Read: The Dawn-Breakers (1970)


THE DAWN-BREAKERS

NABIL'S NARRATIVE OF THE 

EARLY DAYS OF THE BAHA'I REVELATION


"I stand, life in hand, ready; that perchance, through God's loving-kindness and grace, this revealed and manifest Letter may lay down his life as a sacrifice in the path of the Primal Point, the Most Exalted Word."—.BAHA'U'LLAH.


TRANSLATED FROM THE ORIGINAL PERSIAN 

AND EDITED BY SHOGHI EFFENDI


©1932, 1970 National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States of America




























CHAPTER I

THE MISSION OF SHAYKH AHMAD-I-AHSA'I


[1] At a time when the shining reality of the Faith of Muhammad had been obscured by the ignorance, the fanaticism, and perversity of the contending sects into which it had fallen, there appeared above the horizon of the East1 that luminous Star of Divine guidance, Shaykh Ahmad-i-Ahsa'i.2 He observed how those who professed the Faith of Islam had shattered its unity, sapped its force, perverted its purpose, and degraded its holy name. His soul was filled with anguish at the sight of the corruption and strife which characterised the shi'ah sect of Islam. Inspired by the light that shone within him,3 he arose with unerring vision, with fixed purpose, and sublime detachment to utter his protest against the betrayal of the Faith by that ignoble people. Aglow with zeal and conscious of the sublimity of his calling, he vehemently appealed not only to shi'ah Islam but to all the followers of Muhammad throughout [2] the East, to awaken from the slumber of negligence and to prepare the way for Him who must needs be made manifest in the fulness of time, whose light alone could dissipate the mists of prejudice and ignorance which had enveloped that Faith. Forsaking his home and kindred, on one of the islands of Bahrayn, to the south of the Persian Gulf, he set out, as bidden by an almighty Providence, to unravel the mysteries of those verses of Islamic Scriptures which foreshadowed the advent of a new Manifestation. He was well aware of the dangers and perils that beset his path; he fully realised the crushing responsibility of his task. There burned in his soul the conviction that no reform, however drastic, within the Faith of Islam, could achieve the regeneration of this perverse people. He knew, and was destined by the Will of God to demonstrate, that nothing short of a new and independent Revelation, as attested and foreshadowed by the sacred Scriptures of Islam, could revive the fortunes and restore the purity of that decadent Faith.4


Bereft of all earthly possessions, and detached from all save God, he, in the early days of the thirteenth century of the Hegirah, when forty years of age, arose to dedicate the remaining days of his life to the task he felt impelled to shoulder. He first proceeded to Najaf and Karbila,5 where in a few years he acquired familiarity with the prevailing thoughts and standards current among the learned men of Islam. There he came to be recognised as one of the authorised expounders of the Islamic Holy Writ, was declared a mujtahid, and soon obtained an ascendancy over the rest of his colleagues, who either visited or were residing in those holy cities. These came to regard him as one initiated into the mysteries of Divine Revelation, and qualified to unravel the abstruse utterances of Muhammad and of the imams of the Faith. As his influence increased, and the scope of his [3] authority widened, he found himself besieged on every side by an ever-increasing number of devoted enquirers who asked to be enlightened regarding the intricacies of the Faith, all of which he ably and fully expounded. By his knowledge and fearlessness he struck terror to the hearts of the Sufis and Neo-Platonists and other kindred schools of thought,6

  

who envied his learning and feared his ruthlessness. Thereby he acquired added favour in the eyes of those learned divines, who looked upon these sects as the disseminators of obscure and heretical doctrines. Yet, great as was his fame and universal as was the esteem in which he was regarded, he despised all the honours which his admirers lavished upon him. He marvelled at their servile devotion to dignity and rank, and refused resolutely to associate himself with the objects of their pursuits and desires. 


[4] Having achieved his purpose in those cities, and inhaling the fragrance which wafted upon him from Persia, he felt in his heart an irrepressible yearning to hasten to that country. He concealed from his friends, however, the real motive that impelled him to direct his steps towards that land. By way of the Persian Gulf, he hastened unto the land of his heart's desire, ostensibly for the purpose of visiting the shrine of the Imam Rida in Mashhad.7 He was filled with eagerness to unburden his soul, and searched zealously for those to whom he could deliver the secret which to no one he had as yet divulged. Upon his arrival at Shiraz, the city which enshrined that concealed Treasure of God, and from which the voice of the Herald of a new Manifestation was destined to be proclaimed, he repaired to the Masjid-i-Jum'ih, a mosque which in its style and shape bore a striking resemblance to the holy shrine of Mecca. Many a time did he, whilst gazing upon that edifice, observe: "Verily, this house of God betokens such signs as only those who are endowed with understanding can perceive. Methinks he who conceived and built it was inspired of God."8 How often and how passionately he extolled that city! Such was the praise he lavished upon it that his hearers, who were only too familiar with its mediocrity, were astonished at the tone of his language. "Wonder not," he said to those who were surprised, "for ere long the secret of my words will be made manifest to you. Among [5] you there shall be a number who will live to behold the glory of a Day which the prophets of old have yearned to witness." So great was his authority in the eyes of the ulamas who met and conversed with him, that they professed themselves incapable of comprehending the meaning of his mysterious allusions and ascribed their failure to their own deficient understanding.


Having sown the seeds of Divine knowledge in the hearts of those whom he found receptive to his call, Shaykh Ahmad set out for Yazd, where he tarried awhile, engaged continually in the dissemination of such truths as he felt urged to reveal. Most of his books and epistles were written in that city.9 Such was the fame he acquired,10 that the ruler of Persia, Fath-'Ali Shah, was moved to address to him from Tihran a written message,11 calling upon him to explain certain specific questions related to the abstruse teachings of the Muslim Faith, the meaning of which the leading ulamas of his realm had been unable to unfold. To this he readily answered in the form of an epistle to which he gave the name of "Risaliy-i-Sultaniyyih." The Shah was so pleased with the tone and subject matter of that epistle that he forthwith sent him a second message, this time extending to him an invitation to visit his court. Replying to this second imperial message, 


[7] he wrote the following: "As I had intended ever since my departure from Najaf and Karbila to visit and pay my homage to the shrine of the Imam Rida in Mashhad, I venture to hope that your Imperial Majesty will graciously allow me to fulfil the vow which I have made. Later on, God willing, it is my hope and purpose to avail myself of the honour which your Imperial Majesty has deigned to confer upon me."


Among those who, in the city of Yazd, were awakened by the message of that bearer of the light of God, was Haji 'Abdu'l-Vahhab, a man of great piety, upright and God-fearing. He visited Shaykh Ahmad each day in the company of a certain Mulla 'Abdu'l-Khaliq-i-Yazdi, who was noted for his authority and learning. On certain occasions, however, in order to talk confidentially with 'Abdu'l-Vahhab, Shaykh Ahmad, to the great surprise of the learned 'Abdu'l-Khaliq, would ask him to retire from his presence and leave him alone with his chosen and favoured disciple. This marked preference shown to so modest and illiterate a man as 'Abdu'l-Vahhab was a cause of great surprise to his companion, who was only too conscious of his own superiority and attainments. Later, however, when Shaykh Ahmad had departed from Yazd, 'Abdu'l-Vahhab retired from the society of men and came to be regarded as a Sufi. By the orthodox leaders of that community, however, such as the Ni'matu'llahi and Dhahabi, he was denounced as an intruder and was suspected of a desire to rob them of their leadership. 'Abdu'l-Vahhab, for whom the Sufi doctrine had no special attraction, scorned their false imputations and shunned their society. He associated with none except Haji Hasan-i-Nayini, whom he had chosen as his intimate friend and to whom he confided the secret with which he had been entrusted by his master. When 'Abdu'l-Vahhab died, this friend, following his example, continued to pursue the path which he had directed him to tread, and announced to every receptive soul the tidings of God's fast-approaching Revelation.


[8] Mirza Mahmud-i-Qamsari, whom I met in Kashan, and who at that time was an old man over ninety years of age and was greatly beloved and revered by all those who knew him, related to me the following story: "I recall when in my youth, at the time when I was living in Kashan, I heard of a certain man in Nayin who had arisen to announce the tidings of a new Revelation, and under whose spell fell all who heard him, whether scholars, officials of the government, or the uneducated among the people. His influence was such that those who came in contact with him renounced the world and despised its riches. Curious to ascertain the truth, I proceeded, unsuspected by my friends, to Nayin, where I was able to verify the statements that were current about him. His radiant countenance bespoke the light that had been kindled in his soul. I heard him, one day, after he had offered his morning prayer, speak words such as these: 'Ere long will the earth be turned into a paradise. Ere long will Persia be made the shrine round which will circle the peoples of the earth.' One morning, at the hour of dawn, I found him fallen upon his face, repeating in wrapt devotion the words 'Allah-u-Akbar.'12 To my great surprise he turned to me and said: 'That which I have been announcing to you is now revealed. At this very hour the light of the promised One has broken and is shedding illumination upon the world. O Mahmud, verily I say, you shall live to behold that Day of days.' The words which that holy man addressed to me kept ringing in my ears until the day when, in the year sixty, I was privileged to hear the Call that arose from Shiraz. I was, alas, unable, because of my infirmities, to hasten to that city. Later, when the Bab, the herald of the new Revelation, arrived in Kashan and for three nights lived as a guest in the house of Haji Mirza Jani, I was unaware of His visit and so missed the honour of attaining His presence. Sometime afterwards, whilst conversing with the followers of the Faith, I was informed that the birthday of the Bab fell on the first day of the month of Muharram of the year 1235 A.H.13 I realised that the day to which Haji Hasan-i-Nayini had referred did not correspond with this date, that there was actually a difference of two years between them. This thought [9] sorely perplexed me. Long after, however, I met a certain Haji Mirza Kamalu'd-Din-i-Naraqi, who announced to me the Revelation of Baha'u'llah in Baghdad, and who shared with me a number of verses from the 'Qasidiy-i-Varqa'iyyih' as well as certain passages of the Persian and Arabic 'Hidden Words.' I was moved to the depths of my soul as I heard him recite those sacred words. The following I still vividly remember: 'O Son of Being! Thy heart is my home; sanctify it for my descent. Thy spirit is my place of revelation; cleanse it for my manifestation. O Son of Earth! Wouldst thou have me, seek none other than me; and wouldst thou gaze upon my beauty, close thine eyes to the world and all that is therein; for my will and the will of another than I, even as fire and water, cannot dwell together in one heart.' I asked him the date of the birth of Baha'u'llah. 'The dawn of the second day of Muharram,' he replied, 'of the year 1233 A.H.'14 I immediately remembered the words of Haji Hasan and recalled the day on which they were spoken. Instinctively I fell prostrate on the ground and exclaimed: 'Glorified art Thou, O my God, for having enabled me to attain unto this promised Day. If now I be called to Thee, I die content and assured.'" That very year, the year 1274 A.H.,15 that venerable and radiant soul yielded his spirit to God.


This account which I heard from the lips of Mirza Mahmud-i-Qamsari himself, and which is still current amongst the people, is assuredly a compelling evidence of the perspicacity of the late Shaykh Ahmad-i-Ahsa'i and bears eloquent testimony to the influence he exercised upon his immediate disciples. The promise he gave them was eventually fulfilled, and the mystery with which he fired their souls was unfolded in all its glory.


During those days when Shaykh Ahmad was preparing to depart from Yazd, Siyyid Kazim-i-Rashti,16 that other luminary of Divine guidance, set out from his native province of Gilan with the object of visiting Shaykh Ahmad, ere the [10] latter undertook his pilgrimage to Khurasan. In the course of his first interview with him, Shaykh Ahmad spoke these words: "I welcome you, O my friend! How long and how eagerly have I waited for you to come and deliver me from the arrogance of this perverse people! I am oppressed by the shamelessness of their acts and the depravity of their character. 'Verily, We proposed to the heavens, and to the earth, and to the mountains, to receive the trust of God, but they refused the burden, and they feared to receive it. Man undertook to bear it; and he, verily, hath proved unjust, ignorant.'"


This Siyyid Kazim had already, from his early boyhood, shown signs of remarkable intellectual power and spiritual insight. He was unique among those of his own rank and age. At the age of eleven, he had committed to memory the whole of the Qur'an. At the age of fourteen, he had learned by heart a prodigious number of prayers and recognised traditions of Muhammad. At the age of eighteen, he had composed a commentary on a verse of the Qur'an known as the Ayatu'l-Kursi, which had excited the wonder and the admiration of the most learned of his day. His piety, the gentleness of his character, and his humility were such that all who knew him, whether young or old, were profoundly impressed.


In the year 1231 A.H.,17 when only twenty-two years old, he, forsaking home, kindred, and friends, departed from Gilan, intent upon attaining the presence of him who had so nobly arisen to announce the approaching dawn of a Divine Revelation. He had been in the company of Shaykh Ahmad for only a few weeks, when the latter, turning to him one day, addressed him in these words: "Remain in your house and cease attending my lectures. Such of my disciples as may feel perplexed will turn henceforth to you, and will seek to obtain from you directly whatsoever assistance they may require. You will, through the knowledge which the Lord your God has bestowed upon you, resolve their problems and tranquillise [11] their hearts. By the power of your utterance you will help to revive the sorely neglected Faith of Muhammad, your illustrious ancestor." These words addressed to Siyyid Kazim excited the resentment and kindled the envy of the prominent disciples of Shaykh Ahmad, among whom figured Mulla Muhammad-i-Mamaqani and Mulla 'Abdu'l-Khaliq-i-Yazdi. So compelling was the dignity of Siyyid Kazim, however, and so remarkable were the evidences of his knowledge and wisdom, that these disciples were awed and felt compelled to submit.


Shaykh Ahmad, having thus committed his disciples to the care of Siyyid Kazim, left for Khurasan. There he tarried awhile, in the close vicinity of the holy shrine of the Imam

 

[12] Rida in Mashhad. Within its precincts he pursued with undiminished zest the course of his labours. By resolving the intricacies that agitated the minds of the seekers, he continued to prepare the way for the advent of the coming Manifestation. In that city he became increasingly conscious that the Day which was to witness the birth of the promised One could not be far distant. The promised hour, he felt, was fast approaching. From the direction of Nur, in the province of Mazindaran, he was able to perceive the first glimmerings that heralded the dawn of the promised Dispensation. To him the Revelation foreshadowed in these following traditional utterances was at hand: "Ere long shall ye behold the countenance of your Lord resplendent as the moon in its full glory. And yet, ye shall fail to unite in acknowledging His truth and embracing His Faith." And "One of the most mighty signs that shall signalise the advent of the promised Hour is this: 'A woman shall give birth to One who shall be her Lord.'"


Shaykh Ahmad therefore set his face towards Nur and, accompanied by Siyyid Kazim and a number of his distinguished disciples, proceeded to Tihran. The Shah of Persia, being informed of the approach of Shaykh Ahmad to his capital, commanded the dignitaries and officials of Tihran to go out to meet him. He directed them to extend a cordial expression of welcome on his behalf. The distinguished visitor and his companions were royally entertained by the Shah, who visited him in person and declared him to be "the glory of his nation and an ornament to his people."18 In those days, there was born a Child in an ancient and noble family of Nur,19 whose father was Mirza 'Abbas, better known as Mirza Buzurg, a favoured minister of the Crown. That Child was Baha'u'llah.20 At the hour of dawn, on the second day [13] of Muharram, in the year 1233 A.H.,21 the world, unaware of its significance, witnessed the birth of Him who was destined to confer upon it such incalculable blessings. Shaykh Ahmad, who recognised in its full measure the meaning of this auspicious event, yearned to spend the remaining days of his life within the precincts of the court of this Divine, this new-born King. But this was not to be. His thirst unallayed, and his yearning unsatisfied, he felt compelled to submit to God's irrevocable decree, and, turning his face away from the city of his Beloved, proceeded to Kirmanshah.


The governor of Kirmanshah, Prince Muhammad-'Ali Mirza, the Shah's eldest son and the ablest member of his house, had already begged permission of his Imperial Majesty to enable him to entertain and serve in person Shaykh Ahmad.22 So favoured was the Prince in the eyes of the Shah, that his request was immediately granted. Wholly resigned to his destiny, Shaykh Ahmad bade farewell to Tihran. Ere his departure from that city, he breathed a prayer that this hidden Treasure of God, now born amongst his countrymen, might be preserved and cherished by them, that they might recognise the full measure of His blessedness and glory, and might be enabled to proclaim His excellence to all nations and peoples.


Upon his arrival in Kirmanshah, Shaykh Ahmad decided to select a number of the most receptive from among his shi'ah disciples, and, by devoting his special attention to their enlightenment, to enable them to become the active supporters of the Cause of the promised Revelation. In the series of books and epistles which he undertook to write, among which figures his well-known work Sharhu'z-Ziyarih, he extolled in clear and vivid language the virtues of the imams of the Faith, and laid special stress upon the allusions which they had made to the coming of the promised One. By his repeated references to Husayn, he meant, however, none other than the Husayn who was yet to be revealed; and by his allusions to the ever-recurrent name 'Ali, he intended not the [14] 'Ali who had been slain, but the 'Ali recently born. To those who questioned him regarding the signs that must needs herald the advent of the Qa'im, he emphatically asserted the inevitableness of the promised Dispensation. In the very year the Bab was born, Shaykh Ahmad suffered the loss of his son, whose name was Shaykh 'Ali. To his disciples who mourned his loss he spoke these words of comfort: "Grieve not, O my friends, for I have offered up my son, my own 'Ali, as a sacrifice for the 'Ali whose advent we all await. To this end have I reared and prepared him."


The Bab, whose name was 'Ali-Muhammad, was born in Shiraz, on the first of Muharram, in the year 1235 A.H. He was the descendant of a house renowned for its nobility, which traced its origin to Muhammad Himself. His father, Siyyid Muhammad-Rida, as well as His mother, were descendants of the Prophet, and belonged to families of recognised standing. The date of His birth confirmed the truth of the saying attributed to the Imam 'Ali, the Commander of the Faithful: "I am two years younger than my Lord." The mystery of this utterance, however, remained unrevealed except to those who sought and recognised the truth of the new Revelation. It was He, the Bab, who, in His first, His most weighty and exalted Book, revealed this passage concerning Baha'u'llah: "O Thou Remnant of God! I have sacrificed Myself wholly for Thee; I have consented to be cursed for Thy sake; and have yearned for naught but martyrdom in the path of Thy love. Sufficient witness unto Me is God, the Exalted, the Protector, the Ancient of Days!"


While Shaykh Ahmad was sojourning in Kirmanshah, he received so many evidences of ardent devotion from Prince Muhammad-'Ali Mirza that on one occasion he was moved to refer to the Prince in such terms: "Muhammad-'Ali I regard as my own son, though he be a descendant of Fath-'Ali." A considerable number of seekers and disciples thronged his house and eagerly attended his lectures. To none, however, did he feel inclined to show the consideration and affectionate regard which characterised his attitude towards Siyyid Kazim. He seemed to have singled him out from among the multitude that crowded to see him, and to be preparing him to carry on with undiminished vigour his work after his death. One [15] of his disciples, one day, questioned Shaykh Ahmad concerning the Word which the promised One is expected to utter in the fulness of time, a Word so appallingly tremendous that the three hundred and thirteen chiefs and nobles of the earth would each and all flee in consternation as if overwhelmed by its stupendous weight. To him Shaykh Ahmad replied: "How can you presume to sustain the weight of the Word which the chieftains of the earth are incapable of bearing? Seek not to gratify an impossible desire. Cease asking me this question, and beseech forgiveness from God." That presumptuous questioner again pressed him to disclose the nature of that Word. At last Shaykh Ahmad replied: "Were you to attain that Day, were you to be told to repudiate the guardianship of 'Ali and to denounce its validity, what would you say?" "God forbid!" he exclaimed. "Such things can never be. That such words should proceed out of the mouth of the promised One is to me inconceivable." How grievous the mistake he made, and how pitiful his plight! His faith was weighed in the balance, and was found wanting, inasmuch as he failed to recognise that He who must needs be made manifest is endowed with that sovereign power which no man dare question. His is the right "to command whatsoever He willeth, and to decree that which He pleaseth." Whoever hesitates, whoever, though it be for the twinkling of an eye or less, questions His authority, is deprived of His grace and is accounted of the fallen. And yet few, if any, among those who listened to Shaykh Ahmad in that city, and heard him unfold the mysteries of the allusions in the sacred Scriptures, were able to appreciate the significance of his utterances or to apprehend their purpose. Siyyid Kazim, his able and distinguished lieutenant, alone, could claim to have understood his meaning.


After the death of Prince Muhammad-'Ali Mirza,23 Shaykh Ahmad, freed from the urgent solicitations of the Prince to extend his sojourn in Kirmanshah, transferred his residence to Karbila. Though to outward seeming he was circling round the shrine of the Siyyidu'sh-Shuhada',24 the Imam Husayn, his heart, whilst he performed those rites, was set upon that true Husayn, the only object of his devotions. A host of [16] the most distinguished ulamas and mujtahids thronged to see him. Many began to envy his reputation, and a number sought to undermine his authority. However much they strove, they failed to shake his position of undoubted preeminence amongst the learned men of that city. Eventually that shining light was summoned to shed its radiance upon the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. Thither he journeyed, there he pursued with unstinted devotion his labours, and there he was laid to rest beneath the shadow of the Prophet's sepulchre, for the understanding of whose Cause he had so faithfully laboured.


Ere he departed from Karbila, he confided to Siyyid Kazim, his chosen successor, the secret of his mission,25 and instructed him to strive to kindle in every receptive heart the fire that had burned so brightly within him. However much Siyyid Kazim insisted on accompanying him as far as Najaf, Shaykh Ahmad refused to comply with his request. "You have no time to lose," were the last words which he addressed to him. "Every fleeting hour should be fully and wisely utilised. You should gird up the loin of endeavour and strive day and night to rend asunder, by the grace of God and by the hand of wisdom and loving-kindness, those veils of heedlessness that have blinded the eyes of men. For verily I say, the Hour is drawing nigh, the Hour I have besought God to spare me from witnessing, for the earthquake of the Last Hour will be tremendous. You should pray to God to be spared the overpowering trials of that Day, for neither of us is capable of withstanding its sweeping force. Others, of greater endurance and power, have been destined to bear this stupendous weight, men whose hearts are sanctified from all earthly things, and whose strength is reinforced by the potency of His power."


Having spoken these words, Shaykh Ahmad bade him farewell, urged him to face valiantly the trials that must needs afflict him, and committed him to the care of God. [17] In Karbila, Siyyid Kazim devoted himself to the work initiated by his master, expounded his teachings, defended his Cause, and answered whatever questions perplexed the minds of his disciples. The vigour with which he prosecuted his task inflamed the animosity of the ignorant and envious. "For forty years," they clamoured, "we have suffered the pretentious teachings of Shaykh Ahmad to be spread with no opposition whatever on our part. We no longer can tolerate similar pretensions on the part of his successor, who rejects the belief in the resurrection of the body, who repudiates the literal interpretation of the 'Mi'raj,'26 who regards the signs of the coming Day as allegorical, and who preaches a doctrine heretical in character and subversive of the best tenets of orthodox Islam." The louder their clamour and protestations, the firmer grew the determination of Siyyid Kazim to prosecute his mission and fulfil his trust. He addressed an epistle to Shaykh Ahmad, wherein he set forth at length the calumnies that had been uttered against him, and acquainted him with the character and extent of their opposition. In it he ventured to enquire as to how long he was destined to submit to the unrelenting fanaticism of a stubborn and ignorant people, and prayed to be enlightened regarding the time when the promised One was to be made manifest. To this Shaykh Ahmad replied: "Be assured of the grace of your God. Be not grieved at their doings. The mystery of this Cause must needs be made manifest, and the secret of this Message must needs be divulged.27 I can say no more, I can appoint [18] no time. His Cause will be made known after Hin.28 'Ask me not of things which, if revealed unto you, might only pain you.'"


How great, how very great, is His Cause, that even to so exalted a personage as Siyyid Kazim words such as these should have been addressed! This answer of Shaykh Ahmad imparted solace and strength to the heart of Siyyid Kazim, who, with redoubled determination, continued to withstand the onslaught of an envious and insidious enemy.


Shaykh Ahmad died soon after,29 in the year 1242 A.H., at the age of eighty-one, and was laid to rest in the cemetery of Baqi',30 in the close vicinity of the resting place of Muhammad in the holy city of Medina. 


FOOTNOTES


1.1. His genealogy, according to his son Shaykh Abdu'llah, is the following: "Shaykh Ahmad-ibn-i-Zaynu'd-Din-ibn-i-Ibrahim-ibn-i-Sakhr-ibn-i-Ibrahim- ibn-i-Zahir-ibn-i-Ramadan-ibn-i-Rashid-ibn-i-Dahim-ibn-i-Shimrukh- ibn-i-Sulih." (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Essai sur le Shaykhisme" I, p. 1.) 


1.2. Born Rajab, 1166 A.H., 24th of April-24th of May, 1753, in town of Ahsa, in district of Ahsa, northeast of Arabian peninsula. (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Essai sur le Shaykhisme," I, p. 1.) Born a shi'ah, though his ancestors were sunnis. (Ibid., p. 2.) According to E. G. Browne ("A Traveller's Narrative," Note E, p. 235), Shaykh Ahmad was born in the year 1157 A.H. and died in 1242.


1.3. Siyyid Kazim, in his book entitled "Dalilu'l-Mutahayyirin," writes as follows: "Our master, one night, saw the Imam Hasan; upon him may the blessing of God rest! His Holiness put in his mouth his blessed tongue. From the adorable saliva of His Holiness he drew forth the sciences and the assistance of God. To the taste it was sweeter even than honey, more perfumed than the musk. It was also quite warm. When he came to himself and wakened from his dream, he inwardly radiated the light of divine contemplation; his soul overflowed with the blessings of God and became entirely severed from everything save God. "His faith, his trust in God and his resignation to the Will of the Most High grew apace. Because of a great love and an ardent desire which arose in his heart, he forgot to eat or to clothe himself except barely enough to sustain life." (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Essai sur le Shaykhisme," I, p. 6.)


1.4. "He [Shaykh Ahmad] knew full well that he was chosen of God to prepare men's hearts for the reception of the more complete truth shortly to be revealed, and that through him the way of access to the hidden twelfth Imam Mihdi was reopened. But he did not set this forth in clear and unmistakable terms, lest 'the unregenerate' should turn again and rend him." (Dr. T. K. Cheyne's "The Reconciliation of Races and Religions," p. 15.) 


1.5. "Karbila is about 55 miles S.W. of Baghdad on the banks of the Euphrates.... The tomb of Husayn in the centre of the city, and of his brother 'Abbas in the S.E. quarter, are the chief buildings." (C. R. Markham's "A General Sketch of the History of Persia," p. 486.) Najaf is revered by the shi'ahs, as it enshrines the tomb of Imam 'Ali.


1.6. "The chief peculiarities of Shaykh Ahmad's views seem to have been as follows. He declared that all knowledge and all sciences were contained in the Qur'an, and that therefore to understand the inner meanings of the latter in their entirety, a knowledge of the former must be acquired. To develop this doctrine, he used to apply cabbalistic methods of interpretation to the sacred text, and exerted himself to acquire familiarity with the various sciences known to the Muslim world. He entertained the most exaggerated veneration for the Imams, especially the Imam Ja'far-i-Sadiq, the sixth of them in succession, whose words he would often quote.... About the future life, and the resurrection of the body also, he held views which were generally considered to be heterodox, as previously mentioned. He declared that the body of man was composed of different portions, derived from each of the four elements and the nine heavens, and that the body wherewith he was raised in the resurrection contained only the latter components, the former returning at death to their original sources. This subtle body, which alone escaped destruction, he called Jism-i-Huriqliya, the latter being supposed to be a Greek word. He asserted that it existed potentially in our present bodies, 'like glass in stone.' Similarly he asserted that, in the case of the Night-ascent of the Prophet to Heaven, it was this, and not his material body, which performed the journey. On account of these views, he was pronounced unorthodox by the majority of the ulamas, and accused of holding the doctrines of Mulla Sadra, the greatest Persian philosopher of modern times." (Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1889, article 12, pp. 890-91.)


1.7. In the ninth century the remains of the Imam Rida, son of the Imam Musa and eighth of the twelve Imams, were interred in Mashhad. 


1.8. "In the country of Fars, there is a Mosque in the center of which rises a structure similar to the Ka'bih, (Masjid-i-Jum'ih). It was built only as a sign indicating the Manifestation of the Will of God through the erection of the house in that land. [Allusion to the new Mecca, i.e. the house of the Bab in Shiraz.] Blessed be he who worships God in that land; truly we, too, worshipped God there, and prayed for him who had erected that building." ("Le Bayan Persan," vol. 2, p. 151.)


1.9. A. L. M. Nicolas, in Chapter 5 of his book, "Essai sur le Shaykhisme," gives a list of no less than ninety-six volumes as representing the entire literary output of this prolific writer. Among them, the more important are the following:

1. Commentary on the Ziyaratu'l Jami'atu'l-Kabirih of Shaykh Hadi.

2. Commentary on the verse "Qu'l Huvallah-u-Ahad."

3. Risaliy-i-Khaqaniyyih, in answer to Fath-'Ali Shah's question regarding the superiority of the Qa'im over His ancestors.

4. On dreams.

5. Answer to Shaykh Musay-i-Bahrayni regarding the position and claims of the Sahibu'z-Zaman.

6. Answer to the Sufis.

7. Answer to Mulla Mihdiy-i-Astirabadi on the knowledge of the soul.

8. On the joys and pains of the future life.

9. Answer to Mulla 'Ali-Akbar on the best road to the attainment of God.

10. On the Resurrection. 


1.10. "The news of his arrival caused a great stir and certain Ulamas among the most celebrated received him with reverence. They accorded him great consideration and the inhabitants of the town did likewise. All of the Ulamas came to see him. It was well known that he was the most learned among the most learned." (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Essai sur le Shaykhisme," p. 18.) 


1.11. A. L. M. Nicolas, in his book "Essai sur le Shaykhisme," pp. 19-20, refers to a second letter addressed by the Shah to Shaykh Ahmad: "The Shah, forewarned, wrote again telling him that evidently it was his duty, his, the King's, to go out of his way to come to Yazd to see the illustrious and holy person whose feet were a blessing to the province upon whose soil they had trodden, but because of political reasons of high importance he could not, at this moment, leave the capital. Besides it was necessary, he said, in case of change of residence, to bring with him a force of at least ten thousand men, and, as the town of Yazd was too small to support such a large population, the arrival of so many troops would most certainly occasion a famine. 'You would not wish such a calamity to occur, I am quite certain, and I think therefore that, although I am of very small importance compared to you, you will consent, nevertheless to come to me.'"


1.12. "God is Most Great." 


1.13. October 20, 1819 A.D.


1.14. November 12, 1817 A.D. 


1.15. 1857-8 A.D. 


1.16. "His [Siyyid Kazim's] family were merchants of repute. His father was named Aqa Siyyid Qasim. When twelve years old, he was living at Ardibil near the tomb of Shaykh Safi'u'd-Din Ishaq, the descendant of the seventh Imam Musa Kazim and the ancestor of the Safavi kings. One night in a dream it was signified to him by one of the illustrious progenitors of the buried saint that he should put himself under the spiritual guidance of Shaykh Ahmad-i-Ahsa'i, who was at this time residing at Yazd. He accordingly proceeded thither and enrolled himself amongst the disciples of Shaykh Ahmad, in whose doctrine he attained such eminence that on the Shaykh's death he was unanimously recognised as the leader of the Shaykhi school." ("A Traveller's Narrative," Note E, p. 238.)


1.17. 1815-16 A.D.


1.18. "The Shah felt his good will and respect for the Shaykh grow increasingly from day to day. He felt obliged to obey him and would have considered it an act of blasphemy to oppose him. However, at this time, a succession of earthquakes occurred in Rayy and many were destroyed. "The Shah had a dream in which it was revealed to him that, if Shaykh Ahmad had not been there, the entire city would have been destroyed and all the inhabitants killed. He awakened terrified and his faith in the Shaykh grew apace." (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Essai sur le Shaykhisme," I, p. 21.) 


1.19. Mirza Abu'l-Fadl asserts in his writings that the genealogy of Baha'u'llah can be traced back to the ancient Prophets of Persia as well as to its kings who ruled over the land prior to the Arab invasion. 


1.20. His name was Mirza Husayn-'Ali.


1.21. November 12, 1817 A.D. 


1.22. "Kirmanshah awaited him with great impatience. The Prince Governor Muhammad-'Ali Mirza had sent the entire town to meet him and they had erected tents in which to receive him at Chah-Qilan. The Prince went even beyond to the Taj-Abad which lies four farsakhs distant from the town." (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Essai sur le Shaykhisme," I, p. 30.)


1.23. 1237. A.H. 


1.24. "The Prince of Martyrs."


1.25. A. L. M. Nicolas, in his preface to "Essai sur le Shaykhisme," I, quotes the following as having been spoken by Shaykh Ahmad regarding Siyyid Kazim: "There is only Siyyid Kazim-i-Rashti who understands my objective and no one but him understands it.... Seek the science after me from Siyyid Kazim-i-Rashti who has acquired it directly from me, who learned it from the Imams, who learned it from the Prophet to whom God had given it.... He is the only one who understands me!"


1.26. "The Ascent" of Muhammad to Heaven. 


1.27. The Bab, Himself, refers to this passage and confirms it in the "Dala'il-i-Sab'ih": "The words of the revered Shaykh Ahmad-i-Ahsa'i are well known. They contain numerous allusions to the subject of the Manifestation. For example, he has written with his own hand to Siyyid Kazim-i-Rashti: 'Just as it is necessary in order to build a house to have suitable ground, so also for this Manifestation must the moment be propitious. But here one cannot give an answer clearly foretelling the moment. Soon we shall know it with certainty.' That which you have heard so often yourself from Siyyid Kazim, is not that an explanation? Did he not reiterate every minute—'You do not wish then that I should go away so that God may appear?'" ("The Book of the Seven Proofs," translated by A. L. M. Nicolas, p. 58.) "There is also the anecdote referring to Shaykh Ahmad-i-Ahsa'i on his way to Mecca. It has been proven that this anecdote is authentic and hence there is something which is certain. The disciples of the deceased have related the sayings which they have heard and also certain personages were mentioned such as Mulla 'Abdu'l-Khaliq and Murtada-Quli. Mulla 'Abdu'l-Khaliq relates that the Shaykh said to them one day: 'Pray that you may not be present at the beginning of the Manifestation and of the Return, as there will be many civil wars.' He added: 'If any one of you should still be living at that time, he shall see strange things between the years sixty and sixty-seven. And what strange thing can be more strange than the very Being of the Manifestation? You will be there and you will witness another extraordinary event; that is to say, God, in order to bring about the victory of the Manifestation, will raise up a Being who will speak his own thoughts without ever having been instructed by anyone.'" (Ibid., pp. 59-60.)


1.28. According to the Abjad notation, the numerical value of the word "Hin" is 68. It was in the year 1268 A.H. that Baha'u'llah, while confined in the Siyah-Chal of Tihran, received the first intimations of His Divine Mission. Of this He hinted in the odes which He revealed in that year. 


1.29. He died in a place called Haddih, in the neighbourhood of Medina. (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Essai sur le Shaykhisme," I, p. 60.) 


1.30. "His body was carried to Medina where it was buried in the Cemetery Baqi, behind the walls of the cupola of the Prophet, on the south side, under the drain spout of Mihrab. They say that there also is to be found the tomb of Fatimih facing that of Baytu'l-Hazan." (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Essai sur le Shaykhisme," I, pp. 60-61.) "The death of Shaykh Ahmad put an end for a few days to the conflict, and the anger seemed appeased. Moreover it was at this time that Islam received a terrible blow and that its power was broken. The Russian Emperor defeated the Moslem nations and most of the provinces, inhabited by the Moslem peoples, fell into the hands of the Russian armies." (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Essai sur le Shaykhisme," II, p. 5.) "On the other hand, it was thought that Shaykh Ahmad being now dead, his doctrine would definitely disappear with him. Peace lasted for nearly two years; but the Muhammadans returned quickly to their former sentiments as soon as they saw that the light of the doctrine of the deceased still radiated over the world, thanks to Siyyid Kazim-i-Rashti, the best, the most faithful disciple of Shaykh Ahmad, and his successor." (Ibid., pp. 5-6.)



CHAPTER II

THE MISSION OF SIYYID KAZIM-I-RASHTI


[19] The news of the passing of his beloved master brought unspeakable sorrow to the heart of Siyyid Kazim. Inspired by the verse of the Qur'an, "Fain would they put out God's light with their mouths; but God only desireth to perfect His light, albeit the infidels abhor it," he arose with unswerving purpose to consummate the task with which Shaykh Ahmad had entrusted him. He found himself, after the removal of so distinguished a protector, a victim of the slanderous tongue and unrelenting enmity of the people around him. They attacked his person, scorned his teachings, and reviled his name. At the instigation of a powerful and notorious shi'ah leader, Siyyid Ibrahim-i-Qazvini, the enemies of Siyyid Kazim leagued together, and determined to destroy him. Thereupon Siyyid Kazim conceived the plan of securing the support and good will of one of the most formidable and outstanding ecclesiastical dignitaries of Persia, the renowned Haji Siyyid Muhammad Baqir-i-Rashti, who lived in Isfahan and whose authority extended far beyond the confines of that city. This friendship and sympathy, Siyyid Kazim thought, would enable him to pursue untrammelled the course of his activities, and would considerably enhance the influence which he exercised over his disciples. "Would that one amongst you," he was often heard to say to his followers, "could arise, and, with complete detachment, journey to Isfahan, and deliver this message from me to that learned Siyyid: 'Why is it that in the beginning you showed such marked consideration and affection for the late Shaykh Ahmad, and have now suddenly detached yourself from the body of his chosen disciples? Why is it that you have abandoned us to the mercy of our opponents?' Would that such a messenger, putting his trust in God, might arise to unravel whatever mysteries perplex the mind of that learned Siyyid, and dispel such doubts as might have alienated [20] his sympathy. Would that he were able to obtain from him a solemn declaration testifying to the unquestioned authority of Shaykh Ahmad, and to the truth and soundness of his teachings. Would that he also, after having secured such a testimony, might visit Mashhad and there obtain a similar pronouncement from Mirza 'Askari, the foremost ecclesiastical leader in that holy city, and then, having completed his mission, might return in triumph to this place." Again and again did Siyyid Kazim find opportunity to reiterate his appeal. None, however, ventured to respond to his call except a certain Mirza Muhit-i-Kirmani, who expressed readiness to undertake this mission. To him Siyyid Kazim replied: "Beware of touching the lion's tail. Belittle not the delicacy and difficulty of such a mission." He then, turning his face towards his youthful disciple, Mulla Husayn-i-Bushru'i, the Babu'l-Bab,1 addressed him in these words: "Arise and perform this mission, for I declare you equal to this task. The Almighty will graciously assist you, and will crown your endeavours with success."


Mulla Husayn joyously sprang to his feet, kissed the hem of his teacher's garment, vowed his loyalty to him, and started forthwith on his journey. With complete severance and noble resolve, he set out to achieve his end. Arriving in Isfahan, he sought immediately the presence of the learned Siyyid. Clad in mean attire, and laden with the dust of travel, he appeared, amidst the vast and richly apparelled company of the disciples of that distinguished leader, an insignificant and negligible figure. Unobserved and undaunted, he advanced to a place which faced the seat occupied by that renowned teacher. Summoning to his aid all the courage and confidence with which the instructions of Siyyid Kazim had inspired him, he addressed Haji Siyyid Muhammad-Baqir in these words: "Hearken, O Siyyid, to my words, for response to my plea will ensure the safety of the Faith of the Prophet of God, and refusal to consider my message will cause it grievous injury." These bold and courageous words, uttered with directness and force, produced a surprising impression upon the Siyyid. He suddenly interrupted his discourse, and, ignoring his audience, listened with close attention [21] to the message which this strange visitor had brought. His disciples, amazed at this extraordinary behaviour, rebuked this sudden intruder and denounced his presumptuous pretensions. With extreme politeness, in firm and dignified language, Mulla Husayn hinted at their discourtesy and shallowness, and expressed surprise at their arrogance and vainglory. The Siyyid was highly pleased with the demeanour and argument which the visitor so strikingly displayed. He deplored and apologised for the unseemly conduct of his own disciples. In order to compensate for their ingratitude, he extended every conceivable kindness to that youth, assured him of his support, and besought him to deliver his message. Thereupon, Mulla Husayn acquainted him with the nature and object of the mission with which he had been entrusted. To this the learned Siyyid replied: "As we in the beginning believed that both Shaykh Ahmad and Siyyid Kazim were actuated by no desire except to advance the cause of knowledge and safeguard the sacred interests of the Faith, we felt prompted to extend to them our heartiest support and to extol their teachings. In later years, however, we have noticed so many conflicting statements and obscure and mysterious allusions in their writings, that we felt it advisable to keep silent for a time, and to refrain from either censure or applause." To this Mulla Husayn replied: "I cannot but deplore such silence on your part, for I firmly believe that it involves the loss of a splendid opportunity to advance the cause of Truth. It is for you to set forth specifically such passages in their writings as appear to you mysterious or inconsistent with the precepts of the Faith, and I will, with the aid of God, undertake to expound their true meaning." The poise, the dignity and confidence, which characterised the behaviour of this unexpected messenger, greatly impressed Haji Siyyid Muhammad-Baqir. He begged him not to press the matter at this moment, but to wait until a later day, when, in private converse, he might acquaint him with his own doubts and misgivings. Mulla Husayn, however, feeling that delay might prove harmful to the cause he had at heart, insisted upon an immediate conference with him about the weighty problems which he felt impelled and able to resolve. The Siyyid was moved to tears by the youthful enthusiasm, [22] the sincerity and serene confidence to which the countenance of Mulla Husayn so admirably testified. He sent immediately for some of the works written by Shaykh Ahmad and Siyyid Kazim, and began to question Mulla Husayn regarding those passages which had excited his disapproval and surprise. To each reference the messenger replied with characteristic vigour, with masterly knowledge and befitting modesty.


He continued in this manner, in the presence of the assembled disciples, to expound the teachings of Shaykh Ahmad and Siyyid Kazim, to vindicate their truth, and to defend their cause, until the time when the Mu'adhdhin, calling the faithful to prayer, suddenly interrupted the flow of his argument. The next day, he similarly, in the presence of a large and representative assembly, and whilst facing the Siyyid, resumed his eloquent defence of the high mission entrusted by an almighty Providence to Shaykh Ahmad and his successor. A deep silence fell upon his hearers. They were seized with wonder at the cogency of his argument and the tone and manner of his speech. The Siyyid publicly promised that on the following day he would himself issue a written declaration wherein he would testify to the eminence of the position held by both Shaykh Ahmad and Siyyid Kazim, and would pronounce whosoever deviated from their path as one who had turned aside from the Faith of the Prophet Himself. He would likewise bear witness to their penetrative insight, and their correct and profound understanding of the mysteries which the Faith of Muhammad enshrined. The Siyyid redeemed his pledge, and with his own hand penned the promised declaration. He wrote at length, and in the course of his testimony paid a tribute to the character and learning of Mulla Husayn. He spoke in glowing terms of Siyyid Kazim, apologised for his former attitude, and expressed the hope that in the days to come he might be enabled to make amends for his past and regrettable conduct towards him. He read, himself, to his disciples the text of this written testimony, and delivered it unsealed to Mulla Husayn, authorising him to share its contents with whomsoever he pleased, that all might know the extent of his devotion to Siyyid Kazim.


No sooner had Mulla Husayn retired than the Siyyid charged one of his trusted attendants to follow in the footsteps [23] of the visitor and find out the place where he was residing. The attendant followed him to a modest building, which served as a madrisih,2 and saw him enter a room which, except for a worn-out mat which covered its floor, was devoid of furniture. He watched him arrive, offer his prayer of thanksgiving to God, and lie down upon that mat with nothing to cover him except his aba.3 Having reported to his master all that he had observed, the attendant was again instructed to deliver to Mulla Husayn the sum of a hundred tumans,4 and to express the sincere apologies of his master for his inability to extend to so remarkable a messenger a hospitality that befitted his station. To this offer Mulla Husayn sent the following reply: "Tell your master that his real gift to me is the spirit of fairness with which he received me, and the open-mindedness which prompted him, despite his exalted rank, to respond to the message which I, a lowly stranger, brought him. Return this money to your master, for I, as a messenger, ask for neither recompense nor reward. 'We nourish your souls for the sake of God; we seek from you neither recompense nor thanks.'6 My prayer for your master is that earthly leadership may never hinder him from acknowledging and testifying to the Truth."5 Haji Siyyid Muhammad-Baqir died before the year sixty A.H., the year that witnessed the birth of the Faith proclaimed by the Bab. [24] He remained to his last moment a staunch supporter and fervent admirer of Siyyid Kazim.


Having fulfilled the first part of his mission, Mulla Husayn despatched this written testimony of Haji Siyyid Muhammad-Baqir to his master in Karbila, and directed his steps towards Mashhad, determined to deliver, to the best of his ability, the message which he was charged to give to Mirza 'Askari. Immediately the letter, enclosing the Siyyid's written declaration, was delivered to Siyyid Kazim, the latter was so rejoiced that he forthwith sent to Mulla Husayn his reply, expressing his grateful appreciation of the exemplary manner in which he had discharged his trust. He was so delighted with the answer he had received that, interrupting the course of his lecture, he read out, to his disciples, both the letter of Mulla Husayn and the written testimony enclosed in that letter. He afterwards shared with them the epistle which he himself had written to Mulla Husayn in recognition of the remarkable service he had rendered him. In it Siyyid Kazim paid such a glowing tribute to his high attainments, to his ability and character that a few among those who heard it suspected that Mulla Husayn was that promised One to whom their master unceasingly referred, the One whom he so often declared to be living in their very midst and yet to have remained unrecognised by them all. That communication enjoined upon Mulla Husayn the fear of God, urged him to regard it as the most potent instrument with which to withstand the onslaught of the enemy, and the distinguishing feature of every true follower of the Faith. It was couched in such terms of tender affection, that no one who read it could doubt that the writer was bidding farewell to his beloved disciple, and that he entertained no hope of ever meeting him again in this world.


In those days Siyyid Kazim became increasingly aware of the approach of the Hour at which the promised One was to be revealed.7 He realised how dense were those veils that [25] hindered the seekers from apprehending the glory of the concealed Manifestation. He accordingly exerted his utmost endeavour to remove gradually, with caution and wisdom, whatever barriers might stand in the way of the full recognition of that Hidden Treasure of God. He repeatedly urged his disciples to bear in mind the fact that He whose advent they were expecting would appear neither from Jabulqa nor from Jabulsa.8 He even hinted at His presence in their very midst. "You behold Him with your own eyes," he often observed, "and yet recognise Him not!" To his disciples who questioned him regarding the signs of the Manifestation, he would say: "He is of noble lineage. He is a descendant of the Prophet of God, of the family of Hashim. He is young in age, and is possessed of innate knowledge. His learning is derived, not from the teachings of Shaykh Ahmad, but from God. My knowledge is but a drop compared with the immensity of His knowledge; my attainments a speck of dust in the face of the wonders of His grace and power. Nay, immeasurable is the difference. He is of medium height, abstains from smoking, and is of extreme devoutness and piety."9 Certain of the Siyyid's disciples, despite the testimonies of their master, believed him to be the promised One, for in him they recognised the signs to which he was alluding. Among them was a certain Mulla Mihdiy-i-Khu'i, who went so far as to make public this belief. Whereupon the Siyyid was sore displeased, and would have cast him out from the company of his chosen followers had he not begged forgiveness and expressed his repentance for his action.


Shaykh Hasan-i-Zunuzi, himself, informed me that he too entertained such doubts, that he prayed to God that if his supposition was well founded he should be confirmed in his belief, and if not that he should be delivered from such idle fancy. "I was so perturbed," he once related to me, "that for days I could neither eat nor sleep. My days were spent in the service of Siyyid Kazim, to whom I was greatly attached. One day, at the hour of dawn, I was suddenly [26] awakened by Mulla Naw-ruz, one of his intimate attendants, who, in great excitement, bade me arise and follow him. We went to the house of Siyyid Kazim, where we found him fully dressed, wearing his aba, and ready to leave his home. He asked me to accompany him. 'A highly esteemed and distinguished Person,' he said, 'has arrived. I feel it incumbent upon us both to visit Him.' The morning light had just broken when I found myself walking with him through the streets of Karbila. We soon reached a house, at the door


of which stood a Youth, as if expectant to receive us. He wore a green turban, and His countenance revealed an expression of humility and kindliness which I can never describe. He quietly approached us, extended His arms towards Siyyid Kazim, and lovingly embraced him. His affability and loving-kindness singularly contrasted with the sense of profound reverence that characterised the attitude of Siyyid Kazim towards him. Speechless and with bowed head, he received the many expressions of affection and esteem with which that Youth greeted him. We were soon led by Him to the upper floor of that house, and entered a chamber bedecked with flowers and redolent of the loveliest perfume. He bade us [27] be seated. We knew not, however, what seats we actually occupied, so overpowering was the sense of delight which seized us. We observed a silver cup which had been placed in the centre of the room, which our youthful Host, soon after we were seated, filled to overflowing, and handed to Siyyid Kazim, saying: 'A drink of a pure beverage shall their Lord give them.'10 Siyyid Kazim held the cup with both hands and quaffed it. A feeling of reverent joy filled his being, a feeling which he could not suppress. I too was presented with a cupful of that beverage, though no words were addressed to me. All that was spoken at that memorable gathering was the above-mentioned verse of the Qur'an. Soon after, the Host arose from His seat and, accompanying us to the threshold of the house, bade us farewell. I was mute with wonder, and knew not how to express the cordiality of His welcome, the dignity of His bearing, the charm of that face, and the delicious fragrance of that beverage. How great was my amazement when I saw my teacher quaff without the least hesitation that holy draught from a silver cup, the use of which, according to the precepts of Islam, is forbidden to the faithful. I could not explain the motive which could have induced the Siyyid to manifest such profound reverence in the presence of that Youth—a reverence which even the sight of the shrine of the Siyyidu'sh-Shuhada' had failed to excite. Three days later, I saw that same Youth arrive and take His seat in the midst of the company of the assembled disciples of Siyyid Kazim. He sat close to the threshold, and with the same modesty and dignity of bearing listened to the discourse of the Siyyid. As soon as his eyes fell upon that Youth, the Siyyid discontinued his address and held his peace. Whereupon one of his disciples begged him to resume the argument which he had left unfinished. 'What more shall I say?' replied Siyyid Kazim, as he turned his face toward the Bab. 'Lo, the Truth is more manifest than the ray of light that has fallen upon that lap!' I immediately observed that the ray to which the Siyyid referred had fallen upon the lap of that same Youth whom we had recently visited. 'Why is it,' that questioner enquired, 'that you neither reveal His name nor identify His [28] person?' To this the Siyyid replied by pointing with his finger to his own throat, implying that were he to divulge His name, they both would be put to death instantly. This added still further to my perplexity. I had already heard my teacher observe that so great is the perversity of this generation,


that were he to point with his finger to the promised One and say: 'He indeed is the Beloved, the Desire of your hearts and mine,' they would still fail to recognise and acknowledge Him. I saw the Siyyid actually point out with his finger the ray of light that had fallen on that lap, and yet none among those who were present seemed to apprehend [29] its meaning. I, for my part, was convinced that the Siyyid himself could never be the promised One, but that a mystery inscrutable to us all, lay concealed in that strange and attractive Youth. Several times I ventured to approach Siyyid Kazim and seek from him an elucidation of this mystery. 


Every time I approached him, I was overcome by a sense of awe which his personality so powerfully inspired. Many a time I heard him remark: 'O Shaykh Hasan, rejoice that your name is Hasan [praiseworthy]; Hasan your beginning, and Hasan your end. You have been privileged to attain to the day of Shaykh Ahmad, you have been closely associated [30] with me, and in the days to come yours shall be the inestimable joy of beholding "what eye hath seen not, ear heard not, nor any heart conceived."'


"I often felt the urge to seek alone the presence of that Hashimite Youth and to endeavour to fathom His mystery. I watched Him several times as He stood in an attitude of prayer at the doorway of the shrine of the Imam Husayn. So wrapt was He in His devotions that He seemed utterly oblivious of those around Him. Tears rained from His eyes, and from His lips fell words of glorification and praise of such power and beauty as even the noblest passages of our sacred Scriptures could not hope to surpass. The words 'O God, my God, my Beloved, my heart's Desire' were uttered with a frequency and ardour that those of the visiting pilgrims who were near enough to hear Him instinctively interrupted the course of their devotions, and marvelled at the evidences of piety and veneration which that youthful countenance evinced. Like Him they were moved to tears, and from Him they learned the lesson of true adoration. Having completed His prayers, that Youth, without crossing the threshold of the shrine and without attempting to address any words to those around Him, would quietly return to His home. I felt the impulse to address Him, but every time I ventured an approach, a force that I could neither explain nor resist, detained me. My enquiries about Him elicited the information that He was a resident of Shiraz, that He was a merchant by profession, and did not belong to any of the ecclesiastical orders. I was, moreover, informed that He, and also His uncles and relatives, were among the lovers and admirers of Shaykh Ahmad and Siyyid Kazim. Soon after, I learned that He had departed for Najaf on His way to Shiraz. That Youth had set my heart aflame. The memory of that vision haunted me. My soul was wedded to His till the day when the call of a Youth from Shiraz, proclaiming Himself to be the Bab, reached my ears. The thought instantly flashed through my mind that such a person could be none other than that selfsame Youth whom I had seen in Karbila, the Youth of my heart's desire.


"When later on I journeyed from Karbila to Shiraz, I found that He had set out on a pilgrimage to Mecca and [31] Medina. I met Him on His return and endeavoured, despite the many obstacles in my way, to remain in close association with Him. When subsequently He was incarcerated in the fortress of Mah-Ku, in the province of Adhirbayjan, I was engaged in transcribing the verses which He dictated to His amanuensis. Every night, for a period of nine months, during which He was a prisoner in that fort, He revealed, after He had offered His evening prayer, a commentary on a juz'11 of the Qur'an. At the end of each month a commentary on the whole of that sacred Book was thus completed. During His incarceration in Mah-Ku, nine commentaries on the whole of the Qur'an had been revealed by Him. The texts of these commentaries were entrusted, in Tabriz, to the keeping of a certain Siyyid Ibrahim-i-Khalil, who was instructed to conceal them until the time for their publication might arrive. Their fate is unknown until now.


"In connection with one of these commentaries, the Bab one day asked me: 'Which do you prefer, this commentary which I have revealed, or the Ahsanu'l-Qisas, My previous commentary on the Surih of Joseph? Which of the two is superior, in your estimation?' 'To me,' I replied, 'the Ahsanu'l-Qisas seems to be endowed with greater power and charm.' He smiled at my observation and said: 'You are as yet unfamiliar with the tone and tenor of this later commentary. The truths enshrined in this will more speedily and effectively enable the seeker to attain the object of his quest.'


"I continued to be closely associated with Him until that great encounter of Shaykh Tabarsi. When informed of that event, the Bab directed all His companions to hasten to that spot, and extend every assistance in their power to Quddus, His heroic and distinguished disciple. Addressing me one day, He said: 'But for My incarceration in the Jabal-i-Shadid, the fortress of Chihriq, it would have been incumbent upon Me to lend My personal assistance to My beloved Quddus. Participation in that struggle is not enjoined upon you. You should proceed to Karbila and should abide in that holy city, inasmuch as you are destined to behold, with your own eyes, the beauteous countenance of the promised Husayn. As you gaze upon that radiant face, do also remember [32] Me. Convey to Him the expression of My loving devotion.' He again emphatically added these words: 'Verily I say, I have entrusted you with a great mission. Beware lest your heart grow faint, lest you forget the glory with which I have invested you.'


"Soon after, I journeyed to Karbila and lived, as bidden, in that holy city. Fearing that my prolonged stay in that centre of pilgrimage might excite suspicion, I decided to marry. I started to earn my livelihood as a scribe. What afflictions befell me at the hands of the Shaykhis, those who professed to be the followers of Shaykh Ahmad and yet failed to recognise the Bab! Mindful of the counsels of that beloved Youth, I patiently submitted to the indignities inflicted upon me. For two years I lived in that city. Meanwhile that holy Youth was released from His earthly prison and, through His martyrdom, was delivered from the atrocious cruelties that had beset the closing years of His life.


"Sixteen lunar months, less twenty and two days, had elapsed since the day of the martyrdom of the Bab, when, on the day of 'Arafih,12 in the year 1267 A.H.,13 while I was passing by the gate of the inner courtyard of the shrine of the Imam Husayn, my eyes, for the first time, fell upon Baha'u'llah. What shall I recount regarding the countenance which I beheld! The beauty of that face, those exquisite features which no pen or brush dare describe, His penetrating glance, His kindly face, the majesty of His bearing, the sweetness of His smile, the luxuriance of His jet-black flowing locks, left an indelible impression upon my soul. I was then an old man, bowed with age. How lovingly He advanced towards me! He took me by the hand and, in a tone which at once betrayed power and beauty, addressed me in these words: 'This very day I have purposed to make you known as a Babi throughout Karbila.' Still holding my hand in His, He continued to converse with me. He walked with me all along the market-street, and in the end He said: 'Praise be to God that you have remained in Karbila, and have beheld with your own eyes the countenance of the promised Husayn.' I recalled instantly the promise which had been given me by [33] the Bab. His words, which I had regarded as referring to a remote future, I had not shared with anyone. These words of Baha'u'llah moved me to the depths of my being. I felt impelled to proclaim to a heedless people, at that very moment and with all my soul and power, the advent of the promised Husayn. He bade me, however, repress my feelings and conceal my emotions. 'Not yet,' He breathed into my ears; 'the appointed Hour is approaching. It has not yet struck. Rest assured and be patient.' From that moment all my sorrows vanished. My soul was flooded with joy. In those days I was so poor that most of the time I hungered for food. I felt so rich, however, that all the treasures of the earth melted away into nothingness when compared with that which I already possessed. 'Such is the grace of God; to whom He will, He giveth it: He, verily, is of immense bounty.'"


I now return, after this digression, to my theme. I had been referring to the eagerness with which Siyyid Kazim had determined to rend asunder those veils which intervened between the people of his day and the recognition of the promised Manifestation. In the introductory pages of his works, entitled Sharh-i-Qasidih and Sharh-i-Khutbih,14 he, in veiled language, alludes to the blessed name of Baha'u'llah. In a booklet, the last he wrote, he explicitly mentions the name of the Bab by his reference to the term "Dhikru'llah-i-A'zam." In it he writes: "Addressing this noble 'Dhikr,'15 this mighty voice of God, I say: 'I am apprehensive of the people, lest they harm you. I am apprehensive of my own self, lest I too may hurt you. I fear you, I tremble at your authority, I dread the age in which you live. Were I to treasure you [34] as the apple of my eye until the Day of Resurrection, I would not sufficiently have proved my devotion to you.'"16


How grievously Siyyid Kazim suffered at the hands of the people of wickedness! What harm that villainous generation inflicted upon him! For years he suffered silently, and endured with heroic patience all the indignities, the calumnies, the denunciations that were heaped upon him. He was destined, however, to witness, during the last years of his life, how the avenging hand of God "destroyed with utter destruction" those that opposed, vilified, and plotted against him. In those days the followers of Siyyid Ibrahim, that notorious enemy of Siyyid Kazim, banded themselves together for the purpose of stirring up sedition and mischief and endangering the life of their formidable adversary. By every means at their disposal, they sought to poison the minds of his admirers and friends, to undermine his authority, and to discredit his name. No voice was raised in protest against the agitation that was being sedulously prepared by that ungodly and treacherous people, each of whom professed to be the exponent of true learning and the repository of the mysteries of the [35] Faith of God. No one sought to warn or awaken them. They gathered such force and kindled such strife that they succeeded in evicting from Karbila, in a disgraceful manner, the representative official of the Ottoman government, and appropriated for their own sordid aims whatever revenues accrued to him. Their menacing attitude aroused the central government at Constantinople, which despatched a military official to the scene of agitation, with full instructions to quench the fires of mischief. With the force at his command, that official besieged the city, and despatched a communication to Siyyid Kazim in which he entreated him to pacify the minds of the excited populace. He appealed to him to counsel moderation to its inhabitants, to induce them to relax their stubbornness, and to surrender voluntarily to his rule. Were they to heed his counsels, he promised that he would undertake to ensure their safety and protection, would proclaim a general amnesty, and would strive to promote their welfare. If they refused, however, to submit, he warned them that their lives would be in danger, that a great calamity would surely befall them.


Upon the receipt of this formal communication, Siyyid Kazim summoned to his presence the chief instigators of the movement, and, with the utmost wisdom and affection, exhorted them to cease their agitation and surrender their arms. He spoke with such persuasive eloquence, such sincerity and detachment, that their hearts were softened and their resistance was subdued. They solemnly undertook to throw open, the next morning, the gates of the citadel and to present themselves, in the company of Siyyid Kazim, to the officer in command of the besieging forces. It was agreed that the Siyyid would intervene in their behalf, and secure for them whatever would ensure their tranquillity and welfare. No sooner had they left the presence of the Siyyid than the ulamas, the chief instigators of the rebellion, unanimously arose to frustrate this plan. Fully aware that such intervention on the part of the Siyyid, who had already excited their envy, would serve to enhance his prestige and consolidate his authority, they determined to persuade a number among the foolish and excitable elements of the population to sally forth at night and attack the forces of the enemy. They assured [36] them of victory on the strength of a dream in which one of their members had seen 'Abbas,17 who had charged him to incite his followers to wage holy war against the besiegers and had given him the promise of ultimate success.


Deluded by this vain promise, they rejected the advice tendered by that wise and judicious counsellor, and arose to execute the designs of their foolish leaders. Siyyid Kazim, who was well aware of the evil influence that actuated that revolt, addressed a detailed and faithful report on the situation to the Turkish commander, who again wrote to Siyyid Kazim and reiterated his appeal for a peaceful settlement of the issue. He, moreover, declared that at a given time he would force the gates of the citadel, and would regard the home of the Siyyid as the only place of refuge for a defeated enemy. This declaration the Siyyid caused to be spread throughout the city. It served only to excite the derision and contempt of the population. When informed of the reception accorded that declaration, the Siyyid remarked: "Verily, that with which they are threatened is for the morning. Is not the morning near?"18


At daybreak, the appointed hour, the forces of the enemy bombarded the ramparts of the citadel, demolished its walls, entered the city, and pillaged and massacred a considerable number of its population. Many fled in consternation to the courtyard of the shrine of the Imam Husayn. Others sought refuge in the sanctuary of 'Abbas. Those who loved and honoured Siyyid Kazim betook themselves to his home. So great was the crowd that hastened to the shelter of his residence, that it was found necessary to appropriate a number of the adjoining houses in order to accommodate the multitude of refugees who pressed at his doors. So vast and excited was the concourse that thronged his house, that when once the tumult had subsided, it was ascertained that no less than twenty-two persons had been trampled to death.


What consternation seized the residents and visitors of the holy city! With what severity did the victors treat their terrified enemy! With what audacity they ignored those sacred rights and prerogatives with which the piety of countless Muslim pilgrims had invested the holy sites of Karbila! [37] They refused to recognise alike the shrine of the Imam Husayn and the sacred mausoleum of 'Abbas as inviolable sanctuaries for the thousands who fled before the avenging wrath of an alien people. The hallowed precincts of both these shrines ran with the blood of the victims. One place, and only one, could assert its right of sanctuary to the innocent and faithful among the population. That place was the residence of Siyyid Kazim. His house, with its dependencies, was regarded as being endowed with such sanctity as even the most hallowed shrine of shi'ah Islam had failed to retain. That strange manifestation of the avenging wrath of God was an object lesson to those who were inclined to belittle the station of that holy man. That memorable event19 happened on the eighth of Dhi'l-Hijjih in the year 1258 A.H.20


It is admittedly evident that in every age and dispensation those whose mission it is either to proclaim the Truth or to prepare the way for its acceptance, have invariably been opposed by a number of powerful adversaries, who challenged their authority and attempted to pervert their teachings. These have, either by fraud or pretence, calumny or oppression, succeeded for a time in beguiling the uninformed and in [38] misleading the feeble. Desirous of maintaining their hold over the thoughts and consciences of men, they have, so long as the Faith of God remained concealed, been able to enjoy the fruits of a fleeting and precarious ascendancy. No sooner was the Faith proclaimed, however, than they found, to their utter dismay, the effects of their dark plottings pale before the dawning light of the new Day of God. Before the fierce rays of that rising Orb all their machinations and evil deeds faded into nothingness and were soon a thing forgotten.


Around Siyyid Kazim were likewise gathered a number of vain and ignoble people who feigned devotion and attachment to his person; who professed to be devout and pious, and who claimed to be the sole repositories of the mysteries enshrined in the utterances of Shaykh Ahmad and his successor. They occupied the seats of honour in the company of the assembled disciples of Siyyid Kazim. To them he addressed his discourse, and towards them he showed marked consideration and courtesy. And yet he often, in covert and subtle phrases, alluded to their blindness, their vainglory and utter inaptitude for the apprehension of the mysteries of Divine utterance. Among his allusions were the following: "None can comprehend my language except him who is begotten of me." Oftentimes he quoted this saying: "I am spellbound by the vision. I am mute with wonder, and behold the world bereft of the power of hearing. I am powerless to divulge the mystery, and find the people incapable of bearing its weight." On another occasion he remarked: "Many are those who claim to have attained union with the Beloved, and yet that Beloved refuses to acknowledge their claim. By the tears which he sheds for his loved One can the true lover be distinguished from the false." Many a time he observed: "He who is destined to be made manifest after me is of pure lineage, of illustrious descent, of the seed of Fatimih. He is of medium height, and is free from bodily deficiency."21 


[39] I have heard Shaykh Abu-Turab22 recount the following: "I, together with a number of the disciples of Siyyid Kazim, regarded the allusions to these deficiencies, from which the Siyyid declared the promised One to be free, as specifically directed toward three individuals amongst our fellow-disciples. We even designated them by such appellations as indicated their bodily defects. One of them was Haji Mirza Karim Khan,23 son of Ibrahim Khan-i-Qajar-i-Kirmani, who was both one-eyed and sparsely bearded. Another was Mirza Hasan-i-Gawhar, an exceptionally corpulent man. The third was Mirza Muhit-i-Sha'ir-i-Kirmani, who was extraordinarily lean and tall. We felt convinced that these were none other than those to whom the Siyyid constantly alluded as those vain and faithless people who would eventually reveal their real selves, and betray their ingratitude and folly. As to Haji Mirza Karim Khan, who for years sat at the feet of Siyyid Kazim and acquired from him all his so-called learning, in the end he obtained leave from his master to settle in Kirman, and there engage in the promotion of the interests of Islam and the dissemination of those traditions that clustered round the sacred memory of the Imams of the Faith.


"I was present in the library of Siyyid Kazim when, one day, an attendant of Haji Mirza Karim Khan arrived, holding a book in his hand, which he presented to the Siyyid on behalf of his master, requesting him to peruse it and to signify in his own handwriting his approval of its contents. The Siyyid read portions of that book, and returned it to the attendant with this message: 'Tell your master that he, better than anyone else, can estimate the value of his own book.' The attendant had retired when the Siyyid, with sorrowful voice, remarked: 'Accursed be he! For years he has been associated with me, and now that he intends to depart, his one aim, after so many years of study and companionship, [40] is to diffuse, through his book, such heretical and atheistic doctrines as he now wishes me to endorse. He has covenanted with a number of self-seeking hypocrites with the view of establishing himself in Kirman, and in order to assume, after my departure from this world, the reins of undisputed leadership. How grievously he erred in his judgment! For the breeze of divine Revelation, wafted from the Day-Spring of guidance, will assuredly quench his light and destroy his influence. The tree of his endeavour will eventually yield naught but the fruit of bitter disillusion and gnawing remorse. Verily I say, you shall behold this with your own eyes. My prayer for you is that you may be protected from the mischievous influence which he, the antichrist of the promised Revelation, will in future exercise.' He bade me conceal this prediction until the Day of Resurrection, the Day when the Hand of Omnipotence will have disclosed the secrets which are now hidden within the breasts of men. 'On that Day,' he exhorted me, 'arise with unswerving purpose and determination for the triumph of the Faith of God. Publish far and wide all that you have heard and witnessed.'" This same Shaykh Abu-Turab, who in the early days of the Dispensation proclaimed by the Bab thought it wiser and better not to identify himself with His Cause, cherished in his heart the fondest love for the revealed Manifestation, and in his faith remained firm and immovable as the rock. Eventually that smouldering fire blazed forth in his soul and was responsible for such behaviour on his part as to cause him to suffer imprisonment in Tihran, in the same dungeon within which Baha'u'llah was confined. He remained steadfast to the very end, and crowned a life of loving sacrifice with the glory of martyrdom.


And as the days of Siyyid Kazim drew to a close, he, whenever he met his disciples, whether in private converse or public discourse, exhorted them, saying: "O my beloved companions! Beware, beware, lest after me the world's fleeting vanities beguile you. Beware lest you wax haughty and forgetful of God. It is incumbent upon you to renounce all comfort, all earthly possessions and kindred, in your quest of Him who is the Desire of your hearts and of mine. Scatter far and wide, detach yourselves from all earthly things, and [41] humbly and prayerfully beseech your Lord to sustain and guide you. Never relax in your determination to seek and find Him who is concealed behind the veils of glory. Persevere till the time when He, who is your true Guide and Master, will graciously aid you and enable you to recognise Him. Be firm till the day when He will choose you as the


companions and the heroic supporters of the promised Qa'im. Well is it with every one of you who will quaff the cup of martyrdom in His path. Those of you whom God, in His wisdom, will preserve and keep to witness the setting of the Star of Divine guidance, that Harbinger of the Sun of Divine Revelation, must needs be patient, must remain assured and steadfast. Such ones amongst you must neither falter nor feel dismayed. For soon after the first trumpet-blast which is to smite the earth with extermination and death, there shall be sounded again yet another call, at which all things will be quickened and revived. Then will the meaning of these sacred verses be revealed: 'And there was a blast on the trumpet, and all who are in the heavens and all who are in the earth expired, save those whom God permitted to live. Then was there sounded another blast, and, lo! arising, they gazed around them. And the earth shone with the light of her Lord, and the Book was set, and the Prophets were brought up, and the witnesses; and judgment was given between them with equity; and none was wronged.'24 Verily I say, after the Qa'im the Qayyum25 will be made manifest. For [42] when the star of the Former has set, the sun of the beauty of Husayn will rise and illuminate the whole world. Then will be unfolded in all its glory the 'mystery' and the 'secret' spoken of by Shaykh Ahmad, who has said: 'The mystery of this Cause must needs be made manifest, and the secret of this Message must needs be divulged.' To have attained unto that Day of days is to have attained unto the crowning glory of past generations, and one goodly deed performed in that age is equal to the pious worship of countless centuries. How often has that venerable soul, Shaykh Ahmad, recited those verses of the Qur'an already referred to! What stress he laid upon their significance as foreshadowing the advent of those twin Revelations which are to follow each other in rapid succession, and each of which is destined to suffuse the world with all its glory! How many times did he exclaim: 'Well is it with him who will recognise their significance and behold their splendour!' How often, addressing me, did he remark: 'Neither of us shall live to gaze upon their effulgent glory. But many of the faithful among your disciples shall witness the Day which we, alas, can never hope to behold!' O my beloved companions! How great, how very great, is the Cause! How exalted the station to which I summon you! How great the mission for which I have trained and prepared you! Gird up the loins of endeavour, and fix your gaze upon His promise. I pray to God graciously to assist you to weather the storms of tests and trials which must needs beset you, to enable you to emerge, unscathed and triumphant, from their midst, and to lead you to your high destiny."


Every year, in the month of Dhi'l-Qa'dih, the Siyyid would proceed from Karbila to Kazimayn26 in order to visit the shrines of the imams. He would return to Karbila in time to visit, on the day of 'Arafih, the shrine of the Imam Husayn. In that year, the last year of his life, he, faithful to his custom, departed from Karbila in the first days of the month of Dhi'l-Qa'dih, in the year 1259 A.H.,27 accompanied by a number of his companions and friends. On the fourth day of that month he arrived at the Masjid-i-Baratha, situated [43] on the highway between Baghdad and Kazimayn, in time to offer up his noonday prayer. He bade the Muadhdhin summon the faithful to gather and pray. Standing beneath the shade of a palm which faced the masjid, he joined the congregation, and had just concluded his devotions when an Arab suddenly appeared, approached the Siyyid, and embraced him. "Three days ago," he said, "I was shepherding my flock in this adjoining pasture, when sleep suddenly


fell upon me. In my dream I saw Muhammad, the Apostle of God, who addressed me in these words: 'Give ear, O shepherd, to My words, and treasure them within your heart. For these words of Mine are the trust of God which I commit to your keeping. If you be faithful to them, great will be your reward. If you neglect them, grievous retribution will befall you. Hear Me; this is the trust with which I charge you: Stay within the precincts of the Masjid-i-Baratha. On the third day after this dream, a scion of My house, Siyyid Kazim by name, will, accompanied by his friends and companions, [44] alight, at the hour of noon, beneath the shadow of the palm in the vicinity of the masjid. There he will offer his prayer. As soon as your eyes fall upon him, seek his presence and convey to him My loving greetings. Tell him, from Me: "Rejoice, for the hour of your departure is at hand. When you shall have performed your visits in Kazimayn and shall have returned to Karbila, there, three days after your return, on the day of 'Arafih,28 you will wing your flight to Me. Soon after shall He who is the Truth be made manifest. Then 


[45] shall the world be illuminated by the light of His face."'" A smile wreathed the countenance of Siyyid Kazim upon the completion of the description of the dream related by that shepherd. He said: "Of the truth of the dream which you have dreamt there is no doubt." His companions were sorely grieved. Turning to them, he said: "Is not your love for me for the sake of that true One whose advent we all await? Would you not wish me to die, that the promised One may be revealed?" This episode, in its entirety, has been related to me by no less than ten persons, all of whom were present on that occasion, and who testified to its accuracy. And yet many of those who witnessed with their own eyes such marvellous signs have rejected the Truth and repudiated His Message!


This strange event was noised abroad. It brought sadness to the heart of the true lovers of Siyyid Kazim. To these he, with infinite tenderness and joy, addressed words of cheer and comfort. He calmed their troubled hearts, fortified their faith, and inflamed their zeal. With dignity and calm he completed his pilgrimage and returned to Karbila. The very day of his arrival he fell ill, and was confined to bed. His enemies spread the rumour that he had been poisoned by the Governor of Baghdad. This was sheer calumny and downright falsehood, inasmuch as the Governor himself had placed his unqualified confidence in Siyyid Kazim, and had always regarded him as a highly talented leader endowed with keen perception and possessed of irreproachable character.29 On the day of 'Arafih, in the year 1259 A.H., at the ripe age of sixty, Siyyid Kazim, in accordance with the vision of that lowly shepherd, bade farewell to this world, leaving behind him a band of earnest and devoted disciples who, purged of all worldly desire, set out in quest of their promised Beloved. His sacred remains were interred within the precincts of the shrine of the Imam Husayn.30 His passing raised [46] a tumult in Karbila similar to the agitation that seized its people the preceding year,31 on the eve of the day of 'Arafih, when the victorious enemy forced the gates of the citadel and massacred a considerable number of its besieged inhabitants. A year before, on that day, his house had been the one haven of peace and security for the bereaved and homeless, whereas now it had become a house of sorrow where those whom he had befriended and succoured bewailed his passing and mourned his loss.32 


FOOTNOTES


2.1. He was the first to believe in the Bab, who gave him this title.


2.2. "The Madrisih or Persian colleges are entirely in the hands of the clergy and there are several in every large town. They generally consist of a court, surrounded by buildings containing chambers for students and masters, with a gate on one side; and frequently a garden and a well in the centre of the court.... Many of the madrisihs have been founded and endowed by kings or pious persons." (C. R. Markham's "A General Sketch of the History of Persia," p. 365.) 


2.3. A loose outer garment, resembling a cloak, commonly made of camel's hair. 


2.4. Worth approximately one hundred dollars, a substantial sum in those days. 


2.5. Qur'an, 76:9.


2.6. The Bab, in the "Dala'il-i-Sab'ih," refers to Mulla Husayn in these terms: "You, especially, know who is the first witness of that faith. You know that the majority of the doctors of the Shaykhi and the Siyyidiyyih and other sects admired his science and his talent. When he came to Isfahan the urchins of the town cried out as he passed, 'Ah! Ah! a ragged student has just arrived!' But behold! This man by his proofs and arguments convinced a Siyyid, one known for his proven scientific knowledge, Muhammad-Baqir! Truly that is one of the proofs of this Manifestation, for after the death of the Siyyid, this personage went to see most of the doctors of Islam and found Truth only with the Master of Truth. It was then that he attained the destiny which had been determined for him. In truth the people of the beginning and of the end of this Manifestation envy him and will envy him until the Day of Judgment. And who then can accuse this master-mind of mental weakness and infidelity?" ("Le Livre des Sept Preuves," translated by A. L. M. Nicolas, p. 54.)


2.7. The Bab in this connection reveals the following in the "Dala'il-i-Sab'ih": "That which he was still saying at the time of his last journey, that which you, yourself, have heard, is it not being spoken of? And likewise the account of Mirza Muhammad-i-Akhbari which Abdu'l-Husayn-i-Shushtari relates? Mirza Muhammad-i-Akhbari, while at Kazimayn, one day asked of the venerable Siyyid when the Imam would manifest himself. The Siyyid looked over the assembly and said: 'You will see him.' Mulla Muhammad-Taqiy-i-Haravi also related this incident in Isfahan." ("Le Livre des Sept Preuves," translated by A. L. M. Nicolas, p. 58.)


2.8. See note, at the beginning of the book, on "Distinguishing Features of Shi'ah Islam." 


2.9. "There seems to be conclusive evidence that Siyyid Kazim adverted often near the close of life to the divine Manifestation which he believed to be at hand. He was fond of saying, 'I see him as the rising sun.'" (Dr. T. K. Cheyne's the Reconciliation of Races and Religions," p. 19.) 


2.10. Qur'an, 76:21.


2.11. A juz' is one-thirtieth of the Qur'an.


2.12. The ninth day of the month of Dhi'l-Hijjih. 


2.13. October 5, 1851 A.D.


2.14. Chapter 2 of A. L. M. Nicolas' "Essai sur le Shaykhisme," II, is entirely devoted to a detailed enumeration of the hundred and thirty-five works composed by Siyyid Kazim, among which the following are of outstanding interest:

1. Sharh-i-Khutbiy-i-Tutunjiyyih.

2. Sharh-i-Qasidih.

3. Tafsirih Ayatu'l-Kursi.

4. Dar Asrar-i-Shihadat-i-Imam Husayn.

5. Cosmography.

6. Dalilu'l-Mutahayyirin. His works are said to exceed 300 volumes. ("A Traveller's Narrative," Note E, p. 238.) 


2.15. "Dhikr" means "mention," "remembrance."


2.16. A. L. M. Nicolas quotes in Chapter 3 of his "Essai sur le Shaykhisme," II, p. 43, the following extract from the Sharh-i-Qasidih of Siyyid Kazim: "I have announced that every hundred years there are a chosen few who spread and sow the precepts which explain that which is lawful and that which is unlawful; who tell of the things that were hidden during the hundred preceding years. In other words, in every century a learned and perfect man is found who causes the tree of religious law to revive and bloom; who regenerates its trunk to such an extent that at last the book of Creation comes to its end in a period of twelve hundred years. At that moment, a certain number of perfect men will appear who will reveal certain very intimate things which were hidden.... Therefore, when the twelve hundred years will have been completed, when the first cycle is ended, which depended upon the appearance of the Sun of the Prophet and of the Moon of the Vilayat, then the influence of that cycle is ended and a second cycle begins in which the intimate precepts and hidden meanings of the former cycle are explained." He himself then adds these words: "In other words, and in order to render clearer this amazing statement which truly needs no interpretation, Siyyid Kazim tells us that the first cycle which lasts twelve hundred years is solely for the education of the bodies and of the spirits which are dependent upon them. It is like a child in the womb of the mother. The second cycle is for the education of the pure spirits, the souls which have no relation to the world of matter. It is as though God wished to elevate the spirit by means of the performance of its duty in this world. Therefore, when the first cycle is completed, the glory of which is the name of Muhammad, comes the cycle of the education of the intimates. In this cycle the appearances obey the intimates, just as in the preceding cycle the heavenly name of the Prophet, which is Ahmad, is the place of the appearance, the Master: 'But this name must necessarily be found to be of the fruit of the best soil and of the purest air.'" Nicolas further adds in a footnote the following words: "The name of Ahmad mentioned above would lead one to believe that it refers to Shaykh Ahmad, but one cannot say, however, in speaking of Lahca, that it is the best of lands, or of the purest air. We know, on the contrary, that all the Persian poets sing the praises of Shiraz and of its ideal climate. It is only necessary to see what Shaykh Ahmad himself said of his country."


2.17. Brother of the Imam Husayn. 


2.18. Qur'an, 11:81.


2.19. A. L. M. Nicolas, in his "Essai sur le Shaykhisme," II, pp. 29-30, describes the event as follows: "It was in the year 1258 (1842) that this event took place, on the day of the Feast of Qadr. The armies of Baghdad, under the leadership of Najib Pasha, took possession of Karbila whose inhabitants they massacred and whose rich mosques they pillaged. About nine thousand people were killed, the majority of whom were Persians. Muhammad Shah was seriously ill at the time of this disaster and therefore his officials had kept the news from him. "When the Shah heard later on of these events, he grew furiously angry and swore fierce vengeance, but the Russian and English representatives intervened in order to quiet things. Finally Mirza Ja'far Khan Mushiru'd-Dawlih, on return from his ambassadorship at Constantinople, was sent to Erzeroum there to meet the English, Russian and Ottoman delegates. "Having arrived at Tabriz, the Persian plenipotentiary fell ill and Haji Mirza Aqasi appointed in his place Mirza Taqi Khan-i-Farahani, Vazir Nizam: this man appeared in Erzeroum with two hundred officers. "The Turkish delegate was Anvar Effendi who showed himself both courteous and conciliatory, but one of the men of the Amir Nizam committed an offense against the Sunnite religion; the population then attacked the camp of the Ambassador, two or three Persians were killed, everything was pillaged and the Amir Nizam was saved only through the intervention of Badri Pasha. "The Turkish Government expressed regret and paid an indemnity of 15,000 tumans. "In his Hidayatu't-Talibin, Karim Khan asserts that during the sack of Karbila, the victorious troops respected the homes of the Shaykhis. All those, he said, who sought refuge in them were saved, together with many precious objects which were gathered there. None of the companions of Siyyid Kazim were killed, while those who had sought refuge in the holy sepulchres were massacred without mercy. It is said that the Pasha entered on horseback within the sacred precincts." 


2.20. January 10, 1843 A.D.


2.21. A. L. M. Nicolas, in his "Essai sur le Shaykhisme," II, pp. 60-61, gives the following extract from the writings of Siyyid Kazim: "You have understood, I think, that the religious law and the precepts of morality are the food of the Spirit. It is then necessary that these religious laws be diverse; it is necessary that sometimes the older regulations be annulled; it is necessary that these precepts contain some things which are doubtful and some things which are certain; some things general and some things specific; some things absolute and some things finite; some of appearances and some of inner realities, so that the child may reach adolescence and may be perfect in his power and his capacity. "It is, at that time, that the Qa'im will appear and after his manifestation the length of his days will come to an end and he will be martyred, and when he is martyred, the world will have reached its eighteenth year."


2.22. According to Samandar (p. 32), Shaykh Abu-Turab was a native of Ishtihard, and ranked among the leading disciples of Siyyid Kazim. He married the sister of Mulla Husayn. He died while in prison in Tihran. 


2.23. "The Bab wrote to Haji Muhammad-Karim Khan ... and invited him to acknowledge his authority. This the latter not only entirely refused to do, but further wrote a treatise against the Bab and his doctrines." (P. 910.) "At least two such treatises were written by Haji Muhammad-Karim Khan. One of them was composed at a later date than this, probably after the Bab's death, at the special request of Nasiri'd-Din Shah. Of these two, one has been printed, and is called 'the crushing of falsehood' (Izhaqu'l-Batil)." (Footnote 1, p. 910.) (Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1889, article 12.)


2.24. Qur'an, 39:68.


2.25. References to the Bab and to Baha'u'llah, respectively.


2.26. The tombs of "the two Kazims," the seventh Imam Musa Kazim and the ninth Imam Muhammad-Taqi, about three miles north of Baghdad. Around them has grown up a considerable town, inhabited chiefly by Persians, known as "Kazimayn." 


2.27. November 23—December 23, 1843 A.D.


2.28. December 31, 1843 A.D.


2.29. "Karim Khan, regarding the taking of Karbila, speaks emphatically of the respect which the attacking troops showed to the Shaykhis and to Siyyid Kazim-i-Rashti. He declares, without the least hesitation, that it is very likely that Siyyid Kazim was poisoned in Baghdad by this infamous Najib Pasha who, he says, gave him a potion to drink which caused such intense thirst that it brought about the death of Siyyid Kazim. It is thus that the Persians record history!" (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Essai sur le Shaykhisme," II, pp. 30-31.) 


2.30. "He was buried behind the window in the corridor of the tomb of the Lord of the Confessors. This tomb was built on an incline toward the interior of the forbidden precincts." (Ibid., p. 31.)


2.31. "During the lifetime of Siyyid Kazim, the doctrine of the Shaykhis spread over all Persia so well that in the Province of Iraq alone there were more than a hundred thousand murids." (Journal Asiatique, 1866, tome 7, p. 463.) 


2.32. "Here ends the history of the establishment of Shaykhism, or at least of its unity, for, after the death of Siyyid Kazim-i-Rashti, it became divided into two branches. One branch, under the name of Babism, flowered as foreshadowed by the strength of the movement created by Shaykh Ahmad, thus fulfilling the expectations of the two masters, if one may believe their predictions. The other, under the leadership of Karim Khan-i-Qajar-i-Kirmani, will continue its struggles against the Shiite sect, but will always seek security in affecting the outer appearance Ithna-'Asharisme. If, according to Karim Khan, the Bab and his followers are infamous and impious, for the Babis, Karim Khan is the Anti-Christ or Dajjal foretold by Muhammad." (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Essai sur le Shaykhisme," II, p. 31.)



CHAPTER III

THE DECLARATION OF THE BAB'S MISSION


[47] The death of Siyyid Kazim was the signal for renewed activity on the part of his enemies. Athirst for leadership, and emboldened by his removal and the consequent dismay of his followers, they reasserted their claims and prepared to realise their ambitions. For a time, fear and anxiety filled the hearts of Siyyid Kazim's faithful disciples, but with the return of Mulla Husayn-i-Bushru'i from the highly successful mission with which he had been entrusted by his teacher, their gloom was dispelled.1


It was on the first day of Muharram, in the year 1260 A.H.,2 that Mulla Husayn came back to Karbila. He cheered and strengthened the disconsolate disciples of his beloved chief, reminded them of his unfailing promise, and pleaded for unrelaxing vigilance and unremitting effort in their search for the concealed Beloved. Living in the close neighbourhood of the house the Siyyid had occupied, he, for three days, was engaged continually in receiving visits from a considerable number of mourners who hastened to convey to him, as the leading representative of the Siyyid's disciples, the expression of their distress and sorrow. He afterwards summoned a group of his most distinguished and trusted fellow-disciples and enquired about the expressed wishes and the last exhortations of their departed leader. They told him that, repeatedly and emphatically, Siyyid Kazim had bidden them quit their homes, scatter far and wide, purge their hearts from every idle desire, and dedicate themselves to the quest of Him to whose advent he had so often alluded. "He told us," they said, "that the Object of our quest was now [48] revealed. The veils that intervened between you and Him are such as only you can remove by your devoted search. Nothing short of prayerful endeavour, of purity of motive, of singleness of mind, will enable you to tear them asunder. Has not God revealed in His Book: 'Whoso maketh efforts for Us, in Our ways will We guide them'?"3 "Why, then," Mulla Husayn observed, "have you chosen to tarry in Karbila? Why is it that you have not dispersed, and arisen to carry out his earnest plea?" "We acknowledge our failure," was their reply; "to your greatness we all bear witness. Such is our confidence in you, that if you claim to be the promised One, we shall all readily and unquestionably submit. We herein pledge our loyalty and obedience to whatever you bid us perform." "God forbid!" exclaimed Mulla Husayn. "Far be it from His glory that I, who am but dust, should be compared to Him who is the Lord of Lords! Had you been conversant with the tone and language of Siyyid Kazim, you never would have uttered such words. Your first obligation, as well as mine, is to arise and carry out, both in the spirit and in the letter, the dying message of our beloved chief." He arose instantly from his seat, and went directly to Mirza Hasan-i-Gawhar, Mirza Muhit, and other well-known figures among the disciples of Siyyid Kazim. To each and all he fearlessly delivered the parting message of his chief, emphasised the pressing character of their duty, and urged them to arise and fulfil it. To his plea they returned evasive and unworthy answers. "Our enemies," one of them remarked, "are many and powerful. We must remain in this city and guard the vacant seat of our departed chief." Another observed: "It is incumbent upon me to stay and care for the children whom the Siyyid has left behind." Mulla Husayn immediately recognised the futility of his efforts. Realising the degree of their folly, their blindness and ingratitude, he spoke to them no more. He retired, leaving them to their idle pursuits.


As the year sixty, the year that witnessed the birth of the promised Revelation, had just dawned upon the world, it would not seem inappropriate, at this juncture, to digress from our theme, and to mention certain traditions of Muhammad [49] and of the imams of the Faith which bear specific reference to that year. Imam Ja'far, son of Muhammad, when questioned concerning the year in which the Qa'im was to be made manifest, replied as follows: "Verily, in the year sixty His Cause shall be revealed, and His name shall be noised abroad." In the works of the learned and far-famed 


Muhyi'd-Din-i-'Arabi, many references are to be found regarding both the year of the advent and the name of the promised Manifestation. Among them are the following: "The ministers and upholders of His Faith shall be of the people of Persia." "In His name, the name of the Guardian ['Ali] precedeth that of the Prophet [Muhammad]." "The year of His Revelation is identical with half of that number which is divisible by nine [2520]." Mirza Muhammad-i-Akhbari, in his poems relating to the year of the Manifestation, [50] makes the following prediction: "In the year Ghars [the numerical value of the letters of which is 1260] the earth shall be illumined by His light, and in Gharasih [1265] the world shall be suffused with its glory. If thou livest until the year Gharasi [1270], thou shalt witness how the nations, the rulers, the peoples, and the Faith of God shall all have been renewed." In a tradition ascribed to the Imam 'Ali, the Commander of the Faithful, it is likewise recorded: "In Ghars the Tree of Divine guidance shall be planted."


Mulla Husayn, having acquitted himself of the obligation he felt to urge and awaken his fellow-disciples, set out from Karbila for Najaf. With him were Muhammad-Hasan, his brother, and Muhammad-Baqir, his nephew, both of whom had accompanied him ever since his visit to his native town of Bushruyih, in the province of Khurasan. Arriving at the Masjid-i-Kufih, Mulla Husayn decided to spend forty days in that place, where he led a life of retirement and prayer. By his fasts and vigils he prepared himself for the holy adventure upon which he was soon to embark. In the exercise of these acts of worship, his brother alone was associated with him, while his nephew, who attended to their daily needs, observed the fasts, and in his hours of leisure joined them in their devotions.


This cloistered calm with which they were surrounded was, after a few days, unexpectedly interrupted by the arrival of Mulla 'Aliy-i-Bastami, one of the foremost disciples of Siyyid Kazim. He, together with twelve other companions, arrived at the Masjid-i-Kufih, where he found his fellow-disciple Mulla Husayn immersed in contemplation and prayer. Mulla 'Ali was endowed with such vast learning, and was so deeply conversant with the teachings of Shaykh Ahmad, that many regarded him as even superior to Mulla Husayn. On several occasions he attempted to enquire from Mulla Husayn as to his destination after the termination of the period of his retirement. Every time he approached him, he found him so wrapt in his devotions that he felt it impossible to venture a question. He soon decided to retire, like him, for forty days from the society of men. All his companions followed his example with the exception of three who acted as their personal attendants.


[51] Immediately after the completion of his forty days' retirement, Mulla Husayn, together with his two companions, departed for Najaf. He left Karbila by night, visited on his way the shrine of Najaf, and proceeded directly to Bushihr, 


on the Persian Gulf. There he started on his holy quest after the Beloved of his heart's desire. There, for the first time, he inhaled the fragrance of Him who, for years, had led in that city the life of a merchant and humble citizen.


[52] There he perceived the sweet savours of holiness with which that Beloved's countless invocations had so richly impregnated the atmosphere of that city.


He could not, however, tarry longer in Bushihr. Drawn as if by a magnet which seemed to attract him irresistibly towards the north, he proceeded to Shiraz. Arriving at the gate of that city, he instructed his brother and his nephew to proceed directly to the Masjid-i-Ilkhani, and there to remain until his arrival. He expressed the hope that, God willing, he would arrive in time to join them in their evening prayer.


On that very day, a few hours before sunset, whilst walking outside the gate of the city, his eyes fell suddenly upon a Youth of radiant countenance, who wore a green turban and who, advancing towards him, greeted him with a smile of loving welcome. He embraced Mulla Husayn with tender affection as though he had been his intimate and lifelong friend. Mulla Husayn thought Him at first to be a disciple of Siyyid Kazim who, on being informed of his approach to Shiraz, had come out to welcome him.


Mirza Ahmad-i-Qazvini, the martyr, who on several occasions had heard Mulla Husayn recount to the early believers the story of his moving and historic interview with the Bab, related to me the following: "I have heard Mulla Husayn repeatedly and graphically describe the circumstances of that remarkable interview: 'The Youth who met me outside the gate of Shiraz overwhelmed me with expressions of affection and loving-kindness. He extended to me a warm invitation to visit His home, and there refresh myself after the fatigues of my journey. I prayed to be excused, pleading that my [53] two companions had already arranged for my stay in that city, and were now awaiting my return. "Commit them to the care of God," was His reply; "He will surely protect and watch over them." Having spoken these words, He bade me follow Him. I was profoundly impressed by the gentle yet compelling manner in which that strange Youth spoke to me. 

As I followed Him, His gait, the charm of His voice, the dignity of His bearing, served to enhance my first impressions of this unexpected meeting.


"'We soon found ourselves standing at the gate of a house of modest appearance. He knocked at the door, which was soon opened by an Ethiopian servant. "Enter therein in peace, secure,"4 were His words as He crossed the threshold [54] and motioned me to follow Him. His invitation, uttered with power and majesty, penetrated my soul. I thought it a good augury to be addressed in such words, standing as I did on the threshold of the first house I was entering in Shiraz, a city the very atmosphere of which had produced 


already an indescribable impression upon me. Might not my visit to this house, I thought to myself, enable me to draw nearer to the Object of my quest? Might it not hasten the termination of a period of intense longing, of strenuous search, of increasing anxiety, which such a quest involves? As I entered the house and followed my Host to His chamber, a feeling of unutterable joy invaded my being. Immediately [55] we were seated, He ordered a ewer of water to be brought, and bade me wash away from my hands and feet the stains of travel. I pleaded permission to retire from His presence and perform my ablutions in an adjoining room. He refused to grant my request, and proceeded to pour the water over my hands. He then gave me to drink of a refreshing beverage, after which He asked for the samovar5 and Himself prepared the tea which He offered me.


