Read: Release the Sun

By William Sears
This etext is based on:
"Release the Sun" by William Sears

Bah‡'’ Publishing Trust, Wilmette, Illinois 60091
Copyright (c) 1960, 1995 by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bah‡'’s of the United States
All Rights Reserved
Reprinted 1964, 1968, 1975, 1995
1995 Edition
ISBN: 0-87743-027-6 (cloth)
ISBN: 0-87743-003-9 (paper)
LCC# 60-8220
Availability of this etext in no way modifies the copyright status of the above publication.
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The following is the first in a series of three books which will tell the stories of the central figures of the Baha'i Faith. This book, Release the Sun, gives the early history of the Baha'i Faith up through the hour of the martyrdom of its Herald, the Bab. Professor Edward Granville Browne of Pembroke College, Cambridge University wrote of this period in history, saying: "I am very anxious to get as accurate an account of all the details connected with the [faith of the Bab] as possible, for in my eyes the whole [story] seems one of the most interesting and important events that has occurred since the rise of Christianity --and I feel it my duty, as well as my pleasure, to try as far as in me lies to bring the matter to the notice of my countrymen --for suppose anyone could tell us more about the childhood and early life and appearance of Christ, for instance, how glad we should be to know it. Now it is impossible to find out much -- but in the case of the Bab it is possible -- So let us earn the thanks of posterity, and provide against that day now."[1] This is an attempt to bring just such an account of the life of the Bab to the attention of the world. This same story has been set down in everlasting language for the scholar, in Nabil's Narrative, The Dawn-Breakers, and in God Passes By, written by Shoghi Effendi Rabbani, the Guardian of the Baha'i Faith. Release the Sun does not present all of the drama of this epic, nor does it give word for word the exciting stories told during these memorable days. It merely offers a simplified version of a story too long neglected and overlooked by man in his search for peace of mind and satisfaction of soul.
[1 The Chosen Highway, Preface. ]

William Sears
Wilgespruit, Transvaal,
South Africa September, 1957
A small whirlwind of dust moved quietly down the deserted street. It whipped a scrap of paper against a sleeping cat, frightening it out of the doorway into the house. Then all was motionless silence. Suddenly a young child hurried around the corner and raced down the empty street. His bare feet kicked up little puffs from the hot earth. "He's coming!" he cried out. "They're bringing him this way!" People streamed from their houses with the panic of ants whose hill has been struck by a careless foot. The street was alive with thrilled and expectant faces. Their excitement increased as they heard the angry shouts of the approaching mob. A river of men, women and children flowed noisily around the corner. The young man they were following was overwhelmed by their insults. The mob cried out with delight. They knew he would not escape them. He was a captive. His guards pulled him along in front of the crowd by a long rope tied to an iron collar which was fastened about his neck. He was being taken to the authorities so that his death warrant might be signed. When he faltered in his steps, the guards helped him on his feet by jerking savagely on the rope or by planting a well-aimed kick. Occasionally someone would dart out of the crowd, break <p2> through the guards and strike the young man with a fist or a stick. Cheers of pleasure and encouragement accompanied each attacker. When a stone or a piece of refuse hurled from the mob struck the young captive in the face, both the guards and the crowd would burst into laughter.[F1] "Rescue yourself, O great hero!" one of the pursuers called mockingly. "Break asunder your bonds! Produce for us a miracle!" Then he spat in derision at the silent figure. The young man was returned to the barracks square, then a short time later was led to his place of execution. It was high noon in the public square of a sun-baked city. The blistering summer sun flashed from the barrels of the raised muskets. The guns were pointed at the young man's breast. The soldiers awaited the command to fire and take his life. Great crowds were still pouring into the public square. Thousands swarmed along the adjoining rooftops overlooking the scene of death. They were all hungry for one last look at this strange young man who had so troubled their country. He was either good or evil, they were not sure which. He seemed so young to die, barely thirty. Now that the end had come, this victim of all their hatred did not seem dangerous at all. He appeared helpless and gentle, yet confident and handsome. There was a look of contentment, even of eagerness, on his face as he gazed calmly into the hostile barrels of seven hundred and fifty cocked rifles.
This is the story of a modern search for
the Holy Grail, the cup of everlasting life. It began in the land
from which the three Kings came to Bethlehem guided by a bright
star. It was now the nineteenth century, and there was another sign
in the heavens, a great fiery comet. Many were awed, many were
frightened, many were cheered, for both the East and the West were
caught up in a millennial zeal.[F1]* In Persia, home of the "three
wise men," the excitement over the coming of a Messiah was greater
than in any other land. In America and Europe, scholars wrote and
spoke of the expected appearance of the promised Christ, but in
Persia many people were actively searching for Him. They believed
the Promised One to be already in their midst. Among these devout
searchers was Shaykh Ahmad, a kindly, gentle man. At the age of
forty, he left his home and kindred in one of the islands to the
south of the Persian Gulf, and set out to unravel the mystery of
the coming Messenger. An inner voice kept urging him on. Eagerly,
he devoured everything written on the subject. He questioned the
great religious and scientific authorities until he felt that at
last he knew the truth. * See Appendix, Note One.
He was now filled with an eagerness to unburden his soul. He began
to search for someone with whom he could share his great secret:
his certainty of the time and place for the appearance of God's new
Messenger, Who would fulfill all the promises given in the sacred
Books. Shaykh Ahmad made his way on foot to the city of Shiraz in
southern Persia. Often and passionately in his public talks he
extolled that city. Such was the praise he lavished upon Shiraz
that his hearers, who were only too familiar with its mediocrity,
were astonished at the tone of his language. "Wonder not," Shaykh
Ahmad told them. "Before long the secret of my words will be made
clear to you. A number of you will live to behold the glory of a
day which all the prophets of old have foretold and have yearned
to witness. There was no one to whom Shaykh Ahmad was able to pour
out his knowledge in its entirety. He feared what the people might
do to the One whose coming had set his heart on fire. He knew he
must wait patiently until a kindred soul appeared with whom he
could share his secret. During those days, a young man named Siyyid
Kazim was already on his way to visit Shaykh Ahmad. He had heard
of this great man, and thought perhaps Shaykh Ahmad himself might
be the Promised One. Siyyid Kazim lived near a famous tomb near
Ardabil. One night in a dream he was told to arise and put himself
under the spiritual guidance of Shaykh Ahmad whom he would find
residing at Yazd.[F2] Siyyid Kazim began his journey to Yazd at
once. When he reached his destination, Shaykh Ahmad greeted him
affectionately. "I welcome you, O my friend! How long and how
eagerly I have awaited your coming." To him, Shaykh Ahmad confided
all that he knew. He urged Siyyid Kazim to kindle in every
receptive heart the fire that burned so brightly in his own. "You
have no time to lose," Shaykh Ahmad warned him. "Every fleeting
hour should be fully and wisely used. Strive night and day to
remove the veils of prejudice and orthodoxy that have blinded the
eyes of men. For verily I say, the hour is drawing nigh." By
devoting his special attention to his followers, Shaykh Ahmad hoped
to enable them to become active supporters of the Cause of the
Promised One when he appeared.
Shaykh Ahmad knew that the hour of his own death was approaching,
so he called his followers together. "After me," he said, seek for
the truth through Siyyid Kazim. He alone understands my
objective."[F3] Shaykh Ahmad died soon after, and Siyyid Kazim
became the leader of his followers. Siyyid Kazim also found that
there was no one sincere enough or worthy enough to hear all that
Shaykh Ahmad had taught him. His followers were still tied to
their homes, their families, their money, their businesses,
their former beliefs. "If the coming Promised One will exalt us
and preserve all we hold dear," they told Siyyid Kazim, "then we
are ready, nay eager, to accept. But, if His coming means forsaking
all we cherish and perhaps even facing death, then our ears are
deaf to the sweet music." At long last Siyyid Kazim found one young
man in whom he could place the greatest trust. The youth's name
was Mulla Husayn. Such was the love and honor that Siyyid Kazim
bestowed upon Mulla Husayn that some among his companions suspected
that Mulla Husayn might be the Promised One to whom their master
was unceasingly referring, the One whom he so often declared to be
even now living in their midst unrecognized by them all. "You
behold Him with your own eyes," Siyyid Kazim told them, "and yet
recognize him not!" Mulla Husayn returned Siyyid Kazim's great love
and respect. At times he himself secretly wondered whether or not
Siyyid Kazim might be the One they awaited. Mulla Husayn, however,
had a standard by which he planned to test whoever made such a
stupendous claim. He would ask that a commentary be written upon
the story of Joseph, a certain chapter in the sacred scripture, and
written in a style and language entirely different from the
prevailing standards. One day Mulla Husayn, in private, asked
Siyyid Kazim to write such a commentary. Siyyid Kazim refused.
"This verily is beyond me," he said. "However, He that great One
who comes after me will, unasked, reveal it for you. That
commentary will constitute one of the clearest evidences of His
truth." Mulla Husayn asked Siyyid Kazim why this chapter was called
the "best of stories" in their holy Book. Siyyid Kazim replied,
is not the proper occasion for explaining the reason." His words
hinted that the future would unveil this truth.[F4] Another among
his followers felt that Siyyid Kazim, in spite of his denials, was
the One foretold. He went so far as to declare this publicly.
Siyyid Kazim was most displeased. He would have cast the speaker
out of the company of his chosen followers had he not begged for
forgiveness. "My knowledge is but a drop compared to the immensity
of His knowledge," Siyyid Kazim asserted. "My attainments are but
a speck of dust in the face of the wonders of His power."[F5] When
Siyyid Kazim made this forthright denial, still another of his
followers was very distressed. For he, too, had believed Siyyid
Kazim to be the great announced Figure. He prayed earnestly to God
either to confirm the feeling in his heart or to deliver him from
such a fancy. The manner in which he was assisted is recorded in
his own words. "One day at the hour of dawn, we went to the house
of Siyyid Kazim. He was fully dressed in his best attire and was
about to leave. He asked me to accompany him. "He said, `A highly
esteemed and distinguished person has arrived. I feel it necessary
that we both should visit him.' "The sun had just appeared as we
reached our destination. In the doorway stood a youth. His face
revealed an expression of humility and kindliness which I can never
describe. He quietly approached us, extended his arms toward
Siyyid Kazim and lovingly embraced him. His friendliness
contrasted strongly with the profound reverence which Siyyid Kazim
showed him. "He led us to an upper chamber. A silver cup had been
placed in the center of the room. After we were seated, our host
filled the cup and handed it to Siyyid Kazim. He spoke a verse
from our holy Book: `A drink of pure beverage shall their Lord
give them.' "How great was my amazement when I saw my teacher
[Siyyid Kazim] quaff without the least hesitation, that holy
draught from a silver cup, the use of which is forbidden to the
faithful. "Three days later, I saw that same young man arrive and
take his seat amidst assembled followers of Siyyid Kazim. He sat
close to the doorway, and with great modesty and dignity of bearing
he listened to the discourse of Siyyid Kazim. "As soon as Siyyid
Kazim saw him, he immediately discontinued
speaking. One of his followers begged him to resume his talk about
the coming of the Promised One. "`What more shall I say?' replied
Siyyid Kazim as he turned his face toward the young man. `Lo, the
truth is more manifest than the ray of light that has fallen on
that lap.' "I immediately observed that the ray of sunlight to
which Siyyid Kazim referred had fallen upon the lap of that same
youth we had so recently visited. "One of Siyyid Kazim's followers
asked, `Why is it that you neither reveal His name nor identify His
person? Why?' Siyyid Kazim replied that if he were to divulge His
name, both the Beloved of God and he himself would be put to death
instantly. "I saw Siyyid Kazim actually point out with his finger
the ray of light that had fallen on that lap, and yet none of those
who were present seemed to apprehend its meaning. I was convinced
that some mystery inscrutable to us all lay concealed in that
strange and attractive youth. "I often felt the urge to seek his
presence, but every time I ventured an approach, a force I could
neither explain nor resist detained me. My inquiries elicited the
information that he was a resident of Shiraz and a merchant by
profession. He had set my heart aflame, and the memory of him
haunted me." Siyyid Kazim became increasingly aware of the approach
of the hour at which the Promised One was to be revealed. There
is conclusive evidence that he referred time and again to this
event. He was fond of saying: "I see him as the rising sun." He
realized how thick the veils were that prevented even his own
followers from understanding the truth. He kept warning them as
John the Baptist had warned those who awaited Christ: "The kingdom
of God is at hand." With care and wisdom he gradually began to
remove all the barriers that might stand in the way of their full
recognition of that hidden Treasure when it appeared. "Beware, lest
after my departure the world's fleeting vanities beguile you," he
cautioned them. "Renounce all comfort, all earthly possessions and
kindred, in your quest of Him. Detach yourselves from all earthly
things and humbly beseech God to guide you. Never relax in your
determination to seek and find Him. Be firm until the day He will
choose you as His companions. Well is it with every one of you who
will drink the cup of martyrdom in His path." Siyyid Kazim promised
some of his followers that they would
not only have the joy of seeing the coming Messenger of God face
to face, they would see His Successor as well. "For soon after the
first trumpet blast, there shall be sounded yet another call, and
all things shall be quickened and revived." Repeatedly Siyyid Kazim
told them that they would see not one, but two Messengers of God,
the twin Revelations promised in all the holy Books for these "last
days." These two successive Messengers would be the fulfillment of
the prophesy of the "second and third woe" mentioned in the Book
of Revelation of St. John, which prophesies that the "third woe"
would quickly follow the "second woe."[F6] They would also be the
fulfillment of the two trumpet blasts mentioned in the Qur'an which
in the "last days" would quickly follow each other.[F7] Siyyid
Kazim assured his followers that after the promised Dawn, the
promised Sun would be made manifest. "For when the star of the
Former has set," he said, "the Sun of the Latter will rise and
illuminate the whole world." His followers, Siyyid Kazim pointed
out, were living in the very day of the prophesy which was
fulfilled by these words. "In the year 1260 [1844] the earth shall
be illumined by His light--. . If thou livest until the year 1270
[1853] thou shalt witness how the nations, the rulers, the peoples,
and the Faith of God shall all have been renewed."[F8]* In the last
year of his life, Siyyid Kazim left the city of Karbila to visit
the holy Shrines nearby. He stopped at a prayer-house beside the
highway to offer his noonday devotions. He was standing beneath
the shade of a palm, when suddenly an Arab appeared. He approached
Siyyid Kazim and spoke to him. "Three days ago I was shepherding
my flock in an adjoining pasture," he told Siyyid Kazim. "All of
a sudden sleep overtook me. The Prophet appeared to me in my
sleep. He said to me: `Give ear to my words, O shepherd! Stay
within the precincts of this prayer-house. In three days a man,
Siyyid Kazim by name, will arrive accompanied by his friends. Tell
him from Me: "Rejoice, for the hour of your departure is at hand.
In Karbila, three days after your return there, you will wing your
flight to Me. Soon after shall He who is the Truth be made
manifest. Then shall the world be illumined by the light of His
face."'" * The year 1260 in the calendar of Islam is the year 1844
of the Christian calendar. 1270 is equivalent to 1853.
The companions of Siyyid Kazim were saddened by the thought of his
approaching death. He comforted them with these words. "Is not
your love for me really for the sake of that true One whose coming
we all await? Would you not wish me to die, that the Promised One
may be revealed?" To his last breath, Siyyid Kazim urged his
followers to persevere in their search. He returned to Karbila,
and on the day he arrived he became ill. Three days later he died,
just as foretold in the shepherd's dream.
THE SEARCH BEGINS Mulla Husayn was in Isfahan at this time upon a
special mission for Siyyid Kazim. He was sent to win the support
of an eminent religious leader. Mulla Husayn was so successful
that the priest changed his views. He became so fond of Mulla
Husayn that he regretted his earlier discourtesy and sent an
attendant to find out where he was residing. The attendant
followed him, and saw Mulla Husayn enter a room devoid of furniture
with but a single mat upon the floor. He watched Mulla Husayn
offer his prayers and lie down on the mat with nothing to cover him
from the cold but his cloak. Then he reported this to his master,
whose admiration for Mulla Husayn increased so greatly that he sent
his attendant back to him with a gift of one hundred tumans. Mulla
Husayn returned the money, saying, "Tell your master that his real
gift to me was the fairness and open-mindedness with which he heard
my message in spite of his exalted rank and my lowliness. Return
this money, for I ask for neither regard nor thanks. We nourish
souls for the sake of God. My prayer for your master is that
earthly leadership may never hinder him from acknowledging and
testifying to the truth."[F1] When Mulla Husayn returned to
Karbila, Siyyid Kazim was dead. Though his own heart was heavy,
Mulla Husayn cheered and
strengthened the disconsolate followers of his beloved leader. He
called them all together to renew their ardor. "What," he asked
them, "were the dearest wishes and the last commands of our
departed leader?" From their reluctant lips Mulla Husayn extracted
the following admissions: (1) That repeatedly and emphatically
Siyyid Kazim had bidden them to quit their homes and scatter far
and wide in search of Him to Whose coming he had so often alluded.
(2) That the Object of their quest was now living amongst them and
that His truth could be discovered only by the seeker who would
persevere to the end. (3) That nothing short of powerful endeavor,
purity of motive, singleness of purpose, and ceaseless search would
ever lead them to Him. "We acknowledge our failure," they told him.
"Then why," Mulla Husayn demanded, "have you chosen to remain in
Karbila? Why is it that you have not dispersed and arisen to carry
out Siyyid Kazim's earnest plea?" To his entreaty they gave weak
and evasive answers. "Our enemies are many and powerful," one
replied. "We must remain in this city and protect the honor of
Siyyid Kazim." "I must stay and care for the children and the
family which Siyyid Kazim has left behind," another explained. They
all, however, agreed to the leadership of Mulla Husayn, saying,
"Such is our confidence in you, that if you claim to be the
Promised One, we shall all readily and unquestioningly submit."
Mulla Husayn was shocked. "God forbid!" he cried, "that I who am
but dust be compared to Him!" Mulla Husayn realized the futility
of his efforts and spoke to them no more. He left them, and made
his own plans to begin his quest for the Beloved of God.[F2] Mulla
Husayn prepared for his search by withdrawing and spending forty
days in retirement and prayer. His retreat was interrupted by the
unexpected arrival of Mulla `Ali and twelve other followers of
Siyyid Kazim. They had been stirred by his words, and had decided
to follow Mulla Husayn's example and begin their search as well.
On several occasions Mulla `Ali approached Mulla Husayn to ask him
where he was going and what his destination would be. Every time
he neared Mulla Husayn, he found him so deeply wrapt in prayer that
he felt it improper to venture a question. Mulla `Ali
decided to retire in a like manner from the society of men and
prepare his own heart for the quest. His companions followed his
example. As soon as the forty days were up, Mulla Husayn left
Karbila. He was resolved never to cease his search until he was
in the presence of the One he sought. The promises of Siyyid Kazim
stirred in his memory. Many were the prophecies which he turned
over and over in his mind. "Verily in the year '60 [1260-1844] His
Cause shall be revealed and His Name shall be noised abroad." "In
His name, the name of the Guardian (`Ali) precedeth that of the
Prophet [Muhammad]." "In 1260 the Tree of Divine guidance shall be
planted." "The ministers and upholders of His Faith shall be of the
people of Persia." It was now the year '60, so Mulla Husayn set out
at once for Persia where he felt his search should begin. An inner
prompting led him to Bushihr on the Persian Gulf. As he walked
through the streets, his heart leapt with excitement for something
told him that this city had once felt the footsteps of his Beloved.
Mulla Husayn said that he could feel the sweet savors of His
holiness in Bushihr. He did not remain in Bushihr because
something suddenly turned him like a compass needle to the north.
He set out at once on foot for the city of Shiraz. When he arrived
at the gate of the city, he directed his brother and his nephew,
who had accompanied him, to go to the prayer-house and await his
return. "Something draws my heart into the city," he said, "but I
shall meet you for evening prayers." A few hours before sunset,
Mulla Husayn's eyes fell upon a young man of radiant countenance.
The youth advanced toward Mulla Husayn and greeted him with a smile
of loving welcome. He embraced Mulla Husayn with tender affection
as though he had been an intimate and lifelong friend. At first
Mulla Husayn thought him to be a follower of Siyyid Kazim, who on
being informed of his approach to Shiraz, had come out to welcome
him. Mulla Husayn recalls that memorable night as follows: "He
extended to me a warm invitation to visit his home, and there
refresh myself after the fatigues of my journey. I asked to
be excused, saying that my two companions were awaiting my return.
"`Commit them to the care of God,' was His reply. `He surely will
protect and watch over them.' "Having spoken these words, He turned
and bade me follow Him. I was deeply stirred by the gentle yet
compelling manner in which that young man spoke to me. His gait,
the charm of His voice, the dignity of His bearing, all seemed to
enhance my first impression. "Soon we were standing at the gate of
a modest house. `Enter therein in peace secure,' were His words
as He crossed the threshold and motioned to me to follow Him. His
invitation, uttered with power and majesty, penetrated my soul.
I thought it a good sign to be addressed in such words, standing
as I did on the threshold of the first house I was to enter in
Shiraz. Might not my visit to this house, I thought to myself,
enable me to draw nearer to the Object of my quest? "A feeling of
unutterable joy invaded my being. During the hour for prayer, I
unburdened my heart: `O my God! I have striven with all my soul,
and until now have failed to find Thy promised Messenger. I
testify that Thy word faileth not, and that Thy promise is sure!'
"It was about an hour after sunset when my youthful Host began to
converse with me. `Whom, after Siyyid Kazim, do you regard as your
leader?' "I answered Him: `At the hour of his death, Siyyid Kazim
exhorted each of us to forsake our homes, to scatter far and wide
in quest of the promised Beloved. I have journeyed to Persia, and
am still engaged in my quest.' "`Has your teacher given you any
detailed indications as to the distinguishing features of the
Promised One?' "I enumerated all the things that Siyyid Kazim had
told us to look for in that Beloved One of God. "My Host paused for
some time, then with a vibrant voice He startled me with the words:
`Behold! All These signs are manifest in Me!' "He then carefully
considered each of the above signs separately, and conclusively
demonstrated that each and all were indeed applicable to His
person. I was greatly surprised and deeply moved. Politely I
observed: `He whose advent we await is a Man of
unsurpassed holiness, and the Cause He is to reveal is a Cause of
tremendous power.' "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 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 Him 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.'" The name of Mulla
Husayn's host was `Ali Muhammad. This young man had spent several
years working as a merchant for his uncle in the city of Bushihr
before coming to live at this time with his uncle in Shiraz. As
Mulla Husayn looked upon the beautiful face of his host what
thoughts must have coursed through his mind, for in his name the
name of the Guardian [`Ali] preceded that of the Prophet
[Muhammad]! He came from the land of Persia. He was announcing
himself now in the year '60 [1844]. Was not all this foretold by
Siyyid Kazim? Mulla Husayn had two standards whereby he hoped to
determine the truth of whoever claimed to be that great Messenger.
The first was a treatise which he had composed himself. It dealt
with the most difficult hidden teachings of Shaykh Ahmad and Siyyid
Kazim. Whoever seemed capable of unravelling its mysteries would
then be put to the test of revealing the commentary on the chapter
of Joseph. Mulla Husayn recalls the suspense of that moment in
these words: "While I was thinking about these things, 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 offer Him my own treatise. `Will you
read this book of mine,' I asked Him, `and look at its pages with
indulgent eyes?' "He opened the book, glanced briefly at certain
passages, closed it, and began to speak to me. Within a few
minutes He had, with vigor and charm, unravelled all its mysteries
and resolved all the problems that had troubled me. He, further,
informed me of certain truths which could not be found in any of
the writings of Siyyid Kazim or Shaykh Ahmad. These teachings,
which I had never heard
before, seemed to be endowed with a refreshing vividness and power.
"`By the righteousness of God!' He exclaimed, `It behoves in this
day, the peoples and nations of both the East and the West to
hasten to this threshold. It behooves them to arise, as earnestly
and spontaneously as you have arisen, and to seek with
determination and constancy their promised Beloved.' "Then He
looked at me, smiled, and said: `Now is the time to reveal the
commentary on the Surih [Chapter] of Joseph.'" It all happened just
as Siyyid Kazim had foretold to Mulla Husayn. "The Beloved in that
hour," he had promised, "will reveal the commentary on the story
of Joseph, unasked!" The Bab took up His pen and with incredible
rapidity revealed the entire first chapter of His commentary on the
chapter of Joseph. In this book, He prophesied His own martyrdom.
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 until
it was finished. The historian Comte de Gobineau writes, "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."[F3] "I sat enraptured by the magic of His
voice and the sweeping force of His revelation," Mulla Husayn said.
"At last I reluctantly arose from my seat and begged leave to
depart. He smilingly bade me to 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. It was on the eve of May
23, 1844. "This night," the Bab told Mulla Husayn, "this very hour
will, in days to come, be celebrated as one of the greatest and
most significant of all festivals."[F4] Jesus first spoke of His
Mission to simple fishermen. Now the Promised One of this age had
given the first declaration of His Mission to this humble Persian
student, Mulla Husayn. Never before in the history of a religion
have the exact words of such an unforgettable meeting been
preserved by an eye-witness. Mulla
Husayn, however, has left in everlasting language a memory of that
first announcement by `Ali Muhammad, the Bab. He could never
forget the inner peace and serenity which he had felt in the
life-creating presence of the Bab. He spoke often to his
companions of that wondrous night. "I sat spellbound by His
utterance," he said. "All the delights [of Paradise] 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,...but only
the cry, Peace! Peace!'" Sleep had departed from Mulla Husayn as
he listened to the music of his Beloved's voice. "`O thou who are
the first to believe in Me. Verily, I am the Bab, the Gate of
God.'" To Mulla Husayn, the first to believe in Him, the Bab gave
the title: the Babu'l-Bab, the gate of the Gate. In that hour, the
Bab proclaimed that He was the One foretold in all the holy Books
of the past. He said that He had come to usher in a new era, a
fresh springtime in the hearts of men. His name, the Bab, meant
the door or gate. His teaching, He said, was to open the door or
the gate to a new age of unity in which men would recognize one God
and worship in one religion--the same religion which all of God's
prophets had taught from the beginning of time. It would be an age
in which all men would live as brothers. The Bab cautioned Mulla
Husayn not to tell either his companions or any other soul what he
had seen and heard. In the beginning, eighteen souls must
spontaneously and of their own accord seek and accept Him and
recognize the truth of His Revelation. When their number was
complete, He would send them forth to teach the Word of God. Mulla
Husayn's long search was at an end. His own words can best
describe the depth of that experience. "I was blinded by the
dazzling splendor of this new Revelation," he said, "and
overwhelmed by its crushing force. Predominant among all my
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, the knowledge of His
Revelation had galvanized my being. I felt possessed of such
courage and power that were the world, all its people and its
rulers, 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. The words of the
Bab were ringing their melody of joy in my heart: `Render thanks
unto God for having graciously assisted you to attain your heart's
THE PROMISE IS FULFILLED Mulla Husayn was faithful to the Bab's
instructions. He told no one of his discovery, even though a large
number of the followers of Siyyid Kazim soon gathered about him.
They recognized a new spirit in Mulla Husayn's speech, and
marvelled at it, unaware that the source of his knowledge and power
flowed from the Bab Whose coming all of them were so eagerly
awaiting. "During those days," Mulla Husayn states, "I was summoned
to visit the Bab on several occasions. Every time I visited Him,
I spent the entire night in His presence. Wakeful until dawn, I
sat at His feet fascinated by the charm of His utterance, and
oblivious of the world and its cares. How rapidly those precious
hours flew by! At each daybreak I would reluctantly withdraw 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 those
nightly visits, the Bab addressed me in these words: `Tomorrow
thirteen of your companions will arrive. To each of them extend
the utmost loving kindness. 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.'" Some of these companions, the Bab
told Mulla Husayn, would become His chosen disciples. Others would
be neither warm nor
cold, while still others would remain undeclared until that future
day when He, for Whom the Bab Himself was but the Herald, appeared.
The next morning, Mulla `Ali, Mulla Husayn's close friend arrived
in Shiraz, accompanied by twelve companions. He at once noted the
great change which had taken place in Mulla Husayn. He was struck
by the tranquil radiance of his face and suspected the truth. "How
is it," Mulla `Ali asked, "that we see you teaching the people with
the utmost tranquility and no longer searching? Agitation and
expectancy have vanished from your face. I beg of you, bestow upon
me a portion of what you have found, for only that can quench my
thirst and ease the pain of longing in my heart." Mulla Husayn
refused. "Do not entreat me to grant this favor," he begged Mulla
`Ali. "Let your trust be in God, for He will surely guide your
steps." So great was the joy that shone from Mulla Husayn's face,
that Mulla `Ali could no longer bear to be deprived of that secret.
By prayer and fasting he sought desperately to remove the veil that
separated him from the Beloved. On the third night of his
retirement, while wrapt in deep prayer, Mulla `Ali had a vision.
There appeared before his eyes a light, and lo! it moved off
before him. Allured by its matchless beauty, he followed it until
at last it led him to a certain door. He knew immediately that the
Treasure was within. He awoke in a state of great rapture.
Although it was the middle of the night, he rushed to Mulla Husayn.
His face was aglow with happiness. He threw himself into the arms
of his friend. Mulla Husayn realized at once that Mulla `Ali at
last knew the truth. He knew where to find his Beloved. He
embraced Mulla `Ali lovingly, and said: "Praise be to God Who hath
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 they were met by the Bab's much loved Ethiopian
servant, who immediately recognized them. He greeted them with
these words: "Before 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 told me,
`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 differed greatly from the first meeting of Mulla
Husayn with the Bab. At the previous meeting the Bab had offered
proofs of His Mission for Mulla Husayn to weigh and study. At this
meeting, all such matters had been put aside and a spirit of
intense love and ardent fellowship prevailed. The very chamber,
said Mulla `Ali, seemed to have been vitalized by His utterance.
Everything in the room seemed to be vibrating with this testimony:
"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 of immortality, and blessed is he who drinks therefrom!"[F2]
One by one, seventeen separate souls searched for the Bab, met
Him, and accepted His teachings. Among these disciples, there was
one woman. She was called Tahirih, the Pure. She accepted the Bab
without ever attaining to His presence. She saw Him in the world
of vision, and became a staunch believer, a courageous teacher, and
finally a martyr. One night while conversing with Mulla Husayn, the
Bab said to him, "Seventeen have thus far enlisted under the
standard of the Faith of God ... Tomorrow night the remaining
Letter will arrive and will complete the number of My chosen
disciples." The next evening as the Bab, followed by Mulla Husayn,
was returning to His home, a youth appeared. He was travel-stained
and weary from his long journey. His name was Quddus. He
approached Mulla Husayn, embraced him, and asked him if he had yet
attained to his heart's desire. Mulla Husayn tried to calm him.
He advised him to rest for a while, saying that he would speak to
him later. The youth, however, refused to rest. He looked past
Mulla Husayn at the retreating figure of the Bab. Then turning to
Mulla Husayn, he said: "Why do you seek to hide Him from me. I can
recognize Him by His gait. I testify that none beside Him, whether
in the East or the West, can claim to be the Truth. None other can
manifest the power and majesty that radiate from His Holy person."
Mulla Husayn marveled at these words. He pleaded with him to
restrain his feelings, promising that the truth would be unveiled
to him soon. Leaving him, Mulla Husayn hastened to join the Bab.
He told Him of his conversation with the young man. "Marvel not at
this strange behavior," the Bab said, "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 instantly recalled the prophesy given
for the time of the end: "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 One and shall seek
from Him the secret that will resolve their problems and remove
their perplexities."[F3] Now when this eighteenth disciple, known
as Quddus, had accepted Him, the Bab addressed them, saying: "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 has come, prepare the way for Him, O people of the
world!"[F4] The Bab gave a special message of assurance to Mulla
`Ali. "Your faith must be immovable as the rock, must weather
every storm and survive every calamity. Suffer not the
denunciations of the foolish to turn you from your purpose. 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 teach the Faith of the Bab. True to the Bab's
forewarnings, Mulla `Ali was overtaken and beaten just beyond the
gate of Shiraz. He was the first to suffer for the new Faith. He
was also the first to bring news of the Bab to Tahirih. In Najaf
he was arrested for fearlessly proclaiming the Faith. He was bound
with chains and taken to Baghdad under sentence of death. He was
cast into prison, tried again, and, still in chains, ordered to
Constantinople. Some say he died enroute, some say he was later
martyred. No one knows what eventually befell this hero of
God.[F5] The Bab summoned all of the others to His presence and to
each one He gave a special command and a special task. He spoke
to all of them these parting words: "O My beloved friends! You are
the bearers of the name of God in this Day ... 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.
... "Ponder the words of Jesus addressed to His disciples as He
sent them forth to propagate the Cause of God: `Ye are even as the
fire which in the darkness of the night has been kindled upon the
mountain-top. Such must be the purity of your character and the
degree of your renunciation, that the people of the earth may
through you recognize and be drawn closer to the heavenly Father
Who is the source of purity and grace.'" In His parting message to
His disciples the Bab once again called attention to the One Who
was to come after Him, and for Whom He was but the Herald. He sent
each one of them back to his own province to teach. "I am preparing
you for the advent of a mighty Day," He told them. "Exert your
utmost endeavor that, in the world to come, I Who am now
instructing you, may, before the mercy-seat of God, rejoice in your
deeds and glory in your achievements. 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. ... "Arise in His name, put your
trust wholly in Him, and be assured of ultimate victory." With such
words as these, the Bab quickened the faith of His disciples and
launched them upon their mission.[F6]
THE PILGRIMAGE AND THE PROCLAMATION One morning shortly after this,
at the hour of dawn, most of the disciples of the Bab left Shiraz
to carry out the teaching tasks He had given them. The first
disciple, Mulla Husayn, and the last, Quddus, remained with Him.
To these two the Bab disclosed His intention to go to Mecca. Just
as Jesus had journeyed to Jerusalem, the stronghold of the Jews,
to proclaim His Mission, so did the Bab make plans to go to Mecca,
the heart of the Moslem world. As the hour of His departure
arrived, He called Mulla Husayn to Him. He Himself would visit
Mecca and Medina, He told him, and there fulfill the Mission with
which God had entrusted Him. He had chosen Quddus to go with Him
and left Mulla Husayn behind to face the onslaught of a fierce and
relentless enemy. He assured him, however, that until he had
completely finished his work, no power on earth could harm him. "He
that loves you loves God ... whoso befriends you, him will God
befriend; and whoso rejects you, him will God reject. His Almighty
arms will surround you and guide your steps."[F1] The Bab,
accompanied by Quddus, departed for Bushihr on the Persian Gulf
where they embarked upon a sailing vessel. After two
months of sailing on stormy seas, they landed on the coast of
Arabia. A fellow passenger during this voyage has recorded the
following: "From the day we embarked at Bushihr until we landed,
whenever I saw the Bab or Quddus, they were invariably together
absorbed in their work. The Bab was dictating and Quddus was
taking down whatever fell from His lips." Neither the storms that
raged about them, nor the sickness which seized the other
passengers, could disturb their serenity or interfere with their
work.[F2] The Bab entered the city of Mecca seated upon a camel,
as Christ had entered Jerusalem seated upon an ass. Quddus refused
to ride beside Him on the journey inland. He preferred, he said,
to accompany Him on foot, holding the bridle of the camel. Each
night from sunset until dawn, Quddus would stand watch over His
Beloved. One day during His visit in Mecca, the Bab approached a
man named Muhit. The Bab recognized him as a distinguished
follower of Shaykh Ahmad. He knew that if Muhit were faithful to
his master's instructions, he would now be energetically searching
for the Promised One. The Bab spoke to him. "Oh Muhit!" He said,
"Behold, we are both now standing within the most sacred Shrine.
... He Whose spirit dwells in this place can cause Truth to be
known from falsehood. ... Verily, I declare, none beside 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. ... 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." This sudden,
unexpected and direct challenge unnerved Muhit. He was anxious to
depart. "I am expected at once in Medina," he said. He did not
look at the Bab as he spoke. Unable to remain in His presence, he
fled in terror from His face and hurried from the Shrine.[F3] The
Bab found no one would listen. They were indifferent,
antagonistic, or afraid. He made one last effort to awaken the
people in that holy city of the Muslims. He wrote a letter to the
Sherif of Mecca, hoping that through him He might reach the hearts
of the people. In that letter, he set forth in clear and
unmistakable terms the distinguishing features of His Mission and
called upon the Sherif to arise and embrace His Cause. The Sherif
did not bother to read the letter or to share it with his
friends who were all too much absorbed in their own affairs to
respond to the call of the Bab. Later, the Sherif admitted his
indifference. "In the year 1844," he said, "I recall that a young
man came to see me. He gave me a book, but I was too occupied to
read it at that time. A few days later I met him again. He asked
me if I had any reply to make to his message. Pressure of work had
prevented me from reading the contents of that book, so I told him
that I had no answer to give him."[F4] The Bab was treated as
Christ had been treated, with ridicule and contempt. It was the
same as it had been in those days when Jesus accused the leaders
of His day, saying: "Woe unto you! ... ye entered not in
yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered."[F5] The
people did not understand Him, whether He spoke plain truths or in
symbols. The historian Nicolas writes that the Bab, throughout
His Mission, 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 [the Bab]
appeared were, and still are, alas, more fanatical than the Jews
were in the time of Jesus. ... Therefore, if Christ, in spite of
the relative calm of the surroundings in which He preached thought
it necessary to employ the parable, the Bab was obliged to 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 preordained for it from all eternity."[F6] Before
leaving the cities of Mecca and Medina, the Bab beseeched God to
hasten the hour of His martyrdom so that by this sacrifice men
might know the truth. "The drops of this consecrated blood," He
said, "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 out of this land, for I am hastening to fulfill My
THE PERSECUTION BEGINS The Bab returned with Quddus to Bushihr.
A short time later He sent him on to Shiraz to bring greetings and
instructions to His family and to the believers there. The Bab
also sent some of His writings to be shared with them. He bade
Quddus farewell with the greatest kindness. "The days of your
companionship with Me," He told him, "are drawing to a close. ...
In this world of dust, no more than a few fleeting months of
association with Me have been allotted to you. ... "The hand of
destiny ere long will plunge you into an ocean of tribulation. ...
In the streets of Shiraz, indignities will be heaped upon you, and
the severest injuries will afflict your body. You will survive ...
and will attain the presence of Him who is the object of our
adoration ... [that great Figure Who is yet to come]."[F1] In a
short time, Quddus arrived in Shiraz. He began to speak everywhere
of the wondrous days he had spent with the Bab. He aroused the
whole city with his inspired words. He became very friendly with
an old man named Mulla Sadiq, and gave him a copy of the Bab's
writings. In this writing the Bab once again intimated that, just
as Shaykh Ahmad and Siyyid Kazim had promised, there would be two
Messengers of God following close upon each other in this day.
He was but the Herald and the servant of the great One yet to come.
The enthusiasm which greeted the teaching of Quddus and Mulla Sadiq
alarmed the city. Thousands of protests poured into the office of
the governor, Husayn Khan. Quddus claims that the Bab is the author
of a new Revelation, the governor was told. He has written a book
which is divinely inspired. Now Mulla Sadiq has embraced this
Faith, and is fearlessly summoning our people to accept as well.
The governor ordered the arrest of both Quddus and Mulla Sadiq.
They were delivered in irons to him. The commentary which the Bab
had written for Mulla Husayn on the night He had announced His
Mission was turned over to the governor. It had been seized from
Mulla Sadiq. Husayn Khan ignored Quddus because of his extreme
youth. He directed his questions to Mulla Sadiq who was older.
Angrily he tapped the commentary of the Bab, which he held in his
hand, showing his displeasure with it. "Tell me," he asked Mulla
Sadiq, "if you are aware of the opening words of this book. Do you
know that the Bab addresses the rulers and kings of the earth in
harsh terms? He says: `Divest yourselves of sovereignty, for He
who is the King in truth has been made manifest. The Kingdom is
God's!'" The governor's wrath increased. "Does this mean that my
sovereign, the Shah, whom I represent as Chief Magistrate in this
region, must lay down his crown because of the ravings of this
unlettered youth? Does it also mean that I, the governor, must
relinquish my position?" Mulla Sadiq replied unhesitatingly,
saying, that if the words spoken by the Bab were true and that He
were indeed a Messenger of God, then everything else that was
happening in the world was of little importance. Kingdoms and ages
would pass into dust, but the Word of God would endure. Husayn Khan
was displeased with the answer. He cursed Mulla Sadiq and Quddus.
He ordered his attendants to strip Mulla Sadiq of his garments and
to scourge him with a thousand lashes. He then commanded that the
beards of both men should be burned, their noses pierced, and that
a cord should be passed through this incision.
"Let them be led through the streets of the city by this halter,"
he commanded. "It will be an object lesson to the people of
Shiraz. It will teach everyone who is thinking of embracing this
Faith just what the punishment for such action will be!" Mulla
Sadiq was so advanced in age that he knew that he could not
possibly survive this torture. Yet he was calm and self-possessed.
He raised his eyes to heaven and offered a last prayer. "O Lord,
our God! We have heard the voice of the One that called. He
called us to His Faith, saying: `Believe ye on the Lord your God!'
We have believed, O God. Forgive us then for our sins, and cause
us to die with righteousness." An eye-witness to the torture of
Mulla Sadiq has given the following testimony: "I was present when
Mulla Sadiq was being scourged. I watched them stroke the lash to
his bleeding shoulders until he became exhausted. No one watching
believed he could outlasted fifty such savage strokes without
dying. He was a very old man. We marveled at his courage. "Yet
when the number of strokes already exceeded nine hundred, his face
still retained its original serenity and calm. "When he was later
being expelled from the city, I approached him with great
admiration and asked him how he had been able to withstand such
punishment. "He 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 actually being
applied to my own body. A feeling of joy seized me. I was trying
to repress my feelings and restrain my laughter.'" Mulla Sadiq
looked at this eye-witness, as though trying to convey to him an
important truth which he felt all men should know: that suffering,
pain and persecution are only unbearable to those who had no
purpose in life, no hope for the future; if they were withstood for
the love of God, then the pain became pleasure in this world, and
the sufferings became a means of being closer to God in the next.
"I can now realize," he told him, "how the Almighty is able, in the
twinkling of an eye, to turn pain into ease and sorrow into
gladness. Immensely exalted is His power above the weak imagining
of His mortal creatures."
Both Mulla Sadiq and Quddus withstood their torture with great
fortitude. For Quddus, this was but the beginning of greater
suffering to come. Exhausted and bleeding, they were driven out
of Shiraz. They were warned at the city gates that if they ever
returned, they would both be crucified. Mulla Sadiq and Quddus were
among the first followers of the Bab to suffer persecution on
Persian soil.[F2]
THE GENTLE ARREST Husayn Khan's anger was not satisfied by the
punishment he had inflicted upon Mulla Sadiq and Quddus. He now
directed his attack upon the Bab Himself. He sent a mounted escort
to Bushihr, and ordered them to arrest the Bab and to bring Him
back in chains to Shiraz. This spectacle, he felt, would dampen
the enthusiasm of the people for His Cause. The guards set out at
once to make the arrest. As they were marching across the
wilderness enroute to Bushihr, they met a horseman. It was the
Bab, Who had come to meet them. The leader of the escort has
himself related the incident: "As we approached him, he saluted us
and asked our destination. I said that the governor, Husayn Khan,
had commanded us to go to Bushihr to make an inquiry. "He smilingly
observed, `The governor has sent you to arrest Me. Here I am. Do
with me as you please.' "I was startled by his remark and his
straightforwardness. I could not understand his readiness to
subject himself to Husayn Khan, thus risking his safety and life."
The commander of the escort was very taken with the Bab. He did
not wish him to fall into the hands of the governor. He pretended
that he did not recognize the Bab, and ordered his men to move on.
"I tried to ignore him and prepared to leave," the commander
reported, "but he approached me again. `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.'" The commander pleaded with the Bab, telling Him to flee
from Husayn Khan. He told Him of the suffering and torture which
the governor had caused Mulla Sadiq and Quddus. "He is ruthless,"
the commander said. "I do not wish to be his instrument for
persecuting you, an innocent person. Escape to Mashad." "Deliver
Me into the hands of your master," the Bab replied. "Be not
afraid, for no one will blame you. Until My last hour is at hand,
none dare assail Me, none can frustrate the plan of the Almighty.
And when My hour is come, how great will be My joy to quaff the cup
of martyrdom in His name."[F1] The commander bowed his head in
consent and carried out the Bab's wishes. He ordered his escort
to permit the Bab to ride on ahead of them as though they were a
guard of honor rather than a party of arrest. They continued in
this fashion until they reached Shiraz. People turned around in the
street to watch them and to marvel at this spectacle. The escort,
which had been commanded to bring the Bab back in chains, had
returned Him instead with every sign of the respect due to royalty.
Husayn Khan was furious. He rebuked the Bab publicly. In abusive
language, he denounced His conduct. "Do you realize what mischief
you have caused?" he asked insolently. "Are you not the man who
claims to be the author of a new revelation?" The Bab's gentle
manners and courtesy only added to the governor's anger. The
historian Nicolas wrote: "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." "...I have taught the believer in my religion," He says
Himself, "never to rejoice over the misfortune of anyone."[F2]
Lovingly, but firmly the Bab reminded Husayn Khan that as governor
of the Province of Fars his duty was to determine the
truth about the affairs in his region and not to make unjust
decisions without first investigating personally. These words made
the governor's temper flame. He repaid the Bab's courtesy by
turning to his attendant and commanding him to strike the Bab in
the face. The blow was so violent that it dislodged the Bab's
headdress. The governor ordered the Bab to remain confined within
the home of His uncle, Haji Mirza Siyyid `Ali, until he had decided
what to do with Him. He instructed the uncle to be prepared to
surrender the Bab to the governor's office for punishment at a
moment's notice. For a while, the Bab led a life of comparative
peace. During this period His followers met Him in secret in the
home of His uncle. One such visitor was the well-known scholar and
priest `Abdu'l-Karim. `Abdu'l-Karim was from the village of Qazvin.
He was a merchant, but, so great was his longing to know about God,
that he gave up his business and devoted his life to study.
Because of his great thirst for knowledge, he soon eclipsed his
fellow students. He was elevated to the station of a teacher. He
was told that he need no longer attend the classes, for he now knew
as much as the wisest doctor of religion. Therefore, he,
`Abdu'l-Karim, could now teach others. This troubled
`Abdu'l-Karim's heart very greatly, for he knew that in truth he
knew nothing. If he were considered to be among the wisest of all,
who was there on earth who knew anything about Almighty God at all?
`Abdu'l-Karim refused to teach others for he felt himself unworthy.
Night after night he would withdraw to his room and implore God for
guidance. Of one of those nights, `Abdu'l-Karim himself has
related: "I would remain absorbed in my thoughts each night until
dawn. I neither ate nor slept. At times I would commune with God.
`Thou seest me, O my Lord, and beholdest my plight. I am deeply
troubled when I see the divisions that have torn Thy religion.
What is the truth? Wilt Thou not guide me and relieve my doubts?
Whither am I to turn for consolation and guidance?' "I wept so
bitterly that I seemed to have lost consciousness. There suddenly
came to me the vision of a great gathering of people. A noble
figure was speaking to them: `Whoso maketh efforts for us,'
he said, `in our ways will we guide them.' I was fascinated by his
face. I arose and advanced toward him and was about to throw
myself at his feet when the vision vanished. My heart was flooded
with light. My joy was indescribable." `Abdu'l-Karim set out at
once for Karbila. He saw Siyyid Kazim. He was standing addressing
a crowd just as `Abdu'l-Karim had seen him in his dream. He was
speaking those very same words. `Abdu'l-Karim spent an entire
winter in close companionship with Siyyid Kazim, who spoke
constantly of the coming Messenger. "The Promised One lives in the
midst of this people," he declared. "The appointed time for His
appearance is fast approaching. Purify yourselves that you may
recognize His beauty. After my departure, arise and seek Him. Do
not rest for a moment until you find Him." On the day when
`Abdu'l-Karim parted from Siyyid Kazim, he told him: "Rest assured,
O `Abdu'l-Karim, that you are one of those who, in the day of His
appearance, will arise for the triumph of His Cause. You will, I
hope, remember me on that blessed day." `Abdu'l-Karim returned to
his home in Qazvin to await that wonderful day. A few years passed
with no sign of the Promised One's coming, but `Abdu'l-Karim's
heart was assured. He returned to his business as a merchant, but
each night he would come home and withdraw to the quiet of his
room. He would beseech God with all his heart, saying, "Thou hast,
by the mouth of an inspired servant of Thine, promised that I shall
attain unto the presence of Thy Messenger and hear Thy Word. How
long wilt Thou withhold me from my promise?" Each night he would
renew this prayer and would continue in his supplications until the
break of day. "One night I was again so wrapt in prayer that I
seemed to have fallen into a trance," he related. "There appeared
before me a bird, white as snow, which hovered above my head and
lighted upon the twig of a tree beside me. In accents of
indescribable sweetness, the bird spoke these words: `Are you
seeking the Promised One, O `Abdu'l-Karim? Lo, the year '60.'
Immediately the bird flew away and vanished. "The mystery of those
words greatly agitated me. The memory of that voice lingered in
my memory both sleeping and waking. When in the year '60 I heard
of a wondrous personage in Shiraz, I hastened to that city.
"Eventually I attained the presence of the Bab. He turned to me
and in the same sweet melodious voice of the white bird, He asked
me: `Are you seeking the Manifestation [Promised One]?'
`Abdu'l-Karim burst into tears and threw himself at the feet of the
Bab in a state of profound ecstasy, much to the astonishment of his
companions. 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.[F3] In spite of Husayn Khan's close supervision, many such
great figures came to visit the Bab. Stories of conversions
similar to that of `Abdu'l-Karim caused great excitement in Shiraz.
Both the famous and the lowly were willing to take whatever risk
was necessary to gain His presence. People met in groups on the
street to discuss Him, some blaming, some approving. Husayn Khan
was infuriated at his helplessness and inability to stem the flow
of the Bab's arising popularity.
the Bab in Shiraz. Immediately strong voices were raised against
him. "Mulla Husayn has returned to Shiraz," they cried to the
authorities. "Now, with his chief, the Bab, he is scheming some
fierce onslaught against our time honored institutions!" So grave
and menacing was the situation, that the Bab instructed Mulla
Husayn to return to his home province of Khurasan. He also
dismissed all the rest of His companions except `Abdu'l-Karim, whom
He kept with Him to help transcribe His writings. His disciples
spread throughout the length and breadth of the land fearlessly
proclaiming the regenerating power of the newborn Revelation. Soon
the fame of the Bab spread far beyond the circle of His disciples.
It reached the authorities. They became alarmed at the enthusiasm
with which the people everywhere accepted His message. An
historical account states that the followers of the Bab were
"ardent, brave, carried away, ready for anything. ... 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."[F1] This was no longer a local matter, the
authorities argued. The same flood of persecution which surrounded
Jesus, now gradually engulfed the Bab. The combined opposition of
the church and state unleashed what historians have called the most
appalling wave of hatred imaginable. Soon the sands of Persia were
stained by a freely given, red river of human martyrdom. However,
the Bab spoke such searching truths on these occasions that day by
day the crowds that followed Him greatly increased in number. His
purity of conduct at an age when passions are intense impressed the
people who met Him. He was possessed of extraordinary eloquence
and daring. An historian of those times, Comte de Gobineau,
writes: "From his first public appearances, they sent their most
able Mullas [religious leaders] to argue with him and confuse him.
... instead of benefiting the clergy, they contributed quite a
little to spread and exalt, at their own expense, the renown of
this enthusiastic teacher."[F2] The Bab exposed, unsparingly, their
vices and their corruption. Like Jesus, He proved their
infidelity to their own belief. He shamed them in their lives.
He defeated them with their own Holy Book in His hand. Gobineau
says further that the Bab was "of extreme simplicity of manner, of
a fascinating gentleness; those gifts were further heightened by
his great youth and his marvelous charm. He drew about himself a
number of persons who were deeply edified. He did not open his
lips (we are assured by those who knew him) without stirring the
hearts to their very depths."[F3] Sir Francis Younghusband in his
book, The Gleam, writes of His "wonderful charm of appearance. Men
were impressed by his knowledge and by his penetrating eloquence
of speech. ... As soon as he ascended the pulpit there was
silence."[F4] Another historical document states: "By the
uprightness of his life the young Siyyid [the Bab] served as an
example to those about him. He was willingly listened to ... when
he condemned the abuses 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."[F5] These impressions of the Bab
did not come from His followers and sympathizers alone. Comte de
Gobineau states in his history of the times that "even the orthodox
Muhammadans who were present [at these meetings when the Bab spoke]
have retained an indelible memory of them and never recall them
without a sort of terror. They agreed unanimously that [His]
eloquence ... was of an incomparable kind, such that, without
having been an eye-witness, one could not possibly imagine."[F6]
Soon all of Persia was stirring with stories about the Bab. The
people eagerly hungered for more news. A wave of enthusiasm swept
over the country. Leading figures of both State and Church either
attended these meetings in person or delegated their most able
representatives to inquire into the truth of the matter. The
Journal Asiatic states that the Faith of the Bab had many followers
"in all classes of society, and many among them were of important
standing; great lords, members of the clergy, military men and
merchants had all accepted this doctrine."[F7] Those in authority
began to ask searching questions. Finally the Crown itself became
interested. Muhammad Shah, the king, decided to investigate. He
felt that he should know if the reports about this remarkable young
man were true. So he summoned his Prime Minister. "Who is there,"
he asked, "that can be trusted to make this investigation?" After
much consultation, the king and the Prime Minister chose someone
in whom they both had the greatest faith. He was surnamed Vahid.
