Read: Khadijih Bagum - Wife of the Bab


KHADIJIH BAGUM
"The Wife of the Bab"
By H. M. Balyuzi
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This etext is based on:
"Khadijih Bagum (The Wife of the Bab)" by H. M. Balyuzi

George Ronald, Publisher
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Copyright (c) Mary Balyuzi 1981
All Rights Reserved

ISBN 0-85398-100-0
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"'O well-beloved!...Thou shalt not be
"a woman, like other women, if thou
"obeyest God in the Cause of Truth...'
The Bab

FOREWORD

My father died on 12 February 1980. This publication commemorates the first anniversary of his passing.

Within a few weeks of his death the first volume of his projected four-volume work on the life of Baha'u'llah was published, with the title, "Baha'u'llah, The King of Glory . The second volume was largely written, with only a few incompleted chapters, and this will be published. The format and contents of the third and fourth volumes had also been discussed, and the introduction to volume three written.

In November of the previous year he had suffered a heart attack. As he recovered from that illness, so he seemed to gain a physical strength such as had been denied him through many long years of crippling ill health. With this renewed vitality there came a surge of creative energy that saw him laying plans for several more books. Such was his eagerness to progress, that even whilst still in hospital recovering, he commenced a translation into Persian of his "Muhammad and the Course of "Islam ; he had by then completed a revision, this time written in Persian, of "Edward Granville Brown and the Baha'i Faith , incorporating much new material not included in the first, English-language version.

Further archival material was constantly being made available to him, stimulating him to still greater ambitions in the pursuit of Baha'i scholarship, his great passion. His life of 'Abdu'l-Baha he would rewrite, in a much expanded form to the present volume. Biographies of his kinsmen, members of the Afnan family, were planned, as was a biography of his father; all this, and much more. But it was not to be.

With the same suddenness that this new lease of life had been granted him, it was taken away, and his pen stilled. Yet it had not been in vain. For it was during these last four months of my father's life that he made his legacy to the Baha'i World and, in so doing, sowed the seeds for the fruition of his most dear wish: that his work should continue and that the study of the history of the Faith should grow to its recognition as a major scholastic discipline.

In letters dated 10 November and 20 November 1979 he has left instructions that all his books and documents are to be kept together perpetually, 'for the benefit of all who seek knowledge', and that they are to form the nucleus of the 'Afnan Library', founded in the name of his father, Muvaqqari'd-Dawlih, and dedicated to Khadijih Bagum, the wife of the Bab. Once established, the Library will be made available to all students and scholars wishing to research the history of the Faith.

It is this dedication of the Library to Khadijih Bagum that lends to this small volume a special significance amongst my father's writings; for it testifies to his deep love and admiration for this noble soul. Khadijih Bagum, through the lineage of her brother, Haji Mirza Hadi, the father of Shoghi Effendi, and likewise of my father's maternal grandfather and paternal grandmother, and also, through the lineage of her younger brother, Haji Mirza Siyyid Hasan (known as Afnan-i-Kabir--the Great Afnan), the aunt of his maternal grand- mother. After the martyrdom of her Husband, Khadijih Bagum removed to the house of the widow of Haji Mirza Siyyid 'Ali, the uncle who had reared the Bab from his infancy; and this house was close to the house in Shiraz where my grandfather was born and grew up. My grandfather would have related to my father how as a child he had played with Aqa Mirza Hadi at the feet of Khadijih Bagum, receiving instructions from her in the teachings of the Bab and of Baha'u'llah; and how later, as a young man, my grandfather came to act as amanuensis for the wife of the Bab, writing letters on her behalf to Baha'u'llah.

On hearing of the death in Karbila of Fatimih Bagum, the mother of the Bab, my grandfather was sent by his uncle, Haji Mirza 'Abdu'llah Khan, to that city, to attend to the affairs of his aunt, Bibi Gawhar, who had remained with Fatimih Bagum ever since her departure from Shiraz that the death occurred of Khadijih Bagum, and this sorrowful news was conveyed to him in a letter from Haji Mirza 'Abdu'llah Khan in which he writes:
'What a grievous loss! What a heart-rending event! May God be my witness! She was a Princess of her Age, a rare gem in her Era, a saintly soul. In her lifetime, none could value her worth.'

Thus it is clear how, from his earliest years, my father would have come to share the reverence of his family for the wife of the Bab; and the reader will appreciate why this amongst all his unpublished writings was chosen to mark the first anniversary of his death.

In the forewords to his books my father always made sure that all who had assisted in their preparation and publication were acknowledged and thanked. Here I would beg the grace of all who helped with this booklet, in allowing me to defer my own thanks to a later occasion, so that I may the greater emphasize my boundless gratitude to one person, whose absolutely selfless devotion to the welfare of my father I have no means of adequately describing: his cousin, Abu'l-Qasim Afnan. The story told in this booklet is largely based on the written narrative of Abu'l-Qasim Afnan, the true custodian in this age of the traditions of the Afnan family. Suffice it to mention, as a small illustration, that much of the unique archival material which Abu'l-Qasim had in his possession, and which he unhesitatingly and without qualification made available to my father, he could equally readily have chosen to use himself in his own writings. No man could ever have desired a finer, truer friend.

