Of what took place in this assembly we have four accounts
besides that which is contained in the present work, whereof two - those contained in the
Rawzatu 's-Safá and the Kisasu 'l-
'Ulamá - are almost identical. The version contained in the Násikhu 't-
Tawárikh is substantially a mere condensation of these, and contains little new
matter, though the order of the proceedings is somewhat differently given. The account
contained in the Táríkh-i-Jadíd is relatively very brief, and
in the main agrees with what is stated in the present work. Bábí tradition, in
short, supplies us with no detailed narrative of this event, the reason for this being
apparently that the assembly in question was held with closed doors, and that
the Báb (so far as we can tell) was unsupported by the presence of a single
As to the credibility of the Muhammadan version, Kazem-
Beg has some very pertinent remarks in his first article (pp. 360-363). While fully
sharing the doubts which he expresses as to the historical value of this version, I have
nevertheless thought it worth reproducing in this place, believing that, whether it be true
or false, it will not be found altogether uninteresting as a specimen of the method of judicial
enquiry adopted by an Ecclesiastical Court in Persia. I have in the main followed the account
given in the Rawzatu 's-Safá and the
Kisasu 'l-'Ulamá, except in a few cases where a question or
answer seemed to be more clearly put in the Násikhu 't-
In the Násikhu 't-Tawárikh this
conference is described as having taken place in the year A.H. 1263. If this were
so,1 it must
have been at the close of that year (which ended on December 8th, A.D. 1847), inasmuch as
the Báb was, according to all authorities (including Dr A. H. Wright of
Urúmiyya), brought to Tabríz from Chihrík, whither
(as I have attempted to shew in the previous note) he was not transferred much before the
beginning of A.D. 1848.
The chief persons who took part in this examination of the
Mírzá, now King, then Crown-Prince, of Persia, who was at this time
about sixteen years old, and on whom the government of Ázarbaiján had only
recently been bestowed; Hájí Mullá Mahmúd
entitled Nizámu'l-'Ulamá, the young Prince's tutor;
Mullá Muhammad Mámakání entitled
Hujjatu'l-Islám, an eminent Sheykhí divine;
Hájí Murtazá-Kulí Marandí entitled
'Ilmu 'l-Hudá; Hájí Mírzá 'Alí
Asghar the Sheykhu'l-Islám; and (according to the present work)
Mírzá Ahmad the Imám-Jum'a. Shortly after
these had assembled the Báb was brought in, and (according to the Musulmán,
but not the Bábí, accounts) was motioned to a seat of honour. The following
dialogue then ensued:-
Mahmúd. - "The command of His Imperial Majesty the King is that you
should set forth your
1 But see remarks on pp. 186-187 supra.
claims in the presence of the doctors of Islám, so that the truth of falsehood thereof
may be established. Although I myself am not one of the learned and only occupy the position
of an attendant, I am free from prejudice, and my conversion will not be without importance.
Now I have three questions to ask of you. Firstly, are these books composed in the
fashion and style of the Kur'án, of Epistles, and of Prayers, and disseminated
through all parts and regions of Persia yours, and did you compose them, or do men
[wrongly] attribute them to you?"
Báb. - "They are from God"
H. M. M.- "I am no great scholar; if they are yours,
say so; and if not, don't"
Báb. - "They are mine."
H. M. M. - "The meaning of your saying 'They are
from God' is that your tongue is like the Tree on Sinai1 -
[two lines of Persian/Arabic
[two lines of Persian/Arabic
Báb. - "Mercy be upon you!"
H. M. M. - "They call you 'Báb.' Who
gave you this name, and where did they give it? What is the meaning of 'Báb'?
And are you content with this name or not?"
Báb. - "God gave me this name."
H. M. M. - "Where? In the House of the Ka'ba, or in
the 'Holy House,'4 or in the 'Frequented
1 i.e. The Burning Bush. Cf.
Kur'án xxvii, 7-9; and xxviii, 29-30. 2 "If [to say] 'I am the Truth' (i.e. God)
be right in a tree, Why should it not be right in some favoured man?" 3 See note 1 at the foot of p. 23
supra. 4 Jerusalem. 5 See Kur'án lii, v. 4, and
explanations in the commentaries.
Báb. - "Wherever it was, it is a divine
H. M. M. - "In that case of course you are content
with a 'divine name.' What is the meaning of 'Báb'?"
