Modern Movements in Islam
Calcutta: Visva-Bharati Book Shop, 1932
The Persians take a unique position among the peoples professing Islam. Numberless centuries before the revelation of the Koranic religion Persia had a remarkable culture and a highly developed civilization. In ancient times it was the cradle of thoughts and aspirations which illumined mankind with deep religious ideas radiating to Iranian and non-Iranian peoples. It was the centre of a mighty political organization which brought forth imperial influences reaching even to the far-off Balkans and stirring up the evolution of Greece. The arts and crafts of administration and of military organization were first developed to a paramount superiority by Persians in their defensive actions against their Northern foes, the ever-roaming restless hordes of the Central Asiatic plains, the Turanians. Their strategy and state-craft became a model to the Turks who adopted and further developed Persian achievements on the field of warfare.
Speculative and fanciful, but endowed with an uncommonly rich intellect, the history of Persian culture is one of the most splendid spectacles in the evolution of civilization. Every external influence which has enriched their mental store in the course of their history, became blended with their character, which augmented, embellished and variegated, has still in its innermost recesses retained an irredicable fascination for the spiritual, the fantastic, the extravagant, and the artistic. Islam, with its matter of fact theology, grew through contact with the Persian intellect into a vivid transcendentalism which reared a metaphysics, the exuberant foliage of - which threatened to crush its very roots and foundations. Islamic doctrine even in its most sober aspects gained an allegoric meaning in the eyes of Persians with whom everything was so highly spiritualized that contact with reality was often lost. Islam suffered more heresies at the hands of Persians than of all other races professing the religion of the Prophet. The dogmatism of Semitic Islam blossomed into metaphysical speculations in which lie
embedded the memories of Persian mental history. We therefore find that the same old theme crops up again and again in a new garment and under a new name and is always hailed with boundless enthusiasm.
In modern times a movement which has rapidly gained ground not only in the Fast but also in Europe and America and which has become a religion supposedly professed by millions has its roots in Persia. A new religion has arisen, a religion of humanity, a universal creed for the whole of mankind which in its present form is not only a factor of social and perhaps of political importance in Persia, but to judge by its literature written in English, seems to have been enthusiastically accepted by many Americans. The religion of Bahiism is a characteristic example of the Persian spirit. It is a remarkable phenomenon that in countries which show such a deep contrast in cultural matters as America and Persia, this religion has made such an amazing progress. This alone would justify our interest in its study. It is known that after the death of the Prophet Muhammad, the Muslim. community soon split asunder into hostile parties which in the course of time developed into distinct theological sects: the Sunnis and the Shiites, the latter being the partisans of Ali. According-to the Shiite view Muhammad appointed Ali to succeed him as the spiritual head of Islam but his rights were usurped by the first three. Caliphs (Abu Bakar, Omar, and Othman). The Shiites of course do not approve of and do not believe in the legality of the election of a Caliph, as this office, or as they call it, the Ima'mate, is inherent in Ali and his descendants. It was conferred by God first upon the Prophet, then upon Ali by the Prophet and afterwards on. Ali's descendants. It has, therefore, nothing to do with popular choice or approval. The Caliph of the Sunnis is an outward, visible, defender of the faith; the Imam of divinely ordained successor of the Prophet, perfections and spiritual gifts, whom all the Shiites is the endowed with all the faithful must obey, whose decision is absolute and final, whose wisdom is superhuman, and whose words are authoritative. The Imámites are descendants of Ali's son Husayn who according to popular
belief had married the daughter of the Persian-Sassanian king, Yazdigird III, and who died a martyr's death at Kerbela (A.D. 68o). This explains the affection in which the Iiiia'ms are held in Persia, since they are regarded as the direct descendants not only of the Prophet but also of the royal house of Sassan. The Imimites are divided into the Isma'ilis or adherents of the seven Ima'ms, and the Ithna Ashariya or adherents 'of the twelve Ima'ms. We are mostly concerned with the latter here. Iina'm left no male issue, but as the world an Iina'm, the Shiites of the sect of the twelve century-
last lina'm never died but only retired from resides in a fabulous The twelfth cannot do without Inia"ns-the state believed that the mortal ken and town called Jabulkaamong his faithful disciples from where he will issue forth in the fullness of time to do justice among mankind. He will appear as the Ima'm Mahdi, the God-directed, whose messianic advent every Shiite is eagerly expecting. It is held that since the disappearance of the Ima'm two main periods have passed : (a) tile minor occultation (ghaibat-i-sughra) A:H. 26o-329 (A. D. 873-942) during which four intermediaries conimunicat- ed his instructions who were called the Bdb, or gate, as-they permitted entrance to the will of the Itnim; (b) the major occultation (ghaibat-i-kubra) during which no intercourse, not even indirect, was possible with the Ima5m. At the end of the 19th century Sheikh Ahmed al-Ahsai revived the idea that amongst the Shiites there must always be one perfect man capable of serving as a channel of grace between the absent Imim. and his church. Thus such personages as were convinced of their superhuman faculty and Godly inspiration may consider themselves as intermediaries, as gates so to say, to the know- ledge of the absent ImAm. In the ioth century a certain Ash- Slialmaghani ibil Abi Azakir had suffered death under the Caliph Ar-Ra'diii for i a teaching heretical doctrines which included -among others the tenet of transmigration of souls. Sheikh Ahmed and his successor, Seyyid Kazini of Rasht, did not however make use of the title Bib, but their conception of the 'perfect Shiite' was identical with the idea connoted by this title. ... religion of Persia since the )16th ... assu ng this same title of Ba'b nd for ...
