The Babi religion has spread widely in Persia, though
its adherents have to conceal their faith, which is officially
prohibited. Its tenets and history form too large, and
perhaps too recondite, a subject to be treated in these
pages. Readers can find what they require about them
admirably handled in the pages of A. L. M. Nicolas 's
Seyyed AH Mohammed dit le Bab (Dujarric, Paris) and
Mr. E. G. Browne's various publications.
To show the inquisitorial vengeance to which the
unhappy Babis have been subjected, I cannot do better
than give a translation of an article which appeared in
the Official Gazette of the Persian Government, relative
to the attempt by the Babis upon the Shah's life.
The account, coming from an enemy of the Babis,
tries to show them at their worst, but its naive admissions
only serve to bring out the high ideals and heroism, of
the Babi martyrs, and the cold cruelty and bigotry of
their persecutors. The article convicts its authors.
" In our last number, in giving briefly an account of
the attempt upon the life of the Shah, we have promised
our readers to supply them with the after results of
this lamentable affair, and to let them know the result
of the inquiries made to discover the motives of this
vast conspiracy, directed not only against the life of
our beloved sovereign, but also against the public peace,
and against the property and lives of true Mussulmans.
For the real aim of these malefactors was, in getting
rid of the person of the King, to seize the power, and
by this detestable means to secure at last the triumph
of their abominable cause, in forcing, by arms and
violence, the good Mussulmans to embrace their in-
famous religion, which differs from that sent down from
Heaven, and which does not accord either with philo-
sophy or human reason — which is, in fine, the most
deplorable heresy that has ever been heard of, as may
be gathered from certain of their books and pamphlets
which we have been able to procure.
" The founder of this abominable sect, who began
to propagate these detestable doctrines only a few
years ago, and who, having fallen into the hands of
the authorities, was immediately shot, was called Ali
Mohammed, and had given himself the surname of
Bab,^ wishing to give people to understand by this that
the keys of Paradise were in his hands.
" After the death of the Bab, his disciples met soon
under the orders of another chief, Sheikh Ali of Turshiz,
who assumed the position of nayeb (vicar) of the Bab,
and had imposed it on himself to live in complete
solitude, showing himself to nobody, and granting
audiences to his principal followers only at rare intervals.
They regarded this favour as the greatest that Heaven
could confer on them. He had given himself the sur-
name of Hazret Azem, the Highest Highness.
" Among the people who were attached to him one
may mention first Hadji Suleiman Khan, son of the
late Yah- Yah Khan of Tabriz. It was in the house
of this Suleiman Khan, in Teheran, in the quarter
Sar-i-Cheshmeh, that the principal Babis used to meet
to deliberate upon their hateful projects. Twelve
amongst them, who appeared more zealous and deter-
mined than the others, were chosen by Hazret Azem,
who had the necessary arms given to them to execute
the great act that he believed to be unavoidable. Pistols,
daggers, cutlasses, nothing was spared, and, armed in
this way, it seemed impossible for them to miss their
" They were recommended to stand in the neigh-
bourhood of Niavaran, and to wait for a favourable
" We may refer our readers to our last number ; they
will see in it how three of these madmen have taken
advantage of the circumstance which presented itself on
Sunday the 28th of Chavval, at the moment when
His Majesty, having gone out of the town, directed
himself, with his ordinary suite, towards the village
where he was in the habit of going for his hunting
parties. They will see how they flung themselves
upon the King, one after the other, firing their pistols
nearly point-blank at His Majesty; how one of them
was immediately slain by people of well-known zeal
and devotion, such as Assad Oullah-Khan, first equerry
of the King, Mustofi-el-Memalek, Nizam-oul-Moulk, the
Keshikchi-Bashi, and other persons who were near His
Majesty ; how at last the two others were seized and
thrown into the prison of the town.
" An inquiry was at once made into the case, and put
into the hands of Adjutant Bashi Hadjeb-ed-Dowleh,
the Kalentar (Minister of Police), and the Kedkhodas
of the town (a sort of municipal councillors).
" Thanks to the zeal and the activity that they showed
in their inquiries, they soon learned that the house of
Suleiman- Khan was used as the place of meeting by
these wretches. It was immediately surrounded on all
sides ; but whether by the neglect of the men of Hadjeb-
ed-Dowleh, or by the lack of cohesion in the execution
of this enterprise, they succeeded in catching only twelve,
amongst them Suleiman- Khan. The others effected
their escape, one does not know exacdy how. But
their accomplices having named several of them, the
police, it may be hoped, will soon trace them.
