Baha’i Faith: The Case of the Traveller, Part 2 of 3
March 16, 2014 3 Comments
Allegations Against the Babis and Baha’is
In this essay we present excerpts from A Traveller’s Narrative. We present some quotes from some of the works that the editor cites.
Reference is made to a book titled Nasikhu’t-Tawarikh, written by Mirza Taki Mustawfi described as “a general history of the world…All that relates to the Babis is contained inthe second and third parts of the main volume and in the supplement.”1
p. 65 of that work states:”The Babis go out to bury their dead, find them decapitated, and in retaliation exhume and decapitate the Musulman corpses and fix their heads on posts round the gate of the fortress.
“Reference is made to a seven volume work titled Rawzatu’s-Safa, the first six composed by Mirkhwand (d. A.D. 1498) and the seventh composed by his grandson Khwandamir (d. A.D. 1534).2
p. 168-169 of that work states: “The assassination is planned by twelve Babis, who arrange that the attempt shall take place on the morning of Sunday the 28th of Shawwal A.H. 1268 (August 15th, A.D.1852) as the Shah is riding out on a hunting expedition from his summer residence at Niyavaran…Of the twelve assassins, six fail to arrive in time, while three lag behind – The three who are ready approach the Shah as petitioners, surround him, and fire twoshots at him – The Shah’s retainers come up and kill one of the conspirators – Another shot is fired wounding the Shah in the shoulder.”
On this issue the Baha’i add a bit of confusion. J. E. Esslemont reports that one of the Bab’s followers fired a pistol at the Shah and injured him. Shoghi Effendi and John Huddleston say that it was two men and they wounded the Shah. Jessyca Russell Gaver,a nother Baha’i author, reports that “two young boys shot at him but missed.”3
When Baha’u’llah writes on the subject he makes it appear that there was more mischief occurring expressing general disappointment in the conduct of the Babis as a whole.4
Reference is made to:”The attempted assassination of Nasiru’d-Din Shah on Sunday August 15th, 1852, though very lightly touched on in the present work, is so fully described by the two Musulman historians, Lady Sheil, Gobineau, Polak, Kazem-Beg and others, that I shall confine myself here to reproducing the substance of what was told me about this event by the nephew of one of the three Babis actually engaged in the plot…
According to this account, then, the Babi conspirators were originally seven in number, but four of them drew back at the last moment from the projected enterprise…one of the three Babis (apparently the Nirizi) drew a pistol from his pocket and fired at the Shah. Mulla Fathu’-llah of Kum then threw himself upon the King and dragged him from hish orse on to the ground, meaning to cut his throat…
As soon as it was evident that the attempt had failed and that the Shah still lived, other retainers, who had at first hung back, hastened forward to bear a part in the seizure of the two surviving assassins (for Sadik of Zanjan had already been killed). The two captives,on being interrogated, declared that they were Babis, and that they had made the attempt with a view to avenging the blood of their Master.”5
Reference is made to a book titled The Kisasu’l-‘Ulama, “This is a work of 350 pages containing biographical notices of 153 eminent Shi’ite divines, amongst whom the author, Mírza Muhammad ibn Suleyman-i-Tanakabuni, includes himself.”6
The following is mentioned:” Haji Mullaa Muhammad Taki…was during the last year of his life chiefly engaged inviolent public denunciation of the Bab and his religion. This cost him his life; for at length certain Babis, stung by his words into uncontrollable anger, fell upon him early one morning as he was praying in the mosque, and with knives and daggers inflicted on him eight wounds, from the effects of which he expired two days later.”
p. 36 of that work records:”Account of the assassination of Haji Mulla Muhammad Taki by certain Babis in A.H.1264 (A.D. 1848).”
Reference to “[A.D. 1865.] Persien. Das Land und seine Bewohner, by Dr Jakob Eduard Polak, formerly Physician to the Shah of Persia and Professor at the Medical College of Teheran…whose position gave him rare opportunities of observing facts which his scientific training enabled him to describe with precision and accuracy, is also of the highest value.”7
p. 350 of this work:”Alleged use of narcotics such as hashish by the Babis.
“Reference is made to “Tarikh-i-Jadid…supplies us with much new matter. As the versions embodied in the latter are rendered sufficiently accessible to the European reader by Kazem-Beg’s narrative, I shall confine myself here to giving a brief presentation of the account according to the Babi tradition.”8
This work tells that:”A number of Babis…attacked the town and killed the governor Zeynu’l-‘Abidin Khan – the chief author of their sufferings – while he was at the bath.”