Vahid was known to be the most learned, eloquent, and influential
of all the king's people. If anyone could silence the Bab, it
would be he. The great leaders of Persia all testified to his
knowledge and wisdom. His father was one of the most celebrated
religious doctors of that age, and now Vahid had followed in his
father's footsteps and even eclipsed him. His fame and popularity
were known throughout the land. He was admitted to be outstanding
among all the leading figures of Persia. Whenever he was present
at a meeting, he was invariably the chief speaker. Furthermore,
Vahid, because of his wisdom, was frequently consulted by the
government in times of trouble.[F9]
He was living at that time in Tihran as an honored guest of the
king, therefore they thought at once of Vahid when he sought an
honest person to send on this important mission. The king was very
disturbed. He wished to know what political significance the rise
of this new Faith might have, so he gave Vahid careful
instructions. "Go at once to Shiraz. Interview the Bab. Find out
if these tales of wonder we hear are true. Then report to us
personally and detail what you discover." The Prime Minister was
not above planting a seed in Vahid's mind before he left. "If you
can discredit and unmask him, it will add greatly to your own
stature," he told him. Vahid mounted the horse which had been given
to him by the king and left immediately for Shiraz. On the way,
he decided upon the questions which he would ask the Bab. These
questions Vahid felt would test the Bab's knowledge to the utmost,
and upon the answers which He gave would rest, in Vahid's opinion,
the truth or falsehood of His claim to be a Messenger of God. When
Vahid arrived in Shiraz, he met an intimate friend whose name was
`Azim. "You have met the Bab, " Vahid said to his friend. "What
do you think of him? Are you satisfied with him? Is he a
charlatan?" "Meet him yourself," `Azim replied. "Make your own
decision. But, as a friend, I would advise you to be careful. You
will regret any discourtesy you show to him." Vahid arranged to
meet the Bab, Who welcomed him with affection. For nearly two
hours Vahid courteously directed question after question at the
Bab. Her pointed out the most obscure passages of Holy Scripture.
He dwelt upon the mysterious prophesies and traditions which must
be fulfilled at the time of the coming of the Promised One. He
spoke at great length of certain difficult and vague metaphysical
themes. The Bab listened patiently to Vahid's learned and detailed
references, quietly noting his questions. Vahid suddenly felt
ashamed of this long and showy display of his own learning. Later
he reported: "Quietly the Bab began to speak. He gave brief but
persuasive answers to each of my questions. The conciseness and
clarity of his replies excited my admiration and wonder. My
feeling of superiority vanished. I was embarrassed by my own
ness and pride. I felt so abased that I hurriedly asked permission
to retire. I told him: `If it please God, I shall in my next
interview submit the rest of my questions and conclude my
inquiry.'" Vahid withdrew. As soon as he left the Bab he hastened
to the home of his friend `Azim and told him what had happened
during the first interview to cause his own deep humiliation. Vahid
was confident that his inquiry into the Faith of the Bab would end
with the second interview. He had his questions clearly in mind.
They were direct and to the point this time. He would be polite,
as `Azim suggested, but firm. However, when he entered the Bab's
presence and began to speak with Him, Vahid found himself
discussing things which had nothing whatsoever to do with his
inquiry. All the questions which he had intended to submit to the
Bab had disappeared from his memory. Then later, to his great
surprise, he found that the Bab was answering those forgotten
questions. He spoke with that same brevity and lucidity which had
so excited his admiration before. "I seemed to have been in a daze
during the first part of that interview," he later observed.
"Then, when I realized what the Bab was saying, that he was
answering my unasked questions, I awoke with a start. I was
thrilled. Yet, in spite of my attention to him, a voice kept
whispering to me: `Might not this all be a mere accidental
coincidence?' I became so agitated that I could not collect my
thoughts. I refused to remain. A second time I begged leave to
retire." Vahid returned to `Azim again and told him what had
happened. `Azim spoke frankly to this most learned of all
Persians. "Would that schools had been utterly abolished," he said,
"and that neither of us had ever entered one, if through our
little-mindedness and conceit this acquired knowledge is
withholding us from the redeeming Grace of God, and is causing pain
to Him Who is the bearer of His Message." Vahid admitted that pride
in his own knowledge had been like a curtain which separated him
from the Bab. `Azim entreated him, "This time go with humility and
detachment from all that you have learned in the past. Perhaps he
will relieve your doubt and perplexity." This third and final
interview has been reported in detail by
Vahid not only for the king and Prime Minister, but also for
posterity. Vahid states: "I resolved that in my third interview,
I would not ask aloud for proof of his mission. Instead, in my
innermost heart, I would request the Bab to write a commentary upon
a special chapter of Holy Scripture which had always interested me.
"`If he does this,' I told myself, `and if its style and truth
distinguish it from the standards current amongst men, then I shall
acknowledge his truth. I shall even embrace his cause. However,
if he fails, I shall denounce him.' "As soon as I was ushered into
the Bab's presence, a sense of fear, for which I could not account,
seized me. My limbs quivered as I beheld his face. On repeated
occasions I had been in the presence of the king without feeling
the slightest trace of timidity, but I was now so awed and shaken,
that I could not remain standing on my feet. "The Bab beheld my
plight. He arose to his feet and came to me. He took my hand and
seated me beside him. "`Seek from Me' he said. `Whatever is your
heart's desire.' `I will readily reveal it to you.' "I was
helpless. I felt powerless to speak. He looked at me, smiled, and
said, `Were I to reveal unto you the commentary on the Surih of
Kawthar, would you acknowledge that My words are born of the Spirit
of God? Would you recognize that My utterance can in no wise be
associated with sorcery or magic?' "Tears came to my eyes as I
heard him speak these words. All I was able to say were the words:
`O our Lord, with ourselves we have dealt unjustly: if Thou forgive
us not and have not pity upon us, we shall surely be of those who
perish.'" Then the Bab called for his pen-case and paper. He began
to reveal the commentary which Vahid's inmost heart had requested.
No less than two thousand verses were revealed by the Bab on that
occasion. The bewildering rapidity with which they were written
was even less remarkable than their matchless beauty and profound
meaning.[F10] Even more startling to Vahid was the fact that this
explanation which the Bab gave was the one which he himself had
discovered after long meditation. He believed himself to be the
only one who had reached this hidden meaning, and he had never made
it known to anyone.[F11]
Vahid's report on this interview communicates his sense of wonder:
"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, the soft and gentle murmur
of His voice, the stupendous force of His style, all amazed and
bewildered me. He continued in this manner until the approach of
sunset, not pausing until the entire commentary was completed.
Then he laid down His pen and asked for tea to be brought. 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 hidden in that holy chapter. I was so entranced
by its beauty that three times I was on the verge of fainting. The
Bab revived my failing strength by sprinkling rose-water upon my
face. When He had completed His recital, the Bab arose to depart."
With `Abdu'l-Karim, Vahid devoted three days and three nights to
transcribing the newly revealed commentary. They verified all the
prophecies and traditions in the text and found them to be entirely
accurate. Vahid summed up his report on his investigation of the
Bab by saying: "Such was the state of certitude to which I had
attained that nothing could shake my confidence in the greatness
of His Cause." Vahid discharged his responsibility to the king,
writing a detailed and personal account of his investigation of the
Bab. Vahid himself did not return to the capital. He began to
summon the people to accept the new Messenger of God. Such was his
enthusiasm and fervor, that other learned doctors decided Vahid
must have suddenly lost his mind. A history of the times states
that Vahid "wrote without fear or care a detailed account of his
observations to the ... chamberlain in order that the latter might
submit it to the notice of the late king, while he [Vahid] 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 [leaders] decided that he must be mad, accounting
it a sure case of bewitchment."[F12] When the report was given to
the king that Vahid had investigated the Bab, found His Cause to
be the truth, and had accepted it himself, the king was greatly
troubled. He spoke confidentially to his Prime Minister.
"We have been told," he said, "that Vahid has become a follower of
the Bab. If this is true, it would be wise for us to cease
belittling the cause of this young man from Shiraz." Immediately
the Prime Minister began to attack Vahid for having fallen under
the spell of a sorcerer, but the king would still not hear any evil
spoken of this great figure. He rebuked the Prime Minister. "Vahid
is a man of noble lineage. He is also a man of great learning and
great virtue." Husayn Khan, at whose home Vahid stayed during his
interviews with the Bab, also attacked him openly. To him also
the king sent an imperial command which read: "It is strictly
forbidden to any one of our subjects to utter any such words as
would detract from the exalted rank of Vahid. He will never
incline his ear to any Cause unless he believes it will be for the
advancement of the best interests of our realm." Thus ended the
story of the king's investigation of the Cause of the Bab. Vahid,
acknowledged as the most outstanding of the leaders of Persia,
selected as his personal messenger by the king himself, embraced
the Faith of the Bab and began to teach it. To Husayn Khan, the
governor, who challenged him, saying, "Have you fallen under the
enchantment of the Bab's magic spell?" Vahid replied: "No one but
God can captivate the heart of Vahid. He alone can change the
hearts of men. Whoever can ensnare my heart is of God and His word
is unquestionably the voice of Truth."[F13] Vahid was but one of
many illustrious figures who were being attracted to the Faith of
the Bab. The Prime Minister and the people of the court tried to
belittle each of these new believers in the eyes of the king. One
day as the Shah was riding on horseback, an old man crossed the
street in front of him. Undisturbed by the presence of the king,
the old man approached him and greeted him cheerfully. The king
was very much taken with the old man's courtesy, dignity and
manner. He replied to the greeting and invited the old man to come
and visit him at the palace. Before they had returned to the royal
residence, those close to the king began whispering to him. "Does
your Majesty not realize that this old man is none other than one
of the famous and newly converted followers of the Bab?
He has proclaimed himself so. He has publicly announced his
undying loyalty to the cause of that youth." The king knew they
were jealous and envious of the attention he had bestowed upon the
old man. He was displeased with them, and at the same time
confused by their constant backbiting. "How strange!" he
exclaimed. "Whoever is distinguished by learning, by uprightness
of conduct, and by courtesy of manners, my own court immediately
denounces as a follower of the Bab? Why? Why is this?"[F14]
Because of the orders of the king, Husayn Khan was no longer able
to express his hatred of Vahid openly; therefore, he began quietly
to undermine Vahid's friendship with the king. In the days to come
this treachery would lead to Vahid's martyrdom in his native town
of Nayriz.
THE AVENGING HAND OF GOD The few months which the Bab spent as a
prisoner in the home of His uncle, Haji Mirza Siyyid `Ali, were to
be His last days of friendship and tranquility. They were now
drawing rapidly to a close. What memories must have stirred in His
mind as He shared those last free hours with His family and
friends. This uncle had shown great love for the Bab throughout
His entire life. In His early childhood, the Bab lost His father,
and was brought up by the same uncle. Anxious to give Him every
advantage, Haji Mirza Siyyid `Ali had placed the Bab under the care
of a tutor while He was still a child. Those days have been
preserved for history through the words of that tutor: "The
sweetness of His speech utterance still lingers in my memory. I
felt impelled to take Him back to His uncle ... to tell him how
unworthy I felt to teach so remarkable a child. "I have brought Him
back to you," the tutor told Haji Mirza Siyyid `Ali. "And commit
Him into your protection. He is not to be treated as a mere child.
I can already discern evidences in Him of a mysterious power." The
Bab's uncle scolded Him and said, "Have you forgotten my
instructions? Return to school and follow the example of your
fellow pupils. Do not speak out, but observe silence and listen
to every word spoken by your teacher." The little boy promised to
obey faithfully, but it was impossible to restrain His spirit. The
tutor said frankly, "Day after day He continued to display such
remarkable signs of wisdom that I felt helpless to teach Him."[F1]
A well-known priest went to the home of the Bab's uncle at this
time. He has given the following account of that visit: "Early one
morning I heard from the prayer-room, which was next to mine, a
tiny sweet voice. It was a little child's voice raised in prayer.
Such prayers, such a voice, such devotion that I was absolutely
enraptured. I waited patiently until dawn and then I saw a boy of
about seven years of age. As soon as I gazed upon the child, I saw
such a beautiful expression that I felt sure that I could never
find another like Him in the whole human race." The priest followed
the boy to the tiny school that He attended. He could not forget
that face. He went to the tutor and inquired about the child.
"What do you think of this boy?" he asked. The tutor spoke with
great feeling. "What can I say about this child! He comes to my
school as a pupil, but in reality, He is the teacher and I am the
pupil. If you could but hear the wonderful things He says in the
classroom. Such deep and important questions He speaks about.
What can I say about this child? To me He seems to be ready to
give out a message to the world." The admiration of the tutor for
this little boy increased the priest's interest and wonder. He
returned to the home of the Bab's uncle and told him what the tutor
had said. The uncle then confided to the priest the dream which
he had had about his nephew when the Bab was five years old. "I
dreamed that a pair of scales hung from heaven," he said. "On one
side of the scales was one of the Prophets. On the other side,
this child was placed by an invisible hand. Then, the side with
the child slowly weighed down the other."[F2] The Bab's uncle was
finally persuaded to take the boy out of school. With the greatest
of love and care the uncle raised the child. When He was seventeen
the Bab left Shiraz for Bushihr where He engaged in business for
His uncle as a merchant. During this time He won the esteem of all
the merchants because of His honesty and kindness.
An eye-witness who met the Bab in those days has said: "I often
heard those who were associated with Him testify to the purity of
His character, to the charm of His manners and to His high
integrity. A trust was confided to His care to dispose of, at a
fixed price. When the Bab sent the payment, it far exceeded the
amount fixed. The owner wrote the Bab asking the reason. The Bab
replied, "What I have sent you is entirely your due. There is not
a single farthing in excess of what is your right. There was a time
when the trust you delivered to me attained this value. Failing to
sell it at that price, I now feel it my duty to offer you the whole
of that sum."[F3] When the Bab was twenty-two, He married and had
one child, a son, whom He named Ahmad. The child died the year
before the Bab proclaimed His Mission. He wrote movingly of the
passing of His son whom He had loved dearly. "O God, my God!" He
said. "Would that a thousand Ishmaels were given to Me, this
Abraham of Thine, that I might have offered them, each and all, as
a loving sacrifice unto Thee. 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. Endow 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 celestial potency, that this infant seed of
God may 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 of the earth may gather."[F4] The
wife of the Bab understood His mission from the very beginning. The
Bab confided to her the secret of His future sufferings. He
unfolded to her eyes the significance of the events that were soon
to take place, and told her not to disclose this secret to anyone.
He counselled her to be patient and resigned to the Will of God.
In order to lighten the burden of her woes in the days to come, He
entrusted her with a special prayer. The reading of this prayer,
He promised, would remove her difficulties. "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."[F5] These peaceful days within the circle of His family
were now at an end. He would soon be caught up in a whirlwind of
which would never cease until it had carried Him swiftly to the
field of martyrdom. The governor of Shiraz, Husayn Khan, exerted
every effort to involve the Bab in fresh embarrassments. He was
outraged because Vahid's acceptance to the Bab had for a time tied
his hands. He feared to offend the king. Yet he could not bear
to see the Bab moving about once again free and unmolested. The
sight of the constant stream of followers and friends who were once
more entering His house enraged him. The Bab was very courageous
in proclaiming His Faith. He sent a message to one of the leading
figures of the city of Zanjan, saying: "He Whose virtues the late
Siyyid Kazim unceasingly extolled, and to the approach of Whose
Revelation he continually alluded, is now revealed. I am that
Promised One."[F6] Husayn Khan decided to employ spies to watch the
Bab secretly for evidence of the slightest mistake on His part.
The governor sent repeated letters to the Prime Minister, Haji
Mirza Aqasi, expressing his grave concern at the huge numbers who
were embracing His Cause. The Prime Minister responded promptly
to the governor's entreaties. He told Husayn Khan that he was sick
and tired of the turmoil in Shiraz. "Have done with the reformer,"
he ordered. "Have him killed immediately and secretly."[F7] One
of Husayn Khan's agents came to him with the news that the people
gathered about the Bab were now so many as to constitute a public
menace. The spy reported: "The eager crowd that presses in each
night to see him surpasses in number those that gather every day
before the seat of your government. Among them are men who are
celebrated for their exalted rank as well as for their profound
learning. So great has become their love for the Bab, that none
of your subordinates other than myself is willing to acquaint you
with the truth about conditions." Husayn Khan's anger was now
directed not only at the Bab and His companions, but also at his
own untrustworthy assistants. The spy suggested a plan. "If you
will permit me," he said, "I will surprise the Bab at midnight and
will deliver him in handcuffs along with certain of his companions
who can be made to confirm the truth of my statements." The
governor refused. "I know better than you what has to be
done," he said. "Watch me, I will show you how to deal with him."
Husayn Khan summoned the chief constable. "Go to the house of the
Bab's uncle," he commanded. "Quietly and unobserved, scale the
wall, climb to the roof and from there suddenly enter his home.
Arrest the Bab and bring him here to me. Bring all who are in his
company, and seize all the books you can find." Husayn Khan slowly
closed his fingers into a fist as though he were crushing some
hated thing. "I swear that this night I shall have the Bab
executed before my eyes," he said. "I shall slay him with all his
companions. That should quench the fire they have kindled in my
region. It will be a final warning to all who seek to disturb the
peace of this land. By this act tonight, I will stamp out this
great menace once and for all."[F8] Later that night the chief
constable, as instructed, broke into the house, arrested the Bab,
and seized all documents. He ordered the Bab and His companions
to accompany him to the house of the governor. The Bab was calm and
unruffled. He knew the hour of separation had struck. He quoted
words from the chief constable's Holy Book. "That with which they
are threatened is for the morning," He paused significantly. "Is
not the morning near?" The chief constable did not understand that
by those words the Bab foretold the beginning of suffering on both
sides. He conducted the Bab and His friends into the street where
he put them under guard. As they were approaching the market-place,
they heard cries of excitement. People were rushing frantically
from the city as though fleeing from an appalling calamity. The
constable was filled with dread as an awesome sight passed before
them. A long train of coffins was being hurried through the
streets. Each coffin was followed by a procession of men and women
loudly uttering cries of anguish. The chief constable stopped one
of the mourners. "What has happened?" he cried. "In the name of
God, answer me! What dreadful thing has struck our city?" "Flee
for your life," he was warned. "Cholera! A violent plague has
suddenly broken out. The city has been devastated. Already since
the hour of midnight, it has taken the lives of over a hundred
people. All of us have abandoned our homes and are calling upon
God to aid us!" The chief constable rushed his prisoners through
the streets to the home of the governor. The house was deserted.
The governor had fled. "Where has he gone," the chief constable
asked. "Out of the city," he was told. "Already three of his
servants have died of the plague. Several members of his family
are now dangerously ill. He has forsaken them and sought refuge in
a garden outside the city." The chief constable decided to take the
Bab to his own home. He would keep Him and His friends there until
he received further instructions from the governor. As he
approached his home, he heard the sound of weeping. He became
terrified. As he rushed forward, he remembered those words of the
Bab's spoken such a short time before: "That with which they are
threatened is for the morning, "Is not the morning near?" The
constable was told that his own son had been stricken with the
cholera and was almost dead. He was crushed by the news. Perhaps,
he told himself, the manner in which he and the governor had
treated their prisoner was responsible for this suffering. He
turned and approached the Bab. He threw himself at His feet and
implored Him to save the life of his son. "Do not punish him for
the guilt which his father has committed," he pleaded. "I repent
of what I have done. I swear that at this very moment I have
resigned my post under Husayn Khan." The Bab comforted the
constable. He directed him to take some of the water which He had
poured out. He told him to give it to his son to drink. "It will
save his life," He promised. The chief constable followed
directions, and shortly after his son recovered. As soon as the
constable saw the signs of recovery in his son, he sat down and
wrote a long letter to Husayn Khan. He told the governor the
entire story of that night of panic, and begged him to cease his
attacks on the Bab. "Have pity on yourself," he wrote, "as well as
those who are entrusted to your care." The governor replied:
"Release him." Husayn Khan insisted however that the Bab leave the
city of
Shiraz at once.[F9] If he could not triumph over Him personally,
he could at least drive Him out from the circle of His friends. By
this harsh action, Husayn Khan brought the days of his own peace
and prestige to an end. History records that a short time later
he was dismissed from office. From the day of his dismissal, he
fell victim to several misfortunes. No one was willing to come to
his assistance. In the end his plight was so tragic that he was
unable to earn his daily living. Sunk in misery and shame, he
languished until his death. The Bab Himself foretold the governor's
downfall. In a letter written to the Shah, He said of Husayn Khan:
"his cruelty has drawn the punishment of heaven."[F10] The Bab was
obedient to the decree of Husayn Khan. He made plans to leave
Shiraz at once. Thus, in the summer of 1846, He bade farewell to
His native town, His family, and to His friends. He left His family
in the care of His uncle, Haji Mirza Siyyid `Ali. He embraced His
uncle lovingly in parting. "I will again meet you," He promised
him, "amidst the mountains of Adhirbayjan, from whence I will send
you forth to obtain the crown of martyrdom. I Myself will follow
you, ... and will join you in the realm of eternity."[F11]
THE KINDLY GOVERNOR The Bab departed for Isfahan, a city noted for
the learning of its clergy. Here He found that the first one to
have embraced His Faith was a humble sifter of wheat. As soon as
he had been given the Message of the Bab he accepted and devoted
his life to teaching others. A few years later, when he heard that
some of his fellow believers were being martyred, he left his work,
arose and carrying his sieve in his hand hurried through the
bazaars of Isfahan. "Why leave in such a hurry?" his friends asked.
"I am going to join the glorious company of those who are willing
to give their life for their faith. With this sieve which I
carry with me, I intend to sift people in every village through
which I pass. Whoever I find ready to embrace this Cause I will
ask to join me and hasten to the fold of martyrdom." Such was the
devotion of this youth, that the Bab referred to him with great
love, saying that Isfahan was a city distinguished by the religious
fervor of its inhabitants, the learning of its priests, and high
and low alike shared the eager expectancy of the coming of the
Promised One. Yet when the Messenger of God appeared, the learned,
the wise and the religious rejected Him. Of all the inhabitants
of that seat of learning, only one person, a sifter of wheat, was
found to recognize the Truth. This, the Bab said, was the
fulfillment of the prophecy of the
Promised One which said, "the lowliest of the creatures shall
become the most exalted, and the most exalted shall become the most
debased."[F1] As the Bab approached the city of Isfahan, He wrote
a letter to the governor of that province, Manuchihr Khan. The
letter was so courteous and friendly, and of such exquisite
penmanship, that it immediately attracted the attention of the
governor. Unlike Husayn Khan, he was not opposed to knowing more
about this Young Man. He decided to take the Bab under his
protection until he could investigate the truth of His claim.
Manuchihr Khan instructed the chief priest of the Province to meet
the Bab and to take Him into his own home. He told him to treat
the Bab with great kindness and consideration. The chief priest was
very displeased at being given this task. However, he was afraid
to offend the powerful Manuchihr Khan, so he complied grudgingly
to the request. Yet even he admitted that in spite of his anger,
from the very first night, he fell under the spell of the Bab. The
Bab's presence in Isfahan caused even more excitement than it had
in Shiraz. An increasing stream of visitors and friends flowed
from every corner of the province to the house of the chief priest.
Some came out of curiosity, some came to gain a deeper
understanding of His message. Some came, as they had to Jesus, to
seek a remedy for their ills or suffering.[F2] All were welcomed
and were helped according to their needs. The governor himself,
Manuchihr Khan, came one night to visit the Bab. He asked Him to
write a commentary upon the specific mission which Muhammad had
come to earth to discharge. The Bab instantly took up His pen and
began to write. In less than two hours, He filled about fifty
pages. The governor was deeply impressed with the originality,
vigor, and accuracy of the commentary. With masterly insight, the
Bab once again expressed the central theme of His teaching: that
the people had looked for the arrival of the Day of the Promised
One, and now that Day had come. He argued with such force and
courage that those who heard Him were amazed.[F3] The governor was
enthusiastic. "Hear me!" he called to the people present at that
meeting. "I take you as my witnesses. I solemnly testify to my
belief in the superhuman power with which this youth
is blessed. It is a power that no amount of learning can ever
impart." With these words, the governor brought the meeting to a
close. The brother of the chief priest writhed in envy at this
statement. He was jealous of the attentions which the governor and
his brother showered upon the Bab. His bitter enmity and savage
cruelty to both the followers of the Bab and to the followers of
the One Whom the Bab said would come after Him, were to earn him
in the future the title: "Raqsha--the female serpent." He plotted
with the other priests of the region to undermine the Bab's growing
power. It was easy to win their support, for they firmly believed
that unless they arose to stem the tide of this popular enthusiasm
for the Bab, the foundations of their own livelihood and future
might be swept away. At first they refrained from outright
hostility. Instead, they began circulating wild rumors and base
accusations concerning the teachings of the Bab. They made certain
that these false rumors reached the capital at Tihran and were
especially made known to the Prime Minister, Haji Mirza Aqasi. The
Prime Minister was already fearful that the king might be inclined
to befriend the Bab because of Vahid's acceptance of Him. He knew
that such a friendship between the Ah h and the Bab might easily
lead to his own downfall. He was even more afraid that the
governor of Isfahan, Manuchihr Khan, might try to arrange an
interview between them, as the governor enjoyed the complete
confidence of the king. Haji Mirza Aqasi knew therefore that he
must prevent such a meeting. He wrote a strongly worded message
of the chief priest at Isfahan, and lashed out at him for playing
host to the Bab. "We expected you to resist this teaching with all
your might," he said. "Instead you befriend an arch-enemy. You
have sheltered and glorified the author of a contemptible and
dangerous movement." The Prime Minister wrote to all the other
priests of Isfahan as well. Although he had previously ignored
them, now he showered his attention and favors upon them. He made
lavish promises to them. They knew what he wanted, and by his
gifts to them, he welded them together against the Bab. The chief
priest still was afraid to come out openly against the Bab because
of the governor, Manuchihr Khan. He did, however, take steps to
lessen the ever-increasing number of visitors who
thronged each day at the door of the Bab. The chief priest's
brother secretly encouraged the other priests to attack the Bab
directly. He induced them to begin preaching against Him from the
pulpit. When Manuchihr Khan heard of this, he immediately had the
Bab brought into the safety of his own home. This protective
gesture by the governor further inflamed the priests of Isfahan.
They called for a great gathering of all their numbers. Once
assembled, they issued a written document to be signed and sealed
by all the religious leaders of the city. It condemned the Bab to
death. About seventy of the leading members of the clergy set
their seal to this document. Two of the priests refused to sign
it. It was an abusive document, they said. The chief priest did
not sign it because he feared the governor's wrath. Instead of
signing it, he wrote on the document in his own handwriting saying
that he could find no fault with the Bab's character or person.
Then he added: "However, the extravagance of his claims and his
disdainful contempt for the things of this world incline me to
believe that he is devoid of reason and judgement." The governor
was secretly informed of the plan of the priests to execute the
Bab, so he conceived a plan of his own. He issued a statement
that he was sending the Bab to Tihran. Then he gave instructions
for the Bab to leave Isfahan at sundown and openly proceed toward
Tihran under a protective escort of five hundred of his own mounted
bodyguard. He gave further orders that at each three mile post,
one hundred of the soldiers should return to Isfahan. To the
captain of the last hundred, a man in whom the governor placed
complete confidence, he gave instructions to send back twenty of
the one hundred soldiers at every further mile post. Of the
remaining twenty, ten should be dispatched to Ardistani to collect
taxes. The final ten, all of whom were his most trusted hand-picked
men, should return in disguise with the Bab to the governor's home
in Isfahan. The instructions were carefully carried out. In order
to assure the safety and comfort of the Bab upon His return the
governor, Manuchihr Khan, had Him occupy his own private apartment.
He served the meals himself, and waited upon the Bab at all times
for a period of four months. Three orders to slay the Bab had
already been issued. One by the Prime Minister, one by Husayn
Khan, and one by the priests of
Isfahan. Each had failed. It had been exactly as the Bab had told
the military escort of Husayn Khan when they had come to arrest Him
on the way from Bushihr: "No one knows the mystery of My Cause.
No one can fathom its secrets. Until My last hour has come, none
can frustrate the plan of the Almighty." One day, while the Bab was
seated in the private garden of the governor, Manuchihr Khan
approached Him. He said, "The Almighty has endowed me with great
riches. Now that I have recognized the truth of your Message, I
desire to offer all of my possessions to further the interests of
this Faith." Manuchihr Khan had a plan already devised. "It is my
intention," he told the Bab, "to go at once to Tihran and do my
best to win over the king. His confidence in me is firm and
unshaken in spite of the Prime Minister. I am certain that he will
embrace this Faith and arise to promote it. "I will also try to
induce the king to dismiss the profligate Haji Mirza Aqasi. His
folly has brought our land to the brink of ruin. "I hope," he
concluded, "to be enabled to attract the hearts of the kings and
rulers of the world to this wonderful Cause." the Bab was deeply
moved. "May God reward your noble intentions," He said. "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 for Me to
witness, and allow you to achieve, the realization of your hopes."
the Bab told Manuchihr Khan that the Faith of God would not be
spread by noble and wealthy figures. Rather, He said, it would
triumph through the efforts of the poor, the persecuted, and the
lowly. Through the blood they shed in the path of their Lord, and
through the sacrifice and suffering of those humble people, the
Faith of God would be spread throughout the world. the Bab made
Manuchihr Khan a promise as a reward for his love and service.
"God," He said, "will in the world to come shower upon you
inestimable blessings, but of your earthly life there remain only
three months and nine days." As the days of his life drew to a
close, the governor spent more and more time with the Bab. "I feel
a great happiness flooding my life," he told the Bab one day, "but
I am apprehensive for You. I fear to leave You to the
mercy of my successor, Gurgin Khan. He will discover Your presence
in this house and will grievously ill-treat You." "Fear not," the
Bab assured him. He quoted words akin to those spoken by Christ
and Muhammad under similar circumstances, saying: "Of My own will
have I chosen to be afflicted by My enemies that God might
accomplish the thing destined to be done." Manuchihr Khan was
satisfied with these words. His heart was refreshed. He knew now
that he had not spent his own days on earth in vain. He had met
and believed in the Promised One. His ears had not been stopped
by his own learning, nor had his eyes been blinded by his own
wealth. Serene and confident, he died three months and nine days
later after a slight fever. Mir Muhammad Husayn, the brother of the
chief priest who so bitterly persecuted the Bab and His followers
in Isfahan, did not escape the avenging finger that so
remorselessly sought out these persecutors. He was expelled from
Isfahan, and, despised, wandered from one village to another. He
finally contracted a loathsome disease from which he sickened and
died, a disease so foul smelling that his own wife and daughter
could not bear to attend him. Almost immediately Gurgin Khan,
Manuchihr Khan's successor, was informed of the Bab's presence in
the governor's residence. He verified it, then sent an urgent
letter to the king. "Four months ago it was believed that your
Majesty had summoned the Bab to Tihran. He left here under escort.
Now it is discovered that he had been hidden in the residence of
Manuchihr Khan, my predecessor, all this time. It is known that
the governor himself extended this secret hospitality to the Bab
and believed in Him. Whatever your Majesty now wishes done, I
shall be pleased to perform." The king was still convinced of the
loyalty of his dear friend Manuchihr Khan. He felt certain that
the governor had been waiting for a favorable occasion when he
could arrange a meeting between himself and the Bab. Now, his
sudden death had interfered with this plan. The king, therefore,
decided to carry out what he believed to have been the wish of his
friend, the governor. He would meet the Bab at last.
THE KING'S SUMMONS Muhammad Shah, the king of Persia, was torn
between two conflicting desires. He wanted to meet the Bab. He
was anxious to see in person this young Man Who could win over to
His Faith someone as learned and gifted as Vahid, and a man of such
nobility, stature and wealth as Manuchihr Khan. He was eager to
know more of this young Prophet Who could so powerfully affect such
illustrious people. Yet he was alarmed at the same time. He was
frightened of what might happen if the Bab gained too much
popularity. His Prime Minister, Haji Mirza Aqasi, constantly warned
him to beware of the Bab. The priests at Court spoke of the Bab
in the same manner the religious authorities had spoken of Jesus,
saying: "He is a political revolutionary. He will undermine your
state and destroy your influence over your subjects." The king
wavered. He blew hot and cold. Prompted by the Prime Minister,
he at one time issued instructions to do away with the Bab, then
later withdrew them. Now, thinking it would have pleased his
friend, the late Manuchihr Khan, the king again expressed his
eagerness to meet the Bab in person. Therefore, he summoned the
Bab to the capital city of Tihran. The historian Nicolas wrote:
"The Shah, whimsical and fickle, forgetting that he had, a short
time before, ordered the murder of
the Reformer [the Bab], felt the desire of seeing at last the man
who had aroused such universal interest."[F1] The king's order
read: "Send the Bab in disguise, in the company of a mounted
escort. Exercise the utmost consideration towards Him in the
course of his journey, and strictly maintain the secrecy of His
departure. Visit no towns or villages enroute." The king said he
wished to protect the Bab from His enemies in this manner. In
reality, the Prime Minister had arranged the plan for an entirely
different reason. He preferred the Bab to remain in disguise and
hidden for fear of the influence that he might exercise upon the
inhabitants of the cities through which he passed. The captain of
the escort was told, "Beware lest anyone discover his identity or
suspect the nature of your mission. No one but you, and even the
members of his escort, should be allowed to recognize him. Should
anyone question you concerning him, say that he is a merchant whom
you have been instructed to conduct to the capital, and of whose
identify you are completely ignorant." Late one night, in
accordance with the instructions of the king, the Bab set out for
Tihran. Enroute to the capital, the Bab's guards discovered His
identity in spite of the precautions, and became His supporters.
His alluring charm, combined with a compelling dignity and loving
kindness, won them over and transformed them. In their eagerness
to serve and please Him, they told Him : "We are strictly forbidden
by the government to allow you to enter any village or house. We
are told to proceed by an unfrequented route directly to Tihran so
that you shall come in contact with no one. However, if it be your
wish, wee are ready to ignore these instructions and escort you
through the streets of every town." The Bab replied that He
preferred to go by way of the country, for the cities were unholy.
The people paid tribute to the shrines with their lips while with
their acts they heaped dishonor upon them. Outwardly they
reverenced, but inwardly they disgraced. The Prime Minister sent
a message which intercepted the party one day's journey from Tihran
and commanded the guard not to take the Bab to Tihran, but to the
village of Kulayn instead, and to hold Him there until further
instructions. The Prime Minister was determined that the Bab
should never reach the capital. The Prime Minister continually
reminded the king of the religious revolts that had taken place in
the past in Mirman and Khurasan,
and warned him that the Bab was just such a dangerous threat to the
peace of the realm. The Prime Minister's influence over the king
was unlimited. Comte de Gobineau, the French historian, wrote: "His
[the king's] disposition, naturally weak, had become very
melancholy and, as he craved love and could not find it in his
family either with wives or children, he had centered all his
affection upon the aged Mulla [Haji Mirza Aqasi], his tutor. He
made of him his only friend, his confidant, then his first and
all-powerful minister, even his god!"[F2] The Journal Asiatique
states that the Prime Minister gained such power over the king that
one could truly say that the Prime Minister was the real
sovereign.[F3] P. M. Sykes in his A history of Persia states, "Haji
Mirza Aqasi, who had been its virtual ruler for thirteen years was
utterly ignorant of statesmanship ... yet too vain to receive
instruction ... brutal in his language; insolent in his demeanor;
indolent in his habits; he brought the exchequer to the verge of
bankruptcy and the country to the brink of revolution." Haji Mirza
Aqasi finally persuaded Muhammad Shah, to send the Bab to a remote
fortress called Mahku. According to one historian, the king had
been suffering from illness for some time. The Bab had promised
to heal him if He were permitted to come to Tihran. Haji Mirza
Aqasi feared that if the Bab should bring about such a cure, the
king would no longer be under his thumb.[F4] He induced the king
to write to the Bab as follows: "Much as we desire to meet you, we
find ourselves 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 Mahku."[F5] The Bab had written
earlier to the king asking for an audience with him. He had
requested permission to come to the capital so that before the king
and all the religious leaders of the land, He might present the
proofs of His Mission. He agreed to leave the decision of its
truth or falsehood entirely in the hands of the king. He said that
He would accept the judgement of the king as final; and in case of
failure, was ready to sacrifice His head.[F6] Both the Prime
Minister and the king had originally welcomed this letter. They
were convinced that once the Bab was faced by the noted religious
leaders of the land, they could humiliate Him and divest Him of all
prestige. However, when they received the
news of His overwhelming victories in debate at Shiraz, and
especially when word came of the conversion of both Vahid and
Manuchihr Khan to His Faith, they were no longer eager, or even
willing, to have Him at the capital. When the king's message
reached the Bab, telling Him of His transfer to the prison of
Mahku, He knew whose hand was behind the cruel order. "You summoned
Me from Isfahan to meet the doctors [religious leaders] and for the
attainment of a decisive settlement," He wrote the Prime Minister.
"What has happened now that this excellent intention has been
changed for Mahku and Tabriz?"[F7] In these words, the Bab
foreshadowed the suffering He was to face in the northern city of
Tabriz where He would be summoned from prison, once to be beaten
and a second time to be slain. Thus the king broke his promise to
meet the Bab, and the Royal party including the young son of the
king, Prince Farhad Mirza, left with the Shah and the Prime
Minister for a lovely park in the neighborhood of Tihran. While
there the prince approached the Prime Minister and asked him,
"Haji, why have you sent the Bab to Mahku?" The Prime Minister
replied, "You are still too young to understand certain things, but
know this: had he come to Tihran, you and I would not at this
moment be walking free from care in this cool shade." The
historical document Journal Asiatique records: "As the order of the
Prime Minister, Haji Mirza Aqasi, became generally known ... 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." The Bab was ordered to
proceed first to Tabriz. He refused to accept the funds provided
by the government for the expense of the journey. All of the
allowances that were given by the Prime Minister, the Bab bestowed
upon the poor. For His own needs He used the money which He had
earned as a merchant. Rigid orders were given to avoid entering any
of the towns on the journey to Tabriz. When the party at last
approached the gate of the city, the leader of the escort, Muhammad
Big, approached the Bab. "The journey from Isfahan," he said, "has
been long and arduous. I feel I have failed to do my duty toward
you, and have failed to
serve you as I should have. I can only ask for your pardon and
forgiveness." "Be assured I account you as a member of My fold,"
the Bab told him. "They who embrace My Cause will bless and glorify
you, and will extol your conduct and exalt your name." The rest of
the guards followed the example of their chief, and with tears in
their eyes, bade the Bab a last affectionate farewell.
Reluctantly, the delivered Him to the soldiers of the governor of
THE TUMULT IN TABRIZ The news of the Bab's arrival at Tabriz caused
great excitement. Huge crowds set out to meet Him at the gate.
They were eager to extend their welcome to Him. The officials,
into whose custody the Bab had been delivered, refused to allow the
people to draw near and receive His blessing. One youth, however,
was unable to restrain himself. He ran through the gate of the
city, past the officials, and rushed out over a mile towards the
Bab. He approached the horsemen who were riding in advance and
joyously welcomed them. "You are the companions of my Beloved One,"
he cried, "I cherish you as the apple of my eye." They granted him
permission to meet the Bab. As soon as the young man's eyes fell
upon Him, a cry of exultation broke from his lips. He fell upon
his face and wept profusely. The Bab dismounted, put His arms
about the young man and embraced him. Of all the believers of
Tabriz, that youth alone on that day succeeded in reaching the Bab
and being blessed by His hand. All of the others had to content
themselves with seeing Him from afar. A mere glimpse had to
satisfy their longing. An immense crowd of people thronged the
gate of the city to witness the entry of the Bab. Some were merely
curious, while others were earnestly trying to find out if the Bab
were in truth
such a wondrous figure as they had been told. Still others were
moved by their faith and devotion, and sought to attain His
presence so they could assure Him of their loyalty. As He walked
along the streets, the cries of welcome rang out on every side.
The great majority of those who saw Him shouted aloud: "God is most
great!" They cheered Him on His way. So great was the clamor which
His arrival had raised that a crier was sent out among the people
to warn them of the danger of continuing this behavior. "Whoever
shall make any attempt to approach the Bab, " the people were
warned, "or seek to meet him, at any time, all that person's
possessions shall be seized and he shall be imprisoned."[F1] The
Bab was placed in a room of the Citadel, a fortress-like structure.
A detachment of soldiers stood guard at the entrance. In spite of
the rigid orders of their superiors, these soldiers soon became
His friends. They were entirely obedient to the instructions of
the Bab, and permitted whomever He wished to visit Him. They were
in reality a protection against the onrush of the multitude who
thronged about the house, the Bab said, but they were powerless to
prevent those Whom He desired to meet from attaining His presence.
This same detachment of soldiers who now guarded and protected Him,
would in a future day, and in a mysterious manner, be chosen to
discharge the volley that would cause His death; but only after
another squadron of soldiers would find themselves powerless to
kill Him, a thing described by the historian Nicolas as "unique in
the annals of the history of humanity."[F2] One day, shortly after
the Bab's arrival in Tabriz, one of His devoted followers, named
`Ali-Askar, went to see Him. `Ali-Askar was warned by his friends
not to go. "Don't you know that such a foolish attempt on your part
will not only involve the loss of your possessions, but will also
endanger your very life?" "I am going," he said. He refused to heed
their counsel, and made his way to the house where the Bab was
imprisoned. Nothing could keep `Ali-Askar from the presence of the
Bab, even if it meant giving up his life. In the days past, he had
journeyed many miles with Mulla Husayn, the first follower of the
Bab. They had taught together in many towns. Time after time,
`Ali-Askar would complain bitterly
to Mulla Husayn of his own earlier failure to recognize the Bab and
meet Him in Shiraz. This was a source of great sorrow to
`Ali-Askar. "Grieve not," Mulla Husayn told him. "The Almighty
will no doubt compensate you in Tabriz for the loss you sustained
in Shiraz." Mulla Husayn spoke very confidently. "Not once," he
said, "but seven times can He enable you to partake of the joy of
His presence, in return for one visit which you have missed." Now
that the Bab was in Tabriz, `Ali-Askar would allow nothing to keep
them apart. As he approached the door of the house in which the
Bab was confined, he was immediately arrested along with the friend
who accompanied him. A command was sent from the Bab to the guards:
"Suffer these visitors to enter, inasmuch as I Myself have invited
them to meet Me." This message silenced the guards at once.
`Ali-Askar and his friend were ushered into the Bab's presence.
He greeted them affectionately and made them welcome. He gave them
many instructions to carry out. He assured them that whenever they
wished to visit Him, no one would bar their way. `Ali-Askar said,
"Several times I ventured to visit the Bab, so that I might ask
questions about the work with which He had entrusted me. Not once
did I encounter any opposition on the part of those who were
guarding the entrance to His house. "I had forgotten the words
which Mulla Husayn had spoken to me until the time of my last visit
to the Bab. How great was my surprise when, on my seventh visit,
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.'" An eye-witness has related the
following: "During the first ten days of the Bab's imprisonment in
Tabriz, no one knew what would befall Him next. The wildest rumors
were circulating about the city. "One day I asked Him whether He
would be kept in Tabriz or whether He would be transferred to still
another place. "He answered me, saying: `For a period of no less
than nine months, we shall remain confined in [Mahku]. From thence
we shall be transferred to [Chihriq].' "Five days after the Bab had
uttered this prediction, orders were issued to transfer Him and me
to the castle of Mahku and to deliver us into the custody of the
Warden, `Ali Khan."
With saddened hearts the people of Tabriz watched the Bab depart
from the city. Many were confused by His apparent helplessness and
docility. They turned away, as the people had turned away from
Christ, and they believed no more. They whispered among themselves
as they had whispered in Jerusalem when Christ was delivered in
turn to Caiaphas and Pilate. "If this is the Promised One, why is
He subjected to the whims of the men of earth?"
THE HIGH STONE PRISON The Bab was delivered into the custody of the
warden, `Ali Khan, at Mahku, where He was shut up inside a
four-towered, stone castle-fortress, high on the summit of a
mountain. Below the fortress, on the west, flowed the river
Araxes, the boundary between Persia and Russia. The Prime Minister,
Haji Mirza Aqasi, had chosen Mahku for the Bab's imprisonment for
only one reason. It was a wild and inhospitable region, inhabited
by people who had always been the bitter enemies of the Persians.
The Prime Minister had bestowed many favors upon this rebellious
region and it was now under his complete control.[F1] Haji Mirza
Aqasi felt certain that by this imprisonment he could cut the Bab
off permanently from His followers, and separate Him from their
activities. In this way, His Cause would be stifled at its birth
and soon extinguished. Few, if any, would ever try to penetrate
that unfriendly country. His plan was a failure. The hostility of
the native people of Mahku was gradually softened by the gentle
manner of the Bab. Their opposition to His teaching was melted
by the wisdom of His words. Each morning they would come from the
village of Mahku and gather on the road below His prison and call
out to Him asking His blessing on their daily work. the Bab
Himself wrote of those early days in Mahku: "My
companions are two men and four dogs." But His teachings reached
the multitudes who gathered outside. He would indicate to Siyyid
Husayn of Yazd, who had been brought with Him in captivity from
Tabriz. On a quiet day, the sound of His voice could be clearly
heard by the people below the fortress. One of the eye-witness of
those days has written: " ... Mountain and valley echoed with the
majesty of His voice. Our hearts vibrated in their depths to the
appeal of His utterance."[F2] The warden, `Ali Khan, did his best
to discourage this practice, but he was unable to dampen their
enthusiasm. He refused to permit any of the villagers to enter the
Bab's presence. He would not allow any of the Bab's followers who
came to the mountain to remain, even for one night, in the village
of Mahku. Haji Mirza Aqasi had warned `Ali Khan of the danger of
falling under the spell of the Bab's charm. "He is an agitator,"
the Prime Minister had said. `Ali Khan found himself increasingly
helpless to resist his attraction to the Bab. During the nine
months of the Bab's imprisonment from the summer of 1847 until
April in 1848, his hostility underwent a series of transformations
from enmity to devotion. From that moment on, `Ali Khan tried by
every means in his power to make up for his past hatred. One day
he went to the Bab: "A poor man waiting outside the gate of Mahku
yearns to attain Your presence," he said, "May I have your
permission to bring him to this place so that he may meet You? By
this act, I hope that You will forgive me, and that the memory of
my cruel behavior toward You and Your friends in the past may be
forever washed away." His request was granted. `Ali Khan did all
he could to soften the rigor of the Bab's imprisonment. At night
he would still close the gate of the village, but in the daytime
those whom the Bab wished to see were allowed to visit Him,
converse with Him, and receive His instructions. A. L. M. Nicolas
writes: "All historians [unfriendly as well as friendly] ... 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."[F3] Another has
reported: "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."[F4] During
this nine-month period in Mahku, the Bab composed His most
comprehensive book, the Persian Bay n. In it the Bab defined His
Mission as two-fold: to call men back to God, and to announce the
coming of the Promised One of all ages and religions. This great
Prophet, He said, would appear soon after Himself. The station of
this Figure-to-come was so exalted, the Bab told His followers,
that "if one should hear a single verse from Him and recite it, it
is better than that he should recite the Bay n a thousand
times."[F5] He urged His followers to remember these words and to
seek and find this great Figure upon His own passing. He implied
that His Faith and that of the One to come after Him were
identical; they were one Faith: He was the Herald, the One to come
was the Author. This Truth was now in the stage of seed. In the
day of Him Who was yet to come, its perfection would become
apparent.[F6] Repeatedly He told His followers that He was but the
preparation for that great Day of God promised in all the
scriptures. Christ had warned His disciples of the last days in
these words: "Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord
doth come."[F7] The Bab echoed this warning, saying: Be awake on
the day of the appearance of Him Whom God will manifest."[F8] The
Bab's constant prayer during those months of captivity in Mahku was
that He might be able to prepare the soil of men's hearts for the
coming of this great world Shepherd. "O my God!" He said, "Through
Him destroy all tyrants ... annihilate, through His justice, all
forms of oppression."[F9] The Bab said that He spoke of His own
suffering only so that it might be "an example to [My followers]
so that they may not act toward Him [Who is to come]as the
believers in the Qur'an have acted toward Me."[F10] "Of all the
tributes I have paid to Him Who is to come after Me," the Bab wrote
in Mahku, "the greatest is this, My written confession, that no
words of Mine can adequately describe Him, nor can any reference
to Him in My Book, the Bay n, do justice to His Cause."[F11] He
left no question whatsoever in the minds of His followers as to His
own station: He was the Dawn, the One to come was the
Sun. "Were He to appear at this very moment," proclaimed the Bab,
"I would be the first to adore Him, and the first to bow down
before Him."[F12] The historian Nicolas states that when the Bab
was asked for proofs of His mission, His answer was admirable for
its precision and clearness, His explanations new and original, and
His literary work of profound interest.[F13] For nine months the
Bab wrote almost continuously. His followers came from all parts
of Persia to visit Him. After a stay of three days they were
encouraged by the Bab to return to their homes and continue the
work of teaching and consolidating the Faith. Not only was the Bab
able to meet His followers, in spite of the isolation imposed upon
Him by the Prime Minister, but more important, He was given the
time and opportunity to set down in permanent form the fundamental
truths of His Mission. In His solitary chamber He was not permitted
to have even a lighted lamp. The winter was so severe that the
water with which He washed Himself would freeze in drops upon His
face. It was during this time that Mulla Husayn decided to visit
Him at Mahku.[F14] He had been teaching the Cause industriously in
the city of Mashhad, greatest center of pilgrimage in all Persia.
Half of the city derived its living from the flow of visitors. All
these people were now joined together against this teacher who
might possibly deprive them of their livelihood. To denounce
abuses of religion might be all right in any other city, they said,
but it was certainly not proper to denounce them in Mashhad where
everyone of every class was thriving upon them. It was all very
well for the Promised One to come, and perhaps He had the right,
but He certainly was a public nuisance. Mulla Husayn was told
plainly, by actions as well as words, that it might be very
thrilling to undertake the conquest of the world with the Bab, but
there was a big risk involved, not to mention fatigue and danger,
especially now, while everyone was enjoying perfect peace in a fine
city where business was good and one could earn a living with ease
and security. Mulla Husayn left Mashhad in disgust. He was hungry
for the pure, holy presence of the Bab. He told his friends: "I
have resolved to go on foot the entire distance that separates me
from my Beloved. I shall not rest until I have reached my
destination." Warden `Ali Khan saw Mulla Husayn approaching Mahku
morning at sun-up. He went out to greet him, bringing a horse so
that he might finish the final stage of his journey in ease. Mulla
Husayn refused the mount. "No," he said, "I have vowed to
accomplish the entire journey on foot. I will walk to the summit
of this mountain and will there visit your Prisoner." When Mulla
Husayn reached the gate of the prison he saw the Bab standing at
the threshold. The Bab stretched forth His arms and affectionately
embraced him. One day as they stood together on the roof of the
prison looking out over the mountains of Adhirbayjan, the Bab
quoted the following prophecy to Mulla Husayn: "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."
He turned toward Mulla Husayn and quoted another prophecy, saying:
"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.'"
Part of this prophecy had already taken place, He told Mulla
Husayn. The mystery of the rest would be known in the year 1853.
The Bab gazed toward the west where the river Araxes wound its way
below the castle. He quoted yet another prophecy: "Treasures lie
hidden beneath the throne of God; the key to those treasures is the
tongue of poets." He looked at 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 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 !' "But for the shortness of your stay," the Bab told
Mulla Husayn, "We would have shown you the `abode of Salma ,' even
as We have unveiled to your eyes the `banks of the Araxes.'" By the
`abode of Salma ' the Bab meant the prison of Chihriq to which He
was soon to be transferred, and which stands by the town of Salma
s. He then related to Mulla Husayn many things which would take
place in the future. He told him not to disclose them to anyone.
