The Reconciliation of Races and Religions
Thomas Kelly Cheyne

Part 2 out of 3

unlocking of metaphorical prison-gates, was displayed in the case of
Mulla Huseyn both in voyages on the ocean of Truth, and in
warfare. Yes, the Mulla's fragile form might suggest the student,
but he had also the precious faculty of generalship, and a happy
perfection of fearlessness.

Like the Bab himself in his preparation-period, he gave his adhesion
to the Sheykhi school of theology, and on the decease of the former
leader (Sayyid Kazim) he went, like other members of the school, to
seek for a new spiritual head. Now it so happened that Sayyid Kazim
had already turned the eyes of Huseyn towards 'Ali Muhammad;
already this eminent theosophist had a presentiment that wonderful
things were in store for the young visitor from Shiraz. It was
natural, therefore, that Huseyn should seek further information and
guidance from 'Ali Muhammad himself. No trouble could be too great;
the object could not be attained in a single interview, and as 'Ali
Muhammad was forbidden to leave his house at Shiraz, secrecy was
indispensable. Huseyn, therefore, was compelled to spend the
greater part of the day in his new teacher's house.

The concentration of thought to which the constant nearness of a great
prophet (and 'more than a prophet') naturally gave birth had the only
possible result. All barriers were completely broken down, and
Huseyn recognized in his heaven-sent teacher the Gate (_Bab_)
which opened on to the secret abode of the vanished Imam, and one
charged with a commission to bring into existence the world-wide
Kingdom of Righteousness. To seal his approval of this thorough
conversion, which was hitherto without a parallel, the Bab conferred
on his new adherent the title of 'The First to Believe.'

This honourable title, however, is not the only one used by this Hero
of God. Still more frequently he was called 'The Gate of the Gate,'
i.e. the Introducer to Him through Whom all true wisdom comes;
or, we may venture to say, the Bab's Deputy. Two other titles maybe
mentioned. One is 'The Gate.' Those who regarded 'Ali Muhammad of
Shiraz as the 'Point' of prophecy and the returned Imam (the Ka'im)
would naturally ascribe to his representative the vacant dignity of
'The Gate.' Indeed, it is one indication of this that the
Subh-i-Ezel designates Mulla Huseyn not as the Gate's Gate,
but simply as the Gate.

And now the 'good fight of faith' begins in earnest. First of all, the
Bab's Deputy (or perhaps 'the Bab' [Footnote: Some Babi
writers (including Subh-i-Ezel) certainly call MullaHuseyn
'the Bab.']--but this might confuse the reader) is sent to Khurasan,
[Footnote: _NH_, p. 44.] taking Isfahan and Tihran in his way. I need
not catalogue the names of his chief converts and their places of
residence. [Footnote: See Nicolas, _AMB_.] Suffice it to mention
here that among the converts were Baha-'ullah, Muhammad 'Ali of
Zanjan, and Haji Mirza Jani, the same who has left us a much
'overworked' history of Babism (down to the time of his
martyrdom). Also that among the places visited was Omar Khayyam's
Nishapur, and that two attempts were made by the 'Gate's Gate' to
carry the Evangel into the Shi'ite Holy Land (Mash-had).

But it was time to reopen communications with the 'lord from Shiraz'
(the Bab). So his Deputy resolved to make for the castle of Maku,
where the Bab was confined. On the Deputy's arrival the Bab
foretold to him his own (the Bab's) approaching martyrdom and the
cruel afflictions which were impending. At the same time the Bab
directed him to return to Khurasan, adding that he should 'go thither
by way of Mazandaran, for there the doctrine had not yet been rightly
preached.' So the Deputy went first of all to Mazandaran, and there
joined another eminent convert, best known by his Babi name
Kuddus (sacred).

I pause here to notice how intimate were the relations between the two
friends--the 'Gate's Gate' and 'Sacred.' Originally the former was
considered distinctly the greater man. People may have reasoned
somewhat thus:--It was no doubt true that Kuddus had been privileged
to accompany the Bab to Mecca, [Footnote: For the divergent
tradition in Nicolas, see _AMB_, p. 206.] but was not the Bab's
Deputy the more consummate master of spiritual lore? [Footnote: _NH_,
p. 43, cp. p. 404.]

It was at any rate the latter Hero of God who (according to one
tradition) opened the eyes of the majority of inquirers to the
truth. It is also said that on the morning after the meeting of the
friends the chief seat was occupied by Kuddus, while the Gate's
Deputy stood humbly and reverentially before him. This is certainly
true to the spirit of the brother-champions, one of whom was
conspicuous for his humility, the other for his soaring spiritual

But let us return to the evangelistic journey. The first signs of the
approach of Kuddus were a letter from him to the Bab's Deputy (the
letter is commonly called 'The Eternal Witness'), together with a
white robe [Footnote: White was the Babite colour. See _NH_, p. 189;
_TN_, p. xxxi, n. 1.] and a turban. In the letter, it was announced
that he and seventy other believers would shortly win the crown of
martyrdom. This may possibly be true, not only because circumstantial
details were added, but because the chief leaders of the Babis do
really appear to have had extraordinary spiritual gifts, especially
that of prophecy. One may ask, Did Kuddus also foresee the death of
his friend? He did not tell him so in the letter, but he did direct
him to leave Khurasan, in spite of the encyclical letter of the Bab,
bidding believers concentrate, if possible, on Khurasan.

So, then, we see our Babi apostles and their followers, with
changed route, proceeding to the province of Mazandaran, where
Kuddus resided. On reaching Miyami they found about thirty
believers ready to join them--the first-fruits of the preaching of the
Kingdom. Unfortunately opposition was stirred up by the appearance of
the apostles. There was an encounter with the populace, and the
Babis were defeated. The Babis, however, went on steadily till
they arrived at Badasht, much perturbed by the inauspicious news of
the death of Muhammad Shah, 4th September 1848. We are told that the
'Gate's Gate' had already foretold this event, [Footnote: _NH_,
p. 45.] which involved increased harshness in the treatment of the
Bab. We cannot greatly wonder that, according to the Babis,
Muhammad Shah's journey was to the infernal regions.

Another consequence of the Shah's death was the calling of the Council
of Badasht. It has been suggested that the true cause of the summoning
of that assembly was anxiety for the Bab, and a desire to carry him
off to a place of safety. But the more accepted view--that the subject
before the Council was the relation of the Babis to the Islamic
laws--is also the more probable. The abrogation of those laws is
expressly taught by Kurratu'l 'Ayn, according to Mirza Jani.

How many Babis took part in the Meeting? That depends on whether
the ordinary Babis were welcomed to the Meeting or only the
leaders. If the former were admitted, the number of Babis must
have been considerable, for the 'Gate's Gate' is said to have gathered
a band of 230 men, and Kuddus a band of 300, many of them men of
wealth and position, and yet ready to give the supreme proof of their
absolute sincerity. The notice at the end of Mirza Jani's account,
which glances at the antinomian tendencies of some who attended the
Meeting, seems to be in favour of a large estimate. Elsewhere Mirza
Jani speaks of the 'troubles of Badasht,' at which the gallant Riza
Khan performed 'most valuable services.' Nothing is said, however, of
the part taken in the quieting of these troubles either by the 'Gate's
Gate' or by Kuddus. Greater troubles, however, were at hand; it is
the beginning of the Mazandaran insurrection (A.D. 1848-1849).

The place of most interest in this exciting episode is the fortified
tomb of Sheykh Tabarsi, twelve or fourteen miles south of
Barfurush. The Babis under the 'Gate's Gate' made this their
headquarters, and we have abundant information, both Babite and
Muslim, respecting their doings. The 'Gate's Gate' preached to them
every day, and warned them that their only safety lay in detachment
from the world. He also (probably as _Bab_, 'Ali Muhammad having
assumed the rank of _Nukta_, Point) conferred new names (those of
prophets and saints) on the worthiest of the Babis, [Footnote: This is
a Muslim account. See _NH_, p. 303.] which suggests that this Hero of
God had felt his way to the doctrine of the equality of the saints in
the Divine Bosom. Of course, this great truth was very liable to
misconstruction, just as much as when the having all things in common
was perverted into the most objectionable kind of communism.
[Footnote: _NH_, p. 55.]

'Thus,' the moralist remarks, 'did they live happily together in
content and gladness, free from all grief and care, as though
resignation and contentment formed a part of their very nature.'

Of course, the new names were given with a full consciousness of the
inwardness of names. There was a spirit behind each new name; the
revival of a name by a divine representative meant the return of the
spirit. Each Babi who received the name of a prophet or an Imam
knew that his life was raised to a higher plane, and that he was to
restore that heavenly Being to the present age. These re-named
Babis needed no other recompense than that of being used in the
Cause of God. They became capable of far higher things than before,
and if within a short space of time the Bab, or his Deputy, was to
conquer the whole world and bring it under the beneficent yoke of the
Law of God, much miraculously heightened courage would be needed. I am
therefore able to accept the Muslim authority's statement. The
conferring of new names was not to add fuel to human vanity, but
sacramentally to heighten spiritual vitality.

Not all Babis, it is true, were capable of such insight. From the
Babi account of the night-action, ordered on his arrival at Sheykh
Tabarsi by Kuddus, we learn that some Babis, including those of
Mazandaran, took the first opportunity of plundering the enemy's
camp. For this, the Deputy reproved them, but they persisted, and the
whole army was punished (as we are told) by a wound dealt to Kuddus,
which shattered one side of his face. [Footnote: _NH_, 68
_f_.] It was with reference to this that the Deputy said at last
to his disfigured friend, 'I can no longer bear to look upon the wound
which mars your glorious visage. Suffer me, I pray you, to lay down my
life this night, that I may be delivered alike from my shame and my
anxiety.' So there was another night-encounter, and the Deputy knew
full well that it would be his last battle. And he 'said to one who
was beside him, "Mount behind me on my horse, and when I say, 'Bear me
to the Castle,' turn back with all speed." So now, overcome with
faintness, he said, "Bear me to the Castle." Thereupon his companion
turned the horse's head, and brought him back to the entrance of the
Castle; and there he straightway yielded up his spirit to the Lord and
Giver of life.' Frail of form, but a gallant soldier and an
impassioned lover of God, he combined qualities and characteristics
which even in the spiritual aristocracy of Persia are seldom found
united in the same person.


He was a man of Mazandaran, but was converted at Shiraz. He was one of
the earliest to cast in his lot with God's prophet. No sooner had he
beheld and conversed with the Bab, than, 'because of the purity of his
heart, he at once believed without seeking further sign or proof.'
[Footnote: _NH_, p. 39.] After the Council of Badasht he received
among the Babis the title of Jenab-i-Kuddus, i.e. 'His Highness the
Sacred,' by which it was meant that he was, for this age, what the
sacred prophet Muhammad was to an earlier age, or, speaking loosely,
that holy prophet's 're-incarnation.' It is interesting to learn that
that heroic woman Kurratu'l 'Ayn was regarded as the 'reincarnation'
of Fatima, daughter of the prophet Muhammad. Certainly Kuddus had
enormous influence with small as well as great. Certainly, too, both
he and his greatest friend had prophetic gifts and a sense of oneness
with God, which go far to excuse the extravagant form of their claims,
or at least the claims of others on their behalf. Extravagance of
form, at any rate, lies on the surface of their titles. There must be
a large element of fancy when Muhammad 'Ali of Barfurush (i.e.
Kuddus) claims to be a 'return' of the great Arabian prophet and even
to be the Ka'im (i.e. the Imam Mahdi), who was expected to bring in
the Kingdom of Righteousness. There is no exaggeration, however, in
saying that, together with the Bab, Kuddus ranked highest (or equal to
the highest) in the new community. [Footnote: In _NH_, pp. 359, 399,
Kuddus is represented as the 'last to enter,' and as 'the name of the

We call him here Kuddus, i.e. holy, sacred, because this was his
Babi name, and his Babi period was to him the only part of his
life that was worth living. True, in his youth, he (like 'the Deputy')
had Sheykhite instruction, [Footnote: We may infer this from the
inclusion of both persons in the list of those who went through the
same spiritual exercises in the sacred city of Kufa (_NH_, p. 33).]
but as long as he was nourished on this imperfect food, he must have
had the sense of not having yet 'attained.' He was also like his
colleague 'the Deputy' in that he came to know the Bab before the
young Shirazite made his Arabian pilgrimage; indeed (according to our
best information), it was he who was selected by 'Ali Muhammad to
accompany him to the Arabian Holy City, the 'Gate's Gate,' we may
suppose, being too important as a representative of the 'Gate' to be
removed from Persia. The Bab, however, who had a gift of insight,
was doubtless more than satisfied with his compensation. For Kuddus
had a noble soul.