Finally, it may prove useful if I refer the reader to two of my father's other books, "The Bab and "Baha'u'llah, The King of Glory. For in these are to be found many of the persons and incidents mentioned in this essay, but in their wider context. The reader's path may also be eased if, whilst reading the essay, reference is made to the Genealogy of the Bab prepared by the Guardian of the Faith, Shoghi Effendi, to be found in Nabil's Narrative, "The "Dawn Breakers.
Robert Balyuzi
London, November 1980

KHADIJIH BAGUM
The Wife of the Bab

In the long years after the martyrdom of the Bab, His wife, Khadijih Bagum, would at times recount the story of her glorious but tragic life to the younger members of her family. Decades later, a niece, Maryam-Sultan Bagum, daughter of Haji Mirza Abu'l-Qasim, recalled all that she had heard from her saintly aunt; her grandson, Abu'l-Qasim Afnan, has now put on paper these recollections. Here is this invaluable account, in part purported to be a narration of Khadijih Bagum herself.

The Bab and His wife were not widely separated in age. The
house of
Haji Mirza Siyyid 'Ali, the maternal uncle of the Bab--who became
His guardian when His father died--and that of Mirza 'Ali, the
father of
Khadijih Bagum, adjoined each other; and so the Bab and Khadijih
Bagum
were neighbours and playmates in their childhood. Mirza Siyyid
Hasan
(the Great
+A
Afnan of future years), a brother of Khadijih Bagum, was about the
same
age. Whenever the children of the two households came together to
play,
usually Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad (the Bab) chose not to join in their
games,
although He occasionally did, and was always kind and considerate.
Years
later, when Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad had gone to Bushihr (Bushire),
Khadiji
Bagum had a vivid dream in which she saw her young Cousin in a
verdant plain,
with flowers in profusion, facing towards the Qiblih (Mecca) in an
attitude of
prayer. He wore a "labbadih" (an outer coat) on which Qur'anic
verses were
embroidered with threads of gold. His face was radiant,. She
related that
dream to her mother, and to the mother and grandmother of Siyyid
'Ali-Muhammad. They assured her that it was her Cousin's assiduous
attendance to His prayers which had vouchsafed her that splenderous
vision. At
this time Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad could not have been more than
sixteen years
old.

Still some years later, when Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad had returned
to
Shiraz from His visit to the holy cities of 'Iraq, Khadijih
Bagum dreamt that Fatimih, the daughter of the Prophet Muhammad,
had come
to ask for her hand in marriage to the Imam Husayn.\* Her mother,
being
+F1 The martyred third Imam, who was a son of Fatimih.
told of this dream, rejoiced at the good fortune that awaited her
daughter.
That very day, Khadijih Bagum recalled, the mother of Siyyid
'Ali-Muhammad came to call on her mother, and His grandmother was
also
there. Whenever His grandmother came on a visit, Siyyid
'Ali-Muhammad
stated, all would hurry to greet her, would kiss her shoulders, and
then wait
at the threshold of the room for her permission to enter and take
a seat. Only
Khadijih Bagum's mother and the mother of Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad
would
first be seated with her. And in her presence all would keep
silent until she
addressed them.

To continue the story of that day, so auspicious in her life,
Khadijih
Bagum recounted: 'After they were all seated I took *Sh(arbat (a
fruit syrup) to
them and left the room. Then my sisters, one of whom was married
to Haji
Mirza Zaynu'l-'Abidin\*
+F2 Her name was Zahra Bagum; her husband was a cousin of the
father of the
+F2 Bab and great-grandfather of Abu'l-Qasim Afnan.
and the other to Haji Mirza Siyyid 'Ali, came and went into the
room. Not long after, they all rose to go.' To Khadijih Bagum's
surprise,
the mother of Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad kissed her on the forehead
before
leaving. Seeing her puzzled look, her mother hastened to explain:
'That kiss
implied that she has asked your hand in marriage to her Son. You
see, the
dream you had last night has come true.' Khadijih Bagum, hearing
the news and
being reminded of her wondrous dream, was greatly elated. The
extraordinary
respect and consideration which all the members of the family gave
to Siyyid
'Ali-Muhammad, and the accounts of His demeanour and bearing which
she had
heard from her elders, had already convinced Khadijih Bagum that
her young
Cousin stood head and shoulders above them all. She recalled:
'From that day I
felt a great stirring within my heart. It seemed that the gate of
God's mercy
and abundant bounty had been flung open before my face. I felt
immeasurably
proud of my coming union.'
Some two months passed before the wedding could be arranged.
Marriage
feasts were held in the house of Mirza 'Ali, the father of Khadijih
Bagum, and in the house of the uncle of Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad who
had been
His guardian. Shaykh Abu-Turab, the Imam-Jum'ih of Shiraz,
presided
over the ceremony and read the usual oration. As it was customary
for a
relative of the bridegroom to respond, His uncle Haji Mirza Siyyid
'Al'ai, accepted the suit. Later, the bride and the Groom were
joined in
wedlock in the house of Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad Himself.\*
+F3 The marriage took place in August 1842.

Khadijih Bagum recalled: 'His kindness towards me and His care
for me
were indescribable. He and His mother alike showered me with
kindness and
consideration.' The household in that small dwelling, destined to
be the scene
of the birth of a World Faith, consisted of the married couple, the
mother of
Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad, and two black servitors: Fiddih, the woman,
and
Mubarak, the man.

