Antichrist-Dajjal III - Babi-Baha'i Interpretations

ἀντίχριστος

Antichrist-Dajjal - Babi-Baha'i Inerpretations

Stephen Lambden UC Merced,

IN PROGRESS - BEING REVISED AND SUPPLEMENTED.

Last updated 30-03-2018.

This article was originally published in the Baha'i Studies Bulletin (ed. Lambden, 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.

Mīrzā Yaḥyā Nūrī  (c. 1830-1912 CE) and Sayyid Muhammad Isfahani (d. 1872).

Mīrzā Yaḥyā Nūrī  (d. 1912)

Mīrzā Yaḥyā and Sayyid Muhammad Isfahani : the "Son of Perdition", the Dajjāl and the Antichrist as the central figures of the Baha'i religion came to view them.

Mīzrā Yaḥyā who was entitled Subh‑i Azal ("The Morn of Eternity" c.1830-­1912) was one of the half‑brothers of the founder of the Bahāi movement, Mīrzā Ḥusayn `Alī Bahā'u'llāh. The son of one of the concubines of Mīrzā Buzurg‑i Nūrī (d. 1839) he was only 13‑14 years old when Siyyid `Alī Muhammad the Bāb `declared his mission' in Shiraz (Iran) in 1844 CE. He, like his half‑brother Bahā'u'llāh, became a Bābī (follower of the Bāb) and, though not one of the `Letters of the Living' (Ḥurūf‑i ḥayy) or prominent disciples of the Bāb, was generally recognised as being the nominal head of the Bābī community after the execution of the Bāb in Tabriz in July 1850. His leadership of the Bābī community proved to be largely ineffective for, on receipt of the news of his master's martyrdom, at least in Bahā’ī sources, is said to have fled in disguise from Tehran to Māzandarān and to have remained for several years in a state of marked dissimulation (fn. 139 = Refer, for example, `Abdu'l‑Bahā in Trav. Narr. : 51ff; Shoghi Effendi, GPB:114ff; Balyuzi,1970:3ff; idem, 1980:107ff; Taherzadeh, RB I:53ff; Miller, 1974:70ff.). Assuming various names and disguises he eventually joined Bahā'u'llāh and his close companions at Kirmānshāh in 1853 journeying with them to Baghdad where they had been exiled after the Bābi attempt on the life of the Shāh in 1852 (fn 140 = GPB:114).

Shortly after his arrival in Baghdād Mīrzā Yaḥyā assumed the name Hajj `Alī-yi Lāsh-Furūsh (implying that he was a silk dealer) and forged links with Siyyid Muhammad Isfahānī (d.1872) a Bābi  then resident in Karbalā (Balyuzi, 1970:3; idem 1980:107; GPB:112ff). Siyyid Muhammad is represented in Bahā’ī sources as being, even at this early stage, antagonistic towards Bahā'u'llāh. He is represented as an evil schemer who fanned Mīrzā Yaḥyā's jealousy of his half‑brother's growing prestige. (Taherzadeh, RB.II:152ff).  While Mīrzā Yaḥyā as head of the Bābī community apparently elevated Siyyid Muhammad to the rank of `First Witness of the Bayān' (Bābī movement) Bahā'u'llāh, as we shall see, later excommunicated him (sometime between 1863 and 1866). For Bahā'īs Siyyid Muhammad has come to be regarded as one of the most notorious manifestations of the Antichrist idea.

Due in large measure to the dissension and corruption within the Bābī  community in Baghdād and elsewhere in the early 1850's, Bahā'u'llāh decided to withdraw to Kurdistan, initially contemplating no return:

"In the early days of our arrival in this land (Irāq) when We discerned the signs of impending events, We decided, ere they happened, to retire. We betook Ourselves to the wilderness, and there, separated and alone, led for two years a life of complete solitude.. By the righteousness of God! Our withdrawal contemplated no return, and our separation hoped for no reunion." (KI:XX/160;  fn.143 = see also Bahā'u'llāh's Lawḥ-i Maryam, a Tablet to his aunt of the  Akkā' period  (refer Ganj:184) parts of which are translated in Browne 1918 [1961]:8, and in Shoghi Effendi's GPB:120.)

During Bahā'u'llāh's absence from Baghdad (1854‑1856) Mīrzā Yaḥyā failed to exercise an effective or charismatic leadership. That this was so may perhaps be highlighted by the fact that some twenty-five prominent Bābīs, including Mullā Muh

ammad Nabīl-i Zarandī (d.1892) the Bahā’ī poet and historian, claimed to be divine incarnations or aspired to special leadership. (cf. GPB:125; Balyuzi, 1970:43; 1980:120ff). The erudite Mīrzā Assad Allāh of Khūy entitled named Dayyān ("Judge") by the Bāb 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 Mīrzā Yaḥyā. The latter, whose ability to answer doctrinal questions had for some proven to be inadequate, wrote in response a work entitled Mustayqi ("Sleeper Awakened") in which Dayyān was denounced in the strongest terms. Then, shortly after Bahā'u'llāh's return from Baghdād at the bidding of the "Mystic Source", Mirza Yaḥyā had Dayyān executed by his servant Mīrzā Muhammad Mazandarānī. Again, around the same time, Mirza Yaḥyā is said in Bahā’ī sources to have been the instigator of the murder of a cousin of the Bāb named Mīrzā `Alī Akbar and to have prompted Mīrzā Āqā Jān to make (another) attempt on the life of the Shāh (Refer, for example, Bahā'u'llāh, Lawh‑i Sarrāj (c.1867) in Mā'idih VII:61ff; the Azali work Hasht Bihisht ("The Eight Paradises") trans.(in part) in TN:357  -- on this work rrefer, Balyuzi, 1970:18ff); Balyuzi, 1970:43f; idem 1980:124; Taherzadeh, RB.II:250ff. While Balyuzi (1970:43. cf.1980:124) and other Bahā’ī writers, it may be noted here, imply that Dayyān made an exalted claim for himself, Taherzadeh (RB I: 250) states that Bahā'u'llāh in his Kitāb‑i Badi` ( c.1867) teaches that Dayyān merely circulated some prayers which he had written (without making any exalted claim) the perusal of which made Mizrā Yahyā jealous such that he determined to have him killed. On other assasination plots attributed to Mīrzā Yahyā refer, for example, Shoghi Effendi, GPB:124f. Mīrzā Yaḥyā Nūrī  thus came to be pictured in Bahā’ī sources as an immoral murderer or one whose main concern was to consolidate his position in the Bābī hierarchy ‑ a position he was to occupy in order to divert hostile attention away from Bahā'u'llāh.

During his stay in Isfahan in 1846‑7, the Bāb took a second wife by the name of Fāṭimah, the sister of Mullā Rajab `Alī. He forbade marriage to either of his wives after his passing. Mīrzā Yaḥyā however, married the Bāb's second wife in about 1853 and gave her a very short time later to his accomplice Siyyid Muhammad. These forbidden marriages are regarded by Bahā'īs as the abominable acts of two men who were satanic in character. Such deeds are catalogued in detail in a good many of the writings of Bahā'u'llāh and his followers in which the evils of Mīrzā Yaḥyā and Sayyid Muhammad are exposed,

Having returned to Bagdād in March 1846 Bahā'u'llāh set about attempting to spiritually regenerate the confused and decadent Bābī  community. He wrote, as he had done since 1853 when he had a mystical experience in Tihran, sometimes lengthy "tablets" (alwāh) contaning thinly veiled theophanic claims. Many prominent  Bābī s were attracted to him until in late April 1863 on the outskirts of Bagdād on route to Constantinople where he and other Bābī s had been exiled, he claimed the specific allegiance of a smaIl group of his close companions.

In the Bāb's Persian Bayān and elsewhere.  Mīrzā Yaḥyā Nūrī , who may not have been in Baghdād when Bahā'u'llāh made his claims slightly more explicit to his admirers, joined his half-brother at Mosul and, like Siyyid Muhammad, journeyed with him to the Sublime Porte. At this time or in 1863 and for another three years or so, Bahā'u'llāh's claims do not appear to have been widely known or understood by the majority of Bābīs. Though there was widespread disillusionment with Mīrzā Yaḥyā's leadership it was not it seems until 1866 that it became widely known that Bahā'u'llāh had condemned his half-brother and claimed to be man Yuzhiru-hu Allāh.  Only later did Mīrzā Yaḥyā and Siyyid Muhammad come to be viewed by the Bahā'īs as the Yājūj (Gog) and Mājūj (Magog) or the twin evil manifestations of the emergent Babi-Bahā’ī phenomenon (Refer, Bahāu'llah, Lawh-i Zayn al-Muqarribin cited in Mā'idih IV:99.). In his Lawh‑i ibn‑i dhi'b (c.1890 = "Epistle to the Son of the Wolf"), Bahā’u'llāh writes, "Wherever this Wronged One went Mīrza Yaḥyā followed him... The Siyyid of Isfahān… surreptitiously duped him. They committed that which caused the greatest consternation" (168). Bahā’ī sources maintain that Mīrzā Yaḥyā and Sayyid Muhammad followed Bahā`u'llāh (despite their enmity) in order to have the benefit of his protective charismatic leadership.