The tenets of the Sheikhi school may be summarized as' follows : Sheikh Ahmed believed that the body of man was composed of parts derived froni each of the nine heavens and the four elements; that the grosser elemental part perished irrevoc- ably at death and that only the more subtle celestial portion would appear at the resurrection. He named the subtle body : Jism huwarkilya (which seems to be derived from a Greek word, perhaps Hercules?) and believed it to be similar in substance to the forms in the world of similitudes. He denied that the Prophet's material body had, on the occasion of his night journey to heaven, moved from the spot where it lay in a trance. He believed himself to be under the special guidance of the TniAnis. He regarded the Ima'ms as creative forces and based his thesis on dialectics. For God is spoken of in the Koran (23.T4.,) "the best of Creators"; consequently He cannot be the sole creator. He went so far in his ultra-Shiite tendencies that he interpreted the words of the first chapter of the Koran : iyydka nabudu (Thee do we worship) as referring to Ali.
After the death of Sheikh Ahmed, Hajji Seyyid Kazim, of Rasht was unanimouslv recognized as the leader of his sc hoot. Kazim, did not, nominate a successor.- According to Ba'bi historians he had hinted that the transitional state of things under which he and his master Sheikh Ahmed had assumed the guidance of the faithful was drawing to a close, and- that a brighter light was about to shine forth from the horizon of the spiritual world. From whatever quarter the sun of truth shall arise it will irradiate all horizons and render the mirrors of believers' hearts capable of receiving the effulgence of the lights of wisdom. The Sheikhis were anxiously expecting the appearance of some one who -shoul assume the leadership of their party. One of thein, Mulla Husayn of Bushrawayh proceeded to Shirfiz, and on his arrival there paid a visit to Mirza Ali Muhammad, with whom, lie had becolne acquainted at Kerbela- and who was also a staunch adherent of the school.' Mirza Ali Muhammad learning of the death of Kfizim, announced his divine mission, and adduced in support of his claims, the commentary on the Sura of Joseph. ' I have closely followed the histories of Bfibism. and ]3ahfiism translated, edited and ably expounded by the late Prof. Browne.
Mulla Husayn of Bushrawayh was soon convinced of the truth -Of the young man's assertion and heralded the advent of the new
a n of leader, who assumed the title of 'B'b'. Mulla Husay Bushrawayh became the gate of the gate and the first letter or the first to believe. The rapidity with which the movement spread was wonderful. Representatives of all classes hastened to tender their allegiance to the young Seer of Shirfiz, but it was from the old Sheikhi party that the most eminent supporters of the new faith were recruited. The followers of the Ba'b were called 135bis. A number of the Sheikhis however, refused to recognize him and adhered to another representative of the doctrine, Haiji Muhammad Karim Kha'n; and a fierce quarrel ensued between the two parties. The orthodox Sheikhis proved to be the foremost and most implacable enemies of the Bibis and their relentless persecutors. There was very little difference between the preachings of Mirza Ali Muhammad called the 'Bib,' and those of Hajji Muhammad Karim, since each claimed to be neither more nor less than the intermediary between the absent ImAm and his followers, exactly in the same way as were the fouroriginal gates who bad served as channels of communica- tion between the Twelfth Inia'm and his followers during the period of the minor occultation.
It was in 1844 that the new light arose on the horizon of the Shiites, but it was bitterlv challenged by the followers of other 'lights' who claimed an equally valid heavenly inspiration, although their success among mankind still continued to be determined bv mundane factors. The historical importance of any idea is not determined by its intrinsic merits, or its alleged divine origin, but often depends on the skill with which it is adapted by its expounders to suit local conditions. The history of Bibism. a new religion arising out of the soil of Persian Shiism, with its appeal to the imaginative, the heroic persever- ance of its martyrs, the unscrupulous machinations by which each faction assailed its antagonists, and the final adaptation of the doctrine to the tastes and predilections of modern minds corroborates this old maxim of history.
