Antichrist-Dajjal III - Babi-Baha'i Interpretations

Antichrist-Dajjal - Babi-Baha'i Inerpretations

Stephen Lambden UC Merced,

IN PROGRESS - BEING REVISED AND SUPPLEMENTED.

Last updated 06-01-2018.

Originally pivlished in the Baha'i Studies Bulletin (Newcastle upon Tyne. UK) as `Antichrist-Dajjāl : Some Notes on the Christian and Islamic Antichrist traditions and their Bahā’ī Interpretations'. VOLUME 1 No. 3 December 1982 -  Part II, p. 3f.

Interpretations of the Abrahamic, Biblical-post-biblical, Qur'anic-extra Qur'anic  and  other texts and traditions about the eschatological figure, life and personal traits of the Anti-Christ-Dajjal are numerous. They exist in Jewish, Christian Islamic and other religious texts that have been taken seriously for many centuries. In the  latter,, apocalyptic days of the end-time, a demoniac figure who is a parody of the divine Jesus Christ is expected to wreak havoc on earth and destroy or corrupt religious communities.

The Babi-Baha'i Inerpretations of the Antichrist-Dajjal Traditions

Having sketched some aspecte of the Antichrist-Dajjäl traditions in (largely) Christian and Isllamic sourcee we may now turn to their Babi-Bahä'I interpreta:tion 138 Firstly, those Biblical texts that relate to the Antichrist tradition may be conunented upon along with a few notes on the figures thought to be referred to in them and who are believed by Bahä tis to be manifestations of the Antichrist idea.

Mirza Yahya Nuri (c. 1830-1912 CE) and Sayyid Muhammad Isfahani (d. 1872), the `Son of Perdition' and the Antichrist.

Mirza Yahya Nuri (d. 1912)

!!Irzä Yahyä who was entitled Per. Subh -i Azal (`The morn of eternity', c.1830-1912) was one of the half-brothers of the foundsr of the Bahä'i religion, M!rzä Hueayn `AlI Nuri Bahä'-Alläh. The sen of one of the concubines of Mirzä Buzurg-i NiirI ( d .1839) he was only 13-14 years old when Siyyid `Al.I Muhammad the Biib 'declared his mission' in Shiraz (Iran ) in 1844.A.D.He,like his half-brother Bahä'-Alläh, became a BäbI ( follower of the Biib) and, though not one of the `Letters of the Living' (Huruf al-Hayy ) or prominent disciples of the Bäb,was generally recognieed as being the nominal head of the BäbI community after the execution of the Bllb in Tabriz in July 1850.His lsadersbip of the BäbI comrnunity proved to be largely ineffective for,on receipt of the news of his master's martyrdom he,at least in Baha'i sources, is said to have fled in disguies from Tihran to Mazandarän and to have remained for several years in a state of marked dissimulation. 139 . Assuming various names and disguises he eventually joined Bahä'-Alläh and his close companione at Kirmanshah in 1853 journeying with them to Badl!dad 140 where they had been exiled after the Baha'i attempt on the life of the Shäh in 1852. Sbortly after his arrival in Bagdäd, Mirza Yahyä assumed the name Hajji `Ali-yi Läsh-Furiish (implying that he was a silk dealer) and forged links with Sayyid Muhammad Ishahäni (d. 1872), a BiibI then resident in Karbilä.141  Sayyid Muhammad is represented in Baha'i sources as being, even at this early stage, antagonistic towards Bahä'-Alläh. He is represented as an evil schemsr who fanned Mirzä Yahyä's jealousy of his half-brother's growing prestige.142 While Mirza Yahyä as head of the BäbI community apparently elevated Siyyid Muhamnad to the rank of  `First Witness of the Bayan' (BäbI movement), Bahä'-Alläh, as we sball see, later excomunicated him (sometime betwesn 1863 and 1866) .For Bahä'is Sayyid Muhammad has come to be regaräd as one of the most notorious manifestations of the Antichrist idea.

