Handtyped and proofread by Alan Couper, formatted by Jonah Winters.

  • Return to Table of Contents

    E.G. Browne
    Materials for the Study of the Babi Religion


    AT TABRIZ IN 1848.

    [blank page]

       In February, 1912, I received from M. Hippolyte Dreyfus, the most eminent and learned European adherent of the Bahá'í doctrine, three photographs of documents connected with the interrogation to which the Báb was subjected at Tabríz in the presence of Násiru'd-Dín Mírzá (afterwards Sháh), at that time Wali-`ahd or Crown Prince, during the latter days of the reign of Muhammad Sháh, who died on Sept. 4, 1848. Concerning these documents M. Dreyfus wrote as follows in two letters dated respectively Feb.4 and Feb 9, 1912:


       "Cher Monsieur Browne,

          "J'ai grand plaisir ŕ vous communiquer les deux documents ci-inclus, sur lesquels je serais trčs-heureux d'avoir votre opinion.
       "Le premier (A) est la photographie d'une lettre de Nacer-oud- Dín Mirza (alors Wali'ahd) ŕ son pčre sur un prétendu interrogatoire du Bab ŕ Tabriz. Croyez-vous que ce soit une relation plus ou moins exacte de l'interrogatoire rapporté également dans le Nuqtatu'l- Káf? Ou bien s'agit-il d'un autre interrogatoire?
       "Le deuxičme (B) paraît bien ętre de l'écriture si caractéristique du Bab, et ętre adressé au męme Nacer-ou-Dín Mirza. Il y nie toute prétention ŕ une `Cause' ([ARABIC TEXT]) et implore la clémence.


       "B1 est la réponse des Mudjtahids.
       "Croyez-vous ce second document authentique? Il constituerait une seconde amende honorable, aprčs le reniement de Chiraz dont parle Nicolas dans la traduction du Bayán persan.
       "Je serais trčs désireux d'avoir votre opinion sur ces documents, que je m'excuse de vous prier de bien vouloir me retourner quand vous les aurez lus, ayant eu grand peine ŕ me les procurer. Il van sans dire que vous pouvez les faire photographier, car j'ai peur que le photographe de Téhéran ne les livre pas volontiers.
       "Avec mes meilleures sympathies, croyez moi toujours votre dévoué H. Dreyfus.          4. 2. 12."


       "Cher Monsieur,

          "Aprčs avoir examiné un peu plus attentivement la lettre du Bab, je ne crois pas, vu sa forme, qu'elle soit adressée ŕ Nacer-oud- Dín Mirza, et je me demande si ce n'est pas las lettre adressée au gouverneur de Chiraz dont parle Nicolas dans le préface du Bayán persan. Je fais rechercher les noms des Mudjtahids de Chiraz, ce qui pourra me fixer.
       "En tous cas je serais heureux d'avoir votre opinion.
       "Bien cordialement ŕ vous, H. Dreyfus.      9. 2. 12."

       Here follow the texts and translations of these documents. As regards the first (A) it appears certain that the writer of it was Amír Aslán Khán (ín ghulám, "this servant," as he calls himself), who, as Mírzá Jání informs us, was present at this interrogatory, and was maternal uncle to Násiru'd-Dín Mírzá, who nominally presided at it. It would appear, from certain expressions used, to be addressed to the then reigning

    1See my New History of...the Báb, p. 287, n.2 ad calc.

    [blank page]

    [full page is facsimile of document A]


    King, Muhammad Sháh. That it refers to the interrogatory of the Báb at Tabríz is clear from its agreement, as regards the questions asked and the replies given, with the accounts of the same transaction given both by the Bábí and the Muhammadan historians1.


    [sixteen lines of ARABIC TEXT]

       1These accounts I have combined in Note M at the end of Vol. ii of my edition and translation of the Traveller's Narrative (pp.277—290).


    [entire page is ARABIC TEXT]


    [entire page is ARABIC TEXT]


    [seven lines of ARABIC TEXT]


    "HE is GOD, exalted is His State.

       "May I be the sacrifice of the dust of Thy blessed feet!

       "As concerning the Báb, the Command whose course is as that of Fate had been issued that the learned on both sides should be convened and dispute with him. Therefore, in accordance with the Imperial Command, I sent an officer to bring him in chains from Urumiyya [i.e., the Castle of Chihríq] and hand him over to Kázim Khán; and I wrote a note to His Holiness the [Chief] Mujtahid that he should come and hold discussion with him with the arguments, proofs and laws of the Perspicuous Religion [of Islám]. His Holiness the Mujtahid, however, wrote in reply, `From the declarations of numerous trustworthy persons and the perusal of documents, [it appears that] this person [i.e. the Báb] is devoid of religion, and that his infidelity is clearer than the sun and more obvious than yesterday. After such evidence of witnesses there is no obligation on your humble servant to renew the discussion.'


       "I therefore summoned Akhúndi-i-Mullá Muhammad1 and Mullá Murtazá-qulí2, while of [Your Majesty's] servants this slave Aslán Khán, Mírzá Yahyá and Kázim Khán were also present in the assembly.

       "First Hájji Mullá Mahmúd3 asked, saying: `It hath been heard that thou sayest, "I am the Imám's vicegerent and the Báb"; nay, that thou hast uttered certain words implying that thou art actually the Imám or a Prophet.' The Báb answered, 'Yes, my friend, my Qibla, I am the Imám's Vice-gerent and the Báb, and what I have said and you have heard is true. It is incumbent on you to obey me, by virtue of [the saying] "Enter the Door [Báb] with adoration." But I did not utter these words: He uttered them who uttered them.' They asked, `Who, then, is the speaker?' He answered, `He who shone forth on Mount Sinai:

       "[If to say] `I am the Truth' be seemly in a Tree,4

       Why should it not be seemly on the part of some favoured man5?" There is no I-ness in the case: God hath said these things, while I am but as the Tree [or Burning Bush] on Sinai At that time [the Divine Word] was created in it, and now in me. And I swear by God that I am that person whom you have been expecting from the beginning of Islám until now; I am he whom forty thousand doctors will deny.'

       1 Called Mámqání, a notable Shaykhí divine entitled Hujjatu'l-Islám.
       2 Of Marand, entitled `Alam'l-Hudá.
       3 The tutor of the Crown-Prince, entitled Mullá- báshí, and Nizámu'l-`Ulamá.
       4 Alluding to the Burning Bush.
       5 Alluding to the celebrated Súfí mystic Husayn ibn Mansúr-i-Halláj, who was put to death in A.D. 921 for heresy and blasphemy, and chiefly for his saying Ana'l-Haqq, "I am the Truth."


       "They enquired, `In what book is this tradition that forty thousand doctors will deny?' He replied, `If it be not forty thousand, it is at any rate four thousand.' Mullá Murtazá-qulí said, `Very well; then according to this statement, thou art the Author of a [new] Dispensation. But it is in the Traditions and a necessary part of our Faith that the [Promised] One shall appear from Mecca, and that the leaders of men and Jinn, together with forty-five thousand Jinnís will believe in him, and that he will have with him the heir-looms of the Prophets, such as David's coat-of-mail, the rod of Moses, Solomon's ring, and the White Hand1. Where, now are the rod of Moses and the White Hand?' The Báb answered, `I am not permitted to bring them.' Akhúnd-i- Mullá Muhammad said, `Thou didst err in coming without permission.' Then they asked him, `What hast thou of signs and miracles?' He replied, `My miracle is this, that I can cause verses to be revealed for my staff,' whereupon he began to recite the following words:

       "`In the Name of God the Merciful the Forgiving. Glory be to God the Holy the Glorified, Who created the Heavens and the Earth as He created this staff, as one of His signs.' But according to the rules of [Arabic] grammar he wrongly vocalized the word Samáwát (Heavens) as Samáwáta. They said, `Make its [final] vowel i.' Then he recited the word al-ard (the Earth) also with a [final] i. Amír Aslán Khán observed that if such words were of the nature of `Signs,' he likewise could produce such, and proceeded to recite: `Praise be to God who created the staff as He created the morning and the evening': whereat the Báb was greatly ashamed.