As the Bab bade His last farewell to Mulla Husayn, He said to him:
"You have walked on foot all the way from your native
province to this place. On foot you likewise must return ... your
days of horsemanship are yet to come. You are destined to exhibit
such courage, such skill and heroism as shall eclipse the heroes
of old." The Bab instructed Mulla Husayn to visit the believers in
each of the villages on his way back. "Inflame their hearts anew,
..." He told him, "and fortify their faith in this Revelation. "A
few days after your departure, they will transfer Us to another
mountain. Ere you arrive at your destination, the news of Our
departure from Mahku will have reached you." The prediction of the
Bab soon came to pass. Those who had been sent by the Prime
Minister to watch secretly and report what was taking place at
Mahku, sent back alarming news. "The once unfriendly people of
Mahku are now showing the greatest respect and love for the Bab,
" they confessed. "People come from everywhere to visit him. Even
`Ali Khan, the warden, has been enchanted by him. He treats the
Bab as his host rather than his prisoner." Both fear and rage
impelled the Prime Minister to issue an order for the instant
transfer of the Bab to the more rigid prison of Chihriq, called
"the grievous mountain." Mulla Husayn was in Tabriz when the news
of the Bab's transfer to Chihriq reached him. The Bab said farewell
to the people of Mahku. Their hearts were heavy at the sad sight
of His departure. The One they had come to love so much was now
going out of their lives forever. During the nine months of His
captivity among them, they had recognized to a remarkable degree
the power of His personality and the greatness of His character.
THE SCOURGING AT TABRIZ the Bab was subjected to a closer more
rigorous confinement at Chihriq. The Prime Minister gave strict and
explicit orders to the warden, Yahya Khan, who was a
brother-in-law of the king. He told Yahya Khan that no one was
ever to enter the presence of the Bab. There were to be no
exceptions to this rule. The warden was warned to profit by the
failure of `Ali Khan at Mahku, and never to disregard the orders
he had received, even for a minute, if he valued his life. Yet, in
spite of this open threat to his own safety, Yahya Khan found
himself powerless to obey. He too soon felt the fascination of his
Prisoner. He forgot completely the duty he was expected to
perform. Love for the Bab claimed his entire being, until he would
have preferred to be slain rather than to cause Him the slightest
discomfort. The villagers who lived in Chihriq were more fanatic
in their hatred of the Bab than those who had lived at Mahku, but
they also gradually fell under the transforming influence of His
presence. The spirit which He radiated was a life-creating thing.
It changed hate into love, enemies into friends. This is confirmed
by the following historical account: "His qualities were so rare
in their nobility and beauty, His personality so gentle and yet so
forceful, and His natural charm was combined
with so much tact and judgment, that after His Declaration He
quickly became in Persia a widely popular figure. He would win
over almost all with whom He was brought into personal contact,
even converting His gaolers to His Faith and turning the
ill-disposed into admiring friends."[F1] The size of the crowds who
had visited Him at Mahku was dwarfed by the number of those who
flocked to Him at Chihriq. Yahya Khan would not refuse admittance
to anyone who wished to see Him. So many sought His presence that
there was no room to accommodate them all. They had to be housed
at Old Chihriq, an hour's distance away. M. Mochenin who was on
duty for a foreign organization in that region says in his memoirs:
"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."[F2] Whatever provisions were
required for the Bab were purchased in Old Chihriq. One day honey
was purchased for Him. The price seemed exorbitant. He refused it
and said: "Honey of a superior quality could no doubt be purchased
at a lower price. It behooves you in all your transactions to
follow in My way. You must neither defraud your neighbor not allow
him to defraud you." He insisted that the honey be returned and one
better in quality and cheaper in price be bought in its place.[F3]
During those days a dervish walked all the way from India to seek
the Bab. As soon as he met Him, he embraced His Faith. He told
the following story: "I was an official in India occupying a fine
position. In a dream a young man gazed at me and won my heart
completely. I arose and started to follow Him. 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." This fulfilled the words
of the prophecy given for the last days that: men should come from
the far places, guided by the spirit, until they met their
Promised One.[F4] This was but one of many remarkable events which
followed upon each other with swift succession. They caused the
turmoil in Chihriq to eclipse that of Mahku. A continuous stream
of seekers and followers flowed back and forth through this old
prison city.
Men of distinguished merit, eminent members of the clergy, and even
government officials were openly and rapidly embracing the Faith
of the Bab. One of the most outstanding literary figures of the
land, who was also a high governmental official, accepted the Bab's
teaching and devoted both his person and his pen to the spreading
of His Faith. He was called Dayyan by the Bab. Previously, Dayyan
had denounced the Bab and His Message. Then one night he had a
dream, after which he wrote to the Bab, saying, "I have definite
things in my mind. I request you to reveal to me their nature."
A few days later he received a reply penned by the Bab in which He
described the dream and revealed the exact words that were in
Dayyan's mind. The accuracy of that reply brought about his
complete conversion. He went on foot to the mountain to meet the
Bab. The meeting excited in him a fiery ardor which lasted to the
end of his life. the Bab knew that the hour of his deeper
affliction was approaching. He told all of His followers who had
gathered in Chihriq to disperse and to return to their most
important work, teaching. He instructed the believer from India
to return to his native land and work unceasingly for the spread
of the Faith. He obeyed the Bab at once, and alone, clad in
simplest attire, staff in hand, he went down the mountainside and
walked all the way back to his own country, teaching in every
village along the way. Calmly the Bab waited for the inevitable
edict of Haji Mirza Aqasi. It was not long in coming. When the
news of all these startling events reached the capital, the Prime
Minister was violent in his anger. He had failed again. He knew
he must not fail a third time. He demanded that the Bab be
transferred at once from the prison to the city of Tabriz. Strict
orders were given to avoid any contact with those towns to which
the Bab's influence had already spread. He was to be brought to
Tabriz by an unexpected route by way of the village of Urumiyyih.
Such a secret, however, could not be kept. On His arrival in
Urumiyyih, the prince Malik Qasim Mirza respectfully received Him,
and gave the Bab a guard of footmen to hold back the gathering
crowd. The people were crushing against each other in their
eagerness to catch a glimpse of so marvelous a Prisoner.
Arrangements were made for the Bab to go to the public bath. The
prince was anxious to test the power and courage of his Guest,
having heard such wondrous tales about Him. He ordered his groom
to offer the Bab one of his wildest horses to ride. The groom
feared that the Bab, Whom he loved, might suffer harm from this
untamed animal. He secretly approached the Bab and told Him the
story, and tried to induce Him to refuse to mount this steed. "It
has already overthrown the bravest and most skillful of horsemen,"
he said. "Fear not," the Bab replied. "Do as you have been bidden
and commit Us to the care of the Almighty." The villagers learned
of the plan of the prince. They filled the public square the next
morning, eager to witness the test and learn what would befall the
Bab. The wild horse was brought from his stable. The bridle was
cautiously given to the Bab by the frightened groom. The Bab
quietly stepped toward the animal. Gently, He caressed the steed,
and then slowly placed His foot in the stirrup. The horse stood
motionless as the Bab mounted. He rode the animal to the public
bath. All along the way people tried to rush in from every side
to marvel at such a miracle, and to offer their belief in His
Faith. On His return from the bath He again mounted the same
horse, and was once again acclaimed by the townspeople. As soon as
the Bab left the public bath, the people of Urumiyyih rushed to
take away all the water from that place and carry it in containers
to their homes in all parts of the village. There were some who
remembered the closing words of a prophecy given for the time of
the Promised One's coming which said that the lake of Urumiyyih
will boil up, will overrun its banks, and inundate the town.[F5]
When the Bab was told that many people had spontaneously arisen to
accept His Faith because of these remarkable events, which they
considered to be miracles, He sadly quoted the words: "Think men
that when they say, `We believe,' they shall be let alone and not
put to the proof?" The comment was fully justified by the attitude
of these same people of Urumiyyih when later they heard the news
of the dreadful treatment which the Bab had suffered at Tabriz.
Hardly a handful of those who had so eagerly proclaimed their
belief in His Cause on that day remained faithful. Miracles, the
followers of His Faith were to learn, are but a secondary proof and
of value only to those
who witness them; of themselves miracles have no lasting value.
It was now as it had been in the time of Christ, for when Jesus
miraculously healed the ten lepers only one remained to thank Him.
He said: "Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the
nine?"[F6] Tales of what had happened in Urumiyyih raced ahead of
the Bab and His escort, causing a great wave of enthusiasm.
Tabriz, in particular, was in the throes of the wildest excitement.
Word of the Bab's coming ignited the imagination of the people and
roused the fierce animosity of the religious leaders. Such was the
fervor of the public feeling that the authorities decided to
confine the Bab in a place outside the gates. Precautions were
taken, warnings were published, restrictions were enforced, yet all
these only served to aggravate a situation which had already become
critical. The Bab had captured the fancy of the people and nothing
the officials or clergy could do was able to diminish their ardor.
Haji Mirza Aqasi issued an order from the capital. He demanded
that all the leading religious dignitaries, as well as the
government officials, hold an immediate gathering. His words made
clear the grave nature of this crisis. The religious leaders, he
said, must decide at once upon the most effective measures for
extinguishing this fire which the Bab had kindled. They must bring
to an abrupt end the Bab's power over the public. There must be
no mistakes. The Bab must be summoned before this important
gathering, and there He must be humiliated in such a manner as
would permanently undermine His influence. The Bab was well aware
of the Prime Minister's purpose. On the second night after His
arrival in Tabriz, the Bab told His friends that on the morrow, in
the presence of the king's eldest son, the assembled religious
leaders, and the notables of the city, He would publicly proclaim
His Mission.[F7] The meeting was arranged according to the plan of
the Prime Minister. It took place in the residence of the governor.
An officer of the army was sent to bring the Bab into the presence
of the gathering. Already a multitude besieged the outside
entrance. Crowds had been waiting since early dawn to catch a
glimpse of the Bab's face. They pressed forward in such large
numbers that a passage had to be forced through the crowd for the
Bab to enter. When He came into the hall, He saw that every seat
was occupied
except one, which had been reserved as the seat of honor for the
heir to the throne, the king's son. The Bab courteously greeted
the assembly. He knew they planned to humiliate Him by making Him
stand. Without hesitation He walked to the seat of honor and sat
down. A silence, long and intense, fell over the gathering. Their
plans had been frustrated, and their anger was apparent in their
faces. At last the stillness was broken by the presiding officer
of the meeting. "Who do you claim to be?" he asked the Bab. "What
is the message which you have brought?" It was the story of Christ
retold. When Jesus was taken into the judgment chamber before the
priests with their pre-planned investigation, He was asked: Art
thou the Christ? He replied: I am.[F8] There could no longer
remain any doubt of His mission. In like manner, with similar
words, the Bab replied to this assembly which also wished to hear
Him condemn Himself by making this staggering claim. Three times
He repeated it in their presence. "I am," 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 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 people of both the East and the West to obey My word and to
pledge allegiance to My person." A witness to that stirring event
has said: "Immediately after He declared Himself to be the Promised
One, a feeling of awe seized those who were present. The pallor
of their faces betrayed the agitation of their hearts." It was
recorded of that meeting in yet another place: "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 the moment crushed the soul out of the
body of those whom He had greeted." A hush fell over the hall. At
last, unable to bear the tension any longer, one of the assembly
arose and shouted angrily at the Bab. "You wretched and immature
lad of Shiraz! Do you wish to arouse a turmoil here?" The Bab
turned to the presiding officer. "Your honor," He said,
"I have not come hither of My own accord. I have been summoned to
this place." The authorities asked no truly sincere questions about
His Mission or His teachings. Instead, they indulged in a series
of insulting and flippant inquiries which had nothing to do with
His Faith, but were designed solely to humiliate their Prisoner.
After patiently bearing their abuse and insults throughout the
session, the Bab quoted their own Holy Book to them, saying:
"Praise be to God, the Lord of all the worlds!" Immediately after,
He arose and abruptly left the hall. At once, the religious
authorities began to spread the most unfavorable and false reports
of the Bab's part in that trial. They said His answers were both
childish and unsatisfying, that they were not even the replies of
a sane man, let alone those of a promised Redeemer. Fortunately for
history, two European scholars, following much investigation, have
preserved an unbiased account of those proceedings. The first was
Dr. T. K. Cheyne, a Christian clergyman and student of that period.
He has written: "As for the Muslim accounts [of the trial], 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 leaders and
functionaries who attended the meeting were unwilling to put on
record their own fiasco."[F9] The second was Professor Edward G.
Browne, of Cambridge University. He called the questions which
these religious leaders had asked the Bab "frivolous and even
indecent." He writes of that trial: "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 the 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."[F10] Even
the presiding officer at that gathering, Haji Mulla Mahmud, was
displeased at the way the priests had conducted that meeting. He
did not wish his name associated with it. "How shameful is the
discourtesy of this people," he said, "What possible connection
could there possibly be between such idle questions and
the honest consideration of such an important issue as the Bab's
claim?" A. L. M. Nicholas referring to an earlier inquisition of
the Bab by such hostile religious leaders, says they conditioned
their belief in His Truth by His ability to explain three miracles
to them: (1) How could the Imam Javad travel in the twinkling of
an eye from Arabia to Persia in the body; (2) How could the Imam
`Ali be in sixty different places at one instant; (3) How did the
heavens revolve rapidly during the reign of a tyrant and slowly
during that of an Imam? "It was the solution of these inanities,"
says Nicolas, "that they proposed to the Bab. I shall not dwell
on them any longer ... one will easily understand the emptiness and
arrogance of all those minds."[F11] The Bab was brought to the home
of Mirza `Ali-Asghar, the head of the religious court. He was
given over to the governor's bodyguard for humiliating punishment.
The guard refused. "This is not a government affair," he insisted.
"It is the concern of the clergy." Impatient at the delay, Mirza
`Ali-Asghar himself decided to inflict the punishment upon the Bab
with his own hands. It would then be done, and at least the Bab's
triumph would appear less spectacular in the eyes of the people.
Just as Jesus had fallen under the scourge of Pilate following His
examination in the judgement hall where He proclaimed Himself as
the Redeemer of men, the Bab was also subjected to the same
indignity, following the same trial, and the same great
proclamation. Seven times the rod of the bastinado was applied to
His feet. He was struck across the face with one of the blows.
It caused a great wound. Dr. Cormick, an English physician who was
residing in Tabriz, was called to treat the Bab. He has set down
his impression of the Bab, gained during those meetings. "He was
a very mild and delicate looking man ... with a melodious soft
voice which struck me much ... on my saying that I 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. In fact," the doctor added, "his whole look and
deportment went far to dispose one in his favor."[F12] The Bab was
not released after His scourging. He was marched
back under heavy guard to the prison of Chihriq. However, He left
behind Him in Tabriz the memory of a great victory. Many who had
been opposers became followers. Many, pointing a finger at the
cruel behavior of the religious leaders, recalled the well-known
prophecy about the Promised One: "In that day most of His enemies
shall be the [religious authorities]." To those who felt great
anguish because of the cruelties inflicted upon the gentle Bab,
these words of His brought comfort, "Be patient ... for verily God
hath vowed to establish Thy glory in every land, amongst all who
dwell on earth." The trial in Tabriz had enabled the Bab to set
forth clearly the fundamental features of His Faith. It had also
enabled Him to destroy, in brief and convincing language, the
arguments of His enemies. As Jesus had said: My teaching is not
Mine, but His that sent Me; the Bab, too, made it plain that His
message was an outpouring from One greater than Himself. His
purpose was to proclaim the Word of God as a Messenger of God. The
people were free to believe or not, as they chose. When the Bab
returned to the prison-fortress of Chihriq, He wrote a moving
letter denouncing the treacherous Prime Minister, Haji Mirza Aqasi.
It foretold his downfall soon to come. This was written as a
warning to all such leaders who, refusing the truth themselves, had
shut the door in the face of those whose destiny they held in their
power. The Bab gave the letter to one of His disciples and told him
to deliver it personally into the hands of Haji Mirza Aqasi. The
letter was called: "The Sermon of Wrath." It began with the words:
"O thou who hast disbelieved!"[F13] From that hour, the dreadful
consequences, which had already befallen so many who had persecuted
the Bab and His followers began to descend upon the ring-leaders
of His Tabriz torture.[F14] The head of the religious court, Mirza
`Ali-Asghar, who with his own hands had scourged the Bab in the
prayer-house, was despised and feared by a people who had sickened
of his leadership and which prayed to be delivered from his evil
ways. Mirza `Ali-Asghar was suddenly struck with paralysis. After
enduring long and excruciating pain, he died a miserable death.
Following his death, his office was permanently abolished in
Tabriz. The very name of the
institution which had been associated with his name became abhorred
by the people and was used as an insult.[F15] The king himself,
Muhammad Shah, did not escape this retribution. He had been weak
enough to listen to the promptings of the Prime Minister and had
refused to meet the Bab, in spite of His personal letter,
requesting such an audience. The king instead had banished the Bab
to a remote mountain prison. No sooner had he agreed to issue that
order than he was afflicted with an abrupt reversal of fortune.
Several parts of his kingdom broke out in revolt. His health
declined rapidly. Finally, at the early age of forty, he fell a
victim to a complication of maladies which the Bab had foretold
would in the end devour him. The Prime Minister, Haji Mirza Aqasi,
who had been the chief conspirator in the outrages committed
against the Bab, was made the major target of this avenging wrath.
Scarcely a year and six months from the moment he first came
between the Bab and the king and prevented their meeting, he was
hurled from power. While the Bab was still in the prison to which
Haji Mirza Aqasi had condemned Him, and from which He had sent the
"Sermon of Wrath," the Prime Minister was dismissed in disgrace
from his post. He was stripped of all his dishonestly acquired
property and riches. C. R. Markham's History of Persia says, "Haji
Mirza Aqasi, the half-crazy old Prime Minister ... was sedulously
collecting wealth for himself at Tihran, at the expense of the
wretched country. The governorships of provinces were sold to the
highest bidder, who oppressed the people in a fearful manner."[F16]
When knowledge of the enormity of his graft and thefts became
known, he had to flee for shelter from the anger of his countrymen.
Haji Mirza Aqasi had expelled the Bab from His home and banished
Him to a far place, now he, in turn was expelled from his native
country and banished to Iraq where he fell a victim to disease and
sorrow. "Gnawing grief sickened his life," says the Journal
Asiatique.[F17] History has recorded these words of the last days
of Haji Mirza Aqasi: "He met his death in circumstances of abject
poverty and unspeakable distress."[F18]
The new ruler was the seventeen-year-old Nasiri'd-Din Shah. Haji
Mirza Aqasi was toppled from power. The new Prime Minister was
Mirza Taqi Khan. The young king was even less friendly than his
father. The new Prime Minister was more iron-hearted in his rule,
and his hatred for the Bab was more implacable than that of Haji
Mirza Aqasi. He unchained a combined assault by the civil and
religious powers against the Bab and His leading disciples. He was
determined not to make the mistake of the former Prime Minister and
wait too long. The news of the Bab's triumph over His examiners at
Tabriz spread rapidly throughout all of Persia. It awakened new
zeal in the hearts of His supporters. They redoubled their
efforts to spread His teachings. It enkindled a corresponding
reaction among His enemies. Encouraged by the new Prime Minister,
persecutions unprecedented in their violence swept over the
nation, engulfing the staunchest of the Bab's followers. This
brief but triumphant period may well be called the bloodiest and
most dramatic in the rise of His Faith. No story of the life of the
Bab would be complete unless it told about His disciples who
sacrificed everything in life, proving their
love and devotion for His Cause. Some preceded the Bab in death,
some followed shortly after. Almost every one of His chief
followers was struck down during this raging period of persecution.
Quddus was imprisoned in the town of Sari, and Mulla Husayn set out
to rescue him. A messenger had come from the Bab to Mulla Husayn
bearing the Bab's turban. "Adorn your head with My green
turban,..." the message said, "and with the Black Standard unfurled
before you, hasten to lend your assistance to My beloved Quddus."
Mulla Husayn immediately left the province of Khurasan and headed
for Sari. His small party marched under a black banner which Mulla
Husayn raised up so that all who wished to join him would know that
these were followers of the Bab. That emblem waved continuously
over his small band for eleven months. It summoned all who gazed
upon it to renounce the world and embrace the Cause of God. This
was the same standard prophesied for the last days: "Should your
eyes behold the Black Standards proceeding from Khurasan, hasten
ye toward them, even thou ye should have to crawl over the snow,
inasmuch as they proclaim the advent of the Promised [One], the
Viceregent of God."[F1] Mulla Husayn and his party arrived at a
junction on the highroad to Mazindaran. They encamped under the
shadow of a big tree by a running stream. "We stand at the parting
of the ways," he told his companions. "We shall wait here for some
sign telling us which road to take." One day a fierce gale arose
and struck down a large branch from the big tree. Mulla Husayn,
watching, observed: "The tree of the sovereignty of Muhammad Shah
has been uprooted and hurled to the ground." On the third day after
he had uttered that prediction, a messenger arrived from Tihran
reporting the death of the king. The following day Mulla Husayn
gathered his companions and pointed in the direction of Mazindaran
and Sari. "This is the way that leads to our martyrdom," he said.
"Whoever is unprepared, let him return home now. I, together with
seventy-two of my companions, shall suffer death for the sake of
the Bab. Whoever is unable to renounce the world, let him at this
very moment depart, for later on he will be unable to escape."
Twenty chose to return, feeling themselves powerless to with-
stand the trials to which Mulla Husayn continually alluded. The
others approached the town of Barfurush. The news of their coming
alarmed the Sa`idu'l-`Ulama, the chief religious leader of that
city. Nicolas says in his history that all the clerics of
Barfurush were filled with hate for the followers of the Bab
because of the many conversions which Quddus had been able to make
in their city, as many as three hundred in one week.[F2] The
Sa`idu'l-`Ulama told the town crier to summon all the people to
the mosque at once. When an immense throng had gathered, he
ascended to the pulpit. He flung his turban to the ground, tore
open the neck of his shirt, and angrily began to incite the people
to arise against Mulla Husayn and his party. "Awake!" he thundered.
"Our enemies are at our very doors. Let both young and old arm
themselves against these wreckers of our Faith. Tomorrow, at the
hour of dawn, let all arise and march out to exterminate their
forces." The entire congregation arose in response to his appeal
and made every preparation for the dawn, arming themselves with any
weapon they could find or devise. The next morning immediately
after offering his morning prayers, Mulla Husayn called his
companions together and told them to discard all their
possessions. "Leave behind all your possessions," he urged them.
"Content yourselves with only your steeds and your swords, so that
all may witness your abandonment of all earthly things. Then may
they realize that this little band of God's chosen companions has
no desire to safeguard its own property, much less covet the
property of others." Instantly all obeyed. They unburdened their
steeds without a word. A prominent merchant, who had joined the
band at Nishipur, had brought with him a satchel full of very
precious turquoise. Yet, at a word from Mulla Husayn, he was the
first to cast aside his treasure as an example to the others. He
hurled it into a ditch without a backward glance. A short distance
from Barfurush, Mulla Husayn and his companions encountered a
multitude of people who blocked their way along the road to Sari.
In the face of the uproar from this angry populace, some of the
companions began to unsheathe their swords. "No," Mulla Husayn
told them. "Not yet. Not until the aggressor
forces us to protect ourselves must our swords leave their
scabbards." The mob armed with knives, clubs, axes, guns, swords
and every conceivable weapon moved forward toward that small group.
They had set out from Barfurush at the break of day determined to
meet and slay Mulla Husayn's party, and to plunder their
possessions. The Sa`idu'l-`Ulama had remained behind in the safety
of his home after urging the others to attack. This was but one of
a series of such onslaughts which were taking place throughout the
country, all encouraged by the Prime Minister, Mirza Taqi Khan.
The following historical account indicates the gravity of the
situation: "The minister with the utmost arbitrariness, without
receiving any instructions or asking any permission, sent forth
commands in all directions to punish and chastise the Babis
[followers of the Bab]. Governors and magistrates sought a pretext
for amassing wealth, and officials a means of acquiring profits;
celebrated doctors [of religion] from the summits of their pulpits
incited men to make a general onslaught; the powers of the
religious and civil law linked hands and strove to eradicate and
destroy this people."[F3] This was to be the first of three
occasions on which the followers of the Bab withdrew to a chosen
retreat, erected defenses, and defied further pursuit. They would
fight for their lives with determined skill and strength; but they
would not attack. Even in the midst of a fierce conflict they
would not drive home an advantage or strike an unnecessary
blow.[F4] Browne, in his Year Among the Persians, says that on one
of these occasions even the women took part, and when their
shelter was attacked, like the Carthaginian women of old, they cut
off their long hair and bound it around their make-shift weapons
to afford them the necessary support. "The desperate resistance
offered by the [followers of the Bab] must therefore," he says, "be
attributed less to the strength of the position which they occupied
than to the valor with which they defended themselves."[F5]
Separated as they were from their imprisoned leader, the Bab, His
followers did not yet understand His clear teaching on the matter
of physical violence and warfare. Therefore, they followed after
the pattern of their previous religious teaching: do not attack,
but defend. In the book A Traveller's Narrative, edited by
Professor E. G. Browne of Cambridge University, it states: "In
towns where
these [followers of the Bab] were but a limited number, all of them
with bound hands became food for the sword, while in cities where
they were numerous they arose in self-defense in accordance with
their former beliefs, since it was impossible for them to make
enquiry as to their duty."[F6] His followers had not yet read the
Bab's words: "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
Bay n [the Bab's Book and symbol of His followers], and no sin can
be greater for him than this."[F7] As the huge crowd moved
menacingly toward them at Barfurush, Mulla Husayn's companions
pleaded with him. "Allow us to defend ourselves." "Not yet," Mulla
Husayn replied. The mob poured down upon that small group and as
they neared opened fire. Six of the defenseless party were struck
down by the first blast. Mulla Husayn's companions were impatient.
"We have risen and followed you," they said, "with no other thought
than to sacrifice our lives in the path of God. But we pray you,
allow us to defend ourselves so that we do not fall disgracefully
before this savage mob." Mulla Husayn was still patient, hoping
there might be found some way to avoid this bloodshed. A bullet
struck his nearest companion, Siyyid Rid , in the chest and killed
him instantly. Rid was a man of humble and loving disposition.
His devotion to the Bab was deep and sincere. He had walked on
foot beside Mulla Husayn all the way from Khurasan. At the sight
of this much-loved companion fallen dead at his feet, Mulla Husayn
could no longer remain silent. "O God," he cried out. "Behold the
plight of my companions! Witness the welcome which these people
have given us. Thou knowest that we cherish no other desire than
to guide them to the way of Truth." Unsheathing his sword, Mulla
Husayn spurred on his horse as the attack of the mob was unleashed
in full force. He commanded his followers to defend themselves.
On the plain of Barfurush the words which the Bab had spoken to
Mulla Husayn at Mahku began to come true: "Your days of
horsemanship are yet to come. You are destined to exhibit such
courage, skill and heroism as will eclipse the mightiest deeds of
the heroes of old." Mulla Husayn struck terror into the hearts of
that unruly mob. One of the killers took refuge behind a small
tree. He held his musket in front of his body to shield himself
as Mulla Husayn swept down upon him. Mulla Husayn recognized him
as the slayer of Rid , his friend. Mulla Husayn rushed on and,
with a single sweeping slash of his sword, he cut through the trunk
of the tree, through the musket, and severed the body of his enemy
in two. The historian Nicolas states that "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." He adds: "The Muslims
themselves do not question the authenticity of this anecdote."[F8]
One of the enemies of Mulla Husayn on that day has recorded his
impression of that dreadful attack: "Then I saw Mulla Husayn
unsheathe his sword and raise his face toward heaven ... `Now have
they made it our duty to protect ourselves,' he said. 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 clove him and the tree and the musket into six pieces."[F9] The
outstanding force of that blow ended the opposition. The mob fled
in panic, crying "Peace! Peace!" Mulla Husayn forced his way
through the ranks of that retreating mob, unmindful of the bullets
that rained about him as he passed. He galloped his horse toward
Barfurush. He rode straight to the residence of the
Sa`idu'l-`Ulama. Three times Mulla Husayn circled the house
calling for him to come out. "Let that contemptible coward emerge
from his inglorious retreat," he cried out. "Has he forgotten that
the one who preaches holy war must himself march at the head of his
followers and by his own deeds sustain their enthusiasm?" Peace
was at last restored. Mulla Husayn addressed the people of
Barfurush. "What have we done that you should arise against us?
Why should you think it meritorious in the sight of God to shed our
blood? Have we ever spoken one word against the truth of your
Faith? Is this the hospitality which your own Prophet, Muhammad,
has commanded you to show to believer and unbeliever alike? Mulla
Husayn shamed them with his words, then he assembled his companions
and they continued on their way toward Sari and the rescue of
Quddus. The Sa`idu'l-`Ulama came out of hiding as soon as Mulla
Husayn departed with his friends. He immediately planned an attack
upon them at the place where they had encamped for the night at the
Subzih-Maydan caravanserai. That evening at sunset, Mulla Husayn
gathered his companions together. "Is there one among you," he
asked, "who is willing to arise and risk his life for the sake of
God and ascend to the roof of the caravanserai and sound the call
to prayer?" In this way, Mulla Husayn told them, they would
demonstrate to the people that they were not enemies, but friends;
that they were lovers of Islam. A youth gladly responded. No
sooner had the melodious words of "God is great!" echoed over the
countryside than a bullet struck him, killing him instantly. "Let
another arise," Mulla Husayn urged them, "and, with the selfsame
renunciation, proceed with the prayer which that youth was unable
to finish." Another young man mounted to the roof and began to
chant the words: "I bear witness that Muhammad is the Apostle of
God!" His testimony was cut short by another bullet which struck
him down. Although Muhammad, Himself, had commanded that everyone
should "Honor thy guest though he be an infidel," still these
companions who were lodged for the night in the village
caravanserai were being slain for observing out of respect and love
His sacred call to prayer. Mulla Husayn entreated them to show
their loyalty and thus expose the unfaithfulness of those who were
attacking them. A third youth, at the bidding of Mulla Husayn,
attempted to complete the prayer which his two martyred companions
had left unfinished. He, too, suffered the same fate. As he
approached the end of his prayer, and with power and vigor called
out the words, "There is no God but God," he in his turn, fell
dead. Such ruthless behavior impelled Mulla Husayn to throw open
gates of the caravanserai. He leaped onto his horse, gave the
signal to charge, and at the head of his companions he swept out
upon the assailants who had been massing before the gates. They
fled before the fury of his onslaught. It was the story of
Barfurush repeated: again the enemy fled in panic, again they
pleaded for peace, again they implored for mercy. This was to be
the first in a series of such encounters which were to last for
nearly a year. The believers met every attack with a
counter-attack and time after time humiliated their opponents.
They would rally to the encouraging cry of Mulla Husayn, which all
took up in turn: "Mount your steeds, O heroes of God!" Mulla Husayn
and his companions finally arrived at the small shrine Shaykh
Tabarsi about fourteen miles from Barfurush. They hoped that by
withdrawing, the onslaught against them might cease, and that after
a reasonable time they might be permitted to go on their way to
Sari in peace. The Sa`idu'l-`Ulama rejoiced. He felt that he had
his hated enemies trapped at last. He vowed they would never
escape. He called upon the government to help him annihilate them.
The night preceding the arrival of Mulla Husayn and his companions
at the fort of Shaykh Tabarsi, the keeper of the shrine had a
strange dream. He saw a holy man with seventy warriors and many
companions arrive at Tabarsi. He dreamed that they remained in
that place and engaged in the most heroic of battles, triumphing
over the forces against them, and that finally, the Prophet of God
Himself arrived one night to speak with them. When Mulla Husayn
arrived the next day, the keeper recognized him and told him of
his dream. Mulla Husayn replied: "All that you witnessed will come
to pass. Those glorious scenes of your dream will soon be enacted
before your eyes." The keeper threw in his lot with Mulla Husayn
and the heroic defenders of what came to be known as the fort
Shaykh Tabarsi. Realizing that they would never be set free, but
that orders had been issued to exterminate them, Mulla Husayn and
his companions erected defenses about Tabarsi to help protect
themselves. Mulla Husayn was feeling very sad because of his
failure to reach Sari and rescue Quddus, when word came that Quddus
was approaching the fort. The messengers Mulla Husayn had sent to
Sari were successful in securing his release from the official in
whose home he had been held captive. Inside this fort the followers
of the Bab were to hold out against assault, starvation, and
treachery; they would outwit and outfight the entire army of the
king; this God-intoxicated handful would be pitted against a
trained army, well equipped, supported by the masses of the people,
blessed by the clergy, headed by a prince of royal blood, backed
by the resources of the state, and acting with the enthusiastic
support of the king himself. When Quddus entered the fort, he asked
Mulla Husayn to determine the exact number of the assembled
companions. One by one Mulla Husayn counted them off as they
passed in through the gate: three hundred and twelve in all. He
was on his way to make his report to Quddus when a young man who
had come on foot from Barfurush rushed through the gate and begged
to be allowed to join them. Thus, the number reported to Quddus
was exactly three hundred and thirteen. Quddus said to them:
"Whatever the tongue of the Prophet of God has spoken concerning
the Promised One must needs be fulfilled." Then the companions were
reminded of the prophecy given for this day, that "the assembling
of three hundred and thirteen chosen supporters" would be yet
another proof which would herald the coming of the Promised One on
earth.[F10] The fury of the Sa`idu'l-`Ulama of Barfurush was
increased when the news of Quddus' presence in the fort reached
him. Impelled by an implacable hatred, he sent a burning appeal
to the king. "A revolt has taken place," he told the Shah. "This
wretched band of agitators strikes at the very foundation of your
kingdom. They have built a fort, and in that massive stronghold
they have entrenched themselves, preparing to direct a campaign
which will sweep you from your throne. What greater triumph could
begin your new rule than to wipe out this hateful group which has
dared to conspire against you. Should you fail to rise against
them, I feel it my duty to warn you that the day is fast
approaching when not only this province, but the whole of Persia
will have cast aside your authority and surrendered to their
cause."[F11] The king was alarmed and responded by sending an army
of twelve thousand men to drive this small band from the fort of
Tabarsi and to destroy them all. Food and water were cut off from
them and soon the companions were reduced to grave conditions. The
army was installed upon a hill overlooking the fort. As Quddus
stood with Mulla Husayn watching the army of the king, he said,
"The scarcity of water has distressed our compani0ns. 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
planned attack." That night as the great mass of soldiers prepared
to launch an assault upon the fort, a torrential rain overtook
them. It ruined their ammunition. They broke ranks and took
shelter, abandoning all plans of attack. Rainwater was quickly
gathered inside the fort to quench the thirst of the friends. The
following historical record of that period has been preserved: "A
snowfall such as the people in the neighborhood even in the depths
of winter had never experienced added considerably to the annoyance
which the rain caused." These storms brought hardship and ruin to
the camp of the king's soldiers, but refreshment to the fort. One
of the most memorable encounters took place one morning just before
dawn. The companions were sorely distressed and constantly harried
by the outright attacks as well as by the snipers. One morning the
gates of the fort were thrown open to meet an attack. "Mount your
steeds, O heroes of God!" came the command from Mulla Husayn. This
stirring call rallied all hearts. Preceded by Quddus, they rushed
full charge toward the stronghold of the prince, the leader of the
army of the king. Mulla Husayn thrust his way right into the royal
quarters. The prince had already thrown himself from a back window
into the moat, and had escaped barefooted, leaving the army
bewildered and routed by a handful of Mulla Husayn's companions.
Comte de Gobineau in his account states that "in a few moments his
[the prince's] 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?" In the prince's quarters, the companions found
coffers filled with gold and silver. They looked at them, then
left them behind, taking only the abandoned sword of the prince
which they gave to Mulla Husayn whose own sword had been struck by
a bullet.
A detachment of soldiers, meanwhile, surrounded Quddus and fired
a volley at him, wounding him in the mouth and throat. Mulla
Husayn rushed to his aid. He seized the sword of Quddus, and
brandishing this blade in one hand and the captured sword of the
prince in the other, he attacked the enemy and aided by one hundred
and ten of his fellow disciples, put the soldiers to flight.
Quddus recovered from his wound, minimizing its importance. Every
time the enemy was routed, Quddus would remind the companions of
their real purpose. "We have repulsed them," he said, "no need
to carry the punishment further. Our purpose is to protect
ourselves in the hope that God may enable us to continue our work
of teaching and regenerating the hearts of men. We have no
intention whatever of causing unnecessary harm to any one."
Repeatedly the companions of Mulla Husayn and Quddus tried to
persuade their enemies to permit them to go on their way without
the shedding of further blood. Even one of the leaders of the
king's army has testified to this. When questioned at a later date
by Prince Ahmad Mirza about Tabarsi and Mulla Husayn, `Abbas-Quli
Khan gave this account: "One day Mulla Husayn stood forth in the
open field, and leaning upon 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
toward 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 out his voice. Again I saw him lean on his lance
and cry: `Is there anyone who will help me?' Three times, so that
all heard his cry. At this 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 toward 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."[F12] Mulla Husayn was slain during the course of the
struggle to defend the fort of Tabarsi. True to his forecast, he
fell a victim to the enemy fire, along with seventy-two of his
friends. The scarcity of water compelled the companions to dig a
inside the fort. Mulla Husayn, who was watching the completion,
said with a smile, "Today we shall have all the water we require
for our bath. Cleansed of all earthly defilements, we shall seek
the court of the Almighty. Whoso is willing to join me, let him
prepare himself to partake of the cup of martyrdom ere dawn." That
afternoon he had washed himself thoroughly, clothed himself with
freshly washed garments, and placed the Bab's green turban upon his
head. A great happiness appeared to surround him. He spent a long
time in conversation with Quddus. He visited with each one of his
companions that evening, cheering them and encouraging their
hearts. Soon after midnight, the morning star appeared in the
skies. Mulla Husayn, gazing at it, recognized it as a star that
"heralded the dawn of reunion with his Beloved." He mounted his
charger and ordered that the gate of the fort be thrown open. He
rode out at the head of his companions, to cry: "O Lord of the
Age!" So intense and powerful was this shout in praise of the Bab
that forest, fort, and camp vibrated to its resounding echo. Mulla
Husayn charged the barricades from behind which the army planned
to launch their most concentrated offensive. One after the other
he crushed his way through them until all seven of the barricades
had fallen. His gallantry and courage were never greater, but his
days of horsemanship and heroism were now at an end. With victory
complete, Mulla Husayn's steed became entangled in the rope of a
tent. Before he could free himself, he was struck in the breast
by a bullet which had been fired from the ambush of a neighboring
tree. One of the leaders of the enemy, `Abbas-Quli Khan, had fled
and hidden in the sheltering branches rather than face the attack
of Mulla Husayn. Seeing him in distress, he fired the fatal shot.
Mulla Husayn dismounted, staggered a few steps, then fell exhausted
to the ground, unconscious. Two of his companions bore him back
to the fort. Quddus said, "Leave me alone with him." The friends
retired. One of them standing near the door heard Quddus speak
gently to Mulla Husayn with the greatest love. "You have hastened
the hour of your departure, and have
abandoned me to the mercy of my foes. Please God I will ere long
join you and taste the sweetness of heaven." What a short time had
passed since that night in Shiraz when the Bab had spoken to Mulla
Husayn, saying : "O thou who art the first to believe in Me,
verily, I say I am the Bab, the Gate of God." On that
never-to-be-forgotten night, the Bab had called upon all men to
awake! teach the Word of God! quicken the souls of men! Now Mulla
Husayn lay dying in the fort of Tabarsi. His last words, addressed
to Quddus were directed beyond him to the Beloved of his heart, the
Bab. Softly, he said, "Are you pleased with me?" Quddus opened
the door and came out to the companions of Mulla Husayn. "I have
bade my last farewell to him," he said. They knew then that Mulla
Husayn was dead. They entered to say farewell, moved to tears by
the faint smile of happiness that still lingered upon his face.
Such was the peacefulness of his countenance, that he seemed to
have fallen asleep.[F13] Quddus attended to the burial. He clothed
Mulla Husayn in his own shirt and gave instructions to bury him in
a spot adjoining the Shrine at the fort of Tabarsi. A Traveller's
Narrative says that "his mortal remains still repose in the little
inner room of the Shrine of Shaykh Tabarsi where, at the direction
of [Quddus], they were reverently laid by the hands of his
sorrowing comrades in the beginning of the year A.D. 1849."[F14]
As Quddus placed Mulla Husayn's body in its last resting place, he
said: "I pray God to grant that no division ever be caused between
you and me." In every encounter, Mulla Husayn had distinguished
himself by acts of valor and chivalry. His great learning, his
high sense of justice, his tenacity of faith, and his unswerving
devotion to God marked him as an outstanding figure among those
who have borne witness to the power of the Faith of the Bab. The
historian Gobineau said of him, "At last, 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 [opposing forces]
naturally feel a hatred for the memory of this leader, which is as
deep as the love and veneration shown for him by the [followers of
the Bab].[F15] The Christian clergyman, Dr. T. K. Cheyne, wrote,
"Frail of form, but a gallant soldier and an impassioned lover of
God, he [Mulla
Husayn] combined the qualities and characteristics ... seldom found
united in the same person."[F16] The death of Mulla Husayn caused
inexpressible sorrow to the Bab, a sorrow that gave rise to
eulogies and prayers equivalent to thrice the volume of the Qur'an.
In one of His prayers, the Bab declared that the very dust of the
ground where the remains of Mulla Husayn lie buried is endowed with
such a potency as to bring joy to the disconsolate and healing to
the sick.[F17] That great Figure (Baha'u'llah) Whose coming the Bab
unceasingly proclaimed, wrote at a later date, that but for Mulla
Husayn the Cause of God would not have been established. Mulla
Husayn was thirty-six when he was slain. After his burial Quddus
gave instructions to inter the bodies of the thirty-six who had
fallen with him that night in one and the same grave near the
shrine. "Let the loved ones of God," Quddus said, as they were
lowered into the earth, "take heed of the example of these martyrs
of our Faith. Let them be as united in life as these are now in
death." Quddus was now in sole command of those in the fort. When
their supply of provisions was nearly exhausted, Quddus
distributed the last of the rice among them, and warned them of the
hardships that lay ahead. "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.
The way will soon be barred before our faces, and we shall fall a
victim to devastating afflictions." The very night Quddus gave this
warning, one fearful soul betrayed his companions. He wrote a
letter to `Abbas-Quli Khan, the king's general, informing him that
Mulla Husayn was dead. "He was the pillar upon which the strength
and security of the fort depended. They are worn with famine and
are being grievously treated." The letter was carried by a
messenger, who, with his share of the rice given to him by Quddus,
stole out of the fort during the night. The welcome news of the
death of Mulla Husayn nerved `Abbas-Quli Khan to a fresh attack.
Fearing that the messenger might spread the report of Mulla
Husayn's death and thus rob him of some of the glory of victory,
he killed him instantly. He massed his
soldiers for an advance and, at the head of two detachments, he had
the fort surrounded. Quddus understood at once what had happened.
"A betrayer has announced the death of Mulla Husayn," he said.
"Sally out and administer a befitting chastisement." Nineteen of
the companions plunged headlong into the ranks of the enemy. They
were pitted against no less than two regiments of infantry and
Calvary. They counter-attacked with such fury that `Abbas-Quli
Khan, the slayer of Mulla Husayn, became terrified and fell from
his horse. In his panic and haste, he left one of his boots
hanging from the stirrup. He ran away half-shod and thoroughly
frightened. He fled to the prince and confessed the ignominious
reverse he had suffered a5t the hands of those nineteen companions
of Mulla Husayn. This same `Abbas-Quli Khan later wrote of these
defenders of Tabarsi: "In truth, I know not what had been shown
unto these people, or what they had seen, that they came forth to
battle with such alacrity and joy. The imagination of man cannot
conceive the vehemence of their courage and valor." Gobineau
reports that the army "built large towers as high as the various
levels of the fortress or higher and, through a continuous plunging
fire, they rendered the circulation of [followers of the Bab]
within their fort extremely dangerous ... but in a few days,
[they], taking advantage of the long nights, raised their
fortifications so that their height exceeded that of the attacking
towers of the enemy."[F18] "Exasperated by these evidences of
unquenchable fervor, the commanding officer erected a great tower
upon which he placed his biggest cannon, and directed his fire into
the heart of the fort. "The faithful seeing this," an historical
document tells us, "began to dig subterranean passages and 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 those poor sufferers dwelt amidst mud and
water till their garments rotted away with damp."[F19] Outraged
at their failure to conquer this pitiful band of untrained
students, the leading officers of the army, under the command of
the prince, gathered a huge force and constructed trenches and
barricades. They brought up more cannon and cannon-balls.
They hurled flaming projectiles into the fort and gave orders to
begin a heavy bombardment. Gobineau states in his book, "In a very
short time, the outer defenses of the fortress were dismantled;
nothing was left of them but falling girders, smoked and burning
timbers, and scattered stones."[F20] While the bombardment was in
progress, Quddus emerged from his shelter and walked to the center
of the fort. His manner was one of the greatest tranquility. A
cannon-ball fell suddenly into the fort. It embedded itself in the
earth before him, then rolled free. It came to a stop in front of
him. Calmly Quddus placed his foot on it and rolled it back and
forth. "How utterly unaware," he said, "are these boastful
aggressors of the power of God's avenging wrath. Do they seek to
intimidate the heroes of God, in whose sight the power of kings is
but an empty shadow?" Quddus turned to his friends. "Beware," he
cautioned them, "lest fear and selfishness steal away your glorious
station. Each one of you has his appointed hour, and when that
hour is come neither the assault of the enemy nor the pleading of
your friends will be able to retard or advance it. If you allow
your hearts to be frightened by the booming of these guns which
with increasing violence will shower their projectiles on this
fort, you will have cast yourselves out of the stronghold of God's
protection." This appeal breathed much-needed confidence into every
heart, for their troubles were mounting. Their food was at last
reduced to the flesh of the horses they had brought away from the
camp of the enemy. Later they had to content themselves with grass
snatched from the ground. Finally, they consumed the bark of trees
and the leather of their saddles, their belts, their scabbards,
and their shoes. They even subsisted on the ground bones of the
horses fallen in battle. For eighteen days their only sustenance
was a mouthful of water each morning. "God knows," one of the
survivors has testified, "that we had ceased to hunger for food."
Quddus quickened their enthusiasm and brightened their hopes each
day at sunrise and at sunset, by telling of the beauty and
greatness of the Bab. Many lost their lives, but the dwindling
band still remained unconquered. Their actions fulfilled several
prophecies which foretold of the coming of God's Prophet in the
last days. One of the most
significant spoke of the "halting of those who had believed in the
Lord about Tabarsi, and their martyrdom."[F21] The young king at
last grew impatient. "An army which we thought could fight a lion
or a whale cannot fight a handful of weak and defenseless men," he
said. "It has achieved nothing!" He and his Prime Minister, Mirza
Taqi Khan, burst forth against their army leaders. In the most
bitter terms they accused them of rank incompetency. They
threatened to punish them with the same treatment which had been
planned for the followers of the Bab. The king, in his anxiety and
anger, threatened the lives of every person in the province around
the fort of Shaykh Tabarsi. "I shall exterminate them to the last
man!" he said. The prince and `Abbas-Quli Khan knew it was useless
to try and explain to an angry king that although the defenders of
the fort were not professional soldiers, it had proved impossible
to force their surrender. `Abbas-Quli Khan himself expressed this
dilemma by admitting in his own words that the companions of Quddus
were: "Scholars and men of learning ... strangers to the roar of
the cannon, the rattle of musketry, and the field of battle ...
Notwithstanding this, it seemed as if in time of battle a new
spirit were breathed into their frames ... the imagination of man
cannot conceive the vehemence of their courage and valor. 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.[F22] The prince was
informed of the threats which the king had made. He was afraid
that any further delay in subduing Quddus and his companions might
result in the loss of his prestige, perhaps his own life.
Therefore, he resorted to treachery. He despaired of conquering,
so he conceived a plan of betrayal. The prince sent a Qur'an to
Quddus and swore by that Holy Book that he would set free all the
defenders of the fort and permit them to go their way. They would
not even be molested, the prince promised. He himself, at his own
expense, he vowed, would arrange for their safe departure with
honor to their homes. Quddus received the Book, kissed it
reverently, and quoted from the sacred words: "O our Lord, decide
between us and between our people with truth; for the best to
decide art Thou." Then he read the pledge, and assembled his
companions. "Prepare to leave the fort,"
he said. "By our response to their oath, we shall test the
sincerity of their intentions." At the gate of the fort, they
mounted the horses which were to take them to the camp of the
prince. A dinner was placed before Quddus and his starving
friends. He refused to touch it, knowing that the hour of death
was upon him. The prince repeated his promise: "My oath is
irrevocable and sacred," he said. One of the companions whispered
to Quddus, "I am of the opinion that what his tongue professes, his
heart does not believe at all." Quddus, who shared this view, told
his companions to disperse that very night before it was too late.
They implored him not to send them away from his side. "Weep not,"
was his final word, "the reunion which will follow this separation
will endure eternally. We now commit our Cause to the care of
God." This was the final scene of that somber tragedy at Tabarsi.
The prince violated his sacred pledge. Quddus and his companions
were seized, stripped of their meager possessions, and some were
sold as slaves. Others were slain outright, killed by the spears
and swords of the officers who were hungry for revenge. One account
states, "the whole world marvelled at the manner of their
sacrifice ... their deeds ... their fortitude and bodily
endurance."[F23] No less than nine of the Bab's first eighteen
disciples, known as the Letters of the Living, fell in this
disaster. The historian Nicolas speaks of the futile attempt of the
civil and religious authorities to erase all trace of that gallant
spot. "All the fortifications constructed by the followers of the
Bab, " he says, "were razed to the ground, and even the ground was
leveled to remove any evidence of the heroic defense of those who
had died for their Faith. They imagined that this would silence
history." Quddus was bound with chains and taken by the prince on
foot to Barfurush, the city of the cowardly high-priest, the
Sa`idu'l-`Ulama. Barfurush was also the city in which Quddus had
been born. The Sa`idu'l-`Ulama was not afraid now to come out of
his home. With all the religious leaders of Barfurush, he went to
welcome the prince, and to extend his congratulations on their
return. The entire town was hung with flags to celebrate the
victory. Bonfires blazed at night. Three days of festivities took
place. The prince gave no indication to the high-priest as to what
was to be done with Quddus. The prince himself was extremely
reluctant to ill-treat his captive further. He had captured Quddus
by treachery, but now that his prestige was secure, he did not wish
any further shame to be attached to his share in this hateful
episode. The prince made up his mind to conduct Quddus to Tihran
and deliver him into the hands of the king. This, he felt, would
relieve him of the responsibility of deciding Quddus' fate. What
was more important, it would also bring additional honors to him
along the route of march. However, the unquenchable hostility of
the high-priest interfered with this plan. When the high-priest
saw that Quddus might slip from his grasp, he appealed to the mob
once more, as he had appealed to them on that first day when Mulla
Husayn and his companions had appeared on the plain of Barfurush.
He encouraged their basest sentiments. He whipped them into a
frenzy. The whole of Barfurush was aroused by the persistency and
viciousness of his call to action. "I have vowed to deny myself
both food and sleep," he cried from the pulpit, "until such a time
as I am able to end the life of Quddus with my own hands." The
crowd rallied around him and became so ugly that the prince feared
that his own safety might be in danger. He summoned all the
priests of Barfurush in to consult upon measures to quiet and
restrain the populace. Quddus was also summoned into their
presence. At that moment, the prince realized that the hatred of
the entire city was solidly against him. He sighed, and spoke words
reminiscent of those of Pontius Pilate: "I wash my hands of all
responsibility for any harm that may befall this man. You are free
to do what you wish with him. You will yourselves be answerable
to God on the day of Judgement." As soon as he had spoken these
words, the prince surrendered Quddus into the hands of the chief
priest. He mounted his horse and as his final act of cowardice,
fled from the city, turning his back upon Quddus. There was now no
restraint upon the people. They pounced upon Quddus with
uncontrolled violence. He was stripped of his clothes. He was
paraded through the streets barefooted, bareheaded, and
loaded down with chains. He was followed each step of the way by
a howling mob. They jeered at him, spat upon him, and flung refuse
at him. Amidst his last tortures, Quddus asked the pardon of God
for his persecutors. "Forgive the trespasses of these people, O
God," he cried. "Deal with them in Thy mercy, for they do not know
the secret we have already discovered. Show them the way of Truth,
O God, and turn their ignorance into faith." In his hour of agony,
one of the traitors who had deserted the fort passed Quddus. He
saw how helpless Quddus now was. Emboldened, he came forward and
struck him in the face. "If what you speak is of God," he scoffed,
"free yourself." Quddus looked quietly into his eyes. "May God
forgive you your deed," he said, "inasmuch as you have added to the
measure of my suffering." When the family of Quddus heard of his
agonies, they recalled the prophetic words he had spoken to them
many years before in that same city. His step-mother, who had been
kind and loving to him, had urged him to marry. "I long to witness
your nuptials," she told him, "but I fear this longing will always
remain unfulfilled." Quddus replied: "The day of my wedding 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 public square before the gaze of the great
multitude, I shall celebrate my nuptials and witness the
fulfillment of all my hopes." Now that promise had come true. As
he approached the public square, Quddus remembered those long-ago
tender years, and the words he had spoken. He raised his voice.