Remembering those halcyon days preceding sorrows and
suffering, Khadijih
Bagum would say: 'No words can ever convey my wonderful feeling of
good
fortune.' But, not long after her marriage, she dreamt one night
that a
fearsome lion was standing in the courtyard of their house, and she
herself had
her arms around the neck of the lion. The beast dragged her twice
round the
whole perimeter of the courtyard, and once round half of it. She
woke up,
alarmed and trembling with fright, and related her dream to her
Husband. His
comment was: 'You awoke too soon. Your dream portends that our
life together
will not last more than two-and-a-half years.' Khadijih Bagum was
greatly
distressed, but her Husband's affection and His words of comfort
consoled her
and prepared her to accept every adversity in the path of God.

Before long it was realized that Khadijih Bagum was with
child. And whe
the time came, her accouchement was exceedingly difficult and
fraught with
danger. Her mother-in-law reported to Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad that
His wife wa
on the point of death. There was a mirror beside Him, on which He
wrote a
prayer, and instructed His mother to hold the mirror in front of
His wife. That done, the child was safely delivered; but its life
was short.
Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad's mother was both grieved and angry. She
remonstrated
her Son that if He had such powers, why had He not made an attempt
to preserve
the life of the child, and spare His wife so much suffering?
Siyyid
'Ali-Muhammad replied with a smile that He was not destined to
leave any
progeny, an answer which infuriated His mother; but to her
reproaches He said
no more.

The child, a son who was named Ahmad by his Father, was buried
under a
cypress tree in the compound of the tomb of Bibi-Du"kh taran.\*
+F4 No one knows for certain who Bibi-Du"kh taran was. It is said
that
+F4 she was a member of the Royal House of the Atabaks of
Fars--the
+F4 Salghurids (1148-1270)--while others have claimed that since
Bi-Bi-
+F4 Du"kh taran means the matron or the Mistress of the Maidens,
it is
+F4 possible that she was the Abbess of a Christian order of nuns.

In the "Suratu'l-Qarab" (The Chapter of Kinship) of His mighty
book,
the "Qayyumu'l Asma' , the Bab speaks of Ahmad: 'O concourse of
Light!
Hear My call from the point of Fire in this ocean of snow-white
water on this
crimson earth. Verily, I am
God, besides Whom there is no other God. On the exalted throne a
beloved noble
woman, bearing the same name\* as the beloved of the First
Friend,\* was wedded
+F5 Khadijih.
+F6 The Prophet Muhammad
to this Great Remembrance;\* and verily I caused the angels of
Heaven and the
+F7 The term 'Dhikr', here translated as 'Remembrance, was
frequently used by
+F7 the Bab to refer to Himself.
denizens of Paradise, on the day of the Covenant, to bear witness,
in truth, to
God's Remembrance.

'O well-beloved! Value highly the grace of the Great
Remembrance, for it
cometh from God, the Loved One. Thou shalt not be a woman, like
other women,
if thou obeyest God in the Cause of Truth, the greatest Truth.
Know thou the
great bounty conferred upon thee by the Ancient of Days, and take
pride in
being the consort of the Well-Beloved, Who is loved by God, the
All-Wise, the
All-Praised. Be patient in all that God hath ordained concerning
the Bab and
His Family. Verily, thy son,
Ahmad, is with Fatimih,\* the Sublime, in the sanctified Paradise.'
+F8 The daughter of the Prophet Muhammmad.

There is this further reference to Ahmad in the
"Suratu'l-'Abd" of the
same mighty Book: 'All praise be to God Who bestowed upon the
Solace of the
Eyes,\* in His youth, Ahmad. We did verily raise him up unto
God...O Solace
+F9 The Bab oftentimes refers to Himself in the "Qayyumu'l-Asma'
as
+F9 Qurratu'l-'Ayn-the Solace of the Eyes.
of the Eyes! Be patient in what thy God hath ordained for thee.
Verily he
doeth whatsoever He willeth. He is the All-Wise in the exercise
of His
justice. He is thy Lord, the Ancient of Days, and praised be He
in whatever He
ordereth.'


During those years of their marriage, Khadijih Bagum related,
her
Husband had no definite occupation. He spent most of His time in
the upper
chamber of the house, engaged in devotions. At times, He went in
the morning
to His uncle's trading-house in the Saray-i-Gumruk (Customs Serai).
And some
afternoons He would go for a walk in the fields ouside the city and
come home
at
sunset. It was His wont to write His letters or His meditations
in the early
part of the evening, after performing the obligatory prayers
pertaining to
that period of the night.

Khadijih Bagum recalled that one day in the late afternoon He
came home
earlier than usual. That evening, He said, He had a particular
task to attend
to, and asked that dinner be served earlier. Fiddih, the servant
who did
the cooking, was so informed, and the family had their evening meal
in the room
of the mother of Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad. Then He retired for the
night.

