Read: Eminent Baha'is in the Time of Baha'u'llah

Eminent Baha'is in the Time of Baha'u'llah
Some Historical Background

by H. M. Balyuzi

OXFORD <pix>


The passing of the Hand of the Cause of God Hasan M. Balyuzi was
a great blow to the many people around the world who were admirers
of his writings. At the time of his death, he was half-way through
a monumental four-volume study of the life and times of the Founder
of the Baha'i Faith, Baha'u'llah. He had intended the first volume
in this series to contain the basic biography of Baha'u'llah,
together with some chapters on the history of nineteenth-century
Iran as a background for the events of Baha'i history. As this
volume grew in size, it was decided to transfer most of the
historical chapters to a later one. The first volume, with the
title Baha'u'llah, The King of Glory, was published shortly after
Mr Balyuzi's passing and contained three of the historical chapters
(10, 14 and Appendix).

Mr Balyuzi had planned the second volume to consist principally of
biographies of a selection of the most important disciples of
Baha'u'llah. By the time of his death, he had completed fourteen
of these, with a further four partially written. Shoghi Effendi,
the Guardian of the Baha'i Faith, had included in The Baha'i World,
Vol. III (pp. 80-81) the names of nineteen Baha'is whom he
designated as 'Apostles of Baha'u'llah'. Mr Balyuzi intended to
include all of these among his biographies. 'The Story of Badi",
one of these, was told in the first volume (Chapter 33). The life
of Mirza Musa, Aqay-i-Kalim, the brother of Baha'u'llah, another
of the Apostles, was so inextricably bound up with that of
Baha'u'llah Himself that it was, in effect, also covered in the
first volume. The life of yet another, Mirza
Abu'l-Fadl-i-Gulpaygani, Mr Balyuzi considered so momentous that
he felt he could not confine it to a mere chapter, and he asked the
present writer to prepare a separate book entirely on the life of
this notable figure. For the remaining sixteen Apostles, Mr Balyuzi
had, at the time of his passing, completed only three biographies
and partially written three more. In the last four months of his
life, however, he had come to realize that to include biographies
of all of the Apostles of Baha'u'llah, his second volume would
itself have to become two separate volumes. But his death
supervened and the <px> projected chapters remained unwritten. As a token of Mr Balyuzi's
intentions, the present writer has contributed short accounts of
the remaining Apostle of Baha'u'llah in Chapter 20, including Mirza
Abu'l-Fadl, and has briefly completed the three unfinished
biographies, as well as two other chapters. These additions are
clearly indicated in the text for Chapters 9, 13, 14, 17 and 18,
where the added material follows a line of asterisks.
It had also been Mr Balyuzi's intention to write a brief account
of Mirza Hasan, Mirzay-i-Shirazi, the greatest of the Shi'ih
mujtahids of his age, who, as would appear from the account in this
volume, bore secret allegiance to the Faith of Baha'u'llah. Since
most of the text of this chapter was to have been a translation of
Mirza Habibu'llah Afnan's account of his father's meeting with this
famous cleric, a curtailed version is included as Chapter 19. It
is clear from statements made in some of the existing chapters, as
well as from notes left among his papers, that a number of other
chapters had been contemplated, such as one on the Seven Martyrs
of Yazd and another on the Tihran persecutions of 1882-3.
For the third volume of this series, Mr Balyuzi had envisaged an
ambitious project. He would set Baha'u'llah's Tablets to the Kings
and Rulers of the World against the history of nineteenth-century
Europe. And he would demonstrate how the three 'false gods', of
which Shoghi Effendi had written in The Promised Day is Come (pp.
113-14), had led to the destruction of the once-mighty continent
of Europe. To this end, Mr Balyuzi had already completed some
exhaustive research, had written an introduction, and had
translated those parts of the Suriy-i-Maluk (Tablets to the Kings)
as yet untranslated. But this is as far as he had reached at the
time of his death.

The fourth volume of the series was to have been a collection of
documents, principally from non-Baha'i sources, relating to the
life of Baha'u'llah. Mr Balyuzi had asked the present writer to
take responsibility for the collection of the material for this
volume, and shortly before his passing I had presented him with a
provisional list of contents which he had approved.

Thus, while the third volume must remain forever unwritten, it is
hoped that the material for the fourth volume may eventually be
gathered, translated and published. The historical chapters omitted
from the first volume also remain to be published.

Moojan Momen <pxi>

My father's death was announced to the Baha'i community, on 12
February 1980 by a cable from the Universal House of Justice, the
text of which was later chosen by the House of Justice to be
inscribed upon the stone erected over his grave. He lies now within
yards of the resting-place of the Guardian of the Baha'i Faith,
Shoghi Effendi; and visitors to that revered and beautiful spot who
chance upon his grave may read these lines: '...his outstanding
scholarly pursuits will inspire many devoted workers among rising
generations follow his glorious footsteps...'

In her memorial article to my father, soon to be published in The
Baha'i World, Vol. XVIII, Mrs Marion Hofman writes of him: 'A
student from his youth, he became in the last decade of his life
and in the sight of all the Baha'i world its pre-eminent scholar,
yielding place only to Mirza Abu'l-Fadl, by whose learning Mr.
Balyuzi was himself astonished.'

For all those who knew him, whether as friend, colleague, mentor,
teacher, Baha'i co-worker, or as member of his family, each will
have his own personal memory of him. Removed now in time by five
years from his physical presence, my own strongest memory is of his
gentleness. Yet I fancy that had I ever asked him how he would
himself best wish to be remembered, then I think that it would have
been his hope that his scholarship might endure. His respect for
learning was central to his faith; and although he was rarely given
to anger, he could never accept calmly any abuse of scholarship,
whether from deliberate falsification or from careless ignorance,
whenever he encountered it.

The time will come, no doubt, when my father's writings will
require revision. The study of history is not a static discipline;
continuing research in any field of enquiry is likely to continue
to bring to light new information, and these hitherto hidden facts
may lead in time to fresh interpretation and different
perspectives. Yet I believe <pxii>
that his books will abide; for nothing false will ever be found in
them, no half-truths, no distortions of available information
carefully tailored to lend support to his conclusions. Every fact
that they contain, every source of information, every reference,
will have been painstakingly and exhaustively checked and
researched, either by himself or by those whom he entrusted to
assist him. When a book was finally committed to print and
publication, it left my father's pen with his absolute conviction
that he had served truth to the fullest of his ability: for
anything less would have been a denial of the strength and power
of the Covenant of Baha'u'llah, in which his belief was absolute
and his faith never failed him.

In The Passing of Shoghi Effendi, written soon after his death in
1957, his widow, Amatu'l-Baha Ruhiyyih Khanum, opens with these
words: 'All those who were privileged to know the beloved Guardian
Shoghi Effendi from the time of his childhood until his passing
remember him as being incarnate with life; a dynamic, almost
electric force seemed to radiate from him.'

In November 1925, as a boy of seventeen, brought up in a Baha'i
family but not yet with any commitment to the Faith, my father
arrived to stay for one night in Haifa, en route to start his
University life in Beirut. He arrived there at a time of great
preoccupation and personal sorrow for the Guardian, as Dr John
Ebenezer Esslemont lay dying in the old Pilgrim House. Yet despite
his troubled mind--and my father has written how he sat up with Dr
Esslemont through that night--Shoghi Effendi took time to greet
this youth with great kindness, and stayed to talk with him and
answer his questions for over an hour. In my father's words: 'It
was that bounty of meeting Shoghi Effendi and all that I saw in
him, which confirmed me in the Faith of Baha'u'llah. The course of
my life was changed.'

After that, my father was to meet Shoghi Effendi on various
occasions during his student days, when holidays were spent in
Haifa with other young Baha'i students, the last being in February
1932 before he left for England to continue his education there.
This proved to be his last ever meeting with the Guardian. The
nearly fifty years that remained of his life would be spent in the
service of the Baha'i Cause: a service which was an eloquent
testament to the 'dynamic, almost electric force' of the Guardian
which had so charged and enthused his soul.

In 1938 my father wrote a short biography of Baha'u'llah, the <pxiii>
Prophet Founder of the Baha'i Faith, and Shoghi Effendi
acknowledged its publication by expressing the hope that he would
complete the companion essays which he intended writing on the
lives of the Bab, Who preceded Baha'u'llah and heralded His coming,
and of Baha'u'llah's son, 'Abdu'l-Baha, as these, the Guardian
felt, would be of valuable help in the teaching of the Cause. It
was to be another thirty-three years, through circumstances
described in its Foreword, before 'Abdu'l-Baha, The Centre of the
Covenant of Baha'u'llah, was published, with its dedication 'To the
ever present spirit of the Guardian of the Cause of God'; and nine
years later his book Baha'u'llah, The King of Glory was also
dedicated to Shoghi Effendi.

I can still recall vividly that day in November 1957 when, as a
child of thirteen, I stood on the graveside as Shoghi Effendi's
coffin was lowered into the ground. In that charged moment I can
remember looking up at my father and marking how rigid and
motionless he stood, his face almost devoid of expression. When he
came to speak the final prayer, the one of Baha'u'llah's which
begins 'Glory be to Thee, O God, for Thy manifestation of love to
mankind!', he did so almost in a monotone, his voice sounding to
me drained of emotion. I could not properly understand then, but
believe now, in the knowledge of all that happened after, that at
that moment his heart was broken. The depth of his grieving was
such that he was in a state of profound shock, in which his
feelings were numbed so that emotion could find little outlet.

For six years after that he kept going, borne along by the force
of events during a time of great crisis and momentous decisions,
when the duties imposed upon him by his station as a Hand of the
Cause had to be met. But after the culminating events of this
period, the election of the first Universal House of Justice and
the Baha'i World Congress in London in 1963 the increasingly
fragile prop of physical health finally collapsed, and he plunged
into a dark and despairing retreat, punished by illness of the body
and near mental breakdown.

In her memorial article Mrs Hofman has written of how his mind was
filled with 'forebodings of guilt for his wasted days and
abdication of his responsibilities as a Hand', but also she tells
how, 'all unrecognized, another path was to open before him,
another way of service as a Hand which the Will and Testament of
'Abdu'l-Baha had delineated: to promote learning'. For it was to
his historical researches that he turned for a lifeline, and
although he was to suffer <pxiv>
from continually deteriorating health for the remainder of his
days, he managed to summon together the spiritual strength and
mental energy to embark upon a decade of writing that saw the
publication of five major works of history: his biographies of the
lives of the three Central Figures of the Baha'i Faith, his work
entitled Edward Granville Brown and the Baha'i Faith, and Muhammad
and the Course of Islam, this last book written out of his
conviction that an objective evaluation of Islam is an essential
prerequisite to an understanding of the origins of the Baha'i

In his Foreword to this present volume, Dr Momen has explained how
it came to be written, and how it fits into my father's plan for
a four-volume study of the life and times of Baha'u'llah. Those
readers previously unfamiliar with Baha'i history will certainly
encounter some difficulties, and for them some acquaintance with
my father's earlier books will be found to be of assistance,
particularly The Bab, which gives the background events to some of
the biographies contained in Part I, and also, of course,
Baha'u'llah, The King of Glory, intended as volume one of the
four-part work. Reference to Muhammad and the Course of Islam could
be helpful for certain chapters of Part II. The following brief
explanation of the distinction between Babis and Baha'is may also
assist the reader, since this was not generally understood in Iran
during most of the period covered by this volume.

Babi is the name given to the followers of the Bab, the young
merchant of Shiraz, Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad, who in May 1844, at the
age of 25 years, declared Himself to be the Bab, the Gate of God,
the return of the hidden Imam-Mahdi, the Deliverer eagerly awaited
by the world of Shi'ih Islam. His Ministry was to last but six
years, though in that short time He attracted thousands to accept
His Cause, and in doing so inevitably provoked the most bitter
enmity amongst those who did not believe in Him. Supported by the
State, the orthodox Persian clergy instigated a period of brutal
and fanatical persecution, which not only brought the Bab before
a firing-squad to meet His death in July 1850, but almost succeeded
in obliterating the followers of the new religion.

During the few years of His Ministry, the Bab wrote frequently of
the coming of another, 'Him Whom God shall make manifest'. In 1863,
thirteen years after the martyrdom of the Bab, a nobleman of
Mazindaran and a Babi, Mirza Husayn-'Ali, declared Himself to be <pxv>
that One foretold by the Bab, the return of Christ to Earth to lead
mankind into a new epoch of spiritual development. He took the
title Baha'u'llah--the Glory of God--a designation first mentioned
by the Bab. Before long the greater part of the surviving Babi
community had accepted the leadership and the Message of
Baha'u'llah, and they became known as Baha'is. Some never did,
however, and they remained Babis.

Baha'u'llah gave strength and courage back to the beleaguered and
persecuted community of the Bab but, as will be learned from this
volume, He was not able to put an end to the opposition of the
Muslim clergy, and the hounding and sporadic butchering of His
followers was to continue throughout His lifetime. This book tells
the stories of some of those followers.

Although references are given for quotations, and published books
and documents are listed in the bibliography, it seems fitting to
mention the names of those Iranian Baha'is whose writings were
important sources for my father: 'Abdu'llah-i-Sahih-Furush, Haji
Mirza; Abu'l-Fadl, Mirza; 'Azizu'llah-i-Jadhdhab, Aqa; Habibu'llah
Afnan, Haji Mirza; Haydar-'Ali, Haji Mirza; Husayn-i-Zanjani,
Mirza; Ibn-i-Asdaq (Mirza 'Ali-Muhammad); Mahmud-i-Furughi, Mirza;
Malik-Khusravi, Muhammad-'Ali; Nabil-i-Akbar (Aqa
Muhammad-i-Qa'ini); Nabil-i-A'zam (Muhammad-i-Zarandi); Na'im
(Mirza Muhammad); Nazimu'l-Hukama (Mirza Siyyid Muhammad);
Samandar, Shaykh Kazim; Sina, Siyyid Isma'il; Sulaymani,
'Azizu'llah; Valiyu'llah Khan, Mirza.

On behalf of my father, most grateful thanks are extended to those
who published several of these historic documents or made available
others as yet unpublished, amongst whom he would have surely
mentioned, as he had done in his previous books, his cousin,
Abu'l-Qasim Afnan. Finally, my father's own words intended for
'Azizu'llah Sulaymani should be quoted: 'The present writer is much
indebted to the author of those eight volumes [Masabih-i-Hidayat],
from which he has gleaned many of his facts.'

All translations from Persian and Arabic, unless otherwise
attributed, were made by my father, including the many important
Tablets by Baha'u'llah, the Bab and 'Abdu'l-Baha, whose
translations have been approved at the Baha'i World Centre. The
unsparing assistance extended by the Research Department in
connection with these Tablets, as well as that of the Audio-Visual
Department in seeking <pxvi>
out and reproducing the invaluable photographs of early believers,
is acknowledged with deep gratitude.

I have left until last to write about the two people without whose
efforts the publication of this book would not have been possible,
Mrs Marion Hofman and Dr Moojan Momen, not because their
contributions demote them to be considered after others, but
because a proper recognition of their extraordinary service to my
father makes a most fitting postlude at this ending of the road:
the publication of his last major Baha'i history.

Dr Momen was first introduced to my father in January 1972 by his
uncle, Dr Iraj Ayman. He was at that time completing his medical
studies in London, and in such free time as he had available was
pursuing his interest in the history of the Faith by researches in
the Public Record Office. Dr Ayman was aware that my father was in
great need of an assistant to aid him with research, and so
effected the introduction. There very quickly developed a bond
between them, and a recognition on my father's part of Dr Momen's
considerable ability as an historian, which allowed him to trust
completely Dr Momen's judgement and correctness of method.

Although, at first, still heavily engaged in his studies and later
having to cope with the demands on him as a full-time medical
practitioner, Dr Momen gave unselfishly of his time in carrying out
research for my father in the preparation of The Bab and, most
importantly, Baha'u'llah, The King of Glory; in the Preface to this
latter book my father expressed his profound gratitude to Dr Momen
for his help 'of inestimable value'. Not, however, until 1981 with
the publication of Dr Momen's massive work, The Babi and Baha'i
Religions, 1844-1944, could the true measure of Momen's help to my
father be realized. For anyone familiar with that work will not
fail to recognize the enormous volume of research that must have
gone into its preparation. Yet, it was while engaged upon that
preparation, and also pursuing his career in medicine, that Dr
Momen found the time to help my father to the degree and with the
effect that he did.

My father loved Moojan as though he had been of his own family, and
he was amongst the first that I telephoned with the news on the
morning of my father's death. He came at once to be with us and
share in our grief. On that same day we opened letters that my
father had left to be read after his passing. In these he appointed
Dr Momen to be one of his three literary executors, together with
my mother and <pxvii>
myself; and he entrusted to his safekeeping the diaries and letter
books of his father, Muvaqqari'd-Dawlih, which he treasured highly
amongst his collected library. Some time before he had spoken to
Moojan of his dear wish to write a biography of his father, but he
greatly doubted whether he had sufficient time left to him on earth
to accomplish this task. So instead, he enjoined Moojan to give
thought to writing this book, that he himself would never write.

Mrs Marion Hofman first met my father on her wedding day, in
October 1945 from when began a close friendship that endured to the
end of his days, and has continued beyond the grave with her most
moving and beautifully written memorial article for The Baha'i
World, from which I have earlier quoted.

For my part, I must limit myself here to the bare statement that
Marion has personally edited and prepared all of the seven books
of my father published since 1970 including the present volume;
that she prepared the indexes for Edward Granville Browne and The
Baha'i Faith, for 'Abdu'l-Baha, for Baha'u'llah, The King of Glory
and for this present book; and that in so doing she enjoyed his
complete trust and confidence and, since his death, that of his
family too.

When in August 1970 Marion sent to my father copies of the
published Edward Granville Browne and The Baha'i Faith, after
extensive correspondence and many meetings between them on its
editing and production, he wrote to her: 'The production is
excellent... With warmest love ... and much grateful thanks'; and,
three months earlier, when he saw the typescript of the Index, he
had written to her: 'I am sure this index will serve as a model for
future Baha'i books'.

He did not live to see a published copy of Baha'u'llah, The King
of Glory, but, had he done so, how delighted he would have been
with it, and how much he would have appreciated the efforts of
Marion to produce a book so fitting in its presentation to its

Now, for this present volume, with no one to confirm their
decisions but themselves, Mrs Hofman and Dr Momen have taken the
incomplete manuscript left by my father, and by their determination
and consummate skills, and encouraged by their love for him, have
given life to his book.

I, and my family, are deeply grateful to them both.

London - - - - - - - - - ROBERT BALYUZI
1 February 1985

Part I

Thou hast made mention of the loved ones in those regions. Praised
be God, each one of them attained the honour of being remembered
by the True One--exalted is His glory--and the names of them, one
and all, flowed from the Tongue of Grandeur in the kingdom of
utterance. Great indeed is their blessedness and happiness,
inasmuch as they have drunk the choice wine of revelation and
inspiration from the hand of their Lord, the Compassionate, the

Baha'u'llah <p2> <p3>


Many, many years ago, 'Abdu'l-Baha wrote in a tablet, addressed to
a Baha'i of Iran, of an incident belonging to the days when Sultan
Muhammad-i-Fatih (the Conqueror), the celebrated Ottoman ruler, had
laid siege to the proud Constantinople; and that great centre of
learning, the world-famed metropolis of the Eastern Roman Empire
(once overwhelmingly rich, but shamelessly despoiled as early as
1205 by uncouth, greedy Crusaders) was, at last, about to fall
before the mighty arms of Islam. At such a moment of destiny a
Byzantine nobleman, convinced that fate had brought Byzantium to
its end, went to visit a prelate, and found that worthy divine busy
in his sanctum, scribbling fast.

'What are you composing so hurriedly, at a time so precarious?' the
nobleman asked.

'Oh, I'm writing a treatise against Muhammad,' replied the prelate.

Hearing that, the sorely-tried and desperate nobleman exploded.

'You utter, utter fool,' he exclaimed. 'Can you not see that you
are late, by far too late! The time for writing a refutation of the
Prophet of Arabia is long, long past. Look out there, over the
ramparts of our city. What do you see? There, look well. There are
rank upon rank of the soldiers of Islam. There are the waving
banners of Islam triumphant. When the Faith of Muhammad was
confined to the wastelands of Arabia, that was the time to write
your silly refutations; not today, not today. We shall very soon
be the vassals of the Great Turk!'

From its inception the Faith of the Bab and Baha'u'llah has had its
traducers. Fierce persecutions--merciless and relentless--apart,
many there have been, fanatic and shallow, unprincipled and vain,
both in the East and the West, who have taken up their pens,
oftentimes vicious and vitriolic, at times licentious, to refute
that which the Lord of creation has purposed for this age, which
is that Age of Fulfilment promised to Man from the dawn of
historical times.

But none of these outbursts of human ingratitude have had the
slightest effect on the onward march of the Faith of the Bab and <p4>
Baha'u'llah from victory to victory. These traducers, not having
learned their lesson, are still writing tome after tome packed with
falsehood to (as they imagine) besmirch the reputation of the Cause
of God. They are far too late. The Faith of Baha'u'llah has
encircled the globe.

Many they were who gave the most precious of all they
possessed--their lives--that the Cause of God should live and
flourish. Their blood watered the plant which the hand of the
Almighty had fashioned into existence; their constancy buttressed
it against tempestuous winds; their unbreakable faith shielded it
from the onrush of malice and evil intent.

And many they were, too, who toiled and laboured all their lives,
to share with their fellow-men the inestimable bounty which was
theirs: the recognition of Him Who shall lead Man to peace--peace
with himself and his Creator. Nothing daunted them, no blow ever
swerved them from their straight path, no rancour embittered their
lives. Serving the Faith of Baha'u'llah was the only goal they
knew. This book is their story. <p7>

A Notable Survivor of Shaykh Tabarsi

Mulla Sadiq-i-Muqaddas-i-Khurasani, whom Baha'u'llah honoured with
the designation Ismu'llahu'l-Asdaq--The Name of God the Most
Truthful--was a disciple of the Shaykhi leader, Haji Siyyid
Kazim-i-Rashti. His master laid on him the mandate to reside in
Isfahan, and pave the way, in that renowned city of 'Abbas the
Great, for the Advent of the Qa'im. Mulla Husayn-i-Bushru'i, the
Babu'l-Bab, on his way with his unique and wondrous mission to
Baha'u'llah in Tihran, met Mulla Sadiq, a fellow-disciple and
friend of old, in Isfahan, where he had been living for a while as
directed by Siyyid Kazim, and gave him the tidings of the Advent
of the Bab.[1] However, Mulla Husayn was not allowed to divulge the
identity of the Heavenly Being, the near approach of Whose
appearance had been emphatically asserted by Haji Siyyid Kazim.
[1. The Bab declared His Mission to Mulla Husayn on the night of
22 May 1844.]

Mulla Sadiq himself has told the story of how he came to know and
recognize the Bab--and here it is:

I asked Mulla Husayn to divulge the name of Him who claimed to be
the promised Manifestation. He replied: 'To enquire about that name
and to divulge it are alike forbidden.' 'Would it, then, be
possible,' I asked, 'for me, even as the Letters of the Living, to
seek independently the grace of the All-Merciful and, through
prayer, to discover His identity?' 'The door of His grace,' he
replied, 'is never closed before the face of him who seeks to find
Him.' I immediately retired from his presence, and requested his
host to allow me the privacy of a room in his house where, alone
and undisturbed, I could commune with God. In the midst of my
contemplation, I suddenly remembered the face of a Youth whom I had
often observed while in Karbila, standing in an attitude of prayer,
with His face bathed in tears at the entrance of the shrine of the
Imam Husayn. That same countenance now reappeared before my eyes.
In my vision I seemed to behold that same face, <p8>
those same features, expressive of such joy as I could never
describe. He smiled as He gazed at me. I went towards Him, ready
to throw myself at His feet. I was bending towards the ground,
when, lo! that radiant figure vanished from before me. Overpowered
with joy and gladness, I ran out to meet Mulla Husayn, who with
transport received me and assured me that I had, at last, attained
the object of my desire. He bade me, however, repress my feelings.
'Declare not your vision to anyone,' he urged me; 'the time for it
has not yet arrived. You have reaped the fruit of your patient
waiting in Isfahan. You should now proceed to Kirman, and there
acquaint Haji Mirza Karim Khan with this Message. From that place
you should travel to Shiraz and endeavour to rouse the people of
that city from their heedlessness. I hope to join you in Shiraz and
share with you the blessings of a joyous reunion with our Beloved.'
(Nabil-i-A'zam, The Dawn-Breakers, pp. 100-101)

Mulla Sadiq, enamoured as he was of the mien and the bearing of
that young Siyyid, Whom he had encountered facing the Shrine of the
Third Imam [Husayn], had, one day, ventured to speak to Him and
invite Him to visit his house, where Siyyid Kazim was expected to
attend a Rawdih-Khani, an assemblage devoted to the recital of the
sufferings of the House of the Prophet, and particularly the
martyrdom of the Third Imam. The young Siyyid had readily and
graciously accepted the invitation. When Mirza 'Ali-Muhammad, that
young Siyyid of Shiraz, arrived at Mulla Sadiq's house, Siyyid
Kazim and his disciples were already there and seated. On seeing
the young Shirazi make His entrance, Siyyid Kazim immediately rose
and asked Him to take a seat much higher in the room. Those present
were amazed and speechless because of the marked respect shown by
Siyyid Kazim to this very young Siyyid, Who was unknown in their
circles in Karbila. And the preacher who occupied the pulpit was
momentarily struck dumb. He could not utter a word. This preacher
was none other than Mulla Husayn-i-Bushru'i, destined to be the
first believer in the new Theophany, that faithful soul who had
apprised Mulla Sadiq of the Advent of the Qa'im of the House of

Now, complete silence settled over that gathering, until Siyyid
Kazim's voice was heard directing Mulla Husayn to recite some lines
of a poem of Shaykh Ahmad-i-Ahsa'i, recalling the sufferings of the
Third Imam. The words which Mulla Husayn uttered caused the young
Shirazi to weep so disconsolately and so bitterly that the entire
congregation was deeply affected. Later, when sherbet was served,
Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad did not partake of it. <p9>

A few days later, Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad once again encountered Mulla
Sadiq in the compound of the Shrine of the Third Imam. He told him
that His uncle had arrived from Shiraz and asked whether Mulla
Sadiq wished to meet him. That afternoon Mulla Sadiq visited the
house where Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad lodged. He found that His uncle
had many visitors: Persians of high rank, divines and merchants.
Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad Himself was busy dispensing tea and other
refreshments. Mulla Sadiq was soon expressing to the Shirazi
merchant the unbounded admiration which he cherished for his
Nephew, so unique in every way. Haji Mirza Siyyid 'Ali was glad to
hear a total stranger speak in such glowing terms of his Nephew and
replied: 'In Shiraz all the members of our family are well known
for their outstanding qualities, but my young Nephew is unique and
excels them all. But despite His high qualities, He falls short in
one way. He neglects His studies.' Mulla Sadiq responded that
should the young man be kept in Karbila, he himself would undertake
to supervise His studies, to which offer Haji Mirza Siyyid 'Ali
readily agreed. However, soon after, both he and his remarkable
Nephew returned to Shiraz.

Mulla Sadiq was the son of a well-known man of Khurasan named Mirza
Isma'il. He had two brothers, one of whom, the twenty-two year-old
Mirza Muhammad-Hasan, on hearing in 1848 that a number of Babis
were on their way to Mazindaran, forwent his marriage on the eve
of his wedding day and took the road with his fellow-believers to
follow the standard raised by Mulla Husayn. On the way to Shaykh
Tabarsi he met martyrdom at the hands of the horsemen of
Khusraw-i-Qadikala'i. Mulla Sadiq was the eldest of the brothers.
He had sat at the feet of Haji Siyyid Kazim-i-Rashti and had risen
high in the circle of his disciples. But when his teacher had
directed his steps to Isfahan he had accepted the great
responsibility laid upon him.

The Bab had told Mulla Husayn that Mulla Sadiq would unhesitatingly
respond to His call and enrol himself under His banner, and it
happened exactly as the Bab had foretold. As soon as Mulla Sadiq
realized that He, the tidings of Whose advent Mulla Husayn had
given him, was none other than the same young Shirazi Siyyid Whom
he had met, some years before, in Karbila, and Whom he had
exceedingly admired, he threw all caution to the winds and rose up
with all his vigour to serve Him and His Cause. On the very morning
after the night when the full light of truth dawned upon him, he
left Isfahan on <p11>
foot to walk all the way to Shiraz. He took a path from which there
could be no turning, a path which led away from pomp and power,
from the fruits of worldly success. He well knew what price he was
paying for his devotion. It took Mulla Sadiq twelve days to reach
the abode of his Beloved. But the Bab was not in Shiraz. He had
gone on pilgrimage to Mecca, accompanied by Quddus, who, before
long, returned bearing a Tablet of the Bab. Mulla Sadiq had, in the
meantime, become a Pishnamaz (the cleric who leads the congregation
in prayer in the mosque).

Reading in the Tablet of the Bab, with which Quddus had entrusted
him, the instruction to add to the usual words of the adhan (call
to prayer) the following: 'I bear witness that He whose name is
'Ali-Qabl-i-Muhammad [a reference to the name of the Bab[1]] is the
servant of the Baqiyyatu'llah [the Remnant of God, referring to
Baha'u'llah]', Mulla Sadiq set out to give effect to that
unmistakable command. Let Nabil-i-A'zam describe that event and its
[1. 'Qabl' means 'before'.]

...he, one day as he was leading his congregation in prayer in the
Masjid-i-Naw [New Mosque], suddenly proclaimed, as he was sounding
the adhan, the additional words prescribed by the Bab. The
multitude that heard him was astounded by his cry. Dismay and
consternation seized the entire congregation. The distinguished
divines, who occupied the front seats and who were greatly revered
for their pious orthodoxy, raised a clamour, loudly protesting:
'Woe betide us, the guardians and protectors of the Faith of God!
Behold, this man has hoisted the standard of heresy. Down with this
infamous traitor! He has spoken blasphemy. Arrest him, for he is
a disgrace to our Faith.' 'Who,' they angrily exclaimed, 'dared
authorise such grave departure from the established precepts of
Islam? Who has presumed to arrogate to himself this supreme

The populace re-echoed the protestations of these divines, and
arose to reinforce their clamour. The whole city had been aroused,
and public order was, as a result, seriously threatened. The
governor of the province of Fars, Husayn Khan-i-Iravani, surnamed
Ajudan-Bashi, ... found it necessary to intervene and to enquire
into the cause of this sudden commotion. He was informed that a
disciple [Quddus] of a young man named Siyyid-i-Bab, who had just
returned from His pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina and was now living
in Bushihr, had arrived in Shiraz and was propagating the teachings
of his Master. 'This disciple,' Husayn Khan was further informed,
'claims that his teacher is the author of a new revelation and is
the revealer of a book which he asserts is divinely inspired. Mulla
Sadiq-i-Khurasani has embraced that faith, and is fearlessly
summoning the multitude to the acceptance of that message. He
declares its recognition to be the first obligation of every loyal
and pious follower of shi'ah Islam.' <p12>
Husayn Khan ordered the arrest of both Quddds and Mulla Sadiq. The
police authorities, to whom they were delivered, were instructed
to bring them handcuffed into the presence of the governor. The
police also delivered into the hands of Husayn Khan the copy of the
Qayyumu'l-Asma', which they had seized from Mulla Sadiq while he
was reading aloud its passages to an excited congregation. Quddus,
owing to his youthful appearance and unconventional dress, was at
first ignored by Husayn Khan, who preferred to direct his remarks
to his more dignified and elderly companion. 'Tell me,' angrily
asked the governor, as he turned to Mulla Sadiq, 'if you are aware
of the opening passage of the Qayyumu'l-Asma' wherein the
Siyyid-i-Bab <p13>
addresses the rulers and kings of the earth in these terms: "Divest
yourselves of the robe of sovereignty, for He who is the King in
truth, hath been made manifest! The Kingdom is God's, the Most
Exalted. Thus hath the Pen of the Most High decreed!" If this be
true, it must necessarily apply to my sovereign, Muhammad Shah, of
the Qajar dynasty, whom I represent as the chief magistrate of this
province. Must Muhammad Shah, according to this behest, lay down
his crown and abandon his sovereignty? Must I, too, abdicate my
power and relinquish my position?' Mulla Sadiq unhesitatingly
replied: 'When once the truth of the Revelation announced by the
Author of these words shall have been definitely established, the
truth of whatsoever has fallen from His lips will likewise be
vindicated. If these words be the Word of God, the abdication of
Muhammad Shah and his like can matter but little. It can in no wise
turn aside the Divine purpose, nor alter the sovereignty of the
almighty and eternal King.'

That cruel and impious ruler was sorely displeased with such an
answer. He reviled and cursed him, ordered his attendants to strip
him of his garments and to scourge him with a thousand lashes. He
then commanded that the beards of both Quddus and Mulla Sadiq
should be burned, their noses be pierced, that through this
incision a cord should be passed, and with this halter they should
be led through the streets of the city. 'It will be an object
lesson to the people of Shiraz,' Husayn Khan declared, 'who will
know what the penalty of heresy will be.' Mulla Sadiq, calm and
self-possessed and with eyes upraised to heaven, was heard reciting
this prayer: 'O Lord, our God! We have indeed heard the voice of
One that called. He called us to the Faith--"Believe ye on the Lord
your God!"--and we have believed. O God, our God! Forgive us, then,
our sins, and hide away from us our evil deeds, and cause us to die
with the righteous.'[1] With magnificent fortitude both resigned
themselves to their fate. Those who had been instructed to inflict
this savage punishment performed their task with alacrity and
[1. Qur'an 3:190-91]

An eye-witness of this revolting episode, an unbeliever residing
in Shiraz, related to me the following: 'I was present when Mulla
Sadiq was being scourged. I watched his persecutors each in turn
apply the lash to his bleeding shoulders, and continue the strokes
until he became exhausted. No one believed that Mulla Sadiq, so
advanced in age and so frail in body, could possibly survive fifty
such savage strokes. We marvelled at his fortitude when we found
that, although the number of the strokes of the scourge he had
received had already exceeded nine hundred, his face still retained
its original serenity and calm. A smile was upon his face, as he
held his hand before his mouth. He seemed utterly indifferent to
the blows that were being showered upon him. When he was being
expelled from the city, I succeeded in approaching him, and asked
him why he held his hand before his mouth. I expressed surprise at
the smile upon his countenance. He emphatically replied: "The first
seven strokes were severely painful; to the rest I seemed to <p14>
have grown indifferent. I was wondering whether the strokes that
followed were being actually applied to my own body. A feeling of
joyous exultation had invaded my soul. I was trying to repress my
feelings and to restrain my laughter. I can now realise how the
almighty Deliverer is able, in the twinkling of an eye, to turn
pain into ease, and sorrow into gladness. Immensely exalted is His
power above and beyond the idle fancy of His mortal creatures."'
Mulla Sadiq, whom I met years after, confirmed every detail of this
moving episode. (Nabil-i-A'zam, The Dawn-Breakers, pp. 144-8)
Another Babi who shared the sufferings of Mulla Sadiq and Quddus
was Mulla 'Ali-Akbar-i-Ardistani. The farrashes who were
perpetrating these abominations were crying out to the populace:
'0 Muslims! These men have not committed murder, they are not
thieves, they have not cheated anyone, they have not gone beyond
the limits of the law; but they are clever and eloquent men of
learning who want to rob you of your Faith. Since we are parading
these enemies of Religion, now captive and vanquished, before you
to behold, you must be most generous with your offerings and gifts
to us.' A merchant, by whose place of business they were passing,
stopped them in their tracks and told them: 'That being so, let me
have a share of this righteous deed and inflict more pain on these
men.' Having said this, he brought a long and stout piece of timber
and put one end on the shoulder of Quddus and the other on the
shoulder of Mulla Sadiq. Next he attached a measuring device to the
pole and had eighty bales of sugar weighed and placed on it. It was
a hot day. Whenever Quddus and Mulla Sadiq, overcome by the
heaviness of the load and the heat of the day, tried to shift their
feet, their tormentors lashed them mercilessly. At the end of this
fiendish method of torture, the farrashes were suitably rewarded.
When these minions of the governor had done their worst, the three
Babis, covered with wounds and sores, were led out of the city and
told to take to the open road and never come back.[1]
[1. As I write these lines I have before me an account of the
recent persecutions and terrible sufferings of the Baha'is of the
tribe of Buwayr-Ahmadi in the province of Fars. The heroism of
these men and women of the present day matches the heroism of
Quddus and Muqaddas and Mulla 'Ali-Akbar-i-Ardistani. The power of
sacrifice and steadfastness conferred on them by Baha'u'llah was
well evinced.]

Mulla Sadiq-i-Muqaddas wended his way to Yazd. Along the route,
whenever he came across anyone ready to listen, he told them of the
advent of the Bab. He stayed two months in Yazd and openly made his
announcement. Then he sent a herald to call out throughout the
town: 'Whoever has not met the emissary of Babu'llahu'l-A'zam [the
Most <p15>
Great Bab] and has not heard him, let him come on Friday to the
mosque of Musalla and listen to the tidings which he brings you.'
On that Friday a huge crowd gathered at the mosque. Mulla Sadiq
ascended the pulpit and told the people, in no uncertain terms,
that He Whose coming had been promised to them had indeed come. He
read them 'one of the best-known and most exquisitely written
homilies of the Bab,' and then spoke to them:

'Render thanks to God, O people of learning, for, behold, the Gate
of Divine Knowledge, which you deem to have been closed, is now
wide open. The River of everlasting life has streamed forth from
the city of Shiraz, and is conferring untold blessings upon the
people of this land. Whoever has partaken of one drop from this
Ocean of heavenly grace, no matter how humble and unlettered, has
discovered in himself the power to unravel the profoundest
mysteries, and has felt capable of expounding the most abstruse
themes of ancient wisdom. And whoever, though he be the most
learned expounder of the Faith of Islam, has chosen to rely upon
his own competence and power and has disdained the Message of God,
has condemned himself to irretrievable degradation and loss.'
(Nabil-i-A'zam, The Dawn-Breakers, p. 186)

At first no one made any retort, no one raised objections or
disputed with Mulla Sadiq. But before long there arose a murmur of
dissent. Gradually it rose to a crescendo. The fickle crowd rushed
to the pulpit, intending to drag Mulla Sadiq down and murder him.
Let Nabil tell us what happened next:

...The masjid rang with cries of 'Blasphemy!' which an infuriated
congregation shouted in horror against the speaker. 'Descend from
the pulpit,' rose the voice of Siyyid Husayn[1] amid the clamour
and tumult of the people, as he motioned to Mulla Sadiq to hold his
peace and to retire. No sooner had he regained the floor of the
masjid than the whole company of the assembled worshippers rushed
upon him and overwhelmed him with blows. Siyyid Husayn immediately
intervened, vigorously dispersed the crowd, and, seizing the hand
of Mulla Sadiq, forcibly drew him to his side. 'Withhold your
hands,' he appealed to the multitude; 'leave him in my custody. I
will take him to my home, and will closely investigate the matter.
A sudden fit of madness may have caused him to utter these words.
I will myself examine him. If I find that his utterances are
premeditated and that he himself firmly believes in the things
which he has declared, I will, with my own hands, inflict upon him
the punishment imposed by the law of Islam.'
[1. Siyyid Husayn-i-Azghandi, a very influential divine of Yazd,
whose nephew, Mirza Ahmad-i-Azghandi, had embraced the Faith of the
Bab and was also in Yazd at the time. His uncle wished him to stay
in that town and help him parry the pretences of the followers of
Haji Karim Khan, the Shaykhi leader. (HMB)]

By this solemn assurance, Mulla Sadiq was delivered from the savage
attacks of his assailants. Divested of his 'aba and turban,
deprived of his <p16>
sandals and staff, bruised and shaken by the injuries he had
received, he was entrusted to the care of Siyyid Husayn's
attendants, who, as they forced their passage among the crowd,
succeeded eventually in conducting him to the home of their master.

Mulla Yusuf-i-Ardibili,[1] likewise, was subjected in those days
to a persecution fiercer and more determined than the savage
onslaught which the people of Yazd had directed against Mulla
Sadiq. But for the intervention of Mirza Ahmad and the assistance
of his uncle, he would have fallen a victim to the wrath of a
ferocious enemy.
[1. One of the Huruf-i-Hayy (the Bab's Letters of the Living).

When Mulla Sadiq and Mulla Yusuf-i-Ardibili arrived at Kirman, they
again had to submit to similar indignities and to suffer similar
afflictions at the hands of Haji Mirza Karim Khan and his
associates. Haji Siyyid Javad's[2] persistent exertions freed them
eventually from the grasp of their persecutors, and enabled them
to proceed to Kirman. (Nabil-i-A'zam, The Dawn-Breakers, pp. 186-7)
[2. The Imam-i-Jum'ih of Kirman. He was a distant cousin of the
Bab, and like another celebrated cousin, Haji Muhammad-Hasan, known
as Mirzay-i-Shirazi (see chap. 19), was secretly a believer in Him.
Haji Siyyid Javad rescued Quddus, as well, from his adversaries.

The governor of Kirman gave them an escort of horsemen to see them
safely out of the province. Everywhere, on his way to Khurasan,
Mulla Sadiq gave all whom he met the tidings of the advent of the
Bab. Fear knew him not and nothing daunted him. Eventually he
reached the camp of Mulla Husayn, the Babu'l-Bab, who, on a
memorable day in Isfahan, had told him that the New Day had dawned.
The destination of Mulla Husayn was Mazindaran. Mulla Sadiq joined
the small band of his fellow-believers, whose number increased as
they went on.

In the heart of the forests of Mazindaran, within the fortress
which they raised around the shrine of Shaykh Tabarsi, these
God-intoxicated men defied their adversaries for several months.
Their number was just over three hundred. Apart from a few like
Rida Khan-i-Turkaman
(whose father was a courtier of high rank), the overwhelming
majority of these Babis were clerics, students of theology,
tradesmen, who had never wielded a sword in their lives. Yet they
put armies to flight. Mulla Husayn led sortie after sortie until
he was mortally wounded. Finally, promises and vows that proved to
be false caused the famished Babis to lay down their arms and
abandon their fortress which harboured the remains of the
Babu'l-Bab. They were massacred treacherously, sanctifying with
their blood the soil of Mazindaran, already honoured to have been
the ancestral home of Baha'u'llah. Only a few survived the
holocaust, one of whom was Mulla Sadiq-i-Muqaddas of Qurasan. <p17>
Prince Mihdi-Quli Mirza, who commanded the royal troops, handed
over Mulla Sadiq and Lutf-'Ali Mirza of Shiraz (an Afsharid prince)
to a certain Husayn Khan who was a well-known person in Mazindaran,
and whose father had met his death while fighting the besieged
Babis of Shaykh Tabarsi, to take them home and kill them in the
presence of his mother and sister to help assuage their grief. It
was agreed that should he fail to put them to death he would pay
a thousand tumans to the prince. Husayn Khan must have paid an
equally large sum of money to Mihdi-Quli Mirza, to have the two
Babis released to him. As the Mazindarani grandee and his captives,
chained and bound, went on their way towards his home, at every
village and town he would call the divines to come and examine the
Babis. The divines everywhere, seated and with Mulla Sadiq in
chains standing before them, put every question to him and were
answered politely, clearly, convincingly, based on evidence culled
from the Qur'an and Traditions. And everywhere the divines gave the
same answer to the grandee's question, who asked them time and
again: 'Does this man merit death?' To which the answer came: 'No,
never; we have never before met a man so learned, nor heard such
masterly exposition. Even if he be an infidel, he should not be put
to death.' Thus they progressed through the province of Mazindaran.
Husayn Khan was captivated by the serenity and certitude of Mulla
Sadiq, and came to the decision to spare their lives. When he
reached home he called in the members of his family and told them
all that had happened. 'Everywhere the divines unitedly gave the
verdict', he said, 'that these men do not merit death.' His
relatives were also united in the same answer. Husayn Khan, true
to his word, informed Mihdi-Quli Mirza that he and his relatives
would not be a party to the execution of the two Babis.

The prince wanted them to be sent to Tihran, there to be put to
death. During the time of their detention in the home of Husayn
Khan, Mulla Sadiq and Lutf-'Ali Mirza had helped a shepherd of that
neighbourhood named 'Avad-Muhammad to embrace the Faith of the Bab.
Being apprised of the prince's wish, he told the prisoners that
their only hope lay in escaping. Mulla Sadiq, enfeebled by the
privations he had endured, was unwilling to undergo the hazards
entailed. But the insistence of the shepherd, who was willing to
be privy to any scheme that would give them their freedom, overcame
the reluctance of Mulla Sadiq. 'Avad-Muhammad helped them leave
that <p18>
neighbourhood through paths not usually frequented. He also
provided them with food. They walked throughout the night in the
thick forests that cover Mazindaran and sought refuge during the
day in the dense parts of the forest. After two weeks they reached
Miyami with their feet sore and bruised. There they recounted to
the relatives of those heroic men the story of the thirty-three
Babis of that locality who had fallen at Shaykh Tabarsi. They had
to rest for a while at Miyami to recuperate before taking the road
to Mashhad.

Lutf-'Ali eventually reached Tihran where he was caught up by the
upheavals of 1852 and lost his life. For Mulla Sadiq life in
Mashhad became impossible. Around the year 1861 he said farewell
to that city of renown and with a number of persons accompanying
him travelled to Baghdad. There he went into the presence of
Baha'u'llah and recognized Him as the One in Whose path the Bab had
sacrificed Himself--the Promised One of the Bayan. For fourteen
months he basked in the sunshine of the presence of Baha'u'llah, and then as
directed by Him he returned to his native province of Khurasan.

Again he met bitter opposition from all sides. Particularly
vehement were the assaults made upon him by the followers of Haji
Muhammad-Karim Khan-i-Kirmani.[1] But Mulla Sadiq held his ground,
despite all the machinations of his adversaries. Then, the
headstrong governor-general of Khurasan, Sultan-Murad Mirza, the
Hisamu's-Saltanih (an uncle of Nasiri'd-Din Shah), fell in with the
opponents of Mulla Sadiq and had him arrested. A week later Mulla
Sadiq was sent to Tihran, in the company of a large number of
Turkaman prisoners. In Tihran he was lodged in Siyah-Chal, the same
prison where Baha'u'llah had been immured in 1852. Even there Mulla
Sadiq could not be silenced. He brought a number of his
fellow-prisoners to accept the Faith of the Bab and Baha'u'llah.
[1. He considered himself the successor to Siyyid Kazim, and
fostered opposition to the Bab amongst the Shaykhis.]
Among those he converted was Hakim Masih, a Jewish physician who
was attending the prisoners. He was the first Baha'i of Jewish
background in Tihran and was the grandfather of Lutfu'llah Hakim
who was in recent years elected to the first Universal House of
Justice. Many well-known men who were acquainted with him visited
him in Siyah-Chal and tried hard to induce him to write a few lines
which they could show to Nasiri'd-Din Shah and obtain his release.
But he consistently refused to comply with their wishes and make
any appeal. He wrote: <p19>
'It is shameful that a man in need should appeal to another one in
need.' Thus he stayed for twenty-eight months in that prison. Then
Nasiri'd-Din Shah, of his own accord, ordered his release. Mulla
Sadiq refused to leave the dungeon without his fellow-prisoners.
He had pledged his word to them, he said, that they would leave
Siyah-Chal together. When the Shah learned of Mulla Sadiq's stand
he was amazed, but asked for a list of all the inmates of
Siyah-Chal. Besides Mulla Sadiq, there were forty-three names in
that list. All but three were pardoned, and those three had been
arrested only recently and were guilty men.

Mulla Sadiq's son, Ibn-i-Asdaq, who was named and appointed by
Baha'u'llah a Hand of the Cause of God, states in a short biography
of his father: 'Twice he was taken to the Inspectorate which was
in the charge of 'Aynu'l-Mulk. There he said: "Some of these men
have been in this prison for seven years. They have no clothing
left, are bare <p20>
and in utter misery. They ought to be clad and allowed to go home
in peace. The authorities should provide them with suitable clothes
and money and send them home, bring some joy into their miserable
lives." His praiseworthy initiative led to the introduction of the
Faith of God in all the areas where these people lived. Its abiding
results will endure for ever. The descendants and the clans of
those men are within the fold of this Faith, ever ready to be of
service to others.'

After departing from the house of 'Aynu'l-Mulk, Mulla Sadiq stayed
for three days in the mosque of Sipahsalar. From there he moved to
the house of Muhammad-Vali Mirza (a son of Fath-'Ali Shah), who was
greatly attached to him. His sojourn there lasted nineteen days,
and there he came face to face with a number of very influential
divines of Tihran, such as Haji Mulla 'Aliy-i-Kani and Siyyid
Sadiq-i-Sanglaji. These men had heard of the vast learning of Mulla
Sadiq. One after the other, in rapid succession, they asked him
intricate questions and posed him many problems to resolve. It must
be said that none of those divines was favourably inclined towards
the <p21>
Faith of Baha'u'llah. Indeed, the two already named were bitterly
hostile. Haji Mulla 'Aliy-i-Kani was the man who, when given
Baha'u'llah's Tablet to Nasiri'd-Din Shah so that he might write
an answer to it, treated the matter with great disdain. Now, they
all fell under the spell of the speech of Mulla Sadiq. None of
them, however hard he tried, could match, let alone surpass his
deep knowledge, his eloquence, his logic and measured speech. When
these proceedings in the home of his relative were reported to
Nasiri'd-Din Shah, he, of all the people, upbraided
Hisamu's-Saltanih (his own uncle) for condemning such a man as
Mulla Sadiq to imprisonment. He ordered two of his best horses,
richly saddled, to be given to Mulla Sadiq, as well as a gift of
money. The mother of Nasiri'd-Din Shah, who was present that day
in the house of Muhammad-Vali Mirza and sitting with a number of
other ladies of high rank behind a curtain, was listening to the
trial of strength between Mulla Sadiq and the divines of Tihran;
she presented him with rich, valuable clothes befitting his rank.
Mulla Sadiq courteously returned all the royal gifts and wrote a
letter to the Shah expressing his gratitude. Then he borrowed a sum
of money from a fellow-believer in Tihran and took the road to
Khurasan. It was then that he helped Haji Mirza Muhammad-Rida, the
Mu'taminu's-Saltanih, the future Vazir of Khurasan, to embrace the
Faith of Baha'u'llah. (See chap. 5.)

Three years later, Mulla Sadiq returned to Tihran and helped in
changing the secret hiding-place of the remains of the Bab. Having
performed that service, urgently required, he left the capital once
again and visited Kashan, Isfahan and Yazd. Everywhere he went he
fearlessly and energetically taught and propagated the Faith of
Baha'u'llah. But his most outstanding service was that which he
rendered in Yazd. There, some of the Afnans (relatives of the Bab)
were still hesitant and uncommitted; Mulla Sadiq made them see and
totally accept the truth of the new Theophany. After this
remarkable achievement, he returned to his native province of
Khurasan where, for six years, he travelled throughout that
province teaching, continuously teaching. During that time he was
constantly attacked, reviled and denounced by adversaries. But he
never faltered, although his sufferings as well as old age were
telling upon him. Finally, physical disabilities forced him to
retire from the field.

Ill and exhausted, his dearest wish now was to attain, once again,
the presence of Baha'u'llah. Before long that wish was realized. <p22>
Baha'u'llah summoned him to 'Akka. When that call reached him he
was revived. He sent word that he desired the people to come and
visit him. They came, and to them, Baha'i or non-Baha'i alike, he
gave such advice as would serve them well in days to come. His
visitors were greatly moved. His words came from a heart pure and
unsullied, from a soul brave and constant, leaving a deep
impression on all who were privileged to hear him, and evoking a
response commensurate with his earnestness. A good many wished to
accompany and serve him in his pilgrimage. Baha'u'llah had,
however, directed him to bring only one person with him, and those
who wished to be with him vied for that honour. Mirza Ja'far was
the man who secured it. His son, the future Hand of the Cause
Ibn-i-Asdaq, accompanied them until they reached Sabzivar. There
he offered his father a small sum of money which he did not accept.
The route which Mulla Sadiq took was through Caucasia. It was a
long and tiring journey, but he stood up to its hardships. And, at
long last, he found himself in the presence of Baha'u'llah. He had
lived expectantly for that moment. All his toils, his sufferings,
spread over so many years were forgotten at that supreme moment,
and for four months he had the bounty of living close to his Lord.
At the end of that period of untold bliss the Tongue of Grandeur
thus addressed him:

0 My name, the Asdaq![1] Render thanks unto God that We called thee
to appear before the Seat of Glory, to hear Us and to witness the
Light of the Countenance of thy Lord, the Exalted, the Mighty, the
Single, the Supreme; and We sent thee back to inform the people of
what thou hast seen and understood, and to call them to the utmost
constancy, lest their steps falter at the clamour of any corrupt
pretender. 0 My name! recall every day Our counsel to thee in Our
Presence. Verily, thy Lord is the All-Knowing, the All-Informed.
(Quoted in Sulaymani, Masabih-i-Hidayat, vol. 7, p. 408)
[1. the most truthful]

The time had come for parting from the presence of Baha'u'llah and
he turned homewards by way of Mosul and Baghdad. All along that
route he gave the people he met the tidings of the advent of the
Day of God. Physically he was exhausted, but his spirit shone as
bright as ever. His dedicated soul knew no repose except in obeying
the command of his Lord. When he reached Hamadan, his physical
strength had touched its nadir, but not the bravery of his soul.
He stayed for twelve days in Hamadan, never resting. On the last
day he told his servitors to bring him his best, his most costly
clothes. He put <p23>
them on, using a good deal of rose-water and perfume. Then he asked
those who were with him to leave him alone for an hour. At the end
of that hour he called them back, and asked one of them to help him
undress. He had only one arm out of his sleeve when he said to the
man who was helping him, 'That is enough'; the next moment he was
gone--gone from this world. Thus, calmly and serenely, death
brought release to Mulla Sadiq, Ismu'llahu'l-Asdaq, from untold
tribulations which would have broken a lesser man, but were endured
by him with radiant acquiescence in the path of his Lord. His death
occurred in the year 1889.

Some thirty years later, one evening in Haifa, 'Abdu'l-Baha, the
Centre of the Covenant of Baha'u'llah, spoke of Ismu'llahu'l-Asdaq,
describing him as a Hand of the Cause of God and 'truly a servant
of the Lord from the beginning of life till his last breath'. And
then He recalled an incident of which He Himself was a witness, an
incident of the far-off days of Baghdad:

...he [Mulla Sadiq] was seated one day in the courtyard of the
men's apartments... I was in one of the rooms just above... At that
moment ... a grandson of Fath-'Ali Shah, arrived at the house. The
prince said to him, 'Who are you?' Ismu'llah answered, 'I am a
servant of this Threshhold. I am one of the keepers of this door.'
And as I listened from above, he began to teach the Faith. The
prince at first objected violently; and yet, in a quarter of an
hour, gently and benignly, Jinab-i-Ismu'llah had quieted him down.
After the prince had so sharply denied what was said, and his face
had so clearly reflected his fury, now his wrath was changed to
smiles and he expressed the greatest satisfaction at having
encountered Ismu'llah and heard what he had to say.

He always taught cheerfully and with gaiety, and would respond
gently and with good humor, no matter how much passionate anger
might be turned against him by the one with whom he spoke. His way
of teaching was excellent... He was a great personage, perfect in
all things... He was truly Ismu'llah, the Name of God. Fortunate
is the one who circumambulates that tomb, who blesses himself with
the dust of that grave... (Memorials of the Faithful, pp. 5, 6, 8) <p24>

The Story of Two Ashrafs

In the long and glory-studded roll of the Babi-Baha'i martyrs of
Persia one encounters the names of two A&afs: the first hailed from
Zanjan, the city of the heroic Hujjat; the second was a native of
Bushruyih who resided in Najafabad--townships from both of which
many an intrepid martyr has stepped into the arena of history to
mark the unshakeable resolve of the faithful and the eternal infamy
of the persecutor. Two eventful decades intervene between the
immolation of the two Ashrafs. The first--Ashraf of Zanjan--was a
siyyid of noble birth in the full prime of his vigorous youth; the
second was an eloquent and erudite guide and mentor of middle age.

The father of Ashraf of Zanjan had stood valiantly under the banner
of Hujjat and had died in the ensuing holocaust. So comely, so
engaging, so handsome was his son that the adversaries were loth
to hand him over to the executioner. They led his mother to the
prison-house that she might persuade him to deny his faith and thus
obtain his freedom. But that brave woman, who had but this one
accomplished son of dazzling beauty, told him: 'Ashraf, my son!
Shouldst thou abjure thy faith, I shall renounce thee for ever.'
Such was the mettle of those who had given their allegiance to

Ashraf, whose full name was Siyyid 'Ali-Ashraf, and who came to be
known as Ashafu'sh-Shuhada'--the Noblest of Martyrs--had attained
the presence of Baha'u'llah in Adrianople, the renowned city of
Hadrian which had fallen into disrepute, and which Baha'u'llah had
termed the 'Remote Prison'. That encounter and attainment had set
his faith doubly ablaze. On his return from Rumelia, in an orchard
outside the city gates that belonged to him, he had a room built
in which to praise his Lord and to transcribe the verses flowing
from the Most Exalted Pen. His fellow-believers would foregather
there to benefit by his company. The enemy was alert and watchful.
The young siyyid was seized and cast into prison. With him into
prison <p25>
went another heroic youth, whose father had also died under the
banner of Hujjat. Naqd-'Ali was blind, but the Most Exalted Pen
honoured him with the designation of Abu-Basir--the Father of
Insight. He too was determined to take the same road as his father,
the road to martyrdom.

The resolve of these two young men could not be shaken, and the day
came when they were led to the scaffold. The Imam-Jum'ih of Zanjan,
related as he was to Ashraf, was there to make a last effort to
save him from death. The mother of Ashraf was also there to see her
son drink of the same cup as her glorious husband. As the
Imam-Jum'ih's importunities increased, urging Ashraf not to throw
away his life, the plea and the injunction of Ashrafs mother was
heard: 'Remember, my son: shouldst thou deny thy faith, the faith
of thy father, I shall renounce thee for ever and ever!'

Such were the circumstances of the death of two heroic men of
Zanjan of imperishable memory, one of them in the very bloom of his
youth. When Ashraf was beheaded, in the presence of his implacable
mother, he was holding in his embrace the decapitated corpse of his
companion. And as Ashraf's mother saw her son die, she held back
her tears and would not let a single one well from her eyes. Her
soul was agonized but happy, for her son's death was in the path of
[1. See Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, LXIX, for
Baha'u'llah's account of Ashraf's death. (Ed.)]

The other Ashraf, who hailed from Bushruyih, the home of the
Babu'l-Bab, but resided in Najafabad, and who quaffed the cup of
martyrdom two decades later in 1888 was a man who once commanded
a pulpit. People were attracted to him despite their waywardness,
because he was kind and wise and learned. When he heard the call
of the Lord of Hosts, the Master of the Day of Judgement, his pure
soul responded to it. Then, as it became known that he had embraced
the new Faith, he had to leave Najafabad and seek refuge in a
hamlet near the township of Abadih, where he spent his solitary
days in communion with his Lord. In those far-off days Abadih and
its environs had no Baha'is.

It was to Abadih that the desecrated heads of the Babi martyrs of
the second episode of Nayriz (1853) together with Babi prisoners
in chains, had been brought on the way to Tihran. The incident was
highly reminiscent of what had occurred more than a millennium <p26>
before, in the wake of the tragic deaths, on the bank of the river
Euphrates, of the Imam Husayn, the Sayyidu'sh-Shuhada'--the Prince
of Martyrs - and those courageous souls who fearlessly stood by
him, faithful to the House of the Prophet. Then, too, the wicked
of this world had raised the severed heads of the martyrs on their
lances and had herded prisoners--women and children--together, to
parade them in the streets of Kufih and Damascus. Amongst those
remnants of the House of Muhammad there was one solitary
youth--'Ali, now the Fourth Imam--who was too ill to raise himself
from his couch on the day that his father and brother and cousins,
together with the faithful, fell on the plains of 'Iraq. He was the
only male survivor of that dastardly massacre, and though still
stricken by enervating fevers, was then the sole silver-tongued
spokesman of his House. To the unthinking, beguiled and jeering mob
who had hurled their wild imprecations at them, accusing them of
being seceders and traducers of the law, 'Ali II had replied: 'Nay,
indeed, we are the preservers of the law, the trustees and the
Guardian of the Faith of the Apostle of God'.

Now, in mid-nineteenth century, when the implacable enemy once
again brought severed heads hoisted on lances and tortured
prisoners to display before the mob, orders reached Abadih from
higher authorities not to proceed further with the desecrated heads
but to bury them in that township. On a lonesome piece of barren
earth, the heads of the martyrs of Nayriz were thrown into a pit.
(Decades later, 'Abdu'l-Baha honoured that piece of wasteland, then
turned into a garden, with the designation of
Hadiqatu'r-Rahman--the Orchard of the Merciful.) A notable of the
town of Abadih, Siyyid Muhammad-'Ali, known as Siyyid Mulla Aqa
Jan, noticed amongst the prisoners who were to be taken to Tihran
a young siyyid, twenty years old, named Siyyid Ghulam-'Ali. He was
of arresting beauty, but was desperately ill, hardly able to move.
His heart touched by the plight of this young man, Siyyid
Muhammad-'Ali appealed to the commander of the troops in the name
of their illustrious Ancestor, the Holy Prophet, to allow him to
keep Siyyid Ghulam-'Ali in Abadih and have him nursed to health.
Lutf-'Ali Khan-i-Qashqa'i, a brigadier in charge of the prisoners,
requested from the benevolent notable of Abadih the sum of ten
tumans, before he would release Siyyid Ghulam-'Ali. That
kind-hearted man went about procuring the cash, and caught up with
the troops, already on the move, at Shulgistan. <p27>
Having at last obtained the release of that sick, emaciated youth,
Siyyid Muhammad-'Ali put him on his own horse and himself led the
animal and walked all the way back to Abadih. There he called in
Aqa Muhammad-Husayn, the Hakim-Bashi (Chief Physician), to restore
that ailing youth to health. But Siyyid Ghulam-'Ali had suffered
much and did not recover. He was buried in the cemetery of Abadih
where his grave is unknown; only his memory remains and the memory
of Siyyid Muhammad-'Ali, whose generous heart guided him to rescue
that maltreated youth from the grasp of the foe, and afford him a
few days of rest and peace before death took him away.

The son of Lutf-'Ali Khan, the Qashqa'i commandant who had maimed
and murdered the Babis of Nayriz, in the course of time embraced
the Faith of Baha'u'llah. He was Haji Muhammad-Sadiq Khan, and he
became a devoted Baha'i, so conscious of the enormity of the
cruelties of his father that he was certain their evil consequences
would be visited on him. Qabil, the celebrated Baha'i poet and
teacher of Abadih, who, on Haji Muhammad-Sadiq Khan's own request,
had retailed to him the story of his father's rapacity, was so
greatly moved by the son's sense of shame and remorse that he wrote <p28>
of it to 'Abdu'l-Baha. Here is 'Abdu'l-Baha's response, which He
wished to be conveyed to Haji Muhammad-Sadiq Khan:

The true morn dawneth from the depths of a darksome night, and the
world-illuminating light of day poureth forth from the canopy of
a night of gloom. The enchanting flower bloometh on a branch of
thorns, and multitudinous plants grow out of the sad, sodden earth.
The delightful fruit sprouteth upon a piece of wood. Thus is seen
the truth of the words: 'Thou bringest the living out of the dead,
and Thou bringest the dead out of the living.' [Qur'an 3: 271] The
Commander of the Faithful[1] was wont to say to Muhammad the son
of Abu-Bakr: 'Thou art my child.' Clear it is that physical
fatherhood and sonship are not factors of true import. Canaan was
the son of Noah and Abraham was the son of Adhar. One father was
a Prophet, but His son was disowned and cut off. Another father was
an idolator, yet his Son was the great and exalted Friend[2]...
Therefore be not saddened. Pray thou and supplicate at the
threshold of the One True God, begging forgiveness for thine
earthly father. 'Abdu'l-Baha will also, with utmost lowliness,
implore at the threshold of God that perchance the musk-laden
breeze of His forgiveness may waft over the Khan[3] and from the
billowing sea of His grace a wave may pass over him and cleanse him
of the defilement of sin and transgression. This is not far removed
from the ocean of the grace of Baha, His mercy, and His pardon
[1. 'Ali Ibn Abu-Talib, the first Imam.]
[2. A sincere friend. Abraham is known as Khalilu'llah--the Friend of God.]
[3. The father of Haji Muhammad-Sadiq Khan.]

Here, history repeats itself. Lutf-'Ali Khan, the Qashqa'i
commandant, comes to Abadih triumphant after the massacre of the
innocent, with severed heads which he is told to part with, and a
host of suffering captives whom he drives on to Shiraz. His son,
Haji Muhammad-Sadiq Khan, embraces the Faith of Baha'u'llah and
makes donations to have an edifice raised at the place where the
heads of his father's victims are consigned to earth. This is what
followed the second blood-stained episode of Nayriz. While
subsequent to the first episode of Nayriz (1850), when the valiant
Vahid met a martyr's death, a grandson of one of the Nuri chiefs,
responsible for much of the barbarities there, gave his allegiance
to Baha'u'llah. He was a colonel of artillery named Faraju'llah
Khan who, in 1888, related to Edward Granville Browne in the city
of Yazd the story of how his own elders had behaved at Nayriz and
how they had received their meed.[4]
[4. The Nuri chief was Mihr-'Ali Khan, the Shuja'u'l-Mulk. The
account is given by Browne in A Year Amongsr the Persians. pp.
44~42. (This passage will be included in a forthcoming compilation
of the works of E. G. Browne on the Baha'i Faith.)]

But now, once more to the story of Abadih and the second Ashraf, <p29>
who, as soon as that township became peopled with the followers of
Baha'u'llah, abandoned his retreat in the village of Dih-Daq and
established his residence in the town. During the years that Mirza
Ashraf had lived in the village, because of the fierce opposition
he had encountered in Najafabad he had concealed his true
allegiance from the notables of Abadih with whom he consorted. So
when he came out into the open in Abadih, the fanatics of that town
were shocked and dismayed, shocked because they had known Aqa Mirza
Ashraf as an erudite Shi'ih divine, and dismayed because they were
well aware of his powers of speech and exposition.

In that year (1861) when the intrigues and agitations of Mirza
Buzurg Khan-i-Qazvini, the Persian consul-general in Baghdad, and
Shaykh 'Abdu'l-Husayn-i-Tihrani, the Shaykhu'l-'Iraqayn, were
nearing the end desired by them, the fame of the One so bitterly
opposed by those two plotters was resounding all over Iran. Three
young men of Abadih, two of whom were sons of the Hakim-Bashi, the
same physician who years before had attended Siyyid Ghulam-'Ali,
were studying in Isfahan. They heard of Mirza Husayn-'Ali
(Baha'u'llah), Son of the Vazir-i-Nuri, and His achievements within
the Babi community. One of the sons, Mirza 'Ata'u'llah (later
entitled Siraju'l-Hukama'--the Light of the Physicians), and his
brother Mirza Ishaq, together with their compatriot, Mulla
Muhammad-Husayn, became particularly interested in what had reached
their hearing and in the rumours current amongst the habitues of
the theological seminaries of Isfahan. They told Mirza Asadu'llah
(known in Isfahan as Hakim-Ilahi--the Divine Philosopher), who was
a close friend of Mirza 'Ata'u'llah, of their newly-found interest.
Mirza Asadu'llah was a Babi and he, in his turn, informed Mirza
Hasan (Sultanu'sh-Shuhada'--King of the Martyrs) of the interest
aroused in the minds and hearts of the three young men of Abadih.
A meeting was arranged between them, and before long Mirza
'Ata'u'llah, his brother and their companion gladly gave their
allegiance to the New Theophany. This Siraju'l-Hukama' of future
years, who eventually became the leading physician of the town,
proved to be a tower of strength in the Baha'i community which was
emerging in Abadih. Several decades later his uncle, Haji
Muhammad-Sadiq, left the Shaykhi fold at the age of eighty-five and
embraced the Faith of Baha'u'llah, which he served devotedly till
his death at the age of ninety. <p30>

At the same time that Baha'u'llah was on the point of departing
from Baghdad to Constantinople (1863), a number of notables of
Abadih were in 'Iraq on pilgrimage to the holy shrines of the
Imams, including Da'i Husayn, who was to become one of the most
stalwart Baha'is of Abadih. Hearing that Baha'u'llah was in the
Najibiyyih Garden, just outside Baghdad, he thought seriously of
going there himself, as many were doing, to discover what all that
commotion was about, but fearing the consequences he did not
venture out. He was a friend of Mirza 'Ata'u'llah, the son of the
Hakim-Bashi, and on his way back to his home town discovered at
Isfahan that his friends there were nurturing a secret which
surprised him. They asked him: 'What is going on in Daru's-Salam?
[Baghdad]' He told them all he knew. His friends expressed great
surprise but kept their secret to themselves. Then, all together,
they left Isfahan for Abadih. Ensconced in their home town they
divulged their secret: they had embraced the Faith of the Bab. So
did Da'i Husayn with a devotion <p31>
fortified by all that he had heard and witnessed in Baghdad, to be
followed by others including his son, Karbila'i Hasan Khan.

It was then that Aqa Mirza Ashraf let it be known that he was a
Baha'i. Soon Abadih became a stronghold of the Faith of
Baha'u'llah, and a number of its leading citizens came into the
Baha'i fold. Of course, as everywhere else in the storm-tossed
Cradle of their Faith, these steadfast Baha'is had, from time to
time, to face the venom and fury of their adversaries. One such was
Sultan-Mas'ud Mirza, the Zillu's-Sultan, who was always alert to
inflict some fresh injury upon them. He stretched out his hand,
already stained with the blood of the innocent, snatched Mirza
Ashraf, and had him delivered to the executioner.

A letter written by the father of the present writer to Edward
Granville Browne, on 3 July 1889 gives the full story of the
martyrdom of the second Ashraf--Ashraf of Abadih. Browne published
a partial translation of the letter in the Journal of the Royal
Asiatic Society for October 1889 (pp. 998-9) prefaced by these

Those who were present at the Meeting of the Society on April 15th,
1889 at which my first paper was read, will remember that in the
discussion which followed it, General Houtum-Schindler stated that
a Babi had been put to death at Isfahan in October, 1888. In reply
to inquiries which I made of my friends in Persia, I received a
little time ago a letter containing an account of this event, of
a portion of which I here give the translation:

'You wrote that you had heard from General Schindler of the
martyrdom of one of this sect [the Persian word 'Tayifih' used in
the letter means 'a people', 'nation', 'tribe']. The details are
these. A child, who was one of the servants of the andarun (women's
apartments) of the Prince Zill-es-Sultan, had become acquainted
with several individuals of "the friends" (ahbab), and Aka Mirza
Ashraf of Abade had apprized him of this Matter ['Amr': 'Cause']
(i.e. had converted him to Babiism). News of this reaches the
Prince Zill-es-Sultan. They torment the child to make him tell the
truth, but he in no wise discloses the matter. Guile enters the
hearts of the Prince's servants. One of them goes and inquires of
several of "the friends", "Where is Aka Mirza Ashraf? I have a wife
in Abade, and I desire to send her a letter and some money. Since
Aka Mirza Ashraf has acquaintances in Abade, I wish to send them
by means of him." These, believing this representation, point out
to him the abode of Aka Mirza Ashraf. When they recognize Aka Mirza
Ashraf, they seize him and bring him into the presence of the
Prince. The Prince inquires of Aka Mirza Ashraf, "Art thou of this
sect?" He answers, "I am not." He says, "If thou art not, curse"
(them, or the Bab or Beha). He replies, "Since their wickedness has
not been made apparent to me, I will not curse" (them). ['I have
not seen anything bad from them, I will not curse.'] <p32>
Eventually the Prince obtains a decision from several of the
'Uluma, and telegraphs to Teheran, "If this person be not killed,
the 'Ulama and the populace will raise disturbance: the 'Ulama,
moreover, have pronounced sentence: he himself, also, has confessed
that he is of this sect, and it is necessary to kill him to quiet
the people. " The order comes from Teheran, "Do whatever appears
desirable. " Then the Prince orders the execution of Aka Mirza
Ashraf. According to the accounts I have heard, they cut off his
head and then gibbet him. Afterwards they set fire to his body. I
myself was acquainted with Aqa Mirza Ashraf. [Not translated by
Browne: 'I met him in Bombay in the year 1884. We oftentimes met
each other there.'] His age seemed to be about sixty. He was a man
of understanding and education; a good calligraphist; and extremely
courteous and amiable. [Not translated by Browne: 'In the year
1886, when I was coming from Tihran to Shiraz, I met him again in
Abadih.'] In every way he was a most excellent man.'

Edward Browne inserted the Persian text of this letter in Note Y
of the Appendices to his translation of A Traveller's Narrative,
and followed it by these lines:

On August 4th, the day after I received the above letter, I wrote
to a friend at Isfahan, on whose kindness I felt sure I might rely,
for information which no one was better qualified than himself to
give. On October 8th, just a year after Mirza Ashraf's martyrdom,
I received his answer, which bore the date September 6th, 1889.
'Yes,' he wrote, 'it is quite true that Aga Mirza Ashraf of Abade
was put to death for his religion in the most barbarous manner in
Ispahan about October last. The hatred of the Mullas was not
satisfied with his murder, but they mutilated the poor body
publicly in the maidan in the most savage manner, and then burnt
what was left of it.'

Thus died Aqa Mirza Ashraf of Abaidih, and that was what the
rapacious enemy did to the 'mutilated' body of that 'most excellent
man'. <p33>

The Twin Shining Lights

The Twin Shining Lights or The Twin Luminous Orbs, were two
stalwart brothers, natives of Isfahan, whom the Pen of Baha'u'llah
the Most Sublime Pen--extolled as Sultanu'sh-Shuhada' (the King of
Martyrs) and Mahbubu'sh-Shuhada' (the Beloved of Martyrs). Mirza
Muhammad-Hasan, the King of Martyrs, was two years younger than his
brother, Mirza Muhammad-Husayn, the Beloved of Martyrs. They were
beheaded in the city of 'Abbas the Great in the year 1879. Their
deaths were planned, decreed and encompassed by three persons: Mir
Muhammad-Husayn, the Imam-Jum'ih of Isfahan, stigmatized by
Baha'u'llah as Raqsha'--the She-Serpent; Shaykh Muhammad-Baqir,
another influential divine of that city whom the Most Sublime Pen
singled out as Dhi'b--the Wolf; and Sultan-Mas'ud Mirza, the
Zillu's-Sultan, the avaricious, tyrannical son of Nasiri'd-Din Shah
who governed that city of immortal memory. It was the rapacity and
the innate viciousness of those divines, combined with the greed
and corruption of the Prince-Governor, which delivered those noble
souls, whom all the inhabitants of Isfahan knew as selfless,
upright and kindly men, into the hands of the executioner. Decades
later, in Paris, the Prince begged 'Abdu'l-Baha to believe that he
was only carrying out the orders of his father, the monarch, who
was goaded by those rascally men, Mir Muhammad-Husayn and Shaykh
Muhammad-Baqir, and that he himself was innocent of complicity in
that crime. But he was lying blatantly. It is true that the murders
of those two brothers were envisaged and planned at the beginning
by the two divines, but the Prince-Governor's interest was aroused
by the discovery that a large sum of money was involved.

Mirza Hasan and Mirza Husayn were both rich and highly endowed <p34> <p35>
with trading acumen. Following in the footsteps of their father,
Mirza Ibrahim, a brother of Mirza Muhammad-'Aliy-i-Nahri and Mirza
Hadiy-i-Nahri,[1] they had for years acted for the Imam-Jum'ih in
the management of his property. Due to their assiduous attention
to the interests of the Imam-Jum'ih the estate of that unscrupulous
divine prospered, but because of the payments they had to make on
his behalf, Mir Muhammad-Husayn came to owe them the sum of
eighteen thousand tumans, which was quite a substantial amount in
those days. The two brothers were merchants and as such always,
naturally, had a number of creditors and debtors. At a time when
the Afnans (the relatives of the Bab) had vast and exceedingly
profitable trading concerns stretching from Hong Kong to Tiflis
(Tbilisi) in the Caucasus,[2] Mirza Hasan and Mirza Husayn, in
Isfahan, acted commercially in concert with them. And now, when the
two brothers asked the Imam-Jum'ih for the money owed to them, he
stalled, and made the payment dependent on a careful scrutiny of
the books. Even then he jibbed at clearing his debt and set about
finding a way to evade payment. One day in the public bath he
happened to meet Shaykh Muhammad-Baqir, who was a divine more
influential than himself. He told the latter of his plight (which
was anything but sorrowful), his huge debt to Mirza Hasan and Mirza
Husayn, and spoke at length of the riches of the two brothers.
Shaykh Muhammad-Baqir, enticed by the wealth involved, promised the
perfidious Imam-Jum'ih his support and the two of them concocted
a plan to destroy the two honest and upright merchants. Next, they
went to the Prince-Governor with their nefarious design. As soon
as he was apprised of considerable riches, he unhesitatingly agreed
to have Mirza Hasan and Mirza Husayn detained.
[1. The reader is referred to Baha'u'llah, The King of Glory, pp. 33-42. (Ed.)]
[2. Haji Mirza Muhammad-'Ali, cousin of the Bab (a son of His
maternal uncle, Haji Mirza Siyyid Muhammad), had the virtual
monopoly of trading in Chinese porcelain ware, and these goods were
manufactured to his specifications for the nobility of Iran, even
for Nasiri'd-Din Shah, with the names of the clients inscribed on
them. His own name: 'Muhammad-'Ali al-Husayni', was inscribed on
some pieces which were ordered for himself or for members of his
family and relatives. Photographs exist of Nasiri'd-Din Shah
sitting at his meal with such Chinese porcelain plates, bowls and
dishes on his table.]

On the 17th day of Rabi'u'l-Avval, which the Shi'ihs consider to
have been the day of the Birth of the Prophet, those two intrepid
men with a younger brother, Mirza Isma'il, called on the
Imam-Jum'ih to offer him their felicitations. Aqa
Muhammad-Baqir-i-Mudarris, who was a father-in-law of
Zillu's-Sultan and a man free of guile and fanaticism, well aware
of the intentions of the two plotting divines, advised <p36>
Mirza Hasan to take himself away from that hostile assemblage as
soon as he could. Mirza Hasan left the house of the Imam-Jum'ih
silently and quietly and repaired to the house of the man who had
given him a friendly warning. Shortly after, Mirz6 Husayn and the
youthful Mirza Isma'il went to the Imam-Jum'ih, as it was customary
to ask his permission to leave. The Imam-Jum'ih told them to stay
for a while longer, because he had some business to transact with
them, and then, noticing that the other brother was not with them,
enquired where Mirza Hasan was. He became much agitated when he
learned that Mirza Hasan had left, and immediately dispatched his
men to seek him and bring him back. They went in search of him to
his house, only to be told that he was still with the Imam-Jum'ih
and had not returned. Infuriated, the minions of that unscrupulous
divine broke brutally into the house of Mirza Hasan, even into
rooms and apartments--the andaruni--where the ladies of the
household lodged. Neither in his house nor anywhere else could they
find any trace of Mirza Hasan. Then, a mischief-maker informed the
Imam-Jum'ih that the man he was seeking was in the house of Aqa
Muhammad-Baqir-i-Mudarris and they, the two scheming divines, sent
word to Zillu's-Sultan that Mirza Hasan had taken refuge there.
When the Prince-Governor, himself well involved in that diabolical
plot, learned that his own father-in-law had given protection to
Mirza Hasan, he demanded an explanation. Aqa Muhammad-Baqir was
angered, informed Mirza Hasan of Zillu's-Sultan's high-handed
action and together they rode to the residence of the Prince. In
the meantime Mirza Husayn and Mirza Isma'il had both been put under
arrest. And Zillu's-Sultan, as soon as he set eyes on Mirza Hasan,
began to upbraid him. He grew violent in his denunciation, and
seeing that Mirza Hasan would not yield an inch in renouncing his
Faith, took that noble siyyid's firmness as a personal insult and
struck Mirza Hasan's head and face with his cane, drawing blood.

Let the able and creative pen of Mirza Abu'l-Fadl of Gulpaygan tell
the rest of the story of the Nurayn-i-Nayyirayn--the Twin Luminous

During the days of their imprisonment, he [the Prince] sent for
Jinab-i-Mirza [Mirza Hasan] several times and held parleys with
him. One day, he told Jinab-i-Mirza that the Imam-Jum'ih and others
of the 'ulama of Isfahan were complaining that he had become a
believer in this novel Cause. The Mirza replied: 'That is true, but
the reason that the Imam-Jum'ih is inimical <p37>
towards me is this: I have for several years defrayed all the
expenses of his household, what they ate and what they wore. He
owes me a sum of money, and because I have lately asked him to
settle his debt he has turned against me.' The Prince said: 'That
is true, but now come and renounce this Faith, and curse its
leaders.' Jinab-i-Mirza remained silent. Zillu's-Sultan continued
to press him, saying: 'I swear by the salt of His Majesty the
monarch, and the pure soul of the Commander of the Faithful ['Ali,
the First Imam] that should you curse them, I would always give you
help and support, get from the Imam-Jum'ih all that he owes you and
make your enemies disappointed, make them abandon their hostility.'
Again that manifestation of constancy said nothing. In the end the
Prince said: 'Come, by my life, and curse them.' But his insistence
was of no avail. Seeing that, the Prince was infuriated and
shouted: 'Why don't you curse them?' Jinab-i-Mirza, at last, spoke:
'If Your Highness knew what I know, you would not order me to do
any cursing.' Hearing this, the Prince became totally a changed
man, enraged, bestial, burning with fury, completely beside
himself, his face alarmingly darkening, and his hand went several
times to his sword, half unsheathing it. Finally he took up his
walking-stick and so pounded the head and face of that Rock of
Constancy that the blessed visage was covered with wounds. Then,
before an examining body, Mirza Muhammad-Husayn, too, refused to
renounce his Faith. But being very young and tender in years, Mirza
Isma'il did not follow the example of his two glorious brothers and
took himself apart from the true Faith. Thus he was freed.[1]
However, the Imam-Jum'ih and others thought that the noble descent
and the wealth of the Mirza might bring about his freedom and so,
once again, they took counsel together. There in that gathering
they decided to present the case to the sovereign and obtain
permission to have the Mirza executed. Whereupon, they sent a
telegram to Haji Mulla 'Aliy-i-Kani, who is today the Chief of the
jurists of Tihran, and asked him to inform His Majesty the monarch
that the 'ulama of Isfahan had, in their concern for the security
of the sovereign, detained and imprisoned two Babis, and now
requested his permission to have them put to death, so that
rendering him this service they should be considered as truly
well-wishers of the State. Having received that telegram, the Shah
ordered Zillu's-Sultan to dispatch the two brothers in chains to
Tihran. Being thus commanded, Zillu's-Sultan paused and did not go
ahead with the execution of the Mirza. But the Imam-Jum'ih and
Shaykh Baqir came to realize that the Shah would not involve
himself in the death of those two innocent men, and their journey
to Tihran would undoubtedly result in their release.
[1. It is said that the Imam-Jum'ih, for purposes of his own, gave
out that Mirza Isma'il had renounced his Faith. In any case, we
find Mirza Isma'il, in later years, back in the Baha'i fold.]

So the two divines took counsel together a third time and decided
to carry out their design through public rioting. Therefore, on the
23rd day of Rabi'u'l-Avval 1296 [17 March 1879], they first ordered
the tradesmen and the shopkeepers in the bazar to shut their shops.
Next, the 'ulama, such as the <p38>
Imam-Jum'ih; Shaykh Baqir; Haji Mirza Hashim, who was a son of the
previous Imam-Jum'ih; Mirza 'Abdu'l-Javad, son of Aqa
Muhammad-Mihdiy-i-Kabbasi; Aqa Siyyid 'Aliy-i-Burujirdi, and others
of the jurists of Isfahan, numbering more than fifty--each one
accompanied by a huge crowd of rascals and rioters, tradesmen and
people of the bazaar--rode in the direction of the residence of the
governor. With shouts of 'Oh for our Religion! Oh for our Faith!'
they threw the whole city into uproar. As related by a reliable
man, their barbarous yells were heard as far away as Qal'iy-i-Gaz,
which lies at a distance of nine miles from Isfahan.

While this tumult was going on Zillu's-Sultan was in his bath. He
was greatly alarmed by the shouts of the populace and enquired the
reason for this gathering of the masses. He was told that the host
of the 'ulama and their followers had turned out, wishing to make
it known that there should no longer be any delay in dealing with
the case of the Mirza and demanding that His Highness put him to
death; otherwise they themselves with the force at their command
would have him executed. Zillu's-Sultan, leaving his bath, called
the 'ulama to his presence, and they made their demand. The Prince
told them that the two siyyids were not guilty of any treasonable
act and had done nothing hostile to the State; that the quarrel of
the 'ulama with them was totally of a religious and sectarian
nature, and he himself could not intervene in matters of faith and
belief; moreover, 'His Majesty, our sovereign Lord, has expressly
commanded me to send them to the capital; therefore I cannot order
their execution.' The 'ulama said: 'We will order their execution
and will shoulder the responsibility, as far as His Majesty is
concerned.' The Prince replied: 'But I shall not give orders to the
executioner to carry out this deed.' Several of the 'ulama in that
assemblage, one of whom was Shaykh Muhammad-Taqi, a son of Shaykh
Muhammad-Baqir and known as Shaykh Najafi, rolled up their sleeves,
declaring: 'With our own hands we shall slay them.' As the Prince
noticed that those hard-hearted men were thus daring and emboldened
in their wish to spill innocent blood, he told them: 'Write me an
edict and state the necessity of putting them to death. This is a
document that I shall require.' The 'ulama, some sixty of them who
were present, had such a document written, signed and witnessed,
and then sent it to the Prince. And as soon as he set eyes on that
piece of paper, the Prince issued orders for the demolition of the
edifice of sublimity and honour with the hatchet of tyranny, the
cutting down of the spreading tree of generosity and beneficence
with the axe of enmity and rebelliousness. Thus, as orders were
given for the downing of those twin resplendent stars of the
firmament of noble descent, satanic brutes dragged them out of the
prison-house, and by the side of Talar-i-Tavilih (one of the
renowned buildings of Isfahan, reared by the Safavid kings) spilled
their precious blood, which was the very essence of purity, the
repository of humaneness. After they had quaffed the cup of
martyrdom, ropes were fastened to their legs and their sanctified
bodies were dragged to the foot of the gallows, where they lay
throughout the day. The Prince had sent a number of his footmen to
keep watch around them and stop the people from throwing stones and
heaping insults. <p39> <p40>
At the close of the day, Shaykh Baqir ordered his own men to take
the corpses to a place near the rivulet 'Niyasarm', where an
archway was standing, place them under that arch, and bring it down
over them. Later, Zillu's-Sultan sent for Mirza Isma'il and told
him to give a proper burial to those two sanctified bodies, and he
committed them to earth in the Takht-i-Fulad cemetery. (Quoted in
Ishraq-i-Khavari, Kitab-i-Nurayn-i-Nayyirayn, pp. 260-65)
Exactly nine years later, early in 1888, Edward Granville Browne
was in Isfahan. He has told us in his immortal work, A Year Amongst
the Persians, how in that city of 'Abbas the Great, after months
of search and waiting, he met the followers of Baha'u'llah. There
it was that he had the privilege to converse, for an hour or two,
with that celebrated veteran of the Faith, Haji Mirza Haydar-'Ali,
himself a native of Isfahan. And he visited what was known to be
the graves of the Nurayn-i-Nayyirayn in the vast cemetery of

Let Browne himself, in his own inimitable way, tell us the story
of his visit to that sacrosanct spot:

...I asked the dallal whether he knew where the two Siyyids who
suffered martyrdom for the Babi faith about the year 1879 were

'Yes,' he replied, 'I know the spot well, and will take you there
if you wish it; but surely, Sahib, you who are so eager to obtain
our books, who desire to visit the graves of our martyrs, must be
prompted by some motive beyond mere curiosity. You have been to
Acre, you have been honoured by beholding the Blessed Countenance,
you are yourself a Babi. Say, is it not so? There is no need to
conceal anything from me.'

