Introduction by Ahang Rabbani
In the ancient times, man recorded his daily observations and history
of important events through drawings on the cave walls. In the modern times,
one would not expect important history to be written merely on walls, but as it
turns out, an eyewitness account of the Babis of Nayriz is just that: A history
on the wall.
During 1850-53, the Babis of Nayriz were engulfed in defending their community
against a most brutal and murderous campaign in the course of which many
thousands on both sides perished. At the conclusion of those events, a citizen
of that city inscribed the details of the occurrences on the inner wall of a
popular mosque, the Masjid-i Jami' Saghir
(The Smaller Friday Mosque). In the colophon of this important historical
document, the author introduces himself as Ibrahim, son of Áqá
Siyyid Husayn Nayrízi, and the present translator knows no other
biographical information about him.
M.A. Faizi reports that Shu'lih in the
introduction of his collection of poetry, known as Khusraw va Shirin,
has written, "... Eventually the government provided support to the local
forces and in the same way that is written on the wall of the Masjid-i Jami'
Saghir by the hand of the late Siyyid Taqi Khushnivis Nayrízi, and is
reflected with some minor differences and errors in the
Nasikhu't-Tavvarikh, Siyyid Yahyá was slain..."
This particular mosque was located in the Bazar quarter of Nayríz and
all along had been in the hand of the Muslims waging battles with the
Bábís. Therefore, the fact that such a history was recorded and
preserved on its wall indicates the deep impressions that this event had made
on the consciousness of the people of Nayríz. Although written in a
seemingly neutral language, and in a few parts even outwardly critical of Vahid
and his followers, it does not fail to convey the depth of admiration and
respect for the Bábís that had been evoked in the heart of the
writer. Clearly the author, who resided in the quarter whose inhabitants had
been extremely hostile to the Bábís and himself an observer, or
perhaps a participant in the battles, had developed such admiration towards the
besieged that he took the not inconsiderable risk of penning this sympathetic
narrative in a public place. In this regard, about the author of this historic
account, H.M. Balyuzi has noted, "Although he had to write with circumspection
to avoid being denounced, he composed his narrative in such a way that one can,
without difficulty, read more of it between the lines. His account bears out
the fact that Vahíd was given solemn assurances, that he was received
with great esteem and reverence, that those who had pledged their word broke
their pledges, that the quarter of Chinar-Sukhtih, which was then a stronghold
of the Bábís of Nayríz, and the quarter of Bazar were
sacked, that houses were demolished, huge sums of money extorted, and
Nayríz was reduced to a state of desolation."
For many years this singularly important narrative remained unnoticed and
protected under a cover of dust and dirt and only in 1940 did it come to
notice, when an archaeologist examining historic buildings in Nayriz discovered
its existence. The dust and debris was carefully removed from this inscription
until finally the actual text became fully visible. This archaeologist, who
according to Ruhani was friendly towards the Bahá'ís, provided the Spiritual
Assembly of that city with a copy of the inscription. The full text was reproduced in Nayríz-i
Mushkbiz and Lam'atu'l-Anvar, and
while some minor differences exist between them, both sources have been
utilized in this translation. In terms of
writing style, this document was composed in the customary Qájár
mode, which included a generous dosage of abstruse language, excessive
ambiguities and many laudatory titles. To the degree possible, these have been
retained in the translation so that the reader can have an idea of this style
The Account of Siyyid Ibrahim
He is God, the Exalted.
Of the events of this transient and seditious world and of the
occurrences of this faithless plane of existence, one that came to pass at the
end of the heavenly reign of Muhammad Shah, the sovereign King of the
Qájár and the light of God amongst His dominion, and at the
beginning of the reign of the pivot of universe, Nasiri'd-Din Shah, was the
appearance of certain beliefs and utterances by Mírzá
'Alí-Muhammad-i Bab, in the year 1263 A.H.
, in the Daru'l-'Ilm
Shiraz. This led to the manifestation of uprising and mischief in the year 1266
among the people in the governed nation
of Iran, particularly in Zanjan, the province of Mazandaran, and even in 'Iraq
An effulgence of that blazing and insurgent flame reached the hearts of some
inhabitants of this realm and in the whirlwind of events, it destroyed the
foundations of many lives and washed away many others in the water of
A single flame of that fire was, Áqá Siyyid Yahyá, who
numbered among those enamoured with love and who desired liberty. For sundry
reasons, over the years he had associated with the people of this region and
had close ties of friendship and camaraderie with many citizens. As such he was
able to sow the seeds of revolt in many hearts.