The name Kuddus is somewhat difficult to account for, and yet it
must be understood, because it involves a claim. It must be observed,
then, first of all, that, as the early Babis believed, the last of
the twelve Imams (cp. the Zoroastrian Amshaspands) still lived on
invisibly (like the Jewish Messiah), and communicated with his
followers by means of personages called Babs (i.e. Gates), whom the
Imam had appointed as intermediaries. As the time for a new divine
manifestation approached, these personages 'returned,' i.e. were
virtually re-incarnated, in order to prepare mankind for the coming
great epiphany. Such a 'Gate' in the Christian cycle would be John
the Baptist; [Footnote: John the Baptist, to the Israelites, was the
last Imam before Jesus.] such 'Gates' in the Muhammadan cycle
would be Waraka ibn Nawfal and the other Hanifs, and in the
Babi cycle Sheikh Ahmad of Ahsa, Sayyid Kazim of Resht,
Muhammad 'Ali of Shiraz, and Mulla Huseyn of Bushraweyh, who was
followed by his brother Muhammad Hasan. 'Ali Muhammad, however,
whom we call the Bab, did not always put forward exactly the same
claim. Sometimes he assumed the title of Zikr [Footnote: And when God
wills He will explain by the mediation of His Zikr (the Bab) that
which has been decreed for him in the Book.--Early Letter to the
Bab's uncle (_AMB_, p. 223).] (i.e. Commemoration, or perhaps
Reminder); sometimes (p. 81) that of Nukta, i.e. Point (= Climax
of prophetic revelation). Humility may have prevented him from always
assuming the highest of these titles (Nukta). He knew that there
was one whose fervent energy enabled him to fight for the Cause as he
himself could not. He can hardly, I think, have gone so far as to
'abdicate' in favour of Kuddus, or as to affirm with Mirza Jani
[Footnote: _NH_, p. 336.] that 'in this (the present) cycle the
original "Point" was Hazrat-i-Kuddus.' He may, however, have
sanctioned Muhammad 'Ali's assumption of the title of 'Point' on
some particular occasion, such as the Assembly of Badasht. It is true,
Muhammad 'Ali's usual title was Kuddus, but Muhammad 'Ali
himself, we know, considered this title to imply that in himself there
was virtually a 'return' of the great prophet Muhammad. [Footnote:
_Ibid_. p. 359.] We may also, perhaps, believe on the authority of
Mirza Jani that the Bab 'refrained from writing or circulating
anything during the period of the "Manifestation" of Hazrat-i-Kuddus,
and only after his death claimed to be himself the Ka'im.'
[Footnote: _Ibid_. p. 368.] It is further stated that, in the list of
the nineteen (?) Letters of the Living, Kuddus stood next to the
Bab himself, and the reader has seen how, in the defence of Tabarsi,
Kuddus took precedence even of that gallant knight, known among the
Babis as 'the Gate's Gate.'

On the whole, there can hardly be a doubt that Muhammad 'Ali, called
Kuddus, was (as I have suggested already) the most conspicuous
Babi next to the Bab himself, however hard we may find it to
understand him on certain occasions indicated by Prof. Browne. He
seems, for instance, to have lacked that tender sense of life
characteristic of the Buddhists, and to have indulged a spiritual
ambition which Jesus would not have approved. But it is unimportant to
pick holes in such a genuine saint. I would rather lay stress on his
unwillingness to think evil even of his worst foes. And how abominable
was the return he met with! Weary of fighting, the Babis yielded
themselves up to the royal troops. As Prof. Browne says, 'they were
received with an apparent friendliness and even respect which served
to lull them into a false security and to render easy the perfidious
massacre wherein all but a few of them perished on the morrow of their

The same historian tells us that Kuddus, loyal as ever, requested
the Prince to send him to Tihran, there to undergo judgment before the
Shah. The Prince was at first disposed to grant this request, thinking
perhaps that to bring so notable a captive into the Royal Presence
might serve to obliterate in some measure the record of those repeated
failures to which his unparalleled incapacity had given rise. But when
the Sa'idu'l-'Ulama heard of this plan, and saw a possibility of his
hated foe escaping from his clutches, he went at once to the Prince,
and strongly represented to him the danger of allowing one so eloquent
and so plausible to plead his cause before the King. These arguments
were backed up by an offer to pay the Prince a sum of 400 (or, as
others say, of 1000) _tumans_ on condition that Jenab-i-Kuddus
should be surrendered unconditionally into his hands. To this
arrangement the Prince, whether moved by the arguments or the
_tumans_ of the Sa'idu'l-'Ulama, eventually consented, and
Jenab-i-Kuddus was delivered over to his inveterate enemy.

'The execution took place in the _meydan_, or public square, of Barfurush.
The Sa'idu'l-'Ulama first cut off the ears of Jenab-i-Kuddus, and
tortured him in other ways, and then killed him with the blow of an
axe. One of the Sa'idu'l-'Ulama's disciples then severed the head from
the lifeless body, and others poured naphtha over the corpse and set
fire to it. The fire, however, as the Babis relate (for
Subh-i-Ezel corroborates the _Parikh-i-Jadid_ in this particular),
refused to burn the holy remains; and so the Sa'idu'l-'Ulama gave
orders that the body should be cut in pieces, and these pieces cast
far and wide. This was done, but, as Haji Mirza Jani relates, certain
Babis not known as such to their fellow-townsmen came at night,
collected the scattered fragments, and buried them in an old ruined
_madrasa_ or college hard by. By this _madrasa_, as the Babi
historian relates, had Jenab-i-Kuddus once passed in the company
of a friend with whom he was conversing on the transitoriness of this
world, and to it he had pointed to illustrate his words, saying, "This
college, for instance, was once frequented, and is now deserted and
neglected; a little while hence they will bury here some great man,
and many will come to visit his grave, and again it will be frequented
and thronged with people."' When the Baha'is are more conscious of
the preciousness of their own history, this prophecy may be fulfilled,
and Kuddus be duly honoured.


Sayyid Yahya derived his surname Darabi from his birthplace Darab,
near Shiraz. His father was Sayyid Ja'far, surnamed Kashfi, i.e.
discloser (of the divine secrets). Neither father nor son, however,
was resident at Darab at the period of this narrative. The father was
at Buzurg, and the son, probably, at Tihran. So great was the
excitement caused by the appearance of the Bab that Muhammad Shah
and his minister thought it desirable to send an expert to inquire
into the new Teacher's claims. They selected Sayyid Yahya, 'one of
the best known of doctors and Sayyids, as well as an object of
veneration and confidence,' even in the highest quarters. The mission
was a failure, however, for the royal commissioner, instead of
devising some practical compromise, actually went over to the Bab,
in other words, gave official sanction to the innovating party.
[Footnote: _TN_, pp. 7, 854; Nicolas, _AMB_, pp. 233, 388.]

The tale is an interesting one. The Bab at first treated the
commissioner rather cavalierly. A Babi theologian was told off to
educate him; the Bab himself did not grant him an audience. To this
Babi representative Yahya confided that he had some inclination
towards Babism, and that a miracle performed by the Bab in his
presence would make assurance doubly sure. To this the Babi is
said to have answered, 'For such as have like us beheld a thousand
marvels stranger than the fabled cleaving of the moon to demand a
miracle or sign from that Perfect Truth would be as though we should
seek light from a candle in the full blaze of the radiant sun.'
[Footnote: _NH_, p. 122.] Indeed, what marvel could be greater
than that of raising the spiritually dead, which the Bab and his
followers were constantly performing? [Footnote: Accounts of miracles
were spiritualized by the Bab.]

It was already much to have read the inspired "signs," or verses,
communicated by the Bab, but how much more would it be to see his
Countenance! The time came for the Sayyid's first interview with the
Master. There was still, however, in his mind a remainder of the
besetting sin of mullas'--arrogance,--and the Bab's answers to the
questions of his guest failed to produce entire conviction. The Sayyid
was almost returning home, but the most learned of the disciples bade
him wait a little longer, till he too, like themselves, would see
clearly. [Footnote: _NH_, p. 114.] The truth is that the Bab
committed the first part of the Sayyid's conversion to his disciples.
The would-be disciple had, like any novice, to be educated, and the
Bab, in his first two interviews with the Sayyid, was content to
observe how far this process had gone.

It was in the third interview that the two souls really met. The
Sayyid had by this time found courage to put deep theological
questions, and received correspondingly deep answers. The Bab then
wrote on the spot a commentary on the 108th Sura of the Kur'an.
[Footnote: Nicolas, p. 233.] In this commentary what was the Sayyid's
surprise to find an explanation which he had supposed to be his own
original property! He now submitted entirely to the power of
attraction and influence [Footnote: _NH_, p. 115.] exercised so
constantly, when He willed, by the Master. He took the Bab for his
glorious model, and obtained the martyr's crown in the second Niriz


He was a native of Mazandaran, and a disciple of a celebrated teacher
at the holy city of Karbala, decorated with the title Sharifu-'l Ulama
('noblest of the Ulama'). He became a _mujtah[i]d_ ('an authority on
hard religious questions') at Zanjan, the capital of the small
province of Khamsa, which lay between Irak and Azarbaijan. Muslim
writers affirm that in his functions of _mujtahad_ he displayed a
restless and intolerant spirit, [Footnote: Gobineau; Nicolas.] and he
himself confesses to having been 'proud and masterful.' We can,
however, partly excuse one who had no congeniality with the narrow
Shi'ite system prevalent in Persia. It is clear, too, that his
teaching (which was that of the sect of the Akhbaris), [Footnote:
_NH_, pp. 138, 349.] was attractive to many. He declares that two or
three thousand families in Khamsa were wholly devoted to him.
[Footnote: _Ibid_. p. 350.]

At the point at which this brief sketch begins, our mulla was
anxiously looking out for the return of his messenger Mash-hadi
Ahmad from Shiraz with authentic news of the reported Divine
Manifestation. When the messenger returned he found Mulla Muhammad
'Ali in the mosque about to give a theological lecture. He handed over
the letter to his Master, who, after reading it, at once turned to his
disciples, and uttered these words: 'To search for a roof after one
has arrived at one's destination is a shameful thing. To search for
knowledge when one is in possession of one's object is supererogatory.
Close your lips [in surprise], for the Master has arisen; apprehend
the news thereof. The sun which points out to us the way we should go,
has appeared; the night of error and of ignorance is brought to
nothing.' With a loud voice he then recited the prayer of Friday,
which is to replace the daily prayer when the Imam appears.

The conversion [Footnote: For Muhammad 'Ali's own account, see
Nicolas, _AMB_, pp. 349, 350.] of Mulla Muhammad 'Ali had
important results, though the rescue of the Bab was not permitted to
be one of them. The same night on which the Bab arrived at Zanjan on
his way to Tabriz and Maku, Mulla Muhammad 'Ali was secretly
conveyed to Tihran. In this way one dangerous influence, much dreaded
at court, was removed. And in Tihran he remained till the death of
Muhammad Shah, and the accession of Nasiru'd-din Shah. The new Shah
received him graciously, and expressed satisfaction that the Mulla
had not left Tihran without leave. He now gave him express permission
to return to Zanjan, which accordingly the Mulla lost no time in
doing. The hostile mullas, however, were stirred up to jealousy
because of the great popularity which Muhammad 'Ali had
acquired. Such was the beginning of the famous episode of Zanjan.


Among the Heroes of God was another glorious saint and martyr of the
new society, originally called Zarrin Taj ('Golden Crown'), but
afterwards better known as Kurratu'l 'Ayn ('Refreshment of the
Eyes') or Jenab-i-Tahira ('Her Excellency the Pure, Immaculate'). She
was the daughter of the 'sage of Kazwin,' Haji Mulla Salih, an
eminent jurist, who (as we shall see) eventually married her to her
cousin Mulla Muhammad. Her father-in-law and uncle was also a
mulla, and also called Muhammad; he was conspicuous for his bitter
hostility to the Sheykhi and the Babi sects. Kurratu'l 'Ayn
herself had a flexible and progressive mind, and shrank from no
theological problem, old or new. She absorbed with avidity the latest
religious novelties, which were those of the Bab, and though not
much sympathy could be expected from most of her family, yet there was
one of her cousins who was favourable like herself to the claims of
the Bab. Her father, too, though he upbraided his daughter for her
wilful adhesion to 'this Shiraz lad,' confessed that he had not taken
offence at any claim which she advanced for herself, whether to be the
Bab or _even more than that_.

