E. G. Browne's "A Traveller's Narrative:" Note M


        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

[page 278]

the Báb (so far as we can tell) was unsupported by the presence of a single friend.

        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- Tawáríkh.

        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 Báb were:-

        siru 'd-Dín 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:-

        Hájí Mullá 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.
[page 279]

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 text]2

[two lines of Persian/Arabic text]3

        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 House'?"5

        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.

[page 280]

        Báb. - "Wherever it was, it is a divine name."

        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 Knowledge'?"

        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- keeper!"

        Báb. - "Surely you are Hájí Mullá Mahmúd?"

        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 for me."

        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 hypochondriasis?"

       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.

[page 281]

        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 claim!"

        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 not composite."

        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 Kála?"

        1 i.e. the Kur'án and the Traditions.

[page 282]

        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 rest."

        Báb. - "I learned it in childhood, but I have forgotten it"

        H. M. M. - "Give the derivatives of Kála."

        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 Kur'án:-

[one line of Persian/Arabic text]1

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 text]2

        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 eighth Imám:-

        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 text]1

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 thereto?"

        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 contained?"2

        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:- 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.

[page 284]

        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 text]2

        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 Knowledge'!"

        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 khusús-i- mutlak?"3

        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."
        3 Fasáhat and balághat both signify in general "eloquence," but the former especially denotes correctness of diction and chasteness of style, the latter moving and affecting language 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."

[page 285]

        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 do?"1

        Báb. - "I would assume two."

        Mullá Muhammad 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."

[page 286]

        H. M. M. - "Evidently if it is not two you must say three."

        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 prostrations?"

        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 Báb)

"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?"

        Hájí Murtazá- 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 nine divisible?"

(The Báb gives no answer.)

        H. M. M. -

        "[two lines of Persian/Arabic text]2

        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 desire?"

        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).

[page 288]

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 him."1

        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" (Recites)

        [one line of Persian/Arabic text]2

(pronouncing the last word with final fat-ha).

        Prince (smiling). -

        [two lines of Persian/Arabic text]3

        Báb. - "My name 'Alí Muhammad corresponds with Rabb" (Lord).4

        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 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 generically?"

        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 you?"

        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 supra).]

        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 God"

        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

[page 290]

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 to Chihrík.

        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.

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