Báb. - "The same word 'Báb' in
[the tradition] -
H. M. M. - "Then you are the 'Gate of the City of
Báb. - "Yes"
H. M. M. - "Praise be to God! For forty years have I
journeyed seeking to meet with one of the 'Gates,' and it was not granted to me. Now, praise
be to God, you have come to me in my own country, even to my very pillow! If it be so, and I
can but assure myself that you are the 'Gate,' give me, I pray, the office of shoe-
Báb. - "Surely you are Hájí
H. M. M. - "Yes"
Báb. - "Your dignity is great; great offices
should be bestowed upon you."
H. M. M. - "I only want that office, and it is sufficient
The Prince. - "We too will leave and deliver over
this throne to you who are the 'Gate.'"
H. M. M. - "As the Prophet or some other wise man
hath said -
I ask, then, in Medicine, what occurs in the stomach when a
person suffers from indigestion? Why are some cases amenable to treatment? Any why do
some go on to permanent dyspepsia or syncope,3 or terminate in
1 "I am the City of Knowledge and 'Alí is
its Gate (Báb)." 2 "Knowledge is twofold - knowledge of bodies,
and knowledge of religions;" i.e. Medicine and Theology are the only two branches of science
which are really worthy of attention." 3 ~~~
swooning or syncope. For fainting-fits in connection with dyspepsia, see Avicenna's
Kánún (Rome, A.D. 1593), vol. i, p. 440.
Báb. - "I have not studied Medicine."
The Prince. - "If so be that you are the 'Gate of
Knowledges,' yet say 'I have not studied Medicine,' this is quite incompatible with your
H. M. M. - (To the Prince) "It is of no
consequence, for this is but the art of the veterinarian and is not included amongst sciences;
so that herein is no incompatibility with Báb-hood" (To the
Báb) "Theology consists of the sciences of 'Principles'
([~~~]) and 'Applications'
([~~~]). The science of 'Principles' has a beginning
([~~~]) and a conclusion
([~~~]). Say then: are [the Divine Attributes
of ] Knowledge, Hearing, Seeing, and Power identical with the
[Divine] Essence, or otherwise?"
Bab. - "Identical with the Essence."
H. M. M. - "Then God is multiple and composite; the
[Divine] Essence and the [Divine] Knowledge are two things
like vinegar and syrup which have yet become identical; [God is]
compounded of [the Divine] Essence plus Knowledge, of [the
Divine] Essence plus Power, and so on. Besides this, the
[Divine] Essence is 'without Opposite, without Antithesis' But
Knowledge, which is identical with the [Divine] Essence, has an opposite,
which is Ignorance. Besides these two objections, God knows, the Prophet knows, and I
know: we [therefore] partake in Knowledge. We also have a 'ground of
distinction'; for the Knowledge of God is from Himself, while our knowledge is from Him.
Therefore God is compounded of a 'ground of distinction' and a 'ground of identity.' But God is
Báb. - "I have not studied Philosophy."
(The Prince smiles, but preserves silence.)
H. M. M. - "The science of 'Applications' is elucidated
from the Book and the Code1, and the understanding of the Book
and the Code depends on many sciences, such as Grammar, Rhetoric, and Logic. Do you who
are the Báb conjugate Kála?"
Báb. - "What
1 i.e. the Kur'án and the
H. M. M. - "Kála,
yakúlu, kawlan." (Begins to say the past tense after the
fashion of a school-boy - "Kála, kálá,
kálú; kálat, kálatá,
kulná." Then addressing the Báb) "Do you say the
Báb. - "I learned it in childhood, but I have
H. M. M. - "Give the derivatives of
Báb. - "How give the derivatives?"
H. M. M. (after giving some of the
derivatives) - "Now give the rest."
Báb. - "I told you, I have forgotten."
H. M. M. - "Explain this verse of the Glorious
[one line of Persian/Arabic
and tell me also what is the construction of ~~~?"
Báb. - "I don't remember."
H. M. M. - "What is the meaning of this tradition:-
[one line of Persian/Arabic
Báb. - "I don't know."
H. M. M. - "Explain the meaning of this tradition of
what passed between Ma'mún the Caliph and His Highness Rizá the
1 "It is He who maketh you to behold
the lightning, a fear and a hope." Kur'án, xiii, 13. 2 "May God curse the eyes, for verily they
have acted unjustly towards the one eye." I regret to say that I have failed to ascertain by
whom and on what occasion these words were uttered or to what they allude. [page 283]
[two lines of Persian/Arabic
What was the nature of the argument employed by Rizá (on him be peace),
and what the point of Ma'mún's objection and of Rizá's reply
Báb. - "Is it a tradition?"