Speaking of the events of that memorable night, which,
according to
recollections of members of the Afnan family, occurred some time
before the
Bab declared His mission, Khadijih Bagum related: 'An hour later,
when the
house was quiet and its occupants had gone to sleep, He rose from
His bed and
left the room. At first I took no particular notice of His
absence, but when
it lengthened to more than an hour I felt some concern. Then I
went out to
look for Him, but He was nowhere to be found.
Perhaps, for some reason, He had left the house, I thought; but,
trying the
street door I found it locked from within, as usual. Then I walked
to the
western side of the house, looked up at the roof-top, and saw that
the upper
chamber was well lighted. This added to my surprise, because I had
never known
Him to go to that part of the house at that hour of the night,
unless He had
guests. And He always told me when a visitor was expected. He had
not said
that He was to have a guest that night. So, with both astonishment
and
trepidation, I went up the steps at the northern side of the
courtyard. There
I saw Him standing in that chamber, His hands raised heavenwards,
intoning a
prayer in a most melodious voice, with tears streaming down His
face. And His
face was luminous; rays of light radiated from it. He looked so
majestic and
resplendent that fear seized me, and I stood transfixed where I
was, trembling
uncontrollably. I could neither enter the room nor retrace my
steps. My
will-power was gone, and I was on the point of screaming, when He
made a
gesture with His blessed hands, telling me to go back.
This movement of His hands gave me back my courage, and I returned
to my room
and my bed. But all that night long I remained deeply disturbed.
In my fitful
moments of sleep that scene in the upper chamber would present
itself to my
mind, adding to my consternation. I kept asking myself what grave
event had
come to pass to evoke such sorrow and such tears, inducing prayer
and
supplication of such intensity. Sleep was impossible that night,
and then came
the dawn, so foreboding, and I heard the muezzin's call to prayer.

'At sunrise Fiddih took the samovar and tea-things to the room
of my
mother-in-law and, as usual, He went to His mother's room to take
tea. I
followed Him there, and as soon as my eyes alighted on Him, that
attitude and
that majesty which I had witnessed the night before took shape
before me. I
paled and shuddered involuntarily. His mother had, at that moment,
gone out of
the room, and He was quietly drinking His tea. He raised His face
to me, and
received me with great kindness and affection, bidding me be
seated. Then He
passed to me what was left of the tea in His
own cup, which I drank. His kindness restored my courage, and when
He asked me
what it was that troubled me, I boldly replied that it was the
change in Him
which weighed heavily on my mind. "You are no longer", I told
Him,"the same
person I knew in our childhood. We grew up together, we have been
married for
two years, living in this house, and now I see a different person
before me.
You have been transformed." I further remarked that this had made
me anxious
and uneasy. He smiled and said that although He had not wished to
be seen by
me in the condition of the previous night, God had ordained
otherwise. "It
was the will of God", He said, "that you should have seen Me in the
way you did
last night, so that no shadow of doubt should ever cross your mind,
and you
should come to know with absolute certitude that I am that
Manifestation of God
Whose advent has been expected for a thousand years. This light
radiates from
My heart and from My Being."\* As soon as
+F10 These are the words of the Bab as recalled by Khadijih Bagum
in later
+F10 years, and recorded decades after, and should not be taken
as His exact
+F10 words on that occasion. (Ed.)
I heard Him speak these words I believed in Him. I prostrated
myself before
Him and my heart became calm and assured. From that moment I lived
only to
serve Him, evanescent and self-effacing before Him, no thought of
self ever
intruding.'

The degree of Khadijih Bagum's faith and the rank she attained
are
attested by Nabil:\* 'The wife of the Bab...perceived at the
earliest dawn
+F11 Nabil-i-A'zam, "The Dawn Breakers , p. 191 (U.S. edn.).
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 fervour of her faith.' In the prayer
of visitation
which Baha'u'llah revealed for Khadijih Bagum after her death, He
addresses
her in these: 'Thou art she, who, before the creation of the world
of being,
found the fragrance of the garment of the Merciful.'
Whenever Khadijih Bagum spoke of the days of her marriage and
the
enforced separation from her Husband, and related the sufferings
of the Bab,
grief would so overwhelm her as to deprive her, for a while, of the
power of
speech. Her grief was felt, and shared by all who heard her.

Not many months after His declaration to Mulla
Husayn-i-Bushru'i,\* the Bab left Shiraz to go on pilgrimage to
Mecca. The letter which He wrote to Khadijih Bagum from Bushihr
(the port
of embarkation) shows His degree of attachment to her. His letter
opened with
these words: 'My sweet love, may God preserve thee.'

The return of the Bab from His pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina
signalled
the commencement of fierce denials and persecutions which reached
their climax
with the martyrdom of the Bab Himself. His wife's sufferings and
agonies of
mind and soul, although not under public gaze, can well be
imagined. There
was, for example, the
incident of the raid by the emissaries of the Darughih (Chief
Constable) of
Shiraz, which she particularly recalled in later years:

'It was summer-time in the month of Ramadan. We slept on the
roof,
and my mother-in-law slept in the courtyard. (Farra*sh(es \* of
the Governor
+F12 Footman, lictor, attendant.
made their way to our home from a neighbour's roof. That Blessed
Being rose
up and told me to go downstairs. The intruders took away every
book and every
piece of writing that they found in the upper chamber. To Him they
said, "You
have to come with us to the house of 'Abdu'l-Hamid Khan (the
Darughih)." Down below, I could hear Him expostulating with the
(Farra*sh(es , demanding to know why they had broken into and
forced their way
into our house, in the dead of night. "It has been reported to
us", they
replied,"that some people have assembled in this house." Since
they had by
then discovered the untruth of this report, He asked if they would
now go away
in peace. But they were not satisfied and took Him away. God
knows what His
mother and I
suffered that night. We were thankful that His grandmother, an
elderly lady,
was not there. It was close to dawn when He came home. They had
demanded
money and, as He had no cash with Him, they had laid hands on the
cashmere
shawl round His waist and cut it up. 'Abdu'l-Hamid Khan had kept
half of
the shawl for himself.'

