The Practice of Taqiyyah (Dissimulation)
in the Babi and Bahai Religions
by Sepehr Manuchehri
Beware that in this divine dispensation testimony be not limited by speech and belief not entrusted merely to the tongue. The sign of faith is preparedness for being sacrificed in the path of the Lord. You cannot claim to be a Babi unless you reach the ultimate stage of detachment from personal welfare, material comforts and family life. Now return to your home and ponder with solace: At the time of reckoning the mob will attack your house, confiscate your life possessions, take your wife, massacre your children and force you to recant in exchange for freedom. In that hour if you have the resolve to take in all of the afflictions and remain steadfast in the Cause, only then are you considered to be a Babi.
- Mulla Jalil Urumi (Letter of Living) to Haji Nasir Qazvini (1)
Many customs and traditions that are prevalent amongst the followers of various Islamic sects today are not based on the fundamental principles of the Islamic belief. Rather they have gradually been instilled in the culture during centuries. Taqiyyah or dissimulation of ones true belief has been a common practice amongst the followers of the Usuli Shi`ite, Isma`ili, Haydari, Ni`mati and Shaykhi schools of thought during the Qajar era (2). Susan Maneck (" Hikmat in the Bahai Writings and History," Baha'i Studies Review vol. 6, 1996) remarks that “Iranians often tend to reserve access to their inner self to a small circle of intimates. Among these persons, interactions ought to be pure and constant, maintaining a spiritual integrity. With those outside that circle one behaves with reserve and formality, concealing one’s true intentions. Far from being insincere they see it as conducting themselves with wisdom.” Maneck accurately reflects the use of wisdom in the writings of Bahaullah and within the Bahai community. This paper intends to portray the historical application of taqiyyah in the progress of Babi and Baha’i religions. It considers the practice of taqiyyah during the revelation of the Bab, amongst the early Babi disciples, treaties and compilations written under taqiyyah. It looks at cases of mass taqiyyah, instances where Babi’s cooperated with the authorities in suppression of their peers and describes the attitude of the government officials towards these individuals. Though the origins of taqiyyah can be traced back to the early Shiite communities, some Iranian sources allege its wide spread practice amongst the first generation of Iranian Zoroastrians following the introduction of Islamic rule (3). However most sources agree that taqiyyah in one form or another was a widespread practice among Iranians by the 18th and 19th Century (4).
Shi`ite Islam requires that believers hide their true beliefs if they think their lives in danger because of religious persecution. Although it had a following in Iran throughout the medieval period, it was only after the establishment of the Safavid empire in 1501 that most Iranians adopted Shi`ism. The Safavids made Shi`ism the state religion. They allocated huge resources to local ulama in order to promote Shi`ite thought and to blend it in with the Persian sub-culture. Shi`ite philosophy was in direct competition with the Sunni beliefs of the rival and neighbor of the Safavids, the Ottoman empire, and quickly obtained majority support with assistance from the political establishment. Built on accepting the guardianship of the 12 Holy Imams, Shi`ite theology held that the coming of the promised Mahdi would allow the subjugation of and exaction of revenge from the forces of infidel oppression. (5).
Shi`ite thought established taqiyyah as a mean to safe guard the believers from the Oppressors of the time. This was seen as a tactical maneuver designed to protect and consolidate their numbers in order to assist and support the promised Mahdi in due time and rise up against the established and corrupt world order. However the circumstances surrounding the coming of Mahdi and differing opinions concerning the Day of Resurrection caused major disagreements within the Shi`ite hierarchy. This caused many scholars to postpone the coming of Mahdi in their literature to a distant future. Various stories and legends became popular concerning the intimate details surrounding his lengthy disappearance and his likely reappearance. Scholars who did not support such myths viewed the coming of Mahdi in a more humanistic sense. They remolded the concept of taqiyyah to the dissimulation of the personal details of Mahdi. Numerous traditions and literature were released concerning the practice of taqiyyah on his name and the details of his coming in the writings of Shaykh Abbas Qumi and Muhammad Baqir Majlisi (6) . The majority of these traditions were attributed to Imam Ja`afar Sadiq the sixth Holy Imam (7).
It is interesting to note that by the time of the Qajar period the practice of taqiyyah was widespread amongst the followers of various Muslim Schools (Ismailism, Shaykhism and Sufism) as a safeguard against the dominant and powerful Usuli Shi`ite ulama. Taqiyyah was even used by minorities such as Jews and Babis to protect their numbers against the constant harassment of mainstream Islam. This paper briefly traces the use of taqiyyah in Shaykhi School of thought and its application in the progress of Babi and Bahai religions.
Taqiyyah in Shaykhi Thought
The practice of taqiyyah confined Shaykhi eschatology to philosophical arguments. Shaykh Ahmad Ahsais frequent references to the necessity of taqiyyah owing to the limited capacity of the ordinary believer to grasp the true meaning of the secrets of religion indicates his hesitation to declare his more controversial views (8). Moreover, his configuration of the Perfect Shia did not necessarily affirm the immediate resurgence of the Hidden Imam. The Perfect Shia was a proto-messianic figure. But his guidance to the extent that it was recognised by the public did not herald the return of the Imam Mahdi, at least in consistent theological language.
The same approach can be observed in the works of Ahsais successor Sayyid Kazim Rashti. Rashti acknowledges:
Elaboration on the secrets of the subject of the Resurrection Day would lead us to raise various matters which are not appropriate to our time. Since the people of this age can not tolerate them and this would accelerate their denial. As our Lord Sadiq, Peace be up on him, has said Not all that is known is to be said, and not the right time has come for all that is to be said, and not all appropriate sayings should be said to those who are incompetent of understanding. Therefore, owing to their complexity, reference to these matters without full explanation is beyond public comprehension. This is the reason why the Holy Imams and the adepts among Shi`ites constantly covered the delicate details of this subject under the cloak if outward expressions so that the secret gem would be safely protected from the encroachments of the ignorant. (9)
Prudence and secrecy inspired an allegorical language. Signs of metaphorical speculations can be detected in Ahsais works which on one occasion specify the date of birth and the date of revelation of the Qaim in a codified message (10). Perhaps this triggered the followers of the Shaykhi school to refer to Shaykh Ahmad and Sayyid Kazim as Hamil or Carrier11. A title that points to a knowledge of hidden secrets and a responsibility to protect them.
Shaykhi thought became popular in Iran and the Shi`ite shrine cities (`atabat) of Najaf and Karbala. Advocacy of this school by the some members of the political establishment (represented by Haji Muhammad Karim Khan Kirmani a leading student of Ahsai and an influential member of the Qajar clan) and the mujtahids (leading Shi`ite jurisprudents) in major citie, such as Mulla Muhammad Mamaqani in Tabriz, popularized discussions on the intimate details of the return on Mahdi and his proposed reappearance.
Taqiyyah thus became an important tool for the promulgation of Shaykhi thought on the one hand, and the concealment of their hidden secrets on the other. Shaykh Ahmad used this dual approach during his travels in Iran whilst promoting his vision.
Revelation of the Bab
The Bab initially laid claim to the position of the Deputy of the Hidden Imam. Many early Babis were ordered to transmit this claim to the public and other believers (12). This approach was intended to create a sense of anticipation for the appearance of an unidentified promised person. In his work Dalail-i Sab`ih the Bab declares:
Since I was aware of the limits of the public, I ordered the concealment of my name 13
In December 1844 he instructed Mulla Husayn in the following words:
Do not reveal the word of your Lord to those who would deny it. Observe the practice of taqiyyah in order to avoid persecution and imprisonment 14
Mulla Husayn appreciated the practical importance of this approach. For instance, he refused in the first weeks after his conversion, to disclosed the personal details of the Bab to his Shaykhi compatriots in Shiraz. This caused resentment amongst some of them who took their grievance to the newly arrived Quddus: Jinab-i Akhund has attained the presence of the Lord, recognized his station and remains unwilling to disclose his details. Mulla Husayn was forced to explain instructions from the Bab requiring the concealment of his name. At this time the Bab was seen to be passing by. Quddus immediately looked up and said: I do not see this Cause as distinct from this young Sayyid Mulla Husayn then responded by a verse from Rumi I desire a sharp vision who recognizes the King in disguise15.
The Bab in his early correspondence with his disciples strongly forbade them to divulge his identity 16. On a few occasions he quoted well-known traditions from Imam Ja'far Sadiq on the necessity of taqiyyah:
Taqiyyah is my faith and the faith of my forefathers. Anyone who does not practice taqiyyah has no faith. 17
By your refined wisdom my Lord, you made taqiyyah your command. Thus people practiced it from the beginning of occultation up to now. And that practice was the testimony to [peoples] eagerness to come to your presence. 18
After his return from Mecca, the Bab was arrested in Bushihr and taken in to custody to the residence of Husayn Khan Nazimul-Dawlah the Governor of Fars. On the same Friday, the Bab was pressured by the ulama particularly the Imam Jum`ah of Shiraz to publicly renounce his earlier claims in the grand Mosque of Vakil in front of a congregation of the faithful. The Bab attended the prayer session and publicly denied his claim to the position of Deputyship of the Hidden Imam. This renunciation no doubt saved his life from the evil intentions of the Shirazi ulama who had earlier encouraged Husayn Khan to execute him. The public renunciation although pleased Shaykh Abu Torab the Imam Jum`ah, failed to impress the new Shaykhi converts and early believers in general (19).
