The examination of the Bab at Tabriz is one of the defining events in the history of the Bab. In fact, it is such a critical element of history, that a verdict in this trial in favor of the Bab could establish his credibility without a shred of doubt. Alternatively, a decision against the Bab could reaffirm that the Bab was a heretic - a spineless individual who had no knowledge, yet claimed to be a representative of Allah - The Creator of all Branches of knowledge. One could also conclude that Bab attempted to usurp the title of Mohammed Ibnil Hasan - the very Imam who he claimed to be a servant of in his book Qayyamul Asma and to whose authority he submitted to at different points of time in his life.

Pay attention to these elements of history in the life of the Bab - from his declaration to Mulla Hussain Bushrui in May 1844, the Bab was imprisoned in Mahku in August 1847 till April 1848 wherein he was transferred to Chiriq. In June 1848, a conference of Babis took place in Badasht (where he was declared a prophet, and not the Mahdi by the Babis). Following this incident and other incidents of periodic violence in Iran, the Bab was finally summoned to the city of Tabriz for a hearing on his claims in July 1848.

The examination of Tabriz has been reported at several places. A few of the reports of the event are given below

  • The Trial of the Bab in Mamaqani's Namus-i Nasiri
  • The Trial of the Bab in Traveller's Narrative
  • The Trial of the Bab in Dawn Breakers

    Analyzing the Bab's examination

    • The Bab claims that his writings were from Allah and that Allah gave him this title. However as the event progresses, we see that the writings of Bab are full of basic grammatical errors and mistakes. Besides this, the contradictions in the writings of the Bab are apparent to the objective reader.

    • The questioners of the Bab are extremely clear that the claim of the Bab prior to the examination is that of the Gate to the Hidden Imam. This underscores the fact that the Bab commenced his mission and attracted followers on the basis of the claim to being the gate of the twelfth Imam.

    • The questioners of the Bab correctly mention the genealogy of the Twelfth Imam - that he is the son of Imam Hasan Askari (the eleventh Imam) and Janabe' Narjis. The Bab does not question this.

    • The Bab is informed about the signs of the twelfth Imam - that he was born in 255 AH in Samarrah; that he would appear with the sword and that he would possess the signs of the previous prophets and Imam. The Bab does not contest this.

    • The Bab is requested to produce any one of the heirlooms of the prophets to establish his claim. The Bab is unable to do so.

    • The Bab is requested to produce a miracle to verify his claim. The specific miracle requested is to turn his staff into a dragon (as in the case of Hazrat Musa (as) who turned his staff into a snake). The Bab is unable to do so.

    • The Bab pronounces that his miracle is to reveal verses. This "miracle" is contested successfully by the questioner who reveals an even better verse, yet does not claim that it is a miracle. The Bab is silenced.

    • The Bab claims that 40,000 scholars would oppose his advent. Then alters it to 40. However he is unable to offer any reference for this statement. In addition, an onlooker questions the credibility of the Bab by saying that the actual twelfth Imam would never have permitted such questioning (Traditions clearly indicate that the twelfth Imam will not offer allegiance to any government, not ever be under the yoke of any authority). The Bab does not contest this.

    • The Bab openly admits to his lack of knowledge about the following subject (readers should note the sheer range of subject on which the Bab disclaims any knowledge thereof) - arithmetic, philosophy, religious law, medicine, laws of Arabic (grammar and syntax), astrology and astronomy (the Bab actually gets confused between the two). It appears that other subjects did not come up in the list simply because the Bab was not questioned about them!

    • The Bab claimed that if the jinn and men assemble together, they could not produce the like of half a word from his book. This is ridiculous - how does one actually produce half a word?

    • The Bab claimed that he drank the blood of Imam Hussain (as). The Bahais may consider the drinking of blood as a source of pride for the Bab - however even for the most irrational reader drinking blood will be something to be condemned, not venerated. Drinking blood reminds ones of parasites and not of prophets. It is an act of depravity which would never be condoned by any community. Yet, the Bahais feel proud that Bab drank the blood of Imam Hussain (as). It is terrible.

