Juan R.I. Cole,
Department of History,
University of Michigan
International Journal of Middle East Studies vol. 24 (February 1992):1-26
Iranian Millenarianism and Democratic Thought
in the Nineteenth Century
Juan R.I. Cole
In 1905-11, Iranians startled the world by engaging in a protracted struggle over whether a constitutionalist regime would replace absolutism, a struggle that in some ways would preoccupy them for the rest of the century. 1 Little in Iran's political culture before 1905 had prepared outside observers for the outbreak of a conflict, and during the past thirty years tracing an intellectual genealogy for the revolution has been a major preoccupation of historians. Most researchers have looked at officials and diplomats, often examining unpublished or posthumously published manuscripts with little or no contemporary circulation, at least before the revolution. We might get closer to a social history of ideas by looking at religious and other movements outside the governmental elite. I will examine here the growth of belief in representative government within an Iranian millenarian movement, the Baha'i Faith, in the last third of the nineteenth century, as a way of understanding how new ideas circulated. 2 Historians have noted a link between millenarianism and democratic or populist thought elsewhere, after all. Scholars have long recognized the importance of chiliastic ideas in the English Revolution of the seventeenth century. The republicanism of American dissidents and revolutionaries was sometimes tinged with a "civil millenialism." Millenarian thinkers such as the English preacher Joseph Priestly and the French prophetess Suzette Labrousse saw an apocalyptic significance even in a largely secular upheaval like the French Revolution. 3 The Baha'is of Iran, too, combined democratic rhetoric with millenarian imagery in the generation before the Constitutional Revolution. 4
The Baha'i Faith developed out of the Babi movement begun by `Ali Muhammad Shirazi, the "Bab" (1819-1850) in the mid-nineteenth century. 5 Although the state and the Shi'ite clergy repressed Babism, a prominent Babi, Mirza Husayn `Ali Nuri (1817-1892), known as Baha'u'llah transformed it in the 1860s and 1870s into a new religion, the Baha'i Faith. By 1900 Baha'is probably numbered between 50,000 and 100,000, in a population of 9 million. 6 They derived from every region and every social class in the country, and they printed their religious and reformist tracts in Bombay, Cairo, and Tashkent, smuggling this literature back into Iran.
Given the small stratum of modern intellectuals in late nineteenth-century Iran, the strict censorship within the country, and their relative political quietism, the spread of constitutionalist ideas among ordinary persons seems an unlikely development. 7 How surprising it is to find, under these circumstances, a movement within Iran such as the Baha'i Faith, tens of thousands strong, that from the 1870s held it as a matter of explicit belief that representative government and constitutional monarchy were both desirable and inevitable for that country. How much more surprising would it be to find this fact completely neglected by the many historians of constitutionalism's intellectual origins in Iran. 8 Some research on the link between millenarianism and nationalism in Iran has been devoted to the tiny Azali sect of Babism, which refused to acknowledge Baha'u'llah's assertion that he was the "One who god shall make manifest," a messianic figure promised by the Bab. This sect produced some prominent radical intellectuals in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, but no one has suggested that its leader, Azal himself, advocated parliamentary democracy. 9 The Azali intellectuals who embraced modern ideas from the 1890s on had often left their faith, becoming secularists. Besides, Browne estimated that by 1909, for every hundred Baha'is there were only three or four Azalis (yielding 2,000-4,000 if our estimates for Baha'is above are in the correct range). 10 The Baha'is, so far neglected by historians of Iranian constitutionalism, were therefore demographically much more significant, and, as I will show, more united at a much earlier time on this issue.
Sometimes, Western scholars have misconstrued the Baha'i stance in the period 1866-1892. For instance, the Hungarian Orientalist, Ignaz Goldziher, in an otherwise penetrating discussion, concluded from the criticism made by Baha'u'llah of aspects of hurriyya or liberty that Baha'is were not in the liberal camp. 11 We need a more nuanced and contextualized understanding of what hurriyya meant here. At all events, in the absolutist nineteenth-century Middle East, as in many parts of Europe, advocacy of representative government and freedom of conscience sufficed, not only to brand one a liberal, but to have one incarcerated. We must attempt to understand Baha'u'llah's thought in this context.
The policy of non-intervention in politics adopted by Baha'i leaders from about 1907 has also impeded our understanding of the earlier period. Like the seventeenth-century English religious dissidents, the Baha'is' relationship with the revolution itself, once it came, was complex. After supporting the constitutionalists in 1905-1907, `Abdu'l-Baha `Abbas (1844-1921), then the head of the religion, declared his community's neutrality for the remainder of the conflict, for several reasons. 12 Baha'is were excluded from membership in parliament, as heretics, giving them little stake in it, and convincing them that it was turning into a tool of Shi`ite theocracy. `Abdu'l-Baha, a pacifist, foresaw civil war and foreign intervention should the revolution continue, and could abide neither prospect. Some Baha'is, however, continued to fight for the revolution, and the neutrality of the community in any case differed from the actively pro-royalist stance of most Shi`ite clergymen and their followers. Even `Abdu'l-Baha himself remained convinced that his father, Baha'u'llah, had prophesied the revolution and constitution. 13 All this is a bit moot here, since I am concerned in this essay primarily with the development of Baha'i ideas on democracy in the period up to Baha'u'llah's death in 1892.
I want to explore, then, the circumstances under which the Baha'i prophet Baha'u'llah developed a commitment to representative government in the decades before the revolution. Under this heading, I want to ask whether Baha'u'llah's social teachings and his religious ones are related in some way. Can we link his precocious advocacy of democracy and his millenarian ideas? He saw himself, after all, as a universal messiah, as the promised one of the Jews, the symbolic return of Christ for Christians and Muslims, the Shah-Bahram of the Zoroastrians. His advent would surely turn the world upside down. Was the coming of a more egalitarian society one manner in which the prevailing order would be upset? Few social systems, after all, have been more hierarchical than Qajar Iran, so that democracy would represent a massive change. 14
Second, what were the Baha'is' relations with other dissident groups in the Ottoman Empire and Iran that sought democracy or other reforms? Were they really the quietists the secondary literature would lead us to expect in the period 1866-1892, or did they form part of the "dissident milieu" in the Middle East? My third question has to do with how Baha'is might have reacted to this constitutionalist message. That Baha'u'llah's writings circulated in manuscript and in some printed editions throughout Iran during his lifetime, and were read and memorized by tens of thousands of Baha'is, is beyond doubt. The few reactions I have found suggest that Baha'is read Baha'u'llah in several ways, both in a liberal fashion and in a more radical one, though all agreed on the desirability of representative government. In what way did Baha'u'llah's message manage to hold together this diverse Baha'i community back in Iran, with its impatient artisans, its visionary intellectuals, its staid import-export merchants?
The Rise of the Baha'i Religion
The roots of the Baha'i Faith lay in the esoteric and millenarian Shaykhi movement in late eighteenth and early nineteenth Shi`ite Islam, and in the subsequent adventist Babi movement. 15 Baha'u'llah was himself by turns both a Shaykhi and a Babi. Yet the Baha'i Faith had other cultural roots, as well. Baha'u'llah's exile to Iraq (1853-63), to Rumelia (1863-68) and finally to Palestine (1868-92) in the Ottoman Empire brought him into direct contact with the debate on modernist reform then being conducted in Ottoman lands. He clearly responded to the concerns of the Turkish and Arabic press, and had contact with reformist thinkers and officials. He then had to communicate the concerns he developed in this Ottoman context to the esotericist and underground Babi community back in Iran, where such public debate was proscribed. The interaction between Iranian millenarianism, Ottoman and Qajar reformism, and European modernity formed the context of the new religion's social teachings.
Sayyid `Ali Muhammad Shirazi, known as the Bab, declared his mission in 1844, and gradually became recognized by tens of thousands of Iranians as the Mahdi, or Muslim messiah, and the promulgator of a new religion; in the late 1840s he set down a new holy book, the Bayan, intended to supersede the Qur'an. Some have argued that his religion gave a slightly improved status to merchants and to women, and that it thus had a bourgeois and somewhat modernist slant, but this characterization reckons neither with the cabalistic and non-rational nor the socially radical elements in the movement. The Bab attracted adherents from among artisans, merchants, and low- or middle-ranking clergy in urban areas and villages. The social tensions produced by the advent of a new religion led to clashes between Shi`ites and Babis and thence to a collusion of the state and the ulama in crushing the movement. The state executed the Bab in 1850.
The Nuri family became a focal point of spiritual leadership for the persecuted Babis in the 1850s and 1860s. Mirza Buzurg Nuri had been a high functionary under Fath-`Ali Shah (r. 1798-1834), with close links to the first minister, Abu'l-Qasim Qa'im-Maqam. Muhammad Shah (r. 1834-1848) sacked several of Fath-`Ali's close courtiers, having Qa'im-maqam killed and dismissing Mirza Buzurg as governor of Luristan. Mirza Husayn `Ali Nuri, one of Mirza Buzurg's sons, probably could have still had a political career, but he preferred to reside at the family estate in Takur and study mystical works. 16 He accepted the new doctrine of Babism in 1844, bringing his younger brothers, Mirza Musa and Mirza Yahya (then aged 14; later he took the title "Subh-i Azal"), and some of his sisters, into the movement as well. The Nuri brothers played a low-key role in the early Babi movement, but the Bab increasingly turned to them in his last days, since his first eighteen major disciples were dying in clashes with the state.
After the Bab's execution the Babis tended to consider the young Mirza Yahya Nuri, Subh-i Azal, as their leader. Baha'u'llah's followers later maintained that Azal's position was originally meant only to draw fire from the true leader, Baha'u'llah himself. In 1852 Baha'u'llah opposed a plot to assassinate the shah, hatched by some prominent Babi leaders in Tehran (including Azal). He was arrested in the aftermath of the botched attempt, and although the state found him innocent of complicity in it, it exiled him from Iran. He chose to go to Baghdad, in nearby Ottoman Iraq, where Azal later joined him. From Baghdad Baha'u'llah sent letters and writings back to Iran that, by their mystical sensitivity and stress on spiritual ethics, attracted many Babis to a special loyalty to him. 17
The Ottoman authorities decreed in the spring of 1863 that Baha'u'llah should come to Istanbul from Baghdad. Iranian officials, alarmed at Baha'u'llah's growing influence, had put pressure on the Ottomans to exile him to a place less accessible to Iran. 18 In April, 1863, just before his journey to the Ottoman capital, Baha'u'llah declared himself to a handful of close disciples as "He whom God shall make manifest" (man yuzhiruhu Allah), a further messianic figure whose advent the Bab had foretold. 19 Sultan Abdülaziz (r. 1861-1876), bowing to Iranian pressure, soon sent Baha'u'llah out of the capital to Edirne in Rumelia. Upon receiving the command to leave Istanbul, Baha'u'llah at first refused to obey, suggesting that the Babis in his household offer civil disobedience, which would result either in their martyrdom or in the overturning of the sultan's decree. Azal and a few others, however, refused to go along with this plan, and since it required unanimity to have a hope of success, it fell through. 20 This incident shows Baha'u'llah's willingness to offer opposition to the state where he felt it was acting unjustly.
Baha'u'llah and a few other Babis, including Azal, lived in Edirne until the summer of 1868. From 1864 (1280 A.H.), Baha'u'llah began sending letters back to Iran informing a few trusted friends of his advent as the Babi promised one, and his charisma was such as to bring the vast majority of Babis over to his side in the space of a few years. In 1867 Baha'u'llah and Azal broke off relations. Baha'u'llah's emissaries gained adherents in important Babi communities like those of Shiraz and Isfahan, among influential merchant or Sayyid elites such as the Afnans and the Nahris. The adoption of the new faith by such provincial urban notables, who had a power base independent of the state and the clergy, proved extremely important for its survival and spread, though the often independent response of artisans and workers had more demographic significance. 21
At this point, adherence to Baha'u'llah implied little change in outlook for most Babis, since their new leader had not yet legislated religious laws or principles superseding those of the Bab. The swiftness with which Baha'u'llah apparently managed to attract to himself tens of thousands of adherents stands as a remarkable phenomenon, though here he surely built on networks of influence he had established from Baghdad in the 1850s and 1860s while "Director and Guide" of the Babis (Kemball). Once he had the allegiance of the Baha'is, as his Babis now became known, moreover, he could hope gradually to change their ethos in directions of which he approved.