Haji Mirza Abu'l-Qasim, a brother of Khadijih Bagum, wrote
the full story of that night in a letter to Haji Mirza Siyyid
Muhammad, a maternal uncle of the Bab, who at that time resided in
Bushihr. This letter is extant.

Not long after that night when the privacy of His home had
been stealthily
invaded, the authorities arrested the Bab and detained Him, under
lock and
key, in the house of the Darughih. And it was rumoured in the city
that he
would be put to death in the same house. Haji Mirza Siyyid 'Ali,
the uncle of the Bab who had been His guardian in His childhood,
did his
utmost to provide comfort and relief. He himself had been beaten
up and was
ailing, yet he was ceaseless in his efforts. And so was the sister
of
Khadijih Bagum, whose
name was Zahra Bagum. At this time, when no male member of the
family dared
come to their house, Khadijih Bagum recalled, it was only her
sister who
would come, dressed as a beggar. The famous mosque of Shiraz,
known as
Masjid-i-Naw (the New Mosque), was close by. Here, in a secluded
spot in the
mosque, her sister would change her own *ch(adur \* for one
tattered and
+F13 An outer garment which envelops a woman from head to foot,
like a sack.
patched, and would then go to the house of the Bab to bring any
news there was
of Him to His mother.

Amongst the notables of Shiraz, the one man ever ready to
render
assistance was Shaykh Abu-Turab, the Imam-Jum'ih. Zahra Bagum,
together with the wife of Haji Abu'l-Hasan-i-Bazzaz (the Mercer),\*
+F14 Haji Abu'l-Hasan was a fellow-pilgrim of the Bab, on the boat
+F14 that took them from Bushihr to Jiddah. He was greatly
impressed by the
+F14 mien and bearing of Siyyid 'Ali-Muhammad, his
fellow-townsman.
+F14 Later, in Shiraz, he learned of the claim and the mission of
Siyyid
+F14 'Ali-Muhammad, the Bab, and gave Him his unswerving
allegiance,
+F14 which never faltered in the face of life-long persecution.
Many were the
+F14 hardships that he bore resolutely in His path and for His
sake.
+F14 Haji Abu'l-Hasan was the father of Mirza Muhammad-Baqir
+F14 Khan Dihqan, a distinguished and greatly devoted Baha'i of
the
+F14 period which covered the Ministry of 'Abdu'l-Baha.
who was closely related to the Imam Jum'ih, visited regularly the
house of thi
benevolent divine to obtain news and seek his intercession on
behalf of the
Bab. The Imam-Jum'ih would reply that he was powerless in the face
of the
open and relentless enmity of their own relative, and his advice
was to try and
calm down that vociferous man. he was referring to Haji
'Abdu'l-Husayn, a brother of the wife of Haji Mirza Siyyid
Muhammad, who was foremost in denouncing, insulting, and
persecuting the
Bab. But when the divines of Shiraz passed the verdict of death
on the
Bab, and had their infamous sentence confirmed by Husayn Khan, the
Nizamu'd-Dawlih and Governor-General of the province of Fars, the
Imam-Jum'ih refused to add his signature to theirs. Three of those
divines--Shaykh Husayn, the Nazimu'sh-Shari'ah (known as Zalim,
the
Tyrant), Shaykh Mihdiy-i-Kujuri, and Shaykh Muhammmad-'Aliy-i-
Mahallati--presented themselves at the house of the Imam-
Jum'ih in an effort to win him over to their side. Shaykh
Abu-Turab
rejected their plea, censured their reprehensible conduct, and
turned them out
of his house. By now Zahra Bagum, the mother of the Bab, and the
wife of
Haji Abu'l-Hasan had together persuaded the Imam-Jum'ih to find a
way
out of the impasse. And so, as well as declining to be associated
with the
death verdict pronounced by the divines, he made them agree to
summon the Bab
to Masjid-i-Vakil (the Vakil's Mosque),\* and there give Him the
chance to
+F15 It was built by Karim Khan-i-Vakil (reigned 1750-79), the
founder of
+F15 the short-lived Zand dynasty.
repudiate His claim. One day, heralds were sent through the
streets to call,
in the name of the Governor, on the people of Shiraz to assemble,
in the
afternoon of a certain Friday, in Vakil's Mosque to hear the Bab's
recantation.

And now to continue with Khadijih Bagum's recollections: 'We
were all
apprehensive lest something untoward should happen, but it was
being said that
once He had declared His repentance, He would be allowed to come
home. This
was comforting to us. On that Friday afternoon, we wished
to send a woman to the mosque, to bring us news of the happenings
there. But
it was found to be impossible. Women were not admitted. However,
news was
brought to us that (farra*sh(es had taken Him to the mosque, where
He had
ascended the pulpit and spoken words which had kindled once again
the wrath of
the Governor and the divines, whereupon they had led Him back to
confinement.
Soon after, a cholera epidemic suddenly struck Shiraz, taking a
heavy toll
of lives. The people fled from the city and very few were left
behind.

'One day, to our indescribable joy, He came home and stayed
two or three
days. Only Haji Mirza Siyyid 'Ali and two others of the believers
knew of His release. But these were the last days of my life with
Him. A few
days before the arrival of the month of Ramadan, He announced that
His
sojourn in Shiraz was no longer advisable and that He would leave
the city
that very night. We, who had known how much He had suffered in
Shiraz,
were happy and contented that He could now reach a place of safety.
In the
afternoon He called on Haji Mirza Siyyid 'Ali and Haji Siyyid
'Ali and Haji Mirza Zaynu'l-
'Abidin and his wife, who was my sister, to bid them farewell,
returned
home about sunset, and two hours later, all alone, left the house.
His clothes
and the necessities for the journey had been sent out of the city
earlier.
Accompanied by one of the believers He took the road to Isfahan.\*
+F16 In the last days of September 1846. A somewhat different
account of this
+F16 episode is given in Browne (ed.), "A Traveler's Narrative ,
p. 9 (U.S.
+F16 edn.), and "The Dawn-Breakers , pp. 197-8 (U.S. edn.).