Now I cannot indeed exonerate the 'sage of Kazwin' from all
responsibility for connecting his daughter so closely with a bitter
enemy of the Bab, but I welcome his testimony to the manifold
capacities of his daughter, and his admission that there were not only
extraordinary men but extraordinary women qualified even to represent
God, and to lead their less gifted fellow-men or fellow-women up the
heights of sanctity. The idea of a woman-Bab is so original that it
almost takes one's breath away, and still more perhaps does the
view--modestly veiled by the Haji--that certain men and even women are
of divine nature scandalize a Western till it becomes clear that the
two views are mutually complementary. Indeed, the only difference in
human beings is that some realize more, and some less, or even not at
all, the fact of the divine spark in their composition. Kurratu'l
'Ayn certainly did realize her divinity. On one occasion she even
reproved one of her companions for not at once discerning that she was
the _Kibla_ towards which he ought to pray. This is no poetical
conceit; it is meant as seriously as the phrase, 'the Gate,' is meant
when applied to Mirza 'Ali Muhammad. We may compare it with another
honorific title of this great woman--'The Mother of the World.'

The love of God and the love of man were in fact equally prominent in
the character of Kurratu'l 'Ayn, and the Glorious One (el-Abha) had
endowed her not only with moral but with high intellectual gifts. It
was from the head of the Sheykhi sect (Haji Sayyid Kazim) that she
received her best-known title, and after the Sayyid's death it was she
who (see below) instructed his most advanced disciples; she herself,
indeed, was more advanced than any, and was essentially, like Symeon
in St. Luke's Gospel, a waiting soul. As yet, it appears, the young
Shiraz Reformer had not heard of her. It was a letter which she wrote
after the death of the Sayyid to Mulla Huseyn of Bushraweyh which
brought her rare gifts to the knowledge of the Bab. Huseyn himself
was not commissioned to offer Kurratu'l 'Ayn as a member of the new
society, but the Bab 'knew what was in man,' and divined what the
gifted woman was desiring. Shortly afterwards she had opportunities of
perusing theological and devotional works of the Bab, by which, says
Mirza Jani, 'her conversion was definitely effected.' This was at
Karbala, a place beyond the limits of Persia, but dear to all Shi'ites
from its associations. It appears that Kurratu'l 'Ayn had gone
thither chiefly to make the acquaintance of the great Sheykhite
teacher, Sayyid Kazim.

Great was the scandal of both clergy and laity when this fateful step
of Kurratu'l 'Ayn became known at Kazwin. Greater still must it have
been if (as Gobineau states) she actually appeared in public without a
veil. Is this true? No, it is not true, said Subh-i-Ezel, when
questioned on this point by Browne. Now and then, when carried away by
her eloquence, she would allow the veil to slip down off her face, but
she would always replace it. The tradition handed on in Baha-'ullah's
family is different, and considering how close was the bond between
Bahaa and Kurratu'l 'Ayn, I think it safer to follow the family
of Baha, which in this case involves agreeing with Gobineau. This
noble woman, therefore, has the credit of opening the catalogue of
social reforms in Persia. Presently I shall have occasion to refer to
this again.

Mirza Jani confirms this view. He tells us that after being converted,
our heroine 'set herself to proclaim and establish the doctrine,' and
that this she did 'seated behind a curtain.' We are no doubt meant to
suppose that those of her hearers who were women were gathered round
the lecturer behind the curtain. It was not in accordance with
conventions that men and women should be instructed together, and
that--horrible to say--by a woman. The governor of Karbala determined
to arrest her, but, though without a passport, she made good her
escape to Baghdad. There she defended her religious position before
the chief mufti. The secular authorities, however, ordered her to
quit Turkish territory and not return.

The road which she took was that by Kirmanshah and Hamadan (both in
Irak; the latter, the humiliated representative of Ecbatana). Of
course, Kurratu'l 'Ayn took the opportunity of preaching her Gospel,
which was not a scheme of salvation or redemption, but 'certain subtle
mysteries of the divine' to which but few had yet been privileged to
listen. The names of some of her hearers are given; we are to suppose
that some friendly theologians had gathered round her, partly as an
escort, and partly attracted by her remarkable eloquence. Two of them
we shall meet with presently in another connection. It must not, of
course, be supposed that all minds were equally open. There were some
who raised objections to Kurratu'l 'Ayn, and wrote a letter to the
Bab, complaining of her. The Bab returned discriminating answers,
the upshot of which was that her homilies were to be considered as
inspired. We are told that these same objectors repented, which
implies apparently that the Bab's spiritual influence was effectual
at a distance.

Other converts were made at the same places, and the idea actually
occurred to her that she might put the true doctrine before the
Shah. It was a romantic idea (Muhammad Shah was anything thing but a
devout and believing Muslim), not destined to be realized. Her father
took the alarm and sent for her to come home, and, much to her credit,
she gave filial obedience to his summons. It will be observed that it
is the father who issues his orders; no husband is mentioned. Was it
not, then, most probably on _this_ return of Kurratu'l 'Ayn
that the maiden was married to Mulla Muhammad, the eldest son of
Haji Mulla Muhammad Taki. Mirza Jani does not mention this, but
unless our heroine made two journeys to Karbala, is it not the easiest
way of understanding the facts? The object of the 'sage of Kazwin'
was, of course, to prevent his daughter from traversing the country as
an itinerant teacher. That object was attained. I will quote from an
account which claims to be from Haji Muhammad Hamami, who had been
charged with this delicate mission by the family.

'I conducted Kurratu'l 'Ayn into the house of her father, to whom I
rendered an account of what I had seen. Haji Mulla Taki, who was
present at the interview, showed great irritation, and recommended all
the servants to prevent "this woman" from going out of the house under
any pretext whatsoever, and not to permit any one to visit her without
his authority. Thereupon he betook himself to the traveller's room,
and tried to convince her of the error in which she was entangled. He
entirely failed, however, and, furious before that settled calm and
earnestness, was led to curse the Bab and to load him with
insults. Then Kurratu'l 'Ayn looked into his face, and said to him,
"Woe unto thee, for I see thy mouth filling with blood."'

Such is the oral tradition which our informant reproduces. In
criticizing it, we may admit that the gift of second sight was
possessed by the Babi and Bahai leaders. But this particular
anecdote respecting our heroine is (may I not say?) very
improbable. To curse the Bab was not the way for an uncle to
convince his erring niece. One may, with more reason, suppose that
her father and uncle trusted to the effect of matrimony, and committed
the transformation of the lady to her cousin Mulla Muhammad. True,
this could not last long, and the murder of Taki in the mosque of
Kazwin must have precipitated Kurratu'l 'Ayn's resolution to divorce
her husband (as by Muhammadan law she was entitled to do) and leave
home for ever. It might, however, have gone hardly with her if she
had really uttered the prophecy related above. Evidently her husband,
who had accused her of complicity in the crime, had not heard of
it. So she was acquitted. The Bab, too, favoured the suggestion of
her leaving home, and taking her place among his missionaries.
[Footnote: Nicolas, _AMB_, p. 277.] At the dead of night, with
an escort of Babis, she set out ostensibly for Khurasan. The route
which she really adopted, however, took her by the forest-country of
Mazandaran, where she had the leisure necessary for pondering the
religious situation.

The sequel was dramatic. After some days and nights of quietude, she
suddenly made her appearance in the hamlet of Badasht, to which place
a representative conference of Babis had been summoned.

The object of the conference was to correct a widespread
misunderstanding. There were many who thought that the new leader
came, in the most literal sense, to fulfil the Islamic Law. They
realized, indeed, that the object of Muhammad was to bring about an
universal kingdom of righteousness and peace, but they thought this
was to be effected by wading through streams of blood, and with the
help of the divine judgments. The Bab, on the other hand, though not
always consistent, was moving, with some of his disciples, in the
direction of moral suasion; his only weapon was 'the sword of the
Spirit, which is the word of God.' When the Ka'im appeared all
things would be renewed. But the Ka'im was on the point of
appearing, and all that remained was to prepare for his Coming. No
more should there be any distinction between higher and lower races,
or between male and female. No more should the long, enveloping veil
be the badge of woman's inferiority.

The gifted woman before us had her own characteristic solution of the
problem. So, doubtless, had the other Babi leaders who were
present, such as Kuddus and Baha-'ullah, the one against, the other
in favour of social reforms.

It is said, in one form of tradition, that Kurratu'l 'Ayn herself
attended the conference with a veil on. If so, she lost no time in
discarding it, and broke out (we are told) into the fervid
exclamation, 'I am the blast of the trumpet, I am the call of the
bugle,' i.e. 'Like Gabriel, I would awaken sleeping souls.' It
is said, too, that this short speech of the brave woman was followed
by the recitation by Baha-'ullah of the Sura of the Resurrection
(lxxv.). Such recitations often have an overpowering effect.

The inner meaning of this was that mankind was about to pass into a
new cosmic cycle, for which a new set of laws and customs would be

There is also a somewhat fuller tradition. Kurratu'l 'Ayn was in
Mazandaran, and so was also Baha'ullah. The latter was taken ill, and
Kurratu'l 'Ayn, who was an intimate friend of his, was greatly
concerned at this. For two days she saw nothing of him, and on the
third sent a message to him to the effect that she could keep away no
longer, but must come to see him, not, however, as hitherto, but with
her head uncovered. If her friend disapproved of this, let him
censure her conduct. He did not disapprove, and on the way to see him,
she proclaimed herself the trumpet blast.

At any rate, it was this bold act of Kurratu'l 'Ayn which shook the
foundations of a literal belief in Islamic doctrines among the
Persians. It may be added that the first-fruits of Kurratu'l 'Ayn's
teaching was no one less than the heroic Kuddus, and that the
eloquent teacher herself owed her insight probably to Baha-'ullah. Of
course, the supposition that her greatest friend might censure her is
merely a delightful piece of irony. [Footnote: _NH_, pp. 357-358.]

I have not yet mentioned the long address assigned to our heroine by
Mirza Jani. It seems to me, in its present form, improbable, and yet
the leading ideas may have been among those expressed by the
prophetess. If so, she stated that the laws of the previous
dispensation were abrogated, and that laws in general were only
necessary till men had learnt to comprehend the Perfection of the
Doctrine of the Unity. 'And should men not be able to receive the
Doctrine of the Unity at the beginning of the Manifestation,
ordinances and restrictions will again be prescribed for them.' It is
not wonderful that the declaration of an impending abrogation of Law
was misinterpreted, and converted into a licence for Antinomianism.
Mirza Jani mentions, but with some reticence, the unseemly conduct of
some of the Babis.

There must, however, have been some who felt the spell of the great
orator, and such an one is portrayed by Mme. H. Dreyfus, in her
dramatic poem _God's Heroes_, under the name of 'Ali. I will
quote here a little speech of 'Ali's, and also a speech of Kurratu'l
'Ayn, because they seem to me to give a more vivid idea of the scene
than is possible for a mere narrator. [Footnote: _God's Heroes_,
by Laura Clifford Barney [Paris, 1909], p. 64, Act III.]


'Soon we shall leave Badasht: let us leave it filled with the Gospel
of life! Let our lives show what we, sincere Muhammadans, have
become through our acceptance of the Bab, the Mahdi, who has
awakened us to the esoteric meaning of the Resurrection Day. Let us
fill the souls of men with the glory of the revealed word. Let us
advance with arms extended to the stranger. Let us emancipate our
women, reform our society. Let us arise out of our graves of
superstition and of self, and pronounce that the Day of Judgment is at
hand; then shall the whole earth respond to the quickening power of


(_Deeply moved and half to herself._)

'I feel impelled to help unveil the Truth to these men assembled. If
my act be good the result will be good; if bad, may it affect me

'(_Advances majestically with face unveiled, and as she walks
towards Baha-'ullah's tent, addresses the men._) That sound of the
trumpet which ushers in the Day of Judgment is my call to you now!
Rise, brothers! The Quran is completed, the new era has begun. Know me
as your sister, and let all barriers of the past fall down before our
advancing steps. We teach freedom, action, and love. That sound of the
trumpet, it is I! That blast of the trumpet, it is I!

(_Exit_ Qurratu'l 'Ain.)'

On the breaking up of the Council our heroine joined a large party of
Babis led by her great friend Kuddus. On their arrival in Nur,
however, they separated, she herself staying in that district. There
she met Subh-i-Ezel, who is said to have rendered her many
services. But before long the people of Mazandaran surrendered the
gifted servant of truth to the Government.