The Bab was only 27 years of age at the time of his mani- festation. The sensation created by his advent frightened the
ulemas, and they induced the Government to arrest him and after a trial to condemn him to imprisonment '. This action on the part of the Persian Government added to his fame, and gave impetus to the proselytizing efforts of his followers. The clash with the intolerant followers of orthodoxy soon provoked reprisals which led to bloody conflicts. Mulla Husayn of Bushrawayh and Hajji Muhammad Ali took shelter in an old fortress in Mazenderfin which had to be taken by storm after a siege Of 7 months; revolts and risings of the followers of the Bib occurred at Zanjan, ~ Yazd and Niriz which were put down with great cruelty on the part of Government. -.The spread of the new creed was amazing. - In the course of 6 years the whole of Persia, was filledwith Bfibis,-.a clear proof that the idea appealed to the imaginative Persians. The revolutionary attitude of the BAbis gained many adherents among the peasants who were dissatisfied with the economic situation in Persia, and the Government was compelled to try to crush the movement at its root. The lenient treatment accorded to the.Bib up till then was abandoned and he was sentenced to death on the charge of high treason and was executed at Tabriz in 11850. This was followed by a vigorous persecution of his followers. Finally in 1852, when an -attempt' at the life of the Shah was perpetuated by~ some of the BAbis, the whole sect was violently sulppressed.~ The beautiful poetess Kurrat ul Ayn and many others-, innocent of all complicity in the conspiracy, were tormented and cruelly murdered. Some of the initiates fled to Baghdad, and a branch of Bfibis arose from this small gr I oup'of exiles. 'They modified the doctrine~ and developed it into a forin more acceptable 'to those who had no sympathy for' the exuberant fancies. of the Persian mind. Among these fugitives there. was, ajad, called Mirza Yahya who was such,an enthusiastic believer - in the Bib's manifestation that he had travelled across the whole of, Persia with his half-brother' Mirza Husayn Ali to see the Ba'b. The Ba'b heard of Mirza Yahya's zeal and devotion, and declared that in him was fulfilled the prophecy long current in Shiite tradition in the form of a conversation between,~Ali and Xumayl "regarding the: coming of, .eternity.',-' -The B'b conferred a light shining from- the dawn of"
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o the particular teachings differ only in outward form according t on Mirza Yahva the title of Subh-i-Ezel (the dawn of eternity),' gave hini. his own ring and authorized him to develop theneeds of the time. The Bfib is also considered to be one of these philosophy of Ba'bism as he thought fit, and appointed him asmanifestations (the IsmAili sect has seven incarnations of the his own successor. Deity, called Nfitik, Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Christ, On the BAb's death Subh-i-Ezel was unanimously recognisedMuhammad and IsmAil), and the party of Subh-i-Fzel continued as the spiritual head of the sect. But his half-brother who hadto revere him as such, while the followers of Bahfiullah looked received the name of Baha'ullah, the Splendour of God, came intoupon Bahfiullah as this manifestation. It is incumbent on the greater proininence owing to the retiring habits and also onprophets to use the language appropriate to his audience. It account of the extreme youth of the leader himself. Otherwill be different for little children, or for young men or- for men claimants to the leadership also arose but did not gain anyof mature age. The prophet's words must not therefore be taken following. The two brothers lived in peace and liarinony attoo literally, but must be explained with reference to the actual Baghdad, where the Turkish Government had permitted them tocircumstances in which they are uttered. This is the justifica'- reside and where they had niany followers. Here the originaltion of an allegorical interpretation which is so dear to the Shiite doctrine underwent many changes, Bahdullah conducted a secretmind. The Isma'ili sect was equally prone to explain away the but successful propaganda in Persia. He matured his ideas forliteral meaning of revealed scriptures; when the Kora'n says, that the future, and gradually remodelled the tenets for which theJesus had no father, the interpretation is that he received instruc- niartyrs in Persia had sacrificed their lives. The circumstancestions from no trustworthy teacher : when it says that he raised in Baghdad gave hini a wider horizon and this compelled him tothe dead, it signifies that he brought knowledge. to dead under- take a broader view. He retired for two years to the hills of tanding. The BAbis handled this allegorical interpretation
festation took place in 126o A. H.), he was persecuted and put to death. In order to prevent mankind from falling -into the same error lie emphasized that even his manifestation was not the last and that others would again come in future ages to.b.ring new revelations suited to new circumstances and altered conditions.
The theorv of evolution seems to be embodied in a theoloIlly which believed in a succession of prophethood all manifesting the one and the same Universal Intelligence but under diverse conditions and aspects. This view, which is apt to make Balbism a sympathetic doctrine even to modern rationa- lists, was not, however, the source of inspiration for the innumer- able martyrs who died for Ba'bism. What attracted them to the new creed even at the cost of their lives was the nivstic doctrine of Ba'bism which was full of transcendental corres- pondences and equivalents between names based on numerical values of letters., and of the theory of divine manifestation.
Almost all the constituent elements of BAbisin had their source in the mediseval heresies of Persian origin. The nation instinctively cherished and clung to these mystic doctrines --in which it found a peculiar charm.
Muhammad very soon discarded the title of the BAb and assumed that of the Point (Nuqta). There is a spurious tradi- tion according to which Ali is supposed to have said that all that was in the KorAn was contained implicitly in the opening chapter, and all that was in this chapter was contained in the first line (Bismillah), and finally in turn in the initial B of the Bismillah. and this in turn in the point which stands under the Arabic B, and Ali is also supposed to have said "I am the point which stands under the B."
