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Part II: The Examination of The Bab
This article is based on the Bahai historical work 'A Traveller's Narrative' written to illustrate the episode of the Bab by Professor E. G. Browne (published in New York, 1930 by the Bahai Publishing Committee). The Bahais consider this book as reliable and hold it in high esteem.

Ironically, Bab's exact position is a matter of great debate even among the Bahais. Mirza Yayha, leader of the Azalis and Mirza Husayn Ali, leader of the Bahais, both have conflicting views on Bab and his doctrines. They both consider themselves as his successors and both have Babi followers.

Yet again, if Bab's examination by the Ulama of Iran in Tabriz is studied one will have doubts about Bab having any position at all. This debate is reproduced in full below from pages 278-290)

"The chief persons who took part in this examination of the Bab were: Nasirud-din Mirza, now King, then Crown Prince of Persia who was at that time 16 years old, and on whom the government of Azarbaijaan had just been bestowed; Haji Mulla Mahmud entitled Nizam-ul-Ulama, the young Prince's tutor; Mirza Mohammed Mamakani entitled Hujjatul Islam, an eminent Shaykhi divine; Haji Mirza Murtaza Kuli Marandi entitled Ilmul Huda; Haji Mirza Ali Asghar, the Shaykhul Islam and (according to the present work) Mirza Ahmed and Imam-Juma. Shortly after these had assembled the Bab was brought in, and (according to the Musalman, and not the Babi accounts) was motioned a seat of honour. The following dialogue then ensued:

Haji Mulla Mahmud (H. M. M): 'The command of His Imperial Majesty, the King is that you should set forth your claims in the presence of the doctors of Islam, so that the truth or falsehood thereof may be established. Although I myself am not amongst the learned and only occupy the position of an attendant, I am free from prejudice and my conversation will not be without importance. Now I have three questions to be asked of you. Firstly are these books in the fashion and style of the Quran, of Epistles and of Prayers, and disseminated through all parts and regions of Persia yours, and did you compose them or do men (wrongly) attribute them to you'.

Bab: 'They are from God'

H. M. M: 'I am no great scholar: if they are yours, say so and if not, don't'

Bab: 'They are mine'

Two things can be inferred from this sentence.
1. The steadfastness of Bab: We have seen that the true prophets of God are always steadfast in their claims. Even the Bahais believe so. In fact, steadfastness is such a virtue that according to the famous Daleel-e-Taqreer of the Bahais, it is a necessary condition for a person claiming to be a prophet. But Bab within a matter of a few seconds, changed his stand. Initially he claimed his words to be from God, but when he was asked sternly, he admitted that he himself had composed them. Either that, or he meant that he himself was God and had written it himself to establish his Godhood!

H. M. M: 'The meaning of your saying they are from God is that your tongue is like the Tree on Sinai (The Burning Bush. Refer Quran Surah Naml, verses 7-9 and Sura Qasas, verses 29-30)

"If to say 'I am the Truth (i.e., God) be right in a tree,
Why should it be not right in some favoured man"

Bab: 'Mercy be upon you'

H. M. M: 'They call you the Bab. Who gave you this name and where did they give it? What is the meaning of Bab? And are you content with this name or not'?

Bab: 'God gave me this name'

H. M. M: 'Where? In the House of the Kaaba, or in the Holy House (Jerusalem) or in the Frequented House'?

Bab: Wherever it was, it is a divine name'

H. M. M: 'In that case of course you are content with a divine name. What is the meaning of Bab?'

Bab: 'The same as the word Bab in the tradition
"I an the city of knowledge and Ali is the Bab (Gate)"

Here Mirza Ali Mohammad claims that Allah gave him the title of Bab. Shoghi Affandi in 'God Passes By' (page 11 of God Passes By) says that Bab himself claimed the title of Bab. In fact in no Bahai book will one find any reference that states that Allah gave the title of Bab to Mirza Ali Mohammed.