'Now, we were most of the time in the house of Haji Mirza
Siyyid 'Ali, expecting the arrival, any minute, of a messenger with
news of
Him. The cholera epidemic was over and the Governor had returned
to
Shiraz. As soon as Husayn Khan was back, he sent his (farra*sh(es
to
seek Him. We pleaded ignorance of His whereabouts. 'Abdu'l-Hamid
Khan,
the Darughih, who had on his own authority allowed Him to depart
from
Shiraz, likewise denied having any knowledge of His destination.
Then the
(farra*sh(es of the Governor came to arrest my brother, Haji Mirza
Abu'l-Qasim, who was ill in bed and unable to walk. So they threw
him over
their shoulders and carried him to
the residence of the Governor. Of course he knew nothing, but
Husayn Khan
would not believe him, and began to remonstrate so vehemently that
my brother
could not withstand that torrent of abuse and lost consciousness.
Indeed, he
was driven almost to the point of death. Finally, Husayn Khan told
him
that he should produce his Brother-in-Law within fifteen days or
pay a fine of
15,000 tumans.\* Whatever my brother said had no effect on the
cruel
+F17 A substantial sum in those days.
Governor. Then Haji Muhammad-Sadiq-i-Isfahani, a friend and
business associate of my brother, intervened to stand surety for
him. The
Governor's men once again hoisted Haji Mirza Abu'l-Qasim on to
their shoulders and brought him home. He was thrown
unceremoniously into the
forecourt of the house and abandoned there. God knows what my
brother and we
went through during those two or three hours. One result of this
ill-treatment
was an affliction of the eyes. The pain was severe and my brother
could not
open his eyes, whilst tears streamed from them the whole time.
'Upon the expiration of fifteen days, the (farra*sh(es came
again. They
would not allow my brother even to mount his donkey, but took him
away in the
same manner as before. God be praised that just as Husayn Khan was
demanding menacingly his 15,000 tumans from Haji Muhammad-Sadiq
and my brother, a letter was brought to him from the Governor of
Isfahan,
Manu"ch ihr Khan, who had written that the Person whom Husayn Khan
was
seeking was in Isfahan, an honoured Guest of the Governor himself,
and that
no member of His family should be molested in any way. Husayn Khan
had
perforce to moderate his demand, and exacted 1,500 tumans instead.
The
Farrash-Bashi (Chief of the (farra*sh(es ) and his men all demanded
money
and had to be satisfied.'

Haji Mirza Hasan-'Ali, a younger brother of Haji
Mirza Siyyid 'Ali, lived in Yazd. Once every few months he would
send a
messenger to Shiraz with a letter for his sister, the mother of the
Bab,
to console and comfort her, and give her whatever news he had of
the Bab. At
times there was a letter from the Bab Himself, addressed to
His wife, mother and grandmother. Haji Mirza Siyyid Hasan (later
known as Afnan-i-Kabir), a brother of Khadijih Bagum, was in
Isfahan
during those years, but he never wrote to her a line about her
Husband.
Indeed, at that time Haji Mirza Siyyid Hasan was hostile to his
Kinsman, the Bab.\*
+F18 A half-brother of Khadijih Bagum, Haji Muhammad-Mihdi--a
+F18 poet of distinction whose soubriquet was Hijab, had gone to
Bombay
+F18 for commercial pursuits

And now to continue with Khadijih Bagum's recollections: 'Then
Haji Mirza Siyyid 'Ali left for Yazd. Of the young members of the
family, Haji Mirza Javad\* and Haji Mirza Muhammad-
+F19 Son of Haji Mirza Siyyid 'Ali.
'Ali\* came to see us oftentimes and provided us with our means of
+F20 Son of Haji Mirza Siyyid Muhammad.
livelihood. They were exceedingly kind. Whenever they met my
mother-in-law,
they invariably kissed her hand and spoke such words as would bring
her peace
of mind.

'A few months passed, until news reached us that He, the Qa'im
of the
House of
Muhammad, had been taken to Tihran,\* and then to Tabriz. These
+F21 Although summoned by the Shah to Tihran, an order from the
Prime
+F21 Minister countermanded this, when the Bab was within thirty
miles of the
+F21 capital. (Ed.)
fragmentary pieces of news caused us great distress. My
mother-in-law appealed
to her brother, Haji Mirza Siyyid 'Ali, to do something. Thus it
was that he went from Yazd to Maku and in the end met a martyr's
death in
Tihran.

'Haji Mirza Siyyid 'Ali's martyrdom in Tihran, and the
martyrdom of that Blessed Person [the Bab] in Tabriz were concealed
from the
women of the family, and whenever we mentioned rumours that had
come to our
ears, the men would hotly deny them--all lies they would say.'