"'Overwhelmed with His acts of extreme kindness, I arose 


to depart. "The time for evening prayer is approaching," I ventured to observe. "I have promised my friends to join them at that hour in the Masjid-i-Ilkhani." With extreme courtesy and calm He replied: "You must surely have made the hour of your return conditional upon the will and pleasure of God. It seems that His will has decreed otherwise. You need have no fear of having broken your pledge." His dignity and self-assurance silenced me. I renewed my ablutions and prepared for prayer. He, too, stood beside me and prayed. Whilst praying, I unburdened my soul, which [56] was much oppressed, both by the mystery of this interview and the strain and stress of my search. I breathed this prayer: "I have striven with all my soul, O my God, and until now have failed to find Thy promised Messenger. I testify that Thy word faileth not, and that Thy promise is sure."


"'That night, that memorable night, was the eve preceding the fifth day of Jamadiyu'l-Avval, in the year 1260 A.H.6 [57] It was about an hour after sunset when my youthful Host began to converse with me. "Whom, after Siyyid Kazim," He asked me, "do you regard as his successor and your leader?" "At the hour of his death," I replied, "our departed teacher insistently exhorted us to forsake our homes, to scatter far and wide, in quest of the promised Beloved. I have, accordingly, journeyed to Persia, have arisen to accomplish his will, and am still engaged in my quest." "Has your teacher," He further enquired, "given you any detailed indications as to the distinguishing features of the promised One?" "Yes," I replied, "He is of a pure lineage, is of illustrious descent, and of the seed of Fatimih. As to His age, He is more than twenty and less than thirty. He is endowed with innate knowledge. He is of medium height, abstains from smoking, and is free from bodily deficiency." He paused for a while and then with vibrant voice declared: "Behold, all these signs are manifest in Me!" He then considered each of the above-mentioned signs separately, and conclusively demonstrated that each and all were applicable to His person. I was greatly surprised, and politely observed: "He whose advent we await is a Man of unsurpassed holiness, and the Cause He is to reveal, a Cause of tremendous power. Many and diverse are the requirements which He who claims to be its visible embodiment must needs fulfil. How often has Siyyid Kazim referred to the vastness of the knowledge of the promised One! How often did he say: 'My own knowledge is but a drop compared with that with which He has been endowed. All my attainments are but a speck of dust in the face of the immensity of His knowledge. Nay, immeasurable is the difference!'" No sooner had those words dropped from my lips than I found myself seized with fear and remorse, such as I could neither conceal nor explain. I bitterly reproved myself, and resolved at that very moment to alter my attitude and to soften my tone. I vowed to God that should my Host again refer to the subject, I would, with the utmost humility, answer and say: "If you be willing to substantiate your claim, you will most assuredly deliver me from the anxiety and suspense which so heavily oppress my soul. I shall truly be indebted to you for such deliverance." When I first started upon my quest, I determined to regard


[59] the two following standards as those whereby I could ascertain the truth of whosoever might claim to be the promised Qa'im. The first was a treatise which I had myself composed, bearing upon the abstruse and hidden teachings propounded by Shaykh Ahmad and Siyyid Kazim. Whoever seemed to me capable of unravelling the mysterious allusions made in that treatise, to him I would next submit my second request, and would ask him to reveal, without the least hesitation or reflection, a commentary on the Surih of Joseph, in a style and language entirely different from the prevailing standards of the time. I had previously requested Siyyid Kazim, in private, to write a commentary on that same Surih, which he refused, saying: "This is, verily, beyond me. He, that great One, who comes after me will, unasked, reveal it for you. That commentary will constitute one of the weightiest testimonies of His truth, and one of the clearest evidences of the loftiness of His position."7


"'I was revolving these things in my mind, when my distinguished Host again remarked: "Observe attentively. Might not the Person intended by Siyyid Kazim be none other than I?" I thereupon felt impelled to present to Him a copy of the treatise which I had with me. "Will you," I asked Him, "read this book of mine and look at its pages with indulgent eyes? I pray you to overlook my weaknesses and failings." He graciously complied with my wish. He opened the book, glanced at certain passages, closed it, and began to address me. Within a few minutes He had, with characteristic vigour and charm, unravelled all its mysteries and resolved all its problems. Having to my entire satisfaction accomplished, within so short a time, the task I had expected Him to perform, He further expounded to me certain truths which could be found neither in the reported sayings of the imams of the Faith nor in the writings of Shaykh Ahmad and Siyyid Kazim. These truths, which I had never heard before, seemed to be endowed with refreshing vividness and power. "Had you not been My guest," He afterwards 


[61] observed, "your position would indeed have been a grievous one. The all-encompassing grace of God has saved you. It is for God to test His servants, and not for His servants to judge Him in accordance with their deficient standards. Were I to fail to resolve your perplexities, could the Reality that shines within Me be regarded as powerless, or My knowledge be accused as faulty? Nay, by the righteousness of God! it behoves, in this day, the peoples and nations of both the East and the West to hasten to this threshold, and here seek to obtain the reviving grace of the Merciful. Whoso hesitates will indeed be in grievous loss. Do not the peoples of the earth testify that the fundamental purpose of their creation is the knowledge and adoration of God? It behoves them to arise, as earnestly and spontaneously as you have arisen, and to seek with determination and constancy their promised Beloved." He then proceeded to say: "Now is the time to reveal the commentary on the Surih of Joseph." He took up His pen and with incredible rapidity revealed the entire Surih of Mulk, the first chapter of His commentary on the Surih of Joseph. The overpowering effect of the manner in which He wrote was heightened by the gentle intonation of His voice which accompanied His writing. Not for one moment did He interrupt the flow of the verses which streamed from His pen. Not once did He pause till the Surih of Mulk was finished. I sat enraptured by the magic of His voice and the sweeping force of His revelation. At last I reluctantly arose from my seat and begged leave to depart. He smilingly bade me be seated, and said: "If you leave in such a state, whoever sees you will assuredly say: 'This poor youth has lost his mind.'" At that moment the clock registered two hours and eleven minutes after sunset.8 That night, the eve of the fifth day of Jamadiyu'l-Avval, in the year 1260 A.H., corresponded with the eve preceding the sixty-fifth day after Naw-ruz, which was also the eve of the sixth day of Khurdad, of the year Nahang. "This night," He declared, "this very hour will, in the days to come, be celebrated as one of the greatest and most significant of all festivals. Render thanks [62] to God for having graciously assisted you to attain your heart's desire, and for having quaffed from the sealed wine of His utterance. 'Well is it with them that attain thereunto.'"9


"'At the third hour after sunset, my Host ordered the dinner to be served. That same Ethiopian servant appeared again and spread before us the choicest food. That holy repast refreshed alike my body and soul. In the presence of my Host, at that hour, I felt as though I were feeding upon the fruits of Paradise. I could not but marvel at the manners and the devoted attentions of that Ethiopian servant whose very life seemed to have been transformed by the regenerating influence of his Master. I then, for the first time, recognised the significance of this well-known traditional utterance ascribed to Muhammad: "I have prepared for the godly and righteous among My servants what eye hath seen not, ear heard not, nor human heart conceived." Had my youthful Host no other claim to greatness, this were sufficient—-that He received me with that quality of hospitality and loving-kindness which I was convinced no other human being could possibly reveal.


"'I sat spellbound by His utterance, oblivious of time and of those who awaited me. Suddenly the call of the muadhdhin, summoning the faithful to their morning prayer, awakened me from the state of ecstasy into which I seemed to have fallen. All the delights, all the ineffable glories, which the Almighty has recounted in His Book as the priceless possessions of the people of Paradise—these I seemed to be experiencing that night. Methinks I was in a place of which it could be truly said: "Therein no toil shall reach us, and therein no weariness shall touch us"; "No vain discourse shall they hear therein, nor any falsehood, but only the cry, 'Peace! Peace!'"; "Their cry therein shall be, 'Glory be to Thee, O God!' and their salutation therein, 'Peace!' And the close of their cry, 'Praise be to God, Lord of all creatures!'"10


"'Sleep had departed from me that night. I was enthralled by the music of that voice which rose and fell as He [63] chanted; now swelling forth as He revealed verses of the Qayyumu'l-Asma',11 again acquiring ethereal, subtle harmonies as He uttered the prayers He was revealing.12 At the end of each invocation, He would repeat this verse: "Far from the glory of thy Lord, the All-Glorious, be that which His creatures affirm of Him! And peace be upon His Messengers! And praise be to God, the Lord of all beings!"13


"'He then addressed me in these words: "O thou who art the first to believe in Me! Verily I say, I am the Bab, the Gate of God, and thou art the Babu'l-Bab, the gate of that Gate. Eighteen souls must, in the beginning, spontaneously and of their own accord, accept Me and recognise the truth of My Revelation. Unwarned and uninvited, each of these must seek independently to find Me. And when their number is complete, one of them must needs be chosen to accompany Me on My pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina. There I shall deliver the Message of God to the Sharif of Mecca. I then shall return to Kufih, where again, in the Masjid of that holy city, I shall manifest His Cause. It is incumbent upon you not to divulge, either to your companions or to any other soul, that which you have seen and heard. Be engaged in the Masjid-i-Ilkhani in prayer and in teaching. I, too, will there join you in congregational prayer. Beware lest your attitude towards Me betray the secret of your faith. You should continue in this occupation and maintain this attitude until our departure for Hijaz. Ere we depart, we shall appoint unto each of the eighteen souls his special mission, and shall send them forth to accomplish their task. We shall instruct them to teach the Word of God and to quicken the souls of men." Having spoken these words to me, He dismissed me from His presence. Accompanying 


[65] me to the door of the house, He committed me to the care of God.


"'This Revelation, so suddenly and impetuously thrust upon me, came as a thunderbolt which, for a time, seemed to have benumbed my faculties.14 I was blinded by its dazzling splendour and overwhelmed by its crushing force. Excitement, joy, awe, and wonder stirred the depths of my soul. Predominant among these emotions was a sense of gladness and strength which seemed to have transfigured me. How feeble and impotent, how dejected and timid, I had felt previously! Then I could neither write nor walk, so tremulous were my hands and feet. Now, however, the knowledge of His Revelation had galvanised my being. I felt possessed of such courage and power that were the world, all its peoples and its potentates, to rise against me, I would, alone and undaunted, withstand their onslaught. The universe seemed but a handful of dust in my grasp. I seemed to be the Voice of Gabriel personified, calling unto all mankind: "Awake, for lo! the morning Light has broken. Arise, for His Cause is made manifest. The portal of His grace is open wide; enter therein, O peoples of the world! For He who is your promised One is come!"


"'In such a state I left His house and joined my brother and nephew. A large number of the followers of Shaykh Ahmad, who had heard of my arrival, had gathered in the Masjid-i-Ilkhani to meet me. Faithful to the directions of my newly found Beloved, I immediately set myself to carry out His wishes. As I began to organise my classes and perform my devotions, a vast concourse of people gathered gradually about me. Ecclesiastical dignitaries and officials of the city also came to visit me. They marvelled at the spirit which my lectures revealed, unaware that the Source [66] whence my knowledge flowed was none other than He whose advent they, for the most part, were eagerly awaiting.


"'During those days I was, on several occasions, summoned by the Bab to visit Him. He would send at night-time that same Ethiopian servant to the masjid, bearing to me His most loving message of welcome. Every time I visited Him, I spent the entire night in His presence. Wakeful until the dawn, I sat at His feet fascinated by the charm of His utterance and oblivious of the world and its cares and pursuits. How rapidly those precious hours flew by! At daybreak I reluctantly withdrew from His presence. How eagerly in those days I looked forward to the approach of the evening hour! With what feelings of sadness and regret I beheld the dawning of day! In the course of one of these nightly visits, my Host addressed me in these words: "To-morrow thirteen of your companions will arrive. To each of them extend the utmost loving-kindness. Leave them not to themselves, for they have dedicated their lives to the quest of their Beloved. Pray to God that He may graciously enable them to walk securely in that path which is finer than a hair and keener than a sword. Certain ones among them will be accounted, in the sight of God, as His chosen and favoured disciples. As to others, they will tread the middle way. The fate of the rest will remain undeclared until the hour when all that is hidden shall be made manifest."15


"'That same morning, at sunrise, soon after my return from the home of the Bab, Mulla 'Aliy-i-Bastami, accompanied by the same number of companions as indicated to me, arrived at the Masjid-i-Ilkhani. I immediately set about to provide the means for their comfort. One night, a few days after their arrival, Mulla 'Ali, as the spokesman of his companions, gave vent to feelings which he could no longer repress. "You know well," he said, "how great is our confidence in you. We bear you such loyalty that if you should claim to be the promised Qa'im we would all unhesitatingly submit. Obedient to your summons, we have forsaken our [67] homes and have gone forth in search of our promised Beloved. You were the first to set us all this noble example. We have followed in your footsteps. We have determined not to relax in our efforts until we find the Object of our quest. We have followed you to this place, ready to acknowledge whomsoever you accept, in the hope of seeking the shelter of His protection and of passing successfully through the tumult and agitation that must needs signalise the last Hour. How is it that we now see you teaching the people and conducting their prayers and devotions with the utmost tranquillity? Those evidences of agitation and expectancy seem to have vanished from your countenance. Tell us, we beseech you, the reason, that we too may be delivered from our present state of suspense and doubt." "Your companions," I gently observed, "may naturally attribute my peace and composure to the ascendancy which I seem to have acquired in this city. The truth is far from that. The world, I assure you, with all its pomp and seductions, can never lure away this Husayn of Bushruyih from his Beloved. Ever since the beginning of this holy enterprise upon which I have embarked, I have vowed to seal, with my life-blood, my own destiny. For His sake I have welcomed immersion in an ocean of tribulation. I yearn not for the things of this world. I crave only the good pleasure of my Beloved. Not until I shed my blood for His name will the fire that glows within me be quenched. Please God you may live to witness that day. Might not your companions have thought that, because of the intensity of his longing and the constancy of his endeavours, God has, in His infinite mercy, graciously deigned to unlock before the face of Mulla Husayn the Gate of His grace, and, wishing, according to His inscrutable wisdom, to conceal this fact, has bidden him engage in such pursuits?" These words stirred the soul of Mulla 'Ali. He at once perceived their meaning. With tearful eyes he entreated me to disclose the identity of Him who had turned my agitation into peace and converted my anxiety into certitude. "I adjure you," he pleaded, "to bestow upon me a portion of that holy draught which the Hand of mercy has given you to drink, for it will assuredly allay my thirst, and ease the pain of longing in my heart." "Beseech me not," [68] I replied, "to grant you this favour. Let your trust be in Him, for He will surely guide your steps, and appease the tumult of your heart."'"


Mulla 'Ali hastened to his companions and acquainted them with the nature of his conversation with Mulla Husayn. Ablaze with the fire which the account of that conversation had kindled in their hearts, they immediately dispersed, and, seeking the seclusion of their cells, besought, through fasting and prayer, the early removal of the veil that intervened between them and the recognition of their Beloved. They prayed while keeping their vigils: "O God, our God! Thee only do we worship, and to Thee do we cry for help. Guide us, we beseech Thee, on the straight Path, O Lord our God! Fulfil what Thou hast promised unto us by Thine Apostles, and put us not to shame on the Day of Resurrection. Verily, Thou wilt not break Thy promise."


On the third night of his retirement, whilst wrapt in prayer, Mulla 'Aliy-i-Bastami had a vision. There appeared before his eyes a light, and, lo! that light moved off before him. Allured by its splendour, he followed it, till at last it led him to his promised Beloved. At that very hour, in the mid-watches of the night, he arose and, exultant with joy and radiant with gladness, opened the door of his chamber and hastened to Mulla Husayn. He threw himself into the arms of his revered companion. Mulla Husayn most lovingly embraced him and said: "Praise be to God who hath guided us hither! We had not been guided had not God guided us!"


That very morning, at break of day, Mulla Husayn, followed by Mulla 'Ali, hastened to the residence of the Bab. At the entrance of His house they met the faithful Ethiopian servant, who immediately recognised them and greeted them in these words: "Ere break of day, I was summoned to the presence of my Master, who instructed me to open the door of the house and to stand expectant at its threshold. 'Two guests,' He said, 'are to arrive early this morning. Extend to them in My name a warm welcome. Say to them from Me: "Enter therein in the name of God."'"


The first meeting of Mulla 'Ali with the Bab, which was analogous to the meeting with Mulla Husayn, differed only in this respect, that whereas at the previous meeting the [69] proofs and testimonies of the Bab's mission had been critically scrutinised and expounded, at this one all argument had been set aside and nothing but the spirit of intense adoration and of close and ardent fellowship prevailed. The entire chamber seemed to have been vitalised by that celestial potency which emanated from His inspired utterance. Everything in that room seemed to be vibrating with this testimony: "Verily, verily, the dawn of a new Day has broken. The promised One is enthroned in the hearts of men. In His hand He holds the mystic cup, the chalice of immortality. Blessed are they who drink therefrom!"


Each of the twelve companions of Mulla 'Ali, in his turn and by his own unaided efforts, sought and found his Beloved. Some in sleep, others in waking, a few whilst in prayer, and still others in their moments of contemplation, experienced the light of this Divine Revelation and were led to recognise the power of its glory. After the manner of Mulla 'Ali, these, and a few others, accompanied by Mulla Husayn, attained the presence of the Bab and were declared "Letters of the Living." Seventeen Letters were gradually enrolled in the preserved Tablet of God, and were appointed as the chosen Apostles of the Bab, the ministers of His Faith, and the diffusers of His light.


One night, in the course of His conversation with Mulla Husayn, the Bab spoke these words: "Seventeen Letters have thus far enlisted under the standard of the Faith of God. There remains one more to complete the number. These Letters of the Living shall arise to proclaim My Cause and to establish My Faith. To-morrow night the remaining Letter will arrive and will complete the number of My chosen disciples." The next day, in the evening hour, as the Bab, followed by Mulla Husayn, was returning to His home, there appeared a youth dishevelled and travel-stained. He approached Mulla Husayn, embraced him, and asked him whether he had attained his goal. Mulla Husayn tried at first to calm his agitation and advised him to rest for the moment, promising that he would subsequently enlighten him. That youth, however, refused to heed his advice. Fixing his gaze upon the Bab, he said to Mulla Husayn: "Why seek you to hide Him from me? I can recognise Him by His [70] gait. I confidently testify that none besides Him, whether in the East or in the West, can claim to be the Truth. None other can manifest the power and majesty that radiate from His holy person." Mulla Husayn marvelled at his words. He pleaded to be excused, however, and induced him to restrain his feelings until such time as he would be able to acquaint him with the truth. Leaving him, he hastened to join the Bab, and informed Him of his conversation with that youth. "Marvel not," observed the Bab, "at his strange behaviour. We have in the world of the spirit been communing with that youth. We know him already. We indeed awaited his coming. Go to him and summon him forthwith to Our presence." Mulla Husayn was instantly reminded by these words of the Bab of the following traditional utterance: "On the last Day, the Men of the Unseen shall, on the wings of the spirit, traverse the immensity of the earth, shall attain the presence of the promised Qa'im, and shall seek from Him the secret that will resolve their problems and remove their perplexities."


Though distant in body, these heroic souls are engaged in daily communion with their Beloved, partake of the bounty of His utterance, and share the supreme privilege of His companionship. Otherwise how could Shaykh Ahmad and Siyyid Kazim have known of the Bab? How could they have perceived the significance of the secret which lay hidden in Him? How could the Bab Himself, how could Quddus, His beloved disciple, have written in such terms, had not the mystic bond of the spirit


The acceptance by Quddus of the truth of the Bab's Revelation completed the assigned number of His chosen 


disciples. Quddus, whose name was Muhammad-'Ali, was, through his mother, a direct descendant of the Imam Hasan, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad.1 He was born in Barfurush, in the province of Mazindaran. It has been reported by those who attended the lectures of Siyyid Kazim that in the last years of the latter's life, Quddus enrolled himself [72] as one of the Siyyid's disciples. He was the last to arrive, and invariably occupied the lowliest seat in the assembly. He was the first to depart upon the conclusion of every meeting. The silence he observed and the modesty of his behaviour distinguished him from the rest of his companions. Siyyid Kazim was often heard to remark that certain ones among his disciples, though they occupied the lowliest of seats, and observed the strictest silence, were none the less so exalted in the sight of God that he himself felt unworthy to rank among their servants. His disciples, although they observed the humility of Quddus and acknowledged the exemplary character of his behaviour, remained unaware of the purpose of Siyyid Kazim. When Quddus arrived in Shiraz and embraced the Faith declared by the Bab, he was only twenty-two years of age. Though young in years, he showed that indomitable courage and faith which none among the disciples of his master could exceed. He exemplified by his life and glorious martyrdom the truth of this tradition: "Whoso seeketh Me, shall find Me. Whoso findeth Me, shall be drawn towards Me. Whoso draweth nigh unto Me, shall love Me. Whoso loveth Me, him shall I also love. He who is beloved of Me, him shall I slay. He who is slain by Me, I Myself shall be his ransom."


The Bab, whose name was Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad,17 was born in the city of Shiraz, on the first day of Muharram, in the year 1235 A.H.18 He belonged to a house which was renowned for its nobility and which traced its origin to Muhammad Himself. The date of His birth confirmed the truth of the prophecy traditionally attributed to the Imam 'Ali: "I am two years younger than my Lord." Twenty-five years, four months, and four days had elapsed since the day of His birth, when he declared His Mission. In His early childhood He lost His father, Siyyid Muhammad-Rida,19 a man who was known throughout the province of Fars for his piety 



[75] and virtue, and was held in high esteem and honour. Both His father and His mother were descendants of the Prophet, both were loved and respected by the people. He was reared by His maternal uncle, Haji Mirza Siyyid 'Ali, a martyr to the Faith, who placed Him, while still a child, under the care of a tutor named Shaykh 'Abid.20 The Bab, though not inclined to study, submitted to His uncle's will and directions.


Shaykh 'Abid, known by his pupils as Shaykhuna, was a man of piety and learning. He had been a disciple of both Shaykh Ahmad and Siyyid Kazim. "One day," he related, "I asked the Bab to recite the opening words of the Qur'an: 'Bismi'llahi'r-Rahmani'r-Rahim.'21 He hesitated, pleading that unless He were told what these words signified, He would in no wise attempt to pronounce them. I pretended not to know their meaning. 'I know what these words signify,' observed my pupil; 'by your leave, I will explain them.' He spoke with such knowledge and fluency that I was struck with amazement. He expounded the meaning of 'Allah,' of 'Rahman,' and 'Rahim,' in terms such as I had neither read nor heard. The sweetness of His utterance still lingers in my memory. I felt impelled to take Him back to His uncle and to deliver into his hands the Trust he had committed to my care. I determined to tell him how unworthy I felt to teach so remarkable a child. I found His uncle alone in his office. 'I have brought Him back to you,' I said, 'and commit Him to your vigilant protection. He is not to be treated as a mere child, for in Him I can already discern evidences of that mysterious power which the Revelation of the Sahibu'z-Zaman22 alone can reveal. It is incumbent upon you to surround Him with your most loving care. Keep Him in your house, for He, verily, stands in no need of teachers such as I.' Haji Mirza Siyyid 'Ali sternly rebuked the Bab. 'Have You forgotten my instructions?' he said. 'Have I not already admonished You to follow the example of Your [76] fellow-pupils, to observe silence, and to listen attentively to every word spoken by Your teacher?' Having obtained His promise to abide faithfully by his instructions, he bade the Bab return to His school. The soul of that child could not, however, be restrained by the stern admonitions of His uncle. No discipline could repress the flow of His intuitive knowledge. Day after day He continued to manifest such remarkable evidences of superhuman wisdom as I am powerless to recount." At last His uncle was induced to take Him away from the school of Shaykh 'Abid, and to associate Him with himself in his own profession.23 There, too, He revealed signs of a power and greatness that few could approach and none could rival.


Some years later24 the Bab was united in wedlock with the sister of Mirza Siyyid Hasan and Mirza Abu'l-Qasim.25 The child which resulted from this union, He named Ahmad.26 He died in the year 1259 A.H.,27 the year preceding the declaration of the Faith by the Bab. The Father did not lament his loss. He consecrated his death by words such as these: [77] "O God, my God! Would that a thousand Ishmaels were given Me, this Abraham of Thine, that I might have offered them, each and all, as a loving sacrifice unto Thee. O my Beloved, my heart's Desire! The sacrifice of this Ahmad whom Thy servant 'Ali-Muhammad hath offered up on the altar of Thy love can never suffice to quench the flame of longing in His heart. Not until He immolates His own heart at Thy feet, not until His whole body falls a victim to the cruelest tyranny in Thy path, not until His breast is made a target for countless darts for Thy sake, will the tumult of His soul be stilled. O my God, my only Desire! Grant that the sacrifice of My son, My only son, may be acceptable unto Thee. Grant that it be a prelude to the sacrifice of My own, My entire self, in the path of Thy good pleasure. Endue with Thy grace My life-blood which I yearn to shed in Thy path. Cause it to water and nourish the seed of Thy Faith. Endow it with Thy celestial potency, that this infant seed of God may soon germinate in the hearts of men, that it may thrive and prosper, that it may grow to become a mighty tree, beneath the shadow of which all the peoples and kindreds of the earth may gather. Answer Thou My prayer, O God, and fulfil My most cherished desire. Thou art, verily, the Almighty, the All-Bountiful."28


The days which the Bab devoted to commercial pursuits were mostly spent in Bushihr.29 The oppressive heat of the summer did not deter Him from devoting, each Friday, several hours to continuous worship upon the roof of His house. Though exposed to the fierce rays of the noontide sun, He, turning His heart to His Beloved, continued to commune with Him, unmindful of the intensity of the heat [78] and oblivious of the world around Him. From early dawn till sunrise, and from midday till late in the afternoon, He dedicated His time to meditation and pious worship. Turning His gaze towards the north, in the direction of Tihran, He, at every break of day, greeted, with a heart overflowing with love and joy, the rising sun, which to Him was a sign and 


symbol of that Day-Star of Truth that was soon to dawn upon the world. As a lover who beholds the face of his beloved, He gazed upon the rising orb with steadfastness and longing. He seemed to be addressing, in mystic language, that shining luminary, and to be entrusting it with His message of yearning and love to His concealed Beloved. With such transports of delight He greeted its beaming rays, that the heedless and [79] ignorant around Him thought Him to be enamoured with the sun itself.30


I have heard Haji Siyyid Javad-i-Karbila'i31 recount the following: "Whilst journeying to India, I passed through Bushihr. As I was already acquainted with Haji Mirza Siyyid 'Ali, I was enabled to meet the Bab on several occasions. Every time I met Him, I found Him in such a state of humility and lowliness as words fail me to describe. His downcast eyes, His extreme courtesy, and the serene expression of His face made an indelible impression upon my soul.32 I often heard those who were closely associated with Him testify to the purity of His character, to the charm of His manners, to His self-effacement, to His high integrity, and to His extreme devotion to God.33 A certain man confided to His care a trust, requesting Him to dispose of it at a fixed price. When the Bab sent him the value of that article, the man found that the sum which he had been offered considerably exceeded the limit which he had fixed. He immediately wrote to the Bab, requesting Him to explain the reason. The Bab replied: 'What I have sent you is entirely your due. There is not a single farthing in excess of [80] what is your right. There was a time when the trust you had delivered to Me had attained this value. Failing to sell it at that price, I now feel it My duty to offer you the whole of that sum.' However much the Bab's client entreated Him to receive back the sum in excess, the Bab persisted in refusing.


"With what assiduous care He attended those gatherings at which the virtues of the Siyyidu'sh-Shuhada', the Imam Husayn, were being extolled! With what attention He listened to the chanting of the eulogies! What tenderness and devotion He showed at those scenes of lamentation and prayer! Tears rained from His eyes as His trembling lips murmured words of prayer and praise. How compelling was His dignity, how tender the sentiments which His countenance inspired!"


As to those whose supreme privilege it was to be enrolled by the Bab in the Book of His Revelation as His chosen Letters of the Living, their names are as follows:


Mulla Husayn-i-Bushru'i,

Muhammad-Hasan, his brother,

Muhammad-Baqir, his nephew,

Mulla 'Aliy-i-Bastami,

Mulla Khuda-Bakhsh-i-Quchani, later named Mulla 'Ali,

Mulla Hasan-i-Bajistani,

Siyyid Husayn-i-Yazdi,

Mirza Muhammad Rawdih-Khan-i-Yazdi,

Sa'id-i-Hindi,

Mulla Mahmud-i-Khu'i,

Mulla Jalil-i-Urumi,

Mulla Ahmad-i-Ibdal-i-Maraghi'i,

Mulla Baqir-i-Tabrizi,

Mulla Yusif-i-Ardibili,

Mirza Hadi, son of Mulla 'Abdu'l-Vahhab-i-Qazvini,

[81] Mirza Muhammad-'Aliy-i-Qazvini.34

Tahirih,35

Quddus.


These all, with the single exception of Tahirih, attained the presence of the Bab, and were personally invested by Him with the distinction of this rank. It was she who, having learned of the intended departure of her sister's husband, Mirza Muhammad-'Ali, from Qazvin, entrusted him with a sealed letter, requesting that he deliver it to that promised One whom she said he was sure to meet in the course of his journey. "Say to Him, from me," she added, "'The effulgence of Thy face flashed forth, and the rays of Thy visage arose on high. Then speak the word, "Am I not your [82] Lord?" and "Thou art, Thou art!" we will all reply.'"36


Mirza Muhammad-'Ali eventually met and recognised the Bab and conveyed to Him both the letter and the message of Tahirih. The Bab forthwith declared her one of the Letters of the Living. Her father, Haji Mulla Salih-i-Qazvini, and his brother, Mulla Taqi, were both mujtahids of great renown,37 were skilled in the traditions of Muslim law, and were universally respected by the people of Tihran, Qazvin, and other leading cities of Persia. She was married to Mulla Muhammad, son of Mulla Taqi, her uncle, whom [83] the shi'ahs styled Shahid-i-Thalith.38 Although her family belonged to the Bala-Sari, Tahirih alone showed, from the very beginning, a marked sympathy and devotion to Siyyid Kazim. As an evidence of her personal admiration for him, she wrote an apology in defence and justification of the teachings of Shaykh Ahmad and presented it to him. To this she soon received a reply, couched in the most affectionate terms, in the opening passages of which the Siyyid thus addressed her: "O thou who art the solace of mine eyes (Ya Qurrat-i-'Ayni!), and the joy of my heart!" Ever since that time she has been known as Qurratu'l-'Ayn. After the historic [84] gathering of Badasht, a number of those who attended were so amazed at the fearlessness and outspoken language of that heroine, that they felt it their duty to acquaint the Bab with the character of her startling and unprecedented behaviour. They strove to tarnish the purity of her name. To their accusations the Bab replied: "What am I to say regarding her whom the Tongue of Power and Glory has named Tahirih [the Pure One]?" These words proved sufficient to silence those who had endeavoured to undermine her position. From that time onwards she was designated by the believers as Tahirih.39 


A word should now be said in explanation of the term Bala-Sari. Shaykh Ahmad and Siyyid Kazim, as well as their followers, when visiting the shrine of the Imam Husayn in Karbila, invariably occupied, as a mark of reverence, the lower end of the sepulchre. They never advanced beyond it, whereas other worshippers, the Bala-Sari, recited their prayers in the upper section of that shrine. The Shaykhis, believing, as they did, that "every true believer lives both in this world and in the next," felt it unseemly and improper to step beyond the limits of the lower sections of the shrine [85] of the Imam Husayn, who in their eyes was the very incarnation of the most perfect believer.40


Mulla Husayn, who anticipated being the chosen companion of the Bab during His pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina, was, as soon as the latter decided to depart from Shiraz, summoned to the presence of his Master, who gave him the following instructions: "The days of our companionship are approaching their end. My Covenant with you is now accomplished. Gird up the loins of endeavour, and arise to diffuse My Cause. Be not dismayed at the sight of the degeneracy and perversity of this generation, for the Lord of the Covenant shall assuredly assist you. Verily, He shall surround you with His loving protection, and shall lead you from victory to victory. Even as the cloud that rains its bounty upon the earth, traverse the land from end to end, and shower upon its people the blessings which the Almighty, in His mercy, has deigned to confer upon you. Forbear with the ulamas, and resign yourself to the will of God. Raise the cry: 'Awake, awake, for, lo! the Gate of God is open, and the morning Light is shedding its radiance upon all mankind! The promised One is made manifest; prepare the way for Him, O people of the earth! Deprive not yourselves of its redeeming grace, nor close your eyes to its effulgent glory.' Those whom you find receptive to your call, share with them the epistles and tablets We have revealed for you, that, perchance, these wondrous words may cause them to turn away from the slough of heedlessness, and soar into the realm [86] of the Divine presence. In this pilgrimage upon which We are soon to embark, We have chosen Quddus as Our companion. We have left you behind to face the onslaught of a fierce and relentless enemy. Rest assured, however, that a bounty unspeakably glorious shall be conferred upon you. Follow the course of your journey towards the north, and 


visit on your way Isfahan, Kashan, Qum, and Tihran. Beseech almighty Providence that He may graciously enable you to attain, in that capital, the seat of true sovereignty, and to enter the mansion of the Beloved. A secret lies hidden in that city. When made manifest, it shall turn the earth into paradise. My hope is that you may partake of its grace and recognise its splendour. From Tihran proceed to Khurasan, and there proclaim anew the Call. From thence return to Najaf and Karbila, and there await the summons [87] of your Lord. Be assured that the high mission for which you have been created will, in its entirety, be accomplished by you. Until you have consummated your work, if all the darts of an unbelieving world be directed against you, they will be powerless to hurt a single hair of your head. All things are imprisoned within His mighty grasp. He, verily, is the Almighty, the All-Subduing."


The Bab then summoned to His presence Mulla 'Aliy-i-Bastami, and addressed to him words of cheer and loving-kindness. He instructed him to proceed directly to Najaf and Karbila, alluded to the severe trials and afflictions that would befall him, and enjoined him to be steadfast till the end. "Your faith," He told him, "must be immovable as the rock, must weather every storm and survive every calamity. Suffer not the denunciations of the foolish and the calumnies of the clergy to afflict you, or to turn you from your purpose. For you are called to partake of the celestial banquet prepared for you in the immortal Realm. You are the first to leave the House of God, and to suffer for His sake. If you be slain in His path, remember that great will be your reward, and goodly the gift which will be bestowed upon you."


No sooner were these words uttered than Mulla 'Ali arose from his seat and set out to prosecute his mission. At about a farsang's distance from Shiraz he was overtaken by a youth who, flushed with excitement, impatiently asked to speak to him. His name was 'Abdu'l-Vahhab. "I beseech you," he tearfully entreated Mulla 'Ali, "to allow me to accompany you on your journey. Perplexities oppress my heart; I pray you to guide my steps in the way of Truth. Last night, in my dream, I heard the crier announce in the market-street of Shiraz the appearance of the Imam 'Ali, the Commander of the Faithful. He called to the multitude: 'Arise and seek him. Behold, he plucks out of the burning fire charters of liberty and is distributing them to the people. Hasten to him, for whoever receives them from his hands will be secure from penal suffering, and whoever fails to obtain them from him, will be bereft of the blessings of Paradise.' Immediately I heard the voice of the crier, I arose and, abandoning my shop, ran across the market-street of Vakil to a place where my eyes beheld you standing and distributing [88] those same charters to the people. To everyone who approached to receive them from your hands, you would whisper in his ear a few words which instantly caused him to flee in consternation and exclaim: 'Woe betide me, for I am deprived of the blessings of 'Ali and his kindred! Ah, miserable me, that I am accounted among the outcast and fallen !' I awoke from my dream and, immersed in an ocean of thought, regained my shop. Suddenly I saw you pass, accompanied by a man who wore a turban, and who was conversing with you. I sprang from my seat and, impelled by a power which I could not repress, ran to overtake you. To my utter amazement, I found you standing upon the very site which I had witnessed in my dream, engaged in the recital of traditions and verses. Standing aside, at a distance, I kept watching you, wholly unobserved by you and your friend. I heard the man whom you were addressing, impetuously protest: 'Easier is it for me to be devoured by the flames of hell than to acknowledge the truth of your words, the weight of which mountains are unable to sustain!' To his contemptuous rejection you returned this answer: 'Were all the universe to repudiate His truth, it could never tarnish the unsullied purity of His robe of grandeur.' Departing from him, you directed your steps towards the gate of Kaziran. I continued to follow you until I reached this place."


Mulla 'Ali tried to appease his troubled heart and to persuade him to return to his shop and resume his daily work. "Your association with me," he urged, "would involve me in difficulties. Return to Shiraz and rest assured, for you are accounted of the people of salvation. Far be it from the justice of God to withhold from so ardent and devoted a seeker the cup of His grace, or to deprive a soul so athirst from the billowing ocean of His Revelation." The words of Mulla 'Ali proved of no avail. The more he insisted upon the return of 'Abdu'l-Vahhab, the louder grew his lamentation and weeping. Mulla 'Ali finally felt compelled to comply with his wish, resigning himself to the will of God. Haji 'Abdu'l-Majid, the father of 'Abdu'l-Vahhab, has often been heard to recount, with eyes filled with tears, this story: "How deeply," he said, "I regret the deed I committed. Pray that God may grant me the remission of my sin. I [89] was one among the favoured in the court of the sons of the Farman-Farma, the governor of the province of Fars. Such was my position that none dared to oppose or harm me. No one questioned my authority or ventured to interfere with my freedom. Immediately I heard that my son 'Abdu'l-Vahhab had forsaken his shop and left the city, I ran out in the direction of the Kaziran gate to overtake him. Armed with a club with which I intended to beat him, I enquired as to the road he had taken. I was told that a man wearing a turban had just crossed the street and that my son was seen following him. They seemed to have agreed to leave the city together. This excited my anger and indignation. How could I tolerate, I thought to myself, such unseemly behaviour on the part of my son, I, who already hold so privileged a position in the court of the sons of the Farman-Farma? Nothing but the severest chastisement, I felt, could wipe away the effect of my son's disgraceful conduct.


"I continued my search until I reached them. Seized with a savage fury, I inflicted upon Mulla 'Ali unspeakable injuries. To the strokes that fell heavily upon him, he, with extraordinary serenity, returned this answer: 'Stay your hand, O 'Abdu'l-Majid, for the eye of God is observing you. I take Him as my witness, that I am in no wise responsible for the conduct of your son. I mind not the tortures you inflict upon me, for I stand prepared for the most grievous afflictions in the path I have chosen to follow. Your injuries, compared to what is destined to befall me in future, are as a drop compared to the ocean. Verily, I say, you shall survive me, and will come to recognise my innocence. Great will then be your remorse, and deep your sorrow.' Scorning his remarks, and heedless of his appeal, I continued to beat him until I was exhausted. Silently and heroically he endured this most undeserved chastisement at my hands. Finally, I ordered my son to follow me, and left Mulla 'Ali to himself.


"On our way back to Shiraz, my son related to me the dream he had dreamt. A feeling of profound regret gradually seized me. The blamelessness of Mulla 'Ali was vindicated in my eyes, and the memory of my cruelty to him continued long to oppress my soul. Its bitterness lingered in my heart until the time when I felt obliged to transfer my residence [90] from Shiraz to Baghdad. From Baghdad I moved to Kazimayn, where 'Abdu'l-Vahhab established his business. A strange mystery brooded over his youthful face. He seemed to be concealing from me a secret which appeared to have transformed his life. And when, in the year 1267 A.H.,41 Baha'u'llah journeyed to Iraq and visited Kazimayn, 'Abdu'l-Vahhab fell immediately under the spell of His charm and pledged his undying devotion to Him. A few years later, when my son had suffered martyrdom in Tihran and Baha'u'llah had been exiled to Baghdad, He, with infinite loving-kindness and mercy, awakened me from the sleep of heedlessness, and Himself taught me the message of the New Day, washing away with the waters of Divine forgiveness the stains of that cruel act."


This episode marks the first affliction which befell a disciple of the Bab after the declaration of His mission. Mulla 'Ali realised from this experience how steep and thorny was the path leading to his eventual attainment of the promise given him by his Master. Wholly resigned to His will, and prepared to shed his life-blood for His Cause, he resumed his journey until he arrived at Najaf. In the presence of Shaykh Muhammad-Hasan, one of the most celebrated ecclesiastics of shi'ah Islam, and in the face of a distinguished company of his disciples, Mulla 'Ali announced fearlessly the manifestation of the Bab, the Gate whose advent they were eagerly awaiting. "His proof," he declared, "is His Word; His testimony, none other than the testimony with which Islam seeks to vindicate its truth. From the pen of this unschooled Hashimite Youth of Persia there have streamed, within the space of forty-eight hours, as great a number of verses, of prayers, of homilies, and scientific treatises, as would equal in volume the whole of the Qur'an, which it took Muhammad, the Prophet of God, twenty-three years to reveal!" That proud and fanatic leader, instead of welcoming, in an age of darkness and prejudice, these life-giving evidences of a new-born Revelation, forthwith pronounced Mulla 'Ali a heretic and expelled him from the assembly. His disciples and followers, even the Shaykhis, who already testified to Mulla 'Ali's piety, sincerity, and learning, endorsed, unhesitatingly, [91] the judgment against him. The disciples of Shaykh Muhammad-Hasan, joining hands with their adversaries, heaped upon him untold indignities. They eventually delivered him, his hands bound in chains, to an official of the Ottoman government, arraigning him as a wrecker of Islam, a calumniator of the Prophet, an instigator of mischief, a disgrace to the Faith, and worthy of the penalty of death. He was taken to Baghdad under the escort of government officials, and was cast into prison by the governor of that city.


Haji Hashim, surnamed 'Attar, a prominent merchant, who was well versed in the Scriptures of Islam, recounted the following: "I was present at Government House on one occasion when Mulla 'Ali was summoned to the presence of the assembled notables and government officials of that city. He was publicly accused of being an infidel, an abrogator of the laws of Islam, and a repudiator of its rituals and accepted standards. When his alleged offences and misdeeds had been enumerated, the Mufti, the chief exponent of the law of Islam in that city, turned to him and said: 'O enemy of God!' As I was occupying a seat beside the Mufti, I whispered in his ear: 'You are as yet unacquainted with this unfortunate stranger. Why address him in such terms? Do you not realise that such words as you have addressed to him will excite the anger of the populace against him? It behoves you to disregard the unsupported charges these busybodies have brought against him, to question him yourself, and to judge him according to the accepted standards of justice inculcated by the Faith of Islam.' The Mufti was sore displeased, arose from his seat, and left the gathering. Mulla 'Ali was again thrown into prison. A few days later, I enquired about him, hoping to achieve his deliverance. I was informed that, on the night of that same day, he had been deported to Constantinople. I made further enquiries and endeavoured to find out what eventually befell him. I could not, however, ascertain the truth. A few believed that on his way to Constantinople he had fallen ill and died. Others maintained that he had suffered martyrdom."42 Whatever [92] his end, Mulla 'Ali had by his life and death earned the immortal distinction of having been the first sufferer in the path of this new Faith of God, the first to have laid down his life as an offering on the Altar of Sacrifice.


Having sent forth Mulla 'Ali on his mission, the Bab summoned to His presence the remaining Letters of the Living, and to each severally He gave a special command and appointed a special task. He addressed to them these parting words: "O My beloved friends! You are the bearers of the name of God in this Day. You have been chosen as the repositories of His mystery. It behoves each one of you to manifest the attributes of God, and to exemplify by your deeds and words the signs of His righteousness, His power and glory. The very members of your body must bear witness to the loftiness of your purpose, the integrity of your life, the reality of your faith, and the exalted character of your devotion. For verily I say, this is the Day spoken of by God in His Book:43 'On that day will We set a seal upon their mouths; yet shall their hands speak unto Us, and their feet shall bear witness to that which they shall have done.' Ponder the words of Jesus addressed to His disciples, as He sent them forth to propagate the Cause of God. In words such as these, He bade them arise and fulfil their mission: 'Ye are even as the fire which in the darkness of the night has been kindled upon the mountain-top. Let your light shine before the eyes of men. Such must be the purity of your character and the degree of your renunciation, that the people of the earth may through you recognise and be drawn closer to the heavenly Father who is the Source of purity and grace. For none has seen the Father who is in heaven. You who are His spiritual children must by your deeds exemplify His virtues, and witness to His glory. You are the salt of the earth, but if the salt have lost its savour, wherewith shall it be salted? Such must be the degree of your detachment, that into whatever city you enter to proclaim and teach the Cause of God, you should in no wise expect either meat or reward from its people. Nay, when you depart out of that city, you should shake the dust from off your feet. As you have entered it pure and [93] undefiled, so must you depart from that city. For verily I say, the heavenly Father is ever with you and keeps watch over you. If you be faithful to Him, He will assuredly deliver into your hands all the treasures of the earth, and will exalt you above all the rulers and kings of the world.' O My Letters! Verily I say, immensely exalted is this Day above the days of the Apostles of old. Nay, immeasurable is the difference! You are the witnesses of the Dawn of the promised Day of God. You are the partakers of the mystic chalice of His Revelation. Gird up the loins of endeavour, and be mindful of the words of God as revealed in His Book:44 'Lo, the Lord thy God is come, and with Him is the company of His angels arrayed before Him!' Purge your hearts of worldly desires, and let angelic virtues be your adorning. Strive that by your deeds you may bear witness to the truth of these words of God, and beware lest, by 'turning back,' He may 'change you for another people,' who 'shall not be your like,' and who shall take from you the Kingdom of God. The days when idle worship was deemed sufficient are ended. The time is come when naught but the purest motive, supported by deeds of stainless purity, can ascend to the throne of the Most High and be acceptable unto Him. 'The good word riseth up unto Him, and the righteous deed will cause it to be exalted before Him.' You are the lowly, of whom God has thus spoken in His Book:45 "And We desire to show favour to those who were brought low in the land, and to make them spiritual leaders among men, and to make them Our heirs.' You have been called to this station; you will attain to it, only if you arise to trample beneath your feet every earthly desire, and endeavour to become those 'honoured servants of His who speak not till He hath spoken, and who do His bidding.' You are the first Letters that have been generated from the Primal Point,46 the first Springs that have welled out from the Source of this Revelation. Beseech the Lord your God to grant that no earthly entanglements, no worldly affections, no ephemeral pursuits, may tarnish the purity, or embitter the sweetness, of that grace which flows through you. I am preparing you for the advent of a mighty Day. Exert your utmost endeavour that, in the world to come, I, who am now instructing you, may, before the mercy-seat of [94] God, rejoice in your deeds and glory in your achievements. The secret of the Day that is to come is now concealed. It can neither be divulged nor estimated. The newly born babe of that Day excels the wisest and most venerable men of this time, and the lowliest and most unlearned of that period shall surpass in understanding the most erudite and accomplished divines of this age. Scatter throughout the length and breadth of this land, and, with steadfast feet and sanctified hearts, prepare the way for His coming. Heed not your weaknesses and frailty; fix your gaze upon the invincible power of the Lord, your God, the Almighty. Has He not, in past days, caused Abraham, in spite of His seeming helplessness, to triumph over the forces of Nimrod? Has He not enabled Moses, whose staff was His only companion, to vanquish Pharaoh and his hosts? Has He not established the ascendancy of Jesus, poor and lowly as He was in the eyes of men, over the combined forces of the Jewish people? Has He not subjected the barbarous and militant tribes of Arabia to the holy and transforming discipline of Muhammad, His Prophet? Arise in His name, put your trust wholly in Him, and be assured of ultimate victory."47


With such words the Bab quickened the faith of His disciples and launched them upon their mission. To each He assigned his own native province as the field of his labours. He directed them each and all to refrain from specific references to His own name and person.48 He instructed them to raise the call that the Gate to the Promised One has been opened, that His proof is irrefutable, and that His testimony is complete. He bade them declare that whoever believes in Him has believed in all the prophets of God, and that whoever denies Him has denied all His saints and His chosen 


[96] ones. With these instructions He dismissed them from His presence and committed them to the care of God. Of these Letters of the Living, whom He thus addressed, there remained with Him in Shiraz Mulla Husayn, the first of these Letters, and Quddus, the last. The rest, fourteen in number, set out, at the hour of dawn, from Shiraz, each resolved to carry out, in its entirety, the task with which he had been entrusted.


To Mulla Husayn, as the hour of his departure approached, the Bab addressed these words: "Grieve not that you have not been chosen to accompany Me on My pilgrimage to Hijaz. I shall, instead, direct your steps to that city which enshrines a Mystery of such transcendent holiness as neither Hijaz nor Shiraz can hope to rival. My hope is that you may, by the aid of God, be enabled to remove the veils from the eyes of the wayward and to cleanse the minds of the malevolent. Visit, on your way, Isfahan, Kashan, Tihran, and Khurasan. Proceed thence to Iraq, and there await the summons of your Lord, who will keep watch over you and will direct you to whatsoever is His will and desire. As to Myself, I shall, accompanied by Quddus and My Ethiopian servant, proceed on My pilgrimage to Hijaz. I shall join the company of the pilgrims of Fars, who will shortly be sailing for that land. I shall visit Mecca and Medina, and there fulfil the mission with which God has entrusted Me. God willing, I shall return hither by the way of Kufih, in which place I hope to meet you. If it be decreed otherwise, I shall ask you to join Me in Shiraz. The hosts of the invisible Kingdom, be assured, will sustain and reinforce your efforts. The essence of power is now dwelling in you, and the company of His chosen angels revolves around you. His almighty arms will surround you, and His unfailing Spirit will ever continue to guide your steps. He that loves you, loves God; and whoever opposes you, has opposed God. Whoso befriends you, him will God befriend; and whoso rejects you, him will God reject."


FOOTNOTES


3.1. "Mulla Husayn-i-Bushru'i was a man whose great learning and strength of character were acknowledged even by his enemies. He had devoted himself to study from early childhood and his progress in theology and jurisprudence had won him no little consideration." (Comte de Gobineau's "Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale," p. 128.) 


3.2. January 22, 1844 A.D.


3.3. Qur'an, 29:69.


3.4. Qur'an, 15:46.


3.5. Tea-urn.


3.6. Corresponding with the evening of May 22, 1844 A.D. The 23rd of May fell on a Thursday.


3.7. "Mulla Husayn is reported to have said the following: "One day, when I was alone with the late Siyyid [Kazim] in his library, I enquired the reason why the Suriy-i-Yusuf was entitled in the Qur'an 'the Best of Stories,' to which he replied that it was not then the proper occasion for explaining the reason. This incident remained concealed in my mind, neither had I mentioned it to anyone." ("The Tarikh-i-Jadid," p. 39.)


3.8. The date of the Manifestation is fixed by the following passage in the Persian Bayan [Vahid 2, Bab 7): "The beginning thereof was when two hours and eleven minutes [had passed] from the evening preceding the fifth of Jamadiyu'l-Ula, 1260 [A.H.], which is the year 1270 of the mission [of Muhammad]." (From manuscript copy of Bayan written by the hand of Siyyid Husayn, amanuensis and companion of the Bab.)


3.9. A. L. M. Nicolas quotes the following from the Kitabu'l-Haramayn: "In truth, the first day that the Spirit descended in the heart of this Slave was the fifteenth of the month of Rabi'u'l-Avval." (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab," p. 206.) 


3.10. Quotations from the Qur'an.


3.11. The Bab's commentary on the Surih of Joseph. 


3.12. "In the first of his books he was, above all, pious and mystical; in the second, polemics and dialectics held an important place, and his listeners noticed that he unfolded, from a chapter in the Book of God which he had chosen, a new meaning which no one had heretofore perceived and especially that he drew from it doctrines and information wholly unexpected. That which one never tired of admiring was the elegance and beauty of the Arabic style used in those writings. They soon had enthusiastic admirers who did not fear to prefer them to the finest passages in the Qur'an." (Comte de Gobineau's "Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale," p. 120.) 


3.13. Qur'an, 37:180.


3.14. "It is related in the 'Biharu'l-Anvar,' the 'Avalim,' and the 'Yanbu" of Sadiq, son of Muhammad, that he spoke these words: 'Knowledge is seven and twenty letters. All that the Prophets have revealed are two letters thereof. None thus far hath known any besides these two letters. But when the Qa'im shall arise, He will cause the remaining five and twenty letters to be made manifest.' Consider: he hath declared Knowledge to consist of seven and twenty letters, and regarded all the Prophets, from Adam even unto the 'Seal,' as Expounders of only two letters thereof, and as having been sent down with these two letters. He also saith that the Qa'im will reveal all the remaining five and twenty letters. Behold from this utterance how great and lofty is His station. His rank excelleth that of all the Prophets, and His Revelation transcendeth the comprehension and understanding of all their chosen ones." ("The Kitab-i-Iqan," p. 205.)


3.15. "Understand in the same way the beginning of the manifestation of the Bayan during forty days no one but the letter Sin believed in B. It was only, little by little, that the Bismi'llahu'l-Amna'u'l-Aqdas clothed themselves with the garment of faith until finally the Primal Unity was completed. Witness then how it has increased until our day." ("Le Bayan Persan," vol. 4, p. 119.)


3.16. The father of Quddus, according to the "Kashfu'l-Ghita'," died several years before the Manifestation of the Bab. At the time of the death of his father, Quddus was still a boy studying in Mashhad in the school of Mirza Ja'far. (P. 227, note 1.)


3.17. He is also known by the following designations: 

Siyyid-i-Dhikr 

'Abdu'dh-Dhikr 

Babu'llah 

Nuqtiy-i-Ula 

Tal'at-i-A'la 

Hadrat-i-A'la 

Rabb-i-A'la 

Nuqtiy-i-Bayan

Siyyid-i-Bab 


3.18. October 20, 1819 A.D. 


3.19. According to Mirza Abu'l-Fadl (manuscript on history of the Cause, p. 3), the Bab was still an infant, and had not yet been weaned, when His father passed away.


3.20. According to Mirza Abu'l-Fadl (manuscript, p. 41), the Bab was six or seven years of age when He entered the school of Shaykh 'Abid. The school was known by the name of "Qahviyih-Awliya." The Bab remained five years at that school, where He was taught the rudiments of Persian. On the first day of the month of Rabi'u'l-Avval, in the year 1257 A.H., He left for Najaf and Karbila, returning seven months after to His native province of Fars. 


3.21. In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful. 


3.22 "The Lord of the Age," one of the titles of the promised Qa'im.


3.23. According to Haji Mu'inu's-Saltanih's narrative (p. 37), the Bab assumed at the age of twenty the independent direction of His business affairs. "Orphaned at an early age, he was placed under the tutelage of his maternal uncle, Aqa Siyyid 'Ali, under whose direction he entered the same trade in which his father had been engaged (that is to say, the mercantile business)." (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab," p. 189.) 


3.24. According to Haji Mu'inu's-Saltanih's narrative (p. 37), the Bab's marriage took place when He was twenty-two years of age. 


3.25. The Bab refers to her in his commentary on the Surih of Joseph (Surih of Qarabat). The following is A. L. M. Nicolas' translation of the passage in question: "In truth I have become betrothed before the throne of God with Sara, that is to say, the dearly beloved, because 'dearly beloved' is derived from Dearly Beloved (the Dearly Beloved is Muhammad which signifies that Sara was a Siyyid). In truth I have taken the angels of heaven and those who dwell in Paradise as witnesses of our betrothal. "Know that the benevolence of the Dhikr Sublime is great, O dearly beloved! Because it is the benevolence which comes from God, the Beloved. Thou art not like other women if thou obeyest God with regard to the Dhikr Sublime. Know the great truth of the Holy Word and glory within thyself that thou art seated with the friend who is the Favorite of the Most High God. Truly the glory comes to thee from God, the Wise. Be patient in the command which comes from God concerning the Bab and his family. Verily, thy son Ahmad has a refuge in the blessed heaven close to the great Fatimih!" (Preface to A. L. M. Nicolas' "Le Bayan Persan," vol. 2, pp. 10-11.) "The Bab's widow survived till A.H. 1300 (1882-83)." (Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1889, article 12, p. 993) Both were the sons of Mirza 'Ali, who was the paternal uncle of the mother of the Bab. Mirza Muhsin and Mirza Hadi, respectively the son and grandson of Mirza Siyyid Hasan and Mirza Abu'l-Qasim, became sons-in-law of 'Abdul-Baha. 


3.26. The Bab refers to His son in His commentary on the Surih of Joseph. The following is A. L. M. Nicolas' translation: "In truth, thy son Ahmad has a refuge in the Blessed Paradise near to the Great Fatimih." (Surih of Qarabat.) "Glory be to God Who in truth has given to the 'Delight of the Eyes,' in her youth, a son who is named Ahmad. Verily, we have reared this child toward God!" (Surih of 'Abd.) (Preface to A. L. M. Nicolas' "Le Bayan Persan," vol. 2, p. 11.) 


3.27. 1843 A.D.


3.28. "He left Shiraz for Bushihr at the age of 17, and remained there for five years engaged in commercial pursuits. During this time he won the esteem of all the merchants with whom he was brought in contact, by his integrity and piety. He was extremely attentive to his religious duties, and gave away large sums to charity. On one occasion he gave 70 tumans [about 22 British pounds] to a poor neighbour." (Appendix 2 of Tarikh-i-Jadid: Haji Mirza Jani's History, pp. 343-4.) 


3.29. "He was already predisposed to meditation and inclined to be silent, while his fine face, the radiance of his glance as well as his modest and contemplative mien drew, even at that early date, the attention of his fellow-citizens. Though very young, he felt an invincible attraction to matters of religion, for he was barely nineteen when he wrote his first work, the 'risaliy-i-Fiqhiyyih' in which he reveals a true piety and an Islamic effusion, which seemed to predict a brilliant future within the law of Shiite orthodoxy. It is probable that this work was written at Bushihr, for he was sent there by his uncle at the age of eighteen or nineteen to look after his business interests." (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab," pp. 189-190.)


3.30. "In society he held converse preferably with the learned or listened to the tales of travelers who congregated in this commercial city. This is why he was generally considered to be one of the followers of Tariqat who were held in high esteem by the people." (Journal Asiatique, 1866, tome 7, p. 335.) 


3.31. "The Kashfu'l-Ghita'" gives the following particulars regarding this remarkable person: "Haji Siyyid Javad himself informed me that he was a resident of Karbila, that his cousins were well known among the recognised ulamas and doctors of the law in that city, and belonged to the Ithna-'Ashari sect of Shi'ah Islam. In his youth he met Shaykh Ahmad-i-Ahsa'i, but was never regarded as his disciple. He was, however, an avowed follower and supporter of Siyyid Kazim, and ranked among his foremost adherents. He met the Bab in Shiraz, long before the date of the latter's Manifestation. He saw Him on several occasions, when the Bab was only eight or nine years old, in the house of His maternal uncle. He subsequently met Him in Bushihr and stayed for about six months in the same khan in which the Bab and His maternal uncle were residing. Mulla 'Aliy-i-Bastami, one of the Letters of the Living, acquainted him with the Message of the Bab, while in Karbila, from which city he proceeded to Shiraz in order to inform himself more fully of the nature of His Revelation." (pp. 55-7.) 


3.32. "[The] Bab possessed a mild and benignant countenance, his manners were composed and dignified, his eloquence was impressive, and he wrote rapidly and well." (Lady Sheil's "Glimpses of Life and Manners in Persia," p. 178.) 


3.33. "Withdrawn within himself, always absorbed in pious practices, of extreme simplicity of manner, of a fascinating gentleness, those gifts further heightened by his great youth and his marvellous charm, he drew about himself a number of persons who were deeply edified. People then began to speak of his science and of the penetrating eloquence of his discourses. He could not open his lips (we are assured by those who knew him) without stirring the hearts to their very depths. "Speaking, moreover, with a profound reverence regarding the Prophet, the Imams and their holy companions, he fascinated the severely orthodox while, at the same time, in more intimate addresses, the more ardent and eager minds were happy to find that there was no rigidity in his profession of traditional opinions which they would have found boring. His conversations, on the contrary, opened before them unlimited horizons, varied, colored, mysterious, with shadows broken here and there by patches of blinding light which transported those imaginative people of Persia into a state of ecstasy." (Comte de Gobineau's "Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale," p. 118.)


3.34. According to Samandar, who was one of the early believers of Qazvin (manuscript, p. 15), Tahirih's sister, Mardiyyih, was the wife of Mirza Muhammad-'Ali, who was one of the Letters of the Living, and who suffered martyrdom at Shaykh Tabarsi. Mardiyyih appears to have recognised and embraced the Message of the Bab (p. 5). Mirza Muhammad-'Ali was the son of Haji Mulla 'Abdu'l-Vahhab, to whom the Bab addressed a Tablet while in the neighbourhood of Qazvin. 


3.35. According to the "Memorials of the Faithful" (pp. 291-8), Tahirih had two sons and one daughter, none of whom recognised the truth of the Cause. Such was the degree of her knowledge and attainments, that her father, Haji Mulla Salih, often expressed his regret in the following terms: "Would that she had been a boy, for he would have shed illumination upon my household, and would have succeeded me!" She became acquainted with the writings of Shaykh Ahmad while staying in the home of her cousin, Mulla Javad, from whose library she borrowed these books, and took them over to her home. Her father raised violent objections to her action and, in his heated discussions with her, denounced and criticised the teachings of Shaykh Ahmad. Tahirih refused to heed the counsels of her father, and engaged in secret correspondence with Siyyid Kazim, who conferred upon her the name of "Qurratu'l-'Ayn." The title of "Tahirih" was first associated with her name while she was staying in Badasht, and was subsequently approved by the Bab. From Qazvin she left for Karbila, hoping to meet Siyyid Kazim, but arrived too late, the Siyyid having passed away ten days before her arrival. She joined the companions of the departed leader, and spent her time in prayer and meditation, eagerly expecting the appearance of Him whose advent Siyyid Kazim had foretold. While in that city, she dreamed a dream. A youth, a Siyyid, wearing a black cloak and a green turban, appeared to her in the heavens, who with upraised hands was reciting certain verses, one of which she noted down in her book. She awoke from her dream greatly impressed by her strange experience. When, later on, a copy of the "Ahsanu'l-Qisas," the Bab's commentary on the Surih of Joseph, reached her, she, to her intense delight, discovered that same verse which she had heard in her dream in that book. That discovery assured her of the truth of the Message which the author of that work had proclaimed. She herself undertook the translation of the "Ahsanu'l-Qisas" into Persian, and exerted the utmost effort for its spread and interpretation. For three months her house in Karbila was besieged by the guards whom the Governor had appointed to watch and prevent her from associating with the people. From Karbila she proceeded to Baghdad, and lived for a time in the house of Shaykh Muhammad-i-Shibl, from which place she transferred her residence to another quarter, and was eventually taken to the home of the Mufti, where she stayed for about three months.


3.36. According to the "Kashfu'l-Ghita'" (p. 93), Tahirih was informed of the Message of the Bab by Mulla 'Aliy-i-Bastami, who visited Karbila in the year 1260 A.H., after his return from Shiraz. 


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


3.38. Third Martyr.


3.39. "Mulla Salih had among his children a daughter, Zarrin-Taj (Crown of Gold), who had attracted attention from early childhood. Instead of taking part in games and amusements like her companions, she passed hours at a time listening to her parents discuss religious matters. Her keen intelligence quickly perceived the fallacies of Islamic science without succumbing to it and soon she was able to discuss points which were most obscure and confusing. The Hadiths (traditions) held no secrets for her. Her reputation soon became widely known in the city and her fellow-citizens considered her a prodigy, and justly so. A prodigy in science, also a prodigy of beauty, for the child, as she grew to girlhood, possessed a face which shone with such radiant beauty that they named her 'Qurratu'l-'Ayn', which M. de Gobineau translates as 'The Consolation of the Eyes.' Her brother 'Abdu'l-Vahhab-i-Qazvini who inherited the learning and reputation of his father, himself relates, in spite of the fact that he remained, at least in appearance, a Muhammadan: 'None of us, her brothers or her cousins dared to speak in her presence, her learning so intimidated us, and if we ventured to express some hypothesis upon a disputed point of doctrine, she demonstrated in such a clear, precise and conclusive manner that we were going astray, that we instantly withdrew confused.' "She was present at her father's and uncle's classes, in the same room with two or three hundred students, but always concealed behind a curtain, and more than once she refuted the explanation that these two elderly men offered upon such and such a question. Her reputation became universal throughout all Persia, and the most haughty Ulamas consented to adopt some of her hypotheses and opinions. This fact is all the more extraordinary because the Shiite Muhammadan religion relegates the woman almost to the level of the animal. They consider that she has no soul and exists merely for reproduction. "Qurratu'l-'Ayn married, when still quite young, the son of her uncle, Muhammad-i-Qazvini who was the Imam-Jum'ih of the city and later she went to Karbila where she attended the classes of Siyyid Kazim-i-Rashti. She shared with enthusiasm the ideas of her Master, ideas with which she was already familiar, the city of Qazvin having become a center for the Shaykhi doctrine. "She was, as we shall see later, of an ardent temperament, of a precise and clear intelligence, of a marvellous presence of mind and indomitable courage. All of these qualities combined were to bring her to take interest in the Bab whom she heard speak immediately after his return to Qazvin. That which she learned interested her so vitally that she began corresponding with the Reformer and soon, convinced by him, she made known her conversion urbi et orbi. The scandal was very great and the clergy were shocked. In vain, her husband, her father and her brothers pleaded with her to renounce this dangerous madness, but she remained inflexible and proclaimed resolutely her faith." (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab," pp. 273-274.)


3.40. "'This name comes to them,' said Haji Karim Khan in his Hidayatu't-Talibin, 'from the fact that the late Shaykh Ahmad, being at Karbila during his pilgrimages to the holy tombs, and out of respect for the Imams, recited his prayers standing behind the Imam, that is to say, at his feet. In fact, for him there was no difference between the respect to be tendered to a dead Imam or a living Imam. The Persians, on the contrary, when entering into the tomb, placed themselves at the head of the Imam and consequently turned their backs to him when they prayed because the dead saints are buried with their heads towards the Qiblih. This is a disgrace and a lie! The apostles of Jesus pretending to have come to the assistance of God, were called 'Nasara,' a name which was given to all those who followed in their footsteps. It is thus that the name of Bala-Sari extended to all that follow the doctrine of those who pray standing at the head of the Imam.'" (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Essai sur le Shaykhisme," I, preface, pp. 5-6.)


3.41. 1850-51 A.D.


3.42. According to Muhammad Mustafa (p. 106), Mulla 'Ali suffered six months' imprisonment in Baghdad by order of Najib Pasha, the governor of the city. He was thence ordered to leave for Constantinople, according to instructions received from the Ottoman government. He passed through Mosul, where he was able to awaken interest in the new Revelation. His friends were, however, unable to discover whether he eventually reached his destination.


3.43. The Qur'an.


3.44. The Qur'an. 


3.45. The Qur'an. 


3.46. One of the Bab's titles.


3.47. The Bab refers to the Letters of the Living in the Persian Bayan (Vahid 1, Bab 2) in the following terms: "All of these formed the name of the Living One, for these are the names that are the nearest to God; the others are guided by their clear and significant actions, for God began the creation of the Bayan through them, and it is to them that the creation of the Bayan will again return. They are the lights which in the past have eternally prostrated themselves and will prostrate themselves eternally in the future, before the celestial throne." ("Le Bayan Persan," vol. 1, pp. 24-25.) 


3.48. A. L. M. Nicolas, in his introduction to volume 1 of "Le Bayan Persan" (pp. 3-5), writes as follows: "Everyone agrees in acknowledging that it would be absolutely impossible for him to proclaim loudly his doctrine or to spread it among men. He had to act as does a physician to children, who must disguise a bitter medicine in a sweet coating in order to win over his young patients. The people in the midst of whom he appeared were, and still are, alas, more fanatical than the Jews were at the time of Jesus, when the majesty of Roman peace was no longer there to put a stop to the furious excesses of religious madness of an over-excited people. Therefore, if Christ, in spite of the relative calm of the surroundings in which He preached, thought it necessary to employ the parable, Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad, a fortiori, was obliged to disguise his thought in numerous circuitous ways and only pour out, one drop at a time, the filter of his divine truths. He brings up his child, Humanity; he guides it, endeavoring always not to frighten it and directs its first steps on a path which leads it slowly but surely, so that, as soon as it can proceed alone, it reaches the goal pre-ordained for it from all eternity."



CHAPTER IV

MULLA HUSAYN'S JOURNEY TO TIHRAN


[97] With these noble words ringing in his ears, Mulla Husayn embarked upon his perilous enterprise. Wherever he went, to whatever class of people he addressed himself, he delivered fearlessly and without reserve the Message with which his beloved Master had entrusted him. Arriving in Isfahan, he established himself in the madrisih of Nim-Avard. Around him gathered those who on his previous visit to that city had known him as the favoured messenger of Siyyid Kazim to the eminent mujtahid, Haji Siyyid Muhammad-Baqir.1 He, being now dead, had been succeeded by his son, who had just returned from Najaf and was now established upon the seat of his father. Haji Muhammad-Ibrahim-i-Kalbasi had also fallen seriously ill, and was on the verge of death. The disciples of the late Haji Siyyid Muhammad-Baqir, now freed from the restraining influence of their departed teacher, and alarmed at the strange doctrines which Mulla Husayn was propounding, vehemently denounced him to Haji Siyyid Asadu'llah, the son of the late Haji Siyyid Muhammad-Baqir. "Mulla Husayn," they complained, "was able, in the course of his last visit, to win the support of your illustrious father to the cause of Shaykh Ahmad. No one among the Siyyid's helpless disciples dared to oppose him. He now comes as the upholder of a still more formidable opponent and is pleading His Cause with still greater vehemence and vigour. He is persistently claiming that He whose Cause he now champions is the Revealer of a Book which is divinely inspired, and which bears a striking resemblance to the tone [98] and language of the Qur'an. In the face of the people of this city, he has flung these challenging words: 'Produce one like it, if you are men of truth.' The day is fast approaching when the whole of Isfahan will have embraced his Cause!" Haji Siyyid Asadu'llah returned evasive answers to their complaints. "What am I to say?" he was at last forced to reply. "Do you not yourselves admit that Mulla Husayn has, by his eloquence and the cogency of his argument, silenced a man no less great than my illustrious father? How can I, then, who am so inferior to him in merit and knowledge, presume to challenge what he has already approved? Let each man dispassionately examine these claims. If he be satisfied, well and good; if not, let him observe silence, and not incur the risk of discrediting the fair name of our Faith."


Finding that their efforts had failed to influence Haji Siyyid Asadu'llah, his disciples referred the matter to Haji Muhammad-Ibrahim-i-Kalbasi. "Woe betide us," they loudly protested, "for the enemy has risen to disrupt the holy Faith of Islam!" In lurid and exaggerated language, they stressed the challenging character of the ideas propounded by Mulla Husayn. "Hold your peace," replied Haji Muhammad-Ibrahim. "Mulla Husayn is not the person to be duped by anyone, nor can he fall a victim to dangerous heresies. If your contention be true, if Mulla Husayn has indeed espoused a new Faith, it is unquestionably your first obligation to enquire dispassionately into the character of his teachings, and to refrain from denouncing him without previous and careful scrutiny. If my health and strength be restored, it is my intention, God willing, to investigate the matter myself, and to ascertain the truth."


This severe rebuke, pronounced by Haji Kalbasi, greatly disconcerted the disciples of Haji Siyyid Asadu'llah. In their dismay they appealed to Manuchihr Khan, the Mu'tamidu'd-Dawlih, the governor of the city. That wise and judicious ruler refused to interfere in these matters, which he said fell exclusively within the jurisdiction of the ulamas. He warned them to abstain from mischief and to cease disturbing the peace and tranquillity of the messenger. His trenchant words shattered the hopes of the mischief-makers. Mulla Husayn was thereby relieved from the machinations [99] of his enemies, and, for a time, pursued untrammelled the course of his labours.


The first to embrace the Cause of the Bab in that city was a man, a sifter of wheat, who, as soon as the Call reached his ears, unreservedly accepted the Message. With marvellous devotion he served Mulla Husayn, and through his close association with him became a zealous advocate of the new Revelation. A few years later, when the soul-stirring details of the siege of the fort of Shaykh Tabarsi were being recounted to him, he felt an irresistible impulse to throw in his lot with those heroic companions of the Bab who had risen for the defence of their Faith. Carrying his sieve in his hand, he immediately arose and set out to reach the scene of that memorable encounter. "Why leave so hurriedly?" his friends asked him, as they saw him running in a state of intense excitement through the bazaars of Isfahan. "I have risen," he replied, "to join the glorious company of the defenders of the fort of Shaykh Tabarsi! With this sieve which I carry with me, I intend to sift the people in every city through which I pass. Whomsoever I find ready to espouse the Cause I have embraced, I will ask to join me and hasten forthwith to the field of martyrdom." Such was the devotion of this youth, that the Bab, in the Persian Bayan, refers to him in such terms: "Isfahan, that outstanding city, is distinguished by the religious fervour of its shi'ah inhabitants, by the learning of its divines, and by the keen expectation, shared by high and low alike, of the imminent coming of the Sahibu'z-Zaman. In every quarter of that city, religious institutions have been established. And yet, when the Messenger of God had been made manifest, they who claimed to be the repositories of learning and the expounders of the mysteries of the Faith of God rejected His Message. Of all the inhabitants of that seat of learning, only one person, a sifter of wheat, was found to recognise the Truth, and was invested with the robe of Divine virtue!"2 


[100] Among the siyyids of Isfahan, a few, such as Mirza Muhammad-'Aliy-i-Nahri, whose daughter was subsequently joined in wedlock with the Most Great Branch,3 Mirza Hadi, the brother of Mirza Muhammad-'Ali, and Mirza Muhammad-Riday-i-Pa-Qal'iyi, recognised the truth of the Cause. Mulla Sadiq-i-Khurasani, formerly known as Muqaddas, and surnamed by Baha'u'llah, Ismu'llahu'l-Asdaq, who, according to the instructions of Siyyid Kazim, had during the last five years been residing in Isfahan and had been preparing the way for the advent of the new Revelation, was also among the first believers who identified themselves with the Message proclaimed by the Bab.4 As soon as he learned of the arrival of Mulla Husayn in Isfahan, he hastened to meet him. He gives the following account of his first interview, which took place at night in the home of Mirza Muhammad-'Aliy-i-Nahri: "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, 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 [101] 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.'"5


From Isfahan, Mulla Husayn proceeded to Kashan. The first to be enrolled in that city among the company of the faithful was a certain Haji Mirza Jani, surnamed Par-Pa, who was a merchant of note.6 Among the friends of Mulla Husayn was a well-known divine, Siyyid 'Abdu'l-Baqi, a resident of Kashan and a member of the shaykhi community. Although intimately associated with Mulla Husayn during his stay in Najaf and Karbila, the Siyyid felt unable to sacrifice rank and leadership for the Message which his friend had brought him.


Arriving in Qum, Mulla Husayn found its people utterly unprepared to heed his call. The seeds he sowed among them did not germinate until the time when Baha'u'llah was exiled to Baghdad. In those days Haji Mirza Musa, a native of Qum, embraced the Faith, journeyed to Baghdad, and there met Baha'u'llah. He eventually quaffed the cup of martyrdom in His path.


From Qum, Mulla Husayn proceeded directly to Tihran. He lived, during his stay in the capital, in one of the rooms [102] which belonged to the madrisih of Mirza Salih, better known as the madrisih of Pay-i-Minar. Haji Mirza Muhammad-i-Khurasani, the leader of the shaykhi community of Tihran, who acted as an instructor in that institution, 


was approached by Mulla Husayn but failed to respond to his invitation to accept the Message. "We had cherished the hope," he said to Mulla Husayn, "that after the death of Siyyid Kazim you would strive to promote the best interests of the shaykhi community and would deliver it from the [103] obscurity into which it has sunk. You seem, however, to have betrayed its cause. You have shattered our fondest expectations. If you persist in disseminating these subversive doctrines, you will eventually extinguish the remnants of the shaykhis in this city." Mulla Husayn assured him that he had no intention of prolonging his stay in Tihran, that his aim was in no wise to abase or suppress the teachings inculcated by Shaykh Ahmad and Siyyid Kazim.7



During his stay in Tihran, Mulla Husayn each day would leave his room early in the morning and would return to it only an hour after sunset. Upon his return he would quietly and alone re-enter his room, close the door behind him, and [104] remain in the privacy of his cell until the next day.8 Mirza Musa, Aqay-i-Kalim, the brother of Baha'u'llah, recounted to me the following: "I have heard Mulla Muhammad-i-Mu'allim, a native of Nur, in the province of Mazindaran, who was a fervent admirer of both Shaykh Ahmad and Siyyid Kazim, relate this story: 'I was in those days recognised as one of the favoured disciples of Haji Mirza Muhammad, and lived in the same school in which he taught. My room adjoined his room, and we were closely associated together. On the day that he was engaged in discussion with Mulla Husayn, I overheard their conversation from beginning to end, and was deeply affected by the ardour, the fluency, and learning of that youthful stranger. I was surprised at the evasive answers, the arrogance, and contemptuous behaviour of Haji Mirza Muhammad. That day I felt strongly attracted by the charm of that youth, and deeply resented the unseemly conduct of my teacher towards him. I concealed my feelings, however, and pretended to ignore his discussions with Mulla Husayn. I was seized with a passionate desire to meet the latter, and ventured, at the hour of midnight, to visit him. He did not expect me, but I knocked at his door, and found him awake seated beside his lamp. He received me affectionately, and spoke to me with extreme courtesy and tenderness. I unburdened my heart to him, and as I was addressing him, tears, which I could not repress, flowed from my eyes. "I can now see," he said, "the reason why I have chosen to dwell in this place. Your teacher has contemptuously rejected this Message and despised its Author. My hope is that his pupil may, unlike his master, recognise its truth. What is your name, and which city is your home?" "My name," I replied, "is Mulla Muhammad, and my surname Mu'allim. My home is Nur, in the province of Mazindaran." "Tell me," further enquired Mulla Husayn, "is there to-day among the family of the late Mirza Buzurg-i-Nuri, who was so renowned for his character, his charm, and artistic and intellectual attainments, anyone who has proved himself capable of maintaining the high traditions of that [105] illustrious house?" "Yea," I replied, "among his sons now living, one has distinguished Himself by the very traits which characterised His father. By His virtuous life, His high 


attainments, His loving-kindness and liberality, He has proved Himself a noble descendant of a noble father." "What is His occupation?" he asked me. "He cheers the disconsolate [106] and feeds the hungry," I replied. "What of His rank and position?" "He has none," I said, "apart from befriending the poor and the stranger." "What is His name?" "Husayn-'Ali." "In which of the scripts of His father does He excel?" "His favourite script is shikastih-nasta'liq." "How does He spend His time?" "He roams the woods and delights in the beauties of the countryside."9 "What is His age?" "Eight and twenty." The eagerness with which Mulla Husayn questioned me, and the sense of delight with which he welcomed every particular I gave him, greatly surprised me. Turning to me, with his face beaming with satisfaction and joy, he once more enquired: "I presume you often meet Him?" "I frequently visit His home," I replied. "Will you," he said, "deliver into His hands a trust from me?" "Most assuredly," was my reply. He then gave me a scroll wrapped in a piece of cloth, and requested me to hand it to Him the next day at the hour of dawn. "Should He deign to answer me," he added, "will you be kind enough to acquaint me with His reply?" I received the scroll from him and, at break of day, arose to carry out his desire.


"'As I approached the house of Baha'u'llah, I recognised His brother Mirza Musa, who was standing at the gate, and to whom I communicated the object of my visit. He went into the house and soon reappeared bearing a message of welcome. I was ushered into His presence, and presented the scroll to Mirza Musa, who laid it before Baha'u'llah. He bade us both be seated. Unfolding the scroll, He glanced at its contents and began to read aloud to us certain of its passages. I sat enraptured as I listened to the sound of His [107] voice and the sweetness of its melody. He had read a page of the scroll when, turning to His brother, He said: "Musa, what have you to say? Verily I say, whoso believes in the Qur'an and recognises its Divine origin, and yet hesitates, though it be for a moment, to admit that these soul-stirring words are endowed with the same regenerating power, has most assuredly erred in his judgment and has strayed far from the path of justice." He spoke no more. Dismissing me from His presence, He charged me to take to Mulla Husayn, as a gift from Him, a loaf of Russian sugar and a package of tea,10 and to convey to him the expression of His appreciation and love.


"'I arose and, filled with joy, hastened back to Mulla Husayn, and delivered to him the gift and message of Baha'u'llah. With what joy and exultation he received them from me! Words fail me to describe the intensity of his emotion. He started to his feet, received with bowed head the gift from my hand, and fervently kissed it. He then took me in his arms, kissed my eyes, and said: "My dearly beloved friend! I pray that even as you have rejoiced my heart, God may grant you eternal felicity and fill your heart with imperishable gladness." I was amazed at the behaviour of Mulla Husayn. What could be, I thought to myself, the nature of the bond that unites these two souls? What could have kindled so fervid a fellowship in their hearts? Why should Mulla Husayn, in whose sight the pomp and circumstance of royalty were the merest trifle, have evinced such gladness at the sight of so inconsiderable a gift from the hands of Baha'u'llah? I was puzzled by this thought and could not unravel its mystery.


"'A few days later, Mulla Husayn left for Khurasan. As he bade me farewell, he said: "Breathe not to anyone what you have heard and witnessed. Let this be a secret hidden within your breast. Divulge not His name, for they who envy His position will arise to harm Him. In your moments of meditation, pray that the Almighty may protect Him, that, through Him, He may exalt the downtrodden, enrich the poor, [108] and redeem the fallen. The secret of things is concealed from our eyes. Ours is the duty to raise the call of the New Day and to proclaim this Divine Message unto all people. Many a soul will, in this city, shed his blood in this path. That blood will water the Tree of God, will cause it to flourish, and to overshadow all mankind."'"


FOOTNOTES


4.1. "In crowds they gathered to hear the teacher. He occupied in turn all the pulpits of Isfahan where he was free to speak publicly and to announce that Mirza 'Ali-Muhammad was the twelfth Imam, the Imam Mihdi. He displayed and read his Master's books and would reveal their eloquence and their depth, emphasizing the extreme youthfulness of the seer and telling of his miracles." (Comte de Gobineau's "Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale," p. 130.)


4.2. "Behold the land of Sad (Isfahan) which in this world of appearances is the greatest of lands. In every one of its schools, numerous slaves are found who bear the name of savants and contestants. At the time of the election of members, even a sifter of grain may put on the garb of primacy (above the others). It is here that the secret of the word of the Imams, regarding the Manifestation, shines forth: 'The lowliest of the creatures shall become the most exalted, and the most exalted shall become the most debased.'" ("Le Bayan Persan," vol. 4, p. 113.)


4.3. Reference to 'Abdu'l-Baha's marriage with Munirih Khanum. 


4.4. Gobineau (p. 129) mentions Mulla Muhammad-Taqiy-i-Harati, a well-known juris-consult, as one of the earliest converts to the Faith.


4.5. "The sojourn of Bushru'i in Isfahan proved a triumph for the Bab. The conversions that he performed were numerous and brilliant; but, such are the ways of the world, that they drew down upon him the fierce hatred of the official clergy to which he was obliged to yield and he withdrew from that city. In fact, the conversion of Mulla Muhammad Taqiy-i-Hirati, a jurist of the first rank, brought their fury to a climax, because over-flowing with zeal as he was, he would go every day to the mambar where he talked to men openly of the greatness of the Bab to whom he gave the rank of Na'ib-i-khass of the twelfth Imam." (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab," p. 255.) 


4.6. According to the "Kashfu'l-Ghita'" (pp. 42-5), Haji Mirza Jani was known by the people of Kashan as Haji Mirza Janiy-i-Buzurg in order to distinguish him from his namesake, who was also a merchant of Kashan, known by the name of Haji Mirza Janiy-i-Turk, or Kuchiq. The former had three brothers; the eldest was named Haji Muhammad-Isma'il-i-Dhabih, the second Haji Mirza Ahmad, the third Haji 'Ali-Akbar.


4.7. "He passed several days in that capital but he did not appear in public. He limited himself to confidential conversations with those who visited him. He thus received many and won over to his doctrine a fairly large number of enquirers. Each one wished to see him, or to have seen him, and the King, Muhammad Shah and his Minister, Haji Mirza Aqasi, true Persians as they were, did not fail to have him brought before them. He laid before them his doctrine and gave to them the Books of the Master." (Comte de Gobineau's "Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale," p. 131.)


4.8. According to Samandar (manuscript, p. 2), Mulla Husayn, on his way from Shiraz to Tihran in the year 1260 A.H., was the bearer of a Tablet revealed by the Bab for Muhammad Shah.


4.9. "On one occasion," writes Dr. J. E. Esslemont, "'Abdu'l-Baha, the eldest son of Baha'u'llah, related to the writer the following particulars about His Father's early days: 'From childhood He was extremely kind and generous. He was a great lover of outdoor life, most of His time being spent in the garden or the fields. He had an extraordinary power of attraction, which was felt by all. People always crowded around Him. Ministers and people of the Court would surround Him, and the children also were devoted to Him. When He was only thirteen or fourteen years old He became renowned for His learning.... When Baha'u'llah was twenty-two years old, His father died, and the Government wished Him to succeed to His father's position in the Ministry, as was customary in Persia, but Baha'u'llah did not accept the offer. Then the Prime Minister said: "Leave him to himself. Such a position is unworthy of him. He has some higher aim in view. I cannot understand him, but I am convinced that he is destined for some lofty career. His thoughts are not like ours. Let him alone."'" ("Baha'u'llah and the New Era," pp. 29-30.)


4.10. Tea and that variety of sugar being extremely rare in Persia at that time, both were used as gifts among the higher classes of the population.



CHAPTER V

BAHA'U'LLAH'S JOURNEY TO MAZINDARAN


[109] The first journey Baha'u'llah undertook for the purpose of promoting the Revelation announced by the Bab was to His ancestral home in Nur, in the province of Mazindaran. He set out for the village of Takur, the personal estate of His father, where He owned a vast mansion, royally furnished and superbly situated. It was my privilege to hear Baha'u'llah Himself, one day, recount the following: "The late Vazir, My father, enjoyed a most enviable position among his countrymen. His vast wealth, his noble ancestry, his artistic attainments, his unrivalled prestige and exalted rank made him the object of the admiration of all who knew him. For a period of over twenty years, no one among the wide circle of his family and kindred, which extended over Nur and Tihran, suffered distress, injury, or illness. They enjoyed, during a long and uninterrupted period, rich and manifold blessings. Quite suddenly, however, this prosperity and glory gave way to a series of calamities which severely shook the foundations of his material prosperity. The first loss he suffered was occasioned by a great flood which, rising in the mountains of Mazindaran, swept with great violence over the village of Takur, and utterly destroyed half the mansion of the Vazir, situated above the fortress of that village. The best part of that house, which had been known for the solidity of its foundations, was utterly wiped away by the fury of the roaring torrent. Its precious articles of furniture were destroyed, and its elaborate ornamentation irretrievably ruined. This was shortly followed by the loss of various State positions which the Vazir occupied, and by the repeated assaults directed against him by his envious adversaries. Despite this sudden change of fortune, the Vazir maintained his dignity and calm, and continued, within the restricted limits of his means, his acts of benevolence and charity. He continued to exercise towards his faithless associates 


[111] that same courtesy and kindness that had characterised his dealings with his fellow-men. With splendid fortitude he grappled, until the last hour of his life, with the adversities that weighed so heavily upon him."


Baha'u'llah had already, prior to the declaration of the Bab, visited the district of Nur, at a time when the celebrated mujtahid Mirza Muhammad Taqiy-i-Nuri was at the height of his authority and influence. Such was the eminence of his position, that they who sat at his feet regarded themselves each as the authorised exponent of the Faith and Law of Islam. The mujtahid was addressing a company of over two hundred of such disciples, and was expatiating upon a dark passage of the reported utterances of the imams, when Baha'u'llah, followed by a number of His companions, passed by that place, and paused for a while to listen to his discourse. The mujtahid asked his disciples to elucidate an abstruse theory relating to the metaphysical aspects of the Islamic teachings. As they all confessed their inability to explain it, Baha'u'llah was moved to give, in brief but convincing language, a lucid exposition of that theory. The mujtahid was greatly annoyed at the incompetence of his disciples. "For years I have been instructing you," he angrily exclaimed, "and have patiently striven to instil into your minds the profoundest truths and the noblest principles of the Faith. And yet you allow, after all these years of persistent study, this youth, a wearer of the kulah,1 who has had no share in scholarly training, and who is entirely unfamiliar with your academic learning, to demonstrate his superiority over you!"


Later on, when Baha'u'llah had departed, the mujtahid related to his disciples two of his recent dreams, the circumstances of which he believed were of the utmost significance. "In my first dream," he said, "I was standing in the midst of a vast concourse of people, all of whom seemed to be pointing to a certain house in which they said the Sahibu'z-Zaman dwelt. Frantic with joy, I hastened in my dream to attain His presence. When I reached the house, I was, to my great surprise, refused admittance. 'The promised [112] Qa'im,' I was informed, 'is engaged in private conversation with another Person. Access to them is strictly forbidden.' From the guards who were standing beside the door, I gathered that that Person was none other than Baha'u'llah.


"In my second dream," the mujtahid continued, "I found myself in a place where I beheld around me a number of coffers, each of which, it was stated, belonged to Baha'u'llah. As I opened them, I found them to be filled with books. Every word and letter recorded in these books was set with the most 


exquisite jewels. Their radiance dazzled me. I was so overpowered by their brilliance that I awoke suddenly from my dream."


When, in the year '60, Baha'u'llah arrived in Nur, He discovered that the celebrated mujtahid who on His previous visit had wielded such immense power had passed away. The vast number of his devotees had shrunk into a mere handful of dejected disciples who, under the leadership of his successor, Mulla Muhammad, were striving to uphold the traditions of their departed leader. The enthusiasm which greeted Baha'u'llah's arrival sharply contrasted with the [113] gloom that had settled upon the remnants of that once flourishing community. A large number of the officials and notables in that neighbourhood called upon Him and, with every mark of affection and respect, accorded Him a befitting welcome. They were eager, in view of the social position He occupied, to learn from Him all the news regarding the life of the Shah, the activities of his ministers, and the affairs of his government. To their enquiries Baha'u'llah replied with extreme indifference, and seemed to reveal very little interest or concern. With persuasive eloquence He pleaded the cause of the new Revelation, and directed their attention to the immeasurable benefits which it was destined to confer upon their country.2 Those who heard Him marvelled at the keen interest which a man of His position and age evinced for truths which primarily concerned the divines and theologians of Islam. They felt powerless to challenge the soundness of His arguments or to belittle the Cause which He so ably expounded. They admired the loftiness of His enthusiasm and the profundity of His thoughts, and were deeply impressed by His detachment and self-effacement.


None dared to contend with His views except His uncle 'Aziz, who ventured to oppose Him, challenging His statements and aspersing their truth. When those who heard him sought to silence this opponent and to injure him, Baha'u'llah intervened in his behalf, and advised them to leave him in the hands of God. Alarmed, he sought the aid of the mujtahid of Nur, Mulla Muhammad, and appealed to him to lend him immediate assistance. "O vicegerent of the Prophet of God!" he said. "Behold what has befallen the Faith. A youth, a layman, attired in the garb of nobility, has come to Nur, has invaded the strongholds of orthodoxy, and disrupted the holy Faith of Islam. Arise, and resist his onslaught. Whoever attains his presence falls immediately under his spell, and is enthralled by the power of his utterance. I know not whether he is a sorcerer, or whether he mixes with his tea some mysterious substance that makes every man who drinks the tea fall a victim to its charm." The [114] mujtahid, notwithstanding his own lack of comprehension, was able to realise the folly of such remarks. Jestingly he observed: "Have you not partaken of his tea, or heard him address his companions?" "I have," he replied, "but, thanks to your loving protection, I have remained immune from the effect of his mysterious power." The mujtahid, finding himself unequal to the task of arousing the populace against Baha'u'llah, and of combating directly the ideas which so powerful an opponent was fearlessly spreading, contented himself with a written statement in which he declared: "O 'Aziz, be not afraid, no one will dare molest you." In writing this, the mujtahid had, through a grammatical error, so perverted the purport of his statement, that those who read it among the notables of the village of Takur were scandalised by its meaning, and vilified both the bearer and the author of that statement.


Those who attained the presence of Baha'u'llah and heard Him expound the Message proclaimed by the Bab were so much impressed by the earnestness of His appeal that they forthwith arose to disseminate that same Message among the people of Nur and to extol the virtues of its distinguished Promoter. The disciples of Mulla Muhammad meanwhile endeavoured to persuade their teacher to proceed to Takur, to visit Baha'u'llah in person, to ascertain from Him the nature of this new Revelation, and to enlighten his followers regarding its character and purpose. To their earnest entreaty the mujtahid returned an evasive answer. His disciples, however, refused to admit the validity of the objections he raised. They urged that the first obligation imposed upon a man of his position, whose function was to preserve the integrity of shi'ah Islam, was to enquire into the nature of every movement that tended to affect the interests of their Faith. Mulla Muhammad eventually decided to delegate two of his eminent lieutenants, Mulla 'Abbas and Mirza Abu'l-Qasim, both sons-in-law and trusted disciples of the late mujtahid, Mirza Muhammad-Taqi, to visit Baha'u'llah and to determine the true character of the Message He had brought. He pledged himself to endorse unreservedly whatever conclusions they might arrive at, and to recognise their decision in such matters as final.



[116] On being informed, upon their arrival in Takur, that Baha'u'llah had departed for His winter resort, the representatives of Mulla Muhammad decided to leave for that place. When they arrived, they found Baha'u'llah engaged in revealing a commentary on the opening Surih of the Qur'an, entitled "The Seven Verses of Repetition." As they sat and listened to His discourse, the loftiness of the theme, the persuasive eloquence which characterised its presentation, as well as the extraordinary manner of its delivery, profoundly impressed them. Mulla 'Abbas, unable to contain himself, arose from his seat and, urged by an impulse he could not resist, walked back and stood still beside the door in an attitude of reverent submissiveness. The charm of the discourse to which he was listening had fascinated him. "You behold my condition," he told his companion as he stood trembling with emotion and with eyes full of tears. "I am powerless to question Baha'u'llah. The questions I had planned to ask Him have vanished suddenly from my memory. You are free either to proceed with your enquiry or to return alone to our teacher and inform him of the state in which I find myself. Tell him from me that 'Abbas can never again return to him. He can no longer forsake this threshold." Mirza Abu'l-Qasim was likewise moved to follow the example of his companion. "I have ceased to recognise my teacher," was his reply. "This very moment, I have vowed to God to dedicate the remaining days of my life to the service of Baha'u'llah, my true and only Master."


The news of the sudden conversion of the chosen envoys of the mujtahid of Nur spread with bewildering rapidity throughout the district. It roused the people from their lethargy. Ecclesiastical dignitaries, State officials, traders, and peasants all flocked to the residence of Baha'u'llah. A considerable number among them willingly espoused His Cause. In their admiration for Him, a number of the most distinguished among them remarked: "We see how the people of Nur have risen and rallied round you. We witness on every side evidences of their exultation. If Mulla Muhammad were also to join them, the triumph of this Faith would be completely assured." "I am come to Nur," Baha'u'llah replied, "solely for the purpose of proclaiming the [117] Cause of God. I cherish no other intention. If I were told that at a distance of a hundred leagues a seeker yearned for the Truth and was unable to meet Me, I would, gladly and unhesitatingly, hasten to his abode, and would Myself satisfy his hunger. Mulla Muhammad, I am told, lives in Sa'adat-Abad, a village not far distant from this place. It is My purpose to visit him and deliver to him the Message of God."