'My friend,' I answered, 'I am neither a Babi, nor have I been to
Acre; yet I confess that I am actuated by something more than mere
curiosity. I cannot but feel that a religion which has produced
examples of such heroic courage and fortitude as yours, merits a
careful examination, since that must needs contain noble thoughts
which can prompt to noble deeds. In visiting the graves of your
martyrs I would fain pay a tribute of respect to those who gave up
wealth, ease, and consideration, nay, even life itself, for the
faith which they held dearer than all else.'...

Next day, early in the afternoon, my friend the dallal came to
conduct me to the tombs of the martyrs. After a walk of more than
an hour in a blazing sun, we arrived at the vast cemetery called
Takht-i-Fulad ('the Throne of Steel'). Threading our way through
the wilderness of tombstones, my companion presently espied, and
summoned to us, a poor grave-digger, also belonging to the
persecuted sect, who accompanied us to a spot marked by two small
mounds of stones and pebbles. Here we halted, and the dallal, <p41>
turning to me, said, 'These are the graves of the martyrs. No stone
marks the spot, because the Musulmans destroyed those which we
placed here, and, indeed, it is perhaps as well that they have
almost forgotten the resting-places of those they slew, lest, in
their fanaticism, they should yet further desecrate them. And now
we will sit down for a while in this place, and I will tell you how
the death of these men was brought about. But first it is well that
our friend should read the prayer appointed for the visitation of
this holy spot.'

The other thereupon produced a little book from under his cloak,
and proceeded to read a prayer, partly in Arabic, partly in
Persian. When this was concluded, we seated ourselves by the
graves, and the dallal commenced his narrative.

'This,' said he, pointing to the mound nearest to us, 'is the tomb
of Haji Mirza Hasan, whom we call Sultanu'sh-Shuhada, "the King of
Martyrs", and that yonder is the resting-place of his elder
brother, Haji Mirza Huseyn, called Mahbubu'sh-Shuhada, "the Beloved
of Martyrs". They were Seyyids by birth, and merchants by
profession; yet neither their descent from the Prophet, nor their
rare integrity in business transactions and liberality to the poor,
which were universally acknowledged, served to protect them from
the wicked schemes of their enemies'... (Edward Granville Browne,
A Year Amongst the Persians, pp. 227-8, 231-2)

Edward Browne then proceeds to relate the circumstances of the
martyrdom of the Nurayn-i-Nayyirayn, as he heard them that
afternoon from Aqa Javad, the dallal of Isfahan, and later from the
Baha'is of Shiraz. Continuing with the narration of Aqa Javad, he

...'But we cannot mark the spot where they are buried with a stone,
for when one was put up, the Musulmans, whose malignity towards us
is unbounded, and who know very well that we pay visits to these
graves in secret, overthrew it. Our friend here' (pointing to his
companion) 'was brought to believe by means of these martyrs. Was
it not so?'

'Yes,' answered the other, 'some time after their death I saw in
a dream vast crowds of people visiting a certain spot in the
cemetery. I asked in my dream, "Whose are these graves?" An answer
came, "Those of the 'King of Martyrs' and the 'Beloved of
Martyrs'." Then I believed in that faith for which they had
witnessed with their blood, seeing that it was accepted of God; and
since then I visit them continually, and strive to keep them neat
and orderly, and preserve the spot from oblivion by renewing the
border of bricks and the heap of stones which is all that marks

'He is a good man,' rejoined the dallal, 'and formerly those of the
"Friends" who came to visit the graves used to rest for a while in
the little house which he has near here, and partake of tea and,
kalyans. The Musulmans, however, found this out, made a raid on his
house, abused and threatened him, and, before they departed,
destroyed his tea-things and pipes. He is very poor,' he added in
a whisper, 'give him a kran [qiran] for his trouble; it is an
action which has merit.' <p42>

I accordingly gave a small present to our guide, who departed with
expressions of gratitude. After sitting a little while longer we
too rose to go, and, taking a last look at the graves, from each
of which I carried away a small stone as a memento, we once more
turned our faces towards the city. On our way towards the gate of
the cemetery we again passed the poor grave-digger with his little
boy, and he again greeted me with expressions of thankfulness and
good wishes for my journey.

I was much touched by the kindliness of these poor people, and
communicated something of my thoughts to my companion.

[As Edward Browne relates, Aqa Javad then told him:] '...we are
taught to regard all good men as clean and pure, whatever their
religion.... Has it not struck you how similar were the life and
death of our Founder (whom, indeed, we believe to have been Christ
Himself returned to earth) to those of the Founder of your faith?
Both were wise, even in their childhood, beyond the comprehension
of those around them; both were pure and blameless in their lives;
and both at last were done to death by a fanatical priesthood and
a government alarmed at the love and devotion which they inspired
in their disciples.[1] But besides this the ordinances enjoined
upon us are in many respects like those which you follow. We are
recommended to take to our-selves only one wife, ... we believe
that women ought to be allowed to mix more freely with men, and
should not be compelled to wear the veil.' (Edward Granville
Browne, A Year Amongst the Persians, pp. 234-6)
[1. The Babis for the most part, unlike the Muhammadans, believe
that Christ was actually crucified by the Jews, and not, as the
latter assert, taken up into heaven miraculously, while another,
resembling Him in appearance, was crucified in His stead. But few
of the Muhammadans are conversant with the Gospels, while the
reverse holds good of the Babis, many of whom take pleasure in
reading the accounts of the life and death of Jesus Christ. (EGB)]

In suchwise the dallal of Isfahan went on to speak to Browne, on
their walk back to Isfahan. 'Conversing thus,' Browne writes:

...we arrived at the side of the river, just where it is spanned
by the bridge called Pul-i-Khaju, a much finer structure than even
the bridge of thirty-three arches which I had admired so much on
my entry into Julfa. My companion suggested that we should sit here
awhile on the lower terrace (for the bridge is built on two levels)
and smoke a kalyan, and to this I readily consented. (Edward
Granville Browne, A Year Amongst the Persians, p. 238)

The final paragraph of the chapter on Isfahan in Edward Browne's
imperishable book has no connection with the story of the
Nurayn-i-Nayyirayn or the author's encounter with the followers of
Baha'u'llah; but it is truly worth quoting in full because it well
describes the depredations and the havoc wrought by the unholy
hands of Zillu's-Sultan and his minions in the splendrous city of
'Abbas the Great: <p43>

After admiring the massive piers and solid masonry of the bridge,
and the wide sweep here made by the Zayanda-Rud, we resumed our way
along the southern bank in the direction of Julfa. On our way we
visited the deserted palace called Haft-dast ('Seven Hands'). Here
was visible the same neglected splendour and ruined magnificence
which was discernible elsewhere. One building, the Namak-dan
('Salt-cellar'), had just been pulled down by one of the ministers
of the Zillu's-Sultan to afford material for a house which he was
building for himself. Another, called A'ine-khane ('the Chamber of
Mirrors'), was nearly stripped of the ornaments which gave it its
name, the remainder being for the most part broken and cracked.
Everywhere it was the same--crumbling walls, heaps of rubbish, and
marred works of art, still beautiful in spite of injuries, due as
much to wanton mischief as to mere neglect. Would that some portion
of that money which is spent in building new palaces in the
capital, and constructing mihman-khanes [hotels, guesthouses]
neither beautiful nor pleasant, were devoted to the preservation
of the glorious relics of a past age! That, however, is as a rule
the last thing an Oriental monarch cares about. To construct
edifices which may perpetuate his own name is of far more
importance in his eyes than to protect from injury those built by
his predecessors, which, indeed, he is perhaps not sorry to see
crumbling away like the dynasties which reared them. And so it goes
on king succeeding king, dynasty overthrowing dynasty, ruin added
to ruin; and through it all the mighty spirit of the people
'dreaming the dream of the soul's disentanglement', while the
stony-eyed lions of Persepolis look forth in their endless watch
over a nation which slumbers, but is not dead. (Edward Granville
Browne, A Year Amongst the Persians, pp. 238-9)

Unfortunately, Consular Reports of Isfahan, for the period
concerned, do not exist in the Public Record Office in London. They
seem to have been destroyed. However, a dispatch dated June 1879
is extant, sent by Sir Ronald Thomson, the British Minister in
Tihran, to Lord Salisbury, the Foreign Secretary, informing him of
the execution of the two brothers of Isfahan and its circumstances.
Sir Ronald writes:

Several serious disturbances have lately occurred in Isfahan and
unfortunately the governor of that province, being the Zil-i-Sultan
a son of the Shah, instead of being censured or withdrawn was
supported by the government.

The Imam-i-Joomeh, or Chief Priest, owed sum of Eighteen thousand
Tomans (Ts. 18,000) to two respectable and wealthy Seyeds, and to
avoid payment of the debt he accused them of being Babis and
Socialists; they were accordingly seized, their property made away
with by the authorities, and they themselves put to death. This
gave rise to great excitement in Isfahan and news of the occurrence
having been telegraphed to me, I immediately made representations
through the Minister for Foreign Affairs to the Shah, and orders
were sent down to Isfahan which resulted in putting a stop to
further atrocities which were in contemplation. (Cited Momen, The
Babi and Baha'i Religions, p. 277) <p44>

Let it not be imagined that 'Raqsha'--the She-Serpent--that
faithless Imam-Jum'ih of Isfahan thus castigated and designated by
the Most Exalted Pen, lightly escaped the consequences of his
treachery to enjoy his ill-gotten gains. At one time there was a
moment when it seemed that wise counsels might prevail. Some people
were reluctant to allow the spilling of innocent blood. These two
brothers, they averred, were of impeccable record and conduct; they
were noble scions of the noble House of Muhammad, distinguished
descendants of Fatimih; why should their deaths be envisaged? The
unprincipled Imam-Jum'ih, sensing that he might lose his prey,
struck his neck and exclaimed: 'Their blood be on my neck [the same
as 'be it on my head'], I accept full responsibility.' Thus he
envisaged his own destruction, and that dastardly deed, the slaying
of those two brothers, came to pass.

Hardly had a year elapsed since the martyrdom of the
Nurayn-i-Nayyirayn, when on that very spot of the Imam-Jum'ih's
neck which he had struck, in token of his acceptance of full
responsibility for the spilling of innocent blood, there appeared
a swelling which soon turned into a nasty and troublesome boil and
the matter collecting in it was exceedingly unpleasant. That wicked
divine had to abandon Isfahan and his seat of authority, going from
village to village, nowhere finding relief. Finally his whole body
became so malodorous that his own family could not bear to be
anywhere near him. And when he died after months of extreme misery,
porters had to be brought to carry unceremoniously his corpse to
an unknown grave.

And there is a strange sequel to the death of that Imam-Jum'ih of
Isfahan which took place on 21 June 1881. The British Agent S. P.
Aganoor, reporting to the Minister in Tihran, wrote on 4 July:
'...people of Isfahan, in his honer [sic], shut the shops and
Bazars, but the Prince Governor sent ferashes [farrshes] and
ordered to open them.' (Public Record Office, FO 248/384)

Years rolled on, decades passed, the graves of the
Nurayn-i-Nayyirayn remained obscure and forlorn--but not forgotten
by those who cherished their memory. At the beginning of the second
Baha'i century a beautiful monument was raised over their remains,
and although it has in recent years been destroyed by the same
fanatical spirit that encompassed their deaths and now rules over
Iran, the time will come when the Baha'is of the world will honour
these great heroes of their Faith in a manner befitting their
courage, fidelity and sacrifice. <p45>

Lamentation of the Most Exalted Pen

Many and most poignant were the verses which flowed from the Most
Exalted Pen in lamentation over the appalling tragedy, the cruel
extinction of the Nurayn-i-Nayyirayn--the Twin Shining Lights of
the city of 'Abbas the Great.

The heart-rending cry: 'O Land of Sad [Isfahan]... Where is My
Hasan!... Where is My Husayn!...' was wrung from the lips of the
Supreme Manifestation of God.

Addressing the Son of the Wolf, Baha'u'llah wrote in the evening
of His life:

O heedless one! Rely not on thy glory, and thy power. Thou art even
as the last trace of sunlight upon the mountain-top. Soon will it
fade away as decreed by God, the All-Possessing, the Most High. Thy
glory and the glory of such as are like thee have been taken away,
and this verily is what hath been ordained by the One with Whom is
the Mother Tablet. Where is he to be found who contended with God,
and whither is gone he that gainsaid His signs, and turned aside
from His sovereignty? Where are they who have slain His chosen ones
and spilt the blood of His holy ones? Reflect, that haply thou
mayest perceive the breaths of thine acts, O foolish doubter!
Because of you the Apostle [Muhammad] lamented, and the Chaste One
[Fatimih] cried out, and the countries were laid waste, and
darkness fell upon all regions. O concourse of divines! Because of
you the people were abased, and the banner of Islam was hauled
down, and its mighty throne subverted. Every time a man of
discernment hath sought to hold fast unto that which would exalt
Islam, you raised a clamor, and thereby was he deterred from
achieving his purpose, while the land remained fallen in clear

O My Supreme Pen! Call Thou to remembrance the She-Serpent
[Imam-Jum'ih of Isfahan] whose cruelty hath caused all created
things to groan, and the limbs of the holy ones to quake. Thus
biddeth Thee the Lord of all names, in this glorious station. The
Chaste One [Fatimih] hath cried out by reason of thine iniquity,
and yet thou dost imagine thyself to be of the family of the
Apostle of God! Thus hath thy soul prompted thee, O thou who hast
withdrawn thyself from God, the Lord of all that hath been and
shall be. Judge thou equitably, O She-Serpent! For what crime didst
thou sting the <p46>
children of the Apostle of God [King of Martyrs and Beloved of
Martyrs], and pillage their possessions? Hast thou denied Him Who
created thee by His command 'be, and it was'? Thou hast dealt with
the children of the Apostle of God as neither 'Ad hath dealt with
Hud nor Thamud with Salih, nor the Jews with the Spirit of God
[Jesus], the Lord of all being. Gainsayest thou the signs of Thy
Lord which no sooner were they sent own from the heaven of His
Cause than all the books of the world bowed down before them?
Meditate, that thou mayest be made aware of thine act, 0 heedless
outcast! Ere long will the breaths of chastisement seize thee, as
they seized others before thee. Wait, 0 thou who hast joined
partners with God, the Lord of the visible and the invisible. This
is the day which God hath announced through the tongue of His
Apostle. Reflect, that thou mayest apprehend what the All-Merciful
hath sent down in the Qur'an and in this inscribed Tablet. This is
the day whereon He Who is the Dayspring of Revelation hath come
with clear tokens which none can number. This is the day whereon
every man endued with perception hath discovered the fragrance of
the breeze of the All-Merciful in the world of creation, and every
man of insight hastened unto the living waters of the mercy of His
Lord, the King of Kings.... Didst thou imagine that martyrdom could
abase this Cause? Nay, by Him Whom God hath made to be the
Repository of His Revelation, if thou be of them that comprehend.
Woe betide thee, 0 thou who hast joined partners with God, and woe
betide them that have taken thee as their leader, without a clear
token or a perspicuous Book. How numerous the oppressors before
thee, who have arisen to quench the light of God, and how many the
impious who murdered and pillaged until the hearts and souls of men
groaned by reason of their cruelty! The sun of justice hath been
obscured, inasmuch as the embodiment of tyranny hath been
stablished upon the throne of hatred, and yet the people understand
not. 0 foolish one! Thou hast slain the children of the Apostle and
pillaged their possessions. Say: Was it, in thine estimation, their
possessions or themselves that denied God? Judge fairly, O ignorant
one that hath been shut out as by a veil from God. Thou hast clung
to tyranny, and cast away justice; whereupon all created things
have lamented, and still thou art among the wayward. Thou hast put
to death the aged, and plundered the young. Thinkest thou that thou
wilt consume that which thine iniquity hath amassed? Nay, by
Myself! Thus informeth thee He Who is cognizant of all. By God! The
things thou possessest shall profit thee not, nor what thou hast
laid up through thy cruelty. Unto this beareth witness Thy Lord,
the All-Knowing. Thou hast arisen to put out the light of this
Cause; ere long will thine own fire be quenched, at His behest. He,
verily, is the Lord of strength and of might. The changes and
chances of the world, and the powers of the nations, cannot
frustrate Him. He doeth what He pleaseth, and ordaineth what He
willeth through the power of His sovereignty. Consider the
she-camel. Though but a beast, yet hath the All-Merciful exalted
her to so high a station that the tongues of the earth made mention
of her and celebrated her praise. He, verily, overshadoweth all
that is in the heavens, and on earth. No God is <p47>
there but Him, the Almighty, the Great. Thus have We adorned the
heaven of Our Tablet with the suns of Our words. Blessed the man
that hath attained thereunto, and been illumined with their light,
and woe betide such as have turned aside, and denied Him, and
strayed far from Him. Praised be God, the Lord of the worlds!
(Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, pp. 99-103)

And thus did the Most Exalted Pen[1] address Shaykh Kazim of
Qazvin, whom Baha'u'llah had honoured with the designation of
[1. Baha'u'llah]

He is the Consoler in this sublime, supreme station. O Samandar!
Verily, He, Who is the Supreme Ordainer, consoleth Himself for that
which came upon Him from those who took to oppression and turned
their backs on justice, following the path of satanic souls who
aspire to evil ways. Verily, the people of 'Ad and Thamud meted
unto Salih and Hud that which caused the Sadratu'l-Muntaha to
lament and the Concourse on high to wail. Unto that beareth witness
this Wronged One, sorrowful and exiled. By God, they crucified the
Spirit [Jesus], hamstrung the She-Camel [of Salih] and smashed the
Ark of the Covenant. Thy Lord well knoweth and expoundeth this unto <p48>
thee. He eulogizeth His chosen ones and consoleth His loved Ones
on this affliction which hath caused justice to moan and the
Faithful Spirit [Gabriel] to wail. Verily, verily, they have slain
My chosen ones and pillaged their property. Thus hath the decree
been fulfilled and yet most of the people are of the heedless.

0 Samandar! Verily, We have seen the beloved Joseph caught by the
fangs of wolves, and Husayn captive in the claws of tyrants. By
God, this nation hath done what the Jews did not do to the Spirit
[Jesus] nor Abu Jahl to Muhammad, My Apostle, Whom We adorned with
the mantle of the 'Seal', and sent unto the denizens of heaven and
earth. They have, verily, committed that which no one in the world
had committed, and to that beareth witness the Lord of Eternity
from this Scene of transcendent glory. After Hasan and Husayn had
attained their station, and some days passed, We laid hands on the
source of tyranny and oppression, through Our Sovereignty. Verily,
thy Lord is the All-Powerful, the Almighty. Great is the
blessedness of those who drew nigh unto them and visited their
resting-places. They are, verily, the people of God in the kingdom
of creation. Thus did the Most Exalted Pen decree in this glorious,
incomparable Book. Woe betide them who have cast the Tablet of God
behind them and followed everyone who hath been a worker of
iniquity and hath gone far astray.

Ponder, 0 My Samandar, My patience and forbearance notwithstanding
My power and might, and My silence in spite of the penetrative
influence of My word which standeth supreme over all the worlds.
Should We have wished We could have seized those who have wronged
Us outwardly with the hand of one of the servants of God, or
through the intervention of well-favoured angels. We act according
to the dictates of wisdom which We have set to be a guiding light
for My people and the denizens of My Kingdom. Verily, thy Lord is
the All-Knowing, the Wise. Ere long We shall take hold of those who
have acted with tyranny as We seized others before them. Verily,
thy Lord commandeth what He willeth. (Quoted in Ishraq-i-Khavari,
Kitab-i-Nurayn-i-Nayyirayn, pp. 172-4)

And the Tongue of Power and Might[1] thus spoke to the bereaved
family of the Nurayn-i-Nayyirayn:
[1. Baha'u'llah]

He is the Consoler

0 Scions of that House! Verily, there hath come upon you in the
path of God that which came upon the descendants of the Apostle and
their women and children in the Land of Taff [Karbila] and
elsewhere. Be ye confident of the grace of God and of His mercy.
He is, verily, with you in every world of His worlds, and He is the
Ever-Watchful, the Ever-Present, the All-Seeing. Woe unto those who
wronged you and slew you and pillaged your possessions. By My life,
they are in manifest loss. Ere long the gales of chastisement will
beat upon them from every side. Verily, He is the All-Informed, the
All-Knowing. Put your trust in God and say: 'Well is it with us,
and blessed are we <p49>
for that which hath come upon us in His straight Path. Praise be
to God, the Lord of all worlds.' (Quoted in Ishraq-i-Khavari,
Kitab-i-Nurayn-i-Nayyirayn, p. 172)

The Most Exalted Pen was moved, once again, by the tragedy of
Isfahan thus to inscribe:

In the Name of God, the Almighty, the All-Powerful
Thy letter was received and studied. Verily, that people hath been
guilty of such oppression as hath cast gloom over the dominions of
earth and heaven; those Twin Shining Lights were so wronged that
the hosts of the Supreme Concourse have bewailed their plight.
Ponder the fate of the Son of Zechariah [John the Baptist]: his
head was stricken from his body at the whim of the adulteress of
that age; and ponder what befell the Scion of the Apostle of God
[the Imam Husayn]: he was slain by order of the most debased man
of his time. Was it those who were martyred who found themselves
in great loss, or was it the tyrants? All created things have
loudly proclaimed that it was the tyrants who went down into
manifest perdition.

How burdensome was this affliction, and how profound the abasement
that it caused, yet it was, by God, a supreme exaltation which but
appeared in the guise of abasement. Protect this sublime station
and regard not that which is seen in this day. Verily, God hath
taken hold of these people in the past and will seize them now and
will cleanse the earth of the defilement of their presence. And He
will raise you to that station towards which all faces shall turn,
and in the mention of which all the tongues in the world shall be

Hearken to the call of this Wronged One and cling unto that which
He hath mentioned. Verily, He is a trusted Counsellor... Comfort
and console all the kindred on behalf of this Wronged One. Verily,
He is the Consoler, the All-Knowing . . . That which is required
of thee is to win the goodpleasure of the family of the Two
Martyrs, upon whom be the Glory of God. Shouldst thou ponder for
a while thou wouldst come to know for a certainty that that which
hath transpired is infinite exaltation now and in the future. To
this testifieth He with Whom is the knowledge of the Book. Praise
be to God, the Lord of Lords. (Quoted in Ishraq-i-Khavari,
Kitab-i-Nurayn-i-Nayyirayn, pp. 182-3)

And the Tongue of Might and Power thus addressed the eloquent poet,
Mirza 'Ali-Muhammad, master of limpid verse, himself a glorious
martyr of later years, whom Baha'u'llah had honoured and extolled
with the designation of 'Varqa'--Nightingale:

He is the Most Holy, the Supreme

O Varqa! The Servant in Attendance[1] attained My presence and
mentioned what thou hadst written and We found thy letter a mirror
reflecting thy love for the Beloved of the world and thy turning
towards Him. Great is thy blessedness for having drawn nigh, for
having drunk thy fill, and for having been <p50>
caused to attain. Verily, thy Lord is the Resplendent Expounder.
Verily, We witness the fire that hath encompassed thee in thy love
for thy Lord, We see its flaring up and hear the crackling of its
flames. Exalted be He Who hath ignited it, He Who hath made its
flames to leap high, He Who hath revealed it to all men. He is that
Almighty Lord before the evidence of Whose might the essence of
power acknowledgeth its helplessness. Verily, thy Lord is He who
heareth and seeth, and is the All-Knowing. Rejoice, for this
Wronged One maketh mention of thee as He hath in the past, and even
in this instant, as He paceth, He giveth utterance to these words:
'Verily, We have sensed the sweet scent of thy love, and have
witnessed thy sincerity and thy humility, as thy heart was occupied
with the mention of Me and thy tongue with My wondrous praise.'
Thus hath the Sea of life sprinkled its waters upon thee, that thou
mayest rejoice in the days of thy glorious, incomparable Lord.
[1. Mirza Aqa Jan]

0 Varqa! Thy call was heard and thy letter was presented before the
Throne. Praise be to God! By it the fire of divine love blazed
up... Some of the believers are seen to be sorrowful, even fearful
at the events in the Land of Sad [Isfahan]; whilst it was the Hand
of Divine Might which graciously singled them out and, from the
heaven of His mercy and the clouds of His generosity, caused the
overflowing rains of affluence and abundance to shower upon them.
The consummate power of God adorned them with honour among the
people, so that the tongues of the sincere who enjoyed near access
unto Him spoke forth in their praise. They reached such heights
that their adversaries bore witness to the elevation of their high
rank. Then, at the end of their days, they attained the most
exalted station which is that of supreme sacrifice; this is a
station which God's chosen ones and His loved ones have at all
times desired and everlastingly sought. Notwithstanding, some are
sad and sorrowful. It is hoped that this grief hath appeared
because of the love entertained for them. I swear by the ocean of
divine mysteries that should the station of but one of the servants
now engaged in their service be made manifest, the people of the
world would be shaken asunder. Great is the blessedness of him who
pondereth over that which hath transpired, that he may be informed
of the greatness of this Cause and its sovereignty. This station
which they attained was that which they themselves implored
God--exalted be His glory--to grant them, and which they wished and
desired with the utmost eagerness.

Say: 0 friends! Ye have endured much in the path of your love for
the Beloved of the worlds; ye have witnessed that which it was not
seemly to behold, and have heard that which ill became your ears,
and have endured such burdens in the path of the Friend as were
truly heavier than mountains. Great is the blessedness of your
backs, your eyes and your ears, for that which they bore and they
saw and they heard. Now ye should value this highly exalted
station, and not allow it to be squandered. In all cases this
ephemeral world and all who are therein will suffer death, and all
things therein will be caught in the claws of change. At all times
ask ye God--exalted be He--to keep you in His safekeeping, and to
cause you to be constant in the path of His Cause. Know ye well
that whatever ye have endured or seen or <p51>
heard for His sake hath been as a token of His special bounty unto
you. And among His eternal bestowals is the mention of you in His
Tablets. Verily, ye have tasted the cup of calamity in His path;
now drink your fill of the purest elixir from the goblets of His
remembrance of you and of His tender mercy unto you... Be not
saddened by what appeareth to be your weakness, your abasement and
your distress. I swear by the Sun of the Heaven of Independence
that honour, wealth and affluence are revolving around you, are
making mention of you and are turning towards you. If, in
accordance with the dictates of divine wisdom, their appearance is
for some days as yet veiled, days will come when each and all of
them will become evident and manifest as the sun. We beseech God
that men will partake of the sweetness of His divine Utterance.
(Quoted in Ishraq-i-Khavari, Kitab-i-Nurayn-i-Nayyirayn, pp. 184-7)

Let it be said unmistakably and unhesitatingly that, despite the
fearfulness of a few mentioned in this Tablet, the vast majority
of those who had given their allegiance to Baha'u'llah remained
firm and steadfast as the immovable rock, happy and blissful to
have entered His fold, and confident of that ultimate victory which
the Bab promised to His Letters of the Living, when He bade
farewell to them. History bears ample witness to this. <p52>

The Vazir of Khurasan

In Adrianople Baha'u'llah revealed one of His most momentous and
most significant Tablets, the Suriy-i-Ghusn (The Surih of the
Branch), and addressed it to Mirza 'Ali-Rida of Mashhad, known as
Mustawfi. The recipient, who came originally from the town of
Sabzivar in the province of Khurasan, was a remarkable man,
well-famed as a Baha'i, and high in the service of the government.
It was Mulla Husayn-i-Bushru'i, the Babu'l-Bab, who had guided him
to range himself under the standard of the new Theophany. He had
remained true to that allegiance throughout all the storms and
stresses that followed. When the Persians were beaten by the
Turkamans and the renowned city of Marv was lost to them, one of
the Persian officers who fell into the hands of the Turkamans was
'Abdu'l-'Ali Khan of Maraghih in the province of Adharbayjan, then
a colonel in the Persian army. As soon as Mirza 'Ali-Rida was
apprised of the plight of his fellow-believer, he sent eight
hundred tumans (a substantial sum in those days) through an
intermediary to the Turkamans in Marv, and obtained the release of
the colonel. Thus, Mirza 'Ali-Riday-i-Mustawfi was always ready and
well equipped with the riches he had, to serve the Cause which he
had embraced so ardently. And he never made it a secret that he had
given his allegiance to the Bab and Baha'u'llah.
It is well to quote here the following lines from the Suriy-i-Ghusn
with which Mirza 'Ali-Riday-i-Mustawfi was honoured:

There hath branched from the Sadratu'l-Muntaha this sacred and
glorious Being, this Branch of Holiness; well is it with him that
hath sought His shelter and abideth beneath His shadow. Verily the
Limb of the Law of God hath sprung forth from this Root which God
hath firmly implanted in the Ground of His Will, and Whose Branch
hath been so uplifted as to encompass the whole of creation.
Magnified be He, therefore, for this sublime, this blessed, this
mighty, this exalted Handiwork! 0 People! Draw ye nigh unto Him and
savour from Him the fruits of wisdom and knowledge which come from
God, <p53>
the Glorious, the All-Knowing. Whosoever doth not taste thereof
shall be deprived of the bounties of God, even if he should partake
of all that is on earth, did ye but know. Say: A Word hath, as a
token of Our grace, gone forth from the Most Great Tablet--a Word
which God hath adorned with the ornament of His own Self, and made
it sovereign over the earth and all that is therein, and a sign of
His greatness and power among its people that thereby they would
extol their Lord, the Lord of might and power and wisdom, praise
their Creator, and exalt the sanctity of the Godhead, Who standeth
supreme over all things. This is naught but that which hath been
revealed by Him, the All-Knowing, the Ancient of Days. Say: Render
thanks unto God, O people, for His appearance; for verily He is the
most great Favour unto you, the most perfect bounty upon you; and
through Him every mouldering bone is quickened. Whoso turneth
towards Him hath turned towards God, and whoso turneth away from
Him hath turned away from My Beauty, hath repudiated My Proof, and
transgressed against Me. He is the Trust of God amongst you, His
charge within you, His manifestation unto you and His appearance
among His favoured servants... We have sent Him down in the form
of a human temple. Blest and sanctified be God Who createth
whatsoever He willeth through His inviolable, His infallible
decree. They who deprive themselves of the shadow of the Branch,
are lost in the wilderness of error, are consumed by the heat of
worldly desires, and are of those who will assuredly perish.
(Quoted in Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha'u'llah, p. 135,
and Ishraq-i-Khavari, Ayyam-i-Tis'ih, p. 362)

One cannot overrate the significance of the Suriy-Ghusn, for in it,
in the very early years of His Ministry, Baha'u'llah indicated the
powers given to His eldest Son, as well as the developments still
in the womb of a distant future.

Mirza 'Ali-Riday-i-Mustawfi served the Cause of Baha'u'llah
faithfully and fearlessly until old age overtook him and he became
infirm. His brother, younger than he, was there to take his place:
Mirza Muhammad-Rida, the Mustasharu'l-Mulk, later entitled
Mu'taminu's-Saltanih. Rising high in the service of the State, he
became the Vazir of Khurasan, a post which he kept to the end of
his days until Nasiri'd-Din Shah treacherously encompassed his
death. Like his illustrious brother he never concealed the fact
that he was a follower of Baha'u'llah and totally dedicated to His
Cause. Because the State needed him, needed his profound knowledge
of affairs, his integrity and unblemished honesty, he stayed firmly
at the helm and prospered as the Vazir of Khurasan.

Just once in his remarkable career he ran into trouble with men
standing above him, and that was due to the faithlessness and
perjury on the part of his niece, a daughter of the late Mustawfi.
It was in the <p54>
year 1883 and Nasiri'd-Din-Shah, on pilgrimage to the holy Shrine
of Imam Rida (the Eighth Imam) in Mashhad, was presented with a
petition by that lady, who was the wife of Haji Qavam, commander
of the Sabzivar cavalry. No doubt goaded by the adversaries of the
Faith of Baha'u'llah, she claimed that her stepmother had left
80,000 ashrafis (gold coins), which belonged to her father, in the
keeping of her uncle, the Vazir of Khurasan. Being a Baha'i, her
uncle was using that money, she alleged, to further the interests
of his co-religionists who would soon be powerful enough to destroy
the State. Nasiri'd-Din Shah was naturally frightened by the tone
and contents of that malicious petition; not only that, he scented
a substantial amount of money to add to his own wealth. So
affrighted was the Shah that, on the day following the receipt of
that document, he ordered four lines of armed soldiers to guard the
route from the arg (citadel) to the Shrine of Imam Rida, before he
would venture out to visit the Shrine. Next, he ordered the
confiscation of the estate of Mirza 'Ali-Riday-i-Mustawfi, and held
a board of enquiry to ascertain the facts. There, in <p55>
the presence of Shaykh 'Abdu'l-Karim (a noted divine of Mashhad),
Mirza 'Ali-Asghar Khan (the Aminu's-Sultan) and the Vazir of
Khurasan himself, it was proved conclusively that the claim of the
vazir's niece was wholly false and that the vazir was not in
possession of any sum of money which had belonged to his late

In the course of this enquiry it came to light that Aqa 'Azizu'llah
Jadhdhab (see chap. 15) had been entrusted with six hundred
ashrafis by the late Mustawfi. Aqa 'Azizu'llah himself had declared
this trust, although nobody else had any knowledge of it and there
was no record in the Mustawfi's own ledgers and papers. This fact
greatly impressed Aminu's-Sultan, who declared that Aqa 'Azizu'llah
was an angel, because of his transparent honesty. The sum was paid
to the progeny of the late Mustawfi, none of whom measured up to
their father's calibre. However, Nasiri'd-Din Shah, as was his
wont, made good pickings from the riches of Mirza 'Ali-Rida.
The Vazir of Khurasan was utterly fearless. One day during that
same visit of Nasiri'd-Din Shah mention was made, in the court, of
a <p56>
poetess of Bushruyih whose fame had reached the ears of the Shah.
He told Haji Muhammad-Baqir Khan, the 'Imadu'l-Mulk and governor
of Tabas, that it seemed that the town of Bushruyih still harboured
some Babis. 'Imadu'l-Mulk tried to evade the issue, replying that
there was a girl there with hallucinations for whom a husband had
been found, and she was cured. Of course the Shah knew how flimsy
was the answer of the Governor of Tabas, and, trying to cajole the
Vazir, commented: 'Oh! and we slew your Qa'im.' Then the Vazir
spoke out: 'O Asylum of the Universe! What did it matter! The One
Who is now sitting there in 'Akka is greater than the Qa'im; and
do you know, Sire, He claims Divinity.' Nasiri'd-Din Shah was both
abashed and frightened. He determined to rid himself of the
courageous Vazir of Khurasan. But that was not an easy task.
Because of his fairness and his boundless generosity, the vazir
had, to the chagrin of the Shah, become a well-loved figure in that
vast province.

Another incident which occurred during that same visit of
Nasiri'd-Din <p57>
Shah served to arouse further the baseless fears of that highly
suspicious potentate. From Mashhad he went to the town of Bujnurd.
There it was arranged that he should meet all the khans and
chieftains of Khurasan and watch a march past of the soldiery of
that province. Shuja'u'd-Dawlih of Quchan was one of those
chieftains, a very powerful man.[1] Not only was he well disposed
towards the followers of Baha'u'llah, but he had a son,
Hasan-'Ali-Khan, who was devoted to the Baha'i Faith. The soldiery
of Khurasan were not alone in coming to Bujnurd to present arms to
the monarch of Iran; General Kropotkin of Russia had also arrived
with troops and a regimental band, to greet the Shah. Nasiri'd-Din
Shah took his position on a hillock, surrounded by spectators. When
Shuja'u'd-Dawlih appeared on the scene leading his celebrated and
well-equipped cavalry, the Shah noticed that the Vazir of Khurasan
was riding with him; he was not at all pleased by what he saw,
although he could not help admiring the equipage of
Shuja'u'd-Dawlih. General Kropotkin also expressed his keen
admiration. Nasiri'd-Din Shah was thus even more alarmed by the
position of the Vazir of Khurasan. Then it fell to the vazir to
present the khans and chieftains to the sovereign. Amongst them was
Sulayman Khan of Darjiz, a brave and courageous Baha'i who was very
ugly in appearance. The Shah asked him jokingly: 'Sulayman Khan!
Where were you on the day they were giving out jamal (beauty)?'
Sulayman Khan replied: 'Sire! I was going about looking for kamal
(perfection). 'It was a perfect answer and even the vazir was taken
aback by it.
[1. He was the hereditary chief of the Za'faranlu tribe.]

Nasiri'd-Din Shah felt that a combination of the Vazir of Khurasan
and Shuja'u'd-Dawlih would be ruinous for him, a sentiment totally
false. He took them both with him to Tihran, intending to destroy
them. However, Hasan-'Ali Khan, the son of Shuja'u'd-Dawlih, could
not and would not sit idly by and see his father eliminated because
of the misplaced fears of the Shah. He kept sending threatening
letters to Tihran, until Nasiri'd-Din Shah had to let his father
return to Quchan. But the Shah detained the Vazir of Khurasan in
the capital, on the pretext of wishing to offer him a portfolio in
his court. Then he gave him the governorship of Kashan. It seems
that Kashan was the place to which the two Qajar monarchs,
Nasiri'd-Din Shah and his father, consigned dignitaries who had
fallen foul of them. Mirza Aqa Khan-i-Nuri, a future Sadr-i-A'zam <p58>
(prime minister), was sent there in the days of Muhammad Shah, when
Haji Mirza Aqasi, the Antichrist of the Babi Revelation, held the
reins of power. And when Nasiri'd-Din Shah, the ingrate, dismissed
Mirza Taqi Khan, the Amir Kabir, he directed the unseated prime
minister to go to Kashan, and there had him put to death. (See
Balyuzi, Baha'u'llah, The King of Glory, chap. 14.)

That one year in Kashan, although he was the governor of the city,
came very hard to the Vazir of Khurasan, but he faced his
banishment bravely. Then Nasiri'd-Din Shah relented, summoned him
to Tihran, gave one of his sisters in marriage to him and conferred
on him the <p59>
title: Mu'taminu's-Saltanih. The Vazir went back to Mashhad to his
old post, where he was badly needed. Towards the end of the year
1890, Mu'taminu's-Saltanih was once again in Tihran, lodging in the
house of Ruknu'd-Dawlih, a brother of the Shah, who was the
governor-general of Khurasan. In the last days of that year the
Vazir died suddenly, poisoned by order of Nasiri'd-Din Shah. The
poison was administered to him in a cup of what has gained
notoriety as the 'Qajar coffee'.

The remains of the Vazir were taken to Mashhad and buried in a
stone sarcophagus, which he himself had prepared some years before.
His eldest son, Mirza 'Ali-Muhammad Khan, inherited his title. With
the premature death of the second Mu'taminu's-Saltanih, some
fifteen years after his father's, the glory centred in the holy
city of Mashhad for seven decades passed into history.

The Vazir of Khurasan resembled Baha'u'llah in his build and
height. In a Tablet revealed in his honour, Baha'u'llah thus
addressed him: 'O thou whose temple beareth resemblance to Mine.' <p60>

The Nightingale

The eminent British orientalist, Edward Granville Browne, was in
Yazd as a young man in the spring of 1888. He had letters of
introduction, addressed to the Afnans (relatives of the Bab) living
in that city, written by the father of the present writer. Haji
Siyyid Mirza--a son of Haji Mirza Siyyid Hasan, a brother-in-law
of the Bab known as Afnan-i-Kabir (the Great Afnan)--sent a man to
guide Edward Browne to his house on receiving one of these letters.
In his immortal book, A Year Amongst the Persians, Browne describes
the discussion to which he listened:

On arriving at Haji Seyyid M--s' house, I was delighted to find a
theological discussion in progress. An attempt was evidently being
made to convert an old mulla, of singularly attractive and engaging
countenance, to the Babi faith. [It is strange that Edward Browne
kept naming Baha'is as Babis.] Only one of the Babis was speaking,
a man of about thirty-five years of age, whose eloquence filled me
with admiration. It was not till later that I learned that he was
'Andalib (the 'Nightingale'), one of the most distinguished of the
poets who have consecrated their talents to the glory of the New
Theophany. 'And so in every dispensation,' he resumed, as soon as
I had received and returned the greetings of those present, 'the
very men who professed to be awaiting the new Manifestation most
eagerly were the first to deny it, abandoning the "Most Firm
Handhold" of God's Truth to lay hold of the frail thread of their
own imaginings. You talk of miracles, but of what evidential value
are miracles to me, unless I have seen them? Has not every religion
accounts of miracles, which had they ever taken place, must, one
would have thought, have compelled all men to believe; for who
would dare, however hard of heart he might be, to fight with a
Power which he could not ignore or understand? No, it is the Divine
Word which is the token and sign of a prophet, the convincing proof
to all men and all ages, the everlasting miracle. Do not
misunderstand the matter: When the Prophet of God called his verses
'signs' (ayat), and declared the Kur'an [Qur'an] to be his witness
and proof, he did not intend to imply, as some vainly suppose, that
the eloquence of the words was a proof. How, for instance, can you
or I, who are Persians, judge whether the eloquence of a book
written in Arabic be supernatural or not? <p61>
No: the essential characteristic of the Divine Word is the
penetrative power (nufudh): it is not spoken in vain, it compels,
it constrains, it creates, it rules, it works in men's hearts, it
lives and dies not. The Apostle of God said "in the month of
Ramazan [Ramadan] men shall fast from sunrise[1] to sunset". See
how hard a thing this is; and yet here in Yezd there are thousands
who, if you bade them break the fast or die, would prefer death to
disobedience. Wherever one arises speaking this Word, know him to
be a Manifestation of the Divine Will, believe in him, and take his
yoke upon you.'
[1. It is actually from the moment dawn appears in the sky, when
a white thread can be distinguished from a black thread. (HMB)]

'But this claim,' said the old Mulla, 'this claim! It is a hard
word that He utters. What can we do or say?'

'For the rest, He hath said it,' replied 'Andalib, 'and it is for
us, who have seen that this Divine Word is His, to accept it.'
There was silence for a little while, and then the old Mulla arose
with a sigh, and repeating, 'It is difficult, very difficult,'
departed from our midst. (Edward Granville Browne, A Year Amongst
the Persians, pp. 401-2)

Aqa 'Ali-Ashraf of Lahijan (of the Caspian province of Gilan),
whose sobriquet, 'Andalib, was given to him by his tutor, wrote a <p62>
booklet addressed to Edward Browne, but it is not certain that it
ever reached him. It is a lucid apologia, highly learned and

Mirza 'Ali-Ashraf lost his father early in life. However, he had
as his mother a very remarkable woman named Khanum-Jan, who bravely
faced the future and made every effort to give 'Ali-Ashraf and his
sisters, Bilqis and Gawhar, a sound upbringing. 'Ali-Ashraf showed
soon, in his early teens, that he had remarkable talents. He
excelled in calligraphy, and his poetic talent became evident
before long. His tutor felt very proud that he had a pupil so well
endowed. Not only was his intellectual achievement brilliant; his
handiwork was superb, particularly with the production of papier
mache pen-cases (an art in which the Persians excelled) and
illuminated pages in manuscripts. He could easily earn his living
by practising these arts. But he still craved for more knowledge
and set out to learn Arabic. His mastery of that rich language was
equally noteworthy.

There lived in Shiraz an excellent calligraphist named Mirza
'Abdu'r-Rahman. 'Abdu'l-Baha instructed him to make two copies of
the Tablets of Baha'u'llah, such as Tajalliyat (Effulgences),
Tarazat (Ornaments) and Ishraqat (Splendours), and ask 'Andalib to
illuminate the margins on every page. These books He intended, He
wrote, to donate to the British Museum in London and the
Bibliotheque Nationale of Paris.

Aqa 'Ali-Ashraf, apart from his accomplishments which made of him
an outstanding person in Lahijan, was also a seeker of truth. To
begin with he followed the Shaykhi school. Whatever the Shaykhis
became and did under the leadership of Haji Karim Khan of Kirman,
it should always be remembered that all those who set out in search
of the promised Qa'im, and found Him in the person of the Bab, were
disciples of Siyyid Kazim.

In the days of the Bab two brothers, merchants of Qazvin who had
become Babis, went to Lahijan to engage there in trade. One was
named Haji Shaykh Muhammad--the father of Mulla Kazim-i-Samandar,
a prominent Apostle of Baha'u'llah (see chap. 16)--and the other
was Mashhadi Muhammad-Rahim. Before long, the former went back to
Qazvin, and the second made Lahijan his home. There he married and
settled down. Although he exercised great caution in teaching the
Faith, soon he became known as a Babi. Time and again the rabble
of the town pillaged his goods and knocked him about. He was nearly
beggared. But his faith in the Bab was as firm as ever. <p63>
Some time later, a number of Baha'is of Qazvin went to Lahijan, one
of whom was Haji Nasir (to be martyred before long). They were
followed by still others seeking refuge there from the persecutions
in Qazvin. Mulla Ja'far, a very learned man, was one of the second
group. In Lahijan he became a tutor. Then another citizen of
Qazvin, named Siyyid Javad, arrived in their midst. But he was a
confirmed Azali (follower of Subh-i-Azal). There were also many
Shaykhis in Lahijan, from the governor and his entourage to
smallholders. Naturally, Siyyid Javad did not associate with the
Baha'is, who were his compatriots. But being surrounded by
influential Shaykhis, and he himself being an agent for one of the
wealthy landlords, Siyyid Javad had to watch his step.

As it happened, Siyyid Javad became friendly with a resident of
Lahijan named Karbila'i Babay-i-Vakil. This Karbila'i Baba was a
just man and free of prejudice. In his careless moments, Siyyid
Javad had spoken such words as made his friend suspect him of being
a Babi. When Karbila'i Baba asked Siyyid Javad whether his guess
was correct or not, the latter readily admitted that he was, and
once the veil was drawn he spoke openly, until soon Karbila'i Baba
embraced the Faith of the Bab. And he, in his turn, aided by Siyyid
Javad, led Aqa 'Ali-Ashraf to become a Babi. Siyyid Javad, who was
going away for a short while, told the two new Babis that they
should eschew the company of the other men of Qazvin who were in
Lahijan. Aqa 'Ali-Ashraf was too intelligent not to try to find out
why Siyyid Javad had banned associating with all those Qazvinis in
the town.

And so Aqa 'Ali-Ashraf went to the trading-house of Mashhadi
Muhammad-Rahim, whose reputation as a Babi was, as the Persian
proverb has it, more widespread than the devilry of Satan, and put
his question without any hedging: 'I know and everyone knows that
you are a Babi. Siyyid Javad, who is from your own home town, has
made me see the truth and I have become a Babi. But why did he warn
me against you? I must know.' Mashhadi Muhammad-Rahim was delighted
and told him the reason. Aqa 'Ali-Ashraf listened and when the
truth dawned upon him, he, without any hesitation, became a Baha'i,
to be followed by Karbila'i Baba. When Siyyid Javad returned, these
two made it known to him that they had found the truth: they were
now followers of Baha'u'llah. Then began a period of discussion and
debate which ended six months later when Siyyid Javad also embraced
the Faith of Baha'u'llah. <p64>

Now 'Andalib (whom henceforth we shall name as such, because soon
it was his sobriquet that gained fame while his name 'Ali-Ashraf
was almost forgotten), afire with the zeal of his newly-found
faith, occupied a central position in the teaching field. The
former Azali, Siyyid Javad, was no less active in propagating the
Faith of Baha'u'llah. These two, newly enrolled, were joined by the
veteran Haji Nasir, and the three of them moved to Rasht--the seat
of the governor of Gilan--a provincial capital where greater
opportunities existed for making the Cause of Baha'u'llah known to
the public. As a result of their efforts five brothers, whose
surname was Baqiroff, became interested and were to render
outstanding services to the Faith of Baha'u'llah (as do their
descendants today), particularly Siyyid Nasru'llah who lived in
Tihran and offered the major share of the expenses of
'Abdu'l-Baha's travels in Europe and America. Siyyid Ahmad, son of
one of these brothers, travelled to Europe, attended 'Abdu'l-Baha
in Paris and travelled with Him in 1913 when He visited Stuttgart,
Budapest and Vienna. The descendants of those five brothers have
chosen Sadat-i-uamsi as their surname, bestowed by Baha'u'llah.
'Khams' means 'five' in Arabic, and the five siyyid brothers were
known as such.

Back in Lahijan, 'Andalib, who was still dressed in the garb of a
student of theology, turned his attention to some of his
fellow-students and brought two of them into the Faith. One of
these was to become in future years a pillar of the Faith in the
capital, and found a family distinguished by outstanding Baha'i
services. He was Mirza Siyyid Muhammad, entitled Nazimu'l-Hukama,
the father of the late General Shu'au'llah 'Ala'i, elevated by the
Guardian of the Cause of God to the rank of Hand of the Cause.
Nazimu'l-Hukama writes this about the man who introduced him to the
Faith of Baha'u'llah:

Gradually he became known as a Babi... I stopped associating with
him ... because keeping his company would cause accusations to be
levelled against me... Then the month of Ramadan arrived and the
period of fasting. He came during that month to the Jami' Mosque
and engaged in prayer. At the end of the ritual prayer, he began
his devotionals silently, in deep meditation. After an hour he left
the mosque. One of the people present commented after he had gone
that he was a Babi. 'This is simulation' said another, adding that
he had gone to buy a piece of cloth (Mahut) from him and found him
finishing his lunch. ['Andalib had already quitted the circle of
the theological college and had set himself up in business as a
draper <p65> <p66>
and cloth merchant.] Still another added: 'Yesterday, when he came
out of his house I met him and we walked on together. His hand
smelt of fish. He goes home to have his lunch, then comes to the
mosque to say his prayers just to deceive the people, and goes to
his shop to sell his goods.' All those who spoke were his friends
as well as mine. Not far from the place where we were sitting,
there sat a number of divines.

Apparently the divines were also talking about 'Andalib in such
vile terms that Nazimu'l-Hukama, overhearing them, resolved to go
and have it out the same night with 'Andalib. He has written fully
about all that passed between him and 'Andalib during the next
months. It is a very stirring and exciting account, and it ended
with the conversion of Nazimu'l-Hukama. As he himself describes his
spiritual odyssey: <p67>

At last after a whole year of struggle, similar to being in the
throes of death, I obtained a new lease of life. I made my way out
of the grave and beheld a new world. I had tormented the soul of
the Mirza ['Andalib]. It was again the month of Ramadan. He told
me reprovingly: 'What more do you want of me? You have tired me
out. With all the proofs that I have given you, what more do you
require? Go away. I have given you up.' I answered: 'Will declaring
my faith suffice you or myself? And if someone has truly come to
believe, but does not speak of it, will you or he come to any
harm?' Hearing me say that convinced the Mirza that I had reached
the end of my quest, that it was all up with me now, that after a
whole year's experience of the throes of death, I had been born
again and had attained life eternal.

'Andalib had by this time become known all over the town as a
'Babi'. When his mother became aware of it she was furious.
'Andalib had already, very quietly, led his sisters to give their
allegiance to Baha'u'llah, but had left his mother alone. However,
the time had come to win her over to the Cause. She resisted, just
as Nazimu'l-Hukama had resisted for a year. But like him, she too
found it impossible to resist any longer. The whole family was now
united in one common allegiance. Externally, however, pressures
were mounting. Men were heard denouncing 'Andalib from pulpits. And
then a dervish, who was also a siyyid, appeared on the scene.

In time past, dervishes were indeed men who deserved respect.
Certainly there were still dervishes about who were pious and
unworldly. But the vast numbers of them were parasites, greedy and
ungodly. They prospered on simple people's credulity. The dervish
now haunting the bazars of Lahijan was of the latter category. And
he made it a duty to pester 'Andalib. Although 'Andalib paid him
no attention, encouraged by the example of some of the divines, the
dervish waxed bolder and bolder, until the climax was reached on
a Friday. Another Javad of Qazvin, who had come to replace the
aforementioned Siyyid Javad, had on that Friday invited a number
of the Baha'is, including 'Andalib, to lunch. Before going to Mirza
Javad's house, 'Andalib went to his shop on some errand. Although
it was a Friday and shops were shut, that dervish appeared outside
'Andalib's shop and began to taunt him, first with personal abuse
and then with insults to his family. All the while 'Andalib kept
his peace and went on with what he had to do in the shop. But when
the dervish insulted the Bab and Baha'u'llah, 'Andalib could bear
it no longer; he picked up his metal yardstick and brought it down
with all his force on the head of that insolent man. When he saw
that the dervish was <p68>
bleeding, he closed his shop and hurried to Mirza Javad's house.
There he found his companions talking of how to stop the impudence
of the dervish. There was no need to talk of him anymore, said
'Andalib, because he himself had hit him so hard with his metal
yardstick that he would soon be dead. 'Andalib was still beside
himself with rage, but his host immediately realized that the
consequences of that attack, even were the dervish to live, would
be dire. He sent all the guests home at once, but kept 'Andalib and
found him a hiding-place.

Sure enough, the whole town was now in uproar, and the populace
demanded 'Andalib's blood. Some had seen him entering the house of
Mirza Javad, who, because of his position as the agent of one of
the wealthiest landlords of the district, connected with the Court
of Nasiri'd-Din Shah, was treated with respect. At last the tumult
of the mob reached the ears of the Governor of Lahijan. He asked
to know the reason. When told that Aqa 'Ali-Ashraf, the Babi, had
grievously injured a dervish, and to compound his felony had failed
to observe the respect due to a siyyid, a descendant of the
Prophet, the Governor immediately ordered the arrest of the
'aggressive Babi'. The officials, hearing that Aqa 'Ali-Ashraf had
been seen that morning entering the house of Mirza Javad-i-Qazvini,
hastened to it. Mirza Javad invited them to search his house.
'Andalib was there but they could not find him. He was hidden
behind a huge cauldron. The mob, however, convinced that 'Andalib
was in Mirza Javad's house, continued to crowd the street, keeping

As it happened, Mashhadi Husayn, an uncle of 'Andalib who had gone
to Rasht, arrived back the same day. Learning that the mob was
seeking 'Andalib to kill him, he flew into a rage. Then, taking
with him a set of clothing, he first visited a bazar in the quarter
where he lived, and where most of the shops belonged to 'Andalib's
cousins and other relatives. He denounced them as poltroons for not
having gone to the aid of his nephew. 'I don't understand', he
said, 'most of the things which 'Ali-Ashraf says, but I do know
this, that he has time and again invited the 'ulama to meet him at
their convenience and discuss the matter with which he is
concerned; and I know this also, that they have declined to meet
him, but are now inciting a vagabond to bring him to harm. Had I
not returned today 'Ali-Ashraf would have been in mortal danger.'
Having castigated the members of his family for their lack of
courage, Mashhadi Husayn went to Mirza Javad's house, <p69>
gained admittance, made 'Andalib change his clothes and led him
out of the house. He had also brought two stout clubs with him.
Giving one of them to 'Andalib, he commanded him to use it if
attacked. 'If you don't use it, I myself will beat you with this
other club I am holding.' Mashhadi Husayn was indeed very angry.
His mien and the club in his hand struck terror in the hearts of
the would-be assailants. 'Andalib reached home safely and, in order
to let tempers cool down, kept to his house. He had also to
consider the perils which beset other Baha'is in Lahijan. But the
rabble kept on agitating; they were still after 'Andalib's blood.
The Governor of Lahijan wrote to him that although the dervish's
wound had healed, people were restive; should he leave the town for
a while, that episode would soon be forgotten. 'Andalib went to

A year later he returned to Lahijan for a short stay. But soon we
find him again in the provincial seat of government--Rasht. Now
that city became once more a scene of intense Baha'i activity. The
year 1882 (in which the fourteenth century of the Hejira [Hijrah],
according to the lunar reckoning, was inaugurated) saw 'Andalib
tirelessly at work. That year also witnessed a reinvigorated
persecution of the Baha'is, which had its beginning in Tihran. Soon
a number of Baha'is were detained in Rasht, and the Governor of
Lahijan, where 'Andalib had gone for a short visit, was directed
to arrest 'Andalib and Aqa Muhammad-Sadiq, an uncle of the
celebrated Samandar of Qazvin, and send them on to Rasht in the
company of a few others.

The governor of the province of Gilan, in the year 1882, was the
notorious 'Abdu'llah Khan-i-Vali, who, as a grandson of
Muhammad-Baqir Khan-i-Biglarbagi,[1] a maternal uncle of Muhammad
Shah, was therefore one of the Qajars. Fadlu'llah Khan, the brother
of 'Abdu'llah Khan-i-Vali, was the Governor of Lahijan, and,
according to the Vali's decree, had 'Andalib arrested. He was
hauled before Fadlu'llah Khan with something like a hundred books,
none of them related to the Baha'i Faith for he had succeeded in
effectively concealing those. Once 'Andalib was arrested, the
Governor's men went to find other Baha'is in the town. A few were
detained, while others fled, making their way to Mazindaran where
they found conditions to be even worse. Some eventually managed to
reach Mashhad, the holy city of Khurasan.
[1. In all probability Muhammad-Baqir Khan was on the same ship
which the Bab boarded in Bushihr, on His pilgrimage to Mecca.] <p70>
A few days after his arrest 'Andalib sent a message to the
Governor, enquiring why he was arrested and what crime he had
committed to earn this punishment. If his detention was related to
the Faith which he professed, that was a matter of one's
conscience, a matter over which no court could exercise
jurisdiction. The right way of dealing with the problem would be
to summon the divines of the town to debate the matter with him.
His wish was granted. The divines of Lahijan were summoned and
'Andalib was brought out of gaol to meet them, but the
confrontation proved to be a complete fiasco. To begin with the
divines started shouting all at once. 'Andalib courteously pointed
out that that was not the proper procedure for holding a debate.
When the shouting had died down, one by one he was able to vanquish
them all. The last one of those distinguished divines was a certain
Mirza Ibrahim, inordinately proud of his knowledge and attainment.
He tried very hard to get the better of 'Andalib, but when he
realized it was impossible, he resorted to the usual device and
declared that 'Andalib was a heretic meriting death. By then, all
their faces were glowing with anger and 'Andalib saw that nothing
could be achieved by talking with men who were beside themselves
with rage. They had already condemned him to death. And so he rose
and walked out, first pointing out to the Governor the failure of
the divines to conduct a proper investigation.

The Governor's next step was to send 'Andalib to Rasht. Wherever
he was seen by the public during that transfer from Lahijan to the
provincial capital, he was jeered, mocked and reviled. People spat
on him, pelted him with eggs and threw missiles at him. As he was
being led out of Lahijan, his mother and sisters followed him,
surrounded by the rabble of the town. Although veiled, they were
recognized and insulted. But they continued to walk to the
outskirts of the town until, without having had a chance to speak
with 'Andalib, they had to turn back and go home. Throughout that
walk to the edge of the town, although tried beyond the limit of
human endurance, 'Andalib never lost his composure, but trod the
ground with firm gait, his armour never dented.
In the pestilential gaol of Rasht, 'Andalib found many of his
compatriots. Before long, two of them, Haji Nasir, a survivor of
Shaykh Tabarsi, and Aqa Muhammad-Sadiq of Qazvin succumbed to the
hardships constantly encountered in the prison of Rasht. Even
there, 'Andalib and his fellow-believers were unceasingly assailed
by <p71>
the abuse and reviling which not only the gaolers, but the other
wretched inmates of that prison, hurled at them.

'Andalib languished there for more than two years. A number of his
compatriots were freed, but he and two others, Siyyid Mihdi of
Isfahfan and Siyyid 'Abdu'llah of Burujird, were left to suffer.
He petitioned 'Abdu'llah Khan-i-Vali in a fine poem. These were its
opening lines:

O thou of the arched eyebrows, didst thou take me to be
the renowned Sam,[1] son of Nariman,
That thou didst put me in chains, and send me
to a horrid dungeon?
[1. Sam was the grandfather of Rustam, the legendary hero of
Firdawsi's Shahnamih (The Book of Kings)].

But his cry went unanswered, save for a poem in rebuttal from the
pen of a poet in the service of the vali.

Then release came in an unexpected way. In all probability those
who had put him in that gaol, and particularly the vali, became
bored with keeping him and ordered him out. The end of this
notorious vali a decade later was to be sudden and miserably
dramatic. In the year AH 1310 (26 July 1892-14 July 1893) a cholera
epidemic hit Iran, starting in Khurasan, and soon reaching Tihran.
Mirza 'Isa, the Vazir of Tihran, died at the time the epidemic
invaded the capital, and 'Abdu'llah Khan-i-Vali was appointed to
his office. He put on his <p72>
robe of honour in a summer resort in Shimran (which these days
adjoins Tihran), and mounted his horse to ride to the capital. On
the way cholera laid him low. His attendants, seeing their master
thus afflicted, fled in horror. He was left alone, totally
helpless, to die by the roadside, and his corpse was ravaged by
[1. Haji Sayyah-i-Mahallaiti has given the above account of the
death of 'Abdu'llah Khan-i-Vali in his memoirs. He had suffered at
the hands of 'Abdu'llah Khan-i-Vali who was instrumental in
bringing about his imprisonment, together with a number of others.]
After his release 'Andalib went back to his home town, but soon
realized that after all that had happened, it would be impossible
for him to live in Lahijan. Samandar writes that he invited
'Andalib to come and make his home in Qazvin. After a stay there
of one year, 'Andalib went to Tihran and then to Yazd, where we
found him with Edward Browne in the year 1888. (See p. 60.) In a
letter dated 2 July 1889, the father of the present writer informed
Edward Browne that 'Andalib had come to Shiraz:

A few nights ago we were together in our own garden. We stayed
there for two nights. We talked much about your good self. Indeed,
we wished that you were with us. He ['Andalib] is a very, very fine
person, and has some sweet and excellent poems to his credit. It
is not decided where he should go from here. I shall let you know
where he goes next. All the friends here send you their salaams.
As it happened, 'Andalib stayed in Shiraz for the rest of his life
and made that city his permanent home. He settled down, found the
means of earning a living and married.

Before long, 'Andalib received all that his soul craved, permission
to travel to the Holy Land and attain the presence of Baha'u'llah.
There he found as a fellow-pilgrim the sixteen-year-old son of
Samandar, the future Hand of the Cause of God, Tarazu'llah
Samandari. Both of them were there when the Ascension of
Baha'u'llah immersed the Baha'is in a sea of grief. The soul of the
poet responded to this harrowing sorrow which wrung from his heart
a dolorous song declaring that his eyes had witnessed the morn of
the Day of Resurrection on the plain of 'Akka. 'Andalib was also
there when the contents of the Kitab-i-'Ahdi--Baha'u'llah's Will
and Testament--became known. Although for many years past, Baha'is
had come to see that the Most Great Branch was indeed that 'Mystery
of God'--Sirru'llah, a designation which His Father had given
Him--they now rejoiced to find that they would march on under His
infallible <p73>
guidance. 'Andalib and Varqa, the two most eloquent of Bahha'i
poets, penned such lines in praise of the Most Great Branch as are
the finest of their genre, rarely equalled in the whole range of
Baha'i history. 'Abdu'l-Baha, while graciously and kindly accepting
their offerings, administered a gentle rebuke to them for their
extreme adulation, pointing out that such praise should only be
uttered in homage to Baha'u'llah. For Himself, He had chosen the
name 'Abdu'l-Baha--the Servant of Baha--betokening the essence of
His being.

'Andalib, on his return from the Holy Land, once more engaged in
propagating and teaching the Faith. Twenty-three years later, he
was again given the bounty of visiting the Holy Land and sitting
at the feet of the Master. 'Abdu'l-Baha had aged considerably in
those years. The faithlessness of Mirza Muhammad-'Ali and his
associates--who included two other sons of Baha'u'llah, the
descendants of the loyal Mirza Musa (Aqay-i-Kalim), and a number
of well-known teachers of the Faith--as well as the intrigues of
the dwindling followers of Mirza Yahya, had left their mark on Him.
Apart from the obnoxious activities of the violators of the
Covenant of Baha'u'llah and the <p74>
misdeeds of the Azalis, 'Abdu'l-Baha had to meet other darts from
enemies of old. Even from Christian quarters voices of opposition
and denigration were raised from time to time. Indeed, the Centre
of the Covenant had to face the whole concourse of mankind, as did
His Father.

Having drunk his fill from the chalice of grace and knowledge
proffered by the Master, 'Andalib returned to Iran by way of the
Caucasus. Reaching Rasht, he found many whom he had guided to
embrace the Faith thirty years before rejoicing at his return. Of
course there were some who had departed from this world. That
homecoming must have been both happy and sad for 'Andalib. In
Lahijan, his mother, grieving for years at her separation from him,
had passed away; and so had Mashhadi Ghulam-'Ali, the husband of
one of his sisters, whose children were all active in the service
of their Faith. 'Andalib stayed for a year in Lahijan, and his
nephew, Mirza Kuchik, always stood ready to serve him. Next,
'Andalib went to Qazvin, where his other sister lived with her
husband, Aqa Muhammad-Taqi 'Amughli, staying at their home. In
Qazvin, too, there were many who remembered him of old and welcomed
him most joyously.

He had been away from his family in Shiraz for more than two years.
At last, he bade farewell to his relatives in Qazvin and set his
face towards Shiraz, where misfortune awaited him. Shortly after
his return his wife died, and in his declining years he was left
alone to bring up his young children, with the help of his eldest
daughter who was then old enough to share his responsibility. His
closing years brought him infirmities, as well, and he passed away
in the early part of 1920. He was buried in the vicinity of the
tomb of the great poet and songster, Hafiz. The passage of time has
effaced his grave and the area where it was is now a public park.

'Abdu'l-Baha wrote a prayer of visitation for 'Andalib and directed
that these words should be inscribed on his tombstone:

Verily, life in the nest of this world was too confined for
'Andalib, the beloved. He winged his flight to the Supreme
Concourse, to limitless heights, that he might rapturously sing
melodious tunes on the branches of the blessed tree. (Unpublished) <p75>
Varqa, The Silver Tongued Nightingale

O Thou! whence God's Beauty shineth,
I know Thee.

Would my being, my soul Thy ransom be,
I know Thee.

Shouldst Thou behind a hundred-thousand veils cover seek,
By God, O Thou, the Visage of God,
I know Thee.

Shouldst Thou a King choose, or a Servant appear to be,
Apart--at the crest of each Station--apart,
I know Thee.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Varqa

Varqa's name was Mirza 'Ali-Muhammad. His father was Haji Mulla
Mihdi, a native of Yazd: a simple man, not of the rank of the
mujtahids, but yet very learned. Speaking of Varqa's father,
'Abdu'l-Baha said:

...he was an expert in the field of Muslim sacred traditions and
an eloquent interpreter of orally transmitted texts... He was one
of those who penetrate mysteries, and was a confidant of the
righteous. As a teacher of the Faith he was never at a loss for
words, forgetting, as he taught, all restraint, pouring forth one
upon another sacred traditions and texts.
When news of him spread around the town and he was everywhere
charged, by prince and pauper alike, with bearing this new name,
he freely declared his adherence and on this account was publicly
disgraced. Then the evil 'ulamas of Yazd rose up, issuing a decree
that he must die. Since the mujtahid, Mulla Baqir of Ardikan,
refused to confirm the sentence of those dark divines, Mulla Mihdi
lived on, but was forced to leave his native home. ('Abdu'l-Baha,
Memorials of the Faithful, pp. 845)

Driven to quit Yazd, Haji Mulla Mihdi, accompanied by two sons,
Mirza 'Ali-Muhammad and Mirza Husayn, set out for 'Akka. It was a
long, long way to go and much hardship awaited him on the road. Let
the Centre of the Covenant conclude this story:
...He was imprisoned along his way; and as he crossed the deserts
and <p76>
climbed and descended the mountain slopes he endured terrible,
uncounted hardships. But the light of faith shone from his brow and
in his breast the longing was aflame, and thus he joyously, gladly
passed over the frontiers until at last he came to Beirut. In that
city, ill, restive, his patience gone, he spent some days. His
yearning grew, and his agitation was such that weak and sick as he
was, he could wait no more.

He set out on foot for the house of Baha'u'llah. Because he lacked
proper shoes for the journey, his feet were bruised and torn; his
sickness worsened; he could hardly move, but still he went on;
somehow he reached the village of Mazra'ih and here, close by the
Mansion, he died. His heart found his Well-Beloved One, when he
could bear the separation no more. Let lovers be warned by his
story; let them know how he gambled away his life in his yearning
after the Light of the World. May God give him to drink of a
brimming cup in the everlasting gardens; in the Supreme Assemblage,
may God shed upon his face rays of light. Upon him be the glory of
the Lord. His sanctified tomb is in Mazra'ih, beside 'Akka.
('Abdu'l-Baha, Memorials of the Faithful, pp. 85-6)

It is by his sobriquet that Mirza 'Ali-Muhammad, the most
accomplished son of Haji Mulla Mihdiy-i-Yazdi, eternally lives:
Varqa, the silver-tongued nightingale, who in dulcet and exultant
tones sang, throughout his life, the praise of Baha'u'llah and His
eldest Son, 'Abdu'l-Baha, the Centre of His Covenant. The lines
which adorn the opening of this chapter were addressed to the
Centre of the Covenant, and they have their own story to which we
shall come in a later page.

Varqa was born and brought up in Yazd. He was in his early
twenties, when, in the company of his father, he had perforce to
turn his back on his native town and seek other climes. Haji Mulla
Mihdi and his two sons reached Tabriz, where they tarried for a
while. Varqa must have had a good knowledge of the rudiments of
medicine, for in Tabriz a well-known Baha'i of that city, Mirza
'Abdu'llah Khan-i-Nuri, who served as attendant to the Crown
Prince, Muzaffari'd-Din Mirza, called him in for consultation. The
truth of the matter was that he was most eager to invite Haji Mulla
Mihdi and his sons to his home and to entertain them, but his wife,
a woman of the Shahsavan tribe, was exceedingly hostile towards the
Faith of Baha'u'llah, and therefore Mirza 'Abdu'llah Khan had to
find ways and means to facilitate visits of these new arrivals from

Mirza 'Abdu'llah Khan-i-Nuri and his wife, the Shahsavan lady, had
only one daughter and they longed to have another child. Various
medicaments had so far been of no help. Now Mirza 'Abdu'llah Khan
suggested to his wife that she let a physician who had recently
come to <p77>
Tabriz attend her. She gladly accepted. The medicine which Varqa
prescribed proved effective, and before long she was with child,
to her overwhelming delight. Next, Mirza 'Abdu'llah Khan, who had
become greatly devoted to Varqa and wholly captivated by his
accomplishments, proposed to his wife that they should wed their
daughter to him. At first she demurred, because he was an unknown
young man from a far-off city while she was a person of consequence
with high connections in Tabriz; but finally, overcoming her
scruples, she agreed. Mirza 'Abdu'llah Khan was truly overjoyed.

The nuptials over, Haji Mulla Mihdi and his two sons continued
their journey to the Holy Land. As we have seen, just before
reaching the presence of Baha'u'llah, Haji Mulla Mihdi succumbed
to the rigours he had endured. And Varqa, as soon as he attained
and set eyes on His majestic mien and heavenly visage, was certain
that he had seen them before--but where and how? Then, as he
himself has related, he recalled a dream he had had in childhood.
He had dreamt that he had been playing with his dolls, when God had
come and, taking his dolls away from him, had thrown them onto the
fire. The next day he had spoken of this strange dream to his
parents, who had upbraided him, telling him not to speak of it
again as no one could possibly see God. Now, because of words
spoken to him by Baha'u'llah he recalled that childhood dream and
realized that it had been the countenance of Baha'u'llah which
appeared to him in his vision. Here is Varqa's own recollection of
the words spoken by Baha'u'llah: 'O Varqa! Cast into fire idols of
vain imaginings.'

From the Holy Land Varqa returned to Tabriz, and made that city his
home. Mirza 'Abdu'llah Khan-i-Nuri took his son-in-law to the Court
of the Crown Prince, and Muzaffari'd-Din Mirza was equally charmed
by Varqa's attainments and qualities. It is related that the Crown
Prince oftentimes asked Mirza 'Abdu'llah Khan to bring Varqa with
him to the Court whenever there was to be an assemblage of learned
men, that he might participate in their talks and discussions to
everyone's delight. And the young poet would always rise to the
occasion. Despite his years Varqa was a man of many parts. He was
very eloquent, not only as a composer of lucid verse but as a
writer of excellent prose. He had also a good hand at calligraphy
and other arts which nimble fingers can perform. Besides these, his
knowledge of medicine, scriptures, and the history and literature
of his country, made him an exceptional person. <p78>
Varqa had his home in Tabriz and travelled a good deal throughout
the expanse of the province of Amarbayjan, to teach and promote the
Faith of Baha'u'llah. Here and there he met with bitter hostility
and stern opposition; his life was even endangered and he was
But he always enjoyed the protection of his influential
father-in-law and, in extremity, the helping hand of the Crown
Prince of Iran. In contradistinction to his two brothers,
Zillu's-Sultan and Kamran Mirza (the Nayibu's-Saltanih),
Muzaffari'd-Din Mirza never showed any ill will towards the
followers of Baha'u'llah. He had his faults but cruelty and avarice
were not among them, whereas the other two powerful princes had
major shares of both.

However, in that fateful year of AH 1300 (AD 1882-3), Varqa decided
to visit after many years' absence his native town of Yazd, whose
people were blindly fanatical and easily swayed by self-seeking
divines. Yazd was part of the domain of Mas'ud Mirza, the
Zillu's-Sultan, which he governed most injudiciously. Very soon,
Varqa fell into the hands of his minions, and there in Yazd he
languished for a whole year in its foul prison. Then he was carried
in chains from Yazd <p79>
to Isfahan, where Mas'ud Mirza resided. As it happened, another
well-known Baha'i, also an accomplished poet with the sobriquet of
Sina, had just been set free. (See chap. 11.) Having heard that a
'Babi' had been brought from Yazd, Sina was most eager to find out
who his Yazdi co-religionist was, but was told that he could
neither hear nor speak. Sina was greatly astonished when he saw
Varqa there in chains, but greater was the astonishment of the
gaolers when their prisoner began to speak fluently. The guards
escorting him from Yazd to Isfahan had been so insolently abusive
that to spare himself the taunts of those brutish men Varqa had
pretended to be deaf and dumb. After their joyous encounter, Sina,
pained to see that Varqa was placed in a prison where the worst
criminals were kept, tried, with the help of the Baha'is of
Isfahan, to have him moved to a more salubrious gaol reserved for
men of rank. That end was achieved through the assistance of Haji
Muhammad-'Ali, Sayyah-i-Mahallati, and here is how it happened.
This amazing man[1] was a confidant of Zillu's-Sultan, the eldest
son of Naisiri'd-Din Shah, and made no secret of it. We know now
of a particular mission entrusted to him by the scheming and
seditious Zillu's-Sultan, whose ardent but unfulfilled wish it was,
throughout his plot-ridden and turbulent life, to supplant his
younger brother, Muzaffari'd-Din Mirza, and obtain the throne of
Iran. This he could not achieve because his mother was not of the
royal House of Qajar. During one of his mysterious journeys to
Adharbayjan, which may have been connected with Zillu's-Sultan's
plots, Sayyah fell into the hands of Muzaffari'd-Din Mirza's men
in Tabriz. Having rightly or wrongly found him guilty, it was
almost certain that they would have put him to death, had not Mirza
'Abdu'llah Khan-i-Nuri intervened to bring about his release.
Sayyah, a much chastened man, went back to Isfahan and was there
at the time Varqa was brought from Yazd. The Baha'is of Isfahan,
knowing how it had fared with him in Tabriz, approached Sayyah and
told him that the 'Babi' prisoner brought from Yazd was the
son-in-law of that same Mirza 'Abdu'llah Khan-i-Nuri who had saved
his own life, suggesting that he should use his influence to ease
the circumstances of Varqa's imprisonment. Sayyah persuaded
Zillu's-Sultan to order the transfer of Varqa to the prison where
distinguished men were detained.
[1. His autobiography and Book of Reminiscences has been published
in recent years. Therein he conceals much that is now common
knowledge.] <p80>
About that time, Zillu's-Sultan had treacherously put to death
Husayn-Quli man, the Bakhtiyari chieftain. Isfandiyar Khan, the son
of the murdered chieftain, was still a prisoner of the
Prince-Governor of Isfahan, and Varqa was sent to join him. It is
said that consorting with Varqa led Isfandiyar Khan to embrace the
Faith of Baha'u'llah. Whatever the case, Varqa's poetic talent
charmed the Bakhtiyari leader. Even the boorish Zillu's-Sultan
could not withhold his admiration, and before long he set Varqa
free, thinking it would be to his own advantage, as he was about
to send Sayyah on a secret mission to 'Akka.[1] Varqa returned to
[1. Sayyah's mission was to win the support of Baha'u'llah for
Zillu's-Sultan's plots against his father. Of course Sayyah was
sent away--a disappointed man.]

The second time that Varqa attained the presence of Baha'u'llah was
about a year before His Ascension. Varqa was then accompanied by
two of his sons: 'Azizu'llah and Ruhu'llah. The heroic Ruhu'llah,
who was destined to die a martyr's death together with his father,
was then no more than seven years old, but at that tender age his
pure soul responded, in all its intensity, to the truth and reality
of God as revealed to the world in the human temple of Baha'u'llah.
He had <p81>
inherited an ample share of his father's poetic talent, and thus
he composed, when only two or three years older, his paean of
praise and adoration:

O the joy of that day, when eyes at me stare,
As on gallows-tree, I the praise of the King of Glory declare.

In the course of this second visit to 'Akka, Varqa was summoned to
attend Baha'u'llah as a physician, and, after prescribing some
medicine which Baha'u'llah took, was sent for a second time for the
same purpose. Mirza Valiyu'llah Khan,[1] Varqa's third son,
recalled decades later:
[1. Elevated to the rank of Hand of the Cause of God by the
Guardian of the Baha'i Faith.]

My father was much with Baha'u'llah. One night as He walked back
and forth in His room [at the Mansion of Bahji], Baha'u'llah said
to my father: 'At stated periods souls are sent to earth by the
Mighty God with what we call the Power of the Great Ether. And they
who possess this power can do anything; they have all power...
Jesus Christ had this power. People thought of Him as a poor young
man Whom they had crucified; but He possessed the Power of the
Great Ether. Therefore He could not remain <p82>
underground. This ethereal Power arose and quickened the world.
And now look to the Master, for this power is His.'

When Varqa heard these words from Baha'u'llah, he yearned to lay
down his life in the path of the Master. And that wish was granted

Varqa, once again, returned to Tabriz. However, the hostility of
his mother-in-law, the Shahsavan lady, allowed him no peace at
home. She had never reconciled herself to the fact that both her
husband and her son-in-law were dedicated Baha'is. Varqa had
thought of divorcing his wife, to rid himself of the bane of his
mother-in-law's constant opposition. But Mirza 'Abdu'llah Khan
would not hear of it and advised him not to remain in Tabriz, but
to travel throughout Adharbayjan to teach the Faith. Then his
mother-in-law sought an accomplice who would kill Varqa. As it
happened, some enemies who could sway the mind of the Crown Prince
succeeded in making him suspicious of his faithful attendant, Mirza
'Abdu'llah Khan, who had <p83>
to leave Tabriz in haste because Muzaffari'd-Din Mirza, his mind
totally poisoned, was on the point of ordering his arrest. When his
wife became certain that her husband could not and would not return
to Tabriz, she planned the death of her son-in-law. She told a
servant in their house named Khalil, not knowing that he had been
converted to the Faith of Baha'u'llah, that should he kill Varqa
she would give him a horse and 250 tumans. Instead, Khalil informed
Varqa of the evil designs of his mother-in-law. Then Varqa
realized, at last, that the time had come for him to turn his back
on Tabriz, the city hallowed by the blood of the Bab, wherein he
had found refuge after abandoning his own native city of Yazd. He
left Tabriz and Adharbayjan with a heavy heart, as a letter which
he wrote soon after his arrival at Zanjan amply testifies. In it
he quoted from the writings of Mirza Abu'l-Qasim, the Qa'im-Maqam,
to draw a parallel between his own feeling and that of the great
minister whom Muhammad Shah had treacherously put to death.
Varqa had to leave home and depart from Tabriz in such a way as to
thwart any interference on the part of his mother-in-law. In the
dead of night, he threw his Tablets and all that appertained to his
Faith from a window overlooking the street, left the house very
quietly, collected all that he had thrown into the street, and then
went to the home of a fellow-Baha'i who was also a native of Yazd.
When the inimical Shahsavan lady learned what had happened, Varqa
was well beyond her reach. Enraged, she sought the help of one of
the mujtahids of Tabriz, related to herself, to obtain a death
warrant from him. 'My son-in-law is a Babi', she roundly declared,
'and ought to be put to death.' The mujtahid refused to comply with
her demand and pleaded ignorance of the case; whereupon she rushed
away and brought Ruhu'llah to him. 'I will prove to you through
this child', she told the mujtahid, 'the apostasy of my
son-in-law.' Ruhu'llah was then asked whether he could say his
daily prayer. The child made his ablutions and said the long Baha'i
prayer, in a mellifluous voice. Now it was the turn of the
mujtahid, who was a just man, to expostulate. He told the lady, in
no uncertain terms, that what she had been trying to do, in
obtaining the condemnation of a man who had reared such a wonderful
child, was a deed heinous and unforgivable.

By now the breach between Mirza 'Abdu'llah Khan, Varqa and their
wives had so widened that no alternative but divorce was left.
Varqa took with him the two sons 'Azizu'llah and Ruhu'llah, but <p84>
Valiyu'llah and the youngest Badi'u'llah had to be left with their
mother because of their ages. Badi'u'llah did not live long. The
Shahsavan lady and her daughter both married again, and their lives
thereafter were anything but happy; at the end both had cause to
rue their fates, which were of their own making, and to feel bitter

In Zanjan, Varqa married Liqa'iyyih Khanum, a daughter of Haji
Iman, and had both 'Azizu'llah and Ruhu'llah with him.

It was not long after the Ascension of Baha'u'llah that the perfidy
of those who had resolved to break His Covenant came into the open.
Many were those, once shining lights, who became centres of
darkness. But Varqa never wavered. He made his third and last
pilgrimage to the Holy Land, again taking with him both 'Azizu'llah
and Ruhu'llah. He sang the praises of 'Abdu'l-Baha, the Centre of
the Covenant, as fervently as he had sung the praises of
Baha'u'llah, and addressed a poem to 'Abdu'l-Baha, some lines of
which appear at the head of this chapter. Another line[1] of the
same poem is this:
[1. One line in the original poem.]

0 Thou, the Root, Thou the Limb of Revelation,
In any garb, any garment, with any mantle,
I know Thee.

'Abdu'l-Baha gently reproved him because of the poem's
extravagance. Responding, Varqa composed another poem which begins

Cease either, 0 shining Orb, shedding Thy rays on the world,
to flare,
Or strike blind the eyes of those of insight, who witness

Having mentioned the excellence of the poetical work of 'Andalib
(see chap. 6) and Varqa, it is meet to mention here too the
achievement of a young Baha'i poet of these days, now in his
thirties. He also is a native of Iran. His name is Baha'u'd-Din
Muhammad. 'Abdi is both his surname and his sobriquet. The depth
of feeling and the mastery of the language which he shows, put him
on a par with those veterans of the Faith, even surpassing them in
his imagery and tenderness of expression. Indeed, it can be said
that he is the precursor of a new school of poetry in the domain
of the Baha'i Faith. Thus ends his eulogy of Varqa: <p85>
My heart, aflame, sends forth from its narrow cage,
Such fire as puts the rays of sun to shame.
From one drop of my tears that on this earth is shed,
Tulips, red tulips grow from the martyred Varqa's grave.

In the same year that Nasiri'd-Din Shah was to meet his death at
the hands of a disciple of Siyyid Jamalu'd-Din-i-Asadabadi,
circumstances impelled Varqa to move out of Zanjan. He was most
anxious to gain Tihran. In the first instance he wanted to carry
out the oral instructions of 'Abdu'l-Baha, Who had advised him to
take his Tablets and all his Baha'i archives away from Zanjan. He
also desired a reunion with Mirza 'Abdu'llah Khan-i-Nuri, the
maternal grandfather of his sons, who had established himself in
the capital. Varqa asked Haji Iman, the father of his second wife,
to hire a number of horses for travelling to Tihran. It was,
however, winter time, there was a good deal of snow on the ground,
and steeds were difficult to come by. As days dragged on, Mirza
'Azizu'llah Khan, the eldest son of Varqa, became impatient, and
without informing anyone of his intention took the road to Tihran
on foot. When Varqa learned of his son's departure and took
measures to bring him back, it was too late; 'Azizu'llah had put
a good many miles between himself and Zanjan.

By the time that Mirza 'Azizu'llah Khan had got well away, pack
animals had been procured. Varqa put his Tablets and books in two
trunks, well locked and secured. The night before leaving Zanjan
with Ruhu'llah and Haji Iman, Varqa, accompanied by a number of the
Baha'is of that city, went to the Telegraph Office to say farewell
to Mirza 'Ali-Akbar Khan, the director, and to offer him
condolences on the death of his mother which had occurred shortly
before. All went well, but on coming out of the Telegraph Office
they ran into an ill-intentioned divine of Zanjan named Mulla
'Abdu'l-Wasi', who immediately reported what he had seen to the
master of the curfew, and he, in turn, informed 'Ala'u'd-Dawlih,
the newly-appointed governor, that a number of 'Babis' had been
spotted coming out of the Telegraph Office.

Ahmad Khan, the 'Ala'u'd-Dawlih, was a Qajar, though not of the
royal clan. He was imperious, suspicious, unbearably autocratic;
and some of his rash deeds, in future years, were highly
questionable. But it is not at all clear why the fact of a number
of 'Babis' leaving the Telegraph Office should have irked him to
such an extent as to order the arrest of Mirza Husayn and a few
other local Baha'is, and direct <p86>
his men to go outside the city and search for those who were
believed to have left Zanjan. Varqa, Ruhu'llah and Haji Iman, who
were well on their way to the capital with a caravan, were thus
intercepted and brought back to join the others in
'Ala'u'd-Dawlih's prison. It may have been that this haughty
grandee, suspicious by nature, had thought that the 'Babis' were
hatching a plot against his own person. In those days, and for many
years after, a telegraph office was one of the places where people,
who either had a grudge or a genuine complaint, rushed to take
refuge--a 'bast', as it was called. Whatever the case, Varqa was
back in Zanjan and in its gaol, where the governor could
interrogate him closely. 'Ala'u'd-Dawlih, though of a generation
much younger than the old despotic Qajar princes--like
Mu'tamidu'd-Dawlih (Haji Farhad Mirza) and Hisamu's-Saltanih
(Sultan-Murad Mirza), even younger than Zillu's-Sultan
(Sultan-Mas'ud Mirza) and Nayibu's-Saltanih (Kamran Mirza)--proved
no exception to them. On his first encounter with Varqa, he began
a harangue of abuse, to which Varqa replied that such language was
demeaning and not meet for such an assemblage. Whereupon Varqa was
sent back to prison.