" However, not a single day passed without the
Adjutant- Bashi of the Kalentar and the ferrashes of
the King capturing three, four, or even five Babis, whom
they quickly brought before the Imperial divan or
tribunal, which in such a case is held in public.
" They were interrogated at once, and condemned
upon their own evidence, as well as on the denuncia-
tions of their accomplices, whom they took care to
confront with them.
" These interrogatories were made in accordance with
the customs and forms laid down by the law.
" We must not omit here to recall the immense service
that Hadjeb-ed-Dowleh has rendered to the Faith, to
the State, and to Religion, in capturing Mollah Sheikh
Ali of Turchiz, in spite of all the precautions that he
took not to be seen in public, and in spite of the retired
and secretive life which he did not cease to lead till the
moment of his arrest. By his flight from the town he
had expected to find a shelter against all pursuit ; he
had hidden himself in a litde house at Evine in the
** He lived there, surrounded by some faithful disciples,
who, like himself, had succeeded in escaping from the
house of Suleiman Khan at the moment that it was
" It is in this house that Hadjeb-ed-Dowleh, accom-
panied by his men, succeeded in surprising them at the
moment when they expected it least. The Babis were
seized, manacled, and thrown into the prisons of the
" His Excellency the Grand Vizier, Mirza Aga Khan,
had the satisfaction of interrogating himself the chief of
this hateful sect. He made him appear before him
with the disciples taken at the same time as this wretch,
and questioned him in their presence. Mollah Sheikh
Ali of Turchiz did not attempt to excuse himself. He
avowed that he had become the chief of the Babis
since the death of the Bab ; that he had given the
order to his most devoted disciples to kill the King.
He declared even that Mohammed Sadek, who had
precipitated himself the first on the King, was his con-
fidential servant, and that he had provided himself the
necessary arms to execute the regicides' project. The
number of these wretches who had fallen into the hands
of justice does not exceed thirty-two. As for the others,
the police have not been able to find them, and it is
believed that they have crossed the frontiers of Persia
and gone to lead a wretched life in a foreign land.
" We impose upon ourselves the task of pointing out to
our readers the admirable conduct of His Excellency the
Minister of Russia on this occasion.
" One of these damnable conspirators, Mirza Houssein
Ali, had taken refuge at Zerghandeh in the summer
quarters of the Russian Legation. The Prince Dol-
gorouki, having learnt that this individual was amongst
the conspirators, had him seized by his own people and
sent to the Ministers of His Majesty, who, touched by
an action so in conformity with the good relations that
existed between Persia and Russia, evinced their pro-
found gratitude to him. His Majesty himself had his
thanks conveyed to the prince, and gave orders that
the people who had been entrusted with conveying the
culprit to custody should be worthily recompensed, which
was done without delay.
" Amongst the Babis who have fallen into the hands
of justice, there are six whose culpabiHty not having been
well established, have been condemned to the galleys for
life. The others have all been massacred in the following
ways : —
" Mollah Sheik AH of Turchiz, the author of this
conspiracy, has been condemned to death by the Ulemas
or religious judges, and put to death by them.
" Seyyed Houssein Khorassani was killed by the
princes of the blood, who massacred him with pistol-
shots, scimitars, and daggers.
" Mustafi-el-Memalek took charge of the execution of
Mollah Zeyine-el-Abedin, Yezdi, whom he killed with
pistol-shots fired point blank, after which the Mustafis of
the Divan, throwing themselves upon the corpse, riddled
it with pistol-shots and stabs of sword, dagger, and
" Mollah Houssein Khorassani was killed by Mirza
Kassem Nizam Oul-Moulk and by Mirza Said Khan,
Minister of Public Affairs. Mirza Kassem was the first to
approach the condemned, and shot him with his pistol point
blank. Then Mirza Said Khan approached in his turn
and fired another pistol. At last the servants of these
two high functionaries threw themselves on the corpse,
which they hacked to pieces with knives and daggers.