Desirous of giving effect to His words, Baha'u'llah, accompanied by a number of His companions, proceeded immediately to that village. Mulla Muhammad most ceremoniously received Him. "I have not come to this place," Baha'u'llah observed, "to pay you an official or formal visit. My purpose is to enlighten you regarding a new and wondrous Message, divinely inspired and fulfilling the promise given to Islam. Whosoever has inclined his ear to this Message has felt its irresistible power, and has been transformed by the potency of its grace. Tell Me whatsoever perplexes your mind, or hinders you from recognising the Truth." Mulla Muhammad disparagingly remarked: "I undertake no action unless I first consult the Qur'an. I have invariably, on such occasions, followed the practice of invoking the aid of God and His blessings; of opening at random His sacred Book, and of consulting the first verse of the particular page upon which my eyes chance to fall. From the nature of that verse I can judge the wisdom and the advisability of my contemplated course of action." Finding that Baha'u'llah was not inclined to refuse him his request, the mujtahid called for a copy of the Qur'an, opened and closed it again, refusing to reveal the nature of the verse to those who were present. All he said was this: "I have consulted the Book of God, and deem it inadvisable to proceed further with this matter." A few agreed with him; the rest, for the most part, did not fail to recognise the fear which those words implied. Baha'u'llah, disinclined to cause him further embarrassment, arose and, asking to be excused, bade him a cordial farewell.


One day, in the course of one of His riding excursions into the country, Baha'u'llah, accompanied by His companions, saw, seated by the roadside, a lonely youth. His hair was dishevelled, and he wore the dress of a dervish. By the side of a brook he had kindled a fire, and was cooking his food [118] and eating it. Approaching him, Baha'u'llah most lovingly enquired: "Tell Me, dervish, what is it that you are doing?" "I am engaged in eating God," he bluntly replied. "I am cooking God and am burning Him." The unaffected simplicity of his manners and the candour of his reply pleased Baha'u'llah extremely. He smiled at his remark and began to converse with him with unrestrained tenderness and freedom. Within a short space of time, Baha'u'llah had changed him completely. Enlightened as to the true nature of God, and with a mind purged from the idle fancy of his own people, he immediately recognised the Light which that loving Stranger had so unexpectedly brought him. That dervish, whose name was Mustafa, became so enamoured with the teachings which had been instilled into his mind that, leaving his cooking utensils behind, he straightway arose and followed Baha'u'llah. On foot, behind His horse, and inflamed with the fire of His love, he chanted merrily verses of a love-song which he had composed on the spur of the moment and had dedicated to his Beloved. "Thou art the Day-Star of guidance," ran its glad refrain. "Thou art the Light of Truth. Unveil Thyself to men, O Revealer of the Truth." Although, in later years, that poem obtained wide circulation among his people, and it became known that a certain dervish, surnamed Majdhub, and whose name was Mustafa Big-i-Sanandaji, had, without premeditation, composed it in praise of his Beloved, none seemed to be aware to whom it actually referred, nor did anyone suspect, at a time when Baha'u'llah was still veiled from the eyes of men, that this dervish alone had recognised His station and discovered His glory.


Baha'u'llah's visit to Nur had produced the most far-reaching results, and had lent a remarkable impetus to the spread of the new-born Revelation. By His magnetic eloquence, by the purity of His life, by the dignity of His bearing, by the unanswerable logic of His argument, and by the many evidences of His loving-kindness, Baha'u'llah had won the hearts of the people of Nur, had stirred their souls, and had enrolled them under the standard of the Faith. Such was the effect of His words and deeds, as He went about preaching the Cause and revealing its glory to His countrymen in Nur, that the very stones and trees of that district seemed to have [119] been quickened by the waves of spiritual power which emanated from His person. All things seemed to be endowed with a new and more abundant life, all things seemed to be proclaiming aloud: "Behold, the Beauty of God has been made manifest! Arise, for He has come in all His glory." The people of Nur, when Baha'u'llah had departed from out their midst, continued to propagate the Cause and to consolidate its foundations. A number of them endured the severest afflictions for His sake; others quaffed with gladness the cup of martyrdom in His path. Mazindaran in general, and Nur in particular, were thus distinguished from the other provinces and districts of Persia, as being the first to have eagerly embraced the Divine Message. The district of Nur, literally meaning "light," which lay embedded within the mountains of Mazindaran, was the first to catch the rays of the Sun that had arisen in Shiraz, the first to proclaim to the rest of Persia, which still lay enveloped in the shadow of the vale of heedlessness, that the Day-Star of heavenly guidance had at length arisen to warm and illuminate the whole land.


When Baha'u'llah was still a child, the Vazir, His father, dreamed a dream. Baha'u'llah appeared to him swimming in a vast, limitless ocean. His body shone upon the waters with a radiance that illumined the sea. Around His head, which could distinctly be seen above the waters, there radiated, in all directions, His long, jet-black locks, floating in great profusion above the waves. As he dreamed, a multitude of fishes gathered round Him, each holding fast to the extremity of one hair. Fascinated by the effulgence of His face, they followed Him in whatever direction He swam. Great as was their number, and however firmly they clung to His locks, not one single hair seemed to have been detached from His head, nor did the least injury affect His person. Free and unrestrained, He moved above the waters and they all followed Him.


The Vazir, greatly impressed by this dream, summoned a soothsayer, who had achieved fame in that region, and asked him to interpret it for him. This man, as if inspired by a premonition of the future glory of Baha'u'llah, declared: "The limitless ocean that you have seen in your dream, O [120] Vazir, is none other than the world of being. Single-handed and alone, your son will achieve supreme ascendancy over it. Wherever He may please, He will proceed unhindered. No one will resist His march, no one will hinder His progress. The multitude of fishes signifies the turmoil which He will arouse amidst the peoples and kindreds of the earth. Around Him will they gather, and to Him will they cling. Assured of the unfailing protection of the Almighty, this tumult will never harm His person, nor will His loneliness upon the sea of life endanger His safety."


That soothsayer was subsequently taken to see Baha'u'llah. He looked intently upon His face, and examined carefully His features. He was charmed by His appearance, and extolled every trait of His countenance. Every expression in that face revealed to his eyes a sign of His concealed glory. So great was his admiration, and so profuse his praise of Baha'u'llah, that the Vazir, from that day, became even more passionately devoted to his son. The words spoken by that soothsayer served to fortify his hopes and confidence in Him. Like Jacob, he desired only to ensure the welfare of his beloved Joseph, and to surround Him with his loving protection.


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, felt envious. He resented the superiority 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, I wonder, happen to me when this young man shall have succeeded his father?


After the death of the Vazir, 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, [121] 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 mine 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 consent." Unsatisfied with this reply, Haji Mirza Aqasi sought, through fraudulent means, to achieve his purpose. So 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 already repeatedly expressed her 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: [122] "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 no 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.


On a number of other occasions, Baha'u'llah's ascendancy over His opponents was likewise vindicated and recognised. These personal triumphs achieved by Him served to enhance His position, and spread abroad His fame. All classes of men marvelled at His miraculous success in emerging unscathed from the most perilous encounters. Nothing short of Divine protection, they thought, could have ensured His safety on such occasions. Not once did Baha'u'llah, beset though He was by the gravest perils, submit to the arrogance, the greed, and the treachery of those around Him. In His constant association, during those days, with the highest dignitaries of the realm, whether ecclesiastical or State officials, He was never content simply to accede to the views they expressed or the claims they advanced. He would, at their gatherings, fearlessly champion the cause of truth, would assert the rights of the downtrodden, defending the weak and protecting the innocent.


FOOTNOTES


5.1. The kulah, a lambskin hat, differentiated the clergy from the laity, and was worn invariably by State officials.


5.2. "His [Baha'u'llah's] speech was like a 'rushing torrent' and his clearness in exposition brought the most learned divines to his feet." (Dr. T. K. Cheyne's "The Reconciliation of Races and Religions," p. 120.)



CHAPTER VI

MULLA HUSAYN'S JOURNEY TO KHURASAN


[123] AS THE Bab bade farewell to the Letters of the Living, He instructed them, each and all, to record separately the name of every believer who embraced the Faith and identified himself with its teachings. The list of these believers He bade them enclose in sealed letters, and address them to His maternal uncle, Haji Mirza Siyyid 'Ali, in Shiraz, who would in turn deliver them to Him. "I shall classify these lists," He told them, "into eighteen sets of nineteen names each. Each set will constitute one vahid.1 All these names, in these eighteen sets, will, together with the first vahid, consisting of My own name and those of the eighteen Letters of the Living, constitute the number of Kull-i-Shay'.2 Of all these believers I shall make mention in the Tablet of God, so that upon each one of them the Beloved of our hearts may, in the Day when He shall have ascended the throne of glory, confer His inestimable blessings, and declare them the dwellers of His Paradise."


To Mulla Husayn, more particularly, the Bab gave definite injunctions to send Him a written report on the nature and progress of his activities in Isfahan, in Tihran, and in Khurasan. He urged him to inform Him of those who accepted and submitted to the Faith, as well as of those who rejected and repudiated its truth. "Not until I receive your letter from Khurasan," He said, "shall I be ready to set out from this city on My pilgrimage to Hijaz."


Mulla Husayn, refreshed and fortified by the experience of his intercourse with Baha'u'llah, set out on his journey to Khurasan. During his visit to that province, he exhibited in an astonishing manner the effects of that regenerating power with which the parting words of the Bab had invested 


[125] him.3 The first to embrace the Faith in Khurasan was Mirza Ahmad-i-Azghandi, the most learned, the wisest, and the most eminent among the ulamas of that province. In whatever gathering he appeared, no matter how great the number or representative the character of the divines who were present, he alone was invariably the chief speaker. The high traits of his character, as well as his extreme devoutness, had ennobled the reputation which he had already acquired through his erudition, his ability and wisdom. The next to embrace the Faith among the shaykhis of Khurasan was Mulla Ahmad-i-Mu'allim, who, while in Karbila, had been the instructor of the children of Siyyid Kazim. Next to him came Mulla Shaykh 'Ali, whom the Bab surnamed 'Azim, and then Mulla Mirza Muhammad-i-Furughi, whose learning was unsurpassed except by that of Mirza Ahmad. No one apart from these outstanding figures among the ecclesiastical leaders of Khurasan exercised sufficient authority or possessed the necessary knowledge to challenge the arguments of Mulla Husayn.


Mirza Muhammad Baqir-i-Qa'ini, who, for the remaining years of his life, had established his residence in Mashhad, was the next to embrace the Message. The love of the Bab inflamed his soul with such a consuming passion, that no one could resist its force or could belittle its influence. His fearlessness, his unsparing energy, his unswerving loyalty, and the integrity of his life, all combined to make him the terror of his enemies and a source of inspiration to his friends. [126] He placed his home at the disposal of Mulla Husayn, arranged for separate interviews between him and the ulamas of Mashhad, and continued to endeavour, to the utmost of his power, to remove every obstacle that might impede the progress of the Faith. He was untiring in his efforts, undeviating in his purpose, and inexhaustible in his energy. He continued to labour indefatigably for his beloved Cause until the last hour of his life, when he fell a martyr at the fort of Shaykh Tabarsi. In his last days he was bidden by Quddus, after the tragic death of Mulla Husayn, to assume the leadership of the heroic defenders of that fort. He acquitted himself gloriously of his task. His home, situated in Bala-Khiyaban, in the city of Mashhad, is up to the present time known by the name of Babiyyih. Whoever enters it can never escape the accusation of being a Babi. May his soul rest in peace!


Mulla Husayn, as soon as he had won to the Cause such able and devoted supporters, decided to address a written report concerning his activities to the Bab. In his communication he referred at length to his sojourn in Isfahan and Kashan, described the account of his experience with Baha'u'llah, referred to the departure of the latter for Mazindaran, related the events of Nur, and informed Him of the success which had attended his own efforts in Khurasan. In it he enclosed a list of the names of those who had responded to his call, and of whose steadfastness and sincerity he was assured. He sent his letter by way of Yazd, through the trustworthy partners of the Bab's maternal uncle who were at that time residing in Tabas. That letter reached the Bab on the night preceding the twenty-seventh day of Ramadan,4 a night held in great reverence by all the sects of Islam and regarded by many as rivalling in sacredness the Laylatu'l-Qadr itself, the night which, in the words of the Qur'an, "excelleth a thousand months."5 The only companion of the Bab, when that letter reached Him that night, was Quddus, with whom He shared a number of its passages.


I have heard Mirza Ahmad relate the following: "The Bab's maternal uncle himself described to me the circumstances 


[127] attending the receipt of Mulla Husayn's letter by the Bab: 'That night I saw such evidences of joy and gladness on the faces of the Bab and of Quddus as I am unable to describe. I often heard the Bab, in those days, exultingly repeat the words, "How marvellous, how exceedingly marvellous, is that which has occurred between the months of Jamadi and Rajab!" As He was reading the communication addressed to Him by Mulla Husayn, He turned to Quddus and, showing him certain passages of that letter, explained the reason for His joyous expressions of surprise. I, for my part, remained completely unaware of the nature of that explanation.'"


Mirza Ahmad, upon whom the account of this incident had produced a profound impression, was determined to fathom its mystery. "Not until I met Mulla Husayn in Shiraz," he told me, "was I able to satisfy my curiosity. When I repeated to him the account described to me by the Bab's uncle, he smiled and said how well he remembered that 


[128] between the months of Jamadi and Rajab he chanced to be in Tihran. He gave no further explanation, and contented himself with this brief remark. This was sufficient, however, to convince me that in the city of Tihran there lay hidden a Mystery which, when revealed to the world, would bring unspeakable joy to the hearts of both the Bab and Quddus."


The references in Mulla Husayn's letter to Baha'u'llah's immediate response to the Divine Message, to the vigorous campaign which He had boldly initiated in Nur, and to the marvellous success which had attended His efforts, cheered and gladdened the Bab, and reinforced His confidence in the ultimate victory of His Cause. He felt assured that if now He were to fall suddenly a victim to the tyranny of His foes and depart from this world, the Cause which He had revealed would live; would, under the direction of Baha'u'llah, continue to develop and flourish, and would yield eventually its choicest fruit. The master-hand of Baha'u'llah would steer its course, and the pervading influence of His love would establish it in the hearts of men. Such a conviction fortified His spirit and filled Him with hope. From that moment His fears of the imminence of peril or danger entirely forsook Him. Phoenix-like He welcomed with joy the fire of adversity, and gloried in the glow and heat of its flame.


FOOTNOTES


6.1. The numerical value of the word "vahid," which means "unity," is 19.


6.2. The numerical value of "Kull-i-Shay'," which means "all things," is 361, or 19 X 19.


6.3. "The pilgrim, as was customary with him, would make the most of his stay which he would prolong if need be, in the villages, towns and cities on his way, in order to hold conferences, to speak against the mullas, to make known the Books of the Bab and to preach his doctrines. He was summoned everywhere and waited for impatiently; he was sought after with curiosity, listened to eagerly and believed with little difficulty. "It was at Nishapur above all, that he made two important conversions in the persons of Mulla 'Abdu'l-Khaliq of Yazd, and of Mulla 'Ali the Young. The first of these doctors had been the pupil of Shaykh Ahmad-i-Ahsa'i. He was a person celebrated for his science, for his eloquence and for his standing among the people. The other, a Shaykhi like the first, a man of strict ethics and high understanding, held the important position of the principal mujtahid of the city. Both became ardent Babis. They made the pulpits of the mosques resound with violent denunciations of Islam. "During several weeks, it seemed as though the old religion had been completely defeated. The clergy, demoralized by the defection of their chief and frightened by the public addresses which did not spare them, either dared not show themselves or had taken flight. When Mulla Husayn-i-Bushru'i came to Mashhad he found, on the one hand, the population stirred up and divided about him, on the other hand, the clergy forewarned and very anxious, but exasperated and determined to oppose a vigorous resistance to the attacks about to be launched against them." (Comte de Gobineau's "Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale," pp. 139-140.)


6.5. Corresponding with the night preceding the 10th of October, 1844 A.D. 


6.6. The Laylatu'l-Qadr, meaning literally "Night of Power," is one of the last ten nights of Ramadan, and, as is commonly believed, the seventh of those nights reckoning backward.




CHAPTER VII

THE BAB'S PILGRIMAGE TO MECCA AND MEDINA


[129] The letter of Mulla Husayn decided the Bab to undertake His contemplated pilgrimage to Hijaz. Entrusting His wife to His mother, and committing them both to the care and protection of His maternal uncle, He joined the company of the pilgrims of Fars who were preparing to leave Shiraz for Mecca and Medina.1 Quddus was His only companion, and the Ethiopian servant His personal attendant. He first proceeded to Bushihr, the seat of His uncle's business, where in former days He, in close association with him, had lived the life of a humble merchant. Having there completed the preliminary arrangements for His long and arduous voyage, He embarked on a sailing vessel, which, after two months of slow, stormy, and unsteady sailing, landed Him upon the shores of that sacred land.2 High seas and the complete absence of comfort could [130] neither interfere with the regularity of His devotions nor perturb the peacefulness of His meditations and prayers. Oblivious of the storm that raged about Him, and undeterred by the sickness which had seized His fellow-pilgrims, He continued to occupy His time in dictating to Quddus such prayers and epistles as He felt inspired to reveal.


I have heard Haji Abu'l-Hasan-i-Shirazi, who was travelling in the same vessel as the Bab, describe the circumstances of that memorable voyage: "During the entire period of approximately two months," he asserted, "from the day we embarked at Bushihr to the day when we landed at Jaddih, the port of Hijaz, whenever by day or night I chanced to meet either the Bab or Quddus, I invariably found them together, both absorbed in their work. The Bab seemed to be dictating, and Quddus was busily engaged in taking down whatever fell from His lips. Even at a time when panic seemed to have seized the passengers of that storm-tossed vessel, they would be seen pursuing their labours with unperturbed confidence and calm. Neither the violence of the elements nor the tumult of the people around them could either ruffle the serenity of their countenance or turn them from their purpose."


The Bab Himself, in the Persian Bayan,3 refers to the [131] hardships of that voyage. "For days," He wrote, "we suffered from the scarcity of water. I had to content myself with the juice of the sweet lemon." Because of this experience, He supplicated the Almighty to grant that the means of ocean travel might soon be speedily improved, that its hardships might be reduced, and its perils be entirely eliminated. Within a short space of time, since that prayer was offered, the evidences of a remarkable improvement in all forms of maritime transport have greatly multiplied, and the Persian Gulf, which in those days hardly possessed a single steam-driven vessel, now boasts a fleet of ocean liners that can, within the range of a few days and in the utmost comfort, carry the people of Fars on their annual pilgrimage to Hijaz.


The peoples of the West, among whom the first evidences of this great Industrial Revolution have appeared, are, alas, as yet wholly unaware of the Source whence this mighty stream, this great motive power, proceeds—a force that has revolutionised every aspect of their material life. Their own history testifies to the fact that in the year which witnessed the dawn of this glorious Revelation, there suddenly appeared evidences of an industrial and economic revolution that the people themselves declare to have been unprecedented in the history of mankind. In their concern for the details of the working and adjustments of this newly conceived machinery, they have gradually lost sight of the Source and object of this tremendous power which the Almighty has committed to their charge. They seem to have sorely misused this power and misunderstood its function. Designed to confer upon the people of the West the blessings of peace and of happiness, it has been utilised by them to promote the interests of destruction and war.


[132] Upon His arrival in Jaddih, the Bab donned the pilgrim's garb, mounted a camel, and set out on His journey to Mecca. Quddus, however, notwithstanding the repeatedly expressed desire of his Master, preferred to accompany Him on foot all the way from Jaddih to that holy city. Holding in his hand the bridle of the camel upon which the Bab was riding, he walked along joyously and prayerfully, ministering to his Master's needs, wholly indifferent to the fatigues of his arduous march. Every night, from eventide until the break of day, Quddus, sacrificing comfort and sleep, would continue with unrelaxing vigilance to watch beside his Beloved, ready to provide for His wants and to ensure the means of His protection and safety.


One day, when the Bab had dismounted close to a well in order to offer His morning prayer, a roving Bedouin suddenly appeared on the horizon, drew near to Him, and, snatching the saddlebag that had been lying on the ground beside Him, and which contained His writings and papers, vanished into the unknown desert. His Ethiopian servant set out to pursue him, but was prevented by his Master, who, as He was praying, motioned to him with His hand to give up his pursuit. "Had I allowed you," the Bab later on affectionately assured him, "you would surely have overtaken and punished him. But this was not to be. The papers and writings which that bag contained are destined to reach, through the instrumentality of this Arab, such places as we could never have succeeded in attaining. Grieve not, therefore, at his action, for this was decreed by God, the Ordainer, the Almighty." Many a time afterwards did the Bab on similar occasions seek to comfort His friends by such reflections. By words such as these He turned the bitterness of regret and of resentment into radiant acquiescence in the Divine purpose and into joyous submission to God's will.


On the day of 'Arafat,4 the Bab, seeking the quiet seclusion of His cell, devoted His whole time to meditation and worship. On the following day, the day of Nahr, after He had offered the feast-day prayer, He proceeded to Muna, where, according to ancient custom, He purchased nineteen lambs of the choicest breed, of which He sacrificed nine in [133] His own name, seven in the name of Quddus, and three in the name of His Ethiopian servant. He refused to partake of the meat of this consecrated sacrifice, preferring instead to distribute it freely among the poor and needy of that neighbourhood.


Although the month of Dhi'l-Hijjih,5 the month of pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina, coincided in that year with the first month of the winter season, yet so intense was the heat in that region that the pilgrims who made the circuit of 



[134] the sacred shrine were unable to perform that rite in their usual garments. Draped in a light, loose-fitting tunic, they joined in the celebration of the festival. The Bab, however, refused, as a mark of deference, to discard either His turban or cloak. Dressed in His usual attire, He, with the utmost dignity and calm, and with extreme simplicity and reverence, compassed the Ka'bih and performed all the prescribed rites of worship.


On the last day of His pilgrimage to Mecca, the Bab met Mirza Muhit-i-Kirmani. He stood facing the Black Stone, when the Bab approached him and, taking his hand in His, addressed him in these words: "O Muhit! You regard yourself as one of the most outstanding figures of the shaykhi community and a distinguished exponent of its teachings. In your heart you even claim to be one of the direct successors and rightful inheritors of those twin great Lights, those Stars that have heralded the morn of Divine guidance. Behold, we are both now standing within this most sacred shrine. Within its hallowed precincts, He whose Spirit dwells in this place can cause Truth immediately to be known and distinguished from falsehood, and righteousness from error. Verily I declare, none besides Me in this day, whether in the East or in the West, can claim to be the Gate that leads men to the knowledge of God. My proof is none other than that proof whereby the truth of the Prophet Muhammad was established. Ask Me whatsoever you please; now, at this very moment, I pledge Myself to reveal such verses as can demonstrate the truth of My mission. You must choose either to submit yourself unreservedly to My Cause or to repudiate it entirely. You have no other alternative. If you choose to reject My message, I will not let go your hand until you pledge your word to declare publicly your repudiation 


[135] of the Truth which I have proclaimed. Thus shall He who speaks the Truth be made known, and he that speaks falsely shall be condemned to eternal misery and shame. Then shall the way of Truth be revealed and made manifest to all men."


This peremptory challenge, thrust so unexpectedly by the Bab upon Mirza Muhit-i-Kirmani, profoundly distressed him. He was overpowered by its directness, its compelling [136] majesty and force. In the presence of that Youth, he, notwithstanding his age, his authority and learning, felt as a helpless bird prisoned in the grasp of a mighty eagle. Confused and full of fear, he replied: "My Lord, my Master! Ever since the day on which my eyes beheld You in Karbila, I seemed at last to have found and recognised Him who had been the object of my quest. I renounce whosoever has failed to recognise You, and despise him in whose heart may yet linger the faintest misgivings as to Your purity and holiness. I pray You to overlook my weakness, and entreat You to answer me in my perplexity. Please God I may, at this very place, within the precincts of this hallowed shrine, swear my fealty to You, and arise for the triumph of Your Cause. If I be insincere in what I declare, if in my heart I should disbelieve what my lips proclaim, I would deem myself utterly unworthy of the grace of the Prophet of God, and regard my action as an act of manifest disloyalty to 'Ali, His chosen successor."


The Bab, who listened attentively to his words, and who was well aware of his helplessness and poverty of soul, answered and said: "Verily I say, the Truth is even now known and distinguished from falsehood. O shrine of the Prophet of God, and you, O Quddus, who have believed in Me! I take you both, in this hour, as My witnesses. You have seen and heard that which has come to pass between Me and him. I call upon you to testify thereunto, and God, verily, is, beyond and above you, My sure and ultimate Witness. He is the All-Seeing, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise. O Muhit! Set forth whatsoever perplexes your mind, and I will, by the aid of God, unloose My tongue and undertake to resolve your problems, so that you may testify to the excellence of My utterance and realise that no one besides Me is able to manifest My wisdom."


Mirza Muhit responded to the invitation of the Bab and submitted to Him his questions. Pleading the necessity of his immediate departure for Medina, he expressed the hope of receiving, ere his departure from that city, the text of the promised reply. "I will grant your request," the Bab assured him." On My way to Medina I shall, with the assistance of God, reveal My answer to your questions. If I meet you [137] not in that city, My reply will surely reach you immediately after your arrival at Karbila. Whatever justice and fairness may dictate, the same shall I expect you to fulfil. 'If ye do well, to your own behoof will ye do well: and if ye do evil, against yourselves will ye do it.' 'God is verily independent of all His creatures.'"6


Mirza Muhit, ere his departure, again expressed his firm resolve to redeem his solemn pledge. "I shall never depart from Medina," he assured the Bab, "whatever may betide, until I have fulfilled my covenant with You." As the mote which is driven before the gale, he, unable to withstand the sweeping majesty of the Revelation proclaimed by the Bab, fled in terror from before His face. He tarried awhile in Medina and, faithless to his pledge and disregardful of the admonitions of his conscience, left for Karbila.


The Bab, faithful to His promise, revealed, on His way from Mecca to Medina, His written reply to the questions that had perplexed the mind of Mirza Muhit, and gave it the name of Sahifiy-i-Baynu'l-Haramayn.7 Mirza Muhit, who received it in the early days of his arrival in Karbila, remained unmoved by its tone and refused to recognise the precepts which it inculcated. His attitude towards the Faith was one of concealed and persistent opposition. At times he professed to be a follower and supporter of that notorious adversary of the Bab, Haji Mirza Karim Khan, and occasionally claimed for himself the station of an independent leader. Nearing the end of his days, whilst residing in Iraq, he, feigning submission to Baha'u'llah, expressed, through one of the Persian princes who dwelt in Baghdad, a desire to meet Him. He requested that his proposed interview be regarded as strictly confidential. "Tell him," was Baha'u'llah's reply, "that in the days of My retirement in the mountains of Sulaymaniyyih, I, in a certain ode which I composed, set forth the essential requirements from every wayfarer who treads the path of search in his quest of Truth. Share with him this verse from that ode: 'If thine aim be to cherish thy life, approach not our court; but if sacrifice be thy heart's desire, come and let others come with thee. For such is the way of Faith, if in [138] thy heart thou seekest reunion with Baha; shouldst thou refuse to tread this path, why trouble us? Begone!' If he be willing, he will openly and unreservedly hasten to meet Me; if not, I refuse to see him." Baha'u'llah's unequivocal answer disconcerted Mirza Muhit. Unable to resist and unwilling to comply, he departed for his home in Karbila the very day he received that message. As soon as he arrived, he sickened, and, three days later, he died.


No sooner had the Bab performed the last of the observances in connection with His pilgrimage to Mecca than he addressed an epistle to the Sherif of that holy city, wherein He set forth, in clear and unmistakable terms, the distinguishing features of His mission, and called upon him to arise and embrace His Cause. This epistle, together with selections from His other writings, He delivered to Quddus, and instructed him to present them to the Sherif. The latter, however, too absorbed in his own material pursuits to incline his ear to the words which had been addressed to him by the Bab, failed to respond to the call of the Divine Message. Haji Niyaz-i-Baghdadi has been heard to relate the following: "In the year 1267 A.H.,8 I undertook a pilgrimage to that holy city, where I was privileged to meet the Sherif. In the course of his conversation with me, he said: 'I recollect that in the year '60, during the season of pilgrimage, a youth came to visit me. He presented to me a sealed book which I readily accepted but was too much occupied at that time to read. A few days later I met again that same youth, who asked me whether I had any reply to make to his offer. Pressure of work had again detained me from considering the contents of that book. I was therefore unable to give him a satisfactory reply. When the season of pilgrimage was over, one day, as I was sorting out my letters, my eyes fell accidentally upon that book. I opened it and found, in its introductory pages, a moving and exquisitely written homily which was followed by verses the tone and language of which bore a striking resemblance to the Qur'an. All that I gathered from the perusal of the book was that among the people of Persia a man of the seed of Fatimih and descendant of the family of Hashim, had raised a new call, and was announcing 


[139] to all people the appearance of the promised Qa'im. I remained, however, ignorant of the name of the author of that book, nor was I informed of the circumstances attending that call.' 'A great commotion,' I remarked, 'has indeed seized that land during the last few years. A Youth, a descendant of the Prophet and a merchant by profession, has claimed that His utterance was the Voice of Divine inspiration. He has publicly asserted that, within the space of a few days, there could stream from His tongue verses of such number and excellence as would surpass in volume and beauty the Qur'an itself—a work which it took Muhammad no less than twenty-three years to reveal. A multitude of people, both high and low, civil and ecclesiastical, among the inhabitants of Persia, have rallied round His standard and have willingly sacrificed themselves in His path. That Youth has, during the past year, in the last days of the month of Sha'ban,9 suffered martyrdom in Tabriz, in the province of Adhirbayjan. They who persecuted Him sought by this means to extinguish the light which He kindled in that land. Since His martyrdom, however, His influence has pervaded all classes of people.' The Sherif, who was listening attentively, expressed his indignation at the behaviour of those [140] who had persecuted the Bab. 'The malediction of God be upon these evil people,' he exclaimed, 'a people who, in days past, treated in the same manner our holy and illustrious ancestors!' With these words the Sherif concluded his conversation with me."


From Mecca the Bab proceeded to Medina. It was the first day of the month of Muharram, in the year 1261 A.H.,10 when He found Himself on the way to that holy city. As He approached it, He called to mind the stirring events that had immortalised the name of Him who had lived and died within its walls. Those scenes which bore eloquent testimony to the creative power of that immortal Genius seemed to be re-enacted, with undiminished splendour, before His eyes. He prayed as He drew nigh unto that holy sepulchre which enshrined the mortal remains of the Prophet of God. He also remembered, as He trod that holy ground, that shining Herald of His own Dispensation. He knew that in the cemetery of Baqi', in a place not far distant from the shrine of Muhammad, there had been laid to rest Shaykh Ahmad-i-Ahsa'i, the harbinger of His own Revelation, who, after a life of onerous service, had decided to spend the evening of his days within the precincts of that hallowed shrine. There came to Him also the vision of those holy men, those pioneers and martyrs of the Faith, who had fallen gloriously on the field of battle, and who, with their life-blood, had sealed the triumph of the Cause of God. Their sacred dust seemed as if reanimated by the gentle tread of His feet. Their shades seemed to have been stirred by the reviving breath of His presence. They looked to Him as if they had arisen at His approach, were hastening towards Him, and were voicing their welcome. They seemed to be addressing to Him this fervent plea: 'Repair not unto Thy native land, we beseech Thee, O Thou Beloved of our hearts! Abide Thou in our midst, for here, far from the tumult of Thine enemies who are lying in wait for Thee, Thou shalt be safe and secure. We are fearful for Thee. We dread the plottings and machinations of Thy foes. We tremble at the thought that their deeds might bring eternal damnation to their souls." "Fear not," the Bab's indomitable Spirit replied: "I am come into this [141] world to bear witness to the glory of sacrifice. You are aware of the intensity of My longing; you realise the degree of My renunciation. Nay, beseech the Lord your God to hasten the hour of My martyrdom and to accept My sacrifice. Rejoice, for both I and Quddus will be slain on the altar of our devotion to the King of Glory. The blood which we are destined to shed in His path will water and revive the garden of our immortal felicity. The drops of this consecrated blood will be the seed out of which will arise the mighty Tree of God, the Tree that will gather beneath its all-embracing shadow the peoples and kindreds of the earth. Grieve not, therefore, if I depart from this land, for I am hastening to fulfil My destiny."


FOOTNOTES


7.1. According to Haji Mu'inu's-Saltanih's narrative (p. 72), the Bab set out on His pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina in the month of Shavval, 1260 A.H. (Oct., 1844 A.D.). 


7.2. "He retained the most disagreeable impression of his voyage. 'Know that the sea voyages are hard. We do not favor them for the faithful; travel by land,' he wrote in the Kitab-i-Baynu'l-Haramayn in addressing himself to his uncle, as we shall soon see. He elaborates upon this subject also in the Bayan. Do not consider this childish, the feelings which moved the Bab in his horror of the sea are far more noble. "Struck by the selfishness of the pilgrims which was heightened by the discomforts of a long and dangerous sea voyage, equally shocked by the unclean conditions that the pilgrims were obliged to endure on board, he wished to prevent men from yielding to their lower instincts and treating one another harshly. We know that the Bab especially commended politeness and the most refined courtesy in all social relations. 'Never sadden anyone, no matter whom, for no matter what,' he enjoined, and during this voyage he experienced the meanness of man and his brutality when in the presence of difficulties. 'The saddest thing that I saw on my pilgrimage to Mecca was the constant disputes of the pilgrims between themselves, disputes which took away the moral benefit of the pilgrimage.' (Bayan, 4:16.) "In time he arrived at Mascate where he rested for several days during which he sought to convert the people of that country but without success. He spoke to one among them, a religious man probably, one of high rank, whose conversion might also have been followed by that of his fellow citizens, at least so I believe, though he gives us no details upon this subject. Evidently he did not attempt to convert the first comer who would have had no influence on the other inhabitants of the city. That he attempted a conversion and did not succeed is an indisputable fact because he himself affirms it: 'The mention of God, in truth, descended upon the earth of Mascate and made the way of God come to one of the inhabitants of the country. It may be possible that he understood our verses and became one of those who are guided. Say: This man obeyed his passions after having read our verses and in truth this man is by the rules of the Book, among the transgressors. Say: We have not seen in Mascate men of the Book willing to help him, because they are lost in ignorance. And the same was true of all these voyagers on the boat with the exception of one who believed in our verses and became one of those who fear God.'" (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab," pp. 207-208.)


7.3. "It is thus that I myself saw, on the voyage to Mecca, a notable who was spending considerable sums of money but who hesitated to spend the price of a glass of water for his fellow-traveler. This happened on the boat where the water was scarce, so scarce in fact, during the voyage from Bushihr to Mascate, which lasted twelve days with no opportunity to get water, that I had to content myself with sweet lemons." ("Le Bayan Persan," vol. 2, p. 154.) "One cannot imagine on the sea anything but discomfort. One cannot have all the necessities as in land travel. The mariners are obliged to live thus but by their services they come nearer to God, and God rewards actions performed on the land and on the sea but He grants a two-fold recompense for those services accomplished by one of the servants on the sea, because their work is more arduous." (Ibid., pp. 155-156.) "I have seen (on the way to Mecca) acts of the vilest kind, in the eyes of God, which were sufficient to undo the good resulting from the pilgrimage. These were the quarrels among the pilgrims! Verily, the House of God has no need of such people!" (Ibid., p. 155.)


7.4. The day preceding the festival.


7.5. December, 1844 A.D.


7.6. Verses of the Qur'an. 


7.7. "The Epistle between the Two Shrines."


7.8. 1850-51 A.D.


7.9. July, 1850 A.D.


7.10. Friday, January 30, 1845 A.D.



CHAPTER VIII

THE BAB'S STAY IN SHIRAZ AFTER THE PILGRIMAGE


[142] The visit of the Bab to Medina marked the concluding stage of His pilgrimage to Hijaz. From thence He returned to Jaddih, and by way of the sea regained His native land. He landed at Bushihr nine lunar months after He had embarked on His pilgrimage from that port. In the same khan1 which He had previously occupied, He received His friends and relatives, who had come to greet and welcome Him. While still in Bushihr, He summoned Quddus to His presence and with the utmost kindness bade him depart for Shiraz. "The days of your companionship with Me," He told him, "are drawing to a close. The hour of separation has struck, a separation which no reunion will follow except in the Kingdom of God, in the presence of the King of Glory. In this world of dust, no more than nine fleeting months of association with Me have been allotted to you. On the shores of the Great Beyond, however, in the realm of immortality, joy of eternal reunion awaits us. The hand of destiny will ere long plunge you into an ocean of tribulation for His sake. I, too, will follow you; I, too, will be immersed beneath its depths. Rejoice with exceeding gladness, for you have been chosen as the standard-bearer of the host of affliction, and are standing in the vanguard of the noble army that will suffer martyrdom in His name. In the streets of Shiraz, indignities will be heaped upon you, and the severest injuries will afflict your body. You will survive the ignominious behaviour of your foes, and will attain the presence of Him who is the one object of our adoration and love. In His presence you will forget all the harm and disgrace that shall have befallen you. The hosts of the Unseen will hasten forth to assist you, and will [143] proclaim to all the world your heroism and glory. Yours will be the ineffable joy of quaffing the cup of martyrdom for His sake. I, too, shall tread the path of sacrifice, and will join you in the realm of eternity." The Bab then delivered into his hands a letter He had written to Haji Mirza Siyyid 'Ali, His maternal uncle, in which He had informed him of His safe return to Bushihr. He also entrusted him with a copy of the Khasa'il-i-Sab'ih,2 a treatise in which He had set forth the essential requirements from those who had attained to the knowledge of the new Revelation and had recognised its claim. As He bade Quddus His last farewell, He asked him to convey His greetings to each of His loved ones in Shiraz.


Quddus, with feelings of unshakable determination to carry out the expressed wishes of his Master, set out from Bushihr. Arriving at Shiraz, he was affectionately welcomed by Haji Mirza Siyyid 'Ali, who received him in his own home and eagerly enquired after the health and doings of his beloved Kinsman. Finding him receptive to the call of the new Message, Quddus acquainted him with the nature of the Revelation with which that Youth had already fired his soul. The Bab's maternal uncle, as a result of the endeavours exerted by Quddus, was the first, after the Letters of the Living, to embrace the Cause in Shiraz. As the full significance of the new-born Faith had remained as yet undivulged, he was unaware of the full extent of its implications and glory. His conversation with Quddus, however, removed the veil from his eyes. So steadfast became his faith, and so profound grew his love for the Bab, that he consecrated his whole life to His service. With unrelaxing vigilance he arose to defend His Cause and to shield His person. In his sustained endeavours, he scorned fatigue and was disdainful of death. Though recognised as an outstanding figure among the business men of that city, he never allowed material considerations to interfere with his spiritual responsibility of safeguarding the person, and advancing the Cause, of his beloved Kinsman. He persevered in his task until the hour when, joining the company of the Seven Martyrs of Tihran, he, in circumstances of exceptional heroism, laid down his life for Him. 



[144] The next person whom Quddus met in Shiraz was Ismu'llahu'l-Asdaq, Mulla Sadiq-i-Khurasani, to whom he entrusted the copy of the Khasa'il-i-Sab'ih, and stressed the necessity of putting into effect immediately all its provisions. Among its precepts was the emphatic injunction of the Bab to every loyal believer to add the following words to the traditional formula of the adhan:3 "I bear witness that He whose name is 'Ali-Qabl-i-Muhammad4 is the servant of the Baqiyyatu'llah."5 Mulla Sadiq, who in those days had been extolling from the pulpit-top to large audiences the virtues of the imams of the Faith, was so enraptured by the theme and language of that treatise that he unhesitatingly resolved to carry out all the observances it ordained. Driven by the impelling force inherent in that Tablet, he, one day as he was leading his congregation in prayer in the Masjid-i-Naw, suddenly proclaimed, as he was sounding the adhan, the additional words prescribed by the Bab. The multitude that [145] 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 prerogative?"


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, and generally designated in those days as Sahib-Ikhtiyar,6 found it necessary to intervene and to enquire into the cause of this sudden commotion. He was informed that a disciple 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."


Husayn Khan ordered the arrest of both Quddus 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 [146] 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 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,7 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."8


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.9 "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 [147] 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."10 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 vigour. None intervened in behalf of these sufferers, none was inclined to plead their cause. Soon after this, they were both expelled from Shiraz. Before their expulsion, they were warned that if they ever attempted to return to this city, they would both be crucified. By their sufferings they earned the immortal distinction of having been the first to be persecuted on Persian soil for the sake of their Faith. Mulla 'Aliy-i-Bastami, though the first to fall a victim to the relentless hate of the enemy, underwent his persecution in Iraq, which lay beyond the confines of Persia. Nor did his sufferings, intense as they were, compare with the hideousness and the barbaric cruelty which characterised the torture inflicted upon Quddus and Mulla Sadiq.


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 have grown indifferent. I was wondering whether the strokes that followed were being actually applied to my own body. A feeling [148] 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.


Husayn Khan's anger was not appeased by this atrocious and most undeserved chastisement. His wanton and capricious cruelty found further vent in the assault which he now directed against the person of the Bab.11 He despatched to Bushihr a mounted escort of his own trusted guard, with emphatic instructions to arrest the Bab and to bring Him in chains to Shiraz. The leader of that escort, a member of the Nusayri community, better known as the sect of 'Aliyu'llahi, related the following: "Having completed the third stage of our journey to Bushihr, we encountered, in the midst of the wilderness, a youth who wore a green sash and a small turban after the manner of the siyyids who are in the trading profession. He was on horseback, and was followed by an Ethiopian servant who was in charge of his belongings. As we approached him, he saluted us and enquired as to our destination. I thought it best to conceal from him the truth, and replied that in this vicinity we had been commanded by the governor of Fars to conduct a certain enquiry. He smilingly observed: 'The governor has sent you to arrest Me. Here am I; do with Me as you please. By [149] coming out to meet you, I have curtailed the length of your march, and have made it easier for you to find Me.' I was startled by his remarks and marvelled at his candour and straightforwardness. I could not explain, however, his readiness to subject himself, of his own accord, to the severe discipline of government officials, and to risk thereby his own life and safety. I tried to ignore him, and was preparing to leave, when he approached me and said: 'I swear by the righteousness of Him who created man, distinguished him from among the rest of His creatures, and caused his heart to be made the seat of His sovereignty and knowledge, that all My life I have uttered no word but the truth, and had no other desire except the welfare and advancement of My fellow-men. I have disdained My own ease and have avoided being the cause of pain or sorrow to anyone. I know that you are seeking Me. I prefer to deliver Myself into your hands, rather than subject you and your companions to unnecessary annoyance for My sake.' These words moved me profoundly. I instinctively dismounted from my horse, and, kissing his stirrups, addressed him in these words: 'O light of the eyes of the Prophet of God! I adjure you, by Him who has created you and endowed you with such loftiness and power, to grant my request and to answer my prayer. I beseech you to escape from this place and to flee from before the face of Husayn Khan, the ruthless and despicable governor of this province. I dread his machinations against you; I rebel at the idea of being made the instrument of his malignant designs against so innocent and noble a descendant of the Prophet of God. My companions are all honourable men. Their word is their bond. They will pledge themselves not to betray your flight. I pray you, betake yourself to the city of Mashhad in Khurasan, and avoid falling a victim to the brutality of this remorseless wolf.' To my earnest entreaty he gave this answer: 'May the Lord your God requite you for your magnanimity and noble intention. No one knows the mystery of My Cause; no one can fathom its secrets. Never will I turn My face away from the decree of God. He alone is My sure Stronghold, My Stay and My Refuge. Until My last hour is at hand, none dare assail Me, none can frustrate the plan of the Almighty. And when [150] My hour is come, how great will be My joy to quaff the cup of martyrdom in His name! Here am I; deliver Me into the hands of your master. Be not afraid, for no one will blame you.' I bowed my consent and carried out his desire."


The Bab straightway resumed His journey to Shiraz. Free and unfettered, He went before His escort, which followed Him in an attitude of respectful devotion. By the magic of His words, He had disarmed the hostility of His guards and transmuted their proud arrogance into humility and love. Reaching the city, they proceeded directly to the seat of the government. Whosoever observed the cavalcade marching through the streets could not help but marvel at this most unusual spectacle. Immediately Husayn Khan was informed of the arrival of the Bab, he summoned Him to his presence. He received Him with the utmost insolence and bade Him occupy a seat facing him in the centre of the room. He publicly rebuked Him, and in abusive language denounced His conduct. "Do you realise," he angrily protested, "what a great mischief you have kindled? Are you aware what a disgrace you have become to the holy Faith of Islam and to the august person of our sovereign? Are you not the man who claims to be the author of a new revelation which annuls the sacred precepts of the Qur'an?" The Bab calmly replied: "'If any bad man come unto you with news, clear up the matter at once, lest through ignorance ye harm others, and be speedily constrained to repent of what ye have done.'"12 These words inflamed the wrath of Husayn Khan. "What!" he exclaimed. "Dare you ascribe to us evil, ignorance, and folly?" Turning to his attendant, he bade him strike the Bab in the face. So violent was the blow, that the Bab's turban fell to the ground. Shaykh Abu-Turab, the Imam-Jum'ih of Shiraz, who was present at that meeting and who strongly disapproved of the conduct of Husayn Khan, ordered that the Bab's turban be replaced upon His head, and invited Him to be seated by his side. Turning to the governor, the Imam-Jum'ih explained to him the circumstances connected with the revelation of the verse of the Qur'an which the Bab had quoted, and sought by this means to calm his fury. "This verse which this youth has [151] quoted," he told him, "has made a profound impression upon me. The wise course, I feel, is to enquire into this matter with great care, and to judge him according to the precepts of the holy Book." Husayn Khan readily consented; whereupon Shaykh Abu-Turab questioned the Bab regarding the nature and character of His Revelation. The Bab denied the claim of being either the representative of the promised Qa'im or the intermediary between Him and the faithful. "We are completely satisfied," replied the Imam-Jum'ih; "we shall request you to present yourself on Friday in the Masjid-i-Vakil, and to proclaim publicly your denial." As Shaykh Abu-Turab arose to depart in the hope of terminating the proceedings, Husayn Khan intervened and said: "We shall require a person of recognised standing to give bail and surety for him, and to pledge his word in writing that if ever in future this youth should attempt by word or deed to prejudice the interests either of the Faith of Islam or of the government of this land, he would straightway deliver him into our hands, and regard himself under all circumstances responsible for his behaviour." Haji Mirza Siyyid 'Ali, the Bab's maternal uncle, who was present at that meeting, consented to act as the sponsor of his Nephew. In his own handwriting he wrote the pledge, affixed to it his seal, confirmed it by the signature of a number of witnesses, and delivered it to the governor; whereupon Husayn Khan ordered that the Bab be entrusted to the care of His uncle, with the condition that at whatever time the governor should deem it advisable, Haji Mirza Siyyid 'Ali would at once deliver the Bab into his hands.


Haji Mirza Siyyid 'Ali, his heart filled with gratitude to God, conducted the Bab to His home and committed Him to the loving care of His revered mother. He rejoiced at this family reunion and was greatly relieved by the deliverance of his dear and precious Kinsman from the grasp of that malignant tyrant. In the quiet of His own home, the Bab led for a time a life of undisturbed retirement. No one except His wife, His mother, and His uncles had any intercourse with Him. Meanwhile the mischief-makers were busily pressing Shaykh Abu-Turab to summon the Bab to the Masjid-i-Vakil and to call upon Him to fulfil His pledge. 


[153] Shaykh Abu-Turab was known to be a man of kindly disposition, and of a temperament and nature which bore a striking resemblance to the character of the late Mirza Abu'l-Qasim, the Imam-Jum'ih of Tihran. He was extremely reluctant to treat with contumely persons of recognised standing, particularly if these were residents of Shiraz. Instinctively he felt this to be his duty, observed it conscientiously, and was as a result universally esteemed by the people of that city. He therefore sought, through evasive answers and repeated postponements, to appease the indignation of the multitude. He found, however, that the stirrers-up of mischief and sedition were bending every effort further to inflame the feelings of general resentment which had seized the masses. He at length felt compelled to address a confidential message to Haji Mirza Siyyid 'Ali, requesting him to bring the Bab with him on Friday to the Masjid-i-Vakil, that He might fulfil the pledge He had given. "My hope," he added, "is that by the aid of God the statements of your nephew may ease the tenseness of the situation and may lead to your tranquillity as well as to our own."


The Bab, accompanied by Haji Mirza Siyyid 'Ali, arrived at the Masjid at a time when the Imam-Jum'ih had just ascended the pulpit and was preparing to deliver his sermon. As soon as his eyes fell upon the Bab, he publicly welcomed Him, requested Him to ascend the pulpit, and called upon Him to address the congregation. The Bab, responding to his invitation, advanced towards him and, standing on the first step of the staircase, prepared to address the people. "Come up higher," interjected the Imam-Jum'ih. Complying with his wish, the Bab ascended two more steps. As He was standing, His head hid the breast of Shaykh Abu-Turab, who was occupying the pulpit-top. He began by prefacing His public declaration with an introductory discourse. No sooner had He uttered the opening words of "Praise be to God, who hath in truth created the heavens and the earth," than a certain siyyid known as Siyyid-i-Shish-Pari, whose function was to carry the mace before the Imam-Jum'ih, insolently shouted: "Enough of this idle chatter! Declare, now and immediately, the thing you intend to say." The Imam-Jum'ih greatly resented the rudeness of the siyyid's [154] remark. "Hold your peace," he rebuked him, "and be ashamed of your impertinence." He then, turning to the Bab, asked Him to be brief, as this, he said, would allay the excitement of the people. The Bab, as He faced the congregation, declared: "The condemnation of God be upon him who regards me either as a representative of the Imam or the gate thereof. The condemnation of God be also upon whosoever imputes to me the charge of having denied the unity of God, of having repudiated the prophethood of Muhammad, the Seal of the Prophets, of having rejected the truth of any of the messengers of old, or of having refused to recognise the guardianship of 'Ali, the Commander of the Faithful, or of any of the imams who have succeeded him." He then ascended to the top of the staircase, embraced the Imam-Jum'ih, and, descending to the floor of the Masjid, joined the congregation for the observance of the Friday prayer. The Imam-Jum'ih intervened and requested Him to retire. "Your family," he said, "is anxiously awaiting your return. All are apprehensive lest any harm befall you. Repair to your house and there offer your prayer; of greater merit shall this deed be in the sight of God." Haji Mirza Siyyid 'Ali also was, at the request of the Imam-Jum'ih, asked to accompany his nephew to his home. This precautionary measure which Shaykh Abu-Turab thought it wise to observe was actuated by the fear lest, after the dispersion of the congregation, a few of the evil-minded among the crowd might still attempt to injure the person of the Bab or endanger His life. But for the sagacity, the sympathy, and the careful attention which the Imam-Jum'ih so strikingly displayed on a number of such occasions, the infuriated mob would doubtless have been led to gratify its savage desire, and would have committed the most abominable of excesses. He seemed to have been the instrument of the invisible Hand appointed to protect both the person and the Mission of that Youth.13 


[155] The Bab regained His home and for some time was able to lead, in the privacy of His house, and in close association with His family and kinsmen, a life of comparative tranquillity. In those days He celebrated the advent of the first Naw-Ruz since He had declared His Mission. That festival fell, in that year, on the tenth day of the month of Rabi'u'l-Avval, 1261 A.H.14


A few among those who were present on that memorable occasion in the Masjid-i-Vakil, and had listened to the statements of the Bab, were greatly impressed by the masterly manner in which that Youth had, by His unaided efforts, succeeded in silencing His formidable opponents. Soon after this event, they were each led to apprehend the reality of His Mission and to recognise its glory. Among them was Shaykh 'Ali Mirza, the nephew of this same Imam-Jum'ih, a young man who had just attained the age of maturity. The seed implanted in his heart grew and developed, until in the year 1267 A.H.15 he was privileged to meet Baha'u'llah in Iraq. That visit filled him with enthusiasm and joy. Returning greatly refreshed to his native land, he resumed with redoubled energy his labours for the Cause. From that year until the present time, he has persevered in his task, and has achieved distinction by the uprightness of his character and whole-hearted devotion to his government and country. Recently a letter addressed by him to Baha'u'llah has reached the Holy Land, in which he expresses his keen satisfaction at the progress of the Cause in Persia. "I am mute with wonder," he writes, "when I behold the evidences of God's unconquerable power manifested among the people of my country. In a land which has for years so savagely persecuted the Faith, a man who for forty years has been known throughout Persia as a Babi, has been made the sole arbitrator in a case of dispute which involves, on the one hand, the Zillu's-Sultan, the tyrannical son of the Shah and a sworn enemy of the Cause, and, on the other, Mirza Fath-'Ali Khan, the Sahib-i-Divan. It has been publicly announced that whatsoever be the verdict of this Babi, the same should be unreservedly accepted by both parties and should be unhesitatingly enforced." 


[156] A certain Muhammad-Karim who was among the congregation that Friday was likewise attracted by the Bab's remarkable behaviour on that occasion. What he saw and heard on that day brought about his immediate conversion. Persecution drove him out of Persia to Iraq, where, in the presence of Baha'u'llah, he continually deepened his understanding and faith. Later on he was bidden by Him to return to Shiraz and to endeavour to the best of his ability to propagate the Cause. There he remained and laboured to the end of his life.


Still another was Mirza Aqay-i-Rikab-Saz. He became so enamoured of the Bab on that day that no persecution, however severe and prolonged, was able either to shake his convictions or to obscure the radiance of his love. He, too, attained the presence of Baha'u'llah in Iraq. In answer to the questions which he asked regarding the interpretation of the Disconnected Letters of the Qur'an and the meaning of the Verse of Nur, he was favoured with an expressly written Tablet revealed by the pen of Baha'u'llah. In His path he eventually suffered martyrdom.


Among them also was Mirza Rahim-i-Khabbaz, who distinguished himself by his fearlessness and fiery ardour. He relaxed not in his efforts until the hour of his death.


Haji Abu'l-Hasan-i-Bazzaz, who, as a fellow-traveller of the Bab during His pilgrimage to Hijaz, had but dimly recognised the overpowering majesty of His Mission, was, on that memorable Friday, profoundly shaken and completely transformed. He bore the Bab such love that tears of an overpowering devotion continually flowed from his eyes. All who knew him admired the uprightness of his conduct and praised his benevolence and candour. He, as well as his two sons, has proved by his deeds the tenacity of his faith, and has won the esteem of his fellow-believers.


And yet another of those who felt the fascination of the Bab on that day was the late Haji Muhammad-Bisat, a man well-versed in the metaphysical teachings of Islam and a great admirer of both Shaykh Ahmad and Siyyid Kazim. He was of a kindly disposition and was gifted with a keen sense of humour. He had won the friendship of the Imam-Jum'ih, [157] was intimately associated with him, and was a faithful attendant at the Friday congregational prayer.


The Naw-Ruz of that year, which heralded the advent of a new springtime, was also symbolic of that spiritual rebirth, the first stirrings of which could already be discerned throughout the length and breadth of the land. A number of the most eminent and learned among the people of that country emerged from the wintry desolation of heedlessness, and were quickened by the reviving breath of the new-born Revelation. The seeds which the Hand of Omnipotence had implanted in their hearts germinated into blossoms of the purest and loveliest fragrance.16 As the breeze of His loving-kindness and tender mercy wafted over these blossoms, the penetrating power of their perfume spread far and wide over the face of all that land. It diffused itself even beyond the confines of Persia. It reached Karbila and reanimated the souls of those who were waiting in expectation for the return [158] of the Bab to their city. Soon after Naw-Ruz, an epistle reached them by way of Basrih, in which the Bab, who had intended to return from Hijaz to Persia by way of Karbila, informed them of the change in His plan and of His consequent inability to fulfil His promise. He directed them to proceed to Isfahan and remain there until the receipt of further instructions. "Should it be deemed advisable," He added, "We shall request you to proceed to Shiraz; if not, tarry in Isfahan until such time as God may make known to you His will and guidance."


The receipt of this unexpected intelligence created a considerable stir among those who had been eagerly awaiting the arrival of the Bab at Karbila. It agitated their minds and tested their loyalty. "What of His promise to us?" whispered a few of the discontented among them. "Does He regard the breaking of His pledge as the interposition of the will of God?" The others, unlike those waverers, became more steadfast in their faith and clung with added determination to the Cause. Faithful to their Master, they joyously responded to His invitation, ignoring entirely the criticisms and protestations of those who had faltered in their faith.


[159] They set out for Isfahan, determined to abide by whatsoever might be the will and desire of their Beloved. They were joined by a few of their companions, who, though gravely shaken in their belief, concealed their feelings. Mirza Muhammad-'Aliy-i-Nahri, whose daughter was subsequently joined in wedlock with the Most Great Branch, and Mirza Hadi, the brother of Mirza Muhammad-'Ali, both residents of Isfahan, were among those companions whose vision of the glory and sublimity of the Faith the expressed misgivings of the evil whisperers had failed to obscure. Among them, too, was a certain Muhammad-i-Hana-Sab, also a resident of Isfahan, who is now serving in the home of Baha'u'llah. A number of these staunch companions of the Bab participated in the great struggle of Shaykh Tabarsi and miraculously escaped the tragic fate of their fallen brethren.


On their way to Isfahan they met, in the city of Kangavar, Mulla Husayn with his brother and nephew, who were his companions on his previous visit to Shiraz, and who were proceeding to Karbila. They were greatly delighted by this unexpected encounter, and requested Mulla Husayn to prolong his stay in Kangavar, with which request he readily complied. Mulla Husayn, who, while in that city, led the companions of the Bab in the Friday congregational prayer, was held in such esteem and reverence by his fellow-disciples that a number of those present, who later on, in Shiraz, revealed their disloyalty to the Faith, were moved with envy. Among them were Mulla Javad-i-Baraghani and Mulla 'Abdu'l-'Aliy-i-Harati, both of whom feigned submission to the Revelation of the Bab in the hope of satisfying their ambition for leadership. They both strove secretly to undermine the enviable position achieved by Mulla Husayn. Through their hints and insinuations, they persistently endeavoured to challenge his authority and disgrace his name.


I have heard Mirza Ahmad-i-Katib, better known in those days as Mulla 'Abdu'l-Karim, who had been the travelling companion of Mulla Javad from Qazvin, relate the following: "Mulla Javad often alluded in his conversation with me to Mulla Husayn. His repeated and disparaging remarks, couched in artful language, impelled me to cease my association with him. Every time I determined to sever my [160] intercourse with Mulla Javad, I was prevented by Mulla Husayn, who, discovering my intention, counselled me to exercise forbearance towards him. Mulla Husayn's association with the loyal companions of the Bab greatly added to their zeal and enthusiasm. They were edified by his example and were lost in admiration for the brilliant qualities of mind and heart which distinguished so eminent a fellow-disciple."


Mulla Husayn decided to join the company of his friends and to proceed with them to Isfahan. Travelling alone, at about a farsakh's17 distance in advance of his companions, he, as soon as he paused at nightfall to offer his prayer, would be overtaken by them and would, in their company, complete his devotions. He would be the first to resume the journey, and would again be joined by that devoted band at the hour of dawn, when he once more would break his march to offer his prayer. Only when pressed by his friends would he consent to observe the congregational form of worship. On such occasions he would sometimes follow the lead of one of his companions. Such was the devotion which he had kindled in those hearts that a number of his fellow-travellers would dismount from their steeds and, offering them to those who were journeying on foot, would themselves follow him, utterly indifferent to the strain and fatigues of the march.


As they approached the outskirts of Isfahan, Mulla Husayn, fearing that the sudden entry of so large a group of people might excite the curiosity and suspicion of its inhabitants, advised those who were travelling with him to disperse and to enter the gates in small and inconspicuous numbers. A few days after their arrival, there reached them the news that Shiraz was in a state of violent agitation, that all manner of intercourse with the Bab had been forbidden, and that their projected visit to that city would be fraught with the gravest danger. Mulla Husayn, quite undaunted by this sudden intelligence, decided to proceed to Shiraz. He acquainted only a few of his trusted companions with his intention. Discarding his robes and turban, and wearing the jubbih18 and kulah of the people of Khurasan, he, disguising himself as a horseman of Hizarih and Quchan and accompanied by his brother and nephew, set out at an unexpected hour for the [161] city of his Beloved. As he approached its gate, he instructed his brother to proceed in the dead of night to the house of the Bab's maternal uncle and to request him to inform the Bab of his arrival. Mulla Husayn received, the next day, the welcome news that Haji Mirza Siyyid 'Ali was expecting him an hour after sunset outside the gate of the city. Mulla Husayn met him at the appointed hour and was conducted to his home. Several times at night did the Bab honour that house with His presence, and continue in close association with Mulla Husayn until the break of day. Soon after this, He gave permission to His companions who had gathered in Isfahan, to leave gradually for Shiraz, and there to wait until it should be feasible for Him to meet them. He cautioned them to exercise the utmost vigilance, instructed them to enter, a few at a time, the gate of the city, and bade them disperse, immediately upon their arrival, into such quarters as were reserved for travellers, and accept whatever employment they could find.


The first group to reach the city and meet the Bab, a few days after the arrival of Mulla Husayn, consisted of Mirza Muhammad-'Aliy-i-Nahri, Mirza Hadi, his brother; Mulla 'Abdu'l-Karim-i-Qazvini, Mulla Javad-i-Baraghani, Mulla 'Abdu'l-'Aliy-i-Harati, and Mirza Ibrahim-i-Shirazi. In the course of their association with Him, the last three of the group gradually betrayed their blindness of heart and demonstrated the baseness of their character. The manifold evidences of the Bab's increasing favour towards Mulla Husayn aroused their anger and excited the smouldering fire of their jealousy. In their impotent rage, they resorted to the abject weapons of fraud and of calumny. Unable at first to manifest openly their hostility to Mulla Husayn, they sought by every crafty device to beguile the minds and damp the affections of his devoted admirers. Their unseemly behaviour alienated the sympathy of the believers and precipitated their separation from the company of the faithful. Expelled by their very acts from the bosom of the Faith, they leagued themselves with its avowed enemies and proclaimed their utter rejection of its claims and principles. So great was the mischief which they stirred up among the people of that city that they were eventually expelled by the civil authorities, [162] who alike despised and feared their plottings. The Bab has in a Tablet, in which He expatiates upon their machinations and misdeeds, compared them to the calf of the Samiri, the calf that had neither voice nor soul, which was both the abject handiwork and the object of the adoration of a wayward people. "May Thy condemnation, O God!" He wrote, with reference to Mulla Javad and Mulla 'Abdu'l-'Ali, "rest upon the Jibt and Taghut,19 the twin idols of this perverse people." All three subsequently proceeded to Kirman and joined forces with Haji Mirza Muhammad Karim Khan, whose designs they furthered and the vehemence of whose denunciations they strove to reinforce.


One night after their expulsion from Shiraz, the Bab, who was visiting the home of Haji Mirza Siyyid 'Ali, where He had summoned to meet Him Mirza Muhammad-'Aliy-i-Nahri, Mirza Hadi, and Mulla 'Abdu'l-Karim-i-Qazvini, turned suddenly to the last-named and said: "'Abdu'l-Karim, are you seeking the Manifestation?" These words, uttered with calm and extreme gentleness, had a startling effect upon him. He paled at this sudden interrogation and burst into tears. He threw himself at the feet of the Bab in a state of profound agitation. The Bab took him lovingly in His arms, kissed his forehead, and invited him to be seated by His side. In a tone of tender affection, He succeeded in appeasing the tumult of his heart.


As soon as they had regained their home, Mirza Muhammad-'Ali and his brother enquired of Mulla 'Abdu'l-Karim the reason for the violent perturbation which had suddenly seized him. "Hear me," he answered; "I will relate to you the tale of a strange experience, a tale which I have shared with no one until now. When I attained the age of maturity, I felt, while I lived in Qazvin, a profound yearning to unravel the mystery of God and to apprehend the nature of His saints and prophets. Nothing short of the acquisition of learning, I realised, could enable me to achieve my goal. I succeeded in obtaining the consent of my father and uncles to the abandonment of my business, and plunged immediately into study and research. I occupied a room in one of the madrisihs of Qazvin, and concentrated my efforts on the [163] acquisition of every available branch of human learning. I often discussed the knowledge which I acquired with my fellow-disciples, and sought by this means to enrich my experience. At night, I would retire to my home, and, in the seclusion of my library, would devote many an hour to undisturbed study. I was so immersed in my labours that I grew indifferent to both sleep and hunger. Within two years I had resolved to master the intricacies of Muslim jurisprudence and theology. I was a faithful attendant at the lectures given by Mulla 'Abdu'l-Karim-i-Iravani, who, in those days, ranked as the most outstanding divine of Qazvin. I greatly admired his vast erudition, his piety and virtue. Every night during the period that I was his disciple, I devoted my time to the writing of a treatise which I submitted to him and which he revised with care and interest. He seemed to be greatly pleased with my progress, and often extolled my high attainments. One day, in the presence of his assembled disciples, he declared: 'The learned and sagacious Mulla 'Abdu'l-Karim has qualified himself to expound authoritatively the sacred Scriptures of Islam. He no longer needs to attend either my classes or those of my equals. I shall, please God, celebrate his elevation to the rank of a mujtahid on the morning of the coming Friday, and will deliver his certificate to him after the congregational prayer.'


"No sooner had Mulla 'Abdu'l-Karim spoken these words and departed than his disciples came forward and heartily congratulated me on my accomplishments. I returned, greatly elated, to my home. Upon my arrival I discovered that both my father and my elder uncle, Haji Husayn-'Ali, both of whom were greatly esteemed throughout Qazvin, were preparing a feast in my honour, with which they intended to celebrate the completion of my studies. I requested them to postpone the invitation they had extended to the notables of Qazvin until further notice from me. They gladly consented, believing that in my eagerness for such a festival I would not unduly postpone it. That night I repaired to my library and, in the privacy of my cell, pondered the following thoughts in my heart: Had you not fondly imagined, I said to myself, that only the sanctified in spirit could ever hope to attain the station of an authoritative expounder of the [164] sacred Scriptures of Islam? Was it not your belief that whoso attained this station would be immune from error? Are you not already accounted among those who enjoy that rank? Has not Qazvin's most distinguished divine recognised and declared you to be such? Be fair. Do you in your own heart regard yourself as having attained that state of purity and sublime detachment which you, in days past, considered the requisites for one who aspires to reach that exalted position? Think you yourself to be free from every taint of selfish desire? As I sat musing, a feeling of my own unworthiness gradually overpowered me. I recognised myself as still a victim of cares and perplexities, of temptations and doubts. I was oppressed by such thoughts as to how I should conduct my classes, how to lead my congregation in prayer, how to enforce the laws and precepts of the Faith. I felt continually anxious as to how I should discharge my duties, how to ensure the superiority of my achievements over those who had preceded me. I was overcome with such a sense of humiliation that I felt impelled to seek forgiveness from God. Your aim in acquiring all this learning, I thought to myself, has been to unravel the mystery of God and to attain the state of certitude. Be fair. Are you sure of your own interpretation of the Qur'an? Are you certain that the laws which you promulgate reflect the will of God? The consciousness of error suddenly dawned upon me. I realised for the first time how the rust of learning had corroded my soul and had obscured my vision. I lamented my past, and deplored the futility of my endeavours. I knew that the people of my own rank were subject to the same afflictions. As soon as they had acquired this so-called learning, they would claim to be the exponents of the law of Islam and would arrogate to themselves the exclusive privilege of pronouncing upon its doctrine.


"I remained absorbed in my thoughts until dawn. That night I neither ate nor slept. At times I would commune with God: 'Thou seest me, O my Lord, and Thou beholdest my plight. Thou knowest that I cherish no other desire except Thy holy will and pleasure. I am lost in bewilderment at the thought of the multitude of sects into which Thy holy Faith hath fallen. I am deeply perplexed when I behold the [165] schisms that have torn the religions of the past. Wilt Thou guide me in my perplexities, and relieve me of my doubts? Whither am I to turn for consolation and guidance?' I wept so bitterly that night that I seemed to have lost consciousness. There suddenly came to me the vision of a great gathering of people, the expression of whose shining faces greatly impressed me. A noble figure, attired in the garb of a siyyid, occupied a seat on the pulpit facing the congregation. He was expounding the meaning of this sacred verse of the Qur'an: 'Whoso maketh efforts for Us, in Our ways will We guide them.' I was fascinated by his face. I arose, advanced towards him, and was on the point of throwing myself at his feet when that vision suddenly vanished. My heart was flooded with light. My joy was indescribable.


"I immediately decided to consult Haji Allah-Vardi, father of Muhammad-Javad-i-Farhadi, a man known throughout Qazvin for his deep spiritual insight. When I related to him my vision, he smiled and with extraordinary precision described to me the distinguishing features of the siyyid who had appeared to me. 'That noble figure,' he added, 'was none other than Haji Siyyid Kazim-i-Rashti, who is now in Karbila and who may be seen expounding every day to his disciples the sacred teachings of Islam. Those who listen to his discourse are refreshed and edified by his utterance. I can never describe the impression which his words exert upon his hearers.' I joyously arose and, expressing to him my feelings of profound appreciation, retired to my home and started forthwith on my journey to Karbila. My old fellow-disciples came and entreated me either to call in person on the learned Mulla 'Abdu'l-Karim, who had expressed a desire to meet me, or to allow him to come to my house. 'I feel the impulse,' I replied, 'to visit the shrine of the Imam Husayn at Karbila. I have vowed to start immediately on that pilgrimage. I cannot postpone my departure. I will, if possible, visit him for a few moments when I start to leave the city. If I cannot, I would beg him to excuse me and to pray in my behalf that I may be guided on the straight path.'


"I confidentially acquainted my relatives with the nature of my vision and its interpretation. I informed them of my projected visit to Karbila. My words to them that very day [166] instilled the love of Siyyid Kazim in their hearts. They felt greatly drawn to Haji Allah-Vardi, freely associated with him, and became his fervent admirers.


"My brother, 'Abdu'l-Hamid [who later quaffed the cup of martyrdom in Tihran], accompanied me on my journey to Karbila. There I met Siyyid Kazim and was amazed to hear him discourse to his assembled disciples under exactly the same circumstances as he had appeared to me in my vision. I was astounded when I discovered, upon my arrival, that he was expounding the meaning of the same verse which he, when he appeared to me, was explaining to his disciples. As I sat and listened to him, I was greatly impressed by the force of his argument and the profundity of his thoughts. He graciously received me and showed me the utmost kindness. My brother and I both felt an inner joy we had never before experienced. At the hour of dawn we would hasten to his home, and would accompany him on his visit to the shrine of the Imam Husayn.


"I spent the entire winter in close companionship with him. During the whole of that period, I faithfully attended his classes. Every time I listened to his speech, I heard him describe a particular aspect of the manifestation of the promised Qa'im. This theme constituted the sole subject of his discourses. Whichever verse or tradition he happened to be expounding, he would invariably conclude his commentary on it with a particular reference to the advent of the promised Revelation. 'The promised One,' he would openly and repeatedly declare, 'lives in the midst of this people. The appointed time for His appearance is fast approaching. Prepare the way for Him, and purify yourselves so that you may recognise His beauty. Not until I depart from this world will the day-star of His countenance be revealed. It behoves you after my departure to arise and seek Him. You should not rest for one moment until you find Him.'


"After the celebration of Naw-Ruz, Siyyid Kazim bade me depart from Karbila. 'Rest assured, O 'Abdu'l-Karim,' he told me as he bade me farewell, 'you are of those who, in the Day of His Revelation, will arise for the triumph of His Cause. You will, I hope, remember me on that blessed Day.' I besought him to allow me to remain in Karbila, pleading [167] that my return to Qazvin would arouse the enmity of the mullas of that city. 'Let your trust be wholly in God,' was his reply. 'Ignore entirely their machinations. Engage in trade, and rest assured that their protestations will never succeed in harming you.' I followed his advice, and together with my brother set out for Qazvin.


"Immediately upon my arrival, I undertook to carry out the counsel of Siyyid Kazim. With the instructions he had given me, I was able to silence every malicious opposer. I devoted my days to the transaction of my business; at night I would regain my home and, in the quiet of my chamber, would consecrate my time to meditation and prayer. With tearful eyes I would commune with God and would beseech Him, saying: 'Thou hast, by the mouth of Thine inspired servant, promised that I shall attain unto Thy Day, and shall behold Thy Revelation. Thou hast, through him, assured me that I shall be among those who will arise for the triumph of Thy Cause. How long wilt Thou withhold from me Thy promise? When will the hand of Thy loving-kindness unlock to me the door of Thy grace, and confer upon me Thy everlasting bounty?' Every night I would renew this prayer and would continue in my supplications until the break of day.


"One night, on the eve of the day of 'Arafih, in the year 1255 A.H.,20 I was so wrapt in prayer that I seemed to have fallen into a trance. There appeared before me a bird, white as the snow, which hovered above my head and alighted upon the twig of a tree beside me. In accents of indescribable sweetness, that bird voiced these words: 'Are you seeking the Manifestation, O 'Abdu'l-Karim? Lo, the year '60.' Immediately after, the bird flew away and vanished. The mystery of those words greatly agitated me. The memory of the beauty of that vision lingered long in my mind. I seemed to have tasted all the delights of Paradise. My joy was irrepressible.


"The mystic message of that bird had penetrated my soul and was continually on my lips. I revolved it constantly in my mind. I shared it with no one, fearing lest its sweetness forsake me. A few years later, the Call from Shiraz reached my ears. The day I heard it, I hastened to that city. On [168] my way I met, in Tihran, Mulla Muhammad-i-Mu'allim, who acquainted me with the nature of this Call, and informed me that those who had acknowledged it had gathered in Karbila and were awaiting the return of their Leader from Hijaz. I immediately departed for that city. From Hamadan, Mulla Javad-i-Baraghani, to my great distress, accompanied me to Karbila, where I was privileged to meet you as well as the rest of the believers. I continued to treasure within my heart the strange message conveyed to me by that bird. When I subsequently attained the presence of the Bab and heard from His lips those same words, spoken in the same tone and language as I had heard them, I realised their significance. I was so overwhelmed by their power and glory that I instinctively fell at His feet and magnified His name."


In the early days of the year 1265 A.H.,21 I set out, at the age of eighteen, from my native village of Zarand for Qum, where I chanced to meet Siyyid Isma'il-i-Zavari'i, surnamed Dhabih, who later on, while in Baghdad, offered up his life as a sacrifice in the path of Baha'u'llah. Through him I was led to recognise the new Revelation. He was then preparing to leave for Mazindaran and had determined to join the heroic defenders of the fort of Shaykh Tabarsi. He had intended to take me with him, together with Mirza Fathu'llah-i-Hakkak, a lad of my age, who was a resident of Qum. As circumstances interfered with his plan, he promised before his departure that he would communicate with us from Tihran and would ask us to join him. In the course of his conversation with Mirza Fathu'llah and me, he related to us the account of Mulla 'Abdu'l-Karim's marvellous experience. I was seized with an ardent desire to meet him. When I subsequently arrived at Tihran and met Siyyid Isma'il in the Madrisiy-i-Daru'sh-Shafay-i-Masjid-i-Shah, I was introduced by him to this same Mulla 'Abdu'l-Karim, who was then living in that same madrisih. In those days we were informed that the struggle of Shaykh Tabarsi had come to an end, and that those companions of the Bab who had gathered in Tihran and were contemplating joining their brethren had each returned to his own province unable to achieve his goal. Mulla 'Abdu'l-Karim remained in the [169] capital, where he devoted his time to transcribing the Persian Bayan. My close association with him at that time served to deepen my love and admiration for him. I still feel, after the lapse of eight and thirty years since our first interview in Tihran, the warmth of his friendship and the fervour of his faith. My feelings of affectionate regard for him prompted me to dwell at length upon the circumstances of his early life, culminating in what may be regarded as the turning point of his whole career. May it in turn serve to awaken the reader to the glory of this momentous Revelation.


FOOTNOTES


8.1. Similar to a caravanserai.


8.2. Literally meaning "The Seven Qualifications."


8.3. Refer to Glossary. 


8.4. Reference to the name of the Bab. 


8.5. Reference to Baha'u'llah. Refer to Glossary.


8.6. According to the "Tarikh-i-Jadid" (p. 204), he was also styled "Nizamu'd-Dawlih."


8.7. "One of the tribes of Turan, a Turkish family, called the Qajar, which first appeared in Persia in the invading army of Changiz Khan." (C. R. Markham's "A General Sketch of the History of Persia," p. 339.) 


8.8. According to A. L. M. Nicolas' "Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab" (footnote 175, p. 225), this meeting took place on August 6, 1845 A.D. 


8.9. According to the "Traveller's Narrative" (p. 5), a certain Mulla 'Ali-Akbar-i-Ardistani was, together with them, subjected to the same persecution.


8.10. Qur'an, 3:193.


8.11. "This city became the arena for passionate discussions which profoundly troubled the general peace. The curious, the pilgrims, the scandal-mongers met there commenting upon the news, approving or blaming, exalting the young Siyyid, or, on the contrary, heaping upon him maledictions and insults. Everyone was excited and enervated. The Mullas saw with bitter anxiety the growing number of adherents to the new doctrine and their resources diminished correspondingly. It became necessary to act, as prolonged tolerance would empty the mosques of their believers who were convinced that since Islam did not defend itself, it acknowledged defeat. On the other hand, Husayn Khan, governor of Shiraz, Nizamu'd-Dawlih, feared that, in letting things drift, the scandal would become such that later it would be impossible to suppress it; that would be to court disgrace. Besides, the Bab did not content himself with preaching, he called to himself men of good-will. 'He who knows the Word of God and does not come to His assistance in the days of violence is exactly like those who turned away from the testimony of his holiness Husayn, son of 'Ali, at Karbila. Those are the impious ones!' (Kitab-i-Baynu'l-Haramayn.) The civil interests concurring with the interests of heaven, Nizamu'd-Dawlih and Shaykh Abu-Turab, the Imam-Jum'ih agreed that humiliation should be inflicted upon the innovator such as would discredit him in the eyes of the populace; perhaps thus they might succeed in quieting things." (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab," pp. 229-230.)


8.12. Qur'an, 49:6.


8.13. "Following this public seance provoked by the folly of the mullas and which won for him numerous partisans, the trouble became serious in all the provinces of Persia; the dispute grew into such a grave situation that Muhammad Shah sent to Shiraz a man in whom he had complete confidence, instructing him to make a report of everything he saw and understood. This envoy was Siyyid Yahyay-i-Darabi." (A. L. M. Nicolas' Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab," pp. 232-233.)


8.14. March, 1845 A.D. 


8.15. 1850-51 A.D.


8.16. "Be that as it may, the resultant impression was immense in Shiraz and all the learned and religious gathered around 'Ali-Muhammad. As soon as he appeared in the mosque, they surrounded him and, as soon as he was seated in the pulpit, everyone was silent in order to listen to him. His public talks never attacked the essentials of the Faith of Islam, they respected most of its ritual; in fact, the Kitman dominated. Nevertheless, they were daring discourses. The clergy was not spared; its vices were cruelly lashed. The sad and painful destiny of humanity was generally the theme. Here and there, certain allusions, the obscurity of which irritated the passions of some while it flattered the pride of others already initiated as a whole or only in part, gave to his prophecies such a bitter truth that the crowd was growing day by day and so, in all Persia, they were beginning to talk of 'Ali-Muhammad. "The Mullas of Shiraz had not waited for all this agitation to unite against this young detractor. From his first public appearances, they sent to him their most able mullas to argue with him and confuse him, and these public debates were held either in the mosques or in the colleges in the presence of the governor, the military chiefs, the clergy, the people, in fact before everyone. But, instead of benefiting the clergy, they contributed quite a little to spread and exalt, at their own expense, the renown of this enthusiastic teacher. It is a fact that he defeated his adversaries, he condemned them—which was not very difficult—with the Qur'an in hand. It was an easy matter for him to show before all these crowds who knew the mullas well, at which point their conduct, their precepts, and to what extent their beliefs, even their theology, were in flagrant contradiction with the Book, which they could not deny. "Possessed of extraordinary daring and exaltation, he flayed unsparingly the vices of his antagonists, disregarding all ordinary conventions. After having proven their infidelity to their own doctrine, he shamed them in their lives and threw them at pitch and toss to the indignation or the contempt of the auditors. "At Shiraz, his first appearances, when he preached, were so profoundly moving that even the orthodox Muhammadans who were present have retained an indelible memory of them and never recall them without a sort of terror. They agreed unanimously that the eloquence of 'Ali-Muhammad was of an incomparable kind, such that, without having been an eye-witness, one could not possibly imagine. Soon the young theologian no longer appeared in public without being surrounded with many partisans. His house was always filled with them and he not only taught in the mosques and in the colleges, but it was principally at his house and in the evenings that, withdrawn in a room with the elite of his admirers, he lifted for them the veils of a doctrine which even for himself he had not yet fully established. "It seemed in these early days that he was occupied with polemics rather than with dogmatic statements and nothing is more natural. In these secret talks, his bold declarations which were much more frequent than in the public addresses, grew each day and tended so clearly to a complete overthrow of Islam that they were a prelude to a new profession of Faith. The little congregation was ardent, brave, carried away, ready for anything; they were fanatical in the true and noble sense of the word, that is to say, that every one of its members thought himself of no importance and burned with a desire to sacrifice his life-blood and his belongings for the cause of Truth." (Comte de Gobineau's "Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale," pp. 120, 122.) "The Bab now began to gather round him a group of devoted adherents. He seems to have been noted for extreme simplicity of manner, and engaging gentleness, and a wonderful charm of appearance. Men were impressed by his knowledge and his penetrating eloquence of speech. And his writings, though to Gobineau they appeared dull, were greatly admired by the Persians for the beauty and elegance of their style and produced an immense sensation in Shiraz. As soon as he entered the mosque it was surrounded. As soon as he ascended the pulpit there was silence." (Sir Francis Younghusband's "The Gleam," p. 194.) "These ethics taught by a young man at an age when passions were intense, deeply impressed an audience, religious to the point of fanaticism, above all when the words of the preacher were in perfect harmony with his conduct. No one doubted the continence and the firmness of Karbila'i Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad; he spoke little, meditated constantly and most of the time fled from the presence of men, which all the more aroused their curiosity. He was sought after everywhere." (Journal Asiatique, 1866, tome 7, p. 341.) "By the uprightness of his life the young Siyyid served as an example to those about him. He was willingly listened to when, in his ambiguous and interrupted talks, he condemned the abuses evident in all classes of society. His words were repeated and elaborated upon and they spoke of him as the true Master and gave themselves to him unreservedly." (Ibid.)


8.17. Refer to Glossary. 


8.18. Refer to Glossary.


8.19. Qur'an, 4:50.


8.20. The night preceding February 13, 1840 A.D.


8.21. 1848 A.D.



CHAPTER IX

THE BAB'S STAY IN SHIRAZ AFTER THE PILGRIMAGE 

(Continued)


[170] Soon after the arrival of Mulla Husayn at Shiraz, the voice of the people rose again in protest against him. The fear and indignation of the multitude were excited by the knowledge of his continued and intimate intercourse with the Bab. "He again has come to our city," they clamoured; "he again has raised the standard of revolt, and is, together with his chief, contemplating a still fiercer onslaught upon our time-honoured institutions." So grave and menacing became the situation that the Bab instructed Mulla Husayn to regain, by way of Yazd, his native province of Khurasan. He likewise dismissed the rest of His companions who had gathered in Shiraz, and bade them return to Isfahan. He retained Mulla 'Abdu'l-Karim, to whom He assigned the duty of transcribing His writings.


These precautionary measures which the Bab deemed wise to undertake, relieved Him from the immediate danger of violence from the infuriated people of Shiraz, and served to lend a fresh impetus to the propagation of His Faith beyond the limits of that city. His disciples, who had spread throughout the length and breadth of the country, fearlessly proclaimed to the multitude of their countrymen the regenerating power of the new-born Revelation. The fame of the Bab had been noised abroad and had reached the ears of those who held the highest seats of authority, both in the capital and throughout the provinces.1 A wave of passionate enquiry swayed the minds and hearts of both the leaders and the [171] masses of the people. Amazement and wonder had seized those who had heard from the lips of the immediate messengers of the Bab the tales of those signs and testimonies which had heralded the birth of His Manifestation. The dignitaries of State and Church either attended in person or delegated their ablest representatives to enquire into the truth and character of this remarkable Movement. Muhammad Shah2 himself was moved to ascertain the veracity of these reports and to enquire into their nature. He delegated Siyyid Yahyay-i-Darabi,3 the most learned, the most eloquent, and the most influential of his subjects, to interview the Bab and to report to him the results of his investigations. The Shah had implicit confidence in his impartiality, in his competence and profound spiritual insight. He occupied a position of such pre-eminence among the leading figures in Persia that at whatever meeting he happened to be present, no matter how great the number of the ecclesiastical leaders who attended it, he was invariably its chief speaker. None would dare to assert his views in his presence. They all reverently observed silence before him; all testified to his sagacity, his unsurpassed knowledge and mature wisdom. [172] 

In those days Siyyid Yahya was residing in Tihran in the house of Mirza Lutf-'Ali, the Master of Ceremonies to the Shah, as the honoured guest of his Imperial Majesty. The Shah confidentially signified through Mirza Lutf-'Ali his desire and pleasure that Siyyid Yahya should proceed to Shiraz and investigate the matter in person. "Tell him from us," commanded the sovereign, "that inasmuch as we repose the utmost confidence in his integrity, and admire his moral and intellectual standards, and regard him as the most suitable among the divines of our realm, we expect him to proceed to Shiraz, to enquire thoroughly into the episode of the Siyyid-i-Bab, and to inform us of the results of his investigations. We shall then know what measures it behoves us to take."


Siyyid Yahya had been himself desirous of obtaining first-hand knowledge of the claims of the Bab, but had been unable, owing to adverse circumstances, to undertake the journey to Fars. The message of Muhammad Shah decided him to carry out his long-cherished intention. Assuring his sovereign of his readiness to comply with his wish, he immediately set out for Shiraz.


On his way, he conceived the various questions which he thought he would submit to the Bab. Upon the replies which the latter gave to these questions would, in his view, depend the truth and validity of His mission. Upon his arrival at Shiraz, he met Mulla Shaykh 'Ali, surnamed 'Azim, with whom he had been intimately associated while in Khurasan. He asked him whether he was satisfied with his interview with the Bab. "You should meet Him," 'Azim replied, "and seek independently to acquaint yourself with His Mission. As a friend, I would advise you to exercise the utmost consideration [173] in your conversations with Him, lest you, too, in the end should be obliged to deplore any act of discourtesy towards Him."


Siyyid Yahya met the Bab at the home of Haji Mirza Siyyid 'Ali, and exercised in his attitude towards Him the courtesy which 'Azim had counselled him to observe. For about two hours he directed the attention of the Bab to the most abstruse and bewildering themes in the metaphysical teachings of Islam, to the obscurest passages of the Qur'an, and to the mysterious traditions and prophecies of the imams of the Faith. The Bab at first listened to his learned references to the law and prophecies of Islam, noted all his questions, and began to give to each a brief but persuasive reply. The conciseness and lucidity of His answers excited the wonder and admiration of Siyyid Yahya. He was overpowered by a sense of humiliation at his own presumptuousness and pride. His sense of superiority completely vanished. As he arose to depart, he addressed the Bab in these words: "Please God, I shall, in the course of my next audience with You, submit the rest of my questions and with them shall conclude my enquiry." As soon as he retired, he joined 'Azim, to whom he related the account of his interview. "I have in His presence," he told him, "expatiated unduly upon my own learning. He was able in a few words to answer my questions and to resolve my perplexities. I felt so abased before Him that I hurriedly begged leave to retire." 'Azim reminded him of his counsel, and begged him not to forget this time the advice he had given him.


In the course of his second interview, Siyyid Yahya, to his amazement, discovered that all the questions which he had intended to submit to the Bab had vanished from his memory. He contented himself with matters that seemed irrelevant to the object of his enquiry. He soon found, to his still greater surprise, that the Bab was answering, with the same lucidity and conciseness that had characterised His previous replies, those same questions which he had momentarily forgotten. "I seemed to have fallen fast asleep," he later observed. "His words, His answers to questions which I had forgotten to ask, reawakened me. A voice still kept whispering in my ear: 'Might not this, after all, have [174] been an accidental coincidence?' I was too agitated to collect my thoughts. I again begged leave to retire. 'Azim, whom I subsequently met, received me with cold indifference, and sternly remarked: 'Would that schools had been utterly abolished, and that neither of us had entered one! Through our little-mindedness and conceit, we are withholding from ourselves the redeeming grace of God, and are causing pain to Him who is the Fountain thereof. Will you not this time beseech God to grant that you may be enabled to attain His presence with becoming humility and detachment, that perchance He may graciously relieve you from the oppression of uncertainty and doubt?'


"I resolved that in my third interview with the Bab I would in my inmost heart request Him to reveal for me a commentary on the Surih of Kawthar.4 I determined not to breathe that request in His presence. Should he, unasked by me, reveal this commentary in a manner that would immediately distinguish it in my eyes from the prevailing standards current among the commentators on the Qur'an, I then would be convinced of the Divine character of His Mission, and would readily embrace His Cause. If not, I would refuse to acknowledge Him. As soon as I was ushered into His presence, a sense of fear, for which I could not account, suddenly seized me. My limbs quivered as I beheld His face. I, who on repeated occasions had been introduced into the presence of the Shah and had never discovered the slightest trace of timidity in myself, was now so awed and shaken that I could not remain standing on my feet. The Bab, beholding my plight, arose from His seat, advanced towards me, and, taking hold of my hand, seated me beside Him. 'Seek from Me,' He said, 'whatever is your heart's desire. I will readily reveal it to you.' I was speechless with wonder. Like a babe that can neither understand nor speak, I felt powerless to respond. He smiled as He gazed at me and said: 'Were I to reveal for you the commentary on the Surih of Kawthar, would you acknowledge that My words are born of the Spirit of God? Would you recognise that My utterance can in no wise be associated with sorcery or magic?' Tears flowed from my eyes as I heard Him speak these words. [175] All I was able to utter was this verse of the Qur'an: 'O our Lord, with ourselves have we dealt unjustly: if Thou forgive us not and have not pity on us, we shall surely be of those who perish.'


"It was still early in the afternoon when the Bab requested Haji Mirza Siyyid 'Ali to bring His pen-case and some paper. He then started to reveal His commentary on the Surih of Kawthar. How am I to describe this scene of inexpressible majesty? Verses streamed from His pen with a rapidity that was truly astounding. The incredible swiftness of His writing,5 the soft and gentle murmur of His voice, and the stupendous force of His style, amazed and bewildered me. He continued in this manner until the approach of sunset. He did not pause until the entire commentary of the Surih was completed. He then laid down His pen and asked for tea. Soon after, He began to read it aloud in my presence. My heart leaped madly as I heard Him pour out, in accents of unutterable sweetness, those treasures enshrined in that sublime commentary.6 I was so entranced by its beauty that three times over I was on the verge of fainting. He sought to revive my failing strength with a few drops of rose-water which He caused to be sprinkled on my face. This [176] restored my vigour and enabled me to follow His reading to the end.


"When He had completed His recital, the Bab arose to depart. He entrusted me, as He left, to the care of His maternal uncle. 'He is to be your guest,' He told him, 'until the time when he, in collaboration with Mulla 'Abdu'l-Karim, shall have finished transcribing this newly revealed commentary, and shall have verified the correctness of the transcribed copy.' Mulla 'Abdu'l-Karim and I devoted three days and three nights to this work. We would in turn read aloud to each other a portion of the commentary until the whole of it had been transcribed. We verified all the traditions in the text and found them to be entirely accurate. Such was the state of certitude to which I had attained that if all the powers of the earth were to be leagued against me they would be powerless to shake my confidence in the greatness of His Cause.7


"As I had, since my arrival at Shiraz, been living in the home of Husayn Khan, the governor of Fars, I felt that my prolonged absence from his house might excite his suspicion and inflame his anger. I therefore determined to take leave of Haji Mirza Siyyid 'Ali and Mulla 'Abdu'l-Karim and to regain the residence of the governor. On my arrival I found that Husayn Khan, who in the meantime had been searching for me, was eager to know whether I had fallen a victim to the Bab's magic influence. 'No one but God,' I replied, 'who alone can change the hearts of men, is able to captivate the heart of Siyyid Yahya. Whoso can ensnare his heart is of God, and His word unquestionably the voice of Truth.' My answer silenced the governor. In his conversation with others, I subsequently learned, he had expressed the view that I too had fallen a hopeless victim to the charm of that Youth. He had even written to Muhammad Shah and complained that during my stay in Shiraz I had refused all manner of intercourse with the ulamas of the city. 'Though nominally my guest,' he wrote to his sovereign, 'he frequently [177] absents himself for a number of consecutive days and nights from my house. That he has become a Babi, that he has been heart and soul enslaved by the will of the Siyyid-i-Bab, I have ceased to entertain any doubt.'


"Muhammad Shah himself, at one of the state functions in his capital, was reported to have addressed these words to Haji Mirza Aqasi: 'We have been lately informed8 that Siyyid Yahyay-i-Darabi has become a Babi. If this be true, it behoves us to cease belittling the cause of that siyyid.' Husayn Khan, on his part, received the following imperial command: 'It is strictly forbidden to any one of our subjects to utter such words as would tend to detract from the exalted rank of Siyyid Yahyay-i-Darabi. He is of noble lineage, a man of great learning, of perfect and consummate virtue. He will under no circumstances incline his ear to any cause unless he believes it to be conducive to the advancement of the best interests of our realm and to the well-being of the Faith of Islam.'


"Upon the receipt of this imperial injunction, Husayn Khan, unable to resist me openly, strove privily to undermine my authority. His face betrayed an implacable enmity and hate. He failed, however, in view of the marked favours bestowed upon me by the Shah, either to harm my person or to discredit my name.


"I was subsequently commanded by the Bab to journey to Burujird, and there acquaint my father9 with the new Message. He urged me to exercise towards him the utmost forbearance and consideration. From my confidential conversations with him I gathered that he was unwilling to repudiate the truth of the Message I had brought him. He preferred, however, to be left alone and to be allowed to pursue his own way."


Another dignitary of the realm who dispassionately investigated and ultimately embraced the Message of the Bab [178] was Mulla Muhammad-'Ali,10 a native of Zanjan, whom the Bab surnamed Hujjat-i-Zanjani. He was a man of independent mind, noted for extreme originality and freedom from all forms of traditional restraint. He denounced the whole hierarchy of the ecclesiastical leaders of his country, from the Abvab-i-Arba'ih11 down to the humblest mulla among his contemporaries. He despised their character, deplored their degeneracy, and expatiated upon their vices. He even, prior to his conversion, betrayed an attitude of careless contempt for Shaykh Ahmad-i-Ahsa'i and Siyyid Kazim-i-Rashti.12 He was so filled with horror at the misdeeds that had stained the history of shi'ah Islam that whoever belonged to that sect, no matter how high his personal attainments, was regarded by him as unworthy of his consideration. Not infrequently did cases of fierce controversy arise between him and the divines of Zanjan which, but for the personal intervention of the Shah, would have led to grave disorder and bloodshed. He was eventually summoned to the capital and, in the presence of his opponents, representatives of the ecclesiastical heads of Tihran and other cities, was called upon to vindicate his claim. Single-handed and alone he would establish his superiority over his adversaries and would silence their clamour. Although in their hearts they dissented from his views and condemned his conduct, they were compelled to acknowledge outwardly his authority and to confirm his opinion.


As soon as the Call from Shiraz reached his ears, Hujjat deputed one of his disciples, Mulla Iskandar, in whom he reposed the fullest confidence, to enquire into the whole matter and to report to him the result of his investigations. Utterly indifferent to the praise and censure of his countrymen, whose integrity he suspected and whose judgment he disdained, he sent his delegate to Shiraz with explicit instructions to conduct a minute and independent enquiry. Mulla Iskandar attained the presence of the Bab and felt immediately the regenerating power of His influence. He tarried [179] forty days in Shiraz, during which time he imbibed the principles of the Faith and acquired, according to his capacity, a knowledge of the measure of its glory.