H. M. M. - "Yes" (Cites authorities)
"The circumstances under which the Súratu 'l-Kawthar was revealed were, as
is well known, the following:- His Highness the Prophet was passing by. 'Ás said,
'This is the childless man!' Shortly afterwards he died, leaving no children. His Highness the
Prophet was grieved, and so this Súra was revealed for his consolation. Tell me now,
what was the nature of the consolation which it
Báb. - "Were these indeed the circumstances
under which it was revealed?"
1 "Ma'mún said,
'What is the proof for [the right to] the Caliphate of thine
ancestor 'Alí ibn Abí Tálib?' He [i.e.
Rizá] said, 'The sign of ourselves' He
[i.e. Ma'mún] said, 'If it were not for our wives!' He
[i.e. Rizá] said, 'If it were not for our sons!'
Then Ma'mún was silent" By his first answer the Imám
Rizá means that the right of 'Alí and his descendants to the
Caliphate is sufficiently proved by their being what they are and connected as they
are with the Prophet. Ma'mún objects, 'Yes, that is all very well, but we too
are related to the Prophet on the female side;' to which objection the Imám
Rizá replies, 'But our connection is in the male line;' for
connection in the male line is a much closer tie, as expressed in the following verse
from on old Arab poet for which I am indebted to my friend Mr Khalíl
Khayyát. of Beyrout:-
[one line of Persian/Arabic text]
"Our sons' sons are our sons, but as for our daughters
Their sons are the sons of strange men."
This, at least, appears to me to be the explanation of the tradition. 2 Concerning the circumstances under which
the Súratu'l-Kawthar was revealed see Ibn Hishám's Life of
Muhammad, ed. Wüstenfeld, p. 261.
H. M. M. - "Yes" (Cites authorities.)
(The Báb asks for time to think.)
H. M. M. - "In the days of our youth we used,
according to the dictates of our age, jestingly to repeat this sentence of
'Alláma1 whereof I desire you now to explain to
me the meaning:-
[two lines of Persian/Arabic
Why should this be so?"
Báb. - (after reflecting for a while)
"Is this sentence from 'Alláma?"
The audience (unanimously). - "Yes!"
H. M. M. - "Suppose it is not 'Alláma's
but mine, do you nevertheless explain its meaning. After all you are the 'Gate of
Báb. - "I cannot think of anything."
H. M. M. - "One of the miracles of the Arabian
Prophet is the Kur'án, and the miraculous character thereof is derived from
its fasáhat and its balághat. What is the
definition of fasáhat and balághat? Is the
relation which subsists between them tabáyun, tasáwí,
'umúm wa khusús. min wajh, or 'umúm wa
1 The title of the 'Alláma
("the very erudite"), is used by the Shi'ites to designate one of their great theologians named
Hasan ibn Yüsuf ibn 'Alí of Hilla. According to the
Kisasu'l-'Ulamá he was born on
Ramazán 19th, A.H. 648 (December 15th, A.D. 1250), and died on
Muharram 11th, A.H. 726 (December 18th, A.D. 1325). No less than seventy-five
of his works are enumerated 2 "Si vir cum hermaphrodito,
hermaphroditus cum muliere rem habet, ab hermaphrodito requiritur ut aquâ se
purget, non vero a viro et muliere." 3Fasáhat and
balághat both signify in general "eloquence," but the former especially denotes
correctness of diction and chasteness of style, the latter moving and
affectinglanguage which reaches the hearts of the hearers or causes the
speaker to reach his object. (See Lane's Arabic-English Lexicon, sv.
[~~~] and [Arabic word].)
[footnote goes onto page 285] The "four relations" recognized by
Muhammadan logicians and here enumerated are in detail as follows:- (1)
Tasáwí ("Equivalence" or "Co-extensiveness"), as "man" and "endowed
with articulate speech" (2) Tabáyun ("Diversity"), as "man" and
"stone." (3) 'Umúm wa khusús. i-mutlak. ("Relation
of genus and species absolutely"), as "animal" and "man." (4) 'Umúm wa
khusús. min wajh ("Relation of genus and species under one aspect"), as
"animal" and "white."
Báb. - "I don't know." (The audience
manifest signs of anger and impatience.)
H. M. M. - "If you were in doubt between two and
three [inclinations in prayer] what would you
Báb. - "I would assume two."
Mámákání:- "O impious one! You do not even know
what to do in cases of doubt in prayer, and yet you claim to be the Báb!"
