Hájí Mírzá Karím Khán

Hájí Mírzá Karím Khán,* who had assumed the leadership of the Shaykhí community after the death of his illustrious teacher Siyyid Kázim-i-Rashtí, was one of the divines of Islám whom Bahá'u'lláh admonished in the Kitáb-i-Íqán.

His assumption of such a position was clearly in conflict with the instructions of Siyyid Kázim who had repeatedly exhorted his followers to abandon their studies after his passing, detach themselves from earthly things and scatter far and wide in search of the Promised One. A number of ambitious men, however, did not follow this exhortation and Hájí Mírzá Karím Khán was one of these. His unfaithfulness and insincerity were clear to many, especially to Siyyid Kázim. Nabíl-i-A'zam has recorded these words in his Narratives:

I have heard Shaykh Abú-Turáb† recount the following: '...As to Hájí Mírzá Karím Khán, who for years sat at the feet of Siyyid Kázim and acquired from him all his so-called learning, in the end he obtained leave from his master to settle in Kirmán, and there engage in the promotion of the interests of Islám and the dissemination of those traditions that clustered round the sacred memory of the Imáms of the Faith.

'I was present in the library of Siyyid Kázim when, one day, an attendant of Hájí Mírzá Karím Khán arrived, holding a book in his hand, which he presented to the Siyyid on behalf of his master, requesting him to peruse it and to signify


* His full name was Hájí Mírzá Muhammad-Karím Khán-i-Kirmání.

† One of the leading disciples of Siyyid Kázim; he died as a Bábí in the prison of Tihrán.

["Karím"...] The Kitáb-i-Aqdas Note 182; The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh vol. 1 p. 186, vol. 2 p. 390, p. 438, vol. 3 p.255
in his own handwriting his approval of its contents. The Siyyid read portions of that book, and returned it to the attendant with this message: "Tell your master that he, better than anyone else, can estimate the value of his own book." The attendant had retired when the Siyyid, with sorrowful voice, remarked: "Accursed be he! For years he has been associated with me, and now that he intends to depart, his one aim, after so many years of study and companionship, is to diffuse, through his book, such heretical and atheistic doctrines as he now wishes me to endorse. He has covenanted with a number of self-seeking hypocrites with the view of establishing himself in Kirmán, and in order to assume, after my departure from this world, the reins of undisputed leadership. How grievously he erred in his judgment! For the breeze of divine Revelation, wafted from the Day-Spring of guidance, will assuredly quench his light and destroy his influence. The tree of his endeavour will eventually yield naught but the fruit of bitter disillusion and gnawing remorse. Verily I say, you shall behold this with your own eyes. My prayer for you is that you may be protected from the mischievous influence which he, the antichrist of the promised Revelation, will in future exercise." ' 1

No sooner did Hájí Mírzá Karím Khán announce his leadership of the Shaykhí community than a considerable number of Shaykhís throughout the country followed him and began their campaign of opposition against the newly-born Faith of God.

This ambitious man, lusting for fame and leadership, claimed for himself an exalted position in the Faith of Islám, namely, that he was the Rukn-i-Rábi', the 'fourth pillar' of that Faith.* This pretentious claim, however, evoked the wrath of the divines and he was forced to withdraw by publishing a statement in two of his epistles.

The Báb, soon after His Declaration, sent an envoy to Hájí


* The other three pillars are God, the Prophet Muhammad and the Holy Imáms.

1. Nabíl-i-A'zam, The Dawn-Breakers, pp. 29-30 (Brit.), pp. 39-40 (U.S.).
Mírzá Karím Khán informing him of His station as the Báb and summoning him to embrace His Faith. But he persisted in his denunciation of it, published some books against the Cause, and till the end of his life tenaciously persevered in his determination to uproot its foundation. In the eyes of the Bábís, Hájí Mírzá Karím Khán stood as the embodiment of all the forces of darkness opposing the Army of Light.

On several occasions Bahá'u'lláh in His Writings has referred to Hájí Mírzá Karím Khán and condemned his actions. The well-known Lawh-i-Qiná' * (Tablet of the Veil), condemnatory in tone, was addressed to him. In the Kitáb-i-Íqán Bahá'u'lláh mentions him in these words: '...a certain man, reputed for his learning and attainments, and accounting himself as one of the pre-eminent leaders of his people, hath in his book denounced and vilified all the exponents of true learning.' Further, He has denounced him as a man who was 'following the path of self and desire, and was lost in the wilderness of ignorance and folly.'

Referring to his reputed knowledge Bahá'u'lláh states:

...I swear by God that not one breath, blowing from the meads of divine knowledge, hath ever been wafted upon his soul, nor hath he ever unravelled a single mystery of ancient wisdom. Nay, were the meaning of Knowledge ever to be expounded unto him, dismay would fill his heart, and his whole being would shake to its foundation. Notwithstanding his base and senseless statements, behold to what heights of extravagance his claims have reached!

Gracious God! How great is Our amazement at the way the people have gathered around him, and have borne allegiance to his person! Content with transient dust, these people have turned their face unto it, and cast behind their backs Him Who is the Lord of Lords. Satisfied with the croaking of the crow and enamoured with the visage of the raven, they have renounced the melody of the nightingale and the charm of the rose.2


* This Tablet will be referred to in a later volume.

2. Bahá'u'lláh, Kitáb-i-Íqán, pp. 120-1 (Brit.), pp. 188-9 (U.S.).
A remarkable interpretation by Bahá'u'lláh of certain verses of the Qur'án demonstrates that almost twelve hundred years before, Muhammad had denounced Hájí Mírzá Karím Khán. These are the words of Bahá'u'lláh in this connection:

And as to this man's attainments, his ignorance, understanding and belief, behold what the Book* which embraceth all things hath revealed: 'Verily, the tree of Zaqqúm† shall be the food of the Athím'.‡ And then follow certain verses, until He saith: 'Taste this, for thou forsooth art the mighty Karím!'§ Consider how clearly and explicitly he hath been described in God's incorruptible Book! This man, moreover, feigning humility, hath in his own book referred to himself as the ' Athím' servant': 'Athím' in the Book of God, mighty among the common herd, 'Karím' in name! 3

Hájí Mírzá Karím Khán wrote several books, all of which portray him as a haughty and vainglorious man proud of his learning and devoid of true understanding and wisdom. His unrelenting hostility to the Faith of the Báb features prominently in these books. He died in the year 1288 A.H. (A.D. 1873) on his way to the Holy Shrines of the Imáms in 'Iráq.

* Qur'án.

† The infernal tree.

‡ Literally, 'sinner'. (Qur'án XLIV. 43-4.) Hájí Mírzá Karím Khán for reasons of false modesty has referred to himself as 'Athím in his writings.

§ Qur'án XLIV. 49. 'Karím', which can be translated as 'noble', 'honourable' or 'bountiful', has been understood by commentators on the Qur'án to represent an attribute, but Bahá'u'lláh states that, in this verse, it was intended as the name of a man, Karím.

3. Bahá'u'lláh, Kitáb-i-Íqán, pp. 121-2 (Brit.), p. 190 (U.S.).