       "Afterwards Hájji Mullá Mahmúd enquired saying:

       1 i.e. the Hand of Moses, which he drew forth from under his cloak "as white as snow."


    `It hath come down in Tradition that Ma'mún asked of His Holiness the Imám `Á'lí Rizá, "What is the proof of the [right to the] Caliphate of your grandfather?" His Holiness answered, "The sign of ourselves." Ma'mún said, "Were it not for our women." His Holiness said, "Were it not for our sons." Elucidate this dialogue and explain the point1.' The Báb reflected for a while, but answered nothing.

       "After that they asked some questions on Jurisprudence and other sciences, which he was unable to answer, not even the plainest juridical questions, such as those concerning doubt and error [arising during the performance of prayer2], but hung his head and again began to utter such meaningless words as, `I am that very Light which shone forth on Sinai, for it hath come down in tradition that that Light was the Light of one of the Shí`ís3.' Thereupon this servant remarked, `Wherefore shouldst thou be that Shí`í? Perhaps it was the Light of Mullá Murtazá-qulí.' Thereat he was more ashamed than before, and hung his head.

       "When the discussion was concluded, His Reverence the Shaykhu'l-Islám was summoned, who had the Báb beaten and inflicted on him an exemplary chastisement, so that he apologized, recanted, and repented of and asked pardon for his errors, giving a sealed undertaking that henceforth he would not commit such faults. Now he is in prison and bonds awaiting the decision of His Most Sacred, Royal and Imperial Majesty, may the souls of the worlds be his sacrifice!"

       1 The point is no clearer to me that it was 25 years ago when I published my translation of the Traveller's Narrative, q.v. (Vol.ii, pp.282—4 and n. 1 on p.283 ad calc.). My friend Muhammad Shafí` suggests that the allusion is to Qur'án, iii, 54.
       2 See ibid., pp.285—6 and footnotes
       3 i.e. of the followers of `Á'lí ibn Abí Tálib, the First Imám.


    [full page is facsimile of document B]


       The second document, unsigned and undated, is apparently in the Báb's handwriting and consists of a complete recantation and renunciation of any superhuman claim which he may have advanced or have appeared to advance. There is nothing to show to whom it is addressed, or whether it is the recantation referred to in the last paragraph of the preceding document or another. The handwriting, though graceful, is not easily legible, and the text appears to run as follows:

    [fourteen lines of ARABIC TEXT]

    [blank page]


    [eight lines of ARABIC TEXT]


       "May my life be thy sacrifice! Praise be to God such as He deserves and merits, in that He hath caused [those who are] the Manifestations of His Grace and Mercy under all circumstances to comprehend all of His servants. Praise be to God, and again praise, that He hath deigned to make one like your Excellency1 the source of His Clemency and Mercy, by the manifestation of whose kindness He hath pardoned His servants, cast a veil over [the faults of] sinners, and shown mercy to the transgressors. I take God to witness on His part that this weak servant never intended aught contrary to the good pleasure of the Lord of the World and the Company of Saints. Although my very existence is in itself utterly faulty, yet since my heart firmly believes in the unity of God (glorious in His mention), and the Prophethood of His Apostle, and the Saintship of the Community of Saints, and since my tongue acknowledgeth all

       1 The title might equally be rendered "Highness," "Holiness," "Reverence," etc. according to the station of the person addressed.

    [blank page]


    that hath been revealed on the part of God, I hope for His Mercy. Never have I desired aught contrary to the Will of God, and, if words contrary to His good pleasure have flowed from my pen, my object was not disobedience, and in any case I repent and ask forgiveness of Him. This servant has absolutely no knowledge connected with any [superhuman] claim. I ask forgiveness of God my Lord and I repent unto Him of [the idea] that there should be ascribed to me any [Divine] Mission. As for certain prayers and words which have flowed from my tongue, these do not imply any such Mission (amr), and any [apparent] claim to any special vicegerency for His Holiness the Proof of God (on whom be Peace!) is a purely baseless claim, such as this servant has never put forward, nay, nor any claim like unto it. Therefore it is thus hoped from the clemency of His Imperial Majesty and of Your Excellency, that they will exalt the head of him who continually prays for them by the favours and graces of their clement and compassionate court. Farewell."


       The third document, likewise undated, is addressed to Sayyid `Á'lí Muhammad the Báb, and contains the fatwá or ecclesiastical sentence of the `ulamá, by two of whom, Abu'l-Qásim al- Hasaní al- Husayní and `Á'lí Asghar al- Hasaní al-Husayní, it is formally sealed. The latter is probably the Shaykhu'l-Islám, who caused the Báb to be beaten after the Tabríz interrogatory; the former I have not yet been able to identify.

       1 Such as that he was the "Gate of Knowledge" (Bábu'l-`Ilm), or the like.
       2 i.e. the Twelfth Imám or Imám Mahdí.
       3 See Traveller's Narrative, ii, pp.20—21 and 278.

    [full page is facsimile of document B1]


    [eleven lines of ARABIC TEXT]


       "Sayyid `Á'lí Muhammad-i-Shírází:

       "In the Imperial Banquet-hall and August Assembly of His Highness the Crown Prince of the undeclining Empire [of Persia], (may God aid, support and strengthen him!) and of a number of learned doctors, thou didst admit certain matters each one of which separately implied thy apostasy and justified thy death. The repentance of an incorrigible apostate is not accepted, and the only thing which has caused the postponement of thy execution is a doubt as to thy sanity of mind. Should this doubt be removed, the sentence of an incorrigible apostate would without hesitation be executed upon thee."

      Sealed by {Abu'l Qásim al-Hasaní al- Husayní}
                {`Á'lí Asghar al-Hasaní al-Husayní}


       The last two documents, which are in English, were kindly communicated to me by Mr W. A. Shedd, who wrote concerning them as follows in a letter dated March 1, 1911:

       "Dear Professor Browne,

          "In going over papers of my father, I found something which I think may be of value from a historical point of view. I have no books here, nor are any accessible here, to be certain whether this bit of testimony (or rather these two bits) have been used or not. I think probably not, and I am sure that I can do nothing better than send them to you, with the wish that you may use them as you think best. Of the authenticity of the papers there can be no doubt.

          "Yours very truly,            W. A. Shedd."

       The first of these two documents is very valuable as giving the personal impression produced by the Báb, during the period of his imprisonment and suffering, on a cultivated and impartial Western mind. Very few Western Christians can have had the opportunity of seeing, still less of conversing with, the Báb, and I do not know of any other who has recorded his impressions. The second document, belonging to a later period, describes the circumstances attending the presentation to Násiru'd-Dín Sháh of the letter addressed to him by Bahá'u'lláh and transmitted by the hand of Mírzá Badí` in July, 18691.



        "You ask me for some particulars of my interview with the founder of the sect known as Bábís. Nothing of any

    1 See Traveller's Narrative, ii, p. 393.


    importance transpired in this interview, as the Báb was aware of my having been sent with two other Persian doctors to see whether he was of sane mind or merely a madman, to decide the question whether to put him to death or not. With this knowledge he was loth to answer any questions put to him. To all enquiries he merely regarded us with a mild look, chanting in a low melodious voice some hymns, I suppose. Two other Sayyids,1 his intimate friends, were also present, who subsequendy were put to death with him2, besides a couple of government officials. He only once deigned to answer me, on my saying that I was not a Musulmán and was willing to know something about his religion, as I might perhaps be inclined to adopt it. He regarded me very intently on my saying this, and replied that he had no doubt of all Europeans coming over to his religion. Our report to the Sháh at that time was of a nature to spare his life. He was put to death some time after by the order of the Amír-i-Nizám Mírzá Taqí Khán. On our report he merely got the bastinado, in which operation a farrásh, whether intentionally or not, struck him across the face with the stick destined for his feet, which produced a great wound and swelling of the face. On being asked whether a Persian surgeon should be brought to treat him, he expressed a desire that I should be sent for, and I accordingly treated him for a few days, but in the interviews consequent on this I could never get him to have a confidential chat with me, as some Government people were always present, he being a prisoner.