With the approval of the Bab, he returned to Zanjan. He arrived at a time when all the leading ulamas of the city had assembled in the presence of Hujjat. As soon as he appeared, Hujjat enquired whether he believed in, or rejected, the new Revelation. Mulla Iskandar submitted the writings of the Bab which he had brought with him, and asserted that whatever should be the verdict of his master, the same would he deem it his obligation to follow. "What!" angrily exclaimed Hujjat. "But for the presence of this distinguished company, I would have chastised you severely. How dare you consider matters of belief to be dependent upon the approbation or rejection of others?" Receiving from the hand of his messenger the copy of the Qayyumu'l-Asma', he, as soon as he had perused a page of that book, fell prostrate upon the ground and exclaimed: "I bear witness that these words which I have read proceed from the same Source as that of the Qur'an. Whoso has recognised the truth of that sacred Book must needs testify to the Divine origin of these words, and must needs submit to the precepts inculcated by their Author. I take you, members of this assembly, as my witnesses: I pledge such allegiance to the Author of this Revelation that should He ever pronounce the night to be the day, and declare the sun to be a shadow, I would unreservedly submit to His judgment, and would regard His verdict as the voice of Truth. Whoso denies Him, him will I regard as the repudiator of God Himself." With these words he terminated the proceedings of that gathering.13


We have, in the preceding pages, referred to the expulsion of Quddus and of Mulla Sadiq from Shiraz, and have attempted to describe, however inadequately, the chastisement inflicted upon them by the tyrannical and rapacious Husayn [180] Khan. A word should now be said regarding the nature of their activities after their expulsion from that city. For a few days they continued to journey together, after which they separated, Quddus departing for Kirman in order to interview Haji Mirza Karim Khan, and Mulla Sadiq directing his steps towards Yazd with the intention of pursuing among the ulamas of that province the work which he had been so cruelly forced to abandon in Fars. Quddus was received, upon his arrival, at the home of Haji Siyyid Javad-i-Kirmani, whom he had known in Karbila and whose scholarship, skill, and competence were universally recognised by the people of Kirman. At all the gatherings held in his home, he invariably assigned to his youthful guest the seat of honour and treated him with extreme deference and courtesy. So marked a preference for so young and seemingly mediocre a person kindled the envy of the disciples of Haji Mirza Karim Khan, who, describing in vivid and exaggerated language the honours which were being lavished upon Quddus, sought to excite the dormant hostility of their chief. "Behold," they whispered in his ears, "he who is the best-beloved, the trusted and most intimate companion of the Siyyid-i-Bab, is now the honoured guest of one who is admittedly the most powerful inhabitant of Kirman. If he be allowed to live in close companionship with Haji Siyyid Javad, he will no doubt instil his poison into his soul, and will fashion him as the instrument whereby he will succeed in disrupting your authority and in extinguishing your fame." Alarmed by these evil whisperings, the cowardly Haji Mirza Karim Khan appealed to the governor and induced him to call in person upon Haji Siyyid Javad and demand that he terminate that dangerous association. The representations of the governor inflamed the wrath of the intemperate Haji Siyyid Javad. "How often," he violently protested, "have I advised you [181] to ignore the whisperings of this evil plotter! My forbearance has emboldened him. Let him beware lest he overstep his bounds. Does he desire to usurp my position? Is he not the man who receives into his home thousands of abject and ignoble people and overwhelms them with servile flattery? Has he not, again and again, striven to exalt the ungodly and to silence the innocent? Has he not, year after year, by reinforcing the hand of the evil-doer, sought to ally himself with him and gratify his carnal desires? Does he not until this day persist in uttering his blasphemies against all that is pure and holy in Islam? My silence seems to have added to his temerity and insolence. He gives himself the liberty of committing the foulest deeds, and refuses to allow me to receive and honour in my own home a man of such integrity, such learning and nobleness. Should he refuse to desist from his practice, let him be warned that the worst elements of the city will, at my instigation, expel him from Kirman." Disconcerted by such vehement denunciations, the governor apologised for his action. Ere he retired, he assured Haji Siyyid Javad that he need entertain no fear, that he himself would endeavour to awaken Haji Mirza Karim Khan to the folly of his behaviour, and would induce him to repent.


The siyyid's message stung Haji Mirza Karim Khan. Convulsed by a feeling of intense resentment which he could neither suppress nor gratify, he relinquished all hopes of acquiring the undisputed leadership of the people of Kirman. That open challenge sounded the death-knell of his cherished ambitions.


In the privacy of his home, Haji Siyyid Javad heard Quddus recount all the details of his activities from the day of his departure from Karbila until his arrival at Kirman. The circumstances of his conversion and his subsequent pilgrimage with the Bab stirred the imagination and kindled the flame of faith in the heart of his host, who preferred, however, to conceal his belief, in the hope of being able to guard more effectively the interests of the newly established community. "Your noble resolve," Quddus lovingly assured him, "will in itself be regarded as a notable service rendered to the [182] Cause of God. The Almighty will reinforce your efforts and will establish for all time your ascendancy over your opponents."


The incident was related to me by a certain Mirza 'Abdu'llah-i-Ghawgha, who, while in Kirman, had heard it from the lips of Haji Siyyid Javad himself. The sincerity of the expressed intentions of the siyyid has been fully vindicated by the splendid manner in which, as a result of his endeavours, 


he succeeded in resisting the encroachments of the insidious Haji Mirza Karim Khan, who, had he remained unchallenged, would have caused incalculable harm to the Faith.


From Kirman, Quddus decided to leave for Yazd, and from thence to proceed to Ardikan, Nayin, Ardistan, Isfahan, Kashan, Qum, and Tihran. In each of these cities, notwithstanding the obstacles that beset his path, he succeeded in instilling into the understanding of his hearers the principles which he had so bravely risen to advocate. I have [183] heard Aqay-i-Kalim, the brother of Baha'u'llah, describe in the following terms his meeting with Quddus in Tihran: "The charm of his person, his extreme affability, combined with a dignity of bearing, appealed to even the most careless observer. Whoever was intimately associated with him was seized with an insatiable admiration for the charm of that youth. We watched him one day perform his ablutions, and were struck by the gracefulness which distinguished him from the rest of the worshippers in the performance of so ordinary a rite. He seemed, in our eyes, to be the very incarnation of purity and grace."


In Tihran, Quddus was admitted into the presence of Baha'u'llah, after which he proceeded to Mazindaran, where, in his native town of Barfurush, in the home of his father, he lived for about two years, during which time he was surrounded by the loving devotion of his family and kindred. His father had married, on the death of his first wife, a lady who treated Quddus with a kindness and care that no mother could have hoped to surpass. She longed to witness his wedding, and was often heard to express her fears lest she should have to carry with her to the grave the "supreme joy of her heart." "The day of my wedding," Quddus observed, "is not yet come. That day will be unspeakably glorious. Not within the confines of this house, but out in the open air, under the vault of heaven, in the midst of the Sabzih-Maydan, before the gaze of the multitude, there shall I celebrate my nuptials and witness the consummation of my hopes." Three years later, when that lady learned of the circumstances attending the martyrdom of Quddus in the Sabzih-Maydan, she recalled his prophetic words and understood their meaning.14 Quddus remained in Barfurush until the time when he was joined by Mulla Husayn after the latter's return from his visit to the Bab in the castle of Mah-Ku. From Barfurush they set out for Khurasan, a journey rendered memorable by deeds so heroic that none of their countrymen could hope to rival them.


As to Mulla Sadiq, as soon as he arrived at Yazd, he enquired of a trusted friend, a native of Khurasan, about the [184] latest developments connected with the progress of the Cause in that province. He was particularly anxious to be enlightened concerning the activities of Mirza Ahmad-i-Azghandi, and expressed his surprise at the seeming inactivity of one who, at a time when the mystery of the Faith was still undivulged, had displayed such conspicuous zeal in preparing the people for the acceptance of the expected Manifestation.


"Mirza Ahmad," he was told, "secluded himself for a considerable period of time in his own home, and there concentrated his energies upon the preparation of a learned and voluminous compilation of Islamic traditions and prophecies relating to the time and the character of the promised Dispensation. He collected more than twelve thousand traditions of the most explicit character, the authenticity of which was universally recognised; and resolved to take whatever steps were required for the copying and the dissemination of that book. By encouraging his fellow-disciples to quote publicly from its contents, in all congregations and gatherings, he hoped he would be able to remove such hindrances as might impede the progress of the Cause he had at heart.


"When he arrived at Yazd, he was warmly welcomed by his maternal uncle, Siyyid Husayn-i-Azghandi, the foremost mujtahid of that city, who, a few days before the arrival of his nephew, had sent him a written request to hasten to Yazd and deliver him from the machinations of Haji Mirza Karim Khan, whom he regarded as a dangerous though unavowed enemy of Islam. The mujtahid called upon Mirza Ahmad to combat by every means in his power Haji Mirza Khan's pernicious influence; and wished him to establish permanently his residence in that city, that he might, through incessant exhortations and appeals, succeed in enlightening the minds of the people as to the true aims and intentions cherished by that malignant enemy.


"Mirza Ahmad, concealing from his uncle his original intention to leave for Shiraz, decided to prolong his stay in Yazd. He showed him the book which he had compiled, and shared its contents with the ulamas who thronged from every quarter of the city to meet him. All were greatly impressed [185] by the industry, the erudition, and the zeal which the compiler of that celebrated work had demonstrated.


"Among those who came to visit Mirza Ahmad was a certain Mirza Taqi, a man who was wicked, ambitious, and haughty, who had recently returned from Najaf, where he had completed his studies and had been elevated to the rank of mujtahid. In the course of his conversation with Mirza Ahmad, he expressed a desire to peruse that book, and to be allowed to retain it for a few days, that he might acquire a fuller understanding of its contents. Siyyid Husayn and his nephew both acceded to his wish. Mirza Taqi, who was to have returned the book, failed to redeem his promise. Mirza Ahmad, who had already suspected the insincerity of Mirza Taqi's intentions, urged his uncle to remind the borrower of the pledge he had given. 'Tell your master,' was the insolent reply to the messenger sent to claim the book, 'that after having satisfied myself as to the mischievous character of that compilation, I decided to destroy it. Last night I threw it into the pond, thereby obliterating its pages.'


"Moved by deep and determined indignation at such deceitfulness and impertinence, Siyyid Husayn resolved to wreak his vengeance upon him. Mirza Ahmad succeeded, however, by his wise counsels, in pacifying the anger of his infuriated uncle and in dissuading him from carrying out the measures which he proposed to take. 'This punishment,' he urged, 'which you contemplate will excite the agitation of the people, and will stir up mischief and sedition. It will gravely interfere with the efforts which you wish me to exert in order to extinguish the influence of Haji Mirza Karim Khan. He will undoubtedly seize the occasion to denounce you as a Babi, and will hold me responsible for having been the cause of your conversion. By this means he will both undermine your authority and earn the esteem and gratitude of the people. Leave him in the hands of God.'"


Mulla Sadiq was greatly pleased to learn from the account of this incident that Mirza Ahmad was actually residing in Yazd, and that no obstacles stood in the way of his meeting with him. He went immediately to the masjid in which Siyyid Husayn was leading the congregational prayer and in which [186] Mirza Ahmad delivered the sermon. Taking his seat in the first row among the worshippers, he joined them in prayer, after which he went straight to Siyyid Husayn and publicly embraced him. Uninvited, he immediately afterwards ascended the pulpit and prepared to address the faithful. Siyyid Husayn, though at first startled, preferred to raise no objection, being curious to discover the motive, and ascertain the degree of the learning, of this sudden intruder. He motioned to his nephew to refrain from opposing him.


Mulla Sadiq prefaced his discourse with one of the best-known and most exquisitely written homilies of the Bab, after which he addressed the congregation in these terms: "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."


A wave of indignation and dismay swept over the entire congregation as these words of Mulla Sadiq pealed out this momentous announcement. 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 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 [187] 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."


By this solemn assurance, Mulla Sadiq was delivered from the savage attacks of his assailants. Divested of his aba15 and turban, deprived of his 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, 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.


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.16 Haji Siyyid Javad's persistent exertions freed them eventually from the grasp of their persecutors, and enabled them to proceed to Khurasan.


Though hunted and harassed by their foes, the Bab's immediate disciples, together with their companions in different parts of Persia, were undeterred by such criminal acts [188] from the accomplishment of their task. Unswerving in their purpose and immovable in their convictions, they continued to battle with the dark forces that assailed them every step of their path. By their unstinted devotion and unexampled fortitude, they were able to demonstrate to many of their countrymen the ennobling influence of the Faith they had arisen to champion.


While Vahid17 was still in Shiraz, Haji Siyyid Javad-i-Karbila'i18 arrived and was introduced by Haji Mirza Siyyid 'Ali into the presence of the Bab. In a Tablet which He addressed to Vahid and Haji Siyyid Javad, the Bab extolled the firmness of their faith and stressed the unalterable character of their devotion. The latter had met and known the Bab before the declaration of His Mission, and had been a fervent admirer of those extraordinary traits of character which had distinguished Him ever since His childhood. At a later time, he met Baha'u'llah in Baghdad and became the recipient of His special favour. When, a few years afterwards, Baha'u'llah was exiled to Adrianople, he, already much advanced in years, returned to Persia, tarried awhile in the province of Iraq, and thence proceeded to Khurasan. His kindly disposition, extreme forbearance, and unaffected simplicity earned him the appellation of the Siyyid-i-Nur.19


Haji Siyyid Javad, one day, while crossing a street in Tihran, suddenly saw the Shah as he was passing on horseback. Undisturbed by the presence of his sovereign, he calmly approached and greeted him. His venerable figure and dignity of bearing pleased the Shah immensely. He acknowledged his salute and invited him to come and see him. Such was the reception accorded him that the courtiers of the Shah were moved with envy. "Does not your Imperial Majesty realise," they protested, "that this Haji [189] Siyyid Javad is none other than the man who, even prior to the declaration of the Siyyid-i-Bab, had proclaimed himself a Babi, and had pledged his undying loyalty to his person?" The Shah, perceiving the malice which actuated their accusation, was sorely displeased, and rebuked them for their temerity and low-mindedness. "How strange!" he is reported to have exclaimed; "whoever is distinguished by the uprightness of his conduct and the courtesy of his manners, my people forthwith denounce him as a Babi and regard him as an object worthy of my condemnation!"



Haji Siyyid Javad spent the last days of his life in Kirman and remained until his last hour a staunch supporter of the Faith. He never wavered in his convictions nor relaxed in his unsparing endeavours for the diffusion of the Cause.


Shaykh Sultan-i-Karbila'i, whose ancestors ranked among the leading ulamas of Karbila, and who himself had been a firm supporter and intimate companion of Siyyid Kazim, was also among those who, in those days, had met the Bab in Shiraz. It was he who, at a later time, proceeded to Sulaymaniyyih in search of Baha'u'llah, and whose daughter was subsequently given in marriage to Aqay-i-Kalim. When he arrived at Shiraz, he was accompanied by Shaykh Hasan-i-Zunuzi, to whom we have referred in the early pages of this narrative. To him the Bab assigned the task of transcribing, in collaboration with Mulla 'Abdu'l-Karim, the Tablets which He had lately revealed. Shaykh Sultan, who had been too ill, at the time of his arrival, to meet the Bab, received one night, while still on his sick-bed, a message from his [190] Beloved, informing him that at about two hours after sunset He would Himself visit him. That night the Ethiopian servant, who was acting as lantern-bearer to his Master, was instructed to walk in advance at a distance which would keep away the attention of the people from Him, and to extinguish the lantern as soon as he reached his destination.


I have heard Shaykh Sultan himself describe that nocturnal visit: "The Bab, who had bidden me extinguish the lamp in my room ere He arrived, came straight to my bedside. In the midst of the darkness which enveloped us, I was holding fast to the hem of His garment and was imploring Him: 'Fulfil my desire, O Beloved of my heart, and allow me to sacrifice myself for Thee; for no one else except Thee is able to confer upon me this favour.' 'O Shaykh!' the Bab replied, 'I too yearn to immolate Myself upon the altar of sacrifice. It behoves us both to cling to the garment of the Best-Beloved and to seek from Him the joy and glory of martyrdom in His path. Rest assured I will, in your behalf, supplicate the Almighty to enable you to attain His presence. Remember Me on that Day, a Day such as the world has never seen before.' As the hour of parting approached, he placed in my hand a gift which He asked me to expend for myself. I tried to refuse; but He begged me to accept it. Finally I acceded to His wish; whereupon He arose and departed.


"The allusion of the Bab that night to His 'Best-Beloved' excited my wonder and curiosity. In the years that followed, I oftentimes believed that the one to whom the Bab had referred was none other than Tahirih. I even imagined Siyyid-i-'Uluvv to be that person. I was sorely perplexed, and knew not how to unravel this mystery. When I reached Karbila and attained the presence of Baha'u'llah, I became firmly convinced that He alone could claim such affection from the Bab, that He, and only He, could be worthy of such adoration."


The second Naw-Ruz after the declaration of the Bab's Mission, which fell on the twenty-first day of the month of Rabi'u'l-Avval, in the year 1262 A.H.,20 found the Bab still in Shiraz enjoying, under circumstances of comparative tranquillity and ease, the blessings of undisturbed association [191] with His family and kindred. Quietly and unceremoniously, He celebrated the festival of Naw-Ruz in His own home, and, in accordance with His invariable custom, bountifully conferred upon both His mother and His wife the marks of His affection and favour. By the wisdom of His counsels and the tenderness of His love, He cheered their hearts and dispelled their apprehensions. He bequeathed to them all His possessions and transferred to their names the title to His property. In a document which He Himself wrote and signed, He directed that His house and its furniture, as well as the rest of His estate, should be regarded as the exclusive property of His mother and His wife; and that upon the death of the former, her share of the property should revert to His wife.


The mother of the Bab failed at first to realise the significance of the Mission proclaimed by her Son. She remained for a time unaware of the magnitude of the forces latent in His Revelation. As she approached the end of her life, however, she was able to perceive the inestimable quality of that Treasure which she had conceived and given to the world. It was Baha'u'llah who eventually enabled her to discover the value of that hidden Treasure which had lain for so many years concealed from her eyes. She was living in Iraq, where she hoped to spend the remaining days of her life, when Baha'u'llah instructed two of His devoted followers, Haji Siyyid Javad-i-Karbila'i and the wife of Haji 'Abdu'l-Majid-i-Shirazi, both of whom were already intimately acquainted with her, to instruct her in the principles of the Faith. She acknowledged the truth of the Cause and remained, until the closing years of the thirteenth century A.H.,21 when she departed this life, fully aware of the bountiful gifts which the Almighty had chosen to confer upon her.


The wife of the Bab, unlike His mother, perceived at the earliest dawn of His Revelation the glory and uniqueness of His Mission and felt from the very beginning the intensity of its force. No one except Tahirih, among the women of her generation, surpassed her in the spontaneous character of her devotion nor excelled the fervor of her faith. To her the Bab confided the secret of His future sufferings, and unfolded [192] to her eyes the significance of the events that were to transpire in His Day. He bade her not to divulge this secret to His mother and counselled her to be patient and resigned to the will of God. He entrusted her with a special prayer, revealed and written by Himself, the reading of which, He assured her, would remove her difficulties and lighten the burden of her woes. "In the hour of your perplexity," He directed her, "recite this prayer ere you go to sleep. I Myself will appear to you and will banish your anxiety." Faithful to His advice, every time she turned to Him in prayer, the light of His unfailing guidance illumined her path and resolved her problems.22



After the Bab had settled the affairs of His household and provided for the future maintenance of both His mother and His wife, He transferred His residence from His own home to that of Haji Mirza Siyyid 'Ali. There He awaited the approaching hour of His sufferings. He knew that the afflictions which were in store for Him could no longer be delayed, that He was soon to be caught in a whirlwind of adversity which would carry Him swiftly to the field of martyrdom, the crowning object of His life. He bade those of His disciples who had settled in Shiraz, among whom were Mulla 'Abdu'l-Karim and Shaykh Hasan-i-Zunuzi, to proceed to Isfahan and there await His further instructions. Siyyid Husayn-i-Yazdi, 


[193] one of the Letters of the Living, who had recently arrived at Shiraz, was likewise instructed to proceed to Isfahan and to join the company of his fellow-disciples in that city.


Meanwhile Husayn Khan, the governor of Fars, was bending every effort to involve the Bab in fresh embarrassments and to degrade Him still further in the eyes of the public. The smouldering fire of his hostility was fanned to flame by the knowledge that the Bab was allowed to pursue unmolested the course of His activities, that He was still able to associate with certain of His companions, and that He continued to enjoy the benefits of unrestrained fellowship with His family and kindred.23 By the aid of his secret agents, he succeeded in obtaining accurate information regarding [194] the character and influence of the Movement which the Bab had initiated. He had secretly watched His movements, ascertained the degree of enthusiasm which He had aroused, and scrutinised the motives, the conduct, and the number of those who had embraced His Cause.


One night there came to Husayn Khan the chief of his emissaries with the report that the number of those who were crowding to see the Bab had assumed such proportions as to necessitate immediate action on the part of those whose function it was to guard the security of the city. "The eager crowd that gathers every night to visit the Bab," he remarked, "surpasses in number the multitude of people that throngs every day before the gates of the seat of your government. Among them are to be seen men celebrated alike for their exalted rank and extensive learning.24 Such are the tact and lavish generosity which his maternal uncle displays in his attitude towards the officials of your government that no one among your subordinates is inclined to acquaint you with the reality of the situation. If you would permit me, I will, with the aid of a number of your attendants, surprise the Bab at the hour of midnight and will deliver, handcuffed, into your hands certain of his associates who will enlighten you concerning his activities, and who will confirm the truth of my statements." Husayn Khan refused to comply with his wish. "I can tell better than [195] you," was his answer, "what the interests of the State require. Watch me from a distance; I shall know how to deal with him."


That very moment, the governor summoned 'Abdu'l-Hamid Khan, the chief constable of the city. "Proceed immediately," he commanded him, "to the house of Haji Mirza Siyyid 'Ali. Quietly and unobserved, scale the wall and ascend to the roof, and from there suddenly enter his home. Arrest the Siyyid-i-Bab immediately, and conduct him to this place together with any of the visitors who may be present with him at that time. Confiscate whatever books and documents you are able to find in that house. As to Haji Mirza Siyyid 'Ali, it is my intention to impose upon him, the following day, the penalty for having failed to redeem his promise. I swear by the imperial diadem of Muhammad Shah that this very night I shall have the Siyyid-i-Bab executed together with his wretched companions. Their ignominious death will quench the flame they have kindled, and will awaken every would-be follower of that creed to the danger that awaits every disturber of the peace of this realm. By this act I shall have extirpated a heresy the continuance of which constitutes the gravest menace to the interests of the State."


'Abdu'l-Hamid Khan retired to execute his task. He, together with his assistants, broke into the house of Haji Mirza Siyyid 'Ali25 and found the Bab in the company of His maternal uncle and a certain Siyyid Kazim-i-Zanjani, who was later martyred in Mazindaran, and whose brother, Siyyid Murtada, was one of the Seven Martyrs of Tihran. He immediately arrested them, collected whatever documents he could find, ordered Haji Mirza Siyyid 'Ali to remain in his house, and conducted the rest to the seat of government. The Bab, undaunted and self-possessed, was heard to repeat this verse of the Qur'an: "That with which they are threatened is for the morning. Is not the morning near?" No sooner had the chief constable reached the marketplace than he discovered, to his amazement, that the people of the city were fleeing from every side in consternation, as if overtaken by an appalling calamity. He was struck [196] with horror when he witnessed the long train of coffins being hurriedly transported through the streets, each followed by a procession of men and women loudly uttering shrieks of agony and pain. This sudden tumult, the lamentations, the affrighted countenances, the imprecations of the multitude distressed and bewildered him. He enquired as to the reason. "This very night," he was told, "a plague26 of exceptional virulence has broken out. We are smitten by its devastating power. Already since the hour of midnight it has extinguished the lives of over a hundred people. Alarm and despair reign in every house. The people are abandoning their homes, and in their plight are invoking the aid of the Almighty."27


'Abdu'l-Hamid Khan, terrified by this dreadful intelligence, ran to the home of Husayn Khan. An old man who guarded his house and was acting as door-keeper informed him that the house of his master was deserted, that the ravages of the pestilence had devastated his home and afflicted the members of his household. "Two of his Ethiopian maids," he was told, "and a man-servant have already fallen victims to this scourge, and members of his own family are now dangerously ill. In his despair, my master has abandoned his home and, leaving the dead unburied, has fled with the rest of his family to the Bagh-i-Takht."28


'Abdu'l-Hamid Khan decided to conduct the Bab to his own home and keep Him in his custody pending instructions from the governor. As he was approaching his house, he was struck by the sound of weeping and wailing of the members of his household. His son had been attacked by the plague and was hovering on the brink of death. In his despair, he threw himself at the feet of the Bab and tearfully implored Him to save the life of his son. He begged Him to forgive his past transgressions and misdeeds. "I adjure you," he entreated the Bab as he clung to the hem of His garment, "by Him who has elevated you to this exalted [197] position, to intercede in my behalf and to offer a prayer for the recovery of my son. Suffer not that he, in the prime of youth, be taken away from me. Punish him not for the guilt which his father has committed. I repent of what I have done, and at this moment resign my post. I solemnly pledge my word that never again will I accept such a position even though I perish of hunger."


The Bab, who was in the act of performing His ablutions and was preparing to offer the prayer of dawn, directed him to take some of the water with which He was washing His face to his son and request him to drink it. This He said would save his life.


No sooner had 'Abdu'l-Hamid Khan witnessed the signs of the recovery of his son than he wrote a letter to the governor in which he acquainted him with the whole situation and begged him to cease his attacks on the Bab. "Have pity on yourself," he wrote him, "as well as on those whom Providence has committed to your care. Should the fury of this plague continue its fatal course, no one in this city, I fear, will by the end of this day have survived the horror of its attack." Husayn Khan replied that the Bab should be immediately released and given freedom to go wherever He might please.29


As soon as an account of these happenings reached Tihran and was brought to the attention of the Shah, an imperial edict dismissing Husayn Khan from office was issued and sent to Shiraz. From the day of his dismissal, that shameless tyrant fell a victim to countless misfortunes, and was in the end unable to earn even his daily bread. No one seemed willing or able to save him from his evil plight. When, at a later time, Baha'u'llah had been banished to Baghdad, Husayn Khan sent Him a letter in which he expressed repentance and promised to atone for his past misdeeds on condition that he should regain his former position. Baha'u'llah refused to answer him. Sunk in misery and shame, he languished until his death.


The Bab, who was staying at the home of 'Abdu'l-Hamid Khan, sent Siyyid Kazim to request Haji Mirza Siyyid 'Ali to [198] come and see Him. He informed His uncle of His intended departure from Shiraz, entrusted both His mother and His wife to his care, and charged him to convey to each the expression of His affection and the assurance of God's unfailing assistance. "Wherever they may be," He told His uncle, as He bade him farewell, "God's all-encompassing love and protection will surround them. I will again meet you amid the mountains of Adhirbayjan, from whence I will send you forth to obtain the crown of martyrdom. I Myself will follow you, together with one of My loyal disciples, and will join you in the realm of eternity."


FOOTNOTES


9.1. "Babism had many adepts in all classes of society, and many among them were of important standing; great lords, members of the clergy, military men and merchants had accepted this doctrine." (Journal Asiatique, 1866, tome 8, p. 251.)


9.2. Refer to "Pedigree of the Qajar Dynasty" at the beginning of the book. 


9.3. Concerning him, 'Abdu'l-Baha has written the following: "This remarkable man, this precious soul, had committed to memory no less than thirty thousand traditions, and was highly esteemed and admired by all classes of people. He had achieved universal renown in Persia, and his authority and erudition were widely and fully recognized." (From manuscript relating to martyrdoms in Persia.) "This personage was, as his name indicates, born at Darab near Shiraz; his father, Siyyid Ja'far, surnamed Kashfi, was one of the greatest and most celebrated ulamas of that period. His high moral character, his righteous ways had attracted to him universal esteem and consideration. His science had won for him the glorious name of Kashfi, that is to say, one who discovers and explains the divine secrets. Brought up by him, his son was not slow to equal him in every way and he enjoyed the public favor bestowed on his father. When he went to Tihran, he was preceded by his fame and popularity. He became the regular guest of Prince Tahmasp Mirza, Mu'ayyadu'd-Dawlih, grandson of Fath-'Ali Shah by his father Muhammad-'Ali Mirza. The government itself paid homage to his science and to his merit and he was consulted more than once in trying circumstances. It was of him that Muhammad Shahet Haji Mirza Aqasi thought when they wished to find an honest emissary whose faithfulness could not be questioned." (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab," p. 233.) "While these events were taking place in the north of Persia, the central and southern provinces were deeply roused by the fiery eloquence of the missionaries of the new doctrine. The people, light, credulous, ignorant, superstitious in the extreme, were struck dumb by the incessant miracles which they heard related every moment; the anxious priests, feeling their flock quivering with impatience and ready to escape their control, redoubled their slanders and infamous imputations; the grossest lies, the most bloody fictions were spread among the bewildered populace, torn between horror and admiration.... Siyyid Ja'far was unacquainted with the doctrine of the Shaykhis as he was with those of Mulla Sadra. Nevertheless, his burning zeal and his ardent imagination had carried him, towards the end of his life, out of the ways of the orthodox Shiite. He interpreted the 'hadiths' differently from his colleagues and claimed even, so they said, to have fathomed the seventy inner meanings of the Qur'an. His son, who was to outdo these oddities, was at that time about thirty-five years of age. After the completion of his studies, he came to Tihran where he became intimately associated with all that the court counted of great personages and distinguished men. It was upon him that the choice of His Majesty fell. He was, therefore, commissioned to go to Shiraz to make contact with the Bab and to inform the central authority, as exactly as possible, of the political consequences which would result from a reform which seemed likely unsettle heart of the country." (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab," pp. 387-388.)


9.4. Qur'an, 108.


9.5. According to the "Kashfu'l-Ghita'" (p. 81), no less than two thousand verses were revealed on that occasion by the Bab. The bewildering rapidity of this revelation was no less remarkable in the eyes of Siyyid Yahya than the matchless beauty and profound meaning of the verses contained in that commentary. "Within five hours' time he revealed two thousand verses, that is, he spoke as fast as the scribe could write. One can judge thereby that, if he had been left free, how many of his works from the beginning of his manifestation until today would have been spread abroad among men." ("Le Bayan Persan," vol. I, p. 43.) "God had given him such power and such fluency of expression that, if a scribe wrote with the most extreme rapidity during two days and two nights without interruption, he would reveal, out of this mine of eloquence, the equivalent of the Qur'an." (Ibid., vol. 2, p. 132.) "And if anyone should reflect on the appearance of this Tree (the Bab), he will without doubt admit the loftiness of God's religion. For in one from whose life twenty-four years had passed, who was devoid of those sciences wherein all the learned, who now recites verses after such fashion without thought or hesitation, who in the course of five hours writes a thousand verses of supplications without pause of the pen, who produces commentaries and learned treatises of so high a degree of wisdom and understanding of the Divine Unity that doctors and philosophers confess their inability to compre- hend those passages, there is no doubt that all this is from God." (Bayan, Vahid 2, Bab 1.) ("A Traveler's Narrative," Note C, p. 219.) 


9.6. "Certainly the fact of writing, currente calamo, a new commentary on a surih whose meaning is so obscure, should deeply astonish the Siyyid Yahya, but that which surprised him even more was to find, in this commentary, the explanation that he, himself, had found in his meditation on these three verses. Thus he found himself in agreement with the Reformer in the interpretation that he had believed himself to be the only one to have reached and that he had not made known to anyone." (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab," p. 234.)


9.7. "It was a strange circumstance," writes Lady Sheil, "that among those who adopted [the] Bab's doctrine there should have been a large number of mullas, and even mujtahids, who hold a high rank as expounders of the law in the Muhammadan church. Many of these men sealed their faith with their blood." ("Glimpses of Life and Manners in Persia," pp. 178-9.)


9.8. According to "A Traveller's Narrative" (p. 8), Siyyid Yahya "wrote without fear or care a detailed account of his observations to Mirza Lutf-'Ali, the chamberlain, in order that the latter might submit it to the notice of the late king, while he himself journeyed to all parts of Persia, and in every town and station summoned the people from the pulpit-tops in such wise that other learned doctors decided that he must be mad, accounting it a sure case of bewitchment." 


9.9. His name was Siyyid Ja'far, known as Kashfi, "the Discloser," because of his skill in the interpretation of the Qur'an and the visions which he claimed to have.


9.10. He was styled Hujjatu'l-Islam. 


9.11. Literally meaning "The Four Gates," each of whom claimed to be an intermediary between the absent Imam and his followers. 


9.12. He was an Akhbari. For an account of the Akhbaris, see Gobineau's "Les Religions et Les Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale," p. 23 et seq.


9.13. "'I met him [Mulla Muhammad-'Ali],' says Mirza Jani, 'in Tihran, in the house of Mahmud Khan, the kalantar, where he was confined because of his devotion to His Holiness. He said: "I was a mulla, so proud and masterful that I would abase myself to no one, not even the late Haji Siyyid Baqir of Rasht, who was regarded as the 'Proof of Islam' and the most learned of doctors. My doctrines being after the Akhbari school, I differed in certain questions with the mass of the clergy. People complained of me, and Muhammad Shah summoned me to Tihran. I came, and he perused my books and informed himself of their purport. I asked him to summon the siyyid [i.e. Siyyid Baqir of Rasht] also, that we might dispute. At first he intended to do so, but afterwards, having considered the mischief which might result, suspended the proposed discussion. To be brief, notwithstanding all this self-sufficiency, as soon as news of the Manifestation of His Holiness reached me, and I had perused a small page of the verses of that Point of the Furqan, I became as one beside himself, and involuntarily, yet with full option, confessed the truth of His claim, and became His devoted slave; for I beheld in Him the most noble of the Prophet's miracles, and, had I rejected it, I should have rejected the truth of the religion of Islam."'" (Haji Mirza Jani's History: Appendix 2 of "Tarikh-i-Jadid," pp. 349-50.)


9.14. A similar statement is reported in the "Kashfu'l-Ghita'" (p. 227). Such a statement, the author declares, was made to him by several residents of the province of Mazindaran.


9.15. Refer to Glossary. 


9.16. "A bitter struggle broke out between the Muqaddas and Karim Khan who, as it is known, had taken the rank of chief of the Shaykhi sect, after the death of Kazim. The discussion took place in the presence of many people and Karim challenged his opponent to prove the truth of the mission of the Bab. 'If you succeed,' he said to him, 'I will be converted and my pupils with me; but if you fail, I shall have it proclaimed in the bazaars: "Behold the one who tramples under foot the Holy Law of Islam!'" 'I know who you are, Karim,' replied Muqaddas to him. 'Do you not remember your Master Siyyid Kazim and that which he told you: "Dog, do you not wish that I should die that, after me, may appear the absolute truth?" Witness how today, urged on by your passion for riches and for glory, you lie to yourself!' "Begun in this vein, the discussion was bound to be brief. Instantly, the pupils of Karim drew their knives and threw themselves upon him who was insulting their chief. Fortunately, the governor of the city interposed; Muqaddas arrested and brought to his house where he kept him for a while and, when the excitement had subsided, he sent him away by night, escorted for several miles by ten mounted men." (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab," pp. 228-229.)


9.17. Title given by the Bab to Siyyid Yahyay-i-Darabi. 


9.18. The remarkable circumstances attending the conversion of Haji Siyyid Javad-i-Karbila'i are fully related in the "Kashfu'l-Ghita'" (pp. 70-77), and reference is made to a significant Tablet revealed to him by Baha'u'llah (p. 63), in which the importance of the Kitab-i-Aqdas is fully stressed, and the necessity of exercising the utmost caution and moderation in the application and execution of its precepts emphasised. The text of this Tablet is found on pp. 64-70 of the same book. The following passage of the "Dala'il-i-Sab'ih" refers to the conversion of Haji Siyyid Javad: "Aqa Siyyid Javad-i-Karbila'i a dit qu'avant la manifestation, un indien lui avait ecrit le nom de celui qui serait manifeste." ("Le Livre des Sept Preuves," traduction par A. L. M. Nicolas, p. 59.) 


9.19. Literally meaning "radiant siyyid."


9.20. 1846 A.D.


9.21. The thirteenth century A.H. ended in October, 1882 A.D.


9.22. "The Bab's widow survived till A.H. 1300, only six years ago. She was the sister of my friend's maternal grandfather. The above particulars are derived from an old lady of the same family, so that there is every reason to regard them as reliable." (Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1889, p. 993.)


9.23. "Meanwhile the turmoil, the intense discussions, the scandal continued in Shiraz, so much so that, annoyed by all this uproar and fearful of the outcome, Haji Mirza Aqasi ordered Husayn Khan Nizamu'd-Dawlih to be done with the Reformer and to have him killed immediately and secretly." (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab," p. 235.)


9.24. "Extremely irritated, discontented and worried, the Mullas of Fars, unable to foresee the heights that popular indignation against them might reach were not the only ones to be perplexed. The authorities of the town and of the province understood only too well that the people, who were under their care but who were never very much under their control, this time were quite independent of it. The men of Shiraz, superficial, mockers, noisome, quarrelsome, rebellious, insolent in the extreme, perfectly indifferent toward the Qajar dynasty, were never easy to govern and their administrators often passed wearisome days. What then would be the position of these administrators if the real chief of the city and of the country, the arbiter of their thoughts, their idol, were to be a young man who, undaunted, with no ties whatsoever, and no love of personal gain, made a pedestal of his independence and took advantage of it by impudently and publicly attacking every day all that which, until now, had been considered as strong and respected in the city? "In truth, the court, the government and its policies had not as yet been the object of any of the violent denunciations of the Innovator, but, in view of the fact that he was so rigid in his habits, so unrelenting against intellectual dishonesty and the plundering practices of the clergy, it was unlikely that he would approve the same rapaciousness so flagrant in the public officials. One could well believe that the day when they would fall under his scrutiny, he would not fail to see and violently condemn the abuses which could no longer be concealed." (Comte de Gobineau's "Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale," pp. 122-123.)


9.25. September 23,1845 A.D. See "Tarikh-i-Jadid," p. 204.


9.26. Outbreak of cholera. 


9.27. The Bab refers to this incident in the "Dala'il-i-Sab'ih" in the following terms: "Recall the first days of the Manifestation, how many people died of cholera! That was one of the wonders of the Manifestation yet no one understood it. During four years the scourge raged among the Muhammadan Shiites without anyone grasping its true significance." ("Le Livre des Sept Preuves," translated by A. L. M. Nicolas, pp. 61-62.) 


9.28. A garden in the outskirts of Shiraz.


9.29. According to "A Traveller's Narrative" (p. 11), "Husayn Khan released the Bab on condition of his quitting the city."




CHAPTER X

THE BAB'S SOJOURN IN ISFAHAN


[199] The summer of the year 1262 A.H.1 was drawing to a close when the Bab bade His last farewell to His native city of Shiraz, and proceeded to Isfahan. Siyyid Kazim-i-Zanjani accompanied Him on that journey. As He approached the outskirts of the city, He wrote a letter to the governor of the province, Manuchihr Khan, the Mu'tamidu'd-Dawlih,2 in which He requested him to signify his wish as to the place where He could dwell. The letter, which He entrusted to Siyyid Kazim, was expressive of such courtesy and revealed such exquisite penmanship that the Mu'tamid was moved to instruct the Sultanu'l-'Ulama, the Imam-Jum'ih of Isfahan,3 the foremost ecclesiastical authority of that province, to receive the Bab in his own home and to accord Him a kindly and generous [200] reception. In addition to his message, the governor sent the Imam-Jum'ih the letter he had received from the Bab. The Sultanu'l-'Ulama accordingly bade his own brother, whose savage cruelty in later years earned him the appellation of 


[201] Raqsha'4 from Baha'u'llah, to proceed with a number of his favourite companions to meet and escort the expected Visitor to the gate of the city. As the Bab approached, the Imam-Jum'ih went out to welcome Him in person, and conducted Him ceremoniously to his house.


Such were the honours accorded to the Bab in those days that when, on a certain Friday, He was returning from the public bath to the house, a multitude of people were seen eagerly clamouring for the water which He had used for His ablutions. His fervent admirers firmly believed in its unfailng virtue and power to heal their sicknesses and ailments. The Imam-Jum'ih himself had, from the very first night, become so enamoured with Him who was the object of such devotion, that, assuming the functions of an attendant, he undertook to minister to the needs and wants of his beloved Guest. Seizing the ewer from the hand of the chief steward and utterly ignoring the customary dignity of his rank, he proceeded to pour out the water over the hands of the Bab.


One night, after supper, the Imam-Jum'ih, whose curiosity had been excited by the extraordinary traits of character which his youthful Guest had revealed, ventured to request Him to reveal a commentary on the Surih of Va'l-'Asr.5 His request was readily granted. Calling for pen and paper, the Bab, with astonishing rapidity and without the least premeditation, began to reveal, in the presence of His host, a most illuminating interpretation of the aforementioned Surih. It was nearing midnight when the Bab found Himself engaged in the exposition of the manifold implications involved in the first letter of that Surih. That letter, the letter vav, upon which Shaykh Ahmad-i-Ahsa'i had already laid such emphasis in his writings, symbolised for the Bab the advent of a new cycle of Divine Revelation, and has since been alluded to by Baha'u'llah in the "Kitab-i-Aqdas" in such passages as "the mastery of the Great Reversal" and "the Sign of the Sovereign." The Bab soon after began to chant, in the presence of His host and his companions, the homily with which He had prefaced His commentary on the Surih. Those words of power confounded His hearers with wonder. [202] They seemed as if bewitched by the magic of His voice. Instinctively they started to their feet and, together with the Imam-Jum'ih, reverently kissed the hem of His garment. Mulla Muhammad-Taqiy-i-Harati, an eminent mujtahid, broke out into a sudden expression of exultation and praise. "Peerless and unique," he exclaimed, "as are the words which have streamed from this pen, to be able to reveal, within so short a time and in so legible a writing, so great a number of verses as to equal a fourth, nay a third, of the Qur'an, is in itself an achievement such as no mortal, without the intervention of God, could hope to perform. Neither the cleaving of the moon nor the quickening of the pebbles of the sea can compare with so mighty an act."


As the Bab's fame was being gradually diffused over the entire city of Isfahan, an unceasing stream of visitors flowed from every quarter to the house of the Imam-Jum'ih: a few to satisfy their curiosity, others to obtain a deeper understanding of the fundamental verities of His Faith, and still others to seek the remedy for their ills and sufferings. The Mu'tamid himself came one day to visit the Bab and, while seated in the midst of an assemblage of the most brilliant and accomplished divines of Isfahan, requested Him to expound the nature and demonstrate the validity of the Nubuvvat-i-Khassih.6 He had previously, in that same gathering, called upon those who were present to adduce such proofs and evidences in support of this fundamental article of their Faith as would constitute an unanswerable testimony for those who were inclined to repudiate its truth. No one, however, seemed capable of responding to his invitation. "Which do you prefer," asked the Bab, "a verbal or a written answer to your question?" "A written reply," he answered, "not only would please those who are present at this meeting, but would edify and instruct both the present and future generations."


The Bab instantly took up His pen and began to write. In less than two hours, He had filled about fifty pages with a most refreshing and circumstantial enquiry into the origin, the character, and the pervasive influence of Islam. The originality of His dissertation, the vigour and vividness of [203] its style, the accuracy of its minutest details, invested His treatment of that noble theme with an excellence which no one among those who were present on that occasion could have failed to perceive. With masterly insight, He 7 He argued with such force 


[204] and courage that those who heard Him recite its verses were astounded by the magnitude of His revelation. No one dared to insinuate the slightest objection—much less, openly to challenge His statements. The Mu'tamid could not help giving vent to his enthusiasm and joy. "Hear me!" he exclaimed. "Members of this revered assembly, I take you as my witnesses. Never until this day have I in my heart been firmly convinced of the truth of Islam. I can henceforth, thanks to this exposition penned by this Youth, declare myself a firm believer in the Faith proclaimed by the Apostle of God. I solemnly testify to my belief in the reality of the superhuman power with which this Youth is endowed, a power which no amount of learning can ever impart." With these words he brought the meeting to an end.


The growing popularity of the Bab aroused the resentment of the ecclesiastical authorities of Isfahan, who viewed with concern and envy the ascendancy which an unlearned Youth was slowly acquiring over the thoughts and consciences of their followers. They firmly believed that unless they rose to stem the tide of popular enthusiasm, the very foundations of their existence would be undermined. A few of the more sagacious among them thought it wise to abstain from acts of direct hostility to either the person or the teachings of the Bab, as such action, they felt, would serve only to enhance His prestige and consolidate His position. The mischief-makers, however, were busily engaged in disseminating the wildest reports concerning the character and claims of the Bab. These reports soon reached Tihran and were brought to the attention of Haji Mirza Aqasi, the Grand Vazir of Muhammad Shah. This haughty and overbearing minister viewed with apprehension the possibility that his sovereign might one day feel inclined to befriend the Bab, an inclination which he felt sure would precipitate his own downfall. The Haji was, moreover, apprehensive lest the Mu'tamid, who enjoyed the confidence of the Shah, should succeed in arranging an interview between the sovereign and the Bab. He was well aware that should such an interview take place, the impressionable and tender-hearted Muhammad Shah would be completely won over by the attractiveness and novelty of that creed. Spurred on by [205] such reflections, he addressed a strongly worded communication to the Imam-Jum'ih, in which he upbraided him for his grave neglect of the obligation imposed upon him to safeguard the interests of Islam. "We have expected you," Haji Mirza Aqasi wrote him, "to resist with all your power every cause which conflicts with the best interests of the government and people of this land. You seem instead to have befriended, nay to have glorified, the author of this obscure and contemptible movement." He likewise wrote a number of encouraging letters to the ulamas of Isfahan, whom he had previously ignored but upon whom he now lavished his special favours. The Imam-Jum'ih, while refusing to alter his respectful attitude towards his Guest, was induced by the tone of the message he had received from the Grand Vazir, to instruct his associates to devise such means as would tend to lessen the ever-increasing number of visitors who thronged each day to the presence of the Bab. Muhammad-Mihdi, surnamed the Safihu'l-'Ulama', son of the late Haji Kalbasi, in his desire to gratify the wish and to earn the esteem of Haji Mirza Aqasi, began to calumniate the Bab from the pulpit in the most unseemly language.


As soon as the Mu'tamid was informed of these developments, he sent a message to the Imam-Jum'ih in which he reminded him of the visit he as governor had paid to the Bab, and extended to him as well as to his Guest an invitation to his home. The Mu'tamid invited Haji Siyyid Asadu'llah, son of the late Haji Siyyid Muhammad Baqir-i-Rashti, Haji Muhammad-Ja'far-i-Abadiyi, Muhammad-Mihdi, Mirza Hasan-i-Nuri, and a few others to be present at that meeting. Haji Siyyid Asadu'llah refused the invitation and endeavoured to dissuade those who had been invited, from participating in that gathering. "I have sought to excuse myself," he informed them, "and I would most certainly urge you to do the same. I regard it as most unwise of you to meet the Siyyid-i-Bab face to face. He will, no doubt, reassert his claim and will, in support of his argument, adduce whatever proof you may desire him to give, and, without the least hesitation, will reveal as a testimony to the truth he bears, verses of such a number as would equal half the Qur'an. In the end he will challenge you in these words: 'Produce likewise, [206] if ye are men of truth.' We can in no wise successfully resist him. If we disdain to answer him, our impotence will have been exposed. If we, on the other hand, submit to his claim, we shall not only be forfeiting our own reputation, our own prerogatives and rights, but will have committed 


[207] ourselves to acknowledge any further claims that he may feel inclined to make in the future."


Haji Muhammad-Ja'far heeded this counsel and refused to accept the invitation of the governor. Muhammad Mihdi, Mirza Hasan-i-Nuri, and a few others who disdained such advice, presented themselves at the appointed hour at the home of the Mu'tamid. At the invitation of the host, Mirza Hasan, a noted Platonist, requested the Bab to elucidate certain abstruse philosophical doctrines connected with the 'Arshiyyih of Mulla Sadra,8 the meaning of which only a few had been able to unravel.9 In simple and unconventional language, the Bab replied to each of his questions. Mirza Hasan, though unable to apprehend the meaning of the answers which he had received, realised how inferior was the learning of the so-called exponents of the Platonic and the Aristotelian schools of thought of his day to the knowledge displayed by that Youth. Muhammad Mihdi ventured in his turn to question the Bab regarding certain aspects of the Islamic law. Dissatisfied with the explanation he received, he began to contend idly with the Bab. He was soon silenced by the Mu'tamid, who, cutting short his conversation, turned to an attendant and, bidding him light the lantern, gave the order that Muhammad Mihdi be immediately conducted to his home. The Mu'tamid subsequently [208] confided his apprehensions to the Imam-Jum'ih. "I fear the machinations of the enemies of the Siyyid-i-Bab," he told him. "The Shah has summoned Him to Tihran. I am commanded to arrange for His departure. I deem it more advisable for Him to stay in my home until such time as He can leave this city." The Imam-Jum'ih acceded to his request and returned alone to his house.


The Bab had tarried forty days at the residence of the Imam-Jum'ih. While He was still there, a certain Mulla Muhammad-Taqiy-i-Harati, who was privileged to meet the Bab every day, undertook, with His consent, to translate one of His works, entitled Risaliy-i-Furu'-i-'Adliyyih, from the original Arabic into Persian. The service he thereby rendered to the Persian believers was marred, however, by his subsequent behaviour. Fear suddenly seized him, and he was induced eventually to sever his connection with his fellow-believers.


Ere the Bab had transferred His residence to the house of the Mu'tamid, Mirza Ibrahim, father of the Sultanu'sh-Shuhada' and elder brother of Mirza Muhammad-'Aliy-i-Nahri, to whom we have already referred, invited the Bab to his home one night. Mirza Ibrahim was a friend of the Imam-Jum'ih, was intimately associated with him, and controlled the management of all his affairs. The banquet which was spread for the Bab that night was one of unsurpassed magnificence. It was commonly observed that neither the officials nor the notables of the city had offered a feast of such magnitude and splendour. The Sultanu'sh-Shuhada' and his brother, the Mahbubu'sh-Shuhada', who were lads of nine and eleven, respectively, served at that banquet and received special attention from the Bab. That night, during dinner, Mirza Ibrahim turned to his Guest and said: "My brother, Mirza Muhammad-'Ali, has no child. I beg You to intercede in his behalf and to grant his heart's desire." The Bab took a portion of the food with which He had been served, placed it with His own hands on a platter, and handed it to His host, asking him to take it to Mirza Muhammad-'Ali and his wife. "Let them both partake of this," He said; "their wish will be fulfilled." By virtue of that portion which the Bab had chosen to bestow upon her, the wife of Mirza [209] Muhammad-'Ali conceived and in due time gave birth to a girl, who eventually was joined in wedlock with the Most Great Branch,10 a union that came to be regarded as the consummation of the hopes entertained by her parents.


The high honours accorded to the Bab served further to inflame the hostility of the ulamas of Isfahan. With feelings of dismay, they beheld on every side evidences of His all-pervasive influence invading the stronghold of orthodoxy and subverting their foundations. They summoned a gathering, at which they issued a written document, signed and sealed by all the ecclesiastical leaders of the city, condemning the Bab to death.11 They all concurred in this condemnation with the exception of Haji Siyyid Asadu'llah and Haji Muhammad-Ja'far-i-Abadiyi, both of whom refused to associate themselves with the contents of so glaringly abusive a document. The Imam-Jum'ih, though declining to endorse the death-warrant of the Bab, was induced, by reason of his extreme cowardice and ambition, to add to that document, in his own handwriting, the following testimony: "I testify that in the course of my association with this youth I have been unable to discover any act that would in any way betray his repudiation of the doctrines of Islam. On the contrary, I have known him as a pious and loyal observer of its precepts. The extravagance of his claims, however, and his disdainful contempt for the things of the world, incline me to believe that he is devoid of reason and judgment."


No sooner had the Mu'tamid been informed of the condemnation pronounced by the ulamas of Isfahan than he determined, by a plan which he himself conceived, to nullify the effects of that cruel verdict. He issued immediate instructions that towards the hour of sunset the Bab, escorted by five hundred horsemen of the governor's own mounted body-guard, should leave the gate of the city and proceed in the direction of Tihran. Imperative orders had been given that at the completion of each farsang12 one hundred of this mounted escort should return directly to Isfahan. [210] To the chief of the last remaining contingent, a man in whom he placed implicit confidence, the Mu'tamid confidentially intimated his desire that at every maydan13 twenty of the 


[211] remaining hundred should likewise be ordered by him to return to the city. Of the twenty remaining horsemen, the Mu'tamid directed that ten should be despatched to Ardistan for the purpose of collecting the taxes levied by the government, and that the rest, all of whom should be of his tried and most reliable men, should, by an unfrequented route, bring the Bab back in disguise to Isfahan.14 They were, moreover, instructed so to regulate their march that before dawn of the ensuing day the Bab should have arrived at Isfahan and should have been delivered into his custody. This plan was immediately taken in hand and duly executed. At an unsuspected hour, the Bab re-entered the city, was directly conducted to the private residence of the Mu'tamid, known by the name of 'Imarat-i-Khurshid,15 and was introduced, through a side entrance reserved for the Mu'tamid himself, into his private apartments. The governor waited in person on the Bab, served His meals, and provided whatever was required for His comfort and safety.16 


[212] Meanwhile the wildest conjectures obtained currency in the city regarding the journey of the Bab to Tihran, the sufferings which He was made to endure on His way to the capital, the verdict which had been pronounced against Him, and the penalty which He had suffered. These rumours greatly distressed the believers who were residing in Isfahan. The Mu'tamid, who was well aware of their grief and anxiety, interceded with the Bab in their behalf and begged to be allowed to introduce them into His presence. The Bab addressed a few words in His own handwriting to Mulla 'Abdu'l-Karim-i-Qazvini, who had taken up his quarters in the madrisih of Nim-Avard, and instructed the Mu'tamid to send it to him by a trusted messenger. An hour later, Mulla 'Abdu'l-Karim was ushered into the presence of the Bab. Of his arrival no one except the Mu'tamid was informed. He received from his Master some of His writings, and was instructed to transcribe them in collaboration with Siyyid Husayn-i-Yazdi and Shaykh Hasan-i-Zunuzi. To these he soon returned, bearing the welcome news of the Bab's well-being and safety. Of all the believers residing in Isfahan, these three alone were allowed to see Him.


One day, while seated with the Bab in his private garden within the courtyard of his house, the Mu'tamid, taking his Guest into his confidence, addressed Him in these words: "The almighty Giver has endowed me with great riches.17 I know not how best to use them. Now that I have, by the aid of God, been led to recognise this Revelation, it is my ardent desire to consecrate all my possessions to the furtherance of its interests and the spread of its fame. It is my intention to proceed, by Your leave, to Tihran, and to do my best to win to this Cause Muhammad Shah, whose confidence in me is firm and unshaken. I am certain that he will eagerly embrace it, and will arise to promote it far and wide. I will also endeavour to induce the Shah to dismiss the profligate Haji Mirza Aqasi, the folly of whose administration has well-nigh brought this land to the verge of ruin. Next, I will strive to obtain for You the hand of one of the [213] sisters of the Shah, and will myself undertake the preparation of Your nuptials. Finally, I hope to be enabled to incline the hearts of the rulers and kings of the earth to this most wondrous Cause and to extirpate every lingering trace of that corrupt ecclesiastical hierarchy that has stained the fair name of Islam." "May God requite you for your noble intentions," the Bab replied. "So lofty a purpose is to Me even more precious than the act itself. Your days and Mine are numbered, however; they are too short to enable Me to witness, and allow you to achieve, the realisation of your hopes. Not by the means which you fondly imagine will an almighty Providence accomplish the triumph of His Faith. Through the poor and lowly of this land, by the blood which these shall have shed in His path, will the omnipotent Sovereign ensure the preservation and consolidate the foundation of His Cause. That same God will, in the world to come, place upon your head the crown of immortal glory, and will shower upon you His inestimable blessings. Of the span of your earthly life there remain only three months and nine days, after which you shall, with faith and certitude, hasten to your eternal abode." The Mu'tamid greatly rejoiced at these words. Resigned to the will of God, he prepared himself for the departure which the words of the Bab had so clearly foreshadowed. He wrote his testament, settled his private affairs, and bequeathed whatever he possessed to the Bab. Immediately after his death, however, his nephew, the rapacious Gurgin Khan, discovered and destroyed his will, seized his property, and contemptuously ignored his wishes.


As the days of his earthly life were drawing to a close, the Mu'tamid increasingly sought the presence of the Bab, and, in his hours of intimate fellowship with Him, obtained a deeper realisation of the spirit which animated His Faith. "As the hour of my departure approaches," he one day told the Bab, "I feel an undefinable joy pervading my soul. But I am apprehensive for You, I tremble at the thought of being compelled to leave You to the mercy of so ruthless a successor as Gurgin Khan. He will, no doubt, discover Your presence in this home, and will, I fear, grievously ill-treat You." "Fear not," remonstrated the Bab; "I have [214] committed Myself into the hands of God. My trust is in Him. Such is the power which He has bestowed upon Me that if it be My wish, I can convert these very stones into gems of inestimable value, and can instil into the heart of the most wicked criminal the loftiest conceptions of uprightness and duty. Of My own will have I chosen to be afflicted by My enemies, 'that God might accomplish the thing destined to be done.'"18 As those precious hours flew by, a sense of overpowering devotion, of increased consciousness of nearness to God, filled the heart of the Mu'tamid. In his eyes the world's pomp and pageantry melted away into insignificance when brought face to face with the eternal realities enshrined in the Revelation of the Bab. His vision of its glories, its infinite potentialities, its incalculable blessings grew in vividness as he increasingly realised the vanity of earthly ambition and the limitations of human endeavour. He continued to ponder these thoughts in his heart, until the time when a slight attack of fever, which lasted but one night, suddenly terminated his life. Serene and confident, he winged his flight to the Great Beyond.19


As the life of the Mu'tamid was approaching its end, the Bab summoned to His presence Siyyid Husayn-i-Yazdi and Mulla 'Abdu'l-Karim, acquainted them with the nature of His prediction to His host, and bade them tell the believers who had gathered in the city, to scatter throughout Kashan, Qum, and Tihran, and await whatever Providence, in His wisdom, might choose to decree.


A few days after the death of the Mu'tamid, a certain person who was aware of the design which he had conceived and carried out for the protection of the Bab, informed his successor, Gurgin Khan,20 of the actual residence of the Bab in the 'Imarat-i-Khurshid, and described to him the honours which his predecessor had lavished upon his Guest in the privacy of his own home. On the receipt of this unexpected intelligence, Gurgin Khan despatched his messenger to Tihran and instructed him to deliver in person the following [215] message to Muhammad Shah: "Four months ago it was generally believed in Isfahan that, in pursuance of your Majesty's imperial summons, the Mu'tamidu'd-Dawlih, my predecessor, had sent the Siyyid-i-Bab to the seat of your Majesty's government. It has now been disclosed that this same siyyid is actually occupying the 'Imarat-i-Khurshid, the private residence of the Mu'tamidu'd-Dawlih. It has been ascertained that my predecessor himself extended the hospitality of his home to the Siyyid-i-Bab and sedulously guarded that secret from both the people and the officials of this city. Whatever it pleases your Majesty to decree, I unhesitatingly pledge myself to perform."


The Shah, who was firmly convinced of the loyalty of the Mu'tamid, realised, when he received this message, that the late governor's sincere intention had been to await a favourable occasion when he could arrange a meeting between him and the Bab, and that his sudden death had interfered with the execution of that plan. He issued an imperial mandate summoning the Bab to the capital. In his written message to Gurgin Khan, the Shah commanded him to send the Bab in disguise, in the company of a mounted escort21 headed by Muhammad Big-i-Chaparchi,22 of the sect of the 'Aliyu'llahi, to Tihran; to exercise the utmost consideration towards Him in the course of His journey, and strictly to maintain the secrecy of His departure.23


Gurgin Khan went immediately to the Bab and delivered into His hands the written mandate of the sovereign. He then summoned Muhammad Big, conveyed to him the behests of Muhammad Shah, and ordered him to undertake immediate preparations for the journey. "Beware," he warned him, "lest anyone discover his identity or suspect the nature of your mission. No one but you, not even the members of his escort, should be allowed to recognise him. Should anyone question you concerning him, say that he is [216] a merchant whom we have been instructed to conduct to the capital and of whose identity we are completely ignorant." Soon after midnight, the Bab, in accordance with those instructions, set out from the city and proceeded in the direction of Tihran.


FOOTNOTES


10.1. 1846 A.D. 


10.2. "He [Manuchihr Khan] was a man of energy and courage and in 1841 completely crushed the Bakhtiyari tribes, which had risen in rebellion. His vigorous though severe administration secured to the people of Isfahan some little justice." (C. R. Markham's "A General Sketch of the History of Persia," p. 487.) 


10.3. According to Mirza Abu'l-Fadl (manuscript, p. 66), the name of the Imam-Jum'ih of Isfahan was Mir Siyyid Muhammad, and his title "Sultanu'l-'Ulama'." "The office of Sadru's-Sudur, or chief priest of Safavi times, was abolished by Nadir Shah, and the Imam-Jum'ih of Isfahan is now the principal ecclesiastical dignitary of Persia." (C. R. Markham's "A General Sketch of the History of Persia," p. 365.)


10.4. Meaning female serpent. 


10.5. Qur'an, 103.


10.6. Muhammad's "Specific Mission."


10.7. Reference to His own Mission and to Baha'u'llah's subsequent Revelation.


10.8. See Note K, "A Traveller's Narrative," and Gobineau, pp. 65-73.


10.9. "Muhammad having grown silent, Mirza Muhammad-Hasan, who followed the philosophical doctrine of Mulla Sadra, questioned the Bab in order to induce him to explain three miracles which it would suffice to relate in order to enlighten the reader. The first one was the Tiyyu'l-Ard, or the immediate transfer of a human being from one part of the world to another very distant point. The Shiites are convinced that the third Imam, Javad, had adopted this easy and economical way of traveling. For example, he betook himself, in the twinkling of an eye, from Medina in Arabia to Tus in Khurasan. "The second miracle was the multiple and simultaneous presence of the same person in many different places. 'Ali was, at the same moment, host to sixty different people. "The third miracle was a problem of cosmography which I submit to our astronomers who will certainly relish it. It is said that, during the reign of a tyrant, the heavens revolve rapidly, while during that of an Imam they revolve slowly. First, how could the heavens have two movements and then, what were they doing during the reign of the Umayyads and the Abbassids? It was the solution of these insanities that they proposed to the Bab! "I shall not dwell on them any longer but I believe I must here make clear the mentality of the learned Moslems of Persia. And if one should consider that, for nearly one thousand years, the science of Iran rests upon such trash, that men exhaust themselves in continuous research upon such matters, one will easily understand the emptiness and arrogance of all these minds. "Be that as it may, the reunion was interrupted by the announcement of dinner of which each one partook, after which they returned to their respective homes." (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab," pp. 239-240.)


10.10. Reference to Munirih Khanum's marriage with 'Abdu'l-Baha. 


10.11. According to Mirza Abu'l-Fadl, about seventy eminent ulamas and notables had set their seal to a document which condemned the Bab as a heretic, and which declared Him to be deserving of the penalty of death. 


10.12. Refer to Glossary.


10.13. Maydan: A subdivision of a farsakh. A square or open place.


10.14. According to "A Traveller's Narrative" (p. 13), the Mu'tamid gave secret orders that when the Bab reached Murchih-Khar (the second stage out from Isfahan on the north road, distant about 35 miles therefrom), He should return to Isfahan. 


10.15. "Thus this room (in which I find myself) which has neither doors nor definite limits, is today the highest of the dwellings of Paradise, for the Tree of Truth lives herein. It would seem that all the atoms of the room, all sing in one voice, 'In truth, I am God! There is no other God beside Me, the Lord of all things.' And they sing above all the rooms of the earth, even above those adorned with mirrors of gold. If, however, the Tree of Truth abides in one of these ornamented rooms, then the atoms of their mirrors sing that song as did and do the atoms of the mirrors of the Palace Sadri, for in the days of Sad (Isfahan) he abided therein." ("Le Bayan Persan," vol. 1, p. 128.) 


10.16. According to "A Traveller's Narrative," p. 13, the Bab remained four months in that house.


10.17. "On the fourth of March, 1847, Monsieur de Bonniere wrote to the Secretary of Foreign Affairs of France: 'Mu'tamidu'd-Dawlih, governor of Isfahan, has just died leaving a fortune appraised at forty million francs.'" (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab," p. 242, note 192.)


10.18. Qur'an, 8:42.


10.19. He died, according to E. G. Browne ("A Traveller's Narrative," Note L, p. 277), in the month of Rabi'u'l-Avval of the year 1263 A.H. (Feb.-March, 1847 A.D.). 


10.20. According to "A Traveller's Narrative," p. 13, he was the nephew of the Mu'tamid.


10.21. According to "A Traveller's Narrative," p. 14, the members of the escort were Nusayri horsemen. See note 1, p. 14.


10.22. Chaparchi means "courier." 


10.23. "The Shah, whimsical and fickle, forgetting that he had, a short time before, ordered the murder of the Reformer, felt the desire of seeing, at last, the man who aroused such universal interest; he therefore gave the order to Gurgin Khan to send the Bab to him in Tihran." (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab," p. 242.)




CHAPTER XI

THE BAB'S STAY IN KASHAN


[217] On the eve of the Bab's arrival at Kashan, Haji Mirza Jani, surnamed Parpa, a noted resident of that city, dreamed that he was standing at a late hour in the afternoon at the gate of 'Attar, one of the gates of the city, when his eyes suddenly beheld the Bab on horseback wearing, instead of His customary turban, the kulah1 usually worn by the merchants of Persia. Before Him, as well as behind Him, marched a number of horsemen into whose custody He seemed to have been delivered. As they approached the gate, the Bab saluted him and said: "Haji Mirza Jani, We are to be your Guest for three nights. Prepare yourself to receive Us."


When he awoke, the vividness of his dream convinced him of the reality of his vision. This unexpected apparition constituted in his eyes a providential warning which he felt it his duty to heed and observe. He accordingly set out to prepare his house for the reception of the Visitor, and to provide whatever seemed necessary for His comfort. As soon as he had completed the preliminary arrangements for the banquet which he had decided to offer the Bab that night, Haji Mirza Jani proceeded to the gate of 'Attar, and there waited for the signs of the Bab's expected arrival. At the appointed hour, as he was scanning the horizon, he descried in the distance what seemed to him a company of horsemen [218] approaching the gate of the city. As he hastened to meet them, his eyes recognised the Bab surrounded by His escort, dressed in the same clothes and wearing the same expression as he had seen the night before in his dream. Haji Mirza Jani joyously approached Him and bent to kiss His stirrups. The Bab prevented him, saying: "We are to be your Guest for three nights. To-morrow is the day of Naw-Ruz; we shall celebrate it together in your home." Muhammad Big, who had been riding close to the Bab, thought Him to be 


an intimate acquaintance of Haji Mirza Jani. Turning to him, he said: "I am ready to abide by whatever is the desire of the Siyyid-i-Bab. I would ask you, however, to obtain the approval of my colleague who shares with me the charge of conducting the Siyyid-i-Bab to Tihran." Haji Mirza Jani submitted his request and was met with a flat refusal. "I decline your suggestion," he was told. "I have been most emphatically instructed not to allow this youth to enter any city until his arrival at the capital. I have been particularly commanded to spend the night outside the gate of the city, [219] to break my march at the hour of sunset, and to resume it the next day at the hour of dawn. I cannot depart from the orders that have been given to me." This gave rise to a heated altercation which was eventually settled in favour of Muhammad Big, who succeeded in inducing his opponent to deliver the Bab into the custody of Haji Mirza Jani with the express understanding that on the third morning he should safely deliver back his Guest into their hands. Haji Mirza Jani, who had intended to invite to his home the entire escort of the Bab, was advised by Him to abandon this intention. "No one but you," He urged, "should accompany Me to your home." Haji Mirza Jani requested to be allowed to defray the expense of the horsemen's three days' stay in Kashan. "It is unnecessary," observed the Bab; "but for My will, nothing whatever could have induced them to deliver Me into your hands. All things lie prisoned within the grasp of His might. Nothing is impossible to Him. He removes every difficulty and surmounts every obstacle." The horsemen were lodged in a caravanserai in the immediate neighbourhood of the gate of the city. Muhammad Big, following the instructions of the Bab, accompanied Him until they drew near the house of Haji Mirza Jani. Having ascertained the actual situation of the house, he returned and joined his companions.


The night the Bab arrived at Kashan coincided with the eve preceding the third Naw-Ruz, after the declaration of His Mission, which fell on the second day of the month of Rabi'u'th-Thani, in the year 1263 A.H.2 On that same night, Siyyid Husayn-i-Yazdi, who had previously, in accordance with the directions of the Bab, come to Kashan, was invited to the house of Haji Mirza Jani and introduced into the presence of his Master. The Bab was dictating to him a Tablet in honour of His host, when a friend of the latter, a certain Siyyid 'Abdu'l-Baqi, who was noted in Kashan for his learning, arrived. The Bab invited him to enter, permitted him to hear the verses which He was revealing, but refused to disclose His identity. In the concluding passages of the Tablet which He was addressing to Haji Mirza Jani, He prayed in his behalf, supplicated the Almighty to illumine 


[221] his heart with the light of Divine knowledge, and to unloose his tongue for the service and proclamation of His Cause. Unschooled and unlettered though he was, Haji Mirza Jani was able, by virtue of this prayer, to impress with his speech even the most accomplished divine of Kashan. He became endowed with such power that he was able to silence every idle pretender who dared to challenge the precepts of his Faith. Even the haughty and imperious Mulla Ja'far-i-Naraqi was unable, despite his consummate eloquence, to resist the force of his argument, and was compelled to acknowledge outwardly the merits of the Cause of his adversary, though at heart he refused to believe in its truth.


Siyyid 'Abdu'l-Baqi sat and listened to the Bab. He heard His voice, watched His movements, looked upon the expression of His face, and noted the words which streamed unceasingly from His lips, and yet failed to be moved by their majesty and power. Wrapt in the veils of his own idle fancy and learning, he was powerless to appreciate the meaning of the utterances of the Bab. He did not even trouble to enquire the name or the character of the Guest into whose presence he had been introduced. Unmoved by the things he had heard and seen, he retired from that presence, unaware of the unique opportunity which, through his apathy, he had irretrievably lost. A few days later, when informed of the name of the Youth whom he had treated with such careless indifference, he was filled with chagrin and remorse. It was too late, however, for him to seek His presence and atone for his conduct, for the Bab had already departed from Kashan. In his grief, he renounced the society of his fellowmen, and led, to the end of his days, a life of unrelieved seclusion.


Among those who were privileged to meet the Bab in the home of Haji Mirza Jani was a man named Mihdi, who was destined at a later time, in the year 1268 A.H.,3 to suffer martyrdom in Tihran. He and a few others were, during those three days, affectionately entertained by Haji Mirza Jani, whose lavish hospitality earned him the praise and commendation of his Master. To even the members of the Bab's escort he extended the same loving-kindness, and, by [222] his liberality and charm of manner, won their lasting gratitude. On the morning of the second day after Naw-Ruz, he, mindful of his pledge, delivered the Prisoner into their hands, and, with a heart overflowing with grief, bade Him a last and touching farewell.


FOOTNOTES


11.1. See Glossary.


11.2. 1847 A.D.


11.3. 1851-2 A.D.




CHAPTER XII

THE BAB'S JOURNEY FROM KASHAN TO TABRIZ


[223] Attended by His escort, the Bab proceeded in the direction of Qum.1 His alluring charm, combined with a compelling dignity and unfailing benevolence, had, by this time, completely disarmed and transformed His guards. They seemed to have abdicated all their rights and duties and to have resigned themselves to His will and pleasure. In their eagerness to [224] serve and please Him, they, one day, remarked: "We are strictly forbidden by the government to allow You to enter the city of Qum, and have been ordered to proceed by an unfrequented route directly to Tihran. We have been particularly directed to keep away from the Haram-i-Ma'sumih,2 that inviolable sanctuary under whose shelter the most notorious criminals are immune from arrest. We are ready, however, to ignore utterly for Your sake whatever instructions we have received. If it be Your wish, we shall unhesitatingly conduct You through the streets of Qum and enable You to visit its holy shrine." "'The heart of the true believer is the throne of God,'" observed the Bab. "He who is the ark of salvation and the Almighty's impregnable stronghold is now journeying with you through this wilderness. I prefer the way of the country rather than to enter this unholy city. The immaculate one whose remains are interred within this shrine, her brother, and her illustrious ancestors no doubt bewail the plight of this wicked people. With their lips they pay homage to her; by their acts they heap dishonour upon her name. Outwardly they serve and reverence her shrine; inwardly they disgrace her dignity."


Such lofty sentiments had instilled such confidence in the hearts of those who accompanied the Bab that had He at any time chosen to turn away suddenly and leave them, no one among His guards would have felt in the least perturbed or would have attempted to pursue Him. Proceeding by a route that skirted the northern end of the city of Qum, they halted at the village of Qumrud, which was owned by a relative of Muhammad Big, and the inhabitants of which all belonged to the sect of the 'Aliyu'llahi. At the invitation of the headman of the village, the Bab tarried one night in that place and was touched by the warmth and spontaneity of the reception which those simple folk had accorded Him. Ere He resumed His journey, He invoked the blessings of [225] the Almighty in their behalf and cheered their hearts with assurances of His appreciation and love.


After a march of two days from that village, they arrived, on the afternoon of the eighth day after Naw-Ruz, at the fortress of Kinar-Gird,3 which lies six farsangs to the south of Tihran. They were planning to reach the capital on the 


[226] ensuing day, and had decided to spend the night in the neighbourhood of that fortress, when a messenger unexpectedly arrived from Tihran, bearing a written order from Haji Mirza Aqasi to Muhammad Big. That message instructed him to proceed immediately with the Bab to the village of Kulayn,4 where Shaykh-i-Kulayni, Muhammad-ibn-i-Ya'qub, the author of the Usul-i-Kafi, who was born in that place, had been laid to rest with his father, and whose shrines are greatly [227] honoured by the people of that neighbourhood.5 Muhammad Big was commanded, in view of the unsuitability of the houses in that village, to pitch a special tent for the Bab and keep the escort in its neighbourhood pending the receipt of further instructions. On the morning of the ninth day after Naw-Ruz, the eleventh day of the month of Rabi'u'th-Thani, in the year 1263 A.H.,6 in the immediate vicinity of that village, which belonged to Haji Mirza Aqasi, a tent which had served for his own use whenever he visited that place was erected for the Bab, on the slopes of a hill pleasantly situated amid wide stretches of orchards and smiling meadows. The peacefulness of that spot, the luxuriance of its vegetation, and the unceasing murmur of its streams greatly pleased the Bab. He was joined two days after by Siyyid Husayn-i-Yazdi, Siyyid Hasan, his brother; Mulla 'Abdu'l-Karim, and Shaykh Hasan-i-Zunuzi, all of whom were invited to lodge in the immediate surroundings of His tent. On the fourteenth day of the month of Rabi'u'th-Thani,7 the twelfth day after Naw-Ruz, Mulla Mihdiy-i-Khu'i and Mulla Muhammad-Mihdiy-i-Kandi arrived from Tihran. The latter, who had been closely associated with Baha'u'llah in Tihran, had been commissioned by Him to present to the Bab a sealed letter together with certain gifts which, as soon as they were delivered into His hands, provoked in His soul sentiments of unusual delight. His face glowed with joy as He overwhelmed the bearer with marks of His gratitude and favour.


That message, received at an hour of uncertainty and suspense, imparted solace and strength to the Bab. It dispelled the gloom that had settled upon His heart, and imbued His soul with the certainty of victory. The sadness which had long lingered upon His face, and which the perils of His captivity had served to aggravate, visibly diminished. He no longer shed those tears of anguish which had streamed so profusely from His eyes ever since the days of His arrest and departure from Shiraz. The cry "Beloved, My Well-Beloved," [228] which in His bitter grief and loneliness He was wont to utter, gave way to expressions of thanksgiving and praise, of hope and triumph. The exultation which glowed upon His face never forsook Him until the day when the news of the great disaster which befell the heroes of Shaykh Tabarsi again beclouded the radiance of His countenance and dimmed the joy of His heart.


I have heard Mulla 'Abdu'l-Karim recount the following incident: "My companions and I were fast asleep in the vicinity of the tent of the Bab when the trampling of horsemen suddenly awakened us. We were soon informed that the tent of the Bab was vacant and that those who had gone out in search of Him had failed to find Him. We heard Muhammad Big remonstrate with the guards. 'Why feel disturbed?' he pleaded. 'Are not His magnanimity and nobleness of soul sufficiently established in your eyes to convince you that He will never, for the sake of His own safety, consent to involve others in embarrassment? He, no doubt, must have retired, in the silence of this moonlit night, to a place where He can seek undisturbed communion with God. He will unquestionably return to His tent. He will never desert us.' In his eagerness to reassure his colleagues, Muhammad Big set out on foot along the road leading to Tihran. I, too, with my companions, followed him. Shortly after, the rest of the guards were seen, each on horseback, marching behind us. We had covered about a maydan8 when, by the dim light of the early dawn, we discerned in the distance the lonely figure of the Bab. He was coming towards us from the direction of Tihran. 'Did you believe Me to have escaped?' were His words to Muhammad Big as He approached him. 'Far be it from me,' was the instant reply as he flung himself at the feet of the Bab, 'to entertain such thoughts.' Muhammad Big was too much awed by the serene majesty which that radiant face revealed that morning to venture any further remark. A look of confidence had settled upon His countenance, His words were invested with such transcendent power, that a feeling of profound reverence wrapped our very souls. No one dared to question Him as to the cause of so remarkable a change in His speech 


[229] and demeanour. Nor did He Himself choose to allay our curiosity and wonder."


For a fortnight9 the Bab tarried in that spot. The tranquillity which He enjoyed amidst those lovely surroundings was rudely disturbed by the receipt of a letter which Muhammad Shah10 himself addressed to the Bab and which was [230] composed in these terms:11 "Much as we desire to meet you, we find ourself unable, in view of our immediate departure from our capital, to receive you befittingly in Tihran. We have signified our desire that you be conducted to Mah-Ku, and have issued the necessary instructions to 'Ali Khan, the warden of the castle, to treat you with respect and consideration. It is our hope and intention to summon you to this place upon our return to the seat of our government, at [231] which time we shall definitely pronounce our judgment. We trust that we have caused you no disappointment, and that you will at no time hesitate to inform us in case any grievances befall you. We fain would hope that you will continue to pray for our well-being and for the prosperity of our realm." (Dated Rabi'u'th-Thani, 1263 A.H.)12


Haji Mirza Aqasi13 was no doubt responsible for having induced Muhammad Shah to address such a communication to the Bab. He was actuated solely by a sense of fear14 lest [232] the contemplated interview should rob him of his position of unquestioned pre-eminence in the affairs of the State and should lead eventually to his overthrow from power. He entertained no feelings of malice or resentment toward the Bab. He finally succeeded15 in persuading his sovereign to transfer so dreaded an opponent to a remote and sequestered corner of his realm, and was thus able to relieve his mind of a thought that continually obsessed him.16 How stupendous was his mistake, how grievous his blunder! Little did he realise, at that moment, that by his incessant intrigues he was withholding from his king and country the incomparable benefits of a Divine Revelation which alone had the power to deliver the land from the appalling state of degradation into which it had fallen. By his act that short-sighted minister did not only withhold from Muhammad Shah the supreme instrument with which he could have rehabilitated a fast-declining empire, but also deprived him of that spiritual Agency which could have enabled him to establish his undisputed ascendancy over the peoples and nations of the earth. By his folly, his extravagance and perfidious counsels, he undermined the foundations of the State, lowered its prestige, sapped the loyalty of his subjects, and plunged them into 


[233] an abyss of misery.17 Incapable of being admonished by the example of his predecessors, he contemptuously ignored the demands and interests of the people, pursued, with unremitting zeal, his designs for personal aggrandisement, and by his profligacy and extravagance involved his country in ruinous wars with its neighbours. Sa'd-i-Ma'adh, who was neither of royal blood nor invested with authority, attained, through the uprightness of his conduct and his unsparing [234] devotion to the Cause of Muhammad, so exalted a station that to the present day the chiefs and rulers of Islam have continued to reverence his memory and to praise his virtues; whereas Buzurg-Mihr, the ablest, the wisest and most experienced administrator among the vazirs of Nushiravan-i-'Adil, in spite of his commanding position, eventually was publicly disgraced, was thrown into a pit, and became the object of the contempt and the ridicule of the people. He bewailed his plight and wept so bitterly that he finally lost his sight. Neither the example of the former nor the fate of the latter seemed to have awakened that self-confident minister to the perils of his own position. He persisted in his thoughts until he too forfeited his rank, lost his riches,18 and sank into abasement and shame. The numerous properties which he forcibly seized from the humble and law-abiding subjects of the Shah, the costly furnitures with which he embellished them, the vast expenditures of labour and treasure which he ordered for their improvement—all were irretrievably lost two years after he had issued his decree condemning the Bab to a cruel incarceration in the inhospitable mountains of Adhirbayjan. All his possessions were confiscated by the State. He himself was disgraced by his sovereign, was ignominiously expelled from Tihran, and fell a prey to disease and poverty. Bereft of hope and sunk in misery, he languished in Karbila until the hour of his death.19 


[235] The Bab was accordingly ordered to proceed to Tabriz.20 The same escort, under the command of Muhammad Big, attended Him on His journey to the northwestern province of Adhirbayjan. He was allowed to select one companion and one attendant from among His followers to be with Him during His sojourn in that province. He selected Siyyid Husayn-i-Yazdi and Siyyid Hasan, his brother. He refused to expend on Himself the funds provided by the government for the expense of that journey. All the allowances that were given by the State He bestowed upon the poor and needy, and devoted to His own private needs the money which He, as a merchant, had earned in Bushihr and Shiraz. As orders had been given to avoid entering the towns in the course of the journey to Tabriz, a number of the believers of Qazvin, informed of the approach of their beloved Leader, set out for the village of Siyah-Dihan21 and were there able to meet Him.


One of them was Mulla Iskandar, who had been delegated by Hujjat to visit the Bab in Shiraz, and to investigate His Cause. The Bab commissioned him to deliver the following message to Sulayman Khan-i-Afshar, who was a great admirer of the late Siyyid Kazim: "He whose virtues the late siyyid unceasingly extolled, and to the approach of whose Revelation he continually alluded, is now revealed. I am that promised One. Arise and deliver Me from the hand of the oppressor." When the Bab entrusted this message to Mulla Iskandar, Sulayman Khan was in Zanjan and was preparing to leave for Tihran. Within the space of three days, that message reached him. He failed, however, to respond to that appeal. 


[236] Two days later, a friend of Mulla Iskandar had acquainted Hujjat, who, at the instigation of the ulamas of Zanjan, had been incarcerated in the capital, with the appeal of the Bab. Hujjat immediately instructed the believers of his native city to undertake whatever preparations were required and to collect the necessary forces to achieve the deliverance of their Master. He urged them to proceed with caution and to attempt, at an appropriate moment, to seize and carry Him away to whatever place He might desire. These were shortly joined by a number of believers from Qazvin and Tihran, who set out, according to the directions of Hujjat, to execute the plan. They overtook the guards at the hour of midnight and, finding them fast asleep, approached the Bab and begged Him to flee. "The mountains of Adhirbayjan too have their claims," was His confident reply as He lovingly advised them to abandon their project and return to their homes.22


Approaching the gate of Tabriz, Muhammad Big, feeling that the hour of his separation from his Prisoner was at hand, besought His presence and with tearful eyes begged Him to overlook his shortcomings and transgressions. "The journey from Isfahan," he said, "has been long and arduous. I have failed to do my duty and to serve You as I ought. I crave Your forgiveness, and pray You to vouchsafe me Your blessings." "Be assured," the Bab replied, "I account you a member of My fold. They who embrace My Cause will eternally bless and glorify you, will extol your conduct and exalt your name."23 The rest of the guards followed the 


[237] example of their chief, implored the blessings of their Prisoner, kissed His feet, and with tears in their eyes bade Him a last farewell. To each the Bab expressed His appreciation of his devoted attentions and assured him of His prayers in his behalf. Reluctantly they delivered Him into the hands of the governor of Tabriz, the heir to the throne of Muhammad Shah. To those with whom they were subsequently brought in contact, these devoted attendants of the Bab and eye-witnesses of His superhuman wisdom and power, recounted with awe and admiration the tale of those wonders which they had seen and heard, and by this means helped to diffuse in their own way the knowledge of the new Revelation.


The news of the approaching arrival of the Bab at Tabriz bestirred the believers in that city. They all set out to meet Him, eager to extend to so beloved a Leader their welcome. The officials of the government into whose custody the Bab was to be delivered refused to allow them to draw near and to receive His blessings. One youth, however, unable to restrain himself, rushed forth barefooted, through the gate of the city, and, in his impatience to gaze upon the face of his Beloved, ran out a distance of half a farsang24 towards Him. As he approached the horsemen who were marching in advance of the Bab, he joyously welcomed them and, seizing [238] the hem of the garment of one among them, devoutly kissed his stirrups. "Ye are the companions of my Well-Beloved," he tearfully exclaimed. "I cherish you as the apple of my eye." His extraordinary behaviour, the intensity of his emotion, amazed them. They immediately granted him his request to attain the presence of his Master. As soon as his eyes fell upon Him, a cry of exultation broke from his lips. He fell upon his face and wept profusely. The Bab dismounted from His horse, put His arms around him, wiped away his tears, and soothed the agitation of his heart. Of all the believers of Tabriz, that youth alone succeeded in offering his homage to the Bab and in being blessed by the touch of His hand. All the others had perforce to content themselves with a distant glimpse of their Beloved, and with that view sought to satisfy their longing.


When the Bab arrived at Tabriz, He was conducted to one of the chief houses in that city, which had been reserved 


[239] for His confinement.25 A detachment of the Nasiri regiment stood guard at the entrance of His house. With the exception of Siyyid Husayn and his brother, neither the public nor His followers were allowed to meet Him. This same regiment, which had been recruited from among the inhabitants of Khamsih, and upon which special honours had been conferred, was subsequently chosen to discharge the volley that caused His death. The circumstances of His arrival had stirred the people in Tabriz profoundly. A tumultuous concourse of people had gathered to witness His entry into the city.26 Some were impelled by curiosity, others were earnestly desirous of ascertaining the veracity of the wild reports that were current about Him, and still others were moved by their faith and devotion to attain His presence and to assure Him of their loyalty. As He walked along the streets, the acclamations of the multitude resounded on every side. The great majority of the people who beheld His face greeted Him with the shout of "Allah-u-Akbar,"27 others loudly glorified and cheered Him, a few invoked upon Him the blessings of the Almighty, others were seen to kiss reverently the dust of His footsteps. Such was the clamour which His arrival had raised that a crier was ordered to warn the populace of the danger that awaited those who ventured to seek His presence. "Whosoever shall make any attempt to approach the Siyyid-i-Bab," went forth the cry, "or seek to meet him, all his possessions shall forthwith be seized and he himself condemned to perpetual imprisonment."


On the day after the Bab's arrival, Haji Muhammad-Taqiy-i-Milani, a noted merchant of the city, ventured, together with Haji 'Ali-'Askar, to interview the Bab. They were warned by their friends and well-wishers that by such an attempt they would not only be risking the loss of their [240] possessions, but would also be endangering their lives. They refused, however, to heed such counsels. As they approached the door of the house in which the Bab was confined, they were immediately arrested. Siyyid Hasan, who at that moment was coming out from the presence of the Bab, instantly intervened. "I am commanded by the Siyyid-i-Bab," he vehemently protested, "to convey to you this message: 'Suffer these visitors to enter, inasmuch as I Myself have invited them to meet Me.'" I have heard Haji 'Ali-'Askar testify to the following: "This message immediately silenced the opposers. We were straightway ushered into His presence. He greeted us with these words: 'These miserable wretches who watch at the gate of My house have been destined by Me as a protection against the inrush of the multitude who throng around the house. They are powerless to prevent those whom I desire to meet from attaining My presence.' For about two hours, we tarried with Him. As He dismissed us, He entrusted me with two cornelian ringstones, instructing me to have carved on them the two verses which He had previously given to me; to have them mounted and brought to Him as soon as they were ready. He assured us that at whatever time we desired to meet Him, no one would hinder our admittance to His presence. Several times I ventured to go to Him in order to ascertain His wish regarding certain details connected with the commission with which He had entrusted me. Not once did I encounter the slightest opposition on the part of those who were guarding the entrance of His house. Not one offensive word did they utter against me, nor did they seem to expect the slightest remuneration for their indulgence.


"I recall how, in the course of my association with Mulla Husayn, I was impressed by the many evidences of his perspicacity and extraordinary power. I was privileged to accompany him on his journey from Shiraz to Mashhad, and visited with him the towns of Yazd, Tabas, Bushruyih, and Turbat. I deplored in those days the sadness of my failure to meet the Bab in Shiraz. 'Grieve not,' Mulla Husayn confidently assured me; 'the Almighty is no doubt able to compensate you in Tabriz for the loss you have sustained in Shiraz. Not once, but seven times, can He enable you [241] to partake of the joy of His presence, in return for the one visit which you have missed.' I was amazed at the confidence with which he uttered those words. Not until the time of my visit to the Bab in Tabriz, when, despite adverse circumstances, I was, on several occasions, admitted into His presence, did I recall those words of Mulla Husayn and marvel at his remarkable foresight. How great was my surprise when, on my seventh visit to the Bab, I heard Him speak these words: 'Praise be to God, who has enabled you to complete the number of your visits and who has extended to you His loving protection.'"


FOOTNOTES


12.1. The site of the second most sacred shrine in Persia, and the burial-place of many of her kings, among them Fath-'Ali and Muhammad Shah.


12.2. "At Qum are deposited the remains of his [Imam Rida's] sister, Fatimiy-i-Ma'sumih, i.e. the Immaculate, who, according to one account, lived and died here, having fled from Baghdad to escape the persecution of the Khalifs; according to another, sickened and died at Qum, on her way to see her brother at Tus. He, for his part, is believed by the pious Shi'ahs to return the compliment by paying her a visit every Friday from his shrine at Mashhad." Lord Curzon's "Persia and the Persian Question," vol. 2, p. 8.)


12.3. A station on the old Tsfahan road, distant about 28 miles from Tihran. ("A Traveller's Narrative," p. 14, note 2.)


12.4. See "A Traveller's Narrative," p. 14, note 3.


12.5. "As the order of the prime minister Haji Mirza Aqasi became generally known, it was impossible to carry it out. From Isfahan to Tihran, everyone spoke of the iniquity of the clergy and of the government towards the Bab; everywhere the people muttered and exclaimed against such an injustice." (Journal Asiatique, 1866, tome 7, p. 355.) 


12.6. March 29, 1847 A.D. 


12.7. April 1, 1847 A.D.


12.8. See Glossary.


12.9. According to "A Traveller's Narrative" (p. 14), the Bab remained in the village of Kulayn for a period of twenty days. 


12.10. "Muhammad Shah," writes Gobineau, "was a prince of peculiar temperament, a type often seen in Asia but not often discovered or understood by Europeans. Although he reigned during a period when political practices were rather harsh, he was kind and patient and his tolerance extended even to the discords of his harem which were of such a nature as normally to cause grave annoyance; for, even in the days of Fath-'Ali Shah, the laisser-aller, the whims and fancies were never carried to such an extreme. The following words which our 18th century might recognize as its own are attributed to him: 'Why are you not more discreet, Madam? I do not wish to hinder you from enjoying yourself.' "But, in his case, it was not affected indifference, but fatigue and boredom. His health had always been wretched; seriously ill with gout, he was hardly ever free from pain. His disposition naturally weak, had become very melancholy and, as he craved love and could not find it in his family either with his wives or children, he had centered all his affection upon the aged Mulla, his tutor. He had made of him his only friend, his confidant, then his first and all-powerful minister, even his god! Brought up by this idol with very irreverent sentiments toward Islam, he was equally as indifferent toward the dogmas of the Prophet as toward the Prophet himself. He cared little for the Imams and, if he had any regard for 'Ali, it is because the Persian mind is wont to identify this venerable personage with the nation itself. "But in brief, Muhammad Shah was no better Muhammadan than he was Christian or Jew. He believed that the Divine Essence incarnates Itself in the Sages with all Its power, and, as he considered Haji Mirza Aqasi a Sage par excellence, he felt certain that he was God and he would piously ask him to perform miracles. Often he said to his officers with earnestness and conviction, 'The Haji has promised me a miracle for tonight, you shall see!' As long as the character of the Haji was not involved, Muhammad Shah was completely indifferent regarding the success or failure of this or that religious doctrine; he was rather pleased to witness the conflict of opinions which were proof to him of the universal blindness." (Comte de Gobineau's "Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale," pp. 131-132.)


12.11. According to "A Traveller's Narrative" (p. 14), the Bab "forwarded a letter to the Royal Presence craving audience to set forth the truth of His condition, expecting this to be a means for the attainment of great advantages." Regarding this letter, Gobineau writes as follows: "'Ali-Muhammad wrote personally to the Court and his letter and the accusations of his adversaries all arrived at the same time. Without assuming an aggressive attitude toward the king, but trusting on the contrary to his authority and justice, he represented to them that the depravity of the clergy in Persia had been well known for many years; that not only morals were thereby corrupted and the well-being of the nation affected, but that religion itself, poisoned by the sins of so many, was in great danger and was about to disappear leaving the people in perilous darkness. "As for himself, called by God, in virtue of a special mission, to prevent such an evil, he had already begun to apprise the people of Fars that the true doctrine had made evident and rapid progress; that all its adversaries had been confounded and were now powerless and universally despised; but that this was only a beginning. "The Bab, confident of the magnanimity of the king, requested the permission to come to the capital with his principal disciples and there hold conferences with all the Mullas of the Empire, in the presence of the sovereign, the nobles and the people, convinced that he would shame them by exposing their faithlessness. He would accept beforehand the judgment of the king and, in case of failure, was ready to sacrifice his head and that of each one of his followers." (Comte de Gobineau's "Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale," p. 124.)


