History of movemnets - 29

Prof. E. G. Browne of Cambridge, England, to whom the non-Persian world owes more than any one else the knowledge of the wonderful movement of liberal religion in Western Asia, opens his book “The New History of the Bab (1803) thus :—“Half a century has not yet elapsed since Mirza Ali Mahummad, the young seer of Shiraz, first began to preach the religion which now counts its martyrs by hundreds and its adherents by hundreds of thousands; which seemed at one time to menace the supremacy alike of the Kazar dynasty and of Muhommedan faith in Persia, and may still not improbably prove an important fac­tor in the History of Western Asia,” He also quotes in a footnote from Lord Curzon’s Persia Vol.I, p. 499, “The lowest estimate places the present number of Babis in Persia at half a million. I am disposed to think, from conversation with persons well qualified to judge that the total number is nearer
one million.”

Origin: The Bab—Shaik Mahommed Assai, the founder of a progressive sect of the Shiya Section of Mahonunedanism was born in 1752. The Bab was the designation of a mediator believed by this sect to be necessary to connect the present generation to a future prophet. Hazi Sayyad Kazim the second leader of this sect before his death in 1844 used to often allude to a coming incaruation for whom his disciples were in search. At least one  of these searching disciples, Mulla Hussein, fell in with an extra­ordinarily spiritually minded youth, Mirza Ali Mahammed, who eventually declared himself to be the Bab. The spiritoal genius apparently without any education would put forth wonderful expositions of the Kuran and would even comment upon some intricate portion of it so as to naturally create reverence in those that gathered round him. He preached for six years his new gospel with a remarkable power all his own and attracted to him millions of followers, eighteen ardent disciples who could throw away their home, fame, and even their life for his sake. Moulvis and Mullas, who came to argue, remained as converts Officials and even Governors secretly sympathised with him. This led to constant fends in small towns and even to great revolts in the Northern and Southern districts. Under the misrule and disorder of the minor king Nasairuddin Shaha the Babis were put to a terrible persecution. Any Mulla might arraign an innocent Babi under some pretext or other and open murder or even wholesale massacre would follow, which only stimulated the new faith into a more and more glorious increase. At last the Bab was arrested, transferred from one prison to another for a time and after a mock trial was finally executed together with one of his disciples Aka Alii Mahammad in the pre­sence of large crowds. Maddened by this last outrage three Babi youths plotted against the life of the King Nassiruddin and failed which causcd an unspeakable reign of terror and innumerable innocent Babis were sacrificed in the massacres that followed.

Growtht Beha-‘U’-llah—The two of the disciples of the Beb who escaped this general massacre were two step brothers Mirza Husseign Ali and Mirza Yahia of the city of Nur. Their father was a late Vazir and their grandfather a Prime Minister of Iran. The Bab had nominated Mirza Yahia who was styled as Suft-E-Ezel, as his successor. But he was by nature quiet and given to solitude and not capable of organizing and developing the new faith in those troublous times. Mirza Ali Hasseign, who afterwards styled himself as Beha-’u’-llah was wise and forceful. He betook himself with his followers to the hill Irak in the neighbourhood of Bagdad; and first spent much of his time in contemplation and laying down the fonndations of the future organization. Thence he wrote letters inculcating his new faith and ideals to the Shaha of Iran, and political heads of Germany, England, France, and the Pope of Rome, and called upon them to establish the Universal Peace. But he had to be removed to Constantinople and thence to Adrianople. Meanwhile he had won over most of the Babis to his side and in 1862 declared himself as Beha’u’llah or the Glory of God. The Bab had predicted that one greater than himeelf would come after him just as John the Baptist had foretold Jesus Christ. But there arose bitter dissensions between the two parties of Subh-E-Ezel and Beha‘u’llah, the latter however soon getting the upperhand by his natural abilities and efforts.' Roused by their mutual jealousies and complaints, the Turkish Government banished them both, Subh-E-Ezel to the island of Cyprus and Beha’u’llah to the fort of Acre in Seria in 1868.