Mirza Muhammad was henceforth called the Primal Point, or His Holiness the First Point: the manifestation of the Primal Will. The Bfibis believed that the primal will is incarnated in the intermediaries between man and God. In one sense it is identical with God, for a tradition says that whosoever visited Husayn in his tomb was as one who hath visited God on His Throne. So likewise the BAb said "Oh Ali, none hath known
God save I and thee; and none hath known me save God and thee, and none hath known thee save God and I." Ba'bi mentality may be appreciated by the following extracts from the Nuqtatu1-Kdf., one of the earliest and most authentic histories : 'as the same mirror may at different times reflect different objects, so the same individual mav successively become
[page 64 ]
the returns (or recurrences) of different prototypes.' When Mirza Muhammad, speaking more freely, as his followers became more receptive of divine mysteries, declared himself to be the Point, Mullah Husayn ceased to be only the Gate of Gate and became the actual Gate; and when he was killed,* his brother Mirza Muhammad Hasan in turn received the title. But this is not all. Mirza Ali Muhammad was first of all, Balb, or Gate, then Zikr or Reminder, than Nuqta or Point. For a while Mullah Muhammad Ali of Barfurush became the Point, and Mirza Ali Muhammad relapsed into being his Ba'b and during this time wrote nothing. "Sometimes it happens," so runs the Nitqtatu'l-Kdf, "that the Point becomes quiescent in effulgence and that this effulgence becomes manifested in'the Gate, just as the apostle of God did not wield the sword but his wrath was made in anifested in the for m of Ali.- - But afte I r the death of God's apostle, Ali became the Point and Heaven of Will, and Hasan became the Gate, and the Earth of Devotion, while Husay n and Salma'n and the rest were the Letters of the Living. So likewise in speaking of the Islamic cycle of prophethood, so long as Muhammad was alive, Ali declared himself to be onlv a servant amongst his servants, but that ' so soon as'the Prophetic Mirror (by which is meant the sovereign form of Muhammad) was shattered to pieces, in less time than a twinkling of aneye, it (the Sun of Truth) arose in the mirror of Saintship (saintship represents the esotericespect of religion) so that Ali thus became the Mirror.or 'Manifestation' of the Primal Will and the Proof of God upon earthwas ableto say; I am Adam, Noah, Abraham,. Moses, Jesus and Muhammad." All theoph.anies are identical in essence and differ only in circumstance, just as the sun which shines to-day is the same as that which shone yesterday or that which will shine to-morrow'. These lights of the firma- ment of Prophethood and Saintships, like the celestial luminaries,
have a rising and a setting, a manifestation and an occultation." It is obvious that all these notions can be explained only by means of allegorical comparisons with the phenomena of nature with which they really have nothing in common. A figurative expression takes here the place of rational thinking in terms of concepts corresponding to realities As to the eschatology of Bibism, it denies bodily resurrec- tion but the spirit of the deceased may continue to take an interest in his earthly affairs, and some passages in Bibi writings also refer to the transmigration of souls, while the return to the life of his world is conceived in a symbolic sense as a reflection upon a inirror. However vague the Ba'bi doctrine may be on certain points it is essentially dogmatic and ev ery utterance of the manifestation of the period must be accepted without demur. The Kitdb-i-Aqdas (the "Most Holy Book") of Baha'ullah begins with "The first thing which God has presented unto His servants is knowledge of the Day, spring of His Revelation and the Dawning-place of His Command , which is the Station of His Spirit in the world of Creation and Command. Whosoever attaineth unto this hath attained unto all go
od and whosoever is debarred therefrom is of the -people of error, even though- he produce all kinds of good deeds." The Ba'b and his immediate followers were not inclined to tolerance. According to the 'Baygn,' no unbelievers were to be suffered to dwell in the five principal provinces of Persia, and everywhere they were, as far as possible, to be subjected to restrictions, and kept in a position of inferiority. The Ba5bis are strongly antagonistic to Sfifis on account of their individualism and 'inner light,' and to the orthodox Musulmans because they did not acknowledge in the Manifestations the fulfilment of Islam.
A most characteristic feature of 13a'bism is the belief in the intrinsic value of the letters of the Alphabet. The algebraic correspondences have puzzled men since the time of Pythagoras. In Muslim history it was the Hurufis who first attached magic power to numbers and- tried to derive secret meanings out of the numerical value of the letters of the Alphabet. Their system was eagerly taken up and elaborated by the Turkish Bekta'shi writers. The Isma'iliya sect believed in the number seven. The Deity had seven incarnations, between each of the seven mcarna I , tions there arose seven ImAms, each Ima'm'was at the head of a heptad; seven operations were required in the making of a convert and so on. The A[gebraic correspondences. developed by the
tem is practically built
-Th irrahmdn, irrahim (in the name,of God the merciful, the com- passionate) comprises ig letters in Arabic script which are the
'Manifestation' of the Point under, the B, just as the whole Koran is the further Manifestation on a plane of greater plura- lity of the Bismillah. The number- ig became a kind of a sacred number, a fundamental basis of the BAbi doctrine by which the truth of its tenets could be, algebraically proved. -The Arabic word for one is Wdhid, and the numerical value of the letters composing _ the word, give the sum (6 + I + 8 + 4) Of ig. This unity of 19 in turn. manifests -itself as je.19_~36i, )ihicli :is: ~t~e ~'a I ~thiii ~sK~ullu ~ha ; the letters, are numerically equivalent (20+30+3O0+T0)=.36o to which by adding "theone which underlie.9 all plurality.." we get 361, the number of- all things, which. again is the square of -The number ig was made the basis of all divisions of tin e, money, etc. The Ba'bi's idea of a coinage having ig as its basis has however been abandoned along,with many other impracticable ordinances. Thus the Ba'bi year comprised 19 solar months of ig days each, to which intercalary days are added between the i8th and igth'months. The last month is consecrated to fasting. The, unity is also manifested in the divine attribute Hayy, the Living, which equals 8+io=i8, and with the one which underlies ' all plurality makes 1.9. The BAb together,with his 18 disciples constituted the letters of the Living (ig).The choice of Mirza Yahya by the BAb as his successor was,probably determined by the fact that the numerical value of the name Yallya was 36, a multiple of 18 on which account he was also called Wdhid which is numerically equivalent to 28, the number of letters constituting the Arabic alphabet. _T-hg town Adria- norde. wh-em the Bfibis were exiled; was called by them the land of mvsterv: because the svIlables i~- -the fi~-m-~-6F-tYe-t-ow-n Ii-a-d