        1These were, no doubt, the two brothers Sayyid Hasan and Sayyid Husayn of Yazd, of whom the latter was especially his amanuensis.
        2 This is an error. Sayyid Husayn was put to death in the great persecution of 1852, two years after the Báb.


        "He was very thankful for my attentions to him. He was a very mild and delicate-looking man, rather small in stature and very fair for a Persian, with a melodious soft voice, which struck me much. Being a Sayyid, he was dressed in the habits of that sect, as were also his two companions. In fact his whole look and deportment went far to dispose one in his favour. Of his doctrine I heard nothing from his own lips, although the idea was that there existed in his religion a certain approach to Christianity. He was seen by some Armenian carpenters, who were sent to make some repairs in his prison, reading the Bible, and he took no pains to conceal it, but on the contrary told them of it. Most assuredly the Musulmán fanaticism does not exist in his religion, as applied to Christians, nor is there that restraint of females that now exists.



       "The story of the Bábís having reappeared in Tihrán, threatening the Sháh's life, etc. some time back, was partly true. The version of the story, as related to me by Sulaymán Khán, who was in Tihrán at the time and confirmed by others, is this. The Sháh, when out riding one day, perceived at some little distance a man mounted and equipped watching him attentively1. He immediately sent to have him seized and brought to him. The Sháh said, on his being brought, `I have observed you for some time past always following me when out riding, and as you are not a

       1 The man to whom reference is here made was undoubtedly Mírzá Badí`, who brought Bahá'u'lláh's letter to Násiru'd-Dín Sháh from `Akká to Tihrán in July, 1869.


    servant of mine, you are most probably a Bábí? To this the man, nothing daunted, replied that he was. On further enquiry he added that he was the bearer of a letter to the Sháh, and that he was seeking a favourable opportunity to present it to him, and that the letter was sent by their Chief, who had at this moment 70,000 Bábís obeying his orders. The Sháh asked for the document, which, being presented to him, was found to be a petition praying him to allow his sect, viz. the Bábís, to establish themselves in Persia and exercise their religion openly the same as Christians and other sects, [undertaking] that they would live peaceably under his rule and infringe no laws, [and] that if any doubt existed in the Sháh's mind as to their religion being the true one or not, he prayed that a conference might be granted between some members of their religion and some Musulmán Mujtahids and chief Mullás of Tihrán to discuss the points of difference between them. If they should succeed in proving that they were in the right, what further cause was there for oppressing them? If not, they consented to undergo any oppression the Sháh might subject them to, beginning by putting to death the members sent to discuss the points.

       "This petition, it appears, had no effect upon the Sháh, for he ordered the bearer of it to be taken and tortured to find out if he had any accomplices in Tihrán; but he divulged nothing, saying that he was alone, and adding that the fact of his being killed was of no consequence, as the 70,000 Bábís under their Chief were all like him, ready to die for their religion, and no doubt other messengers would be sent to kill the Sháh at last, unless he granted the prayer of the petition. Under all the great tortures inflicted on him he remained firm, writing with a piece of stick on the ground till death put an end to his sufferings. After this


    some little disturbance took place in Tihrán in searching for Bábís, but not with much result. The Bábís succeeded, however, in setting fire to an Imám-záda and burning it down. There was, however, no sign of any conspiracy existing. There are some people who think that both the Sháh and the Mustawfiyu'l-Mamálik with other great personages are disposed to allow the Bábís to exercise their religion openly in Persia, but the fear of the Mullás and their power to create a revolution against them, prevents them doing so."

    (Extract from a letter to Mr Labaree.)

       "The above was found among papers belonging to the late Rev. J. H. Shedd, D.D., of the American Mission at Urúmiyya, Persia, in whose handwriting it is. Dr Cormick was an English physician long resident in Tabríz, where he was highly respected. The letter was certainly written and the copy of the extracts made before June, 1870. Mr Labaree is the Rev. Benjamin Labaree, D.D., of the same Mission as Dr Shedd. The letter was certainly written after 1862 and probably in 1869 or 1870, as Dr Labaree spent some months in Tabríz in 1869. An Imám-záda is the tomb of a reputed descendant of one of the Imáms, and, as such, a shrine. There are many such in Persia.

                               "W. A. Shedd."


        "Amongst the documents referring to the Bábís in my possession is a manuscript copy of an article in German published on October 17, 1852 in No. 291 of some German or Austrian newspaper of which, unhappily, the name is not noted. I think that I received it a good many years ago from the widow of the late Dr. Polak, an Austrian doctor, who was a physician to Násiri'd-Dín Sháh at the beginning of his reign, and who is the author of a valuable book and several smaller treatises on Persia and matters connected therewith. It is chiefly based on a letter written on August 29, 1852, by an Austrian officer, Captain von Goumoens, who was in the Sháh's service, but who was so disgusted, and horrified at the cruelties he was compelled to witness that he sent in his resignation1. The translation of this article is as follows.

    (Number 291. October 17th, 1852.)

        "Some days ago we mentioned the attempt made on the life of the Sháh of Persia on the occasion of a hunting-party. The conspirators, as is well known, belonged to the Bábís, a religious sect. Concerning this sect and the repressive measures adopted against it, the letter of Austrian Captain von Goumoens lately published in the "Soldier's Friend" (Soldatenfreund) contains interesting disclosures, and

        1 Compare for details of this massacre Traveller's Narrative, ii, pp. 323—334.


    elucidates to some extent the attempt in question. This letter runs as follows:

    "Tihran, August 29, 1852.

        "'Dear Friend, My last letter of the 20th inst. mentioned the attempt on the King. I will now communicate to you the result of the interrogation to which the two criminals were subjected. In spite of the terrible tortures inflicted, the examination extorted no comprehensive confession; the lips of the fanatics remained closed, even when by means of red- hot pincers and limb-rending screws they sought to discover the chief conspirator....


    But follow me, my friend, you who lay claim to a heart and European ethics, follow me to the unhappy ones who, with gouged-out eyes, must eat, on the scene of the deed, without any sauce, their own amputated ears; or whose teeth are torn out with inhuman violence by the hand of the executioner; or whose bare skulls are simply crushed by blows from a hammer; or where the bázár is illuminated with unhappy victims, because on right and left the people dig deep holes in their breasts and shoulders and insert burning wicks in the wounds. I saw some dragged in chains through the bázár preceded by a military band, in whom these wicks had burned so deep that now the fat flickered convulsively in the wound like a newly-extinguished lamp.

        "'Not seldom it happens that the unwearying ingenuity


    of the Orientals leads to fresh tortures. They will skin the soles of the Bábí's feet, soak the wounds in boiling oil, shoe the foot like the hoof of a horse, and compel the victim to run. No cry escaped from the victim's breast; the torment is endured in dark silence by the numbed sensation of the fanatic; now he must run; the body cannot endure what the soul has endured; he falls. Give him the coup de grâce! Put him out of his pain! No! The executioner swings the whip, and--I myself have had to witness it--the unhappy victim of hundredfold tortures and runs! This is the beginning of the end. As for the end itself, they hang the scorched and perforated bodies by their hands and feet to a tree head downwards, and now every Persian may try his marksmanship to heart's content from a fixed but not too proximate distance on the noble quarry placed at his disposal. I saw corpses torn by nearly 150 bullets....