In the early phase of his revelation, the Bab revealed his position as that of Babiyyah or the Gate leading to the presence of the Hidden Imam and clearly instructed his followers to conceal his name (20). Haji Sayyid Javad Karbalai recounts a lengthy interrogation of his friend and colleague Mulla Ali Bistami (Second Letter of Living) in Karbala, in an effort to learn the name of the Bab. The conversation as recorded in Kashful-Ghita indicates the loyalty of Mulla Ali to this instruction from the Bab.
After a few months the Bab observed a greater acceptance and readiness amongst his people and gradually moved his claim to that of Dhikriyyah and Qaimiyyah meaning that of the Hidden Imam in its entirety. In the final years of his life he publicly announced the station of Mazhariyyah meaning that of a manifestation from God.
The reception of his message was not free from confusion. A number of early believers instantly recognized his true station right from the onset. This naturally resulted in confusion and disagreement amongst the Babi community during the early phase of the revelation. At a time when the Bab intended to convey his message with caution, many of his leading followers (eg. Tahirih, Vahid and Hujjat) openly declared the coming of the promised Mahdi and proclaimed his message linking it to the earlier Shaykhi prophecies. No doubt the adoption of such a cautious policy by the Bab managed to attract the maximum attention with the minimum possible controversy during the early months. However the scope and impact of his revolutionary claims would eventually draw the full wrath of the ulama. Bahaullah mentions this fact in one of his tablets:
The Bab in response to the weakness of the people revealed his message with wisdom. In one instance he writes This revelation is the point of Quran in its entirety.. on another occasion he reveals If people were not weak the word Mashiyya [Will] would not have been mentioned. No doubt these utterings were made in wisdom. If he had revealed what was revealed in his final years during the early period, the fire of opposition and denial would have inflicted in the early days what was inflicted on him in the final days (21)
The Bab openly declared his station as the promised Qaim during the public trial in Tabriz. After the punishment handed to him following the trial, he wrote a letter to Prince Nasirul-Din Mirza:
This weak soul has no desire contrary to the will of the Lord and the Guardians of his Cause. Though my being is mere nothingness but since my heart is able to recognize the true meaning of the oneness of God, the manifestation of his prophet and the Guardianship of his Imams, and my tongue confesses to all that has been revealed by him. I hope for his mercy and have no desire save his contentment.
If certain words contrary to his will have been revealed from my pen, my purpose has not been that of rebellion. In any event I seek forgiveness of his Excellency. This servant has no knowledge to warrant any claims .. Certain prayers and words that have been revealed from the tongue do not represent any concerns.
And the claim to the deputyship of his Excellency Hujaullah peace be up on him is void. This servant has not laid such a claim or any other one. Request is made for clemency from his Royal Excellency (king) and your Excellency to honor this servant with your mercy, kindness and forgiveness. (22)(
A quick comparison between the above letter and his earlier repentance in Shiraz reveals a familiar pattern:
1. The Bab regards any claims to the position of Deputyship of the Hidden Imam as void. In fact he repeatedly spoke of being the Hidden Imam and an independent manifestation from God during his exile to Azerbaijan. Such claims were far greater than his early position of Babiyyah or Gateship which he adopted only months earlier in Shiraz. The Bab had bestowed the title of Babiyyah and Deputyship to Mulla Husayn as early as the Shiraz period. The title of Babul-Bab further illustrates Mulla Husayns new transformation. Therefore theologically from that point onwards the Bab was no longer the Deputy to the Hidden Imam.
2. The Bab rejects any suggestion of leading a rebellion against the State. The Qajar establishment were seriously concerned about the hidden agenda of the Bab. Overtures and suggestions of possible revolt were made by the ulama keen to form an alliance with the State in suppression of the Babi movement. After the involvement of the royal troops in the Tabarsi and Zanjan uprisings events that ulama had created many Babis openly supported a revolt against the oppressive forces. This in turn increased the suspicion of the officials.
3. The Bab rejects any notions of having acquired knowledge. This issue was floated by the ulama to belittle his reputation in revealing verses in speed and writing in a style similar to that of Quran. ulama claimed that the Bab had earlier acquired such knowledge from their peers. In effect claiming that the Bab was repeating what they had taught him earlier.
4. The Bab refers to his thorough understanding of the fundamental Shi`ite principles. These are namely Tawhid (Oneness), Nabuvva (Prophethood) and Velaya (Guardianship). This was partly in response to ulamas claim that he had developed a psychological disorder and confused the basic concepts of religion. The Bab in effect conveyed his appreciation of the popular understanding of Shi`ite teachings and his intimate knowledge of these issues.
Taqiyyah Amongst the Early Disciples
Many of the Babs loyal followers observed his instructions on the practice of taqiyyah and became the source of invaluable service to the new Cause. Others used taqiyyah selfishly to protect their livelihoods. Some went further and actually provided assistance to the officials in persecuting the other Babis.
· Sayyid Hasan and Sayyid Husayn Yazdi both met the Bab whilst in Isfahan. Sayyid Husayn immediately became his scribe and recorded many of the divine tablets and letters revealed by him. The two brothers continued to serve the Bab in this capacity until his exile to Maku. Sayyid Hasan was ordered by the Bab in Maku to recant his faith, retire from service and return. Sayyid Husayn stayed until the end and similarly followed Babs instructions, practiced taqiyyah and was saved from the enemies after his execution. A short time after the Babs execution, Sayyid Husayn went to the Russian Consul General in Tabriz and conveyed certain information on the final hours of Babs life and Babi teachings in general. The Russian Consul General took Sayyid Husayn to Tehran with himself under diplomatic protection. Sayyid Husayn was well respected in the Babi community as the only disciple who personally witnessed the final four years of the Babs life and was a privy to the secrets of the Cause. He was known as Aziz (favourite) Katib (scribe) and Katibul-Bayan (scribe of Bayan). Bahaullah refers to the two brothers in one of his tablets (23):
In the presence of the Compassionate Lord in Azerbaijan were two souls. He sent away Husayn according to his mercy and expelled Hasan according to his justice. Although he was held in high regards by my Forerunner and Beloved 23
· Mirza Muhammad Dhakir (Rawdih Khan) Yazdi was a leading Shaykhi student who had accompanied Mulla Husayn to Shiraz. He became one of the Letters of Living and was ordered to spread the new message in the city of Yazd. His arrival and initial enthusiasm was met with severe opposition by the intolerant ulama who immediately issued a fatwa to take his life. He became disillusioned and searched for means to save his life. He relied on his Shaykhi credentials and claimed to be a devoted follower of Haji Muhammad Karim Khan Kirmani. He even married a woman from the Kirmani clan. With a combination of taqiyyah and support from his new family he managed to spare his life and maintain his reputation amongst the mullas. Privately he remained a Babi and taught the faith secretly to close confidants. He continued to practice taqiyyah until the end (24).
· Qahrullah was a Dervish from India who had travelled to Persia and became a Babi. He met the Bab in Chihriq and was instantly transformed to such an extent that he openly declared the coming of Mahdi various villages in Azerbaijan. his open proclamation caused a stir in the city of Khui and as a result many Babis were persecuted. The Bab ordered him to leave Iran. He returned to India only to come back to Chihriq after a few months and sought refuge in close proximity to Babs cell. When the Bab was taken to Tabriz for execution, Qahrullah followed him barefooted. He was present at the hour of execution. After the execution he was arrested and interrogated. During the process, he practiced taqiyyah and claimed to be a Sufi follower and was subsequently released. He was later killed in Tehran (25).
· Many of the Babi women who visited Tahirih whilst she was held captive at the residence of Kalantar Khan observed taqiyyah. They pretended to be housemaids and carried back and forth correspondence between the Babis and Tahirih (26).
Prominent Babi leaders never encouraged other believers to practice taqiyyah. In situations where a Babi questioned his loyalties or doubted his beliefs, they were advised to make a personal choice. Quddus on a number of occasions told his followers during the Tabarsi uprising:
The Lord is detached from any form of assistance from his followers. If all of you leave I shall reveal the Lord through my walking-stick (27)
· Following the martyrdom of Mulla Husayn and increasing hardships inside the fortress, a number of Babis lead by Mirza Muhammad Husayn Mutavalli Qumi decided to leave the fortress. Qumi became their spokesman and met with Quddus. Upon hearing his intentions Quddus replied Very well, leave whenever you can (28)
Mirza Muhammad Husayn Mutavalli Qumi surrendered to the government forces claiming: I had initially approached Babis to investigate their cause. After spending some time with them I observed many words and no action. I did not see any truth in their claims and left (29). A short time later he became disillusioned. Openly praising the Babis and at other times questioning their resolve. When the Prince learnt about his state of mind, he sent Qumi to the nearby city of Sari fearing that he was a Babi infiltrator (30) .
· The defection of Qumi instantly intensified the official propaganda encouraging the Babis to surrender. This in turn caused more Babis to reconsider their situation. Aqa Rasul Bihnamiri and thirty of his companions left the fortress after they obtained permission from Quddus. They were not lucky. All were sprayed with bullets in the vicinity of the fortress. Their bodies were taken to nearby towns and publicly beheaded. Quddus would repeatedly say We passed over the actions of Aqa Rasul and God forgave him. (31)
Mirza Muhammad Husayn Mutavalli Qumi was arrested years later in Tehran following the unsuccessful attempt on the life of the Shah. After torture he recanted his faith and cooperated with the officials in the identification of other Babis in order to save his life. He survived the ordeal and later met Bahaullah in Baghdad only to become an Azali at a later date.