In 1863 Bahā'u'llāh and his companions were again exiled to Adrianople where they remained for almost 5 years and where the intrigues of Mīrzā Yaḥyā and Siyyid Mu

hammad came to assume critical proportions. Bahā’ī sources maintain that during the early Adrianople period (1863-1868) Mīrzā Yaḥyā made several attempts to poison or have Bahā'u'llāh killed. As Bahā'u'llāh's charismatic leadership and claims became more and more explicit his half-brothers dwindling prestige appears to have led him to adopt desperate measures in order to reassert his authority.  In his Sūrat al-Aḥṣāb  (c.1864-5) Bahā'u'llāh represents himself as the one whose coming was predicted in both the Qur'ān and the writings of the Bāb (The text of Bahā'u'llāh's Sūrat al-Aḥṣāb is printed in AQA 4:1‑22. On it see Taherzadeh, RB.II:65ff.). Such claims were specifically communicated to Mīrzā Yaḥyā and Siyyid Muhammad in a letter of Bahā'u'llāh known as the Sūrat al-amr  (c.1865). The Surat al-amr is contained in, Alvāh‑i Bahā`u'llāh.. (Bombay 1308/1892‑3), 242‑245. (cf. Ishrāq Khavari, Ganj: 73‑4, where the date given here is 1864 CE. possibly a year or so too early), See also Taherzadeh RB II:l6l-2, Shoghi Efrendi, trans. Gleanings.. 130‑2; "Mirza Jawad's Historical Epitome"  trans. in Browne, Materials, 21 (here also the  Sūrat al- amr is dated 1280/1863‑4).

These claims were categorically rejected and Bahā'u'llāh withdrew to the house of Ridā Big where he remained completely cut off for several months (about March-May 1866).  The goods of what became the Bahā’ī and Azalī factions were separated during a period referred to by Bahā'u'llāh as the "most great separation" which took place during the "days of stress" (ayyām al-shidād). On these events refer, for example, Bahā`u'llah, Lawḥ al‑rūḥ ("Tablet of the Spirit") apparently written during his withdrawel in the House of Riḍā Big around March‑May 1866) printed in AQA 4:l23‑154. cf. Ishraq Khavarī, Ganj:85ff, Taherzadeh, RB.II:181ff., also Balyuzi, 1980:217ff, Taherzadeh, RB.II:162‑170.

The Selimiyya Mosque, Edirne

Bahā'u'llāh, in most of his major letters ("tablets") written after the "most great separation" (1866) makes explicit reference to the corruption and ungodliness of Mīrzā Yaḥyā and the "detestable Siyyid (Muhammad)" (fn. 150). A veritable interior "battle of Armageddon" ensued as may be gathered from a perusal of Bahā'u'llāh's lengthy apologia the Kitāb-i Badī` (c.1867) and his Lawh-i Sarrāj (c.1867).  fn.151

 

  Fn. 151 I use the phrase "Battle of Armageddon" (See Rev 16:16. cf.19:17ff, 20:7f) since  `Abdu'l‑Bahā'  according to one unpublished "Pilgrim Note" has associated Armageddon  with Roumelia and Macedonia probably having in mind Bahā'u'llāh's spiritual battle with Mirza Yayā and the Azalis in Adrianople (though there are other interpretations of Rev 16:16 which cannot be discu­ssed in detail here). Bahā'u'llāh's  Lawh‑i Sarrāj, a lengthy letter addressed to `AlīMuammad Sarrāj of Ifahān in c.l867, replies to a number of questions (among other things) about the status of Mīrzā Yahyā. Despite his receipt of this letter `AlīMuammad (a Bābi who was the brother of the Bāb's second wife whom both Mīrzā Yahyā and Sayyid Muhammad had married) remained an Azali‑Bābī  like his brother Mullā Rajab `Ali. The text is printed in Mā'idih  7:XX-XX.

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A little more than a year after emerging from his self-imposed "occultation" in the house of Ridā Big Siyyid Muhammad and a certain Mir Muhammad-i Mukārā (who frequented both the Azalā and Bahā’ī camps) arranged a confrontation  (mubāhala)  between Bahā'u'llāh and Mīrzā Yaḥyā.  The latter however, failed to appear at the mosque of Sultan Selim at the appointed hour (around August-September 1867) being thus discredited in the estimation of many. This episode is referred to by Bahā'u'llāh in a number of his writings, most notable (as its title suggests) a letter addressed to Mullā Sādiq-i Khurāsānī known as the Lawḥ-i Mubāhala (fn. see Bahā'u'llāh, Lawh-i Mubāhila in Mā'idah, IV:277-81. cf also Shoghi Effendi, GPB:168f; Taherzadeh RB II:291ff..
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Instead of confronting his half‑brother whose ascendancy was by 1867 becoming more and more obvious Mīrzā Yayā sent petitions to high ranking officials in Adrianople and elsewhere with  the intention of discrediting him. He apparently accused Bahā'u'llāh of appropriating his government allowance to the extent that his (now separate) family were on the verge of starvation. Such representations along with those of Siyyid Muammad and āqā Jān Big‑i Kamsā'i an Azalā ex-Turkish artillery officer and the marked hostility of Haji Mīrzā Husayn Khan (the Persian ambassador at Constantinople) succeeded in evoking from Sultan `Abd al‑Azāz yet another decree of banishment. In 1868 Bahā'u'llāh and his companions were exiled to `Akka in Ottoman Syria and Mīrzā Yaḥyā and others were sent to Cyprus.

The banishment of Bahā'u'llāh and Mīrzā Yaḥyā to separate places did not put a stop to the Bahā'ā‑ Azalā controversy. A number of Azalās, including Siyyid Muammad and `Akkā Jan Big, were exiled to `Akkā with Bahā'u'llāh and the Bahā'ās just as a few Bahā'ās, among them the famous Bahā’ī calligrapher Miskān Qalam, accompanied Yaḥyā and his family to Cyprus. Some who and a half years after their arrival the `Akkā  exiles were released from strict confinement inasmuch as the citadel of `Akkā was taken over for military purpose in 1870. The Azalās began feeding malicious reports to their captors and tendons started to errupt. Bahā'u'llāh attempted to restrain his followers but did not succeed in preventing about seven of them banding together and murdering at least three Azalās. Sayyid Muhammad Āqā Jān Beg and a brother‑in-law of Mīrzā Yaḥyā named Mīrzā Ridā Quli-yi Tafrishī were slaughtered in January 1872. This episode not only endangered Bahā'u'llāh's life and stained the annals of Bahā’ī history but served to increase that Bahā'i-Azali controversy which, though the Azalis are practicaIly non‑existent, continues to the present day. 

Fn =  On the episode of the Bahā’ī murder of Azalis in `Akkā'  refer, for example, to Browne, 1889:517.,idem., 1889:995‑6., idem.,TN. Note W [7] 370f., idem., Materials.. 55ff (= "Mīrzā Jawad's Historical Epitome" in which the exact date of the murder of Siyyid Muammad is given; 12th Dhā'l‑Qa'da 1288 = 22nd January 1872); Balyuzi, 1970:34‑6, idem, 1980:322ff; idem., 1971:35‑6., Shoghi Effendi, GPB:189‑191; Momen, 1981:212ff.

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Mīrzā Yahyā remained in Cyprus until his death in 1912. Though he had written a great deal and appointed an Azalī hierarchy and successor, his support had dwindled to such an extent that he was buried according to the Muslim rite. Shortly before his own passing, Bahā'u'llāh in his Lawh‑i ibn-i Dhi'b  ( c.1890‑1) bemoaned the actions of his half‑brother in the following terms:

"Alas, alas, for the things that have befallen Me! By God! There befell Me at the hands of him whom I nurtured (Mīrzā Yaḥyā), by day and by night, what hath caused the Holy Spirit, and the dwellers of the Tabernacle of the Granduer of God, the Lord of this wonderous Day, to lament." (ESW   /157).

Bahā'u'llāh claimed to be the return of Christ in many of his writings composod during the Adrianople (1863-8) and `Akkā' (1868‑1892) periods of his ministry. On the other hand Mīrzā Yahyā and Siyyid Muammad came to be seen by Bahā'ās as manifestations of the Antichrist idea whose appearance was predicted in the Bible.

More specifically, Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Bahā’ī Cause from 1921-­1957 whose exposition of Bahā’ī scripture is  regarded by Bahā'is as infallible, has identified Mīrzā Yaḥyā with the "son of perdition" mentioned in II Thess. 2:3f and named Siyyid Muhammad the Antichrist of the Bahā’ī Dispensation. Fn.

Fn,   = Shoghi Effendi, letter to Isfandāyār Majzāb (Nov. 17.1935) cf. Taherzadeh RB II:298, 464464; GPB:164. One might have expected Shoghi Effendi (c.1896‑1957, the Guardian of the Bahāi religion and great‑grandson of Bahā'u'llāh) to have labelled Mīrzā Yayā  the supreme incarnation of the "Antichrist" rather than Siyyid Muammad; especially since Māzrā Yayā is said to have disguised himself as a Jew (refer, GPB:165), claimed identify with God (ibid., 165 but cf.below on II. Thess 2:1ff) where the "Son of Perdition" [= Yayā] 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 Bahā'u'llāh perhaps saved him from this notoreity.