When Varqa was stopped on the road to Tihran, miraculously the pack
animal that carried the two trunks of Tablets and books and other
archival material was not halted, and it went all the way safely
to Qazvin, where trusted hands received the trunks and preserved
their contents. But, alack, the personal property of Varqa fell
into the hands of enemies. Amongst all that rich material, rich
both in worth and value, was a water-colour painting of the Bab.
And here is the place to record the marvellous story of that
painting, told to the present writer by Mirza Valiyu'llah Khan
Varqa, the Hand of the Cause of God.
During his long sojourn in Adharbayjan, Varqa met an artist, a
Naqqash-Bashi (Chief Painter) whom he guided into the fold of the
Faith of Baha'u'llah. And this artist, Aqa-Bala Bag, a native of
Shishvan (a village on the banks of Lake Urumiyyih), had a
remarkable tale to tell. He had in his possession a portrait of the
Bab, the only one in existence, that he had done himself. It
happened when the Bab was on His way to Tabriz for
cross-examination by the Court of the Crown Prince. At Urumiyyih
the governor, Malik-Qasim Mirza, who was a descendant of Fath-'Ali
Shah, received the Bab with tokens of great respect but, at the
same time, he worked out a <p87>
scheme to test Him. He owned a horse notorious for its unruliness,
and on a Friday when the Bab was going to the public bath,
Malik-Qasim Mirza ordered that charger to be brought for Him to
ride. Those who were in the know watched with trepidation as the
Bab came out to mount, but to the astonishment of all the horse
proved exceedingly docile. The Bab mounted it with ease and rode
to the public bath; the Prince-Governor, crestfallen and ashamed,
followed Him all the way on foot. Before reaching the bath, the Bab
turned to Malik-Qasim Mirza, who was then walking beside him, to
ask him not to come any further but return to his house. When the
Bab came out of the public bath, the horse was still there for Him
to ride; and it behaved exactly as before. As the news of this
extraordinary incident spread like a bonfire throughout Urumiyyih,
the populace broke into the public bath and carried away every drop
of water they could find there.

The people of Urumiyyih were certain that a miracle had come to
pass in their midst and they flocked, day after day, to the
governor's residence to see the Bab. One of them was Aqa-Bala, the
Chief Painter. He told Varqa, all those years later, that on his
first visit, as soon as the Bab noticed him, He gathered His 'aba
round Him, as if sitting for His portrait. The next day He did the
same. It was then that Aqa-Bala Bag understood it to be a signal
to him to draw His portrait. On his third visit, he went to the
residence of Malik-Qasim Mirza with the equipment of his art. He
made a rough sketch or two at the time, from which he later
composed a full-scale portrait in black and white. Varqa wrote and
informed Baha'u'llah of this tremendous discovery. And Baha'u'llah
directed him to instruct Aqa-Bala Bag to make two copies of the
portrait in water-colour, one to be dispatched to the Holy Land,
and one for Varqa himself to keep. The copy sent to the Holy Land
is now preserved in the International Baha'i Archives on Mount
Carmel, but the one which belonged to Varqa was amongst his
possessions which were looted when he was arrested outside Zanjan.
The original portrait, in black and white, was found long after by
Siyyid Asadu'llah-i-Qumi, who took it with him to the Holy Land and
presented it to 'Abdu'l-Baha.

During the weeks that followed his detention, Varqa had, almost
daily, to endure verbal assaults by the divines of Zanjan, and by
the governor himself. 'Ala'u'd-Dawlih was a man of many moods.[1]
It <p88>
apparently amused him to sit day after day and listen to the
devious arguments of the divines, making his own interjections
every now and then. Endless these futile argumentations seemed to
be, and as endless were the brilliant retorts of Varqa.
'Ala'u'd-Dawlih, by all accounts, was trying in some tortuous way
to entice Varqa to deny his faith in order to gain his release,
while Varqa determinedly rejected those inducements.
[1. In the autumn of the year 1903, Lord Curzon, the Viceroy of
India, who had always been an advocate of a forward policy anywhere
in Asia, sailed with an imposing escort into the Persian Gulf. This
official visit of the Viceroy, with the ostentatious showing of the
flag, was meant not only to stamp on the minds of the rulers of
lands bordering on the Gulf, large and small alike, the fact of the
supremacy of Great Britain in those waters, but also to warn off
any European Power, notably Russia and Germany, who might have had
designs of their own in that inhospitable clime. 'Ala'u'd-Dawlih
was then Governor-General of the province of Fars, and at
loggerheads with Salar Mu'azzam (later Nizamu's-Saltanih the
Second), the Governor of the Gulf Ports and Isles. He was
commissioned by the government of Iran to go to Bushihr and there
receive the Viceroy ceremoniously. But as 'Ala'u'd-Dawlih had no
knowledge of English, he took with him from Shiraz the father of
the present writer, who had received part of his education in
Britain, and had served a term of office as the Consul-General of
Iran in Bombay, where he had met Lord Curzon in the course of his

My father's role was to assist in receiving the Viceroy, and to
hold parleys as well with Sir Arthur Hardinge, the British minister
in Tihran who was coming to Bushihr to be there when the Viceroy
arrived. 'Ala'u'd-Dawlih came out of Shiraz with a large retinue
and escort of soldiery, and spent a vast sum of money.
Unfortunately an idiotic misunderstanding--a rigid adherence to
meaningless protocol and unbending stances shared by both sides
(with Lord Curzon in the lead)--prevented the Viceroy leaving his
boat in the harbour of Bushihr, and left 'Ala'u'd-Dawlih fuming on
the shore. And to add to his chagrin, his rival, Salar Mu'azzam,
had stolen a march on him and had gone to Bandar 'Abbas to receive
the Viceroy there, thus avoiding meeting 'Ala'u'd-Dawlih in
Bushihr. The present writer has gained the impression from his
father's letters and diaries that 'Ala'u'd-Dawlih was, although
capable and efficient, a grandee demanding obeisance, whose hauteur
and air of superiority were hard to match and to bear, and who was
easily swayed by his conflicting and fleeting emotions.]
'Ala'u'd-Dawlih, despairing of having any influence over Varqa, to
bend his will told him that he and his son would be sent to Tihran,
and Mirza Husayn, a fellow-Baha'i, would be blown from a cannon.
Varqa cautioned him not to act so impetuously where Mirza Husayn
was concerned. This co-religionist of his, he informed
'Ala'u'd-Dawlih, had come from 'Ishqabad at the behest of
Nasiri'd-Din Shah and with the full knowledge of the Russian
consul-general. Moreover, his son-in-law was a dragoman in the
service of the said consul. It would be more prudent, he advised
the haughty governor, to send Mirza Husayn away from Zanjan, and
let his fate be decided by others. 'Ala'u'd-Dawlih came to his
senses and ordered his farrash-bashi to arrange the transportation
of Mirza Husayn, as well, to Tihran, and collect the cost of the
hiring of a horse from his relatives. They were to be escorted to
the capital by the cavalry in the service of the family of a local
grandee, Jahanshah Khan. Moreover, the possessions of Varqa were
to be sorted by himself, placed in boxes and <p89>
trunks, and locked up to be taken with him, while the keys and a
full list of the contents would be delivered in Tihran to
Aminu's-Sultan, the Sadr-i-A'zam.

Mirza Husayn writes:

Government farrashes entered the prison, took away the chain on my
neck and carried me to the house of the farrash-bashi. I saw that
Varqa's feet were heavily fettered ... he and Ruhu'llah both looked
at me smilingly and Varqa said, 'See, what a difference there is.'
But immediately a carpenter was brought in who put my feet also in
heavy fetters. Then they produced a long chain and attached it to
my neck. They wanted to attach the other end to Varqa's neck.
However, the guards would not have it, because of the difficulty
of managing two men chained together. That chain remained on my own
neck, and I carried it all the way to Tihran. Haji Iman had been
taken away one day prior to us by the artillerymen, on a
gun-carriage, who had tied his arms to the cannon. He had suffered
a great deal by being carried in that fashion to the capital. But
we were given pack horses to ride and were fully equipped.

This was the Jubilee year of Nasiri'd-Din Shah... Jahanshah Khan's
cavalry were going to Tihran to take part in the celebrations ...
grooms were holding the halters of the horses, pulling us through
the bazar. Horsemen were surrounding us. Crowds of the populace
swirled around with people getting on each other's shoulders to
have a good look. We were taken to the caravanserai of Haji
'Ali-Naqi, and were made to dismount and wait for all the cavalry
to foregather, so that all could march out of the city gate as one
body. Spectators kept increasing. There was no passage left. It was
impossible to move. In the end, they put us in a room and locked
it. We were left in peace and sat down to eat. They had sent some
dulmih (a Persian dish) from my home... Ruhu'llah said: 'We have
been starving since last night. They would not give us anything to
eat.' And Varqa added: 'The farrash-bashi displayed such
miserliness ... gave us no supper last night. We were very hungry.
Your bread and dulmih came to our rescue'... He then observed:
'These horsemen, without knowing it, are giving victory to the
Cause of God, taking us with such pomp to Tihran. One does not know
what is hidden behind the veil of the future. Whatever it may be
it will redound to the victory of the Cause. We do not know, but
He Who is the Master of Providence knows.' After a while they
opened the door of the room and took us out. The horses were all
ready and we were made, one by one, to mount. Ruhu'llah and I had
little else on the saddle and had no difficulty in mounting, but
Varqa had saddle-bags on his horse and found mounting it rather
difficult. The head horseman told one of the bystanders to help
Varqa mount his horse. That man, a Muslim, replied: 'Why should I
defile my hands [by touching him]; let him mount by himself.' The
sergeant-major was infuriated and dismounted. First he whipped that
man, then bent his own knee for Varqa to step on and reach the
saddle. While thus engaged, he was saying: 'Now I know. <p90>
Aping and imitation cause a people to wither and die,
May a hundred curses on that imitation lie.'[1]
[1. Famous couplet from the Mathnavi of Jalali'd-Din-i-Rumi.]

When we were all mounted the pressure of the crowd and the rush of
increasing numbers of people, milling around, blocked all the
thoroughfares. The horsemen of the government began beating back
the crowds, who were like a billowing ocean. A way was opened for
the horses to gallop through, and thus we reached the city gate and
went out of Zanjan.

It was almost a triumphal exit. Within a few miles of the city,
this cortege stopped at a village called Dizij. Villagers were out
to view the 'Babis', as if they were exotic animals taken around
for exhibition. The Sartip of Dizij had asked Jahanshah Khan's
cavalry to be his guests. Shortly after their arrival, one of the
Sartip's servants came to conduct the prisoners to an assemblage
of the notables and divines. Soldiers with their rifles were well
in evidence. Mirza Husayn writes, 'I was sure they had brought us
from Zanjan to this place to kill us. Varqa had thought likewise.'
They were made to sit on a dais, all eyes fixed on them. Then they
were collectively arraigned. Varqa bravely withstood their
assaults. Having failed to shake him, their tormentors turned to
Ruhu'llah, whose cryptic remarks made them hopeful at first. But
when the divines realized that Ruhu'llah was ingeniously holding
them up to ridicule, their wrath knew no bounds. 'This child is
insulting holy divines,' they kept shouting, 'and why is he not
fettered? Send for the carpenter to come and put fetters on him.'
Mirza Husayn writes: 'They went in search of the carpenter, and
when he came he was so ebullient and elated that he hardly knew how
to proceed. It was as if he had been given the treasures of heaven
and earth. Blithely he fixed fetters on Aqa Ruhu'llah's feet.'
However, the cavalrymen paid no attention to the ringing demands
for slaughter. From that village of ill renown, the cavalrymen made
their way to Sultaniyyih, giving a wide berth to Khayrabad which
was the district from which Mirza Husayn hailed. Strangely, the
people of Sultaniyyih received the 'Babis' with cordiality.
Learning that Varqa was a physician, they came to him asking for

The son of Jahanshah Khan treated the prisoners very well,
providing them with good meals. The sergeant-major who represented
that chieftain was also very kind and considerate. At the end of
that journey to Tihran he became a convert to the Faith of the
prisoners. But there were two guardsmen who vied with each other
in making life <p91>
hard and unpleasant for the prisoners. Varqa, in particular, was
brutally made to bear much pain, riding as he was atop saddle-bags
with his legs fettered. The guardsmen would not relent to allow his
impedimenta to be shifted. And mulishly they turned a deaf ear to
the sergeant-major's remonstrances. To Atakishi, one of those two,
the sergeant made the observation that indeed by the way he
maltreated the prisoners he bore resemblance to Azraq the Syrian.
(Azraq-i-Shami was a man notorious for causing the captive family
of Imam Husayn to suffer gravely, after the tragedy of Karbila.)
To that appropriate observation Atakishi had the temerity to
retort: 'Not so, not so. It is these people who are Azraqs of the
present day. Now we must take our revenge. They think that they are
the Imams and we are the Syrians (Shimrs), while it is we who are
the Imams and they who are the Syrians.' Varqa was greatly pained
when he heard that observation and this retort. He told Atakishi,
'May God judge between us. You have been very insolent.' Mirza
Husayn writes that Varqa's remark greatly angered Atakishi, who
galloped a long way ahead of the others, only to stop at a spring
to have a drink and smoke. There, as he sat relaxing, unbearable
pain gripped him. Mirza Husayn writes:

Afar we could see someone writhing like a slaughtered cock. He was
shouting, 'My belly is on fire, I am dying, help me.' The horsemen
came along and took him, somehow, off to the next stage which was
Karaj. Varqa was greatly distressed by his condition and prescribed
a remedy for him. But it did not cure him, and on reaching Tihran
the man died. His death invigorated the faith of the
sergeant-major, but it made Varqa very unhappy. He kept saying, 'I
should not have put such an injunction upon him. We should not heap
curses on our enemies, who are ignorant, but pray for them.'
Fearing lest the Baha'is of Qazvin would make a bid to free the
prisoners, the horsemen skirted that city. Then, at long last,
Tihran was gained, and the prisoners were taken to the stables of
the house of Jahanshah Khan, the Zanjan magnate, where they were
lodged for the night. The next day they were visited by Mirza
'Azizu'llah Khan, the eldest son of Varqa who had separated himself
from his father. But Varqa bade him never to come near them again,
because, should he be recognized, he would also be arrested and put
in gaol; whereas outside the gaol he could be of help and service
to them all. Thus Mirza 'Azizullah Khan remained free, and in
future years rendered outstanding service to the Cause of
Baha'u'llah. <p92>
Mirza Husayn gives a graphic account of their first days in Tihran.
The day after their arrival they were taken to the house of
Husayn-'Ali Khan, the Mu'inu'd-Dawlih, brother of the Governor of
Zanjan. There they found Haji Iman, like themselves in chains. It
is not at all clear why they were taken to the house of
Mu'inu'd-Dawlih. On the third day another brutish official named
Nayib (Deputy or Lieutenant) Nasru'llah descended upon them, to
convey them to governmental quarters for interrogation. Avenue
'Ala'u'd-Dawlih (later Avenue Firdawsi), Mirza Husayn writes, was
teeming with bystanders, gathered to have a look at the 'Babis' as
if they were a different species of men. They were marched down
that avenue, surrounded by farrashes and executioners dressed in
red, to Maydan-i-Tupkhanih (Artillery Square)--later Maydan-i-Sipah
(Army Square)--dragging their chains with them. There, governmental
quarters were close by. Proceedings in the Chamber of Justice
(which Mirza Husayn called the 'Quintessence of Tyranny') were
futile and inconsequential. And from the first day, in the house
of Mu'inu'd-Dawlih, the captors began their shameless spoliation
of Varqa's very precious belongings. High and low alike helped
themselves to whatever they could. Hajibu'd-Dawlih, the
murderer-to-be, laid hands on the portrait of the Bab and took it
to Nasiri'd-Din Shah. The brutal Nayib Nasru'llah incessantly
clamoured to take possession of a white robe which had been a
garment belonging to Baha'u'llah. Varqa's entreaty not to
dispossess him of that robe, so highly prized, did not have the
slightest effect on the hard-hearted Nayib, who took it away and
appeared dressed in it, to taunt Varqa. At the end, when all had
gone, Varqa remarked that everything mulcted from him was of the
very best, worthy to lose in the path of God.

Mirza Husayn writes: 'In short, they heaped injuries upon us. They
had fastened heavy chains on our necks to extort money from us. We
had no money to give them and those chains remained on our necks.'
The gaolers also starved them. Mirza Husayn mentions a grandee of
Qazvin, entitled Ghiyath Nizam, who had fallen foul of the
government and was pushed into prison. But he was a man of
substance, had plenty to spend and a servant to attend to his
needs. This servant informed his master of the plight of the Baha'i
prisoners. The grandee had it announced that on a certain night all
the prisoners (numbering sixty, apart from the Baha'is) would be
his guests for chilaw-kabab (a Persian rice dish with kebab and
other ingredients). <p93>
On that night, Mirza Husayn writes, every prisoner was given his
portion, but it was denied to the Baha'is. That had been the
decision of the gaolers. On being told by his servant that the
Baha'is had been deprived of their share, Ghiyath Nizam flew into
a rage and ordered that a fresh supply of chilaw-kabab, even better
garnished, should be sent in immediately to the Baha'i prisoners.
The Nayib had tried to exonerate himself, saying that it was by the
order of Hajibu'd-Dawlih that the 'Babis' had not been served with
that favourite dish.

Now, Nasiri'd-Din Shah's jubilee was drawing near. Mirza 'Abdu'llah
Khan-i-Nuri, the maternal grandfather of Varqa's children, sent him
a message to compose an ode for that occasion that it might be
presented to Nasiri'd-Din Shah and thus obtain his release. Varqa's
response was that a poetic talent that had been moved to render
praise unto Baha'u'llah and His Son, could not be induced to utter
the praise of any other. And Varqa had no doubt that neither he nor
his son would ever come out of that dungeon alive.

Then came that fatal Friday preceding the day of jubilee
celebrations when Nasiri'd-Din Shah, proud and arrogant as ever,
fell dead within the Shrine of Shah 'Abdu'l-'Azim, with a bullet
in his heart. Aminu's-Sultan, the Sadr-i-A'zam, by his presence of
mind and <p94>
sound tactics saved the day and prevented riots and worse. But as
soon as it became known that Nasiri'd-Din Shah had been
assassinated, the generality of people accepted it as a fact that
the deed had been committed by the 'Babis'. But it was Siyyid
Jamalu'd-Din working for a long time on the disordered mind of
Mirza Riday-i-Kirmani, smarting under injustices, who was
responsible for placing that bullet in the chest of Nasiri'd-Din
Shah, thus bringing to its end his inglorious and disastrous
reign.[1] In the eyes of the people 'Babi' and 'Baha'i' were the
same. Varqa had tried in vain to make Hajibu'd-Dawlih aware of the
difference. However, no matter how much the Babis--the partisans
and followers of Subh-i-Azal--might have wished to have a hand in
destroying Nasiri'd-Din Shah, they too were not involved in
regicide. It was entirely the subtle work of Siyyid Jamalu'd-Din.
[1. He was assassinated on 1 May 1896.]

Hajibu'd-Dawlih, beside himself with rage, on his own initiative
and without informing either Aminu's-Sultan, the Sadr-i-A'zam, or
Kamran Mirza, the Governor of Tihran (who had cravenly gone into
hiding, totally neglecting his urgent duties), rushed into the
prison to avenge as he thought the death of his sovereign.
Stampeding, roaring and, as Mirza Husayn expresses it, behaving
like a mad dog, he struck terror into the hearts of the inmates of
the dismal dungeon of Tihran. It was a hideous scene. Chains were
strengthened, locks were fastened and made more secure, everything
was done to impede the movement of the startled prisoners; but no
one knew what had happened, no one had the slightest notion of what
had put Hajibu'd-Dawlih into such a rage as to act like a man
deranged. And he had not come just by himself to display such
antics. He had brought a host of underlings, as if he expected a
massive uprising on the part of those helpless and brutally chained
men. Mirza Husayn writes of roof-tops swarming with soldiers, their
rifles trained on the prison yard where a row of executioners were
standing, ready and alert, as if on the lookout for a signal to
commence their gruesome task. So it seemed that all the prisoners,
Baha'i and non-Baha'i alike, were about to receive a new measure
of chastisement. But, on that day, the wrath of the ferocious
Hajibu'd-Dawlih was focused on Varqa. It was that silver-tongued
poet whom he particularly intended to destroy. He had already had
his contretemps with the poet, at the time he sequestered the
portrait of the Bab. Varqa's respectful reference to the person of <p95>
the Bab, which he had written to identify that portrait, had
angered Hajibu'd-Dawlih, and driven that uncouth, brutish courtier
to belabour the poet with his walking-stick.

The Baha'is were unchained and hauled out of the dungeon.
Hajibu'd-Dawlih ordered them to be brought, two by two, through a
long corridor, which, Mirza Husayn writes, led from the prison yard
to an inner room. Varqa and Ruhu'llah were the first to go through
that corridor, and as soon as they had gone the intervening door
was shut in the faces of Mirza Husayn and Haji Iman. Those two,
left behind, were, as Mirza Husayn himself writes, both perplexed
and distressed. As they waited, they heard voices raised on the
other side of the partition, and soon after, a farrash appeared to
fetch the instrument of bastinado, followed in a little while by
one of the gaolers carrying a dagger covered with blood, which he
washed in the pool within the prison yard. And before long, one of
the executioners came through with Varqa's garments. Then, to their
mortification, Mirza Husayn and Haji Iman knew that the worst had
happened. But they had yet to learn of the heroism of Ruhu'llah.

Those two now prepared to go through the door to their inevitable
fate, but suddenly the door was shut in their faces, and they could
hear noises and voices beyond it which, in their state of
affliction, they found hard to comprehend. Then, as suddenly as the
door had shut, it was flung open, and out rushed that evil
courtier, Hajibu'd-Dawlih, panic-stricken. All that he could or
would say was: 'Take these two back to the gaol, I will deal with
them tomorrow.' But that morrow never came. Haji Iman and Mirza
Husayn were returned to the dungeon and, as the latter writes, they
saw that all they had of quilts and bedding, clothing and rugs, had
been taken away in their absence. Mirza Husayn writes that they
were too numbed to feel much and they sank down forlorn and
dejected on the bare, damp floor of the dungeon. There could be no
doubt that the inimitable Varqa had been put to death, but where
was Ruhu'llah, what had happened to him? And what exactly had
occurred behind that closed door? Still more puzzling: what had
caused Hajibu'd-Datilih, a man bereft of common humanity, such
distress and bewilderment as they had witnessed? Not all the
gaolers were as vindictive and hard-hearted as that brutish
courtier and his minion, Nayib Nasru'llah. Some of them responded
to the piteous entreaties of Haji Iman and Mirza Husayn and told
them the full story of the martyrdom of Varqa and the immolation
of <p96>
Ruhu'llah. This is the story they heard, to their horror and
marvel--horror at the hideous cruelty of the deed, marvel at the
unshakeable constancy of the fearless poet and his glorious son.

Brought face to face with Varqa in that inner room, Hajibu'd-Dawlih
had gone immediately into a fierce tirade: 'You did at last what
you did', he had shouted at Varqa, to which the poet had quietly
answered that he was unaware of having done anything wrong. Varqa's
calm reply had added to the fury of Hajibu'd-Dawlih. It had indeed
maddened him. Dragging his dagger out of its sheath, he had plunged
it into the chest of Varqa, saying with great relish: 'How are
you?' And Varqa had answered him thus: 'Feeling better than you.'
'Tell me,' said Hajibu'd-Dawlih, 'which one shall I slay first,
you, or your son?' And quietly Varqa had replied, 'It is the same
to me.' Then, having torn open Varqa's chest, Hajibu'd-Dawlih had
handed him over to his executioners, whereupon four of them had
fallen on the poet, tearing him apart, limb from limb. As his blood
kept flowing in profusion, Ruhu'llah was crying out: '0 dear
father, father dear, take me, take me, take me with you.'

Having destroyed Varqa, the unspeakable Hajibu'd-Dawlih had turned
to Ruhu'llah, who had just witnessed the dismemberment and
slaughter of his father: 'Do not weep. I shall take you with
myself, make you an allowance, obtain for you a post from the
Shah.' And bravely, Ruhu'llah had replied: 'I do not want you. I
do not want your allowance. I do not want any post that you might
obtain for me. I want to join my father.' Then, he had begun
weeping afresh. Defied, baulked, repelled, Hajibu'd-Dawlih had
ordered his minions to bring a rope and strangle that brave boy.
No rope was available there, and so they had put Ruhu'llah's neck
in the loop of the instrument of the bastinado. When he had become
still, they had dropped the senseless corpse on the floor. Elated,
Hajibu'd-Dawlih had told his minions to bring in the other two
'Babis'. The moment they had opened the door, the corpse of
Ruhu'llah had sprung up and come down with a thud, a yard away. It
was that which had terrified the blood-thirsty Hajibu'd-Dawlih, and
made him flee away, exclaiming that he would deal with the other
two on the morrow, a morrow which never came. That was how Haji
Iman and Mirza Husayn escaped from the clutches of Hajibu'd-Dawlih.
That was how Mirza Husayn lived to see another day, and to recall
the story of the martyrdom of that father and his matchless son. <p97>
In a dream, Mirza Husayn writes, he saw Ruhu'llah coming towards
him, all smiles, saying: 'Mirza Husayn, did you see how I rode on
the neck of the Emperor?' During their last pilgrimage to the Holy
Land, 'Abdu'l-Baha had patted Ruhu'llah on his back and had said:
'Should God will it, He can make Ruhu'llah ride on the neck of an
emperor to proclaim the Cause of God.' <p98>
The Gourmet Who Was a Saint

Mulla Muhammad-Riday-i-Muhammadabadi of Yazd is one of the most
distinguished amongst the Baha'i martyrs.

He was a God-fearing man, whom nothing of this world ever daunted,
outspoken, courageous to the extreme. He went to prison and
accepted its rigours blissfully, although he was a bon viveur;
indeed a gourmet, a connoisseur of good food.

In his historical work, Samandar writes of him:

He himself has been heard to say: 'When Radiu'r-Ruh,[1] one of the
most eminent divines to believe, came from Baghdad to Yazd, he had
certain Writings with him, including Qasidiy-i-'Izz-i-Vurqa'iyyih.
[Baha'u'llah composed this ode in Sulaymaniyyih.] As soon as I set
eyes on it, I exclaimed spontaneously: "Man-Yuzhiruhu'llah[2] of
the Bayan has come." He said: "The One Whose words these are has
not made such a claim." I replied: "On the throne of these words
I see the Promised One of the Bayan seated. "Then Radiu'r-Ruh said:
"Henceforth it is difficult to consort with you." Ere long, that
same eminent man, subsequent to high endeavour, embraced the
blessed Cause of Abha and served it for years, engaged in promoting
the Word of God. The Friends [Baha'is] of Manshad and its environs
were led to the light of faith by him. For a long time, because of
the transgressions of the enemies, he had to spend both summers and
winters in caves and on mountain-tops, suffering untold hardships,
until the day of his death. Upon him be the peace of God and His
glory.' Mulla Muhammad-Rida himself, when detained in Tihran and
summoned to the court of Kamran Mirza [the Nayibu's-Saltinih, son
of Nasiri'd-Din Shah], where the most eminent of the princes and
the high officials of the State had gathered for interrogation,
fearlessly gave appropriate replies to any matter raised and any
question asked. And when Farhad Mirza, the Mu'tamidu'd-Dawlih
[uncle of Nasiri'd-Din Shah] made an abusive remark, he [Mulla
Muhammad-Rida] gave an answer which so accorded with the law of
religion that no one had any more to say and the session ended in
deep silence. (Tarikh-i-Samandar, pp. 220-21)
[1. Mulla Muhammad-Riday-i-Manshadi. whom Baha'u'llah honoured with
the designation: Radiu'r-Ruh (Contented Spirit). He was poisoned
by a certain Haji Rasul-i-Mihriri.]
[2. He Whom God shall manifest.] <p99>
We shall presently see what Prince Farhad Mirza's remarks and Mulla
Muhammad-Rida's comments were.

Samandar goes on to say:

After his release from that long detention, he [Mulla
Muhammad-Rida] went to 'Akka and attained the presence [of
Baha'u'llah]. Subsequently, by way of Qazvin, he gained Tihran.
Then, when Nasiri'd-Din Shah was assassinated, he was, once again
arrested and thrown into prison. He passed away while in gaol. Upon
him be the essence of God's mercy and His light.
(Tarikh-i-Samandar, pp. 221-2) <p100>
Mulla Muhammad-Rida was truly fearless. Hearing, at the time of his
sojourn in Yazd, that the merchants of that city had come together
to devise ways and means of improving trade and bringing more
prosperity to their people, Mulla Muhammad-Rida unhesitatingly
wrote them a memorandum, telling them that the surest way to gain
their end was to accept and follow the polity of Baha'u'llah.

That confrontation with Haji Farhad Mirza, the Mu'tamidu'd-Dawlih,
which Samandar has mentioned, occurred in the year AH 1300 (12
November 1882-1 November 1883). In the course of his discussions
with Mulla Muhammad-Rida, Prince Farhad Mirza said: '0 Akhund![1]
You cannot push aside so lightly all the traditions and the sayings
of the past. We have most reliable and trustworthy traditions and
references to the cities Jabulqa and Jabulsa. It is not possible
to ignore them all and uphold the belief that Siyyid-i-Bab, a young
mercer of Shiraz, is the promised Qa'im. Mulla Muhammad-Rida
replied: 'Your Royal Highness! You yourself have written a book on
geography. If such a city exists, a city which is claimed to have
70,000 <p101>
gates, and according to others 100,000, please tell me in which
part of the world you have placed it in your geography; show me
where in your book you have referred to it and described it; then
I shall accept all your arguments.' This retort went home and
incensed the prince. He kept hitting the ground with his
walking-stick and shouted: 'Akhund! Akhund! Stop! This Baha'u'llah
to whom you have lost your heart, I know well. Many a time he has
been my companion in drinking bouts: he is a bibber of wine.' Mulla
Muhammad-Rida kept his composure and replied: 'Your Royal Highness
is, must be, well aware of the law of Islam: the testimony of a
wrongdoer regarding another cannot be entertained. You yourself
have here owned to drinking wine; therefore, your testimony
regarding Baha'u'llah is inadmissible.' Prince Farhad Mirza could
bear it no longer, and angrily stamped out of the room. Mulla
Muhammad-Rida's repartee was truly brilliant and accorded with the
prescriptions of Islam.
[1. Akhund is a term applied to the turbaned men of learning,
particularly the divines.]

Mulla Muhammad-Rida came out safely from that imprisonment. Some
thirteen years later Nasiri'd-Din Shah was assassinated [1 May
1896]. Mulla Muhammad-Rida was then in Qum. He was present in a
mosque, when one of the clergy ascended a pulpit and called to the
people assembled: 'Look! 0 men, these detested Babis have murdered
the sovereign. He has fallen a martyr at their hands. They are
pestilential. They ought to be crushed!' Amidst the hush of the
people and the raging of the divine, Mulla Muhammad-Rida spoke out:
'Akhund! Akhund! You are mistaken: this is not the doing of these
people. They cannot have committed this crime.' The people were
astounded and turned to Mulla Muhammad-Rida: 'Akhund! How dare you
defend these Babis? Are you one of them?' Mulla Muhammad-Rida
calmly replied: 'Of course I am one of them.' He was seized, sent
to Tihran and thrown into the Siyah-Chal. This second time he did
not leave the prison alive.

The incomparable Baha'i scholar and teacher, Mirza Abu'l-Fadl of
Gulpaygan, writes in his great work Kitab-i-Fara'id (pp. 110-14),
a book unparalleled in both its range and depth:

In the year AH 1300, certain events came to pass in Iran. In most
of the cities they set upon these people [Baha'is]. Everywhere they
seized a number of them, who were innocent of any wrongdoing, and
put them in prison. In Tihran too by the orders of
Nayibu's-Saltinih, Prince Kamran Mirza who was the Minister of War
as well as the Governor of the capital and the province of
Mazindaran, a number were detained and gaoled. Amongst <p102>
these prisoners, four came from the ranks of the learned and the
rest were tradesmen and merchants. Mirza
Muhammad-Riday-i-Muhammadabadi of Yazd was one of the four--a man
distinguished by his old age and constancy. Although, at the
beginning, the aim of the Amir[1] was only to ease the situation
and silence the mischief-makers; yet bit by bit, due to the
uprising of the divines, the aiding and abetting of powerful men,
the incitement of the high-positioned, and the promptings of self,
views were greatly changed and the matter assumed considerable
importance. The flare-up of prejudices caused the authorities to
overlook that which was for the good of the state and the nation,
until most of the leading figures of the country became determined
to destroy these greatly-wronged people. To carry out their corrupt
and impossible designs they resorted to all kinds of means and
intrigues. Briefly, in those days, time and time again, meetings
were held for enquiry and argument in the governing circles. All
manner of debate and proof-seeking was introduced. Evidently, with
them, it is a canon of opposition to begin by resorting to that
which they consider to be axioms of faith and belief. And when they
receive irrefutable answers and find themselves unable to pose any
proof, they turn to miracle-seeking and the supernatural. Having
been worsted and brought to their knees in that arena as well, they
resort to the last weapon of the transgressor and the
evil-intentioned and that is slaying of the innocent and
incarcerating the helpless. Thus it was that in those meetings,
after repeated argumentation and verbal assaults, lengthy and
detailed, the end came with demanding miracles. Those who were <p103>
prominent amongst the friends, one and all, said: 'So be it: the
way is clear, the post and the telegraph afford ample facility for
presenting your request. While the Sun of Truth is here effulgent,
and the Most Sacred Person of the Manifestation of God is here
unveiled, how good it would be if the holders of governmental
authority and the learned of the land would combine and choose a
miracle, a supernatural deed, decide on the day for its fulfilment,
inform the inhabitants of Tihran, and then cable their request to
His Blessed Person; so that truth might be revealed and differences
effaced from the midst of the nation.'
[1. Mirza Abu'l-Fadl refers to Prince Kamran Mirza as Amir Kabir.]

One day, the Amir summoned me to one of those assemblages already
mentioned. A number of the grandees and men holding positions of
authority were present at that meeting. The Amir, after bidding me
sit down, turned to me and said: 'Abu'l-Fadl! Mirza
Muhammad-Riday-i-Yazdi says: "You choose whatever miracle you wish
and cable your choice to the Most Sacred Presence, and declare it
also; undoubtedly, God, great is His glory, will evince and grant
that supernatural deed which you have asked for, and will reveal
His power to the people. But, were that to happen which I consider
to be impossible, and that power should not be revealed, I would
rise to assist you and would make public everywhere my repudiation
of the Babis."' I replied: 'Your Royal Highness well knows of the
Mirza's veracity and constancy in the Cause of God. Without the
slightest doubt, he must have total assurance to make such a bold,
emphatic assertion.' The Amir then said: 'What is your view and
what do you think of it?' I replied: 'Why do you <p104>
hesitate, why linger? You who, in all of these gatherings, after
resorting to every means, cling to miracles and constantly say that
if this Advent is that Advent promised to us, why does He not bring
forth miracles; now that the leading figures of this Cause show
such constancy and promise you the working of miracles, why do you
hesitate and who or what prevents making the request? By God! They
have completed their proof and have with strength and assurance
established their case. Why do you not pay heed, but instead, for
the sake of those who if closely looked at and investigated would
be found to be the worst enemies of the State, do not follow the
dictates of wisdom in such grave matters?'

In these respects, such matters were discussed and presented as
must engage the attention of those who are possessed of discernment
and cause them wonderment. However, to tabulate and marshal all the
arguments here would unnecessarily lengthen this narrative. But to
cite a few examples, I said: 'My Lord! Do not assume that slaying
and imprisonment will stem the influence of this Cause, and do not
think that faith and belief will alter by torment and suppression.
Rather, should the matter be viewed with a discerning eye, it could
be plainly seen that putting people to death will tend to increase
the worth of this Cause, and the harshness of injunction will serve
to intensify the desire of the people to enquire and investigate.
If you desire your own good and the good of the nation you should
resort to provisions of justice, and view this Cause with
perception and not hostility, that perchance a good name, an
admired name should become your legacy to posterity in books and
written accounts; and whatever has been said regarding the deniers
of past ages should not be said regarding you.' Much of this manner
of advice, devoid of self-interest, was offered. But jealousy
prevailed. The enmity of divines and the assault of vain imaginings
stood in the way. Advice was discarded. Consequences were not taken
into account, until the hands of the All-Powerful rolled up all the
outspread circumstances and the hallucinations [of the adversary]
did not materialize. That which remained eminent and proven was
that neither could the influence of the Cause of God be stemmed by
oppression and suppression, nor could one wipe out the story of
these events from the pages of history, as if they had never

Mirza Abu'l-Fadl has paid glowing tribute to the quality of Mulla
Muhammad-Rida's courage and his unswerving faith. 'Abdu'l-Baha
mentions it, when He Himself was lauding Mirza Abu'l-Fadl's
humility and selflessness. 'Abdu'l-Baha recounted in a meeting,
held in His house in Haifa after the death of Mirza Abu'l-Fadl,
that despite his own brilliant contribution to the arguments
conducted in the presence of Prince Kamran Mirza, Mirza Abu'l-Fadl
always stoutly and meekly maintained that on those occasions the
pride of place belonged to Mulla Muhammad-Rida and he outshone them
all by his boldness, firmness and certitude. <p105>
One night, it is related, Prince Kamran Mirza called Mulla
Muhammad-Rida to his own private apartments to have dinner with
him. Dinner over, he suddenly turned to the prisoner with this
abrupt question: 'Akhund! Tell me: whom do you consider Baha'u'llah
to be--an Imam or a Prophet?' Not at a loss for an answer, Mulla
Muhammad-Rida replied: 'Your Royal Highness! We recognize in Him
the Ancient Beauty, the Manifestation of God, the Dawning-Place of
the Sun of Divinity, the Horizon whereupon has appeared the Light
of the Unseen Who is beyond all comprehension. Should we do
otherwise we would have denied all the Prophets Who came in past
ages, and the Glad Tidings imparted by Them would have been made
senseless, since They have foretold the Advent of the Lord of
Hosts, the Heavenly Father, the day when men will come face to face
with the Godhead. We refer to Him by these names, which are not of
our own invention. Moreover, it is not names that we look up to,
because Baha'u'llah is sanctified beyond all names, designations,
appellation and description. He is both the Lord of Names and
independent of names.' Then Mulla Muhammad-R&la went on to present
the Prince with proofs and pointers.

The next day the prisoners were, as usual, brought to the
assemblage where the great and mighty of the land had gathered,
although that whole pretence of investigation was a mockery of
justice, as is seen elsewhere in this volume. 'Well,' said Prince
Kamran Mirza, turning to Haji Mulla 'Ali-Akbar-i-Shahmirzadi, known
as Haji Akhund, 'what is your view of Mulla Muhammad-Rida; do you
consider him to be a truthful person, is he an honest man?' To
which query Haji Akhund replied: 'Indeed and indeed, he is a
truthful person; he never lies.' Now Kamran Mirza found his chance
to score a decisive point. 'If that is so,' he said, 'then the rest
of you are all liars and deceivers. You have been telling me all
along that in Baha'u'llah you witness the Return of Husayn
[Rij'at-i-Husayni], whereas Mulla Muhammad-Rida tells me that the
Light of the Invisible Godhead is shining in the Person of
Baha'u'llah.' Haji Mulla 'Ali-Akbar was amazed and said mildly,
'Your Royal Highness! Mulla Muhammad-Rida is the Sufi of the Babis,
waxing extravagant.' Then, Mulla Muhammad-Rida himself intervened:
'Your Royal Highness! You listen to me. What I have said is the
truth. These are the samovar-centred Baha'is: when the samovar is
boiling and they are seated somewhere safe and secure, they all say
the same <p106>
as I have told you. That is the belief of all; but now, at the time
of testing, they draw a veil over it all and follow the dictates
of circumspection.' After that there was only silence.

Mulla Muhammad-Rida's courage and outspokenness contributed in no
small measure to the eventual release of all the Baha'is.

This erstwhile divine of Yazd was a man of great vision. He had a
clear picture in his mind of a vast and magnificent town with a
splendorous House of Worship (Mashriqu'l-Adhkar) dedicated to the
glory of Baha'u'llah. His notion of a Mashriqu'l-Adhkar was one
constructed with translucent crystal. In the vicinity of Kirman he
came upon a lake which was fed with melting snow and rainwater, and
below the lake <p107>
there was an extensive area of barren land. All by himself, he set
about working on that land. Here he was going to have his dream
realized. But it was not to be. He was arrested, taken to the city
and put into gaol. When he was taken away, some five hundred
digging tools of various kind were left around that wasteland. His
labour was necessarily slow because of his advanced age, and when
he was arrested and his work was halted he said that there would
be another day. Then people from neighbouring villages came and
helped themselves to the tools which Mulla Muhammad-Rida had
gathered in that desolate spot.

And yet this saintly and selfless man was a bon vivant. The life
he lived was a testimony to the fact that detachment and
monasticism are poles apart. Detachment is not denying oneself all
the good things that this world has to offer; but disallowing
anything, abstract or material, to pose a barrier between oneself
and the recognition and acceptance of Truth, however hard and
exacting it might be to take and tread that shining path. Mulla
Muhammad-Rida always stood fearlessly by the side of the Truth
which he professed. And he lived well and ate very well, for he was
a keen connoisseur, in fact an unashamed gourmet. He chose his lamb
while still a suckling, and fed it with delicious sweets, with nuts
and spices, such as cardamom and cloves. Frequently he had guests
to share with him his repast. The tidiness of his mien and manners
was extraordinary. Once, in his native city of Yazd, the divines
vented their rage on him and caused the governor to have him
bastinadoed in public. That was done in seven thoroughfares. In
each spot Mulla Muhammad-Rida would neatly divest himself of his
turban, his 'aba and his socks, place them in an orderly fashion
on a handkerchief and stretch out his feet, inviting his tormentors
to do their caning. And he never flinched, never uttered a cry of
pain, to the amazement of the passers-by and the discomfiture of
those who wanted to humiliate and torture him.

In the course of his first imprisonment in Tihran, Mulla
Muhammad-Rida's frankness so aroused the ire of Mashhadi 'Ali, the
gaoler, that he took him out into the prison yard, stripped him of
his clothes and lashed him so hard on his bare skin that soon his
back became a mass of weals and wounds. Siyyid Asadu'llah-i-Qumi,
who shared his chain with him at night, wished to smear that
lacerated back with yolks of eggs, to bring the saintly sufferer
some relief. Mulla Muhammad-Rida told him: 'Aqa Siyyid Asadu'llah!
Do you think <p108>
that when they were punishing me, I was aware of what they were
doing? 0 Siyyid! I was in the presence of the Blessed Perfection,
speaking with Him!' A certain Ghulam-Rida Khan, one of the notables
of Tihran, also happened to be incarcerated at this very time. He
particularly noticed the heroism and endurance of Mulla
Muhammad-Rida. And that led him to give his allegiance to
Baha'u'llah. Whenever asked what it was that made him a Baha'i, he
always said 'lashing', and would quickly add: 'Nothing but what I
saw of the blissful constancy of that man under the impact of those
lashes could have ever induced me to turn to the Faith of

Another fellow-prisoner was a poor Jew--sad, forlorn, helpless and
shunned. He was not allowed into the bath, and he had no change of
clothing. Mulla Muhammad-Rida watched the miserable plight of that
solitary figure with increasing concern, until he could stand it
no longer. He proposed to Siyyid Asadu'llah that together they
should give that poor Jew a decent wash in the pool of the prison
yard and provide him with a clean shirt, which they proceeded to
do. The Jew was overwhelmed and wished to know why they were so
kind and considerate to him. Mulla Muhammad-Rida told him that it
was the command and counsel of his Heavenly Father which made him
do what he was doing. He, the Father of them all, had made it a
duty to consort with the followers of all religions in perfect

During his second imprisonment in Tihran two of his fellow-Baha'is
chained with him were Haji Iman and Mirza Husayn, both natives of
Zanjan. Mirza Husayn has bequeathed to posterity the story of that
time, and particularly of Mulla Muhammad-Rida. He witnessed also
and has described the martyrdom in that prison of the noble poet
Varqa together with his heroic young son, Ruhu'llah, at the hands
of the brutal Hajibu'd-Dawlih (see chap. 7). And it was to Mirza
Husayn that 'Abdu'l-Baha addressed these lines, after his release
from prison:

0 thou imprisoned for the sake of the Ancient of Days! Don a
pilgrim's garb, and then give Me My fill to drink and tell Me: Lo,
this is wine. 0 Cup-bearer! When thou givest Me that wine to drink,
tell Me: Lo, this is wine, so that My ears too may take delight.
In numerous letters we have read the astounding story of Varqa and
Ruhu'llah, yet I desire to hear it with Mine Own ears as well.
(Quoted in Sulaymani, vol. I, pp. 210-11)

Aqa Mirza Husayn relates that one day they brought in a young man
named 'Ali, a native of Hamadan, and chained him with them. He had
been accused of robbery. <p109>
[He] had no shirt. Mulla Muhammad-Rida said to me: 'Mirza Husayn!
This man too is a servant of the Blessed Beauty, although he does
not know his Master. He is bare and we have an extra shirt between
us; let us give it to him.' I replied: 'I have just washed that
shirt; I will give it to you to wear, and you give the shirt that
you are wearing now to this young man.' At that, Mulla
Muhammad-Rida flared up: 'Do you know what you are saying, Mirza
Husayn? Are you not a Baha'i? I would be ashamed to offer my dirty
shirt to the Blessed Beauty.' I gave the clean shirt to 'Ali, who
gratefully wore it. And that was a lesson to me.

Mirza Husayn writes that he prayed to be granted the same degree
of certitude which Mulla Muhammad-Rida had attained; and says that
whatever was given to him Mulla Muhammad-Rida considered to be a
bounty from Baha'u'llah, and whatever he, himself, gave to others,
he considered to be an offering to Baha'u'llah.

By now the nightmarish reign of Nasiri'd-Din Shah had reached its
end and Muzaffari'd-Din Shah was the ruler of Iran. He was not
vindictive and erratic, but weak, kind-hearted and vacillating. A
number of Baha'i ladies sent him a cable from Shah-'Abdu'l-'Azim,
begging him to set the Baha'is free. The capable but devious
Aminu's-Sulan had fallen from power, and in his place as Prime
Minister sat Mirza 'Ali Khan, the Aminu'd-Dawlih, a disciple and
friend of Prince (or Mirza) Malkam Khan. Muzaffari'd-Din Shah gave
him the telegram he had received from the Baha'i ladies, and asked
him to investigate the matter.

It was decided to take the five prisoners to the house of
Aminu'd-Dawlih. Aqa Muhammad-Quliy-i-'Attar (the Druggist), Siyyid
Fattah, Haji Iman and Mirza Husayn tied by one chain, and Mulla
Muhammad-Rida tied by a smaller one, were moved out of the prison
and, escorted by soldiers, were paraded in the streets amidst a
gaping, jeering populace, all the way to the home of the Prime
Minister. Their progress was slow, both because of the press of
people, and their own inability to keep a steady pace after sixteen
months of little exercise in gaol. The four managed to go ahead,
but Mulla Muhammad-Rida a much older man, collapsed. Porters had
to be forced into service to carry him. Mulla Muhammad-Rida jested
so much with the sergeant in charge about the quality of his
'steed', to the annoyance of the porters, the amusement of the
public and the consternation of the Baha'i ladies who moved with
them mixed with the crowd, that the porter carrying him on his back
nearly dropped him in the middle of the road. Then one of the
ladies went near him and whispered: <p110>
'Akhund, for God's sake, keep quiet.' Mulla Muhammad-Rida replied:
'I shall obey! I am both deaf and dumb.' Mirza Husayn says that it
took them nearly two hours to reach the house of Aminu'd-Dawlih,
who was at the door to meet them. To his query, Mulla Muhammad-Rida
made no answer, pretending now that he could neither hear nor
speak. The people were now doubled up with laughter.

The crowd was thickening outside the house of Aminu'd-Dawlih as the
prisoners were led to the house of his farrash-bashi. There they
were relieved of their chains, given a decent meal sent from the
kitchen of the Prime Minister, and had a good night's rest, after
languishing for all that long time in prison. The farrash-bashi was
awaiting the arrival of the royal rescript to let the prisoners go,
but Aminu'd-Dawlih himself, without any further ado, ordered their
release. However, at this critical juncture, as the prisoners were
about to leave, a divine, who was a siyyid as well, accompanied by
a number of theological students, came riding by as they returned
from the house of the Prime Minister. It was raining and the
farrash-bashi invited them to take shelter in his house while the
rain lasted. Learning that the Baha'i prisoners were there and
would shortly be going to their homes, the siyyid expressed his
desire to meet them. But all refused to see him, saying that they
were not well enough, except <p111>
for Mulla Muhammad-Rida. The other four begged him to desist and
not to put his neck into a noose, but he was adamant and would not
listen to them: he would not run away, he stoutly asserted. Aqa
Muhammad-Quli, Mirza Husayn writes, exclaimed in anguish: 'May God
preserve us from the ill-advised actions of this Akhund and that
Siyyid.' The four sat in trepidation as Mulla Muhammad-Rida went
into another room to meet the siyyid. Within fifteen minutes,
according to Mirza Husayn, pandemonium broke loose in the other
room: the theological students were beating Mulla Muhammad-Rida and
he was shouting at the top of his voice to the siyyid: 'You who
could not prove the truth of the Faith of your forefathers, how
dare you tell me to curse Subh-i-Azal? You who do not know who
Subh-i-Azal is and why he should be cursed, are trying to make me
soil my tongue.' Then Mulla Muhammad-Rida rejoined his
fellow-believers, who admonished him, but he was unrepentant and
replied: 'I did well to go... I put him in his place.' The siyyid
must have been terribly confused, taking Mulla Muhammad-Rida to be
a follower of Azal. He immediately wrote a letter to the Prime
Minister, saying: 'It will be most injudicious to set this old,
insolent Babi free.' On receipt of that letter, Aminu'd-Dawlih
ordered the release of the four Zanjanis and further detention of
Mulla Muhammad-Rida, whose case he would personally investigate at
a later date.

Now it became obvious that Mulla Muhammad-Rida was not reprieved,
at least for the time being. Mirza Husayn, in despair, appealed to
the sergeant not to return the old man to the prison, as he had no
one there to look after him, and promised the sergeant seven
tumans, in consideration of his kind-heartedness. Hearing this,
Mulla Muhammad-Rida said laughingly that it reminded him of the
story of Shaykh Faridi'd-Din-i-'Attar and his Mongol captor. He
told the sergeant: 'You are offered seven tumans, but I am not
worth it. Give me two tumans, and I will walk straight back to the
prison.' However, the sergeant promised not to put Mulla
Muhammad-Rida once again in the gaol, but he did not keep his word.
Haji Iman visited that noble man in the dreary gaol the next day.
Mulla Muhammad-Rida asked for some kind of broth. Haji Iman took
it to him, and left him some money as well.

Being left alone, Mulla Muhammad-Rida soon succumbed to the rigours
of prison life. Within ten days he passed out of this world; at
peace with himself, with his fellow-men and with his Maker. <p112>

'There was, in the city of Najaf,' 'Abdu'l-Baha has recounted,

among the disciples of the widely known mujtahid, Shaykh
Murtada,[1] a man without likeness or peer. His name was Aqa
Muhammad-i-Qa'ini, and later on he would receive, from the
Manifestation, the title of Nabil-i-Akbar. This eminent soul became
the leading member of the mujtahid's company of disciples. Singled
out from among them all, he alone was given the rank of
mujtahid--for the late Shaykh Murtada was never wont to confer this
[1. When at the instigation of the cleric, Shaykh
'Abdu'l-Husayn-i-Tihrani, Shi'ih divines gathered together to
concert plans against Baha'u'llah in Baghdad, Shaykh
Murtaday-i-Ansari refused to associate himself with their aims and
objects. (See Balyuzi, Baha'u'llah, The King of Glory, pp. 142-3.)

He excelled not only theology but in other branches of knowledge,
such as the humanities, the philosophy of the Illuminati, the
teachings of the mystics and of the Shaykhi School. He was a
universal man, in himself alone a convincing proof. When his eyes
were opened to the light of Divine guidance, and he breathed in the
fragrances of Heaven, he became a flame of God. Then his heart
leapt within him, and in an ecstasy of joy and love, he roared out
like leviathan in the deep. (Memorials of the Faithful, p. 1)

Indeed, Aqa Muhammad-i-Qa'ini, Nabil-i-Akbar, also known as
Fadil-i-Qa'ini (the Learned One of Qa'in), was a man of great
knowledge. It has been claimed that no one within the enclave of
the Baha'i Faith has ever surpassed the profundity of his
erudition. As far as the accomplishment demanded of a Shi'ih
mujtahid is concerned, his attainment was superb, but naturally he
had little knowledge of the lore and the scholarship of the West.
Mirza Abu'l-Fadl of Gulpaygan, on the other hand, was well versed
in Islamic studies and had a wide and comprehensive knowledge of
Western thought as well. This comment is just a diversion, and
certainly is not meant to cast a slur on the intellectual eminence
of Nabil-i-Akbar, the learned sage of Qa'in.

When Aqa Muhammad of Qa'in had completed his studentship under
Shaykh Murtaday-i-Ansari, and had obtained his sanction and
blessing, he moved from Najaf to Baghdad. Here, in the city of the <p113>
'Abbasids, he found himself in the presence of Baha'u'llah. As Aqa
Muhammad himself has related, having received him most graciously,
Baha'u'llah asked him smilingly and in a light vein: 'Do you not
know that we are offenders in the eyes of the government and have
been cast out? People, too, regard us as outlaws and spurn us. You
are a learned man, a mujtahid, and highly respected. Whoever comes
to meet us and consorts with us, he too becomes suspect and
blameworthy in the eyes of the public. How then did you dare to
come to us, not sparing yourself and without concern for your own
position and status?'[1] Then, very kindly, Baha'u'llah invited Aqa
Muhammad to stay as His guest, instructing Mirza Aqa Jan to act as
host and see to the comfort of that distinguished pupil of Shaykh
[1. The above are reported words of Baha'u'llah, not to be equated
with His writings.]

* * * * * * * *
[Electronic editor's note: In the Foreward to this book, p. x,
Moojan Momen writes: '...the present writer has contributed short
accounts... [The] additions are clearly indicated in the text ...
where the added material follows a line of asterisks.']

Nabil-i-Akbar was born in a village, Naw-Firist, near Birjand in
the district of Qa'in, on 29 March 1829. He came from a family of
eminent clerics and received the usual religious education, going
first to Mashhad to study under the distinguished divines of that
town. While there, he became interested in the study of philosophy
and so he travelled to Sabzivar where Haji Mulla Hadi, the most
eminent Persian philosopher of the nineteenth century, was
delivering classes. After five years of study, Nabil set out for
the Holy Shrines of Najaf and Karbila in order to complete his
education. It was the year 1852 and the persecutions of the Babis
following the attempt on the life of the Shah were at their height
as Nabil entered Tihran. Through the instrument of certain
ill-disposed persons Nabil found himself arrested as a Babi. He
protested his innocence and obtained his freedom but the incident
set him thinking, and later when he had an opportunity he studied
the writings of the Bab and became a believer.

In 'Iraq, Nabil attended the classes of the eminent mujtahids there
and, in particular, those of Shaykh Murtaday-i-Ansari, obtaining
the rank of mujtahid. On his way back to Iran, Nabil stayed in
Baghdad for a time where he met Baha'u'llah. Nabil himself has
written how at first he was blind to Baha'u'llah's station and
would always take the most prominent position at the meetings of
the Babis and deliver an address. Then one day Baha'u'llah began
to discourse on a point and resolved the matter in such a manner
that Nabil realized his own ignorance in comparison. <p114>
Having returned to his home town, Nabil began to teach the Faith.
Although he was received at first with great honour and
distinction, opposition began to mount. Eventually he was arrested
and after a period of imprisonment in Birjand he was sent to
Mashhad. The governor there, Sultan-Murad Mirza, Hisamu's-Saltanih,
released Nabil, but on his return to Qa'in, he was again arrested
and taken to Tihran in 1869. The 'ulama of Tihran plotted to kill
Nabil and he had to flee. He proceeded to 'Akka where he remained
a short time before being instructed by Baha'u'llah to return to
Iran to teach the Faith. Nabil travelled through all parts of Iran
and was soon being hunted by <p115>
the authorities as a believer. He was eventually arrested in
Sabzivar but so impressed the governor of that town that he enabled
Nabil to slip away to 'Ishqabad. From 'Ishqabad, he proceeded with
Mirza Abu'l-Fadl to Bukhara. There Nabil fell ill and died on 6
July 1892.

'Abdu'l-Baha designated Nabil-i-Akbar a Hand of the Cause of God,
the Guardian of the Faith included him among the Apostles of
Baha'u'llah, and it was to him that the Lawh-i-Hikmat (Tablet of
Wisdom) was addressed. In the words of 'Abdu'l-Baha, '...because
he stood steadfast in this holy Faith, because he guided souls and
served this Cause and spread its fame, that star, Nabil, will shine
forever from the horizon of abiding light.'[1]
[1. The reader is referred to the inspiring description of
Nabil-i-Akbar's life and achievement in Memorials of the Faithful,
pp. 1-5] <p116>
The Nobleman of Tunukabun
Conqueror of India

One of the Bab's Letters of the Living was an Indian: Shaykh
Sa'id-i-Hindi. Almost nothing is known about him except that he was
a disciple of Siyyid Kazim-i-Rashti. His end is also shrouded in
total obscurity. It is certain that he left almost no imprint in
the annals of the Faith.

Then, at the time the Bab was incarcerated in Chihriq, an Indian
dervish arrived there. His identity was known to no one, and to
this day no one knows who that dervish was. The Bab named him
Qahru'llah (The Wrath of God). And all that Qahru'llah would say
about himself was this:

In the days when I occupied the exalted position of a navvab in
India, the Bab appeared to me in a vision. He gazed at me and won
my heart completely. I arose, and had started to follow Him, when
He looked at me intently and said: 'Divest yourself of your
gorgeous attire, depart from your native land, and hasten on foot
to meet Me in Adhirbayjan. In Chihriq you will attain your heart's
desire.' I followed His directions and have now reached my goal.
(Nabil-i-A'zam, The Dawn-Breakers, p. 305)

The Bab told Qahru'llah to go back to India, in the same garb and
by the same way he had come. Then, this strange dervish passed as
swiftly out of the arena of history as he had entered it. Who he
was and what happened to him remain mysterious.

The next man from India who comes into view in Babi-Baha'i history
is a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad, named Siyyid Basir, who
was devoid of sight but possessed of a keen mind and remarkable
spiritual susceptibilities. Nabil-i-A'zam maintains that it was
Shaykh Sa'id-i-Hindi who, in the town of Mooltan (Multan), met
Siyyid Basir and gave him the tidings of the Advent of the Bab. But
Mirza Husayn-i-Hamadani records this of him in his Tarikh-i-Jadid
(New History): <p117> the age of twenty-one, he set out with great pomp and state
(for he had much wealth in India) to perform the pilgrimage; and,
on reaching Persia, began to associate with every sect and party
(for he was well acquainted with the doctrines and tenets of all),
and to give away large sums of money in charity to the poor,
submitting himself the while to the most rigorous religious
discipline. And since his ancestors had foretold that in those days
a Perfect Man should appear in Persia, he was continually engaged
in making enquiries. He visited Mecca, and, after performing the
rites of the pilgrimage, proceeded to the holy shrines of Karbila
and Najaf, where he met the late Haji Siyyid Kazim, for whom he
conceived a sincere friendship. He then returned to India; but, on
reaching Bombay, he heard that one claiming to be the Bab had
appeared in Persia, whereupon he at once turned back thither.
(Quoted in Nabil-i-A'zam, The Dawn-Breakers, pp. 588-9n)

Let the inimitable Nabil relate the rest of the story of this
Indian scion of the Prophet Muhammad. 'Casting behind him the
trappings of leadership, and severing himself from his friends and
kinsmen, he arose with a fixed resolve to render his share of
service to the Cause he had embraced.' (Nabil-i-A'zam, The
Dawn-Breakers, p. 589)

Siyyid Basir first visited Shiraz, but to his great disappointment
found that the Bab was not there. So despondently he took the road
to Tihran and from Tihran he went to Nur. Nabil writes that in Nur
Siyyid Basir 'met Baha'u'llah'. He goes on to say:

This meeting relieved his heart from the burden of sorrow caused
by his failure to meet his Master. To those he subsequently met,
of whatever class or creed, he imparted the joys and blessings he
had so abundantly received from the hands of Baha'u'llah, and was
able to endow them with a measure of the power with which his
intercourse with Him had invested his innermost being.

I have heard Shaykh Shahid-i-Mazkan relate the following: 'I was
privileged to meet Siyyid Basir ... during his passage through
Qamsar... Day and night, I found him engaged in arguing with the
leading 'ulamas who had congregated in that village. With ability
and insight, he discussed with them the subtleties of their Faith,
expounded without fear or reservation the fundamental teachings of
the Cause, and absolutely confuted their arguments... Such were his
insight and his knowledge of the teachings and ordinances of Islam
that his adversaries conceived him to be a sorcerer, whose baneful
influence they feared would ere long rob them of their position.'

I have similarly heard Mulla Ibrahim, surnamed Mulla Bashi, who was
martyred in Sultanabad [present-day Arak], thus recount his
impression of Siyyid Basir: 'Towards the end of his life, Siyyid
Basir passed through Sultanabad, where I was able to meet him. He
was continually associated with the leading 'ulamas. No one could
surpass his knowledge of the Qur'an <p118>
and his mastery of the traditions ascribed to Muhammad. He
displayed an understanding which made him the terror of his
adversaries... He stood unrivalled alike in the fluency of his
argument and the facility with which he brought out the most
incontrovertible proofs in support of his theme.' (Nabil-i-A'zam,
The Dawn-Breakers, pp. 589-90)

Next, according to Nabil-i-A'zam, Siyyid Basir journeyed to
Luristan and visited Ildirim Mirza, a brother of Muhammad Shah, who
received him with honours due to him, as a nobleman from India and
a descendant of the Prophet. However, one day Siyyid Basir spoke
of Muhammad Shah in a way that aroused the ire of the prince. Nabil
writes: 'He was furious at the tone and vehemence of his remarks,
and ordered that his tongue be pulled out through the back of his
neck.' This savage treatment, which Siyyid Basir patiently endured,
led to his death. Nabil goes on to say:

The same week a letter, in which Ildirim Mirza had abused his
brother, Khanlar Mirza, was discovered by the latter, who
immediately obtained the consent of his sovereign [Nasiri'd-Din
Shah] to treat him in whatever way he pleased. Khanlar Mirza, who
entertained an implacable hatred for his brother, ordered that he
be stripped of his clothes and conducted, naked and in chains, to
Ardibil, where he was imprisoned and where eventually he died.
(Nabil-i-A'zam, The Dawn-Breakers, p. 590)

Nabil-i-A'zam had some time before, at the request of Mirza
Ahmad-i-Katib, taken a copy of the Dala'il-i-Sab'ih, one of the
well-known works of the Bab, to Ildirim Mirza. Apparently the Qajar
prince had been glad to receive it and had told Nabil that he was
devoted to the Bab. He had also written a letter to Mirza Ahmad and
given it to Nabil to deliver to that amanuensis of the Bab. When
Nabil returned from the prince's camp, he heard from Mirza Ahmad
at Kirmanshah that Baha'u'llah was in that town, on His way to
Karbila. Going into His presence in the company of Mirza Ahmad,
Nabil spoke of the mission he had fulfilled on behalf of his
companion and of Ildirim Mirza's response. Baha'u'llah had
observed: 'The faith which a member of the Qajar dynasty professes
cannot be depended upon. His declarations are insincere. Expecting
that the Babis will one day assassinate the sovereign, he harbours
in his heart the hope of being acclaimed by them the successor. The
love he professes for the Bab is actuated by that motive.'
(Nabil-i-A'zam, The Dawn-Breakers, p. 588)

And to bring to its end the story of that wonderful and courageous
nobleman from India, it ought to be noted that Siyyid Basir was one
of <p119>
the first to see the hollowness of the contentions of Subh-i-Azal.

Neither Shaykh Sa'id, nor Qahru'llah, nor Siyyid Basir left a
permanent trace of their work in the land of their birth. The man
whom Providence had destined to become the spiritual father of the
subcontinent and of Burma was a nobleman of the same province of
Iran which had been the home of the ancestors of Baha'u'llah. His
name was Sulayman Khan and he was a native of Tunukabun. But when
he set out in the world to serve the Cause of Baha'u'llah, he left
behind the garb of a nobleman and attired in the garment of a
humble man of the cloister travelled far and wide. 'Abdu'l-Baha
says that he 'was given the title of Jamali'd-Din'. He became known
as Jamal Effendi. <p120>
Jamal Effendi
Sulayman Khan was the son of 'Isa Khan-i-Tunukabuni. 'Isa Khan was
a man of substance and influence in his area of Mazindaran. But his
son decided to try his luck in Tihran. It was in the capital city
of Iran, the city in which Baha'u'llah was born, that Sulayman Khan
had his tryst with fate. There he met his destiny, which was not
to rise to high position in the temporal realm, but to scale
spiritual heights. He gave his allegiance to Baha'u'llah, donned
the garb of a dervish and took to the road. Forsaking his wealth,
his earthly attachments, his position and station in life, and
possessing an Ottoman passport, he roamed for a long time over the
Ottoman domains, making his way to the Holy Land. 'Abdu'l-Baha

Here for a time he rested, under the protection of the Ancient
Beauty; here he gained the honor of entering the presence of
Baha'u'llah, and listened to momentous teachings from His holy
lips. When he had breathed the scented air, when his eyes were
illumined and his ears attuned to the words of the Lord, he was
permitted to make a journey to India, and bidden to teach the true
seekers after truth.

Resting his heart on God, in love with the sweet savors of God, on
fire with the love of God, he left for India. There he wandered,
and whenever he came to a city he raised the call of the Great
Kingdom and delivered the good news that the Speaker of the Mount
had come. He became one of God's farmers, <p121>
scattering the holy seed of the Teachings. The sowing was fruitful.
Through him a considerable number found their way into the Ark of
Salvation... To this day, in India, the results of his auspicious
presence are clear to see, and those whom he taught are now, in
their turn, guiding others to the Faith. (Memorials of the
Faithful, pp. 135-6)

The Afnans in Bombay

In the course of the nineteenth century Bombay had developed into
a thriving commercial centre. The Afnans, relatives of the Bab, had
gradually built up what amounted to a trading empire, stretching
from Hong Kong to Baku. They had a branch in Bombay, where a number
of them resided. Mirza Ibrahim, a son of Haji Mirza Abu'l-Qasim,
one of the two brothers of the wife of the Bab, established a
printing-press and publishing house in Bombay. Haji Mirza
Abu'l-Qasim lived in Shiraz, but the other brother, Haji Mirza
Siyyid Hasan, known as Afnan-i-Kabir--the Great Afnan--lived in
Beirut, until he retired to 'Akka, where Edward Granville Browne
met him with obvious delight in the year 1890. A son of the Great
Afnan, Haji Siyyid Mirza, had a long sojourn in Bombay, later to
be replaced by one of his brothers named Haji Siyyid Muhammad.
Another of the Afnans, Aqa Mirza Aqa Nuri'd-Din, also resided in
Bombay for a while, but he soon moved to Port Sa'id. Haji Mirza
Mahmud, a grandson of Haji Mirza Siyyid Muhammad (the maternal
uncle of the Bab, in answer to whose questions Baha'u'llah revealed
the Kitab-i-Iqan--The Book of Certitude), also took part for a
while in the affairs of the Bombay branch.

It was in the printing-press and by the publishing house, named
Nasiri, which the Afnans owned in Bombay, that the Writings of
Baha'u'llah were printed for the first time. The eminent
calligraphist, Miskin-Qalam, went to Bombay for the purpose of
writing copies to be lithographed. And so too did Mirza
Muhammad-'Ali, the second son of Baha'u'llah who was also a
distinguished calligraphist, as well as Muhammad-Husayn Khartumi.

The Afnans in Bombay had a few other Persian Baha'is with them,
similarly engaged. With them also was Haji Mirza Muhammad-i-Afshar
of Yazd, a learned man who wrote the book entitled
Dala'ilu'l-'Irfan (Proofs of Knowledge), a polemical work setting
forth proofs gleaned from Scriptures and Traditions sustaining the
truth of the Baha'i Faith. That book was printed in Bombay, three
to <p122>
four years after the Ascension of Baha'u'llah. Despite this
gathering of a number of Persian Baha'is in Bombay, no effort had
been made to bring the Faith of Baha'u'llah to the notice of the
Indian people. The Afnans and others became acutely aware of the
fact that they needed a teacher and sent a petition to Baha'u'llah,
stating their case. They undertook to meet all the expenses. Thus
it was that Baha'u'llah directed Sulayman Khan, now generally
spoken of as Jamal Effendi, to India. And thus it was that the
nobleman of Tunukabun became the spiritual father of the

Jamal Effendi in India and Beyond

In the year 1878, Jamal Effendi, accompanied by Mirza Husayn, a
relative, reached Bombay. There he began his sojourn and travelling
in the subcontinent, which lasted for eleven years. Dressed as a
dervish he lived the simple, dedicated life of a true darvish. He
met people from all walks of life, fearing nothing, asking no
favour. He became known as Darvish Jamalu'd-Din, the Babi. He had
some of <p123>
the Writings of Baha'u'llah printed and widely circulated. Thus he
guided a considerable number, here and there in the subcontinent,
to embrace the Faith of Baha'u'llah. He visited Ceylon (Sri Lanka
of today), which was known to the Persians as the island of
Sarandib. In Colombo, Sulayman Khan met strong opposition from some
of the leaders of the Buddhists and suffered much hardship. Mirza
Husayn was taken ill in Ceylon and died there: the first Baha'i to
be buried in that delectable island, where, as legend had it, Adam,
the first man, came down upon the Earth. Jamal Effendi visited
Burma as well, but did not prolong his sojourn there.

After more than a decade of constant travelling and teaching, Jamal
Effendi asked two of the newly-converted Baha'is of the
subcontinent--one an engraver and the other a hatter--to accompany
him, and also he took with him a lad named Bashir whom he had
chosen for service in the household of Baha'u'llah. The four of
them sailed for Egypt, whence they went to the Holy Land. But soon
after reaching the presence of Baha'u'llah, Jamal Effendi was
directed by Him to return to India and continue the excellent
pioneering work he had begun. Thus we find him once again in the
subcontinent, in the year 1888, accompanied by Haji
Faraju'llah-i-Tafrishi, one of the 'Akka exiles. <p124>
Now, he spent a period of time in Burma and went beyond the
subcontinent east to Java, Siam (Thailand) and Singapore; and in
the north from Kashmir to Tibet, from Tibet to Yarqand and Khuqand
(in Chinese Turkistan), then to Badakhshan and Balkh (in

Amir 'Abdu'r-Rahman Khan of Afghanistan, ruthless and harsh,
refused to allow Jamal Effendi to visit Kabul. In reply to his
letter, written from Yarqand, in which he had mentioned wounds
afflicting his feet, the Amir threatened him that should he come
to Kabul, his hands would go the way of his feet. At Badakhshan and
Balu the semi-barbaric people of those regions acted so abominably
that he was forced to fall back on Ladakh (Laddakh) where there was
a British commissioner. Ahmadu'd-Din, employed as chief secretary
by the British official, had been converted to the Faith of
Baha'u'llah by Jamal Effendi himself. There, supported by
Abmadu'd-Din, he found a safe place to rest awhile and recuperate,
before going on to the eastern areas of Transoxania.

He was still travelling when the news reached him of the Ascension
of Baha'u'llah. 'Abdu'l-Baha instructed him to stay in the field,
which he did for another five years. Now, old age was creeping on
him. For almost twenty years he had been traversing, back and
forth, vast tracts of the Asian mainland, and visiting islands of
the Indian Ocean and the Pacific. He had suffered grave hardships
at the hands of opponents and adversaries, apart from the toils of
the road. Now, he took with him two of the outstanding Baha'is of
Rangoon, Haji Siyyid Mihdiy-i-Shirazi and Dr Khabiru'd-Din, and set
out once more for the Holy Land. His companions had been brought
into the orbit of the Baha'i Faith by himself. Shortly after his
arrival in 'Akka, 'Abdu'l-Baha chose Jamal Effendi to carry out a
delicate mission, which Baha'u'llah had desired to be undertaken
by one of His followers. And that was to deliver a message to Mirza
'Ali-Asghar Khan, the Aminu's-Sultan. The message which Baha'u'llah
had wished to be given to the Grand Vizier of Nasiri'd-Din Shah was

You took steps to help the prisoners; you freely rendered them a
befitting service; this service will not be forgotten. Rest assured
that it will bring you honor and call down a blessing upon all your
affairs. 0 Aminu's-Sultan! Every house that is raised up will one
day fall to ruin, except the house of God; that will grow more
massive and be better guarded day by day. Then serve the Court of
God with all your might, that you may discover the way to a home
in Heaven, and found an edifice that will endure forever. (Quoted
in 'Abdu'l-Baha, Memorials of the Faithful, p. 136) <p125>
'Abdu'l-Baha explains the nature of the service rendered by

In Adhirbayjan the Turkish clerics had brought down Aqa Siyyid
Asadu'llah, hunted him down in Ardabil and plotted to shed his
blood; but the Governor, by a ruse, managed to save him from being
physically beaten and then murdered: he sent the victim to Tabriz
in chains, and from there had him conducted to Tihran.
Aminu's-Sultan came to the prisoner's assistance and, in his own
office, provided Asadu'llah with a sanctuary. One day when the
Prime Minister was ill, Nasiri'd-Din Shah arrived to visit him. The
Minister then explained the situation, and lavished praise upon his
captive; so much so that the Shah, as he left, showed great
kindness to Asadu'llah, and spoke words of consolation. This, when
at an earlier time, the captive would have been strung up at once
to adorn some gallows-tree, and shot down with a gun.
('Abdu'l-Baha, Memorials of the Faithful, pp. 136-7)

The day Nasiri'd-Din Shah was assassinated, Aminu's-Sultan
displayed a high measure of sagacity and competence, and saved Iran
from potential disturbances. The next Shah, Muzaffari'd-Din,
confirmed Aminu's-Sultan in his post, but intrigues by the Shah's
favourites, and the conflicting policies of Russia and Britain,
forced him out. He was replaced by Mirza 'Ali Khan, the
Aminu'd-Dawlih, who was a friend and collaborator of Prince (or
Mirza) Malkam Khan. <p126>
Aminu's-Sultan was sent in disgrace to reside in Qum. And as
'Abdu'l-Baha further relates:

Thereupon this servant dispatched Sulayman Khan to Persia, carrying
a prayer and a missive written by me. The prayer besought God's aid
and bounty and succor for the fallen Minister, so that he might,
from that corner of oblivion, be recalled to favor. In the letter
we clearly stated: 'Prepare to return to Tihran. Soon will God's
help arrive; the light of grace will shine on you again; with full
authority again, you will find yourself free, and Prime Minister.
This is your reward for the efforts you exerted on behalf of a man
who was oppressed.' That letter and that prayer are today in the
possession of the family of Aminu's-Sultan.

From Tihran, Sulayman Khan journeyed to Qum, and according to his
instructions went to live in a cell in the shrine of the Immaculate
[Fatimih, the sister of the eighth Imam: Imam Rida]. ('Abdu'l-Baha,
Memorials of the Faithful, p. 137)

Sulaymhn Khan, then, met Aminu's-Sultan and delivered to him
'Abdu'l-Baha's letter. He received it with great respect and told
Sulayman Khan: 'I had given up hope. If this longing is fulfilled,
I will arise to serve; I will preserve and uphold the friends of
God... Praise be to God, I hope again; I feel that by His aid, my
dream will come true.' 'Abdu'l-Baha says that Aminu's-Sultan was
joyous and grateful.

The rest is well known to history. Aminu'd-Dawlih's premiership did
not last long. His fall was swift. And Muzaffari'd-Din Shah
summoned Aminu's-Sultan from Qum and installed him once again in
the office of Sadr-i-A'zam. In the words again of 'Abdu'l-Baha: 'He
assumed the position and functioned with full authority; and at
first he did indeed support the believers, but toward the end, in
the case of the Yazd martyrdoms, he was neglectful. He neither
helped nor protected the sufferers in any way, nor would he listen
to their repeated pleas... Accordingly he too was dismissed, a
ruined man; that flag which had flown so proudly was reversed...'
('Abdu'l-Baha, Memorials of the Faithful, p. 138) Aminu's-Sultan
had a third period of office in the first year of the
Constitutional period, but it was only for a brief space of time.
He was assassinated in August 1907, sharing the fate of his
monarch: Nasiri'd-Din Shah.

Many are the stories related about the twenty-year odyssey of Jamal
Effendi, Sulayman Khan, the nobleman of Tunukabun, who was destined
to be the spiritual conqueror of the Indian subcontinent and Burma.
His first companion, Mirza Husayn, laid down his bones in <p127> <p128>
the island of Sarandib (Sri Lanka) and the second, Haji
Farajullah-i-Tafrishi, passed away in Bombay, in April 1894.
Another eminent associate of Jamal Effendi was Siyyid Mustafa Rumi,
whom he converted in Madras and took with him to Burma. Siyyid
Mustafa stayed on to build the Burmese Baha'i community and on his
death in 1945 was named a Hand of the Cause of God by the Guardian
of the Baha'i Faith. He is buried in Burma.

As for Jamal Effendi himself, he passed away on 20 August 1898 in
'Akka. <p129>
Na'im of Sidih, a Poet Superb

Mirza Muhammad, who adopted Na'im (Blissful) as his sobriquet, was
a poet of the first rank. His poems mainly touch themes pertaining
to the Baha'i Faith. Yet their fame has reached circles well beyond
the Community of Baha'u'llah. Their lambent, persuasive quality
always enchants.

He was born in the village of Furushan, in the spring of 1856.
Furushan, one of the three villages that constituted a larger unit,
Sidih of Isfahan, had never known the burgeoning of such remarkable
talent as Na'im's within its confines.

Haji 'Abdu'l-Karim, his father, had no other son. That made him
particularly devoted to Mirza Muhammad, giving priority to his
education. But Muhammad had not gone very far with his studies when
his father decided that it was time for him to get married and
settle down to earn a living. Na'im (as we shall henceforth call
him) was then only sixteen years old. His father was a farmer and
that was the only occupation which was open to Na'im. So he put
aside his studies and became a worker on the land. However, he had
a cousin, named Haji Mulla Hasan, who was a prosperous merchant in
Isfahan. As Na'im was a sturdy, hard-working, trustworthy young
man, this cousin took him on to manage his substantial farming and
commercial interests in the district of Sidih and its environs. In
a poem which is autobiographical, Na'im describes how it was that
he had to abandon his studies and adopt a business career.
Compelled by his talent he sought the company of poets and
cultivated the friendship of two brothers, both poets of note whose
sobriquets were Nayyir and Sina. These three found that they had
much in common; they would spend hours reciting their poems, and
proposing and selecting new themes as subjects. And as
Muhsin-i-Na'imi, the Dabir-Mu'ayyid and husband of the daughter of
the poet, comments, these three founded a literary circle in that
lowly village.
Nayyir and Sina were, a good deal of the time, travelling about in
search of their livelihood. In October 1880, Sina was in Tabriz and
there he met a stranger. That very remarkable man, famed for his
humour and jest, whose name was Mirza 'Inayatu'llah 'Aliyabadi, is
today very little known, even in his native land and in the memory
of his co-religionists. But there was a time when his pranks and
wisecracks were often told and retold with glee.

Sina has thus related the story of his encounter with 'Aliyabadi:

We were seated in our chamber in the caravanserai of Tabriz, when
Mirza 'Inayat came riding in. He stopped in front of our chamber,
dismounted, and having exchanged greetings, entered and sat down.
Then he asked one of those present to go and fetch him a nargileh.
To another he gave the task of tending his horse. When he had
cleared the room of the two who lacked capacity and understanding,
he paused awhile to rest, and then addressed us: '0 descendants of
the Rasul! [Messenger, i.e. the Prophet Muhummad] I bring you
tidings of the rise of two great Luminaries in the world of
humanity. The first was the Orb of the Qa'im, rising in the year
1260. Then after nine years came the effulgence of "Husayn
Returned" and the world was illumined.'

Sina went on to recount how 'Aliyabadi proceeded to adduce proof
after proof in substantiating his theme. Later, he brought out of
his pocket the Tablet of Naqus (The Clarion Bell), chanted it with
great fervour, and followed it by reciting a verse from the Qur'an
(from the 36th surih: 'Ya Sin'). 'Afterwards he kissed the Tablet,'
Sina related, 'put it on his head, made a present of it to us and
departed.' All that narrative Na'im has put into a gripping and
translucent poem.

This entry, declaration and exit of Mirza 'Inayatu'llah 'Aliyabadi
caused consternation as well as disputation. There and then, Siyyid
Mirza, a companion of Sina, left to go to 'Akka and investigate the
truth of what they had heard.

Sina, telling Na'im of that strange experience in Tabriz, could not
add much more to it, and soon after he went on another journey,
this time to Rasht. Na'im's interest had been greatly aroused. He
craved to know more, and fate threw him into the company of an
Azali, Isma'il-i-Sabbagh (Dyer), who was also a native of Sidih.
This Isma'il in later years changed his name to Mirza Mustafa,
migrated to Tihran and became a scribe. He provided Edward
Granville Browne with many Babi and Azali manuscripts. Na'im met
others as well who were confirmed Baha'is. They met
surreptitiously; the books lent to Na'im <p131>
had to be taken away with great caution and kept well hidden. In
the dead of night Na'im would take out the books he had borrowed
and, at a time when all others were fast asleep, would concentrate
on reading and studying, and sometimes he copied them. Thus he
became well versed in his study of the Bayan. One day the dyer
spoke to him of Azal and his successorship to the Bab. Na'im had
learnt from the Bayan that there could be no successor to the Bab.
However, he took with him one of Azal's works: Jadhbiyyih
(Attraction). That night he had to wait impatiently for a long
while, sitting through dinner until everyone had retired. At last
all was quiet. Na'im gathered together his writing material,
brought out the book hidden in his pocket, and sat down to read it,
prepared to copy it by candlelight. But soon he was bitterly
disappointed. Azal's composition was a mockery of authorship. Na'im
had wasted his time, denied himself sleep and was deeply
disappointed. Soon he fell into meditation. Three points stood out
before him in prominent relief.

Firstly, he saw and admitted that the Bayan was divine script, come
from God. And the Bayan was only the prelude to an Advent greater
than the Advent of the Bab. This he came to believe truly without
a shadow of doubt.

Secondly, he saw that the Bab had divided the Bayan into nineteen <p132>
unities (wahids). But what He had revealed consisted only of nine
unities and ten chapters (Babs). This fact was indicative of the
nearness of the Advent of 'Him Whom God shall make manifest',
because God never leaves His Revelation incomplete. The
Manifestation promised by the Bayan, he realized, must come very
soon to complete the unfinished task.

The third point of truth which confronted Na'im was the fact that
the laws and ordinances prescribed in the Bayan were so onerous and
difficult to observe that a very rapid renewal of the Law was

In other words, Na'im came to believe in Baha'u'llah before he had
seen any of His Writings. He had already rejected Azal's
pretensions as he had recognized his words to be fatuous and
ignorant. That was how Na'im found his spiritual home in the
Community of Baha'u'llah.

By then the circle of poets in Sidih had three more members, namely
Mirza Manzar, Muhammad-Taqi and Siyyid Muhammad. Gradually people
became aware that a group of Baha'i poets was meeting regularly in
their midst. Tongues wagged and the rabble decided to make life
impossible for those six men, who had been brought together by
literary concerns. They became almost housebound, except that Sina
and Nayyir were most of the time on the road, and therefore spared
a good deal of the hatred. They also managed to obtain from Prince
Zillu's-Sultan a decree forbidding the people to molest them.
Na'im's father, in order to rescue his son from persecution,
advised Na'im to take himself away to the holy cities of 'Iraq. But
when he returned, after an absence of several months, he found that
the situation had not altered.

Na'im, by then, was so afire with his love for the Cause of
Baha'u'llah that he could not refrain from preaching and teaching
it, although he did not abandon all discretion. Haji Mulla Kazim,
a local divine, brought together a number of his leading colleagues
to investigate this Faith, including Haji Shaykh Muhammad-Taqi of
Isfahan, well known as Aqa Najafi, whom Baha'u'llah has stigmatized
as Ibn-i-Dhi'b (the Son of the Wolf). Naturally, Na'im came too,
and wisely and discreetly carried on a dialogue with the host and
the other notables present. This debate became very prolonged, and
it is said that Haji Mulla Kazim found himself so cornered by
Na'im's eloquent dissertation that thrice he retired to his private
chamber to change his shirt which was drenched with perspiration.
And he surrounded <p133>
himself with such an enormous pile of books (for reference in
search of proofs and arguments to buttress his contentions) that
in the end only his huge turban and the upper part of his face
could be seen. Meanwhile Na'im calmly and quietly used the same
material, which that divine was digging out of his books, to
substantiate his own case. The most crushing testimony to Na'im's
amazing knowledge and debating skill came from no less a person
than Aqa Najafi, never a friend of the Faith of Baha'u'llah, who
told the divines of Sidih: 'This young man today scored a triumph
over you and divested you of your honours as men of learning'. Haji
Mulla Kazim, himself, remained silent and later avowed his own
conversion, but alleged that he could not come into the open and
declare himself a Baha'i due to old age and the lack of any other
means of support.

