The Dawn-Breakers

The Dawn-Breakers

Texts & Scriptures
of the
Bahá'í Faith
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From The Báb

Persian Bayán · Arabic Bayán
Writings of the Báb

From Bahá'u'lláh

Epistle to the Son of the Wolf
Four Valleys
Gems of Divine Mysteries
Gleanings · Kitáb-i-Aqdas
Kitáb-i-Íqán · Hidden Words
Seven Valleys
Summons of the Lord of Hosts
Tabernacle of Unity
Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh

From `Abdu'l-Bahá

Paris Talks
The Secret of Divine Civilization
Some Answered Questions
Tablets of the Divine Plan
Tablet to Dr. Forel
Tablet to The Hague
Will and Testament

From Shoghi Effendi

The Advent of Divine Justice
Bahá'í Administration
God Passes By
World Order of Bahá'u'lláh
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The Dawn-Breakers: Nabíl’s Narrative of the Early Days of the Bahá’í Revelation or Nabíl's Narrative (Táríkh-i-Nabíl) is a historical account of the early Bábí and Bahá'í Faiths penned by Nabíl-i-A`zam in 1887-8. The English translation by Shoghi Effendi was published in 1932.[1]

The book relies mainly on the memoirs of surviving early Bábís and Nabíl himself was a participant in many of the scenes which he recounts. In 1887 Nabíl began writing The Dawn-Breakers with the personal assistance of Mírzá Músá, the brother of Bahá'u'lláh. It was finished in about a year and a half, and parts of the manuscript were reviewed and approved, some by Bahá'u'lláh, and others by `Abdu'l-Bahá.[citation needed]

Many of the photographs of the Bahá'í historical sites in Iran that illustrate the book were made by Effie Baker. She was requested to do so by Shoghi Effendi in the early 1930s and travelled to Iran alone by car from Haifa, Mandate Palestine, wearing a chador for safety purposes.[2]

Shoghi Effendi's intention for publishing the English translation was to inspire greater dedication and self-sacrifice in its readers. He gave importance to the study of The Dawn-Breakers and describes the Bahá'ís as "spiritual descendants of the dawn-breakers".[1] William P. Collins states that the narrative reflects, in addition to history, a universal sacred story or monomyth as described by Joseph Campbell (e.g. the story of Mullá Husayn).[3]

The narrative

The part of the book that has been published in English tells the story of the early Bahá'í history and is set in 19th century Iran until around 1853. The narrative focuses on Shaykh Ahmad and Sayyid Kazim Rashti, the life of the Báb, the Letters of the Living, among which are Mullá Husayn, Quddús, Táhirih, and further Dayyán, Hujjat and Bahá'u'lláh.


The work was first edited, partially translated into English and printed in 1932 by Shoghi Effendi, great grandson of Bahá'u'lláh and Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith. This translation covers roughly the first half of the original narrative. The original text has never been published in full, though there are Persian and Arabic translations of Shoghi Effendi's English version. The book, either the complete edition or the abridged one, has been translated in several other languages as well.[4] The original manuscript, is held in the International Bahá'í Archives in Haifa, Israel.

H.M. Balyuzi, who used the second part of the manuscript as one of his sources for Bahá'u'lláh, King of Glory, states that it mostly concerns events which Nabíl witnessed with his own eyes.[5] Significant portions of the original text were included in the eight volumes of the Tarikh Zuhur al-Haqq, a history of the Bábí and Bahá'í religions which includes copious documentary material, written and compiled by the Iranian Bahá'í scholar Mírzá Asadu’llah Fádil Mázandarání in the late 1930s and early 1940s and has been published in Persian online.


The book had a great impact on the Western Bahá'ís' understanding of their religion and its links to Bábism.[1]

Bahiyyih Nakhjavani uses the story of the theft of the Báb's saddlebag during his pilgrimage to Mecca, in chapter VII of the Dawn-Breakers, as the focal point for her novel The Saddlebag - A Fable for Doubters and Seekers.

Many groups and organizations have been named after it. Most notebly the Dawn Breakers International Film Festival[6], Dawn Breakers High School[7] in India and the LA-based music group Dawnbreaker Collective, 1966 music group by Seals and Croft called Dawnbreakers and the German-based publishing company, "DawnBreakers Publisher." [8]


  • Nabíl-i-Zarandí (1932) [1890]. Shoghi Effendi (translator). ed. The Dawn-Breakers: Nabíl’s Narrative (Hardcover ed.). Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Bahá'í Publishing Trust. pp. 676. ISBN 0-900125-22-5.  - complete edition, with illustrutions, footnotes in English and French, complete introduction and appendices.
  • Nabíl-i-Zarandí (1953). Shoghi Effendi (translator). ed. The Dawn-Breakers: Nabíl’s Narrative (Hardcover ed.). London, UK: Bahá'í Publishing Trust. pp. 507. ISBN 900125225.  - abridged, without illustrations.
  • Sorabjee, Zena (1974). Shoghi Effendi (translator). ed. Nabíl’s Narrative - Abridged (Softcover ed.). New Delhi, India: Bahá'í Publishing Trust. pp. 191. ISBN 8185091544.  - abridged, with illustrations.

See also


  1. ^ a b c Smith, Peter (2000). "Dawn-breakers". A concise encyclopedia of the Bahá'í Faith. Oxford: Oneworld Publications. pp. 118. ISBN 1-85168-184-1. 
  2. ^ Khan, J.A.; & Khan, P. (2003). Advancement of Women: A Bahá'í Perspective. Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Bahá'í Publishing Trust. pp. 216–7. ISBN 1931847037. 
  3. ^ Collins, William (1990). "Sacred Mythology and the Bahá'í Faith". Journal of Bahá'í Studies 2 (4): 1–15. 
  4. ^ There are translations in at least Dutch, French, German, Hindi and Spanish.
  5. ^ Balyuzi, Hasan (2000). Bahá'u'lláh, King of Glory (Paperback ed.). Oxford, UK: George Ronald. pp. viii. ISBN 0-85398-328-3. 
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^

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