"Would that my mother were with me now, and could see the splendor
of my nuptials!" In the middle of the night, a devoted friend
gathered what still remained of Quddus' burned and mutilated body.
He buried them in a place not far from the scene of his martyrdom.
Nabil in his history declares that the story of Mulla Husayn,
Quddus, and the defense of the fort of Tabarsi "must ever remain
as one of the most moving episodes of modern times."[F24] The words
spoken by Quddus in the fort of Tabarsi now made themselves felt,
fulfilling his prediction: "How utterly unaware are these boastful
aggressors of the power of God's avenging wrath." After the passing
of but a short time, the Sa`idu'l-Ulama was
struck down by the same fate that had crushed Husayn Khan, Mirza
`Ali-Asghar, Muhammad Shah, and Haji Mirza Aqasi. Thus still
another leader in the plot against the Bab and His followers was
seized in the grip of destruction. He became afflicted with a
strange disease for which there was no cure. In spite of the furs
which he wore, in spite of the fire which burned constantly in his
room, he could never become warm. Even as he trembled with the
cold, his fever was so high that nothing could quench his burning
thirst. He died of his illness, and his beautiful house was
abandoned until it crumbled into ruins. Little by little the
practice grew of dumping refuse upon the site where it had once so
proudly stood. Nicolas points out in his history, "This so
impressed the people [of that district] that when they quarrel
among themselves, the final insult frequently is, `May thy house
meet the same fate as the house of the Sa`idu'l-Ulama!'"[F25] The
news of the tragic fate which had overtaken the heroes of Tabarsi
reached the Bab in His prison at Chihriq. It brought great sadness
to His heart. He penned a eulogy in honor of Quddus and Mulla
Husayn. In it He wrote that He, too, would soon join these twin
immortals; each of whom by his life and his death had shed
imperishable luster on the Faith of God. He instructed one of His
followers to visit Tabarsi and Barfurush. "Arise," He said, "and
... in the guise of a traveler, ... visit on My behalf, the spot
which enshrines [their ] bodies. ... 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 Husayn.
Strive to be back ere the day of Naw-Ruz [New Year] that you may
celebrate with Me that festival, the only one I probably shall ever
see again."[F26]
A WONDER AMONG WOMEN One of the most courageous of all the
followers of the Bab was a woman. She was among His chosen
disciples. She was known as Tahirih, which means "The Pure One."
The members of her family ranked high among the religious leaders
of Persia. Her father was one of the most famous of all. From her
earliest childhood, she was regarded by her fellow-townsmen as a
prodigy. Her knowledge and gifts were so outstanding that her
father often was heard to lament, "Would that she had been born a
boy, for he would have shed illumination upon my household, and
would have succeeded me."[F1] She was renowned for both her
intelligence and her beauty. Her brother, `Abdu'l-Vahhab said,
"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."[F2] A.
L. M. Nicolas' historical account tells us that "her reputation
became universal throughout Persia, and the most haughty `Ulamas
[scholars] consented to adopt some of her hypotheses and opinions."
One day while visiting in the home of her cousin, she discovered
some books in his library which interested her very much. They
were written by Shaykh Ahmad and his successor, Siyyid Kazim.
Her cousin warned her that her father would be very displeased if
he found her reading them. "He is opposed to these modern
thinkers," he told her. However, she persuaded him, and took the
books home to study. Her father raised violent objections, had
heated discussions with her, and criticized and denounced the
writings of Shaykh Ahmad. She eagerly read all of their books
that she could find. Shaykh Ahmad was dead, but Siyyid Kazim was
still living in Karbila, so Tahirih began corresponding with him.
His letters excited in her an ever keener interest in the coming
of a promised Messenger. She had a great longing to go to Karbila
to study under Siyyid Kazim. She knew that her father would never
grant his permission. However, with the help of her uncle, she
secured permission to visit the shrines at Karbila and Najaf. Her
family willingly granted permission for this, believing that a
pilgrimage might bring her back to her senses and to more orthodox
ways. They did not suspect that her true purpose in going was to
meet Siyyid Kazim. She made the journey in 1843. She looked
forward to studying under Siyyid Kazim. During those days she
thought only of his promise: the approaching appearance of a new
spiritual Teacher in the world. Tahirih told her uncle that she
wished to be the first woman to serve Him when He appeared. "Oh,
when will the day come," she said, "when new laws will be revealed
on earth! I shall be the first to follow those new Teachings and
to give my life for my sisters!"[F3] Tahirih's grief was very deep
when she reached Karbila and found that Siyyid Kazim had died just
ten days before her arrival. Her sorrow softened when she was
permitted to stay in his home, and was given access to all his
writings, some of which had never been published. She studied them
eagerly. In each one of them she discovered that same thrilling
promise of a great Figure soon to appear on earth. While she was
in Karbila, Tahirih met Mulla Husayn who was just starting out on
his search for the Promised One. Her hopes were set ablaze. She,
like Mulla Husayn, spent her time in prayer and meditation. One
night in a dream, a young man appeared before her. He raised his
hands toward heaven and in a beautiful voice recited
many wonderful verses, one of which she wrote down. She awakened
with a feeling of joy which flooded her being. One day, some time
later, a friend placed in her hands certain writings of the Bab.
As her eyes looked down upon a page, she discovered the exact same
words she had written down from her dream. To her intense delight
she realized that the Message of the Author was true. Tahirih wrote
immediately to the Bab, telling Him that she believed Him to be
that promised Messenger foretold in all the holy Books, and so long
and eagerly awaited. To the one who delivered the letter for her,
she added: "Say to Him, from me, `The effulgence of Thy face hath
flashed forth, and the rays of Thy visage arose on high. Then
speak the word, "Am I not your Lord?" and "Thou art, Thou art!" we
will all reply.'"[F4] Her acceptance of the Bab brought immediate
and violent protests from her father, her uncle, her husband, and
her brothers. Because of the illustrious name of her family, they
all tried to quiet her and to curb her teaching. Tahirih was aflame
with the message of the Bab. She won many to His Faith in Karbila.
The following description has been recorded of her early days of
teaching in that city: "All who met her 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, marveled at her amazing personality, and were convinced
of the sincerity of her convictions."[F5] Tahirih was not content
with a passive sympathy for the Faith of the Bab. She openly
confessed her belief in Him. She tried to awaken those around her
to the coming of a great new day in the affairs of all mankind.
Many people began to share her enthusiasm and flocked to listen to
her. When the learned religious leaders of Karbila learned that she
was an ardent follower of the Bab and was teaching His Faith in the
very center of their religious life, they complained bitterly to
the government. They were especially angered when Tahirih wanted
to celebrate the birthday of the Bab which fell within the month
of the commemoration of the martyrdom of the Imam Husayn. She
discarded her mourning garb and attired herself in clothes which
showed her happiness.[F6]
Officials were dispatched at once to arrest her, but they seized
a friend of hers by mistake. Tahirih wrote immediately to the
governor and told him that she was the one for whom they were
looking and to release her friend. The governor put Tahirih's
residence under guard so that no one could go in or out for three
months.[F7] Her family heard of these happenings and tried to
persuade her to return to Qazvin. Failing in this, they urged her
to be more calm and reserved and not let her conduct reflect on the
good name of the family. Word came to her that the disciples of the
Bab were gathering for a great conference in Khurasan, Persia, so
Tahirih started on her way immediately. Before her departure from
Karbila she unburdened her heart by writing a letter to each of the
priests of that city, condemning their bigotry. These leaders gave
to women a rank little higher than that of animals and even denied
them the possession of a soul. Tahirih ably defended her Faith in
this letter and exposed their unjust and backward views.[F8] She
stopped at Baghdad enroute eastward. She was accompanied from
Karbila by the mother and sister of Mulla Husayn in whom she had
kindled a great love for the Faith. The very day that Tahirih
arrived in Baghdad she began teaching the Cause. She spoke with
such power and eloquence that those who had seen and heard her
before she became a follower of the Bab were amazed. They said:
"This is not the same woman we knew before." Her lectures began to
attract very large audiences from among the peoples of all
religions. One of the most outstanding of her characteristics was
her ability to arouse a keen desire in her listeners to investigate
the truth of the Bab's mission for themselves. Within a short time
her extraordinary attraction had won many supporters. A large
number had followed her from Karbila to Baghdad in order to attend
her classes. The priests of Baghdad became aroused as her words
began to woo away their own followers. She was emptying their
classes. Many rose up against her, so she challenged them
publicly. Through the governor she invited them all to meet her
in a great public discussion upon the truth or falsehood of the
Bab's Faith. They
refused, made excuses, and instead complained to the government
about the revolution she was stirring up. The following story is
told of a Jewish physician, Hakim masih, who in the company of the
king, passed through Baghdad on his way to Karbila. One day he came
upon a large group of people, mostly priests, listening to a
lecture by a woman who was sitting veiled from their sight behind
a curtain. He went in to listen. As soon as she finished, they
began arguing with her. Her speech was so logical and convincing
that the doctor was very much attracted. The priests were unable
to answer her proofs. He was very astonished and soon he became
convinced that this woman was right. He thought that this magic
speaker must be the Promised One of Whom everyone was speaking.
He attended her lectures and learned of the Message of the Bab,
and believed in Him. Thus, a Jew who had passed by the wonderful
message of both Christ and Muhammad was won over to the Faith of
the Bab by the eloquence and logic of Tahirih. Now he believed in
both Christ and Muhammad, and all the messengers of God.[F9] One
day a delegation of the ablest religious leaders of Baghdad came
to see Tahirih. Her popularity had grown so astonishingly that
they became alarmed at the effect she might have upon their people
and united against her. This delegation had representatives from
the two leading sects of Islam, and from the Jewish and Christian
communities as well. Their mission was to silence her. "We have
come," they informed her, "to convince you of the folly of your
actions, and to turn you from your purpose." Prior to this meeting,
these religious leaders had thought of Tahirih as a gifted woman
whose enthusiasm for something new had overleaped the bounds of
moderation. Her popularity, they felt sure, was based on novelty,
but once she came face to face with a group of such eminent
religious leaders, she would be subdued and once more resume her
humble place as a woman. They were unprepared for her reckless
indifference to their combined wisdom and her cool appraisal of
their motives. Following that meeting they looked upon her as a
dangerous and powerful adversary. Tahirih was able to silence every
protest. She astounded them with the force of her argument and the
depth of her knowledge. She was not lowly and submissive before
them as they expected. Instead, she was aflame with the love of
God and she burned away their flimsy reasoning with the fire of
her words. "She is not a mere woman," they
said. They were embarrassed at their inability to subdue her.
Disillusioned at their complete failure, they withdrew. Such
victories increased her fame and their anger.[F10] So great was
the influence which Tahirih exerted upon the people, so intense
became the excitement caused by her teaching, that she was seized
by the authorities and placed in the house of the chief-lawyer, by
order of the governor of Baghdad. She was kept there under virtual
arrest until the governor could receive instructions about her from
the central Turkish government in Constantinople.[F11] During her
imprisonment there, Tahirih defended her Faith and her own
character before the chief-lawyer with great ability. Before she
left his home, he told her sincerely, "I share your belief, but I
am apprehensive of the swords of the ruling family of Turkey." With
so many powerful local leaders pitted against her, the government
felt the question had to be settled quickly as to whether or not
she should be permitted to continue her teaching. Her case was
submitted first to the governor of Baghdad, and finally to the
authorities in Constantinople.[12] That same lawyer later wrote a
book in Arabic in which he spoke of Tahirih's stay in his home.
He said that every morning in the early hours of dawn she would
arise to pray and meditate. She fasted frequently. He stated that
he had never seen a woman more virtuous, more devoted, nor had he
seen any man more learned or more courageous than she.[F13] One
evening the chief-lawyer's father came to call upon his son. He
did not even greet Tahirih. Instead, in her presence, he began to
rebuke his son for his kindness to her and cursed her as an enemy
of religion. The father said with grim satisfaction that a message
had just arrived from Constantinople. The Sultan of Turkey had
given Tahirih her life and her freedom, but she was commanded to
leave Turkish territory immediately. "Make preparations to leave
Iraq tomorrow," the father told her bluntly, the only words he
spoke to her, then he departed. The chief-lawyer was ashamed of his
father's behavior. He apologized to Tahirih. After she had left
his home, he confided to his friends: "I see in her such knowledge,
education, politeness and good character that I have not seen in
any great man of this century." Tahirih crossed the Turkish-Persian
border and entered the city of Kirman Shah. Here, unlike Baghdad,
she was given an enthusiastic
welcome. The priests, the government officials and people all came
out to welcome so famous a figure. They were impressed by her
eloquence and fearlessness. She translated one of the writings of
the Bab and had it read publicly in Kirman Shah. The governor and
his family acknowledged the truth of the Cause of the Bab during
her presence. They showed their great admiration and love for
Tahirih. In the village of Karand, Tahirih remained and taught for
three days. Openly she proclaimed the teachings of the Bab, and
was successful in awakening an interest among all classes of
people. Twelve hundred persons are reported to have accepted the
Faith.[F14] In the small village of Salnih she stayed for two days.
Her reception there outshone even that of Karand. Upon her
departure the inhabitants of the village begged her to be allowed
to gather together the members of their community and come with
her. They were prepared to leave everything behind and join her
in the spread and promotion of the Faith of the Bab. Tahirih,
however, advised them to remain where they were and to teach among
their own people.[F15] Tahirih went next to Hamadan. There the
city was divided in its attitude toward her. Some tried to arouse
the people against her, while others loudly praised her. One of the
leading priests of Hamadan deeply resented her fame and wished to
kill her. He would have openly urged the people to attack her
except for his fear of reprisal from her friends. Tahirih knew of
the priest's desire, and she wrote him a long letter explaining
carefully the teachings of the Bab. She sent it to him by a
faithful friend, Mulla Ibrahim. He arrived with this letter just
at an hour when several of these unfriendly priests were meeting
to decide what steps they could take against Tahirih to silence
her. They considered the letter impudent. It enraged them. They
all fell upon Mulla Ibrahim and beat him until he was unconscious.
When he was carried back to Tahirih, still unconscious, she did
not weep at the sight of him as those about her had expected her
to do. She admonished them all by saying: "Get up, Mulla Ibrahim!
Praise be God you have suffered in the path of your Beloved. Now
rise up, and continue to work for Him!" When Mulla Ibrahim opened
his eyes, Tahirih smiled at him. "O Mulla Ibrahim," she said. "For
one small beating you became unconscious. This is the time we are
ready to give our lives. Did
not the disciples of Christ do it, and the disciples of Muhammad?"
And Mulla Ibrahim actually arose from his faint and departed from
her presence, and began to teach.[F16] From Hamadan Tahirih planned
to go to Tihran to try and meet his Majesty, Muhammad Shah, so that
she could tell the king about these new teachings. However, one
of the priests who had refused to meet her in open debate in Kirman
Shah had secretly written to her father in Qazvin. He told him
that his daughter was disgracing the reputation of all the clergy,
let alone her family. Her father at once sent his son with a strong
party of relatives to Hamadan to intercept Tahirih, and to urge her
to return home. Some time before they arrived from Qazvin, Tahirih
said to her companions, "They are coming for us from Qazvin. We
shall go out to meet them before they arrive here." She gave up
her visit to Tihran, and returned to her home with her escort. That
first night when Tahirih arrived in Qazvin, there was a family
council. Her father and her uncle strongly reproached her for her
behavior. "What can I do with you," her father complained, "when
you choose to follow this Shirazi lad?" Her uncle Taqi cursed the
Bab and His Faith. In his violent anger he struck Tahirih several
blows. With her quick intuition of the avenging hand of God,
Tahirih uttered fatal words of foresight. "O uncle," she cried out,
"I see your mouth fill with blood!" These words so infuriated him
that he threatened to have her branded with hot irons. The council
broke up in anger. Next day her family tried to persuade her to
return to her husband, hoping this would keep her under restraint.
"We have been separated for three years," she said. "He has
rejected the religion of God. He is ashamed of me. There can
never be anything in common between us." Her husband, who
considered himself to be one of the great religious leaders of
Persia, sent a stern message to Tahirih to transfer her residence
at once to his house. She replied: "Neither in this world or in
the next can I ever be associated with him. I have cast him out
of my life forever." Her husband in a burst of fury pronounced her
a heretic and strove to undermine her position and sully her fame;
in anger he divorced her three weeks later.[F17]
Her father and her brothers still hoped that by having Tahirih home
they could diminish her influence and slowly win her back to the
old ways. However, the opposite proved true. Her fearlessness, her
organizing ability, her skill, and her unquenchable enthusiasm won
many new victories for the Bab. Her uncle, Taqi, was murdered one
Friday in the Mosque. He was stabbed in the throat. Although the
evidence clearly showed that the murderer was not a follower of the
Bab, still Tahirih was accused of the slaying. Her family called
those prophetic words spoken on the night of her return: "O uncle!
I see your mouth fill with blood!" The entire city was aroused.
The mobs were encouraged to seek revenge by arresting, robbing and
killing, and plundering the houses of anyone suspected of being a
follower of the Bab. Tahirih herself was placed in strict
confinement. Out of respect for her father, an eminent Islamic
jurist, the authorities permitted him to save her life and imprison
Tahirih in the cellar of his home. But the women who were assigned
to watch her were told never to let her out of their sight. She
must not escape. A member of Tahirih's family, one day years later
while showing visitors the prison cellar in which she had been
confined, said: "Tahirih's father truly loved his gifted daughter
even though he clashed violently with her in religious beliefs.
He imprisoned her in his home trying to protect her from the
savagery of those who were ready to brand her with irons because
she belonged to the despised [Faith of the Bab], but even her
father could not save her. They came and carried her away to the
city prison."[F18] In a spirit of revenge, although well aware of
her innocence, Tahirih's husband persuaded the governor to put her
on trial for the murder of her uncle, Taqi. Her father refused to
let her leave his house, but she was taken from him by force and
brought to the government house. They also arrested her servant
Kufiyih whom they hoped to influence to testify against her. Hour
after hour they questioned them, trying to get them to confess to
the murder. To each question, Tahirih replied calmly: "We know
nothing of this deed. It was done without our knowledge." Her
husband, seething with hatred, fearful she would go free, kept
pleading with the governor to inflict some harsh punishment upon
Tahirih. "Something severe," he said, "something very severe."
Acting on this hint, the governor gave the executioner orders to
bring in the irons for branding. In order to terrorize Tahirih and
perhaps secure a false confession by torture, they placed the hands
of Kufiyih under a sliding door, intending to brand her hands from
the other side. Tahirih knew that she was helpless. Her only
refuge was Almighty God. She uncovered her face and turned toward
the prison of the Bab at Mahku and began to pray. The hot irons
were brought forward and the hands of Kufiyih were prepared for the
burning. At that terrifying moment, a town crier's voice could be
heard shouting in the street outside: "The murderer is found! The
murderer is found!"[F19] The murderer had confessed. He came by
himself to government house, rather than let innocent people
suffer. Tahirih and Kufiyih were freed. Tahirih was returned to
her father's house, still a prisoner. Her husband made another
unsuccessful attempt on her life by trying to poison her, but in
spite of all this opposition Tahirih continued to teach many
people. She profoundly affected the city of Qazvin. Although it
prided itself that no fewer than a hundred of the highest religious
leaders of Islam dwelt within its gates, though she was a prisoner
for much of her stay, Tahirih's triumphs were greater in Qazvin
than any she had yet won.[F20] The Journal Asiatique in a study of
this period frankly asks the question: "How, a city like
Qazvin, where the clergy possessed so great an influence,
could it be there...a woman could have organized so strong a group
of heretics?" This study concludes: "There lies a question which
puzzles even the Persian historian, Sipihr, for such an occurrence
was without precedent."[F21] The Prime Minister, Mirza Taqi Khan,
took no action against those who without reason had plundered and
killed the followers of the Bab in Qazvin. He closed his eyes to
the mistake, secretly pleased. This encouraged the clergy and
people of Qazvin to turn once more against Tahirih. They were
determined that she should be slain, quietly if necessary, but as
quickly as possible. She must never leave Qazvin alive. When word
of this new plot reached her, she was unafraid. She wrote a bold
letter to her former husband, now the chief priest of Qazvin. She
dared him to take her life, saying: "If my Cause is the Cause of
Truth, the Lord will deliver me from the yoke of
your tyranny before nine days have passed. Should He fail to
rescue me, you are free to do with me as you wish."[F22] From that
moment on, Tahirih was watched more closely than ever, but in spite
of all their efforts, on the ninth day she escaped quietly in the
night. Her sudden and mysterious removal filled her foes with fear
and her friends with concern. The authorities immediately entered
every house in Qazvin and searched all night for her. They were
both angered and baffled by her disappearance, and the fulfillment
of the prediction she had uttered. Meanwhile Tahirih was in the
capital, Tihran. She spent many happy days there, teaching and
meeting the followers of the Bab from other parts of Persia. These
carefree days ended when word came that the Bab's followers were
gathering at the village of Badasht in Khurasan. Tahirih left at
once to join the group. Her enemies were still on watch for her
everywhere along the road, but she escaped from Tihran in disguise
and journeyed to Badasht. It was early in the summer, 1848.
Eighty-one of the leading followers of the Bab gathered at that
village to meet in consultation. Quddus was among those present,
since this was before the days of the fort of Tabarsi. The purpose
of the gathering was two-fold. First, to decide on the steps to
be taken so that the Faith of the Bab would no longer be looked
upon as a sect of Islam, but rather as a new, independent Faith
with its own Prophet and Writings. Second, to consider the means
of freeing the Bab from His cruel imprisonment in Chihriq. The
gathering succeeded in the first goal, but failed in the second.
The followers of the Bab were eager to make a complete break from
the outmoded religious laws, priesthood, traditions and ritual of
the past. Tahirih, herself, was an instrument of that separation.
She became its outward symbol, when one day she appeared without
her veil. She had cast aside this emblem of women's inferior
station. The effect was electric. Even her fellow-believers were
shocked. They stood aghast at this unexpected and unprecedented
sight. Happiness and triumph shone from her face. Dignified and
content that a new day had dawned, Tahirih arose from her seat.
She was completely indifferent to the tumult which her unveiled
appearance had caused. It was indecent for men to look upon her
uncovered face. Tahirih, however, was universal in her vision. She
knew that the
Bab's Teaching had wiped out all the limiting traditions of the
past. The injustice and slavery practiced against both men and
women were soon to be ended. She stood before them radiant with an
inward and an outward beauty. "I am the blast of the trumpet!" she
cried out. "I am the call of the bugle!" Gone are the days of
dread and subjection for any of the creatures of God, her words
called out. Exultant with joy, she then delivered a fervent and
eloquent appeal to that assembly. Some that day recalled the words
of the prophecy which foretold that in the day of the Promised One,
Fatimih, herself, would appear unveiled before them. Others may
have remembered the sound of the "bugle" and the "stunning trumpet
blast" promised in their own holy Book for the "last days."[F23]
Tahirih finished her appeal by inviting all who were present to
celebrate this great occasion befittingly. "This is the day of
festivity and of universal rejoicing," she said. "The day on which
the fetters of the past are burst asunder. Let those who have
shared this great achievement arise and embrace each other."[F24]
The conference ended after several days, and the followers of the
Bab scattered in all directions to announce the new day. Each
carried with him to his own area the exciting news of these
momentous happenings at Badasht. Tahirih was on her way back to
Tihran when she was intercepted by a party of searchers. Her
captors sent her under escort to the capital where she was brought
into the presence of the king. He commented upon seeing her, "I
like her looks. Leave her, and let her be." She was then taken as
a prisoner to the home of the mayor of Tihran, Muhammad Khan. The
king sent a letter to Tahirih at the mayor's house. He urged her
to deny the Bab and again become a true Muslim. He promised her
that if she would do this, he would give her an exalted position
as the guardian of the ladies of his household, he would even make
her his bride. She replied on the back of his letter in verse,
saying that the kingdom and crown were for him, but wandering and
calamity were for her. The king, reading the reply, was deeply
moved. He spoke of her spirit and courage. He said, "So far,
history has not shown such a woman to us."[F25] Tahirih was given
considerable freedom during her imprisonment
in the mayor's house, and she was able to continue her teaching.
She was still alive with the fire and fervor of Badasht. It was
during this period in Tihran that Tahirih reached the height of her
popularity and fame. She openly denounced polygamy, the veil, and
all the restraints which had so unjustly shackled her sex for so
many centuries in the East. She aroused the women by pointing out
to them the abject roles they had been given by their past
beliefs, and she won them over by showing them the freedom, respect
and dignity which the Faith of the Bab would bestow upon them. Sir
Francis Younghusband who wrote of Tahirih's life, says: "So strong
in her faith did she become that although she was both rich and
noble, she gave up wealth, child, name and position for her
Master's service and set herself to proclaim and establish his
doctrine." He adds in yet another place: "The beauty of her speech
was such as to draw guests away from a marriage feast rather than
listen to music provided by the host."[F26] Comte de Gobineau
writes of her: "Many who have known her and heard her at different
times have stated that, for a person so learned and so well read,
the outstanding characteristic of her discourse was an amazing
simplicity, and still, when she spoke, her audience was deeply
stirred and filled with admiration, often in tears."[F27] Tahirih
stirred up the entire capital city to such an extent that finally
the authorities took action against her. The government sent a
special delegation to question her about her Faith. They held
seven conferences with her in which she offered proofs showing that
the Bab was the expected Messenger of God. She quoted from their
own holy Book to convince them. During the last of these
conferences, Tahirih became exasperated with their obstinate
refusal to accept anything but the most literal interpretation of
sacred scripture, and especially of certain prophecies. "How long
will you cling to these follies and lies? When will you lift your
eyes toward the Sun of Truth?" she exclaimed. Her accusers were
shocked by her attitude. They returned to their homes, wrote out
a denunciation of Tahirih, saying that she refused to give up her
faith, and upon the recommendation of this delegation, Tahirih was
sentenced to death.[F28] Tahirih was now placed in strict
confinement in a single room in the house of the Mayor of Tihran,
Muhammad Khan. The wife of
the mayor, while not a follower of the Bab, became very attached
to her. Before Tahirih was taken away to be slain, this woman
became a devoted friend. She has left the following account: "One
night I went to her room and found her dressed in a gown of
snow-white silk. I expressed my surprise. "She said: `I am
preparing to meet my Beloved, and I wish to free you from the cares
and anxieties of my imprisonment.' "I was much startled at first
and began to weep at the thought of separation from her. "She
comforted me, saying: `Weep not. The hour when I shall be
condemned to suffer martyrdom is fast approaching. It is my wish
that my body shall be thrown into a pit, and the pit be filled with
earth and stones. "`My last request is that you permit no one to
enter my chamber. Until the time I shall be summoned to leave this
house, let no one be allowed to disturb my devotions. I intend to
fast, a fast I shall not break until I am brought face to face with
my Beloved.' "With these words, she bade me lock the door of her
chamber and not to open it until the hour of departure should
strike. "I locked her door, and retired to my room in a state of
uncontrollable sorrow. I lay sleepless and disconsolate upon my
bed. The thought of her approaching martyrdom was more than I
could bear. Unable to contain myself, several times I arose and
stole quietly to the threshold of her room. I was enchanted by the
melody of her voice as she intoned the praise of her Beloved."[F29]
Tahirih prayed throughout the night that she might be worthy of
meeting Almighty God in Whose service she longed to give her life.
The hour of her death is recalled by the mayor's wife in the
following words: "Four hours after sunset, I heard a knocking at
the door. I hastened to my son and told him of the last wishes of
Tahirih. He pledged his word that he would fulfill every
instruction. My son opened the door. He told me that the
attendants of Aziz Khan-i-Sardar, who was to execute her, were
standing at the gate, demanding that Tahirih be delivered into
their hands. "I was struck with terror at the news, and as I
tottered to her door and with trembling hands, unlocked it, I found
her veiled and ready to leave her apartment. As soon as she saw
me, she came and kissed me. She placed in my hands the key to her
chest, in which
she had left me a few trivial things as a remembrance of her stay
in my house. "`Whenever you open this chest,' she said, `and behold
the things it contains, I hope you will remember me and rejoice in
my gladness.' "With these words she bade me her last farewell.
What pangs of anguish I felt at that moment as I beheld her
beauteous form fade away in the distance. She mounted the steed
which Aziz Khan-i-Sadar had sent for her, and with my son and a
number of attendants on each side, rode away." They led Tahirih to
a garden outside of the gates of Tihran. Aziz Khan-i-Sadar and
his lieutenants were in the midst of a drunken brawl when they
arrived. Flushed with wine and roaring with laughter, they were
unaware of Tahirih's approach. Tahirih dismounted and turned to
the mayor's son who had accompanied her as a friend. She asked
him to act as an intermediary with Aziz Khan-i-Sadar. "They will
wish to strangle me," she said. "I set aside, long ago, a silken
handkerchief which I hoped would be used for this purpose. I
deliver it into your hands. I am disinclined to address my slayers
in the midst of their revelry." The mayor's son approached Aziz
Khan-i-Sadar. As the boy came up to him, he waved him aside. "Do
not interrupt the gaiety of our festival!" he cried. Then he
laughed uproariously and turned back to his party. "Let that
miserable wretch be strangled," he mouthed to his attendants, "and
throw her body into a pit." The boy gave the attendants the
kerchief. This young man has, himself, given an eye-witness
account of that fateful moment. "They consented to grant her
request," he reported. "That same kerchief was wound around her
neck and was made the instrument of her martyrdom. I hastened
immediately afterwards to the gardener and asked him whether he
could suggest a place where I could conceal the body. He directed
me to a well that had been dug recently and left unfinished. With
the help of a few others, I lowered Tahirih into her grave and
filled the well up with earth and stones in the manner she herself
had requested. Those who saw her in these last moments were
profoundly affected." Dr. Jacob Polak, Austrian physician to the
king, in a book written
in 1856, states that he was an eye-witness of Tahirih's last hours.
She endured her death with "super-human fortitude," he said.[F30]
The son returned to tell his mother what had happened. "I wept hot
tears," she recalled later, "as my son unfolded to me that tragic
tale." As she stood before the chest Tahirih had given her, she
wondered what it was that could have induced so great a woman to
forsake all the riches and honors with which she had been
surrounded, and to identify herself with the Cause of an obscure
youth from Shiraz. What could have been the secret of that power
that tore her away from home and kindred, that sustained her to her
grave. Could the hand of the Almighty have guided her? Thus ended
the life of Tahirih. She was one of the greatest of the disciples
of the Bab. She was the first woman-suffrage martyr as well. As
the hour of her death approached, she turned to the one in whose
custody she had been placed, and declared boldly: "You can kill me
as soon as you like, but you cannot stop the emancipation of
woman!"[F31] Her career was dazzling, brief, tragic, and eventful.
The fame of Tahirih spread with the same remarkable swiftness as
that of the Bab, Who was the direct source of all her inspiration.
Lord Curzon in his book on Persia states bluntly: "Of no small
account, then, must be the tenets of a creed that can awaken in its
followers so rare and beautiful a spirit of self-sacrifice."[F32]
Sarah Bernhart the famous actress, requested the playwright Catulle
Mendes to write a dramatized version of Tahirih's life. The
playwright himself called her the "Persian Joan of Arc."[F33] A
noted commentator on the life of the Bab and His disciples has paid
Tahirih the tribute of calling her "a miracle of science and a
miracle of beauty." "The heroism of the lovely but ill-fated
poetess," testifies Lord Curzon, "is one of the most affecting
episodes in modern history." The British orientalist, Professor E.
G. Browne, said that if the Faith of the Bab had no other claim to
greatness than that it had produced a heroine like Tahirih, it
would be sufficient. "The appearance of such a woman, ..." he
wrote, "is, in any country and any age, a rare phenomenon, but in
a country such as Persia it is a prodigy--nay, almost a miracle."
The French diplomat, Comte de Gobineu, writes, "She was held with
every justification to be a prodigy." "This noble woman, ..."
writes Dr. T. K. Cheyne, a renowned
English clergyman, "has the credit of opening the catalogue of
social reforms in Persia." "No memory," writes Sir Valentine
Chirol, "is more deeply venerated or kindles greater enthusiasm
than hers, and the influence she wielded in her time still inures
to her sex." The famous Turkish poet, Sulayman Nazim Bey, exclaims:
"O Tahirih! You are worth a thousand Nasiri'd-Din Shahs!" Mariana
Hamisch, the mother of one of Austria's presidents says: "The
greatest ideal of womanhood has been Tahirih." One of the most
penetrating comments of those historians who followed her life was
this: "Looking back on the short career [of Tahirih] one is chiefly
struck by her fiery enthusiasm and by her absolute unworldliness.
This world was, in fact, to her...a mere handful of dust."[F34]
Tahirih was faithful to the Cause of the Bab from the first moment
of her acceptance until the last hour of her death. Not for an
instant did she swerve from that confident belief expressed in her
message sent to Him in those beginning days in Shiraz: "Then speak
the word, `Am I not your Lord?' and `...Thou art!' we will reply."
Tahirih lived and died by the words she had spoken so boldly to
another great disciple of the Bab one evening in Tihran, so long
ago. She had been listening with some of the other believers to
a brilliant and eloquent discourse upon the Faith of the Bab,
given by Vahid, himself. He spoke of the signs and proofs of the
coming of the Bab. Tahirih listened patiently for some time, then
suddenly she interrupted his words. "Let deeds, not words, testify
to your faith," she cried out, "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 promote
the Word of God, and to sacrifice ourselves in His path. Let deeds,
not words, be our adorning."[F35] Tahirih had now justified these
words by her death in a garden in the shadow of Persia's greatest
city. The same inevitable retribution which had remorselessly
struck down the enemies of the Faith in Shiraz, Isfahan, Tabriz,
and Tabarsi, again made itself felt against the persecutors of
Tahirih. The king, who knew that she was innocent and might have
saved her, was to feel the most punishing blow of all at a later
date. Her uncle, Taqi, who had so brutally struck her, was slain
by an
assassin. The mayor of Tihran, Muhammad Khan, who kept her
imprisoned for nearly three years, and who aided the Prime Minister
in her execution, suffered a death similar to that which he had
permitted to befall Tahirih. The king ordered his slaying. He
called upon the executioner to prepare some ropes and then
commanded that these ropes be twisted about the neck of Muhammad
Khan until he was strangled. The king ordered the mayor's body to
be hung on the gallows as a warning.[F36] Tahirih was at the height
of her beauty and power when she was slain in August 1852. She was
thirty-six. Siyyid Kazim had called her
Qurratu'l-`Ayn--"Consolation of the Eyes." Others had called her
Zarrin-T j "Crowned of Gold." But the name by which she lives
forever in the hearts of her people is Tahirih--the Pure One.
THE DEATH OF THE WISEST PERSIAN Vahid, who had been sent by the
king as his personal representative to investigate the truth of the
Bab's mission, was the next to fall in this nation-wide wave of
persecutions. In the early days of the siege of Tabarsi, Vahid
hurried to Tihran to make the necessary preparations for joining
Mulla Husayn and Quddus inside the fort. He was about to leave
Tihran when he was told that it was too late, that his friends had
already been captured or slain. During this visit to Tihran, Vahid
met a companion who wrote down his recollection of that meeting:
"I observed in his (Vahid's) august countenance the signs of a
glory and power which I had not noticed during my first journey
with him to the capital, nor on the other occasions of meeting...he
said several times during the course of conversation: `This is my
last journey, and henceforth you will see me no more.'...Sometimes
when we were together and the conversation took an appropriate
turn, he would remark: "I swear by that loved One in the grasp of
Whose power my soul lies, that I know and could tell where and how
I shall be slain, and who it is that shall slay me. And how
glorious and blessed a thing it
is that my blood shall be shed for the uplifting of the Word of
Truth!'"[F1] Following his last visit to Tihran, Vahid journeyed
to Tahirih's native town of Qazvin, and from there he went to Qum,
Kashan, Isfahan, Ardistan, and Ardikan. In each of these places
he met his fellow believers and was able to stimulate their
enthusiasm and reinforce their efforts. In every city he would
explain the fundamental teachings of the Bab with zest and
fearlessness. He succeeded in winning a considerable number of
the most able and notable citizens to His Cause. Thus, Vahid
became an important target for the Prime Minister and all other
enemies of the Bab. The story of Vahid's investigation of the Bab,
undertaken on behalf of the former king and Prime Minister, was
well known to the people. That these two had agreed to abide by
Vahid's findings was also well known, as was the fact that they
had broken their pledge when they heard that Vahid had become a
follower of the Bab. Vahid was a man of great influence, of wealth
and fame. In addition to his beautiful house in Yazd where his
wife and four sons lived, he also had a home in D r b, and still
another in Nayriz. These homes were noted for their elegance and
their superb furnishings. Vahid visited his home in Yazd on the
feast of the New Year. It coincided with the anniversary of the
Bab's declaration of His mission. The most important religious
leaders and notables came out to meet him. The Navvab-i-Raduvi,
who was the most bitter of Vahid's enemies, was also present. He
resented the splendor of Vahid's reception, and hinted maliciously
that it was not really the New Year Feast that Vahid was
celebrating. "The king's royal banquets," he said, "can hardly hope
to rival this sumptuous repast. I suspect that in addition to the
national festival that we are celebrating, you are commemorating
another one beside it." Vahid's bold and sarcastic retort provoked
the laughter of those present. They all applauded Vahid's stinging
rebuke because they were aware of the stinginess and wickedness of
the Navvab. This ridicule enraged the Navvab. He promised himself
that if it lay in his power, Vahid would die violently because of
it. Vahid seized this occasion to proclaim without reserve the
of the Bab's Faith. Some were irresistibly attracted. Others,
unable to challenge successfully the defense which Vahid made for
his new Faith, denounced it in their hearts. They joined forces
with the Navvab and made plans to overthrow Vahid without delay.
Nicolas in his history of those days writes: "`To love and conceal
one's secret is impossible,' says the poet; so...[Vahid] began to
preach openly in the mosques, in the streets, in the bazaars, in
the public squares, in a word, wherever he could find listeners.
Such an enthusiasm brought forth fruit and the conversions were
numerous and sincere. The Mullas [protests] deeply troubled,
violently denounced the sacrilege to the governor of the city."[F2]
The priests were agreed on one vital point: The life of Vahid must
be destroyed. They spread the report of that New Year's day
banquet, saying: "Though his listeners ranked among the most
illustrious doctors of law in Yazd, not one raised a word of
protest against his proclamation of the Faith of the Bab. This
silence has been responsible for the wave of enthusiasm which has
swept over this city. Already half of the inhabitants have been
brought to his feet, while the remainder are fast being attracted."
This report raced like a grass fire through all the surrounding
districts. It caused hatred to flare up, but, at the same time,
it brought crowds of interested people from distant towns and
villages. They flocked to Vahid's home to hear the message of the
Bab. A great many embraced the Faith. "What shall we do next?"
they asked Vahid. "How can we express the depth and sincerity of
our faith?" Each day from early morning until late night, Vahid
was absorbed in teaching them, answering their questions, and
inspiring them to return home where they could teach in their own
villages. For forty days this feverish teaching activity continued.
Vahid's home became a rallying point for both men and women. The
Navvab finally convinced the governor of Yazd that if Vahid was
not restrained, the people would soon revolt from the government
of the king, and that he, the governor, would be to blame. The
governor was new, young and inexperienced. The Navvab entreated
him day after day to send a force of armed men to surround Vahid's
home and put an end to his teaching. After all, the Navvab told
the governor, hadn't the Prime Minister himself encouraged everyone
to use the harshest means against the followers of the Bab? Was
Vahid so prominent, so famous, so noble that he did not
fall into this class? Was he not really the most flagrant offender
of all? The governor at last succumbed to the Navvab's entreaties,
and ordered out a detachment of soldiers. The Navvab quickly sent
his personal instructions to a degraded element of the people he
had been keeping ready for just such an opportunity. Gleefully,
he informed them that the governor had fallen into his trap, and
that Vahid was now under attack. He urged these people to rush to
Vahid's home and do all they could to add to his humiliation.
"There is no longer any need to restrain your indignation and
righteous feelings of anger," he told them. He implied that
Vahid's death would be a welcome thing in the eyes of God. Vahid
was standing at a window on the upper floor of his home speaking
to a large gathering of his friends in the yard below when a
regiment of soldiers accompanied by a huge multitude of people
arrived. They completely surrounded his house. Vahid's friends
were alarmed at the sight of the soldiers and the great mob of
infuriated townspeople. They turned to Vahid in their distress,
asking for instructions. His servant, Hasan, quickly saddled
Vahid's horse and brought it to the courtyard below his window so
that he might flee for safety. Vahid called upon his friends to
be calm. "Do not fear," he told them. "In a short time, all those
who have now encircled us will have been scattered." Vahid pointed
down at the horse standing below him in the courtyard. "That very
steed," he said, "is the one which the late king gave me that I
might ride upon it to undertake my mission of conducting an
impartial investigation into the nature of the Faith proclaimed by
the Bab. The king asked me to report to him personally the results
of my inquiry, for he said I was the only one among the religious
leaders in Tihran in whom he had complete confidence. "I undertook
that mission riding upon that very horse. I was determined to
refute everything the Bab said, and to prove my superiority. I
planned to crush him with my superior knowledge, force Him to
acknowledge my leadership, and then conduct Him with me to Tihran
as a witness to my total triumph. "When I came into His presence
and heard His words, the opposite of what I imagined took place.
In my first audience, I was humbled; by the end of the second, I
felt helpless and ignorant;
the third found me as lowly as the dust beneath His feet. He
became to me what He truly was: the Promised One, the living
embodiment of the Holy Spirit." Vahid looked with indifference upon
the enemies who were closing in on him. Of what importance could
any of the happenings of this world be to him ever again, whether
they were delights or disasters. "Ever since that day," he told his
friends, "I have yearned to lay down my life for His sake. I
rejoice that the day which I have longed to witness is fast
approaching."[F3] Vahid's friends became frightened. They thought
he was speaking of that very day and hour, for the soldiers and the
mob were preparing to assault them. Seeing the agitation which had
seized them, Vahid urged them to be calm and patient. "Rest
assured," he said, "that God, the Avenger, will soon with His
invisible hand inflict a crushing defeat against these forces
arrayed against us." Shortly after Vahid had uttered these words,
the news came that a great number of friendly companions were
approaching Vahid's home to save him. This rescue party flung
themselves upon the attackers. Their valor and reckless
indifference to death was of a nature to alarm and scatter the
entire detachment of soldiers and people. The soldiers abandoned
their arms and fled for shelter. The mob, crying for help,
scattered in all directions. Vahid sent a messenger through the
streets with the warning that he would not attack anyone but that
he would defend himself and his home. After another skirmish, in
which even the governor's troops were routed, Vahid directed his
companions to disperse to safety. He knew that the hour for his
own departure from Yazd had come. He called his wife to him and
told her to take the children and all of their belongings and go
to the house of her father for safety. He instructed her to leave
all of his own personal possessions in the house. "I have built
this palatial residence," he told her, "with the sole intention
that it should be demolished eventually in the path of the Cause
of God. The stately furnishings with which I have adorned it have
been purchased with the hope that one day I should be able to
sacrifice them all for the sake of my Beloved." Vahid tried to make
his wife understand, saying: "In that day friend and foe alike will
realize that he who owned this house possessed another
treasure so priceless that an earthly mansion, however magnificent,
had no worth in his eyes; that it had sunk to nothing more than a
heap of bones which only the dogs of the earth could desire." In
the middle of that night he collected the writings of the Bab which
were in his possession, and gave them to his servant, Hasan, with
the order to take them and await his arrival outside the gate of
the city. "Do not disregard my instructions," he warned, "or we
shall never meet again." Hasan mounted his horse and prepared to
leave. He heard the cries of the patrolling sentinels who were
keeping a night watch over the city. He was afraid they might
capture him and seize the manuscripts, so he took what he thought
to be a safer route to the gates of the city. As he was passing
through one section of town, he was recognized by the sentinels.
"There goes Vahid's servant!" they cried out. They opened fire upon
Hasan, shot down his horse, and captured him alive. Vahid,
meanwhile, followed the route he had told Hasan to take and was
soon safely outside the city. The moment Vahid left Yazd, his
enemies, under the leadership of the Navvab, rushed to his house
to plunder his possessions. They carried away all of the
furnishings, then demolished the house completely. Vahid set out
at once for his home in Nayriz. That first night he walked twenty
miles until he at last approached a village in which his brother
lived. Vahid did not enter his brother's house, instead, he
encamped in a near-by mountain. His brother, hearing of his
presence there, sent out horses and provisions which he felt Vahid
would need for his journey to Nayriz. A body of the governor's
troops was sent out from Yazd in pursuit of Vahid. They followed
his trail to the village of his brother. They searched the house
where they suspected he was concealed. Not finding him, they
appeased their anger and disappointment by seizing as much of his
brother's property as they could carry away. They searched the
neighborhood further, but did not find Vahid's mountain camp.
Disappointed, they returned to Yazd. The Navvab was still not
satisfied. Vahid's teaching had stopped, but Vahid had escaped.
He did not pursue Vahid himself. He left
that to the governor. Instead, in concert with the leading priests
of Yazd, he took a far more gratifying step. Nicolas reports the
Navvab's actions after Vahid's departure as follows: "...he [the
Navvab] gave a sigh of relief. Besides, he felt that to pursue the
fugitive would involve some peril and that, therefore, it would be
infinitely more practical, more beneficial, more prosperous and
less dangerous to torture the [followers of the Bab], or those
presumed to be--provided that they were wealthy--who had remained
in the city. He sought out the most prosperous, ordered their
execution, and confiscated their possessions, avenging thus his
outraged religion, a matter of perhaps little concern to him, and
filling his coffers, which pleased him immensely."[F4] Having
failed in their plans to capture and slay Vahid, the authorities
had to content themselves with the torture of his servant, Hasan.
The led him out to a loaded cannon. They thought they might
frighten Hasan into pleading for mercy and thus force him to
renounce his Faith. After all, he was only a servant. Vahid was
a man of great nobility and wisdom, and he might be expected to
know what he was doing; but this ignorant servant would certainly
save his own life now that his master was gone. If they could make
him cry for mercy, they could publicize his recantation. This
would at least be a small way of humiliating Vahid. The officer
gave the instruction which was calculated to bring Hasan to his
knees. "Bind him with his back to the mouth of the cannon," he
commanded. "No," Hasan entreated them. "Do not do that to me." The
officer smiled, gratified by the expected words. His pleasure
turned to wrath as Hasan continued his entreaty. "Do not bind me
with my back to the cannon," Hasan pleaded with the soldiers.
"Rather bind me with my face to the gun so that I may see it
fired." The gunners and those who looked on were astonished at
Hasan's composure and cheerfulness. To themselves they said: "One
who can be cheerful in such a plight must needs have great faith
and fortitude."[F5] All along the road to Nayriz, Vahid continued
his teaching. Wherever he made camp, his first action was to go
immediately to the neighboring village or town. He would gather
all the people together, then he would announce to them the "glad
tidings" of the
Bab's appearance. In the mountain village of Bav n t, the
high-priest of the village, Haji Siyyid Isma'il, accepted the
Faith. Vahid was utterly indifferent to fatigue. In whatever place
he succeeded in attracting souls to the Faith of the Bab, he would
stay the night so that he could deepen them in their understanding
and prepare them to continue the work of teaching after his
departure. If none arose to accept or to inquire further, Vahid
would leave that village at once. "Through whichever village I
pass," he told his companions, "and fail to inhale from its
inhabitants the fragrance of belief, its food and drink are
distasteful to me."[F6] When the news of Vahid's approach to Nayriz
became known, there was an exodus from the city to greet him. The
governor forbade it, warning the people of the danger to their
lives and possessions. Therefore, the majority of them set out at
night to meet Vahid under cover of darkness. The governor was
informed of their secret departure. He sent a special messenger
to overtake them. "You will be put to death," he warned them, "if
you show allegiance to Vahid. I will not permit his victories of
Yazd to be repeated in Nayriz!" Not one of the people heeded this
warning. They continued on their way. The governor was dismayed
when his messenger reported their disdainful neglect of his
warning. He decided he must take some strong action to maintain
his prestige. The very first thing Vahid did upon reaching Nayriz,
even before going to his own home, was to enter the place of
worship and address the congregation of his friends that had
gathered there. He called upon them to embrace the Faith of the
Bab. The Promised One of God has appeared, he told them. Still
wearing his dust-laden garments, Vahid ascended the pulpit and
spoke with such convincing eloquence that the whole audience was
electrified by his appeal. When the first flush of excitement
subsided, Vahid continued speaking. "My sole purpose in coming to
Nayriz," he explained, "is to proclaim the Cause of God. I thank
and glorify Him for having enabled me to touch your hearts with
His Message." No less than a thousand persons from his own area,
and five hundred from other sections of Nayriz, spontaneously
responded to his appeal and accepted the Faith.
"There is no need for me to remain any longer in your midst," Vahid
told the crowd. "My work is done, and if I prolong my stay, I fear
that the governor will ill-treat you because of me." The people
assured Vahid of their faith, saying: "We are resigned to the Will
of God. May He grant us strength to withstand the calamities that
may befall us. But we cannot, however, reconcile ourselves to so
abrupt and hasty a separation from you." Vahid submitted to their
wishes, and agreed to remain a few days longer in Nayriz. At this
news a crowd of men and women gathered around him and with cheers
and praise they escorted him to the very entrance of his house. The
governor was terrified to hear that such an avalanche of victories
could be won by Vahid in such an astonishingly short time. The
finest citizens from all fields were accepting the Faith of the
Bab. This number included the governor's own nephew.[F7] The
governor felt that he must destroy this influence before it
undermined his own position with the king and Prime Minister. He
recruited a thousand soldiers, both cavalry and infantry. He
supplied them with ammunition and ordered them to make a sudden
attack upon Vahid. "Seize him and bring him here as a prisoner!"
Vahid was informed of this secret attack. He and his companions
followed the pattern of their fellow-believers at Tabarsi and
sought refuge. The prince, who was governor at Shiraz, joined
forces against Vahid and his companions. He gave the same
instructions which had been given at Tabarsi: "Exterminate all of
them!" Vahid and his friends had taken refuge in Fort Khajih where
they were besieged in the same manner in which Quddus and Mulla
Husayn had been besieged at Tabarsi. They were deprived of water
and food. Finally, by the same treachery used at Tabarsi, they
were betrayed into coming out of their sheltered protection. The
governor of Nayriz, failing tome after time to win by force,
resorted to deceit, contrary to the pure spirit of Muhammad's
teaching. A Qur'an was sent to Vahid with the following solemn
promise: "This Qur'an is the witness of the integrity of our
purpose. Let this holy Book decide whether the claim you make for
your Faith is true or false. Emerge from the fort and meet us in
the camp. If you prove able to demonstrate the truth of your
Faith, we, too,
will readily embrace it. The malediction of God be upon us if we
should attempt to deceive you." Vahid received the book with
reverence. "Our appointed hour has struck," he said. "Though I am
well aware of your intention, I feel it my duty to accept their
call and once again take the opportunity of telling them about our
beloved Faith." With five companions, Vahid left the fort and
entered the camp of the governor. For three days he spoke to them
of the Bab. Though outwardly they appeared to listen, inwardly
they were secretly plotting how they could get the rest of his
friends out of the fort so that they could all be destroyed. A plot
to persuade Vahid's friends to leave their fort to join Vahid at
the camp of the soldiers was conceived and proved successful. This
was the beginning of the slaughter. Vahid's companions were seized
and arrested the moment they set foot outside the fort. When the
news of their capture reached the governor and his staff, they
immediately began to take their revenge upon Vahid. They
consulted on the best way in which they could evade fulfilling the
oath they had sent with the Qur'an into the fort. Their scheme
was simple. A man notorious for his ruthlessness and cruelty
volunteered to proceed with the killing of Vahid without conscience
pangs, because he had not taken the oath. "If you are troubled by
this oath," he assured the governor and his staff, "forget your
worries. I am ready to do whatever you would like to have done.
I am ready to put to death those you deem guilty of having violated
the laws of the land." He summoned all the relatives of those
people who had perished in the long struggle to conquer the fort
in which Vahid and his friends had been sheltered. He had them
all pronounce the sentence of death against Vahid, thus relieving,
in his own mind, both the governor and himself of any
responsibility for their deaths. He offered to three men in
particular the privilege and pleasure of striking the first blows
at the person of Vahid before turning him over to the mob. He knew
these three men would be without mercy. Nayriz echoed to the sound
of drums and cymbals as Vahid was brought before the people. The
eager crowd was held back while the three men took their turns.