The above-mentioned Siyyid, having come upon this path [i.e. the Babi Faith]
in the Daru'l-'Ilm of Shiraz, had gone to the Daru'l-'Ibad
and had lit the fire of sedition raised by Muhammad ibn
'Abdu'llah. A district in that city that admired him had come to follow him in
this instance. Consequently, by the orders of the governor of that region,
properties and families in that district were destroyed and perished.
After this incident and being overcome with fear, the Siyyid escaped to
Bavanat, on the border of this region. He selected this location as he had many
enthralled followers, predisposed and ready for his Faith. Wherever he went, he
spoke of his beliefs and wrote many treatises until he arrived at the Shrine of
Khájíh Ahmad Ansari
The honored Hájí Zaynu'l-'Ábidín Khán
, out of consideration for the monarch and
the well-being of his people, did not consider it prudent for the Siyyid to
enter [Nayríz], and forbade him from doing so. The Siyyid therefore
moved to the village of Istahbanat where he tarried for a while, and many
joined him in his belief.
From there he proceeded to the town of Fasa, where [its governor]
Áqá Mírzá Muhammad, a confidant of the monarch,
considered the Siyyid as a [potential] cause of upheaval, and through kindness,
dislodged him from that town. Therefore, once more he set out for the village
of Istahbanat where he paused for a few days. From that base, he was able to
rally a number of people in his support and, united in his cause, he
immediately decided to proceed to Nayríz.
Upon arrival he went directly to the Masjid-i Jami' Kabir, in the
Chinar-Sukhtih quarter, where his followers had gathered from all corners,
preparing to wage battle. As he ascended the pulpit with his ready saber, the
congregation numbered nine hundred men armed with guns and swords. He spoke to
the assemblage and prepared them for combat, and in that quarter raised the
standard of revolt.
At the time of the arrival of the Siyyid and the conversion and alliance of
people, the previously-mentioned honored Hájí
Zaynu'l-'Ábidín Khán had gone to the Qurtiyih district.
When he was apprised of the situation, he rose in defense and gathered fifteen
hundred of the tribal men of Ma'adin and other regions and arrived at his home
[in Nayríz], which was a fortified stronghold.
During the four days prior to the commencement of fighting, many of the nobles
and respected inhabitants of this town and the divines of Istahbanat exerted
much time and effort to counsel the insurgents, but it was to no avail as their
hearts remained unmoved. Therefore the matter came to war and resulted in the
separation of the Chinar [Sukhtih] quarter. Many took refuge with the governor
and thereby outwardly protected themselves from this inconvenience. As the
people's situation came to this, one night, the above-named Siyyid together
with one hundred and eighty or perhaps two hundred of his followers managed to
reach the fort of Khájíh and make that their stronghold.
The following day when the Khán was appraised of this exodus, being
confident in the number of his men and their support, he sent about five
hundred gunmen and cavalry to the vicinity of the fort. And from the fort, the
Siyyid sent out his gunmen who killed all the governor's soldiers. Once more,
being vain in his influence, the Khán sent forth more of his men who
were reduced similarly.
When the state of affairs had reached this point and the matter of revolt
had come to such impasse, the honored
Hájí Zaynu'l-'Ábidín Khán, who had ruled
this town for fourteen years, and his older
brother, 'Alí-Asghar Khán
, along with all their relatives and men, came with utmost
confidence and surrounded the fort. They pitched their camp on the eastern side
of the fort, where they passed the first night.
On the following night, a large multitude of men from the fort suddenly
attacked the camp and killed or injured forty of the relatives and the gunmen
of the Khán, while many others took to flight. And yet, the subsequent
evening saw many more fall victim to the same fate, that is, many were killed
or taken hostage while many others were forced to flee. None were left
unhindered. The honored 'Alí-Asghar Khán, the older brother of
the aforementioned Khán, whose outstanding qualities were described
previously and had ruled the region, was slain by being cut into pieces.
Together with a few of his servants, the Khán took refuge in his home
which he had built strong and was well protected. He passed the next day there
and once the dark of the night had fallen, rode with great haste to the fort of
the village of Qutriyih.
In this manner, the Siyyid and his followers established their rule, and
through the control of the fort were able to live unhindered. Further to
shedding so much blood, he instructed his executioner, a certain Shaykh, to
behead twelve more men. Untold fear and utmost trepidation had overcome the
hearts of men, to the point that they renounced their worldly goods, wives and
children. The descendents of the Prophet, who were the cornerstones of
community and the upholders of virtue, for fear of their lives fled to the
village of Bábak, where for fifty days the noblemen of that town were
able to enjoy their company and profit from their accomplishments. Many were
frightened and agitated to such depth that they collapsed and passed away.