After that gathering in the home of Haji Mulla Kazim, the fame of
Na'im, in the villages of Sidih, became more pronounced and more
widespread. And the malice of adversaries was correspondingly
intensified. Let us learn his story from his own words:

I embraced the Faith in the year 1298 (4 December 1880-22 November
1881). Previously I used to visit Mulla Isma'il [the Azali dyer of
Sidih] and <p134>
some people became suspicious. Sina had described to Mirza Ja'far
[a crony of the dyer] the experience he had had in Tabriz (see p.
130). Mirza Ja'far and I resolved not to visit Sina again. But I
knew that he kept visiting Sina. One night 'Ali Abu'l and myself
were at Sina's, and he related the story of the martyrdom of the
Bab. 'Ali said: 'Whoever rides a donkey, and thus comes to Isfahan,
cannot be the Qa'im. I said: 'The Prophet also rode a donkey'...
Then I became known in Sidih as a Babi, the butt of insults.
Gradually it became impossible to leave the house, because of the
abuse hurled by the people and their insolence. Mosques and
gatherings buzzed with talk, hearts brimmed with hate, they wished
to kill or eject us. Thus, we lived a whole year in utmost
deprivation and abasement and had to bear countless afflictions,
until the siyyids [the two brothers: Sina and Nayyir] returned from
their travels. Taqi Abu'l went to visit them. In the mosque,
Bahru'l-'Ulum asked him: 'Why do you go to the home of these
siyyids and cause mischief?' Taqi answered back rudely:
'Zillu's-Sultan has given them a letter, forbidding the people to
trouble them, and I am seeking an opponent like you.' At that,
Bahru'l-'Ulum, enraged, rushed up the minaret, screaming: 'The
Faith is m mortal peril! The Faith is in mortal peril.' His shouts
brought the people out, who seized Taqi and trounced him. They were
about to kill him when Haji Amin Khan-i-Yavar [the Major] threw
himself upon him and prevented his murder. The [two] divines of
Furushan--Mir Siyyid 'Ali, the Imam-i-Jum'ih, and
Bahru'l-'Ulum--complained to Shaykh Muhammad-Baqir, the Dhi'b [the
Wolf], who told Ruknu'l-Mulk, the deputy-governor, to put matters
right. He sent two farrashs to Sidih to take Taqi to Isfahan. When
the news came that farrashes were on their way, I was sent for
before their arrival and taken to the house of Bahru'l-'Ulum. Taqi
was there, bound up. I was told that Taqi had said: 'Na'im has made
me wayward.' I commented: 'He has said that under duress.' They
replied that they had found a letter in his pocket, written by
Mirza Asadu'llah-i-Isfahani, addressed to me. 'If the letter was
written to me,' I asked, 'what was it doing in his pocket?' We were
thus engaged in conversation when the farrashes arrived. They said
that this man [Na'im] and Taqi and some others ought to be sent to
the city [Isfahan]. A farrash tied up my arms and, together with
Taqi, I was marched off to my own house, which was some distance
away, and a number of spectators surrounded us. Next, they sought
out Nayyir, Sina and Siyyid Muhammad. They were also tied up and
brought to our house. My late father was detained too. He was
dragged by his beard to a butcher's shop where they purchased a
quantity of meat, and then brought to join us. In the meantime, a
man sent by Haji Mirza Asadu'llah, the Kad-khuda [the Magistrate]
came and ordered us to have ready a suitable tip for the farrashes,
and to start right away for the city. Bahru'l-'Uhim also sent his
man to have us moved. They had made everything ready for our
departure. About a hundred men, each holding a cane in his hand and
shouting, preceded our procession. They had tied the five of us
together in such a way that we were forced to walk, step by step,
in line.

That day was Friday when crowds of people were free to gather, and <p135>
spectators had swarmed in from all the neighbouring villages. We
were led on, in that strange way, bare-headed and barefooted.
Streets and roof-tops were so crowded with people that one could
not see where a street opened and where it ended. They took us
round the village, and in the midst of a spacious carrefour we were
ushered into the upper room of a building overlooking the square.
There they tied us to the door-frames, and the farrashes fell upon
us with their canes. We were beaten for two hours. Next, around
sunset, they took us, half alive, to the house of Aqa Muhammad-Taqi
where the farrashes kept beating us throughout the night. During
the fourteen hours of that night, only while the other four were
undergoing beating could one of us have a chance for some rest. As
morning came, with snow lying on the ground, they took us
barefooted to the gate of the mosque, to be beaten there too. Later
they pushed us into our house, took up their rifles and shot five
hens that were running about in the courtyard. While they were
roasting the birds they kept bastinadoing me, leaving the others
alone because they knew that no tips could be forthcoming from
them. In the afternoon, word came from Ruknu'l-Mulk that the guilty
men should be taken to Isfahan.

[Elsewhere, Na'im reverts to these same events:] During those days,
when the five of us were tied together, more than six thousand
spectators were around us, pelting us with stones, throwing ashes
and refuse over us from roof-tops, abusing and cursing us. Yet we
were laughing as we walked through that crowd. One of my companions
commented: 'God has tied our hands and brought us amongst these
people to complete His proofs.' A few <p136>
steps further, he said, 'We have become the evidence of "Believers
are together one personality"', and still further on, he said,
'This pomp and magnificence He has ordained for us' and again,
'this being cursed and spat upon--this affliction God sends only
to His loved ones' ... and we laughed all the way. Hours on end we
suffered from the lashes of the footmen until, chained, we were
thrown into a prison and sat there awaiting the descent of the

Na'im has related orally that when he was under those lashes his
sister, although not a believer, was so overcome by the piteous
sight which her brother presented that she pulled off her ear-ring
so forcefully as to tear open the ear itself, throwing it to the
farrashes in the hope that it would make them relent. His aged
father, holding his beard, was imploring that heartless crew to
show mercy to his only son, but with no effect. To compound their
villainy they took off the clothes of those five innocent men,
exposed them to the bitter cold of winter and painted their bodies
with different colours to amuse the gaping, swearing crowd. Of
course there were some here and there who took pity, who questioned
it all, but they were a small minority. The majority were purblind
and motivated only by animal instincts. Such is the mob. Such will
always be the mob. Na'im also spoke of his body being very swollen
because of the blows he had received and of his shirt being soaked
with blood and sticking to his body. Later, it was impossible to
pull off his shirt and scissors had to be used to cut it open. <p137>
With bare heads and bare feet, in the heart of winter, the five
Baha'is were marched off to Isfahan and gaoled. After a time
Zillu's-Sultan ordered the release of Nayyir. Then Ruknu'l-Mulk
sent for the other four to tell them that he had summoned their
opponents to come and sit with them, to resolve the issue. He meant
to set them free. When the others arrived, Ruknu'l-Mulk informed
them that the prisoners had said 'We are not Babis'. 'In that case,
they should curse the Bab,' they replied. 'How can they?'
Ruknu'l-Mulk retorted. 'They do not know Him.' The Law does not
permit a Muslim to curse someone not known to him, but the
adversaries were persistent. 'In their homes', they declared, 'the
writings of the Bab have been discovered.' Ruknu'l-Mulk called in
his attendant, gave him his keys and told him to fetch a certain
box, from which he extracted diverse books about a variety of
Faiths. Showing the books, Ruknu'l-Mulk told them: 'These books are
mine; the follower of which of these religions do you consider me
to be?' Thus silenced they went away, and Ruknu'l-Mulk had the
prisoners freed and instructed them to leave Isfahan that very

In Furushan, the cleric, Bahru'l-'Ulum, declared that Na'im being
an apostate, his wife should consider herself divorced from him.
That pitiless woman took possession of all that Na'im had, and
would not give him even a small sum of money to take him to Tihran.
Penniless, Na'im, Sina, Muhammad-Taqi and Mirza Manzar took the
road into the wilderness, their destination Tihran. They depended
on the charity and hospitality of Baha'is on the long road to the
capital. Day by day they trudged on, occasionally stopping to rest
wherever a Baha'i home offered them shelter. When, after weeks of
trekking, they reached 'Aliyabad (a stage between Qum and Tihran),
they had nothing left and they were hungry. There they came upon
a dervish who lent them one qiran. On that paltry sum, the four
travel-weary men subsisted until they reached Tihran. When, after
a long search in the capital, they found the whereabouts of that
dervish, to return the money he had lent them, they also gave him
the tidings of the Advent of Baha'u'llah, and he became a Baha'i.

But there is more to relate about that walk to Tihran. One day, on
the road to Qum, the travellers found themselves without water,
having drained their vessel. Seized by thirst with no source of
water in sight, and hardly able to walk on, they joyously noticed
a traveller (riding, of course) coming towards them. When he
reached them, <p138>
they implored his help. Could he point out to them any source of
water in that expanse of barren ground? He could and did. Na'im,
stronger than the rest, took their water vessel and set out in the
direction given by the stranger. He found the place, filled the
vessel and started back to his companions. But, although his thirst
had been allayed, his strength was sapped. As he drew near to his
companions, he found that he could not take one further step. And
they were begging him to hurry, as they too had collapsed and were
unable to move. In his own parlous state, Na'im finally managed by
almost crawling to get close to them.

With life at a low ebb the four men entered Tihran, and by
following directions given to them, they found the orchard in the
street, in a poor quarter of the city, where Baha'is had their
gatherings. It is still called the street of the Babis. That
orchard had to be their home for they had nowhere else to go. Shorn
of all material possessions, they had, first of all, to find means
of livelihood. Na'im chose the only occupation he was capable of
following: to do the work of a scribe and make copies of Tablets
for the Baha'is of Tihran. That brought him a little money. Later
he was paid fifteen qirans a month to teach Baha'i children. (In
those days there were no schools as we know them in Tihran.) It was
hardly a living wage. Na'im and his companions had to burn dead
branches of trees at night, both for warmth and light. They could
not afford candles.

When Na'im found a room of his own, it had no rug to cover the
floor. For fuel, he had to go out early in the morning and collect
the dung he could find in the streets. His small tin samovar was
heated with dung. It all took a long time before he could have a
sip of tea in the morning. When winter came again, it was only that
dung-fuelled tin samovar which could give him some heat. Yet living
out this life of penury never made him complain. And he served the
Cause of Baha'u'llah to the utmost of his ability. Whenever he
could afford to buy charcoal and a few pieces of white wood, he
would invite the Baha'is in his neighbourhood to come to tea on a
Friday, and join him in reading and reciting Tablets and verses.

Years and years later, when Na'im prospered, one day a Baha'i came
to his home and found him supervising masons and builders. Seeing
workmen busy at one side making mud bricks, and at the other end
of the compound a mason raising a wall, he reminded Na'im jestingly
of a couplet from one of his poems: 'The mud and brick of <p139> <p140>
this abode so fleeting, / We used to raise our home everlasting'.
'How can you square all this building activity with the sentiment
you expressed in those lines?' asked Siyyid Mustafay-i-Simnani.
Na'im's answer was: 'The construction of this house itself is
preparation for that "home everlasting", because here believers
will come together and remember their Lord.'

Na'im, an undoubted master of verse, of a poetic ability rarely
matched in his days, was a very unassuming man. The renowned Haji
Amin describes a meeting addressed by Mirza
'Ali-Akbar-i-Rafsanjani[1] which was attended by a knowledgeable
man newly introduced to the Faith. Na'im was also present,
listening attentively and not saying a word. The newcomer was
greatly impressed by all he heard, and was particularly delighted
by some lines of Na'im's poem which closed the talk. Eagerly he
asked the name and identity of the poet and, if he were living,
where he could be found. When hearing that the poet was there in
that very room, and Na'im was pointed out to him, that discerning
man was truly astonished that one who could write such poetry was
so modest!
[1. Mirza 'Ali-Akbar-i-Rafsanjani was an eminent teacher of the
Baha'i Faith. He and Tarazu'llah Samandari (in later years a Hand
of the Cause of God) travelled together a good deal. Rafsanjani
visited London at the bidding of 'Abdu'l-Baha in 1914.]

Na'im, despite all he had suffered and despite the grinding poverty
of his early years in Tihran, always presented a cheerful face, and
his humour never deserted him. One day in Tihran, one of the
minions of the Court ran into him in the street. The man was
haughty and insolent; using an insulting epithet, and a very common
mode of <p141>
threat, he said to Na'im: 'Do you want me to burn your father?'
Na'im smilingly replied: 'No sir, by God, oh no sir.' The
self-satisfied official was very pleased, and thought that he had
nonplussed Na'im.

There lived in Tihran a physician of note, Dr Sa'id
Khan-i-Kurdistani. He had, justly, a high reputation for honesty
and integrity, and was a good and competent physician, a man of
profound learning. However, he had abandoned Islam in favour of
Christianity, for which he was an ardent proselytizer. On one
occasion Na'im and Dr Sa'id Khan chanced to meet in a street of
Tihran. They were not total strangers. Na'im, very solemnly, asked
the doctor whether he thought it possible that Christ could have
come once again. Immediately and emphatically, Dr Sa'id Khan said:
'Never'. To which Na'im retorted: 'Then know for certain that
Christ said: "I come at a time when you know not". He did come a
while ago.' Dr Sa'id Khan, it is reported by Na'im himself, was
dumbfounded, but he said nothing except goodbye and departed.

Hard times were at last over for Na'im. Baha'u'llah had assured him
in a Tablet that, before long, far more than had been harshly taken
from him would be granted to him. He found employment teaching
Persian in the British Legation, and he prospered. But poverty and
wealth were alike to Na'im. His one goal, whatever his material
condition, his heart's desire at all times, was service to the
Faith of Baha'u'llah. Not only was his poetic talent put
brilliantly into the service of the Faith, but his eloquent tongue
made many a soul realize that the Day of God had indeed dawned.

Na'im married again in the same year that witnessed the Ascension
of Baha'u'llah. His wife, Ruqayyih Sultan, a native of Isfahan,
proved a true helpmate to her husband, always supporting him
loyally through thick and thin. They had one son and one daughter.
The son, 'Abdu'l-Husayn Na'imi, whose great service besides many
others was to publish the invaluable poetical work of his father,
lies buried in the New Southgate Cemetery, close to the grave of
the Guardian of the Faith. The daughter was married to
Muhsin-i-Na'imi, the Dabir-Mu'ayyid, biographer of his
father-in-law, and a devout teacher of the Baha'i Faith.

Indeed, Na'im the lucid poet, Na'im the eloquent teacher, Na'im the
servant of Baha'u'llah, has left a heritage of praise, fidelity and
selflessness whose fame will only brighten more and more as the
years roll by. And one day the whole world will bow to it. <p142>
An Eminent Grandson of Fath-'Ali Shah

Shaykhu'r-Ra'is had been the designation of the great Avicenna. It
was also the designation of Prince Abu'l-Hasan Mirza, a grandson
of Fath-'Ali Shah; his father Muhammad-Taqi Mirza, the
Hisamu's-Saltanih, was the seventh son of that uxorious monarch.

Prince Abu'l-Hasan Mirza was born in Tabriz in the year 1847. His
father, who had been the governor of Luristan, was one of the
several princes who had either rebelled and risen up to resist the
accession of Muhammad Shah to the throne or had shown overt
displeasure. Eleven of these princes were sent to Adharbayjan to
be detained in the citadel of Ardibil. Muhammad-Taqi Mirza was one
of them. Four of the princes, one of whom was 'Ali Shah, the
Zillu's-Sultan, dug a tunnel and escaped. They gained safety
outside Iran. Then it was that the other seven were moved to Tabriz
and kept there, but not in gaol. Throughout the rest of Muhammad
Shah's reign, Tabriz was the home of Muhammad-Taqi Mirza and his
family. Later, Nasiri'd-Din Shah restored his freedom. One report
has it that he died soon after, because his title Hisamu's-Saltanih
was given to Sultan-Murad Mirza, uncle of Nasiri'd-Din Shah and
conqueror of Hirat. But there are other instances of two men
receiving the same title; it is confidently related that
Muhammad-Taqi Mirza was still living well beyond the date when
Sultan-Murad Mirza came to be known as Hisamu's-Saltanih.

According to Prince Abu'l-Hasan Mirza's own evidence, his devotion
to the Babi-Baha'i Faith was a precious gift, in his childhood,
from his mother, which was later reinforced by the wise guidance
of the great Hujjatu'l-Islam, Haji Mirza Muhammad-Hasan, generally
known as Mirzay-i-Shirazi. (See chap. 19.) His mother was Khurshid
Bagum, daughter of Suhrab Khan, a Georgian and grandee of Caucasia,
who was taken prisoner when Agha Muhammad Khan, the eunuch king,
stormed the city of Tiflis <p143>
(Tbilisi). Abu'l-Hasan Mirza was a sickly child. Very early in
life, he lost the sight of one eye through smallpox but it was
miraculously restored before long. When a cholera epidemic reached
Tabriz, his parents, despairing of the child's life, left him with
a wet nurse and hurried to the safety of the countryside. But
Abu'l-Hasan Mirza was destined to live on and become distinguished
as the Baha'i grandson of Fath-'Ali Shah. Cholera did not touch

At the age of six, Prince Abu'l-Hasan Mirza was sent for tuition
by Mulla 'Abdu'l-'Ali, who had as pupils many of the scions of the
nobility of Tabriz. When he was eleven, it is stated, he
accompanied his father to Tihran, and there attended the classes
of Mulla 'Aliy-i-Nuri, a divine who taught in the Madrisiy-i-Mulla
Aqa Rida. Under him Abu'l-Hasan Mirza studied logic and syntax, and
made rapid progress in mastering the intricacies of Arabic,
arousing the jealousy of his brothers. Three years later we find
him again with his father in Mashhad, where Muhammad-Taqi Mirza was
taken ill and died. His last word to Abu'l-Hasan Mirza was to go
on with such studies as would entitle him to become a cleric.

After the death of his father, Prince Abu'l-Hasan Mirza returned
to <p144>
Tihran, where, against the wishes of both his mother and himself,
his brothers sent him to the military academy. Yet he managed to
attend daily the classes of Shaykh Ja'far-i-Turk, where again he
made rapid progress in his study of literary subjects. Two years
later he was able to leave the military academy and was freed from
that oppressive environment. Now, he and his mother moved to
Mashhad and made that holy city their home. This happened at the
time when Haji Mirza 'Ali-Akbar, the first Qavamu'l-Mulk of Shiraz
(son of Haji Ibrahim Khan, the king-maker) had been directed by
Nasiri'd-Din Shah to Mashhad and appointed custodian of the sacred
Shrine of the Eighth Imam. Haji Qavamu'l-Mulk was well disposed
towards Khurshid Bagum and her sons. He organized a great fete to
celebrate the entry of Prince Abu'l-Hasan Mirza, who must have been
about seventeen years of age, into the ranks of the clerics. His
cap was changed to a turban, the garb of a prince was shed, and he
put on the long robe of learned men. Even at that early age Prince
Abu'l-Hasan Mirza had shown poetic talent of a high order and the
mastery of a fluent pen. And at that fete, encouraged by Haji
Qavamu'l-Mulk, he adopted the sobriquet of Hayrat. Now he was
qualified to follow the advice of his late father, and became a
theological student.

His studies, to which he applied himself assiduously, were varied
and fundamental. With Mulla Muhammad-Taqiy-i-Mazniyani, an
accomplished teacher, he continued with literary subjects. He
followed courses in mathematics with Mirza Nasru'llah-i-Shirazi. <p145>
Philosophy and scholastic theology were pursued with Mulla
Ibrahim-i-Sabzivari, considered to be one of the most learned men
of his age. Three of the leading divines of Mashhad--Mulla
Muhammad-Riday-i-Sabzivari, the mujtahid, Mirza Nasru'llah, and
Haji Mulla 'Abdu'llah, the mujtahid of Kashan--gave him lessons and
directed his studies of jurisprudence and theology. As soon as
opportune, he was resolved to go to the holy cities of 'Iraq to sit
at the feet of the great divines there and obtain from them the
writ which would entitle him to Ijtihad.[1] He stayed six months
in Karbila and four months in Najaf, adding all the time to his
knowledge. Thus, at last, he reached at Samarra the circle of the
greatest Shi'ih divine of his age, Haji Mirza Muhammad-Hasan,
Mirzay-i-Shirazi, who was a second cousin of the glorious Bab. For
two years Prince Abu'l-Hasan Mirza attended eagerly upon him, until
at the end of that time Mirzay-i-Shirazi gave him the certificate
of Ijtihad. Even more, from that unmatched divine he received
further incentive to strengthen his faith in the Revelation of
Baha'u'llah. We cannot be certain that Prince Abu'l-Hasan Mirza
then knew that Mirzay-i-Shirazi was related to the Bab. One day he
asked the Mirza: 'What do these Baha'is say?' and was answered: 'Go
and investigate'.
[1. The power of the Shi'ih divine to issue ex cathedra decrees and

Having received his writ from Mirzay-i-Shirazi, Prince Abu'l-Hasan
Mirza went on pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina. From Hijaz he
returned to 'Iraq, and stayed another year in Samarra. Then he
turned homewards, a mujtahid given his authority to practise by no
less a person than the great Hujjatu'l-Islam, and a man of profound
learning, possessed of a remarkable poetic talent, a fiery and
eloquent speech, and an able pen. He had also the advantage of
royal descent, and enough of this world's riches to dress
resplendently. He had already been noted with great reverence by
Muhammad Ibn ar-Rashid, the Emir of Jabal, while a pilgrim to
Mecca, and had composed a poem in Arabic praising the emir.

Now, in Mashhad, Prince Abu'l-Hasan Mirza soon made his mark in the
pulpit. People flocked to hear him preach. The governors of
Khurasan held him in high respect and he had the support of
Mu'taminu's-Saltanih, the Vazir of Khurasan. All went well, until
Mirza 'Abdu'l-Vahhab Khan, the Asafu'd-Dawlih of Shiraz, was
appointed the Vali of the province. Gradually, relations between
Prince Abu'l-Hasan Mirza and the haughty grandee of Shiraz became <p146>
strained, until it became impossible for the prince to stay any
longer in Mashhad. He fled to Quchan, where he found a haven with
Husayn-Quli Khan, the Shuja'u'd-Dawlih, hereditary chief of Quchan,
who had also lately given his allegiance to Baha'u'llah, and his
protection saved Prince Abu'l-Hasan Mirza from the evil designs of
Asafu'd-Dawlih. Shuja'u'd-Dawlih was not only powerful; he was, as
well, a man of iron will and action, who would not suffer fools

His character is portrayed in an incident involving the celebrated
Haji Mirza Haydar-'Ali (the 'Angel of Mount Carmel') and two
companions, who were once set upon by a mob of some two thousand,
incited by a divine named Mulla Kazim whom Haji Mirza Haydar-'Ali
had worsted in debate in the presence of Shuja'u'd-Dawlih. Mirza
Haydar-'Ali suffered grave injuries. With his clothes tattered and
blood-stained, bare-headed, shoeless, bleeding from wounds, he just
managed to stagger into a village. The people there took pity on
him and made him comfortable. (Haji Mirza Haydar-'Ali writes that
Baha'u'llah had foretold what would befall him.) When
Shuja'u'd-Dawlih learned of this event in his own territory he flew
into a terrible rage and ordered condign punishment for all the
culprits amongst whom were theological students. He had their
school closed. Even Mulla Kazim, who was an influential man in his
own sphere, was not spared the lashing of his tongue. Haji Mirza
Haydar-'Ali was brought into Quchan, where, he writes, he was
besieged by some three to four hundred weeping women and children
begging him to intercede for their menfolk whom Shuja'u'd-Dawlih
had punished and detained.

Prince Abu'l-Hasan Mirza stayed for one year in Quchan. But a man
of his talents and accomplishment, if he was to reach the public,
required a much wider field than was afforded by a small township
in a corner of Khurasan. He first wrote to Mirza 'Ali-Asghar Khan,
the Aminu's Sultan and grand vizier of Nasiri'd-Din Shah, and put
his case before him. He also sent to Kamran Mirza, the
Nayibu's-Saltanih, son of Nasiri'd-Din, a couplet which has gained
fame, and took the road to 'Ishqabad. And this is that well-famed
couplet,[1] the last line of which is borrowed from a ghazal of
[1. The original poetic line is longer than a line in translation.

0 Nayibu's-Saltanih, tell the sovereign, good and true, to
That a man of Khurasn to him this letter wrote: <p147>
Asaf and the land of Khurasan be thine to boot,
We took the road to Love, mosque or temple is of little

Nasiri'd-Din Shah also used a couplet to reply, taking his last
line too from the same ghazal of Hafiz:

Nayibu's-Saltanih! Tell the Khurasani, a man of spite,
Thus did the Shahanshah to thee this letter indite,
Asaf, good or bad, thine own steps thou watch,
For no one will, in thy account, the sins of others write.

It should be noted that the name of 'Ishqabad, the city to which
Prince Abu'l-Hasan Mirza went from Quchan, means the 'City of
Love'. The Prince's arrival at that city, the home of a
considerable number of Baha'is, caused a sensation. However, he did
not stop there for long, and was soon on his way to Istanbul,
whence he embarked on a second pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina. On
his return, he stayed for two years in the Ottoman capital--the
metropolis which Baha'u'llah had designated as 'Madiniy-i-Kabirih'
(the Great City)--commanding the respect of high and low alike. His
profundity of knowledge, mastery of language and lucidity of both
tongue and pen, made him an outstanding, highly respected figure
in the leading circles of the Turkish capital. Even Mirza Aqa
Khan-i-Kirmani, who could not have been unaware of his allegiance
to the Cause of Baha'u'llah, could not but praise him.

The Persian ambassador, Shaykh Muhsin Khan, the Mu'inu'l-Mulk, whom
Baha'u'llah commends in the Epistle to the Son of the Wolf for his
sense of justice, encouraged the prince to return to Persia, saying
the authorities would make amends for the past. Abu'l-Hasan Mirza
was almost certain that these promises would remain unfulfilled.
Yet he went back. Aminu's-Sultan received him with due
consideration, presented him with a diamond ring, and wrote to
Ruknu'd-Dawlih, a brother of Nasiri'd-Din Shah, who was, by then,
the governor-general of Khurasan, to treat him with respect. It was
rumoured that the Sadr-i-A'zam had promised the prince the
custodianship of the sacred Shrine at Mashhad. This rumour made
Ruknu'd-Dawlih so jealous that he joined hands with the old enemies
of Abu'l-Hasan Mirza, and had him detained and banished to
Kalat-i-Nadiri. There Prince Abu'l-Hasan Mirza suffered hardships.
As soon as he was freed, he went back to Mashhad, collected his
family, and <p148>
once again took the road to 'Ishqabad in the spring of 1892. Then
he began a tour of the renowned cities of Transoxania, such as
Samarqand and Bukhara. From Transoxania he passed on to Caucasia,
and in that area, too, the Persian residents gathered round him
with expressions of reverence and goodwill.

Next, we find him again in Istanbul and once again embarking on a
pilgrimage to Hijaz, after which he returned to Istanbul and stayed
for nearly a year. He was received by Sultan 'Abdu'l-Hamid, which
aroused suspicion at the Persian Embassy that, because of his
shabby treatment at home, he might plot with 'Abdu'l-Hamid against
Iran. Finding it best to leave the Ottoman metropolis, he went to
take his leave from the Sultan, who presented him with a bejewelled
snuff-box. Now, at long last, Prince Abu'l-Hasan Mirza set his face
towards the Holy Land. He reached Beirut, Jerusalem, and then the
city of 'Akka.

Abu'l-Hasan Mirza was a confirmed Baha'i and, by his own admission,
while at Quchhan he had been honoured by a Tablet from Baha'u'llah
which had set him afire, evoking from his superb poetic talent one
of his finest odes. He arrived at 'Akka as a guest of the
Mutasarrif. The notables of the city, hearing that a distinguished
member of the Royal House of Iran was staying in the residence of
their governor, called on him to pay their respects. 'Abdu'l-Baha
also visited him in the house of the Mutasarrif. It was a brief
visit. Abu'l-Hasan Mirza, although a Baha'i, had not fully
comprehended the station of the Centre of the Covenant. He spoke
boldly in the presence of 'Abdu'l-Baha and continued smoking a
water-pipe. A few days later he returned 'Abdu'l-Baha's visit. A
number of Baha'is were present when he arrived and they witnessed
'Abdu'l'Baha walking with him slowly and speaking to him--words
which they did not hear. Then all of a sudden the whole mien of the
prince changed. He had been walking shoulder to shoulder with
'Abdu'l-Baha; now he drew back to follow Him. He became far more
attentive. When he left, it was seen that tears had reddened his

When Abu'l-Hasan Mirza (whom we shall henceforth call
Shaykhu'r-Ra'is) came to depart, 'Abdu'l-Baha told him to teach the
Faith, but with great circumspection. The Master knew that should
the prince become too well known as a Baha'i, both his enemies and
the adversaries of the Faith would be so infuriated that their show
of hostility and acts of hostility would be redoubled. In a Tablet <p149> <p150>
addressed to the Hand of the Cause Ibn-i-Abhar, 'Abdu'l-Baha laid
particular stress on this fact: the imperativeness of not allowing
the true allegiance of such eminent men to become common knowledge.
He did not even mention Shaykhu'r-Ra'is by name in that Tablet, and
referred to him as 'the illustrious man of Khurashan'.

We do not know how and when it was that Prince Abu'l-Hasan Mirza
received his designation of Shaykhu'r-Ra'is. But gradually, he came
to be called by that renowned title, and hardly ever Abu'l-Hasan
Mirza. From the Holy Land he went to India. Bombay was his first
port of call, which he reached early in 1894. In Poona, Sultan
Muhammad Shah, Aga Khan III (then seventeen years old) offered him
hospitality in his palace at Yevorda with signal honours. They were
related. The mother of the Aga Khan, Lady 'Ali Shah
(Shams'ul-Muluk) was a granddaughter of Fath-'Ali Shah. Even more,
the mother of 'Ali Shah, Aga Khan II, was Sarv-Jahan Khanum, the
twenty-third daughter of the same Qajar monarch, a paternal aunt
of Shaykhu'r-Ra'is. <p151>
Then Shaykhu'r-Ra'is made a tour of the subcontinent, and about a
year before the assassination of Nasiri'd-Din Shah, he returned to
Iran and resided for a long time in Shiraz. The fact that he was
a dedicated follower of Baha'u'llah had become well known. It is
related that at one time, when he came face to face with
Nasiri'd-Din Shah, that capricious monarch remarked that
Shaykhu'r-Ra'is had brought shame both to his status as mujtahid,
and to his position as a Qajar prince. In Shiraz, Shaykhu'r-Ra'is
continued to make use of the pulpit. His powers of speech and his
eloquence were such that, despite the overt displeasure of some of
the divines, people flocked to hear him. However, Haji Shaykh
Yahya, the illustrious Imam-Jum'ih of Shiraz, was very friendly.
Finally, opposition to him mounted high and he took the road to
Isfahan, where he met open hostility from Shaykh Muhammad-Taqi,
known as Aqa Najafi.

One reason apparently for the departure of Shaykhu'r-Ra'is from
Shiraz was the altercation between Muhammad-Rida Khan,
Qavamu'l-Mulk III, and Malik Mansur Mirza, the Shu'a'u's-Saltanih,
Governor-General of the province of Fars, who was a son of the
reigning monarch, Muzaffari'd-Din Shah. Shaykhu'r-Ra'is took the
side of the Prince-Governor. Added to the ill-will of powerful
divines, Shaykhu'r-Ra'is had also to contend with the opposition
of the <p152>
imperious and powerful Qavamu'l-Mulk. So he was forced to quit
Shiraz. Shu'a'u's-Saltanih was also forced to leave his post.
According to a remarkable book by Majdu'l-Islam of Kirman, which
bears the title Tarikh-i-Inhilal-i-Majlis--The History of the
Dissolution of the Majlis (Parliament)--both Zillu's-Sultan (Mas'ud
Mirza) and Aqa Najafi were displeased by Shaykhu'r-Ra'is's
intention to visit Isfahan. Zillu's-Sultan took himself away for
the time being; thus he evaded offering hospitality to the visitor.
Shaykhu'r-Ra'is cabled Mu'ayyidu's-Saltanih, the head of the
Telegraph Office in Isfahan, to rent a house for him.
Mu'ayyidu's-Saltanih was also a prince of the Qajars, as well as
a Baha'i. Observing the attitude of the Governor of Isfahan and Aqa
Najafi (whom Baha'u'llah referred to as the 'Son of the Wolf'),
Shaykhu'r-Ra'is decided to prolong his visit. Anything else would
have been an admission of defeat. Within the spacious house rented
for him, he made arrangements to make use of the pulpit. Here too
his eloquence attracted large crowds which further infuriated the
jealous Aqa Najafi. Prominent Baha'is of Isfahan, such <p153>
as Mirza 'Ali Khan-i-Sarraf (Money-changer) and Aqa
Muhammad-Javad-i-Sarraf, were to be seen oftentimes serving and
supporting Shaykhu'r-Ra'is. All these happenings were noted by Aqa
Najafi and his men, who were biding their time to strike, and
strike hard, at the Baha'is of the city of 'Abbas the Great. They
could not touch Shaykhu'r-Ra'is: for one thing, he was a very
distinguished member of the Royal House; for another, the public
was enchanted by him.

At last Shaykhu'r-Ra'is, having successfully defied both
Zillu's-Sultan and Aqa Najafi, left for Tihran. Soon after, Iran
was plunged into the revolution which led to the establishment of
constitutional government. Shaykhu'r-Ra'is chose to play a leading
and conspicuous part in that revolution. His intervention was
contrary to the clear advice given by 'Abdu'l-Baha that Baha'is
should keep out of that struggle, although it ought to be said that
Shaykhu'r-Ra'is had involved himself at an early date.
'Abdu'l-Baha, learning of the involvement of Shaykhu'r-Ra'is, wrote
that Baha'is should keep silent in regard to him. Then came the
coup d-e'tat of Muhammad-'Ali Shah in June 1908 and the bombardment
of Baharistan, the seat of the Majlis (Parliament), together with
the arrest of a sizeable number of the leaders of the
Constitutional Movement and the execution of <p154>
some of them. Shaykhu'r-Ra'is was amongst those detained and

Take away this chain from my neck, 0 Shah!
And make a chain of people to thee indebted, 0 Shah.

Thus did Shaykhu'r-Ra'is now petition the stubborn monarch who had
thrown his country into chaos and confusion, breaking his oath into
the bargain. Shaykhu'r-Ra'is was pardoned and set free. He admitted
that he had reaped the harvest of disobedience. 'I failed to obey
my Master', he said, 'and I had to pay the penalty.' Whatever
penalty he paid was through action by forces of despotism.
'Abdu'l-Baha never reproached him.

Now, Shaykhu'r-Ra'is gradually retired from public life. He once
again visited 'Ishqabad. In Mashhad, he had to meet the challenge
of the newly-formed Democratic party, led by Mirza Muhammad, known
as Aqa-Zadih, son of Mulla Muhammad-Kazim-i-Khurasani, the
celebrated pro-Constitutionalists divine who was resident in 'Iraq.
A famous ode composed by Shaykhu'r-Ra'is was printed, and thousands
of copies were widely distributed to prove to the public that the
veteran prince was a Baha'i. One day a number of theological
students stopped Shaykhu'r-Ra'is, as he was about to enter the
Shrine of Imam Rida, telling him that as he was a 'Babi', he could
not be allowed to enter the sacred precincts. Their action was
instigated by the Aqa-Zadih, supported by the
Governor--Nayyiru'd-Dawlih, himself a Qajar prince--who sided with
him. And Shaykhu'r-Ra'is had to take once more the road to

At last old age was telling on Shaykhu'r-Ra'is and he became a
recluse. He died in the year AH 1336 (17 October 1917-6 October
1918) and was buried in a room next to that which harbours the
grave of Nasiri'd-Din Shah, within the precincts of the Shrine of
Shah 'Abdu'l-'Azim. The Aqa-Zadih, in Mashhad, carried his vendetta
beyond the grave; he declared openly that should the remains of
Shaykhu'r-Ra'is be brought for interment in the holy city, he would
consign them to flames.

Prince Abu'l-Hasan Mirza, the Shaykhu'r-Ra'is, bore proudly a title
which had belonged to one of the greatest savants of all time. By
his indirect method and his most effective use of the pulpit he
guided many a soul to the truth of the Revelation of Baha'u'llah.
His poetic talent produced a long and wondrous ode on the Advent
of <p155>
Baha'u'llah, with its refrain, 'tamashshi kun, tamasha kun'--'walk
on and witness'. Here are two of its lines:

The One, by all beloved, stepped out of the Realm Unseen,
On His visage, indeed, the Light of Truth can be seen.
Captivated is the world by His beauty rare!
Walk on and witness.

Lo, by bounty and grace is the Earth replete,
Lo, the Effulgent Light of the Godhead
From a Human Temple shines!
Walk on and witness.

Similarly striking is the ghazal which Shaykhu'r-Ra'is composed in
praise of 'Abdu'l-Baha:

The King whose crown 'Him Whom God hath purposed'
doth proclaim withal,
After the Ancient Beauty is Sovereign unto all.[1]
[1. Baha'u'llah refers to 'Abdu'l-Baha in the Kitab-i-Aqdas as 'Him
Whom God hath purposed'.]

His poem in Arabic, commemorating the construction of the Shrine
of the Bab, remains unmatched. His rejection of Mirza
Muhammad-'Ali's pretensions is emphatically, powerfully and
eloquently worded.

To him 'Abdu'l-Baha addressed the following Tablet:

The Lamp of the Assemblage of the high-minded, the Prince of the
enlightened, Shaykhu'r-Ra'is: May he be a ray of God, and a
dazzling moon!

O kind Friend! What thy musk-laden pen hath inscribed bestowed joy
and brought delight. It was not a dew-drop, but an ocean; not a
lamp, but a beam of sunlight. Praise and glory be to God, Who hath
endowed Creation with such beatitude and conferred such
tranquillity upon the hearts, and by imparting heavenly knowledge
made the friends stars of the East, brilliant moons, so that they
would enkindle the Light of Understanding, and with the showers of
the rain of their utterance make human hearts the envy of meadows
and rose-gardens. O kind Friend! The All-Bountiful God guided thee
and led thee to traverse mountains and deserts to reach the City
of thine ancestors. That Land stood in great need of one mighty
soul like that loving friend to enter therein, engage in
discussion, show the Way of God, embellish the assemblage of men
with mysteries unveiled, and watch over their spiritual lives so
that they might abide under the shade of the tree of hope. Thou
shouldst speak forth, wax eloquent, divulge the hidden secrets,
share the Word of God, inaugurate a school of the Kingdom and give
instruction in heavenly Books, ignite a shining lamp and burn down
the veils of the imaginings of the ignorant. May thy soul be joined
to the Beloved. (Unpublished) <p156>
A Stalwart Teacher of the Faith

As far as the records of history show, Mirza Mahmud-i-Furughi is
the only Iranian Baha'i teacher who was given the chance to meet
face to face a Shah of the Qajars, for the purpose of making him
comprehend the nature and the aim of the Baha'i Faith, and to set
his mind at rest by assuring him that Baha'is are not anarchists,
that they do not wish to jeopardize the tranquillity of the realm
and foment rebellion and contention. That monarch was
Muzaffari'd-Din Shah, the ruler whose edict terminated autocracy
in Iran.

The meeting of Mirza Mahmud with Muzaffari'd-Din Shah lasted <p157>
more than two hours and the details of that historic encounter are
given by Mirza Mahmud in a short autobiography which he, at last,
consented to write. It is a very precious document. Later, we shall
note the circumstances in which he wrote it, after having resisted
for long the demand for a comprehensive autobiography.

'Abdu'l-Baha, commenting on the meeting between Muzaffari'd-Din
Shah and Mirza Mahmud, wrote: 'Consider how a servant of the Abha
Beauty, all alone, outwardly bereft of all aid and assistance,
converseth in the way he did with such a person, proveth equal to
the task, and causeth wonder.' (Quoted in Sulaymani, vol. 3, p.

Mirza Mahmud came from a remote village in Khurasan named Dughabad,
which was situated in the environs of Turbat-i-Haydariyyih.
Baha'u'llah honoured that village with the designation of Furugh
(Splendour, Light). That is why Mirza Mahmud is known as Furughi.
Fadil-i-Furughi--the Savant of Furugh--is also an appellation by
which he is remembered.

Mirza Mahmud had as his father a distinguished survivor of Shaykh
Tabarsi: Mulla Mirza Muhammad, who, prior to his conversion to the
Faith of the Bab, was a highly-respected and influential Shi'ih
divine. Mulla Mirza Muhammad's grandfather was a man of Isfahan,
but it was in Khurasan that his grandson, the great cleric who was
destined to become a devoted follower of the Bab, had his fulcrum
of power. Whenever people had a grievance or had actually been
wronged by a government official, they appealed to Mulla Mirza
Muhammad. He always thoroughly investigated any case brought before
him, and if his findings showed that an official had been guilty
of a misdeed he would personally take action to redress the wrong.
No matter how highly placed the malefactor was, he could not escape
the sentence decreed by the cleric of Dughabad, who would even send
a deputy-governor to gaol.

Then came the Call of the Bab. There were genuine seekers in the
area of Turbat-i-Haydariyyih, but there were also quite a number
seeking only their own gain and concerned only with lining their
pockets. These hypocrites simulated great interest and told Mulla
Mirza Muhammad that they wished him, in whom they placed their
trust, to investigate the claim of the Bab for them. That was the
way to get rid of the 'meddlesome' cleric, they thought. And so
they provided him with a horse and offered him the expenses of his
journey. A few men volunteered to accompany him. Mulla Mirza
Muhammad set out <p158>
on his quest and hearing that Mulla Husayn had gone towards
Mazindaran, he took the same direction. Of those who had
accompanied him, some, finding it toilsome to cover vast distances,
and also being unsure of their motives, turned back. But five brave
and sincere men stayed with him and went with him into the fortress
of Shaykh Tabarsi. Their names ought not to be forgotten. They were
Shaykh 'Ali of the village of Faydabad, Mulla Muhammad of Mahnih,
Aqa Ahmad and Mirza Hasan Khan of 'Abdu'llahabad, and Mulla
'Abdu'llah of Dughabad. Meeting Quddus and Mulla Husayn left them
in no doubt that the Call of the Bab was not of human invention,
that it was indeed divine.

Thus the renowned and just cleric of Dughabad became one of the
heroic defenders of Shaykh Tabarsi. As he had no desire for
martyrdom, Quddus assured him that he would leave Shaykh Tabarsi
with his life spared. Now we see a man who had never had to wield
a sword or a dagger, who would have been mightily astonished, a
year before, if someone had put a sword in his hand and totally at
a loss as to how to use the unfamiliar weapon, one who knew only
the law, its intricacies and its applications, for whom
fortifications and battlements and trenches were phantasmagoria
removed from the world of reality, going out of Shaykh Tabarsi,
sword in hand, to drive away the relentless enemy. He was wounded
five times by bullets or sword; but as promised by Quddus he came
through. Triumphantly he returned to Dughabad to inform those
ringleaders, who had sent him to Mazindaran in search of truth,
that he had indeed found it. A few accepted his testimony and
embraced the Faith of the Bab. But the hard of heart, desirous only
of material gain, with little concern for justice and truth,
leagued together to rid themselves, once for all, of this
troublesome cleric who had dared much and come home with laurels
of faith and certitude. Mulla Mirza Muhammad was ordered by the
authorities to go to Tihran. He obeyed, but once again returned to
Dughabad. Further incensed, his adversaries planned afresh to have
him cast out of Dughabad.

Their intrigues bore fruit. Mulla Mirza Muhammad was arrested and
put in chains. Mirza Ahmad-i-Azghandi and twenty-two others from
Azghand were also chained and taken to Mashhad in the company of
the undaunted survivor of Shaykh Tabarsi. Their internment in the
citadel of Mashhad lasted a long while, but when release came Mulla
Mirza Muhammad, now a devoted follower of <p159>
Baha'u'llah, went back for the third time to his village. He was
old and frail and infirm, but he had testified to truth to his last
breath, and he had a son of the stature of Mirza Mahmud to don his
mantle. 'Azizu'llah Sulaymani, the biographer of many of the
prominent teachers of the Faith, recalls the person and the
personality of Furughi, a memory of the days of his childhood in

Of middle height, he was a dignified figure possessed of an
attractive and handsome face, a thick beard which was dyed and a
commanding voice. Dressed in the garb of the divines, his speech
and his demeanour reflected his inner strength. One particular
distinction of this man was the fact that he never, never engaged
in backbiting, and no one in his presence ever committed
backbiting, so much was he held in high respect. And if anyone
wanted to break the code, he was denied the chance to proceed, for
in whatever meeting Furughi was present, from start to finish, he
kept people entranced by the recital of scriptures, the narration
of the services and sufferings of early believers, and by relating
something of his own life. (Sulaymani, Masabih-i-Hidayat, vol. 3,
pp. 420-21)

Such a man was the son of Mulla Mirza Muhammad.

A Baha'i of 'Ishqabad has recalled a particular occasion, a Friday <p160>
evening, when believers had gathered in that part of the
Mahriqu'l-Adhkar specified for meetings and a booklet had reached
them from the Baha'is of the United States, conveying the news of
fresh victories. One of the young men asked Mirza Mahmud whether
he might read from that booklet for all to hear. As the young man
began reading, it was 'Allahu-Abha' that came first. Immediately
Furughi stopped him and, turning to the audience, said: 'Your
brethren in America have greeted you. Let us make our response.'
They all stood up, as Furughi had done, and their voices rang out:
'Allahu-Abha'. They could be heard several streets away. Thus did
the Baha'is of 'Ishqabad reciprocate, at Furughi's bidding, the
greetings sent them by American Baha'is.

Furughi always paid particular attention to the welfare of the
youth: not only their upbringing in the spirit of the Faith, but
also their civilized behaviour. But he was never impatient, never
autocratic. Kind and considerate, he led the youth gently to better
manners, better understanding, better conduct. And he was
exceedingly modest. Time and again he had been asked to write his
autobiography. He would have had a rich tale to tell. What he
considered important, however, was not the record of his own
person, but the record of the victories of the Faith. It was only
when he was assured that the Greatest Holy Leaf, with the approval
of the Guardian of the Faith, was eager that he should write the
story of his life, and he was given a note-book in Haifa to fill,
that he took up his pen and wrote, regrettably not at length, but
long enough to make the reader see the mettle and the true
greatness of this dedicated Baha'i. When, in his early youth, he
went with a fellow-believer on his first teaching trip, visiting
a number of localities in his native province of Khurasan, he
presented an account of his journey to Baha'u'llah. In response a
Tablet was revealed in his honour:

Verily, We were with thee when thou didst journey away from home,
and didst travel in the land to propagate the Cause of thy Lord,
the Ruler of this world and the Kingdom. We heard thy call giving
the Most Great Announcement, and thy words regarding this wronged
Exile. (Quoted in Sulaymani, Masabih-i-Hidayat, vol. 3, p. 431)

Before long Furughi's zeal and eloquence roused the fury of the
divines of Dughabad. Their clamour caused the Governor of the
district, who was a grandson of Fath-'Ali Shah, to send Furughi to
Mashhad. From his prison-cell there, he managed secretly to send
out <p161>
a petition to Nasiri'd-Din Shah. His appeal was so worded that it
touched the heart of that cruel monarch who issued orders for the
release of Furughi. As it became known that Furughi would be set
free, the clerics of Mashhad began agitating. The Governor-General
of Khurasan yielded to their demands and banished Furughi to Kalat,
a corner of Khurasan which has seen scores of exiles. Such were the
qualities of Furughi that the Governor of Kalat fell under his
spell. And one day that benevolent man gave him the shattering news
of the Ascension of Baha'u'llah. Furughi was so grief-stricken that
it seemed his senses would part from him. He began a three-day
fast, breaking it each sunset with only a drink of water, and
prayed throughout the night. On the fourth night, Baha'u'llah
appeared in his dreams. The consolation which that dream imparted
to Furughi gave him new life.

Now, the Governor of Kalat asked him to occupy the pulpit every
day, recite the sufferings of the House of Muhammad, and give the
people good advice in the ways of faith. Furughi did as he was
bidden. The power of his speech, once again, caused the clerics to
league themselves in opposition to him. They took their case to the
Governor-General of Khurasan, alleging that Mirza Mahmud had robbed
half of the inhabitants of Kalat of their true faith, had led them
astray. The Governor-General, a weak man, was frightened, and
ordered the good Governor of Kalat to send Furughi away to
Bajgiran, which was a frontier post. The Governor was naturally
very annoyed, but Furughi remained calm and composed and left the
safety of Kalat with confidence. Bajgiran was close to 'Ishqabad,
and the Baha'is of that renowned city came and took Furughi away.
He was a free man at last. That was his first journey outside his

After a short sojourn in 'Ishqabad, Furughi went on to the Holy
Land: his first pilgrimage. 'Abdu'l-Baha took him to Bahji, to the
Shrine of Baha'u'llah. Furughi, after many a month of tests and
hardship, had found his paradise on earth. A few yards away from
the Shrine stands the stately Mansion where Baha'u'llah lived and
where He ascended to His Kingdom. And at this point of time, when
Furughi experienced the supreme thrill of lowering his brow on the
threshold of the Shrine, in the presence of the beloved Master,
there lived in the Mansion that infamous band of men and women who
had the temerity to violate the Covenant of Baha'u'llah.[1] They
had been conspiring for long to undermine the position of
'Abdu'l-Baha. He, <p162> <p163>
the forgiving Master, had tried to protect them from the
consequences of their devilish designs. The more assiduously He
endeavoured to save them and protect them, the more blatant became
their impertinence; until a time came when 'Abdu'l-Baha, compelled
by the demands of the trust reposed in Him, had to take measures
to cleanse the Community of the Most Great Name of the poison which
the violators of the Covenant were instilling into it. During this
first pilgrimage of Furughi still only a few of the Baha'is had
come to know of the treachery of Mirza Muhammad-'Ali, the
arch-breaker of the Covenant of Baha'u'llah. Furughi, amazingly
perspicacious, was one of them. The warning imparted by a tradition
of Islam had found its verification in the spiritual
susceptibilities of this very gifted man of Khurasan: 'Beware of
the perspicacity of the believer, because he observes with the
light of God.'
[1. See Balyuzi, 'Abdu'l-Baha, chap. 5.]

One day, a son of Mirza Muhammad-'Ali came in with a dish of
tangerines and laid it before Furughi. 'Sarkar-i-Aqa' (His
Excellency the Master), he said, 'asks you to distribute this dish
of fruit amongst the friends.' 'And who is Sarkar-i-Aqa?' Furughi
asked. 'Why, of course,' replied the son of Mirza Muhammad-'Ali,
'it is Aqay-i-Ghusnu'llahi'l-Akbar' (the Greater Branch, Mirza
Muhammad-'Ali). Furughi shook his head. 'No!' he exclaimed. 'The
only Sarkar-i-Aqa is Hadrat-i-Ghusnu'llahi'l-A'zam' (the Most Great

Many years before, Mirza Diya'u'llah, a full brother of Mirza
Muhammad-'Ali, had presented a request to Baha'u'llah on behalf of
'Aqa'. He was asked, 'Who is Aqa?' Mirza Diya'u'llah replied,
'Aqay-i-Ghusn-i-Akbar'. And Baha'u'llah very sternly reminded him
that there is only one 'Aqa' (one Master); others have names--but
He who is totally 'Aqa' is 'Ghusn-i-A'zam' ('Abdu'l-Baha).

Furughi did not stop at telling the son of Mirza Muhammad-'Ali that
there was only one 'Master'. He made it clear that anyone who broke
the Covenant of Baha'u'llah and waxed proud before the Most Great
Branch would forfeit any title or station he had. A branch which
is dried only serves as fuel: no more, no less. And then he
instructed the son of Mirza Muhammad-'Ali to take the dish of fruit
away. But, it is related, because the Covenant-breakers had not,
as yet, come into the open, Furughi was apprehensive. Had he
overstepped the mark and talked out of turn? It was not his, he
pondered, to make public the defection of the members of the family
of Baha'u'llah. But when he was once again in the presence of
'Abdu'l-Baha, the smile of the <p164>
beloved Master reassured him that all was well. On a table he saw
a dish piled up with tangerines. 'Abdu'l-Baha picked up one, peeled
it Himself and offered it to Furghi. He knew then that indeed he
had acted rightly, that the beloved Master had approved what he had

Next, we find Furughi in Cairo, where the matchless Mirza
Abu'l-Fadl was, at that time, resident. At a large gathering of the
Baha'is, Furughi took up the theme of- the Covenant and the
necessity of <p165>
obedience, unreserved and unqualified, to Him Who was the Centre,
the Pivot of the Covenant: the Most Great Branch. Once again
Furughi was very outspoken. Mirza Abu'l-Fadl intervened to ask
Furughi to exercise a measure of restraint. Furughi retorted at
once that in the field of oratory he had not become so unsaddled
as to have to call out, 'O Abu'l-Fadl! Rescue me.[1] Besides,' he
continued, 'do you not know that the Master, in a Tablet with which
He has honoured me, has said: "be a leader of this legion"?' As
soon as Mirza Abu'l-Fadl heard this reference to the Tablet of
'Abdu'l-Baha, he stood up, went close to Furughi and said, 'I am
the very first person to kiss the knee of this commander!' Furughi,
too, was immediately on his feet. Those two men, both truly great,
embraced each other and kissed each other's cheeks. The union of
the fidelity and constancy of these spiritual giants galvanized the
faith of all who witnessed it. The shafts of hate and malice flung
by the faithless could never pierce the armour thus forged.
[1. Abu'l-Fadl was the patronymic of 'Abbas, a brother of Husayn,
the third Imam, who suffered martyrdom with him at Karbila. He is
always invoked by the Shi'ites for help.]

The Egyptian journey over, Furughi set out for home. His arrival
at Tihran caused a great stir. Baha'is gathered in their hundreds
to hear him speak of the beloved Master, of His all-encompassing
love, of the treachery of the Covenant-breakers, of the triumphs
of the Covenant. The news of these gatherings reached the ears of
Nayibu's-Saltanih (Kamran Mirza, governor of Tihran). And he was
alarmed. Are the Babis hatching a plot to seize power, was his
immediate reaction, fantastic as it sounds! He set spies to find
out who the newcomer was, and how many these 'Babis' were. At one
gathering, his minions counted nine hundred pairs of shoes shed
outside the room. Then Nayibu's-Saltanih ordered the detention of
Mirza Mahmud. Officials went in search of him, discovered his
house, and not finding him at home laid hold of his servant, a
Baha'i named Siyyid 'Ali, who readily confessed his faith and
marshalled arguments to prove the truth of his beliefs.
Nayibu's-Saltanih listened to Siyyid 'Ali and then told him to go
home and inform his master that Nayibu's-Saltanih desired to meet

As soon as Furughi received that message, he wrote a letter to the
prince, intimating that he would keep a tryst the next day. He had
no fear, although his fellow-believers thought that he would be
walking into the lion's mouth. However, Furughi could not be
persuaded to <p166>
change his mind. Moreover, he had made a solemn promise which he
could not, would not revoke. A man notorious for his wild ways had
only recently embraced the Faith of Baha'u'llah, bidding farewell
to his indulgences. His name was Abu'l-Qasim, his nickname Khammar
(Vintner). Furughi asked Khammar whether he would be prepared to
hold the reins and lead his horse to the gates of the palace.
Khammar was delighted and felt proud to serve Furughi in that
manner. But arriving at the prince's residence, Furughi was
informed that Nayibu's-Saltanih was too busy to receive him that
day; would he come on the morrow? The following day, once again,
Nayibu's-Saltanih was said to be much occupied.

It was on the third day that Furughi was admitted to see the
prince. Nayibu's-Saltanih expressed astonishment at Furughi's
fearlessness. He had had full opportunity to take himself to a
place of safety; instead he had kept his tryst. In a corner, away
from others, a rug was spread for the two of them to sit and talk.
Some lettuce and a bowl of syrup was brought to them for
refreshment. A knife was there too for cutting the lettuce. At that
moment the Prince referred to Baha'u'llah as Mirza Husayn-'Ali.
Furughi was greatly angered. Upbraiding the Prince for his display
of irreverence, he asked for the knife. 'What do you want it for?'
Nayibu's-Saltinih remarked. 'To cut my throat, that you may drink
my blood' was Furughi's answer. 'It seems that your thirst has not
been slaked; perchance, drinking my blood may give you
satisfaction.' Seeing Furghi thus enraged, Nayibu's-Saltanih made
an attempt to pacify him and asked, 'Tell me, what is your view of
Him?' Furughi replied: 'He [Baha'u'llah] lives on two planes; one
is the human plane which is common to all; that is the plane
alluded to in the Qur'an: "I am a human being like you, to whom
Revelation comes."[1] Then there is the Divine plane, the plane of
Lordship, which lies beyond human understanding. The Prophet
[Muhammad] has thus spoken of it: "For me, in relation to God,
there are various stages: once He is I and I am He."'[2]
[1. 18:110.]
[2. Paraphrase of an Islamic tradition on the authority of the
Prophet, quoted in Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah,

Next Nayibu's-Saltanih put this question to Furughi, 'I am told
that you are convening many meetings; do you intend to cause
mischief?' Furughi knew that Nayibu's-Saltanih would ask him
something on those lines and was prepared. 'Your Royal Highness,'
he said, 'our <p167>
books are in your possession; you can easily verify what they
teach. Moreover, our community is composed of all sorts of people.
Within every community you find both good men and bad men. We hold
our meetings to warn the wayward, to still uncontrolled passions,
to help the people distinguish clearly that which is right from
that which is wrong. These are our reasons for holding meetings,
for bringing men together, and not to foment discontent and
disorder. Holding these meetings is also to your advantage. In the
early years of this Faith, some of its followers, because of their
ignorance of the true purport of the teachings of the Bab, made an
attempt on the life of the sovereign which led to great upheavals
and suffering. That event was never repeated, because at our
meetings we help the people to be on their guard and not to slip
into negligence and waywardness.' Nayibu's-Saltanih was greatly
pleased to hear all this and replied to Furughi: 'Now I am assured.
I am satisfied and know that Baha'is mean no harm. Go, and hold
your meetings. No one will try to stop you.'

As Furuyhi came out of the orchard, he noticed Abu'l-Qasim, the
vintner, disengaging himself from the shelter of a tree. Very
astonished, he asked Abu'l-Qasim what he was doing there in the
prince's orchard. Khammar replied that, knowing the precarious
situation in which Furughi had been placed, he had stealthily come
into the orchard with a revolver, intending to use it were the
prince found to have devilish designs. He definitely meant to shoot
the prince. Now, he asked, in such a case would he have been
forgiven, or would he only have added one more transgression to all
the rest? Furughi told him that it was a question not at all easy
to answer, but at the earliest opportunity he would present it to

Time passed. One day, Aqa Jamal-i-Burujirdi, still ensconced within
the ramparts of the Faith, made a remark which was obviously
impertinent. He faulted 'Abdu'l-Baha regarding an opinion which He
had expressed. It so incensed Furughi that he immediately jumped
up and pulled the cushion on which Aqa Jamal was sitting away from
him, saying, 'You have waxed so insolent as to match the
perspicuous text with your puny understanding.'

Before long Furughi returned to 'Ishqabad. In that city, now
teeming with Baha'is, a young man had been guilty of an offence,
and the believers asked Furughi to teach him a lesson. So when this
young man approached Furughi he slapped him hard in the face. The
offender realized immediately what that slapping was meant to <p168>
convey. 'I am sincerely sorry' he said, 'and I regret what I have
done.' The next day he brought a bag of silver and gave it to
Furughi, to give a Feast on his behalf when in the Holy Land.

When Furughi found himself in the presence of 'Abdu'l-Baha, he was
moved to offer his life as a ransom, so grievous were the Master's
sufferings at the hands of the Covenant-breakers. 'You wish to be
relieved of this world and repair at the earliest to the presence
of Baha'u'llah,' observed 'Abdu'l-Baha. 'But, no, you must live.
And the Covenant-breakers will soon receive their desserts.'

One day 'Abdu'l-Baha pointed out to him a ship which was about to
depart and worked out his itinerary for him. Then Furughi,
remembering all that he had missed or forgotten, the questions that
he had not asked, felt at a loss, wondering what he could do. As
he was pondering the matter, 'Abdu'l-Baha got up to walk away and
told Furughi to follow Him. When He had gone a little way ahead,
He turned to Furughi and said, 'There is little time left. Tell me,
what did you say to Abu'l-Qasim-i-Khammar, outside the Amiriyyih
garden?' Furughi was taken aback and tried to explain it
implicitly, but 'Abdu'l-Baha said, 'Tell me in your own words'.
Furughi replied, 'I made it all dependent on the bounty of the
Master.' Then 'Abdu'l-Baha replied: 'Do you not know your Qur'an?
Is it not written there that "Good deeds blot out misdeeds?"[1]
Give him my greetings and tell him that his transgressions
committed previously are forgiven, but leave those ways alone in
[1. An Arabic proverb.

Next, 'Abdu'l-Baha asked him what he had done to Jamal-i-Burujirdi.
Furughi said that because he matched the text with his own verdict,
'I pulled away the cushion on which he was sitting'. 'The Blessed
Perfection inspired you to do what you did,' 'Abdu'l-Baha said. 'He
has joined the Covenant-breakers. Tell the friends to beware of him
and not to be beguiled by him.'

Then 'Abdu'l-Baha asked him, 'What did you do to that young man in
'Ishqabad? Furughi replied: 'I punished him in front of the
people.' 'What you did was wrong,' said 'Abdu'l-Baha.

* * * * * * * * * *
[Electronic editor's note: In the Foreward to this book, p. x,
Moojan Momen writes: '...the present writer has contributed short
accounts... [The] additions are clearly indicated in the text ...
where the added material follows a line of asterisks.']

'This type of person should be chastised in private. But God has
forgiven both your wrong and his.'

Furughi returned to Iran by the route that 'Abdu'l-Baha had <p169>
indicated, visiting a number of towns and encouraging the
believers. In Tihran, he delivered 'Abdu'l-Baha's reply to the
overjoyed Abu'l-Qasim-i-Khammar. Then a few years later he returned
to the Holy Land. Here 'Abdu'l-Baha indicated to him that he would
be beaten and persecuted for the sake of the Faith; He also
foretold the assassination of Nasiri'd-Din Shah, instructing
Furughi to warn the believers in Iran to be on their guard. And so
it occurred.

On the way back, Furughi visited the Baha'is of Abadih. While there
he was set upon by an angry mob and severely beaten. He only just
escaped death in that town. Later in Tihran, Nasiri'd-Din Shah died
at the hand of one of the disciples of Siyyid
Jamalu'd-Din-i-Afghani, and although there was an attempt to lay
the blame at the door of the Baha'is this was thwarted. It was
shortly after this that Furughi was given an opportunity of meeting
the new Shah, Muzaffari'd-Din, and of apprising him of the tenets
of the Faith of Baha'u'llah in such a manner that the Shah was
induced to look favourably upon it.

At this time Furughi fell ill and a physician pronounced his case
to be beyond hope. But undaunted, Furughi asked permission to go
to the Holy Land. Although very ill by the time he arrived there,
he was brought back to complete health by 'Abdu'l-Baha's
ministrations. He returned to Tihran and went from there to Yazd
in order to answer a challenge by the mujtahid Siyyid
'Aliy-i-Hayiri to an open debate. But on Furughi's arrival, Hayiri
pleaded ill-health and would not come forward.[1]
[1. It should be noted that although there were frequent
persecutions of the Baha'is in Yazd at this time, Hayiri never
participated in these.]

From Yazd, Furughi proceeded to Khurasan and his home village of
Dughabad. He had been there but a short while when he was set upon
by a mob, beaten and forced to leave the village. He retired to
'Ishqabad for a time before returning to Mashhad. It was in Mashhad
in October 1910 that two men attempted to assassinate Furughi. But
although they discharged their pistols at his chest at close range,
Furughi survived this attack. He returned to Dughabad for a short
time before setting out once more for 'Ishqabad and Egypt where
'Abdu'l-Baha was at that time resident, following His strenuous
travels in Europe and America. Furughi was sent to Haifa to
announce 'Abdu'l-Baha's return in December 1913 after an absence
of more than three years from the Holy Land. <p170>
On his return to Iran, Furughi again survived an attempted
assassination in Mashhad and retired to Dughabad where he was
frequently under attack from the enemies of the Faith. His last
pilgrimage to Haifa was in the time of Shoghi Effendi, and it was
shortly after his return to Dughabad that he was invited to a feast
by one who pretended to be his friend, but who administered poison
to him during the meal. The poison caused a severe illness that
Furughi's advanced age could not withstand. Within a short while
he passed away, in AH 1346 (AD 1 July 1927 -- 19 June 1928). <p171>

Mirza 'Ali-Muhammad, known as Ibn-i-Asdaq, whom the Exalted Pen
(Baha'u'llah) addressed as Shahid Ibn-i-Shahid (Martyr, son of the
Martyr), was the distinguished son of that great veteran of the
Babi Faith, Mulla Sadiq-i-Muqaddas-i-Khurasani, who, haltered and
in the company of the incomparable Quddus was paraded in the
streets of Shiraz; fought on the battlements of Shaykh Tabarsi
under the banner of Quddus, and came safely through the holocaust;
attained the Day of 'Him Whom God shall make manifest', gave Him
his whole-hearted allegiance, served Him with exemplary devotion,
and was honoured by Him with the designation of Ismu'llahu'l-Asdaq.
(See p. 7.)

Ibn-i-Asdaq was the son of such a father. He was a boy of tender
years when, together with his saintly father, he was consigned to
the dungeon of Tihran. And he was still in his teens when, in the
company of his father, he travelled to Baghdad, and into the
presence of Baha'u'llah. Not only did he have that supreme bounty,
but the Most Exalted Pen moved to reveal a prayer for him, in which
we read these very significant words: 'I ask Thee, O my God! to
give him to drink of the milk of Thy bounty so that he may raise
the standards of victory through Me,--a victory which is Thine--and
arise to serve Thy Cause, when he groweth up, just as, when a
youth, he hath arisen at Thy Command.' (Unpublished)

Indeed, Baha'u'llah chose the son of Ismu'llahu'l-Asdaq to be a
promoter of His Cause, a faithful servant at His threshold, when
that future Hand of the Cause of God was still a child. And he was
still a child when the hands of the ungodly brought lashes to bear
on his flesh.

Ibn-i-Asdaq craved martyrdom in the path of his Lord. In the Most
Great Prison ('Akka) he attained once again the presence of
Baha'u'llah. 'We testify that thou didst enter the prison, that
thou <p172>
didst present thyself and didst stand at the door, and thou didst
hear the words of this Wronged One by Whom all lamps are ignited.'
(Unpublished) Thus again the Most Exalted Pen moved to address him.
Then he supplicated Baha'u'llah to grant him the station of
martyrdom. In January 1880 his supplication was answered.

Thou didst beg the Supreme Lord ... to bestow upon thee a station
whereat in the path of His love thou wouldst give up everything:
thy life, thy spirit, thy reputation, thine existence, all in all.
All of these behests were submitted in the most sanctified, most
exalted Presence of the Abha Beauty. Thus did the Tongue of the
Merciful speak in the Kingdom of Utterance: 'God willing, he shall
be seen in utmost purity and saintliness, as befitteth the Day of
God, and attain the station of the most great martyrdom. Today, the
greatest of all deeds is service to the Cause. Souls that are well
assured should with utmost discretion teach the Faith, so that the
sweet fragrances of the Divine Garment will waft from all
directions. This martyrdom is not confined to the destruction of
life and the shedding of blood. A person enjoying the bounty of
life may yet be recorded a martyr in the Book of the Sovereign
Lord. Well is it with thee that thou hast wished to offer
whatsoever is thine, and all that is of thee and with thee in My
path.' (Baha'u'llah, through His amanuensis, Mirza Aqa Jan;
unpublished) <p173>
Later, we find Mirza Aqa Jan writing again on the same theme,
bringing to Ibn-i-Asdaq the life-imparting words of Baha'u'llah:

What thou hadst written regarding martyrdom in the path of God, was
presented and He spoke thus, supreme is His Power: 'We, verily,
have ordained for him this exalted station, this high designation.
Well it is with him that he attained this station prior to its
appearance, and We accepted from him that which he intended in the
path of God, the One, the Single, the All-Knowing, the
All-Informed.' (Unpublished)

In such manner was Ibn-i-Asdaq honoured with the designation Shahid
Ibn-i-Shahid in the year 1882.

It was then that Ibn-i-Asdaq took to the road, moving from town to
town, city to city, visiting large centres of population as well
as rural areas, teaching with all his ardour the Faith of his Lord,
in the path of which he had begged for martyrdom. 'The movement
itself from place to place,' the Most Exalted Pen instructed him,
'when undertaken for the sake of God, hath always exerted, and can
now exert, its influence in the world. In the Books of old the
station of them that have voyaged far and near in order to guide
the servants of God hath been set forth and written down. ' (Quoted
in Shoghi Effendi, The Advent of Divine Justice, pp. 70-71)

The first time in the Writings of Baha'u'llah that we encounter the
mention and concept of Hand of the Cause of God is within a Tablet
which He revealed through His amanuensis in honour of Ibn-i-Asdaq,
dated April 1887. 'This evanescent Khadim [Mirza Aqa Jan was called
Khadimu'llah: Servant of God] beseecheth the All-Abiding Lord to
confirm the chosen ones, that is those souls who are Hands of the
Cause, who are adorned with the robe of teaching, and have arisen
to serve the Cause, to be enabled to exalt the Word of God.'

Ibn-i-Asdaq's marriage brought him close to men of high rank,
associated with royalty. His wife, 'Udhra Khanum, entitled
Diyau'l-Hajiyyih, was a great-granddaughter of Muhammad Shah. A
sister of the wife of Ibn-i-Asdaq was married to
Intizamu's-Saltanih, who had entree in the circles of the nobility,
and had already become a stalwart Baha'i. Ibn-i-Asdaq's marriage
took place in Khurasan, the ancestral home of his father,
Ismu'llahu'l-Asdaq; and when the newly-married couple moved to
Tihran, they found a home made ready for them by
Intizamu's-Saltanih and his wife, in one of the best residential
quarters of the capital. <p174>
Ibn-i-Asdaq was thus well placed, well prepared and well equipped
to meet and talk with people who had a hand in guiding the
destinies of the nation: royalty, nobility, priesthood, men of
letters, devotees of learning. It is related that Ibn-i-Asdaq
himself referred time and again to 'hunting the lion rather than
the fox'. 'Abdu'l-Baha, in later years, directed him, in
particular, to stay with the course he had taken: give the message
of Baha'u'llah to those who were at the helm. Whilst holding
converse with the prominent men in the capital, Ibn-i-Asdaq was
also undertaking journeys far and wide to teach the Faith. His
travels were not confined to Persia. He visited India and Russian
Turkistan wherein 'Ishqabad was situated. In the historical city
of Marv, Ibn-i-Asdaq began preliminary work for the construction
of a Mashriqu'l-Adhkar; the land for the temple was donated by the
government, and an architectural plan was drawn up which was sent
to the Holy Land. Moreover, he founded a hospice and a junior
school in Marv.

In India, Ibn-i-Asdaq visited Bombay, Lahore and Delhi. In Burma,
he visited Rangoon and Mandalay, and everywhere he met and talked
with men occupying positions of responsibility. At home Ibn-i-Asdaq
pioneered the establishment of teaching classes for the Baha'i
women of Tihran.

* * * * * * * * * *
[Electronic editor's note: In the Foreward to this book, p. x,
Moojan Momen writes: '...the present writer has contributed short
accounts... [The] additions are clearly indicated in the text ...
where the added material follows a line of asterisks.'] <p175>
The years immediately following the passing of Baha'u'llah were
difficult years for the Baha'i community. The breakers of
Baha'u'llah's Covenant were active in Iran, spreading their claims
and causing agitation and bewilderment. Ibn-i-Asdaq, in conjunction
with the other Hands of the Cause, countered the activities of the
enemies of the Faith, travelling throughout Persia to explain to
the believers the Covenant of Baha'u'llah and confirm them in it.
'Abdu'l-Baha instructed the Hands of the Cause to establish in
Tihran a Spiritual Assembly to administer the affairs of the Faith.
The Hands of the Cause were appointed permanent members of this
body that <p176>
eventually evolved to become the National Spiritual Assembly of the
Baha'is of Iran.

Ibn-i-Asdaq was the instrument whereby 'Abdu'l-Baha's Treatise on
Politics (Risaliy-i-Siyasiyyih) was presented to the Shah and
distributed among the notables of Iran. 'Abdu'l-Baha also made him
responsible, with Ahmad Yazdani, for delivering in person the
Tablet addressed to the Central Organization for a Durable Peace
at the Hague, in 1919.

Ibn-i-Asdaq was fortunate to be in the presence of 'Abdu'l-Baha on
several occasions as a pilgrim. On the last of his pilgrimages, he
was in Haifa for some thirty months and left shortly before
'Abdu'l-Baha's ascension.

Back in Iran, Ibn-i-Asdaq continued to travel and serve the Faith
until his death in 1928 in Tihran. <p177>
The Honest Merchant of Mashhad

Aqa 'Azizu'llah-i-Jadhdhab, the merchant, whose honesty so
surprised Mirza 'Ali-Asghar Khan, the Aminu's-Sultan, as to declare
him to be an angel, came from the Jewish fold. (See p. 55.)

Mashhad is a holy city and it had had a sizeable Jewish population.
They suffered considerably at the hands of unruly fanatics. As
happened in Europe in medieval times, when Jews were forced to
renounce their faith although many of them whilst ostensibly
professing Christianity kept to their old allegiance, so it
happened in Mashhad in recent times. Let Lord Curzon tell us what
occurred in Mashhad, during the reign of Muhammad Shah:

There still exists a considerable number of Jewish families in
Meshed, although the practice of their own worship is strictly
forbidden, and is only pursued in secret. The story of their
enforced conversion to Mohammedanism[1] in the year 1838 is well
known, and has been repeated by more than one traveller. Dr.
Wolff,[2] who was twice at Meshed, both before and after the
incident, described it in these terms:
[1. It is both incorrect and insulting to speak of Islam as
Mohammedanism. Fortunately the use of that designation has been
largely abandoned. (HMB)]
[2. Dr Joseph Wolff (father of the British diplomat, Sir Henry
Drummond-Wolff) himself came from the Jewish fold but had converted
to Christianity. He was highly polemical. (HMB)]

The occasion was as follows: A poor woman had a sore hand. A
Mussulman [Muslim] physician advised her to kill a dog and put her
hand in the blood of it. She did so; when suddenly the whole
population rose and said that they had done it in derision of their
prophet. Thirty-five Jews were killed in a few minutes; the rest,
struck with terror, became Mohammedans. They are now more zealous
Jews in secret than ever, but call themselves Anusim, the Compelled
Ones. [Narrative of Mission to Bokhara in 1843-1845, vol i p. 239,
and vol. ii p. 72]

Wolff does not add--what is necessary to explain the sudden
outburst--that the incidents of the Jewess and the slaughtered dog
unfortunately occurred on the very day when the Mohammedans were
celebrating the annual Feast of Sacrifice.[3] Superstition and
malice very easily aggravated an innocent act into a deliberate
insult to the national faith; and hence the <p178>
outbreak that ensued. There is much less fanaticism now than in
those days; but it still behoves a Yehudi [Yahudi], or Jew, to
conduct himself circumspectly and to walk with a modest air in
Meshed. (Persia and the Persian Question, vol. 1, pp. 165-6)
[3. The tenth day of Dhu'l-Hijjah: 'Id al-Adha or 'Id-i-Qurban.

It must also be added that the poor Jewess could not bring herself
to slaughter the stray dog they had cornered. A Muslim was asked
to do it for her, and it was this man, perhaps out of fear, who
dashed about shouting that the Jews were guilty of insolence and
deliberate affront, offering for sacrifice a dog on the day when
sheep or camels are sacrificed in memory of the act of Abraham.
Whatever the case, the Jews of Mashhad, dwelling in the quarter of
the city called the 'Idgah, paid heavily in human lives on that
tenth day of Dhu'l-Hijjah. Some fifty of them suffered death, their
synagogue was demolished, their Torahs consigned to the fire. It
is reported that only one Torah remained; it had been secreted in
a safe place. Then, as that forcible conversion took shape, the
holy city came to have a Jadid-Khanih (New House): the quarter of
the Jadidu'l-Islam (newly converted to Islam).

Of course it is impossible to say how many of those repressed Jews
genuinely became Muslims and how many remained attached to their
old faith. But there was one Jew in Mashhad of whose true
allegiance we have ample evidence; he was Mulla Hizqil (Ezekiel),
known as Namdar, the father of Aqa 'Azizu'llBh. Mulla Hizqil was
a merchant, but he was also very learned, and held classes to teach
his pupils the Torah, the Talmud and other religious works. Even
more, he had a copy of the Mathnavi of Jalali'd-Din-i-Rumi, written
in Hebrew characters, from which he taught his favourite pupils.
Some twelve years prior to that episode of forcible conversion,
Mulla Hizqil invited Mirza 'Askari, an eminent Muslim divine of
Mashhad whom he knew personally, to give him the word of testifying
to utter. He told Mirza 'Askari that studying Torah and other holy
scriptures had convinced him of the truth of Islam. So, years
before the tumult of 1838, Mulla Hizqil had, of his own accord,
become a Muslim, but no one in his family other than his wife, and
certainly none of his pupils, knew of it. Then one day, when
engaged in reading from Rumi's Mathnavi, he turned to his eldest
son and said: 'Shamuyil [Samuel]! Holy scriptures indicate that
today is the day of the Advent of that greatest Manifestation of
Yahweh [Jehovah], Who is the Redeemer of all. I shall be leaving
this world, but beware lest you all remain heedless.' <p179>
Aqa 'Azizu'llah was two years old when his father died, and under
his mother's care he grew up mindful of his religious duties.
However, when he was eight years of age, and attending a Muslim
school in their quarter, one day a boy tried to cheat him, not
giving back to him some of his writing materials which he had
purloined. Another boy intervened and ordered the cheat: 'Give it
back to him; these people are still Jewish.' Aqa 'Azizu'llah, not
being cognizant of his own origins, was terribly hurt; he told his
mother, 'I will never go again to that place for my lessons; today,
a boy insulted me and called me "Yahudi" [Jewish].' His mother
explained their situation to him, of which the boy had been totally
ignorant, and it revolted him. At that early age, he decided to
revert to the Faith of his forefathers. His mother had said to him:
'Being Yahudi meant that we are descendants of Yahuda, the son of
Jacob. We have been forcibly converted to Islam; but your own
father had, years before that forced conversion, by his own free
will come into the Islamic fold. During that awful night of
massacre and murder, at the instance of Mirza 'Askari, who himself
had given your father the word of Shahadat [testifying] to utter,
we were all taken to the house of Aqa Rajab, who was called Rajab
Bahadur. We ourselves remained safe, but all that we possessed was
pillaged.' Horrified, Aqa 'Azizu'llah ceased going to that Muslim
school for his lessons, and at a tender age started trading. And
he became a master in his work.

Now, the divines of Mashhad had appointed one among themselves to
keep a close watch over the Jadid-Khanih. All the Jadids, even old
ones over seventy, were expected to attend congregational prayers,
and no kosher meat was allowed. Despite all these pressures Aqa
'Azizu'llah was determined to take up the Jewish Faith. He asked
a cousin to teach him the Torah in secrecy, and he never left his
home on a Saturday to avoid setting his eyes on the face of a
Muslim on the Sabbath.

Thus the matter stood with Aqa 'Azizu'llah until the martyrdom of
Badi', who was a youth of Khurasan. Aqa 'Azizu'llah had a
half-brother named Aqa Shahvirdi, who had already, unbeknown to
all, embraced the Faith of Baha'u'llah. One day Aqa Shahvirdi came
to speak of the courage of that youth and of his glorious
martyrdom. It was the first time that Aqa 'Azizu'llah had heard the
name 'Baha'i' and wanted to know more, but his brother, well aware
of fanaticism all around him, was very circumspect and kept silent.
Two other brothers <p180>
of Aqa 'Azizu'llah, named Aqa Asadu'llah and Aqa Rahmatu'llah,
resided and traded in the town of Turbat-i-Haydari, whilst he and
Aqa Shahvirdi lived in Mashhad. Aqa 'Azizu'llah's merchandise
consisted mainly of goods in silk and most of his customers were
Turkamans who frequented Mashhad in search of trade.

One day in the year AH 1291 (18 February 1874 -- 6 February 1875),
when Aqa 'Azizullah was newly married, Aqa Shahvirdi came to him
with a proposal: 'I have a very large quantity of damask, the price
has fallen by two-thirds in Mashhad, and more than that there is
no ready cash; if I sell it will have to be against future payment.
But I am told that the market for this fabric is very good at
Badkubih. Should I go there alone and die on the way all will be
lost. Would you accompany me for a month to put this deal through?'
Ties of kinship were too strong and Aqa 'Azizu'llah could not
refuse his brother's request. He gave the charge of his own
trading-house to Aqa Yusuf, one of the Jadids of Mashhad, and the
two brothers set out for the Caucasus. When they reached Nishapur,
Baha'is, such as Shaykh Muhammad-i-Ma'muri (uncle of the martyr,
Shaykh Ahmad-i-Khurasani) and Shaykh Mustafa, came to visit Aqa
Shahvirdi. By then, Aqa 'Azizu'llah was certain that his brother
had become a follower of the new Faith, but, although much
disturbed, he kept his peace. In every town and city they passed
through, there were Baha'is whom Aqa Shahvirdi wished to meet and
so he did: in Sabzivar there was Haji Muhammad-Rida (martyred some
years later in 'Ishqabad); in Kushkbagh lived Mulla
Muhammad-i-Kushkbaghi; in Shahrud, Mulla Ghulam-Riday-i-Hirati; in
Badkubih itself (their destination), Mirza 'Abdu'l-Mu'min and Mulla
Abu-Talib; in Shirvan, Karbila'i Isma'il and the family of Samadov.
But everywhere Aqa Shahvirdi would ask the Baha'is not to speak to
his brother of their Faith. 'He is a zealot for our old Faith,' Aqa
Shahvirdi would tell them, 'and he will not listen to you.' For his
part Aqa 'Azizu'llah kept silent, and in the homes of his brother's
co-religionists would not touch their cooked food, taking only cups
of tea and boiled eggs offered to him. Thus the two brothers went
about in Caucasia. Badkubih did not provide, after all, a good and
profitable market for damask, and Aqa Shahvirdi thought that he
should try their luck in Tiflis (Tbilisi). He went there by
himself, leaving Aqa 'Azizu'llah behind in the town of Shaki, with
most of their merchandise. The peregrinations of the two brothers
in the Caucasus had taken several months and nowhere had they been <p181>
able to dispose of their goods profitably.

Aqa 'Azizu'llah then decided to go on alone to the renowned and
historic city of Gandzha (now Kirovabad) where there were better
prospects. Taking his seat in a four-horse carriage (with his
goods) at Shaki, Aqa 'Azizu'llah was put on the alert by the looks
of his fellow-passengers. Had it not been for his sagacity, he
would not have lived to see another day. Although he had learned
some Turkish, he pretended to have no knowledge at all of that
language, and thus, listening to the cartman and the other
passengers talking in Turkish, he realized that they were plotting
to murder him and steal his goods. Reaching Gandzha, he sought out
Mashhadi Muhammad-Ja'far, the rentier of a well-known caravanserai
of that city, to whom he had a letter of introduction from Haji
'Ali-Akbar, a Persian merchant of Shaki. Through his host he was
rescued from the clutches of the villainous cartman and his
passengers. But being on his own in Gandzha, he apparently did not
take full advantage of the favourable market. Later, it was seen
that a temporary situation created by a Christian festival had
limited his sales.

From Caucasia, the two brothers made their way to Istanbul. It took
them fourteen months in the Ottoman capital to sell all their
silken goods. Aqa 'Azizu'llah, who had abandoned his schooling at
an early age, was most anxious to improve his knowledge. During
those months of travelling he brought his mind to it, and being
well endowed with a high intellect, he made rapid progress. His
brother, Aqa Shahvirdi, had a case with him which contained books
and papers. These he would take out, from time to time, and peruse.
This had not <p182>
escaped Aqa 'Azizu'llah's notice. One day, when Aqa Shahvirdi had
gone to the bazar, Aqa 'Azizu'llah opened that case and came upon
writings which he realized appertained to the Baha'i Faith, and
they appealed to him, although he could not fully understand them.
Then he had a dream. Let him recount it in his own words:

In my dream I saw it announced that it was the day of the Advent
of Yahveh of the Torah, the Promise of all the Scriptures: God
watching the march past of all the Prophets and their adherents,
examining their deeds and achievements. I went immediately to the
direction indicated, and I saw a vast plain. As far as the eye
could see people were ranged, rank upon rank. Every Prophet with
His followers was seated facing the Qiblih. I marvelled how my eyes
were empowered to see them all. Facing all these ranks and ranges
of people, a Blessed Being was seated on a two-tiered chair,
speaking. I was standing at the end of these ranks and ranges. That
Blessed Being was more than fifty years of age, and had a long,
black beard and a green taj on His head, made of green silk. He
beckoned to me with His hand to go to His presence. With both hands
I pointed to the people, meaning to say, how could I get through?
He beckoned with His blessed hands to all those ranks of people,
and they, one and all, prostrated themselves. Then, once again, He
beckoned to me to come. I was hesitant, lest He was summoning
someone else. Then, when He beckoned a third time, I started to
move, walking over the people who were prostrated, one foot on a
back, another on a head, until I reached Him, threw myself at His
feet and kissed them. He raised me with His blessed hand and said:
'Praise be to God, the best of all creators'.

This dream had a profound effect on Aqa 'Azizu'llah, but he still
remained rooted in his previous beliefs, until he and his brother
reached Istanbul and lodged in Khan-i-Yusufiyan. Whilst there Haji
'Abdu'l-Majid-i-Nishapuri, the father of the glorious Badi', and
a sister of Aqa Husayn-i-Ashchi also arrived at the Turkish
metropolis and took lodgings in the same inn. One day, when his
brother was absent, Aqa 'Azizu'llah sat down with Aba-Badi' (the
Father of Badi') to talk of the Baha'i Faith and he opened his
heart to him. And soon whatever doubts he had were dispelled. There
and then he gave his total, unhedged allegiance to Baha'u'llah,
Whose Cause he served with distinction to the end of his days. Aqa
'Azizu'llah said that he thanked God for the long delay in selling
their merchandise. That delay had kept them in Istanbul and had
made possible the encounter leading him to Truth.

Haji 'Abdu'l-Majid was on his way to the Holy Land. Aqa 'Azizu'llah
requested him not to inform Aqa Shahvirdi, but to mention him in
the presence of Baha'u'llah and beg for His bounties. <p183>
On his return, Haji 'Abdu'l-Majid brought a Tablet addressed to Aqa
'Azizu'llah and permission for the two brothers to go to 'Akka.
When later the hand of the implacable enemy seized Aba-Badi' and
he too drank his fill of the same cup which his son had so
heroically quaffed, it was the destiny of Aqa 'Azizu'llah to give
the remains of that stalwart veteran of the Faith a suitable

Before the two brothers departed from Istanbul they heard the
commotion which preceded the deposition of Sultan 'Abdu'l-'Aziz,
saw the tumult in the Ottoman metropolis, and heard the news of the
overthrow of 'Abdu'l-'Aziz and of his death a few days later. Haji
'Abdu'l-Majid had told them that these events would come to pass,
as Baha'u'llah had presaged them. Aqa 'Azizu'llah, young as he was
and elated as he was by his newly-found faith and the news of the
permission to go to the presence of Baha'u'llah, did not at first
notice that he had badly injured his hand while using a knife. The
night when Istanbul was thrown into disarray, the injured hand was
so troubling him that he could not sleep. Awake and tossing in his
bed, he noticed that the military were on the move, and the
warships in the straits had all their lights on. And as dawn came
cannons roared: 'Abdu'l-'Aziz, the Sultan who had decreed the
banishment of Baha'u'llah, had fallen. That was the first
intimation which Aqa 'Azizu'llah had of the might of the Revelation
of Baha'u'llah. And when he attained the presence of Baha'u'llah,
he went down on his knees to kiss His feet. Baha'u'llah raised him
up and said: 'Praise be to God, the best of all creators'--the very
words which Aqa 'Azizu'llah had heard in his dream. As he looked
up, he saw that Baha'u'llah was wearing a green taj. That too he
had seen in his dream.