Due in large measure to ths dissension and corruption within the Bäbi community in Baghdad and elsewhere in the early 1850s, Bahä'-Alläh decided to withdraw to Kurdistan, initially contemplating no return:

In the early days of our arrival in this land( Iräq) when We diecerned the signs of impending events,We decided,ere they happened,to retiren We betook Oureelves to the wilderness,and there,separated and alone,led for two years a life of complete solitude .. By the righteousnees of God1 Our withdrawal contemplated no return,and our eeparation hoped for no reunion.• 143.

During Bahä'-Alläh's absence from Baghdad (1854-1856), Mirzä Yahya failed to exercise an effective or charismatic leadership. That this was so may perhaps be highlighted by the fact that some 25 prominent Bäbis, including Mullä Muhammad ZarandI (d.c.1892) the Baha'i poet and historian, claimed to be divine incarnations or aspired to a special leadership role. 144. The erudite Mirzä Assad Alläh of Khoiy, named Dayyän by the Bab, is in certain sources, said to have made such a claim and to have written a treatise in support of it which he had presented to Mirzä Yahyä. The latter, whose ability to answer doctrinal questions had for some proven to be inadequate, wrote in response a work entitled Mustayqiz (Sleeper Awakened) in which Dayyän was denounced in the strongest terms. Then, shortly after Bahä'-Alläh's return from Baghdäd at the bidding of the "Mystic Source", Mirza Yahyä had Dayyan executed by his servant Mirzä Muhammad MazandaränI. Again, around the same time, Mirzä Yahyä. is said in Bahä'I sources, to have been the instigator of the murder of an amanuensis of the Bäb named Mirzä `Ali Akbar and to have prompted Mirzä Äqä Jan to make (another) attempt on the life of the Shäh. 145. He is thus pictured in Baha'i sources as an immoral murderer or one whose main concern was to consolidate hie position in the Bäbi hierachy- a position he was to occupy in order to divert hostile attention away from Bahä'u'lläh.   

    During hie stay in Isfahan in 1846-7 the Bäb, took a second wife by the name of Fätima, ths sister of Mullä Rajab `Ali, .He forbade marriage to either of his wives after his passing..Mirzä Yahyä, however, married the Bäbt's eecond wife in about 1853 and gave her a very short time later to his accomplice Siyyid Muhammad Isfahani. These forbidden marriages are regarded by Bahä'Is as the abominable acts of two mert who were eatanic in character.Such deeds are catalogued in detail in a good many of the writings of Bahä•u 'lläh and his followere in which the evils of Ml:rzä Yahyä 146   and Siyyid Muhammad are expossd.  Having returned to Baghdäd in March 1846 Bahä'-Alläh eet about attempting to spiritually regsnerate the confused and decadent Bäbi cormnunity .He wrote, as he had done since 1853 when he had a mystical experience in Tihran,sometimes lengt.hy "tablets (alwäh ) containing thinly veiled epiphanic claims.Many prominent Bäbis were attracted to him until in late April 1863 on the outskirts of Baghdäd on route to Constantinople where he and other Bäbl:e had been exiled, he claimed the spscific allegiancs of a small group of his close companions- exactly what hie claims were at this stage ie not entirely clear though it ie likely that he claimed to be the expected 'Him whom God would make manifest •( Man Yuzhiru-hu Alläh) mentioned in the Bäbts Persian Bayän and elsewhere.Mirza Yahya, who wq not have been in Be,J!ll.däd when Bahä•u•lläh made his claims slightly more sxplicit to his admirers, joined his hal.f brotber at Mosul and,llke Siyyid Muhammad,journeyed with him to the Sublime Porte.At this time or in 1863 and for another three years or so,Bahå'u'llih's claims do not appear to have been widely known or understood by the majority of Bäbis. Though there was widespread disIDusionment with Ml:rzä Yahyäileactership it was not it seems until 1866 tbat it became widely known that Bahä•u•lliih had condemned his half-brother and claimed to be
Man Yuzhiru-huAlläh. Onl.y later did Mirzä Yahyä and Siyyid Muhammad come to be fully recognieed by the Bahä'Is as the Yajuj {Gog) and Mäjuj 1 {Magog),  the twin evil menifestatione of the emergent Bahä  religion 147

