|Edward Granville Browne
in Persian Dress
Professor Browne in his ‘A Year Amongst the Persians’ queries a Baha’i in the town of Yazd on the murder of the Bayanis by Baha’s men in Acre who describes the killings and Abbas Effendi’s efforts to release the murderers from prison which he succeeds:
I said, when we were alone, “will you tell me more fully about the murder of the seven Ezelis who were sent with Beha and his followers to Acre? You mentioned the fact a few days ago, and added that you had seen the assassins yourself during your stay there, and that they still received their prison allowance, though at large, and wore gyves on their ankles.”
“Yes,” replied the Sheykh, who had drunk enough ‘arak’ to render him communicative, and not enough to make him incoherent, “they were twelve in number who slew the Ezelis, and nine of them were still living when I was at Acre. This was the way of it. When Beha advanced his claim at Adrianople, and his half-brother, Subh-i-Ezel, refused to admit it, the Babis were divided into two factions, some going with the former, and some holding fast to the latter. So high did the feeling run that the matter ended in open strife, and two Ezelis and one Beha’i were killed. So the Turkish Government determined to separate the two, and arranged to banish Mirza Yahya (Subh-i- Ezel) and his followers to a town in Cyprus near the sea-shore, of which I cannot now remember the name, and Mirza Huseyn ‘Ali (Beha’u’llah), with his family and adherents, to Acre. But, knowing the two factions to be on the worst possible terms, it occurred to them that it would be advantageous to themselves to keep a few of each in the stronghold of the other, so that, should any Persian or other traveller come to Acre or Cyprus with the intention of visiting Beha or Ezel, these adherents of the rival claimant to supreme power might co-operate with the governrnent in throwing obstacles in his way. So they sent three of Beha’s followers (one of whom, Mushkin-Kalam, so-called from his extraordinary skill in calligraphy, is still  alive) to Cyprus with Ezel, and seven Ezelis with Beha to Acre.
|Azali Community of Iran|
“Now as far as concerned Ezel this plan worked well enough, for Mushkin-Kalam set up a little coffee-house at the port where travellers must needs arrive, and whenever he saw a Persian land, he would invite him in, give him tea or coffee and a pipe, and gradually worm out of him the business which had brought him thither. And if his object were to see Subh-i-Ezel, off went Mushkin-Kalam to the authorities, and the pilgrim soon found himself packed out of the island. But at Acre it was different. The seven Ezelis: Aka Jan, called ‘Kaj-Kulah’ (‘Skew-Cap’) who had served with distinction in the Turkish artilley; Haji Seyyid Muhammad of Isfahan, one of the original companions of the Bab; Mirza Riza, nephew of the last, and a scion of the same royal race of the Safavis (for both were descended from Shah ‘Abbas the Great); Mirza Haydar ‘Ali of Ardistan, a wonderful fire-brand (atashi gharib), beside whom our mutual friend Mirza Muhammad Bakir of Bawanat was no more than a spark; Haji Seyyid Huseyn of Kashan; and two others, whose names I forget–lived all together in a house situated near the gate of the city. Well, one night, about a month after their arrival at Acre, the twelve Beha’is of whom I have spoken determined to kill them, and so prevent them from doing any mischief. So they went at night, armed with swords and daggers, to the house where the Ezelis lodged, and knocked at the door. Aka Jan came down to open to them, and was stabbed before he could cry out or offer the least resistance. He was a young man, but very strong, so that once in the Russian war he had without aid picked up a cannon-ball and thrown it into the mouth of the gun. Then they entered the house and killed the other six.
“When the Turks heard what had been done, they imprisoned Beha and all his family and followers in the Caravansaray, but the twelve assassins came forward and surrendered themselves, saying, ‘We killed them without the knowledge of our Master or any of our brethren; punish us, then, not them.’ So they were imprisoned for a while; but afterwards, at the intercession of ‘Abbas Effendi, Beha’s eldest son, were suffered to be at large, on condition only of remaining in Acre, and wearing steel fetters on their ankles for a time.”
“It was a horrible deed,” I remarked.