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the same numerical value (26o) whic!) ~Corr ~onds to the~ N-...and herald -This announcement like the previous announce-' in ~-vvhich Fthe tw~elt 1 .........inent of a similar nature, was not accepted and'recognized un-- .........aniniously. Some, even among those who -originally belonged This doctrine is full of metaphysical transcendentalism, and even such reforms as savour of utility, such as the amelioration to the circle of the BAb, vehemently opposed the new manifesta- 'Of the position of women or the prohibition of chastisement of tion of God. A fierce and'disgraceful 'quarrel attended with children are entirely based on mystical considerations. For.... Violence broke out between the rival parties, until finally the example, the Bfib taught that the future manifestation of God.. Turkish Government had to intervene in I the fight between the shall first appear as a child, it would therefore constitute a grave two brothers. The hostile factions were segregated and exiled sin for any one to treat the august infaiit 1jarshly, and lience separately. Subli-i-Ezel, who had been ' nominated by the -en shotild cease. .........Prii point as his successor, was transferred to Famagusta in it was necessary that tile chastisement (f cliddi .........nal The play oil words formed another iniportant element in the.... the island of Cyprus, while Balialullall was sent to Akka. To philosophy of Ba'bism. .........each of the factions four.adherents of the opposite group were .........attached, so that the Turkish Government' could be kept The conflict between Mirza Muhammad the Ba'b apd Hajji......... informed ~ regarding the 'activities of both the parties. The Muhammad Karim KhAn regarding the status of the Interme-....... followers of Bahalullah put to death all the four Ezelis attached. diary to the hidden Imaim clearly shows, however, tile reaction of external factors on the growth . of a revealed religion. It was to their party. The hostility between the two Ba'bi factions .........continued with pen and dagger alike. The sect of the- Ezelis not the intrinsic value of the rival doctrines which decided tile which had adhered to 'the original doctrine 'in its rigid and issue, but the influence exerted by the respective leaders oil their contemporaries. The growth of a doctrine and its ulti-... narrow form, graduallv declined in influence while the followers .........a in strength. Balia'ullah succeeded in .........of Bali'ullah gained mate success is determined by the simplest human factors, I .......... getting recognized by a large number of people as the,manifes- anthropological and social. The fact that the social factors were .........tation of God, and he gradually put the 1~6'b in the background of greater importance than the transcendental and metaphysical. as compared with his own heavenly splendour. The name of
nature of the doctrines was clearly recognized by the new leader the sect was changed from that of Ba'bism to Bahá'ísm. Tile, BallAullah, who by his carefully conducted propaganda suc-..... doctrines of -the Bfib were regarded only as preparatory and ceeded in Attaining a supremacy over the more dogmatic and..... provisional, while Bahaullah was authorized to give them a final single-minded Subh-i-Ezel'. .........shape and sanction. And Bahiullah made full use of his A new period in the history of the movement set in with........ authority. The B&bi religion was firmly rooted in Persian the rise of Bahfiullah. The little party of emigrants at Baghbad Sliiitism and it had no chance of I making proselytes outside the were too near the Persian frontier, and the Persian Governinent .........Shiite world. Bahfiullah discarded all restricting metaphysical requested the Porte for their transfer to Adrianople in 1864... peculiarities. He also modified the attitude of 'uncompromising Here BaliAullah publicly announced that it was he in whom...... hostil~y to the orthodox Musul-mans, and to the Shah of -Persia God had become manifest in accordance with the prediction of... which had animit-edthe U and the Ba'b. He strictly adhered to the doctrines of Ba'bism, and. eve VmPathetic attitude towards all likel- converts. He i........n p__- _ although there is some evidence to show that he had at one time d`evelo~ed the ethical side of the teaching, and in Fi-s-l~-tters: to considered himself to be merely the successor of the Ba'b, he.. potentates he used a gentle and patient tone. He had a clear now assumed a new role: he was the promised one, -the real..... grasp of the aspirations'of the human. mind in the 2oth century,'- manifestation of God, to whom the 13a'b was only a forerunner.. and included in his teachings ~a very wide scheme of social
reform in a most synipathetic way, but with the simplistic views of a dreamer. Anti-alcoholisni, unemployment help, women's suffrage, reforin of criminology, socialism, local auto- noiny in political administration, universal language, interna- tional union, and general peace, all figured in his programme. Nor was Balliullah Aevoid of th!~__power of clairvoyan . In the* -year 1869 lie wrote to Napoleon III rebuking him for _4s Vill-iwfi-i-Ji-he had treated a fo-rin-eri-e from him. 0 owing sf~-rn-wariii~n-g--7--T-11~-doiiigs will throw thy kingdom intoconfusion; sovereignty shall pass from thy hands to requite thee for thy deeds, and thus thou shalt find thyself in grievous loss.Convulsions shall seize all peoples in yonder land, unless thou dost arise in this cause and in this straight path follow the spirit. Hath thy poilip made thee vainglorious? By my life, it shall not endure, nay, it shall pass away, unless thou dost cling unto this strong cord.We behold abasement hasten ing upon'thy heels and thou art yet of them that are heedless'. It is characteristic that an English Balia'i writer believes firmly that the debacle of France in .1870 would hive been averted if Napoleon had adopted the noble cause and the straight.path of the Balia'i.
