Russia and the Baha'iFaith

Tahirih was the subject of a play, “The Bab,” put on in Saint Petersburg, Russia, in 1904. The playwright, Berta Friedberg, who went by the pen name Isabella Grinesvkaya, may have heard about the Bab from Ivan Turgenev, who was reported to have often spoke of the Bab.


Leo Tolstoy read Grinesvkaya’s play and wrote to her expressing his admiration for the Baha’i teachings. Her work introduced the Bab and Baha’u’llah to Russians—she wrote a play on Baha’u’llah as well.

The five-act play (click here to read in Russian ) is a fanciful account of certain events from the life of the Bab as seen through the eyes of Tahirih. The Bab  proclaims himself to be the Bab, a ‘new man’, and speaks forcefully on the position of women in the Qur’an. At his execution, the Bab appears Christ-like. While not historical in any sense, Grinesvkaya’s play was celebrated in the press as a source of spiritual inspiration.

Grinesvkaya thought that the Baha’i Faith had disappeared until after her play appeared in 1903, when she received a letter from a Baha’i in Baku, Azerbaijan, requesting a copy of it. The subsequent correspondence showed her that there were active Baha’is in the world. She eventually became a Baha’i after moving to Constantinople which had a large Baha’i community.

For a history of the Baha’i Faith in Russia and Russian territories click here