Shoghi Effendi's identification of Mīrzā Yaḥyā with the "son of perdition" of II Thess. 2:3ff agrees with that of the Bāhā'ī poet and writer Mīrzā `Alī`Asraf of Lāhijān known as `Andalīb. He had met the orientalist E.G. Browne in Yazd (Iran) in 1888 whom he not only encouraged to visit Bahā'u'llāh at `Akkā but for whom he wrote a Persian tract shortly before Bahā'u'lāh's passing in 1892, ­In this apologetic work `Andalāb applies a large number of Biblical texts to the Bāb and Bahā'u'llāh and thinks it obvious that in `Andalāb's epistle to the great orientalist E.G.Browne (1862‑1926) has, as far as I am aware, never been published; it is not clear whether Browne ever received it or whether the MSS has survived. My source of information is Rice's article, `A Bābī  Pamphlet in the Church Missionary Intelligencer (August 1902), 565‑573 which contains an excellent summary of `Andalāb's epistle. cf. Balyuzi, 1973:235 fn.15.

­In this apologetic work `Andalib applies a large number of Biblical texts to the Bāb and Bahā'u'llāh and thinks it obvious that Thess 2:3ff refers to the evils of Mīrzā Yayā. He wondered how Christian missionaries (whom he incidently thought were the false prophets mentioned in Matt 24:24) could fail do discern this specific prophetic allusion. Was not the evil Yayā, the "man of sin", destroyed by the "breath" (= creative word of God/Bahā'u'llāh) of his half‑brother's mouth? (refer II Thess 2:8). So both `Andalāb and Shoghi Effendi  maintained (refer Rice, 1902:572). ­

Though it is not as obvious as `Andalāb imagined that II Thess. 2:3ff refers to Mīrzā Yaḥyā (we shall see below that this pericope was referred to Karīm Khān Kirmānī by `Abd al-Karīm Tehranī) the following alleged correspondences probably cont­ributed to the identification‑:

  • 1) Since Bahā'u'llāh was the return of Christ who is to distroy the "son of perdition" by the breath of his mouth Mīrzā Yaḥyā as the arch enemy of the returned Christ must be the "son of perdition". Bahā'u'llāh defeated his half‑brother Mīrzā Yaḥyā by condemning him in his writings or (as `Andalāb pointed out) through the breath of his mouth (cf. the Lawh‑i Mubāhila).
  • 2) According to II Thess 2:4 the "son of perdition" is to "exalt himself against every so‑called god" and seat  himself "in the temple of God proclaiming himself to be God". This might suggest to the Bahā’ī exegete  Mīrzā Yaḥyā's epiphanic pretentions and his condemnation of other claimants to divine status including Bahā'u'llāh himself. That the evil one should seat himself in the temple of God, could also be taken to predict Mīrzā Yaḥyā's usurption of Bahā'u'llāh's claim to divinity: the word temple as haykal (as it is in certain Arabic translations of II Thess 2:8) suggesting not Jerusalem but the physical body of the manifestation of God (mazhar-i ilāhi). (cf. Bahā'u'llāh's Sārat al‑Haykal c.1873?  In this connection see   Bahā'u'llāh, Surat al‑haykal in Alvāh‑i Bahā`u'llah..mushtamil bar Sārat al‑Haykal.. Bombay: 1308/1892‑3)+ AQA 4:268-300. Trans. (unrelaible) Anton F. Haddad, Surat'ul-Hykl. Chicago: Behais Supply and Publishing Board , 1900; partially cited in H. Holley's  Bahāi Scriptures.  New York: 1923/ 28).
  • 3) The "lawless one", according to II Thess 2:9, is to appear by the "activity of Satan" just as Mīrzā Yaḥyā was thought to have been deceived and prompted by the satanic Siyyid Muhammad.

Modern Biblical scholars have identified a number of of texts that (though Paul does not directly quote them) seem to lie behind II Thess 2:1ff.i.o. Ezek. 28:2ff, Isa 14:12ff, Dan 11:36. The passage has been thought by some to have been influenced by Caligula's attempt to set up an effigy of himself in the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem (destroyed in 70 A.D.) and it is of interest to note that Isa 14:12ff (which the author of II Thess drew on and which is identified  as a funeral lament or māshāl over the king of Babylon‑‑perhaps Nebuchadnezzar or Nabonidus) has been applied by a few of the church fathers to the Antichrist and by a few Bahā’ī writers to Mīrzā Yaḥya. 

Kheiralla, it is of interest to note, found prophecies about the activities and person of Mīrzā Yaḥyā in both the Old and New Testaments. Again, in his bulky work Behá`U'lláh (Vol. 2) he writes:  "According to prophecy, Satan, the "adversary" of God should appear in the Kingdom, at the time of the "Manifestation", and, refusing to acknowledge his authority of revelation would be cast out, loosing the name which had been bestowed upon h1m. This name is the "Morning Star", "Sun of the East" or Subh‑i‑Ezel [sic.]. This casting down of Satan out of Heaven, is the battle between Michael and His angels against the "adversary" of God [cf. Isa.14:12f, Rev 12:7f, etc.]. By it we are taught that he should be cast from his high spiritual position, into the earth, meaning that h  shall become earthly, materially minded and belong to the party of Cain. In the 49th chapter of Jeremiah, the adversary is given the name of "Esau", in contradistinction to the "Manifestation" [i.e. Bahā`u~'llāh], who is termed "Jacob", implying that the "Satan" of the Kingdom, would be a brother of the Manifestation. All these prophecies were fulfiIled literally in Sub-i-Ezel [sic.], a brothor of Beha`U'Ilah, who had been appointed by the Bāb, but who, after the death of the Bāb, refused to acknowledge "He whom God shall manifest" [the Bābī  messiah, Man yuhiruhu'llāh ], thereby accomplishing his own dethronement and by his wickedness, being cast out of the Kingdom of God" (pp 417‑8)

"How art thou fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of the Dawn! (Heb =        ). How are you cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low! You said in your heart, `I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high..I will make myself like the Most High (           ).  Isaiah 13:12f (RSV)

 

Isaiah 13:12f (RSV). These verses in Isaiah were probably originally based on an ancient myth about the banishment of a divine being from heaven. The        ("Day Star son of the Dawn") figure is reminiscient of the planet Venus  or the deity associated with it. In the Ugaritic texts Šahar is a god of the dawn and hālāl the morning star (see modern commentaries for details). I wonder, it may be noted here, whether the idea that the Antichrist‑Dajjāl would have an eye like the "morning star" (as registered below, one of the most consistent features of the physiognomic descriptions of the Antichrist in Christian and Islamic literatures) is related to Isaiah 14:12?

What in this text evidently led to its application to Mīrzā Yaḥyā was the phrase "Day star, son of the Dawn" (the Hebrew        ) which suggests the morning star and hence the dawn.  This was related to Yaḥyā's title Subḥ‑i Azal, ("the Morn of Eternity"). In, for example, the Arabic translation of the Hebrew Bible published by Richard Watts in 1831 where Isa 14:12a reads :            

XXX          

(Kitāb al-muqaddas.. R. Watts London 1831).

Though Bahā'u'llāh does not, as far as I am aware, himself apply either II Thess. 2:3ff or Isa 14:12ff to his half‑brother he does, in at least two of his writings refers Amos 4:13   to the circumstances of his own mission and to his eclipse of his half-brother, Mīrzā Yayā, Subh-i Azal ("The Morn of Eternity"). In a lengthy Persian "tablet" of the `Akkā' period perhaps written in the late 1880's Bahā'u'llāh, after applying various passages from the Bāb's writings to himself as the concealed yet "most great announcement" (cf .Qur'ān 78:2) and quoting and commenting on a number of Biblical texts (Mk.13:32/Matt.24:36, Joel 2:11b, Jer.30:7a, Psalm 108:90 and Isaiah 40:9‑lOa), refers to Amos 1:2 and 4:12b‑13. (see Mā'idih 7:173ff). The translation of the latter  text which is quoted in Arabic is as follows:

"Prepare to meet thy God, O Israel, For, lo, He that formeth the mountains and createth the wind, and declareth unto man what is his thought, that maketh the morning darkness (            = yuj`al al-fajr ilāl  an) and treadeth upon the high places of the earth (                = mashraf al-ar?) the Lord ( Y-H-W-H = Yahweh "Jehovah"), the God of Hosts (            = ilāh al-junād) is his name." (Arabic text in Mā'idih VII:191‑2 and Lawh-i Shaykh 171-2 trans. Shoghi Effendi, ESW:145-6 (identical Arabic text of Amos 4:12b‑13)

  In its original context this verse describes the majesty and omnipotence of God as judge and controIler of nature. While the Septuagint LXX has  eosphoros ("          ") the Latin Vulgate has "Lucifer" for dawn / morn which is subh in Arabic.

