This brief article gathers together appreciations of the Báb penned by prominent individuals such as the novelist Leo Tolstoy and statesman George Nathaniel Curzon.
“I have known about the Bábís for a long time, and have always been interested in their teachings. It seems to me that these teachings, as well as all the rationalistic social religious teachings that have arisen lately out of the original teachings of Brahmanism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam distorted by the priests, have a great future for this very reason that these teachings, discarding all these distorting incrustations that cause division, aspire to unite into one common religion of all mankind.
Therefore, the teachings of the Bábís, inasmuch as they have rejected the old Muhammadan superstitions and have not established new superstitions which would divide them from other new superstitions…and inasmuch as they keep to the principal fundamental ideas of brotherhood, equality and love, have a great future before them.
… I therefore sympathize with Babiism with all my heart inasmuch as it teaches people brotherhood and equality and sacrifice of material life for service to God.”
“Tales of magnificent heroism illumine the bloodstained pages of Bábí history. Ignorant and unlettered as many of its votaries are, and have been, they are yet prepared to die for their religion, and fires of Smithfield did not kindle a nobler courage than has met and defied the more refined torture-mongers of Tihran. Of no small account, then, must be the tenets of a creed that can awaken in its followers so rare and beautiful a spirit of self-sacrifice. From the facts that Babiism in its earliest years found itself in conflict with the civil powers and that an attempt was made by Bábís upon the life of the Shah, it has been wrongly inferred that the movement was political in origin and Nihilist in character. It does not appear from a study of the writings either of the Báb or his successors, that there is any foundation for such a suspicion…
The charge of immorality seems to have arisen partly from the malignant inventions of opponents, partly from the much greater freedom claimed for women by the Báb, which in the oriental mind is scarcely dissociable from profligacy of conduct…
The pure and suffering life of the Báb, his ignominious death, the heroism and martyrdom of his followers, will appeal to many others who can find no similar phenomena in the contemporaneous records of Islam….”
— Persia, Vol. 1 (1892)
“The story of the Báb…was the story of spiritual heroism unsurpassed… If a young man could, in only six years of ministry, by the sincerity of his purpose and the attraction of his personality, so inspire rich and poor, cultured and illiterate, alike with belief in himself and his doctrines that they would remain staunch though hunted down and without trial sentenced to death, sawn asunder, strangled, shot, blown from guns; and if men of high position and culture in Persia, Turkey and Egypt in numbers to this day adhere to his doctrines; his life must be one of those events in the last hundred years which is really worthy of study…”
— The Gleam (1923)
“That the movement which bears the apostolic name of the religious martyr who was put to death at Tabriz more than half a century ago is still a living force in Persia is almost universally recognised. But to what extent and in what shape that force is likely to make itself decisively felt opinions differ very largely…
…Socially one of the most interesting features…is the raising of women to a much higher plane than she is usually admitted to in the East. The Báb himself had no more devoted a disciple than the beautiful and gifted lady, known as Kurrat-el-Ain, the ‘Consolation of the Eyes,’ who, having shared all the dangers of the first apostolic missions in the north, challenged and suffered death with virile fortitude…No memory is more deeply venerated or kindles greater enthusiasm than hers, and the influence which she wielded in her lifetime still enures to her sex. That women, whom orthodox Islam barely credits with the possession of a soul, are freely admitted to the meetings of Babis, gives their enemies, the Mullahs, ample occasion to blaspheme. But they have never produced a tittle of evidence in support of the vague charges of immorality they are wont to bring against the followers of the new creed. Communism and socialism are also often imputed to them, and some of them appear to have borrowed from the West the terminology of advanced democracy.”