In 1863 Baha'A'lläh and hie companions were again exiled to Adrianeple where they remained for almost 5 years and where the intriguee of Mirza Yahyä and Siyyid Muhammad came to assume critical proportions.Bahä•I sources maintain that  during the early Adrianopls period (1863-1868) Mirza Yahyä made several attempts to peison or have Bahätutlläh killed.As Bahä'u'lläh•s cbarismatic leadership and claims became more and more explicit hie balf-brothere dwindling prestige appears to have led him. to adopt deeperate measures in order to reassert. hie authority.
In hie Siirat al-Aheäb (c.1864-5) Bahä'-Allih represents himself as the one whose coming was predicted in both the Qur•än and the writings of the Bäb.Such claims were epecifically communicsted to Mirzil. Ya.hyä and Siyyid Muhammad in a letter of Bahll'u'lläh known as the Surat al-Amr (c.1865).They were rejected and Bahii•u•lläh withdrew to the bouse of Ridä Big where he remained completely cut off for several months (about March-Ma;y 1866).The goocl!of what became tbe Bahii•I and AzalI factions were separatsd during a period referred to by Bahä 'u tlläh as the 1'most great eeparation" which took place during the `days of strees" (ayyam al-shidiid).149

The Selimiyya Mosque, Edirne

Bahii 'u 'lliih,in most of his major lstters ("tablsts") written after the "most great separation"{l866) makea e:iq>l.icit reference to the corruption and ungodliness of Mirzii Yahyii and the " detest<.ble Siyyid {Muhammad) 150,.A veritahle intorior "battle of Armageddon'' ensued as may be gathered from a perusal of Bahå'u 'llåh's lengthy apologia the Kitiib-i Ba!!I0 ( c.1867) and his Lawh-i Siriij (c.1867). 150  A little more than a year a.f'ter emerging from his self-impoeed "occultationn in the house of Ridä Big Siyyid Muhammad and a certain Mlr Muhammad-i Mukiir! ( who frequented both the AzalI and Bahä'I camps ) arranged a confrontation (mubähila) bstween Baha'-Alliih and Mirza Yaahya..The latter,. however.. failed to appear at the mosque of Sultan Selim at the appointed hour (around August-Ssptember 1867) being thue discredited in the estimation of many.This episode ie referred to by Bahä'u'lläh in a number of bie writings, most notably ( as its title suggests) a lstter addressed to Mullä Siidiq-i ~iisiiiI lmown as ths Lawh-i Mub'ähila. 151.

Instead of confronbing his half-brother whose ascendancy wae by 1867 beooming more and more obviouod,. Mirza Yatya sent:  petitions to high ranking officials in Edirne (Adrianople) and elsowhere. with  the intention or disorediting him. He apparently accueed Bahä'-Alllah ot approprlating his governwmt allowance to the extent that his ( now separate ) family on the vrge of starvation, Such repressn:bo;l;ions along with those of Si;\ryid ~ and Iqä Jin Big-i !l!!amsi•I an AzalI "" Tmilsh artillery officer and the marked hoetility of H. aji Mirzl l.!u aayn Khan( the Persian   •sdor at Conetsn:binople)suoceeded in evol<ing from Sulton °Abd aJ.-liI• :ret snother decreee of bonishmen:b.In lll68 Bahä•u•llih and his companions ...,,.. exiled to cA kka in ottoman Syrie and Mirza Yahy-a and others were, sont to Cyprus .

