With the advent of neocolonialism and the introduction of imperialists to remote countries, a flood of researchers from imperialistic governments, particularly Britain and the Czarist Russia, began pouring into Islamic countries and, under various pretexts, primarily set to learning the different dimensions of the culture of the Islamic nations and peoples. Mr. Hemfer (founder of Wahabism and the instigator of Mohammad Ben Abdul-Wahab), in his memoirs, says: "The British Foreign Minister told me that about 5000 spies and experts on cultural issues had been deployed in the remotest parts of the world to obtain sufficient intelligence on nations and their customs and traditions" (from the Memoirs of Mr. Hemfer). On the other hand, the Ottoman Empire which was gradually being weakened, had turned into a field of rivalries between the British and the Russians, each trying to pave the way for its own future domination by penetrating intellectual, political and social groups.
One of the best known conspiracies by the imperialists in this connection was this same issue of "religion making, sectarianism and creating gaps in the Muslim ranks", just as the history of coming into existence of many of the present beliefs, concepts and parties in the Islamic countries go back to those days (such as Zionism in the Middle East, Babism, Bahá’ism and Kasravism in Iran, etc.).
Bahá’ism was a rather successful experience by imperialism and the enemies of Islam, although it did not prove much benefit to its original promoter, Russia. Since its genesis, however, it has acted as a political party, opposed to Islam, disuniting people and paving the way for the superpowers' penetration into Islamic countries, especially Iran. Here, we shall endeavour to describe the background which caused the Russian government to exploit it to create a new faith called Bahá’ism.
Following the death in 1825 of Shaikh Ahmad Ahsa’i who had managed to launch a new school of thought, called Shaikhiya, in Iraq's Shia teaching centres during the tumultuous atmosphere of the time between the Osoolis (those believing in rational principles to understand the rules of scripture) and the Akhbaris (those who believed in traditional narratives without applying intellect or rational principles), the ground-work had been laid by Shaikh Ahmad Ahsa’i for misuse by imposters by virtue of omitting two precepts, namely "resurrection" and "justice", from the religious precepts and their replacement by a fourth precept called "the fourth pillar" (belief in the existence of a deputy and direct link between the Imam and the people during the Imam's absence). Following his death, his disciple, Sayyid Kazim Rashti, attempted to propagate his ideas, thereby gradually increasing the gap between the mullahs of the new sect and those of Shi'ism. Sayyid Kazim Rashti, who, according to many historians and history books, was not from Rasht but from Vladivostok in Russia and was a political agent of the Russian government, had in his class a young man from Shiraz, named "Mirza Ali Mohammad".
After Seyed Kazem's death, `Alí Muḥammad Shírází claimed deputyship and attracted some people around himself in Iraq. Among his disciples, there was a man by the name of Sheikh Issa Lankarani whose real name, according to his own confessions and the documents published by Czarist Russia, was Kiniaz Dolgorouki who, in the beginning, during the rule of Fat'h Ali Shah, had been an employee and a translator of the Russian Embassy in Tehran. He had then gone to Russia and, upon his return to Guilan, had introduced himself as a Muslim by the name of Issa Lankarani. Wearing the clergy attire, he went to Iraq on an intelligence mission for his government to gather intelligence about the above-mentioned circumstances in the Iraqi religious teaching centres. There he attended the classes taught by `Alí Muḥammad Shírází who claimed to be the deputy of the absent Imam Mahdi. This same person (by the fictitious name of Sheikh Issa) was later sent to Tehran as the Russian ambassador, at which time he supported the Bahá’i movement in Iran and, according to admissions by Bahá’is, was the cause of Bahá's release from prison.
`Alí Muḥammad Shírází’s psychological disorder, his strong ambitions for leadership, continual instigations by Sheikh Issa (Dolgorouki), and the susceptible circumstances created by Sayyid Kazim Rashti all united to induce Ali Mohammad to proclaim himself the justice-administering world saviour by pretending to be the "Promised Mahdi of Islam", and thereby attract the wretched and oppressed people to his beguiling mirage, which caused three civil wars in three sensitive regions of our country and shed much blood.
In his confessions in this respect, Mr. Dolgorouki has written: "... I gradually approached him and became one of his closest friends. I invited him to my house several times, where I mixed his water-pipe tobacco with Indian hemp juice and hashish. During his ecstatic moods I encouraged him to stand up against the Shia mullahs and to claim superiority."