The first, Mulla Rid , snatched Vahid's turban from his head,
uncoiled it, then wound it about
Vahid's neck and dragged him to the ground. Vahid was then tied
to the saddle of a horse. Then the horse was whipped so that it
would drag Vahid through the streets of the city. The second,
Safar, as well as the third, Aqa Khan, struck and beat Vahid at
will and with such ferocity that the onlookers were afraid there
might be no sport left for them. In the midst of his agony, Vahid
called out: "Thou knowest, O my Beloved, that I have abandoned the
world for Thy sake, and have placed my trust in Thee alone. I am
impatient to hasten to Thee." The mob screamed with anger at
Vahid's radiant acceptance of his fate. They were determined that
he would show some sign of fear and be forced to plead for mercy.
They fell upon him in a great wave. Their fists and weapons
pounded him into insensibility and tore his flesh. Horsemen
scattered the crowd so that they could have their turn. Women
danced around the corpse rejoicing, to the increased beat of the
drums and cymbals. A. L. M. Nicolas in his history writes that the
multitude "aroused by the scene, stoned and beat to death the
unfortunate man. They then severed the head, tore off the skin,
stuffed it with straw and sent that trophy to Shiraz!"[F8] The
frenzied crowd did the same to the heads of Vahid's companions and
sent them as a gift to the prince in Shiraz who had called for the
extermination of Vahid and his friends. They were to be proof to
him of the thorough execution of his commands. The prince was
feasting when the caravan bearing these awesome trophies arrived.
It was a festival day in Shiraz. "The bazaars were adorned with
flags--joy was general. Suddenly, there was absolute silence.
They saw coming thirty-two camels, each carrying an unfortunate
prisoner, a woman or child, bound and thrown crosswise over the
saddle like a bundle. All around them were soldiers carrying long
lances and upon each lance was impaled the head of a follower of
the Bab who had been slain at Nayriz ... The sight deeply affected
the holiday population of Shiraz, and they returned saddened to
their dwellings. "The horrible caravan passed through the bazaars
and continued to the palace of the governor. This personage was
in his garden where he had gathered ... the rich, the eminent
citizens of Shiraz. The music ceased, the dancing stopped."[F9]
Mirza `Ali Khan stepped toward the prince bearing his trophies.
He told the prince of his own brave deeds in the assault upon Vahid
and his companions. Mihr `Ali Khan then named all the prisoners
who had been brought, men, women, and children. He received
congratulations from the prince for his great victory. Special
favors were bestowed upon Mihr `Ali Khan and his fellow leaders for
this gift of severed heads. These events literally fulfilled the
well-known prophecy of the coming of the Promised One, saying: "In
Him [shall be] the perfection of Moses, the preciousness of Jesus,
and the patience of Job. His saints shall be abased in His time,
and their heads shall be exchanged as presents; they shall be
slain and burned; the earth shall be dyed with their blood, and
lamentation and wailing shall prevail amongst their women; these
are my saints indeed."[F10] The governor of Nayriz was still not
satisfied. He hungered for even greater revenge upon those who had
survived his betrayal. He planned for their annihilation so that
none might live to tell the tale of his treachery. Nicholas writes:
"His hatred knew no bounds and it was to last as long as he lived.
IT was actually the very poor that had been sent to Shiraz, the
rich had been kept back. [The governor] had entrusted them to a
guard who was ordered to walk them through the city beating them
as they went. The people of Nayriz were greatly entertained that
time."[F11] The end of Vahid's noble life was the signal for the
out-break of a fierce wave of violence in Nayriz that lasted long
beyond that day of betrayal. The fort in which Vahid and his
friends had sought refuge was burned to the ground. Their
property was seized, their houses destroyed, many were thrown into
dungeons before being subjected to a final fiendish torture. The
greedy officials made certain that the prisoners had nothing of
value left before they were slain. During that black period, many
were crucified. The fate that befell the betrayers of Tabarsi
struck almost at once against one of the treacherous leaders of the
Nayriz upheaval. Mihr `Ali Khan, who had escorted those trophies
of severed heads to the prince at Shiraz, whose lips had sung loud
praises of his own valor, was suddenly struck dumb. He was no
longer able to boast of his victorious march with his gruesome
prize to the palace of the prince. Mir `Ali Khan fell ill shortly
after that march. His lips could form words, but no sound would
come out. He remained mute and speechless until the very day of
his death. On that last day, as he was about to expire, those who
stood around him saw from the movement of his lips that he was
whispering something. They leaned down to catch his last words and
heard the only sound that had issued from his lips since he had
been stricken. Three times he whispered faintly the words,
"Followers of the Bab!" Then he fell back dead.[F12] In A
Traveller's Narrative, it is reported that "Of those chiefly
responsible for these cruelties not one but came to a bad end and
died overwhelmed with calamity." Another great figure among the
followers of the Bab had fallen, a man who had been called "that
unique and peerless figure of his age."[F13] The illustrious Vahid,
described by the king and Prime Minister "the wisest of the
Persians," had surrendered all that men hold dear for the privilege
of laying down his life in the path of God. The day of Vahid's
martyrdom was but ten days before that of his Beloved One, the Bab.
THE SEVEN HEROES OF TIHRAN The death of Vahid came as an added blow
to the heart of the Bab. He was already in great sorrow because
of the suffering at Tabarsi, when He was told of the betrayal at
Nayriz. Yet even these tragedies were not the final troubles to
becloud the remaining days of His fast-ebbing life. The Bab's
beloved uncle, Haji Mirza Siyyid `Ali, who had reared Him from
childhood and who had so faithfully served His Cause, was soon to
be engulfed in this same wave of persecution. The Bab's uncle had
just visited Him in the castle of Chihriq. The Bab had sent him
forth from that prison-city to obtain the crown of martyrdom,
saying: "I Myself will follow you, together with one of My loyal
disciples, and will join you in the realm of eternity." When the
Bab's uncle entered Tihran, his friends warned him of the grave
danger of his presence there. "Why fear for my safety?" he
confidently replied. "I, too, am anxious to share in the banquet
which the hand of God is spreading for His chosen ones throughout
the land." Shortly after this a traitor who pretended to be
interested in the Faith of the Bab attended classes, and thus
secured a list of fifty names which he turned over to Mahmud Khan,
the mayor of the city. The mayor immediately ordered the arrest
of the fifty. Four-
teen were seized and brought before the authorities. One of these
fourteen was the Bab's uncle. They were all placed in confinement
in the home of the mayor. It was on the upper floor of this same
house that Tahirih was also held prisoner. Every kind of
ill-treatment was inflicted upon these fourteen captives to induce
them to reveal the names and addresses of the other believers in
the city. The Prime Minister, Mirza Taqi Khan, was informed of
their capture. According to historical record, this arch-enemy
of the Bab was the son of the head cook of a former Prime Minister.
He had risen in a few short years from the kitchen to become chief
advisor to the king through a policy of self-advancement and
ruthlessness. He immediately issued an order threatening with
execution whoever among the fourteen was unwilling to deny his
Faith. Seven were compelled to yield to the pressure he exerted,
and were released at once. The remaining seven who remained
steadfast became known as the "Seven Martyrs of Tihran." The Bab's
uncle was one of the seven. His business friends urged him to deny
his Faith and save his life. God winks His eyes at such things,
they said. Several rich merchants offered to pay a ransom to free
him, but the Bab's uncle rejected their offer. Finally, he was
brought before the Prime Minister. "A number of prominent people
have interceded in your behalf," the Prime Minister told him.
"Wealthy merchants from Shiraz and Tihran are willing, nay eager,
to pay your ransom. A word of denial from you will set you free,
and we shall return you to your native city with honors." The Bab's
uncle boldly replied to these words. "Your Excellency," he said,
"my rejection of the truths which are given in this Revelation
would be the same as rejecting all the Revelations that have
preceded it. If I refuse to acknowledge the mission of the Bab,
I must also deny the divine character of the message which
Muhammad, Jesus, Moses and all the Prophets of the past have
revealed." The Prime Minister did not try to hide his impatience
as the Bab's uncle continued. "God knows that whatever I have
heard and read concerning the lives of these past Messengers of
God, the same have I been privileged to witness from this Youth,
this beloved Kinsman of mine, from His earliest boyhood to this,
thirtieth year of His life. I only request that you allow me to
be the first to lay down my life in His path." The Prime Minister
was stupefied by such an answer. Without uttering a word, he
motioned that the Bab's uncle should be taken out and beheaded. As
he was being conducted to his death, the Bab's uncle called out to
the crowd that swarmed around him. "For over a thousand years you
have prayed that the Promised One appear. Now that He has come,
you have driven Him to a hopeless exile in a remote corner of the
land. With my last breath I pray that the Almighty may enable you
to awaken from your sleep of heedlessness." The executioner was
shaken by those words. He pretended that the sword he had been
holding in readiness needed to be sharpened. He hurried away and
never returned. He told the story of that moving event many times
expressing his repentance of the act he had been compelled to
perpetrate. Whenever he spoke of the Bab's uncle, he could not
repress the tears which bore witness to the depth to which he had
been stirred.[F1] The second to fall beneath the headman's axe was
Mirza Qurban `Ali. He was a close friend of many of the notables
of the city. So greatly was he esteemed that when he visited
Karbila, a vast concourse of people lined the road all along his
route in order to pay tribute to him. he mother of the king was
a great admirer of Qurban `Ali. Because of her close friendship
and admiration for him, she told her son, the king, that Qurban
`Ali was being branded with lies. "He is no follower of the Bab,
" she insisted. "He has been falsely accused." So they sent for
Qurban `Ali. The Prime Minister brought him to the palace under
guard. His arrest had already caused a commotion such as Tihran
rarely experienced. Huge crowds followed Qurban `Ali as he was led
through the streets. Some cried out encouragement to him. Some,
bewildered, asked, "What has he done? What harm can be found in
this great man?" The people packed the approaches to the government
headquarters anxious to hear some word about his fate. At first
Qurban `Ali was treated with great respect. The authorities
assured him of their confidence in him, and expressed concern that
so grave an injustice should have been done to him.
"We know you do not belong to these misguided followers of the Bab,
" they assured him. "A false charge has been made against you.
We know that you have not accepted him as a Prophet." Qurban `Ali
replied simply: "I know not whether He has accepted me, but I have
accepted Him. I reckon myself as one of the followers and servants
of the Bab." They tried to persuade him to give up this
foolishness.[F2] He was far too intelligent to be anyone's servant,
they said, far too important to lower himself in the eyes of his
fellowmen. They promised Qurban `Ali a permanent salary and a
generous pension if he would accompany them to the street and
announce now to the public that he had denied this false Faith.
Qurban `Ali waited patiently until they were finished. Then he
spoke with quiet conviction. "This life and these drops of blood
of mine are of but small account. But if the entire earth were
mine, and I had a thousand lives, I would freely cast them all at
the feet of the humblest of the Bab's friends." The Prime Minister
himself then tried to show Qurban `Ali the foolishness of such a
stubborn attitude. "Since last night," he said, "I have been
swamped by all classes of state officials. They are all vigorously
speaking in your defense. From what I learn of the position you
occupy and the influence your words exercise, I cannot understand
your attitude. If you had claimed such leadership for yourself,
it would have been better for you. Far better than declaring your
allegiance to one who is obviously inferior to you in knowledge."
Qurban `Ali shook his head. "That is not so," he told him. "All
of the knowledge which I have acquired has led me to recognize Him
and bow down before Him. I have judged Him fairly. If the Bab is
false, then every Prophet from the beginning of time until this
very day is false."* The king and his mother each in turn tried to
sway Qurban `Ali from his belief, but neither the sweetness of
bribes nor the threat of death had any effect. The treasure which
the Bab offered him, he told them was of a matchless kind. Seeing
their astonishment at his refusal to accept honors and riches in
place of death, he tried to explain. "I have over a thousand
admirers who are influenced by my * See Appendix, Note Two.
words, yet I am powerless to change the heart of the least among
them. The Bab, however, has proved Himself capable of uplifting
and changing the most degraded among His fellowmen. He has exerted
such an influence over our hearts, that we consider it a most
inadequate sacrifice when we lay down our lives for His sake." The
Prime Minister hesitated. "I do not know whether your words are
of God or not. But I am reluctant to pronounce the sentence of
death against one of your exalted rank and station." "Why
hesitate?" burst forth Qurban `Ali. "For this I was born. By this
I shall prove I am worthy of the knowledge God has given to me.
This is the day on which I shall seal with my life-blood my faith
in His Cause." Seeing the Prime Minister's uncertainty, Qurban `Ali
added, "Be not reluctant. Rest assured that I shall never blame
you for your act. The sooner you strike off my head, the greater
will be my gratitude to you." The Prime Minister became angry.
"Take him away from this place!" he cried. "Another minute and he
will have cast his spell over me!" Qurban `Ali smiled gently.
"No," he said, "you are proof against that magic. It is a magic
that can captivate only the pure in heart." Infuriated, the Prime
Minister arose from his seat. His face was mottled and his whole
frame shook with anger. He shouted aloud: "Nothing but the edge
of the sword can silence the voice of this deluded people!" He
turned to the executioner. "It is enough! No need to bring any
more members of this hateful people before me. Words are powerless
to overcome their unswerving obstinacy. Whomever you are able to
induce to deny his Faith, release him. As for the rest, strike off
their heads! I will face no more of them!" As Qurban `Ali was led
to the scene of his death, he spoke with exultation. "Hasten to
slay me," he cried, "for by this death you will have offered me the
cup of everlasting life. In exchange for this withered breath
which you now extinguish, my Beloved will reward me with a life
such as no mortal heart can conceive." A great crowd pressed in
about him. Qurban `Ali addressed them in these words: "The
Promised One has arisen in Shiraz in the person of His Holiness the
Bab." The people shouted at him, deaf to his call. Their mocking
cries drowned out his words. His friends had now withdrawn, unable
to look upon the tragic sight. The mob, seeing a great one fallen,
was now eager for his finish.
"Strike him!" they cried out. "Slay the enemy of God!" Qurban `Ali
sighed sadly. "Oh the blindness of this generation! My soul is
filled with ecstasy, but alas, I can find no heart to share with
me its charm, and no mind to understand its glory." He approached
the spot where the Bab's uncle had been slain. When Qurban `Ali
saw that broken body, he gathered it up tenderly into his arms. He
looked out over that sea of hatred, then summoned the executioner.
"Approach," he told him, "and strike your blow. My faithful
comrade is unwilling to release himself from my embrace. He calls
me to hasten with him to the Kingdom of God." The blow was struck.
Sounds of distress and sorrow stirred even through that hostile
crowd as the two were united for all time.[F3] The next of the
seven martyrs was Haji Mulla Isma'il. Like Qurban `Ali, he had
planned to go to the fort at Tabarsi to join Mulla Husayn and
Quddus, but had been stricken with illness. When he recovered he
was told that the siege was over and his friends massacred. He
began to teach the Faith with renewed energy in order to try to
make up for the tragic loss which the Cause of the Bab had suffered
at Tabarsi. Mulla Isma'il was arrested in Tihran with the others.
He was told that if he would renounce the Bab's Faith and speak
evil of its Author, he would be released, otherwise he would suffer
death. "Renounce my Faith?" he cried. "Never! I am determined to
confess my faith openly and to lay down my life for the Bab." He
explained the importance of his feelings to the other prisoners.
"If we fail to proclaim the coming of the Promised One, who else
will proclaim it? If we fail to direct men into the right way, to
arouse them from the slumber of death, who else will do it? We
are the instruments of God. Let everyone who is able, come forth
in all steadfastness and bear me company." As Mulla Isma'il was
being led to the place appointed for his death, one of the
surrounding crowd cried out. "He is one of them! There goes a
follower of the Bab!" Mulla Isma'il turned and laughed. He said,
"Yes, I am a follower of the Bab, and I am going to die for you."
As he passed through the crowd, they cursed him and threw stones
at him. "Followers of the Bab, " they mocked, "and madmen!" Mulla
Isma'il answered. "Followers of the Bab we are, but mad-
men we are not. By God, Oh people, it is to awaken such as you that
we have forsaken wealth, wife, child and life. We have shut our
eyes to the world and all that dwell therein in the hope that you
may at last be led to make an inquiry into this Faith. We are
willing to die so that you may understand that the Messenger of
Gods has come, and be no longer blind." Even at the headsman's
block a few personal friends broke through the crowd and tried to
persuade Mulla Isma'il to deny the Bab. They pleaded with him. "It
is such a little thing," they said. "Just to say, `I don't
believe.'" "For thirty years I have yearned to witness this blessed
day," he replied. "I was fearful lest I should carry this wish
with me unfilled to my grave." Mulla Isma'il looked away from them
and looked toward those two martyrs who had preceded him. They
were still entwined in each other's embrace. "Well done, my beloved
companions," he cried. "You have turned Tihran into a paradise.
Would that I had preceded you." He removed his turban from his head
and turned to the executioner. Then Mulla Isma'il lifted his eyes
toward heaven. "Accept me, O my God, unworthy though I be." The
executioner cut short his prayer.[F4] The death of the other four
martyrs of Tihran followed in swift succession. For three days
and three nights the bodies of these heroic men remained abandoned
in the public square adjoining the imperial palace. Thousands
gathered round their corpses, kicked them with their feet, and
spat in their faces. They were pelted with stones, cursed and
mocked by the angry multitude. Heaps of refuse were flung upon
the remains. Not one hand was raised to stop the atrocities. The
ferocious fanaticism even broke out in "insults to the mortal
remains of those whose spirits had now passed beyond the power of
their malice."[F5] The religious authorities refused to permit
the bodies to be buried. They were cast into a pit outside the gate
of the city, where, in a common grave, they remained as united in
body as they had been in spirit when they kneeled at the headsman's
feet. Professor Browne points out one of the most significant
things about these seven martyrs of Tihran. "They were men
representing all the more important classes in Persia--divines,
dervishes, merchants, shopkeepers, and government
officials; they were men who had enjoyed the respect and
consideration of all; they died fearlessly, willingly, almost
eagerly."[F6] Browne further states: "This eventful day brought to
the Bab more secret followers than many sermons could have done.
I have just said that the impression created by the prodigious
endurance of the martyrs was deep and lasting. I have often heard
repeated the story of that day by eye-witnesses, by men close to
the government, some even important officials. From their
accounts, one might easily have believed that they were all
[followers of the Bab], so great was the admiration they felt --and
so high was the esteem they entertained for the resourcefulness,
the hopes and the chances of success of the new doctrine." This
closes the tragic story of the lives of all but one or two of the
chief disciples of the Bab. A relentless foe had struck down in
swift succession Mulla Husayn, Quddus, Vahid, and the Bab's uncle.
This same wave of hatred swept to destruction Tahirih, Qurban `Ali
and Mulla Isma'il. The wind of death now changed direction and blew
its breath toward the Bab's prison-castle in Chihriq.
THE DAWN AND THE SUN The Prime Minister, Mirza Taqi Khan,
despatched orders to Chihriq for the Bab to be brought from the
prison to Tabriz. He vowed to himself that this would be the last
journey the Bab ever made on this earth. Forty days before the
arrival of an officer and his soldiers at Chihriq, the Bab
collected all the documents and writings in His possession. He
placed them in a special box along with His pencase, His seals,
and His rings. He entrusted the box to Mulla Baqir, one of His
disciples. The Bab also wrote a letter which he addressed to Mirza
Ahmad, who for a long time had served faithfully as His secretary.
He put the key to the box in Mirza Ahmad's letter, and instructed
Mulla Baqir to take the utmost care of the box and letter. He
emphasized the sacred character of the box and told Mulla Baqir to
conceal its contents from everyone except Mirza Ahmad. Mulla Baqir
found Mirza Ahmad in Qum, where he delivered the letter and the
box to Mirza Ahmad. Mirza Ahmad read the letter and was deeply
moved. He told his friends that he must leave at once for Tihran
to deliver his trust. They all feared that the end of the Bab's
earthly life was nearing, and they were eager to know what was in
that treasured box. They overwhelmed Mirza Ahmad with their
entreaties and he agreed to disclose a little something
of what it contained. Nabil, the historian, was present at the
time Mulla Baqir arrived in Qum. He was an eye-witness to the
opening of that beautiful box. "We marveled when we beheld, among
the things which that box contained," he said, "a scroll of blue
paper, of most delicate texture, on which the Bab, in His own
exquisite handwriting, had penned, in the form of a pentacle, about
five hundred verses, all consisting of derivatives of the word
`Baha.'"[F1] The sight of this beautiful document caused great
excitement among the followers of the Bab. They knew how often the
Bab had told them to expect Someone far greater than Himself soon
after His passing. Was the praise of this name "Baha" yet another
indication in which direction they must turn their eyes, they
asked each other. They knew the word Baha to be one of the titles
of Husayn `Ali, a distinguished nobleman of Tihran, a follower of
the Bab at this time, later known as Baha'u'llah. Nabil continued
his account: "We were overcome with admiration as we gazed upon a
masterpiece which no caligraphist, we believed, could rival. That
scroll was replaced in the box and handed back to Mirza Ahmad, who,
on the very day he received it, proceeded to Tihran. Ere he
departed, he informed us that all he could divulge of that letter
(from the Bab) was the injunction that the trust was to be
delivered into the hands of [Baha'u'llah] in Tihran." Now that the
shadow of death was hovering over Him, the Bab knew He must make
clear once and for all the link that bound him to His Successor.
As disaster struck on all sides, He sought to keep alive the fading
hopes of those whom He would soon leave behind. From that very
night when he had disclosed His Mission to Mulla Husayn, the Bab
constantly referred to the One Who would come after Him. He alluded
to this great event in nearly all of His writings. the Bab
frequently told His followers that He, Himself, was merely "the
channel of grace from some great Person still behind the veil of
glory."[F2] The Bab warned His followers against the mistake made
by the Jews in refusing to accept Christ because of the Old
Testament, the Christians refusing Muhammad because of the New
Testament, and the Moslems denying Himself because of the Qur'an.
"Beware, beware," He cautioned them, "that the words sent down in
the Bay n [the Bab's Book] shut thee not out as by a veil from
"My sole purpose is to awaken you to the coming of His day," He
assured them on yet another occasion. "I, Myself, am, verily, but
a ring upon the hand of Him...If He were to appear at this moment,
I would be the first to bow down before Him."[F3] "The Bay n
deriveth all its glory from `Him Whom God shall make manifest,'"
the Bab declared. "The Bay n and such as are believers therein
yearn more ardently after Him than the yearning of any lover after
his beloved." Although this great Figure was still hidden from
their eyes, the Bab promised His followers that the One Who was
to come would grow from a seed into a mighty tree. This Tree, He
told them, would shelter all humanity. "The germ that holds within
itself the potentialities of the Revelation that is to come, He
said, is endowed with a potency superior to the combined forces of
all those who follow Me.[F4] Now, on a special scroll, written in
His own hand, the Bab had paid a final tribute of love and respect
for Baha'u'llah. It was no longer a vague reference, or a
concealed intimation. The Bab knew that the hour of death was upon
Him. Dr. T. K. Cheyne in his book points out how plainly the lives
of the Bab and Baha'u'llah were woven together during those days
for anyone who had "eyes to see." "The end of the Bab's earthly
Manifestation is now close upon us," Dr. Cheyne wrote. "He knew
it himself before the event, and was not displeased at the
presentiment. He had already `set his house in order,' as regards
the spiritual affairs of [His] community, which he had, if I
mistake not, confided to the intuitive wisdom of Baha'u'llah."[F5]
The following pages are written to show the Bab's deep awareness
of Baha'u'llah's coming. They show how the Bab carefully prepared
certain souls to know, recognize, love and accept Baha'u'llah after
His own martyrdom, so that the Faith of God might go on to fulfill
its destiny. During those earliest days when students of scripture
in America, Europe, Asia and Africa were expecting the Promised
One, Shaykh Ahmad and Siyyid Kazim both repeatedly told their
followers that the hour for His coming was now at hand. There
would be twin Messengers in this day, they said. They would both
appear in Persia. They would follow each other in rapid succession
exactly as foretold in the holy Scriptures. They would be the two
"trumpet blasts" mentioned in the Qur'an for the "last days"; the
return of Elijah followed by the Lord of Hosts foretold in the Old
Testament; the "second woe" and the "third woe" that would follow
quickly as promised in the Book of Revelation for the day when the
Lord would come "quickly into His temple." The Bab Himself
emphasized the brief time that would separate His own Mission from
the One to come after Him: "O My God! Bear Thou witness," He wrote,
"that through this Book, I have covenanted with all created things
concerning the Mission of Him Whom Thou shalt make manifest, ere
the covenant concerning My own Mission had been established."[F6]
Shaykh Ahmad and Siyyid Kazim promised their followers that some
of them would live to see both of these Messengers of God. After
the Dawn [the Bab], they were told, they would see the promised Sun
[Baha'u'llah]. Shaykh Ahmad was in Tihran when Baha'u'llah was
born. The following historical account of his visit has been
preserved: "Shaykh Ahmad, who recognized in its full measure the
meaning of this auspicious event [the birth of Baha'u'llah],
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 ... yearning unsatisfied, he felt
compelled to submit to God's irrevocable decree," and turned his
face away from the city. "Ere his departure from that city he
breathed a prayer that this hidden Treasure of God, new born
amongst his countrymen, might be preserved and cherished by them,
that they might recognize the full measure of His blessedness and
glory, and might be enabled to proclaim His excellence to all
nations and peoples."[F7] Shaykh Ahmad considered this moment of
Baha'u'llah's birth to be the hour foretold in the prophecy: "Ere
long shall ye behold the countenance of your Lord resplendent as
the moon in its full glory. Yet shall ye fail to unite in
acknowledging His truth and embracing His Faith." Shaykh Ahmad also
believed this to be the hour of fulfillment for those prophetic
words: "One of the most mighty signs that shall signalize the
advent of the promised Hour is this: `A woman shall give birth to
One Who shall be her Lord.'" The following similar words had been
written in the Book of Isaiah for the time of the end when the
promised Saviour would
would appear: "For Thy Maker is thine husband; the Lord of Hosts
is His name; the God of the whole earth shall He be called."[F8]
Shaykh Ahmad repeatedly impressed upon the minds of his followers
the certainty of the appearance of twin Messengers. Mirza
Muhammad, a follower of Shaykh Ahmad, recalls in this eye-witness
account some of the excitement of those days of expectancy: "At the
hour of dawn," he said, "I found him fallen upon his face,
wrapt devotion...To my great surprise, he turned to me and said
mysteriously: `That which I have been announcing unto you is now
revealed. O Muhammad, verily I say, you shall live to behold that
Day of days.' "Sometime afterwards, whilst conversing with the
followers of the Bab, I was informed that the birthday of the Bab
fell on [October 20th, 1819]. I realized that the day to which [my
friend] had referred did not correspond with this date, that there
was actually a difference of two years ... This sorely perplexed
me." Long afterwards, he met a friend who told him of the Mission
of Baha'u'llah and shared with him some of His writings. He was
moved to the depths of His soul. "I asked him the date of
Baha'u'llah's birth," Mirza Muhammad said. "He replied, `He was
born at dawn on the 12th of November, 1817.'* "It was the very day
and hour! Instinctively I fell prostrate upon the ground and
exclaimed: `Glorified art Thou, O my God, for having enabled me to
attain unto this promised day.'"[F9] The hour of Baha'u'llah's
birth marked the fulfillment of still another prophecy which spoke
of the twin Messengers Who would appear at the time of the end.
It was foretold that the Herald in that day would say of Him Who
was yet to come: "I am two years younger than My Lord."[F10] Siyyid
Kazim, who succeeded Shaykh Ahmad, continued to prepare his
followers for that same approaching day. "Verily I say," he told
them, "that after the Qa'im [the Bab], the Qa'im [Baha'u'llah] will
be made manifest. for when the star of the Former [the Bab] has
set, the Sun of the beauty of Husayn [Baha'u'llah] will rise and
illuminate the whole world." There is yet another proof of the
unique oneness which linked the Mission of the Bab with that of
Baha'u'llah. According to the *See Appendix, Note Three.
solar calendar of the West, the Bab was born October 20, 1819 and
Baha'u'llah was born November 12, 1817. However, according to the
lunar calendar of the East (in Iran, the land of Their birth), the
Bab was born on the first day of the month of Muharram and
Baha'u'llah was born on the second day of Muharram. These twin
successive holy days are celebrated as one great joyous Festival.
Siyyid Kazim told his followers: "What stress Shaykh Ahmad laid
upon all those verses as foreshadowing the advent of twin
Messengers Who are to follow Each Other in rapid succession, and
Each of Whom is destined to suffuse the world with glory! How many
times did he exclaim: `Well is it with him who will recognize their
significance and behold Their splendor!' "How often, addressing
me," Siyyid Kazim concluded, "did he remark: `Neither of us shall
live to gaze upon Their glory. But many of the faithful among
your disciples shall witness the Day which we, alas, can never hope
to behold.'"[F11] When the Bab was on His way to Tihran to meet the
Shah, the Prime Minister gave word that He was to be turned back
and sent to imprisonment in Mahku. Thus, within sight of a great
victory, within thirty miles of the capital, the Bab was denied the
opportunity of meeting the king. In that hour of keen
disappointment, a letter was delivered to the Bab at the village
of Kulayn. The letter came from Baha'u'llah. Nabil, the historian,
records that episode as follows: Mulla Muhammad had been
commissioned by Baha'u'llah 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 favor. "That message," Nabil continues,
"received at an hour of uncertainty and suspense, imparted solace
and strength to the Bab. It imbued His soul with the certainty of
victory. The cry, `Beloved, My Well Beloved!' which in His bitter
grief and loneliness the Bab would often 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 of the news of the great disaster which befell the heroes of
Shaykh Tabarsi."[F12] `Abdu'l-Karim, one of the devoted followers
of the Bab, gives the following eye-witness account of an episode
which took place one night during the Bab's stay at Kulayn:
"My companions and I were fast asleep in the vicinity of the tent
of the Bab, when the tramping of horsemen suddenly awakened us.
We were informed that the tent of the Bab was vacant, and that
those who had gone in search of Him had failed to find Him. "We
heard Muhammad Big [the Captain of the Bab's escort] calming the
soldiers. `Why worry?' he told them. `Are not the Bab's
trustworthiness and nobility sufficiently established in your eyes
to convince you that He will never embarrass you for the sake of
His own safety? No doubt He has retired in the silence of this
moonlit night to a place where He can seek undisturbed communion
with God. Be confident that He will unquestionably return to His
tent. He will never desert us.' "In his eagerness to assure 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 on horseback were marching behind us. "We
had covered about a mile when, by the dim light of the early dawn,
we saw in the distance the lonely figure of the Bab. He was coming
toward us from the direction of Tihran. "`Did you believe Me to
have escaped?' He said to Muhammad Big as He approached him. "`Far
be it from me to entertain such thoughts,' Muhammad Big assured
Him. "Muhammad Big bowed down at the feet of the Bab. He was so
awed by the serene majesty which that radiant face revealed that
morning, he could not utter another word. "A look of confidence had
settled upon the Bab's countenance. His words were invested with
such a transcendent power that a feeling of profound reverence
seized our souls. None dared to question Him as to the cause of
so remarkable a change in His speech and demeanor. Nor did He
Himself choose to allay our curiosity and wonder."[F13] Nabil in
his history records yet another time when Baha'u'llah wrote to the
Bab. The letter was sent from Tihran to the Bab in His prison at
Chihriq. "Shortly after," Nabil states, "a reply penned in the
Bab's own handwriting was received."[F14] The Bab made specific
promises to certain of His followers that they would meet the One
Whose coming He had foretold. Some of them He carefully prepared
for that meeting.[F15] Mulla Baqir, one of the Letters of the
Living, received a letter from the Bab in which
He prophesied that Mulla Baqir would meet the Promised One face to
face. To Sayy h, another disciple, He made the same verbal promise.
To Azim the Bab wrote a special tablet in which He gave the name
as well as foretold the approaching advent of this One Whom they
were all awaiting. All of His promises were fulfilled. Shaykh
Sultan was also one of the followers who received such a promise.
He journeyed to Shiraz with a friend, Shaykh Hasan. They were both
eager to meet the Bab, but Shaykh Sultan fell ill before his wish
was fulfilled. One night he received a message saying that the Bab
had heard of his illness and would visit him after dark. Shaykh
Sultan describes that visit in his own words: "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, I held fast
to His garment and entreated Him to let me sacrifice myself for His
Cause. "He replied: `O Shaykh! it behooves 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.' "The allusion of the Bab to His `Best-Beloved' excited my
wonder and curiosity. I was perplexed and unable 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."[F16] Shaykh Sultan's companion on that trip to
Shiraz, Shaykh Hasan, was given the same promise by the Bab. He
has testified to that promise in the following account: "Addressing
me one day, the Bab said, `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
[One]. As you gaze upon that radiant face, do also remember Me.
Convey to Him the expressions of My loving devotion.' He again
emphatically added the 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. I lived as bidden in that holy city. What
afflictions befell me at the hands of those followers of
Shaykh Ahmad who had still not recognized the Bab! Patiently I
submitted to their indignities. For two years I lived in that
city. "One day while passing the gate of a Shrine, my eyes fell for
the first time 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 can describe, His
penetrating glance, His kindly face, the majesty of His bearing,
the sweetness of His smile--all left an indelible impression upon
my soul. "How lovingly He advanced towards me! He took me by the
hand and addressed me in a tone of great power and beauty. 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 [One].'
"I recalled instantly the promise I had been given by the Bab, a
secret which I had not shared with anyone. These words of
Baha'u'llah's moved me to the depths of my being. I felt compelled
to proclaim to a heedless people, at that very moment and with all
my soul and power, the appearance of the One promised by the Bab.
"He [Baha'u'llah] bade me, however, repress my feelings and conceal
my emotions. `Not yet,' He cautioned. `The appointed Hour is
approaching. It has not yet struck. Rest assured and be patient.'
"From that moment on 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. Now I felt so rich that all the treasures of the earth
melted away into nothingness when compared with that which I
already possessed."[F17] From that day [in August, 1851] Shaykh
Hasan became magnetized by the charm of his newly found Master,
and but for the restraint of Baha'u'llah, would have proclaimed to
all that the One promised by the Bab had already appeared, and that
they should now shed the agonizing sorrow they felt because of the
Bab's departure. In the city of Baghdad, but a short distance away
from Karbila, Baha'u'llah was soon to make the same declaration to
His followers that the Bab had made to His disciples in Shiraz.
This was the meaning hidden in that prophesy quoted to Mulla Husayn
by the Bab Himself on the roof of the prison-castle of Mahku:
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."[F18] There was a constant link between the Bab and
Baha'u'llah through the Bab's disciples, especially those whose
tragic story has been told in the preceding chapters. Baha'u'llah
played a vital and moving part in the tale of Tabarsi, Nayriz,
Tihran and Badasht, as well as in the lives of Mulla Husayn,
Quddus, Vahid and Tahirih. When the Bab bade Mulla Husayn farewell
in Shiraz before leaving for Mecca to announce His Mission, He
spoke these words to him: "Follow the course of your journey
towards the north, and visit ... 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 a paradise. My hope is that
you may partake of its grace and recognize its splendor." To soften
the blow of disappointment for Mulla Husayn at being left behind,
the Bab once again emphasized the importance of Tihran and Mulla
Husayn's visit there, thus alluding to the birthplace of both
Baha'u'llah and Himself. "Grieve not that you have not been chosen
to accompany Me ... I shall, instead, direct your steps to that
city which enshrines a Mystery of such transcendent holiness ...
as Shiraz cannot hope to rival."[F19] Mulla Husayn reached Tihran.
He spent the daylight hours teaching the Faith of the Bab, but
from sunset to dawn he remained alone in his room in prayer and
meditation, beseeching God to disclose to him this holy "Mystery"
of which the Bab had spoken, and to lead him to the "mansion" of
the Bab's Beloved. Mulla Husayn met Mulla Muhammad of Nur at this
time. Mulla Husayn asked him if he knew any person who was
distinguished above others, someone renowned for his character.
"Yes, there is one," Mulla Muhammad told him. "What is his
occupation?" Mulla Husayn asked. "He cheers the disconsolate and
feeds the hungry." "What of his rank and position?" "He has none
apart from befriending the poor and the stranger." "What is his
name?" Mulla Husayn asked.
"It is Husayn `Ali." "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 a face beaming with satisfaction
and joy, he once more inquired: `I presume you meet him often?'
"`Frequently I visit his home.' "`Will you deliver into his hands
a trust from me?'" Mulla Husayn gave Mulla Muhammad a scroll of the
Bab's writings. "Should He deign to answer me," Mulla Husayn added,
"will you be kind enough to acquaint me with His reply?" Mulla
Muhammad took the scroll at once to Baha'u'llah. Baha'u'llah
accepted it and bade Mulla Muhammad to be seated. He unfolded the
scroll, glanced at its contents, and began reading it aloud to
those who were present. He stopped reading and turned to His
friends. "Verily," He said, "I say, whoso believes in the Qur'an
--and yet hesitates, though it be for a moment, to admit that these
soul-stirring words are endowed with the same regenerating power,
has assuredly erred in his judgement and strayed far from the paths
of Justice." Baha'u'llah gave a gift to Mulla Muhammad to bring to
Mulla Husayn. It was a small gift of sugar and tea. He asked that
His appreciation and love be conveyed to Mulla Husayn along with
the gift. "With what joy and exultation Mulla Husayn received
them," Mulla Muhammad reported. "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." Mulla
Husayn embraced Mulla Muhammad and kissed his eyes which had so
recently gazed upon Baha'u'llah. "May God fill your heart with
gladness," he told him, "even as you have rejoiced mine." Mulla
Muhammad was puzzled. He said to himself: "What can be the nature
of the bond that unites these two souls? What could have kindled
such a fellowship between strangers? Why should Mulla Husayn, who
considers riches and fame as the merest trifles,
have shown such gladness at the sight of this tiny gift from the
hands of Baha'u'llah?" A few days later Mulla Husayn left for
Khurasan. As he said farewell to Mulla Muhammad, he warned him:
"Do not breathe to anyone what you have heard and witnessed. Let
this be a secret within your breast. Divulge not His name, for they
who envy His position will arise to harm Him. Pray that God may
protect Him until such a day as He may exalt the downtrodden,
enrich the poor, and redeem the fallen. The secret of this thing
is still concealed from our eyes. Ours is now the duty to raise
the call of the New Day and prepare men's hearts, and proclaim this
Divine Message unto all people. "Many a pure soul," Mulla Husayn
concluded, "will shed his blood in this city. That blood will
water the Tree of God, and will cause it to flourish until it
overshadows all mankind."[F20] With these parting words, Mulla
Husayn left Tihran. He wrote a report to the Bab, telling Him of
his teaching work, and describing to Him his experience with
Baha'u'llah in Tihran. Quddus and the Bab's uncle were both with
the Bab when that letter from Mulla Husayn arrived. The Bab's
uncle has left an account of that moment: "That night," he said,
"I saw such evidences of joy and gladness on the faces of the Bab
and Quddus as I am unable to recount. I often heard the Bab in
those days exultantly repeat the words: `How marvelous, how
exceedingly marvelous, is that which occurred between the months
of Jamadi and Rajab!' "As He was reading the letter from Mulla
Husayn, He turned to Quddus and, showing him certain passages,
explained the reason for His joyous expressions." The Bab's uncle
told his fellow-companions what he had witnessed that night. He
also mentioned the Bab's reference to the wonder of the days
between Jamadi and Rajab. This impressed Mirza Ahmad who waited
until Mulla Husayn returned to Shiraz, then asked him what had
happened at that particular time. Mulla Husayn smiled and said,
"Between the months of Jamadi and Rajab, I chanced to be in
Tihran." He would give no further explanation. "This was
sufficient 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 heart of the Bab."[F21]
Mulla Husayn met Baha'u'llah a second time just before he began his
journey on foot to the Bab's prison in Mahku. He was ushered with
secrecy into the presence of Baha'u'llah, and shortly after this
interview, Mulla Husayn set out for his last visit with the Bab.
From Mahku, he returned yet another time to the presence of
Baha'u'llah. Their last meeting was inside the fort of Tabarsi.
Quddus also knew the joy of meeting Baha'u'llah. When the Bab and
Quddus returned from Medina to Bushihr, the Bab sent Quddus to
Shiraz. He said to him in parting: "In the streets of Shiraz
indignities will be heaped upon you ... you will survive, ... and
will attain the presence of Him Who is the object of our adoration
and love. In His presence you will forget all the harm and
disgrace that shall have befallen you." Quddus suffered greatly in
Shiraz, from there he went to Tihran where he was admitted into
the presence of Baha'u'llah, and all of the Bab's promises came
true. Quddus and Baha'u'llah met again at the conference of
Badasht. When Baha'u'llah was informed of the arrival of Quddus
at a town near Badasht, He set out on horseback to meet him. They
returned to Badasht together the next morning at sunrise.[F22]
Shortly after this conference when Quddus and a party of the
followers of the Bab were being ruthlessly attacked, Baha'u'llah
came to their rescue. He immediately gave His protection to
Quddus. He clothed Quddus in His own garments to disguise him so
that he would not be recognized, and then He escorted him to a
place of safety. When Quddus was imprisoned in Sari by Muhammad
Taqi, it was Baha'u'llah Who secured his release so that Quddus
might join Mulla Husayn at the fort of Tabarsi. Baha'u'llah,
Himself, then visited them there.[F23] The night preceding the
arrival of Mulla Husayn and his party at Tabarsi, the guardian of
the shrine dreamed that a holy man and a large company of his
friends came and fought valiantly and triumphantly. He dreamed
that the Prophet of God, Himself, came one night and visited that
blessed company. Soon after this Baha'u'llah arrived at a nearby
village. He sent word to Mulla Husayn that he and all his
companions were to be His guests that night, and that He would join
them at Tabarsi that very afternoon. The following is an
eye-witness account of that meeting:
"The tidings imparted an indefinable joy to the heart of Mulla
Husayn. He bade his companions bestir themselves for the reception
of Baha'u'llah. He himself joined them in sweeping, cleaning, and
sprinkling with water the dusty entrances for the arrival of the
beloved Visitor. As soon as he saw Him approaching, he rushed
forward and embraced Him tenderly, and conducted Him to the place
of honor. We were too blind in those days to recognize the glory
of Him Whom our leader had introduced with such reverence and love
into our midst. What Mulla Husayn had perceived, our dull vision
was yet unable to recognize. We, too, were soon made to feel the
charm of His utterance. Mulla Husayn was so filled with delight,
so lost in admiration that he was totally oblivious of us all. It
was Baha'u'llah, Himself, Who finally bade us be seated."
Baha'u'llah examined the fort, then assisted the companions with
suggestions on how to strengthen their defenses to help protect
their lives. He dispelled their fears and raised their
determination to sacrifice all for God. Baha'u'llah said, "The one
thing this fort and company require to render it complete is the
presence of Quddus." He instructed Mulla Husayn to send six friends
to Sari to demand that Muhammad Taqi deliver Quddus into their
hands. Mulla Husayn and his companions were surprised, knowing
that Quddus was being held prisoner. Baha'u'llah assured them,
"The fear of God and the dread of His punishment will prompt him
to surrender unhesitatingly his captive." Before Baha'u'llah left
Tabarsi, He told the friends to be patient and resigned to the Will
of God. "If it be His will, We shall once again visit you at this
same spot and shall lend you Our assistance." Mulla Husayn set six
of his companions to Sari with Baha'u'llah's message. Muhammad
Taqi released Quddus at once, to the astonishment of all. Mulla
Husayn's companions were deeply moved by the effect of
Baha'u'llah's presence upon them all. One of them has left this
memory of Mulla Husayn's reaction to that visit: "I can still
remember him [Mulla Husayn] as he advanced towards me in the
stillness of those dark and lonely hours which I devoted to prayer
and meditation. `Banish from your mind,' he told me, `these
perplexities. Arise, and seek with me to drink of the cup of
martyrdom. Then you will be able to comprehend, as the
year [1863] [the year of Baha'u'llah's Declaration] dawns upon the
world the secret of the things which now lie hidden from you.'"
Baha'u'llah was also the moving Figure behind the conference of
Badasht at which so many of the outstanding followers of the Bab
were present.[F24] Nabil, the historian, relates, "It was the
beginning of summer. Upon His arrival at Badasht, Baha'u'llah
rented three gardens, one of which he assigned to Quddus, another
to Tahirih, and a third for Himself. All of those who were
gathered at Badasht were the guests of Baha'u'llah from the time
of their arrival until the day of their departure. Upon each of
the followers of the Bab, Baha'u'llah bestowed a new name. It was
He Who gave the name `Quddus' to the last of the Bab's chosen
disciples. He also gave the name `Tahirih' to that great woman."
He Himself was henceforth designated by the name "Baha." The close
relationship of spirit between the Bab and Baha'u'llah is nowhere
better demonstrated than at Badasht. None of those companions knew
the Source of the bold, defiant and far-reaching changes in the old
laws and traditions which took place there, and no one suspected
that it was Baha'u'llah's hand which steadily and unerringly
steered the course of that conference. "To each of those who had
convened at Badasht," Nabil continues, "a special letter was
written by the Bab. He addressed each one by the name which
Baha'u'llah had conferred upon him." From that time on, they were
known only by those names. When some of the followers complained
about the boldness of Tahirih, saying that she had been indiscrete
to cast aside the veil, the Bab replied in these stirring words:
"What am I to say regarding her whom the Tongue of Power and Glory
[Baha'u'llah], has named Tahirih, [the Pure One]?" At that same
conference, Tahirih concluded one of her eloquent addresses by
glancing toward Baha'u'llah and quoting a prophetic verse: "Verily,
amid gardens and rivers shall the pious dwell in the Seat of Truth,
in the presence of the Potent King." Then Tahirih declared that she
was the blast of the bugle that annulled the past ages. Dr. T. K.
Cheyne writes of this, stating, "It is said, too, that this short
speech of the brave woman was followed by a recitation by
Baha'u'llah of the Surih [Chapter] of Resurrection ... 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."[F25] Baha'u'llah arranged for the
departure of the friends from Badasht, just as He had arranged for
their arrival. On their way home, Tahirih composed an ode each
day which she shared with her companions. These verses told of the
obsolete conventions, rituals and traditions which had chained the
consciences of men and women in the past, and how these fetters had
at last been boldly challenged and fearlessly swept away by the
meeting held at Badasht. The companions memorized the odes and
chanted them in unison as they walked along together. Mountain and
valley echoed with the shouts of that enthusiastic band as they
hailed the extinction of the old and the birth of the new Day.[F26]
Baha'u'llah's guiding hand constantly reached out to assist the
companions of the Bab. Tahirih, more than any other disciple, was
indebted to Him for His protection and kindness.[F27] When she was
imprisoned in Qazvin and threatened with hot irons, she boldly
declared to her captor: "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." It was Baha'u'llah Who rescued Tahirih from her prison
in Qazvin. When He heard of her captivity, He dispatched a woman,
disguised as a beggar, to the home where Tahirih was confined. He
instructed that she deliver a letter to Tahirih who would then of
her own will, unmolested by her captors, walk out free from that
prison-house. The beggar-woman was instructed to await Tahirih's
appearance at the entrance. "As soon as Tahirih has joined you,"
Baha'u'llah informed this messenger, "Start immediately for
Tihran." This very night, I shall dispatch to the neighborhood of
the gate of Qazvin an attendant with three horses that you will
take with you and station at a place outside the walls. ... You
will conduct Tahirih to that spot, will mount the horses, and will,
by an unfrequented route, endeavor to reach at daybreak the
outskirts of the capital. As soon as the gates of the city are
opened, you must enter the city and proceed immediately to My
house. You should exercise the utmost caution lest her identity
be disclosed." Baha'u'llah reassured the worried messenger, who
felt that such a delivery would require a miracle. "The Almighty
will assuredly
guide your steps." He said, "and will surround you with His
unfailing protection." Nabil writes, "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. She [perceived] through her own intuitive knowledge the
future glory of Baha'u'llah." "I have myself been shown," Nabil
affirms, "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." Baha'u'llah
rescued Tahirih another time immediately following the conference
of Badasht. On the way to their homes, the party had assembled
in the village of Niyal . They were all resting at the foot of a
mountain, when suddenly at the hour of dawn, they were awakened by
a shower of stones. The people of the village were hurling rocks
at them from the top of the mountain. The attack was unexpected
and fierce. The cries of the mob, the sound of the rolling rocks
and showering stones, alarmed the friends and they fled for safety.
Baha'u'llah found Tahirih in grave danger. She and one believer
from Shiraz had been unable to escape. The enemy had demolished
the camp and was plundering the property. The follower from Shiraz
was defending what remained of the companion's possessions. He was
already badly wounded. Baha'u'llah walked into the crowd of
attackers armed only with the sword of His tongue. He convinced
them of the cruelty and shamefulness of their behavior. He
induced them to restore the property which they had not yet carried
off. He rescued Tahirih from their hands and escorted her to a
place of safety. Nabil writes of these frequent victories which
Baha'u'llah won by His word alone. "All classes of men marveled
at His miraculous success in emerging unscathed from the most
perilous encounters. Nothing short of Divine protection, they
thought, could have assured His safety on such occasions."[F28]
Baha'u'llah also lent His strength and assistance to Vahid. The
following is an historical account of their friendship: "[Vahid]
hastened to the capital where he undertook the necessary
preparations for his journey to the fort of Tabarsi. He was
preparing to leave, when Baha'u'llah arrived from Mazindaran and
informed him of the impossibility of joining his brethren. He was
greatly saddened at the news, and his only consolation in those
days was to visit Baha'u'llah frequently, and to obtain the benefit
of His wise and priceless counsel."[F29] It was following these
visits with Baha'u'llah that Mirza Jani, Vahid's friend, wrote: "I
observed on his [Vahid's] august countenance the signs of a glory
and power which I had not noticed during my first journey with him
to the capital, nor on other occasions of meeting."[F30] The
messenger, Sayy h, whom the Bab commissioned to go to Tabarsi and
Barfurush on His behalf, and bring back some of the holy earth that
covered the remains of Mulla Husayn and Quddus, visited Baha'u'llah
before returning to the Bab's prison of Chihriq. Vahid was an
honored guest of Baha'u'llah at the time of Sayy h's coming. Sayy
h appeared at Baha'u'llah's door in the bitter cold of winter. He
was barefooted, poorly clad, and dishevelled. Vahid was told of
Sayy h's arrival from Tabarsi. Completely oblivious of the dignity
and honor to which a man of his position and fame was accustomed,
Vahid rushed forward to meet him and threw himself at Sayy h's
feet. He embraced those legs which were covered to the knees with
mud from the earth of Tabarsi. It was to this same Sayy h that
Baha'u'llah gave a letter to take to the Bab at Chihriq. Shortly
afterward a reply came from the prison in the Bab's own
handwriting. Baha'u'llah overwhelmed Sayy h with His kindness
during this visit, and showered the same love upon Vahid. The
brother of Baha'u'llah has said: "I was amazed at the many
instances of loving solicitude which Baha'u'llah evinced toward
Vahid. He showered him with such favors 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 immortalized the
defenders of Tabarsi."[F31] Following this final visit to
Baha'u'llah's home, Vahid set out on his last journey to Yazd and
Nayriz where he laid down his life for his Faith. The same love
and encouragement which Baha'u'llah gave to
Vahid was bestowed upon Hujjat of Zanjan as well. Hujjat was the
hero of the most violent upheaval of all. In the village of
Zanjan, nearly two thousand followers of the Bab, including
Hujjat, gave up their lives. When the Bab had passed through
Zanjan on His way to prison, He foretold this disaster: "This town
will be thrown into a great tumult, and its streets will run with
blood."[F32] His prediction came true, and His much loved Hujjat,
along with many of his companions, was besieged by a host of
soldiers in Zanjan. The governor of Zanjan sent a crier through
the streets saying, "All who throw in their lot with Hujjat will
be destroyed, and their wives and children exposed to misery and
shame!" This warning divided the city into two camps. There were
pathetic sights of families being separated by their belief or
disbelief in the Bab. Fathers turned away from their sons, women
from their husbands, children from their mothers. Every tie of
worldly affection seemed to be dissolved on that day. Zanjan
became a city of panic. Men ran frantically to and fro trying to
collect their wives and children and to persuade them to stand
with them. Families divided their belongings and their children.
