Two State Papers Bearing on the Removal of the Babis from Baghdad to Turkey
by E. G. Brownetranslated by E.G. Browne
published in Materials for the Study of the Babi Religion
Handtyped and proofread by Alan Couper, formatted by Jonah
TWO UNPUBLISHED CONTEMPORARY
The two following documents, which are of considerable historical interest, were most obligingly communicated to me by Monsieur A.L.M. Nicolas, at that time First Dragoman of the French Legation in Tihran, in March, 1902, and were accompanied by the following lines, written in Paris, on the 19th of that month.
"M'occupant depuis une dizaine d'années de l'étude de la Manifestation Béyânie, il m'a été donné de recueillir beaucoup de documents inédits pendant un long séjour en Perse.
"Seuls ceux qui regardent directement le Báb m'intéressent d'une facon immédiate: soit qu'ils concernent l'histoire, soit qu'ils se rapportent au dogme. J'estime cette tâche suffisante pour le moment, et je ne m'occuperai que par la suite de l'Imamat de Soubh-i-Ezel et de la seconde Manifestation divine en la personne de Béha.
"L'histoire que je prépare s'arrêtera donc à la fuite à Baghdad, ou plutôt aux exécutions qui suivirent l'attentat contre S.M. le Chah.
"Vous vous êtes, Monsieur, magistralement occupé de cette seconde partie de l'évolution Béyânie. Aussi crois-je vous être agréable et utile en vous communiquant deux pièces se rapportant au séjour des exilés à Baghdad. Ces deux pièces sont de la plus haute importance : elles démonstrent d'abord que le Gouvernement Persan a parfaitement sollicité du Gouvernement Ottoman l'extradition des fugitifs,
elles sont ensuite muettes sur la personne de Soubhi-i-Ezel, ce qui vous étonnera certainement: il semble, à la lecture de ces documents que, dès ce moment Mirza Housseïn Ali fut—sinon le chef—du moins la personnalité la plus marquante du parti.
"Les pièces originales sont de la main même de Mirza Saïd Khan, ex-Ministre des Affairs Étrangères. (Elles sont adressées à L'Ambassadeur à Constantinople). Les photographies faites par moi sont suffisantes pour reconnaître l'écriture. Le cachet se trouve naturellement au dos: c'est pourquoi il ne paraît pas sur les épreuves que je vous envoie. Elles se trouvaient toutes deux, collées sur carton percé à l'endroit du cachet au milieu d'un recueil assez considérable de pièces émanant de la même main Vezîrielle et relatives au diverses affaires soumises au Ministère. Deux autres lettres s'y trouvaient encore relatives aux Babis. L'une est un très court billet du Ministre à un correspondant inconnu dans lequel l'auteur affirme avoir essayé de rendre service aux sectaires, et s'étonne que ses démarches aient été dénaturées; la seconde est une longue lettre du grand Moujtehed de Tauris: dans un passage de cette lettre le prélat se fait fort de déraciner ce qu'il appelle l'hérésie.
"Je ne pause pas de me trouver, Monsieur, un intermédiarie plus compétent et plus autorisé que vous pour la publication de ces pièces, et je suis convaincu que le Journal de la Société Royale Asiatique s'empressera d'accueillir, présentés par vous, ces éclaircissements sur un point si intéressant de l'histoire qui nous passionne tous deux.
"Je tiens les clichés à votre disposition pour le cas où vous en aurez besoin.
"Veuillez agréer, Monsieur, mes salutations les plus empressées.
The documents in question are distinguished by the marks "A.6" and "A.7." I begin with the former, which is the shorter.
[eighteen lines of ARABIC TEXT]
"Although in a separate and detailed letter mention has been made of the letter of the Right Honourable Mírzá Buzurg Khán to Prince `Imádu'd-Dawla, and of the said Prince's letter to [His Majesty's] Most Sacred and Royal Presence, yet no reference is made to the sending of the originals or copies of these letters, because that detailed letter is so phrased that if you deem it expedient you can read it to their Excellencies Fu'ád Pasha and 'Alí Pasha, but had any explicit reference been made to the sending of the aforesaid originals or copies, perhaps you would not have considered it expedient to show them, whilst now it entirely depends on your own judgement. The originals of the aforesaid letters are enclosed in this packet. After perusing them you will consider the matter, and if it appears expedient you will show them exactly as they are or with some slight change and emendation. The object is that as the most emphatic Royal Command and Injunction hath been honoured by issue as to the removal and repression of these evil men1, or their arrest and the handing over of them to the officers of the illustrious Prince `Imádu'd-Dawla, or their removal from `Iráq-i-`Arab to some place which you regard as expedient, it may, if God so please, be duly and speedily fulfilled.