12.12. March 19-April 17, 1847 A.D. 


12.13. According to Hidayat in the "Majma'u'l-Fusaha'," the name of Haji Mirza Aqasi was 'Abbas-'Ali. He was the son of Mirza Muslim, one of the well-known divines of Iravan. His son, 'Abbas-'Ali, was a pupil, while in Karbila, of Fahkru'd-Din 'Abdu's-Samad-i-Hamadani. From Karbila he proceeded to Hamadan, visited Adhirbayjan, and from there undertook a pilgrimage to Mecca. Returning, in circumstances of extreme poverty, to Adhirbayjan, he succeeded in gradually improving his position, and was made the tutor of the children of Mirza Musa Khan, the brother of the late Mirza Abu'l-Qasim, the Qa'im-Maqam. Muhammad Mirza, to whom he had announced his eventual accession to the throne of Persia, was greatly devoted to him. He eventually was appointed his prime minister, and retired after the death of the monarch to Karbila, where he died in Ramadan, 1265 A.H. (Notes of Mirza Abu'l-Fadl.) According to Haji Mu'inu's-Saltanih's narrative (p. 120), Haji Mirza Aqasi was born in Mah-Ku, where his parents had been residing after their departure from Iravan, in the Caucasus. "Haji Mirza Aqasi, native of Iravan, attained unlimited influence over his weak-minded master, formerly his tutor, and professed Sufi doctrine. A quizzical old gentleman, with a long nose, whose countenance betokened the oddity and self-sufficiency of his character." (C. R. Markham's "A General Sketch of the History of Persia" p. 473.) "As for the Haji, he was a very special kind of god. It was not absolutely certain that he did himself believe that of which the Shah was convinced. In any case, he preferred the same general principles as the King and he had taught them to him in good faith. He could nevertheless be a buffoon; jesting was the policy, the rule of his conduct and of his life. He pretended to take nothing seriously, not even himself. "'I am not a prime minister,' he often said, especially to those whom he mistreated; 'I am an old mulla of humble birth and without merit and, if I find myself in this high office, it is because it is the wish of the King.' "He never referred to his sons without calling them 'sons of hussies and sons of dogs.' It is in these terms that he enquired of them or sent them orders by his officers, when they were away. His greatest delight was to pass in review units of cavalry in which he would assemble, in their most gorgeous trappings, all the nomad Khans of Persia. When these warlike tribes were gathered in the valley, the Haji would appear, dressed like a beggar, with a threadbare and shapeless cap, a sword dangling awkwardly at his side and riding a small donkey. Then he would draw up the horsemen about him, call them fools, make fun of their attire, show their worthlessness, and then send them home with presents; for his sarcasm was always tempered with generosity." (Comte de Gobineau's "Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale," pp. 132-133.) 


12.14. "An anecdote shows the real motive of the prime minister in the suggestions he made to the Shah concerning the Bab. The Prince Farhad Mirza, still young, was the pupil of Haji Mirza Aqasi. The latter related the following story: 'When His Majesty, after consulting the prime minister, had written to the Bab to betake himself to Mah-Ku, we went with Haji Mirza Aqasi to spend a few days at Yaft-Abad, in the neighborhood of Tihran, in the park which he had created there. I was very desirous of questioning my master regarding the recent happenings but I feared to do so publicly. One day, while I was walking with him in the garden and he was in a good humor, I made bold to ask him: "Haji, why have you sent the Bab to Mah-Ku?" He replied,"You are still too young to understand certain things, but know that had he come to Tihran, you and I would not be, at this moment, walking free from care in this cool shade."'" (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab," pp. 243-244) According to Haji Mu'inu's-Saltanih's narrative (p. 129), the chief motive which actuated Haji Mirza Aqasi to urge Muhammad Shah to order the banishment of the Bab to Adhirbayjan was the fear lest the promise which the Bab had given to the sovereign that He would cure him of his illness, were he to allow Him to be received in Tihran, should be fulfilled. He felt sure that should the Bab be able to effect such a cure, the Shah would fall under the influence of his Prisoner and would cease to confer upon his prime minister the honours and benefits which he exclusively enjoyed.


12.15. According to Mirza Abu'l-Fadl, Haji Mirza Aqasi sought, by his reference to the rebellion of Muhammad Hasan Khan, the Salar, in Khurasan, and the revolt of Aqa Khan-i-Isma'ili, in Kirman, to induce the sovereign to abandon the project of summoning the Bab to the capital, and to send Him instead to the remote province of Adhirbayjan. 


12.16. "Nevertheless, on this occasion, his expectations did not materialize. Fearing that the presence of the Bab in Tihran would occasion new disturbances (there were plenty of them due to his whims and his poor administration), he altered his plans and the escort, charged to take the Bab from Isfahan to Tihran, received, when about thirty kilometers from the city, the order to take the prisoner directly to Mah-Ku. This town, in the mind of the prime minister, would offer nothing to the impostor because its inhabitants, out of gratitude for the favors and protection they had received from him, would take steps to suppress any disturbances which might break out." (Journal Asiatique, 1866, tome 7, p. 356.)


12.17. "The state of Persia, however, was not satisfactory; for Haji Mirza Aqasi, who had been its virtual ruler for thirteen years, 'was utterly ignorant of statesmanship or of military science, yet too vain to receive instruction and too jealous to admit of a coadjutor; brutal in his language; insolent in his demeanour; indolent in his habits; he brought the exchequer to the verge of bankruptcy and the country to the brink of revolution. The pay of the army was generally from three to five years in arrears. The cavalry of the tribes was almost annihilated.' Such—to adopt the weighty words of Rawlinson—was the condition of Persia in the middle of the nineteenth century." (P. M. Sykes' "A History of Persia," vol. 2, pp. 439-40.)


12.18. "Haji Mirza Aqasi, the half crazy old Prime Minister, had the whole administration in his hands, and obtained complete control over the Shah. The misgovernment of the country grew worse and worse, while the people starved, and cursed the Qajar dynasty.... The condition of the provinces was deplorable; and every man with any pretension to talent or patriotism was driven into exile by the old Haji, who was sedulously collecting wealth for himself at Tihran, at the expense of the wretched country. The governorships of provinces were sold to the highest bidders, who oppressed the people in a fearful manner." (C. R. Markham's "A General Sketch of the History of Persia," pp. 486-7.) 


12.19. Gobineau writes regarding his fall: "Haji Mirza Aqasi, robbed of the power which he had constantly ridiculed, had retired to Karbila and he spent his remaining days playing tricks on the mullas and scoffing even at the holy martyrs." ("Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale," p. 160.) "This shrewd man had gained such power over the late Shah that one could truly say that the minister was the real sovereign; he could not therefore survive the loss of his good fortune. At the death of Muhammad Shah, he had disappeared and had gone to Karbila where, under the protection of the sainted Imam, even a state criminal could find an inviolable asylum. He was soon overcome by gnawing grief which, more than his remorse, shortened his life." (Journal Asiatique, 1866, tome 7, pp. 367-368.)


12.20. According to "A Traveller's Narrative" (p. 16), the Bab "wrote a letter, in the course of the journey, to the Prime Minister, saying: 'You summoned me from Isfahan to meet the doctors and for the attainment of a decisive settlement. What has happened now that this excellent intention has been changed for Mah-Ku and Tabriz?'" 


12.21. According to Samandar (manuscript, pp. 4-5), the Bab tarried in the village of Siyah-Dihan, in the neighbourhood of Qazvin, on His way to Adhirbayjan. In the course of that journey, He is reported to have revealed several Tablets addressed to the leading ulamas in Qazvin, among whom were the following: Haji Mulla 'Abdu'l-Vahhab, Haji Mulla Salih, Haji Mulla Taqi, and Haji Siyyid Taqi. These Tablets were conveyed to their recipients through Haji Mulla Ahmad-i-Ibdal. Several believers, among whom were the two sons of Haji Mulla 'Abdu'l-Vahhab, were able to meet the Bab during the night which He spent in that village. It is from this village that the Bab is reported to have addressed His epistle to Haji Mirza Aqasi.


12.22. In the "Tarikh-i-Jadid," Muhammad Big is reported to have related the following account to Haji Mirza Jani: "So we mounted and rode on till we came to a brick caravanserai distant two parsangs from the city. Thence we proceeded to Milan, where many of the inhabitants came to see His Holiness, and were filled with wonder at the majesty and dignity of that Lord of mankind. In the morning, as we were setting out from Milan, an old woman brought a scald-headed child, whose head was so covered with scabs that it was white down to the neck, and entreated His Holiness to heal him. The guards would have forbidden her, but His Holiness prevented them, and called the child to Him. Then He drew a handkerchief over its head and repeated certain words; which he had no sooner done than the child was healed. And in that place about two hundred persons believed and underwent a true and sincere conversion." (Pp. 220-21.) 


12.23. Mirza Abu'l-Fadl states in his writings that he himself, while in Tihran, met the son of Muhammad Big, whose name was 'Ali-Akbar Big, and heard him recount the remarkable experiences his father had had in the course of his journey to Tabriz in the company of the Bab. 'Ali-Akbar Big was a fervent believer in the Cause of Baha'u'llah and was known as such by the Baha'is of Persia.


12.24. See Glossary.


12.25. According to "A Traveller's Narrative" (p. 16), the Bab remained forty days in Tabriz. According to Haji Mu'inu's-Saltanih's manuscript (p. 138), the Bab spent the first night, on His arrival in Tabriz, in the home of Muhammad Big. From there He was transferred to a room in the Citadel (the Ark) which adjoined the Masjid-i-'Ali Shah. 


12.26. "The success of this energetic man, Mulla Yusuf-i-Ardibili, was so great and so swift that, at the very gates of Tauris (Tabriz), the inhabitants of this populous village acknowledged him as their leader and took the name of Babis. Needless to say that, in the town itself, the Babis were quite numerous, even though the government was taking steps to convict the Bab, to punish him and thereby justify itself in the eyes of the people." (Journal Asiatique, 1866, tome 7, pp. 357-358.) 


12.27. "God is the Most Great."



CHAPTER XIII

THE BAB'S INCARCERATION IN THE CASTLE OF MAH-KU


[243] Siyyid Husayn-i-Yazdi has been heard to relate the following: "During the first ten days of the Bab's incarceration in Tabriz, no one knew what would next befall Him. The wildest conjectures were current in the city. One day I ventured to ask Him whether He would continue to remain where He was or would be transferred to still another place. 'Have you forgotten,' was His immediate reply, 'the question you asked me in Isfahan? For a period of no less than nine months, we shall remain confined in the Jabal-i-Basit,1 from whence we shall be transferred to the Jabal-i-Shadid.2 Both these places are among the mountains of Khuy and are situated on either side of the town bearing that name.' Five days after the Bab had uttered this prediction, orders were issued to transfer Him and me to the castle of Mah-Ku and to deliver us into the custody of 'Ali Khan-i-Mah-Ku'i."


The castle, a solid, four-towered stone edifice, occupies the summit of a mountain at the foot of which lies the town of Mah-Ku. The only road that leads from it passes into that town, ending at a gate which adjoins the seat of government and is invariably kept closed. This gate is distinct from that of the castle itself. Situated on the confines of both the Ottoman and Russian empires, this castle has been used, in view of its commanding position and strategic advantages, as a centre for reconnoitring purposes. The officer in charge of that station observed, in time of war, the movements of the enemy, surveyed the surrounding regions, and reported to his government such cases of emergency as came [244] under his observation. The castle is bounded on the west by the river Araxes, which marks the frontier between the territory of the Shah and the Russian empire. To the south extends the territory of the Sultan of Turkey; the frontier town of Bayazid being at a distance of only four farsangs3 from the mountain of Mah-Ku. The frontier officer, in charge of the castle, was a man named 'Ali Khan. The residents of the town are all Kurds and belong to the sunni sect of Islam.4 The shi'ahs, who constitute the vast majority of the inhabitants of Persia, have always been their avowed and bitter enemies. These Kurds particularly abhor the siyyids of the shi'ah denomination, whom they regard as the spiritual leaders and chief agitators among their opponents. 'Ali Khan's mother being a Kurd, the son was held in great esteem and was implicitly obeyed by the people of Mah-Ku. They regarded him as a member of their own community and placed the utmost confidence in him.


Haji Mirza Aqasi had deliberately contrived to relegate the Bab to so remote, so inhospitable and dangerously situated a corner of the territory of the Shah, with the sole purpose of stemming the tide of His rising influence and of severing every tie that bound Him to the body of His disciples throughout the country. Confident that few, if any, would venture to penetrate that wild and turbulent region, occupied by so rebellious a people, he fondly imagined that this forced seclusion of his Captive from the pursuits and interests of His followers would gradually tend to stifle the Movement at its very birth and would lead to its final extinction.5 He was soon made to realise, however, that he had gravely mistaken the nature of the Revelation of the Bab and had underrated the force of its influence. The turbulent spirits of this unruly people were soon subdued by the gentle manners of the Bab, and their hearts were softened [245] by the ennobling influence of His love. Their pride was humbled by His unexampled modesty, and their unreasoning arrogance mellowed by the wisdom of His words. Such was the fervour which the Bab had kindled in those hearts that their first act, every morning, was to seek a place whence they could catch a glimpse of His face, where they could commune with Him and beseech His blessings upon their daily work. In cases of dispute, they would instinctively hasten to that spot and, with their gaze fixed upon His prison, would invoke His name and adjure one another to declare the truth. 'Ali Khan several times attempted to induce them to desist from this practice but found himself powerless to restrain their enthusiasm. He discharged his functions with the utmost severity and refused to allow any of the avowed disciples of the Bab to reside, even for one night, in the town of Mah-Ku.6


"For the first two weeks," Siyyid Husayn further related, "no one was permitted to visit the Bab. My brother and I alone were admitted to His presence. Siyyid Hasan would, every day, accompanied by one of the guards, descend to the town and purchase our daily necessities. Shaykh Hasan-i-Zunuzi, who had arrived at Mah-Ku, spent the nights in a masjid outside the gate of the town. He acted as an intermediary between those of the followers of the Bab who occasionally visited Mah-Ku and Siyyid Hasan, my brother, who would in turn submit the petitions of the believers to their Master and would acquaint Shaykh Hasan with His reply. 


[246] "One day the Bab charged my brother to inform Shaykh Hasan that He would Himself request 'Ali Khan to alter his attitude towards the believers who visited Mah-Ku and to abandon his severity. 'Tell him,' He added, 'I will to-morrow instruct the warden to conduct him to this place.' I was greatly surprised at such a message. How could the domineering and self-willed 'Ali Khan, I thought to myself, be induced to relax the severity of his discipline? Early the next day, the gate of the castle being still closed, we were surprised by a sudden knock at the door, knowing full well that orders had been given that no one was to be admitted before the hour of sunrise. We recognised the voice of 'Ali Khan, who seemed to be expostulating with the guards, one of whom presently came in and informed me that the warden of the castle insisted on being allowed admittance into the presence of the Bab. I conveyed his message and was commanded to usher him at once into His presence. As I was stepping out of the door of His antechamber, I found 'Ali Khan standing at the threshold in an attitude of complete submission, his face betraying an expression of unusual humility and wonder. His self-assertiveness and pride seemed to have entirely vanished. Humbly and with extreme courtesy, he returned my salute and begged me to allow him to enter the presence of the Bab. I conducted him to the room which my Master occupied. His limbs trembled as he followed me. An inner agitation which he could not conceal [247] brooded over his face. The Bab arose from His seat and welcomed him. Bowing reverently, 'Ali Khan approached and flung himself at His feet. 'Deliver me,' he pleaded, 'from my perplexity. I adjure You, by the Prophet of God, Your illustrious Ancestor, to dissipate my doubts, for their weight has well-nigh crushed my heart. I was riding through the wilderness and was approaching the gate of the town, when, it being the hour of dawn, my eyes suddenly beheld You standing by the side of the river engaged in offering Your prayer. With outstretched arms and upraised eyes, You were invoking the name of God. I stood still and watched You. I was waiting for You to terminate Your devotions that I might approach and rebuke You for having ventured to leave the castle without my leave. In Your communion with God, You seemed so wrapt in worship that You were utterly forgetful of Yourself. I quietly approached You; in Your state of rapture, You remained wholly unaware of my presence. I was suddenly seized with great fear and recoiled at the thought of awakening You from Your ecstasy. I decided to leave You, to proceed to the guards and to reprove them for their negligent conduct. I soon found out, to my amazement, that both the outer and inner gates were closed. They were opened at my request, I was ushered into Your presence, and now find You, to my wonder, seated before me. I am utterly confounded. I know not whether my reason has deserted me.' The Bab answered and said: 'What you have witnessed is true and undeniable. You belittled this Revelation and have contemptuously disdained its Author. God, the All-Merciful, desiring not to afflict you with His punishment, has willed to reveal to your eyes the Truth. By His Divine interposition, He has instilled into your heart the love of His chosen One, and caused you to recognise the unconquerable power of His Faith.'"


This marvellous experience completely changed the heart of 'Ali Khan. Those words had calmed his agitation and subdued the fierceness of his animosity. By every means in his power, he determined to atone for his past behaviour. "A poor man, a shaykh," he hastily informed the Bab, "is yearning to attain Your presence. He lives in a masjid outside the gate of Mah-Ku. I pray You that I myself be [248] allowed to bring him to this place that he may meet You. By this act I hope that my evil deeds may be forgiven, that I may be enabled to wash away the stains of my cruel behaviour toward Your friends." His request was granted, whereupon he went straightway to Shaykh Hasan-i-Zunuzi and conducted him into the presence of his Master.


'Ali Khan set out, within the limits imposed upon him, to provide whatever would tend to alleviate the rigour of the captivity of the Bab. At night the gate of the castle was still closed; in the daytime, however, those whom the Bab desired to see were allowed to enter His presence, were able to converse with Him and to receive His instructions.


As He lay confined within the walls of the castle, He devoted His time to the composition of the Persian Bayan, the most weighty, the most illuminating and comprehensive of all His works.7 In it He laid down the laws and precepts of His Dispensation, plainly and emphatically announced the advent of a subsequent Revelation, and persistently urged His followers to seek and find "Him whom God would make manifest,"8 warning them lest they allow the mysteries and allusions in the Bayan to interfere with their recognition of His Cause.9 


[249] I have heard Shaykh Hasan-i-Zunuzi bear witness to the following: "The voice of the Bab, as He dictated the teachings and principles of His Faith, could be clearly heard by those who were dwelling at the foot of the mountain. The melody of His chanting, the rhythmic flow of the verses which streamed from His lips caught our ears and penetrated into our very souls. Mountain and valley re-echoed the majesty of His voice. Our hearts vibrated in their depths to the appeal of His utterance."10 


[250] The gradual relaxation of the stern discipline imposed upon the Bab encouraged an increasing number of His disciples from the different provinces of Persia to visit Him in the castle of Mah-Ku. An unceasing stream of eager and devout pilgrims was directed to its gates through the gentleness and leniency of 'Ali Khan.11 After a stay of three days, they would invariably be dismissed by the Bab, with instructions to return to their respective fields of service and to resume their labours for the consolidation of His Faith. 'Ali [251] Khan himself never failed to pay his respects to the Bab each Friday, and to assure Him of his unswerving loyalty and devotion. He often presented Him with the rarest and choicest fruit available in the neighbourhood of Mah-Ku, and would continually offer Him such delicacies as he thought would prove agreeable to His taste and liking.


In this manner the Bab spent the summer and autumn within the walls of that castle. A winter followed of such [252] exceptional severity that even the copper implements were affected by the intensity of the cold. The beginning of that season coincided with the month of Muharram of the year 1264 A.H.12 The water which the Bab used for His ablutions was of such icy coldness that its drops glistened as they froze upon His face. He would invariably, after the termination of each prayer, summon Siyyid Husayn to His presence and would request him to read aloud to Him a passage from the Muhriqu'l-Qulub, a work composed by the late Haji Mulla Mihdi, the great-grandfather of Haji Mirza Kamalu'd-Din-i-Naraqi, in which the author extols the virtues, laments the death, and narrates the circumstances of the martyrdom of the Imam Husayn. The recital of those sufferings would provoke intense emotion in the heart of the Bab. His tears would keep flowing as He listened to the tale of the unutterable indignities heaped upon him, and of the agonising pain which he was made to suffer at the hands of a perfidious enemy. As the circumstances of that tragic life were unfolded before Him, the Bab was continually reminded of that still greater tragedy which was destined to signalise the advent of the promised Husayn. To Him those past atrocities were but a symbol which foreshadowed the bitter afflictions which His own beloved Husayn was soon to suffer at the hands of His countrymen. He wept as He pictured in His mind those calamities which He who was to be made manifest was predestined to suffer, calamities such as the Imam Husayn, even in the midst of his agonies, was never made to endure.13 


[253] In one of His writings revealed in the year '60 A.H., the Bab declares the following: "The spirit of prayer which animates My soul is the direct consequence of a dream which I had in the year before the declaration of My Mission. In My vision I saw the head of the Imam Husayn, the Siyyidu'sh-Shuhada', which was hanging upon a tree. Drops of blood dripped profusely from His lacerated throat. With feelings of unsurpassed delight, I approached that tree and, stretching forth My hands, gathered a few drops of that sacred blood, and drank them devoutly. When I awoke, I felt that the Spirit of God had permeated and taken possession of My soul. My heart was thrilled with the joy of His Divine presence, and the mysteries of His Revelation were unfolded before My eyes in all their glory."


No sooner had Muhammad Shah condemned the Bab to captivity amid the mountain fastnesses of Adhirbayjan than he became afflicted with a sudden reverse of fortune, such as he had never known before and which struck at the very foundations of his State. Appalling disaster surprised his forces that were engaged in maintaining internal order throughout the provinces.14 The standard of rebellion was [254] hoisted in Khurasan, and so great was the consternation provoked by that rising that the projected campaign of the Shah to Hirat was immediately abandoned. Haji Mirza Aqasi's recklessness and prodigality had fanned into flame the smouldering fires of discontent, had exasperated the masses and encouraged them to stir up sedition and mischief. The most turbulent elements in Khurasan that inhabited the regions of Quchan, Bujnurd, and Shiravan leagued themselves with the Salar, son of the Asifu'd-Dawlih, the elder maternal uncle of the Shah and governor of the province, and repudiated the authority of the central government. Whatever forces were despatched from the capital met with immediate defeat at the hands of the chief instigators of the rebellion. Ja'far-Quli Khan-i-Namdar and Amir Arslan Khan, son of the Salar, who conducted the operations against the forces of the Shah, displayed the utmost cruelty and, having repulsed the attacks of the enemy, mercilessly put their captives to death.


Mulla Husayn was at that time residing at Mashhad,15 and was endeavouring, despite the tumult which that revolt had occasioned, to spread the knowledge of the new Revelation. No sooner had he discovered that the Salar, in his desire to extend the scope of the rebellion, had determined to approach him and obtain his support, than he promptly decided to leave the city in order to avoid implicating himself [255] in the plots of that proud and rebellious chief. In the dead of night, with only Qambar-'Ali as his attendant, he proceeded on foot in the direction of Tihran, from which place he was determined to visit Adhirbayjan, where he hoped to meet the Bab. His friends, when they learned of the manner of his departure, immediately provided whatever would be conducive to the comforts of his long and arduous journey and hastened to overtake him. Mulla Husayn declined their help. "I have vowed," he said, "to walk the whole distance that separates me from my Beloved. I shall not relax in my resolve until I shall have reached my destination." He even tried to induce Qambar-'Ali to return to Mashhad, but was finally obliged to yield to his entreaty to allow him to act as his servant throughout his pilgrimage to Adhirbayjan.


On his way to Tihran, Mulla Husayn was enthusiastically greeted by the believers in the different towns through which he passed. They addressed to him the same request and received from him the same reply. I have heard the following testimony from the lips of Aqay-i-Kalim: "When Mulla Husayn arrived at Tihran, I, together with a large number of believers, went to visit him. He seemed to us the very embodiment of constancy, of piety and virtue. He inspired us with his rectitude of conduct and passionate loyalty. Such were the force of his character and the ardour of his faith that we felt convinced that he, unaided and alone, would be capable of achieving the triumph of the Faith of God." He was, with secrecy, ushered into the presence of Baha'u'llah, and, soon after his interview, proceeded to Adhirbayjan.


The night before his arrival at Mah-Ku, which was the eve of the fourth Naw-Ruz after the declaration of the [256] Mission of the Bab, and which fell in that year, the year 1264 A.H.,16 on the thirteenth of the month of Rabi'u'th-Thani, 'Ali Khan dreamed a dream. "In my sleep," he thus relates his story, "I was startled by the sudden intelligence that Muhammad, the Prophet of God, was soon to arrive at Mah-Ku, that He was to proceed directly to the castle in order to visit the Bab and to offer Him His congratulations on the advent of the Naw-Ruz festival. In my dream, I ran out to meet Him, eager to extend to so holy a Visitor the expression of my humble welcome. In a state of indescribable gladness, I hastened on foot in the direction of the river, and as I reached the bridge, which lay at a distance of a maydan17 from the town of Mah-Ku, I saw two men advancing towards me. I thought one of them to be the Prophet Himself, while the other who walked behind Him I supposed to be one of His distinguished companions. I hastened to throw myself at His feet, and was bending to kiss the hem of His robe, when I suddenly awoke. A great joy had flooded my soul. I felt as if Paradise itself, with all its delights, had been crowded into my heart. Convinced of the reality of my vision, I performed my ablutions, offered my prayer, arrayed myself in my richest attire, anointed myself with perfume, and proceeded to the spot where, the night before in my dream, I had gazed upon the countenance of the Prophet. I had instructed my attendants to saddle three of my best and swiftest steeds and to conduct them immediately to the bridge. The sun had just risen when, alone and unescorted, I walked out of the town of Mah-Ku in the direction of the river. As I approached the bridge, I discovered, with a throb of wonder, the two men whom I had seen in my dream walking one behind the other, and advancing towards me. Instinctively I fell at the feet of the one whom I believed to be the Prophet, and devoutly kissed them. I begged Him and His companion to mount the horses which I had prepared for their entry into Mah-Ku. 'Nay,' was His reply, 'I have vowed to accomplish the whole of my journey on foot. I will walk to the summit of this mountain and will there visit your Prisoner.'"


This strange experience of 'Ali Khan brought about a 


[257] deepening of reverence in his attitude towards the Bab. His faith in the potency of His Revelation became even greater, and his devotion to Him was vastly increased. In an attitude of humble surrender, he followed Mulla Husayn until they reached the gate of the castle. As soon as the eyes of Mulla Husayn fell upon the countenance of his Master, who was seen standing at the threshold of the gate, he halted instantly and, bowing low before Him, stood motionless by His side. The Bab stretched forth His arms and affectionately embraced him. Taking him by the hand, He conducted him to His chamber. He then summoned His friends into His presence and celebrated in their company the feast of Naw-Ruz. Dishes of sweetmeats and of the choicest fruits had been spread before Him. He distributed them among His assembled friends, and as He offered some of the quinces and apples to Mulla Husayn, He said: "These luscious fruits have come to us from Milan, the Ard-i-Jannat,18 and have been specially plucked and consecrated to this feast by the Ismu'llahu'l-Fatiq, Muhammad-Taqi."


Until that time no one of the disciples of the Bab but Siyyid Husayn-i-Yazdi and his brother had been allowed to spend the night within the castle. That day 'Ali Khan went to the Bab and said: "If it be Your desire to retain [258] Mulla Husayn with You this night, I am ready to abide by Your wish, for I have no will of my own. However long You desire him to stay with You, I pledge myself to carry out Your command." The disciples of the Bab continued to arrive in increasing numbers at Mah-Ku, and were immediately and without the least restriction admitted to His presence.


One day, as the Bab, in the company of Mulla Husayn, was looking out over the landscape of the surrounding country from the roof of the castle, He gazed towards the west and, as He saw the Araxes winding its course far away below Him, turned to Mulla Husayn and said: "That is the river, and this is the bank thereof, of which the poet Hafiz has thus written: 'O zephyr, shouldst thou pass by the banks of the Araxes, implant a kiss on the earth of that valley and make fragrant thy breath. Hail, a thousand times hail, to thee, O abode of Salma! How dear is the voice of thy camel-drivers, how sweet the jingling of thy bells!'19 The days of your stay in this country are approaching their end. But for the shortness of your stay, we would have shown you the 'abode of Salma,' even as we have revealed to your eyes the 'banks of the Araxes.'" By the "abode of Salma" the Bab meant the town of Salmas, which is situated in the neighbourhood of Chihriq and which the Turks designate as Salmas. Continuing His remarks, the Bab said: "It is the immediate influence of the Holy Spirit that causes words such as these to stream from the tongue of poets, the significance of which they themselves are oftentimes unable to apprehend. The following verse is also divinely inspired: 'Shiraz will be thrown into a tumult; a Youth of sugar-tongue will appear. I fear lest the breath of His mouth should agitate and upset Baghdad.' The mystery enshrined within this verse is now concealed; it will be revealed in the year after Hin."20 The Bab subsequently quoted this well-known tradition: "Treasures lie hidden beneath the throne [259] of God; the key to those treasures is the tongue of poets." He then, one after the other, related to Mulla Husayn those events which must needs transpire in the future, and bade him not to mention them to anyone.21 "A few days after your departure from this place," the Bab informed him, "they will transfer Us to another mountain. Ere you arrive at your destination, the news of Our departure from Mah-Ku will have reached you."


The prediction which the Bab had uttered was promptly fulfilled. Those who had been charged to watch secretly the movements and conduct of 'Ali Khan submitted to Haji Mirza Aqasi a detailed report in which they expatiated upon his extreme devotion to his Prisoner and described such incidents as tended to confirm their statements. "Day and night," they wrote him, "the warden of the castle of Mah-Ku is to be seen associating with his captive in conditions of unrestrained freedom and friendliness. 'Ali Khan, who obstinately refused to wed his daughter with the heir to the throne of Persia, pleading that such an act would so infuriate the sunni relatives of his mother that they would unhesitatingly put him and his daughter to death, now with the keenest eagerness desires that same daughter to be espoused to the Bab. The latter has refused, but 'Ali Khan still persists in his entreaty. But for the prisoner's refusal, the nuptials of the maiden would have been already celebrated." 'Ali Khan had actually made such a request and had even begged Mulla Husayn to intercede in his behalf with the Bab but had failed to obtain His consent.


These malevolent reports had an immediate influence upon Haji Mirza Aqasi. Fear and resentment again impelled that capricious minister to issue a peremptory order for the transference of the Bab to the castle of Chihriq.


Twenty days after Naw-Ruz, the Bab bade farewell to the people of Mah-Ku, who, in the course of His nine months' captivity, had recognised to a remarkable degree the power [260] of His personality and the greatness of His character. Mulla Husayn, who had already, at the bidding of the Bab, departed from Mah-Ku, was still in Tabriz when the news of his Master's predicted transference to Chihriq reached him. As the Bab bade His last farewell to Mulla Husayn, He addressed him in these words: "You have walked on foot all the way from your native province to this place. On foot you likewise must return until you reach your destination; for your days of horsemanship are yet to come. You are destined to exhibit such courage, such skill and heroism as shall eclipse the mightiest deeds of the heroes of old. Your daring exploits will win the praise and admiration of the dwellers in the eternal Kingdom. You should visit, on your way, the believers of Khuy, of Urumiyyih, of Maraghih, of Milan, of Tabriz, of Zanjan, of Qazvin, and of Tihran. To each you will convey the expression of My love and tender affection. You will strive to inflame their hearts anew with the fire of the love of the Beauty of God, and will endeavour to fortify their faith in His Revelation. From Tihran you should proceed to Mazindaran, where God's hidden treasure will be made manifest to you. You will be called upon to perform deeds so great as will dwarf the mightiest achievements of the past. The nature of your task will, in that place, be revealed to you, and strength and guidance will be bestowed upon you that you may be fitted to render your service to His Cause."


On the morning of the ninth day after Naw-Ruz, Mulla Husayn set forth, as bidden by his Master, on his journey to Mazindaran. To Qambar-'Ali the Bab addressed these parting words: "The Qambar-'Ali of a bygone age would glory in that his namesake has lived to witness a Day for which even He22 who was the Lord of his lord sighed in vain; of which He, with keen longing, has spoken: 'Would that My eyes could behold the faces of My brethren who have been privileged to attain unto His Day!'" 


FOOTNOTES


13.1. Literally "the Open Mountain," allusion to Mah-Ku. The numerical value of "Jabal-i-Basit is equivalent to that of "Mah-Ku." 


13.2. Literally "the Grievous Mountain," allusion to Chihrig. The numerical value of "Jabal-i-Shadid" is equivalent to that of "Chihrig."


13.3. Refer to Glossary. 


13.4. "He dwells in a mountain of which the inhabitants could not even pronounce the name 'Jannat' (Paradise) which is an Arabic word; how then could they understand its meaning? Imagine then what can happen in the matter of the essential truths!" ("Le Bayan Persan," vol. 4, p. 14.) 


13.5. "The country of the first minister on the Adhirbayjan frontier, this village was lifted out of obscurity under the administration of this minister and many citizens of Mah-Ku were raised to the highest offices in the state, because of their slavish attitude toward Haji Mirza Aqasi." (Journal Asiatique, 1866, tome 7, p. 356, note 1.)


13.6. "The Bab himself tells us how he spent his days in the prison in which he was held captive. His lamentations, so frequent in the Bayan, were, I believe, due to the discipline which, from time to time, grew more severe at the command from Tihran. All the historians, in fact, Babis as well as Moslem, tell us that in spite of the strict orders to keep the Bab from communicating with the outer world, the Bab received great numbers of disciples and strangers in his prison. (The author of Mutanabbiyyin writes: 'The Babis from all parts of the earth went to Adhirbayjan on a pilgrimage to their chief.') "'Oh! How great is your blindness, O my children ! That which you do, you do believing to please me! And in spite of these verses which prove my being, these verses which flow from my power, the treasure of which is the very being of this personage (the Bab), in spite of these verses which come from his lips only by my permission, behold that, without any right whatsoever, you have placed him on the summit of a mountain whose inhabitants are not even worthy of mention. Close to him, which is close to me, there is no one except one of the Letters of the Living of my book. In his hands, which are my hands, there is not even a servant to light the lamp at night. And behold! The men who are upon the earth have been created only for his own existence: it is through his good will that has come all their joy and they do not give him even a light!' (Unite 2, porte 1.) "'The fruit of the religion of Islam is faith in the Manifestation (of the Bab) and behold they imprison him in Mah-Ku!' (Unite 2, porte 7.) 'All that belongs to the divinely Chosen One is in heaven. This solitary room (wherein I am) which has not even a door, is today the greatest of the gardens of Paradise, for the Tree of Truth is planted herein. All the atoms of which it is composed cry out, "In truth, there is no other God but God, and there is no other God beside me, the Lord of the Universe!"' (Unite 2, porte 16.) "'The fruit of this door is that men, seeing that it is permitted to do all that for the Bayan (that is, spend so much money) which is only the foreshadowing of Him whom God shall make manifest, must realize what should be done for Him whom God shall make manifest, when he will appear, so that he will be spared what is happening to me on this day. That is to say, that there are throughout the world many Qur'ans worth thousands of tumans, while He who has showered verses (the Bab) is imprisoned on a mountain, in a room built of bricks baked in the sun. And, notwithstanding, that room is the Arch itself (9th heaven, the abode of Divinity). Let this be an example to the Bayanis so that they may not act toward Him as the believers in the Qur'an have acted toward me.' (Unite 3, porte 19.)" (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab," pp. 365-367.) "All believe in Him, and still they have imprisoned him on a mountain! All are made glad in Him and they have abandoned him! No fire is fiercer for those who have acted thus than their very works; likewise for the believers no heaven is higher than their own faith!" ("Le Bayan Persan," vol. 1, pp. 126-127.)


13.7. "So great multitudes continued to come from all quarters to visit the Bab, and the writings which emanated from His inspired pen during this period were so numerous that they amounted in all to more than a hundred thousand verses." (The "Tarikh-i-Jadid," p. 238.) "Behold, that about one hundred thousand lines similar to these verses have been scattered among men not to mention the prayers and questions of science and philosophy." ("Le Bayan Persan," vol. 1, p. 43.) "Consider also the Point of the Bayan. Those who are familiar with it know how great its importance was before the manifestation; but thereafter, and although it has revealed more than five hundred thousand verses upon diverse subjects, attacks are made upon it which are so violent that no writer would wish to relate them." ("Le Bayan Persan," vol. 3, p. 113.) "The verses which have rained from this Cloud of Divine mercy [the Bab] have been so abundant that none hath yet been able to estimate their number. A score of volumes are now available. How many still remain beyond our reach! How many have been plundered and have fallen into the hands of the enemy, the fate of which none knoweth!" (The "Kitab-i-Iqan," pp. 182-3.) 


13.8. Allusion to Baha'u'llah. "To Mulla Baqir, one of the Letters of the Living—the glory and favour of God be upon him—He [the Bab] addresses these words: 'Haply, in the eighth year, the Day of His Manifestation, thou mayest attain His presence.'" ("The Epistle to the Son of the Wolf," p. 129.) 


13.9. "It is always in the same line of thought that when imprisoned in Mah-Ku he addressed a long letter to the Shah (Muhammad Shah) which we are about to analyze here. The document begins like nearly all the literary documents of the Bab with exalted praise of Divine Unity. The Bab continues in praising, as is fitting, Muhammad, the twelve Imams, who, as we shall see in the second volume of this work, are cornerstones of the Bayan edifice. 'I affirm,' he exclaims, 'that everything which is in this world of possibilities other than they, is, in comparison, as absolute nothingness, and if one could express it at all, all that is but a shadow of a shadow. I ask God to pardon me for assigning to them such limits. In truth, the highest degree of praise which one can confer upon them is to confess in their very presence that it is impossible to praise them.... "'This is why God has created me out of a clay from which no one else has been created. And God has given me what the learned, with all their science, are unable to understand, what no one can know unless he be completely humbled before my revelation.... Know then in truth, I am a pillar of the first word; whosoever knows that first word has known God wholly, and has entered into the universal good. Whosoever has refused to know it has remained in ignorance of God and has entered into the universal evil. "'I take God as witness, the Master of the two worlds, he who here below lives as long as nature permits and remains all his life the servant of God in all the works prescribed by true religion, if he entertains in his heart any enmity towards me, even so little that God alone might be aware of it, he is useless and God will prepare for him a punishment; he will be among those destined to die. God has determined the good which is implied in obedience to me, and all the evil which follows disobedience to my commands. In truth, today I see all that I have just said; I see the children of my love, the obedient ones in the highest heaven, while my enemies are thrust into the depths of eternal fire! "'By my life, I swear, if I had not been obliged to accept the station of the Hujjat of God, I would not have warned you!'... "It is evident that the Bab re-states his affirmations made in the Kitab-i-baynu'i-Haramayn without addition or retraction. 'I am,' he says, 'the Point from which all being flows. I am that Face of God which never dies! I am that Light which is never extinguished! He who knows me is accompanied with all good, he who rejects me is pursued by evil. In truth, when Moses besought God that he might gaze upon Him, God radiated upon the mountain and as the hadith explains, "this light, I solemnly affirm was my light." Do you not see that the numerical value of the letters which make up my name is equal to the value of those which compose the word Rabb (Lord)? But has not God said in the Qur'an, "And when your Rabb radiates upon the mountain"?' "The Bab continues with a study of the prophecies contained in the Qur'an and in some of the hadiths concerning the manifestation of the Mihdi. He relates the celebrated hadith of Mufaddal which is one of the strongest arguments in favor of the truth of his mission. "It is said in the Qur'an, chapter 32, verse 4: 'From the heaven to the earth, He governeth all things; hereafter shall they come up to Him on a day whose length shall be a thousand of such years as ye reckon.' (Note: J. M. Rodwell's translation.) "On the other hand, the last Imam disappeared in the year 260 of the Hegira; it is at that time that the prophetic manifestation is completed and that 'The door of science is closed.' But Mufaddal questioned the Imam Sadiq as to the signs of the coming of the Mihdi and the Imam answered: 'He will appear in the year sixty and his name will be glorified.' This means in the year 1260 which is precisely the year of the manifestation of the Bab. "On this subject Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad said: 'I declare before God I have never been taught and my education has been that of a merchant. In the year sixty, I felt my heart filled with potent verses, with true knowledge and with the testimony of God and I proclaimed my mission that very year.... That same year I sent you a messenger (Mulla Husayn-i-Bushru'i) carrying a Book, so that the government might fulfill its duty towards the Hujjat. But the will of God being that civil war should break out which would deafen the ears of men, blind their eyes and crush their hardened hearts, the messenger was not permitted to reach you. Those who considered themselves patriots intervened and, even today, after a lapse of four years, no one has told you the truth regarding this occurrence. And now as my time is near and my work is not human but divine, I have written briefly to you. "'If you could know how during these four years your officials and delegates have treated me! If you knew, the fear of God would choke you unless you would decide immediately to obey the Hujjat and make amends for the harm done. "'I was in Shiraz and I suffered from this evil and accursed governor such tyrannies that, if you knew even the least of them, your sense of justice would exact revenge, because his cruelty has drawn the punishment of heaven even unto the judgment day on the entire empire. This man, very proud and always inebriated, never gave an intelligent order. I was forced to leave Shiraz and was on my way to visit you in Tihran, but the late Mu'tamidu'd-Dawlih understood my mission and did what respect for God's elect demands. The ignorant of the city started an uprising and I, therefore, hid myself in the Palace of Sadr until the death of Mu'tamidu'd-Dawlih. May God reward him! There is no doubt that his salvation from eternal fire is due to what he has done for me. Then Gurgin forced me to travel during seven nights with five other men, exposed to every discomfort and brutality and deprived of every necessity. At last, the Sultan ordered that I should be taken to Mah-Ku without even providing me with a mount. I finally reached that village whose inhabitants are ignorant and coarse. I affirm before God, if you knew in what place I dwell, you would be the first to pity me. It is a dungeon on a mountain top and I owe that to your kindness! My companions are two men and four dogs. Imagine how I spend my days! I thank God as He should be thanked, and I declare before God that he who has thus imprisoned me is satisfied with himself. And if he only knew who it is he has so treated he would never again taste happiness! "'And now I reveal a secret to you! This man in imprisoning me has imprisoned all of the prophets, all the saints and him who is filled with divine wisdom. There is no sin which has not brought me affliction. When I learned of your command (to take me to Mah-Ku) I wrote to Sadr-i-A'zam: "Kill me and send my head wherever you please, because to live without sin among sinners does not please me." He did not reply and I am convinced that he did not understand the matter, because to sadden without reason the hearts of the believers is worse than to destroy the very house of God; but I declare that it is I who am today the house of God! Reward comes to him who is good to me; it is as though he were good to God, to His angels and to His saints. But perhaps God and His saints are too high above us for the good or evil of men to reach their threshold, but what happens to God, happens to me. I declare before God that he who has imprisoned me has imprisoned himself; only that which is the will of God can happen to me. Woe to him whose hand works evil! Blessed is he who scatters good! "'At last, to sum up this letter already too long: The late Mu'tamid, one night, dismissed all his guests to retire, even Haji Mulla Ahmad, and then he said to me: "I know very well that all I have acquired has been obtained through force and all that I have belongs to the Sahibu'z-Zaman. I therefore give it all to thee, thou art the Master of Truth and I ask of thee the privilege of ownership." He even took the ring off his finger and gave it to me. I took it and gave it back to him and I sent him away in possession of all his goods. God is witness of the truth of this testimony. I do not wish for a dinar of his wealth, that is for you to dispose of; but as, in any dispute, God requires the testimony of two witnesses, from the midst of all the learned, call Siyyid Yahya and Akhund Mulla 'Abdu'l-Khaliq. They will show you and will explain my verses and the truth of my testimony will appear. "'Of these two personages, one knew me before the manifestation, the other afterward; I have chosen them because they both know me well!' "The letter ends with cabalistic proofs and some hadiths. It is clear therefore that the Bab was very unhappy in his prison. He evidently remained there a long time, as the document which we have quoted dates back to 1264, and the execution of the martyr took place only on the twenty-seventh of Sha'ban of the year 1266 (July 8, 1850)." (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab," pp. 367-373.)


13.10. This is the prayer which the Bab Himself quotes in the "Dala'il-i-Sab'ih" as His supplication during the months of His captivity in the castle of Mah-Ku: "O my God! Grant to him, to his descendants, to his family, to his friends, to his subjects, to his relatives and all the inhabitants of the earth the light which will clarify their vision and facilitate their task; grant that they may partake of the noblest works here and hereafter! "In truth, nothing is impossible to Thee. "O my God! give him the power to bring about a revival of Thy religion and give life by him to what Thou hast changed in Thy Book. Manifest through him Thy new commandments so that through him Thy religion may blossom again! Put into his hands a new Book, pure and holy, that this Book may be free from all doubt and uncertainty and that no one may be able to alter or destroy it. "O my God! Dispel through Thy splendor all darkness and through his evident power do away with the antiquated laws. By his preeminence ruin those who have not followed the ways of God. Through him destroy all tyrants, put an end, through his sword, to all discord; annihilate, through his justice, all forms of oppression; render the rulers obedient to his commandments; subordinate all the empires of the world to his empire! "O my God! Humble everyone who desires to humble him; destroy all his enemies; deny anyone who denies him and confuse anyone who spurns the truth, resists his orders, endeavors to darken his light and blot his name!" The Bab then adds these words: "Repeat these benedictions often and, if time to recite them all be lacking, do not fail to say at least the last. Be awake on the day of the apparition of Him whom God will manifest because this prayer has come down from heaven for Him, although I hope no sorrow awaits Him; I have taught the believers in my religion never to rejoice over the misfortune of anyone. It is possible therefore that at the time of the appearance of the Sun of Truth no suffering may fall upon Him." ("Le Livre des Sept Preuves," translation of A. L. M. Nicolas, pp. 64-65.)


13.11. "L'auteur du Mutanabiyyin ecrit: 'Les Babi de toutes les parties de la terre se rendaient en Adhirbayjan, en pelerinage aupres de leur chef.'" (Prince 'Ali-Quli Mirza, I'tidadu's-Saltanih being the author.) (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab," p. 365, note 227.)


13.12. December 9, 1847-January 8, 1848 A.D. 


13.13. "During his sojourn in Mah-Ku the Bab composed a great number of works, amongst the more important of which may be especially mentioned the Persian Bayan and the Seven Proofs (Dala'il-i-Sab'ih), both of which contain ample internal evidence of having been written at this period. Indeed, if we may credit a statement made in the Tarikh-i-Jadid on the authority of Mirza 'Abdu'l-Vahhab, the various writings of the Bab current in Tabriz alone amounted in all to not less than a million verses!" ("A Traveller's Narrative" Note L, p. 200.) Regarding the "Dala'il-i-Sab'ih," Nicolas writes as follows: "The Book of Seven Proofs is the most important of the polemical works from the pen of Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad, dit le Bab." (Preface, page 1.) "His correspondent evidently asked him for the proofs of his mission and his answer is admirable for its precision and clearness. It rests upon two verses of the Qur'an; according to the first, no one can reveal verses even though assisted by the entire world of men and evil spirits; according to the second, no one can understand the meaning of the verses of the Qur'an except God, and men of solid learning." (Preface, p. 5.) "Clearly the arguments of the Bab are new and original and one can see, by this brief reference, of what profound interest must be his literary work. The scope of my work does not permit me to expound, even briefly, the principal dogmas of a bold doctrine the form of which is both brilliant and attractive. I hope to do so in the future but I wish to make another comment upon the Book of the Seven Proofs: toward the end of his book, the Bab speaks of the miracles which have accompanied his manifestation. This will probably astonish the reader, as we have seen the new apostle deny clearly the truth of the physical miracles which the Muhammadan imagination attributes to Muhammad. He affirms that, for himself as well as for the Arabian Prophet, the only proof of his mission was the outpouring of the verses. He offers no other proof, not because he is unable to perform miracles—God being all-powerful—but simply because physical marvels are of inferior order in comparison with spiritual miracles." (Preface, pp. 12-13.) ("Le Livre des Sept Preuves," translation by A. L. M. Nicolas.)


13.14. "The province had been for some years the scene of serious uprisings. At the end of 1844 or at the beginning of 1845, the governor of Bujnurd had revolted against the authority of the Shah and had made an alliance with the Turkomans against Persia. The Prince Asifu'd-Dawlih, governor of Khurasan, asked the capital for assistance. The general Khan Baba Khan, commander-in-chief of the Persian army, was ordered to send a thousand men against the rebels but the scarcity of public funds prevented the expedition. The Shah, therefore, planned to head personally a campaign in the spring. The preparations began immediately. Soon ten battalions, of one thousand men each, were ready awaiting the arrival of Prince Hamzih Mirza, appointed general-in-chief of the expedition. All of a sudden, the governor of Khurasan, Asifu'd-Dawlih, brother of the King's mother, feeling that his security was threatened by the suspicions of the authorities at Tihran, arrived at the court humbly to protest at the feet of the King and to assure him of his complete devotion, and demand that his defamers be punished. "It so happened that the principal one among his adversaries was Haji Mirza Aqasi, the all-powerful prime minister. A long trial took place which ended with the defeat of the governor and he was ordered to go on a pilgrimage to Mecca with the mother of the King. "The son of Asifu'd-Dawlih, Salar, guardian of the mosque at Mashhad, wealthy in his own right, confident because of his alliance with the chief Kurd, Ja'far-Quli Khan, Ilkhani of the tribe of Qajar, assumed a hostile attitude. Thereupon 3000 men and 12 pieces of artillery were sent in retaliation and the government of Khurasan was given into the hands of Hamzih Mirza. "The news that Ja'far-Quli Khan, heading a large troop of cavalry, had attacked the royal expedition, caused five more regiments and eighteen additional field pieces to be sent. On the twenty-eighth of October, 1847, this uprising was completely crushed, through the victory of Shah-rud (September 15) and the defeat and flight of Ja'far-Quli-Khan and of Salar." (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab," pp. 257-258.)


13.15. "Mashhad is the greatest place of pilgrimage in all Persia, Karbila being, as everyone knows in Ottoman territory. It is in Mashhad that the holy shrine of the Imam Rida is located. I shall not enlarge upon the hundreds of miracles that have taken place and still take place at this shrine; it is enough to know that every year thousands of pilgrims visit the tomb and return home only after the shrewd exploiters of that productive business have separated them from their last penny. The stream of gold flows on and on for the benefit of the greedy officials; but these officials need the cooperation of many partners to catch their innumerable dupes in their nets. This is, without doubt, the best organized industry in Persia. If one half of the city derives its living from the mosque, the other half is likewise keenly interested in the great concourse of pilgrims. The merchants, the restaurant and hotel keepers, even the young women who find among the visitors an abundant supply of 'husbands for a day'! "All these people were naturally allied against a missionary whose teachings were threatening their livelihood. To denounce these abuses in any other city was tolerable but it was quite improper to denounce them where everyone of every class was thriving upon them. The Imam Mihdi had undoubtedly the right to come but he certainly was a public nuisance. It may have been very thrilling to undertake with him the conquest of the world, but there was fatigue, risk and danger in the enterprise while now they were enjoying perfect peace in a fine city where one could earn a living with ease and security." (Ibid., pp. 258-259.)


13.16. 1848 A.D. 


13.17. See Glossary.


13.18. Literally "Land of Paradise."


13.19. According to Haji Mu'inu's-Saltanih's narrative (pp. 67-8), Mirza Habib-i-Shirazi, better known by the name of Qa'ini, one of the most eminent poets of Persia, was the first to sing the praise of the Bab and to extol the loftiness of His station. A manuscript copy of Qa'ini's poems, containing these verses, was shown to the author of the narrative. The following words, he says, were written at the head of the eulogy: 'In praise of the manifestation of the Siyyid-i-Bab.' 


13.20. See note 1, page 18.


13.21. In the "Dala'il-i-Sab'ih," the Bab reveals the following: "The hadith 'Adhirbayjan' referring to this matter says: 'The things which will happen in Adhirbayjan are necessary for us, nothing can prevent their occurrence. Remain therefore in your homes, but if you hear that an agitator has appeared then hasten towards him.' And the hadith continues, saying: 'Woe to the Arabs, for the civil war is near!' If, in speaking these last words, the Prophet had intended to refer to his own mission, his statement would have been vain and worthless." ("The Book of Seven Proofs," Nicolas' translation, p. 47.)


13.22. Reference to the Prophet Muhammad.



CHAPTER XIV

MULLA HUSAYN'S JOURNEY TO MAZINDARAN


[261] 'Ali Khan cordially invited Mulla Husayn to tarry a few days in his home before his departure from Mah-Ku. He expressed a keen desire to provide every facility for his journey to Mazindaran. The latter, however, refused to delay his departure or to avail himself of the means of comfort which 'Ali Khan had so devotedly placed at his disposal.


He, faithful to the instructions he had received, stopped at every town and village that the Bab had directed him to visit, gathered the faithful, conveyed to them the love, the greetings, and the assurances of their beloved Master, quickened afresh their zeal, and exhorted them to remain steadfast in His way. In Tihran he was again privileged to enter the presence of Baha'u'llah and to receive from His hands that spiritual sustenance which enabled him, with such undaunted courage, to brave the perils that so fiercely assailed the closing days of his life.


From Tihran Mulla Husayn proceeded to Mazindaran in eager expectation of witnessing the revelation of the hidden treasure promised to him by his Master. Quddus was at that time living in Barfurush in the home which had originally belonged to his own father. He freely associated with all classes of people, and by the gentleness of his character and the wide range of his learning had won the affection and unqualified admiration of the inhabitants of that town. Upon his arrival in that city, Mulla Husayn went directly to the home of Quddus and was affectionately received by him. Quddus himself waited upon his guest, and did his utmost to provide whatever seemed necessary for his comfort. With his own hands he removed the dust, and washed the blistered skin of his feet. He offered him the seat of honour in the company of his assembled friends, and introduced, with [262] extreme reverence, each of the believers who had gathered to meet him.


On the night of his arrival, as soon as the believers who had been invited to dinner to meet Mulla Husayn had returned to their homes, the host, turning to his guest, enquired whether he would enlighten him more particularly regarding his intimate experiences with the Bab in the castle of Mah-Ku. "Many and diverse," replied Mulla Husayn, "were the things which I heard and witnessed in the course of my nine days' association with Him. He spoke to me of things relating both directly and indirectly to His Faith. He gave me, however, no definite directions as to the course I should pursue for the propagation of His Cause. All He told me was this: 'On your way to Tihran, you should visit the believers in every town and village through which you pass. From Tihran you should proceed to Mazindaran, for there lies a hidden treasure which shall be revealed to you, a treasure which will unveil to your eyes the character of the task you are destined to perform.' By His allusions I could, however dimly, perceive the glory of His Revelation and was able to discern the signs of the future ascendancy of His Cause. From His words I gathered that I should eventually be called upon to sacrifice my unworthy self in His path. For on previous occasions, whenever dismissing me from His presence, the Bab would invariably assure me that I should again be summoned to meet Him. This time, however, as He spoke to me His parting words, He gave me no such promise, nor did He allude to the possibility of my ever meeting Him again face to face in this world. 'The Feast of Sacrifice,' were His last words to me, 'is fast approaching. Arise and gird up the loin of endeavour, and let nothing detain you from achieving your destiny. Having attained your destination, prepare yourself to receive Us, for We too shall ere long follow you.'"


Quddus enquired whether he had brought with him any of his Master's writings, and, on being informed that he had none with him, presented his guest with the pages of a manuscript which he had in his possession, and requested him to read certain of its passages. As soon as he had read a page of that manuscript, his countenance underwent a [263] sudden and complete change. His features betrayed an undefinable expression of admiration and surprise. The loftiness, the profundity—above all, the penetrating influence of the words he had read, provoked intense agitation in his heart and called forth the utmost praise from his lips. Laying down the manuscript, he said: "I can well realise that the Author of these words has drawn His inspiration from that Fountainhead which stands immeasurably superior to the sources whence the learning of men is ordinarily derived. I hereby testify to my whole-hearted recognition of the sublimity of these words and to my unquestioned acceptance of the truth which they reveal." From the silence which Quddus observed, as well as from the expression which his countenance betokened, Mulla Husayn concluded that no one else except his host could have penned those words. He instantly arose from his seat and, standing with bowed head at the threshold of the door, reverently declared: "The hidden treasure of which the Bab has spoken, now lies unveiled before my eyes. Its light has dispelled the gloom of perplexity and doubt. Though my Master be now hidden amid the mountain fastnesses of Adhirbayjan, the sign of His splendour and the revelation of His might stand manifest before me. I have found in Mazindaran the reflection of His glory."


How grave, how appalling the mistake of Haji Mirza Aqasi! This foolish minister had vainly imagined that by condemning the Bab to a life of hopeless exile in a remote and sequestered corner of Adhirbayjan, he would succeed in concealing from the eyes of his countrymen that Flame of God's undying Fire. Little did he perceive that by setting up the Light of God upon a hill, he was helping to diffuse its radiance and to proclaim its glory. By his own acts, by his amazing miscalculations, instead of hiding that heavenly Flame from the eyes of men, he gave it still further prominence and helped to excite its glow. How fair, on the other hand, was Mulla Husayn, and how keen and sure his judgment! Of those who had known and seen him, none could for one moment question the erudition of this youth, his charm, his high integrity and amazing courage. Had he, after the death of Siyyid Kazim, declared himself the promised [264] Qa'im, the most distinguished among his fellow-disciples would have unanimously acknowledged his claim and submitted to his authority. Had not Mulla Muhammad-i-Mamaqani, that noted and learned disciple of Shaykh Ahmad-i-Ahsa'i, after he was made acquainted in Tabriz by Mulla Husayn with the claims of the new Revelation, declared: "I take God as my witness! Had this claim which the Siyyid-i-Bab has made been advanced by this same Mulla Husayn, I would, in view of his remarkable traits of character and breadth of knowledge, have been the first to champion his cause and to proclaim it to all people. As he, however, has chosen to subordinate himself to another person, I have ceased to have any confidence in his words and have refused to respond to his appeal." Had not Siyyid Muhammad-Baqir-i-Rashti, when he heard Mulla Husayn so ably resolve the perplexities which had long afflicted his mind, testified in such glowing terms to his high attainments: "I, who fondly imagined myself capable of confounding and silencing Siyyid Kazim-i-Rashti, realised, when I first met and conversed with him who claims to be only his humble disciple, how grievously I had erred in my judgment. Such is the strength with which this youth seems endowed that if he were to declare the day to be night, I would still believe him able to deduce such proofs as would conclusively demonstrate, in the eyes of the learned divines, the truth of his statement."


On the very night he was brought in contact with the Bab, Mulla Husayn, though at first conscious of his own infinite superiority and predisposed to belittle the claims advanced by the son of an obscure merchant of Shiraz, did not fail to perceive, as soon as his Host had begun to unfold His theme, the incalculable benefits latent in His Revelation. He eagerly embraced His Cause and disdainfully abandoned whatever might hamper his own efforts for the proper understanding and the effective promotion of its interests. And when, in due course, Mulla Husayn was given the opportunity of appreciating the transcendent sublimity of the writings of Quddus, he, with his usual sagacity and unerring judgment, was likewise able to estimate the true worth and merit of those special gifts with which both the person and the utterance [265] of Quddus were endowed. The vastness of his own acquired knowledge dwindled into insignificance before the all-encompassing, the God-given virtues which the spirit of this youth displayed. That very moment, he pledged his undying loyalty to him who so powerfully mirrored forth the radiance of his own beloved Master. He felt it to be his first obligation to subordinate himself entirely to Quddus, to follow in his footsteps, to abide by his will, and to ensure by every means in his power his welfare and safety. Until the hour of his martyrdom, Mulla Husayn remained faithful to his pledge. In the extreme deference which he henceforth showed to Quddus, he was solely actuated by a firm and unalterable conviction of the reality of those supernatural gifts which so clearly distinguished him from the rest of his fellow-disciples. No other consideration induced him to show such deference and humility in his behaviour towards one who seemed to be but his equal. Mulla Husayn's keen insight swiftly apprehended the magnitude of the power that lay latent in him, and the nobility of his character impelled him to demonstrate befittingly his recognition of that truth.


Such was the transformation wrought in the attitude of Mulla Husayn towards Quddus that the believers who gathered the next morning at his house were extremely surprised to find that the guest who the night before had occupied the seat of honour, and upon whom had been lavished such kindness and hospitality, had given his seat to his host and was now standing, in his place, at the threshold in an attitude of complete humility. The first words which, in the company of the assembled believers, Quddus addressed to Mulla Husayn were the following: "Now, at this very hour, you should arise and, armed with the rod of wisdom and of might, silence the host of evil plotters who strive to discredit the fair name of the Faith of God. You should face that multitude and confound their forces. You should place your reliance upon the grace of God, and should regard their machinations as a futile attempt to obscure the radiance of the Cause. You should interview the Sa'idu'l-'Ulama', that notorious and false-hearted tyrant, and should fearlessly disclose to his eyes the distinguishing features of this Revelation. From thence you should proceed to Khurasan. In the town [266] of Mashhad, you should build a house so designed as both to serve for our private residence and at the same time afford adequate facilities for the reception of our guests. Thither we shall shortly journey, and in that house we shall dwell. To it you shall invite every receptive soul who we hope may be guided to the River of everlasting life. We shall prepare and admonish them to band themselves together and proclaim the Cause of God."


Mulla Husayn set out the next day at the hour of sunrise to interview the Sa'idu'l-'Ulama'. Alone and unaided, he sought his presence and conveyed to him, as bidden by Quddus, the Message of the new Day. With fearlessness and eloquence, he pleaded, in the midst of the assembled disciples, the Cause of his beloved Master, called upon him to demolish those idols which his own idle fancy had carved and to plant upon their shattered fragments the standard of Divine guidance. He appealed to him to disentangle his mind from the fettering creeds of the past, and to hasten, free and untrammelled, to the shores of eternal salvation. With characteristic vigour, he defeated every argument with which that specious sorcerer sought to refute the truth of the Divine Message, and exposed, by means of his unanswerable logic, the fallacies of every doctrine that he endeavoured to propound. Assailed by the fear lest the congregation of his disciples should unanimously rally round the person of Mulla Husayn, the Sa'idu'l-'Ulama' had recourse to the meanest of devices, and indulged in the most abusive language in the hope of safeguarding the integrity of his position. He hurled his calumnies into the face of Mulla Husayn, and, contemptuously ignoring the proofs and testimonies adduced by his opponent, confidently asserted, without the least justification on his part, the futility of the Cause he had been summoned to embrace. No sooner had Mulla Husayn realised his utter incapacity to apprehend the significance of the Message he had brought him than he arose from his seat and said: "My argument has failed to rouse you from your sleep of negligence. My deeds will in the days to come prove to you the power of the Message you have chosen to despise." He spoke with such vehemence and emotion that the Sa'idu'l-'Ulama' was utterly confounded. [267] Such was the consternation of his soul that he was unable to reply. Mulla Husayn then turned to a member of that audience who seemed to have felt the influence of his words, and charged him to relate to Quddus the circumstances of this interview. "Say to him," he added: "'Inasmuch as you did not specifically command me to seek your presence, I have determined to set out immediately for Khurasan. I proceed to carry out in their entirety those things which you have instructed me to perform.'"


Alone and with a heart wholly detached from all else but God, Mulla Husayn set out on his journey to Mashhad. His only companion, as he trod his way to Khurasan, was the thought of accomplishing faithfully the wishes of Quddus, and his one sustenance the consciousness of his unfailing promise. He went directly to the home of Mirza Muhammad-Baqir-i-Qa'ini, and was soon able to buy, in the neighbourhood of that house in Bala-Khiyaban, a tract of land on which he began to erect the house which he had been commanded to build, and to which he gave the name of Babiyyih, a name that it bears to the present day. Shortly after it was completed, Quddus arrived at Mashhad and abode in that house. A steady stream of visitors, whom the energy and zeal of Mulla Husayn had prepared for the acceptance of the Faith, poured into the presence of Quddus, acknowledged the claim of the Cause, and willingly enlisted under its banner. The all-observing vigilance with which Mulla Husayn laboured to diffuse the knowledge of the new Revelation, and the masterly manner in which Quddus edified its ever-increasing adherents, gave rise to a wave of enthusiasm which swept over the entire city of Mashhad, and the effects of which spread rapidly beyond the confines of Khurasan. The house of Babiyyih was soon converted into a rallying centre for a multitude of devotees who were fired with an inflexible resolve to demonstrate, by every means in their power, the great inherent energies of their Faith.



CHAPTER XV

TAHIRIH'S JOURNEY FROM KARBILA TO KHURASAN


[268] As the appointed hour approached when, according to the dispensations of Providence, the veil which still concealed the fundamental verities of the Faith was to be rent asunder, there blazed forth in the heart of Khurasan a flame of such consuming intensity that the most formidable obstacles standing in the way of the ultimate recognition of the Cause melted away and vanished.1 That fire caused such a conflagration in the hearts of men that the effects of its quickening power were felt in the most outlying provinces of Persia. It obliterated every trace of the misgivings and doubts which had still lingered in the hearts of the believers, and had hitherto hindered them from apprehending the full measure of its glory. The decree of the enemy had condemned to perpetual isolation Him who was the embodiment of the beauty of God, and sought thereby to quench for all time the flame of His love. The hand of Omnipotence, however, was busily engaged, at a time when the host of evil-doers were darkly plotting against Him, in confounding their schemes and in nullifying their efforts. In the easternmost province of Persia, the Almighty had, through the hand of Quddus, lit a fire that glowed with the hottest flame in the breasts of the people of Khurasan. And in Karbila, beyond the western confines of that land, He had kindled the light of Tahirih, a light that was destined to shed its radiance upon the whole of Persia. From the east [269] and from the west of that country, the voice of the Unseen summoned those twin great lights to hasten to the land of Ta,2 the day-spring of glory, the home of Baha'u'llah. He bade them each seek the presence, and revolve round the person of that Day-Star of Truth, to seek His advice, to reinforce His efforts, and to prepare the way for His coming Revelation.


In pursuance of the Divine decree, in the days when Quddus was still residing in Mashhad, there was revealed from the pen of the Bab a Tablet addressed to all the believers of Persia, in which every loyal adherent of the Faith was enjoined to "hasten to the Land of Kha," the province of Khurasan.3 The news of this high injunction spread with marvellous rapidity and aroused universal enthusiasm. It reached the ears of Tahirih, who, at that time, was residing in Karbila and was bending every effort to extend the scope of the Faith she had espoused.4 She had left her native town of Qazvin and had arrived, after the death of Siyyid Kazim, at that holy city, in eager expectation of witnessing the signs which the departed siyyid had foretold. In the foregoing pages we have seen how instinctively she had been led to discover the Revelation of the Bab and how spontaneously she had acknowledged its truth. Unwarned and uninvited, she perceived the dawning light of the promised Revelation breaking upon the city of Shiraz, and was prompted to pen her message and plead her fidelity to Him who was the Revealer of that light.


The Bab's immediate response to her declaration of faith which, without attaining His presence, she was moved to make, animated her zeal and vastly increased her courage. She arose to spread abroad His teachings, vehemently denounced the corruption and perversity of her generation, and fearlessly advocated a fundamental revolution in the habits [270] and manners of her people.5 Her indomitable spirit was quickened by the fire of her love for the Bab, and the glory of her vision was further enhanced by the discovery of the inestimable blessings latent in His Revelation. The innate fearlessness and the strength of her character were reinforced a hundredfold by her immovable conviction of the ultimate victory of the Cause she had embraced; and her boundless energy was revitalised by her recognition of the abiding value of the Mission she had risen to champion. All who met her in Karbila were ensnared by her bewitching eloquence and felt the fascination of her words. None could resist her charm; few could escape the contagion of her belief. All testified to the extraordinary traits of her character, marvelled at her amazing personality, and were convinced of the sincerity of her convictions.


She was able to win to the Cause the revered widow of Siyyid Kazim, who was born in Shiraz, and was the first among the women of Karbila to recognise its truth. I have heard Shaykh Sultan describe her extreme devotion to Tahirih, whom she revered as her spiritual guide and esteemed as her affectionate companion. He was also a fervent admirer of the character of the widow of the Siyyid, to whose gentleness of manner he often paid a glowing tribute. "Such was her attachment to Tahirih," Shaykh Sultan was often heard to remark, "that she was extremely reluctant to allow that heroine who was a guest in her house to absent herself, though it were for an hour, from her presence. So great an attachment on her part did not fail to excite the curiosity and quicken the faith of her women friends, both Persian and Arab, who were constant visitors in her home. In the first year of her acceptance of the Message, she suddenly [271] fell ill, and after the lapse of three days, as had been the case with Siyyid Kazim, she departed this life."


Among the men who in Karbila eagerly embraced, through the efforts of Tahirih, the Cause of the Bab, was a certain Shaykh Salih, an Arab resident of that city who was the first to shed his blood in the path of the Faith, in Tihran. She was so profuse in her praise of Shaykh Salih that a few suspected him of being equal in rank to Quddus. Shaykh Sultan was also among those who fell under the spell of Tahirih. On his return from Shiraz, he identified himself with the Faith, boldly and assiduously promoted its interests, and did his utmost to execute her instructions and wishes. Another admirer was Shaykh Muhammad-i-Shibl, the father of Muhammad-Mustafa, an Arab native of Baghdad who ranked high among the ulamas of that city. By the aid of this chosen band of staunch and able supporters, Tahirih was able to fire the imagination and to enlist the allegiance of a considerable number of the Persian and Arab inhabitants of Iraq, most of whom were led by her to join forces with those of their brethren in Persia who were soon to be called upon to shape by their deeds the destiny, and to seal with their life-blood the triumph, of the Cause of God.


The Bab's appeal, which was originally addressed to His followers in Persia, was soon transmitted to the adherents of His Faith in Iraq. Tahirih gloriously responded. Her example was followed immediately by a large number of her faithful admirers, all of whom expressed their readiness to journey forthwith to Khurasan. The ulamas of Karbila sought to dissuade her from undertaking that journey. Perceiving immediately the motive which prompted them to tender her such advice, and aware of their malignant design, she addressed to each of these sophists a lengthy epistle in which she set forth her motives and exposed their dissimulation.6 


[272] From Karbila she proceeded to Baghdad.7 A representative delegation, consisting of the ablest leaders among the shi'ah, the sunni, the Christian and Jewish communities of that city, sought her presence and endeavoured to convince her of the folly of her actions. She was able, however, to silence their protestations, and astounded them with the force of her argument. Disillusioned and confused, they retired, deeply conscious of their own impotence.8


The ulamas of Kirmanshah respectfully received her and presented her with various tokens of their esteem and admiration.9 In Hamadan,10 however, the ecclesiastical leaders [273] of the city were divided in their attitude towards her. A few sought privily to provoke the people and undermine her prestige; others were moved to extol openly her virtues and applaud her courage. "It behoves us," these friends declared from their pulpits, "to follow her noble example and reverently to ask her to unravel for us the mysteries of the Qur'an and to resolve the intricacies of the holy Book. For our highest attainments are but a drop compared to the immensity of her knowledge." While in Hamadan, Tahirih was met by those whom her father, Haji Mulla Salih, had sent from Qazvin to welcome and urge her, on his behalf, to visit her native town and prolong her stay in their midst.11 She reluctantly consented. Ere she departed, she bade those who had accompanied her from Iraq to proceed to their native land. Among them were Shaykh Sultan, Shaykh Muhammad-i-Shibl and his youthful son, Muhammad-Mustafa, 'Abid and his son Nasir, who subsequently was given the name of Haji 'Abbas. Those of her companions who had been living in Persia, such as Siyyid Muhammad-i-Gulpayigani, whose pen-name was Ta'ir, and whom Tahirih had styled Fata'l-Malih, and others were also bidden to return to their homes. Only two of her companions remained with her—Shaykh Salih and Mulla Ibrahim-i-Gulpayigani, both of whom quaffed the cup of martyrdom, the first in Tihran and the other in Qazvin. Of her own kinsmen, Mirza Muhammad-'Ali, one of the Letters of the Living and her brother-in-law, and Siyyid 'Abdu'l-Hadi, who had been betrothed to her daughter, travelled with her all the way from Karbila to Qazvin.


On her arrival at the house of her father, her cousin, the haughty and false-hearted Mulla Muhammad, son of Mulla Taqi, who esteemed himself, next to his father and his uncle, the most accomplished of all the mujtahids of Persia, sent certain ladies of his own household to persuade Tahirih to transfer her residence from her father's house to his own. "Say to my presumptuous and arrogant kinsman," was her bold reply to the messengers: "'If your desire had really been to be a faithful mate and companion to me, you would have hastened to meet me in Karbila and would on foot have 



[275] guided my howdah12 all the way to Qazvin. I would, while journeying with you, have aroused you from your sleep of heedlessness and would have shown you the way of truth. But this was not to be. Three years have elapsed since our separation. Neither in this world nor in the next can I ever be associated with you. I have cast you out of my life for ever.'"


So stern and unyielding a reply roused both Mulla Muhammad and his father to a burst of fury. They immediately pronounced her a heretic, and strove day and night to undermine her position and to sully her fame. Tahirih vehemently defended herself and persisted in exposing the depravity of their character.13 Her father, a peace-loving and fair-minded [276] man, deplored this acrimonious dispute and endeavoured to bring about a reconciliation and harmony between them, but failed in his efforts.


This state of tension continued until the time when a certain Mulla 'Abdu'llah, a native of Shiraz and fervent admirer of both Shaykh Ahmad and Siyyid Kazim, arrived in Qazvin at the beginning of the month of Ramadan, in the year 1263 A.H.14 Subsequently, in the course of his trial in Tihran, in the presence of the Sahib-Divan, this same Mulla 'Abdu'llah recounted the following: "I have never been a convinced Babi. When I arrived at Qazvin, I was on my way to Mah-Ku, intending to visit the Bab and investigate the nature of His Cause. On the day of my arrival at Qazvin, I became aware that the town was in a great state of turmoil. As I was passing through the market-place, I saw a crowd of ruffians who had stripped a man of his head-dress and shoes, had wound his turban around his neck, and by it were dragging him through the streets. An angry multitude was tormenting him with their threats, their blows and curses. 'His unpardonable guilt,' I was told in answer to my enquiry, 'is that he has dared to extol in public the virtues of Shaykh Ahmad and Siyyid Kazim. Accordingly, Haji Mulla Taqi, the Hujjatu'l-Islam, has pronounced him a heretic and decreed his expulsion from the town.'


"I was amazed at the explanation given me. How could a shaykhi, I thought to myself, be regarded as a heretic and be deemed worthy of such cruel treatment? Desirous of ascertaining from Mulla Taqi himself the truth of this report, I betook myself to his school and asked whether he had actually pronounced such a condemnation against him. 'Yes,' he bluntly replied, 'the god whom the late Shaykh Ahmad-i-Bahrayni worshipped is a god in whom I can never believe. Him as well as his followers I regard as the very embodiments of error.' I was moved that very moment to smite his face in the presence of his assembled disciples. I restrained myself, however, and vowed that, God willing, I would pierce his lips with my spear so that he would never be again able to utter such blasphemy.


"I straightway left his presence and directed my steps [277] towards the market, where I bought a dagger and a spear-head of the sharpest and finest steel. I concealed them in my bosom, ready to gratify the passion that burned within me. I was waiting for my opportunity when, one night, I entered the masjid in which he was wont to lead the congregation in prayer. I waited until the hour of dawn, at which time I saw an old woman enter the masjid, carrying with her a rug, which she spread over the floor of the mihrab.15 Soon after, I saw Mulla Taqi enter alone, walk to the mihrab, and offer his prayer. Cautiously and quietly, I followed him and stood behind him. He was prostrating himself on the floor, when I rushed upon him, drew out my spear-head, and plunged it into the back of his neck. He uttered a loud cry. I threw him on his back and, unsheathing my dagger, drove it hilt-deep into his mouth. With the same dagger, I struck him at several places in his breast and side, and left him bleeding in the mihrab.


"I ascended immediately the roof of the masjid and watched the frenzy and agitation of the multitude. A crowd rushed in and, placing him upon a litter, transported him to his house. Unable to identify the murderer, the people seized the occasion to gratify their basest instincts. They rushed at one another's throats, violently attacked and mutually accused one another in the presence of the governor. Finding out that a large number of innocent people had been gravely molested and thrown into prison, I was impelled by the voice of my conscience to confess my act. I accordingly besought the presence of the governor and said to him: 'If I deliver into your hands the author of this murder, will you promise me to set free all the innocent people who are suffering in his place?' No sooner had I obtained from him the necessary assurance than I confessed to him that I had committed the deed. He was not disposed at first to believe me. At my request, he summoned the old woman who had spread the rug in the mihrab, but refused to be convinced by the evidence which she gave. I was finally conducted to the bedside of Mulla Taqi, who was on the point of death. As soon as he saw me, he recognised my features. In his agitation, he pointed with his finger to [278] me, indicating that I had attacked him. He signified his desire that I be taken away from his presence. Shortly after, he expired. I was immediately arrested, was convicted of murder, and thrown into prison. The governor, however, failed to keep his promise and refused to release the prisoners."


The candour and sincerity of Mulla 'Abdu'llah greatly pleased the Sahib-Divan. He gave secret orders to his attendants to enable him to escape from prison. At the hour of midnight, the prisoner took refuge in the home of Rida Khan-i-Sardar, who had recently been married to the sister of the Sipah-Salar, and remained concealed in that house until the great struggle of Shaykh Tabarsi, when he determined to throw in his lot with the heroic defenders of the fort. He, as well as Rida Khan, who followed him to Mazindaran, quaffed eventually the cup of martyrdom.


The circumstances of the murder fanned to fury the wrath of the lawful heirs of Mulla Taqi, who now determined to wreak their vengeance upon Tahirih. They succeeded in having her placed in the strictest confinement in the house of her father, and charged those women whom they had selected to watch over her, not to allow their captive to leave her room except for the purpose of performing her daily ablutions. They accused her of really being the instigator of the crime. "No one else but you," they asserted, "is guilty of the murder of our father. You issued the order for his assassination." Those whom they had arrested and confined were conducted by them to Tihran and were incarcerated in the home of one of the kad-khudas16 of the capital. The friends and heirs of Mulla Taqi scattered themselves in all directions, denouncing their captives as the repudiators of the law of Islam and demanding that they be immediately put to death.


Baha'u'llah, who was at that time residing in Tihran, was informed of the plight of these prisoners who had been the companions and supporters of Tahirih. As He was already acquainted with the kad-khuda in whose home they were incarcerated, He decided to visit them and intervene in their behalf. That avaricious and deceitful official, who was fully aware of the extreme generosity of Baha'u'llah, greatly exaggerated, [279] in the hope of deriving a substantial pecuniary advantage for himself, the misfortune that had befallen the unhappy captives. "They are destitute of the barest necessities of life," urged the kad-khuda. "They hunger for food, and their clothing is wretchedly scanty." Baha'u'llah extended immediate financial assistance for their relief, and urged the kad-khuda to relax the severity of the rule under which they were confined. The latter consented to relieve a few who were unable to support the oppressive weight of their chains, and for the rest did whatever he could to alleviate the rigour of their confinement. Prompted by greed, he informed his superiors of the situation, and emphasised the fact that both food and money were being regularly supplied by Baha'u'llah for those who were imprisoned in his house.


These officials were in their turn tempted to derive every possible advantage from the liberality of Baha'u'llah. They summoned Him to their presence, protested against His action, and accused Him of complicity in the act for which the captives had been condemned. "The kad-khuda," replied Baha'u'llah, "pleaded their cause before Me and enlarged upon their sufferings and needs. He himself bore witness to their innocence and appealed to Me for help. In return for the aid which, in response to his invitation, I was impelled to extend, you now charge Me with a crime of which I am innocent." Hoping to intimidate Baha'u'llah by threatening immediate punishment, they refused to allow Him to return to His home. The confinement to which He was subjected was the first affliction that befell Baha'u'llah in the path of the Cause of God; the first imprisonment He suffered for the sake of His loved ones. He remained in captivity for a few days, until Ja'far-Quli Khan, the brother of Mirza Aqa Khan-i-Nuri, who at a later time was appointed Grand Vazir of the Shah, and a number of other friends intervened in His behalf and, threatening the kad-khuda in severe language, were able to effect His release. Those who had been responsible for His confinement had confidently hoped to receive, in return for His deliverance, the sum of one thousand tumans,17 but they soon found out that they were forced to comply with the wishes of Ja'far-Quli Khan without [280] the hope of receiving, either from him or from Baha'u'llah, the slightest reward. With profuse apologies and with the utmost regret, they surrendered their Captive into his hands.


The heirs of Mulla Taqi were in the meantime bending every effort to avenge the blood of their distinguished kinsman. Unsatisfied with what they had already accomplished, they directed their appeal to Muhammad Shah himself, and endeavoured to win his sympathy to their cause. The Shah is reported to have returned this answer: "Your father, Mulla Taqi, surely could not have claimed to be superior to the Imam 'Ali, the Commander of the Faithful. Did not the latter instruct his disciples that, should he fall a victim to the sword of Ibn-i-Muljam, the murderer alone should, by his death, be made to atone for his act, that no one else but he should be put to death? Why should not the murder of your father be similarly avenged? Declare to me his murderer, and I will issue my orders that he be delivered into your hands in order that you may inflict upon him the punishment which he deserves."


The uncompromising attitude of the Shah induced them to abandon the hopes which they had cherished. They declared Shaykh Salih to be the murderer of their father, obtained his arrest, and ignominiously put him to death. He was the first to shed his blood on Persian soil in the path of the Cause of God; the first of that glorious company destined to seal with their life-blood the triumph of God's holy Faith. As he was being conducted to the scene of his martyrdom, his face glowed with zeal and joy. He hastened to the foot of the gallows and met his executioner as if he were welcoming a dear and lifelong friend. Words of triumph and hope fell unceasingly from his lips. "I discarded," he cried, with exultation, as his end approached, "the hopes and the beliefs of men from the moment I recognised Thee, Thou who art my Hope and my Belief!" His remains were interred in the courtyard of the shrine of the Imam-Zadih Zayd in Tihran.


The unsatiable hatred that animated those who had been responsible for the martyrdom of Shaykh Salih impelled them to seek additional instruments for the furtherance of their designs. Haji Mirza Aqasi, whom the Sahib-Divan had succeeded in convincing of the treacherous conduct of the heirs [281] of Mulla Taqi, refused to entertain their appeal. Undeterred by his refusal, they submitted their case to the Sadr-i-Ardibili, a man notoriously presumptuous and one of the most arrogant among the ecclesiastical leaders of Persia. "Behold," they pleaded, "the indignity that has been inflicted upon those whose supreme function it is to keep guard over the integrity of the Law. How can you, who are its chief and illustrious exponent, allow so grave an affront to its dignity to remain unpunished? Are you really incapable of avenging the blood of that slaughtered minister of the Prophet of God? Do you not realise that to tolerate such a heinous crime would in itself unloose a flood of calumny against those who are the chief repositories of the teachings and principles of our Faith? Will not your silence embolden the enemies of Islam to shatter the structure which your own hands have reared? As a result, will not your own life be endangered?"


The Sadr-i-Ardibili was sore afraid, and in his impotence sought to beguile his sovereign. He addressed the following request to Muhammad Shah: "I would humbly implore your Majesty to allow the captives to accompany the heirs of that martyred leader on their return to Qazvin, that these may, of their own accord, forgive them publicly their action, and enable them to recover their freedom. Such a gesture on their part will considerably enhance their position and will win them the esteem of their countrymen." The Shah, wholly unaware of the mischievous designs of that crafty plotter, immediately granted his request, on the express condition that a written statement be sent to him from Qazvin assuring him that the condition of the prisoners after their freedom was entirely satisfactory, and that no harm was likely to befall them in the future.


No sooner were the captives delivered into the hands of the mischief-makers than they set about gratifying their feelings of implacable hatred towards them. On the first night after they had been handed over to their enemies, Haji Asadu'llah, the brother of Haji Allah-Vardi and paternal uncle of Muhammad-Hadi and Muhammad-Javad-i-Farhadi, a noted merchant of Qazvin who had acquired a reputation for piety and uprightness which stood as high as that of his illustrious brother, was mercilessly put to death. Knowing [282] full well that in his own native town they would be unable to inflict upon him the punishment they desired, they determined to take his life whilst in Tihran in a manner that would protect them from the suspicion of murder. At the hour of midnight, they perpetrated the shameful act, and, the next morning, announced that illness had been the cause of his death. His friends and acquaintances, mostly natives of Qazvin, none of whom had been able to detect the crime that had extinguished such a noble life, accorded him a burial that befitted his station.


The rest of his companions, among whom were Mulla Tahir-i-Shirazi and Mulla Ibrahim-i-Mahallati, both of whom were greatly esteemed for their learning and character, were savagely put to death immediately after their arrival at Qazvin. The entire population, which had been sedulously instigated beforehand, clamoured for their immediate execution. A band of shameless scoundrels, armed with knives, swords, spears, and axes, fell upon them and tore them to pieces. They mutilated their bodies with such wanton barbarity that no fragment of their scattered members could be found for burial.


Gracious God! Acts of such incredible savagery have been perpetrated in a town like Qazvin, which prides itself on the fact that no less than a hundred of the highest ecclesiastical leaders of Islam dwell within its gates, and yet none could be found among all its inhabitants to raise his voice in protest against such revolting murders! No one seemed to question their right to perpetrate such iniquitous and shameless deeds. No one seemed to be aware of the utter incompatibility between such ferocious deeds committed by those who claimed to be the sole repositories of the mysteries of Islam, and the exemplary conduct of those who first manifested its light to the world. No one was moved to exclaim indignantly: "O evil and perverse generation! To what depths of infamy and shame you have sunk! Have not the abominations which you have wrought surpassed in their ruthlessness the acts of the basest of men? Will you not recognise that neither the beasts of the field nor any moving thing on earth has ever equalled the ferociousness of your acts? How long is your heedlessness to last? Is it not your [283] belief that the efficacy of every congregational prayer is dependent upon the integrity of him who leads that prayer? Have you not again and again declared that no such prayer is acceptable in the sight of God until and unless the imam who leads the congregation has purged his heart from every trace of malice? And yet you deem those who instigate and share in the performance of such atrocities to be the true leaders of your Faith, the very embodiments of fairness and justice. Have you not committed to their hands the reins of your Cause and regarded them as the masters of your destinies?"


The news of this outrage reached Tihran and spread with bewildering rapidity throughout the city. Haji Mirza Aqasi vehemently protested. "In what passage of the Qur'an," he is reported to have exclaimed, "in which tradition of Muhammad, has the massacre of a number of people been justified in order to avenge the murder of a single person?" Muhammad Shah also expressed his strong disapproval of the treacherous conduct of the Sadr-i-Ardibili and his confederates. He denounced his cowardice, banished him from the capital, and condemned him to a life of obscurity in Qum. His degradation from office pleased immensely the Grand Vazir, who had hitherto laboured in vain to bring about his downfall, and whom his sudden removal from Tihran relieved of the apprehensions which the extension of his authority had inspired. His own denunciation of the massacre of Qazvin was prompted, not so much by his sympathy with the Cause of the defenceless victims, as by his hope of involving the Sadr-i-Ardibili in such embarrassments as would inevitably disgrace him in the eyes of his sovereign.


The failure of the Shah and of his government to inflict immediate punishment upon the malefactors encouraged them to seek further means for the gratification of their relentless hatred towards their opponents. They now directed their attention to Tahirih herself, and resolved that she should suffer at their hands the same fate that had befallen her companions. While still in confinement, Tahirih, as soon as she was informed of the designs of her enemies, addressed the following message to Mulla Muhammad, who had succeeded to the position of his father and was now recognised [284] as the Imam-Jum'ih of Qazvin: "'Fain would they put out God's light with their mouths: but God only desireth to perfect His light, albeit the infidels abhor it.'18 If my Cause be the Cause of Truth, if the Lord whom I worship be none other than the one true God, He will, ere nine days have elapsed, deliver me from the yoke of your tyranny. Should He fail to achieve my deliverance, you are free to act as you desire. You will have irrevocably established the falsity of my belief." Mulla Muhammad, recognising his inability to accept so bold a challenge, chose to ignore entirely her message, and sought by every cunning device to accomplish his purpose.


In those days, ere the hour which Tahirih had fixed for her deliverance had struck, Baha'u'llah signified His wish that she should be delivered from her captivity and brought to Tihran. He determined to establish, in the eyes of the adversary, the truth of her words, and to frustrate the schemes which her enemies had conceived for her death. Muhammad-Hadiy-i-Farhadi was accordingly summoned by Him and was entrusted with the task of effecting her immediate transference to His own home in Tihran. Muhammad-Hadi was charged to deliver a sealed letter to his wife, Khatun-Jan, and instruct her to proceed, in the guise of a beggar, to the house where Tahirih was confined; to deliver the letter into her hands; to wait awhile at the entrance of her house, until she should join her, and then to hasten with her and commit her to his care. "As soon as Tahirih has joined you," Baha'u'llah urged the emissary, "start immediately for Tihran. This very night, I shall despatch to the neighbourhood of the gate of Qazvin an attendant, with three horses, that you will take with you and station at a place that you will appoint outside the walls of Qazvin. You will conduct Tahirih to that spot, will mount the horses, and will, by an unfrequented route, endeavour to reach at daybreak the outskirts of the capital. As soon as the gates are opened, you must enter the city and proceed immediately to My house. You should exercise the utmost caution lest her identity be disclosed. The Almighty will assuredly guide your steps and will surround you with His unfailing protection." 


[285] Fortified by the assurance of Baha'u'llah, Muhammad-Hadi set out immediately to carry out the instructions he had received. Unhampered by any obstacle, he, ably and faithfully, acquitted himself of his task, and was able to conduct Tahirih safely, at the appointed hour, to the home of his Master. Her sudden and mysterious removal from Qazvin filled her friends and foes alike with consternation. The whole night, they searched the houses and were baffled in their efforts to find her. The fulfilment of the prediction she had uttered astounded even the most sceptical among her opponents. A few were made to realise the supernatural character of the Faith she had espoused, and submitted willingly to its claims. Mirza 'Abdu'l-Vahhab, her own brother, acknowledged, that very day, the truth of the Revelation, but failed to demonstrate subsequently by his acts the sincerity of his belief.19


The hour which Tahirih had fixed for her deliverance found her already securely established under the sheltering shadow of Baha'u'llah. She knew full well into whose presence she had been admitted; she was profoundly aware of the sacredness of the hospitality she had been so graciously accorded.20 As it was with her acceptance of the Faith proclaimed by the Bab when she, unwarned and unsummoned, had hailed His Message and recognised its truth, so did she perceive through her own intuitive knowledge the future glory of Baha'u'llah. It was in the year '60, while in Karbila, that she alluded in her odes to her recognition of the Truth He was to reveal. I have myself been shown in Tihran, in the [286] home of Siyyid Muhammad, whom Tahirih had styled Fata'l-Malih, the verses which she, in her own handwriting, had penned, every letter of which bore eloquent testimony to her faith in the exalted Missions of both the Bab and Baha'u'llah. In that ode the following verse occurs: "The effulgence of the Abha Beauty hath pierced the veil of night; behold the souls of His lovers dancing, moth-like, in the light that has flashed from His face!" It was her steadfast conviction in the unconquerable power of Baha'u'llah that prompted her to utter her prediction with such confidence, and to fling her challenge so boldly in the face of her enemies. Nothing short of an immovable faith in the unfailing efficacy of that power could have induced her, in the darkest hours of her captivity, to assert with such courage and assurance the approach of her victory.


A few days after Tahirih's arrival at Tihran, Baha'u'llah decided to send her to Khurasan in the company of the believers who were preparing to depart for that province. He too had determined to leave the capital and take the same direction a few days later. He accordingly summoned Aqay-i-Kalim and instructed him to take immediately the necessary measures to ensure the removal of Tahirih, together with her woman attendant, Qanitih, to a place outside the gate of the capital, from whence they were, later on, to proceed to Khurasan. He cautioned him to exercise the utmost care and vigilance lest the guards who were stationed at the entrance of the city, and who had been ordered to refuse the passage of women through the gates without a permit, should discover her identity and prevent her departure.


I have heard Aqay-i-Kalim recount the following: "Putting our trust in God, we rode out, Tahirih, her attendant, and I, to a place in the vicinity of the capital. None of the guards who were stationed at the gate of Shimiran raised the slightest objection, nor did they enquire regarding our destination. At a distance of two farsangs21 from the capital, we alighted in the midst of an orchard abundantly watered and situated at the foot of a mountain, in the centre of which was a house that seemed completely deserted. As I went about in search of the proprietor, I chanced to meet an old [287] man who was watering his plants. In answer to my enquiry, he explained that a dispute had arisen between the owner and his tenants, as a result of which those who occupied the place had deserted it. 'I have been asked by the owner,' he added, 'to keep guard over this property until the settlement of the dispute.' I was greatly delighted with the information he gave me, and asked him to share with us our luncheon. When, later in the day, I decided to depart for Tihran, I found him willing to watch over and guard Tahirih and her attendant. As I committed them to his care, I assured him that I would either myself return that evening or send a trusted attendant whom I would follow the next morning with all the necessary requirements for the journey to Khurasan.


"Upon my arrival at Tihran, I despatched Mulla Baqir, one of the Letters of the Living, together with an attendant, to join Tahirih. I informed Baha'u'llah of her safe departure from the capital. He was greatly pleased at the information I gave Him, and named that orchard 'Bagh-i-Jannat.'22 'That house,' He remarked, 'has been providentially prepared for your reception, that you may entertain in it the loved ones of God.'


"Tahirih tarried seven days in that spot, after which she set out, accompanied by Muhammad-Hasan-i-Qazvini, surnamed Fata, and a few others, in the direction of Khurasan. I was commanded by Baha'u'llah to arrange for her departure and to provide whatever might be required for her journey." 


FOOTNOTES


15.1. "It will surprise no one to learn," writes Clement Huart, "that the new sect spread more rapidly in Khurasan than it had anywhere else. Khurasan has been singularly fortunate in that she has always offered to new ideas the most propitious field. It is out of this province that came many evolutions which caused fundamental changes in the Muhammadan Orient. It is enough to recall that in Khurasan the idea of the Persian renovation originated after the Arabian conquest. It was there likewise that the army was organized which, under the orders of Abu-Muslim placed the Abbassides upon the throne of the Khalifs by overthrowing the aristocracy of Mecca which had occupied it since the accession of the Umayyads." ("La Religion de Bab," pp. 18-19.)


15.2. Tihran. 


15.3. "It is believed," writes Lieut.-Col. P. M. Sykes, "that the twelfth Imam never died, but in A.H. 260 (873) disappeared into miraculous concealment, from which he will reappear on the Day of Judgment in the mosque of Gawhar-Shad at Mashhad, to be hailed as the Mihdi or 'Guide' and to fill the earth with justice." ("A History of Persia," vol. 2, p. 45.) 


15.4. According to Muhammad Mustafa (p. 108), Tahirih arrived in Karbila in the year 1263 A.H. She visited Kufih and the surrounding district, and was engaged in spreading the teachings of the Bab. She shared with the people whom she met the writings of her Master, among which was His commentary on the Surih of Kawthar.


15.5. "It was in her own family that she heard, for the first time, of the preaching of the Bab at Shiraz and learned the meaning of his doctrines. This knowledge, even incomplete and imperfect as it was, pleased her extremely; she began to correspond with the Bab and soon espoused all his ideas. She did not content herself with a passive sympathy but confessed openly the faith of her Master. She denounced not only polygamy but the use of the veil and showed her face uncovered in public to the great amazement and scandal of her family and of all the sincere Mussulmans but to the applause of many other fellow citizens who shared her enthusiasm and whose numbers grew as a result of her preaching. Her uncle the doctor, her father the jurist, and her husband tried in every way to bring her back at least to a conduct more calm and more reserved. She rebuffed them with arguments inspired by a faith incapable of placid resignation." (Comte de Gobineau's "Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale," pp. 137-138.)


15.6. According to Samandar (manuscript, p. 9), the main reason for the agitation of the people of Karbila which induced them to accuse Tahirih before the governor of Baghdad was her bold action in disregarding the anniversary of the martyrdom of Husayn which was being commemorated in the early days of the month of Muharram in the house of the late Siyyid Kazim in Karbila, and in celebrating instead the anniversary of the birthday of the Bab, which fell on the first day of that month. She is reported to have asked her sister and relatives to discard their mourning garb and wear instead gay attire, in open defiance of the customs and traditions of the people on that occasion.