Taqiyyah Amongst the Second Generation of Babi Notables
Many learned and respected Babis practiced taqiyyah before and after the martyrdom of the Bab in order to avoid involvement in various uprisings, persecutions and afflictions. Such Babis were fully aware of the significance of their actions. Many chose to assist their fellow Babis secretly in times of need. The scope of such assistance was limited to their degree of caution and taqiyyah.
It appears that these Babis were not ready to sacrifice their positions, titles and life comforts for their faith. taqiyyah amongst them was no longer a tool to protect the identity of the Bab or his position. This requirement was largely superseded after the execution of the Bab. These Babis represented the prosperous class of ulama and Bazari merchants who were in some way dependent on the ulama or the ruling establishment for their survival.
It is interesting to note that many from this group later changed their ways, declared their faith and lost their life for the cause. Clearly they had an internal struggle between conscientious belief and human desires. A struggle that resulted in them abandoning the practice of taqiyyah.
· Haji Mulla Baqir Ardikani was the Imam Jum`ah in the city of Ardikan. He became one of the first disciples of Vahid. He continued to practice as a Mulla in the local mosque after becoming a Babi. He led the mass prayers, conducted religious ceremonies and preached Islamic traditions. Gradually rumours began to circulate about his hidden loyalties. Rival mullas and ambitious officials rose in his opposition and signed an open petition calling him an infidel and requesting his removal. The petition was sent to the Governor of Kirman. Haji Mulla Baqir Ardikani subsequently met the Governor, practiced taqiyyah and convinced him that the allegations are not correct. The Governor became fond of the Haji and paid for his expense to travel to Karbala in order to become a Mujtahid. He spent two years in Karbala and returned to his native Ardikan. Such was the Governors respect for him that a welcome party was dispatched to the outskirts of Ardikan to greet him. Upon his arrival he instantly received recognition from the leading Mullas of Yazd and Ardikan to engage as a Mujtahid. He returned to his duties as the Imam Jum`ah and publicly distanced himself from the Babi faith. He continued to assist Babis in secret and later became a Bahai (32).
· Mulla Muhammad Jafar Kirmani was a leading cleric in the city of Kirman practicing as an Islamic teacher in that city. He became a Babi after he met Mulla Sadiq Muqaddas Khurasani in Kirman. He was considered as one of the learned Babis. When Haji Muhammad Karim Khan Kirmani the Shaykhi leader found out about his conversion, he organised a public campaign forcing Mulla Muhammad Jafar to be sidelined and isolated by his former followers. Mulla Muhammad Jafar resorted to the local Mujtahids and Imam Jum`ah for assistance. They publicly announced that he is not a Babi. After a short while he re-commenced his duties as a teacher in the mosque, occasionally standing in as the acting Imam Jum`ah. Mulla Muhammad Jafar Kirmani continued to assist the Babis in secret but refused to meet any of the prominent Babi leaders. He sent a letter to the Bab and received a tablet in response. He continued to practice taqiyyah and maintained his Islamic credentials choosing to remain a Mulla until the end of his life (33) .
· Shaykh Muhammad Taqi Hashtrudi was a former Shaykhi student and considered as a learned Babi. He was extremely conservative, living and practicing a life of taqiyyah. It was acknowledged amongst the Babis that he Ran miles away at the mention of the name Babi. He enjoyed particular respect and influence within the Shaykhi followers. Mulla Muhammad Mamqani (one of the Shaykhi Mullas who signed the Babs execution order) displayed sincere affection towards Shaykh Muhammad Taqi and would invite him to his house every time he visited Tabriz. Shaykh Muhammad Taqi Hashtrudi would secretly meet with the Babis during the night. His counterparts never found out about his real convictions (34) .
· Haji Mirza Ibrahim Sabzivari was one of the grand Mujtahids in the city of Sabzivar and enjoyed enormous powers as the religious head and Imam Jum`ah of that city. He had met the Bab whilst He was in Isfahan and secretly believed in him. However he practiced taqiyyah and dissimulated his thoughts. He assisted the Babis of that city during desperate times (35).
· Aqa Mirza Ahmad Azghandi was a leading student of Shaykh Ahmad and Sayyid Kazim. He enjoyed the respect of the Shaykhi community. He declared his faith in the Bab following a meeting with Mulla Husayn and wrote a treaties in support of Babs claims. Following a series of persecutions in Yazd, he suffered an enormous financial loss, battered reputation and threats to his personal safety. In the following decades he refused to get involved in Babi cause and practiced taqiyyah to save his life. Following the execution of the Bab, he became reinvigorated abandoning the practice of taqiyyah in order to assist his fellow Babis (36).
· Abul-Hasan Mirza Shaykhul-Rais was a Qajar Prince and a leading poet who enjoyed recognition in the literary circles in the City of Mashhad. Mirza Sa`id Khan was a former Foreign Minister who was seconded to administer the Imam Rida estate in the City of Mashhad during his retirement. Both practiced taqiyyah in order to protect their life from what they called the savagery of the mob particularly the Mujtahids. They are known to have assisted the Babis on a number of occasions. In at least one instance, they requested the Babis to observe taqiyyah to escape the presecutions (37).
· Haji Mirza Hasan Shirazi was considered to be the Grand Mujtahid of Shi`ites and an expert in Islamic philosophy. He exercised considerable influence over the general Shi`ite population including officials in the Royal court of Nasirul-Din Shah. His famous Fatwa on banning the use of Tobacco caused the political turmoil at the time. Haji Mirza Hasan Shirazi was a second cousin of the Bab and had met him in the house of the Imam Jum`ah in Isfahan. After observing the power of his words, he declared his faith. From that period onwards, Haji Mirza Hasan exercised extreme caution in his contacts with the Bab, Bahaullah and other believers. He managed to save himself by practicing taqiyyah. He is known to have intervened on at least one occasion to assist the Babis in captivity (38).
· Haji Mulla Muhammad Hamzih Shari`atmadar was a respected old cleric in the City of Babul (Barfurush). He constantly assisted and protected the Babis and in response to questions from the general public would say I do not consider them bad and will not make negative comments about them. (39). He set out to join the Babis in Shaykh Tabarsi and was unable to get there due to the military embargo. Under instructions from Quddus, the 85 year old married his sister in order to protect her and a number of tablets and writings from Quddus. He performed final prayers for the funerals of Babi martyrs and sought forgiveness for their killers. Other Mullas became furious and called him a traitor and an infidel. Haji Mulla Muhammad Hamzih Shariatmadar managed to free the body of Quddus and bury it in the outskirts of the city. When his rival counterpart Sa`idul-Ulama provoked the mob to dig up and burn his remains, Haji complained vehemently to the Governor and warned of the wrath of God comparing this to the actions of the oppressors of Imam Husayn in Karbala. The Governor issued an order preventing Sa`idul-Ulama from carrying out his wish (40).
· The Mirza Muhammad Riza Abrari in Yazd was an influential senior Mulla. He was a former student of Sayyid Kazim Rashti who later believed in Bab. He practiced taqiyyah to such an extent that his son was unaware of his belief. In the final hour of his life, he called Shaykh ZaynulAbidin to his bedside and encouraged him to investigate and accept the claims and teachings of the Bab (41).
· Aqa Shaykh Sadiq was a well-known scholar and teacher in Yazd and enjoyed a great deal of respect from the ulama. He practiced taqiyyah and never declared his faith in public. This caused him to continue teaching in the Shafiite school in Yazd for another 12 years. When rumours began to spread, he was banned from teaching all together (42) .
· Haji Mulla Muhammad Ali was another scholar and teacher who was the acting Imam Jum`ah on the locality of Dih Abad close to the City of Yazd. He became a Babi in secret and was known for practicing taqiyyah. He encouraged the Governor to build a special school for the young children in that locality. Once the school was built, he became the senior teacher. When rumors of his faith spread, he left his job and escaped to Yazd (43) .
· Mirza Riza Quli Hakim brother of Bahaullah practiced as a Physician in the Royal Court in Tehran. His persistence in taqiyyah was such that he refrained from mentioning his name or declaring his relationship with himself (44).
· Haji Mirza Yahya Dawlat-Abadi was a leading Babi figure in Isfahan. After allegations of his Babi affiliations surfaced, he was taken in to custody. In order to please the Shaykh Najafi the Mujtahid of Isfahan and protect his financial interests, Haji Mirza Yahya Dawlat-Abadi agreed to attend a number of his ceremonies and publicly denounce and slander the faith. His denunciation came during a heavy round of persecutions in nearby Najafabad in which many Babis were arrested and killed. Later he announced his allegiance to Azal and began to persecute the local Bahais. Bahaullah devotes a full section in the Epistle to the Son of Wolf to his activities and treason.
· Mirza Aqa Rikab-Saz was a renowned Bahai in Yazd. The enemies provoked his wife who was biased against the faith to make an official complaint against him to the Governor. She agreed and alleged that Mirza Aqa was a Bahai engaged in copying Bahai Scriptures and regularly met with other notable Bahais. Mirza Aqa decided to quell the rumours by practicing taqiyyah. He became a regular participant in the daily prayers in the mosque of the senior Shaykh in the city. Gradually he gave the impression that he is not a Babi and saved his life. He was later martyred in another round of persecutions (45).