        "'When I read over again what I have written I am overcome by the thought that those who are with you in our dearly beloved Austria may doubt the full truth of the picture, and accuse me of exaggeration. Would to God that I had not lived to see it! But by the duties of my profession I was unhappily often, only too often, a witness of these abominations. At present I never leave my house, in order not to meet with fresh scenes of horror. After their death the Bábís are hacked in two and either nailed to the city gate, or cast out into the plain as food for the dogs and jackals. Thus the punishment extends even beyond the limits which bound this bitter world, for Musulmáns who are not buried have no right to enter the Prophet's Paradise.

        "'Since my whole soul revolts against such infamy, against such abominations as recent times, according to the judgment of all, present, I will no longer maintain my connection with the scene of such crimes...1.'

        1He goes on to say that he has already asked for his discharge, but has not yet received an answer.


    DATED MAY 10, 1862

    [blank page]

        The two following documents, which are of considerable historical interest, were most obligingly communicated to me by Monsieur A.L.M. Nicolas, at that time First Dragoman of the French Legation in Tihran, in March, 1902, and were accompanied by the following lines, written in Paris, on the 19th of that month.


            "M'occupant depuis une dizaine d'années de l'étude de la Manifestation Béyânie, il m'a été donné de recueillir beaucoup de documents inédits pendant un long séjour en Perse.

        "Seuls ceux qui regardent directement le Báb m'intéressent d'une facon immédiate: soit qu'ils concernent l'histoire, soit qu'ils se rapportent au dogme. J'estime cette tâche suffisante pour le moment, et je ne m'occuperai que par la suite de l'Imamat de Soubh-i-Ezel et de la seconde Manifestation divine en la personne de Béha.

        "L'histoire que je prépare s'arrętera donc ŕ la fuite ŕ Baghdad, ou plutôt aux exécutions qui suivirent l'attentat contre S.M. le Chah.

        "Vous vous ętes, Monsieur, magistralement occupé de cette seconde partie de l'évolution Béyânie. Aussi crois-je vous ętre agréable et utile en vous communiquant deux pičces se rapportant au séjour des exilés ŕ Baghdad. Ces deux pičces sont de la plus haute importance : elles démonstrent d'abord que le Gouvernement Persan a parfaitement sollicité du Gouvernement Ottoman l'extradition des fugitifs,


    elles sont ensuite muettes sur la personne de Soubhi-i-Ezel, ce qui vous étonnera certainement: il semble, ŕ la lecture de ces documents que, dčs ce moment Mirza Housseďn Ali fut—sinon le chef—du moins la personnalité la plus marquante du parti.

        "Les pičces originales sont de la main męme de Mirza Saďd Khan, ex-Ministre des Affairs Étrangčres. (Elles sont adressées ŕ L'Ambassadeur ŕ Constantinople). Les photographies faites par moi sont suffisantes pour reconnaître l'écriture. Le cachet se trouve naturellement au dos: c'est pourquoi il ne paraît pas sur les épreuves que je vous envoie. Elles se trouvaient toutes deux, collées sur carton percé ŕ l'endroit du cachet au milieu d'un recueil assez considérable de pičces émanant de la męme main Vezîrielle et relatives au diverses affaires soumises au Ministčre. Deux autres lettres s'y trouvaient encore relatives aux Babis. L'une est un trčs court billet du Ministre ŕ un correspondant inconnu dans lequel l'auteur affirme avoir essayé de rendre service aux sectaires, et s'étonne que ses démarches aient été dénaturées; la seconde est une longue lettre du grand Moujtehed de Tauris: dans un passage de cette lettre le prélat se fait fort de déraciner ce qu'il appelle l'hérésie.

        "Je ne pause pas de me trouver, Monsieur, un intermédiarie plus compétent et plus autorisé que vous pour la publication de ces pičces, et je suis convaincu que le Journal de la Société Royale Asiatique s'empressera d'accueillir, présentés par vous, ces éclaircissements sur un point si intéressant de l'histoire qui nous passionne tous deux.

        "Je tiens les clichés ŕ votre disposition pour le cas oů vous en aurez besoin.

        "Veuillez agréer, Monsieur, mes salutations les plus empressées.
                                    "A. L. M. Nicolas."

    [page is facsimile of the document A.6.]


        The documents in question are distinguished by the marks "A.6" and "A.7." I begin with the former, which is the shorter.


    [eighteen lines of ARABIC TEXT]



           "Although in a separate and detailed letter mention has been made of the letter of the Right Honourable Mírzá Buzurg Khán to Prince `Imádu'd-Dawla, and of the said Prince's letter to [His Majesty's] Most Sacred and Royal Presence, yet no reference is made to the sending of the originals or copies of these letters, because that detailed letter is so phrased that if you deem it expedient you can read it to their Excellencies Fu'ád Pasha and 'Alí Pasha, but had any explicit reference been made to the sending of the aforesaid originals or copies, perhaps you would not have considered it expedient to show them, whilst now it entirely depends on your own judgement. The originals of the aforesaid letters are enclosed in this packet. After perusing them you will consider the matter, and if it appears expedient you will show them exactly as they are or with some slight change and emendation. The object is that as the most emphatic Royal Command and Injunction hath been honoured by issue as to the removal and repression of these evil men1, or their arrest and the handing over of them to the officers of the illustrious Prince `Imádu'd-Dawla, or their removal from `Iráq-i-`Arab to some place which you regard as expedient, it may, if God so please, be duly and speedily fulfilled.

            "Written on the 12th of Dhu'l-Hijja, 1278"
                            (=May 10, 1862).

    1 i.e.the Bábís at Baghdád.

    [blank page]

    [page is facsimile of the document A.7.]



    [entire page is ARABIC TEXT]


    [entire page is ARABIC TEXT]


    [entire page is ARABIC TEXT]


    [entire page is ARABIC TEXT]


    [seven lines of ARABIC TEXT]


           "After the carrying out of those energetic measures on the part of the Persian Government for the extirpation and extermination of the misguided and detestable sect of the Bábís, with the details of which Your Excellency is fully acquainted1, Praise be to God, by the attention of the Imperial mind of His most potent Majesty, whose rank is as that of Jamshíd, the refuge of the True Religion (may our lives be his sacrifice!), their roots were torn up. It was proper, nay, necessary, that not one of them should be suffered to survive, more especially such as had been overtaken by the bonds and captivity of the Government. But by chance, and through the ill-considered policy of former officials, one of them, to wit Mírzá Husayn 'Alí of Núr2, obtained release from the Anbár prison and permission to

       1 Allusion is made to the great persecution of the Bábís in Tihrán in the summer of 1852.
       2 i.e. Bahá'u'lláh.


    reside in the neighbourhood of the Shrines, whose rank is as that of God's Throne1, whither he departed. From that time until now, as your Excellency is aware, he is in Baghdád, and at no time hath he ceased from secretly corrupting and misleading foolish persons and ignorant weaklings. Sometimes, moreover, he hath put his hand to sedition and incitements to murder, as in the case of His most accomplished Reverence Mullá Aqá of Darband, whom they grievously wounded with intent to kill, though Providence permitted him to survive for some while; besides sundry other assassinations which took place. Yet had his affair not then reached the pitch which it hath now attained; nor had he gathered round himself so many disciples and followers as it is heard he hath done in these days; nor did he dare to display the ambitions which he harboured, or to surround himself with armed and devoted men when going hither and thither, or passing backwards and forwards, or remaining outside his lodging, or to encompass himself with this self-devoted crew. Besides the informations which have been acquired through numerous channels by the intermediary of persons of consideration and worthy of credence, a letter from the highly-placed and well-beloved of the Supreme Court Mírzá Buzurg Khán, Consul of the Persian Government resident in Baghdád, has reached the illustrious Prince `Imadu'd-Dawla, Governor of Kirmanshahan and its dependencies, while a representation has been made by the Prince above mentioned to the most beneficent Sacred and Imperial Presence, which depicts and portrays before our eyes these proceedings of Mírzá Husayn `Alí. In face of these proceedings, it would be a proof of the most complete negligence and lack of prudence on the part of the Persian Government

    1 i.e.Karbalá and Najaf.


    to disregard these acts which may produce such deplorable consequences, and not to set itself to seek some means to remedy or remove them.