H. M. M: 'Then you are the Gate of the City of Knowledge'?

Bab: 'Yes'

H. M. M: 'Praise be to God! For forty years have I journeyed seeking to meet with one of the Gates and it was not granted to me. Now praise be to God you have come to me in my own country, even to my very pillow! If it be so, and I can but assure myself that you are the Gate, give me, I pray, the office of shoe-keeper'

Bab: 'Surely you are Haji Mulla Mahmud'?

H. M. M: 'Yes'

Bab: 'Your dignity is great; surely great offices should be bestowed upon you'

H. M. M: 'I only want that office and it is sufficient for me'

The Prince: 'We too shall leave and deliver over this throne to you who are the Gate'

Here the Bab is made an object of ridicule with H. M. M asking him to appoint him as Bab's shoe-keeper and the Prince offering Bab his throne.

H. M. M: 'As the Prophet or some other wise man hath said, "Knowledge is two-fold - knowledge of bodies and knowledge of religions"

I ask then in medicine, what occurs in the stomach when a person suffers from indigestion? Why are some cases amenable to treatment? And why do some go on to permanent dyspepsia or syncope (swooning), or terminate in hypochondriasis'?

Bab: 'I have not studied medicine'

Here Bab displays one of the many signs that he is not armed with the proofs that are a prerequisite for prophethood. Indigestion, etc are very basic problems of the body that even an elementary student of medicine is supposed to comprehend. Prophets of Allah have been known to understand and treat more serious ailments and maladies and even raise the dead. Sample this verse about Jesus (as) from Sura Ale Imran, verse 49: "And (make him) an apostle to the children of Israel: That I have come to you with a sign from your Lord, that I determine for you out of dust like the form of a bird, then I breathe into it and it becomes a bird with Allah's permission and I heal the blind and the leprous, and bring the dead to life with Allah's permission and I inform you of what you should eat and what you should store in your houses; most surely there is a sign in this for you, if you are believers." It is apparent over here and in other parts of the debate that Mirza Ali Mohammad did not posses divine knowledge and whatever he knew was limited to what he had learnt at school.

The Prince: 'If so be that you are the Gate of Knowledge, yet say I have not studied medicine, this is quite incompatible with your claim!'

H. M. M: (To the Prince) 'It is of no consequence, for this is but the art of the veterinarian and is not included among sciences; so that herein is no incompatibility with Bab-hood'

Another attempt to mock Bab's claim so as to continue the debate and highlight his ignorance in other, more important matters. This is evident as the debate unfolds.

H. M. M: (To the Bab) 'Theology consists of the sciences of Principles (Usool) and Applications (Furu'). The science of Principles has a beginning and a conclusion. Say then: are (the divine attributes of) Knowledge, Hearing, Seeing and Power identical with the (Divine) Essence, or otherwise'?

Bab: 'Identical with the essence'

H. M. M: 'The God is multiple and composite; the (Divine) Essence and (Divine) Knowledge are two things (like vinegar and syrup which have yet become identical; (God is) compounded of (the Divine) Essence plus Knowledge, of (the Divine) Essence plus Power and so on. Besides this, the (Divine) Essence is without 'Opposite, without Antithesis', But Knowledge  which is identical with the (Divine) Essence has an opposite which is ignorance. Besides these two objections, God knows, the Prophet knows, and I know; we (therefore) partake in knowledge. We also have a ground of distinction; for the knowledge of God is from Himself, while our knowledge is from Him. Therefore God is compounded of a 'ground of distinction' and a 'ground of identity'. But God is not composite'

Bab: 'I have not studied Philosophy'. (At this the Prince smiles but preserves silence)

It is significant over here that Haji Mirza Mahmud (H.M.M.), a non-Prophet, knows Philosophy, but Bab professes ignorance of it. So in the subject of Philosophy (as also other subjects that will come later in the debate) H.M.M. was worthier of being a Prophet than Bab.

