The Báb's original claim was, as has been already explained in Note D, that he was the 'Gate' whereby men could communicate with the Ká'im, Imám-Mahdí, or Twelfth Imám. At a later period of his mission, however, he declared himself to be none other than the Imám himself, and, as has been set forth in the previous Note (p. 288 supra), it was this claim which he boldly advanced before his inquisitors at Tabríz. The advancement of this claim certainly marks a very important point in the development of the Báb's doctrine, but as Gobineau (p. 159) very acutely
observes in speaking of Mullá Huseyn's announcement thereof to Minúchihr Khán, "il faut dire ici, pour prévenir toute erreur, qu'en assimilant le Bâb au douzième Imam, le missionnaire cherchait à se faire comprendre de la foule et à gagner ses sympathies, absolument comme saint Paul lorsqu'il révélait aux Athéniens que le Dieu qu'il leur annonŤait était ce Dieu inconnu auquel ils avaient déjà élevé un autel. C'était des deux parts une faŤon de parler, et on verra plus tard qu'il n'y a aucun rapport entre l'idée que les Bâbys se font du Point, et ce que les musulmans pensent au sujet de l'Imam Mehdy."
From the present history (pp. 20 and 24) it would appear that this new claim was publicly advanced by the Báb for the first time during his examination before the 'Ulamá of Tabríz at the end of A.D. 1847 or the beginning of A.D. 1848. The following passage in the Táríkh-i-Jadíd affords corroborative evidence of this:-
[nine lines of Persian/Arabic text]
"After His Highness [the Báb] had removed to the
Castle of Chihrík, his companions and friends, notwithstanding the rigorous prohibition of the late Hájí [Mírzá Ákásí], still continued to hold intercourse with him in a cautious manner, and a number of persons in that neighbourhood attained the dignity of belief and were converted. And so long as Yahyá Khán held the office of governor he used to observe the utmost respect towards His Highness [the Báb]. And His Highness [the Báb], having regard to the exigencies of the time, the requirements of expediency and caution, and the capacity of men, [first] made himself known as the Ká'im in Chihrík; though some believe that [he did so] during the latter part of the period of his sojourn at Mákú."
In the Persian Beyán (of which the greater part, if not the whole, was composed at Mákú) I have found two passages wherein the Báb identifies himself more or less clearly with the Imám Mahdí. The first of these passages occurs in Váhid viii, ch. 17, and runs as follows:-
[seven lines of Persian/Arabic text, with seven footnotes]
[ten lines of Persian/Arabic text, with fifteen footnotes]
"As thou hast heard, at the manifestation of the Nukta-i-Furkán [i.e. Muhammad, who was in his time the 'Point of Revelation'] all those who were believers in the Gospel were expecting the promised Ahmad,1 and thou hast
16 In Muhammadan tradition Christ is said to have foretold the coming of Muhammad in the words ~~~ "One shall come after me whose name is Ahmad". This tra-[footnote goes onto page 294a]dition is based on the prophecies relating to the coming of the Paracletos [in Greek text], for which word the Muhammadans would substitute Periclutos [in Greek text], whereof the signification is nearly the same as Ahmad or Muhammad. (See Ibn Hishám's Life of Muhammad, ed. Wüstenfeld, pp. 149-150.)
heard what befel that Sun of Truth during the twenty-three years of his mission, so that he said, 'No prophet hath been afflicted as I have been afflicted.' Yet all were entreating and craving his appearance, and, in the words of Jesus, working for him. Praise be to God that in that day thou wast not! But thou wast in the manifestation of the Nukta-i-Beyán [i.e. the Báb, the 'Point of Revelation'] when all believers in the Apostle of God were expecting the appearance of the promised Mahdí; for this tradition is from the Apostle of God, and all, simple and gentle, are agreed therein. Now there is no doubt that the substance of Faith was confined to the Shi'ites, and that the sect of Islám is this same outward sect whereof the adherents call themselves Shi'ites; while men avowedly call Fárs the 'Abode of Knowledge':1 Yet, although the Tree of Truth arose, not one of the people recognized it [even] after perceiving it. The degree of their remoteness is evident, for this sufficeth unto their abasement; yet night and day they exclaim 'speed! speed!'2
The second passage occurs in Váhid ix ch. 3, and runs as follows:-
[three lines of Persian/Arabic text, with three footnotes]
1 The official title of Shíráz is ~~~ "The Abode of Knowledge". 2 The Shi'ites, whenever they mention the Imám Mahdí, add the formula ~~~ "May God hasten his joy!"
[eight lines of Persian/Arabic text, with nine footnotes]
"Consider with due attention, for the matter is very strait, even while it is more spacious than the heavens and the earth and what is between them. For instance, if all those who were expecting [the fulfilment] of the saying of Jesus had been assured of the manifestation of Ahmad [i.e. Muhammad], not one would have turned aside from the saying of Jesus. So likewise in the manifestation of the Nukta-i-Beyán [i.e. the Báb] if all should be assured that this is that same Mahdí [whose coming was] promised, whom the Apostle of God foretold, not one of the believers in the Kur'án would have turned aside from the saying of the Apostle of God. So likewise in the manifestation of Him whom God shall manifest behold the same thing, for should all be assured that he is that same 'He whom God shall manifest' whom the Nukta-i-Beyán foretold, not one would turn aside."