Ch.III, p.82, f.2

"One of the most distinguished families of Qazvin--and by this I mean most distinguished by the number of high offices which their various members held in the ecclesiastical hierarchy, as well as by their reputation for science--was, without doubt, the family of Haji Mulla Salih-i-Baraqani who received after his death the title of ` Shahid-i-Thalith', that is to say, `the third martyr.' We shall review their early history in order to make clear the role which they played in the religious dissensions of Persia, as well as in the catastrophe which was fatally to develop the arrogant character of the brother of Mulla Salih. When the great Mujtahid Aqa Siyyid Muhammad arrived at Qazvin, someone asked him if Haji Mulla Salih-i-Baraqani was a Mujtahid. `Assuredly,' replied the Siyyid, and that all the more so since Salih was one of his former students who towards the last had followed the teachings of Aqa Siyyid Ali. `Very well,' replied his questioner, `but his brother Muhammad-Taqi, is he also worthy of the sacred title?' Aqa Siyyid Muhammad replied by praising the qualities and the science of Taqi but avoiding a precise answer to the direct question put to him. However, this did not prevent the questioner from spreading abroad in the city the news that Siyyid Muhammad himself acknowledged Taqi as a Master whom he had declared Mujtahid in his presence. "Now Siyyid Muhammad had gone to live with one of his colleagues, Haji Mulla Abdu'l-Vahhab. The latter learned quickly of the news which was thus noised abroad and he immediately summoned before him the questioner of the Siyyid whom he reproached severely in the presence of witnesses. Naturally, the rumor spread from tongue to tongue until it reached Taqi, who became furious and declared each time he heard the name of Mulla Abdu'l-Vahhab,--`I only respect him because he is the son of my blessed Master.' "Siyyid Muhammad, having been informed of all these incidents and of all the rumors, and realizing that he had saddened the heart of Taqi, came one day to invite him to luncheon; he treated him with great respect, wrote for him his brevet of Mujtahid and, this same day, accompanied him to the Mosque. The prayer over, he sat down on the steps of the pulpit where he spoke the praises of Taqi and confirmed him in his new dignity, in the presence of the entire assembly. It happened that, a little later, Shaykh Ahmad-i-Ahsa'i passed through Qazvin. This personage, said to be the very pious author of ` Qisasu'l-'Ulama,' was declared impious because he had endeavored to reconcile philosophy and religious law, `and everyone knows that in most cases to try to blend religious law with intelligence is an impossibility.' Be that as it may, Shaykh Ahmad rose high above his contemporaries, many men sharing his opinions. He had followers in all the cities of Persia and the Shah Fath-'Ali treated him with great deference, while Akhund Mulla Ali said of him, `He is an ignorant man with a pure heart.' "While in Qazvin, he sojourned in the house of Mulla Abdu'l-Vahhab who was henceforth to be the enemy of the Baraqani family. He went to worship in the Mosque of the parish and the ulamas of Qazvin came to pray under his guidance. He naturally returned all the visits and courtesies extended to him by these holy men, was on good terms with them and soon it became known that his host was one of his disciples. One day he went to call upon Haji Mulla Taqi-i-Baraqani who received him apparently with profound respect, but took advantage of the opportunity to ask him some insidious questions. `Regarding the resurrection of the dead on the Day of Judgment,' he asked, `do you share the opinion of Mulla Sadra?' `No,' replied Shaykh Ahmad. Then Taqi, calling his youngest brother Haji Mulla Ali, said: `Go to my library and bring me the Shavahid-i-Rububiyyih of Mulla Sadra.' Then, as Haji Mulla was slow to return, he said to Shaykh Ahmad: `Although I do not agree with you on this subject, I am nevertheless curious to know your opinion on the matter.' The Shaykh replied, `Nothing would be easier. My conviction is that the resurrection will not take place with our material bodies but with their essence, and by essence I mean, for example, the glass which is potentially in the stone.' "Excuse me,' Taqi replied maliciously, `but this essence is different from the material body and you know that it is a dogma in our holy religion to believe in the resurrection of the material body.' The Shaykh remained silent and it was in vain that one of his pupils, a native of Turkistan, endeavored to divert the conversation by starting a discussion which was likely to be a lengthy one, but the blow was dealt and Shaykh Ahmad withdrew, convinced that he had been compromised. It was not long before he realized that his conversation had been carefully related by Taqi for, that very day, when he went to the Mosque to pray he was followed only by Abdu'l-Vahhab. A misunderstanding was broiling and threatened to break, but Abdu'l-Vahhab, thinking he had found a way to smooth things over and remove all the difficulties, entreated his Master to write and publish a book in which he would affirm the resurrection of the material body. But he had not taken into account the hatred of Taqi. In fact, Shaykh Ahmad did write the treatise, which still may be found in his book entitled ` Ajvibatu'l-Masa'il' but no one cared to read it and his impiety was noised abroad increasingly from day to day. It came to the point where the Governor of the city, Prince Ali-Naqi Mirza Ruknu'd-Dawlih, considering the importance of the personages involved in the controversy and afraid being blamed for allowing this dissension to grow, resolved to bring about an agreement. "One night, he invited all the celebrated Ulamas of the city to a great banquet. Shaykh Ahmad was given the seat of honor and close to him, only separated by one person, was Taqi. Platters were brought, prepared for three people, so that the two enemies found that they were obliged to eat together, but the irreconcilable Taqi turned toward the platter of his neighbors on his right hand and to the great consternation of the Prince, he placed his left hand over the left side of his face in such a manner that he could not possibly see Shaykh Ahmad. After the banquet which proved rather dull, the Prince, still determined to reconcile the two adversaries, bestowed great praise on Shaykh Ahmad, acknowledging him as the great Arabian and Persian Doctor and saying that Taqi should show him the greatest respect; that it was not proper for him to give ear to the gossip of men eager to create conflict between two exceptional minds. Taqi interrupted him violently and declared with great contempt, `There can be no peace between impiety and faith! Concerning the resurrection the Shaykh holds a doctrine opposed to the religion of Islam, ( Islamic law) therefore, whoever holds such a doctrine is an impious one and what can such a rebel and I have in common?' "The Prince insisted and entreated in vain, but Taqi refused to yield and they all adjourned." (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Siyyid Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab," pp. 263-267.)