Read: Central Asia Part IV


CENTRAL ASIA
PART IV.
CONTRIBUTION TOWARDS THE BETTER KNOWLEDGE
OP THE
TOPOGRAPHY, ETHNOLOGY, RESOURCES, & HISTORY
OF
PERSIA.
COMPILED
(FOR POLITICAL AND MILITARY REFERENCE)
BYLIEUTENANT-COLONEL C M. MacGREGOR,
ASSISTANT QUARTER-MASTER-GENERAL.
CALCUTTA:
OFFICEOF THE SUPERINTENDENT OF GOVERNMENT PRINTING
1871.

AZA - BAB
will be the first province seized on, and the one in which will lie the most important operations. I trust, therefore, the meagerness of the above information of this important province (the possession of which to Russia will make Persia powerless and a tool for Russian ends, far more even than she is now), will induce an effort to make it more complete. (Monleitli - Pasley - Sheil -Malcolm - Morier.)
AZDANLU -

A division of the Kajar tribe of Persia. They were removed to Merv in the reign of Shah Thamasp I., and continued to hold that place till conquered by the Uzbaks under the king of Bokhara, who nearly annihilated the tribe.- (Malcolm.)
AZ-KAND - Lat. Long. Elev.

A village in Khorasan, Persia, 62 miles from Khaf, on the road to Turshez, from which it is distant 15 miles. It is described as "fortified." - (Taylor.)
AZMIR-Lat. Long. Elev.

A range of hills in Kurdistan, to the north-east of Sulimaniah. It is a spur of the great range of Kurdistan. It is crossed on the road to Sulimaniah from Karatcholan by a very tolerable road which zigzags up the face of the hill without any precipice. The road then leads over the hill for ยบ mile, and then descends at first not badly, but afterwards it continues along a precipice, which it is dangerous to ride on; thence the descent is easy into the plain of Sulimaniah. (Rich.)
B.
BABA BEG -

See Shahr-i-Babak.
BABA HAFIZ - Lat. Long. Elev.

A village in Khorasan, Persia, near Damghan. It is enclosed within four walls with towers at the angles, looking like a square fort. Close to the village are the remains of the castle of Mehr Nigand crowning the height of an apparently inaccessible precipice. (Holmes.)
BABA HAJI -

A village in Fars, Persia, 15 miles from Shiraz, on the road to Firozabad, from which it is distant 51 miles. A few supplies are procurable here from the nomades, and there is generally some grain stored in the village. Water is derived from a spring. The climate here in summer is said to be cool and refreshing. (Pelly.)
BABIL - Lat. Long. Elev.

A river of Mazandaran in Persia, which rises in the Elburz range, and flowing past Barfarosh falls into the Caspian Sea at the port of Mashad-i-Sir. It lies too far below the level of the country to be useful for purposes of irrigation. At Barfarosh it is about 50 yards, and flows with a current of about 2 miles an hour; it is said to be navigable for boats from Mashad-i-Sir to within 3 or 4 miles of Barfarosh, but it is not used for this purpose. At (p. 44)
BAB
Barfarosh it is described by Stuart as a full sluggish stream, about 50 yards broad. Above Barfarosh it is crossed by a handsome brick bridge of eight arches, very slightly raised in the centre. (Fraser - Holmes.)
BABIS.

A Religious sect of Persia, the origin, views and progress of which are thus described by Spiel: -" This sect is styled Babi form Bab, a gate, in Arabic, the name assumed by its founder, meaning the gate to heaven. "This celebrated person, whose real name was Syad Ali Mahamad, was born 80 years ago in Shiraz, where his father was a merchant. When 15 years of age he was sent to his theological studies at Najaf. Here he became acquainted with two ' derveshes,' with whom he was for a considerable period on terms of great intimacy. He was afterwards sent to Bushahr to follow commercial pursuits, but he withdrew from society, and in a life of seclusion devoted himself to the religious exercises commonly observed by derveshes. These mystic practices are supposed to have affected his intellect. After some changes he settled at Kazamin, near Baghdad, where he first divulged his pretensions to the character of a prophet. Incensed at this blasphemy, the Turkish authorities issued orders for his execution, but he was claimed by the Persian consul as a subject of the Shah and sent to his native place. Here in a short time he collected so many disciples around him that imprisonment followed an investigation into his doctrines. It was debated whether he was to be treated as a lunatic or a blasphemer, an unworthy descendant of the prophet; but his life was saved by the voice of the Shekh ul Islam on his making a public recantation of his errors from the pulpit of one of the principal mosques. He contrived to escape from prison and made his way to Ispahan, where many people of distinction secretly embraced his opinions. Again arrested, he was sent to the fort of Charak in Azarbijan, and under the infliction of the bastinade he again recanted his errors. Six months afterwards it having been ascertained that his doctrines were obtaining rapid diffusion among all classes, he was conveyed to Tabrez, and on the day of his arrival was brought out for execution in the great maidan or square. This was on the point of becoming a most remarkable event, which would. probably have overturned the throne and Islamism in Persia. A company of soldiers was ordered to despatch Bab by a volley. When the smoke cleared away Bab had disappeared from sight. It had so happened that none of the balls had touched him; and prompted by an impulse to preserve his life, he rushed from the spot. Had Bab possessed sufficient presence of mind to have fled to the bazar, which was within a few yards of the place where he was stationed, he would in all probability have succeeded. in effecting his escape. A miracle palpable to all Tabrez would have been performed, and a new creed would have been established; but he turned in the opposite direction, and hid himself in the guard-room, where he was immediately discovered, brought out and shot. His body was thrown into the ditch of the town, where it was devoured by the half-wild dogs which abound outside a Persian city. Bab possessed a mild and benignant countenance, his manners were composed and dignified, his eloquence was impressive, and he wrote rapidly and well. "It would appear that in the beginning of his career he did not wholly reject the established forms and doctrines of the Mahamadan faith, but he reduced these to proportions so small as to he equivalent to their annulment, and thus rendered his speculations acceptable to the multitude. As (p. 45)
BAB - BAD

his disciples increased, so did his views enlarge. It is a strange circumstance that among those who adopted Bab's doctrine there should have been a large number of 'mulas' and even mustahids, who held a high rank as expounders of the law in the Mahamadan church. Many of these men sealed their faith with their blood. Bab's notions did not contain much originality. Atheism, under the disguise of pantheism, was the basis of his principles. Every single atom in the universe, he said, was actually God, and the whole universe collectively was God; not a representative of or emanation from God, but God himself. everything in short was God. Bab was God, and every living creature down to each lowest insect. Death was not real; it was only another form of divinity, if such language has any signification at all. Virtue has no existence, neither had vice; they were necessarily wholly indifferent, as being portions or emanations. of the God-head. Rights of property had no existence, excepting in the equal division of all things among the godly. But this was a fiction, the real doctrine being the reign of the saints, that is, of the Babis and their possession of the goods of the ungodly; in other words, the non-Babis. It was the simplest of religions. Its tenets may be summed up in materialism, communism, and the entire indifference of good and evil and of all human actions. There was no antipathy, it was affirmed., on the part of the Babis, to Christians, or to the followers of any other creed. excepting Mahamadans, who as they slew Babis ought to be exterminated.

"One of the proofs alleged against Bab's claim to a divine mission was the ungrammatical Arabic of his revelations, which could not consequently have descended from heaven. The Koran is regarded as a miracle of style and composition." (Shiel.)

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