We next meet with her in confinement at Tihran. There she was treated
at first with the utmost gentleness, her personal charm being felt
alike by her host, Mahmud the Kalantar, and by the most frigid of
Persian sovereigns. The former tried hard to save her. Doubtless by
using Ketman (i.e. by pretending to be a good Muslim) she might
have escaped. But her view of truth was too austere for this.

So the days--the well-filled days--wore on. Her success with
inquirers was marvellous; wedding-feasts were not half so bright as
her religious soirees. But she herself had a bridegroom, and longed
to see him. It was the attempt by a Babi on the Shah's life on
August 15, 1852, which brought her nearer to the desire of her
heart. One of the servants of the house has described her last evening
on earth. I quote a paragraph from the account.

'While she was in prison, the marriage of the Kalantar's son took
place. As was natural, all the women-folk of the great personages were
invited. But although large sums had been expended on the
entertainments usual at such a time, all the ladies called loudly for
Kurratu'l 'Ayn. She came accordingly, and hardly had she begun to
speak when the musicians and dancing-girls were dismissed, and,
despite the counter attractions of sweet delicacies, the guests had no
eyes and ears save for Kurratu'l 'Ayn.

'At last, a night came when something strange and sad happened. I had
just waked up, and saw her go down into the courtyard. After washing
from head to foot she went back into her room, where she dressed
herself altogether in white. She perfumed herself, and as she did
this she sang, and never had I seen her so contented and joyous as in
this song. Then she turned to the women of the house, and begged them
to pardon the disagreeables which might have been occasioned by her
presence, and the faults which she might have committed towards them;
in a word, she acted exactly like some one who is about to undertake a
long journey. We were all surprised, asking ourselves what that could
mean. In the evening, she wrapped herself in a _chadour_, which she
fixed about her waist, making a band of her _chargud_, then she put on
again her _chagchour_. Her joy as she acted thus was so strange that
we burst into tears, for her goodness and inexhaustible friendliness
made us love her. But she smiled on us and said, "This evening I am
going to take a great, a very great journey." At this moment there
was a knock at the street door. "Run and open," she said, "for they
will be looking for me."

'It was the Kalantar who entered. He went in, as far as her room, and
said to her, "Come, Madam, for they are asking for you." "Yes," said
she, "I know it. I know, too, whither I am to be taken; I know how I
shall be treated. But, ponder it well, a day will come when thy
Master will give thee like treatment." Then she went out dressed as
she was with the Kalantar; we had no idea whither she was being taken,
and only on the following day did we learn that she was executed.'

One of the nephews of the Kalantar, who was in the police, has given
an account of the closing scene, from which I quote the following:

'Four hours after sunset the Kalantar asked me if all my measures were
taken, and upon the assurances which I gave him he conducted me into
his house. He went in alone into the _enderun_, but soon
returned, accompanied by Kurratu'l 'Ayn, and gave me a folded paper,
saying to me, "You will conduct this woman to the garden of Ilkhani,
and will give her into the charge of Aziz Khan the Serdar."

'A horse was brought, and I helped Kurratu'l 'Ayn to mount. I was
afraid, however, that the Babis would find out what was
passing. So I threw my cloak upon her, so that she was taken for a
man. With an armed escort we set out to traverse the streets. I feel
sure, however, that if a rescue had been attempted my people would
have run away. I heaved a sigh of relief on entering the garden. I put
my prisoner in a room under the entrance, ordered my soldiers to guard
the door well, and went up to the third story to find the Serdar.

'He expected me. I gave him the letter, and he asked me if no one had
understood whom I had in charge. "No one," I replied, "and now that I
have performed my duty, give me a receipt for my prisoner." "Not yet,"
he said; "you have to attend at the execution; afterwards I will give
you your receipt."

'He called a handsome young Turk whom he had in his service, and tried
to win him over by flatteries and a bribe. He further said, "I will
look out for some good berth for you. But you must do something for
me. Take this silk handkerchief, and go downstairs with this
officer. He will conduct you into a room where you will find a young
woman who does much harm to believers, turning their feet from the way
of Muhammad. Strangle her with this handkerchief. By so doing you
will render an immense service to God, and I will give you a large

'The valet bowed and went out with me. I conducted him to the room
where I had left my prisoner. I found her prostrate and praying. The
young man approached her with the view of executing his orders. Then
she raised her head, looked fixedly at him and said, "Oh, young man,
it would ill beseem you to soil your hand with this murder."

'I cannot tell what passed in this young man's soul. But it is a fact
that he fled like a madman. I ran too, and we came together to the
serdar, to whom he declared that it was impossible for him to do what
was required. "I shall lose your patronage," he said. "I am, indeed,
no longer my own master; do what you will with me, but I will not
touch this woman."

'Aziz Khan packed him off, and reflected for some minutes. He then
sent for one of his horsemen whom, as a punishment for misconduct, he
had put to serve in the kitchens. When he came in, the serdar gave him
a friendly scolding: "Well, son of a dog, bandit that you are, has
your punishment been a lesson to you? and will you be worthy to regain
my affection? I think so. Here, take this large glass of brandy,
swallow it down, and make up for going so long without it." Then he
gave him a fresh handkerchief, and repeated the order which he had
already given to the young Turk.

'We entered the chamber together, and immediately the man rushed upon
Kurratu'l 'Ayn, and tied the handkerchief several times round her
neck. Unable to breathe, she fell to the ground in a faint; he then
knelt with one knee on her back, and drew the handkerchief with might
and main. As his feelings were stirred and he was afraid, he did not
leave her time to breathe her last. He took her up in his arms, and
carried her out to a dry well, into which he threw her still
alive. There was no time to lose, for daybreak was at hand. So we
called some men to help us fill up the well.'

Mons. Nicolas, formerly interpreter of the French Legation at Tihran,
to whom we are indebted for this narrative, adds that a pious hand
planted five or six solitary trees to mark the spot where the heroine
gave up this life for a better one. It is doubtful whether the
ruthless modern builder has spared them.

The internal evidence in favour of this story is very strong; there is
a striking verisimilitude about it. The execution of a woman to whom
so much romantic interest attached cannot have been in the royal
square; that would have been to court unpopularity for the
Government. Moreover, there is a want of definite evidence that women
were among the public victims of the 'reign of Terror' which followed
the attempt on the Shah's life (cp. _TN,_ p. 334). That Kurratu'l
'Ayn was put to death is certain, but this can hardly have been in
public. It is true, a European doctor, quoted by Prof. Browne (_TN,_
p. 313), declares that he witnessed the heroic death of the 'beautiful
woman.' He seems to imply that the death was accompanied by slow
tortures. But why does not this doctor give details? Is he not
drawing upon his fancy? Let us not make the persecutors worse than
they were.

Count Gobineau's informant appears to me too imaginative, but I will
give his statements in a somewhat shortened form.

'The beauty, eloquence, and enthusiasm of Kurratu'l 'Ayn exercised a
fascination even upon her gaoler. One morning, returning from the
royal camp, he went into the _enderun,_ and told his prisoner that
he brought her good news. "I know it," she answered gaily; "you need
not be at the pains to tell me." "You cannot possibly know my news,"
said the Kalantar; "it is a request from the Prime Minister. You
will be conducted to Niyavaran, and asked, 'Kurratu'l 'Ayn, are you
a Babi?' You will simply answer, 'No.' You will live alone for
some time, and avoid giving people anything to talk about. The Prime
Minister will keep his own opinion about you, but he will not exact
more of you than this."'

The words of the prophetess came true. She was taken to Niyavaran, and
publicly but gently asked, 'Are you a Babi?' She answered what she
had said that she would answer in such a case. She was taken back to
Tihran. Her martyrdom took place in the citadel. She was placed upon a
heap of that coarse straw which is used to increase the bulk of
woollen and felt carpets. But before setting fire to this, the
executioners stifled her with rags, so that the flames only devoured
her dead body.

An account is also given in the London manuscript of the _New
History_, but as the Mirza suffered in the same persecution as the
heroine, we must suppose that it was inserted by the editor. It is
very short.

'For some while she was in the house of Mahmud Khan, the Kalantar,
where she exhorted and counselled the women of the household, till one
day she went to the bath, whence she returned in white garments,
saying, "To-morrow they will kill me." Next day the executioner came
and took her to the Nigaristan. As she would not suffer them to remove
the veil from her face (though they repeatedly sought to do so) they
applied the bow-string, and thus compassed her martyrdom. Then they
cast her holy body into a well in the garden. [Footnote: _NH_,
pp. 283 _f_.]

My own impression is that a legend early began to gather round the
sacred form of Her Highness the Pure. Retracing his recollections even
Dr. Polak mixes up truth and fiction, and has in his mind's eye
something like the scene conjured up by Count Gobineau in his
description of the persecution of Tihran:--

'On vit s'avancer, entre les bourreaux, des enfants et des femmes, les
chairs ouvertes sur tout le corps, avec des meches allumees
flambantes fichees dans les blessures.'

Looking back on the short career of Kurratu'l 'Ayn, one is chiefly
struck by her fiery enthusiasm and by her absolute unworldliness. This
world was, in fact, to her, as it was said to be to Kuddus, a mere
handful of dust. She was also an eloquent speaker and experienced in
the intricate measures of Persian poetry. One of her few poems which
have thus far been made known is of special interest, because of the
belief which it expresses in the divine-human character of some one
(here called Lord), whose claims, when once adduced, would receive
general recognition. Who was this Personage? It appears that
Kurratu'l 'Ayn thought Him slow in bringing forward these claims. Is
there any one who can be thought of but Baha-'ullah?

The Bahaite tradition confidently answers in the negative.
Baha-'ullah, it declares, exercised great influence on the second
stage of the heroine's development, and Kurratu'l 'Ayn was one of
those who had pressed forward into the innermost sanctum of the
Bab's disclosures. She was aware that 'The Splendour of God' was 'He
whom God would manifest.' The words of the poem, in Prof. Browne's
translation, refer, not to Ezel, but to his brother Baha-'ullah. They
are in _TN_, p. 315.

'Why lags the word, "_Am I not your Lord_"?
"_Yea, that thou art_," let us make reply.'

The poetess was a true Bahaite. More than this; the harvest sown in
Islamic lands by Kurratu'l 'Ayn is now beginning to appear. A letter
addressed to the _Christian Commonwealth_ last June informs us
that forty Turkish suffragettes are being deported from Constantinople
to Akka (so long the prison of Baha-'ullah):

'"During the last few years suffrage ideas have been spreading quietly
behind in the harems. The men were ignorant of it; everybody was
ignorant of it; and now suddenly the floodgate is opened and the men
of Constantinople have thought it necessary to resort to drastic
measures. Suffrage clubs have been organized, intelligent memorials
incorporating the women's demands have been drafted and circulated;
women's journals and magazines have sprung up, publishing excellent
articles; and public meetings were held. Then one day the members of
these clubs--four hundred of them--_cast away their veils._ The
staid, fossilized class of society were shocked, the good Mussulmans
were alarmed, and the Government forced into action. These four
hundred liberty-loving women were divided into several groups. One
group composed of forty have been exiled to Akka, and will arrive in a
few days. Everybody is talking about it, and it is really surprising
to see how numerous are those in favour of removing the veils from the
faces of the women. Many men with whom I have talked think the custom
not only archaic, but thought-stifling. The Turkish authorities,
thinking to extinguish this light of liberty, have greatly added to
its flame, and their high-handed action has materially assisted the
creation of a wider public opinion and a better understanding of this
crucial problem." The other question exercising opinion in Haifa is
the formation of a military and strategic quarter out of Akka, which
in this is resuming its bygone importance. Six regiments of soldiers
are to be quartered there. Many officers have already arrived and are
hunting for houses, and as a result rents are trebled. It is
interesting to reflect, as our Baha correspondent suggests, on the
possible consequence of this projection of militarism into the very
centre fount of the Bahai faith in universal peace.'


According to Count Gobineau, the martyrdom of the Bab at Tabriz was
followed by a Council of the Babi chiefs at Teheran (Tihran). What
authority he has for this statement is unknown, but it is in itself
not improbable. Formerly the members of the Two Unities must have
desired to make their policy as far as possible uniform. We have
already heard of the Council of Badasht (from which, however, the
Bab, or, the Point, was absent); we now have to make room in our
mind for the possibilities of a Council of Tihran. It was an
important occasion of which Gobineau reminds us, well worthy to be
marked by a Council, being nothing less than the decision of the
succession to the Pontificate.