· Haji Mirza Kamalul-Din Naraqi was a leading Imam Jum`ah and mulla of his native town of Naraq. He had travelled to Baghdad, met Bahaullah and became a Bahai at the age of 20. Upon his return to Naraq, the people appointed him as their Imam Jum`ah. He continued in this capacity and practiced taqiyyah for a further year. One day he became wary of taqiyyah and during his daily ceremon thought to himself: taqiyyah and caution is not the path of the lovers of religion. The days in this life will pass and there will be no recourse but regret. Immediately he began to speak on the importance of the fundamental teachings and their priority over minor religious issues and promised the crowd that he will re-commence his duties in the mosque on another day. He then left the mosque and returned to Baghdad immediately (46).
Formal Taqiyyah to total Denial
For many Babis the practice of taqiyyah was a forerunner to their eventual abandonment of their faith. Most of these Babis had cautiously adopted taqiyyah and then gradually moved on to sever ties with the Cause, even refusing to assist other Babis.
· Mulla Hadi Qazvini was a Shaykhi student of Sayyid Kazim Rashti who later came to Shiraz and became one of the Letters of Living. He did not get involved in the Tabarsi uprising and shielded his life through taqiyyah. Following the open declaration of Bahaullah, Mulla Hadi became a devout Azali and rose in his opposition. Mulla Hadi was expelled from the community by Bahaullah during the Edirne period and spent his final days in oblivion (47).
· Mulla Muhammad Taqi Hiravi was a leading Mujtahid of his time. Islamic clerics in Isfahan relied on his knowledge and understanding of Shi`ite theology. He handled the judicial matters in that City. Later he became a Babi and translated his Sahifih-i Adliyyih from Arabic to Persian. He sent a number of letters to the Bab in Maku and in reply received many tablets from his pen. Months later fear and insecurity caused him to practice taqiyyah and he gradually distanced himself from the Babis. He spent his final days in Karbala isolated and suffered a lonely death (48).
· Mulla Ali Akbar Ardistani was one the early Babis who accepted the faith during Mulla Husayns stay in Isfahan. He then followed Mulla Sadiq Muqaddas to Shiraz. They were arrested, heavily tortured and carried around the bazaar. After that event he adopted taqiyyah and never again involved himself at times of danger (49).
· Mirza Husayn Yazdi was an influential Mulla in the city of Yazd. He copied and distributed many of the Babs treaties. When rumors circulated about his Babi affiliations, he practiced taqiyyah and ordered his followers to inflict lashes on an arrested Babi (Mulla Ali Naqi Rawdih Khan). He survived a major upheaval against the Babis in that city and was subsequently appointed as the head of the Islamic school and amassed considerable wealth. On another occasion he ordered two other Babis to be beaten until such time that they recant their faith (50) .
· Mirza Aqa Khan Kirmani was a leading Azali and the son in law of Mirza Yahya Azal. He practiced taqiyyah and on many occasions publicly heaped opprobrium on the teachings of the Bab and the character of Azal. His famous book Sad Khitabih is a testimony to his open adoption of taqiyyah (51).
· Taqiyyah amongst the rank and file Babis was a personal choice. Many Babis openly engaged in other unlawful activities and yet called themselves a Babi. Ustad Muhammad Ali Salmani recalls his early days as a Babi:
The majority of Babis were not steadfast and many were involved in unacceptable behavior. I visited Aqa Muhammad Javad Najafabadi a genuinely honest Babi at his house on 21st Day of Ramadan. He was a good Babi but happened to drink wine. He was filtering wine in his residence where the odor had alerted the neighbors. They surrounded the house, arrested us and took us to the prison .. We were five in total. Muhammad Javad - a good old man who used to travel to nearby districts and teach - Abdul-Karim Isfahani who has now become a covenant breaker, Muhammad Sadiq the brother of Abdul-Karim who displayed little conviction in the cause, Mulla Ali my teacher who was a genuine and well natured individual and myself. (52)
We consulted amongst ourselves in jail and agreed to exclude Muhammad Sadiq from our ranks because he was not stable. We told the authorities that he has been arrested by mistake and they later released him. Thus we then became four in number and decided against dissimulation (taqiyyah) as it was not desirable. We agreed that it was best to say the same thing (during interrogations) and maintain consistency. (53)
Treatises and Compilations
In many instances the learned Babis who practiced taqiyyah left behind significant literary works in support of the new revelation. Unfortunately in some cases the opposition of their children to the faith resulted in the loss of most of these treatises. The impact of these treatises in guiding the general population to the Cause is difficult to verify. However their very existence indicates the internal struggle within the learned class of Babis who chose to practice taqiyyah.
· Shaykh Muhammad Taqi Hashtrudi wrote a book entitled Abwab al-Huda in support of the Babi cause from a Shaykhi perspective. This work includes the authors detailed personal recollections from the classes of Shaykh Ahmad Ahsai and Sayyid Kazim Rashti in detail. In certain sections he resorts to abusive language whilst condemning the enemies of the faith such as Mulla Muhammad Mamaqani (ironically one of his ardent followers!). He submitted this book during his final days to Mulla Mustafa Tabrizi one of his Babi contacts in Tabriz (54).
· Aqa Mirza Ahmad Azghandi whilst observing taqiyyah and caution wrote a treaty in support of Babs claims at the request of his Babi friend (55).
· Haji Mulla Muhammad Hamzih Shari`atmadar published a book entitled Asrar al- Shahadah five years after the martyrdom of the Bab. He writes:
Bab means the Gate. As the Prophet (Muhammad) was the City of knowledge and Ali Peace be up on him was the gate to that city .. Similarly the first gate was Jinab-i Mirza Ali Muhammad who was from a merchant family. Although I never met him, I have read a book written by him when he was 27 years of age. In his younger days He spent less than a year in Karbala in the company of Jinab-i Haji Sayyid Kazim (Rashti). He only studied elementary subjects and developed an extraordinary power to write and an incredible mental capacity to create (works) ..He wrote 6 or 7 volumes in a style close to the Quranic verses and many powerful Khutab [sermons] similar to Sahifih Sajjadiyyih (written by Imam Ali). He wrote a commentary to the Sura of the Cow Baqarah with difficult and strange combinations of words. These works were delivered to me. They were written with a pleasant style of handwriting. He had a quick pen and wrote in style. He claimed the position of Babiyyah and named himself the Bab .. The second Bab after him was Jinab-i Haji Muhammad Ali the son of a Mazandarani farmer who lived at the same age and appeared slightly older than him. He accompanied (the Bab) to Mecca .. and similar to (the Bab) had not studied conventional theory. After returning from Mecca He wrote an incomplete commentary on the Surah of Oneness (Tawhid). I read approximately 5 to 6 thousand verses revealed by him at a quick pace. The slope and message if this work were solely on the oneness of God .. The third Bab was Jinab-i Akhund Mulla Husayn Bushrui. He was competent in the conventional theory, theology, fundamentals and grammar. He considered his knowledge of Babiyyah a mere drop of ocean in comparison to the other two. He was quite brave, had a fighting spirit and was skilled with the sword .. (after Shaykh Tabarsi) they brought Haji Muhammad `Ali and several of his followers to town. Haji was taken to Sabzih-Maydan and was set on fire. When the public questioned me about my opinion of the oppressor / oppressed parties, or regarding their infidelity or Islam, I used to remain silent. Not writing a response or uttering an answer ..This was a summary of their story. Although they are now stamped out and forgotten, but life has many turns and twists. Must ponder on the consequence (of actions) and its implications .. Others alleged that prophets and Imams were witches and considered them mentally unstable, infidel or mad. This was due to their own stupidity and deficiency in understanding and comprehension. How can it be that a knowledgeable, honest, learned, respected and perfect man born as a Shi`ite in a Shi`ite family and raised amongst the Shi`ites seeking the religion of Sayyid al-Mursalin (Muhammad) would lie and lean towards blasphemy ? Insane and mentally ill will not do what he does .. If people are investigating, they must ask him or remain quite and leave him to his Lord. They must not denounce him according to their imperfect minds..(56)
· Mulla Alyaz was a Jewish Physician in the City of Hamadan who secretly declared his faith following a meeting with Tahirih in that City. He then practiced taqiyyah in order to protect his life and the security of the Jewish minority in Hamadan. He subsequently assisted Comte Gobineau in compiling information and detailing certain events relating to Babi history (57) .
Unfortunately not all of the compilations and writings were complimentary to the Cause. The Azali Babis and in particular Mirza Aqa Khan Kirmani and Shaykh Ahmad Ruhi showed little hesitation in alteration and falsification of Babi teachings and history in their works. Azali Babi regarded taqiyyah as an imperative requirement.
Contrary to Bahais who had begun to discard the practice of taqiyyah with the passage of time and gradually moved to stamp out this practice from their ranks, Azalis stayed loyal to the taqiyyah and praised its adoption in their literature. Azali leaders such as Haji Mirza Hadi Dawlatabadi, Mirza Aqa Khan Kirmani and Shaykh Ahmad Ruhi all had publicly renounced the Bab and Azal in a series of formal meetings with ulama, officials and common people. However in the case of Mirza Aqa Khan Kirmani and Shaykh Ahmad Ruhi their repeated taqiyyah were never believed by the general public and government authorities.