H. M. M: 'The science of Applications is elucidated from the Book and the Code (traditions), and the understanding of the Book and the Code depends on many sciences such as, Grammar, Rhetoric and Logic. Do you who are the Bab conjugate Kala'?

Bab: 'What Kaala'?

Kaala in Arabic means 'He said'. It is an oft-used word in the Arabic language. That Bab seems to be unaware of the word is nothing short of amazing. This is a word that appears in several shapes and forms in Sura Yusuf, a chapter of the Quran that Bab has 'interpreted' as a proof of his claims!

H. M. M: 'Kala, yakulu, kawlan' (begins to say the past tense after the fashion of a school boy - kala, kaala, kalu, kaalat, kalata, kulna....) then addressing the Bab says, 'Can you say the rest?'

Bab: I learnt it in childhood but I have forgotten it'

H. M. M: 'Give the derivatives of Kaala'

Bab: 'What derivatives'?

H. M. M: (after giving some of the derivatives) - 'Now you say the rest'

Bab: 'I told you, I have forgotten'

H. M. M: 'Explain this verse of the Holy Quran: "it is He who maketh you to behold the lightening, a fear and a hope" (Sura Raad, verse 13 from Quran),

And also tell me what is the construction of 'Khaufan' wa 'Ta áaman' (words used in the verses literally translated as Fear and Hope)

Bab: 'I don't remember.'

Bab cannot explain even one verse of the Holy Quran, yet Shoghi Affandi expects claims in 'God Passes By' that Bab wrote commentaries on the verses of the Quran!

H. M. M.: 'What is the meaning of this tradition
"Laánallahul uyuna fainna zalomatil ainal waahidatan"
(May God curse the eye for verily they have acted unjustly towards the one eye)

Bab: 'I don't know'?

H. M. M: 'Explain the meaning of this tradition of what passed between Mamun, the Caliph and Imam Reza, His Highness, the Eighth Imam:
"Mamun Said: 'What is the proof of the right to the caliphate of thine anscestor Ali ibn abi Talib'? He (Imam Reza) replied, 'The sign of ourselves'. Mamun said, 'If it were not for our wives!'. Imam Reza said, 'If it were not for our sons!' Then Mamun was silent."

'What was the nature of the argument employed by Imam Reza, and what is the point of Mamun's objection, and the reply of Imam Reza thereto'?

Bab: 'Is this a tradition'?

H. M. M: 'Yes' (cites authorities) 'The circumstances under which the Surah-tul-Kawthar was revealed, as is well known, the following; "His Highness, the Holy Prophet was passing by Aas said, 'This person is a childless man!'. Shortly afterwards he died leaving no children. His Highness, the Prophet was grieved, and so this Surah was revealed for his consolation. Tell me now what was the nature of the consolation which it contained"?

Bab: 'Were these indeed the circumstances under which it was revealed'?

H. M. M: 'Yes' (cites authorities)

(The Bab asks for time to think)

H. M. M: 'In the days of our youth, we used, according to the dictates of our age, jestingly to repeat this sentence of Allamah (title used by Shiahs for one of their theologians Hasan ibn Yusuf ibn Ali of Hilli), whereof I desire you now to explain me the meaning;

"Eza dazal ur rajolo alal khunsa wal khunsa alal unsa wajabal ghuslo alal khunsa doonar rajolo wal unsa"

'Why should this be so?'

Bab: (after reflecting for a while) 'Is this sentence from Allamah?'

The audience: (unanimously) 'Yes'

H. M. M: 'Suppose this is not Allamah's, but mine, do you nevertheless explain its meaning. After all you are the "Gate of Knowledge!"