At such a Council who would as a matter of course be present? One may
mention in the first instance Mirza Huseyn 'Ali, titled as
Baha-'ullah, and his half-brother, Mirza Yahya, otherwise known as
Subh-i-Ezel, also Jenab-i-'Azim, Jenab-i-Bazir, Mirza Asadu'llah
[Footnote: Gobineau, however, thinks that Mirza Asadu'llah was not
present at the (assumed) Council.] (Dayyan), Sayyid Yahya (of Darab),
and others similarly honoured by the original Bab. And who were the
candidates for this terribly responsible post? Several may have wished
to be brought forward, but one candidate, according to the scholar
mentioned, overshadowed the rest. This was Mirza Yahya (of Nur),
better known as Subh-i-Ezel.

The claims of this young man were based on a nomination-document now
in the possession of Prof. Browne, and have been supported by a letter
given in a French version by Mons. Nicolas. Forgery, however, has
played such a great part in written documents of the East that I
hesitate to recognize the genuineness of this nomination. And I think
it very improbable that any company of intensely earnest men should
have accepted the document in preference to the evidence of their own
knowledge respecting the inadequate endowments of Subh-i-Ezel.

No doubt the responsibilities of the pontificate would be shared.
There would be a 'Gate' and there would be a 'Point.' The deficiencies
of the 'Gate' might be made good by the 'Point.' Moreover, the
'Letters of the Living' were important personages; their advice could
hardly be rejected. Still the gravity and variety of the duties
devolving upon the 'Gate' and the 'Point' give us an uneasy sense that
Subh-i-Ezel was not adequate to either of these posts, and cannot
have been appointed to either of them by the Council. The probability
is that the arrangement already made was further sanctioned, viz. that
Baha-'ullah was for the present to take the private direction of
affairs and exercise his great gifts as a teacher, while
Subh-i-Ezel (a vain young man) gave his name as ostensible head,
especially with a view to outsiders and to agents of the government.

It may be this to which allusion is made in a tradition preserved by
Behiah Khanum, sister of Abbas Effendi Abdul Baha, that
Subh-i-Ezel claimed to be equal to his half-brother, and that he
rested this claim on a vision. The implication is that Baha-'ullah was
virtually the head of the Babi community, and that Subh-i-Ezel
was wrapt up in dreams, and was really only a figurehead. In fact,
from whatever point of view we compare the brothers (half-brothers),
we are struck by the all-round competence of the elder and the
incompetence of the younger. As leader, as teacher, and as writer he
was alike unsurpassed. It may be mentioned in passing that, not only
the _Hidden Words_ and the _Seven Valleys_, but the fine
though unconvincing apologetic arguments of the _Book of Ighan_
flowed from Baha-'ullah's pen at the Baghdad period. But we must now
make good a great omission. Let us turn back to our hero's origin and

Huseyn 'Ali was half-brother of Yahya, i.e. they had the
same father but different mothers. The former was the elder, being
born in A.D. 1817, whereas the latter only entered on his melancholy
life in A.D. 1830. [Footnote: It is a singular fact that an Ezelite
source claims the name Baha-'ullah for Mirza Yahya. But one can
hardly venture to credit this. See _TN_, p. 373 n. 1.] Both
embraced the Babi faith, and were called respectively Baha-'ullah
(Splendour of God) and Subh-i-Ezel (Dawn of Eternity). Their
father was known as Buzurg (or, Abbas), of the district of Nur in
Mazandaran. The family was distinguished; Mirza Buzurg held a high
post under government.

Like many men of his class, Mirza Huseyn 'Ali had a turn for
mysticism, but combined this--like so many other mystics--with much
practical ability. He became a Babi early in life, and did much to
lay the foundations of the faith both in his native place and in the
capital. His speech was like a 'rushing torrent,' and his clearness in
exposition brought the most learned divines to his feet. Like his
half-brother, he attended the important Council of Badasht, where,
with God's Heroine--Kurratu'l 'Ayn--he defended the cause of
progress and averted a fiasco. The Bab--'an ambassador in bonds'--he
never met, but he corresponded with him, using (as it appears) the
name of his half-brother as a protecting pseudonym. [Footnote:
_TN_, p. 373 n. 1.]

The Bab was 'taken up into heaven' in 1850 upon which (according to
a Tradition which I am compelled to reject) Subh-i-Ezel succeeded
to the Supreme Headship. The appointment would have been very
unsuitable, but the truth is (_pace_ Gobineau) that it was never
made, or rather, God did not will to put such a strain upon our faith.
It was, in fact, too trying a time for any new teacher, and we can now
see the wisdom of Baha-'ullah in waiting for the call of events. The
Babi community was too much divided to yield a new Head a frank
and loyal obedience. Many Babis rose against the government, and
one even made an attempt on the Shah's life. Baha-'ullah (to use the
name given to Huseyn 'Ali of Nur by the Bab) was arrested near
Tihran on a charge of complicity. He was imprisoned for four months,
but finally acquitted and released. No wonder that Baha-'ullah and
his family were anxious to put as large a space as possible between
themselves and Tihran.

Together with several Babi families, and, of course, his own
nearest and dearest, Baha-'ullah set out for Baghdad. It was a
terrible journey in rough mountain country and the travellers suffered
greatly from exposure. On their arrival fresh misery stared the ladies
in the face, unaccustomed as they were to such rough life. They were
aided, however, by the devotion of some of their fellow-believers, who
rendered many voluntary services; indeed, their affectionate zeal
needed to be restrained, as St. Paul doubtless found in like
circumstances. Baha-'ullah himself was intensely, divinely happy, and
the little band of refugees--thirsty for truth--rejoiced in their
untrammelled intercourse with their Teacher. Unfortunately religious
dissensions began to arise. In the Babi colony at Baghdad there
were some who were not thoroughly devoted to Baha-'ullah. The Teacher
was rather too radical, too progressive for them. They had not been
introduced to the simpler and more spiritual form of religion taught
by Baha-'ullah, and probably they had had positive teaching of quite
another order from some one authorized by Subh-i-Ezel.

The strife went on increasing in bitterness, until at length it became
clear that either Baha-'ullah or Subh-i-Ezel must for a time
vanish from the scene. For Subh-i-Ezel (or, for shortness, Ezel)
to disappear would be suicidal; he knew how weak his personal claims
to the pontificate really were. But Baha-'ullah's disappearance would
be in the general interest; it would enable the Babis to realize
how totally dependent they were, in practical matters, on
Baha-'ullah. 'Accordingly, taking a change of clothes, but no money,
and against the entreaties of all the family, he set out. Many months
passed; he did not return, nor had we any word from him or about him.

'There was an old physician at Baghdad who had been called upon to
attend the family, and who had become our friend. He sympathized much
with us, and undertook on his own account to make inquiries for my
father. These inquiries were long without definite result, but at
length a certain traveller to whom he had described my father said
that he had heard of a man answering to that description, evidently of
high rank, but calling himself a dervish, living in caves in the
mountains. He was, he said, reputed to be so wise and wonderful in his
speech on religious things that when people heard him they would
follow him; whereupon, wishing to be alone, he would change his
residence to a cave in some other locality. When we heard these
things, we were convinced that this dervish was in truth our beloved
one. But having no means to send him any word, or to hear further of
him, we were very sad.

'There was also then in Baghdad an earnest Babi, formerly a pupil
of Kurratu'l 'Ayn. This man said to us that as he had no ties and
did not care for his life, he desired no greater happiness than to be
allowed to seek for him all loved so much, and that he would not
return without him. He was, however, very poor, not being able even to
provide an ass for the journey; and he was besides not very strong,
and therefore not able to go on foot. We had no money for the purpose,
nor anything of value by the sale of which money could be procured,
with the exception of a single rug, upon which we all slept. This we
sold and with the proceeds bought an ass for this friend, who
thereupon set out upon the search.

'Time passed; we heard nothing, and fell into the deepest dejection
and despair. Finally, four months having elapsed since our friend had
departed, a message was one day received from him saying that he would
bring my father home on the next day. The absence of my father had
covered a little more than two years. After his return the fame which
he had acquired in the mountains reached Baghdad. His followers became
numerous; many of them even the fierce and untutored Arabs of Irak. He
was visited also by many Babis from Persia.'

This is the account of the sister of our beloved and venerated Abdul
Baha. There are, however, two other accounts which ought to be
mentioned. According to the _Traveller's Narrative_, the refuge
of Baha-'ullah was generally in a place called Sarkalu in the
mountains of Turkish Kurdistan; more seldom he used to stay in
Suleymaniyya, the headquarters of the Sunnites. Before long, however,
'the most eminent doctors of those regions got some inkling of his
circumstances and conditions, and conversed with him on the solution
of certain difficult questions connected with the most abstruse points
of theology. In consequence of this, fragmentary accounts of this were
circulated in all quarters. Several persons therefore hastened
thither, and began to entreat and implore.' [Footnote: _TN_,
pp. 64, 65.]

If this is correct, Baha-'ullah was more widely known in Turkish
Kurdistan than his family was aware, and debated high questions of
theology as frequently as if he were in Baghdad or at the Supreme
Shrine. Nor was it only the old physician and the poor Babi
disciple who were on the track of Baha-'ullah, but 'several
persons'--no doubt persons of weight, who were anxious for a
settlement of the points at issue in the Babi community. A further
contribution is made by the Ezeli historian, who states that
Subh-i-Ezel himself wrote a letter to his brother, inviting him to
return. [Footnote: _TN_, p. 359.] One wishes that letter could
be recovered. It would presumably throw much light on the relations
between the brothers at this critical period.

About 1862 representations were made to the Shah that the Babi
preaching at Baghdad was injurious to the true Faith in Persia. The
Turkish Government, therefore, when approached on the subject by the
Shah, consented to transfer the Babis from Baghdad to Constantinople.
An interval of two weeks was accorded, and before this grace-time was
over a great event happened--his declaration of himself to be the
expected Messiah (Him whom God should manifest). As yet it was only in
the presence of his son (now best known as Abdul Baha) and four other
specially chosen disciples that this momentous declaration was
made. There were reasons why Baha-'ullah should no longer keep his
knowledge of the will of God entirely secret, and also reasons why he
should not make the declaration absolutely public.

The caravan took four months to reach Constantinople. At this capital
of the Muhammadan world their stay was brief, as they were 'packed
off' the same year to Adrianople. Again they suffered greatly. But who
would find fault with the Great Compassion for arranging it so? And
who would deny that there are more important events at this period
which claim our interest? These are (1) the repeated attempts on the
life of Baha-'ullah (or, as the Ezelis say, of Subh-i-Ezel) by the
machinations of Subh-i-Ezel (or, as the Ezelis say, of Baha-'ullah),
and (2) the public declaration on the part of Baha-'ullah that he, and
no one else, was the Promised Manifestation of Deity.

There is some obscurity in the chronological relation of these events,
i.e. as to whether the public declaration of Baha-'ullah was in
definite opposition, not only to the claims of Subh-i-Ezel, but to
those of Zabih, related by Mirza Jani, [Footnote: See _NH_, pp. 385,
394; _TN_, p. 357. The Ezelite historian includes Dayyan (see above).]
and of others, or whether the reverse is the case. At any rate
Baha-'ullah believed that his brother was an assassin and a liar. This
is what he says,--'Neither was the belly of the glutton sated till
that he desired to eat my flesh and drink my blood.... And herein he
took counsel with one of my attendants, tempting him unto this.... But
he, when he became aware that the matter had become publicly known,
took the pen of falsehood, and wrote unto the people, and attributed
all that he had done to my peerless and wronged Beauty.' [Footnote:
_TN_, pp. 368, 369.]

These words are either a meaningless extravagance, or they are a
deliberate assertion that Subh-i-Ezel had sought to destroy his
brother, and had then circulated a written declaration that it was
Baha-'ullah who had sought to destroy Subh-i-Ezel. It is, I fear,
certain that Baha-'ullah is correct, and that Subh-i-Ezel did
attempt to poison his brother, who was desperately ill for twenty-two

Another attempt on the life of the much-loved Master was prevented, it
is said, by the faithfulness of the bath-servant. 'One day while in
the bath Subh-i-Ezel remarked to the servant (who was a believer) that
the Blessed Perfection had enemies and that in the bath he was much
exposed.... Subh-i-Ezel then asked him whether, if God should lay upon
him the command to do this, he would obey it. The servant understood
this question, coming from Subh-i-Ezel, to be a suggestion of such a
command, and was so petrified by it that he rushed screaming from the
room. He first met Abbas Effendi and reported to him Subh-i-Ezel's
words.... Abbas Effendi, accordingly, accompanied him to my father,
who listened to his story and then enjoined absolute silence upon
him.' [Footnote: Phelps, pp. 38, 39.]

