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The Trumpet Blast – A New Book About Tahirih

May 19, 2024, in Articles > Books, by

Roya Akhavan has written a book about Tahirih that shares never-before seen excerpts from her discourse. It is called The Trumpet Blast: Removing the Veil from the Advent of the Promised One. I will readily admit; I knew very little about Tahirih other than a handful of facts and one particular oft-quoted translated poem. Roya’s book is thrilling in what it uncovers and shares, and her process of putting the book together is exciting in its own right. We are very grateful to hear from Roya about the import of this new publication and how it came to be:

Can you please tell us a little bit about yourself?

Author and scholar Roya Akhavan

I currently serve as a Professor of Mass Communication at St. Cloud State University. Throughout my career as an educator/scholar, I have been deeply interested in Baha’i scholarship and have focused on weaving the teachings of the Faith into the critical discourses of society. My recent work includes two books, Peace for Our Planet: A New Approach, and The Trumpet Blast: Removing the Veil from the Advent of the Promised One.

Can you please tell us about your book, The Trumpet Blast?

Religious prophecies throughout history have converged on a common expectation; the advent of a world redeemer who will fulfill the ultimate destiny of humankind. The Trumpet Blast illuminates the station of Tahirih as the Trumpeter of the Day of Resurrection and the Remover of the Veil from the advent of the Promised One.

The book is based, in part, on an extensive body of new evidence provided by previously untranslated and unpublished poetry of Tahirih and Sacred Writings of the Bab and Baha’u’llah regarding her exalted spiritual station.

This new evidence offers valuable insights into Tahirih’s own discourse as well as the authoritative characterizations of her station by the central figures of the Faith for which she sacrificed her life. It opens entirely new vistas for understanding Tahirih’s true station in the Twin Revelations and clearly demonstrate that Tahirih’s significance in human history goes far beyond the popularized reductionistic image of her as a woman who broke free from the shackles of gender norms.

The book depicts Tahirih’s leadership in the Babi movement and demonstrates the extent to which her revolutionary actions and proclamations shook the pillars of Islamic orthodoxy throughout the Persian and Ottoman Empires. It illustrates how Tahirih choreographed her life and dedicated her every word and action to preparing humanity for the imminent revelation of the “hidden secrets” that would end the world as people knew it and set in motion a new cycle of human progress. 

The Trumpet Blast also contains extensive excerpts from Tahirih’s poetic discourse that illustrate her prolific use of the symbolism of the “veil” to signify the concealment and revelation of divine truths and the imminent unveiling of the “Face of God.” 

As one of the Bab’s foremost Letters of the Living, Tahirih was, in His words, “aware of the realities of the divine Revelation by the grace of God,” and stood prominently at the forefront in proclaiming His progressive claims to the powerful and fiercely antagonistic Shia ecclesiastic leaders. Tahirih was the exalted figure entrusted with the mission to unveil the New Dispensation, announce the fulfillment of all religious prophecies of the past, and sound the Trumpet Blast of the Day of Judgement and the Apocalypse. The vision that animated Tahirih’s heroic life and inspired the prolific stream of her discourse was that of an imminent transformation in the human civilization. And the most apocalyptic of the veils that she lifted was that from the advent of the Promised One.

What inspired you to write it?

For me, everything about the process of writing this book has been magical and miraculous. I was first attracted to conducting research on Tahirih when I found a call for contributions to a book entitled The Discourse of Women Martyrs that was left behind in the copier of our academic department. Even though I was a new professor and extremely busy with great demands on my time, my heart was strongly attracted to writing a proposal to the editors. After the proposal was accepted, I set out on a far and wide search for Tahirih’s discourse. I researched every book, wrote to every known scholar of Tahirih’s poetry, and even contacted the Research Department at the Baha’i World Center, but could not find anything beyond a handful of poems. Ultimately, by a miraculous strike of destiny, I was able to obtain three hand-written volumes containing hundreds of Tahirih’s unknown and unpublished poems from a British scholar, Dennis MacEion, who had copied them in 1977 from the National Baha’i Archives in Iran prior to their destruction in 1979.

Based upon my limited understanding of Tahirih’s station at the time, I kept searching for references to gender equality in her discourse. But I did not find any. Instead, I found a transcendent and exquisite spiritual discourse that encompassed the entirety of human history, religious prophecy, and progressive revelation of divine truths. 

For several years, I shared these findings at various forums, broadcasts, and webinars, until finally, in 2020, I decided to write The Trumpet Blast. In the course of corroborating all existing research evidence about Tahirih, I discovered several previously untranslated Sacred Writings of the Bab and Baha’u’llah that illuminated her exalted spiritual station. My translations of these tablets from the original Arabic into English were subsequently approved by the Baha’i World Center for publication as provisional translations.

Who is the book’s intended audience?

I have written The Trumpet Blast in a very concise and readable style to be accessible to a general Baha’i audience as well as to scholars of religion, students of Tahirih’s life and discourse, and seekers interested in investigating the Baha’i Faith from the perspective of Biblical and Quranic prophecies.

Could you tell us a little bit about Tahirih’s relevance for today and what she can teach us about our work to build vibrant communities?

As the world goes through fresh upheavals in the disintegrative process, Tahirih’s heroic life of unmatched courage and intense love for the truth serves as a beacon of inspiration for all of humanity. More than ever before, Tahirih’s clarion call for a new global order built upon social justice and oneness of humanity reverberates resoundingly across the planet and beckons us to act as catalysts in its realization.

Thank you, Roya, for sharing this with us.

You can purchase The Trumpet Blast from a variety of book retailers including Amazon. It is also available for purchase from the US Baha’i Bookstore.

Posted by

Sonjel Vreeland

In her innermost heart, Sonjel is a stay-at-home parent and a bookworm with a maxed out library card but professionally she is a museologist with a background in English Literature. She currently lives on Prince Edward Island, an isle in the shape of a smile on the eastern Canadian coast. Sonjel is a writer who loves to listen to jazz when she's driving at night.
Sonjel Vreeland

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