As the accounts hitherto published of the Báb's movements during the earlier period of his mission are somewhat contradictory, it has seemed to me advisable to embody in the present note all that I have been able to learn on this matter, together with the conclusions which may be fairly deduced from the facts at present available.

        First of all let us enumerate briefly the facts which seem to be sufficiently established by good evidence.

        (1) Mírzá 'Alí Muhammad, afterwards the Báb, was born at Shíráz either on Muharram 1st A.H. 1236 (Oct. 9th, A.D. 1820), or on Muharram 1st 1235 (Oct. 20th, A.D. 1819), most probably (for the reasons advanced in Note C, p. 221, supra) the former.

[page 250]

        (2) Whilst he was still of tender age he lost his father, Seyyid Muhammad Rizá, and was placed under the care of his maternal uncle, Mírzá Seyyid 'Alí (supra, p. 2).

        (3) On attaining years of discretion (probably, as Kazem- Beg states at p. 335 of his first article, when about fourteen or fifteen years old) he was sent to Bushire to help in his uncle's business (supra, p. 2).

        (4) Disinclined by nature to the calling for which he was destined, he proceeded at some time antecedent to the year A.H. 1259 (in which year Seyyid Kázim died, see p. 238, supra) to Kerbelá, where he resided for some time (two months, according to the Táríkh-i-Jadíd), occasionally attending the lectures of Hájí Seyyid Kázim of Resht.

        (5) In A.H. 1258 (A.D. 1842) when in his twenty-third year he married (B. ii, p. 993). There is no positive evidence to show whether this marriage took place at Shíráz or Kerbelá, but the former hypothesis appears more probable. By this marriage he had (according to a statement made by Subh-i-Ezel) one son named (if my memory serves me aright) Ahmad, who died in infancy. The loss of this child is said to be alluded to in the Commentary on the Súra of Joseph.

        (6) On Jamádí-ul-Úlá 5th, A.H. 1260 (May 23rd, A.D. 1844) Mírzá 'Alí Muhammad - then "twenty-four years of age and entering on his twenty-fifth year" as Subh-i-Ezel states, or, in his own words, "at an age which did not exceed five and twenty" (see p. 221, supra) - first became clearly conscious of the divine mission laid upon him, and (apparently without much delay) began to announce himself as the Báb. If by the 'manifestation' (~~~) we are to understand that period at which the views of the young Seer first became definitely formulated rather than that at which they were first made known to others, it is of course possible that some little while elapsed between the 'manifestation' and its disclosure. This hypothesis is supported by the narrative of the Táríkh-i-Jadíd, according to which Mullá Huseyn of Bushraweyh (who was, as is unanimously admitted, and as his titles 'the first Letter' and the 'First who believed' imply, the earliest convert) came to Shíráz shortly after the death of Seyyid Kázim, visited Mírzá 'Alí

[page 251]

Muhammad (with whom he had been previously acquainted at Kerbelá), and, during this first visit, was surprised by his former fellow-student demanding of him 'whether he saw in him the signs which must characterize Seyyid Kázim's successor?' (see B. ii, pp. 902-903). On the other hand it is clear that not more than a month or two can have elapsed between the time of the 'manifestation' and its disclosure, firstly, because the beginning of the Bábí propaganda is placed by both of the Musulmán historians in this same year of A.H. 1260; secondly, because seven months after the 'manifestation' (as will be shown immediately) the Báb, having laid the foundations of his religion at Shíráz, was away performing the pilgrimage to Mecca.

