By WrLnELMiXA Sherbut Badt. J
Turkey's current history astonishes the , "world. The despot whose title has expressed the utmost absolutism of cruelty now announces himself as a constitutional monarch, and law and order appear to be establishing themselves under the new J regime of the "unspeakable." Developments many and jnarveiloun have already ensued, and Europe, Asia, and. Africa may be said to be on the gui vive for what shall happen next. One result has occurred very quietly, altogether unremarked by ±he cablegrc-mmeis. Yet it is a result ' : "which is likely to overshadow all the others— as the rimn overshadows the lycopodium at its base. ' Authoritative information, privately received, tells that Abdul Boha, the leader o£ Behai&m, has been liberated from lifelong captivity in Akka, the Acre of the ', Crusaders. _ | WLafc is Behaism? It is a i«eligioiiß movement, originating in Persia, which has spread from East 'to West among.millions of adherents, and which possesses an honour roll of more than 20,000 martyrs tortured and slain within our own tfanes iqr fidelity to their faith. On the 23rd of May, 1844 — that veer considered epochal' by students of* Biblical prophecy — a young man appeared in Persia who styled himself the "Bab (Arabic and Persian, "Gate"), and who proclaimed the coming of "Him whom God shall manifest." Th-o Bab, Mirza-Ali-Maliramnc'd, was a direct descendant of Mohammed, of singularly beautiful appearance, who had been noted during his 25 years oi existence, for intense spirituality. Kow> his utterances so deeply impressed a rapidlygrowing band of followers -that -the Moslem -clergy pronoimoed him a menace to Church and State. Persecutions ■began, and many Babia w-ere massacred. The Bab was imprisoned in one mountain fortress after another,-' 'brutally scottrged, and finally murdered. On -fehe Bth of July, 1850, he was suspended by ropes, and a regiment of soldiers was ordered to -fire on him. Its -volley merely cut the ropes. The order was repeated, but the regiment was awestricken, and refused obedience. Another regiment fulfilled the command, and the - lifeless body of the herald was laid in a moat outside the walls of Tabriz — with that of a believer who had chosen to share his doom. At noontide, Hadji-Suliman-Khan opened a sealed letter which fhe Bab had sent to hun six months previously, with injunctions that it ehould be read when a "grievous soriow and affliction" befell. This letter predicted the martyrdom and its precise date, and gave certain instructions. So, when darkness came, Hadji-Suliman-Khan and "other disciples bribed the £entinels in -charge, shrouded the two corpses -in white silk, and bore them .away lor interment in Teheran. Thus appeased to eudr the six-years' sninistsy of the Bab. With mortal eyes he had never beheld "Him whom God shall manifest," but bj exhortations and by epistles from Ids eyrie prisons he had incited such enthusiasm of expectancy that thousands upon thousands of men <amd women welcomed, for this cause truly awful ferocities of torture and massacre ; ■- ferocities too ghastly for narration on this page, yet welcomed with chants of devotion. The Persian "Bey an," written in tbe mountain of Maku, is the greatest book of the Bab. In it he ordained new laws and ordinances for ihe Babis ; dependent for jcontinuanoe, however, upon the will of "Him whom God shall mandfestr" ; and he discoursed upon the qualifications of .the Promised One. He wrote : "Blessed is he who will gaze upon the arrangement of Beha Ullah, for, verily, He 3hall inevitably appear." He foretold that this" appearance would date nine years after his own advent, and that declaration would be made 19 years after 1544. The martyrdom gave tremendous Impetus to.Babisui, and persecution more and more fiercely raged. A young man, maddened by sorrow, attempted to assassinate the Shah. He failed : "a pistol was fired, the horse bolted, Nass-er-Lfd-Din Shah fell fainting to the- ground, and the loyal attendants slew the youn^ man on the spot. Then began a terrible series of atrocities. There had been but one accomplice in the crime : the Babis as a body were as unaware of any conspiracy as the Shah himself. But, in Teheran, four score of them were seized and distributed among ihe various