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3-page overview of early Bábí history. Complete book is included, for historical interest.
This book is online in a variety of formats at


by Percy Molesworth Sykes

pages 127-129
Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1922

1. Excerpt from book (see full PDF below)

[page 127]

... There was no opposition to the accession of the heir, Nasir-u-Din, who was a youth of sixteen. He was Governor-General of Azerbaijan, and brought with him his adviser, Mirza Taki Khan, whom he appointed Vizier with the title of Amir-i-Nizam. The new Vizier was the most remarkable Persian of his generation, for he was not only capable and hard-working, but also honest, a virtue that even today can hardly be said to exist in Persia. He set to work to abolish the sale of justice and of appointments, and also the enormous number of pensions granted to court parasites and men of wealth; the embezzlement of the soldiers' pay, and other abuses were also taken in hand. Wonderful to say, he began to succeed, but his reforms raised up a host of enemies, among them the mother of the Shah; and finally, Nasir-u-Din, realizing his great influence, became afraid for his own safety, and executed his great minister.

During the early part of Nasir-u-Din's reign, Persia gave birth to a new religion. Its founder was born in 1820 at Shiraz, and was the son of a grocer. He studied at Kerbela, and at the age of twenty-four proclaimed himself the Bab or "Gate" which men through might attain to knowledge of the Twelfth Imam. In the same year the Bab undertook the pilgrimage to Mecca, and

[page 128]

returned by way of Bushire with a considerable following. Encouraged by the support of his disciples, he determined to convert Shiraz to his doctrines, but was pronounced a madman and was imprisoned. His followers, however, increased to such an extent that the Persian Government became alarmed and, in 1850, the Bab was ordered to execution at Tabriz. In the great square he received the volley of the firing party, and when the smoke had cleared away he had disappeared. Had he gained the bazar, he might have escaped, and his religion would have been established by a miracle as it would have been deemed. Unfortunately for himself he took refuge in the guard-room, whence he was taken out again and the sentence was carried out.

After his death the new doctrine spread far and wide, and its adherents displayed a spirit of reckless fanaticism and extreme cruelty. At Zenjan the chief mulla headed an outbreak and defied a large Persian army, buoyed up with the hope that the whole world would be the prize of success. The siege lasted for several months, and the crazy fanatics were massacred upon the capture of their stronghold. Two years later an attempt on the Shah's life resulted in cruel persecutions, which proved to the world the earnestness of the Babis and probably gained many converts.

The successor of the Bab fled to Baghdad, and ten years later he and his followers were transferred to Adrianople. While living in this city there was a split in the party, accompanied by assassinations. The Turkish Government interned the winner in the struggle at Acre. The present head of the religion, who is generally known

[page 129]

as Abdul Baha or "The Slave of the Splendour" is a great personality, who has preached peace and goodwill among men in Europe and America, and is specially concerned with ethical questions. In Persia his followers are far behind their master, and are mainly concerned with questions of dogma, but even so, they are bound to be affected by the teaching and character of their leader.

2. PDF of complete book

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