The Epistles to the Kings
After putting himself forward to the Babis as a Manifestation of God, Baha'u'llah began writing letters to the world's major rulers, in emulation of the Prophet Muhammad. He declared himself the fulfillment, not only of millenarian hopes in Islam and Babism, but also in Christianity, Zoroastrianism, and other traditions. This millenarian teaching became combined with a specific program of national and international reform aimed, first of all, at preventing wars and reducing war budgets and taxes. From about 1868 Baha'u'llah began advocating parliamentary government, a radical demand in the absolutist Middle East.
In an unguarded moment in January of 1866, Ottoman Foreign Minister Ali Pasha had confessed to the Austrian ambassador that Baha'u'llah, then in exile in Edirne, was "a man of great distinction, exemplary conduct, great moderation, and a most dignified figure" and spoke of Babism as "a doctrine which is worthy of high esteem." 22 He said that he still found the religion politically unacceptable because it refused to recognize a separation of religious and temporal authority. Ali Pasha (1815-71) and his colleague Fuad Pasha (1815-69) had been at the forefront in promoting and implementing the 1856 reform laws ("Tanzimat") of the Ottoman Empire, which theoretically made Jews and Christians equal under the law to Muslims and created the secular conception of "Ottomanism" as a political loyalty for all subjects of the sultan. 24 These reforms dethroned Islam as the primary basis of the Ottoman state, and from the reformers' point of view a messianic movement such as Babism, whatever its theological or ethical virtues, threatened such achievements by seeking to put all authority, religious and secular, back in the hands of a charismatic spiritual leader.
Ali Pasha, although he may have been right about Babism, missed the mark regarding Baha'u'llah's own ideas, which were more compatible with the Tanzimat. In 1866 Baha'u'llah produced a wideranging statement of his message addressing in a general way the planet's political and religious leaders, entitled Sura al-Muluk (Chapter of the Kings). From 1868 he wrote individual letters to the rulers of the world, including Napoleon III, Queen Victoria, the Tsar of Russia, the Pope, Sultan Abdülaziz, and Nasiru'd-Din Shah of Iran, in which he announced himself as the promised one of all religions and set forth the needed global and national reforms he foresaw. 24 Ironically, a major theme of the epistles to the Muslim rulers was the acceptance in the new Baha'i religion of the separation of religion and state, the legitimacy of the secular state, and the abstention of Baha'is (unlike their Babi forebears) from sedition.
In his Sura of the Kings Baha'u'llah declared that he had not come to wreak corruption in the Ottoman lands, but to elevate the cause of the sultan by giving him good counsel--advice that his ministers and courtiers had spurned. 25 In his long letter from Edirne to Nasiru'd-Din Shah (r. 1848-1896) in 1868, Baha'u'llah proclaimed that the sedition of certain ignorant Babis had never been approved and that the community, in becoming Baha'is, had ceased any involvement in turmoil in Iran. 26 Baha'u'llah here made public his complete break with Babi radicalism and violent agitation. He did not, however, offer to give way on any matters of principle; his criticism of sedition implies that it was synonymous with violence and terrorism, and his further statements imply that an advocacy of principles at variance with state policy was still permitted Baha'is. He desired, by recognizing the legitimacy of the secular state, to achieve the position of spiritual counsellor for it. Historian Mangol Bayat has pointed out that Baha'u'llah's policy in this regard "embraced what no Muslim sect, no Muslim school of thought ever succeeded in or dared to try: the doctrinal acceptance of the de facto secularization of politics which had occurred in the Muslim world centuries earlier." 27 Baha'u'llah's attitudes, in accepting the equality of all religious communities under the state, were thus not so far removed from those of the Tanzimat reformers of Istanbul, after all. Baha'u'llah's first invocation of the need for consultation in government, as opposed to unadorned absolutism, comes in the Edirne period, when he advised the sultan to gather together his ablest ministers and consult with them (shawirhum) on affairs. He also castigated Abdülaziz for allowing his subjects to live in squalor while high functionaries enjoyed an opulent style of life. 28 His advocacy of ministerial consultation may, of course be innocuous advice, but "consultation" often appears in this period as a reformist code-word, accepted by the state because of its unexceptionable classical connotations of mere counsel. Even the Young Ottomans, who wanted a full-blown parliamentary system, a very radical and quite illegal idea, referred to it as mesveret, "consultation," a Turkish word from the same Arabic root.
Sultan Abdülaziz, in exiling Baha'u'llah and the other Iranians from Edirne in the summer of 1868, pushed the Baha'i leader into openly condemning the tyranny of absolutism and advocating parliamentary democracy. Azali complaints against Baha'u'llah provoked a general inquiry into the activities of the Iranians in Edirne, and the Ottoman commission concluded that, while Baha'u'llah had a right to complain about Azal and his supporters, he was making a messianic claim and spreading his message in a way that might provoke turmoil in the empire. In actuality, Iranian pressure probably played a major role in the decision to banish the Baha'is and Azalis to yet more isolated environments. Ottoman officials exiled Baha'u'llah and his entourage from Edirne to Akka on the coast of Ottoman Syria, where he spent the rest of his life. Simultaneously, they sent Azal to Cyprus. 29 Ironically, Baha'u'llah's exile proved fortunate for his religion, placing its headquarters in the holy land near Jerusalem and lending the weight of sacred geography to his messianic claims.
Baha'u'llah was livid over the Ottoman government's decision to exile him to the pestiferous fortress of Akka. He branded Sultan Abdülaziz a tyrant, and predicted that social unrest and divisions would soon overtake the empire. In a letter concerning one of those who exiled him, Ottoman Foreign Minister Fuad Pasha, who died in Nice of heart trouble early in 1869, Baha'u'llah wrote, "Soon will We dismiss the one [Ali Pasha] who was like unto him, and will lay hold on their Chief [the sultan] who ruleth the land." 30 He continued his proclamation to the rulers of the world upon his arrival in Palestine in the summer of 1868, but, perhaps because of his bad experience with the reformers-from-above of the Tanzimat type, his social message took an increasingly radical-reformist turn. The new program would have displeased the autocratic Ali Pasha, since it placed the Baha'is somewhat in the same camp as progressive Ottoman dissidents for whom the Tanzimat reforms had not gone far enough.
Later in 1868, Baha'u'llah went much further than advocating ministerial consultation, and began praising parliamentary government. Iranian travellers had described the British parliament to their readers back home for over a century, so well-read Iranians knew something about representative government. 31 The Baha'i turn in this direction converged with several other dissident movements of this time, for instance, the Young Ottoman movement. A group of intellectuals began a secret society called the Patriotic Alliance in Istanbul in 1865. Translators and journalists, they criticized Ali Pasha and Fuad Pasha for subservience to the European Powers and for ruling autocratically. A high official from the viceregal family of Egypt, Mustafa Fazil Pasha, then out of power, published an open letter to the sultan in 1866, denouncing corruption and pleading for political liberalization. In the same year his brother, Isma`il Pasha, created a Chamber of Deputies in the Ottoman vassal state of Egypt, though this advisory body was hardly a parliament. In 1867 Mustafa Fazil met with the young intellectuals to form the Young Ottoman Society, which decided to publish a newspaper, the Muhbir, from London to avoid censorship. From August 31, 1867, the editor, Ali Suavi, openly advocated the establishment of a national representative body, the exclusion of foreign influence from the Ottoman Empire, and reform along Islamic and Ottoman lines. 32 About a year later, in June of 1868, another expatriate liberal newspaper was begun by Namik Kemal, also a Young Ottoman. These newspapers, smuggled back into the Ottoman Empire, apparently enjoyed a wide circulation. Reform-minded Iranian expatriates in Istanbul, such as Mirza Malkum Khan (1833-1908), were in contact with the Young Ottomans, and wrote for the London-based newspapers. Malkum had once sought refuge with Baha'u'llah in Baghdad from the wrath of the shah, and probably knew Baha'is in Istanbul. 33 The Young Ottoman movement exercised a general influence on Iranian thinkers resident in Istanbul, including Iranian Ambassador Mirza Husayn Khan Mushiru'd-Dawlih himself. 34 I will present concrete evidence for contacts between the Baha'is and the Young Ottomans below.
Baha'u'llah's stance differed from that of the Young Ottomans, not only in his lack of faith in clerical jurisprudence as the solution to all ills, but also in his millenarianism. Baha'u'llah repeatedly linked chiliastic concerns with democratic themes, showing the way in which he saw his advent as a world-messiah to have turned the world upside down. He melded four themes together in his epistles to the rulers. First, he announced himself as the fulfillment of the millenarian hopes of all the world-religions. Second, he expressed his advocacy of political democracy both directly and through apocalyptic imagery. Third, he insisted on the duty of the state to care for the poor, and to provide them with essential services. He linked this principle to his fourth, the need for a form of world governance. He saw a peace dividend of reduced taxes on the poor if the world's major states would form a global political union based upon the principle of collective security.
Baha'u'llah's letter to Queen Victoria, written in the fall of 1868 soon after his banishment to Akka, stands out in combining all four of these themes in one letter. He began by proclaiming himself, in essence, the return of Christ: "All that hath been mentioned in the Gospel hath been fulfilled. The land of Syria hath been honoured by the footsteps of its Lord." 35 What are the social consequences, in his view, of this advent? We may surmise them from his concentration on social reforms of an egalitarian nature. He singled Queen Victoria out for praise on two counts. He first commended her for abolishing slavery, saying it is also forbidden in his religion. (It was still practiced in most of the Middle East.) Second, he congratulated her on having "entrusted the reins of counsel into the hands of the people [awda`ti zimama al-mushawarati bi ayadi al-jumhur]." 36 He added that "Thou, indeed, hast done well, for thereby the foundations of the edifice of thine affairs will be strengthened, and the hearts of all that are beneath thy shadow, whether high or low, will be tranquillized." Although Baha'u'llah spoke only of the "counsel" offered to the queen by the people, he clearly he was using the word in the new sense of representative government. But what, one may wonder, had Queen Victoria done in the years just before 1868 to warrant this praise? She hardly initiated the British parliamentary system. The reference must be to the Reform Act of 1867, which extended the franchise even to many urban union workers. In the new, post-advent world, he was saying, the voice of the ordinary folk would be heard in the halls of state. Although jumhur could be used in several ways in Arabic in the 1860s, it had connotations of what we would now call democracy. A writer of the time could use it as an abstract noun to denote "democracy" or "republicanism," but also could employ it to refer to a concrete republic or democratic country. Such words remained fluid in the nineteenth century. Baha'u'llah seems to have used the word jumhur here in its older sense of "the populace," making it clear that he was not speaking of oligarchy. 37 That he intended by the word mushawara or consultation a parliamentary form of government is made even clearer by his subsequent discussion of the duties of members of parliament (al-majma`, or al-majlis).
In the epistle to Queen Victoria, Baha'u'llah called upon members of parliament in Britain and elsewhere to arise for the reform of world society and the curing of its ills. The best such remedy, he said, is global unity through the adoption of a single world religion. During the tense period leading up to the Franco-Prussian war, he called upon the world's rulers to establish peace, and to cease their ruinous military build-up, which they paid for through onerous taxes on their subjects. He stigmatized such actions as "a heinous wrong," and urged lower, bearable taxes, saying that if these rulers established peace, they would not need such huge war budgets. He called for a system of collective security, such that if any nation transgresses against another, all the others would attack and defeat the aggressor. Baha'u'llah evinced a strong concern for the welfare of the poor and working classes, whom he though grossly over-taxed and exploited, proposing a reduction in levies and the implementation of social welfare measures through a peace dividend from disarmament. In short, despite his political liberalism, he was no advocate of laissez-faire, obviously feeling that the poor had a right to food, shelter and education just as they had a right to representative government.
