THE BÁB'S PILGRIMAGE TO MECCA AND RETURN TO
As the accounts hitherto published of the Báb's
movements during the earlier period of his mission are somewhat contradictory, it has
seemed to me advisable to embody in the present note all that I have been able to learn on this
matter, together with the conclusions which may be fairly deduced from the facts at present
First of all let us
enumerate briefly the facts which seem to be sufficiently established by good
(1) Mírzá 'Alí Muhammad,
afterwards the Báb, was born at Shíráz either on Muharram
1st A.H. 1236 (Oct. 9th, A.D. 1820), or on Muharram 1st 1235 (Oct. 20th, A.D.
1819), most probably (for the reasons advanced in Note C, p. 221, supra) the
(2) Whilst he was still of tender age he lost his father,
Seyyid Muhammad Rizá, and was placed under the care of his
maternal uncle, Mírzá Seyyid 'Alí (supra, p. 2).
(3) On attaining years of discretion (probably, as Kazem-
Beg states at p. 335 of his first article, when about fourteen or fifteen years old) he was
sent to Bushire to help in his uncle's business (supra, p. 2).
(4) Disinclined by nature to the calling for which he was
destined, he proceeded at some time antecedent to the year A.H. 1259 (in which year Seyyid
Kázim died, see p. 238, supra) to Kerbelá, where he resided
for some time (two months, according to the Táríkh-i-Jadíd),
occasionally attending the lectures of Hájí Seyyid Kázim of
(5) In A.H. 1258 (A.D. 1842) when in his twenty-third
year he married (B. ii, p. 993). There is no positive evidence to show whether this
marriage took place at Shíráz or Kerbelá, but the former hypothesis
appears more probable. By this marriage he had (according to a statement made by
Subh-i-Ezel) one son named (if my memory serves me aright)
Ahmad, who died in infancy. The loss of this child is said to be alluded to in the
Commentary on the Súra of Joseph.
(6) On Jamádí-ul-Úlá 5th,
A.H. 1260 (May 23rd, A.D. 1844) Mírzá 'Alí Muhammad -
then "twenty-four years of age and entering on his twenty-fifth year" as
Subh-i-Ezel states, or, in his own words, "at an age which did not exceed five
and twenty" (see p. 221, supra) - first became clearly conscious of the divine
mission laid upon him, and (apparently without much delay) began to announce himself as
the Báb. If by the 'manifestation' (~~~) we are to understand that period at which the
views of the young Seer first became definitely formulated rather than that at which they
were first made known to others, it is of course possible that some little while elapsed
between the 'manifestation' and its disclosure. This hypothesis is supported by the narrative
of the Táríkh-i-Jadíd, according to which Mullá
Huseyn of Bushraweyh (who was, as is unanimously admitted, and as his titles 'the
first Letter' and the 'First who believed' imply, the earliest convert) came to
Shíráz shortly after the death of Seyyid Kázim, visited
Muhammad (with whom he had been previously acquainted at Kerbelá), and,
during this first visit, was surprised by his former fellow-student demanding of him
'whether he saw in him the signs which must characterize Seyyid Kázim's
successor?' (see B. ii, pp. 902-903). On the other hand it is clear that not more than a
month or two can have elapsed between the time of the 'manifestation' and its disclosure,
firstly, because the beginning of the Bábí propaganda is placed by both
of the Musulmán historians in this same year of A.H. 1260; secondly, because
seven months after the 'manifestation' (as will be shown immediately) the Báb,
having laid the foundations of his religion at Shíráz, was away performing the
pilgrimage to Mecca.
We have now reached the point to which this note specially
refers - the Báb's pilgrimage to Mecca. Concerning this Gobineau says simply (pp.
144-145), "Il fit très-jeune le pèlerinage de la Mecque...Il est bien probable que ce fut
dans la ville sainte elle-même qu'il se détacha absolument et
définitivement de la foi du Prophète, et qu'il concut la pensée de ruiner cette
foi pour mettre à sa place tout autre chose." Kazem-Beg says (i, p. 344), "Après avoir
semé bon gré mal gré quelques mauvais grains dans cette terre de
Chiraz si fertile en préjugés et en superstitions, le Kerbèlaï
Seïd Ali-Mohammed se rendit en pèlerinage à la Mecque." In this instance Kazem-Beg
is undoubtedly right; it was after, not before, the manifestation that the
Báb went to Mecca. The Násikhu't-Tawáríkh is clear on
this point. "To proceed with the narrative," it says, "when the Báb had laid the
foundations of such an edifice, he, according to his promise, set out for Mecca the venerable."