Báb. - "I would assume three."
1 This question, with what immediately
follows it, refers to the duty incumbent on a Musulmán who, while engaged in the
performance of one of the prescribed prayers, becomes conscious of a doubt as to whether he
has duly fulfilled some one or more of its essential elements, e.g. as to whether he has
performed two or three inclinations (rak'a). Every possible case of doubt is provided
for in that section of Muhammadan jurisprudence which is entitled [Arabic
script] concerning which see Querry's Droit Musulman (Paris, 1871)
vol. i, pp. 107-109. The general rule is thus stated at p. 21 of the catechism called
Su'ál ú Jawáb ("Questions and answers") composed by
Hájí Seyyid Muhammad Bákir of Isfahán and
printed at Teherán in A.H. 1247 (A.D. 1831-2):- "He who is doubtful assumes the
[performance of the] act concerning which he doubts, whether it relates to
the number of inclinations (rak'a) or not; except in cases where [the
performance of] the act concerning which he doubts would cause nullity [of
the prayer], when he assumes its omission. If, then, he be doubtful whether it is
two or three inclinations [which he has performed], he assumes three; if he
be doubtful whether he has performed the inclination or the prostration or not, he assumes
that he has performed them; and if he be doubtful whether he has performed the recitation
(kará'at), he assumes that he has performed it. But [on the
other hand] if he be doubtful whether he has inclined twice or once he assumes that
he has inclined [only] once; and if he be doubtful whether he has performed
four inclinations of prayer or five, he assumes that it is four."
H. M. M. - "Evidently if it is not two you must say
H. M. M. - "Three is also wrong. Why did you not ask
whether it was in the morning or evening prayer that I was in doubt, and whether it was
after the inclination or before the inclination, or after the completion of two
H. M. M. - "You ought to give thanks, for had he said
'I would assume two' (inasmuch as engaging in an indubitable duty demands fulfilment of that
indubitable duty) what would you have done then1?" (To the
"Did you write:- ~~~?2
Is this expression yours or not?"
Báb. "Yes, it is mine."
H. M. M. - "Then in that case you were the leader and
they were followers, and you must be superior to them?"
Kulí Marandí. - "The Lord of the Universe has said:-
[one line of Persian/Arabic text]3
1 If I have understood this rather
obscure expression (~~~) it means that the
undertaking of an obligation such as prayer necessitates and requires the due discharge of all
that is properly involved therein, without which it is null and void. Hence if it were
necessary in a case of doubt such as is indicated above to assume that only two inclinations
had been performed (or, in other words, to assume the minimum instead of the maximum),
then all persons who had followed the rule ordinarily received would have been guilty of
numerous sins of omission for which they would be held responsible. 2 "The first to believe in me was the Light of
Muhammad and [the Light of] 'Alí." 3 "And know that whenever ye seize anything
as a spoil, to God belongs a fifth thereof, and to His Apostle......" Kur'án,
viii, 42. [page 287]
while you in your Kur'án say [Arabic
script]1 . On what authority, and why?"
Báb. - "A third is the half of a fifth. What
difference does it make?"
(The audience laugh).
H.M.-K. M. - "In how many ways is
(The Báb gives no answer.)
H. M. M. -
"[two lines of Persian/Arabic
I am not tied down to words; shew me a miracle suitable to
your claims, so that I may become your follower, and on my submission many will set their
footsteps within the circle of devotion to you, for I am well known as learned, and the learned
man will never follow the ignorant"
Báb. - "What miracle do you
H. M. M. - "His Majesty the King Muhammad
Sháh is sick. Restore him to health"
The Prince. - "Why go so far? Are not you present?
Let him exert an influence over your being and restore you
1"A third thereof." As a matter of
fact the ordinances contained in the Persian Beyán relative to the disposal of
spoils taken from infidels do not accord with the statement here made, which is probably
quite fictitious. They will be found in Váhid v, ch. vi, and are in
substance as follows:- (1) One-fifth of the spoils, together with whatever is incomparable
in value or beauty, belongs to the Báb. If he be no longer alive it is to be held in trust
for "Him whom God shall manifest" (2) Of what remains the warriors who have won
it take what suffices for their needs. (3) The residue is given to the poor, all of whom, so far
as possible, are to be made partakers in the bounty. Should anything still remain over, it
may be expended on building or repairing shrines etc. 2 "How long these
words and this concealment and metaphor?
I would burn, burn, and acquiesce
in that burning."