Such is the story as given by one who from her youthful age is likely
to have remembered with precision. She adds that the occurrence 'was
ignored by my father and brother,' and that 'our relations with
Subh-i-Ezel continued to be cordial.' How extremely fine this is!
It may remind us of 'Father, forgive them,' and seems to justify the
title given to Baha-'ullah by his followers, 'Blessed Perfection.'

The Ezelite historian, however, gives a different version of the
story. [Footnote: _TN_, pp. 359, 360.] According to him, it was
Subh-i-Ezel whose life was threatened. 'It was arranged that
Muhammad Ali the barber should cut his throat while shaving him in
the bath. On the approach of the barber, however, Subh-i-Ezel
divined his design, refused to allow him to come near, and, on leaving
the bath, instantly took another lodging in Adrianople, and separated
himself from Mirza Huseyn 'Ali and his followers.'

Evidently there was great animosity between the parties, but, in spite
of the _Eight Paradises_, it appears to me that the Ezelites were
chiefly in fault. Who can believe that Baha-'ullah spread abroad his
brother's offences? [Footnote: _Ibid_.] On the other hand,
Subh-i-Ezel and his advisers were capable of almost anything from
poisoning and assassination to the forging of spurious letters. I do
not mean to say that they were by any means the first persons in
Persian history to venture on these abnormal actions.

It is again Subh-i-Ezel who is responsible for the disturbance of
the community.

It was represented--no doubt by this bitter foe--to the Turkish
Government that Baha-'ullah and his followers were plotting against
the existing order of things, and that when their efforts had been
crowned with success, Baha-'ullah would be designated king.
[Footnote: For another form of the story, see Phelps, _Abbas Effendi_,
p. 46.] This may really have been a dream of the Ezelites (we must
substitute Subh-i-Ezel for Baha-'ullah); the Bahaites were of course
horrified at the idea. But how should the Sultan discriminate? So the
punishment fell on the innocent as well as the guilty, on the Bahaites
as well as the Ezelites.

The punishment was the removal of Baha-'ullah and his party and
Subh-i-Ezel and his handful of followers, the former to Akka
(Acre) on the coast of Syria, the latter to Famagusta in Cyprus. The
Bahaites were put on board ship at Gallipoli. A full account is given
by Abbas Effendi's sister of the preceding events. It gives one a most
touching idea of the deep devotion attracted by the magnetic
personalities of the Leader and his son.

I have used the expression 'Leader,' but in the course of his stay at
Adrianople Baha-'ullah had risen to a much higher rank than that of
'Leader.' We have seen that at an earlier period of his exile
Baha-'ullah had made known to five of his disciples that he was in
very deed the personage whom the Bab had enigmatically promised. At
that time, however, Baha-'ullah had pledged those five disciples to
secrecy. But now the reasons for concealment did not exist, and
Baha-'ullah saw (in 1863) that the time had come for a public
declaration. This is what is stated by Abbas Effendi's sister:--
[Footnote: Phelps, pp. 44-46.]

'He then wrote a tablet, longer than any he had before written,
[which] he directed to be read to every Babi, but first of all to
Subh-i-Ezel. He assigned to one of his followers the duty of
taking it to Subh-i-Ezel, reading it to him, and returning with
Subh-i-Ezel's reply. When Subh-i-Ezel had heard the tablet he
did not attempt to refute it; on the contrary he accepted it, and said
that it was true. But he went on to maintain that he himself was
co-equal with the Blessed Perfection, [Footnote: See p. 128.]
affirming that he had a vision on the previous night in which he had
received this assurance.

'When this statement of Subh-i-Ezel was reported to the Blessed
Perfection, the latter directed that every Babi should be informed
of it at the time when he heard his own tablet read. This was done,
and much uncertainty resulted among the believers. They generally
applied to the Blessed Perfection for advice, which, however, he
declined to give. At length he told them that he would seclude himself
from them for four months, and that during this time they must decide
the question for themselves. At the end of that period, all the
Babis in Adrianople, with the exception of Subh-i-Ezel and
five or six others, came to the Blessed Perfection and declared that
they accepted him as the Divine Manifestation whose coming the Bab
had foretold. The Babis of Persia, Syria, Egypt, and other
countries also in due time accepted the Blessed Perfection with
substantial unanimity.

Baha-'ullah, then, landed in Syria not merely as the leader of the
greater part of the Babis at Baghdad, but as the representative of
a wellnigh perfect humanity. He did not indeed assume the title 'The
Point,' but 'The Point' and 'Perfection' are equivalent terms. He was,
indeed, 'Fairer than the sons of men,' [Footnote: Ps. xlv. 2.] and no
sorrow was spared to him that belonged to what the Jews and Jewish
Christians called 'the pangs of the Messiah.' It is true, crucifixion
does not appear among Baha-'ullah's pains, but he was at any rate
within an ace of martyrdom. This is what Baha-'ullah wrote at the end
of his stay at Adrianople:--[Footnote: Browne, _A Year among the
Persians_, p. 518.]

'By God, my head longeth for the spears for the love of its Lord, and
I never pass by a tree but my heart addresseth it [saying], 'Oh would
that thou wert cut down in my name, and my body were _crucified_
upon thee in the way of my Lord!'

The sorrows of his later years were largely connected with the
confinement of the Bahaites at Acre (Akka). From the same source I
quote the following.

'We are about to shift from this most remote place of banishment
(Adrianople) unto the prison of Acre. And, according to what they say,
it is assuredly the most desolate of the cities of the world, the most
unsightly of them in appearance, the most detestable in climate, and
the foulest in water.'

It is true, the sanitary condition of the city improved, so that
Bahaites from all parts visited Akka as a holy city. Similar
associations belong to Haifa, so long the residence of the saintly
son of a saintly father.

If there has been any prophet in recent times, it is to Baha-'ullah
that we must go. Pretenders like Subh-i-Ezel and Muhammad are
quickly unmasked. Character is the final judge. Baha-'ullah was a man
of the highest class--that of prophets. But he was free from the last
infirmity of noble minds, and would certainly not have separated
himself from others. He would have understood the saying, 'Would God
all the Lord's people were prophets.' What he does say, however, is
just as fine, 'I do not desire lordship over others; I desire all men
to be even as I am.'

He spent his later years in delivering his message, and setting forth
the ideals and laws of the New Jerusalem. In 1892 he passed within the




'He is a scion of one of the noble families of Persia. His father was
accomplished, wealthy, and much respected, and enjoyed the high
consideration of the King and nobles of Persia. His mother died when
he was a child. His father thereupon entrusted him to the keeping of
his honourable spouse, [Footnote: _NH_, pp. 374 _ff_.] saying, "Do
you take care of this child, and see that your handmaids attend to him
properly."' This 'honourable spouse' is, in the context, called 'the
concubine'--apparently a second wife is meant. At any rate her son was
no less honoured than if he had been the son of the chief or favourite
wife; he was named Huseyn 'Ali, and his young half-brother was named

According to Mirza Jani, the account which the history contains was
given him by Mirza Huseyn 'Ali's half-brother, who represents that
the later kindness of his own mother to the young child Yahya was
owing to a prophetic dream which she had, and in which the Apostle of
God and the King of Saintship figured as the child's protectors.
Evidently this part of the narrative is imaginative, and possibly it
is the work of Mirza Jani. But there is no reason to doubt that what
follows is based more or less on facts derived from Mirza Huseyn
'Ali. 'I busied myself,' says the latter, 'with the instruction of
[Yahya]. The signs of his natural excellence and goodness of
disposition were apparent in the mirror of his being. He ever loved
gravity of demeanour, silence, courtesy, and modesty, avoiding the
society of other children and their behaviour. I did not, however,
know that he would become the possessor of [so high] a station. He
studied Persian, but made little progress in Arabic. He wrote a good
_nasta'lik_ hand, and was very fond of the poems of the mystics.'
The facts may be decked out.

Mirza Jani himself only met Mirza Yahya once. He describes him as
'an amiable child.' [Footnote: _NH_, p. 376.] Certainly, we can
easily suppose that he retained a childlike appearance longer than
most, for he early became a mystic, and a mystic is one whose
countenance is radiant with joy. This, indeed, may be the reason why
they conferred on him the name, 'Dawn of Eternity.' He never saw the
Bab, but when his 'honoured brother' would read the Master's
writings in a circle of friends, Mirza Yahya used to listen, and
conceived a fervent love for the inspired author. At the time of the
Manifestation of the Bab he was only fourteen, but very soon after,
he, like his brother, took the momentous step of becoming a Babi,
and resolved to obey the order of the Bab for his followers to
proceed to Khurasan. So, 'having made for himself a knapsack, and got
together a few necessaries,' he set out as an evangelist, 'with
perfect trust in his Beloved,' somewhat as S. Teresa started from her
home at Avila to evangelize the Moors. 'But when his brother was
informed of this, he sent and prevented him.' [Footnote: _NH_,
p. 44.]

Compensation, however, was not denied him. Some time after, Yahya
made an expedition in company with some of his relations, making
congenial friends, and helping to strengthen the Babi cause. He
was now not far off the turning-point in his life.

Not long after occurred a lamentable set-back to the cause--the
persecution and massacre which followed the attempt on the Shah's life
by an unruly Babi in August 1852. He himself was in great danger,
but felt no call to martyrdom, and set out in the disguise of a
dervish [Footnote: _TN_, p. 374.] in the same direction as his
elder brother, reaching Baghdad somewhat later. There, among the
Babi refugees, he found new and old friends who adhered closely to
the original type of theosophic doctrine; an increasing majority,
however, were fascinated by a much more progressive teacher. The
Ezelite history known as _Hasht Bihisht_ ('Eight Paradises')
gives the names of the chief members of the former school, [Footnote:
_TN_, p. 356.] including Sayyid Muhammad of Isfahan, and
states that, perceiving Mirza Huseyn 'Ali's innovating tendencies,
they addressed to him a vigorous remonstrance.

It was, in fact, an ecclesiastical crisis, as the authors of the
_Traveller's Narrative_, as well as the Ezelite historian,
distinctly recognize. Baha-'ullah, too,--to give him his nobler
name--endorses this view when he says, 'Then, in secret, the Sayyid of
Isfahan circumvented him, and together they did that which caused a
great calamity.' It was, therefore, indeed a crisis, and the chief
blame is laid on Sayyid Muhammad. [Footnote: _TN_, p. 94. 'He
(i.e. Sayyid Muhammad) commenced a secret intrigue, and fell
to tempting Mirza Yahya, saying, "The fame of this sect hath risen
high in the world; neither dread nor danger remaineth, nor is there
any fear or need for caution before you."'] Subh-i-Ezel is still
a mere youth and easily imposed upon; the Sayyid ought to have known
better than to tempt him, for a stronger teacher was needed in this
period of disorganization than the Ezelites could produce. Mirza
Yahya was not up to the leadership, nor was he entitled to place
himself above his much older brother, especially when he was bound by
the tie of gratitude. 'Remember,' says Baha-'ullah, 'the favour of thy
master, when we brought thee up during the nights and days for the
service of the Religion. Fear God, and be of those who repent. Grant
that thine affair is dubious unto me; is it dubious unto thyself?' How
gentle is this fraternal reproof!

There is but little more to relate that has not been already told in
the sketch of Baha-'ullah. He was, at any rate, harmless in Cyprus,
and had no further opportunity for religious assassination. One
cannot help regretting that his sun went down so stormily. I return
therefore to the question of the honorific names of Mirza Yahya,
after which I shall refer to the singular point of the crystal coffin
and to the moral character of Subh-i-Ezel.

Among the names and titles which the Ezelite book called _Eight
Paradises_ declares to have been conferred by the Bab on his
young disciple are Subh-i-Ezel (or Azal), Baha-'ullah, and the
strange title _Mir'at_ (Mirror). The two former--'Dawn of
Eternity' and 'Splendour of God'--are referred to elsewhere. The third
properly belongs to a class of persons inferior to the 'Letters of the
Living,' and to this class Subh-i-Ezel, by his own admission,
belongs. The title Mir'at, therefore, involves some limitation of
Ezel's dignity, and its object apparently is to prevent
Subh-i-Ezel from claiming to be 'He whom God will make manifest.'
That is, the Bab in his last years had an intuition that the eternal
day would not be ushered into existence by this impractical nature.