· Aqa Khan Kirmani allocated a considerable section to raising the status of taqiyyah in the Babi religion in his book Hasht Bihisht. He regards those who practice taqiyyah as true believers. This may have been aimed at countering the negative impressions created in the minds of most Babis following the flagrant manner which Azali leaders used in public to slander their faith. Hasht Bihisht lists the advantages of taqiyyah:
Taqiyyah is a sign of true religion and if (a follower) of an aborted religion practices taqiyyah, he will be destroyed instantly. Aborted religions have no features other than some superficial customs and ceremonies .. Aborted religions do not possess any hidden secrets or truths. Therefore practicing taqiyyah in these religions will cause them to be destroyed and annulled. The more the hidden secrets, taqiyyah and concealment in a religion, the more the authenticity and truth of that religion .. believer is the person who displays more taqiyyah. Increased concealment in a religion will cause greater power, influence and respect in its teachings .. Secrets and truths are like roots and bases. The healthier the root and base, the greater the appearance of a tree. It has been said by the learned that a tree without a firm base will not produce green branches. Hiding a secret will hasten the prosperity of the revelation. Just as a plant will not grow if the seed is not hidden inside the ground .. Whosoever keeps secrets will experience an eternal joy in his heart ..(58)
Aqa Khan ventures further and classifies secrets in to four levels. The concealers of secrets in the upper level cannot disclose their message to those from a lower level. The highest level is level 4 where Aqa Khan claims even they do not know what secret they are concealing (59)
According to Aqa Khan one must behave in a cordial fashion with the enemies and not share secrets with them. In his more political work Sad Khitabih Aqa Khan contradicts his earlier claims:
One of the evils of conversion by force and declaration without thought which manifests itself amongst the Iranians is taqiyyah. Curse on taqiyyah .. though Iranians contend themselves by taking this course, they neglect the fact that half of the moral values of this nations have been corrupted due to taqiyyah which was originally instilled in their veins through the sword of the Arabs .. (60)
During this work he switches from taqiyyah to outright opposition to the Bab and personal insult:
The philosophical teachings of Mulla Sadra, theologies of Shaykh Murtaza, the mystical insight of Shaykh Ahmad and the Bayan of the Bab : How have they benefited this beleaguered country ? They have not increased government revenue, increased their standard of living or removed the threats of Russian and British influence. Though every day their poverty is increased and their plight becomes more sorrowful.. (61)
Sayyid Bab had no warships to support his claims. Despite his arrogance, his people displayed no bravery or grandeur. Despite his self-praise, he possessed no considerable knowledge or power. Therefore he based his government on Islam and staked his reputation on the love of the Holy Imams (62)
Sayyid Bab has called himself the Lord of all in the Heavens and in the Earth. We can say that such arrogance is not new in the Islamic nation .. rotten Dervishes and forgotten leader have made such claims but non have dared to call themselves God (63)
Mirza Aqa Khan and other Azalis claimed loyalty to the Bab and his teachings. Yet they attributed such falsities and attacks on his character. This duality in approach reduced their moral credentials amongst the Babis and nullified their vehement campaign against Bahaullah.
· In contrast the Bahais were clearly instructed by Bahaullah to consider Steadfastness in the Cause of God above all other teachings. Bahaullah writes to Haji Sayyid Javad Karbalai in these words:
Certain souls who confess to recognising the Lord .. if they fail to observe certain actions or do not consider them in accordance with wisdom, [one] must not treat them in harshness .. There are certain teachings that compliance with them will cause no harm to the individuals. It is a duty of all to observe them .. in this age the important necessity is for all to recognise the manifestation of God and be steadfast in his Cause (64)
· The conflicting statements made by Azali Babis in regards to the Bab caused Mirza Abul-Fadl Gulpaygani to write these words to Edward Browne:
Are they (Aqa Khan & Shaykh Ahmad Ruhi) proclaiming the Islamic Faith or the Azali Faith ? Unless we assume that they are practicing taqiyyah and have concealed their religion in disguise. This excuse is contrary to Mr Brownes view of the Azalis, considering them as brave and independent people. This excuse is also in variance with their (Aqa Khan & Shaykh Ahmad Ruhi) initiative in setting up a United Islamic Front. Therefore we can either say that they are genuine Muslims and Mr Browne has portrayed them as Azali. Or that they are genuine Azals .. and their open invitations for a united Islam and concern for the Islamic religion stems from taqiyyah .. Mr Browne claims to be an independent observer. How can he ignore these apparent contradictions? .. these two souls are either hardline Shi`ites or wayward infidels. (65)
Pressure from the Family
In many cases the emotional pressure and physical harassment by the members of the immediate family coerce the new converts into observing taqiyyah. Some chose not to disclose their new affiliation with the family right from the start. From the familys point of view, public disclosure of their members new faith was an open invitation for unwanted persecutions. It was a preamble to provoking the enmity of their neighbors and imposition of economic and social embargoes on the whole family. The easiest way out of the crisis was encouraging the wayward member to observe taqiyyah.
Recognition of the new faith caused many families to be disrupted, separated or even destroyed. The other members of the family with reputation, business or influence in the old system, those who wanted to achieve a higher status in the existing order or those who simply wanted to protect the status quo did not want to be drawn in to a raging conflict over religion. Whence they treated the wayward family member with the utmost contempt.
· Mirza Abul-Fadl conveyed this point to Prince Kamran Mirza who planned to massacre the Bahais in Tehran : Many Bahais conceal their faith to such an extent that their immediate family members remain unaware of their faith. Their identification is not possible by peaceful means (66)
· Mulla Alyaz was a Jewish Physician in Hamadan. When he declared his interest in the faith to his father, his family became alarmed. His father the influential leader of the local Jewish Community in Hamadan - concerned at the potential danger facing the Jewish minority at the hands of the ulama and the mob, insisted that his son reconsider this matter. Mulla Alyaz became a Babi without his fathers knowledge and concealed this matter from him for a considerable period of time (67).
· Mirza Aqa Ismullah Munirul-Munib had a merchant father who was a hardline Shi`ite. He was extremely opposed to the Bab and the Babis. When Munib became a Babi, he initially practiced taqiyyah and concealed the matter from his father. A short time later he experienced a spiritually transformation, spending a considerable time in meditation and displaying outward signs of emotional attachment to the Cause. When his father found out, he took his son to the outskirts of Kashan in the company of a few of his colleagues. He then ordered them to kill his own son and abandon his body. After uonib pleaded with his father, he reluctantly agreed to free him on the condition that he leaves the city and never returns (68) .
· Mirza Aqa Rikab-Saz was forced to practice taqiyyah in Yazd after his wife made a formal complaint to the Governor (69).
· Mulla Abul-Hasan Ardikani observed taqiyyah and concealed his beliefs from his immediate family until the final day of his life (70).
· The relatives of Shaykh Zaynul-Abidin Abrari encouraged him to practice taqiyyah in public (71) .
Many instances of mass taqiyyah have been recorded in various Babi accounts. Mass taqiyyah occurred in localities where the persecutions and opposition to the Cause were particularly intense. A major disadvantage of mass taqiyyah was the abandonment of the faith by their children and grandchildren.
Following the ill-fated attempt on the life of Nasirul-Din Shah, an official order was issued to all Governors and Regional Rulers to vehemently attempt to arrest them and destroy their numbers. ulama are reminded to issue Fatwas for their execution and consider their possessions Halal [available for plunder] (72).
· The number of mass taqiyyah cases amongst the Babis reached such a proportion that according to Nabil writes: it caused the ignorant to assume that there are no more believers left. (73) . Similarly Browne records that despite his best efforts he was unable to obtain Babi literature during his travels in Iran.
· The numerous children and grandchildren of Aqa Sayyid Isma`il Kashfi one of the devoted disciples of Vahid following his return from Nayriz, moved away from this cause and displayed little resolve in investigation and participation in (Babi) acitivities73B.
· Many of the Babis in Qum followed the example set by Mirza Muhammad Husayn Mutavalli Qumi, refusing the take part in uprisings and were thus protected from the afflictions for years (74).
· Many Babis in the city of Yazd practiced taqiyyah following the persecutions there after the ill-fated attempt on the life of the Shah (year 1268 HQ). Many more practiced taqiyyah during another round of persecutions in the year 1300 AH (75).
· Many Babis in Zanjan practiced taqiyyah after the violent crushing of the Zanjan uprising and again following the attempt on the life of the Shah. The children and grand children of the martyrs in Zanjan distanced themselves from the faith and refused to meet other Babis or disclose their relationship to the martyrs. They continued to live in hiding, isolated from one another and in a state of total concealment (76) .
· Many Babis practiced taqiyyah during the persecutions in Tehran following the crack down by Prince Kamran Mirza in 1300 A.H  (77). In Hamadan many Babis observed taqiyyah in order to protect their lives (78).
· A great majority of the Babis in the locality of Hindijan publicly practiced taqiyyah and convinced the Mujtahids that they have converted back to Islam. Whilst many became Moslems over time, a number of them continued to uphold taqiyyah for a considerable period of time (79).
· After the martyrdom of the Bab, many of his relatives in Shiraz lived in fear of their lives. They practiced taqiyyah for years until such time that Bahaullah dispatched his teachers to Shiraz (80).