15.7. According to Muhammad Mustafa (pp. 108-9), the following disciples and companions were with Tahirih when she arrived in Baghdad: Mulla Ibrahim-i-Mahallati, Shaykh Salih-i-Karimi, Siyyid Ahmad-i-Yazdi (father of Siyyid Husayn, the amanuensis of the Bab) Siyyid Muhammad-i-Bayigani, Shaykh Sultan-i-Karbila'i, the mother of Mulla Husayn and her daughter, the wife of Mirza Hadiy-i-Nahri and his mother. According to the "Kashfu'l-Ghita'" (p. 94), the mother and sister of Mulla Husayn were among the ladies and disciples who accompanied Tahirih on her journey from Karbila to Baghdad. On their arrival, they took up their quarters in the house of Shaykh Muhammad-ibn-i-Shiblu'l-'Araqi, after which they were transferred, by order of the governor of Baghdad, to the house of the Mufti, Siyyid Mahmud-i-Alusi, the well-known author of the celebrated commentary entitled "Ruhu'l-Ma'ani," pending the receipt of fresh instructions from the Sultan in Constantinople. The "Kashfu'l-Ghita'" further adds (p. 96) that in the "Ruhu'l-Ma'ani" references are reported to have been found to the conversations which the Mufti had had with Tahirih, to whom, it is reported, he addressed these words: "O Qurratu'l-'Ayn! I swear by God that I share in thy belief. I am apprehensive, however, of the swords of the family of 'Uthman." "She proceeded directly to the house of the chief Mufti, before whom she defended her creed and her conduct with great ability. The question whether she should be allowed to continue her teaching was submitted first to the Pasha of Baghdad and then to the central government, the result being that she was ordered to leave Turkish territory." ("A Traveller's Narrative," Note Q, p. 310.) 


15.8. According to Muhammad Mustafa (p. 111), the following accompanied Tahirih from Khaniqin (on the Persian frontier) to Kirmanshah: Shaykh Salih-i-Karimi, Shaykh Muhammad-i-Shibl, Shaykh Sultan-i-Karbila'i, Siyyid Ahmad-i-Yazdi, Siyyid Muhammad-i-Bayigani, Siyyid Muhsin-i-Kazimi, Mulla Ibrahim-i-Mahallati, and about thirty Arab believers. They tarried three days in the village of Karand, where Tahirih fearlessly proclaimed the teachings of the Bab and was highly successful in awakening the interest of all classes of people in the new Revelation. Twelve hundred persons are reported to have volunteered to follow her and do her bidding. 


15.9. According to Muhammad Mustafa (p. 112), an enthusiastic reception was accorded her on her arrival in Kirmanshah. Princes, ulamas, and government officials hastened to visit her, and were greatly impressed by her eloquence, her fearlessness, her extensive knowledge, and the force of her character. The commentary on the Surih of Kawthar, revealed by the Bab, was publicly read and translated. The wife of the Amir, the governor of Kirmanshah, was among the ladies who met Tahirih and heard her expound the sacred teachings. The Amir himself, together with his family, acknowledged the truth of the Cause and testified to their admiration and love for Tahirih. According to Muhammad Mustafa (p. 116), Tahirih tarried two days in the village of Sahnih on her way to Hamadan, where she was accorded a reception no less enthusiastic than the one which had greeted her in the village of Karand. The inhabitants of the village begged to be allowed to gather together the members of their community and to join hands with the body of her followers for the spread and promotion of the Cause. She advised them, however, to remain, extolled and blessed their efforts, and proceeded to Hamadan. 


15.10. According to the "Memorials of the Faithful" (p. 275), Tahirih tarried two months in Hamadan.


15.11. According to Muhammad Mustafa (p. 117), among those who had been sent from Qazvin were the brothers of Tahirih.


15.12. See Glossary. 


15.13. "How could it be that a woman, in Persia where woman is considered so weak a creature, and above all in a city like Qazvin, where the clergy possessed so great an influence, where the ulamas, by their number and importance attracted the attention of the government and of the people, how could it be that there, precisely under such untoward circumstances, a woman could have organized so strong a group of heretics? There lies a question which puzzles even the Persian historian, Sipihr, for such an occurrence was without precedent!" (Journal Asiatique, 1866, tome 7, p. 474.)


15.14. August 13-September 12, 1847 A.D.


15.15. See Glossary.


15.16. See Glossary.


15.17. See Glossary.


15.18. Qur'an, 9:33.


15.19. According to the "Kashfu'l-Ghita'" (p. 110), Mulla Husayn is reported by Mulla Ja'far-i-Va'iz-i-Qazvini to have met Tahirih in Qazvin at the home of Aqa Hadi, who is probably none other than Muhammad Hadiy-i-Farhadi, who was commissioned by Baha'u'llah to conduct Tahirih to Tihran. The meeting is stated to have taken place prior to the murder of Mulla Taqi. 


15.20. 'Abdu'l-Baha relates, in the "Memorials of the Faithful" (p. 306), the circumstances of a visit paid by Vahid to Tahirih, while the latter was staying in the home of Baha'u'llah in Tihran. "Tahirih," He writes, "was listening from behind the veil to the utterances of Vahid, who was discoursing with fervour and eloquence on the signs and verses that bore witness to the advent of the new Manifestation. I was then a child and was sitting on her lap, as she followed the recital of the remarkable testimonies which flowed ceaselessly from the lips of that learned man. I well remember how she suddenly interrupted him and, raising her voice, vehemently declared: 'O Yahya! Let deeds, not words, testify to thy faith, if thou art a man of true learning. Cease idly repeating the traditions of the past, for the day of service, of steadfast action, is come. Now is the time to show forth the true signs of God, to rend asunder the veils of idle fancy, to promote the Word of God, and to sacrifice ourselves in His path. Let deeds, not words, be our adorning.'"


15.21. See Glossary.


15.22. "Garden of Paradise."



CHAPTER XVI

THE CONFERENCE OF BADASHT


[289] Soon after Tahirih had started on her journey, Baha'u'llah instructed Aqay-i-Kalim to complete the necessary preparations for His contemplated departure for Khurasan. He committed to his care His family and asked him to provide whatever might be conducive to their well-being and safety.


When He arrived at Shah-Rud, He was met by Quddus, who had left Mashhad, where he had been residing, and had come to welcome Him as soon as he had heard of His approach. The whole province of Khurasan was in those days in the throes of a violent agitation. The activities which Quddus and Mulla Husayn had initiated, their zeal, their courage, their outspoken language, had aroused the people from their lethargy, had kindled in the hearts of some the noblest sentiments of faith and devotion, and had provoked in the breasts of others the instincts of passionate fanaticism and malice. A multitude of seekers constantly poured from every direction into Mashhad, eagerly sought the residence of Mulla Husayn, and through him were ushered into the presence of Quddus.


Their numbers soon swelled to such proportions as to excite the apprehension of the authorities. The chief constable viewed with concern and dismay the crowds of agitated people who streamed unceasingly into every quarter of the holy city. In his desire to assert his rights, intimidate Mulla Husayn, and induce him to curtail the scope of his activities, he issued orders to arrest immediately the latter's special attendant, whose name was Hasan, and subject him to cruel and shameful treatment. They pierced his nose, passed a cord through the incision, and with this halter led and paraded him through the streets.


Mulla Husayn was in the presence of Quddus when the news of the disgraceful affliction that had befallen his servant [289] reached him. Fearing lest this sad intelligence might grieve the heart of his beloved chief, he arose and quietly retired. His companions soon gathered round him, expressed their indignation at this outrageous assault upon so innocent a follower of their Faith, and urged him to avenge the insult. Mulla Husayn tried to appease their anger. "Let not," he pleaded, "the indignity that has befallen Hasan afflict and disturb you, for Husayn is still with you and will safely deliver him back into your hands to-morrow."


In the face of so solemn an assurance, his companions ventured no further remarks. Their hearts, however, burned with impatience to redress that bitter injury. A number of them eventually decided to band themselves together and loudly raise, through the streets of Mashhad, the cry of "Ya Sahibu'z-Zaman!"1 as a protest against this sudden affront to the dignity of their Faith. That cry was the first of its kind to be raised in Khurasan in the name of the Cause of God. The city re-echoed with the sound of those voices. The reverberations of their shouts reached even the most outlying regions of the province, raised a great tumult in the hearts of the people, and were the signal for the tremendous happenings that were destined to transpire in the future.


In the midst of the confusion that ensued, those who were holding the halter with which they dragged Hasan through the streets, perished by the sword. The companions of Mulla Husayn conducted the released captive into the presence of their leader and informed him of the fate that had befallen the oppressor. "You have refused," Mulla Husayn is reported to have remarked, "to tolerate the trials to which Hasan has been subjected; how can you reconcile yourselves to the martyrdom of Husayn?"2


The city of Mashhad, which had just recovered its peace and tranquillity after the rebellion that the Salar had provoked, was plunged again into confusion and distress. Prince Hamzih Mirza was stationed with his men and munitions at a distance of four farsangs3 from the city, ready to face whatever emergency might arise when the news of these fresh disturbances suddenly reached him. He immediately [290] despatched a detachment to the city with instructions to obtain the assistance of the governor for the arrest of Mulla Husayn, and to conduct him into his presence. 'Abdu'l-'Ali Khan-i-Maraghiyi, the captain of the prince's artillery, immediately intervened. "I deem myself," he pleaded, "one among the lovers and admirers of Mulla Husayn. If you contemplate inflicting any harm upon him, I pray you to take my life and then to proceed to execute your design; for I cannot, so long as I live, tolerate the least disrespect towards him."


The prince, who knew full well how much he stood in need of that officer, was greatly embarrassed at this unexpected declaration. "I too have met Mulla Husayn," was his reply as he tried to remove the apprehension of 'Abdu'l-'Ali Khan. "I too cherish the utmost devotion to him. By summoning him to my camp, I am hoping to restrict the scope of the mischief which has been kindled and to safeguard his person." The prince then addressed in his own handwriting a letter to Mulla Husayn in which he urged the extreme desirability of his transferring his residence for a few days to his headquarters, and assured him of his sincere desire to shield him from the attacks of his infuriated opponents. He gave orders that his own highly ornamented tent be pitched in the vicinity of his camp and be reserved for the reception of his expected guest.


On the receipt of this communication, Mulla Husayn presented it to Quddus, who advised him to respond to the invitation of the prince. "No harm can befall you," Quddus assured him. "As to me, I shall this very night set out in the company of Mirza Muhammad-'Aliy-i-Qazvini, one of the Letters of the Living, for Mazindaran. Please God, you too, later on, at the head of a large company of the faithful and preceded by the 'Black Standards,' will depart from Mashhad and join me. We shall meet at whatever place the Almighty will have decreed."


Mulla Husayn joyously responded. He threw himself at the feet of Quddus and assured him of his firm determination to discharge with fidelity the obligations which he had imposed upon him. Quddus lovingly took him in his arms and, kissing his eyes and his forehead, committed him to the 


[291] Almighty's unfailing protection. Early that same afternoon, Mulla Husayn mounted his steed and rode out with dignity and calm to the encampment of Prince Hamzih Mirza, and was ceremoniously conducted by 'Abdu'l-'Ali Khan, who, together with a number of officers, had been appointed by the prince to go out and welcome him, to the tent that had been specially erected for his use.


That very night, Quddus summoned to his presence Mirza Muhammad-Baqir-i-Qa'ini, who had built the Babiyyih, together with a number of the most prominent among his companions, and enjoined upon them to bear unquestioned allegiance to Mulla Husayn and to obey implicitly whatever he might wish them to do. "Tempestuous are the storms which lie ahead of us," he told them. "The days of stress and violent commotion are fast approaching. Cleave to him, for in obedience to his command lies your salvation."


With these words, Quddus bade farewell to his companions and, accompanied by Mirza Muhammad-'Aliy-i-Qazvini, departed from Mashhad. A few days later, he encountered Mirza Sulayman-i-Nuri, who informed him of the circumstances attending the deliverance of Tahirih from her confinement in Qazvin, of her journey in the direction of Khurasan, and of Baha'u'llah's subsequent departure from the capital. Mirza Sulayman, as well as Mirza Muhammad-'Ali, [292] remained in the company of Quddus until their arrival at Badasht. They reached that hamlet at the hour of dawn, and found there assembled a large gathering of people whom they recognised as their fellow-believers. They decided, however, to resume their journey, and proceeded directly to Shah-Rud. As they were approaching that village, Mirza Sulayman, who was following at a distance behind them, encountered Muhammad-i-Hana-Sab, who was on his way to Badasht. In answer to his enquiry as to the object of that gathering, Mirza Sulayman was informed that Baha'u'llah and Tahirih had, a few days before, left Shah-Rud for that hamlet; that a large number of believers had already arrived from Isfahan, Qazvin, and other towns of Persia, and were waiting to accompany Baha'u'llah on His intended journey to Khurasan. "Tell Mulla Ahmad-i-Ibdal, who is now in Badasht," Mirza Sulayman remarked, "that this very morning a light has shone upon you, the radiance of which you have failed to recognise."4


No sooner had Baha'u'llah been informed by Muhammad-i-Hana-Sab of the arrival of Quddus at Shah-Rud than He decided to join him. Attended by Mulla Muhammad-i-Mu'allim-i-Nuri, He set out on horseback that same evening for that village, and had returned with Quddus to Badasht the next morning at the hour of sunrise.


It was then the beginning of summer. Upon His arrival, Baha'u'llah rented three gardens, one of which He assigned exclusively to the use of Quddus, another He set apart for Tahirih and her attendant, and reserved the third for Himself. 


[293] Those who had gathered in Badasht were eighty-one in number, all of whom, from the time of their arrival to the day of their dispersion, were the guests of Baha'u'llah. Every day, He revealed a Tablet which Mirza Sulayman-i-Nuri chanted in the presence of the assembled believers. Upon each He bestowed a new name. He Himself was henceforth designated by the name of Baha; upon the Last Letter of the Living was conferred the appellation of Quddus, and to Qurratu'l-'Ayn was given the title of Tahirih. To each of those who had convened at Badasht a special Tablet was subsequently revealed by the Bab, each of whom He addressed by the name recently conferred upon him. When, at a later time, a number of the more rigid and conservative among her fellow-disciples chose to accuse Tahirih of indiscreetly rejecting the time-honoured traditions of the past, the Bab, to whom these complaints had been addressed, replied in the following terms: "What am I to say regarding her whom the Tongue of Power and Glory has named Tahirih [the Pure One]?"


Each day of that memorable gathering witnessed the abrogation of a new law and the repudiation of a long-established tradition. The veils that guarded the sanctity of the ordinances of Islam were sternly rent asunder, and the idols that had so long claimed the adoration of their blind worshippers were rudely demolished. No one knew, however, the Source whence these bold and defiant innovations proceeded, no one suspected the Hand which steadily and unerringly steered their course. Even the identity of Him who had bestowed a new name upon each of those who had congregated in that hamlet remained unknown to those who had received them. Each conjectured according to his own degree of understanding. Few, if any, dimly surmised that Baha'u'llah was the Author of the far-reaching changes which were being so fearlessly introduced.


Shaykh Abu-Turab, one of the best-informed as to the nature of the developments in Badasht, is reported to have related the following incident: "Illness, one day, confined Baha'u'llah to His bed. Quddus, as soon as he heard of His indisposition, hastened to visit Him. He seated himself, when ushered into His presence, on the right hand of [294] Baha'u'llah. The rest of the companions were gradually admitted to His presence, and grouped themselves around Him. No sooner had they assembled than Muhammad-Hasan-i-Qazvini, the messenger of Tahirih, upon whom the name of Fata'l-Qazvini had been newly conferred, suddenly came in and conveyed to Quddus a pressing invitation from Tahirih to visit her in her own garden. 'I have severed myself entirely from her,' he boldly and decisively replied. 'I refuse to meet her.'5 The messenger retired immediately, and soon returned, reiterating the same message and appealing to him to heed her urgent call. 'She insists on your visit,' were his words. 'If you persist in your refusal, she herself will come to you.' Perceiving his unyielding attitude, the messenger unsheathed his sword, laid it at the feet of Quddus, and said: 'I refuse to go without you. Either choose to accompany me to the presence of Tahirih or cut off my head with this sword.' 'I have already declared my intention not to visit Tahirih,' Quddus angrily retorted. 'I am willing to comply with the alternative which you have chosen to put before me.'


"Muhammad-Hasan, who had seated himself at the feet of Quddus, had stretched forth his neck to receive the fatal blow, when suddenly the figure of Tahirih, adorned and unveiled, appeared before the eyes of the assembled companions. Consternation immediately seized the entire gathering.6 All stood aghast before this sudden and most unexpected [295] apparition. To behold her face unveiled was to them inconceivable. Even to gaze at her shadow was a thing which they deemed improper, inasmuch as they regarded her as the very incarnation of Fatimih,7 the noblest emblem of chastity in their eyes.


"Quietly, silently, and with the utmost dignity, Tahirih stepped forward and, advancing towards Quddus, seated herself on his right-hand side. Her unruffled serenity sharply contrasted with the affrighted countenances of those who were gazing upon her face. Fear, anger, and bewilderment stirred the depths of their souls. That sudden revelation seemed to have stunned their faculties. 'Abdu'l-Khaliq-i-Isfahani was so gravely shaken that he cut his throat with his own hands. Covered with blood and shrieking with excitement, he fled away from the face of Tahirih. A few, following his example, abandoned their companions and forsook their Faith. A number were seen standing speechless before her, confounded with wonder. Quddus, meanwhile, had remained seated in his place, holding the unsheathed sword in his hand, his face betraying a feeling of inexpressible anger. It seemed as if he were waiting for the moment when he could strike his fatal blow at Tahirih.


"His threatening attitude failed, however, to move her. Her countenance displayed that same dignity and confidence which she had evinced at the first moment of her appearance before the assembled believers. A feeling of joy and triumph had now illumined her face. She rose from her seat and, undeterred by the tumult that she had raised in the hearts of her companions, began to address the remnant of that assembly. Without the least premeditation, and in language which bore a striking resemblance to that of the Qur'an, she delivered her appeal with matchless eloquence and profound fervour. She concluded her address with this verse of the Qur'an: 'Verily, amid gardens and rivers shall the pious dwell in the seat of truth, in the presence of the potent King.' As she uttered these words, she cast a furtive glance towards both Baha'u'llah and Quddus in such a manner that those who were watching her were unable to tell to which of the two she was alluding. Immediately [296] after, she declared: 'I am the Word which the Qa'im is to utter, the Word which shall put to flight the chiefs and nobles of the earth!'8


"She then turned her face towards Quddus and rebuked him for having failed to perform in Khurasan those things which she deemed essential to the welfare of the Faith. 'I am free to follow the promptings of my own conscience,' retorted Quddus. 'I am not subject to the will and pleasure of my fellow-disciples.' Turning away her eyes from him, Tahirih invited those who were present to celebrate befittingly this great occasion. 'This day is the day of festivity and universal rejoicing,' she added, 'the day on which the fetters of the past are burst asunder. Let those who have shared in this great achievement arise and embrace each other.'"


That memorable day and those which immediately followed it witnessed the most revolutionary changes in the life and habits of the assembled followers of the Bab. Their manner of worship underwent a sudden and fundamental transformation. The prayers and ceremonials by which those devout worshippers had been disciplined were irrevocably 


[297] discarded. A great confusion, however, prevailed among those who had so zealously arisen to advocate these reforms. A few condemned so radical a change as being the essence of heresy, and refused to annul what they regarded as the inviolable precepts of Islam. Some regarded Tahirih as the sole judge in such matters and the only person qualified to claim implicit obedience from the faithful. Others who denounced her behaviour held to Quddus, whom they regarded as the sole representative of the Bab, the only one who had the right to pronounce upon such weighty matters. Still others who recognised the authority of both Tahirih and Quddus viewed the whole episode as a God-sent test designed to separate the true from the false and distinguish the faithful from the disloyal.


Tahirih herself ventured on a few occasions to repudiate the authority of Quddus. "I deem him," she is reported to have declared, "a pupil whom the Bab has sent me to edify and instruct. I regard him in no other light." Quddus did not fail, on his part, to denounce Tahirih as "the author of heresy," and stigmatised those who advocated her views as "the victims of error." This state of tension persisted for a few days until Baha'u'llah intervened and, in His masterly manner, effected a complete reconciliation between them. He healed the wounds which that sharp controversy had caused, and directed the efforts of both along the path of constructive service.9


The object of that memorable gathering had been attained.10 The clarion-call of the new Order had been sounded. [298] The obsolete conventions which had fettered the consciences of men were boldly challenged and fearlessly swept away. The way was clear for the proclamation of the laws and precepts that were destined to usher in the new Dispensation. The remnant of the companions who had gathered in Badasht accordingly decided to depart for Mazindaran. Quddus and Tahirih seated themselves in the same howdah,11 which had been prepared for their journey by Baha'u'llah. On their way, Tahirih each day composed an ode which she instructed those who accompanied her to chant as they followed her howdah. Mountain and valley re-echoed the shouts with which that enthusiastic band, as they journeyed to Mazindaran, hailed the extinction of the old, and the birth of the new Day.


Baha'u'llah's sojourn in Badasht lasted two and twenty days. In the course of their journey to Mazindaran, a few of the followers of the Bab sought to abuse the liberty which the repudiation of the laws and sanctions of an outgrown Faith had conferred upon them. They viewed the unprecedented action of Tahirih in discarding the veil as a signal to transgress the bounds of moderation and to gratify their selfish desires. The excesses in which a few indulged provoked the wrath of the Almighty and caused their immediate dispersion. In the village of Niyala, they were grievously tested and suffered severe injuries at the hands of their enemies. This scattering extinguished the mischief which a few of the irresponsible among the adherents of the Faith had sought to kindle, and preserved untarnished its honour and dignity.


I have heard Baha'u'llah Himself describe that incident: [299] "We were all gathered in the village of Niyala and were resting at the foot of a mountain, when, at the hour of dawn, we were suddenly awakened by the stones which the people of the neighbourhood were hurling upon us from the top of the mountain. The fierceness of their attack induced our companions to flee in terror and consternation. I clothed Quddus in my own garments and despatched him to a place of safety, where I intended to join him. When I arrived, I found that he had gone. None of our companions had remained in Niyala except Tahirih and a young man from Shiraz, Mirza 'Abdu'llah. The violence with which we were assailed had brought desolation into our camp. I found no one into whose custody I could deliver Tahirih except that young man, who displayed on that occasion a courage and determination that were truly surprising. Sword in hand, undaunted by the savage assault of the inhabitants of the village, who had rushed to plunder our property, he sprang forward to stay the hand of the assailants. Though himself wounded in several parts of his body, he risked his life to protect our property. I bade him desist from his act. When the tumult had subsided, I approached a number of the inhabitants of the village and was able to convince them of the cruelty and shamefulness of their behaviour. I subsequently succeeded in restoring a part of our plundered property."


Baha'u'llah, accompanied by Tahirih and her attendant, proceeded to Nur. He appointed Shaykh Abu-Turab to watch over her and ensure her protection and safety. Meanwhile the mischief-makers were endeavouring to kindle the anger of Muhammad Shah against Baha'u'llah, and, by representing Him as the prime mover of the disturbances of Shah-Rud and Mazindaran, succeeded eventually in inducing the sovereign to have Him arrested. "I have hitherto," the Shah is reported to have angrily remarked, "refused to countenance whatever has been said against him. My indulgence has been actuated by my recognition of the services rendered to my country by his father. This time, however, I am determined to put him to death."


He accordingly commanded one of his officers in Tihran to instruct his son who was residing in Mazindaran to arrest [300] Baha'u'llah and to conduct Him to the capital. The son of this officer received the communication on the very day preceding the reception which he had prepared to offer to Baha'u'llah, to whom he was devotedly attached. He was greatly distressed and did not divulge the news to anyone. Baha'u'llah, however, perceived his sadness and advised him to put his trust in God. The next day, as He was being accompanied by His friend to his home, they encountered a horseman who was coming from the direction of Tihran. "Muhammad Shah is dead!" that friend exclaimed in the Mazindarani dialect, as he hastened to rejoin Him after a brief conversation with the messenger. He drew out the imperial summons and showed it to Him. The document had lost its efficacy. That night was spent in the company of his guest in an atmosphere of undisturbed calm and gladness.


Quddus had in the meantime fallen into the hands of his opponents, and was confined in Sari in the home of Mirza Muhammad-Taqi, the leading mujtahid of that town. The rest of his companions, after their dispersal in Niyala, had scattered in different directions, each carrying with him to his fellow-believers the news of the momentous happenings of Badasht.


FOOTNOTES


16.1. "O Lord of the Age!" one of the titles of the promised Qa'im. 


16.2. Allusion to his own martyrdom. 


16.3. See Glossary.


16.4. Allusion to Quddus.


16.5. According to the "Kashfu'l-Ghita'," a decision had been previously arrived at between Quddus and Tahirih, in accordance with which the latter was to proclaim publicly the independent character of the Revelation of the Bab, and to emphasise the abrogation of the laws and ordinances of the previous Dispensation. Quddus, on the other hand, was expected to oppose her contention and strenuously to reject her views. This arrangement was made for the purpose of mitigating the effects of such a challenging and far-reaching proclamation, and of averting the dangers and perils which such a startling innovation was sure to produce. (P. 211.) Baha'u'llah appears to have taken a neutral attitude in this controversy, though actually He was the prime mover and the controlling and directing influence throughout the different stages of that memorable episode. 


16.6. "But the effect produced had been astounding! The assembly was as if struck by lightning. Some hid their faces with their hands, others, prostrated themselves, others covered their heads with their garments so that they could not see the features of her Highness, the Pure One. If it was a grievous sin to look upon the face of an unknown woman who might pass by, what a crime to let one's eyes fall upon her who was so saintly! The meeting was broken up in the midst of an indescribable tumult. Insults fell upon her whom they thought so indecent as to appear thus with her face uncovered. Some armed that she had lost her mind, others that she was shameless, and some, very few, took up her defense." (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab," pp. 283-284.)


16.7. Daughter of Muhammad, and wife of the Imam 'Ali.


16.8. Refer to page 15.


16.9. "It was this bold act of Qurratu'l-'Ayn which shook the foundations of a literal belief in Islamic doctrines among the Persians. It may be added that the first-fruits of Qurratu'l-'Ayn's teaching was no less than the heroic Quddus, and that the eloquent teacher herself owed her insight probably to Baha'u'llah. Of course, the supposition that her greatest friend might censure her is merely a delightful piece of irony." (Dr. T. K. Cheyne's "The Reconciliation of Races and Religions," pp. 103-4.) 


16.10. "It has been suggested that the true cause of the summoning of that assembly was anxiety for the Bab, and a desire to carry him off to a place of safety. But the more accepted view—that the subject before the Council was the relation of the Babis to the Islamic laws—is also the more probable." (Ibid., p. 80.) "The object of the conference was to correct a widespread misunderstanding. There were many who thought that the new leader came, in the most literal sense, to fulfil the Islamic Law. They realised, indeed, that the object of Muhammad was to bring about an universal kingdom of righteousness and peace, but they thought this was to be effected by wading through streams of blood, and with the help of the divine judgments. The Bab, on the other hand, though not always consistent, was moving, with some of his disciples, in the direction of moral suasion; his only weapon was 'the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.' When the Qa'im appeared all things would be renewed. But the Qa'im was on the point of appearing, and all that remained was to prepare for his Coming. No more should there be any distinction between higher and lower races, or between male and female. No more should the long, enveloping veil be the badge of woman's inferiority. The gifted woman before us had her own characteristic solution of the problem... It is said in one form of tradition, that Qurratu'l-'Ayn herself attended the conference with a veil on. If so, she lost no time in discarding it, and broke out (we are told) into the fervid exclamation, 'I am the blast of the trumpet, I am the call of the bugle,' i.e. 'Like Gabriel, I would awaken sleeping souls.' It is said, too, that this short speech of the brave woman was followed by the recitation by Baha'u'llah of the Surih of the Resurrection (75). Such recitations often have an overpowering effect. The inner meaning of this was that mankind was about to pass into a new cosmic cycle, for which a new set of laws and customs would be indispensable." (Dr. T. K. Cheyne's "The Reconciliation of Races and Religions," pp. 101-3.)


16.11. Refer to Glossary.




CHAPTER XVII

THE BAB'S INCARCERATION IN THE CASTLE OF CHIHRIQ


[301] The incident of Niyala occurred in the middle of the month of Sha'ban, in the year 1264 A.H.1 Towards the end of that same month, the Bab was brought to Tabriz, where He suffered at the hands of His oppressors a severe and humiliating injury. That deliberate affront to His dignity almost synchronised with the attack which the inhabitants of Niyala directed against Baha'u'llah and His companions. The one was pelted with stones by an ignorant and pugnacious people; the other was afflicted with stripes by a cruel and treacherous enemy.


I shall now relate the circumstances that led to that odious indignity which the persecutors of the Bab chose to inflict upon Him. He had, in pursuance of the orders issued by Haji Mirza Aqasi, been transferred to the castle of Chihriq2 and consigned to the keeping of Yahya Khan-i-Kurd, whose sister was the wife of Muhammad Shah, the mother of the Nayibu's-Saltanih. Strict and explicit instructions [302] had been given by the Grand Vazir to Yahya Khan, enjoining him not to allow anyone to enter the presence of his Prisoner. He was particularly warned not to follow the example of 'Ali Khan-i-Mah-Ku'i, who had gradually been led to disregard the orders he had received.3


Despite the emphatic character of that injunction, and in the face of the unyielding opposition of the all-powerful Haji Mirza Aqasi, Yahya Khan found himself powerless to abide by those instructions. He, too, soon came to feel the fascination of his Prisoner; he, too, forgot, as soon as he came into contact with His spirit, the duty he was expected to perform. At the very outset, the love of the Bab penetrated his heart and claimed his entire being. The Kurds who lived in Chihriq, and whose fanaticism and hatred of the shi'ahs exceeded the aversion which the inhabitants of Mah-Ku entertained for that people, were likewise subjected to the transforming influence of the Bab. Such was the love He had kindled in their hearts that every morning, ere they started for their daily work, they directed their steps towards His prison and, gazing from afar at the castle which contained His beloved self, invoked His name and besought His blessings. They would prostrate themselves on the ground and seek to refresh their souls with remembrance of Him. To one another they would freely relate the wonders of His power and glory, and would recount such dreams as bore witness to the creative power of His influence. To no one would Yahya Khan refuse admittance to the castle.4 As Chihriq itself was unable to accommodate the increasing number of visitors who flocked to its gates, they were enabled to obtain the necessary lodgings in Iski-Shahr, the old Chihriq, which was situated at an hour's distance from the [303] castle. Whatever provisions were required for the Bab were purchased in the old town and transported to His prison.


One day the Bab asked that some honey be purchased for Him. The price at which it had been bought seemed to Him exorbitant. He refused it and said: "Honey of a superior quality could no doubt have been purchased at a lower price. I who am your example have been a merchant by profession. It behoves you in all your transactions to follow in My way. You must neither defraud your neighbour nor allow him to defraud you. Such was the way of your Master. The shrewdest and ablest of men were unable to deceive Him, nor did He on His part choose to act ungenerously towards the meanest and most helpless of creatures." He insisted that the attendant who had made that purchase should return and bring back to Him a honey superior in quality and cheaper in price.


During the Bab's captivity in the castle of Chihriq, events of a startling character caused grave perturbation to the government. It soon became evident that a number of the most eminent among the siyyids, the ulamas, and the government officials of Khuy had espoused the Cause of the Prisoner and had completely identified themselves with His Faith. Among them figured Mirza Muhammad-'Ali and his brother Buyuk-Aqa, both siyyids of distinguished merit who had risen with fevered earnestness to proclaim their Faith to all sorts and conditions of people among their countrymen. A continuous stream of seekers and confirmed believers flowed back and forth, as the result of such activities, between Khuy and Chihriq.


It came to pass at that time that a prominent official of high literary ability, Mirza Asadu'llah, who was later surnamed Dayyan by the Bab and whose vehement denunciations of His Message had baffled those who had endeavoured to convert him, dreamed a dream. When he awoke, he determined not to recount it to anyone, and, fixing his choice on two verses of the Qur'an, he addressed the following request to the Bab: "I have conceived three definite things in my mind. I request you to reveal to me their nature." Mirza Muhammad-'Ali was asked to submit this written request to the Bab. A few days later, he received a reply [304] penned in the Bab's handwriting, in which He set forth in their entirety the circumstances of that dream and revealed the exact texts of those verses. The accuracy of that reply brought about a sudden conversion. Though unused to walking, Mirza Asadu'llah hastened on foot along that steep and stony path which led from Khuy to the castle. His friends tried to induce him to proceed on horseback to Chihriq, but he refused their offer. His meeting with the Bab confirmed him in his belief and excited that fiery ardour which he continued to manifest to the end of his life.


That same year the Bab had expressed His desire that forty of His companions should each undertake to compose a treatise and seek, by the aid of verses and traditions, to establish the validity of His Mission. His wishes were instantly obeyed, and the result of their labours was duly submitted to His presence. Mirza Asadu'llah's treatise won the unqualified admiration of the Bab and ranked highest in His estimation. He bestowed on him the name Dayyan and revealed in his honour the Lawh-i-Hurufat5 in which He made the following statement: "Had the Point of the Bayan6 no other testimony with which to establish His truth, this were sufficient—that He revealed a Tablet such as this, a Tablet such as no amount of learning could produce."


The people of the Bayan, who utterly misconceived the purpose underlying that Tablet, thought it to be a mere exposition of the science of Jafr.7 When, at a later time, in the early years of Baha'u'llah's incarceration in the prison city of Akka, Jinab-i-Muballigh made, from Shiraz, his request that He unravel the mysteries of that Tablet, there was revealed from His pen an explanation which they who misconceived the words of the Bab might do well to ponder. Baha'u'llah adduced from the statements of the Bab irrefutable evidence proving that the appearance of the Man-Yuzhiruhu'llah8 must needs occur no less than nineteen years after the Declaration of the Bab. The mystery of the Mustaghath9 had long baffled the most searching minds among the people of the Bayan and had proved an unsurmountable [305] obstacle to their recognition of the promised One. The Bab had Himself in that Tablet unravelled that mystery; no one, however, was able to understand the explanation which He had given. It was left to Baha'u'llah to unveil it to the eyes of all men.


The untiring zeal which Mirza Asadu'llah displayed induced his father, who was an intimate friend of Haji Mirza Aqasi, to report to him the circumstances which led to the conversion of his son, and to inform him of his negligence in carrying out the duties which the State had imposed upon him. He expatiated upon the eagerness with which so able a servant of the government had risen to serve his new Master, and the success which had attended his efforts.


A further cause for apprehension on the part of the government authorities was supplied by the arrival at Chihriq of a dervish who had come from India and who, as soon as he met the Bab, acknowledged the truth of His Mission. All who met that dervish, whom the Bab had named Qahru'llah, during his sojourn at Iski-Shahr, felt the warmth of his enthusiasm and were deeply impressed by the tenacity of his conviction. An increasing number of people became enamoured of the charm of his personality and willingly acknowledged the compelling power of his Faith. Such was the influence which he exercised over them that a few among the believers were inclined to regard him as an exponent of Divine Revelation, although he altogether disclaimed such pretensions. He was often heard to relate the following: "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."


The news of the turmoil which that lowly dervish had been able to raise among the Kurdish leaders in Chihriq reached Tabriz and was thence communicated to Tihran. No sooner had the news reached the capital than orders [306] were issued to transfer the Bab immediately to Tabriz in the hope of allaying the excitement which His continued residence in that locality had provoked. Before the news of this fresh order had reached Chihriq, the Bab had charged 'Azim to inform Qahru'llah of His desire that he return to India and there consecrate his life to the service of His Cause. "Alone and on foot," He commanded him, "he should return whence he came. With the same ardour and detachment with which he performed his pilgrimage to this country, he must now repair to his native land and unceasingly labour to advance the interests of the Cause." He also bade him instruct Mirza 'Abdu'l-Vahhab-i-Turshizi, who was living in Khuy, to proceed immediately to Urumiyyih, where He said He would soon join him. 'Azim himself was directed to leave for Tabriz and there inform Siyyid Ibrahim-i-Khalil of His approaching arrival at that city. "Tell him," the Bab added, "that the fire of Nimrod will shortly be kindled in Tabriz, but despite the intensity of its flame no harm will befall our friends."


No sooner had Qahru'llah received the message from his Master than he arose to carry out His wishes. To anyone who wished to accompany him, he would say: "You can never endure the trials of this journey. Abandon the thought of coming with me. You would surely perish on your way, inasmuch as the Bab has commanded me to return alone to my native land." The compelling force of his reply silenced those who begged to be allowed to journey with him. He refused to accept either money or clothing from anyone. Alone, clad in the meanest attire, staff in hand, he walked all the way back to his country. No one knows what ultimately befell him. Muhammad-'Aliy-i-Zunuzi, surnamed Anis, was among those who heard of the message from the Bab in Tabriz, and was fired with the desire to hasten to Chihriq and attain His presence. Those words had kindled in him an irrepressible longing to sacrifice himself in His path. Siyyid 'Aliy-i-Zunuzi, his stepfather, a notable of Tabriz, strenuously objected to his leaving the city, and was at last induced to confine him in his house and strictly watch over him. His [307] son languished in his confinement until the time when his Beloved had reached Tabriz and had been taken back again to His prison in Chihriq.


I have heard Shaykh Hasan-i-Zunuzi relate the following: "At about the same time that the Bab dismissed 'Azim from His presence, I was instructed by Him to collect all the available Tablets that He had revealed during His incarceration in the castles of Mah-Ku and Chihriq, and to deliver them into the hands of Siyyid Ibrahim-i-Khalil, who was then living in Tabriz, and urge him to conceal and preserve them with the utmost care.


"During my stay in that city, I often visited Siyyid 'Aliy-i-Zunuzi, who was related to me, and frequently heard him deplore the sad fate of his son. 'He seems to have lost his reason,' he bitterly complained. 'He has, by his behaviour, brought reproach and shame upon me. Try to calm the agitation of his heart and induce him to conceal his convictions.' Every day I visited him, I witnessed the tears that continually rained from his eyes. After the Bab had departed from Tabriz, one day as I went to see him, I was surprised to note the joy and gladness which had illumined his countenance. His handsome face was wreathed in smiles as he stepped forward to receive me. 'The eyes of my Beloved,' he said, as he embraced me, 'have beheld this face, and these eyes have gazed upon His countenance.' 'Let me,' he added, 'tell you the secret of my happiness. After the Bab had been taken back to Chihriq, one day, as I lay confined in my cell, I turned my heart to Him and besought Him in these words: "Thou beholdest, O my Best-Beloved, my captivity and helplessness, and knowest how eagerly I yearn to look upon Thy face. Dispel the gloom that oppresses my heart, with the light of Thy countenance." What tears of agonising pain I shed that hour! I was so overcome with emotion that I seemed to have lost consciousness. Suddenly I heard the voice of the Bab, and, lo! He was calling me. He bade me arise. I beheld the majesty of His countenance as He appeared before me. He smiled as He looked into my eyes. I rushed forward and flung myself at His feet. "Rejoice," He said; "the hour is approaching when, in this very city, I shall be suspended before the eyes of the multitude [308] and shall fall a victim to the fire of the enemy. I shall choose no one except you to share with Me the cup of martyrdom. Rest assured that this promise which I give you shall be fulfilled." I was entranced by the beauty of that vision. When I recovered, I found myself immersed in an ocean of joy, a joy the radiance of which all the sorrows of the world could never obscure. That voice keeps ringing in my ears. That vision haunts me both in the daytime and in the night-season. The memory of that ineffable smile has dissipated the loneliness of my confinement. I am firmly convinced that the hour at which His pledge is to be fulfilled can no longer be delayed.' I exhorted him to be patient and to conceal his emotions. He promised me not to divulge that secret, and undertook to exercise the utmost forbearance towards Siyyid 'Ali. I hastened to assure the father of his determination, and succeeded in obtaining his release from his confinement. That youth continued until the day of his martyrdom to associate, in a state of complete serenity and joy, with his parents and kinsmen. Such was his behaviour towards his friends and relatives that, on the day he laid down his life for his Beloved, the people of Tabriz all wept and bewailed him."


FOOTNOTES


17.1. July 3-August 1, 1848 A.D. 


17.2. According to "A Traveller's Narrative" (p. 18) the Bab remained for three months in the castle of Chihriq before He was taken to Tabriz to be examined.


17.3. "The Bab was subjected to a closer and more rigorous confinement at Chihriq than he had been at Mah-Ku. Hence he used to call the former 'the Grievous Mountain' (Jabal-i-Shadid, the numerical value of the word 'Shadid'—318—being the same as that of the name Chihriq), and the latter 'the Open Mountain' (Jabal-i-Basit)." ("A Traveller's Narrative," Note L, p. 276.) 


17.4. "There, like everywhere else, the people crowded around him. M. Mochenin says in his memoirs concerning the Bab: 'In the month of June, 1850 (is this not more likely to be 1849?), having gone to Chihriq on duty, I saw the Bala-Khanih from the heights of which the Bab taught his doctrine. The multitude of hearers was so great that the court was not large enough to hold them all; most of them stayed in the streets and listened with religious rapture to the verses of the new Qur'an. Very soon after the Bab was transferred to Tauris (Tabriz) to be condemned to death.'" (Journal Asiatique, 1866, tome 7, p. 371.)


17.5. Literally "Tablet of the Letters." 


17.6. One of the titles of the Bab. 


17.7. Science of divination. 


17.8. Reference to Baha'u'llah. See Glossary. 


17.9. See Glossary.



CHAPTER XVIII

EXAMINATION OF THE BAB AT TABRIZ


[309] The Bab, in anticipation of the approaching hour of His affliction, had dispersed His disciples who had gathered in Chihriq and awaited with calm resignation the order which was to summon Him to Tabriz. Those into whose custody He was delivered thought it inadvisable to pass through the town of Khuy, which lay on their route to the capital of Adhirbayjan. They decided to go by way of Urumiyyih and thus avoid the demonstrations which the excited populace in Khuy were likely to make as a protest against the tyranny of the government. When the Bab arrived at Urumiyyih, Malik Qasim Mirza ceremoniously received Him and accorded Him the warmest hospitality. In His presence, the prince acted with extraordinary deference and refused to allow the least disrespect on the part of those who were allowed to meet Him.


On a certain Friday when the Bab was going to the public bath, the prince, who was curious to test the courage and power of his Guest, ordered his groom to offer Him one of his wildest horses to ride. Apprehensive lest the Bab might suffer any harm, the attendant secretly approached Him and tried to induce Him to refuse to mount a horse that had already overthrown the bravest and most skilful of horsemen. "Fear not," was His reply. "Do as you have been bidden, and commit Us to the care of the Almighty." The inhabitants of Urumiyyih, who had been informed of the intention of the prince, had filled the public square, eager to witness what might befall the Bab. As soon as the horse was brought to Him, He quietly approached it and, taking hold of the bridle which the groom had offered Him, gently caressed it and placed His foot in the stirrup. The horse stood still and motionless beside Him as if conscious of the power which was dominating it. The multitude that watched this most unusual spectacle marvelled at the 


[311] behaviour of the animal. To their simple minds this extraordinary incident appeared little short of a miracle. They hastened in their enthusiasm to kiss the stirrups of the Bab, but were prevented by the attendants of the prince, who feared lest so great an onrush of people might harm Him. The prince himself, who had accompanied his Guest on foot as far as the vicinity of the bath, was bidden by Him, ere they reached its entrance, to return to his residence. All the way, the prince's footmen were endeavouring to restrain the people who, from every side, were pressing forward to catch a glimpse of the Bab. Upon His arrival, He dismissed all those who had accompanied Him except the prince's private attendant and Siyyid Hasan, who waited in the antechamber and aided Him in undressing. On His return from the bath, He again mounted the same horse and was acclaimed by the same multitude. The prince came on foot to meet Him, and escorted Him back to his residence.


No sooner had the Bab left the bath than the people of Urumiyyih rushed to take away, to the last drop, the water which had served for His ablutions. Great excitement prevailed on that day. The Bab, as He observed these evidences of unrestrained enthusiasm, was reminded of the well-known tradition, commonly ascribed to the Imam 'Ali, the Commander of the Faithful, which specifically referred to Adhirbayjan. The lake of Urumiyyih, that same tradition asserts in its concluding passages, will boil up, will overrun its banks, and inundate the town. When He was subsequently informed how the overwhelming majority of the people had spontaneously arisen to proclaim their undivided allegiance to His Cause, He calmly observed: "Think men that when they say, 'We believe,' they shall be let alone and not be put to the proof?"1 This comment was fully justified by the attitude which that same people assumed towards Him when the news of the dreadful treatment meted out to Him in Tabriz reached them. Hardly a handful among those who had so ostentatiously professed their faith in Him persevered, in the hour of trial, in their allegiance to His Cause. Foremost among these was Mulla Imam-Vardi, the tenacity of whose faith no one except Mulla Jalil-i-Urumi, a native of [312] Urumiyyih and one of the Letters of the Living, could surpass. Adversity served but to intensify the ardour of his devotion and to reinforce his belief in the righteousness of the Cause he had embraced. He subsequently attained the presence of Baha'u'llah, the truth of whose Mission he readily recognised, and for the advancement of which he strove with the same fevered earnestness that had characterised his earlier strivings for the promotion of the Cause of the Bab. In recognition of his long-standing services, he, and also his family, were honoured with numerous Tablets from the pen of Baha'u'llah in which He extolled his achievements and invoked the blessings of the Almighty upon his efforts. With unflinching determination, he continued to labour for the furtherance of the Faith until past eighty years of age, when he departed this life.


The tales of the signs and wonders which the Bab's unnumbered admirers had witnessed were soon transmitted from mouth to mouth, and gave rise to a wave of unprecedented enthusiasm which spread with bewildering rapidity over the entire country. It swept over Tihran and roused the ecclesiastical dignitaries of the realm to fresh exertions against Him. They trembled at the progress of a Movement which, if allowed to run its course, they felt certain would soon engulf the institutions upon which their authority, nay their very existence, depended. They saw on every side increasing evidences of a faith and devotion such as they themselves had been powerless to evoke, of a loyalty which struck at the very root of the fabric which their own hands had reared and which all the resources at their command had as yet failed to undermine.


Tabriz, in particular, was in the throes of the wildest excitement. The news of the impending arrival of the Bab had inflamed the imagination of its inhabitants and had kindled the fiercest animosity in the hearts of the ecclesiastical leaders of Adhirbayjan. These alone, of all the people of Tabriz, abstained from sharing in the demonstrations with which a grateful population hailed the return of the Bab to their city. Such was the fervour of popular enthusiasm which that news had evoked that the authorities decided to house the Bab in a place outside the gates of the city. Only those [313] whom He desired to meet were allowed the privilege of approaching Him. All others were strictly refused admittance.


On the second night after His arrival, the Bab summoned 'Azim to His presence and, in the course of His conversation with him, asserted emphatically His claim to be none other than the promised Qa'im. He found him, however, reluctant to acknowledge this claim unreservedly. Perceiving his inner agitation, He said: "To-morrow I shall, in the presence of the Vali-'Ahd,2 and in the midst of the assembled ulamas and notables of the city, proclaim My Mission. Whoso may feel inclined to require from Me any other testimony besides the verses which I have revealed, let him seek satisfaction from the Qa'im of his idle fancy."


I have heard 'Azim testify to the following: "That night I was in a state of great perturbation. I remained awake and restless until the hour of sunrise. As soon as I had offered my morning prayer, however, I realised that a great change had come over me. A new door seemed to have been unlocked and set open before my face. The conviction soon dawned upon me that if I were loyal to my faith in Muhammad, the Apostle of God, I must needs also unreservedly acknowledge the claims advanced by the Bab, and must submit without fear or hesitation to whatever He might choose to decree. This conclusion allayed the agitation of my heart. I hastened to the Bab and begged His forgiveness. 'It is a further evidence of the greatness of this Cause,' He remarked, 'that even 'Azim3 should have felt so exceedingly troubled and shaken by its power and the immensity of its claim.' 'Rest assured,' He added, 'the grace of the Almighty shall enable you to fortify the faint in heart and to make firm the step of the waverer. So great shall be your faith that should the enemy mutilate and tear your body to pieces, in the hope of lessening by one jot or tittle the ardour of your love, he would fail to attain his object. You will, no doubt, in the days to come, meet face to face Him who is the Lord of all the worlds, and will partake of the joy of His presence.' These words dispelled the gloom of my apprehensions. From that day onward, no trace of either fear or agitation ever again cast its shadow upon me." 



[314] The detention of the Bab outside the gate of Tabriz failed to allay the excitement which reigned in the city. Every measure of precaution, every restriction, which the authorities had imposed, served only to aggravate a situation which had already become ominous and menacing. Haji Mirza Aqasi issued his orders for the immediate convocation of the ecclesiastical dignitaries of Tabriz in the official residence of the governor of Adhirbayjan for the express purpose of arraigning the Bab and of seeking the most effective means for the extinction of His influence. Haji Mulla Mahmud, entitled the Nizamu'l-'Ulama', who was the tutor of Nasiri'd-Din Mirza the Vali-'Ahd,4 Mulla Muhammad-i-Mamaqani, Mirza 'Ali-Asghar the Shaykhu'l-Islam, and a number of the most distinguished shaykhis and doctors of divinity were among those who had convened for that purpose.5 Nasiri'd-Din Mirza himself attended that [315] gathering. The presidency belonged to the Nizamu'l-'Ulama', who, as soon as the proceedings had begun, in the name of the assembly commissioned an officer of the army to introduce the Bab into their presence. A multitude of people had meanwhile besieged the entrance of the hall and were impatiently awaiting the time when they could catch a glimpse of His face. They were pressing forward in such large numbers that a passage had to be forced for Him through the crowd that had collected before the gate.


Upon His arrival, the Bab observed that every seat in that hall was occupied except one which had been reserved for the Vali-'Ahd. He greeted the assembly and, without the slightest hesitation, proceeded to occupy that vacant seat. The majesty of His gait, 


the expression of overpowering confidence which sat upon His brow—above all, the spirit of power which shone from His whole being, appeared to have for a moment crushed the soul out of the body of those whom He had greeted. A deep, a mysterious silence, suddenly fell upon them. Not one soul in that distinguished assembly dared breathe a single word. At last the stillness which brooded over them was broken by the Nizamu'l-'Ulama'. "Whom do you claim to be," he asked the Bab, "and what is the message which you have brought?" "I am," thrice exclaimed the Bab, "I am, I am, the promised One! I am the One whose name you have for a thousand years invoked, at whose 


[316] mention you have risen, whose advent you have longed to witness, and the hour of whose Revelation you have prayed God to hasten. Verily I say, it is incumbent upon the peoples of both the East and the West to obey My word and to pledge allegiance to My person." No one ventured to reply except Mulla Muhammad-i-Mamaqani, a leader of the shaykhi community who had been himself a disciple of Siyyid Kazim. It was he on whose unfaithfulness and insincerity the siyyid had tearfully remarked, and the perversity of whose nature he had deplored. Shaykh Hasan-i-Zunuzi, who had heard Siyyid Kazim make these criticisms, recounted to me the following: "I was greatly surprised at the tone of his reference to Mulla Muhammad, and was curious to know what his future behaviour would be so as to merit such expressions of pity and condemnation from his master. Not until I discovered his attitude that day towards the Bab did I realise the extent of his arrogance and blindness. I was standing together with other people outside the hall, and was able to follow the conversation of those who were within. Mulla Muhammad was seated on the left hand of the Vali-'Ahd. The Bab was occupying a seat between them. Immediately after He had declared Himself to be the promised One, a feeling of awe seized those who were present. They had dropped their heads in silent confusion. The pallor of their faces betrayed the agitation of their hearts. Mulla Muhammad, that one-eyed and white-bearded renegade, insolently reprimanded Him, saying: 'You wretched and immature lad of Shiraz! You have already convulsed and [317] subverted Iraq; do you now wish to arouse a like turmoil in Adhirbayjan?' 'Your Honour,' replied the Bab, 'I have not come hither of My own accord. I have been summoned to this place.' 'Hold your peace,' furiously retorted Mulla Muhammad, 'you perverse and contemptible follower of Satan!' 'Your Honour,' the Bab again answered, 'I maintain what I have already declared.'


"The Nizamu'l-'Ulama' uthought it best to challenge His Mission openly. 'The claim which you have advanced,' he told the Bab, 'is a stupendous one; it must needs be supported 


by the most incontrovertible evidence.' 'The mightiest, the most convincing evidence of the truth of the Mission of the Prophet of God,' the Bab replied, 'is admittedly His own Word. He Himself testifies to this truth: "Is it not enough for them that We have sent down to Thee the Book?"6 The power to produce such evidence has been given to Me by God. Within the space of two days and two nights, I declare Myself able to reveal verses of such number as will equal the whole of the Qur'an.' 'Describe orally, if you speak the truth,' the Nizamu'l-'Ulama' requested, 'the proceedings of this gathering in language that will resemble the phraseology of the verses of the Qur'an so that the Vali-'Ahd and the assembled divines may bear witness to the truth of your claim.' The Bab readily acceded to his wish. No sooner had He uttered the words, 'In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate, praise be to Him who has [318] created the heaven and the earth,' than Mulla Muhammad-i-Mamaqani interrupted and called His attention to an infraction of the rules of grammar. 'This self-appointed Qa'im of ours,' he cried in haughty scorn, 'has at the very start of his address betrayed his ignorance of the most rudimentary rules of grammar!' 'The Qur'an itself,' pleaded the Bab, 'does in no wise accord with the rules and conventions current amongst men. The Word of God can never be subject to the limitations 


[319] of His creatures. Nay, the rules and canons which men have adopted have been deduced from the text of the Word of God and are based upon it. These men have, in the very texts of that holy Book, discovered no less than three hundred instances of grammatical error, such as the one you now criticise. Inasmuch as it was the Word of God, they had no other alternative except to resign themselves to His will.'7


"He then repeated the same words He had uttered, to which Mulla Muhammad raised again the same objection. Shortly after, another person ventured to put this question to the Bab: 'To which tense does the word Ishtartanna belong?' In answer to him, the Bab quoted this verse of the Qur'an: 'Far be the glory of thy Lord, the Lord of all greatness, from what they impute to Him, and peace be upon His Apostles! And praise be to God, the Lord of the worlds.' Immediately after, He arose and left the gathering."8


The Nizamu'l-'Ulama' was sorely displeased at the manner in which the meeting had been conducted. "How shameful," he was heard to exclaim later, "is the discourtesy of the people of Tabriz! What could possibly be the connection between these idle remarks and the consideration of such weighty, such momentous issues?" A few others were likewise [320] inclined to denounce the disgraceful treatment meted out to the Bab on that occasion. Mulla Muhammad-i-Mamaqani, however, persisted in his vehement denunciations. "I warn you," he loudly protested, "if you allow this youth to pursue unhampered the course of his activities, the day will come when the entire population of Tabriz will have flocked to his standard. Should he, when that day arrives, signify his wish that all the ulamas of Tabriz, that the Vali-'Ahd himself, should be expelled from the city and that he should alone assume the reins of civil and ecclesiastical authority, no one of you, who now view with apathy his cause, will feel able to oppose him effectually. The entire city, nay the whole province of Adhirbayjan, will on that day unanimously support him."


The persistent denunciations of that evil plotter excited the apprehensions of the authorities of Tabriz. Those who held the reins of power in their grasp took counsel together as to the most effective measures to be taken to resist the progress of His Faith. Some urged that in view of the marked disrespect which the Bab had shown to the Vali-'Ahd in occupying his seat without his leave, and because of His failure to obtain the consent of the chairman of that gathering when He arose to depart, He should be summoned again to a like gathering and should receive from the hands of its members a humiliating punishment. Nasiri'd-Din Mirza, however, refused to entertain this proposal. Finally it was decided that the Bab should be brought to the home of Mirza 'Ali-Asghar, who was both the Shaykhu'l-Islam of Tabriz and a siyyid, and should receive at the hands of the governor's bodyguard the chastisement which He deserved. The guard refused to accede to this request, preferring not to interfere in a matter which they regarded as the sole concern of the ulamas of the city. The Shaykhu'l-Islam himself decided to inflict the punishment. He summoned the Bab to his home, and with his hand eleven times applied the rods to His feet.9 

[321] 

That same year this insolent tyrant was struck with paralysis, and, after enduring the most excruciating pain, died a miserable death. His treacherous, avaricious, and self-seeking character was universally recognised by the people of Tabriz. Notoriously cruel and sordid, he was feared and despised by the people who groaned under his yoke and prayed for deliverance. The abject circumstances of his death reminded both his friends and his opponents of the punishment which must necessarily await those whom neither the fear of God nor the voice of conscience can deter from behaving with such perfidious cruelty towards their fellow men. After his death the functions of the Shaykhu'l-Islam were abolished in Tabriz. Such was his infamy that the very name of the institution with which he had been associated came to be abhorred by the people.


And yet his behaviour, base and treacherous as it was, was only one instance of the villainous conduct which characterised the attitude of the ecclesiastical leaders among his countrymen towards the Bab. How far and how grievously have these erred from the path of fairness and justice! How contemptuously have they cast away the counsels of the Prophet of God and the admonitions of the imams of the Faith! Have not these explicitly declared that "should a [322] Youth from Bani-Hashim10 be made manifest and summon the people to a new Book and to new laws, all should hasten to Him and embrace His Cause"? Although these same imams have clearly stated that "most of His enemies shall be the ulamas," yet these blind and ignoble people have chosen to follow the example of their leaders and to regard their conduct as the pattern of righteousness and justice. They walk in their footsteps, implicitly obey their orders, and deem themselves the "people of salvation," the "chosen of God," and the "custodians of His Truth."


From Tabriz the Bab was taken back to Chihriq, where He was again entrusted to the keeping of Yahya Khan. His persecutors had fondly imagined that by summoning Him to their presence they would, through threats and intimidation, induce Him to abandon His Mission. That gathering enabled the Bab to set forth emphatically, in the presence of the most illustrious dignitaries assembled in the capital of Adhirbayjan, the distinguishing features of His claim, and to confute, in brief and convincing language, the arguments of His adversaries. The news of that momentous declaration, fraught with such far-reaching consequences, spread rapidly throughout Persia and stirred again more deeply the feelings of the disciples of the Bab. It reanimated their zeal, reinforced their position, and was a signal for the tremendous happenings that were soon to convulse that land. 


[323] No sooner had the Bab returned to Chihriq than He wrote in bold and moving language a denunciation of the character and action of Haji Mirza Aqasi. In the opening passages of that epistle, which was given the name of the Khutbiy-i-Qahriyyih,11 the Author addresses the Grand Vazir of Muhammad Shah in these terms: "O thou who hast disbelieved in God and hast turned thy face away from His signs!" That lengthy epistle was forwarded to Hujjat, who, in those days, was confined in Tihran. He was instructed to deliver it in person to Haji Mirza Aqasi.


I was privileged to hear the following account from the lips of Baha'u'llah while in the prison-city of 'Akka: "Mulla Muhammad-'Aliy-i-Zanjani, soon after he had delivered that Tablet to Haji Mirza Aqasi, came and visited me. I was in the company of Mirza Masih-i-Nuri and a number of other believers when he arrived. He recounted the circumstances attending the delivery of the Tablet, and recited before us the entire text, which was about three pages in length, and which he had committed to memory." The tone of Baha'u'llah's reference to Hujjat indicated how greatly pleased He was with the purity and nobleness of his life, and how much He admired his undaunted courage, his indomitable will, his unworldliness, and his unwavering constancy. 


FOOTNOTES


18.1. Qur'an, 29:2.


18.2. The heir to the throne. 


18.3. Literally meaning "great."


18.4. Born July 17, 1831; began to reign September, 1848, died 1896. "This Prince left Tihran to return to his government the twenty-third of January, 1848. His father having died the fourth of September, he returned to assume the title of Shah on the eighteenth of September of the same year." (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab," p. 243, note 195.) 


18.5. "A Traveller's Narrative" (p. 19) mentions in addition the name of Mirza Ahmad, the Imam-Jum'ih.


18.6. Qur'an, 29:51.


18.7. "If anyone should raise an objection to the grammar or syntax of these verses, this objection is vain, because the rules of grammar should be taken from the verses and not the verses written in compliance with the rules of grammar. There is no doubt that the Master of these verses denied these rules, denied that he, himself, was ever aware of them." ("Le Bayan Persan," vol. 1, pp. 45-46.) 


18.8. "And as for the Muslim accounts, those which we have before us do not bear the stamp of truth: they seem to be forgeries. Knowing what we do of the Bab, it is probable that he had the best of the argument, and that the doctors and functionaries who attended the meeting were unwilling to put upon record their own fiasco." (Dr. T. K. Cheyne's "The Reconciliation of Races and Religions," p. 62.) "It is difficult to decide to what measure of credence the above narrative [the Muhammadan version of the examination of the Bab at Tabriz] is entitled. Very probably such questions as are there recorded—and assuredly some of them are sufficiently frivolous and even indecent—were asked; but, even though the Bab may have been unable to answer them, it is far more likely that, as stated in the 'Tarikh-i-Jadid,' he preserved a dignified silence than that he gave utterance to the absurdities attributed to him by the Muhammadan writers. These, indeed, spoil their own case; for, desiring to prove that the Bab was not endowed with superhuman wisdom, they represent him as displaying an ignorance which we can scarcely credit. That the whole examination was a farce throughout, that the sentence was a foregone conclusion, that no serious attempt to apprehend the nature and evidence of the Bab's claim and doctrine was made, and that from first to last a systematic course of browbeating, irony, and mockery was pursued appear to me to be facts proved no less by the Muhammadan than by the Babi accounts of these inquisitorial proceedings." ("A Traveller's Narrative," Note M, p. 290.)


18.9. The following is Dr. Cormick's account of his personal impressions of Mirza 'Ali-Muhammad the Bab, extracted from letters written by him to the Rev. Benjamin Labaree, D.D. (Dr. Cormick was an English physician long resident in Tabriz, where he was highly respected. The document was communicated to Professor E. G. Browne, of Cambridge University, by Mr. W. A. Shedd, who wrote concerning it, in a letter dated March 1, 1911: "Dear Professor Browne, In going over papers of my father (the late Rev. J. H. Shedd, D.D., of the American Mission at Urumiyyih, Persia, of the same mission as Dr. Benjamin Labaree), I found something which I think may be of value from a historical point of view. I have no books here, nor are any accessible here, to be certain whether this bit of testimony has been used or not. I think probably not, and I am sure that I can do nothing better than send them to you, with the wish that you may use them as you think best. Of the authenticity of the papers there can be no doubt.") 


"You ask me for some particulars of my interview with the founder of the sect known as Babis. Nothing of any importance transpired in this interview, as the Bab was aware of my having been sent with two other Persian doctors to see whether he was of sane mind or merely a madman, to decide the question whether to put him to death or not. With this knowledge he was loth to answer any questions put to him. To all enquiries he merely regarded us with a mild look, chanting in a low melodious voice some hymns, I suppose. Two other Siyyids, his intimate friends, were also present, who subsequently were put to death with him, besides a couple of government officials. He only once deigned to answer me, on my saying that I was not a Musulman and was willing to know something about his religion, as I might perhaps be inclined to adopt it. He regarded me very intently on my saying this, and replied that he had no doubt of all Europeans coming over to his religion. Our report to the Shah at that time was of a nature to spare his life. He was put to death some time after by the order of the Amir-Nizam Mirza Taqi Khan. On our report he merely got the bastinado, in which operation a farrash, whether intentionally or not, struck him across the face with the stick destined for his feet, which produced a great wound and swelling of the face. On being asked whether a Persian surgeon should be brought to treat him, he expressed a desire that I should be sent for, and I accordingly treated him for a few days, but in the interviews consequent on this I could never get him to have a confidential chat with me, as some government people were always present, he being a prisoner. He was very thankful for my attentions to him. He was a very mild and delicate-looking man, rather small in stature and very fair for a Persian, with a melodious soft voice, which struck me much. Being a Siyyid, he was dressed in the habit of that sect, as were also his two companions. In fact his whole look and deportment went far to dispose one in his favour. Of his doctrine I heard nothing from his own lips, although the idea was that there existed in his religion a certain approach to Christianity. He was seen by some Armenian carpenters, who were sent to make some repairs in his prison, reading the Bible, and he took no pains to conceal it, but on the contrary told them of it. Most assuredly the Musulman fanaticism does not exist in his religion, as applied to Christians, nor is there that restraint of females that now exists." In connection with this document, Professor Browne writes as follows: "The first of these two documents is very valuable as giving the personal impression produced by the Bab, during the period of his imprisonment and suffering, on a cultivated and impartial Western mind. Very few Western Christians can have had the opportunity of seeing, still less of conversing with, the Bab, and I do not know of any other who has recorded his impressions." (E. G. Browne's "Materials for the Study of the Babi Religion," pp. 260-62, 264.)


18.10. Hashim was the great-grandfather of Muhammad.


18.11. Literally "Sermon of Wrath."



CHAPTER XIX

THE MAZINDARAN UPHEAVAL


[324] In the same month of Sha'ban that witnessed the indignities inflicted upon the Bab in Tabriz, and the afflictions which befell Baha'u'llah and His companions in Niyala, Mulla Husayn returned from the camp of Prince Hamzih Mirza to Mashhad, from which place he was to proceed seven days later to Karbila, accompanied by whomsoever he might desire. The prince offered him a sum to defray the expenses of his journey, an offer that he declined, sending the money back with a message requesting him to expend it for the relief of the poor and needy. 'Abdu'l-'Ali Khan likewise volunteered to provide all the requirements of Mulla Husayn's intended pilgrimage, and expressed his eagerness to pay also the expenses of whomsoever he might choose to accompany him. All that he accepted from him was a sword and a horse, both of which he was destined to utilise with consummate bravery and skill in repulsing the assaults of a treacherous enemy.


My pen can never adequately describe the devotion which Mulla Husayn had kindled in the hearts of the people of Mashhad, nor can it seek to fathom the extent of his influence. His house, in those days, was continually besieged by crowds of eager people who begged to be allowed to accompany him on his contemplated journey. Mothers brought their sons, and sisters their brothers, and tearfully implored him to accept them as their most cherished offerings on the Altar of Sacrifice.


Mulla Husayn was still in Mashhad when a messenger arrived bearing to him the Bab's turban and conveying the news that a new name, that of Siyyid 'Ali, had been conferred upon him by his Master. "Adorn your head," was the message, "with My green turban, the emblem of My lineage, and, with the Black Standard1 unfurled before you, [325] hasten to the Jaziriy-i-Khadra',2 and lend your assistance to My beloved Quddus."


As soon as that message reached him, Mulla Husayn arose to execute the wishes of his Master. Leaving Mashhad for a place situated at a farsang's3 distance from the city, he hoisted the Black Standard, placed the turban of the Bab upon his head, assembled his companions, mounted his steed, and gave the signal for their march to the Jaziriy-i-Khadra'. His companions, who were two hundred and two in number, enthusiastically followed him. That memorable day was the nineteenth of Sha'ban, in the year 1264 A.H.4 Wherever they tarried, at every village and hamlet through which they passed, Mulla Husayn and his fellow-disciples would fearlessly proclaim the message of the New Day, would invite the people to embrace its truth, and would select from among those who responded to their call a few whom they would ask to join them on their journey.


In the town of Nishapur, Haji 'Abdu'l-Majid, the father of Badi',5 who was a merchant of note, enlisted under the banner of Mulla Husayn. Though his father enjoyed an unrivalled prestige as the owner of the best-known turquoise mine of Nishapur, he, forsaking all the honours and material benefits that his native town had conferred upon him, pledged his undivided loyalty to Mulla Husayn. In the village of Miyamay, thirty among its inhabitants declared their faith 


[326] and joined that company. All of them, with the exception of Mulla 'Isa, fell martyrs in the fort of Shaykh Tabarsi.6


Arriving at Chashmih-'Ali, a place situated near the town of Damghan and on the highroad to Mazindaran, Mulla Husayn decided to break his journey and to tarry there for a few days. He encamped under the shadow of a big tree, by the side of a running stream. "We stand at the parting of the ways," he told his companions. "We shall await His decree as to which direction we should take." Towards the end of the month of Shavval,7 a fierce gale arose and struck down a large branch of that tree; whereupon Mulla Husayn observed: "The tree of the sovereignty of Muhammad Shah has, by the will of God, been uprooted and hurled to the ground." On the third day after he had uttered that prediction, a messenger, who was on his way to Mashhad, arrived from Tihran and reported the death of his sovereign.8 The following day, the company determined to leave for Mazindaran. As their leader arose to depart, he pointed in the direction of Mazindaran and said: "This is the way that leads to our Karbila. Whoever is unprepared for the great trials that lie before us, let him now repair to his home and give up the journey." He several times repeated that warning, and, as he approached Savad-Kuh, explicitly declared: "I, together with seventy-two of my companions, shall suffer death for the sake of the Well-Beloved. Whoso is unable to renounce the world, let him now, at this very moment, depart, for later on he will be unable to escape." Twenty of his companions chose to return, feeling themselves powerless to withstand the trials to which their chief continually alluded. 



[328] The news of their approach to the town of Barfurush alarmed the Sa'idu'l-'Ulama'. The widespread and growing popularity of Mulla Husayn, the circumstances attending his departure from Mashhad, the Black Standard which waved before him—above all, the number, the discipline, and the enthusiasm of his companions, combined to arouse the implacable hatred of that cruel and overbearing mujtahid. He bade the crier summon the people of Barfurush to the masjid and announce that a sermon of such momentous consequence was to be delivered by him that no loyal adherent of Islam in that neighbourhood could afford to ignore it. An immense crowd of men and women thronged the masjid, saw him ascend the pulpit, fling his turban to the ground, tear open the neck of his shirt, and bewail the plight into which the Faith had fallen. "Awake," he thundered from the pulpit, "for our enemies stand at our very doors, ready to wipe out all that we cherish as pure and holy in Islam! Should we fail to resist them, none will be left to survive their onslaught. He who is the leader of that band came alone, one day, and attended my classes. He utterly ignored me and treated me with marked disdain in the presence of my assembled disciples. As I refused to accord him the honours which he expected, he angrily arose and flung me his challenge. This man had the temerity, at a time when Muhammad Shah was seated upon his throne and was at the height of his power, to assail me with so much bitterness. What excesses this stirrer-up of mischief, who is now advancing at the head of his savage band, will not commit now that the protecting hand of Muhammad Shah has been suddenly withdrawn! It is the duty of all the inhabitants of Barfurush, both young and old, both men and women, to arm themselves against these contemptible wreckers of Islam, and by every means in their power to resist their onset. To-morrow, at the hour of dawn, let all of you arise and march out to exterminate their forces."


The entire congregation arose in response to his call. His passionate eloquence, the undisputed authority he exercised over them, and the dread of the loss of their own lives and property, combined to induce the inhabitants of that town to make every possible preparation for the coming [329] encounter. They armed themselves with every weapon which they could either find or devise, and set out at break of day from the town of Barfurush, fully determined to face and slay the enemies of their Faith and to plunder their property.9


As soon as Mulla Husayn had determined to pursue the way that led to Mazindaran, he, immediately after he had offered his morning prayer, bade his companions discard all their possessions. "Leave behind all your belongings," he urged them, "and content yourselves only with your steeds and swords, that all may witness your renunciation of all earthly things, and may realise that this little band of God's chosen companions has no desire to safeguard its own property, much less to covet the property of others." Instantly they all obeyed and, unburdening their steeds, arose and joyously followed him. The father of Badi' was the first to throw aside his satchel, which contained a considerable amount of turquoise which he had brought with him from the mine that belonged to his father. One word from Mulla Husayn proved sufficient to induce him to fling by the roadside what was undoubtedly his most treasured possession, and to cling to the desire of his leader.


At a farsang's10 distance from Barfurush, Mulla Husayn and his companions encountered their enemies. A multitude of people, fully equipped with arms and ammunition, had gathered, and blocked their way. A fierce expression of savagery rested upon their countenances, and the foulest [330] imprecations fell unceasingly from their lips. The companions, in the face of the uproar of this angry populace, made as if to unsheathe their swords. "Not yet," commanded their leader; "not until the aggressor forces us to protect ourselves must our swords leave their scabbards." He had scarcely uttered these words when the fire of the enemy was directed against them. Six of the companions were immediately hurled to the ground. "Beloved leader," exclaimed one of them, "we have risen and followed you with no desire except to sacrifice ourselves in the path of the Cause we have embraced. Allow us, we pray you, to defend ourselves, and suffer us not to fall so disgracefully a victim to the fire of the enemy." "The time is not yet come," replied Mulla Husayn; "the number is as yet incomplete." A bullet immediately after pierced the breast of one of his companions, a siyyid from Yazd11 who had walked all the way from Mashhad to that place, and who ranked among his staunchest supporters. At the sight of that devoted companion fallen dead at his feet, Mulla Husayn raised his eyes to heaven and prayed: "Behold, O God, my God, the plight of Thy chosen companions, and witness the welcome which these people have accorded Thy loved ones. Thou knowest that we cherish no other desire than to guide them to the way of Truth and to confer upon them the knowledge of Thy Revelation. Thou hast Thyself commanded us to defend our lives against the assaults of the enemy. Faithful to Thy command, I now arise with my companions to resist the attack which they have launched against us."12


Unsheathing his sword and spurring on his charger into the midst of the enemy, Mulla Husayn pursued, with marvellous intrepidity, the assailant of his fallen companion. His opponent, who was afraid to face him, took refuge behind a tree and, holding aloft his musket, sought to shield himself. Mulla Husayn immediately recognised him, rushed [331] forward, and with a single stroke of his sword cut across the trunk of the tree, the barrel of the musket, and the body of his adversary.13 The astounding force of that stroke confounded the enemy and paralysed their efforts. All fled panic-stricken in the face of so extraordinary a manifestation of skill, of strength, and of courage. This feat was the first of its kind to attest to the prowess and heroism of Mulla Husayn, a feat which earned him the commendation of the Bab. Quddus likewise paid his tribute to the cool fearlessness which Mulla Husayn displayed on that occasion. He is reported to have quoted, when informed of the news, the following verse of the Qur'an: "So it was not ye who slew them, but God who slew them; and those shafts were God's, not thine! He would make trial of the faithful by a gracious trial from Himself: verily, God heareth, knoweth. This befell, that God might also bring to naught the craft of the infidels."


I myself, when in Tihran, in the year 1265 A.H.,14 a month after the conclusion of the memorable struggle of Shaykh Tabarsi, heard Mirza Ahmad relate the circumstances of this incident in the presence of a number of believers, among whom were Mirza Muhammad-Husayn-i-Hakamiy-i-Kirmani, Haji Mulla Isma'il-i-Farahani, Mirza Habibu'llah-i-Isfahani, and Siyyid Muhammad-i-Isfahani.


When, at a later time, I visited Khurasan and was staying at the home of Mulla Sadiq-i-Khurasani in Mashhad, where I had been invited to teach the Cause, I asked Mirza Muhammad-i-Furughi, [332] in the presence of a number of believers, among whom were Nabil-i-Akbar and the father of Badi', to enlighten me regarding the true character of that amazing report. Mirza Muhammad emphatically declared: "I myself was a witness to this act of Mulla Husayn. Had I not seen it with my own eyes, I never would have believed it." In this connection, the same Mirza Muhammad related to us the following story: "After the engagement of Vas-Kas, when Prince Mihdi-Quli Mirza was completely routed, and had fled barefooted from the face of the companions of the Bab, the Amir-Nizam15 severely rebuked him. 'I have charged you,' he wrote him, 'with the mission of subduing a handful of young and contemptible students. I have placed at your disposal the army of the Shah, and yet you have allowed it to suffer such a disgraceful defeat. What would have befallen you, I wonder, had I entrusted you with the mission of defeating the combined forces of the Russian and Ottoman governments?' The prince thought it best to entrust a messenger with the fragments of the barrel of that same rifle which was cleft in twain by the sword of Mulla Husayn, and to instruct him to present them, in person, to the Amir-Nizam. 'Such is,' was his message to the Amir, 'the contemptible strength of an adversary who, with a single stroke of his sword, has shattered into six pieces the tree, the musket, and its holder.'


"So convincing a testimony of the strength of his opponent constituted, in the eyes of the Amir-Nizam, a challenge [333] which no man of his position and authority could afford to ignore. He resolved to curb the power which, by so daring an act, had sought to assert itself against his forces. Unable, in spite of the overwhelming number of his men, to defeat Mulla Husayn and his companions fairly and honourably, he meanly resorted to treachery and fraud as instruments for the attainment of his purpose. He ordered the prince to affix his seal to the Qur'an and pledge the honour of his officers that they would henceforth abstain from any act of hostility towards the occupants of the fort. By this means he was able to induce them to lay down their arms, and to inflict upon his defenceless opponents a crushing and inglorious defeat."


Such a remarkable display of dexterity and strength could not fail to attract the attention of a considerable number of observers whose minds had remained, as yet, untainted by prejudice or malice. It evoked the enthusiasm of poets who, in different cities of Persia, were moved to celebrate the exploits of the author of so daring an act. Their poems helped to diffuse the knowledge, and to immortalise the memory, of that mighty deed. Among those who paid their tribute to the valour of Mulla Husayn was a certain Rida-Quli Khan-i-Lalih-Bashi, who, in the "Tarikh-i-Nasiri," lavished his praise on the prodigious strength and the unrivalled skill which had characterised that stroke.


I ventured to ask Mirza Muhammad-i-Furughi whether he was aware that in the "Nasikhu't-Tavarikh" mention had been made of the fact that Mulla Husayn had, in his early youth, been instructed in the art of swordsmanship, that he had acquired his proficiency only after a considerable period of training. "This is sheer fabrication," affirmed Mulla Muhammad. "I have known him from his childhood, and have been associated with him, as a classmate and friend, for a long time. I have never known him to be possessed of such strength and power. I even deem myself superior in vigour and bodily endurance. His hand trembled as he wrote, and he often expressed his inability to write as fully and as frequently as he wished. He was greatly handicapped in this respect, and he continued to suffer from its effects until his journey to Mazindaran. The moment he unsheathed 


[334] his sword, however, to repulse that savage attack, a mysterious power seemed to have suddenly transformed him. In all subsequent encounters, he was seen to be the first to spring forward and spur on his charger into the camp of the aggressor. Unaided, he would face and fight the combined forces of his opponents and would himself achieve the victory. We, who followed him in the rear, had to content ourselves with those who had already been disabled and were weakened by the blows they had sustained. His name alone was sufficient to strike terror into the hearts of his adversaries. They fled at mention of him; they trembled at his approach. Even those who were his constant companions were mute with wonder before him. We were stunned by the display of his stupendous force, his indomitable will and complete intrepidity. We were all convinced that he had ceased to be the Mulla Husayn whom we had known, and that in him resided a spirit which God alone could bestow."


This same Mirza Muhammad-i-Furughi related to me the following: "Mulla Husayn had no sooner dealt his memorable blow to his adversary than he disappeared from our sight. We knew not whither he had gone. His attendant, Qambar-'Ali, alone could follow him. He subsequently informed us that his master threw himself headlong upon his enemies, and was able with a single stroke of his sword to strike down each of those who dared assail him. Unmindful of the bullets that rained upon him, he forced his way through the ranks of the enemy and headed for Barfurush. He rode straight to the residence of the Sa'idu'l-'Ulama', thrice made the circuit of his house, and cried out: 'Let that contemptible 


[336] coward, who has incited the inhabitants of this town to wage holy warfare against us and has ignominiously concealed himself behind the walls of his house, emerge from his inglorious retreat. Let him, by his example, demonstrate the sincerity of his appeal and the righteousness of his cause. Has he forgotten that he who preaches a holy war must needs himself march at the head of his followers, and by his own deeds kindle their devotion and sustain their enthusiasm?'"


The voice of Mulla Husayn drowned the clamour of the multitude. The inhabitants of Barfurush surrendered and soon raised the cry, "Peace, peace!" No sooner had the voice of surrender been raised than the acclamations of the followers of Mulla Husayn, who at that moment were seen galloping towards Barfurush, were heard from every side. The cry of "Ya Sahibu'z-Zaman!"16 which they shouted at the top of their voices, struck dismay into the hearts of those who heard it. The companions of Mulla Husayn, who had abandoned the hope of again finding him alive, were greatly surprised when they saw him seated erect upon his horse, unhurt and unaffected by the fierceness of that onset. Each reverently approached him and kissed his stirrups.


On the afternoon of that day, the peace which the inhabitants of Barfurush had implored was granted. To the crowd which had gathered about him, Mulla Husayn spoke these words: "O followers of the Prophet of God, and shi'ahs of the imams of His Faith! Why have you risen against us? Why deem the shedding of our blood an act meritorious in the sight of God? Did we ever repudiate the truth of your Faith? Is this the hospitality which the Apostle of God has enjoined His followers to accord to both the faithful and the infidel? What have we done to merit such condemnation on your part? Consider: I alone, with no other weapon than my sword, have been able to face the rain of bullets which the inhabitants of Barfurush have poured upon me, and have emerged unscathed from the midst of the fire with which you have besieged me. Both my person and my horse have escaped unhurt from your overwhelming attack. Except for the slight scratch which I received on my face, you have [337] been powerless to wound me. God has protected me and willed to establish in your eyes the ascendancy of His Faith."


Immediately afterwards, Mulla Husayn proceeded to the caravanserai of Sabzih-Maydan. He dismounted and, standing at the entrance of the inn, awaited the arrival of his companions. As soon as they had gathered and been accommodated in that place, he sent for bread and water. Those who had been commissioned to fetch them returned empty-handed, and informed him that they had been unable to procure either bread from the baker or water from the public square. "You have exhorted us," they told him, "to put our trust in God and to resign ourselves to His will. 'Nothing can befall us but what God hath destined for us. Our liege Lord is He; and on God let the faithful trust!'"17


Mulla Husayn ordered that the gates of the caravanserai be closed. Assembling his companions, he begged them to remain gathered in his presence until the hour of sunset. As the evening approached, he asked whether any among them would be willing to arise and, renouncing his life for the sake of his Faith, ascend to the roof of the caravanserai and sound the adhan.18 A youth gladly responded. No sooner had the opening words of "Allah-u-Akbar" dropped from his lips than a bullet suddenly struck him and immediately caused his death. "Let another one among you arise," [338] Mulla Husayn urged them, "and, with the selfsame renunciation, proceed with the prayer which that youth was unable to finish." Another youth started to his feet, and had no sooner uttered the words, "I bear witness that Muhammad is the Apostle of God," than he also was struck down by another bullet from the enemy. A third youth, at the bidding of his chief, attempted to complete the prayer which his martyred companions had been forced to leave unfinished. He, too, suffered the same fate. As he was approaching the end of his prayer, and was uttering the words, "There is no God but God," he, in his turn, fell dead.


The fall of his third companion decided Mulla Husayn to throw open the gate of the caravanserai, and to arise, together with his friends, to repulse this unexpected attack from a treacherous enemy. Leaping on horseback, he gave the signal to charge upon the assailants who had massed before the gates and had filled the Sabzih-Maydan. Sword in hand, and followed by his companions, he succeeded in decimating the forces that had been arrayed against him. Those few who had escaped their swords fled before them in panic, again pleading for peace, again imploring mercy. With the approach of evening, the entire crowd had vanished. The Sabzih-Maydan, which a few hours before overflowed with a seething mass of opponents, was now deserted. The clamour of the multitude was stilled. Bestrewn with the bodies of the slain, the Maydan and its surroundings offered a sad and moving spectacle, a scene which bore witness to the victory of God over His enemies.


So startling a victory19 induced a number of the nobles and chiefs of the people to intervene and beseech the mercy of Mulla Husayn on behalf of their fellow-citizens. They came on foot to submit to him their petition. "God is our witness," they pleaded, "that we harbour no intention but [339] that of establishing peace and reconciliation between us. Remain seated on your charger for a while, until we have explained our motive." Observing the earnestness of their appeal, Mulla Husayn dismounted and invited them to join him in the caravanserai. "We, unlike the people of this town, know how to receive the stranger in our midst," he said, as he invited them to be seated beside him and ordered that they be served with tea. "The Sa'idu'l-'Ulama'," they replied, "was alone responsible for having kindled the fire of so much mischief. The people of Barfurush should in no wise be implicated in the crime which he has committed. Let the past be now forgotten. We would suggest, in the interest of both parties, that you and your companions leave to-morrow for Amul. Barfurush is in the throes of great excitement; we fear lest they may again be instigated to attack you." Mulla Husayn, though hinting at the insincerity of the people, consented to their proposal; whereupon 'Abbas-Quli Khan-i-Larijani20 and Haji Mustafa Khan arose together and, swearing by the Qur'an which they had brought with them, solemnly declared their intention to regard them as their guests that night, and the following day to instruct Khusraw-i-Qadi-Kala'i21 and a hundred horsemen to ensure their safe passage through Shir-Gah. "The malediction of God and His Prophets be upon us, both in this world and [340] in the next," they added, "if we ever allow the slightest injury to be inflicted upon you and your party."


As soon as they had made their declaration, their friends who had gone to fetch food for the companions and fodder for their horses, arrived. Mulla Husayn bade his fellow-believers break their fast, inasmuch as none of them that day, which was Friday, the twelfth of the month of Dhi'l-Qa'dih,22 had taken any meat or drink since the hour of dawn. So great was the number of notables and their attendants that had crowded into the caravanserai that day that neither he nor any of his companions had partaken of the tea which they had offered to their visitors.


That night, about four hours after sunset, Mulla Husayn, together with his friends, dined in the company of 'Abbas-Quli Khan and Haji Mustafa Khan. In the middle of that same night, the Sa'idu'l-'Ulama' summoned Khusraw-i-Qadi-Kala'i and confidentially intimated to him his desire that, at any time or place he himself might decide, the entire property of the party which had been entrusted to his charge should be seized, and that they themselves, without a single exception, should be put to death. "Are these not the followers of Islam?" Khusraw observed. "Have not these same people, as I have already learned, preferred to sacrifice three of their companions rather than leave unfinished the call to prayer which they had raised? How could we, who cherish such designs and perpetrate such acts, be regarded as worthy of that name?" That shameless miscreant insisted that his orders be faithfully obeyed. "Slay them," he said, as he pointed with his finger to his neck, "and be not afraid. I hold myself responsible for your act. I will, on the Day of Judgment, be answerable to God in your name. We, who wield the sceptre of authority, are surely better informed than you, and can better judge how best to extirpate this heresy."


At the hour of sunrise, 'Abbas-Quli Khan asked that Khusraw be conducted into his presence, and bade him exercise the utmost consideration towards Mulla Husayn and his companions, to ensure their safe passage through Shir-Gah, and to refuse whatever rewards they might wish to offer him. [341] Khusraw feigned submission to these instructions and assured him that neither he nor his horsemen would relax in their vigilance or flinch in their devotion to them. "On our return," he added, "we shall show you his own written expression of satisfaction with the services we shall have rendered him."


When Khusraw was taken by 'Abbas-Quli Khan and Haji Mustafa Khan and other representative leaders of Barfurush into the presence of Mulla Husayn and was introduced to him, the latter remarked: "'If ye do well, it will redound to your own advantage; and if ye do evil, the evil will return upon you.'23 If this man should treat us well, great shall be his reward; and if he act treacherously towards us, great shall be his punishment. To God would we commit our Cause, and to His will are we wholly resigned."


Mulla Husayn spoke these words and gave the signal for departure. Once more Qambar-'Ali was heard to raise the call of his master, "Mount your steeds, O heroes of God!"— a summons which he invariably called out on such occasions. At the sound of those words, they all hurried to their steeds. A detachment of Khusraw's horsemen marched before them. They were immediately followed by Khusraw and Mulla Husayn, who rode abreast in the centre of the company. In their rear followed the rest of the companions, and on their right and left marched the remainder of the hundred horsemen whom Khusraw had armed as willing instruments for the execution of his design. It had been agreed that the party should start early in the morning from Barfurush and arrive on the same day at noon at Shir-Gah. Two hours after sunrise, they started for their destination. Khusraw intentionally took the way of the forest, a route which he thought would better serve his purpose.


As soon as they had penetrated it, he gave the signal for attack. His men fiercely threw themselves upon the companions, seized their property, killed a number, among whom was the brother of Mulla Sadiq, and captured the rest. As soon as the cry of agony and distress reached his ears, Mulla Husayn halted, and, alighting from his horse, protested against Khusraw's treacherous behaviour. "The hour of midday is long past," he told him; "we still have not attained [342] our destination. I refuse to proceed further with you; I can dispense with your guidance and company and that of your men." Turning to Qambar-'Ali, he asked him to spread his prayer-mat, that he might offer his devotions. He was performing his ablutions, when Khusraw, who had also dismounted, called one of his attendants and bade him inform Mulla Husayn that if he wished to reach his destination safely, he should deliver to him both his sword and his horse. Refusing to give a reply, Mulla Husayn proceeded to offer his prayer. Shortly after, Mirza Muhammad-Taqiy-i-Juvayniy-i-Sabzivari, a man of literary accomplishments and fearless courage, went to an attendant who was preparing the qulyan,24 and requested him to allow him to take it in person to Khusraw; a request that was readily granted. Mirza Muhammad-Taqi was bending to kindle the fire of the qulyan, when, thrusting his hand suddenly into Khusraw's bosom, he drew his dagger from his robe and plunged it hilt-deep into his vitals.25


Mulla Husayn was still in the act of prayer when the cry of "Ya Sahibu'z-Zaman"26 was raised again by his companions. They threw themselves upon their treacherous assailants and in one onslaught struck them all down except the attendant who had prepared the qulyan. Affrighted and defenceless, he fell at the feet of Mulla Husayn and implored his aid. He was given the bejewelled qulyan which belonged to his master and was bidden to return to Barfurush and recount to 'Abbas-Quli Khan all that he had witnessed. "Tell him," said Mulla Husayn, "how faithfully Khusraw discharged his mission. That false miscreant foolishly imagined that my mission had come to an end, that both my sword and my horse had fulfilled their function. Little did he know that their work had but just begun, that until the services which they can render are entirely accomplished, neither his power nor the power of any man beside him can wrest them from me."


As the night was approaching, the party decided to tarry in that spot until the hour of dawn. At daybreak, after Mulla Husayn had offered his prayer, he gathered his companions [343] together and said: "We are approaching our Karbila, our ultimate destination." Immediately after, he set out on foot towards that spot, and was followed by his companions. Finding that a few were attempting to carry with them the belongings of Khusraw and of his men, he ordered them to leave everything behind except their swords and horses. "It behoves you," he urged them, "to arrive at that hallowed spot in a state of complete detachment, wholly sanctified from all that pertains to this world."27 He had walked the distance of a maydan28 when he arrived at the shrine of Shaykh Tabarsi.29 The Shaykh had been one of the transmitters of the traditions ascribed to the imams of the Faith, and his burial-place was visited by the people of the neighbourhood. On reaching that spot, he recited the following verse of the Qur'an: "O 


[344] my Lord, bless Thou my arrival at this place, for Thou alone canst vouchsafe such blessings."



The night preceding their arrival, the guardian of the shrine dreamed that the Siyyidu'sh-Shuhada', the Imam Husayn, had arrived at Shaykh Tabarsi, accompanied by no less than seventy-two warriors and a large number of his companions. He dreamed that they tarried in that spot, engaged in the most heroic of battles, triumphing in every encounter over the forces of the enemy, and that the Prophet of God, Himself, arrived one night and joined that blessed company. When Mulla Husayn arrived on the following day, the guardian immediately recognised him as the hero he had seen in his vision, threw himself at his feet, and kissed them devoutly. Mulla Husayn invited him to be seated by his side, and heard him relate his story. "All that you [345] have witnessed," he assured the keeper of the shrine, "will come to pass. Those glorious scenes will again be enacted before your eyes." That servant threw in his lot eventually with the heroic defenders of the fort and fell a martyr within its walls.


On the very day of their arrival, which was the fourteenth of Dhi'l-Qa'dih,30 Mulla Husayn gave Mirza Muhammad-Baqir, who had built the Babiyyih, the preliminary instructions 


regarding the design of the fort which was to be constructed for their defence. Towards the evening of the same day, they found themselves suddenly encompassed by an irregular multitude of horsemen who had emerged from the forest and were preparing to open fire upon them. "We are of the inhabitants of Qadi-Kala," they shouted. "We come to avenge the blood of Khusraw. Not until we have put you all to the sword shall we be satisfied." Besieged by a savage crowd ready to pounce upon them, the party had to draw [346] their swords again in self-defence. Raising the cry of "Ya Sahibu'z-Zaman," they leaped forward, repulsed the assailants, and put them to flight. So tremendous was the shout, that the horsemen vanished as suddenly as they had appeared. Mirza Muhammad-Taqiy-i-Juvayni had, at his own request, assumed the command of that encounter.


Fearing that their assailants might again turn on them and resort to a general massacre, they pursued them until they reached a village which they thought to be the village of Qadi-Kala. At the sight of them, all the men fled in wild terror. The mother of Nazar Khan, the owner of the village, was inadvertently killed in the darkness of the night, amid the confusion that ensued. The outcries of the women, who were violently protesting that they had no connection whatever with the people of Qadi-Kala, soon reached the ears of Mirza Muhammad-Taqi, who immediately ordered his companions to withhold their hands until they ascertained the name and character of the place. They soon found out that the village belonged to Nazar Khan and that the woman who had lost her life was his mother. Greatly distressed at the discovery of so grievous a mistake on the part of his companions, Mirza Muhammad-Taqi sorrowfully exclaimed: "We did not intend to molest either the men or the women of this village. Our sole purpose was to curb the violence of the people of Qadi-Kala, who were about to put us all to death." He apologised earnestly for the pitiful tragedy which his companions had unwittingly enacted.


Nazar Khan, who in the meantime had concealed himself in his house, was convinced of the sincerity of the regrets expressed by Mirza Muhammad-Taqi. Though suffering from this grievous loss, he was moved to call upon him and to invite him to his home. He even asked Mirza Muhammad-Taqi to introduce him to Mulla Husayn, and expressed a keen desire to be made acquainted with the precepts of a Cause that could kindle such fervour in the breasts of its adherents.


At the hour of dawn, Mirza Muhammad-Taqi, accompanied by Nazar Khan, arrived at the shrine of Shaykh Tabarsi, and found Mulla Husayn leading the congregational prayer. Such was the rapture that glowed upon his countenance [347] that Nazar Khan felt an irresistible impulse to join the worshippers and to repeat the very prayers that were then falling from their lips. After the completion of that prayer, Mulla Husayn was informed of the loss which Nazar Khan had sustained. He expressed in the most touching language the sympathy which he and the entire company of his fellow-disciples felt for him in his great bereavement. "God knows," he assured him, "that our sole intention was to protect our lives rather than disturb the peace of the neighbourhood." Mulla Husayn then proceeded to relate the circumstances that had led to the attack directed against them by the people of Barfurush, and explained the treacherous conduct of Khusraw. He again assured him of the sorrow which the death of his mother had caused him. "Afflict not your heart," Nazar Khan spontaneously replied. "Would that a hundred sons had been given me, all of whom I would have joyously placed at your feet and offered as a sacrifice to the Sahibu'z-Zaman!" He pledged, that very moment, his undying loyalty to Mulla Husayn, and hastened back to his village in order to return with whatever provisions might be required for the party.


Mulla Husayn ordered his companions to commence the building of the fort which had been designed. To every group he assigned a section of the work, and encouraged them to hasten its completion. In the course of these operations, they were continually harassed by the people of the neighbouring villages, who, at the persistent instigations of the Sa'idu'l-'Ulama', marched out and fell upon them. Every attack of the enemy ended in failure and shame. Undeterred by the fierceness of their repeated onsets, the companions valiantly withstood their assaults until they had succeeded in subjugating temporarily the forces which had hemmed them in on every side. When the work of construction was completed, Mulla Husayn undertook the necessary preparations for the siege which the fort was destined to sustain, and provided, despite the obstacles which stood in his way, whatever seemed essential for the safety of its occupants.