classes of citizens, to be tortured and murdered as the bookkeepers, •merchants, soldiers, learned doctors, carpenters, blacksmiths, etc., etc., should choose, with the purpose of sowing hatred between the Bahis and the Mohammedans ---of every degree. The resulting gehenna .certain remonstrances to the Shah-; l»nt arrests continued to be made, with indescribable imprisonments. Beha Ullah was a Persian of noble lineage, born in 1817. He had been profoundly impressed by the teachings of ihe Bab, and devoted 'himself to their dissemination, ifow, desiring to evince his grief and -horror that a Babi should have sought the life of the Shah, he rode forth to the summer palace. Immediately he wa# arrested, . cast into prison, and chained with other three men in such a way that the slightest movement of any member of the group compelled corresponding movement from ■" Bftca of the others. Four months passed ' Osm. At last the Shah was induced to consider tie absolute purity of his character and to -ar4 er -bis release from imprison.merit to eadle. Beha Ullah was sent to Baghdad, and tEe»e, in 1853, his power became apparent. T3ie Babis were disorganised and discouraged, but now they recognised a leader, and they flocked to him, remoulding their lives according to his precepts. After some time he «rithJrew to mountain solitudes, and spent two
years in meditation and prayer. Borne of his principal -followers having .caught him out, he returned with them to Baghdad, and taught the ever-increasing multitudes of learned and unlearned people who came to him from all parts of Persia and Arabia. The Mohammedan Mullahs petitioned the Ottoman Government to remove from their midst a man of such influence, and Beha. Ullah was summoned to Constantinople. Before departing, he publicly declared his mission : the establishment of peace and religious unity throughout the world ; and he commanded his immediate followers to be patient, self-restrained, and steadfast, striving in every way "to elevate and beautify their dispositions. With his retinue, -Bella Ullah was detained in Constantinople fo* about four months, ihen he wa-s sent still farther west from Persia — to Adrianople. From that city he wrote to the J?ope and the other rulers of Europe, exhorting them to cease from strife, and to help in establishing the kingdom of God and the brotherhood of man upon the earth, and prophesying xiertain events which, within a short'time, were .realised. The Papacy lost its temporal pcs&sssaons, Napoleon 111 went to Sedan, Abdul- Aziz was • deposed, etc., etc., according to "the predictions of those letters, which are, of j coursse,. historical archives. j After five years of Adrianople. Beha. j Ullah was ordered to Akka : ancient and j pestilential. For some time he and his band were confined within two looms of the barracks, under most distressful conditions. Gradually, however, the Governor softened, - and jyoarrje leniency wo.s j shown. . • The Babis and other disciplos who w-ei? ' debarred from personal communication j with Beha Ullah sent to him kUcrs of inquiry, and he respaoded with mara than a tnhousand "tablets" oi instruction. Besides many other compositions, he also wrote "The Book of Laws." In this I volume he calls upon the nations to coni- ' pose their difficflties by a board of artd I tration; he states that .the «word must for ever be laid aside ; that the Word must aiife. He urges the adoption of a universal language, "for," he says, "this is the means of union, if ye kiww it, and th<3 greatest source of concord and chi- ( lisatiun, did ye rt cognise it. Teach, this , comraou language to thj children in all , school?, that the whole world may be- ', come one land and one home. ' He com- ' mands his followers to ■educate their ohil- ' dran — boys and girit. — to train bhem in • ■maTaLs, and to mstruct them in sonve | craft, trade, or profession. Everyone : must practise in art or science or business, j and diligent conscientioueness in affairs | will be legaided .as the highest worship and prayer. Gambling a-nd all intoxicants are denounced ; cleanlirjess is forcibly and ■ explicitly commandied. Asceticism afid celibacy are condsmaied. Religion is £c be joy and gladness : Behais are to - associate with all the people of