The promise alluded to in this passage is thus noticed on the preceding page: "Since tradition
affirms that His Highness the Ká'im (i.e. the Imám Mahdí) shall come
forth from Mecca the venerable, he (the Báb) used to tell his disciples that next year
he would announce his claim in Mecca and come forth with the sword" A statement of
Subh-i-Ezel's to the effect that the manifestation was in
Shíráz (not in Kerbelá, as stated in the Násikhu't-
Tawáríkh), that Mullá Huseyn first believed, and that
soon after this the Báb set out on the pilgrimage to Mecca, taken in conjunction with
the above testimony, seems to prove conclusively that the
pilgrimage-journey took place shortly after the 'manifestation.'
Now since, as we have seen, the 'manifestation' was on
Jamádí-ul-Úlá 5th A.H. 1260, and since the pilgrimage must
be performed in the month of Zi'l-Hijjé (the last month of the
Muhammadan year), it follows that Kazem-Beg's statement (i, p. 346) that "at the end of the
year 1260 (1844) he (i.e. the Báb) returned from Mecca to Bandar-Bushire,
where he was arrested in the month of October, by order of the Nizámu'd-
DawlaHuseyn Khán, governor of Shíráz," is erroneous.
For, according to the Násikhu't-Tawáríkh, the horsemen sent
to Bushire to arrest the Báb set out from Shíráz on Sha'bán
16th, and returned, bringing with them their prisoner, on Ramazán 19th.
The latter of these dates is confirmed by the Rawzatu's-
Safá; while the Táríkh-i-Jadíd, after
mentioning that the Báb's return to Bushire occurred in A.H. 1261, says that he was
brought before Huseyn Khán on the eve of Ramazán 21st.
Though neither of the Musulmán historians mentions the
year1, it is evident that A.H. 1261 is intended, for in
Ramazán A.H. 1260 the Báb had not yet started for Mecca. We may
therefore add to the facts previously stated about the Báb's earlier movements-
(7) That towards the end of the year A.H. 1260, and
presumably in the month Zi'l-Ka'da of that year (November, A.D. 1844), he
set out from Shíráz for Mecca.
(8) That he remained at Mecca at any rate till Zi'l-
Hijjé 13th A.H. 1260 (December 24th, A.D. 1844) for the completion of the
rites incumbent on pilgrims.
(9) That he returned by sea some time during the first half
of the year A.H. 1261 (A.D. 1845) to Bushire, whence he sent missionaries to
Shíráz, he himself remaining at the former place. (See supra, p.
(10) That on Sha'bán 2nd A.H. 1261 (August 6th,
A.D. 1845) strong measures were adopted by Huseyn Khán against these
missionaries. (See supra, pp. 5-6.)
(11) That on Sha'bán 16th A.H. 1261 (August 20th,
1845) horsemen were sent from Shíráz to arrest the Báb at
1 Compare the remarks on pp. 186-187,
(12) That these horsemen re-entered Shíráz
with their prisoner on Ramazán 19th A.H. 1261 (September 21st, A.D.
1845), and that on that same day (according to the Rawzatu's-
Safá), or on the evening of the following day (according to the
Táríkh-i-Jadíd), the Báb was brought before
There is not at present sufficient evidence to determine
definitely the following points:-
(1) At what age the Báb lost his father.
(2) At what age he first left Shíráz and went
(3) How long he remained at Bushire engaged in
(4) When he went to Kerbelá, how long he remained
there, and whether he married before, during, or after his sojourn there.
(5) Whether he returned directly to Bushire after
performing the rites of the pilgrimage at Mecca and visiting Medína, or whether he
remained some few months in Arabia.
The Báb was accompanied on the pilgrimage by
Hájí Muhammad 'Alí Bárfurúshí
(Kazem-Beg, i, p. 344, note; confirmed by Subh-i-Ezel), and was
(according to Subh-i-Ezel) joined later by Hájí