When the illustrious governor of Fars, the Nusratu'd-Dawlih, was appraised of
these events and informed that this revolt had exceeded all bounds, he
appointed Mihr-'Alí Khán, the Shuja'u'l-Mulk, and Mustafa-Quli
Khán Qarihguzlu as commanders of cavalry and soldiers, and together with
some other officials, instructed them to hasten to the fort and rectify the
matter. The regiments came and camped across the fort. The Khán also
joined them from his safe hiding place, armed with needed guns, powder and
Confidant in his forces and his own strength, the Siyyid decided on a nightly
surprise attack, and laid plans that his men attach and completely destroy the
camp from both the direction of the city and the fort. This plan was carried
out with much bravery and courage. Like the moth circling the flame, they
attacked the hellish fire of cannons and sacrificed all they had. At the
conclusion of this first night attack, forty warriors from the fort were found
to have lost their lives. In the course of the second night, some others also
gave their lives for this matter.
Since the killing by opposing sides lasted for some time and the battle surged
unabated, a plot of deception and perfidy was planed by the army camp. In
short, they offered gifts and supplications to the chosen disciples
of the Siyyid and presented declarations of
submissiveness to the Siyyid himself, which contained promises of allegiance,
trust and devotion to his cause. They wrote him, "We are all profoundly devoted
to you and consider obedience to you our greatest privilege. Should you decide
to emerge from the fort and enter our camp, then rest assured that we would
consider the dust beneath your feet as the kohl of our eyes." With such sweet
words and colorful expressions, which were conveyed through letters and
messengers, they induced and robbed the Siyyid of his deductive faculty and
Straightway the Siyyid mounted his horse and, accompanied by a few chosen
disciples, arrived at their camp where he was welcomed by all the soldiers, to
the sound of the military band playing and the generals greeting him warmly.
With utmost majesty, he was received in a special tent and was seated with
resplendent glory. From every direction, they offered him compliments and
congratulatory expressions. However, when the time had come for him to leave,
with a myriad of obstinate and roguish means, the Yuz-bashi [the captain]
refrained the Siyyid saying "Orders have just been received from the honored
Navvab to detain you and your commanders, which makes your departure
impossible." Guards were thereupon placed around his tent. The soldiers then
seized the fort and its defenses and killed all the companions of the
In four days time, in accordance with the instructions of the Prince
Nusratu'd-Dawlih, the executioner arrived at the camp of Mustafa-Quli
Khán and conveyed the order that Siyyid Yahyá was to be delivered
to the honored Zaynu'l-'Ábidín Khán as a ransom for the
blood of his brother and some other fallen men. So, by order of the Prince, the
Siyyid was delivered into the hand of the Khán and a receipt was
obtained. When this occurred, all the soldiers, particularly those that had
lost kinsmen, and some others, attacked the Siyyid with sticks, stones,
bayonets and guns and killed him forthwith.
The next day, they buried his remains under the southern
wall of the Shrine of Siyyid Jalalu'd-Din 'Abdu'l-llah,
known as the Siyyid, in the Bazár quarter.
This astonishing and bewildering event took place in the month of Rajab of the
year 1266 A.H.
After the capture of the Siyyid and his followers, colonel 'Alí
arrived at the camp, leading a
regiment of Silakhuri soldiers. Upon arrival, he proceeded directly to the
Chinar-Sukhtih quarter, and accompanied by the sound of music, his soldiers
plundered that the entire district. They remained in that quarter for twenty
days or perhaps a month, and ransacked the whole neighborhood and stole
whatever treasures was hidden beneath the earth or within the walls. No one
recalls such devastating pillage having occurred ever before! Had they
plundered any other major city, they could not have amassed such great wealth
and possessions! Some of the streets and neighborhoods associated with the
Bázár quarter were also pillaged.
Beyond these, by the decree of the exalted Prince Nusratu'd-Dawlih, five
thousand tumans were exacted from the citizens and given to the Khán and
whatever land, orchards, aqueducts, homes and possessions were owned by the
residents of the Bázár were confiscated with extreme brutality
and through excruciating tortures. Indeed, in this regard, what transpired in
the Bázár quarter did not come to pass in the [Chinar-Sukhtih]
Verily, such intense fear and fright had overcome this region that no tongue
can recount one in a thousand of its dark incidents. What oceans of blood were
spilled and how many bodies were reduced to the dust of the wilderness!