The banishment ot Bahä'-Alläh and Mirzä Yallya to separate placee did not put a etop to the Bahä'i- Azal3' conbroversy.  A number of Azalis, including Siyyid l!uhammsd and Äqa Jan Beg  were exiled to `Akkä with Baba'-Alllah and the Baha'is  whilea few of the Baha'is - among them the famous  Baha'i oalligrapher Mishkim Qalam acoompanied Yahyi and hi• family to Cyprus. Some two and a half years after theirarrival the Aklca exilee were released trom etriat confinemen:b inasmuch ae the oitadel of 0Akkii was taken over for military purposes in 1870, The Azalls begon feeding malioi011s rsports to their oaptors and tensions etarted to e:rrupt.Bähi'u- lliih attempted to reetrain hie followers but did not sueoeed in prevonting abOllt 7 of them banding together and l!ltll'Ciering at loast threo Ailalie.Siyyid Muhammad Äql! Jin Big and a brather-in-law of Mirzå Ya.tc yi named Ml'.roä Rid.& -QuJ.iy-i TafriJ!!I """" slaughtered in J""""'7 1872. This episode not only endangered Ba.'lä•u •llih 's life snd stained the onnaJ.e ot Babä •I hietor:r but oerved to inorease tilat Bahi •IAzalI oontroversy Wioh, though th• Äzalie are prsot1""'1ly non-existent, contim>es to present day. 152

 

 

 

 

APPENDIX i

Mirza Yahya Nuri (c. 1830-1912 CE) as the Satanic Antichrist in the `Tablet of the Interrogation' of Baha'-Allah.

Mirza Yahya Nuri (d. 1912).

Also of interest in this connection is a passage cited within Tablet of Baha'-Allah ‑ Khadim‑Allāh known as the Lawḥ‑i isṭintāq  (Tablet of the Interrogation,  late 1880s?; Má'idih, 4: 220‑261) which appears to be an Arabic translation of a Greek text within the `Apocalypse of Elijah cycle' It contains a physiognomic dexcription of the Islamic anti‑Christ, the Dajjāl who is identified as Baha'-A'llah's half‑brother  Mīrzā Yaḥyā Nūrī  Baha'-Allah dwells on the fact that "all the Holy books" of the past evidence the inability of effective opposition to the Manifestation of God. He then states that  "a while ago, one of the friends who belonged to a different community (milād‑i mukhtalifih)  [Greek Orthodox?] raised an issue and put forth two passages (riwayat)  contained in "ancient books" (kutub‑i qadīmih)  which had been translated from Greek into Arabic. This may indicate  a Greek recension of a text within the complex Judaeo‑Christian `Apocalypse of Elijah cycle' (cf.    ) in Arabic translation. The text cited has it that al‑shayṭān  ("Satan") will be manifested in the isle of Qāf  (jazīrat al‑qāf)  and  withold the people from [identifying with]  God, the All‑Merciful (al‑raḥmān). The central physiognomic passage relating to this Satanic figure is as follows. He is characterized by being,

  • [1] short of stature (qaṣ īr al‑qāmat);
  • [2] thick [bushy] of beard (kath īr al‑liḥayah);
  • [3] narrow of forehead and breast (Þayyiq al‑jabḥat wa'l‑®adr);
  • [4] yellow of eye and hair (a®far al‑`ayn wa'l‑sha`ar);
  • [5] On his back (li‑zahrihi) is [abundant] hair [`fur', `wool'] (wab[a]r)  like [that of] wild goats (reading, ka‑l‑ayá'il ?). 1
  •  [6] And on his breast (®adr) is reddish‑[brown] hair (sha`ar ka'l‑maghar).

These Arabic lines express a physiognomic depiction a Dajjāl‑like figure. This aberrant  physiognomic depiction of  "Satan", the Dajjāl (Syr. `Deceiver’, the Muslim Antichrist)  is cited and interpreted from an Arabic rendering  of an ancient Greek text applied to  Mīrzā Yaḥyā Nurī (c. 1830‑1914)2 a half‑brother of Baha'-Allah who became his bitter enemey through the goading of a certain Sayyid Muhammad I®fahān ī (d. 1873?). In his Persian paraphrase of this text  Baha'-Allah identifies "Qáf" with Cyprus (qubrus) which is known among the Turks as an evil, isle of Satan.  The Greek‑Arabic prophecy continues to state that people should consequently orient themselves towards "the Holy Land" (ard‑ i muqaddas) which is the `Seat of the [Divine] Throne' (maqqar al‑`arsh) from whence will waft the Breeze of God (nasmat Allāh).  This ancient Greek prophecy also predicts that "The Serpent (al‑ḥubāb = "a name of Satan") will be manifested in the Isle which is associated with him" undestood as Cyprus, the "Island of Satan" (jazírih‑yi shayṭān); there Mīrā Yaḥyā had lived in exile for many years (between 1868‑1914).  A Dajjálesque physiognomic description of his "satanic" being is given in the prophecy.