· Mirza Ahmad Kashani was one of the early believers in Kashan. He had met the Bab whilst He was staying in the house of Haji Mirza Jani Kashani. During the persecution of the Babis following the attempt on the life of the Shah, the mob attacked his house in order to arrest him. He remained hidden for a while and then decided to leave for Baghdad. He joined a fellow Kashani on the way. At Baghdad he observed that his travelling companion in the House of Bahaullah and realised that they were both concealing their intentions from one another earlier during their journey from Kashan (81).
· Mulla Ali Akbar Shirazi practiced taqiyyah to conceal his true affiliations from his friends Mulla Ghulam Husayn and Mulla Muhammad Riza. Later he abandoned taqiyyah and began to talk to them about the Cause (82).
(83); Haji Shaykh Zaynul-Abidin Abrari recalls meeting a Babi in Karbala who had escaped the persecutions in the City of Yazd. When asked about further information about the Cause, the Babi pleads with him: Haji this is not the place for such conversation and asks him to practice taqiyyah.83
Cooperation with the Officials
A number of Babis cooperated with the authorities in the identification, arrest and persecution of their fellow Babis in return for saving their lives. Such Babis had to prove their sincerity to the authorities by implementing tough sanctions against their colleagues. In certain instances it is difficult to ascertain whether their cooperation was done voluntarily or under duress.
· Vahid managed to convert many of the ulama in the township of Istahbanat on his way to Nayriz. Many of them sensing that the government troops were planning an attack, joined forces and under the leadership of Haji Rasul Mihrizi formerly a devout follower of Vahid and attacked their fellow Babis. The same individual later provoked the ulama in Yazd in organizing another persecution against the Babis. At least on one occasion he lashed the Babis with his own hands (84).
· Another Babi was Aqa Sayyid Isma`il Maranjani. He initially requested Vahid for his consent to marry his daughter. When this was refused, Aqa Sayyid Isma`il Maranjani attacked and looted the Babis, stole Vahids horse and joined the opposition forces and eventually assuming the leadership of the hardline Mullas in Nayirz (85).
· Following the ill-fated attempt on the life of Nasirul-Din Shah, prison officials were busily interrogating `Azim. Mirza Muhammad Husayn Motavalli Qumi a defected Babi intervened saying there are souls greater that `Azim under his shadow pointing to Bahaullah. On another occasion he cut off the ear of Azim to please his interogators (86).
· In the year 1300 A.H. two Babi defectors named Karbalai Muhammad and Mirza Ghulam Husayn actually initiated the persecutions in Tehran. They visited Aqa Sayyid Sadiq Tabatabai the grand Mujtahid, formally made a number of complaints from the Babis and submitted a list of more than 1000 Babis within the Tehran province to the Mulla. During the meeting they advised the Mujtahid that the Babis call him Dajjal. This infuriated Aqa Sayyid Sadiq Tabatabai to such an extent that he immediately drafted a letter to Prince Kamran Mirza requesting the massacre of all Babis. He enclosed the list of Tehrani Babis with the letter. Following the receipt of the letter, Prince Kamran Mirza arranged a private meeting with the two Babis and questioned them about the activities of the Babis in Tehran and specifically Sayyid Mahdi Dahaji. Finally he advise them to continue their associations with the Babis and Bahais. They were to inform him of potential Bahai gatherings so he could dispatch his troops for their mass arrest.
The Bahais learnt of the wickedness of Karbalai Muhammad and Mirza Ghulam Husayn and refused to associate with them. After a short time Karbalai Muhammad again visited Aqa Sayyid Sadiq Tabatabai the grand Mujtahid complaining that the Prince has not acted on your earlier correspondence. The Mujtahid wrote a second letter to Kamran Mirza threatening that if you do not arrest and execute the Bahais, the masses will take the initiative in to their own hands.
Finally the government officials led by Karbalai Muhammad raided the houses of the Bahais. Karbalai Muhammad started by questioning the owner and would go inside and collect the Bahai literature as evidence. Amongst the seized items were the Bayan-i Farsi, Commentary on the Surah of Kawthar, Commentary on the Surah of Baqarah, Tablets from Bahaullah and a photograph of Sultanul-Shuhada. Karbalai Muhammad delivered these items directly to the house of the Mujtahid.
Simultaneously Mirza Ghulam Husayn led another group of government officials in another part of Tehran. He caused the capture of many including Mirza Abul Fadl Gulpaygani. A total of 37 Babis and Bahais were arrested during this round of persecutions (87).
Clever Responses Under Pressure
Many Babis used a combination of vague and two-sided satirical language in order to trick the authorities in to believing they were not a Babi.
· Mulla Abdullah Fadil was one of the learned Babis (formerly a respected Mulla) captured by the Husamul-Dawlah the Governor of Fars on orders from Shaykh Husayn the Mujtahid of the City in 1287 HQ. In response to the question of whether you are a Babi, he replied:
What can I say. May God never bring afflictions to his creatures. Every man has rivals and enemies in his own class and occupation. The creed of ulama are no exception. The majority of the respected people of Fars hold me in high regards and this has caused their jealousy. In the past they have alleged that I am a Sufi simply because I had referred to the words of Shaykhul-Rais [Aristotle] and Sadrul-Motaalihin[Mulla Sadra Shirazi]. Now they have alleged in the presence of his Excellency that I am a Babi(88).
The Governor asked So what they allege about you and others is untrue?. Mulla Abdullah Fadil replied I search after the truth and have not yet reached the essence of the matter. I have no knowledge of the super natural and hidden secrets. This reply convinced the Governor who arranged for his freedom88.
· Muhammad Khan Baluch was a sufi from the southern Balushistan province who had met Bahaullah in Akka and became a Bahai. During the persecution in Shiraz in 1287A.H. he was captured. The Governor asked him Are you a Babi ?. He replied It is obvious that I am a Dervish. And dervishes follow a style not a religion. The Governor asked him to insult Subh-i Azal. Muhammad Khan Baluch used a humorous tome to condemn the morning (subh), noon and night of Eternity (Azal). The audience became amused and the Governor arranged for his freedom (89).
· Aqa Mirza Mahdi was a respected Mulla in the city of Rasht. He had become a Babi following a series of discussions with Andalib. In the year 1297 A.H. the enemies provoked the Mujtahid of that city Aqa Mirza Abdul-Baqi to capture and execute him. The Mujtahid invited Aqa Mirza Mahdi to his house. When he entered the house, Aqa Mirza Mahdi observed crowds of people had gathered awaiting on receiving orders from the Mujtahid to persecute him. He immediately embraced the Mujtahid and greeted him in a warm and friendly manner. The Mujtahid became surprised and told the audience: I had suspected that such rumors are false. I have no doubts regarding the faith and loyalty of Mirza Mahdi. Mirza Mahdi replied:
Let me begin by explaining why some people think that I am a Babi:
I met up with a Dervish accidentally a short time ago. He was a pleasant talker and I socialised with him.
After a few days he asked me: Is it true that you followers of Ithna Ashari Shiism are awaiting the appearance of the Qaim in the year 1260 according to the traditions and Ahadith from the Holy Imams ?
I answered: Yes we are waiting for his coming. But I have not heard traditions regarding the year 1260.
He recited the famous tradition from Abi Labid Makhzumi. I did not believe him. He requested a copy of the book Biharul-Anvar. I gave him the book. He opened a particular page and showed me the exact tradition. I became disillusioned and started to debate the matter. I asked about Dajjal and miracles and this is how he responded (lengthy summary of discussions).
As hard as I tried I failed to prove his errors. He produced some damning answers and prevented me from stating my convictions.
Anyhow we did not see one another afterward. I took my concerns to the teacher of my school who is an expert in tradition and Ahadith. Others learnt of the discussions and called me a Babi.
Now I request your expertise to give me sufficient answers so that I could debate and defeat the Babis in the future. (90)
· Aqa Mirza Mahdi used this opportunity to relay what he had heard from Andalib prior to his declaration. His words had a deep effect on the stunned audience. The Mujtahid said to him: If you had asked me earlier I would have provided the answers and punished the Dervish accordingly. However today time is short and we must leave the full answers to another time. He then allowed Mirza Mahdi to walk free (91).
· In Bushruieh following one of the upheavals a Mulla Muhammad Taqi was captured and told to recant his faith to save his life. He went to the local mosque and declared:
Some people are known to be Babis and the public in particular the Mujtahids curse them. Therefore I curse them.
He then stood down and returned to his house. This infuriated the local Mujtahid who claimed that Mulla Muhammad Taqi had effectively cursed him. He wrote to the ulama in Tabas and received a reply saying What has transpired is sufficient. Do not take any further actions. (92)
· Haji Mirza Kamalul-Din Naraqi after a year of practicing taqiyyah went to the mosque and addressed the congregation on the importance of observing the fundamental principles of the faith and their priority over the details, stood down from the pulpit and abruptly left the mosque. Many called him mentally disturbed and others suggested that he may have become a Babi (93).
· Haji Shaykh Zaynul-Abidin Abrari one of the (secret Babi) Mujtahids in the city of Yazd was invited by the ulama to attend a grand meeting in order to consider the fate of one of the captured Babis. He recalls:
They discussed the execution warrant and considered his infidelity and religion.. I remained quiet and internally bemused throughout. The chief of ulama Shaykh Sabzivari asked: Why are you silent? The religion of the Lord is under threat. It is not the place for silence.