Baha'u'llah's attitude to other Western forms of government sometimes differed starkly from his stance toward that of Britain. He disapproved of Napoleon III, partially because this ruler had neglected to respond through the French consuls to his letter announcing himself as the world-messiah and asking the French to put pressure on the Ottomans to stop their persecution of the Baha'is. In a second missive to the emperor, of 1869, Baha'u'llah taunted him that he had boasted of his compassion toward the oppressed when he joined the Crimean War against the Russians, saying that Napoleon's indifference to the plight of the Baha'is showed the falsity of that boast. Baha'u'llah added, "For what thou hast done, thy kingdom shall be thrown into confusion, and thine empire shall pass from thy hands, as a punishment for what thou has wrought." 38 Of course, Napoleon III went down to defeat before the Prussians at Sedan only a year later, an event that much added to Baha'u'llah's prophetic charisma among Iranians who had seen the 1869 letter to the emperor. Later, in 1873, Baha'u'llah apostrophized Kaiser Wilhelm I in his Most Holy Book (al-Kitab al-aqdas), warning him that the same fate could befall him that he had inflicted on Napoleon. He added, "O banks of the Rhine! We have seen you covered with gore, inasmuch as the swords of retribution were drawn against you; and you shall have another turn. And We hear the lamentations of Berlin, though she be today in conspicuous glory." 39 Unlike "Napoleon the Little," the Kaiser appears to have offended Baha'u'llah not through hostility or indifference toward the Baha'i Faith, but through his militaristic pride.
Also in his 1873 Most Holy Book, Baha'u'llah addressed Tehran (i.e., Iran), predicting that "affairs within you will undergo a revolution, and you will be ruled by a democracy of the people" (sawfa tanqalibu fiki al-umuru wa yahkumu `alayki jumhurun min an-nas). 40 In his letter five years earlier to Queen Victoria, Baha'u'llah commended the parliamentary form of government, but here he went even further and talked of popular sovereignty. The word he used for "the people," an-nas, indicates the ordinary people and suggests that he had a genuine democracy in mind, not a parliamentary oligarchy.
Baha'u'llah appears, then, to have saved his dire predictions and apocalyptic imagery for undemocratic states (Napoleon and Bismarck handily out-maneuvered their so-called legislatures) that showed the least interest in protecting freedom of conscience for the Baha'is in the Middle East. Although he apostrophized the presidents of the republics in America in his Most Holy Book, he simply advised them to "Bind ye the broken with the hands of justice, and crush the oppressor who flourisheth with the rod of the commandments of your Lord, the Ordainer, the All-Wise." 41 As with Britain, Baha'u'llah made no sanguinary predictions about the American republics, and seemed to have hopes that they would prove just toward the oppressed. His letter to Tsar Alexander II is not as warm as one might expect, given that the Russians gave some aid to Baha'u'llah when he was imprisoned in 1852, owing to his brother-in-law's employment in the Russian legation in Tehran. While expressing his gratitude, Baha'u'llah warned the tsar, "Beware lest ye barter away this sublime station." 42
In general, Baha'u'llah reserved praise for constitutional monarchies and republics, and foresaw toppled thrones and rivers of blood in the Bonapartist or absolutist states of imperial France, Prussia, the Ottoman Empire, and Iran. These changes, in his view, were intimately connected with his own messianic advent. He wrote in 1873, "The world order has been upset through the influence of this most great Order [an-nazm al-a`zam]. A change has been introduced into its organization [at-tartib] through this unprecedented [system]--the like of which mortal eyes have never witnessed." 43 I take this passage to suggest that the messianic advent not only turns the world upside down spiritually, but politically, as well. The Arabic word at-tartib could also bear the meaning of "constitution" in the nineteenth century, so that in the original this passage may have had connotations for readers of constitutional change. 44
Soon after his arrival in Akka Baha'u'llah wrote a letter to Shaykh Salman, a follower in Iran, in which he said, "One of the signs of the maturity of the world is that no one will accept to bear the weight of kingship. Kingship will remain with none willing to bear alone its weight. That day will be the day whereon wisdom [`aql] will be manifested among mankind. Only in order to proclaim the Cause of God and spread abroad his faith will anyone be willing to bear this grievous weight." 45 This passage shows that Baha'u'llah unequivocally thought royal absolutism would completely die out, and he here gave only two conditions for the survival of monarchy in any form. The first was that the monarch share the burden of governing with others rather than attempting it all alone (wahdahu); the other was that the monarch become a Baha'i and employ his or her office to spread the new religion. Like the epistle to Queen Victoria, this passage assumes that the only good monarchy is a constitutional one.
Baha'u'llah's writings of the late 1860s and early 1870s brought the nascent Baha'i movement into the mainstream of modernist liberalism in the Middle East. On each essential social question, restrictions on monarchy, representative government, and the abolition of slavery, his position was similar to that of the more enlightened Muslim liberals of the Ottoman Empire such as the Young Ottomans and Midhat Pasha, though he of course lacked the Young Ottomans' faith in traditional Islam as a bulwark against tyranny. He framed his views in the style of Middle Eastern apocalyptic literature, infusing a sober messianism into the political debate. In Ottoman terms, in the late 1860s and early 1870s, Baha'u'llah stood on the far left with Namik Kemal. In Iranian terms his forthright championing of parliamentary government was virtually unmatched at that time, since he called for the kind of limits on the shah's absolute power that went far beyond the program of reformers such as Mirza Husayn Khan, who merely advocated cabinet government. In the late 1860s and early 1870s these Baha'i stances posed a radical challenge for the existing royal-absolutist regimes and for their clerical establishments.
The Baha'is, the Young Ottomans, and Iranian Reform
A more solid set of connections can be drawn in the 1870s between the Baha'is and Middle Eastern reform movements, whether the Young Ottomans or the administrative innovators in Iran such as Mirza Husayn Khan. These relationships took the form of actual meetings, as well as Baha'i writings that seem clearly to respond to this decade of change. During the decade the Baha'i leaders made more explicit the sort of society they wished to see in the Middle East, moving from apocalyptic vision to rational exposition.
In the early 1870s, the Young Ottoman expatriates came home from exile, after the death in 1871 of First Minister Ali Pasha, their chief nemesis. In 1873, however, the sultan banished several Young Ottomans to provincial prisons, partially because of their close links with the impatient heir apparent, Murad Pasha. The state exiled Namik Kemal to Cyprus, Ebüzziya Tevfik to Rhodes, and Nuri Bey and Hakki Effendi to Akka. During their exile, they certainly came into contact, and interacted intellectually, with the Baha'is.
Ebüzziya mentioned the earlier banishment of the Baha'is, to whom he referred as Babis, from Istanbul to Akka via Rhodes (his own place of exile). He took their side, seeing their imprisonment in the fortress because of foreign, Iranian, interference in internal Ottoman affairs, of which he took a dim view. He defended the Baha'is from the Ottoman charge of proselytizing within the empire, and although he accepted "Babism" as a "religious belief," he thought the core of the movement a political doctrine clothed in religious garb. It was, he said, "interested in revolutionary activity solely in Iran." He ended by noting that the first news to reach him from Akka about his fellow Young Ottomans, Nuri Bey and Ismail Hakki Effendi, came through the "demonstrated humanity of an individual . . . called Bahaeddin Effendi" who was himself a "Babi." 46 He was certainly referring to Baha'u'llah, whose name outsiders often confused with the more common "Baha'u'd-Din." Namik Kemal, sent to Cyprus, had more contact with Azalis than with Baha'is, though he developed a friendship with the Baha'i Mishkin Qalam, whom the Ottomans had perversely sent to the island with the Azalis. One of his closest companions in exile was Shaykh Ahmed Effendi, hero of the Kuleli uprising, who had adopted Babism or the Baha'i Faith in his Cyprus exile. By 1876, the year of his release, Namik Kemal was constrained to deny rumors circulating in Istanbul that he had become a "Babi." 47 Namik Kemal corresponded extensively with `Abdu'l-Baha, Baha'u'llah's son, though the Baha'i leader later burned the letters for fear of Ottoman searches. 48 The relationship between the Baha'is and the Young Ottomans Nuri Bey and Hakki Effendi in Akka was clearly very warm, and Hakki Effendi paints a vivid picture of the Baha'is as cosmopolitan intellectuals who had their children tutored in European languages and took a keen interest in the international press. 49
Since the Young Ottomans and the Baha'is had the same enemies high in the Ottoman state, and since they shared many ideals, they naturally viewed one another sympathetically. When the reformer Midhat Pasha became governor of Syria in 1878-80, he called Baha'u'llah's eldest son `Abdu'l-Baha to Beirut for a meeting. Midhat's invitation suggests his prior acquaintance with Baha'is (possibly through the Young Ottoman connection), and he may have known of their belief in representative government. 50 Baha'i contacts with Ottoman dissidents continued even after the government's turn to reaction in the 1880s. Abdullah Cevdet, one of the five founding members of the Young Turk movement, at some point became a Baha'i, and was tried for heresy in this connection in the early 1920s. 51
The Baha'is were active, not only in the Ottoman Empire, but also in Iran, where the early 1870s saw political ferment. The Iranian diplomat Mirza Husayn Khan Mushiru'd-Dawlah returned to Tehran from Istanbul to become first minister in 1871, and, influenced by Ottoman reforms, he attempted to work out a system of cabinet government with Nasiru'd-Din Shah. He made the misstep, however, of seeking to develop Iran's economy and resources by granting a huge concession to Baron Julius de Reuter, a British subject. This unwise policy aroused the opposition of merchants, intellectuals, some Shi`ite clergymen, and of the Russians, and the whole scheme had to be cancelled. The fiasco, along with Nasiru'd-Din's ultimate unwillingness to share any power with his cabinet, led to Mirza Husayn Khan's demotion to foreign minister in 1873. 52
Although as Iranian ambassador to Istanbul Mirza Husayn Khan showed great enmity to the Baha'is up to 1868, he later changed his mind about them, and once let a Baha'i courier caught at Aleppo go free. In the early 1870s Baha'u'llah quizzed one visitor from Iran about the behavior of Mirza Husayn Khan, and described the reformer as "wiser than the rest" (a`qal az sa'irin) of Iranian politicians. 53 The most extended Baha'i response to the Iranian reformism of the 1870s came in the form of a Persian book written in Palestine in 1875 by Baha'u'llah's eldest son, `Abdu'l-Baha, known in English as The Secret of Divine Civilization. 54 This treatise, published in Bombay in 1882, may well have had an intellectual impact among the reform-minded in Iran, since its author remained anonymous and made no mention of the Babi or Baha'i religions. It circulated widely among Baha'is.
`Abdu'l-Baha argued for a limitation on the absolute power of government officials, the establishment of representative, elected governmental institutions, the relieving of the poverty of the masses, the improvement of the country's infrastructure, the setting up of a modern school system, and the systematization of Iran's secular and religious laws and legal systems. He also advocated global disarmament and the establishment of a union of the nations, and the renewal of religion to combat modern atheism. The program `Abdu'l-Baha laid out not only concurs at many points with the ideas of the Young Ottomans, some of whom were also in exile in Akka while he was writing this book, but also has something in common with those of Iranian reformers such as the diplomat Yusuf Khan, the translator Mirza Fath-`Ali Akhundzadih, and the official Mirza Muhammad Husayn Khan Dabiru'l-Mulk, and needs to be studied in that context. 55 So far, the scholarly literature has entirely ignored the Risalih-'i madaniyyat. Even if `Abdu'l-Baha's book were only read by Baha'is or those interested in the movement (a questionable proposition), in being printed and distributed throughout Iran from Bombay it had an earlier, wider public than most of the reformist writings on which Adamiyyat and others have lavished so much attention. `Abdu'l-Baha's emphasis on relieving poverty, on peace, and on some form of international union, moreover, differentiated his Baha'i program from the writings of his reformist compatriots, as did his deep mistrust of European militarism. We know little about how the Baha'i message of representative government and the rule of law was received in Iran. Yet such social teachings must have been among the attractions of the new religion, helping to explain why most Babis and thousands of members of other religions became Baha'is.
