This was the first claim of the Bab and the one made to establish that he enjoyed a special relationship with Imam Mahdi (as). This claim is reflected in the earlier writings of the Bab wherein he outlines his beliefs in the Imamate of the 12 Imams.

At the outset, it is important to let my readers know that the concept of the need for an intermediary to the twelfth Imam in the greater occultation (ghaybate' kubra) was propagated by the leaders of the Shaykhi sect. The Bab made this claim to draw the Shaykhis toward himself and to establish himself as the head of the Shaykhi sect after the demise of Sayyed Kazim Rashty. His earlier followers too believed in him simply as the gate of the hidden Imam and not as the Imam himself. This is proved by the following statement in Dawn Breakers,

"The next person whom Quddus met in Shiraz was Ismu'llahu'l-Asdaq, Mulla Sadiq-i-Khurasani, to whom he entrusted the copy of the Khasa'il-i-Sab'ih, and stressed the necessity of putting into effect immediately all its provisions. Among its precepts was the emphatic injunction of the Bab to every loyal believer to add the following words to the traditional formula of the adhan I bear witness that He whose name is Ali-Qabl-i-Muhammad (The Bab) is the servant of the Baqiyyatu'-llah."
(Ref: Dawn Breakers, page 144)

The premise for this claim of the Bab is that he believed in the twelve Shiite Imams - starting from Ali ibne Abi Talib (as) and ending with Mohammed ibnil Hasan (the twelfth Imam).

If we accept his claim of being the Bab of the hidden twelfth Imam, then firstly - we must accept automatically that Bab accepted the 11 Imams who preceded him. Traditions from the Imams (as) indicate that Imam Mahdi would have two periods of occultation (ghaybat) - the first of which would be longer than the second. During the lesser occultation (ghaybat-e-sughra ended 329 AH), the Imam had four deputies
» Usman bin Saeed Amri
» Mohammed bin Usman
» Hussain bin Rauh Nawbakhti
» Ali bin Mohammed Samari

The Bab acknowledges this fact in his book Tafseere' Surah Kauthar.

There is no doubt about the existence of the Hidden Imam. The reason is that if he did not exist no one else would have existed. As such, this matter is as clear as the sun in the sky. The problem is that the necessary corollary of doubt in his existence is doubt in God's power. Anyone who doubts the existence of God is a disbeliever. . . . As for the Muslims and the believers among the followers of the Twelve Imams, the Imamiyya, the period of his birth is proven (may my spirit and the spirit of all those in the realm of the spiritual beings -- malakut -- be a sacrifice for his Excellency!). Moreover, his short occultation and the miracles that took place in those days, as well as the signs that were given to his deputies, are also proven beyond any doubt. . . . He (the twelfth Imam) is a righteous offspring. His patronymic is Abu al-Qasim (the same nick name as the Holy Prophet Muhammad). He is the one invested with God's command (al-qa'im bi-amr allah), the proof of God's existence for God's creatures, the remaining one (baqiyyat allah) among the servants of God, the Mahdi who will guide people to the mysterious matters.

The Master of the Age (wali 'asr) will have two (forms of) occultation. During the lesser occultation, he had trustworthy and intimate deputies and agents. The period of the lesser occultation lasted for seventy four years and some days. The deputies of the respected master (may our spirits be a sacrifice for him!) include: 'Uthman b. Sa'id 'Amri and his son, Muhammad b. 'Uthman, Husayn b. Ruh, and 'Ali b. Muhammad Samarri.

In the above book, Bab has acknowledged the following:

  1. There was a hidden Imam in the year 1,260 AH. Bab had no doubt whatsoever in his mind. This is reflected in his statement that the matter about the hidden Imam is as clear as the sun in the sky.
  2. Harboring a doubt about the hidden Imam, in Bab's view, is akin to having a doubt in God's power which is equivalent, once again in Bab's view to disbelief.

  3. Bab had no doubts about the birth of the hidden Imam. He even acknowledged the name - Mohammed, the patronymic - Abul Qasim and addressed the Imam with his titles - Mahdi, Al Qaem bi amr allah, baqiyyat allah and wali 'asr.

  4. The Bab testifies to the Imam sending letters to his deputies in his lesser occultation.

  5. The Bab recounts the deputies of the twelfth Imam in the correct order of their appointment.

It is when we read Bab's Tafseere' Surah Kauthar, we recognize that it is this twelfth Imam - Mohammed ibnil Hasan and not Bahaullah who Bab has referred to in the following statements,
"O Remnant of God (Baqiatullah), I am wholly sacrificed to thee; I am content with the curses in thy way. , and have yearned for naught but martyrdom in the path of Thy love"
(Ref: Qayyamul Asma, The Bab. Quoted from Traveller's Narrative, Page 3)

"I bear witness that He whose name is Ali-Qabl-i-Muhammad (The Bab) is the servant of the Baqiyyatu'-llah."
(Ref: Dawn Breakers, page 144)

Having read the above, is there any further proof required for an objective reader that the Bab was neither the twelfth Imam nor the gate to the Imam.

Those who require further proof on the subject can refer to the book Dawn Breakers translated by Shoghi Effendi,

"Shaykh Abu-Turab questioned the Bab regarding the nature and character of His Revelation. The Bab denied the claim of being either the representative of the promised Qa'im or the intermediary between Him and the faithful."
(Ref: Dawn Breakers, page 151)

The Bab, as He faced the congregation, declared: "The condemnation of God be upon him who regards me either as a representative of the Imam or the gate thereof. The condemnation of God be also upon whosoever imputes to me the charge of having denied the unity of God, of having repudiated the prophethood of Muhammad, the Seal of the Prophets, of having rejected the truth of any of the messengers of old, or of having refused to recognise the guardianship of Ali, the Commander of the Faithful, or of any of the imams who have succeeded him." He then ascended to the top of the staircase, embraced the Imam-Jum'ih, and, descending to the floor of the Masjid, joined the congregation for the observance of the Friday prayer
(Ref: Dawn Breakers, page 154)

Readers must note that there is no tradition which indicates that there would be more than four deputies. Infact the concluding communication from the twelfth Imam to the fourth deputy Ali bin Mohammed Samari clearly indicates that there would be no deputies to follow him.

Despite the claim, there is nothing which establishes that Bab ever enjoyed a special relation with the hidden Imam. All the four deputies, from time to time, produced documents signed and sealed by the hidden Imam to conclusively establish their relationship with the hidden Imam. People wrote letters to the Imam, sometimes with their fingers for the sake of secrecy, and received replies to their questions from the Imam though the deputies. Bab produced no documents whatsoever.

To conclude, the claim of the Bab to be the gate / door to the hidden Imam was merely political in nature. The Shaykhis were without any leader. More than four months had passed since the death of Sayyed Kazim Rashty and the position of the leader of the Shaykhis was available to the one who would stake claim to it. The Bab and other prominent Shaykhis did so. The Bab simply managed to garner more support than the others and in doing so opened the gate for himself to be the door to the Hidden Imam.

The other claims of The Bab:
» Was The Bab the Mahdi - Twelfth Imam?
» Was The Bab an independent prophet?
» Was The Bab, God!? Also refer to: The position of Bab in God Passes By

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