Bahfiullah was by no means led by Germanophile motives 'in beholding abasement hastening upon the heels' of Napoleon. In the Kitdb-i-Aqdas which was begun in Adrianople and finished- in Akka, he sent a similar stern admonition to the Emperor of Germany:m-
'0 King of Berlin . . . Recollect the one who was greater than thee in station (Napoleon III), and whose position was higher than thine. - Where is he? and where are his posses- sions ? Be admonished and be not of those who sleep. He cast the tablet of God behind him when we informed him of what had befallen us from the hosts of oppression and thus dis- grace beset him from all sides until he returned to the dust in great loss. 0 King, think deeply concerning him as well as about those like unto thee who conquered cities and ruled over servants of God-and -God brought them down from palaces to graves. Be warned and be of those who are mindful'.
'0 Banks of the River Rhine, we have seen you drenched in gore because the swords of retribution were drawn against you. You shall have another turn. And we hear the lamenta- tion of Berlin, although it be to-day in manifest glory.'
The English writer alluded to above says : "during the period of German success in the Great War of 1914-18, and especially during the last German offensive in the spring of 1918, this well-known prophecy was extensively quoted by the opponents of the BahAi movement in Persia in order to dis- credit BahAullali; but when the forward sweep of the victorious Germans was suddenly transformed into a crushing and over- whelining disaster, the efforts of these enemies of the BaliAi cause recoiled on themselves, and the notoriety which they had given to the prophecy became a powerful means of enhancing the reputation of Bahiullah."
A message of consolation is addressed to Persia in the Kitdb-i-Akdas
'O land of Ta (Teheran) be not sorrowful from anv cause. God liath made thee the dawning place of the joy of themorld. If He will, He will bless thy throne with one who will rule with justice and gather together the sheep-of God-which have been sc~!Jttere by the.,wolves. Verily lie will treat the people of Baha' wih joy and gladness. So, he is of the essence of the people in the sight of God.'
'Rejoice, for God hath made thee a Horizon of light, because in thee was born the Dawning Place of the Manifestation. Soon affairs will be changed in thee and a republic of men shall rule over thee. Verily the countenance of Grace ~ will - not cease to behold thee with the eyes of love. Soon peace will overtake thee after commotion. Thus it liath been decreed in the Book of Wonders.'
Turkey, which had given shelter to Baha'ullali and his followers, did not fare better at his hands ~ than France and Germany. There are several passages: in Ahe Kitd-i-Aqdas which predict the downfall of the Ottomans,'but evidently his wrath was~directed against this kingdom, ~;Ithdn' ~whi&a handful of dust is greater before God,' because it did not take up his cause in a way which would have satisfied him, ~Thou didst
unite with the Ruler of Persia for doing me harm,' so lie wrote to Ali Pasha, 'although I had collie to you from the Dawning Place of the Almighty, the Great, with a cause which refreshed the eyes of the favoured ones of God. Didst thou think that thou couldst put out the fire which God hath enkindled in the Universe? Its blaze and flame will be increased. Soon it will encompass the world and its inhabitants. Soon the land of inartyrs (Adrianople) will be changed and will pass out of the hands of the King" and commotion shall -appear in the districts and affairs will be in confusion because of what haili happened to tbose captives' (BahAullah and his companions). The Turks cared little for the threats of l3alliullah. The Sliiite -element in his doctrine did not appeal to them, and his cosmopolitan teachings found deaf cars among the awakening nationalists. The Government had an eye on him, and when his quarrel with Subh-i-Ezel led to viol ' ence, it prevented further blood-shed by separating the rival factions, and Baha'ullah never attailied any political power in Turkey.
His exhortations sound overbearing and egoistic if we dare doubt his infallible prophethood and venture to judge them as those of a normal mortal. He addressed Americans in the Kitdb-i-Aqda,5 some fifty years ago in the following words : '0, Rulers of America, Presidents and Governors of the' Republic therein, hear the call from the Dawning Place on High. There is no God but me, the speaker and the Omniscient : Bind up the broken limb with the hands of justice, and break the sound limb of the oppressor with the rod of the Command of your Lord, the Ruler, the Wise.'
In the writinzs of Bah6ullah we notice a clearness of style whi in strikLing contrast to the rugged and unin-t-effl-ObTe character of Bfibi li tu-re~Through him God addresses His creatures, proclaiming His love for them, teaching them His attributes, making His will known, antimucing His laws for their guidance and pleading for their love, allegiance and service. In his writings the form of expression frequently changes. Sometimes it is evident that the man himself is speaking, then of This prophecy has not yet been fulfilled, for Adrianople is still in the hands the Turks a6r ,,, -
without a break the writing continues as if God Himself were speaking in the first person.
His mission was to bring about unity of all mankind in and through God. He said
'Of the Tree of Knowledge the all-glorious fruit is this exalted word : of one tree are all ye the fruits and of one bough the leaves. Let no man glory in this that he loves his country, but let him rather glory in this that he loves his kind.'