The Ottoman empire itself moved in a constitutionalist direction in the mid-1870s. Throughout the late 1860s and early 1870s the Young Ottoman thinkers had spread ideas of modern representative government. The constitutionalist forces grew in strength in Ottoman lands, and in 1876 they overthrew Sultan Abdülaziz and, after the brief reign of the deranged Murad V, they installed the young Abdülhamid as sultan. Reformers such as Midhat Pasha imposed a constitution and a parliament on the inexperienced young monarch. The first Ottoman parliament was elected and met in 1877. 56 In a chain reaction, this movement helped provoke a similar struggle for parliamentary government in the Ottoman vassal state of Egypt, where the Khedive Isma`il had shunted aside his Chamber of Delegates. `Abdu'l-Baha followed the Egyptian constitutionalist press, such as the newspaper Misr, and penned a letter to one of its contributors, the expatriate Iranian Sayyid Jamalu'd-Din Asadabadi "al-Afghani." He wrote, "I read your splendid article printed in the newspaper Misr, which refuted some English newspapers. I found your replies in accord with prevailing reality, and your eloquence aided by brilliant proof. Then I came across a treatise by Midhat Pasa, the contents of which support your correct and magnificent article. So, I wanted to send it along to you." 57 `Abdu'l-Baha here comes across as a widely-read intellectual with a brief against Western imperialism, who attempted to establish connections among reformists like Sayyid Jamalu'd-Din and Midhat Pasha, and implicitly among them and the Baha'is. Sayyid Jamalu'd-Din appears in the late 1870s to have had a positive view of Babism, and under his influence the Lebanese journalist Adib Ishaq classed the Babi movement with the French Revolution, European socialism, and the Ottoman constitutional revolution of 1876 as an exemplar of the struggle for liberty. 58
The success of the republicans in France in 1871, and then of the Ottoman constitutional movement, probably represents the context of Baha'u'llah's Bisharat (Glad-Tidings). Therein, he prefered constitutional monarchy. He wrote, "Although a republican form of government (jumhuriyyat) profiteth all the peoples of the world, yet the majesty of kingship is one of the signs of God. We do not wish that the countries of the world should remain deprived thereof. If the sagacious combine the two forms into one, great will be their reward in the presence of God." 59 Note that Baha'u'llah did not reject republicanism outright, but praised it. He did insist that it lacks the unifying theological symbol provided by a constitutional monarch. The form of his statement resembles the categories of Islamic law, in which things are ranked forbidden, disapproved, neutral, approved, and required. Approved actions are said to be rewarded if performed, but not punished if neglected. He seems imply, then, that constitutional monarchy is approved rather than required, and republicanism not forbidden (remember his positive comments about the republics in the Americas). Since no organized movement for republicanism existed in the nineteenth-century Middle East, Baha'u'llah's stance accords, again, with that of the most liberal Ottoman thinkers. The Istanbul-based Lebanese journalist Ahmad Faris ash-Shidyaq, who supported the Ottoman constitutional movement in 1876-78, also favored a constitutional monarchy, which he said was not much different from a republic. 60
Nineteenth-century sources make it clear that the reformist and constitutionalist ideas of Baha'u'llah's tablets to the kings circulated widely among Baha'is during the 1870s and after. A Christian minister in Isfahan referred in 1874 to a collected volume he had read of Baha'u'llah's letters to the monarchs as "the latest Bible of the Baabis" and added that "the sect of Baabis which is now increasing in Persia is that called Baha'i." 61 Some of Baha'u'llah's letters to the rulers were thus bound together and circulated in manuscript in this period. In 1890 they were published in Bombay, and a copy of this book was purchased for Browne in Hamadan in 1896. 62 In 1875, a brilliant young seminary teacher named Mirza Abu'l-Fadl Gulpaygani (1844-1914) was investigating various religions in Tehran. At a Baha'i meeting he saw a copy of the Lawh-i Fuad, mentioned above, which said God would "take hold of" Sultan Abdülaziz for his treatment of Baha'u'llah. The constitutionalist coup of 1876 followed by the sultan's suicide, in appearing to fulfill the prophecy, helped convince Mirza Abu'l-Fadl to become a Baha'i. 63 We do not know whether these events so moved him only because they seemed a prophetic confirmation of a millenarian turmoil abroad in the world, or whether he had some political sympathies with constitutionalism of the Young Ottoman sort as well. The story of his conversion, in fact, suggests the inseparability of the two motifs within Baha'i culture at this point.
The Babis, as they became Baha'is, traded militancy for pacifism, anti-intellectualism for a commitment to modern science and technology, conspiracies for community discussions of reform and representative government. Particularly close and cordial relations developed between the Baha'i leaders in Akka and reformists such as the Young Ottomans, and Baha'i authors responded seriously to moves toward reform in Iran itself, helping communicate modern ideas to that more isolated country. Baha'u'llah's new message was spread by travelling apostles, many of them highly learned men, by notable families of Sayyid merchants, physicians and landowners, by women with their own networks, by artisans such as goldsmiths and tailors, and by scribes who conscientiously copied out and circulated hundreds of manuscripts of his tablets and letters. His major works were printed in Bombay and circulated within Iran. His supporters, impeded by governmental and clerical persecution, nevertheless made progress, despite the return to absolutism that set in from the late 1870s. The new Baha'i movement only lacked its own laws and rituals to become a fully fledged religion, and from the early 1880s it began making that transition.
From Community Consultation to Tobacco Revolt
Baha'u'llah devoted the last nineteen years of his life to imbuing the Baha'i community back in Iran with an ethos and set of rituals and religious laws that differed substantially both from those of Islam and from the Babi regulations of the Bayan. Consultative forms of community self-government formed a cornerstone of Baha'u'llah's vision, as he sought to avoid the Usuli Shi`ite system of dominance by clerics, and these local ideals tied in nicely with his pro-democracy views on national government. Was the turn to community-building partially a consequence of the political reaction that overtook Istanbul and Tehran from the late 1870s, and lasted into the next century? After all, reform programs at the national level, such as that set out by `Abdu'l-Baha in 1875, were now out of fashion among the Middle Eastern monarchs and their high officials, and there seemed little point in working to influence things at that level.
As noted, the promise of reform offered by the 1870s in the Ottoman Empire and Iran proved false, or at least highly premature. In 1878 Sultan Abdulhamid, in the wake of a military loss to Russia, prorogued parliament and reverted to royal absolutism until the 1908 Young Turk Revolution. 64 By the mid-1870s Iran's Nasiru'd-Din Shah had also turned against the idea of any administrative reform that would limit his power, and had in any case never contemplated setting up a parliament. 65 Royal absolutism and cultural conservatism dominated high politics in the 1880s and 1890s, though officials contemplated or implemented some infrastructural improvements (more in the Ottoman Empire than in Iran). Both the Ottoman and the Iranian rulers even grew suspicious of modern, Western-style education. In this increasingly conservative environment, Baha'u'llah's writings praising representative government looked more seditious than ever, though the sedition possessed a more peaceful character than that of the earlier Babis, to be sure. Not only Baha'u'llah's more important writings, but `Abdu'l-Baha's treatise on civilization contained ideas, such as limits on the power of state officials and parliamentary government that were explicitly proscribed by the shah and the sultan. These, moreover, had a potentially wide audience because of the increasing use of the printing press. E.G. Browne noted after his visit to Iran of 1887-88 the wide dissemination of Bombay printed editions of the Secret of Divine Civilization and of Baha'u'llah's mystical Book of Certitude. 66 Even if the two rulers came to accept that the Baha'is posed no insurrectionary threat, the latter were associated with principles such as constitutional monarchy far too closely for the rulers' taste.
A highly significant event in the Baha'i communities from 1878 was the circulation in Iran of manuscripts of Baha'u'llah's new (1873) book of laws, the Most Holy Book. In 1890 this central text was printed in Bombay by the Afnan merchants based there. The new religion had an emphasis on community participation and collective leadership that harmonized well with the political doctrines of representative government. The Most Holy Book stipulates that in every city the Baha'is should set up a local governing body called a "house of justice" (bayt al-`adl) with a membership of at least nine. Baha'u'llah addressed these local assemblies, saying, "it is incumbent to take counsel together (shawiru) and to have regard for the interests of the servants of God," and to implement Baha'i laws. 67 The word used for taking counsel together is a verbal form of the mushawara we saw employed above to refer to parliamentary government. Clearly Baha'u'llah saw these "houses of justice" as consultative steering committees for local Baha'i communities. A Shi`ite community, in contrast, would have been led by an individual Muslim jurisprudent, to whose rulings laymen owed blind obedience (taqlid).
In his later supplements to his Most Holy Book, Baha'u'llah instructed that a universal house of justice be established in the future for the entire Baha'i world, and gave it specific duties. It is to legislate on religious policy issues not covered by the Most Holy Book, must promote peace and lobby against burdensome military budgets, should choose a world language, safeguard and exalt the place of religion in human affairs, and fix interest rates (Baha'u'llah allowed the taking of fair interest on a loan from anyone, contrary to most interpretations of Islamic law). 68 On the other hand, he clearly envisioned the Baha'i houses of justice as coexisting alongside secular parliaments and rulers, since he praised the retention of monarchy and praised the British parliamentary system.
Baha'u'llah offered criticisms, as Goldziher noted, of hurriyya, the word usually employed to translate the French liberte. It is clear, however, that in the nineteenth-century Middle East hurriyya bore the connotations, not only of liberty as understood in republican countries, but also of libertinism. Thus, Baha'u'llah criticized liberty/license for leading to sedition or public turmoil (fitna) and to immorality. On the other hand, he did not reject the positive aspects of liberty, writing, "We approve of liberty in certain circumstances and refuse to sanction it in others." 69 He concluded by averring that perfect liberty lay in following the commandments revealed through him. Clearly, Baha'u'llah approved of political liberty as manifested in democratic institutions, but not of anti-religious libertinism (the other connotation of hurriyya in nineteenth-century Arabic). Other Middle Eastern liberals commonly linked liberty with the fulfillment of duties. The Syrian Christian journalist Adib Ishaq, as Ayalon has written, "defined liberty as 'the right to fulfil the known duty' (haqq al-qiyam bil-wajib al-ma`lum)." 70 Ishaq, a freemason, courageously and indefatigably advocated representative government in Egypt in the late 1870s and early 1880s, showing that even someone who was obviously a liberal in Middle Eastern terms could still hold a conception of liberty as the fulfillment of duty. Goldziher erred in attempting to use the French Revolution as a universal template for measuring the Left and the Right, in which religionists were generally on the Right. After all, the Young Ottomans, revolutionaries demanding a constitution and parliament, were also committed Muslims. So, too, were the American Baptists who supported the American Revolution.
For Baha'u'llah, the term hurriyya could be deconstructed into two warring significations, political freedom, which was good, and moral license, which was bad. The word thus carried the additional connotations of antinomianism, abandonment or persecution of religion, and, perhaps, political nihilism. Middle Eastern authors often attributed precisely these attributes to 1789. A typical Ottoman report on the French Revolution said,
When the revolution became more intense, none took offence at the closing of churches, the killing and expulsion of monks, and the abolition of religion and doctrine: they set their hearts on equality and freedom, through which they hoped to attain perfect bliss in this world, in accordance with the lying teachings disseminated among the common people by this pernicious crew. 71
Since Middle Eastern writers of the nineteenth century frequently portrayed both liberty and the French Revolution in this manner, Baha'u'llah naturally had apprehensions about the full implementation of such hurriyya. His reservations about liberty/license did not, as Goldziher apparently suspected, derive from a belief in absolutism or in the monopoly of a church over opinion. Unlike their contemporary, Pope Leo XIII, the Baha'i leaders insisted on representative government and urged that the state treat all religions with equal toleration. 72
Once the Most Holy Book began circulating among Baha'is back in Iran from the late 1870s, they started to implement some of its provisions. Elderly Baha'i notables set up a secret house of justice or assembly of consultation in Tehran in 1878, and from there spread the institution in the 1880s to towns in the provinces of Khurasan, Mazandaran, Fars and Kashan. Although these institutions were not at first elected by ballot, some sort of community consensus on the most qualified elders probably determined membership. Members in the nineteenth century were men only, though women developed their own committees, classes and informal networks. Baha'u'llah himself wrote that "today the handmaidens of God are regarded as men (rijal)," but this principle was no doubt seldom translated into practice among Iranian Baha'is. 74 The houses of justice nevertheless functioned in a consultative and collective manner, and differed from the sort of leadership offered in Qajar society by individual hereditary nobles or clerical jurisconsults who demanded absolute obedience from ordinary folk. I have not determined when the local houses of justice or assemblies of consultation began being formally elected in Iran, but United States electoral practices may have been influential once the religion spread to North America in the 1890s. When Baha'u'llah's son and successor, `Abdu'l-Baha, instructed the American Baha'is to hold elections in the opening years of the twentieth century, he wrote, "the rules for election are those which are customary in that country." 75
The democratic message evident in the Tablets to the Monarchs and the Most Holy Book continues to appear in the major writings of Baha'u'llah in the last twenty years of his life. He made it clear again in the 1880s, for instance, that he disapproved of absolute monarchy. In Words of Paradise (Kalimat-i firdawsiyyih), written in 1889, Baha'u'llah condemned the tyranny of Muhammad Shah (r. 1834-1848). He said, "His Majesty Muhammad Shah, despite the excellence of his rank, committed two heinous deeds. One was the order to banish the . . . Primal Point [the Bab]; and the other, the murder of the Prince of the city of statesmanship and literary accomplishment [Qa'im-maqam]." 76 Qa'im-maqam served Fath-`Ali Shah as first minister 1821-1834, but was in 1835 put to death by the newly installed Muhammad Shah, and Baha'u'llah's own father was dismissed from his governorship at the same time. This passage combines the two major indigenous sources of Baha'u'llah's constitutionalism. The first derived from the unstable position of government officials in an absolutist system, in which they could be arbitrarily dismissed, mulcted or even executed at any moment. Baha'u'llah, of course, came from precisely the class that suffered most from this arbitrariness. The second source was the monarch's role in upholding the state religion, Shi`ite orthodoxy, which had led to state collusion in the persecution of the Bab and his followers. Only constitutional and parliamentary restraints on the ruler, Baha'u'llah was convinced, could ensure security of life and property, and freedom of conscience.
