustaining pillars of the Primal Word of God. Whosoever hath recognized Me hath known all that is true and right and hath attained all that is good and seemly, and whosoever hath failed to recognize Me hath turned away from all that is true and right and hath succumbed to everything evil and unseemly.”
Selections from the Writings of the Báb, Extracts from an Epistle to Muḥammad Sháh
The Revealed Word of a Manifestation of God is the purpose of His life on earth, God’s guidance for mankind in this Dispensation. The Primal Point is a dual enmeshed chronology, one of the life, person, and actions, and utterances, of the Báb, and the second one of the Interpretive, Philosophical and Legislative stages of His Revelation.
NAVIGATING THE CHRONOLOGY
You can seamlessly navigate the chronology between parts with the Roman numeral on the left, and within the sections of a part with the numbered menu on the right.
References for all the stories can be direction accessed with the black REF button in every part on the right-hand menu, or found by scrolling to the very bottom of each part.
The references for the photographs, maps, graphics and illustrations can be found in their caption.
For any further questions, please contact me.
The chronology contains:
❈ 36 stories about individual Commentaries, Sermons, Epistles, Tablets, Prayers, and Books by the Báb and identified with their unique Partial Inventory ID;
❈ 239 pages of referenced stories;
❈ 49 pieces of original art;
❈ 16 original maps;
❈ 46 graphics;
❈ 149 photographs, scans, engravings, paintings, and drawings.
THANKS AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
I would like to start by thanking my parents, Suzie and Kamal Zein for their constant encouragement over these many months and long hours of work.
My father, Kamal Zein was instrumental in helping me build this chronology and it is thanks to his painstaking editing that it reads more clearly now. He didn’t so much edit as help me re-create a more user-friendly, clearer, better-illustrated, more researched version of the Primal Point. This chronology would look incommensurably different if he hadn’t given it his magic touch.
Adib Masumian, my collaborator in both the Utterance Project and all matters related to research on Bahá’í history was a precious help in editing the sections on the Writings of the Báb, correcting the transliterations, providing assistance in locating some of the Báb’s most obscure Sermons, Commentaries, Tablets, Books and Prayers in the Partial Inventory, and assisting me with the more obscure points of my research. Adib is a prolific provisional translator of the Writings of the Faith and you can find his formidable output on his website.
On a different note, I would like to thank Adib and his father Bijan Masumian for their wonderful and illuminating article, which everyone should know about: The Báb in the World of Images. This article traces the genesis, history, and origin of the five known paintings (and one sculpture) of the Báb, and was the main source for two of the vignettes in this chronology that take place in Urúmíyyih in Part X: The Examination of the Báb in Tabríz, Section 3: In Urúmíyyih.
I would like to thank Dr. Nader Saiedi, author of Gate of the Heart: Understanding the Writings of the Báb, for his answers to several obscure questions regarding the Writings of the Báb, and for help locating the original Tablet in which the Báb gives a chronology for 11 dates for His pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina: the Khuṭbiy-i-Jiddah (Sermon of Jiddah), the 11th sermon of Ṣaḥífiy-i-Raḍavíyyih (Epistle of Riḍá’). The original excerpt of this Tablet in Arabic can be found on pages 142-145 of Ḥaḍrat-i-Nuqṭiy-i-Úlá, Muḥammad-‘Alí Faizi’s Persian biography of the Báb. Dr. Saiedi is also the author of Logos and Civilization: Spirit, History, and Order in the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Dr. Saiedi for his scholarship and labor of love on Gate of the Heart. This book was deeply important to me, personally, as it unlocked mysteries of the Revelation of the Báb and gave me such profound love for His Writings. Gate of the Heart is the armature that holds together the timeline of the Báb’s most important writings, the spiritual chronology-within-a-chronology that exists inside this work.
Peter Terry generously shared with me his 50-year love for the Báb and opened to me his treasury of more than 50 sources, all of which I read and most of which contributed stories to this chronology. Peter Terry is the author of 40 articles about Bahá’í history and the Bahá’í Writings on Bahá’í Library Online, including a translation into English of the Arabic Bayán, a thematic analysis and study of the Persian Bayán and a multi-series entitled Proof of the Prophets.
I cannot thank Jonah Winters enough for his legendary kindness. I inquired whether I may have missed some sources on his incredible website, Bahá’í Library Online, and he provided me with 142 sources which I had not yet consulted.
I want to thank Dr. Anthony Lee for his kindness in answering questions of general historiography and specific queries on Ḥájí Mubárak. Dr. Anthony Lee is the author of 13 articles on Bahá’í history available on Bahá’í Library Online, including Haji Mubarak, Half the Household Was African: Recovering the Histories of Two African Slaves in Iran, and Recovering the Lives of Enslaved Africans in Nineteenth-Century Iran: A First Attempt, all of which were instrumental sources for me to be able to bring Ḥájí Mubárak in this chronology and give him his rightful place in history as more than simply “the Ethiopian servant” of the Báb.