How, then, came the Bab to give Mirza Yahya such a name? Purely
from cabbalistic reasons which do not concern us here. It was a
mistake which only shows that the Bab was not infallible. Mirza
Yahya had no great part to play in the ushering-in of the new
cycle. Elsewhere the Bab is at the pains to recommend the elder of
the half-brothers to attend to his junior's writing and spelling.
[Footnote: The Tablets (letters) are in the British Museum collection,
in four books of Ezel, who wrote the copies at Baha-'ullah's
dictation. The references are--I., No. 6251, p. 162; II., No. 5111,
p. 253, to which copy Rizwan Ali, son of Ezel, has appended 'The
brother of the Fruit' (Ezel); III., No. 6254, p. 236; IV., No. 6257,
p. 158.] Now it was, of course, worth while to educate Mirza Yahya,
whose feebleness in Arabic grammar was scandalous, but can we imagine
Baha-'ullah and all the other 'letters' being passed over by the Bab
in favour of such an imperfectly educated young man? The so-called
'nomination' is a bare-faced forgery.

The statement of Gobineau that Subh-i-Ezel belonged to the
'Letters of the Living' of the First Unity is untrustworthy.
[Footnote: _Fils du Loup_, p. 156 n.3.] M. Hippolyte Dreyfus has
favoured me with a reliable list of the members of the First Unity,
which I have given elsewhere, and which does not contain the name of
Mirza Yahya. At the same time, the Bab may have admitted him into
the second hierarchy of 18[19]. [Footnote: _Fils du Loup_,
p. 163 n.1. 'The eighteen Letters of Life had each a _mirror_
which represented it, and which was called upon to replace it if it
disappeared. There are, therefore, 18 Letters of Life and 18 Mirrors,
which constituted two distinct Unities.'] Considering that Mirza
Yahya was regarded as a 'return' of Kuddus, some preferment may
conceivably have found its way to him. It was no contemptible
distinction to be a member of the Second Unity, i.e. to be one
of those who reflected the excellences of the older 'Letters of the
Living.' As a member of the Second Unity and the accepted reflexion
of Kuddus, Subh-i-Ezel may have been thought of as a director of
affairs together with the obviously marked-out agent (_wali_),
Baha-'ullah. We are not told, however, that Mirza Yahya assumed
either the title of Bab (Gate) or that of Nukta (Point).
[Footnote: Others, however, give it him (_TN_, p. 353).]

I must confess that Subh-i-Ezel's account of the fortune of the
Bab's relics appears to me, as well as to M. Nicolas, [Footnote:
_AMB_, p. 380 n.] unsatisfactory and (in one point) contradictory.
How, for instance, did he get possession of the relics? And, is there
any independent evidence for the intermingling of the parts of the two
corpses? How did he procure a crystal coffin to receive the relics?
How comes it that there were Bahaites at the time of the Bab's
death, and how was Subh-i-Ezel able to conceal the crystal coffin,
etc., from his brother Baha-'ullah?

Evidently Subh-i-Ezel has changed greatly since the time when both
the brothers (half-brothers) were devoted, heart and soul, to the
service of the Bab. It is this moral transformation which vitiates
Subh-i-Ezel's assertions. Can any one doubt this? Surely the best
authorities are agreed that the sense of historical truth is very
deficient among the Persians. Now Subh-i-Ezel was in some respects
a typical Persian; that is how I would explain his deviations from
strict truth. It may be added that the detail of the crystal coffin
can be accounted for. In the Arabic Bayan, among other injunctions
concerning the dead, [Footnote: _Le Beyan Arabi_ (Nicolas),
p. 252; similarly, p. 54.] it is said: 'As for your dead, inter them
in crystal, or in cut and polished stones. It is possible that this
may become a peace for your heart.' This precept suggested to
Subh-i-Ezel his extraordinary statement.

Subh-i-Ezel had an imaginative and possibly a partly mystic
nature. As a Manifestation of God he may have thought himself entitled
to remove harmful people, even his own brother. He did not ask himself
whether he might not be in error in attaching such importance to his
own personality, and whether any vision could override plain
morality. He _was_ mistaken, and I hold that the Bab was
mistaken in appointing (if he really did so) Subh-i-Ezel as a
nominal head of the Babis when the true, although temporary
vice-gerent was Baha-'ullah. For Subh-i-Ezel was a consummate
failure; it is too plain that the Bab did not always, like Jesus and
like the Buddha, know what was in man.


The historical work of the Ezelite party, called _The Eight
Paradises_, makes Ezel nineteen years of age when he came forward
as an expounder of religious mysteries and wrote letters to the Bab.
On receiving the first letter, we are told that the Bab (or, as we
should rather now call him, the Point) instantly prostrated himself in
thankfulness, testifying that he was a mighty Luminary, and spoke by
the Self-shining Light, by revelation. Imprisoned as he was at Maku,
the Point of Knowledge could not take counsel with all his
fellow-workers or disciples, but he sent the writings of this
brilliant novice (if he really was so brilliant) to each of the
'Letters of the Living,' and to the chief believers, at the same time
conferring on him a number of titles, including Subh-i-Ezel ('Dawn
of Eternity') and Baha-'ullah ('Splendour of God ').

If this statement be correct, we may plausibly hold with Professor
E. G. Browne that Subh-i-Ezel (Mirza Yahya) was advanced to the
rank of a 'Letter of the Living,' and even that he was nominated by
the Point as his successor. It has also become much more credible that
the thoughts of the Point were so much centred on Subh-i-Ezel
that, as Ezelites say, twenty thousand of the words of the Bayan refer
to Ezel, and that a number of precious relics of the Point were
entrusted to his would-be successor.

But how can we venture to say that it is correct? Since Professor
Browne wrote, much work has been done on the (real or supposed)
written remains of Subh-i-Ezel, and the result has been (I think)
that the literary reputation of Subh-i-Ezel is a mere bubble. It
is true, the Bab himself was not masterly, but the confusion of
ideas and language in Ezel's literary records beggars all
comparison. A friend of mine confirms this view which I had already
derived from Mirza Ali Akbar. He tells me that he has acquired a
number of letters mostly purporting to be by Subh-i-Ezel. There is
also, however, a letter of Baha-'ullah relative to these letters,
addressed to the Muhammadan mulla, the original possessor of the
letters. In this letter Baha-'ullah repeats again and again the
warning: 'When you consider and reflect on these letters, you will
understand who is in truth the writer.'

I greatly fear that Lord Curzon's description of Persian
untruthfulness may be illustrated by the career of the Great
Pretender. The Ezelites must, of course, share the blame with their
leader, and not the least of their disgraceful misstatements is the
assertion that the Bab assigned the name Baha-'ullah to the younger
of the two half-brothers, and that Ezel had also the [non-existent]
dignity of 'Second Point.'

This being so, I am strongly of opinion that so far from confirming
the Ezelite view of subsequent events, the Ezelite account of
Subh-i-Ezel's first appearance appreciably weakens it. Something,
however, we may admit as not improbable. It may well have gratified
the Bab that two representatives of an important family in
Mazandaran had taken up his cause, and the character of these new
adherents may have been more congenial to him than the more martial
character of Kuddus.


We have already been introduced to a prominent Babi, variously
called Asadu'llah and Dayyan; he was also a member of the hierarchy
called 'the Letters of the Living.' He may have been a man of
capacity, but I must confess that the event to which his name is
specially attached indisposes me to admit that he took part in the
so-called 'Council of Tihran.' To me he appears to have been one of
those Babis who, even in critical periods, acted without
consultation with others, and who imagined that they were absolutely
infallible. Certainly he could never have promoted the claims of
Subh-i-Ezel, whose defects he had learned from that personage's
secretary. He was well aware that Ezel was ambitious, and he thought
that he had a better claim to the supremacy himself.

It would have been wiser, however, to have consulted Baha-'ullah, and
to have remembered the prophecy of the Bab, in which it was
expressly foretold that Dayyan would believe on 'Him whom God would
make manifest.' Subh-i-Ezel was not slow to detect the weak point
in Dayyan's position, who could not be at once the Expected One and a
believer in the Expected One. [Footnote: See Ezel's own words in
_Mustaikaz_, p. 6.] Dayyan, however, made up as well as he could
for his inconsistency. He went at last to Baha-'ullah, and discussed
the matter in all its bearings with him. The result was that with
great public spirit he retired in favour of Baha.

The news was soon spread abroad; it was not helpful to the cause of
Ezel. Some of the Ezelites, who had read the Christian Gospels
(translated by Henry Martyn), surnamed Dayyan 'the Judas Iscariot of
this people.' [Footnote: _TN_, p. 357.] Others, instigated
probably by their leaders, thought it best to nip the flower in the
bud. So by Ezelite hands Dayyan was foully slain.

It was on this occasion that Ezel vented curses and abusive language
on his rival. The proof is only too cogent, though the two books which
contain it are not as yet printed. [Footnote: They are both in the
British Museum, and are called respectively _Mustaikaz_
(No. 6256) and _Asar-el-Ghulam_ (No. 6256). I am indebted for
facts (partly) and references to MSS. to my friend Mirza 'Ali Akbar.]


A delightful Bahai disciple--the _Fra Angelico_ of the brethren,
as we may call him,--Mirza Haydar 'Ali was especially interesting to
younger visitors to Abdul Baha. One of them writes thus: 'He was a
venerable, smiling old man, with long Persian robes and a spotlessly
white turban. As we had travelled along, the Persian ladies had
laughingly spoken of a beautiful young man, who, they were sure, would
captivate me. They would make a match between us, they said.

'This now proved to be the aged Mirza, whose kindly, humorous old eyes
twinkled merrily as he heard what they had prophesied, and joined in
their laughter. They did not cover before him. Afterwards the ladies
told me something of his history. He was imprisoned for fourteen years
during the time of the persecution. At one time, when he was being
transferred from one prison to another, many days' journey away, he
and his fellow-prisoner, another Bahai, were carried on donkeys, head
downwards, with their feet and hands secured. Haydar 'Ali laughed and
sang gaily. So they beat him unmercifully, and said, "Now, will you
sing?" But he answered them that he was more glad than before, since
he had been given the pleasure of enduring something for the sake of

'He never married, and in Akka was one of the most constant and loved
companions of Baha-'ullah. I remarked upon his cheerful appearance,
and added, "But all you Bahais look happy." Mirza Haydar 'Ali said:
"Sometimes we have surface troubles, but that cannot touch our
happiness. The heart of those who belong to the Malekoot (Kingdom of
God) is like the sea: when the wind is rough it troubles the surface
of the water, but two metres down there is perfect calm and

The preceding passage is by Miss E. S. Stevens (_Fortnightly
Review_, June 1911). A friend, who has also been a guest in Abdul
Baha's house, tells me that Haydar 'Ali is known at Akka as 'the


The eldest son of Baha-'ullah is our dear and venerated Abdul Baha
('Servant of the Splendour'), otherwise known as Abbas Effendi. He
was born at the midnight following the day on which the Bab made his
declaration. He was therefore eight years old, and the sister who
writes her recollections five, when, in August 1852, an attempt was
made on the life of the Shah by a young Babi, disaffected to the
ruling dynasty. The future Abdul Baha was already conspicuous for his
fearlessness and for his passionate devotion to his father. The
_gamins_ of Tihran (Teheran) might visit him as he paced to and fro,
waiting for news from his father, but he did not mind--not he. One day
his sister--a mere child--was returning home under her mother's care,
and found him surrounded by a band of boys. 'He was standing in their
midst as straight as an arrow--a little fellow, the youngest and
smallest of the group--firmly but quietly _commanding_ them not to lay
their hands upon him, which, strange to say, they seemed unable to
do.' [Footnote: Phelps, pp. 14, 15.]

This love to his father was strikingly shown during the absence of
Baha-'ullah in the mountains, when this affectionate youth fell a prey
to inconsolable paroxysms of grief. [Footnote: Ibid. p. 20.] At a
later time--on the journey from Baghdad to Constantinople--Abdul Baha
seemed to constitute himself the special attendant of his father. 'In
order to get a little rest, he adopted the plan of riding swiftly a
considerable distance ahead of the caravan, when, dismounting and
causing his horse to lie down, he would throw himself on the ground
and place his head on his horse's neck. So he would sleep until the
cavalcade came up, when his horse would awake him by a kick, and he
would remount.' [Footnote: Phelps, pp. 31, 32.]

In fact, in his youth he was fond of riding, and there was a time when
he thought that he would like hunting, but 'when I saw them killing
birds and animals, I thought that this could not be right. Then it
occurred to me that better than hunting for animals, to kill them, was
hunting for the souls of men to bring them to God. I then resolved
that I would be a hunter of this sort. This was my first and last
experience in the chase.'