Bahā'u'llāh comments on his text in Persian. He states that it refers to his disclosure of his hidden majesty aroumd the year 80 (thamānāna) or 1863‑4 CE (= 1, 280.Aḥ) The "high places of the earth" (glossed in Persian as              = bulandāhā-yi ar) signifies the "great city" (         ) or Constantinople (Istanbul) and "these regions" (ān ārāf)  or the area around `Akkā'-Haifa (Mt. Carmel) region in Syria (Palestine). The "Lord of hosts" is Bahā'u'llāh himself who after 1863/ 1,280 made Mīrzā Yayā the "false dawn" (     = ṣubḥ kādhib) darkness. The Arabic of Amos 4:13b,             = yuj`al al-fajr ilāl  an) is evidently taken to be an allusion to Ṣubḥ‑i Azal for Bahā'u'llāh understands     al-fajr ("dawn") to imply        ub ("morn") in terms of his "spiritual defeat" of Mīrzā Yahyā during the Adrianople and `Akkā periods of his ministry.

In his last major work the Lawh‑i ibn‑Dhi'b  (c.1890‑91) Bahā'u'llāh again quotes Amos 4:12b‑13 in (identical) Arabic translation and adds some comments in Persian:

"He (Amos) saith that he maketh the morning (fajr) darkness (tārāk). By this is meant that if, at the time of the Manifestation of Him who conversed on Sinai (zuhur mukallim al-tur =  Bahā'u'llāh's proclamation of his mission) anyone were to regard himself as the true morn (        ṣubḥ-i ādiq), he will through the might (quwwat) and power (qudrat) of God be turned into darkness (tārik) believing himself to be the true one (sādiq). Woe unto him, and woe unto such as follow him (i.e. the Azalās) without a clear token from God, the Lord of the Worlds" (trans. Shoghi Effendi, ESW:146).     

After quoting a few passages from the book of Isaiah Bahā'u'llāh goes on to state that these Biblical texts, which he has quoted in illustration of his own greatness and divinity and the falsity of such other claimants as Mīrzā Yaḥyā stand in "no need of commentary" being as "shining and manifest as the sun" (ESW:146). ­The  allusion to Subh‑i Azal can readily be discerned. Then, underlining the fact that Biblical (and other) texts he has quoted point to his own exalted station and not to the pretensions of Mīrzā Yaḥyā and the Azalis Bahā'u'llāh exhorts mankind to fear God and give no heed to the breakers of God's covenant:

"Say: Fear God, O people, and follow not the doubts of such as shout aloud, who have broken the covenant of God and his Testament, and denied His mercy that hath preceeded all that are in the heavens and all that are on earth." (ESW:146).

Bahā'u'llāh thus himself applies Biblical texts to the matter of his eclipse of Subh‑i Azal the nominee of the Bāb. Though he does not apply such texts to the person of Siyyid Muammad he does condemn him in a large number of his writings. It is of interest to note that though Bahā'u'llāh rebuked those Bahā'is who murdered Siyyid Muhammad and other Azalās in `Akkā in January 1872 (see below) he, in his al-Kitāb al‑Aqdas (c.1873) not only refers to Mīrzā Yaḥyā as the "dawning place of deviation" (                    ) but appears to speak of Siyyid Muammad's death as an act of God. He writes in the latter connection: "God verily, hath taken the one who led you [Mīrzā Yaḥyā] astray" (          ) (Bahā'u'llāh, Aqdas (al‑Ḥasanī) 130).

Bahā'u'llāh, it may be noted here, makes a very large number of references and allusions to Siyyid Muhaammad in his Tablets of the `Akka period (l868‑1892). In particular refer, Lawh‑i Istintāq ( "Tablet of the Interrogation") in Mā'idih IV:220‑260, esp., 232ff -- here Siyyid Muhammad is referred to as "the detestible (khabāth) Siyyid Muhammad" (250ff).

In his O Christians Why do Ye Believe Not on Christ? (1917) the now heretical Kheiralla, in the course of a remarkable defense of the Bahā’ī  assasination of the Azalis at `Akkā' in 1872 (perhaps influenced by that passage from Bahā'u'llāh's Aqdas quoted above ‑ which Kheiralla had translated into English but never published), applies Rev 12:7ff to the Bahā'i‑ Azali controversy. At one point he writes:

"On my part it gives me great delight to acknowledge it [the assasination of 1872!] and greater satisfaction that it happened. Because, the happening of this event is a decisive proof that Christ was a Manifestation of God and that which he foretold was literally fulffilled... The war in heaven which Christ prophesied was on earth where the Father manifested Himself [at `Akkā' where Bahā'u'llah lived in 1872]. This prophecy was fulfilled by the defeat of Satan (Azal) and his angels by Michael (Beha'U'llah) and his angels.. [i.e. in Rev 12:7ff]" (pp. 62‑3).

Many of Mīrzā Yaḥyā's evils are, in Bahā’ī scripture and by Bahā’ī writers, attributed to the influence of Siyyid Muhammad the alleged Antichrist of the Bahā’ī dispensation. `Abdu'l‑Bahā has described the relationship between them as like that which exists between the "sucking child" (Mīrzā Yaḥyā) and the "much prized breast" (Siyyid Muhammad) of its mother. (`Abdu'l-Bahā, TN II:95;cf GPB:113). Similarly, Shoghi Effendi in his book God Passes By (1944) refers to Siyyid Muhammad's manipulation of Mīrzā Yaḥyā in the following terms:

"The black‑hearted scoundrel who befooled and manipulated this vain and flaccid man [Mīrzā Yaḥyā] with consummate skill and unyielding persistence was a certain Siyyid Muhammad.. notorious for his inordinate ambition, his blind obstinacy and uncontrollable jealousy… that living embodiment of wickedness, cupidity and deceit.." (GPB:112, 165)

1 John - Codex Alexandrinus (5th cent. CE).

The ἀντίχριστος Antichrist(s) of the Johannine Epistles of the New Testament.

Παιδία, ἐσχάτη ὥρα ἐστίν, καὶ καθὼς ἠκούσατε ὅτι ἀντίχριστος ἔρχεται, καὶ νῦν ἀντίχριστοι πολλοὶ γεγόνασιν· ὅθεν γινώσκομεν ὅτι ἐσχάτη ὥρα ἐστίν.  1 John 2:18.

Little children, it is the last time [hour]: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. (KJV/AV trans.).

As noted below the Johannine Epistles are the only Biblical writings that explicitly mention the Antichrist figure which is `demythologized' in the sense of signifying the eschatological appearance of a plurality of heretics or `antichrists'. Despite the fact that Bahā’ī writers have at times `demythologized' the mainstream Antichrist tradition like the author(s) of 1 and 2 John, these texts are seldom quoted by them. `Abdu'l‑Bahā  was, however, asked about the meaning of 1 Jn 4:3 in February 1909 by an American Bahā’ī couple, Mr. and Mrs. Joseph H. Hannan. In their record of their pilgrimage to `Akkā' and Haifa entitled Akka Lights  they note that they asked `Abdu'l‑Bahā the following question:

"Question‑ 2 Cor., 11:14‑15. St.Paul says: Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness: and in 1 John 4:3, St. John speaks of Anti‑Christ as the spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. What is the application of these teachings to this day, and how may the spirit of Anti‑Christ be identified today?"

`Abdu'l‑Bahā's reply is of considerable interest. He begins by stating that these New Testament texts refer to the "great disturbance" that is to occur in the latter days. Exalted souls will be abased and lowly souls will attain great glory in these times just as Caiphas was abased and Peter and Mary Magdalene were elevated in the time of Christ. Thus, at the time of Bahā'u'llāh even Mirzā Yaḥyā became "the lowest of men, whereas remote souls became the nearest to the throne."

The spirit of Antichrist which denies the bodily incarnation of Jesus in these days, `Abdu'l‑Bahā continues, signifies Ḥajji Mīrzā Muhammad Karīm Khān Kirmānī (see further below) who rejected the Bāb and Bahā'u'llāh;

"The spirit of Anti‑Christ was identified at the day of the Manifestation in the person of Haji Mohammad Karīm Khān, who did not confess that the Christ‑spirit had become manifest in the flesh in this day. (Words attributed to `Abdu'l-Bahā in Hannan, Akka Lights, 6),

Virgie Viola Vail stands among the few Bahā’ī writers who have commented on the Antichrist[s] of 1 and 2 John. She wrote a now quite rare and little known book entitled The Glorious Kingdom of the Father Foretold  which was one of the major contributions to the Bahā’ī interpretation of the Bible in the light of the mission of Bahā'u'llāh (her book is 262 pages long; see bibliography). In her treatment of the meaning of the "return of Christ" she argues that Christians and others who hold that Christ will not come again as another divine man "in the flesh" (i.e. as Bahā'u'llāh) are the eschatological manifestation of the "spirit" of the Antichrist or the "antichrists" (Vail, 1940:23).­

Then, in her chapter on False Christs, she quotes 1 Jn 4:1‑3 and 2 Jn 7 and stresses that Bahā'u'llāh has appeared as Christ come again "in the flesh" and "in like manner" (cf. Acts 1:11), she teaches that the Antichrist[s] of the Johannine Epistles are "athiests who do not acknowledge the power of God to send His word (Bahā'u'llāh) into the human realm by manifesting in human form." (Vail, 1940:62-3). While then, hypocritical religionists are the false teachers or prophets mentioned in Matt 24:5, athiests and others become latter day docetists in that they deny the incarnation of the Word of God in the person of Bahā'u'llāh who is the return of the spirit of Christ "in the flesh".