Masnaví (ed. 'Alá'u'd-Dawla, p. 143, line 8).
to youthfulness, so that you may ever continue in attendance on our stirrup. We too, on
witnessing the accomplishment of this miracle, will resign this throne to
Báb. - "It is not in my power."
H. M. M. - "Then honour is not rendered without
some reason. O dumb in the realms of words and dumb in the realms of ideas, what virtue
then do you possess?"
Báb. - "I can utter eloquent words"
[one line of Persian/Arabic
(pronouncing the last word with final fat-ha).
Prince (smiling). -
[two lines of Persian/Arabic
Báb. - "My name 'Alí
Muhammad corresponds with Rabb"
H. M. M. - "Every 'Alí Muhammad and
Muhammad 'Alí corresponds with Rabb. Besides in that case you should
claim to be the Lord rather than the Báb."
Báb. - "I am that person for whose
appearance ye have waited a thousand years"
H. M. M. - "That is to say you are the Mahdí,
the Lord of Religion?"5
1 There is something almost ludicrous
in the eagerness wherewith the Crown-Prince interposes to check the miracle designed to
restore his dying father to health" 2 "Praise be to God who created the
heavens." 3 "That which forms its plural in alif
and tá is pointed with kesra alike in the adjective and in the dependent
cases." This sentence is from the well-known versified Arabic Grammar called the
Alfiyya, and will be found on p. 19 of Dieterici's edition of that work (Leipsic,
1851). 4 The sum of the letters in 'Alí
Muhammad is 202, which is also the numerical equivalent of Rabb. 5 i.e. the Twelfth Imám. See Note O
infra. [page 289]
Báb. - "Yes"
H. M. M. - "The same in person, or
Báb. - "In person."
H. M. M. - "What is your name, and what are the
names of your father and mother? Where is your birthplace? And how old are
Báb. - "My name is 'Alí
Muhammad; my mother was named Khadíja and my father
Mírzá Rizá the cloth-seller; my birth-place is
Shíráz; and of my life, behold, thirty-five years have
elapsed"1 Kazem-Beg (i, p. 334, note 4) bases the calculation
whereby he arrives at the date of the Báb's birth on this passage, which, as a matter
of fact, affords a strong proof of the falsity of the whole narrative wherein it occurs, since
the Báb's age certainly did not exceed 29 years at this time (see Note C
H. M. M. - "The name of the Lord of Religion is
Muhammad; his father was named Hasan and his mother Narjis; his birth-
place was Surra-man-Ra'a; and his age is more than a thousand years. There is the most
complete variance. And besides I did not send you."
Báb. - "Do you claim to be God?"
H. M. M. - "Such an Imám is worthy of such a
Báb. - "I can in one day write two thousand
verses. Who else can do this?"
H. M. M. - "When I resided at the Supreme Shrines I
had a secretary who used to write two thousand verses a day. Eventually he became blind. You
must certainly give up this occupation, or else you too will go blind"
The conference then broke up, and the Báb was taken
back to the house of Muhammad Kázim Khán the
Farráshbáshí. Next day he was again brought before the Prince
and the doctors, who sentenced him to the bastinado. The Muhammadan historians admit that
the farráshes were still, in spite of what had taken place at the examination on
the previous day, so strongly inclined to sympathize with the Báb that they positively
refused to take part in administering the punishment decreed, the execution of which
therefore devolved on the servants of Hájí Mullá
Muhmúd and the Sheyku 'l-Islám. It is of course asserted
by the Musulmán historians that the Báb again recanted and revoked all his
claims under the chastisement inflicted upon him, whereupon he was released and sent back
It is difficult to decide to what measure of credence the above
narrative is entitled. Very probably such questions as are there recorded - and assuredly
some of them are sufficiently frivolous and even indecent - were asked; but, even though the
Báb may have been unable to answer them, it is far more likely that, as stated in the
Táríkh-i-Jadíd, he preserved a dignified silence than that he
gave utterance to the absurdities attributed to him by the Muhammadan writers. These,
indeed, spoil their own case; for, desiring to prove that the Báb was not endowed with
superhuman wisdom, they represent him as displaying an ignorance which we can scarcely
credit. That the whole examination was a farce throughout, that the sentence was a foregone
conclusion, that no serious attempt to apprehend the nature and evidence of the Báb's
claim and doctrine was made, and that from first to last a systematic course of brow-beating,
irony, and mockery was pursued appear to me to be facts proved no less by the Muhammadan
than by the Bábí accounts of these inquisitorial proceedings.