"This year," says Lady Sheil writing in September 1850, "seven Ba[macron over the a]bees were executed at Tehran for an alleged conspiracy against the life of the Prime Minister. Their fate excited general sympathy, for every one knew that no criminal act had been committed, and suspected the accusation to be a pretence. Besides this Bábeeism

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had spread in Tehran too. They died with the utmost firmness. Previously to decapitation they received an offer of pardon, on the condition of reciting the Kelema, or creed, that Mahommed is the Prophet of God. It was rejected, and these visionaries died steadfast in their faith. The Persian minister was ignorant of the maxim that persecution was proselytism1". Amongst these seven - 'the Seven Martyrs' as they are called by the Bábís - was the Báb's uncle Hájí Mírzá Seyyid 'Alí. The other sufferers were Hájí Mullá Isma'íl of Kum, Mírzá Kurbán 'Alí the dervish, Áká Seyyid Huseyn of Turshíz the mujtahid, Hájí Mullá Nakí of Kirmán, Mírzá Muhammad Huseyn of Tabríz, and Mullá Sádik. of Marágha. Of their martyrdom the Táríkh-i-Jadíd gives a long and touching account, on which I here append an abridgement.

        What led to this tragic event was, as stated by Lady Sheil, a report conveyed to Mírzá Takí Khán the Prime Minister that the Bábís in Teherán meditated a rising. Thirty-eight persons suspected of belonging to the obnoxious sect were therefore arrested and cast into prison. After a few days it was decided that all of these who would consent to renounce or repudiate their connection with the Báb and his doctrines should be released, but that those who refused to do so should suffer death.

        When this news was brought to the prisoners, Hájí Mullá Isma'íl of Kum, who was one of the earliest believers and who had been present at the conference at Badasht [see Gobineau, pp. 180-184], arose and addressed his fellow-captives, announcing his own intention of standing firm in the faith even unto death, and exhorting others like-minded with himself and not hindered by any impediment to follow his example, "for," said he, "if we do not show forth the religion of His Highness the Ká'im, who then will show it forth?" At the same time he declared that those whose faith was weak, or who were prevented by domestic ties from freely laying down their lives, must judge for themselves as to the duty incumbent upon them, and decide whether they were justified in making a formal renunciation of the Báb's doctrine.

        1 Lady Sheil's Life and Manners in Persia, pp. 180-181.

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        Accordingly of the thirty-eight prisoners seven (including Hájí Mullá Isma'íl) determined to adopt the more courageous course, while the others for various reasons were not prepared to forfeit their lives, and decided to recant. The latter were therefore released: the former were led out to die.

        In spite of the wide-spread sympathy felt for the sufferers there were not lacking wretches to deride and mock them as they were led forth to the place of execution1. Some of these threw stones at them; others confined themselves to abuse and raillery, crying out, "These are Bábís and madmen." Thereupon Hájí Mullá Isma'íl turned towards them and said, "Yes, we are Bábís; but mad we are not. By God, O people, it is for your awakening and your enlightenment that we have foregone life, wealth, wife, and child, and have shut our eyes to the world and its citizens, that perchance ye may be warned and may escape from uncertainty and error, that ye may fall to making enquiry, that ye may recognize the Truth as is meet, and that ye may no longer be veiled therefrom."

        Now when they were come to the place of execution, one came to Hájí Mullá Isma'íl and said, "Such an one of your friends will, on condition of your recanting, give a sum of money in order that they may not kill you. To save your life what harm is there in saying merely 'I am not a Bábí'?" To this, however, Hájí Mullá Isma'íl would by no means consent; and, when greatly importuned, he drew himself up and said,
    [two lines of Persian/Arabic text]

    "O zephyr! Say from me to Isma'íl2 destined for sacrifice,
    'To return alive from the street of the Friend is not the condition of love.'"
        1 This, as I have heard, was the square called Sabz-i-Meydán, adjoining the northern limit of the bazaars, but according to the Táríkh-i-Jadíd the execution took place in the Meydán-i-Sháh
        2 According to the Muhammadans it was Ishmael [Ismá'íl] not Isaac [Is-hák] whom Abraham designed for a sacrifice to God.

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Then he took off his turban and said to the executioner, "Go on with thy work;" and the latter, filled with amazement, struck the fatal blow.

        The next victim was Mírzá Kurbán-'Alí the dervish, an old man highly respected and beloved of all, who had spent the last night in prison in exhorting and encouraging his comrades and reciting verses appropriate to their condition. So high was the consideration in which he was held that the Sháh's mother exerted her influence with her son to have him pardoned, declaring that it was impossible that he could be a Bábí. So, as he stood there awaiting death, messengers came from the palace to give him another chance of saving his life. "Thou art a dervish," said they, "and art a man of excellence and virtue: they have thrown suspicion upon thee, but thou art not of this misguided people." "I consider myself as one of the disciples and servants of His Highness [the Báb]," answered the old dervish, "though whether He hath accepted me into His service or not I know not." And when they continued to press him and urge him to save his life he cried, "This drop of blood - this poor life - is nought: were I possessed of the lordship of the world, and had I a thousand lives, I would freely cast them before the feet of His friends." So, when they perceived that their efforts were of no avail, they desisted therefrom, and signified to the executioner that he should proceed with his work. The first blow struck only wounded the old man's neck and cast his turban to the ground. He raised his head and exclaimed,
    [two lines of Persian/Arabic text]

    "O happy that intoxicated lover who at the feet of the Friend
    Knoweth not whether it be his head or his turban which he casteth!"
Then the executioner quickly dealt him another blow which slew him.

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        After him was slain Áká Seyyid Huseyn the mujtahid of Turshíz, who, returning homewards from Kerbelá to visit his friends and family, had been arrested in Teherán. He too died with the utmost firmness and alacrity.