    Consider the situation - on one hand we have the Bab at the helm of the affair and whose claims are being contested. On the other hand, we have the Crown Prince of Iran and the highest religious authorities in the country. Such was the audience and the opportunity presented to the Bab to put forth his claims and establish that he was the vicegerent of Allah.

    The scene was probably no different to that of Hazrat Musa (as) in the court of the Pharaoh, that of Hazrat Ibrahim (as) in the court of Nimrood or Hazrat Isa before the Jews. An opportunity to establish their credentials and present their case before the highest authority of the land. Yet, the true prophets of Allah - Musa, Ibrahim and Isa proceeded from the trial in the manner that befit their status and position. They rendered their opponents speechless and presented convincing and forceful arguments. In the event of Hazrat Musa, he was permitted to present such miracles (the shining of his hand, the conversion of his staff into a snake) that forced others to bow before him.

    However the Bab presented an extremely weak case for himself at Tabriz. He claimed ignorance in languages, mathematics, and astronomy - rather to almost every question that he was asked. The words used by him to questions on the subject were "I have not learnt these" or "I have forgotten."

    The Bahais may argue that none of the prophets actually succeeded in convincing the authorities of their claims - Hazrat Isa was still persecuted by the Jews, Hazrat Musa was still hounded by the Pharaoh and as for Hazrat Ibrahim, he was sentenced to death by fire by Nimrood. In the same manner, the Bab was wronged at the hands of the Shah and the religious authorities of Iran.

    The above argument is baseless and does not hold any water for the following reasons.

    • The prophets were ridiculed out of spite and not out of contempt for their knowledge. The Bab was condemned for knowledge - rather the abject lack of it. Note how he denies having knowledge of any human science. He fails to establish his position as a representative of God by disclaiming any information about the previous prophets or even traditions.

    • The prophets were asked to recant from their beliefs. However none of them ever did. The Bab however recanted as he had done in the past after this trial. The recantation of the Bab after the trial at Tabriz is a pathetic display of his gutless and cowardly character.

    • The prophets presented firm and conclusive arguments for their Prophethood and Messengership. They even presented miracles to establish their association with the Creator whom they were representing. The Bab did none of the above. His only claim to fame was the quantity of his revelation and not the quality. Surely an objective reader will accept that quality and not quantity will be the benchmark of a miracle.

    • Finally, non acceptance of a claim by the masses is not and cannot be the benchmark to establish the veracity of the representative of Allah. If this were so, then all those individuals who ever made a claim should be accepted. The truthfulness of a prophet is established by his knowledge - both apparent and hidden, the strength of his arguments and firm explanations, the performance of miracles and his steadfastness. The Bab failed on all these counts at the trial at Tabriz.

    The Bahais also assert that the Bab maintained a dignified silence; that the entire examination was a farce and that the sentence was a foregone conclusion. These arguments are nothing but a question of sour grapes. One can refer to the event when Imam Ali bin Hussain (the fourth Shiite Imam) was called to the court of the depraved Yazid in Syria along with his family member (this shameful incident occurred immediately after the martyrdom of Imam Hussain (as) in Karbala). In an environment fraught with hostility and danger, the Imam delivered a sermon which conclusively established his credentials. This was this sermon and others like these which led to the revolution which ultimately overthrew the oppressive government. Yes, the Bab maintained a silence - not once but at different times during the examination simply because he had no reply to the questions put to him.

    It is important to note that leading Bahai individuals like Shoghi Effendi have tried to distort history by concealing the actual examination and misrepresenting the facts of the event. Needless to say, since Shoghi was not present at the actual event, he would have referred to some books or narrations in history - which books are these? Why is Shoghi's narration of the event in Dawn Breakers which came much after Traveller's Narrative so radically different and inclined in favor of the Bab? The eye-witness accounts of the event are so tangential to Shoghi's report, yet there are so many of such accounts that it put a question mark on the bias in Shoghi's reporting.

    The Bab - Life and Times

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