At the very end of Baha'u'llah's life, a glimmer of political change in Iran appeared in the Tobacco Revolt of 1891-1892. Arguably the first popular rebellion with a nation-wide impact since that of the Babis in mid-century, this revolt protested the granting of a concession in the marketing of Iranian tobacco to a British speculator. 77 The shah and his officials stood to profit from kickbacks in the deal, and hoped foreign expertise would increase revenues from this commodity. But the move endangered the profits of Iranian brokers, merchants and growers, and provoked a series of demonstrations that eventually made the shah rescind the concession. The angry merchants and farmers also drew to their support many intellectuals and Shi`ite clergymen.
The Tobacco Concession typifies the sort of changes occurring during the nineteenth century that may have made acquiring some control over government policy increasingly appealing to Iran's growing middle classes and to the peasants and artisans. The volume of Iran's external trade increased twelve times 1800-1900. The country was further incorporated into the world market as a supplier of raw materials and though disease devastated the silk industry from the 1860s, farmers supplemented it with tobacco, opium, cotton, and rice. The population doubled over the century, and became more sedentary and slightly more urban. Although Anglo-Russian rivalry prevented the building of a railroad, the expanding telegraph network aided national integration. 78 The constant temptation the poverty-ridden agrarian state faced of attempting to farm out the country's resources to foreigners for development increasingly brought it into conflict with a growing middle class and with guildsmen and peasant farmers.
In July of 1891 Baha'u'llah addressed some of the cultural and political themes in the air in his Tablet to the World (Lawh-i dunya). In a passage that demonstrates a strong Iranian patriotism, despite his internationalist sentiments, he lamented the loss of Iran's ancient position as a world center of knowledge and polite culture, and its descent into a self-destructive fractiousness. He bemoaned the "thick clouds of tyranny" that had "darkened the face of the earth, and enveloped its peoples." 79 He referred to the passage in his Most Holy Book, written nearly twenty years earlier, which prophesied that "a democracy of the people" would rule from Tehran, but regretted that as yet usurpers and tyrants were in power. He singled out for opprobrium the Qajar prince, Mahmud Mirza Jalalu'd-Dawlih, the governor of Yazd, who had that spring been involved in the killing of seven prominent Baha'is. 80 Echoing his letter to Queen Victoria written nearly a generation earlier, he advocated that an Iranian parliament, like "the system of government which the British people have adopted in London" be implemented, and that Iranian representatives should meet with the shah to fix a gathering place. 81 He warned that without such government by consultation, Iran would descend into chaos--a warning that took on particular urgency during the violent nationwide protests of the Tobacco Revolt.
Despite his hopes for Iran's regeneration and his disgust with Qajar tyranny, Baha'u'llah directed his followers to avoid conflict and contention. He did not mean nonparticipation in violence during the Tobacco Revolt to end in acquiescence to tyranny or reaction, however. Baha'u'llah, convinced of the inevitability of constitutional and parliamentary government in Iran, wanted Baha'is to work for it peacefully, not with the old Babi scimitar. As for the point of dispute in the Tobacco Revolt, he wrote, "Special regard must be paid to agriculture . . . Agriculture is highly developed in foreign lands, however in Persia it hath so far been grievously neglected. It is hoped that His Majesty the Shah--may God assist him by His grace--will turn his attention to this vital and important matter." 82 A bit of irony seems apparent here. As of July 1891, a year and a half after Nasiru'd-Din Shah granted the tobacco concession, Baha'u'llah maintained that the ruler had neglected to develop Iranian agriculture. The passage perhaps implies that granting concessions to foreigners constitutes no agricultural policy at all, but rather a neglect of this vital sector.
To place Baha'u'llah's thought in Iran's political spectrum of the time, it is instructive to compare the Tablet to the World to a petition from the "Liberal Movement" of reformist intellectuals in Iran protesting the tobacco concession early in 1892. 83 The petition decries Qajar officials as despotic and inhuman, just as did Baha'u'llah. It calls for the establishment of organic laws and the dismissal of the current ministers, and demands the rule of Islamic law. It says the "reformers" do not wish to introduce European-style legal codes, satisfied that a true application of indigenous Islamic law would suffice. It calls upon the European Powers to intervene diplomatically with the shah to temper his absolutism, and pledges that the newly formed "National League" would, "in endeavoring to realise our sacred ideal . . . employ neither force nor rebellion."
Like Baha'u'llah, the reformers renounce violence as a means to their political ends. Still, one is struck that in many ways Baha'u'llah's program is more radical. The Baha'i prophet predicted and explicitly advocated representative government on the British model, as a solution to Iran's problems in general and to the Tobacco Revolt in particular, whereas the National League petitioners eschew European laws and institutions, wishing only to implement a rule of law according to the Islamic code. The mechanisms by which this code could curb absolutism in fact are left completely vague. Second, despite Baha'u'llah's own internationalism, he, unlike the National League, did not seek the intervention of European Powers in Iran's internal affairs. Instead, he advocated that the shah convene an indigenous parliament to negotiate an end to the conflict. Third, although the League protests the tobacco concession, it says nothing about what it would put in its place, or the need to develop a national agricultural policy.
In view of these differences, if the supporters of such reformist petitions were progressive, then clearly Baha'u'llah was even more so. After decades of advocating mere administrative reforms, the embittered ex-diplomat Mirza Malkum Khan, recently sacked for corruption, finally came out clearly for elected, parliamentary government in his London-based journal, Qanun, in December, 1892. 84 Historians of modern Iranian intellectual history have seen this call as something of a breakthrough, despite the somewhat unsavory quarters from which it issued. Yet Baha'u'llah had, of course, been making this argument openly since 1868, and in the context of the Tobacco Revolt he strongly reaffirmed it in the Tablet to the World a year and a half before that historic issue of Qanun. Abhorred by conservative nobles, and to the left of most reformist intellectuals, the Baha'is cast themselves as a sort of "loyal opposition," a force that would work within the Qajar system to achieve democracy without violence, and without corruption or undue foreign interference. Their millenarian belief in divine intervention in human affairs, of course, helped give them the patience for a moderate course.
The peaceful and evolutionary strategy toward the achievement of representative government advocated by Baha'u'llah lent itself, of course, to a spectrum of interpretations among the tens of thousands of Baha'is living in Iran, far from their religion's headquarters in Palestine. Some Baha'is, disaffected with Qajar absolutism, came close in their attitudes to the radical camp. Others, fearing the dangerous consequences should the charge of political dissidence be added to that of heresy, remained carefully neutral in political matters. The difficulties in interpreting the sources so as to get at popular Baha'i attitudes are illustrated by the "Shiraz Diary," reports on South Persian affairs prepared for the British consular authorities. In the 1890s these reports refer to the appointed governor of the town of Abadih being chased out by a crowd of its angry inhabitants, especially the "Babis." 85 If accurate, this report probably concerns the actions of Baha'is, since it seems unlikely, given the low estimates of their numbers nationally, that substantial Azali crowds could have been assembled so late in the century. It may be, then, that Baha'i townspeople, imbued by their scriptures with a belief in the tyranny of unelected Qajar officials, occasionally joined in popular movements to oust particularly exploitative governors. On the other hand, "Babi" was often a code-word for dangerous dissident, and one would not wish to hang a great deal on this vague report. I bring it up to suggest that Baha'i behavior was complex and localistic, and that the "quietism" ascribed to this community may characterize it better in the mid-twentieth century than in the late nineteenth.
A surer example of the more activist interpretation of Baha'i ideals may be found in the career of Abu'l-Hasan Mirza Shaykhu'l-Ra'is (c. 1848-1918), a Qajar prince and dissident. 86 A grandson of Fath-`Ali Shah whose father held a position in the provincial government of Burujird, Shaykhu'l-Ra'is was exposed to Babism by his mother, a convert to the new religion. After his father's death, the family settled in Mashhad around 1863. Shaykhu'l-Ra'is studied in seminary in Mashhad, then in Samarra. Back in Mashhad, he became a prominent seminary teacher and secretly adopted the Baha'i Faith. Shaykhu'l-Ra'is got into difficulties with the local authorities, then spent a decade in travel, and stayed in Istanbul some time. After a brief return to Khurasan, where he suffered because of political jealousies, he returned to Istanbul. There, in 1892, he joined the Pan-Islamist circle encouraged by Sultan Abdülhamid, which began with twelve eminent expatriate Iranians (himself included). 87 Its ranks included Shi`ites and also free-thinkers such as Sayyid Jamalu'd-Din, and the ex-Azali Babi agitators, Mirza Aqa Khan Kirmani and Shaykh Ahmad Ruhi. This circle wrote letters to the Shi`ite ulama in Iraq and Iran attempting to encourage Islamic unity against Europe through support for Sultan Abdülhamid, and its members also participated in the agitation against the Tobacco Regie. In this period, Shaykhu'l-Ra'is wrote a treatise on pan-Islam, Ittihad-i Islam, which was later published in India. 88 It may be noted that Baha'i support for the unity of the Muslim world against European imperialism made perfect sense; Baha'i openness to certain Western political innovations derived from a desire to strengthen Asian societies, not from a willingness to be ruled by Westerners. Shaykhu'l-Ra'is opened a correspondence with Malkum Khan in which he showed familiarity with the terminology of the latter's League of Humanity, a progressive secret society modeled on freemasonry. 89 The Ottomans declined to give continued asylum to Shaykhu'l-Ra'is, who, after visiting `Abdu'l-Baha in Akka, went to India. Shaykhu'l-Ra'is later played a prominent role in the Constitutional Revolution of 1905-11, and was imprisoned by Muhammad `Ali Shah (r. 1906-1909).
The more conservative side of the spectrum was taken by the Baha'i merchants based in Bombay, many of them members of the Afnan clan from Shiraz. A petition to the shah from the Bombay Baha'i community in early 1892 appeals for the release of unjustly arrested Baha'is and "containes expressions of sincere loyalty to the Shah, repudiates all suggestions that they have any connection with the disturbers of the public peace, and points to Sayyid Jamal-ud-Din and his followers as the fomenters of trouble and disaffection towards the Shah and his sovereignty." 90 A surface reading of this letter, however, may give a more conservative impression than is warranted by Baha'i actions. First, clearly the state arrested some Baha'is on charges of being involved in the revolt, and some of these charges may have been true. Second, these very Bombay Baha'is were at that moment engaged in printing Baha'i treatises calling for representative government and denouncing Qajar tyranny. The shah knew very well that the Baha'is stood for democracy, that they represented an "opposition," even if a cautious one, to absolutist monarchy. The Bombay community simply aimed at making the state understand that, unlike the Azali Babis and the political radicals, most Baha'is constituted a nonviolent, loyal opposition.