Bahá’u’lláh further comments that to the clear sighted these lines describe Mīrzā  Yaḥyā When this "Satan" appears an escape to Carmel, to the Haifa‑Akká region, is recommended even if it be in very difficult circumstances. Such indeed is the predicted "Holy Vale (al‑wādi al‑muqaddas),  the "Land of the [Eschatological] Gathering" (for the final Judgement; ard  li‑mashar) and the "Snow‑White Spot" (buq`at al‑baydá'). 3


1 The translation  ‑‑ "like a wild goats" or "stag"  (ka‑l‑ayyil or ka‑l‑ayá'il )  ‑‑ is somewhat uncertain. It presupposes that the printed  text is corrupt and that the (dots of a) letter yá' have been omitted. Thus   ayá'il  (pl.) = "stags" (wild goats) ‑‑ plural of ayyil/iyyal/uyyal = "wild goat", "stag"  (see Wehr, 45; Steingass, 131).

2 One might have expected Shoghi Effendi to have labelled Mīrzā Yaḥyā  the supreme incarnation of the "Antichrist" rather than Sayyid Muhammad,  especially since M īrzā Yaḥyā is said to have disguised himself as a Jew (refer, GPB:165), claimed identify with God (ibid., 165 but cf. II. Thess 2:1ff) where the "Son of Perdition" [= Yaḥyā] claims Divinity) and worked  mischief "right and left" (loosely speaking) - between Syria and Iraq. His position as nominee of the Bāb and his close relationship with BA* perhaps saved him from this notoreity, though here (see below) BA* himself all but identifies  him with the Dajjál.

 3 Bahā’ īs recognize a number of Antichrist‑Dajjál figures. The basic teaching is summed up by Shoghi Effendi as follows: "We [Bahá’ís] do not believe in Anti‑Christ in the sense the Christians do. Anyone who vehemently and determinidly sought to oppose the Manifestation [of God] could be called an "anti‑Christ", such as the Vazír in the Bab’s days, Hájí  Mírzá Aqásí." (Cited, High Endeavours, 69 No. 85).

Additional Note

Also of interest in this connection is a passage cited within Tablet of Baha'-Allah ‑ Khadim‑Allāh known as the Lawḥ‑i isṭintāq (Tablet of the Interrogation, late 1880s?; Má'idih, 4: 220‑261) which appears to be an Arabic translation of a Greek text within the `Apocalypse of Elijah cycle' It contains a physiognomic dexcription of the Islamic anti‑Christ, the Dajjāl who is identified as BA*’S half‑brother Mīrzā Yaḥyā Nūrī Baha'-Allah dwells on the fact that "all the Holy books" of the past evidence the inability of effective opposition to the Manifestation of God. He then states that "a while ago, one of the friends who belonged to a different community (milād‑i mukhtalifih) [Greek Orthodox?] raised an issue and put forth two passages riwayat) contained in "ancient books" (kutub‑i qadīmih) which had been translated from Greek into Arabic.