"Written on the 12th of Dhu'l-Hijja, 1278"
[entire page is ARABIC TEXT]
"After the carrying out of those energetic measures on the part of the Persian Government for the extirpation and extermination of the misguided and detestable sect of the Bábís, with the details of which Your Excellency is fully acquainted1, Praise be to God, by the attention of the Imperial mind of His most potent Majesty, whose rank is as that of Jamshíd, the refuge of the True Religion (may our lives be his sacrifice!), their roots were torn up. It was proper, nay, necessary, that not one of them should be suffered to survive, more especially such as had been overtaken by the bonds and captivity of the Government. But by chance, and through the ill-considered policy of former officials, one of them, to wit Mírzá Husayn 'Alí of Núr2, obtained release from the Anbár prison and permission to
1 Allusion is made to the great persecution of the
Bábís in Tihrán in the summer of 1852.
reside in the neighbourhood of the Shrines, whose rank is as that of God's Throne1, whither he departed. From that time until now, as your Excellency is aware, he is in Baghdád, and at no time hath he ceased from secretly corrupting and misleading foolish persons and ignorant weaklings. Sometimes, moreover, he hath put his hand to sedition and incitements to murder, as in the case of His most accomplished Reverence Mullá Aqá of Darband, whom they grievously wounded with intent to kill, though Providence permitted him to survive for some while; besides sundry other assassinations which took place. Yet had his affair not then reached the pitch which it hath now attained; nor had he gathered round himself so many disciples and followers as it is heard he hath done in these days; nor did he dare to display the ambitions which he harboured, or to surround himself with armed and devoted men when going hither and thither, or passing backwards and forwards, or remaining outside his lodging, or to encompass himself with this self-devoted crew. Besides the informations which have been acquired through numerous channels by the intermediary of persons of consideration and worthy of credence, a letter from the highly-placed and well-beloved of the Supreme Court Mírzá Buzurg Khán, Consul of the Persian Government resident in Baghdád, has reached the illustrious Prince `Imadu'd-Dawla, Governor of Kirmanshahan and its dependencies, while a representation has been made by the Prince above mentioned to the most beneficent Sacred and Imperial Presence, which depicts and portrays before our eyes these proceedings of Mírzá Husayn `Alí. In face of these proceedings, it would be a proof of the most complete negligence and lack of prudence on the part of the Persian Government
to disregard these acts which may produce such deplorable consequences, and not to set itself to seek some means to remedy or remove them.
`I see beneath the ashes the glow of fire,
"For the character and nature of this misguided sect in the dominions of the Persian Government, and their boldness and audacity in the most perilous enterprises have been repeatedly put to the proof, and it is clear that the principles of this new, false and detestable creed are based on two horrible things, first an extraordinary hostility and enmity towards this Islámic State, and secondly an incredible pitilessness and ruthlessness towards all individuals of this nation, and a readiness to lose their own lives in order to achieve this sinister object. But it is evident that, thanks be to God Most High, through the good dispositions and sincerity of the governors of the two Empires [Persia and Turkey], the developments of friendship and single-mindedness between these two powerful Islamic States have reached such a point that, alike in profit and loss, they have brought about complete participation and equality. How then should it be that the great statesmen of that Empire, after acquainting themselves with these matters, should grudge or withhold their united support and participation to the statesmen of this Sublime State [i.e. Persia] in taking the necessary measures for the removal of this [plague]? Therefore, in accordance with the Royal command, resistless as fate, of His Imperial Majesty, the Shadow of God, the Benefactor of all the protected provinces of Persia (may my
1 This celebrated verse is the first of several written by the Umayyad Governor of Khurásán, Nasr ibn Sayyár, as a warning to his sovereign on the eve of Abú Muslim's successful rebellion in A.H. 129 (A.D. 746- 7).
life be his sacrifice!), I your faithful friend have been ordered to convey these matters to Your Excellency's knowledge by means of a special messenger, and to instruct you without delay to seek an appointment with their most glorious Excellencies the [Ottoman] Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, and to set forth this matter in such wise as the friendship and harmony of these two Sublime States require, and as the character for benevolence and sound understanding of their Excellencies above mentioned suggests, and, having devoted the deepest and most careful consideration to all its aspects, to request of their extreme benevolence and disinterestedness the removal of this source of mischief from a place like Baghdád, which is the meeting-place of many different peoples and is situated near the frontiers of the protected provinces of Persia.
"This point is agreed upon in the view of our statesmen, that it will not do to leave Mírzá Husayn `Alí and his intimate followers there, or to allow fuller scope to their mischievous ideas and probable actions. One of two courses appears proper in the eyes of our statesmen, to wit that if the statesmen of the Ottoman Empire are prepared to cooperate fully in this important matter with the statesmen of this country, without showing any personal consideration for those irreligious and mischievous persons, and, as is fully hoped and expected, do not introduce any discussion foreign to this question into this field wherein stands the foot of State expediency, then the best thing is that explicit orders should be given to His Excellency Námiq Pasha the governor of the Province of Baghdád, while on this side also orders should be issued to the Prince-Governor of Kirmánsháhán, that Mírzá Husayn `Alí and such of his followers and familiars as are the cause and root of the mischief should be arrested in such manner as is requisite, and handed over at the
frontier to the officers of the afore-mentioned Prince; and that the Government should detain them, under guard and supervision, in some place in the interior of the country which it regards as suitable, and not allow their evil and mischief to spread. But supposing that the statesmen of that [i.e the Ottoman] Government hesitate, on whatever consideration it may be, to act in accordance with this first alternative, then it is unfailingly necessary that they should arrange as quickly as possible to deport and detain that mischief-maker [i.e. Bahá'u'lláh] and his several intimates from Baghdád to some other place in the interior of the Ottoman kingdom which has no means of communication with our frontiers, so that the channel of their mischief-making and sedition may be stopped.
"Let your Excellency take such steps and show such zeal in this matter as accords with this emphatic Imperial command and the despatch of this special [King's] messenger, and let him notify his agreement in writing as soon as possible, that it may be so notified before the Most High and Sacred Presence (may our lives be his sacrifice!).
"Written on the 12th of Dhu'l-Hijjá, A.H.