I replied: Islam is in the utmost strength and its teachers have the utmost courage. As there are innocent lives being lost. Today the real protectors of religion, that is the Chief Mujtahids and ulama and deputies of the Imam are present in the Atabat and remain unaware of such conflict and bloodshed. It is best to convey the present situation to them and await their orders prior to taking any actions. In addition I can not see the logic in killing Shaykh Sadiq. If the purpose is to kill one Babi, what is the result ? So many have been massacred, what has been achieved ? If the purpose is to prevent the masses from becoming Babis, this approach is wrong. Because when a soul renowned for his steadfastness and honesty is killed, he becomes more important and attracts many others. Therefore it is appropriate that this committee makes the following resolution: to punish those who make allegations against others, and to treat the alleged Babis with kindness. So the masses will not be attracted to the and not become terrorised by our actions. This introduction managed to quell the fire of hatred and anger in the gathering to an extent that they abandoned the thought of killing Shaykh Sadiq.(94)
· Following the murder of Mulla Taqi Baraghani in Qazvin, the general assumption was that it was planned by Aqa Hadi Farhadi. The mob attacked his house but could not find him. Aqa Hadi managed to conceal his identity and was busily planing to free Tahirih. The angry mob captured his brother Aqa Mahdi, took him to the main square and began inflicting lashes on his bare body. They wanted to find out the whereabouts of Aqa Hadi. At the same time the disguised Aqa Hadi approached the perpetrators and asked with a Yazdi accent Who is this person and why are you torturing him ?. They replied: His brother has murdered Haji Mulla Taqi and has gone in to hiding. He will not reveal where. Aqa Hadi answered: Do not torture this poor soul. I witnessed a caravan arriving in Yazd coming from this City two days ago and amongst them was a certain Aqa Hadi. He is probably the same person that you are looking for. (95)
· Haji Mulla Muhammad Hamzih Shariatmadar always assisted and supported local Babis in the city of Barfurush. Whenever the public asked about the Babi claims and ideas he would reply I do not consider them bad and will not make negative comments about them. (96)
· Haji Mulla Baqir Ardikani the Imam Jumah of Ardikan was secretly a Babi. The rival mullas found out about his conversion and submitted a petition to the local Governor asking for his execution. When he met the Governor, Haji Mulla Baqir Ardikani resorted to pleasantries and managed to attract the mind and heart of the Governor. The Governor then ignored the petition, sent the Haji to Karbala for two years and arranged an elaborate welcome party after his return (97).
Embarrassment in the Presence of Officials
taqiyyah and dissimulation did not always save the lives of the Babis.
· Aqa Rasul Bihnamiri and thirty of his followers left the Tabarsi fortress and intended to convey their allegiance to the government forces. As they surrendered they were sprayed with bullets. Their bodies were taken to nearby towns and beheaded in public view (98).
· During the interrogations the government officials repeatedly asked Mirza Aqa Khan Kirmani, Shaykh Ahmad Ruhi and Haji Mirza Husayn Khan whether they are Babi or Bahai. They all concealed their beliefs and used a combination of abusive terms and hate words to distance themselves from the Cause. When asked: You are the Son in Laws of Azal. How can you not be a Babi or Azali ? They replied by swearing at the Bab and Azal. A short time later the same officials beheaded all three and sent their heads to the Royal Court in Tehran (99).
In other instances the taqiyyah of the individuals became the object of redicule for the interrogators:
· During the interrogations of the Babi captives following the attempt on the life of the Shah, Sayyid Husayn Mutavalli Qumi became one of the Babis who recanted their faith and wanted to save his own life. As the officials were questioning Azim, Qumi intervened saying: There are souls greater that Azim under his shadow pointing to Bahaullah. The chief interrogator became infuriated and hit him in the face saying: Your mischievous actions are obvious to all. Shut your mouth and be quite. (100)
· During the interrogation of the Babis in Tehran in year 1300 HQ, Mirza Zaynul-Abidin Jarrah claimed to be a Sufi and a follower of Mirza Kuchak Hamadani. He added: I also curse the Babis. Prince Kamran Mirza became angry and after a heavy round of verbal insult told him: Do you assume that I am ignorant about your affairs, pursuing a line of trickery? He then imprisoned Mirza Zaynul-Abidin Jarrah along with the other captives. On another occasion Kamran Mirza addressed the Babi recanters with these words: During the times of peace and comfort you are firm Bahais and at times of difficulty and distress you make false allegations against decent people. (101)
· On one occasion Haji Mirza Rida Quli Hakim the brother of Bahaullah visited Mirza Husayn Khan Mushirul-Dawlah the Premier. The Premier introduced him to the guests as the brother of Bahaullah. Hakim protested: Why didnt you introduce my relationship with my famous father ? Mirza Husayn Khan replied:
You must be proud of having such a brother. Thousands of souls from all backgrounds recognize his station with utmost respect. How is it that you run away from such a privilege? .. Your brother is the one individual who saved my face in front of the Ottoman authorities. The reason is that every time Iranian dignitaries and Princes visited Istanbul they would immediately go around to every Ottoman minister and official seeking money. This had caused the Ottoman authorities to assume that Iranians are all beggars by nature. When your brother was brought in to Istanbul, He did not visit the house of any of the Ottoman official except those who came to his house. This convinced the Ottoman authorities that there are grand personalities amongst the Iranians(102)
· On another occasion Haji Mirza Rida Quli Hakim went to the house of Mirza Husayn Khan Mushirul-Dawlah. He was entertained by the host, his two brothers and other member of the Qatar establishment. Mirza Husayn Khan asked him: What is the news from the Gentlemen ? Hakim who claimed to be a follower of Mulla Ali Kani, started to talk about this Mulla. Mirza Husayn Khan intervened saying: I meant the brothers. Hakim replied: I have no links or correspondence with them. Mr Alaul Malik can testify to this fact. Mirza Husayn Khan became infuriated and said:
Hakim, did you assume that I had an ulterior motive from asking this question ? This is not true. Although during my term as Ambassador certain actions were implemented in Istanbul but they were wrong. The (former) Premier Mirza Aqa Khan committed a great treason to this country. For years and years enormous cash reserves from this country were sent to Saudi Arabia. God intended to finally channel this wealth back to Iran. However the Iranian Government did not realize this fact. I am telling you the position and station of his Cause is far greater than the personal servitude of people like me and you.(103)
· During a personal visit, Mirza Abduls Khan Alaul-Malik one of the Qajar officials told Mirza Fadlullah Khan Nizamul-Mamalik (niece of Hakim):
Your uncle (Mirza Rida Quli) assumes that our friendship is based on superficial worldly matters. However as I sense that you are a clever young man, I confide in you that I associate with this family for certain other considerations. I can see that the likes of you people will not associate with us in the future.(104)
1. Taqiyyah has its roots in Iranian psyche. It was a wide spread practice amongst the defeated Zoroastrians after the devastating series of defeats they suffered at the hands of Islamic warriors.
2. Taqiyyah became especially important to Iranians once they converted to the Shi`ite branch of Islam under the Safavids.
3. The Founders of Shaykhi school used taqiyyah to promulgate their anticipation for the coming of the Perfect Shii. Shaykhi literature contain numerous references to secrets of resurrection and the inability of the common people to understand them.
4. At the time of the revelation of Bab, the ferocity of prejudice and hatred was such that He first revealed his position as the Deputy to the Hidden Imam. Taqiyyah was an essential requirement during the early phase of the revelation simply because the level of prejudice within the society could have totally crushed the movement before it had a chance to spread.
5. The Bab even ordered many of his followers to practice taqiyyah in order to spread the cause and carry out importance services for the faith.
6. As the Babi cause progressed and their numbers grew, the Bab revealed his true identity as the Hidden Imam and a manifestation from God. This claim effectively made the Babi faith independent from other Shi`ite sects. Mulla Husayn was now appointed to the position of Deputy of the Hidden Imam.
7. After the martyrdom of the Bab and the severe persecutions that followed in the ensuing years, the practice of taqiyyah became popular amongst the Babis. There were many instances of learned Babis concealing their faith and evidence of Mass taqiyyah in a number of cities.
8. Many of those who recanted their faith continued to support and assist other Babis in times of need. For others the practice of taqiyyah was a forerunner to their eventual abandonment of their faith. A few even engaged in the active persecution of their former colleagues. On the other hand many abandoned taqiyyah and later lost their life for their Faith.
9. There are a number of treaties and compilations written by Babis who practiced taqiyyah. It is difficult to ascertain their success in assisting the Cause. Such works were indicative of the inner struggle within the Babis in proclaiming their true identity.
10. Taqiyyah was in many instances used to conceal ones faith from the threats posed by the immediate family members.
11. Taqiyyah did not always result in saving ones life. It was largely a circumstantial confession. Many Babis lost their lives even though they had earlier recanted their faith.
12. Bahaullah clearly announced that the recognition of the manifestation of God and steadfastness His Cause is more important than observing any of the other teachings. Gradual abandonment of taqiyyah amongst the Bahais was one of the distinguishing feature of the new religion from the Babi era. After this time the practice of taqiyyah became unofficially superseded.
13. In contrast the Azali Babis glorified taqiyyah in their literature. taqiyyah was considered a virtue and classified into various levels of concealment. Prominent Azali leaders openly recanted their faith and even abused Bab and Azal in the process. The extent of taqiyyah in their words and actions caused Mirza Abul-Fadl to question Edward Brownes method of portraying of Azali Babis. Taqiyyah became one of the distinguishing features of the Azali-Bahai split.