It was this ethical and humanitarian spirit, rather than the dry metaphysical doctrines of Bahfiism which gained new followers all over the world, while those who were allured by the glaniour of mysticism still found ample scope in it. In Akka, where BahAullah lived as an exile, people flocked to see him, and by this intercourse with the world his doctrines broadened. He dropped most of the minor restriction imposed by the Bfib, which were dictated in many cases by his personal tastes and feelings. Such were the prohibition of smoking and the eating of onions, the regulations as to clothing, forms of salutation, the use of rings, perfumes, the names by which children might be named and so on. The laws of Bahfiullah, with the excep- tion of the law of inheritance, are much simpler in character and are such as may be enforced in practice. For example, smoking is not noLy unusg~,I~on ~the followers of Bahiullah, while the Ezelis still maintain the prohibition as stLictly ever.
In the nineties, a Syrian Christian converted to Balla'ism, Ibra'him. George Khair-ullah, settled in the United States, and started active propoganda in America on behalf of the new revelation. He delivered a large number of lectures oil BahAism-and published a number of books which were favour- ably received. The monotonous factory life of over-indus- trialized America harbours a naive sentimentalism which finds pleasure and enthusiasm in all humanitarian ideas, and it was not surprising that Bahfiism. developed a vigourous branch- Footnote:
*While acting as an interpreter to Abdul Bahfi during his tour in Hungary, J remember that I once offered him cigarettes, and he carefully selected one an smoked it with apparent enjoyment.
movement in America, marked, by the production of a copious but shallow literature.
Baha'ullah died in 1892. He nominated as his successor his eldest son Abbas, also called Abdul BaliA, servant of Baha'. Balia'ullali had conferred on his son, in accordance with the usual practice in his community, the sonorous title Ghusn-i- Azam,' the most mighty branch ; the younger son Mirza Muliaininad Ali was called 'Gliusn-i-Akbar,' the most great branch. Abdul Balia"s life was accompanied by thrilling roniance. He was born at Teheran before midnight oil the 23rd May, 1844 (5 Djuniidlia'tula, 126o) in the very same hour in which the Ba'b declared his mission.
He was eight years of age when his father was thrown into prison. On one occasion he saw his father moving along the prison yard heavily shackled, his neck bowed under the weight of a heavy steel collar, his body bent by iron chains. This awful sight created a lasting impression oil the mind of the bc~y. At Baghdad, long before the manifestation of God became clear to Balliullah, the son suddenly felt a conviction that it was his father in whom the divine spirit sliall shine forth. Sixty years later he dictated to his secretary_ hisimpressions of that period in ,the following- words:
"I am the servant of the Blessed Perfection Balla'ullah. In Baghdad I was a child. Then and there He announced to me the Words and I believed in Him. As soon as He proclaimed to me the word, I threw myself at His holy feet and implored and supplicated Him to accept my blood as a sacrifice in His pathway. What greater glory can I conceive than to see this lieck chained for His sake, these feet fettered for His love, this body mutilated th If in
~X LOWD. LU Lhe dePtns ot the sea for His cause. reality we are His sincere lovers, if in reality I am His sincere servant, than I must sacrifice my life, nay all, at his Blessed Threshold.
Froill. this time his friends began to call him : the mystery of God; a title by which he was known during the residence in Baghdad. Several wonderful stories are related about the innate sa,gacity with which while yet a boy lie solved the most intricate metaphysical problems. A curious story is current about the
circumstances of his marriage. For a-long time he showed no inclination for marriage, and no one understood the reason for this. Afterwards,it became known that there was a girl who was destined to become his wife, one whose birth came about through the blessing which the Ba'b had given to her parents in Ispahan. They had no children although the wife was longing for a child. On hearing this the Bfib gave the husband ~ an apple and told him to share it with his wife. After they had eaten of that apple, it soon became apparent that their long cherished hopes of parenthood were about to be fulfilled, and in due course a daughter was born to them. This daughter was the elected wife of Abdul Bahfi. In the constant odour of sanctity and miracles, Abdul Bahfi was brought up as the future leader of the community.
In the face of the clear testament of Bahfiullah little room was left for dissension, and yet a conflict over the same old principles soon broke out among the followers. The question was again whether Bahfiism was a final revelation in which the possibility of new innovations ceased with the passing of the Manifestation of God, or whether Abdul Baha' was entitled to further inspirations of his own. , ~ In the Kitdb-i-A qdas Bahiullah himself had explicitly, -stated that 'whosoever lays claim to' any authority to proinulgat ' e fresh revelations before the completion of a millenium is assuredly a liar and an imposter'. Abdut Bahfi's - brothers and some of . the. leading Bah6is therefore strenuously resisted the claim of Abdul Bahfi to promulgate, new doctrines or fresh. ordinances, on the ground that a millenium- of occultation must pass before a new exposition of the divine will would be necessary. Thus the BahAi religion split . into two hostile parties fighting in Persia as well as in America an'd-- other countries of the world. Ibr6him Khair-ullah espoused the cause of the conservative party, and consequently Abdul Baha' was also obliged to send missionaries to America to counteract, Khair-ullah's propaganda. ..The strife between the, different Bfibi ~ factions, the heads of all of whIch -claim aTir t divine mspi:~a-tionis i-diiifiguring Ew ii -the Fis th~,E zin -t qv -~- ent, and is an insoluble ~ contradiction in Ats -baak- Assuming: the BAb. to have -been divinely inspired (and this
possible in design and workmanship. It should stand in a large garden, surrounded by a number of accessory buildings devoted to educational, charitable and social purposes so that the worship of God in the temple may always be closely associated with reverent delight in the beauties of nature and practical work. Such temples are being built in IshkAb6d, Bombay and Wilmette on lake Michigan near Chicago.