The pacifist, gradualist Baha'is, then, had little in common with radicals, a group that included political revolutionaries such as Sayyid Jamalu'd-Din and Aqa Khan Kirmani, who called for the violent overthrow of the shah, as well as outraged merchants and their followers who staged street demonstrations in 1891, and some of the more nativist members of the Shi`ite clergy, who employed the mosque to begin demonstrations and bazaar strikes. Unlike the radicals, Baha'u'llah believed, in liberal fashion, in the power of discourse to change human ideas and institutions. He took a dim view of several radical intellectuals who emerged as important during the Tobacco Revolt. After Aqa Khan Kirmani came to Akka in the late 1880s to investigate the claims of Baha'is, Baha'u'llah had dismissed him as a schemer. 91 In the summer of 1891 Baha'u'llah wrote against Sayyid Jamalu'd-Din Asadabadi "al-Afghani," having still not heard that the latter had fallen from the shah's favor and been expelled from Iran. He wrote,
A thing hath recently happened which caused great astonishment. It is reported that a certain person [Sayyid Jamalu'd-Din] went to the seat of the imperial throne in Persia and succeeded in winning the good graces of some of the nobility by his behaviour. How pitiful indeed, how deplorable . . . certain dignitaries have allowed themselves to be treated as playthings in the hands of the foolish. The aforesaid person hath written such things concerning this people in the Egyptian press and in the Beirut Encyclopedia that the well-informed and the learned were astonished. He proceeded then to Paris where he published a newspaper entitled Urwatu'l-Wuthqa and sent copies thereof to all parts of the world. He also sent a copy to the Prison of `Akka, and by so doing he meant to show affection and to make amends for his past actions. In short, this Wronged One hath observed silence in regard to him. 92
Baha'u'llah here criticized Sayyid Jamalu'd-Din for his demogogic scapegoating of the Baha'is and his manipulative approach to politics. Sayyid Jamalu'd-Din, after all, never put the achievement of democracy in the forefront of his program, valuing power above all else.
Of the three main political currents, the conservative typified by the Qajar ruling elite, the liberal reformism of the middle strata, and the radicalism of revolutionaries, the Baha'i stance most resembled that of the liberal reformers. Yet Baha'u'llah's open and constant insistence on British-style parliamentary democracy distinguished his community from both the Iranian liberals and the revolutionaries during his lifetime. His refusal to condone violence and his commitment to a constitutional monarchy that would tame the Qajars without overthrowing them further distinguished him from the radicals. From the 1870s through the early 1890s Baha'i thought on representative government put this religion in the progressive camp, especially given the conservative reaction during this era both in Istanbul and in Tehran. That the Baha'i religion held no place for a formal clergy required the creation of new, collective forms of leadership, such as the assemblies of consultation or houses of justice on which prominent believers served. The emphasis on collective decision-making and community consultation in Baha'u'llah's writings accorded well with his democratic political program. The concentration on community consultation of the 1880s may have resulted from the turn away from political reform in Tehran, dashing hopes that any audience existed there for Baha'i blueprints for democratic policies. Baha'u'llah's writings on politics, though clear about the need for representative government, allowed both an activist and a quietist reading among Baha'is back in Iran. Shaykhu'l-Ra'is, and perhaps the Abadih townspeople, represented the activist wing, whereas the Afnan merchants adopted a less confrontational style.
A significant section of the Iranian public appeared ready, from the 1840s onward, to listen to a messianic leader who might turn the world upside down. Neither the more militant Babis, nor their more liberal successors, the Baha'is, had any use for Qajar absolutism or for its base in the exploitation of the little person. The Baha'is elaborated their ideals of governance in a detailed fashion, singling out British constitutional monarchy and the democracies of the Americas for praise. For them, the advent of the world-messiah signified the end of absolutism, of the tyranny of shah and mullah, and the coming of a new world where the lay public would exercise influence over political and religious affairs. The introduction of a rule of law, of an elected legislature, of constitutional limits on monarchy, of low taxes on the poor and increased state investment in their welfare, would have truly turned the society upside down, making all citizens legally equal and giving the lowest subjects a voice in the affairs of state. The monarchies that refused to bend before the new wind, they thought, would find themselves consigned to the dust-heap of history, as with Napoleon III, or the rivers of their realms would run red with blood, as Baha'u'llah prophesied to the Kaiser, or the despot would face public turmoil and deposition, as with Sultan Abdülaziz. Baha'u'llah straightforwardly praised only the constitutional monarchy of Britain, a model he insistently pushed on Nasiru'd-Din Shah. Although himself a believer in limited monarchy, he went so far as to recognize that republicanism held great benefits for all the people of the world.
Baha'u'llah envisaged the use of typically liberal means for implementing his vision of representative government, to wit, discourse and discussion (bayan). Baha'is would convince Iranians to become democratic, through consultative practices in the local houses of justice, and through spreading belief in the Baha'i scriptures and ideology. Baha'u'llah's plan for democracy and social welfare, during an era of semi-feudal Qajar absolutism, had the advantage of being radical enough to appeal to disgruntled artisans and intellectuals, while remaining liberal enough to attract merchants of large property.
Goldziher's confusion about whether the Baha'i Faith stood in the liberal or the absolutist camp can now be resolved. In predicting and advocating government by the people, Baha'u'llah sounds more like Joseph Priestley than like Hobbes. In urging religious toleration, the Baha'i leaders resemble John Stuart Mill more than Pope Leo XIII. In championing the poor against the feudal classes, in seeking to promote modern science and industry, in looking toward the establishment of a single global government, Baha'u'llah sounds remarkably like Saint-Simon. Combining messianism, an option for the poor, and a firm belief in representative government, the Baha'is upheld what was in a Middle Eastern context a progressive program of social reform, though their mix of cultural motifs has made it difficult for Western scholars clearly to fix them on the European political spectrum.
Surprisingly, Baha'is in the period 1866-1892 had the same sort of links with dissident movements as did the Azali Babis. In their close relations with the Young Ottomans, in their steadfast advocacy of parliamentary democracy, in the relations of their intellectuals such as Shaykhu'l-Ra'is with Iranian dissidents in Istanbul, the Baha'is appear to differ from the Azalis mainly in two ways. First, they had less antipathy toward the Qajars, though they still wanted them reduced to constitutional monarchs. Second, they held a pacifist ideology, and for the most part sought irenic ways to effect social change, whereas the Azalis were willing to encourage violent demonstrations in 1891-92, and to advocate the assassination of Nasiru'd-Din Shah. Historians have tended, without warrant, to read the policy of non-intervention in politics adopted by `Abdu'l-Baha from 1907 (and intensified by his successor and grandson, Shoghi Effendi Rabbani from 1921 to 1957) back into the period 1866-1892. Even modern Baha'i avoidance of political parties appears to find no basis in Baha'u'llah's own writings; rather, they seem implied by his advocacy of parliamentary practice on the British model. In short, Shaykhu'l-Ra'is may not be such an anomaly, as an activist Baha'i constitutionalist, as he has heretofore appeared.
Historians have seen thinkers such as Akhundzadih, Malkum Khan, Yusuf Khan, Talibuf, Sayyid Jamalu'd-Din and Aqa Khan Kirmani as intellectual forebears of the Constitutional Revolution of 1905-11. Some of these figures laid little stress on democracy, and others had a limited audience for their ideas in Iran during their lifetimes. Given the evidence here presented, Mirza Husayn `Ali Nuri Baha'u'llah must be added to this canon. As the founder of a new religion with tens of thousands of adherents, drawn from illiterate artisans and peasants as well as from merchants, intellectuals and notables, Baha'u'llah attained a large audience in Iran. By studying both his writings and how they were understood by his audience, engaging in both a "writerly" and a "readerly" analysis, we can hope to gain insights into the social history of ideas in Iran, rather than merely into the ideas of reformist officials and diplomats. Ironically, his son `Abdu'l-Baha, after supporting the Constitutional Revolution in its initial phases, declared his religion's political neutrality from about 1907, for fear of civil war, foreign invasion, and anti-Baha'i pogroms, as well as of the Revolution's partial surrender to theocracy. Iran's inability to develop a genuine separation of religion and state pushed the minority Baha'is to the sidelines as a tyranny of the Shi`ite majority developed. The subsequent history of the Baha'i Faith as an apolitical community, however, should not blind us to the intensely political implications of its social teachings during the reign of Nasiru'd-Din Shah.
Juan R.I. Cole
University of Michigan
Department of History
Many of the ideas in this paper owe a great deal to conversations with Amin Banani over the past decade, and I want to express my gratitude for his generosity and encouragement.
1 In English, see: Vanessa Martin, Islam and Modernism: The Iranian Revolution of 1906 (London, 1989); R.A. McDaniel, The Shuster Mission and the Persian Constitutional Revolution (Minneapolis, 1974); also still valuable is Edward G. Browne, The Persian Revolution of 1905-1909 (Cambridge, 1910).
2 The standard account of this religion is now Peter Smith, The Babi and Baha'i Religions: From Messianic Shi`ism to a World Religion (Cambridge, 1987).
3 Christopher Hill, "John Mason and the End of the World," Puritanism and Revolution (Harmondsworth, 1986 ), pp. 311-323; and the same author's Antichrist in seventeenth-century England (London, 1971); idem., The World Turned Upside Down: Radical Ideas during the English Revolution (London, 1972); B.S. Capp, The Fifth Monarchy Men: A Study in Seventeenth-Century English Millenarianism (London, 1972); Nathan O. Hatch, The Sacred Cause of Liberty: Republican Thought and the Millennium in Revolutionary New England (New Haven, 1977); Clarke Garrett, A Respectable Folly: Millenarians and the French Revolution in France and England (Baltimore, 1975).
4 Peter Smith, "Millenarianism in the Babi and Baha'i Religions," in Roy Wallis, ed., Millennialism and Charisma (Belfast, 1982), pp. 231-83. Smith does not, as I intend to, link Baha'i millenarianism with social reform motifs.
5 See Abbas Amanat, Resurrection and Renewal: The Making of the Babi Movement in Iran, 1844-1850 (Ithaca, N.Y., 1989).
6 Peter Smith, "A Note on Babi and Baha'i Numbers in Iran," Iranian Studies 15 (1984):295-301.
7 For the quietism of most intellectuals, see Farhad Atael, "The Iranian Graduates of the European Universities and the Constitutional Revolution of 1906," paper presented at the 23rd annual Middle East Studies Association of North America conference, Toronto, November 15-18, 1989.
8 See, e.g., Faridun Adamiyyat, Fikr-i azadi va muqaddimih-'i nahzat-i mashrutiyyat-i Iran (Tehran, 1340 s./1961-62); idem., Andishihha-yi taraqqi va hukumat-i qanun-i `asr-i Sipah Salar (Tehran, 1352 s./1973-74); idem., Fikr-i dimukrasi-yi ijtima`i dar nahzat-i mashrutiyyat (Tehran, 1975); idem., Idi'uluzhi-yi nahzat-i mashrutiyyat-i Iran (Tehran, 2535/1976); F. Adamiyyat and Huma Natiq, Afkar-i ijtima`i va siyasi va iqtisadi dar asar-i muntashir nashudih-'i dawrih-'i Qajar (Tehran, 1356 s./1977-78); A.H. Hairi, Shi'ism and Constitutionalism in Iran (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1977). Denis MacEoin once wrote a short conference paper on constitutionalism and the Shaykhis, Babis and Baha'is, which I saw in the early '80s, but it has not to my knowledge been published. I have also been influenced by Moojan Momen, "The Baha'i Influence on the Reform Movements of the Islamic World in the 1860s and 1870s," Baha'i Studies Bulletin, vol. 3, no. 2 (1983):47-65.
9 Nikki R. Keddie, "Religion and Irreligion in Early Iranian Nationalism," Comparative Studies in Society and History 4 (1962):265-95; Faridun Adamiyat, Andishihha-yi Mirza Aqa Khan Kirmani (Tehran, 1970); Mangol Bayat, Mysticism and Dissent: Socioreligious Thought in Qajar Iran (Syracuse, 1982), esp. pp. 157-61.