Aqa 'Azizu'llah had unreservedly embraced the Baha'i Faith, but
still certain likes and dislikes of the past persisted. He could
not help preferring kosher meat. On the first day of his arrival
at 'Akka, Haji 'Aliy-i-Malmiri took him to the market-place and
pointed out a butcher's shop to him. Baha'u'llah had instructed
Haji 'Ali to show Aqa 'Azizu'llah the shop where he could obtain
the kind of meat he still preferred. Aqa 'Azizu'llah bowed his head
in wonderment. While in 'Akka he came to realize, even more than
before, his disadvantage because of his neglect of his education
in childhood. Appealing to a fellow-believer to teach him some
Arabic every day, he found that a start was made with instruction
in rudiments of Arabic grammar, which further dismayed him. And he
longed for that knowledge of <p184>
Arabic which would enable him to understand what flowed from the
Most Exalted Pen. He prayed for that knowledge, particularly on
those evenings when, admitted to the presence of Baha'u'llah, he
would have the superb honour of hearing Him dictate His verses to
Mirza Aqa Jan. Later on, in Cairo, he discovered to his own
astonishment that he had gained that knowledge.

At last, back in Mashhad after a long absence, Aqa 'Azizu'llah,
because of his fervour and his total dedication to his newly-found
Faith, became a cynosure and widely known as a 'Babi'. He was most
generous and hospitable. Baha'is from far and wide frequented his
home. Then, through a mishap, a Tablet revealed by Baha'u'llah in
honour of a Baha'i of Mashhad fell into the hands of this Baha'i's
namesake. The incident led to unrest. Aqa 'Azizu'llah's relatives,
particularly some of his nephews, fearing an assault on their
homes, took precipitate action to forestal1 any untoward event.
They seized him, tied his hands and urged him to recant, which he
refused to do despite the persistence of their urging and pleading.
At this juncture, Mirza Aqa Jan Mihdizadih, one of the favourite
pupils of Aqa 'Azizu'llah's father, recalled what that sage had
said regarding the Advent of that Supreme Manifestation of God Who
is the Redeemer of all. Thus reminded, the relatives of Aqa
'Azizu'llah released him, set about investigating and finally did
as he had done: they ranged themselves under the standard of the
Faith of Baha'u'llah.

However, a number of the Jadids, moved by fear and jealousy, drew
up a statement to the effect that Aqa 'Azizu'llah was now similar
to gangrene at the heart of the Jadid-Khanih and his baneful
influence would, ere long, totally destroy its life. That malicious
statement was presented to the elders, who, together with Karbila'i
Muhammad-Safi, the man placed at the head of Jadid-Khanih by the
government, went up to the trading-house of Aqa 'Azizu'llah in the
caravanserai of Nasiriyyih. They ordered him to accompany them to
the house of a divine and publicly recant. Should he not do so, he
was told, they would hand him over to the authorities to deal with
and punish as it pleased them. Aqa 'Azizu'llah retorted that he
would gladly accompany them to the presence of the divines, but
then he would tell the clergy that these Jadids, who more than
forty years before were forced to profess Islam, had remained
Jewish, both in their beliefs and in their practices, whereas he,
by embracing the Faith of Baha'u'llah, had truly recognized the
station of the Prophet, and had come to <p185>
accept the Qur'an as a holy Book descended from God. Those
hypocrites saw that should they persist in persecuting Aqa
'Azizu'llah, they themselves would be the losers, and crestfallen
they departed and took with them the Head of the Jadid-Khanih.
Henceforth, Aqa 'Azizu'llah began to teach openly and soon the
number of Baha'is in the Jadid-Khanih rapidly increased. Some sixty
men enlisted in the community of the Most Great Name, as did the
wives and children of most of them. 'The Most Exalted Pen addressed
them as the children of Khalil [The Friend, Abraham] and the heirs
of Kalim [The Interlocutor, Moses].' (Unpublished Tablet by

Aqa 'Azizu'llah, (whom we shall henceforth sometimes call Jadhdhab,
as this was the surname which he adopted in later years), now went
travelling about in pursuit of his trading activities. 'Ishqabad
(which had a large Baha'i community) he visited many a time, he
traded in Bukhara long enough for the Amir of that once noble city
of Transoxania to give him a passport, he went as far as Tashkand
(Tashkent) and stayed there for a while. Marv was another historic
city where he lived and traded. Wherever he was, he served the
Cause of Baha'u'llah and the interests of his fellow-believers
assiduously and meritoriously. On his third visit to the Holy Land,
in the year AH 1308 (17 August 1890 -- 6 August 1891), Baha'u'llah
entrusted to him a particular task to carry out in Istanbul. (See
Baha'u'llah, The King of Glory, pp. 399-401.) It was a delicate
task, requiring firmness and sagacity. Jadhdhab performed it
superbly, to the total discomfiture of the Azalis of Istanbul. He
corresponded with Edward Granville Browne and even more
significantly with Tolstoy. In his Materials for the Study of the
Babi Religion (p. 237), Professor Browne lists three letters which
he had received 'From 'Azizu'llah, a Baha'i Jew of Bukhara. (1) May
24, 1892. (2) May 25, 1892. (3) June 24, 1892.' It was from
Jadhdhab that Edward Browne learned of the authorship of A
Traveller's Narrative. In a letter dated 21 May 1892, written from
Shiraz, the father of the present writer told Edward Browne: 'The
other day a man called Agha Azizullah of Bukhara called on me and
asked for your address saying he wanted to communicate with you
about some important matter--I hope I haven't done wrong in
complying with his request.'

It was at the bidding of 'Abdu'l-Baha that Aqa
'Azizu'llah-i-Jadhdhab set out to visit Count Leo Tolstoy. Here is
his own account of that unforgettable visit to the great Russian
humanist and writer: <p186>
After hearing the instructions of 'Abdul-Baha, and returning from
the Holy Land, left Odessa, on Sunday [sic], 1st Ramadan 1320, AD
14th September 1902, in order to visit Graf Tolstoy: ticket to
Tula, 11 manat and 60 kopek, hiring a phaeton: 7 manat and 60
kopek, driver's tip. [He goes on thus recording his expenses, until
the morning of Thursday:] I started for Yasnaya Polyana, where Graf
Lif [Leo] Ivan Nikolaeyvich Tolstoy lives (expenses 1 manat). On
the way, the conductors said: 'They will not let you enter Yasnaya
Polyana, because the government has expressly forbidden the entry
of any visitors; even his disciples are forbidden. At the railway
station, only a one-minute stop is allowed, and no one is permitted
to leave the train.' I said: 'I am a Persian Baha'i. I have come
specially from 'Akka to visit him, and it is necessary to see him
for some spiritual enquiry.' The two conductors, both of whom were
his friends and pupils, consulted together and decided thus after
some thought: 'There is no alternative', they told me, 'but for us
to let you alight at the signal box, and after passing through the
station tell one or <p187>
two people to seek you and take you away.' I accepted their offer
and thanked them. It was a very cold night, very dark and it was
snowing. At the signal box where I was let out, it was so dark that
had anyone taken my bedding and valise, by my side, I would not
have noticed and it was so cold that despite wearing a sable
overcoat I was shivering. After the lapse of half-an-hour or more,
two men appeared and very kindly took up my bedding and my valise.
We walked to the station at Nikharnik, where we came upon the
friends of the Graf. They had sent these two men to look for me.
The stove was lighted which well heated the room, and by its heat
we dried our clothes. In the morning, after partaking of tea,
trusting in God, I left my chattels behind and in a droshky drove
to Yasnaya Polyana, where the Graf Lif lived. On the road, I met
a number of his disciples coming away, some riding in carriages and
some on foot. They advised me: 'Do not go any further. The
gendarmes will not permit you to proceed.' But I went ahead, and
stepping out of the droshky at the entrance to the house I met a
gendarme, whom I saluted in Russian. He asked me: 'Why have you
come here?' I said in reply: 'I am a Persian, a Baha'i. There are
some spiritual, mystic matters which I would like to discuss with
the Count.' He said: 'It is forbidden. I am not permitted to allow
anyone to visit him. ' I said: 'May I request to ask someone to
come to take a message from me?' To this they agreed. A few minutes
later someone came. After preliminaries I was informed that he was
Chertkov, a philosopher, who had been banished for two years, and
had recently returned to Russia to visit Graf Tolstoy. Subsequent
to our pourparlers, when he realized that I had come from 'Akka,
bearing messages from 'Abdu'l-Baha, he went back to the house to
put the situation to the Graf; and when he returned he told the
gendarme, on behalf of the Graf: 'This man has come from 'Akka, a
long way. He has not met me before. He is not one of my disciples
and he is not a Christian. He is a Baha'i, wishing to discuss some
spiritual matters. Let him in to visit me. He will return.' The
gendarme agreed. Chertkov became my guide and led me into a room
specified for visitors.

The Graf had instructed him to let me rest in that room till
lunch-time, since I would be tired, having travelled a distance.
Then we were to meet at lunch-time, to have our talk. I said:
'Although I have not studied Russian, I have been for years trading
in Transcaspian areas, and have become acquainted with Russian
works and press; so I wish to request the perusal of the book which
he [Tolstoy] has recently written, and against which the Christian
clergy of Russia have risen in protest, leading to the present
restrictions.' He [Chertkov] went and fetched me a copy of the
book. After having a wash, I was offered tea. 'I have already had
my tea,' I said. Then I rested for a while. It was Friday [sic],
17 September 1902. From 9 a.m. till noon, I busied myself with the
perusal of the book. Despite my poor knowledge, I understood the
Count's intention. He wanted to say: What harm is there in this
should we, like the Mosaic people and the people of Islam, own that
Christ, similar to other Prophets, was chosen and sent down by God,
yet refrain from injecting the story of the dove and other
imaginings into the <p188>
minds of the common people, thus making ourselves the
laughing-stock of others. It was just this point which had caused
the clergy to denounce him and had led to his house arrest.

At 1 p.m. I was called to meet him. As it happened, that very day
they had taken away his secretary and put him in the gaol at Tula,
so as to stop his correspondence, because the Graf himself did not
write letters; and his younger daughter had gone to Tula to obtain
the release of the secretary. To meet him, we directed our steps
to a building which stood about three arshins[1] above the ground
level. He was seated on a chair-it was a special chair on which he
could stretch his legs because of pain. After the encounter and
mutual greetings a special table was made ready for Chertkov and
myself to serve us our lunch. On my side, glasses for beverages and
plates had been arranged according to the present usage. Before the
food was brought in, I stated that I did not take alcoholic
beverages, and it was now more than three years that I had ceased
eating meat. He smiled and said, 'I too do not eat meat, but your
avoidance of meat seems to be connected with new teachings.' I
replied: 'Nothing is forbidden, but in a Tablet 'Abdu'l-Baha has
written that meat is not the natural food for man, and God has not
given man the fangs and the claws for eating meat. How very many
are the Buddhists and the Brahmins who do not eat meat and their
olfactory sense excels others.'... He [Tolstoy] then instructed
that an egg dish be brought for me like his own...
[1. Cubits; a cubit is approximately the length of a forearm.] <p189>
He then said: 'I do not trust newspapers. Some give praise, some
become abusive. Three times I wanted to find out facts about the
Babis and Baha'is and write truthfully about them in my books,
after proper investigation. The last time, twelve days ago, I was
talking with Chertkov over this very matter.' I replied: 'Three
times I set out according to the instructions given to me. The
first time I had messages regarding world peace to deliver to the
High Minister and Commander, Kropotkin. Meeting you and him were
both forbidden. The second time, I had a letter to deliver to
General Kamarov, after which I had to return. And now, this third
time, today is exactly twelve days since I left the presence of
'Abdu'l-Baha in 'Akka.'

Then he began to ask me questions. 'Whom do you consider the Bab
to have been,' he asked first; 'when did He appear and what was His
claim?' I replied that the Bab was a young Man and His name was
Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad... Then he asked what the state of the Cause
was after the ascension of Baha'u'llah, and I replied that it was
ever progressing. Next, his query was about the claim of the
Blessed Perfection, and I answered that He was 'the Speaker on
Sinai', 'the Everlasting Father', 'the Spirit of Truth', 'the
Heavenly Father' Whom the Sons of Israel and the Christians expect;
the Return or Advent of Husayn, according to the beliefs of Shi'ih
Islam; and according to the views of the Sunnis the Advent of the
Bab was the Advent of the Mahdi (Mihdi), the Advent of Baha'u'llah
was the Second Coming of the Christ; and according to the beliefs
of the Zoroastrians, it was the Advent of Shah Bahram. Briefly, His
Advent accords with the prophecy of Isaiah and Daniel... He has
come to rescue all the peoples of the world from vain imaginings.

To summarize the other queries of Tolstoy and Aqa 'Azizu'llah's
replies. He told Tolstoy of the Kitab-i-Aqdas, its laws and
ordinances and the legislative powers given to the Universal House
of Justice, some of the underlying principles of the Faith, such
as equality of men and women, abandonment of all prejudices, the
oneness of religion. Tolstoy also wished to know whether people of
Faiths other than Islam had embraced the Baha'i Faith in noticeable
numbers. Jadhdhab gave him a satisfactory answer, adding that he
himself had come from the Jewish fold. He also told Tolstoy of the
Baha'i School in 'Ishqabad and how it worked. Tolstoy's next query
was concerned with the station of 'Abdu'l-Baha, to which Jadhdhab
replied that 'Abdu'l-Baha was the Expounder of the Book, and His
station was that of total 'Servitude'. He also spoke of the
rebellion of 'Abdu'l-Baha's half-brothers, to which Tolstoy
commented: 'It should have been so, that opposition should have
come from the members of the family of Baha'u'llah Himself. This
is what has happened to me. I rose up to educate a limited number
of people, and my own son is <p190>
constantly active in Petersburg, day and night, in and out of the
Court, to bring about my death.'

With these remarks Tolstoy's queries seem to have ended, and the
time had come to give him the message from 'Abdu'l-Baha, of which
Aqa 'Azizu'llah was the bearer. 'Abdu'l-Baha wished Tolstoy to
leave an indelible mark in the annals of religion. There have been
many philosophers who have raised their banners high; Tolstoy could
raise his, as a philosopher, even higher, but as a unifier in the
sphere of religion, he could leave a greater mark. Then, it seems,
Aqa 'Azizu'llah asked Tolstoy what he thought of Baha'u'llah, after
all he had heard. Aqa 'Azizu'llah writes: 'He raised both his hands
and said, "How can I deny the One who calls out to the whole of
mankind? I tried to educate a limited number of people in Russia,
and you have seen how I have been prevented by the gendarmerie."'

Tolstoy seems to have promised Aqa 'Azizu'llah to write about the
Baha'i Faith, and had presented him with a number of his books and
photographs. The rest of the day Aqa 'Azizu'llah spent in the
company of Tolstoy's daughter, his secretary (who had been
released), his physician, and Chertkov Zhukovsky. Towards sunset,
he writes, he bade them all farewell and left for Badkubih.

Jadhdhab had lived also in Bombay for a while. He was always at the
service of the Baha'is, and travelled a good deal to teach and make
the Faith widespread. His home was always open to all. Whenever
travelling teachers came to his home, he not only provided
hospitality and afforded them every facility, but would always,
unbeknown to them, put some cash in their saddle-bag, that they
should not find themselves wanting anywhere. His brothers Aqa
Shahvirdi, Aqa Rahmatu'llah and Aqa Asadu'llah were equally active
in the service of the Faith, but he excelled them all. Aqa
Asadu'llah met the death of a martyr in Marv.

Aqa 'Azizu'llah was living and trading in Bayram 'Ali, in the
vicinity of Marv, when the Bolshevik Revolution overtook him. His
factory was seized and so was his trading-house. Then he retired
to Mashhad, his home town. He was now an old man, well-tried and
well-tested. He lived on until the summer of 1935 and passed away
in Mashhad, at the age of ninety-four. <p191>
He Who Lived in Fire and Was Not
Consumed by It

Shaykh Kazim-i-Samandar, designated by the Guardian of the Baha'i
Faith an 'Apostle of Baha'u'llah', was born in the month of
Muharram AH 1260--that same auspicious year which witnessed the
dawn of the Day of God. He was the eldest son of Haji Shaykh
Muhammad, entitled Nabil-i-Akbar, a well-known and highly-respected
merchant of Qazvin, and one of the stalwart men of that city--the
city of Tahirih the Pure--who, from earliest times, recognized the
Manifestation of God and paid homage to him. But let Samandar
himself relate his story:

The late Nabil was the son of Haji Rasul, and a grandson of Haji
Rida, famed as Juvayni. Of the public buildings raised by Haji
Rida, only a caravanserai and a wall remain... Haji Rasul was a
merchant. Towards the end of his life he chose to be a resident of
Karbila, where he spent his last twenty-two years, engaged in
visitation and devotions. My late father joyfully sent him, all
those years, all the money he required for his sustenance. Twice
he came home for a short visit. The second time he came, I was a
child and I remember him. He was a pious man, and one of the
Shaykhis. Although he was a contemporary of Haji Siyyid Kazim, he
did not associate with him. But as it happened, when the Exalted
One [the Bab] went to Karbila he met Him oftentimes in the Shrine
of Imam Husayn and was greatly attracted by His mien and devotion.
Such a spark was lighted in the heart of Haji Rasul that it blazed
in His remembrance. Although he had no knowledge of that which had
come to pass, he came to love His blessed Being and felt submissive
towards Him, confessing His superiority.

The best proof of this is the fact that when he came on his last
visit to Iran, my father had become enrolled, a servant in the
Court of the Exalted One. His brother [Samandar's uncle] complained
to their father, saying, 'My brother has joined these people.' The
father was alarmed. 'Why should it be so?' he asked. Then they
talked about the One Who had put forth a claim, <p192>
and the identity of the Founder of the Babi Faith. When all was
explained to him, he said: 'The One Whom you name and describe is
a merchant, a turbaned Siyyid of Shiraz, Whom I met many a time
when he came on pilgrimage to Karbila. In all these years that I
have resided in that holy city, I have come across pilgrims of all
sorts and of many a land: siyyids, learned men, mystics, murshids,
noblemen, grandees, commonalty, merchants--all sorts of men. And
I have never met any blessed Being possessed of such humility and
such nobility. Firstly, I do not believe that He has come forth
with such a claim. And secondly, if it were proved to me that that
heavenly Siyyid had indeed made that claim, I cannot consider Him
a man of falsehood. That visage and that brow would never, never
reflect anything but conspicuous truth...' (Tarikh-i-Samandar, pp.
[1. All quotations from Samandar are from this book unless
otherwise attributed.]

Samandar states that because his father was a man deeply devoted
to the practices of his Faith, his compatriots had come to call him
Shaykh Muhammad, although he was a merchant. And Shaykh Muhammad
gave his allegiance to Shaykh Ahmad-i-Ahsa'i, then to Siyyid
Kazim-i-Rashti (after the passing of the former). Because his male
issue did not live long, Shaykh Muhammad appealed to Siyyid Kazim
and begged his prayers that he might have a son to survive him. His
wish was granted, and the son who was born next was given the same
name as the Teacher in Karbila; he grew up to be an Apostle of
Baha'u'llah. Samandar did not know where and how his father
received the tidings of the Advent of the Bab. But he remembered
hearing of such great personages as the Babu'l-Bab, Vahid of Darab,
Mulla Jalil-i-Urumi and Mirza Muhammad-'Aliy-i-Qazvini (both
Letters of the Living), whom he did not meet. But those whom he did
meet in his father's house make a very impressive list: Mulla
Yusuf-'Aliy-i-Ardibili (another Letter of the Living), Shaykh
'Aliy-i-'Azim, Haji Mirza Siyyid 'Ali (uncle of the Bab), Mirza
Asadu'llah-i-Dayyan, Mirza 'Aliy-i-Sayyah, and the heroic Haji
Sulayman Khan.

Samandar writes:

Because the year of my birth was the same as the year of the Advent
[of the Bab], I being born on the 17th day of Muharram [7 February
1844], ... the sires I have named used to hold me, a little boy,
in their arms and show great kindness . After attaining the honour
of belief, my father repeatedly gained the further honour of
attaining the presence of the Exalted One: in Tabriz, in Maku, in
Chihriq. During his visit to Maku, he received a Tablet from the
Exalted One, in the handwriting of Aqa Siyyid Husayn, the
amanuensis [also a Letter of the Living], which was revealed in
answer to a question presented by him... <p193>
Of the various episodes and happenings [writes Samandar] which
touched my late father and about which I heard him speak (others
also having knowledge of them), the event of the assassination of
Haji Mulla Taqi[1] is particularly noteworthy. When Haji Mulla Taqi
was murdered in Qazvin, my father was in Tabriz. Soon, however, he
left to return to Qazvin. It was in Miyanaj that he heard the news
of the assassination of a divine of his native town. In Zanjan, he
found out who the murdered divine was. It occurred to him that men
who were makers of mischief might point the finger of accusation
at him and cause great trouble. Upon thinking further, he reached
the conclusion that the date of his departure from Tabriz was known
to a number of men in high position, obtaining their witness by
correspondence would be feasible and easy, and people would have
the perception to distinguish between fact and fiction. On reaching
Qazvln and riding through several quarters, he came upon an
acquaintance who showed great surprise and astonishment at seeing
him at such a time. Out of kindness, he made my father dismount and
walk by paths less frequented to his home. He said, 'I myself will
bring your goods and effects. Part of the wall of your house is in
ruins; reach your home by that way.' My father did as he was told,
and through bypaths and the fallen wall he gained his home. And his
acquaintance brought the luggage and took the goods to the owner
named by my father.
[1. The uncle and father-in-law of Tahirih. (HMB)] <p194>
I myself was a young boy at the time, but was aware of what was
happening. I was not allowed to see my father, but I did notice the
disposal of the chattels of travel. Witnessing the state my mother
was in, I realized that my father had come home. But instead of
joy, sorrow and lamentation prevailed. My mother was bemoaning the
return of my father. My late aunt kept striking her head and
breast, telling my father: 'Why did you return at such a time?' My
father retorted: 'If you wish, I shall go in these travel-stained
clothes to the governor's house and ask him to write to Tabriz and
make enquiries from a number of well-known merchants who were my
neighbours there in the same caravanserai.' My mother and aunt
replied: 'Alas! it is too late; the time for making such
distinctions has passed. They have put your name at the top of the
list of wanted men and are all looking for you. So demanding are
they that even your brother, who does not share your beliefs and
for that reason is hostile towards you, has found living so
constricted that, terror-stricken, he has gone into hiding in a
subterranean place. Make haste; there is no time to tarry.'

He consented, and was taken to the home of Mashhadi Baqir-i-Sabbagh
(the dyer), who was the husband of the daughter of my aunt. Only
one house separated his house from ours. In it they had a
subterranean room ... which could be reached only in the centre of
an upper room. A plank was placed over the entrance. My uncle, Aqa
Muhammad-Rida, had also been lodged there.

Within two hours a number of farrashes, accompanied by an
executioner and a certain Siyyid Muhsin, appeared outside our
house, knocking furiously at the gate which was not opened to them.
Then they brought a ladder, stormed the house, poured over the wall
and the roof, searched everywhere, and found no one. When they came
over the wall and the roof, I, a little boy, was in the courtyard,
trembling from head to foot. (Tarikh-i-Samandar, pp. 19-24)

Samandar goes on to say that a woman, a neighbour of theirs, told
the murderous crew that a short while before she had seen the man
whom they were seeking, being taken to the other house. That house
too was stormed, but despite a thorough search no one was found
there either. The entrance to the secret subterranean room was well
concealed by the carpet covering the floor. Moreover, the cradle
of a child had been placed over the spot where the entrance might
have been discovered.

At last the tension was eased. Tahirih was taken to Tihran, a move
planned and directed by Baha'u'llah. And innocent blood was shed
because of the vindictiveness of the clerics. Shaykh Muhammad could
leave his hiding-place and ride once again to Tabriz, where he set
up his trading-post, as before. Of course the merchants and
traders, with whom he had dealings, wished to know the truth of
what had <p195>
happened in Qazvin. He related the whole story of the murder of
Haji Mulla Taqi and the confession of the assassin, who was a
native of Shiraz in no way connected with anyone in Qazvin. A few
days later, some men came to the mart seeking him. He was told that
Aqa Mirza Ahmad, the mujtahid, wished to see him. Never having met
that divine, Shaykh Muhammad was rather perturbed by this summons.
Then those emissaries of the mujtahid got hold of his shawl and
dragged him out. A number of muleteers, who hailed from a district
close to Qazvin and knew Shaykh Muhammad personally, came to his
rescue, and in the melee that ensued the Shaykh was severely

But that was nothing compared with what came next. On arriving at
the abode of the mujtahid, Shaykh Muhammad uttered the words of
attestation: 'I bear witness that there is no God save God; I bear
witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of God.' The overbearing
divine had a few words with him, and then ordered his minions to
bastinado him, a man totally innocent and without any guile or
deception. It was a cold day in the heart of winter. The minions
of the mujtahid threw him on the ground and began beating him.
Spectators crowded round, spitting on his face. Some of them
carried stones and bricks to hurl at him. Still others, adept at
uttering coarse words, began abusing him. Appealing to men with
hearts of stone was useless. His thoughts and his words were
directed to the Primal Point, the glorious Bab. But his eyes could
see the strokes descending upon him, and he noticed a nail getting
looser and looser, about to fall off. That brought a smile to his
lips. At that moment the superintendent or chief constable
(darughih) arrived and immediately noticed that smile. Astonished,
he said to the Shaykh: 'They are killing you and you are smiling!'
It was the darughih's intervention which saved Shaykh Muhammad. He
himself estimated later that he had suffered two thousand strokes.

Now, the mujtahid ordered the chief constable to expel Shaykh
Muhammad from Tabriz. That official managed to move the Shaykh to
his own home, got him a hat to wear, and brought a physician to see
to his lacerated feet. And Shaykh Muhammad answered his questions,
told him who he was and what had brought him to Tabriz. Shaykh
Muhammad knew for certain that if he were publicly expelled from
Tabriz, it would make it impossible for him to carry on trading
even in his own native city. Some of his compatriots, whenever they <p196>
came to visit him (which was not often), urged him to take himself
away; one of them in particular was very insistent, because he had
his greedy eyes on the bales of silk which Shaykh Muhammad

Then a certain Haji Siyyid Mihdi, also a native of Qazvin, who,
having gone bankrupt, was then engaged in brokerage, found a way
to rescue the Shaykh from his dilemma. He took the case to Haji Mir
Muhammad-Husayn-i-Isfahani, a well-known merchant who was famed for
his benevolence and good deeds. Having heard the story of Shaykh
Muhammad, this merchant sent for the chief constable and instructed
him to have all the merchandise belonging to Shaykh Muhammad moved
to the caravanserai known as Tabataba'i, which he owned. Although
all the rooms there were occupied, they managed to have an upper
room prepared for Shaykh Muhammad. Under the protection of the
Isfahani merchant, the Shaykh found calmness and was freed of
interference by ill-wishers. Next, that same kind and God-fearing
Isfahani merchant interceded with the despotic divine, and obtained
permission for Shaykh Muhammad of Qazvin to stay in Tabriz. For
years, the say& had his trading-house in that caravanserai,
enjoying the sincere friendship of the Isfahani merchant. And Haji
Mir Muhammad-Husayn often visited Shaykh Muhammad, sometimes twice
a week.

When Shaykh Muhammad attained the presence of the glorious Bab, it
is said, he was told by Him: 'They scourged you and you suffered
for My sake; in truth, it was I Who was scourged.'
(Tarikh-i-Samandar, p. 30) Not long after, the Bab and His faithful
disciple were shot in the public <p197>
square of Tabriz. And within two years of that dire deed, Iran
touched the nadir of inhumanity. In the blood-bath of August 1852,
two more of the Bab's Letters of the Living were made to drink the
cup of martyrdom: Siyyid Husayn-i-Yazdi, His amanuensis, and the
incomparable Tahirih, while in Tabriz they were about to snatch
away Shaykh Muhammad, but the Isfahani merchant once again
delivered him from the fury of the foe.

Shaykh Muhammad was further honoured by attaining the presence of
Baha'u'llah in Baghdad at the time when Mirza Yahya was also in
that city. The Shaykh had received a piece of writing from Mirza
Yahya in which he had clearly shown what a poltroon he was. Trying
to hide from all in order to save his life, he had written:
'Whosoever claims to have seen me is an infidel, and whosoever
states that he has heard my voice is one who joins partners with

Samandar writes:

My father intended to retire to Baghdad. He ended his trading
connections in Tabriz, came to Qazvin, and tried to settle his
accounts with his partner by <p198>
correspondence and close down the partnership. He told me: 'I have
written several times to my partner to send his account, but he has
not done so, and time is getting short for travelling.' I said in
answer to him: 'You see that the soreness of my eyes has greatly
increased; otherwise I would have gone with your permission and
settled the whole affair. Now I fear that because of his
procrastination the time for travelling will lapse and winter will
set in. Therefore I feel that you yourself should go to Lahijan for
a few days, settle your accounts with your partner and, God
willing, return soon.' He replied: 'Yes, I myself would like to go
to Lahijan to see my brother, Mashhadi Muhammad-Rahim, and my
partner, having shared so many years of our lives together, now
that I have reached the end of my journeys and the end of my days.'
Divination was also favourable, and the day after that very night
he made his preparations, bought a horse, and left for Lahijan. A
few days after his arrival there he was taken ill, and departed
from this world soon after. That was in the year AH 1278 [9 July
1861 -- 28 June 1862]. (Tarikh-i-Samandar, pp. 32-3)

Samandar thus continues his narrative:

It is a known fact that in Iran, the children of those who bear
this name [Baha'i] are oftentimes not immune [from opposition] in
bazars and streets. Youngsters and the ignorant often make verbal
attacks on them, particularly at times of perturbation... I myself
have from the days of my childhood suffered hearing such ridicule,
and even to this day such words reach my ears. I wish to record the
account of one of these incidents which has a tale to tell, a
memory for generations to come.

I well remember a time when I was very young, not yet adolescent,
and my father was away. I went to make some purchases from a
grocer's shop at the end of our lane. A few men were idling their
time around that shop. They saw me approaching from afar, and
decided amongst themselves to do me some harm. As I neared the
shop, one of them who was a well-built man, to do a good deed
approached me and, without saying a word, slapped me hard on the
face. I remember that the grocer, knowing that I had come to make
purchases at his shop, stopped them and told them to leave me
alone. Since I had gone to buy some provisions from him, I went
forward and gave him the money. Whilst he was weighing the things,
I could hear those men talking about me. I heard one of them say,
'Is he a bastard or not?' Another said in reply: 'If he was
conceived prior to his father's ratting and becoming a Babi, then
he is not a bastard; but he is one if his conception took place
when his father had already become a Babi.' (Tarikh-i-Samandar, pp.

Samandar goes on to say:

Most of the people, high and low, who caused harm to this sacred
Cause had no profit from it, and before long went down in ignominy.
Should I put on paper the full story of all, everything we have
heard and seen, these pages would not suffice. In brief, some of
them were seen fallen on evil days, dying in utmost misery. My
father told me this: 'A good while after the episode of <p199>
Tabriz and the beating I received there, I found myself in an
assemblage, seated in a place of honour, and noticed a man sitting
in a lowly place whose whole mien and bearing spoke of misery. That
man turned to me and said: "I beseech your forgiveness." "What
for?" I asked. "At one time", he said, "I brought upon you great
suffering." I answered: "If you did what you say you have done, in
the path of God, do not ask for forgiveness; and if you did it out
of selfish desire, turn to God and beseech His forgiveness." Then
he replied: "I and two or three others were the men who caused your
afflictions. We went to the mujtahid and incited him to have you
beaten. They and I were seized by miseries in diverse ways. Forgive
us."' (Tarikh-i-Samandar, pp. 35-6)

The son of such a father as Shaykh Muhammad could not but become
in his turn a pillar of the Faith of Baha'u'llah in his native city
of Qazvin. Throughout his life he followed in the footsteps of his
father, engaged in trade. The glorious Bab had been the son of a
merchant, and had uncles similarly earning their livings. He
Himself <p200>
began trading at the tender age of fifteen. The Prophet of Arabia
traded as the agent of a rich widow of Mecca whom He eventually
married, leading caravans with merchandise along the barren wastes
of Arabia to the fertile lands of the north. Shaykh
Kazim-i-Samandar excelled both in trade and in learning. One of his
teachers was Mulla Zaynu'l-'Abidin, an uncle of Baha'u'llah. This
notable of Nur accompanied his nephew, Mirza Yahya, when the latter
hurriedly fled from Iran in a desperate attempt to save his own
life, after having endangered the lives of the members of his
family and the people close to them, in the province of Mazindaran.
On his return from Baghdad, Samandar writes, 'my father kept him
[Mulla Zaynu'l-'Abidin] in our house, ostensibly to teach me'.
Another tutor of Samandar was Mulla 'Ali-Akbar-i-Ardistani. He was
the one who in very early days suffered indignities in Shiraz,
together with Quddus and Mulla Sadiq-i-Muqaddas-i-Khurasani. They
were flogged, a noose was fastened through their nostrils, and thus
they were paraded in the streets of Shiraz. Samandar writes:

In the days of my father, in Tabriz, I studied under him [Mulla
'Ali-Akbar] for two years. Then with my father's permission I
accompanied him to Qazvin, whence he went to Ardistan. After the
declaration of the Abha Beauty, he became hesitant for a while,
sunk in his own thoughts. Even in a Tablet, He [Baha'u'llah]
commanded me to bear a message to him, this great teacher of mine.
But before long the Will of God prevailed, and that sagacious,
acute and subtle man, subsequent to deep investigation, came
through the test and attained the highest degree of certitude and
knowledge, and engaged in glorifying his Lord and teaching His
Faith until he passed away. (Tarikh-i-Samandar, p. 172)

Following his trade, Samandar was oftentimes travelling to Tabriz,
to Rasht and Lahijan, to Tihran. And as soon as Baha'u'llah made
known His Mission, Samandar gave Him his fealty. He was already
familiar with the follies of Mirza Yahya, but as he puts it

I did not know the extent of his folly. A certain Mulla
'Abdu'r-Rahim, a believer of early days, had written a letter to
Mirzk Yahya, and he had answered him in his own handwriting, with
which I was familiar. One of the questions which he [Mulla
'Abdu'r-Rahim] had asked was this: some physicians prepare pills
with the flesh of serpents, and sometimes they mix it with other
ingredients and make an electuary. At other times they prescribe
the cooked meat of a serpent to cure certain ailments. Is it lawful
to partake of such flesh? That man, Azal, had written an answer in
Arabic. These were his words: 'Is there a dearth of things to eat,
that you wish to eat serpents and <p201>
scorpions?' Yes, that answer made me see that that man was more
stupid than I had ever thought him. His answer showed that he had
not understood the question. (Tarikh-i-Samandar, pp. 138-9)

Samandar was always engaged in search of knowledge. At the same
time as he diligently attended to his business transactions, he was
continuously delving into his books, making a thorough study of all
the Scriptures of the past, learning all the time. Samandar has
left his own testimony indicating his unceasing effort to find
truth and investigate it with an open mind. He writes of his
studies of the Old and New Testaments, of the text of the holy
Qur'an, of traditions of Islam. He takes his stand on the
exhortation of Baha'u'llah to consort with all peoples, with men
of all Faiths, in peace and in harmony. According to his own
admission, he even tried to apply the test of independent
investigation to the writings of Azal, Mirza Yahya, whom he calls
'Mir'at' (Mirror). (He had been designated thus by the Bab.)
Samandar writes: 'I did whatever was in my power to investigate,
to discover, to evaluate. Not a whiff of truth did I ever find
coming from the direction of the Mir'at. On the contrary,
malodorous is all that is wafted from his bourne...'
(Tarikh-i-Samandar, p. 144)

In the year AH 1291 (AD 18 February 1874 -- February 1875)
Samandar, in the company of Haji Nasir (one of the survivors of
Shaykh Tabarsi), attained the presence of Baha'u'llah. That
pilgrimage inspired Samandar to start on the road to his destiny:
to become a pillar of the Faith, an Apostle of Baha'u'llah.

Nine years later, that year when the rage of Nasiri'd-Din Shah and
his two unprincipled, avaricious sons--Mas'ud Mirza, the
Zillu's-Sultan, and Kamran Mirza, the Nayibu's-Saltanih--exploded
into wholesale arrests and imprisonment of the followers of
Baha'u'llah, Samandar had to clear the hurdle of mischievous
misrepresentation by a man who, in later years, came to see the
enormity of his deed. There was in Qazvin a Mulla 'Ali, a man of
many talents. The present writer remembers the praises spoken of
him by the Hand of the Cause of God, Tarazu'llah Samandari, who had
received tuition from him. Samandar (Tarazu'llah's father), having
found Mulla 'Ali to be receptive and willing to listen, had led him
to full recognition of the Cause of Baha'u'llah, and afterwards had
provided him with a home in his own house where he became a tutor
to his son. He was called Mu'allim (Teacher) par excellence. <p202>
Mulla 'Ali had a nephew who was hostile towards the Cause of
Baha'u'llah. In the first instance, he showed his displeasure at
the arrangement which resulted in his uncle's change of residence.
He did not wish him to live in the house of a Babi! Having failed
to prevent it, he went about telling tales and bringing grave
accusations against Samandar. As Samandar himself writes:

He carried on his vendetta to such an extent that the government
became really suspicious. 'My uncle', he said, 'has been kept a
prisoner by this Babi. He does not allow him to leave the house.'
Therefore the governor sent his farrash-bashi and a number of
farrashes, together with the plaintiff himself, to put the matter
right. As it happened, the Mu'allim had gone on a journey with Aqa
Muhammad-i-Qa'ini, known as Fadil, to accompany him part of the
way, leave him at a certain spot, and return [to Qazvin].
(Tarikh-i-Samandar, pp. 44-5)

Then Samandar refers to the events in the capital, the arrests made
there and the possibility of the unrest spreading to other places.
He goes on to say:

I had come home from the market-place. My son came with a letter
from <p203>
Tabriz bearing the news at the end of it that 'This very minute a
telegram arrived from Yazd to the effect that Varqa has been
accused and detained'. My son went back to the bazar, and I was
sitting sunk in my thoughts when a hard knock was heard on the
gate. It was the second gate. And soon the farrashes poured in,
saying that they had come to release Mulla 'Ali. I thought they had
come to get me. (Tarikh-i-Samandar, p. 45)

Samandar tried then to rescue his papers, but they espied him and
held fast to him. He was carried out of his house and subjected to
close questioning. All that while the nephew of Mulla 'Ali was
lashing him with his waspish tongue. But Samandar kept calm and
told his tormentors that they could search everywhere in the house
for Mulla 'Ali, but they would be wasting their time because the
Mu'allim was not there; he had been there, but had gone away. He
was returned to his home, while the search went on, which was in
vain. Samandar's household was naturally alarmed, the women and
children distressed, but he asked for a hubble-bubble to be brought
for him and the farrash-bashi. They sat down quietly by the
flower-bed and had a smoke together, while the intense search
continued for Mulla 'Ali. Once the farrashes were satisfied that
the man whom they sought was indeed not in that house, they
prepared to leave, taking Samandar with them. They realized they
had made a great mistake, but no one was prepared to admit it. In
the meantime the rabble was growing in number, and the
ill-intentioned nephew of Mulla 'Ali was becoming louder with his
denunciations. Samandar was threatened with death, but as dignified
as ever he kept calm and unruffled. While the mob was thickening
and chaos increased, the deputy-governor made his appearance. He
and the farrash-bashi took counsel together and came to the
conclusion that Samandar was telling the truth and others were
prevaricating. He was allowed to return home accompanied by
farrashes who were suitably compensated.

Now, back at home, Samandar was given letters that had come from
Tihran. They all conveyed the news that Baha'is were being
arrested, and more of them would certainly soon be seized. For the
time being, however, there was a pause, because Sultan-Murad Mirza,
the Hisamu's-Saltanih, had died. This despotic and self-willed
uncle of Nasiri'd-Din Shah had in his time caused misery and
hardship in the realm. Baha'is too had suffered at his hands.
Samandar and his compatriots in Qazvin had been warned to take
precautionary measures before they were engulfed. Samandar writes: <p204>
This matter caused fresh alarm. It was decided that I should leave
that night and go to a place not well known, and see what the
unknown morrow would bring. I told my cousin, who, in those days,
was with me in the trading-house, to send a number of sugar-cones
as a gift to the farrash-bashi... In the darkness of the night, I
gained the residence which was in an obscure quarter. Within two
days, a telegram came from Rasht announcing that my cheque had not
been met. The owner of the goods concerned had rushed to my house
and to my place of trading, demanding his money. But I had no ready
money available. (Tarikh-i-Samandar, pp. 48-50)

Then Samandar proceeds to explain that it was obvious that
adversaries were at work; otherwise there was no reason for
dishonouring his cheque. Next he moved to another house, more
distant than the previous one. The owner of this second house, in
Samandar's own words, was of the 'people of the Evangel' (the New
Testament: i.e. Christian). 'He showed the utmost kindness,'
Samandar writes. 'He even told me that whatever money I required
to go away he would put at my disposal.' But Samandar had sixty
tumans brought from his own trading-house, which he left in the
care of his host. Samandar had decided to leave because all the
news coming from Rasht was bad. The Baha'is in charge of his
trading-house--Haji Nasir and his son--had been detained. He was
on the point of leaving his home town when he received a message
from a relative, advising him to consult with a few others before
taking an irrevocable step. So, Samandar tells us, he rode the
following night to the home of that relative, where two other
Baha'is had been called to meet him. The man who was owed one
hundred tumans had called several times demanding his money.
Samandar, as he states himself, had intended to pay him in kind
from the goods in his warehouse. One of those present offered to
lend Samandar five hundred tumans right away, which he was
reluctant to accept. But the host, a very wise man, intervened to
persuade Samandar to accept the loan. Thus the creditor was paid
the next day. Samandar states that when he came to pay back the
loan, the lender refused to charge him any interest.

Samandar had to stay nearly three weeks in the house of this
relative, and then a well-known siyyid, also a merchant, who was
highly esteemed in Qazvin and was not a Baha'i, escorted him to his
own home; and no one dared to lift a finger against him.

Samandar's own deliverance from grave dangers was dramatic, but he
had soon to mourn the cruel loss of a dear and close friend: no
less <p205>
a person than Haji, the survivor of the holocaust of Shaykh
Tabarsi, in whose company he had attained the presence of
Baha'u'llah. Haji Nasir was thrown into prison, as was his eldest
son, Aqa 'Ali. As a result, Samandar's business activities in Rasht
were totally halted. Considerable effort was required to prove to
the authorities that the prisoners were agents for Samandar and did
not own the trading-house in Rasht. In the meantime, Haji Nasir,
now advanced in years, could not withstand the rigours of
incarceration and passed away, a martyr in the path of Baha'u'llah.
When his corpse was brought out of the prison the rabble of the
town assaulted it, tore his eyes out of their sockets, cut off his
nose, and subjected the lifeless body to divers insults. A decent
burial was denied to it. It was dragged to a ruined spot and there
pelted with stones until well covered.

The Mu'allim, Mulla 'Ali, when he returned to Qazvin sought out a
friend in the service of the government, and presented his case
proving the falsehood of the accusations brought against Samandar.
The governor intended to arrest Mulla 'Ali's nephew, who had been
the cause of all the mischief. But the young man fled the town,
only to come back, years later, apologetic and remorseful. And
Mulla 'Ali returned to his post, tutoring the sons of Samandar. In
appreciation of the services of Mulla 'Ali, Baha'u'llah instructed
Haji Amin[1] to present to him an 'aba on behalf of Himself. The
Mu'allim, as Samandar himself has written, lived for nearly
thirty-six years in the home of that incomparable promoter of the
Faith. Such are the words of Baha'u'llah, immortalizing the
life-long service of Mulla 'Ali:
[1. Haji Abu-l-Hasan-i-Amin-i-Ardikani, the Trustee of the

We have accepted that which he hath achieved in the path of God,
the Lord of all the worlds. Say: O Mu'allim! Thou art the first
teacher who hast attained the good-pleasure of God and hast been
mentioned by Him in His conspicuous Book. We bear witness that thou
hast attained that which was sent down from My holy Kingdom and
recorded in My Most Holy Book, and thou didst observe that which
thou wert commanded by thy Lord, the Supreme, the All-Powerful.
Verily We have ordained these verses to be thy recompense for that
which thou didst accomplish in the path of God, and have sent them
unto thee that thou mayest render thanks unto thy Lord, the
All-Commanding, the All-Knowing. Thereby have We immortalized thy
name and made it to be remembered in all of the centres of learning
in the world. Verily, thy Lord is the Omnipotent, the Almighty.
Rejoice by reason of what hath flowed from My Most Exalted Pen in
the prison of 'Akka, as a token of Our grace unto thee and unto all
who have held firmly to the Cord <p206>
that no man can sever. Glory be unto thee and unto all learned men
who have come to recognize this mighty Cause. 0 Samandar! Convey
to him that which hath been revealed for him. God willing yet
another revelation of loving kindness will reach him. A garment of
honour will also be bestowed on him, though it be only a robe. But
that robe is, in the sight of God, more valued than that which the
kings and rulers possess. 0 Samandar! The Mu'allim hath attained
unto that which most of the people are unable to comprehend. Verily
thy Lord is the All-Knowing, the All-Informed. (Quoted in
Ishraq-i-Khavari, Ma'idiy-i-Asmani, vol. 8, p. 193)

Samandar attained the presence of Baha'u'llah in 'Akka twice, and
went for a third time on pilgrimage to the Holy Land during the
early years of the Ministry of' 'Abdu'l-Baha. Of his first
pilgrimage to 'Akka he writes:

In the month of Sha'ban AH 1290 [October 1873] this servant, with
bales of merchandise consisting of silk and coarse silken material,
left Qazvin for Rasht, accompanied by Haji Muhammad-Hasan, the
goldsmith, my own maternal uncle (who had his wife and
mother-in-law with him), Haji Mulla <p207>
Baba, Kallih-Darri'i, and Aqa 'Abdu'llah, the son of the late Mulla
Malik-Muhammad-i-Qazvini. There we attended to our business
concerns, and took with us Haji Muhammad-Nasir [the martyr][1] who
was in charge of the trading-house in Rasht, and went on our way.
In those days there was as yet no railway between Badkubih and
Tiflis. We travelled by commercial cart. The late Haji Nasir and
I stayed in Istanbul for trading purposes. Others in our company
went on pilgrimage to the Holy Land, while we two asked once again
for permission. When it came, we left Istanbul with
Mansur-i-Usku'i. We reached 'Akka on 11 Muharram 1291 coinciding
with the period of fasting [March 1874]. We were in His sacred
presence throughout Naw-Ruz and Ridvan. Another pilgrim at the time
was Ismu'llahu'l-Asdaq [Mulla Sadiq-i-Muqaddas-i-Khurasani]. He
spoke to us about what they had experienced in Mazindaran. Haji
Nasir [another survivor of Shaykh Tabarsi] was there too. (Quoted
in Sulaymani, vol. 7, pp. 32-3)
[1. This pilgrimage occurred a year or so before the death of Haji
Nasir, described a few paragraphs earlier.]

The encounter of those two veterans of the Faith, who had known
Mulla Husayn and Quddus, had campaigned together under their
command and had then come into each other's company~, once again,
under the shadow of the Supreme Manifestation of God, must have
been for those who witnessed their reunion an occasion hard to
match. Samandar goes on to say:

One day the Blessed Perfection, Who was staying in the house of
Aqay-i-Kalim at the Khan-i-Jurayni,[2] addressed Haji Nasir in
words such as these, as far as I can remember: 'Jinab-i-Haji! You
have toiled much and suffered much in the path of God. If you
yourself have forgotten what you have done and endured, God has
not. But the worlds of God are not confined to this world. Were it
so the Exalted Prophets would not have consented to bear such
adversities wrought by men; the Manifestation who preceded Me would
not have consented to be suspended and martyred with volleys of
malice and malignity; and I would not have consented to be dragged,
bare-headed and barefooted, in utmost degradation, from Niyavaran
to Tihran to bear untold blows.' In brief, He expounded this theme
in most excellent words. He was telling the Haji that he will be
recompensed in the worlds to come. (Quoted in Sulaymani, vol. 7,
pp. 33-4)
[2. Better known as Khan-i-'Avamid.]

Then Samandar takes care to explain that he is not reporting the
exact words of Baha'u'llah, but the purport of His utterance.

Samandar has also recorded what he heard about Napoleon III. It was
while Samandar was in Istanbul that the fallen French Emperor died.
He says that he intended, when in the presence of Baha'u'llah, to
ask Him why it was that those who had persecuted the Faith, its <p208>
Founders and followers were still enjoying power while Napoleon III
had gone the way predicted in the Tablet addressed to him. But when
he went into the presence of Baha'u'llah, such were the bounties
of that attainment that he gave no more thought to Napoleon; until
one day, unrequested, Baha'u'llah Himself spoke about the French
Emperor, and the enormities committed by the rulers of Persia and
Turkey. Napoleon, Baha'u'llah said, was godless. Intellect was his
god, and he believed that he himself was the wisest of all men. As
soon as he was challenged and found wanting, the hand of God seized
him and struck him down. Then He spoke of developments in Persia
and Turkey and told Samandar that the oppressors of these lands
would also, in due time, receive their deserts. Two years later,
'Abdu'l-'Aziz of Turkey met his doom, and in 1896, Nasiri'd-Din of
Iran, on the very eve of his Jubilee celebrations, fell before the
bullet of an assassin.

Samandar attained the presence of Baha'u'llah once again, a year
before His ascension. He writes: 'In the year 1308 [17 August 1890
-- 6 August 1891], in his company [Mu'allim's] I travelled to 'Akka
by way <p209>
of Istanbul and Alexandria, and together we attained the presence
of Baha'u'llah' (Tarikh-i-Samandar, pp. 204-5). One day when
Samandar had just left Baha'u'llah's room at Bahji and was still
standing by the curtained doorway, his ears caught these words of
Baha'u'llah, Who was pacing within; they were uttered most firmly,
most emphatically Samandar relates: 'You are going to 'Akka'; go
into the presence of Sarkar-i-Aqa.' And who could
Aqa--Sarkar-i-Aqa--be but the Most Great Branch, 'Abdu'l-Baha?
Samandar, who always sought the presence of the Most Great Branch
in 'Akka, was greatly surprised, he writes, by Baha'u'llah's
emphatic command. It was only in after years, when the
Covenant-breakers rose in rebellion, that the full purport of those
words of Baha'u'llah dawned upon him. And Samandar had reason to
remember particularly, to the end of his days, the malice of those
who had known Light and had called upon Darkness to guide them,
those who had sinned against the Holy Ghost, in the judgement of
Jesus Christ.

Samandar's account of his return from this pilgrimage with the
Mu'allim continues:

After two months we were permitted to leave. On the way home, Varqa
[the martyr] and two of his sons, also Haji Mirza
Muhammad-i-Khunsari (who was one of the mujtahids, a divine) were
our fellow-travellers as far as Rasht and Qazvin. Thereafter, he
[the Mu'allim] was always in attendance upon the Friends, in their
meetings and gatherings, reciting verses and prayers, until his
passing from this temporary phase to the world eternal.
(Tarikh-i-Samandar, p. 205)

Mulla 'Ali died towards the end of November 1913.

In the year AH 1317 (AD 12 May 1899 -- 30 April 1900), accompanied
by his wife, his son Aqa Ghulam-'Ali, the widow of his brother Haji
Shaykh Muhammad-'Ali (he who committed suicide in Istanbul because
of the base intrigues of the partisans of Mirza Yahya),[1] and Aqa
'Aliy-i-Arbab (the son of the martyred Haji Nasir), Samandar again
went on pilgrimage to 'Akka. His daughhter Thurayya had been
married to Mirza Diya'u'llah, the third surviving son of
Baha'u'llah and a breaker of His Covenant. By this time Mirza
Diya'u'llah was dead and his widow had her home in the Mansion of
Bahji with other Covenant-breakers. Samandar sought a meeting with
her and they met within the Shrine of Baha'u'llah. Samandar himself
has written the full account of all that happened on this occasion,
which was <p210>
published in Egypt shortly afterwards. It is a sorry tale and
reveals the lowest depths of human degradation. The infamous crew,
entrenched in the Mansion of Bahji, made this meeting after long
years between a distraught, uncertain, grief-stricken woman and her
caring, sorrowing parents, a scene of sordid revenge and conflict.
Thurayya, her tears flowing, complained bitterly that they had
unjustly neglected her. Samandar tried gently to reason with her
and asked her to come away with them, but Thurayya refused: she
would never depart from the vicinity of her husband's grave.
Diya'u'llah was buried in a room next to the inner Shrine of
Baha'u'llah.[2] An old hag had been sent to watch the meeting
between Thurayya and her parents. As soon as Mirza Ghulam-'Ali
caught hold of his sister's hand to lead her to the Pilgrim House
nearby, the old woman shouted horribly at Thurayya, who screamed
in return. At that, a number of Mirza Muhammad-'Ali's partisans
rushed in and dragged Samandar and those who were with him into the
Mansion, cursing and beating him all the while. There they were
detained, howled at and jeered by a mob. Mirza Aqa Jan, the
faithless amanuensis of Baha'u'llah, and Javad-i-Qazvini were
foremost amongst them. And in the meantime, the fickle Mirza
Badi'u'llah, the youngest son of Baha'u'llah, and Mirza
Husayn-i-Khartumi, who had had the honour of being Haji Mirza
Haydar-'Ali's companion in captivity but had gravitated towards the
arch-breaker of the Covenant, hastened to the Seraye [Government
House] in 'Akka, shamelessly reporting to the authorities that a
group of people had come ostensibly to visit the Shrine of
Baha'u'llah and had stayed on till nightfall, in order to kidnap
a woman. The Mutasarrif sent an interrogator with a number of
horsemen to Bahji. They put Samandar, his wife, son and two others
who were with them in a carriage and took them to 'Akka. There they
were driven straight to the Master's house and left. When informed
of the base behaviour of the Covenant-breakers, 'Abdu'l-Baha
Himself went to see the Mutasarrif and informed that official of
the truth of the matter. The Mutasarrif said that Thurayya should
be brought out of the Mansion and united with her parents, but
'Abdu'l-Baha forbade it. Upon Samandar, who intended to take his
case to the courts, He laid the same injunction. He, the very
manifestation of mercy, told Samandar that any action to retrieve
Thurayya would <p211>
greatly sadden Mirza Diya'u'llah's mother, who was still grieving
over his death. The interrogator who had gone out to Bahji, when
apprised of the facts of the case advised strongly that Samandar
should take action, but again 'Abdu'l-Baha would not allow it. They
had been vindictive and foolish, He said, but we should be
[1. See Baha'u'llah, the King of Glory, pp. 387-8, for
Baha'u'llah's account of his suicide.(Ed.)]
[2. In recent years. the heirs of the Covenant-breakers moved the
remains of Mirza Diya'u'llah to a building they had erected over
the grave of Mirza Muhammad-'Ali, the arch-breaker of the Covenant
of Baha'u'llah, in the vicinity of Bahji.]

An incalculable service rendered by Samandar to future generations
is his meticulous recording of events and conversations pertaining
to the Faith of Baha'u'llah. 'Abdu'l-Baha's pronouncement on the
waywardness of Lisanu'l-Mulk-i-Sipihr, the author of
Nasikhu't-Tavarikh (a massive several-volumed world history), which
Samandar has put down on paper, is particularly important. Sipihr
has commented, in common with many others, that if the Bab had
stood where He was when the first volley only severed the ropes
suspending Him, and had told the spectators to behold that rifle
shots could not harm Him, He would have scored an immediate triumph
and people, there and then, would have given Him their allegiance.
Sipihr expresses, furthermore, his glee and gratitude that the Bab
took refuge in a chamber nearby. Samandar asked 'Abdu'l-Baha to
explain to him the reason for the Bab's action. The Master, he
records, felt very strongly the presentation of this reference to
the martyrdom of the Bab; His visage changed colour, and He said
most emphatically that it was decreed by God as an incontrovertible
sign to arouse the people out of their negligence. Had the Bab not
retired to that chamber, the adversaries would not have allowed Him
to live a minute longer, and thus would have prevented people from
realizing what had happened.

Samandar was indeed both a keen observer and a keen recorder. Mirza
Abu'l-Fadl of Gulpaygan apart, there is no one else amongst the
learned men within the Baha'i fold to match him in those respects.
In one of his works, he tabulates and describes his journeys,
thirty-one in number, which he undertook from the year AH 1271, at
the age of eleven, to the year 1334, when he had reached the
seventy-fourth year of his life. These journeys were made either
for trading purposes, or for the promotion of the interests of the
Faith. Sometimes the two were combined. Here are some of his
journeys, presented and described by himself:

Seventh journey, to Tihran: Because the Tablets and communications <p212>
showed evidences of a fresh outpouring of Light causing surprise,
I set out for Tihran, accompanied by my brother, the late Haji
Shaykh Muhammad-'Ali. We stayed at Saray-i-Amir [a well-known
caravanserai]. We met the late Haji Mirza Rida-Quli [brother of
Baha'u'llah]. As it happened, Aqa Mirza Hadi, the son of Azal, was
also in Tihran. We met him as well...

Sixteenth journey, to Tihran: I believe it was towards the end of
the year 1312. The rebellion of the Covenant-breakers was being
intensified, and coming more into the open. In this journey, Haji
Muhammad Isma'il, the son of the late Haji Khalil, accompanied me.
We stayed with Mashhadi 'Ibad Bag-i-Shirvani, the Qavamu't-Tujjar
(because at that time we had trading ties). We met all of the
prominent Friends. In Tihran, I answered Khartumi's[1] letter. Aqa
Jamal[2] wanted to meet me. I refused to go to his house, and said
that he should come where I was. He did not. After some twenty days
or more and meeting the Friends, we returned to Qazvin...
[1. See p. 210.]
[2. Aqa Jamal-i-Burujirdi, one of the foremost Covenant-breakers.]

Twentieth journey, to Tabriz: 'Abdu'l-Baha had sanctioned a journey
to Zanjan and Adharbayjan. Developments had delayed this journey.
In the year 1321 I embarked upon it. [Here Samandar details the
marriages of two of his daughters, taking place at this time.] We
[Samandar had taken his nephew, Shaykh Ahmad, with him] stayed nine
days in Zanjan, at the house of Ustad Hasan, the son-in-law of Haji
Iman. Thence we went to Tabriz, staying for nearly seventy days at
the home of Haji Muhammad-'Ali Aqa, meeting the Friends. (Quoted
in Sulaymani, vol. 7, pp. 43-4. The following details of journeys
are also from this source.)

Together with his host, Samandar visited Milan, attending the
marriage festivities of Aqa Asadu'llah, the nephew of the host.
Then on his way back to Qazvin, he once again visited Zanjan to
meet the Baha'is there.

His twenty-fifth journey was to Rasht. 'This journey was undertaken
at the request of the Friends of that city, to teach the Faith.'
He stayed at the homes of Aqa 'Aliy-i-Arbab and his own son, Mirza
Ghulam-'Ali. He was in Rasht for three months, and held a special
class to teach the Bayan.

Samandar's twenty-sixth journey, sanctioned by 'Abdu'l-Baha, was
to Tihran. He writes that one of the sons of Siyyid Nasru'llah
Baqiroff, together with a son of the martyred Varqa, took him from
Qazvin to Tihran, again to teach the Faith and particularly the
contents of the Bayan. This stay in Tihran lasted for
two-and-a-half months.

The twenty-seventh journey was to Rasht. 'The members of the
Spiritual Assembly of Rasht, once again, asked me, through Mirza <p213>
Musa Khan, Hakim Bashi, to visit Rasht. Although I had just
returned from Tihran, I complied.' Accompanied by his wife, the
mother of Aqa Mirza Tarazu'llah (the future Hand of the Cause of
God), he left for Rasht. At the request of Haji Yusuf-i-'Attar, he
also took Mirza 'Abdu'l-Ghani, the son of that Baha'i friend, with
him. They travelled by carriage to Rasht. But, before long, a
Tablet of 'Abdu'l-Baha, sent from Tihran by the Hand of the Cause
of God, Ibn-i-Abhar, directed him to co-operate with Aqa Mirza
Na'im (the celebrated Baha'i poet) and Ibn-i-Abhar, in the writing
of a book in refutation of Kitab-i-Nuqtatu'l-Kaf.[1] This book had
just been published by Edward Granville Browne, under his own name
as editor, in the Gibb Memorial Series. It carried two misleading
introductions, one in Persian and the other in English. Decades
later, the Persian savant, Mirza Muhammad Khan-i-Qazvini, confessed
in writing that he personally had composed the Persian Introduction
to the Nuqtatu'l-Kaf. The English Introduction, of course, must
have been written by Edward Browne.
[1. See H. M. Balyuzi, Edward Granville Browne and the Bahha'i
Faith. The present writer has no knowledge of what happened to the
book written by Na'im, Samandar and Ibn-i-Abhar. It certainly was
not published. Shortly after, the great scholar, Mirza Abu'l-Fadl,
began writing such a refutation. But he had not gone far when his
death put an end to it. His nephew, Siyyid Mihdi, finished the
book. It was published in 'Ishqabad under the title of
Kashfu'l-Ghita' (Rending the Veil of Error). But, because of its
intemperate language and certain inaccuracies 'Abdu'l-Baha stopped
its circulation.]

To go back to Samandar's account, he states that after a stay of
only three weeks in Rasht he returned to Qazvin, and then within
a week in the company of Haji Abu'l-Hasan-i-Ardikani (Haji Amin:
the Trustee of Huququ'llah) he and his wife left for Tihran. There
he stayed in the house of Aqa Siyyid Hashim, his brother-in-law and
son of one of the five Baqiroff brothers. It took them, Samandar
writes, about two months and a half to complete the book. Whilst
busy with writing, Samandar says, he was meeting the Baha'is of
Tihran. The task finished, Samandar went back to Qazvin in the
company of Ibn-i-Asdaq, a Hand o~ the Cause of God and the son of
Mulla Sadiq-i-Muqaddas-i-Khurasani, entitled Ismullahu'l-Asdaq.

Samandar's twenty-ninth journey was to Tihran. On the 13th day of
Dhu'l-Hijjah 1332 (2 November 1914), he received a visit from Mirza
Musa Khan, the Hakim-Bashi, another stalwart Baha'i of Qazvin. The
evening of this Friday was closing in, Samandar writes, as the
lamps were being lighted. Hakim-Bashi came in with an envelope in
his hand, addressed to the two of them. It was from the Master, <p214>
instructing them to go to Tihran and help in reconciling the
members of that Spiritual Assembly, who apparently had been at
loggerheads. The next day they were on the road, and a carriage
took them quickly to Tihran where they lodged with Haji
Ghulam-Riday-i-Isfahani. Their host, whom the Guardian of the
Baha'i Faith appointed the Trustee of Huququ'llah after the death
of Haji Abu'l-Hasan-i-Amin, eventually adopted the surname of
Amin-i-Amin. Samandar and Hakim-Bashi (who defrayed all the
expenses of the journey, returning the money which Samandar had
paid) stayed for fifteen days in Tihran. Their mission, carried out
with tact and understanding, was successful.

The thirtieth journey of Samandar was again to Tihran, to assist
Siyyid Mihdi of Gulpaygan, in co-operation with a number of other
distinguished Baha'is, with the task of bringing to completion the
work begun by Mirza Abu'l-Fadl. The way Samandar refers to the
course of this task makes it abundantly clear that, at the time he
was writing, the work was far from finished. <p215>
Samandar's last journey, his thirty-first, took place in September
1915. It was to Rasht. His companion in the carriage which set out
from Qazvin was Ibtihaju'l-Mulk, whose home was in Rasht. And there
lived Samandar's son, Aqa Ghulam-'Ali, who by then had a grown-up
family. Samandar's wish was to meet all the Baha'is of Rasht, but
particularly Aqa 'Aliy-i-Arbab and Aqa 'Ali's brother. His
distinguished companion on that journey was to meet a martyr's
death within a few short years of those very happy days which these
two devoted servants of Baha'u'llah spent together in that waning
summer of 1915. In Rasht, Samandar spent most of his time meeting
enquirers in the home of a physician, Mirza Mihdi Khan. This
zealous Baha'i, a native of Hamadan of Jewish background, has
written an absorbing autobiography, which unfortunately has not
seen the light of day. Those were indeed joyous days for Samandar.
More members of his family came over from Qazvin. He stayed in
Rasht till 20 March 1916.

Old age had brought infirmities, but despite his failing sight and
increasing weakness, Samandar was tireless in serving the Cause of
his Lord. Right to the end he was active in the teaching field.
Early in 1918, in the midst of winter, Samandar winged his flight
to realms beyond. He was truly an 'Apostle of Baha'u'llah'. He was
both a man of the world, very successful as a merchant, and a
saint, the soul of rectitude and integrity. Tablets revealed in his
honour by Baha'u'llah were legion. Baha'u'llah Himself has borne
witness to this bounty bestowed on Samandar: 'Were one to collect
together all that hath been sent down unto thee of the verses of
thy Lord, he would witness a mighty book, greater than other
Tablets. This is of the grace of thy Lord. He is sufficient unto
thee, by virtue of His truth. No God is there but Him, the
Glorious, the Bestower.' (Quoted in Sulaymani, vol. 7, pp. 50-51)

Many, also, are the Tablets which 'Abdu'l-Baha addressed to
Samandar. All of them, Tablets of Baha'u'llah and Tablets of
'Abdu'l-Baha, are mirrors of the station attained by Shaykh
Kazzim-i-Samandar. <p216>

The Most Exalted Pen addressed Mirza Siyyid Muhammad, the son of
Mirza Zaynu'l-'Abidin, a close relative of the glorious Bab, as
Nuri'd-Din: the Light of Faith. He was born in Shiraz, in the year
1842, and from his infancy was called Mirza Aqa, as a letter of the
Bab to His wife indicates.

At the age of four the child was stricken by smallpox and was so
ill that no recovery seemed at all possible. He had a brother,
three years his senior, named Mirza 'Ali-Rida who also contracted
smallpox, but his malady seemed not so severe. At this time, in
September 1846, the Bab was quietly preparing to leave Shiraz to
turn to other climes, away from the domain of the Ajudan-Bashi, the
governor-general of Fars. Mirza Zaynu'l-'Abidin was a paternal
cousin of the father of the Bab, and his wife, Zahra Bigum, was a
sister of the wife of the Bab. Shortly before His departure the Bab
went to bid farewell to them. The two children, both very ill, were
asleep on a couch in the courtyard. The Bab lifted the sheet on the
bed of Mirza Aqa and prayed over him, but He paid no attention to
the elder brother. That child, seven years old, died the same night
but Mirza Aqa recovered. He was the only surviving child of Mirza
Zaynu'l-'Abidin and Zahra Bigum.

Khadijih Bigum, the wife of the Bab, was particularly attached to
this nephew and that tender feeling was much enhanced by the
content of a letter which reached her from her glorious Husband,
then cruelly incarcerated in the mountain-fortress of Maku:

Do not expect any assistance from thy brothers. They will not help,
it is enough that they refrain from insults. Overlook their faults.

Even Our enemies have not caused the like of what resulted from the
acts of Siyyid 118[1] in Isfahan. God grant that when the light of
thine eyes Mirza <p217>
Aqa reacheth maturity, he will be thy help and support. O God!
Preserve him from all the evil of the envious and the contumacious.
[1. 118 is the numerical equivalent of Hasan. Siyyid Hasan was one
of the two brothers of Khadijih Bigum. He is the Afnan-i-Kab'ir
(the Great Afnan) of future years.]

What the Bab had said of Mirza Aqa made Khadijih Bigum give special
attention to the education and upbringing of the young boy. And
Mirza Aqa was destined to have the distinction of being the third
member of the family of the Bab to believe in him.

Then came in rapid succession the triple tragedy of the martyrdom
of Haji Mirza Siyyid 'Ali (the uncle of the Bab), followed by the
martyrdom of the glorious Bab Himself, and soon the death of the
nineteen-year-old Haji Mirza Javad, the son of Haji Mirza Siyyid
'Ali, far away from home at Jiddah.

The relatives of the Bab: two other maternal uncles and in
particular the two brothers-in-law, were naturally grief-stricken
and, although not believers as yet, were known to a hostile public
as men related to the Bab and therefore suspect. No matter how hard
they tried to dissociate themselves from the newly-proclaimed Faith
and to show themselves as staunch Muslims, currying favour with the
Shi'ih priesthood, they were regarded with suspicion. Two brothers
of the wife of Haji Mirza Siyyid Muhammad, one of the maternal
uncles of the Bab--Haji 'Abdu'l-Husayn and Haji
Muhammad-Khalil--were viciously inimical, shouting abuse and
defamation in public and making the life of their sister
unbearable. Many a time it was mooted to declare these relatives
of the Bab apostate, but they managed to ride the storm although
suffering in the process, both mentally and materially. Two of the
well-known divines of the day, both related to the Bab and secretly
believers in Him, would, as far as it was feasible for them,
provide protection for any believer under the scrutiny of public
gaze. And yet tongues wagged. Immunity from the effects of the
poison constantly instilled into the body politic was not possible.
Those mujtahids were Haji Mirza Muhammad-Hasan, the
Hujjatu'l-Islam, soon to be famed as Mirzay-i-Shirazi, and Haji
Mirza Javad, the Imam-Jum'ih of Kirman.

The sorrows of the wife of the Bab, very evident and hard to
conceal; the presence of the widow and daughters of Hujjat of
Zanjan in the house where Khadijih Bigum lived; the occasional
visits of the destitute and pitiable captives brought from Nayriz
and the reluctance of the elders of the family to become involved,
all gave the young Mirza Aqa cause to think and investigate. But
these were matters that <p118>
his mind could not unravel, and he found himself asking his aunt
to throw light upon them. Although he was no more than thirteen
years old, his questing mind convinced Khadijih Bigum that the time
had come to acquaint him with the story of the glorious Bab. And
the young soul of Mirza Aqa responded with its full ardour to the
tidings given him by his aunt. The Qa'im of the House of Muhammad
had come in the Person of his own kinsman, Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad,
the Bab, Whom a wayward generation had rejected and put to death.
Love for Him--the glorious Bab, the martyred Qa'im--invaded and
conquered completely the heart of the young boy. He desired
intensely to quaff of the same cup, to give his life that the Cause
of the Bab might live and flourish. Khadijih Bigum saw unmistakably
the fulfilment of the promise which years ago her Husband had
imparted to her from the fortress wherein He was incarcerated. And
now Khadijih Bigum realized that her lion-hearted nephew was truly
destined to be a distinguished and faithful servitor of the Cause
of God.

Every day Mirza Aqa would present himself before his bereaved
aunts, Khadijih Bigum and the widow of Haji Mirza Siyyid 'Ali, to
carry out their wishes, and would from time to time take them to
visit orchards and sanctuaries outside the city, amongst them the
mausoleums of the two great poets, Sa'di and Hafiz, and a famous
orchard named Pudunak.[1]
[1. The Bab Himself oftentimes visited these mausoleums. known as
Haft-Tanrin (Seven Men) and Chihil-Tanan (Forty Men), which are
resting-places of a number of saintly figures.]

Before long the father of Mirza Aqa retired from his trading
pursuits and confined himself to farming. Mirza Aqa, now
adolescent, formed a partnership with Haji Mirza Buzurg, the
youngest son of Haji Mirza Siyyid Muhammad (an uncle of the Bab),
who was of the same age as himself. They entered the world of
commerce under the supervision of Haji Mirza Abu'l-Qasim (the
brother of Khadijih Bigum) and Haji Mirza Siyyid Muhammad. Each of
them had a capital of seven-hundred-and-fifty tumans to start with.

Mirza Aqa, whilst embarking on a business career, was also quietly
nurturing relationships with a few other Babis who lived in Shiraz.
Then it was that he determinedly turned his attention to his own
parents to help them embrace the Faith revealed by their Kinsman.
In this he succeeded and they gave their allegiance unreservedly
to the Bab. His next spiritual undertaking was not at all easy to
achieve. He <p219> <p220>
challenged boldly no less a person than Haji Mirza Siyyid Muhammad,
the uncle of the Bab. This highly revered merchant, whose
brothers-in-law were in the forefront of the bitter adversaries of
the Bab, had, as far as discretion allowed, tried to shield those
who were associated with his Nephew. He would have gone to any
length to save his Nephew from the malevolence of His foes, but to
give Him his allegiance he decidedly would not. From the very
beginning Haji Mirza Siyyid Muhammad had refused to take the path
which his martyred younger brother had taken. Now, faced with a
determined young man, only seventeen years old, he hedged himself
with traditions, both genuine and of doubtful authenticity. To fend
off the persistent appeals of his enthusiastic young relative, Haji
Mirza Siyyid Muhammad used every armour of the orthodox.

Haji Mirza Habibu'llah Afnan, the distinguished son of Aqa MirzA
Aqa, has put on paper his father's reminiscences of that spiritual
struggle between himself, a boy of seventeen, and the venerable
uncle of the Bab:

At the beginning when I broached the subject the uncle expressed
total refusal. I went on presenting proofs supporting my argument.
We went through several meetings until one day, when I was
strenuously following my line, he said with great amazement: 'Mirza
Aqa! Do you mean to say that the son of my sister is the Qa'im of
the House of Muhammad?' I replied: 'Why not?' Then he showed still
more amazement and said: 'It is strange, very strange.' I replied:
'There is nothing strange about it!' Then he became very pensive.
That made me smile. He asked me: 'Why do you smile?' I answered:
'It will not be polite if I say why.' He said: 'Do not be shy, tell
me.' I replied: 'Now that you allow me I will say it. What you said
just now is exactly what Abu-Lahab[1] exclaimed: "Is it possible
for my nephew to be a Prophet!" Indeed it was possible, and the
Nephew of Abu-Lahab was the Messenger of God. Now, would you
investigate and find out for yourself? This Sun has arisen from
your house, this Light has shone from your abode; you must feel
proud. Don't be amazed, don't seek avoidance. God the Almighty has
the power to have made the Son of your sister the Qa'im of the
House of Muhammad. The hand of God is not tied. As the Qur'an
declares: His hand is free!' Then he [the uncle of the Bab] said:
'Nur-i-Chashm, you gave me an answer which is unanswerable! What
can I say and what should I do now?' I replied: 'Firstly, it is
necessary that you go on pilgrimage to 'Iraq and meet your sister
who is there [the mother of the Bab]. Secondly, Ishan [the Blessed
Beauty] is in Baghdad. Stop there for a few days. Present your
difficulties to Him. Try, endeavour, put your trust in God. Let us
hope that you shall attain and reach faith. Man has to strive [a
reference to a Qur'anic verse].' Having <p221>
listened to me, he commented: 'It is good what you say. It touched
my heart.' (pp. 157-60 of unpublished memoirs written by Haji Mirza
Habibu'llah Afnan of his father's [Aqa Mirza Aqa] reminiscences)
[1. An uncle of Muhammad who rejected and opposed His Mission.

Haji Mirza Siyyid Muhammad, we know, went to the holy cities of
'Iraq having his younger brother, Haji Mirza Hasan-'Ali, with him;
went into the presence of Baha'u'llah without his brother; and
presented his questions--questions which evoked from the pen of
Baha'u'llah the Book of Certitude (Kitab-i-Iqan).[1]
[1. The gist of the questions presented to Baha'u'llah by Haji
Mirza Siyyid Muhammad, found amongst his papers in his own
handwriting, is given in Baha''u'llah, The King of Glory, pp. 163-5

Haji Mirza Habibu'llah has further written:

Having received and read the Kitab-i-Iqan, which contained answers
to his questions, and having attained faith and assurance, he [Haji
Mirza Siyyid Muhammad] visited the holy cities, and after meeting
his sister, the mother of the Bab, returned to Shiraz. Believers
came to visit him and received spiritual sustenance from him. He
[Aqa Mirza Aqa] used to say: 'After attaining his presence he
thanked me most profoundly and told me: "Although considering age
you are as my own son, but in the realm of the Spirit you are as
my father, because if it were not for your insistence I would never
have attained the measure of faith which is the utmost desideratum
of those who seek nearness to God." He then prayed for me with his
whole heart.' (Unpublished memoirs written by Haji Mirza
Habibu'llah Afnan of his father's [Aqa Mirza Aqa] reminiscences,
pp. 165-6)

Baha'u'llah, in those days, had not as yet declared His Mission,
but from Baghdad He was addressing Tablets to the wife of the Bab,
and to a number of devout Babis such as Mirza 'Abdu'l-Karim,
Shaykh-'Ali Mirza and Haji Abu'l-Hasan. His signature read as 152,
equivalent to Baha. The wife of the Bab always turned to

Subsequent to the return of Haji Mirza Siyyid Muhammad from 'Iraq,
Mirza Aqa and his father, Mirza Zaynu'l-'Abidin, wrote and asked
permission to travel to Baghdad and visit Baha'u'llah. Khadijih
Bigum, in order to introduce her nephew, sent to Baha'u'llah the
Letter of the Bab, the Letter already mentioned in these pages.
Both father and son were honoured with an answer, and the letters
were in the handwriting of 'Abdu'l-Baha.

In the Tablet addressed to Aqa Mirza Aqa, the receipt of the Letter
of the Bab to Khadijih Bigum is acknowledged in these words:

Then, know thou that the Letter that was of God hath reached Us,
and this is loved by Me more than anything else in heaven and on
earth, and more than aught that was or shall be. We ask of God to
bestow on thee the best of all rewards and to raise thee to an
exalted and glorious station. (Unpublished) <p222>
Time passed, Baha'u'llah was called to Istanbul, and on the twelfth
day of Ridvan, as He was about to leave the Garden of Najibiyyah
and take the road to the capital of the Ottoman Empire, He revealed
a Tablet which exists in His own handwriting addressed to Aqa Mirza
Aqa, reading thus:

Aqa in Shin[1]
[1. Sh, the 15th letter of the Persian alphabet, is pronounced
Shin. Here the city of Shiraz is indicated.]

He is the Glorious!

Hearken to what the departing Dove revealeth unto thee, as He
prepareth to leave the realm of 'Iraq--such are the methods of God
decreed for His Messengers. Let this not cause thee sorrow. Put thy
trust in thy Lord and the Lord of thy forefathers... Those who are
endowed with the insight of the spirit are independent of all that
was and shall be created, and are able to behold the mysteries of
the Cause behind the thickest veils. Say, 0 beloved of God! Fear
none and let nothing grieve thee; be steadfast in the Cause. By
God, those who have drunk of the love of God, the Glorious, the
Effulgent, have no fear of anyone, and show patience in calamity,
like unto the patience of the lover toward the good-pleasure of the
beloved. With them affliction ranketh greater than that which the
lovers perceive in the countenance of the beloved. Say, 0 concourse
of evil-doers! Ere long the Cause of God will, in truth, be
exalted, and the standards of those who join partners with God will
perish, and the people shall enter the Faith of God, the Sovereign,
the Supreme, the Ancient of Days. Well is it with those who have
now hastened forth in the love of God and received the tidings of
the breath of the Holy Spirit. Glory be unto you, 0 concourse of
believers in the unity of God.

Know then that thy letter hath reached Us, and We have given this
reply to create in thy heart the warmth of yearning, to cause thee
to turn to the paradise of this resplendent Name, to make thee
detached from all, and to enable thee to soar to such heights as
have not been attained by the wings of the worldly-wise who are not
under the shadow of God's countenance and who are indeed of the
perplexed. (Unpublished)

The news of the departure of Baha'u'llah from Baghdad, and of the
hostile behaviour of the governments and the high officials of the
two empires, Persian and Ottoman, trickled through to Persia and
caused consternation amongst the Babis. But when the Tablet
addressed to Aqa Mirza Aqa reached Shiraz, it brought not only
relief from anxiety, but great happiness. The promise of the Bab
had been fulfilled: 'Him Whom God shall make manifest' had come
forth. Now, at least for the time being, joy and exhilaration
prevailed. Although sorrow, much sorrow, was to come; the
Manifestation of God was to suffer and suffer grievously; yet the
very fact of His <p223>
Advent reanimated the community of the Bab and gave the Babis,
hereafter to be known as Baha'is, vigour renewed.

In Shiraz Aqa Mirza Aqa, the recipient of such a powerful Tablet
in the handwriting of Baha'u'llah Himself, stepped into the arena
of teaching, more than ever determined to serve his Lord, to make
his fellow-citizens aware of the precious hour in which they lived.
There were still many people alive in Shiraz who remembered vividly
the day when the glorious Bab stood on the pulpit of Masjid-i-Vakil
and spoke to the multitude, who remembered the cruelties inflicted
on Him and His faithful followers, who remembered the parading of
Quddus and Ismu'llahu'l-Asdaq in the streets of their city. Aqa
Mirza Aqa made friends with a number of those men who were well
known for their integrity and succeeded in clearing away their
doubts. <p224>
About fifty of them, members of a family known as Khayyat (Tailor)
thus embraced the Faith. Mulla 'Abbas-'Aliy-i-Shamsabadi, who
hailed from the district of Marvdasht,[1] was one who came into
the Babi fold subsequent to the incident in the Mosque of Vakil.
Aqa Mirza Aqa sought his aid in establishing friendly relations
with the prominent men of Marvdasht. His efforts led to the
conversion of Haji Muhammad-Kazim-i-Nasrabadi, a mystic of his time
and very powerful in the area of Ramjird. Mirza Mihdi
Khan-i-Fathabadi, a noted poet, was another convert. Karbila'i
Hasan Khan and Karbila'i Sadiq, both of Sarvistan, who had just
learned of the Cause of Baha'u'llah, and Muhammad-Hashim Khan of
Band-i-Amir[2] found in Aqa Mirza Aqa a highly trustworthy and
efficient agent to attend to their affairs in Shiraz, which were
indeed considerable.
[1. Persepolis is situated in the area of Marvdasht.]
[2. Bendemir of Thomas Moore's 'Lalla Rookh' (Lalih-Rukh).]

Aqa Mirza Aqa was regularly corresponding with Sultanu'sh-Shuhada'
(King of the Martyrs) and Mahbubu'sh-Shuhada' (Beloved of the
Martyrs), the two brothers, Mirza Hasan and Mirza Husayn, whom the
treachery and bad faith of the Imam-Jum'ih of Isfahan and Prince
Mas'ud Mirza, the Zillu's-Sultan, later sent to their deaths. (See
chap. 3.) He also had business dealings with them. Unfortunately
most of their correspondence has been lost with the passage of
time, but what remains speaks eloquently of their intimate
friendship and of the conditions under which the Cause of
Baha'u'llah had to fare in those early days.

It was from Adrianople that Baha'u'llah sent Nabil-i-A'zam to 'Iraq
and Iran, bearing the tidings of the Advent of Him Whose Name
adorns all of the Scriptures of mankind. Furthermore, Nabil had
been appointed by Baha'u'llah to perform the rites of pilgrimage
on His behalf in the House of the Bab. Nabil reached Shiraz by the
way of Bushihr and stayed at the house of Aqa Mirza Aqa. Prior to
anything else he proceeded to perform the rites of pilgrimage. He
knew by heart the Tablet of Hajj (Pilgrimage). When night fell he
left the city, and as dawn broke from the heights overlooking
Shiraz, Nabil could discern the outlines of the city. Then he began
to recite the Tablet of pilgrimage and walked on to descend into
the plain. Having gone through Darvazih Qur'an--the Gate of
Qur'an,[3] within a distance of <p225>
a thousand paces from the gate to the city he stopped at a
building[1] reared by Karim Khan-i-Zand, and made his ablutions in
the waters of Rukni (Ab-i-Rukni). The waters of Rukni or Ruknabad
have been eulogized by the great poet Hafiz. Then, having completed
his ablutions, Nabil perfumed himself, put on a decorous and costly
robe, and walked on towards the city. The sun had not yet risen
when he reached the city-gates. There, lost to the world, he
prostrated himself and put his forehead on the ground, on the
sacred soil of Shiraz. The muleteers and the attendants of
caravans, who were leaving the city at that early hour, were
puzzled by the sight of Nabil, and thinking that he had swooned
sprinkled rose-water on his face. But at that moment Nabil was in
a world apart. He circumambulated the House of the Bab and
completed all the rites of pilgrimage.
[3. In an upper room over this gateway there is laid a voluminous
copy of the Qur'an, said to be in the handwriting of Imam Hasan,
the Second Imam.]
[1. Called Tanurih-Asiyabi, it was situated approximately where the
headquarters of the Gendarmerie of Shiraz stand today, in the
Qur'an Avenue.]

Before telling anyone else of the message which Baha'u'llah had
entrusted to him Nabil gave it to Khadijih Bigum, the wife of the
Bab. Upon hearing it, she immediately responded without the
slightest hesitation, and acknowledged with joy the station of
Baha'u'llah: He in Whose path her glorious Husband had given His
life. It was Khadijih Bigum, who, weeks before the encounter
between her Husband and Mulla Husayn-i-Bushru'i, had witnessed the
effulgent light of God shining from His Person, and had recognized
Him as the Qa'im of the House of Muhammad. And now, at once, she
gave her allegiance to Baha'u'llah. To this immediate, unqualified
response which was evoked from the heart and the soul of Khadijih
Bigum, the Most Exalted Pen has testified abundantly:

O My Leaf!... Thou art with the Supreme Companion, and this Wronged
One is making mention of thee in the Prison of 'Akka. Thou art she,
who, before the creation of the world of being, found the fragrance
of the garment of the Merciful... Thou art the one who, as soon as
the call uttered by the Lord of the Kingdom of Names reached thy
hearing, turned to Him, and was so attracted as to lose all
restraint! (See Faydi, Khanadan-i-Afnan, pp. 1 and 3 of a 4-page
Tablet attached to p. 185.)

Having delivered the message of Baha'u'llah to Khadijih Bigum,
Nabil turned his attention to others of his co-religionists in
Shiraz, meeting them individually or in groups. The Baha'is, for
their part, became greatly attached to Nabil, ready to do his
bidding. Feeling the great eagerness and total devotion of the
Baha'is of Shiraz, Nabil then <p226>
took another step. He called all of them together to a large
gathering and asked them to bring along every Tablet, every book
related to the Cause which they had. Let us hear of what happened
in the words of Aqa Mirza Aqa, as recorded by his son, Haji Mirza

As requested by Nabil I invited the friends to come to a meeting,
and I chose the house of Mirza 'Abdu'l-Karim as the place for
holding this meeting because his house was well-appointed. The
uncle [Haji Mirza Siyyid Muhammad] was particularly invited to come
and grace this meeting. When all had arrived Nabil spoke. He
declared the Advent of 'Him Whom God shall make manifest', He Whose
Revelation had been promised in the Bayan. That Supreme
Manifestation of Godhead, he stated, was Baha'u'llah and none
other. Next he divided the writings which the Baha'is had brought
with them into three sections. Taking up the first section, he
said: 'These are from the pen of the Primal Point [the Bab],
sacred, precious, very dear to us.' Then he pointed to the second
portion and said: 'These are revealed by "Him Whom God shall make
manifest". The Bab promised His Advent, made the acceptance or
rejection of all He had revealed in His own Book, the Bayan,
dependent on the good-pleasure and all-pervading will of that
Supreme Manifestation, and warned us not to tarry for a moment but
to give Him when He comes instant recognition and allegiance. We
have been barred by the Bab from taking the wayward path followed
by the people preceding us, thus straying into the wilderness. He
[Baha'u'llah] is that Supreme Manifestation of Godhead in Whose
path the Bab sacrificed Himself, with His own blood pledging His
brave and devout followers to remain constant and faithful, not to
deprive themselves of the bounty of responding to the call of the
Speaker of the Mount. Now all that was promised in the Bayan and
in the Qayyumu'l-Asma' has come to pass. Note the Qa'im [the Bab]
and the Qayyum [Baha'u'llah]. Note the pronouncement of the Bab
regarding the year nine when all good would be realized. Indeed
that prophecy is fulfilled. It is Baha'u'llah Who is leading us to
the understanding of the Cause of God. Whoever ranges himself under
His shadow is of the people of the Light, and whoever takes himself
away is of the people of the nether world and totally cut off from
the reality of the Cause of the Bab.' He [Nabil] spoke in that vein
for nearly an hour.

