Conduct a research paper on any topic related to the course, Baha’i Faith in Iran.

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February 13, 2021
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February 13, 2021

Conduct a research paper on any topic related to the course, Baha’i Faith in Iran.


For your research paper which is 6 double spaced pages, you need to come up with a topic that is related to the course, study and research the topic, and write a coherent paper with adequate citations and references.

  • 6 pages (double spaced)
  • 5 sources
  • Include a separate outline (will not count towards page count)
  • Should address a topic of your choice which deals with a specific aspect of Baha’i culture and history in Iran
  • Topic of your research paper is decided by you
  • This is a research paper and therefore you need to go beyond the course readings and lectures
  • It is always better to have a specific topic
  • Sources should be adequately cited (MLA format)
  • Paper must be accurate in terms of spelling and grammar

The following website is an academic Baha’i website and is useful for research. Not all papers there are necessarily accurate but it is a useful site.

The professor’s website may also be useful even though it is a developing site: (it has English and Persian sections)

Example of topics provided by professor are Tahirih, or Badasht, ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s travels to the West 1911-13, The development of Baha’i administrative institutions, persecution of the Baha’is in Iran after the Islamic revolution, Teaching of Baha’u’llah on almost any topic like peace, equality of men and women, political democracy, abolition of slavery, oneness of humankind, universal auxiliary language, elimination of prejudice and the like, letters of Baha’u’llah to leaders of the world, Ridvan festival, letters of the living, globalization of the Baha’i Faith, any works of the Bab like Persian Bayan, or Commentary on the surih of Joseph, the comparison of Usuli school with Baha’i concept of independent investigation of truth, the declaration of the Bab, the unique principle of covenant in Baha’i history, the contribution of the Baha’is to the development of Iran, discussion of any of the writings of Baha’u’llah, any of the writings of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, and any of the writings of Shoghi Effendi, the Baha’i principle of unity of all religion, and comparing another religion or philosophy with Baha’i Faith on almost any topic…

Course description/background:

  • This course is a general introduction to Baha’i history. Despite 170 years of systematic persecution, denial, and marginalization of the Baha’is by both religious and political authorities, the Babi/Baha’i movement remains an integral part of Iranian history and culture which has played a crucial role in the emergence of various reform movements in modern Iran.
  • The modern Iran is rooted in the Safavid royal theocratic dynasty, which was followed by a century of chaos, the Qajar dynasty, the Pahlavi dynasty and finally the current clerical theocracy of the Islamic Republic. During their time in power, the Qajars played a decisive mediating role in this period characterized by increasing significance of the Shi’i clerics in Iran’s culture and politics. Both the Babi and Baha’i movements emerged during the Qajar dynasty in Iran. The Babi religion began in 1844 in the city of Shiraz and was followed in 1863 by the Baha’i Faith. Baha’u’llah, the founder of the Baha’i Faith, has identified himself as a reformer of religion, Iran, and the world. Baha’i vision introduced a historical as well as a global consciousness to traditional forms of religious and mystical discourse. While during both 19th and 20th centuries Iranian critique of political despotism has frequently sought refuge in submission to the Shi’i clerical dominance, the Baha’is have consistently called for the separation of church and state, and advocated both political and spiritual forms of democracy as the appropriate path for social reform.

We will begin our study by examining the social, economic, political, and religious context of the rise of the Babi/Baha’i movement in 19th century Iran. Next, our study will concentrate on the history of the Bab, his movement, and teachings. Subsequently we will focus on the history of Baha’u’llah and his worldview. We will then study the globalization of the Baha’i Faith during the ministry of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, followed by the institutionalization of the movement through Shoghi Effendi and the rise of the administrative order. The final part of the course emphasizes the interaction of the Baha’is and the Iranian state and society.

Main questions and concepts we focused on throughout the course:

  • Baha’u’llah writes about his childhood experience in connection with the Bani Qurayza episode. Explain.
  • In 1839 Baha’u’llah emancipated his slaves. What is his explanation for this action?
  • Baha’i Faith begins by this statement: Verily we shall render thee victorious by thyself and by thy pen. Explain the message of this statement.
  • Baha’u’llah left Baghdad, after one year staying there, to withdraw to the mountains of Sulaymaniyyih. Why?
  • The Bab educated the Babis in a way that vast majority of them actually accepted the claim of Baha’u’llah as the promised One. Explain.
  • During Baghdad period, a fundamental difference emerges between the ways Baha’u’llah and Yahya Azal interpreted Babism. Explain.
  • Explain the principles/statements announced by Baha’u’llah in the garden of Ridvan (Rezvan).
  • During Adrianople, the Most Great Separation happened. Explain.
  • The Exile of Baha’u’llah to Akka became an example of the “cunning of Reason”. Explain.
  • What was Baha’u’llah’s reaction to the Urabi revolt?
  • There were two distinct signs during the life of Baha’u’llah indicating that he would appoint ‘Abdu’l-Baha as his successor. Explain.
  • Discuss the content of the Book of Covenant and its significance in religious history.
  • Life of ‘Abdu’l-Baha can be divided into three distinct phases. Explain.
  • ‘Abdu’l-Baha went to Beirut in June 1880. Why?
  • Two early works of ‘Abdu’l-Baha are in fact addresses to the people of Iran: Secret of Divine Civilization, and A Traveler’s Narrative. Explain the main point of these books
  • ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s work, The Treatise on Politics, was written in a critical point of Iranian and Baha’i history. Explain the context and the main message of the book.
  • During ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s ministry the first stage of the globalization of the Baha’i community became a reality. Explain.
  • Discuss the reasons for the conversion of the Jews and Zoroastrians in significant numbers to the Baha’i Faith in Iran.
  • During “the years of peril,” Ottoman Sultan ‘Abdu’l-Hamid intended to exile and kill ‘Abdu’l-Baha. Why?
  • Discuss ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s position with regard to the Constitutional Revolution in Iran.
  • ‘Abdu’l-Baha constructed a shrine on Mount Carmel. Why?
  • What is the connection between the Young Turks’ Revolution in 1908 and ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s travel to Africa, Europe, and America?
  • Explain the implications of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s visit to the West in relation to orientalist worldview.
  • What was the basic message of ‘Abdu’l-Baha to the West?
  • Discuss the knighthood of ‘Abdu’l-Baha.
  • Unlike O’dea’s pessimistic theory of institutionalization of charisma, Shoghi Effendi conceptualizes history of the Baha’i Faith as a process of three ages. Explain
  • Shoghi Effendi’s ministry was centered on his interpretation of three texts. Explain
  • Discuss the present form of the Baha’i administrative order.
  • The entire history of Iran can be described as one dialectical process. Explain.
  • What were the consequences of making Iran a shi’ih state during the Safavid period? Explain.
  • Safavid state and the current Iranian Islamic Republic are both theocratic forms of state. Yet they are very different. Explain
  • Briefly describe the difference between Akhbari and Usuli schools of Shi’ih Islam, and the consequence of Usuli rise to power.
  • Discuss the Shaykhi school of Shi’ism and its basic beliefs.
  • 19th century Iran is a century of confronting modernity. Explain.
  • The declaration of the Bab symbolizes a new definition of religion in his writings. Explain.
  • The declaration of the Bab in 1844 was accompanied with intense millenarian expectations among the Shi’ih Muslims. Explain.
  • According to the Bab, all beings are a gate (bab). Explain.
  • Throughout his first book, the Bab calls himself “Dhikr” (zekr). What is the spiritual meaning of this title?
  • In his early works, the Bab spoke as if he is the Gate to the Hidden 12th Imam. But those same writings clearly showed that his real claim is far higher. Explain.
  • Who are the Letters of the Living, and why they are called by that name?
  • The ministry of the Bab can be divided in two parts, before and after the summer of 1848. Discuss the difference between the two periods.
  • Who is Tahirih? Discuss her life.
  • Why Mirza Aghasi, the prime minister of Muhammad Shah, did not wish the Bab to meet the Shah? Explain.
  • Discuss the Badasht Conference.
  • Discuss the interrogation of the Bab in Tabriz.
  • Briefly discuss the reasons for Tabarsi, Zanjan, and Nayriz episodes.
  • Discuss the Tablet of the Bab entitled “Declaration of the Advent of the Qa’im”.
  • Describe and explain the significance of the execution of the Bab.
  • The Bab reinterpreted the ideas of heaven, hell, and the Day of Resurrection. Explain.
  • Writings of the Bab are centered on the idea of “He Whom God shall make manifest”. Explain.
  • Instead of the traditional idea of “abrogation” (naskh), the Bab creates the word Irtifa’ to refer to that idea. Explain.
  • What is the position of the Bab on the question of Jihad or holy war? Explain.
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