Many wept over what they had to abandon. Whole houses were
deserted. When a man, a woman, or a child would tear itself from
its family or friends and rush to the support of Hujjat, a cry of
joy would go up from one camp, and a moan of despair from the
other. It was such a day as foretold by Christ for the days of the
end when "brother shall deliver up brother to death, and the father
the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents
and cause them to be put to death."[F33] This was the day
prophesied also by Muhammad, the day on which man shall fly from
his brother, and his mother and his father, and his wife and his
children."[F34] One night during the struggle, the followers of the
Bab carried out His instructions to repeat the following praises
of the Almighty: "God the Great!" "God the Most Great!" "God the
Most Beauteous!" "God the Most Glorious!" "God the Most Pure!" In
unison they repeated the phrases over and over. "So loud and
compelling was the reply," historical account states, "that the
enemy was rudely awakened from sleep, abandoned the camp in horror,
and, hurrying to the environs of the governor's residence, sought
shelter. A few were so shocked they dropped dead." Part of the
soldier's camp was in the midst of noisy revelry. Their
boisterous party was suddenly interrupted by the shouts of those
voices raised in praise of God. Officers who were holding their
wine glasses in their hands, dropped them instantly. Men and
women rushed headlong from the building as if stunned by the
outcry. Gambling tables were overturned in the disorder that
followed. Half dressed, a number ran out into the wilderness.
Others fled to the homes of the religious leaders. As soon as the
camp discovered that it was not a dreadful attack being launched
against them, but words of praise raised to the glory of God, they
returned to their posts and pleasures, reassured, though greatly
humiliated by this experience.[F35] Hujjat had boldly testified in
the presence of the king and the Prime Minister and the assembled
priests and other religious leaders that the Bab was the Promised
One. "It is my firm and unalterable conviction," he told them,
"That the Bab is the very One Whose coming you yourself, with all
the peoples of the world, are eagerly awaiting. He is our Lord,
our Promised Deliverer. If He were to entrust me with the meanest
service in His household, I would deem it an honor such as the
highest favors of my King could never hope to surpass."[F36] Hujjat
returned to his home and urged everyone to accept the Bab. "The
goal for which the world has been striving is now here," he told
them. "The Sun of Truth has arisen. Fix your eyes upon the Bab,
not upon me, the least of His slaves. My wisdom compared to His
is as an unlighted candle compared to the sun at midday."[F37]
Shortly before his death, Hujjat was grievously wounded. His wife
and child were slain before his eyes. Though filled with the
greatest grief, he refused to yield to complete sorrow. He would
not permit himself to become one who begs for this world's favors.
He cried out in his pain: "O my God, on the day when I found Thy
Beloved One, I foresaw the woes I should suffer for Thee. Great
as have been my sufferings, they cannot compare to the agonies I
would willingly suffer in Thy name. "How can this miserable life
of mine, and even the loss of my dear wife and child, and the
sacrifices of my kindred and companions, compare to the blessings
which the recognition of Thy
Messenger can bestow both in this world and in the next. I only
wish that a multitude of lives were mine, and that I possessed the
riches of the whole earth, so that I might freely and joyously
resign them all in Thy path!"[F38] Gobineau in his account says,
"I have seen at Zanjan the ruins of that fierce encounter; whole
sections of the city have not yet been rebuilt and probably never
will be."[F39] Nicolas testifies that the entire affair was settled
by the same treachery resorted to at Tabarsi and Nayriz. He
portrays the attitude of the enemies of Hujjat as follows: "Why not
resort to deceit? Why not make the most sacred promises, even
though it might later become necessary to massacre those gullible
who had put their trust in them?"[F40] No wonder that the Bab was
to give Zanjan the title: "That exalted spot."[F41] When, at
Chihriq in the summer of 1848, the Bab finished His letter "The
Sermon of Wrath," in which He foretold the downfall of the Prime
Minister, Haji Mirza Aqasi, it was given to Hujjat to deliver. He
instructed Hujjat to place it personally in the hands of that
official. Immediately after delivering that letter to Haji Mirza
Aqasi, Hujjat went to the home of Baha'u'llah. He revealed the
contents of that "Sermon of Wrath" and recited for Him and a few
other believers the entire letter which he had memorized. Hujjat's
sole comfort in those days was his close association with
Baha'u'llah, from Whom he received the sustaining power that
enabled him to distinguish himself by remarkable deeds in the days
to come.[F44] From Baha'u'llah's home, Hujjat went to Zanjan where
he, like his illustrious companions Vahid, Tahirih, Mulla Husayn,
and Quddus, laid down his life for his Beloved. From the very first
moment when the Bab had revealed the commentary for Mulla Husayn
on the eve of May 23, 1844, He linked His own Mission with that of
Baha'u'llah. Nabil states in his history: "Did not the Bab, in
the earliest days of His Mission allude, in the opening passages
of His commentary on the Surih of Joseph, to the glory and
significance of the Revelation of Baha'u'llah? Was it not His
purpose, by dwelling upon the ingratitude and malice which
characterized the treatment of Joseph by his brethren, to predict
what Baha'u'llah was destined to suffer at the hands of His brother
and kindred?"[F43]
In His farewell address to His chosen disciples, the Bab stated
clearly that He was but the forerunner of a greater One yet to
come. "I am preparing you for the advent of a mighty Day," He told
them in that parting message. "Scatter throughout the length and
breadth of this land, and, with steadfast feet and sanctified
hearts, prepare the way for His coming."[F44] The Bab also
instructed His disciples to record the names of all the believers
who accepted the Faith. "Of all these believers I shall make
mention in the Tablet of God," He told them, 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
blessing."[F45] It was from the names of these believers that the
first followers of Baha'u'llah came, and upon whom He conferred His
special blessing and love. The Bab did everything in His power to
assist His followers so that they would know where to turn after
His own martyrdom. He clearly announced that He was the Promised
One, but that He stood in relation to a succeeding and greater
(Messenger) as did John the Baptist to the Christ. He was the
Forerunner of One more mighty than Himself. He (the Bab) was to
decrease; that Mighty One was to increase. And as John the Baptist
had been the Herald or Gate of the Christ, so was (He) the Bab the
Herald or Gate of Baha'u'llah."[F46] "Consecrate thou, O my God,
the whole of this Tree unto Him ...," He wrote of Baha'u'llah. "I
have not wished that this Tree should ever bear any branch, leaf,
or fruit that would fail to bow down before Him on the day of His
Revelation ... And, shouldst Thou behold, O my God, any branch,
leaf or fruit upon Me that hath failed to bow down before Him on
the day of His Revelation, cut it off, O my God from that Tree, for
it is not of Me. ..."[F47] "Ere nine [years] will have elapsed from
the inception of this Cause," the Bab wrote in another place,
pointing out even the exact hour of Baha'u'llah's coming, the
realities of the created things will not be made manifest. ... Be
patient until thou beholdest a new creation." "In the year nine ye
will attain unto all good." "In the year nine ye will attain unto
the presence of God."[F48] Before nine years had elapsed, in fact
during the ninth year
[1853], Baha'u'llah's Mission began, thus fulfilling not only the
promise of the Bab and that of Shaykh Ahmad and Siyyid Kazim, but
also the prophecy from the sacred writings of that land which said:
"In the year [1844] the earth shall be illumined by His light. ...
If thou livest until the year [1853] thou shalt witness how the
nations, the rulers, the peoples, and the Faith of God shall have
been renewed."[F49] The Bab's challenging words written at Mahku
seal forever the bond that unites Him with Baha'u'llah. "Well is
it with him who fixeth his gaze upon the Order of Baha'u'llah and
rendereth thanks unto his Lord! For He will assuredly be made
manifest."[F50] "I verily am a believer in Him," the Bab declares
to the world, "and in His Faith, and in His Book. ..."[F51]
Baha'u'llah on His part had such a love for the Bab that He would
not let Him suffer any pain, indignity, or humiliation in which He,
Baha'u'llah, did not share. The Bab was first confined in the house
of the Chief Constable of Shiraz. Shortly after this Baha'u'llah
was confined in the house of one of the religious leaders in
Tihran. The Bab's second imprisonment was in the castle of Mahku;
that of Baha'u'llah followed when He was imprisoned in the
residence of the governor of `Amul. The Bab was scourged in the
prayer-house in Tabriz. The very same punishment was inflicted
shortly after this upon Baha'u'llah in the prayer-house at `Amul.
The Bab's third imprisonment was in the castle of Chihriq; that of
Baha'u'llah followed in the "Black Pit" prison of Tihran. The Bab
was struck in the face with missiles in the streets of Tabriz.
Baha'u'llah was pelted with stones on the streets of `Amul, and
struck in the face with a rock on His way to prison in Tihran. The
Bab was slain in the public square of Tabriz. Baha'u'llah underwent
nearly half a century of living martyrdom. He was exiled and
imprisoned for forty years. He was poisoned in the "Black Pit."
He was set upon by assassins in Baghdad. He was poisoned again in
Adrianople. He was approached by yet another assassin in the
prison of `Akka. To His grave Baha'u'llah carried the scars of
great prison-chains which had torn the flesh from His shoulders.
Nabil recounts in his history: "The Bab, Whose trials and
sufferings had preceded, in almost every case, 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 [the Bab's] lips. "Such
love no eye has ever beheld, nor has mortal heart ever 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 depth of that devotion unfathomed."[F52] *
Their Missions were bound together for eternity. * Thus it was
that the Bab was able to leave the prison of Chihriq in peace and
with eagerness, and begin what He knew would be His last journey
on this earth. He had fulfilled His task. He was the Dawn, and
He had faithfully prepared His followers for the coming of the Sun
itself. "I, verily, have not fallen short of My duty to admonish
that people, and devise means whereby they may turn towards God
...," He said. "If on the day of His Revelation, all that are on
earth bear Him allegiance, Mine inmost being will rejoice, inasmuch
as all will have attained the summit of their existence, and will
have been brought face to face with their Beloved ... I truly
have nurtured all things for this purpose. How then can anyone be
veiled from Him?"[F53] "I have educated all men, that they may
recognize this Revelation." The Bab's heart was turned toward
Tihran and Baha'u'llah when He wrote those moving words that
foreshadowed the hours that were fast sweeping down upon Him: "I
have sacrificed Myself wholly for Thee; I have accepted curses for
Thy sake, and have yearned for naught but martyrdom in the path of
Thy love."[F54] The soldiers bearing that fatal edict from the
Prime Minister that called for His execution were already at the
gates of the prison-castle of Chihriq. The Bab, confident that
He had expended every effort in the path of God, had already sent
His writings, His pen-case, His seals, and His ring to Baha'u'llah,
along with a beautiful scroll filled with the praises and glory of
His name. Now He calmly awaited His escort of death.
The Martyrdom of the Bab A wave of violence unprecedented in its
cruelty, its persistency, and is breadth swept over the face of the
entire land. From Khurasan on the eastern border of Persia to
Tabriz on the west, from the northern cities of Zanjan and Tihran
stretching as far south as Nayriz, the country was enveloped in
darkness. Many recalled the prophecy of Shaykh Ahmad who spoke so
glowingly of the Twin Revelations that were at hand. He had warned
his followers to expect those days of suffering. "Pray God," he
told them, "that you may not be present in (1) the day of the
coming of the Prophet or (2) the day of His return, as there will
be many civil wars. If any of you should be living at that time,
he shall see strange things between the years 1844 and 1851."[F1]
Nicolas in his account of those days says: "The anxious priests,
feeling their flock quivering with impatience and ready to escape
their control, redoubled their slanders ...; the grossest lies,
the most bloody fictions were spread among the bewildered populace,
torn between terror and admiration."[F2] When the news of the death
of His beloved uncle reached the Bab, and he heard the moving
account of the tragic fate of the seven martyrs of Tihran, "His
heart was plunged in sorrow. He wrote a special tribute in their
honor which testified to the exalted position they occupied in His
eyes. The Bab said that these
seven heroes were the "Seven Goats" spoken of in the prophecies of
Islam who on the Day of Judgement would "walk in front of the
Promised Qa'im [He who shall arise]."[F3] It was at this moment
that the Prime Minister, Mirza Taqi Khan, issued the command that
brought the Bab out of His prison-cell of Chihriq. The Prime
Minister had at last decided to strike at the very head of the
Faith. The forces of the Shah and the members of the clergy were
suffering humiliating defeats all across the land. Remove the Bab,
the Prime Minister told himself, and the old order could be
restored. He called his counselors together and unfolded to them
his plan. This was a drastic change from the Prime Minister's
original plan. Up to now, Mirza Taqi Khan had felt that the most
effective way of destroying the Bab's influence would be to ruin
him morally "to bring him out of his retreat in Chihriq where a
halo of suffering, holiness, science and eloquence made him radiate
like a sun; to show him to the people just as he was ... a vulgar
charlatan, a weak dreamer who did not have courage enough to
conceive, still less to direct the daring enterprises" of Tabarsi,
Nayriz and Zanjan, "or even to take part in them."[F4] These
counsellors pointed out that the Bab's conduct while He was in
prison gave no evidence that He was such a person as the Prime
Minister suggested. He bore all hardships without complaint. He
prayed and worked incessantly. Those who came near Him felt the
power of His personality. Did they not have the alarming examples
of the two wardens of Mahku and Chihriq? Both had been bitter
enemies of the Bab, but through His mere presence among them, they
had become enraptured friends. Had not the authorities sent the
greatest religious leader of them all, Vahid, to investigate and
discredit the Bab? He, too, upon meeting Him had forsaken the
King, his own fame, and his very life for this Prisoner. Was there
any comfort to be found in this? What about Manuchihr Khan's
conversion? What about the reports of the spies near the prison of
Chihriq? They reported that the Bab spoke often of His death
during these days. It was reported that He referred to His death
as something not only familiar, but pleasant. Suppose He should
display an undaunted courage if exhibited in chains throughout the
country? Suppose He confused and bewildered the subtle doctors
they chose to debate against Him? Suppose they bowed down in
belief before
Him as the wisest of all, Vahid, had done? Suppose He became more
of a hero and martyr than ever to the people as a result of His
treatment? What then? Gobineau himself in his history says, "Those
who came near him felt in spite of themselves the fascinating
influence of his personality, of his manner and of his speech. His
guards were not free from that weakness."[F5] The risk was too
great. After weighing the matter with care, the counsellors of the
Prime Minister decided against this plan. They dared not take this
chance. Now the Prime Minister insisted on more drastic action
against the Bab. He cursed the laxity with which his predecessor,
Haji Mirza Aqasi, had allowed so great a peril to grow. He was
determined that this weak policy must cease at once. To allow the
Bab to continue to gain in glory and prestige was unthinkable.
"Nothing," he told them, "short of his public execution can, to my
mind, enable this distracted country to recover its tranquility
and peace!" Seeing his wrath, not a single voice dared to speak
against his plan. After a long silence, one quiet courageous voice
arose in protest. It was that of the Minister of War who was later
to succeed Mirza Taqi Khan. He suggested a less violent course.
The Prime Minister was very displeased. He put down this opposition
at once. "Nothing short of the remedy I advocate can uproot this
evil and bring us the peace for which we long," he said.
Disregarding the advice of any who disagreed with him, the Prime
Minister dispatched an order to the governor of Tabriz, commanding
that the Bab be brought from Chihriq to Tabriz. The order
requested that the Bab be imprisoned in this city where He would
later be told of His fate. The Prime Minister was afraid to bring
the Bab to Tihran for execution, lest His presence there set in
motion forces which the Prime Minister would be powerless to
control. Therefore, the Bab was to be done to death in Tabriz, in
the north.[F6] Three days after the Bab was transferred from prison
to Tabriz, a second order was sent to the governor. This order
instructed him to execute the Bab. He refused. "This is a task
only for the most ignoble," he said indignantly. "Who am I to be
called upon to slay an innocent descendent of our own Prophet?"
The Bab was descended from the family of Bani-Hashim, which was the
family of Muhammad, and through Ismail from Abraham, Himself, Whose
"seed would inherit the earth." The governor, as well as most of
the people, was familiar with the prophecy in their Books which
said that "should a youth from Bani-Hashim be made manifest and
summon the people to a new book and to new laws, all should hasten
to Him and embrace His Cause."[F7] The Prime Minister was very
angry with the governor, but he was determined that nothing should
stop this execution. He ordered his own brother, Mirza Hasan Khan,
to carry out his orders. The brother tried to inform the governor
of these new instructions, but the governor refused to meet him,
pretending to be ill. Mirza Hasan Khan then personally took over
the plans for the execution. He ordered the immediate transfer of
the Bab to a death cell in the city barracks. He had the Bab's
turban and sash, the twin emblems of His noble lineage, ripped off.
He ordered Sam Khan, the head of the execution regiment, to post
ten special guards outside the door of the Bab's cell. As the Bab
was being led through the courtyard to His cell in the barracks,
a young boy from Tabriz rushed forward from the crowd. He was but
eighteen years old. His face was haggard, his feet were bare, his
hair dishevelled. He forced his way through the mob, ignoring the
peril to his own life which such an action involved. He flung
himself at the feet of the Bab. "Send me not from Thee, O Master,"
he implored. "Wherever Thou goest, suffer me to follow Thee." The
Bab smiled down upon him and spoke gently. "Muhammad-`Ali, arise,"
He told the young man, "and rest assured that you will be with Me.
Tomorrow you will witness what God hath decreed."[F8] Dr. T. K.
Cheyne writes: "It is no doubt a singular coincidence that both
[the Bab] and Jesus Christ are reported to have addressed these
words to a disciple: `Today thou shalt be with Me in
Paradise.'"[F9] The youth was arrested and cast into the same cell
with the Bab and condemned to death with Him. Soon the story of
this young man became known to everyone. He had learned of the
Faith of the Bab when the Bab had first passed through Tabriz on
His way to prison at Mahku. At once he became an ardent believer.
He longed to visit the Bab in His prison and offer his life for the
Faith. The boy's stepfather was one of the most illustrious
citizens of Tabriz. He refused to let the boy leave the city. He
feared that his son would shame the family by publicly admitting
that he believed in the Bab, so he confined the boy to his room
and put a strict watch over him. The young man began to sicken in
this confinement until at length the stepfather became worried.
Shaykh Hasan, who was related to the stepfather, had just been sent
to Tabriz by the Bab with a number of manuscripts. He gives the
following eye-witness account of his meeting with that young man.
"Every day I visited him," Shaykh Hasan recalls, "and every day I
witnessed the tears of sorrow that rained from his eyes. After
the Bab had been scourged and returned to Chihriq, I visited him
again. This time 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 have beheld this face of mine,' he said, `and these eyes
have gazed upon his countenance.' "`Let me tell you the secret of
my happiness,' he said. `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." "`I was so
overcome with emotion that I seemed to lose 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, 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 smile has
removed all the loneliness of my confinement. "`I am firmly
convinced,' the young man told me, `that the hour at which His
pledge is to be fulfilled can no longer be delayed.' "I urged him
to be patient and to conceal his emotion. He promised not to
divulge his secret and undertook to show the utmost forbearance
and kindness toward his stepfather. I assured the stepfather of
the boy's willingness to obey, 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 sincerity and
joy with his parents and kinsmen. Such was his behavior 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."[F10] The young man's confidence in his vision never
diminished, and the day came at last when he saw the Bab with his
own eyes in the barracks courtyard. He flung himself at His feet,
looked up at that wondrous smile he knew so well, and heard the
Bab fulfill His promise with these words: "Arise, you shall be with
Me." On that last night in His barracks cell, the face of the Bab
was aglow with a joy such as had never shone from His face before.
Dr. T. K. Cheyne in his account of the Bab writes: "We learn that,
at great points in his career ... such radiance of might and
majesty streamed from his countenance that none could bear to look
upon the effulgence of his glory and beauty. Nor was it an
uncommon occurrence for unbelievers to bow down in lowly obeisance
on beholding His holiness."[F11] Siyyid Husayn has left the
following eye-witness account of the Bab's last night on earth:
"Indifferent to the storm that raged about Him, He conversed with
us with gaiety and cheerfulness. The sorrows that had weighed so
heavily upon Him seemed to have completely vanished. "`Tomorrow,'
He said, `will be the day of My martyrdom. Would that one of you
might arise and, with his own hands, end My life. I prefer to be
slain by the hand of a friend than by that of the enemy.' "We
shrank, however, at the thought of taking away with our own hands
so precious a life. We refused, and remained silent. The young
boy suddenly sprang to his feet and announced himself ready to obey
whatever the Bab might desire. `This same youth,
who has risen to comply with My wish,' the Bab declared, `will
together with Me suffer martyrdom. Him will I choose to share with
Me its crown.'"[F12] Early the next morning, the chief attendant
came to the barracks to conduct the Bab into the presence of the
leading doctors of law in Tabriz. They were to authorize His
execution by signing a death-warrant, thus relieving the Prime
Minister of the entire responsibility. The Bab was engaged in a
confidential conversation with Siyyid Husayn, one of His closest
followers, who had been serving as His secretary. Husayn had been
with the Bab throughout His imprisonment. The Bab was giving him
last minute instructions. "Confess not your Faith," the Bab
advised Husayn. "Thereby you will be enabled, when the hour comes,
to convey to those who are destined to hear you, the things of
which you alone are aware." The Bab was thus engaged when the
chief-attendant arrived. He insisted upon the Bab's immediate
departure. The Bab turned and rebuked the chief-attendant severely.
"Not until I have said to him all these things I wish to say,"
the Bab warned, "can any earthly power silence me. Though all the
world be armed against Me, yet shall they be powerless to deter Me
from fulfilling, to the last word, My intention." The
chief-attendant was amazed at such a bold speech on the part of a
prisoner. However, he still insisted the Bab accompany him with
no further delay. The conversation with Husayn was left
unfinished. The Bab and the eighteen-year-old boy who was to die
with Him were led, one by one, into the presence of each of three
doctors of law. The guards made certain that the irons about the
neck and wrists were secure. To the iron collar about the Bab's
neck they tied a long cord which was held by another attendant.
Then, so that everyone could see Him in His humiliation, they
walked Him about the town. They led Him through the streets and
bazaars, overwhelming Him with blows and insults.[F13] He was
paraded publicly, as Christ had been, an object of derision. To
the people of Tabriz the Bab was no longer triumphant. He was to
die. He was being humbled and degraded just as the Prime Minister
had planned. The crowds packed the streets along which he was led.
The people climbed upon each other's shoulders the
better to see this Personage Who was so much talked about. What a
pity He was so powerless, they said. Quite obviously this could
not be a Man of God, and certainly not the Promised One. The
followers of the Bab who were in the crowd scattered in all
directions. They were trying to arouse among the onlookers a
feeling of pity or sympathy which might help them to save their
Master. Jesus had entered Jerusalem, hailed on all sides, with palm
leaves strewn in His path, only to be mocked and reviled in that
same Jerusalem within the week. In like manner the glory that had
attended the Bab's first triumphant entry into Tabriz was now
forgotten. This time the crowd, restless and excitable, flung
insulting words at Him. They wanted to be entertained with miracles
and signs of wonder, and the Bab was failing them. They pursued
Him as He was led through the streets. They broke through the
guards and struck Him in the face. When some missile hurled from
the crowd would reach its mark, the guards and the crowd would
burst into laughter. The Bab was then brought before the priest
who had previously incited the clergy to scourge Him. As soon as
he saw the Bab approaching, he seized the death-warrant and thrust
it at the attendant. "No need to bring him into my presence," he
cried. "This death-warrant I signed long ago, the very day I saw
him in that gathering here in Tabriz. He is the same man I saw
then, and has not since surrendered any of his claims. Take him
away!" The other priests in turn also refused to meet the Bab
face to face. Their hatred of Him had increased since the day of
His previous triumph over them. "We are satisfied that it is aright
to pronounce the sentence of death," they said. "Do not bring him
into our presence." The chief-attendant, having obtained the
necessary death-warrants, delivered the Bab into the hands of
Sam Khan, the leader of the regiment that was to execute Him. Sam
Khan found himself increasingly affected by the behavior of his
Captive. He had placed a guard of ten soldiers about the Bab's
cell door and had carefully supervised it himself. Throughout every
step he felt an increasing attraction to this unusual Prisoner.
He was in constant fear that his action in taking such a holy life
might bring upon him the wrath of God. Finally, unable to bear
this worry any longer, he approached the Bab and spoke to Him
privately. "I profess the Christian Faith," he said, "and entertain
no ill-will against you. If your Cause be the Cause of Truth, then
enable me to free myself from the obligation to shed your blood."
The Bab comforted him with these words: "Follow your instructions
and if your intention be sincere, the Almighty is surely able to
relieve you from your perplexity." The hour for the execution could
not be put off any longer. The crowds had been gathering for some
time. They streamed into the public square. They came from all the
neighboring villages. Sam Khan ordered his men to drive a nail into
the pillar between the doors of the barracks. To the nail they made
fast the ropes by which the Bab and His young companion were to be
separately suspended. Thus was fulfilled before the eyes of the
people gazing upon the scene, the words of the prophecy in their
own sacred Writings which foretold that when the Promised One was
slain, He would be suspended like unto Christ before the gaze of
the public. Muhammad-`Ali begged Sam Khan to allow him to be
placed in such a manner that his own body would shield that of the
Bab. He was eventually suspended so that his head rested upon the
breast of the Bab. The Journal Asiatique's account of that event
states: "The Bab remained silent. His pale handsome face ... his
appearance and his refined manners, his white delicate hands, his
simple but very neat garments--everything about him awakened
sympathy and compassion."[F14] About ten thousand people crowded
into the public square. They were thronged on the roofs of the
adjoining houses as well. All were eager to witness the spectacle.
Yet each person was willing to change from an enemy into a friend
at the least sign of power from the Bab. They were still hungry
for drama, and He was disappointing them. Just as the crowd had
stood on Golgotha, reviling Jesus, wagging their heads and saying,
"Save thyself! If thou be the Son of God, come down from the
cross!" so, too, did the people of Tabriz mock the Bab and jeer
at His seeming impotence. As soon as the Bab and His companion were
fastened to the pillar, the regiment of soldiers arranged itself
in three files, each file having two hundred and fifty men. The
leader of the regiment, Sam Khan, could delay the command
no longer. The Bab had told him to do his duty; therefore, it was
apparently the will of God that his regiment should take the life
of the Bab. This was a source of great sorrow to him. Reluctantly
he gave the command, "Fire!" In turn, each of the files opened fire
upon the Bab and His companion until the entire regiment had
discharged its volley of bullets. There were over ten thousand
eye-witnesses to the electrifying spectacle that followed. One of
the historical accounts of that staggering moment states: "The
smoke of the firing of the seven hindered and fifty rifles was such
as to turn the light of noonday into darkness. "As soon as the
cloud of smoke had cleared away, an astounded multitude looked upon
a scene which their eyes could scarcely believe. "There, standing
before them, alive and unhurt, was the companion of the Bab, whilst
He, Himself, had vanished from their sight. Though the cords with
which they had been suspended had been rent in pieces by the
bullets, yet their bodies had miraculously escaped the
volleys."[F15] Cries of astonishment, confusion and fear rang out
from the bewildered multitude. "The Bab has vanished!" "He is
freed!" they shrieked. "It is a miracle! He was a man of God!"
"They are slaying a man of God!" An intense clamor arose on all
sides. The crowd was already dangerous. The public square became
a bedlam as a frantic search for the Bab began. M C. Huart, a
French author who wrote of this episode, says: "The soldiers in
order to quiet the excitement of the crowd which, being extremely
agitated, was quite ready to believe the claims of a religion which
thus demonstrated its truth, showed the cords broken by the
bullets, implying that no miracle had really taken place."[F16]
"Look!" their actions implied. "The seven hundred and fifty
musket-balls have shattered the ropes into fragments. This is what
freed them. It is nothing more than this. It is no miracle."
Uproars and shouts continued on all sides. The people still were
not certain themselves what really had happened.
\M. C. Huart, giving his view of that astonishing event, states:
"Amazing to believe, the bullets had not struck the condemned but,
on the contrary, had broken the bonds and he was delivered. It was
a real miracle." A. L. M. Nicolas also wrote of this episode,
saying: "An extraordinary thing happened, unique in the annals of
the history of humanity: the bullets cut the cords that held the
Bab and he fell to his feet without a scratch."[F17] The frantic
search by the authorities for the Bab came to an end within but a
few feet of the execution post. They found Him back in His cell in
the barracks, in the same room He had occupied the night before.
He was completing His conversation with His secretary, Siyyid
Husayn. He was giving to him those final instructions which had
been interrupted that morning. An expression of unruffled calm was
upon His face. His body, obviously, had emerged unscathed from the
shower of bullets. The Bab looked at the chief-attendant and
smiled. "I have finished My conversation," He said. "You may now
proceed to fulfill your duty." The chief-attendant was much too
disturbed to resume his duties. He recalled vividly the words with
which the Bab had rebuked him when he had interrupted that
conversation: "Though all the world be armed against Me, yet shall
they be powerless to deter Me from fulfilling, to the last word,
My intention." The chief-attendant refused to continue with any
part of the execution. He left the scene of that barracks cell
shaken to the core of his being He resigned his post and cut
himself off from the enemies of the Bab forever. The head of the
Christian regiment, Sam Khan, was likewise stunned by what had
taken place. He, too, remembered clearly the words which the Bab
had spoken to him: "If your intention be sincere, the Almighty is
surely able to relieve you from your perplexity." Sam Khan had
given the order to fire, yet the Bab had been freed. Surely the
Lord had delivered him from the need to shed the blood of this Holy
Man. He would not go on with the execution. Sam Khan ordered his
regiment to leave the barracks square immediately. He told the
authorities plainly that he was finished with this unjust act. "I
refuse," he said, "ever again to associate myself and my regiment
with any act which involves the least injury to the Bab." As
he marched his regiment out of the public square he swore before
all of them: "I will never again resume this task even if it costs
me my life." After the departure of Sam Khan and his regiment, a
colonel of the bodyguard volunteered to carry out the execution.
On that same wall and to that same nail, the Bab and His companion
were lashed a second time. The new firing squad formed in line.
As the regiment prepared to fire the final volley, the Bab spoke
His last words to the gazing multitude. "Had you believed in Me,
O wayward generation," He said, "everyone of you would have
followed the example of this youth who stood in rank above most of
you, and willingly would have sacrificed himself in My path. The
day will come when you will have recognized Me, but that day I
shall have ceased to be with you." A dread silence fell over the
square. In the ominous hush, the only sound was the metallic click
of rifles being readied to fire. The crowd stirred restlessly. The
rifles were raised, the command given, and the rifles thundered.
The bodies of the Bab and His youthful companion were shattered by
the blast. As Jesus had expired on the cross so that men might be
called back to God, so did the Bab breathe His last against a
barracks wall in the city of Tabriz, Persia. The historian Nicolas
in his account of those hours writes, "Christians believe that if
Jesus had wished to come down from the cross he could have done so
easily; he died of his own free will because it was written that
he should and in order that the prophecies might be fulfilled.
The same is true of the Bab so [His followers] say ... He likewise
died voluntarily because his death was to be the salvation of
humanity. Who will ever tell us the words that the Bab uttered in
the midst of the unprecedented turmoil which broke out. ... who
will ever know the memories which stirred his noble soul?"[F18]
Christ in His agony in the garden of Gesthsamane cried out,
"Father! If Thou be willing, remove this cup from me:
nevertheless, not my will, but Thine, be done."[F19] the Bab in
the frozen winter of Mahku likewise called out to mankind that it
was God's will and not His own that impelled Him to "throw Himself
headlong into that ocean of superstition and hatred which was
fatally to
engulf Him." Both Christ and the Bab uttered the same words of
warning, "O wayward generation!" The martyrdom of the Bab took
place at noon on Sunday, July 9, 1850, thirty years from the time
of His birth in Shiraz. An historical account of that second and
final volley states: "This time the execution was effective. ...
But the crowd, vividly impressed by the spectacle they had
witnessed, dispersed slowly, hardly convinced that the Bab was a
criminal."[F20] On the evening of the day of His martyrdom, the
mangled bodies of the Bab and His companion were removed from the
courtyard of the public square. They were thrown at the edge of a
moat outside the gate of the city. Four companies of ten sentinels
each were posted to keep watch in turn over the remains so that
none of His followers might claim them. On the morning following
the martyrdom, an official from one of the foreign consulates,
accompanied by an artist, went to the moat and ordered that a
sketch be made of the remains. Nabil, in his history, gives the
words of an eye-witness, "It was such a faithful portrait of the
Bab! ... No bullet had struck His forehead, His cheeks, or His
lips. I gazed upon a smile which seemed to be still lingering upon
his countenance."[F21] On the afternoon of the second day, Sulayman
Khan, a follower of the Bab, arrived from Tihran. He had heard of
the threat to the life of the Bab and had left Tihran to try to
rescue Him. To his dismay, he arrived too late. He resolved to
rescue the bodies of the Bab and His companion in spite of the
sentinels, and no matter what the risk to his own life. In the
middle of that same night, with the help of a friend, he succeeded
in bearing away the bodies. The two friends watched the sentinels
carefully. The hearts of the guards were not in the task of
standing watch through a long night; so while they slept, Sulayman
Khan and his friend stole the sacred remains, and carried them
from the edge of the moat to a silk factory owned by one of the
believers. The remains were placed the next day in a specially
constructed wooden case and were hidden in a place of safety. The
sentinels awakened, and finding their trust had been spirited
away, sought to justify themselves by pretending that while they
slept wild beasts had carried away the bodies. Their superiors
also concealed the truth and did not report it to the authorities
for fear of losing their own positions.
This pleased the followers of the Bab, who were anxious to prevent
any further investigation which might take from them those blessed
remains. Meanwhile, from the pulpits of Tabriz, the religious
leaders boastfully proclaimed that the Bab's remains had been
devoured by wild animals. "This proves us aright and him false,"
they cried out. "For it is written in our prophecies that the holy
body of the Promised One will be preserved from beasts of prey and
from all creeping things." Nicolas in his history says, "The most
reliable testimony of the actual witnesses of the drama and of its
actors does not leave me any doubt that the body of [the Bab] was
carried away by pious hands and, at last ...received a burial
worthy of him."[F22] Sulayman Khan reported the rescue of the
remains of the Bab to Baha'u'llah in Tihran. Baha'u'llah
immediately sent a special messenger to Tabriz to arrange for the
bodies to be transferred to the capital. "This decision," Nabil
tells us, "was prompted by the wish of the Bab Himself." In His own
handwriting, the Bab had expressed the desire to be buried near His
Loved One. In a letter written in the neighborhood of a shrine
near Tihran, Nabil says that the Bab addressed the saint buried
there in words such as these: "Well is it with you to have found
your resting place ... under the shadow of My Beloved. Would that
I might be entombed within the precincts of that holy ground."[F23]
Baha'u'llah respected that wish by having the remains of the Bab
transferred to that very spot!* But the place remained secret until
Baha'u'llah's departure from Persia. The hand of the wrath of God
began, almost at once, to strike down those primarily responsible
for the martyrdom of the Bab. That same lack of mercy which had
been shown to those who had injured Him throughout His life was now
visited upon the last of His persecutors. The governor of Shiraz,
who first imprisoned the Bab, was hurled from power and abandoned
by friend and foe alike. The high priest, or judge, who had
scourged Him, was struck with paralysis and died an agonizing
death. The king, Muhammad Shah, who had *See Appendix, Note Five.
refused to meet the Bab, was struck down by illness and succumbed
to a complication of maladies far before his time. His Prime
Minister, Haji Mirza Aqasi, who had twice banished Him to prison,
was toppled from power and died in poverty and exile. The mayor of
Tihran, Muhammad Khan, who held prisoner Tahirih and the seven
martyrs of Tihran and assisted in their deaths, was strangled and
hanged from the gallows. The new ruler, Nasiri'd-Din Shah, who
permitted the slaying of the Bab, was awaiting a day of
assassination which was to be far more dreadful and dramatic than
that of his father. The Prime Minister, Mirza Taqi Khan, who
ordered the Bab's execution, and who encouraged the wholesale
slaughter of so many of His followers, was seized in the grip of
this same relentless, punishing retribution. His greatest crime was
the taking of the life of the Bab. His greatest massacre was that
which took place in Zanjan after the martyrdom of he Bab. Eighteen
hundred were slain in Zanjan village alone. Although the soldiers
had promised on their honor to spare the followers of Hujjat who
willingly came out of their shelters, they lined them up in rows,
to the accompaniment of drums and trumpets, and pierced them with
bayonets. Then the victorious army forced those of high standing
who were left to march on foot before their horses all the way to
Tihran with chains about their necks and shackles on their feet.
When they appeared before the Prime Minister, Mirza Taqi Khan, he
ordered that the veins of three leaders be slashed open. He would
make an example of them, he said, as he had made of he Bab. The
victims did not betray the least fear or emotion. They told the
Prime Minister that the lack of good faith with which the
authorities, the army, and himself had been guilty of was a crime
which Almighty God would not be satisfied with punishing in an
ordinary way. God would demand, they told him, a more impressive
and striking retribution for the slayer of a Prophet and the
persecutor of His people. They prophesied that the Prime Minister,
himself, would very soon suffer the very same death which he, in
his hatred, was now inflicting upon them. Gobineau in his history
says, "The only thing I can affirm ... that I was given assurance
that the prophecy had really been made by the martyrs of
Zanjan."[F24] It happened precisely as those victims had foretold.
Mirza Taqi Khan fell from the favor of the king. Court intrigue
and greed
combined to complete his downfall. All the honors he had enjoyed
were stripped from him. He had to flee in disgrace from the
capital. Wherever he went he was pursued by royal hatred. Finally
the hand of revenge caught up with him. The former Prime Minister's
veins were slashed open. His blood stains the wall of that bath of
the Palace of Fin to this very day, a witness to the atrocities his
own hand had wrought.[F25] The wave of retributive justice was
still not at an end. Mirza Hasan Khan, the Prime Minister's
brother, who carried out the execution of the Bab, was subjected
to a dreadful punishment. No one would come to his aid. In despair,
he succumbed and died. The commander of the regiment that
volunteered to replace that of Sam Khan lost his life during the
bombardment of Muhammirih by the British. The regiment itself came
to a dreadful end. In spite of the unaccountable failure of Sam
Khan and his soldiers to destroy the life of the Bab, this
regiment was willing to renew the attempt, and eventually riddle
His body with bullets. Two hundred and fifty of its members, that
same year, with their officers, were crushed by a terrible
earthquake. They were resting on a hot summer's day under the
shadow of a wall, between Tabriz and Ardabil. The structure
suddenly collapsed and fell upon them, leaving not one
survivor.[F26] The remaining five hundred members of the regiment
suffered an ever more dramatic fate. They were executed by a firing
squad. Thus they met the same identical fate as that which their
hands had inflicted upon the Bab. Three years after His martyrdom,
that regiment mutinied. The authorities ordered that all of its
members should be mercilessly shot. Significantly, there was not
only one volley, but, as in the case of the Bab, a second volley
was fired to make sure that none survived. Then their bodies were
pierced with spears and lances. Their remains were left exposed
to the gaze of the public as had been the bodies of the Bab and
His companion. This event caused much concern and whispering in
Tabriz. "Is this not the regiment that destroyed the Bab?" the
people asked each other. "They have been overtaken by the same
fate. Could it be the vengeance of God that has now brought the
whole regiment to so dishonorable an end?" When the leading lawyers
overheard these misgivings and doubts they were alarmed. They
issued a warning stating that all who
expressed such thoughts would be severely punished. To demonstrate
their anger they made an example of a few of the people. Some were
fined and some were beaten. All were warned under threat of further
punishment to cease such talk at once. "It can only revive the
memory of a terrible adversary," they were told. History records
that from the very hour that the volley of bullets was fired at the
Bab, "a gale of exceptional severity arose and swept over the
whole city. A whirlwind of dust of incredible density obscured the
light of the sun and blinded the eyes of the people." The city of
Tabriz remained wrapped in that fearful darkness from noon until
night. This was the hour promised in the Old Testament in the Book
of Amos Who said: "And it shall come to pass in that day, saith
the Lord God, that I will cause the sun to go down at noon, and I
will darken the sky on a clear day."[F27] The "lamb" had just been
slain as it had been promised in the Revelation of St. John. The
events that soon took place in the city of the Bab's birth were
also foreshadowed in that Book: "And the same hour there was a
great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the
earthquake were slain men seven thousand." A written account of
the period following the execution of the Bab states: "This
earthquake occurred in Shiraz after the martyrdom of the Bab. The
city was in a turmoil, and many people were destroyed. Great
agitation also took place through diseases, cholera, dearth,
scarcity, famine, and afflictions, the like of which had never been
known."[F28] The prophecies and promises of Christ were fulfilled
with the coming of the Bab, although the religious leaders turned
to them a blind eye and a deaf ear. These religious authorities,
as testified to by the introduction to the most authentic history
of the Bab, "confidently expected that the promised Advent would
not substitute a new and richer revelation for the old, but would
endorse and fortify the system of which they were the
functionaries. It would enhance incalculably their personal
prestige, would extend their authority far and wide among the
nations, and would win for them the reluctant but abject homage of
mankind. When the Bab proclaimed a new code of religious law, and
by precept and example instituted a profound moral and spiritual
reform, the priests
immediately scented moral danger. They saw their monopoly
undermined, their ambitions threatened, their own lives and
conduct put to shame. They rose against Him in sanctimonious
indignation. "The cause of the rejection and persecution of the
Bab, " this historical analysis continues, "was in its essence the
same as that of the rejection and persecution of the Christ. If
Jesus had not brought a New Book, if He had not only reiterated the
spiritual principles taught by Moses but had continued Moses' rules
and regulations too, He might as merely a moral reformer have
escaped the vengeance of the Scribes and Pharisees. But to claim
that any part of the Mosaic law, even with such material ordinances
as those dealing with divorce and the keeping of the Sabbath, could
be altered--and altered by an unordained preacher from the village
of Nazareth--this was to threaten the interests of the Scribes and
Parisees themselves, and since they were the representatives of
Moses and of God, it was blasphemy against the Most High. As soon
as the position of Jesus was understood, His persecution began. As
He refused to desist, He was put to death. "For reasons exactly
parallel, the Bab was from the beginning exposed."[F29] "There
is but one parallel in all recorded history to the brief turbulent
history of the Bab. It is the passion of Jesus Christ. There is
a remarkable similarity in the distinguishing features of Their
careers. Their youthfulness and meekness; the dramatic swiftness
with which each ministry moved toward its climax; the boldness with
which They challenged the time-honored conventions, laws, and rites
of the religions into which They had been born; the role which the
religious leaders played as chief instigators of the outrages They
were made to suffer; the indignities heaped upon Them; the
suddenness of Their arrest; the interrogations to which They were
subjected; the scourgings inflicted upon Them; Their passing first
in triumph, then in suffering through the streets of the city where
They were to be slain; Their public parade through the streets on
the way to the place of martyrdom; Their words of hope and promise
to a companion who was also to die with Them; the darkness that
enveloped the land in the hour of Their martyrdom; and finally
Their ignominious suspension before the gaze of a hostile
multitude. "So momentous an event could hardly fail to arouse
and keen interest even beyond the confines of the land in which it
occurred."[F30] One particularly moving document on the Bab points
out: "This illustrious soul arose with such power that he shook the
supports of the religion, of the morals, the conditions, the
habits, and the customs of Persia, and instituted new rules, new
laws, and a new religion. Though the great personages of State,
nearly all of the clergy and the public men arose to destroy and
annihilate him, he alone withstood them and moved the whole of
Persia."[F31] "Many persons from all parts of the world," one
writer states, "set out for Persia and began to investigate
wholeheartedly the matter." A noted French publicist testifies:
"All Europe was stirred to pity and indignation." "Among the
literature of my generation in the Paris of 1890," he said, "the
martyrdom of the Bab was still as fresh a topic as had been the
first news of his death. We wrote poems about him. Sarah Bernhardt
entreated Catulle Mendâs for a play on the theme of this historic
tragedy."[F32] A drama was published in 1903 entitled "The Bab" and
was played in one of the leading theatres of St. Petersburg. The
drama was publicized in London and was translated into French in
Paris and into German by the poet Fiedler.[F33] M. J. Balteau in
a lecture on the Faith of the Bab quotes M. Vanbery's words spoken
in the French Academy, words which testify to the depth and power
of the Bab's teachings. The Bab, he states, "has expressed
doctrines worthy of the greatest thinkers."[F34] The famous
Cambridge scholar, Edward Granville Browne, wrote: "Who can fail
to be attracted to the gentle spirit of [the Bab]? His sorrowful
and persecuted life, his purity of conduct and youth; his courage
and uncomplaining patience under misfortune ... but most of all his
tragic death, all serve to enlist our sympathies on behalf of the
young Prophet of Shiraz."[F35] "That Jesus of the age ... a prophet
and more than a prophet," is the judgement passed by the
distinguished English clergyman, Dr. T. K. Cheyne. "His combination
of mildness and power is so rare," he states, " that we have to
place him in a line with supernormal men."[F36] Sir Francis
Younghusband in his book The Gleam has written: "The story of the
Bab ... was the story of spiritual heroism
unsurpassed ... The Bab's passionate sincerity could not be
doubted, for he had given his life for his faith. And that there
must be something in his message that appealed to men and satisfied
their souls was witnessed to by the fact that thousands gave their
lives in his cause and millions now follow him ... his life must
be one of those events in the last hundred years which is really
worth study."[F37] The French historian, A. L. M. Nicolas, wrote:
"His life is one of the most magnificent examples of courage which
it has been the privilege of mankind to behold ... He sacrificed
himself for humanity, for it he gave his body and his soul, for it
he endured privations, insults, torture and martyrdom. He sealed,
with his very lifeblood, the covenant of universal brotherhood.
Like Jesus, he paid with his life for the proclamation of a reign
of concord, equity and brotherly love. More than anyone, he knew
what dreadful dangers he was heaping upon himself ... but all these
considerations could not weaken his resolve. Fear had no hold upon
his soul and, perfectly calm, never looking back, in full
possession of all his powers, he walked into the furnace."[F38] At
last the clergy and the state prided themselves on having crushed
the life from the Cause they had battled so long. the Bab was no
more. His chief disciples were destroyed. The mass of His followers
throughout the land had been beaten, exhausted, and silenced. The
King and the Prime Minister rejoiced. If they were to believe their
counsellors, they would never hear of the Bab again. His Faith was
swiftly receding into oblivion and the wings of death were hovering
over it. The combined forces which had engulfed it on every side
had at last put out the light which the young Prince of Glory had
kindled in His land. Yet at that very moment in a suburb of the
capital, Baha'u'llah was receiving a visitor, a friend who was soon
to be the new Prime Minister. He told Baha'u'llah: "The Bab has
been slain. He has been put to death in Tabriz. It is all over. At
last the fire which I feared might engulf and destroy you has been
extinguished." Baha'u'llah replied: "If this be true, you can be
certain that the flame that has been kindled will by this very act,
blaze forth more fiercely than ever and will set up a conflagration
such as the combined
forces of the statesmen of this realm will be powerless to
quench."[F39] Gobineau echoes this statement, recording in his
history that "instead of appeasing the flames, it had fanned them
into greater violence."[F40] Judged by the standards of the world,
the life of Christ had been a catastrophic failure. Of His chosen
disciples one had betrayed Him, another had denied Him, and only
a handful stood at the foot of the cross. Centuries were to pass
before the world ever heard of His name. Judged by the standards
of the same world, the life of the ill-fated Youth of Shiraz
appeared to be one of the saddest and most fruitless in history.
The work He had so gloriously conceived and so heroically
undertaken, seemed to have ended in a colossal disaster. Swift as
a meteor that short heroic career had flashed across the skies of
Persia. Now death had plunged it into the darkness of despair. This
was but the last in the series of heartbreaks which had beset His
path from the beginning. At the very onset of His career, the Bab
went to Mecca, the heart of Islam, to proclaim publicly His
Mission. He was treated to icy indifference. He planned to return
to the city of Karbila and establish His Cause. His arrest
prevented it. The program He outlined for His chosen disciples was
for the most part unfulfilled. The moderation He urged them to
observe was forgotten in the first rush of enthusiasm that seized
the early pioneers of His Faith. His only chance of meeting the
king was dashed to the ground by the Prime Minister. His ablest
disciples were struck down one after the other. The flower of His
followers was slain in ruthless carnage all across the land. Then
followed His own martyrdom. All these events, on the surface so
humiliating, would seem to have marked the lowest depths to which
His Cause had fallen. They seemed to threaten the virtual
extinction of all His hopes. Yet burning like a flame through the
darkness of all these setbacks and sufferings was the Bab's
constant promise that before the year nine would pass, the Promised
One of all religions would appear.* There was never a moment of
doubt in His teaching. He was only the Herald of a greater One to
come. He knew that the * See Appendix, Note Six.
seed had been firmly planted in the fields and meadows of human
hearts. He was the Dawn, the Sun was yet to come. Of all those
great figures who loved Him so dearly not one soul was left alive
save Baha'u'llah, Who with His family and a handful of devoted
followers was driven destitute into exile and prison in a foreign
land. [F41] He was banished from place to place until He reached
the "Mountain of God" in Israel, the Holy Land. Baha'u'llah was
exiled, a prisoner, to the fortress situated upon the plain of
`Akka, and the startling words of the prophecy given several
hundred years before about the "last days" of the Twin Messengers
were literally fulfilled: "All of them [the companions of the
Herald] shall be slain except One Who shall reach the plain of
`Akka, the banquet Hall of God."[F42] Although the Faith of God had
been crushed into the ground at an early age and rudely trampled
upon, this very process would bring about its germination. Buried
in the earth, warmed by the blood of Its martyrs, His Faith would
blossom out in glory at a later date with the brightness of the
sun, and would fulfill prophecy with the exactness of the stars.
The Dawn would give way to the Sun, and the era promised to the
earth since the beginning of time, the Day of the "One fold and One
shepherd"* would be ushered in by the sacrifice of that gentle
Youth from Shiraz: the Bab, the Gate of God. * See Appendix, Note
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APPENDIX NOTE ONE The period in history from the years 1830 to 1850
was one of strange and troublesome events. Men stared in wonder and
uneasiness at the great halo that circled the sun. They looked up
in horror at the night sky where a giant comet with a fiery tail
rushed through the darkness. It was whispered that the comet was
racing toward mankind bringing the "end of the world." In America,
Europe, Asia and Africa, there were men warning the people to
prepare for the return of Jesus, for the second coming of Christ.
Wolf in Asia, Sir Edward Irving in England, Mason in Scotland,
Davis in South Carolina, William Miller in Pennsylvania, and many
others throughout the world agreed that this was indeed the "time
of the end."[F1] Christ, they said, would soon appear. Leonard
Heinrich Kelber and his fellow Christians in Germany confidently
awaited the return of Christ during this same period. This
millennial zeal reached its climax in the year 1844. An historical
account of those days states: "A converted Jew in Palestine, Joseph
Wolf, predicted the Advent for 1847. Harriet Evermore, an eloquent
and arresting woman of the time, who figures in Whittier's
Snowbound, preached the Second Coming everywhere, including the
House of Representatives at Washington where crowds gathered to
hear her. Lady Hester Stanhope, the valiant madwoman, niece of
William Pitt, who turned her back on
London and power and fashion, made her home in Lebanon among the
Arabs and Druses, in order to be ready and near to the scene of the
Advent. She kept, it was reported, two white Arab steeds in her
stable, one for the Messiah, one for herself! So real was the hope
for the Advent (Christ's "coming"), people were actually taking
almost violent measures for it. It was the nineteenth century, yet
the shooting stars of the year 1833, and the perihelia, or
halo-like rings around the sun in 1843, were objects of the most
awesome speculation and discussion. And the tail of the great comet
of 1843 measured 108 million miles in length. ... Whole families
were engaged in making shrouds against that fateful day."[F2] Some
of the more zealous went so far as to sell their possessions and
to await Christ's descent upon the clouds. Their more practical
neighbors pointed out that clouds did not descend but were vapors
that rose up from the earth. Others quoted St. Augustine who had
written an entire volume proving that there could not be anyone
living on the other side of the earth because it would be
impossible for such people to see Christ when He came down on the
day of His return. Mathematicians tried to calculate how many
hundreds of thousands of "solo" it would be necessary for the
Messiah to make before all humanity could see Him due to the
curvature of the earth. It was reported that shops in some of the
eastern cities of America advertised special "ascension robes" for
the coming event. When the great comet streaked across the heavens
in 1843, it was believed to be an omen for the hour of Christ's
return. In that same year, the poet James Russell Lowell' wrote:
Once to every man and nation comes the moment to decide. Some great
Cause, God's new Messiah ...[F3] On May 24, 1844 in Washington D.
C., Mr. Samuel F. B. Morse, the inventor of the telegraph, stepped
to the keyboard of his new instrument. He was about to send the
first official telegram in history flashing across the wires from
Washington to Baltimore. The press had heralded this day as a
modern miracle. By this invention the world would soon be united
physically n the twinkling of an eye, they said. The scholars of
Scripture asked: Is this not still another proof that the hour has
come for Christ's appearance? Is it not written in the book of Job
that only God can send "lightnings that they may go and say unto
thee here we are!"[F4] Was not this electric telegraph of
Morse the "lightnings" spoken of by which the "Word" would go?