Then he [Nabil] took up the third portion of the writings and said:
'These belong to doubters and people of wrong thought and their
place is in the fire.' Saying that, he threw them into the
fire-place where a fire was burning. This action of Nabil caused
an uproar and protest; particularly Haji Mirza Siyyid Muhammad, who
did not expect such action on the part of Nabil in his presence,
was very angry and vociferously protested, saying time and again:
'Do you take faith to be like weed; you cut it in daytime and it
grows again during the night?'

Then it was that this servant intervened and spoke. Aqa Mirza
'Abdu'l-Karim, Haji Abu'l-Hasan and Shaykh-'Ali Mirza came to my
aid. Courteously and humbly it was put to him: 'Firstly,
investigate for yourself to find <p227>
the truth of Nabil's words. Secondly, you should know for a
certainty that, according to the text of the Bayan, no one save
"Him Whom God shall make manifest" has the temerity to put forth
a claim so great. Regard the Bab: despite His virtues, the truth
which He bore, the guidance which was His to give, He was made the
target of malice and hate. He was the Truth, He spoke the truth;
and you yourself came to realize it when you attained the presence
of Ishan [Baha'u'llah] in Baghdad, when He resolved your
difficulties and within the span of two nights revealed for you the
Kitab-i-Iqan, thus dispelling all your doubts. Even if revealing
that book should not provide the proof needed for anyone else, it
should be the entire and complete proof for your person, leaving
not the slightest doubt and giving you the assurance that He is the
Truth, that turning away from Him is the very essence of
waywardness. (Unpublished memoirs written by Haji Mirza Habibu'llah
Afnan of his father's [Aqa Mirza Aqa] reminiscences, pp. 169-73)

Haji Mirza Siyyid Muhammad said no more. But Nabil did not cease
following up his course until the uncle of the Bab openly declared
his belief and recognized the station of Baha'u'llah. In subsequent
meetings, in the presence of all, Haji Mirza Siyyid Muhammad
prostrated himself to render thanks for having been guided to the
straight path, and praised the Blessed Perfection for that bounty
of recognition. Tears of joy coursed down his cheeks. His
acknowledgement of the station of Baha'u'llah led everyone else in
Shiraz to do the same, everyone that is who had accepted the Bab.
And thus not a soul remained in the city of the Bab among His
followers who did not turn to Baha'u'llah and recognize in Him the
Redeemer of Mankind. Shiraz, the city where the Dawn had broken,
became free of blemish. It was the grace of the Bab which kept His
native town cleansed and purified.

A certain Shaykh Muhammad of Yazd lived in Shiraz. Prior to the
Declaration of Baha'u'llah he would state that He was a
Manifestation of God, but when the call of Baha'u'llah was raised
Shaykh Muhammad rose up in opposition. The Baha'is of Shiraz cut
him off. Subsequently he left and made his way to Istanbul. Thus
Shiraz remained immune from his sedition, but he caused a good deal
of mischief in Istanbul, leagued with leading Azalis.

Nabil, having brought his mission to a successful conclusion in
Shiraz, left for Isfahan. Soon after, Haji Muhammad-Ibrahim, whom
Baha'u'llah had honoured with the designation 'Muballigh' (Teacher,
Missioner), moved to Shiraz, his father's native town. Haji
'Abdu'r-Rasul, the father of Muballigh, was a convert from Judaism
to Islam. And the sister of Muballigh, Hajiyyih Bibi Gawhar, was
married to <p228>
Haji Mirza Hasan-'Ali, known as Khal-i-Asghar, the youngest of the
three maternal uncles of the Bab. Haji Muhammad-Ibrahim was a
merchant and his arrival at Shiraz did not at first cause any stir.
However, the purpose of his visit was not trading but teaching the
Faith, particularly to the remaining members of the Family of the
Bab. He directed his attention to Haji Mirza Buzurg, son of Haji
Mirza Siyyid Muhammad (uncle of the Bab), to Siyyid Muhammad-Husayn
(paternal grandfather of Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Baha'i
Faith), and to Mirza Abu'l-Hasan and Mirza Mahmud, sons of Haji
Mirza Abu'l-Qasim (the brother-in-law of the Bab). All became

Aqa Mirza Aqa also tried to bring his paternal relatives, who were
mustawfis (auditors and controllers of governmental accounts), and
the Lashkar-Nivis (Paymaster-General) into the circle of the Faith,
but there he did not succeed. These men showed such hostility that
all family ties were snapped, and two generations later the
descendants of Aqa Mirza Aqa and the descendants of these
relatives, although all of them lived in Shiraz, became total
strangers. It is a well-told tale in <p229>
the family that Aqa Mirza Aqa together with Haji Muhammad-Ibrahim
were one day locked in argument with Mirza 'Abbas, who was a son
of Haji Mirza Ibrahim-i-Lashkar-Nivis and a cousin of Mirza Aqa
(the son of a paternal aunt). Mirza 'Abbas remained adamantly
opposed. At last he said: 'If there be truth in this claim of the
Bab, let me fall down when mounting my horse outside this house,
and let the bone in my right thigh crack. ' Aqa Mirza Aqa replied:
'Ask God to illumine your heart with the light of faith, not maim
you.' But he refused to change his plea and sure enough, he met
with the accident he had mentioned, exactly at the place he had
named. The rest of his life he had to hobble with a stick, but to
faith he obstinately remained alien.

After a long stay in Shiraz, Haji Muhammad-Ibrahim went to Yazd and
promised to do his utmost to bring Haji Mirza Hasan-'Ali and Haji
Mirza Siyyid Hasan, the Afnan-i-Kabir, into the Baha'i Faith. As
it happened, Mulla Muhammad--Nabil-i-Akbar--reached Yazd at the
same time. The combined efforts of the Muballigh and Nabil-i-Akbar
convinced the uncle of the Bab and His brother-in-law that the
Faith of the Bab and Baha'u'llah was true. That victory achieved,
the only one left to be won over was Haji Mirza Abul-Qasim, the
brother of Afnan-i-Kabir. Nabil-i-Akbar, after a sojourn of about
a year in Yazd, made for Shiraz where he stayed for thirteen
months. During that time Haji Mirza Abul-Qasim yielded to the
urgent pleas of his son, Siyyid Muhammad-Husayn, and his nephew,
Aqa Mirza Aqa, and turned to Baha'u'llah. Then he was honoured with
a Tablet, and thus the circle was closed. All of the Afnans were
now safe and secure in the enclave of the Faith of Baha'u'llah.

There were two grandees in Shiraz, Mushiru'l-Mulk and
Qavamu'l-Mulk, who were most of the time at daggers drawn, bitterly
fighting over offices and posts of which the Governor disposed.
Mushiru'l-Mulk, in particular, striving to create difficulties for
his rival and to make the Governor suspicious, made the Baha'is the
butt of his intrigues. When Sultan-Murad Mirza, the
Hisamu's-Saltanih, an uncle of Nasiri'd-Din Shah, arrived as the
Governor-General of Fars, Mushiru'l-Mulk, who enjoyed the post of
the Vazir of the province, drew up a list of prominent Baha'is of
Shiraz which included the names of Haji Mirza Siyyid Muhammad and
Haji Mirza Abu'l-Qasim, and gave the list to Hisamu's-Saltanih to
persecute them. Qavamu'l-Mulk, on this occasion, intervened and
prevented <p230>
mischief. But Mushriru'l-Mulk would not sit still. He found a way
to raise an uproar. Mirza Aqay-i-Rikab-Saz was one of the early
Babis of Shiraz, having given his allegiance to the Bab after the
incident of the Mosque of Vakil. Strangely, he had close
connections with Shaykh Husayn-i-Zalim, the Nazimu'sh-Shari'ih, a
bitter enemy of the Bab. On the very day that the Bab was brought
to the Masjid-i-Vakil (the Mosque of Vakil) and asked to speak from
the pulpit, this Shaykh Husayn insulted Him and tried to hit Him
with his walking-stick. Mirza Aqa's wife was very hostile towards
the Faith and, induced by Mushriru'l-Mulk, she sold her husband to
the infamous Shaykh Husayn. That treachery led to the arrest of
Mirza Aqa. Not only this excellent calligraphist,[1] but several
Baha'is besides him were detained as well and thrown into prison,
where they endured several hardships. These were Mashhadi Nabi,
Mashhadi Muhammad-Ja'far-i-Khayyat, Haji Abu'l-Hasan-i-Bazzaz (the
mercer), Karbila'i Muhammad-Hashim, Karbila'i Hasan
Khan-i-Sarvistani, Mashhadi Abu'l-Qasim-i-Kharraz (the
haberdasher), Mirza Baqir, Mulla 'Abdu'llah-i-Fadil-i-Zarqani, and
Mulla 'Abdu'llah-i-Buka'.
[1. The frontispiece of Buha'u'llah, The King of Glory is the first
page of the Kitab-i-Iqan from the copy belonging to the author, in
the handwriting of Mirza Aqay-i-Rikab-Saz, who had a good hand at
Naskh script.]

Aqa Mirza Aqa (Nuri'd-Din) made every endeavour to bring about
their release. At last Mushru'l-Mulk himself stood bail for Mulla
'Abdu'llah-i-Fadil and Mulla 'Abdu'llah-i-Buka'. Qavamu'l-Mulk, on
the other hand, brought about the release of Karbila'i Hasan Khan,
and the Imam-Jum'ih managed to get Haji Abu'l-Hasan out of the
gaol. Mirza Baqir was heavily bastinadoed and expelled from Shiraz;
he went to Kirman, where he was martyred. Mirza Aqay-i-Rikab-Saz,
Mashhadi Nabi and Mashhadi Muhammad-Ja'far-i-Khayyat met their
martyrdom in Hisamu's-Saltanih's prison.[2] The mercer, Haji
Abu'l-Hasan, after his release, found it impossible to live in
Shiraz. He fled to the villages in the districts of Sarvistan and
Kurbal, taking with him his two sons, children of tender age (the
future Mirza Muhammad-Baqir Khan Dihqan [Dehkan] and Mirza
Muhammad-'Ali Khan). Oftentimes, he had to seek refuge in caves and
on the mountain-side to escape the venom of the foe. After a while
he returned to Shiraz and took his abode in the House of the Bab.
Every now and then he attended the Imam-Jum'ih, so that the <p231>
public should perceive his attachment to that influential divine.
Actually his wife was related to the Imam-Jum'ih. Finally he opened
a shop in the bazar known as Bazar-i-Haji.
[2. When they were martyred, the rabble in Shiraz committed
abominations. shameful to describe.]

Shaykh Salman was the courier who took supplications of the Baha'is
of Persia to the Holy Land and brought Tablets revealed by
Baha'u'llah. When in the year AH 1288 (23 March 1871 -- 10 March
187Z) he passed through Shiraz, he told Aqa Mirza Aqa that on his
return he would be bringing a pilgrim to the Holy Land to stay with
the wife of the Bab whilst in Shiraz. However, caution led him not
to mention the identity of this pilgrim and guest. Before long, Aqa
Mirza Aqa received a letter from Mahbubu'sh-Shuhada' (Beloved of
the Martyrs), stating that Aqa Siyyid Yahya and his sister would
be leaving soon for the Holy Land, and whilst in Shiraz they should
be <p232>
guests of Khadijih Bigum. Munirih Khanum (soon to be wedded to
'Abdu'l-Baha) reached Shiraz in Shavval 1288 (December 1871 --
January 1872), and stayed for two weeks with the wife of the Bab.
Khadijih Bigum asked Munirih Khanum to present to Baha'u'llah a
request from her: that the House of the Bab be repaired once again,
and that she be permitted to reside in it. (She had been living in
the house of the uncle of the Bab.)

Baha'u'llah granted Khadijih Bigum's request, and the task of the
restoration of the house was given to Aqa Mirza Aqa and Haji Siyyid
'Ali, a son of Afnan-i-Kabir. A mason of Shiraz, Ustad
'Abdu'r-Razzaq, a devoted Baha'i, was chosen for the work, but the
house was not restored exactly as it had been in the days of the
Bab. The work done, Khadijih Bigum took her residence there.
Fiddih, the faithful negress, attended her, and for a while very
few knew that Khadijih Bigum had moved into that house, but before
long Baha'is became aware of it and started frequenting it more and
more. The fanatical residents of the houses of that street sat up
and took notice, began to whimper, and went complaining to the
mullas. Very soon it all came to the ears of Prince Farhad Mirza,
the Mu'tamidu'd-Dawlih, an uncle of Nasiri'd-Din Shah, who was at
this time the Governor-General of Fars. And so Mu'tamidu'd-Dawlih
decided to damage the House of the Bab. Two of his private
secretaries who were Baha'is immediately informed Aqa Mirza Aqa of
what the crafty prince intended to do. Mirza Aqa at once moved his
aunt and the negress attendant, at night-time, to his own house
which was close to the Jami' Mosque of Shiraz. Khadijih Bigum
stayed in her nephew's house for nearly six months.

Around this time the Baha'i community of Shiraz was prospering.
There were some two hundred men and women, amongst them a number
of very brave and devout believers, raised by the hand of the
Almighty to serve His Cause and give it victory. Foremost amongst
them stood Mirza 'Abdu'l-Karim, Mirza 'Ali-Akbar (son of the poet
known as Sabir), Mudhahibb-Bashi (the Chief Illuminator),
Shayakh-'Ali Mirza, Haji Mirza Buzurg-i-Afnan (a son of Haji Mirza
Muhammad), Mirza Siyyid 'Ali, Haji Ghulam-Husayn Khan and Mirza
Muhammad-Baqir Khan (Dihqan-Dehkan--of later years).
Mu'tamidu'd-Dawlih was still the Governor when, due to the avarice
of the Imam-Ju'mih of Isfahan and the cunning of Zillu's-Sultan,
the two illustrious brothers, Sultanu'sh-Shuhada' (King of the
Martyrs) and Mahbubu'sh-Shuhada' (Beloved of the Martyrs), were <p233>
beheaded. They had had commercial dealings with Aqa Mirza Aqa. As
the news of that foul treachery and the martyrdom of such
distinguished and well-famed men reached Shiraz, commotion came
upon the city, particularly in mercantile quarters. Since amongst
the Baha'i merchants Aqa Mirza Aqa was the most prominent, the
Afnans felt that he ought to leave Shiraz, at least for a short
while, lest Mu'tamidu'd-Dawlih should follow the pattern of
Zillu's-Sultan, his great-nephew, and attempt to extort money and,
in the process of lining his pockets, jeopardize the life of this
Afnan who was known to <p234>
everyone as an outspoken member of the Baha'i Faith. Within
twenty-four hours, Aqa Mirza Aqa was hurried out of Shiraz by his
relatives and was on his way to Bushihr, where without lingering
he took a boat to Bombay.

The martyrdom of the two illustrious brothers in Isfahan was indeed
very hard for Aqa Mirza Aqa to bear. They had been life-long
friends and business associates. Baha'u'llah honoured him, in this
period of engulfing sorrow, with this Tablet:

He is the Comforter, the All-Knowing

0 My Afnan! That which thou hadst repeatedly sent to our Name Mihdi
was read in Our presence, and from it We sensed the fragrance of
sorrow caused by this calamity which hath robed the Temple of
Grandeur with the garment of grief. Thy Lord is, in truth, the
Source of praise, the All-Knowing. Verily, over this supreme
affliction My Most Exalted Pen hath lamented. To this beareth
witness what the Maker of the heavens hath sent down in His
manifest Book. Well is it with him who recalleth those who met a
martyr's death in the path of God, whether in former or in recent
times, or in these days, and readeth what was sent down for them
from God, the Lord of the worlds. 0 My Afnan! Verily the divine
Lote-Tree hath moaned and the Rock hath cried out, but the
evil-doers are deep in slumber. Ere long the scourge of the wrath
of thy Lord shall make them aware. Verily, He is the All-Knowing,
the All-Informed. 0 My Afnan! It is incumbent on everyone who hath
drunk of the wine of the love of God to share, with the denizens
of the Supreme Concourse, in this supreme affliction and great
calamity, for they mourn as they see the utmost sorrow of this
Wronged One-the evidence of His grace, His fidelity and His bounty.
Verily, He is the Gracious, the Ancient of Days. Nevertheless thou
and all the other beloved ones of God should evince the utmost
resignation, acquiescence, patience and submissiveness to the will
of God... (Unpublished)

And there were other Tablets revealed by Baha'u'llah concerning the
martyrdom of the twin luminaries of Isfahan, addressed to Aqa Mirza
Aqa and others of the Afnans in Shiraz and Yazd.

Aqa Mirza Aqa arose, as was his wont, to propagate the Faith of
Baha'u'llah in Bombay, where he resided at 5 Appolo Street. Haji
Mirza Muhammad-i-Afshar and Haji Muhammad-Ibrahim-i-Muballigh were
both in Bombay and aided his efforts. He gave the message of
Baha'u'llah to anyone who was willing to listen. One of these was
named Muss, of Jewish background. This merchant and his family came
into the circle of the Faith and went on pilgrimage to the Holy

Although away from Shiraz, Aqa Mirza Aqa was constantly <p235>
attending to the welfare of the wife of the Bab, writing to her and
sending on her letters to Baha'u'llah. And this brave, dedicated,
indefatigable man's services in every field of Baha'i activity
evoked from the Most Exalted Pen a Tablet which conferred upon him
the designation of Nuri'd-Din--the Light of Faith.

0 My Afnan, upon thee rest My Glory, My Bounty and My Mercy.
Verily, the Servant-in-Attendance [Mirza Aqa Jan] came and made
mention of thee in Our presence. We therefore extolled thee in such
wise as to cause the cities of remembrance and utterance to be set
ablaze. Verily thy Lord is the Supreme Ruler over all things. We
have named thee, at this moment, Nuri'd-Din. We beseech God that
He may ordain for thee that which will draw thee near unto Him and
be of profit to thee. He verily is the All-Gracious, the
All-Knowing, the All-Wise. (Quoted in Faydi, Khanadan-i-Afnan, p.

* * * * * * * * * *
[Electronic editor's note: In the Foreward to this book, p. x,
Moojan Momen writes: '...the present writer has contributed short
accounts... [The] additions are clearly indicated in the text ...
where the added material follows a line of asterisks.']

Then in 1882, the wife of the Bab passed away and Zahra Bigum--her
sister and Aqa Mirza Aqa's mother-took up residence in the House
of the Bab on the instructions of Baha'u'llah. Later, Baha'u'llah
made <p236>
custodianship of the House of the Bab a hereditary office among her
descendants. Zahra Bigum passed away in 1889 and the custodianship
became the responsibility of Aqa Mirza Aqa, although he was at that
time resident in Egypt, where he had established his trading-house
in Port Sa'id. In July 1891, less than a year before the Ascension
of Baha'u'llah, Aqa Mirza Aqa arrived for pilgrimage in Haifa with
members of his family. The story of this pilgrimage, which lasted
for nine months and encompassed many episodes of great interest and
significance, is the subject of chapter 41 of Baha'u'llah, The King
of Glory, as described by Haji Mirza Habibu'llah, the son of Aqa
Mirza Aqa, in his autobiography.

In 1903, 'Abdu'l-Baha issued instructions for the restoration of
the House of the Bab exactly as it was in the time of the Bab. Aqa
Mirza Aqa (who was the only living person who remembered the
details of the house as it had been) came to Shiraz and, with the
assistance of the believers there, undertook the task even though
these were difficult times for the Baha'is and persecutions had
erupted in many parts of the land. The restoration was almost
complete when Aqa Mirza Aqa took ill and passed away on 15 November
1903. <p237>
The Angel of Mount Carmel

A shining, world-illuminating day is the night
of godly men,
Verily, the enlightened know not the gloom
of a darksome night.
- - - - - - - - - - - - Sa'di

Western Baha'is who came on pilgrimage to the Holy Land in the
latter years of the Ministry of 'Abdu'l-Baha met, at times, on
Mount Carmel a very old man, bent with age. His dignity, serenity
and vivacity so profoundly impressed and moved them that they spoke
of him as the Angel of Mount Carmel. That aged man was Haji Mirza
Haydar-'Ali of Isfahan, a well-tested veteran of the Baha'i Faith.
His <p238>
long life had been a mighty adventure of the spirit--a remarkable
and rich story to tell. In the evening of his life, in the shadow
of the Mountain of God, he wrote it down at the request of Aqa
Khusraw Biman,[1] a Persian Baha'i of Zoroastrian background
residing in Poona, India; and gave his book the title:
Bihjatu's-Sudur--The Delight of Hearts. Aqa Khusraw had it
published in India, in the year 1913. The odyssey of Haji Mirza
Haydar-'Ali does not merely delight the heart; it stirs the soul.
[1. Aqa Khusraw kept a hotel in Poona close to the railway station.
It was called the National Hotel and was the best in the town. Many
Baha'i functions of early days took place in that hotel. The
present writer has vivid recollections of the dignified, kindly
gentleman to whom the National Hotel belonged. (See illustration,
p. 260.)]

In the Public Record Office in London documents are deposited that
touch upon a wondrous episode in the life of Haji Mirza
Haydar-'Ali: his arrest in Cairo in the company of a number of his
fellow-believers and their banishment to the Sudan. The archives
of Yale University in the United States likewise contain documents
that further expose the malignancy of those who were responsible
for the banishment of those Baha'is.

Some time towards the end of Baha'u'llah's sojourn in Adrianople,
when the insubordination of Subh-i-Azal and his coterie of
mischief-makers had already moved to a climax, Haji Mirza
Haydar-'Ali attained the presence of Baha'u'llah. He stayed for
seven months in that uneasy city. Then, he was directed to Istanbul
to take charge of communications. However, before long
circumstances made him desirous of a change of residence, and
Baha'u'llah instructed him to go to Egypt, and to be very
circumspect. In a Tablet revealed soon after, addressed to him,
Baha'u'llah clearly presaged the perils that awaited him. On the
same boat which took Haji Mirza Haydar-'Ali and his companion,
Mirza Husayn, to Egypt there was also another Baha'i, Haji
Ja'far-i-Tabrizi, travelling in commercial pursuits. He was the
same dedicated man, who, later in Adrianople, cut his throat when
he learned that the Ottoman authorities had decided to exclude him
from the group of the Baha'is who were to be banished with
Baha'u'llah. However, on this boat Haji Ja'far and Haji Mirza
Haydar-'Ali were not to show any sign that they had known each
other in the past, and their transactions and treatment of one
another were to be entirely on the basis of commercial clients:
sellers and <p239>
buyers of goods. But, when Haji Mirza Haydar-'Ali reached Egypt,
he found his compatriots there very hostile and suspicious, for
Persians of Istanbul had done their worst. The accusations which
they had levelled against Haji Mirza Haydar-'Ali were both
ludicrous and enormous; of course they were accusations which
stemmed from the fact that he was a Baha'i. He had been told by
Baha'u'llah to be very discreet, but now he realized that he must
seek a middle course between any attempt at concealment of his
faith, which was pointless, impossible and derogatory, and a bold
assertion of it in the face of solid, fanatical and blind
opposition. And he found that middle course and won the hearts of
his prejudiced, hostile compatriots. He told them that they had
been sadly misinformed: it was totally untrue that he and his
co-religionists had denied the Holy Prophet of Islam and His
illustrious Book; he and his co-religionists believed in Muhammad
and the Qur'an with the whole intensity of their souls. It was
equally untrue, Haji Mirza Haydar-'Ali assured those Persians of
Egypt, that he and his co-religionists had assumed the appellations
that fell exclusively within the domain of the Imams of the House
of Muhammad. They believed in the Holy Imams and would never brook
any disrespect towards them. He and his co-religionists, Haji Mirza
Haydar-'Ali asserted, were forbidden to engage in futile verbal
disputes. They presented what they had to present with love, with
compassion, with understanding.

Let us recall what Haji Mirza Haydar-'Ali told Edward Granville
Browne, at Isfahan in 1888, two years before Browne visited 'Akka
and witnessed the power and the majesty that emanated from the
person of Baha'u'llah. Browne wrote:

...I learned ... that he ... was one of the chief missionaries of
the new faith, for which he had suffered stripes, imprisonment, and
exile more than once. I begged him to tell me what it was that had
made him ready to suffer these things so readily. 'You must go to
Acre,' he replied, 'to understand that.'

'Have you been to Acre?' I said, 'and if so, what did you see

'I have been there often,' he answered, 'and what I saw was a man
perfect in humanity.'

More than this he would not say (A Year Amongst the Persians, pp.

Having disarmed the adversaries, Haji Mirza Haydar-'Ali could,
then, consort with his compatriots in amity and mutual respect. He <p240>
says in his autobiography that he and his companion, Mirza Husayn,
were oftentimes invited to the homes of the notables of the Persian
community. He gained not only good friends for the Faith which he
professed, but eventually he led some of them to give their own
allegiance to that Faith. Haji Muhammad-Hasan-i-Kaziruni became a
Baha'i but did not avow it publicly. Haji Mirza Javad-i-Shirazi,
who had known the Bab as a young boy and had met Him when He was
engaged in trading, opened his heart to Haji Mirza Haydar-'Ali and
spoke admiringly of the martyred Prophet, Whom he had encountered
in His early youth. Haji Mirza Muhammad-Rafi' was another prominent
member of the Persian community in Egypt, who became 'truthfully
attracted and strivingly friendly'.

But the case which was indeed miraculous was that of Haji
Abu'l-Qasim-i-Shirazi. He was a merchant in Mansuriyyih, very
wealthy but miserly, seventy years old. Siyyid Husayn-i-Kashani had
told him of the Baha'i Faith, but Haji Abu'l-Qasim had paid scant
attention to what he had heard. Now, meeting Haji Mirza Haydar-'Ali
he became a changed man. For twenty-odd years he had lived away
from his family who were in Shiraz, leading a solitary, miserly
existence in a caravanserai. When he fearlessly and openly espoused
the Cause of Baha'u'llah, he sent Siyyid Husayn to Shiraz to bring
his family out to Egypt and wedded his daughter to him. As we shall
presently see, this marital union caused a stir and a good deal of
acrimonious correspondence between the Persian and the British
authorities. Next, Haji Abu'l-Qasim applied to Haji Mirza Husayn
Khan, the Mushiru'd-Dawlih, Persian ambassador in Istanbul,
specifically for a passport which should take him without hindrance
to Adrianople, to the presence of Baha'u'llah. Haji
Abu'l-Qasim-i-Shirazi had, indeed, attained second birth.

As it happened, Haji Mirza Haydar-'Ali's sojourn in Egypt coincided
with Haji Mirza Safa's periodic visits. Baha'u'llah had warned Haji
Mirza Haydar-'Ali that he would meet that self-styled murshid and
to be on his guard.[1] Haji Mirza Safa was a chameleon and changing
colour came easily to him. It was known that he had the ear of the
Persian ambassador in Istanbul. Although his share of mischief in
plotting against Baha'u'llah was undeniable, Haji Mirza Safa now
began associating with Haji Mirza Haydar-'Ali in good rapport, even
going to the length of praising Baha'u'llah in tones of <p241>
awe and wonderment. But it soon became evident that the man was
indeed false, and that he had his hand in the oppression which soon
overtook Haji Mirza Haydar-'Ali. Nevertheless, only a few short
months later when Nabil-i-A'zam was detained in Cairo and thrown
into prison, it was the anger and the intervention of Haji Mirza
Safa which brought about his release from the clutches of the
Persian consul-general and his transference to a more salubrious
place in Alexandria.
[1. See Balyuzi, Baha'u'llah, The King of Glory, pp. 198-201 and
481-2. (Ed.)]

In all these cases, the real villain was Haji Mirza Hasan Khan, the
consul-general of Iran. His was the false heart, pulsating with
greed, replete with envy. All that he cared for was how to fleece
his fellow-countrymen, how to break those who were defenceless. To
begin with he showed every manner of friendliness to Haji Mirza

There was a certain Haji Mirza Husayn, an engraver of Shiraz
[writes this veteran of the Baha'i Faith], whose faith,
affiliation, avocation and path consisted of worldly pleasures and
pursuits, of good food and good bedding; and to attain these ends
he would sacrifice everything else. The Consul made use of this man
covertly to frighten away the Persians so that they should cease
consorting with me, while he himself would be associating with me
in a friendly manner, simulating sincerity and truthfulness, to
learn who were meeting me in secret. One month passed, and the
Persians stopped associating with me openly. But at nightfall some
came, either singly, or two by two; many of them avowed their
belief [in this Faith] and did not speak falsely. Then the Consul
and the engraver thought of provoking mischief and arresting me,
together with the other believers. But in Egypt there was freedom
of conscience and religion, and they could not lay their hands on
anyone in the name of faith and belief. Satanic motives and
self-ridden thoughts made the Consul and the engraver concoct a
plan... (Bihjatu's-Sudar, p. 91)

The plan was to inveigle Haji Mirza Haydar-'Ali into believing that
Haji Mirza Hasan Khan really wished to investigate and know the
truth. The engraver, an ingenious hypocrite, set about encouraging
and persuading him to believe that, and to this end meetings were
arranged in the house of the engraver himself. Then, Haji Mirza
Hasan Khan twice visited Haji Mirza Haydar-'Ali in the latter's
house, accompanied by the engraver. He was all friendliness,
expressing his disgust in regard to the attitude and behaviour of
the people. And apparently Haji Mirza Haydar-'Ali believed that his
protestations were genuine.

Next, the Haji writes about another hypocrite, a dervish from <p242>
Kashan, named Darvish Hasan. And he, too, succeeded in deceiving
Haji Mirza Haydar-'Ali, for he had played his game well and gained
the Haji's confidence. As the Haji writes, Darvish Hasan had made
himself an intermediary between the Consul, the engraver and their
intended victim. Every day he would come to the Haji with accounts
(of his own fabrication) of what the Consul and the engraver had
said or done, and would do the same with the others in regard to
Haji Mirza Haydar-'Ali. Whereas when consorting with the Baha'is
he would avow ardently his belief in their Faith, when meeting the
Consul and the engraver he would never pretend that he was a
Baha'i, and they took it that the dervish was just attempting to
be discreet.

Haji Mirza Haydar-'Ali then writes of Haji Mirza Safa's
dissimulation. That self-styled murshid claimed that he had known
the Bab during the days of His sojourn in Bushihr, and had been
greatly impressed by Him. And when he had heard, he said, that a
young Siyyid of Shiraz had raised a call, he was certain that this
Siyyid could be none other than the young merchant whom he had met
in Bushihr. He told Haji Mirza Haydar-'Ali that before long he had
come across the Ahsanu'l-Qisas (or Qayyumu'l-Asma', the Bab's
commentary on the Surih of Joseph) and also the commentary on the
Surih of Kawthar; and knowing that the Bab had received no formal
education, he could not but believe that whatever flowed from the
pen of that young Siyyid was divinely inspired. He had been to
Tabriz, he averred, to attain the presence of the Bab, but many
difficulties and hindrances arose, barring him from his object.
Haji Mirza Safa even went to the length of avowing that the Advent
of the Bab was the precursor to the Advent of Baha'u'llah. And he
visited Haji Mirza Haydar-'Ali several times. But the Haji had been

The man, amongst many of the learned and the erudite, whom Haji
Mirza Haydar-'Ali found to be truly outstanding was Mirza Ja'far
Aqa: a philosopher of immense learning and knowledge, possessed of
such eloquence and power of speech as Haji Mirza Safa could never
hope to match. He had attained the presence of Baha'u'llah in
Adrianople and given Him his allegiance. Mirza Ja'far Aqa was
particularly enchanted by the Most Great Branch, the eldest Son of
Baha'u'llah, and considered himself to be truly the servant of that
'Mystery of God' (Sirru'llah). Of others in Egypt there was Shafi'
Effendi, a Sufi murshid, who had his own hermitage and conclave of
dervishes, and was led to embrace the Cause of Baha'u'llah. Haji <p243>
Mirza Haydar-'Ali states that after what happened to him
personally, Shafi' Effendi could no longer live in Egypt and had
to leave everything and go away. Still, there was another Sufi
murshid of the Mawlavis, who had come very close to the Faith of
Baha'u'llah, a man of great influence. Haji Mirza Haydar-'Ali had
high hopes, he writes, to establish firm contacts with the
Egyptians through his good offices. But then the axe fell and the
treacherous Haji Mirza Hasan Khan, the consul-general of Iran,
wielded that axe whereby all ties were sundered. After the remove
of more than a century, that which endures is the shining example
of the 'Angel of Mount Carmel', and all that remains of Haji Mirza
Khan is a name coupled with infamy.

It was the night of the 21st day of Ramadan, the eve of the
anniversary of the martyrdom of 'Ali Ibn 'Ali-Talib, the first
Imam, a night held holy by the Shi'his--and not revered by them
alone. Haji Mirza Haydar-'Ali writes:

The Consul invited me to visit him that night in his house. All the
Persians, he said, are engaged this night with prayer and
meditation until dawn, even the servants of the Consulate go away.
There would be no one about, he stated, to cause us concern, and
we would have the whole night to consort and to talk.

There was a man, irreligious, inclined to mysticism, eloquent, of
good conversation, knowledgeable, who repudiated all faiths. He had
known me in Iran and felt kindly towards me. He came to Egypt and
heard of the Cause of God and claimed: 'I will answer them, I will
prove their falsity.' Some people, to satisfy their own
understanding and to test him and me, brought him to my home. When
he saw me, he told the intermediary: 'I am neither a believer in
this Cause, nor in the previous Causes, but I have seen this man
and know that I cannot stand up to him in any respect. To say I do
not give way and to behave unjustly, should it confound those who
are present, would firstly neither confound him, nor secondly,
confound the one who disputes with him. And to act in this manner
is far removed from equity, courtesy, wisdom, generosity and
humanity.' When the Consul offered me that invitation, this man
[whose name Haji Mirza Haydar-'Ali does not divulge] said: 'Going
to the house of the Consul is a rash act and inadvisable, because
should the Consul wish to harm thee and detain thee and inflict an
injury on thee, he cannot possibly act against thee, Egypt enjoying
freedom as she does, unless under the pretence of friendly
invitation he gets thee into his own home and under his roof and
beneath the flag of his government. Then, whatever the accusation
that he levels against thee, whatever the harm that he causes thee,
neither the Egyptian government, nor any other government can
question him and take him to task. Moreover, you have no one to <p244>
complain to other governments and stand up to the Consul.' I put
down his warning to irresolution, wild imaginings and lack of
assurance. (Bihjatu's-Sudar, pp. 95-96)

But this unnamed man, truly discerning, knew his Consul better than
did Haji Mirza Haydar-'Ali, who fell into the trap set for him by
Haji Mirza Hasan Khan. A few lines later, Haji Mirza Haydar-'Ali
adds: 'That irreligious man, whose name was Aqa Karim, now I have
remembered it...' Such are the freshness and spontaneity in the
autobiographical writing of the Haji which add immensely to its
charm and interest.

Then Haji Mirza Haydar-'Ali records the contents and some verses
of a Tablet of Baha'u'llah, addressed to him from Adrianople, in
which he is told of perils awaiting him. Thus had Baha'u'llah
addressed him:

We hear thy cry and supplication at thy remoteness from the
Dawning-Place of Lights. Be patient and do not bewail thy plight.
Be content with that which God hath ordained for thee. He, verily,
payeth the due recompense of those who are patient. Hast thou not
seen My incarceration, My affliction, My injury, My suffering?
Follow, then, the ways of thy Lord, and among His methods is the
suffering of His well-favoured servants. Let nothing grieve thee.
Put thy trust in thy Lord. He shall verily confirm thee, draw thee
nigh unto Him and grant thee victory. Should affliction overtake
thee in My path and abasement in My name, rejoice and be of the
thankful. Thus have We imparted unto thee the word of truth so that
when calamities descend upon thee, thy feet may not slip and thou
shalt be as firm and steadfast as a mountain in the Cause of thy
Lord... (Bihjatu's-Sudar, pp. 96-7)

Haji Mirza Haydar-'Ali had shown this Tablet to many, including Aqa
Karim. Trying to dissuade him from accepting the invitation of the
Consul, Aqa Karim reminded him of that Tablet and the unmistakable
warning which it conveyed. But Haji Mirza Haydar-'Ali was not to
be dissuaded. On the appointed night (the eve of the anniversary
of the martyrdom of 'Ali Ibn Abi-Talib), he, accompanied by Mirza
Husayn and Darvish Hasan, went to the house of the Persian
consul-general. The hypocritical Haji Mirza Hasan Khan received his
guests with apparent joy and open arms. They sat down to talk and
enjoy refreshments. Then, nearing the dawn, the Consul got up and
retired to his private quarters, without uttering a word of
farewell. And shortly after, his guests were told that they could
go home and a lantern was ready for them. But they soon found <p245>
themselves surrounded and led away to imprisonment. They had indeed
walked into a trap. Thus did nine years of captivity begin for the
'Angel of Mount Carmel'. Describing their capture, he writes:

Such behaviour caused astonishment. What did this mean, subsequent
to all that kindliness and expression of kindness? In any case we
rose up to depart. Only one lantern was needed, but every few steps
that we took, more lanterns and more men appeared, until some
thirty to forty men, like wolves, encircled me and the other two,
and all of a sudden each one of us was seized by eight or nine men,
as if we were Rustams[1] and men of war. We were carried in such
a way to the prison they had prepared that nowhere were our feet
touching the ground. In that prison they put chains round our necks
and our feet were fettered. Then they disrobed us and took away our
clothes, and left nothing undone or unsaid in the way of beatings
and abuse. But, praise to God, I was very happy. Day had dawned
when they left us and bolted and locked the door of our prison.
There we were all alone: Mirza Husayn, Darvish Hasan and myself.
When I spoke with joy and gratitude of our plight, I found that
Mirza Husayn was somewhat unhappy and discontented, while Darvish
Hasan was utterly distressed and unresponsive. I managed to comfort
Mirza Husayn to a degree. (Bihjatu's-Sudar, p. 98)
[1. The legendary hero of ancient Iran, immortalized by the
Shahnamih of Firdawsi.]

However, Haji Mirza Haydar-'Ali writes, Darvish Hasan began to show
the nature of his duplicity. When the time came for breaking the
fast, in the evening the Consul's servants brought the prisoners
tea and some food. Haji Mirza Haydar-'Ali remarks on the abusive
language and the impertinence of the Consul's minions. So insulting
and so insolent they were, he writes, that the food which they
served tasted venomous to the palates of the three men, held
unjustifiably and illegally in custody. He goes on to say:

They went to our house and brought everything we had to the Consul.
Of Writings, Tablets, best products and specimens of calligraphy,
and fine valuables, the Consul, Mirza Hasan Khan of Khuy, took
possession himself. What was left the others grabbed. Then they
brought some old clothes and bedding most of which were not ours,
insisting that they were. We made no enquiry regarding other
things, because it was obvious that they had helped themselves to
everything. We only said that those old clothes and bedding did not
belong to us. Whereupon they so maltreated us, so mocked and
reproved us, that we regretted having said anything to them. Next
they forced me to write a receipt and put my seal to it, declaring
that all the goods and chattels in my house had been given to me
except Books and Writings. They wrote that document in the way they
wanted, told me to copy it and seal it, and insisted that the other
two should sign it as well. Then it was found that Darvish Hasan
was illiterate. They intended that this document should serve <p246>
as a positive proof to my ownership of those Books and Writings.
Having procured what they wanted, they proceeded to put those Books
and Writings before the Egyptian authorities, indicating that He
[Baha'u'llah] was claiming Lordship and Divinity and that He had
instituted a new religion. Coupled with these statements were the
same sorts of calumnies and insinuations that people have always
levelled against the Manifestation of the Light, whenever He has
appeared. They told the authorities that these were the men who had
intended to assassinate His Majesty the Shah of Iran, and, having
failed to carry out their purpose, were now intent on murdering His
Highness the Khedive and taking possession of Egypt. And it is
certain that they have accomplices, people who are like-minded:
Egyptians, Persians and Turks in other countries... With these
accusations they beguiled the Khedive, who became apprehensive and
frightened. Thus it was that the Consul was empowered to seize
anyone whom he knew to be of this Faith. From the third day onward
they laid hands on anyone who had been consorting with me and put
him in gaol. In Mansurah, they arrested Haji Abu'l-Qasim. When they
were about to fasten him with chains, this pure-hearted, aged man
took the chain with both hands and kissed it. And on his lips were
the words: 'Bismi'llahi'l-Bahiyyi'l-Abha' [In the Name of the God
of Glory, the Most Glorious]. They had prepared a place near my
prison to receive these later detainees. The Consul had some three
hundred men arrested, Persians and others, even Christians and
Persian Jews. It came to my ears that he had covertly sent for a
number of Egyptians, asking them for what reason they had visited
my house. These men would have to bribe him to shut his mouth and
stop his reporting them to the Egyptian authorities. We could hear
the conversation of the people brought in. In any case we were very
happy because our captivity and imprisonment had come to us in the
path of God. (Bihjatu's-Sudar, pp. 99-100)

However, it is apparent that the behaviour and the talk of Darvish
Hasan caused Haji Mirza Haydar-'Ali great distress at times. And
so did the abusive and insulting language which the ruffians and
rascals in the service of the Consul used, whenever they came to
attend to the needs of the prisoners.

Haji Mirza Haydar-'Ali goes on to say:

One night, he [the Consul] invited a number of prominent Persians
and grandees of Egypt to a sumptuous festivity, and sent for me to
be brought to that assemblage, in chains, with hands tied. As soon
as I entered there, God is my witness, I saw in my mind's eye a
renewal of the court of Ibn-Ziyad[1] in Kufih and the hauling in
of the prisoners of Karbila. They wanted to keep me standing while
firing questions at me. I salaamed and sat down. (Bihjatu's-Sudar,
p. 101)
[1.'Ubaydu-llah Ibn Ziyad, the governor of Kufih under Yazid, the
second Umayyad caliph, who was greatly instrumental in encompassing
the martyrdom of Imam Husayn, the third Imam.] <p247>
And Haji Mirza Haydar-'Ali nonplussed the deceitful Consul further
still. He himself began addressing the Consul and his guests,
declaring first that it had always been the destiny of those who
had followed the Light of God to suffer darts and torment,
affliction and captivity, hardship and imprisonment in the path of
their Faith. Then turning to the guests of the Consul, he told
them: 'Ask this man', indicating Haji Mirza Hasan Khan, the Consul,
'what wrong-doing, what wickedness he discovered in me, what
plotting, what transgression he uncovered, to subject me to this
treatment.' Haji Mirza Hasan Khan of Khuy knew that he was beaten
and signalled to his minions to take Haji Mirza Haydar-'Ali away.

Another day, the Consul, still smarting under the defeat which he
had suffered, but still as vindictive as ever, took a number of the
people of Adharbayjan, pilgrims on their way to Mecca, into the
prison, and 'in order to show them', as Haji Mirza Haydar-'Ali puts
it, 'his power and authority', as soon as he came in, gave the
prisoner a blow with his walking-stick and told him: 'Speak the
truth. What is your name?' to which query he received the answer:

'But', said the Consul, 'you have been called by other names, such
as Gabriel, Katib-i-Vahy (the Scribe of Revelation),
Amira'l-Mu'minin (Commander of the Faithful).' I said that I had
never applied these designations to myself; someone else must have
done that. The Consul affirmed that. Then I said that whoever had
related that had not mentioned his name. 'But I know his name: it
is Satan, because Satan leads you to evil deeds and enormities, and
to speak against people about matters that you do not comprehend.'
[See Qur'an 2:164.] Now, I was hit by a man who said: 'Are you
insulting the ambassador?'

Next, they brought a man to the prison who demanded from me his
brother's clothes. He said that his brother had given me his
clothes to keep for him. Then he mentioned his brother's name. I
said that I did not know that man, and knew nothing about his
clothes. He became rude and aggressive, but as soon as the Consul's
men went away, he kissed me and said: 'I am
'Abdu'llah-i-Najafabadi; I have attained the Presence [of
Baha'u'llah]. Now I have come here to go on pilgrimage to Mecca and
Medina. I heard of your detention, and knew that you had been
robbed of everything. I had two Ottoman pounds and wanted to give
them to you.' (Bihjatu's-Sudar, pp. 101-2)

Haji Mirza Haydar-'Ali then relates the story of that intrepid
Baha'i of Najafabad. Aqa 'Abdu'llah had found that the only way to
meet the prisoners was to make up the fictitious account of his
brother's clothes. He stayed with Haji Mirza Haydar-'Ali for nearly <p248>
six hours . Then the Consul's men came and took him away. At
Jiddah, Aqa 'Abdu'llah met Haji Mirza Safa, the Sufi murshid whom
Baha'u'llah had mentioned to Haji Mirza Haydar-'Ali, and entered
his service. Other Persians there told the murshid that the man
whom he had taken into his service was a 'Babi' and had been to
Adrianople. When questioned, Aqa 'Abdu'llah readily admitted that
everything said about him was correct, and stated bravely that he
had never failed the murshid in serving him. Haji Mirza Safa had
no complaint on that account, and asked Aqa 'Abdu'llah what he had
seen in Adrianople. He replied: 'Whatever I had heard about the
Prophets in the past, I found there.' Then Haji Mirza Safa said:
'Why is it that so many of the learned, the divines, the
philosophers have not seen it and you have?' Aqa 'Abdu'llah was
ready with his answer. The same had happened when Muhammad came;
men of rank and learning failed to recognize Him, but Bilal, an
Ethiopian slave, then a shepherd, a seller of dates, and
Salman-i-Farsi (the Persian) did, and came to believe in Him. The
murshid was nonplussed, increased his wages and told him to go away
and not to visit Medina. Aqa 'Abdu'llah left quietly but he went
to Medina, notwithstanding. When he was reproached by Haji Mirza
Safa, Aqa 'Abdu'llah very politely pointed out that visiting the
Shrine of the Prophet took preference. Then the murshid took him
back into his service, and tried to win him away from his Faith.
But, as Haji Mirza Haydar-'Ali has it:

...he [Aqa 'Abdu'llah] said: 'The likes of us have to bear the
burden and toil, so that you and those like you should live in
safety and comfort.' [The murshid] asked then: 'What is it that
makes you and those like you so brave and so ready with your
answers?' He [Aqa 'Abdu'llah] replied: 'If ye be of the truthful
then crave for death [Qur'an 2: 88]. Stating the truth requires no
deliberation, no premeditation, no precaution.' May my life be a
sacrifice to his power of constancy. (Bihjatu's-Sudar, p. 103)

Then Haji Mirza Haydar-'Ali relates what he heard a man accused of
theft say about the 'Babis'. The room where he was kept was next
door to the main room where all others were housed, and he could
hear the conversation of the people there. This man had spoken at
length of the 'Babis', recalled all their past history and had
concluded that nothing at all can utterly destroy them. Haji Mirza
Haydar-'Ali says that that poor man was severely beaten and
tortured for having sided with the 'Babis'.

The Haji records that before long the treatment to which they [the <p249>
Baha'i prisoners] were subjected was completely changed. Their food
was restricted to half a loaf of bread and the water they were
given to drink was so little that they suffered greatly from
thirst. 'We were so enfeebled', he writes, 'that we could hardly
move ourselves.' At this juncture the two Ottoman pounds, which Aqa
'Abdu'llah had given to the Haji, came to their aid. Darvish Hasan
was all the while whining and reviling the Haji so as to win
favours from the Consul's lackeys. All this time, Haji Mirza
Haydar-'Ali relates, the Consul was busy arresting people and
fining them--sums varying from a few pounds to five hundred; before
releasing them he would send them to spit on the Haji. Some of
these wretched men felt so ashamed that they could not raise their
heads to look at him, but they were forced to do so and to spit and

Thus days passed. Then one night, as the Haji relates:

...six o'clock after sunset, they came and took Darvish Hasan away.
Next, they came for Mirza Husayn; and finally they took me away.
In the Consulate there was an array of chairs, occupied by the
Consul and members of the Egyptian police. A number of hell's
lackeys were also in evidence, as well as a number of men chained
whose hands were tied together. The Consul pointed me out and said,
'This man is the source of all mischief, he is their Gabriel and
their Prophet.' Then I was handed over to the Egyptian police. My
hands were tied very tightly behind my back. Praise be to God, that
in the path of His love and for the sake of His name, they put
heavy chains on my neck. They wrote down the names of each one of
us, and they also recorded our nativity and the names of our
fathers, and these were given to the police. We were seven Persians
and an Egyptian teacher of English. Because I was teaching him
Persian, this Egyptian was accused of being friendly towards me.
Amongst those detained were 'Abdu'l-Vahhab-i-Zanjani and
Hashrim-i-Kashani, outwardly my servants. They were my friends and
spiritual brothers. Another one of those, detained was Haji
Abu'l-Qasim-i-Isfahani. They had taken Mirza Ja'far Aqa to task for
being friendly towards me and having been seen in my company, but
had been properly told off. Shafi' Effendi, who was a murshid and
had a hermitage, found it no longer possible to live in Cairo. Haji
Abu'l-Qasim-i-Shirazi had also been detained. They made him pay a
thousand pounds to gain his freedom. He paid it and did not recant
faith. He also gave ten pounds to a Christian to give to me. That
man came to Sudan and gave me the money. The Haji passed away soon
after. His son-in-law, Aqa Siyyid Husayn-i-Kashi, was a British
subject, and everywhere he spoke of the Consul's misdeeds. He met
a martyr's death at the instigation of the Consul. There was no one
to take up the prosecution and the culprit went free.
(Bihjatu's-Sudar, pp. 105-6) <p250>
The case of Aqa Siyyid Husayn-i-Kashi became a cause celebre, when
his nationality was being hotly debated. Dispatches kept in the
Public Record Office in London, as well as a number of documents
belonging to the Persian Embassy which are now preserved in the
archives of Yale University, provide details of the controversies
aroused by the chicanery and greed of Haji Mirza Hasan Khan, the
Persian consul-general in Cairo. (See Momen, chap. 15.)

* * * * * * * * * *
[Electronic editor's note: In the Foreward to this book, p. x,
Moojan Momen writes: '...the present writer has contributed short
accounts... [The] additions are clearly indicated in the text ...
where the added material follows a line of asterisks.']

As for Haji Mirza Haydar-'Ali, he and his six fellow-Baha'is were
exiled to Khartum in the Sudan in conditions of the greatest
hardship. When they first arrived there, the minds of the
Government officials and of the people had been so poisoned against
them that they were harshly treated. Later, however, as their true
characters became known, they won the respect and admiration of
everyone in Khartum from the Governor down. After their exile had
lasted nine years, Baha'u'llah succeeded in sending one of the Arab
believers, Haji Jasim-i-Baghdadi, to Khartum with messages and
greetings for them. A short while later, in 1877, General Gordon
was made Governor of the city, and by petitioning him the Baha'i
exiles were able to obtain permission to leave.

From Khartum they made their way to Mecca and from there to 'Akka.
Here Haji Mirza Haydar-'Ali spent several months, being frequently
in the presence of Baha'u'llah. Then he was instructed to leave for
Iran. For almost thirty years he travelled around Iran, visiting
Baha'i communities and teaching the Faith. On several occasions,
both during the lifetime of Baha'u'llah and during 'Abdu'l-Baha's
ministry, he visited the Holy Land, and remained there for varying
periods of time. He also travelled in Egypt, India, Caucasia and
Turkistan. Finally, in about 1903, he came to settle permanently
in the Holy Land, where he died in Haifa on 27 December 1920.

Truly, in his long years of steadfast and uncomplaining service,
Haji Mirza Haydar-'Ali, the Angel of Mount Carmel, had fulfilled
this injunction laid upon him by Baha'u'llah (Tablets, p. 246):

We have brought thee into being to serve Me, to glorify
My Word and to proclaim My Cause. Centre thine energies
upon that wherefor thou hast been created by virtue of the Will of
supreme Ordainer, the Ancient of Days. <p251>
The Great Mujtahid

Mirza Muhammad-Hasan, known as Mirzay-i-Shirazi, was the greatest
mujtahid of his day. He was considered the sole Marja'u't-Tuqlid
for the entire Shi'ih world, which meant that all the Shi'ihs in
every country looked to him as their spiritual leader and as their
guide and exemplar in matters of application of the Holy Law of

The father of this great man was Mir Mahmud-i-Khushnivis, a
resident of Shiraz famed for his calligraphy in the Nasta'liq
style. He was a paternal cousin of the father of the Bab.

Mirzay-i-Shirazi was born on 5 May 1815 in Shiraz and received his
initial education there. He was later sent to Isfahan which was at
that time the foremost city of learning in Iran. In about 1843 he
travelled to 'Iraq but at first used to return frequently to
Isfahan, until he began to attend the classes of Shaykh
Murtiday-i-Ansari. It was then that he decided to settle in 'Iraq.
Little by little he became known as the most prominent student of
Shaykh Murtida, who was acknowledged as the leading mujtahid of the
Shi'ih world. When Shaykh Murtida died in 1864, Mirzay-i-Shirazi
succeeded him as teacher of his circle of students. Over the next
few years, his stature among the other 'ulama increased to the
point that when Siyyid Husayn-i-Turk died in 1882, Mirzay-i-Shirazi
became acknowledged as the sole Marja'u't-Taqlid for the Shi'ih
world. He is also called Hujjatu'l-Islam (the Proof of Islam),
Ayatu'llah (the Sign of God) and Mujaddid (Renewer, i.e. of Islam)
by his biographers.

In 1875, Mirzay-i-Shirazi transferred his residence from Najaf to
Samarra and remained there until his death. In 1891-2 there
occurred the famous protest against the Tobacco Regie. As a result
of a fatwa which is said to have been issued by Mirzay-i-Shirazi,
the Government of Iran and the foreign diplomatic establishment
were amazed to observe an almost complete cessation of the use of
tobacco in Iran. The Shah was forced to capitulate and the tobacco
concession was cancelled. <p252>
Mirzay-i-Shirazi died on 20 February 1895 and his body was carried
from Samarra to Najaf, where it was buried.

The story of Mirzay-i-Shirazi does not end there, however. It has
an interesting aspect from the point of view of the Baha'i Faith.
For, unknown to all, Mirzay-i-Shirazi had since his youth been a
believer in the Bab and Baha'u'llah. He only chose to reveal this
towards the end of his life and then only to a relative, Aqa Mirza
Aqa, Nuri 'd-Din-i-Afnan, who was an Afnan on his mother's side,
but whose father was a paternal cousin of Mirzay-i-Shirazi. The
events leading up to this interview have been recorded by Aqa Mirza
Aqa's son, Mirza Habibu'llah Afnan, and the rest of this chapter
is a translation of his account. (Footnotes are by the translator.

When, in 1311 [1893-4], the mother of Aqa Siyyid Husayn-i-Afnan
[Sahibih-Sultan Bigum] with her daughter Fatimih Bigum, who is the
mother of the late Muvaqqari'd-Dawlih,[1] were visiting the Holy
Shrines in 'Iraq, they went to the house of Mirza Hujjatu'l-Islam
[Mirzay-i-Shirazi] in order to introduce themselves to him.
[1. The father of Mr Balyuzi: (MM)]

After the formalities, the mother said: 'I am the wife of the late
Haji Mirza Abu'l-Qasim and this is my daughter. We would ask for
your special blessing and favour.'

'Which Haji Mirza Abu'l-Qasim?' he asked.

'The maternal uncle of Aqa Mirza Aqa,' she replied.

'Which Aqa Mlrza Aqa?'

'The son of the late Mirza Zaynu'l-'Abidin.'

Then he remembered who it was and said: 'The Aqa Mirza
Zaynu'l-'Abidin who lived near the gate of the Masjid-i-Jami'?'

'Yes,' she replied, and he was overjoyed.

'Where is Aqa Mirza Aaa now?' he then asked.

'He was living in Egypt, but it appears from what he has written
that he now intends to return to Shiraz.'

'Do you know whether he has already travelled and reached Shiraz
or not?'

'He has still not arrived.'

'How much longer are you intending to remain at the Holy Shrines?'

'We will stay for perhaps fifteen more days and when we have
completed our pilgrimage, we will return to Bushihr.' <p253>
'Please remember to do the following when you return to Bushihr.
If you find that Aqa Mirza Aqa has already passed through that town
and is on his way to Shiraz, then let it be. But if he arrives
while you are in Bushihr, please say to him from me: "Be sure to
come to the Holy Shrines and visit me, for it has been many years
that I have been deprived of meeting members of my family." And if
you leave Bushihr before he arrives, leave a message for him with
a trustworthy person that it is necessary for me to see him.'

(The late Hujjatu'l-Islam had family ties with the late Aqa Mirza
Aqa, that is to say their fathers were paternal cousins and were
also related to the father of the Bab. It was for this reason that
he was trying to arrange this meeting.)

The days of the pilgrimage of those two ladies at the Holy Shrines
drew to a close and they went to bid farewell to Hujjatu'l-Islam.
They said to him: 'We are taking our leave today.' He urged them
once more not to forget his message to Aqa Mirza Aqa and to ensure
that when he came to the Holy Shrines, he would come and see him.

After completing their pilgrimage the ladies returned to Bushihr
and on the very same day the ship carrying Aqa Mirza Aqa arrived
at Bushihr. They met each other and the ladies conveyed the message
of Hujjatu'l-Islam.

Aqa Mirza Aqa has said: 'I was very hesitant as to whether I should
go and visit or not. Eventually, I decided that I ought to go. The
same ship took me on to Basrah and from Basrah I travelled to
Baghdad. I sent a letter to Hujjatu'l-Islam saying: "In conformity
with your wishes, your message has been forwarded to me [in which]
you had stressed that when I reached 'Iraq I should visit you. I
am now at Baghdad. Whenever you appoint a time I shall come to see

'I sent the letter through one of the Arab Baha'is and instructed
him to identify himself as my messenger and then deliver it. When
the letter reached him and he realized I was in Baghdad, he sent
the following reply:

"'0 Light of my eyes! Dear and honoured one! Your letter was
received. Since at the present time there is much coming and going
of pilgrims, please remain in Baghdad for fifteen days even though
it may be an inconvenience to you. Then at the expiry of the
fifteen days, come here so that we can meet. I am very eager to
meet you. I am sending this reply with your messenger."

'After seeing this reply, I remained in Baghdad, according to the <p254>
instructions, for fifteen days. At the expiry of that time, I set
out to Samarra with a number of the Arab Baha'is. Upon our arrival,
the Arabs found a place for us to stay and we settled in there.

'The following morning I called on His Honour and found an old man
with a radiant face, sitting with pillows around him on which he
was resting. The people who were being admitted to his presence
would kiss his hand, sit in his presence for an hour or so, and
then be dismissed. I, like the others, went forward, kissed his
hand and introduced myself. He looked at me and enquired after my
health. He asked: "Where are you staying?" I did not know but the
Arab Baha'is who were with me gave the address. He did not speak
to me any more nor pay any attention to me, and after sitting for
more than one hour, I got up and again without paying any attention
to me, he said "Farewell!"

'I was annoyed at his ignoring me and was not in a good mood. "What
a thing to do," I said to myself. "I have caused myself a lot of
trouble for no reason and have come here from Bushihr to no
purpose." I was very offended. I arrived at the place where I was
staying and said to my companions, "Let us make preparations to
leave at first light tomorrow."

'At the time of the call to prayer, which was two hours before
sunrise, I was up and drinking tea, the others were busy collecting
their belongings, it was just getting light and I was looking from
the shutters towards the gate of the house when I saw an akhund
[divine] coming. When he reached the door of the house, he called
out to one of the Baha'is whose name was 'Ali. 'Ali went over to
speak to him and he said, "Say that I have a message from His
Honour the Mirza, which I want to convey to Aqa Mirza Aqa." 'Ali
conveyed the message and I went over and spoke to the akhund. He
said, "His Honour, the Hujjatu'l-Islam, has asked that you come to
see him alone, without your companions."

'I decided to go, but my companions said: "We cannot let you go
alone. Anything could happen."

"'These thoughts are wrong," I replied. "He must want to see me
about something since he has specially sent for me."

'In the end my companions agreed and I set out without them. The
name of the akhund was Shaykh Hasan and he was one of the intimates
of Hujjatu'l-Islam. I went with him until we reached the door of
the house of His Honour the Mirza, where I had been the <p255>
previous day. But he carried on round the corner.

"'The house of His Honour the Mirza is here, 0 Shaykh," I said to
him; "where are you going?"

"'This is the biruni [outer apartments]," he replied. "He has
instructed that you be taken in through the door of the andaruni
[inner apartments] which are private."

'He went on another twenty paces and opened a door. In the corner
of the hallway there was a room. He opened the door and held up the
curtain. I went in and found His Honour, the Hujjatu'l-Islam, as
on the previous day, with cushions around him, lying down.

'I greeted him and he replied. Then he said to Shaykh Hasan: "Go
and make some tea and bring it. No one is to be permitted to come
here, for it is fifty years since I have seen any of my relatives.
I want one hour free from interruption to be with him. Even the
children are not to be permitted."

'After giving these instructions, he said, "Also, close the door."
And so Shaykh Hasan closed the door and left. Then he opened his
arms and embraced me. He wept copiously and I felt so sorry for him
that I began to weep too. He sat me down next to him and poured out
expressions of affection and favour.

"'I know that you were annoyed at the way we met yesterday and were
displeased. I realized that you were angered. What can I do with
such people? What can I do? It was for this reason that I sent
Shaykh Hasan to you in the early morning to bring you here so that
I can meet you."

'At this moment, say& Hasan brought in the tea.

"'Leave it and go ," he said. "Aqa Mirza Aqa will pour the tea."

'Shaykh Hasan put down the tray and left. I poured some tea and
offered it to him. He said, "You drink it." I declined but he
insisted and so I drank the tea. He ordered me to fill up the same
cup again and he drank from it. Then we began speaking. He asked
a few questions about where I had been during these years, what I
had heard and which persons I had met. I asked: "What sort of
persons?" He said: "Persons who have put forward claims and have
caused controversy--that is to say, people with new ideas."

'I replied: "In 1294 [sic] when I travelled from Shiraz, I went to
Bombay where I occupied myself trading. Here I was friendly with
and associating with Iranian and foreign merchants. I met all types
of people and we would discuss every kind of topic. For example,
I met <p256>
Haji Muhammad-Ibrahim-i-Shirazi,[1] who is known as Muballigh, and
he spoke of many important matters. When I considered what he said
and weighed his words justly, I could not refute them."
[1. A prominent Baha'i teacher who was responsible for the
conversion of some of the Afnan family.]

"'Where did you go after Bombay?"

"'In 1305 [19 September 1887 -- September 1888], I went from
Bombay to Egypt, and I remained for some time in Port Sa'id and
Cairo and was in contact with all sorts of people."

"'Where did you go from there and whom did you meet?"

'It suddenly occurred to me, from his questions, that perhaps he
wanted to extract a confession from me and cause me trouble. But
I thought about this and seeing that there was no one present but
myself and him, I thought it unlikely that he was planning
anything. So I decided to answer his questions cautiously.

"'For a time I went to visit my uncle, Haji Mirza Siyyid Hasan,[2]
and I met there some important people from among the notables such
as Aqa Muhammad-Mustafay-i-Baghdadi[3] and others."
[2. Known as Afnan-i-Kabir, a Baha'i resident in Beirut.]
[3. One of the prominent Baha'i residents of Beirut (see chap.

"'What did they speak of?"

"'They spoke of the new cause, and whatever they said was supported
by proofs from the verses of the Qur'an and the Hadith of the
Prophet [Muhammad] to such an extent that no fair-minded person
could deny it. And so I wanted very much to see Your Honour so that
I could ask you what my position is according to religious law and
what my moral and religious duty is. Should they be accepted or

"'God, may He be exalted, has said that the parts of the body are
for the use of creation that mankind may utilize each of them.
Thus, for example, eyes are created for seeing, ears for hearing,
the tongue for speech, hands for touching and feet for walking, but
He has created the heart for knowing and understanding Him and has
ordained it as the place of His effulgence. He has said: 'The heart
of man is the throne of the All-Merciful.' Since it is thus, Satan
has no place there. And therefore if this cause is not from God,
it will have no effect on the heart and being of a man. Whatever
the heart accepts and understands must, without doubt, come from
God--it will not err."

'When I heard this reply of his, I became more confident and felt
free to speak. <p257>
"'Now, my dear friend, where did you go from Beirut?" he asked.

"'I went to 'Akka."

'He smiled and asked, "And what did you find there?"

"'From what point of view do you mean?"

"'From both the material and spiritual points of view."

"'From a worldly point of view, I found such majesty, power, and
authority that no king or emperor could hope to rival. And as for
the spiritual realm, whatever you have heard of the previous
manifestations of the power of God [i.e., the Prophets] or have
seen in their books, you will find a more complete and one thousand
times more mighty a demonstration of that revelation in this holy
Personage. For example, from the Holy Prophet [Muhammad] the verses
of the Holy Qur'an were revealed in thirty sections [juz'],
gradually over a period of twenty-two years. From this holy Being,
that is to say, Baha'u'llah, in one month ten times the Holy Qur'an
is revealed with the utmost correctness and eloquence for the world
of humanity. And it is such that no fair-minded man can refute it
nor produce the like of it."

"'It is indeed so, if one be fair-minded," he replied. "I myself
have seen some of these writings and they cannot be compared with
the verses of previous revelations. No, they are much more eloquent
and profound."

'Then respectfully I asked, "When did you come to this conclusion?"

'He smiled and said: "Do you want to hear a confession from me
then, my son?"

"'God forbid! It is only because Your Eminence is the most learned
of mankind that I wanted to know so as to increase the certainty
in my own heart. "

"'My dear friend! Since you want to know, I will tell you. I was
a young man, studying at Isfahan, when the Bab came to that town.
I was present at a gathering with the Imam-Jum'ih and the
theological students at the house of the late Mu'tamidu'd-Dawlih,
Manuchihr Khan. They were asking Him questions of every sort,
testing His knowledge, and He was answering each one convincingly
and with the utmost eloquence so that all of us fell into an
astonished silence. Then one of the theological students asked a
question and He began to give a full reply. That student showed
himself to be unfair and recalcitrant. His answer to that person
decided me and I was convinced and understood everything. Nor did
I allow this understanding to wane. <p258>
Whatever of His verses and commentaries came to hand, I read and
they renewed my inner, spiritual being. No doubt has since then
entered my mind, and this outward glory that God has granted me is
on account of the fact that I approached this matter fairly and
accepted this Cause."

'After hearing these words and becoming completely reassured about
that holy man, I said: "Now that this blessed Cause is manifest and
proven to Your Eminence and the reins of control over millions of
the Shi'ite sect are in your hands, if you consider it advisable,
you could make this matter public so that the people will be saved
from ignorance and error and will enter the way of right guidance."

"'What are you saying, my son? These people are not fair-minded.
Is my rank higher than that of Mulla Husayn-i-Bushru'i or Aqa Mirza
Muhammad-'Aliy-i-Barfurushi [Quddus] and Akhund Mulla
Muhammad-'Aliy-i-Zanjani [Hujjat] and the others? They would have
done the same with me as they did with them. The best thing was for
me to conceal my belief. In the meantime, I was able to perform
such services that were I to tell you of them, you yourself would
testify that it was right for me to conceal the matter and help the

"'I would like to hear of the assistance that you have given," I

"'In 1301 [sic],[1] a number of the believers were arrested by
Nayibu's-Saltanih, Kamran Mirza, in Tihran and kept in prison in
harsh circumstances for two years. Every day they were interrogated
and matters were made very difficult for them. I wrote to
Nasiri'd-Din Shah saying: 'Why have you, without any reason and
without my authorization [fatwa], caused such harm to befall them?
It has been due to you that this Faith has spread among the peoples
and countries. The Apostle of God [i.e., Muhammad] has said:
"Mankind seeks after what is forbidden." Your prohibitions and
persecutions have strengthened this cause. You must certainly, as
soon as my letter arrives, send for the prisoners, be kind to them
and set them free. And from now onwards, do not cause anyone to be
killed on account of this matter.' After the arrival of my letter,
Nasiri'd-Din Shah summoned the prisoners, gave them one sharafi
each and set them free. Among them was Haji Mulla 'Ali-Akbar
[-i-Shahmirzadi, Haji Akhund], Aqa Mirza Abu'l-Fadl
[-i-Gulpaygani], Haji Amin, Mashhadi 'Aliyi-Qazvini and other
important persons. That was one of the things that I did to serve
the Cause.
[1. AH 1300 was the year of these arrests, AD 12 November 1882 --
1 November 1883.] <p259>
"'And another was when Siyyid Jamalu'd-Din-i-Asadabadi, who is
known as Afghani, was planning some mischief in Istanbul. He had
interpolated some material into the Kitab-i-Aqdas and had inserted
some rubbish of his own into that book. Among the things that he
had inserted was that the mosques of Islam should be demolished and
razed to the ground. Mecca should be destroyed and Medina pulled
down. With some other things, he translated this into Turkish and
gave it to Sultan 'Abdu'l-Hamid so that the Sultan might become
angry and mischief might result therefrom. Sultan 'Abdu'l-Hamid
wrote an account of this book to me and asked me what should be
done. I replied: 'You have no right to interfere in such matters.
Whoever has done this has done so out of spite. Send all such books
to me. After investigating the matter, I will decide what is to be
done with them.' Sultan 'Abdu'l-Hamid sent them and I had Shaykh
Hasan throw them all into the river where they sank and were

"'My son! You have no idea how often the 'ulama of Iran have
written to me and asked for fatwas [decrees against the Baha'is].
I have somehow managed to answer all their questions and have
silenced them. If I were to tell you it all, it would tire you.
Among them was [Mirza Hasan-i-] Ashtiyani ... from Tihran; Shaykh
[Muhammad-] Baqir[1] and Shaykh [Muhammad-] Taqi[2] from Isfahan;
Siyyid 'Ali-Akbar [-i-Fal-Asiri] and Shaykh Tahir-i-'Arab from
Shiraz; Mulla 'Abdu'llah-i-Burujirdi from Hamadan; and others from
various places. Perhaps one hundred letters in all, and to each one
I have given an answer and silenced its author."
[1. Stigmatized by Baha'u'llah as 'The Wolf'.]
[2. Son of the last-named. also called Aqa Najafi.]

'After hearing these words from the Hujjatu'l-Islam, I said: "Truly
your help and assistance for this Cause have been inestimable and
are worthy of praise."...

'Then he said: "When will you be leaving?"

"'My only intention was to meet you," I replied. "I have no other
business here."

"'Then it is better if you go soon, since, when you arrived in
Baghdad some mischief-makers came and said something to the effect
that someone has come from 'Akka to Baghdad to teach. I gave them
their reply saying: 'It is Aqa Mirza Aqa, one of my cousins. I have
personally invited him to visit the Holy Places and to come and
meet me. Do not interfere in this matter."'
'We embraced and said farewell and I left. As I left the house I
found the Arab Baha'is gathered, worried, around the house of His
Holiness. When they saw me they were relieved.

"'What are you doing?" I said.

"'We became worried because you took so long. We were thinking all
sorts of things. Being distressed, we left our residence and
gathered around the house of His Holiness waiting for you."

"'That was not necessary."

'I returned with my friends to our residence. The same day we left
for Baghdad and Basrah and eventually reached Bushihr.' <p261>
The Apostles of Baha'u'llah
by Moojan Momen

Because the author's intention to write biographical chapters on
the nineteen Apostles of Baha'u'llah was thwarted by his death in
1980, it has fallen to the present writer to provide short accounts
of the eleven Apostles not dealt with by Mr Balyuzi in this and the
preceding volume.

The following are the nineteen persons designated as Apostles of
Baha'u'llah by Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Baha'i Faith:[1]
[1. As mentioned in the Foreword, the first two were included in
Baha'u'llah, The King of Glory, and chapters about the 3rd, 6th,
7th, 9th, 13th and 19th Apostles appear in Part I of this volume.
Biographical notes for the remaining eleven Apostles form the
material of this chapter.]

1. Mirza Musa, surnamed Kalim, the only true brother of Baha'u'llah
2. Mirza Buzurg, surnamed Badi'
3. Siyyid Hasan, surnamed Sultanu'sh-Shuhada' (See chap. 3.)
4. Mulla Abu'l-Hasan, surnamed Amin
5. Mirza Abu'l-Fadl (-i-Gulpaygani)
6. Mirza 'Ali-Muhammad, surnamed Varqa (See chap. 7.)
7. Mirza Mahmud (Furughi) (See chap. 13.)
8. Mulla 'Ali-Akbar (Haji Akhund)
9. Mulla Muhammad, surnamed Nabil-i-Akbar (See chap. 9.)
10. Haji Mirza Muhammad-Taqi (Vakilu'd-Dawlih)
11. Mirza Muhammad-Taqi (Ibn-i-Abhar)
12. Mulla Muhammad, surnamed Nabil-i-A'zam
13. Shaykh Kazim, surnamed Samandar (See chap. 16.)
14. Mirza Muhammad Mustafa
15. Mirza Husayn, surnamed Mishkin-Qalam
16. Mirza Hasan, surnamed Adib
17. Shaykh Muhammad-'Ali <p262> <p263>
18. Mulla Zaynu'l-'Abidin, surnamed Zaynu'l-Muqarrabin
19. Mirza 'Ali-Muhammad (Ibn-i-Asdaq) (See chap. 14.)

Mulla Abu'l-Hasan, surnamed Amin

Mulla Abu'l-Hasan-i-Ardikani, who is known as Haji Amin or
Amin-i-Ilahi, was born in about the year AH 1232 (AD 21 November
1816 -- 10 November 1817) in Ardikan, a small town near Yazd. At
seventeen years of age he married into a family of Babis of the
town. He was persuaded to investigate the new religion and
eventually, shortly after the martyrdom of the Bab, he declared his
belief. When news of the Declaration of Baha'u'llah came, he
accepted immediately and travelled throughout Iran meeting other
Babis and teaching them of the advent of Baha'u'llah. After a time
he became the assistant of Haji Shah-Muhammad Manshadi,
Aminu'l-Bayan, who was the Trustee of the Huququ'llah.[1] He would
travel about the country, earning his living by trading and also
by acting as a writer for those who could not write. At the same
time he collected the Huququ'llah and any letters that the
believers wished to forward to Baha'u'llah, and also distributed
Tablets of Baha'u'llah when these were received. He came to 'Akka
while Baha'u'llah was still imprisoned in the citadel and succeeded
in establishing contact with the exiles. He was the first Baha'i
from the outside world to be able to meet Baha'u'llah in 'Akka (in
the Public Baths). He returned to 'Akka on several further
occasions. When Haji Shah-Muhammad Manshadi was killed in 1880,
Haji Abu'l-Hasan was appointed Trustee (Amin) of the Huququ'llah.
In 1891 he was imprisoned with Haji Akhund for three years in
Tihran and Qazvin. In the time of 'Abdu'l-Baha he continued his
travels, visiting 'Akka and Haifa on several occasions. Towards the
end of his life he resided in Tihran and Haji Ghulam-Rida,
Amin-i-Amin, was appointed his assistant. He died in 1928 and was
posthumously named a Hand of the Cause of God by Shoghi Effendi.
[1. The 'Right of God'--a payment by believers instituted in the

Mirza Abu'l-Fadl-i-Gulpaygani

Mirza Muhammad, who is known to Baha'is as Mirza Abu'l-Fadl or
Mirza Abu'l-Fada'il, was born in 1844 into a family of religious <p264>
scholars in Gulpaygan. He studied the Islamic sciences, becoming
well versed in both the traditional transmitted branches of
knowledge as well as the rational philosophic branches. He studied
at Karbila, Najaf and Isfahan and eventually became the head of a
religious college, the Madrisiy-i-Madar-i-Shah (the religious
college of the Mother of the Shah). The story of his introduction
to the Baha'i Faith through a humble blacksmith is well known to
Baha'is. The confirmation of his belief came in 1876 after a period
of studying the Writings of the Faith and seeing the prophecies of
Baha'u'llah come true.

His conversion led to his dismissal from his post and imprisonment
for five months. He then became the secretary of Manakji Sahib, the
Zoroastrian agent in Tihran. In December 1882 he was arrested,
together with a large number of Baha'is of Tihran, and was in
prison for twenty-two months. After this he began extensive travels
throughout Iran. It was principally through his writings that the <p265>
Baha'i Faith was presented to the Jews of Iran in such a way as to
bring a large number of them into the Baha'i fold. In 1888 he
travelled to 'Ishqabad and later to Samarqand and Bukhara. In 1894
he spent ten months in the presence of 'Abdu'l-Baha in 'Akka and
then on the instructions of 'Abdu'l-Baha proceeded to Cairo, where
he settled for a number of years and was successful in converting
some of the students of the foremost institution of learning of the
Sunni world, al-Azhar. Between 1900 and 1904 he travelled to Paris
and the United States where his talks and his writings enabled the
nascent Baha'i communities to gain a clearer understanding of the
tenets of the Faith. He then lived in Beirut and Cairo until his
death in the latter city on 21 January 1914.

Mulla 'Ali-Akbar (Haji Akhund)

Haji Mulla 'Ali-Akbar-i-Shahmirzadi, who is known as Haji Akhund,
was born in Shahmirzad in about 1842. He was the son of a mulla of
that village and after some preliminary studies in his own <p266>
village, he proceeded to Mashhad to attend the religious colleges
there. In Mashhad he pursued every avenue of religious enquiry
until eventually, in about 1861, he encountered the Babis and was
converted. When news of his conversion spread, the religious
students rose against him and forced him to leave the town. He
returned to Shahmirzad but was eventually forced to leave there as
well. He settled in Tihran. There, he became so well known as a
Baha'i that 'Abdu'l-Baha relates that whenever there was an
outburst against the Baha'is, he would wrap his 'aba around himself
and sit waiting for the guards to come and arrest him. (Memorials
of the Faithful, p. 11) He was arrested many times and is known to
have been imprisoned on at least the following occasions: in 1868
on the orders of Mulla 'Ali Kani; in 1872 for seven months by
Nayibu's-Saltanih; in 1882 for two years by Nayibu's-Saltanih,
together with many other Tihran Baha'is; in about 1887; and in 1891
when he was imprisoned for two years with Haji Amin. He visited
'Akka on three occasions, in about 1873, 1888 and 1899. He was
entrusted with many important tasks, in particular the
custodianship and transfer of the remains of the Bab. He was
appointed by Baha'u'llah as one of the Hands of the Cause of God
and was responsible for much of the teaching work, as well as for
administering the community of the Baha'is of Iran. He died in
Tihran on 4 March 1910.

Haji Mirza Muhammad-Taqi (Vakilu'd-Dawlih)

Haji Mirza Muhammad-Taqi was born in Shiraz in AH 1246 (AD 22 June
1830 -- 11 June 1831), the second son of Haji Siyyid Muhammad, the
maternal uncle of the Bab. In his youth he met the Bab both in
Shiraz and Bushihr. Then in about 1854 he settled in Yazd where he
soon became one of the prominent merchants of the town. Here he was
visited by Mulla Muhammad-i-Qa'ini who spoke to him about the
religion of the Bab. His belief in the Bab was confirmed by a
journey in 1857 to Baghdad where he met Baha'u'llah. Because of his
prominence in the town of Yazd, he was asked by the Russian
Government to be their Consular Agent in the town, and hence he
became known as Vakilu'd-Dawlih (Representative of the Government),
but Baha'u'llah named him Vakilu'l-Haqq (Representative of the True
One, i.e. God). In those days, Iranian merchants were anxious to
be consular agents of Foreign Powers, as this was one way of
avoiding the <p267>
arbitrary exactions of provincial governors and other government

While he was still a resident of Yazd, Haji Mirza Muhammad-Taqi
purchased property in the town of 'Ishqabad in Russian Transcaspia.
This town became a refuge for Baha'is escaping from persecution in
Iran, and soon there was a large Baha'i community there.
Baha'u'llah had indicated that a Mashriqu'l-Adhkar should be built
in the city and later, in the time of 'Abdu'l-Baha, the Baha'i
community asked for permission to begin the building. 'Abdu'l-Baha
wrote to Haji Mirza Muhammad-Taqi asking him to go to 'Ishqabad to
supervise the work. And so in 1900 Haji Mirza Muhammad-Taqi
concluded all of his business affairs in Yazd and left for
'Ishqabad. There, he not only supervised the erection of the
Mashriqu'l-Adhkar but paid for most of the building materials from
his own funds. Then in 1906, with the <p268>
structure of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar almost complete, Haji Mirza
Muhammad-Taqi travelled to Haifa where he was warmly received by
'Abdu'l-Baha. He remained in Haifa until his passing in 1909, and
is buried in the Baha'i cemetery at the foot of Mount Carmel.

Mirza Muhammad-Taqi, Ibn-i-Abhar

Mirza Muhammad-Taqi was born in Abhar, a village between Qazvi and
Zanjan. His father, who came from a family of the leading divines
of Abhar, became a believer in the Bab through reading some of His
writings. Because of persecution, the family moved to Qazvin and
in about 1868 became followers of Baha'u'llah. In 1874 his father
died by poison and after this Ibn-i-Abhar moved to Zanjan where he
reinvigorated the Babi community, causing most of them to enter the
Baha'i fold. His activities in Zanjan, however, led to his
imprisonment for fourteen months. After his release, he travelled
throughout Iran and later made a trip to the Holy Land in 1886. He
was appointed a Hand of the Cause of God in the same year and
travelled extensively in Iran, Caucasia, Turkmenistan and India.
From 1890 to 1894 he was imprisoned in a dungeon in Tihran, and for
a time wore the same chains as had been put on Baha'u'llah when a
prisoner in Siyah-Chal. After his release, he went to the Holy Land
and then to 'Ishqabad. In 1897 he participated in the gathering of
the Hands of the Cause which led to the formation of the Central
Spiritual Assembly in Tihran. Settling in Tihran, he assisted in
the establishment of the Tarbiyat Baha'i School, while his wife,
Munirih Khanum, the daughter of Haji Akhund, played a major role
in the founding of the Girls' School. In 1907 he travelled through
India with two American Baha'is, Harlan Ober and Hooper Harris,
accompanied by Mirza Mahmud Zarqani. His travels within Iran were
extensive, and on eleven occasions he visited the Holy Land. He
passed away in 1917.

Mulla Muhammad, surnamed Nabil-i-A'zam

Mulla Muhammad was born in Zarand on 29 July 1831 of humble
parents. He was a shepherd by occupation but strove hard to
overcome the handicap of a meagre education. He learnt to read the
Qur'an and often went with his father to Qum where he listened to
the discourses of the prominent religious figures there. In 1847,
while on a <p269>
visit to his maternal uncle in the village of Rubat-Karim, Nabil
overheard a conversation about the Bab and was immediately
interested. Later, through Siyyid Husayn-i-Zavari'i he was more
fully informed of the Faith of the Bab and became a believer. Nabil
proceeded to Qum where Siyyid Isma'il-i-Zavari'i confirmed his
belief, and together they tried to join the Babis at Shaykh Tabarsi
but found that they were too late. He took up residence in Tihran
in the same madrisih (religious college) as Mirza Ahmad, the
transcriber of the Bab's writings, and met many of the Babis who
lived in or were passing through that town, including Baha'u'llah.

At the time of the execution of the Seven Martyrs of Tihran in
1850, Nabil was persuaded to return to his home village, but later
he left for Qum hoping to meet Mirza Ahmad there. Failing to find
him, Nabil proceeded to Kashan and eventually located Mirza Ahmad
in Kirmanshah; he remained there until after Baha'u'llah's passage
through that town in 1851. Baha'u'llah instructed them to proceed
to Tihran where they engaged themselves in transcribing and
distributing the writings of the Bab, until the situation became
too dangerous and Nabil returned to Zarand.

There followed the attempt on the life of the Shah in 1852 and the
persecution of the Babi community to the point of its near
annihilation. During those dark days, Nabil put forward a claim to
leadership of the Babi community stating that he was in receipt of
Divine inspiration. But later, when he visited Baghdad and came to
recognize Baha'u'llah's station, he withdrew his claim.

From Baghdad and Adrianople, Baha'u'llah sent Nabil on numerous
journeys to the Babis of Iran. During the Adrianople years, his
major task was to alert the Babis to Baha'u'llah's claim to be 'He
Whom God shall make manifest'. On one journey, he was instructed
to perform the pilgrimage to the House of the Bab in Shiraz and the
House of Baha'u'llah in Baghdad, being the first to do this
according to the laws revealed by Baha'u'llah.

From Adrianople, Nabil was sent by Baha'u'llah to Egypt on a
mission which resulted in his imprisonment (see Baha'u'llah, The
King of Glory, pp. 265-8). When freed Nabil hurried to 'Akka, but
being espied by the followers of Azal who had stationed themselves
near the city-gate, he was ejected from the city. He wandered
around the countryside, living for a time on Mount Carmel and for
a time in Nazareth until he was able to enter 'Akka. He was sent
by Baha'u'llah <p270>
on yet another journey to Iran during which he confirmed the belief
of many of the Baha'is. He then took up residence in 'Akka until
the time of the passing of Baha'u'llah in 1892. Overwhelmed with
sorrow at this event, Nabil ended his own life by jumping into the
sea. He was a great poet and, besides writing a lengthy history of
the Faith, he has preserved many of the historical events of the
Faith in the form of poetry which he used to send to the Baha'is
of Iran. A complete collection of his extensive poetical writings
has not yet been made.

Mirza Muhammad Mustafa

The father of Mirza Muhammad Mustafay-i-Baghdadi, Shaykh Muhammad
Shibi, was a distinguished follower of the Shaykhi leader, Siyyid
Kazim-i-Rashti, and was indeed his personal representative in
Baghdad. When Mulla 'Aliy-i-Bastami, the Letter of the Living, was
brought to Baghdad and imprisoned there (see The Bab, pp. 59-61),
Shaykh Muhammad Shibi visited him in prison, learnt of the claim
of the Bab and became a believer. Later, that distinguished Letter
of the Living, Tahirih, stayed at the house of Shaykh Muhammad
Shibl in Baghdad for a period and when the time came that she was
to be expelled from 'Iraq, Shaykh Muhammad and Mirza Mustafa
accompanied her to Qazvin and then travelled on to Tihran, where
they met Mulla Husayn-i-Bushru'i. Such were the events that filled
the childhood and youth of Mirza Mustafa, who was born in Baghdad
in about 1837. During the period that Baha'u'llah was in Baghdad,
Mirza Mustafa became devoted to Him, although, of course,
Baha'u'llah had not put forward a claim at this time. In 1874 Mirza
Mustafa was arrested along with many others of the Baha'is of
Baghdad, and after this he travelled to 'Akka and sought permission
from Baha'u'llah to live in the vicinity of that city. Baha'u'llah
instructed him to take up his residence in Beirut where he was
frequently of service to those Baha'is travelling to 'Akka. After
the ascension of Baha'u'llah, he moved to Alexandretta
(Iskandarun), where he died in 1910.