10 E.G. Browne, "Babiism," Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, 1909, repr. in Moojan Momen, ed., Selections from the Writins of E.G. Browne on the Babi and Baha'i Religions (Oxford, 1987), p. 425.
11 Ignaz Goldziher, Introduction to Islamic Theology and Law, tr. Andras and Ruth Hamori (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1981), pp. 251-52. Some of Goldziher's evidence for this assertion comes from `Abdu'l-Baha's stances in the period 1907-1909, which I think it anachronistic to conflate with Baha'u'llah's writings of the 1860s and 1870s.
12 `Abdu'l-Baha called some of the early reforms, dated by internal evidence to 1906, "the basic foundation of the Most Great Civilization." See `Abdu'l-Baha, Majmu`ih-'i mubarakih (Tehran, 1908), pp. 89-90. In letters to Yunis Khan Afrukhtih, also dated by internal evidence to 1906 or 1907, `Abdu'l-Baha insisted that it was an absolute duty for Baha'is to campaign for the election of some of their coreligionists to the parliament (majlis-i milli); I have photocopies of five of these letters from a collection in private hands. The later agreement of reformist intellectuals to the exclusion of "heretics" from membership in parliament may thus have been a major factor in pushing the Baha'is away from active support for it.
13 Juliet Thompson, The Diary of Juliet Thompson (Los Angeles, 1983), pp. 100-103.
14 On Qajar society, see Ann K.S. Lambton, Qajar Iran (Austin, Tx., 1987); Shaul Bakhash, Iran: Monarchy, Bureaucracy and Reform under the Qajars 1858-1896 (London, 1978); Edmund Bosworth and Carole Hillenbrand, eds., Qajar Iran: Political, Social and Cultural Change (Edinburgh, 1983); and Nikki R. Keddie, Roots of Revolution: An Interpretive History of Modern Iran, with a section by Yann Richard (New Haven, 1981), pp. 24-62.
15 For recent work on Shaykhism see Henri Corbin, En islam iranien, 4 vols. (Paris, 1971-72), vol. 4; and Mangol Bayat, Mysticism and Dissent: Socioreligious Thought in Qajar Iran (Syracuse, 1982), pp. 37-86.
16 Baha'u'llah's biography may be found in H.M. Balyuzi, Baha'u'llah, King of Glory (Oxford, 1980); see also J. Cole, "Baha'ism," and Baha'-Allah," Encyclopaedia Iranica, vol. 3 (Boston, 1988):423-29, 438-46.
17 Cf. P.R.O., F.O. 195 624, Kemball/Bulwer, Baghdad, no. 51, 28 Sept. 1859, repr. in Moojan Momen, ed., The Babi and Baha'i Religions, 1844-1944: Some Contemporary Western Accounts (Oxford, 1981), pp. 181-82. On this period, see J. Cole, "Baha'u'llah and the Naqshbandi Sufis in Iraq, 1854-1856," in J. Cole and M. Momen, eds., From Iran East and West: Studies in Babi and Baha'i History Volume Two (Los Angeles, 1984), pp. 1-28 and Denis MacEoin, "Divisions and Authority Claims in Babism (1850-1866)," Studia Iranica 18, no. 1 (1989):93-129. MacEoin relies on Azali sources, even to construct Baha'u'llah's own ideas and motivations, whereas I give greater credence to Baha'i accounts in this regard. Since on many issues these texts absolutely controvert one another, it is difficult to find a happy compromise, and I think the best we can do is openly state our preferences.
18 P.R.O., F.O. 195/752, Kemball/Bulwer, 6 May 1863, repr. in Momen, The Babi and Baha'i Religions, 1844-1944, p. 183.
19 Ustad Muhammad `Ali Salmani, Sharh-i hal, copy of Persian MS in author's possession, p. 8; partial tr. Marzieh Gali, My Memories of Baha'u'llah (Los Angeles, 1982), p. 22.
20 Salmani, Sharh-i hal, pp. 14-16; tr. pp. 39-41.
21 See Mirza Habibu'llah Afnan, "Tarikh-i amri-yi Shiraz," Persian MS, Afnan Library, London, pp. 153-68; see also H.M. Balyuzi, Eminent Baha'is in the Time of Baha'u'llah (Oxford, 1985), pp. 216-24, and the history of the Afnan family by Muhammad `Ali Faydi, Khandan-i Afnan (Tehran, 1970). For the Nahris see Kazim Samandar, Tarikh-i Samandar (Tehran, 1974), pp. 179-80; and `Abdu'l-Hamid Ishraq-Khavari, Nurayn-i nayyirayn (Tehran, 1966). For the conception of provincial notables in Iran, see William R. Royce, "The Shirazi Provincial Elite: Status Maintenance and Change," in M. Bonine and N. Keddie, eds., Modern Iran: The Dialectics of Continuity and Change (Albany, N.Y., 1981), pp. 289-300.
22 C.S. de Gobineau, ed., Correspondence entre le Comte de Gobineau et le Comte de Prokesch-Osten (1854-76) (Paris, 1933), pp. 288-89; also tr. in Momen, Babi and Baha'i Religions, p. 187.
23 Roderic Davison, Reform in the Ottoman Empire, 1856-1876 (Princeton, 1963), esp. chapters 2, 3, 4, and 7; and Niyazi Berkes, The Development of Secularism in Turkey (Montreal, 1964), chapters 5 and 6.
24 Baha'u'llah's letters to the monarchs were published by Victor Rosen in the Collections scientifiques de l'institut des langues orientales du Ministere des Affaires Etrangeres, 6 vols. (St. Petersburg, 1877-1891), 6:141-233. I shall cite the more accessible edition published by the Baha'i Publishing Trust in Tehran. The only extended academic discussion of these texts in English is that of Browne, but these articles were preliminary and contain many errors, and may therefore not be relied upon: see E.G. Browne, "The Babis of Persia," Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society 21 (1889):953-72 and idem., "Some Remarks on the Babi Texts Edited by Baron Victor Rosen," Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society 24 (1892):283-318.
25 Baha'u'llah, "Sura al-Muluk," Alvah-i nazilih khitab bi muluk va ru'asa-yi ard (Tehran, 1968), pp. 3-70, esp. pp. 17-19.
26 Baha'u'llah, "Lawh-i Sultan-i Iran," in ibid., pp. 143-201, esp. 160-61, 179-80.
27 Bayat, Mysticism and Dissent, p. 130.
28 Baha'u'llah, "Sura al-Muluk," Alvah-i nazilih, pp. 35-37; Baha'u'llah, Proclamation of Baha'u'llah, tr. Shoghi Effendi (Haifa, 1967), pp. 47-54.
29 Diplomatic correspondence concerning the exile of the Azalis and Baha'is from Edirne is printed in Momen, Babi and Baha'i Religions, ch. 11.
30 Baha'u'llah, "Lawh-i Fuad," in Rosen, ed., "Manuscrits Babys," Collections scientifiques, 6:231-32; this passage tr. Shoghi Effendi, The Promised Day is Come, preface Firuz Kazemzadeh (Wilmette, Ill., 1967 ), p. 63. (Shoghi Effendi's book is the major modern theological discussion of Baha'u'llah's Tablets to the Rulers.) Baha'u'llah's spirited letters to Ali Pasha of 1868, the Arabic "Lawh ar-ra'is" (Tablet to the Leader) and the Persian "Lawh-i Ra'is" are in Baha'u'llah, Alvah-i nazilih khitab bi muluk, pp. 203-251, see esp. p. 233.
31 Isma`il Rizvani, "Qadimtarin zikr-i dimukrasi dar nivishtih-ha-yi farsi," Rahnama-yi kitab 5 (1341/1962-63):257-63, 367-70; Hafez Farman-Farmayan, "The Forces of Modernization in Nineteenth Century Iran," in W. Polk and R. Chambers, eds., The Beginnings of Modernization in the Middle East (Chicago, 1968), pp. 119-51.
32 An insider's account of the Young Ottoman movement is Ebuzziya Tevfik, Yeni Osmanlilar Tarihi, ed. Ziyad Ebuzziya, 3 vols. (Istanbul, 1974); the most detailed modern English academic treatment is still Serif Mardin, The Genesis of Young Ottoman Thought (Princeton, 1962); Ali Suavi's demand for an elected legislature is in "Istanbuldan tahrirat," Muhbir, October 26, 1867, cited in Mardin, Genesis, pp. 46-47.
33 For Malkum and the Young Ottomans, see Ebuzziya, Yeni Osmanlilar, 2:18; for Malkum and Baha'u'llah in Baghdad, see Balyuzi, Baha'u'llah, pp. 151-52 (citing Muhammad Nabil-i A`zam Zarandi, Matali` al-anwar, MS); on Malkum in general, see Hamid Algar, Mirza Malkum Khan (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1973), esp. p. 89 for his article in Hürriyet.
34 Bakhash, Iran, pp. 44-45.
35 Baha'u'llah, "Lawh Malikah Wikturiya," Alvah-i nazilih, p. 131; tr. Baha'u'llah, Proclamation, p. 33.
36 "Lawh Malikah Wikturiya," p. 133, tr. p. 34. For the issue of slavery in the Ottoman Empire see Ehud Toledano, The Ottoman Slave Trade and its Suppression (Princeton, 1982); for slavery in Iran see Charles Issawi, ed., The Economic History of Iran, 1800-1914 (Chicago, 1971), pp. 127-28.
37 Ami Ayalon, Language and Change in the Arab Middle East: The Evolution of Modern Political Discourse (Oxford, 1987), pp. 100-109; F. Steingass, A Comprehensive Persian-English Dictionary (Beirut, 1975 ), S.V. jumhur. The democratic connotations of the term are revealed by its semantic field: "a high heap of sand; a large gathering of people; the populace; a community; all; universal."
38 Baha'u'llah, "Lawh-i Napuli'un-i Sivvum," Alvah-i nazilih, pp. 102-03; tr., Proclamation, p. 20.
39 Baha'u'llah, "Khitab bi Qaysar-i Alman," from al-Kitab al-aqdas, in Alvah-i nazilih, pp. 250-51; tr. Proclamation, p. 39.
40 Baha'u'llah, al-Kitab al-aqdas, p. 98; my literal translation, necessary for this technical discussion.
41 Baha'u'llah, "Khitab bi ru'asa-yi jumhur-i Amriqa," from al-Kitab al-aqdas, in Alvah-i nazilih, p. 258; tr. Proclamation, p. 63.
42 Baha'u'llah, "Lawh-i Padshah-i Rus," in Alvah-i nazilih, p. 122; tr., Proclamation, p. 27.
43 Baha'u'llah, al-Kitab al-aqdas, (Bombay, n.d.), pp. 178-79; my translation, necessary for this technical discussion.
44 Ayalon, Language and Change, pp. 89-91.
45 Baha'u'llah, "Lawh-i Salman," Majmu`ih-i matbu`ih-'i alvah-i mubarakih, ed. Muhyi'd-Din Sabri (Cairo, 1920; repr. Wilmette, Ill., 1978), pp. 125-26; this passage tr. Shoghi Effendi, The Promised Day is Come, p. 72.
46 Ebuzziya, Yeni Osmanlilar, 3:64. My thanks to James Stuart Robinson for his help in interpreting this passage.
47 Namik Kemal, Hususi Mektuplar, ed. Fevziye Abdullah Tansel, vol. 1 (Ankara, 1967):240-41, 450, 454.
48. For the loss of Namik Kemal's correspondence with `Abdu'l-Baha, see Suleyman Nazif, Nasiru'd-Din Sah ve Babilar (Istanbul, 1923), pp. 52-53. The possibility exists that the Baha'i leader's letters are still to be found somewhere in Namik Kemal's private papers.
49 Bereketzade Hakki Effendi, Yad-i mazi (Istanbul, 1914), pp. 105-121.
50 Balyuzi, Baha'u'llah, pp. 378-79; Balyuzi fixes the meeting between Midhat Pasha and `Abdu'l-Baha in Beirut sometime in 1879.
51 M. Sükrü Hanioglu, Bir Siyasal Düsünür olarak Doktor Abdullah Cevdet ve Dönemi (Istanbul, 1981); I am grateful to the author himself for drawing these facts to my attention. For the beginnings of the Young Turk movement see Bernard Lewis, The Emergence of Modern Turkey (Oxford, 1968, 2nd edn), pp. 196-201.