It is possible that Virgie Vail was influenced in her interpretation of the "spirit" of the Antichrist by earlier speculations of Mason Remey (1874‑1973). He championod a Bahā’ī "orthodoxy" in America and elsewhere when "covenant breaking" (conceived as aberrant  indulgence in quasi‑Bahā’ī metaphysical speculation or occult theosophy contrary to the teachings of `Abdu'l‑Bahā or assoc­iation with persons in oppoition to him) threatened the unity of the Bahā’ī community.  From around the time of the first world war, Remey, who was a prolific writer and zealous Bahā'ī, had managed to establish himself as the leading occidental exponent of the Bahā’ī philosophy of the covenant. (see  P. Smith, The American Bahā’ī Community, 1894‑1917: A Preliminary Survey (unpublished essay), p.85ff). Writing from Hawaii to an American Bahā’ī assembly in 1913 he expressed his conviction that there is a "natural human force" in man that resists the "religion of God" and which has "ever been the spirit of the Anti‑Christ". This "spirit of Anti‑Christ" is "the spirit of denial of the Word manifest" which  serves to quicken those souls who are "steadfast in the Kingdom". See Remey, `Letter to a Bahá'í Assembly written from Hawaii' and dated July 19th 1913 printed in Star of the West 4/10 (Chicago, September 8th 1913) 172. In the early 1960s Mason Remey himself was expelled from the Bahā’ī Cause as a "covenant breaker" (For some details refer, Johnson, Ph.D. theisis, 1974, 374).

At the time of the Chicago `Reading Room affair' of 1917‑18 which was partly triggered by the supposedly heterodox occult philosophy of a Boston metaphysician named W.W. Harmon who had been encouragod to write by `Abdu'l‑Bahā,   ­Remey and his associates initiated what was practically a Bahā’ī inquisition.  For some details refer Smith, American Bahā’ī Community,  94ff. According to W. W. Harmon (Divine Illumination, 8)  `Abdu'l-­Bahā said to him in August 1912 "I want you to write a book on `Divine Illumination'". A year later he sent the manuscript to `Abdu'l‑Bahā and it was apparently approved in a letter to him dated April 20th 1914. Harmon's other major work is entitled The Seven Principles of the Microcosm and Macrocosm.. (see bibliography). His writings came to be seen as heterodox if not heretical and he was branded a "covenant breaker".

A remarkable set of observations designed to foster "firmness in the Bahā’ī covenant" (privately circulated in limited mimeographed edition) entitled The Protection of the Cause of God (approved by the "Committee of Investigation") were circulated by Remey in 1918. At one point Remey writes:

"It is found in this day that many people unawakened spiritually naturally resent the doctrine of the "Manifested Word" or the "Incarnate Christ". In other words the spirit of the anti‑Christ is abroad everywhere. Some people when questioned, who perhaps may bear the name Christian, are often found to be vague upon this point which is the very foundation of God's religion, for it has been found that while the Manifestation of God is the point of guidance to the believer after one is confirmed, the Manifestation of God is also the point of the greatest test to those who are yet in doubt.. Of all the religious movements in the world, I know none upon which the people place more stress than do the Bahā'ās upon the Revealed Word, and there is no body of people who take a stronger stand against the spirit of anti‑Christ than they do. Basically speaking, the spiritual war which the Bahā'ās are now waging against the spiritual darkness of the world is the struggle of the Christ against the anti‑Christ spirit in its many forms..". Refer, Remey, `The Protection of the Cause of God..' (1918) 24‑5. cf. also, idem  `Report of the Bahā’ī Committee of Investigation 1917‑1918'; `An Open Letter to the Baha'is in America..'; `Firmness in the Covenant' (see bibliography).

This passage speaks largely for itself. Remey saw the spirit of the Antichrist everywhere and believed that Bahā’ī doctrine as he and his associates conceived it constituted the true recognit­ion of the "Manifested Word" or person of Bahā'u'llāh. He imagined himself to be engaged in a veritable "battle of Armageddon" against the spirit of the Antichrist at a time when Bahā’ī "covenant breaking" and world unrest and war threatened the recognition of the second Christ and the true understanding of the station of `Abdu'l‑Bahā.

At this point it may be noted that `Abdu'l‑Bahā in his Risāla‑yi Siyāsiyya  ("Treatise on Politics", written in 1892‑3) which was primarily addressed to the Bahā'is of Iran, identifies the (human) Dajjāl with Bahā’ī hypocrites who are the cause of discord or

who inwardly violate the Bahā’ī covenant - on the date of the Risāla-yi sīyāsīyih  see Mā'idih  5:198.  ­He writes:

"O Beloved of God! Give ear, consider attentively and endeavour to guard yourselves against violation [ fisādā; or `sedition']; and if you smell the odour of corruption from ayone, even if he appear to be a person of great importance and incomparably learned, know that he is the [human (manifestation of the)] Dajjāl  and the enemy of the Glorious One (al‑Jalāl)." (Refer, `Abdu'l‑Bahā, Risāla-yi Sāyāsāyih (nd.np.) 20. The text reproduced in Fādil-i Māzandarānī's Āsrār al‑āthār  Vol.2:232 (entry Dajjāl) differs slightly from that aforementioned (omitting ___ after the word Dajjāl).

Bahā’ī writers, it will be evident, do not exactly restrict the significance of the eschatological appearance of the Antichrist/Dajjāl to any single individual of an infamous nature. Certain individuals are however, singled out as being, as it were, supreme incarnations of the Antichrist idea. Such a perspective has been expressed by Shoghi Effendi who probably had in mind the following points‑ 1) the Bahā’ī denial of the supernatural or real existence of Satan, or the  Devil, (frequently mentioned by `Abdu'l‑Bahā) and 2) the fact that various Bābī  and Bahā’ī writers have identified a plethora of anti‑Bābī ‑Bahā’ī individuals as manifestations of the Antichrist/ Dajjāl idea. Conscious of the need to refute the Christian idea that the Antichrist would be a single supernatural eschatological adver­sary he wrote,

"We [Bahā'īs] do not believe in Anti‑Christ in the sense the Christians do. Anyone who violently and determinedly sought to oppose the Manifestation could be called an "anti‑Christ", such as the Vazīr in the Bāb's days, Hājī Mīrzā Āqāsī".  (Shoghi Effendi, from a letter of Shoghi Effendi quoted in High Endeavours (1976) 69 (No.85).

 

حاج میرزا آقاسی‎

`Abbas Erevani (c,1784- 1849 CE), Hāji Mīrzā Āqāsī, the Grand Vizier of Muhammad Shah Qāǰār (r. 1250-64/1834-48) between 1251-64/1835-48, the "Antichrist" of the Bābī Dispensation.

 

"[Muhammad Shāh's] evil genius, the omnipotent Hají Mírzá Áqásí, the power behind the throne and the chief instigator of the outrages perpetrated against the Bāb.. the Antichrist of the Bábí Revelation" (Shoghi Effendi, GPB:82,164).

A great deal has been written by Bābī  and Bahā’ī writers  about Mīrzā `Abbās Īravāni (of Yerevan) or Hajji Mīrzā Aqāsi (1784‑l849) the notorious grand vizier of Muammad Shāh whose accession to the throne he is said to have predicted.  Both his manipulation of the sovereign and his marked hostility to the Bābī s are well-known Eugene Flandin's description of him calls to mind the physiognomic characteristics of the Dajjāl though this theme, as we shall see, is more important in connoction with the Shaykhā leader Karīm Khān-i Kirmānī,

"Haji Mirsa Aqasi... Imagine a nose, very long and curved, ovor an edentulous mouth and surmounted by badly dyed hair, bloodshot but lively eyes, a brusque gesture, a subtle or rather sly appearance, and one  has the exact portrait of this singular personago. This little old man, still vigorous, was like all Persians, vain to excess.. his conversation was scarcely of a nature to destroy the prejudices, little favourable to his person, which had been in our minds before this presentation.." (Flandin, 1851:989 cited Momen 198X:155).

Bābī and Bahā’ī sources have it that aji Mīrzā Āqāsī constantly incited the fears of Muhammad Sāh in terms of the Bābīs. He is said to have provented teo Bāb from communicating directly with or meeting him (Refer, Balyuzi, The Bāb:118ff). As early as the first year of his mission the Bāb had, in his Qayyūm al-asmā’ (commentary on the Qur'ānic sūrah of Joseph, mid-1844), called upon Hajji Mīrzā Āqāsī to relinquish his position and in a subsequent letter to Muhammad Sāh referred to him in the following terms:

Dost thou [Muhammad Shāh] imagine him whom thou hast appointed Chancellor in thy kingdom to be the best leader and the best supporter? Nay, I swear by thy Lord. He will bring thee into grevious trouble by reason of that which Satan instilleth into his heart, and verily he himself is Satan.. He comprehendeth not a single letter of the Book of God.. Indeed, in the estimation of the people he is naught but manifest darkness.."  (The Bāb, extract from a letter to Muammad Shāh, trans. Taherzadeh in SWB: 25‑6. cf. GPB.:23). .