Mirza Husayn, surnamed Mishkin-Qalam

Mirza Husayn, a native of Shiraz but resident in Isfahan, was a
Sufi of the Ni'matu'llahi Order. He was a calligrapher of the first
rank, a fine <p271>
poet, and was also noted for his witty and subtle mind, all of
these being qualities highly prized in nineteenth-century Iran.
And so Mirza Husayn or Mishkin-Qalam, his artistic name by which
he is usually known, was never short of wealthy patrons. However,
he himself preferred to travel as a wandering dervish with few
possessions. 'Abdu'l-Baha states that he first heard of the Faith
in Isfahan, but it was in Baghdad a few years after Baha'u'llah's
departure from that city that Mishkin-Qalam learned more about the
new religion from Zaynu'l-Muqarrabin and Nabil-i-A'zam. He set out
for Adrianople and after a brief sojourn in Aleppo reached the
presence of Baha'u'llah where his belief was confirmed. After a
while, he travelled to Istanbul and his talents soon brought him
to the attention of the notables of that capital city. However, the
Iranian ambassador plotted against him and caused his arrest. When
Baha'u'llah and His <p272>
companions were exiled to 'Akka, Mishkin-Qalam was sent with them
in the same ship but was compelled to go on to Cyprus where he
remained in detention and exile. He was eventually freed and came
to 'Akka in 1886, taking up residence in the Khan-i-'Avamid. After
the passing of Baha'u'llah, he travelled to Egypt, Damascus and
India (the last in 1905). 'Abdu'l-Baha, when He heard that
Mishkin-Qalam was growing old and weak in India, recalled him to
the Holy Land and he remained there until his death in about 1912.

Mirza Hasan, surnamed Adib

Haji Mirza Hasan was born in Talaqan in September 1848. His father
was an eminent cleric and Haji Mirza Hasan underwent the usual
religious education at Tihran and Mashhad. From 1874 onwards he was
employed by one of the Qajar princes, I'tidadu's-Saltanih, and
later by another prince, Mu'tamidu'd-Dawlih. These two princes used
to publish a large number of books which were written for them by
their employees but published in their own names. In this way,
Mirza Hasan contributed to such important works as the
encyclopaedic Namiy-i-Danishvaran, until his becoming known as a
Baha'i caused his dismissal from such work. He was also, for a
time, Imam-Jum'ih (Friday prayer leader) and teacher at the
Daru'l-Funun, Iran~s first educational establishment founded on
modern lines. He was given the title Adibu'l-'Ulama (litterateur
of the 'ulama) and was a poet of considerable talent.

It was his close friend, the eminent cleric Shaykh Hadi Najmabadi,
who pointed out to Mirza Hasan the similarity between his views and
those of the Baha'is, and this prompted the latter to investigate
the Baha'i Faith. In about 1889, after prolonged conversations with
Nabil-i-Akbar, he was converted and soon afterwards was designated
by Baha'u'llah as one of the Hands of the Cause of God. After the
passing of Baha'u'llah, Mirza Hasan was much involved in dealing
with the activities of the Covenant-breakers. In AH 1315 (AD 2 June
1897 -- 21 May 1898), he participated in the meetings of the Hands
of the Cause which evolved over several years into the Central
Spiritual Assembly of Tihran, the precursor of the Iranian National
Spiritual Assembly. He was chairman of this body. He also played
an important part in the founding of the Tarbiyat Schools in Tihran
and in their administration. In 1903 he travelled to Isfahan where
he was <p273>
briefly imprisoned during the upheaval there. From there he
proceeded to Shiraz, Bombay, and eventually to 'Akka. 'Abdu'l-Baha
instructed him to travel through India and Burma in the company of
the American Bahh'i, Sidney Sprague. He eventually returned to
Tihran where he died on 2 September 1919.

Shaykh Muhammad-'Ali

Shaykh Muhammad-'Aliy-i-Qa'ini was the nephew of Nabil-i-Akbar. He
was possessed of many talents, excelling in oratory, calligraphy
and music. He was born in Naw-Firist near Birjand in AH 1277 (AD
20 July 1860 -- 8 July 1861). His parents died when he was young
and he was brought up by an uncle, Mulla Aqa 'Ali. While still a
young man undertaking religious studies at Mashhad, he was apprised
of the <p274>
Baha'i Faith and soon became an ardent believer. He became the
close companion of his erudite uncle Nabil-i-Akbar until the
latter's death in 1892. He lived in 'Ishqabad for a while and then
in Tihran where he married the daughter of Nabil-i-Akbar. In 1903,
he was instructed to accompany Mirza Hasan-i-Adib to India, but
while travelling there he was caught up in the upheavals against
the Baha'is in Isfahan during that year. He was stripped of his
possessions, severely beaten, and was fortunate to escape with his
life. He had to return to Tihran but later reached India and
remained there for one-and-a-half years. He then travelled to
Haifa. Here 'Abdu'l-Baha asked him to go to 'Ishqabad and to take
charge of the education of children there.

He established himself in 'Ishqabad and, apart from various
journeys made for the service of the Faith, he lived there for the
rest of his life. After the death of Mirza Abu'l-Fadl-i-Gulpaygani,
Shaykh Muhammad-'Ali was asked to go to Haifa to bring to
completion, with the help of others, the unfinished writings of
Mirza Abu'l-Fadl. He was in Haifa for one-and-a-half years after
the First World War, leaving for 'Ishqabad shortly before
'Abdu'l-Baha's passing. He fell ill in 'Ishqabad and after a
prolonged illness died in April 1924.

Mulla Zaynu'l-'Abidin, surnamed Zaynu'l-Muqarrabin

Mulla Zaynu'l-'Abidin, surnamed by Baha'u'llah Zaynu'l-Muqarrabin
(the Ornament of the Near Ones) was noted among the companions of
Baha'u'llah for his wit and humour, his learning and calligraphy,
but above all for Baha'u'llah's high regard for him. He was born
in Rajab 1233 (May 1818) in one of the villages of Najafabad near
Isfahan of a family of Muslim clerics. He himself underwent a
religious education and was made a preacher at a mosque in
Najafabad. Although he heard of the Bab's claim in 1844 while he
was on pilgrimage to Karbila, it was not until 1851 that he was
taught the new religion and became a believer. Many others were
converted in Najafabad and the town soon became a stronghold of the
Babi Faith. Zaynu'l-Muqarrabin decided to visit Baghdad and meet
the leading Babis who were in exile there. He failed to find Mirza
Yahya who was keeping himself hidden from the believers, and
Baha'u'llah was at this time on His two-year sojourn in the
Sulaymaniyyih area. Disappointed, Zaynu'l-Muqarrabin set off for
home. As he approached <p275>
Najafabad, however, he learned of a violent outburst of persecution
against the believers and that officials of the Governor were
searching for him. He therefore retraced his steps to Baghdad and
was fortunate in meeting Baha'u'llah on this occasion, an encounter
that confirmed his faith in the new religion. Zaynu'l-Muqarrabin
became one of the pillars of the Babi community in Najafabad and
Isfahan, and when he heard of Baha'u'llah's claim to be the One
promised by the Bab, he unhesitatingly accepted.

A further outburst of persecution in 1864 precipitated
Zaynu'l-Muqarrabin's departure from Najafabad. He settled in
Baghdad and occupied himself with transcribing Tablets. In 1870 the
Baha'is in Baghdad were rounded up and exiled to Mosul. The Baha'is
in Mosul, under the leadership and guidance of Zaynu'l-Muqarrabin,
soon became a model Baha'i community reflecting something of the
spirit of the 'Akka community. While there, it became
Zaynu'l-Muqarrabin's task to transcribe the Tablets of Baha'u'llah
that arrived from <p276>
'Akka on their way to Iran. Thus these Tablets could be distributed
more widely and each of those to whom a Tablet was addressed could
have a copy.

In Dhu'l-Hijjah 1302 (September -- October 1885) Baha'u'llah gave
permission for Zaynu'l-Muqarrabin to come to 'Akka where he took
up residence in the Khan-i-'Avamid, continuing to transcribe
Tablets and frequently having the honour of being in Baha'u'llah's
company. Following the ascension of Baha'u'llah, Zaynu'l-Muqarrabin
remained faithful to the Covenant until his passing in 1903. <p277>
Part II

The ancestors of Baha'u'llah dwelt near the Caspian Sea in the
famed province of Tabaristan (now Mazindaran). Although born in
Tihran Baha'u'llah maintained His ties with Mazindaran which
embraces Nur, the seat of His ancestral home. Three of the
following chapters relate some of the history of these regions,
while two chapters trace His genealogy and give some remarkable
prophecies of His advent. <p278> <p279>
On the Shores of the Caspian Sea

The Caspian Sea, on the shores of which many a generation of the
ancestors of Baha'u'llah lived and prospered, is known in Persian
as the Sea of Khazar (Daryay-i-Khazar). Khazars were a people of
Turkish origin whose haunts bordered the north of that vast inland
sea. And their story is strange indeed. They, who had no connection
whatsoever with the Children of Israel, voluntarily adopted the
Jewish Faith. They did it in order to free themselves of tutelage
to either the Muslim Arabs or the Christian Byzantines. Being
Jewish in faith would liberate them from both Islam and
Christianity, they reasoned. We shall examine their history in some
detail anon; but the point to note, now, is their love of
independence, their intense abhorrence of submission to the will
and the whims of neighbours and magnates of other lands. This love
of liberty which bordered almost on rebelliousness, they shared
with other dwellers of the coastal regions of the Caspian Sea,
particularly the people of Tabaristan--the home of the ancestors
of Baha'u'llah.

When the Arab hosts conquered Iran in the middle of the seventh
century and brought Islam with them to present to the vanquished,
the inhabitants of the Iranian provinces adjoining the Caspian Sea,
sheltered in the fastnesses of mount and forest, refused to let the
Arabs in and refused to alter their religious affiliation.
Moreover, they received with open arms anyone who had challenged
the caliphs of Damascus and later of Baghdad, and gave them
sustenance and refuge. Most of those who had taken up arms against
the Umayyads and the 'Abbasids were scions of the House of the
Prophet. And it was the pacific influence of those who had escaped
from the clutches of the caliphs that led the recalcitrants to
embrace Islam. Their Islam, however, was different from that
professed by the caliphs, for it was to Shi'ism, in its various
guises, that they inclined.

In the following pages we shall take a closer look into the
adventures <p280>
of these people who lived in the periphery of the Caspian Sea: the
Sea of Khazar.

'Abda'r Rahman III, perhaps the greatest of all the rulers of
al-Andalus (Moorish Spain), in AD 929 proclaimed himself Caliph and
Amira'l-Mu'minin (Commander of the Faithful)--a powerful rival to
both the 'Abbasid caliphs of Baghdad (who were also Sunnis) and to
the Isma'ili Shi'ih caliphs of Cairo (the Fatimids). 'Abda'r Rahman
was a very remarkable man. Following the style set by the
'Abbasids, he took the title an-Nasir li-Dini'llah: Defender of the
Faith of God. A man free of prejudice and fanaticism, he raised
Hisdai Ibn Shaprut, his court physician and a Jew, to the highest
position of trust in his kingdom. And Hisdai served him with
devotion. Then it came to Hisdai's ears that far away,
half-the-world distant to the East, there was a king, who, with his
people, professed the Faith that he himself did. Hisdai Ibn Shaprut
was as remarkable a man as his enlightened master. He has put it
on record that he first heard of that incredible Jewish realm from
merchants of Khurasan. He found it hard to believe. Then envoys
from Byzantium reached Cordoba and they confirmed everything which
the Khurasani merchants had related. They even could give Hisdai
the name of the king of that Jewish Land, which happened to be
Yusuf (Joseph).

Bursting with curiosity and enthusiasm, Hisdai addressed a
respectful letter to King Joseph of Khazaria. The letter was very
long and the writer longed for more information regarding
everything. He wrote:

I feel the urge to know the truth, whether there is really a place
on this earth where harassed Israel can rule itself, where it is
subject to nobody. If I were to know that this is indeed the case,
I would not hesitate to forsake all honours, to resign my high
office, to abandon my family, and to travel over mountains and
plains, over land and water, until I arrived at the place where my
Lord, the King rules... And I also have one more request: to be
informed whether you have any knowledge ... of the Final Miracle
[the coming of the Messiah] which, wandering from country to
country, we are awaiting. Dishonoured and humiliated in our
dispersion, we have to listen in silence to those who say: 'every
nation has its own land and you alone possess not even a shadow of
a country on this earth'. (Quoted in Arthur Koestler, The
Thirteenth Tribe, p. 71)

King Joseph, in his reply to the Jewish minister of 'Abda'r-Rahman, <p281>
made it clear that he and his people did not, at any time, claim
descent from Israel. He stated unequivocally that the people of
Khazaria were of the seed of Japheth (Yafith), the third son of
Noah. King Joseph went on to say that Togarma, the grandson of
Japheth, was the common ancestor of all the Turkish tribes. 'We
have found', he writes, 'in the family registers of our fathers,
that Togarma had ten sons, and the names of their [sic] offspring
are as follows: Uigur, Dursu, Avars, Huns, Basilii, Tarniakh,
Khazars, Zagora, Bulgars, Sabir. We are the sons of Khazar, the
seventh...' (Quoted in Arthur Koestler, The Thirteenth Tribe, p.

King Joseph then related the story of King Bulan, and how it
happened that he came to accept the Jewish Faith and gave up

When Bulan, perhaps the first hereditary king of Khazaria [writes
Sale Wittmayer Baron], adopted the monotheistic faith, he
apparently embraced it only in the form of a minimal 'religion of
Abraham,' which he had heard invoked by spokesmen of Christianity
and Islam as well as of Judaism. He may have been attracted by a
legend, current in Arab and Jewish circles, that Turks and other
Mongols were descendants of Abraham's sons by Keturah. According
to Ibn Fadhlan,[1] the Khazar kings customarily had twenty-five
wives. 'Each of them is the daughter of one of the kings who
confront him [the vassal princes], taken freely or by force. He
also has sixty slave-girls, concubines, all of superb beauty. Each
of them, concubines as well as free-born ladies, lives in a castle
of her own.' The khagan [khagan] may indeed have felt that such a
harem was a legitimate imitation of King Solomon's polygamous
establishment and of the wise king's use thereof as an instrument
of imperial policy. Hebrew books must have been extremely scarce.
Certainly talmudic tractates had then only begun to be circulated
in the more civilized countries. Even copies of Scripture had to
be brought out of a cave, according to the Cambridge fragment...
[1. Ibn Fadlan: Ahmad. son of Fadlan (son of Rashid, son of Himad),
was a jurisconsult of Baghdad. In the days of al-Muqtadir, the
'Abbasid caliph (AD 908-32), he headed a mission to the king of the
Bulgars. He wrote a travelogue. which has been quoted by such
eminent writers and geographers as Mas'udi. Istakhri and Yaqut.

Only at the end of the century did King Obadiah conform more fully
with the accepted tenets and observances of official Judaism.
Afterwards, King Joseph, in his letter to Hisdai ibn Shaprut to
which we owe that assertion, admitted the irregularity of the
Khazar calendar. When Petahiah arrived in that vicinity he was
shocked to learn that 'in the land of Kedar [Khazar] there are no
Jews, only heretics. And Rabbi Petahiah asked them: Why do you not
believe in the words of the sages? They replied: Because our
fathers did not teach them to us. On the eve of Sabbath they cut
all the bread which they eat on the Sabbath. They eat in the dark,
and sit the whole day on one spot. Their prayers consist only of
psalms. And when Rabbi Petahiah imparted to them <p282>
our ritual and prayer after meals they were pleased. They also
said: We have never heard what the Talmud is.' (A Social and
Religious History of the Jews, vol. 3, pp. 201-2)

We shall see later what eventually happened to Khazaria. Now, we
ought to go back in time to the years when the people of Khazaria
were still pagans and idolaters; we need not go back to the origins
of the Khazars. They certainly were Turks, and certainly not
Mongolians. Even in recent times certain outbursts of nationalistic
and racial fervour have tended to confuse the issue. It was
definitely very misplaced for the Turks of Anatolia to take pride
in being of the same stock and breed as Chingiz Khan.

In the days of Chosroes I -- Parviz, the great Anushirvan the Just
(reigned AD 531-79)--three gold 'guest thrones' were kept in the
throne-room of his palace in Ctesiphon. They were reserved for
three potentates well known in the world of those times: namely,
the Emperors of China, Byzantium and Khazaria. It is not recorded
that any of them ever paid a visit to Ctesiphon or ever met
Chosroes, but the fact that those gold thrones were there awaiting
them is a sure indication of the attractive qualities of the
Sasanid monarch, and of the position which the ruler of Khazaria
had attained, to be ranked with the Emperors of China and

The grandson of Anushirvan, Chosroes II, gained his throne with the
aid of Emperor Maurice of Byzantium and overthrew a pretender, but
in the year AD 602 Maurice went down before a mob and Phocas, a
mere centurion, usurped his throne. Maurice, who had been forced
to abdicate, was cruelly murdered, together with five sons, by a
successor entirely unworthy of his rule. 'The reign of Phocas',
writes Gibbon,[1] 'afflicted Europe with ignominious peace, and
Asia with desolating war... Every province of the empire was ripe
for rebellion; and Heraclius, exarch of Africa, persisted above two
years in refusing all tribute and obedience to the centurion who
disgraced the throne of Constantinople.' Although urged to rescue
and govern the empire, the exarch was old and called upon his son
Heraclius to undertake this dangerous enterprise. Sailing with his
fleet from Carthage to Constantinople, Heraclius stripped Phocas
of his crown and ascended the throne of the Caesars. He had to
begin rebuilding an almost shattered Roman polity. Byzantium was
indeed in a parlous <p283>
condition, for the troops of Chosroes, who had considered it his
duty to avenge the death of his benefactor, had made deep inroads
into Byzantine territory. Heraclius was faced with a formidable
task, but his great advantage was the weakness of character of the
Persian monarch.
[1. 1. Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.
Vol. 2, chap. 46]

In the beginning Heraclius could do nothing to stem the Persian
avalanche. Antioch fell, and so did Jerusalem. The True Cross was
seized and carried by the victors. Now, Heraclius sought a reliable
ally, and his choice rested on the pagan king of Khazaria. Let us
look at the picture, as depicted by Edward Gibbon:

To the hostile league of Chosroes with the Avars, the Roman emperor
opposed the useful and honourable alliance of the Turks. At his
liberal invitation, the horde of Chozars [Khazars] transported
their tents from the plains of the Volga to the mountains of
Georgia; Heraclius received them in the neighbourhood of Teflis
[Tiflis], and the khan with his nobles dismounted from their
horses, if we may credit the Greeks, and fell prostrate on the
ground, to adore the purple of the Caesar. Such voluntary homage
and important aid were entitled to the warmest acknowledgements;
and the emperor, taking off his own diadem, placed it on the head
of the Turkish prince, whom he saluted with a tender embrace and
the appellation of son. After a sumptuous banquet, he presented
Ziebel with the plate and ornaments, the gold, the gems, and the
silk, which had been used at the Imperial table, and, with his own
hand, distributed rich jewels and ear-rings to his new allies. In
a secret interview, he produced the portrait of his daughter
Eudocia, condescended to flatter the Barbarian with the promise of
a fair and august bride, obtained an immediate succour of 40,000
horse, and negotiated a strong diversion of the Turkish arms on the
side of the Oxus. (1. Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the
Roman Empire. Vol. 2, chap. 46)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

When the ambition of Chosroes was reduced to the defence of his
hereditary kingdom, the love of glory, or even the sense of shame,
should have urged him to meet his rival in the field. In the battle
of Nineveh, his courage might have taught the Persians to vanquish,
or he might have fallen with honour by the lance of a Roman
emperor. The successor of Cyrus chose rather, at a secure distance,
to expect the event, to assemble the relics of the defeat, and to
retire by measured steps before the march of Heraclius, till (A.D.
627. Dec. 29) he beheld with a sigh the once loved mansions of
Dastagerd. Both his friends and enemies were persuaded, that it was
the intention of Chosroes to bury himself under the ruins of the
city and palace; and, as both might have been equally adverse to
his flight, the monarch of Asia, with Sira, and three concubines,
escaped through an hole in the wall nine days before the arrival
of the Romans. (1. Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman
Empire. Vol. 2, chap. 46) <p284>
The faithless, cringing Chosroes took to his heels. He abandoned
armies to their fate. All that he cared for was his own personal
safety. This was the man who had straddled Byzantium. This was the
man who had dared to tear up the letter of the Prophet of Arabia.
His own son put him in chains and had him stabbed to death.

It is time now to break away from the sad, tragic and demeaning
story of Parviz, Chosroes II, and look forward a century to a new
chapter of Khazar history.

When the Sasanian hegemony was swept away by the Arab onslaught,[1]
the Khazar kingdom became conscious of its isolation. And as the
Arabs penetrated into the Caucasus, they broke, time and again,
through the mountain pass of Darband, close to the Caspian Sea,
which they named 'Bab-al-Abwab' (The Gate of Gates), to ravish the
land of the Khazars. On the other hand, when the opportunity
presented itself, Khazars did the same, erupted into the
newly-conquered lands of Islam and caused chaos and confusion. In
the year AD 730 Khazars occupied both Georgia and Armenia,
annihilated an Arab army outside the city of Ardibil (in the
Persian province of Adharbayjan, home of Shaykh Safiyyi'd-Din, the
ancestor of the Safavids), and rode on as far as Mosul and
[1. Yazdigird 111, the last of this dynasty, was defeated at
Nihavand near Ecbatana (present-day Hamadan) in 641. The genealogy
of Baha'u'llah can be traced to him (see chap. 23).

The last time the Arabs made their way into Khazaria, under the
command of the Umayyad Marwan (destined to be the last caliph of
Damascus), the Khazars were caught unaware and suffered heavy
defeat. They had to sue for peace and Marwan demanded the
conversion of the Khazar king to Islam. It seems that the khagan
complied and nominally became a Muslim; but with the withdrawal of
Marwan, he went back to his paganism. Most likely this episode
brought the khagan and his people to their final choice: to adopt
a monotheistic Faith, which would give them such stamina and
strength as to be able to withstand both the pressure of the
Byzantine Christendom and the Islam of the Arabs. And strange
enough, at about the same time that Charles Martel defeated the
Muslims at Poitiers near Tours (October, AD 732) and stopped the
Muslim incursion, the Khazars inflicted such a crushing defeat on
the Arabs that they did not try ever again to outflank the
Byzantine bastion and pour into the vast areas of Eastern Europe.
As Dimitri Obolensky, Professor of Russian <p285>
and Balkan History in the University of Oxford, has stated: 'The
main contribution of the Khazars to world history was their success
in holding the line of the Caucasus against the northward onslaught
of the Arabs.' (The Byzantine Commonwealth, p. 172)

The Jewish Khazaria lived for centuries. It prospered and its
people remained firmly wedded to their Jewish Faith. Even St. Cyril
(Constantine, 826-69), the celebrated 'Apostle of the Slavs', who
visited Khazaria, could make no impression on those determined
Turks, bent on preserving their independence. In recent times, much
has been written and said about a 'Third Force' in world politics.
It can be conjectured that the Kingdom of Khazaria was in its day,
and considered itself to be, that 'Third Force', neither inclined
to Christianity nor to Islam, treading a middle path, at peace with
all and committed to none. Of course that idyllic condition could
not be sustained for long. Fresh migrations from the hinterlands
of the Euro-Asian continental block, brought the Viking to descend
on Europe, and the Rus (Rhous and Rhos as well) to make life
miserable for the inhabitants of the Eastern marches. In the year
AD 833 the Khazar ruler sent an appeal to Emperor Theophilus of
Byzantium to help him build a fortress on the River Don, to serve
as a garrison post needed because of the increasing menace of the
Rus. The Emperor was delighted to render assistance and the
fortress of Sarkel came into being. Arthur Koestler writes:

Sarkel was built just in time; it enabled them [the Khazars] to
control the movements of the Rus flotillas along the lower reaches
of the Don and the Don--Volga portage (the 'Khazarian Way'). By and
large it seems that during the first century of their presence on
the scene,[1] the plundering raids of the Rus were mainly directed
against Byzantium (where, obviously, richer plunder was to be had),
whereas their relations with the Khazars were essentially on a
trading basis, though not without friction and intermittent
clashes. At any rate, the Khazars were able to control the Rus
trade routes and to levy their 10 per cent tax on all cargoes
passing through their country to Byzantium and to the Muslim lands.
[1. Very roughly. 830-930.]

They also exerted some cultural influence on the Northmen, who, for
all their violent ways, had a naive willingness to learn from the
people with whom they came into contact. The extent of this
influence is indicated by the adoption of the title 'Kagan'
[Khagan] by the early Rus rulers of Novgorod. This is confirmed by
both Byzantine and Arab sources; for instance, Ibn Rusta, after
describing the island on which Novgorod was built, states: 'They <p286>
have a king who is called Kagan Rus.' Moreover, Ibn Fadlan reports
that the Kagan Rus has a general who leads the army and represents
him to the people. (Arthur Koestler, The Thirteenth Tribe, p. 92)

Koestler, himself a Hungarian, further writes:

The Magyars had been the Khazars' allies, and apparently willing
vassals, since the dawn of the Khazar Empire... About their origin
all we know with certainty is that the Magyars were related to the
Finns, and that their language belongs to the so-called
Finno-Ugrian language family, together with that of the Vogul and
Ostyak people living in the forest regions of the northern Urals.
Thus they were originally unrelated to the Slavonic and Turkish
nations of the steppes in whose midst they came to live--an ethnic
curiosity, which they still are to this day. Modern Hungary, unlike
other small nations, has no linguistic ties with its
neighbours--the Magyars have remained an ethnic enclave in Europe,
with the distant Finns as their only cousins. (Arthur Koestler, The
Thirteenth Tribe, p. 96)

As Koestler remarks, some time in the 'early centuries of the
Christian era', the Magyars were pushed out of the Urals by other
nomads. That has been the recurring theme of all the migrations
along and across the Eurasian expanse: one group being forced
westwards or southwards by another. For nearly I 50 years, to the
end of the ninth century, Magyars lived under Khazar domination;
the Khazars and Magyars never fought each other. This was indeed
a strange phenomenon. There existed a state of intermediate warfare
between other groupings, as well as between these two and others.
Indeed, such was the nature of their relationships that the Magyars
acted as stewards for the Khazars to collect levies.

Koestler writes: 'The arrival of the Rus radically changed this
profitable state of affairs. At about the time when Sarkel was
built, there was a conspicuous movement of the Magyars across the
Don to its west bank' (Arthur Koestler, The Thirteenth Tribe, p.
97). The Khazars (here Koestler accepts Toynbee's explanation)
placed the Magyars to the west of the Don, in order to set up a
barrier against the incursions of the Slavs. Khazars did all they
could to make Magyars a stable group of people, provided them with
a king and even went to the extent of having a number of their
clans dwell amongst the Magyars and become one with them. But by
the end of the ninth century of the Christian era, Magyars once
again set out westwards and settled down in the territory which we
know now as Hungary. The Khazars had lost a prop. And the pressure
of the Slavs continued unabated. Apart from the perils posed by the
Slavs, a <p287>
Turkish tribe--he fierce Ghuzz (who within little more than a
century were to defeat Sultan Sanjar,[1] the Saljuqid, and capture
him)--attacked another Turkish tribe which tried to move into and
settle down in Khazaria, but was driven out.
[1. Reigned 1118-57.]

Perils abounded and the days of the Jewish Khazaria were numbered.
D. M. Dunlop writes: 'By the 9th century at all events the Russians
were strong enough to occupy a part of the Khazar territory in the
west, including the city of Kiev.' That was the beginning of the
end. When the Russians sailed into the Caspian Sea to raid Persian
territory, they had the unwilling assistance of the Khazars. But
the situation was getting out of hand, and around AD 960 the
Khazars came to the conclusion that to allow the Russians to come
down the Volga into the Caspian Sea was a dangerous game. They
tried to put a stop to it. However, as Khazaria was slowly
declining, the Russians were gathering more strength. The downfall
and extinction of Khazaria, its date and circumstances, have all
remained a matter of contention amongst historians, past and
present. However, Dunlop asserts that the year 965 was 'the year
in which the Russians invaded Khazaria', and that 'the Khazar
kingdom in its traditional form hardly survived the Russian
invasion.' (The History of the Jewish Khazars, pp. 238, 224, 247)

Historians have yet to settle (if it ever can be settled) the
problem of the date of Khazaria's extinction. Some have been bold
enough to state that it was the Mongol invasion of the early
thirteenth century that destroyed Khazaria. Even if that proud land
and its proud people eked out an impoverished independent existence
for another two centuries, the eminent fact is that by the end of
the tenth century of the Christian era the Khazaria which had
defied the Arabs as well as the Byzantines had ceased to be. And
the Jewish Khazars, just as the other clans and tribes and
groupings had done, took the road to the West. They spread over
Europe. Many of the Jews of the Diaspora in central, northern and
eastern Europe are the descendants of those very brave men: the
Turks who cherished a way of life, all their own, unfettered by
submission and homage to Powers mightier than themselves. <p288>
The Story of Tabaristan

Tabaristan, the renowned province lying south of the Caspian Sea,
known today by the even more honoured name of Mazindaran, has ever
been a land of marvels. Great men strode across its scene. The
manliness of its inhabitants and their intense desire to remain
self-ruled and independent have remained unsurpassed. Tabari, the
foremost historian of Islam, as his name indicates stepped out of
this delectable corner of Iran. Even Fars and its Persepolis of
ancient splendour cannot compete with the magnificence of
Mazindaran. Here dwelt the ancestors of Baha'u'llah.

In the preface to his abridged translation of Ibn Isfandiyar's
History of Tabaristan (E. J. W. Gibb Memorial, Volume II), Edward
Granville Browne, the distinguished orientalist of the University
of Cambridge, wrote:

Separated from the rest of Persia by the lofty barrier of the
Elburz Mountains, culminating in the great cone of Damawand
(Dunbawand), the Caspian provinces have always possessed, to a
certain extent, a history and character apart. Long after the
Sasanian dynasty had fallen and the rest of Persia had been subdued
by the Arabs, the Ispahbads continued to strike their Pahlawi
coinage and maintain the religion of Zoroaster in the mountains and
forests of Tabaristan; and their struggles against the Arabs were
only ended about A.D. 838 by the capture and cruel execution of the
gallant Mazyar, the son of Qarin, the son of Wanda-Hurmuz.
Twenty-five years later was established the Shi'ite rule of the
Zaydi Sayyids, which lasted till A.D 928; and these were followed
by the noble house of Ziyar, of whom Shamsu'l-Ma'ali Qabus was
especially conspicuous for his literary eminence.[1] Even after the
disastrous Mongol invasion, representatives of the ancient
aristocracy of Tabaristan continued to wield a more or less
considerable power.
[1. This is a mistake. The author of the celebrated book:
Qabus-Namih, was 'Unsuru-l-Ma'ali Kaykavus, a grandson of
Shamsu'l-Ma'ali Qabus. (HMB)]

Of this strange and interesting country the clearest and most
ineffaceable <p289> <p290>
recollection must remain in the mind of every traveller who has
visited it. I merely traversed it in about a week on my homeward
journey from Persia in the autumn of 1888, yet of no part of that
journey do I preserve a more vivid impression; the first entry,
from the great stony plain of 'Iraq-i-'Ajami into the lower hills
at Agh, with its rippling streams and almost English hedgerows; the
long winding climb to the eastern shoulder of the mighty Damawand;
the deep canons of the Lar; the Alpine beauties of Rene; the
gradual descent, through rock-walled valleys, into virgin forests,
bright with the red blossoms of the wild pomegranate, and carpeted
with ferns and mosses; the sluggish streams and stagnant pools of
coast-ward fenlands; ancient Amul, with its long slender bridge;
Barfurush and the swampy rice-fields of Shaykh Tabarsi, memorable
in the history of the Babi religion; and the sandy downs towards
the Caspian Sea. (History of Tabaristan, pp. x-xi)

In the following pages we shall examine the witness of Ibn
Isfandiyar, whose love for Tabaristan glows through the pages of
his book.[1]
[1. The author both summarizes and translates Ibn Isfandiyar and
also quotes Browne's translation; the extracts from Browne are
indicated. (Ed.)]

On the Characteristics and Wonders of Tabaristan

From time immemorial, Tabaristan has been the refuge and the
stronghold of mighty kings and magnates. Because of its natural
strength and difficult mountain passes, like a storehouse where
rarities and treasures are sent thereto for safekeeping, any ruler
overcome by an enemy, finding it impossible to dwell anywhere else
in this world, would seek security in this domain and find release
from the stratagems of the foe. The land was one and the king was
one; and the people of Tabaristan had no need of the goods of any
other land. Whatever exists in the abundance of the world, needed
for good living, can be procured therein. In all seasons one finds
there gladsome vegetation, waters pure and luscious, all varieties
of bread, good and wholesome, of wheat, rice and millet; all sorts
of meat and flesh of beasts and birds, contrary to what can be
found in other domains; delicious foods; bright and clear
beverages, wines yellow, red and white, coloured like unto a flower
and ruby and similar to rose-water, in clarity and delicacy like
unto the tears of lovers: bringer of joy and exultation like
achieving union with the beloved, of little nuisance like the
company of men of good intent, productive of power and profit,
bereft of the headache of intoxication, fragrant like pure <p291>
musk. The winter of Tabaristan is like unto the autumn of other
districts, and its summer resembles the spring of other lands. All
its earth is covered with groves and orchards, so that eyes meet
nothing but greenery. The urban and the rural areas are joined
together. Springs and water channels flow from their sources over
pebbles. The mountain, the plain and the sea are together united.
The air as it blows from the north is soft and equable. But due to
the proximity of the sea and the plenteousness of rainfall at
times, the moisture and the mist exceed those of other places.

It was related by the Qadi Abu 'Abdi'r-Rahman Muhammad b.[1]
al-Hasan b. 'Abdu'l-Hamid al-Lamrasaki to Abu'l-Hasan 'Ali b.
Muhammad al-Yazdadi, on the authority of his father, who had it
from men of ancient time, that there lived in the neighbourhood of
Lamrasak a man named Shahr-Khwastan [Shahr-Khastan] the son of
Zardastan, possessed of great wealth in personal and landed
property and cattle, aged, experienced, and surrounded by numerous
sons, cousins and kinsmen, all loyally attached to him. When
Farrukhan, the great Ispahbad [Ispahbud], had completed the
construction of Sari and the great Dyke, all the people, save
Shahr-Khwastan, offered him their congratulations and eulogies. The
Ispahbad was vexed at this omission and despatched two horsemen to
bring Shahr-Khwastan before him. When they arrived, he was holding
a great banquet, at which all the local nobles and gentry were
present. Ordering the two messengers to be hospitably entertained,
he packed in sacks samples of all the products of Tabaristan,
garments of wool, silk, linen and cotton, bread-stuffs of all
sorts, sweetmeats,[2] apples, cereals, water-cresses, fresh and
salted game, birds, fruits, wines, fragrant herbs, flowers, and the
like, and, furnished with these, set off for Sari, where he arrived
at day-break. By chance the Ispahbad was giving a great banquet,
at which he was presiding, seated on a high throne, whence, after
pronouncing a khutba [ceremonial discourse] after the fashion of
kings, he addressed the people as follows. '0 men of Tabaristan,
know that ye were a people dwelling apart in a corner of the world,
of whom no fame was spread abroad, and to whose country none were
attracted. Ye dwelt in jungles with the wild beasts and beasts of
prey, ignorant of the enjoyments of life, the ways of men, soft
raiment, good horses and agreeable perfumes. It was I who
introduced you to nobler aims and a richer and more desirable life;
who built for you fine cities which attracted travellers and
merchants from afar, so that rare and precious merchandises flowed
into your country, and ye became notable and famous in the world,
and your cities celebrated for their wealth and splendour. For all
this I deserve your thanks.' Then all those present, except
Shahr-Khwastan, rose up and applauded. The Ispahbad, observing with
displeasure Shahr-Khwastan's silence, cried to him, 'What ails thee
that thou art tongueless as a fish <p292>
and soulless as a serpent?' [The word that Browne has translated
as 'soulless' is 'Pichan' in Persian, which means 'twisting'.] Said
the other, 'If permission be accorded me, I will speak;' and, on
receiving permission, he produced and opened the ten sacks which
he had brought with him, and displayed their contents. Then he
spoke as follows: 'May the Ispahbad-Ispahbadan[1] live long! O
assembly, [lend me your ears, for an hour, and consider what I have
to say.' He brought out those edibles and beverages and clothings
out of the sacks for the people to see. Then he said:] 'We were in
this land men independent of imports from other countries,
contented with what sufficed for our needs, and enjoying ample ease
and luxury. None hindered us, nor envied us, nor contended with us,
nor coveted our country, nor was cognizant of its secrets.[2] We
had need of no one; we had houses, corn-lands and hunting-grounds
within the Great Dyke, and every two parasangs was stationed a
head-man, captain or squire, whom all man [sic] readily obeyed. Now
this Prince[3] [omitted in translation: 'may he prosper and
triumph'] hath made all strangers and foreigners to know us and our
land, [and the secrets of our domain, and tore open the veil
concealing our condition and caused enemies and adversaries to
appear. Whilst no creature, barred, could find a way into this
province] and hath caused them to flock hither and settle here, and
ere long they will pick a quarrel with us, strive to take our land,
and drive forth our children as wanderers and exiles.' Then the
Ispahbad and the people perceived that he spoke truly, and asked
what should now be done, to which he replied, 'The thing is done,
and there is now no averting it. Had you consulted with me sooner,
I would have shewn you a way. Please God that by the Prince's
[king's] good fortune no harm may result.' (Ibn Isfandiyar's
History of Tabaristan, pp. 30-32, translated by E. G. Browne and
amended by the author)]
[1. Ibn, or Bin: 'the son of'. (HMB) (footnote is from page 291)]
[2. Edward Browne has shortened the list of all the foodstuffs and
delicacies. (HMB) (footnote is from page 291)]
[1. Ispahbud-i-Ispahbudan. (HMB)]
[2. Left out by Edward Browne: 'No one had any inclination towards
us'. (HMB)]
[3. King and ruler' in the original. (HMB)]

'The virtue, beauty, health and excellence of the women of
Tabaristan have been already mentioned [by Ibn Isfandiyar] in
connection with the narrative of the building of Amul by
Firuz-Shah.' (E.G.B., p. 32)

Ibn Isfandiyar quotes Abu'l-Hasan-i-Yazdadi as having heard from
a centenarian Khurasani that he had been all the world over, and
had never found a domain like Tabaristan for 'enjoying life', for
'security', for 'comfort' and for 'cleanliness'. Furthermore:

You never find therein deadly snakes, scorpions, lion and tiger and
beasts and insects that are injurious; like the snakes of Sajistan
and Hindustan [India] and scorpions of Nisibin and Qashan [Kashan],
Jashk and Muqan; locusts of 'Askar; tarantulas and fleas of
Ardibil; beasts of Arabia, crocodiles of Egypt, sharks of Basrah;
or famine of Damascus, heat of 'Umman and Siraf and Ahvaz. And the
whole world agrees that for residence a man of <p293>
good taste cannot find a land better than Tabaristan. Of materials
and goods permissible, such as wood and fruit, reeds and herbs,
medicinal substances of the plain and the mount, mines of sulphur,
copperas, collyrium stone, and many a mine of gold and silver,
which bring profit and means of living to the poor and provide
merchandise and goods for the use of the rich, all can be found
there. All kinds of choice cloths of linen, cotton, silk and wool
in varied grades of golden and woollen materials are exported to
the east and the west of the world.

Yazdadi has related that in the first instance, they came to
Tabaristan for satin and woven cloth, for the costly silk material:
'uttabi [so named after its inventor, 'Uttab] and all kinds of
highly-priced brocades and greatly-valued scarlet cloth, and
expensive wine, and camphor, the very best of its kind; and striped
cloth, silken and woollen and narrow; and thick coverlets and
blankets, be it Jahrumi carpets or Mahfuri; also Baghdadi crystal
glass, and 'Abbadani mats... They did not find anywhere else in the
world goods of such excellence. Until our days the market wherein
to obtain the wares of Saqsin [a country in Turkistan] and Bulghar
[Bulgaria], was the city of Amul. And the people of Tabaristan
traded with Bulghar and Saqsin, because Saqsin is situated opposite
Amul on the other side of the sea. It is said that a ship takes
three months to reach Saqsin... And there are women in Tabaristan
who earn fifty dirhams a day by their handiwork...

It is related that a man of Tabaristan got married in Mecca. And
as it is the way of loving one's native land, he used every day to
talk lavishly of his city, until one day he said that one never
finds a beggar in Amul. The people of Mecca decided to give lie to
his claim, until one day they found a man [that is, a beggar] and
took him there [to meet the Tabari who was making so much noise].
He [the Tabari] asked the mendicant: 'Are you from Amul? [The
mendicant] answered: 'Yes, I am from Amul, and the quarter in which
I live is Hazmih Kuy. 'The mendicant described every aspect of
Amul. The Tabari then tried to confuse him, asking the names they
used in Amul for certain objects, and found his answers to be
wrong. And so he told the man that he was fraudulent. Then that man
admitted that he was really a native of Ray and had been taken to
Amul in his childhood by his parents. (Ibn Isfandiyar, History of
Tabaristan, HMB translation; see pp. 33-4.)

Edward Browne takes up the translation here:

The taxes and imposts of Tabaristan are light, and especially was
this the case under the rule of the House of Bawand [Bavand], while
the water is abundant, good, and freely accessible to all. The
satraps, governors and Ispahbads of Tabaristan have always enjoyed
a great influence, and Kisras and Caliphs alike have sought their
advice and counsel. Their doctors, scribes, physicians, astronomers
and poets also include many famous names, and, from the time of
Feridun [Firaydun] and Minuchihr [Manuchihr], who have been already
mentioned, many great and notable men have sought refuge there...
(Ibn Isfandiyar's History of Tabaristan, p. 34 as translated by
Edward Granville Browne) <p294>
Ibn Isfandiyar mentions that Dara, 'fleeing before Alexander, took
refuge in Tabaristan, and sent a message to the invader, saying,
"I grant that you have conquered the Seven Climes, but what will
you do with Farshwadjar?"'[1] (Ibn Isfandiyar, History of
Tabaristan, p. 35)
[1. An ancient name for Mazindaran and Gilan.]

Now we come to the 'wonders of Tabaristan': Ibn Isfandiyar first
mentions Mount Damavand and says:

'Ali Ibn Rabban al-Katib mentions in his book Firdaws al-Hlkmat
that from the village Ask to the summit, the ascent takes two days,
and that [the summit] is like a conical dome. There is permanent
snow all round it except at the top, where in the space of thirty
jaribs snow does not settle either in the summer or in the winter.
There it is all sand, into which the feet sink. When you stand on
the sand at the summit all the peaks round look like hills, and the
Caspian Sea can be seen right at the front. There are three[2]
cavities at the top of this mount from which sulphurous vapours are
emitted, and tremendous sounds are heard coming out of these
cavities, caused by the flaming of fire; and in truth, there is
fire within this mount; and because of the heavy wafting of wind
no animal can stay there. It is said that the Philosopher's Stone
of the alchemists can be obtained there. Yazdadi relates that in
the days of Shamsu'l-Ma'ali Qabus there was a young man called the
son of Amir Ka, who found there red sulphur and produced gold. When
the king came to know he ran away. (Ibn Isfaniyar, History of
Tabaristan, HMB translation; see pp. 35-6.)
[2. Browne translates as 'thirty craters and fissures.' (Ed.)]

Ibn Isfandiyar mentions a number of other wonders that are found
in Tabaristan. One of these is located in the district of
Umidvarih-Kuh. There is a well in that area, he says, which is
called Chah-i-Vijan, and cannot be fathomed. Time and again great
lengths of ropes were taken there, tied together and let down into
the well, but the bottom could not be touched. And when they threw
stones into it the noise of their falling could be heard for a long
time. He further records that in summertime a scented and cool
breeze blows out from the depths of the well. There are trees
around it which provide fragrant timber. Sitting on that wood
during the summer affords coolness (History of Tabaristan, p. 39).
Ibn Isfandiyar is most keen to enumerate and describe as many as
possible of the 'wonders of Tabaristan', some of which are trivial,
such as the description of a mountain where a poisonous plant

Some Rulers of Tabaristan

The most notable of all the rulers and kings who came out of <p295> <p296>
Tabaristan were the sovereigns of Al-i-Buyih or the Buwayhids (AD
932-1062). There were three brothers: 'Ali, Hasan and Ahmad, to
whom the 'Abbasid caliphs of Baghdad were compelled to assign the
titles: 'Imadu'd-Dawlih (the Mainstay of the State), Ruknu'd-Dawlih
(the Pillar of the State), and Mu'izzu'd-Dawlih (He Who Gives Might
to the State), respectively. Ahmad occupied Baghdad, and made the
caliph his puppet. The Buwayhids--were Shi'ihs of the
Ithna-Ashariyyah, or Twelver, denomination. Spiritually they did
not owe allegiance to the 'Abbasids. But facing an Islamic world,
preponderantly Sunni, they had to maintain the caliph on his
throne. The people of Daylam and Gil (Tabaristan and Gilan), having
stood out for long against the encroachments of the Arab invaders,
and clinging to their Zoroastrian Faith for many decades, spurned
the Islam of the caliphs: Damascene or 'Iraqi, and always gave
refuge to those descendants of 'Ali, who, fleeing from the
tyrannies of the caliphs, sought security amongst them. And it was
a descendant of 'Ali, a member of the House of Muhammad, who led
them into the Shi'ih fold.


mentioned by the author. Numerals refer to the chronological
sequence of the Imams and AD dates are given.

1. 'Ali Ibn Abi-Talib 63Z-661
2. Hasan Ibn 'Ali 661-669
3. Husayn Ibn 'Ali 669-680
4. 'Ali II, Zaynu'l-'Abidin 680-712
5. Muhammad al-Baqir 712-734
6. Ja'far as-Sadiq 734-765
7. Musa al-Kazim 765-799
8. 'Ali Ibn Musa'r-Rida 799-818

Let us begin the story of Tabaristan where Ibn Isfandiyar begins,
with the tragic tale of one of the most accomplished men whom one
encounters in the chronicles of Islam: 'Abdu'llah Ibna'l-Muqaffa'.
This extraordinary man, although professing Islam, was in truth an
enthusiastic Manichaean. By translating Pahlavi texts into Arabic,
with his own embroidering and interpellation, he tried to diffuse
Manichaean doctrines. Al-Muqaffa', whose real name was Dadhbih, son
of Dasdhjushras, fell to the fury of Mansur, the second of the
'Abbasid caliphs (AD 754-75), who had him put to death in a most <p297>
horrific manner. For the people of Tabaristan, who would not submit
to the Arab caliph, the work and the fate of 'Abdu'llah
Ibna'l-Muqaffa' provided both an inspiration and a warning.


mentioned by the author. Numerals refer to the chronological
sequence of the Caliphs and AD dates are given.

2. 'Al-Mansur 754-775
5. Ar-Rashid 786-809
7. Al-Ma'mun 813-833
8. Al-Mu'tasim 833-842
10. Al-Mutawakkil 847-861
12. Al-Musta'in 862-866
18. Al-Muqtadir 909-932
20. Ar-Radi 934-940

According to Ibn Isfandiyar, Farshvdhgar[1] encloses Tabaristan,
Daylamistan and Gilan (History of Tabaristan, p. 14). Then this
author of the history of Tabaristan gives details of the early days
of city-building in that delectable area, and ascribes actions to
kings and rulers and heroes of the ancient past, who, we know now,
were chiefly mythical figures, but also we know that some of them
were historic persons whose real names have been forgotten in the
course of centuries by their fellow-countrymen, and feats have come
to be ascribed to them which are figments of imagination. But this
much is certain, that well-famed towns and cities of Tabaristan (or
Mazindaran) go back to antiquity (History of Tabaristan, pp.
14-30). Ibn Isfandiyar relates that the Jami' Mosque of the town
of Sari was built by a descendant of Imam 'Ali during the reign of
Harun ar-Rashid (AD 786-809), but Prince Mazyar, the son of Qaran,
completed the construction (History of Tabaristan, p. 17).
[1. According to Arsene Darmesteter (1849-94). the celebrated
French orientalist, this name is a corruption of Patashkhwar, the
name of the mountain range which separates Tabaristan from the rest
of the Iranian Plateau.]

Having mentioned Prince Mazyar, it is well to stop here and tell
his story. Even if Mazyar did, as Ibn Isfandiyar alleges, finish
the work of raising a mosque at Sari, he remained firmly wedded to
his Zoroastrian Faith. He was a leader of the Mubayyadah (the
White-Clad), deadly opposed to the other grouping, the Musawwidah,
who donned black garments to indicate their attachment to the House
of <p298>
'Abbas. Mazyar yearned with all the intensity of his soul to drive
the Arabs out of the whole of Iran, and detested those of his own
nation who had not only embraced the Faith of the Arabian Prophet,
but were totally submissive to their conquerors and, even more,
supported them. Mazyar made a pact with Afshin, who was also of
royal lineage (his ancestors had ruled over Transoxania and hence
Haydar al-Afshin was wrongly called a Turk), to end the domination
of the 'Abbasids. According to Ibn Isfandiyar, Qaran, the father
of Mazyar, had gone to Baghdad at the invitation of the caliph who
wished him to embrace Islam, but Qaran refused and returned home.

Mazyar was at odds with his own great uncle, Ispahbud Shahriyar,
and wished to be the sole champion of Tabaristan. He picked a
quarrel with Shahriyar, but was routed in the battle that ensued
and fled to the domain of a cousin. The victor in that contest was
firmly demanding that the vanquished should be handed over to him.
Mazyar managed to escape and took refuge with 'Abdu'llah Ibn Sa'id
al-Jarshi, the Caliph Ma'mun's (AD 813-33) representative in Ray,
who had been well acquainted with Mazyar's father and grandfather.
After a while this representative took Mazyar with him to Baghdad.
There the prince of Tabaristan met Bizist, the astronomer (or
rather, the astrologer) to Ma'mun. This man was a native of Amul
and promised Mazyar every assistance within his capacity. His
praises of Mazyar made Ma'mun eager to receive him. To make the
story short, the caliph was greatly impressed by Mazyar and when
the right moment came, the prince of Tabaristan was given the
mountainous regions of Tabaristan to rule.

Mazyar very soon found means to rid himself of Ispahbud Shapur, a
grandson of Ispahbud Sharvin. Gradually Mazyar's excesses became
hard for the people to bear. Ma'mun came to hear of their
complaints and sent his astronomer to investigate. Mazyar, while
giving Bizist a most friendly reception, managed to terrify him.
Consequently, when he and the qadis of Amul and Ruyan reached
Baghdad they declared that all was well. However, the qadi of Amul
could not escape the pangs of conscience and confessed that he had
lied to the caliph. Ma'mun was then on the point of leaving Baghdad
to levy war on Byzantium, and promised that on his return he would
take action against Mazyar. In the meantime, the people of Amul and
Ruyan broke into revolt. Mazyar put down the rebellion with a heavy
hand and stopped a description of the true picture reaching
Baghdad, whilst <p299>
continuously sending false reports to the caliph. Though himself
an ardent leader and supporter of the Mubayyadah, in his reports
to Ma'mun he laid all the blame for unrest and revolt at the door
of those White-Clads and assured the caliph that he had the
situation well in hand. Ma'mun, in order to satisfy himself, sent
an emissary, Muhammad Ibn Sa'id, to find how matters stood in
Tabaristan. He too, beguiled by Mazyar, exonerated him. Now Ma'mun
took the extraordinary step of turning over the whole of Tabaristan
to its prince. (His governance lasted two years, to AD 839. Ed.)

Well satisfied with his success, Mazyar came almost into the open.
He meant to destroy the 'Abbasids, and began persecuting all who
were inclined towards them. Muslims were flung into prisons and
their gaolers were Mazdeans and Khurramdinis.[1] Ma'mun died in the
year 833 and his brother, Muhammad al-Mu'tasim, succeeded him.
'Abdu'llah, the Tahirid emir of Khurasan and Ray, took Mazyar to
task but Mazyar did not heed him. It is claimed that Babak (a
Mazdean or a Mazdaki), who was little more than an adventurer, was
in league with Mazyar and Afshin, but the latter betrayed him and
sent him in chains to Baghdad where Mu'tasim put him cruelly to
death. Mazyar, who knew that before long he would have to fight for
his life, was turning Tabaristan into a well-entrenched and
fortified war camp. Afshin, on the other hand, had his eyes on the
vastness of Khurasan. He hoped that the Tahirid emir, in any
contest, would be worsted by Mazyar, and then it would fall to him
to liberate Khurasan from the 'Abbasid yoke. However, Mazyar's
wretched rule nullified all that Afshin had hoped. The prince of
Tabaristan dispossessed the Bavandi Ispahbuds, in the first
instance, and then, apart from one brother, Kuhyar, who had served
him well, he denied his other brothers and his relatives what was
theirs by right. His enormities mounted high and the people of
Tabaristan were heartily sick of him.
[1. Khuramdinis are reputed to have been followers of Mazdak, the
heresiarch of the days of Ghubra and Chosroes I, Sasanian

At last 'Abdu'llah, the Tahirid emir, struck. Three armies
converged on Tabaristan. Now Mazyar's relatives, even his favoured
brother, Kuhyar, betrayed him. It was Kuhyar who led the enemy to
his brother's lair. A present-day historian, Isma'il Mahjuri,
writes that the men on the trail of Mazyar went through passes and
passed by forts that 'until that day no stranger's feet had
trodden'. Mazyar was taken into custody and hauled before the
Tahirid emir, who, well <p300>
aware of Afshin's complicity with Mazyar, asked the chained prince
of Tabaristan to give him the letters he had received from the
prince of Transoxania. Furthermore, on the road to 'Iraq and
Samarra, the Tahirid gave Mazyar so much wine to drink that the
prince's tongue was loosened, and he blurted out all the details
of his secret pact with Afshin. Thus that brave man from
Transoxania was also doomed. Mu'tasim himself supervised and
directed Afshin's arrest. No matter how tyrannous and devious the
prince of Tabaristan was, no matter how many he had injudiciously
sent to their death, he was a very brave man and he yearned to free
his native land. Afshin, too, was brave and had motives beyond
reproach. Their cruel deaths showed, once again, the hollowness of
the claims of the 'Abbasids. Their rule was far from humane. The
twin corpses of Mazyar and Afshin graced the gates of Mu'tasim's
capital for many years.

Mazyar was dead, but not the independent spirit of the people of
Tabaristan. Their goal was the same as Mazyar's: to make a clean
sweep of the alien rule. Now as the tyranny of the governor
appointed by the Tahirids pressed hard upon them, the people of
Tabaristan turned to the scions of the House of the Prophet to
extricate them from the clutches of their oppressors.

When 'Abdu'llah al-Ma'mun, the seventh 'Abbasid caliph, named 'Ali
Ibn Musa ar-Rida, the eighth Imam, to be his successor, many of his
relatives (and he had twenty-one brothers) made their way to the
great city of Ray and its neighbourhood. But those halcyon days did
not last long. Under pressure from his rebellious kinsmen, Ma'mun
was forced to change his decision. Shi'ihs have always maintained
that at Tus in Khurasan, where Harun ar-Rashid, the father of
Ma'mun, had died and was buried, the 'Abbasid caliph gave Imam Rida
poisoned grapes, causing his death. The magnificent Shrine of Imam
Rida at Mashhad in Khurasan is one of the holiest shrines of the
Islamic world. In the shadow of the tomb is also situated the grave
of Harun ar-Rashid, held in opprobrium by the Shi'ihs. Following
the death of the eighth Imam, the descendants of 'Ali who had
congregated in Iran fled to the safety of Daylamistan (soon to
attain fame as the homeland of the Buwayhids) and Tabaristan. Some
of them lost their lives, but the majority found protection
afforded by the Ispahbuds of Tabaristan.

After the death of al-Mutawakkil (AD 847-61), the 'Abbasid caliph
who was particularly hostile to the family of 'Ali, the descendants
of <p301>
'Ali began to assert themselves. One of them, Yahya Ibn 'Umar--a
descendant of Zayd, the son of the fourth Imam--who lived in
retirement in Kufah, took steps to lead a revolt. A century before,
his grandsire Zayd, driven to rebellion because the minions of the
Umayyad caliph Hisham (AD 724-43) had denied him justice, had done
the same and had lost his life.

Now, when it became evident that Yahya Ibn 'Umar was going to
challenge the 'Abbasids, the people of 'Iraq came to him with a
proposition: if it was impecuniosity which had induced him to
appear as a rebel, they would collect all he needed of the goods
of the world and present them to him. But Yahya refused to accept
riches from them because his whole object, he said, was to rescue
the Faith of Muhammad from degradation. He too lost his life,
fighting Muhammad, the Tahirid emir of Khurasan, whom the caliph
sent against him. When Yahya died, more of his kinsmen, scions of
the House of 'Ali, hastened to the refuge of Daylam and Tabaristan.

Once the Tahirids had Tabaristan in their power, they installed a
tyrannical and brutal governor, Muhammad Ibn Aws, who made life
miserable for the people of that region. For a while they just
groaned, but finally they appealed to the cowed descendants of 'Ali
to come to their rescue. In the city of Ruyan there lived a
descendant of Hasan, the second Imam, named Muhammad Ibn Ibrahim,
famed for his piety and integrity. The leaders of the people of
Tabaristan invited him to put himself at their head, to challenge
the Tahirids and their 'Abbasid overlords. Muhammad Ibn Ibrahim
felt unable to shoulder the responsibility but directed these
determined men to take their case to his brother-in-law, Hasan Ibn
Zayd, who lived in Ray. As soon as the notables of Tabaristan made
their proposal to Hasan Ibn Zayd, he eagerly undertook to lead them
into battle. That resolute, unflinching man is known to history as
Da'ia'l-Kabir (the Great Caller). He fought many battles, and
disentangled many rivalries amongst the Ispahbuds of that enclave
by the Caspian Sea. His chief adversary was the Tahirid Sulayman,
son of Amir 'Abdu'llah. When worsted on every side Sulayman hit
upon a plan to win over the Daylamites, but the plan miscarried and
the defeated Sulayman escaped to Gurgan. Having abandoned his wife
and children at Sari, he wrote to the Da'i to beg the restoration
of his family, and the latter was magnanimous enough to accede to
his request. That final victory over the Tahirid brought great joy
to the Da'i because he felt that his fallen <p302>
kinsman, Yahya Ibn 'Umar, had been avenged.

Once firmly established in the governance of Tabaristan, the Da'i
proceeded with the establishment of the Shi'ih doctrine throughout
his domain. He instructed his appointees in all the towns and
cities of Tabaristan to follow in every detail the rulings of 'Ali
Ibn Abi-Talib, the first Imam, and gave them a specific line of
guidance which made the Shi'ih practice the pattern for the whole
province. But his brand of Shi'ism was Zaydi, neither Isma'ili nor
Ithna-'Ashari. As for Sulayman, he realized that the role he had
played in Tabaristan was over, and so wended his way to Baghdad
where the caliph, al-Musta'in, gave him the constabulary of his

The fame of the Da'i reached an ever-widening circle, and large
numbers of the descendants of 'Ali came pouring into Tabaristan.
It is related that whenever Da'i rode out, three hundred siyyids
with drawn swords accompanied him. But Da'i knew no peace. His very
successes in capturing city after city outside Tabaristan, which
included the great city of Ray, brought forces against him which
he could not withstand. He became a fugitive, but had another turn
of fortune which regained him much that he had lost. But once again
an adversary loomed on the horizon--no less a person than Ya'qub
Ibn Layth-i-Saffar. Ya'qub himself had been an adventurer and had
risen from humble beginnings to great power. He too was a Shi'ih,
and a Twelver to boot. He had nothing but contempt for the
'Abbasids, and no respect for the Da'i's pretensions. Ya'qub came
storming into Tabaristan, and although the Daylams scorned him he
took it out of the people of other regions, particularly those of
Kujur. The Saffarid intruder was not obstructed by human beings
only. Elements and insects of the thick woods also combined to
punish him. Forty consecutive days of lightning, thunder and rain
decimated the ranks of his army. Nearly forty thousand of his
soldiers perished. Flies killed most of the camels which carried
his equipage. Ya'qub was glad to leave Tabaristan behind him.

Next, Da'i came up against one of the Ispahbuds of the House of
Bavand. His name was Rustam, and although outwardly at peace with
the Da'i, he intended to have the whole of Tabaristan to himself.
However, his effort remained fruitless; the ebbs and tides of the
flow of fortune kept Da'i still riding the storms. But then gout
killed him. His was an amazing episode. Muhammad, his brother,
succeeded him. Ispahbud Rustam tried once again to assert himself
and once <p303>
again was beaten. In the end he lost his life by treachery.

Now another star had risen on the horizon of Khurasan. Amir
Isma'il, the Samanid, although claiming descent from the nobility
of pre-Islamic Iran, was a Sunni devoted to the House of 'Abbas.
He had overthrown 'Amr, the brother of Ya'qub Ibn Layth who was a
Twelver Shi'ih, at the express order of the 'Abbasid caliph. And
next he turned on Muhammad Ibn Zayd in Tabaristan. Muhammad died
on the battlefield, and his son Zayd was captured and taken to
Bukharh. Zayd's tragic story reached the ears of Amir Isma'il.
Magnanimously the Saminid ruler allowed him, should he wish, to
return to Tabaristan. But Zayd preferred retirement in Bukhara.

Muhammad Ibn Zayd, who ruled over Tabaristan for sixteen years, was
a very generous man, helping his kinsmen in Medinah and providing
them with ample funds. Moreover, he rebuilt the Shrines of the
Imams in Najaf and Karbila, which the impious hands of the
'Abbasid, al-Mutawakkil, had desecrated and destroyed.

The reign of the House of 'Ali in Tabaristan was over, but not
their influence. Abu-Muhammad, Hasan Ibn 'Ali, known as
Nasiru'l-Haqq--a descendant of 'Umar al-Ashraf, son of the fourth
Imam--had to flee to Daylamistan in company with many others of the
descendants of the first Imam. As soon as he reached safety he
began to teach the Shi'ih doctrine. Jastan III of Daylam, the son
of Vahsudan, embraced that variety of Islam which he was preaching.
Until this point of time, there is every reason to believe that the
rulers and the people of Daylam had tenaciously kept their old
Faith. Although its identity is not very clear, it has been alleged
that it may not have been Zoroastrian (Mazdean). Whatever the case,
the independent spirit of the people of Daylam, evident long before
the coming of Islam and the Arabs, had made these brave people the
cynosure of the vastly greater number of men amongst whom they
lived. But here we must once again make a diversion and go with the
years, to learn a little more about the Daylamites from whose
lowest ranks the glorious House of Buyih emerged.

That Caspian province, north of the Elburz range, which is known
today as Gilan, was known as Daylaman in the days when Sasinians
were the masters of Iran. And in that province, Siyyid
Ahmad-i-Kasravi[1] tells us, dwelt two tribes, one named Gil and
the other <p304>
Daylam. The first tribe had its haunts in those areas where today
the cities of Rasht and Lahijan are situated, the second grouping
occupied more southerly regions, where we now have the settlements
of Rudbar and Alamut.[2] Apparently these two tribes came from the
same stock. In the course of time they separated. The Daylams were
more numerous and more powerful, and were determined to reject
whatever and whomsoever were alien to their land. Rebellious in
pre-Islamic times, the coming of Islam and the Arabs made them even
more determined not to submit. They fought the Arabs in battle
after battle.
[1. A brilliant but erratic Persian historian of recent years. His
highly unorthodox and extravagant views led him into a courtroom,
on trial for heresy. Fanatics broke into the Court of Justice and
murdered him.]
[2. Alamut became the fortress of Hasan-i-Sabbah. the Isma'ili
ruler (AlD 1090-1124).]

Towards the end of the second century Hejira (Hijrah), circa AD
796, one encounters the dynasty of Jastaniyan holding the reins of
authority in the Daylam country. The most famous of these rulers
was Jastan III. The friendly reception which he accorded to
Nasiru'l-Haqq resulted in the conversion of the Daylams to the
Faith of the Arabian Prophet. They became fervent Shi'ihs, totally
rejecting the 'Abbasids. Jastan unhesitatingly took up the cudgels
on the part of the descendants of 'Ali and fought the Samanids.
Although once defeated, he did not give up the contest. But the
next episode in the history of this dynasty is indeed strange.
Jastan III was murdered by his brother, 'Ali, whose name indicates
that he had become a Muslim. Next we hear of 'Ali breaking away
from the long tradition of his people and becoming a partisan of
al-Muqtadir (908-32), the vacillating, unreliable 'Abbasid caliph.
But true to his colours Muqtadir eventually dismissed 'Ali. Now the
power of the Jastaniyans was on the wane.

An event of great interest which occurred during the years of
Muqtadir's caliphate was the raid of the hitherto unknown Russians
on the shores of Tabaristan. They were uncouth pagans and robbers.
Their sudden descent on Tabaristan caused some havoc, many were
killed and homes and warehouses were pillaged; but the Russian
raiders were driven out in the end.

The Samanids did not keep Tabaristan for long. As soon as their
official, Muhammad-i-Bal'ami, withdrew, Nasiru'l-Haqq gathered
forces from Gil and Daylam and wrested the province from its
unwanted occupiers. Further attempts to win Tabaristan for the
Samanids proved fruitless and Nasiru'l-Haqq remained its master to
the end of his days, although he left governance to others and
retired <p305>
from rulership, devoting his time to literature and the furtherance
of knowledge and authorship. Men came from far and wide to sit at
his feet and learn. Nasiru'l-Haqq (also known as Nasir-i-Kabir:
Nasir, the Great) died at the advanced age of ninety-five.

The rest of the story of the siyyids and their rule over Tabaristan
is characterized by constant struggle. There were many claimants,
and the Samanids were never totally absent from the scene. One of
them, Amir Nasr, a very accomplished ruler, never took the field
himself except once and that nearly ended in disaster. But now,
other men of ability and ambition had arrived, men such as Makan,
the son of Kaki; Asfar, the son of Shiruyih; Mardavij, the son of
Ziyar. As soon as Hasan Ibn Qasim, the last of the siyyid
potentates, was killed outside the city of Amul in the year 928,
Asfar established himself as the sole ruler of Tabaristan. Asfar
and Mardavij were both Daylamites, Makan in Ray represented the
Samanids. The two Daylamites fell out between themselves, and Asfar
lost. Now, Mardavij, whom C. E. Bosworth characterizes as 'one of
the fiercest of these Daylami condottieri' (The Islamic Dynasties,
p. 92), had the field entirely to himself and ranged as far as
Isfahan and Hamadan.

About this time, the three brothers, 'Ali, Hasan and Ahmad (see p.
296)) sons of Buyih, a Daylamite who had been for years in the
service of Makan, seeing him much reduced, left him and joined
Mardavij. They were destined to found a dynasty which overpowered
the 'Abbasids--the desideratum of all the Daylamites. Mardavij,
although outwardly converted to Islam, was secretly, like his
brother Vushmagir and Asfar, a dedicated Mazdean. He tried to
revive the traditions of the Sasanians, and detested the Caliphate
as heartily as any faithful man of Daylam and Gil. At Isfahan (in
the winter of 934-5) he suddenly ordered the observance of the
rites of Sadih, the winter festival[1] of the Mazdeans. Soon, in
that city, he met his death at the hands of his Turkish officers.
Finding that they had been negligent with the preparation for the
festival--lighting a huge bonfire on the banks of Zayandih-Rud--he
was enraged, and the Turks, fearing for their lives, caught him
unaware in his bath and murdered him. Thus died one of the most
remarkable men of Daylam, whom Bosworth stigmatizes as one of the
'condottieri'. (Mardavij, a Ziyarid, ruled from AD 927 to 935. Ed.)
[1. The four great festivals of pre-Islamic Iran consisted of
Naw-ruz (Spring), Tir (Summer), Mihragan (Autumn), Sadih (Winter).
Mihragan--the festival of Mihr (Sun), recalled the worship of
Mithra.] <p306>
Strangely enough, the sons of Buyih did not remain tied to the
Al-i-Ziyar (Ziyarids), and the obvious reason can be found in the
ambitions which they themselves nurtured. They were set to dominate
the whole world of Islam. Of course they did not attain that
zenith, but nevertheless they rose to great heights. The whole of
Tabaristan, and not only Tabaristan but the whole complex of
Islamic society, stretching from the vale of Oxus and the foothills
of Hindu-Kush to the waters of the Atlantic, experienced many an
upheaval in the opening decades of the fourth Hejira century.

Vushmagir had to contend with the Al-i-Buyih right to the end. And
when he died in a riding accident, his two sons, Bisutun, or
Bihistun, and Qabus, fought over his heritage. The younger, Qabus,
was soon forced to seek refuge in Bukhara, of all places. Mansur,
the Samanid Amir, helped him, whereas the elder brother had been
aided by 'Adudu'd-Dawlih, the greatest ruler of the Buwayhids.
However, Bisutun died in 978 and Qabus came into full possession
of Tabaristan. Shamsu'l-Ma'ali Qabus (reigned 978-1012) is one of
the most notable princes of Tabaristan. He was a talented man, well
versed in literature, and was also a man of great ability. But the
rivalries of the Buwayhids entangled him as well. 'Adudu'd-Dawlih
had incurred the displeasure of his father, Ruknu'd-Dawlih, because
he had challenged his cousin, Izzu'd-Dawlih Bakhtiyar the son of
Mu'izzu'd-Dawlih Ahmad (one of the three brothers, founders of the
Buwayhid Dynasty), and led his armies to Baghdad. But the ailing
Ruknu'd-Dawlih, who died in Isfahan in September 976, was
reconciled with his son before his death, appointing him his
successor. 'Adudu'd-Dawlih had a full brother, Mu'ayyidu'd-Dawlih
Buyih, and a half-brother Fakhru'd-Dawlih 'Ali. Now,
'Adudu'd-Dawlih, disregarding the injunctions of his father, sent
Mu'ayyidu'd-Dawlih to fight their half-brother, who, unable to
withstand the onslaught, fled to Tabaristan and sought the aid of
Shamsu'l-Ma'ali Qabus. Mu'ayyidu'd-Dawlih demanded in rude terms
the surrender of Fakhru'd-Dawlih, which infuriated a man as refined
as Shamsu'l-Ma'ali. Inevitably battle was joined between them, but
Qabus did not have an army strong enough to keep the Buwayhid at
bay. Together with the Buwayhid prince, who had taken refuge with
him, he took the road to Khurasan. There, Nuh II, the Samanid Amir,
gave Qabus the aid he required. But treachery undid them. Once
again, in Khurasan, Qabus and Fakhru'd-Dawlih found themselves
hopelessly stranded, <p307>
because the Samanids, themselves rapidly in decline, could no
longer aid them. The stalwart men who had come to the fore were
Sabuk-takin and his son, Mahmud, the Ghaznavid, Turks and
fanatically Sunni.

However, death came to the rescue of Fabru'd-Dawlih. First,
'Adudu'd-Dawlih and then, within a year, Mu'ayyidu'd-Dawlih died.
Fakru'd-Dawlih came back to regain his patrimony. But he proved to
be an ingrate. He gave Tabaristan to a general who had deserted the
Samanids. Fakru'd-Dawlih was indeed a man of uncertain character.
The great vizier, Sahib Ibn 'Abbad, had helped him to his throne
and with wise guidance had enabled him to retain it, but as soon
as Sahib died, Fakhru'd-Dawlih broke his word, confiscated all of
Sahib's property and threw the relatives of that wonderful man into
prison. Death overtook Fakru'd-Dawlih in 997. At last, after
seventeen years of exile, Shamsu'l-Ma'ali returned to his beloved
Tabaristan. Notwithstanding all his splendid attainments,
Shamsu'l-Ma'ali Qabus, having known bitter years of adversity, had
developed a hardness and harshness of character which lost him many
friends. After some years, the independent spirit of the people of
Tabaristan could no longer tolerate his excesses. Condemning to
death Ispahbud Shahriyar, the Bavandi prince, as well as Na'im
Zaman, his own chamberlain and a much loved man, brought its
retribution. Qabus fled to Bastam in Khurasan. His son,
Falaku'l-Ma'ali Manuchihr, stood by him and wished him to return.
But Qabus knew that he could no longer rule the people of
Tabaristan. Manuchihr placed him in a fortress for his own safety,
but a number of generals made their way into the fortress and
murdered him. Thus ended the life of one of the most talented and
accomplished men who had ever adorned the scene of Tabaristan. Now
the days of the Ziyarids as well as the Buwayhids were drawing to
a close.

Falaku'l-Ma'ali Manuchihr had to make his submission to Mahmud, the
Ghaznavid, and marry a daughter of that unbearable fanatic. The end
of the Ziyarid rule is a matter of conjecture. Did Unsuru'l-Ma'ali,
Kaykavus, the author of the celebrated work, Qabus- Namih,[1] and
his son Gilan-Shah (for whose edification that book was composed
by his learned and worldly-wise father) ever rule over Tabaristan?
Opinions differ and diverge. But that which is certain is the
fact--sad though it is--that the curtain had come down <p308>
over the independence of Tabaristan in the days of Falaku'l-Ma'ali
Manuchihr, attachment to whom made Abu'n-Najm Ahmad, the famed poet
of Damghan, adopt Manuchihri as his nom de plume.
[1. Translated into English by Reuben Levy under the title of 'A
Mirror for Princes'.]

One could relate in detail the adventures, oftentimes gripping, of
the Ispahbuds, whose forebear was Kayus, a Sasanid prince, brother
of the great Anushirvan, Chosroes I . Those Ispahbuds of the House
of Bavand grace the history of Tabaristan, but they did not spring
from the stock of Daylam or Gil. We have already had glimpses of
the House of Jastan which brought forth wise and just rulers.
Tabaristan had another line of Ispahbuds, variously known as
Musafirids, Salarids, or Kangarids, who had Daylamistan within
their grasp, but only for a short time. Adharbayjan was their main
hunting-ground until the Isma'ilis of Alamut ended their power in
the middle of the eleventh century.

The story of Tabaristan, independent Tabaristan, had reached its
close. The Saljuqs, who came next, rode roughshod over that
dearly-cherished province by the Caspian Sea. But some flicker of
its independence remained, until it was totally extinguished by the
man who established Shi'ism throughout Iran: the Safavid, Shah

Tabaristan of ancient fame was dead. But Mazindaran (the new
Tabaristan) lived to attain the apogee of honour and distinction.
Therein dwelt, flourished and prospered the ancestors of
Baha'u'llah--the Supreme Manifestation of the Almighty God. <p309>
The Ancestry of Baha'u'llah

The celebrated Baha-i scholar, Mirza Abu'l-Fadl-i-Gulpaygani, has
written that at the time when he lived in Tihran a controversy
arose amongst some of the Baha'is regarding the purpose of verses
composed by Shalmaghani that point to the Advent of a Manifestation
of God in future years.

Abu-Ja'far Muhammad Ibn 'Ali was a native of the village of
Shalmaghan, which was situated in the region of Wasit in 'Iraq. So
he was known as ash-Shalmaghani. He was a Shi'ih and a close
associate of Husayn Ibn Ruh, who claimed to be the third deputy of
the Hidden Imam. Husayn Ibn Ruh was a prominent member of the House
of Nawbakht, and owed his appointment to the previous deputy:
Abu-Ja'far Muhammad Ibn 'Uthman al-'Umari. Despite his high
connections, he was thrown into gaol by the highly-capricious
'Abbasid caliph, al-Muqtadir.

Shalmaghani is greatly vilified, because during the period of
Husayn Ibn Ruh's incarceration he changed his views and denied the
existence of a Hidden Imam. The Twelvers, amongst whom Shalmaghani
had enjoyed prestige and leadership, then directed their efforts
towards his destruction. During the caliphate of ar-Radi (AD
934-40) Shalmaghani and Ibrahim Ibn Abi-'Awn, one of his ardent
supporters, were both put to death and their bodies were burned.

In a Tablet addressed to Mullazadih of Tabriz, 'Abdu'l-Baha points
out that Shalmaghani spoke the word of truth, foretelling the rise
of the Divine Luminary from the horizon of Iran, but that men
devoid of truth denounced him and condemned him to death.

The following pages are from the pen of Mirza Abu'l-Fadl, to whom
'Abdu'l-Baha referred Aqa Khusraw Biman for information concerning
the ancestry of Baha'u'llah. His reply was later published <p310>
as a pamphlet in Bombay and is here translated, in part, by the
present author.[1]
[1. Sharh-i-Shajarih Namih-i-Mubarakih (Description of the Blessed
Genealogy). See Bibliography.]

'Some considered that the poem under consideration carried the
tidings of the Advent of the Primal Point. They took the word
"Farsi" that appears in the poem to be the same as "Shirazi".
Others considered the reference to be to the Advent of the Abha
Beauty, because Shalmaghani had denied that the appearance of the
Promised One would be from the House of Hashim, and had prophesied
that the Light of Abha would shine from the House of Kisra
[Chosroes]. Thus it is proved [they concluded] that the prophecy
gave the tidings of the Advent of the Blessed Beauty and not of the

'Sometime previous to that I had noted these words in the Dasatir
[a book related to the Mazdean Faith]: "Should it remain of high
Heaven, I shall raise up one of your people and shall show Him the
Way, and shall not take away prophethood and Lordship from thy
children". And in other books of the Parsis I had observed amongst
the tidings which they carry the definite statement that this
bounty shall be realized after the passage of twelve hundred and
some more years from the time of the inception of the Faith of
Islam: that is to say, before 1300 years have come to pass from the
birth of Islam that shining Luminary will appear over that
delectable horizon. Briefly, for these reasons I reached the
conclusion that the ancestry of the House of Nuris goes back to the
ancient dynasties of Iran; and therefore Shalmaghani intended in
that poem to convey the tidings of the Advent of the Abha Beauty
and not the Advent of the Primal Point.

'However, since firmly holding this conception without the support
of the testimony of history was not a rational act, I went out to
investigate the matter in the history of Tabaristan. Historians
maintain that consequent to the victory of the Muslims over Iran
and the extinction of the Sasanids, some princes of Iran captured
Mazindaran, and several dynasties branching out from them reigned
over that domain for a very long time. Such were the Badustaniyan,
who, as it is retailed in Habibu's-Siyar [a history by Khundmir,
AD 1523], after the abandonment of the capital by Yazdigird the son
of Shahriyar [Yazdigird III, the last of the Sasanids], took over
Mazindaran and <p311>
protected it from domination by the Arabs. The seat of the
government of the Badustaniyan was at the city of Amul and the city
of Barfurush and also other central cities of Tabaristan. For many
a generation the governance of these cities belonged to this
dynasty. And of the kings of Tabaristan there is also the dynasty
of Al-i-Ziyar whose first ruler was Mardavij, the son of Ziyar, who
came to power in the year AH 315 [AD 927] and within a short time
brought all the cities of Tabaristan under his independent reign.
The Ziyarids held power for nearly one-hundred-and-sixty years.
Their capital was Gurgan or Jurjan. They were descendants of
Sasanids. The most famous of them is 'Unsuru'l-Ma'ali Kavus the son
of Vushmagir, son of Mardavij, son of Ziyar of Daylam. To this day,
his book the Qabus-Namih, which he wrote in a style eloquent and
strong for the edification of his son, Gilan-Shah, is well-famed
and pleasing to masters of ethics.

'Again, of the kings of Tabaristan is the dynasty of the Sipahbudan
of Mazindaran. Historians consider them to have been the real kings
of Mazindaran, and trace their descent back to Anushirvan the Just.
The residence and the seat of government of this dynasty was mostly
in the district of Nur and Kujur. Every ruler of this line dwelt
with his family and offspring in the castles of these areas. And
the people of Tabaristan--peasant and landlord, ruler and
governor--kept their Zoroastrian Faith until the third century of
the Hijrah. It was then that Da'iy-i-Kabir, Hasan Ibn
Zayd-i-'Alawi, conquered Tabaristan and the star of the 'Alawid
Zaydiyyih rulership rose over Eastern lands. When that happened all
the people of Tabaristan, young and old, rich and poor, without
compulsion and dislike, guided by this great Emir, were converted
to Islam and became known far and wide as faithful to the Imamate
of the Zaydiyyih School. The rulership remained with this dynasty
until the star of the Safavids rose in turn. Tabaristan was then
governed by the celebrated Emir, Aqa Rustam-i-Ruzafzun. He refused
to acknowledge the sovereignty of Shah Isma'il. Because of that the
emirate of that House became extinct. All of those emirs were well
known for their devotion to the Imams, and for their patronage of
knowledge and learned men. Some of the celebrated savants have
penned invaluable tomes dedicated to the rulers of Gurgan and
Tabaristan. Eminent poets have composed lambent odes in praise of
the Sipahbuds of Mazindaran. One such was Manuchihri, the
well-famed poet of the fifth century AH [eleventh century AD] who
praised <p312>
Falaku'l-Ma'ali Manuchihr, the son of Shamsu'l-Ma'ali Qabus, the
son of Vushmagir, from whose name he adopted his sobriquet. And
another was the celebrated Khaqani, who composed splendid odes in
praise of the Sipahbuds of Mazindaran. Another famous poet,
Zahiri-Fariyabi [twelfth century AD], although in the service and
a panegyrist of Qizil-Arslan [AD 1186-91, Atabak of Adharbayjan]
and a fervent Sunni himself, addressing his patron in an ode tells
him that after thirty years of service in 'Iraq, it is the King of
Mazindaran who supplies the daily bread of the poet. And in another
ode, equivocally he says: "Decided have I to turn towards
Mazindaran. Love of Abu-Bakr and friendship for 'Umar provide not
the means of living."

'In brief, when I noticed these occasions in history books I became
convinced that in all probability I could find correctly the
genealogy of the Abha Beauty. Then a number of trustworthy people
stated that Rida-Quli Khan, entitled Amiru'sh-Shu'ara, has
mentioned in his book Nizhad-Namih that the descent of the House
of Nuris goes back to the just king, Anushirvan. This was a
reliable source, because Hidayat [Rida-Quli Khan's sobriquet],
although immersed in waywardness, is one of the most celebrated
historians of Iran. Rawdatu's-Safay-i-Nasiri is one of his works,
over which he has toiled many years and has rearranged a famous
book. Secondly, Hidayat is an enemy of the Cause of God. The
nonsense which he has included and published in the Appendices to
Rawdatu's-Safa, even overtaking the author of Nasikhu't-Tavarikh
[a history of the world in several volumes by Muhammad-Taqi
Khan-i-Sipihr of Kashan, entitled Lisfinu'l-Mulk] in shameless
fabrication and disparagement, provides clear proof of his enmity.
Therefore it was evident that had he had any doubt regarding the
descent of the House of Nuris from the just monarch, Anushirvan,
he never would have put it on record and given it wide publicity.

'Fortunately, at that very time I met the late Haji Mirza Rida-Quli
[a half-brother of Baha'u'llah] at the home of one of the noblemen
of Tihran. The host, prompted by me, asked Haji Mirza Rida-Quli to
explain who the forebears were of the House of Nuris. He replied
that their descent was from Yazdigird-i-Shahriyar [the last of the
Sasanids]. Our host further enquired whether they had a
genealogical table to indicate their descent, or was it only a
matter of oral tradition and repetition passed on by the prominent
personages of the House? Haji Mirza Rida-Quli replied that such a
genealogical table existed, <p313>
in which the names, the professions, and the entitlements of every
one of the forebears of this House are all recorded, right up to
Yazdigird the son of Shahriyar. One could gather from what he said
that there were several copies extant of that genealogical table
in the possession of his cousins and the prominent members of his

'When these evidences were all obtained I presented a supplication
to the Holy Threshold of the Abha Beauty, stating the variety of
views expressed regarding Shalmaghani's intent and the tidings
related to Iran and the historical evidences that exist. In answer
I was honoured with a Tablet, dated 26 Sha'ban 1299 [July 1882].
Regarding the intent of Shalmaghani in his poem, the Pen of the
All-Merciful did thus inscribe in that holy Tablet: "0 Abu'l-Fadl!
Verily thou hast spoken the truth and hast brought to light that
which was enshrined in his words..." (Sharh-i-Shajarih
Namih-i-Mubarakih, p. 14)

'As it happened, in those years Ustad Javanmard, the principal of
the Parsi School of Yazd and a teacher of the school, who was a
prominent Baha'i of Parsi origin, wrote a supplication and enquired
about the genealogy of the Blessed Perfection. In answer to that
supplication the Tablet of Shir-Mard was revealed. In that Tablet
it is said: "You had enquired about the pure-natured ancestors;
Abu'l-Fadl-i-Gulpaygani, upon whom be My Glory, has written of
heavenly works on this theme that would impart information and
increase perception." Since the text of the Tablet was not
available, here the gist of it was quoted.

'What I have written here is also the gist of the treatise which
I wrote about the holy Family. And since on 28th of Rabi'u'l-Avval
1300 [February 1883], on the orders of Kamran Mirza, the
Nayibu's-Saltanih, a number of friends and myself were arrested in
Tihran, and all my books and writings were looted, the manuscript
of that treatise fell into the hands of enemies and was lost to
me...' <p314>
The Testimony of Ahl-i-Haqq

Ahl-i-Haqq--The People of Truth (the name by which they refer to
themselves)--are known to the public at large as 'Aliyu'llahi,
those who assert the divinity of 'Ali: 'Ali Ibn Abi-Talib, the
cousin of the Prophet Muhammad, the husband of His beloved
daughter, Fatimah, the first to believe in Him (apart from His
wife, Khadijah), the first rightful Imam, the fourth Caliph. Their
own answer to the above allegation is best summed up in this

God, we do not consider 'Ali to be,
And, in no way, separate from God is he.

It was believed and reported by so eminent a historian as Tabari
that 'Abdu'llah Ibn Saba, a Jewish convert, introduced the belief
in the divinity of 'Ali into the realm of Islam, and paid with his
life for that blasphemy, 'Ali himself ordering his death. This view
has been contested in recent years. Whether such a person as
'Abdu'llah Ibn Saba existed or not, the fact remains that the
belief in the divinity of 'Ali was current in Islam from early
days. On occasions it found fantastic expression. There was a group
called Mukhti'ah--the Errant--who maintained that the Angel Gabriel
made an error by bringing the call to Prophethood to Muhammad,
because Prophethood had really been ordained for 'Ali. Even more
ludicrous was the belief of a group of people called Azdariyyah,
who alleged that 'Ali, the father of Hasan and Husayn (the second
and third Imams), was really a man named 'Ali al-Azdari, while the
Imam 'Ali was the Creator, and the Creator cannot possibly have

Enough has been said to indicate the nature of aberrations
regarding 'Ali. Those groups and many others similar to them in the
Shi'ih camp, who upheld such fantastic views, were collectively
called Ghulat--Extremists.

But the Ahl-i-Haqq of recent centuries have nothing in common with
those weavers of fancy, those producers of weird and grotesque <p315>
notions who flourished amazingly in early times. They are an
esoteric denomination; of that there can be no doubt. But they are
also people distinguished for their integrity, tolerance,
amiability and charity. Although they have been much harmed by the
ignorant and the fanatic, they never harm anyone. Their stronghold
is the township of Kirand and the Guran country in western Iran,
not far from the city of Kirmanshah and the border with 'Iraq.

When Baha'u'llah, banished from Iran, reached Kirand on His way to
'Iraq, the notables and the generality of the inhabitants of that
delectable township received Him with marked respect.

That area of western Iran is mostly peopled by ethnic minorities,
chiefly the Kurds. The majority of Kurds are Sunnis, but a sizeable
number of them belong to Ahl-i-Haqq. Consequently almost all the
literature of this esoteric group is in Kurdish, but with a modicum
in Turkish. In Syria and Lebanon, the Ahl-i-Haqq are known as
Nusayri. The Company of Yaristan is another appellation for them,
Yaristan meaning the 'Abode of Friends'.