Bab: 'I cannot think of anything'

H. M. M: 'One of the miracles of the Arabian Prophet is the Quran and the miraculous character thereof is derived from its 'fasahat' and 'balaghat'. What is the definition of 'fasahat' and 'balaghat'?
(fasahat and balaghat both signify in general eloquence, but the former especially denotes correctness of diction and chasteness of style, the latter moving and affecting language which reaches the hearts of the hearers or causes the speaker to reach his object (See Lane's Arabic-English Lexicon)

Bab: 'I don't know' (the audience displays signs of anger and impatience)

H. M. M: 'If you were in doubt between two and three (inclinations or rakahs in prayer), what would you do?'

Bab: 'I would assume two'

Mulla Mohammed Mamakani (M. M. M.): 'O impious one! You do not even know what to do in cases of doubt in prayer and yet you claim to be the Bab!'

Bab: 'I would assume three'

M. M. M: 'Evidently if it is not two, you must say three'

H. M. M: 'Three is also wrong. Why did you not ask whether it was in the morning or evening prayer that I was in doubt, or whether it was after the inclination or before inclination, or after the completion of the two prostrations?'

M. M. M: 'You ought to give thanks, for had he said, "I would assume two", (in as much as engaging in an indubitable duty demands fulfilment of that indubitable duty) what would you have done then?'
(To the Bab), 'Did you write 'The first to believe in me was the light of Mohammad and (the light of) Ali' 'Is this expression yours or not?'

Bab: 'Yes, it is mine'

Here Bab implies superiority for himself over Mohammed (saw) and Ali (as). The underlying meaning of this statement is also one of divinity of Bab which he claims for himself.

M. M. M: 'Then in that case, you were the leader and they were the followers, and you must be superior to them?'

Haji Murtaza Kuli Marandi (H. M. K. M): ': 'The Lord of the Universe has said, "And know that whenever you seize anything as a spoil, to God belongs a fifth thereof, and to His Apostle..." (Quran 8:42), while you in your Quran (referring to the Bayan) say "a third thereof". On what authority and why?'

Bab: 'A third is a half of a fifth. What difference does it make?'
(the audience laughs)

H. M. K. M: 'In how many ways is nine divisible?'
(the Bab gives no reply)

H. M. M: 'I am not tied down to words; show me a miracle suitable to your claims, so that I may become your follower, and on my submission, many will set their footsteps with the circle of devotion to you, for I am well known as learned, and the learned man will never follow the ignorant'

Bab: 'What miracle do you desire?'

H. M. M: 'His Majesty, the King Mohammed Shah is sick. Restore him to health'

The Prince: 'Why go so far? Are you not present? Let him exert an influence over your being and restore you to youthfulness, so that you may ever continue in attendance on our stirrup. We too, on witnessing the accomplishment of this miracle will resign this throne to him'

Bab: 'It is not in my power'

A miracle is the final proof that a true prophet displays to prove his prophethood. Rather it is Allah's final proof upon the people to establish His Prophet's truthfulness. So a miracle is imperative in the absence of which the people have an excuse to reject the Prophet. In fact, the Prophet not only performs miracles, his miracles are according to the exigencies of the time and often the inordinate demands of the people of his era. This is what the Quran claims, 'Say: Indeed, there came to you apostles before me with clear arguments and with that which you demand; why then did you kill them if you are truthful? But if they reject you, so indeed were rejected before you apostles who came with clear arguments and scriptures and the illuminating book.' (Sura Ale Imran, verses 183-184)

Some very important points are established by these Quranic verses:
A) Prophets before the Prophet Mohammad (saw) were armed with miracles according to what the people demanded.
B) The people rejected them despite these miracles and after Allah had established His Proof upon the people.

Mirza Ali Mohammad as is evident from this debate failed on both the above parameters, viz. he did not have a miracle to establish his prophethood and his death was the result of this inability to produce miracle unlike previous prophets who were killed despite producing miracles.

H. M. M: 'Then honour is not rendered without reason. O dumb in the realms of words and dumb in the realms of ideas, what virtue do you then possess?'

Bab: 'I can recite eloquent words'

"Praise be to God who created the heavens" (pronouncing the last word with final fat-ha)

This is word that often appears in Quran and Sunnah of the Prophet (saw) but Bab makes a mistake even in reciting this oft-repeated word.