Regarding these next quotes the editor states:”I shall confine myself here to reproducing the substance of what was told me about this event by the nephew of one of the three Babis actually engaged in the plot [to assassinatethe Shah].”9
The account includes:”Haji Mirza Ahmad, was killed in Baghdad by certain Beha’is, he being one of those who refused to transfer their allegiance from Subh-i-Azal to Beha [Baha’u’llah]. “Meaning, those who refused to accept Baha’u’llah rather than his half-brother who at the time was the leader of the Babis. In other words, refusing to convert from Babism to Baha’ism.
Reference is made to Hasht Bihisht, a work written by an Azali author: 10
“Mirza Asadu’llah…declared himself to be ‘He whom God shall manifest’…Mirza Huseyn ‘Ali [Baha’u’llah], after a protracted discussion with him, instructed his servant Mirza Muhammad of Mazandaran to slay him, which was accordingly done.”
“when Mirzá Huseyn ‘Ali [Baha’u’llah] beheld matters in this disordered state, he bethought himself of advancing the same claim himself (considering that from the prominent position which he had long held as practical director of affairs, he stood a better chance of success than any previous claimant), and in this idea he was greatly encouraged by Aka Mirza Aka Jan of Kashan. Little by little his resolution took more definite shape, and he fell to thinking how he might compass the destruction of such of the Babis as were likely to oppose his contemplated action.”
“Mirza Huseyn ‘Ali [Baha’u’llah], still instigated and encouraged by Aka Mirza Aka Jan,gradually made public his claim to be, not only ‘He whom God shall manifest,’ but anIncarnation of the Deity Himself, and began to send letters and epistles in all directions. And now, according to the Azali historian, began a series of assassinations on the part of the Beha’is.
All prominent supporters of Subh-i-Azal who withstood Mirza Huseyn ‘Ali’s claim were marked out for death, and in Baghdad Mulla Rajab ‘Ali ‘Kahir’ and his brother, Haji Mirza Ahmad, Haji Mirza Muhammad Riza, and several others fell one by one by the knife or bullet of the assassin. But the author of the Hasht Bihisht brings a yet graver charge against Mirza Huseyn ‘Ali, and asserts that he caused poison to be placed in one side of a dish of food which was to be set before himself and Subh-i-Azal, giving instructions that the poisoned side was to be turned towards his brother. As it happened, however, the food had been flavoured with onions, and Subh-i-Azal, disliking this flavour, refused to partake of the dish.
Mirza Huseyn ‘Ali, fancying that his brother suspected his design, ate some of the food from his side of the plate; but, the poison having diffused itself to some extent through the whole mass, he was presently attacked with vomiting and other symptoms of poisoning. Thereupon he assembled his own followers and intimates, and declared that Subh-i-Azal had attempted to poison him.”11
“another plot was laid against Subh-i-Azal’s life, and it was arranged that Muhammad ‘Ali the barber should cut his throat while shaving near, and, on leaving the bath, instantlyt ook another lodging in Adrianople and separated himself entirely from Mirza Huseyn’Ali and his followers.”
“`Abbas Efendi [`Abdu’l-Baha], and other partisans of Mirza Huseyn ‘Ali to sundry Turkish statesmen and officials to the following effect:- ‘About thirty thousand of us Babis are concealed in disguise in and around Constantinople, and in a short while we shall rise. We shall first capture Constantinople, and, if Sultan ‘Abdu’l-‘Aziz and his ministers do not believe [in our religion], we shall depose and dismiss them from their rule and administration. And our King is Mirza Yahya Subh-i-Azal.’…The letters wereforthwith laid before the Persian Ambassador, and, at a joint assembly of Turkish andPersian officials, it was decided to exile the Babi chiefs to some remote island or fortresson the coast.”
“the Turkish government to exile Mirza Yahya Subh-i-Azal and Mirza Huseyn ‘Ali Baha’u’llah not to the same but to two different places…Before the transfer was actually effected, however, Mirza Nasru’llah was poisoned by Mirza Huseyn ‘Ali at Adrianople.
The other three Azalis were assassinated shortly after their arrival at Acre in a housewhich they occupied near the barracks, the assassins being ‘Abdu’l-Karim, Muhammad’Ali the barber, Huseyn the water-carrier, and Muhammad Jawad of Kazvin.”