" Mirza Abdoul Wahab of Shiraz, who during his
sojourn in Kazemein had rendered himself guilty in the
eyes of the authorities by inciting the inhabitants to
revolt, was put to death by Jaffar Kouli-Khan, brother
of the Grand Vizier, by Zulfe-Khar Khan, by Moussa
Khan, and by Mirza Aly Khan, all three sons of the
Grand Vizier, assisted by their servants and the guards
of the King and the other people present at the execution,
some using pistols, others rifles, others daggers of all sorts,
so that the corpse of this wretched man was reduced to
" Mollah Fcthoulhah, son of Mollah Aly, the book-
binder, the man who, shooting at the King with a pistol
loaded with lead, slightly wounded His Majesty, had his
body covered with holes, in which lighted candles were
stuck. Then Hadjeb-ed-Dowleh received the order to
kill him with a pistol-shot, which he did by shooting at
the exact spot of the body where His Majesty had been
wounded. He fell stone dead. Then the ferrashes of
the King threw themselves on the body and hacked it to
pieces and heaped stones upon it.
" Sheikh Abbas of Teheran has been sent to the bottom
of hell by the Khans and other dignitaries of the State,
who killed him with pistols and swords.
" Mohammed Taghi of Shiraz had horseshoes nailed
to his feet first, like a horse, by Ased-oullah-Khan, first
equerry of His Majesty, and by the employees of the
Imperial stables. Then he was beaten to death with
maces and with the great nails of iron which are used in
the stables to fasten the horses to.
" Mohammed Aly of Nejef-Abad was handed over to
the Artillery men, who first of all tore out one of his eyes,
then bound him over the muzzle of a gun and blew him
" As to Hadji Suleiman Khan, son of Yah-Yah Khan
of Tabriz, and Hadji Kassem, also of Tabriz, they were
marched through the town of Teheran with their bodies
stuck with candles, accompanied by dancers and by the
music of the Evening, which is composed of long horns
and huge drums, and were followed by a crowd of the
curious, who wished to stone them, but were prevented
by th^ f err ashes.
" Suleiman Khan, when one of the candles fell, sank
and picked it up, and restored it to its place. Somebody
having cried, 'You sing, why don't you dance?' Suleiman
began to dance.
" Once out of the town, the ferraskes, executing the
orders which had been given them, cut them both into four
pieces, which they hung over various gates of the town.
" Nejef of Khamseh was abandoned to the fury of the
mob, who beat him to pieces with their fists and stones.
" Hadji Mirza Djami, merchant of Kachan, was killed
by the Provost of the Merchants of Teheran, assisted by
the merchants and shopkeepers."
The above is the official Persian account. Comte de
Gobineau, who was Minister of France to the Court of
Teheran at that time, tells us —
" One saw that day in the streets and bazars of
Teheran a spectacle that the population will never forget.
One saw, walking between staffs of executioners, children
and women, with the flesh gaping all over their bodies,
with lighted wicks soaked with oil stuck in the wounds.
The victims were dragged by cords and driven with
whips. The children and women walked singing a
verse, which says, * In truth we come from God, and we
return to Him.' Their voices rose piercingly in the
middle of the profound silence of the mob ; for the
population of Teheran is neither bad-hearted nor much
devoted to Islam. When one of the tortured people fell,
he was forced to rise with blows from whips and prods
from bayonets. If the loss of blood which ensued from
the wounds all over the body left him strength enough, he
began to dance and shout with fervour, ' We belong to
God, and we return to Him.' Some of the children
expired en rotite. The executioners threw their bodies
under the feet of their father and sister, who walked
fiercely upon them, without looking.
" When they arrived at the place of execution near the
new gate, life was again offered to the victims if they
would abjure their faith, and, though it seemed difficult,
means were sought to intimidate them. The executioner
hit upon the device of signing to a father that if he did
not abjure he would cut the throat of his two sons upon
his chest. These were two small boys, the eldest being
fourteen, who, red with their own blood and with flesh
scorched by the candles, listened unmoved. The father
answered by lying down on the earth that he was ready,
and the eldest of the boys, claiming his right of birth,
begged to have his throat cut first. It is not impossible
that the executioner refused him this last satisfaction.
At last everything was ended, and the night fell upon a
heap of mangled human remains. The heads were
strung in bundles to the Posts of Justice, and all the dogs
of the suburbs made their way to that side of the
" This day gave to the Bab more secret partisans than
many preachings could have done."