Such circumstances gave rise to Ali Mohammad's claim of Mahdism and even prophecy and divinity and so a new sect called "Babism" (which later changed to Bahá’ism by Mírzá Ḥusayn-`Alí's claim) was created by `Alí Muḥammad Shírází and, in fact, under the leadership of the Russian spy. Ali Mohammad Báb's propagation of superstitious and sacreligious ideas sent him to prison. However he was released from prison by Manouchehr Khan Motamedodoleh, the governor of Isfahan who was born an Armenian and was from Georgia in Russia and, with the Russian Government's help, had penetrated the Qajar establishment as an enemy and had a deep dislike for Isfahan's Shia mullahs. Manouchehr Khan brought Báb to Isfahan and provided him with propaganda facilities. As stated in "Summarized History" by Nabil Zarandi, "Manouchehr Khan himself endeavoured hard to spread the faith". Dolgorouki has written in his book: "As soon as I received information that Báb had arrived in Isfahan, I wrote a friendly letter to Isfahan Governor Motamedodoleh, asking him to protect him as my good, respected friend."
As is evident, the agents of Czarist Russian government spared no effort to protect him and to spread the new faith. Even when, under pressure from Iranian mullahs and the people of Isfahan, the then Prime Minister, Mirza Aghasi, in a letter to the governor of Isfahan, ordered him to arrest and exile Báb to Maku, Manouchehr Khan refused to enforce the order. "Sayyah's Personal Memoirs", a book written by Abbas Effendi (the third Bahá’i leader), states on page 16: "... [Manouchehr Khan] sent him out of Isfahan with a group of his riders. When they reached Mourchehkhort, they were secretly ordered to return to Isfahan, where he securely sheltered him in his own house."
This fact was divulged after Manouchehr Khan's death, when Báb was exiled to Maku. After some time he was imprisoned in the Chehrig Castle, and finally in 1850, he was hanged in Tabriz after trial. Although Báb expressly repented twice, his real instigators, the Russian agents, did not allow the disturbance to die down and, even to his death, encouraged him to make baseless claims of disuniting effect.
During `Alí Muḥammad Shírází's imprisonment, unpleasant events took place at the hands of Babis in Zanjan. Ghazvin and Mazandaran at foreign instigation and by the makings of people such as Mirza Hossein Ali (a pleasure-seeking Iranian who took over the leadership of this new religion, claimed Babism and later claimed to be Bahá’u’lláh and even God) as well as a prostitute by the name of Qaralein. History is ashamed to relate such events. The blood of hundreds of innocent men, women and children was spilled. The political disorder at the time, the Shah's chronic illness, repercussions of the instability of his reign, the Qajar family's quarrels over the throne, the existence of ignorant and oppressive governors and incompetent clergy, prevalence of religious gains, the uprising by the Afghan people, British support for separation of the Afghani region, dispersion of Iran's 60 thousand man army as a result of British threats, expansion of the influence exercised by the Russian. British and French embassies in Iran, and riots by the people of Khorassan against the ruling prince created such an atmosphere that enabled the Babis to strengthen themselves and thereby give rise to the bloody events at Sheikh Tabassi Castle as well as the tragic events in Tabriz and Zanjan. Amir Kabir who sensed British and Russian imperialism to be behind such events, decided to crush them. However, in the wake of his death, foreign embassies proceeded with their schemes until 8 Shawal 1268 (August 1852) when the Babis tried in vain to assissinate Nassereddin Shah. Following this attempt. Mírzá Ḥusayn-`Alí was arrested, convicted and senteced to death. However, he was released from prison at the Russian ambassador's support and mediation and was saved from certain death at the recommendation of Emperor Nicoleevitch Alexander ll" (1) whereupon he was exiled to Iraq with the remnants of the Babis. During their ten years in Baghdad, they continued with their sedition, causing disunity and diversity among the Muslim community as well as committing crimes, most of which are recorded in history books. They were finally summoned to Constantinople by the Ottoman Government. The fact is that the Ottoman government initially sought to use them as a means to weaken the Iranian Government. But, as soon as it found out about their secret connections with the Russian and British embassies in Turkey, it put a stop to their activities, and finally, under pressure from the people who had grown impatient with their atrocities, it divided them into two groups, one of which, called Babia. headed by "Sobhe Azal", was exiled to Cyprus, and the other group, headed by Mirza Hossein Ali, was exiled to Akka in Palestine. The Babia group in Cyprus abandoned its activities and is now almost extinct. But Mirza Hossein Ali in Palestine, with the help of the British government, who were at war with the Ottoman gSvernment, as well as Abbas Effendi's activities and his trips to Europe and America and the support he received from the Zionists who contemplated to set up a government and to occupy Palestine, was able to set up an organization in Palestine, modelled on European political parties, at a site called "Beitol Adl" (House of Justice) in Haifa. This same establishment gradually became an authority for taking decisions on Bahá’i activities in all countries, and was turned into a fundamental pillar for establishment and entrenchment of the regime occupying Quds (Jerusalem). Following Mirza Hossein Ali's death, Abbas Effendi and Shoghi Effendi respectively took over the leadership of the affiliated party.