            `I see beneath the ashes the glow of fire,
            And it wants but little to burst into a blaze1.'

        "For the character and nature of this misguided sect in the dominions of the Persian Government, and their boldness and audacity in the most perilous enterprises have been repeatedly put to the proof, and it is clear that the principles of this new, false and detestable creed are based on two horrible things, first an extraordinary hostility and enmity towards this Islámic State, and secondly an incredible pitilessness and ruthlessness towards all individuals of this nation, and a readiness to lose their own lives in order to achieve this sinister object. But it is evident that, thanks be to God Most High, through the good dispositions and sincerity of the governors of the two Empires [Persia and Turkey], the developments of friendship and single-mindedness between these two powerful Islamic States have reached such a point that, alike in profit and loss, they have brought about complete participation and equality. How then should it be that the great statesmen of that Empire, after acquainting themselves with these matters, should grudge or withhold their united support and participation to the statesmen of this Sublime State [i.e. Persia] in taking the necessary measures for the removal of this [plague]? Therefore, in accordance with the Royal command, resistless as fate, of His Imperial Majesty, the Shadow of God, the Benefactor of all the protected provinces of Persia (may my

       1 This celebrated verse is the first of several written by the Umayyad Governor of Khurásán, Nasr ibn Sayyár, as a warning to his sovereign on the eve of Abú Muslim's successful rebellion in A.H. 129 (A.D. 746- 7).


    life be his sacrifice!), I your faithful friend have been ordered to convey these matters to Your Excellency's knowledge by means of a special messenger, and to instruct you without delay to seek an appointment with their most glorious Excellencies the [Ottoman] Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, and to set forth this matter in such wise as the friendship and harmony of these two Sublime States require, and as the character for benevolence and sound understanding of their Excellencies above mentioned suggests, and, having devoted the deepest and most careful consideration to all its aspects, to request of their extreme benevolence and disinterestedness the removal of this source of mischief from a place like Baghdád, which is the meeting-place of many different peoples and is situated near the frontiers of the protected provinces of Persia.

        "This point is agreed upon in the view of our statesmen, that it will not do to leave Mírzá Husayn `Alí and his intimate followers there, or to allow fuller scope to their mischievous ideas and probable actions. One of two courses appears proper in the eyes of our statesmen, to wit that if the statesmen of the Ottoman Empire are prepared to cooperate fully in this important matter with the statesmen of this country, without showing any personal consideration for those irreligious and mischievous persons, and, as is fully hoped and expected, do not introduce any discussion foreign to this question into this field wherein stands the foot of State expediency, then the best thing is that explicit orders should be given to His Excellency Námiq Pasha the governor of the Province of Baghdád, while on this side also orders should be issued to the Prince-Governor of Kirmánsháhán, that Mírzá Husayn `Alí and such of his followers and familiars as are the cause and root of the mischief should be arrested in such manner as is requisite, and handed over at the


    frontier to the officers of the afore-mentioned Prince; and that the Government should detain them, under guard and supervision, in some place in the interior of the country which it regards as suitable, and not allow their evil and mischief to spread. But supposing that the statesmen of that [i.e the Ottoman] Government hesitate, on whatever consideration it may be, to act in accordance with this first alternative, then it is unfailingly necessary that they should arrange as quickly as possible to deport and detain that mischief-maker [i.e. Bahá'u'lláh] and his several intimates from Baghdád to some other place in the interior of the Ottoman kingdom which has no means of communication with our frontiers, so that the channel of their mischief-making and sedition may be stopped.

        "Let your Excellency take such steps and show such zeal in this matter as accords with this emphatic Imperial command and the despatch of this special [King's] messenger, and let him notify his agreement in writing as soon as possible, that it may be so notified before the Most High and Sacred Presence (may our lives be his sacrifice!).

            "Written on the 12th of Dhu'l-Hijjá, A.H. 1278"
                            (=May10, 1862).



    [blank page]

        The persecutions at Si-dih and Najafábád near Isfahán took place in the latter part of 1888 and beginning of 1889; Mírzá Ashraf of `Abáda was put to death at Isfahán in October, 1888; and the Yazd persecutions took place in May, 1891. Of Mírzá Ashraf's martyrdom I published an account in the J.R.A.S. for 1888, pp. 998—9, and concerning the Yazd persecution I received several letters at the time from `Akká, enclosing one from Yazd, of which I shall here give the translations. First, however, I shall quote extracts from three letters received during the autumn of 1889 and the spring of 1890 from English residents in Persia, which throw some light on the persecutions of Si-dih and Najafábád.

    (1)    From Dr Robert Bruce, Church Missionary Society,
    Julfá, Isfahán; September
    6, 1889.

        "Yes, it is quite true that Áqá Mírzá Ashraf of Abáda was put to death for his religion in the most barbarous manner in Isfahán about October last. The hatred of the Mullás was not satisfied with his murder; they mutilated his poor body publicly in the Maydán in the most savage manner, and then burned what was left of it. Since then we have had two other persecutions of Bábís, one in Si-dih and the


    other in Najafábád. In Si-dih, where the Bábí community is small, their houses were burned and their wives and children ill- treated. The men saved themselves by flight to Tihrán, and I am told that about 25 of them have just returned to Isfahán and are in the Prince's stables in bast1. In Najafábád there are about 2000 Bábís. They tried the same game with them, but some hundreds of them took refuge in the English Telegraph Office in Julfá, and the Prince took their part and banished from Najafábád to Karbalá the Mujtahid who persecuted them, so the result is that they are freer now than they have ever been. I took very great interest in the poor people, not only for their own sakes, but for the sake of Persia also; as, if liberty is gained for them, it will be a great step towards breaking the power of the Mullás and getting liberty for all. Just before the last persecution of the Bábís the Mujtahids in Isfahán, especially Hájji [sic] Najafí, tried a persecution of Jews also, and threatened Christians with the same. The 13 rules (of `Umar I believe, at least most of them may be traced to him) were enforced for a short time: (1) that no Jew should wear an `abá2; (2) that they should wear a mark on their dress; (3) not to ride any beast of burden in the city; (4) not to leave their houses on a wet day3; (5) not to purchase merchandize [sic] from a Muslim; (6) that when a Jew meets a Muslim he is to salute him and walk behind him; (7) not to return abuse; (8) not to build a house higher than a Muslim neighbour; (9) not to eat in the presence of a Muslim during Ramazán, etc, etc."

       1 i.e. sanctuary.
       2 Cloak.
       3 This rule used also to be applied to the gabrs, or Zoroastrians, of Yazd. The reason is that an impure creature (such as a dog or an unbeliever) only defiles by contact when it is wet.

    PERSECUTIONS OF 1888-1891

    (2)From Sidney Churchill, Esqr., British Legation,
    Tihrán, December
    12, 1889.

        "The Bábí sect are multiplying in numbers daily, and their increasing multitudes are giving cause for anxiety as to the attitude which the authorities will have to adopt towards them in the immediate future. The extraordinary development of this faith is not quite in itself a source of surprise. The Persian as a rule is ready to adopt any new creed, no matter what it is; but when he finds in it as one of its fundamental principles the liberty of thought and the expression thereof, with the ultimate possibility as a result that he may shake off the oppression he suffers at the hands of the local authorities, who are beyond the sphere of the Sháh's immediate supervision and control, he readily affiliates himself with those holding such doctrines with the object of combating existing evils.