'A seeker of the souls of men.' This is, indeed, a good description of
both father and son. Neither the one nor the other had much of what
we call technical education, but both understood how to cast a spell
on the soul, awakening its dormant powers. Abdul Baha had the courage
to frequent the mosques and argue with the mullas; he used to be
called 'the Master' _par excellence_, and the governor of Adrianople
became his friend, and proved his friendship in the difficult
negotiations connected with the removal of the Bahaites to Akka.
[Footnote: Ibid. p. 20, n.2.]

But no one was such a friend to the unfortunate Bahaites as Abdul
Baha. The conditions under which they lived on their arrival at Akka
were so unsanitary that 'every one in our company fell sick excepting
my brother, my mother, an aunt, and two others of the believers.'
[Footnote: Phelps, pp. 47-51.] Happily Abdul Baha had in his baggage
some quinine and bismuth. With these drugs, and his tireless nursing,
he brought the rest through, but then collapsed himself. He was seized
with dysentery, and was long in great danger. But even in this
prison-city he was to find a friend. A Turkish officer had been struck
by his unselfish conduct, and when he saw Abdul Baha brought so low he
pleaded with the governor that a _hakim_ might be called in. This
was permitted with the happiest result.

It was now the physician's turn. In visiting his patient he became so
fond of him that he asked if there was nothing else he could do.
Abdul Baha begged him to take a tablet (i.e. letter) to the Persian
believers. Thus for two years an intercourse with the friends outside
was maintained; the physician prudently concealed the tablets in the
lining of his hat!

It ought to be mentioned here that the hardships of the prison-city
were mitigated later. During the years 1895-1900 he was often allowed
to visit Haifa. Observing this the American friends built Baha-'ullah
a house in Haifa, and this led to a hardening of the conditions of his
life. But upon the whole we may apply to him those ancient words:

'He maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.'

In 1914 Abdul Baha visited Akka, living in the house of Baha-'ullah,
near where his father was brought with wife and children and seventy
Persian exiles forty-six years ago. But his permanent home is in
Haifa, a very simple home where, however, the call for hospitality
never passes unheeded. 'From sunrise often till midnight he works, in
spite of broken health, never sparing himself if there is a wrong to
be righted, or a suffering to be relieved. His is indeed a selfless
life, and to have passed beneath its shadow is to have been won for
ever to the Cause of Peace and Love.'

Since 1908 Abdul Baha has been free to travel; the political victory
of the Young Turks opened the doors of Akka, as well as of other
political 'houses of restraint.' America, England, France, and even
Germany have shared the benefit of his presence. It may be that he
spoke too much; it may be that even in England his most important work
was done in personal interviews. Educationally valuable, therefore,
as _Some Answered Questions_ (1908) may be, we cannot attach so much
importance to it as to the story--the true story--of the converted
Muhammadan. When at home, Abdul Baha only discusses Western
problems with visitors from the West.

The Legacy left by Baha-'ullah to his son was, it must be admitted, an
onerous educational duty. It was contested by Muhammad Effendi--by
means which remind us unpleasantly of Subh-i-Ezel, but unsuccessfully.
Undeniably Baha-'ullah conferred on Abbas Effendi (Abdul Baha) the
title of Centre of the Covenant, with the special duty annexed of the
'Expounder of the Book.' I venture to hope that this 'expounding' may
not, in the future, extend to philosophic, philological, scientific,
and exegetical details. Just as Jesus made mistakes about Moses and
David, so may Baha-'ullah and Abdul Baha fall into error on secular
problems, among which it is obvious to include Biblical and Kuranic

It appears to me that the essence of Bahaism is not dogma, but the
unification of peoples and religions in a certain high-minded and far
from unpractical mysticism. I think that Abdul Baha is just as much
devoted to mystic and yet practical religion as his father. In one of
the reports of his talks or monologues he is introduced as saying:

'A moth loves the light though his wings are burnt. Though his wings
are singed, he throws himself against the flame. He does not love the
light because it has conferred some benefits upon him. Therefore he
hovers round the light, though he sacrifice his wings. This is the
highest degree of love. Without this abandonment, this ecstasy, love
is imperfect. The Lover of God loves Him for Himself, not for his own
sake.'--From 'Abbas Effendi,' by E. S. Stevens, _Fortnightly
Review_, June 1911, p. 1067.

This is, surely, the essence of mysticism. As a characteristic of the
Church of 'the Abha' it goes back, as we have seen, to the Bab. As a
characteristic of the Brotherhood of the 'New Dispensation' it is
plainly set forth by Keshab Chandra Sen. It is also Christian, and
goes back to Paul and John. This is the hidden wisdom--the pearl of
great price.




After the loss of his father the greatest trouble which befell the
authorized successor was the attempt made independently by
Subh-i-Ezel and the half-brother of Abdul Baha, Mirza Muhammad
'Ali, to produce a schism in the community at Akka. Some little
success was obtained by the latter, who did not shrink from the
manipulation of written documents. Badi-'ullah, another half-brother,
was for a time seduced by these dishonest proceedings, but has since
made a full confession of his error (see _Star of the West_).

It is indeed difficult to imagine how an intimate of the saintly Abdul
Baha can have 'lifted up his foot' against him, the more so as Abdul
Baha would never defend himself, but walked straight forward on the
appointed path. That path must have differed somewhat as the years
advanced. His public addresses prove that through this or that
channel he had imbibed something of humanistic and even scientific
culture; he was a much more complete man than St. Francis of Assisi,
who despised human knowledge. It is true he interpreted any facts
which he gathered in the light of revealed religious truth. But he
distinctly recognized the right of scientific research, and must have
had some one to guide him in the tracks of modern inquiry.

The death of his father must have made a great difference to him In
the disposal of his time. It is to this second period in his life
that Mr. Phelps refers when he makes this statement:

'His general order for the day is prayers and tea at sunrise, and
dictating letters or "tablets," receiving visitors, and giving alms to
the poor until dinner in the middle of the day. After this meal he
takes a half-hour's siesta, spends the afternoon in making visits to
the sick and others whom he has occasion to see about the city, and
the evening in talking to the believers or in expounding, to any who
wish to hear him, the Kuran, on which, even among Muslims, he is
reputed to be one of the highest authorities, learned men of that
faith frequently coming from great distances to consult him with
regard to its interpretation.

'He then returns to his house and works until about one o'clock over
his correspondence. This is enormous, and would more than occupy his
entire time, did he read and reply to all his letters personally. As
he finds it impossible to do this, but is nevertheless determined that
they shall all receive careful and impartial attention, he has
recourse to the assistance of his daughter Ruha, upon whose
intelligence and conscientious devotion to the work he can rely.
During the day she reads and makes digests of letters received, which
she submits to him at night.'

In his charities he is absolutely impartial; his love is like the
divine love--it knows no bounds of nation or creed. Most of those who
benefit by his presence are of course Muslims; many true stories are
current among his family and intimate friends respecting them. Thus,
there is the story of the Afghan who for twenty-four years received
the bounty of the good Master, and greeted him with abusive
speeches. In the twenty-fifth year, however, his obstinacy broke.

Many American and English guests have been entertained in the Master's
house. Sometimes even he has devoted a part of his scanty leisure to
instructing them. We must remember, however, that of Bahaism as well
as of true Christianity it may be said that it is not a dogmatic
system, but a life. No one, so far as my observation reaches, has
lived the perfect life like Abdul Baha, and he tells us himself that
he is but the reflexion of Baha-'ullah. We need not, therefore,
trouble ourselves unduly about the opinions of God's heroes; both
father and son in the present case have consistently discouraged
metaphysics and theosophy, except (I presume) for such persons as have
had an innate turn for this subject.

Once more, the love of God and the love of humanity--which Abdul Baha
boldly says is the love of God--is the only thing that greatly
matters. And if he favours either half of humanity in preference to
the other, it is women folk. He has a great repugnance to the
institution of polygamy, and has persistently refused to take a second
wife himself, though he has only daughters. Baha-'ullah, as we have
seen, acted differently; apparently he did not consider that the
Islamic peoples were quite ripe for monogamy. But surely he did not
choose the better part, as the history of Bahaism sufficiently
shows. At any rate, the Centre of the Covenant has now spoken with no
uncertain sound.

As we have seen, the two schismatic enterprises affected the sensitive
nature of the true Centre of the Covenant most painfully; one thinks
of a well-known passage in a Hebrew psalm. But he was more than
compensated by several most encouraging events. The first was the
larger scale on which accessions took place to the body of believers;
from England to the United States, from India to California, in
surprising numbers, streams of enthusiastic adherents poured in. It
was, however, for Russia that the high honour was reserved of the
erection of the first Bahai temple. To this the Russian Government was
entirely favourable, because the Bahais were strictly forbidden by
Baha-'ullah and by Abdul Baha to take part in any revolutionary
enterprises. The temple took some years to build, but was finished at
last, and two Persian workmen deserve the chief praise for willing
self-sacrifice in the building. The example thus set will soon be
followed by our kinsfolk in the United States. A large and beautiful
site on the shores of Lake Michigan has been acquired, and the
construction will speedily be proceeded with.

It is, in fact, the outward sign of a new era. If Baha-'ullah be our
guide, all religions are essentially one and the same, and all human
societies are linked By a covenant of brotherhood. Of this the Bahai
temples--be they few, or be they many--are the symbols. No wonder that
Abdul Baha is encouraged and consoled thereby. And yet I, as a member
of a great world-wide historic church, cannot help feeling that our
(mostly) ancient and beautiful abbeys and cathedrals are finer symbols
of union in God than any which our modern builders can provide. Our
London people, without distinction of sect, find a spiritual home in
St. Paul's Cathedral, though this is no part of our ancient

Another comfort was the creation of a mausoleum (on the site of
Mt. Carmel above Haifa) to receive the sacred relics of the Bab and
of Baha-'ullah, and in the appointed time also of Abdul Baha.
[Footnote: See the description given by Thornton Chase, _In Galilee_,
pp. 63 f.] This too must be not only a comfort to the Master, but an
attestation for all time of the continuous development of the Modern
Social Religion.

It is this sense of historical continuity in which the Bahais appear
to me somewhat deficient. They seem to want a calendar of saints in
the manner of the Positivist calendar. Bahai teaching will then escape
the danger of being not quite conscious enough of its debt to the
past. For we have to reconcile not only divergent races and
religions, but also antiquity and (if I may use the word) modernity. I
may mention that the beloved Master has deigned to call me by a new
name.[Footnote: 'Spiritual Philosopher.'] He will bear with me if I
venture to interpret that name in a sense favourable to the claims of

The day is not far off when the details of Abdul Baha's missionary
journeys will be admitted to be of historical importance. How gentle
and wise he was, hundreds could testify from personal knowledge, and I
too could perhaps say something--I will only, however, give here the
outward framework of Abdul Baha's life, and of his apostolic journeys,
with the help of my friend Lotfullah. I may say that it is with
deference to this friend that in naming the Bahai leaders I use the
capital H (He, His, Him).

Abdul Baha was born on the same night in which His Holiness the Bab
declared his mission, on May 23, A.D. 1844. The Master, however, eager
for the glory of the forerunner, wishes that that day (i.e. May
23) be kept sacred for the declaration of His Holiness the Bab, and
has appointed another day to be kept by Bahais as the Feast of
Appointment of the CENTRE OF THE COVENANT--Nov. 26. It should be
mentioned that the great office and dignity of Centre of the Covenant
was conferred on Abdul Baha Abbas Effendi by His father.

It will be in the memory of most that the Master was retained a
prisoner under the Turkish Government at Akka until Sept. 1908, when
the doors of His prison were opened by the Young Turks. After this He
stayed in Akka and Haifa for some time, and then went to Egypt, where
He sojourned for about two years. He then began His great European
journey. He first visited London. On His way thither He spent some few
weeks in Geneva. [Footnote: Mr. H. Holley has given a classic
description of Abdul Baha, whom he met at Thonon on the shores of Lake
Leman, in his _Modern Social Religion_, Appendix I.] On Monday,
Sept. 3, 1911, He arrived in London; the great city was honoured by a
visit of twenty-six days. During His stay in London He made a visit
one afternoon to Vanners' in Byfleet on Sept. 9, where He spoke to a
number of working women.

He also made a week-end visit to Clifton (Bristol) from Sept. 23,
1911, to Sept. 25.

On Sept. 29, 1911, He started from London and went to Paris and stayed
there for about two months, and from there He went to Alexandria.

His second journey consumed much time, but the fragrance of God
accompanied Him. On March 25, 1912, He embarked from Alexandria for
America. He made a long tour in almost all the more important cities
of the United States and Canada.


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