Possibly related to a Greek recension of a text within the complex Judaeo‑Christian `Apocalypse of Elijah cycle' (cf. ) in Arabic translation the text cited has it that al‑shayṭān ("Satan") will be manifested in the isle of Qāf ( jazīrat al‑qāf) and withold the people from [identifying with] the God (the All‑Merciful, al‑raḥmān). The central physiognomic passage is as follows:

  • [1] short of stature (qaṣ īr al‑qāmat);
  • [2] thick [bushy] of beard (kath īr al‑liḥayah);
  • [3] narrow of forehead and breast (Þayyiq al‑jabḥat wa'l‑®adr);
  • [4] yellow of eye and hair (a®far al‑`ayn wa'l‑sha`ar);
  • [5] On his back (li‑zahrihi) is [abundant] hair (`fur', `wool' wab[a]r) like [that of] wild goats (reading, ka‑l‑ayá'il ?). 1
  • [6] And on his breast (®adr) is reddish‑[brown] hair (sha`ar ka'l‑maghar).

These Arabic lines express a physiognomic depiction a Dajjāl‑like figure. This aberrant physiognomic depiction of "Satan", the Dajjāl (Syr. `Deceiver’, the Muslim Antichrist) is cited and interpreted from an Arabic rendering of an ancient Greek text applied to M īrzā Yaḥyā Nurī (c. 1830‑1914)2 a half‑brother of Baha'-Allah who became his bitter enemey through the goading of a certain Sayyid Muhammad I®fahān ī (d. 1873?). In his Persian paraphrase of this text Baha'-Allah identifies "Qáf" with Cyprus (qubrus) which is known among the Turks as an evil, isle of Satan. The Greek‑Arabic prophecy continues to state that people should consequently orient themselves towards "the Holy Land" (arÞ‑ i muqaddas) which is the `Seat of the [Divine] Throne' (maqqar al‑`arsh) from whence will waft the Breeze of God (nasmat Allāh). This ancient Greek prophecy also predicts that "The Serpent (al‑ḥubāb = "a name of Satan") will be manifested in the Isle which is associated with him" undestood as Cyprus, the "Island of Satan" (jazírih‑yi shayṭān); there Mīrā Yaḥyā had lived in exile for many years (between 1868‑1914). A Dajjálesque physiognomic description of his "satanic" being is given in the prophecy.

Bahá’u’lláh further comments that to the clear sighted these lines describe Mīrzā Yaḥyā When this "Satan" appears an escape to Carmel, to the Haifa‑Akká region, is recommended even if it be in very difficult circumstances. Such indeed is the predicted "Holy Vale (al‑wādi al‑muqaddas), the "Land of the [Eschatological] Gathering" (for the final Judgement; ard li‑mashar) and the "Snow‑White Spot" (buq`at al‑baydá'). 3

 

 

HERE

 

1 The translation ‑‑ "like a wild goats" or "stag" (ka‑l‑ayyil or ka‑l‑ayá'il ) ‑‑ is somewhat uncertain. It presupposes that the printed text is corrupt and that the (dots of a) letter yá' have been omitted. Thus ayá'il (pl.) = "stags" (wild goats) ‑‑ plural of ayyil/iyyal/uyyal = "wild goat", "stag" (see Wehr, 45; Steingass, 131).

2 One might have expected Shoghi Effendi to have labelled Mīrzā Yaḥyā the supreme incarnation of the "Antichrist" rather than Sayyid Muhammad, especially since M īrzā Yaḥyā is said to have disguised himself as a Jew (refer, GPB:165), claimed identify with God (ibid., 165 but cf. II. Thess 2:1ff) where the "Son of Perdition" [= Yaḥyā] claims Divinity) and worked mischief "right and left" (loosely speaking) - between Syria and Iraq. His position as nominee of the Bāb and his close relationship with BA* perhaps saved him from this notoreity, though here (see below) BA* himself all but identifies him with the Dajjál.

3 Bahā’ īs recognize a number of Antichrist‑Dajjál figures. The basic teaching is summed up by Shoghi Effendi as follows: "We [Bahá’ís] do not believe in Anti‑Christ in the sense the Christians do. Anyone who vehemently and determinidly sought to oppose the Manifestation [of God] could be called an "anti‑Christ", such as the Vazír in the Bab’s days, Hájí Mírzá Aqásí." (Cited, High Endeavours, 69 No. 85).

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