        "The spread of Bábism of late in Persia, particularly its development during the Sháh's absence, has caused much surprise, and is likely to give us trouble. But the question is, what are the real ideas of most of those professing Bábism. Do they look upon themselves as followers of a new religion, or as the members of a society for political and social reform?..."

    (3)From Walter Townley, Esq. (now Sir Walter Townley),
    British Legation, Tihrán, April
    13, 1890.

        "I am afraid I have not been able to do much for you in the furtherance of your two requests beyond having searched through our archives from A.D. 1868 to 1875 for some


    reference to the young Bábí who brought Bahá's letter to the Sháh1, without, I am sorry to say, finding any notification at all of the event, but I am told that it was in the summer (about July) of 1871 or 1872, and have still hopes of getting an authentic date fixed. Had such an event occurred under our present Minister it would most undoubtedly have been recorded, but in those days Persia was not so well known as it is now, and affairs were conducted less minutely....

        "You have doubtless heard of the late Bábí massacre at Isfahán, and I will only therefore tell you, in case you have not, the principal points. They are inhabitants of a district called Si-dih, and last summer a large number of them, owing to constant persecution, left their villages and came to Isfahán, whence after a time they returned home, with the exception of a certain number who came to Tihrán. On the return of these men to their homes about six weeks ago they were met and attacked by a mob headed by a man called Áqá Najafí, and seven or eight of them were killed and their bodies burnt with oil. They then took refuge at the Telegraph Office, and finally, after persistent representations from this Legation, have been received by the Deputy Governor. It is hoped that on the Zill[u's-Sultán]'s return in a few days they will be able to go home. Áqá Najafí has been summoned to Tihrán and well received. Of course they are said to be Bábís, though there seems to be no real proof that they are of that persuasion. When the murders took place they were under the care of an escort which was intimidated by the mob and left them."

        Concerning the Yazd persecution I received four letters in Persian, of which translations of the relevant portions here follow.

       1 i.e. Mirza Badi`. See pp.262—4 supra and footnote to p. 262.

    PERSECUTIONS OF 1888-1891

    Translation of part of a letter written to me from `Akká
    by `Abbás Efendí `Abdu'l-Bahá on August
    19, 1891.

        "The events which have recently taken place in Persia have darkened the world; one cannot speak of them save with weeping eyes and burning heart, for their recital is enough to break the hardest heart and wring from it sighs and groans. Briefly they are as follows. For some while the partisans of Mírzá Malkom Khán1 in Persia have been in a state of activity and agitation, and engaged in carrying on an active propaganda, censuring and blaming the heads of the administration and their actions. Sometimes by implication and suggestion, but in private in the plainest language, they violently attacked the conduct of the Prime Minister2 and loudly complained of the incompetence of the government and the thoughtlessness of the ruler. At length the newspaper Qánún3 appeared, and Shaykh Jamálu'd-Dín al-Afghán4 too, from every side and corner, began to criticize and condemn the government, with which he was highly displeased, and in the course of his conversation used openly to excite and inflame the people and disparage and attack [the Sháh]. According to accounts received, matters reached such a point that they wrote pamphlets and scattered them in the streets and bázárs, and even, by a clever stratagem, succeeded in conveying a most strongly-worded letter to the Sháh himself. And since they are well acquainted with the Sháh's character, they made it appear that there was a large party which would soon raise up the standard of

       1 See my Persian Revolution, pp. 32—45.
       2 i.e. the Amínu's- Sultán, afterwards entitled Atábak-i- A`zam, who was finally assassinated by `Abbás Áqá of Tabríz on August 31, 1907. See my Persian Revolution, pp. 150ŃŃ1.
       3 See Persian Revolution, pp. 35—42.
       4 Ibid. pp. 1—30.


    liberty. So the government determined to attack them, thinking to extirpate and crush them. The partisans of Malkom Khán and Jamálu'd- Dín devised a plan to alarm, intimidate, and greatly disturb the government by involving the Bábís also in suspicion, and wrote pamphlets so worded that it might appear that there was an alliance between these and themselves. To be brief, they arrested Malkom Khán's brother with your friend the Mírzá of Hamadán1 and several others, and also two Bábís, and the government officials, without any enquiry or investigation, began on every side to persecute this oppressed community, although these poor innocents, as I swear by God's Might, knew absolutely nothing of this agitation and disturbance, non-interference in political matters being required by their creed.

        "No sooner did this news reach Isfahán that the Prince [Zillu's-Sultán], one of whose confidential advisers had been accused and arrested, considered it expedient, for the exculpation of himself from all suspicion of complicity in this plot and for the concealment of his own evil deeds, to inaugurate a violent and cruel persecution of the Bábís. So he entered into correspondence with [his son] Prince Jalálu'd-Dawla, and a persecution was set on foot in the city of Yazd and the surrounding villages, where such cruelties and injustices were perpetrated as are unparalleled in the history of the world.

        "Amongst other instances, with chains and fetters, swords and scimitars, they dragged seven men, to whose purity, nobility, excellence, and virtue all bore witness, who had

       1 A former attaché at the Persian Legation in London. He was recalled to Persia when Mírzá Malkom Khán was dismissed from the post of Minister. Some time afterwards, in the early part of this year (1891), he was arrested, cast into prison, and, I believe, narrowly escaped death.

    PERSECUTIONS OF 1888-1891

    never in their lives injured even an ant, and against whom nothing could be alleged save that they were Bábís, before a few ignorant wretches like unto Annas and Caiaphas who account themselves learned, and commanded them to disavow their connection with this creed. When they refused to do this, and indeed confessed and admitted it, they beheaded each of these poor oppressed ones in a public thoroughfare, affixed them to gibbets, dragged their bodies with ropes through the streets and bázárs, and at length cut them in fragments and burned them with fire. Some others they spirited away, and it is not known what sufferings were inflicted upon them. About a thousand persons have fled from Yazd into the wilderness and open country, some have died from thirst in the mountains and plains, and all their possessions have been plundered and spoiled. Oppression and tyranny have so destroyed and uprooted these poor oppressed people that for several days the families and wives and children of the murdered men were weeping, sorrowing, and shivering, hungry and thirsty, in underground cellars, unable even to ask for water; none had any pity for them, but only blows; and indeed the common people, incited and goaded on by the clergy and the government, strove to injure them in every way, in which endeavour they showed neither ruth nor remission. Only after some days certain Christian merchants who were passing through Yazd brought bread and water for the children of the victims; but the poor unfortunates were so filled with fear and apprehension that they would not open the door. That night all the townsfolk decorated and illuminated the city and made great rejoicings that so signal a victory and so glorious a triumph had been accomplished, not seeing in their ignorance that in truth they are striking the axe on their own roots and rejoicing thereat, and overthrowing the foundations of


    their own house and accounting it eternal life. Moreover they fail to see that the tears of the oppressed are a rising torrent and the sighs of the victims a kindling fire!..."

    Translation of a letter written to me from `Akká by Mírzá Badí`u'lláh on Muharram 15, A.H. 1309 (August 21, A.D. 1891).


        "The appearance of afflictions and calamities in the Land of Yá (Yazd). The eye of Justice weepeth: Equity waileth! O God! In Persia men glory in cruelty, oppression, ruthlessness, and the attributes of beasts of prey! The wolves of the islands of ignorance and folly have torn God's lambs. Grievous loss they account great gain. To-day lamentation arises from all things in the Land of Yá, and the moans and mourning of the Josephs of the Spirit rise up from the pit of the seat of the oppressors. A grievous wound hath been inflicted on the bosom of Justice, and a sore blow hath fallen on the frame of Equity. The hunters of hatred lie in ambush for the gazelles of the plains of love and purity, and shameless unblushing tyrants pursue after babes in their cradles. In place of Justice and its hosts stand Oppression and its troops. Mercy has become in Persia like the Phoenix, a mere name without substance, and equity like the Philosopher's Stone1, heard of, but not seen!

