Tahirih of Qazvin was fortunate to have been born to a father, Mullah Salih, who valued the education of his numerous daughter and a mother, Amina, who herself along with several female relatives were highly educated . The men in her family were all educated clerics, several of whom had risen to the rank of 'mujtahid.' They were active participants in the theological disputes and business concerns of their bustling city of Qazvin in northwestern Iran.
Education was a rarity in 19th century Persia where over 90% of the population was kept illiterate.--much less the education of women whose lives were spent in the private sphere. Only men led public lives. Fortunately for Tahirih, her father had founded a school which drew hundreds of students from as far away as India and that included a section for girls.
Armed with a superb mind shaped by an excellent education and propelled by a strong and independent spirit, her destiny would be a life played out in public..
She studied religious jurisprudence and its principles, Islamic traditions, and Qur’anic commentary with her uncles--she memorized the Qur'an---learned Trukish along with Arabic,, and Persian literature and poetry with her mother. Persia's rich literary tradition remains popular in the West. Click here for a fresh modern translation of Attar's the Conference of the Birds in which--Baha'is may be interested to note, the birds travel through seven valleys. Click here that to see photos of women in 19th century Iran.