Chad Mauger, thank you for the permission to use your beautiful photograph of the Shrine of the Báb in Haifa, Israel as the frontispiece for this chronology. To see Chad Mauger’s marvelous work, please visit his Flickr page.
Earl Redman has been my writing mentor in Bahá’í history. He was the one, seven years ago now, who first instilled in me a passion for writing and discovering our rich and textured religious history. He was always available when I was trying to see clearly through events and conflicting sources, patient and kind, and full of good advice. Earl Redman is the author of 7 books on Bahá’í history:
Abdu’l-Baha in Their Midst (2011), Shoghi Effendi through the Pilgrim’s Eye: Volume 1 Building the Administrative Order, 1922-1952 (2015), Shoghi Effendi through the Pilgrim’s Eye: Volume 2: The Ten Year Crusade, 1953-1963 (2016), The Knights of Baha’u’llah (2017), Visiting ‘Abdu’l-Baha: Volume 1: The West Discovers the Master, 1897-1911 (2019), Visiting ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Volume 2: The Final Years, 1913-1921 (2020), and Agnes Baldwin Alexander Hand of the Cause of God (2022), and has several books planned for the near future.
I would like to thank my dear friend Sean McAbháile for putting me in touch with Brendan McNamara, and thank Brendan McNamara, from the bottom of my heart for giving me permission to publish the photograph of the Irish physician who treated the Báb before His interrogation in Tabríz, and after He was tortured by bastinado, Dr. William Cormick. I came across an article he wrote that was instrumental in my correcting the centuries-old incorrect narrative of the “English physician:” Dr. Cormick: The man who met the Báb (Some new facts about his life). I highly recommend this article, along with the content of his excellent website.
To my dear friend Fuad Izadinia, I want to thank you for your patience in answering my emails about the Báb and your wise, helpful perspective when I was struggling with conflicting sources. Your advice carried me through the rest of the chronology! Fuad Izadinia is the author of three fascinating articles, which I encourage you all to read: The Major Opus: A Study of the German Templers Movement and Its Relationship with the Bahá’í Faith (which was instrumental to me when I was writing The Blessed Beauty: Part IX: Mazra’ih, Bahjí, and Haifa); Ishqabad, City of Love: A Study into the Story of Those Who Became the Foremost in the Bahá’í Faith, and Panama, The Crossroads between the Continents: The Story of the Early Days of the Bahá’í Faith in Panama 1939-1972.
My deepest thanks to two authors, Janet Ruhe-Schoen, author of Rejoice in my Gladness: The Life of Ṭáhirih, and Dr. Roya Akhaván, author of The Trumpet Blast: Removing the Veil from the Advent of the Promised One. Their books were my most cherished resource when I worked on a presentation about the life and poems of Ṭáhirih, which I used to write her biography in Part V: The Letters of the Living. Their deep knowledge and abiding love for Ṭáhirih, kindled in me a passion for her that I will cherish forever. Their books should be on everyone’s shelf.
My gratitude to Steven Kolins for collating the first six articles ever published about the Bábí Faith in his wonderful article First newspaper story of the events of the Bábí Faith, on Bahá’í Library Online.
Dr. Steven Phelps, I have to thank you every time I write a chronology and express my unending and eternal gratitude to you for the Partial Inventory. It is always and forever my lighthouse, guiding me as I try to get my bearings in the twin oceans of the Revelations of Bahá’u’lláh and the Báb, and so many times, going back to the Partial Inventory gave me answers that had ripple effects on my storytelling in the chronology.
For those of you who have not yet had the pleasure, the Partial Inventory is “an unofficial catalog of over 650 works attributed to the Báb, 11,600 works attributed to Bahá’u’lláh, and 11,800 works attributed to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá which are accessible to the public, either in published form, in manuscripts held in national or institutional archives, or in digital images, texts and translations found on the Internet. The holdings of the Bahá’í World Centre Archives in Haifa, Israel, which are not open to the public, are not included.”
Every single Tablet, Prayer, Poem, Sermon, Commentary, Epistle, Book, Ode, Treatise, Epistle, and even some reported Utterances of the Báb, Bahá’u’lláh, and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá are catalogued with unique IDs. You can find where they were translated, in full or partially, authoritatively or provisionally, what language they were originally revealed in, and you can find links to musical interpretations of the work in part or in full. You can download the PDF of the Partial Inventory by clicking on this link.
Thank you to my mother Suzie Zein, for her sharp edits and corrections.
I would also like to thank my friend J. Thomas Pawlowski for his corrections and wise advice on readability of the chronology.
I want to end with my most emphatic, heartfelt thanks to my brother and web guru, guide, and expert in all things, Nicolas Zein, Thank you Nic! You were the savior of the chronology when I accidentally and permanently deleted the only copy of months of work. I still don’t know how you managed to recover my document, but if you hadn’t, there just wouldn’t be a chronology.
Thank you for reading,
With all my love,
Friday 10 March 2023
Pointe-Noire, the Republic of Congo