Abdul Baha' lived at Akka, under the strict supervision of the Turkish Government. He was visited from all parts of the world by ardent followers or curious sightseers. After the Turkish revolution he was declared free and in 19TT lie under- took tours in Europe and America, delivering lectures, answering questions and expounding the doctrines of his religion of unity. The reception accorded to him must have deeply impressed him, and probably created an impression in his mind that his religion will soon be universal on earth. The universality of his teach- ing naturally attracted a large number of pacifists, suffragettes, esperantists, theosophists, prohibitionists, socialists and the ultra-liberals, while the mysterious effect,.which oriental dress, beauty of personal appearance and the unfamiliar music of oriental language never fail to produce on Western minds, drew others out of pure curiosity. He succeeded in establishing new centres -of -BahAis_n1 in Germany, France and elsewhere, while in America he gained a final ascendancy over the followers of his brother.
In Persia the persecution of BAbis and Bahfiis has_gradnally TE e 0 who ceased. e-re--are a few BASIs belongi g to th Id school, Ml themselves Kullu Shavis, and do not care about the quarrel between Ezelis and Balifiis, and a large but indeterminable number of BahAis proper. Lord Curzon in his book on "Persia and the Persian Question," published in x892, wrote : "the lowest estimates place the number of BAbis in Persia at half of a million. I am disposed to think from conversations with persons well qualified to judge that the total is nearer one million. They are to be found in every walk of life from the ministers and nobles of the Court to the scavenger or the groom, not the least arena of their activity being the Musalman priesthood itself. JU B6bism continues to grow at its present rate of pj~gress, a -time
may conceivably come when it will oust Mollaniiiiadaiiisin from This, I think it would be uiilikelv to do. did it appear upon the_:__roun-Cu~ner the fla- of a hostile faith. ut il~iT~e its recruit~ ~a~ won fr~m the best soldiers of the garrison whom it is attacking, there is greater reason to ~elieve that it may ultimately prevail." This prediction however was 1 not fulfilled; the movement after a phenomenal rise again subsided within normal limits. Abdul BahA survived the Great War, and saw a good deal
of his life-work come to fruition. The Bahá'ís set a good example of material work in transforming the barren Akka (Akbrab- ulbilfid) into a little garden. They organized extensive agricul- tural operations near Tiberias during the war, and secured a great supply of wheat by which a famine was averted. Since the. British occupation of Syria, Abdul BahA became the centre of a large circle listening to_!1lS__L11_UMiR4iP9_~s, and hundreds of visitors from the East and West flocked to his house. The British Government was so profoundly impressed -by Kvs_in~i~ character and his great work in the interest of peace and pros- perity of the people that they conferred on him a knighthood of the British Empire. When he departed from the earthly life in ig2i the British High Commissioner officially took part in his fumeral. - He died without inale issue. His grand-son Shauk-i- _Rabb:a~ni ~astu~dent of Oxford, was- vroclaimed as his succes.sor, but he was unable to im a group of foil _.- it is..not unlikely that the MUG -movement will ebobbotitAn-plati- t6des of uni~J_salism_._ A typical exanipl_eof -recent writings is furnishe&Vy_tNe_'F6-ok on 'the New Humanity' by Mirza Alimad Sohrab, the Secretary of Abdul Bahfi, in which the idea of universality is indiscriminately applied to such concepts as universal peace, universal patriotism,- universal language, universal opinion, universal dawn (?), universal age,' univer- sal newspaper, universal feminity,' universal painting and 'P. 181. "This is the age of women, for this very reason if for no other, it is a universal age." ' P. 290. "In her hands is the jar of star (scent) of the rose of understanding. An artist whiarred into my ear; "I would rather spend one hour with her than seventy years it a Saint."
literature, universal aviation and broadcasting, universal penance and so on. It is a work not devoid of charm but with- out the slightest basis of science or a positive back-ground of history.
The after-effects of the Great War in Persia are however not very conducive towards the growth of mysticism. In the West there was a decided reaction against materialism, in the East there was a movement towards positivism, a process which has its psychological as well as social reasons. Bahfiism is not likely to continue to exercise its old majzic influenm--on
is now more inclined to be captivated by the forward march of industrialism.Romance will pass away with the gro;thand the colour of life will dissolve into the gray haze of outward uniformity. Nothing is more cruel than realities, for even if they give contact with truth, they fail to bring happiness, the illusion of. pious hearts.
Water when analysed consists of two elements without taste and flavour, still it quenches the thirst and is the substance of life. Likewise every religion can be analysed into elements of myth, legends and popular lore; still it- quenches the thirst of man for guidance and truth and sustains him in his stumbling progress through errors and deficiencies in his slow approach to the harmony pervading the universe.