From what is now known regarding the Mohammedan revival and Church union contemplated by Jemal-ed-Din, it is obvious that the idea of any connection between Babism and the crime at Shah Abdul Azim is out of the question, for the Babis of Persia and Jemal-ed-Din’s followers have little or nothing in common. I have already told how the former are averse to violent measures, practise no public preaching, and suffer in silence, while the latter we know shout aloud and try to terrorize.
When Nadir Shah accepted the throne, he insisted on the abandonment of the Shiah schism and reunion with the Sunni faith, and he went to extreme lengths in suppressing the unwillingness of the clergy to accept the arbitrary decree which he issued in proclaiming his mandate. His attempt to bridge the great gulf between the hostile creeds entirely failed, and the Persians remained Shiahs. Freedom of thought and liberty of speech are national characteristics and privileges, and with minds never thoroughly subjected to severe Church discipline, the people have been ever ready to indulge in free criticisms on religious and other matters. They had no desire to study a new religion, even at the command of their King, and, judging that any change would be irksome, they sided with the Moullas, and without display refused to be Sunnis. Nadir’s devotion to ambition was greater than his love of religion, and his object in trying to drive all into one creed was to remove the obstacles to the progress of his Imperial power among the Sunnis of India, Afghanistan, Central Asia, and Asia Minor. On issuing his mandate to form the Shiahs into a new branch of the true faith, he intimated to the Emperor of Constantinople his high aim at general concord among Mohammedans.
Islam, as it was forced on Persia, was the faith of foreign conquerors and oppressors, so it never has had the same considerable influence on the people as elsewhere. This, taken with their habits of freedom of thought and love of romance and poetry, inclined them to champion the Shiah schism, which, on the fall of the Arab power, they adopted for their National Church. I refer to this in connection with what is now reported of Jemal-ed-Din’s relations with the chiefs of the State Church party at Constantinople, for in his preachings in Persia there were clear signs of movement towards a great Mohammedan revival, which was to restore Islam to its old dominant position in the world.
THE SITUATION IN PERSIA (1896).
—The Shah Mozuffer-ed-Din
—His previous position at Tabriz
—Character and disposition
—Accession to the throne
—Previous accessions in the Kajar Dynasty
—Regalia and crown jewels
—Position of the late Shah’s two sons,
Zil-es-Sultan and Naib-es-Sultaneh
—The Sadr Azem (Grand Vazir)
—Prompt action on the death of the late Shah.