“Certain persons, he says, who had at first been inclined to follow Mirza Huseyn ‘Ali,subsequently withdrew and separated themselves from him. Some of these…wereassassinated in the Caravansaray of the corn-sellers (Khan-i-gandum-firushan) and buriedin quick-lime under the platform, which was duly mortared up over their bodies. After awhile, however, the smell of the decomposing corpses became so offensive that the other inhabitants of the caravansaray complained to the local authorities, who instituted asearch and discovered the bodies.”
“Haji Ja’far, says he, had a claim of 1200 pounds against Mirza Huseyn ‘Ali, and demanded the payment of this debt with some violence and importunity. Mirza Aka Janof Kashan thereupon instructed one ‘Ali of Kazvin to slay the old man and throw his body out of the window of the upper room which he occupied into the courtyard of the caravansaray. It was then put about that he had ‘cast himself out and died, yielding up his life to the Beloved.'”
“Other assassinations in other places are alleged…in short, if we are to believe the Azali writer, most of the more prominent Babis who withstood Mirza Huseyn ‘Ali’s pretensions were sought out and slain wherever they chanced to be.”
“Aka Muhammad ‘Ali of Isfahan…Owing to certain discoveries which he had made,however, his faith had undergone considerable abatement, and signs of coolness had been observed in him. Mirza Abu’l-Kasim the Bakhtiyari robber was consequently despatched from Acre with instructions to ‘bleed that block of heedlessness whose blood is in excess.’
On his arrival in Constantinople he took up his lodging with the unsuspecting merchant in the Khan-i-Sharki. Here he remained till one day he found opportunity to break open his host’s private safe and abstract therefrom £350.
A part of this sum he retained for himself; with the remainder he bought clothes, stuffs,and other goods which he sent to Acre. In return for this service he received the following epistle:-‘O phlebotomist of the Divine Unity! Throb like the artery in the body of theContingent World, and drink of the blood of the ‘Block of Heedlessness’ for that he turned aside from the aspect of thy Lord the Merciful!'”
1.1. Edward G. Browne, A Traveller’s Narrative (Makala-i-Shakhsi Sayyah), pp. 173-174
2.2. Ibid., p. 188
3.3. J. E. Esslemont, M.B., CH.B., F.B.E.A., Revised by `Abdu’l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi, Baha’u’llahand the New Era (Wilmette, IL.: The Baha’i Publishing Committee, 1928, 12th ed. 1950), p. 32 alsoJessyca Russell Gaver, The Baha’i Faith Dawn of a New Day (New York: Hawthorn Books, Inc. with permission of the Baha’i Publishing Trust, 1967), p. 56 also Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By (Wilmette,IL.: Baha’i Publishing Trust, 1944, 6th ed. 1970), p. 62 also John Huddleston, The Earth is but OneCountry (Rutland Gate London: Baha’i Publishing Trust, The National Spiritual Assembly of TheBaha’i of The United Kingdom, 1976, 2nd ed. 1980), p. 153
4.4. Esslemont, p. 33
5.5. Traveller’s Narrative, pp. 323-324. “According to Nasikhu’t-Tawarikh the conspirators were originally twelve in number. Of these, the names of four only – Sadik of Zanjan, Mirza ‘Abdu’l-Wahhabof Shiraz, Mulla Fathu’-llah of Kum, and Muhammad Bakir of Najafabad – are given. It is subsequentlystated that all save three drew back at the last, and that of these three one was “a man of Niriz”(presumably the same Mirza Muhammad mentioned above). Lady Sheil (op. cit., p. 274) says that four Babis took part in the attack.”
6.6. Ibid., p. 197
7.7. Ibid., p. 203
8.8. Ibid., p. 254, 258
9.9. Ibid., p. 323
10.10. Ibid., p. 357-363. “Most of the Babis…vowed allegiance to Beha, and thereby became Beha’is;some few refused to transfer their allegiance from Mirza Yahya Subh-i-Azal (who himself strenuouslyresisted Beha’s claims, which he regarded in the light of an usurpation and a rebellion), and these werethenceforth known as Azalis.” p. xvii
11.11. “The Beha’is reverse this story as well as the following in every particular, declaring the MirzaYahya Subh-i-Azal attempted to poison Mirza Huseyn ‘Ali Beha’u’llah, and after his failure spread abroad the report that the attempt had been made on himself.