The Prince: (smiling) 'That which forms its plural in Alif and Taa is pointed with kesra alike in the objective and dependant cases' (this sentence is from the well-known versified Arabic Grammar called the Alfiyya, and will be found on page 19 of Dieterici's edition of that work (Leipsic, 1851).

Bab: 'My name Ali Mohammed corresponds with "Rabb" (Lord)'
(The sum of the letters in Ali Mohammed is 202 which is also the numerical equivalent of Rabb)

H. M. M: 'Every Ali Mohammed and Mohammed Ali corresponds to Rabb. Besides then in that case you should claim to be the Lord, rather than the Bab'

Bab: 'I am that person for whose appearance you have waited a 1,000 years'

H. M. M: 'That is to say, you are Mahdi, the Lord of the Religion?'

Bab: 'Yes'

Here Bab claims to be the promised Mahdi. Earlier in this debate itself he claimed to be the prophet and even God.

H. M. M: 'The same in person, or generically?'

Bab: 'In person'

H. M. M: 'What is your name and what is the names of your father and mother? Where is your birthplace and how old are you?'

Bab: 'My name is Ali Mohammed; my mother was named Khadija, and my father Mirza Reza the cloth seller; my birth-place is Shiraz; and of my life behold, 35 years have passed'.

Bab explicitly states that his father was a Mirza. But Shoghi in his book 'God Passes By', states that Bab father was a Sayyid.

H. M. M: 'The name of the Lord of the Religion is Mohammed; his father was named Hasan and his mother Narjis; his birthplace was Samarrah; and his age is more than 1,000 years. There is the most complete variance. And besides I did not send you'

Bab has claimed to be the Promised Mahdi, whose advent is long-awaited by the Muslims to establish justice and equity in the world and purge it of injustice and tyranny.

Bab: 'Do you claim to be God?'

H. M. M: 'Such an Imam is worthy of such a God'

Bab: 'I can in one day write 2,000 verses. Who else can do this?'

H. M. M: 'When I resided at the Supreme Shrines, I had a secretary who used to write 2,000 verses a day. Eventually he became blind. You must certainly give up this occupation, or else you too will go blind'.

The conference then broke up, and the Bab was taken back to the house of Mohammed Kazim Khan, the Farrashabashi. The Bab again recanted and revoked all his claims under the chastisement inflicted upon him, whereupon he was released and sent back to Chirik.

The recantations of Bab is not asserted by Muslim historians alone. In fact it is mentioned by reliable Bahai sources.

We also find that on an earlier occasion when Bab had introduced a change in Azaan and had created a turmoil, on that occasion too, on being questioned, he recanted his claims.

This is the steadfastness of Bab! He recanted his claims and his faith with only a few slaps! Let alone prophets, the Quran cites instances of mere individuals who have shown a lot more steadfastness when faced with imminent death. Sample this Quranic verse about the incident of Pharoah and his magicians:

"...certainly I (Pharoah) will cut off your (magicians) hands and your feet on opposite sides, and certainly I will crucify you all. They said: No harm; surely to our Lord we go back. Surely we hope that our Lord will forgive us our wrongs because we are the first of the believers.' Sura Shoara, verses 49-51)

Any fair-minded person after studying the above debate will come to the same conclusion as me, i.e. Mirza Ali Mohammad lacked the qualities to be a spiritual leader of any kind. At least no prophet in the Quran has shown the same qualities as Mirza Ali Mohammad and has yet successfully established his prophethood. Rather, the prophets mentioned in the Quran are the exact opposite of Mirza Ali Mohammad.

This article, especially the debate enumerated, puts to rest doubts about the authenticity of Bab. I have also supported my contetion with Quranic verses to put the issue beyond doubt. I leave it to my readers to make an objective assessment of Bab's claims and by logical extension, the Bahai's. If any of my readers has reached a conclusion different from mine, I am most keen to hear about it.

Part I: History of the Babi Faith
Part II: The examination of Bab
Part III: Early Bahai History

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