        Then came the turn of the Báb's uncle Hájí Mírzá Seyyid 'Alí. A merchant of his acquaintance wished to ransom him for the sum of three hundred túmáns, but he declared that to suffer martyrdom was his greatest desire. Then he took off his turban, and, raising his face towards heaven, exclaimed, "O God, Thou art witness of how they are slaying the son of Thy Most Honourable Prophet without fault on his part." Then he turned to the executioner and recited this verse:-
    [two lines of Persian/Arabic text]

    "How long shall grief of separation from him slay me?
    Cut off my head, that Love may bestow on me a head1."
When he had said this he too submitted himself to the executioner's hands.

        After this the other three victims, each in his turn, met their death with like heroism. Of the martyrdom of one of these not specified by name but described as "a young Seyyid of pleasing countenance and attractive aspect"; of the attempt to save him made by Hájí 'Alí Khán the Hájibu'd-Dawla (see p. 52, note 1), who was superintending the execution and was moved to a compassion rare in him at the sight of so youthful and comely a sufferer; and of the refusal of the youthful Bábí to escape death and secure wealth, luxury, and a fair bride as the price of a simple recantation, the Táríkh-i-Jadíd gives a detailed account, which, notwithstanding its pathetic interest, lack of space compels me to omit in this place.

        When the executioners had completed their bloody work, the rabble onlookers, awed for a while by the patient courage of the martyrs, again allowed their ferocious fanati-

1 Masnaví, Book VI, p. 649, l. 2 (ed. 'Alá 'ud-Dawla).

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cism to break out in insults to the mortal remains of those whose spirits had now passed beyond the power of their malice. They cast stones and filth at the motionless corpses, abusing them, and crying out, "This is the recompense of the people of affection and of such as pursue the Path of Wisdom and Truth!" Nor would they suffer their bodies to be interred in a burial-ground, but cast them into a pit outside the Gate of Sháh 'Abdu'l-'Azím, which they then filled up.

        After detailing the occurrences briefly set forth above, the Bábí historian proceeds to point out the special value and unique character of the testimony given by the "Seven Martyrs." They were men representing all the more important classes in Persia - divines, dervishes, merchants, shop-keepers, and government officials; they were men who had enjoyed the respect and consideration of all; they died fearlessly, willingly, almost eagerly, declining to purchase life by that mere lip-denial, which, under the name of ketmán or takiya, is recognized by the Shi'ites as a perfectly justifiable subterfuge in case of peril; they were not driven to despair of mercy as were those who died at Sheykh Tabarsí and Zanján; and they sealed their faith with their blood in the public square of the Persian capital wherein is the abode of the foreign ambassadors accredited to the court of the Sháh. And herein the Bábí historian is right: even those who speak severely of the Bábí movement generally, characterizing it as a communism destructive of all order and all morality, express commiseration for these guiltless victims. To the day of their martyrdom we may well apply Gobineau's eloquent reflection on a similar tragedy enacted two years later:- "Cette journée donna au Bâb plus de partisans secrets que bien des prédications n'auraient pu faire. Je l'ai dit tout ˆ l'heure, l'impression produite sur le peuple par l'effroyable impassibilité des martyrs fut profonde et durable. J'ai souvent entendu raconter les scčnes de cette journée par des témoins oculaires, par des hommes tenant de prčs au gouvernement, quelques-uns occupant des fonctions éminentes. A les entendre, on eut pu croire aisément que tous étaient bâbys, tant ils se montraient pénétrés d'admiration pour des souvenirs o l'Islam ne jouait pas le plus beau rôle, et par

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la haute idée qu'ils avouaient des ressources, des espérances, et des moyens de succčs de la secte1."

        With regard to Hájí Mírzá Seyyid 'Alí the Báb's uncle, with whom we are more particularly concerned, the Táríkh-i-Jádid gives the following additional particulars. Before leaving Shíráz (where, as it would appear, he had remained after the Báb departed to Isfahán) he set all his affairs in order and paid all his creditors in person, as though in anticipation of a speedy death. Then he took a tender farewell of all his friends and relatives, besought them to pardon any fault which he might have committed in regard to them, and set out for Teherán, apparently with the intention of proceeding thence to Chihrík. to visit the Báb. Perhaps on his arrival at the capital he was met with the news of his nephew's martyrdom at Tabríz on July 9th 1850: at all events it would appear that he continued there till, not two months later, he himself met with a similar fate.

        As the Bábí historian does not omit to point out, no stronger evidence of the marvellous personal influence of the Báb over all with whom he came in contact can be found than the devoted attachment to him manifested by his aged uncle, who, knowing him from his childhood upwards, and being fully conversant with his daily life, was one of the first to embrace the faith for which he died. Of the extraordinary purity and piety of the Báb's life, indeed, we have ample evidence. His bitterest enemies cannot asperse his personal character. Hence those who knew him best loved and revered him most. I was fortunate enough to meet at Acre one who was the Báb's cousin, comrade, play-fellow, and brother-in-law. He was a gentle old man with light blue eyes and white beard. I begged him to give me some account of the Báb's personal character. "He was very dignified and gentle in his manner," replied he, "yet at times, when any attempt to treat him unfairly or discourteously was made, he could be very stern. Once I remember while we were engaged in business at Bushire a custom-house officer attempted to

        1 Gobineau, Religions et Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale, 2nd ed. p. 303.

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extort money from him wrongfully and treated him with disrespect. Thereupon the Báb, finding remonstrance unavailing, struck his assailant with his slipper once, accompanying the blow with a look of such majestic anger that the latter instantly became silent and took his departure."

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