        We have now reached the point to which this note specially refers - the Báb's pilgrimage to Mecca. Concerning this Gobineau says simply (pp. 144-145), "Il fit trčs-jeune le pčlerinage de la Mecque...Il est bien probable que ce fut dans la ville sainte elle-męme qu'il se détacha absolument et définitivement de la foi du Prophčte, et qu'il concut la pensée de ruiner cette foi pour mettre ŕ sa place tout autre chose." Kazem-Beg says (i, p. 344), "Aprčs avoir semé bon gré mal gré quelques mauvais grains dans cette terre de Chiraz si fertile en préjugés et en superstitions, le Kerbčlaď Seďd Ali-Mohammed se rendit en pčlerinage ŕ la Mecque." In this instance Kazem-Beg is undoubtedly right; it was after, not before, the manifestation that the Báb went to Mecca. The Násikhu't-Tawáríkh is clear on this point. "To proceed with the narrative," it says, "when the Báb had laid the foundations of such an edifice, he, according to his promise, set out for Mecca the venerable." The promise alluded to in this passage is thus noticed on the preceding page: "Since tradition affirms that His Highness the Ká'im (i.e. the Imám Mahdí) shall come forth from Mecca the venerable, he (the Báb) used to tell his disciples that next year he would announce his claim in Mecca and come forth with the sword" A statement of Subh-i-Ezel's to the effect that the manifestation was in Shíráz (not in Kerbelá, as stated in the Násikhu't- Tawáríkh), that Mullá Huseyn first believed, and that soon after this the Báb set out on the pilgrimage to Mecca, taken in conjunction with the above testimony, seems to prove conclusively that the

[page 252]

pilgrimage-journey took place shortly after the 'manifestation.'

        Now since, as we have seen, the 'manifestation' was on Jamádí-ul-Úlá 5th A.H. 1260, and since the pilgrimage must be performed in the month of Zi'l-Hijjé (the last month of the Muhammadan year), it follows that Kazem-Beg's statement (i, p. 346) that "at the end of the year 1260 (1844) he (i.e. the Báb) returned from Mecca to Bandar-Bushire, where he was arrested in the month of October, by order of the Nizámu'd- Dawla Huseyn Khán, governor of Shíráz," is erroneous. For, according to the Násikhu't-Tawáríkh, the horsemen sent to Bushire to arrest the Báb set out from Shíráz on Sha'bán 16th, and returned, bringing with them their prisoner, on Ramazán 19th. The latter of these dates is confirmed by the Rawzatu's- Safá; while the Táríkh-i-Jadíd, after mentioning that the Báb's return to Bushire occurred in A.H. 1261, says that he was brought before Huseyn Khán on the eve of Ramazán 21st. Though neither of the Musulmán historians mentions the year1, it is evident that A.H. 1261 is intended, for in Ramazán A.H. 1260 the Báb had not yet started for Mecca. We may therefore add to the facts previously stated about the Báb's earlier movements-

        (7) That towards the end of the year A.H. 1260, and presumably in the month Zi'l-Ka'da of that year (November, A.D. 1844), he set out from Shíráz for Mecca.

        (8) That he remained at Mecca at any rate till Zi'l- Hijjé 13th A.H. 1260 (December 24th, A.D. 1844) for the completion of the rites incumbent on pilgrims.

        (9) That he returned by sea some time during the first half of the year A.H. 1261 (A.D. 1845) to Bushire, whence he sent missionaries to Shíráz, he himself remaining at the former place. (See supra, p. 5.)

        (10) That on Sha'bán 2nd A.H. 1261 (August 6th, A.D. 1845) strong measures were adopted by Huseyn Khán against these missionaries. (See supra, pp. 5-6.)

        (11) That on Sha'bán 16th A.H. 1261 (August 20th, 1845) horsemen were sent from Shíráz to arrest the Báb at Bushire.

1 Compare the remarks on pp. 186-187, supra.

[page 253]

        (12) That these horsemen re-entered Shíráz with their prisoner on Ramazán 19th A.H. 1261 (September 21st, A.D. 1845), and that on that same day (according to the Rawzatu's- Safá), or on the evening of the following day (according to the Táríkh-i-Jadíd), the Báb was brought before Huseyn Khán.

        There is not at present sufficient evidence to determine definitely the following points:-

        (1) At what age the Báb lost his father.

        (2) At what age he first left Shíráz and went to Bushire.

        (3) How long he remained at Bushire engaged in commerce.

        (4) When he went to Kerbelá, how long he remained there, and whether he married before, during, or after his sojourn there.

        (5) Whether he returned directly to Bushire after performing the rites of the pilgrimage at Mecca and visiting Medína, or whether he remained some few months in Arabia.

        The Báb was accompanied on the pilgrimage by Hájí Muhammad 'Alí Bárfurúshí (Kazem-Beg, i, p. 344, note; confirmed by Subh-i-Ezel), and was (according to Subh-i-Ezel) joined later by Hájí Suleymán Khán.

Back to Index