Hajji Mīrzā Āqāsī was responsible for the Bāb's incarceration in Ādhirbayjān at a time when he might have been able to meet Muhammad Sāh. He engineered the examination of the Bāb at Tabriz in 1848 at which the now self‑confessed Qā'im was condemned and bastinadoed. (Balyuzi, The Bāb, 121ff. Momen, op. cit. 154). From Chihrīq shortly after the latter humiliation the Bāb sternly admonished Haji Mīrzā Āqāsī in a letter known as the Khutba-yi Qahriyya.  A year or so later he, having fallen from grace in the estimation of the notables of Tihran and the young Nāṣir al‑Dīn Sāh, died in Karbalā (in 1849 before the Bāb's execution in July 1850; cf. GPB:27; Momen, 198X:156).

We have seen that Hajjā Mīrzā Āqāsī was mentioned by `Abdu'l‑Bahā in connection with the beast imagery of the Apocalypse and that Shoghi Effendi has referred to him as the Antichrist of the Bābī  period. It will therefore come as no suprise to learn that certain early Bābī s thought of him as a manifestation of the Dajjāl. Mīrzā Muammad `Alī Zunuzī for example, in a dialogue with a learned Saykī written before his martyrdom (along with the Bāb) in 1850, not only identified Karīm Khān Kirmānī (see below) as the manifestation of Sufyān (zuhūr‑i Sufyān)  but saw Haji Mīrzā Āqāsī  as the evil Dajjāl. (Refer, Mīrzā Muhammad `Alī Zunuzi cited in Fāil-i Māzandarānā, Kitāb‑i zuhār al‑haqq, III:35). Calling to mind Shoghi Effendi's identification of Haji Mīrzā Āqāsī as the "Antichrist of the Bābī  Revelation" the author of the Nuqat al‑kāf  (c.1852?) expressed the opinion that,  "The point of unbelief of the age and the Antichrist of the dispensation is [Hajji Mīrzā] Āqāsī."­  (refer, also Hājjī Mirzā Jāni Kāshānī (d. 1852),  Nuqtat al-kāf,  118). `Abdu'l‑Bahā in a talk delivered at Haifa on June 15th 1914 is reported as having stated, it may be noted here, "If from the beginning when His Holiness the Supreme (the Bāb) appeared, Hadji Mirza Aghasee (the prime minister of Persia, who caused the martyrdom of the Bāb, and in the orient is known as Dedjal, meaning anti‑Christ or false Christ) and others, had not resisted this Cause, Persia would now have been the first country in the world and distinguished in every way"  trans. Zia N. Baghdadi in Star of the West Vol. IX/10 (Sept.8th.1918), 116).

Select Bibliography.

See further Abbas Amanat 1986  "ĀQĀSĪ". in Encyc, Iranica, Vol. II, Fasc. 2. pp. 183–188.

ٍ

Haji Mīrzā Muhammad Karīm Khan Kirmānī (d. 1871 CE).

ٍٍٍShaykh Aḥmad Ahsā'ī (d. 1241/1826) the rounder of the Shaykhī school was succeeded by Siyyid Kāzim Rashtī (d. 1259/1843) whose passing precipitated something of a crisis in that h­as to the identity of his successor. Karīm Khān Kirmānī (1810‑1870) who had studied under the second Shaykh in Karbalā and who was the son of a cousin and son‑in law of Fath `Ali Shāh, made a strong bid for the leadership of the Shaykhī community. From Kirmān in the mid 1840's he was able to gradually attract to himself the majority of Persian Shaykās who did not become Bābī s. By the end of his days he had "so consolidated his own position… that the succession passed, after a brief dispute, to his second son aj Muammad Khān.. descending in the same family to the present day" (MacEoin, Tāhirih: 3ff).

Karīm Khān was not only posessed of considerable political influence through his links with the ruling Qājārs but was an influential and prolific writer on most aspects of the religious sciences of his day. It has been estimated that he wrote some 278 books in Arabic and Persian which cover, "not only the field of philosophy and Shā'ite theosophy, the spiritual hermeneutics of the Qur'ān and the hadāth but also an encyclopedia of the sciences: medicine, physics, optics, astronomy, theory of light, of colour, of music, including alchemy, and related sciences.." (Corbin,1977:116).­

The polymathic erudition of Karīm Khān made him a formidable opponent of the Bāb and his disciples many of whom came from a Shaykhā background. As early as July 1845 he had penned the first of a number of weighty refutations of Bābism entitled Ihāq al-­Bāil  ("The Crushing of Falsehood"). This polemical treatise was followed less than a year later by his Tir‑i Shihāb.. ("The Shooting Star", March 1846) and subsequently supplemented by such anti‑Bābī  works as his al‑Shihāb al‑Thāqib  ("Piercing Star"; January 1849). To the end of his life KarIm Khān remained a bitter enemy of both the Bāb and Bahā'u'llāh who not only had him formally acquainted with their claims but vehemently denounced him (Refer Kirmāni, Izhāq al‑Bātil; Tir‑Shihāb.; al-Shihāb al‑Thāqib, etc). 

In his article `The Babis of Persia (II)' the great British Persianist Edward G Browne (d.1926) records a tradition to the effect that the Bāb, on receiving a treatise written in refutation of his claims by Karīm Khān, identified its author with the athīm  ("sinful one") mentioned in the 44th sūrah of the Qur'ān, the sūrat‑al dukhān (The Surah of Smoke). He wrote the isolated letters Ḥā' Mīm   (Sūrah 44 is the 5th of 7 Qur'ānic sūrahs which begin with those detached letters ) on its opening page in which Karīm Khān had written: "Thus says the sinful (athim) servent, Muhammad Karīm, son of Ibrahim". This for the Bāb evidently called to mind Qur'ān 44:43/8, "Verily (the fruit) of the tree of al‑Zaqqūm ["the infernal tree"] shall be the food of the impious (athīm)..  Taste (this); for thou art that mighty (and) honourable (karīm)  person".  (Browne, 1889b:910-911).  Karīm Khān had unwittingly condemned himself. In a letter of the Bāb cited Ishraq Khavari, Qāmus-i iqan vol. 1:42).

"Eat ye your punishment for your unbelief. This is the tree of Zaqqām.. And we have warned the sinful (athīm)  of a painful punishment, of the burning and the flames, and the fires of Hell. Now hath the decree come to pass. Eat then, O thou mighty and honourable one (al‑karīm)". (trans. MacEoin in "Tāhirih" (ms) fn.23 (p.vi) to chapter Karbila 1844). 

E.G. Browne it may also be noted here recorded the tradition that the Bāb stigmatized Karīm Khan as "the Quintessence of Hell‑fire" (jawhar jawāhir kull nār). (TN. II (Note E), 242).     

As already mentioned Karīm Khān has been identified with the Antichrist or Dajjāl. This dentification, in the light also of the physiognomic characteristics of the Dajjāl, most notably his being `one-eyed', was made by Bābī s from an least as early as 1847 and even, somewhat unconvincingly, attributed to Siyyid Kāzim Rashti  the second Shaykh of the Shaykhis.

In 1887‑8 the apostle of Bahā'u'llāh Mullā Muhammad Zarandī, Nabīl‑i A`ẓām completed a lengthy history of the Bābī ‑Bahā’ī religions which contain traditions of considerable interest in connection with our theme.  Selections from the first part of Muhammad Nabil-i Zarandi's voluminous, compendius, Persian ( and Arabic) history, was edited and translated by Shoghi Effendi under the title, `The Dawn Breakers, Nabil's Narrative of the Early Days of the Bahá'í Revelation (1932 [= DB]). Its original text remains in several mss. It has not been pub­lished. The Shi`i notion of the bodily perfection of the messengers and Imāms is discussed by Siyyid Kāim Rashti in his Risāla-yi Uṣul‑i `Aqā'id (written in 1256.Aḥ., 1839‑40.A.D. [in MSS]) p.140.

Zarandi notes that Siyyid Kāzim Rashtī had frequently mentioned that the promised Qā'im could be of "pure lineage" or "illustrious descent" of the "seed of Fāimih" and be "free from bodily deficiency": a notion doubtless rooted in the physiognomic descriptions of the expected Mahdi / Qā'im (as opposod to thoso of the Dajjāl) and the Shi`i notion that tho  prophet‑Imām is not only guarded from sin (ma`sum) but a physically perfect human being ever free of bodily infirmity or disease (see Zarandi, DB:29).  Zarandi then reports that,for Shaykh Abū Turāb and other Shaykhis, Sayyid Kāim mentioning the bodily wholeness of the expected Qā'im pointed to tho shortcommings of certain leading Shaykhās. Karīm Khān was "one eyed" and "sparsely bearded" Mīrzā Hasan Gawhar "exceptionally corpulent" and Mīrzā Muḥīṭ‑i Shā`ir‑i  Kirmānī  "extraordinarily lean and tall" (DB:29). These three Shaykhīs were, in other words, thought to exhibit Dajjāl‑like physical characteristics.