1. Fadil Mazandarani, Zuhur Al-Haqq Vol 3 , H-Bahai : Lansing Michigan 1998
2. Resurrection & Renewal, Abbas Amanat, (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1989), p 205
3. Shojaul-Din Shafa', Dar Peykar Ahriman (Paris, 1984), p 35,
4. Ibid., p 210; also refer to footnotes 2, 15, 19 and 58.
5. Ibid., , p 223.
6. Bihar al-Anvar, Muhammad Baqir Majlisi, p 26, Tehran, 1982
7. Abbas Amanat, Resurrection & Renewal, p 200.
8. Ibid., p 56
9. Risala by Sayyid Kazim Rashti in INBA vol II no 4, p 216-263, cited in Amanat, Resurrection & Renewal, p 57
10. Kitabul-Raja, Shaykh Ahmad Ahsai in response to a certain Sayyid Husayn wrote this treaties regarding the day of resurrection. Detailed in Qatil page 53 and cited in Resurrection & Renewal, page 57
11. Izhaqul-Batil, Haji Muhammad Karim Khan Kirmani, Tehran, n.d., cited in Amanat, Resurrection & Renewal, p. 200
12. Amanat, Resurrection & Renewal p 56-58
13. Dalail-i Sabaih, The Bab, n.d., p 29
14. Letter from the Bab adressed to Mulla Husayn, INBA No 91, IV, p 10-14, cited in Amanat, p. 200
15. Zuhur Al-Haqq Vol 3 p 418
16. Letter from the Bab adressed to Mulla Ibrahim Shirazi, INBA No 91, XXXVI, p 170-176, cited in Amanat, pp. 56-58.
17. Letter from the Bab addressed to the Nahi brothers, INBA No 91, IV, p 137, cited in Amanat, p. 200.
18. Letter from the Bab addressed to believers in Qazvin, INBA No 91, XL, p 193, cited in Amanat, p. 201
19. Tarikh Nabil Zarandi, p 156-158
20. Kashful-Ghita, Mirza Abul Fadl and Mirza Mehdi Gulpayegani, p 242, Tashkent 1919
21. Mazandarani, Zuhur Al-Haqq Vol 3 p 287
22. Kashful-Ghita, Mirza Abul Fadl and Mirza Mehdi Gulpayegani, Tashkent 1919, pp. 204-205.
23. Mazandarani, Zuhur Al-Haqq Vol 3 p 459-460,
24. Mazandarani, Zuhur Al-Haqq Vol 3 p 458
25. Mazandarani, Zuhur Al-Haqq Vol 3 p 458
26. Mazandarani, Zuhur Al-Haqq Vol 3 p 338
27. Nuqtatul-Kaf, Anon., ed EG Browne p 184-187 Leiden : EJ Brill 1910
28. Nuqtatul-Kaf, Anon., ed EG Browne p 184-187
29. Nuqtatul-Kaf, Anon., ed EG Browne p 184-187
30. Nuqtatul-Kaf, Anon., ed EG Browne p 184-187
31. Nuqtatul-Kaf, Anon., ed EG Browne p 184-187
32. Mazandarani, Zuhur Al-Haqq Vol 3 p 482 33. Mazandarani, Zuhur Al-Haqq Vol 3 p 401-402,
34. Mazandarani, Zuhur Al-Haqq Vol 3 p 73-74,
35. Fadil Mazandarani, Zuhur Al-Haqq, Vol 6 p 129 H-Bahai : Lansing Michigan 1999
36. Mazandarani, Zuhur Al-Haqq Vol 3 p 154
37. Mazandarani, Zuhur Al-Haqq Vol 6 p 39
38. Mazandarani, Zuhur Al-Haqq Vol 6 p 1013,
39. Mazandarani, Zuhur Al-Haqq Vol 3 p 441
40. Mazandarani, Zuhur Al-Haqq Vol 3 p 442
41. Mazandarani, Zuhur Al-Haqq Vol 6 p 817
42. Mazandarani, Zuhur Al-Haqq Vol 6 p 819
43. Mazandarani, Zuhur Al-Haqq Vol 6 p 823
44. Kashful-Ghita, Mirza Abul Fadl and Mirza Mehdi Gulpayegani, p 398
45. Mazandarani, Zuhur Al-Haqq Vol 6 p 874
46. Mazandarani, Zuhur Al-Haqq Vol 6 p 678
47. Mazandarani, Zuhur Al-Haqq Vol 3 p 306
48. Mazandarani, Zuhur Al-Haqq Vol 3 p 96
49. Mazandarani, Zuhur Al-Haqq Vol 3 p 103
50. Fadil Mazandarani, Zuhur Al-Haqq Vol 4 H-Bahai : Lansing Michigan 1999, p 110.
51. Kashful-Ghita, Mirza Abul Fadl and Mirza Mehdi Gulpayegani, p 398 Tashkent 1919
52. Sharh-i Hal, Ustad Muhammad Ali Salmani, p 3, H-Bahai : Lansing Michigan 1997
53. Sharh-i Hal, Ustad Muhammad Ali Salmani, p 4
54. Mazandarani, Zuhur Al-Haqq Vol 3 p 73-74, H-Bahai
55. Mazandarani, Zuhur Al-Haqq Vol 3 p 154
56. Mazandarani, Zuhur Al-Haqq Vol 3 p 439-441, H-Bahai
57. Mazandarani, Zuhur Al-Haqq Vol 6 p 700
58. Hasht Behesht, Mirza Aqa Khan Kirmani, p 62-65, printed in Tehran: year unknown
59. Hasht Behesht, Mirza Aqa Khan Kirmani, p 62-65, printed in Tehran: year unknown
60. Kashful-Ghita, Mirza Abul Fadl and Mirza Mehdi Gulpayegani, p 159-160
61. Kashful-Ghita, Mirza Abul Fadl and Mirza Mehdi Gulpayegani, p 159-160
62. Kashful-Ghita, Mirza Abul Fadl and Mirza Mehdi Gulpayegani, p 159-160
63. Kashful-Ghita, Mirza Abul Fadl and Mirza Mehdi Gulpayegani, p 159-160
64. Kashful-Ghita, Mirza Abul Fadl and Mirza Mehdi Gulpayegani, p 69-70
65. Kashful-Ghita, Mirza Abul Fadl and Mirza Mehdi Gulpayegani, p 130
66. Mazandarani, Zuhur Al-Haqq Vol 4 p 291
67. Mazandarani, Zuhur Al-Haqq Vol 6 p 700
68. Mazandarani, Zuhur Al-Haqq Vol 6 p 641
69. Mazandarani, Zuhur Al-Haqq Vol 6 p 874
70. Mazandarani, Zuhur Al-Haqq Vol 6 p 869
71. Mazandarani, Zuhur Al-Haqq Vol 6 p 817
72. Mazandarani, Zuhur Al-Haqq Vol 4 p 107
73. Mazandarani, Zuhur Al-Haqq Vol 6 p 23
74. Mazandarani, Zuhur Al-Haqq Vol 3 p 392
75. Mazandarani, Zuhur Al-Haqq Vol 6 p 869
76. Mazandarani, Zuhur Al-Haqq Vol 3 p 184
77. Mazandarani, Zuhur Al-Haqq Vol 5 p 279
78. Mazandarani, Zuhur Al-Haqq Vol 6 p 700
79. Mazandarani, Zuhur Al-Haqq Vol 6 p 905
80. Mazandarani, Zuhur Al-Haqq Vol 6 p 871
81. Mazandarani, Zuhur Al-Haqq Vol 6 p 804
82. Mazandarani, Zuhur Al-Haqq Vol 6 p 913
83. Mazandarani, Zuhur Al-Haqq Vol 6 p 817
84. Mazandarani, Zuhur Al-Haqq Vol 4 p 110
85. Mazandarani, Zuhur Al-Haqq Vol 3 p 300
86. Mazandarani, Zuhur Al-Haqq Vol 4 p 113
87. Mazandarani, Zuhur Al-Haqq Vol 5 p 269
88. Mazandarani, Zuhur Al-Haqq Vol 6 p 878
89. Mazandarani, Zuhur Al-Haqq Vol 6 p 940-941,
90. Mazandarani, Zuhur Al-Haqq Vol 6 p 961-963,
91. Mazandarani, Zuhur Al-Haqq Vol 5 p 371
92. Mazandarani, Zuhur Al-Haqq Vol 6 p 62
93. Mazandarani, Zuhur Al-Haqq Vol 6 p 678
94. Mazandarani, Zuhur Al-Haqq Vol 6 p 817
95. Mazandarani, Zuhur Al-Haqq Vol 3 p 375
96. Mazandarani, Zuhur Al-Haqq Vol 6 p 441
97. Mazandarani, Zuhur Al-Haqq Vol 3 p 482
98. Mazandarani, Zuhur Al-Haqq Vol 3 p 447
99. Mazandarani, Zuhur Al-Haqq Vol 6 p 929
100. Mazandarani, Zuhur Al-Haqq Vol 4 p 113,
101. Mazandarani, Zuhur Al-Haqq Vol 5 p 279,
102. Mazandarani, Zuhur Al-Haqq Vol 5 p 398-399,
103. Mazandarani, Zuhur Al-Haqq Vol 6 p 504,
104. Mazandarani, Zuhur Al-Haqq Vol 6 p 504,
Provisional Translations into English by the Author