Epilogue, p.659, f.1

Gobineau, writing in about the year 1865, testifies as follows: "Public opinion holds that the Babis are to be found in every social class and among the members of every religion, with the exception of the Nusayris and the Christians, but it is especially the educated classes, the men of learning who are suspected of sympathy with Babism. It is believed, and with good reason, that many mullas and, among them, outstanding mujtahids, magistrates of high rank, and high court officials very close to the king, are Babis. According to a recent estimate, there would be in Tihran, a city of about eighty thousand souls, five thousand Babis. But this estimate is not very reliable and I am inclined to think that, if the Babis were to triumph in Persia, their number in the capital would be much larger, for, at that moment, one would have to add to the number of the zealous ones, whatever that number may now be, a large proportion of those who are recently in favor of the officially condemned doctrine and to whom victory would impart the courage to declare their faith openly." (Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale," p. 251.) "Half a century has not yet elapsed since Mirza Ali-Muhammad, 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 Qajar dynasty and of the Muhammadan faith in Persia, and may still not improbably prove an important factor in the history of Western Asia." (E. G. Browne's introduction to the "Tarikh-i-Jadid," p. 7.) "Babism," writes Professor James Darmesteter, "which diffused itself in less than five years from one end of Persia to another, which was bathed in 1852 in the blood of its martyrs, has been silently progressing and propagating itself. If Persia is to be at all regenerate it will be through this new faith." (Extract from "Persia: A Historical and Literary Sketch," translated by G. K. Nariman.) "If Babism continues to grow at its present rate of progression, a time may conceivably come when it will oust Muhammadanism from the field in Persia. This, I think, it would be unlikely to do, did it appear upon the ground under the flag of a hostile faith. But since its recruits are won from the best soldiers of the garrison whom it is attacking, there is greater reason to believe that it may ultimately prevail. To those who know anything of the Persian character, so extraordinarily susceptible of religious influences as it is, it will be obvious to how many classes in that country the new creed makes successful appeal. The Sufis, or mystics, have long held that there must always be a Pir, or Prophet, visible in the flesh, and are very easily absorbed into the Babi fold. Even the orthodox Musulman, whose mind's eye has ever been turned in eager anticipation upon the vanished Imam, is amenable to the cogent reasoning, by which it is sought to prove that either the Bab, or Baha, is the Mihdi, according to all the predictions of the Qur'an and the traditions. The pure and suffering life of the Bab, his ignominious death, the heroism and martyrdom of his followers, will appeal to many others who can find no similar phenomena in the contemporaneous records of Islam." (Lord Curzon's "Persia and the Persian Question," vol. 1, p. 503.) The author, in the same chapter, commenting on the prospects of Christian missionary enterprise in Persia, writes as follows: "Persia has even been described as the most hopeful among the fields of missionary labour in the East. While conscious of the valuable work that has been and is being done by the representatives of English, French, and American Mission societies in that country, by the spread of education, by the display of charity, by the free gift of medical assistance, by the force of example, and while in no way suggesting that these pious labours should be slackened, I am unable, from such knowledge as I possess, to participate in so sanguine a forecast of the future." (p. 504.) "...In Persia, however, not the least of the obstacles with which Christian communities are confronted arise from their own sectarian differences, and the Musulmans are perfectly entitled to scoff at those who invite them to enter a flock the different members of which love each other so bitterly. Protestants squabble with Roman Catholics, Presbyterians with Episcopalians, the Protestant Nestorians look with no very friendly eye upon the Nestorians proper, and these, again, are not on the most harmonious terms with the Chaldaeans, or Catholic Nestorians. The Armenians gaze askance upon the United (or Catholic) Armenians, and both unite in retarding the work of the Protestant missions. Finally, the hostility of the Jews may, as a rule, be reckoned upon. In the various countries of the East in which I have traveled, from Syria to Japan, I have been struck by the strange and, to my mind, sorrowful phenomenon, of missionary bands waging the noblest of warfares under the banner of the King of Peace with fratricidal weapons in their hands." (Pp. 507-8.) "...If, then, the criterion of missionary enterprise in Persia be the number of converts it has made from Islam, I do not hesitate to say that the prodigious expenditure of money of honest effort, and of sacrificing toil that has been showered upon that country has met with a wholly inadequate return. Young Muhammadans have sometimes been baptised by Christian missionaries. But this must not too readily be confounded with conversion, since the bulk of the newcomers relapse into the faith of their fathers and I question if, since the day when Henry Martyn set foot in Shiraz up till the present moment, half a dozen Persian Muhammadans have genuinely embraced the Christian creed. I have myself often enquired for, but have never seen, a converted Musulman (I exclude, of course, those derelicts or orphans of Musulman parents who are brought up from childhood in Christian schools). Nor am I surprised at even the most complete demonstration of failure. Putting aside the dogmatic assumptions of Christianity (e.g. the doctrine of the Trinity and the Divinity of Christ), which are so repugnant to the Muhammadan conception of the unity of God, we cannot regard the reluctance of a Musulman to desert his faith with much astonishment when we remember that the penalty for such an act is death. The chances of conversion are remote indeed so long as the body as well as the soul of the convert is thrown into the scales But personal apprehensions, though an important are not the deciding factor in the situation. It is against the impregnable rock-wall of Islam as a system embracing every sphere, and duty, and act of life, that the waves of missionary effort beat and buffet in vain. Marvellously adapted alike to the climate, character and occupations of those countries upon which it has laid its adamantine grip, Islam holds its votary in complete thrall from the cradle to the grave. To him, it is not only religion, it is government, philosophy, and science as well. The Muhammadan conception is not so much that of a state church as, if the phrase may be permitted, of a church state. The undergirders with which society itself is warped round are not of civil, but of ecclesiastical, fabrication, and, wrapped in this superb, if paralysing creed, the Musulman lives in contented surrender of all volition, deems it his highest duty to worship God and to compel, or, where impossible, to despise those who do not worship Him in the spirit, and then dies in sure and certain hope of Paradise. So long as this all-compelling, all-absorbing code of life holds an Eastern people in its embrace, determining every duty and regulating every act of existence, and finally meting out an assured salvation missionary treasure and missionary self-denial will largely be spent in vain. Indeed, an active propaganda is, in my judgment, the worst of policies that a Christian mission in a bigoted Musulman country can adopt and the very tolerance with which I have credited the Persian government is in large measure due to the prudent abstention of the Christian missionaries from avowed proselytism." (Pp. 508-9.)