        "On the evening of the 23rd of Ramazán2 a mighty dust and smoke of spirit rose up from the hatred and malice of the unbelievers and scoffers, in such wise that it obscured the radiance of the luminary of Justice, nay, blotted it out.

       1 Kibrít-i-Ahmar, lit. "Red Sulphur."
       2 A.H. 1308 = May 2, 1891.

    PERSECUTIONS OF 1888-1891

    Without cause of reason they seized two poor friendless victims, Áqá `Alí and Áqá `Alí Asghar (upon whom be the Splendour of God and His Grace), in the mosque of Shaykh Hasan of Sabzawár, and carried them in the custody of Hájji [sic] Na'ib before the Prince with every kind of indignity. Then they inflicted on them all manner of punishments, and afterwards imprisoned them. They took from them, as is related, all the money they could get and then released them.

        "After this another smoke arose from the well-springs of wickedness and sin, and that seizure of saintly souls was at another time. They arrested seven, amongst them being Mullá `Alí of Sabzawár and likewise Mullá Mahdí (upon whom be the Splendour of God and His Grace). The Prince said to one, `Recant, that I may release thee.' That truly devoted man replied, `For forty years I have been awaiting this day: praise be to God that to-day I have attained to it!' Another, as he was being dragged through the streets, cried to the executions, farráshes, and spectators, `O people! The Chief of martyrs said, "Is there anyone who will help me (yansuru-ní)?" But I say, "Is there anyone who will look upon me (yanzuru-ní)?"'

        "At all events, in such wise the fire of persecution kindled that the pen is unable to portray it. These two saintly souls, together with the others, laid down their lives with the utmost steadfastness. The blood of these it is which now causes the people of Persia to hear somewhat of the matter and maintain silence, or even acquiesce. The people of Persia have held no intercourse with strangers because (God is our refuge!) they regarded them all as unclean, and accounted it unlawful to converse with them. Now, by the Grace of this Most Mighty Manifestation, the gates of Wisdom are opened, and these immoderate barbarisms,


    these shunnings and repellings, are departing from their midst, while He hath gladdened them with the good tidings of friendly converse and association, and caused them to attain thereunto. The blood of lovers hath wrought miracles throughout the horizons and hath driven away the causes of isolation with the scourge of the Bayán, substituting in their place an approach to peace and quietude, so that now most of them [i.e. the Persians] hold friendly and familiar intercourse with all nations of the world. In truth there hath been made manifest a love for all mankind which seemed to human eyes an impossibility. Blessed is the Beneficent One, the Lord of great bounty! Now all have become eyes to see and ears to hear. The hosts of confession have driven denial from the field. Think on the influence of the Supreme Pen and the power of the Most High Word, how great a change they have wrought and how they have brought night [what seemed unattainable].

        "To return, however. They martyred those of whom we have spoken with the worst torments in the world. One they strangled to death with the bow- string, and after him they slew and carried away the rest. Some with stones, some with sticks, some with chains, and some with weapons of war, they tore in pieces those holy frames. Afterwards they set fire [to their bodies] and cast their bones into pits. According to the accounts received, a thousand persons have fled into the wilderness, neither is it known whither they have gone or what has become of them. And in those days none enquired after the widows and children of these wronged ones nor went near them, through fear and dread, and the unfortunate ones remained without food. But, as has been heard, some of the followers of His Holiness the Spirit1

       1 hu'lláh, i.e. Jesus Christ.

    PERSECUTIONS OF 1888-1891

    (may God Strengthen them!) went with the utmost secrecy and without the knowledge of any man and succoured them, sending them daily provision. O spiritual friend! to-day [sic: l/c in original] lamentation arises from the very pebbles in the deserts and wailing goes up from the trees! On the night of that day by command of the government the people held high festival and made great rejoicing, as though they had captured a kingdom."

    Translation of a letter written to me from Alexandria
    on Muharram
    19, A.H. 1309 (August 19, A.D. 1891) by
    Áqá Muhammad `Alí, merchant, of Yazd.

        "The first arrests on the ground of Bábíism took place on the evening of the 23rd of Ramazán, A.H. 1308 (May 2, 1891), in the mosque. Shaykh Hasan of Sabzawár, a prominent member of the clergy, caused two men, named Áqá `Alí and Áqá [`Alí] Asghar, to be seized. Gradually they arrested twelve persons in all, inflicted on them several severe beatings, and cast them into prison. On the morning of Monday the 9th of Shawwál (May 18, 1891) they brought seven of them before Prince Jalálu'd-Dawla, the Governor of Yazd. Several of the clergy sat concealed [in the room]. The Prince said, `The Bábís are released: let them go.' After giving them these good tidings he conjured them, saying, `By my life, are you Bábís?' They answered, `Yes.' Then the clergy wrote their death warrant. They first ordered one named Asghar, a man of about thirty years of age, to be strangled with the bow-string. Before carrying the sentence into execution they said to him, `Revile [the Báb].' He refused. Then they applied the cord and cruelly slew him. The six others were present


    there. Then they came out thence with trumpets and drums and many other instruments of music, accompanied by a great multitude shouting and clamouring. At the back of the Telegraph Office they tried to make Mullá Mahdí of Khawírak (an old man about eighty years of age) curse the Báb. He answered, `For forty years I have been expecting this day.' So they cut his throat even where he stood, and ere he was dead ripped open his belly and cast stones at him. After that they carried away his body and set fire to it. They next beheaded Áqá `Alí (a man of about thirty years of age) opposite to the gate of Jazíra-i-Mullá, stuck the head on a spear, and stoned the body. Mullá Alí of Sabzawár they brought to the door of Shaykh Hasan of Sabzawár. He cried out, The Imám Husayn, the Chief of martyrs, said to the people, "Will any help me?" but I say, "Will any look upon me?"' Him also they beheaded and cast stones at his body. And his age was about thirty-five. Then they beheaded Áqá Muhammad Báqir at the door of the Sadr's house. He also was about thirty-five years old. Two others, brothers, they carried to the Maydán-i-Sháh. According to some accounts they bound Áqá Asghar (aged about twenty-five) to a tree, first cut off his hands, then beheaded and stoned him. The other brother, Áqá Hasan, aged twenty years, they beat and chased about, saying, `Revile the Báb!' He answered, `What should I say? Do what you are commanded.' One of those present cried out, `Let every one who loves `Alí strike a blow at him.' A man thrust a sword into his side, and the rest then cut his body to pieces with their daggers, while another drove a spear into his breast. Then the executioner severed his head from his body, stuck it on his knife, and carried it to Shaykh Hasan of Sabzawár, famed for his learning, from whom he receive a present of ten tumans (Ł3). The body,

    PERSECUTIONS OF 1888-1891

    as it would seem, was burned, while the head was paraded through that quarter of the town. Some of the bodies they dragged in the dust round the bázárs, while the people pelted them with stones, or struck them with sticks. Afterwards they carried away what was left of the bodies and cast them all together into a well. Then, by the Prince's command, they illuminated and decorated the city. For two nights the populace continued their rejoicings, and shut up all the shops in the bázárs. One can easily imagine what took place at such a time: the people congratulated one another, and played music at the doors of the murdered men, while their poor widows and children shut themselves within and none dared bring anything for them, neither did they dare to go out. Some paid fines and were suffered to go forth, and some were cast into prison. At length after all this they seized a saintly old man named Hájjí Mullá Muhammad Ibráhim Mas'ila-gú, who had always been noted for his learning, virtue, and piety, and had afterwards become a Bábí, and imprisoned him. Some Europeans made intercession for him. At length the Prince said, `I will not kill him; I will send him to Tihrán.' But, as it would appear, traces of his mangled limbs and body were afterwards seen outside the city, and in all probability he too was secretly put to death.