We have seen how, in the Christian as well as the Islamic physiognomic Antichrist-Dajjāl traditions, the eschatological adversary was often thought to be characterized by  having peculiar eyes or being "one-eyed" or either lean or tall or huge or corpulent. The attribution to or the highlighting of the actual or supposed physical deficiences of the enemies of the Bābī ‑Bahā’ī movemonts is a not uncommon feature of Bābi‑Bahā’ī historiography and polemic influenced by the Antichrist‑Dajjāl traditions. Mullā Muammad‑i Mamaqanā, for example, a leading Shaykhī who made a leadership bid (from Tabrāz) after the passing of Sayyid Kāzim and who played a leading role in the first examination of the Bāb in Tabrīz (in August 1858) whose death‑warrant he subsequently signed, has been described by Shoghi Effendi as a one‑eyed and white bearded renegade." (Shoghi Effendi, GPB:21.) Nicholas, it may further be notod here, in his Essai sur le Shaykhisme, II writes, "If according to Karim Khan the Bab and his followers are infamous and impious, for the Babis, Karim Khan is the Anti­Christ or Dajjal foretold by Muhammad" (p.31).

Zarandī's abovementioned report of Shaykh Abū Turāb's narration continues and focuses upon Sayyid Kāẓim's supposed attitude towards Karīm Khān. Shaykh Abū Ṭurāb, who eventually became a Bābī and married Mullā Ḥusayn's sister, relates that a disciple of Karīm Khān presented the second Shaykh with a treatise written by his master who desired approval of its contents. Siyyid Kāzim read a few portions of the treatise but declined to pass judgement on its acceptability. Then, when Karīm Khān's disciple left Siyyid Kāzim's presence, he (according to Shaykh Abū Turāb) is said to have stated in a sorrowful voice:

"Accursed be he [Karīm Khān]! For years he has been associated with me, and now that he intends to depart, his one aim, after so many years of study and companionship, is to diffuse, through his book, such heretical and athiestic doctrines as he now wishes me to endorse. He

has covenanted with a number of self‑seeking hypocrites with a view to establishing himself in Kirman, and in order to assume, after my departure, from this world, the reigns of undisputed leadership. How greviously he erred in his judgement! For the breeze of divine Revelation wafted from the dayspring of guidance, will assuredly quench his light and destroy his influence. The tree of his endeavour will yield naught but the fruit of bitter disillusion and gnawing remorse. Verily, I say, you [Shaykh Abu Turāb] will behold this with your own eyes. My prayer for you is that you may be protected from the mischevious influence which he, the Antichrist of the promised Revelation, will in future exercise." (Zarandī, DB:30).

This narration, which may tell us more about Bābī ‑Bahā’ī anti [Kirmāni] Shaykhi polemic than the actual sentiments of Siyyid Kāzim clearly identifies Karīm Khān with the Antichrist of the Bābī period The extent to which the first two Shaykhs (founders of the Shaykhi school) prepared the way for the advent of the Bābī  movement awaits detailed investigation in the light of the many Bahā’ī sources that attribute fairly explicit prophecies to them.

Among the early Bābī  apologetic tracts that dwell upon the phhysiognomic characteristics of Karīm Khān as a neo-Umayyad or Dajjāl‑like opponent of Bābism, is the Risālah  in refutation of the latter written by al‑Qatāl ibn al‑Karbilā'ā in Karbalā in 1847.This Risāla  is printed as an appendix to Mīrzā Assad Allāh Fāḍil-i Māzandarānī's, Kitāb‑i  ẓuhur al‑ḥaqq, Vol. III (Cairo nd) 502‑532. The author of this brief treatise (a one time pupil of Siyyid Kāzim), after quoting and commenting on various traditions believed to predict the date and circumstances of the Bāb's mission, poses a question. Is it more likely he asks, whether Karīm Khān, who in various letters had claimed to be the promised Qā'im who would fill the earth with justice (al‑Qa'im bi'l_Amr), or the Bāb be the promised one? How can Karīm Khān make such claims in the light of the fact that he is "one‑eyed" (       ) "sparsely bearded" (       ) and "short‑statured" or has Dajjāl-like characteristics? Is not Karīm Khān one given to smoking or whose "inside" is "filled with smoke" (       ); a shoot from the Umayyad tree who busied himself opposing the law of the Prophet for no less tham 15 years? (Risāla, ZH 3:516). For Ibn al‑Karbilā'i, the very appearance of Karīm Khān and his company call the Umayyads, Sufyānids and the company of Mu'āwiya to mind. (ibid, 517). Indeed, the third Shaykh resembles Mu'āwiya with respect to his beard, Iblis (the Devil) in his blindness and calls to mind the "well of Eden" (?      ) in having his inside filled wlth smoke. All are startled at the sight of this evil one who is of abhorrant countenance (      ),  short­stature (         ) and who is of despicable birth and lineage (                ) (Karbalā'ā, Risāla, 519).

Following earlier Bābī  tradition, Bahā'u'llāh in his Kitāb-i igān (c. 1862) condemned Karīm Khān and applied the verses quoted above from the Qur'ānic sārat al‑dukhān to him noting how "clearly and explicitly he hath been described in God's incorruptible Book". (KI xx/121-2).  He believed that the very title of his Irshād al‑`Awwām or "Spiritual Directives for the [Ignorant] Masses underlined in itself the pride and folly of one whoso erudition veiled him from that supernatural and God‑given inspiration that is characteristic of the true Bābī  gnostic. The "Samiri of ignorance" he had rejected the "Moses of knowledge" (the Bāb) (Refer, Bahā'u'llāh, KI xx/118f. Karīm Khān's Irshād al-`Awwam  was published in its 3rd ed. (4 vols in 2) in Kirmān 1353‑1355/1934‑1936.­

It also appears that Bahā'u'llāh alludes to Karīm Khān's being (supposedly) "one‑eyed" in his Kitāb-i Igān for at one point, in the course of entreating the learned among the Bābī s not to rely on their limited intellects in seeking the coming divine manifestation, he writes:

"And yet, notwithstanding all these admonitions, We perceive that a one‑eyed man (        ) who is himself the chief of the people (        ), is arising with the utmost malevolence against Us. We forsee that in every city peoplo will arise to suppress the blessed Beauty.. We can discern one who is reputed for such devoutness and piety that men deem it an obligation to obey him.. who will arise to assail the very root of the divine Tree.." (KI:192/158).

Though it is not absolutely certain that it is Karīm Khān who is here alluded to ‑ though he wielded some political influence and had consolidated his position by 1862 when the Kitāb‑i Igān was written he had been explicitly named and condemned earlier in this book ‑ a number of Bahā’ī writers have expressed this opinion. `Abd al‑Hamid Ishrāq Khavari (1902-­1972) for example, in his massive though disordered Qāmus-i igān in the course of commenting on the line, "We forsee that in every city people will arise to suppress the blessed Beauty" states that the "one‑eyed" person is most probably Karīm Khān. He adds, it is of interest to note, that Karīm Khān had "white scales" (       ) on one of his eyes; they grew such that though he endeavoured to cut them off he was unable to attain clear vision. (Refer, Ishrāq Khāvari, QI 4:1791‑2.)  The implication is that Karīm Khān was not exactly or literally one‑eyed but posessed one diseased eye. His photograph seems to bear this out for we do not see evidence of a missing eye (see Appendix below).­

Among the major letters or "tablets" of Bahā'u'llāh, one, probably dating from the early `Akka period of his ministry and known as the Lawh‑i Qinā' ("Tablet of the Veil", c.1869‑70?) was specifically addressed to Karīm Khān. The third Shaykh had been sent a book which made Bahā'u'llāh's claims known to him but rejected them as he had rejected the claims of the author of the Qayyūm al‑Asmā’. In consequence the Lawḥ‑i Qinā' condemns him being addressed to  one who "has a reputation for knowledge" but who stands on "the brink of the pit of error" (Bahā'u'llāh, Lawh-i Qinā` in MAM: 67f). Bahā'u'llāh, also condemns Karīm Khān in his al‑Kitāb al‑Aqdas (c.1873). He expresses concern over the condition of the `land of Kāf and Rā' (= Kirmān) and later names Karīm Khān as one who turned aside from him in his vanity, as one who "turned back, fleeing" (cf. Qur'ān 27:10).

