Ch.VIII, p.157, f.1

"Be that as it may, the resultant impression was immense in Shiraz and all the learned and religious gathered around Ali-Muhammad. As soon as he appeared in the Mosque, they surrounded him and, as soon as he was seated in the pulpit, everyone was silent in order to listen to him. His public talks never attacked the essentials of the Faith of Islam, they respected most of its ritual; in fact, the Kitman dominated. Nevertheless, they were daring discourses. The clergy was not spared; its vices were cruelly lashed. The sad and painful destiny of humanity was generally the theme. Here and there, certain allusions, the obscurity of which irritated the passions of some while it flattered the pride of others already initiated as a whole or only in part, gave to his prophecies such a bitter truth that the crowd was growing day by day and so, in all Persia, they were beginning to talk of Ali-Muhammad. "The Mullas of Shiraz had not waited for all this agitation to unite against this young detractor. From his first public appearances, they sent to him their most able Mullas to argue with him and confuse him, and these public debates were held either in the Mosques or in the colleges in the presence of the Governor, the military chiefs, the clergy, the people, in fact before everyone. But, instead of benefiting the clergy, they contributed quite a little to spread and exalt, at their own expense, the renown of this enthusiastic teacher. It is a fact that he defeated his adversaries, he condemned them--which was not very difficult--with the Qur'an in hand. It was an easy matter for him to show before all these crowds who knew the Mullas well, at which point their conduct, their precepts, and to what extent their beliefs, even their theology, were in flagrant contradiction with the Book, which they could not deny. "Possessed of extraordinary daring and exaltation, he flayed unsparingly the vices of his antagonists, disregarding all ordinary conventions. After having proven their infidelity to their own doctrine, he shamed them in their lives and threw them at pitch and toss to the indignation or the contempt of the auditors. "At Shiraz, his first appearances, when he preached, were so profoundly moving that even the orthodox Muhammadans who were present have retained an indelible memory of them and never recall them without a sort of terror. They agreed unanimously that the eloquence of Ali-Muhammad was of an incomparable kind, such that, without having been an eye-witness, one could not possibly imagine. Soon the young theologian no longer appeared in public without being surrounded with many partisans. His house was always filled with them and he not only taught in the Mosques and in the colleges, but it was principally at his house and in the evenings that, withdrawn in a room with the elite of his admirers, he lifted for them the veils of a doctrine which even for himself he had not yet fully established. "It seemed in these early days that he was occupied with polemics rather than with dogmatic statements and nothing is more natural. In these secret talks, his bold declarations which were much more frequent than in the public addresses, grew each day and tended so clearly to a complete overthrow of Islam that they were a prelude to a new profession of Faith. The little congregation was ardent, brave, carried away, ready for anything; they were fanatical in the true and noble sense of the word, that is to say, that every one of its members thought himself of no importance and burned with a desire to sacrifice his life-blood and his belongings for the cause of Truth." (Comte de Gobineau's "Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale," pp. 120, 122.) "These ethics taught by a young man at an age when passions were intense, deeply impressed an audience, religious to the point of fanaticism, above all when the words of the preacher were in perfect harmony with his conduct. No one doubted the continence and the firmness of Karbila'i Siyyid Ali-Muhammad; he spoke little, meditated constantly and most of the time fled from the presence of men, which all the more aroused their curiosity. He was sought after everywhere." (Journal Asiatique, 1866, tome 7, p. 341.) "By the uprightness of his life the young Siyyid served as an example to those about him. He was willingly listened to when, in his ambiguous and interrupted talks, he condemned the abuses evident in all classes of society. His words were repeated and elaborated upon and they spoke of him as the true Master and gave themselves to him unreservedly." (Ibid.)