Division amongst the followers of Ali Mohammed Shirazi - The Bab

The founder of Bahá'í Faith Mirza Ali Mohammed Shirazi known as Bab, was a disciple of Sayed Kazim Rashti the leader of the Shaikhiya sect. When Sayed Kazim Rashti died in 1844, Four of his discipiles claimed to be the successor of Sayed Kazim Rashti

  1. Mirza Ali Mohammed Shirazi
  2. Haji Mohammed Karim Khan
  3. Shafee Tabrizi
  4. Mirza Tahir Haqaq-e-Ishfahani

On the 23rd of May, Mirza Ali Mohammed Shirazi announced that he was "The Bab" (the Gate) .The first to accept his claim of Babhood was Mulla Hussain Bushroee whom Bab gave the title of Bab-ul-Bab (The gate of the Gate) and "Awwalo Man Amana" (the first to believe). Within a short time Mirza Ali Mohammed gathered 18 followers around himself. He gave them the title of "Huruf-e-Hayy" (The Letters of Life) and sent them to different areas of Iran for propagation while he himself went to Mecca for Hajj. In Mecca, according to one report, he claimed to be "The Mahdi" (The guided one).

Bayanis (Azalis) and Bahá'ís

In his lifetime Mirza Ali Mohammed had appointed Mirza Yahya, the son of Mirza Buzurg, and the stepbrother of Mirza Husain Ali as his successor. The same Mirza Husain Ali later came to be known as "Bahá'u'lláh."

Mirza Ali Mohammed Shirazi (The Bab) had given Mirza Yahya the title of "Subhe' Azal" (Everlasting Dawn). He also gave his ring, his personal effects and also the authority to explain and comment on his (Mirza Ali Mohammed Bab's) writings.

While in exile in constantinopole where Bahá'u'lláh stayed for 4 years and it was from there that he announced that he was the real and true successor of Mirza Ali Mohammed Bab (And not his step brother Mirza Yahya Subh-e-Azal) and also that Allah, the Most High, had given him a more honored and lofty position than his predecessor.

Despite Mirza Ali Mohammed's clear announcement of the appointment of Mirza Yahya as his successor, a few others also rose up with claims of successorship after his death. Amongst them was a Bahá'í from Tabriz, Mirza Abdullah, who was thrown in the Arabian rivers by some Bahá'ís on the orders of Mirza Husain Ali. Likewise an Indian Bahá'í, Aga Bashir Mohammed had also forwarded his claim but he did not receive any response.

Subh-e-Azal along with most of the 18 special companions of Mirza Ali Mohammed Bab severely opposed this claim of Mirza Husain Ali and came to Constantinople to bring back Mirza Husain Ali to the right path. Thus a severe discord broke out amongst the Bahá'ís themselves and they began to kill each other openly. Finally, Mirza Yahya went into a recluse and Mirza Husain Ali became the sovereign leader of Bahá'ís.

In view of such serious circumstances, the Ottoman government intervened and sent Subh-e-Azal along with his family to Cyprus and Mirza Husain Ali with his family to Palestine. The Bahá'ís thus got divided into two distinct groups, the followers of Subh-e-Azal came to be known as "Azalis" (The Bayanis) and the followers of Mirza Husain Ali became famous as "Bahá'ís."