The work had scarcely been completed when Shaykh Abu-Turab arrived bearing the news of Baha'u'llah's arrival at the village of Nazar Khan. He informed Mulla Husayn [348] that he had been specially commanded by Baha'u'llah to inform them that they all were to be His guests that night and that He Himself would join them that same afternoon. I have heard Mulla Mirza Muhammad-i-Furughi recount the following: "The tidings which Shaykh Abu-Turab brought imparted an indefinable joy to the heart or Mulla Husayn. He hastened immediately to his companions and bade them bestir themselves for the reception of Baha'u'llah. He himself 


joined them in sweeping and sprinkling with water the approaches to the shrine, and attended in person to whatever was necessary for the arrival of the beloved Visitor. As soon as he saw Him approaching with Nazar Khan, he rushed forward, tenderly embraced Him, and conducted Him to the place of honour which he had reserved for His reception. We were too blind in those days to recognise the glory of Him whom our leader had introduced with such reverence and love into our midst. What Mulla Husayn had perceived, our [349] dull vision was as yet unable to recognise. With what solicitude he received Him in his arms! What feelings of rapturous delight filled his heart on seeing Him! He was so lost in admiration that he was utterly oblivious of us all. His soul was so wrapt in contemplation of that countenance that we who were awaiting his permission to be seated were kept standing a long time beside him. It was Baha'u'llah Himself who finally bade us be seated. We, too, were soon made to feel, however inadequately, the charm of His utterance, though none of us were even dimly aware of the infinite potency latent in His words.


Baha'u'llah, in the course of that visit, inspected the fort and expressed His satisfaction with the work that had been accomplished. In His conversation with Mulla Husayn, He explained in detail such matters as were vital to the welfare and safety of his companions. 'The one thing this fort and company require,' He said, 'is the presence of Quddus. His association with this company would render it complete and perfect.' He instructed Mulla Husayn to despatch Mulla Mihdiy-i-Khu'i with six people to Sari, and to demand Mirza Muhammad-Taqi that he immediately deliver Quddus into their hands. 'The fear of God and the dread of His punishment,' He assured Mulla Husayn, 'will prompt him to surrender unhesitatingly his captive.'


"Ere He departed, Baha'u'llah enjoined them to be patient and resigned to the will of the Almighty. 'If it be His will,' He added, 'We shall once again visit you at this same spot, and shall lend you Our assistance. You have been chosen of God to be the vanguard of His host and the establishers of His Faith. His host verily will conquer. Whatever may befall, victory is yours, a victory which is complete and certain.' With these words, He committed those valiant companions to the care of God, and returned to the village with Nazar Khan and Shaykh Abu-Turab. From thence He departed by way of Nur to Tihran."


Mulla Husayn set out immediately to carry out the instructions he had received. Summoning Mulla Mihdi, he bade him proceed together with six other companions to Sari and ask that the mujtahid liberate his prisoner. As soon as the message was conveyed to him, Mirza Muhammad-Taqi 


[350] unconditionally acceded to their request. The potency with which that message had been endowed seemed to have completely disarmed him. "I have regarded him," he hastened to assure the messengers, "only as an honoured guest in my house. It would be unbecoming of me to pretend to have dismissed or released him. He is at liberty to do as he desires. Should he wish it, I would be willing to accompany him."


Mulla Husayn had in the meantime apprised his companions of the approach of Quddus, and had enjoined them to observe towards him a reverence such as they would feel prompted to show to the Bab Himself. "As to myself," he added, "you must consider me as his lowly servant. You should bear him such loyalty that if he were to command you to take my life, you would unhesitatingly obey. If you waver or hesitate, you will have shown your disloyalty to your Faith. Not until he summons you to his presence must you in any wise venture to intrude upon him. You should forsake your desires and cling to his will and pleasure. You should refrain from kissing either his hands or his feet, for his blessed heart dislikes such evidences of reverent affection. Such should be your behaviour that I may feel proud of you before him. The glory and authority with which he has been invested must needs be duly recognised by even the most insignificant of his companions. Whoso departs from the spirit and letter of my admonitions, a grievous chastisement will surely overtake him."


The incarceration of Quddus in the home of Mirza Muhammad-Taqi, [351] Sari's most eminent mujtahid, to whom he was related, lasted five and ninety days. Though confined, Quddus was treated with marked deference, and was allowed to receive most of the companions who had been present at the gathering of Badasht. To none, however, did he grant permission to stay in Sari. Whoever visited him was urged, in the most pressing terms, to enlist under the Black Standard hoisted by Mulla Husayn. It was the same standard of which Muhammad, the Prophet of God, had thus spoken: "Should your eyes behold the Black Standards proceeding from Khurasan, hasten ye towards them, even though ye should have to crawl over the snow, inasmuch as they proclaim the advent of the promised Mihdi,31 the Vicegerent of God." That standard was unfurled at the command of the Bab, in the name of Quddus, and by the hands of Mulla Husayn. It was carried aloft all the way from the city of Mashhad to the shrine of Shaykh Tabarsi. For eleven months, from the beginning of Sha'ban, in the year 1264 A.H.,32 to the end of Jamadiyu'th-Thani, in the year 1265 A.H.,33 that earthly emblem of an unearthly sovereignty waved continually over the heads of that small and valiant band, summoning the multitude who gazed upon it to renounce the world and to espouse the Cause of God.


While in Sari, Quddus frequently attempted to convince Mirza Muhammad-Taqi of the truth of the Divine Message. He freely conversed with him on the most weighty and outstanding issues related to the Revelation of the Bab. His bold and challenging remarks were couched in such gentle, such persuasive and courteous language, and delivered with such geniality and humour, that those who heard him felt not in the least offended. They even misconstrued his allusions to the sacred Book as humorous observations intended to entertain his hearers. Mirza Muhammad-Taqi, despite the cruelty and wickedness that were latent in him and which he subsequently manifested by the stand he took in insisting upon the extermination of the remnants of the defenders of the fort of Shaykh Tabarsi, was withheld by an inner power from showing the least disrespect to Quddus while the latter was confined in his home. He even was prompted to prevent [352] the inhabitants of Sari from offending Quddus, and was often heard to rebuke them for the harm which they desired to inflict upon him.


The news of the impending arrival of Quddus bestirred the occupants of the fort of Tabarsi. As he drew near his destination, he sent forward a messenger to announce his approach. The joyful tidings gave them new courage and strength. Roused to a burst of enthusiasm which he could not repress, Mulla Husayn started to his feet and, escorted by about a hundred of his companions, hastened to meet the expected visitor. He placed two candles in the hands of each, lighted them himself, and bade them proceed to meet Quddus. The darkness of the night was dispelled by the radiance which those joyous hearts shed as they marched forth to meet their beloved. In the midst of the forest of Mazindaran, their eyes instantly recognised the face which they had longed to behold. They pressed eagerly around his steed, and with every mark of devotion paid him their tribute of love and undying allegiance. Still holding the lighted candles in their hands, they followed him on foot towards their destination. Quddus, as he rode along in their midst, appeared as the day-star that shines amidst its satellites. As the company slowly wended its way towards the fort, there broke forth the hymn of glorification and praise intoned by the band of his enthusiastic admirers. "Holy, holy, the Lord our God, the Lord of the angels and the spirit!" rang their jubilant voices around him. Mulla Husayn raised the glad refrain, to which the entire company responded. The forest of Mazindaran re-echoed to the sound of their acclamations.


In this manner they reached the shrine of Shaykh Tabarsi. The first words that fell from the lips of Quddus after he had dismounted and leaned against the shrine were the following: "The Baqiyyatu'llah34 will be best for you if ye are of those who believe."35 By this utterance was fulfilled the prophecy of Muhammad as recorded in the following tradition: "And when the Mihdi36 is made manifest, He shall lean His back against the Ka'bih and shall address to the three hundred and thirteen followers who will have grouped around Him, these words: 'The Baqiyyatu'llah will be best for you if [353] ye are of those who believe.'" By "Baqiyyatu'llah" Quddus meant none other than Baha'u'llah. To this testified Mulla Mirza Muhammad-i-Furughi, who related to me the following: "I myself was present when Quddus alighted from his horse. I saw him lean against the shrine and heard him utter those same words. No sooner had he spoken them than he made mention of Baha'u'llah and, turning to Mulla Husayn, enquired about Him. He was informed that unless God decreed to the contrary, He had signified His intention to return to this place before the first day of Muharram.37


"Shortly after, Quddus entrusted to Mulla Husayn a number of homilies which he asked him to read aloud to his assembled companions. The first homily he read was entirely devoted to the Bab, the second concerned Baha'u'llah, and the third referred to Tahirih. We ventured to express to Mulla Husayn our doubts whether the references in the second homily were applicable to Baha'u'llah, who appeared clothed in the garb of nobility. The matter was reported to Quddus, who assured us that, God willing, its secret would be revealed to us in due time. Utterly unaware, in those days, of the character of the Mission of Baha'u'llah, we were unable to understand the meaning of those allusions, and idly conjectured as to what could be their probable significance. In my eagerness to unravel the subtleties of the traditions concerning the promised Qa'im, I several times approached Quddus and requested him to enlighten me regarding that subject. Though at first reluctant, he eventually acceded to my wish. The manner of his answer, his convincing and illuminating explanations, served to heighten the sense of awe and of veneration which his presence inspired. He dispelled whatever doubts lingered in our minds, and such were the evidences of his perspicacity that we came to believe that to him had been given the power to read our profoundest thoughts and to calm the fiercest tumult in our hearts.


"Many a night I saw Mulla Husayn circle round the shrine within the precincts of which Quddus lay asleep. How often did I see him emerge in the mid-watches of the night from his chamber and quietly direct his steps to that spot and whisper the same verse with which we all had greeted [354] the arrival of the beloved visitor! With what feelings of emotion I can still remember him as he advanced towards me, in the stillness of those dark and lonely hours which I devoted to meditation and prayer, whispering in my ears these words: 'Banish from your mind, O Mulla Mirza Muhammad, these perplexing subtleties and, freed from their trammels, arise and seek with me to quaff the cup of martyrdom. Then will you be able to comprehend, as the year '8038 dawns upon the world, the secret of the things which now lie hidden from you.'"


Quddus, on his arrival at the shrine of Shaykh Tabarsi, charged Mulla Husayn to ascertain the number of the assembled companions. One by one he counted them and passed them in through the gate of the fort: three hundred and twelve in all. He himself was entering the fort in order to acquaint Quddus with the result, when a youth, who had hastened all the way on foot from Barfurush, suddenly rushed in and, seizing the hem of his garment, pleaded to be enrolled among the companions and to be allowed to lay down his life, whenever required, in the path of the Beloved. His wish was readily granted. When Quddus was informed of the total number of the companions, he remarked: "Whatever the tongue of the Prophet of God has spoken concerning the promised One must needs be fulfilled,39 that thereby His testimony may be complete in the eyes of those divines who esteem themselves as the sole interpreters of the law and traditions of Islam. Through them will the people recognise the truth and acknowledge the fulfilment of these traditions."40 [355] 

Every morning and every afternoon during those days, Quddus would summon Mulla Husayn and the most distinguished among his companions and ask them to chant the writings of the Bab. Seated in the Maydan, the open square adjoining the fort, and surrounded by his devoted friends, he would listen intently to the utterances of his Master and would occasionally be heard to comment upon them. Neither the threats of the enemy nor the fierceness of their successive onsets could induce him to abate the fervour, or to break the regularity, of his devotions. Despising all danger and oblivious of his own needs and wants, he continued, even under the most distressing circumstances, his daily communion with his Beloved, wrote his praises of Him, and roused to fresh exertions the defenders of the fort. Though exposed to the bullets that kept ceaselessly raining upon his besieged companions, he, undeterred by the ferocity of the attack, pursued his labours in a state of unruffled calm. "My soul is wedded to Thy mention!" he was wont to exclaim. "Remembrance of Thee is the stay and solace of my life! I glory in that I was the first to suffer ignominiously for Thy [356] sake in Shiraz. I long to be the first to suffer in Thy path a death that shall be worthy of Thy Cause."


He would sometimes ask his Iraqi companions to chant various passages of the Qur'an, to which he would listen with close attention, and would often be moved to unfold their meaning. In the course of one of their chantings, they came across the following verse: "With somewhat of fear and hunger, and loss of wealth and lives and fruits, will We surely prove you: but bear good tidings to the patient." "These words," Quddus would remark, "were originally revealed with reference to Job and the afflictions that befell him. In this day, however, they are applicable to us, who are destined to suffer those same afflictions. Such will be the measure of our calamity that none but he who has been endowed with constancy and patience will be able to survive them."


The knowledge and sagacity which Quddus displayed on those occasions, the confidence with which he spoke, and the resource and enterprise which he demonstrated in the instructions he gave to his companions, reinforced his authority and enhanced his prestige. These at first supposed that the profound [357] reverence which Mulla Husayn showed towards him was dictated by the exigencies of the situation rather than prompted by a spontaneous feeling of devotion to his person. His own writings and general behaviour gradually dispelled such doubts and served to establish him still more firmly in the esteem of his companions. In the days of his confinement in the town of Sari, Quddus, whom Mirza Muhammad-Taqi had requested to write a commentary on the Surih of Ikhlas, better known as the Surih of Qul Huva'llahu'l-Ahad, composed, in his interpretation of the Sad of Samad alone, a treatise which was thrice as voluminous as the Qur'an itself. That exhaustive and masterly exposition had profoundly impressed Mirza Muhammad-Taqi and had been responsible for the marked consideration which he showed towards Quddus, although in the end he joined the Sa'idu'l-'Ulama' in compassing the death of the heroic martyrs of Shaykh Tabarsi. Quddus continued, while besieged in that fort, to write his commentary on that Surih, and was able, despite the vehemence of the enemy's onslaught, to pen as many verses as he had previously written in Sari in his interpretation of that same letter. The rapidity and copiousness of his composition, the inestimable treasures which his writings revealed, filled his companions with wonder and justified his leadership in their eyes. They read eagerly the pages of that commentary which Mulla Husayn brought to them each day and to which he paid his share of tribute.


The completion of the fort, and the provision of whatever was deemed essential for its defence, animated the enthusiasm of the companions of Mulla Husayn and excited the curiosity of the people of the neighbourhood.41 A few out of sheer curiosity, others in pursuit of material interest, and still others prompted by their devotion to the Cause which that building symbolised, sought to be admitted within its walls and marvelled at the rapidity with which it had been raised. Quddus had no sooner ascertained the number of its occupants [358] than he ordered that no visitor be allowed to enter it. The praises which those who had already inspected the fort had lavished upon it were transmitted from mouth to mouth until they reached the ears of the Sa'idu'l-'Ulama' and kindled within his breast the flame of unrelenting jealousy. In his detestation of those who had been responsible for its erection, he issued the strictest prohibition against anyone's approaching its precincts and urged all to boycott the companions of Mulla Husayn. Despite the stringency of his orders, a few were found to disregard his wishes and to render whatever assistance was in their power to those whom he had so undeservedly persecuted. The afflictions to which these sufferers were subjected were such that at times they felt a distressing need of the bare necessities of life. In their dark hour of adversity, however, there would suddenly break upon them the light of Divine deliverance opening before their face the door of unexpected relief.


The providential manner in which the occupants of the fort were relieved of the distress which weighed upon them fanned to fury the wrath of the wilful and imperious Sa'idu'l-'Ulama'. Impelled by an implacable hatred, he addressed a burning appeal to Nasiri'd-Din Shah, who had recently ascended the throne, and expatiated upon the danger with which his dynasty, nay the monarchy itself, was menaced. "The standard of revolt," he pleaded, "has been raised by the contemptible sect of the Babis. This wretched band of irresponsible agitators has dared to strike at the very foundations of the authority with which your Imperial Majesty has been invested. The inhabitants of a number of villages in the immediate vicinity of their headquarters have already flown to their standard and sworn allegiance to their cause. They have built themselves a fort, and in that massive stronghold they have entrenched themselves, ready to direct a campaign against you. With unswerving obstinacy they [359] have resolved to proclaim their independent sovereignty, a sovereignty that shall abase to the dust the imperial diadem of your illustrious ancestors. You stand at the threshold of your reign. What greater triumph could signalise the inauguration of your rule than to extirpate this hateful creed that has dared to conspire against you? It will serve to establish your Majesty in the confidence of your people. It will enhance your prestige, and invest your crown with imperishable glory. Should you vacillate in your policy, should you betray the least indulgence towards them, I feel it my duty to warn you that the day is fast approaching when not only the province of Mazindaran but the whole of Persia, from end to end, will have repudiated your authority and will have surrendered to their cause."


Nasiri'd-Din Shah, as yet inexperienced in the affairs of State, referred the matter to the officers who commanded the army of Mazindaran and who were in attendance upon him.42 He instructed them to take whatever means they deemed fit for the eradication of the disturbers of his realm. Haji Mustafa Khan-i-Turkaman submitted his views to his sovereign: "I myself come from Mazindaran. I have been able to estimate the forces at their disposal. The handful of untrained and frail-bodied students whom I have seen are utterly powerless to withstand the forces which your Majesty can command. The army which you contemplate despatching is in my view unnecessary. A small detachment of that army will be sufficient to wipe them out. They are utterly unworthy of the care and consideration of my sovereign. Should your Majesty be willing to signify your desire, in an imperial message addressed to my brother 'Abdu'llah Khan-i-Turkaman, [360] that he should be given the necessary authority to subjugate that band, I am convinced that he will, within the space of two days, quell their rebellion and shatter their hopes."


The Shah gave his consent, and issued his farman43 to that same 'Abdu'llah Khan, bidding him to recruit without delay, from any part of his realm, the forces he might require for the execution of his purpose. He sent with his message a royal badge, which he bestowed upon him as a mark of confidence in his capacity to undertake that task. The 


receipt of the imperial farman and the token of the honour which his sovereign had conferred upon him nerved him to fresh resolve to carry out his mission befittingly. Within a short space of time, he had raised an army of about twelve thousand men, composed largely of the Usanlu, the Afghan, and the Kudar communities.44 He equipped them with whatever ammunition was required, and stationed them in the village of Afra, which was the property of Nazar Khan, and [361] which commanded the fort of Tabarsi. No sooner had he fixed his camp upon that eminence than he set out to intercept the bread which was being daily conveyed to the companions of Mulla Husayn. Even water was soon to be denied them, as it became impossible for the besieged to leave the fort under the fire of the enemy.


The army was ordered to set up a number of barricades in front of the fort and to open fire upon anyone who chanced to leave its gate. Quddus forbade his companions to go out in order to fetch water from the neighbourhood. "Our bread has been intercepted by our enemy," complained Rasul-i-Bahnimiri. "What will befall us if water should likewise be denied us?" Quddus, who was at that time, the hour of sunset, viewing the army of the enemy in company with Mulla Husayn from the terrace of the fort, turned to him and said: "The scarcity of water has distressed our companions. God willing, this very night a downpour of rain will overtake our opponents, followed by a heavy snowfall, which will assist us to repulse their contemplated assault."


That very night, the army of 'Abdu'llah Khan was surprised by a torrential rain which overwhelmed that section which lay close to the fort. Much of the ammunition was irretrievably ruined. There gathered within the walls of the fort an amount of water which, for a long period, was sufficient for the consumption of the besieged. In the course of the following night, a snowfall such as the people of the neighbourhood even in the depth of winter had never experienced, added considerably to the annoyance which the rain had caused. The next night, which was the evening preceding the fifth of Muharram, in the year 1265 A.H.,45 Quddus determined to leave the gate of the fort. "Praise be to God," he remarked to Rasul-i-Bahnimiri as he paced with calm and serenity the approaches to the gate, "who has graciously answered our prayer and caused both rain and snow to fall upon our enemies; a fall that has brought desolation into their camp and refreshment into our fort."


As the hour of the attack approached for which that numerous army, despite the losses it had sustained, was strenuously preparing, Quddus determined to sally out and [362] scatter its forces. Two hours after sunrise, he mounted his steed and, escorted by Mulla Husayn and three other of his companions, all of whom were riding beside him, marched out of the gate, followed by the entire company on foot behind them. As soon as they had emerged, there pealed out the cry of "Ya Sahibu'z-Zaman!"46—a cry that diffused consternation through the camp of the enemy. The roar which these lion-hearted followers of the Bab raised amidst the forest of Mazindaran dispersed the affrighted enemy that lay in ambush within its recesses. The glitter of their bared weapons dazzled their sight, and its menace was sufficient to stun and overpower them. They fled in disgraceful rout 


before their onrush, leaving all possessions behind them. Within the space of forty-five minutes, the shout of victory had been raised. Quddus and Mulla Husayn had succeeded in bringing under their control the remnants of the defeated army. 'Abdu'llah Khan-i-Turkaman, with two of his officers, Habibu'llah Khan-i-Afghan and Nuru'llah Khan-i-Afghan, together with no less than four hundred and thirty of their men, had perished.


Quddus returned to the fort while Mulla Husayn was still engaged in pursuing the work which had been so valiantly performed. The voice of Siyyid 'Abdu'l-'Azim-i-Khu'i was soon raised summoning him, on behalf of Quddus, to return immediately to the fort. "We have repulsed the assailants," [363] Quddus remarked; "we need not carry further the punishment. Our purpose is to protect ourselves that we may be able to continue our labours for the regeneration of men. We have no intention whatever of causing unnecessary harm to anyone. What we have already achieved is sufficient testimony to God's invincible power. We, a little band of His followers, have been able, through His sustaining grace, to overcome the organised and trained army of our enemies."


Despite this defeat, not one of the followers of the Bab lost his life in the course of that encounter. No one except a man named Quli, who rode in advance of Quddus, was badly wounded. They were all commanded to take none of the property of their adversaries excepting their swords and horses.


As the signs of the reassembling of the forces which had been commanded by 'Abdu'llah Khan became apparent, Quddus bade his companions dig a moat around the fort as a safeguard against a renewed attack. Nineteen days elapsed during which they exerted themselves to the utmost for the completion of the task they had been charged to perform. They joyously laboured by day and by night in order to expedite the work with which they had been entrusted.


Soon after the work was completed, it was announced that Prince Mihdi-Quli Mirza47 was advancing towards the fort at the head of a numerous army, and had actually encamped at Shir-Gah. A few days later, he had transferred his headquarters to Vas-Kas. On his arrival, he sent one of his men to inform Mulla Husayn that he had been commanded by the Shah to ascertain the purpose of his activities and to request that he be enlightened as to the object he had in view. "Tell your master," Mulla Husayn replied, "that we utterly disclaim any intention either of subverting 


[365] the foundations of the monarchy or of usurping the authority of Nasiri'd-Din Shah. Our Cause concerns the revelation of the promised Qa'im and is primarily associated with the interests of the ecclesiastical order of this country. We can set forth incontrovertible arguments and deduce infallible proofs in support of the truth of the Message we bear." The passionate sincerity with which Mulla Husayn pleaded in defence of his Cause, and the details which he cited to demonstrate the validity of his claims, touched the heart of the messenger and brought tears to his eyes. "What are we to do?" he exclaimed. "Let the prince," Mulla Husayn replied, "direct the ulamas of both Sari and Barfurush to betake themselves to this place, and ask us to demonstrate the validity of the Revelation proclaimed by the Bab. Let the Qur'an decide as to who speaks the truth. Let the prince himself judge our case and pronounce the verdict. Let him also decide as to how he should treat us if we fail to establish, by the aid of verses and traditions, the truth of this Cause." The messenger expressed his complete satisfaction with the answer he had received, and promised that before the lapse of three days the ecclesiastical dignitaries would be convened in the manner he had suggested.


The promise given by the messenger was destined to remain unfulfilled. Three days after, Prince Mihdi-Quli Mirza prepared to launch his attack, on a scale hitherto unprecedented, upon the occupants of the fort. At the head of three regiments of infantry and several regiments of cavalry, he quartered his host upon a height that overlooked that spot, and gave the signal to open fire in that direction.


The day had not yet broken when at the signal, "Mount your steeds, O heroes of God!" Quddus ordered that the gates of the fort be again thrown open. Mulla Husayn and two hundred and two of his companions ran to their horses and followed Quddus as he rode out in the direction of Vas-Kas. Undaunted by the overwhelming forces arrayed against them, and undeterred by the snow and mud which had accumulated on the roads, they headed, without a pause, in the midst of the darkness that surrounded them, towards the stronghold which served as a base for the operations of the enemy.


[366] The prince, who was observing the movements of Mulla Husayn, saw him approaching, from his fort, and ordered his men to open fire upon him. The bullets which they discharged were powerless to check his advance. He forced his way through the gate and rushed into the private apartments of the prince, who, with a sudden sense that his life was in danger, threw himself from a back window into the moat and escaped barefooted.48 His host, deprived of their leader and struck with panic, fled in disgraceful rout before that little band which, despite their own overwhelming numbers and the resources which the imperial treasury had placed at their disposal, they were unable to subdue.49


As the victors were forcing their way through the section of the fort reserved for the prince, two other princes of royal blood50 fell in an attempt to strike down their opponents. As they penetrated his apartments, they discovered, in one [367] of his rooms, coffers filled with gold and silver, all of which they disdained to touch. With the exception of a pot of gunpowder and the favourite sword of the prince which they carried as an evidence of their triumph to Mulla Husayn, his companions ignored the costly furnishings which their owner had abandoned in his despair. When they took it to Mulla Husayn, they discovered that he had, as a result of the bullet which had struck his own sword, exchanged it for that of Quddus, with which he was engaged in repulsing the assailant.


They were throwing open the gate of the prison which had been in the hands of the enemy, when they heard the voice of Mulla Yusuf-i-Ardibili, who had been made a captive on his way to the fort and was languishing among the prisoners. He interceded for his fellow-sufferers and succeeded in obtaining their immediate release.


On the morning of that memorable engagement, Mulla Husayn assembled his companions around Quddus in the outskirts of Vas-Kas, while he remained himself on horseback in anticipation of a renewed attack by the enemy. He was watching their movements, when he suddenly observed an innumerable host rushing from both sides towards him. All sprang to their feet and, raising again the cry of "Ya Sahibu'z-Zaman!" pressed forward to face the challenge. Mulla Husayn spurred his charger in one direction, and Quddus and his companions in another. The detachment which was charging Mulla Husayn suddenly deflected its course and, fleeing from before him, joined forces with the rest of the enemy and encompassed Quddus and those who were with him. At a given moment, they discharged a thousand bullets, one of which struck Quddus in the mouth, knocking out several of his teeth and wounding both his tongue and throat. The loud noise which the simultaneous discharge of a thousand bullets produced, and which could be heard at a distance of ten farsangs,51 filled with apprehension Mulla Husayn, who hastened to the rescue of his friends. As soon as he reached them, he alighted from his horse and, entrusting it to his attendant, Qambar-'Ali, ran towards Quddus. The sight of blood dripping profusely from the mouth of his beloved chief [368] struck him with fear and dismay. He raised his hands in horror and was on the point of beating himself upon the head when Quddus bade him desist. Obeying his leader instantly, he begged him to be allowed to receive his sword from his hand, which, as soon as it had been delivered, was unsheathed from its scabbard and used to scatter the forces that had massed around him. Followed by a hundred and ten of his fellow-disciples, he faced the forces arrayed against him. Wielding in one hand the sword of his beloved leader and in the other that of his disgraced opponent, he fought a desperate battle against them, and within thirty minutes, during which he displayed marvellous heroism, he succeeded in putting the entire army to flight.


The disgraceful retreat of the army of Prince Mihdi-Quli Mirza enabled Mulla Husayn and his companions to repair to the fort. With pain and regret, they conducted their wounded leader to the shelter of his stronghold. On his arrival, Quddus addressed a written appeal to his friends who were bewailing his injury, and by his words of cheer soothed their sorrow. "We should submit," he exhorted them, "to whatever is the will of God. We should stand firm and steadfast in the hour of trial. The stone of the infidel broke the teeth of the Prophet of God; mine have fallen as a result of the bullet of the enemy. Though my body be afflicted, my soul is immersed in gladness. My gratitude to God knows no bounds. If you love me, suffer not that this joy be obscured by the sight of your lamentations."


This memorable engagement fell on the twenty-fifth of Muharram, 1265 A.H.52 In the beginning of that same month, Baha'u'llah, faithful to the promise He had given to Mulla Husayn, set out, attended by a number of His friends, from Nur for the fort of Tabarsi. Among those who accompanied Him were Haji Mirza Janiy-i-Kashani, Mulla Baqir-i-Tabrizi, one of the Letters of the Living, and Mirza Yahya, His brother. Baha'u'llah had signified His wish that they should proceed directly to their destination and allow no pause in their journey. His intention was to reach that spot at night, inasmuch as strict orders had been issued, ever since 'Abdu'llah [369] Khan had assumed the command, that no help should be extended, under any circumstances, to the occupants of the fort. Guards had been stationed at different places to ensure the isolation of the besieged. His companions, however, pressed Him to interrupt the journey and to seek a few hours of rest. Although He knew that this delay would involve a grave risk of being surprised by the enemy, He yielded to their earnest request. They halted at a lonely house adjoining the road. After supper, his companions all retired to sleep. He alone, despite the hardships He had endured, remained wakeful. He knew well the perils to which He and His friends were exposed, and was fully aware of the possibilities which His early arrival at the fort involved.


As He watched beside them, the secret emissaries of the enemy informed the guards of the neighbourhood of the arrival of the party, and ordered the immediate seizure of whatever they could find in their possession. "We have received strict orders," they told Baha'u'llah, whom they recognised instantly as the leader of the group, "to arrest every person we chance to meet in this vicinity, and are commanded to conduct him, without any previous investigation, to Amul and deliver him into the hands of its governor." "The matter has been misrepresented in your eyes," Baha'u'llah remarked. "You have misconstrued our purpose. I would advise you to act in a manner that will cause you eventually no regret." This admonition, uttered with dignity and calm, induced the chief of the guards to treat with consideration and courtesy those whom he had arrested. He bade them mount their horses and proceed with him to Amul. As they were approaching the banks of a river, Baha'u'llah signalled to His companions, who were riding at a distance from the guards, to cast into the water whatever manuscripts they had in their possession.


At daybreak, as they were approaching the town, a message was sent in advance to the acting governor, informing him of the arrival of a party that had been captured on their way to the fort of Tabarsi. The governor himself, together with the members of his body-guard, had been appointed to join the army of Prince Mihdi-Quli Mirza, and had commissioned his kinsman to act in his absence. As [370] soon as the message reached him, he went to the masjid of Amul and summoned the ulamas and leading siyyids of the town to gather and meet the party. He was greatly surprised as soon as his eyes saw and recognised Baha'u'llah, and deeply regretted the orders he had given. He feigned to reprimand Him for the action He had taken, in the hope 


of appeasing the tumult and allaying the excitement of those who had gathered in the masjid. "We are innocent," Baha'u'llah declared, "of the guilt they impute to us. Our blamelessness will eventually be established in your eyes. I would advise you to act in a manner that will cause you eventually no regret." The acting governor asked the ulamas who were present to put any question they desired. [371] To their enquiries Baha'u'llah returned explicit and convincing replies. As they were interrogating Him, they discovered a manuscript in the possession of one of His companions which they recognised as the writings of the Bab and which they handed to the chief of the ulamas present at that gathering. As soon as he had perused a few lines of that manuscript, he laid it aside and, turning to those around him, exclaimed: "These people, who advance such extravagant claims, have, in this very sentence which I have read, betrayed their ignorance of the most rudimentary rules of orthography." "Esteemed and learned divine," Baha'u'llah replied, "these words which you criticise are not the words of the Bab. They have been uttered by no less a personage than the Imam 'Ali, the Commander of the Faithful, in his reply to Kumayl-ibn-i-Ziyad, whom he had chosen as his companion."


The circumstances which Baha'u'llah proceeded to relate in connection with the reply, no less than the manner of His delivery, convinced the arrogant mujtahid of his stupidity and blunder. Unable to contradict so weighty a statement, he preferred to keep silent. A siyyid angrily interjected: "This very statement conclusively demonstrates that its author is himself a Babi and no less than a leading expounder of the tenets of that sect." He urged in vehement language that its followers be put to death. "These obscure sectarians are the sworn enemies," he cried, "both of the State and of the Faith of Islam! We must, at all costs, extirpate that heresy." He was seconded in his denunciation by the other siyyids who were present, and who, emboldened by the imprecations uttered at that gathering, insisted that the governor comply unhesitatingly with their wishes.


The acting governor was much embarrassed, and realised that any evidence of indulgence on his part would be fraught with grave consequences for the safety of his position. In his desire to hold in check the passions which had been aroused, he ordered his attendants to prepare the rods and promptly inflict a befitting punishment upon the captives. "We will afterwards," he added, "keep them in prison pending the return of the governor, who will send them to Tihran, [372] where they will receive, at the hands of the sovereign, the chastisement they deserve."


The first who was bound to receive the bastinado was Mulla Baqir. "I am only a groom of Baha'u'llah," he urged. "I was on my way to Mashhad when they suddenly arrested me and brought me to this place." Baha'u'llah intervened and succeeded in inducing his oppressors to release him. He likewise interceded for Haji Mirza Jani, who He said was "a mere tradesman" whom He regarded as His "guest," so that He was "responsible for any charges brought against him." Mirza Yahya, whom they proceeded to bind, was also set free as soon as Baha'u'llah had declared him to be His attendant. "None of these men," He told the acting governor, "are guilty of any crime. If you insist on inflicting your punishment, I offer Myself as a willing Victim of your chastisement." The acting governor was reluctantly compelled to give orders that Baha'u'llah alone be chosen to suffer the indignity which he had intended originally for His companions.53


The same treatment that had been meted out to the Bab five months previously in Tabriz, Baha'u'llah suffered in the presence of the assembled ulamas of Amul. The first confinement that the Bab suffered at the hands of His enemies was in the house of 'Abdu'l-Hamid Khan, the chief constable of Shiraz; the first confinement of Baha'u'llah was in the home of one of the kad-khudas of Tihran. The Bab's second imprisonment was in the castle of Mah-Ku; that of Baha'u'llah was in the private residence of the governor of Amul. The Bab was scourged in the namaz-khanih54 of the Shaykhu'l-Islam of Tabriz; the same indignity was inflicted on Baha'u'llah in the namaz-khanih of the mujtahid of Amul. The Bab's third confinement was in the castle of Chihriq; Baha'u'llah's was in the Siyah-Chal55 of Tihran. The Bab, whose trials and sufferings had preceded, in almost every case, 


[373] those of Baha'u'llah, had offered Himself to ransom His Beloved from the perils that beset that precious Life; whilst Baha'u'llah, on His part, unwilling that He who so greatly loved Him should be the sole Sufferer, shared at every turn the cup that had touched His lips. Such love no eye has ever beheld, nor has mortal heart conceived such mutual devotion. If the branches of every tree were turned into pens, and all the seas into ink, and earth and heaven rolled into one parchment, the immensity of that love would still remain unexplored, and the depths of that devotion unfathomed.


Baha'u'llah and His companions remained for a time imprisoned in one of the rooms that formed part of the masjid. [374] The acting governor, who was still determined to shield his Prisoner from the assaults of an inveterate enemy, secretly instructed his attendants to open, at an unsuspected hour, a passage through the wall of the room in which the captives were confined, and to transfer their Leader immediately to his home. He was himself conducting Baha'u'llah to his residence when a siyyid sprang forward and, directing his fiercest invectives against Him, raised the club which he held in his hand to strike Him. The acting governor immediately interposed himself and, appealing to the assailant, "adjured him by the Prophet of God" to stay his hand. "What!" burst forth the siyyid. "How dare you release a man who is the sworn enemy of the Faith of our fathers?" A crowd of ruffians had meanwhile gathered around him, and by their howls of derision and abuse added to the clamour which he had raised. Despite the growing tumult, the attendants of the acting governor were able to conduct Baha'u'llah in safety to the residence of their master, and displayed on that occasion a courage and presence of mind that were truly surprising.


Despite the protestations of the mob, the rest of the prisoners were taken to the seat of government, and thus escaped from the perils with which they had been threatened. The acting governor offered profuse apologies to Baha'u'llah for the treatment which the people of Amul had accorded Him. "But for the interposition of Providence," he said, "no force would have achieved your deliverance from the grasp of this malevolent people. But for the efficacy of the vow which I had made to risk my own life for your sake, I, too, would have fallen a victim to their violence, and would have been trampled beneath their feet." He bitterly complained of the outrageous conduct of the siyyids of Amul, and denounced the baseness of their character. He expressed himself as being continually tormented by the effects of their malignant designs. He set about serving Baha'u'llah with devotion and kindness, and was often heard, in the course of his conversation with Him, to remark: "I am far from regarding you a prisoner in my home. This house, I believe, was built for the very purpose of affording you a shelter from the designs of your foes."


[375] I have heard Baha'u'llah Himself recount the following: "No prisoner has ever been accorded the treatment which I received at the hands of the acting governor of Amul. He treated Me with the utmost consideration and esteem. I was generously entertained by him, and the fullest attention was given to everything that affected My security and comfort. I was, however, unable to leave the gate of the house. My host was afraid lest the governor, who was related to 'Abbas-Quli Khan-i-Larijani, might return from the fort of Tabarsi and inflict injury upon Me. I tried to dispel his apprehensions. 'The same Omnipotence,' I assured him, 'who has delivered us from the hands of the mischief-makers of Amul, and has enabled us to be received with such hospitality by you in this house, is able to change the heart of the governor and to cause him to treat us with no less consideration and love.'


"One night we were suddenly awakened by the clamour of the people who had gathered outside the gate of the house. The door was opened, and it was announced that the governor had returned to Amul. Our companions, who were anticipating a fresh attack upon them, were completely surprised to hear the voice of the governor rebuking those who had denounced us so bitterly on the day of our arrival. 'For what reason,' we heard him loudly remonstrating, 'have these miserable wretches chosen to treat so disrespectfully a guest whose hands are tied and who has not been given the chance to defend himself? What is their justification for having demanded that he be immediately put to death? What evidence have they with which to support their contention? If they be sincere in their claims to be devotedly attached to Islam and to be the guardians of its interests, let them betake themselves to the fort of Shaykh Tabarsi and there demonstrate their capacity to defend the Faith of which they profess to be the champions.'"


What he had seen of the heroism of the defenders of the fort had quite changed the mind and heart of the governor of Amul. He returned filled with admiration for a Cause which he had formerly despised, and the progress of which he had strenuously resisted. The scenes he witnessed had disarmed his wrath and chastened his pride. Humbly and [376] respectfully, he went to Baha'u'llah and apologised for the insolence of the inhabitants of a town that he had been chosen to govern. He served Him with extreme devotion, utterly ignoring his own position and rank. He paid a glowing tribute to Mulla Husayn, and expatiated upon his resourcefulness, his intrepidity, his skill, and nobleness of soul. A few days later, he succeeded in arranging for the safe departure of Baha'u'llah and His companions for Tihran.


Baha'u'llah's intention to throw in His lot with the defenders of the fort of Shaykh Tabarsi was destined to remain unfulfilled. Though Himself extremely desirous to lend every possible assistance in His power to the besieged, He was spared, through the mysterious dispensation of Providence, the tragic fate that was soon to befall the chief participators in that memorable struggle. Had He been able to reach the fort, had He been allowed to join the members of that heroic band, how could He have played His part in the great drama which He was destined to unfold? How could He have consummated the work that had been so gloriously conceived and so marvellously inaugurated? He was in the heyday of His life when the call from Shiraz reached Him. At the age of twenty-seven, He arose to consecrate His life to its service, fearlessly identified Himself with its teachings, and distinguished Himself by the exemplary part He played in its diffusion. No effort was too great for the energy with which He was endowed, and no sacrifice too woeful for the devotion with which His faith had inspired Him. He flung aside every consideration of fame, of wealth, and position, for the prosecution of the task He had set His heart to achieve. Neither the taunts of His friends nor the threats of His enemies could induce Him to cease championing a Cause which they alike regarded as that of an obscure and proscribed sect.


The first incarceration to which He was subjected as a result of the helping hand He had extended to the captives of Qazvin; the ability with which He achieved the deliverance of Tahirih; the exemplary manner in which He steered the course of the turbulent proceedings in Badasht; the manner in which He saved the life of Quddus in Niyala; the wisdom which He showed in His handling of the delicate situation created by the impetuosity of Tahirih, and the vigilance He [377] exercised for her protection; the counsels which He gave to the defenders of the fort of Tabarsi; the plan He conceived of joining the forces of Quddus to those of Mulla Husayn and his companions; the spontaneity with which He arose to support the exertions of those brave defenders; the magnanimity which prompted Him to offer Himself as a substitute for His companions who were under the threat of severe indignities; the serenity with which He faced the severity inflicted upon Him as a result of the attempt on the life of Nasiri'd-Din Shah; the indignities which were heaped upon Him all the way from Lavasan to the headquarters of the imperial army and from thence to the capital; the galling weight of chains which He bore as He lay in the darkness of the Siyah-Chal of Tihran—all these are but a few instances that eloquently testify to the unique position which He occupied as the prime Mover of the forces which were destined to reshape the face of His native land. It was He who had released these forces, who steered their course, harmonised their action, and brought them finally to their highest consummation in the Cause He Himself was destined at a later time to reveal.


FOOTNOTES


19.1. Refer to p. 351.


19.2. Literally "Verdant Isle." 


19.3. Refer to Glossary. 


19.4. July 21, 1848 A.D. 


19.5. Bearer of Baha'u'llah's Tablet to Nasiri'd-Din Shah.


19.6. "He (Mulla Husayn) arrived first at Miyamay where he rejoined thirty Babis whose chief, Mirza Zaynu'l-'Abidin, pupil of the late Shaykh Ahmad-i-Ahsa'i, was an elderly, pious and respected gentleman. His zeal was so intense that he brought with him his son-in-law, a young man of eighteen years, who had been married to his daughter only a few days. 'Come,' he said to him, 'Come with me on my last journey. Come, because I must be a true father to you and make you partake of the joy of salvation!' "They departed therefore, and it was on foot that the aged man desired to travel the road which was to lead him to martyrdom." (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab," p. 290.) 


19.7. August 31-September 29, 1848 A.D. 


19.8. Muhammad Shah died on the eve of the sixth of Shavval (September 4, 1848 A.D.). "There was an interregnum of about two months. A provisional government was formed comprising four administrators under the presidency of the widow of the deceased Shah. Finally, after much hesitation, the lawful heir, the young Prince Nasiri'd-Din Mirza, governor of Adhirbayjan, was permitted to ascend the throne." (Journal Asiatique, 1866, tome 7, p. 367.)


19.9. "The minister [Mirza Taqi Khan] with the utmost arbitrariness, without receiving any instructions or asking permission, sent forth commands in all directions to punish and chastise the Babis. Governors and magistrates sought a pretext for amassing wealth, and officials a means of acquiring profits; celebrated doctors from the summits of their pulpits incited men to make a general onslaught; the powers of the religious and the civil law  


19.10. See Glossary.


19.11. "The bullet struck Siyyid Rida full in the chest and killed him instantly. He was a man of pure and simple ways, of deep and sincere convictions. Out of respect for his master he always walked alongside of his horse ready to meet his every need." (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab," p. 294.) 


19.12. "No one is to be slain for unbelief, for the slaying of a soul is outside the religion of God; ... and if anyone commands it, he is not and has not been of the Bayan, and no sin can be greater for him than this." ("The Bayan." See Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, Oct. 1889, art. 12, pp. 927-8.)


19.13. "But the pain and the anger redoubled the strength of Mulla Husayn who with one single blow of his weapon cut in two the gun, the man and the tree." (Mirza Jani adds that the Bushru'i used his left hand on this occasion. The Mussulmans themselves do not question the authenticity of this anecdote.) (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab," p. 295 and note 215.) "Then Jinab-i-Babu'l-Bab turned himself about, saying: 'Now have they made it our duty to protect ourselves'; grasped the hilt of his sword; and, acquiescing in that which the providence of God had ordained, began to defend himself. Notwithstanding his slender and fragile frame and trembling hand, such were his valour and prowess on that day that whosoever had eyes to discern the truth could clearly see that such strength and courage could only be from God, being beyond human capacity.... Then I saw Mulla Husayn unsheathe his sword and raise his face towards heaven, and heard him exclaim: 'O God, I have completed the proof to this host, but it availeth not.' Then he began to attack us on the right and on the left. I swear by God that on that day he wielded the sword in such wise as transcends the power of man. Only the horsemen of Mazindaran held their ground and refused to flee. And when Mulla Husayn was well warmed to the fray, he overtook a fugitive soldier. The soldier sheltered himself behind a tree, and further strove to shield himself with his musket. Mulla Husayn dealt him such a blow with his sword that he clave him and the tree and the musket into six pieces." (The "Tarikh-i-Jadid," pp 49, 107-8.) 


19.14. 1848-9 A.D.


19.15. Mirza Taqi Khan, I'timadu'd-Dawlih, Grand Vazir and successor to Haji Mirza Aqasi. The following reference is made to him in "A Traveller's Narrative" (pp. 32-3): "Mirza Taqi Khan Amir-Nizam, who was Prime Minister and Chief Regent, seized in the grasp of his despotic power the reins of the affairs of the commonwealth, and urged the steed of his ambition into the arena of wilfulness and sole possession. The minister was a person devoid of experience and wanting in consideration for the consequences of actions; bloodthirsty and shameless; and swift and ready to shed blood. Severity in punishing he regarded as wise administration, and harshly entreating, distressing, intimidating, and frightening the people he considered as a fulcrum for the advancement of the monarchy. And as His Majesty the King was in the prime of youthful years the minister fell into strange fancies and sounded the drum of absolutism in (the conduct of) affairs: on his own decisive resolution, without seeking permission from the Royal Presence or taking counsel with prudent statesmen, he issued orders to persecute the Babis, imagining that by overweening force he could eradicate and suppress matters of this nature, and that harshness would bear good fruit; whereas (in fact) to interfere with matters of conscience is simply to give them greater currency and strength; the more you strive to extinguish, the more will the fame be kindled, more specially in matters of faith and religion, which spread and acquire influence so soon as blood is shed, and strongly affect men's hearts."


19.16. See Glossary.


19.17. Qur'an, 9:52.


19.18. "'The Babu'l-Bab,' says our author, 'wishing to fulfill a religious duty and at the same time to give an example of the firm conviction of the believers, of their contempt for life, and to show the world the impiety and irreligion of the so called Mussulmans, commanded one of his followers to ascend the terrace and intone the adhan.'" (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab," pp. 295-6.) "It was at Marand," writes Lady Sheil, "that I first heard the adhan, or call of the Muslims to prayer, so solemn and impressive, specially when well chanted, for it is in fact a chant.... He turned towards Mecca, and placing his open hands to his head, proclaimed with a loud sonorous voice, 'Allah-u-Akbar,' which he repeated four times; then 'Ashhad-u-an-la-ilah-a-illa'llah'—(I bear witness there is no God but God), twice; then 'Ashhad-u-inna-Muhammadan-Rasu'llah' —(I bear witness that Muhammad is the Prophet of God), twice; then 'I bear witness that 'Ali, the Commander of the Faithful, is the friend of God.'... The single toll in the knell for transporting the dead to their last earthly abode arouses, perhaps from association, ideas of profound solemnity; so too does the trumpet echoing through the camp when it ushers the dragoon to his grave; but above both, in solemn awe, is the keening as it sweeps afar over the dales and hills of Munster, announcing that a Gael has been gathered to his fathers. The adhan excites a different impression. It raises in the mind a combination of feelings, of dignity, solemnity, and devotion, compared with which the din of bells becomes insignificant. It is an imposing thing to hear in the dead of the night the first sounds of the mu'adhdhin proclaiming 'Allah-u-Akbar—Mighty is the Lord—I bear witness there is no God but God!' St. Peter's and St. Paul's together can produce nothing equal to it." ("Glimpses of Life and Manners in Persia," pp. 84, 85.)


19.19. "Sa'idu'l-'Ulama' wishing to have done at any cost, gathered together as many people as he could and again began the attack in front of the caravansary. The struggle had been waging from five to six days when 'Abbas-Quli Khan Sardar-i-Larijani appeared. In the meantime, and since the outbreak of the conflict, the ulamas of Barfurush exasperated by the numerous conversions which Quddus had been able to make in the city (three hundred in a week, the Muhammadan historians admit reluctantly), referred the case to the governor of the province, Prince Khanlan Mirza. He, however, paid no attention to their grievances, having many other preoccupations. "The death of Muhammad Shah worried him much more than the wrangling of the mullas and he made ready to go to Tihran to pay homage to the new king, whose favor he hoped to win. "Having failed in this attempt, under the pressure of events, the ulamas wrote a very urgent letter to the military chief of the province, 'Abbas-Quli Khan-i-Larijani. He however, thinking it unnecessary to trouble himself, sent Muhammad Bik, yavar (captain), at the head of three hundred men, to restore order. Thus it was that the Muhammadans began to attack the caravansary. The struggle went on, but if ten Babis were killed, an infinitely larger number of aggressors bit the dust. As things continued to drag along, 'Abbas-Quli Khan felt he should come himself in order to size up the situation." (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab," pp. 296-297.)


19.20. Gobineau describes him in the following terms: "The Turkish and Persian nomads pass their lives in hunting, often also in fighting and above all in talking of the hunt and of war. They are brave but not always and they are well described by Branttome who, in his war experience had often encountered that type of bravery which he called 'one day courage.' But this is what they are in a very regular and consistent manner, great talkers, great wreckers of towns, great assassins of heroes, great exterminators of multitudes, in a word, naive, very outspoken in their sentiments, very violent in the expression of anything which arouses them and extremely amusing. 'Abbas-Quli Khan-i-Larijani although well-born, was a perfect type of nomad." (Comte de Gobineau's "Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale," p. 171.) 


19.21. A notorious scoundrel who often rebelled against the government.


19.22. October 10, 1848 A.D.


19.23. Qur'an, 17:7.


19.24. See Glossary. 


19.25. According to "A Traveller's Narrative" (p. 36), it was Mirza Lutf-'Ali, the secretary, who drew his dagger and stabbed Khusraw. 


19.26. See Glossary.


19.27. "Then turning to his companions he said: 'During these few days of life which remain to us, let us beware not to be divided and estranged by perishable riches. Let all this be held in common and let everyone share in its benefits.' The Babis agreed with joy and it is this marvellous spirit of self-sacrifice and this complete self-abnegation which made their enemies say that they advocated collective ownership in earthly goods and even women!" (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab," p. 299.) 


19.28. See Glossary. 


19.29. Shrine of Shaykh Ahmad-ibn-i-Abi-Talib-i-Tabarsi, situated about fourteen miles S.E. of Barfurush. Professor Browne, of Cambridge University, visited the spot on September 26, 1888, and saw the name of the buried saint inscribed on a tablet with the form of words used for his "visitation," the tablet hanging suspended from the railings surrounding the tomb. "It consists at present," he writes, "of a flat, grassy enclosure surrounded by a hedge, and containing, besides the buildings of the shrine and another building at the gateway (opposite to which, but outside the enclosure, stands the house of the mutavalli, or custodian of the shrine), nothing but two or three orange trees and a few rude graves covered with flat stones, the last resting places, perhaps, of some of the Babi defenders. The building at the gateway is two storeys high, is traversed by the passage giving access to the enclosure, and is roofed with tiles. The buildings of the shrine, which stand at the farther end of the enclosure, are rather more elaborate. Their greatest length (about 20 paces) lies east and west; their breadth is about ten paces; and, besides the covered portico at the entrance, they contain two rooms scantily lighted by wooden gratings over the doors. The tomb of the Shaykh, from whom the place takes its name, stands surrounded by wooden railings in the centre of the inner room, to which access is obtained either by a door communicating with the outer chamber, or by a door opening externally into the enclosure." (For plans and sketches, see the author's translation of the "Tarikh-i-Jadid.") (E. G. Browne's "A Year Amongst the Persians," p. 565.)


19.30. October 12, 1848 A.D.


19.31. See Glossary. 


19.32. July 3-August 1, 1848 A.D. 


19.33. April 24-May 23, 1849 A.D.


19.34. Literally "Remnant of God." 


19.35. Qur'an, 11:85.


19.36. See Glossary.


19.37. November 27, 1848 A.D.


19.38. Reference to the year 1280 A.H. (1863-4 A.D.), in which Baha'u'llah declared His Mission in Baghdad. 


19.39. The assembling of three hundred and thirteen chosen supporters of the imam in Taliqan of Khurasan is one of the signs that must needs herald the advent of the promised Qa'im. (E. G. Browne's "A History of Persian Literature in Modern Times" [A.D. 1500-1924], p. 399.) 


19.40. "Amongst them also was Rida Khan, the son of Muhammad Khan the Turkaman, Master of the Horse to his late Majesty Muhammad Shah. And he was a youth graceful of form, comely of face, endowed with all manner of talents and virtues, dignified, temperate, gentle, generous, courageous, and manly. For the love and service of His Supreme Holiness he forsook both his post and his salary, and shut his eyes alike to rank and name, fame and shame, reproaches of friends and revilings of foes. At the first step he left behind him dignity, wealth, position, and all the power and consideration which he enjoyed, spent large sums of money (four or five thousand tumans at least) in the Cause, and repeatedly showed his readiness freely to lay down his life. One of these occasions was when His Supreme Holiness arrived at the village of Khanliq near Tihran, and, to try the fidelity of His followers, said: 'Were there but a few horsemen who would deliver Me from the bonds of the froward and their devices, it were not amiss.' On hearing these words, several tried and expert horsemen, fully equipped and armed, at once prepared to set out, and, renouncing all that they had, hastily conveyed themselves before His Holiness. Amongst these were Mirza Qurban-'Ali, of Astarabad, and Rida Khan. When they were come before His Holiness, He smiled and said, 'The mountain of Adhirbayjan has also a claim on Me,' and bade them turn back. After his return, Rida Khan devoted himself to the service of the friends of God, and his house was often the meeting place of the believers, amongst whom both Jinab-i-Quddus and Jinab-i-Babu'l-Bab were for a while his honoured guests. Indeed, he neither spared himself nor fell short in the service of any of this circle, but, notwithstanding his high position, strove with heart and soul to further the objects of God's servants. When, for instance, Jinab-i-Quddus first began to preach the doctrine in Mazindaran, and the Sa'idu'l-'Ulama', being informed of this, made strenuous efforts to do him injury, Rida Khan at once hastened to Mazindaran, and, whenever Jinab-i-Quddus went forth from his house, used, in spite of his high position and the respect to which he was accustomed, to walk on foot before him with his drawn sword over his shoulder; seeing which, the malignants feared to take any liberty.... For some while, Rida Khan remained after this fashion in Mazindaran, until he accompanied Jinab-i-Quddus to Mashhad. On his return thence, he was present at the troubles at Badasht, where he performed the most valuable services, and was entrusted with the most important and delicate commissions. After the meeting at Badasht was dispersed, he fell ill, and, in company with Mirza Sulayman-Quli of Nur (a son of the late Shatir-bashi, also conspicuous for his virtues, learning, and devotion), came to Tihran. Rida Khan's illness lasted for some while, and on his recovery the siege of the castle of Tabarsi had already waxed grievous. He at once determined to go to the assistance of the garrison. Being, however, a man of mark and well known, he could not leave the capital without giving some plausible reason. He therefore pretended to repent his former course of action, and begged that he might be sent to take part in the war in Mazindaran, and thus make amends for the past. The king granted his request, and he was appointed to accompany the force proceeding under Prince Mihdi-Quli Mirza against the castle. During the march thither, he was continually saying to the prince, 'I will do this,' and 'I will do that'; so that the prince came to entertain high hopes of him, and promised him a post commensurate with his services, for till the day when battle was inevitable and peace no longer possible, he was ever foremost in the army and most active in ordering its affairs. But on the first day of battle he began to gallop his horse and practise other martial exercises, until, without having aroused suspicion, he suddenly gave it free rein and effected a junction with the Brethren of Purity. On arriving in their midst, he kissed the knee of Jinab-i-Quddus and prostrated himself before him in thankfulness. Then he once more returned to the battle-field, and began to revile and curse the prince, saying: 'Who is man enough to trample underfoot the pomp and circumstance of the world, free himself from the bonds of carnal lusts, and join himself, as I have done, to the saints of God? I, for my part, shall be satisfied with my head only when it falls stained with dust and blood in this plain.' Then, like a ravening lion, he rushed upon them with naked brand, and quitted himself so manfully that all the royalist officers were astonished, saying: 'Such valour must have been newly granted him from on high, or else a new spirit hath been breathed into his frame.' For it happened more than once that he cut down a gunner as he was in the very act of firing his gun, while so many of the chief officers of the royalist army fell by his hand that the prince and the other commanding officers desired more eagerly to revenge themselves on him than on any other of the Babis. Therefore, on the eve of the day appointed for Jinab-i-Quddus to surrender himself at the royalist camp, Rida Khan, knowing that because of the fierce hatred which they bore him they would slay him with the most cruel tortures, went by night to the quarters of an officer in the camp who was an old and faithful friend and comrade. After the massacre of the other Babis, search was made for Rida Khan, and he was at length discovered. The officer who had sheltered him proposed to ransom him for the sum of two thousand tumans in cash, but his proposal was rejected, and though he offered to increase the sum, and strove earnestly to save his friend, it was of no avail, for the prince, because of the exceeding hatred he bore Rida Khan, ordered him to be hewn in pieces." (The "Tarikh-i-Jadid," pp. 96-101.)


19.41. "According to the descriptions which I have heard, the fortress erected by Mulla Husayn soon became a very strong building. Its walls made of large stones reached a height of ten meters. On this base, they raised a construction made of enormous tree trunks in the middle of which they arranged a number of loopholes; they then surrounded it entirely with a deep ditch. In fact it was a kind of great tower having stones for the foundation while the higher stories were of wood and provided with three rows of loopholes where they could place as many tufang-chis as they wished, or rather, as they had. They made openings for many doors and postern gates in order to facilitate entrance and exit. "They dug wells, thus securing an abundance of water; underground passages were excavated in order to provide refuge in case of need; storehouses were built and filled with all sorts of provisions either bought, or perhaps taken in the neighboring villages. Finally, they manned the fortress with the most energetic Babis, the most devoted, and the most dependable available among them." (Comte de Gobineau's "Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale," p. 156.)


19.42. "Thus, frantic about the maintenance of order, the Amir-Nizam disposed quickly of the Mazindaran question. When the leading men of this province came to Tihran to pay their respects to the king, they were ordered, as they departed, to take necessary measures to put an end to the sedition of the Babis. They promised to do their best and in fact, as soon as they returned, these chiefs began to gather their forces and to deliberate. They wrote to their relations to come and join them. Haji Mustafa Khan called for his brother 'Abdu'llah. 'Abbas-Quli Khan-i-Larijani sent for Muhammad-Sultan and 'Ali-Khan of Savad-Kuh. All of these worthies decided to attack the Babis in their fortress before they, themselves, could assume the defensive. The royal officers, seeing the chiefs of the country so willing, summoned a grand council to which hastened the lords already mentioned and also Mirza Aqa, Mustawfi of Mazindaran, superintendent of finances, the head of the ulamas and many other men of high standing." (Ibid., pp. 160-161.)


19.43. See Glossary. 


19.44. "On his side, the superintendent of finances raised a troop amongst the Afghans domiciled at Sari and added to it several men from the Turkish tribes under his administration. 'Ali-Abad, the village so severely punished by the Babis, which aspired to avenge itself, furnished what it could and was reinforced by a party of men from Qadi, who, being in the neighborhood, were willing to enlist." (Comte de Gobineau's "Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale," p. 161.)


19.45. December 1, 1848 A.D.


19.46. See Glossary.


19.47. "The Amir-Nizam grew violently angry at the news of what had happened. The description of the terrors aroused his indignation. Too far from the scene of action to appraise the wild enthusiasm of the rebels, the only conclusion he could reach was that the Babis should be done away with before their courage could be further stimulated by real victories. The Prince Mihdi-Quli Mirza, appointed lieutenant of the king in the threatened province, left with a grant of extraordinary powers. Instructions were given to draw up a list of the men who had died in the attack on the Babis' fortress and in the sacking of Ferra and pensions were promised to the survivors. "Haji Mustafa Khan, brother of 'Abdu'llah, received substantial tokens of the royal favor; in a word, all that was possible was done to restore the courage and confidence of the Mussulmans." (Comte de Gobineau's "Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale," pp. 163-164.)


19.48. "We have left Mihdi-Quli Mirza running away from his burning home and wandering alone in the country, in the snow and the darkness. Toward dawn, he found himself in an unknown mountain pass, lost in a wild country, but in reality only a short distance away from the slaughter of battle. The wind brought to his ears the noise of the volleys of musketry. "In this sad state, completely bewildered, he was met by a Mazindarani, mounted on a fairly good horse, who recognized him. This man dismounted, placed the Prince on his horse and offered to serve him as guide. He led him to a peasant's hut, settled him in the barn (this is not considered a place to frown upon in Persia) and while the Prince slept and ate, the Mazindarani mounted his horse and, covering the country side, gave out the glad tidings that the Prince was safe and well. Thus he brought to him all his men, or at least a respectable number of them, one band after another. "If Mihdi-Quli Mirza had been one of those proud spirits not easily broken by reverses, he would have considered his position only slightly altered by the mishaps of the previous evening; he could have believed that his men had been unfortunately surprised; then with the remainder of his forces he would have saved appearances and held the ground, for in fact, the Babis had retreated and were out of sight. But the Shahzadih, far from priding himself on such firmness, was a weak character and, when he saw himself so well guarded, he left the barn and hurried to the village of Qadi-Kala whence he reached Sari in great haste. This conduct strengthened in the whole province the impression caused by the defeat of Vaskas. Panic ensued, open towns believed themselves exposed to every danger and, in spite of the rigor of the season, one could see caravans of non-combatants in great distress, taking their wives and children to the desert of Damavand to save them from the miserable dangers which the cautious conduct of Shahzadih seemed to foretell. When the Asiatics lose their heads they do so completely." (Comte de Gobineau's "Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale," pp. 169-170.) 


19.49. "In a few moments his army already in such confusion, was scattered by the three hundred men of Mulla Husayn! Was not this the sword of the Lord and of Gideon?" (Ibid., p. 167.) 


19.50. According to Gobineau (p. 167), they were Sultan Husayn Mirza, son of Fath-'Ali Shah, and Dawud Mirza, son of Zillu's-Sultan, uncle of the Shah. A. L. M. Nicolas, in his "Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab" (p. 308), adds Mustawfi Mirza 'Abdu'l-Baqi.


19.51. See Glossary.


19.52. December 21, 1848 A.D.


19.53. "O Shaykh! Things the like of which no eye hath seen have befallen this wronged one. Gladly and with the utmost resignation I have accepted to suffer, that thereby the souls of men may be enlightened and the Word of God be established. When we were imprisoned in the Land of Mim [Mazindaran], they one day delivered us into the hands of the ulamas. That which ensued, thou canst well imagine!" ("The Epistle to the Son of the Wolf," p. 57.) 


19.54. Literally "prayer-house." 


19.55. Literally "black pit," the subterranean dungeon in which Baha'u'llah was imprisoned.



CHAPTER XX

THE MAZINDARAN UPHEAVAL (Continued)


[378] The forces under the command of Prince Mihdi-Quli Mirza meanwhile had recovered from the state of utter demoralisation into which they had sunk, and were now diligently preparing to renew their attack upon the occupants of the fort of Tabarsi. The latter found themselves again encompassed by a numerous host, at the head of which marched 'Abbas-Quli Khan-i-Larijani and Sulayman Khan-i-Afshar-i-Shahriyari, who, together with several regiments of infantry and cavalry, had hastened to reinforce the company of the prince's soldiers.1 Their combined forces encamped in the neighbourhood of the fort,2 and proceeded to erect a series of seven barricades around it. With the utmost arrogance, they sought at first to display the extent of the forces at their command, and indulged with increasing zest in the daily exercise of their arms. 


[379] The scarcity of water had, in the meantime, compelled those who were besieged to dig a well within the enclosure of the fort. On the day the work was to be completed, the eighth day of the month of Rabi'u'l-Avval,3 Mulla Husayn, who was watching his companions perform this task, remarked: "To-day we shall have all the water we require for our bath. Cleansed of all earthly defilements, we shall seek the court of the Almighty, and shall hasten to our eternal abode. Whoso is willing to partake of the cup of martyrdom, let him prepare himself and wait for the hour when he can seal with his life-blood his faith in his Cause. This night, ere the hour of dawn, let those who wish to join me be ready to issue forth from behind these walls and, scattering once again the dark forces which have beset our path, ascend untrammelled to the heights of glory."


That same afternoon, Mulla Husayn performed his ablutions, clothed himself in new garments, attired his head with the Bab's turban, and prepared for the approaching encounter. An undefinable joy illumined his face. He serenely alluded to the hour of his departure, and continued to his last moments to animate the zeal of his companions. Alone with Quddus, who so powerfully reminded him of his Beloved, he poured forth, as he sat at his feet in the closing moments of his earthly life, all that an enraptured soul could no longer restrain. Soon after midnight, as soon as the morning-star had risen, the star that heralded to him the dawning light of eternal reunion with his Beloved, he started to his feet and, mounting his charger, gave the signal that the gate of the fort be opened. As he rode out at the head of three hundred and thirteen of his companions to meet the enemy, the cry of "Ya Sahibu'z-Zaman!"4 again broke forth, a cry so intense and powerful that forest, fort, and camp vibrated to its resounding echo.


Mulla Husayn first charged the barricade which was defended by Zakariyyay-i-Qadi-Kala'i, one of the enemy's most valiant officers. Within a short space of time, he had broken 


[380] through that barrier, disposed of its commander, and scattered his men. Dashing forward with the same swiftness and intrepidity, he overcame the resistance of both the second and third barricades, diffusing, as he advanced, despair and consternation among his foes. Undeterred by the bullets which rained continually upon him and his companions, they pressed forward until the remaining barricades had all been captured and overthrown. In the midst of the tumult which ensued, 'Abbas-Quli Khan-i-Larijani had climbed a tree, and, hiding himself in its branches, lay waiting in ambush for his opponents. Protected by the darkness which surrounded him, he was able to follow from his hiding place the movements of Mulla Husayn and his companions, who were exposed to the fierce glare of the conflagration which they had raised. The steed of Mulla Husayn suddenly became entangled in the rope of an adjoining tent, and ere he was able to extricate himself, he was struck in the breast by a bullet from his treacherous assailant. Though the shot was successful, 'Abbas-Quli Khan was unaware of the identity of the horseman he had wounded. Mulla Husayn, who was bleeding profusely, dismounted from his horse, staggered a few steps, and, unable to proceed further, fell exhausted upon the ground. Two of his young companions, of Khurasan, Quli, and Hasan, came to his rescue and bore him to the fort.5 


[381] I have heard the following account from Mulla Sadiq and Mulla Mirza Muhammad-i-Furughi: "We were among those who had remained in the fort with Quddus. As soon as Mulla Husayn, who seemed to have lost consciousness, was brought in, we were ordered to retire. 'Leave me alone with him,' were the words of Quddus as he bade Mirza Muhammad-Baqir close the door and refuse admittance to anyone desiring to see him. 'There are certain confidential matters which I desire him alone to know.' We were amazed a few moments later when we heard the voice of Mulla Husayn replying to questions from Quddus. For two hours they continued to converse with each other. We were surprised to see Mirza Muhammad-Baqir so greatly agitated. 'I was watching Quddus,' he subsequently informed us, 'through a fissure in the door. As soon as he called his name, I saw Mulla Husayn arise and seat himself, in his customary manner, on bended knees beside him. With bowed head and downcast eyes, he listened to every word that fell from the lips of Quddus, and answered his questions. "You have hastened the hour of your departure," I was able to hear Quddus remark, "and have abandoned me to the mercy of my foes. Please God, I will ere long join you and taste the sweetness of heaven's ineffable delights." I was able to gather the following words uttered by Mulla Husayn: "May my life be a ransom for you. Are you well pleased with me?"' "A long time elapsed before Quddus bade Mirza Muhammad-Baqir open the door and admit his companions. 'I have bade my last farewell to him,' he said, as we entered the room. 'Things which previously I deemed it unallowable to utter I have now shared with him.' We found on our arrival that Mulla Husayn had expired. A faint smile still lingered upon his face. Such was the peacefulness of his countenance that he seemed to have fallen asleep. Quddus attended to his burial, clothed him in his own shirt, and gave instructions to lay him to rest to the south of, and adjoining, the shrine of Shaykh Tabarsi.6 'Well is it with you to have remained to your last hour faithful to the Covenant [382] of God,' he said, as he laid a parting kiss upon his eyes and forehead. 'I pray God to grant that no division ever be caused between you and me.' He spoke with such poignancy that the seven companions who were standing beside him wept profusely, and wished they had been sacrificed in his stead. Quddus, with his own hands, laid the body in the tomb, and cautioned those who were standing near him to maintain secrecy regarding the spot which served as his resting place, and to conceal it even from their companions. He afterwards instructed them to inter the bodies of the thirty-six martyrs who had fallen in the course of that engagement in one and the same grave on the northern side of the shrine of Shaykh Tabarsi. 'Let the loved ones of God,' he was heard to remark as he consigned them to their tomb, 'take heed of the example of these martyrs of our Faith. Let them in life be and remain as united as these are now in death.'"


No less than ninety of the companions were wounded that night, most of whom succumbed. From the day of their arrival at Barfurush to the day they were first attacked, which fell on the twelfth of Dhi'l-Qa'dih in the year 1264 A.H.,7 to the day of the death of Mulla Husayn, which took place at the hour of dawn on the ninth of Rabi'u'l-Avval in the year 1265 A.H.,8 the number of martyrs, according to the computation of Mirza Muhammad-Baqir, had reached a total of seventy-two.


From the time when Mulla Husayn was assailed by his enemies to the time of his martyrdom was a hundred and sixteen days, a period rendered memorable by deeds so heroic that even his bitterest foes felt bound to confess their wonder. On four distinct occasions, he rose to such heights of courage and power as few indeed could attain. The first encounter took place on the twelfth of Dhi'l-Qa'dih,9 in the outskirts of Barfurush; the second, in the immediate neighbourhood of the fort of Shaykh Tabarsi, on the fifth day of the month of Muharram,10 against the forces of 'Abdu'llah Khan-i-Turkaman; the third, in Vas-Kas, on the twenty-fifth day of Muharram,11 and was directed against the army of Prince [383] Mihdi-Quli Mirza. The last and most memorable battle of all was directed against the combined forces of 'Abbas-Quli Khan, of Prince Mihdi-Quli Mirza, and of Sulayman Khan-i-Afshar, assisted by a company of forty-five officers of tried ability and matured experience. From each of these hot and fierce engagements Mulla Husayn emerged, in spite of the overwhelming forces arrayed against him, unscathed and triumphant. In each encounter he distinguished himself by such acts of valour, of chivalry, of skill, and of strength that each one would alone suffice to establish for all time the transcendent character of a Faith for the protection of which he had so valiantly fought, and in the path of which he had so nobly died. The traits of mind and of character which, from his very youth, he displayed, the profundity of his learning, the tenacity of his faith, his intrepid courage, his singleness of purpose, his high sense of justice and unswerving devotion, marked him as an outstanding figure among those who, by their lives, have borne witness to the glory and power of the new Revelation. He was six and thirty years old when he quaffed the cup of martyrdom. At the age of eighteen he made the acquaintance, in Karbila, of Siyyid Kazim-i-Rashti. For nine years he sat at his feet, and imbibed the lesson which was destined to prepare him for the acceptance of the Message of the Bab. The nine remaining years of his life were spent in the midst of a restless, a feverish activity which carried him eventually to the field of martyrdom, in circumstances that have shed imperishable lustre upon his country's history.12 

____________________

[384] 

So complete and humiliating a rout paralysed for a time the efforts of the enemy. Five and forty days passed before they could again reassemble their forces and renew their attack. During these intervening days, which ended with the day of Naw-Ruz, the intense cold which prevailed induced them to defer their venture against an opponent that had covered them with so much reproach and shame. Though their attacks had been suspended, the officers in charge of the remnants of the imperial army had given strict orders prohibiting the arrival of all manner of reinforcements at the fort. When the supply of their provisions was nearly exhausted, Quddus instructed Mirza Muhammad-Baqir to distribute among his companions the rice which Mulla Husayn had stored for such time as might be required. When each had received his portion, Quddus summoned them and said: "Whoever feels himself strong enough to withstand the calamities that are soon to befall us, let him remain with us in this fort. And whoever perceives in himself the least hesitation and fear, let him betake himself away from this place. Let him leave immediately ere the enemy has again assembled his forces and assailed us. The way will soon be barred before our face; we shall very soon encounter the severest hardship and fall a victim to devastating afflictions."


The very night Quddus had given this warning, a siyyid from Qum, Mirza Husayn-i-Mutavalli, was moved to betray his companions. "Why is it," he wrote to 'Abbas-Quli Khan-i-Larijani, "that you have left unfinished the work [385] which you have begun? You have already disposed of a formidable opponent. By the removal of Mulla Husayn, who was the moving force behind these walls, you have demolished the pillar on which the strength and security of the fort depend. Had you been patient for one more day, you would have assuredly won for yourself the laurels of victory. With no more than a hundred men, I pledge my word that within the space of two days you will be able to capture the fort and secure the unconditional surrender of its occupants. They are worn with famine and are being grievously tested." The sealed letter was entrusted to a certain Siyyid 'Aliy-i-Zargar, who, as he carried with him the share of the rice he had received from Quddus, stole out of the fort at the hour of midnight and delivered it to 'Abbas-Quli Khan, with whom he was already acquainted. The message reached him at a time when he had sought refuge in a village situated at a distance of four farsangs13 from the fort, and knew not whether he should return to the capital and present himself after such a humiliating defeat to his sovereign, or repair to his home in Larijan, where he was sure to face the reproaches of his relations and friends.


He had just risen from his bed when, at the hour of sunrise, the siyyid brought him the letter. The news of the death of Mulla Husayn nerved him to a fresh resolve. Fearing [386] lest the messenger should spread the report concerning the death of so redoubtable an opponent, he instantly killed him, and then contrived by some strange device to divert from himself the suspicion of murder. Resolved to take the fullest advantage of the distress of the besieged and of the depletion of their forces, he undertook immediately the necessary preparations for the resumption of his attacks. Ten days before Naw-Ruz, he had encamped at half a farsang from the fort, and had ascertained the accuracy of the message that treacherous siyyid had brought him. In the hope of obtaining for himself every possible credit for the eventual surrender of his opponents, he refused to divulge, to even his closest officers, the information he had received.


The day had just broken when he hoisted his standard14 and, marching at the head of two regiments of infantry and cavalry, encompassed the fort and ordered his men to open fire upon the sentinels who were guarding the turrets. "The betrayer," Quddus informed Mirza Muhammad-Baqir, who had hastened to acquaint him with the gravity of the situation, "has announced the death of Mulla Husayn to 'Abbas-Quli Khan. Emboldened by his removal, he is now determined to storm our stronghold and to secure for himself the honour of being its sole conqueror. Sally out and, with the aid of eighteen men marching at your side, administer a befitting chastisement upon the aggressor and his host. Let him realise that though Mulla Husayn be no more, God's [387] invincible power still continues to sustain his companions and enable them to triumph over the forces of their enemies."


No sooner had Mirza Muhammad-Baqir selected his companions than he ordered that the gate of the fort be flung open. Leaping upon their chargers and raising the cry of "Ya Sahibu'z-Zaman!" they plunged headlong into the camp of the enemy. The whole army fled in confusion before so terrific a charge. All but a few were able to escape. They reached Barfurush utterly demoralised and laden with shame. 'Abbas-Quli Khan was so shaken with fear that he fell from his horse. Leaving, in his distress, one of his boots hanging from the stirrup, he ran away, half shod and bewildered, in the direction which the army had taken. Filled with despair, he hastened to the prince and confessed the ignominious reverse he had sustained.15 Mirza Muhammad-Baqir, on his part, emerging together with his eighteen companions unscathed from that encounter, and holding in his hand the [388] standard which an affrighted enemy had abandoned, repaired with exultation to the fort and submitted to his chief, who had inspired him with such courage, this evidence of his victory.


So complete a rout immediately brought relief to the hard-pressed companions. It cemented their unity and reminded them afresh of the efficacy of that power with which their Faith had endowed them. Their food, alas, was by this time reduced to the flesh of horses, which they had brought away with them from the deserted camp of the enemy. With steadfast fortitude they endured the afflictions which beset them from every side. Their hearts were set on the wishes of Quddus; all else mattered but little. Neither the severity of their distress nor the continual threats of the enemy could cause them to deviate a hairbreadth from the path which their departed companions had so heroically trodden. A few were found who subsequently faltered in the darkest hour of adversity. The faint-heartedness which this negligible element was compelled to betray paled, however, into insignificance before the radiance which the mass of their stout-hearted companions shed in the hour of realised doom.


[389] Prince Mihdi-Quli Mirza, who was stationed in Sari, welcomed with keen delight the news of the defeat that had overtaken the forces under the immediate command of his colleague 'Abbas-Quli Khan. Though himself desirous of extirpating the band that had sought shelter behind the walls of the fort, he rejoiced at the knowledge that his rival had failed to secure the victory which he coveted.16 He wrote immediately to Tihran and demanded that reinforcements in the form of bomb-shells and camel-artillery, with all the necessary equipments, be despatched without delay to the neighbourhood of the fort, he being determined, this time, to effect the complete subjugation of its obstinate occupants.


Whilst their enemies were preparing for yet another and still fiercer attack upon their stronghold, the companions of Quddus, utterly indifferent to the gnawing distress that afflicted them, acclaimed with joy and gratitude the approach of Naw-Ruz. In the course of that festival, they gave free vent to their feelings of thanksgiving and praise in return for the manifold blessings which the Almighty had bestowed upon them. Though oppressed with hunger, they indulged in songs and merriment, utterly disdaining the danger with which they were beset. The fort resounded with the ascriptions of glory and praise which, both in the daytime and in the night-season, ascended from the hearts of that joyous band. The verse, "Holy, holy, the Lord our God, the Lord of the angels and the spirit," issued unceasingly from their lips, heightened their enthusiasm, and reanimated their courage.


All that remained of the cattle they had brought with them to the fort was a cow which Haji Nasiru'd-Din-i-Qazvini had set aside, and the milk of which he made into a pudding every day for the table of Quddus. Unwilling to [390] deny his hunger-stricken friends their share of the delicacy which his devoted companion prepared for him, Quddus would, after partaking of a few teaspoonfuls of that dish, invariably distribute the rest among them. "I have ceased to enjoy," he was often heard to remark, "since the departure of Mulla Husayn, the meat and drink which they prepare for me. My heart bleeds at the sight of my famished companions, worn and wasted around me." Despite these adverse circumstances, he unfailingly continued further to elucidate in his commentary the significance of the Sad of Samad, and to exhort his friends to persevere till the vary end in their heroic endeavours. At morn and at eventide, Mirza Muhammad-Baqir would chant, in the presence of the assembled believers, verses from that commentary, the reading of which would quicken their enthusiasm and brighten their hopes.


I have heard Mulla Mirza Muhammad-i-Furughi testify to the following: "God knows that we had ceased to hunger for food. Our thoughts were no longer concerned with matters pertaining to our daily bread. We were so enraptured by the entrancing melody of those verses that, were we to have continued for years in that state, no trace of weariness and fatigue could possibly have dimmed our enthusiasm or marred our gladness. And whenever the lack of nourishment would tend to sap our vitality and weaken our strength, Mirza Muhammad-Baqir would hasten to Quddus and acquaint him with our plight. A glimpse of his face, the magic of his words, as he walked amongst us, would transmute our despondency into golden joy. We were reinforced with a strength of such intensity that, had the hosts of our enemies appeared suddenly before us, we felt ourselves capable of subjugating their forces."


On the day of Naw-Ruz, which fell on the twenty-fourth of Rabi'u'th-Thani in the year 1265 A.H.,17 Quddus alluded, in a written message to his companions, to the approach of such trials as would bring in their wake the martyrdom of a considerable number of his friends. A few days later, an innumerable host,18 commanded by Prince Mihdi-Quli [391] Mirza19 and seconded by the joint forces of Sulayman Khan-i-Afshar, of 'Abbas-Quli Khan-i-Larijani, and of Ja'far-Quli Khan, assisted by about forty other officers, encamped in the neighbourhood of the fort, and set about constructing a series of trenches and barricades in its immediate vicinity.20 On the ninth day of the month of Baha,21 the commanding officer gave orders to those in charge of his artillery to open fire in the direction of the besieged. While the bombardment was in progress, Quddus emerged from his room and walked to the centre of the fort. His face was wreathed in smiles, and his demeanour breathed forth the utmost tranquillity. As he was pacing the floor, a cannon-ball fell suddenly before him. "How utterly unaware," he calmly remarked, as he rolled it with his foot, "are these boastful aggressors of the power of God's avenging wrath! Have they forgotten that a creature as insignificant as the gnat was capable of extinguishing [392] the life of the all-powerful Nimrod? Have they not heard that the roaring of the tempest was sufficient to destroy the people of 'Ad and Thamud and to annihilate their forces? Seek they to intimidate the heroes of God, in whose sight the pomp of royalty is but an empty shadow, with such contemptible evidences of their cruelty?" "You are," he added, as he turned to his friends, "those same companions of whom Muhammad, the Apostle of God, has thus spoken: 'Oh, how I long to behold the countenance of my brethren; my brethren who will appear in the end of the world! Blessed are we, blessed are they; greater is their blessedness than ours.' Beware lest you allow the encroachments of self and desire to impair so glorious a station. Fear not the threats of the wicked, neither be dismayed by the clamour of the ungodly. Each one of you has his appointed hour, and when that time is come, neither the assaults of your enemy nor the endeavours of your friends will be able either to retard or to advance that hour. If the powers of the earth league themselves against you, they will be powerless, ere that hour strikes, to lessen by one jot or tittle the span of your life. Should you allow your hearts to be agitated for but one moment by the booming of these guns which, with increasing violence, will continue to shower their shot upon this fort, you will have cast yourselves out of the stronghold of Divine protection."


So powerful an appeal could not fail to breathe confidence into the hearts of those who heard it. A few, however, whose countenances betrayed vacillation and fear, were seen huddled together in a sheltered corner of the fort, viewing with envy and surprise the zeal that animated their companions.22 


[393] The army of Prince Mihdi-Quli Mirza continued for a few days to fire in the direction of the fort. His men were surprised to find that the booming of their guns had failed to silence the voice of prayer and the acclamations of joy which the besieged raised in answer to their threats. Instead of the unconditional surrender which they expected, the call of the muadhdhin,23 the chanting of the verses of the Qur'an, and the chorus of gladsome voices intoning hymns of thanksgiving and praise reached their ears without ceasing.


Exasperated by these evidences of unquenchable fervour and impelled by a burning desire to extinguish the enthusiasm which swelled within the breasts of his opponents, Ja'far-quli Khan erected a tower, upon which he stationed his cannon,24 and from that eminence directed his fire into the heart of the fort. Quddus immediately summoned Mirza Muhammad-Baqir and instructed him to sally again and inflict upon the "boastful newcomer" a humiliation no less crushing than the one which 'Abbas-Quli Khan had suffered. [394] "Let him know," he added, "that God's lion-hearted warriors, when pressed and driven by hunger, are able to manifest deeds of such heroism as no ordinary mortals can show. Let him know that the greater their hunger, the more devastating shall be the effects of their exasperation."


Mirza Muhammad-Baqir again ordered eighteen of his companions to hurry to their steeds and follow him. The gates of the fort were thrown open, and the cry of "Ya Sahibu'z-Zaman!" —fiercer and more thrilling than ever—diffused panic and consternation in the ranks of the enemy. Ja'far-Quli Khan, with thirty of his men, fell before the sword of their adversary, who rushed to the tower, captured the guns, and hurled them to the ground. Thence they threw themselves upon the barricade which had been erected, demolished a number of them, and would, but for the approaching darkness, have captured and destroyed the rest.


Triumphant and unhurt, they repaired to the fort, carrying back with them a number of the stoutest and best-fed stallions which had been left behind. A few days elapsed during which there was no sign of a counter-attack.25 A sudden explosion in one of the ammunition stores of the enemy, which had caused the death of several artillery officers and a number of their fellow-combatants, forced them for one whole month to suspend their attacks upon the garrison.26 This lull enabled a number of the companions to emerge occasionally from their stronghold and gather such grass as they could find in the field as the only means wherewith to [395] allay their hunger. The flesh of horses, even the leather of their saddles, had been consumed by these hard-pressed companions. They boiled the grass and devoured it with piteous avidity.27 As their strength declined, as they languished exhausted within the walls of their fort, Quddus multiplied his visits to them, and endeavoured by his words of cheer and of hope to lighten the load of their agony.


The month of Jamadiyu'th-Thani28 had just begun when the artillery of the enemy was heard again discharging its showers of balls upon the fort. Simultaneously with the booming of the cannons, a detachment of the army, headed by a number of officers and consisting of several regiments of infantry and cavalry, rushed to storm it. The sound of their approach impelled Quddus to summon promptly his valiant lieutenant, Mirza Muhammad-Baqir, and to bid him emerge with thirty-six of his companions and repulse their attack. [396] "Never since our occupation of this fort," he added, "have we under any circumstances attempted to direct any offensive against our opponents. Not until they unchained their attack upon us did we arise to defend our lives. Had we cherished the ambition of waging holy war against them, had we harboured the least intention of achieving ascendancy through the power of our arms over the unbelievers, we should not, until this day, have remained besieged within these walls. The force of our arms would have by now, as was the case with the companions of Muhammad in days past, convulsed the nations of the earth and prepared them for the acceptance of our Message. Such is not the way, however, which we have chosen to tread. Ever since we repaired to this fort, our sole, our unalterable purpose has been the vindication, by our deeds and by our readiness to shed our blood in the path of our Faith, of the exalted character of our mission. The hour is fast approaching when we shall be able to consummate this task."


Mirza Muhammad-Baqir once more leaped on horseback and, with the thirty-six companions whom he had selected, confronted and scattered the forces which had beset him. He carried with him, as he re-entered the gate, the banner which an alarmed enemy had abandoned as soon as the reverberating cry of "Ya Sahibu'z-Zaman!" had been raised. Five of his companions suffered martyrdom in the course of that engagement, all of whom he bore to the fort and interred in one tomb close to the resting place of their fallen brethren.


Prince Mihdi-Quli Mirza, astounded by this further evidence of the inexhaustible vitality of his opponents, took counsel with the chiefs of his staff, urging them to devise such means as would enable him to bring that costly enterprise to a speedy end. For three days he deliberated with them, and finally came to the conclusion that the most advisable course to take would be to suspend all manner of hostilities for a few days in the hope that the besieged, exhausted with hunger and goaded by despair, would decide to emerge from their retreat and submit to an unconditional surrender.


As the prince was waiting for the consummation of the plan he had conceived, there arrived from Tihran a messenger [397] bearing to him the farman29 of his sovereign. This man was a resident of the village of Kand, a place not far from the capital. He succeeded in obtaining leave from the prince to enter the fort and attempt to induce two of its occupants, Mulla Mihdi and his brother Mulla Baqir-i-Kandi, to escape from the imminent danger to which their lives were exposed. As he approached its walls, he called the sentinels and asked them to inform Mulla Mihdiy-i-Kandi that an acquaintance of his desired to see him. Mulla Mihdi reported the matter to Quddus, who permitted him to meet his friend.


I have heard Aqay-i-Kalim give the following account, as related to him by that same messenger whom he met in Tihran: "'I saw,' the messenger informed me, 'Mulla Mihdi appear above the wall of the fort, his countenance revealing an expression of stern resolve that baffled description. He looked as fierce as a lion, his sword was girded on over a long white shirt after the manner of the Arabs, and he had a white kerchief around his head. "What is it that you seek?" he impatiently enquired. "Say it quickly, for I fear that my master will summon me and find me absent." The determination that glowed in his eyes confused me. I was dumbfounded at his looks and manner. The thought suddenly flashed through my mind that I would awaken a dormant sentiment in his heart. I reminded him of his infant child, Rahman, whom he had left behind in the village, in his eagerness to enlist under the standard of Mulla Husayn. In his great affection for the child, he had specially composed a poem which he chanted as he rocked his cradle and lulled him to sleep. "Your beloved Rahman," I said, "longs for the affection which you once lavished upon him. He is alone and forsaken, and yearns to see you." "Tell him from me," was the father's instant reply, "that the love of the true Rahman,30 a love that transcends all earthly affections, has so filled my heart that it has left no place for any other love besides His." The poignancy with which he uttered these words brought tears to my eyes. "Accursed," I indignantly exclaimed, "be those who consider you and your fellow-disciples as having strayed from the path of God!" [398] "What," I asked him, "if I venture to enter the fort and join you?" "If your motive be to seek and find the Truth," he calmly replied, "I will gladly show you the way. And if you seek to visit me as an old and lifelong friend, I will accord you the welcome of which the Prophet of God has spoken: 'Welcome your guests though they be of the infidels.' I will, faithful to that injunction, offer you the boiled grass and the churned bones which serve as my meat, the best I can procure for you. But if your intention be to harm me, I warn you that I will defend myself and will hurl you from the heights of these walls to the ground." His unswerving obstinacy convinced me of the futility of my efforts. I could feel that he was fired with such enthusiasm that, were the divines of the realm to assemble and endeavour to dissuade him from the course he had chosen to pursue, he would, alone and unaided, baffle their efforts. Neither, was I convinced, could all the potentates of the earth succeed in luring him away from the Beloved of his heart's desire. "May the cup," I was moved to say, "which your lips have tasted, bring you all the blessings you seek." "The prince," I added, "has vowed that whoever steps out of this fort will be secure from danger, that he will even receive a safe passage from him, as well as whatever expenses he may require for the journey to his home." He promised to convey the prince's message to his fellow-companions. "Is there anything further you wish to tell me?" he added. "I am impatient to join my master." "May God," I replied, "assist you in accomplishing your purpose." "He has indeed assisted me!" he burst forth in exultation. "How else could I have been delivered from the darkness of my prison-home in Kand? How could I have reached this exalted stronghold?" No sooner had he uttered these words than, turning his face away from me, he vanished from my sight.'"


As soon as he had joined his companions, Mulla Mihdi conveyed the prince's message to them. On the afternoon of that same day, Siyyid Mirza Husayn-i-Mutavalli, accompanied by his servant, left the fort and went directly to join the prince in his camp. The next day, Rasul-i-Bahnimiri and a few other of his companions, unable to resist the ravages of famine, and encouraged by the explicit assurances [399] of the prince, sadly and reluctantly separated themselves from their friends. No sooner had they stepped out of the fort than they were all instantly slain at the order of 'Abbas-Quli Khan-i-Larijani.


During the few days that elapsed after that incident, the enemy, still encamped in the neighbourhood of the fort, refrained from any act of hostility towards Quddus and his companions. On Wednesday morning, the sixteenth of Jamadiyu'th-Thani,31 an emissary of the prince arrived at the fort and requested that two representatives be delegated by the besieged to conduct confidential negotiations with them in the hope of arriving at a peaceful settlement of the issues outstanding between them.32


Accordingly, Quddus instructed Mulla Yusuf-i-Ardibili and Siyyid Riday-i-Khurasani to act as his representatives, and bade them inform the prince of his readiness to accede to his wish. Mihdi-Quli Mirza courteously received them, and invited them to partake of the tea which he had prepared. "We should," they said, as they declined his offer, "feel it to be an act of disloyalty on our part were we to partake of either meat or drink whilst our beloved leader languishes worn and famished in the fort." "The hostilities between us," the prince remarked, "have been unduly prolonged. We, on both sides, have fought long and suffered grievously. It is my fervent wish to achieve an amicable settlement of our differences." He took hold of a copy of the Qur'an that lay beside him, and wrote, with his own hand, in confirmation of his statement, the following words on the margin of the opening Surih: "I swear by this most holy Book, by the righteousness of God who has revealed it, and the Mission of Him who was inspired with its verses, that I cherish no other purpose than to promote peace and friendliness between us. Come forth from your stronghold and rest assured that no hand will be stretched forth against you. You yourself [400] and your companions, I solemnly declare, are under the sheltering protection of the Almighty, of Muhammad, His Prophet, and of Nasiri'd-Din Shah, our sovereign. I pledge my honour that no man, either in this army or in this neighbourhood, will ever attempt to assail you. The malediction of God, the omnipotent Avenger, rest upon me if in my heart I cherish any other desire than that which I have stated."


He affixed his seal to his statement and, delivering the Qur'an into the hands of Mulla Yusuf, asked him to convey his greetings to his leader and to present him this formal and written assurance. "I will," he added, "in pursuance of my declaration, despatch to the gate of the fort, this very afternoon, a number of horses, which I trust he and his leading companions will accept and mount, in order to ride to the neighbourhood of this camp, where a special tent will have been pitched for their reception. I would request them to be our guests until such time as I shall be able to arrange for their return, at my expense, to their homes."


Quddus received the Qur'an from the hand of his messenger, kissed it reverently, and said: "O our Lord, decide between us and between our people with truth; for the best to decide art Thou."33 Immediately after, he bade the rest of his companions prepare themselves to leave the fort. "By our response to their invitation," he told them, "we shall enable them to demonstrate the sincerity of their intentions."


As the hour of their departure approached, Quddus attired his head with the green turban which the Bab had sent to him at the time He sent the one that Mulla Husayn wore on the day of his martyrdom. At the gate of the fort, they mounted the horses which had been placed at their disposal, Quddus mounting the favourite steed of the prince which the latter had sent for his use. His chief companions, among whom were a number of siyyids and learned divines, rode behind him, and were followed by the rest, who marched on foot, carrying with them all that was left of their arms and belongings. As the company, who were two hundred and two in number, reached the tent which the prince had ordered to be pitched for Quddus in the vicinity of the public bath [401] of the village of Dizva, overlooking the camp of the enemy, they alighted and proceeded to occupy their lodgings in the neighbourhood of that tent.


Soon after their arrival, Quddus emerged from his tent and, gathering together his companions, addressed them in these words: "You should show forth exemplary renunciation, for such behaviour on your part will exalt our Cause and redound to its glory. Anything short of complete detachment will but serve to tarnish the purity of its name and to obscure its splendour. Pray the Almighty to grant that even to your 


last hour He may graciously assist you to contribute your share to the exaltation of His Faith."


A few hours after sunset, they were served with dinner brought from the camp of the prince. The food that was offered them in separate trays, each of which was assigned to a group of thirty companions, was poor and scanty. "Nine of us," those who were with Quddus subsequently related, "were summoned by our leader to partake of the dinner which had been served in his tent. As he refused to taste it, we too, following his example, refrained from eating. The attendants who waited upon us were delighted to partake of the dishes which we had refused to touch, and devoured their contents with appreciation and avidity." A few of the companions [402] who were dining outside the tent were heard remonstrating with the attendants, pleading that they were willing to buy from them, at however exorbitant a price, the bread which they needed. Quddus strongly disapproved of their conduct and rebuked them for the request they had made. But for the intercession of Mirza Muhammad-Baqir, he would have severely punished them for having so completely disregarded his earnest exhortations.


At daybreak a messenger arrived, summoning Mirza Muhammad-Baqir to the presence of the prince. With the consent of Quddus, he responded to that invitation, and returned an hour later, informing his chief that the prince had, in the presence of Sulayman Khan-i-Afshar, reiterated the assurances he had given, and had treated him with great consideration and kindness. "'My oath,' he assured me," Mirza Muhammad-Baqir explained, "'is irrevocable and sacred.' He cited the case of Ja'far-Quli Khan, who, notwithstanding his shameless massacre of thousands of soldiers of the imperial army, in the course of the insurrection fomented by the Salar, was pardoned by his sovereign and promptly invested with fresh honours by Muhammad Shah. To-morrow the prince intends to accompany you in the morning to the public bath, from whence he will proceed to your tent, after which he will provide the horses required to convey the entire company to Sang-Sar, from where they will disperse, some returning to their homes in 'Iraq, and others proceeding to Khurasan. At the request of Sulayman Khan, who urged that the presence of such a large gathering at such a fortified centre as Sang-Sar would be fraught with risk, the prince decided that the party should disperse, instead, at Firuz-Kuh. I am of opinion that what his tongue professes, his heart does not believe at all." Quddus, who shared his view, bade his companions disperse that very night, and stated that he himself would soon proceed to Barfurush. They hastened to implore him not to separate himself from them, and begged to be allowed to continue to enjoy the blessings of his companionship. He counselled them to be calm and patient, and assured them that, whatever afflictions the future might yet reveal, they would meet again. "Weep not," were his parting words; "the reunion which will follow this separation [403] will be such as shall eternally endure. We have committed our Cause to the care of God; whatever be His will and pleasure, the same we joyously accept."