The fanatics in the Islamic world did great harm to the people of
Yaristan, condemning their prominent men to death. That persecution
drove them underground, and they drew an effective veil over their
beliefs. As a result dissension and varied beliefs appeared among
them. One of the early leaders of Yaristan, Sultan Ishaq (Isaac),
warned his followers against making their beliefs widely known
until the advent of Khavandigar (the Lord). Sultan Ishaq was truly
a ruler, and his seat of government was at Huwayzih in the Persian
oil-province of Khuzistan. He himself was a devotee of Siyyid
Muhammad-i-Musha'sha'. This siyyid, at the hour of death, passed
his power and position to Sultan Ishaq. The Ahl-i-Haqq believe that
because the Sultan had purity of heart and intent, truth was
unfolded to him. But he had inveterate enemies, notably his
brothers, who, although many people had chosen to follow the
Sultan, led a mob against him. Consequently Sultan Ishaq abdicated
and with a number of his followers took the road to northern
regions: Kirand and Guran and Qal'iy-i-Zanjir. When they reached
the vale of Shish, enemies were at their heels. Pir-Binyamin
(Benjamin) asked the Sultan to find a way of rescue. Sultan Ishaq
guided his people to climb to the top of the mount and spend the
night there. The enemies stopped at the base of the mountain,
awaiting dawn to rush the besieged and cut them down. Then, it is
believed, the Sultan ordered this Pir-Binyamin or <p316>
another elder, named Pir-Davar, to take a handful of dust and throw
it at the enemies, whereupon a tremendous storm arose: thunder,
lightning and tempestuous winds. A few of the Sultan's followers
then charged the enemy, who, in the dark and in the thick of the
storm began fighting each other. When dawn came, only a small
number of them had survived the struggle, and when they realized
what had happened, they fled the field.

Now, the story goes, Pir-Binyamin begged the Sultan to show some
particular favour towards those of his followers who had lost their
lives. Sultan Ishaq ordered the Company of Yaristan to fast for
three days in memory of the martyrdom of those Yars (Friends). The
Kurds observe this fast, but there are differences amongst them as
to the exact time and date; some consider it to be at that time of
year when the Pleiades face the moon.

Once the peril was averted, Sultan Ishaq and his followers went to
Kirand and settled in that neighbourhood. The Sultan took his abode
at Qal'iy-i-Zanjir. This place is considered by Ahl-i-Haqq to be
equivalent to the Ka'bah. It is named after Pir-Davar. Very few
ever visit it, because the pilgrimage there is conditional upon
total detachment and renunciation of all earthly ties. There are
two mountains in that area called Valahu and Balabanu by
Ahl-i-Haqq. The latter is the mountain of Sulaymaniyyih, to which
Baha'u'llah went. There Darvish Sidq-'Ali, the attendant of the
Shrine of Pir-Davar, on meeting Him came to see in Him all the
signs by which the Promised One was to be recognized.

Darvish Sidq-'Ali became greatly devoted to Baha'u'llah. Thus did
'Abdu'l-Baha speak of him:

He was a dervish; a man who lived free and detached from friend and
stranger alike. He belonged to the mystic element and was a man of
letters ... unlike the other Sufis he did not devote his life to
dusty hashish ... only searched for God, spoke of God, and followed
the path of God.

He had a fine poetic gift and wrote odes to sing the praises of Him
Whom the world has wronged and rejected...

That free and independent soul discovered, in Baghdad, a trace of
the untraceable Beloved. He witnessed the dawning of the Daystar
above the horizon of 'Iraq, and received the bounty of that
sunrise. He came under the spell of Baha'u'llah, and was enraptured
by that tender Companion. Although he was a quiet man, one who held
his peace, his very limbs were like so many tongues crying out
their message. When the retinue of Baha'u'llah was about to leave
Baghdad he implored permission to go along <p317>
as a groom. All day, he walked beside the convoy, and when night
came he would attend to the horses. He worked with all his heart.
Only after midnight would he seek his bed and lie down to rest; the
bed, however, was his mantle, and the pillow a sun-dried brick.

...In his high station, that of groom, he reigned like a king;
indeed he gloried over the sovereigns of the earth. He was
assiduous in attendance upon Baha'u'llah; in all things, upright
and true...

While in the barracks, Baha'u'llah set apart a special night and
He dedicated it to Darvish Sidq-'Ali. He wrote that every year on
that night the dervishes should bedeck a meeting place, which
should be in a flower garden, and gather there to make mention of

This eminent dervish spent his whole life-span under the sheltering
favor of God. He was completely detached from worldly things. He
was attentive in service, and waited upon the believers with all
his heart. He was a servant to all of them, and faithful at the
Holy Threshold... (Memorials of the Faithful, pp. 368)

That dervish festival mentioned by 'Abdu'l-Baha is styled
'Id-i-Laylatu'l-Quds--the Festival of the Night of Holiness. It is
said that whenever Sultan Ishaq visited the mountains of
Sulaymaniyyih and its environs he told his followers that He Who
ruled over destinies of nations would come there and decide the

Sultan Ishaq was apparently a contemporary of Amir Timur-i-Gurkani
(Tamerlane, AD 1370-1405). He had seven sons, all of whom arose
after the passing of their father to promote his teachings. Each
one of them laid a foundation of belief, and that was why there
came to be seven denominations within the Circle of Yaristan.
Apparently all of the seven were in agreement about points of
belief, differing only about fasting. The following paragraphs
describe how that difference is explained.

Shah Ibrahim, a grandson of Sultan Ishaq, was established in
Baghdad and the fame of his virtues spread far and wide. In Tabriz
the ruler, Shah Jahan, had an official whose son fell terribly ill
and the physicians were unable to cure him. Hearing of the
miraculous deeds attributed to Shah Ibrahim, the official took his
son to Baghdad where Shah Ibrahim cured the boy. Today the book of
Qushchi-'Ughli, the son of that official, is well regarded and
treasured by Ahl-i-Haqq. That book of verses, all in Turkish, has
many references to the advent of the Bab and His martyrdom in
Adharbayjan, and to the advent of Baha'u'llah in Baghdad and His
sojourn in the Holy Land. Until Qushchi came to Baghdad the
membership of Yaristan was confined <p318>
to the Kurds, but after his attachment to Shah Ibrahim an
appreciable number of Turks came within its orbit.

Seven men, it is related, took the road to Baghdad, full of zeal,
singing, dancing, and playing their musical instruments, but since
they had not been summoned by Shah Ibrahim and had not obtained his
permission before setting out, they were endangered by a snowstorm
and died in a cave where they had taken refuge. Pir-Binyamin
requested Shah Ibrahim to bestow some favour upon them, and he
instituted fasting for a week in their memory. Again Pir-Binyamin
intervened. Many of the members of Yaristan, he pleaded, would
succumb should they refrain from eating and drinking for seven
days. Then Shah Ibrahim reduced the days of fasting to three. This
is why, it is explained, the Turks of Yaristan observe the fast in
memory of those who perished in the cave, while the Kurds of
Yaristan do it in remembrance of the martyrs who died defending
Sultan Ishaq.

Khan-Atash, who was a contemporary of Nadir Shah (1736-47), the
Afsharid, put a ban on fasting. He is the last of the spiritual
guides and was a descendant of Sultan Ishaq. He based his
pronouncement on the words of Sultan Ishaq and Shah Ibrahim, who
had definitely stated that their decree of fasting would endure
until the Advent of Khavandigar, and then the command would be His.
Khan-Atash declared that this Advent was close at hand, and the
people of Yaristan should be exceedingly happy and rejoice.
Khan-Atash left no successor.

Haji Mirza 'Abdu'llah-i-Sahih-Furush (resident in Tihran) was a
prominent member of the Company of Yaristan. Having
enthusiastically embraced the Baha'i Faith and being well
acquainted with all the texts of Ahl-i-Haqq, he was moved to
compose a book,[1] ,pointing out and proving that the prophecies
contained in those texts have all been fulfilled in the Advents of
the Bab and Baha'u'llah.
[1. The title of his book was Istidlaliyyih Baray-i-Ahl-i-Haqq. He
died several decades ago. See Bibliography. (Ed.)]

Many are the words of wisdom and of right counsel which Sultan
Ishaq bequeathed to the Company of Yaristan. Would to God that all
the people of Iran had given a receptive ear to these words, as did
the Kurds and the Turks who found their spiritual home in Yaristan:
'If thou carest for thine own Faith thou wilt not abuse the Faith
of any other.'

The elders and seers of Yaristan have spoken of two Advents, in the <p319>
fullness of time. At first, they have predicted, Binyamin
(Benjamin) will step forth, to be followed by the greater Advent
of Havangar (Khavangar) or Khavandigar (the Lord). Shaykh Amir, who
lived some two centuries prior to the Advent of the Bab, specified
that Binyamin was to declare the nearness of the Coming of the

Siyyid Fardi, who also lived about two hundred years before the
days of the Bab, told his disciples, when his death was close at
hand, that a man named Taymur (Timur) would come out of the village
of Banyaran (which is in the district of Guran), in the guise of
Ayut-Hushyar. He will be, the Siyyid declared, the 'Herald of
Truth'. Indeed, during the reign of Muhammad Shah (1834-48), a
young man named Taymur, nearly twenty years old, came from that
village, love-intoxicated, and cried out: '0 Yaristan, I have
tidings for you; my Lord, the generous King is here. I am Taymur,
Taymur: Ayut-Hushyar, come to herald Mihdi of Shah Khavangar.'
Taymur had several thousands of the people of Yaristan gathered
round him. In <p320>
the early part of the reign of Nasiri'd-Din Shah, Taymur was
arrested and the Shi'ih divines condemned him to death.

Qushchi-'Ughli clearly prophesied the emergence of the company
which had attained salvation from the area of Khurasan, and indeed
that referred to the Babu'l-Bab (Mulla Husayn) and his companions,
who took the road to Mazindaran from Khurasan.

Taymur had, in a couplet in Kurdish, spoken of the eighteen (the
exact number of the Bab's Letters of the Living) who would stand
with their Commander. Lachin, another seer of Yaristan, clearly
named the city of Shiraz as the place where choice gifts of the
spirit would be offered.

Other seers of Yaristan, such as Naw-ruz, Karim and Rustam,
specified the years that Binyamin would have to fulfil his mission,
which tally with the number of years of the Ministry of the Bab;
and pointed to the martyrdom of the Bab and His disciple, Anis
(Mirza Muhammad-'Aliy-i-Zunuzi), at Tabriz. Still others foresaw
the upheaval of Zanjan and the exodus from Khurasan. All these
prophecies are in Kurdish verse. Then we have Murad, another Kurd
and a poet, who very clearly mentioned the attempt which would be
made on the life of the Shah, because he would be considered
responsible for the martyrdom of the Lord of the Age. That same
Murad left no doubt that Husayn, the Deliverer on Whose brow rests
the crown of divine sovereignty, would be put in chains during the
reign of Nasiri'd-Din Shah. And Lachin, already quoted, made the
Advent of Husayn, who is Shah Khavandigar, the point in time
marking the commencement of a trial of strength with the Qajars and
the rapid downfall of that clan. He also specified Damavand as the
area from which Shah Khavandigar would step into the arena of the
world. Lachin dwelt particularly on the cruelties and the misdeeds
of the Qajars and plainly declared that their iniquities would
cause lamentation, and that He Who rides the charger of Truth would
quit Iran.

Moreover, Shaykh Amir foretold the retirement of Baha'u'llah to

He went away to a place unknown to all. The King and the Lord of
Binyamin went away to a place, unknown to all. Men are looking for
Him in vain. The Lord is manifest in a human temple and people know

Then, Naw-ruz specified the mountain Valahu (the range of mountains
on which Sulaymaniyyih is situated) as the place where <p321>
Faith would be renewed. Haydar was the next seer to look into the
future and see the return of the King of Truth--Baha'u'llah--from
the mountain where He dwelt; and he commented on the bounties which
He would shower on the people. Astounding, also, is Il-Bagi's
wording of his prophecy: 'The Babis shall follow Baha.' And once
again Lachin foretold the doom of the Qajars: 'by the roar of men,
lion-hearted, and by the call of the dragon of the Lord, tremble
shall the very foundations of the Qajars.'

Shir Khan was another Kurdish seer who foretold in detail the
Advent of Baha'u'llah in Baghdad, the Declaration of His Cause in
springtime (the Ridvan period), the opposition of the divines, the
frustration of their designs, and Baha'u'llah's journey to
Istanbul. 'Baghdad and Istanbul we shall bring under our dominion'.
Rustam, already quoted, foretold a good deal more of those events
associated with the rise and the diffusion of the Faith of
Baha'u'llah: 'How wonderful is the horseman [the rider] who, with
sword drawn, shall conquer Najaf, Baghdad, Istanbul, Rum [Ottoman
domains], and Farang [Europe], and reach the shores of the Black
Sea.' 'The King of Truth is in Sham [Syria], and the Herald at

Khan Almas pointed to the Turkish Revolution (1908), the spread of
the Faith in the West, the degradation of Iran, the Ministry of
'Abdu'l-Baha, the establishment of the House of Justice.

Finally, to crown these breath-taking prophecies which are found
in the texts (mainly and chiefly Kurdish) of the people of
Yaristan, let us hear once again from Murad:

The King of Glory seated on the throne of sovereignty called the
peoples of the world to gather and dwell under the pavilion of
unity. Murad! to these He gave the tidings that 'We have revealed
all that was hidden'. The Lord of the World, the Master of all who
dwell therein, now established on the seat of Judgement. He shall
judge between nations, and give the people that which they deserve. <p322>
The Land of Ta

The Land of Ta--the area of Tihran, capital-city of Iran--was a
home of ancient splendour. And it had a tryst with destiny. Its
hour of incomparable honour, of crowning glory, of supernal bliss,
arrived on the 12th day of November 1817. For on that
never-to-be-forgotten day, Tihran witnessed within its compass the
birth of the Supreme Manifestation of God.

This chapter will tell the story of the environs of Tihran from
earliest times. Thus, in the Apocrypha--the Book of Judith:

Therefore [Nebuchadnezzar][1] was very angry with all this country,
and sware by his throne and kingdom, that he would surely be
avenged upon all those coasts of Cilicia, and Damascus, and Syria,
and that he would slay with the sword all the inhabitants of the
land of Moab, and the children of Ammon, and all Judea, and all
that were in Egypt, till ye come to the borders of the two seas.
[1. Reigned 605-662 BC.]

Then he marched in battle array with his power against king
Arphaxad in the seventeenth year, and he prevailed in his battle:
for he overthrew all the power of Arphaxad, and all his horsemen,
and all his chariots,

And became lord of his cities, and came unto Ecbatane, and took the
towers, and spoiled the streets thereof, and turned the beauty
thereof into shame. He took also Arphaxad in the mountains of Ragau
and smote him through with his darts, and destroyed him utterly
that day. (I:12-15)

Ragau mentioned in the Book of Judith is the celebrated city of Ray
(Rhages). The mountains of Ragau are the ranges in Shimran, the
area of a number of summer resorts at the foothills of Elburz
(Alburz), which today are for the most part joined together and
modern Tihran has reached up to them. One of these delectable spots
was Murgh-Mahallih, much loved by Baha'u'llah. In ancient times the
great city of Ray (or Rayy) was well to the south of the Shimran
ranges and the large village of Tihran. A few of the summer resorts
in the upper slopes of Elburz were (and still are) exceedingly
pleasant in the summer months, but isolated oftentimes in the heart
of the winter. <p323>
Avesta, the Zoroastrian scriptures, also contains reference to the
area of Ray. It is described as a sacred enclave. Overlooking old
Rhages (which, as we shall see, was totally destroyed centuries
ago) was the mountain known as Mt. Bibi Shahr-Banu. On it a shrine
has been erected, to which men are not admitted. Shahr-Banu, most
reliable historians agree, was a daughter of Yazdigird III, the
last of the Sasanian kings who went down before the sweeping tide
of Islam. Shahr-Banu was made a prisoner and taken to Medinah.
'Umar, the second caliph, gave her to Husayn, who inherited the
Imamate from his brother, Hasan, and fell a martyr on the bank of
the Euphrates. Legend has it that after the appalling slaughter of
the descendants of the Prophet on the plain of Karbila, Shahr-Banu,
to escape from the unholy hands of the minions of the Umayyad
usurpers, rode Duldul--the renowned horse of her illustrious
husband who was decapitated and trampled by the hooves of the
steeds of a merciless foe--and fled from the battlefield. The enemy
set out in pursuit. But Duldul sprouted wings and thus Shahr-Banu
made good her escape. That wonderful horse, it was believed by the
credulous, carried the <p324>
daughter of Yazdigird all the way to the distant Ray. There, it was
maintained, a cleft in the hillside opened to swallow her, after
which the gaping aperture was closed.

That is the legend which gained currency over the centuries. But
the truth is quite apart. Discarding the miraculous element, the
fact of the matter is that Shahr-Banu could not have been on the
bank of the Euphrates. She died, long before the terrible
destruction of the House of the Prophet, at the time she gave birth
to 'Ali, the fourth Imam, known as Zaynu'l-'Abidin (the Adornment
of the Devout). 'Ali, the Medial (Awsat), as he was also known, on
the day his glorious father quaffed the cup of martyrdom was a
sickly boy of uncertain health, fever-ridden, and pining on his
bed. Thus he remained the sole survivor of the holocaust, and the
mantle of Imamate came to rest on his shoulders. And because the
blood of the Sasanians ran in his veins, in the eyes of the
Persians, smarting under defeat, his spiritual heritage was greatly
enhanced. It was in Persia that many of his descendants found
refuge and support, escaping from the tyrannies of the caliphs of
Damascus and, later, of Baghdad.

On that mount of Bibi-Shahr-Banu, sanctified in Islamic times by
a legend, once stood a temple dedicated to Nahid:[1] Anahita. Hence
the reference in Avesta to the sacredness of the area of Ray, which
included then the village that has grown into a colossal
capital-city: Tihran--the birthplace of Baha'u'llah. Anahita was
one of the supreme 'Izids' of the Mazdean (Zoroastrian) Faith.
Greeks knew Anahita as Aphrodite and Romans as Venus Erucina. In
the area of Tihran and the mountainous region to the north of it,
which in early Islamic times came to be known as Qasran, the
worship of Anahita was widespread.
[1. Nahid, Zuhrah in Arabic, means Venus. The Arabic name denotes
the brilliance of this planet.]

It is asserted that Alexander the Great set out to destroy
Zoroastrianism in Iran. He demolished Mazdean temples and put their
priests to death. The inhabitants of Ray and its environs, being
strongly attached to their religion and even described as
fanatical, suffered heavily in the days of Alexander. Nizami of
Gandzha (now Kirovabad in Soviet Caucasia), one of the most
eloquent classical poets of Persia who flourished in the twelfth
century AD under the Saljuqs, graphically relates these
depredations of Alexander. Apparently his successors in Iran, the
Seleucids, followed the same <p325> <p326>
policy of repression in relation to the Mazdeans. Then a great
earthquake hit Ray and razed it to the ground. When Seleucus
Nicator came to rebuild that city of renown, he named it Europos.

The Seleucids had their day. On the whole, Iran flourished under
them, but soon the onrush of the Parthians, who were of Iranian
stock, swept them into limbo. The Parthian dynasty of the Arsacids
(Ashkaiyan in Persian), who now held sway, made the city of Ray
their spring capital. Under the Arsacids the area of Tihran came
to assume a central position. And the Mazdeans regained their
freedom of belief. The Arsacids, although destroying the semi-Greek
Seleucids, were themselves influenced by Hellenism. They did give
recognition to Ahuramazda of Zoroastrianism, but they also
propagated the worship of Mithra and Anahita. Even more, they
revered Zeus and Apollo of the Greeks. Later, Artemis also joined
their Parthenon. Arsacids, with their liberal beliefs, practised
complete religious toleration.

The Arsacids had, before long, to cope with the rising power of
Rome. In the year 53 BC, in the vicinity of Carrhea (Harran of
Islamic times) in Mesopotamia, they inflicted a crushing defeat on
the Roman legions. Crassus, the Roman general, was killed. There
and then the Roman expansion to the East came to a halt and ended.
Octavius (Augustus, the first emperor of Rome) was an officer in
the army of Crassus and was present at the battle of Carrhea.

It was during the reign of Augustus and the Arsacid Farhad V that
Jesus was born, in Bethlehem. The Jews were now enslaved, once
again, groaning under a foreign yoke. The glories of David and
Solomon had long become memories of a dead past. Now even the brave
deeds of Judas Maccabeus, who heroically defied Antiochus Epiphanes
(176-164 BC), were fast receding into a dim memory. And the yoke
of the Romans rested heavily on the children of Israel.

The Parthians, on the other hand, besides the tolerance which they
habitually practised, were exceedingly kind and helpful to the Jews
because they resented the Romans and their tyrannies. The Arsacid
kings even went to the length of actively supporting the Jews to
drive out Herod, who was a puppet of Rome, in the year 40 BC and
helped put Antigonus, the 'last representative'[1] of the
Maccabees, on the throne. For three years Antigonus held the Romans
at bay, and died bravely when the inevitable happened: Romans
triumphed and Herod was restored.
[1. The words quoted are from Magnus, Outlines of Jewish History,
p. 23. (Ed.)] <p327> <p328>
But now to go back to the story of Ray and Tihran: Ray, as we have
seen, was chosen by the Arsacid kings to be their spring resort,
and that city became known by their name, 'Arshak'

In the year AD 226, after a reign of nearly five centuries, the
Arsacids lost their throne to Ardashir,[1] who ruled in the
province of Fars. Ardashir was the grandson of Sasan, a priest of
a temple in the city of Istakhr, dedicated to Anahita. When
Ardashir overthrew the Parthians he claimed descent from the
Achaemenians, and set out to restore the Mazdean Faith to its
pristine purity. Now the religion of Zoroaster was beset with the
problem of Zervanism. The most authoritative work in English on
Zervanism is that of the late R. C. Zaehner (Spalding Professor of
Eastern Religions and Ethics in the University of Oxford). In his
introduction to that voluminous and exceedingly readable and
informative tome, Zurvan, A Zoroastrian Dilemma, Prof. Zaehner
[1. Ardashir (or Ardishir) is the same as Artaxerxes in Greek. In
his day his name had this form in Middle Persian: Artakhishatr. In
the Achaemenian times it was pronounced thus: Artakhishatra.]

Both the Zoroastrians in Sassanian times and the Shi'ah Muslims in
the Safavi period proved to be exceptionally intolerant of other
religions--largely, one suspects, to emphasize their difference
from the neighbouring states. (Prof. R. C. Zaeher in his
Introduction to Zurvan, A Zoroastrian Dilemma, p. 3)

He goes on to say:

...Zoroastrianism was uncompromisingly dualist. Nor was its dualism
the classic dualism between spirit and matter which would have
provided a common meeting-ground with the Indian Jains ..., with
the Gnostics to the West, and with the Manichaeans in Iran itself.
It was a dualism of spirit, postulating two principles at the
origin of the Universe--the Spirit of Good or Ohrmazd, and the
Spirit of Evil or Ahriman. This extremely original idea dates back
to Zoroaster himself, and it is his basic contribution to the
philosophy of religion...

Though it was no doubt Zoroaster himself who sowed the seed of
spiritual dualism, it was left to his epigones in later times to
systematize it...

It can be readily understood that so fundamental a dualism might
well produce a reaction, since the history of religion proves that
the nature of man seems to demand a unified godhead. This reaction
duly appeared: it is what we call Zervanism. As might be expected
in a heterodox sect, in Zervanism we do appear to find traces of
alien ideas which were so rigorously excluded from the Zoroastrian

...The Zervanites tried to re-establish the unity of the godhead
by positing a principle prior and superior to Ohrmazd and Ahriman,
thereby doing away <p329>
with that essential dualism which is the hub of the Zoroastrian
position... (Prof. R. C. Zaeher in his Introduction to Zurvan, A
Zoroastrian Dilemma, pp. 3-5)

Here is not the place to counter the belief that the Faith of
Zoroaster was not essentially monotheist, although duality is
apparent in its own guise. This is not the place either to present
a detailed account of Zervanism, its arguments, its duels with the
revived Mazdeanism under the Sasanians. But before leaving the
subject it ought to be said that Zervanism, despite suppression,
endured throughout the Sasanian period, sometimes even in the

In the days of the Sasanians, the governance of Ray resided with
the family of Mihran. This powerful family took its name from a
village of that name and had arisen to prominence in the whole area
of Tihran. In the present-day Tihran there is a large garden called
Mihran, situated in the road until recently known as Avenue
Kurush-i-Kabir (Cyrus the Great). That is the site of the old
village. Bahram-i-Chubin, who rebelled against Chosroes II--Khusraw
Parviz--and even occupied the throne for a while at Ctesiphon, was
an outstanding member of the family of Mihran. At the end Chosroes
defeated him and Bahrim fled to Turkistan. His grandson,
Siyavakhsh, was the Governor of Ray and the area of Tihran when the
armies of Islam invaded Iran.

Throughout the reign of the Sasanians, the area of Tihran
maintained its supremacy in the domain of religion. Two great
fire-temples sprang up: one to the north of Tihran, within the
environ of Qasran on the heights of Mt. Tuchal; the other, to the
south, in the vicinity of the present-day Shrine of Shah
'Abdu'l-'Azim. The worship of Nahid (Anahita) also held its ground
firmly right to the end.

Iran and Byzantium ruined themselves with their constant warfare.
Chosroes II, at first scoring victory after victory over the
Byzantines, even overrunning Jerusalem and carrying away what was
believed to be the true cross, wilted under brilliant and desperate
counter-attacks by Heraclius. He, who had defied the summons of the
Arabian Prophet, fled miserably from the battlefield, Byzantine
armies penetrated deep into Persian territory, and the disgraced
and crestfallen Chosroes was deposed by his son, Shiruyih, and
murdered in his prison-cell. How awesome sound those prophetic
verses of the Qur'an which foreshadowed the victory of the
Byzantines and the abasement of the overbearing Parviz: <p330>
Rum [the Byzantines] were defeated in the near land. They, after
their defeat, shall be victorious, in a few years. Command belongs
to God, before and after; and on that day the believers shall
rejoice in God's aid. God will aid whomsoever He willeth. And He
is the All-Mighty, the Merciful. The promise of God: God faileth
not to fulfil His promise, but most men do not know it. (Qur'an

Very soon after the debacle of Chosroes II, the triumphant armies
of Islam poured into Iran and Yazdigird III, the last of the
Sasanians, suffered the same fate as Darius III, Codomanus, the
last of the Achaemenians. He was treacherously murdered.

Writing of the ancestors of Baha'u'llah, the Guardian of the Baha'i
Faith states:

He derived His descent, on the one hand, from Abraham (the Father
of the Faithful) through his wife Katurah, and on the other from
Zoroaster, as well as from Yazdigird, the last king of the
Sasaniyan dynasty. He was moreover a descendant of Jesse, and
belonged, through His father, Mirza 'Abbas, better known as Mirza
Buzurg--a nobleman closely associated with the ministerial circles
of the Court of Fath-'Ali Shah--to one of the most ancient and
renowned families of Mazindaran (Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p.

The extinction of the Sasanian dynasty occurred in the year AD 641,
at the Battle of Nihavand. After that battle, which the Arab
historians came to call Fath-al-Futuh--Victory of
Victories--Yazdigird was a fugitive, and was murdered ten years
later, in the vicinity of Marv in Khurasan.

The coming of Islam made no appreciable difference to the way of
life in the area of Ray and Tihran. According to the great
historian at-Tabari (whose name indicates that he was a man of
Tabaristan), in the year AH 22 (AD 644) Zinabi,[1] a general in the
service of Siyavakhsh, the hereditary governor of Ray, betrayed his
master because of a grudge against him, and opened the gates of the
city to the Arab commander. Later he strove hard to make peace
between the conquerors and the people of Ray. The Mazdeans agreed
to pay jizyah (poll-tax), like other dhimmis (people of the Book).
However, they proved insubordinate and turbulent. With the passage
of time, the number of the Mazdeans decreased; but bending knees
to the caliphs of Damascus and later of Baghdad was abhorrent even
to the newly converted. And before long Shi'ism spread throughout
the area. A number of the prominent disciples of the fifth and the
sixth <p331>
Imams--Muhammad al-Baqir and Ja'far as-Sadiq--were men of Ray, such
as Yahya Ibn Abi'l-'Ala, 'Atiyyah Ibn Najih Abu-Mutahhar,
'Abdu'r-Rahim Ibn Sulayman, and 'Isa Ibn Mahan.
[1. Originally Zinbudi: the head of the armoury.]

Shah 'Abdu'l-'Azim, whose shrine in the area of Ray has for
centuries been a place of pilgrimage, died there in the year AH
250. He led a secluded life while residing in Ray, and used to
visit from time to time a grave in the neighbourhood, claiming that
Hamzih, a son of Imam Muss al-Kazim, the seventh Imam, was buried
there. The Shrine of Imam-Zadih Hamzih, himself a scion of the
House of Muhammad, now stands, in its magnificence, next to that
of Shah 'Abdu'l-'Azim.

Next, we hear that several villages in the area of Ray and Tihran,
such as Vanak, had rallied to the Zaydi sect. This development was
due to the fact that on the other side of the Elburz range, in the
Caspian province of Tabaristan, descendants of 'Ali Ibn Abi-Talib,
following the Zaydi rite, had come to power. Zayd was a son of the
fourth Imam--'Ali, known as Zaynu'l-'Abidin, whom the tyrannies of
the Umayyads drove into open revolt; despite the advice of his
nephew, Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq, he gathered a force to wage war on
the caliph at Damascus. The result was a foregone conclusion. Zayd
suffered defeat and martyrdom. Eventually a sect grew up bearing
his name, although he himself had never made a particular claim to
a position of spiritual authority.

In the days when the 'Abbasids--the scions of 'Abbas, the uncle of
the Prophet--rose up in the name of the House of Muhammad to
overthrow the Umayyads, Abu-Muslim of Khurasan became the engineer
of their victory over the ungodly, as they said. But very soon the
'Abbasids went the way of the Umayyads, and Abu-Ja'far al-Mansur
treacherously put Abd-Muslim to death in 755. Before long a sect
sprang up claiming that Abu-Muslim was not dead, but lived in
hiding in the mountains of Ray. These are the mountains which rise
up from the plain of Tihran and overlook it; they afforded in those
early centuries many places of refuge. As time went on these
Muslimiyyahs (so they were called) changed their tune. Abu-Muslim,
they asserted, would emerge in the fullness of time to vanquish the
ingrates and the unfaithful. But it was still in the caves of
Elburz where they located their hero, who had chosen to withdraw
for the time being from the world. 'Withdrawal and Return' was fast
becoming the pattern of dissident beliefs. <p332>
The Khurram-Dinan (or Khurramiyyah) were another group of
innovators and recalcitrants, both strong and troublesome, in the
area of Ray and Tihran. They were the ones who cherished the memory
of Mazdak, the heresiarch who was put to death, with a large number
of his followers, by Chosroes I in 528.

As centuries rolled on, Ray became the most populous city of Asia,
and the Tihran area flourished accordingly. An amazing development
was the congregation of the descendants of 'Ali, the first Imam,
in these environs. The large number of shrines harbouring the
remains of the sons and grandsons of the Imam that one encounters
in the plain and running up to the heights of the Elburz range and
even beyond onto those heights themselves, are evidences of that
remarkable turn of events in the first centuries of the Muslim Era.
A modern writer of Iran, Dr Husayn Kariman, divides the descendants
of 'Ali, who made their way to the northern limits of that land,
into four categories. First, there were those who suffered by the
tyrannies of the Umayyads, and particularly by the enormities of
their despicable agent, Hajjaj Ibn Yusuf. Next came the group who
had been heartened by the fact that 'Abdu'llah al-Ma'mun had named,
in the year 815, the eighth Imam, 'Ali Ibn Musa'r-Rida, as his
successor. But before long, under pressure from the dispossessed
'Abbasids, Ma'mun changed his mind and secretly, it is claimed,
encompassed the death of Imam Rida by poisoning. The 'Alawiyyin,
noting the treachery, had hastily to seek places of refuge. The
third category consisted of those descendants of 'Ali who had
rallied to the support of their kinsmen, in rebellion against the
caliphs. Once their leaders were destroyed they had to find routes
of escape. The fourth group were those 'Alawiyyin who flocked to
Mazindaran (Tabaristan) when their relatives found power and
authority in that region. And it must be said at once that the
dwellers of both sides of the Elburz range, discontented as they
were with the caliphs, received the descendants of 'Ali with joy.

We have already described how Hasan Ibn Zayd, then living in Ray,
accepted the rulership of Tabaristan (see pp. 30I-2), where he
established the Shi'ih doctrine throughout his domain. Within a few
years he was master not only of Tabaristan, but of the whole area
of Damavand and Ray and Tihran as well, where he was firmly
established by the year 867. Hasan was succeeded by his brother
Muhammad, who, although unable to retain Ray, did succeed in
building shrines over the graves of the descendants of 'Ali in
those <p333>
northern regions. Centuries later some of them, such as the shrines
of Imam-Zadih Hasan, Imam-Zadih Ma'surn and Imam-Zadih Zayd, were
to harbour for a while the remains of the Bab--the Qa'im of the
House of Muhammad.

The Samanids, who came to power in Transoxania and Khurasan and
ruled from Bukhara (819-1000), had their origins in the Mihran
family of the area of Tihran. (See p. 329.) When Amir Isma'il was
presented with the domain of Ray, he declined to annex it to his
kingdom. 'This is a city of ill omen,' he declared. In contrast,
for the sake of obtaining the governorship of Ray, 'Umar Ibn Sa'd
and Shimr had consented to take up arms against the grandson of the
Prophet and encompass his martyrdom on the banks of the Euphrates.

The coming of the Buwayhids (932-1062) out of the Daylam country
on the shores of the Caspian, and their establishment particularly
in Ray where Hasan (entitled Ruknu'd-Dawlih) ruled,[1] made Shi'ism
of Ithna-'Ashariyyah (Twelvers) the dominant force in the whole
area of Ray and Tihran. Sultan Mahmud (998-1000), the Ghaznavid
centred on the land that is now Afghanistan, followed the Buwayhids
to power. He was fanatically and intolerantly Sunni in his
religious profession, took Islam with the sword to India, and
inflicted great hardships on the Shi'ih population of the area of
Tihran. His actions were indeed shameful, particularly so as they
came in the wake of the benevolent rule of the Buwayhids. He set
up two hundred gallows and hanged as many prominent and outstanding
Shi'ites as he could catch in his net. He accused them of being
Qirmati (Carmathian). Not only the Shi'ihs, but the Mu'tazilites
as well suffered at the hands of Mahmud. The great library of
Sahib--the wise and learned vizier of the Buwayhids--was raided and
despoiled. Ibn Athir, the celebrated Arab historian, amply
testifies to the depredations of the agent of Sultan Mahmud in that
well-stocked library. But once he was in his grave and the
Ghaznavid domination had ended, the Shi'ite supremacy was restored
in that area.
[1. He was one of the three brothers who were the builders of
Buwayhid power. (Ed.)]

Then came the Saljuqids (1038-1194). They too were Sunni, but like
the Shi'ite Buwayhids they lorded it over the 'Abbasid caliphs, who
were reduced to impotence. Indeed, gone were the might and
dominance of Harun and Ma'mun. The 'Abbasids had become puppets in
the hands of both Shi'ihs and Sunnis.

The changes that took place in the fortunes of the Shi'ihs of Ray
and <p334>
Tihran, under the Saljuqid kings, were truly spectacular. Learning,
in whatever quarter it was found, was greatly respected. And Tihran
came to be noticed more and more. In the Fars-Namih of Ibn Balkhi,
dedicated to Sultan Muhammad--the Saljuqid monarch (1105-18), son
of the well-famed Malik-Shah (1072-92)--particular mention is made
of the pomegranates of Tihran, whose excellence is compared to the
goodness of the pomegranates of the district of Kavar in Fars.

In the days of Nizamu'l-Mulk--the celebrated vizier of the
Saljuqids Alp-Arslan and his son Malik-Shah--who was a staunch
Sunni of the Shafi'ite school, the village of Tarasht in the area
of Tihran had become a Shi'ih stronghold where regular conferences
and seminars were held to discuss matters of text and tradition.
The learned man who directed these circles was a well-known Shi'ih
theologian: Khajih Ja'far Ibn Muhammad, author of several books.
The Saljuqid vizier, as already stated, was a Sunni of very decided
views; moreover, he was not altogether well-intentioned towards
those who believed in the Imamate. But he made it a point to go
from Ray, every week, to that Shi'ih village, and sit at the feet
of the Shi'ih theologian.

The Saljuqids were succeeded by the Kharazmshahis who were also
Sunnis and exerted pressure on the Shi'ihs of the area of Ray and
Tihran. But it was of no avail and Shi'ism became deeply rooted.

We come now to the catastrophe of the Mongol invasion which shook
the whole Realm of Islam to its foundations and left the great city
of Ray for ever desolate. It happened in the reign of 'Ala'u'd-Din
Muhammad-i-Kharazmshah (1200-20). Sultan Muhammad was a foolish
king. His overbearing haughtiness, the veniality and greed of his
chief frontiersman, the senseless execution of the emissaries of
the Mongol overlord (who, incidentally, were Muslims) directed the
wrath and the fury of Chingiz Khan (whose intentions, at the very
beginning, were thoroughly peaceful and neighbourly) to the vast
Empire of the Kharazmshah. Even worse, 'Ala'u'd-Din Muhammad proved
a bad planner, a bad general and a cringing coward. While scores
of flourishing districts and cities, homes of culture and beauty,
were burned and devastated, while thousands perished and thousands
more took to the wilderness, the hapless 'Ala'u'd-Din Muhammad
died, an abandoned fugitive, in the forlorn island of Abaskun off
the coast of Tabaristan. His very brave son,
Jalalu'd-Din-i-Mankubarni, <p335>
faced the Mongol hordes with the utmost courage, but the enemy was
far too strong. Furthermore, fellow-Muslims betrayed him and he was
murdered by a demented Kurd on a lone hilltop.

Now that Ray was in ruins, and was never to rise again, the area
of Tihran became of prime importance. Its people, as we have seen,
had been staunch Shi'ihs for a long time. They were regarded
jealously by their Sunni neighbours who began concocting fables
about them, and some of these fables are strangely reflected in
such authoritative works as Mu'jama'l-Buldan of Yaqut al-Hamavi.

In the succeeding centuries which saw the rise and the downfall of
the descendants of Chingiz, the appearance of many petty kingdoms,
the scourge of Amir Timur (Tamerlane), the civilizing influence of
his progeny (which stood in amazing contrast to Timur's own
destructiveness), the ruined Ray and the flourishing Tihran were
crossed and re-crossed, visited and re-visited by many a magnate.
The Al-i-Baduspan of Ruyan in the western part of Tabaristan,
towards the middle of the fourteenth century captured the whole
area of Tihran and Ray. These Ispahbuds also had Nur and Kujur
within their domains. They are known as Rustamdariyans as well,
because they were centred in Rustamdar. Their rule endured in that
area of Tabaristan well into the reign of Shah 'Abbas the Great,
the Safavi ruler.

Ruy Gonzalez de Clavijo, who led an embassy from the court of Henry
III, King of Castile, to the court of Tamerlane, gives a good
account of Tihran, where he stayed for a couple of days in the best
house of the town; Tamerlane himself had lodged there.

In our narrative we have now reached the days of the Safavids. With
them Iran is made new. Isma'il, a scion of Shaykh Safiyyi'd-Din of
Ardibil, at the age of thirteen came out of the forests of Gilan
by the Caspian Sea to avenge the death of his father and his
grandfather. He claimed that he was a descendant of Imam Muss
al-Kazim, the seventh Imam. It is now proved, beyond any measure
of doubt, that he was not a siyyid. Of a certainty he was of
Kurdish origin, and had Turkish blood as well as Greek. Despina,
a daughter of Kalo Ioannes, the last Greek emperor of Trebizond,
was the mother of his mother. Habitually he spoke and wrote in
Turkish, and composed poems in Turkish. He dragged an Iran mostly
Sunni into the Twelver Shi'ih fold. Iran lacked enough Shi'ih
divines. He brought those whom he needed from Jabal 'Amil in Syria.
And there is no question that Shaykh Safiyyi'd-Din, whose name was
given to the <p336>
dynasty which Isma'il founded, was a Kurd, a Sunni and the head of
a Sufi fraternity.

It is with the advent of Shah Tahmasb I, son of the founder of the
dynasty and its second monarch, that Tihran rises to eminence. In
the first place Tahmasb had his capital in Qazvin, which is within
a short distance from Tihran. Secondly, Tahmasb was a pious man,
narrow-minded even with his piety, as evidenced by his treatment
of Anthony Jenkinson, a traveller from England in search of trade.
He spent time and money liberally to restore and beautify the
Shrine of Shah 'Abdu'l-'Azim. Visiting that shrine, Shah Tahmasb
had to pass through Tihran. The trees and verdure, and the
plenteousness of water there, pleased him, and he decided to have
it surrounded by a moat and give it battlements and four gates.
Towers to the number of the surihs of the Qur'an--one hundred and
fourteen--were placed in the battlements, and within each tower one
of the surihs was entombed.

Pietro della Valle, the 'Roman patrician' who sojourned for seven
years in Persia during the reign of Shah 'Abbas the Great, became
well acquainted with 'Abbas. During one of his peregrinations,
waiting on the Shah, he visited Tihran with his Nestorian Christian
wife, Ma'ani, whom he had married in Baghdad. Pietro liked Tihran
and was enchanted by the stately plane trees which he found
adorning its thoroughfares. Apparently, unlike his grandfather,
'Abbas was not fond of Tihran. He had no palace of his own within
the city, and was forced to live in tents outside. Moreover, on one
occasion the people of Tihran had insulted him by seeming

During the Afghan invasion, which resulted in the virtual
extinction of Safavid rule, Tihran, for long a stronghold of
Shi'ism, suffered greatly at the invaders' hands. For a while, they
took a defensive position in Tihran and added to its
fortifications. Nothing of importance happened in Tihran or to
Tihran in the succeeding decades. Occasionally, Nadir Shah, the
Afsharid, passed through it; and once he encamped there for a
fairly long time.

In the wake of the assassination of Nadir Shah in the year 1747,
a period of total anarchy ensued. There were three chief contenders
for power: an Afghan named Azad Khan; Muhammad-Hasan Khan, the
chieftain of the Qajars (who occupied a good part of the area that
was Tabaristan); and Karim Khan-i-Zand, a Lur and in no way
Turkish. <p337>
Karim Khan was in Tihran when his stubborn rival, the Qajar chief,
was treacherously murdered and decapitated in his haunts by the
Caspian Sea. The murderer carried the trophy triumphantly to
Tihran, hoping for high reward. But the wretch had thoroughly
misjudged the Zand Khan. As soon as Karim set eyes on the head of
his rival, sorrow seized his heart and his tears flowed. He ordered
the execution of the murderer, and the head of Muhammad-Hasan Khan
was respectfully interred in the precincts of the Shrine of Shah
'Abdu'l-'Azim. Such a man was Karim Khan-i-Zand.

Karim Khan ascended the throne in Tihran, but refused to assume the
designation of 'Shah'. He was only Vakilu'r-Ru'aya, he said, 'the
Deputy of the People'. Then he had a fresh moat dug round Tihran,
added to its fortifications and battlements and ordered the
construction of a number of mansions and government buildings. He
intended to make Tihran his capital-city. But soon he changed his
mind and went to Shiraz--the immortal Shiraz of the glorious Bab,
as it would become--and established his capital there.

We have now almost reached the end of our story of Tihran, which
the Qajars made their capital-city. And Tihran in the nineteenth
century witnessed many infamies, great and small, the handiwork of
the Qajar usurpers. Aqa Muhammad Khan, the eunuch-king and first
of the Qajars, who inaugurated a dynasty which ruled from 1779 to
1925, began his blood-stained reign in the foothills of the Elburz
range by ordering an odious deed--foul to commit and foul to
relate--the dastardly treatment meted to the last of the Zands: the
brave, the generous, and immensurably high-minded Lutf-'Ali Khan.

And what then of the Land of Ta? At a time when the New Age was
foreshadowed by Shaykh Ahmad and Siyyid Kazim; when its Herald
Prophet the Bab was preparing the way for 'Him Whom God shall make
manifest', and was martyred; when that glorious, expected One,
Baha'u'llah, the 'Lord of Hosts' and the 'Master of the Day of
Judgement', received in a dungeon in Tihran an intimation of His
Mission and was exiled to live and die in Ottoman domains--the Land
of Ta was the scene of much tyranny and degradation, and its
suffering and eclipse are still evident. Yet its true station,
destined to be <p338>
perceived and understood by all mankind, was promised and extolled
by Baha'u'llah in these glowing words:

Let nothing grieve thee, O Land of Ta, for God hath chosen thee to
be the source of joy to all mankind... Rejoice with great joy, for
God hath made thee 'the Day Spring of His light' inasmuch as within
thee was born the Manifestation of His Glory. <p339>

The Village of Quch-Hisar

Quch-Hisar is one of the several villages of the rural district of
Ghar, in the vicinity of Tihran. Ghar forms part of the larger
district of Ray which includes the precincts of the Shrine of
Shah-Zadih 'Abdu'l-'Azim. Quch-Hisar belonged to Baha'u'llah, and
Haji Mirza Aqasi, the wily Sadr-i-A'zam of Muhammad Shah and the
Antichrist of the Babi Revelation, had had his covetous eyes on
this excellent property.

We know there were strong ties of friendship between Mirza Buzurg,
the Vazir-i-Nuri, father of Baha'u'llah, and Mirza Abu'l-Qasim,
Qa'im-Maqam the Second, the high-minded vazir of Muhammad Shah. We
also know that it was the statesmanship, the effort and endeavour
of this Qa'im-Maqam that secured the throne for Muhammad Shah. He
had pledged his word to the late Nayibu's-Saltanih, stood by his
word, and, in the teeth of strong opposition by a number of royal
pretenders, brought the son of his late master from far-off Tabriz
and had him crowned. Qa'im-Maqam had been faithful, but not so the
ingrate who now occupied the imperial seat. Muhammad Shah listened
to the promptings of the Antichrist, and destroyed his benefactor.

One of the first acts of Qa'im-Maqam, on gaining Tihran, was to
appoint Mirza Buzurg, the Vazir-i-Nuri to a post in Luristan. He
was given the administration of Burujird and a considerable area
of the Bakhiyari country which had suffered from unrest. A royal
rescript issued by Muhammad-Shah is extant, dated August 1835, in
appreciation of the services rendered by Mirza Buzurg in Burujird
and its environs.

But very soon, too soon, those halcyon days came to an end. Haji
Mirza Aqasi triumphed, Qa'im-Maqam was treacherously <p340>
murdered,[1] and the friends of Qa'im-Maqam found themselves in
dire straits. Mirza Buzurg was recalled from Burujird, deprived of
all posts and positions, even of his stipend, and forced into the
seclusion of his home. He had a large family to support, and before
long he ran into financial difficulties. From then to the end of
his days, life was a continuous struggle against impoverishment.
And Quch-Hisar was a property mortgaged time and again.

At the time of his affluence, Mirza Buzurg had gradually bought
two-thirds of the village of Quch-Hisar. The rest he held on lease
and was successfully farming the whole of the property. And at the
time of adversity, Quch-Hisar proved invaluable as a security to
borrow money for day-to-day expenses. That inevitable oft-repeated
borrowing by Mirza Buzurg began in Dhu'l-Hijjah, the closing month
of the year AH 1251 (April 1836). Haji Mulla 'Abbas-'Aliy-i-Nuri,
a trusted confidant of Mirza Buzurg, mortgaged a third of
Quch-Hisar on his behalf. Aqa Bahram, a well-known eunuch of the
royal household, provided the money. It was a short-term
arrangement, and on the last day of Muharram, the first month of
1252, Mirza Buzurg raised money from some other source and redeemed
this debt. Immediately, on the following day (the 1st day of
Safar), the same Haji Mulla 'Abbas-'Aliy-i-Nuri mortgaged the same
section of the property on behalf of the Vazir, and borrowed 700
tumans for him from Mirza Muhammad-Taqiy-i-Ashtiyani. When six
months had expired and Mirza Buzurg had been unable to settle the
debt, the Ashtiyani lender almost foreclosed the mortgage. However,
the Vazir negotiated a fresh agreement with that creditor to last
for another six months. Apart from the property at Quch-Hisar,
Mirza Buzurg was, perforce, using the houses in which he and his
large family lived in Tihran as securities to raise further loans.
That was the state to which the malevolence of Haji Mirza Aqasi had
reduced him.
[1. He was strangled because Muhammad Shah had pledged his word to
his father never to be privy to the spilling of the blood of that
good man and accomplished vazir. See index references to
Qa'im-Maqam in Baha'u'llah, The King of Glory, The Bab and
'Abdu'l-Baha for further information on him.]
In April 1837, Mirza Buzurg paid his debt to that Ashtiyani in
full. Next, in June 1838, one-sixth of Quch-Hisar was mortgaged to
Karbila'i Muhammad-Hadi Astarabadi for one year for the sum of 670
tumans. The condition was that if the sum was not repaid within the
set time together with an additional 74 tumans, the property would
revert to Karbila'i Muhammad-Hadi. Fortunately, within forty days, <p341>
Mirza Buzurg was able to borrow 251 tuimans and this together with
a silk robe was sufficient to repay the mortgage. But so difficult
was Mirza Buzurg's position that in July 1838 we find him
mortgaging the property again, this time to the daughter of the
deceased Haji Muhsin for the sum of 375 tumans. This debt must also
have been paid off after a short while although no documentary
evidence exists as to when and how.

The strain of his financial predicament took its toll on Mirza
Buzurg and in the middle of 1839(the beginning of AH 1255), he
passed away.

Mirza Buzurg had named Shaykh Muhammad-Taqi of Nur as his trustee
and his own brother, Mulla (or Shaykh) 'Azizu'llah, the supervisor
for the disposition of his inheritance. This arrangement, however,
had been entirely verbal and there was no written document to
support it. Therefore Baha'u'llah drew up such a document, and
asked the people who knew of His father's wishes to affix their
seals and signatures to it. Haji Mulla 'Abbas-'Aliy-i-Nuri, Mulla
Mirza Baba, Mulla Qasim and Mirza 'Ali-Riday-i-Sunji witnessed this
document. Mirza Buzurg had also stated that whatever of his
property he had distributed amongst his offspring in his own
lifetime was entirely their concern and no longer his, and that
which was his own to leave behind comprised the sheep in Takur and
the village of Quch-Hisar. He had specified, as well, that his
debts amounted to 1,200 tumans. He had charged his trustee to clear
his debts, divide two-thirds of whatever was left amongst his
inheritors, in accordance with the law of the Qur'an, and use the
remaining third in any way the trustee himself deemed advisable.

Once these preliminaries were completed and implemented, Mulla
'Azizu'llah, on behalf of Shaykh Muhammad-Taqi of Nur and the
minors amongst the children of Mirza Buzurg (Mirza Yahya, Mirza
Muhammad-Quli, Fatimih-Sultan Khanum, Nisa' Khanum and others),
acting together with Mirza Mihdi (a full older brother of
Baha'u'llah)[1] and Mirza Muhammad-Hasan (His half-brother),
mortgaged one-sixth of Quch-Hisar and borrowed 200 tumans from
Mirza Ahmad, Mustawfiy-i-Nuri. It was a short-term loan for two
months only. It is strange that this debt was not paid in time and
Mirza Ahmad-i-Mustawfi foreclosed the mortgage and took the land
into his own possession. Mirza 'Ali-Riday-i-Sunji then bought it
from Mirza Ahmad. It is interesting to note that one of the
witnesses of that <p342>
mortgage which resulted in the loss of one-sixth of Quch-Hisar was
Mulla 'Abdu'l-Fattah, one of the victims of the holocaust of 1852.
Another witness was Haji Mulla 'Abbas-'Ali, the confidant of Mirza
Buzurg, who had acted in previous years on his behalf. A third
witness was Mulla Mirza Baba, another martyr of future years.
[1. Mirza Mihdi was already dead, but this refers, presumably, to
his estate. (Ed.)]

A letter, written by Shaykh Muhammad-Taqiy-i-Nuri to Haji Mulla
'Abbas-'Ali is extant, in which he states that in order to clear
Mirza Buzurg's debts, he himself gave half of the village of
Quch-Hisar to Mirza Husayn-'Ali (Baha'u'llah), took from Him 80
tumans in cash, and passed on to Him 700 tumans of His father's
debts. He also questions the validity of Mirza 'Ali-Rida's
transaction. The same mujtahid of Nur wrote to Mirza 'Ali-Rida,
directing him to cancel the sale and take back his money, which he
apparently did. Shaykh Muhammad-Taqi claimed that as Mirza Buzurg's
trustee, he should have been consulted, and his consent obtained.
Thus with the help of the mujtahid of Nur, that one-sixth of the
property also passed into the possession of Baha'u'llah. And since
He was the holder of two-thirds of Quch-Hisar, the whole estate was
placed under His management, and other owners whose holdings were
small received their annual dues from Him.

In the year 1844 some officials, casting their eyes on this
prosperous and profitable property, laid an unjust claim to it,
stating that Quch-Hisar had, in reality, been part of Crown lands.
Baha'u'llah took the case to Muhammad-Shah. Now the chief witness
was Mustawfiyu'l-Mamalik, and he testified most definitely that the
village of Quch-Hisar had never been part of Crown lands in the
rural district of Ghar and Fashafuyih. The royal rescript,
accordingly, directed the highhanded officials to cease interfering
in the affairs of that village. It seems that Haji Mirza Aqasi had
penned the royal edict, which was issued in June 1844. This peril
over, the next centred in the very person of Haji Mirza Aqasi, and
made itself felt within three years.

Let the inimitable pen of Nabil-i-'A'zam relate the rest of the
story of Quch-Hisar:

Haji Mirza Aqasi, the Grand Vazir of Muhammad Shah, though
completely alienated from Baha'u'llah's father, showed his Son
every mark of consideration and favour. So great was the esteem
which the Haji professed for Him, that Mirza Aqa Khan-i-Nuri, the
I'timadu'd-Dawlih, who afterwards succeeded Haji Mirza Aqasi,[1]
felt envious. He resented the superiority <p343>
which Baha'u'llah, as a mere youth, was accorded over him. The
seeds of jealousy were, from that time, implanted in his breast.
Though still a youth, and while His father is yet alive, he
thought, He is given precedence in the presence of the Grand Vazir.
What will happen to me, I wonder, when this young man shall have
succeeded His father?
[1. Not immediately; in between them came Mirza Taqi Khan, the
Amir-Nizam and Amir Kabir, who was responsible for ordering the
execution of the Bab.]

After the death of the Vazir [Mirza Buzurg], Haji Mirza Aqasi
continued to show the utmost consideration to Baha'u'llah. He would
visit Him in His home, and would address Him as though He were his
own son. The sincerity of his devotion, however, was very soon put
to the test. One day, as he was passing through the village of
Quch-Hisar, which belonged to Baha'u'llah, he was so impressed by
the charm and beauty of that place and the abundance of its water
that he conceived the idea of becoming its owner. Baha'u'llah, Whom
he had summoned to effect the immediate purchase of that village,
observed: 'Had this property been exclusively my own, I would
willingly have complied with your desire. This transitory life,
with all its sordid possessions, is worthy of no attachment in my
eyes, how much less this small and insignificant estate. As a
number of other people, both rich and poor, some of full age and
some still minors, share with me the ownership of this property,
I would request you to refer this matter to them, and to seek their <p344>
consent.' Unsatisfied with this reply, Haji Mirza Aqasi sought to
achieve his ends through fraudulent means. As soon as Baha'u'llah
was informed of his evil designs, He, with the consent of all
concerned, immediately transferred the title of the property to the
name of the sister of Muhammad Shah, who had repeatedly expressed
the desire to become its owner. The Haji, furious at this
transaction, ordered that the estate should be forcibly seized,
claiming that he already had purchased it from its original
possessor. The representatives of Haji Mirza Aqasi were severely
rebuked by the agents of the sister of the Shah, and were requested
to inform their master of the determination of that lady to assert
her rights. The Haji referred the case to Muhammad Shah, and
complained of the unjust treatment to which he had been subjected.
That very night, the Shah's sister had acquainted him with the
nature of the transaction. 'Many a time', she said to her brother,
'Your Imperial Majesty has graciously signified your desire that
I should dispose of the jewels with which I am wont to adorn myself
in your presence, and with the proceeds purchase some property. I
have at last succeeded in fulfilling your desire. Haji Mirza Aqasi,
however, is now fully determined to seize it forcibly from me.' The
Shah reassured his sister, and commanded the Haji to forgo his
claim. The latter, in his despair, summoned Baha'u'llah to his
presence and, by every artifice, strove to discredit His name. To
the charges he brought against Him, Baha'u'llah vigorously replied,
and succeeded in establishing His innocence. In his impotent rage,
the Grand Vazir exclaimed: 'What is the purpose of all this
feasting and banqueting in which you seem to delight? I, who am the
Prime Minister of the Shahanshah of Persia, never receive the
number and variety of guests that crowd around your table every
night. Why all this extravagance and vanity? You surely must be
meditating a plot against me.' 'Gracious God!' Baha'u'llah replied.
'Is the man who, out of the abundance of his heart, shares his
bread with his fellow-men, to be accused of harbouring criminal
intentions?' Haji Mirza Aqasi was utterly confounded. He dared not
reply. Though supported by the combined ecclesiastical and civil
powers of Persia, he eventually found himself, in every contest he
ventured against Baha'u'llah, completely defeated. (Unpublished)

Needless to say, prior to the sale of Quch-Hisar to the sister of
Muhammad Shah, Haji Mirza Aqasi had used every means, fair and
foul, to prevent it. He had incited a number of the heirs of Mirza
Buzurg to appeal to Siyyid Abu'l-Qasim, the Imam-Jum'ih of Tihran,
with the plea that Baha'u'llah had deprived them of their
patrimony. The Imam-Jum'ih, being a just man, had investigated the
case put to him most thoroughly and assiduously, and found that the
plea was false. He had given a clear verdict accordingly. Shaykh
Muhammad-Taqi, the mujtahid of Nur, had lent his support to

Having failed miserably to achieve his purpose in an ecclesiastical
court, Haji Mirza Aqasi had next tried to utilize the power and <p345>
influence of Mahmud Khan, the notorious Kalantar of Tihran. He had
induced Mirza Muhammad-Taqi,[1] a younger son of the Vazir-i-Nuri,
to draw up a statement pledging himself not to enter any
transaction, regarding any part of the village of Quch-Hisar,
without the knowledge and consent of the Kalantar. Mirza Rida-Quli,
the brother of Mirza Muhammad-Taqi, and their mother, Kulthum
Khanum, had also certified this document and affixed their seals
to it. But, in truth, they were not entitled to the ownership of
any part or section of that village. When Baha'u'llah was apprised
of this curious stratagem of Haji Mirza Aqasi, He personally bought
the one-twelfth of the property which belonged to His
nephews--Mirza Muhammad-Baqir and Mirza Mahmud, sons of Mirza
Muhammad-'Ali--and then, with the full consent of other
smallholders, sold the property of Quch-Hisar to the sister of
Muhammad Shah. Within a few months, Muhammad Shah was dead and Haji
Mirza Aqasi had fallen from power. Thus ended the saga of
[1. He was a poet with the sobriquet of 'Parishan'. In later years,
he satirized Baha'u'llah. He died relatively young.] <p346>

'ABDU'L-BAHA. Memorials of the Faithful. Translated and annotated
by Marzieh Gail. Wilmette, Illinois: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1971.

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1315/AD 1897.

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BROWNE, E. G. An Abridged Translation of the History of Tabaristan,
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- - - Materials for the Study of the Babi Religion. Cambridge
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CURZON, G. N. Persia and the Persian Question. 2 vols. London:
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DIEULAFOY, JANE. La Parse, La Chaldee et la Susiane. Paris:
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DUNLOP, D. M. The History of the Jewish Khazars. Princeton Oriental
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HAYDAR-'ALL, HAJI MIRZA. Bihjatu's-Sudur. Bombay: 1913.

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Mahmud Khalilpur). Isfahan: Intishrat-i-Danishgah-i-Isfahan, SH
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Press, 1955. <p349>

'Aba = Outer cloak or mantle.

Ajudan-Bashi = Chief Adjutant.

Akhund = See Mulla.

Allahu-Abha 'God is All-Glorious'.

Amir Kabir = Title of Mirza Taqi Khan-i-Farahani, who became Grand

Azali = Follower of Mirza Yahya, Subh-i-Azal.

Babi = Follower of the Bab.

Baha'i = Follower of Baha'u'llah.

Biruni = Outer or men's quarters.

Darvish = Dervish. A Sufi vowed to poverty

Farman = Order or royal decree.

Farrash = Footman, lictor or attendant.

Farrrash-Bashi = Head footman or chamberlain.

Farsang (Farsakh)= A distance of approximately 3 miles, or 67

Fatwa (Fatva) = Sentence or judgment by a Muslim Mufti.

Haji = Muslim who has performed the pilgrimage to Mecca, or Hajj.

Huququ'llah = 'Right of God'; payment by believers instituted in
the Kitab-i-Aqdas.

Ijtihad = The power of the Shi'ih divine to issue ex cathedra
decrees and judgments.

Imam = Applied particularly by Shi'ihs to one of the twelve
Apostolic successors of Muhammad. An imam is also one who leads a
congregation in prayer.

Imam-Jum'ih = Member of the 'ulama who leads the Friday prayers.

Jarib = 10,000 square metres.

Ka'bah (Ka'bih) = Most Holy Shrine of Islam, in Mecca.

Kajavih = A kind of pannier, howdah, or litter.

Kalantar = Mayor.

Khan = Prince or chieftain. A khan is also an inn.

Kisras = Caesars.

Madrisih = School or religious college.

Masjid = Mosque.

Mirza = Prince when after a name, or simply 'mister' when prefixed
to a name. <p350>
Most Exalted Pen = A designation of Baha'u'llah.

Mu'adhdhin = Muezzin, one who sounds the call to prayer.

Mujtahid = Doctor of Law.

Mulla = One who has had a theological education.

Murshid = Sufi spiritual guide.

Mutasarrif = Governor, under the Vali.

Nargileh = See Qalyan.

Parasang = See Farsang.

Pasha = Honorary title given to provincial governors, ministers and
military officers of high rank in Turkey.

Qadi (Cadi) = A religious judge.

Qa'im = 'He Who shall arise'; the Promised One of Shi'ih Islam.

Qalyan = A pipe for smoking through water.

Qiblih = 'Point of Adoration', towards which people turn in prayer
(i.e., Mecca for Muslims, the Shrine of Baha'u'llah at Bahji for

Sadr-i-A'zam = Grand Vizier, Prime Minister.

Sardar = Sirdar, military commander.

Shaykh = Elder, teacher, master of a dervish order, etc.

Shayki = Member of the school founded by Shaykh Ahmad-i-Ahsa'i.

Shi'ih(s) = Followers of the first Imam, 'Ali, cousin and
son-in-law of Muhammad, and of his eleven hereditary successors;
in contrast to the more numerous Sunnis, who uphold the line of
elected Caliphs beginning with Abu-Bakr.

Siyyid = Descendant of Muhammad, entitled to wear the green turban.

Sufi = Muslim mystic.

Surih (Sura) = Chapter of the Qur'an; also a Tablet of Baha'u'llah.

Taj = 'Crown'; a felt head-dress.

Tuman = Unit of Iranian currency.

'Ulama = 'Those who know'; persons learned in Islamic law.

Vali = Governor-General, governor of a Turkish province.

Vazir (Vizir) = Vizier, minister of state. <p351>
[Note: page 351 begins an Index. For this electronic copy it is the
beginning page of a List of Illustrations.]

Page iv: [i: Murza Muhammad-Taqi, known as Ibn-i-Abhar 'Nothing
daunted them, no blow ever swerved them from their straight path,
no rancour embittered their lives. Serving the Faith of Baha'u'llah
was the only goal they knew.']

Page 5: [i: Map of Iran (See map of Northern Iran, page 289)]

Page 10: [i: [Top half:] The Masjid-i-Vakil in Shiraz in which the
Bab was invited to clarify His position (Dieulafoy, La Perse)
[Bottom half:] The Bazar of Vakil in Shiraz (Dieulafoy, La Perse)]

Page 12: [i: Husayn Khan-i-Iravani, surnamed Ajudan-Bashi Governor
of the Province of Fars]

Page 19: [i: Sultan-Murad Mirza, the Hisamu's-Saltanih
Governor-General of Khurasan]

Page 20: [i: Sultan-Murad Mirza, the Hisamu's-Saltanih
Governor-General of Khurasan]

Page 27: [i: Luft-'Ali Khan, commander of the Qashqa'i Regiment in
the second upheaval of Nayriz (1853), whose son embraced the Faith
of Baha'u'llah]

Page 30: [i: Mirza 'Ata'u'llah, later entitled Siraju'l-Hukama'
(the Light of the Physicians), a Baha'i who became the leading
physician of Abadih]

Page 34: [i: [Top] Shaykh Muhammad-Baqir, an influential divine of
Isfahan whom Baha'u'llah stigmatized as Dhi'b--the Wolf [Bottom:
Sultan-Mas'ud Mirza, Zillu's-Sultan (1850-1918) Governor of

Page 39: [i: [Top] A street in Isfahan in the time of
Zillu's-Sultan (Dieulafoy, La Perse) [Bottom: The pavilion of
Zillu's-Sultan in Isfahan (Dieulafoy, Le Perse)]

Page 47: [i: Nurayn-i-Nayyirayn (The Twin Shining Lights), Mirza
Muhammad-Hasan, the King of Martyrs (left), and Mirza
Muhammad-Husayn, the Beloved of Martyrs (right)]

Page 54: [i: Mirza Muhammad-Rida, entitled Mu'taminu's-Saltanih,
the Vazir of Khurasan]

Page 55: [i: Nasiri'd-Din Shah (reigned 1848-1896)]

Page 56: [i: Shuja'u'd-Dawliy-i-Quchani, hereditary chief of the
Za'faranlu tribe of Khurasan]

Page 58: [i: The Governor of Kashan with his attendants (Dieulafoy,
La Perse)]

Page 59: [i: Mirza Taqi Khan, the Amir-Nizam, first Prime Minister
of Nasiri'd-Din Shah]

Page 61: [i: Haji Siyyid Mirza, a son of Haji Mirza Siyyid Hasan

Page 65: [i: Three of the five Baqiroff brothers (front row), whose
descendants use the surname of Sadat-i-Khamsi. They are Siyyid
Nasru'llah (left), Mir 'Ali Naqi (center), Siyyid Asadu'llah
(right). Two of the second generations stand behind: Siyyid Mihdi
(left) and Mir Nasir (right).]

Page 66: [i: Siyyid Muhammad, entitled Nazimu'l-Hukama, the head
of the 'Ala'i family, is seated with his children around him. They
are (front row from left to right): 'Ata'u'llah, Rida, Qudsiyyih,
Ni'matu'llah, Diya'u'llah, Shu'a'u'llah (the late Hand of the Cause
of God), and (back row, left) Mihdi; the other man is

Page 71: [i: A view showing the condition of prisoners in a gaol
in Iran during the period of this book. Two Baha'is are among

Page 73: [i: Mirza 'Ali-Ashraf, an eloquent poet, whose sobriquet
was 'Andalib]

Page 78: [i: Mirza 'Ali-Muhammad-i-Varqa, the Martyr, referred to
by 'Abdu'l-Baha as a Hand of the Cause of God]

Page 80: [i: Sultan-Mas'ud Mirza, Zillu's-Sultan]

Page 81: [i: Mirza Valiyu'llah Khan (left) and Mirza 'Azizu'llah
Khan (right), the third and the eldest sons of Varqa, in Tihran in
1908. The former was later appointed a Hand of the Cause of God.]

Page 82: [i: Ruhu'llah, son of Varqa, who was martyred in 1896 with
his father, when about twelve years of age]

Page 93: [i: Varqa and Ruhu'llah, with their fellow-Baha'is of
Zanjan, Mirza Husayn and Haji Iman (reading from left to right),
shortly before the first two met their death in the royal palace
in Tihran following the assassination of Nasiri'd-Din Shah in 1896]

Page 99: [i: Mulla Muhammad-Riday-i-Muhammadabadi of Yazd]

Page 100: [i: Haji Farhad Mirza, the Mu'tamidu'd-Dawlih]

Page 102: [i: Mirza Abu'l-Fadl-i-Gulpaygani]

Page 103: [i: Kamran Mirza, Nayibu's-Saltanih, third son of
Nasiri'd-Din Shah]

Page 106: [i: Haji Mulla 'Ali-Akbar-i-Shahmirzadi, known as Haji
Akhund, one of the four Hands of the Cause of God appointed by

Page 110: [i: Mirza 'Ali Khan, the Aminu'd-Dawlih]

Page 114: [i: Aqa Muhammad-i-Qa'ini, Nabil-i-Akbar, referred to by
'Abdu'l-Baha as a Hand of the Cause of God]

Page 119: [i: A specimen of the writing of Muhammad-i-Zarandi,
Nabil-i-A'zam; the pages contain prayers of Baha'u'llah]

Page 120: [i: Sulayman Khan-i-Tunukhbuni, known as Jamal Effendi]

Page 122: [i: Aqa Husayn-i-Isfahani, Mishkin-Qalam, holding an
example of his calligraphy]

Page 123: [i: Jamal Effendi with an unidentified boy of the Indian

Page 125: [i: Mirza 'Ali-Asghar Khan, the Aminu's-Sultan]

Page 128: [i: [Top] Siyyid Mustafa Rumi, builder of the Burmese
Baha'i community, appointed posthumously by Shoghi Effendi as a
Hand of the Cause of God [Bottom] The tomb of Siyyid Mustafa Rumi
in Daidanaw, Burma.]

Page 131: [i: A group of Baha'is including Sina (middle row, 4th
from left) and Na'im (back row, 3rd from right), both poets of

Page 133: [i: Mirza Muhammad, whose sobriquet was Na'im, a poet of
the first rank]

Page 135: [i: Baha'is of Isfahan, including the poet Sina--Siyyid
Isma'il--(last on right in first row) and Aqa Mirza Asadu'llah
Khan-i-Vazir 2nd from left in first row), who became the secretary
of Zillu's-Sultan, the Governor of Isfahan]

Page 136: [i: Mirza' Asadu'llah Khan-i-Vazir, a distinguished
Baha'i of Isfahan and its Vazir for some three decades. Following
Baha'u'llah's instruction, he assisted in the protection and
transport of the remains of the Bab from Tihran to 'Akka in 1899.]

Page 139: [i: Baha'is of Tihran, among whom are (first row, seated,
from left): (1) Mirza Muhammad Na'im, (2) Mirza
'Ali-Akbar-i-Muhibbu's-Sultan; (seated behind, from left) (3) Dr
Yunis Khan-i-Afrukhtih, (4) Mirza Mahmud-i-Furughi, (5) the Hand
of the Cause Ibn-i-Abhar, (6) Siyyid Mihdiy-i-Gulpaygani, (7) the
Hand of the Cause Haji Akhund, (8) Mirza Mahmud-i-Nayyir, (9)
Siyyid Isma'il Sina]

Page 140: [i: Mirza 'Ali-Akbar-i-Rafsanjani, London 11 January

Page 143: [i: Fath-'Ali Shah (reigned 1797-1834)]

Page 144: [i: Prince Abu'l-Hasan Mirza]

Page 149: [i: Prince Abu'l-Hasan Mirza, Shaykhu'r-Ra'is]

Page 150: [i: Haji Mirza Muhammad-Taqi, known as Ibn-i-Abhar, one
of the four Hands of the Cause of God appointed by Baha'u'llah]

Page 151: [i: Malik Man,sur Mirza, the Shu'a'u's-Saltanih,
Governor-General of the province of Fars]

Page 152: [i: Baha'is of Isfahan, with Prince Abu'l-Hasan Mirza,
Shaykhu'r-Ra'is (first row, centre), and including Aqa
Muhammad-Javad-i-Sarraf (back row, 3rd from right)]

Page 153: [i: Muhammad-'Ali Shah, (reigned 1907-1909]

Page 156: [i: Muzaffari'd-Din Shah, (reigned 1896-1907)

Page 159: [i: Mirza Mahmud-i-Furughi]

Page 162: [i: Mirza Mahmud-i-Furughi (seated, left) and Shaykh
Muhammad-'Ali (right), both designated Apostles of Baha'u'llah]

Page 164: [i: A gathering of Baha'is with Mirza Abu'l-Fadl in
Cairo, April 1907 (seated, 3rd from right), on the occasion of the
pilgrimage to 'Akka of Thornton Chase, the first American Baha'i
(seated next to him) and Mr and Mrs Arthur S. Agnew (seated across
the table). Also identified are Haji Mirza Niyaz, one of the early
believers of Persia, loved by all, who iived many years in Cairo
until his death in 1919 (seated at front, with white turban);
Husayn Ruhi, who owned and directed two schools in Cairo (at table,
centre foreground); and Shaykh Muhyiddin Sabri Sanandaji al-Kurdi
(standing, hatless, below the tree at left), a disciple of Mirza
Abu'l-Fadl and a well-known scholar and Baha'i teacher invited by
'Abdu'l-Baha to go to Tunisia and North Africa]

Page 172: [i: Mirza 'Ali-Muhammad, known as Ibn-i-Asdaq, one of the
four Hands of the Cause of God appointed by Baha'u'llah]

Page 174: [i: Ibn-i-Asdaq]

Page 176: [i: The Consulting Assembly of Tihran, 1899, established
at the behest of 'Abdu'l-Baha, which eventually became the National
Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Iran. Members shown are (front
row, left to right) Haji Mirza 'Abdu'llah-i-Sahih-Furush, Mirza
'Azizu'llah Khan Varqa, Mirza Zakariyya; (second row) Dr
Asifu'l-Hukama, the Hand of the Cause Mirza Muhammad-Hasan, known
as Adib, the Hand of the Cause Mirza 'Ali-Muhammad, known as
Ibn-i-Asdaq, the Hand of the Cause Haji Mulla
'Ali-Akbar-i-Shahmirzadi, known as Haji Akhund, Haji Mirza
Muhammad-i-Afnan, Mirza Siyavash; (back row, from left) Mirza
Muhammad Khan Jadhbih and Aqa Muhammad-Husayn-i-Kashi]

Page 181: [i: A view of Istanbul, the Golden Horn, in the late
nineteenth century]

Page 186: [i: Aqa 'Azizu'llah-i-Jadhdhab]

Page 188: [i: Count Leo Tolstoy]

Page 193: [i: The Masjid-i-Shah in Qazvin, in which it is probably
that Haji Mulla Taqi, The Hujjatu'l-Islam of Qazvin and the
father-in-law of Tahirih, was fatally stabbed (Dieulafoy, La

Page 196: [i: An early panorama view of Tabriz]

Page 197: [i: The fortress, or citadel, of Tabriz where the Bab was
confined for about forty days before being sent to the castle of
Maku. His martyrdom occurred in the public square in Tabriz, 9 July
1850, following almost three-years' imprisonment in Maku and
Chihriq (Dieulafoy, La Perse)

Page 199: [i: Shaykh Kazim-i-Samandar, Apostle of Baha'u'llah]

Page 202: [i: Baha'is of Qazvin, including Shaykh Kazim-i-Samandar
(seated, centre), Mirza Musa Khan, Hakim-Bashi (on his left),
Tarazu'llah Samandari, later appointed a Hand of the Cause of God
(standing 2nd from right) and (on his left) Muhammad Labib, author
of The Seven Martyrs of Hurmuzak]

Page 206: [i: Haji Amin, Trustee of the Huququ'llah (seated,
right), with Hakim-Bashi and (standing ) Muhammad Labib]

Page 208: [i: Napoleon III, the French Emperor who first ignored
and later spurned the two Tablets which Baha'u'llah addressed to

Page 214: [i: Haji Abu'l-Hasan-i-Amin (centre), assisted by Haji
Ghulam Riday-i-Isfahan, later Amin-i-Amin (on his left) and Mirza
Taqiy-i-Qajar (on his right)]

Page 219: [i: Afnan relatives of the Bab and other Baha'is of
Shiraz in the company of Haji Mirza Abu'l-Qasim (seated above at
right), a brother-in-law of the Bab and the great-grandfather of
Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Baha'i Faith. Others identified
are: (front row, from left) Shaykh 'Ali Mirza, a nephew of the
Imam-Jum'ih; Mirza Abu'l-Hasan, the maternal grandfather of H. M.
Balyuzi; Mirza Mihdi, a poet of note whose sobriquet was Sabir;
Mirza Buzurg, a cousin of the Bab; Siyyid Muhammad-Husayn, the
paternal grandfather of Shoghi Effendi; Aqa Mirza Aqa, Nuri'd-Din;
(second row, from left) unknown; Mirza 'Ali-Akbar, the son of
Sabir; Mirza Mahmud, son of Haji Mirza Abu'l-Qasim, above; Haji
Ghulam-Husayn Khan, the host and outstanding Baha'i of Shiraz;
Mirza Hadi, the father of Shoghi Effendi; Mirza Siyyid 'Ali; Mirza
Muhammad-Baqir Khan (Dihquan); Mirza Rahim, brother of Mirza Hadi.
(The three at the back are unidentified.)]

Page 223: [i: The pulpit of the Masjid-i-Vakil in Shiraz, where the
Bab addressed the Friday
congregation on the invitation of the Imam-Jum'ih, Shaykh

Page 228: [i: Haji Muhammad-Ibrahim, whom Baha'u'llah designated
'Muballigh' (Teacher)]

Page 231: [i: Shaykh Salman (seated, right), the courier between
Baha'u'llah and the Baha'is of Iran, in Shiraz in the year AH 1288
(1871-72), with Haji Abu'l-Hasan-i-Bazzaz (seated, left), the
father of Mirza Muhammad-Baqir Khan (Dihqan), and (standing)
'Abbas-Quli Khan]

Page 233: [i: Some of the Baha'i community of Shiraz in AH 1297 (AD
1879), identified as follows (from left to right): (1st row,
seated) Aqa Mirza 'Ali, son of Haji Mirza Abu'l-Qasim-i-Afnan; Aqa
Mirza Ibrahim, son of Haji Mirza Abu'l-Qasim-i-Afnan; Mirza
'Ali-Akbar, son of the poet known as Sabir; (2nd row, seated) Aqa
Mirza Mahmud, son of Haji Mirza Abu'l-Qasim-i-Afnan; Aqa Mirza
Abu'l-Hasan, son of Haji Mirza Abu'l-Qasim-i-Afnan and grandfather
of H. M. Balyuzi; Haji Mirza Buzurg, son of Haji Mirza Siyyid
Muhammad, uncle of the Bab; Aqa Siyyid Husayn-i-Afnan, father of
Aqa Mirza Hadi (father of Shoghi Effendi); (3rd row) Mirza
Muhammad-Baqir Khan (Dihqan); Haji Ghulam-Husayn Khan; Mirza Siyyid
'Ali; (back row) Aqa Mirza Rahim, brother of Aqa Mirza Hadi; next
two unknown; Aqa Mirza 'Abdu'llah-i-Isfahani, father of Dr
Habibu'llah Salmanpur]

Page 235: [i: Aqa Mirza Aqa, Nuri'd-Din, in Egypt, circa 1885.]

Page 237: [i: Haji Mirza Haydar-'Ali, the Angel of Mount Carmel,
with Sulayman Khan, known as Jamal Effendi, the Conqueror of India]

Page 260: [i: The National Hotel in Poona, India, 1907, taken
during the visits of four Baha'i teachers (see footnote, p. 238):
(in the back seat of the 1st carriage) Mulla Muhammad-Taqi,
Ibn-i-Abhar and Mr Hooper Harris; (in the back seat of the 2nd
carriage) Mr Harlan Ober and Mirza Mahmud Zarqani, diarist of
'Abdu'l-Baha's travels in the West; (standing behind the front
wheels of the 2nd carriage) Aqa Khusraw]

Page 262: [I: Apostles of Baha'u'llah (numbered as the list
beginning on page 261)]

Page 264:
[i: [Left] Mulla Abu'l-Hasan-i-Ardikani, known as Haji Amin,
appointed posthumously a Hand of the Cause of God by Shoghi
Effendi, Guardian of the Baha'i Faith [Right] Mirza
Abu'l-Fadl-i-Gulpaygani 'It is a rare thing to find a person
perfect from every direction, but he was such a person.'
('Abdu'l-Baha speaking to Baha'is in Haifa, the night after Mirza
passing, 22 January 1914)]

Page 265: [i: Haji Mulla 'Ali-Akbar-i-Shahmirzadi, known as Haji
Akhund, appointed a Hand of the Cause of God by Baha'u'llah]

Page 267: [i: [Left] Haji' Mirza Muhammad-Taqi, known as
Vakilu'd-Dawlih, the chief builder, in 'Ishqabad, of the first
Mashriqu'l-Adhkar [Right] Mirza Muhammad-Taqi, known as
Ibn-i-Abhar, appointed a Hand of the Cause of God by Baha'u'llah]

Page 271:
[i: [Left] Mirza Muhammad Mustafay-i-Baghdadi, one of the believers
who assisted in the transport of the remains of the Bab to 'Akka
in 1899 [Right] Aqa Husayn-i-Isfahani, known as Mishkin-Qalam (see
Baha'u'llah, The King of Glory, pp. 161 and 251, for specimens of
his highly-valued calligraphy)]

Page 273: [i: [Left] Mirza Hasan, entitled Adibu'l-'Ulama and known
as Adib, one of the four Hands of the Cause of God appointed by
Baha'u'llah [Right] Shaykh Muhammad-'Aliy-i-Qa'ini, nephew and
close companion of Nabil-i-Akbar]

Page 275: [i: Mulla Zaynu'l-'Abidin, surnamed
Jinab-i-Zaynu'l-Muqarrabin, a designation conferred upon him by

Page 289: [i: Map of Northern Iran (See map of Iran, p. 5.)]

page 295:
[i: [Note: A Table in columnar format entitled]
mentioned in this chapter

Dates are according to the Muslim (AH) calendar, followed after an
oblique stroke by the Christian (AD) dates. See also the list of
Dynasties and Rulers of Iran, p. 325. Bosworth, The Islamic
Dynasties, lists and describes the dynasties in Iran after
Muhammad; many of the following dates come from this book.
BADUSPANIDS 45-1006/665-1599

Sharvin (Sharwin I) 155-181/772-797
Shahriyhr I 181-210/797-825
Shapur 21O-222/825-837
Rustam I 253-282/867-895

DABWAYHIDS (DABUYIDS) 25-141/645-758
Farrukhan (Farkhan Ibn Dabwayh) 90-1O3/708-21


JASTANIYANS (JUSTANIDS) From 2nd cent. -- 315/c. 796-927
Vahsudan (Wahsudan) uncertain
Jastan III 290-300/903-912
'Ali 300-304/912-916

MUSAFIRlDS or SALARIDS or KANGARIDS c. 304-c.483/c.916-1090

SAFFARIDS 253 -- c. 900/867 -- c. 1495
Ya'qub Ibn Layth-Saffar 253-265/867-879
'Amr Ibn Layth 265-289/879-901

SAMANIDS 204-395/819-1005
Isma'il I 279-295/892-907
Nasr II 301-331/914-942
Mansur I 350-366/961-976
Nuh II 366-387/976-997

TAHlRlDS 205-259/821-873
'Abdu'llah 213-230/828-845
Muhammad 248-259/862-873

ZAYDiS (SIYYIDS), TABARISTAN 250-316/864-928
Hasan Ibn Zayd (Da'ia'l-Kabir) 250-270/864-883
Muhammad Ibn Zayd 270-287/883-900
Hasan Nasiru'l-Haqq 301-304/913-916
Hasan Ibn Qasim 304-316/916-928

ZIYARIDS 315 -- c. 483/927 -- c.1090
Mardavij 315-323/927-935
Vushmagir 323-356/935-967
Bisutun 356-367/967-978
Shamsu'l-Ma'ali Qabus 367-402/978-1012
Falaku'l-Ma'ali Manuchihr 402-420/1012-1O29
'Unsuru'l-Ma'ali, Kaykavus 441-?c. 483/1049-?c. 1090
Gilan Shah ?c. 483/?c. 1090 (rule uncertain)]

Page 319: [i: Haji Mirza 'Abdu'llah-i-Sahih-Furush (left), author
of a book on the Ahl-i-Haqq, with Mirza Ghulam-Husayn]

Page 323: [i: Murgh-Mahallih, a much-loved summer residence of
Baha'u'llah in the district of Shimran]

Page 325:
[i: [Note: A Table in columnar format entitled]

mentioned in this book, alphabetically by dynasty
See also the list and note on p. 295.

Cyrus II, the Great 559-c. 529 BC
Artaxerxes II 404-359 (358) BC
Darius III. Codomanus 336-330 BC

AFSHARlDS 1148-1210/ 1736-1795
Nadir Shah 1148-1160/1736-1747

Farhad V 2 BC - AD 4

BUWAYHIDS 320-454/932-1O62
Line in Kirman
Mu'izzu'd-Dawlih (Ahmad) 324-338/936-949
'Adudu'd-Dawlih 338-372/949-983 (also in Fars)
Line in Fars and Khuzistan
Imadu'd-Dawlih ('Ali) 322-338/934-949 (also in Jibal)
Line in Jibal
Ruknu'd-Dawlih (Hasan) 335-366/947-976
Brunch in Hamadan und Isfahan
Mu'ayyidu'd-Dawlih Buyih 366-373/977-983
Brunch in Ray
Fakhru'd-Dawlih 'Ali 366-387/977-997 (also in Hamadan)

GHAZNAVIDS 366-582/977-1186
Mahmud Sultan 388-421/998-1030

KHARAZMSHAHIS (KHWARAZM-SHAHS) c. 470-628/c. 1077-1231
'Ala'u'd-Din Muhammad-i-Kharazmshah 596-617/1200-1220
Jalalu'd-Din-i-Mankubarni 617-628/1220-1231


QAJARS 1193-1342/1779-1925
Aqa Muhammad Khan 1193-1212/177-1797
Fath-'Ali Shah 1212-1250/1797-1834
Muhammad Shah 1250-1264/1834-1848
Nasiri'd-Din 1264-1313/1848-1896
Muzaffari'd-Din 1313-1324/1896-1907
Muhammad-'Ali 1324-1327/1907-1909

SAFAVIDS 907-l145/1501-1732
Shah Isma'il 907-930/1501-1524
Tahmasb I 930-984/1524-1576
'Abbas I, the Great 996-1038/1588-1629

SALJUQS (SELJUQS) 429-590/1038-1194
Alp Arslan 455-465/1063-1072
Malik Shah I 465-485/1072-1092
Muhammad I 498-511/1105-1118
Sanjar 511-552/1118-1157

Ardashir I 226-241
Chosroes I (Anushirvan) 531-579
Chosroes II (Khusraw Parviz) 590-628
Yazdigird III 632-641

Seleucus I Nicator 312-281 BC

TIMURIDS 771-912/1370-1506
Timur (-i-Lang or -i-Gurkani) 771-807/1370-1405

ZANDS 1163-1209/1750-1794
Karim Khan 1163-1193/1750-1779
Lutf-'Ali Khan 1203-1209/1789-1794]

Page 327:

(Adapted from a map drawn by Major A. Krziz in 1857-8)

Page 343:
[i: Haji Mirza Aqasi, the Grand Vizier of Muhammad Shah]
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