Of course the men of the family knew what had happened. Even
before those
dire events had come to pass, Haji Mirza Abu'l-Qasim, the brother
of Khadijih Bagum, had found it impossible to stay in Shiraz, and
had
taken Mirza Javad, the eighteen-year-old son of Haji Mirza
Siyyid 'Ali, with him to go on pilgrimage to Mecca. Mirza Javad
had, only a year before, married his cousin, Khadijih Sultan-Bagum,
a
daughter of Haji Mirza Siyyid Muhammad. On the way back, the
youthful Mirza Javad (now a Haji) fell ill and died at Jiddah,
where he was buried.\* Haji Mirza Abu'l-Qasim, now alone, visited
+F22 A receipt exists, from a reciter of the Qur'an in Karbila,
which
+F22 lists the clothing and other belongings of Haji Mirza Javad.
+F22 They had been given to him by Haji Mirza Abu'l-Qasim, and in
+F22 return, he was to recite in public verses of the Qur'an on
behalf of
+F22 the deceased.
the holy shrines of 'Iraq before returning home. More than a year
had passed
since the martyrdom of the Bab and that of His uncle, when Haji
Mirza Abu'l-Qasim reached home with the sad news of the death of
Haji Mirza Javad. The announcement of this youth's lamentable
death perforce revealed the fact that his father was dead,
too--cruelly
beheaded in Tihran. And the martyrdom of the Bab Himself could no
longer
be kept a secret. Now, all three were mourned together.

The mother of the Bab was inconsolable. The spiteful attitude
and the
lashing, wounding tongues of some members of the family, who were
still
bitterly hostile, inten-
sified her agonies, until she could not bear any longer the
injuries inflicted
upon her and decided to take herself away from Shiraz. At first
she
wished to go to Mashhad--the most sacred city of Iran, where the
remains of
the Eighth Imam, 'Ali Ibn Musa'r-Rida, repose--and have her mother
with
her. But she changed her mind, leased the house of the Bab to
Mirza
Muhammad-Husayn-i-Bazzaz, and, accompanied by Bibi Gawhar\*--a
sister
+F23 A great-aunt of the present writer.
of Haji Mirza 'Abdu'llah Khan-i-Balyuz--and Haji
Mubarak, the faithful black servant of the Bab, went to Karbila and
resided there for the rest of her life. Later, Mirza 'Abdu'l-Majid
and
his wife, both believers, went to live in the same holy city. The
wife of
Mirza 'Abdu'l-Majid served the mother of the Bab with exemplary
devotion.

Khadijih Bagum, recalling those days of desolation and
distress, would
say: 'Her departure from Shiraz added greatly to my burden of
sorrow and
deepened the sadness of my heart. I had no longer by my side a
comforter whose
love and sympathy and care had sustained me over the years. I went
to live with my sister, the widow of Haji Mirza Siyyid 'Ali. She
herself had lost both her husband and her only son within the space
of one
year. As great as was my sorrow, hers was even greater and I had
to comfort
her. The loyal, faithful Fiddih was with me.

'Of the servants and the maids whom we had in the house, no
one knew of
the martyrdom of that Blessed Being and the martyrdom of His uncle.
It was not
possible to talk of such matters with anyone. In Karbila, Haji
Mubarak had purchased a broom with a green handle to sweep every
day the
courtyard of the Shrine of Imam Husayn. Since green is the colour
of the
House of Muhammad, Haji Mubarak meant to keep alive the hope that
one
day he would see again, with his own eyes, the luminous face of his
beloved
Master in this world. In Shiraz we told Fiddih and others that the
Master and His uncle had gone to Bombay for the purposes of trade.
When our
house was being repaired Fiddih was so happy, saying all the time
that the
Master was on His way home, and the house was being repaired in
preparation
for His home-
coming. The joy of this faithful soul was wonderful to behold and
truly
overwhelming. We were all deeply affected.

'When the captives of Nayriz and Zanjan were brought to
Shiraz,
they could not approach us nor could we approach them. But after
a while the
daughters of Hujjat and some ladies from Nayriz visited us in the
house of
Haji Mirza Siyyid 'Ali. Thereafter we were able to visit one
another.

'Years passed, and Mirza Aqa\* grew up. He was greatly
attached to
+F24 The son of Haji Mirza Zaynu'l-Abidin and Zahra Bagum,
+F24 sister of Khadijih Bagum.
The Blessed Beauty [Baha'u'llah] was in Baghdad. Mirza Aqa wrote
to Him on my behalf and I was honoured with a reply. Then came a
day when
Mulla Muhammad-i-Zarandi, Nabil-i-A'zam, travelled to Shiraz
with a mandate from the Blessed Beauty to announce His Mission to
the People of
the Bayan\* in this city. In the house of Mirza Aqa he told the
+F25 Followers of the Bab.
believers gathered there that the Promised One of the Bayan had
come, and
they, one and all, pledged their loyalty. One day I asked him to
come. I was
behind a curtain, and as soon as I heard him say that the Blessed
Beauty was
"He Whom God shall manifest", promised in the "Bayan , I
experienced the same
feeling as I had that night, standing at the threshold of the upper
chamber of
our home, and became certain that what God had promised for the
"Year Nine" had
come to pass. I immediately put my forehead on the ground in
adoration and
thanksgiving. Then, I could only whisper: "Offer at His sacred
threshold my
most humble devotion." I did not hesitate for a moment and my
submission was
instantaneous and total.