The prince failed to redeem his promise. Instead of joining Quddus in his tent, he called him, with several of his companions, to his headquarters, and informed him, as soon as they reached the tent of the Farrash-Bashi,34 that he himself would summon him at noon to his presence. Shortly after, a number of the prince's attendants went and told the rest of the companions that Quddus permitted them to join him at the army's headquarters. Several of them were deceived by this report, were made captives, and were eventually sold as slaves. These unfortunate victims constitute the remnant of the companions of the fort of Shaykh Tabarsi, who survived that heroic struggle and were spared to transmit to their countrymen the woeful tale of their sufferings and trials.


Soon after, the prince's attendants brought pressure to bear upon Mulla Yusuf to inform the remainder of his companions of the desire of Quddus that they immediately disarm. "What is it that you will tell them exactly?" they asked him, as he was being conducted to a place at some distance from the army's headquarters. "I will," was the bold reply, "warn them that whatever be henceforth the nature of the message you choose to deliver to them on behalf of their leader, that message is naught but downright falsehood." These words had hardly escaped his lips when he was mercilessly put to death.


From this savage act they turned their attention to the fort, plundered it of its contents, and proceeded to bombard and demolish it completely.35 They then immediately encompassed the remaining companions and opened fire upon them. Any who escaped the bullets were killed by the swords of the officers and the spears of their men.36 In the [404] very throes of death, these unconquerable heroes were still heard to utter the words, "Holy, holy, O Lord our God, Lord of the angels and the spirit," words which in moments of exultation had fallen from their lips, and which they now repeated with undiminished fervour at this crowning hour of their lives.


As soon as these atrocities hath been perpetrated, the prince ordered those who had been retained as captives to be ushered, one after another, into his presence. Those among them who were men of recognised standing, such as the father of Badi',37 Mulla Mirza Muhammad-i-Furughi, and Haji Nasir-i-Qazvini,38 he charged his attendants to conduct to Tihran and obtain in return for their deliverance a ransom from each one of them in direct proportion to their capacity and wealth. As to the rest, he gave orders to his executioners that they be immediately put to death. A few were cut to pieces with the sword,39 others were torn asunder, a number were bound to trees and riddled with bullets, and still others were blown [405] from the mouths of cannons and consigned to the flames.40


This terrible butchery had hardly been concluded when three of the companions of Quddus, who were residents of Sang-Sar, were ushered into the presence of the prince. One of them was Siyyid Ahmad, whose father, Mir Muhammad-'Ali, a devoted admirer of Shaykh Ahmad-i-Ahsa'i, had been a man of great learning and distinguished merit. He, accompanied by this same Siyyid Ahmad and his brother, Mir Abu'l-Qasim, who met his death the very night on which Mulla Husayn was slain, had departed for Karbila in the year preceding the declaration of the Bab, with the intention of introducing his two sons to Siyyid Kazim. Ere his arrival, the siyyid had departed this life. He immediately determined to leave for Najaf. While in that city, the Prophet Muhammad one night appeared to him in a dream, bidding the Imam 'Ali, the Commander of the Faithful, announce to him that after his death both his sons, Siyyid Ahmad and Mir Abu'l-Qasim, would attain the presence of the promised Qa'im and would each suffer martyrdom in His path. As soon as he awoke, he called for his son Siyyid Ahmad and acquainted him with his will and last wishes. On the seventh day after that dream he died.


In Sang-Sar two other persons, Karbila'i 'Ali and Karbila'i Abu-Muhammad, both known for their piety and spiritual insight, strove to prepare the people for the acceptance of [406] the promised Revelation, the advent of which they felt was fast approaching. In the year 1264 A.H.,41 they publicly announced that in that very year a man named Siyyid 'Ali would, preceded by a Black Standard and accompanied by a number of his chosen companions, set forth from Khurasan and proceed to Mazindaran. They urged every loyal adherent of Islam to arise and lend him every possible assistance. "The standard which he will hoist," they declared, "will be none other than the standard of the promised Qa'im; he who will unfurl it, none other than His lieutenant and chief promoter of His Cause. Whoso follows him will be saved, and he who turns away will be among the fallen." Karbila'i Abu-Muhammad urged his two sons, Abu'l-Qasim and Muhammad-'Ali, to arise for the triumph of the new Revelation and to sacrifice every material consideration for the attainment of that end. Both Karbila'i Abu-Muhammad and Karbila'i 'Ali died in the spring of that same year.


These two sons of Karbila'i Abu-Muhammad were the two companions who had been ushered, together with Siyyid Ahmad, into the presence of the prince. Mulla Zaynu'l-'Abidin-i-Shahmirzadi, one of the trusted and learned counsellors of the government, acquainted the prince with their story and related the experiences and activities of their respective fathers. "For what reason," Siyyid Ahmad was asked, "have you chosen to tread a path that has involved you and your kinsmen in such circumstances of wretchedness and disgrace? Could you not have been satisfied with the vast number of erudite and illustrious divines who are to be found in this land and in 'Iraq?" "My faith in this Cause," he fearlessly retorted, "is born not of idle imitation. I have dispassionately enquired into its precepts, and am convinced of its truth. When in Najaf, I ventured to request the preeminent mujtahid of that city, Shaykh Muhammad-Hasan-i-Najafi, to expound for me certain truths connected with the secondary principles underlying the teachings of Islam. He refused to accede to my request. I reiterated my appeal, whereupon he angrily rebuked me and persisted in his refusal. How can I, in the light of such experience, be expected to seek enlightenment on the abstruse articles of the Faith [407] of Islam from a divine, however illustrious, who refuses to answer my question on such simple and ordinary matters and who expresses his indignation at my having put such questions to him?" "What is your belief concerning Haji Muhammad-'Ali?" asked the prince. "We believe," he replied, "Mulla Husayn to have been the bearer of the standard of which Muhammad has spoken: 'Should your eyes behold the Black Standards proceeding from Khurasan, hasten ye towards them, even though ye should have to crawl over the snow.' For this reason we have renounced the world and have flocked to his standard, a standard which is but a symbol of our Faith. If you wish to bestow upon me a favour, bid your executioner put an end to me and enable me to be gathered to the company of my immortal companions. For the world and all its charms have ceased to allure me. I long to depart this life and return to my God." The prince, who was reluctant to take the life of a siyyid, refused to order his execution. His two companions, however, were immediately put to death. He, with his brother Siyyid Abu-Talib, was delivered into the hands of Mulla Zaynu'l-'Abidin, who was instructed to conduct them to Sang-Sar.


Meanwhile Mirza Muhammad-Taqi, accompanied by seven of the ulamas of Sari, set out from that town to share in the meritorious act of inflicting the punishment of death upon the companions of Quddus. When they found that they had already been put to death, Mirza Muhammad-Taqi urged the prince to reconsider his decision and to order the immediate execution of Siyyid Ahmad, pleading that his arrival at Sari would be the signal for fresh disturbances as grave as those which had already afflicted them. The prince eventually yielded, on the express condition that he be regarded as his guest until his own arrival at Sari, at which time he would take whatever measures were required to prevent him from disturbing the peace of the neighbourhood.


No sooner had Mirza Muhammad-Taqi taken the direction of Sari than he proceeded to vilify Siyyid Ahmad and his father. "Why ill-treat a guest," his captive pleaded, "whom the prince has committed to your charge? Why ignore the Prophet's injunction, 'Honour thy guest though he be an infidel'?" Roused to a burst of fury, Mirza Muhammad-Taqi, [408] together with his seven companions, drew their swords and cut his body to pieces. With his last breath Siyyid Ahmad was heard invoking the aid of the Sahibu'z-Zaman. As to his brother Siyyid Abu-Talib, he was safely conducted to Sang-Sar by Mulla Zaynu'l-'Abidin, and to this day resides with his brother Siyyid Muhammad-Rida in Mazindaran. Both are engaged in the service of the Cause and are accounted among its active supporters.


As soon as his work was completed, the prince, accompanied by Quddus, returned to Barfurush. They arrived on Friday afternoon, the eighteenth of Jamadiyu'th-Thani.42 The Sa'idu'l-'Ulama', together with all the ulamas of the town, came out to welcome the prince and to extend their congratulations on his triumphal return. The whole town was beflagged to celebrate the victory, and the bonfires which blazed at night witnessed to the joy with which a grateful population greeted the return of the prince. Three days of festivities elapsed during which he gave no indication as to his intention regarding the fate of Quddus. He vacillated in his policy, and was extremely reluctant to ill-treat his captive. He at first refused to allow the people to gratify their feelings of unrelenting hatred, and was able to restrain their fury. He had originally intended to conduct him to Tihran and, by delivering him into the hands of his sovereign, to relieve himself of the responsibility which weighed upon him.


The Sa'idu'l-'Ulama''s unquenchable hostility, however, interfered with the execution of this plan. The hatred with which Quddus and his Cause inspired him blazed into furious rage as he witnessed the increasing evidences of the prince's inclination to allow so formidable an opponent to slip from his grasp. Day and night he remonstrated with him and, with every cunning that his resourceful brain could devise, sought to dissuade him from pursuing a policy which he thought to be at once disastrous and cowardly. In the fury of his despair, he appealed to the mob and sought, by inflaming their passions, to awaken the basest sentiments of revenge in their hearts. The whole of Barfurush had been aroused by the persistency of his call. His diabolical skill [409] soon won him the sympathy and support of the masses. "I have vowed," he imperiously protested, "to deny myself both food and sleep until such time as I am able to end the life of Haji Muhammad-'Ali with my own hands!" The threats of an agitated multitude reinforced his plea and succeeded in arousing the apprehensions of the prince. Fearing that his own life might be endangered, he summoned to his presence the leading ulamas of Barfurush for the purpose of consulting as to the measures that should be taken to allay the tumult of popular excitement. All those who had been invited responded with the exception of Mulla Muhammad-i-Hamzih, who pleaded to be excused from attending that meeting. He had previously, on several occasions, endeavoured, during the siege of the fort, to persuade the people to refrain from violence. To him Quddus, a few days before his abandonment of the fort, had committed, through one of his trusted companions of Mazindaran, a locked saddlebag containing the text of his own interpretation of the Sad of Samad as well as all his other writings and papers that he had in his possession, the fate of which remains unknown until the present day.


No sooner had the ulamas assembled than the prince gave orders for Quddus to be brought into their presence. Since the day of his abandoning the fort, Quddus, who had been delivered into the custody of the Farrash-Bashi, had not been summoned to his presence. As soon as he arrived, the prince arose and invited him to be seated by his side. Turning to the Sa'idu'l-'Ulama', he urged that his conversations with him be dispassionately and conscientiously conducted. "Your discussions," he asserted, "must revolve around, and be based upon, the verses of the Qur'an and the traditions of Muhammad, by which means alone you can demonstrate the truth or falsity of your contentions." "For what reason," the Sa'idu'l-'Ulama' impertinently enquired, "have you, by choosing to place a green turban upon your head, arrogated to yourself a right which only he who is a true descendant of the Prophet can claim? Do you not know that whoso defies this sacred tradition is accursed of God?" "Was Siyyid Murtada," Quddus calmly replied, "whom all the recognised ulamas praise and esteem, a descendant of [410] the Prophet through his father or his mother?" One of those present at that gathering instantly declared the mother alone to have been a siyyid. "Why, then, object to me," retorted Quddus, "since my mother was always recognised by the inhabitants of this town as a lineal descendant of the Imam Hasan? Was she not, because of her descent, honoured, nay venerated, by every one of you?"


No one dared to contradict him. The Sa'idu'l-'Ulama' burst forth into a fit of indignation and despair. Angrily he flung his turban to the ground and arose to leave the meeting. "This man," he thundered, ere he departed, "has succeeded in proving to you that he is a descendant of the Imam Hasan. He will, ere long, justify his claim to be the mouthpiece of God and the revealer of His will!" The prince was moved to make this declaration: "I wash my hands of all responsibility for any harm that may befall this man. You are free to do what you like with him. You will yourselves be answerable to God on the Day of Judgment." Immediately after he had spoken these words, he called for his horse and, accompanied by his attendants, departed for Sari. Intimidated by the imprecations of the ulamas and forgetful of his oath, he abjectly surrendered Quddus to the hands of an unrelenting foe, those ravening wolves who panted for the moment when they could pounce, with uncontrolled violence, upon their prey, and let loose on him the fiercest passions of revenge and hate.


No sooner had the prince freed them from the restraints which he had exercised than the ulamas and the people of Barfurush, acting under orders from the Sa'idu'l-'Ulama',43 arose to perpetrate upon the body of their victim acts of such atrocious cruelty as no pen can describe. By the testimony of Baha'u'llah, that heroic youth, who was still on the threshold of his life, was subjected to such tortures and suffered [411] such a death as even Jesus had not faced in the hour of His greatest agony. The absence of any restraint on the part of the government authorities, the ingenious barbarity which the torture-mongers of Barfurush so ably displayed, the fierce fanaticism which glowed in the breasts of its shi'ah inhabitants, the moral support accorded to them by the dignitaries of Church and State in the capital—above all, the acts of heroism which their victim and his companions had accomplished and which had served to heighten their exasperation, all combined to nerve the hand of the assailants and to add to the diabolical ferocity which characterised his martyrdom.


Such were its circumstances that the Bab, who was then confined in the castle of Chihriq, was unable for a period of six months either to write or to dictate. The deep grief which he felt had stilled the voice of revelation and silenced His pen. How deeply He mourned His loss! What cries of anguish He must have uttered as the tale of the siege, the untold sufferings, the shameless betrayal, and the wholesale massacre of the companions of Shaykh Tabarsi reached His ears and was unfolded before His eyes! What pangs of sorrow He must have felt when He learned of the shameful treatment which His beloved Quddus had undergone in his hour of martyrdom at the hands of the people of Barfurush; how he was stripped of his clothes; how the turban which He had bestowed upon him had been befouled; how, barefooted, bareheaded, and loaded with chains, he was paraded through the streets, followed and scorned by the entire population of the town; how he was execrated and spat upon by the howling mob; how he was assailed with the knives and axes of the scum of its female inhabitants; how his body was pierced and mutilated, and how eventually it was delivered to the flames!


Amidst his torments, Quddus was heard whispering forgiveness to his foes. "Forgive, O my God," he cried, "the trespasses of this people. Deal with them in Thy mercy, for they know not what we already have discovered and cherish. I have striven to show them the path that leads to their salvation; behold how they have risen to overwhelm and kill me! Show them, O God, the way of Truth, and turn their ignorance into faith." In his hour of agony, the Siyyid-i-Qumi, [412] who had so treacherously deserted the fort, was seen passing by his side. Observing his helplessness, he smote him in the face. "You claimed," he cried in haughty scorn, 


"that your voice was the voice of God. If you speak the truth, burst your bonds asunder and free yourself from the hands of your enemies." Quddus looked steadfastly into his [413] face, sighed deeply, and said: "May God requite you for your deed, inasmuch as you have helped to add to the measure of my afflictions." Approaching the Sabzih-Maydan, he raised his voice and said: "Would that my mother were with me, and could see with her own eyes the splendour of my nuptials!" He had scarcely spoken these words when the enraged multitude fell upon him and, tearing his body to pieces, threw the scattered members into the fire which they had kindled for that purpose. In the middle of the night, what still remained of the fragments of that burned and mutilated body was gathered by the hand of a devoted friend44 and interred in a place not far distant from the scene of his martyrdom.45


It would be appropriate at this juncture to place on record the names of those martyrs who participated in the defence of the fort of Shaykh Tabarsi, in the hope that generations yet to come may recall with pride and gratitude the names, no less than the deeds, of those pioneers who, by their life and death, have so greatly enriched the annals of God's immortal Faith. Such names as I have been able to collect from various sources, and for which I am particularly indebted [414] to Ismu'llahu'l-Mim, Ismu'llahu'l-Javad, and Ismu'llahu'l-Asad, I now proceed to enumerate, trusting that even as in the world beyond their souls have been invested with the light of unfading glory, their names may likewise linger for ever on the tongues of men; that their mention may continue to evoke a like spirit of enthusiasm and devotion in the hearts of those to whom this priceless heritage has been transmitted. From my informants I not only have been able to gather the names of most of those who fell in the course of that memorable siege, but have also succeeded in obtaining a representative, though incomplete, list of all those martyrs who, from the year '6046 until the present day, the latter part of the month of Rabi'u'l-Avval in the year 1306 A.H.,47 have laid down their lives in the path of the Cause of God. It is my intention to make mention of each of these names in connection with the particular event with which it is chiefly connected. As to those who quaffed the cup of martyrdom while defending the fort of Tabarsi, their names are as follows:


1. First and foremost among them stands Quddus, upon whom the Bab bestowed the name of Ismu'llahu'l-Akhar.48 He, the Last Letter of the Living and the Bab's chosen companion [415] on His pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina, was, together with Mulla Sadiq and Mulla 'Ali-Akbar-i-Ardistani, the first to suffer persecution on Persian soil for the sake of the Cause of God. He was only eighteen years of age when he left his native town of Barfurush for Karbila. For about four years he sat at the feet of Siyyid Kazim, and at the age of twenty-two met and recognised his Beloved in Shiraz. Five years later, on the twenty-third day of Jamadiyu'th-Thani in the year 1265 A.H.,49 he was destined to fall, in the Sabzih-Maydan of Barfurush, a victim of the most refined and wanton barbarity at the hands of the enemy. The Bab and, at a later time, Baha'u'llah have mourned in unnumbered Tablets and prayers his loss, and have lavished on him their eulogies. Such was the honour accorded to him by Baha'u'llah that in His commentary on the verse of Kullu't-Ta'am,50 which He revealed while in Baghdad, He conferred upon him the unrivalled station of the Nuqtiy-i-Ukhra,51 a station second to none except that of the Bab Himself.52


2. Mulla Husayn, surnamed the Babu'l-Bab, the first to recognise and embrace the new Revelation. At the age of eighteen, he, too, departed from his native town of Bushruyih in Khurasan for Karbila, and for a period of nine years [416] remained closely associated with Siyyid Kazim. Four years prior to the Declaration of the Bab, acting according to the instructions of Siyyid Kazim, he met in Isfahan the learned mujtahid Siyyid Baqir-i-Rashti and in Mashhad Mirza 'Askari, to both of whom he delivered with dignity and eloquence the messages with which he had been entrusted by his leader. The circumstances attending his martyrdom evoked the Bab's inexpressible sorrow, a sorrow that found vent in eulogies and prayers of such great number as would be equivalent to thrice the volume of the Qur'an. In one of His visiting Tablets, the Bab asserts that the very dust of the ground where the remains of Mulla Husayn lie buried is endowed with such potency as to bring joy to the disconsolate and healing to the sick. In the Kitab-i-Iqan, Baha'u'llah extols with still greater force the virtues of Mulla Husayn. "But for him," He writes, "God would not have been established upon the seat of His mercy, nor have ascended the throne of eternal glory!"53


3. Mirza Muhammad-Hasan, the brother of Mulla Husayn.


4. Mirza Muhammad-Baqir, the nephew of Mulla Husayn. He, as well as Mirza Muhammad-Hasan, accompanied Mulla Husayn from Bushruyih to Karbila and from thence to Shiraz, where they embraced the Message of the Bab and were enrolled among the Letters of the Living. With the exception of the journey of Mulla Husayn to the castle of Mah-Ku, they continued to be with him until the time they suffered martyrdom in the fort of Tabarsi.


5. The brother-in-law of Mulla Husayn, the father of Mirza Abu'l-Hasan and Mirza Muhammad-Husayn, both of whom are now in Bushruyih, and into whose hands the care of the Varaqatu'l-Firdaws, Mulla Husayn's sister, is committed. Both are firm and devoted adherents of the Faith.


6. The son of Mulla Ahmad, the elder brother of Mulla Mirza Muhammad-i-Furughi. He, unlike his uncle, Mulla Mirza Muhammad, suffered martyrdom and was, as testified by the latter, a youth of great piety and distinguished for his learning and his integrity of character. 


7. [417] Mirza Muhammad-Baqir, known as Harati, though originally a resident of Qayin. He was a close relative of the father of Nabil-i-Akbar, and was the first in Mashhad to embrace the Cause. It was he who built the Babiyyih, and who devotedly served Quddus during his sojourn in that city. When Mulla Husayn hoisted the Black Standard, he, together with his child, Mirza Muhammad-Kazim, eagerly enrolled under his banner and went forth with him to Mazindaran. That child was saved eventually, and has now grown up into a fervent and active supporter of the Faith in Mashhad. It was Mirza Muhammad-Baqir who acted as the standard-bearer of the company, who designed the plan of the fort, its walls and turrets and the moat which surrounded it, who succeeded Mulla Husayn in organising the forces of his companions and in leading the charge against the enemy, and who acted as the intimate companion, the lieutenant and trusted counsellor of Quddus until the hour when he fell a martyr in the path of the Cause.


8. Mirza Muhammad-Taqiy-i-Juvayni, a native of Sabzihvar, who was distinguished for his literary accomplishments and was often entrusted by Mulla Husayn with the task of leading the charge against the assailants. His head and that of his fellow-companion, Mirza Muhammad-Baqir, were impaled on spears and paraded through the streets of Barfurush, amid the shouts and howling of an excited populace.


9. Qambar-'Ali, the fearless and faithful servant of Mulla Husayn, who accompanied him on his journey to Mah-Ku and who suffered martyrdom on the very night on which his master fell a victim to the bullets of the enemy. 


10. Hasan and 


11. Quli, who, together with a man named Iskandar, a native of Zanjan, bore the body of Mulla Husayn to the fort on the night of his martyrdom and placed it at the feet of Quddus. He it was, the same Hasan, who, by the orders of the chief constable of Mashhad, was led by a halter through the streets of that city. 


12. Muhammad-Hasan, the brother of Mulla Sadiq, whom the comrades of Khusraw slew on the way between Barfurush and the fort of Tabarsi. He distinguished himself [418] by his unwavering constancy, and had been one of the servants of the shrine of the Imam Rida.


13. Siyyid Rida, who, with Mulla Yusuf-i-Ardibili, was commissioned by Quddus to meet the prince, and who brought back with him the sealed copy of the Qur'an bearing the oath which the prince had written. He was one of the well-known siyyids of Khurasan, and was recognised for his learning as well as for the integrity of his character.


14. Mulla Mardan-'Ali, one of the noted companions from Khurasan, a resident of the village of Miyamay, the site of a well-fortified fortress situated between Sabzihvar and Shah-Rud. He, together with thirty-three companions, enlisted under the banner of Mulla Husayn on the day of the latter's passage through that village. It was in the masjid of Miyamay, to which Mulla Husayn had repaired in order to offer the Friday congregational prayer, that he delivered his soul-stirring appeal in which he laid stress upon the fulfilment of the tradition relating to the hoisting of the Black Standard in Khurasan, and in which he declared himself to be its bearer. His eloquent address profoundly impressed his hearers, so much so that on that very day the majority of those who heard him, most of whom were men of distinguished merit, arose and followed him. Only one of those thirty-three companions, a Mulla 'Isa, survived, whose sons are at present in the village of Miyamay, actively engaged in the service of the Cause. The names of the martyred companions of that village are as follows:

15. Mulla Muhammad-Mihdi,

16. Mulla Muhammad-Ja'far,

17. Mulla Muhammad-ibn-i-Mulla Muhammad,

18. Mulla Rahim,

19. Mulla Muhammad-Rida,

20. Mulla Muhammad-Husayn,

21. Mulla Muhammad,

22. Mulla Yusuf,

23. Mulla Ya'qub,

24. Mulla 'Ali,

25. Mulla Zaynu'l-'Abidin,

26. Mulla Muhammad, son of Mulla Zaynu'l-'Abidin,

27. Mulla Baqir,

28. [419] Mulla 'Abdu'l-Muhammad,

29. Mulla Abu'l-Hasan,

30. Mulla Isma'il,

31. Mulla 'Abdu'l-'Ali,

32. Mulla Aqa-Baba,

33. Mulla 'Abdu'l-Javad,

34. Mulla Muhammad-Husayn,

35. Mulla Muhammad-Baqir,

36. Mulla Muhammad,

37. Haji Hasan,

38. Karbila'i 'Ali,

39. Mulla Karbila'i 'Ali,

40. Karbila'i Nur-Muhammad,

41. Muhammad-Ibrahim,

42. Muhammad-Sa'im,

43. Muhammad-Hadi,

44. Siyyid Mihdi,

45. Abu-Muhammad.


Of the companions of the village of Sang-Sar, which forms part of the district of Simnan, eighteen were martyred. Their names are as follows:


46. Siyyid Ahmad, whose body was cut to pieces by Mirza Muhammad-Taqi and the seven ulamas of Sari. He was a noted divine and greatly esteemed for his eloquence and piety.


47. Mir Abu'l-Qasim, Siyyid Ahmad's brother, who won the crown of martyrdom on the very night on which Mulla Husayn met his death.


48. Mir Mihdi, the paternal uncle of Siyyid Ahmad,


49. Mir Ibrahim, the brother-in-law of Siyyid Ahmad,


50. Safar-'Ali, the son of Karbila'i 'Ali, who, together with Karbila'i Muhammad, had so strenuously endeavoured to awaken the people of Sang-Sar from their sleep of heedlessness. Both of them, owing to their infirmities, were unable to proceed to the fort of Tabarsi.

51. Muhammad-'Ali, the son of Karbila'i Abu-Muhammad,

52. Abu'l-Qasim, the brother of Muhammad-'Ali,

53. Karbila'i Ibrahim,

54. 'Ali-Ahmad,

55. [420] Mulla 'Ali-Akbar,

56. Mulla Husayn-'Ali,

57. 'Abbas-'Ali,

58. Husayn-'Ali,

59. Mulla 'Ali-Asghar,

60. Karbila'i Isma'il,

61. 'Ali Khan,

62. Muhammad-Ibrahim,

63. 'Abdu'l-'Azim.


From the village of Shah-Mirzad, two fell in defending the fort:


64. Mulla Abu-Rahim and

65. Karbila'i Kazim.


As to the adherents of the Faith in Mazindaran, twenty-seven martyrs have thus far been recorded:


66. Mulla Riday-i-Shah,

67. 'Azim,

68. Karbila'i Muhammad-Ja'far,

69. Siyyid Husayn,

70. Muhammad-Baqir,

71. Siyyid Razzaq,

72. Ustad Ibrahim,

73. Mulla Sa'id-i-Zirih-Kinari,

74. Riday-i-'Arab,

75. Rasul-i-Bahnimiri,

76. Muhammad-Husayn, the brother of Rasul-i-Bahnimiri,

77. Tahir,

78. Shafi',

79. Qasim,

80. Mulla Muhammad-Jan,

81. Masih, the brother of Mulla Muhammad-Jan,

82. Ita-Baba,

83. Yusuf,

84. Fadlu'llah,

85. Baba,

86. Safi-Quli,

87. Nizam,

88. Ruhu'llah,

89. 'Ali-Quli,

90. [421] Sultan,

91. Ja'far,

92. Khalil.


Of the believers of Savad-Kuh, the five following names have thus far been ascertained:


93. Karbila'i Qambar-Kalish,

94. Mulla Nad-'Aliy-i-Mutavalli,

95. 'Abdu'l-Haqq,

96. Itabaki-Chupan,

97. Son of Itabaki-Chupan.


From the town of Ardistan, the following have suffered martyrdom:


98. Mirza 'Ali-Muhammad, son of Mirza Muhammad-Sa'id,

99. Mirza 'Abdu'-Vasi', son of Haji 'Abdu'l-Vahhab, 

100. Muhammad-Husayn, son of Haji Muhammad-Sadiq, 

101. Muhammad-Mihdi, son of Haji Muhammad-Ibrahim, 

102. Mirza Ahmad, son of Muhsin, 

103. Mirza Muhammad, son of Mir Muhammad-Taqi.


From the city of Isfahan, thirty have thus far been recorded: 


104. Mulla Ja'far, the sifter of wheat, whose name has been mentioned by the Bab in the Persian Bayan. 

105. Ustad Aqa, surnamed Buzurg-Banna, 

106. Ustad Hasan, son of Ustad Aqa, 

107. Ustad Muhammad, son of Ustad Aqa, 

108. Muhammad-Husayn, son of Ustad Aqa, whose younger brother Ustad Ja'far was sold several times by his enemies until he reached his native city, where he now resides. 

109. Ustad Qurban-'Aliy-i-Banna, 

110. 'Ali-Akbar, son of Ustad Qurban-'Aliy-i-Banna, 

111. 'Abdu'llah, son of Ustad Qurban-'Ali-i-Banna, 

112. Muhammad-i-Baqir-Naqsh, the maternal uncle of Siyyid Yahya, son of Mirza Muhammad-'Aliy-i-Nahri. He was fourteen years old and was martyred the very night that Mulla Husayn met his death. 

113. Mulla Muhammad-Taqi, 

114. Mulla Muhammad-Rida, both brothers of the late 'Abdu's-Salih, the gardener of the Ridvan at 'Akka. 

115. Mulla Ahmad-i-Saffar,

116. [422] Mulla Husayn-i-Miskar,

117. Ahmad-i-Payvandi,

118. Hasan-i-Sha'r-Baf-i-Yazdi,

119. Muhammad-Taqi,

120. Muhammad-'Attar, brother of Hasan-i-Sha'r-Baf,

121. Mulla 'Abdu'l-Khaliq, who cut his throat in Badasht and whom Tahirih named Dhabih.

122. Husayn,

123. Abu'l-Qasim, brother of Husayn,

124. Mirza Muhammad-Rida,

125. Mulla Haydar, brother of Mirza Muhammad-Rida,

126. Mirza Mihdi,

127. Muhammad-Ibrahim,

128. Muhammad-Husayn, surnamed Dastmal-Girih-Zan,

129. Muhammad-Hasan-i-Chit-Saz, a well-known cloth manufacturer who attained the presence of the Bab.

130. Muhammad-Husayn-i-'Attar,

131. Ustad Haji Muhammad-i-Banna,

132. Mahmud-i-Muqari'i, a noted cloth dealer. He was newly married and had attained the presence of the Bab in the castle of Chihriq. The Bab urged him to proceed to the Jaziriy-i-Khadra and to lend his assistance to Quddus. While in Tihran, he received a letter from his brother announcing the birth of a son and entreating him to hasten to Isfahan to see him, and then to proceed to whichever place he felt inclined. "I am too much fired," he replied, "with the love of this Cause to be able to devote any attention to my son. I am impatient to join Quddus and to enlist under his banner."


133. Siyyid Muhammad-Riday-i-Pa-Qal'iyi, a distinguished siyyid and a highly esteemed divine, whose declared purpose to enlist under the banner of Mulla Husayn caused a great tumult among the ulamas of Isfahan.


Among the believers of Shiraz, the following attained the station of martyrdom:


134. Mulla 'Abdu'llah, known also by the name of Mirza Salih, 135. Mulla Zaynu'l-'Abidin,

136. Mirza Muhammad.


Of the adherents of the Faith in Yazd, only four have thus far been recorded:


137. [423] The siyyid who walked on foot all the way from Khurasan to Barfurush, where he fell a victim to the bullet of the enemy.


138. Siyyid Ahmad, the father of Siyyid Husayn-i-'Aziz, the amanuensis of the Bab,


139. Mirza Muhammad-'Ali, son of Siyyid Ahmad, whose head was blown off by the ball from a cannon as he was standing at the entrance of the fort, and who, because of his tender age, was greatly loved and admired by Quddus.


140. Shaykh 'Ali, son of Shaykh 'Abdu'l-Khaliq-i-Yazdi, a resident of Mashhad, a youth whose enthusiasm and untiring energy were greatly praised by Mulla Husayn and Quddus.


Of the believers of Qazvin, the following were martyred:


141. Mirza Muhammad-'Ali, a noted divine, whose father, Haji Mulla 'Abdu'l-Vahhab, was one of the most distinguished mujtahids in Qazvin. He attained the presence of the Bab in Shiraz, and was enrolled as one of the Letters of the Living.


142. Muhammad-Hadi, a noted merchant, son of Haji 'Abdu'l-Karim, surnamed Baghban-Bashi,


143. Siyyid Ahmad,

144. Mirza 'Abdu'l-Jalil, a noted divine,

145. Mirza Mihdi.

146. From the village of Lahard, a man named Haji Muhammad-'Ali, who had greatly suffered as a result of the murder of Mulla Taqi in Qazvin.


Of the believers of Khuy, the following have suffered martyrdom:


147. Mulla Mihdi, a distinguished divine, who had been one of the esteemed disciples of Siyyid Kazim. He was noted for his learning, his eloquence, and his staunchness of faith.


148. Mulla Mahmud-i-Khu'i, brother of Mulla Mihdi, one of the Letters of the Living and a distinguished divine.


149. Mulla Yusuf-i-Ardibili, one of the Letters of the Living, noted for his learning, his enthusiasm and eloquence. It was he who had aroused the apprehensions of Haji Karim Khan on his arrival at Kirman, and who struck terror to the hearts of his adversaries. "This man," Haji Karim Khan was heard to say to his congregation, "must needs be expelled from this town, for if he be allowed to remain, he will assuredly [424] cause the same tumult in Kirman as he has already done in Shiraz. The injury he will inflict will be irreparable. The magic of his eloquence and the force of his personality, if they do not already excel those of Mulla Husayn, are certainly not inferior to them." By this means he was able to force him to curtail his stay in Kirman and to prevent him from addressing the people from the pulpit. The Bab gave him the following instructions: "You must visit the towns and cities of Persia and summon their inhabitants to the Cause of God. On the first day of the month of Muharram in the year 1265 A.H.,54 you must be in Mazindaran and must arise to lend every assistance in your power to Quddus." Mulla Yusuf, faithful to the instructions of his Master, refused to prolong his stay beyond a week in any of the towns and cities which he visited. On his arrival in Mazindaran, he was made captive by the forces of Prince Mihdi-Quli Mirza, who immediately recognised him and gave orders that he be imprisoned. He was eventually released, as we have already observed, by the companions of Mulla Husayn on the day of the battle of Vas-Kas.


150. Mulla Jalil-i-Urumi, one of the Letters of the Living, noted for his learning, his eloquence, and tenacity of faith.


151. Mulla Ahmad, a resident of Maraghih, one of the Letters of the Living, and a distinguished disciple of Siyyid Kazim.


152. Mulla Mihdiy-i-Kandi, a close companion of Baha'u'llah, and a tutor to the children of His household.


153. Mulla Baqir, brother of Mulla Mihdi, both of whom were men of considerable learning, to whose great attainments Baha'u'llah testifies in the "Kitab-i-Iqan."


154. Siyyid Kazim, a resident of Zanjan, and one of its noted merchants. He attained the presence of the Bab in Shiraz, and accompanied Him to Isfahan. His brother, Siyyid Murtada, was one of the Seven Martyrs of Tihran.


155. Iskandar, also a resident of Zanjan, who, together with Hasan and Quli, bore the body of Mulla Husayn to the fort.


156. Isma'il,

157. Karbila'i 'Abdu'l-'Ali, 

158. [425] 'Abdu'l-Muhammad,

159. Haji Abbas,

160. Siyyid Ahmad—all residents of Zanjan.

161. Siyyid Husayn-i-Kulah-Duz, a resident of Barfurush, whose head was impaled on a lance and was paraded through its streets.


162. Mulla Hasan-i-Rashti,

163. Mulla Hasan-i-Bayajmandi,

164. Mulla Ni'matu'llah-i-Barfurushi,

165. Mulla Muhammad-Taqiy-i-Qarakhili,

166. Ustad Zaynu'l-'Abidin,

167. Ustad Qasim, son of Ustad Zaynu'l-'Abidin,

168. Ustad 'Ali-Akbar, brother of Ustad Zaynu'l-'Abidin.


The last three were masons by profession, were natives of Kirman, and resided in Qayin in the province of Khurasan.


169 and 170. Mulla Riday-i-Shah and a young man from Bahnimir were slain two days after the abandonment of the fort by Quddus, in the Panj-Shanbih-Bazar of Barfurush. Haji Mulla Muhammad-i-Hamzih, surnamed the Shari'at-Madar, succeeded in burying their bodies in the neighbourhood of the Masjid-i-Kazim-Big, and in inducing their murderer to repent and ask forgiveness.


171. Mulla Muhammad-i-Mu'allim-i-Nuri, an intimate companion of Baha'u'llah who was closely associated with Him in Nur, in Tihran, and in Mazindaran. He was famed for his intelligence and learning, and was subjected, Quddus only excepted, to the severest atrocities that have ever befallen a defender of the fort of Tabarsi. The prince had promised that he would release him on condition that he would execrate the name of Quddus, and had pledged his word that, should he be willing to recant, he would take him back with him to Tihran and make him the tutor of his sons. "Never will I consent," he replied, "to vilify the beloved of God at the bidding of a man such as you. Were you to confer upon me the whole of the kingdom of Persia, I would not for one moment turn my face from my beloved leader. My body is at your mercy, my soul you are powerless to subdue. Torture me as you will, that I may be enabled to demonstrate to you the truth of the verse, 'Then, wish for death, if ye be men of [426] truth.'"55 The prince, infuriated by his answer, gave orders that his body be cut to pieces and that no effort be spared to inflict upon him a most humiliating punishment.


172. Haji Muhammad-i-Karradi, whose home was situated in one of the palm groves adjoining the old city of Baghdad, a man of great courage who had fought and led a hundred men in the war against Ibrahim Pasha of Egypt. He had been a fervent disciple of Siyyid Kazim, and was the author of a long poem in which he expatiated upon the virtues and merits of the siyyid. He was seventy-five years old when he embraced the Faith of the Bab, whom he likewise eulogised in an eloquent and detailed poem. He distinguished himself by his heroic acts during the siege of the fort, and eventually became a victim of the bullets of the enemy.


173. Sa'id-i-Jabbavi, a native of Baghdad, who displayed extraordinary courage during the siege. He was shot in the abdomen, and, though severely wounded, managed to walk until he reached the presence of Quddus. He joyously threw himself at his feet and expired.


The circumstances of the martyrdom of these last two companions were related by Siyyid Abu-Talib-i-Sang-Sari, one of those who survived that memorable siege, in a communication he addressed to Baha'u'llah. In it he relates, in addition, his own story, as well as that of his two brothers, Siyyid Ahmad and Mir Abu'l-Qasim, both of whom were martyred while defending the fort. "On the day on which Khusraw was slain," he wrote, "I happened to be the guest of a certain Karbila'i 'Ali-Jan, the kad-khuda56 of one of the villages in the neighbourhood of the fort. He had gone to assist in the protection of Khusraw, and had returned and was relating to me the circumstances attending his death. On that very day, a messenger informed me that two Arabs had arrived at that village and were anxious to join the occupants of the fort. They expressed their fear of the people of the village of Qadi-Kala, and promised that they would amply reward whoever would be willing to conduct them to their destination. I recalled the counsels of my father, Mir Muhammad-'Ali, who exhorted me to arise and [427] help in the promotion of the Cause of the Bab. I immediately decided to seize the opportunity that had presented itself to me, and, together with these two Arabs, and with the aid and assistance of the Kad-khuda, reached the fort, met Mulla Husayn, and determined to consecrate the remaining 


days of my life to the service of the Cause he had chosen to follow."


The names of some of the officers who distinguished themselves among the opponents of the companions of Quddus are as follows:


1. Prince Mihdi-Quli Mirza, brother of the late Muhammad Shah,

2. [428] Sulayman Khan-i-Afshar,

3. Haji Mustafa Khan-i-Sur-Tij,

4. 'Abdu'llah Khan, brother of Haji Mustafa Khan,

5. 'Abbas-Quli Khan-i-Larijani, who shot Mulla Husayn,

6. Nuru'llah Khan-i-Afghan,


7. Habibu'llah Khan-i-Afghan,

8. Dhu'l-Faqar Khan-i-Karavuli,

9. 'Ali-Asghar Khan-i-Du-Dungi'i, 

10. Khuda-Murad Khan-i-Kurd, 

11. Khalil Khan-i-Savad-Kuhi, 

12. Ja'far-Quli Khan-i-Surkh-Karri'i, 

13. The Sartip of the Fawj-i-Kalbat,

14. [429] Zakariyyay-i-Qadi-Kala'i, a cousin of Khusraw, and his successor.


As to those believers who participated in that memorable siege and survived its tragic end, I have been thus far unable to ascertain in full either their names or their number. I have contented myself with a representative, though incomplete, list of the names of its martyrs, trusting that in the days to come the valiant promoters of the Faith will arise to fill this gap, and will, by their research and industry, be able to remedy the imperfections of this altogether inadequate description of what must ever remain as one of the most moving episodes of modern times.


FOOTNOTES


20.1. "Thus perplexed and not knowing which way to turn, Shah-zadih, poor man, gave orders to gather together new soldiers and raise another army. The population was not eager to serve under a chief whose worth and intrepidity had not brilliantly stood the test. Nevertheless, by the help of money and through promises, the mullas particularly, who did not lose sight of their interests, and who had the most at stake, displayed such zeal that in the end a fair number of tufang-chis were assembled. As for the mounted soldiers of the various tribes, from the moment their chiefs mount their horses, they do likewise without even asking why. "'Abbas-Quli Khan-i-Larijani obeyed without hesitation the order to send new recruits. This time, however, either through distrust of a Prince whose ineptitude might endanger the lives of his relatives and subjects, or because ambitious to distinguish himself, he no longer gave anyone the command of his forces. He led them himself by a daring move and, instead of rejoining the royal army, he went straight on to attack the Babis in their refuge. Then he gave notice to the Prince that he had arrived at the fortress of Shaykh Tabarsi and that he was besieging it. Besides, he notified him that he had no need of assistance nor of support, that his forces were more than adequate and that, if his Royal Highness would see for himself how he, 'Abbas-Quli Khan-i-Larijani, was about to treat the rebels, he would be both honored and gratified." (Comte de Gobineau's "Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale," pp. 170-171.) 


20.2. "Mihdi-Quli Mirza could not pass for a bold warrior, as we have just seen, but he substituted for an excessive intrepidity another quality very useful to a general: he did not take literally the boastings of his lieutenants. Therefore, fearing that ill might befall this impudent nomad, he sent him reinforcements immediately. Thus departed in great haste Muhsin Khan-i-Ashrafi with his cavalry, a troop of Afghans, Muhammad-Karim Khan-i-Suriti with some of the tufang-chis of the town, and Khalil Khan of Savad-Kuh with the men of Qadi-Kala." (Ibid., p. 171.)


20.3. February 1, 1849 A.D. 


20.4. See Glossary.


20.5. "Although seriously wounded, the Babi chief continued, nevertheless, to give orders and to lead and stimulate his men until, seeing that little more could be gained, he gave the signal to retreat, remaining himself with the rear guard." (Comte de Gobineau's "Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale," p. 174.)


20.6. "His [Mulla Husayn's] mortal remains still repose in the little inner room of the shrine of Shaykh Tabarsi where, at the direction of Mulla Muhammad-'Ali Barfurushi, they were reverently laid by the hands of his sorrowing comrades in the beginning of the year A.D. 1849." ("A Traveller's Narrative," Note F, p. 245.)


20.7. October 10, 1848 A.D. 


20.8. February 2, 1849 A.D. 


20.9. October 10, 1848 A.D. 


20.10. December 1, 1848 A.D. 


20.11. December 21, 1848 A.D.


20.12. "Among them was Mulla Husayn, who was made the recipient of the effulgent glory of the Sun of Revelation. But for him, God would not have been established upon the seat of His mercy, nor ascended the throne of eternal glory." (The "Kitab-i-Iqan," p. 188.) See note 5, p. 23. "Frail of form, but a gallant soldier and an impassioned lover of God, he combined qualities and characteristics which even in the spiritual aristocracy of Persia are seldom found united in the same person." (Dr. T. K. Cheyne's "The Reconciliation of Races and Religions," p. 83.) "At last," writes Gobineau, "he passed away. The new religion, which found in him its first martyr, lost, in the same stroke, a man whose moral strength and ability would have been of great value to it, had he lived longer. The Muhammadans naturally feel a hatred for the memory of this leader, which is as deep as the love and veneration shown for him by the Babis. They can both justify their opposing sentiments. What is certain is that Mulla Husayn-i-Bushru'i was the first to give to Babism, in the Persian empire, the status which a religious or political body acquires in the eyes of the people only after it has demonstrated its warlike strength." (Comte de Gobineau's "Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale," p. 176.) "The late Haji Mirza Jani writes: 'I myself met him [Mirza Muhammad-Hasan, the younger brother of Mulla Husayn] when he was bringing his mother and sister from Karbila to Qazvin and from Qazvin to Tihran. His sister was the wife of Shaykh Abu-Turab of Qazvin, who was a scholar and philosopher such as is rarely met with, and believed with the utmost sincerity and purity of purpose, while such was his love and devotion to the Bab that if anyone did so much as mention the name of His Supreme Holiness (the souls of all beside him be His sacrifice) he could not restrain his tears. Often have I seen him, when engaged in the perusal of the writings of His Supreme Holiness, become almost beside himself with rapture, and nearly faint with joy. Of his wife he used to say: "I married her three years ago in Karbila. She was then but an indifferent scholar even in Persian, but now she can expound texts from the Qur'an and explain the most difficult questions and most subtle points of the doctrine of the Divine Unity in such wise that I have never seen a man who was her equal in this, or in readiness of apprehension. These gifts she has obtained by the blessing of His Holiness the Supreme and through converse with her holiness the Pure (Qurratu'l-'Ayn). I have seen in her a patience and resignation rare even in the most self-denying men, for during these three years, though I have not sent her a single dinar for her expenses, and she has supported herself only with the greatest difficulty, she has never uttered a word; and now that she has come to Tihran, she refrains altogether from speaking of the past, and though, in accordance with the wishes of Jinab-i-Babu'l-Bab, she now desires to proceed to Khurasan, and has literally nothing to put on save the one well-worn dress which she wears, she never asks for clothes or travelling-money, but ever seeks reasonable excuses wherewith to set me at my ease and prevent me from feeling ashamed. Her purity, chastity, and virtue are boundless, and during all this while no unprivileged person hath so much as heard her voice." But the virtues of the daughter were surpassed by those of the mother, who possessed rare attainments and accomplishments, and had composed many poems and eloquent elegies on the afflictions of her sons. Although Jinab-i-Babu'l-Bab had warned her of his approaching martyrdom and foretold to her all the impending calamities, she still continued to exhibit the same eager devotion and cheerful resignation, rejoicing that God had accepted the sacrifice of her sons, and even praying that they might attain to this great dignity and not be deprived of so great blessedness. It is indeed wonderful to meditate on this virtuous and saintly family, the sons so conspicuous for their single-minded devotion and self-sacrifice, the mother and daughter so patient and resigned. When I, Mirza Jani, met Mirza Muhammad-Hasan, he was but seventeen years of age, yet I observed in him a dignity, gravity, composure, and virtue which amazed me. After the death of Jinab-i-Babu'l-Bab, Hadrat-i-Quddus bestowed on him the sword and turban of that glorious martyr, and made him captain of the troops of the True King. As to his martyrdom, there is a difference of opinion as to whether he was slain at the breakfast-table in the camp, or suffered martyrdom with Jinab-i-Quddus in the square of Barfurush.'" (The "Tarikh-i-Jadid," pp. 93-5.) The sister of Mulla Husayn was surnamed "Varaqatu'l-Firdaws," and was intimately associated, while in Karbila, with Tahirih. ("Memorials of the Faithful," p. 270.)


20.13. See Glossary.


20.14. "This time the terror knew no bounds; throughout the province the people, deeply aroused by the repeated defeats of Islam, were beginning to lean toward the new religion. The military leaders felt their authority tottering, the religious chiefs saw their power over souls waning; the situation was extremely critical and the least incident might place the province completely under the influence of the Reformer." (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab," p. 315.) "But when the Sa'idu'l-'Ulama' was informed of this, he (fearing lest the Babis should enter Barfurush and mete out to him the punishment which he deserved) was overcome with trouble and consternation, and wrote several successive letters to 'Abbas-Quli Khan, saying: 'I congratulate you on your courage and discretion, but how much to be deplored it is that after you have been at such pains, lost so many of your kinsmen, and gained at length so signal a victory, you did not follow it up. You have made a great multitude food for the sword, and have returned, leaving only a few decrepit old men as survivors. Alas, that, after all your efforts and perseverance, the prince is now prepared to march against the castle and take captive these few poor wretches, so that after all he will get the credit of this signal victory, and will appropriate to himself all the money and property of the vanquished! You must make it your first and most important business to return to the castle ere he has set out, for the government of a province like Mazindaran is not a thing to be trifled with. Strive, then, to gain the entire credit of this victory, and let your exertions accomplish what your zeal has begun.' He also wrote at great length to the clergy of Amul, urgently exhorting them to use their best endeavours to make the Sartip 'Abbas-Quli Khan start at once without further delay. So they continued to remind him incessantly that it was his duty to march with all speed against the castle; and the Sartip, though he knew that what the Sa'idu'l-'Ulama' had written to him was utterly false and baseless, was eager, if it should be possible, to make some amends for what had passed, and so to clear himself in some measure of the disgrace which he had incurred in the eyes of the Larijani women whose husbands he had sacrificed, and of the government. But inwardly he was consumed with anxiety, fearing that, as in the previous campaign, he might fail to accomplish anything. Most of his men, too, were wounded, while many had fled and concealed themselves in the surrounding villages distant four or five farsangs from the city. So, as a makeshift, he wrote to the clergy of Amul, saying: 'If indeed this be a religious war, you, who are such zealous champions of the Faith, and to whom men look for example, should take the lead, and make the first move, so that others may follow you.' The clergy, not being prepared with a suitable answer, and seeing no way of excusing themselves, were obliged to send a message to the effect that the war was a religious war. A great company of tradesmen, common people, and roughs was assembled, and these, with the clergy and students, set out, ostensibly for the accomplishment of a religious duty, but really bent on plunder and rapine. Most of these went to Barfurush and there joined the advance of Prince Mihdi-Quli Mirza, who, on reaching a village distant one farsang from the castle, sent a body of his men to reconnoitre and collect information about the movements of the Babi garrison." (The "Tarikh-i-Jadid," pp. 72-3.)


20.15. "The reverend divines, who with their pupils, had come to take part in the holy war, were scarce able to sleep at night for fear (though their quarters were in a place distant two farsangs from the castle), and continually in their conversation would they roundly abuse the prince and 'Abbas-Quli Khan and curse the Sa'idu'l-'Ulama'; 'for,' said they, 'these have, without sufficient reason, taken us away from our studies, our discussions, and the earning of our livelihood, besides bringing us into dire peril; since to fight with men like these, who have renounced the world and carry their lives in their hands, is to incur great risk.' So the holy verse, 'Cast not yourselves into peril with your own hands,' became their daily utterance. One said: 'Certain circumstances exonerate me from the duty of taking part in this war at present.' Another (adducing thirty different pretexts) said: 'I am lawfully excused and am compelled to turn back.' A third said: 'I have little children dependent on me; what can I do?' A fourth said: 'I have made no provision for my wife, so I must go, but, should it be necessary, I will return again.' A fifth said: 'My accounts with certain persons are not yet settled; should I fall a martyr, my wealth will be wasted, and an injustice will be done to my wife and children; and both waste and injustice are condemned as repugnant to our holy religion and displeasing to God.' A sixth said: 'I owe money to certain persons, and have none to acquit me of my debt. Should I fall, my debt will not allow me to cross the Bridge of Sirat.' A seventh said: 'I came away without the knowledge of my mother, and she had said to me: "Shouldst thou go, I will make the milk wherewith I nourished thee unlawful to thee." I fear, therefore, that I may be cast off as undutiful by my mother.' An eighth wept, saying: 'I have made a vow to visit Karbila this year; one circumambulation of the holy sepulchre of the Chief of Martyrs is equivalent in merit to a hundred thousand martyrdoms or a thousand pilgrimages to Mecca. I fear to fail in the fulfilment of my vow, and so to be disappointed of this great blessing.' Others said: 'We, for our part, have neither seen in these people, nor heard of them, aught that showeth them to be unbelievers, for they also say: "There is no god but God, Muhammad is the Apostle of God, and 'Ali is the Friend of God." At most, they maintain that the advent of the Imam Mihdi has taken place. Let them be; for at all events they are no worse than the sunnis, who reject the twelve Imams and the fourteen immaculate saints, recognise such an one as 'Umar as caliph, prefer 'Uthman to 'Ali-ibn-i-Abi-Talib, and accept Abu-Bakr as the successor of our holy Prophet. Why should our divines leave those alone, and fight with these about matter whereof the rights and wrongs have not been properly determined?' In short, throughout the camp, murmurs arose from every tongue, and complaints from every mouth; each one sang a different tune and devised a different pretext; and all awaited but some plausible excuse to betake themselves to flight. So when 'Abbas-Quli Khan perceived this to be the case, he, fearing lest the contagion of their terror might spread to his soldiers, was forced to accept the excuses of these reverend divines and their disciples and followers, who forthwith departed, rejoicing greatly, and uttering prayers for the Sartip's success." (The "Tarikh-i-Jadid," pp. 74-6.)


20.16. "Mihdi-Quli Mirza was somewhat surprised. He felt deeply disappointed, but what impressed him even more was that the Sardar could be considered as having been defeated as well as he, and this thought, flattering to his self-love, brought him no little pleasure. Not only did he no longer fear that one of his lieutenants might have won an enviable glory in taking the fortress of the Babis; but it was not he himself alone who had failed; he had a companion in misfortune and a companion whom he would succeed in proving responsible for the two defeats. Overjoyed he called together his chiefs great and small and apprised them of the news, deploring, of course, the tragic fate of the Sardar and expressing the ardent hope that this valiant soldier might be more fortunate in the future." (Comte de Gobineau's "Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale," p. 179.)


20.17. 1849 A.D. 


20.18. "The Prince assigned to each one his post during the siege; he entrusted Haji Khan Nuri and Mirza 'Abdu'llah Navayy with the responsibility of securing adequate supplies. As military leaders, he selected the Sardar 'Abbas-Quli Khan-i-Larijani, towards whom, since his recent failure, he was showing more sympathy; then Nasru'llah Khan-i-Bandibi, another chieftain, and Mustafa Khan from 'Ashraf to whom he gave the command of the brave tufang-chis of that city and also the command of the suritis. Other lesser lords led the men of Dudankih and Bala-Rastaq as well as several Turkish and Kurdish nomads who were not included in the bands of the great chiefs. These nomads were entrusted with the special duty of watching every move of the enemy. Past experience had convinced them that they should be more vigilant in the future. Turks and Kurds were given therefore the responsibility of following, night and day, the operations of the enemy and to be ever on the alert in order to prevent possible surprises." (Comte de Gobineau's "Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale," pp.180-181.)


20.19. "Mihdi-Quli Mirza, however, wished to combine recent strategy with old military technique and ordered to be brought from Tihran two cannon and two mortars with the necessary ammunition. He also enlisted the assistance of a man from Hirat who had discovered an explosive substance which could project flames to a distance of seven hundred meters and set fire to anything combustible within that radius. A trial test was made and it proved satisfactory; the burning material was shot out into the fort, a conflagration started immediately and all the dwellings or shelters whether of wood, of reeds, or of straw, which the Babis had erected, either within the enclosure or upon the walls, were reduced to ashes. "While this destruction went on, the bombs and bullets shot from the mortars seriously damaged a building hastily erected by men who were neither architects nor engineers and had never anticipated an artillery attack. In a very short time, the outer defences of the fortress were dismantled; nothing was left of them but fallen girders, smoked and burning timbers, scattered stones." (Ibid., pp. 181-182.) 


20.20. "After taking these precautions, they dug holes and trenches for the use of the tufang-chis who were ordered to shoot down any Babis who might appear. They built large towers as high as the various levels of the fortress or even higher and, through a continuous plunging fire, they rendered the circulation of the Babis within their fort extremely dangerous. It was a decided advantage for the besiegers, but, in a few days, the Babi chiefs, taking advantage of the long nights, raised their fortifications so that their height exceeded that of the attacking towers of the enemy." (Ibid., p. 181.) 


20.21. The ninth day after Naw-Ruz.


20.22. "Once, indeed, some few of them did go out to try to obtain a little tea and sugar for Jinab-i-Quddus. The most notable of these was Mulla Sa'id of Zarkanad. Now he was a man so accomplished in science that when certain learned men of the kindred of Mulla Muhammad-Taqi of Nur addressed to Jinab-i-Quddus in writing certain questions touching the sciences of divination and astrology, the latter said to Mulla Sa'id: 'Do you speedily write for them a brief and compendious reply, that their messenger be not kept waiting, and a more detailed answer shall be written subsequently.' So Mulla Sa'id, though hurried by the presence of the messenger, and distracted by the turmoil of the siege, rapidly penned a most eloquent address, wherein, while replying to the questions asked, he introduced nearly a hundred well-authenticated traditions bearing on the truth of the new Manifestation of the promised Proof, besides several which foreshadowed the halting of those who had believed in the Lord about Tabarsi, and their martyrdom. The learned men of Nur were amazed beyond all measure at his erudition, and said: 'Candour compels us to admit that such a presentation of these matters is a great miracle, and that such erudition and eloquence are far beyond the Mulla Sa'id whom we knew. Assuredly this talent hath been bestowed on him from on high, and he in turn hath made it manifest to us.' Now Mulla Sa'id and his companions, while they were without the castle, fell into the hands of the royal troops, and were by them carried before the prince. The prince strove by every means to extract from them some information about the state of the Babi garrison, their numbers, and the amount of their munitions; but, do what he would, he could gain nothing. So, when he perceived Mulla Sa'id to be a man of talent and understanding, he said to him: 'Repent, and I will release you and not suffer you to be slain.' To this Mulla Sa'id replied: 'Never did anyone repent of obedience to God's command; why, then, should I? Rather do you repent, who are acting contrary to His good pleasure, and more evilly than anyone hath heretofore done.' And he spoke much more after the same fashion. So at length they sent him to Sari in chains and fetters, and there slew him, under circumstances of the utmost cruelty, along with his companions, who appear to have been five in number." (The "Tarikh-i-Jadid," pp. 79-80.)


20.23. See Glossary. 


20.24. "Thus the latter constructed four towers on the four sides of the castle, and raised them so high that they were able to command the interior of the fortress with their guns, and to make the garrison targets for their bullets. Then the faithful, seeing this, began to dig subterranean passages and to retreat thither. But the ground of Mazindaran lies near the water and is saturated with moisture, added to which rain fell continually, increasing the damage, so that these poor sufferers dwelt amidst mud and water till their garments rotted away with damp.... Whenever one of their comrades quaffed the draught of martyrdom before their eyes, instead of grieving they rejoiced. Thus, for instance, on one occasion a bomb-shell fell on the roof of a hut, which caught fire. Shaykh Salih of Shiraz went to extinguish the fire. A bullet struck his head and shattered his skull. Even as they were raising his corpse, a second bullet carried away the hand of Aqa Mirza Muhammad-'Ali, the son of Siyyid Ahmad, who was the father of Aqa Siyyid Husayn, 'the beloved.' So, too, was Aqa Siyyid Husayn, 'the beloved,' a child ten years of age, slain before his father's eyes, and he fell rolling in mud and gore, with limbs quivering like those of a half-killed bird." (The "Tarikh-i-Jadid," pp. 81-3.)


20.25. "This state of affairs had lasted four months. The Shah began to grow impatient. The success of the Babis aroused his anger which according to the Persian historian he expressed thus: 'We thought that our army would go without hesitation through fire and water, that, fearless, it would fight a lion or a whale, but we have sent it to fight a handful of weak and defenseless men and it has achieved nothing! Do the notables of Mazindaran think that we approve of this delay? Is it their policy to allow this conflagration to spread in order to magnify their importance in case they later put an end to it? Very well, let them know that I shall act as though Allah had never created Mazindaran and I shall exterminate its inhabitants to the last man!" (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab," p. 322.) 


20.26. "The siege had been going on for four months and had made no visible progress. The old fortifications had been destroyed but, with indomitable energy, the Babis had built new ones and, night and day, they restored and enlarged them. It was impossible to foresee the outcome of this situation, the more so because, as I have already said, Mazindaran was not the only region in Persia where the devotees of the new Faith were giving evidence of their zeal and their daring. The King and the prime minister, in their anxiety, burst forth into abuse against their lieutenants. Not only did they charge them with incompetence, in the most bitter terms, but they threatened to extend to them the same treatment planned for the Babis, if a final settlement were not reached without delay. Thereupon, the command was taken from Mihdi-Quli Mirza and given to the Afshar Sulayman Khan, a man of acknowledged firmness and of great influence, not only in his own tribe, one of the noblest in Persia, but throughout the military circles who knew him and held him in high esteem. He was given the most rigorous orders." (Comte de Gobineau's "Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale," pp. 183-184.)


"Those who remained firm had already consumed not only all their food supply, but such grass as they could find in the enclosure and the bark of all the trees. There remained only the leather of their belts and the scabbards of their swords. They had to resort to the expedient recommended by the Spanish ambassador to the soldiers of the league besieged in Paris; they ground the bones of the dead and made flour with the dust thereof. At last, desperate, they were reduced to perpetrate a sort of profanation. The horse of Mulla Husayn had died of the wounds suffered during that fatal night which witnessed the death of its master. The Babis had buried it out of regard for their holy leader and a little of the deep veneration which all felt for him hovered over the grave of the poor animal. They held council and, deploring the necessity for such a discussion, they debated the question whether extreme distress could justify them to disinter the sacred charger and eat the remains. With deep sorrow, they agreed that the deed was justifiable. They cooked the remains of the horse with the flour made from the bones of the dead, they ate this strange mixture and took up their guns once more!" (Ibid., pp 186-187.)


20.27. 'Abdu'l-Baha refers, in the "Memorials of the Faithful" (pp. 16-17), to the hardships and sufferings endured by the heroic defenders of the fort of Shaykh Tabarsi. He pays a glowing tribute to the constancy, the zeal and courage of the besieged, mentioning in particular Mulla Sadiq-i-Muqaddas. "For eighteen days," He says, "they remained without food. They lived on the leather of their shoes. This too was soon consumed, and they had nothing left but water. They drank a mouthful every morning, and lay famished and exhausted in their fort. When attacked, however, they would instantly spring to their feet, and manifest in the face of the enemy a magnificent courage and astonishing resistance.... Under such circumstances to maintain an unwavering faith and patience is extremely difficult, and to endure such dire afflictions a rare phenomenon." 


20.28. April 24-May 23, 1849 A.D.


20.29. See Glossary. 


20.30. Reference to God, the word Rahman meaning "merciful."


20.31. May 9, 1849 A.D. 


20.32. "This stark and desperate bravery, this unquenchable enthusiasm gave grave concern to the leaders of the imperial army. Despairing to break through the fortification after repeated defeats, they thought of resorting to shrewdness. The Prince was naturally shrewd and Sulayman Khan-i-Afshar, recently sent by the Shah, was urging such a method, fearful that longer delays might endanger his prestige and his life." (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab," p. 325.)


20.33. Qur'an, 7:88.


20.34. See Glossary. 


20.35. "All the fortifications constructed by the Babis were razed to the ground and even the ground was leveled to remove any evidences of the heroic defense of those who had died for their Faith. They imagined that this would silence history." (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab," p. 327.) 


20.36. "They formed them in a line and made sport of cutting open their stomachs. This amused them the more because, from the perforated intestines, issued grass still undigested, striking evidence of the sufferings they had endured and also of the faith that had sustained them. Some, very few, succeeded in escaping into the forest." (Ibid.)


20.37. Haji 'Abdu'l-Majid-i-Nishaburi, who was eventually martyred in Khurasan. 


20.38. "It was then, says Mirza Jani, that Islam gave a shameful exhibition to the world. The victors, if they can be so called, wished to enjoy the intoxication of their triumph. They bound in chains Quddus, Mirza Muhammad-Hasan Khan, brother of the Babu'l-Bab, Akhund Mulla Muhammad-Sadiq-i-Khurasani, Mirza Muhammad Sadiq-i-Khurasani, Haji Mirza Hasan-i-Khurasani, Shaykh Ni'matu'llah-i-Amuli, Haji Nasir-i-Qazvini, Mulla Yusuf-i-Ardibili, Aqa Siyyid 'Abdu'l-'Azim-i-Khu'i and several others. These they placed at the center of the parade which started out at the sound of the trumpets, and, every time they went through an inhabited section, they struck them." (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab," pp. 327-328.) "The cruelty went further still. If a few escaped death, having been sold into slavery, others were tortured until they died. Those who found kindly masters were Akhund Mulla Muhammad-Sadiq-i-Khurasani, Mulla Muhammad-i-Mahvalatiy-i-Dugh-Abadi, Aqa Siyyid 'Azim-i-Khu'i, Haji Nasir-i-Qazvini, Haji 'Abdu'l-Majid-i-Nishaburi, and Mirza Husayn-i-Matavalliy-i-Qumi. Four Babis suffered martyrdom at Barfurush, two were sent to Amul; one of these was Mulla Ni'matu'llah-i-Amuli, the other Mirza Muhammad-Baqir-i-Khurasaniy-i-Qa'ini, cousin of our Babi author. "Qa'ini lived previously at Mashhad, on the avenue called Khiyaban-Bala, and his house, which had been named 'Babiyyih,' was the rendezvous of the secretaries as well as the home for the co-religionists journeying through. It is there that Quddus and the Babu'l-Bab sojourned on their way to Khurasan. Besides his religious knowledge, Qa'ini was very skillful with his hands and it was he who designed the fortifications of Shaykh-Tabarsi." (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab," p. 329.) 


20.39. "As to the other prisoners they were made to lie down on the ground and the executioners cut open their stomachs. It was noticed that several of these unfortunates had raw grass in their intestines. This massacre completed, they found that there was still more to be done and they assassinated the fugitives who had already been pardoned. There were women and children and even fifty were not spared and their throats were cut. It was indeed a full day with much killing and no risk!" (Comte de Gobineau's "Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale," p. 189.) "On his arrival at Amul, Mulla Ni'matu'llah was tortured with ruthless ferocity. Apparently, this scene threw Qa'ini into a fit of rage. In any case, when the executioner approached, Qa'ini, breaking his bonds, jumped upon him, snatched his sword and struck him with such violence that his head rolled about fifteen feet away. The crowd rushed upon him but, terrible in his strength, he mowed down all those who came within his reach and they had finally to shoot him with a rifle in order to subdue him. After his death, they found in his pocket a piece of roasted horse flesh proof of the misery that he had endured for his faith !" (Ibid., pp. 329-330.)


20.40. "The whole world marvelled at the manner of their sacrifice.... The mind is bewildered at their deeds, and the soul marvelleth at their fortitude and bodily endurance.... These holy lights have, for eighteen years, heroically endured the showers of afflictions which, from every side, have rained upon them. With what love, what devotion, what exultation and holy rapture they sacrificed their lives in the path of the All-Glorious! To the truth of this all witness. And yet how can they belittle this Revelation? Hath any age witnessed such momentous happenings? If these companions be not the true strivers after God, who else could be called by this name? Have these companions been seekers after power or glory? Have they ever yearned for riches? Have they cherished any desire except the good pleasure of God? If these companions, with all their marvellous testimonies and wondrous works, be false, who, then, is worthy to claim for himself the truth? By God! their very deeds are a sufficient testimony, and an irrefutable proof unto all the peoples of the earth, were men to ponder in their hearts the mysteries of Divine Revelation. 'And they who act unjustly shall soon know what a lot awaiteth them!'" (The "Kitab-i-Iqan," pp. 189-91.)


20.41. 1847-8 A.D.


20.41. May 11, 1849 A.D.


20.43. "The Babis call attention to the fact that shortly afterwards a strange disease afflicted Sa'idu'l-'Ulama'. In spite of the furs which he wore, in spite of the fire which burned constantly in his room, he shivered with cold yet, at the same time, his fever was so high, that nothing could quench his intolerable thirst. He died, and his house, which was very beautiful, was abandoned and finally crumbled into ruins. Little by little, the practice grew of dumping refuse on the site where it had once so proudly stood. This so impressed the Mazindaranis that when they quarrel among themselves, the final insult frequently is, 'May thy house meet the same fate as the house of Sa'idu'l-'Ulama!'" (A. L. M. Nicolas' "Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab," p. 330.)


20.44. "At all events it appears that after the martyrdom of Jinab-i-Quddus, a pious divine, Haji Muhammad-'Aliy-i-Hamzih by name, whose skill in exegesis and spiritual gifts was recognised by all, secretly sent several persons to bury the mutilated remains in the ruined college already mentioned. And he, far from approving the Sa'idu'l-'Ulama''s conduct, used to curse and revile him, and never himself pronounced sentence of death against any Babi, but, on the contrary, used to obtain decent burial for those slain by the Sa'idu'l-'Ulama'. And when men questioned him concerning the garrison of the castle, he would reply: 'I do not condemn them or speak evil of them.' For this reason half of Barfurush remained neutral, for at first he used to forbid men to traduce or molest the Babis, though later, when the trouble waxed great, he deemed it prudent to be silent and shut himself up in his house. Now his austerity of life, piety, learning, and virtue were as well known to the people of Mazindaran as were the irreligion, immorality, and worldliness of the Sa'idu'l-'Ulama'." (The "Tarikh-i-Jadid," p. 92.) 


20.45. "He who knew Quddus and who made the pilgrimage with him is the one upon whom 'eight unities' have passed and God honored him among His angels in the heavens, because of the way in which he had withdrawn himself from all and because he was without blame in the sight of God." ("Le Bayan Persan," vol. 2, p. 164.) "Yet more wonderful than the events above described is the account of them given by 'Abbas-Quli Khan, with many expressions of admiration, to Prince Ahmad Mirza. The late Haji Mirza Jani writes: 'About two years after the disaster of Shaykh Tabarsi, I heard one, who, though not a believer, was honest, truthful, and worthy of credit, relate as follows: "We were sitting together when some allusion was made to the war waged by some of those present against Hadrat-i-Quddus and Jinab-i-Babu'l-Bab. Prince Ahmad Mirza and 'Abbas-Quli Khan were amongst the company. The prince questioned 'Abbas-Quli Khan about the matter, and he replied thus: 'The truth of the matter is that anyone who had not seen Karbila would, if he had seen Tabarsi, not only have comprehended what there took place, but would have ceased to consider it; and had he seen Mulla Husayn of Bushruyih, he would have been convinced that the Chief of Martyrs had returned to earth; and had he witnessed my deeds, he would assuredly have said: "This is Shimr come back with sword and lance." I swear by the sacred plume of His Majesty the Centre of the Universe that one day Mulla Husayn, having on his head a green turban, and over his shoulder a shroud, came forth from the castle, stood forth in the open field, and, leaning on a lance which he held in his hand, said: "O people, why, without enquiry, and under the influence of passion and prejudiced misrepresentation, do ye act so cruelly towards us, and strive without cause to shed innocent blood? Be ashamed before the Creator of the universe, and at least give us passage, that we may depart out of this land." Seeing that the soldiers were moved, I opened fire, and ordered the troops to shout so as to drown his voice. Again I saw him lean on his lance and heard him cry: "Is there any who will help me?" three times, so that all heard his cry. At that moment all the soldiers were silent, and some began to weep, and many of the horsemen were visibly affected. Fearing that the army might be seduced from their allegiance, I again ordered them to fire and shout. Then I saw Mulla Husayn unsheathe his sword, raise his face towards heaven, and heard him exclaim: "O God I have completed the proof to this host, but it availeth not." Then he began to attack us on the right and on the left. I swear by God that on that day he wielded the sword in such wise as transcends the power of man. Only the horsemen of Mazindaran held their ground and refused to flee. And when Mulla Husayn was well warmed to the fray, he overtook a fugitive soldier. The soldier sheltered himself behind a tree, and further strove to shield himself with his musket. Mulla Husayn dealt him such blow with his sword that he clave him and the tree and the musket into six pieces. And, during all that war, not once was his sword-stroke at fault, but every blow that he struck fell true. And by the nature of their wounds I could recognise all whom Mulla Husayn had cut down with his sword, and since I had heard and knew that none could rightly wield the sword save the Chief of Believers, and that it was well-nigh impossible for sword to cut so true, therefore I forbade all who were aware of this thing to mention it or make it known, lest the troops should be discouraged and should wax faint in the fight. But in truth I know not what had been shown to these people, or what they had seen, that they came forth to battle with such alacrity and joy, and engaged so eagerly and gladly in the strife, without displaying in their countenances any trace of fear or apprehension. One would imagine that in their eyes the keen sword and blood-spilling dagger were but means to the attainment of everlasting life, so eagerly did their necks and bosoms welcome them as they circled like salamanders round the fiery hail of bullets. And the astonishing thing was that all these men were scholars and men of learning, sedentary recluses of the college and the cloister, delicately nurtured and of weakly frame, inured indeed to austerities, but strangers to the roar of cannon, the rattle of musketry, and the field of battle. During the last three months of the siege, moreover, they were absolutely without bread and water, and were reduced to the extreme of weakness through lack of even such pittance of food as is sufficient to sustain life. Notwithstanding this, it seemed as if in time of battle a new spirit were breathed into their frames, insomuch that the imagination of man cannot conceive the vehemence of their courage and valour. They used to expose their bodies to the bullets and cannon-balls not only fearlessly and courageously, but eagerly and joyously, seeming to regard the battle-field as a banquet, and to be bent on casting away their lives.'"'" (The "Tarikh-i-Jadid," pp. 106-9.)


20.46. 1844 A.D. 


20.47. November-December, 1888 A.D. 


20.48. Literally "The Last Name of God."


20.49. May 16, 1849 A.D. 


20.50. Qur'an, 3:93.


20.51. Literally "The Last Point." 


20.52. Refer to note 2, p. 413.


20.53. Refer to note 1, p. 383.


20.54. November 27, 1848 A.D.


20.55. Qur'an, 2:94.


20.56. See Glossary.



CHAPTER XXI

THE SEVEN MARTYRS OF TIHRAN


[430] The news of the tragic fate which had befallen the heroes of Tabarsi brought immeasurable sorrow to the heart of the Bab. Confined in His prison-castle of Chihriq, severed from the little band of His struggling disciples, He watched with keen anxiety the progress of their labours and prayed with unremitting zeal for their victory. How great was His sorrow when, in the early days of Sha'ban in the year 1265 A.H.,1 He came to learn of the trials that had beset their path, of the agony they had suffered, of the betrayal to which an exasperated enemy had felt compelled to resort, and of the abominable butchery with which their career had ended.


"The Bab was heart-broken," His amanuensis, Siyyid Husayn-i-'Aziz, subsequently related, "at the receipt of this unexpected intelligence. He was crushed with grief, a grief that stilled His voice and silenced His pen. For nine days He refused to meet any of His friends. I myself, though His close and constant attendant, was refused admittance. Whatever meat or drink we offered Him, He was disinclined to touch. Tears rained continually from His eyes, and expressions of anguish dropped unceasingly from His lips. I could hear Him, from behind the curtain, give vent to His feelings of sadness as He communed, in the privacy of His cell, with His Beloved. I attempted to jot down the effusions of His sorrow as they poured forth from His wounded heart. Suspecting that I was attempting to preserve the lamentations He uttered, He bade me destroy whatever I had recorded. Nothing remains of the moans and cries with which that heavy-laden heart sought to relieve itself of the pangs that had seized it. For a period of five months He languished, immersed in an ocean of despondency and sorrow." 


[431] With the advent of Muharram in the year 1266 A.H.,2 the Bab again resumed the work He had been compelled to interrupt. The first page He wrote was dedicated to the memory of Mulla Husayn. In the visiting Tablet revealed in his honour, He extolled, in moving terms, the unswerving fidelity with which he served Quddus throughout the siege of the fort of Tabarsi. He lavished His eulogies on his magnanimous conduct, recounted his exploits, and asserted his undoubted reunion in the world beyond with the leader whom he had so nobly served. He too, He wrote, would soon join those twin immortals, each of whom had, by his life and death, shed imperishable lustre on the Faith of God. For one whole week the Bab continued to write His praises of Quddus, of Mulla Husayn, and of His other companions who had gained the crown of martyrdom at Tabarsi.


No sooner had He completed His eulogies of those who had immortalised their names in the defence of the fort, than He summoned, on the day of 'Ashura,3 Mulla Adi-Guzal,4 one of the believers of Maraghih, who for the last two months had been acting as His attendant instead of Siyyid Hasan, the brother of Siyyid Husayn-i-'Aziz. He affectionately received him, bestowed upon him the name Sayyah, entrusted to his care the visiting Tablets He had revealed in memory of the martyrs of Tabarsi, and bade him perform, on His behalf, a pilgrimage to that spot. "Arise," He urged him, "and with complete detachment proceed, in the guise of a traveller, to Mazindaran, and there visit, on My behalf, the spot which enshrines the bodies of those immortals who, with their blood, have sealed their faith in My Cause. As you approach the precincts of that hallowed ground, put off your shoes and, bowing your head in reverence to their memory, invoke their names and prayerfully make the circuit of their shrine. Bring back to Me, as a remembrance of your visit, a handful of that holy earth which covers the remains of My beloved ones, Quddus and Mulla [432] Husayn. Strive to be back ere the day of Naw-Ruz, that you may celebrate with Me that festival, the only one I probably shall ever see again."


Faithful to the instructions he had received, Sayyah set out on his pilgrimage to Mazindaran. He reached his destination on the first day of Rabi'u'l-Avval in the year 1266 A.H.,5 and by the ninth day of that same month,6 the first anniversary of the martyrdom of Mulla Husayn, he had performed his visit and acquitted himself of the mission with which he had been entrusted. From thence he proceeded to Tihran.


I have heard Aqay-i-Kalim, who received Sayyah at the entrance of Baha'u'llah's home in Tihran, relate the following: "It was the depth of winter when Sayyah, returning from his pilgrimage, came to visit Baha'u'llah. Despite the cold and snow of a rigorous winter, he appeared attired in the garb of a dervish, poorly clad, barefooted, and dishevelled. His heart was set afire with the flame that pilgrimage had kindled. No sooner had Siyyid Yahyay-i-Darabi, surnamed Vahid, who was then a guest in the home of Baha'u'llah, been informed of the return of Sayyah from the fort of Tabarsi, than he, oblivious of the pomp and circumstance to which a man of his position had been accustomed, rushed forward and flung himself at the feet of the pilgrim. Holding his legs, which had been covered with mud to the knees, in his arms, he kissed them devoutly. I was amazed that day at the many evidences of loving solicitude which Baha'u'llah evinced towards Vahid. He showed him such favours as I had never seen Him extend to anyone. The manner of His conversation left no doubt in me that this same Vahid would ere long distinguish himself by deeds no less remarkable than those which had immortalised the defenders of the fort of Tabarsi."


Sayyah tarried a few days in that home. He was, however, unable to perceive, as did Vahid, the nature of that power which lay latent in his Host. Though himself the recipient of the utmost favour from Baha'u'llah, he failed to apprehend the significance of the blessings that were being showered upon him. I have heard him recount his experiences, during his sojourn in Famagusta: "Baha'u'llah overwhelmed [433] me with His kindness. As to Vahid, notwithstanding the eminence of his position, he invariably gave me preference over himself whenever in the presence of his Host. On the day of my arrival from Mazindaran, he went so far as to kiss my feet. I was amazed at the reception accorded me in that home. Though immersed in an ocean of bounty, I failed, in those days, to appreciate the position then occupied by Baha'u'llah, nor was I able to suspect, however dimly, the nature of the Mission He was destined to perform."


Ere the departure of Sayyah from Tihran, Baha'u'llah entrusted him with an epistle, the text of which He had dictated to Mirza Yahya,7 and sent it in his name. Shortly after, a reply, penned in the Bab's own handwriting, in which He commits Mirza Yahya to the care of Baha'u'llah and urges that attention be paid to his education and training, was received. That communication the people of the Bayan8 have misconstrued as an evidence of the exaggerated claims9 which they have advanced in favour of their leader. Although the text of that reply is absolutely devoid of such pretensions, and does not, beyond the praise it bestows upon Baha'u'llah and the request it makes for the upbringing of Mirza Yahya, contain any reference to his alleged position, yet his followers have idly imagined that that letter constitutes an assertion of the authority with which they have invested him.10


At this stage of my narrative, when I have already recounted the outstanding events that occurred in the course [434] of the year 1265 A.H.,11 I am reminded that that very year witnessed the most significant event in my own life, an event which marked my spiritual rebirth, my deliverance from the fetters of the past, and my acceptance of the message of this Revelation. I seek the indulgence of the reader if I dwell too long on the circumstances of my early life, and recount with too great detail the events that led to my conversion. My father belonged to the tribe of Tahiri, who led a nomadic life in the province of Khurasan. His name was Ghulam 'Ali, son of Husayn-i-'Arab. He married the daughter of Kalb-'Ali, and by her had three sons and three daughters. I was his second son, and was given the name of Yar-Muhammad. I was born on the eighteenth of Safar in the year 1247 A.H.,12 in the village of Zarand. I was a shepherd by profession, and was given in my early days a most rudimentary education. I longed to devote more time to my studies, but was unable to do so, owing to the exigencies of my situation. I read the Qur'an with eagerness, committed several of its passages to memory, and chanted them whilst I followed my flock over the fields. I loved solitude, and watched the stars at night with delight and wonder. In the quiet of the wilderness, I recited certain prayers attributed to the Imam 'Ali, the Commander of the Faithful, and, as I turned my face towards the Qiblih,13 supplicated the Almighty to guide my steps and enable me to find the Truth.


My father oftentimes took me with him to Qum, where I became acquainted with the teachings of Islam and the ways and manners of its leaders. He was a devout follower of that Faith, and was closely associated with the ecclesiastical leaders who congregated in that city. I watched him as he prayed at the Masjid-i-Imam-Hasan and performed, with scrupulous care and extreme piety, all the rites and ceremonies prescribed by his Faith. I heard the preaching of several eminent mujtahids who had arrived from Najaf, attended their lectures, and listened to their disputations. Gradually I came to perceive their insincerity and to loathe the baseness of their character. Eager as I was to ascertain the trustworthiness of the creeds and dogmas which they strove to impose upon me, I could neither find the time nor obtain the [435] facilities with which to satisfy my desire. I was often rebuked by my father for my temerity and restlessness. "I fear," he often remarked, "that your aversion to these mujtahids may some day involve you in great difficulties and bring upon you reproach and shame."


I was in the village of Rubat-Karim, on a visit to my maternal uncle, when, on the twelfth day after Naw-Ruz, in the year 1263 A.H.,14 I accidentally overheard, in the masjid of that village, a conversation between two men which first made me acquainted with the Revelation of the Bab. "Have you heard," one of them remarked, "that the Siyyid-i-Bab has been conducted to the village of Kinar-Gird and is on his way to Tihran?" Finding his friend ignorant of that episode, he proceeded to relate the whole story of the Bab, giving a detailed account of the circumstances attending His Declaration, of His arrest in Shiraz, His departure for Isfahan, the reception which both the Imam-Jum'ih and Manuchihr Khan had extended to Him, the prodigies and wonders He had manifested, and the verdict that the ulamas of Isfahan had pronounced against Him. Every detail of that story excited my curiosity and stirred in me a keen admiration for a Man who could throw such a spell over His countrymen. His light seemed to have flooded my soul; I felt as if I were already a convert to His Cause.


From Rubat-Karim I returned to Zarand. My father remarked upon my restlessness, and expressed his surprise at my behaviour. I had lost my appetite and sleep, and was determined to conceal the secret of my inner agitation from my father, lest its disclosure might interfere with the eventual realisation of my hopes. I remained in that state until a certain Siyyid Husayn-i-Zavari'i arrived at Zarand and was able to enlighten me on a subject which had become the ruling passion of my life. Our acquaintance speedily ripened into a friendship which encouraged me to share with him the longings of my heart. To my great surprise, I found him already enthralled by the secret of the theme which I had begun to disclose to him. "One of my cousins," he proceeded to relate, "Siyyid Isma'il-i-Zavari'i by name, convinced me of the truth of the Message proclaimed by the Siyyid-i-Bab. [436] He informed me that he had several times met the Siyyid-i-Bab in the house of the Imam-Jum'ih of Isfahan, and had seen Him actually reveal, in the presence of His host, a commentary on the Surih of Va'l-'Asr.15 The rapidity of the Bab's composition, and the force and originality of His style, had excited his surprise and admiration. He was amazed to find that, whilst revealing His commentary, and without lessening the speed of His writing, He was able to answer whatever questions those who were present were moved to ask Him. The fearlessness with which my cousin arose to preach the Message aroused the hostility of the kad-khudas16 and siyyids of Zavarih, who compelled him to return to Isfahan, where he had of late been residing. I too, unable to remain in Zavarih, departed for Kashan, in which town I spent the winter and met Haji Mirza Jani, of whom my cousin had spoken, and who gave me a treatise written by the Bab, entitled 'Risaliy-i-'Adliyyih,' urging me to read it carefully and return it to him after a few days. I was so charmed by the theme and language of that treatise that I proceeded immediately to transcribe the whole text. When I returned it to its owner, he, to my profound regret, informed me that I had just missed the opportunity of meeting its Author. 'The Siyyid-i-Bab Himself,' he said, 'arrived on the eve of the day of Naw-Ruz and spent three nights as a Guest in my home. He is now on His way to Tihran, and if you start immediately, you will certainly overtake Him.' Straightway I arose and departed, walking all the way from Kashan to a fortress in the neighbourhood of Kinar-Gird. I was resting under the shadow of its walls when a pleasant-looking man emerged from that fortress and asked me who I was and whither I was going. 'I am a poor siyyid,' I replied, 'a wayfarer and stranger to this place.' He took me to his home and invited me to spend the night as his guest. In the course of his conversation with me, he said: 'I suspect you to be a follower of the Siyyid who was staying for a few days in this fortress, from whence He was transferred to the village of Kulayn, and who, three days ago, left for Adhirbayjan. I esteem myself as one of His adherents. My name is Haji Zaynu'l-'Abidin. I intended not to separate myself [437] from Him, but He bade me remain in this place and convey to any of His friends whom I might meet His loving greetings, and dissuade them from following Him. "Tell them," He instructed me, "to consecrate their lives to the service of My Cause, that haply the barriers that hinder the progress of this Faith may be removed, so that My followers may, with safety and freedom, worship their God and observe the precepts of their Faith." I immediately abandoned my project and, instead of returning to Qum, decided to come to this place.'"


The story which this Siyyid Husayn-i-Zavari'i related to me served to allay my agitation. He shared with me the copy of the "Risaliy-i-'Adliyyih" he had brought with him, the reading of which imparted strength and refreshment to my soul. In those days I was a pupil of a siyyid who taught me the Qur'an and whose incapacity to enlighten me on the tenets of his Faith became more and more evident in my eyes. Siyyid Husayn, whom I asked for further information about the Cause, advised me to meet Siyyid Isma'il-i-Zavari'i, whose invariable practice it was to visit, every spring, the shrines of the imam-zadihs17 of Qum. I induced my father, who was reluctant to separate himself from me, to send me to that city with the object of perfecting my knowledge of the Arabic language. I was careful to conceal from him my real purpose, fearing that its disclosure might involve him in embarrassments with the Qadi18 and the ulamas of Zarand and prevent me from achieving my end.


While I was in Qum, my mother, my sister, and my brother came to visit me in connection with the festival of Naw-Ruz, and stayed with me for about a month. In the course of their visit, I was able to enlighten my mother and my sister about the new Revelation, and succeeded in kindling in their hearts the love of its Author. A few days after their return to Zarand, Siyyid Isma'il, whom I impatiently awaited, arrived, and was able, in the course of his discussions with me, to set forth in detail all that was required to win me over completely to the Cause. He laid stress on the continuity of Divine Revelation, asserted the fundamental oneness of the Prophets of the past, and explained their close relationship [438] to the Mission of the Bab. He also disclosed the nature of the work accomplished by Shaykh Ahmad-i-Ahsa'i and Siyyid Kazim-i-Rashti, neither of whom I had previously heard. I asked as to the duty incumbent at the present time upon every loyal adherent of the Faith. "The injunction of the Bab," he replied, "is that all those who have accepted His Message should proceed to Mazindaran and lend their assistance to Quddus, who is now hemmed in by the forces of an unrelenting foe." I expressed my eagerness to join him, 


[439] as he himself was intending to journey to the fort of Tabarsi. He advised me, however, to remain in Qum together with a certain Mirza Fathu'llah-i-Hakkak, a lad of my age whom he had recently guided to the Cause, until the receipt of his message from Tihran.


I waited in vain for that message, and, finding that no word came from him, decided to leave for the capital. My friend Mirza Fathu'llah subsequently followed me. He was eventually arrested and shared the fate of those who were put to death in the year 1268 A.H.19 as a result of the attempt on the life of the Shah. Arriving in Tihran, I proceeded directly to the Masjid-i-Shah, which was opposite a madrisih,20 at the entrance of which I, later on, unexpectedly encountered Siyyid Isma'il-i-Zavari'i, who hastened to inform me that he had just written me the letter and was on the point of despatching it to Qum.


We were preparing ourselves to leave for Mazindaran, when the news reached us that the defenders of the fort of Tabarsi had been treacherously slaughtered and that the fort itself had been levelled with the ground. We were filled with distress at the receipt of the appalling news, and mourned the tragic fate of those who had so heroically defended their beloved Cause. One day I unexpectedly came across my maternal uncle, Naw-Ruz-'Ali, who had come on purpose to fetch me. I informed Siyyid Isma'il, who advised me to leave for Zarand and not to arouse further hostility on the part of those who insisted upon my return.


On my arrival at my native village, I was able to win over my brother to the Cause, which my mother and my sister had already embraced. I also succeeded in inducing my father to allow me to leave again for Tihran. I took up my residence in the same madrisih where I had been accommodated on my previous visit, and there met a certain Mulla 'Abdu'l-Karim, whom, I subsequently learned, Baha'u'llah had named Mirza Ahmad. He affectionately received me and told me that Siyyid Isma'il had entrusted me to his care and wished me to remain in his company until the former's return to Tihran. The days of my companionship with Mirza Ahmad will never be forgotten. I found him [440] the very incarnation of love and kindness. The words with which he inspired me and animated my faith are indelibly graven upon my heart.


Through him I was introduced to the disciples of the Bab, with whom I associated and from whom I obtained fuller information regarding the teachings of the Faith. Mirza Ahmad was in those days earning his livelihood as a scribe, and devoted his evenings to copying the Persian Bayan and other writings of the Bab. The copies which he so devotedly prepared were given by him as gifts to his fellow-disciples. I myself was several times the bearer of such 


gifts from him to the wife of Mulla Mihdiy-i-Kandi, who had forsaken his infant son and hastened to join the occupants of the fort of Tabarsi.


During those days I was informed that Tahirih, who, ever since the dispersal of the gathering at Badasht, had been living in Nur, had arrived at Tihran and was confined in the house of Mahmud Khan-i-Kalantar, where, although a prisoner, she was treated with consideration and courtesy.


One day Mirza Ahmad conducted me to the house of Baha'u'llah, whose wife, the Varaqatu'l-'Ulya,21 the mother of the Most Great Branch,22 had already healed my eyes with an ointment which she herself had prepared and sent to me [441] by this same Mirza Ahmad. The first one I met in that house was that same beloved Son of hers, who was then a child of six. He smiled His welcome to me as He was standing at the door of the room which Baha'u'llah occupied. I passed that door, and was ushered into the presence of Mirza Yahya, utterly unaware of the station of the Occupant of the room I had left behind me. When brought face to face with Mirza Yahya, I was startled, immediately I observed his features and noted his conversation, at his utter unworthiness of the position that had been claimed for him.


On another occasion, when I visited that same house, I was on the point of entering the room that Mirza Yahya occupied, when Aqay-i-Kalim, whom I had previously met, approached and requested me, since Isfandiyar, their servant, had gone to market and had not yet returned, to conduct "Aqa"23 to the Madrisiy-i-Mirza-Salih in his stead and then return to this place. I gladly consented, and as I was preparing to leave, I saw the Most Great Branch, a child of exquisite beauty, wearing the kulah24 and cloaked in the jubbiy-i-hizari'i,25 emerge from the room which His Father occupied, and descend the steps leading to the gate of the house. I advanced and stretched forth my arms to carry Him. "We shall walk together," He said, as He took hold of my hand and led me out of the house. We chatted together as we walked hand in hand in the direction of the madrisih known in those days by the name of Pa-Minar. As we reached His classroom, He turned to me and said: "Come again this afternoon and take me back to my home, for Isfandiyar is unable to fetch me. My Father will need him to-day." I gladly acquiesced, and returned immediately to the house of Baha'u'llah. There again I met Mirza Yahya, who delivered into my hands a letter which he asked me to take to the Madrisiy-i-Sadr and hand to Baha'u'llah, whom I was told I would find in the room occupied by Mulla Baqir-i-Bastami. He asked me to bring back the reply immediately. I fulfilled the commission and returned to the madrisih in time to conduct the Most Great Branch to His home.


One day Mirza Ahmad invited me to meet Haji Mirza [442] Siyyid 'Ali, the Bab's maternal uncle, who had recently returned from Chihriq and was staying in the home of Muhammad Big-i-Chaparchi, in the neighbourhood of the gate of Shimiran. I was struck, when I gazed at his face, with the nobility of his features and the serenity of his countenance. My subsequent visits to him served to heighten my admiration for the sweetness of his temper, his mystical piety and strength of character. I well remember how on one occasion Aqay-i-Kalim urged him, at a certain gathering, to leave Tihran, which was then in a state of great ferment, and escape its dangerous atmosphere. "Why fear for my safety?" 


he confidently replied. "Would that I too could share in the banquet which the hand of Providence is spreading for His chosen ones!"


Shortly after, the stirrers-up of mischief were able to kindle a grave turmoil in that city. Its immediate cause was the action of a certain siyyid from Kashan, who was living in the Madrisiy-i-Daru'sh-Shafa' and whom the well-known Siyyid Muhammad had taken into his confidence and claimed to have converted to the Bab's teachings. Mirza Muhammad-Husayn-i-Kirmani, who lodged in that same madrisih and who was a well-known lecturer on the metaphysical doctrines of Islam, attempted several times to induce Siyyid Muhammad, [443] who was one of his pupils, to break off his acquaintance with that siyyid, whom he believed to be unreliable, and to refuse him admittance to the gathering of the believers. Siyyid Muhammad refused, however, to be admonished by this warning, and continued to associate with him until the beginning of the month of Rabi'u'th-Thani in the year 1266 A.H.,26 at which time the treacherous siyyid went to a certain Siyyid Husayn, one of the ulamas of Kashan, and delivered into his hands the names and addresses of about fifty of the 


believers who were then residing in Tihran. That same list was immediately submitted by Siyyid Husayn to Mahmud Khan-i-Kalantar, who ordered that all of them be arrested. Fourteen of them were seized and brought before the authorities.


On the day they were captured, I happened to be with my brother and my maternal uncle, who had arrived from Zarand and had lodged in a caravanserai outside the gate of Naw. The next morning they departed for Zarand, and [444] as I returned to the Madrisiy-i-Daru'sh-Shafa', I discovered in my room a package upon which was placed a letter addressed to me by Mirza Ahmad. That letter informed me that the treacherous siyyid had at last denounced us and had raised a violent commotion in the capital. "The package which I have left in this room," he wrote, "contains all the sacred writings that are in my possession. If you ever reach this place in safety, take them to the caravanserai of Haji Nad-'Ali, where you will find in one of its rooms a man bearing that name, a native of Qazvin, to whom you will deliver the package together with the letter which accompanies it. From thence