        "Since the utmost tumult and disorder prevail, it is impossible to obtain an accurate account of all that took place. I have written it very briefly: the full details far exceed this. We have no certain account of the cruelties and indignities suffered by Hájjí Muhammad Ibráhím. The greater part of what happened I have not written, and much is not know. According to later information quiet has been restored and the arrests have ceased. Since that we have had no further news."


    Translation of a letter written from Yazd on Shawwál
    15 A.H. 1308 (May 24, 1891) by one Husayn to Hájji
    Sayyid `Alí Shírází at `Ishqábád; and by him com-
    municated to me.

        "On the evening of the 23rd of the month of Ramazán A.H. 1308 (May 2, A.D. 1891) two persons, named respectively Áqá `Alí Asghar Yúzdárúní and Áqá Gázargáhí, went to the mosque of Amír Chaqmáq. The people who were in the mosque recognised these two as Bábís, and said to them, `You are Bábís; why do you come to the mosque? Curse [the Báb], or we will torment you.' They answered, `We are not Bábís.' `If you are not Bábís,' said their persecutors, `then curse.' As they refused to curse or revile [the Báb], the people loaded them with abuse, and raised a clamour, crying, `These two men are Bábís and have entered our mosque,' and began to insult and maltreat them. Hájjí Ná'ib, the Farrásh-báshí of Prince Jalálu'd-Dawla, who was present in the mosque, seized these two men and carried them before the Prince. They were severely beaten, cast into prison, and fined. Three days later they were released.

        "Three days after their release, Prince Jalálu'd-Dawla again demanded them at the hands of the Farrásh- báshí, who set himself to discover them. One Mahdí by name, the son of Ustád Báqir the druggist, offered his services to the Farrásh-báshí, saying, `I know where they are, and will point them out to you.' So he accompanied the Farrásh- báshí, together with ten farráshes, as a guide, and led them to the house of Ustád `Abdu'r-Rahím Mushkí-báf, where they arrested these two men and five others who were with them in the house. The seven they seized and brought before the Prince-governor, Jalálu'd-Dawla, striking them

    PERSECUTIONS OF 1888-1891

    often on the way about the face and head, and finally casting them into prison. The names of the other five prisoners were, Mullá `Alí of Sabzawár, Asghar, Hasan, Áqá Báqír, and Mullá Mahdí.     "Next day Prince Jalálu'd-Dawla summoned them before him and interrogated them, bidding them curse and revile [the Báb], that he might set them free. They refused to do this, and frankly avowed that they were Bábís.

        "The clergy, who have ever been mischief-makers and are always eager to provoke trouble and bloodshed, hastened to avail themselves of this opportunity, and urged Prince Jalálu'd-Dawla to kill these seven men. So far as can be ascertained, the Prince wrote his consent and desired the clergy to ratify it with their seals and signatures. So they agreed to make these seven pass beneath the sword of cruelty and injustice. While the Prince was interrogating them, some of his own attendants who were in his presence were filled with wonder and amazement, saying to themselves, `These have done nothing for which they deserve to incur wrath and punishment!'

        "On the morning of Monday the 9th of Shawwál (May 18, 1891) the following members of the clergy, Shaykh Hasan of Sabzawár, Shaykh Muhammad Taqí of Sabzawár, Mírzá Sayyid `Alí Mudarris, Mullá Hasan of Ardakán, and Mullá Husayn of Ardakán came to Prince Jalálu'd-Dawla's palace. They were concealed behind a curtain, and the seven Bábís were then brought in. The Prince said to them, `I wish to set you free. Now by my head I conjure you to tell me truly whether you are Bábís or not.' ` Yes,' they replied, `we are Bábís,' confessing and acknowledging it. The clergy who were concealed behind the curtain of deceit heard their avowal, and at once wrote


    out and sealed the warrant for their death. The executioner was summoned forthwith and ordered to slay them. `Ali Asghar was strangled with the bow-string in the Prince's presence in the most cruel manner. The other six were led through the bázárs with music and beating of drums to the market-place, where they were killed one after another. The rabble of the people mobbed them, striking them with sticks, spitting on them, reviling them and mocking them. As the throat of each one was cut, the mob tore open the body to look at the heart, saying, `How bold they are in the presence of death and the death- warrant and the headsman! With what strength of heart do they yield up their life, while no word of cursing or reviling escapes their lips! We must see what sort of hearts they have.'

        "When they had slain all the seven, they poured tar over their bodies and set fire to them. Never before this day have such behaviour, such malevolence and wickedness, been seen in any people as are seen amongst these Shí`ites in Persia. One of the Bábís (he who was named Asghar) they bound to a tree in the market-place, cut off his hands with the sword, then ripped open his belly, and finally beheaded him. Another, Hasan, they wounded in the head with swords and sticks, driving him about the market-place and bidding him curse and revile [the Báb]. `What should I say?' he answered, `do whatever is commanded you.' So they cut him in pieces.

        "Till sunset of that day the bodies of these seven were in the hands of the roughs and rabble of the populace, and they brutally pelted them with stones, set fire to them, and burned them. After they had killed them and burned their bodies they asked permission of Prince Jalálu'd-Dawla to illuminate the city, and he give [sic] them permission for two nights, but such was the disorderly conduct of the roughs and the

    PERSECUTIONS OF 1888-1891

    exultation of the clergy on the first night that permission for the next night was withdrawn.     "The widows and children of these seven men dared not, for fear of the mob, leave their houses or enter the bázárs even to obtain food and drink, and so remained without water or food until at length some Christian merchants of the Dutch nation sent provisions to them.

        "After the blood of these seven had been shed, a Bábí named Hájjí Mullá Muhammad Ibráhím Mas'ila-gú, who had gone to a place ten hours distant from the city towards the mountains, was followed and arrested by Hájjí Ná'ib the Farrásh- báshí, severely beaten, brought back with every indignity to the city, carried before Prince Jalálu'd-Dawla, and cast into prison. His wife and children went to the Dutch merchants and entreated them to intercede and deliver him from the cruel clutches of his persecutors. These accordingly went before the Prince, but he would not admit their mediation, and declared that he had already sent the man to Tihrán. On the following night he slew him with his own hands and had the body cast into a well.

        "By reason of these events many persons have fled into the surrounding country, and a strange commotion and disquietude prevail. The authorities have made it a pretext for extorting money, and have fined and mulcted many persons. They have also arrested several more, who are still in prison. They seized one named Áqá Husayn, a silk-merchant, who had in his possession nearly five hundred túmáns' (Ł150) worth of silk belonging to himself and others, all of which they took from him. The clergy and Prince Jalálu'd-Dawla have made this thing a means of obtaining money, and have extorted large sums from all [the Bábís], leaving their wives and children without bread.

        "Never before has such injustice been seen. Why


    should loyal and obedient subjects, who have been guilty of no offence, and who seek but to reform men's morals and to increase the welfare of the world, be subjected to such cruel persecutions by order of the foolish ones of the earth who show themselves under a garb of knowledge? Why should they be compelled to flee as outlaws and to wander as beggars from door to door, or be scattered abroad in mountains and deserts? Loyalty forbids us to appeal to foreign Powers, and we can but cry in our anguish, `O God! We submit with patience and resignation to what we suffer at the hands of these godless, merciless and cruel people!' Thus do we tell our sorrow to our God, praying Him to take away from us the wickedness and oppression of the froward and ignorant ones of the earth. We have no helper but God, and none to support and succour us save Him.

        "This which has been written is a full account of the events of these days and the tyranny of the clergy and Prince Jalálu'd-Dawla. We do not complain of the cruelty of the common folk, for they are completely under the control of the clergy and Prince Jalálu'd-Dawla. The city is now in a most disturbed state, and the roughs and rowdies act as they please; whatever they do no one hinders them. Several other persons were cast into prison, but it is not known what they will do with them. I have nothing further to add."

  • Return to Table of Contents