During these conflicts close to one thousand lives were lost on both sides.
The account of the ensuing massive pillage
remains beyond any imagination, conception or description. If there were any
men in the [Chinar-Sukhtih] quarter that were not killed, they had to take
flight to other regions and towns.
This is but a brief account of the events of Nayríz, of Siyyid
Yahyá and the followers of His Holiness the Bab. "Such is the bounty of
God, which He bestows on whom He will; and God is the Lord of the highest
After the passing of these incidents, day by day the sufferings inflicted on
the followers of this sect increased in intensity, and by way of retaliation
and revenge, the Khán carried out to the fullest extent the decree of
Gradually, after three years from the inception of this event, animosity was
renewed, which led to another strange and wondrous event. That is, one hour
after sunrise on the fifth day of Naw-Ruz of 1269 A.H.
, when Zaynu'l-'Ábidín Khán was in
public bath, Karbila'i Muhammad with his three sons and Qasim, the brick layer,
who had hidden themselves in that place, emerged and attacked his naked body,
grabbing his head and shoulders and stabbing him with knives and razors. They
cut off his arms that were as strong as any man's. Even though about fifty of
his kinsmen were present in the bath, as the Almighty God would have it, not
one of them came to his aid.
The Khán, wounded with some sixty cuts on his chest and body, was
brought from the bath still alive. Late that night, however, he left this plane
of suffering. Indeed he was a worthy, wise and distinguished man. He ruled with
prudence and was a knowledgeable statesman. There are many signs of his
generosity and goodwill evident in this town, including many buildings. His
servants put his slayers to death in that very place.
Written in the year 1270 A.H.
least of the servants, Ibrahim Nayrízi, son of Áqá Siyyid
 This mosque should not be confused with a
larger mosque by the same name in the Chinar-Sukhtih quarter that served as a
 Shu'lih [the flame] was the sobriquet of
Mírzá Muhammad-Ja'far Khán. He was a nephew of the
governor of Nayríz and engaged to the daughter of Siyyid Yahya Darabi,
 Nayriz Mukhkbiz 91-2.
 The Báb 182.
 Lam'atu'l-Anvar 1:306 n.1. The same
source indicates that the Bahá'í community was unaware of the existence of this
document as none among them was permitted entrance into this mosque, situated
in a quarter that was historically antagonistic towards the Bábís
 Nayriz Mushkbiz 92-102 and
 Abu'l-Qasim Afnán has brought to
my notice that the renowned compiler of historical documents, Dr. Iraj Afshar,
has published a picture of the original text in one of his books, but I was
unable to locate this source.
 Lit. the City of Knowledge, a title of
 A shrine for one of the companions of
Prophet Muhammad, located five miles west of Nayríz.
 Governor of Nayriz and previously a
close friend of Siyyid Yahya Darabi.
 Lam'atu'l-Anvar 1:310 has read
"revolt" as "proof of God," which most likely is a misreading.
 Lam'atu'l-Anvar 1:310 has read "older"
 Lam'atu'l-Anvar 1:310 n.1 informs that
'Alí-Asghar Khán was the governor of the surrounding
 Lam'atu'l-Anvar 1:312 n.1 indicates
that the governor was in hiding at this village of Qutriyih for these 50
 Lam'atu'l-Anvar 1:313 n.1 states that
it was Siyyid 'Abid who traitorously bartered his allegiance in promise of
favors and properties.
 It appears that in order to appease
orthodoxy, the writer has made no mention that, on the back of a Qur'án,
the opposing camp penned a promise that Siyyid Yahyá would not be
harmed, and sent this sealed assurance to the fort.
 Lam'atu'l-Anvar 1:315 n.1 states that
Vahíd was buried under the northeastern wall.
 13 May - 11 June 1850.
 Tarikh Zuhuru'l-Haqq 2:418 gives his
name as Vali Khán.
 Lam'atu'l-Anvar 1:316 n.1 indicates
that some of the affluent Bábís, such as Áqá Siyyid
Ja'far Yazdí and Hájí Muhammad-Taqi were residence of
 Hadrat-i Nuqtih Ulá 311
informs that the Nayríz upheaval was for a period of 1 month and 3 days.
TZH 3:292 tells that this event lasted 4 months.
 Qur'án 62:4
 26 March 1853.