'Again, years passed, and one day a letter came from Mirza
Siyyid
Hasan, my brother in Isfahan, announcing that Aqa Siyyid Yahya
and his sister,\* accompanied by Shaykh Salman,\* were coming to
Shiraz
+F26 Munirih Khanum, who was to become the wife of 'Abdu'l-Baha.
+F27 The celebrated courier of Baha'u'llah.
on their way to the Holy Land. Believers travelling to Shiraz
always came
to pay me a visit and I received them in the home of Mirza Aqa, my
nephew. Women amongst the believers in Shiraz, who were few in
number, used to call at the house of Haji Mirza Siyyid 'Ali to see
me. I lived in that house and had it prepared to receive the
travellers from
Isfahan. But I heard that on their arrival they had gone to the
house of
Haji Mirza Siyyid Muhammad, which was close by. I went there
myself and brought them to this house. My nephew, Haji Siyyid
'Ali,\*
+F28 The son of Haji Mirza Siyyid Hasan.
was also in Shiraz at this time. They stayed for fifteen days, and
those
were some of the happiest days of my life.'


Here ends the story of Khadijih Bagum, as told by her to the
young
members of her family.

Shaykh Salman visited Shiraz often, and whenever he came from
'Akka, he brought a Tablet from Baha'u'llah addressed to Khadijih
Bagum,
and presents and tokens as well. Once he brought her a book in the
handwriting
of Zaynu'l-Muqarrabin--a gift from Baha'u'llah; another time a ring
and
shirts which Baha'u'llah had worn, with handkerchiefs and
turban-cloths used
round His "taj"--His headgear.
Munirih Khanum carried to the presence of Baha'u'llah three
requests
from Khadijih Bagum. She longed for the house of her Husband to
be repaired
so that she might live there. She asked for the hand of
Furughiyyih
Khanum, a daughter of Baha'u'llah, on behalf of her nephew, Haji
Siyyid 'Ali. And she begged for permission to travel to 'Akka and
have the
bounty of attaining the presence of her Lord, in Whose path her
Husband had
gladly offered His life. Baha'u'llah granted all her requests.
The house of
the Bab received the repairs needed, and Khadijih Bagum transferred
her
residence there. But, before long, the succession of visitors to
that house
aroused the wrath of the adversaries. Haji Farhad Mirza, the
Mu'tamidu'd-Dawlih, an uncle of Nasiri'd-din Shah, who, at the
time,
was Governor-General of the province of Fars, decided to have the
house
demolished. Mirza Abu'l-Hasan, the Munshi-Bashi (Chief Secretary),
and Mirza Zaynu'l-'Abidin Khn-i-'Ali-Abadi, both of whom
were Baha'is and members of the retinue of the Prince-Governor,
close to his
person, managed to avert that catastrophe.
For a while Khadijih Bagum had to live once again in the house of
her
sister, but eventually returned to the house of her Husband.

As for her second request, the marriage of her nephew to
Baha'u'llah's
daughter was to cause Khadijih Bagum untold sorrow. For Haji
Siyyid
'Ali had promised her, should her request be granted and he be
accepted as
Baha'u'llah's son-in-law, that he would come from Yazd, where he
resided and
traded, and would take Khadijih Bagum with him to the Holy Land,
that her
eager desire to attain the presence of Baha'u'llah might be
fulfilled. But
when news of Baha'u'llah's consent to the marriage was recieved,
this fickle
nephew broke his promise and sent word that conditions prevented
his coming to
Shiraz, and that he was proceeding to the Holy Land via 'Ishqabad
and
hoped to arrange for her journey as soon as he could. Khadijih
Bagum sensed
that her chance to travel to the Holy Land was now gone forever;
in those days
a woman travelled only in the company of a close relative and such
opportunities were rare.
Khadijih Bagum was heart-broken. Her health deteriorated and
despite
the attentions of several physicians, within two months of the
receipt of that
distressing intelligence, she passed away in the house of her
glorious Husband,
three hours before sunset on Monday, 2 Dhi'l-Qi'dih 1299 A.H. (15
September
1882). And strangely, the faithful servitor, Fiddih died two hours
after
the death of her mistress, in the same house. As her brother, Haji
Mirza Abu'l-Qasim, has recorded, Khadijih Bagum's body was taken
that
night to the public bath, known as Hammam-i-Guldastih, which was
adjacent
to the Masjid-i-Naw, to be washed and prepared for interment. That
same night
she was buried within the Shrine of Shah-Chiragh,\* in the section
known as
+F29 The tomb of Mir Siyyid Ahmad, a son of the Seventh Imam,
Musa'l-
+F29 Kazim.
Sadru'l-Hifaz (to the north of the tomb of Mir Siyyid Ahmad), which
was called Masjid-i-Zananih (Women's Mosque).
It was then forty years since that auspicious and joyous day
of the
marriage of the Bab to Khadijih Bagum. 'Be patient in all that God
hath
ordained concerning the Bab and His Family,' he had counselled her,
and to His
counsel she had clung faithfully to her last hour. Their life
together in this
world had lasted but two brief years, when there befell them a
separation best
described in the Bab's own words written during His journey to
Mecca: 'My
sweet love,...God is my witness that since the time of separation
sorrow has
been so intense that it cannot be described...'

As we contemplate the life of this heroic, steadfast
woman--ennobled by
her instant recognition of both the Bab and Baha'u'llah--sadness
gives way
to pride and praise, and to the tranquillity of the words with
which her
beloved Husband closed His letter to her: "'Peace be upon thee and
the mercy of
"God and His blessings.'
.
(nbm)

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