52 See Guity Nashat, The Beginnings of Reform in Modern Iran (Urbana, 1981); Bakhash, Iran, ch. 2; Azriel Karny, "Mirza Husein Khan and his Attempts at Reform in Iran, 1872-73," Ph.D. diss., University of California, Los Angeles, 1973; Firuz Kazemzadeh, Russia and Britain in Persia, 1864-1914 (New Haven, 1968), esp. pp. 100-147.
53 Samandar, Tarikh-i Samandar, p. 199. Samandar placed this conversation in 1291/1874-75, but says that at the time Mirza Husayn Khan was the "first person in Iran" (shakhs-i avval-i Iran), which makes it sound as if he was still the prime minister. I suspect that Samandar may have misremembered the date, and that this conversation took place in 1872 or early 1873.
54 Asrar al-ghaybiyya li asbab al-madaniyya was first printed in Bombay at the Hasani Zivar Press by al-Hajj Muhammad Husayn al-Hakim al-Baha'i in Rabi` I 1299/January-February 1882, according to the frontispiece reprinted in Rosen, ed., Collections scientifiques, 6:253. I have used the second printing: `Abdu'l-Baha, ar-Risala al-madaniyya (Cairo, 1911); a translation is `Abdu'l-Baha, The Secret of Divine Civilization, tr. Marzieh Gail (Wilmette, Ill., 2nd edn 1970). The Persian text of this book was reprinted in 1984 by the Baha'i Publishing Trust in Hofheim, West Germany, and is still in print.
55 For the Iranian reformers, see Bayat, Mysticism and Dissent, ch. 5; Bakhash, Iran, pp. 29-42; and Mirza Husayn Khan Dabiru'l-Mulk, "Risalih-i siyasi," printed in Adamiyyat and Natiq, Afkar-i ijtima'i, pp. 417-448.
56 See Stanford J. Shaw and Ezel Kural Shaw, History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey Volume II: Reform, Revolution and Republic (Cambridge, 1985):105-186; Lewis, Emergence, ch. 5; Berkes, Secularism in Turkey, chapters 7-8; Mardin, Genesis.
57 Iraj Afshar and Asghar Mahdavi, eds., Majmu`ih-'i asnad va madarik-i chap nashudih dar barih-'i Sayyid Jamalu'd-Din Mashhur bi Afghani (Tehran, 1963), plate 62 (p. 133 of facsimiles). The letter is signed "al-Da`i al-Babi al-Masjun fi `Akka, `Abbas" ("the Babi publicist imprisoned in Akka, `Abbas"). It is not dated, but Misr was published 1877-79. For Sayyid Jamalu'd-Din, see Nikki R. Keddie, Sayyid Jamalu'd-Din "al-Afghani": A Political Biography (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1972).
58 Adib Ishaq, al-Durar, ed. Jirjis Mikha'il (Alexandria, 1886), pp. 55-57; the article appeared originally in Misr in the spring of 1878.
59 Baha'u'llah, "Bisharat," Majmu`ih-'i az alvah-i Jamal-i Aqdas-i Abha kih ba`d az kitab-i aqdas nazil shudih, (Hofheim, 1980), p. 15; Baha'u'llah, Tablets of Baha'u'llah revealed after the Kitab-i-Aqdas, tr. Habib Taherzadeh (Haifa, 1978), p. 28.
60 "Fi nisba al-fitna ila al-faransiyyin," al-Jawa'ib, 26 October 1870, repr. in Ahmad Faris ash-Shidyaq, Kanz ar-ragha'ib fi muntakhabat al-Jawa'ib, 7 vols. (Istanbul, 1871-1880), 2:78.
61 Bruce/Church Mission Society, 19 November 1874, in Momen, Babi and Baha'i Religions, p. 244; see also Moojan Momen, "Early Relations between Christian Misionaries and the Babi and Baha'i Communities," in Moojan Momen, ed., Studies in Babi and Baha'i History, vol. 1 (Los Angeles, 1982), pp. 49-82.
62 E.G. Browne, ed., Materials for the Study of the Babi Religion (Cambridge, 1918), p. 190.
63 Ruhu'llah Mihrabkhvani, Sharh-i ahval-i jinab-i Mirza Abu'l-Fada'il-i Gulpaygani (Tehran, 1974), pp. 44-45; for the thought of this figure, see Mirza Abu'l-Fadl Gulpaygani, Miracles and Metaphors, tr. J. Cole (Los Angeles, 1982); and idem., Letters and Essays 1886-1913, tr. J. Cole (Los Angeles, 1985).
64 For the Hamidian reaction see Berkes, Secularism, pp. 252-288; Lewis, Emergence, pp. 175-209; and the Shaws, History of the Ottoman Empire, pp. 172-272 (the latter stress continuities with the Tanzimat period but do not deny Abdulhamid's turn to despotism).
65 See Bakhash, Iran, pp. 146-86, 261-93.
66 Browne, "The Babis of Persia," p. 944.
67 Baha'u'llah, al-Kitab al-aqdas, p. 30; tr. Shoghi Effendi Rabbani in A Synopsis and Codification of the Kitab-i-Aqdas the Most Holy Book of Baha'u'llah (Haifa, 1973), p. 13.
68. The following works in Baha'u'llah, Majmu`ih-'i az alvah: "Bisharat," pp. 14-15, Taherzadeh tr. pp. 26-27; "Lawh-i dunya," p. 50, tr. p. 89; "Ishraqat," pp. 74-77, tr. pp. 127, 129-34.
69 Baha'u'llah, al-Kitab al-aqdas, p. 122; tr. Gleanings, pp. 335-36.
70 Ayalon, Language and Change, p. 53.
71 Bernard Lewis, Emergence, p. 66, quoting the memorandum of Ahmed Atif Effendi, 1798, reprinted in the chronicle of Ahmed Cevdet Pasa. See for this issue Leon Zolondek, "The French Revolution in Arabic Literature of the Nineteenth Century," The Muslim World 57 (1967):202-11.
72 `Abdu'l-Baha, A Traveller's Narrative, tr. and ed. Edward G. Browne, 2 vols. (Cambridge, 1891), 1:193-205; (Eng. tr. 2:158-166). Contrast Pope Leo XIII, "Libertas Praestantissimum," where he wrote, "Justice therefore forbids, and reason itself forbids, the State to be godless; or to adopt a line of action which would end in godlessness--namely, to treat the various religions (as they call them) alike." In Michael Curtis, ed., The Great Political Theories, 2 vols. (New York, 1981), 2:403-04.
73 Ruhu'llah Mihrabkhvani, "Mahafil-i shur dar `ahd-i Jamal-i Aqdas-i Abha," Payam-i Baha'i, nos. 28 and 29 (1981?), pp. 9-11 and pp. 8-9; based on Mirza Asadu'llah Isfahani, "Yad-dashtha," Persian MS (I am grateful to the author for sharing with me a photocopy of this MS). See also Samandar, Tarikh, pp. 203-05.
74 Baha'u'llah in Ahmad Yazdani, ed., Mabadiy-i ruhani (Tehran, 104 B.E.), p. 109: "Imruz ama'u'llah az rijal mahsub." Cited in A. Lee, P. Caton, R. Hollinger, M. Nirou, N. Saiedi, S. Carrigan, J. Armstrong-Ingram, and J. Cole, "The Service of Women on the Institutions of the Baha'i Faith," typescript, p. 19 and 25n. In contemporary practice, women serve on local and national spiritual assemblies (or houses of justice), but not (so far) on the world body, the Universal House of Justice based in Haifa.
75 `Abdu'l-Baha, Tablets of `Abdu'l-Baha `Abbas, 3 vols. (Chicago, 1909-1916), 1:7; for the early American Baha'i community see Robert Stockman, The Baha'i Faith in America, Vol. 1, Origins, 1892-1900 (Wilmette, Ill., 1985) and Richard Hollinger, "Ibrahim George Kheiralla and the Baha'i Faith in America," in Cole and Momen, eds., Studies in Babi and Baha'i History, 2:95-133.
76 Baha'u'llah, "Kalimat-i firdawsiyyih," in Majmu`ih-'i az alvah, pp. 35-36; Eng. tr., p. 65.
77 See Nikki R. Keddie, Religion and Rebellion in Iran: The Tobacco Protest of 1891-1892 (London, 1966); Ann K.S. Lambton, "The Tobacco Regie: Prelude to Revolution," Studia Islamica 22 (1965):119-57, 23 (1965):71-90; and Faridun Adamiyyat, Shurish bar imtiyaznamih-'i rizhi: Tahlil-i siyasi (Tehran, 1981).
78 See Issawi, Economic History of Iran.
79 Baha'u'llah, "Lawh-i dunya," p. 47; tr. p. 84.
80 "Lawh-i dunya," pp. 47-48; tr. p. 85; for the persecution at Yazd in May of 1891, see the diplomatic reports in Momen, Babi and Baha'i Religions, pp. 301-305, which confirm the role of Mahmud Mirza.
81 Baha'u'llah, "Lawh-i dunya," pp. 52-53; tr. pp. 92-93.
82 "Lawh-i dunya," pp. 50-51; tr., p. 90.
83 "A Petition from Iranian Reformers to the Foreign Representatives in Tehran in Early 1892," quoted from "The Liberal Movement in Persia," Manchester Guardian, April 20, 1892, Appendix V of Keddie, Religion and Rebellion in Iran, pp. 152-54.
84 Qanun, no. 35, quoted in Algar, Mirza Malkum Khan, p. 237.
85 Persian report of 7 Ramadan 1313/21 February 1896, printed in Sa`idi Sirjani, Vaqa'i`-i ittifaqiyyih (Tehran, 1982), p. 501; cf. p. 642.
86 `Azizu'llah Sulaymani, Masabih-i hidayat, 9 vols. (Tehran, 1948-1973), 7:419-447; Ibrahim Safa'i, Rahbaran-i mashrutih, 2 vols. (Tehran, 1984 ), 1:561-591 (though this author does not accept the overwhelming evidence that Shaykhu'l-Ra'is was secretly a Baha'i); Sirjani, Vaqa'i`, see index under Shaykhu'l-Ra'is; Momen, Babi and Baha'i Religions, pp. 363-64; H.M. Balyuzi, Eminent Baha'is in the time of Baha'u'llah (Oxford, 1985), pp. 142-155
87 See Afzalu'l-Mulk Kirmani, "Biography of Mirza Aqa Khan Kirmani," Appendix to Keddie, "Religion and Irreligion;" and Shaykhu'l-Ra'is, "Mudhakkarat ra'ji`ih bi ittihad-i Islam ba Jinab-i Cevdet Pasa," in his Muntakhab-i nafis (Tehran: Mahmudi, repr. c. 1960), pp. 117-123.
88 Abu'l-Hasan Mirza Shaykhu'l-Ra'is, Ittihad-i Islam, ed. Sadiq Sajjadi (Tehran, repr. 1984 ).
89 Shaykhu'l-Ra'is/Malkum Khan, 20 Safar 1312/23 August 1894, Supplement Persan, 1991, f. 50, Bibliotheque Nationale, cited in Algar, Mirza Malkum Khan, pp. 225-26.
90 First Minister Aminu'l-Sultan's summary, reported in F.O. 539/56, Lascelles/Salisbury, no. 124 (35), Feb. 16, 1892, and quoted in Keddie, Religion and Rebellion in Iran, pp. 108; a similar line, urging Baha'i non-involvement in the Tobacco Revolt, was taken late in 1892 upon his succession to the leadership of the Baha'i community by `Abdu'l-Baha, Risalih-'i siyasiyyih (Tehran, 1907 [Bombay, 1893]). He was especially worried about the prominence in the revolt of the Shi'ite ulama, enemies of the Baha'is.
91 See Balyuzi, Baha'u'llah, ch. 40, esp. p. 385.
92 Baha'u'llah, "Lawh-i dunya," pp. 54-55; tr. pp. 94-95. For Sayyid Jamalu'd-Din in this period, see Keddie, Sayyid Jamalu'd-Din "al-Afghani," pp. 283-388.