Morse put his hand to the keyboard and tapped out the message. It
was a message chosen from the Bible, from the Book of Numbers:
"What hath God wrought?"[F5] The evening before, May 23, 1844 in
Shiraz, Persia, the Baha'i Faith began. The Bab proclaimed Himself
to Mulla Husayn as the One foretold in all the holy Books of the
past. This day, He said, was the beginning of the fulfillment of
all the holy Scriptures. The Bab arose in a Muslim country, whose
people in their holy writings had the unmistakable prophecy which
said that the Messenger of God would come when by "beating the iron
upon the iron, you will hear the news from a far distance." The Bab
was a descendent of Abraham. He was of the "seed" which would
"inherit the earth." The message of Morse had quoted only a part
of the verse from Numbers. The full verse is: "According to this
time it shall be said of Jacob and of Israel what hath God
wrought?" Why did so many Bible scholars from all parts of the
world agree upon the years between 1843-1845 as the time for the
return of Christ? Careful research makes it clear that they chose
this time in history because of three very plain and specific
promises given by Christ Himself foretelling the hour of His second
coming. Christ assured His disciples that He would return to earth
when the following three things took place: 1. When His Gospel
shall be preached throughout the world. 2. When the "times of the
Gentiles" is fulfilled and the Jews return to Israel (Palestine).
3. When all mankind would see the "abomination of desolation"
foretold by Daniel the Prophet. First Promise: When the Gospel of
Christ is taught "in all the world" then He will return. This
promise was made by Christ in direct reply to a question asked by
His disciples: "Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall
be the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the world?" Christ
gave His promise in the following words: "But he that shall endure
unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this Gospel of the
Kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness; then
shall the end come."[F6] A study of the spread of Christianity made
by these scholars of
the 1840's convinced them that the message of Christ had already
well-circled the globe. It was being taught in all the continents.
By 1844 it was being taught not by solitary missionaries, but on
a wide and organized scale, even in the interior of Africa. A
commercial history of East Africa states: "Christian missions began
their activities amongst the African people in 1844."[F7] The
Gospel of Christ had now been "preached in all the world for a
witness" and therefore, these scholars had reasoned, the hour of
His coming was at hand. Thus the first promise of Christ was
fulfilled by the year 1844. Second Promise: When the "times of the
Gentiles" is fulfilled and the Jews return to Israel, Christ will
come back to earth. Christ gave this promise in answer to the
questions of His disciples. They asked Him: "When shall these
things be? and what sign will there be when these things shall come
to pass?"[F8] He gave them His promise in the following words: "And
they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away
captive to all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the
Gentiles, until the time of the Gentiles be fulfilled ... and then
shall they see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and
great glory."[F9] The meaning of the term "times of the Gentiles"
was very clear to the scholars of Scripture. It denoted that period
of time during which Jerusalem would be held by the power of
aliens, non-Jews (Gentiles), and during which the Jews themselves
would be banished from their homeland. The "times of the
Gentiles" would be fulfilled, therefore, when the Jews came back
to their homeland following this banishment. The first part of
Christ's promise came true almost immediately. His words, "they
shall be led away captive into all nations" began its fulfillment
less than forty years after His crucifixion. Jerusalem was
destroyed by the Roman Titus in 70 A.D. and the Jews were exiled.
The Jews tried to regain their freedom in 132 A.D. under Bar
Kochba but were crushed by the armies of the Roman Emperor Hadrian.
This time Jerusalem was devastated even more completely than it had
been by Titus. The site of the city was ploughed under and a new
city named in honor of Hadrian was built upon the ruins. The Jews
were banished. Many of them, exactly as had been fore-
told by Christ, fell "by the edge of the sword." They fled,
scattered, and were "led away captive into all nations."[F10] The
Romans were the first aliens after the time of Christ to trample
down the city of Jerusalem. Then came the Persians and the Muslims.
The latter conquered Jerusalem in 637 A.D. During the period of
occupation by the Muslims, the Jews were rigidly excluded from
their homeland. The famous Irish scholar and author, George
Townshend, former Canon of St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin, and
Archdeacon of Clonfert, writes: "The strict exclusion of the Jews
from their own land enforced by the Muslims for some twelve
centuries was at last relaxed by the Edict of Toleration and the
`times of the Gentiles' were fulfilled." Townshend goes on to point
out that this document, the Edict of Toleration, was issued by the
governing authorities in the year 1844.[F11]* There is a strong
confirmation to be found in the Bible itself that 1844 was the year
intended for the fulfillment of Christ's promise concerning the
"times of the Gentiles." This confirmation is given in the Book of
Revelation, chapter eleven: "And the Holy City [Jerusalem] shall
they trod underfoot for forty and two months, until the times of
the Gentiles is fulfilled."[F12] This period of forty-two months
is expressed in the very next verse in the form: 1260 days. Bible
scholars found this period of forty-two months or 1260 days to be
identical with the year 1844. They arrived at this conclusion by
the following process of reasoning: 1. In the study of Biblical
prophecy, the period called a "day" becomes a "year" when
calculating the passage of time. 2. This theory is supported by the
following prophecies: (A) Numbers 14:34--"Even forty days, each day
for a year." (B) Ezekiel 4:6--"I have appointed thee each day for
a year." ______________ *This famous scholar discovered the Baha'i
Faith in his studies, and wrote saying that when "modern scholars
and statesmen speak of World government, Social Security, an
International language, international police force, the United
Nations, etc., they are merely ringing the changes of truths set
down by Baha'u'llah in everlasting language nearly a century ago."
James Henry Foreman in his compilation The Story of Prophecy
writes: "... Biblical prophecy students, after a scrutiny of the
entire problem of Bible chronology, deduce the following
conclusions as virtually automatic--namely, that--(1) In symbolic
prophecy a day is the symbol of a year."[F13] By using the accepted
formula of a "day" for a "year," forty-two months or 1260 days
become 1260 years. Therefore, the "times of the Gentiles" would
last for 1260 years. The Muslims conquered Jerusalem in the seventh
century, and according to the promise of Christ, they would tread
the city underfoot until the hour of His return, which would be
1260 years later by the measurement of prophecy. A study of the
calendar of the Muslims reveals that the year 1260 of their
calendar is identical with the year 1844 of the Christian calendar.
Thus the second promise of Christ was fulfilled by the year 1844,
when the "times of the Gentiles" was ended. Third Promise: When
mankind witnesses the "abomination of desolation" spoken of by
Daniel the Prophet, this will be the hour of Christ's return.
Christ gave this promise to His disciples in direct answer to their
questions: When will you come, what shall we look for? His promise
was given in these words: "When ye therefore shall see the
abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the Prophet, stand
in the holy place (whoso readeth, let him understand)."[F14] The
third promise of Christ concerning the "abomination of desolation"
is the foundation-stone upon which the Biblical scholars rested the
structure of their belief in the return of Christ during the 1844
period. The chapters of Daniel which deal with this subject are
those from eight through twelve. These foretell clearly not only
the second coming of Christ, but His first appearance as well.
Therefore, this promise of Christ is considered to be the most
important of the three. In these chapters, Daniel prophesies that:
From the issuing of the decree to rebuild Jerusalem, until the time
when the Messiah shall be cut off (crucified) there are appointed
70 weeks (490 days).[F15] The decree would be issued, the city
rebuilt, then Christ would be crucified. This is the clear
meaning, foretelling Christ's first coming.
There were four decrees issued to rebuild Jerusalem: 1. Issued by
Cyrus in the year 534 B.C. This is recorded in the first chapter
of the Book of Ezra. It went unfulfilled. 2. Issued by Darius in
the year 519 B.C. This is recorded in the sixth chapter of the
Book of Ezra. It also went unfulfilled. 3. Issued by Artaxerxes
in the seventh year of his reign in the year 457 B.C. This is
recorded in the seventh chapter of the Book of Ezra. It was
fulfilled by the fourth decree. 4. Issued by the same Artaxerxes
in the year 444 B.C. This is recorded in the second chapter of
Nehemiah. The scholars of Scripture accepted the third decree of
Artaxerxes as the one prophesied by Daniel inasmuch as the fourth
decree was merely an extension of the third. Therefore, this
prophecy of Daniel could now be stated thus: From the issuing of
the decree of Artaxerxes in the year 457 B.C. until the time of
the crucifixion of Christ there would be appointed 70 weeks (or
490 days). 70 weeks equal 490 days. By the use of our measure of
prophecy, a "day" for a "year," 490 days become 490 years.
Therefore, from the issuing of the decree until the crucifixion on
Calvary there would be 490 years according to Daniel's prophecy.
It has been clear to scholars that the time of the first coming of
Christ was foretold by Daniel with amazing accuracy. No wonder
Christ Himself was so emphatic about Daniel's prophecy. What of
the second coming? Christ promised that He would return when
Daniel's prophecy came to pass. These are the words spoken by
Daniel: "How long shall be the vision concerning the daily
sacrifice, and the abomination of desolation, to give the sanctuary
and the host to be trodden under foot? And he said unto me, unto
two thousand three hundred days, then shall the sanctuary be
cleansed."[F16] When would this take place? In 2300 days, says
Daniel. These 2300 days in our prophetic measure become 2300
years. Using the same frame of reference as that used by Christ's
first coming, the biblical scholars made their calculations.
Although many disputes arose as to the exact month, day, and hour,
there was a basic agreement among all that Christ's return would
take place between 1843 and 1845, with the year 1844 as the central
point of reference.
One group of Christian scholars worked out Daniel's prophecy in the
greatest detail. They even built a special chart to show that
Christ would return in the middle of the year 1844.[F17] The Bab,
the Herald of the Baha'i Faith, made His declaration to the world
well into the year 1844: May 23rd.* This hour marks the beginning
of the Baha'i Faith. Thus the proofs were now complete. All three
of the specific promises of Christ concerning the time of His
return pointed to the exact same period: 1. The Gospel was
preached around the world by 1844. 2. "The times of the Gentiles"
was fulfilled in 1844. 3. The prophecy given by Daniel came to
pass in 1844. Christ told His disciples: When ye see these things,
it will be the time of My coming, and the time of the end. The
words of Daniel, which told with such startling accuracy the story
of both the first and second coming of Christ, were written by
Daniel in Elam, a part of ancient Persia. It was in the capital
of ancient Persia, Shush n, that Daniel gave his prophecy
foretelling 1844 as the time for Christ's return. He not only gave
the time, he also directed attention to the place in which he would
appear, saying that "Elam" would be given as a place of "vision"
in the latter days.[F18] The holy Bible of Christianity, as well
as the sacred writings of the Jews, and the Scriptures of Islam all
foretold that the Promised One would appear in the last days in
Elam or Persia. The Prophet Jeremiah, speaking of the time of the
end, says: "And I will set my throne in Elam."[F19] In a prophecy
of remarkable clarity, the sacred writings of Islam state: When the
Promised One appears, "the upholders of His faith shall be the
people of Persia."[F20] With all these proofs to guide them, why
did the people fail to recognize Christ in the day of His return
in 1844? Why did over a century pass with no clear explanation of
this great riddle? The answer is simple. It was the same reason
that the people did not recognize Christ in the day of His first
coming, until after the passing of centuries. Those who were
spiritually "alive" knew Him, but the great mass __________ *For
a further explanation, see Some Answered Questions, pp. 43-52.
of mankind were spiritually "dead" and knew Him not. These were
the people spoken of by Jeremiah: "O foolish people, and without
understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and
hear not."[F21] When Christ did not appear (the first time) in the
magic, glorious way which the people expected of a Messiah, they
denied Him. Thy called Him a false prophet and slew Him. After
all, He was born of a woman and walked among them. Surely, they
said, this is not the manner in which our great Messiah will
appear. Their eyes were closed. The disciples of Jesus were
greatly troubled because most of the people, especially the
religious leaders and other influential persons, neither understood
nor accepted His Message. They asked Jesus: "Why do they not
believe?" Christ answered them: "Because it is given unto you to
know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven but unto them it is not
given ... their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they
have closed ... but blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your
ears, for they hear."[F22] It was to be the same in the day of His
return in 1844. It takes special "eyes" and "ears" to recognize
and accept the Messiah each time He appears. The great mass of
mankind did not recognize Christ in the day of His first coming,
nor would they recognize Him in the day of His second coming. For
He would appear in the same manner: He would be born of a woman,
and walk among them. He would have the same Christ-spirit, but He
would have a new physical identity. Jesus Himself had explained
this spiritual truth with the greatest care so that mankind would
understand and not be misled. The people said of Christ, "why then
say the scribes that Elias must come first?"[F23] The disciples
found this question too difficult to answer because they, too, had
been taught that Elias must come first. If so, where was he? They
put this question to Christ. He told them that Elias had already
come, but that no one understood this truth, since Elias had come
in a manner they did not expect. "If ye will receive it," He said,
"this [John the Baptist] is Elias, which was for to come. He that
hath ears to hear, let him hear."[F24] John the Baptist was Elias,
Christ told them. He added: "If ye
will receive it." He meant: If you can understand this symbolic
truth. He added: "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear." This
clearly warned them that it would take spiritual ears to hear and
accept this truth. It was to be understood inwardly, not
outwardly, in the world of comprehension, not by the senses. Only
in this symbolical way could anyone accept the man John as Elias.
Elias had returned in the spirit, not in the flesh of John. If
they did not understand the significance of this inward truth, they
would believe Him to be false. They must have the "eyes that see"
and the "ears that hear"; otherwise, it would be impossible to
understand or to accept. This truth was confirmed by John the
Baptist Himself. He was asked: "Art thou Elias?" He answered: "I
am not."[F25] He was not the return of Elias in the flesh. He was
the return of the spirit of Elias. In the Book of Luke it is
promised for this same John the Baptist: "He shall be filled with
the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb. ... And he shall go
forth before him in the spirit and power of Elias."[F26] This was
the inward truth that Christ was trying to convey. He emphasized
this vital spiritual truth on more than one occasion. He
demonstrated to His disciples that a Messenger of God does not
return in the flesh. It is the Holy Spirit that returns; but,
through another channel, in another age, and with another outward
name. "And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the
Scribes that Elias must first come? And Jesus answered and said
unto them, Elias truly shall come first, and restore all things.
But I say unto you, that Elias is come already, and they knew him
not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall
also the Son of man suffer of them. Then the disciples understood
that he spoke unto them of John the Baptist."[F27] Elias had come
but they knew him not because he came in a way they did not expect
or understand. Christ likewise they knew not because He, too, came
in an unexpected manner. Christ would be rejected and slain, as
was John, because He came in a manner contrary to the expectations
of the people.[F28] Elias came; he was John the Baptist. The
Messiah came; He was Jesus of Nazareth. The prophecies were
symbolical. Christ warned His disciples that the same conditions
would also be true in the day of His second coming. Elias returned
in John the Baptist and was rejected. "Likewise shall also the Son
of Man [Himself] suffer of
them," Christ warned. When He returned in the promised Messiah in
1844, He was also rejected in spite of the overwhelming proofs; in
spite of His own direct promise of the hour of His coming and His
warning that man would need to have spiritual "eyes that see."
"When ye shall see the abomination of desolation spoken of by
Daniel the Prophet," Christ warned, "stand ye in the holy place
(whoso readeth, let him understand)." Christ's last words show that
His return would not be clear to outward vision or understanding.
He says: "Whoso readeth, let him understand." He will return in the
Christ-spirit, but not as Jesus of Nazareth. Man must look for the
same Holy Spirit in a new physical identity. Christ is here once
again repeating the warning about His own second coming which He
gave to His disciples about the return of Elias in John the
Baptist: "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear." 1. The three
direct promises of Christ giving the time of His return, all
pointed to the year 1844. 2. The holy Scripture of the Christians,
Jews and Muslims gave the place: Persia. 3. Christ Himself
unmistakably gave the manner of His return; not in the flesh, but
in the spirit. But only Almighty God could give mankind the "eyes
to see" and the "ears to hear." These proofs which make it possible
for everyone to understand the Holy Scripture could not have been
given to mankind in such detail until the time of Christ's return.
Until the hour of His appearance in 1844 in Elam (Persia) no one
would be able to understand these inner mysteries of the holy
Books. The way was closed. This was yet another prophecy from the
pen of the same Prophet, Daniel. The words came to him in a
vision. "But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book,
even to the time of the end." Daniel, still not satisfied, pressed
for an answer to the meaning of the visions: "Then said I, O my
Lord, what shall be the end of these things? And He said, Go thy
way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time
of the end."[F29] This much was clear. No one would be able to
discover the meaning
of the words until after the return of the Spirit of Christ in the
new Messiah in the last days. Isaiah reinforces this truth: "And
the vision of all is become unto you as the words of the book that
is sealed, which men deliver to one who is learned, saying, read
this I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot for it is sealed."[F30]
These seals would not be opened by Christ in His first coming, but
only in His second. Leaders of the early Christians understood
this: "Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord
come, who will bring to light the hidden things of darkness.
..."[F31] The Apostle Peter left this clear warning about trying
to interpret the prophecies before the day of Christ's return: "We
have also a more sure word of prophecy ... that no prophecy of the
scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came
not in old time by the will of man: but the holy men of God spake
as they were moved by the Holy Ghost."[F32] It was written of
Baha'u'llah early in this century that His teachings "are the keys
to all doors. Every hidden secret will become discovered and every
hidden secret will become manifest and apparent."[F33] With the
coming of the Baha'i Faith in 1844, the Books were at last opened.
Mankind was once again faced with that same great spiritual
challenge: To accept or reject the Messiah. His "throne" had been
set in "Elam" (Persia) in the very hour (1844) foretold by Christ
Himself in three distinct prophetic promises. From the pen of the
new Messiah were to come explanations of the hidden meanings of the
prophecies in all the holy Scriptures of the world. This, too, had
been foretold in the Revelation of St. John: "In the midst of the
elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain. ... And they sung a new
song, saying Thou art worthy to take the book and to open the seals
thereof."[F34] Even Daniel, who said the books were sealed until
the time of the end, saw another vision of the "last days" in which
the books would be opened by the new Messiah: "Ten thousand times
ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set and the books
were opened."
Speaking further of his great vision, following the opening of the
books, Daniel says that he saw: "The Ancient of Days ... and there
was given him dominion and glory, and a kingdom, that all people,
nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an
everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom
that which shall not be destroyed."[F35] This is the story behind
the great search for the promised One undertaken by Shaykh Ahmad,
Siyyid Kazim, Mulla Husayn, Quddus, Tahirih, Vahid, and those holy
souls who were so much like the disciples of Christ in His day.
Now at last the books were opened and the truth revealed: 1.
Christ would appear in Elam (Persia). 2. Christ would return in
the year 1844. 3. Christ would return not in the flesh, but with
the same Holy Spirit in a new identity. In order that this last
truth of the three might never be misunderstood, repeated promises
were given throughout the Bible that in the last days the Messiah
would come with a "new name." It was also promised that His
followers would be called by a "new name." 1. "Thou shalt be
called by a new name." 2. "The Lord God shall ... call his
servants by another name."[F36] 3. "To him that overcometh will
I give to eat of the hidden manna and will give him a white stone,
and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving
he that receives it." Only those that had the "eyes to see" and the
"ears to hear" would receive the name and know it. In the very
chapter in which Christ revealed to John, "If therefore thou shalt
not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know
what hour I come upon thee," a new name for His new followers is
promised yet again. Christ counsels His followers to be prepared
to cast aside all they hold dear at the time of His second coming,
just as they had been forced to cast it aside in the day of His
first coming. He makes it plain that His second coming will not
be according to the beliefs, standards, or expectations of any man.
He warns each individual that he must search for himself, must be
alert, must look with an "inner eye." In this final book of
Christian Scripture (Revelation), Christ says: "Blessed is he that
It is chapter eleven of the final book of Christian Scripture which
so clearly prophesied that the "times of the Gentiles" would be
fulfilled by the year 1844. This was the hour (1844) when Christ
Himself promised: "Then shall they see the Son of man coming."
There is no subject spoken of more frequently or with more power
in the New Testament than that of the Return of Christ. It is
mentioned repeatedly on innumerable occasions. Christ says
clearly, time after time: 1. "I will not leave you comfortless:
I will come to you." 2. "And behold I come quickly." 3. "For the
Son of man shall come in the glory of the Father." 4. "I go away
but come again unto you." 5. ""And if I go to prepare a place for
you, I will come again." Because mankind has failed to understand
the symbolical fulfillment of Christ's return, he has been forced
to abandon it and consider it a mistake; and teach some other
doctrine concerning His coming. Yet, it is easy to understand why
such a millennial zeal should have held the world in its grasp when
we realize that the following references are but some of Christ's
own promises of His coming: Matthew, chapters 16, 24, 25 and 26.
Mark, chapters 8 and 13. Luke, chapters 12 and 21. Acts, chapter
1. I Corinthians, chapters 4 and 15. I Thessalonians, chapters
1, 4 and 5. II Peter, chapters 1 and 3. In the second and thirds
chapters of Revelation, chapters filled with the promise of
Christ's second coming, and laden with warnings that it will
require a spiritual ear to hear and to understand the manner of
His coming, the "new name" for His followers is mentioned for the
final time in Christian Scripture. In these chapters, Christ speaks
of the new city, the new Jerusalem, and the new name. All the
things of the past will be swept away forever: "Him that overcometh
will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no
more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the
name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh
down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new
name."[F37] He that hath an eye to see, let him see. He that hath
an ear to hear, let him hear.
NOTE TWO Every Prophet has been called false by his own generation.
This was true of Jesus. He was considered a "false prophet." "And
there was much murmuring among the people concerning him: for some
said he is a good man; others said, Nay; but he deceiveth the
people."[F1] A famous philosopher named Celsus in the second
century compiled an entire volume filled with terrible libels about
Christ and His followers. Porphyry, one of the greatest of the
Platonic philosophers, wrote a large book against Christ and the
Christians, quoting the many abusive attacks against Jesus which
were prevalent among the leaders and the masses. The book was
later burned by order of Sydocius and Dovalantius, two Christian
emperors, who after the passing of time lauded and defended Christ
Whom the people of that same land had once called false and had
despised. James Murdock in his History of the Church quotes one of
the great scholar-emperors of Rome, Marc Antony, as saying, "You
should not ask concerning Jesus of Nazareth from these poor Romans,
none of whom has seen him, but whom baseness and indolence have
caused to follow him." He called them unimportant people, slaves,
men and women without praiseworthy qualities. The emperor Julian,
who denied his faith in Christ, said the Christians were the
"enemies of the world of humanity." Even hundreds of years after
His crucifixion, Christ was called a false prophet by the leaders
and people of the world. Most people could not believe that Hesus
of Nazareth fulfilled the prophecies about the coming Messiah which
said: 1. He (the Messiah) will sit upon the throne of David.
(Where was his throne?) 2. Mount Zion will dance. (Who had yet
seen this wonder?) 3. He will rule with a sword. (He didn't even
have a staff, let alone a sword.) 4. He will come from an unknown
place. (Did not this Jesus come from Nazareth, a place from which
tradition promised that no "good" could come?)
How then could this (Jesus) be the Messiah? When it was explained
to the people of that time that all these prophecies had been
fulfilled "inwardly" not "outwardly," symbolically and not
literally, they refused to believe it. Some of Christ's own
followers denied Him because they couldn't fully accept His
teachings. They turned away from Him and considered Him to be a
"false prophet." "From that time many of his disciples went back,
and walked no more with him."[F2] Whenever a Messenger of God
appears, such as Krishna, Moses, Zoroaster, Buddha, Jesus,
Muhammad, the Bab or Baha'u'llah, He is denounced as a "false
prophet" by those who are not spiritually awake. What satisfactory
proof can be given to the spiritually awake that Baha'u'llah is not
a false prophet? After all, Christ did warn His followers to
beware of false prophets. In the twenty fourth chapter of Matthew,
in which Christ so clearly foretold His own return in 1844, we also
find one of His strongest warnings about the last days and false
prophets: "Then if any man should say unto you, Lo, here is Christ,
or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and
false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; inasmuch
that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
"[F3] But Jesus prophecies the coming of not one, but of many false
Christs and false prophets. He points out that they will work such
astonishing wonders that they will deceive even the elect--His own
followers, the Christians. There are "false prophets" who deceive
many of the "elect" in every age. These false prophets do not
always appear in the guise of religion. There is the "false
prophet" who teaches that there is no God at all--atheism. The
coming of this last "false prophet," disbelief in God, was plainly
foretold in both the Old and the New Testament for the "time of the
end": 1. "That day [the return of Christ] shall not come except
there come a falling away first. ..."[F4] 2. "There shall be false
teachers ... who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even
denying the Lord that brought them. ... And
many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way
of truth shall be evil spoken of."[F5] The prophet Amos, who
foretold which such startling clarity that the "sun would be
darkened at noon," (in the hour of the Bab's martyrdom) also
prophesied that it should be a day of disbelief in God and a day
of great "falling away" from religion: 3. "Behold, the days come,
saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a
famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words
of the Lord. And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the
north even to the east, they shall run to and fro, to seek the Word
of the Lord, and shall not find it."[F6] 4. "Knowing this first,
that there shall come in the last days, scoffers walking after
their own lusts, And saying: Where is the promise of His
coming?"[F7] In the hour of Christ's crucifixion, the "scoffers"
who considered Him a "false prophet" were many, those who believed
in Him were few. One of His chosen disciples had betrayed Him for
money, another had denied Him three times. When His enemies came
against Him in the garden of Gethsemane with swords and stones, His
most trusted disciples deserted Him, fear overcoming their faith:
"Then all the disciples forsook Him, and fled." No wonder Christ
repeatedly warned His followers not to make this same mistake in
the hour of His return. "Watch ye therefore," He warned them, for
ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at
midnight, or at the cock-crowing, or in the morning. Lest coming
suddenly he find you sleeping."[F8] Thus, Jesus warned all future
humanity through His followers: "And what I say unto, I say unto
all, Watch!"[F9] In the twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew where we
hear Christ foretelling the hour of His return (1844), He once
again cautions His followers not to misread the signs of His coming
and thus be misled into error: "But if that evil servant shall say
in his heart My Lord delayed His coming [and thus not expecting
Him, shall deny Him], and shall begin to smite his fellow servants,
and to eat and drink with the drunken [become material-minded]; the
lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for
him, and in an hour he is not aware of, and shall cut him asunder
and appoint his portion with the hypocrites!"[F10]
Christ, Himself, Who warned His followers to beware of "false
prophets," gave humanit6y a measuring rod by which it is possible
to judge every prophet and thus be sure of the truth. He provided
an unerring standard by which every person can determine for
himself whether a prophet is "true" or "false." This standard is
found in the seventh chapter of Matthew. We find that in this one
chapter Christ gave both the warning to beware of false prophets,
and supplied the method by which to judge them. "Beware of false
prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they
are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men
gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good
tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth
evil fruit. ... Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know
them."[F11] Judge the prophet by his fruits. This is a sound basis
for judgement. It is the measure established by Christ Himself.
Therefore, let us judge Baha'u'llah by the standard given by
Christ. Let us test the fruits of Baha'u'llah's tree, for Christ
has promised us that if the "fruit" is good, the tree is good, and
the prophet true. Baha'u'llah wrote over a hundred volumes. Here
it is possible to mention but a few of His teachings, and in the
briefest manner. It is like trying to capture the ocean in a cup.
The following are "fruits" from the tree of Baha'u'llah upon
subjects which are nearest to the heart of every man, and most
vital to his welfare: 1. his home and family, 2. his country, 3.
his religion, and 4. his individual self. The first "fruit" we
shall test is that relating to man's home and family: 1. HOME AND
FAMILY Baha'u'llah calls upon all mankind to honor the sanctity of
marriage. The bond between husband and wife must be upon a
spiritual as well as a physical foundation. It must be a happy and
lasting union, for the family is the basis of society. The Baha'i
law on marriage is that man must have but one wife (monogamy). If
a man already has more than one wife, he does not give up any, but
he can take no more. Thus an injustice or upheaval will not be
caused in those lands where plural marriages
are acceptable, but gradually by the application of this law,
monogamy will be the rule everywhere. Baha'u'llah calls upon all
men and women to marry so that children may be raised up who can
honor the name of God and render service to mankind. It is
obligatory to educate the children and they must be educated and
given moral as well as scientific training. 2. MAN'S COUNTRY
Baha'u'llah's teachings state clearly that it is the "unquestioned
duty of every one of His followers to demonstrate their loyalty
and obedience to their respective governments." His teachings say,
even more specifically: "According to the direct and sacred command
of God we are forbidden to utter slander, and are commanded to show
forth peace and amity, and are exhorted to rectitude of conduct,
straightforwardness and harmony with all the kindreds and peoples
of the world."[F12] Baha'u'llah's followers are instructed to
consider disloyalty unto a just government as disloyalty to God
Himself. It is the sacred obligation of Baha'is to "promote, in
the most effective manner, the best interests of their government
and people."[F13] This is another "fruit" from the tree of
Baha'u'llah by which you may judge whether He is a true or false
prophet. 3. MAN'S RELIGION Baha'u'llah teaches that just as there
is only one God, there is also only one religion. All the great
Prophets have taught this same one religion. There is no exclusive
salvation for the Hindu, the Jew, the Zoroastrian, the Buddhist,
the Christian, the Muslim, or the Baha'i. All these pure and holy
Faiths are part of the one eternal religion of God which goes on
for ever. No religion is the one exclusive faith, or the final
outpouring of truth from Almighty God. Each religion is true, is
beautiful, is valid for the age in which it appears. It is the
only truth for that particular age, yet it is but one part of the
single, great, progressive, never-ending religion of God. The Word
of God is one though the Speakers (Messengers) are many. The Baha'i
teachings point out that the growth of religion is
like the growth of a tree. In the teaching of Krishna we see the
"seed," in that of Moses the "shoot," in that of Zoroaster the
"trunk," in that of Buddha the "branches," in that of Jesus the
"twigs," in that of Muhammad the "leaves," in that of the Bab the
"blossoms," in that of Baha'u'llah the "fruit." Because men failed
to recognize and understand the oneness, the great religions have
developed an enmity for each other. The Founders were united in
love, but the followers became divided in hate. One step is not
greater than another. All are necessary. Each stage is the
fulfillment of the one that went before. No step is exclusive; no
stage is final, not even the stage of the "fruit." The "fruit" is
the fulfillment of the "seed"; it is the end of a cycle; but from
that "fruit" will come the seed of another great cycle. "The
Religion of God," Baha'u'llah declares, "is for the sake of love
and union; make it not the cause of enmity and conflict."[F14]
Baha'u'llah was exiled like Abraham, stoned like Moses, and
scourged like Jesus. For nearly half a century Baha'u'llah
underwent imprisonment and exile, during which He was poisoned,
beaten, chained in a dungeon, and subject to the most brutal and
continuous indignities. In the depths of His suffering, He again
pointed out the oneness of His own Mission with that of Christ.
Baha'u'llah called out to mankind: "If ye be intent on crucifying
once again Jesus, the Spirit of God, put Me to death, for He hath
once more, in My person, been made manifest unto you."[F15]
Baha'u'llah commands His followers to "consort with the followers
of all religions in a spirit of friendliness and fellowship."[F16]
Baha'u'llah upholds the basic teachings of Christ, Moses, Muhammad,
Krishna and all the prophets of the past. He speaks of them all
with great love and beauty. In counselling His followers to mingle
with the people of all Faiths with radiance and gladness, He says:
"Ye are all the leaves of one tree and the drops of one ocean."
"Truly I say," Baha'u'llah tells us, "whatever lowers the lofty
station of religion will increase heedlessness in the wicked. ...
O people of God! Be not occupied with yourselves. Be intent on
the betterment of the world and the training of the nations."[F17]
This is yet another "fruit" taken from the tree of Baha'u'llah's
teachings by which you may judge whether He is a true or false
prophet. 4. MAN'S INDIVIDUAL LIFE The reason a Prophet (Messenger)
comes to earth, Baha'u'llah says, is "to educate the souls of men,
and to refine the character of every living man. ..."[F18] "The
essence of faith," Baha'u'llah counsels, "is fewness of words and
abundance of deeds. ..." "Beware, O people of Baha, lest ye walk
in the ways of them whose words differ from their deeds." "Let
your acts be a guide to all mankind. ... It is through your deeds
that ye can distinguish yourselves from others. Through them the
brightness of your life can be shed upon the whole earth." "The
most vital duty, in this day, is to purify your characters, to
correct your manners, and improve your conduct," Baha'u'llah
proclaims. "The beloved of the Merciful must show forth such
character and conduct among His creatures, that the fragrance of
their holiness may be shed upon the whole world. ..." "A good
character is, verily, the best mantle for men. ... The light of a
good character surpasses the light of the sun. ... Upon this the
honor and glory of the world are based and are dependent. ..."
"Trustworthiness ... is the door to the security and tranquility
of mankind."[F19] Throughout Baha'u'llah's Teachings, such
additional counsels on individual behavior as these are found: "Do
not be content with showing friendship in words alone, let your
heart burn with loving kindness for all who may cross your
path."[F20] "... show the utmost kindness and compassion to the
sick and suffering. This has greater effect than the remedy
itself. You must always have this thought of love and affection
when you visit the ailing and afflicted."[F21] Baha'u'llah has
given the following standard of conduct for all His followers: "Be
generous in prosperity, and thankful in adversity. Be worthy of
the trust of thy neighbor, and look upon him with a
bright and friendly face. Be a treasure to the poor, ... an answer
to the cry of the needy. ... Be unjust to no man. ... Be as a lamp
unto them that walk in darkness, a joy to the sorrowful, a sea for
the thirsty, a haven for the distressed, an upholder and defender
of the victim of oppression. ... Be a home for the stranger, a balm
to the suffering, a tower of strength for the fugitive. Be eyes
to the blind, and a guiding light unto the feet of the erring. ...
a breath of life to the body of mankind. ..."[F22] This is another
"fruit" taken from the tree of Baha'u'llah. Christ said "by their
fruits ye will know them." These will help you to decide whether
Baha'u'llah is a true or false prophet. The following final
"fruits" are but a few of the Teachings taken from this vast
reservoir which Baha'u'llah has left to humanity: 1. Each
individual shall make his own independent search after truth. The
Teachings of Baha'u'llah say: "The greatest gift of God to man is
his intelligence." Each individual should investigate spiritual
truth for himself. He can, and should, learn from the knowledge
and efforts of others, but he should not accept their findings as
the final truth for himself without a personal investigation. Each
person is individually responsible for the relationship between
himself and God. Only a sincere individual search can bring about
a just decision. This is a "fruit" from the tree of Baha'u'llah's
Teachings. 2. Men and women should enjoy equal rights, privileges,
education, and opportunities throughout the world. Baha'u'llah
attached great importance to this principle. His teachings
emphasize the fact that this the mother is the teacher of the child
during its early and formative years, it is most necessary that
she have a good education. The universal education which
Baha'u'llah advocates would give an equal position to boys and
girls, men and women. When the station of woman is elevated until
it is co-equal to that of man everywhere in the entire world, the
stability and wholesomeness of social affairs throughout the world
will be greatly improved.
This is also a "fruit" from Baha'u'llah's tree. 3. Education must
be available to all. No one should be deprived of an opportunity
for education, Baha'u'llah's teachings explain. Nor must anyone
be permitted to deprive himself of an education. Education must
be compulsory up to a certain age. "To acquire knowledge is
incumbent on all," Baha'u'llah declares, "but of those sciences
which may profit the people of the earth. ... The possessors of
sciences and arts have a great right among the people of the world.
... Indeed, the real treasury of man is his knowledge. Knowledge
is the means of honor, prosperity, joy, gladness, happiness and
exaltation."[F23] This is another "fruit." 4. An international
language must be taught throughout the world in addition to the
mother-tongue. Baha'u'llah has instructed that a universal language
must be fashioned or adopted from one of the existing languages.
This will greatly aid commerce and will break down the barriers of
misunderstandings among peoples. This language would be an
international auxiliary language. Each land would keep the beauty
and charm of its own mother-tongue, but would learn in addition an
international auxiliary language. "... my determination is to
gather the nations. ... For then will I turn to the people a pure
language that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve
Him with one consent."[F24] This, too, is a "fruit" from the
Teachings of Baha'u'llah. tree. 5. Religion must agree with science
and reason. In a world society such as that foretold by
Baha'u'llah, "science and religion, the two most potent forces in
human life, will be reconciled, will cooperate, and will
harmoniously develop."[F25] This is a "fruit" upon Baha'u'llah's
tree. 6. All men are the children of one Father, God, and are the
brothers and sisters of one human family. However great the
conqueror may be, he is finally entombed, possessionless. He keeps
but one small plot of earth for his bones.
Thus every warrior is interred. The earth belongs to God, and man
is a tenant here for but a brief span. His greatest possession,
next to love of God, is love for his fellow human beings.
Prejudices of all kinds must be banished from the earth. In order
to eliminate racial prejudice, it is essential to eliminate racial
consciousness and to see all humanity as the children of one
Father. "Lovers of mankind," His Teachings proclaim, are the
superior people, of whatever country, color or creed they may be."
This also is a "fruit" taken from Baha'u'llah's tree. 7. The soul
is the essential part of every human being and lives forever. The
most vital belief any man can possess, Baha'u'llah assures us, and
one which man cherishes most of all at the moment of death, is a
belief in God and in the immortality of his own spirit. Baha'u'llah
repeatedly gives mankind comforting assurance upon this essential
truth.* After reading Baha'u'llah's words on this subject, man has
great confidence in that inner prompting which tells him that he
does indeed have an immortal soul. Many of the great scientific
minds of our day substantiate these inner truths from their own
research. They point out that matter itself is indestructible and
has a form of immortality; therefore, how can the spirit be mortal?
The eminent biologist C. C. Hurst writes, "Recent genetical
research leads us to the inevitable conclusion that, in general,
living genes are relatively immortal.[F26] Arthur H. Compton, Nobel
Prize Winner for his work in physics, says: "... it is only fair
to point out that science has found no cogent reason for supposing
that what is of importance in a man can be buried in a grave."[F27]
Dr. Compton says in yet another place, "Biologically speaking,
life, whether it be an apple seed or the germ cell of a man, is
essentially continuous and eternal ... May we not also logically
say that continuity of consciousness, mind or soul may be presumed
from the essential eternality of the germ cell?"[F28]
_________________________ *Read: Gleanings from the Writings of
Baha'u'llah, The Hidden Words, Reality of Man, Life after Death,
The Baha'i World Faith, Some Answered Questions.
This is another "fruit" of Baha'u'llah by which you may judge Him.
8. Prayer is both a blessing and an obligation. Prayer brings
healing to the soul. It brings joy and happiness, and protects man
from tests and difficulties. It is essential to the life of the
spirit. Just as the physical body must have food each day, so does
the soul need food each day. Prayer is the spiritual food of the
soul. A physical body which is not fed regularly becomes emaciated
from malnutrition. It sickens and dies. The same is true of the
soul of man. This spirit must be fed regularly and well, or it
will suffer the same loss of power. It too, will sicken. While
it never dies, it becomes so helpless that it exists in a form of
death. For example, if a man lets his arm hang at his side without
ever using it, soon the power to move the arm vanishes. The arm
has become atrophied and useless. A man's soul without the
nourishment of regular prayer also becomes atrophied and useless.
Baha'u'llah has left a rich legacy of beautiful, uplifting prayers.
However, His Faith instructs man to remember that prayer is by no
means limited to the use of these prayers. Work itself,
Baha'u'llah says, is worship. One's daily work when done in the
spirit of service to mankind, and performed to the best of one's
ability, is prayer of the finest kind. "We have made this--your
occupation--identical with the worship of God," Baha'u'llah has
written.[F29] He teaches that one's whole life should be a prayer.
Every thought, word or deed devoted to the good of one's fellow-man
is a prayer in the truest sense of the word. By means of these
principles and laws, Baha'u'llah has laid the foundation for a
united world, so that the prophecies of Scripture might be
fulfilled and there might come that promised day of "one fold and
one shepherd." Nearly a century ago, Baha'u'llah proclaimed the
essential need for the establishment of a universal House of
Justice which would be dedicated to preserving the welfare of all
men upon the planet. It would protect both great and small
nations. It would guarantee the rights of individuals.
Baha'u'llah addressed the Rulers and Kings of the earth, warning
them of the dire consequences which would follow if they failed to
raise up such a structure. Without it, He told them, disaster
would come upon the world. This world organization envisioned by
Baha'u'llah would have a world parliament which would be
democratically elected. It would have a world metropolis, an
international police force, and a world tribunal or court. It would
not be dedicated to the West or the East; it would not favor the
light or the dark; it would not prefer the Jew or the Gentile.
This world organization would be dedicated to one purpose only:
the welfare of the entire human race. This great universal body
would establish a common system of weights and measures and a
common currency. It would develop all of the world's natural
resources and would regulate markets so that "have not" nations
would no longer exist. It would eliminate the extremes of poverty
and wealth without destroying the natural degrees of difference
which talent and initiative create. It would further an
international auxiliary language. In short, it would take all the
steps necessary to bring about a peace-loving, progressive,
prosperous human family. Professor Edward G. Browne of the
University of Cambridge visited Baha'u'llah in 1890. He wrote of
that moment as follows: "The face of him on whom I gazed I can
never forget, though I cannot describe it. Those piercing eyes
seemed to read one's very soul; power and authority sat on that
ample brow. ... No need to ask in whose presence I stood, as I
bowed myself before one who is the object of a devotion and love
which kings might envy and emperors sigh for in vain! "A mild
dignified voice bade me be seated, and then continued: `Thou hast
come to see a prisoner and an exile. ... We desire but the good of
the world and the happiness of nations. ... That all nations should
become one in faith and all men as brothers; that the bonds of
affection and unity between the sons of men should be strengthened;
that diversity of religion should cease, and differences of race
be annulled. ... These strifes and this bloodshed and discord must
cease, and all men be as one kindred and one family. ...
Let not a man glory in this, that he loves his country; let him
rather glory in this, that he loves his kind. ...' "Such, so far
as I can recall them, were the words which, besides many others,
I heard from Baha. Let those who read them consider well with
themselves whether such doctrines merit death and bonds, and
whether the world is more likely to gain or lose by their
diffusion."[F30] These are some of the "fruits" from the tree of
Baha'u'llah. Christ said: "By their fruits shall ye know them."
The responsibility of deciding whether or not Baha'u'llah is a true
prophet now rests with you. NOTE THREE It is said in Scripture and
Tradition that at the time of the birth or announcement of every
Messenger of God, a star or a sign appears in the heavens. Nimrod
was warned of the star that told of the coming of Abraham. The
soothsayers warned Pharaoh of the star in the heavens that foretold
the coming of Moses. The Magi informed Herod of the new star that
guided them to the throne of the "spiritual king," Jesus. The same
legend is told of Buddha, Zoroaster, Muhammad and Krishna. What
were the signs in the heavens during the appearance of the Bab and
Baha'u'llah? The holy Scriptures of all faiths had spoken of
Twin-Revelations that would appear at the "time of the end." Now
that the Bab and Baha'u'llah had appeared, fulfilling these
prophecies, what were the signs in the heavens? Signs, not for
one, but for two Messengers of God, Who would appear almost
simultaneously? Some of us know the story of the great comet of
1843which foreshadowed the coming of the Bab. Sir James Jeans, late
British astronomer and mathematician, stated in his book Through
Space and Time, "oddly enough, many of the most conspicuous
appearances of comets seem to have coincided with, or perhaps just
anticipated, important events in history."[F1] One of the most
unique stories of a comet is that told of the
period during which the Bab and Baha'u'llah were engaging
correspondence, and during which the Bab was preparing His
followers for the appearance of Baha'u'llah. This story was told
in the stars as well as on the earth. In 1845 a comet appeared soon
after the one in 1843. It was called Rela's Comet. It seemed to
be an ordinary comet, in a year in which some 300 comets had
appeared, and it had appeared many times before in the past. In
1846 it was still visible. At this period in its history, it
became one of the unique comets of all time. It was now entering
into the last dramatic moments of its life. The Encyclopedia
Americana gives the following account of this event: "It was found
again late in November 1845, and in the following month an
observation was made of one of the most remarkable phenomena in
astronomical records, the division of the comet. It put forth no
tail while this alteration was going on. Professor Challis, using
the Northumberland 1846, was inclined to distrust his eyes or his
glass when he beheld two comets where but one had been before. He
would call it, he said, a binary (twin) comet if such a thing had
ever been heard of before. His observations were soon verified,
however."[F2] History shows that there had been other binary (twin
comets) but Rela's was one of the most unusual. Sir James Jeans
wrote of this same comet, saying: "The most interesting story is
that of Rela's comet which broke in two while under observation in
1846." The comet then disappeared. It returned in August, 1852.
This was the very month and the very year in which Baha'u'llah was
cast into an underground prison in Tihran. This was the year 1269
of the calendar of Islam. It was also exactly the ninth year after
the Bab's Declaration to Mulla Husayn in the year 1260. The Bab
had prophesied: "Ere nine years have elapsed" the Promised One of
all ages and religions will come. It was but a few weeks later, in
that same prison, that Baha'u'llah's Mission began. August, 1852,
was the hour of the reappearance of the comet, the comet that had
split in two to become twin-comets. Strangely enough, at the time
of the reappearance of the twin-comets in 1852, one half had
receded far into the background. The other half, though in a
parallel orbit, now dominated the scene. Just so had the Bab,
the Herald of the Baha'i Faith, passed into history, and the
One Whose coming He had foretold, Baha'u'llah, had assumed His
Mission. The Americana record of this astronomical event states:
"Late in August, 1852, the larger portion again came into view; and
three weeks later the smaller one, now much fainter than its former
companion was seen about 1,500,000 miles in the lead." Sir James
Jeans confirms this: "Six years later [1852], when the comet's
orbit again brought it near to the sun, two pieces were observed
to be one and a half million miles apart." Of that hour when the
twin-comets rode the skies above His prison, Baha'u'llah has
written: "I was but a man like others, asleep upon my couch, when
lo, the breezes of the All Glorious [God] were wafted over Me and
taught Me the knowledge of all that hath been. This is not from
Me, but from One Who is Almighty and All-knowing."[F3] Following
this twin-appearance, Sir James Jeans states, "neither of them has
been seen in cometary form, but the place where they ought to be
is occupied by a swarm of millions of meteors, known as the
Andromedid meteors. Occasionally these meet the earth in its
orbit, and make a grand meteoric display." The two comets were no
longer separate comets, but were mingled in one great shower of
light, just as the Faith of the Bab and Baha'u'llah are not
separate but one in the light which they shed upon the earth. NOTE
FOUR The Bab was from the line of Bani-Hashim. Hashim was the
great-grandfather of Muhammad.[F1] The Bab was also a descendant
of Abraham through Abraham's second wife, Hagar. The Bab was of
the seed of [Isma`il], and through him of the "seed of Abraham."
When Abraham, as is related in the book of Genesis, said unto God:
"O that Ishmael might live before Thee," God replied: "And as for
Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will
make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve
princes shall be beget, and I will make of him a great nation."[F2]
Muhammad was a descendant of Isma`il. Through Muhammad the first
concept of nationhood came into being. The first great "nation"
was built upon His teachings. God's promise of Abraham that
Isma`il would beget twelve princes was also fulfilled through
Muhammad. These twelve princes were the twelve Imams, the
spiritual leaders of Shi'ah Islam. In the holy traditions of Islam
there is a prophecy which states that the twelfth of these princes
(Imams) disappeared in the year 260, and that he would reappear in
a thousand years--in the year 1260 (1844). This is the very year
of the Bab's announcement of His Mission. Baha'u'llah was also
descended from Abraham, through Abraham's third wife, Katurah.
That historical record of the Baha'i Faith, God Passes By, states:
"He [Baha'u'llah] derived His descent ... from Abraham (the Father
of the Faithful) through his wife Katurah. ..."[F3] Baha'u'llah
was also descended from the great Prophet of Iran, Zoroaster, and
in addition to the two Branches of Holiness mentioned above,
Baha'u'llah was also a descendant of Jesse. He is the "Branch"
that "shall grow out of his roots" as promised by Isaiah.
Likewise, He is the "rod" and the "ensign." "In that day there
shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the
people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be
glorious ... And he shall set up an ensign for the nations and
shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the
dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth."[F4] This
chapter of Isaiah refers to Baha'u'llah. He is the "Branch" of
Jesse who will assemble the outcasts of Israel. The Jews were not
dispersed until after the time of Christ; they were in his life
still assembled in the Holy Land. They had not yet been banished
to the four corners of the earth. At the present time, however,
the Jews have been returning from all parts of the earth to Israel.
On the sides of Mount Carmel, the Baha'i Shrines and holy places
can be seen from the sea for miles. They stand within the shadow
of the cave of Elijah where the feet of Baha'u'llah, of Christ,
and of the Prophets of old once walked. From the arid waste of
this mountain of rock has been carved a beautiful garden of paths,
flowers, trees--indeed as Isaiah had promised, the place of "his
rest shall be glorious." The story in the Bible of the oneness of
God began with Abraham's
Father of the Faithful. Through the seed of Ismail came the
religion of Muhammad and of the Bab. Through the seed of Isaac
came the religion of Moses and of Jesus. Abraham talked with God
in the land of Ur in the Chaldees in the valley of Tigris and
Euphrates rivers. He was then exiled to Syria. Baha'u'llah, the
seed of Abraham, made His open declaration to the world that He was
the Promised One of all religions in this same valley of the Tigris
and Euphrates rivers. He, too, was then exiled to Syria. Descended
from Abraham through his third wife, Katurah, Baha'u'llah extended
one hand to the followers of Muhammad and the Bab, and the other
hand to the followers of Moses and Christ and brought them together
again as foretold for the day of the "one fold and one shepherd."
Thus Baha'u'llah fulfilled the words of Isaiah: "And it shall come
to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the
second time to recover the remnant of his people. ..."[F5] NOTE
FIVE The remains of the Bab were destined to rest eternally within
the shadow of His Beloved, Baha'u'llah. Baha'u'llah was driven into
exile from His native land of Iran. He was sent to Baghdad,
Constantinople, Adrianople, and finally He was banished to the
prison-city of `Akka across the bay of Haifa from Mount Carmel. One
day while resting on the side of this holy mountain, Baha'u'llah
pointed out to His son, `Abdu'l-Baha, the exact spot where a Shrine
should be built and where the sacred remains of the Bab should be
entombed forever. Those precious mangled bodies of the Bab and His
fellow-martyr were rescued from the moat outside the city of Tabriz
by Haji Sulayman Khan and were brought to a silk factory owned by
one of the believers of Mil n. The next day they were laid in a
wooden casket and carried to a place of safety. Baha'u'llah
instructed that they be brought to Tihran and be placed in the
shrine of the Imam-
Zadih Hasan, where They would be, as the Bab Himself requested,
within the shadow of His Beloved." But, Baha'u'llah was stoned,
imprisoned and finally banished from Tihran, and those sacred
remains of the Bab were no longer with the shadow of Baha'u'llah,
the One He loved. Throughout every step of His enforced exile,
Baha'u'llah knew the exact spot which held those holy remains. They
were later removed from the shrine to the house of Haji Sulayman
Khan in the Sar-Chashmih quarter of Tihran. They were then taken
to the shrine of Imam-Zadih Masum, where they remained concealed
until the year 1867-1868. A letter was received from Baha'u'llah
in exile directing the friends to transfer them without delay to
another spot. This was done immediately, and proved to be
providential as shortly after this the shrine was reconstructed.
The followers of Baha'u'llah continued to search for a safe
suitable place. While they were on the road heading to
Chashmih-`Ali, they came upon an abandoned and dilapidated school.
That evening after dark the they deposited their precious burden
within one of its walls, having first re-wrapt the remains in a
silken shroud brought by them for that purpose. The next day they
were alarmed to discover that their hiding place had been
discovered. They were afraid that their sacred charge might fall
into the hands of enemies, so they carried the casket secretly
through the gate of the city of Tihran to the house of a friend,
where it remained for fourteen months. The long-guarded secret of
its whereabouts became known to the believers, and soon they began
to visit the house in large numbers. A letter was sent to
Baha'u'llah begging for guidance. Word came instructing one of
the followers to accept the Trust and to exercise the utmost
secrecy as to its disposal. The casket containing the remains was
buried beneath the floor of the inner sanctuary of the shrine of
Imam-Zadih Zayd. It remained there, undetected, until it was
necessary to move it again. The friend commissioned to undertake
this task was informed of the exact location through a chart
forwarded to him by Baha'u'llah. Under the instruction left by
Baha'u'llah, those precious remains were moved from house to house,
from hiding-place to hiding-place until the year 1899. In that
year, `Abdu'l-Baha instructed Mirza Asadu'llah, together
with a number of other believers, to transfer them by the way of
Isfahan, Kirman Shah, Baghdad and Damascus, to Beirut. From there
they came by sea to `Akka, arriving at their destination on
January 31, 1899.[F1] Finally, in the year 1909, the Tomb of the
Bab on the side of Mount Carmel was completed. `Abdu'l-Baha,
following the instructions of Baha'u'llah, deposited, with His own
hands, the wooden casket containing the sacred remains of the Bab
and His companion within a waiting marble sarcophagus in the floor
vault of this Shrine. `Abdu'l-Baha announced the news of this
glorious victory to the followers of Baha'u'llah: "The most joyful
tidings is this, that the holy, the luminous body of the Bab ...
after having for sixty years been transferred from place to place
... and having known neither rest nor tranquility has, through the
mercy of the Abha Beauty, been ceremoniously deposited on the day
of Naw-Ruz [New Year], within the sacred casket, on the exalted
Shrine on Mount Carmel."[F2] Today His beautiful Shrine and the
terraces leading to it are illumined at night and can be seen for
miles. The Bab was denied even a candle in the Mountain of Mahku;
now His Shrine of shining white, crowned with a dome of gold, on
the side of its green throne on Mount Carmel, is a blaze of light.