At one point in this condemnatory epistle Bahā'u'llāh indicates that Karīm Khān was present at the time of the mission of the prophet Muammad under or with "another name" (        ) (Lawh-i qinā' MAM:79). It is possible that this application of the notion of (eschatological) "return" (ra`ja) is related to our theme, It has been noted below that the one‑eyed Dajjāl, most notably as Ibn Saiyād, was believed to have lived at the time of the prophet Muhammad. On the other hand, if Bahā'u'llāh had in mind a specific even possibly `one‑eyed' Dajjāl‑like individual, Abu Sufyān ibn al-Harb would be appropriate as the previous manifestation of Karīm Khān. This especially since Abū Sufyān was for many years a fierce opponent of the prophet Muhammad as chief of the Umayyad clan of `Abd  Shāms and one who is said to have lost an eye in battle (cf. W. M. Watt. art. Abu Sufyān in EI2 1:157). His portrait has in fact, like that of Karīm Khān, assimilated to the physiognomic description of the Dajjāl as the following note makes perfectly clear:

"[The eschatological Sufyān]: His name is `Othmān the son of `Ataba of the children of Yazād ibn Mu'āwiya ibn Abā Sofyan. He is a thick­set man with an ill‑countenance, a face pitted with small pox, a large head and blue eyes. He has never rendered service to God, nor seen Mecca or Medina, and his eyes seem to squint.. a man shall come forth from the direction of Mecca whose name is Sofyān ibn Harb. Perhaps he may be that Sofyān who has been previously mentioned.." ­(Aqā'id al-Shi`a cited Browne, TN II:304-5).

Whether or not the passage from Bahā'u'llāh's Lawh‑i Qinā` referred to above was inspired by Karīm Khān's early identification with the one‑eyed eschatological opponent, the fact remains that the third Shaykh has, for both Bābī s and Bahā'ās, been seen as one of the most infamous manifestations of the Antichrist‑Dajjāl. For them at least the physiognomic descri­ptions of the Antichrist‑Dajjāl  find something of a literal fulfillment.

`Abd al Karīm was a Tehranī merchant who had settled in Egypt. He managed to convert Kheiralla in 1890 (and was instrumental in bringing about his missionary journey to the United States). He himself became aware of Bahā'u'llāh's claims during the Adrianople period (l863‑8) of his ministry. During the `Akkā period of Bahā'u'llāh's ministry he visited him at `Akkā and, over the years, received no less than 53 letters from him. `Abd al‑Karim expressed the purpose of his journey to the United States in the following terms, "I have come to this country to create harmony and mention peace among the believers, and praise be to God I have drawn the line of demarcation between the firm [believers] and the backsliders [`covenent breakers']" (ibid. p.67).`Abd al‑Karīm Effendi Tihrānī, it may be noted, has, in the course of a lecture delivered in the United States on June 3rd 1900, not only applied II Thess 2:4 to Karīm Khān but explicitly identified him as "the Sofyani" mentioned "in the Mohammedan books.. who will appear before the real Mahdi" (refer, Abdel Karim, Addresses.. 43ff.).  From his home in Egypt he, as the teacher of I.G. Kheiralla, had journeyed to the United States in 1900 at the command of `Abdu'l‑Bahā in order to guard the American Bahā'ās from the propaganda of Mīrzā Muammad `Alī(the half‑brother of `Abdu'l‑Bahā who, in the 1890's had contested him being the head of the Bahā’ī community) whom Kheiralla  supported from 1899. The faction headed by Mīrzā Muammad `Alīhad accused `Abdu'l‑Bahā of claiming Divinity or being an independent "Manifestation of God" (mahar‑i ilāhi). (cf. Johnson, Critical Transformations.. 241ff., Mirza Assad-Allāh, Instruct­ions.. 22). It appears that they quoted II Thess 2:4 in connection with those supposed claims of `Abdu'l‑Bahā in order to underline their accusations. Consequently, `Abd al‑Karim at one point in the abovementioned address specifically directed against the "Nakizeen" ("covenant breakers" or in this instance supporters of Mīrzā Muhammad `Alī) writes:

Some of these Nakizeen, in order to make things agree with their own interests and desires, are endeavouring to mislead the hearts of others through some insinuations thrown to them every now and then; and in order to strengthen their position at the present time and corroborate their false statements, they have invented, according to their own ideas and imaginations, a new interpretation of some passages of the Holy Books which refer to the appearance of a false one before the real God; claiming for others what they do not claim for themselves. But, alas, they read the Books and do not understand; rather they warp its meaning to suit their own designs in order to enable them to skillfully concoct their contrived themes. That prophecy which is mentioned in the Bible, as well as in the Koran and other books, regarding the appearance of the false God [i.e. II Thess 2:4], first, has not the slightest connection with the well known present conditions, but in reality it refers to the time of the Manifestation [Bahā'u'llāh], and the false one Manifestation, who appeared before him, "showing himself as God" [II Thess 2:4]." (`Abd al‑Karim, Addresses, 49‑50).

Thus, in order to refute the accusation that `Abdu'l‑Bahā claimed Divinity as indicated in II Thess 2:4 and elsewhere, `Abd al‑Karīm denies that such texts have anything to do with the period of the ministry of `Abdu'l‑Bahā; rather, "these emblems and signs, as mentioned in the Books, were not connected with any other appearance save that of the Manifestation, Bahā'u'llāh" (ibid, 51). ­The false claimant to Divinity should appear at the time of or before the appearance of the true manifestation of Divinity. Indeed, `Abdu'l‑Bahā never claimed Divinity and the one predicted in such texts as II Thess 2:4 is Karīm Khān Kirmāni the evil Sufyāni who "showed himself as God" ( Refer, `Abd al-Karām, Addresses.. 50.). Though `Abdu'l‑Bahā did not claim Divinity for himself certain oriental and occidental Bahā'īs had, by 1900, identified him with Jesus Christ and other prophets regarded by Bahā'īs as "Manifestations of God". His supporters in other words elevated him to a rank beyond that which he claimed for himself. Hoping to underline his spiritual greatness and rank in order to confound the partisans of Mīrzā Muhammad `Alī and other "covenant breakers" who challenged the authority of `Abdu'l‑Bahā, many early Bahā’ī writers thought of their Aqa, "Master", as an incarnate divine being. It was not in fact until Shoghi Effendi wrote his `The Dispensation of Bahā'u'llāh' in 1934 that the rank or station of the Bāb, Bahā'u'llāh and `Abdu'l‑Bahā were clearly expounded for Bahā'is by one whom they regarded as the infallible interpreter of Bahā’ī scripture.

Perhaps influenced by that passage in Bahā'u'llāh's Lawh‑i Qinā` mentioned above, `Abd al‑Karim  continues thus:

"Before the appearance of the Bāb, a man by the name of Karīm Khān, of the city of Karman [sic], Persia, appeared [fn reads, `See II Thessalomians], "showing himself as God" [II Thess. 2:4, ‑ Karīm Khān almost certainly never made any such claim], and persuaded the people to believe in him and thus succeeded in bringing to him a great number of followers; and some of his disciples have recognized him to be God. The name of Karīm Khān is known throughout the country there and elsewhere. He claimed a great mission and wrote many books which can be procured by anyone who wants them. The Manifestation [Bahā'u'llāh] sent him two Tablets, but he did not believe. His followers are many and they are known by the name of the Sheikhyist [Shaykhi] Sect. The Beloved Perfection hath said that the one who is mentioned in the Mohammedan books as Sofyani, who will appear before the real Mahdi, is this one, Karīm Khān" (`Abd al-Karim, Addresses, 50-51).

APPENDIX I

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

Mīrzā Yaḥyā Nūrī ( c. 1831- d. Famagusta, Ottoman now Cyprus, April 29th 1912) was born in about 1831 to Kuchak Khanum Karmanshahi and Mírza Buzurg Nūrī (d. 1839). He was a half-brother of Baha'-Allah

Also of interest in this connection is a passage cited within a scriptural Tablet of Baha'-Allah ‑ Khadim‑Allāh known as the Lawḥ‑i isṭintāq  (Tablet of the Interrogation,  probably dating to the 1880s; Má'idih, IV: 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 ?? [millet]‑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. ADD) 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. 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:

"He is characterized by being,

  • [1] short of stature (qaṣīr al‑qāmat);
  • [2] thick [bushy] of beard (kathīr al‑liḥayah);
  • [3] narrow of forehead and breast (dayyiq al‑jabḥat wa'l‑sadr);
  • [4] yellow of eye and hair (asfar 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 ?). 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).
  •  [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) a half‑brother of Baha'-Allah who became his bitter enemey through the goading of a certain Sayyid Muhammad Isfahānī (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 Mīrzā 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').

 One might have expected Shoghi Effendi to have labelled Mīrzā Yaḥyā  the supreme incarnation of the "Antichrist" rather than Sayyid Muhammad (see above),  especially since Mīrzā 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 Baha'-Allah perhaps saved him from this notoreity, though here (see above) Baha'-Allah himself all but identifies  him with the Dajjál.

 Bahā’ īs thus 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).

Select Biographical and Bibliographical Sources on Mīrzā Yaḥyā Nūrī include :

Ediitors of the Encyclopedia Brittannica - The New Encyclopaedia Britannica. 1989. 15th ed. Vol. 1. Edited by Philip W. Goetz. Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica, 753-754.

On the Azali Babis or followers of  Mīrzā Yaḥyā.

Iran: Information on the Babis (also known as Azalis) and their treatment in Iran

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See further :  
 

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