Account of the Death of Mirza Yahya Subh-i-Azal
by Alili Ridvantranslated by E.G. Browne
published in Materials for the Study of the Babi Religion
original written in Persian.
Handtyped and proofread by Alan Couper, formatted by Jonah Winters.
ACCOUNT OF THE DEATH OF MIRZA
"Know that the Eternal Fruit (Thamara-i-Azaliyya=Subhi-i- Azal) fell somewhat sick in July, 1911. Gradually he ceased to go from one house to another, until he even ceased to come down from the upper story, and lost his appetite. In the month of September his condition became very critical; he lost all strength and a great debility appeared in his body. He was compelled to accept the ministrations of the physician, who, however, was unable to cure him. In consequence of material troubles and endless vexations he had no rest, and finally on the 28th of April  his condition became suddenly much worse. At seven o'clock on the morning of Monday, the 29th of April, he bade farewell to this transitory world and passed into the world of Immortality. His household and its members applied to the government and asked permission from the Governor [i.e. Commissioner] of Famagusta to deposit his body in a place which belonged to that Blessed Being and which is situated about one European mile outside Famagusta near to the house of Bárútjí- záda Hájji Háfiz Efendi. His Excellency the Commissioner granted this permission with the utmost kindness and consideration, and a grave was dug in that place and built up with stones. A coffin was then constructed and prepared, and in the afternoon all the government officials, by command of the Commissioner and at their own wish and desire, together with a number of the people of the country, all on foot, bore the corpse of that Holy Being on their shoulders, with pious ejaculations and prayers, and
every mark of extreme respect, from his house to the site of the Holy Sepulchre. But none were to be found there of witnesses to the Bayán1, therefore the Imám-Jum`a of Famagusta and some others of the doctors of Islám, having uttered [the customary] invocations, placed the body in the coffin and buried it. And when they brought it forth from the gate of Famagusta some of the Europeans also accompanied the Blessed Body, and the son of the quarantine doctor took a photograph of it with a great number [of the bystanders], and again took another photograph at the Blessed Tomb2.
"Now this Holy Person [i.e. Subhi-i-Azal] before his death had nominated [as his executor or successor] the son of Aqá Mírzá Muhammad Hádí of Dawlatábád, who was one of the leading believers and relatively better than the others, in accordance with the command of His Holiness the Point [i.e. the Báb], glorious in his mention, who commanded saying, 'And if God causeth mourning to appear in thy days, then make manifest the Eight Paths,' etc., until he says, `But if not, then the authority shall return to the Witnesses of the Bayán3.' Therefore he appointed him, though hitherto no one has found his testament amongst the writings of that Blessed Being. Moreover twenty-eight years ago he had written for himself a lengthy form of visitation4 at the beginning of which he wrote Li'l-Wahídi'l-Farídi'l-Mawtúr. Please God after the lapse of some days, I will write it out for
1 i.e. Bábís.
Photographs of the Funeral of Mírzá Yahyá
(Reproduced by kind permission of Mr H.C. Lukach and Messrs
your Excellency and send it. I cannot copy it now because my eyes see badly. Please God you will forgive me. I hope that God Most High will vouchsafe a complete cure to your Honour and remove the sickness which you have.
"At all events that Most Blessed Being four hours before his death wept and sorrowed because those of the notable and great men of Europe and other lands whom he had met were not present at his last breath. I have nothing more to add except that whatever difficulties you and equally Mr. Edward Browne may have, if you will refer them to me I will so far as possible give a satisfactory answer. The Light be upon you, and may God heal you and assuage your suffering.
"July 11, 1912. C. P." (Constantine the Persian).
The above account of Subhi-i-Azal's death and burial was communicated to me on September 3, 1912, by Mr. C. D. Cobham, for whom it was written in Persian by Rizwán `Ali (or, as he has called himself since his conversion to Christianity [GREEK TEXT]. On the preceding May 19 Mr. H. C. Lukach, secretary to the High Commissioner of Cyprus, had already written to ask me for a copy of my "brochure on the subject of the community of Bábís dwellng at Famagusta," adding that "the Báb" (meaning Subhi-i-Azal) "died on April 29th last, aet. circâ 82." On the 5th of September he very kindly communicated to me the following further particulars concerning Subhi-i-Azal's family and possessions:
"I am now able to give you a little further information with regard to the family of the late Subhi-i-Azal.
"It appears that Subhi-i-Azal left a letter saying that he of his sons who resembled him most closely in his mode of life and principles was to be his successor. The point as to
which of the sons fulfils this condition has not yet been decided; consequently all the children would appear at present to be co-heirs.
"The eldest surviving son is Ahmad Subhi-i-Azal, a poor man who is obliged to earn his living as a railway porter in Famagusta. The most affluent of the brothers is `Ali, who keeps a shop. Another, Mehmed (i.e. Muhammad) is not quite right in his head. The youngest, and, as far as I can gather, the favourite son (by a second wife) is one Taqiyyu'd-Dín, who was always near his father. `Constantine the Persian,' alias `Costi2', has been far away from Famagusta for some time. It may be that he will consent to sell some of his father's manuscripts in his possession. The other brothers are at present not prepared to sell theirs.
"No steps have, as far as I am aware, yet been taken to elect a walí (i.e. successor or executor). I am afraid this information is meagre, but, having been on Mount Troodos for the last few months, I have had no opportunity of making personal investigations in Famagusta."
On the 23rd of January, 1913, Mr. Lukach wrote to me again, enclosing a letter from a Syrian named Mughabghab who lived in Famagusta, and kindly offering his help should I desire to enter into negotiations for the purchase of any of the late Subhi-i- Azal's manuscripts. From Mr. Mughabghab's letter it appeared that Subhi-i- Azal's son "Costi" (i.e. Rizwán `Alí) was prepared to sell his share of his father's manuscripts, nine in number, but was anxious that his brothers should not know of his intention, as they desired to keep all these books and manuscripts together. The prices demanded
1 This, I think, must be `Abdu'l-`Alí, who kept a
shop in Varoshia, a suburb of Famagusta
were, in my opinion, excessive, and I did not pursue the matter further. The list was as follows:
(1) Kitábu'n-Nur ("Book of Light") (see p.216 supra), the first and largest of the works so entitled, composed at Baghdád, £30.
(2) Díwánu'l-Azal (see p.214 supra), £20.
(3) Lahadhát, £20.
(4) Sata`át, £20.
(5) Jawámi-`u'l-Hayákil, £20.
(6) Lawámi`, £20.
(7) Lawáhidh wa Nafáyi` (507 súras), £20.
(8) As-Sawáti`, £20.
(9) Latá'ifu'l-Azal, £20.
Four of these manuscripts (nos. 3,4,6 and 7 in the above list) have, as I have recently learned (Sept.26, 1917), been offered to the British Museum. The title of No. 7 is somewhat differently given as Lawáhidhu'n- Nafá'ih, which is no doubt correct.