When the famed Orientalist, A. L. M. Nicolas, heard that a Shrine
had been raised to the glory of the Bab, he longed to see it. He
had been very touched by the Christ-like life of the Bab about Whom
he had written so glowingly. Shoghi Effendi Rabbani, the late
Guardian of the Baha'i Faith, sent M. Nicolas an artist's drawing
of the Shrine as well as a copy of the Dawn-Breakers, Nabil's
history of those early days. Nicolas was so deeply moved that he
kissed the bearer's hand.[F3] Thus, at last, the remains of the
Bab were interred in Mount Carmel, the "vineyard of God," according
to the direct instructions of Baha'u'llah. They rest near the cave
of Elijah whose promised coming the Bab fulfilled, there on the
side of God's holy mountain called the "nest of the prophets." The
Shrine of the Bab faces directly toward the silver-city of `Akka
and toward the spot where Baha'u'llah Himself is enshrined. Once
again, and this time forever, the Bab was "within the shadow of His
NOTE SIX One of the most dramatic stories of the coming of
Baha'u'llah, and His fulfillment of prophecy, is that told in the
Book of Micah. Micah foretold: first, that the world would be
disillusioned in that day, and that its only hope would be to await
the coming of God's Messenger; second, that He would come from
Babylon in the valley of the Tigris and Euphrates; third, that He
would come to Israel and dwell in the midst of Carmel; and fourth,
that He would fulfill specific prophecies on His journey to the
Holy Land. Of the condition of the world, Micah said: "The good man
is perished out of the earth; and there is none upright among them:
they all lie in wait for blood; they hunt every man his brother
with a net ... they do evil with both hands ... the best of them
is a brier; the most upright is sharper than a thornhedge. ..."[F1]
That man's hope would lie in the coming of God's Messenger, he
expressed in these words: "Therefore I will look unto the Lord; I
will wait for the God of my salvation: my God will hear me. ...
Then she that is my enemy shall see it, and shame shall cover her
which said unto me, Where is the Lord thy God?" ... "He will bring
me forth to the light, and I shall behold His righteousness."[F2]
Of the birth of the Mission of the Messiah in Babylon, Micah said:
"Be in pain, and labor to bring forth, O daughter of Zion, like a
woman in travail: for now shalt thou go forth out of the city, and
thou shalt dwell in the field, and thou shalt go even to Babylon,
there shalt thou be delivered; there the Lord shall redeem thee
from the hands of thine enemies."[F3] That the promised Redeemer
would come and dwell in Israel in the "last days" and nourish
humanity with His teachings, is promised in these words off Micah:
"Feed thy people with thy rod, the flock of thine heritage, which
dwell solitarily in the wood in the midst of Carmel."[F4] The
manner of His coming, and each step along His path to Israel, was
set down in detail by Micah in the same chapter:
"In that day also he shall come even to thee from Assyria, and from
the fortified cities, and from the fortress to the river, and from
sea to sea, and from mountain to mountain."[F5] The exact number
of years during which the Mission of the promised Messiah would
last are also foretold by Micah: "According to the days of thy
coming out of the land of Egypt will I shew Him marvelous
things."[F6] These startling and prophetic words were all fulfilled
by Baha'u'llah in the following manner: 1. He was born in Persia,
once part of the ancient kingdom of Assyria; thus He came from
Assyria. 2. He was driven in exile to Baghdad, modern metropolis
of Mesopotamia. It is near the site of the ancient capital,
Babylon, which was queen of the region in Biblical times. 3.
Baha'u'llah withdrew out of the city into the fields and mountains,
as Christ had gone into the desert. After a period of prayer and
meditation, He returned to Baghdad (successor of Babylon) to make
His declaration that He was the promised Redeemer of mankind. 4.
He came to the Holy Land and dwelt in the midst of Carmel; from
there His flock was fed by the rod of His teachings, for Mount
Carmel is the world center of His Faith, and the site of many of
its holy places. 5. Baha'u'llah came from Assyria to Babylon. He
was then marched over land as a prisoner, and finally shipped by
sea to the fortified city of Constantinople. He was later exiled
further, and came by sea to the fortified city of `Akka. For two
years He was confined in a cell in the fortress prison. After nine
years within the prison walls of `Akka, Baha'u'llah was at last
permitted to leave the shadow of the fortress and go out to the
river which flowed around an island in the garden of Ridvan. As a
prisoner, He was shipped across the Black Sea to Constantinople,
and via the Mediterranean Sea to Haifa and `Akka. Baha'u'llah
withdrew into the mountain of Sar Galu outside of Baghdad to pray
before announcing His Mission, and in the last years of His life,
He pitched His tent on the side of Mount Carmel, called by Isaiah
the "mountain of God." 6. From the time Baha'u'llah's Mission
began, until the day of His death in the Holy Land, exactly forty
years elapsed, which was precisely "according to the days of thy
[the Jews] coming out of the land of Egypt"; during these forty
years Baha'u'llah poured out His teaching as Almighty God "shewed
Him marvelous things." Baha'u'llah had come to Israel "by way of
the sea" as prophesied by Isaiah. He was sent as a prisoner to the
great stone fortress in
the valley of Achor, now called `Akka, as foretold by the Book of
Hosea: "And I will give her vineyard from thence, and the valley
of Achor for a door of hope: and she shall sing there as in the
days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the
land of Egypt."[F7] The Baha'i House of Worship to be built upon
Mount Carmel, and which will be open to the people of all nations
and faiths, will look down upon both the plain of Sharon and the
valley of `Akka [Achor], as foreshadowed by the prophet Isaiah:
"Sharon shall be a fold of flocks, and the valley of Achor a place
for the herds to lie down in, for my people who have sought
me."[F8] Baha'u'llah had been sent to the prison of `Akka because
it was believed by the religious leaders of Persia and Turkey that
He would die there and be forgotten. The atmosphere was so foul
that proverb said of the spot: "If a bird flies over `Akka, it
dies!" His enemies did not realize that by driving Him there in
exile, they were fulfilling the prophecies of sacred Scripture.
Soon the followers of Baha'u'llah came to this arid, desert land
from far off places. They brought with them roses of every hue,
flowers, plants, and fruit trees. It became a garden as the years
passed, filled with colorful blossoms, the fragrance of orange and
lemon trees, with the brilliance of the flaming pomegranate. even
as Isaiah had visualized: "It shall blossom abundantly and rejoice
even with joy and singing: the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto
it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory
of the Lord, and the excellency of our God."[F9] Thousands of
visitors from all over the world now visit the magnificent Baha'i
gardens on the side of Mount Carmel and on the plain of `Akka.
Wherever the feet of Baha'u'llah walked, there are now lovely
gardens and paths. Roses of every hue and description can be seen.
White and red stone paths wind through beds of many-colored flowers
of all shapes and shades. The rocky desolate side of Mount Carmel
and the desert sand of `Akka have been transformed into green lanes
shaded by dark cedars of Lebanon, fir trees, pine trees, box trees,
towering mulberry trees, and fruit trees of all varieties; it is
a pageant of beauty. The words of Isaiah echo like a chorus
through the mountainside:
1. "The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them;
and the desert shall blossom as the rose."[F10] 2. "The glory of
Lebanon shall come unto thee, the fir tree, the pine tree, and the
box together to beautify the place of my sanctuary; and I will make
the place of my feet glorious."[F11] These beautiful gardens and
holy places which were raised up by the pen of Baha'u'llah lie on
the north side of Mount Carmel, looking across the Bay of Haifa
toward the white sands of `Akka. Here on the north side of the
mountain is being built all the future institutions of the Baha'i
Faith at its world center. This is the day and the place which
David promised in his Psalms when he spoke of the mountain of God:
"... on the sides of the north, the city of the great King."[F12]
Ezekiel echoes the same promise given by Isaiah, Hosea, Micah,
Daniel, Jeremiah, Zephaniah, Zechariah, and Malachi: "And, behold,
the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east: and
his voice was like the noise of many waters: and the earth shined
with his glory. ... And the glory of the Lord came unto the house
by way of the gate whose prospect is toward the east."[F13]
Baha'u'llah, Whose names means the Glory of the Lord, or the Glory
of God, came to Israel from His homeland, Persia, which lies
directly east of the Holy Land. His Herald, the Bab, foretold His
coming and prepared the way for Him. Bab is a word which means the
Gate. When Ezekiel had this vision of the last days, he said: "I
saw it were the appearance of fire. ... This was the appearance of
the likeness of the glory of the Lord. And when I saw it, I fell
upon my face. ..."[F14] The people at the time of Christ denied
Jesus because they said that Moses had talked with God. Christ was
plainly inferior. No station could equal that of the Interlocutor:
He Who talked with God. Now in the time of Baha'u'llah, the people
deny Him, saying: Christ is the Son of God. Baha'u'llah is plainly
inferior. Nothing could equal the station of the Son of God.
George Townshend, sometime Canon of St. Patrick's Cathedral,
Dublin, late Archdeacon of Clonfert, wrote in his book, Christ and
Baha'u'llah: "It has long been generally believed that Jesus Christ
was a
unique incarnation of God such as had never before appeared in the
religious history. ... This tenet made the acceptance of any later
Prophet impossible, to a Christian. Yet there is nothing in
Christ's own statements, as recorded in the Gospel, to support this
view, and it was not generally held during His lifetime. ... "In
spite of Christ's promise of further revelation of Truth, through
the Comforter, through His own return, through the Spirit of Truth,
the Christian church regards His revelation as final, and itself
as the sole trustee of this religion. There is no room for the
Supreme Redeemer of the Bible to bring in great changes for the
establishment of the Kingdom of God. ... "Well might Christ warn
His followers that false prophets would arise and misinterpret His
teachings so as to delude even the most earnest and intelligent of
His believers: from early times the Christians have disputed about
Christian truth in councils, in sects, in wars." Will Durant in
The Age of Faith states that more Christians were killed by their
fellow Christians during the dispute over the meaning of the
Trinity than were slain during all the martyrdoms of Pagan Rome.
Baha'u'llah pointed to the words of Christ: "For the Son of Man
shall come in the glory of His Father."[F15] The meaning of the
station of the "Son" and that of the "Father" was explained by
Christ Himself in beautiful and simple language in His parable of
the Vineyard. In fact, the whole history of religion,
Baha'u'llah's Teachings tell us, can be found in this one parable:
"A certain man planted a vineyard, and set a hedge about it, and
digged a place for the winefat, and built a tower, and let it out
to husbandmen, and went into a far country. And at the season he
sent to the husbandmen a servant, that he might receive from the
husbandmen of the fruit of the vineyard. And they caught him, and
beat him, and sent him away empty. And again he sent unto them
another servant; and at him they cast stones, and wounded him in
the head, and sent him away shamefully handled. And again he sent
another; and him they killed and many others; beating some, and
killing some. Having yet therefore one son, his well-beloved, he
sent him also last unto them, saying, They will reverence my son.
But those husbandmen said among themselves, This is the heir; let
us kill him, and the inheritance shall be ours.
And they took him and killed him, and cast him out of the vineyard.
What shall therefore the lord of the vineyard do? He will come and
destroy the husbandmen, and will give the vineyard unto
others."[F16] The meaning is this: The vineyard is the earth, the
man who planted it is God, and the husbandmen to whom it was let
out are the people of the earth, especially their leaders. The
servant who was sent by God to claim the fruit was a Messenger or
Prophet of God. The fruit He came to gather was the hearts of the
people given in love for God and for their fellowman. They beat
the Prophet (servant) and drove Him off. So God sent another
Prophet (servant) unto the world (vineyard) to claim His right from
His creation. But the people (husbandmen) stoned them, beat them,
and killed them. Always dealing thus with God's Messengers.
Finally the owner (God) sent his son (Christ) into the vineyard
(earth) thinking surely they will honor Him and at last know the
truth. But they crucified Him. Thereupon the owner (God) sent the
Lord of the vineyard (Baha'u'llah), representing the Father Himself
into the vineyard (earth). His Mission was to destroy the wicked
husbandmen who did not acknowledge and serve God, and to give the
vineyard (earth) out to those who were worthy of the Truth of God.
This is the outward symbol of the inward truth explaining the
meaning of a gradually unfolding religion, and of the station of
the Son (Christ) and the Father (Baha'u'llah). One is not greater
than the Other. Both are equal. The fullness of Their Message
depends upon the age and the receptivity of the people to whom They
appear. Their purpose and spirit is one, Their love for Each
other great. Baha'u'llah has written: "Bethlehem is astir with the
Breeze of God. We hear her voice saying: `O most generous Lord!
... The sweet savors of Thy presence have quickened me, after I
had melted in my separation from Thee. Praised be Thou in that
Thou hast raised the veils, and come with power in evident
glory.'"[F17] Baha'u'llah was twice imprisoned in the land of His
birth, Persia. He was scourged by the priests in the prayer-house
at Amul. He was poisoned in the Black-pit prison in Tihran, into
which He was hurled. He was stoned on two separate occasions.
His shoulders
were lacerated by two hundred-pound chains. He was driven into
exile to Baghdad, across the icy mountains in the midst of winter,
possessionless, without proper food or clothes. There, another
attempt was made on His life. He was cruelly persecuted during His
further banishment to Constantinople and Adrianople. In the latter
city He was twice poisoned. Shipped in bondage to `Akka, He was
cast into a cell. At last Baha'u'llah reached the Holy Land and
walked where the feet of Christ had walked. NOTE SEVEN All the
Faiths of the world speak of a great "last day" when God will rule
the earth and all the sheep will be gathered together into one
flock. Christ Himself said: "And other sheep I have, which are not
of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice;
and there shall be one fold and one shepherd."[F1] In the Book of
Zechariah it is expressed in yet another way: "And the Lord shall
be king over all the earth: in that day there shall be one Lord,
and his name one."[F2] Although the name of every prophet up until
the present time has appeared in various forms in the different
languages of the world, the name Baha'u'llah is never spoken other
than in this one form which is used throughout the earth. In
speaking of the last day, the Book of Habbakuk states: "For the
earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord,
as the waters cover the sea."[F3] The great American Negro
educator, George Washington Carver, said that he believed that it
was Baha'u'llah of Whom Habbakuk spoke when he uttered these
prophetic words. In NOTE ONE of this APPENDIX, we mentioned Leonard
H. Kelber of Stuttgart, Germany. He and his followers awaited
Christ's return in those fateful years between 1843-1845. When
Christ did not appear as they expected, Kelber and his followers
sold their possessions, chartered a boat, and sailed to the Holy
Land. This colony of Christians, German Templers, settled at the
foot of Mount Car-
met. They were convinced by their study of the Scriptures that
the "Glory of God" would appear on the side of Mount Carmel in the
last days. In the stones above their doorways they carved the
words: "Der Herr ist Nahe: the Lord is near." They arrived in 1863,
the very year when in far off Baghdad, Baha'u'llah made His public
declaration to the world that He was the Promised One of all Ages.
the "Father" foretold for the time of the end. Baha'u'llah was
driven into exile until He reached the prison of `Akka, and in the
last years of His life He walked on the side of Mount Carmel. He
looked down upon that colony of Christians who were waiting for the
appearance of the "Glory of God." His name, Baha'u'llah, when
translated into English, means "The Glory of God." In the
Revelation of St. John the Divine, that disciple associated the
Glory of God with the new Jerusalem, saying: "And I John saw the
holy city, new Jerusalem. ... And the city had no need of the sun
... for the Glory of God did lighten it."[F4] At the time of the
coming of the Baha'i Faith, there were seven of the old revealed
religions extant, with followers supporting them. This does not
count philosophies and sects separately, such as were established
by great reformers such as Confucius and Luther. These seven great
historical religions are those with a Book, a Prophet, and an
historical civilization. They were as follows: 1. Sabean:
Prophet, unknown. Date--5,000 B.C.* 2. Hindu: Prophet, Krishna.
Date--2,000 B.C.* 3. Jewish: Prophet, Moses. Date--1330 B.C. 4.
Zoroastrian: Prophet, Zoroaster. Date--1,000 B.C.* 5. Buddhist:
Prophet, Buddha. Date--560 B.C. 6. Christian: Prophet, Christ.
Date--1 A.D. 7. Islamic: Prophet, Muhammad. Date--622 A.D. From
the first of these great religions, Sabeanism, to the last, Islam,
there was a cycle of 5,000 years. During this period, each of
these religions looked forward to the "last days," or "day," when
their own Faith would have its final fulfillment. Each of these
pure and holy religions was a step in the progressive unfolding of
the one great religion of God, divine and indivisible.
___________________ *Date is approximate, as authorities differ.
These seven religions were spoken of by Isaiah in one of his
prophesies, which was to be fulfilled in the day of the "one fold
and one shepherd." Isaiah wrote: "And in that day seven women shall
take hold of one man, saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear
our own apparel: only let us be called by thy name, to take away
our reproach."[F5] With the coming of Baha'u'llah, each of these
seven women (religions) do eat of their own bread and wear their
own apparel. It is one of the principles of the Baha'i Faith that
the spiritual, or underlying truths, ("food" and "apparel") are the
same in every religion. These inner truths are not altered. It
is only the outer teachings which are changed according to the
needs of the people in the day in which each new prophet appears.
A basic teaching of Baha'u'llah is that the foundation of all
religions is one. These "seven women" (religions) can take hold
of "one man" (Baha'u'llah) and accept Him, confident that they are
losing none of the pure, beautiful truths upon which they were
founded. The same remarkable prophecy of Isaiah, which foretells
the unity of all the great religions in the "last days," also gives
the promise of a new name by which God's Faith will be known. The
prophecy says: "Let us be called by thy name," meaning the name of
the new Prophet. Baha'u'llah is the name of the Prophet. His
followers are called Baha'is, meaning followers of Baha'u'llah, the
"Glory of God." Baha'u'llah is the Promised One of all religions.
He fulfilled by His coming the promise given to each of these
Faiths in their own sacred Scripture:[F6] "To Israel He was
neither more nor less than the incarnation of the `Everlasting
Father,' the `Lord of Hosts' come down `with ten thousand saints';
to Christendom, Christ returned `in the glory of the Father'; to
Shi'ah Islam, the return of the Imam Husayn; to Sunni Islam, the
descent of the `Spirit of God' (Jesus Christ); to the Zoroastrians,
the promised Shah-Bahram; to the Hindus, the reincarnation of
Krishna; to the Buddhists, the fifth Buddha." Isaiah referred to
Baha'u'llah as: The "Glory of the Lord," the "Everlasting Father,"
the "Prince of Peace," the "Rod come forth out of the stem of
Jesse," Who "shall judge among the nations," Who "shall assemble
the outcasts of Israel."
David sang of Baha'u'llah as the "Lord of Hosts" and the "King of
Glory." Daniel proclaimed His appearance as the "Day of the Lord."
Malachi described it as "the great and dreadful day of the Lord"
when "the Sun of Righteousness" will "arise, with healing in His
wings." To Baha'u'llah's coming, Zoroaster must have referred when
He foretold a period of three thousand years of conflict which must
precede the advent of the World-Saviour, Shah-Bahram, Who would
"usher in an era of blessedness and peace." Baha'u'llah alone is
meant by the prophecy "attributed to Gautama Buddha, Himself, that
`a Buddha named Maitreye, the Buddha of universal fellowship'
should, in the fullness of time, arise and reveal `His boundless
glory.'" To Baha'u'llah the Bhagavad-Gita of the Hindus referred,
calling Him the "Most Great Spirit," the "Tenth Avatar," the
"Immaculate Manifestation of Krishna." To Baha'u'llah, Jesus, the
Christ, referred as the "Prince of this world," the "Comforter" Who
will "reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of
judgement," the "Son of Man" Who "shall come in the glory of His
Father," the "Lord of the Vineyard, "the "Spirit of Truth," Who
"will guide you to all truth." To Baha'u'llah, Muhammad alluded in
His Book as the "Great Announcement." He declared the Day of
Baha'u'llah to be the Day whereon "God" will "come down"
"overshadowed with clouds," the "Great Day," the "Last Day," the
day "when the earth shall shine with the light of her Lord." The
Book of Revelation referred to Baha'u'llah as the "Glory of God,"
as "Alpha and Omega," "the Beginning and the End," "the First and
the Last." To the hour of Baha'u'llah's appearance, St. Paul
alluded as the hour of the "last trump," the "trump of God." St.
Peter spoke of Baha'u'llah's day as "the times of refreshing," the
"times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the
mouth of all His holy Prophets since the world began." the Bab
extolled Baha'u'llah as the "Lord of the visible and invisible,"
"the Omnipotent Master," the "Essence of Being," the "sole Object
of all previous Revelations, including the Revelation of the Qa'im
[the Bab] Himself." Baha'u'llah is toe source of joy and
thanksgiving to all the
religions and Prophets who preceded Him. He is the seal of their
labor, the fulfiller of their promises, the blessed object of all
their hopes. He was indeed destined by the finger of God, to be
the Author of the day of the "one fold and one shepherd." All the
Books of the past which had been sealed were opened by Him, and
their truth made clear to men. In that historical record of the
Baha'i Faith, God Passes By, written by Shoghi Effendi, the first
Guardian of the Baha'i Faith, and great-grandson of Baha'u'llah,
it is stated: "Foremost among the priceless treasures cast forth
from the billowing ocean of Baha'u'llah's Revelation ranks the Kit
b-i-Iqan (Book of Certitude), revealed within the space of two days
and two nights. ... [it] broke the `seals' of the `Book' referred
to by Daniel, and disclosed the meaning of the `words' destined to
remain closed up `till the time of the end.'"[F7] "The Word of God
hath set the heart of the world afire," Baha'u'llah proclaims; "how
regrettable if ye fail to be enkindled by its flame!"[F8] Linking
His own Faith forever with that of Christ, Baha'u'llah wrote
movingly: "O Bethlehem! ... Tell Me then: Do the sons recognize the
Father, and acknowledge Him, or do they deny Him, even as the
people aforetime denied Him (Jesus)?"[F9] The Pen of Baha'u'llah
has called out to all mankind to have "eyes that will see" and
"ears that will hear" in this day. To the question: "Have the
verses been sent down?" He answers, "Say: `Yea, by Him Who is the
Lord of the heavens!' `Hath the Hour come?' `Nay, more; it hath
passed. ... He, the True One, hath appeared with proof and
testimony. ...'"[F10] "We, in truth, have opened unto you the gates
of the Kingdom," Baha'u'llah calls out. "Will ye bar the doors of
your houses in My face?"[F11] Baha'u'llah calls to the "pure in
heart" who are seeking for the healing Word of God: "I bear
witness, O friends! that the favor is complete, the argument
fulfilled, the proof manifest and the evidence established. Let
it now be seen what your endeavors in the path of detachment will
reveal."[F12] "He that hath an ear to hear, let him hear."
EPILOGUE "Let no one, while this system is still in its infancy,
misconceive its character, belittle its significance or
misrepresent its purpose. ... The source from which it derives its
inspiration is no one less than Baha'u'llah Himself [God's
Messenger for this day]. ... Its seed is the blood of no less than
twenty thousand martyrs who have offered up their lives that it
may be born and flourish." Unlike the religion of Christ, unlike
all the religions of the past, the followers of Baha'u'llah in
every land, "wherever they labor and toil, have before them in
clear, in unequivocal and emphatic language, all the laws, the
regulations, the principles, the institutions, the guidance, they
require for the prosecution and consummation of their task. ..
Therein lies the strength in the unity of the [Baha'i] Faith ...
that claims not to destroy or belittle previous Revelations, but
to connect, unify and fulfill them." "The Call of God when raised,
breathed a new life into the body of mankind," said `Abdu'l-Baha,
"and infused a new spirit into the whole creation. It is for this
reason that the world hath been moved to its depths, and the hearts
and consciences of men been quickened. Erelong the evidences of
this regeneration will be revealed, and the fast asleep will be
awakened."[F1] Since the day that `Abdu'l-Baha, the son of
Baha'u'llah, spoke these words, Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the
Faith, executed
and carried out a world-wide teaching plan during which, up to
1959, Baha'i literature was translated into two hundred and
forty-four languages. Baha'i schools, National Headquarters, and
properties are to be found in every continent. The National
Assemblies of the Baha'i Faith have been given legal recognition
by the leading countries of the world. The Baha'i Faith has been
recognized as one of the non-governmental agencies attached to the
United Nations. The world center of the Baha'i Faith is in Haifa,
Israel, on the side of Mount Carmel, the "mountain of God."
Professor Norman Bentwich in his article on Palestine, said of the
Baha'i Faith, "Palestine [now, Israel] may indeed be now regarded
as the land of not three but four faiths, because the Baha'i creed,
which has its center of faith in `Akka and Haifa, is attaining to
the character of a world religion. ... it is a factor making for
international and inter-religious understanding." The magnificent
Baha'i gardens, Shrines and holy places are a center of beauty and
pilgrimage which attract Baha'is and visitors from all parts of
the earth. Baha'i Temples are being erected in Africa, Australia
and Europe. They already have been raised up in Asia and America.
The beautiful Baha'i House of Worship in the United States of
America has been called "the first new idea in architecture since
the thirteenth century." There is hardly a country, territory or
island of the sea where the Word of Baha'u'llah has not been
taught. Like a mighty wind of God, this Faith has swept across
the face of this planet. It began on May 23, 1844. In a little
over a hundred years, it has spread to over five thousand centers
in every corner of the earth, fulfilling the prophecy of Habbakuk
for the last days. "For the earth shall be filled with the
knowledge of the glory of the Lord [Baha'u'llah], as the waters
cover the sea." (2:14) Great figures from all walks of life have
paid tribute to this young, encouraging, uplifting religion. 1.
"If there has been any prophet in recent times, it is to
Baha'u'llah that we must go." (the Rev. T. K. Cheyne, British
2. "The Baha'i Cause is one of the great moral and social forces
in all the world today." (Eduard Benes, former President of
Czechoslovakia) 3. "Not alone China, but the whole world needs
these Teachings." (Y. S. Tsao, former President of the University
of Shanghai) 4. "I regard it as one of the noblest of the world's
religions." (Dr. R. F. Piper, Philosophy Dept., Syracruse
University) 5. "The Baha'i Faith. ... accepts all great Prophets
gone before, it destroys no other creeds and leaves all doors
open." (Dowager Marie of Rumania) 6. "They [the Baha'is] have done
more to bring interreligious understanding to the world than any
other religious group." (Dr. Paul Anderson, President of the
Pennsylvania College for Women) 7. Dr. Pitrin A. Sorokin of
Harvard University has called the Baha'i Faith: "... this highly
spiritual and moral religion." 8. Dr. Herbert Adams Gibbons,
American historian, writes of the Baha'i teachings: "... they form
an unanswerable argument and plea for the only way that the world
can be made over. If we could put into effect this program, we
should indeed have a new world order." 9. D. V. Lesney, famous
scholar: "Baha'u'llah is a Savior of the Twentieth Century." "The
time fore-ordained unto the peoples and kindreds of the earth is
now come. The promises of God, as recorded in the holy Scriptures
have all been fulfilled." "The Lord is come in His great glory!"
"He, verily, is the One Whom ye were promised in the Books of God.
... How long will ye wander in the wilderness of heedlessness and
superstition. Turn your hearts in the direction of your Lord, the
Forgiving, the Generous." "Every Prophet hath announced the coming
of this day ... This Day is God's Day! ... Happy is he who hath
renounced this world, and clung to Him. ..." "Bestir yourselves,
O people, ... for the promised hour is now come. Beware lest ye
fail to apprehend its import. ..." "Night hath succeeded day, and
day hath succeeded night, and the hours and moments of your lives
have come and gone, yet none of you hath, for one instant,
contented to detach yourself from that which perisheth. Bestir
yourselves, that the brief moments that are still yours may not be
dissipated and lost. Even as the swiftness of lightning your days
shall pass, and your bodies
shall be laid to rest beneath a canopy of dust. What can ye then
achieve? How can ye atone for your past failure?" "He Who is the
Everlasting Father calleth aloud between earth and heaven. Blessed
the ear that hath heard, and the eye that hath seen, and the heart
that hath turned unto Him ... "This is that which the Son (Jesus)
hath decreed."--Baha'u'llah
REFERENCES FORWARD E. G. Browne, Preface to The Chosen Highway by
Lady Blomfield, pp. v-vi. PROLOGUE 1. Comte de Gobineau, Les
Religions et les Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale, p. 220. CHAPTER
ONE 1. James Henry Foreman, Story of Prophecy, pp. 310-311. 2.
Nabil, The Dawn-Breakers, pp. 9-10, footnote 3; pp. 17-18, footnote
2. 3. Ibid., pp. 4, 9-10, 16. 4. Ibid., p. 59: and footnote. 5.
Ibid., pp. 25-30; 40-46. 6. Revelation 11:4. 7. Quran 39:68. 8.
Ibid., p. 50. CHAPTER TWO 1. Nabil, The Dawn-Breakers, pp. 22-23.
2. Ibid., pp. 47-61. 3. Comte de Gobineau, Les Religions et les
Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale, p. 120. 4. Nabil, The
Dawn-Breakers, p. 61.
CHAPTER THREE 1. Nabil, The Dawn-Breakers, pp. 65-66. 2. Ibid.,
pp. 67-69. 3. Ibid., p. 70. 4. Ibid., p. 85. 5. Ibid., pp.
87-91; p. 82, footnote 1. 6. Ibid., pp. 92-94. CHAPTER FOUR 1.
Nabil, The Dawn-Breakers, p. 96. 2. Ibid., pp. 129-130. 3. Ibid.,
pp. 136-137. 4. Ibid., p. 138. 5. Luke 11:52. 6. A. L. M.
Nicolas, Introduction to Vol. I, Le Bay n Persan, pp. 3-5. 7.
Nabil, The Dawn-Breakers, pp. 140-141. CHAPTER FIVE 1. Nabil, The
Dawn-Breakers, pp. 142-143. 2. Ibid., pp. 144-148. CHAPTER SIX 1.
Nabil, The Dawn-Breakers, pp. 149-150. 2. (1) A. L. M. Nicolas,
Siyyid `Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab, pp. 203-207; 229-231. (2) Les
Livre des Sept Preuves, translated by A. L. M. Nicolas, pp. 64-65.
3. Nabil, The Dawn-Breakers, pp. 162-168. CHAPTER SEVEN 1. Comte
de Gobineau, Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l'Asie
Centrale, p. 122. 2. Ibid., p. 120. 3. Ibid., p. 118. 4. Sir
Francis Younghusband, The Gleam, p. 194. 5. Journal Asiatique,
1866, tome 7, p. 341. 6. Comte de Gobineau, Les Religions et les
Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale, pp. 120-122. 7. Journal
Asiatique, 1866, tome 8, p. 251. 8. Siyyid Yahya y-i-D r bi,
surnamed Vahid. 9. (1) A. L. M. Nicolas, Siyyid `Ali-Muhammad dit
le Bab, p. 273, (2) Nabil, The Dawn-Breakers, p. 171.
10. Le Bay n Persan, translated by Nicolas, vol. 1, p. 43. 11.
A. L. M. Nicolas, Siyyid `Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab, p. 234, 12.
A Traveller's Narrative, translated by E. G. Browne, p. 8. 13.
Nabil, The Dawn-Breakers, pp. 172-177. 14. Ibid., pp. 188-189.
CHAPTER EIGHT 1. Nabil, The Dawn-Breakers, pp. 75-76. 2. Star of
the West, The Baha'i Magazine, vol. XIV, p. 271 (Article by
Jinab-i-Avarih). 3. Nabil, The Dawn-Breakers, pp. 79-80. 4.
Ibid., p. 77. 5. Ibid., p. 192. 6. Ibid., p. 235. 7. A. L. M.
Nicolas, Siyyid `Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab, p. 255. 8. Nabil, The
Dawn-Breakers, pp. 194-197. 9. A Traveller's Narrative, p. 11. 10.
A. L. M. Nicolas, Siyyid `Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab, pp. 367-373.
11. Nabil, The Dawn-Breakers, p. 198. CHAPTER NINE 1. Nabil, The
Dawn-Breakers, p. 99; footnote, Le Bay n Persan. 2.
Tarikh-i-Jadid, translated by E. G. Browne, pp. 220-221. 3. Nabil,
The Dawn-Breakers, p. 203-215. CHAPTER TEN 1. A. L. M. Nicolas,
Siyyid `Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab, p. 242. 2. Comte de Gobineau,
Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale, pp.
131-132. 3. Journal Asiatique, 1866, tome 7, pp.367-368. 4.
Nabil, The Dawn-Breakers, p. 232, footnote (Haji
Mu'niu's-Saltanih's narrative, p. 129). 5. Ibid., pp. 230-231. 6..
Comte de Gobineau, Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l'Asie
Centrale, p. 124. 7. A Traveller's Narrative, p. 16. CHAPTER
ELEVEN 1. Nabil, The Dawn-Breakers, pp. 237-241, 243. 2. (1)
Ibid., p. 239. (2) A. L. M. Nicolas, Siyyid `Ali-Muhammad dit le
Bab, p. 375.
CHAPTER TWELVE 1. Journal Asiatique, 1866, tome 7, p. 356. 2.
Nabil, The Dawn-Breakers, p. 249. 3. A. L. M. Nicolas, Siyyid
`Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab, pp. 365-366. 4. (1) Tarikh-i-Jadid, p.
238. (2) Nabil, The Dawn-Breakers, p. 248, footnote 1. 5. A
Traveller's Narrative, Note V, p. 349. 6. Shoghi Effendi, The
World Order of Baha'u'llah, p. 100. 7. Matthew 24:42. 8. Les
Livre des Sept Preuves, translated by Nicolas, pp. 64-65. 9. (1)
Ibid., pp. 64-65. (2) Nabil, The Dawn-Breakers, p. 249, footnote
1. 10. A. L. M. Nicolas, Siyyid `Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab, pp.
365-367. 11. Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha'u'llah, p.
100. 12. Baha'u'llah, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 171. 13.
Preface to Les Livre des Sept Preuves, translated by Nicolas, pp.
12-13. 14. Nabil, The Dawn-Breakers, pp. 254-260. CHAPTER THIRTEEN
1. Nabil, The Dawn-Breakers, Introduction by Shoghi Effendi, p.
xxxiii. 2. Journal Asiatique, tome 7, p. 371. 3. Nabil, The
Dawn-Breakers, p. 303. 4. (1) Ibid., p. 70. 5. Ibid., pp.
309-311. 6. Luke 17:7. 7. Nabil, The Dawn-Breakers, p. 313-322.
8. Mark 14:62. 9. Dr. T. K. Cheyne, The Reconciliation of Races
and Religions, p. 62. 10. A Traveller's Narrative, Note M, p. 290.
11. A. L. M. Nicolas, Siyyid `Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab, pp.
239-240. 12. Nabil, The Dawn-Breakers, pp. 321-322, footnote 1.
13. Ibid., p. 323. 14. Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, pp. 81-82.
15. Nabil, The Dawn-Breakers, p. 321. 16. C. R. Markham, A
General Sketch of the History of Persia, pp. 486-487. 17. Journal
Asiatique, 1866, tome 7, pp. 867-868. 18. Nabil, The
Dawn-Breakers, p. 525. CHAPTER FOURTEEN 1. Nabil, The
Dawn-Breakers, pp. 324-329, 351. 2. A. L. M. Nicolas, Siyyid
`Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab, pp. 296-297. 3. A Traveller's
Narrative, pp. 34-35.
4. Nabil, The Dawn-Breakers, Introduction p. xxxiv. 5. E. G.
Browne, A Year Among the Persians, p. 74. 6. A Traveller's
Narrative, pp. 34-35. 7. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society,
October 1889, Art. 12, pp. 927-928. 8. A. L. M. Nicolas, Siyyid
`Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab, pp. 295-296. 9. The Tarikh-i-Jadid, pp.
49, 107-108. 10. E. G. Browne, A History of Persian Literature in
Modern Times, (A.D. 1500-1922), p. 399. 11. Nabil, The
Dawn-Breakers, pp. 358-359. 12. The Tarikh-i-Jadid, pp. 49,
106-109. 13. Nabil, The Dawn-Breakers, pp. 379-383. 14. A
Traveller's Narrative, Note F, p. 245. 15. Comte de Gobineau, Les
Religions et les Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale, p. 176. 16.
T. K. Cheyne, Reconciliation of Races and Religions, p. 83. 17.
Nabil, The Dawn-Breakers, p. 416. 18. Comte de Gobineau, Les
Religions et les Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale, p. 181. 19.
The Tarikh-i-Jadid, pp. 81-83. 20. Comte de Gobineau, Les
Religions et les Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale, pp. 181-182.
21. The Tarikh-i-Jadid, pp. 79-80. 22. Ibid., pp. 106-109. 23.
Baha'u'llah, The Kit b-i-Iqan, pp. 224-225. 24. Nabil, The
Dawn-Breakers, p. 429. 25. A. L. M. Nicolas, Siyyid `Ali-Muhammad
dit le Bab, p. 330. 26. Nabil, The Dawn-Breakers, pp. 430-432.
CHAPTER FIFTEEN 1. Memorials of the Faithful, pp. 291-298. 2. A.
L. M. Nicolas, Siyyid `Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab, pp. 273-274. 3.
Martha L. Root, Tahirih the Pure, p. 22. 4. (1) Nabil, The
Dawn-Breakers, pp. 81-82. (2) Memorials of the Faithful, pp.
291-298. 5. Nabil, The Dawn-Breakers, pp. 269-271. 6. Samandar
manuscript, p. 9. 7. Martha L. Root, Tahirih the Pure, p. 22. 8.
Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 73. 9. Martha L. Root, Tahirih
the Pure, pp. 24-25. 10. (1) Nabil, The Dawn-Breakers, p. 272. (2)
Ibid., footnote 1. 11. A Traveller's Narrative, Note Q, pp.
214-215 (or 310). 12. Nabil, The Dawn-Breakers, p. 272, footnote
1. 13. Martha L. Root, Tahirih the Pure, pp. 25-26. 14. Nabil,
The Dawn-Breakers, p. 272, footnote 2.
15. Ibid., footnote 3. 16. Martha L. Root, Tahirih the Pure, pp.
30-31. 17. (1) Ibid., pp. 32-34. (2) Nabil, The Dawn-Breakers, pp.
273-275. 18. Martha L. Root, Tahirih the Pure, p. 7. 19. Ibid.,
pp. 37-38. 20. (1) Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 74. (2)
Nabil, The Dawn-Breakers, p. 282. 21. Journal Asiatique, 1866,
tome 7, p. 474. 22. Nabil, The Dawn-Breakers, pp. 284-285. 23.
Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, pp. 32-33. 24. Nabil, The
Dawn-Breakers, pp. 288-298. 25. Martha L. Root, Tahirih the Pure,
pp. 62-63. 26. Sir Francis Younghusband, The Gleam, pp. 202-203.
27. Comte de Gobineau, Les Religions et les Philosophies dans
l'Asie Centrale, p. 150. 28. A. L. M. Nicolas, Siyyid
`Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab, pp. 446-447. 29. Nabil, The
Dawn-Breakers, pp. 621-629. 30. Martha L. Root, Tahirih the Pure,
pp. 68-69. 31. Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 75. 32. Lord
Curzon, Persia and the Persian Question, vol I, p. 501. 33. Shoghi
Effendi, God Passes By, p. 76. 34. Dr. T. K. Cheyne, The
Reconciliation of Races and Religions, pp. 114-115. 35. Nabil, The
Dawn-Breakers, p.285, footnote 2, (Memorials of the Faithful, p.
306). 36. Martha L. Root, Tahirih the Pure, p. 77, footnote 1.
CHAPTER SIXTEEN 1. The Tarikh-i-Jadid, p. 115. 2. A. L. M.
Nicolas, Siyyid `Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab, p. 390. 3. Nabil, The
Dawn-Breakers, pp. 465-475. 4. A. L. M. Nicolas, Siyyid
`Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab, p. 391. 5. The Tarikh-i-Jadid, p. 117.
6. Nabil, The Dawn-Breakers, p. 476. 7. A. L. M. Nicolas, Siyyid
`Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab, p. 393. 8. Ibid., p. 406. 9. Ibid.,
p. 407. 10. Nabil, The Dawn-Breakers, p. 647, footnote; pp.
481-496. 11. A. L. M. Nicolas, Siyyid `Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab,
p. 408. 12. A Traveller's Narrative, Note H, pp. 259-260. 13.
Baha'u'llah, The Kit b-i-Iqan, p. 188. CHAPTER SEVENTEEN 1. Nabil,
The Dawn-Breakers, pp. 445-450.
2. The Tarikh-i-Jadid, p. 254. 3. Nabil, The Dawn-Breakers, pp.
449-453. 4. (1) Nabil, The Dawn-Breakers, pp. 453-455. (2) A
Traveller's Narrative, Note B, pp. 212-213; 215-216. 5. Nabil, The
Dawn-Breakers, pp. 455-464. 6. A Traveller's Narrative, Note B,
p. 216-217. CHAPTER EIGHTEEN 1. Nabil, The Dawn-Breakers, pp.
504-505. 2. A Traveller's Narrative, p. 3. 3. Baha'u'llah, Epistle
to the Son of the Wolf, pp. 151-159. 4. Shoghi Effendi, The World
Order of Baha'u'llah, p. 100. 5. Dr. T. K. Cheyne, The
Reconciliation of Races and Religions, pp. 65-66. 6. Baha'u'llah,
Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 160. 7. Nabil, The
Dawn-Breakers, pp. 12-13. 8. Isaiah 54-5. 9. Nabil, The
Dawn-Breakers, pp. 8-9. 10. Ibid., p 72. 11. Ibid., pp. 41-42;
footnote 2. 12. Ibid., pp. 227-228. 13. Ibid., pp. 228-229. 14.
Ibid., 433. 15. Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 28. 16. Ibid.,
pp. 189-190. 17. Nabil, The Dawn-Breakers, pp. 29-33; 593-594. 18.
Ibid., p. 285. 19. Ibid., p. 86; 96. 20. Ibid., pp. 105-106. 21.
Ibid., pp. 126-127. 22. Ibid., p. 292. 23. Ibid., pp. 341-349.
24. Ibid., pp. 293-295. 25. Dr. T. K. Cheyne, The Reconciliation
of Races and Religions, p. 75. 26. Nabil, The Dawn-Breakers, p.
298. 27. Ibid., pp. 284-286; 299; 460. 28. Ibid., p. 122. 29.
Ibid., p. 465. 30. The Tarikh-i-Jadid, p. 115. 31. Nabil, The
Dawn-Breakers, p. 432. 32. Ibid., p. 536. 33. Matthew 10:21. 34.
Qur'an 80:34. 35. Nabil, The Dawn-Breakers, pp. 552-554. 36.
Ibid., p. 537. 37. A. L. M. Nicolas, Siyyid `Ali-Muhammad dit le
Bab, p. 335.
38. Nabil, The Dawn-Breakers, p. 572-573. 39. Comte de Gobineau,
Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale, pp.
200-201. 40. A. L. M. Nicolas, Siyyid `Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab,
p. 350. 41. Nabil, The Dawn-Breakers, p. 561, footnote. 42.
Ibid., p. 323, footnote; p. 539. 43. Ibid., p. 70. 44. Ibid., pp.
93-94. 45. Ibid., p. 123. 46. Ibid., Introduction by Shoghi
Effendi, pp. xxx-xxxi. 47. Baha'u'llah, Epistle to the Son of the
Wolf, p. 162. 48. Ibid., pp. 141, 152. 49. Nabil, The
Dawn-Breakers, p. 50. 50. Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 25.
51. Baha'u'llah, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 154. 52.
Nabil, The Dawn-Breakers, pp. 371-373. 53. Baha'u'llah, Epistle to
the Son of the Wolf, pp. 156-157. 54. Shoghi Effendi, The World
Order of Baha'u'llah, p. 101. CHAPTER NINETEEN 1. Les Livre des
Sept Preuves, translated by Nicolas, pp. 54-60. 2. A. L. M.
Nicolas, Siyyid `Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab, p. 387. 3. Nabil, The
Dawn-Breakers, p. 463. 4. Comte de Gobineau, Les Religions et les
Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale, pp. 210-213. 5. Ibid. 6.
Nabil, The Dawn-Breakers, pp. 500-504. 7. Ibid., pp. 321-322; and
Note 4. 8. Ibid., pp. 506-507. 9. Dr. T. K. Cheyne, The
Reconciliation of Races and Religions, p. 185. 10. Nabil, The
Dawn-Breakers, pp. 306-308. 11. Dr. T. K. Cheyne, The
Reconciliation of Races and Religions, pp. 8-9. 12. Nabil, The
Dawn-Breakers, pp. 507-512. 13. Comte de Gobineau, Les Religions
et les Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale, p. 220. 14. Journal
Asiatique, 1866, tome 7, p.378. 15. Nabil, The Dawn-Breakers, pp.
512-514. 16. M. C. Huart, La Religion de Bab, pp. 3-4. 17. A.
L. M. Nicolas, Siyyid `Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab, p. 375. 18. A.
L. M. Nicolas, Siyyid `Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab, pp. 203-204, 376.
19. Luke 22:42. 20. M. C. Huart, La Religion de Bab, pp. 3-4.
21. Nabil, The Dawn-Breakers, p. 518. 22. A. L. M. Nicolas,
Siyyid `Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab, p. 377. 23. Nabil, The
Dawn-Breakers, pp. 520-521.
24. Comte de Gobineau, Les Religions et les Philosophies dans
l'Asie Centrale, pp. 207-209. 25. Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By,
p. 83. 26. Ibid., p. 83-85. 27. Amos 8:9. 28. (1) `Abdu'l-Baha,
Some Answered Questions, p. 65. (2) Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By,
pp. 53-54. 29. Nabil, The Dawn-Breakers, Introduction, pp.
xxxi-xxxii. 30. Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, pp. 55-57. 31.
`Abdu'l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, pp. 30-31. 32. Shoghi
Effendi, God Passes By, p. 56. 33. Ibid. 34. M. J. Balteau, Le
Babisme, p. 28. 35. E. G. Browne, article: "The Babis of Persia,"
Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1899, p. 933. 36. (1) Shoghi
Effendi, God Passes By, p. 55. (2) Nabil, The Dawn-Breakers, p.
516, footnote. 37. Ibid., pp. 516-517, footnote. 38. A. L. M.
Nicolas, Siyyid `Ali-Muhammad dit le Bab, pp. 203-204, 376. 39.
Nabil, The Dawn-Breakers, p. 522. 40. Comte de Gobineau, Les
Religions et les Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale, pp. 224-225.
41. Nabil, The Dawn-Breakers, pp. 651-654. 42. Mirza Abu'l-Fadl,
Fara'id, pp. 50-51. APPENDIX, NOTE ONE 1. The Baha'i World, vol.
V, 1932-1934, p. 604. 2. James Henry Foreman, Story of Prophecy,
pp. 310-311. 3. James Russell Lowell, "The Crisis," (1843). 4.
Job 38:35. 5. Numbers 23:23. 6. Matthew 24:3, 13-14. 7. Year
Book and Guide to East Africa, p. 44, (Ed. Robert Hale Ltd.,
London, 1953). 8. Luke 21:7. 9. Ibid., 21:24, 27. 10.
Encyclopedia Americana, vol. 16, p. 31 (1944 Edition). 11. Shoghi
Effendi, God Passes By, Introduction by George Townshend, p. IV.
12. Revelation 11:2. 13. James Henry Foreman, Story of Prophecy,
p. 88. 14. Matthew 24:15. 15. (1) Daniel, 9:24, 25. (2)
`Abdu'l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, p. 43. 16. Daniel 8:13, 14.
17. Bible Reading, edited by Review and Herald Publishing Co.,
Battle Creek, Michigan, U.S.A. p. 94. 18. Daniel 8:2, 7:13, 14.
19. Jeremiah 49:38. 20. Nabil, The Dawn-Breakers, p. 49. 21.
Jeremiah 5:21. 22. Matthew 13:11-16. 23. Ibid., 17:10; Mark 9:11.
24. Matthew 11:14, 15. 25. John 1:21. 26. Luke 1:15-17. 27.
Matthew 17:10-13. 28. Ibid., 11:18. 29. Daniel 12:4; 8-9. 30.
Isaiah 29:11-12. 31. I Corinthians 4:5. 32. II Peter 1:19-21. 33.
Tablets of `Abdu'l-Baha, vol. III, p. 692. 34. Revelation 5:6, 9.
35. Daniel 7:10; 13-14. 36. Isaiah 62:2 and 65:15. 37.
Revelation 2:17;3:3, 12; 16:15. APPENDIX, NOTE TWO 1. John 7:12.
2. Ibid., 6:66. 3. Matthew 24:23-24. 4. II Thesselonians 2:3.
5. II Peter 2:1-2. 6. Amos 8:11-12. 7. II Peter 3:3-4. 8. Mark
13:35-36. 9. Ibid., 13:37. 10. Matthew 24:48-51. 11. Ibid.,
7:15-20. 12. Baha'i World Faith, p. 440. 13. Shoghi Effendi, The
World Order of Baha'u'llah, p. 65. 14. J. E. Esselmont,
Baha'u'llah and the New Era, p. 147. 15. Gleanings from the
Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 101. 16. Ibid., p. 95. 17. J. E.
Esselmont, Baha'u'llah and the New Era, p. 164. 18. Shoghi
Effendi, The Advent of Divine Justice, p. 22. 19. (1) Ibid., pp.
21-22. (2) Baha'u'llah, Tablet of Tar z t, Tar z 3-4. 20.
`Abdu'l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 16. 21. `Abdu'l-Baha, The
Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 199.
22. Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 285. 23. Baha'i
World Faith, p. 189. 24. Zephaniah 3:8-9. 25. Shoghi Effendi, The
World Order of Baha'u'llah, p. 204. 26. C. C. Hurst, Heredity, the
Ascent of Man, pp. 32, 35, 131. 27. Arthur H. Compton, The Freedom
of Man, pp. 121, 126. 28. Washington Star, Article 12, 1936. 29.
Baha'i World Faith, p. 195. 30. A Traveller's Narrative,
Introduction by E. G. Browne, p. XXXIX. APPENDIX, NOTE THREE 1.
Sir James Jeans, Through Space and Time, pp. 102, 154. 2.
Encyclopedia Americana, vol. III, 1944 Ed., p. 691. 3. Shoghi
Effendi, The Promised Day is Come, pp. 40-41. APPENDIX, NOTE FOUR
1. Nabil, The Dawn-Breakers, p. 322. 2. Genesis 17:18, 20. 3.
Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 94. 4. Isaiah 11:1, 10, 12. 5.
Ibid., 11:11. APPENDIX, NOTE FIVE 1. Shoghi Effendi, God Passes
By, pp. 273-274. 2. Ibid., p. 276. 3. The Baha'i World, vol. XII,
1950-1954, p. 225. APPENDIX, NOTE SIX 1. Micah 7:2-4. 2. Ibid.,
7:7, 9, 10. 3. Ibid., 4:10. 4. Ibid., 7:14. 5. Ibid., 7:12. 6.
Ibid., 7:15. 7. Hosea 2:15. 8. Isaiah 65:10. 9. Ibid., 35:2. 10.
Ibid., 35:1. 11. Ibid., 60:11-13. 12. Psalms 48:2. 13. Ezekiel
43:2, 4. 14. Ibid., 1:27-28. 15. Matthew 16:27.
16. Mark 12:1-9. 17. Shoghi Effendi, The Promised Day is Come,
p. 106. APPENDIX, NOTE SEVEN 1. John 10:16. 2. Zechariah, 14:9.
3. Habbakuk 2:14. 4. Revelation 21:1, 23. 5. Isaiah 4:1. 6.
Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, pp. 94-97. 7. Ibid., pp. 138-139.
8. Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 316. 9. Shoghi
Effendi, The Promised Day is Come, p. 106. 10. Baha'u'llah, Epistle
to the Son of the Wolf, pp. 131-132. 11. Shoghi Effendi, The
Promised Day is Come, p. 110. 12. The Hidden Words of Baha'u'llah,
pp. 51-52. EPILOGUE 1. Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of
Baha'u'llah, p. 156; pp. 21-22; p. 169. 8 Intentionally Blank Pages
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