Babi Uprisings

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Babi Uprisings


popular uprisings in Iran in 1848–52 against the feudal system and, objectively, against the incipient enslavement of the country by foreign capital.

The moving forces behind the babi uprisings were the peasants, artisans, urban poor, and small tradespeople. The socioeconomic and political backwardness of Iran was responsible for the religious form taken by the uprisings and for their being led by representatives of the lower clergy and petty trade bourgeoisie of the babi sect. With the babis, the antifeudal hopes of the masses of the people acquired the form of a demand for the abolition of private property, and the struggle against exploitation turned into a dream of a happy babi kingdom with common ownership of property and equality of all people.

The first uprising took place from September 1848 to May 1849 in Mazandaran (southeast of Barfurush), where over 2,000 insurgents, chiefly peasants and tradespeople, built a fortress. Headed by the mullahs Muhammad Ali of Barfurush and Hussain Bushrua, the rebels attempted to introduce equality and common ownership of property. The uprising was crushed by troops of the shah.

The second, or Zanjan, uprising (from June to December 1850) was the best organized and most enduring. Its chief participants were tradespeople and peasants of the villages near Zanjan. Women took an active part. The rebellion was brutally crushed.

The third uprising began in June 1850 in Neyriz, where it was crushed within a few days. Thereafter, a prolonged armed struggle of the babis against the shah’s troops developed in the mountainous districts around Neyriz.

After the defeat of these three separate babi uprisings, the babi movement lost its mass character, and its leaders turned to terrorism. An unsuccessful attempt on the life of the shah Nasr al-Din in August 1852 led to mass executions of babis.


Kazem-Bek, A. K. Bab i Babidy. St. Petersburg. 1865.
Ivanov, M. S. Babidskie vosstaniia v Irane (1848–1852). Moscow-Leningrad, 1939.
Browne, E. G. Materials for the Study of Babi Religion. Cambridge, 1918.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.