tha world, and ; to show forth to others whatever good j things they possess. Animals We to be treated with kindness and con&ideration. Unity is the grandly pervasive idea. Beha Ullah says : "Ye are all the fruits of one tree." And again : "Glory not in | love of your country, glory rather in lov© ; of your kind." The first instruction given to a Beha is : "Do not denounce or antagonise any religion; God is to every human being as great as tibe individual mental capacity permits one to see him. '". . . O children of Beha! associate | with "all the people of the world, with i men of all religions, in concord and harmony, in the spirit of perfect joy and I fraraance. Remind them, also, of that wihich is for the benefit of all, but beware lest ye make the Woi»d of God the cause of opposition and stumbling, or the source of hatred among you. If je have a word or an essence which am/ther has ret, say [ it to him with tbe tongue of love and | kindne3&. If it be accepted and impressed j ( the" end is attained ; if not, leave him \ ' to himself and pray for him, but do not molest him. The -tongue of kindness is attractive to the heart, and it is the swoixi of the Spirit; it xurnisu&i tbe true i relation of thought to utterance ; it is as ■ the horizon for the arising of the sun , lof Wisdom and Knowledge. . . . Crea-.J tures were. created through love, let them live in friejKlshjtp and -unity." Having thus taugfct and exhorted throughout 40 years, ,Be-ha Ullali commanded h's followers to turn to his eon for leadership, and passed from the dur- | ance of stone walls and oi the flesh iii 1892. Abbas Effendi was bom on the day of the Bub's advent, May 25. 1844. In hiceeedniii his father he assumed the name of Abdul Beha: the Seivant of <J<od. He has been seen in the Akka pris-nn by a constant stream of visitoi- from the Orient and the Occident : Mohammedans. Zoroas--trians, Buddhists, Brahmans, Jew?, un-J Christians have met at his simple boa id in peace and harmony. They give but one report : love and kindziess- radiate from Abdul Beha ; even scepticism melts »wav from his presence, as care ard sorrow* do. He, the prisoner, has be*n counsellor, helper, healer, to myiiad& — by his spoken and by his written word. In the ordinary sen&e quite unlearned, fie answers every question addressed to him immediately and luminously. Politics he abjures: he teaches obedience to government. He discountenances every kind of warfare except that against selfishness. _ The Sultan of Turkey has liberated Abdul Beha, who may now "be expected to yisit the Behai communities of the East and of the West. Regarding those communities, three testimonies may here be adduced. . M. Hippolyte Dreyfus, of Paris, on returning from Persia, wrote: "I found among the inhabitants of Teheran and other cities all those imbued with liberal and progressive views weTe Behai*:' Mr Myron H. Phelp?, of New York, told that "the Behais are lovers of tied. Hovers of their Master and Teacher, of each other, and of all mankind." Professor Brown, the English ' historian of Persian literature, said: "The
spirit which pervad.es tba Behais is such, that it- can hardly fail to affect most powerfully all subjected to its influence. Let those who have not seen disbelieve me if they will, but should that spirit once reveal itself to them they will experience an emotion they are not likely to forgetr"l>f the Persian martyrdoms, Professor Brown, of Cambridge, Huxley, and Renan have written that they may be paralleled in history, but they cannot be surpassed. One saintly heroine— -Kurratul-Ayn— has pioneered the emancipation of Oriental womanhood, in experiences as courageous and as pathetic as those of Joan of Arc. To Abdul Beha milions of hearts are pending this day vibrations of gratitude and devotion. He directs a power incomparably greater than that of any mere earthly potentate : a power which is makiag for the oneness of mankind. Such is Behaism!
[Note.— The -writer of the above article will be pleased to furnish the details of Behaism to sinoere inquirers.]
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BEHAISM., Otago Witness, Issue 2859, 30 December 1908
BEHAISM. Otago Witness, Issue 2859, 30 December 1908
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