Touching the individual known as the Báb and the true nature of this sect diverse tales are on the tongues and in the mouths of men, and various accounts are contained in the pages of Persian history and the leaves of European chronicles. But because of the variety of their assertions and the diversity of their narratives not one is as worthy of confidence as it should be. Some have loosed their tongues in extreme censure and condemnation; some foreign chronicles have spoken in a commendatory strain; while a certain section have recorded what they themselves have heard without addressing themselves either to censure or approbation.
Now since these various accounts are recorded in other pages, and since the setting forth thereof would lead to prolixity, therefore what relates to the history of this matter (sought out with the utmost diligence during the time of my travels in all parts of Persia, whether far or near, from those without and those within, from friends and strangers), and that whereon the disputants are agreed, shall be briefly set forth in writing, so that a summary of the facts of the case may be at the disposal of those who are athirst after the fountain of knowledge and who seek to become acquainted with all events.
The Báb was a young merchant of the Pure Lineage. He was born in the year one thousand two hundred and thirty-five [A.H.] on the first day of Muharram, (1) and when after a few years His father Siyyid Muhammad-Ridá died, He was brought up in Shíráz in the arms of His maternal uncle Mírzá Siyyid `Alí the merchant. On attaining maturity He engaged in trade in Búshihr, first in partnership with His maternal uncle and afterwards independently. On account of what was observed in Him He was noted for godliness, devoutness, virtue, and piety, and was regarded in the sight of men as so characterized.
In the year one thousand two hundred and sixty [A.H.], when He was in His twenty-fifth year, certain signs became apparent in His conduct, behavior, manners, and demeanor whereby it became evident in Shíráz that He had some conflict in His mind and some other flight beneath His wing. He began to speak and to declare the rank of Báb-hood. (2) Now what He intended by the term Báb [Gate] was this, that He was the channel of grace from some great Person still behind the veil of glory, Who was the possessor of countless and boundless perfections, by Whose will He moved, and to the bond of Whose love He clung. And in the first book which He wrote in explanation of the Súrih of Joseph, (3) He addressed Himself in all passages to that Person unseen from Whom He received help and grace, sought for aid in the arrangement of His preliminaries, and craved the sacrifice of life in the way of His love.
Amongst others is this sentence: "O Remnant of God, I am wholly sacrificed to Thee; I am content with curses in Thy way; I crave naught but to be slain in Thy love; and God the Supreme sufficeth as an Eternal Protection."
He likewise composed a number of works in explanation and elucidation of the verses of the Qur'án, of sermons, and of prayers in Arabic; inciting and urging men to expect the appearance of that Person; and these books He named "Inspired Pages" and "Word of Conscience." But on investigation it was discovered that He laid no claim to revelation from an angel.